January 04, 2012 | 11:42 AMNEW YEAR, NEW SUPERFERRY?
I've been waiting for this one, and good ol' state Representative Joe Souki didn't disappoint. In the Dec. 30 Maui News, Souki says he's sponsored a bill calling for a new inter-island ferry that would pick up where the bankrupt Hawaii Superferry left off.
That's right, folks: Souki wants to start the whole Superferry thing over again. And this time Souki says it will work, as long as those pesky kids on the Hawaii Supreme Court quit their meddling–like that one time when they ruled that the state Legislature couldn't just pass a bill exempting a single company (in this case, Hawaii Superferry, Inc.) from the state's environmental review laws.
"That damn Supreme Court coming up with a decision that it was special legislation," Souki said in the News. "What the hell do they think? Every piece of legislation we pass is special."
As anyone who's watched the legislative process knows, every piece of legislation is special. It's just like a snowflake, if the snowflake is manufactured in a process that involves back-biting, cunning, manipulation, campaign contributions, expensive lunches, disingenuous compliments and outright lies that is different and unique every time it starts.
Assuming old Joe is right–that the only reason the Superferry failed is because the state Supreme Court killed it–then it should be easy to get the thing running again. All Souki needs to do is find a mainland corporation that's backed by mainland investors to send a few guys over here to run it.
Then they need to appropriate a lot of Hawaiian imagery and culture and plaster it all over expensive brochures and websites in hopes of convincing people that whole ferry concept was born and developed here in Hawaii.
Then backers and organizers should hold a bunch of "town hall meetings" across the state in which hundreds, if not thousands, of residents show up with questions and comments while government and corporate officials sit on a panel quietly and then later do absolutely nothing with anything mentioned at the meetings.
It's also very important that the ferry backers believe that backroom politicking and secret deals with the governor's office will be more than enough to offset the state's environmental laws, to say nothing of public opinion, should it be found that the proposed ferries could harm marine life.
Because none of that stuff had anything to do with the demise of the Hawaii Superferry–right, Joe?
MONK SEAL SIGHTING
Did someone say marine life? Because on Friday, Dec. 30, as I was driving back from Lahaina I noticed a large, dark, blubbery, unmoving object sprawled across the beach at Olowalu. Thinking filmmaker Kevin Smith had decided to spend New Years on our lovely island, I hurriedly pulled over and leaped out of my car.
Turned out it was a Hawaiian Monk Seal–one of just 1,100 left alive. It was a female, said the very nice young woman from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) who was standing guard over the seal, and had been lounging on the beach since the previous night.
Of course, seeing the seal up close (from a distance of 50 feet or so) made me think of the three monk seals who died on Molokai under "suspicious circumstances." The likeliest suspects are fishermen, angered at the seals for taking their fish.
"The seals are now the easy targets of blame for the many ills of our depleting fisheries," Molokai activist Walter Ritte said last week. "These seals are not invasive; they are like the Hawaiian people who are struggling to survive in their own lands. Hawaiians need to see themselves when they see a Hawaiian Monk Seal. How we treat the seals, is how we can be expected to be treated as Hawaiians in Hawaii."
The NOAA official didn't have much to say when I asked what she knew of the deaths.
"Not much more than what you read in the papers," she said. "Since they're under investigation, I really can't say anything."
But she did ask me to publish the toll-free phone number people can call if they spot a seal or any marine life stranded on the beach, and here it is: 888-256-9840.
SENATE LUVS SOCIAL MEDIA
It seems with each passing day that we live in age of social media. As computers and smart phones get cheaper, more of us around the world choose to talk to each other through online websites and applications. The year 2011 was something of a "Twitter year" around the world, where democracy activists and anti-government forces rallied throughout Middle Eastern dictatorships, organizing their moves with the help of social media networks. This was in marked contrast to us Americans, who seem to use these magnificent communication tools to show our friends what we're eating for lunch, what music we're listening to or what we really think of a video some dude shot of a cat drinking out of a toilet.
Regardless of our motives, social media is fun. There's a rebellious, secret club aspect to looking at Facebook posts and Twitter feeds. In fact, it's becoming so fun and pervasive that our state Senate has decided to do what legislative bodies do best: publish a mind-numbing four-page policy governing the use of social media networks by senators and Senate officials.
"The recent growth of social media use to communicate with government officials and organizations underscores the importance for government agencies to incorporate social media services (i.e., Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Flickr) as integral components to governments' overarching communication initiatives," said Senate President Shan Tsutsui in a Dec. 29 Senate email. "At the same time, it is equally vital that we, as agencies and representatives, harness the potential of these tools in the most appropriate and responsible manner. That's what this policy guides us to do."
Appropriate and responsible–these are two of the last words that should enter any discussion of social media. Social media is popular simply because the vast majority of material found there is inappropriate and irresponsible. Look at Tsutsui's own use of Twitter, for instance (twitter.com/ShanTsutsui). It is entirely appropriate and responsible: his account shows zero Tweets, five followers and zero people that the senator has chosen to follow.
Isn't it a bit odd that the senator who talks about the "importance" of social media doesn't actually use it?
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