ABREW FILES WRITTEN RECORDS, CLARIFICATION REQUESTS WITH COUNTY CLERK AT OIP’S URGING
(PNN) -- The release of information on the applications of prospective board and commission (B&C) members took another turn today when, on instructions from the Office of Information Practices (OIP), good government activist Rob Abrew filed for that information and also submitted a written request to “seek clarification in writing from the County Clerk’s office as to whether and to what extent all the applications received in the Clerk’s office concerning the Mayor's successful applicants to various Kauai County Boards and Commission's, will be made available to the public”.
Abrew also asked “before any additional action is taken by the Clerks Office and by the Kauai County Council on any appointments not already approved, that the Clerk respond to this request”.
Abrew’s complete letter to County Clerk Peter Nakamura is reproduced below.
In response to a request by Abrew for guidance as to how to proceed given previous OIP rulings on the matter (see PNN/gw?) Friday - COUNCIL IGNORES, FLOUTS OIP IN CONFIRMING BOARD, COMMISSION MEMBERS) the OIP’s Acting Director Cathy L. Takase told Abrew that:
We have received your email dated January 7, 2010 asking that the Office of Information Practices (OIP) review whether or not the Kauai County Council must disclose the application of a successful applicant for a county board or commission prior to their action on that applicant, i.e., where the Mayor has appointed the individual and that individual's appointment is now before the Council for confirmation. You stated that you orally asked the County Clerk's office for copies of the applications and were orally denied access to them.
OIP does not generally issue opinions based upon informal requests (i.e., oral requests) made to agencies for records under the Uniform Information Practices Act (Modified), chapter 92F, Hawaii Revised Statutes (HRS) (the UIPA). Therefore, we will not be opening a case file for your request. However, we note that you are correct that OIP has previously opined that Council confirmation of board and commission appointees must be done in an open meeting and that successful nominee applications are generally public with respect to information such as names, employment history, current occupations and education. See oip Op. Ltr. No. 05-04 (issued to Council member JoAnn Yukimura); Op. Ltr. No. 91-8 (application information to be disclosed for Governor's nominees).
It is our understanding that the meeting at which the Mayor's nominees were confirmed has passed. Given this fact, we presume that you are no longer interested in getting the actual applications, but are instead seeking to get clarification for future confirmations. Given these facts, we suggest that you seek clarification in writing from the County Clerk's office or the County Attorney's office as to whether and to what extent applications of successful mayoral nominees for boards and commissions will be made available. You may provide them with a copy of this letter, and they may consult with 01? if desired. If you receive a response that is inconsistent with the above-referenced 01P opinions, you may request an opinion at that time, enclosing a copy of your request and any written agency response received.
Although many of the nominees were confirmed last Wednesday without the information being publicly available despite a verbal request by Abrew, in today’s written document request Abrew asked for the applications of those prospective B&C members whose confirmations have been deferred because the council had to reschedule their interviews.
Verbal request for public documents related to current agenda items are always granted by council services without delay or charge. Written requests for documents can face a 10 business day delay before a response is sent, according to state law.
Since agendas need not be filed until six calendar days before a meeting, a document may not be available until well after the meeting.
According to sources, Nakamura and the council are seeking to set the responsibility for redacting the parts of the applications that do not fall into the “public interest” category- like phone numbers and other extraneous information- and releasing them.
But the OIP has said that it is the council’s responsibility to make the documents available before the meeting because the trigger for releasing the information is the public nature of the confirmation process and the public’s right to testify on each nominee armed with the information contained in the applications.
Abrew also submitted his testimony from last Wednesday’s council meeting as well as the letter from Takase along with the two requests.
The summaries and complete texts of OIP Opinion. Letters No. 91-8 and 05-04 are available on-line at:
91-8 Summery -- Full Text
05-04 Summery -- Full Text
Abrew’s letter to County Clerk Nakamura
Mr. Peter Nakamura, Kauai County Clerk
I would like to seek clarification in writing from the County Clerks office as to weather and to what extent all the applications received in the Clerks office concerning the Mayor's successful applicants to various Kauai County Boards and Commission's , will be made available to the public.
This clarification is in response to a oral request for these applications that was denied on January 4 2010 from this Office at the counter.
I would ask the County Clerk to respond to this request for clarification as soon as possible due to a letter I received from the State of Hawaii Office of Information Practices on January 8 2010. This letter addresses a previous letter sent to The County Clerks Office IE.. OIP 05-04. This letter is attached to this request.
I also ask before any additional action is taken by the Clerks Office and by the Kauai County Council on any appointments not already approved that the Clerk respond to this request
I have also included in this request for clarification, the testimony I presented to the County Council on 1-05-10. This testimony describes in detail my concerns with information not available to the public as required by law for the County Council to review and act on the Mayor’s selected appointments to various County Boards and Commissions.