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Tuesday, February 27, 2001

Judge deals setback to
Hanalei tour operators

By Anthony Sommer

LIHUE -- Three Na Pali Coast tour boats evicted by the state from Hanalei Bay and River on Nov. 30 have failed to convince U.S. District Judge Helen Gillmor in Honolulu that they were denied due process by the Department of Land and Natural Resources.

Gillmor has rejected their motion for summary judgment and refused to grant Bob Butler, Ralph Young and John White, all of Hanalei, a preliminary injunction. She did not, however, dismiss their lawsuit against the state and it remains alive in federal court.

Jack Schweigert, attorney for the three tour operators, said he is considering an appeal to the 9th U.S. Circuit of Appeals on Gillmor's refusal to issue the injunction.

Without it, the tour companies would have to cease operations. If they shut down, they may never be able to reopen even if they ultimately win the lawsuit, he said.

The judge's decision was the latest in a series of legal skirmishes between the state and the three tour operators since Gov. Ben Cayetano threw all of the tour boat operators not licensed by Kauai County out of Hanalei in 1998.

Butler, Young and White were among the seven operators who held county licenses and were allowed to operate out of Hanalei on a year-to-year basis. Last year, the Department of Land and Natural Resources changed its boating rules to evict them as well, but the three won a court decision holding that the state failed to follow the law in changing the rules.

The department went through the rule-making process required in state law and again passed regulations barring all tour boats except kayaks from Hanalei. That rule change is the subject of the suit being heard by Gillmor.

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