POSTED: 15 OCTOBER 2007 - 7:00am HST

image above: Governor Linda Lingle and General Robert Lee, left, greet Irwandi Yusuf of Indonesia
Lingle, the Superferry & her future

by Joan Conrow on 13 October 2007 in Kauai Ecletic Blog

Heard from a very reliable, well-placed source that Gov. Lingle issued the order in a private meeting Friday morning: the Superferry moves forward, with no EIS, at any cost.

The any cost, of course, is Hawaii's environmental law — and the state's dissenting citizens. And what role might that stance portend for her "unified command" forces?

It doesn't sound promising.

I'm intrigued why Lingle is putting herself so far out politically for Hawaii Superferry.

She even called a press conference yesterday to remind lawmakers that a bailout bill is "not just between the Legislature and myself, but the Superferry has to agree that this is something that will enable them to operate in a way that they can stay in business."

Superferry officials, of course, have resisted an EIS every step of the way. Why would they agree to one now?

And why is Lingle pushing so hard to make sure Superferry is not only accommodated, but on its terms? Or as Councilwoman JoAnn Yukimura asked, to huge applause, at the infamous Sept. 20 meeting with the governor: "Why is the state aligning itself with the Superferry and not representing the People for the Preservation of Kauai?"

Some folks have pointed to $25,000 in campaign contributions from Superferry officials and supporters, but as Lingle noted, that amount is peanuts, representing only one half of one percent of the campaign total.

It can't be for reasons of pride, either, because she still claims she bears no responsibility for the current mess, and wasn't in on the DOT decision to exempt Superferry.

And I'm sorry, but I don't believe she's driven by the belief that it's what's best for Hawaii. Politicians don't expend this kind of political capital on the public good.

No, Lingle's gunning for the Senate, and she wants to prove herself a good Republican by following the example set by our President: sacrifice the environment to business, and put naysayers off in a designated "demonstration zone" where they can't be easily seen or heard. And if they continue to speak out, or make a scene, toss their butts in jail.

I first met Lingle nearly 20 years ago, when she was a newcomer to the Maui County Council and I was reporting for the Advertiser. I liked her. She was smart, thoughtful and accessible, to the public and the press.

As councilwoman, she sat through numerous contentious public hearings over development on Maui. She's too akamai not to have known something like the Superferry would trigger opposition and near-certain litigation.

I hadn't seen Lingle in the flesh for several years until she walked onto the stage at Kauai's Convention Hall and faced a large and boisterous crowd. Despite her claims of encountering a rude, unruly mob, Lingle was in charge from the very start. I was impressed by her composure, and her strength, as she stood at the podium for more than three hours.

I was dismayed, though, at her cold rigidity. She was greeted on stage with an oli and hugs, but I'm not sure if she knew that those who welcomed her had demonstrated against the ferry at Nawiliwili Harbor. If she understood the significance of their greeting, she didn't let on, because she in turn expressed no warmth or aloha to the crowd.

Lingle's political mastery was evident that night, but I couldn't help wondering, what had happened to Linda, the person? Why had a woman who once prided herself on accessibility refused, months earlier, to even accept a petition signed by more than 5,000 Kauai residents? Had she been so long away from Molokai that she forgot how rural islanders think and feel? Or did she no longer care, because we're politically insignificant in terms of her greater aspirations?

Yes, Lingle likely does have the political clout to push Superferry forward, at any cost — and survive an impeachment drive launched by Big Island attorney Lanny Sinkin.

But she may ultimately find that the price of her militant stance on Superferry is greater than she expected to pay.

I'll close with the words of Aung San Suu Kyi, the imprisoned leader of Burma's nonviolent movement for human rights and democracy: "The way forward is not through repression, but through reconciliation."



