Civil Beat Editorial: Lawmakers Must Resist Any Effort To Undercut Hawaii’s Public Records Law

On the Friday before Christmas, the Hawaii Supreme Court issued a significant ruling in strong support of freedom of information. It stems from a Civil Beat 2015 lawsuit that sought to access budget documents used to inform Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s spending plans for fiscal year 2016. City officials denied the request, saying it would “frustrate…

More

Public Records on Hawaii Prisoners Held by CCA Will Cost You $23,000

Each year, Hawaii spends tens of millions of dollars to house prisoners on the mainland, a practice that it has maintained for more than 25 years.

But the state's taxpayers are kept in the dark about much of what goes on at the Saguaro Correctional Center, a private Arizona prison where about 1,400 Hawaii prisoners are housed.

Continue…

More

Editorial: Show us whose fingerprints are all over Hawaii bills

We’re never short of people and groups seeking to shape the work of each Hawaii legislative session to their own benefit.

Our state is no different than any other in that regard. But what continues to set Hawaii apart is its lack of solid laws to regulate that lobbying. This leaves our legislative process vulnerable to corruption, particularly in a state government controlled entirely by one political party.

More

Editorial: Hawaii voters want transparency, accountability

Across the nation, this seems to be a year in which not just distrust but outright contempt for government is driving the body politic.

For both major political parties, perceived outsiders are at or near the top of the polls after months of campaigning and one state caucus. A national average of public opinion polls shows less than 30 percent of Americans feel the country is headed in the right direction while more than 63 percent say it’s headed in the wrong direction.

More

Hawaii Monitor: Wanted — Good Home for Government Watchdog

The Office of Information Practices, the agency responsible for making sure state officials and agencies are complying with open meeting and public records requirements of state law, is looking for a new home.

Top on the wish list seems to be an administrative base where OIP can enjoy independence from undue political interference, and also minimize the inevitable conflicts that come from being part of state government while at the same time trying to hold state agencies and departments accountable.

More

In Hawaii, open-government advocates are alarmed at advancing legislation

While opposed by open-government advocates, a Senate bill advanced in the state Legislature this week – with amendments – to allow county council members to jointly attend any meetings or presentations without violating the state's Sunshine Law, as long as the gathering is open to the public.

An amended Senate Bill 2962 passed out of the Senate Public Safety, Intergovernmental and Military Affairs Committee on Tuesday. Among those on the committee, which voted unanimously in favor, was panel Vice Chairwoman and South and West Maui Sen. Roz Baker.

More

Hawaii launches “WHO’S YOUR LEGISLATOR?” apps

The State of Hawaii has launched two applications, “Your 2014 Hawaii State Senate” and “Your 2014 Hawaii State House”, as a response to requests from the members of the public during an Open Government workshop at the Hawaii Digital Government Summit last year.

Sen. Jill Tokuda, who led the breakout group on legislative information, said workshop participants were very interested in an app to help citizens find their legislative representatives.

More