Wednesday, February 18, 2009


GONE TO THE DOGS: The absurdist and wise guy existentialist in us sometimes begs to ask “if a tree doesn’t fall in the forest, does it not make a sound?”..

But somehow that’s a pretty appropriate conundrum for the Kaua`i public access outlet Ho`ike Community TV where, until we called today, they hadn’t received any calls regarding the fact that they’d been off the air since last week.

Some might think it’s because no one noticed but when it comes to Ho`ike it’s just that no one bothered because they knew they would be simply wasting their time complaining.

We spent a three day weekend vainly searching for last Wednesday’s county council meeting which for some reason obviously related to incompetence is usually shown for the first time on Friday nights- an unchanged remnant from the days when council meetings were held on Thursdays

Today, after much badgering for information on the stated “technical problems” the most we could get was that they are attempting to get things going again through their technical people- who just happen to be in Texas- and that they will play both last week’s and this weeks meetings when- or if- they ever fix it.

In their usual tight lipped way they refused to say exactly what the problem was, when it might be fixed or whether the last council meeting would even be cablecast more than once- or whether there would be any kind of announcement of it’s scheduling.

They refused to notify us when it does get on so that we could notify others.

The saga of ineptitude at Ho`ike has begged for exposure for many years, even since we abandoned our Parxist Conspiracy Newsmagazine program after seven years when we were assaulted by a 500 pound employee for trying to tape a public Ho`ike Board of Directors meeting and banned from the premises.

Most other access advocates and producers have simply given up on getting any original programming produced or even on the air other than the usual fare of religious programming and ads for non-profits organizations.

The board was taken over by the evangelical church in the 90’s and the public was shut out of public access governance, as we covered in news stories at the time.

While the access organization on Maui, Akaku, is widely acclaimed feeds their programming on-line and is as high tech, open and accessible as any in the country- all on a budget similar to Ho`ike- access on Kaua`i is virtually unused, many say by design.

While the rest of the video world has gone digital, Ho`ike still reportedly routinely rejects material on DVDs and requires antiquated VHS tapes to be submitted if one wants to get their self produced program on the air.

And don’t try to ask why because the general manage J Robertson is widely known as a totally unreachable figure who, if you do somehow get through to him by accident, will lie to your face until you catch him at it... and sometimes even afterward.

So why does this poster child for ineptitude continue to be the ones that tape- and we mean tape- the council meetings?

Well guess what- the council and administration like it that way just fine thank you since it’s much less likely that you’ll get to see the council meetings if they are either unavailable when they are supposed to be on (as they often are), scheduled at different arbitrarily selected and unannounced-in-advance times or otherwise stale by the time they get on the air.

Council meeting should and could- with the flip of a switch and at zero cost- be streamed live on-line and even cablecast live according to testimony routinely given at council meetings for years by Professor Ed Coll, an information technology specialist at Kaua`i Community College, as well as other producers and technically adept videographers .

But while promises are made by the council yearly to get it together nothing ever happens. Not only won’t they act, they are content to allow the administration to actually oversee the Ho`ike contract to produce tapes of the meetings- a contract that was awarded when it was written specifically for them.

Even though the state sunshine law requires that recordings of meetings be maintained as public records and the council is required to maintain their own records, the recordings of the meetings are the kuleana of the mayor’s office and to actually get copies of them one has to go to- you guessed it- Ho`ike.

And if the lack of public outrage- as evidenced by the fact that no one even complained that the meeting hadn’t aired at its scheduled times until we called today- is any indication things will stay the way they are for some time to come.

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