Poinography!

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).

December 26, 2010

Public comments for Acts 190 thru 198 are catalogued and uploaded

Filed under: Hawaii State Politics — Doug @ 1:04 pm

Mirabile dictu, I am finished with the cataloging, scanning, and uploading of records!

I thought that I still had hundreds of records to go, until I realized that the remaining pile consisted only of the records for measures which had been vetoed and subsequently overridden by the Legislature. Thus, after a careful comparison to confirm it, all those remaining records were duplicates. It feels great to be done!

In this final batch are records pertaining to clotheslines in planned communities, the Early Learning Council, unlicensed contractors, filing dates for excise taxes, credit checks during the hiring process, teacher licensure, and drug treatment. Most of these records pertain to bills that became law without the Governor’s signature.

The document index is now 4,432 rows long and catalogs 2,118 records! There is bound to be an error (or tens) in a document that size, so please let me know if you find any.

As ever, to look at any particular document, point your browser to
http://poinography.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2009uipa/poi****.pdf
[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 page of this latest batch of public comments. 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.

Now that I am finished, I hope that the Senate Clerk would reconsider the decision to not host these documents alongside the other testimony related to the same pieces of legislation. At the very least, I would hope that she would include (or link to) my Document Index with an explanation of how it may be used to find the records here at this blog. Remember, too, that my index is an Microsoft Excel spreadsheet and allows the data to be sorted to make them more useful (i.e. by measure number, by sender, by recipient, etc.).

I finished just in time, too. Not only is the next legislative session coming in a few weeks (it would have been VERY lame to be working on data TWO sessions old), but something pretty cool is happening Tuesday that makes my finishing this task extra satisfying. “Stay tuned!” [cough]

December 19, 2010

Public comments for Acts 179 thru 189 are catalogued and uploaded

Filed under: Hawaii State Politics — Doug @ 11:24 am

At this point, I estimate that I have dealt with about two-thirds of the records provided to me. This is another batch of records pertaining to legislation from 2009 that became law without the Governor’s signature. The document index continues to expand (over 4300 rows, cataloguing 2056 records!), but the end of my task, finally, is in sight.

This batch of records comprises comments on legislation relating to the following topics: tort claims against public utilities, telecommunications de-regulation, electronics recycling, renewing liquor licenses of tax delinquent businesses [Next Door and Jacques North Shore Bistro have particularly vocal followers, or so it would seem], establishing preferential rates for renewable energy produced by agricultural producers, physician orders for life-sustaining treatment, the use of airport revenue to apply for a FAA spaceport license, and a contentious bill about how lease rents are to be set by arbitration [which led to a flood of comments from employees of GP Roadway Solutions].

As ever, to look at any particular document, point your browser to
http://poinography.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2009uipa/poi****.pdf
[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 page of this latest batch of public comments. 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.

Nothing too shocking in this batch. Or, I should say, nothing to shocking to a person like myself not intimately familiar with the legislation. Your mileage may vary.

December 15, 2010

Spotted here first

Filed under: Honolulu Politics — Doug @ 6:22 pm

Well, well, well.

Kudos to KITV and KHON for reporting about a community meeting where a presentation was made by a company that is in the business of helping law enforcement agencies locate the source of gunshots and other noises made by illegal activity. Honolulu City Council Chair Nestor Garcia (my original boss at the Lege, back in the day) hosted the events in our/my neighborhood where Ed Jopeck of Shotspotter described the equipment which is used to pinpoint the location of gunfire and explosions by triangulating on the sound produced.

As it happens, I wrote to Shotspotter back on November 21, 2010:

I write a blog about Hawaii politics. On the island of Oahu we have a huge amount of illegal aerial fireworks and improvised bombs(!) that are detonated by normally-law-abiding people to celebrate New Years Eve, with a window of about one month before and after that sees a build-up and taper-off from that single night of intense activity. Around Independence Day there is a smaller version of the same anarchy. Despite literally thousands of offenses, the authorities typically make only one or two arrests per year and claim that the arrest rate is so low because the LEO (or a member of the public willing to testify for the prosecution) must actually witness the offense being committed. People with respiratory ailments and nervous pets of all kinds are affected.

Would your shotspotter system be effective in pinpointing the location of illegal aerial fireworks and bombs in a mid-density urban environment? Would you be willing to demonstrate your system this year in my community and perhaps shame local LE into taking more aggressive action? Does the system produce evidence that would stand up in court and obviate the need for a citizen to “rat” on his or her neighbor?

To see how crazy it gets, take a look at the video I shot from my 9th floor balcony last year:

This is not a joke. Can you help?

I received an auto-response to the effect that the press officer was on vacation for Thanksgiving. Finally, on December 3, I got an acknowledgment of my email—claiming that my message had gone into a spam folder by mistake. My inquiry was to be fielded by Mr. Jopeck. But nothing came of it. I pinged the press officer again on December 10, letting her know that Jopeck had not responded.

Three days ago, on December 13, Mr. Jopeck responds, telling me that, what else, my email had been in his spam folder. He then informed me that he would be in Waipahu, meeting with Nestor Garcia … the next day(!), and he invited me to join them. Jopeck also said he planned to meet with the Honolulu Police and Fire Departments. I had other plans for Tuesday evening already, so I did not attend.

An excerpt from what Jopeck wrote:

As luck [sic] would have it, I am leaving my current home near Washington DC this morning to come to Honolulu for three days (Dec 14-16). The primary purpose for my trip is, at the request of Honolulu City Council Chairman Nestor Garcia [sic], to meet and address a community meeting in Waipahu on exactly this issue. I will be happy to give a demonstration of our solution at or after this meeting. I hope you will consider coming to the city council meeting to hear my presentation and so that we can meet. While I am in Honolulu, I will also be meeting with Honolulu Police and Fire Department representatives.

Luck?! At the request of Garcia?!

Whatever you say, Mr. Jopeck. Heh.

Anyway, from the KITV story:

Council Chairman Nestor Garcia, who represents Waipahu, wants the city to seriously consider the technology to combat illegal fireworks, especially once consumer fireworks are banned on Oahu starting Jan. 2.

“We know that there is a problem out there. We hear it every night. Even last night, I heard it. The problem is trying to detect it under the cover of darkness. With this technology, as I’ve been told, it might be able to solve that problem for us,” Garcia said.

The technology costs roughly $250,000 for the first square mile and about $200,000 per additional square mile after that, according to Jopeck.

That sounds expensive, but this is a seasonal problem. Does the technology cost $250,000 per square mile per … year? per month? per week? per day? If $250,000 is the annual rate, then setting up the system for a month suddenly sounds much more affordable. The story also mentions the possibility of using Shotspotter during the upcoming APEC meeting. Doesn’t the Department of Homeland Security (or some other federal agency) have a budget for making grants to host cities to defray security expenses?

How about a free sample for a week, Mr. Jopeck? My dog, Perl, would like to spend a quiet evening without needing to cower under my bed!

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