Poinography!

January 10, 2009

Poinography November 2007 archive

Filed under: — Doug @ 2:28 pm

Poinography!

11/30/2007

State workers warned not to shop at unethical CompUSA sale

Filed under: HI State Politics — Doug @ 7:31 pm
Since I am still on a faculty and staff email distribution list at UH (even though I no longer work on campus), I received a link to this (PDF) press release today.

According to the release, state employees who have previously made government purchases from CompUSA were invited by email to spread the word about two special sale events where state employees (it doesn’t say how state employment would be verified) could enjoy special discounts. The State Ethics Commission caught wind of it and is lowering the boom. Definitely makes me wonder if the special sale events are still going to occur and, should they occur, if there is going to be any attempt to identify and punish any state employees who disregard the Ethics Commission bulletin.

Comments (5)
Chinen’s resignation; what impact on lawsuit?

Filed under: HI State Politics — Doug @ 7:31 pm
With the local media reporting this week on the resignation of Melanie Chinen, the Administrator of the State Historic Preservation Division, I am wondering what effect that will have on the federal civil rights lawsuit that alleges Ms. Chinen was bowing to political pressures to influence the approval process at the Division.

With two of the key defendants now resigned (i.e. Awana and Chinen), what legal (and/or political) impact will that have?

Comments (0)
11/29/2007

Case to teach Political Communication at HPU

Filed under: General — Doug @ 7:10 pm
On page 11 of the latest MidWeek Weekend, a page which begins a strange crypto-advertorial section by and about Hawaii Pacific University, there is news that Ed Case has taken a teaching position at HPU.

Case teaches Political Communication, a course devoted to rhetorical and propaganda analysis, attitude change studies, voting studies, government and news media, functional and systems analysis, technological changes, campaign techniques, and research techniques.

That’s a very broad syllabus (what I’d call a “survey” course, judging by this paragraph alone), so students should not expect very much depth in any one of those topics. It’s also a mystery why Case chose to partner with the private HPU instead of one of the public University of Hawaii campuses, especially since he just donated his legislative papers to the Hamilton Library. Maybe Case got tired of waiting for a nomination to be a legislator in residence? I dunno.

Anyway, I’d sure be interested to audit some of the class meetings. Ed Case on “campaign techniques” and “attitude change studies?” Insert your own punch line here…

Comments (5)
11/28/2007

The understudy won’t make her debut until December 6

Filed under: HI State Politics, HI Media, Neighbor Islands — Doug @ 7:08 pm
The State is working to resolve (or mitigate) the problems with surge at Kahului Harbor that damaged the loading and unloading barge and expects that work to be done by Friday, November 30. Nevertheless, the superferry no longer has plans to sail on December 1 as originally announced. Instead, the ship will wait and will sail on December 6, supposedly to allow time to “align” the barge and the ship.

Now, trying to get inside the head of a public relations flack; could the delay be based on other unstated reasons?

December 1 is a Saturday, when more opponents of the superferry could be mobilized to protest. December 6, on the other hand, is a Thursday. Thursday is a slow news day, and, as a weekday, that day offers fewer opportunities for protesters with jobs to participate in any protests. Indeed, there are no organized protests announced for Thursday, but there is a protest scheduled for Saturday, December 8.

Next, could it be that the Hawaii Superferry didn’t want to share the limelight on Saturday, December 1st? A certain football game is set for that same day, a game upon which, it would seem from media accounts, the fate of the entire free world may hinge. That game is going to be THE news on December 1 and 2. Given that likelihood, even if the ferry sailed and sank on December 1, the story could end up on page 5 (unless there were a Warrior hook associated with the catastrophe). I’m sure the ferry folks don’t want to be on the front page for the same reasons as the last time it sailed to Nawiliwili, but I bet they would like the coverage of the trip to Kahului to be on the front pages above the fold and the lead story on the evening television news broadcasts.

Last, a big northwest swell is forecasted for the next several days statewide, and the channels between the islands will be rough. It remains to be seen if the design of the ship is going to be able to keep motion sickness among passengers under control. My hunch, as a person with a few tens of thousands of miles under my keel in various ships and sailboats, is that it won’t. The long range surf forecast is less accurate, but even a 5-day delay may not give passengers any relief from heavy seas.

So, maybe the delay is all about the loading barge, but I have my doubts.

UPDATE: As I was saying…

Comments (1)
11/27/2007

When you see holiday lights, that should be your cue to call your legislator

Filed under: HI State Politics — Doug @ 7:10 pm
Good advice from Senator Hooser here:

As the year 2007 draws to a close, the time remaining to prepare for the 2008 legislative session is growing increasingly scarce. When holiday celebrations and year end vacations are taken into consideration, there remains less than 26 working days in which to complete all pre-session work.

The annual 60 day legislative session begins on January 16 and ends on sine die (Latin translation “without a day”), also known as the final adjournment of the session during the first week of May. This is the time period when new laws are passed, old laws amended and the State Budget approved. During this intense 4 month period, I am working daily at my Capitol office in Honolulu.

The time for residents to meet and to dialogue personally with their legislators is now, before the start of the 2008 legislative session. Once the session begins, schedules are such that it becomes extraordinarily challenging to set aside the quality time needed for in depth, personal discussions.

Contrary to what some cynics may think, this opportunity is not exclusively for lobbyists and campaign contributors. Your legislators, unless he or she is a political moron (in which case you’d be better off not meeting with him or her) will set aside some time to discuss your legislative priorities before things get too hectic.* Once session begins, however, a constituent’s chances of getting a substantive meeting more than 15 minutes long are slim. **

* Unless you are a representative of a known or suspected kook fringe, in which case you may be shunted to a meeting with an intern.

** Lobbyists and campaign contributors, your mileage may vary.

Seriously, though, don’t try to get his or her attention once the green flag drops; it’s too late already at that point. Realistically, you should have been working during the interim. If you’re just getting started now, then you should plan on 2008 being a year simply to get your legislation introduced and maybe heard once or twice in committee. Still, even that seemingly wasted effort can have value in the long run, so don’t procrastinate.

Comments (5)
11/26/2007

Shield Law panel meets

Filed under: HI Media — Doug @ 8:05 pm
Mahalo to Georgette Deemer at the House Majority blog for her account of the panel discussion about a shield law for Hawaii. Hopefully somebody in the room recorded this event and will put it online.

[Media attorney] Portnoy said that the legislature will have the hardest time defining what is journalist and what is a blogger. Also, how extensive should the law be? Should it extend to Grand Juries? He believes the shield law should be as absolute as possible with some minor exceptions.

[Advertiser reporter] Jim Dooley pointed out that he was the only working journalist at the table, and his comments were based on whether such a law would impact on his daily work. I’m not clear on whether he favors a law or not. I got the sense that there are certain situations in which the protection would help to get sources to talk more freely and to not fear that a reporter would “rat him out” when push came to shove. On the other hand, he does not feel comfortable with government licensing or even defining journalists.

