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Stene: Disappointed with the lack of communications from state agencies

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By Aaron Stene | Special to Hawaii 24/7

I’ve had issues with two state departments, Hawaii Department of Transportation and the Department of Land and Natural Resources. The DLNR has posted various documents pertaining to the Thirty Meter Telescope on their website. I inquired if they’re going to post a certain document that grants the TMT the authorization to start construction on Mauna Kea, which they also posted on their web page in 2015.

One of the DLNR’s public information officers responded to my inquiry instead of the person I e-mailed. I was told all DLNR employees are no longer authorized to talk to the general public, and all inquiries have to be routed through the public affairs office. As far as my inquiry about that notice to proceed document, DLNR public affairs stated to me they will continue to update their website, but there is no guarantee they’ll post this particular document online.

I’ve run into similar issues with HDOT regarding the proposed Kona International Airport Federal Inspection Station project. The bids for this facility were opened on June 15th, 2018. However, the HDOT still hasn’t awarded this project yet. Most HDOT projects are awarded within 60 days of bid opening. This caused me to investigate further why it hasn’t been awarded.

HDOT public affairs weren’t very helpful or transparent when I tried to inquire I had to go through alternative means to see where things stand.

As it turned out, this information was wrong. Then I inquired with HDOT public affairs one final time recently. They finally revealed why this project hasn’t been awarded yet.

HDOT issued a bid addendum on June 8th, 2018, a week before the bid opening, that extended the bid award time frame from 60 to 455 days from bid opening. If they told me this initially, then I would’ve backed off.

That didn’t happen, so I got reprimanded by public affairs for e-mailing too many people. There is also a possibility they may have blacklisted my e-mail address, as I’m having difficulty e-mailing other divisions in the Hawaii Department of Transportation.

I am very disappointed with how both of these inquiries were handled by these state departments. Inquiries from the general public should be handled much more transparently than what has happened in both of these instances.

Aaron Stene

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