Friday, April 11, 2008

Musings: Cracks in the System

A minimalist rain arrived yesterday afternoon and returned at intervals through the night, leaving the air moist and heavy when Koko and I went walking, with the promise of more showers to come.

The air barely stirred at ground level, but the clouds overhead were moving south fast, pouring over the Sleeping Giant, whose northern flank is being heavily grubbed in preparation for — what else? — selling. At least it's being done legally, or so I hear, and by a local family trying to hold on to the bulk of it, rather than the usual off-island speculators.

Ran into my neighbor Andy, who had read last night’s post on the Superferry damage and found it interesting, although he — and someone who left a comment — observed that those interviewed had an to grind. Tis true, although as Andy acknowledged, that doesn’t necessarily mean their information was incorrect.

A friend wrote in an email: “Yes, the SF, has cracks in it, but what did you expect when our system has BIGGER CRACKS.” Tis also true, that.

The prospect of the cracked Superferry taking on water and possibly sinking prompted Rich Hoeppner to call in to the radio show and talk about life rafts. Apparently the vessel carries 10, and “lots of life vests.” I wondered if the crew had been trained in evacuating passengers who are immobilized by seasickness, which seems to be a common state of affairs of the Pukerferry.

I was also left wondering what Hawaii Superferry plans to do with the second ferry, due for completion Sept. 30, according to the Austal USA workers, when it’s not even close to filling the first one and Kawaihae Harbor on the Big Island hasn’t been “upgraded” to handle that kind of vessel.

They’ll start service to Kauai, Andy said, and we both laughed. Yeah, ha ha.

As Koko and I were heading home, the sun struggled valiantly to reveal itself, but ultimately succumbed to the clouds, and I was left marveling, as always, at how such a powerful force is continually subdued by a seemingly insubstantial one.

It gives me hope for the many David vs. Goliath struggles that are under way on the planet, including Hawaiians against the Office of Hawaiian Affairs. Got an email from Andre Perez of Hui Pu alerting folks to the status of the OHA “ceded lands” settlement, which is still alive in the Lege.

He wrote:

It is apparent that OHA has lost sight of the mission and has become the very thing they were supposed to counteract. Now they just shove things down our throats. The difference between "rape" and "consensual sex" is delineated by a simple 2 letter word, that word is "NO" but OHA simply does not listen to the people that are the sole reason for their existence.

They do things in secret, without transparency and without the free, prior, informed consent of the very people they purport to represent. They use "OUR" trust funds to force upon us, things that will affect us and our keiki that we are not in agreement with and when we stand up for our rights and say no, they respond by finding and pimping ignorant self interest kanaka's who will say "YES" to anything just as long as it ensures their place at the trough (we know that game, sorry, I no like play).

However, it must be understood that even though these "YES" people praise and parade around for OHA's agenda, the truth is even THEY were excluded, left out and treated like mushrooms - kept in the dark and fed shit, just as much as anyone else.

OHA is of is out of control, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs has become the "Office of Hawaiian Despair.” It's so bad, some braddahs actually wrote a song about it.

Apparently, according to Andre’s email, HB1201, a bill carried over from last year, is being used as a shell for a settlement bill drafted by OHA: HB1201 HD1 SD1 CD1 PROPOSED.

The email goes on to say:

Rep. Kirk Caldwell is calling for a conference to discuss HB1201 HD1 SD1 CD1 PROPOSED (OHA's Proposed Version) with the intention of removing OHA's proposed language and inserting HB266 HD2 language (Ceded Land Settlement legislation that was held in Senate Committees). There is a lot of back door maneuvering.

Indeed. Yet more evidence of cracks in the system. Anyway, conferees include Sens. Kokubun, Baker, English, Hee, Slom, Tokuda and Hanabusa, and Reps. Ito, Karamatus, Ward and Say, if you want to let them know your views on the subject — or give cracks.


Anonymous said...

Great comments by Andre.

Regarding the "disgruntled worker" angle: remember that Wayne Jenkins is still an employee - and has not been fired YET. He took a risk speaking out....why would he make something up if doing so would risk his livlihood, if not his physical safety?


