Parsing the words, dodging the truth – The Reapportionment Commission at work

The Hawaii Reapportionment Commission is hiding the truth about their practice of using the home addresses of incumbent legislators as criteria to be considered when re-drawing district maps. That’s what it looks like anyway. I welcome the qualified opinions of others, including actual lawyers who know this stuff better than I do.

Actually, I would really welcome a response from the Reapportionment Commission explaining why they are avoiding a direct answer. What are they afraid of?

According to the Hawai’i state constitution Article 4 (Reapportionment) Section 6 #2 states – “No district shall be so drawn as to unduly favor a person or political faction.”

I have been told by numerous competent and credible individuals that the Reapportionment Commission was provided early in the process with the home address of all incumbent legislators.

Numerous media accounts have described the impacts the proposed maps will have on various legislators, and some have complained about how their districts were treated.

It appears that the Reapportionment Commission has taken into consideration the potential impact of their new maps on the districts of incumbent legislators, as part of their decision making process.

Rumor has it that the “mapping program” used by the Commission includes the home addresses of all incumbent legislators. Apparently with the flip of a switch, their home address location light up on the maps so commissioners know exactly how the new maps will impact incumbents.

Tell me again how including the home addresses of incumbent legislators into the active decision making process does not “unduly favor a person or political faction”?

One would think the process would be conducted “blind” of political implications.

One would think.

In the off chance that the information that came to me from a wide variety of sources was wrong, on January 25, I sent a formal Uniform Information Protection Act (UIPA) request to the Reapportionment Commission.

A UIPA request is similar to a Freedom of Information Act request, but for State and County agencies.

My UIPA request sent on January 25 requested:
1. All documents, including e-mails, maintained, received or sent by the State Reapportionment Commission, its members, or its staff that includes the home addresses of currently elected members of the State House of Representatives or the State Senate, or any reference or discussion pertaining to the home address of any currently elected member of the State House or the State Senate. The home addresses may be redacted.

On Feb. 4th the Reapportionment Commission replied:
“Attached is our response…
THIS NOTICE IS TO INFORM YOU THAT YOUR RECORD REQUEST:
Cannot be granted. Agency is unable to disclose the requested records for the following reason: Agency does not maintain the records. (HRS § 92F-3)”

I responded on Feb. 4th:
“Thank you for the reply which though leaves me confused.

Are you saying the Reapportionment Commission does not maintain records of emails or other communications between Commissioners and or staff and others including the public on issues pertaining to the work being done by the Commission?

Please help my to better understand your response.”

To which the Commission replied also on Feb. 4th:
“No, I understood your request to provide specifically:

All documents, including e-mails, maintained, received or sent by the State Reapportionment Commission, its members, or its staff that includes the home addresses of currently elected members of the State House of Representatives or the State Senate, or any reference or discussion pertaining to the home address of any currently elected member of the State House or the State Senate. The home addresses may be redacted.

I have no documents, including e-mails, maintained, received or sent by the State Reapportionment Commission, its members, or its staff that includes the home addresses of currently elected members of the State House of Representatives or the State Senate, or any reference or discussion pertaining to the home address of any currently elected member of the State House or the State Senate.

Have I misunderstood your request?”

To which after a few days of reflection and consultation I replied on Feb. 7th:
“I want to mahalo you again for the earlier response and clarification.

So sorry to bother you with one more question.

Can you clarify whether you or the Commission asked each of its members whether they have any of the documents referenced in the UIPA request?

I understand when you say “I have no documents…etc” but it’s unclear whether the members of the commission may have any of the documents requested or whether they were asked.

Thank you in advance for any additional clarity you can offer on this particular question.”

The Commission on February 9th then replied:
“I am following up for a response. I should be able to reply today.”

Later on February 9th the Commission replied again:
“I apologize. I cannot answer your question. Please bear with me. I will follow up.”

On Feb. 16th I reply:
“Do you have an ETA as to an answer?

Then on February 17 the Commission said:
“Please see attached response to your UIPA request.
Cannot be granted. Agency is unable to disclose the requested records for the following reason: Agency does not maintain the records. (HRS § 92F-3)”

To which I replied also on February 17:
“From your response, it remains unclear as to whether or not a request was made to the commissioners and related staff, as to whether or not they were in possession of the documents/information requested.

Did you or anyone from your office request from the commissioners the information being requested in my UIPA?

Can you be clear on this?

Please?”

Today, as of February 20th I continue to await a response (and will update this blog if/when a response is received).

While the response from the Reapportionment Commission has been relatively timely, courteous, and professional – they have been less than forthcoming.

They have most likely not outright lied to me, but they have certainly been less than forthcoming, just shy of disingenuous, without a doubt misleading, and very close to lying.

It seems highly improbable if not impossible that there has been no discussion or communication between the public and Commission members, or between Commission members themselves, and/or staff – referencing or pertaining to the home address of elected members of the State House or the State Senate.

It is further highly unlikely that the conversations and communications that did pertain to this topic were all conducted orally and there are no records either paper or electronic.

The Reapportionment Commission appears willing to hide/dodge the truth on what I believe is a basic, fair, and essential question.

It’s sad really. This is not how democracy is supposed to work.

About garyhooser

This blog represents my thoughts as an individual person and does not represent the official position of any organization I may be affiliated with. I presently serve as volunteer President of the Hawaii Alliance for Progressive Action (H.A.P.A.) www.hapahi.org I am the former Vice-Chair of the Democratic Party of Hawaii. In another past life, I was an elected member of the Kauai County Council, a Hawaii State Senator, and Majority Leader, and the Director of Environmental Quality Control for the State of Hawaii - in an even earlier incarnation I was an entrepreneur and small business owner. Yes, I am one of the luckiest guys on the planet. Please visit my website AND sign up for my newsletter (unlike any email newsletter you have ever gotten, of that I am sure) - http://www.garyhooser.com/#four “Come to the edge.” “We can’t. We’re afraid.” “Come to the edge.” “We can’t. We will fall!” “Come to the edge.” And they came. And he pushed them. And they flew. - Christopher Logue (b.1926)
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1 Response to Parsing the words, dodging the truth – The Reapportionment Commission at work

  1. scottypoppins says:

    Once again, obfuscation and a total lack of transparency from our government. Truly amazing, the denialism.

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