Is the cooperative cooperative?

Carol Bain of Puhi, a community activist, is leading the charge to encourage leaders of the Kaua’i Island Utility Cooperative board of directors to adopt open-meetings rules similar to the state’s sunshine law, or open-meetings law.

Co-op leaders aren’t buying it.

They say their Board Policy No. 16, which outlines provisions of acceptance and answering of member requests for information, plus their open meetings where members always get time to ask their questions and provide their opinions, is enough openness for them.

Bain disagrees.

She has requested KIUC board members adopt the state sunshine law as their own, and they have, basically, refused.

“This KIUC resolution (board policy 16) is inadequate to say the least. KIUC demands to know the intent of the requester prior to disclosure of records that should be made public,” said Bain.

“That is wrong, and I will be working to educate them about the reasons they are wrong, though they do not want to hear me,” she added.

“The board believes that the combination of its open-meeting policy, posting of agendas and minutes and Board Policy No. 16 strikes a good balance, making KIUC much more open than most private entities,” said David W. Proudfoot, KIUC general counsel, in response to queries from Bain.

“The above having been said, the board is always interested in listening to the ideas of its members. As a result, it requests that you set out the specific provisions of HRS Chapter 92F (the state open-meetings law) that you think would be appropriate for use by KIUC, and it will consider your thoughts,” Proudfoot said.

“Without sunshine in place, it will be impossible to report fully, or for the public to understand the decisions being made,” Bain countered.

“I know KIUC does not ‘have’ to follow sunshine, as it is not at this time considered a state agency (as Proudfoot also pointed out), but most aspects of sunshine should be followed by such an important entity whose sole purpose is tied to the lives of Kaua’i citizens and its future,” she argued.

“After reviewing their current policy, anyone can see that KIUC is far from compliance with open records,” Bain said.

“It’s going to take a lot of education for KIUC to get compliance,” she said.

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