Monday, October 26, 2020
Hawai'i Free Press

Current Articles | Archives

Friday, May 22, 2020
Pandemic no excuse for government hostility to sunshine laws
By Selected News Articles @ 3:36 PM :: 1896 Views :: Maui County, First Amendment, COVID-19

Pandemic no excuse for government hostility to sunshine laws

“Information allows people to scrutinise the actions of a government and is the basis for proper, informed debate of those actions.” (The Public’s Right to Know: Principles on Freedom of Information Legislation, London, 1999, p. 1.)

The founding fathers recognized the connection between democratic government and an informed populace. George Washington, who suffered more than his share of criticism from the press, believed in the importance of the free exchange of ideas in a democracy. He once wrote that the process was necessary so Citizens at large may be well informed, and decide, with respect to public measures, upon a thorough knowledge of the facts. Concealment is a species of misinformation." (James E. Pollard, The Presidents and the Press, 1947, pp. 29-30)

by Larry Geller, Disappeared News, May 19, 2020

Given the chance, many government boards, commissions and even the Hawaii State Legislature will take the opportunity to operate out of the public view. The current COVID-19 crisis coupled with Governor David Ige’s emergency proclamations have made it easier for government bodies to overstep their discretion in locking the public out of the public’s business.

This morning attorney Lance Collins submitted a written demand that the Maui Planning Commission's contested case proceedings related to the Grand Wailea Resorts proposed expansion be reopened to the public. Disappeared News and The Hawai'i Independent are media organizations making this demand.

The issue before the Maui Planning Commission is the request by the Grand Wailea Resort to remodel and expand its operations within the Special Management Area.

Three Native Hawaiian community groups, Malama Kakanilua, Hooponopono o Makena and Pele Defense Fund were granted intervention in the proceedings and the Commission appointed Maui attorney Linden Joesting as the hearings officer.

On May 7, the hearings officer issued an order denying that the proceedings were required to be open to the public, reaffirming an earlier decision that the proceedings move forward regardless of the COVID-19 emergency or the stay at home orders on the basis of needing to "get the administrative law work of the County done."

Relying upon First Amendment caselaw protecting the press' right to access adjudicative proceedings, the media groups have also noted Hawaii's long tradition and experience of open access to contested case proceedings especially related to land use.

The letter includes these points:

“In summary, the Media demand that the proceedings for the above-mentioned contested case be re-opened to the public without qualification or delay. Article I, Section 4 of the Hawaii State Constitution and the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, as well as the requirements of the Charter of the County of Maui, impose upon the Maui Planning Commission and its hearings officers, an obligation to conduct contested case proceedings including prehearing conferences in a manner accessible the public and the press.”

Disappeared News feels that it is important to clarify that actions of government be completely transparent—and that the coronavirus crisis not be used as an “excuse” to deny the public its rights. There’s no question that government does have the ability and in the context of public health or national security and public order, or the rights of others like privacy, to impose some rules and limitations. But to place limits on the public’s right to see or participate in the actions of its government, the restrictions need to meet tests of necessity. The denial by the hearings officer does not meet standards of necessity.

Additionally, there is a long tradition and experience of open access to contested case proceedings especially related to land use.

"There has been a total disregard for the rights of the public and the press to access and observe this important case. We sincerely hope the Commission reconsiders this decision immediately," said journalist Victor Gregor Limon.

"This time of emergency does not justify government secrecy. The Resort is certainly not entitled to have their permits fast-tracked behind closed doors while public gatherings are banned and also excluding the press."

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.  NonCommercial-ShareAlike.

RELATED:

PDF: Download 200519 Media Letter to Maui Planning Commission from Disappeared News

DN: The issue behind the Grand Wailea Resort contested case proceedings: desecration of sacred gravesites

KITV: Maui media petitioning Supreme Court to publicize planning commission hearings 

KITV: Petition demands public hearings for Grand Wailea Maui Resort 

MT: Groups Seek Supreme Court Order to Reopen Maui Planning Commission Meetings

Links

TEXT "follow HawaiiFreePress" to 40404

Register to Vote

2aHawaii

808 Silent Majority

ACA Signups Hawaii

ALEC

Alliance Defending Freedom

Aloha Pregnancy Care Center

American Council of Trustees and Alumni

AntiPlanner

Antonio Gramsci Reading List

A Place for Women in Waipio

Astronomy Hawaii

Ballotpedia Hawaii

Better Hawaii

Blaisdell Memorial Project

Broken Trust

Build More Hawaiian Homes Working Group

ChinaTownWatch.com

Christian Homeschoolers of Hawaii

Cliff Slater's Second Opinion

Coffee Break

DeedySupport.com

DVids Hawaii

E Hana Kakou Kelii Akina

FIRE

Fix Oahu!

