A diverse coalition of more than 40 organizations and individuals are calling on Hawaii Gov. David Ige, the four county mayors and state legislators to be more transparent as they struggle to contain the growing coronavirus pandemic.

Common Cause Hawaii spearheaded the effort in response to Ige’s March 16 emergency proclamation that effectively suspended the state’s open meetings and public records laws until May 15, and possibly beyond.

In a letter Tuesday, the groups asked that officials continue to keep government meetings open to the public even if it is via remote access.

Governor David Ige announced mandatory 14 day self quarantine on arriving visitors to Hawaii today at the Capitol press conference.
Hawaii Gov. David Ige’s suspension of the state’s open meetings and public records law is the most extreme anti-transparency measures taken by any governor in the U.S. Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2020

“The public needs to be able to participate in government in order for democracy to continue to function,” the letter states. “Government transparency and support of the public’s right to know are more, not less, critical during emergency situations.”

Among those signing the letter are the ACLU of Hawaii, Civil Beat Law Center for the Public Interest, Hawaii Appleseed Center for Law and Economic Justice, the Chinatown Gateway Plaza and Breastfeeding Hawaii.

Other groups include AF3IRM Hawaii, the Grassroots Institute, the Hawaii Alliance for Progressive Action, the Libertarian Party of Hawaii and the state chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.

Ige’s decision to completely suspend the state’s open meetings and public records law has been roundly criticized in Hawaii and throughout the U.S. It is considered the most extreme anti-transparency measure taken by any governor since the coronavirus outbreak began.

You can read the full letter here:

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