- Law Cases
by Sharon Rondeau
(Sept. 17, 2010) — The Post & Email can confirm that the communications director of the Hawaii Department of Health has either been misquoted and failed to correct the record or has blatantly lied to the public about the availability of birth index data for a one-year period.
Via a reporter for the Associated Press whose article was widely disseminated on the internet in early August but has now been removed from several websites, Janice Okubo stated that birth index data is available in one-year increments for a cost of $98.75 but that no one had sent payment to the Health Department for it.
The Associated Press article stated, in part:
“No one here is requesting Obama’s birth certificate, since it is obvious that he doesn’t possess a valid one,” said one of the requesters, Sharon Rondeau, editor of The Post & Email website that publishes efforts to disprove Obama’s birth in the United States.
In response, the Department of Health has offered to provide hundreds of sheets of index data if requesters will pay for it. At 25 cents per page, the 1961 birth index data would cost $98.75. So far, no one has paid for the papers.
The Post & Email has verification from two individuals who have prepaid, by money order or cashier’s check to the Hawaii Department of Health, for birth index data for the year 1961 and whose payments have been returned to them uncashed.
In the instance below, the Department of Health granted the requested documents on the condition that an “outstanding balance of $876″ be paid to the department, even though that request had never been processed and had, in fact, been canceled by the requester months before.
In addition to the 1961 birth index, the requester asked for death index data for 1961, 1962 and 1963. The following is her request for the birth index data:
Aloha Ms. Okubo and HDoHInfo,
Attached is my formal UIPA request pursuant to HRS 338-18(d) and HRS 92F-12(a)(15), , I hereby request to inspect and copy the following records:
A birth index report for all births recorded at the HI Department of Health in the year 1961.
According to an AP article written by Mark Niesse on August 7, 2010, Ms. Okubo was quoted to have stated that this birth index report was available for $98.75.
I wish to have these records sent to me in paper form via certified mail w/delivery confirmation at the following address:
Please let me know at your earliest convenience the estimated cost and fees associated with my request so I can remit a certified or cashier’s check in order for the DoH to complete/expedite my request. It is not clear based on my shipping preferences and location, if the estimated $98.75 is still a valid amount to remit. Please confirm the amount I must remit in order to obtain these records.
Editor’s Note: The AP story written by Mark Niesse was also removed from the link in the above letter.
The following is the email canceling the prior request for which the Health Department attempted to extort $876:
CC: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: Response to Third Incremental Disclosure to UIPA Request 121509-1 and 121509-2 xxxxxx (DM 1-4-09)
Date: Mon, 19 Apr 2010 11:08:45 -0700
Aloha Ms Okubo,
I analyzed the 700 pages of DoH UIPA requests and responses I received on April 6, 2009, and to be honest I am disappointed in the degree of detail and effort made by the DoH to provide me clear and concise copies of the UIPA requests and responses I requested. In both incremental disclosures there are multiple copies of the same information with nothing of additional value or information added, copies of blank pages, etc. Essentially, I was charged and paid for the same information over and over again.
In the latest set of documents I received there were no less than six copies of the HISO Functional Statement and Organizational Chart I requested in reference to a separate UIPA Request, and no copy of the OHSM Functional Statement and Organizational Chart that I also requested in another UIPA Request. There is not less than 35 pages of blank or non-relevant information.
Based on what I received thus far, I have zero confidence that the third and final increment will be any different and the actual cost and fees will be far in excess of the latest estimate. i also have zero confidence that the DoH is fully complying with my request and is purposely withholding some request and responses.
In a letter you sent dated February 2, 2009 (attached) you informed me the 2nd and final increment would complete my request and include all requests and responses between November 24, 2009 to Present Date with a prepayment of $351.00 which was supposed to cover 50% of the estimated fees and 100% of the estimated costs. I remitted the $351.00 and the balance due for the first increment of $557.05 for a total of $908.05. Based on this estimate, I expected to receive the remaining requests and responses with a possible balance due in the $200.00 to $300.00 range and remittance of the balance due would complete my request.
In the most recent letter dated March 30, 2009 (attached) you indicated the second increment covered 700 pages of UIPA requests between November 2, 2009 and March 16, 2010.
You then stated the DoH needed to compile a third and final increment of records I requested consisting of all records of related UIPA Requests from November 2, 2009 to March 16, 2010, and all records of responses to UIPA related requests from August 5, 2009 to March 28,2010 to the tune of an additional $875.00.
Based on what I have received so far, and the date ranges of the requests and responses received, what exactly am I going to receive that I have not already received in this third and final increment? This just seems redundant.
