Think About It: Full Disclosure Dysfunction - KFVE, K5-Hawaii News Now, Local Programming

July 14, 2014

Think About It: Full Disclosure Dysfunction

Transparency and accountability concerns won out over logic last week when a new law went into effect that requires persons serving on more than a dozen state boards to fully disclose the financial interests of their entire family. The obvious impact of this law was the immediate resignation of at least 18 people from boards including the University of Hawaii regents,   Land & Natural Resources, the Land Use Commission, and the Hawaii Housing Finance & Development Corporation. In essence, the law says the rights of the people to know your personal financial information outweigh your individual right to privacy.

And that's a sticky wicket, because the logical premise that drove this legislation is that conflicts of interest can be more easily ascertained in advance of decisions through exposing one's complete financial records. But dig a little deeper, and you'll find that apparently the Ethics Commission, which supported the bill through its legislative approval process, finds it is overwhelmed by a vast amount of paperwork that it simply can't handle with its current limited staffing, and this inability to vet paperwork helped push through the resolution.

If that's the major issue here- not enough help to do myriad, detailed financial examinations well and on a timely basis- then why wasn't a solution suggested that adds two or three more administrators to the Ethics Commission to ensure a timely flow of paperwork with information that would be thorough, yet sealed and kept confidential, as is already done with information on thousands of other state employees, board members, and commissioners? The heavy-handed decision in this situation resulted in some really good, civic-minded citizens feeling compelled to resign from boards, and many more will now be reluctant to volunteer for these important committees. We'll never know how many shy away, because they simply won't apply to give of their time and valuable input, and that's a shame and surely not serving the public interest, is it? Think about it…

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