Friday, February 27, 2009

MESSIN’ WITH THE MUZZLE

MESSIN’ WITH THE MUZZLE: Although Hawai`i County officials claim the blackballing of journalist/bloggers on the Big Island was over before it began one of, if not the main target of the policy says that’s just more shibai.

“I was the one directly targeted by this directive” says Aaron Stene of the Kona Blog in a comment left on yesterday’s column on the subject.

"The troubling aspect of this debacle” he wrote “is the fact the directive seems to be still in effect. I have had a hard time talking to DPW and the county council ever since this directive was released.”

But according to a Big Island source the derivation of the ban may go back to a rather innocuous video posted by Dave Corrigan of the Big Island Video News last August and is apparently related to the controversy over the expansion of the new Thirty Meter Telescope on Mauna Kea.and Stene’s campaign in support of it in the face of local and kanaka maoli oppostion.

The video shows the repaving of the “Saddle Road” across the Big Island and is also controversial because opponents of the telescope say it is being done not for the pubic but to enable not just the expansion. of the observatory on what Hawaiians consider sacred land but extensive miliary operations in the area.

That video was followed by a post by Stene in Septembers and many more since arguing with opponents but giving them a platform at his popular blog to oppose the project and claim “a military connection to the science going on on Mauna Kea” and that. “the road is mostly used by contractors and not the general public” among other objections.

According to our source, author of the policy DPW spokeswoman Noelani Whittington was still concerned enough about the original video and apparently the discussion on Stene’s blog to still be bringing it up in conversations in December

Though the connection to the ban may or may not be true, Stene thinks it’s far from over.

In a post yesterday he wrote

“(I)t makes me wonder if Noelani and the DPW had a hidden agenda here.... (I)t seemed this directive was targeted mostly at me. I had by far interfaced with the DPW more often than Damon (Tucker) and David (Corrigan)”.

Those are the other two whose blogs were singled out by Whittington when she banned department personnel from interacting with blogger/journalists on the island.

He continued saying:

On a related note, she tried calling me yesterday and tried to kiss my ass by acting all apologetic for doing this. I tried to remain civil even though it was very hard to do so on my part. However I refused to accept her apology for her actions....

There is one more troubling aspect of this debacle. I've had a hard talking to DPW, county council ever since this directive was released. Thus it seems in my case I highly doubt this directive has been withdrawn.

But the saddle road may not be the only controversial project Whittington apparently didn’t want publicly debated. Stene concludes by saying

Lastly, it seems there is a lack of communication between the HDOT and DHHL to minimize the impact of the Waimea bypass, according to this WHT article. If there was better communication the concerns of the DHHL homesteaders would’ve been addressed years ago. Thus this much needed highway wouldn’t be delayed once again

As to Tucker his response to the article was a lot more defensive after Whittington’s slight of his and other reporter/bloggers’ professionalism, as was reported in the Hawai`i Tribune Herald article yesterday that broke the story by obtaining Whittington’s six page policy written policy.
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In his Open Letter to Department of Public Works Spokeswoman Noelani Whittington, Tucker wrote

Ms. Whittington, thank you for insulting Aaron, Dave and Myself with your little knowledge of our backgrounds in today’s article written by Jason Armstrong in the Tribune Herald....

I guess you just assume some of us lack experience because we blog in a blogging format and not in the traditional news sense?

Here is just a little of my Experience… Sorry I got out of the field more then a decade ago and switched to Education:
1 Year Advertising Manager on Mainland1 Year Lay-Out Editor (Hilo)2 Years Reporting (Mainland/Hilo)1 Year Writing Press Releases for the State Legislature...

I myself have never asked DPW for any information. Any information that I have found on them… was already published. I don’t have some “Deep Throat” working for me at your office lady… get a grip!

I know you don’t know who I am… but had it not been for my father-in-law telling me that you are an OK person (and yes you do know him)… You would have ended up on my Smuck list.


Unlike Kaua`i the Big Island is awash with on-line reporting and general information blogs with no less than a dozen people with varying degrees of reporting experience from Kona to Hilo posting tons of information and opinion on everything from the sublime to the ridiculous.

Kaua`i on the other hand is, with a few notable exceptions, practically devoid of blogs with original news and political commentary and reporting which, when combined with a sycophantic local newspaper that rarely if ever rocks the boat, may explain why the county can get away with their unwritten rules of non-engagement and their tight-fisted hold on what is, by law, public information.

2 comments:

Aaron Stene said...

It is interesting that you mention
David Corrigan's video about the Saddle Road resurfacing. I had a gut feeling David's inclusion on this list was because of this video.

The Hawaii County DPW had contract with HMP Inc. to provide asphalt tack coat. However someone from DPW
bought asphalt tack coat from Grace Pacific instead for this project.

Grace Pacific had the equipment to do the tack coat application and would do it for free.

In short his video may be used in litigation to show this breach of contract.

http://snipurl.com/csmbn

Andy Parx said...

Now we’re gettin’ somewhere Aaron. from the first I’ve smelled much more of a story here as to why your DPW would do something like this. I notice you’ve been critical of DPW in other potential improprieties and potential corruption cases- how do you think they apply and which ones are the most likely to have triggered the “policy”.

Why do you suppose the Trib-Herald didn’t make the connection here?

If the DPW there is only half as corrupt as ours it’s no wonder they don’t want to talk or let people tape their activities especially when an innocuous video like Dave’s can uncover potential corruption.