Local Connection: Media Leaks

Local Connection: Media Leaks
Updated: Aug. 3, 2017 at 3:13 PM HST
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The Trump administration's fixation and paranoia about leaks to news media appears to be catching on in Hawaii – at least in the Honolulu Fire Department.

Last week Fire Chief Manuel Neves called police to complain that an official fire department document was leaked to the media. Under state law – all records are open except for certain narrow exceptions – like medical and personnel records.

But it is a misdemeanor to knowingly disclose a non-public record. This could be the first criminal prosecution into a leak in Hawaii.

The fire department union called the chief's criminal complaint an intimidation tactic to scare firefighters from griping publicly about his leadership.

For those of us in the Hawaii media, this is just the latest of many efforts to prevent access to information about how our government is operating. The administrations of Mayor Caldwell and Governor Ige are the least transparent we have ever seen.

What they fail to understand is that trying to controlling information and punishing leakers will backfire. When government clamps up, reporters will get the information, most likely from people unhappy with their bosses.

So when leaks lead to bad press, the first place leaders should look for someone to blame is in the mirror.

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