Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Musings: Keeping Count

Cold, dark, windy, cloudy — this morning had few redeeming virtues, save that it arrived, which, of course, is the only one that matters.

Our walk was short and brisk, dodging empty rubbish cans and the litter that always accompanies trash day. The guys just can’t manage to get the opala into the truck without spilling some, and once it’s out of the can, it’s apparently no longer their kuleana.

Speaking of kuleana, Maui Mayor Charmaine Tavares exercised hers in speaking out against a second planned Superferry run to the Valley Isle. Whether that, or some other factor, actually drove Hawaii Superferry’s decision — announced yesterday — to cancel that run is unknown.

Somehow, I don’t think HSF really cares about the mayor’s concerns, but at least she did express them, unlike our own “Mayor Neutro,” who insists on remaining neutral about an issue that anyone in Hawaii not living under a pokahu has an opinion about.

The Advertiser account of the cancelled service reports HSF estimating the ferry has been “averaging about 200 passengers per trip.” That seems hard to believe, given the last count I received from the Maui folks, for Jan. 9, of just 29 vehicles getting off the boat on Maui and 33 vehicles taking the return trip to Oahu. When was the last time you saw a car with six or seven people in it?

The numbers HSF reported to the media also didn’t jibe with the ones they gave to the Superferry Oversight Taskforce at last week’s meeting, where they reported an average of 167 passengers on the Oahu to Maui leg and 157 on the trip back between Dec. 13 and Jan. 6.

The Dept. of Ag reported at the meeting that it had monitored 15 round-trips of the ferry and found 50 orchids without certification, 13 instances of seeds, 67 bees (no mites detected), nine vehicles with excessive mud, two carrying sand or soil, and one instance of fishing nets.

The Division of Conservation and Resource Enforcement intercepted two cars with opihi (one had five bags of opihi hidden in a cooler under some other stuff) and one with ogo. Did you know DOCARE has to ask permission to inspect luggage and cars? But HSF employees have authority to check anything brought on board.

HSF reported two instances of uncertified plants, seven instances of fishing nets, two of opihi, three of cut wood, two of rocks, sand and dirt, 13 muddy cars and three dead bees.

So it’s clear that some, but not all, vehicles are being checked, and violations are occurring. The Task Force did vote to recommend the Legislature authorize full inspection power for DOCARE and DOA, and provide more funding for the state inspection program.

The notes I received on the meeting also included the tidbit that the Nawiliwili “security zone” is now expired, and Maui’s is in effect until Jan. 31. But the Coast Guard rep refused to reveal how much it had spent mobilizing against the community to protect a private company, saying it was "security sensitive" information.

If you’d like to receive minutes, agendas and handouts related to the Oversight Task Force meetings, call Debbie at the Dept. of Transportation at 808-587-3651 and see what she says. Then please let me know.

My last contribution for now concerns the Green Energy Kauai proposal to grow albezia on ag land at Kalepa Ridge for its biofuels project.

Farmer Jerry tells me the company has agreed to cut is request in half, from 2,000 down to 1,000 acres, and it won’t use any of the irrigated farm lands. Most important, it also agreed it won’t grow any albizia there. The project has a lot of potential, but let’s not risk destroying our watershed with an invasive species like albizia simply to keep the lights on.

Energy can come from many sources, but there ain’t no substitute for the wet stuff.


Anonymous said...

On August 31, 2007, during a Honolulu Advertiser "Hot Seat" live chat between Garibaldi and the public, he was asked:

"Does the Superferry have any connection to the Stryker Brigade?"

His entire answer was:

"Absolutely not!"

I guess the question should've been whether the ferry corporation had any relation to military procurement.

Anonymous said...

Re Burning Abezia for power generation:

On our islands with abundant solar, wind and ocean power resources...all of which require no ongoing fuel charges and none of which add to global warming, I'm having a hard time understanding why someone would suggest burning wood for electrical generation.

True...this might play a small role if the overall goal is to eradicate this weed-tree. But I have to think that it would be better used as some kind of building material. (We use Abezia to make canoe paddles.)

To plant Abezia or use our precious wai (fresh water) to grow it, really does not make sense.

Karen Chun
Former Utility Engineer