Thursday, July 17, 2008

Musings: Trying Situations

The moon — full tonight in Capricorn, just before 10 p.m. — was busy illuminating the darkness until the clouds rolled in and she was blotted out by the rain, which has continued to fall throughout this gray morning, cutting Koko’s and my walk very short, indeed.

I do not mind getting wet, but Koko is not fond of water, except to drink. She shuns rain, heavy dew, stream crossings and the surf, which she approaches only if I’m in it, and then never higher than her armpits. Baths are something to be endured, trembling all the while.

When you adopt an older dog, you never know what phobias have already been imprinted on their brains and must be gently navigated. Which is similar, actually, to dealing with the walking wounded in the world. Or in other words, pretty much everybody out there.

I’m always fascinated by the approach people take to trying situations. A friend told me she was greatly annoyed yesterday by a horrible noise, and went out to see what it was. No, it wasn’t the neighbor’s gardener doing his usual mow and blow, but two guys running a giant borer that breaks up the roots around each water meter so a digital mechanism can be installed to meter reading more efficient.

Her initial annoyance turned to worry for the guys, who weren’t wearing any ear protection, so she went inside and made them each a mango smoothie. They were so appreciative that she decided to make one for the gardener, too.

“I felt much better about the noise after that,” she said. “And then the noise was finally over, thank God!"

Another friend, born and raised North Shore, headed over to Hanalei Bay to surf that little swell that rolled in a week or so ago. Observing the line-up was all-white, he paddled out, yelling, “That’s right, I’m a local. Take a good look.” Then he proceeded to surf as if he was the only one at the break, and very soon he was, as all the other guys moved down.

“That sounds pretty intense,” I said. “Did you have a good time?”

“I had a fantastic time,” he said. “I had the place all to myself, the way I used to.”

Another surfer friend tells me the new “Suckaferry” (to use his term) TV commercial, which features interviews of drive on passengers and footage of two vehicles with stacks of surfboards and paddle boards, isn’t endearing the big boat with the guys at the line up — the group that kept it out of Kauai.

I suspect the passenger counts will crash when the ferry has to raise its current heavily subsidized rates of $49 per passenger and $65 per vehicle, one-way. That’s a better deal than the airlines can offer right now, but even the deep pockets of J.F. Lehman Co. can’t keep up with rising fuel costs for that guzzler. And the winter swells that sidelined it so often last year are just around the corner.

I noticed our own Jimmy Trujillo had a letter to the editor in The Garden Island the other day about the Superferry, in response to one of those wild rants, full of misinformation, blaming surfers/protestors for forcing us to miss out on all the goodies the Superferry could bring, including mainlanders traveling in motor homes.

Jimmy wrote, in part:

As one who chose to protest in the water I must remind him of another reason for being in the water: to protest the failure of government.

When Gov. Linda Lingle chose not to acknowledge over 6,000 signatures of Kaua‘i residents requesting a thorough EIS, the ultimate disrespect in my opinion, and the decision by Rep. Joe Suoki to not hear SB1276 on the floor of the House of Representatives, the failure of government helped to create the conditions for a “perfect storm” of dissent and disgust for officials and elected leaders to allow a company to put “profits before people.” This failure by our government and the attempt by HSF to bribe locals with $5 rides ahead of the Hawai‘i Supreme Court decision to overturn Judge Cardoza’s ruling helped to draw several thousand nonviolent protesters to assemble at Nawiliwili. By preventing the Alakai from operating before an EIS was conducted, these citizens, surfers and non-surfers, helped bring to light some of the failures of our government to provide clarity and guidance to businesses wanting to operate legally and ethically in Hawai‘i.

And that, in a nutshell, is what the Superferry outcry was really all about: a spontaneous, largely peaceful assertion of the public’s right to be consulted on issues that matter.


Anonymous said...

Joan wrote, "...when the ferry has to raise its current heavily subsidized rates...."

