July 25, 2010

Records show whose comments were solicited during the Governor’s consideration of pending legislation in 2009

Filed under: Hawaii State Politics — Doug @ 4:14 pm

At long last, I am able to provide a taste of what sort of records I had been fighting for over the last year. Publishing this takes me a lot more time than you might expect for just scanning documents, because I have decided to make an Excel spreadsheet to catalog the documents. For your reference, since not even the biggest wonk would recall by memory year-old bill numbers, the spreadsheet also has a tab that describes the legislation (mahalo to the Capitol website for the information in that tab).

This batch of records consists of the forms used by the Governor’s Policy Office to keep track of who had been contacted to solicit comments on legislation pending the Governor’s approval or veto. The forms were filled out by hand, and sometimes the handwriting is illegible and/or does not scan well—but I believe I have done a fairly accurate job of transcribing the data into the spreadsheet. Anyone who finds an error is, of course, urged to point it out. For these documents the odd-numbered records show the fronts of the forms, the even-numbered records are the back sides. The government agencies contacted are recorded on the front, the non-government contacts on the back. Some legislation did not have a two-sided form, so I inserted a “filler” page to preserve my odd/even document numbering scheme.

As this project advances, each document I scan will have a unique document number and the spreadsheet will be updated to reflect uploads as they happen. To look at any particular document, point your browser to
[substituting the asterisks with the four-digit document number you want, using leading zeros as needed]. For example, here is the link to view the first document. REMINDER: all of the contents of this site (to include the uploaded documents) are published under a Creative Commons license. Please, respect the terms of that license.

So, what does this first batch show? Well, it suggests that the opinions of some people seem to matter much more to the Governor than those of others. Play around with the document index spreadsheet and you can sort the records however you like. One thing that struck me, especially with the campaign for Governor underway, is that as the 2009 legislation was being considered for approval or veto Lieutenant Governor Aiona was asked to comment only once — and that was to solicit his comments on the bill that included the budget for the LG office. However, there was no response to that solicitation, according to the records and privilege logs provided to me. Go figure. Seriously, it’s hard for Mr. Aiona to claim (based on 2009) that he was a key player in the policy arena. It’s possible that Aiona provided a lot of (unsolicited) commentary, but I have not seen any in the privilege logs (where it would appear if there were any). Those privilege logs will be scanned and uploaded next, by the way.

Happy browsing. Leave a comment when you find something notable!

Here’s the link again for the document index.

One last thing, I am making another plea to the powers-that-be: The capitol.hawaii.gov website should be the host of these records. They truly belong with the public bill testimony in an “official” government archive, not on an obscure blog. But, until I hear otherwise, I’ll keep plugging away…

UPDATE July 26, 2010: According to Andrew Walden of the Hawaii Free Press, without my realizing it, these records provide

a list which shows the Lingle/Aiona “adult supervision” model in action. Compare the broadly inclusive [sic!] list of people asked to submit comments to the list which might come from a highly factional administration such a Abercrombie or Hannemann.

Heh. It’s pretty easy to defend Lingle by contrasting her with a completely hypothetical list. Nevertheless, Walden should ask himself, why did the Lingle administration fight so hard for so long to withhold these records, if the records truly show the administration in a positive light?

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