Thursday, April 17, 2008


TRY TOMATO JUICE: For the hypertensive among us it might not be a good idea to read the text of Auditor Marion Higa’s Hawai`i Superferry (HSf) fiasco report released today.

The most striking part is how in an “unprecedented” obstruction of justice Attorney General Mark Bennett covered up the political decision-making that led to the abandonment of environmental laws in exempting the HSf from review.

Higa’s report describes a systematic attempt by Bennett to not only deny her staff records with absurd claims of executive privilege and “ alleged” attorney-client privileges using lies and deceit as tools, he even denied one-on-one interviews with persons under investigation by insisting one of his people be in the room, violating all principles of valid audits

Bennett then had the nerve to demand pre-review of the audit and tried to actually force Higa’s office to include his responses to the factual material she provided and then claimed the report isn’t accurate because- get this- it was incomplete because it didn’t examine the documents he ordered withheld..

The report describes a Department of Transportation Harbor’s (DOT-H) Division caught between their legal obligations to do an environmental review and intense political pressure right from the Governor’s office to do whatever the Superferry corporation wanted them to do, even while the HSf lied to them regarding the “deadline” for their loan and the absolute need for an exemption by the date certain.

It also describes why the shoddy harbor accommodations- the floating barge set-up in Kahalui harbor- was essential since any “permanent” facility would have had to trigger an environmental review, since the type of loan HSf got is usually only for boats that will be docking in already built facilities.

Since the barge set-up would only be a “temporary” facility a permanent facility would have to be built after a period of operation but that construction could not be tied to the HSf or it would also trigger Hawai`i environmental laws.

That well could be the reason why, shortly after the exemption was issued a supposedly unrelated almost billion dollar Harbors Master Plan was unveiled, since a plan that huge would be the only way the HSf’s docking facilities could be built without making plain the skirting of environmental law.

The report also details the precise ways the exemption was tied to Governor Lingle’s office and pinpoints the day the decision was made during a Dec. 30 2004 meeting with her Chief of Staff after which employees of the DOT-H say the political pressure to exempt the HSf caused them to turn on science and conscience and seek any way they could to exempt the operation.

It also details how they got away with it, citing the total lack of accountability and transparency in the exemption process which actually has not only no enforcement provisions but an “advisory” review system that doesn’t require review until after the exemption is granted, with the granting of the exemption being done by the same ones proposing the exempting.

Right now it’s impossible to lift text passages from the PDF of the only posted version of the report but as soon as it’s “quotable” there will be people having a field day with it- with, hopefully, the FBI among them since we don’t see the Attorney General investigating himself... although based on his prior behavior we fully expect he will try.


Anonymous said...

And you are surprised? C'mon Andy. The fix was in for this tub from Day 1. LL wanted it bad and her boys did what they needed to make damn sure it came to pass.

Not to worry, it will be bankrupt in another year or so taking down $140 million in Federal loan guarantees with it. But since the lads in Trent Lott's neighborhood got jobs out of the deal how can we really complain?

Anonymous said...

the FBI? What federal law was broken?

Anonymous said...

you must not be a frequent reader of Andy. Hyperbole is his low speed setting.

Mauibrad said...

Nice review of the initial audit, Andy. I will link to it. Aloha, Brad

Anonymous said...

Aweright andy! It's not accurate, but it's politically correct! Right on dude!