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Ian Lind • Online daily from Kaaawa, Hawaii

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Reasonable cost for public documents delivered in electronic form?

August 27th, 2014 · 5 Comments

What’s a reasonable charge for copies of public records delivered as digital pdf files?

And when those files originated in digital form, rather than as paper documents that need to be scanned, should that be reflected in the price the public is asked to pay?

These questions are what came to mind when I belatedly realized digital copies of documents filed in lawsuits before the state’s Intermediate Court of Appeals and Supreme Court are publicly available online.

The documents are now available as pdf files through the Judiciary’s eCourt Kokua system.

For reporters, publicly available document systems like this can prove to be a goldmine of information. I’ve used the federal PACER system (public access to court electronic records) for years.

Not all public documents are available online through eCourt Kokua and most traffic documents are only available at the courthouse. If there is no pdf icon displayed next to the docket entry, the document is only be available at the courthouse. If there is a pdf icon displayed next to the docket entry in eCourt Kokua, this document is available online for single document purchase or via subscription. However, documents with a pdf icon may not be available the same day IMMEDIATELY after purchase due to delays in document processing.

Public documents with a pdf icon may be purchased through eCourt Kokua. Individual documents are available for $3.00 per document or 10 cents per page, whichever sum is greater.

Subscriptions are available for $125.00 per quarter or $500.00 per year. A subscription entitles the subscriber to unlimited single downloads of public documents with a pdf icon during the term of the subscription.

Do not subscribe unless you are sure you want the subscription. Your money will not be refunded.

In the PACER system, the public pays 10 cents per page, or $3 per document, whichever is less.

The Judiciary has turned this around with its charge of 10 cents per page, or $3 per document, whichever is more.

Keep in mind that attorneys must submit their documents to the court as pdf files. So most of those files don’t need to be scanned, which is what in the past required additional time and effort.

One could, I suppose, argue that electronic documents should be available for viewing online without charge, especially since the Supreme Court and Appeals Court don’t really provide a suitable area for the public or press to review case files without charge.

I don’t recall any public discussion of the Judiary’s document fees, although this could have happened.

And I haven’t started checking how much other jurisdictions charge.

Nor have I checked to see whether the eCourt Kokua terms of use would technically prevent several people from sharing a single subscription.

Your thoughts on charges for public documents in electronic form?

→ 5 CommentsTags: Court · Media · Sunshine

Hear from a nonviolent advocate on the ground in Ferguson

August 26th, 2014 · 3 Comments

The American Friends Service Committee, a national service and advocacy organization grounded in the Quaker’s faith in the power of nonviolence, presented a one-hour panel discussion this morning with focused on the situation in Ferguson, Missouri.

“Injustice in the justice system” featured Joshua Saleem, Peace Education Director, who has been working with youth in Ferguson, and Lewis Webb, Jr., AFSC Project Coordinator on the New Jim Crow Project in New York.?

As a Quaker organization that believes in the worth of every person, we call on people of goodwill—especially those with privilege and power—to join us in addressing the systemic and structural racism at the roots of Mike Brown’s death—and that of so many others nationwide.?

The discussion included comments on the media bias which focused on a small number of people who participated in looting and violence, while failing to report things like the training sessions in nonviolence were held in conjunction with public protests.

The program was offered live as a Google video “hangout,” which worked surprisingly well to bring together speakers in different parts of the country.

It was recorded and is now available for delayed viewing.

AFSC offers a variety of resources as part of its “Ending Racism” program, which are worth looking at.

And you can get word on upcoming “hangouts” on other issues by following #afsc on Twitter or on Facebook.

→ 3 CommentsTags: Politics

Hawaiian Telcom disappoints again

August 25th, 2014 · 20 Comments

With the proposed takeover of Time Warner Cable, parent of Hawaii’s Oceanic Cable, by Comcast, I’ve been reading online complaints about Comcast’s service and trying to get a sense of what this deal means for Hawaii.

