POSTED: 5 SEPTMEBER 2007- 10:00pm HST

Social animosity enters Superferry debate

image above: Superferry employees demonstrate during working hours on Oahu

by Juan Wilson on 5 September 2007

I am concerned by the recent change in tone in the conversations about the Superferry. There is an element of racial and socio-economic division that is developing. I first noticed it in comments regarding HSF protests on our Island Breath Blog.

A friend pointed me to a forum on the Honolulu Advertiser website. That forum sounds like a mob ready for a lynching. Several writers feel as if the heroism of the surfers and paddlers facing the Superferry has brought shame and not glory to Hawaii.

Many people, who characterize themselves as being "born here", feel that those against the Superferry are elitists, white, rich, NIMBY's, who are overlording, arrogant and taking advantage of local people.

This is truly a paradoxical situation. I feel just that way about Linda Lingle, John Lehman and Sean Connaughton, among others.

My experience has been that the people in the anti-Superferry movement have their own interests at heart, as everybody does. But I also think that in their hearts they know they are protecting all the islands of Hawaii from something sinister and wrong.

We cannot be perceived as against the local people or trying to make Kauai a gated community for "just us rich folks".  John Garibalbi used the strategy of jumping the schedule forward a few days, with $5 fares, in order to establish a record of service before the a restraining order could be issued. It did make a lot of people happy to get on board who would not pay a regular fare.

This cheap shot blew up in his face in Maui circuit court. My guess is that Garibaldi will lose his job over the incident because it will likely bring on the Environmental Assessment he has been charged with avoiding at any cost.

But, I think the repercussions of the unfulfilled $5 trips raised hopes and dashed them for many local people. We need to deal with this in a way that shows our concern for social justice and the needs of people in Hawaii.

If we were crowded with a million people on this island wouldn't we want a way off to find unruined labdscapes and shorebreaks that were not fished out?

This could be particularly an issue if our economy tanks the way I think it will. With soaring energy and food prices combined with a collapse of tourism, Hawaii might find itselves in a dire situation. As I wrote in 2006 in Part Two 2007-2029, it may eventually become necessary, out of humanitarian concern, to redistribute populations between the islands.

That may be an subconscious feeling underlying the division on the Superferry. We must be careful to keep the council and advice of Hawaiians close to our hearts in these matters.

image above: There are about 300 HSF employees and they are worried about their jobs




POSTED: 6 SEPTMEBER 2007 - 8:00am HST
Ferry Idle Amid Protests & Court Ruling

image above: ferry unsucessfully tries to enter harbor. Dennis Fujimoto in The Garden Island News

by Christopher Pala on 4 Spetember 2007 in The New York Times

A giant twin-hulled ferry designed to transform transportation between the Hawaiian Islands for tourists and residents made its maiden voyage on Aug. 26.

But today, the $85 million boat, the Alakai, lies idle in the harbor here, prevented by court order from sailing to Maui and by protesters from going to Kauai. A citizens group there was preparing to ask a judge for a similar order.
“The law requires the Superferry to prove it’s safe,” said Daniel Hempey, the group’s lead lawyer.

The luxurious 450-foot ferry, thought to be the largest aluminum ship ever built in the United States, would be the first to carry cars (up to 286), trucks and 866 passengers between the island of Oahu, Honolulu’s home, and two neighbor islands, Maui and Kauai.

Operating at 40 miles per hour, the Alakai has a state-of-the-art computer system to reduce pitching and rolling in Hawaii’s choppy seas. Wide windows allow travelers to view the islands from the sea, many for the first time. A sister ship under construction in Mobile, Ala., is planned for service between here and the Big Island in 2009.

At the center of the ferry dispute is whether the project should have been subject to an environmental assessment before the operator, Hawaii Superferry Inc., began service.

If an assessment found that the ferry could damage the islands’ unique flora and fauna, an environmental impact statement would be required, which would mean scientific studies, public hearings and the possibility of legal challenges.
But the controversy, which continues to dominate headlines here, is also about the changing nature of life in Hawaii and the impact of powerful economic interests.

“It’s symbolic politics,” says Ira Rohter, a professor of political science at the University of Hawaii. “Hawaii used to be a special place, and now it looks more and more like California. Most people feel we need a ferry, but they also want some control over how it’s going to change their lives.”

Hawaii Superferry’s chief executive, John L. Garibaldi, 54, and a resident of Hawaii for 26 years, said that when he began the project five years ago, state officials told him there was no need for an environmental assessment, a position that was upheld by two court rulings.

“We felt we were on pretty solid ground,” Mr. Garibaldi said.
Had an assessment been needed, he said, it would have posed an unacceptable risk for Hawaii Superferry’s main equity investor, J. F. Lehman and Company, which put up $85 million, and for the federal Maritime Administration, which provided a loan guarantee of $140 million. The state provided $40 million, which the company is required to repay, to build fixed ramps for the ferry at the four island ports.

Mr. Garibaldi’s argument was met with skepticism by the ferry’s main opponent, the Sierra Club. “Nonsense,” said Jeff Mikulina, the head of the club’s Hawaii chapter. “This process happens all the time, and it does not prevent a lot of businesses from expanding. It simply ensures that businesses comply with environmental laws.”

In 2005, the Sierra Club and two local groups filed suit in State District Court on Maui, demanding that an environmental assessment be done. But the state and Hawaii Superferry argued successfully that no such assessment was required. A federal court turned down a separate lawsuit by the same plaintiffs.

“From a legal standpoint, it was a close call,” said Ed Case, a lawyer and a Democrat who represented most of Oahu and the neighbor islands in Congress from 2003 to 2007. “But as a matter of public policy, a project of this magnitude, even though it’s going to benefit the state as a whole, needs to go through a public vetting process.”

