Tag Archives: Fire Chief Manny Neves

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell on a Rampage

Woman Criticizes Honolulu’s Government, Has Her Protest Signs Bulldozed

Nick SibillaNick Sibilla, Contributor   

How people respond to criticism can reveal a lot about their character.  Some might try to debate or reason with those they disagree with.  Others prefer to ignore critics.  City officials in Honolulu take a different approach: They use a bulldozer.

Choon James is a successful real estate broker with over two decades of experience in Hawaii.  But the city of Honolulu is seeking to seize property she’s owned for almost a decade to build what she calls a “super-sized” fire station in rural Hauula.

Since January 2010, she has put up signs to protest Honolulu’s use of eminent domain.  These signs declare “Eminent Domain Abuse: Who’s Next?” and “YouTube Eminent Domain Abuse—Hawaii.”  For more than three years these signs have been up without any incident.

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But now the city is showing a callous disregard for Choon’s freedom of speech.  Back in May, Honolulu seized two of her eminent domain protest signs.  Without her consent, city employees went onto the property and seized and impounded her signs before damaging them. Even worse, the city slapped her with a notice for trespassing, for property she is trying to defend in court.

After these signs were torn down, Choon placed three more signs there.  These lasted just a few months before the city once again seized the signs.  This time, Honolulu was much more dramatic.  On October 18, city workers, backed by police officers, squad cars and a bulldozer, came by and literally bulldozed those protest signs.

The city’s actions show a shameful lack of respect for the First and Fourth Amendments.  Citizens have a right to protest government actions.  The First Amendment was enacted precisely to protect citizens who criticize the government from retaliation.  Lawsuits challenging Honolulu’s unreasonable seizures and chilling attacks on free speech are now pending in federal court.

Unfortunately, Honolulu is not alone in trying to silence critics who question eminent domain.  The Institute for Justice has represented citizens in St. Louis, Mo., Norfolk, Va., Tennessee, and Texas who protested abusive property seizures and faced censorship.  Out of these four cases, IJ successfully defended free speech in three cases, while the fourth is currently in litigation.

After 24 of his buildings were taken by St. Louis, Jim Roos painted a giant mural on a building he owned advocating “End Eminent Domain Abuse.”  But St. Louis labeled the mural an “illegal sign” and wanted to force Jim to remove the sign (and stifle his right to protest) or face code violations.  He teamed up with the Institute for Justice and sued the city.  In a major win for the First Amendment, in July 2011, the Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Jim and allowed the mural to stay up.

In a similar vein, IJ has defended grassroots activists from a frivolous defamation lawsuit and protected an investigative journalist’s right to free speech from a vindictive private developer.

More recently, the Institute for Justice is suing the city of Norfolk for trying to squash a small business owner’s eminent domain protest sign.  The Central Radio Company, a repair shop, has been in Norfolk for almost eight decades.  But Norfolk had plans to seize the property with eminent domain for a private redevelopment project.

To protest, owner Bob Wilson displayed a huge banner on-site.  The city responded by telling Bob he had to take down the sign or face fines of up to $1,000 per day.  Fortunately, the Virginia Supreme Court unanimously struck down the city’s attempt to seize Bob’s land; his free speech case is still infederal court.

As the cases make clear, courts routinely respect Americans’ First Amendment rights.  Honolulu should do the same.

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Postscript: Mayor Kirk Caldwell also shut down the owner’s business with Reynolds Recycling on October 21, 2013. Public push back forced the Mayor to cut a deal with Reynolds to return to the adjacent city Lot 64 on December 20, 2013. The Caldwell Administration did not disclose that it is on a month-to-month lease. Should the Mayor gets permission from the courts to condemn, the last two commercial zone lots will be decimated and recycling business  gone.
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The only valid reason for Mayor Kirk Caldwell to shove this extra expensive fire station onto this small rural community is he owes a plum building contract to a donor!  The Mayor  wants to build a huge Kapolei City station in the small rural town of Hauula.
The Mayor can be contacted at mayor@honolulu.gov    808 768-4141
City Council Chair Ernie Martin  at emartin@honolulu.gov   808 768-5002
Choon James at ChoonJamesHawaii@gmail.com   808 293 9111

Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s “Town Hall Meeting” in Kahuku – a Dog and Pony Show

Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s “Town Hall Meeting” in Kahuku – a Dog and Pony Show:

First, the Press Releases about Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s “town hall meeting” from his office are dispersed to the various social media outlets:

City Hall is coming to Ko’olauloa Nov. 19 when the mayor brings his cabinet to Kahuku High School cafeteria for a town hall meeting.

The event will run from 6 to 8 p.m. and is designed to address area residents’ concerns about road and sewer infrastructure, bus service, park maintenance and events, efforts to tackle the homelessness problem and more. 

Mayor Kirk Caldwell and his department directors also will report on the administration’s priorities. The public is encouraged to participate and make suggestions.”

