WILL HB2652 KILL AKAKU?
And now for a subject near and dear to all of our hearts: public access cable.
For decades now, we’ve cracked jokes about the production values of public access shows and snickered at the off-the-wall subject matters of various public-produced programs. And yes, I once saw (on a California public access cable channel) an episode of Star Trek acted out using sock puppets. It was epic.
In later years, though, gentle ribbing has given way to outright political destruction. Or, at least, a severe tightening of funding. I’m speaking about Akaku, Maui’s public access programming outfit. Executives there say the channel may die off entirely if a new bill becomes law.
I’m writing of HB2652. Introduced by Robert N. Herkes (D-Hawaii Island) a few weeks ago, the bill would chop up Public, Educational and Governmental (PEG) funding into three separate entities. Oceanic Time Warner Cable loves the bill, and company President Bob Barlow testified on Jan. 30 that the bill will “help to ensure greater transparency, accountability and accessibility in PEG operations.”
But according to Akaku president and CEO Jay April, HB2652 would starve the neighbor island public access channels to death.
“The bottom line is that it is a very bad idea to split Hawaii’s marketplace of ideas into thirds,” April said in written testimony he submitted to the Consumer Protection and Commerce Committee on Jan 31. “It will diminish the open exchange of ideas between government and it’s [sic] people, stifle the voices we all need to hear and damage local electronic democracy.”
The state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs agreed with April and opposes the bill.
“The bill, as currently written, will adversely impact the neighbor islands, with Kauai and the island of Hawaii suffering the most,” said Donn Yabusaki, the DCCA’s cable television administrator in written testimony. “For the neighbor island franchise areas, splitting the current level of access funding three ways would severely limit the capabilities of access organizations.”
In any case, on Feb. 6 Herkes’ committee deferred the bill until Feb. 13. What happens then is anybody’s guess.
* * *
COUNTY SAYS MAUI PD NEVER HARASSED ANYONE
Had an interesting chat last week with County of Maui Communications Director Rod Antone. We talked about a number of things going on with Maui and the current mayoral administration, but soon our talk got around to a recent write-up in this space on the Occupy Monsanto protests in Kihei that took place the last week in January.
“Do you really think the county cares about the protests?” Antone asked me.
According to Antone, Maui police officers were not “harassing” the protesters, who were standing on Pi’ilani Highway in front of Monsanto’s Kihei headquarters, wearing masks and waving signs opposing the company’s extensive genetically modified organism (GMO) research and development.
“All the officers said was not to stand too close to the highway and not to camp there,” Antone said. “Otherwise, they can stand in the hot Kihei sun all they want.”
As far as the video footage shot by the protesters showing a Maui police officer telling them they needed a permit, Antone said that was for a porta-potty. “But they can’t camp there, so they couldn’t get a permit for one,” he said.
Given that we’re entering a political season, in which candidates and their supporters often stand on roadsides, mere inches away from speeding cars while waving signs at passing motorists, it’ll be interesting to see if Maui PD takes their safety into the same consideration as the Monsanto protests.
But Antone also added that some of the protesters visited one of Mayor Alan Arakawa’s County on Your Corner meetings, which was held on Jan. 28 at the Queen Kaahumanu Center. Antone said they met with mayor and Public Works Director David Goode, among others. Antone also said that a few of the protesters also visited Arakawa’s office (see photo), though he said that he didn’t know what to make of the gentleman on the right (who’s also holding a copy of MauiTime).
“See that plastic thing?” Antone asked. “What is that?”
Well, I’d say it’s pretty obvious what it is: it’s an octopus made of trash bags. And if you can think of a better way to gain publicity for your cause than by draping an octopus made of trash bags around your head and shoulders, I’d like to hear it.
* * *
SPEAKING OF OCCUPY…
Looks like the folks at Occupy Wall Street-Maui (which is pretty much the same thing as Occupy Monsanto, I think) are really going to ratchet up the heat on the county. Their little Occupy protest at the State Office Building in Wailuku may not have gone so hot (they left after a state official asked them politely to leave) but now they’re pumped.
I know this because I just got an email from them saying they just “opened a new front in the campaign to help local homeowners threatened with illegal foreclosures.”
So what’s it this time? Will activists rush the bank mortgage offices? Are they going to post personal details of bankers online? How about an old-fashioned sit-in in the county council chambers itself?
“A letter released today to the Bureau of Conveyances, Hawaii’s sole registry of titles and mortgages, draws their attention to the unearthing of widespread title and mortgage fraud through forensic audits of property registries on the mainland,” wrote Linda Green of the Occupy organization’s “Foreclosure Working Group” on Feb. 4. “With hard data on the state of titles and mortgages in the state, the State would be equipped to take effective action helping homeowners faced with fraudulent claims against their property… The audit requested by the Occupy Wall Street-Maui group is the basis and beginning of the process, and perhaps may offer a glimmer of hope for many faced with losing their homes.”
Damn straight! That’ll show–wait, they’re asking for an audit? So kids are getting pepper-sprayed and clubbed in Oakland and Detroit, but here on Maui we’ll settle for an audit.
Now does everyone understand why that one guy made an octopus out of trash bags?