It’s clear from online discussions that cable bliss is hard to find. Two conclusions I’ve drawn are that almost everyone is unhappy with their cable and/or broadband provider to one degree or another, and the grass always seems greener on the other side of the fence. I’m trying to keep those lessons in mind as I evaluate our recent experience

And I keep hoping that Hawaiian Telcom may be a viable competitor at least offering an alternative to Oceanic, but then reality breaks in.

In the most recent instance, it was our landline phone service. We noticed the sudden drop-off in telemarketing calls, which account for most incoming calls on our legacy landline. But it took a while to realize that the telemarketers weren’t getting through because the line was dead.

Belatedly, I reported the trouble on our line. The earliest appointment for a service call was nearly ten days off, but you take what you can get. It went on my calendar for today, August 25.

But early last week I got a call from Hawaiian Telcom’s customer service saying that several spots were now open and offering an earlier date. We agreed on Friday, Aug. 22, and I shifted my schedule around to stay home all day and wait for the technician to arrive.

Friday came, and I waited. And waited. And waited. I’ve been in that situation before, and usually the truck shows up right at the end of the day. This time, though, Hawaiian Telcom was a no show.

I called the next morning to complain and find out what had happened. I expected to be told that the tech had gotten unexpectedly delayed at another job late in the day. But when they pulled up our account, I was told that there was no information entered to indicate the service appointment had been rescheduled for Friday. In the service department, they still had us on the calendar for Monday.

I know it’s dangerous to draw conclusions from a single incident, but it looks to me like corporate communication inside Hawaiian Telcom is a mess.

I was fuming. And I haven’t even gone into the aggravating automated telephone system that took me several tries before I found a way to break through to deal with our scheduling problem. In the first couple of times through the system, there just wasn’t any applicable option. It really needs to be redesigned.

At this point, we’re seriously thinking about just dropping our landline altogether, although we’ll get our line trouble diagnosed and fixed before making a final decision on cutting the cord.

And that hope of Hawaiian Telcom as a viable option for phone, tv, and broadband service? I frankly just don’t know what to think.

→ 20 CommentsTags: Consumer issues

Tourism: Hitting record highs or steadily declining?

August 24th, 2014 · 15 Comments

I have to admit being totally confused by the apparent conflict between two recent reports about the state of Hawaii’s visitor industry.

This morning’s Star-Advertiser reports that tourism officials are looking to “extend record-setting visitor numbers” achieved over the past few years (“Tourism officials aim higher“).

Reporter Allison Schaefers tells us:

Hawaii Tourism Authority board members have set a goal of luring 8.41 million travelers to the islands next year. The target reflects an increase of 1.9 percent over the record 8.25 million arrivals expected to be achieved this year. Likewise, officials set a 2015 goal of achieving $15.11 billion in visitor spending, which is 2.8 percent above the record $14.69 billion in spending anticipated this year. The new 2015 targets indicate officials expect the record-setting growth that they have experienced since 2012 to continue.

It sounds like we’ve been doing pretty well in the tourism sector.

But last week, Pacific Business News featured a Q&A with economist Paul Brewbaker which conveyed a very different viewpoint (“Paul Brewbaker on what ails Hawaii’s economy — and how to fix it“).

Here’s one of Brewbaker’s pithy observations (among several worth mentioning):

Tourism export receipts have been shrinking outright for 25 years, not to mention shrinking as a share of Hawaii’s gross domestic product, making people worse off, and all the state can say is “we’re going to keep doing the same old things, fill in the shoulder seasons and get more conventions.” Tourism has been declining ever since we built the Hawaii Convention Center. Correlation is not causation, but when do we get our refund on that loser?

So what are we supposed to make of this situation?

Have we seen several years of record-setting performance in tourism? Or 25 years of declining numbers?

How are these two views reconciled?

→ 15 CommentsTags: Business · Economics · Media · Politics

Sunday morning in Kaaawa

August 24th, 2014 · No Comments

It’s a somewhat gray Sunday morning in Kaaawa. We had a few passing showers while on our early walk down along the beach, but the sun seems to be winning the day.

It seems like a good time to share another few bits of the experience.

Click on the photo below to see more of the beach in Kaaawa just after dawn.

Kaaawa, Hawaii

→ No CommentsTags: Kaaawa · Photographs