You know, politics—especially the politics of land ownership and jurisdiction—can actually be pretty hot sometimes. Steamy hot—the kind of steamy hot that makes you want to tear off your clothes and run naked into the surf. I discovered today when I received a copy of a letter (dated today) from Rev. Jeanice Barcelo, Overseer for the Ministry of Mary Magdalene, a Corporation Sole to Phil Ohta, the parks superintendent for the state Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR). The letter asks that DLNR not send any “armed officers” to the big Equinox Ceremony the Ministry will hold at Little Beach on Sept. 23. “In order that our congregation be afforded the opportunity to have our ceremony run its natural course, the Ministry has obtained written permission from the Kingdom of Hawaii, signed by His Magesty, Akahi Nui, to hold ceremony through the night,” Barcelo wrote. After adding that she understood DLNR typically likes to close the beach at sunset, Barcelo begged the agency to lay off. “We wish to stress that we are intending to hold a PEACEFUL [emphasis very much in the original] gathering and we would regret deeply if your organization responded to our spiritual intentions in a belligerent or violent way,” Barcelo wrote. “The Kingdom of Hawaii has assured us that any person employed by the State of Hawaii and/or the County of Maui who tries to interfere with this religious gathering will be held personally liable and is under threat of personal lawsuit by the Kingdom.” Now that’s provocative, and not just in the nude beach/religious ceremony kind of way, either.
THURSDAY, Aug. 23
Challenges—the magic word this week is “challenges.” As in the sentence, “Our second quarter results reflect the challenges we continue to face in Hawaii.” That was Colin Veitch, president and CEO of Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL), and he was trying to explain why his firm lost $24.6 million this quarter, according to an Aug. 22 story posted on the Pacific Business News website. Really, it’s kind of sad. The story reports that “slack demand” and “increased competition” have made it tough for the big NCL liners like Pride of Aloha and Pride of America to survive in Hawaiian waters (early next year NCL plans to remove Pride of Hawaii from local service, rename her Norwegian Jade and then send her to Europe). Yeah, Iguess those are challenges.
FRIDAY, Aug. 24
All NCL did was lose a few paltry million dollars. You want real challenges? Ask the folks over at state Department of Transportation (DOT)—those guys are screwed. Turns out all those environmental activists and Maui public officials who spent the last three years clamoring for a full environmental review of the Hawai`i Superferry were right all along. Yesterday the Hawai`i Supreme Court ruled that the DOT actually does need to hand in a complete, total, proper, legal Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on how the Superferry will affect our islands. And back here on Maui, 2nd Circuit Judge Joel August ruled that the DOT also needs to finish some kind of traffic mitigation measures around Kahului Harbor before the Alakai starts service. The reason? According to today’s Advertiser, neither HSF nor the state ever provided “reliable evidence on the actual numbers of vehicles and passengers expected to use the ferry”—numbers that would have appeared in an EIS. Of course, state officials say none of this should stop the Superferry’s proposed Aug. 28 start date. “We have no intention of denying them access at this point,” DOT Director Barry Fukunaga said at a Honolulu press conference today. “The court did not specifically specify that they could not commence operations.” Considering that DOT officials haven’t exactly been on the money concerning the Superferry and state environmental laws, we might not want to consider Fukunaga’s assurances the last word.
SATURDAY, Aug. 25
And now to talk about fresh water challenges:as county officials consider more development projects in South Maui, the county Board of Water Supply wants the Department of Water Supply to declare a drought for the Central Maui Water System, says a county press release sent out Friday. This everyone in Kahului, Wailuku, Waihe`e, Ma`alaea, Paia, Pu`unene, Kihei, Wailea and Makena should cut back water use by 10 percent. But with big development projects like Wailea 670 and the expansion of Makena Resort on the horizon, Upcountry-style mandatory 10 percent restrictions are probably closer than we think.
SUNDAY, Aug. 26
What balls those Superferry guys have! Not only are they going to start service before the EIS is even begun, but they’re also going to spit in the eye of all the environmental activists, public officials and Supreme Court Justices who want an EIS by starting service TODAY at ridiculously discounted fares. Woohoo! USA! USA! Screw residents! Screw state environmental law! Screw the fact that most people who want to see a Superferry EIS don’t oppose the boat in principle, but just want to make sure the thing is as clean as possible. Hey, how about painting a shark’s mouth on the Alakai’s bow, complete with whale fluke bits between the teeth? That would be bitchen!
MONDAY, Aug. 27
Oh, what a difference a day makes. A few hours after local environmental groups convinced Judge Joseph Cardoza–the guy who two years ago said the state didn’t have to do a Superferry EIS–to slap a Temporary Restraining Order(TRO) on the Superferry until Sept. 6, dozens of protesters on Kauai put their own TROin effect by forming a human chain around Nawiliwili Harbor, preventing the boat from docking and forcing it to return to Oahu. Guess this is what happens when you listen to state DOTofficials.
TUESDAY, Aug. 28
Hawai‘i Superferry officials announce they’re “indefinitely”suspending all service to Kauai “after being informed by the U.S. Coast Guard that it would not be able to assure safe passage for the vessel into Nawiliwili Harbor.”Not to throw cold water on all the Maui environmentalists who banded together and spent $50,000 on legal bills fighting the Superferry in court, but the fact that a few dozen Kauai surfers stopped the thing simply by jumping in the water is really cool. Of course, given that Superferry mega-investor John Lehman is an ex-U.S. Navy Secretary, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Alakai started sailing with a contingent of SEALs aboard.
Anthony Pignataro has always loved the phrase “commence operations” for some reason. MTW