WAILUKU - An attorney for Akaku: Maui Community Television said the station will challenge procurement rules adopted by the state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs earlier this month.
The rules were adopted so the department could use a competitive bidding process to issue contracts for public-access cable television services - the contract Akaku currently holds for Maui. Akaku previously had pushed DCCA to create the rules, arguing that the state agency couldn't award contracts without them. Now Akaku will fight the procurement process itself, said attorney Lance Collins.
"Now that we have rules, we can bring a motion to get the judge to invalidate them," Collins said.
The rules currently await final approval by Gov. Linda Lingle, said DCCA spokeswoman Christine Hirasa.
They include provisions for how the agency should award the cable contracts. They say DCCA should consider a provider's experience, financial capability and funding requirements.
In a nod to free-speech advocates, the rules also say one consideration should be "whether the organization agrees to expand the marketplace of ideas, and is committed to allowing members of the public to express their First Amendment free speech rights."
But another provision, saying the DCCA should consider "the organization's prior dealings and relationships with the state," could work against Akaku, which has been involved in several lawsuits against the state.
In another part of Akaku's legal struggles, 2nd Circuit Judge Joel August last week released a state legal opinion on the cable contracts the DCCA previously had argued should be secret.
The DCCA had used the opinion by the state attorney general in its arguments that contracts for Akaku and other public-access TV providers should be awarded in a competitive procurement process. But the state had refused to release the document, citing "attorney-client privilege."
August ruled against the DCCA in September and ordered the state to release the opinion by Nov. 15. The letter was turned over to him Nov. 14, and after reviewing it, he released it Nov. 18.
Collins said Akaku would file a motion to amend its complaint against DCCA to include the attorney general's opinion.
"The DCCA has been using it as the basis for all the stuff they've been doing, so Akaku will challenge the opinion itself," he said.
* Ilima Loomis can be reached at email@example.com.