Poll finds broad support for Superferry
Backers of the vessel hope the results will influence legislators
Lobbyists for the Hawaii Superferry are giving state lawmakers a new public opinion poll reporting that there is wide public support for the controversial ship.
The poll was conducted by QMark Research, owned by the marketing firm Anthology Marketing Group, which is handling the Superferry account through its public relations firm, McNeil Wilson Communications.
The poll, taken between Thursday and Sunday, surveyed 300 randomly selected registered voters throughout the state. It had a margin or error of plus or minus 6 percent, according to QMark.
According to the poll, 55 percent of the voters surveyed had a "very favorable" perception of the Superferry and another 31 percent said their perception was "somewhat favorable."
When asked whether they thought the Legislature should intervene if necessary to allow the Superferry to resume service while an environmental survey is conducted, 72 percent said yes.
John Radcliffe, one of several lobbyists hired by the ferry, said the poll results should help legislators decide to support the ferry.
"This is just in keeping with what we already know," Radcliffe said.
"Legislators are interested in anything that gives stability to the question, so they are pleased to have this because it tracks with what they already know," Radcliffe said.
Legislative leaders yesterday seemed to agree that the poll likely reflects public sentiment.
"I'm really happy with the results," said House Speaker Calvin Say (D, St. Louis Heights-Wilhelmina Rise-Palolo Valley).
"It tells us that the general public overwhelmingly supports the Superferry operation," Say said.
Sen. Shan Tsutsui (D, Wailuku-Kahului) said the poll would reflect the state as a whole, especially because the overwhelming number of people support the ferry live on Oahu, the island with more than 70 percent of Hawaii's population.
"It is a small minority that doesn't want it, but there is a large sentiment that the Superferry should perform an environmental impact survey," Tsutsui said.
Senate President Colleen Hanabusa (D, Nanakuli-Makua) said she was surprised that 90 percent of those surveyed said they were very familiar or somewhat familiar with the vessel.
"The number that want us to take action is not surprising," Hanabusa added.
But Hanabusa said the Legislature will not act until after the state court rules.
BACK TO TOP
Twin hulls called whale peril
WAILUKU » The area between the twin hulls of a ship like Hawaii Superferry's is "no-whale's land," Pacific Whale Foundation President Greg Kaufman said in Maui Circuit Court yesterday.
Kaufman said hydrodynamic forces push and pull the vessel so it moves like a "drunken sailor."
"The last place a whale would want to find itself is between the hulls because the vessel cannot drive in a straight line for a protracted period of time," said Kaufman.
Kaufman is testifying on behalf of three environmental groups that are seeking the suspension of Superferry service to Kahului Harbor while an environmental assessment is conducted.
Kaufman also spoke about jet propulsion systems used on ships like the Superferry's, saying such engines can severely injure or kill a marine mammal that gets next to the grate where water is sucked in, then pushed out to move the vessel forward.
Superferry attorney Lisa Munger said the company "experienced $1 million in operational expenses and lost income just in the time Mr. Kaufman has been on the stand, first appearing on Sept. 20."
Munger called the development "a clever tactic," alleging it is part of a plan by the plaintiffs to filibuster the proceedings and get Kaufman to return to the stand after their own whale expert testifies.
Attorneys for the Hawaii Superferry plan to call Mark Fraker, owner of Terramar Environmental Research, to testify on marine mammal disturbance response, including the impact of dredging and noise.
Isaac Hall, attorney for the three environmental groups, said, "We are the ones injured because their expert has been sitting in this courtroom the whole time listening to Kaufman and preparing for his testimony."
Judge Joseph Cardoza said, "I can't say one party or other is responsible for this hearing being a long one."
Before adjourning for the day, Cardoza added, "At some point we need to bring this witness' testimony to a conclusion."