Governor Abercrombie
Governor Neil Abercrombie
Governor Abercrombie
Governor Neil Abercrombie

Big Island Press Club Gives Abercrombie Lava Tube Award for Lack of Transparency

The Big Island Press Club this week gave Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie the dubious honor of naming him the recipient of the club’s 15th annual Lava Tube award for a number of his actions last year. Like the lava tube itself, the award recognizes the year’s most notable offense for keeping the public in the dark.

The Press Club also honors the best efforts to promote openness in Hawaii with the Torch of Light award, which is also presented annually since 1997. The Torch of Light was awarded this year to the Judicial Selection Commission for releasing the names of Abercrombie’s judicial nominees when he refused. An Honorable Mention went to the Star-Advertiser for its efforts, including litigation, to obtain release of the names.

It takes only one “indictment” for an elected or appointed official, commission or board to be dishonored with the Lava Tube, but, in Abercrombie’s case, BIPC settled on two:

* Abercrombie refused to name his list of nominees to fill a state Supreme Court vacancy, forcing the Star-Advertiser to sue, saying the secrecy violated the state’s Uniform Information Practices Act. The state Supreme Court agreed. When the Office of Information Practices — the state’s watchdog agency charged with overseeing open records and public meeting laws — opined in the Star-Advertiser’s favor, Abercrombie replaced the agency’s acting director.

* The governor created, in secret, an emergency declaration suspending for five years dozens of regulations protecting shoreline access, historic preservation, air and water quality and other environmental and land use laws in order to begin removing military ordnance with no notice to the public.

The Lava Tube award is announced each year on March 16, Freedom of Information Day, honoring the birthday of James Madison. Born in 1751, Madison was author of the U.S. constitution and the foremost advocate for openness.

“Freedom of Information Day is a great reminder that the public’s right to know is just that, a right. It should not and will not be compromised,” said BIPC President Yisa Var. “The Big Island Press Club is happy to use these awards as a way to bring into the foreground those governing bodies that have done the best and the worst at upholding this freedom.”

(submitted by the Big Island Press Club, Hawaii’s oldest continuously active press club.)

Media Musical Chairs

The Hawaii Community Media Council notes the “Shift Change in Hawaii Media” in a post today pointing out staff changes:

  • “Minna Sugimoto is leaving Hawaii News Now for a PR job, Today
  • “Ron Mizutani announced his plans to leave KHON for CommPac , March 21
  • “Charles Memminger joined CommPac, March 16
  • “Oskar Garcia named new AP Hawaii editor, March 21
  • “Civil Beat: Dan Zelikman (March 17) and Kathryn Poythress (March 12) left, Nathan Eagle joined (March 12), Adrienne LaFrance began writing for Harvard’s Nieman Lab (March 7).
  • “Jodi Leong left KITV for UH (March 2)
  • “Genie Garner, New Director at KITV left for the mainland (February 22)

Not in the media council report, but also noteworthy:

Andrew Pereira left KHON TV 2 News for KITV News.

Keoki Kerr left KITV News for Hawaii News Now.

Honolulu Mayoral Candidate Kirk Caldwell Gets Trade Union Endorsements

Honolulu Mayoral Candidate Kirk Caldwell got six trade union endorsements yesterday from the leaders of the Plumbers & Fitters Local 675, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1186, Elevator Constructors Local 126, Insulators and Allied Workers Local 132, Boilermakers Local 627 and Iron Workers Local 625.

Caldwell is the former managing director under then Mayor Mufi Hannemann, and took over briefly as Honolulu mayor when Hannemann resigned to run for governor in 2010. Caldwell ran for mayor in 2010, but lost the election to Honolulu Mayor Peter Carlisle.

The union leaders touted Caldwell for his support of the city’s controversial rail project and Ho’opili housing development on the ewa plain.

Reginald Castanares, Business Manager and Financial Secretary for the Plumbers & Fitters Local 675, said: “And, yes, Kirk supports rail. But, this election is about so much more than that project. It’s about the buses that take people to and from their jobs, the HandiVan, bus passes, it’s about protecting people and their property, filling potholes and repaving the roads. Kirk will be a Mayor who understands the details, rolls up his sleeves, digs in, gets serious, brings people together, listens to ideas and solves problems.”

Damien Kim, Business Manager and Financial Secretary for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1186, added: “Kirk is a strong supporter of the planned Ho’opili project, a connected, life-style enhanced, sustainable community which will result in 27,000 construction, professional and support-related positions over the life of the project, and approximately 7,000 direct permanent jobs.”

 

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