The Garden Island’s reporters ask the County of Kauai lots of questions. And we do mean, lots.
Budgets, taxes, parks, elections, police, accidents, solid waste, recycling and fires are just some of the subjects we often are seeking information about. County protocol requires TGI and other media to send queries to the public information folks. We can’t just call the mayor, the planning director, the police chief, the prosecuting attorney, and get their take on things. We can’t call the parks people and ask about plans for Lydgate Park. We can’t walk up to police officers at a crash and ask what happened. Well, we could, but those questions would go unanswered and we would be directed to the county’s PIOs. Emailed questions must go to the public relations side, and they will, sometimes sooner, sometimes later, provide an emailed response.
While we would like to just call sources at the county directly, we understand that’s not how the county operates. Some might see that as the county being controlling with information, which is it. Others might see it as the county being meticulous and taking necessary steps to be accurate, which is it.
Regardless, we must give our friends with the county’s PIO team credit where credit is due. They respond quickly and professionally to our requests for information. Led by the mayor’s chief of staff, Sarah Blane, along with former TGI reporter Alden Alayvilla and Kim Tamoka, the county does make a substantial investment in being sure it has the staff to provide the media and the public with information, and we appreciate their efforts. The county has provided TGI not with just fluffy PR pieces touting a county program or singing the praises of an employee, but stories on court cases and sentencings. Their efforts do not go unnoticed here at TGI and elsewhere.
We bring this up because the county was recently honored as one of the top jurisdictions in the nation for website transparency, and achieving success informing and engaging citizens with their digital strategy to drive changes in behavior or inspire action.
The County of Kauai, Office of the County Clerk and Kauai County Council, was recently awarded the 2017 Digital Achievement Award by Granicus for its efforts to make accessing county information more transparent through its website and enhanced public awareness.
Granicus is the largest cloud solutions provider for government communications, meeting and agenda management, providing more than 3,000 public sector organizations with digital services.
According to Granicus, “the Office of the County Clerk embarked on a journey to enhance the use of digital services for the people of the County of Kauai, improve internal and external customer service and increase public access to information and expanding citizen engagement in the legislative process.”
A few years ago, information on the County Clerk’s website was scarce and members of the public needed to go to the Historic County Building to view a County Council Meeting agenda posted on the bulletin board or request to have an agenda mailed to them.
Today, the County Clerk’s website includes access to all meeting agendas, agenda packets with clickable links, lobbyist registration statements and expenditure statements, uncodified ordinances, electronic and user-friendly Kauai County Code, the Charter of the County of Kauai, all adopted resolutions, and more.
The public is also able to sign-up to receive notices and agendas via E-mail, or submit testimony electronically. The Kauai County Council also utilizes a Facebook page to share information regularly.
We appreciate the county’s PIO team and congratulate them on this award.