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Corie Tanida Named as New Common Cause Hawaii Executive Director

Corie Tanida, who over the last three years has led a series of successful civic engagement campaigns for Common Cause, today was named Executive Director of Common Cause Hawaii.

Corie Tanida

Corie Tanida

“We’re delighted that Corie is ready to take the helm and eager to build on the good work done by Carmille Lim and our state board in leading Common Cause Hawaii,” said Jenny Flanagan, Common Cause’s vice president for state operations. “Her leadership on the annual “Mark Yes” campaign encouraging public support for Hawaii’s Publicly Funded Elections Program and her tireless and successful advocacy persuading the legislature and every county in Hawaii to pass resolutions calling for Citizens United to be overturned have been outstanding. She’s also conducted important research on state agencies’ compliance with Sunshine Laws and organized community events such as the Public House community discussion series and film screenings of Inequality for All and Pay 2 Play.

Tanida joined Common Cause Hawaii in May 2013, serving as project coordinator; she was promoted to senior organizer in January 2015. A graduate of the University of Evansville, where she studied political science, Tanida returned to Hawaii and worked on statewide political campaigns and for the state legislature before coming to Common Cause.

“I am very honored and humbled to be selected to lead Common Cause Hawaii,” said Tanida. “While Common Cause has been successful in advocating for good government reforms in Hawaii, such as online voter registration, election day voter registration, and closing campaign finance and ethics disclosure loopholes, there’s still much to be done. I look forward to continuing to advocate for more reforms such as Vote-By-Mail, Automatic Voter Registration, and ensuring the sustainability of our Publicly Funded Elections Program and Campaign Spending Commission.”

Carmille Lim left Common Cause in July to pursue graduate studies at the University of Michigan.

Good Government Groups Announce 2016 “Rusty Scalpel” Winner

scalpel award
The outcome of all 2016 legislative measures transmitted to the Governor will be known by July 12, which is the deadline for final approval or veto of the legislature’s bills from this year.  Unfortunately, the Governor has not announced his intent to veto HB1689, CD1 “Relating to Taxation,” which the League of Women Voters and Common Cause Hawaii have identified as their 2016 “Rusty Scalpel” winner.  The “Rusty Scalpel” award recognizes enactment of a bill whose subject has been substantially amended without opportunity for public input and legislative review as required by the Hawaii Constitution.

Towards the end of the 2016 legislative session, without meaningful opportunity for public or agency comment, a conference committee replaced the contents of HB 1689, SD 2 with a totally unrelated bill whose subject never had a public hearing in the Senate.  The original HB 1689 amended the existing ethanol facility income tax credit to include other renewable fuels.
hb1689
All House and Senate committee hearings on HB 1689 concerned tax credits for production of renewable fuels.  But inexplicably, HB 1689, CD 1 did not in any way concern tax credits for production of renewable fuels.  Instead, to everyone’s surprise, HB 1689, CD 1 proposed a new tax credit for production of organic food. The Hawaii Constitution sets procedures for enactment of new laws.  The purpose of these procedures is to facilitate public participation and to discourage “fraud” and “logrolling”.  Article III, Section 14 provides “Each law shall embrace but one subject which shall be expressed in its title.”  In plain English, our Legislature is NOT supposed to pass a bill which addresses 2 or more unrelated subjects. Article III, Section 15 provides that “No bill shall become law unless it shall pass three readings in each house on separate days.”  In plain English, our Legislature is NOT supposed to pass a bill whose subject has not had three separate readings in the State House and three separate readings in the State Senate.

Ann Shaver, League President, said “This makes a travesty of the democratic process.   Just because there are enough votes to pass a measure doesn’t make it Constitutional.  HB1689, CD1 was obviously unrelated to the bill’s original purpose.  The content of the CD1 stunned us; it was passed without a single public hearing.  There clearly was no justification.”


The League of Women Voters of Hawaii is a non-partisan political organization that encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy. For more information, visit http://www.lwv-hawaii.com

Common Cause Hawaii is a state chapter of the national Common Cause organization. Common Cause is a nonpartisan, grassroots organization dedicated to protecting and improving Hawaii’s political process and holding government accountable to the public interest. For more information, visit hi.commoncause.org

Following the Money in Local Politics? There’s an Site/App for That!

Hi Damon,

I’m working with Common Cause Hawaii (along with an organization I co-founded called Hawaii Open Data) to spread the word about new tools designed to help Hawaii residents get a better view of how local government works. With the Primary Election looming next week, it’s the perfect time to try them out.

I wanted to encourage you to consider covering these web apps, which all work with publicly available data from the Campaign Spending Commission, but offer different ways to make sense of it. As the data is statewide, there’s also an additional opportunity to gain insight into candidates and campaigns on Hawaii Island specifically.

Here’s a list of the free apps, each of which was created by a local developer (or team of coders) that participated in the Civic*Celerator, a tech competition that challenged geeks to build something to encourage greater participation in civic life and greater transparency in government: http://civic.celerator.org/apps/

Though we’re not talking fun and games like Angry Birds here, I hope the value of these apps to the community is clear. :)

Examples? Perhaps the most compelling web app, visually, is the Hawaii Campaign Spending Data tool by Jason Axelson. Beautiful yet intuitive graphic representations of campaign spending by office (governor, Hawaii county council, OHA, etc.), candidate, party, category… just click around for a minute or two, and some interesting patterns will emerge: http://viz.hawaiicampaignspending.com/

spending data

Spending data 2Or here’s an app by Royce Jones that includes both candidate filing information and campaign spending information, and links it to an easily-navigated map of the islands: http://civic-celerator.maps.arcgis.com/home/

Spending data 3

You can figure out which voting precinct you’re in, who’s running, who’s donating to their campaigns, and even see online exactly what your ballot will look like.

