POSTED: 2 DECEMBER 2007 - 10:45am HST

Da Garibaldi Report

image above: Scene from Scoobie Do "And we’d already be sailing if weren’t for those damn kids!"

Peace Talks Begin to Begin on Kaua`i
by Jonathan Jay on 1 December 2007
rev 3.0 071206

[NOTE: Several astute web surfers have noted the seeming irony of my signature appearing on a open letter that went around last week – one that promised NOT to negotiate with HSF: "We...respectfully decline to participate in any of the reported 'outreach' efforts of the Hawai‘i Superferry" etc. What then was I doing in this meeting?

Although I was initially supportive, Andy Parx - the primary author - and I had a respectful difference of opinion, and so I unsigned. No hard feelings. Unfortunately, several editions of the letter had already been sent out, and the result of that is what some saw.

I absolutely do respect the ‘talk to the hand’ position, I just don’t fully share it. I did see value in attending the meeting with Mr. Garibaldi to convey info from this meeting to other members of the community, such as yourself via this article. Had I not attended, there would be no article below, and we would still be ‘in the dark.’]

Poor guy. He’s rich, he’s powerful, he’s white, the CEO of a major corporation, Military friends in high places, the Governor in his back pocket, a compliant legislature & yet his boat is still not sailing, all for tiny Kaua`i. Because of the “spooky” events of the 26th and 27th of August, and the directives of the legislature, last week he FLEW over from Oahu to try to set the stage for future meetings with community leaders. “We are willing to spend as long as it takes” to ‘smooth things over’ and allow for the “hopeful one day return” of the ‘Alaka`i’ (the first of of five planned vessels, named appropriately enough ‘Leader’ in Hawai`ian) to Kaua`i. You almost want to feel sorry for him. He faces challenges that most people can’t understand – like thinking he should get his way all the time - just because he always has. Poor guy.

And we’d already be sailing if weren’t for those damn Kaua`ians!
Who was there: Former Mayor and present Kaua`i County Council Woman JoAnn Yukimura, lifelong resident and Anti-Over-Development activist Teddy Blake, anti-capitalist and HUI-R participant jonathan jay, & of course, (Large Capacity) High Speed Ferry Corporation CEO, Mr.Garibaldi.

Some of what he had to say for himself:

There is “NO date set for the return of the SuperFerry to Kaua`i.”
“I do not have an agenda.”
“I have come here to listen.“
“We want to avoid a lose-lose.“
When we were here last time, “things were out of control.”
“It was scary – it was spooky”.
“People were placed in danger”
(note use of passive verb form).
“Safety is our primary concern.”
The events of the 26th & 27th were “no way to enter a new market”

And so here was the CEO of the “High Speed, Large Capacity Ferry” corporation handing out business cards to strangers on Kaua`i, doing the ground work to get meetings with community groups on Kaua`i, willing to be receptive. Willing to listen. About to get an earful.

Some of what we said:

The three of us meeting with him told him flatly that he had a huge credibility problem, that the issue wasn’t just superferry vs. no superferry, but right process, that there was massive distrust due to the past actions of the HSF, that the community he needed to focus on was the community which has been insisting on an EIS First and adherence to the law in good faith; that the HSF was responsible for dividing the Kaua`i community and the Honolulu—neighbor island community, and that the way to begin was with a genuine apology to the people of Kaua`i for disrespecting the community and the process. We also said there should be no superferry run until a mediation process that would involve all stakeholders — including leaders who oppose the Superferry and who have been demanding an EIS first. It also needs to include Dept of Ag and DLNR, Police, etc. He seemed open to this.

As a ‘personal favor’ I stated: a significant gesture of credibility restoration would be for the HSF to emphatically disavow the outrageous socially caustic statements being made by Oahu AM Radio shock-jocks like Rick Hamada and Mike Buck that people in Kaua`i were ‘just crazy’ and that the folks in the water were little more than ‘Thugs and terrorists’, to bring the Governor in with him in that process while also clearly acknowledging the legitimacy of the concerns of Kaua`i protestors publicly. Does it help to make these kinds of issues personal? What the heck. JoAnn and Teddy concurred.

We told him flat out, that until these things were done, there was no one on Kaua`i interested in hearing anything he had to say at all. And that even if they did, there would still be people who would never talk to him. We commended him for coming over to listen, instead of trying to come over here and tell us what the deal was going to be. We asked him, why it was that he had waited until now. We told him that as part of HSF’s apology they should admit they made tremendous mistakes in their first effort. He began to quibble with that characterization, but we simply stated the record clearly shows their first approach didn’t work very well. At all. Handy thing, that record.

So, what was different now? He said the events of the 26th and 27th was THE REASON WHY. As we all know, those evenings were a Public Relations nightmare for HSF, but also for many other Hawaiian businesses that depend on tourism too. The news stories that reverberated out of here with photos of Riot cops were the equivalent of hundreds millions of dollars of anti-advertisements across the nation for Hawaiian vacations. “Honey – lets go spend two weeks in the tropical security zone!” Not. Significantly, HSF must have gotten quite an earful from the greater Hawaiian business community to stop rocking the boat – immediately.

He also said back at that time they had a boat under construction, and certain milestone dates needed to be met or the project would collapse. Those factors forced their hand, he said. However, Mr. Garibaldi had no good response to our pointing out that once again they have a (second) boat under construction. That one just dangled. Bottom line he said was they wanted no more incidents like the 26th and 27th. “It was not worth it.”

That works for me.

Teddy Blake, a local community anti-over-development leader in the Koloa district tried to explain to Mr. Garibaldi the feelings and perspectives that motivated many to question the ferry, and why, when those questions went unanswered, but the process continued to churn forward, they became increasingly furious. I personally learned a lot listening to Teddy about locals’ concern of over-exploitation of the local resources, but Garibaldi interrupted him several times to tell him he was “there to listen.” ?Huh? He actually made that statement a number of times over the course of forty minutes – mostly when we were telling him things he extra did not want to hear.

Listening to his words, and closely watching his mannerisms, it seemed clear, that even though HSF had prevailed in kangaroo court as well as the dog and pony legislature, Mr. Garibaldi understood that he had to be here talking to folks, but he really did not understand why.

At one point he even halfway almost apologized – but… didn’t. Couldn’t? I suspect he may not know how, perhaps never having had to. As our meeting closed, and he prepared for his next meeting with Councilmember Tim Bynum, I shared with him this little analogy:

When you go over to someone’s house, they often have a little plaque outside the front door over a pile of shoes and slippers that says something like “Hawaii Style: Aloha! Please take off your shoes It is our way. Mahalo” Even though that sign does not legally mandate or require you to comply, virtually everyone does so anyway, because it is the right thing to do – it is polite and respectful - plus if you don’t, you are an asshole.

“Do you want big muddy footprints all over your rugs in your house, Mr. Garibaldi?”

Neither does Kaua`i.
Neither does Maui.
Nobody does.