AS A PERSON WHO WORKED IN NEWSPAPERS in the past, I learned that there are, most times, two sides to a story. So when I first got wind of this story, I didn’t want to just be the cheerleader advocating for one side or the other. That is the reader’s job. My job is to try to relay what I found out in talking to all sides.
The impartiality that I strive to achieve in my writing was tested with this investigation. It is not because no one wanted to talk. It is because one side – Brad Hayes and the Museum – has been nothing but generous with their take, while the Department of Transportation will not answer questions that I asked.
THE DEPARTMENT’S ANSWER to four questions I asked of it, regarding the museum and the Departments long-term plans for Kalaeloa Airport was scant at best, insulting to someone who was trying to get to the bottom line, at worst. My first foray into getting at the truth was when I asked Mr. Sakahara Spokesperson for the State of Hawaii Department of Transportation, four questions:
1. In my public records investigation on the matter, I turned up a Development Plan document on the DOT-A website for Kalaeloa Airport. In the plan, attached here it states that the museum was slated to be moved, and not evicted from the property. Could you comment on why the museum is now being evicted instead of, according to this public plan, relocated?
2. Has the development plan been updated? And if so, when was that promulgated and or put out to the public.
3. According to Mr. Hayes, he told me about how the museum was slated for a location that was allocated to someone else (National Guard). After discovering this, was there any effort to provide another location for the Museum?
4. Would the Dept. of Transportation like to elaborate on it’s long-term plans for Kalaeloa Airport?
Mr. Sakahara’s answer, a day or so later:
Hello Mr. Fichtman,
Thank you for the opportunity to respond to your inquiry. The HDOT Airports Division manages, operates and maintains the airports system in conformity with State and Federal laws, requirements, and rules as well as established policies and procedures to maintain a safe and efficient global air transportation organization.
The Hawaii Museum of Flying (HMF) has had a 30-day Revocable Permit at Kalaeloa Airport since August 2000 to use a 901 square foot building and an area of 1,522 square feet of land. The tenant was provided a letter of revocation and notice to vacate dated Sept. 17, 2019 stating concerns with general liability coverage, compliance with laws, and the considerable unauthorized area being occupied by unpermitted exhibition pieces, which adds up to approximately 173,718 square feet or 3.9 acres.
The HDOT Airports Division and its leadership has repeatedly requested the necessary documentation regarding insurance and fluid spill violations, however the HMF did not furnish the documentation until after the letter of revocation was received. HMF has been provided multiple opportunities to correct the unauthorized use of land outside its permitted area and it has failed to comply. HDOT leadership appreciates the military and its personnel and just like in the military rules and regulations must be followed. The notice to vacate stands, however HDOT has continued a dialogue with the HMF leadership on the matter.
All the best,
First off, he did not answer questions 1-4 with any effort,
but decided to go and just make the museum the issue. Secondly, this is the
type of answer that someone in the depths of the Attorney General’s office
handed to Tim and said, “here, say this”. It was proven that this is the
“departments answer to anything related to Kalaeloa and the museum” when, a
couple of days later, I got word someone else got a response from Mr. Sakahara
on their questions.
Turns out, both letters, addressed to different people, were the same exact letter, word for word.
“THE LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR came to our meeting to talk about the ‘small house’ development in Kapolei for homeless”, said Jack Legal, the chair of Honolulu Neighborhood Board No. 34, covering Makakilo, Kapolei and Honokai Hale. When I asked him if anyone from the Department of Transportation, representatives of the Airports Division or any government entity had talked to the board about any activity at Kalaeloa Airport, the answer was surprising.
“No, never came”.
Therefore, it was a surprise to Chair Legal when I spoke to him about what I was finding out about the eviction of the museum and other things. When I asked Chair Legal of his thoughts on not having anything shared with him, he took the words right out of my mind “it’s odd”.
And the items not being shared with the neighborhood is quite daunting. Along with the eviction, there is also the issue of what happens when you dispose of the planes. When I told Chair Legal about the fact that the State was moving ahead with possible disposal of the planes, his reaction was “where are they going to dispose of the planes, at Waimanalo Gulch?” (Waimanalo Gulch is the landfill site for Oahu, and right up the road from Honokai Hale).
At the end, Chair Legal had both had enough of not knowing what was going on, but also disturbed that a bonafide government entity like the neighborhood board was not in the loop on anything. “It’s a disservice to the community to bypass the board”, Chair Legal said. He then told me that he would be asking his Vice Chair of Transportation, a board member named Mick Ferreira, to look into the matter and report to the board at its December meeting.
Seems the state is more concerned about putting people into tiny houses than telling the residents they are about to see planes on the back of flatbeds being hauled to the dump.
A DEFINITION OF THE WORD “Monolith” goes like this: “a large and impersonal political, corporate, or social structure regarded as intractably indivisible and uniform.”
As I was going through the interviews and hearing from the different parties in this part of the tale, that word kept on coming up, and growing, as a theme of what the museum was really dealing with. It soon became apparent what Brad and the museum, along with the neighborhood board is dealing with, is tantamount to a quote from the movie “Matilda”, from the book by Roald Dahl.
“I’m right and you’re wrong, I’m big and you’re small, and there’s nothing you can do about it.”
In other words, the Department of Transportation, Airports Division, is the big person, and everyone else is the little people. And just because they are big and can wield power, their judgement is absolute and unquestionable, on the little people.
So the question need to be asked: What is this entity intending on doing with the planes on the tarmac? If there is a disposal plan, when is that going to be known. And at the end, what is the entity’s overall plan for a public facility like Kalaeloa Airport.
It seems that some answers are out there, one of which we will explore in the next part of this report.
Part III of this tale will talk about how a new jet, developed by Honda, may be the reason why the museum is being evicted.