Thursday, September 13, 2007

An eloquent statement from Kaua'i Senator Gary Hooser

An eloquent statement from Kauai Senator Gary Hooser (from his journal).
                         Wednesday, September 12, 2007

A response to those with a contrary opinion

Thank you for taking the time to write to me your thoughts and concerns regarding the issue of the Hawaii Superferry. Please know that I respect and honor your perspective on this very important matter.

I also greatly appreciated the opportunity to explain my feelings and thoughts.

The fundamental issue is one of supporting existing law. The Hawaii Supreme Court has ruled that the Department of Transportation (DOT) must conduct an Environmental Assessment on the harbor improvements and resulting impacts that will occur as a result of the Hawaii Superferry operations.

It would be inappropriate for me to support any other position as the Constitution requires me to swear an oath to this effect.

With regards to the protests held recently at Nawiliwili: I would like to be absolutely clear that while I support the right of people to protest and to fully exercise their right to free speech, I do not condone nor support the physically aggressive, illegal and inappropriate behavior of any protester.

It is also important to note that the Hawaii Supreme Courts position on this matter is similar to a position that many in our community have advocated over the past two years - including the County Councils on Kauai, Maui and the Big Island of Hawaii, numerous state legislators and thousands of individual citizens. This is not as some would suggest, a last minute effort to block the Hawaii Superferry.

Governor Lingle and the DOT have steadfastly refused to acknowledge their error in judgment which was pointed out by the Hawaii Supreme Court. Instead, they have repeatedly misrepresented the facts of the situation, claiming that the Hawaii Superferry is being singled out for unfair and unequal treatment.

If you have a moment I strongly encourage you to read a recent article in the Honolulu Advertiser entitled "Hawaii Ferry Not Singled Out" . This well researched article refutes the Hawaii Superferry and the DOT's repeated claim that the Superferry has somehow been treated differently. This article shows clearly that Matson and the Cruise ships have in fact had to undergo environmental assessments when they also used public money for harbor improvements. The Governor and the DOT claim of unfair treatment is simply not true.

Another unfortunate Superferry incident is also described in today's Honolulu Advertiser which you can read here:

It seems that on the first day of operation, 3 people took their pickup trucks from Honolulu to Maui on the Superferrry and loaded them up with river rock stolen from a nearbye stream intending to take the rocks back to Honolulu perhaps for imu pits or rock wall construction. The risk of excessive harvesting on Kauai and Maui of opihi, limu, maile and many other items considered rare and hard to get on Oahu is a real and valid concern that needs to be thoroughly addressed.

The reason our state is in the difficult position it is in today with regards to the Hawaii Superferry, is because the DOT tried to short-cut the public review process and refused to listen and act on community sentiment that was solidly based on existing law. If the DOT had chosen to act more prudently and follow the same process with the Hawaii Superferry as is presently required of many other businesses, there would have been no Hawaii Supreme Court decision, no protests, no negative feelings in the community - and in all likelihood the Hawaii Superferry would now be operating its business as planned, albeit with environmental protections and mitigating factors in place.

In any case, I am hopeful that the above information might be helpful, and perhaps better explain my position with regards to this issue.

Thank you again for taking the time to write and to share with me your thoughts and concerns. Please do not hesitate to contact me again in the future if you would like to discuss this or any issue in perhaps greater detail.

Sincerely, gh