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Ian Lind • Now online daily from Old Kahala

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Check out the Ohio Coalition for Open Government

October 3rd, 2015 · No Comments

Advocates of transparency and openness in government might want to check out the Ohio Coalition for Open Government, which provides an example how to press for more sunshine.

The group’s website provides this description:

The Ohio Coalition for Open Government (OCOG) is a tax-exempt 501 (c)(3) corporation established by the Ohio Newspapers Foundation in June 1992. The Coalition is operated for charitable and educational purposes by conducting and supporting activities to benefit those who seek compliance with public access laws. It is also affiliated with a national network of similar state coalitions.

The Coalition serves as a clearinghouse for media and citizen grievances that involve open meetings and open records, and offers guidance to reporters in local government situations. The activities of the Coalition include monitoring government officials for compliance, filing “amicus” briefs in lawsuits, litigation and public education.

The OCOG board includes media representatives, attorneys, and a representative from Common Cause.

The group recently analyzed decisions by the Ohio Supreme Court in open government cases over the past five years. In 32 cases analyzed, after excluding routine prisoner appeals and eight cases that had mixed results, the justice sided with restricting or denying access in 62.5% of the cases, and in favor of open government in 37.5%.

The spreadsheet summarizing each of the cases makes for interesting reading, as does the organization’s newsletter, the “Open Government Report,” which is published twice a year (the most recent issue ran 20 pages).

It obviously takes a lot of work to keep this kind of coalition going. Honolulu once supported an active Sunshine Law Coalition, but I’m afraid it faded away decades ago.

According to the League of Women Voters of Honolulu, in 1980 the coalition included the Media Council, Honolulu Journalists Assn., The Hawaii Press Club, Common Cause, Kokua Council for Senior Citizens, Prof. John Luter of UH Journalism Dept., Marilyn Bornhorst, the Hawaii Ctte for Freedom of the Press, and the League of Women Voters.

→ No CommentsTags: Media · Politics · Sunshine

Is Hawaii helped or hindered by overlapping Congressional committee assignments?

October 2nd, 2015 · 5 Comments

An email from a reader this week raised a question about Hawaii’s Congressional delegation.

In talking with some friends last night, we got to talking about the dynamics of Hawaii’s congressional delegation…

Someone brought up the point that BOTH Gabbard and Takai serve on the Armed Services committee. I don’t think 2 members have ever served on the same committee in the same chamber.

I understand having counterparts in the other House to make sure the look out for Hawaii’s interest no matter which side legislation may be working its way through the process. But with House members limited to the number of committees they serve on, do we really need both our members serving on one committee? Couldn’t they spread their assignments to cover more area and kuleana to issues that affect Hawaii? Why would we waste a key committee assignment when we already have one member from our state serving on armed services.

It’s an interesting question. To be honest, I had never really thought about the overlapping committee assignments until this question was raised here.

Just eyeballing past committee assignments, it looks like the state’s two House members did traditionally tackle different committees, giving the state a broader legislative reach.

Neil Abercrombie was a longtime member of the Armed Services Committee, as were the 1st District representatives who followed, including Charles Djou, Colleen Hanabusa, and now Mark Takai.

But when Gabbard was first elected in 2012, she apparently sought and was given a seat on Armed Services, although Colleen Hanabusa already served on the committee. And when Takai was elected, he also took a seat on the committee, although Gabbard was already there.

Of course, they are also assigned to subcommittees, where the two do not overlap. How much difference does that make? I don’t know.

Any thoughts on this? Is this arrangement best for the voters Gabbard and Takai represent? Share your thoughts.

→ 5 CommentsTags: Politics

Feline Friday: Duke gets some good news

October 2nd, 2015 · 2 Comments

Mr. DukeWe got some good news when we got back from last week’s college reunion.

Duke and Kili boarded at VCA while we were gone, and had another round of fructosamine tests to assess their diabetes. Duke’s test showed that his diabetes are under “good” control, while Kili’s level is only “fair”. So we’re adjusting Kili’s dose of insulin to try to get her levels into the “good” zone. It’s all trial and error at this point.

Back home, the cats are still calming down, but the process of adjusting is very, very slow. The cats are still on guard, worried about the different noises from the street, or from neighboring houses, the lights at night, lots of little things like that.

But they are eating well, and slowly, very slowly, getting used to the totality of their surroundings and calming down.

–> See all of today’s Friday Felines!

→ 2 CommentsTags: Cats · Photographs

Throwback Thursday: Back to 814 Boyer

October 1st, 2015 · 1 Comment

Back in 1969, while a senior at Whitman College, I shared a house with a couple of friends at 814 Boyer, just a couple of blocks from the campus. At some point in the year, Meda became a frequent visitor. The rest is history.

While preparing for our recent trip to Walla Walla for a Whitman reunion, I found an old snapshot of Meda taken in front of the house on Boyer.

When we arrived in Walla Walla last week, not only was the house still there, but it looked almost unchanged over the ensuing decades. A railing had been added to the front steps, but otherwise it appeared pretty much the same as it had been back in our day.

So, of course, I had to pose Meda for another photo, a “then & now” shot.

I did knock on the door and ask the current resident if he would mind us shooting the picture. When he saw the picture and heard that we were trying to recreate the 1969 photo, he got pretty excited!

So here it is, 814 Boyer, then and now.

As usual, just click on the picture to see a larger version.

Walla Walla, Washington

→ 1 CommentTags: History · Photographs

Campaign Spending Commission seeking feedback

October 1st, 2015 · No Comments

The Campaign Spending Commission is seeking feedback via an online survey, which asks about whether or not you have used a variety of commission resources.

From the commission’s website:

Our web-based survey is easy to use and will take about 5-10 minutes to complete. You will be asked questions about your background and relationship with the Commission, your experience in communicating with and access to the Commission, education and training provided by the Commission, compliance and enforcement, public funding, and other general matters. The results of the survey will be reported in the aggregate form and you will remain anonymous. We intend to publicly release our findings.

The deadline for survey responses is November 1.

Click here to take the survey.

→ No CommentsTags: General