Larry said...

I had asked the Coast Guard about the life rafts. Part of the answer I received:

The quick answer is yes, the vessel is in full compliance with U.S. laws. The vessel is required to meet the SOLAS 2000 High Speed Craft Code and 46 CFR sub-chapter W for primary life saving.

According to the certificate of inspection (COI) for the HSC Alakai, the vessel has over 100% life raft capacities.

Anonymous said...

I think its perfectly obvious that the Superferry will resume service to Kauai after the EIS is complete.
The reported statement about not resuming this year and the estimated time for the EIS and the post EIS process coincide. This will effectively remove the moral imperative that generated protest across socioeconomic lines.
After all, if you recall, the operative statement was "I'm not against the Superferry, I'm against it sailing without an EIS."
A number of people actually meant it.

Anonymous said...

Under normal circumstances, an EIS can be reviewed by a judge to determine if it complies with the state environmental law. Can the Superferry's EIS be subjected to the same scrutiny? If not, why should it be considered valid?

Anonymous said...

I always thought the percieved moral imperative relied on the perception that operating without an EIS arguably was (and turned out to be) illegal, and that once Act 2 passed, the moral justification for "actions" blocking the ferry from operating had evaporated.

Anonymous said...

Actually, Wayne Jenkins is one of a group of workers previously wrongfully laid off by Austal for union organizing activities. They won an nlrb action against the company and he's probably feeling pretty bullet proof.

Anonymous said...

Bullet proof? Have you ever dealt with the NLRB? It is close to impossible to get them to find in the favor of the employees and the union regarding firings, so the chances are that he won't get that break again. (I was a union organizer in the nineties - people got fired all the time for union activity. We filed so many charges with the NLRB that never saw the light of day that it finally occurred to us we were wasting our time with them and were often better off relying on community pressure to protect employees.)

There are too many ways for the company to cloak the reason for firing in an "at-will" employment situation. The NLRB, even if they looked, is never going to come across a file on a supervisor's desk with a note from the CEO ordering him to fire a worker for union activity.

Whistle-blower protection laws are also a joke, from what I understand, as the number of findings for the whistleblowers are dismally low due to certain components of the law.

I doubt that Jenkins feels "bullet-proof" at all. He took a risk, plain and simple.

At the very least, it would be interesting to see detractors put a little bit of energy into investigating the veracity of the claims these workers made, instead of trying to undermine them personally....don't you want to know if those boats are safe or not?

Anonymous said...

Disgruntled union organizers who just massively lost an organizing vote of employees by 76% are not the sort of credible sources that cause me to worry that the boat is going to sink.

Anonymous said...

Well, just for the record, this interview was set up BEFORE the vote took place, and the same people were more than willing at that point to speak to these issues. They are speaking to the issues that caused them to organize.

Also, the "elections" held for unionization are about as fair and democratic as "elections" in repressive nations. It's a wonder the workers ever win an election. And when they do, the employer often stalls the contract negotiations until its practically moot to negotiate. Anyone who has been through an organizing drive can tell you this.


Anonymous said...

I've voted in an organizing election. I can't imagine what could be called unfair about it. They are a secret ballot overseen by a union rep, a management rep and observers from the nlrb.

Anonymous said...

And the organizing takes place in an environment completely dominated by the employer, who can hold mandatory meetings for employees with high paid union-busting consultants, along with dozens of other tactics. Quite often, workers are afraid to unionize because they are convinced the plant will shut down or move. Some employers are more "neutral" than others, some are even union-friendly. But large anti-union employers have a pretty well-worn playbook - and it's got some very effective plays in it.
Ever wondered why "right to organize" legislation has been fought for for years? (And no silly answers about "Big Labor", please.)

Joan Conrow said...

I think a number of people felt that Act 2 did not lessen the moral imperative for an EIS, nor lessen the moral justification for actions to stop the Superferry, because it was in itself immoral. It completely upended the rule of law.

