Monday, January 26, 2009

Musings: Clarifying Obfuscations

My feet, bare in slippers, were cold within minutes of leaving the house, confirming that it was going to be a shorter walk than Koko would have preferred and I had planned, which is why I was wearing slippers and not shoes in the first place.

The ground was saturated from a night’s worth of rain and drops still hung from each gnarled leaf of the banyan tree. The sky was filled with quilted, streaky clouds, the kind that would have created one heckuva showy sunrise, except they were a bit too thick, so they smothered the sun instead. In the distance, Waialeale was not obscured, but not clear, appearing as a blue hulking mass behind a filmy haze.

It’s not unlike the Superferry, which is big as day, but still shrouded in obfuscations, including just how much, really, is it costing the state?

Yes, The Advertiser had a story yesterday that reported the costs at $5 million — in addition to the $40 million already spent — and a sidebar that indicated the security tab alone has topped $600,000.

Still, that’s not the whole of it. As Larry Geller notes at Disappeared News, there’s also the State's interest payments of about $2 million a year on the $40 million in state issued general obligation reimbursable bonds and the cost of conducting at least 12 legislatively mandated DOT funded meetings to receive input that an environmental review would have evaluated. He also lists seven more still uncalcuated — but legitimate and sizeable — expenses.

And even that’s not all. Larry also notes that the Gov still hasn’t produced the quarterly reports, which are mandated under Act 2 and intended to reveal “the costs incurred by the State in establishing and maintaining the enforcement activities required under this section.” So when is the Lege going to apply a little pressure to get those reports?

The amount spent on security is especially disheartening because it reflects such complete and total overkill on the part of the Gov and her “Unified Command” in responding to an unhappy citizenry. Capt. Barry Compagnoni, the Coast Guard Captain of the Port, Honolulu, and operational commander for Coast Guard assets on O'ahu, Maui and Kaua'I, tried to make it all seem like a worthwhile training exercise, rather than a massive show of force.

Still, his quote showed that he and the other “Unifiers” still don’t get — or want to ignore — what the protests were all about:

"This cooperation ensures that all sides of an issue have been considered and we, as government agencies, act in consideration of the public's best interests," he said in an e-mail to The Advertiser.

But wait, Captain. The protests at Nawiliwili were sparked primarily by outrage over the fact that the Hawaii Supreme Court had said “no,” yet Superferry sailed, anyway. Please, don’t be telling us that a clampdown is in our best interest when we’re legitimately protesting a flagrant flouting of the law.

While we’re on the Superferry, a few Kauai folks have written an op-ed in today’s Garden Island that seeks to clarify persistent misconceptions about the big boat, and Honolulu Weekly has a thorough and flattering review of “The Superferry Chronicles” book.

I’ve also got a short piece in the Weekly this week on a bill that Sen. Hooser is introducing that will make it easier for folks to get food stamps, simply by easing up on state regulations, which are stricter than those required by the feds. It seems little Kauai is leading the state in viewing food stamps not as a hand out, but economic development.

Changing the topic entirely, if you thought the election of a skinny black man in America was cause for hope, Bolivians yesterday approved a new Constitution that “promises more power for the poor indigenous majority,” according an article in the SG Gate. It went on to report:

But the charter's low support in Bolivia's lowland east — which controls much of the nation's wealth and fiercely opposes Morales' plans to empower long-suffering highland Indians — leaves the racially torn country as divided as ever.

Its passage nevertheless marked a historic transition in a nation where the oldest voters can still recall when Indians were forbidden to vote.

"Brothers and sisters, the colonial state ends here," President Evo Morales, 49, told a huge crowd in front of the presidential palace after the results of Sunday's referendum were announced. "Here we begin to reach true equality for all Bolivians."

It should be fascinating to watch things get sorted out in Boliva, as they deal with vested rights of large landowners and opposition by the nation’s mestizo and European-descended minority. Perhaps we can learn a few things that could be used here to similarly correct an imbalance of power that repeatedly leaves Hawaii’s indigenous people holding the short end of the stick.


Anonymous said...

"Changing the topic entirely, if you thought the election of a skinny black man in America was cause for hope"

"skinny black man"

...kind of a weird reference.

but if we are talking colors and shapes - id take that tall dark brown man over that other short light brown man in boliva any day. and id suggest the fat brown people at nawiliwili could have used a refresher on state level separation of powers and checks and balances issues (do they not teach civics here?)

Anonymous said...

Given America's history, the election of Barack Obama is a cause for hope.