Truth and transparency. We think that’s what makes us different.

Our coverage of the civil unions bill has been about what its impact will be and the reasons behind the Hawaii Business Roundtable‘s effort to get Gov. Linda Lingle to veto it.

We explored whether the roundtable was truthful in its arguments against the bill and in explaining how it reached what turned out to be a divisive and controversial position.

We believe people are entitled to believe whatever they want, but we want to be sure the public is getting the whole story.

The roundtable’s executive committee weighed in on the fight on June 4, writing a private letter to Lingle urging her to veto the bill. It turned out that the action was extraordinary, that most members of an organization with only 46 member CEOs and presidents of major companies, hadn’t been consulted before the letter was sent. It didn’t take long for many of its CEOs to reject the stance, publicly, and for the executive committee to write another letter to Lingle, clarifying its position.

What happened raised questions because it didn’t appear that even the entire executive committee was aware of the roundtable’s letter, let alone its full membership. That’s important because the roundtable represents essentially all the major players in Hawaii business. The group carries a lot of clout, and was acting behind the scenes on an issue of clear public importance. So Civil Beat has tried to explore why the group joined the fray the way it did.

This leads me to the question of when do the personal actions and positions of a private citizen become relevant for a news story. I’ve been asked that privately in connection with an article we published Thursday about the ties of a member of the executive committee of the Hawaii Business Roundtable to the board of the Hawaii Family Forum, the group leading the fight against the civil unions bill on Lingle’s desk.

We do feel that what drives an influential organization and the linkages it has, bear reporting. Linkages between organizations can be revealing. In the absence of a clear statement by a group like the roundtable, people look for links to understand possible motivations. Our goal in the article wasn’t to single out a particular individual’s point of view. If we left that impression, it was inadvertent. Our goal was to shed light on why the roundtable might have done what it did. What still hasn’t come out is the reason for what the roundtable did. Frankly, it appears that its decision might have been religiously driven. That’s perfectly fine, and nothing to be embarrassed about. And if that’s wrong, we invite the committee members who sent the letter to tell us.

At Civil Beat, we’re here to keep moving the ball forward on issues important to Honolulu and Hawaii. We want to present all sides so the public can make an informed decision. But we feel like we’re missing a key piece to this discussion: Why did some executive committee members decide to take action against HB 444. The reason could be moral, economic, or perhaps something else. Whatever the reasons, it would be helpful for the entire community to hear it. And so again, Civil Beat invites anyone to share the reasons with us. We’ll share it for everyone to read.

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