Tuesday, February 05, 2008


A solution to parking at the State Capitol

by Larry Geller

It's so frustrating to arrive at the Capitol and find that a number of parking meters have been turned into preferential parking. They have little paper bags on them. I guess restricting already limited parking further is one way to limit public participation. Pesky public. Things go faster without them, right?

If Hawaii is supposed to be the high-tech center of the Pacific, how about using technology to expand public access? I know it's kind of radical. No, not the technology, just the idea of increasing public participation.

Like, well, giving Neighbor Islanders an equal chance to have their say.

Just submitting testimony, while a good idea, is not enough. Committee chairs often just leaf through it and may or may not even note whether the testimony is for or opposed to the bill. Forget about them taking any comments or suggestions you may write into consideration just because it appears in written testimony.

Teleconferencing is the obvious first thought. Either have "satellite" offices people can go to near their home or work, or better yet, let them use those little camera things that often come with laptops or which can be bought for very little these days. And any VOIP service like Skype that permits video to be transmitted. Even without the video, the point is to permit testimony to be given "in person" without having to give up a day's work (let's face it, the oil company executives, the HMSA lobbyists and their ilk are paid to be there. Others have to use personal time).

So you'd either watch the proceedings in a little window on your screen while you do something else, or you'd get a call when you are about to have your chance. Doesn't matter if you are in Hilo or Hana. You get your picture up on the screen, you get to say your piece, and you get to answer questions.

Avatar Love on Meez.com Or how about this, in a promo for an application using Amazon Web Services:

Meez - Enables you to create animated 3D avatars, hang out and chat with friends in virtual rooms and play games in one rich online environment (www.meez.com).

This idea boggles the mind a bit anyway. I thought I had to meet my friends over coffee to talk with them, or I might go down to Chinatown for an outdoor game of chess maybe. Now this is no longer necessary. And I can even have a tattoo in some weird place they wouldn't know about. Or my avatar could.

This could revolutionize the entire idea of friendship. Even the need to buy clothes or bathe. Or the need to go down to the Legislature to testify. I could just send my avatar to handle this or any other interaction formerly requiring me to be there in person. 

My non-profit board could stay home and not be bothered with the monthly meetings. We could also have real participation from those on other islands. We could have virtual speakers. And save money on lunch expenses. Not to mention no more parking problems. And maybe I could give up the car one day entirely (or design the car avatar of my dreams!). If everyone met this way, we wouldn't have gridlock on the H-1. No more commutes to work.

I'm getting carried away. Maybe that's because I'm looking at trudging down to the Capitol later today to do my civic duty and try to defeat Calvin Say's bill to blow the caps off of corporate campaign contributions.

I'd love to send an avatar. Should it be mean or friendly? Should it be business-like or sexy? What gender would be best? What personality would influence this particular committee chair?


C'mon, help me out, yell about that bill a bit. See previous posts. My avatar thanks your avatar.


If we read state law, the paperbag doesn't mean anything legally. I'd just take it off and put in the quarters. Of course, if state employees are putting paperbags, that's a total violation of the State Ethics Code. If it isn't state employees, they have no authority to do it. Either scenerio, illegal.

There is no state law on paperbagging public parking meters. I'd just take the paper bags off and put the quarters in.

If a state employee is putting the paperbags on, they are violating the State Ethics Code and the bag has no legal effect. If its not a state employee, the bag has no legal effect. Either way, its illegal.

What it is, I think, is that DAGS runs the parking garage. The paper bags are spaces that they reserve for some group or other. If someone takes the bag off and parks there, they get an expensive ticket.

When the legislature is not in session they bag off most of the meters for school groups etc.

We'd be happy with allowing telephone testimony from Kaua`i... something I remember suggesting 20 years ago.

But then again we'd all be better served if they subjected themselves to the sunshine law.

If I could give testimony from Kona that would be great. In fact, why not take a taping of testimony ahead of time (like at night when we aren't working) then the next day send it to the appropriate hearing where they can sit there and hear what we have to say. Its not live but at least they will see the real us. Josephine.

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