Spending data 4

These only scratch the surface of these free tools, created for everyday people by (slightly geekier) every day people. While there’s been volumes and volumes of data available for years, now a growing corps of “civic hackers” are building ways to make sense of it all.

Not only do I think these web apps would make for a great “tech for good” story, but I think bloggers like you could actually use them to generate a number of other interesting stories. Which candidate spent the most on food on Hawaii Island? Which political party, besides the Democrats, is fielding the most candidates for public office statewide? The possibilities, once you begin to explore the data in new ways, are endless.

Please let me know if you’d like to speak to someone about these tools. I can help connect you with some of the organizers of the Civic*Celerator for the big picture, or help set up a walk through from one of the developers for an in-depth tour of any of the apps. Just reply to this email and I’ll get the ball rolling. Otherwise, feel free to try them out, review them or post a tour, whatever you think will help demonstrate the value of campaign spending data and these volunteer-built apps.

Thank you very much for your consideration!

Burt Lum, Hawaii Open Data

2014 “Rusty Scalpel” Winner Announced

The League of Women Voters and Common Cause Hawaii have a 2014 “Rusty Scalpel” winner, HB2434, CD1, Relating to the Transient Accommodations Tax! The two organizations offer a “Rusty Scalpel” award for the most altered bill whose original content is no longer recognizable because of “surgical techniques” that changed the original purpose of the bill.

hb2434During a Conference Committee near the end of the 2014 legislative session, without meaningful opportunity for public or agency comment, HB 2434 SD 2 was drastically amended. When introduced the measure was a bill to allocate $3 million of hotel tax revenues to a multi-purpose conservation fund. After the Conference Committee discarded the SD2, the bill morphed to a measure to refinance the Convention Center debt. Proceeds of the refinancing will be used to acquire the conservation easement at Turtle Bay, Oahu. Regardless of the final proposal’s merits, there was no compelling reason not to extend the session and hold public hearings on this important amended bill.

HB2434_SD2 Pdf File
HB2434_SD1 Pdf File
HB2434_HD2 Pdf File
HB2434_HD1 Pdf File
HB2434_CD1 Pdf File
HB2434 Pdf File

It disrespects Hawaii’s Constitution when a legislative committee adopts bill amendments with no rational connection to the subject of the bill referred to that committee. Article III, Section 14 of our Constitution specifically requires that each bill have a single subject expressed in the bill’s title and prohibits changing any bill’s title. Article III, Section 15 requires that each bill have three separate readings in each house of the Legislature. The unambiguous intent is to encourage informed public comment on all proposed legislation and thorough consideration of all relevant factors by both House and Senate subject matter committees. The public obviously is not aware of and cannot comment on substantive amendments being proposed in Conference Committee.

Ann Shaver, League President, said “This makes a travesty of the democratic process. Just because there are enough votes to pass a measure doesn’t make it Constitutional. HB2434 CD1 proposed a new idea, maybe even a great idea, but it was obviously unrelated to the bill’s original purpose. The content of the CD1 stunned us; it was passed without a single public hearing when there was no emergency. “

Carmille Lim of Common Cause added, “Citizens should be able to participate in the legislative process in a fair and orderly manner. In this case, a $40 million dollar appropriation was grafted on to a major last-minute change, depriving many members of the legislature from the normal review and give and take of budget discussions. Gutting bills and replacing content with new and unrelated content that alters the bill’s original intention does a disservice to members of the public and distorts the legislative process.

“Last year the League of Women Voters, Common Cause and other civic organizations petitioned both houses of the Legislature asking that they amend legislative rules to ban such practices, but the legislature chose to do nothing. Maybe a Constitutional amendment to prohibit this would make democracy work a little better.

In the 2014 session the League and Common Cause identified dozens of bills which were subjected to these techniques. For example, HB 193 concerned developer compliance with conditions for land use district boundary amendments while HB 193, SD 1 concerned use of State property for transit-oriented development. Or for example, SB 2535 concerned State acquisition of real property for agricultural production while SB 2535, proposed HD 1 concerned labeling of genetically modified food.

In general, when the subject of a bill was totally changed after cross-over, only one public hearing was held on the amended subject (with the Senate totally disregarding public testimony to the House, and the House totally disregarding public testimony to the Senate). However, HB2434, CD1 was our “winner” because not only was it a “gut and replace” no hearing was held on the CD1 version of the bill.

Common Cause Hawaii is a state chapter of the national Common Cause organization. Common Cause is a nonpartisan, grassroots organization dedicated to protecting and improving Hawaii’s political process and holding government accountable to the public interest. For more information, www.commoncause.org/states/hawaii/

The League of Women Voters of Hawaii is a non-partisan political organization that encourages informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy. For more information visit http://www.lwv-hawaii.com/index.htm