How forthcoming is the Hawaii State Department of Agriculture when asked to provide basic information?

Below is just one example of the difficulty of obtaining even basic information from the Hawaii State Department of Agriculture.

UIPA Request from Kauai Councilmember Gary Hooser:

Question & Answer from Hawaii Department Of Agriculture

Re: Open/Pending Pesticide Drift Complaints

QUESTION (December 30, 2015):

  1. What is the current number of open cases relating to cases of pesticide drift on Kaua’i? (see prior requests 7/07/15, 7/28/15, 11/29/15)
  2. How far back in time do these open cases extend? (i.e. How old is the oldest open case?)
  3. Please provide the year that each open case was originally opened.
  4. For all cases (open and closed), over the past five (5) years, how many fines, penalties or other measures have been levied for violations of Hawai’i pesticide law violations on Kaua’i? Please explain.

Response (January 19, 2016) from Hawaii Department Of Agriculture

DENIED IN ITS ENTIRETY

Pursuant to HRS section 92F-11(c) of the Uniform Information Practices Act, an agency must disclose information that is “readily retrievable by the agency in the form in which it is requested, an agency shall not be required to prepare a compilation or summary of its records.”  The information you seek is not kept in the form you requested.  Compilation and summary of existing records goes beyond the Hawaii Department of Agriculture’s (HDOA) responsibility.  You were previously notified of this fact by way of correspondence dated January 17, 2013.  HDOA reiterates that information will only be provided when it exists in the form requested.  HDOA does not have the resources or manpower to go beyond its statutory obligations.

Again, as you have previously been informed, HDOA does not disclose any information regarding complaints or investigations that have not been closed, adjudicated, or settled.  Pursuant to HRS section 92F-13, an agency “shall not” be required to disclose “Government records pertaining to the prosecution or defense of any judicial or quasi-judicial action to which the State . . . is or may be a party, to the extent that such records would not be discoverable[.]”  HRS section 92F-13(2).  Government records are also protected from disclosure where the government records must be kept confidential “in order for the government to avoid the frustration of a legitimate government function[.]”  HRS section 92F-13(3).

******************************************

From other means of gathering the same information I am aware of 15 or 16 “open cases” of pesticide drift or exposure on Kauai.  These cases go back years and the agency will release zero information, not even the dates when the alleged violations occurred nor a summary or general characterization of the type of violation.

What the statewide total of “open cases” is, apparently no one knows and the SDOA is telling no one.

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About garyhooser

This blog represents my thoughts as an individual person. I presently serve now as a volunteer President of the Hawaii Alliance for Progressive Action (H.A.P.A.) www.hapahi.org In a past life I was an elected member of the Kauai County Council, a Hawaii State Senator and Majority Leader and the Director of Environmental Quality Control for the State of Hawaii - in an even earlier incarnation I was an entrepreneur and small business owner. Yes, I am one of the luckiest guys on the planet. “Come to the edge.” “We can’t. We’re afraid.” “Come to the edge.” “We can’t. We will fall!” “Come to the edge.” And they came. And he pushed them. And they flew. - Christopher Logue (b.1926)
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