CITIZENS FROM ACROSS THE COUNTRY OBJECT TO “VEXATIOUS REQUESTER” PROPOSAL
by Sharon Rondeau
(Mar. 17, 2010) — An article by the Associated Press posted today begins with “Birthers beware: Hawaii may start ignoring your repeated requests for proof that President Barack Obama was born here.” The story referred to the public hearing on SB2937, the “vexatious requester” bill proposed by Hawaii state senator Will Espero in late January of this year.
If passed, the measure would amend the state’s current Open Records Law (UIPA) to allow certain individuals perceived to be troublesome to have their requests for information denied and carry the label “vexatious” for a period not to exceed two years.
The AP also incorrectly stated that “Both Fukino and the state registrar of vital statistics have verified that the Health Department holds Obama’s original birth certificate.” At no time has anyone with the title of “Registrar of Vital Statistics” made any statement about Obama’s records. Rather, Dr. Chiyome Fukino, Director of the Health Department, is the only person to have stated that her department has anything on file for Obama. Fukino also apparently perjured herself while testifying regarding the volume and nature of UIPA requests for Obama’s birth records.
Despite citing Hawaii’s privacy laws on birth records as the reason she cannot release information about them, Fukino has never demonstrated that Obama gave her permission to inspect his file by a “direct and tangible interest in the record,” as required by Hawaii law. Dr. Fukino also has never provided supporting, or “index data,” to back up her claim that Obama is a “natural-born American citizen.” Obama himself also refuses to back up this statement.
The Associated Press story made a point to say, “Nobody at the hearing questioned the fact that the president was born in Hawaii.” The purpose of the hearing was not to discuss whether or not Obama had been born in Hawaii, but rather, whether or not the UIPA should be amended based on the repeated requests of citizens for any and all types of information.
Evidently, there was considerable dissent about passing such a bill. Hawaii Rep. Cynthia Thielen raised the question: “Do we really want to be known internationally as the Legislature that blocked any inquiries into where President Obama was born? When people want to get more information, the way to fuel that fire is to say, ‘We’re now going to draw down a veil of secrecy.'”
The AP also reports that “the issue coincides with Sunshine Week, when news organizations promote open government and freedom of information.” What “open government” is the AP promoting?
The article ends with “The committee will schedule a vote on the measure.” This information turned out to be incorrect, as the Hawaii House Judiciary Committee has recommended that the proposal discussed at a public hearing yesterday in Honolulu “be deferred.” The inaccurate AP article has been distributed to scores of news outlets on the web.
Written testimony submitted regarding the proposal included the following:
I am submitting this testimony in opposition to SB2937, a bill introduced and passed by the HI Senate to amend HRS 92F-42 so an agency may identify a person as a “vexatious requester” that it deems as abusing Hawaii’s Open Records Law as defined in HRS 92F. Furthermore, the Office of Information Practices reviews such agency complaints and has sole power to make a determination if the requester meets the “vexatious requester” criteria outlined in the proposed bill and ban the requester from making UIPA requests for a period of up to 2 years. Persons who are identified as vexatious cannot contest the OIP decision under HRS 91 nor can they appeal to the Ombudsman. The only recourse a person has is to pursue resolution through the courts.
The primary goal of this bill is to deter persons from making inquiries at the Department of Health regarding President Obama’s birth records, or any inquires in regard to the general records or practices defining how the Department of Health handles vital records. Records I might add the Department is obligated to release when requested under HRS 92F-12.
I submit that this bill would be unnecessary had the DoH been forthcoming with the records that it is permissible by law to release and confirmed the veracity of the certificate posted on President Obama’s website. To date, the DoH has never confirmed that the online COLB is legitimate or originated at the DoH.
While I am not a resident of Hawaii, I have been following the above proposal closely and believe it is a violation of the First Amendment right of U.S. Citizens to ask redress from their government if information which should be public has been withheld. It is also a contradiction of your own UIPA law which guarantees public disclosure of many government records.
I note that the effective date of the bill is 2050. My suspicions are that you are trying to fool the public into thinking that there is nothing to be afraid of due to this very distant date, but you actually intend to change that to make it effective this year.
The Office of Information Practices should not have been allowed to testify regarding the bill, as it would be the agency designated to label certain persons “vexatious requesters.” This certainly seems like a blatant conflict of interest to me.
Another citizen said this:
Matters of Constitutional law are not determined by a popular vote. For Senator Espero to express such sentiments only goes to prove his insincerity, his lack of ethics and his failure to recognize the very basics of morality by which real Americans identify.
This clearly anti-Constitutional position establishes that the Great state of Hawaii no longer recognizes the basis on which the American republic was established.
This evening, a citizen requesting an update on SB2937 from Hawaii Senator Will Espero’s office was told that the proposal is most likely dead, at least for this year.
Where is the AP now?
UPDATE, March 18, 2010: The following email exchange occurred this morning:
Sent: Thursday, March 18, 2010 2:00 AM
To: Sen. Will Espero
Subject: SB2397, “VEXATIOUS REQUESTERS”
Good morning, Senator, I am wondering what “deferred” means on the Legislative schedule in regard to this bill. In your opinion, does this mean it will be discussed again this session, or will there not be a vote taken on it?
Deferred usually means it is DEAD for the session. However it can be resurrected, but this is not the norm.
Sharon Rondeau has operated The Post & Email since April 2010, focusing on the Obama birth certificate investigation and other government corruption news. She has reported prolifically on constitutional violations within Tennessee’s prison and judicial systems.