A Maui judge leaves untouched an order blocking the service
STORY SUMMARY »
The earliest the Hawaii Superferry could get back to Kahului Harbor is projected to be Sept. 11.
That is when attorneys are expected to finish arguments over a preliminary injunction to extend an order blocking the Superferry's operation until an environmental assessment can be done.
Maui Circuit Judge Joseph Cardoza refused yesterday to lift a temporary restraining order blocking Superferry's operations. While that order is to expire next Thursday, Superferry attorneys agreed to an extension of the order until the end of the hearing for a preliminary injunction.
Cardoza's order came Monday after the Supreme Court ruled last week that the Superferry must do an environmental assessment.
Superferry officials announced a bunch of deals that include allowing $5 ticket holders to keep them for up to a year.
The Superferry's vessel, the Alakai, remained docked in Honolulu Harbor because it is also unable to travel to Kauai because the Coast Guard could not assure the safety of the vessel and passengers, or of protesters trying to block its arrival in Nawiliwili Harbor.
Gov. Linda Lingle rebutted yesterday Kauai Sen. Gary Hooser's criticisms of her administration's handling of the Superferry.
Stating their case
The arguments on lifting a temporary restraining order blocking Hawaii Superferry operations till an environmental assessment is done:
Superferry: There is no evidence that the Superferry will harm the environment.
State: The Superferry can operate while an environmental assessment is prepared.
Environmentalists: The law requires environmental assessments for major projects before they start operating.
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DENNIS FUJIMOTO / GARDEN ISLAND VIA ASSOCIATED PRESS
The Hawaii Superferry's arrival into Kauai's Nawiliwili Harbor on Sunday was greeted by protesters and curious onlookers. A Maui ruling and Kauai protests have since suspended service.
WAILUKU » A temporary restraining order halting Hawaii Superferry operations in Kahului Harbor has been extended several days beyond its initial expiration date -- possibly until Sept. 11.
Maui Circuit Judge Joseph Cardoza declined yesterday a Superferry request to lift the restraining order that put Kahului off limits for lack of an environmental assessment.
About the judge
Maui Circuit Judge Joseph Cardoza was appointed to the bench on June 24, 1999.
Before his appointment, Cardoza was senior partner in the law firm of Cardoza and Fukuoka, according to a brief biography provided by the state courts.
He served as prosecuting attorney for Maui County from 1983 through 1991 and was a deputy prosecuting attorney from 1977 to 1983 and a deputy county attorney for about a year ending in 1976.
Cardoza receive his bachelor's degree from Washington State University.
He later obtained his law degree from the University of Puget Sound School of Law, now known as Seattle University School of Law.
He has been licensed to practice law since 1975.
Cardoza scheduled a hearing for a preliminary injunction against the Superferry and the state for 10 a.m. next Thursday, the original date the restraining order was to expire.
Superferry attorney Lisa Munger consented to the extension of the order while Cardoza holds the hearing, possibly through Sept. 11.
The Hawaii Superferry started service Sunday but was forced to halt operations to Maui on Tuesday after Cardoza issued the order.
Cardoza's new order came after the Hawaii Supreme Court reversed last week his 2005 decision not to require an environmental assessment.
Maui Tomorrow, the Kahului Harbor Coalition and Sierra Club had sought an environmental assessment of the impact of the Hawaii Superferry.
Superferry official Tig Krekel said he was disappointed with yesterday's decision.
"We're going to court to push our case and seek every legal avenue we can," said Krekel, vice chairman of J.F. Lehman & Co., owner of the Superferry.
"The people of Hawaii want the Superferry."
Jeff Parker, whose Kahului Harbor Coalition was among the groups supporting the order, said he was pleased with Cardoza's decision.
Parker said he was a farmer and felt the state should prepare an environmental assessment looking at how the Superferry might introduce invasive species.
During the hearing yesterday, Munger said the Maui groups who sought the temporary restraining order had no evidence of irreparable injury as a result of the Superferry's operation.
Munger said the request for a temporary restraining order was also "late in the game" to claim relief and that irreparable harm would be done to the public and to the 23,000 voyages purchased by people.
"This temporary restraining order obviously harms the Hawaii Superferry," she said.
Munger said the Superferry also has instituted an extensive invasive-species program and developed procedures for whale avoidance reviewed by the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary.