Portnoy added that it would be a mistake to frame the issue around the protection of confidential sources, because the real need is to protect the reporter’s day to day work product – the notes, the computer files, the photographs, the footage, etc.

Ian [Lind of iLind] provided a different perspective. I’m sure that he will go into greater detail of his position on his own blog. He offered the perspective that if the shield law did not include bloggers, that it would mainly be a protection for corporate media, and a step toward the government licensing of media. And in that sense, it would be unconstitutional.

Dave Briscoe from the AP offered an opinion that he did not want government to define what a journalist is or is not and asked whether it was possible to shield the product rather than who produces it.

Briscoe and I seem to be on the same wavelength.

I’m glad that Briscoe and Dooley felt comfortable voicing their opinion publicly. It remains to be seen if they and other media professionals will be providing testimony on whatever legislation emerges in January, or if that type of active involvement in the political process would be seen by journalists (and/or their supervisors) as crossing an ethical line.

Comments (7)
Tasers “an option” for Hawaii County PD

Filed under: HI State Politics, Honolulu Politics, Neighbor Islands — Doug @ 8:05 pm
With the topic still somewhat fresh in my mind from a recent post at Disappeared News, I was interested to read the stories from Hawaii County about the Police Department’s new tasers. (The West Hawaii Today version is slightly different from the Hawaii Tribune-Herald version)

A few interesting paragraphs:

The wording of the policy regarding Tasers hasn’t been added to the general orders book at the Kealakehe Police Station, nor is the use of force policy available on the Police Department’s Web site, though other orders are. In general, according to the use of force policy, officers may use “less than lethal force” to protect themselves or other people from physical harm, to restrain or subdue a person who is resisting arrest or to “bring an unlawful situation safely and effectively under control.”

[Deputy Chief] Kubojiri offered a summary of the policy, which he said was not a continuum of force, as some departments follow, but a description of “force options.” Other nonlethal force options include Oleoresin Capiscum, or pepper spray, and batons.

The deputy chief said use of force reports, which all officers must submit following the use of a Taser, firearm, pepper spray or other type of force, are not available for public review.

County Council Chairman Pete Hoffmann, Kohala, said he agrees with keeping the reports, even without naming officers involved, out of the public eye.

“What would I do with the knowledge or information,” Hoffmann said. “I don’t have an authorization to take action based on those reports.”

Wha?! Evidently Hoffman is unfamiliar with the concept of civilian control and oversight of those authorized to use force on behalf of the government. His lack of curiosity is disturbing. As for the use of force reports being withheld from public review, I think it would be worth filing an open records law request to see just how tightly the HPD wants to hold on to those data.

A bit of Google searching turned up a letter from 2004 from the ACLU suggesting that the Honolulu Police Department not allow Taser use except as a substitute for lethal force. This led me to wonder if the Honolulu PD use of force policy was in fact subsequently amended, but I can’t find the policy online. However, I did find the 2004 and 2005 Police Commission Annual Reports which did not show any “sustained” complaints regarding Taser use (not even for the instances described by the ACLU, which may be among the 2 complaints “not sustained” in 2004). One complaint for “unnecessary use of force” was sustained by the Police Commission in 2005. I don’t know if use of force lawsuits against the HPD are reflected in these annual reports, or if the reports are limited only to formal complaints filed with the Commission.

Going back to Councilmember Hoffman:

He said he doesn’t see the value of the reports being available, either to him as an elected official or to the general public.

“The real situation is, unless you know what the information means and what it does … it’s not practical or useful,” Hoffmann said.

Officials in other states seem to disagree, however. In the last year, law enforcement agencies have made public reports regarding specific uses of Tasers in at least four states.

Hoffman “doesn’t see the value” in disclosing, much less in examining, the use of force by the police. Shocking.

Comments (3)
11/25/2007

Senator Menor seems to be picking up the scent regarding PIMAR

Filed under: HI State Politics — Doug @ 6:48 pm
There is a Star-Bulletin story today that sure seems to be a follow-up to a post I wrote over a week ago.

Under the law, the Public Utilities Commission is required to post weekly reports compiled from data submitted by oil companies, dealers, jobbers and others who participate in the state’s oil industry.

But Senate Energy Chairman Ron Menor, who helped write the law aimed at providing more transparency in oil industry pricing, says the reports have been of little use.

“I don’t think that the implementation of the law by the PUC is providing the kind of transparency that we need to be able to determine all of the factors that are contributing to Hawaii’s high gas prices,” said Menor (D, Mililani). “I think consumers are entitled to have more specific information regarding the oil companies’ pricing practices.”

——–

In addition to the weekly reports, [PUC researcher] Kikuta said a consultant is assisting the commission with “examination and assessment” of the data to compile a more detailed report for next year’s Legislature.

“An in-depth analysis of the industry drawn from the reported data will be a part of the report to be submitted to the Legislature,” she said.

Menor said he would wait for the report before deciding whether to call the PUC before his committee for an informational briefing on how the law has been implemented.

I have nearly zero confidence that the report to the legislature will have any “in-depth analysis” of the industry profits and gross margins. Those are the data, of course, that would be crucial in making a determination if gouging exists, if it is increasing, or if it is decreasing.

In a very crude simplification, the weekly reports contain data like “x gallons were sold in market y at price z.” What the weekly reports don’t include are data such as “in market x the gross margin was y cents per gallon, which compares to z cents per gallon last week. During the week, economic factors a, b, and c have been shown to mathematically account for the change in gross margin.”

In my opinion, the data presently published in the weekly reports serve no practical purpose to the general public, however, turning the purpose of the law on its head, the data that are published provide a (in)convenient justification for the PUC (seemingly working on behalf of the industry) to withhold the useful data on the (reasonable) grounds that people could deduce confidential information if all the data were released. So, why not direct the PUC to release the profit and gross margins data, and withhold the other data that would be needed to deduce the confidential information?

Comments (1)
Sorry, they were one consonant off – or not

Filed under: HI Media — Doug @ 6:47 pm
The Hawaii Tribune-Herald runs a correction today for an “error” made in this article from Thursday (an article which also raises other issues of openness on the part of the Air Force and the resulting ignorance on the part of Mayor Kim).

[An] Associated Press report [said] that Air Force B-2 stealth bombers have been dropping 2,000-pound inert bombs over Pohakuloa Training Area’s training range for the past month.

The stealth bombers, which are permanently based at Whiteman AFB in Missouri, are temporarily assigned to Andersen AFB on Guam. Their job is to deter North Korea and to reinforce air power in the Pacific affected by deployments to Iran and Afghanistan.

Oops?

In a story published Thursday about B-2 stealth bombers dropping inert bombs on Pohakuloa Training Center, U.S. troops are deployed to Iraq, not Iran.

Uh, if you say so, but I would give odds at 3:2 that we already have special operations troops in Iran…

Comments (0)
No prosecution, no hate crime?

Filed under: HI State Politics, Neighbor Islands — Doug @ 6:47 pm
As I wrote just last week when commenting about an annual report about hate crimes, there are now articles (Advertiser and West Hawaii Today) about an ugly case of grave desecration involving swastikas. Since nobody has been arrested, this may not even be reported as an “official” hate crime. Wouldn’t want any “false positives,” right? Go figure.

