Monday, September 24, 2007

Musings: Lessons Learned

I was listening to Kaiulani’s sovereignty show (one of my personal favorites) on KKCR this morning when she played Queen’s “We are the Champions” to celebrate the citizenry’s success in keeping the Superferry away.

The mood among many on Kauai is indeed jubilant. Finally, after years of having the mayor, county planning commissioners and the state ignore residents’ concerns about overdevelopment and inadequate infrastructure, people feel like they have some power.

Obviously, the hue and cry over the Superferry goes way beyond the vessel itself. The Advertiser carried a story yesterday that delved into that topic more deeply. And no, Jan TenBruggencate didn’t come out of retirement to write it. He submitted it more than a month ago, but the editors only now saw fit to run it, with reportage added by Kevin Dayton. It seems Maui and the Big Island are experiencing the same growth pains that we are, and it's difficult for some Oahu folks to relate.

Mayor Baptiste, however, may finally be getting the message. He commented in an editorial published in TGI on Friday that “the issue has become the lightning rod to which all our frustrations and concerns are being focused.”

Whether he’ll take that message to heart and act upon it, is another matter. Don’t forget, he appointed the planning director and commissioners who approved many of the more objectionable projects over the past five years, and his time in office has been characterized by a distinct lack of leadership and vision.

If the Superferry brouhaha served any purpose, besides turning back the boat, it’s to remind folks that it does makes a difference when they stand up, speak up and show up. As one astute observer noted, the important point wasn’t the number of people who turned out for each Superferry event, but that the size of the crowd kept growing.