County worker fighting free speech issue

By Catherine Cruz
Published On: Mar 14 2014 05:56:51 PM HST
Updated On: Mar 14 2014 07:54:30 PM HST

The ACLU is fighting to keep the popular Maui Watch webpage up despite objection from Maui County lawyers.

HONOLULU -

Click onto Maui Watch, and up comes up everything from info on brush fires and car accidents to the ongoing search for two missing Maui women.

Click here to watch Catherine Cruz' story.

Neldon Mamuad started the site. It is now fed with updates by Facebook followers.

The American Civil Liberties Union believes Mamuad is within his rights keep his webpage up and running even though county lawyers aren't happy about it.

"When he started the webpage there were some comments that were satirical in nature about an officer, and we think that's what the county is concerned about," said ACLU attorney Dan Gluck. 

That officer, Keith Taguma apparently complained he felt harassed. The page had been initially named after him --“Taguma Watch.”

But even with the name change, if you google “Taguma Watch,” it still links up with Maui Watch.

Mamuad's boss, County Councilman Don Guzman told KITV the webpage issue is complicated in that different county policies apply in the case because of Mamuad holds two county positions.

"It just goes to show that not everything is black and white. There is a lot of grey that still needs to be determined, and this is another piece of law that needs to be updated," said  Guzman.

But the ACLU believes it’s a simple matter of free speech and that Mamuad runs the site on his own time and he shouldn’t be forced to take the Maui Watch page down.

"The county began investigating him in the fall and we raised concerns that the county violating his rights, and in the end of January we were told that he was violating county policy," said Glick.

The county apparently wants Mamuad to take anger management classes and to stop harassing Officer Taguma.

The county is expected to hire outside lawyers to defend the case.

The ACLU will go before a judge next week as it has asked for an emergency hearing on the matter.

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