POSTED: 15 OCTOBER 2007 - 7:150am HST

Lingle, the Military, and the Superferry

by Larry Geller Saturday 13 October 2007 on

Hawaii's governor Linda Lingle has canceled her planned trip to Korea, China and Japan to be here for a likely special session of the Hawaii Legislature. She is supporting the Hawaii Superferry Corporation in breaking through the state's environmental protection laws and starting business immediately—over the objections of hundreds if not thousands of Neighbor Island residents.

Why? Maybe it's because the ferry's military usefulness would be lost if it isn't allowed to ply the whale-filled waters around Hawaii. A huge ferry exempted from environmental protection laws is just what is needed to move those Stryker vehicles from island to island.

Is this a "hidden agenda?" It has been discussed largely on the Internet. Lingle has had a hidden military agenda before.

On her June 2007 trip to Indonesia, even though she was accompanied by a reporter from the Honolulu Advertiser, it only came out from stories in the foreign press that a secret (to us) deal had been concluded for military cooperation between Hawaii and Indonesia. The deal was for maintenance of military equipment for the bloody Indonesian military:

"We should build up cooperation between the TNI (Indonesian Armed Forces) and the Hawaiian National Guard to beef up professionalism at the level of soldiers and low-ranking officers on maintenance of military equipment, such as helicopters and other equipment made by the United States," [Indonesian Defense Minister] Juwono said.

"In the coming months, scores of our soldiers will be sent to Hawaii to get trainings of the maintenance which could boost the capacity of troops," he added.

An Advertiser article did report on meetings but omitted the details found in the foreign press reports:

JAKARTA, Indonesia — The governor will meet with Indonesian Vice President Muhammad Jusuf Kalla tomorrow morning, the third of a series of meetings with high-level Indonesian leaders to discuss a state military partnership with the country.

The Indonesian government supports torture and atrocities against its own people by its military. For more on why Hawaii (or anyone else) should have nothing to do with the Indonesian military, here is a recent article, Funding Indonesia’s Abusive Military. Lingle was accompanied on that trip by Maj. Gen. Robert Lee, state adjutant general, among others.

Lingle has just canceled her planned trip to Asia in order to push the Superferry exemption through the Legislature, but the press release announcing her trip is still on her website. In Governor Lingle to Strengthen Business, Tourism and Education Relations with Korea, China and Japan, we read that"

The Governor will be accompanied by members of the Administration who will take part in various segments of the trip, including Marsha Wienert, state tourism liaison; Ted Liu, director, Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT); Major General Robert Lee, state adjutant general; and Lenny Klompus, senior advisor-communications. Dr. David McClain, president, University of Hawai‘i (UH), as well as Hawai‘i Tourism Authority and DBEDT staff will also participate in portions of the trip.

Nowhere in the rest of the article does it mention why General Lee is accompanying the Governor. We can only guess. Will there be military talks? If so, what does Hawaii, as a state, have to do with international military matters?
Back now to the Superferry.

The link between the Superferry and military interests is clarified in this comment by ConcernedOnMaui to a post on David Shapiro's Volcanic Ash blog. I know it's bad form to steal a whole comment from another blogger, but I've not seen anything this well stated, so I steal with great appreciation and admiration:

Let’s be clear about the persons and interests that are behind the Hawaii Superferry.
The Board of Directors of the Hawaii Superferry reads like a roster of revolving door ex-military officials. Like John F. Lehman, former Secretary of the Navy and founder of the investment firm JF Lehman, a company that specializes in investing in military industries with a controlling interest in the Superferry.

Lehman is associated with the Heritage Foundation, the notorious Right Wing think tank that intellectually and politically influenced such anti-Native Hawaiian and anti-environmental groups as the Grassroots Institute, Pacific Legal Foundation and Aloha for All. He is also associated with the Project for a New American Century, the folks that cooked up the illegal and catastrophic occupation of Iraq and a blueprint for U.S. Empire (well, they euphemistically called it “Pax Americana”).