Munger said the state Department of Transportation granted the exemption for an environmental assessment before the Hawaii Superferry went forth with plans to invest $300 million and hire 300 employees.
"The continual employment of these people are what is enjoined," she said.
State Deputy Attorney General William Wynhoff said that during the Hawaii Superferry's operation, there has been no report of harm done to whales and monk seals and that worries about traffic were "complete speculation."
Wynhoff asked the Superferry be allowed to continue operating while completing the environmental assessment.
Isaac Hall, the attorney representing Maui Tomorrow, a sustainable-development advocacy group, said the Supreme Court was aware of the Superferry's plan to start operation this week and issued a decision last week to protect the rights of those bringing the lawsuit.
Hall said Wynhoff and Superferry officials knew about the decision by the state Supreme Court but decided to go "full steam ahead" and pushed up the starting date of their operation to Sunday.
"That, to me, was acting in utter bad faith," Hall said.
Hall said the state Legislature intended that an environmental assessment be done prior to a project's operation so that measures could be put in place to reduce its impact.
Hall said that contrary to what Hawaii Superferry supporters are saying, testimony has been given by an expert that the operation will kill whales.
"They have no one to blame but themselves," Hall said.
The order did not affect the route to Kauai, but Superferry officials canceled the trips after a waterborne blockade gave the Coast Guard concerns about the safety of the vessel, passengers and protesters.
Passengers have been dropping off their vehicles at the Superferry's shipping lot to be returned tomorrow to Oahu. At least two dozen cars were parked Tuesday at the vehicle check-in site on Maui, some of which had arrived on the vessel Monday.
One passenger said he was unsure if his family would be able to return with his vehicle on the Superferry Friday and that Superferry officials have offered them return flights on airlines.
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Governor and Kauai senator play blame game for protests
Gov. Linda Lingle issued a sharp rebuttal yesterday to Kauai Sen. Gary Hooser, who has criticized her administration over its handling of the Hawaii Superferry's operations and called on her to provide leadership to avoid an escalation of tension in Nawiliwili Harbor.
Protesters in the water prevented the Superferry from docking on Kauai before the governor asked the company Tuesday to suspend service until safety issues could be resolved. Superferry officials have suspended service indefinitely.
While the Maui Circuit Court has issued a restraining order halting service to Maui, there was no such order for Kauai.
Lingle said it was incumbent on Hooser (D, Kauai-Niihau) to take a more active leadership role.
"As senator for Kauai, I would expect you to be aware of planned protests such as those that have illegally interfered with the Hawaii Superferry," Lingle wrote in a letter to Hooser yesterday. "I would expect that you would have demonstrated your leadership on Kauai by working with residents in your district to avert such a dangerous act of civil disobedience."
She called on Hooser to go on the radio and write to the Garden Island newspaper, "asking people to be calm and work through the system and proper channels."
Hooser did not return telephone messages seeking comment yesterday.
Earlier this week, he had called on Lingle to intervene and "to provide the leadership now lacking in this situation and begin a meaningful collaborative process aimed at averting further confrontations."
He later added that he was disappointed that neither the administration nor the Department of Transportation had acknowledged "huge mistakes."
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Discounts and rainchecks offered for disrupted travel
A flurry of fare deals popped up for the land-bound Hawaii Superferry, including rain checks on $5 tickets, refunds and expense reimbursements for stranded passengers.
Superferry officials announced that people who bought $5 promotional tickets on canceled interisland voyages may redeem them on another trip for up to a year.
Passengers unable to make return trips after the Superferry suspended service were told to book a coach flight home and to submit receipts for reimbursement "for any reasonable expenses," including a night's hotel stay and meals up to $25 per day.
The Superferry will provide five passes for future voyages to passengers whose travel was disrupted by the cancellations.
Also, a partnership with Hawaiian Airlines will give ferry customers discounted $19 airfares on interisland flights through Oct. 31. Aloha Airlines quickly matched the $19 fare Tuesday, and go! airlines has offered ticketed Superferry passengers half-price trips.
The Hawaii Superferry stopped service after only two days amid troubles with the courts and protesters.
Kauai trips were suspended indefinitely Tuesday after protests in Nawiliwili Harbor. A Maui judge heard testimony yesterday to determine whether the ferry can run while an environmental assessment is conducted.
The Superferry has not said how many people have been stranded nor how many passengers with bookings on later sailings requested refunds.