Senators and Governor Lingle Need to Keep it Real!

Passing by Pier 19 the other day, while on foot, I couldn’t help but stop and gaze at that boat with the pretty paint job. I felt sorry for it just sitting there looking forlorn and dejected. It got here with all the fan fare and excitement of something new and suddenly it’s all but abandoned.

Hawaii Superferry sits at the dock in Honolulu.

I was going to ignore it and not talk about it but now it’s heading back into the headlines as the Senate has approved a special session that may have Senators agreeing to allow the Superferry to resume operation while the environmental assessment is underway. That may sound wonderful for the Superferry but it’s not to be without regulations and restrictions. The complaints heard the loudest included the protection of the ocean mammals, and the setting up a firewall (for lack of a better word) to prevent the inter-island transfer of invasive species. Of course I don’t know how the Superferry would deal with the latter, but we’ll see.

The regulatory aspects of the legislation now being drafted may be excessively anal and may still push the Superferry out the door. The problem, I believe, is that it needs to just that — anal! There are a variety of reasons for this, not the least of which are the protection of the environment and the keeping of the peace.

Since I’m an emotional rat by nature, the memory of the nasty rhetoric that went back and forth between the islands is still fresh. The proverbial wounds from that whole incident are, at least in my case, healed over for the most part and the aloha between the islands has been restored. BUT, I’m not everybody. I’m fortunate enough to have the mutual camaraderie and inter-island-sharing between Hawaii bloggers to thank for that. And I do thank them!

The problem is, not everybody has access to this support network, and if they do, they tend to not take it seriously. My point? I’m still hearing not-so-nice remarks coming from different corners and it’s going to blow up again without proper, and yes, anal, legislation. That legislation must also be followed by the acceptance of and adherence to these regulations by the Superferry moguls.

I’m glad that I’m not in the shoes of the government officials right now, but I would ask and strongly suggest to them that they keep the legislation real. Compromise is difficult but so needed right now, but not without some true public and environmental legislative decisions in the process. If it needs to be said, say it! If the pretty boat opts to float away, so be it. Protect and serve us, and then let the Superferry figure out how to deal with it!

My heart goes out to both sides because I can see both sides of the issue and I can certainly understand the frustration. The last I heard, there was a promise of some kind of decision or at least some finalized legislation (or something like that) today. At that point, the ball will be in the other court and we’ll see what happens. Good luck you guys, and careful with all that damn coffee! 🙂

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6 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Flo // Oct 19, 2007 at 8:43 am

    The thing is the EA is only going to find things that the Superferry is already willing to do. They have worked with a local extermination company to find the best way to handle not spreading invasive species. So they already have some very good procedures in place for that. As for avoiding whales, that’s so easy it’s not even funny. Some spotters out front and some forward facing sonar and you have a pretty good way to detect and avoid the whales. As for avoiding them, when the fools on Kauai were in Nawilili harbor the captain demonstrated how well he can handle that boat.

    We do some contract work for the Superferry and talk to these guys all the time. The arguments that are being raised are fairly ridiculous. If you visit Kauai, or Maui, or Hawaii, you will see large, really large, cruise ships disgorging thousands of tourists and no one says anything about them. Yet the locals want a way to get from island to island easier and all hell breaks loose. The worst part is, it’s a small minority who are telling the majority what to do. That is NOT how this country works.

    I do not think the “wounds have healed” I think it will be a long time before people can get over the moronic actions by the people on Kauai. It is truly embarrassing when that is the image portrayed in the national media of the islands. It’s really sad.

    A special session of the legislature is apparently going to convene next week to discuss this. Frankly, I hope they let the Superferry run. If it leaves here we are really screwed. $40 million dollars in improvements have already been made to Kahului and Nawilili Harbors, $80 million has been secured, and I’m sure there’s more money involved. If the Superferry is forced to leave they could, and should, sue the state of Hawaii since this whole thing went ahead on promises from the state. Guess who gets to pick up the tab for all of this?? That’s right, us poor slubs who live in this screwed up state and try to make a living here, a place that is so incredibly hostile towards business.

