Was the Hawaii Superferry project conceived of as a means of securing a military contract? Speculation in Hawaii among activists that the ferries might have eventually been used for interisland transport of the Army’s Stryker brigade and other military equipment fueled conflict between protestors and Superferry supporters.
In March 2005, John F. Lehman, a former Navy Secretary during the Reagan administration and the company's principal investor, told Pacific Business News that there was a possibility the ferries would be used to move military cargo. In 2008, the former CEO and President of HSF, Inc., Thomas Fargo, said that ...
Government agency with a history of taxpayer losses keeps at it
Between 2004 and 2009, the U.S. Maritime Administration, or MARAD, a federal agency that supports the U.S. shipbuilding industry and merchant marine, made just one loan from its troubled Federal Ship Financing Program, also known as Title XI. The borrower was Hawaii Superferry Inc., a politically connected company that hired a former chief counsel and deputy administrator of MARAD, among others, to lobby the agency. In 2005, Hawaii Superferry got a taxpayer-guaranteed loan for $139 million to build and operate a pair of high-speed ferries in the fiftieth state. Just four years later, the company filed for bankruptcy ...Continue reading
Tracking Contractors and Lobbyists, and a Congressional Intervention
Add to the list of Freedom of Information Act requests sent out in pursuit of forms SF-LLL one requesting information related to the contract mentioned in this April 20, 2005, story from the Hill, concerning a federal effort to develop and distribute "intelligent transportation technology." As I understand it, this technology lets users access traffic information in real time, to see where tie-ups are and, hopefully, avoid them on their way home. (I think Al Gore might have had this system on his mind during the 2000 campaign, when he made livability one of his themes.) Right now, you can see what such a system would look like at Traffic.com, in part because Traffic.com (actually, its government services division known as Mobility Technologies) was the company that, in 1998, was awarded a federal contract to develop the technology in a few, test cities. Here's The Hill on what happened in 2001, when intelligent transportation technology was supposed to be offered to 50 additional cities:Continue reading