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House committee advances Hawaiian Home Lands secrecy bill

By Rob Perez

LAST UPDATED: 07:42 a.m. HST, Feb 06, 2014

A House committee advanced a bill that opponents say would cloak much of the homestead files for the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands in secrecy, but a Senate panel shelved the companion measure.

By a 5-0 vote on Wednesday, the House Ocean, Marine Resources & Hawaiian Affairs panel passed an amended HB 2287, which now goes to the House Judiciary Committee. On the Senate side, the Hawaiian Affairs committee killed SB 2837, citing concerns raised by DHHL homestead lessees and others.

The bill would create a special exemption in Hawaii's open-records law, making government documents related to homestead lessees and applicants confidential if the records include personal data.

That would be a significant deviation from current state law, which generally requires state and county agencies to redact confidential information from a public document -- but the redacted record remains public.

Opponents, including the state Office of Information Practices which administers Hawaii's open-records law, say the proposed measure is so broad that it would provide blanket confidentiality to many DHHL documents, including some currently considered public.

They also say sensitive personal information that DHHL is seeking to protect already is exempt from disclosure, making the legislation unnecessary.

Curtis Crabbe, a DHHL lessee from Molokai, told the Senate committee he opposed the bill.

"There isn't enough sunshine in that department," Crabbe, 57, said in an interview with the Honolulu Star-Advertiser after the committee shelved the bill. "Right now, what DHHL needs is a lot of sunshine and a lot of truth."

Supporters, including some Native Hawaiian groups, said the measure, introduced at DHHL's request, is needed to protect certain data in homestead lessee and applicant files that shouldn't be accessible to the public.

DHHL Director Jobie Masagatani told the House panel that the measure would provide clarity in determining what is exempt and would help the department advocate for the privacy of its beneficiaries. She said the goal is not to exempt documents already public, such as homestead leases. But for some records, she said, it's not clear whether they are public.

To address concerns raised by OIP, DHHL submitted an amendment that was adopted by the House committee.

But Cheryl Kakazu Park, who heads OIP, wasn't won over. "It's still way too broad," she told the panel.

Park said after the hearing that DHHL has not indicated to her office what specific types of documents need protection from disclosure. A DHHL spokesman said the department would work with the Legislature and OIP to clarify that issue.

Rep. Faye Hanohano, who heads the committee, urged Masagatani and Park to work together to come up with a better version of the bill by the time the Judiciary panel considers it.

If the legislation passes the House, it could face a tougher haul in the Senate.

Sen. Maile Shimabukuro, who heads the Senate Hawaiian Affairs committee, said she's heard from lessees and others who have many questions about the bill.

"There's just a lot of concerns raised," she told the panel.

DHHL oversees a 203,000-acre land trust for its beneficiaries, who must be at least 50 percent Hawaiian. The agency issues 99-year homestead leases for residential, ranching and farming purposes. Homesteaders pay $1 a year.

