by Andrew Walden
The State of Hawaii Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) has agreed to fulfill a Hawai’i Free Press Uniform Information Practices Act (UIPA) request for the check registers of four of OHA’s seven known limited liability corporations (LLCs).
This is in addition to three other OHA LLCs covered by a court order.
In the wake of First Circuit Court Judge Jeffrey Crabtree’s March 29, 2019 Minute Order directing OHA to comply with a UIPA request for three of its LLCs, Hawai’i Free Press submitted, May 20, 2019, a separate UIPA request for records of the other four.
After six weeks of no response, in a July 2, 2019, letter to the State Office of Information Practices, OHA’s newly appointed interim CEO, Sylvia Hussey, finally acknowledges:
…the status of Hi'ilei Aloha LLC, Ho'okele Pono LLC, and Hi'ipaka LLC, as agencies for UIPA purposes, was…determined and finalized through the written Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law (FOFCOL) and Order of the Honorable Jeffrey P. Crabtree, filed on June 25, 2019…. Furthermore, the June 25th final FOFCOL and Order determined that Hi'ilei Aloha LLC, Ho'okele Pono LLC, and Hi'ipaka LLC, as a subsidiary of Hi'ilei Aloha LLC, are each an agency for UIPA purposes of HRS §92F-3. To this end, the court set a 30-day deadline for the production of the check registers and tasked Hi'ilei Aloha LLC, Ho'okele Pono LLC, and Hi'ipaka LLC--not OHA--with complying with the court's order. Now that it is final, the court's ruling informed the application of the UIPA to the subsidiary LLCs covered by the instant Records Request-Ho'okipaipai LLC, Hi'ikualono LLC, Hi'ipoi LLC, and Ho'opakeu LLC….
This implies that Hussey does not intend to appeal Judge Crabtree’s decision.
Initially, neither OHA nor the LLCs responded to the May 20, 2019, request. Likewise they did not respond to a letter from the Office of Information Practices (OIP), June 12, 2019. But a second OIP letter to OHA and the LLCs went out June 25, 2019—just as Judge Crabtree was issuing his Final Order.
OHA’s response comes just two days after the departure of former OHA CEO Kamana’o Crabbe.
After spending tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees to defend an absurd theory that OHA LLCs were not part of the state government and therefore not subject to UIPA, the LLCs demanded pre-payment of $911.08 to cover the alleged cost of producing a copy of the four LLCs check registers “within 30 days upon receipt of payment.” Implying that the records request is not in the public interest, Hi’ilei Aloha COO Mona Bernardino adds, “…we're not able to waive the $60 (public interest) fee….”
The check is in the mail -- but it should be noted that these charges can dissuade many requesters from exercising their rights under UIPA.
Records of the three LLCs covered by Judge Crabtree’s Final Order are due July 25, 2019 at no charge.
PDF: OHA Response Letter