December 28, 2010

Aloha and welcome, Hawaii Public Radio listeners

Filed under: Hawaii Media,Hawaii State Politics — Doug @ 7:35 am

I suspect that many, if not most, of you that found your way here after listening to Ben Markus‘ piece on Hawaii Public Radio have never visited my blog before.  My blog never enjoyed a lot of traffic, and now it doesn’t even get the modest traffic it used to enjoy since I post so infrequently. I no longer have immediate access to a computer (much less to the Capitol environment) all day, and I was getting a bit tired of the usual “link with a commentary” format. This project was a chance to be less parasitic and to work on something original—even if a bit banal to the non-wonk world. Along the way, this project became at least as much a story about the struggle simply to obtain the records as a story about the actual records.

Anyway, you’re here, so you’ve probably heard Ben’s piece, which means you know the gist of what I’ve been up to for the past 18 months(!).  A good place to explore where you will find links to all the related posts is at my small corner of the Hawaii Open Data Project, a place established by Ryan Ozawa to serve as a repository of sorts for projects like what I’ve been doing. If you only want the blow-by-blow of the struggle to get the records, however, that is all described in this long post.

By the way, Mr. Markus interviewed me for this piece on November 4, 2010. Fitting, then, that it should air seven weeks later, as no part of this project came together as quickly as I would have liked… haha.

Please, leave me a comment, spread the word about this project, and USE THE DATA!

p.s. If you missed it, then you can try to listen later today (around 4:30pm HST).

July 27, 2010

The Distinguished Gentleman gambit

Filed under: Hawaii Media,Hawaii State Politics — Doug @ 7:03 pm

I never listen to KSSK, so I can only wonder if there has been any mention on the air of Senator Sam Slom’s opponent for District 8? Check it out, Slom’s opponent is a Democrat named … Larry Price. Heh.

Oh, and by the way, that better-known “guy on the right” made a blunder in his latest MidWeek column where he notes that Representatives Ward, Marumoto, and Thielen are running unopposed—and then says he can’t remember the last time the Democrats let that happen in a major race. To refresh his memory, then, Representative Thielen ran unopposed in 2008 and 2006, too.

July 22, 2010

My UIPA saga – a $1582.15, twelve month struggle

Filed under: Hawaii Media,Hawaii State Politics — Doug @ 7:43 pm

Back in June, 2009, I wrote a post inspired by comments made by Governor Lingle alleging that the Legislature works in secrecy. As a former legislative staffer, I knew that the public can learn far more about what happens to legislation while it is under consideration at the Lege than is possible once the bills go to the Governor for consideration (i.e. approval or veto).

To illustrate the extent of that contrast, on June 28, 2009, I promptly sent the Governor a UIPA request for records, thinking I might get the records in time to analyze how she came to approve or veto those bills. Boy, was I wrong…

Make yourself comfortable, this is a very long post.


June 3, 2009

UH part of effort to send ROV to bottom of deepest ocean trench

Filed under: Hawaii Media,Science — Doug @ 7:39 pm

It’s been a while since I have used the science category (not surprisingly, since it’s been a while since I have done any scientific work), but the Saipan Tribune reports on a research expedition from the R/V Kilo Moana, a UH-operated ship that used to take me to sea regularly. If you’re a science dork, it’s exciting news. The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, partnered with a UH geologist, has made several dives to explore and to gather data from the Mariana Trench with the Nereus, a remotely operated submersible.

It has been a few years (after the loss of a Japanese unmanned submersible in 2003) since a machine capable of reaching these depths has been in operation. It’s amazing how little we know about the bottoms of the sea…

Oh, and I also use the Hawaii Media tag on this post because I’ve seen no mention of this locally. [Did I miss it somewhere?] Get with it, UH flacks!

META: The last I heard of my former co-worker, Akel Sterling, was that he piloted ROVs for WHOI. I wonder if he’s part of this effort?

May 10, 2009

Motion? What motion? Denied.

Filed under: Hawaii Media,Hawaii State Politics — Doug @ 11:22 am

Hmmm. The Hawaii Supreme Court has not (so far as I know) responded to the Lingle administration’s motion to reconsider the Superferry ruling. More than ten days have elapsed since her motion and the Senate’s amicus brief were submitted nearly a month ago.

According to the procedure Charley Foster helpfully wrote about earlier, the decision invalidating Act 2 still holds. “Neener, neener, neener,” says the Court. Okay, the justices say that through only by inference through their inaction, but still… :)

Nothing overt “happened,” but this is clearly news. Did I overlook a mention of this development by the media? I don’t think so, but lemme know if I did.

