RICHARD WALKER / RWALKER@STARBULLETIN.COM
Hawaii Superferry executives John Garibaldi, right, and Tig Krekel talked with the media yesterday after they made visits at the state Capitol to meet with lawmakers.
Ferry walks the halls
Company officials are passing out details to state lawmakers
Hawaii Superferry officials launched a personal lobbying campaign with state senators yesterday, but there were no immediate signs of its effectiveness.
John Garibaldi, Superferry president, and Tig Krekel, lead director on the company's board, met for a half-hour each with Sens. Jill Tokuda, Les Ihara and Suzanne Chun Oakland.
After the meetings, the pair refused comment.
"We are just giving information out on what our operation will be like," Garibaldi said.
Garibaldi denied that the face-to-face meetings were in response to the criticism last week by Senate President Colleen Hanabusa, who had said few senators had ever met the Superferry officials.
"I spend a good part of my life up here. I have been here many times," Garibaldi said.
House leaders have said there is enough support among House Democrats to approve a bill that would allow the Superferry to run while an environmental assessment or impact statement is completed.
The state Supreme Court ordered in August that an assessment be done, and a Maui court upheld a permanent injunction stopping the service to Maui and Kauai.
Democratic senators, however, are skittish about giving the Superferry everything it wants.
"I think there is definitely some room for compromise," Tokuda (D, Kaneohe-Kailua) said. "There is hope for a middle ground in terms of looking at the provisions."
Ihara added that he would vote for an exemption for the ferry but still had concerns.
"I don't want this happening again. I am familiar with the law (environmental impact requirements), and it is not difficult to understand.
"I am inclined to help, but I think mistakes were made and I want to prevent that," Ihara (D, Kaimuki-Palolo) said.
Senators are discussing a possible round of hearings on the neighbor islands before a special session. Hearings could start as soon as Thursday, with a five-day session starting Monday.
Former Senate President Robert Bunda said the public hearings are not needed now and could be held during the regular legislative session in January.
Meanwhile, a bill to help the ferry could be passed now and adjusted in January.
"If the Legislature wants to help the Superferry, we should go into special session now and lift the injunction. We should keep it simple. If there are reasons to overturn it later, so be it," Bunda (D, Wahiawa-Pupukea) said.
But Sen. Gary Hooser, the lone Kauai senator, said his fellow Democrats "are very uncomfortable about going into a special session."
"My sense is that a good percentage of the majority doesn't want to go into a special session. They believe we can wait until January," he said.