About the Author

The Sunshine Editorial Board

The members of Civil Beat’s editorial board focused on ‘Let The Sunshine In’ are Patti Epler, Chad Blair and Richard Wiens.


Short takes, outtakes, observations and other stuff you should know about public information, government accountability and ethical leadership in Hawaii.

Surprise visitor: You gotta love Donovan Dela Cruz.

On Tuesday, the day we published a story about Senate bullies creating chaos at the State Capitol, Dela Cruz — one of the aforementioned bullies — called us to complain that he had been unfairly maligned in the piece. It laid out how his Senate colleagues were concerned he and Sen. Michelle Kidani were strong-arming some senators to backpedal on approval of one of the governor’s nominees.

“I’m hardly even at the Legislature these days,” Dela Cruz said at one point in a lengthy phone conversation. “I’ve been staying home a lot to take care of my dog.”

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“Well, hey,” we said, “we just happen to be at Civil Beat’s pop-up newsroom at the library in Wahiawa today. You should come by.”

Twenty minutes later, guess who showed up? He spent the next two hours insisting we had him all wrong and that he did not try to coerce anyone. In fact, he contends, he is just one guy in a big system and he has no influence over anyone. He’s just trying to do the best he can for his district.

We’d give you more specifics, but he insisted “this whole thing is off the record” so many times it’s hard to keep straight what is ethically useable and what isn’t.

Senator Donovan Dela Cruz at Ho Farms in Wahiawa.
We took this picture of Sen. Donovan Dela Cruz when he took us on a tour of farms in Wahiawa a couple years ago. He was charming then too. (Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2021)

Suffice it to say Dela Cruz was his most charming self at our pop-up. He even shook a couple of constituents’ hands. He showed us pictures of the aging French bulldog he rescued and now needs to spend quality time with.

He invited us over to his house — near the library — so we could see his tea-bagging operation, a small business he owns with his longtime colleague Dane Wicker who was recently confirmed as the new deputy director of the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism, an arrangement that has raised eyebrows for sure. He promised to help several Civil Beat reporters with future stories, including walking us through the state budget, which he likes to detail out on a giant whiteboard.

Soon to come: watch for a short video of Dela Cruz talking about what he loves most about Wahiawa. It will be on our pop-up newsroom landing page soon.

Coming down to the wire: It’s that time in the legislative session when some bills are starting to move quickly and others aren’t moving at all.

We’ve got less than two weeks to go until the April 6 deadline when bills need to have at least gotten a hearing in their final committee or they are doomed for the year.

Sunshine banner promo banner

To that end, we have been diligently updating our Sunshine Bill Tracker as soon as paperwork on the measures is available, giving the latest status and details on what committee a bill is in and what the next action is.

We started out in January tracking more than 200 bills aimed at improving accountability and transparency at all levels of government. We’re down to about 70 still alive. A handful have gone to the governor’s desk.

You can keep up with the bills here.


Read this next:

The Hawaii Legislature Resists The Basic Principles Of Sunshine Law


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About the Author

The Sunshine Editorial Board

The members of Civil Beat’s editorial board focused on ‘Let The Sunshine In’ are Patti Epler, Chad Blair and Richard Wiens.


Latest Comments (0)

If you're interested in politics at the local level, and only have a few minutes to spend, reading this Sunshine blog is the most profitable 4 minutes that you can take to learn about what is happening. Thank you cb!

Scotty_Poppins · 10 months ago

The whole purpose of Sunshine is to move from "off the record" to "on the record" . This just raises more questions, even if his participation in dialogue with CB was intended to add clarification to what’s happening in the Senate bullying saga.Someone please stand up and claim ownership for what is happening in the people’s house.

Jessie_3333 · 10 months ago

On Donovan Dela Cruz’s comments about ‘not going to work much because of my dog’… how dare he dump his responsibilities to the people of Hawaii.I hope Senate has generous remote work policy if he’s away from the Capitol all day. Also, bullying can happen over the phone or via text, he wouldn’t have to be at the Capitol to cause harm.

Mynah_Bird · 10 months ago

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