First Live Television Broadcast from Molokai

Danny Mateo hosts Akaku’s post election coverage.

By Catherine Cluett

Molokai community members looked on with wonder as County Council Chair and Molokai Representative Danny Mateo tested the modern marvels of internet video conferencing. The technology allowed him to have an interisland talk story session from Home Pumehana with Akaku newscasters last Saturday evening. The event, part of Akaku’s Primary Election coverage, marked Molokai’s first live television broadcast.

“Not being at the polls gives me the opportunity to stay tuned and focused on the needs of the people of Molokai,” said Mateo during the televised address. He said he was glad to be unopposed in this year’s election.

The Akaku election coverage honed in on Molokai’s push for condemnation of Molokai Ranch property, showing clips from a trip that ten Molokai residents made to Maui last Thursday. The group gave persuasive input during a County Council session where lawmakers deliberated the possibility of exercising eminent domain on Ranch land.

“It was important to have the people of Molokai show up and participate in the government process,” Mateo said. “The presence of Molokai was definitely felt.”

A computer program called Skype was used to stream the live conversation over the internet. The signal was received at Akaku headquarters in Kahului, Maui, where it was then broadcasted live on public access TV.

Molokai resident Artice Swingle and Dispatch Editor Todd Yamashita joined Mateo for a second live session halfway through the program. This time they talked with Senator Kalani English, who spoke live from the Akaku station headquarters.

Swingle expressed her thanks to both English and Mateo for being accessible to the people of Molokai. She also described escalating problems related with the Molokai Ranch shutdown including exorbitant water rates.

Yamashita sent a mahalo to Akaku for providing a voice to the Molokai community. “We’re a small community but we have a lot to say,” he explained.

He also commented on the tough economic times that Molokai is facing. “But we have a lot of resilience,” he said. “I have faith in the community and in our lawmakers.”

“What do you think about Molokai’s current situation?” Yamashita asked Senator English. “What do you think about eminent domain?”

English responded with a warm thank you to Molokai and praise for the way its people worked together after the closing of Molokai Ranch.

“It’s up to you to come together and decide what you want for the island. I’m here to support you,” he said. “Molokai is poised to be the best it can be.”

“Eminent domain is the process of taking over land for the greater public good,” he continued. “It’s important to keep the options open. We’re looking at policy, and options like renewable energy. I support Molokai 100 percent,” English said.

Molokai’s Akaku director Josh Pastrana and coordinator Dan Emhof both expressed pride in participating in Molokai’s first live broadcast. “It feels good to be part of something that’s dedicated to moving Molokai forward,” Emhof said.

They hope more of the Molokai community will participate in similar coverage of the General Elections on Nov. 4.

Akaku is a county-wide public access television station that operates three channels: 52, 53, and 54. The state has mandated that the station take part in a bid process that has been said might jeopardize its founding principles: providing a voice to the community.

There will be a public meeting on Molokai on Oct. 7 held by the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs. To be discussed: rules of the bidding process which could allow for an entity other than Akaku to takeover public access. To sign a petition to support the continuation of Akaku or for more information about the station, contact Pastrana or Emhof at 553-3455.

From the Akaku Molokai staff: A big mahalo nui loa to Danny Mateo for hosting our event for the community. Also a big mahalo to Akaku Maui for their ongoing efforts to find new ways to give Molokai a voice to express our concerns and ideas to Maui County.

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