    I agree there were mistakes made early on in this project. Things should have been done differently but hindsight is always 20/20. We have to deal with the situation that we have now and if the Superferry is not allowed to sail, you and I will be picking up the tab for years to come.

  • 2 Evelyn // Oct 19, 2007 at 9:15 am

    Thank you, Flo, for weighing in on this. I can’t say that I disagree with you because I don’t. At the same time, Kauai has my empathy when it comes to protecting their pristine corner of the world. I know the words were harsh and opinions overstated (on both sides). Was some of it ridiculous? Embarrassing? Uh, yeah! But hearing the “why” kind of makes you take a step back and that’s when you start to think about both sides of this argument.

    I understand the Superferry’s business position… it’s horrible what has happened to them! You’re right, we look like a bunch of hostile idiots from a business standpoint. But I understand the need to protect what’s so beautiful and precious to all of us. It’s a tight rope walk for the State right now. I am SO glad you told us about the conversations with the fumigation services! Woo hoo! I am so proud of Superferry for wanting to make it work while taking the concerns of islanders seriously!

    I can’t thank you enough, Flo. Honestly! There are many who will feel the wounds more than others and for a longer period of time, but I’m almost glad Kauai made a ruckus — if they hadn’t, these kinds of protective measures would never have been considered until it was too late. From what you say, it sounds like the Superferry is listening and aiming to protect things as well! I want us all to be excited about it too!

  • 3 Charley Foster // Oct 19, 2007 at 4:40 pm

    Hi Evelyn,
    The Star Bulletin poll reveals that a majority of folks on Kauai want the Superferry to run while an EA is conducted. So, when you see pics of idiots banging on the hoods and letting the air out of the tires of cars trying to come ashore, at least know it is a tiny minority. And at least know that the rest of us welcome you!

  • 4 Evelyn // Oct 19, 2007 at 5:14 pm

    Thanks, Charley! That’s what I meant when I said we just need to take a step back and “hear” each other. I think most of us will forgive each other a lot sooner than the Superferry is going to forgive the State! I honestly think they want to try. Money does get in the way of such things however. Once this is resolved I think we should all go ride the ferry just to help the business get back at least a little of what it has lost because of all the oversights and errors. Thank you so much, Charley! Hearing from Kauai is more than I could possibly ask for!

  • 5 Bobbie // Oct 21, 2007 at 3:18 pm

    We went aboard the SuperFerry when it made a courtesy visit to Kawaihae the day before it (briefly) went into service. It was lovely and all of the staff who gave us Big Islanders a tour of the vessel were so friendly and very enthusiastic about their new job. I feel particularly sorry for all those people who looked forward to a new career working for the SuperFerry, but whose fate is now in limbo at best. I’m sure many could not afford to wait to see what ultimately happens and they’ve likely had to find other work by now.

    I agree with the point made above about the cruise ships, and I would add to that the cargo barges and tugs that come back and forth each day to our island from Honolulu. I can’t imagine that they are any less damaging to the marine environment than the SuperFerry would be.

    Maybe I move in strange circles, but I have yet to personally encounter anyone here on the Big Island who was not looking forward to the prospect of SuperFerry service next year. (My understanding is that service to Kawaihae was to begin in mid-to-late 2008.)

    I hope a way can be found to solve the issues to everyone’s mutual benefit.

  • 6 Evelyn // Oct 21, 2007 at 4:50 pm

    Here rests a comment from a diver! Thank you, Bobbie, for your comment and for sharing some opinions from the Big Island! Because of your passion for diving, I would like to think that you, of all people, would be one of the first to protest if you had even an inkling or a supposition of environmental wrong doing. We’ll see how it goes and hopefully all will go well for all the interested parties… including the employees that were displaced!

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