Thursday, July 29, 1999


Natatorium foe denies

By Gordon Y.K. Pang


Kaimana Beach Coalition leader Rick Bernstein is denying that he misrepresented himself last week to gain information for his group's lawsuit seeking to stop work at the Waikiki War Memorial and Natatorium.

Bernstein said he did not tell anyone he worked for the city. "I told them that I was an interested party," he said, "that I was interested in finding a resolution to the natatorium issue."

The accusations were made by a current official and former official of the Polynesian Cultural Center in Circuit Court yesterday.

The coalition is seeking a permanent injunction against the city that would prevent it from proceeding with an $11.5 million restoration at the 72-year-old natatorium.

Circuit Judge Gary Chang, who heard arguments yesterday, said he will rule on a preliminary injunction in the next few days.

City and Polynesian Cultural Center officials on Tuesday acknowledged that preliminary talks had taken place about the possibility of the center staging shows at the natatorium. Both sides said the talks ceased before getting into specifics.

David Cole, vice president of marketing at the center, said in his signed affidavit that Bernstein telephoned him and "gave me the distinct impression that he was a public servant working for the city."

Cole said Bernstein asked him if the city had approached him about shows.

"After the telephone conversation ended, I remember feeling that I had been tricked by Bernstein into providing information," Cole said.

David Preece, a former center employee and now a Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau official, signed an affidavit saying he, too, had received a call from Bernstein asking the same questions last week.

"I assumed, based on his statements, that Bernstein was working with the city and (Deputy Managing Director) Malcolm Tom," Preece said.

Bernstein said he identified himself and that should have tipped the two men off about who he is since "I'm a very public person at this point."

Bernstein added: "I didn't tell them I was against it. If I did that, I wouldn't have found out what I found out."

Jim Bickerton, coalition attorney, agreed. If Bernstein did identify himself as a member of the coalition or as an opponent, "you would never have heard that PCC was in negotiations with the city," he said.

Corporation Counsel David Arakawa said the affidavits show Bernstein is not credible and would do anything to win his case, noting that impersonating a city official is a criminal offense.

"This shows his intent to deceive," Arakawa said.

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