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ILH should honor its deal with local photojournalist


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POSTED: Friday, October 09, 2009

The Interscholastic League of Honolulu has paid a local photojournalist a monetary settlement and apologized formally to the Samoa News for denying the photographer access to cover ILH sports events. The monetary amount is confidential and redacted in court documents.

This agreement that was arrived at in First Circuit Court last June is embarrassing enough for Oahu's almighty private school sports league. But there's more: Barry Markowitz, the Samoa News and North Shore News photojournalist wronged in this case, has refrained from covering ILH football this season because his lawyer claims another requirement of the settlement has not been met.

Markowitz's attorney, Roman Amaguin, said he only yesterday received an e-mail from the ILH's legal representation, the firm of Turbin Chu, stating that the third requirement has been met: ILH member schools have been made aware that Markowitz is an accredited media member who should be allowed access to cover sports.

Amaguin says he won't dismiss the complaint until he receives proof of that. As of yesterday, Amaguin says he'd received a copy of only one such letter, addressed to Academy of the Pacific.

Markowitz said he hasn't covered games this year because — without the letters to the schools — he fears being hassled.

Coincidentally or not, the e-mail from the ILH's lawyers arrived on the same afternoon, yesterday, that I called the ILH asking for comment.

I called the league's attorney and didn't get much more. “;It's a confidential settlement,”; said Richard Turbin of Turbin Chu. “;It was amicably resolved.”;

Amaguin said the final unresolved piece of the settlement is important to his client.

“;How many games into the (football) season are we? I don't blame Barry. He's a big guy, but he's already suffered embarrassment, being accosted and taken off the field,”; Amaguin said.

The attorney was referring to an incident last year at an ILH game when Markowitz was not allowed to cover a game.

“;After I thought we'd had an understanding that Barry had been given the ability to cover games, he was accosted by Aloha Stadium security,”; Amaguin said. “;My information was that this was ordered by (ILH employee) Georges Gilbert.”;

Gilbert is named along with the ILH in the court complaint.

“;I don't know what's going on with that,”; said Gilbert, when I asked about the ILH fulfilling the court's requirement for the settlement. He referred me to ILH executive director Don Botelho, who did not return a message left yesterday afternoon.

“;In my layman perspective the ILH has not acted in good faith and has deprived me and Samoan families of an additional season of coverage,”; Markowitz told me this week.

I know Barry Markowitz as a hard-working journalist with a special interest in athletes of Samoan heritage. The ILH's court-ordered letter to the Samoa News Editor-In-Chief, dated June 29, says Markowitz would be given the same access as “;members of the media such as the Honolulu Advertiser and Honolulu Star-Bulletin.”;

Especially considering recent events there, the ILH should live up to its court agreement and encourage Markowitz to chronicle the achievements of its athletes related to beleaguered families in the Samoan islands.