Saturday, October 20, 2007

Musings: The Sleeping Giant Wakes

It was very quiet this morning, perhaps because the air is heavy and the clouds are thick. But as the sun rose it illuminated Nounou ridge — the Sleeping Giant — in a sparkling halo of gold.

I’ve been thinking about the Giant ever since I heard Molokai activist Walter Ritte speak on Thursday night. He began his talk by applauding the people of Kauai for stopping the Superferry, saying that when he heard the news, he thought, “the Giant is waking up.”

Indeed, it seems to be. I was struck by how many attended the GMO taro talk; there must have been 300 people in the audience — a turnout that Ritte said was 10 times greater than he’d encountered in similar talks else around the state.

A lot of Kauai folks do care what happens to this island, and even though the odds are stacked against us in trying to get the state to make Superferry comply with environmental law — rather than writing a new one to exempt it — we’ve been empowered by the issue.

So yes, the Giant is waking up, and saying: “Fee fi fo fum, I smell a corrupt Administration.”

To refresh my memory on the Giant legend, I thumbed through Frederick Wichman book, “Kauai Ancient Place Names and Their Stories,” and found two accounts of the ancient story.

In the first, Puni the giant was sleeping when a fleet of war canoes from Oahu attacked. His friends, the Menehune, tried to wake him up, poking and prodding him to no avail. Finally, they threw huge rocks on his stomach, which bounced off and landed in the sea near the war canoes, prompting them to turn and sail home. But in the process, Puni died — several of the rocks they’d thrown had fallen into his mouth as he snored, choking him to death.

In another version, a giant named Nunui was well-loved by everyone. He created deep holes wherever he walked, which the people planted in bananas, and helped the ruling chief gather ohia logs and large stones to build the Kukui heiau. But after a huge feast, Nunui laid down to rest and slumbers still to this day.

So now that the Giant is waking up, or coming back to life, what will it do? We’ve already seen and heard the rumblings when Superferry entered Nawiliwili Harbor and Gov. Lingle came to Lihue.

And tomorrow, it’s likely to be roused again when Senate committee members hold a 2 p.m. “informational briefing” on the Superferry bailout bill at King K’s school cafeteria in Hanamaulu. House members couldn’t be bothered to visit the Neighbor Islands at all. Folks will have two minutes each to make a comment. I know it’s a short amount of time, and awfully short notice, but lawmakers are in a hurry to save Superferry.

I’m sure the TV stations will be there, hoping to capture another installment of “Kauai Gone Wild,” but it’s hard to predict what will happen, other than Sen. Gary Hooser will get large applause

We know he’s been helping us. As for Sen. President Colleen Hanabusa, well, that’s another story. She’s already sold us down the river, along with most of the Oahu representatives who have essentially rolled over and played (brain) dead, giving Lingle and Superferry everything they want.

Here’s a summary. First, the bill presents the court decisions as flawed and the ferry as in the best interest of the state, even delivering “fresh food products at a lower cost for all” and coming to everyone’s rescue in a disaster.

It calls on the state to conduct an EIS on the harbor projects done to accommodate the ferry and its operations, and says that document should include a review of the ferry’s secondary impacts.

It also calls for an oversight committee — administered by the DOT — to study the ferry's operations, and calls for a state audit into how the project managed to get an exemption from the Lingle Administration in the first place.

The proposed law supercedes the need for an operating permit from the state Public Utilities Commission and any county permits or approvals.

And finally, it gives Lingle the power to set the conditions intended to mitigate the ferry’s environmental and social impacts.

You can read the draft legislation for yourself at the Capitol website — if you can stand the stink emitted by this giant pile of shibai.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Walter Ritte is an inspiration and the people on Kauai are amazing too. I have not met him but heard him speak often at meetings filmed by Akaku our public access channel on Maui. When Kauai protested and stopped the superferry I immediate remembered the demonstration that kept the NCL cruise ship off Molokai by doing just about the same thing. I also thought about Rainbow Warrior and Green Peace and their struggle to save the whales. You are definitely in good company over there.

Kauai is special too.Since I visit Haena once or twice a year I am aware of the hundreds of people who crowd Ke'e beach and I have witnessed the decline of the reefs at Tunnels. I've seen people rescued from Ke'e, and have experienced the turbulent sea along the north coast and know of the souls lost there. It can be a dangerious place for the novice. Too few lifeguards and far to many guests means trouble.I know this is true of many places in Hawaii but the ferry will bring even more.

If the state or county can not provide for the safety of their guests should they recruit even more? If the state will not build a pump out station at Ma'alaea (Maui) harbor does it make sense to allow tour boats to dump their toilets as they leave the snorkel reef? If Kahalui harbor is so congested now should we add a 350 ft. ferry to the mix. If our aquifers are being over-pumped now why is Makena being developed? And the same goes for Honolua. We all know the answer to that: too much off shore money coupled with the historic, blatant mismanagement of our island resources. GMO crops fit snugly into that picture. The ferry does too.

It's time for our electorate and the officials we elect to step up to the plate and acknowledge all the damage being done to all the islands and to abide by the laws that help to mitigate some of that damage.

I wonder if I had Gov LL for one day here on Maui and if I took her to all see all the scary stuff and all the piers and docks falling apart and all the kaka on the reefs and the crumbling schools and roads and finally the baby whales, would it make a difference? Draft 7 is a constitutional embarrassment.