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.”


  1. Hi Doug,

    Thanks for letting me know that I’m not alone here.
    Your “executive and attorney-client privilege” reference reminds of a remedy a reporter in San Francisco found several years back. The counsel for the city/county of San Francisco played the “attorney-client privilege”, so Tim Redmond of the San Francisco Bay Guardian asked the lawyer, “OK, who is your client?”

    The attorney told Tim that his client was the Board of Supervisor. Time then went to the public meeting of the Board of Supervisors and addressed the panel as a private citizen. He reminded them that, in reality, the board represents the people of San Francisco and that the information he was seeking was of interest to the voters. Therefore, he said, it would be in the interest of the board to waive its privilege.

    The politicians were smart enough to agree with him and they waived their privilege. The lesson is that the privilege doesn’t belong to the attorney — it belongs to the client.

    Maybe someone could try playing that card here?

    Again, thanks for checking out the blog and sharing it with your readers.

    Comment by Don Ray — January 16, 2009 @ 9:27 am

  2. I’ve been feeling quite ambivalent about Don Ray due to the Grassroot institutes reputation. And also due to Ray’s unsubstantiated claims of experience and journalism credentials But more than that I wonder how long it will take until he gets up to speed and grasps some of the futility of UIPA requests and/or gets tired of banging his head against the wall.

    But who knows- maybe with enough requests he’s find the “s” in “Grassroots”

    Until then I’ll take a wait-see attitude on his work.

    Comment by Andy Parx — January 16, 2009 @ 10:43 am

  3. Don Ray’s account brought back bad memories for me from a similar experience. Hawaii’s Sunshine Law was the product of a very optimistic and liberal time in Hawaii’s politics. It established the legal presumption that Hawaii’s residents had a right to access to government documents unless the documents fell into a limited number of exempt categories.

    Over the years, that presumption has shifted. In practice, the burden is now placed upon the requestor to demonstrate a legitimate right to the information. Even strong claims are frustrated by resistance which expresses itself by the bureaucracy dragging its feet. The info is rarely provided in a timely fashion, which will frustrate all but the most dogged (or obsessed) people, leading to many folks throwing up their hands in frustration.

    The Lingle administration seems to have adopted claims of executive privilege parallel to those claimed by the Bush administration, but this inclination towards secrecy seems to be a non-partisan temptation for whomever is in control. Citizen activists of whatever stripe should come together and press for reform, from the Grassroot Institute to Common Cause and League of Women Voters-style “good government” activists and the progressives on the left of the Democratic Party.

    Strengthening our Sunshine Law would be a great step forward (or BACKWARDS to an earlier era).

    - – - – - – - -

    As to your particular request, I have heard that one of the nominees, Maui Sierra Club chair Lance Holter, was never interviewed by Lingle’s office. In a Maui news account, Russell Pang is quoted as saying they had difficulty concting some of the nominees. Lance is quoted as saying his phone number is listed in the public phone book.

    I wonder if you can get info showing what efforts the Governor’s Office made to contact Mr. Holter? Or is that beyond the scope of your interest?

    DOUG: I finally noticed that Maui News story, too!

    If the Gov’s office comes across with a privilege log, it would show who were the parties to any communication and when it occurred. We’ll see if they actually offer one up, though…

    Comment by Kolea — January 16, 2009 @ 11:04 am

  4. http://ilind.net/2008/09/30/tuesday-continuedmaui-court-decision-blasts-secrecy-of-attorney-general-legal-opinions/

    Comment by line of flight — January 19, 2009 @ 5:32 pm

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