Monday, September 22, 2008

Musings: Breaking the Silence

Breaks in the clouds were few and fleeting, occasionally allowing the half moon to glow, a few stars to sparkle, when Koko and I went walking on this fall equinox morning.

It was very quiet, save for the usual rowdy roosters, the steadily chirping crickets, and then came the distinctive braying call of a Newell’s shearwater, enroute to or from feeding its chick in a mountainside burrow. Suddenly I heard the rain coming, advancing over the vegetation with a gentle roar, dampening us and with its pattering, shattering the silence.

I learned yesterday that Kauai’s “silent majority” totals seven. Yup. Seven. That’s how many guys was holding sign at Kimo Rosen’s pro-Superferry rally at Kapaa Beach Park yesterday, according to a friend who did the counting, snapped a quick pic and made this observation:

“Dude it was miserable. With the obligatory acknowledgement to his right to organize a protest, the protest was pathetic. But it illustrates the power of P.R. speak - the term "silent majority" evokes a strong image, in contrast to the reality of a photo. Since when did silence get respect in a democracy anyway?”

I love that last line.

Since I served up some crow last week, I won’t put it on the menu again today. But now that the myth of Kauai’s silent, yet supposedly strong, support for the Superferry is thoroughly debunked, we can move on to other things. Like making sure it doesn’t come back since we’ve clearly seen the negative effects on Maui.

Seems that concern over the big boat’s impacts has moved beyond the enviro crowd. Even Maui Mayor Charmaine Tavares is freaked out by the pillage of the Valley Isle’s marine resources.

Gee, a mayor who cares about the issue and is actually willing to speak up. How quite unlike our own late Mayor Neutro. Anyway, she wants state conservation enforcement officers to continuing doing the passenger and vehicle inspections beyond December, noting:

"I am gravely concerned about the impacts that are occurring to Maui's special places and resources," Tavares wrote to the [Superferry Oversight] task force. "Many of the negative impacts we feared and predicted are being realized, despite the fact that Hawaii Superferry has been operating well below its optimal passenger load.

"I am appalled by the reported amount of marine resources that are leaving our island with Superferry passengers or being confiscated and destroyed."

But according to Superferry officials, everything’s sunshine and flowers:

Superferry official Richard Houck said he felt his employees were capable of doing the inspections and the taking of ocean resources has been small.

In other words, it’s tired of picking up the DOCARE inspection tab and wants to push the job on to its own employees. (Update: Dick Mayer of Maui informs me that taxpayers are paying for the inspections, which makes me wonder why HSF wouldn't want the handout to continue — unless it doesn't like having the truth revealed about the "takings."]

And how are HSF employees doing? Well, if Luella Lake is any indication, not so hot. She sent a Sept. 19 email to legislators and the guv in which she noted: “I had a passion for working on a ship so I started working with HSF Port Operation on 7/17/07! Well, ever since then my confidence has dropped to 5% from a 100%, here's why!”

She then goes on to state some 15 behind-the-scenes concerns, including racism, harassment by supervisors and shoddy equipment. While some complaints read like the usual crap that makes me steer clear of working with others, in respect to inspections, she did allege:

5. HSF continues to let customers go with expired ID, License, registration and Ins.

10. The 1 hour and a half isn't enough time at the Port to Inspect customers and their vehicles or to check-in customers for valid ID, licence, registration or insurance.

11. HSF is cutting their Port staff which is putting the pressure on speed.

She ended with this plea:

So please, if anyone can help and not turn us away all the time!

The employees may be on their own, but HSF did agree to do a bit more to help the whales. The company plans to “install a new night vision, infrared-thermal imaging system and provide night-vision goggles to two lookouts to help prevent nighttime collisions this winter with humpback whales.”

That was revealed at last Friday’s Task Force meeting, along with these nuggets:

When it came to the issue of preventing whale collisions, Maui task force representative Randy Awo said he found it troubling that there is still a question as to whether Hawaii Superferry would do more. Namely, he said the company could install a frontal radar system - which is still being tested - to help detect whales at night.

