Sunday, March 22, 2009

Superferry Saga...week in review

There were so many rumors, reports, letters and videos out there in the media over the past week, that it was hard to keep up with all of them. This post will be a quick review of the more interesting of those:

First a letter to the editor in the Maui paper:


Count on Harry Eager to get it wrong (Maui News 3/17). In fact, the five member Hawaii Supreme Court unanimously agreed that Act 2 is unconstitutional special legislation. All five justices also agreed that the private attorney general doctrine applied and that attorney’s fees and costs are warranted to the prevailing environmental groups.

The only dissent involved two justices who took the position that Superferry should pay the attorney’s fees and costs, while the three member majority held that both the State of Hawaii Department of Transportation and Superferry are responsible.

Jeffrey Parker


Media rumors were reported that the Alakai might go to Guam. Was also reported that the Alakai might be sent to an Austal yard to be fitted with an onboard ramp. Media rumors were reported that the Huakai (the second vessel) might go to Malta or may be leased to the military. The NYT reported that the Huakai was completed last week. KGMB-9 reported off the record that last week HSF had begun hiring Kaua'i staff and was planning on starting service to Kaua'i again in May, before the Supreme Court decision came down.

KITV/MSNBC reported on Wed. March 18, 2009, that Senate President Colleen Hanabusa said, "'I believe the new Superferry is not going to fall within the purview of the present environmental laws.' The Senate president is also an attorney trained to find loopholes. Hanabusa pointed out another one: [she feels] there is no legal barrier to Superferry going to and from Kauai or the Big Island. The state attorney general agreed."

KGMB-9 reported on Wed. March 18, 2009, that Lingle said of the decision, "It basically concluded that the Legislature can never do anything that favors one group over another, but that's what they do everyday." And Hanabusa added, "That's more of the concern that we have as a Legislature. It goes beyond just Superferry it goes to other pieces of legislation that we've done." Never mind that that's not what the specified decision actually said.

KGMB-9 reported on Wed. March 18, 2009, with video on a press conference on Kaua'i about the Supreme Court decision. The press conference had been originally called in response to the expected speaking engagement of Fargo that had been planned for March 19, but was cancelled. [March 19 was also the day of the Act 2 Scoping Meeting on Kaua'i one year earlier and fittingly March 19 is also the anniversary of the Iraq War.] Here is the The Garden Island newspaper report on the press conference.

San Francisco Chronicle reported on Thurs. March 19, 2009, Hawaii Insider travel reporter Jeanne Cooper writes a nice recap of these events and ends the article "Superferry's Sunken Image" with the following, "While Hawaii Insider is fond of taking ferries elsewhere on this planet, her stay on Maui last week reminded her again of how precious the whales and their island waters are to the people of Hawaii and its visitors. They're certainly worth the time it would take for an environmental study to prove (or disprove) that they would not be harmed if the Superferry continued."

The Honolulu Advertiser's Lee Cataluna on Thurs. March 19, 2009, had the best mainstream media Op-Ed of the week in "Superferry didn't have to be fiasco."

The Maui Time Weekly reported on Thurs. March 19, 2009, in "Ferry Interesting," Rob Parsons (no relation) writes a post Supreme Court decision follow up to his widely read status report of the prior week. Good quotes in this one. ; )

The Honolulu Advertiser reported on Fri. March 20, 2009, in "Study Ordered as Ferry Ends," reported low ridership figures for the fall and winter and the following quote, "Brennon Morioka, the director of the state Department of Transportation, said state contractor Belt Collins 'has completed most of the work' on the $1.5 million environmental review ordered by the law the court struck down. The department will essentially start the process over under the procedural framework of state's more stringent environmental review law, known as Chapter 343, but hopes to transfer the bulk of the work already performed into the new document. Morioka said a completed environmental review could be used by Superferry or any other ferry company interested in the Islands."

Brennon Morioka and Mike Formby have agreed in e-mail that a NEW Draft EIS under Chapter 343 needs to be written and comments on it sought from the public. They did not say, though, whether the state DOT recognizes that new scoping meetings need to be held on that new Draft EIS to properly set it's new parameters.

The Got Windmills? Daily Op-Ed Tilt from Rabid Reporter Andy Parx on Fri. March 20, 2009, in USED GUIDE DOG FOR SALE writes a piece of biting satire that attracted wide attention for the best sarcasm of the week on this topic.

KITV reported on Sat. March 21, 2009, that "The new [EIS] review will take four to six months...employees said the Superferry told them Saturday it may be back in touch in two month when it knows more about the possibility of resuming service here with its second ship. The Superferry's second ship has just been completed and is sitting in Mobile."

Lastly from Disappeared News on Sun. March 22, 2009, was the following spot on comment, "In the short, erratic regulation like that demonstrated by the entire Superferry debacle only increases transaction costs making it hard to enter markets and harder to remain profitable. If we truly want to be business friendly, we need to weed out this kind of erratic, ad hoc regulation and utilize systematic policy making and planning to inform regulation. Otherwise, businesses will spend more money lobbying when they see one business getting a pass. Yet, in order to spend money you've got to have it and so this system of back scratching only helps incumbents and tends towards oligopoly and monopoly." posted by line of flight 5:22 PM HST

There you have it, the dope on this for the past week,
Aloha, Brad

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