BARKERS AND SHILLS: When we saw the cockamamie intentionally-slanted push-poll in the local paper last week we detailed why we had a little more than a inkling that Adam Harju was now an official member of the United Superferry Military Command.
But Harju has left no doubt that his Garbage Island newspaper- one of the only two newspapers in the state along with the Maui News that wasn’t on the advertising-remunerated Superferry bandwagon- has now become a PR wing of the Hawaii Superferry (HSF).
In an inane editorial Sunday Harju makes up facts out of whole cloth and substitutes HSf and Chamber of Commerce (CofC) PR materials while citing his so-called poll results in an attempt to try to paint a rosy picture in service of HSf service on Kaua`i.
Harju has apparently taken reporter Nathan Eagle off the Superferry beat, substituting malahini Michael Levine, the new police and courts reporter, after Eagle apparently insisted on covering the actualities not the corporate spin regarding the HSf.
In the convoluted rare TGI editorial Harju tries to make the CofC’s case for the HSf’ as a panacea for curing the current downturn- a preposterous proposition to begin with- and cite the current EIS as being sufficient to allow the ferry on Kaua`i.
(I)n the battle to adhere to the state’s evolving environmental assessment process, the company is making strides. The argument from the beginning was nothing more than wanting the company to adhere to the process.
Now, a year later — after a Maui judge halted service in October of 2007, and an October Special Session of the state Legislature allowed service to continue as an Environmental Assessment is conducted — with Belt Collins, the company contracted to carry out the Environmental Impact Statement well into its work, is Kaua`i ready for a return of the Superferry?
The survival of our island’s residents has gone up a notch or two on the priority list over the last year. Unemployment is up, income is down and prices are rising. Will a return of service help ease any of those issues? We may get a chance to find out after the company is claiming a plan to come back after the EIS is complete in the spring of 2009. Is that not what people are concerned about? An EIS?
As Hawaii Superferry learns from its mistakes and attempts to recover from its PR blunder, will the people of Kaua`i forgive them? From the comments of island leaders in today’s front page article, it seems a possibility.
There will always be those who want no return of service and will equate the Superferry with a killing machine and anyone who gets near one a stormtrooper of corporate greed, but maybe, just maybe, it will lift some economic burden. If the environmental conditions are met, there should be no reason we can not find out.
Nowhere in TGI- or for that matter other papers- does the real information on the current EIS appear: the info that it is isn’t a real EIS as we’ve come to know them.
It is a watered down pseudo-version of one, based not on long standing National Environmental Protection act (NEPA) and state HEPA standards but one substituting a version detailed in the special legislation in Act 2 passed by the legislature last year that apparently does not contain the full identification of environmental, cultural and social impacts nor full plans for mitigation.
People who have demanded an “EIS First” are just beginning to find out that the Belt-Collins EIS is not going to address their concerns and mitigate them as a normal EIS does.
And, judging by the way they collected supposed community “input” that TGI cites it won’t even consider all the issues.
The words “public hearing” and “community input” were never heard in the very limited publicity before the never-identified-as-such “scoping meetings” last year which were billed and conducted as informational meetings.
No public speakers and no direct questions were permitted. As a matter of fact testimony was not permitted to be filed electronically, an absurdity in these days when public testimony via email is ubiquitous.
And if the poll and editorial wasn’t indicative enough of the unethical behavior at TGI, today’s article on yesterday’s “celebration” in Nawiliwili of the turning back of the HSf one year ago, half the article was taken up with unsubstantiated accusations in an interview with well-known nut-case James “Kimo” Rosen.
Not just was Rosen’s one man counter-demonstration dug up and reported- using half the article to detail his views- his ridiculous, unverified, un-witnessed claim of having had rocks thrown at him was given big play.
Despite the fact that the place was crawling with cops taking pictures according to those who attended and that Rosen was positioned far away from where the party goers were gathered TGI and the Honolulu Advertiser reported the rock throwing statement unchallenged in an unbelievable example of journalistic malfeasance.
Even though this kind of crap journalism is common these days when the paper is on a mission, we tend to doubt that if we made the claim Tom Fargo threw rocks at us it would have been plastered on the front page of the biggest newspaper in the state and the only local one.
The only decent coverage in the state today was, as usual, that of Tom Finnegan in the Honolulu Star Bulletin. He reported on what actually happened, not what some malahini right wing nut made up, as Levine in TGI and Diana Leone in the Honolulu Advertiser did..
But perhaps the worst attempt to misrepresent the community’s feelings on the issue by digging up some proponents who have deluded themselves into planning to line their pockets with Superferry trips to Kaua`i, was Sunday’s TGI front page article headlined “Superferry officials talk of possible return”
First Levine interviewed Tom Fargo quoting him as saying
“I’m really looking toward the future,” Tom Fargo, president and chief executive officer of Hawai`i Superferry, said in a Friday phone interview with The Garden Island. “My sense is that people would like to find a way forward. I’m always optimistic.”