Testifier Marcia Godinez said she's gone over the confiscation reports by the state Department of Land and Natural Resources and Department of Agriculture. She found that officials have logged almost 2 tons of fish that were removed from Maui's waters and taken to Oahu in the past nine months.

Meanwhile, the passenger numbers remain slack:

Last month, the Superferry averaged less than 350 people per and about 100 vehicles per voyage, [HSF official U.S. Coast Guard Ret. Adm. Richard] Houck said. The Alakai has 836 seats and can hold 230 vehicles.

Houck said August's numbers were less than July's but not bad considering the current economic downturn and that it's off-peak for the tourist season.

Huh? Since when is August off-peak season?

The Maui News article continues:

[Belt Collins’ Lesley] Matsumoto said a consulting firm is surveying passengers to determine what impact they are having on local businesses, community resources, hotels and campgrounds.

To the applause of the audience, Awo, the DLNR Maui branch chief for DOCARE, called on Belt Collins to conduct a survey of residents as well.

"I just don't get it," Awo said. "If we are talking about socioeconomic impacts, why not go beyond ridership?"

Randy's making some very good points, and asking hard questions. But it seems his concerns are being met by official silence.


Katy said...

Just to be fair to Mr. Rosen's crusade: conservatives are good at a lot of things, but organizing street level grassroots protests isn't one of them. Sure, they've been pretty good at getting lynch mobs and vigilante posses togther, but even those and a good gay-bashing don't usually require more than a handful of people. Yet, they still have a nearly hegemonic hold on the policy decisions that affect our lives. I guess that goes to show what institutional power can do.

We should acknowledge that when you have institutional power behind you (HSF, Act 2, Lehman, Department of Defense, etc) you don't really NEED to get out into the street. Without the urgency, it's hard to get the numbers.

We'd be foolish to view a pathetic turnout at a poorly organized event put together by a person without a big network as an indication that we don't have a fight ahead of us.

Anonymous said...

Are you saying that when 6 to 10 demonstrators show up for a local lefty cause (which is very often the case) that that indicates the sum total of support for that cause? And that everyone can write off that cause as having no support in the community? I smell a double standard.

Anonymous said...

Your logic re this protest is pitifully inaccurate.

Having only 7 show up for a protest says nothing about the "silent" segment of society that is either neutral or pro ferry. It only says just 7 people care enough to wave signs.

Many times the "Save Koloa's Trees" sign wavers had just 4-5 people in front of Foodland in Kapaa. Of course, that was considered a sign of the voice of the majority by the Island Breath crowd who carefully framed pictures to make the turnout look huge.

Spin and manipulation. Both sides do it and both are wrong to do so.

Anonymous said...

Belt Collins has been hired by the County as a consultant to assist KPD in their traffic accident investigations:

Belt Collins (to driver of vehicle that ran thru stop sign and over bicyclist): How serious are the injuries?

Driver: He looked okay. His helmet was still on.

BC: How do you think the bicyclist felt?

Driver: Fine, he felt fine. He was moaning really softly, so he couldn't be hurt too badly.

BC: What could the bicyclist do to prevent the accident?

Driver: Stay off the road and avoid intersections, or look both ways even though there's a stop sign and you have the right of way.

BC: Hey, thanks for your cooperation. This will really help us to reach the right conclusions.

Anonymous said...

conservatives = gay bashing lynch mob vigilantes with a hegemonic hold over all policy.


Ed Coll said...

This no-event made the front page of TGI "Seeking support for Superferry" replete with picture with a caption that said in part "...Kimo Rosen and Richard Aki look on at a gathering for supporters of the inter-island catamaran yesterday..."

The picture itself shows 2 guys looking at 1 guy reading a piece of paper in front of a sign that says, "BIKERS FOR SUPERFERRY."

Looked like a Waltz for 3 people to me.

Meanwhile at Hanamulu Beach Park the Sierra Club had about 75 people at a chat and chew with prominent local and state activist and politicians, but apparently that event was not newsworthy.

Darn that local liberal media.

Mauibrad said...