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localguy wrote:
Why would our House committee advance a bill a bill allowing DHHL to conceal documents, allowing more dysfunction to grow? Could it be many of the committee members are mentioned in DHHL documents, accepting special favors, kickbacks, or sweetheart deals? Why else with a track record of corruption, fraud and abuse being standard practice in the Nei would this bill still be alive. Clearly the passage of this bill will further set back the Nei from a clean and open government, available to the people. Just another day in Nei politics, 100 steps backwards, our standard.
on February 6,2014 | 06:55AM
lwandcah wrote:
If this law was already in place, would any of the recent "questionable leases" have been brought to light? Other than protection individual personal information which appears as though it is already protected, what is the benefit? What are they trying to hide. I can go the Honolulu Property Tax website and find out a whole bunch of information about any parcel and the owner?
on February 6,2014 | 07:54AM
South76 wrote:
Bingo, you got that right....and guess who will be the future applicants for lease on lands that are overseen by DHHL? These same politicians who are favoring this bill to become law.
on February 6,2014 | 08:51AM
Papakolea808 wrote:
Too many conspiracy theorists here. Here is what the Bill says, " Government records which include any personal data received or recorded by the department of Hawaiian home lands related to a homestead applicant or lessee, or and correspondence related to a homestead applicant or lessee." I am a Papakolea lessee and I DONT want my DHHL lease file to be accessed by anyone. Why? My mortgage is in there. My parents and children's information is in there. When I missed my payments on the mortgage and had to work out an agreement to pay the bank back...that information is in there. My complaint to DHHL about my neighbor's trash is in there. OIP may think its OK to release my info to anybody in the public...but this is MY business and MY privacy. This is unethical to release my information without me knowing about it. Imagine if it was you, your file, your family's information, your bills.
on February 6,2014 | 07:47PM
sorry Paapa Kolea, you have a public land trust, lease, and you are a customer of the Goverment. YOU signed the lease, therefore you are subject to Public Sunshine Laws. You should look past your late payment fees and see the betterment of the DHHL with Sunshine, not butting in, DHHL reports to Fair LEnding REports also, your late payments are on your credit report, if not WELL LET ME KNOW, we will bring sunshine there too, NO pilikia, just being straight
on February 7,2014 | 07:45AM
opihi123 wrote:
whoever votes for these people who would advance such a crooked law are the problem. find out what your happy go lucky representative actually does when the leg is in session , dont be part of the problem.. vote out these crooks .. dhhl is a hotbed of fraud, deceit and cheating the actual hawaiians out of their heritage..
on February 6,2014 | 07:08AM
waikiicapt wrote:
Yes, in fact wouldn't it be nice (HINT! Editors take note) if the staff writers at SA start telling the public WHO actually introduced this bill?? I believe the SA should always specifiy who introduced the bill as the lead legislator and who also co-sppnsored the bill. THAT shold be a policy for the editors on ALL articles that ocus on issues like this. This way, we all beome better informed voters. Actually, only the few of us left that bother to vote. PLEASE START TELLING YOUR READERS WHO DREAMS THIS STUFF UP AND WHO IS SPONSORING IT!!!!
on February 6,2014 | 08:50AM
Paco3185 wrote:
Joe Souki - say no more . . .
on February 6,2014 | 12:43PM
all you gotta do is read
on February 7,2014 | 07:46AM
South76 wrote:
Laws like these get passed every year because there is no checks and balances in this state...everyone--politicians and their cronies have their hands in the cookie jar and we the tax payers are left with the bills.
on February 6,2014 | 08:53AM
LanaUlulani wrote:
Mahalo for that. In both Senate and House versions of the Demoncrats, SB2837 and HB 2287 respectively, the Demoncrats have thus ludicrous sentence in it:

"3) Government records that, by their nature, must be confidential in order for the government to avoid the frustration of a legitimate government function;"

In other words they want to exempt themselves from being in the light for all local voters to see.



Next time do not vote for these Demoncrats! They are bad energy.