Then he turns to the CofC, reporting
“Clearly the majority of our members are for the Superferry,” said Kaua`i Chamber of Commerce President Randy Francisco. “We also have members who are not for the ferry, but we understand their issues, which are related to the EIS, or some who just don’t want it.”
As we predicted last week, TGI used their ill-designed “poll” to try to say everyone loves the Ferry- or at least a majority. The poll as we detailed gave one “yes” choice, one “no” choice and three choices that were interpreted as “yes” answers, despite the fact those answering them could have been giving a qualified “no”
True to predictions the article said
A Web poll conducted by The Garden Island shows that 39 percent of votes were cast in favor of the Superferry’s presumably immediate return to Kaua`i; 11 percent more support a return to Kaua`i while an Environmental Impact Statement is conducted; 17 percent endorse a return only after an EIS is completed; and 5 percent recommend further outreach to the people of Kaua`i by Superferry officials.
Some 28 percent of votes were cast for an option saying the ferry should never return to Kaua`i.
Of course now the cheerleaders at the advertising beneficiaries at the Advertiser are claiming it’s 50% in favor and Fargo is now claiming a majority according to Leone’s article which feeds the self perpetuating fact-ignoring spin efforts of HSF and TGI by saying:
A recent nonscientific online poll in the Garden Island newspaper found that 50 percent of respondents favor the Superferry returning to Kaua`i; 17 percent want a return only after an EIS is completed; 5 percent recommend further outreach to the people of Kaua`i by Superferry officials; and 28 percent don't want the ferry on Kaua`i under any circumstances.
Fargo said he interprets that poll as "2-to-1 in favor of the Superferry returning" at some point. He didn't address ongoing court appeals by Maui and Kaua`i groups opposing the ferry.
And check out this little bit of spin from Levine, Harju’s and Lewis’ new Superferry shill.
Kaua`i resident Richard Hoeppner, who was central in last year’s protest and is organizing today’s “Ferry Free Kaua`i” anniversary celebration in Nawiliwili Park, agrees that the environmental review is critical.
“I would totally welcome them (the Superferry) with open arms if they completed an independent EIS. I never said anything like ‘sink the ferry,’” Hoeppner said Friday. “I tried to take the high road and said they should follow the law. Find out your environmental impact on our island and then come back, but not before.”
First he pulls a quote that says “I would totally welcome the Superferry” from Hoeppner and then links his objections to the EIS.
But he leaves out the fact that Hoeppner has been one of those shouting from the rooftops that the current EIS is not a valid or independent one, something the mainstream press has absolutely ignored but has been one of the main points opponent have been making for months.
We’d like to see Leone and Levine claim that Hoeppner didn’t try to make this the focal point of his interview. Then we’d know that they are not just biased shills but liars too.
And of course the choice of quotes allows Levine to continue by saying
For his part, Fargo agrees, at least when it comes to Kaua`i.
“The state just completed the rapid risk assessment that takes a look at our compliance with all of the environmental laws and processes,” he said. “It came out very positive, and I think it’ll be good when we have the EIS done because the EIS will reflect a lot of the same things as the rapid risk assessment.”
This report regurgitates unchallenged the HSf spin on the report, which actually found horribly lax standards and inspections of the ferry on it’s Maui trips as we detailed in the same piece in which we critiqued the poll, including some hair raising numbers from Maui Tomorrow’s Irene Bowie.
This is a new low in the junk reporting the Garbage Island has been known for since 1982. It’s a deliberate effort to cash in on the Superferry advertising dollars the Honolulu newspapers are rolling in by misrepresenting the issues and the pulse of the community.
Apparently Harju and publisher Mark Lewis know who’s buttering their bread. We would be willing to bet dollars to donuts that TGI was well represented in a meeting on August 4th that was not reported in TGI but was mentioned in Leone’s Advertiser article where, she says:
Adm. Thomas Fargo, president of the Hawaii Superferry, confirmed to The Advertiser Friday that he met Aug. 4 with business leaders and elected officials on Kaua`i to present information about how Superferry operations have been going between O`ahu and Maui.
"We will continue to answer questions and talk story" over coming months, Fargo said, "to get as much information (about Superferry operations) in front of leadership and of people as we possibly can."
We had no illusions when Harju flew in to take over TGI that he was at all interested in making it into a paper that represented the people on the island rather than the business community.
The trend in newspapers these day is in that direction. But like all of his predecessors over the past 25 years, even since “the people’s editor” Jean Holmes retired, he has taken the paper to new depths of ethical depravity in journalism.
It’s about time people all call out TGI and call out their prime advertisers. We need to put the economic hurt on them and shatter the visions of dollar signs that cause them to publish unrepentant advertiser supported spin.
Perhaps a boycott is in order. We don’t expect any real journalism at TGI but at least we don’t have to give them our money.