Thursday, March 10, 2011
So what should Gov. Abercrombie do if he screwed up his OIP appointment?
by Larry Geller
In Congress, located in distant Washington DC, it’s ok to sweep mistakes under the carpet. Constituents are far away and memories are short. Vote the wrong way on a bill and it is soon forgotten (if anyone noticed in the first place). Aside from the occasional tourist visiting from Hawaii, no one from home is likely to be knocking on the door.
It’s different at the State Capitol. Yes, many things are soon forgotten, but there are too many bloggers buzzing around to count on that. Take, for example, Governor Neil Abercrombie’s possibly illegal appointment of a staffer at the Office of Information Practices. (See: Did Gov. Abercrombie exceed his legal authority in making OIP staff appointment?, ilind.net, 3/6/2011). In the absence of executive office justification for the move, it appears that Ian’s take on the situation will stand as the last word.
To recap, the OIP held that the open records law requires disclosure of names of potential nominees on the governor’s short list of judicial appointments after the appointment is made. OIP doesn’t make the law, they interpret it. Their services have sorted out numerous squabbles over the years when one or another government agency chooses to withhold information that should be public or tries to hide decisions in secret meetings that should be open to the public.
The governor chose to ignore this legal advice, and still has not released the list of nominees. That was the first part of the problem, but the Governor created even more.
Exhibiting great disrespect for this function, it appears that Gov. Abercrombie not only replaced the acting director, but by making the allegedly illegal appointment of someone to fill a staff position, prevented her from resuming the job she held before becoming acting director.
What should a governor do under the circumstances? This isn’t Washington where doing nothing is an option. Most likely, he will do nothing anyway.
But the right thing may be to withdraw the illegal appointment and allow Cathy Takase to remain with OIP in her previous position if that is what she now wishes.
Oh, and since the law seems to require disclosing the list of judicial nominees, he could do that also.