The Museum Strikes Back
A tale of an eviction, part IV
by Stan Fichtman, PoliticsHawaii.com Dec 18, 2019
It seems that the Naval Air Museum Barbers Point call for help was heard, and they are able to fight for another day.
On the 12th of December, the Museum through its lawyer, Mitchell S. Wong, filed a civil claim against the State of Hawaii Department of Transportation, Airports Division, asking for relief from the recently-issued eviction notice on the museum.
Previously, the museum had been casting about asking for GoFundMe donations to help them hire a lawyer and file suit. While it was questionable that they would get it, it didn’t take too much time for them to get the money necessary to make the filing happen.
So, what does this filing say? If you read through it and translate some of the legal terms, it is an actual good read.
One of the first things that leapt out is the fact that the museum did quite a bit more work at Kaleloa Airport than just display airplanes. From having their own control tower to help planes land, to making available its facilities for air crews using Kalaeloa Airport as a place to get ready and have briefings.
A very interesting task that the museum has done for the state, I found, was that they are instrumental in making sure that equipment and planes are secured in case of a natural disaster. Item 26 of the filing details this effort:
26. For example in 2011 during the Fukushima earthquake-tsunami scare, the NAVAL AIR MUSEUM was instrumental in parking and securing the United States Coast Guard Air Station’s aircraft and ground support equipment from its location at the south end of Kalaeloa Airport to the north end, all of which occurred at night. And in 2016, in anticipation of Hurricanes Madeline and Lester making landfall, the Hawaii Army National Guard requested the assistance of the NAVAL AIR MUSEUM in securing heavy CH47 helicopters brought in from Wheeler Army Airfield to Kalaeloa Airport for use after the potential disasters.
A CH47 Chinook helicopter, like the one the museum says it helped secure at Kalaeloa during the hurricanes.
Other extraordinary tasks that were done by the museum, in helping to maintain the field – such as removing abandoned planes and cleaning up the place, the museum claims they did without charge to the state.
As to the charges against the state, the museums accusations mimic what I reported in part 1 of this saga. That is, the State made statements regarding the leases, but never followed through on actually issuing new leases to the museum. It is one thing to have that reported through interviews, as I had with Brad. It’s another thing all together when that story is relayed in a civil suit.
In conclusion of a legal filing, there is a section where the aggrieved party is seeking relief. From the filing, this is what the museum is seeking:
The STATE should be ordered to allow the NAVAL AIR MUSEUM to continue to operate until a final determination has been made on the claims in this Complaint;
The STATE has indicated that it will act in ways in contravention of the Federal law. This should be stopped;
The NAVAL AIR MUSEUM should be allowed to service its collection. (Currently, the museum is not allowed to access the site or the displays);
The STATE and its agents should be prohibited from such entry or access. (The museum claims that people from the state has been in the offices, on the site, without the museum’s permission); and
The STATE should be prevented from engaging entities to scrap the NAVAL AIR MUSEUM’s artifacts and assets.
There is also a request for financial relief, but the museum will wait for the court’s decision on that. No amount was presented in this filing.
It will be interesting to see what the state says in response to the filing. Because to be honest, it will be something with more detail and more insight than anything the Department of Transportation has been saying to the public since this saga started.
So, stay tuned!