The state Office of Information Practices (OIP) has posted online summaries of its latest memoranda opinions on its Opinions page at oip.hawaii.gov.
S Memo 20-1: The permitted interaction at section 92-2.5(c), HRS, allows discussions between two or more members of a board, but less than the number of members that would constitute a quorum for the board, concerning the selection of the board’s officers in private without limitation or subsequent reporting. Here, all seven of newly elected, but not yet sworn in, members of the Kauai County Council (COUNCIL-K), four of whom were incumbents, discussed leadership for the upcoming term in a publicly noticed meeting held after the general election but before they were sworn in. Even before they were subject to the Sunshine Law, COUNCIL-K took OIP’s recommendation to embrace the spirit of the law and meet in a publicly noticed, rather than private, meeting. Thus, OIP concluded that these members-elect did not violate the Sunshine Law when they met publicly to discuss and take “straw votes” on leadership for the upcoming term before they were sworn in for the upcoming term of office and became subject to the Sunshine Law for that term.
U Memo 20-2: Requester asked the Honolulu Board of Water Supply (BWS-HON) for a list of addresses for residential properties within seven zip codes that did not have water service for a specific time period. Citing section 92F-11(c), HRS, BWS-HON denied his request as being not readily retrievable. Based on BWS-HON’s explanation of the steps required to respond to the record request, OIP found that BWS-HON could not respond using its existing programming capabilities, and it was not able to readily retrieve the requested information. Thus, BWS-HON was not required to provide the requested information because doing so would require preparation of a compilation or summary of information that is not readily retrievable. Requester, however, has the option to request the underlying records containing the requested information, i.e., the portion of the relevant databases covering the areas and period of interest to Requester. BWS-HON may charge fees and costs for processing the record request. But if a subsequent record request would again require compilation or summary of information that is not readily retrievable, BWS would not be required to provide such compilation or summary.
U Memo 20-3: OIP concluded that the Department of Taxation (TAX) properly withheld the records in a corporate Taxpayer’s audit file under the exception to disclosure of records, which by their nature, must be confidential in order for the government to avoid the frustration of a legitimate government function. See HRS § 92F-13(1) (2012). The release of such records would frustrate TAX’s ability to perform its tax compliance function as the records were prepared in anticipation of civil litigation. However, TAX’s description of the withheld records as simply “those that fall within the exception to the government records disclosure provision set forth in section 92F-13(3), HRS” was inadequate. While it was not required to list and describe each individual record being withheld, TAX should at least have listed types or categories of records that were in the file and were being withheld.
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