Superferry protesters applaud Maui judge's ruling
|||Judge rules against Hawaii Superferry|
By Dan Nakaso
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Dan Nakaso
Hawaii Superferry protesters today celebrated a Maui judge's ruling to prohibit the Superferry from operating while the state prepares an environmental assessment.
Dozens of protesters who jumped into the water in August and prevented the Superferry from docking at Nawiliwili Harbor. The protests helped prod the Superferry to postpone its Kaua'i trips.
Keone Kealoha, director of the non-profit sustainability organization Malama Kaua'i, said, "I'm glad that they upheld the law as written. That's the duty of the judiciary and he (Maui Circuit Judge Joseph Cardoza) did his job very well today. I would hope that the administration and our legislators respect the judiciary branch and don't try to circumvent those decisions."
Lori Stitt, treasurer of the Surfrider Foundation's Kaua'i chapter, believes a special legislative session is "inevitable" following Cardoza's ruling.
"I don't believe the Superferry officials and our state government will back down," Stitt said.
In federal court last week, Big Island attorney Lanny Sinkin lost a challenge to the Coast Guard's security zone on Kaua'i that creates special areas for protesters but — as Sinkin argued — prohibits free speech.
Sinkin was back at the courthouse today filing an emergency appeal of the decision to Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
"I want the Ninth Circuit to say to the Superferry: 'You cannot go into the harbor on Kaua'i,'" Sinkin said.
He called Judge Cardoza's ruling "obviously the correct decision on the law. The law has been clear from the beginning. Unfortunately, we had public officials making up law and telling people that things could happen that were illegal," Sinkin said.
"Everybody relied on the legal opinion of the Director of Transportation" who said the Superferry did not have to wait for an environmental assessment before starting operations, Sinkin said.
"We saw the governor lining up with the Coast Guard, lining up with the Department of Homeland Security and the state Department of Transportation — the whole gang — to make something that was not possible."
Legislators have been waiting for Cardoza's ruling to decide whether to convene a special legislative session to consider what to do with the Superferry.
Andrea Noelani Brower, who jumped into the water at Nawiliwili Harbor with other protesters in in August, said the Legislature should let the normal bureaucratic and legal processes play out and not interfere.
"The process should have a chance to go through," Brower said. "In this case, the law is very clear and certain government officials and representatives trying to go around the law or change it in the interest of a private corporation is just wrong."
Reach Dan Nakaso at email@example.com.