You may recall the massive desecration a decade ago at the National Memorial Cemetery at Punchbowl. A lot of public figures came out thumping their chests and vowing retribution and harsh punishment. In the end, nobody was ever apprehended, so that crime (beyond the fact that it preceded the law requiring an accounting from the State) probably would not have been included in the official tally of Hawaii hate crimes either.

Comments (0)
11/24/2007

Who’s talking on Kauai?

Filed under: HI State Politics, Neighbor Islands — Doug @ 9:39 am
After several pings on the subject by Joan Conrow, today the SB has a report that includes this passage:

Superferry officials have not set their return date to Kauai, as they are conducting a “community outreach” campaign to smooth out its return, said Superferry spokeswoman Lori Abe.

“The specific goals (of the community outreach program) is to put everyone in a better place,” Abe added. “I think it’s all been positive.”

But critics said Superferry officials have not contacted them to discuss their concerns.

So, why not ask Abe the obvious follow-up question: if the superferry officials have not contacted the critics, then who has the superferry officials contacted on Kauai? It’s not as if Ms. Abe is speaking about an outreach program in the future tense, because she is quoted as saying the outreach program has been positive. At her blog, Conrow has previously noted that some Kauai politicians have been contacted by the superferry officials, but I would characterize those conversations as variations of “please, tell the protesters to cool it.”

Furthermore, what kind of jabberwocky is Abe’s “to put everyone in a better place” comment about the outreach? From what we see in the SB it would appear that Abe had nothing substantive to say, but felt obligated to make some kind of comment, so she threw out this feeble smokescreen and crossed her fingers that it would suffice. On this weekend where the focus of the Honolulu daily “news” is an amalgam of football ascension and consumerism frenzy, it is probably good enough to fool most of the people most of the time…

Comments (3)
11/23/2007

Defer the vote – but only when it’s strategic to do so?

Filed under: Neighbor Islands — Doug @ 6:30 pm
From the synchronized whoops and moans emerging from various neighboring households, it appears I may be the only person on Oahu not following (or attending) the Hawaii-Idaho football game…

Anyway, not much today other than this interesting article from the West Hawaii Today that describes a recent spate of votes at the Hawaii County Council that died due to absent members.

Apparently when a councilmember is absent any other member can ask for a vote to be postponed. However, for whatever reason(s), this was not done for a few bills this week—and those bills died. The councilmembers quoted in the article don’t explain why the votes were not postponed. Councilmember Ford said that “it did not occur to [her]” to ask for a postponement, even though that oversight meant the death of one of her bills.

It’s not that hard to do a whip count among a body of nine legislators, is it? It’s enough to make people (like me) consider the possibility that the bills were truly not that important to the councilmembers who “support” them. As if they were hoping for an “e for effort” grade.

Maybe that’s too cynical.

Comments (2)
11/22/2007

Another milestone

Filed under: General — Doug @ 7:49 pm

visitor_200K.jpg

Originally uploaded by poinographer

Thanks to all of you readers, I hit 200,000 on the counter. The first 100,000 took almost two years, this time it took a few days under one year.

Mahalo!

Comments (3)
Off to basic training – at age 40?

Filed under: General, HI Media — Doug @ 9:07 am
No, not me (in neither the age nor the destination).

The Advertiser reprints an outstanding Washington Post story about a 40-year-old man from Waianae who enlisted in the Army. It’s a great read, and the piece does not shy away from the underlying economic reasons for his enlistment.

On a meta level it is kinda sad that the credit goes to an East Coast newspaper for a Hawaii-focused story this good, though…

Comments (0)
Kauai groups sign an open letter to Governor

Filed under: HI State Politics, Neighbor Islands — Doug @ 9:05 am
A recent post at Kauai Eclectic explores the seeming lack of community outreach between the superferry and those on Kauai who do not want it to sail before completing an EIS. Now I see an open letter to Governor Lingle signed by many of those people.

I don’t expect a public response from the Governor, and the letter makes it seem likely that, at least among the signatories, any ‘fencemending’ with the superferry will not be accomplished by a few Powerpoint presentations and public relations doublespeak.

Comments (0)
More on the nuisance strategy

Filed under: HI State Politics, Neighbor Islands — Doug @ 9:04 am
The Garden Island News has a piece that echoes and expands on the latest gambit to stop the use of Nawiliwili Harbor by the superferry. I wrote about this previously, and, even if the Kauai County Council were to agree to declare the superferry arrival a “public nuisance,” I still don’t see it as an approach very likely to prevail.

Comments (0)
Senate Majority Caucus blog allows no comments?

Filed under: HI State Politics — Doug @ 9:03 am
I could be wrong, but I seem to remember at one point there were comments allowed at the Senate Majority Caucus blog. Now, not so.

What an excellent way for the Senate Democrats to waste the potential of this medium. I hope they realize this…

Comments (0)
11/21/2007

Slow news is good news for excessive speeders

Filed under: HI State Politics — Doug @ 8:39 pm
Luckily my speeding ticket was for an offense before the effective date of the new law, but KITV is reporting that the new “excessive speeding” prosecutions are running into trouble as defendants are challenging the tickets in court.

Scores of defendants are having their cases delayed while defense and prosecutors fight over how much information the defense can have to fight the cases.

Defense attorneys said they demand laser gun operations and training manuals, maintenance and testing records. They also want to know how accurate police vehicles are at gauging speed.

They said they especially want to talk to one man who is the owner of a Kalihi auto shop where police speedometers are certified. He’s been subpoenaed several times but still hasn’t shown up in court.

They said they want to ask Roy Ozaki about the error margins and certification history of his equipment, but he said spending hours in court could destroy his business.

“We are a very busy repair shop already; we didn’t want to get into this,” said Roy Ozaki, the speedometer check contractor.

Prosecutors said the defense demands are unnecessary and excessive — simple delaying tactics. They said it could take months for judges and appeals courts to decide exactly what the defense can have but in the meantime, some defendants are benefiting from delays.

Unnecessary and excessive? Because the offense hinges on the specific speed of the violator and could result in jail time, I think it is pretty darn important to ascertain both the reliability and the accuracy of the means used to measure the speed. i.e. A margin of error of only a few per cent would mean a great deal to defendants cited for speeds only slightly over the threshold.

Furthermore, isn’t it contempt of court to ignore a subpoena? The prosecutors would certainly benefit from his prompt appearance, and Mr. Ozaki should have known that his work for the police would make it all-but-certain that he would be called to testify. The “delaying tactics” seen here are not the fault of the defendants. Indeed, the defendants have every right to challenge these tickets and to receive a prompt trial.

Comments (6)
11/20/2007

Hawaii prosecutors took only 6 hate crimes to trial in 2006

Filed under: HI State Politics — Doug @ 6:54 pm
The Advertiser has an article that ties a March report from the Attorney General to a nationwide report about hate crimes in 2006. The nationwide report is on the Justice Department website here. The Advertiser story says:

Unlike the national FBI numbers, Hawai’i’s hate crime numbers are based not on police reports but on cases that are actually prosecuted as hate crimes.

That approach, [AG research chief] Perrone said, helps to “eliminate false positives — cases which at first appear to be bias-related but later turn out not to be.”

According to the 2006 report, submitted to the Legislature earlier this year, including prosecution information “avoids the pitfall that has occurred in many jurisdictions” that rely just on police reports.

It would be useful to know how well (and/or how poorly) the police reports have been in accurately classifying suspected hate crimes. If, for example, there were dozens or hundreds of suspected hate crimes reported by the police in 2006 and there were only six prosecutions for hate crimes, then that disparity would certainly warrant further scrutiny.

The AG report said:

By placing the point of data collection at the prosecution level, Hawaii’s program avoids false positives, utilizes limited police resources much more efficiently, and is based on incidents that clearly meet the State’s legal definition of hate crimes, i.e., criminal acts for which the intent of the perpetrator(s) is determined to be derived from
hostility toward one or more of the protected groups. It also provides the ability to conduct statistical inquiries into case processing and outcomes, which yields important data that are generally not included in other jurisdictions’ hate crime reporting.

Hawaii’s hate crime sentencing law, like many other jurisdictions, includes provisions for enhanced penalties upon conviction. That risk of enhanced penalties is a strong bargaining chip for the state and it enhances the (already broad) scope of prosecutorial discretion. Thus, by placing the point of data collection solely at the prosecution level a result is that any plea bargaining carried out in conjunction with suspected hate crimes (as reported by the police) is likely to cause cases to be excluded from the dataset. i.e. the methodology avoids “false positives,” but may be doing so at the expense of other, possibly valid, “positive” data.

Another obvious problem with this methodology is that suspected (yet blatant and transparent) hate crimes where no arrests are made (e.g. grave desecrations, vandalism at places of worship, etc.) will obviously not meet the narrow definition of the law and, without a suspect, would not result in a prosecution and, thus, such crimes, no matter how numerous or egregious, will always automatically be excluded from the data.

Comments (0)
11/19/2007

Lava builds its own channels! Wow.

Filed under: HI State Politics, Science, Neighbor Islands — Doug @ 6:24 pm
A rare treat today, an article in the Advertiser that I can categorize as “politics” and “science!”

The lava flow emerging from a crack near Kupaianaha built itself a huge channel raised above the surrounding terrain, a kind of mile-long elevated lava flume system 120 feet above ground level when the eruption began.

Scientists say this kind of perched lava channel has never been seen before, and experts can’t predict what will happen next.

——–

Perhaps the most striking feature of the fissure eruption is the impressive elevated channel that was created by the flow, and has now become a flumelike system for transporting lava northeast from the fissure near Kupaianaha toward Pahoa.

The channel was created when ‘a’a cooled and slowed at the end of a lava steam, creating a blockage that caused the stream to back up. The steam then overflowed onto its banks in layers that quickly cooled, and the cooling lava on the banks built up the sides of the channel.

This process has been repeated over and over. Each time the flow out of the mile-long channel is obstructed, molten lava backs up, spills over the sides and hardens, scientists said. Each overflow builds the sides of the structure higher.

Okay, maybe I’m just a big geek, but that phenomenon is really cool. Of course, I probably would not find it so “cool” if it were routing lava to my neighborhood!

To that end, some are now suggesting that the flow be redirected by carefully knocking down certain segments of the channel wall.

Civil Defense Administrator Troy Kindred sees several problems, and said the possibility of diverting the lava is not being actively pursued. Among other things, consideration would need to be given to the cultural implications for Hawaiians, he said.

“There’s a lot more things that influence this decision than what might just appear on the surface,” he said. “There’s a cultural context, and there’s a technical context, and whether or not it will work.”

Another issue is if the authorities were successful in diverting the flow and then it damaged homes, the authorities bear responsibility for the damage.

Big Island Managing Director Dixie Kaetsu agreed that “diversion is not something that is actively being considered as feasible.”

Okay, once again, I’m (still) not a lawyer.

Where exactly are these flumes? Are they on federal land, state land, or county land? According to a quick refresher on sovereign immunity, a county (a “political subdivision of a state”) is not offered much protection from lawsuits—so if a diversion attempt goes awry the County of Hawaii could be exposed if they were responsible for it. The state and the federal government, on the other hand, seem to enjoy a much more free hand to act without fear of a lawsuit.

My hunch is that the Lege could grant specific immunity to protect good faith government-led efforts to redirect lava, but I’m not sure the lava will wait around even if the Lege were so inclined.

Moving to the cultural question, is it presently illegal to redirect lava flow, or is it culturally inappropriate but legal to redirect lava flow?

As a practical matter, the article suggests some interesting parallels and contrasts between the flow of lava and the flow of streams. The state regulates dams (and, uh, poorly monitors them…) to preserve public safety and manage the water resource. Should lava be subject to similar oversight?

Comments (4)
11/18/2007

If the loading barge is not at Kahului Pier 2C, the show may be over

Filed under: HI State Politics, Neighbor Islands — Doug @ 9:48 am
I’m not familiar with it from firsthand experience, but judging from the diagram on the Superferry website showing how its Kahului Harbor opertions will work, it appears that the barge intended to serve as a ramp to load and unload the ferry could only work when positioned at the corner where Pier 2C meets Pier 2B. According to the Maui News accounts, the State has acknowledged that there are likely to be more days when the pier is too battered by surge to be used safely.

The Maui News report said that the barge was temporarily moved to another berth when it broke away from Pier 2C on Wednesday. Due to the non-perpendicular attachment of one ramp to the barge, if another moderate or big swell comes from the north and makes occupying Pier 2C an untenable proposition, there doesn’t appear to be any way for the ferry to tie up in an alternative spot and still be able to use that loading barge. In contrast, compare the Kahului barge to the diagram of the Honolulu facility, which, unlike the Kahului “around the corner” design barge, employs a barge that could be adapted for use on any straight section of pier with sufficient length.

Maui protesters should “pray for surf.” Heh.

Also, from looking at the Kahului diagram I notice that there are a few obvious choke points within the fenced property where vehicles will be forced to traverse during loading and unloading. Maybe these diagrams are not entirely accurate, but if those are truly one-lane areas then it looks as if vehicle “problems” in one of those spots could foul up the entire loading or unloading operation. [cough]

Comments (9)
11/17/2007

She “got to do what she got to do,” whatever that is

Filed under: Neighbor Islands — Doug @ 8:18 pm
I’ve never met her, and everything I read about her seems to place her squarely in the “citizen legislator” mold (which I like, in principle), but I continue to wonder about Hawaii County Councilmember Naeole’s lack of political sophistication. From the media accounts I have read, she seems to be getting less politically astute the longer she serves! Hunter Bishop’s blog has had a recurring meme about her (erratic) behavior, and today another story in the West Hawaii Today describes how Naeole changed her mind about having two county planning commissions for the island; she now would support the idea, although recently she voted against it.

As an outside observer (but one familiar with the culture of legislative work) I sometimes can’t decide whether to be amused or annoyed by Naeole, but I’m glad that she does not represent me, [supervise me,] or serve in this County.

Comments (1)
11/16/2007

Small north swell batters ferry loading ramp. Bigger swells will come.

Filed under: HI State Politics — Doug @ 6:52 pm
This could get interesting.

The Maui News reports that the barge designed for use as a superferry loading ramp became detached from its mooring and was slightly damaged as it swung back and forth into the Kahului pier.

So, the obvious question is: what happens when the bigger north swells arrive? The article notes that moving the barge from time to time was expected, but it doesn’t say if the superferry can actually load and unload while the barge is at any other location than pier 2c. If they were to load and unload using an alternate pier, wouldn’t that necessitate a traffic flow pattern other than what was authorized/designed?

Oh, and contrary to the Maui News headline, the barge is State property, not the Superferry’s. [You’d be forgiven for thinking they are one and the same, I suppose.]

Comments (4)
11/15/2007

Whalen would get a golden parachute, Lingle could get a stronger incumbent

Filed under: HI State Politics — Doug @ 7:04 pm
Following up from the post yesterday, now there is more on the status of Senator Paul Whalen from this Hawaii Tribune-Herald story.

Whalen, R-Kohala, Kona, Ka’u, has been talking with Republican Gov. Linda Lingle’s administration about an $80,000- to $90,000-a-year job as director of the state Office of Planning, said Senior Policy Advisor Linda Smith.

——–

Capitol scuttlebutt says it’s likely Whalen won’t even finish his current term in the Democrat-controlled Legislature. As one of only four Republicans in the 25-member Senate — and the only Neighbor Island Republican in either the House or the Senate — Whalen has been criticized by opponents for poor attendance and inability to get bills passed.

“When it comes time to vote, he’s there when it counts,” counters Senate Minority Leader Fred Hemmings, R-Kailua, Waimanalo, Hawaii Kai. “I think for Big Island purposes, it’s between those who want to work with Gov. Lingle or those who want to obstruct her efforts.”

Repeated attempts to contact Whalen were unsuccessful. A detailed message left with his Senate staff did not prompt a return call.

——–

As a state employee, Whalen would get a much better retirement package if he could end his career with three well-paid years. Whalen, an attorney, has four children and a mostly stay-at-home wife. He’s previously been a school teacher and a deputy prosecutor in Honolulu and Hawaii County.

Not a dumb idea, if you’re Whalen. Also, if you’re the Governor it has certain advantages, too, which I somehow overlooked yesterday—it gives Lingle another “Ann Stevens” moment. (Not, thank goodness, another “Bev Harbin” moment, since that loophole has been fixed) As the story puts it:

The Lingle administration itself may have approached Whalen, offering him a better-paying position than his $35,900 annual Senate seat in order to put an appointee in the seat for the last year of the term, according to a Senate source who asked to remain anonymous.

“My personal feeling is if you get elected to serve the people, you should finish your term,” [Representative] Green said. “He already has a very important job — senator for West Hawaii.”

——–

“This looks to me like a way to give someone a political leg up without being elected,” Green said of the possibility he’ll be running against a Lingle-appointed “incumbent,” “I hope Gov. Lingle respects the people and the process a little bit more than that.”

Well, if Green doesn’t think he could beat an opponent other than (the vulnerable) Whalen, then Green should remember that there is nobody forcing him to seek that Senate seat. i.e. Green could rather easily be re-elected to the House. The increased public interest before and/or after a competitive Senate contest would be good for the district, right? However, such a race may or may not be good for the ambitions of Josh Green…

Now that it seems clear that Whalen and Lingle both benefit by his nomination, I’d say it’s almost a sure thing. Especially since Whalen would not need to resign unless his nomination is confirmed.

Comments (4)
11/14/2007

Higher gas prices coming; still no transparency regarding profits and margins

Filed under: HI State Politics — Doug @ 7:38 pm
Today we find another Advertiser piece forewarning of higher gasoline prices. It says we may pay as much as $.20 more per gallon in the near future due to increasing costs of crude oil.

This reminded me to check on the page where the weekly Petroleum Industry Monitoring, Analysis and Reporting updates are posted to see what are the latest data. It seems the PUC may be giving up on reporting profits and margins, even though the law requires them to.

The early versions of the weekly reports each include boilerplate language in the preface that said:

Publication of the Commission’s PIMAR Weekly Reports is a first step towards greater petroleum industry transparency. Each PIMAR Weekly Report includes a compilation and aggregation of data and information that reporting entities file with the Commission in their weekly submissions. Where submitted data appears questionable or inconsistent with other information sources,2 or otherwise suggests that further examination is warranted, the Commission conducts additional reviews to clarify them and resolve any discrepancies. The Commission also continues to examine information, such as reporting entities’ Form W-150 reports on reported gross margins, to determine appropriate methods to aggregate confidential data and publish meaningful information.

The last few reports no longer mention gross margins in any way, not even to repeat the tired “we’re trying to figure out how to publish meaningful information” rhetoric. What gives?

Also, very soon now it will be 20 days before the start of the 2008 regular session and the law requires the PUC to submit to the Governor and Legislature a report “including the analysis and interpretation.” The section of the HRS concludes:

Any person may submit comments in writing regarding the accuracy or sufficiency of the information submitted.

The information submitted by the industry is kept secret under a protective order, so it’s all but impossible to challenge its accuracy or sufficiency. The analysis and interpretation from the PUC, however, is woefully insufficient, in my opinion.

Comments (1)
Torn (again) between a democracy and a technocracy

Filed under: Honolulu Politics — Doug @ 7:37 pm
The Honolulu dialies report (S-B here and Advertiser here) on a new proposal advanced by Mayor Hannemann and Councilmember Garcia what would empower a panel of transportation experts to choose what form of mass transit technology is to be used. This would allow the City Council to evade that high-stakes decision, although Hannemann and Garcia frame it as the way to achieve a “correct” decision.

META: The Advertiser headline (online, anyway) is “Hawaii mayor proposes new transit panel.” Shouldn’t that be “Honolulu mayor?” The Hawaii Mayor is Harry Kim.

The proposal, which City Council members will discuss at a committee meeting Nov. 29, would ask companies to submit information on the eligible technologies for the city’s project that runs from Kapolei to Ala Moana Center.

Then, five technology experts — four selected by the city administration and one by the Council — would pick the best choice depending on several factors, including cost, performance and community needs, said Councilman Nestor Garcia.

If the mayor’s proposal is approved by the full Council, the city administration would need to create a detailed plan by early next year on selecting technology panelists, Garcia said. Hannemann said he wants to break ground on the project in 2009.

I am unable to find any agenda for November 29, and that makes it harder to find the bill/resolution in the docushare system. Thus, I have no more specific information on the proposal, sorry.

It is interesting, though, that the factors are described as “including cost, performance and community needs.” What will be the measure of “performance?” Who defines the “community needs?” How will cost be weighed against these other factors? All political thorny questions.

Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi, who has been leading the push for the buslike system, said she would not object to Hannemann’s call for a panel of experts — as long as the council makes the final decision.

“That’s fine, we’ll listen to all that, but they have to tell us the truth, and the council will decide,” she said.

Clearly, Kobayashi is not as eager to be dealt out of the game as Garcia… Translation: the “truth” is whatever findings are congruent with her wishes. Heh.

Yesterday’s symposium included 14 transportation and development officials from major cities on the Mainland and in Canada. Keynote speaker Wellington Webb, a former mayor of Denver who oversaw major transportation projects there, said any such project is bound to have naysayers.

“At some point, you have to realize you’re not going to get everybody, and in some cases, you don’t want to get everybody,” he told the crowd of more than 300, mainly developers, contractors and others who support the transit plan.

Webb said the project will require effective leadership, including swift corrections to “distortions” by opponents.

My best hunch is that if the proposal advances, then Marshall and Djou will (try to) name as the Council’s representative somebody from the honolulutraffic.com hui, probably the engineer. Yawn.

Comments (1)
Whalen ponders a departure from the Senate to fill Laura Thielen’s post at Planning

Filed under: HI State Politics — Doug @ 7:37 pm
A bit of intramural Capitol gossip makes it into the Advertiser today:

Whalen, an attorney, said he has had an interest in land-use issues and described the job of state planner as a tantalizing prospect. “I thought it might be another way for me to serve the people of Hawai’i,” he said.

Whalen was elected in 2002 for a two-year term after reapportionment and re-elected in 2004. Whalen has said he planned to run for re-election next year, but Republicans are worried whether he could withstand a potentially difficult challenge from state Rep. Josh Green, D-6th (N. Kona, Keauhou, Kailua, Kona).

Green, an emergency-room doctor, announced his Senate campaign in May and has been aggressively raising money and doing outreach in the district. Green had more than $65,700 in cash on hand for his campaign through June and said he has since raised another $25,000. Whalen had about $10,200 in cash through June.

Whalen has spoken with other senators about whether he would be confirmed as state planner, which is how word of his job talks surfaced at the state Capitol. The Legislature voted last session to make the state planner post subject to confirmation.

Oh, how I wish I were at the Capitol where I would have access to the database that could list which land use bills were supported (or introduced) by Whalen and which were opposed. Whalen’s poor attendance and concomitantly sparse voting record might limit the usefulness of such a query, though…

By the way, Green’s growing pile of campaign funds is impressive, especially in comparison to the incumbent’s paltry bankroll.

Comments (3)
11/13/2007

Trans-Tasman Kayak Expedition

Filed under: Sailing — Doug @ 9:05 pm
Not about sailing per se, but since I am the editor and I am following the (delayed) progress of Roz Savage, I also figure that following the news about two Australians attempting to paddle to Tasmania in a kayak would be interesting. This particular channel can be nasty, if you are familiar with the Sydney-Hobart yacht race…

I love crossing oceans, but these are some hardcore adventurous people. I get tired just thinking about exercising for that much time… Put a sail up, already! haha

Speaking of tired, this post is late and it’s almost time for bed.

Comments (1)
11/12/2007

Not so fast…

Filed under: HI State Politics — Doug @ 9:55 am
I came across a link to this blog post which suggests a way for County Councils to stop the Superferry by declaring it a public nuisance.

It is based upon this section of the Hawaii Revised Statutes:

§46-17 Regulation of certain public nuisances. Any provision of law to the contrary notwithstanding, the council of any county may adopt and provide for the enforcement of ordinances regulating or prohibiting noise, smoke, dust, vibration, or odors which constitute a public nuisance. No such ordinance shall be held invalid on the ground that it covers any subject or matter embraced within any statute or rule of the State; provided that in any case of conflict between a statute or rule and an ordinance, the law affording the most protection to the public shall apply [with two exceptions, neither applicable here]

The blog post includes comments from attorney Dan Hempey who represents “1000 Friends.”

“The statute says County nuisance law trumps State law if the County law offers greater protection to the public” Hempey said. “Dumping several hundred cars, trucks and busses onto Kauai every day would tend to produce a lot of new noise, dust, smoke, vibration and odor.

According to HSF a maximum of 560 cars will congregate in Nawiliwili, near Lihu`e each day at evening rush hour.

“If that doesn’t constitute a public nuisance, what does” said HSF opponent, Fred Dente “What’s the council waiting for”.

In the case of the Kaua`i county council that remains a mystery. After three days no all councilmember have failed to responded to a requests for comment.

A few problems with this “nuisance” idea seem apparent to me. First, I should say that I’m having trouble finding a defnition of “nuisance,” so I don’t know what it takes for any particular noise, smoke, dust, vibration, or odor to constitute a nuisance. Second, unless the nose, smoke, dust, vibration, or odor “nuisance” presented by the Superferry exceeds that presented by other harbor users, it would take a twisted form of logic to single out the Superferry and allow the others to operate. Now, I suppose a County could be clever and regulate the “nuisance” so as to allow it to occur only during certain windows of time, but the biggest obstacle facing this scheme, in my non-lawyer opinion, is this part of Act 2:

(e) The purpose of this Act is also to amend all relevant existing laws to provide that, while any environmental review and studies, including environmental assessments or environmental impact statements, are prepared and following their completion:
(1) A large capacity ferry vessel company and large capacity ferry vessels may operate;

[shrug] Thanks for playing, Mr. Hempey, but you’ve selected a tough row to hoe.

Comments (3)
11/11/2007

Hoping for clear night skies

Filed under: Science — Doug @ 9:33 am
Mahalo to the Star-Bulletin for this story about a huge new comet that is now visible without a telescope. Also for making me realize that it’s been a long time since I have wrote a post under the “science” category!

My usual go-to astronomy website has this on the comet (kind of meager, actually), and I also used this as an excuse to download a slick dashboard widget for my MacBook.

Enjoy this Veteran’s Day.

Comments (0)
11/10/2007

232 years proud

Filed under: General — Doug @ 7:17 pm
I took a detour from my usual Saturday running workout early this morning to follow the dimly-lit path parallel to the H-3 that leads to the Marine Corps Base Hawaii front gate. When I got to the gate I wished the Marine sentry Happy Birthday, shook his hand, and then urged him to join me in 232 push-ups in honor each year of our Corps’ history. He only chuckled nervously, so I shrugged and ran off to finish my workout.

Good thing, too, because I think I max out at about 65 these days.

Happy Birthday, Marines!

Comments (1)
Associated Press leads the way

Filed under: HI State Politics, HI Media — Doug @ 7:17 pm
An interesting response from A DOJ attorney is found in a follow-up Advertiser story today about the predicament facing Bob Awana after “winning” his extortion battle.

U.S. District Judge J. Michael Seabright issued an order Tuesday asking attorneys for the government and the man who pleaded guilty to extorting Awana, Rajdatta Patkar, to argue why the correspondence and other discovery evidence should remain under seal.

“In all cases involving victims, irrespective of whether they are high-profile members of the community, the United States is obligated by law to treat victims with ‘fairness and with respect for the victim’s dignity and privacy,’ ” wrote Assistant U.S. Attorney Clare E. Connors, in her response to Seabright’s order.

Deputy federal public defender Pamela J. Byrne, who represented Patkar, filed a response Wednesday saying Patkar has “no objections.”

Seabright issued his order after The Associated Press wrote a letter Nov. 1 asking that evidence in the case be made public.

“We believe that because this case involved one of the state’s highest-ranking government officials, and activities he engaged in while conducting state business, we feel the public has a legitimate interest in and right to know details of this extortion case,” Mark J. Rochester, assistant chief of bureau for AP’s Hawai’i, Northern California and Northern Nevada operations, wrote in a letter to Seabright.

Good for the AP! One really wonders if (or when) the Hawaii-based media were eventually going to seek access to this information…

Comments (0)
11/9/2007

Awana e-mails might be released

Filed under: HI State Politics — Doug @ 7:27 pm
As I was saying…

The Advertiser reports that the messages that led to the blackmail of Bob Awana may be released.

On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge J. Michael Seabright issued an order asking attorneys for Patkar and the government to show why evidence in the case should remain under seal.

Deputy federal public defender Pamela Byrne filed a response yesterday saying Patkar has “no objections.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Clare Connors, who handled the case for the government, said she is preparing to file a response.

Seabright gave both sides until Nov. 20 to show cause.

The sealed evidence includes e-mails between Awana, Patkar and a Filipina whom Awana was attempting to solicit.

Patkar has “no objections.” Ha! Of course he has no objections; releasing these messages (even without an extortion payday) could be the only bright side of the entire episode, so far as Patkar is concerned.

As for the U.S. Attorney, even if she successfully argues to keep the messages under seal for now (and I’m not sure that she’ll fight the release, by the way), we may see the messages released if/when charges are filed in response to:

Patkar admitted to blackmailing Awana by threatening to make public Awana’s extra-marital affair and solicitation of women for entertainment at parties during the trade mission.

The e-mails have prompted the federal government to open an investigation into the behavior of state officials and other members of trade missions to China, South Korea and the Philippines over the past three years.

While the feds are investigating those allegations, they should look at the sketchy sponsorhsip solicitations, too.

Comments (0)
11/8/2007

Hawaii Senate is hiring

Filed under: General — Doug @ 7:30 pm
I don’t know if/where there is a comparable website for the House, but both chambers are looking for session staff for 2008. I did ten sessions for the House, and some days I really miss it. If you are a regular reader of this blog (i.e. a politics junkie) and are looking for fast-paced interesting work, then I suggest that you give it a shot. If you’re looking for a well-paid gig, then sorry. Heh.

Just remember, once you’re hired, which blog tipped you off to the opportunity and be ready to hook me up when I need some hard-to-find information…

UPDATE: The House is recruting for a full-time blogger! [boggle]

Comments (0)
Like a bad penny, Awana is now turning up all over…

Filed under: HI State Politics — Doug @ 7:16 pm
A lawsuit filed by a former state archeologist terminated from the Historic Preservation Division may get interesting. A few articles scratch the surface (West Hawaii Today, Star-Bulletin, and Advertiser), but Ian Lind gets to the heart of the matter and posts the actual lawsuit (PDF) and exhibits.

First, a few internet-related aspects of the suit. One of the defendants named in the suit, an archeologist at the Historic Preservation Division named Nancy McMahon, runs a tourism concession on Kauai called Kauai Hummer Safari.

Turn the clock back a thousand years on our Hummer expedition into Kauai’s ancient rain forests. You will see historical sites [ahem]; experience the unforgettable feel of a rain forest, view spectacular waterfalls and secluded pools. See the lush tropical jungles the way ancient Hawaiians did.

I was not aware that ancient Hawaiians cruised around the jungle in paramilitary 4X4s? Heh.

Next, it mentions another defendant, Ashley Chinen, who “wrote on internet blogs that were published throughout the state of Hawaii.” The plaintiff is going after AC for “false, hurtful, and malicious statements” made in that blog comment and he intends to show that he was defamed by that and other similar comments. Uh, okay, good luck with that…

Interesting, but let us plow onward. Have a look at the more explosive allegations in paragraphs 143 through 155 (transcribed here by hand, so hopefully there are few/no typos):

143. Defendant AWANA would regularly make phone calls to Defendant MELANIE CHINEN to tell Defendant MELANIE CHINEN what projects to fast track and what projects to hinder.

144. Plaintiff knew that Defendant AWANA regularly called because on several occasions Plaintiff heard Defendant AWANA on the phone and numerous times Defendant MELANIE CHINEN would refer to Defendant AWANA as the one who called.

145. At other times Defendant MELANIE CHINEN would refer to such calls as “from the Governor’s office.”

146. After such conversations, Defendant MELANIE CHINEN would say that the governor’s office wanted the approval of certain projects to happen quicker.

147. As set forth above in 30, Plaintiff often objected to such approval based on ethical and legal reasons.

148. When Plaintiff objected, Defendant MELANIE CHINEN said or implied that Plaintiff would not be working at SHPD unless he became a “team player.”

149. On or about April, 2006, Plaintiff was called in Defendant MELANIE CHINEN and introduced to her “friend” Defendant LAURA THIELEN.

150. Defendants asked Plaintiff if he could provide an archeological report that would help a piece of land be rezoned without difficulty.

151. Defendant MELANIE CHINEN had not asked Plaintiff to research the land and he had no reason to know anything about the archaeological features on the land.

152. Plaintiff stated that he would have to do a survey according to the laws and regulations and would have to see if the land had any archeological features before he could sign a report.

153. By their body language and voice tone, Defendants were not pleased with Plaintiff’s answer and asked him to leave the office.

154. Defendants have consulted and communicated at other times to discuss fast tracking projects.

155. Defendants had a common plan of using SHPD to fast track or stall projects for political reasons, often violating state statutes, state administrative rules, state ethics, professional archeological standards, and/or Hawaiian cultural values.

If the plaintiff is able to prove any or all of these allegations, then it will be interesting to see if Awana implicates Governor Lingle in any of this. Lots of other interesting nuggets throughout that lawsuit, too, for those of you with a spare hour to kill.

Comments (3)
11/7/2007

Hawaii Superferry probe will be stymied

Filed under: HI State Politics, HI Media — Doug @ 7:12 pm
DOT director Fukunaga is going to take the fall (assuming there is one coming) for the Governor. An Advertiser story lays out the situation in some detail, but the crux of the matter is that the “investigation” of how the Superferry exemption decision came about is dead on arrival. Had the lege not been so pusillanimous they could have incorporated more robust language to strip the attorney-client privilege into the legislation just passed. The Governor would have certainly challenged it (and I think she probably would have prevailed) but at least there would have been legal arguments made and weighed by the courts. Since they didn’t go that route, instead we get quotes from grumpy stonewalled legislators and a recitation of case law from other jurisdictions.