Fast ferries slice through the waters around the world — the Mediterranean, the English Channel and Hong Kong harbor, to name a few. But Hawaii is different.
The islands are a major calving ground for humpback whales, which are protected under the Endangered Species Act and which tend to be killed by fast ferries more than by slower ships.

Environmentalists are also concerned that the many vehicles the boat can carry will allow mongooses, which have severely depleted Oahu’s bird population, to stow away and be carried to Kauai, which has none.

In addition, the ferries threaten many local businesses, said James H. Wright, a corporate lawyer and longtime observer of Hawaii’s economy, like the inter-island shipping company, three local airlines and car rental companies.

“It will also change the dynamics of nonunion trades,” Mr. Wright said. “Now, it’s more expensive to get work like roofing or plumbing done in the neighbor islands. But with the Superferry, Oahu tradesmen will be able to take their trucks on the ferry and undercut the locals.”

The Superferry will also carry S.U.V.’s and trailered boats, allowing Oahu fishermen frustrated by the island’s depleted waters to gain access to the richer grounds of Maui and Kauai — to the discontent of local fisherman. Those boats might also involuntarily carry bits of Eucheuma seaweed, which is devastating Oahu’s biggest bay, to the neighboring islands.

All these changes seemed inevitable until Aug, 23, five days before the ferry was to begin operation, when Hawaii’s highest court overturned the Maui court ruling and found that the Superferry did require an environmental assessment. But the State Supreme Court did not say whether it could operate during the assessment process.

Mr. Garibaldi then pushed up the Superferry’s launching by two days and slashed fares for cars and passengers to $5, about a tenth of the posted price. On Aug. 26, a nearly full ferry sailed to Maui, then to Kauai and back to Honolulu. But the next day, when it tried to return to Kauai and despite the efforts of the Coast Guard to clear its path, several dozen swimmers, kayakers and surfers prevented the vessel from docking, forcing it to return here after a two-hour standoff.

A judge then issued a temporary order forbidding the Superferry to sail again to Maui until the environment assessment issue is resolved. Hawaii Superferry stopped service to Kauai, Mr. Garibaldi said, until the Coast Guard could guarantee safe docking there.

In the meantime, Mr. Garibaldi said his company had done its utmost to address environmental concerns. “We have special bottom paint that prevents micro-organisms from attaching, we don’t discharge any fluids at sea, we have whale watchers with night-vision gear,” he said. “Are people using the environmental laws to take care of the environment or because they don’t want change?”



POSTED: 5 SEPTMEBER 2007- 4:30pm HST
Maui Court date set back to Monday the 10th

by the AP on 5 September 2007  - 12:15pm HST in Aloha Airlines News

\A state judge is rescheduling a court hearing on whether the Hawaii Superferry can carry passengers between Maui and Honolulu while it conducts an environmental assessment for the service.

The hearing will be now be held on Monday. It had been scheduled for Thursday.
Circuit Judge Joseph Cardoza on Maui didn't give a reason for the change, except that both parties in the dispute requested the move.

Cardoza's temporary restraining order blocking the Superferry from using Kahului Harbor is extended through Monday.

The Sierra Club and other environmentalists are suing Hawaii Superferry to demand they conduct an environmental assessment.



POSTED: 5 SEPTMEBER 2007 - 6:00am HST
Superferry won't run to Kauai until the 8th

by Jonathan Jay on 5 September 2007

As of 2:00pm yesterday the Superferry website showed trips cancelled that were scheduled for Thursday. The first possible trip to Kauai would be Saturday, September 8th.

See it here:


Kauai Voyage Status

Last updated: Tuesday, September 04, 2007, 01:58 PM

Voyage Status
We are suspending service to and from Kaua‘i through September 7.

Current Situation
Talks among law enforcement agencies and the Coast Guard about providing Hawaii Superferry secure access to Nawiliwili Harbor continue. We have not yet been given assurances from the Coast Guard for safe passage into Nawiliwili Harbor.


image above: Nawiliwili Harbor aerial with security blockades in red and likely HSF escape route in blue

If we can't stop them is court, see you at Kalapaki Beach on when the Alakai arrives.

click at right to comment Island Breath Blog

see also:
Island Breath: Maritime Administration & EIS 9/3/07
Island Breath: Support from Oahu's DMZ 8/30/2007
Island Breath: DMZ - Stop the Strykers 7/2/07
Island Breath: Maui Case & Timeline 8/29/07
Island Breath: A Hawaiian's View 8/29/07
Island Breath: We Win Round Three 8/28/07
Island Breath: Plea to Reps and TRO 8/27/07
Island Breath: Rounds One & Two 8/23/07
Island Breath: Boycott the Superferry 8/17/07
Island Breath: Superferry Preparations 8/10/07
Island Breath: Hui-R Superferry Meeting 7/26/2007
Island Breath: Not So Super Ferry 7/24/07
Island Breath: Superferry Invasion 7/22/07
Island Breath: Superferry Noise 7/18/07
Island Breath: Superferry Delayed 5/25/07
Island Breath: Still No Superferry EIS 3/31/07
Island Breath: Superferry EIS Effort 3/25/2007
Island Breath: Superferry EIS Bill hearings 2/26/07
Island Breath: Superferry Promotion 2/24/07
Island Breath: Superferry Launched 1/28/07
Island Breath: Superferry in Trouble
Island Breath: Superferry Reference
Island Breath: Superferry Resistance
Island Breath: Superferry & Military
Island Breath: Superferry History
Island Breath: Stop the Superferry
Island Breath: Superferry Meetings
Island Breath: Superferry Redux
Island Breath: Superferry Problems


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