Thursday, March 12, 2009


ONE SICK PUPPY: A couple of week’s back we twice reported on an incident on the Big Island (BI) where blogger Damon Tucker and other bloggers were “blackballed” by BI Department of Public Works spokesperson Noelani Whittington who, according to the Hawai`i Tribune Herald.(HTH) had written a detailed memo to department personnel telling them not to talk to “citizen journalists” and to stop bloggers from filming road crews.

But the HTH article apparently didn’t do the memo justice.

Blogger Aaron Stene, another of the blackballed bloggers named in the memo, made a request for and received a copy of the actual memo and it’s pretty astounding

The memo reveals a type of paranoia and need for control that is the product of a sick mind and one would think that just the fact that she wrote it down and distributed it would make her position with the county in jeopardy..

Not that she needs to worry about employment- a mind like that would be a valuable asset working in the nuclear power or GMO industry, perhaps defending “clean coal” or something.

Whittington, who continued to BS the reporter after being caught, apparently couldn’t even keep straight which BI bloggers she wanted to ban, even including poor Doug White at Poinography who lives in Honolulu.

The BI bloggers as a group are nothing if not for the most part generally timid and submissive and one who identifies himself only as “bknykanaka”.talked to her and reports

Ok, so the story according to Noelani is that this directive was more of a proposal- that was written in haste and she apologized for it. Although she kind of avoided the question as to WHY it was written. Apparently, it was written in November but died and was never enforced. Which would make sense because it wasn’t approved by anyone higher than Noelani. The media policy was shuffled through department heads- but was never formally adopted.

But what “makes sense” is that Whittington is good at snow jobs because she still holds her job and no one on the BI seems inclined to push too hard to change that.

You can read Damon’s two responses as well as Aaron’s along with Whittington’s rant which is posted below.

Tucker’s rants are quite amusing albeit probably unintentionally- poor beleaguered Damon just wants everyone to love him but keeps finding out how unfettered distribution of information is the bane of bureaucrats like Whittington.

Whittington’s rant is priceless and seemingly everyone on the Big Island knows that the policy is still in effect despite the fact that, as we mentioned in our report, former journalist blogger Hunter Bishop who is now the new Mayor Billy Kanoi’s Pubic Information officer claims it isn’t. He promised an investigation as we recall which doesn’t seem to be forthcoming.

Here’s the policy.

Policy for procedures for Citizen Journalists
Avoid a citizen journalist?
Citizen journalists are a new breed of bloggers who use the internet to express their opinions about DPW projects. They are not journalists. They write what they think
Blogging reaches 120 million viewers daily.
These individuals are Aaron Stene and Damon Tucker. Their e-mail addresses are or
Their blogs are: Kona blog, Poinography, Puna Web, and Hawaii Blog
How do we identify them?
They contact us by e-mail using their e-mail addresses. Rarely do they call us.
They never identify or consider themselves as a “citizen journalist.”
Procedure to handle a Citizen Journalist
1. Stop. Do not give out information.
2. Refer their e-mail inquiries to the Public Information office.
3. Insert this message, “please contact our public information office at 557-6437 or by e-mail at”
They will ask for information about:
Palani Road-why the delays? Mamalahoa by-pass-the Coupe case, opening the entire by-pass, Grace Church moving the utility poles and why the delay?
Traffic in Puna, anything about Puna and DPW
Issued: November 16, 2008
Policy and Procedure for Photographers or Videographers on County property
Procedure for filming at base yards and at road projects
1) Stop them.
2) Ask them to follow you to your office, or to your car
3) Call 557-6437. Public Information will take over from here.
Who should know about this procedure? Supervisors and front desk staff,
1) Photographers or Videographers must be accompanied by someone from the Public Information office.
2) Public Information will check their credentials and verify their assignment with their respective boss.
3) Public Information limits their access to a specific area and respects the privacy of the staff not to be filmed
4) The photographers are: Baron Sekiya for West Hawaii Today; Will from the Tribune Herald-, Daryl Lee, free-lancer for KITV, KGMB, KHNL, KHON, and The Honolulu Advertiser. Daryl also films for DPW on assignment.
5) NOT PERMITTED is Dave Corrigan for Big Island Video
Internal procedure:
Public Information will:
1) ask the photographer to stop because of privacy issues with staff
2) that prior arrangements are made
3) Inform the division chief of the situation then the DPW director
Issued November 16, 2008
Videographers have a new blog, big island video Dave Corrigan is the principal behind this operation.
Remember that media lives for a crisis. They will want to keep it going. Try to make it a one-day story. A crisis throws Public Works into an arena of public opinion, where bloggers, citizen journalists, (referred as social media) and traditional media are the judge and the jury, influencing the readers to form opinions.
Procedure to maintain the crisis:
1. If you or a staff receives the call.
a. Take the information; name affiliation, (who are you with?) best number to call you.
b. What is your deadline?
c. Citizen journalists will not identify themselves. In this case, take their name and e-mail address.
2. Staff refers the message immediately to their division chief.
3. Division chief calls the Director and Public Information Officer (PIO) and provides details of the situation.
4. Division chiefs, (if more than one division is involved) the DPW director, or other department directors, PIO and individuals involved meet to get the facts, discuss situation and agree on the best course of action.
a. Anyone implicated in the situation are not to speak to the media.
5. PIO prepares a statement for the media.
6. A memo may be generated to the staff to inform them of the situation
What’s at stake? Jobs and the reputations of good people are at stake and at the very worst if the situation continues to fester, public opinion could ask for them to step down from their positions. It is humiliating for anyone to read in the paper, that punishment should include firing the individuals. We can at least try to minimize some of the damage by acting swiftly.
Negative behaviors that won’t help Public Works — Arrogance, no concern. ●Blame shifting ●Inconsistency ●Little or no preparation ● minimize the impact. ●No admission of responsibility
Establish trust
Provide advance information.
Ask for input from staff and those involved
Listen carefully.
Demonstrate that you’ve heard, i.e., change your plans.
Stay in touch.
Speak in plain language.
Bring involuntary participants into the decision-making process.
Make public acknowledgement and take responsibility.
Illustrate your credibility:
1. Prepare to talk openly.
2. Reveal what the public should know, even if they don’t ask.
3. Explain problems and changes quickly.
4. Answer all questions, even those that victims wouldn’t think to ask.
5. Cooperate with the traditional and social media, recognizing that employees and the general public have a higher priority.
6. Respect and seek to work with employees and opponents.
The Bottom Line: Act Fast
It is often better to act quickly and make mistakes than to fail to act until it’s too late or the action becomes a meaningless gesture. In fact, solving problems and “winning” in crisis situations is a function of speed, of decision making, of action, of reaction, of collaboration, of swiftly applied common sense. Timidity and hesitation are the parents of defeat.
Far more is lost by refusing to speak to the media than is risked by doing so.
A vacuum of information breeds media hostility and public loss of confidence.
The public trust is affected; and something must be done to remediate the situation.
Communicate in ways that meet community standards
Don’t discuss cause or fault.


Poppa Zao said...

Any suggestions for these bloggers if they want to get tough?

Andy Parx said...

I would start by finding out a little about Ms Whittington herself and her background- google her, ask her co-workers about her. Getting an answer to why she felt the need to do it would be good for starters.

It seems she’s a pretty good schmoozer and a little less taking her word for granted couldn’t hurt. I wouldn’t take the line of “it was never implemented and isn’t in effect” at face value and test it a few times.