Venus shone intermittently and stars were scarce when Koko and I set out this morning under a cloudy sky that was slow to brighten.
Dodging garbage cans, and the garbage truck, we made it to one of my favorite places — the thicket of eucalyptus and ironwood — and I felt that primal, electric excitement induced by gusty wind in the darkness. Along the way, an occasional waft of coffee, toast, a cigarette in a passing car, mixed with the peppery scents of blossoms I couldn’t identify and the musky-sweet smell of hinano — the phallic-shaped, ivory-colored hala flower.
I’ve been noticing that shades of yellow and white seem to be the predominant flower colors this time of year: snowbush gleams brightly even in the pre-dawn shadows, and bursts of gold cats claw interrupt the green foliage along the road. I stopped on Kawaihau Road the other day and picked a bouquet of orange daisies growing wild.
Neighbor Andy, with a pack of four dogs anxious to get on with their walk, paused long enough to say that cars had been vandalized on this street, too, and mailboxes, so trashing cars isn’t unique to my pending new neighborhood in Anahola. And I saw two vehicles that had been graffiti-tagged, their windows smashed, along the Pooku stables road in Princeville yesterday.
And they say there's nothing for the youth to do on Kauai....
Passed farmer Jerry on his way to work — like many farmers, he has a regular job in addition to his earthy passion — and he slowed to say, “We going miss you!” He reads this blog "to keep up with the sunrises and weather reports, follow that great cosmic wheel. I don’t care about the politics.”
Yet I know he’s deeply involved in politics, albeit reluctantly, much like myself. You don’t really want to immerse yourself in that muck, not when there’s neat stuff that’s alive to capture your attention, but you can't ignore it, either.
So, as promised, here’s my rough tally of what Hawaii Superferry has cost the State of Hawaii — aka, the taxpayers — thus far. And we’re just talking dollars here, not aggravation and grief.
First, there’s the $40 million for the harbor construction projects — and untold millions more are pending so the ferry can dock at Kawaihae, on the Big Island. Then there’s $1 million for the EIS to study the impact of these harbor “improvements” — the barges and ramps that were built solely to benefit Hawaii Superferry, and to its specifications, and wouldn’t be needed if the vessel weren’t running.
Legal fees are another big cost that I haven’t been able to fully calculate, but we can get a general idea from Superferry claims that it was spending $100,000 week during the month-long Maui trial. Of course, Superferry attorney Lisa Munger probably earns more than Attorney General Mark Bennett, but Deputy AG William Wynhoff has also been working this case, and others behind the scenes.
The state may have to pick up the full tab of Isaac Hall’s legal fees, too, if Superferry can worm its way out of the assessment by claiming it had been acting under the advice of the state — a tactic that Munger already hinted at — while fighting Hall’s appeal of the constitutionality ruling will also cost some money.
Another heavy expense that I haven’t been able to totally tally is “harbor security” provided by the Coast Guard, police and DOCARE officers, but we do know there was an emergency appropriation of $18,936.33 to buy extra riot gear. And if demonstrations occur when the boat returns to Kahului and Nawiliwili, those costs will keep climbing.
The special session cost somewhere between about $30,000, near as I can figure, which paid the airfare and per diem of Neighbor Island legislators, and also to send the Senate committee chairs out to hear testimony off Oahu.
Then there was the expense of flying Gov. Lingle and members of her Administration and the Coast Guard over to Kauai for the infamous town hall meeting, as well as overtime to pay KPD and DOCARE officers providing security there.
The cost of providing transportation and per diem for the ferry oversight committee is another expense that taxpayers are still facing, while the pending audit of the Administration’s decision to exempt the Superferry harbor work from an EA likely will be covered by the state auditor’s existing budget.
Still, the audit will increase that agency’s workload, just as Superferry stuff has placed an extra burden on the governor’s office, legislators and their staff, and the Departments of Agriculture, Transportation and Land and Natural Resources.
If the ferry goes belly up, much of its debt will be covered by the federal loan guarantees. But state taxpayers will have little to show for the big investment they’ve made in a private corporation that has promised so much, but so far, delivered nothing.