So far, 14 members of state boards and commissions have resigned their posts rather than allow their Financial Disclosure Statements to become public, Honolulu Civil Beat reported today. So many have bailed, in fact, that Civil Beat reports the state Land Use Commission can no longer convene a quorum, meaning it’s business has effectively stopped until new appointees (who, hopefully, believe in government transparency) can take over.
Who these enemies of SB 2682–which is becoming a law without Governor Neil Abercrombie’s signature and which mandates that members of 15 state panels must start releasing their financial disclosure forms to the public–are, exactly, is somewhat murky. Civil Beat reports that just five names have been made public so far (I wrote about the alarmist and largely unfounded fears of one of them–former UH Regent Saedene Ota, here).
Now I like a good protest as much as the next reporter, but it’s hard to be sympathetic to those who somehow entered government with the notion that they could sit on a powerful board without the public having any idea who they were. That’s the issue here–not whether they were elected, or whether they receive any kind of stipend–but the extent of power they wield. In a more transparent world, every municipal board and commission in the state–including all the appointed panels in the County of Maui–would consider members’ Financial Disclosure Statements to be public documents.
It’s odd to think that all these board members and commissioners would think that public does not have a right to know what personal financial interests they hold when making decisions. It will be nice to see a new crop of appointees who actually believe that transparency is a good thing.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons