Archive for April, 2008

State Auditor Confirms: Lingle Let Superferry Walk All Over Her

Thursday, April 17th, 2008

The Honolulu Advertiser reveals that the State Auditor has confirmed that Superferry execs lied when they claimed the Federal government was driving their demand for an exemption from Hawai’i environmental law.

“In the end, the state may have compromised its environmental policy in favor of a private company’s internal deadline,” state auditor Marion Higa concluded. “It remains to be seen whether these decisions will cost the state more than its environmental policy.”

Where’s the Aloha Airlines special session?

Wednesday, April 16th, 2008

I ask one simple question: Why was no “Special Session” of the Hawai`i Legislature, or an “Emergency Session” of the Legislature called to keep afloat Aloha Airlines, a 61-year-old loyal transportation company with thousands of longstanding employees affected; whereby we all know a Special Session was called for a “large capacity ferry vessel company” not even yet in business, with mostly part-time employees with little if any benefits and a company evading at every opportunity its kuleana to the environment and generations to come?

Could it be that our present governor cares more about helping the neo-con investors of Superferry, and their positioning for private military contracts, and the use of the ferry for future strategic military use, than caring about the thousands of Aloha workers, their families and all the related business loss.

Where is the Special Session for Aloha, Lingle?

All the while feigning your sympathy for the workers. So much hypocrisy and lies surround you and the Superferry dealings. Impeachment is an honorable path here, though not on the table in this corrupt political system, mirroring the U.S. Congress and Bush/Cheney (And I used to be an avid Republican).

And Mayor Bryan Baptiste, honestly, I and so many people wished you would have stood up to Lingle on Superferry, as did the Maui mayor forbidding county employee use of the ferry. I didn’t understand your in-absentia style on this huge impact of an issue to us. May God bless all of us on this issue and our individual learnings.

John (Tyler) Cragg
Anahola __._,_.___

Hear Austral Employees Reveal Sloppy Superferry Construction

Tuesday, April 15th, 2008

Scott Mijares and Keone Kealoha will be hosting the KKCR (91.9fm, 90.9, 92.7) public
affairs program “Kauai Soapbox” on Tuesday April 15 at 4-530pm and will review the information
from Austal USA workers and pursue some of the questions raised.

If you are off-island, pick it up online at

If you missed last Thursday’s interview with current and former Austal USA employees download
it at :

Advertiser’s Derrick DePledge Uncovers Superferry-Lingle Dirty Dealings

Saturday, April 12th, 2008

In State path set in ’04 Awana, ferry talks Derrick Depledge uncovers the scoop on how the state got stuck with $40 million dollars of useless barges and the role accused bribe-taker Lingle Chief of Staff played.

The state Department of Transportation’s aggressive pursuit to exempt Hawaii Superferry from an environmental review came after a late December 2004 meeting with Superferry executives and Bob Awana, Gov. Linda Lingle’s then-chief of staff, state records show.

Awana, in a brief telephone interview on Friday, did not recall the meeting but said he had no part in the state’s decision to exempt $40 million worth of state harbor improvements for Superferry from an environmental assessment. “I had no role in that,” he said.

But that turns out to be a lie…as is almost everything that was told to us about the Superferry

E-mail between department staff, obtained by The Advertiser through the state’s open-records law, shows that staff believed a significant decision had been made at that meeting with Superferry executives and Awana.

Staff in the department’s harbors division had thought before the meeting that the department’s recommendations were to require a statewide environmental assessment of the project and to get Superferry to install a quarter stern ramp on the vessel to give it more flexibility at Kahului Harbor on Maui.

But Superferry executives, according to an account by a department staffer, told the state that anything but an exemption was a deal-breaker and that they would not be installing any ramps. The department staffer explained what happened to her colleagues in an e-mail following the afternoon meeting at the governor’s offices: “Decisions made: We need to pursue EXEMPTION; and HSF will not provide any ramps on vessel.”

So not only did Lingle give in to the Superferry by giving them an EIS exemption that she knew was illegal, she also agreed to take on an unnecessary (and it turns out useless) expense of building the ramps for them.

The documents also show that some in the department anticipated a lawsuit challenging the exemption that was eventually filed by environmentalists and ultimately interrupted Superferry’s launch last summer. As one harbors division engineer wrote in an e-mail: “Per Bob Awana, if we are going to get challenged, they want to get challenged as soon as possible.”

But there were some honorable people at DOT. They tried to argue Lingle’s deputy out of violating the law:

Some in the department, documents show, believed the state had given in to Superferry’s demands and continued to argue for an environmental review and their preferred harbor improvements up until the time the state’s formal decision was made in February 2005 to exempt the project.

We also find out why Maui was kept in the dark about the alternatives being discussed for the Superferry. I remember being in a meeting with Gary Soma of Harbors in (I think) 2005 and asking him directly what the plan was to dock the Superferry and having him be evasive in a strange way…at the time I felt he knew the answer but just wasn’t going to tell us.

