“Keep the Country Country” — from Kahaluu to Haleiwa — is an integral part of needed diversity and versatility for a thriving and sustainable Oahu. This cause has never sounded so pragmatic and urgent for this iconic region as the first shoe of gentrification drops in Kahuku. It’s not about the past; it’s about the future.”
Bloggers Have Same First Amendment Rights as Corporate Media!
A big Mahalo to Crystal L. Cox and Eugence Volokh for their valiant efforts to protect free press and free speech!
On January 17, 2014, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with Crystal L. Cox from Eureka, Montana who was sued by for defamation by Kevin Padrick, an attorney and his company – Obsidian Finance Group, LLC. Independent Blogger Cox had written posts exposing fraud, corruption, money-laundering and so forth.
I will quote the circumstances as reported in the Associated Press by journalist Jeff Barnard.
Crystal L. Cox, a blogger from Eureka, Mont., now living in Port Townshend, Wash., was sued for defamation by Bend attorney Kevin Padrick and his company, Obsidian Finance Group LLC, after she made posts on several websites she created accusing them of fraud, corruption, money-laundering and other illegal activities. The appeals court noted Padrick and Obsidian were hired by Summit Accommodators to advise them before filing for bankruptcy, and that the U.S. Bankruptcy Court later appointed Padrick trustee in the Chapter 11 case. The court added that Summit had defrauded investors in its real estate operations through a Ponzi scheme.
A jury in 2011 had awarded Padrick and Obsidian $2.5 million.
“Because Cox’s blog post addressed a matter of public concern, even assuming that Gertz is limited to such speech, the district court should have instructed the jury that it could not find Cox liable for defamation unless it found that she acted negligently,” judge Andrew D. Hurwitz wrote. “We hold that liability for a defamatory blog post involving a matter of public concern cannot be imposed without proof of fault and actual damages.”
The appeals court upheld rulings by the District Court that other posts by Cox were constitutionally protected opinion.
The Reports Committee for the Freedom of the Press also provided statements in Barnard’s article:
“Standards set by a 1974 U.S. Supreme Court ruling, Gertz v. Robert Welch Inc., apply to everyone, not just journalists.
It’s not a special right to the news media,” he said. “So it’s a good thing for bloggers and citizen journalists and others.”
Barnard further reported that:
Though Cox acted as her own attorney, UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh, who had written an article on the issue, learned of her case and offered to represent her in an appeal. Volokh said such cases usually end up settled without trial, and it was rare for one to reach the federal appeals court level.
“It makes clear that bloggers have the same First Amendment rights as professional journalists,” he said. “There had been similar precedents before concerning advocacy groups, other writers and book authors. This follows a fairly well established chain of precedents. I believe it is the first federal appeals court level ruling that applies to bloggers.”
This ruling should be a clear reminder to misguided attorneys, corporations, developers or those with affluence to cease the bullying or intimidating those who report the issues of the day.
Many concerned citizens have no choice but to create their own blogs and websites to level the playing field in this rampant media warfare.
The government has its plentiful PR specialists, paid for by taxpayers. Corporations and special interests have their own 24/7 PR consultants. The news media can be bought or controlled by big money or shut down. There are hired mercenaries who feel no qualms about spinning the facts or demonizing the messengers.
It’s not uncommon for the public to read articles or watch the TV news only to lament the irregularities or inadequate reporting. Oftentimes, critical issues are shunned or ignored by the news media because of entwined relationships.
Bloggers who have information or have intimate experiences and clear understanding of issues are critically needed now, more than ever.
What would MLK think of Honolulu’s Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s Persecution of the Poor and Civil & Free Speech Rights today?
Citizens who push back are exposed to the Mayor’s strong arm tactics of raiding free speech signs and bullying in the courts, courtesy of the city’s scarce fiscal resources.
Is Honolulu any better than the Montgomery, Alabama of 1955 where those in office abused their power and bulldozed over civil rights because they could?
Many are involved in the fight for justice and equality in Hawaii.
As MLK said,
” Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
A just cause needs many helping hands and willing hearts!
Every one is needed.
What would MLK say about the events of today in Honolulu?
The complexion and neighborhood of Kahuku Plantation Camp continue to change
Continental Pacific, LLC from Florida purchased available land acreages, including the Kahuku Plantation Camp, from the Estate of James Campbell in 2006.
The gentrification of Oahu’s rural Kahuku Plantation Camp continues. About thirty-one (31) local families are facing evicting. The Eugenio Family home , next to the Kahuku Methodist Church, along Kamehameha Highway has been razed as of yesterday.
Today, the Kahuku Plantation Village of about 70 houses is in turmoil. Many are facing eviction from homes they’ve stayed in their entire lives. The sweat and equity of these inter-generational laborers; along with their heritage and roots are tied to this plantation camp.
What is occurring at the Kahuku Village Plantation Camp has happened elsewhere and can be quickly summarized in one word — “Gentrification”.
In a nutshell, gentrification is the compressed evolution of massive development in communities that produces “winners” and “losers.”
It’s obvious the “losers” are usually the less affluent.
Gentrification chases the less affluent out of their communities due to the influx of new money and spending power. The less affluent are unable to pay rising rents, property taxes, real estate and the accelerating costs of living. Local businesses may lose their leases under competition or have to keep up with newly built commercial spaces with higher built-in expenses. Development will provide short-term construction jobs to some but what happens next?
Gentrification can alter lifestyle, values, and identity of communities when left unchecked. It inevitably creates disconnect and conflicts in communities. In Hawaii, it’s become a volatile struggle to protecting the local culture and values, environment, finite resources, and a chosen island lifestyle that many hold dear.
