Tuesday, October 6, 2009

SAME OLD TRICKS

SAME OLD TRICKS: When veteran Arizona reporter Anthony Sommer took the job of Honolulu Star Bulletin Kaua`i Bureau Chief- a position that has long since disappeared along with the paper’s coverage of Kaua`i- although he continued to attend Kaua`i County Council meetings, the fairly in-depth weekly coverage he had provided in his brief tenure at the local Kaua`i newspaper suddenly dried up.

And what did make it into the S-B seemed to be lacking any detail. When people asked, Tony was more than forthcoming with the reason.

Seems his editor, Frank Bilge- er Bridgewater, didn’t want all that “inside baseball” stuff -as they tend to call any detail from the neighbor islands- and in fact, the choppy copy in final articles was due to the chainsaw nature of Frank’s blue pencil.

So it shouldn’t come as any surprise that it took the Honolulu Advertiser’s part-time Kaua`i correspondent Diana Leone almost a year to produce her first in depth coverage of the Kaua`i council activities and almost five months to finally cover the fact that Lani Kawahara and Tim Bynum have been “prodding the state's smallest county to ‘move into the 21st century’ and post more government information online”.

Better late than never, Leone reports that:

More than four months later — and more than two years after Bynum first brought up the issues — the mavericks are claiming progress in their quest for equality among council members and better public access to information.

Kawahara calls the posting of council and committee meeting minutes on the county's official Web site since July 3 "a major accomplishment."

While the article does a good job of telling the story- and comparing what the council provides on-line with the other islands in a handy-dandy chart- what is implied but not stated is that absolutely no improvement has been made in the on-line access by the council to documents as a result of the actions of the two... at least according to the administration and Council Chair Kaipo Asing who claimed at the time that the posting of council minutes and recap summaries were a result of their own initiative not the push by Bynum and Kawahara.

Yes, the jobs of Kawahara and Bynum have been made easier with the availability of all documents addressed to the council as a whole being made available to them in a “binder in the council break room”- a “solution” that, although though it placated them still leaves the public without the ability to receive these supposedly public documents in a timely manner.

And now they apparently are able to introduce bills and resolutions unimpeded- the biggest outrage of all and one the Leone fails to mention.

The article does make note of how we are still the only county that doesn’t even make copies of bills and resolutions available on-line, still requiring a physical trip to Lihu`e if someone wants to interpret the agenda.

Although Bynum has done a good job of posting them himself on his and Kawahara’s kauaiinfo.org web site- although tomorrow’s meeting’s documents are nowhere to be found- it shouldn’t be up to him to spend every Friday afternoon holed up at his office scanning and posting all the minutia that makes it possible for people to do their homework so they can speak intelligently on items at council meetings- ironically enough a major complaint directed to members of the public from Asing and his 3-D Swiss Guard, Dickie (Chang), Darryl (Kaneshiro) and Derek (Kawakami).

Promises of presently posting not just the documents but live streaming video of meetings- and an indexed by subject archive of the video clips- were seemingly just another stonewalling device designed to make the all-to-used-to-being-ignored people, just go away- return to your homes... nothing to see here.

As we predicted when the two mavericks, as Leone calls them, decided a promise to “do better next time” from Asing- one that wasn’t worth the paper it wasn’t written on- was enough, they apparently crept back into the dark of the Minotaur’s labyrinth since they were now getting the documents they wanted even if the public was still in the dark.

But it sure was exciting for a month or two to think things might improve, wasn’t it?

1 comment:

Brad Parsons said...

Andy,

I hear something's in the works on this. They didn't tell me what, but I assumed it had something to do with getting the text of bills and amendments up on the Council Services website in a timely manner.
We'll see...