That picture of Kimo's rally with 6 or 7 old guys doesn't even look like an assembly. It looks like a few people loitering in the park.

About the OTF meeting on Sept.19th, there was actually a lot of good information from the meeting that was not reported by any of the papers. I will try to get out some of that and some pics from it in a blog post. Also look forward to the report on that OTF meeting that will eventually be put up in it's entirity on the DOT website by Mike Formby's assistant.

The overall sense I got from the meeting is that the committee members are starting to feel overwhelmed by all of the information, ideas and recommendations being presented to them by the public, DLNR/DOCARE, and DOA. As an example, two or three Maui speakers asked that of the 3 OTF committee meetings left, that one be on Kauai and one on the Big Island. During the meeting Mike Formby pointed out that the committee members needed to start compiling the information and recommendations from all of the monthly meetings/reports to come up with the final report to the Legislature at the end of the year. Then at the end of the meeting, with no discussion, the next meeting of the OTF was set for Honolulu Airport. I get the sense that Kauai and the Big Island may not get a chance to see this committee in action and that the final report may let a lot of good detail fall through the cracks. Aloha, Brad

Anonymous said...

It's hilarious to hear you lefties deride a demonstration on the grounds that not a lot of people showed up. Hello, Pot? This is Kettle. You're black!

Anonymous said...

Maui Brad's comment that "That picture of Kimo's rally with 6 or 7 old guys doesn't even look like an assembly. It looks like a few people loitering in the park," sounds like something Rush Limbaugh would say about a poorly attended anti-war rally.

Katy said...

Weak turn-out usually means one or a combination of two things:

-piss-poor organizing

-a lack of a sense of urgency about the issue

I think both were at play in this case, and I think the "protest" has already gotten more attention than it ever merited.

Joan Conrow said...

I think the "protest" has already gotten more attention than it ever merited.

Yes, it was all just meant as a joke, to goof on the folks who kept putting down the anti-Superferry rallies as being unrepresentative of the true island sentiment. But mostly it was intended to serve as a segue to the REAL issues that are arising about the ferry now that it's been in operation.

awolgov said...

"Testifier Marcia Godinez said she's gone over the confiscation reports by the state Department of Land and Natural Resources and Department of Agriculture. She found that officials have logged almost 2 tons of fish that were removed from Maui's waters and taken to Oahu in the past nine months."

This isnʻt the small amount reported by the OTF reports;why the big difference or are the OTF officers getting ʻcompensatedʻ?

So even with the incredibly low passenger count, the Superferry is racking up some MAJOR resource hauls.

Keep in mind, these numbers are from screening of ONLY 25% of passengers, coolers, etc.

Itʻs a criminal violation of the resource protection laws by government officials who have allowed this and have sworn an oath NOT TO DO THIS.

Thousands of incidents of irreparable harm launched environmental laws;
It took decades of research, data, testimony by thousands and thousands of diligent persons and hundreds of thousands of documents, and of course thousands of lawyers and thousands of hearings and courtroom battles to enact the cultural, social and environmental laws that we have today. THINK ABOUT IT.

What makes Lingle and Bennet think they have the superior intelligence to make the call to dismantle ANY of these laws?

Itʻs completely unacceptable.

Anonymous said...

i spoke w/a big biker for superferry at the gathering. he shared that his friends from oahu and maui really enjoy the boat and that there are no problems with it. i guess mayor tavares isn't sharing her concerns w/ the bikers. or perhaps the media isn't sharing the info with bikers on maui and oahu. either way until all concerns are addressed and the impacts mitigated, please keep that big boat away from kauai!
aloha aina,.....jimmy t

Mauibrad said...

Re: Anon 2:02pm



awolgov said...

MauiBrad, sounds like the righties are ʻhoppin madʻ. Because who else would write in with simple one-liner attacks, hiding behind ʻanonymousʻ calling the sensible commenters ʻleftiesʻ. Wonder why theyʻre so upset.
Hmmmmm. Could it be that the factcheck on irreparable harm by HSF is being proven every day the big hunk of junk floats?