May 4, 2009

More on the budget veto meme

Filed under: Hawaii Media,Hawaii State Politics — Doug @ 7:55 pm

Hmmm. It is getting more weird. Since last week, when Borreca had a seemingly throw-away comment in a Q & A with Speaker Say, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking and some checking. To that end, I decided to compare the transfer language in past budgets to the transfer language that is in the current budget about to be passed. The transfer language in the latest draft of the budget seems fairly typical in that regard, so I don’t see any reason for a veto of the new budget over the transfer of funds. Next, I reviewed the testimony submitted on the budget this year. [META: Given the importance of the document, it's amazingly sparse on testimony. Odd.] None of the testifiers raised any concern about transferring funds.

Meanwhile, a reliable source in the Capitol suggested that this bill, and not the budget bill, is the one facing a potential veto. I doubt it. Going into conference committee SB 387 would have required the Lege to approve any transfers of funds from one budget item to another. Indeed, there was testimony from the administration saying that it was unconstitutional and unworkable for those transfers to require legislative approval—which is not-so-subtle code for “we will veto this bill.” However, at this point the conference draft only requires the Governor to submit quarterly reports detailing any such transfers. That’s not unconstitutional, and it’s not very onerous, so I highly doubt she’d veto it in this form.

On the off chance that he’d respond to a blogger, I have sent an email to Russel Pang of the Governor’s press office, asking if he would like to explain or clarify what is going on. No response yet, but it’s only been a few hours…

Then, while eating my dinner I was reading Larry Price’s latest Midweek column:

First, can you remember when a governor has vetoed the entire state budget? I can’t, but it still remains a possibility. If that happens, the state of Hawaii would be literally shut down on July 1. The ramifications would be immense. Emotions would be pushed to the breaking point.

Price does not provide, nor does he even attempt to offer, an explanation of what is behind this veto “possibility.” Of course, every bill passed by the Lege faces the “possibility” of a veto, but Price clearly thinks the budget is in a uniquely risky position. Finally, after a few paragraphs of thoroughly cryptic rambling about “unholy coalitions” and “dirty tricks,” Price adds,

Hopefully, the governor won’t be forced [sic!] to veto the entire budget, although it appears clear that there are forces in the legislature pushing for that outcome.

Wha?! Which “forces” in the Lege favor a veto of the budget? Why be coy, Mr. Price? Sheesh. If you know who, then name names!

I think there is something queer about the way in which this whole meme has been propogated. Why the media are not pursuing the administration for comment is baffling and frustrating. For now, the Lingle regime appears to have been given a pass. I guess a budget being vetoed is not considered newsworthy. ??

April 26, 2009

When the internet goes away, then perhaps we can tell you what we know

Filed under: Hawaii Media,Neighbor Island Politics — Doug @ 11:02 am

I’ve been keeping a loose watch on the Hawaii County situation regarding an investigation of the internet activity of County workers. The County has data with details of where workers have been on the internet, but have refused to release the data to Councilmembers, to Stephens Media reporters, and to bloggers. The latest wrinkle is this message from the Corporation Counsel that attempts to explain why the data are withheld. Lincoln Ashida writes: 

This is what the County can disclose at the moment:

1. The records compiled by the Department of Data Systems are highly sensitive, and have not been shared outside of their department with any County department, agency or person, other than on a need to know basis. This is because many County officer and employees (including the Council) may be called as witnesses in future cases.
2. If the records are released prior to formal charges (administrative or criminal) being filed, the integrity of the case and investigation may be compromised. When I served as a prosecutor, such unlawful premature release of information would be cause for dismissal or other disciplinary action.
3. These records will ultimately be released, once all investigations are completed.

Some may wonder what the harm is if these records reveal only past internet sites visited. The reason this could harm future cases and the County is because:

1. The investigation includes sites currently being visited in order to establish trends. This also involves forensic examination of hardware and downloading of saved content.
2. Disclosing the records would identify particular individuals who may not be eventually charged administratively or criminally.

No doubt the public is entitled to view these records. The sole issue is one of timing. Once the investigations are completed and final decisions are made on administrative and criminal charges, the records will be released.


Sounds almost reasonable, until you consider that the County may never (probably will never, if they are serious about curbing abuse) stop collecting these data. Unless there is a plan to halt internet access by County employees altogether at some point, the “proper timing” argument for the release of the data is, if not a red herring altogether, going to be a real challenge. Here’s why: the portion of the investigation that “includes sites currently being visited in order to establish trends” may reveal other alleged cases of abuse, which would lead to further “ongoing” investigations preventing the release of the data, which could again reveal other potential cases of abuse, ad infinitum. Long story short: investigations of this nature are never “complete.” Following Ashida’s argument to its logical conclusion, we’ll never have access to these data.

