FOR ONLY ASKING A QUESTION!
by Sharon Rondeau
(Aug. 28, 2010) — On Tuesday, August 3, the Hawaii Department of Health disclosed what it said were the three most recent email requests “related to President Obama’s birth certificate” to Mark Niesse, Associated Press writer, whose August 7 article accurately quoted The Post & Email’s response to his query. His initial contact of August 3, 2010 reads:
I am a reporter for The Associated Press in Honolulu writing because I want to contact Sharon Rondeau for an article about Barack Obama’s birth certificate. The article is about a new state law allowing the Department of Health to ignore repeated requests for Obama’s birth certificate.
Please call me at 808-536-5510, or e-mail me at email@example.com.
–Mark Niesse, AP-Honolulu
Name: Mark Niesse
Company: Associated Press Website:
and our response was:
Hello, Mr. Niesse, as the editor of the paper, I do not give interviews. I am aware of the “Vexatious Requester” law, and no one here is requesting Obama’s birth certificate, since it is obvious that he doesn’t possess a valid one.
Thank you for your interest in The Post & Email, Inc.
The Post & Email, Inc.
Also on August 3, the following email exchange occurred between Janice Okubo, Communications Director for the Hawaii Department of Health, and Mark Niesse:
From Janice Okubo
Sent: Tuesday, August 03, 2010 8:59 AM
To: ‘Niesse, Mark’
Subject: RE: Vexatious Requestors
Below are the three latest requests related to President Obama’s birth certificate. The email addresses have been redacted. We know these requests are looking for the President’s vital records information because no one else ever requests index data. Index data is defined at http://hawaii.gov/health/vital-records/obama.html and its purpose was to help people confirm their birth records are at the department before they pay to order their own records.
These recent requests will involve the department printing 300-400 pages of first and last names and gender and several hours of a staff person’s time (for one year of index data). We have already confirmed on our website that President Obama’s name is included in our index data. Please call me if you have further questions.
Evidently Ms. Okubo and Mr. Niesse are on a first-name basis.
The three most recent examples of requests which the Department of Health sent to Mr. Niesse are as follows:
From: Sharon Rondeau
Sent: Monday, August 02, 2010 4:09 PM
Subject: BIRTH INDEX
Thank you for your last response. I understand that the Birth Index is available one year at a time. You had quoted me a price of $553.25 for the Birth Index for 1961-64. What would the fee be for just one year?
Sent: Thursday, July 29, 2010 10:58 AM
Subject: *****SPAM***** Question about Order
This mail is probably spam. The original message has been attached along with this report, so you can recognize or block similar unwanted mail in future.
Content preview: Aloha, I will be sending a money order for $98.75 so that I can receive the computer printed pages of the 1961 birth index data. I was wondering if I could have a friend pick up those pages from the HDOH office at the end of next week, provided that I get the money order to you by Monday morning. […]
What then followed were some codes and text which seemed to indicate that the message contained HTML and was therefore filtered.
The Post & Email has spoken with the sender of the above message, whose purpose was not to send spam but rather, to make arrangements to pay for one year of index data to be made available by the Hawaii Department of Health. The sender also informed The Post & Email that after sending the money order, it was returned by the Department of Health, even though a letter had been included as to purpose of the money and the specific request.
The third and last “request” which the Department of Health supplied to Mr. Niesse is as follows:
From: Sharon Rondeau
Sent: Wednesday, July 14, 2010 5:19 AM
Subject: RE: UIPA request
Thank you very much for your response to my UIPA request of May 28, 2010. I have two questions:
1. What is the date of the birth index data for the years 1960-64? Has it been generated recently in print form, or would it be generated based upon my request and payment?
2. Is the requested birth index data available for public inspection and copying at the Hawaii Department of Health at 1250 Punchbowl Street?
Thank you again.
RESEARCHER had mentioned the format of the 1960-64 birth index in his August 21, 2010 report to us.
The above communication shows that someone was told that he or she could receive one year of index data, while The Post & Email was told it could not.
While the Department of Health claimed that it had redacted email addresses, it is unknown how Mr. Niesse obtained the email address “firstname.lastname@example.org” to contact this requester. The other requester has told The Post & Email that he or she never provided a last name, yet was contacted by Mr. Niesse on a private Facebook page. The Hawaii Department of Health has given out personal contact information that is protected by their own UIPA law, which reads:
(1) Government records which, if disclosed, would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy;
The “protections” from which Obama benefits by having his records hidden apparently do not apply to anyone else.
Did Janice Okubo “check out” the people submitting requests and questions as they did Ms. Kathleen Gotto?
None of the above-referenced emails were “requests,” so the Department of Health misrepresented them to Mark Niesse. They were not repeat requests and therefore did not qualify under the new Hawaii law as “vexatious.” Janice Okubo reportedly stated to Mr. Niesse that the Health Department is receiving “about two or three e-mails now seek verification of Obama’s birth each week, compared to between 10 and 20 weekly requests earlier this year.”
If Okubo had to go back to July 14 from August 3 to find the three most recent “requests” which were not requests at all, then she misrepresented the actual number of requests for anything which the department has been receiving.
The Post & Email wishes to correct Ms. Janice Okubo, Communications Director at the Hawaii Department of Health. We are not seeking Obama’s birth records. We are gathering information which is proving that the Hawaii Department of Health has lied, obfuscated the truth, broken Hawaii law and stonewalled legitimate requests for information for unknown reasons. It took them five months to answer one requester, and even then, their “answer” was not a true response.
The information we have amassed proves that they do not answer within the required ten-working-day time frame; they do not provide helpful, clear answers to questions; they make assumptions about requests they receive, and they do not tell the truth. Why else would one person be informed that the birth index is available in one-year increments and another told that it is not?
Neither Mark Niesse nor the Department of Health has answered our request for a response as to the contradictory statements they have made about the General Birth Index.