Breaking: Koolauloa politics heat up, physical assault alleged

Jade Eckardt

LAIE—Tension resulting from local politics allegedly resulted in physical violence yesterday between an opponent and supporter of the Envision Laie development.

Kent Fonoimoana of the Defend Oahu Coalition (DOC), an opponent of the proposed Envision Laie development, filed a police report yesterday alleging that he had been physically assaulted by Junior Ah You, the longest standing member of the Laie Community Association (LCA) and supporter of Envision Laie.

“It’s over Envision Laie,” Fonoimoana said of the alleged assault. “He [Ah You] pushed me up against the fence, put both hands around my neck, and head-butted me while threatening me.”

Fonoimoana said he had stopped at Tita’s Grill in Kahuku, a restaurant owned by Ah You, after the LCA member invited him over shortly before via telephone.

Ah You, a former professional football player, works in government relations for the LCA, and is involved with the Envision Laie development as well as the Malaekahana Bike Path, a smaller project part of the development.

Just before the meeting with Ah You, Fonoimoana stopped at the Kahuku Police Station to document the alleged threats Ah You had made toward him on the phone. However, the police advised to “keep a journal and document the threats” Fonoimoana said.

“Junior [Ah You] called me accusing me of calling him a liar at a recent Neighborhood Board meeting,” Fonoimoana said. “I explained it wasn’t me and he apologized. He then said I should cease and desist my oral opposition to the Envision Laie project.”

“I said, you have your opinion and I have mine, it’s not proper to be telling me what I can or can’t say,” Fonoimoana added.

Fonoimoana alleged that Ah You began to threaten him again by saying: “The bottom line is you might be the first Fonoimoana I might have to knock out.”

According to the DOC co-chair, the conversation ended with Ah You inviting him to his restaurant across from Kahuku High School to talk things out. That’s when Fonoimoana stopped at the Kahuku Police Station to document the threats.

He left, saying he was unsure about stopping to talk to Ah You.

“I drove through Kahuku and saw my cousin at the restaurant so I thought it would be a good time to talk. We both apologized, then I said I didn’t appreciate the threat to be knocked out,” Fonoimoana said.

According to Fonoimoana, Ah You said, “You don’t think I can?”

Fonoimoana said it was when he tried to leave that Ah You pushed him against the fence with both hands around his throat and head-butted him.

“I was wearing my green ‘Keep the country country’ shirt and he told me to take it off. They [Envision Laie supporters] don’t like seeing those green shirts,” said Fonoimoana.

According to Fonoimoana there were several witnesses to the assault including his cousin. He left and filed an assault report with the police. He said the assault took place at approximately 4:00 p.m.

Regarding Envision Laie Fonoimoana said, “This is an indication of how they’re playing.”

Efforts made by The Hawaii Independent Tuesday morning to obtain a copy of the police report were unsuccessful. HPD said the report was in transition from the Kahuku station to the Honolulu station, making it unable to give out at the time.

A call made to Ah You was unreturned at the time of publication.

Envision Laie is a project headed by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) that will, most significantly, create a set of new subdivisions collectively called Malaekahana just west of Laie that will rival the populations of the other towns in the Koolauloa region. This massive plan will most likely include widening parts of Kamehameha Highway, which will require condemning some properties along that road, as well as seizing some kuleana lands for roads that connect BYU to these other developments upland supposedly to lessen impact on Kamehameha Highway. The population increase will be considerable- Bringham Young University Hawaii alone expects to increase its student enrollment from 5,000 to 10,000 in the coming years.

Community complaints are mainly two-fold: One is that the Public Advisory Committee, a community panel, drew up its own Sustainable Communities Plan (SCP) in the middle of last year, and the group, made up of a diverse segment of the Koolau Loa region, did not allow Envision Laie to be put on the SCP—the document that gives the City and Department of Planning and Permitting the right to OK the project.