Nearly two dozen Hawaii media outlets and nonprofit organizations have come together to start a dialogue with Gov. David Ige’s administration about government transparency and accountability issues.

Brian Black, the executive director of The Civil Beat Law Center for the Public Interest and the organizer of the effort, delivered a jointly signed letter to Ige’s chief of staff, Mike McCartney, on Friday.

The letter asks Ige to speak out strongly in favor of government transparency in light of a rising public demand for openness and “increasing public suspicion of institutions that respond to scrutiny without comment or full disclosure.”

Governor David Ige gives press conference on the budget at the Capitol Building.  22dec2014. photograph Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Nearly two dozen Hawaii media outlets and nonprofits have come together to ask Gov. David Ige to improve government transparency.

Cory Lum/Civil Beat

The groups — which include Civil Beat, TV stations, Hawaii Public Radio, online news outlets and good-government groups like Common Cause and League of Women Voters — are asking the governor to issue an executive memorandum or order to do three things:

  1. State agencies should presume that government documents are public and invoke exceptions to disclosure only if they must, not simply because they can.
  2. Each state agency should post contact information for the public to easily ascertain how to submit requests for records.
  3. Requests made in the public interest should be charged, at most, only copying costs.

“The letter lays out ideas for reform for the administration to consider, but the most important thing really is having that back and forth and looking for the right solutions,” Black said.

Black started inviting the groups to come together to start a discussion about open government in August. The idea for the letter originated during talks in October, he said. The Star-Advertiser was among the organizations that declined to participate.

Civil Beat has reported extensively about access to public records, including extreme delays in producing the records and exorbitant costs. Here’s a link to a three-part series we did and other recent stories about government transparency.

Here’s the letter that was delivered to the governor’s office.

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