Yawn.

I do have this question, though:

[Hawaii Attorney General] Bennett, in an interview, said Fukunaga and other administration officials could not selectively waive the privilege to answer certain legal questions about Superferry without jeopardizing all Superferry-related subject matter the administration considers confidential. The privilege, once breached, is generally lost.

“Those are privileged communications, and once the decision is made to make them public, you lose the protection of the attorney-client privilege,” Bennett said.

True? Anybody (Mr. Bennett, preferably) have a footnote for that claim? Sounds bogus to me, but what do I know. Worth checking anyway…

Comments (10)
11/6/2007

Whatever happened to “both sides will be unhappy?”

Filed under: HI State Politics — Doug @ 7:40 pm
From another interesting Advertiser article about the Superferry legislation:

Superferry released a statement yesterday that described the conditions as reasonable and fair.

“We appreciate Gov. Lingle’s and the Legislature’s timely action of signing into law a bill that allows Hawaii Superferry to operate while the state conducts an EIS. Hawaii Superferry believes that the operating conditions outlined by the governor are reasonable and fair under the current circumstances,” John Garibaldi, the Superferry’s president and chief executive officer, said in a statement. “As we stated last week, we look forward to resuming service once all operational, regulatory and legal steps are completed.”

Lingle had predicted that neither Superferry nor the project’s critics would be satisfied with her conditions.

So, which of the operating conditions do(es) not satisfy the Superferry, exactly? So far as I can tell, Garibaldi hasn’t voiced a single complaint. “Don’t throw us into that briar patch!”

Among the most difficult decisions, Lingle said, was how much to restrict the ferry’s speed to protect endangered humpback whales and other marine life. Environmentalists had wanted the ferry to slow to 13 knots in shallow waters, while Superferry executives were only willing to slow to 25 knots in shallow waters and within the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary.

Lingle opted to urge Superferry to avoid the whale sanctuary and shallow waters of 100 fathoms or less when possible from January through April, the peak of the winter whale season. The ferry would have to slow from an estimated travel speed of about 35 knots down to 25 knots in the sanctuary and in shallow waters outside of harbors.

“They feel it’s important to be able to travel at a speed where the passengers are comfortable and not in any danger, and that’s why the issue of the route and the speed ended up as it did,” Lingle explained.

The passengers’ comfort is suddenly a trump card? From January to April the seas between the islands are more likely to be large and “uncomfortable” for many passengers, specifically when nearby or distant storms increase the surf height. According to the Executive Order, if the ferry transits the whale sanctuary during those months the master of the vessel needs to make a logbook entry stating that the 25 knot speed limit was adhered to. Speaking as an amateur radio geek here, why not use an off-the-shelf automatic position reporting system that could automatically measure (via gps), log and broadcast to the internet the speed of the ferry to keep everybody honest? Such a system could also publicly log marine mammal sightings from the ferry while within (and/or outside of) the sanctuary, too.

Comments (4)
As is typical, plans are made to re-fight the last battle

Filed under: HI State Politics, HI Media — Doug @ 7:39 pm
Apparently Mr. Dayton does not read Mr. DePledge’s work, because this Advertiser article about the harbor security planned for the re-start of the Superferry contains this error:

Gov. Linda Lingle is expected this week to sign special legislation that allows the ferry to operate while an environmental assessment is being prepared.

News flash: as reported yesterday, the special legislation was signed last Friday. Oops.

As for the rest of the article, all the harbor security in the world won’t keep the boat on her schedule if protestors adapt to the latest security situation. For example, what prevents protesters from buying tickets and jumping overboard from the ship in the middle of the crossing (the ship would be obligated to attempt a rescue), or from disabling their own vehicles to clog the loading or unloading process, or any other alternative form of civil disobedience? Or, consider the scenario I pondered earlier; the authorities probably can’t remain vigilant in every harbor at once (or, if they try, then not for an extended period of time).

If the intent of the “unified command” is a crypto-militarization of this confrontation against civilians, then a predictable response to this asymmetric conflict would be for opponents to take actions more akin to an insurgency rather than to mount a direct confrontation on terms almost certain to fail.

Comments (8)
Case donates his political papers (so far) to UH

Filed under: HI State Politics — Doug @ 7:37 pm
The Advertiser noted this UH-Manoa press release announcing that former Congressman Ed Case has donated his papers to the Hawaii Congressional Papers collection at the Hamilton Library on the Manoa campus. According to the press release his collection also encompasses the years he served at the Hawaii legislature.

The UH collection already had papers from Hiram Fong, Tom Gill, and Spark Matsunaga. It could be really neat to browse all these archives, but it requires making an appointment and I supect you would need to have some specific research topic in mind, i.e. a justification beyond a random grep through the entire collection.

Comments (0)
11/5/2007

Time in regulation play is running out, will there be OT?

Filed under: HI State Politics, HI Media — Doug @ 7:22 pm
Judging by the Governor’s press release, the Executive Order (PDF) laying out the additional operating conditions, the letter (PDF) to the House Speaker and Senate President, and the filings in Maui court today (mahalo to Charley Foster for that last PDF link), it seems as if the legal battle regarding the operation of the Superferry before the environmental review is nearly complete.

I am a bit at a loss to see what the Lingle administration hoped to gain by letting the public (for example, the Maui News) think that the bill was awaiting signature sometime this week, even though it was enacted last Friday. In fact, even the legislature’s website seems to have been caught unaware. Sorta reminds me of the misinformation presented when the Governor was secreted away to visit the troops. Sneaky for sneaky sake, perhaps, but maybe there is something more to that.

I am curious about the language in the State’s “Memorandum in Support of Motion” from page 14 to page 17, where there is much discussion about the lack of a final judgment. I am not a lawyer, but I definitely get the feeling that those passages may be key to the hopes of the plaintiffs to argue that Act 2 is unconstitutional. Especially since the only (substantive) filings from the plaintiffs today seek a final judgment…

UPDATE 11/6: After thinking about this on my run this morning, it entered my mind that if the plaintiffs knew the bill had become law on Friday then the plaintiffs might have been able to challenge the law before the Gov was ready with her list of operating conditions. Also, if the people the Governor spoke with over the weekend regarding the additional operating conditions were told (or were not told) that the bill was signed it may have changed the tenor of those conversations, too. Who knows?

Finally, going back to page 10 of that same memorandum, I’ll transcribe a key paragraph:

Press reports indicate that plaintiffs doubt the constitutionality of Act 2. The state believes (and demonstrates herein) that the Act is completely constitutional. If plaintiffs, nevertheless, wish to pursue their constitutional claims, they are free to do so in an appropriate forum. The point for this motion is that Act 2 is constitutional on its face and supported by a strong presumption of constitutionality. This court may not deny or delay granting this motion while plaintiffs pursue their chimerical claims of unconstitutionality.

Chimerical? I love it when lawyers get into their high-falutin trash talk.

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