Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Musings: David vs. Goliath

The sky was a lovely shade of lavender this morning as thick clouds were illuminated before dawn by the sun, which rose in a blaze of fiery red. It seemed as if rain was imminent, as I could see squalls forming in the northeast, but they blew toward the mountains instead.

Seven Kauai residents arrested Aug. 27 on misdemeanor charges in the Superferry protests thought that legal proceedings were imminent, but they blew on out of the courtroom yesterday instead. Seems the prosecutor’s office had failed to file charges against them in a timely manner.

Still, they had to take time out of their lives to show up in court yesterday, suffer through the anxiety and uncertainty that always accompanies appearing before a judge and endure the ordeal of being arrested, booked and posting bail. And if they hadn’t shown up, a warrant would have been issued for contempt of court.

The system can mess with you like that, then let you go.

They aren’t completely off the hook, eiither: charges could be filed in the future, but it’s unlikely. The next batch of arrested protestors have their first court date at 2 p.m. next Tuesday.

Meanwhile, lobbyists for the Supeferry handed legislators a poll that reportedly shows 72 percent of respondents (300 were polled across the state) think the Legislature should intervene if the courts say the ferry can’t run while the Environmental Assessment is being.

Whether the poll is legit — it was, after all, conducted by “QMark Research, owned by the marketing firm Anthology Marketing Group, which is handling the Superferry account through its public relations firm, McNeil Wilson Communications,” according to a report by Richard Borreca in the Star-Bulletin — doesn’t matter.

It gives timid lawmakers something to grab on to as they prepare to put politics above the rule of law.

The poll, and the intense lobbying efforts waged by Superferry, also bring to light another recurring theme of environmental and land use conflicts in Hawaii. The corporate interests always have big money to spend on lobbyists, lawyers and public relations firms.

Those who oppose them, on the other hand, are just your average, everyday citizens who somehow find the time to attend public hearings and demonstrations, write letters and fly on their own dime to Honolulu to testify. Many of the lawyers who represent them work pro bono, or for greatly reduced fees.

If it looks like a David vs. Goliath scenario, that’s because it is. And in the case of the Superferry, the corporate interest also is being backed by all the resources of the State of Hawaii and U.S. Coast Guard.

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