Fortunately, Oahu has had a visionary General Plan since the 1970s under the leadership of then Gov. George Ariyoshi. Oahu was divided into eight different geographic areas, delineating different land-use policies that include Primary urban center (Honolulu), Secondary urban center (Kapolei), Urban – fringe (Koolauloa Poko), and Rural designations (Koolau Loa, North Shore, and Waianae).
This Oahu General Plan is a careful compromise to preserve what we hold hear about Hawaii and to address development.
To prevent urban sprawl and inevitable gentrification, decision makers must respect and adhere to the existing Oahu General Plan. There has to be a line of demarcation to safeguard viability and diversity in land-use decisions for Oahu. If we don’t stand for something, we’ll fall for anything.
This Oahu General Plan that protects the Koolau Loa and the North Shore’s charm of old Hawaii, finite resources, food security, watersheds, open space, recreational spaces, view planes, rural lifestyle, and especially the stability of kamaaina residents, must continue to be the basis for objective ‘Big Picture’ land-use planning. Decision makers must not allow big developers to hijack and amend this document to fit their own agenda.
“Keep the Country Country” — from Kahaluu to Haleiwa — is an integral part of needed diversity and versatility for a thriving and sustainable Oahu. This cause has never sounded so pragmatic and urgent for this iconic region as the first shoe of gentrification drops in Kahuku. It’s not about the past; it’s about the future.
Two re-internment ceremonies were held at Kahuku Plantation Camp amidst continuing controversies
On January 11, 2014, a group of Kahuku Plantation Camp residents witnessed the re-internment of ‘iwi kupuna’ that were found in the grounds around the decades-old plantation homes. Landowner Continental Pacific, LLC handling of the ‘iwi kupuna’ cultural and other procedures had precipitated controversies.
At the ceremony, the Kahu distributed printed material of ” Aloha Aina Iwi Kupuna – Protocols – Ten Prayers ( oli, pule, mele )” to those in attendance. They were printed in English and Hawaiian Language versions. The Prayers include The Lord’s Prayers, an ole written by Edith Kanaka’ole, and the Queen’s Prayer ( Ke Aloha O Ka Haku) by Queen Lili’uokalani, as listed below:
The Queen’s Prayer
Your loving mercy
Is as high as Heaven
And your truth
I live in sorrow
You are my light
Your glory, my support
Behold not with malevolence
The sins of man
And so, o Lord
Protect us beneath your wings
And let peace be our portion
Now and forever more
The first ‘iwi kupuna’ was housed in a lauhala box and buried in about a three (3) feet deep setting; fresh sand was shoveled into the plot and a cement block was placed on top of it. There would be a marker later on. (This site is located behind the Rainbow Schools vicinity.)
The two governmental agencies charged to address and regulate ‘iwi kupuna’ issues are 1) The State Historic Preservation Division (SHPD) that falls in under the jurisdiction of the Department of Land and Natural Resources ( DLNR) and 2) The Oahu Island Burial Council (OIBC).
Kali Fermantez, a recently appointed member of the Oahu Island Burial Council was also in attendance. He spoke a few words at the first ceremony focusing on respect for the ‘iwi kupuna’ and forgiveness despite the ‘pilikia’ surrounding the Kahuku Plantation Camp.
We later asked permission to video tape our questions and his responses regarding procedures but he declined, explaining he was a very private person. His wish was respected.
After the first re-internment ceremony, Kahuku villagers walked to the next re-internment ceremony at Simplicio Caban’s home. ‘Iwi Kupuna’ human remains were found next to his house when water pipe trenching was being done.
Villagers gathered around in reverence as the second re-internment ceremony (abbreviated this time) was conducted.
Kawika Farm from SHPD held the second set of ‘iwi kupuna’ at the Saturday’s re-internment ceremonies.
This metal plate was provided by SHPD as a marker as well as a caution for future encounters with trenching in the area. The metal plate should help reveal the significance of this site, according to Farm from SHPD.
The fresh sand covered SHPD’s metal plate. They said it would be leveled and finalized later.
On this day, the dead may appear to be put to rest but the living are forced to fight on.
While the ceremonies were going on at the mauka side of the Kahuku Plantation Camp, golfers can be seen at the 122-acre Kahuku “Municipal” Golf Course on the makai side. The iconic beachfront course is also undergoing a watershed transformation; it’s on the verge of being sold to a Chinese investor. Residents worry that the course could be transformed into another resort-residential subdivision or an expensive golf course that the public can no longer afford.
In the meanwhile, the above Condominium Spatial Unit V- 21 has been cleared and footings can be seen for a new house. This spatial unit is located next to Kahuku Village Plantation Association President Glen Maghanoy’s former plantation home in the background.
Maghanoy‘s eviction was approved by Judge Hillary Gangnes. Professional movers completed the Maghanoy eviction during the Thanksgiving of 2013. Maghanoy was on the mainland visiting with his daughter and claimed that valuable items were stolen from him, including his guitars, tool box, about $3,000 cash (hidden inside the house), and his children’s deceased mom’s black pearl jewelry.
Because Maghanoy was not present at the execution of the Writ of Possession by the movers, he could not take pictures of the event. Neighbors had signed declaration of seeing the guitars being laid on the grounds; in fact, one of the movers was playing Maghanoy’s ukulele.
The day’s re-internment ceremonies focused on respect for the ‘iwi kupuna’ along with messages of forgiveness.
However, to many Kahuku Plantation Village residents, ‘forgiveness’ cannot be used as a convenient tool for Continental Pacific, LLC and its affiliates to absolve themselves of past wrongs and continuing pilikia that surround the camp.
About thirty-one (31) long time plantation camp families are in danger of being evicted. Glen Maghanoy and the Eugenio family were the first in line to be evicted.