Saturday, November 20, 1999

Honolulu Weekly
blocks rack lottery

By Gordon Y.K. Pang


The city has been blocked from holding a lottery for use of 95 Waikiki coin-operated and noncoin-operated publication racks because of a temporary restraining order sought by Honolulu Weekly.

The publication sued the city Department of Customer Services on constitutional grounds, claiming the city law discriminates against free publications.

U.S. District Judge Susan Mollway granted the Honolulu Weekly a temporary restraining order, good for 10 days after which a hearing on a preliminary injunction will be held.

As a result of the lawsuit, more than 20 publishers of paid and nonpaid publications who gathered at City Hall grounds yesterday were told a scheduled lottery had been postponed.

Honolulu Weekly attorney James Bickerton said the city is requiring only one free publication rack for every coin-operated publication rack, making it tougher for publishers of free materials to get space.

"There are five times as many applicants for the nonpaid," Bickerton said.

'There are five times
as many applicants for
the nonpaid.'

James Bickerton


While direct competitors with the Star-Bulletin and Advertiser, the Weekly is barred from sharing the same kind of space and is relegated to "second class" enclosures, Bickerton said.

The Weekly in a different lottery in April applied for the coin-operated dispensing racks and was allotted the rights to 21 of them.

But in June, the city refused to issue a permit for the Weekly's coin-operated racks because it was intending to distribute issues for free, Bickerton said.

The Weekly's request to apply for space in coin-operated racks in a supplemental lottery for new or empty racks was rejected by the city, leading to the lawsuit.

Mayor Jeremy Harris, through Customer Services Director Carol Costa, said the city "will begin crafting changes to the ordinance to try and dispense with (Honolulu Weekly's) legal attack."

Costa said the city is simply following the law, which seeks to protect the safety of pedestrians along Waikiki sidewalks and remove a blight.

City officials sat down with representatives of paid and nonpaid publications over a period of several years to hash out the rules, she said. The city is paid $90 for rack permits, which are good for three years.

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