Budget shortfall results in cancellation of TV coverage for Molokai Planning Commission

Earlier this month, Maui County Mayor Charmaine Tavares announced that the Fiscal Year 2011 budget proposal has a $53 million gap for county programs and services.

According to Mayor Tavares, the total county revenue available for FY 2011 is $530 million, which is 6 percent or $33.4 million less than the allotted budget this fiscal year. This projected revenue will provide funding for an operating budget of $461 million and a capital program budget of $83 million.

One service that has been cut from the budget is television coverage of county board and commission meetings. Although coverage of Maui County Council meetings will not be affected, various boards and commissions will not receive coverage, including the Molokai Planning Commission.

A county contract paid for coverage of about 10 meetings per month and required that the videos be available online as well as on television. This contract, which would have run through the end of the fiscal year, included meetings on Lanai and Molokai.

The Molokai Planning Commission meets twice a month and is the only political representation for the people of Molokai that actually meets on Molokai.

Akaku's coverage of the Molokai Planning Commission has ceased until funding from the county can be obtained.

Akaku Maui Community Television had placed a bid of $70,000 to cover 65 meetings during the year. Yourwebcast.com out of Kihei, Maui had won the contract with a bid of $54,750 to cover 120 meetings a year before the county canceled the contract. Akaku had filed a protest of the contract award, stating that the county had not followed its own rules. The county did finally agree that the winning bid did not meet all the requirements.

Daniel Emhof, director of Akaku’s Molokai Media Center, believes that this decision hurts Molokai. Emhof said the Molokai Planning Commission represents “our most grassroots level of governance.” Emhof added that covering the planning commission meetings was the most important thing that Akaku did on Molokai. For many people who could not attend the noontime Wednesday meetings, the Akaku television coverage was the only way to follow the actions of the Molokai Planning Commission.

Said Emhof: “Any type of economic downfall should not take away from our right to democracy. The county does this at the cost of transparency in its decision-making process.


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