The Return Of Radical Albertini

Larry Price
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Wednesday - November 14, 2007
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As promised, the governor produced a bill to allow the Superferry to sail into Kauai’s Nawiliwili and Kahului harbors. In the process, she solicited comments and input from a broad range of agencies and entities, consulting with about 22 different individuals. The majority of them were opponents of the Superferry, and their recommendations -all 40 of them - were represented in the bill.

The Superferry hierarchy is on record as saying that the recommendations are doable and they will try to have them all in working form before it sails off to Kauai. It’s going to be something to behold.

And while I can’t imagine how the skipper of the Superferry is going to find time to manage all the conditions on the voyage, I’m sure they are experts, and I’ll just watch with great interest.

It’s obviously going to be a good show, because the opponents are surely planning a few surprises for the Superferry, and state authorities and the Coast Guard have their plans in place also.

Of the 40 conditions, the one that arouses my interest the most is No. 7, which states that the company shall agree to designate a crew member or crew members to be trained by the Department of Land and Natural Resources to monitor its vessel for downed seabirds. Between Sept. 15 and Dec. 15 each calendar year, prior to evening departures from the ports of Nawiliwili, Kahului and Honolulu and prior to morning departures from any harbor after being docked overnight, the company shall agree to retrieve and care for any and all downed seabirds on a vessel in accordance with DLNR policies and procedures, if any. How can they do that and what’s a downed seabird?

After many phone calls I found no one with a legal definition of a “downed seabird.” Most land-lubbers like me assume that a downed seabird is a dead seabird. And why are we worried about downed seabirds when all along the controversy has been about whale collisions? As it turns out, Kauai has a problem with certain unnamed harbor lights that cause seabirds grief. It’s actually been a big problem on Kauai for many years.

Mind you, that’s only one of 40 conditional demands on Superferry management, and they are all fraught with jargon and lack of implementation procedures.

Just do it.

And then a week before the voyage another challenge has emerged - the return of expert activist Jim Albertini. You may not remember the anti-war demonstrations around the state in the 1970s, but they were tumultuous times. Albertini spent a year in federal prison for jumping into Hilo Harbor to protest the entry of a naval vessel supposedly carrying nuclear weapons.

Well, he is now a dedicated opponent of the Superferry and has a web site,, advising young surfers on how to handle the authorities during the arrival of the Superferry.

“Practically, you need to prepare a last will and testament and arrange your personal affairs. If you are subjected to arrest, you face a different set of circumstances. You will be charged with federal and state criminal offenses. You may receive extended sentences in federal or state prison; just violating the security zone subjects you to 10 years in prison and substantial monetary fines. The arranging of personal affairs, includes transferring your assets to someone else so that you can proceed legally in forma pauperis (without liability for court fees.) He also suggests that “Protesters be prepared for these forces to act without restraint resulting in possible physical injury or death.”

After reading Albertini’s advice to the Kauai protesters, it dawned on me that there is a good possibility that the Superferry hierarchy seriously consider avoiding Kauai and just sail to Maui and the Big Island until things quiet down on the Garden Isle. This whole controversy has plenty of blame to go around, but having a bunch of protesters carted off to jail or injured for showing their concern for Kauai’s environment is nonsense.

Superferry management should wait until residents and politicians on Kauai invite them back with open arms and harbors.

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