on February 6,2014 | 08:55AM
time for you to put up on NOvember 6, or shut up, not being unfriendly, but that is what we all say, but dont vote, MORE PILIKIA
on February 7,2014 | 07:46AM
mcc wrote:
More secrets, more distrust. When is government going to be honest???
on February 6,2014 | 07:14AM
tutulois wrote:
This is just plain disgusting. If this license to steal passes, I foresee the state having to shell out for lawyers to defend it in court. What a waste of time and money, just to protect people who already have a track record of abusing the publlc trust...i.e. taxpayers.
on February 6,2014 | 07:16AM
seaborn wrote:
I will be watching which legislators approve the bill. Any legislator that approves secrecy at a time when transparency is in fashion, needs to be noted, and voted out at election time.
on February 6,2014 | 07:20AM
DiverDave wrote:
It's not about concealing records as much as concealing the lack of records. How do you conceal an empty file folder? Time for the Attorney General to do his job and seize DHHL for a complete investigation.
on February 6,2014 | 07:20AM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
Personal data needs to be protected but that is not the thrust of this bill. This bill would establish a cloak of secrecy over everything pertaining to DHHL activities and that is just plain wrong.
on February 6,2014 | 07:23AM
Kaleo744 wrote:
My suggestion to DHHL is to send out to all Hawaiians who has received their leases and living on the land and all those Hawaiians on the "waiting List" and pose the question to them and ask them their opinion,after all isnt this all about them? if were talking about being transparent then every single State department should be the same and any private ,non-profit affiliate that has STATE involvement of any kind should also be open. Lets do a full open book policy to all of our legislatures too and see what they have in their closets. Put everything out in the open and let the people choose who they want to keep.
on February 6,2014 | 07:30AM
Kalaheo1 wrote:
That sounds like a great idea. How do you feel about limiting input on laws regarding cars to drivers and limiting input to laws regarding guns to gun owners?
on February 6,2014 | 09:42AM
hanoz808 wrote:
i wouldnt want anyone having my info...if that's the case then financial insitutions should do the same.
on February 6,2014 | 07:58AM
No, No, and again no. You are comparing apples and oranges. Please reveiw the above comments to get an understanding of what is happening here. It is not the personal information that is worrisome, it is what can transpire by a lack of transparancy by passing this bill. Please understand, the intent to protect peoples personal information is being lost due the broad nature of this bill. So again, I say NO!
on February 6,2014 | 09:29AM
DAGR81 wrote:
Who lis on this House committee and how did they vote?
on February 6,2014 | 07:58AM
ryan02 wrote:
The politicians who voted "yes" are: Faye Hanohano, Ty Cullen, Cindy Evans, Derek Kawakami, and Calvin Say. The bill goes to the House Judiciary Committee next. If people want to make their opinions known, they should submit testimony to the committee. Info on how to do it is on the Legislature's website. The Judiciary Committee is: Karl Rhoads, Sharon Har, Della Belatti, Tom Brower, Richard Creagan, Ken Ito, Derek Kawakami (we already know he will vote "yes"), Chris Lee, Mark Nakashima, Clift Tsuji, JEssica Wooley, Bob McDermott, and Cynthia Thielen.
on February 6,2014 | 08:54AM
waokele wrote:
Faye Hanohano was the one last year that didn't want any "damn Haole art in her office. This is just one more reason she would not get my vote again.
on February 6,2014 | 10:08AM
NanakuliBoss wrote:
waokele, to be fair she actually wanted " Hawaiian" artist works to be in her office. She did not pin point one race as "damn". Geez, America would be a better place if people get rid of the inside hatred.
on February 6,2014 | 12:51PM
NanakuliBoss wrote:
If people want to make their opinions known they should submit testimony. Oh , and unlike the secrecy of blog world, they cannot use blog names.
on February 6,2014 | 12:45PM
LanaUlulani wrote:

More Hewa deeds by the Demoncrats who have controlled the House and Senate in Hawai'i since 1963 thus have made all of the laws for the last 51 years that have kept government in the dark thus have kept the people in the dark.

on February 6,2014 | 08:42AM
control wrote:
Sorry Lana but republicans haven't provided any viable candidates in decades - just the usual good ole boy network with a token female.
on February 6,2014 | 10:21AM
Ronin006 wrote:
Secrecy in government breeds corruption. Kill the bills.
on February 6,2014 | 08:42AM
MC96816 wrote:
Blast from the past! Secrecy, stonewalling! Richard Nixon lives!
on February 6,2014 | 08:51AM
kaiakea wrote:
He Hawaii Au. There needs to be more transparency into this dysfunctional department, not less. Kill this bill.
on February 6,2014 | 09:13AM
Locokane wrote:
The Hawaiian Sovereignty movement takes a leap forward.
on February 6,2014 | 09:28AM
Kalaheo1 wrote:
The DHHL is a State agency. Do you have any reason to believe they are going to leave their cushy offices, high pay and little oversight and go independent?
on February 6,2014 | 09:44AM
Mythman wrote:
This is not a right that belongs to the department but it is a right of the native Hawaiians who are the folks covered by the federal statute the state is so badly administering. The guidance to the legislature is found in Title 25 and only the exact match of it there is permissible here.
on February 6,2014 | 10:10AM
salsacoquibx wrote:
on February 6,2014 | 11:33AM
Denominator wrote:
The crooks are trying to make themselves harder to catch!
on February 6,2014 | 12:25PM
entrkn wrote:
As a voter, I oppose any measure that might help such a notoriously corrupt government agency hide their dirty deals. I was already getting the opinion that DHHL should be abolished and this sleazy deal is transforming that opinion into a firm conviction.
on February 6,2014 | 02:35PM
hanalei395 wrote:
DHHL improved? Of course. ... "DHHL abolished"? That will NEVER happen.
on February 6,2014 | 03:57PM
on February 7,2014 | 09:11AM
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