Back in 1997, Environment Hawai`i and Common Cause Hawai`i sued the Board of Land and Natural Resources for holding “briefings” (meetings by any other name) where public testimony was not allowed to be given. We won and the Land Board agreed to mend its ways.
But no more. On June 13, the board held a “briefing” on a highly controversial proposal to change fishing rules for West Hawai`i and Maui. The meeting room was packed with people, many of whom wanted to weigh in on BLNR Chair William Aila’s decision to remove a ban on SCUBA fishing in the proposed rules. Aila, however, informed the crowd that testimony would not be allowed.
Aila’s actions in unilaterally removing provisions from the rule package are disturbing in their own right. As debate swirls over that, however, we feel it is important to call attention to the Sunshine Law violations as well.