Lehman proudly announced that the Hawaii Superferry would partner with the military as a “Westpac Express” to shuttle Strykers and other military personnel and equipment between islands and beyond. The first Westpac Express was a contract between the U.S. military and the Austal Corporation, makers of the Superferry, to move U.S. military personnel and equipment around Australia and Southeast Asia.

According to testimony from Sean Connaughton, Maritime Administrator of the U.S. Department of Transportation before the House Subcommittee on Seapower and Expeditionary Forces of the Armed Services Committee (March 15, 2007), U.S. taxpayers subsidized $140 million of the $180 million price tag for two Superferries through Title XI loan guarantees.

Connaughton said that “Although the Administration has not requested funding for new loan guarantees since 2001, Congress has periodically appropriated money for this purpose.” He seemed to suggest that the Superferry was another pork barrel earmark project.

Further he stated,“The ferries are also militarily useful and [Transportation Command] has expressed an interest in them. The Hawaii SuperFerry vessels will be offered for enrollment in the Voluntary Intermodal Sealift Agreement, or VISA, program.”

Like the Strykers and the UARC, the Superferry is a conspiracy by politicians, the military and corporations to impose their profit and military driven agendas on Hawai‘i over the opposition of affected communities and regardless of the ultimate costs, consequences and impacts. Kaua‘i’s powerful assertion of their right to live in peace and protect their island from invasive and destructive forces is an example we can all learn from.

Lingle didn't tell us she was going to Indonesia to make a deal to maintain military equipment, and we don't know why she was planning to take Maj. Gen. Lee with her on a business/tourism/education trip to Asia. So it would not be surprising to learn that there is also a military motive behind her unrelenting stance re the Superferry.

We don't know what promises might have been made, though we can see the energy Lingle is putting into the fight. That alone makes me wonder what has been left unspoken.

Maybe we are all being taken for a ride by the Superferry.

Superferry in demand elsewhere,
makes good military transport too!

by Larry Geller on 14 October 2007on

There's no question that Superferry executives are keeping their eye on the money. Much of it may be military money. In comments to the previous post, Scott Crawford mentioned that there were references to the military uses of the Superferry in the company's original filings to the Public Utilities Commission. Doug jumped right in with the URL. Thanks to you both!

I'll list up some documents that readers may be interested in at the end of this post.

The PUC application includes the illustration at right specifically indicating a use for the Superferry in moving Stryker vehicles to and from the Big Island (click image for larger version).

It's possible that there are big bucks in this, and that the passenger end of the business might be only a part (big part? small part?) of the ferry's profitability. A transport vessel cleared to operate in Hawaii's whale-rich waters would be just what the military wants. Without the environmental clearance, of course, this potentially lucrative opportunity disappears.

Now, could this be part of why the Legislature is discussing the Superferry issue in secret? Could it be that the Superferry is being pushed for its military uses, and no one wants to introduce that into the public dialogue? A whole new realm of protest would arise if it turned out that the Superferry was really intended to be a key component of the military Stryker force.

Is it at all farfetched to suggest that the Superferry might have substantial military business? Let's look at the company behind it, J.F. Lehman & Company. Here is a snippet from their philosophy page (you might want to read the whole thing, a small snippet does not give the complete picture):

The firm focuses on the U.S. and U.K. defense markets which are joined by close strategic and cultural alliances and are well known to the principals. These sizeable markets are further augmented by J.F. Lehman's ability to address companies whose defense-based technologies have attractive commercial applications.

Here's the bio page for John F. Lehman, Chairman and Founding Partner. As you see, he's a highly educated, highly experienced executive with a superb military background. Once again, please read the whole thing, but here is just one paragraph:

From 1981 to 1987, Dr. Lehman served as Secretary of the United States Navy. As the chief executive of the U.S. Navy, Dr. Lehman was responsible for the management of 1.2 million people, an annual budget of approximately $100 billion and total assets equivalent to those of the seven largest Fortune 500 corporations combined. Prior to serving as Secretary of the Navy, Dr. Lehman was President of the aerospace consulting firm Abington Corporation, served as a delegate to the Mutual Balanced Force Reductions negotiations and was the Deputy Director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency.