Jesse Broder Van Dyke

Communications Director

Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell

Direct: (808) 768-6928

Cell: (808) 489-0341

jbrodervandyke@honolulu.gov

The Kahuku Town Hall Meeting was met with a protest outside the Kahuku High School by citizens against Caldwell’s agenda to cement the Country. But the Mayor’s televised show did not disclose any of that.

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About half of those in attendance were his cabinet members and city employees. The first four rows of the Kahuku High School cafeteria were occupied by his entourage who provided robust applause for the Mayor. The middle section of the cafeteria was occupied by more of the Mayor’s entourage, with some refreshments spread out on the table.

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There were approximately 50 city employees. Others in attendance were recognized community activists and citizens. There was less than a handful of known Caldwell supporters.  Steven Wheelwright  – Brigham Young University-Hawaii President – and his wife were there for a short period. David Lewis, BYU-H Vice-President of Construction was a lone figure with his baby blue Envision Laie t-shirt. There were also policemen and several plainclothes policemen.

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The Mayor used all the right words and pushed the right political buttons using his “Waipahu roots”, peppered with some pidginspeak, and he didn’t forget to remind the audience of his “compassion”.  But his showmanship did not fool the astute citizens.

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Marisa Yamane and Joe Moore from Khon 2 TV  reported a more accurate description of what happened at the Town Hall meeting with Mayor Kirk Caldwell.

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The meeting was tightly-controlled. There was no direct questioning. Those who wanted to “participate” had to write their questions on a piece of paper to be submitted to the mayor.  They requested name, address and email address. There was no opportunity for clarifications or rebuttal during this promotional tour that was on the city’s dime.

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Some found the music -“All Hawaii Stand Together” written by Uncle Liko Martin – used by Caldwell insulting and ironic. Mayor Kirk Caldwell has not met a development he does not like. Hawaiians are up in arms against the disappearance of their inheritances, aina, values and culture. Ko’olauloa is one of very last regions that has some semblance of local lifestyle.

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Hawaii News Now Rick Daysog‘s reporting lacked objectivity, including the following:

“The mayor’s town hall meeting at Kahuku High School on Tuesday was well attended by groups both in favor and opposed to the Koolau Loa Sustainability plan.”

Reality: The mayor’s entourage made up half the attendance. There were less than a dozen Caldwell supporters. The rest were residents and Defend Oahu Coalition members who wanted an honest discussion, that never took place.

DSC08984Daysod interviewed former state lawmaker Bob Nakata who said, ” he supported the city’s transit-oriented development plan because it promised to confine large-scale construction to urban areas. But now he’s changing his mind.

“This Malaekahana development will make Laie and Kahuku one big urban area,” said Nakata.

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Here are some grassroots reactions to the “Town Hall Meeting”:

Hauula Resident Joshua Noga: Mayor Town Hall Meeting More of a Campaign Stop. Last night Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell came to Kahuku High School Cafeteria along with forty of his staff to meet with Ko’olau Loa residents in what he called a town hall meeting. The meeting was anything but a town hall meeting, but resembled more of a stop on his campaign trail. I have never been to a town hall meeting where the public were not able to express their concerns directly but was instead told to write their questions down on a piece of paper. The questions were hand picked by the mayor as to which he would answer and were then read aloud by a member of his staff.

Community members present watched in amazement as the mayor thumbed through questions, his face turned red with embarrassment as he looked for safe questions to answer. Let it be known that Mayor Caldwell supports an urbanization plan that looks to amend the Oahu General Plan, a plan that would violate native Hawaiian tenant rights of kuleana landholders, rezone state-districted Ag lands in Malaekahana, and rezone Laie as resort community like Waikiki. Let also be known that the Ko’olau Loa Hawaiian Civic, Waikane-Waiahole Community Association, Kaaawa Community Association, Friends of Kahana, Punalu’u Community, Hauula Community Association,  and neighborhood boards from Manoa to Ewa oppose the urbanization of Ko’olau Loa currently known as Bill 47. Keep the Country COUNTRY!
Joshua Noga- Hauula, HI
Ko’olau Loa Hawaiian Civic Club

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Ka’a’awa Resident:  Andrea Peatmoss:

“The ‘presentations’ section was too long. Since our sole 2 lane Kamehameha Highway is a State road, the long pothole story was too long; and we won’t have much to do with Rail and only Laie has a sewer, ( still on federal consent decree that taxpayers now pay for it sounded like, but you couldn’t ask questions until after), a lot was largely irrelevant to most people.

Mayor Caldwell whizzed thru one Envision Laie question -again only a written question – and said nobody will be happy with the results, more or less. He focused on a Kahuku has such close ohana tradition plantation camp but too many generations in a house issue to Then you were to talk to the individual staff afterwards- which was difficult physically to stand around to do – and as you waited you couldn’t really hear if the person before you had just asked the same question of that person. 

