Dealing With Superferry Hypocrisy

Larry Price
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Wednesday - October 31, 2007
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Watching the Superferry Special Legislative Session is a lot like watching the World Championships of Poker on Spike TV. As the hands are being played out by those at the table - the Superferry executives, politicians, government agencies, lawyers, Lingle administrative executives - the big question is whether to “hold them or fold them.”

From the sidelines, it looks like the environmentalists and the politicians have the upper hand, appearing more organized and speaking from the same page of their anti-business playbook. You have to admire their resolve. However, admiring the environ-mentalists’resolve withers when compared to trying to put a finger on the legislative leaders tasked with the responsibility of a fair compromise. It’s only a 50-50 chance the Superferry will survive the legislative gauntlet past the weekend.


From the taxpayer’s point of view, there are a lot of warm bodies to blame for the current state of affairs, so trying to place blame on a department or an individual is counterproductive.

The hypocrisy of the problem is easy to document.

There is concern that the Legislature would injure the public’s confidence if it changed the language in a vague law after the courts had ruled against it. Well, that is just not true. They do it all the time.

SR79, generated on July 19, 2004 during the 2004 legislative session, introduced by Sens. Kawamoto, Espero, Aduja, Baker and Inouye, expressed support for Hawaii Superferry Inc. and requested expeditious administrative processing of necessary permits.

If you look at SR79, especially the 13th, it states, “Whereas, the vessels that will be used by Hawaii Superferry Inc. are environmentally friendly.” In the 16th it goes on to say, “Whereas, the Hawaii Superferry Inc. whale avoidance policy is 500 percent stricter than required by the National Humpback Whale Sanctuary with routes concentrated in deep waters where less that 1 percent of whales congregate, therefore, BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Department of Transportation is requested to assist in the expeditious planning and implementation of the fast ferry service.”


The record shows clearly that the Senate can write any kind of legislation they feel like, even where management rights are concerned, and can change their support for a project they overwhelmingly supported in a sworn resolution in 2004.

It will be interesting to observe if the Senate has the courage to stand by its wavering support when faced with overwhelming acceptance by taxpayers on Oahu and overwhelming rejection by the Neighbor Islanders. As of this date, they don’t have the votes, so as mentioned earlier, it’s still a 50-50 proposition.

What future legislators can learn from this mess is that if you are going to be a hypocrite, don’t forget to read resolutions you have signed in the past. It also would make it easier on the taxpayers.

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