This guy can certainly do more than ferry tourists and imu rocks between islands in Hawaii.
Looking now at the corporation's application to the PUC, we find military uses mentioned explicitly:

The vessels might also be chartered to the military from time to time for movement of troops and equipment, mainly from Oahu to the Big Island for military exercises. [p. 3]

(Hmmm.... when it is chartered to the military, will it still be making civilian runs?)

Military Usefulness. Discussions regarding potential military use are ongoing. The technology to be used in Applicant's vessels has proven useful to the U.S. military
in other locations. The military currently operates four hybrid catamarans, including the Austal-built WestPac Express, which runs on an Okinawa-Japan-Thailand route, and the Army and the Marines are currently exploring the acquisition of a significant number of high-speed vessels using this same technology.

The vessels are attractive to the military because of the high speed at which they operate, their open-ocean seakeeping, reliability and operating economics, and their ability to move troops with heavy vehicles and equipment. In Hawaii, it is anticipated that an entire battalion will be able to be transported from Oahu to the Big Island on four trips at lower cost than the current transit time of 10-14 days using commercial airlines and military landing craft or chartered commercial barges. Exhibit 13 depicts a ferry in military use. [p. 10]

Exhibit 13 is the illustration near the top of this article. Click for a larger version.
It's easy to see that being able to transport an entire battalion from Oahu to the Big Island and back at a reasonable cost would be a very attractive military application. The Superferry's owners have the clout to get such a contract.

Of course, they would need the environmental clearance or no lucrative military contracts, I assume. And here we all thought they needed it to carry passengers, SUVs and pets!

So just why do we need a special session?

Now that we know there are potentially lucrative military contracts to be had, we can question why the ferry stays here only to supposedly bleed money.

The scare tactic has been that the ferry is losing so much money that it will be an economic disaster for the company unless the Legislature exempts them from the law. Check out this paragraph, the very last in today's Advertiser article, Legislators push for Hawaii ferry probe:

Superferry's chief financier John Lehman last week told the Press-Register in Mobile, Ala., where shipbuilder Austal is located, that the vessel is in high demand because there are few like it anywhere else in the world. He said it could easily find work outside Hawai'i as a military transport or civilian ferry.

Yup, all the way at the end of the story. So now we learn that the ferry is not in danger of going bankrupt or anything. In fact, it is in high demand elsewhere.
With military contracts in Hawaii and maybe some passenger revenue also, why shouldn't the ferry just go off somewhere to take advantage of the high demand Lehman has identified? As we learned, he's an experienced and knowledgeable guy.

Then, if and when an EIS reaches a favorable outcome, either that ferry or the other being built for Hawaii could come back and start service here.
The ferry company isn't planning to operate in Hawaii because they have kind hearts. They expect to make more money here than by deploying the ships elsewhere (or they'd just deploy them elsewhere, right?).
So let them go, they'll be back.

We don't need a special session. Market forces will bring it back. Unless the EIS comes out against it, of course.

Oh, we better pay some attention to the EIS and whether it will be conducted properly. Will the contract with Belt Collins contain a pesky little paragraph requiring that their final report meet State requirements or they don't get paid? But that's another article.

Let the ferry go, let it be free. Cancel the special session and get on with the investigation of how we got into this mess. Print photos in the paper of it departing Honolulu Harbor for military operations elsewhere. If there's really money to be made here, you can bet it (or its sister ship) will be back.

Let's get on with other important challenges and opportunities.

see also:
Island Breath: Legislature Contact List
Island Breath: HSF Slice & Swath Technology 9/5/07
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: Superferry & Military
Island Breath: Superferry History
Island Breath: Stop the Superferry
Island Breath: Superferry Meetings