FL MORRIS / FMORRIS@STARBULLETIN.COM
Hawaii Superferry employees waved signs yesterday on King Street in front of the Hawaii Supreme Court, demonstrating concern for their jobs and rallying support for the Superferry. John Celebrado was among the participants. For more on the rally, see Page A6.
Superferry saga moves to courts
Legal action taken by Kauai and Maui groups will be heard tomorrow
STORY SUMMARY »
The fate of the beleaguered Hawaii Superferry hinges with two state judges tomorrow as a Kauai advocacy group filed a request for a court order idling the interisland vessel while an environmental assessment is completed.
That move promises to delay the resumption of the ferry service to Kauai even as the Coast Guard announced new restrictions aimed at keeping waterborne protesters out of the vessel's way. The Coast Guard said it has drawn a line in the water that will result in arrests if crossed by demonstrators.
1000 Friends of Kauai, a nonprofit started in 1981, requested a temporary restraining order to block the Superferry from docking at Nawiliwili until the state Department of Transportation has completed the environmental assessment process, which was ordered by the Hawaii Supreme Court on Aug. 23. A hearing is scheduled for tomorrow.
No decision has been made yet as to when service to Kauai will resume, company spokesman Terry O'Halloran said.
On Maui, meanwhile, a hearing is scheduled tomorrow before Circuit Judge Joseph Cardoza on a motion for a preliminary injunction to keep the Superferry from running to Kahului as the assessment proceeds.
FULL STORY »
LIHUE » Simultaneous court hearings on Kauai and Maui likely will determine the Superferry's next trip.
A Kauai environmental group filed a request for a court order yesterday to keep the Superferry from going to the Garden Isle.
1000 Friends of Kauai, a nonprofit organization started in 1981, filed a motion yesterday for a temporary restraining order to block the Superferry from docking at Nawiliwili until the state Department of Transportation has completed the environmental assessment process, which was ordered by the Hawaii Supreme Court on Aug. 23.
A hearing on the TRO request is scheduled for 9 a.m. tomorrow before Lihue Circuit Judge Randal Valenciano.
At the same time, a hearing is scheduled to begin in front of Maui Circuit Judge Joseph Cardoza on a motion for a preliminary injunction to keep the Superferry from running from Oahu to Kahului until an environmental assessment on harbor improvements is completed.
The environmental assessment, according to state Department of Transportation officials, could take up to eight months.
The 1000 Friends' lawyer, Daniel Hempey of Lihue firm Hempey and Meyers, said yesterday that Superferry officials have agreed not to sail to Kauai tomorrow. And on the Superferry's Web site, service to and from Kauai is suspended through Friday and service to and from Maui is suspended through Tuesday .
"The 1000 Friends' request is simply to enforce the Supreme Court's judgment," Hempey said yesterday.
Lawyers representing the Department of Transportation said the 1000 Friends' claim is late. The group had a six-month window to fight the department's 2005 decision to exempt the Superferry from the environmental assessment process.
Lawyers for the Hawaii Superferry did not return a call for comment yesterday.
The 1000 Friends motion for a TRO alleges that "immediate injury, loss, or damage will result" if the Superferry returns to the Garden Isle.
The Superferry's impact on traffic, marine life, crime, the environment and the culture has never been studied or subject to public scrutiny, the group's motions also state.
Without that study, all operating agreements with the Superferry should be voided and any further Superferry trips should be considered a nuisance, the 1000 Friends claim.
Following up on the Supreme Court decision, Cardoza slapped a temporary restraining order on the Superferry, forbidding it from docking at Maui until tomorrow, but that deadline has been extended until Tuesday -- when preliminary injunction arguments are expected to end.
Superferry attorneys say there is no evidence that the vessel will harm the environment, while state attorneys say an assessment can be done while the ferry operates.
BACK TO TOP
FL MORRIS / FMORRIS@STARBULLETIN.COM
Hawaii Superferry employees held signs in front of the Hawaii Supreme Court building on King Street yesterday, showing concern for their jobs as well as support for the Superferry.
Workers rally to boost sagging sails
About 100 Hawaii Superferry employees and executives stood in front of the Hawaii Supreme Court yesterday, waving to passing motorists with signs saying "Save Our Jobs" and "Mahalo for Your Support."
Many motorists honked in support and the workers hooted and hollered back in gratitude.
"I think we can prevail," said Astrida Pesentheiner, a port customer experience representative. "The Superferry will endure. I'm confident with that.
"I'm proud to be part of such a team," she said. "If anything this is just bringing us closer together."
She said she's not fearful of losing her two-month-old job.
"I'm staying positive," she said.
Most of the employees said the same. But some weren't as outwardly optimistic.
Maui native Kanoa Taylor, who held a "Save Our Jobs" sign, said he moved back to Hawaii from Seattle for a job as a deckhand after 10 years on the mainland.
"If we can't operate, I'm sure they don't have money to pay us indefinitely," he said. "There are not that many professional mariner jobs in the state."
Deckhand Calvin Kaawa brought along his surfboards to display, including two wooden replicas of old Hawaiian surfboards, because he believes many protesters believe Oahu residents will take over surf spots on Kauai.
"It's not my surf spot, your surf spot," he said. "We all come from the same place. ... Everyone should have the right to surf where they want."
He said Oahu surfers share their surf spots with others who come from the mainland and elsewhere.
He said he wasn't too worried about his job, but wondered how long the company could keep paying workers when they weren't working.
Company spokesman Terry O'Halloran said: "We have an outstanding group of people. They are so upbeat and extremely loyal. It's coming from their heart"
BACK TO TOP
Superferry’s Kauai schedule on hold despite new water rules
The Hawaii Superferry's Alakai won't be traveling to Kauai this week despite a Coast Guard's new fixed security zone in place at Nawiliwili Harbor.
No decision has been made yet as to when service to Kauai will resume, company spokesman Terry O'Halloran said. He said the company is working closely with the Coast Guard to determine a date.
The Coast Guard said it has drawn a line in the water that, if crossed by protesters, will result in arrests.
The new security procedures were announced after a meeting held on Kauai on Monday between the Coast Guard, Superferry officials, Kauai officials and representatives of invited opposing groups.
The Coast Guard will set up a boom, usually used for oil spills, to block off a section of the harbor to allow for safe passage of the Superferry, while allowing those who want to protest from the water to do so without blocking the vessel's entrance.
The boom will run roughly from Kukii Point and west to a jetty off Kalapaki Beach, blocking off a small section of the harbor for what the Coast Guard considers a legal demonstration.
A moving 100-yard security zone that surrounds vessels is already in place for all cruise ships, which the Coast Guard said includes the Superferry. But the Coast Guard took the additional step of invoking a temporary rule for a fixed security zone.
Coast Guard Rear Adm. Sally Brice-Ohara signed the emergency rule, which went into effect Saturday and remains in place until Oct. 31, according to Cmdr. Andrew Norris, district judge advocate.
The Coast Guard will use a minimum amount of force necessary to get protesters to comply, said Capt. Vince Atkins, commander of Coast Guard Sector Honolulu, but he declined to give specifics.
Violators of the security zones may face up to 10 years of federal imprisonment and $25,000 in fines. Parents of children who violate the rules will face civil penalties. Any vessel, including surfboards, kayaks and canoes, may be immediately seized.