Friday, January 21, 2011


Watch suppressed video of Hawaii House session selecting Speaker Calvin Say

by Larry Geller

Below is the video that the House would not let you see. Watching it, the question is “why?”

At a time when community groups are demanding greater transparency—and more video of House sessions—this one in particular should not have been blocked. During this session the House re-elected Calvin Say as speaker, but the battle over leadership extended right to the opening day of the Legislature. It was the end of the ninth inning, and the House turned away the TV cameras. In the end, though, the finish was pretty dull. This video is not going to win any awards.

AP reporter Herbert Sample wrote from the Hawaii State Capitol on the refusal of the House to allow broadcast of the brief session at which Calvin Say was again designated Speaker after an intense and protracted leadership battle:

The clerk of the state House of Representatives on Wednesday barred live television coverage of an afternoon session at which the speaker was elected after a two-month struggle among House Democrats.

Clerk Pat Mau-Shimizu told The Associated Press she decided there would be no Olelo Community Media broadcast of the session — which originally was to start at about 3 p.m. — because she expected it would contain little if any public debate.

[AP, State House clerk bars live broadcast of House session in which speaker is to be elected, 1/19/2011]

The decision not to televise the short session came at a time when several organizations, lead by the Hawaii chapter of Common Cause, have been pressing the House for more transparency, including increased broadcasts of House sessions.

The House has been restrictive, in contrast to the Senate, in allowing public television access to its meetings. This deprives Neighbor Islanders, for example, from participation in the legislative process.

The video below is the session that was suppressed by the House on Wednesday. As you will see, there is little reason why it should have been kept from the public. Stay with it a few minutes or skip ahead to hear Speaker Calvin Say’s extensive reading from Abraham Lincoln.

Suppressed video of Hawaii House session 1/19/2010 electing Calvin Say as Speaker from Disappeared News on Vimeo.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons license.



The decision to bar the public access cameras was clearly an attempt to minimize embarrassment to Speaker Say had the leadership settlement failed to come together. Speaker Say was prepared to use votes of the GOP reps if he could not reach an agreement with the dissidents.

Because the settlement WAS reached in the very last moments, the video of the reso appointing Say as Speaker was pretty uneventful.

But had Speaker relied on GOP votes, the resulting firestorm would have made for very interesting television.Some harsh things would have been said, many of them to the Speaker's detriment. We would have seen snippets on the news reports. But for those of us who like to watch the raw video, in context, without edits, the Public Access feed is much more useful.

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