Friday, December 28, 2007

Musings: Sorry Situations

It was hard to tell the dark clouds from the dark sky this morning, but Koko and I set out anyway, trusting we wouldn’t get wet, and we didn’t.

The wind had Koko all amped up and she was 12 pounds of pure muscle pulling hard at the leash. Ran into Andy and although he was in a hurry to take house guests house-bound by the rain for a week to the airport, he stopped long enough to give Koko a new collar as a Christmas gift. There was a red one he fancied, but it was made for a cat, and he didn’t want to risk causing a species identity crisis. The royal blue one he chose instead looks smashing with her dark brown coat.

Bear, aka Dufus, a lumbering, slobbery brown dog whose back end doesn’t quite match the front, joined our walk. But he soon wore out his welcome after beefing with a three-legged dog along the road, chasing a couple of trucks and then tripping me from behind, sending me sprawling onto the street. Aside from some muddiness, no harm was done, but I was glad to drop him at his house and say bye-bye.

That’s sort of like what the Superferry did when it dropped passengers and motorists off at Kahului Harbor on Tuesday, and it hasn’t been back since. Problem is, most of those folks don’t live on Maui, so they’re left trying to figure out how to get themselves and their cars back to Oahu, while the ferry remains idled in Honolulu.

Superferry officials say service has been cancelled for three days running, and Saturday looks sketchy, too, because of high seas. But others speculate that low passenger loads — so low it’s not worth burning the fuel to run the thing — are the real reason. Brad Parsons noted in a comment on yesterday’s post that the Advertiser was reporting passenger figures for a day the ferry didn’t even run.

“The approximate number of passengers and vehicles each way for yesterday's [Wednesday’s] trips was 250 passengers and 57 vehicles for the O'ahu-to-Maui trip, and 200 passengers and 50 vehicles for the Maui-to-O'ahu trip.” the article reports.

But even if there was an error, and they were really reporting Tuesday’s figures, there’s a huge disparity between those numbers and the count Brad reported for that day: “18 cars and 55 people got off the ferry at Maui, and 48 cars and two motorcycles boarded for the return trip to Oahu.” He also noted the article’s use of “approximate” figures. It seems if the ferry’s selling tickets, they ought to have an exact count, but since the article doesn’t attribute the numbers to any source, we don’t know where they came from.

All I can say is the Superferry is a PR person’s nightmare. Sick, stranded and non-existent passengers are tough to spin. Not that I’m feeling sorry for Lori Abe or anything. I’m sure she’s well compensated for her misery.

I was feeling kind of sorry for the arborist who called in to KKCR yesterday afternoon and said he’d been asked quite some time ago to do a full assessment of the infamous Koloa monkeypod trees, some of which apparently have a New Year’s date with the chainsaw.

He said he checked every tree on the site where the shopping center is planned and recommended seven be removed because they were “structurally unsound” and “beyond an acceptable limit of liability.” At least one, if he recalled correctly, was among the 20 that are due to be cut down or relocated to make way for construction, prompting several demonstrations and plans for a potluck block party and candlelight vigil tomorrow night.

Although his recommendation was made well before the issue became so controversial, the seven trees were never removed. He, and his young children, were worried about what might happen to him if the land owner now asked him to go down and take out the seven trees in question.

It was a good question, a good point, and a good reminder that every issue does have many sides and angles.

Free Speech Radio News last night broadcast a report “On Being Hawaiian and Homeless” that covered the homeless problem on Oahu from a number of angles that rarely surface in the mainstream media.

In less than 30 minutes, reporter Anne Keala Kelly linked homelessness to the increase in militarism and real estate speculation that followed 9-11, the Superferry to militarism, and the ice epidemic to Operation Green Harvest, which made “da crip” (locally grown marijuana) expensive and scarce.

She interviewed Chad Taniguchi, who used to run the housing agency and Hawaiian Homes on Kauai, but has since “moved up” to managing the state housing agency.

Chad recounted meeting with residents of state housing on Maui who were demanding new refrigerators because the ones they had didn’t keep food cold. But he told them that there was no money for fridges because so many of the state housing tenants don’t pay their rent.

So what, the tenants who do pay don’t get fridges that work? Is the state now going to be a slumlord because it hasn’t been diligent about collecting the rent?

Chad went on to say the state was going to start evicting those who don’t pay, so those with money and jobs can move in.

Yeah, maybe those who pay should get first crack at the state’s low-income housing, but what’s going to happen to all those who don’t, especially because they can’t?

Chad said they’d be sent to the homeless shelters, but there obviously isn’t enough room there for all the people who need housing, so it looks like they’ll be out on the beaches and streets. End result: no net change in homelessness.

To me, it’s a sordid and sorry situation when Hawaiians comprise just 20 percent of the state’s population, but account for 50 percent of the homeless, and people are living in the bushes while hundreds — perhaps thousands — of lavish homes and hotel rooms stand empty most of the year.

What's happened to our humanity?


Anonymous said...

our humanity has been supersized and sold out in big box stores built upon the foundations laid out by military contractors looking for good deals to meet the needs their client's consumption and desire to have affordable housing off base. waking up to smell the coffee is not the aroma of choice;it's the smell of compost rotting in the garden.

Anonymous said...

Joan, their figures are for the 26th. Supposedly reservations that they had but that did not actually happen. My numbers were for the day before on the 25th. Mine are actual numbers for the last run that the Superferry has done. Theirs are for the 26th, a run that never took place.

Aloha, Brad

Anonymous said...

"Yesterday 250 people and 57 vehicles were booked for the Oahu to Maui leg, while 200 passengers and 50 vehicles were booked for the return trip, Abe said. The number of reservations for today’s canceled trip were not immediately available."

Keep in mind these numbers are for a transit on the 26th that never took place. They were originally reported as "approximate" numbers. Three of the four numbers end in even "0" numbers. Since they never actually happened, I would say they are bogus.

Even now the company says they are cancelling runs because of the weather, when just two weeks ago their spokesperson said they could have operated in an even bigger swell the first week of December. That was a quote in the newspapers.

You know, the thing that's most annoying about this whole thing is that no matter what, one cannot count on getting a straight statement out of this company on almost anything. It is always spin and PR.

Furthermore, because of this, they have not shown that they could negotiate in good faith with the people of Kauai.

Aloha, Brad

Anonymous said...

Sheer Hawaiian-kine genius... let's kick them out for not paying rent so they can become homeless. Because we don't have the money for their rent but we DO have money to help the homeless find a home- probably the same unit they moved out of... another only in Hawai`i story...

Anonymous said...

Lets see how far HSF gets before they start asking the State to bail them out. Yep, that seems to be the trend with these businesses. Not even flies like gadfly can keep them afloat.

As far as homelessness goes, I think what this is revealing is that the way in which we shelter people is no longer working. But no one wants to find a better plan it seems.

Pan said...

"To me, it’s a sordid and sorry situation when Hawaiians comprise just 20 percent of the state’s population, but account for 50 percent of the homeless, and people are living in the bushes while hundreds — perhaps thousands — of lavish homes and hotel rooms stand empty most of the year."
yes its terrible. It happens almost everywhere in one way or another. However I don't think its anything new. There just perhaps more of it today cos there's more people and globalisation.