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Hawaii newspaper says reporter banned from Army meeting

May 20, 2019

HILO, Hawaii (AP) — A journalist in Hawaii was banned from covering what a newspaper contends was a public meeting but the U.S. Army said was not open to all, a report said.

A reporter for West Hawaii Today was banned from a meeting Thursday in Hilo between the Army and community members to discuss how the military plans to manage historic resources at Pohakuloa Training Area and Kawaihae Military Reservation, the newspaper reported Saturday.

The reporter was told the meeting on the Big Island was “not a media event” before being asked to leave the Aupuni Center conference room, the newspaper reported.

The reporter questioned the decision, but was told participating parties might not feel comfortable expressing opinions with the media present.

Not all attendees were consulting parties on the list, but those others were guests of consulting parties, said Michael Donnelly, a Pohakuloa Training Area public affairs officer.

“This was not a general public meeting, and this same information was communicated to all concerned well prior to the consultation meeting,” Donnelly said.

The meeting was originally intended to be limited to consulting parties who are on a list, but it was opened to the public prior to the reporter being told to leave, said Jim Albertini, an activist who attended the event.

“If a government agency opens a meeting to the general public, it cannot pick and choose who it will let attend,” said Brian Black, executive director of the Civil Beat Law Center for the Public Interest in Hawaii.

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