Speak about misinformation! Glass houses, Joan! Who exactly subsidizes the Superferry fares? Please inform us. If you were more truthful in your rants you'd have simply said, "discounted" instead of "subsidized" which is an outright lie. Look before you spout next time.

Anonymous said...

So--a substantial federal loam guarantee isn't a subsidy? A substantial State expenditure for harbor infrastructure specifically tailored to Superferry's needs isn't a subsidy?

Anonymous said...

Those have little impact on the rates they choose to offer. And we all know that just like the $39 fares the airlines were offerig, there's no way a company can exisit at that low fare level, especially given the rising cost environment we are currently experiencing. It's jsut a way for people to try using the ferry a sub-reasonable rate. The harbor improvements weren't a "subsidy" (did you look that up yet?). The HSF told the state that if you want us to come, then you'll have to make YOUR (the State's) Maui facilites capable of handling such traffic. It wasn't cash or aid. And the federal loan guaranty cost the goverment NOTHING so the precious few dollars (if any) you pay in income taxes didn't go a bit to the HSF. Get your definitions and facts straight.

Mauibrad said...


"Subsidized rates?"

You could call them, "loss leader rates," whatever.

They are subsidized in that the rates are too low for the company to breakeven even at the current ridership levels. That loss is being accepted or "subsidized" by the primary investors in furtherance of bigger investment goals that are not off track, yet.

But, this Fall and Winter of 2008 will determine HSF's destiny, not this Summer. HSF has a bad economy in the Fall to look forward to and big surf in the Winter. And the primary investors will be sweatin' bullets come election day this Fall.

Aloha, Brad

Anonymous said...

Maybe she meant discounted fares. The State floated a bond to pay for the harbor improvements that are only good for the SF. If the SF goes belly up, the other harbor users (and, ultimately the consumers) will end up footing the bill. As for the loan guarantee, it hasn't cost the government anything and won't unless the SF goes belly up. The SF has exposed our corrupt executive branch and wimpy legislative branch, not to mention an easily manipulated public (go SF marketing team and bottomless advertising budget that guarantees good press coverage).

Anonymous said...

Would Anonymous (11:25a.m.) be happier if we called it "corporate welfare" instead of a subsidy? Under any title, the federal and state taxpayers are on the hook for big chunks of money if HSF shuts down.

Anonymous said...

It was always my impression, from outside of Kaua'i, that one of the main reasons for the opposition was the administration's disregard of the petitions (and the law) and blatant dismissal of public opinion on Kaua'i. But I have to disagree that public support is merely the result of good marketing. Many, many people (at least on the island of Hawai'i) just want an alternative to the airlines to travel inter-island, especially one that lets them bring their own vehicles.

Anonymous said...

KonaK, you're absolutely right about some of that, but why do you think Lingle disregarded a petition that was only signed by a purported (who knows how those signatures were gathered and from whom they were taken) 10% of the population of Kauai? Should a small minority of the island’s population rule over the majority? Also, it was totally legal and within the power of the executive branch to make those decisions until our judicial branch decided to interpret poorly-worded regulations differently. Additionally, I believe that overall public support has always been there and that it is the news-worthy coverage of the detractors that gets more attention than is due for their numbers. I think, just like with the rail transit issue now being hotly debated on Oahu, that the HSF ought to go on the ballot so that we can stop arguing about all this. Winner takes all!

Anonymous said...

With the attitude of "winner takes all," even when referring to a ballot issue, you're just going to polarize opinions further. The only chance the ferry will ever have on Kauai is through outreach and understanding, and in the lingo of the internet, "you're doing it wrong."

Anonymous said...

10% a "small minority?" That's a very respectable number anywhere for a petition.

Also for those who think federal guarantees don't cost anything, then why have them? They are of great value, and as we see from the ongoing mortgage collapse, they can be very costly. The news this morning is that some large number of banks may fail, kicking in tons of federal guarantee money to save depositor's accounts.