Anonymous said...

Irregardless of whether Wayne worked on the Alakai, the boat has suffered unexpected damages and needed to be repaired for cracks in the hull/rudder system. There's no argument there.

Whether this is because of faulty design or poor workmanship remains to be seen. These crucial points/facts shouldn't be overlooked either: the working conditions at Austal were/are so poor that NLRB action has taken place and a lawsuit for discrimination has been filed.

These points are what lead Katy and I to follow up with the Thursday interview. The interview was scheduled before the union vote and the focus was going to be about working conditions regarding NLRB action and the racial discrimination lawsuit. The insight into construction and repairs was added value. We'll see how well the cement fills the cracks in the new and improved Alakai.

The information that our guests provided KKCR listeners has reinforced the notion that the HSFerry is not going to last very long. The facts that the cracks appeared and drydock was necessary is indicative of something. The EIS first crowd and those who reject the spin about the 'overwhelming support' can put another arrow in the quiver of why not to support the HSF operation.

The comments by our guests have validated the opinion of many that the Psuedoferry has no integrity and is just a smoke and mirror sham to gain lucrative military contracts in the LCS market.

I have only one word to describe the whole HawaiiSuperFiasco- FLAWED

Mahalo,.........Jimmy T

Andy Parx said...

In saying “EIS First” means a complete, valid and honest EIS needs to be performed. And Belt-Collins has already shown that they are not interested in that by the very anti-input way they publicized and conducted the scoping meetings, characterizing them as “informational” until bloggers told people that this was indeed the time to bring forth all the horrors the SF would be bringing... not to mention not taking emailed testimony.

Don’t forget- an EIS can have a “no action” alternative and a FONSI is not a pre-ordained result, in theory. some things simply cannot be mitigated.

We’ve seen these kinds of pseudo and faux EIS efforts before. The real EIS process begins when we challenge the obviously biased and bogus one they’re doing in court.... but I wouldn’t bet on a boat needs concrete poured into its cracks making it that long.

And I so enjoy watching the trolls try to discredit the information with the old “disgruntled employee” gambit- the tool of the guilty employer when they can’t actually impeach the information presented.

I find facts presented by the disgruntled are usually far more researched and reliable than those of the “gruntled” who have reason to make-up and cover-up.. When was the last time a company’s sycophants revealed corporate misconduct, shoddy workmanship and safety violations?

Yeah, the truth always comes from the public relations department and the CEOs.- pay no attention to the guy we screwed blue- he’s just a troublemaker.

Anonymous said...

"And I so enjoy watching the trolls ... when they can’t actually impeach the information presented." aparx

How do you impeach unsubstantiated claims? They brought no evidence at all.

I'll impeach the claim. Look at the nlrb decision. One of the employees in the case was fired for using a welding rod inferior to the type required. He said he wanted to use it, his supervisor said no, and he used it anyway.

Larry said...

There are whistleblower protection laws for a purpose--the intent is to encourage people to speak out. These three did. Whatever their individual circumstances, they said what they said. It's out there now.

Even eyewitness reports of a crime can be wrong, so it's common to seek corroboration of any single-source report. If the Coast Guard or someone else inspects and says there is no problem, that's one thing, but to say there is no problem in blog comments simply because the commenter doesn't like the report is kind of lame.

We don't know if there are cracks or if anything else alleged in the interviews will either be investigated or if it will be proven true. These reports raise safety issues, so I hope that they won't be ignored.

So I look forward to learning more, now that the reports (allegations) are out in the open. When the KKCR transcript/audio is made available then others can listen and check into it.

Or not. I'm always curious to whether the commercial press, much of it hoping for a steady stream of Superferry ads, will be willing to even nibble away at the hand that feed it.

Anonymous said...

nobody said there's no problem. Some of us are just a little less credulous about it than others. Often you are the first to point out the conflicts of information sources and are unhappy with the mainstream press for failing to do so. Happy to see some follow up and see what shakes out. If the company is wrong it should be held accountable. If the disgruntled union organizers are wrong, so should they.