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Editorial | Island Voices

Respect citizenry via judicial selection transparency

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The many perspectives regarding Gov. Neil Abercrombie’s decision to keep the names of judgeship candidates secret were explored in last Sunday’s Star-Advertiser article, “Abercrombie bucks trend on judgeships.”

Those in favor say publicizing names deters applicants. However, I’ve never heard anyone say that being considered for a judgeship hurt his or her career.

Snubbing citizenry who wish to know candidates’ names, makes me think of Aretha Franklin’s hit tune, “Respect” — as in “give me a little r-e-s-p-e-c-t.”  

In short, it is more an issue of respect for the citizenry than gubernatorial precedent.

Plus, in all matters of government, more transparency is better than less transparency.

I am inclined to think that public participation in the decision-making process must have been in the minds of those who crafted the 1978 consti-tutional amendment that created the Judicial Selection Commission.

Prior to this, the governor offered a candidate for Senate approval without candidates being vetted by a commission of appointed citizenry.

Perhaps the legislators realized that governors tend to be more collaborative and interested in public opinion when they are seeking votes.

Once elected, they can become more authoritarian.

It’s not going so well for authoritarian figures these days and it’s always good for any politician to listen, i.e., be respectful, to their constituents rather than respond, as the article said, with a flip reply: “If somebody else wants to run on that (issue) for governor, they can.”

In other words: Be my guest, or bug off.

As noted, the governor has the authority and responsibility to choose judges without input from the community.

Likewise, he is not obligated to inform the citizenry of his deliberations in this matter.

Yet, as the state’s highest-ranking elected official, he is beholden to every citizen.

His first few steps as governor may be indicative of how Abercrombie will walk, then run, when he hits his stride, which he has not yet.

That’s why I’d advise him to not buck public opinion on this issue.

Releasing candidates’ names is not merely catering to public opinion; it provides the governor with an opportunity to hear public comment, and allows the public to see the workings of government.

Both are worthwhile and show respect for the citizenry.

So, please sing it one more time, Aretha.

Hana hou.

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