The SF may succeed or it may fail. It's just too bad that business interests trumped the protections provided to the people by the law. That's a tremendous value lost. The state could have done it differently and, with a completed EIS in hand, earned more support than it can get by disrespecting ordinary citizens.

Anonymous said...

Face it, folks, the SF money party is over. All that's left is the long, weary wait until it finally flounders, followed by the inevitable government investigations and inditements.

It's not only the perfect storm of winter waves and petroleum prices that will sink this sorry chapter in Hawaii's history, but the tidal wave of Vote the Bums Out! that will sweep the nation in November -- the backwash of which will rise to the butts of those who've fed at the federal trough for the last eight years.

Look out to sea: those aren't sharks circling, they're lawyers waiting for the feast when the investigations start. ;)

Anonymous said...

The reason there were 6000 signers of the petition is because many mainstream Kauaians joined with fringe groups in the effort. The reason mainstream signers did so was because the petition issue was the EIS. The petition didn't make up stuff about military associations or slicing up whales. The petition didn't have false memory syndrome like Jimmy who turned less than a thousand protesters into "several thousands." The EIS will be finished soon and that mainstream opposition will melt away. They are not going to buy into the other horror stories.

Anonymous said...

> The EIS will be finished soon and that mainstream opposition will melt away. They are not going to buy into the other horror stories. <

Talk about hopeful denial! Do you seriously think SF's management and backers went to such extraordinary lengths to dodge the EIS in the first place, risking the negative attention that they've called down on themselves, just to save chump change on the cost of an EIS?

When at last an honest and accurate EIS is performed by professionals who aren't in the pockets of the SF people and their political cronies, the results will blow open this sham for the pork barrel scam that it is.

Anonymous said...

The "dodge" was over a timetable and the profits to be lost during an additional year of waiting were hardly "chump change." It's clear that the fring will now argue that the routine recommendations made in the EIS to come are not "honest and accurate." The rest of us will move on

Anonymous said...

mahalo joan for another insightful post. as usual you cover alot ground and i always appreciate the terrain covered. it's nice to know the garden is getting watered while we're off island. checking in from a far is easier w/the web and and there's no aggro locals to bother me while surfing the net. can't say the same about the locals in the water, whether its steamer's lane or hanalei. i guess marking and guarding your territory is something most animals do. yesterday i got scoldings from a marmot while scrambling in a talus field too close to her den and youngins.
i reckon when we're insecure or feel intruded on we get defensive.
same as the superferry in some ways. don paul's letter got me feeling defensive and i felt a need to respond.
been enjoying the ongoing dialog about blogs/blogging and the reader's response. good value and as mentioned by others, it's providing an alternative info source and helps keep folks abreast of what's going on in their world. community building for sure. mahalo for creating and sharing your space w/others. our world is small and to create and share space is an act of generousisty and mindfulness. cheers,.......jimmy t

Joan Conrow said...

Thanks, Jimmy, I appreciate your kind words, especially about the space sharing. And how cool that you saw a marmot, even if you got a scolding! Enjoy!

Anonymous said...

The "dodge" was over a timetable and the profits to be lost during an additional year of waiting were hardly "chump change."

Profits to be lost? The SF, even with the calm seas during the past few weeks, must have lost a lot of $$ from December, '07 until now. It's nice to have breezy trades back.

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:18,
Your 20-20 hindsight regarding profits was not available when decisions were being made about the EIS.

Anonymous said...

That's true. Who would have thought that the channels between the islands would have rough conditions or that passengers would get seasick when the swells or winds were high? Everyone (except for sailors, surfers and anyone who bothered to look at the ocean when the winds were strong or the swell was up) thought that the water would always look like it does in the SF commercials.

Anonymous said...

The original point was that Joan, as is typical of her, mis-characterized the SF rates as "subsidized." She did so in order to cast the SF in the worst light possible and to excite public emotion against the SF by falsely claiming that the fares are subsidized. And THAT kind of unwillingness or, more likely, inability, to be honest and fair about the SF story is why she got dumped from SF coverage by the Advertiser.