Follow the Money Hawaii

Frank in Hawaii

Front Page Magazine

Frontline: The Fixers

Genetic Literacy Project

Grassroot Institute

Habele.org

Hawaii Aquarium Fish Report

Hawaii Aviation Preservation Society

Hawaii Catholic TV

Hawaii Christian Coalition

Hawaii Cigar Association

Hawaii Coalition Against Legalized Gambling

Hawaii ConCon Info

Hawaii Credit Union Watch

Hawaii Crop Improvement Association

Hawaii Debt Clock

Hawaii Defense Foundation

Hawaii Family Advocates

Hawaii Family Forum

Hawaii Farmers and Ranchers United

Hawaii Farmer's Daughter

Hawaii Federalist Society

Hawaii Federation of Republican Women

Hawaii Future Project

Hawaii Gathering of Eagles

Hawaii History Blog

Hawaii Homeschool Association

Hawaii Jihadi Trial

Hawaii March for Life

Hawaii's Partnership for Appropriate & Compassionate Care

Hawaii Public Charter School Network

Hawaii Rifle Association

Hawaii Shippers Council

Hawaii Smokers Alliance

Hawaii State Data Lab

Hawaii Together

Heritage Foundation

HIEC.Coop

HiFiCo

Hiram Fong Papers

Homeschool Legal Defense Hawaii

Honolulu Navy League

Honolulu Traffic

House Minority Blog

I Vote Hawaii

If Hawaii News

Imua TMT

Inouye-Kwock, NYT 1992

Inside the Nature Conservancy

Inverse Condemnation

Investigative Project on Terrorism

Iowa Meets Maui

Jackson v Abercrombie

Jihad Watch

July 4 in Hawaii

Kahle v New Hope

Kakaako Cares

Kau TEA Party

Kauai Co GOP

Keep Hawaii's Heroes

KeyWiki

Land and Power in Hawaii

Legislative Committee Analysis Tool

Lessons in Firearm Education

Lingle Years

Malulani Foundation

Managed Care Matters -- Hawaii

Malama Pregnancy Center of Maui

Mauna Kea Recreational Users Group

MentalIllnessPolicy.org

Middle East Forum--The Legal Project

Mililani Conservatives for Change

Military Home Educators' Network Oahu

Missile Defense Advocacy

MIS Veterans Hawaii

Muslim Brotherhood in America

NAMI Hawaii

NARTH

Natatorium.org

National Christian Foundation Hawaii

National Parents Org Hawaii

National Wind Watch

New Hawaiian

New Zeal

NFIB Hawaii News

No GMO Means No Aloha

Northwest Economic Policy Seminar

Not Dead Yet, Hawaii

Now What I Really Think

NRA-ILA Hawaii

Oahu Alternative Transport

ObamaCare Abortion Hawaii

Obookiah

OHA Lies

Opt Out Today

OurFutureHawaii.com

Pacific Aviation Museum

Patients Rights Council Hawaii

PEACE Hawaii

People vs Machine

Pritchett Cartoons

Pro-GMO Hawaii

P.U.E.O.

RailRipoff.com

Rental by Owner Awareness Assn

Republican Party -- Hawaii State

Research Institute for Hawaii USA

Rick Hamada Show

RJ Rummel

Robotics Organizing Committee

Save Dillingham Airfield

School Choice in Hawaii

SenatorFong.com

Sink the Jones Act

Statehood for Guam

Tax Foundation of Hawaii

The Real Hanabusa

Time Out Honolulu

Trustee Akina KWO Columns

UCC Truths

US Tax Foundation Hawaii Info

VAREP Honolulu

Waagey.org

West Maui Taxpayers Association

What Natalie Thinks

Whole Life Hawaii

Yes2TMT