Friday, November 2, 2007

Musings: Mending Fences

All the celestial bodies were obscured when Koko and I set out this morning, but still there was enough light to showcase flat-topped Waialeale, up to its neck in clouds.

By the end of our walk, which included pleasant exchanges with farmer Jerry, who stopped on his way to work with a tip for this blog, and my neighbor Andy, who was walking four dogs, the clouds had all piled up in the mountains, clearing the way for a pink and gold sunrise.

I’ve been thinking about whether it’s possible for Hawaii Superferry, Gov. Linda Lingle and folks here on Kauai to have more pleasant exchanges than we have in the past.

On last evening’s “Town Square” radio program, Sen. Gary Hooser noted he has urged HSF to engage in third-party dispute resolution with the people of Kauai, perhaps with the help of the Sen. Spark Matsunaga Peace Institute.

It’s a good idea, but Big Island journalist Hunter Bishop, another guest on the show, expressed some skepticism that Superferry would participate, asking what incentive it had for doing so.

The company could be motivated by economic concerns; after all, it’s not such great publicity to have your ship greeted with angry hordes and SWAT teams, and one Oahu caller wondered whether it was safe to travel on the vessel.

But even though Senate President Colleen Hanabusa also urged Superferry to mend fences with the Neighbor Islands, it’s difficult to know from the company’s public comments whether it will be motivated to take such steps now that it’s gotten the yellow light to go.

On the one hand, we have Tig Krekel, the vice chairman of J.F. Lehman & Co., the Superferry's main investor. When asked by the Advertiser how the company planned to handle resistance on the Neighbor Islands, he responded:

"Do not confuse a very loud minority with speaking for all the people of Kauai. We have received countless communications from Kauai residents about how embarrassed they are and that the loud minority of activists, not environmentalists — but activists — do not speak for them.

"So we're hopeful that that situation will calm down."

And on the other, we have this Advertiser report:

John Garibaldi, Superferry's president and chief executive officer, said executives would do community outreach on Maui and Kaua'i to address some of the intense feelings against the project that have surfaced in the two months since the state Supreme Court ruled an environmental review was necessary.

"I hope they would give us a chance," Garibaldi said of the critics. "I think it's something that if they look to all the work that has been done, the leadership we have done — and they take the time to understand that — that we are very, very caring about the environment.

"That's been a concern about us, but we're a group of individuals who started this company who live here in Hawai'i. So we care as much about the environment, about the way of life, about Hawai'i, as they do. And hopefully, together we can open communications, frank discussions, and come to an understanding that maybe not everyone is happy with but allows us to provide this service."

They haven’t asked my advice, but if they did, I’d tell Tig he’d best not hope things will calm down on their own, and it’s a mistake to underestimate the size and determination of the opposition on Kauai.

Then I’d tell John to drop the BS and the platitudes. If the company was truly “very, very caring about the environment,” it would have done the EIS from the get-go, rather than lobby hard to weasel out of it. And if it really wanted to have open communications and frank discussions, it would have sat down with the Neighbor Islanders and had that chat a long time ago.

The Advertiser also reports today:

Lingle said she believes she can help bring people together on Superferry but could use some help. She said she plans to be on Maui and Kaua'i — where protesters against Superferry have been organizing — in the coming month.

"I think I have a very important role to play, anytime there's a leadership issue for the community," she said.

But she added: "I think the faith-based community is also very important here."

Lingle also said she believes harbor security has been improved since protesters on Kaua'i blocked the ferry from Nawiliwili Harbor in August. "I'm certain that the Coast Guard will be properly prepared in both places," she said.

Again, Lingle didn’t seek my counsel, but I would tell her she is definitely NOT the one to bring people together on this issue, since she played such a prominent role in tearing them apart. And so long as she’s still talking about harbor security — aka “Unified Command” crackdown — she is not going to get a warm welcome from those who need soothing.

Perhaps she should time her visit to Kauai to coincide with the Superferry’s arrival, so she can assess the situation for herself — and call off her dogs if they start to get vicious.

Gary made another good point when he said Lingle and Superferry need to acknowledge that “things have gone wrong.”

Saying “I’m sorry” won’t mend all the rifts, but it could start the healing process. So far, however, Lingle has refused to acknowledge that she or her Administration made any mistakes in this debacle.

If she fancies herself a good leader, perhaps she could begin by showing some accountability and humility. Otherwise, I’m sorry to say, she’s likely to be met with more heckling and boos on Kauai — unless she carefully chooses her audience in the manner of President Bush.


Anonymous said...

Hey, Joan--You are sayin' it like it is.

Anonymous said...

