The state’s doing the whole Hawai‘i Superferry Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) thing bass-ackwards, which means hearings on how the big boat will affect us are starting up now, after the boat’s been more or less operating for four months. Here are 15 things to think about during the upcoming Maui hearing:
1 Hawai‘i Superferry Inc. officials told the state Public Utilities Commission that, at most, the Alakai would lose 10 days a year to bad weather. Since the boat started service on Dec. 13, she’s missed 14. 2 The Superferry Alakai is, at the moment, still being repaired after being seriously damaged when company officials had it drydocked to repair an auxiliary rudder problem. 3 According to the Feb. 2, 2008 Maui News, Mayor Charmaine Tavares banned all county employees from using the Superferry for official business. 4 Two words: seasick pills. 5 A Dec. 29, 2004 Department of Transportation (DOT) memo written by unknowns and unearthed by the Advertiser during a public records request says requiring a Superferry environmental review before the boat begins service is the “Right thing to do,” brings “Less risk in that we avoid probable challenges,” “Would address public concerns,” “minimize opposition,” “gain support” and is necessary because “Comments received to date are valid concerns and should not be left unanswered.” 6 Despite investing $1 million in Hawai‘i Superferry, Inc., the Maui Land & Pineapple Company is not using the boat to ship any fruit because, according to the Feb. 3, 2008 Honolulu Advertiser, it’s not “cost-effective.” 7 The boat, despite being capable of carrying 866 passengers and 282 cars, hasn’t carried anywhere near those numbers. 8 It costs an extra $20 on top of the regular passenger fare to get into the Hahalua Lounge that overlooks the boat’s bow. 9 John Lehman, HSF’s Chairman of the Board, is a former U.S. Navy Secretary who once ordered Naval Investigative Service agents to investigate an archbishop simply because he was an outspoken opponent of Lehman’s plan to name a nuclear-powererd attack submarine the USSCorpus Christi. 10 State Senator J. Kalani English sent out a Dec. 18, 2007 press release saying that he “received a report that a Young Brothers vessel carrying goods to Maui was forced to remain outside Kahului Harbor while the Superferry was docked” and that while he understood “that was because of security measures… we should not have to decide between serving inter-island travelers and serving our own residents’ daily needs.” 11 That same Dec. 29, 2004 DOT memo cited above said not doing a Superferry environmental review before service began “may trigger a challenge where we may be subject to the courts’ schedule and processes.” 12 The unanimous Aug. 23, 2007 Hawai‘i Supreme Court ruling saying that contrary to the insistences of HSF and Governor Linda Lingle, there did in fact need to be a Superferry environmental review. 13 Despite repeated assurances from HSF officials that they intend to return to Kauai, the Superferry has not attempted to return to Nawiliwili Harbor since Aug. 26, 2007, when nearly three-dozen protesters on surfboards blocked its arrival. 14 On Nov. 9, 2007, a few days before Judge Joseph Cardoza lifted the injunction he’d placed on the Superferry preventing it from entering Kahului Harbor, HSF officials told the state Public Utilities Commission that “an emergency exists” and that they need special expedited review of new promotional fares because “any delay… will result in substantial damage to HSF. The PUC agreed and approved the new fares without public comment or even announcement, which is completely legal in the State of Hawai‘i. 15 Between 2004 and 2007, Hawai‘i Superferry officials spent $175,000 on lobbyists and political campaign contributions—$12,000 of which went to Governor Lingle, HSF’s staunchest supporter during the time.
State officials will hold two “informational meetings” on the Hawai‘i Superferry EIS on Monday, Mar. 17 (2-5 p.m., 6-9 p.m.) at the Henry Perrine Baldwin High School Auditorium, 1650 Ka‘ahumanu Ave., Wailuku. MTW