Persuasion takes a holiday
Kauai's years of independence ended Oct. 9, 1821, not with rifle and cannon, but nuptials as Kaumualii, the last independent king of a Hawaiian island, married Kaahumanu, the favored wife of the late Kamehameha.
This little bit of matrimonial diplomacy was not just the result of a couple of starry-eyed, middle-aged lovers. Liholiho, Kamehameha's son, had gone to Kauai and after cruising the neighborhood with Kaumualii, he invited the king onto his boat, then sailed back to Oahu. Kidnapping is the usual description for that.
Then to seal the deal, Kaahumanu picked Kaumualii's son as her consort, which today would be called "a friend with privileges."
Besides explaining why Hawaii's missionaries were always pictured with a frown, Kauai's history shows the art of persuasion.
You have to wonder just how artless the battle over the Hawaii Superferry in the new Kauai has become.
The folks on Kauai and the folks who run the Superferry appear to be taking turns as who can be the most boorish.
Deciding to rev up the engines and sail to Kauai after the Supreme Court decision saying the environmental laws were out of whack was a PR mistake. The Kauai overreaction, with cursing crowds and kids paddling in front of a 350-foot ship, was equally bad.
Now the Legislature is setting up to attempt to patch things up as best it can.
Senate President Colleen Hanabusa is proposing taking the whole controversy on the road and letting everyone have a say. Superferry officials contend they already had 22 public briefings about the service. Kauai Councilwoman JoAnn Yukimura complains the hearings were shibai, with no one having authority to change the fact that the ship was coming.
Legislative hearings can change a legislator's mind or at least focus it, and Hanabusa notes that she realizes the hearings include going to the unfriendly island of Kauai.
The hearings need not be filled only with naysayers. Oddly, the business community has been a no-show in the Superferry debate.
Lingle, a Republican governor who said she wanted to propel business to new heights, is now worried that mainland tourists will think a trip to the neighbor islands could become a remake of "Deliverance."
"Publicity outside the state is extremely negative," Lingle said, noting that she was asked during a conference if it was true that "neighbor island people don't want any of us to go over there."
Lingle also observed that Hawaii's business community "has been pretty much absent during the discussion."
Lingle and the other Superferry supporters are hoping that if Hawaii still has local business leaders, they will show up at the outer island hearings and at the Legislature.