I read a good portion of 80 or so "comments" following the Advertiser article yesterday to a get sense of where the readers were on news of the ferry sailing. There was plenty of go ferry go, but more disturbing was a complete lack(2 or 3) of any reference to the rule of law only a resounding reference to majority rules.

Environmentalists were characterized as troublemakers and I continue to suspect the silent majority(that stack of yes votes) is the "for profit" coalition. The other silent majority is so disillusioned with politics they pay very little mind. The "whatever" crowd campaign bosses can ignore because they don't vote but go along with the other majority because it doesn't require much thought.

If your concern for healing is for the residents that truly worry about broken laws and broken reefs and for the kids that know something came down here that is wrong and for the radical elements that may be hurt, I agree. But I also feel these are the ones who will move forward eyes open, with caution, to be heard again. My concern is for the majority rules crowd , the mob rule, as you call it contingent. How do they come to believe that this planet is there's to use up and then throw away? How do we heal that broken concept? Are they moving to Mars next month because the silent contingent bought it to subdivide? How do they come to believe the majority trumps all is democracy? Where to start?

Anonymous said...

Joan, Mahalo for voicing your thoughts about Lingle so eloquently. I agree with you and I don't trust her one darn bit period. No way.

Anonymous said...

The silent majority who is claiming that they support the ferry are probably the most ill informed folks out there about the ferry issues. Heck, I don't even think they know what an EIS is. Had I not become involved with Alii Highway here in Kona back in 1998, only 9 years ago, I'd be part of that group too.

Anonymous said...

Don't tell me you're not 100% for Alii Highway!?!

Anonymous said...

I just wish the compromise bill had stipulated that Fukunaga and Garibaldi must resign before it takes effect. Who knows if their replacements would be any better, but it would be hard to do worse--and it would show some consequences for failing to be responsible.

Anonymous said...

New highways perpetuate our addiction to cars. No, I am not 100% for Alii Highway but if it were reserved exclusively for transit, bicycles and walking, I would tolerate it alot better.

Anonymous said... is my understanding that Barry Fukunaga takes his orders directly from Lingle. Yep. So I don't think any decisions that Fukunaga made regarding the SF belonged to him entirely and resigning would not make it any better because Lingle would simply hire a new puppet.

Anonymous said...

Better and more roads are needed for the inevitable car increase brought by the equally inevitable development.

You're actually argueing against infrastructure improvement....which most argue for and decry development absent infrastructure.

Come on...stop tilting at windmills. An island of 4,038 sq mi and 153K population NEEDS cars and roads.

DJ TRAX said...

On Sunday, October 21st, a group of Hawaii Senators came to
Kauai for a briefing on the Hawaii Superferry special
legislative session ... LightLine Communications via Hoike
Community Television will present 2 and a 1/2 hours of video
from that day featuring articulate, passionate, essential
testimony offered in hopes of lawmakers doing the 'right
thing.' Tune in at the following times and check local
listings next week as additional program slots become
available. Enjoy.

Hoike Channel 52 from 9:30 am to 12 noon

Monday Nov. 5th Thursday Nov. 8th Monday Nov. 12th

Anonymous said...

Joan, Great commentary, always! Come and observe us at Nawiliwili on Sunday, starting at noon. We shall celebrate our last days of Freedom in the harbor before Lingle's Unified Gestapo SS robots come to arrest us for the crime of caring for the `Aina. We need some honest and objective journalism to counter the lies and distortions from Lingle, the ferry people and the Superbiased Honolulu media. Shame on all of them. The self-righteous don't have the integrity or the guts to do Ho`oponopono. Blessings, fred

Anonymous said...

Yeah, yeah, the car addicts will always sing the same song (more and better roads are needed) even though the research says (and what we can see on Oahu) that more roads and more lanes will only "induce" people to drive more. The thing about this need to have "more and better" roads is that most people never really learn from their mistakes or don't give a rip about the future consequences of their need to have MORE NOW. Isn't that sickening?

Anonymous said...

So, people are supposed to take public transport, walk or bike.

And their should be peace on earth, an end to poverty/hunger, and we should all just get along.

How are people who need to carry things (kayaks, scuba equip, lots of groceries, etc) supposed to get around? Will public transport allow all this stuff in? Will it get to the hard-to-reach shore dive locations and other locations people want to go.

Abandoning the land of "wishes" for a moment, what is your idea of a real-world do-able plan for making this that would be embraced by the general public?

Just don't build the roads? That's not a winner, as currently shown.

Anonymous said...

Roads and the parking lots that come with them take up tons of land. It wastes land, get it? Look at all the mess "more and better roads" have caused us on Oahu or on your continent for that matter. What to do with a kayak? put it on rollers and strap to the back of your bike. The problem with Americans is that they ruin everything they come in contact with. Please do Hawaii a big favor and keep away from those hard to reach shore dive spots.