Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Civil Beat learns that Hawaii doesn’t enforce all of its laws
by Larry Geller
Ah, a lesson for our malihini news website. Civil Beat is learning that just because there is a law on the books in Hawaii doesn’t mean it is enforced.
They’ve been told that getting public records they asked for would cost $123,000 and 16 months work. Nevermind that there’s a law that state departments must keep the records they asked for.
Read their two good article so far on this:
- Not So Public: Hawaii Agency Wants $123,000 To Review Records (Civil Beat, 2/14/2012)
- Off The Beat: Transparency Should Start At The Top (Civil Beat, 2/14/2012)
It’s not just the public records law of course. It’s mandatory reporting of child abuse, it’s the Safe Haven law, it’s the law that Hawaii will join with five other states in looking for cheaper sources of pharmaceuticals, it’s the stop-before-making-a-right-turn-on-red law, it’s the don’t-run-red-lights law, and so forth. The Sunshine Laws (open records, open meetings) are no exception to this. It’s the Hawaii way. Nobody’s watching you, so forget the law.
At the state legislature I often say that passing a new law may be important, but it’s only a beginning. Lawmakers, of course, are in charge of the making of the law. And that’s it. So they make the law, and nothing changes as a result. Those who testify fervently on one subject or another need to understand this—their good work is only a beginning. The law may be on the books, but in Hawaii, so what.
What to do? There ought to be a law.
Amen to that! There has to be a public awareness campaign as each new law is passed. We're working on 14 new domestic violence laws and others related to Child Welfare Services. If the parties involved aren't aware of the law, CWS gets away with business as usual that subjects children to harm, just to name an example.
Thank goodness for the bloggers (Larry & Ian in particular), and now for Civil Beat for pointing out when laws aren't being followed (and/or enforced). Now it's up to us - the citizens - to demand that they ARE enforced.