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 Kahuku Plantation Camp Robert Trotter: “When I approached our honorable mayor last night, he pulled his hand back, instead of out to shake my hand. First politican to not want to make the traditional move. I must have the look of a destitute homeless person. Besides the five or six uniformed police officers, there were at least seven or more very large undercover police roaming the meeting, giving poeple the look. There were more staff and caldwells people than others. he answered questions written down, but maybe 10 questions out of an easy 150 we the people delivered. A beauitful dog and pony show, but the dog was showing many large teeth.”

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Kahuku Resident: Angela Huntemer:  Thank you for filling us in on that – I couldn’t go and was wondering what happened. The week before he took direct questions from the audience at Waialua – because there were hardlly any members of the public. Glad I didn’t have to be the one to find easy questions for the mayor… that would have been difficult. Imua!

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Hau’ula Resident Joshua Noga: Wow that makes this even more crazy. Caldwell and his staff should be embarrassed by that showing. To not even allow community members to express their concerns directly defeats the very purpose of having a town hall meeting. That’s why we have to call him out on his bs and hold him accountable.

We got white washed, and shoved under the pavement below the bus. Two topics bus, and pavement he spent some time on. Would have helped if the told the true factor, paving oahu the going rate in construction cost million dollars a mile.

Ka’a’awa Resident Andrea Peatmoss: I did not care for the format of it. The questions section needed to be open to all to ask and be answered instead of afterwards. Public content safe this way. No mention of the Ethics Commission investigation I thought he might defend himself or staff regarding either.

As for condemnation via eminent domain question, it was “absolutely the last resort ” he said. However, knowing how Choon James‘ property is being affected and Hau’ula lost its recycling center via eminent domain for a NEW fire station, I wonder. If we have $20 million, we have $20 million. Allocation is a City decision, right?

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Now we have no recycle center and a temporary golf course owned by private (foreign ) investor in escrow and existing trauma in Kahuku Village of evictions. Kahuku had an ‘affordable’ housing plan years ago that never got built. Where did that money go? Between that project and the 550 residential units not built WITHIN Laie that have been approved for years but not built, the lack of sufficient dormitory housing on campus for students and the illegal Vacation Rentals by Owners (hundreds near Laie), we have a housing shortage that could be solved without destroying the scenic resources of the Moku and its irreplaceable wild coastline for URBAN SPRAWL. What cannot be solved without huge H-4 type money investment for taxpayers, way over the cost of Rail, is that extra traffic on the sole eroding 2 lane Kamehameha Highway that Turtle Bay Expansion and Envision Laie alone cause. Double the population. Add to that the expected increase in tourists to 7,500,000 (10,500 a day out here in Ko’olauLoa) and the thousands of already zoned vacant residential lands within the Moku. Do the math! 

Andrea Peatmoss I did not care for the format of it. The questions section needed to be open to all to ask and be answered instead of afterwards. Public content safe this way. No mention of the Ethics Commission investigation I thought he might defend himself or staff regarding either. As for condemnation via eminent domain question, it was “absolutely the last resort ” he said.

However, knowing how Choon James’ property is being affected and Hau’ula lost its recycling center via eminent domain for a NEW fire station, I wonder. If we have $20 million , we have $20 million. Allocation is a City decision, right? Now we have no recycle center and a temporary golf course owned by private (foreign ) investor in escrow and existing trauma in Kahuku Village of evictions. Kahuku had an ‘affordable’ housing plan years ago that never got built. Where did that money go? Between that project and the 550 residential units not built WITHIN Laie that have been approved for years but not built, the lack of sufficient dormitory housing on campus for students and the illegal Vacation Rentals by Owners (hundreds near Laie), we have a housing shortage that could be solved without destroying the scenic resources of the Moku and its irreplaceable wild coastline for URBAN SPRAWL. What cannot be solved without huge H-4 type money investment for taxpayers, way over the cost of Rail, is that extra traffic on the sole eroding 2 lane Kamehameha Highway that Turtle Bay Expansion and Envision Laie alone cause. Double the population. Add to that the expected increase in tourists to 7,500,000 (10,500 a day out here in Ko’olauLoa) and the thousands of already zoned vacant residential lands within the Moku. Do the math!

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Hau’ula kupuna Marvin Iseke: ” It was a waste of time. There was no open mike. This was no town hall meeting; it was his TV show. The Mayor was hiding behind his directors. The mayor talked about things we don’t need to hear and ran away from the important things we wanted to talk about.”

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An observer from Kauai said: ” You guys are too nice.”

Ko’olau Loa residents in good faith took the time to attend the Mayor’s Town Hall Meeting to participate and engage in a thoughtful dialogue. They wanted meaty civic participation with the Mayor and offered suggestions. What they received was the Mayor’s dog and pony show that provided HIM two hours of free TV air time for HIS perpetual campaign trail.

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