Grudging kudos to the Coporation Counsel office for deigning to respond publicly to the simmering story. I’m hoping that Ashida has a less cynical take on this than what I’ve laid out above. I’m open to hearing it if he does.

April 21, 2009

Surveillance camera fail

Filed under: Hawaii Media,Honolulu Politics — Doug @ 8:02 pm

The Advertiser notes a recent attack in Chinatown occurred in an area subject to video recording yet did not yield any video evidence. The police and prosecutors claim there were no recordings made of the crime, yet the article goes on to say that new footage was [is?] routinely recorded over old footage. [Allegedly the media are re-used before anyone bothers to read the police blotter? Genius!]

Remember when HPD was looking for volunteers to monitor these cameras? (There’s a post on that topic in the pre-crash archive somewhere…) Well, that effort didn’t pan out, they are still looking for volunteers, and now we see the cameras revealed as a example of security theater.

A critique for Mr. Dooley: I notice that law enforcement is simply asserting that there was no recording of the incident. That deserves some explanation, doesn’t it? Are the cameras in operation 24/7, or not? The possibility that the records were destroyed intentionally would certainly create a “reasonable doubt,” in my mind, if I were a juror when this case goes to trial…

February 21, 2009

Bah. Who needs Rex Johnson, sexism, and porn? We have ninjas! Tourism is saved.

Filed under: Hawaii Media,Hawaii State Politics — Doug @ 10:37 am

One the best Advertiser headlines that I can recall: Ninjas sent to fight tourism slump.

Sadly, the author of this article seems to be oblivious to the laughably farcical premise. To “lure visitors from Japan” the Hawaii Tourism Authority (via its subcontractor, Hawaii Tourism Japan) hires ninjas to entertain pre-schoolers and shoppers in Honolulu(?). Who needs the economic stimulus package? This plan can’t fail. Whatever amount the HTA is paying HTJ, it is not enough—even in these tough economic times. I mean we’re talking ninjas, folks. Aww, yeah. Budget surplus, here we come.

Getting those weapons through TSA checkpoints will put a damper on the otherwise inevitable torrent of ninja tourists, but this plan is orders of magnitude better than having the previous boss in the news for forwarding racist and pornographic email messages…

February 18, 2009

Why did I pre-order? [grumble, grumble]

Filed under: Hawaii Media,Hawaii State Politics — Doug @ 6:25 pm

Okay, I gotta admit that I’m feeling like a sucker for pre-ordering my copy of Cayetano’s memoir. After pestering the publisher for more than a year(!) while the publication date was repeatedly pushed back, I ordered my copy as soon as the website would take my money. It said books would be delivered February 13. I still have not recieved my pre-ordered copy.  A Friday release followed by a holiday weekend contributed to the slow shipping, of course. But on Sunday I see stories about the book in the Advertiser and Star-Bulletin. The Advertiser also published four consecutive days of excerpts from the book, and today we see the Capitol Notebook blogger flogging the autobiography, too. That’s a lot of free publicity and can’t hurt sales…

I feel like one of those Harry Potter dorks who did not go to the midnight release party and is forced to avoid the media and their friends (well, some of those dorks have more than one friend, anyway). When will I get my copy, dagfunnit!? :)

I did sneak a peek at the story sidebars to see that Cayetano will be signing copies of his book in a few weeks. I’ll be there! …if I have my copy in time.

UPDATE: I received my copy in the mail today (i.e. February 20). Postmarked on the 19th(!). Now I really feel like a chump for pre-ordering and paying for shipping when I could have went down the road to a bookstore last weekend and avoided shipping fees altogether…

January 15, 2009

I feel your pain, Mr. Ray

Filed under: Hawaii Media,Hawaii State Politics — Doug @ 9:12 pm

I recommend this post from Don Ray, a new addition to the blogroll, about his ventures into UIPA land. Mr. Ray is one of those rare birds, the paid blogger (on the Grassroot Institute payroll), so he has more time and resources available to vigorously pursue his prey story than many of us. Plus, he has kept good records of how the hunt has unfolded.

As expected, I am being stonewalled to some extent by the Governor’s office, so Don’s post is especially well-timed for me. The Governor’s office is claiming a blanket “executive and attorney-client privilege.” Now for round two, my request for a “privilege log.”

Powered by WordPress