Based on my aforementioned experience thus far, I am hesitant to fork out several hundred more dollars and just to receive the same documents I am already in possession of.
Please provide me a clear and concise justification for the additional $875.00 you have requested and what I can really expect to receive upon remittance of my payment. Should I decide not to pursue obtaining the third and final increment, please inform me what if any balance is due for the most recent increment I received on April 6, 2009.
My final comment: This whole experience from a financial perspective reeks of retaliation by the DoH for being identified as to what you define as a “”vexatious requester”. I am more than happy to share with the OIP, Lt Governor, Dr. Fukino etc. pdf copies of the documents I have received thus far to show how unfairly the DoH compiled and charged me for the same documents over and over again and for blank pages at a cost of $.25 per page.
The whole purpose of this request was not to harass the DoH, but to gain a better understanding of the nature of the requests the DoH is receiving and the responses the DoH provided. I am business process analyst/auditor, so I have an inquisitive and intuitive nature to compare and contrast and look for consistency and variation in order to verify that everything is on the up and up or there is anomalies that warrant further examination.
Please reply at your earliest convenience so I know how to proceed.
On page 2 following the subheading “Timing of Disclosure,” the form indicates that the death index data will be released:
X After prepayment of fees and costs of $1,286 (50% of fees + 100% of costs, as estimated below, plus outstanding balance of $876 from a previous request in accordance with OIP Administrative Rules Section 2-71-19).
Payment may be made by cash or: X other cahier’s (sic) check, certified.
The researcher stated to The Post & Email that “this was never responded to so I considered the matter closed.”
OIP Administrative Rules, Section 2-71-19 states:
§2-71-19 Assessment of fees; prepayment.
(a) When a person requests access to a government record under part II of chapter 92F, HRS, the agency may charge the requester:
(1) Fees for searching for, reviewing, and segregating the record; provided that these fees shall be assessed in accordance with this chapter; and
(2) Any other lawful fees.
(b) An agency may require a requester to prepay the following before the agency begins the search for and review of records in order to respond to a request for access:
(1) Fifty per cent of the total estimated fees for searching for, reviewing, and segregating records when the estimated fees exceed $30;
(2) One hundred per cent of the estimated fees under paragraph (a) for other services to prepare and or transmit the record; and
(3) One hundred per cent of the outstanding fees from previous requests, including abandoned requests, in accordance with subsection (d).
(c) The agency shall inform the requester of the requirement to prepay in its notice in accordance with section 2-71-14.
(d) A requester is liable for and shall pay any fees outstanding for services rendered by an agency to respond to any previous or current request. Upon written request, the agency shall provide an itemized bill of all fees assessed.
No bill was ever presented to the researcher, as she had clearly abandoned her previous request. The 700 pages mentioned in her letter to the Department of Health were paid for by The Post & Email’s Legal Fund and cost over $1,200.
The researcher’s response to the Health Department’s demand for the “outstanding balance of $876 from a previous request” is as follows:
To: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: RE: UIPA Request 0801210 xxxxxx Death Index Report 1961, 1962, 1963
Date: Sun, 5 Sep 2010 23:20:07 -0700
I decline to pay for a five year increment of the birth index in lieu of obtaining the singular birth index for 1961 specified in my official request dated August 14, 2010.
On August 7, 2010, in an AP article Ms. Okubo went on record that the 1961 birth index could be purchased for $98.75. Based on what Ms. Okubo stated to AP reporter Mark Niesse, thus my request and payment referred to below.
As of this time, it does not appear that the article has been updated nor has Ms. Okubo retracted her statement. The statements contained therein and Ms. Okubo’s public statements are incongruent. I think it is disingenuous at best to state to the public in an international publication the availability of the 1961 Birth Index for $98.75 and then deny access when a UIPA request is submitted and more than paid for.
Furthermore, based on this formal HDoH response, it implies that I owe the HI Dept of Health an undetermined balance. If this is true, then why was my cashier’s check for the birth index returned to me?
Attached is a pdf of the email I sent on April 19, 2010 for your review. The HDoH never responded to this email, thus I considered the request closed. This should resolve this matter. If it does not, then please provide a justification as to the HDoH’s position on the balance I allegedly owe.
The researcher reports that she has received neither a bill nor a response from the Hawaii Department of Health.
The Health Department is not the only government agency which fails to disclose records which are, by law, available to the public. It has recently been reported that the Hawaii Democrat Party had utilized a Certificate of Nomination for presidential candidates which included wording stating that the candidate was “legally qualified” to serve. However, in 2008, that wording was apparently removed, yet the Democrat National Committee (DNC) had provided a notarized Certificate of Nomination which had included the “constitutionally qualified” wording. Hawaii was the only state which received a nominating certificate with the eligibility wording.
