A couple weeks ago, the Maui Police Department paid a visit to our offices. Given MTW’s reputation for ticking people off in a, shall we say, freewheeling fashion, this probably isn’t a huge surprise.
Of course, since we’re giving you this information in LC Watch, you can guess the source of the visit.
The background: A half-hour or so before Maui’s finest came rapping at our door, Publisher Tommy Russo and I took a trip over to the LC’s Wailuku digs. It was a professional call; Tommy’s aim was to speak with Director Frank Silva about complaints he’d been getting from advertisers (I was there to observe and report). Some of the small businesses that advertise in this very publication felt they were being cited by the LC for things—often very small, nitpicky things—that they said in their ads. They’re not the only ones getting hassled obviously, but there does seem to be a disturbing pattern. This is, sadly, nothing new.
So. We went down to ask Silva what was going on—was the LC deliberately targeting our advertisers? And if so, you know, cut it out. He wasn’t in, so we left a message, curt but far from over the line, and walked out.
Thirty minutes later, your tax dollars were hard at work paying Maui PD officers to stand outside our door and ponder, no doubt, what the hell they were doing there. (They left with no arrests made.)
Let’s be clear: it is not a crime to visit a public agency and leave a message, even an angry one, for its director. That’s called civic involvement, and it’s every citizen’s right (some might say duty).
The problem is, we ask questions the LC doesn’t like. And I guess we got our answer.