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?


  1. Wow… what a task you have at hand. I don’t understand why “they”… the powers that be, didn’t think to digitize these to begin with. Or maybe they have been and someone is withholding digital files somewhere?

    Look forward to see what comes of this.

    I’m so not going digging!

    Comment by damon — July 25, 2010 @ 7:39 pm

  2. I’m thinking back now again why you may have been included in the list of bloggers that were being blackballed by DPW on the Big Island and thinking… hmm?


    Comment by damon — July 25, 2010 @ 7:44 pm

  3. Thanks, Doug!

    Some small typos:

    Line 1300 “Leimomi Kuan” should be Leimomi Khan.

    In multiple places, you have Richard Port listed as representing “Hawaii Independent Concominium and Cooperative Owners.” I suspect you mean “Condominium.”

    Comment by Kolea — July 26, 2010 @ 8:23 am

  4. I know the bill number of the legislation that DaGov vetoed on July 10 and the Legislature over-rode in the Special Session on July 15: SB266CD1/Act 20 Special Session 2009.

    Have you worked on it yet?

    It only took me four years to get the concept passed. However, she has effectively killed it by refusing to release the funds.

    Re your response in an earlier blog about working at the Legislature. Although I was very much involved at the Legislature during the last four sessions that you were working for Nestor Garcia, I don’t recall ever having talked to him or his staff about public safety/military matters. Now that the two are split up with the latter assigned to one of the economic matters committees chaired by Angus McKelvey – I do have dealings with him on a fairly regular basis.

    As for Marilyn Lee, she’s my go-to person on any piece of legislation which winds up before the Finance Committee; however, I’ve always dealt with her directly.

    Are you a full-time blogger? How do you support yourself? I had a full-on blog from mid-1999 through the end of 2006, but I finally had to admit that couldn’t do everything by myself – content, techstuff, advertising sales – so I reluctantly shut it down although I do keep the domain name alive.

    Comment by Capitol -ist/WassupDoc — July 26, 2010 @ 8:42 am

  5. @Kolea I have made those corrections. Mahalo for pointing them out.

    @CWD Have I “worked on” SB266? Not yet. My plan is to work in order of Acts passed, and if that was a veto override it would be toward the end of the process.

    And no, as my posting (in)activity of the past year would illustrate, I am not a “full-time blogger.” I have a non-political, non-media job. It is blue collar, even. Shocked? :)

    I remember your blog well.

    Comment by Doug — July 26, 2010 @ 4:32 pm

  6. What is a F/T blogger and how do I get a position? :roll:

    Time spent on one blog can vary due to degree of knowledge of what they are doing.

    It’s the time spent finding the content that is what is costing newspapers big time.

    I’m glad neither of us would rely upon our blogs for income.

    Comment by damon — July 26, 2010 @ 7:01 pm

  7. “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?”

    Maybe they did it to make your life miserable. After all you are/were a Democrat staffer. Why would they work hard to please you? Foot dragging does not in itself prove that there is something negative within.

    Of all these records, what is the most damning thing you have found? So far your primary negative comments have been that you don’t see Duke Aiona’s name very often and you don’t view the list as broadly inclusive. It is difficult to place much weight on either of those opinions because we don’t know context. For instance, how many UN-solicited opinions had the Gov already received before soliciting more?

    Comment by Joan of Arc — July 27, 2010 @ 9:24 pm

  8. @Joan of Arc You asked why would the Governor work hard to please me [by complying with my records request]? Well, not to put too fine a tip on it, they should have responded in a more timely manner because it is the law.

    The most “damning” thing I have found is that the Governor does not respect the UIPA process. No surprise there, that’s pretty much universal among politicians.

    As for the content of the records, what elicits my commentary is hardly the point. I’ll let the documents speak for themselves as I continue to catalog and scan them. Have patience.

    Comment by Doug — July 28, 2010 @ 4:25 am

  9. Re Aiona’s role, I gather that in past Democratic administrations, the Lt. Gov. (Waihee, Cayetano, Hirono) sat in on Veto meetings (and none of them were flower pots)– perhaps no written comments but may be some discussions over the table. . . . Nevertheless, it is mystifying that the administration took so long to comply with your request (on the other hand, they did effectively close down your blog, in effect, during an interesting year of ups and downs at the legislature that your take was sorely missed on, except for your occasional commentary).

    Comment by Nikki Heat — July 29, 2010 @ 4:30 pm

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