Why did the state of Hawaii say only that Obama and Biden were “legally qualified to serve under the provisions of the national Democratic parties balloting…” but the DNC stated that they were “legally qualified to serve under the provisions of the United States Constitution”? Why did the state of Hawaii receive the only Certificate of Nomination with that assurance on it? Why not the other 49 states?
This writer has requested the same national and state Certifications of Nomination referenced above for the last six weeks and been met with nothing but stonewalling and excuses. The request began:
From: Sharon Rondeau
Date: 07/28/2010 05:49PM
Subject: REQUEST FOR DOCUMENTS
Hello, I would like to request the following documents:
Certificates of Nomination for the 2000, 2004 and 2008 presidential elections for both major parties (DNC and RNC) plus the Hawaii state DNC and RNC. Could I get paper copies mailed to me? If not, I will take PDFs. I am willing to pay for any copying charges.
I am not sure if your agency falls under the UIPA law, but if it does, please consider my request a UIPA request.
Thank you very much.
If I do not hear from you via email, I will call you by the end of the week to ascertain whether or not I have contacted the right department for these documents.
to which the following reply was received:
To: Sharon Rondeau
Sent: Friday, August 06, 2010 10:42 PM
Subject: Re: REQUEST FOR DOCUMENTS
Aloha Sharon Rondeau,
As you want records from 10 years ago and this is the middle of our election cycle, it will take us some time to gather the information as it is packed in our warehouse. The information is not in pdf format.
Please know that we have not forgotten your request but are making attempts to get the information together.
We will be in touch shortly.
Office of Elections
to which we replied on August 8:
Thank you for your response to my request. I appreciate the fact that you can search for these documents dating back some time. Again, please let me know the cost of retrieving the documents.
Nothing was received, so we sent the following message:
From: Sharon Rondeau
Sent: Thu 9/09/10 5:02 PM
Hello, were you able to find any certificates of nomination filed with your state for past presidential elections? It doesn’t have to be every single election; even if you can find those for the last two, it would be very helpful for my research project.
Once again, I have requested Certificates of Nomination filed with the state of Hawaii Elections Office for presidential elections 2008, 2004, 2000, and anything else you might be able to find.
Thank you so much.
and on September 15, we received the following reply:
Sent: Tue 9/14/10 11:57 PM
To: Sharon Rondeau
We will be able to assist you after the 2010 Elections are done. Currently our resources are limited to current election activities, but we will keep your request on file for followup after that time.
Office of Elections
State of Hawaii
Why was the Elections Office apparently willing to produce the requested documents before Butterdezillion’s excellent analysis was published on September 10? A former Elections Office employee, Tim Adams, said, “There is no long-form birth certificate, because he (Obama) was not born on U.S. soil.” Was it widely known at the Elections Office, as Adams has claimed, that Obama could not “legally” qualify to have his name placed on the ballot?
What did the Elections officials hide during the 2008 campaign, and what are they hiding now?
The Post & Email has appealed the decision by the Elections Office to withhold the information we have requested and sent the following email on September 15, 2010:
From: Sharon Rondeau
Sent: Wed 9/15/10 9:58 AM
To: Linden Joesting (email@example.com)
Good morning, Ms. Joesting. Unfortunately I have to contact you again regarding information that a Hawaii department will not produce. I believe their decision to put off producing the documents until after the November election is a violation of the UIPA law, ridiculous on its face, and unnecessary stonewalling.
All I have asked for is certified copies of the DNC and RNC Certification of Nomination forms for presidential elections 2008, 2004, and 2000. I would think that the 2008 ones are in PDF format and can be quickly accessed and emailed to me. I cannot imagine that the others would not be easily accessible as well.
I am therefore appealing the Elections Office’s decision to withhold the documents for at least two more months.
This request was originally placed six weeks ago, and I believe I have been courteous and patient with the Elections Office. I have also offered to pay for all copying and other costs involved in procuring the documents.
Please let me know what else you need to intervene so that I can obtain these documents which should be available to the public.
We have not yet received a response. Why not? In response to the Elections Office’s statement, one researcher commented, “They have to respond within 20 business days. They are only allowed to extend the standard 10 business day response by another 10 business days due to extenuating circumstances. This is a 15 minute job, max. i would push back. See pages 30 on in
Does the Elections Office know that the floodgates are about to open?
How many people from the Hawaii Department of Health, Elections Office, and other state agencies will go to jail when the truth is finally out?