The stripped-down plans for a barge and ramp for Superferry at Kahului’s Pier 2 were seen by the department as interim, a fallback position to qualify for an exemption and meet the project’s target launch date. Yet Superferry was so concerned about a trigger that executives pushed the department not to mention the preferred improvements at the harbor.

Fukunaga, in an e-mail to a staffer less than two weeks before the final decision to exempt the project from environmental review, wrote: “Garibaldi called me, he received his letter today and is concerned that identifying both the preferred improvements and the alternatives establishes a linkage and requires our doing the environmental reviews for everything.

All in all, it appears that Lingle through her corrupt chief of Staff Awana set out to deliberately flout the law and deceive the taxpayers. And as we see, this resulted in a lot of huhu and wasted money.

Substandard Superferry Work Could Lead to Sinking?

Friday, April 11th, 2008

Joan Conrow reports on the recent interview with a Superferry (Austral) welder and union representatives with some scary inside information on the corners that were cut in building the Superferry and more corners that were cut in repairing it. Must read article.

It looks like the Superferry kept running for a week after cracks threatened to swamp it with some very shaky repairs. No wonder we’re spending a fortune having the Coast Guard escort it. Word is the Coast Guard doesn’t trust the physical integrity of the Superferry.

The union reps are concerned because of allegations of union-busting against Austral (the Superferry maker). They’re claiming Austral is using untrained welders (nonUnion) and hiding poorly welded seams under insulation.

Superferry: Passengers Vomit

Tuesday, April 8th, 2008

The Maui News reports on Superferry’s first day back. [Comments by Karen Chun]

Ride `really, really rough’
Superferry sails, but voyage not smooth; many suffer sickness


KAHULUI — After a two-month layoff for repairs, the Hawaii Superferry returned to Kahului Harbor on Monday with a load of passengers facing no protests except the one in their bellies. [No protests because we know that Superferry is on its last legs.]

“It was one of the most miserable rides I’ve ever had,” said Kim Lane of Seattle.

She and other family members were part of the first set of passengers disembarking from the 350-foot Alakai after it arrived at Kahului. They said they dealt with high swells and rough seas for most of the three-hour-plus sail between Oahu and Maui. Those conditions caused many passengers to fall ill.

Terry O’Halloran, Superferry director of business development, disputed the report of many passengers being severely ill on the voyage, although he admitted the Honolulu-Kahului leg was rough. [These guys are in such denial. They think they can change reality by PR.]

He said it had been a good voyage. [“Denial, denial. Do you think anyone believes you any more?] The vessel was bounced by swells and strong trade winds in the channels between islands, but it was “much calmer” on the downwind Kahului-Honolulu return trip.

Passengers arriving in Kahului said many of them were puking during the ride.

“The crew was really trying to keep things clean, but there were vomit bags all over the place,” said passenger Monica Bishop in describing her ferry ride.

You open the bathroom door and there’s puke on the sink,” said Brian Driscoll, a ferry rider from Fargo, N.D., who said he was among those who avoided illness.

There were sick people all over the place,” he said.

Lane quickly added that Superferry crew members were friendly and cheerful, despite showing signs of seasickness themselves.

“It was really, really rough. . . . It was so bad you thought you were going to fall out of your chairs,” said Bishop, who rode the ferry with her husband, Doug, and four children. The family plans to move from Oahu to Maui and decided to use the next week and a half looking for a place to live on the Valley Isle.

Immediately after coming ashore, a Bishop son declared he would not return to Oahu on the ferry. Read more

Superferry Thinks They Can Cash in On Aloha Bankruptcy

Saturday, April 5th, 2008

With the demise of Aloha and ATA, Superferry execs think they see an opportunity to get enough passengers to start making a profit. But will their high fuel costs (higher per passenger mile than Aloha) make this impossible?

Harry Eager of the Maui News researched the issue of inter-island airline profitability and it has implications for HSF. Particularly because Superferry will be operating at a loss at their $39 rates unless as Brad Parson’s calculations show, they can somehow attract over 600 passengers and 200 cars per leg…a far cry from the sometimes 18 vehicles and a handful of passengers they were able to attract previously.

Superferry is gambling that they’ll pick up a considerable number of Aloha’s passengers when the ferry resumes April 7th

Superferry Maker Sued For Racial Discrimination

Thursday, April 3rd, 2008

’22 workers sue Austal for racial discrimination’
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
By JEFF AMY and KAIJA WILKINSON, Business Reporters

‘A group of 22 current and former black employees have sued Austal USA, claiming that company managers participate in and condone widespread racial discrimination at its Mobile River shipyard.

‘Defendant’s racial discrimination is its standard operating procedure rather than a sporadic occurrence,’ the plaintiffs stated in a suit filed last week in federal court in Mobile.’…See rest of article at