Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Musings: Ethical Concerns

Now that we’ve moved fully into fall, it’s dark most mornings when Koko and I go out walking. Not that either of us mind. I like the stars, and it provides her with cover to surreptitiously snack on things that she otherwise wouldn’t be allowed. Because I can’t tell, when her little face is buried in the grass, is she sniffing, or is she eating?

Just like when I got back to the house and looked at the debut of Koohan Paik’s latest venture, New Pacific Voice, and saw my Honolulu Weekly article on depleted uranium prominently displayed as the lead story, replete with the same graphic and video link, I couldn’t tell, is she is stealing outright, or is she just shockingly ignorant of copyright laws?

The Weekly editor sent her an immediate take-down order. I wonder how many other publications and/or writers will be annoyed to see their work reprinted in full without their permission, and in the case of my story, with no attribution even to the source.

Moving on to other ethical matters, the Garden Island today brings news that two members of the Charter Commission have formally resigned: attorney Jonathan Chun, because he’s worried about conflict of interest; and Carol Ann Davis-Briant, who claims her efforts on behalf of a county manager proposal have been intentionally stymied.

Let’s start with Carol Ann. As is often the case, unless you’re a player, it’s hard to know exactly what happened in the locker room. So like many Kauai residents, I look at who’s on the team to get a sense of what might have gone down. I do know Barbara Bennett to be a straight shooter, so I take her at her word when she’s quoted as saying:

“The Charter Review Commission is committed to moving this process forward as that is the Charter Review Commission’s job. Any comments from Carol Ann’s resignation stating that the commission blocked or created barriers — they are misconceptions by Miss Davis.

“We didn’t block anything, we didn’t create any barriers,” Bennett said. “We were in a process that was derailed by her resigning. ... I don’t want anybody to think this isn’t going to be taken care of.

But then I see that Sherman Shiraishi is the chair of that commission, which makes me think, OK, a lot of smarmy stuff could have being going on, especially behind the scenes. And since Barbara isn’t a political person, she likely wouldn’t even be aware of it. So I'm left not knowing what the true story really is.

And then you’ve got Jonathan, who is following in the footsteps of KEDB Director Mattie Yoshioka. Mattie previously resigned from the Charter Commission in the wake of an “advisory opinion” by the Board of Ethics that she should not appear before the County Council while serving on any county boards.

Apparently Jonathan grew weary of waiting for the Board to take an unequivocal stand on his owm request for clarification. There’s no excuse for the Board’s waffling on this issue.

Still, it’s kind of hard to know what, exactly, needs to be clarified when the Charter language is pretty darn clear:

No officer or employee of the county shall appear in behalf of private interests before any county board, commission or agency.

But then, Act 205 regarding no overnight accommodations on ag land is also pretty darn clear, and folks are still trying to “clarify” it into meaning something that better suits their own purposes. That's the thing about legal opinions. They're just opinions — issued by people who often have vested interests.

While it seems that it was proper for Mattie and Jonathan to resign, and other folks, like attorney Lorna Nishimitsu, who regularly do business with the county should follow suit, the whole issue raises a number of other thorny questions.

For starters, are the members of the Board of Ethics always ethical enough to be passing judgment? I know of one former member who flat out lied in a sworn affadavit, which certainly cast doubt on her ethical standards.

Then there’s the question of just who will serve on the county’s boards if all the insiders are removed. Since many of the movers and shakers are paid by their employers for the time they spend in service, it becomes a much greater sacrifice, especially in this economy, for folks to serve when they must do so without compensation. Perhaps people should be paid for the time they’re asked to spend in the middle of the work day. It might generate more general interest in serving on a board.

And is it any more ethical for someone like Sherman Shiraishi, who may not be personally appearing before the county, but has incredible insider connections and influence, to serve on a county commission?

Finally, is there any way to truly de-politicize what is inherently a political process, since elected officials are the ones who are approving these commission appointments?

In a small community, with an even smaller number of people who are actively involved in public affairs, folks are bound to have their fingers in a number of pies.

That's clear. What's less clear is how to be certain their public service isn't just a guise for self-service.


Anonymous said...

"is she is stealing outright, or is she just shockingly ignorant of copyright laws?"

-- seems at best to be a unique and unsustainable stretch of the "fair use" doctrine (?)

i'll give her this tho - she is one of the better and more intelligent and sophisticated advocates from whatever (mostly local) political school of that that is. if she were the obeyed "sovereignty general" they might actually be a force to be reckoned with


Anonymous said...

political school of that that is


Andrew Cooper said...

Hard to imagine anyone that does not know that reprinting an entire article is simply stealing.

Excerpting a sentence or paragraph and commenting on it is "fair use", anything more is probably a copyright violation.

Difficult to say now, it seems her site is offline.

Anonymous said...

"political school of thought that is"

-- pardon. my bad. thanks for catching that :)

Koohan Paik said...

Aloha friends,

It is nearly 6:00 p.m. here in California, where I am recovering from abdominal surgery. Needless to say, I have not been as present as I should be in the New Pacific Voice project, and checking emails rarely. Only minutes ago, I was made aware of the brouhaha, through a flurry of emails, including one from the esteemed Ragnar Carlson, editor of the Honolulu Weekly, and one from a friend who had forwarded today's kauaieclectic posting.

Following is my response to Ragnar, which explains how this slipup happened.

Aloha Ragnar,

I'm terribly sorry about the unwitting unauthorized use of the Honolulu Weekly materials. We had no intention of going public yet. Rather, we have been experimenting with how the web site works, and pulling stories we admire from other sources (such as the Weekly) in order to see how copy flows, and get the hang of how it all works.

Yesterday, however, our web developer did make the site accessible to the "public," but only with the intention of giving an idea of what the site will ultimately look like for a few of our close friends. But we should have known better: it is impossible to limit *anything* on-line to just a few individuals, so it should have come as no surprise to have received your order to remove your material.

The site is now closed again. Please accept our deepest regrets for the oversight.

E kala mai!

Anonymous said...

what a crock

Anonymous said...

"the esteemed Ragnar Carlson" "pulling stories we admire from other sources"

Wow. What an unctuous apology.

Koohan Paik said...

Hey -- why wouldn't I think highly of Ragnar? I first heard great things about him through a mutual friend, later had positive interactions with him, and plus I think he's doing a excellent job at the Weekly.

Anonymous said...

"pulling stories we admire from other sources" ?

not a brouhaha, just stealing.

Anonymous said...

I like to read what's in the weekly in the weekly, don't need a new website for that.

Anonymous said...

"I like to read what's in the weekly in the weekly, don't need a new website for that."

There is a difference between form and content. Something could use a similar layout but contain different words about a different subject.

Lorem ipsum should have been used as content here is a sample - Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Anonymous said...

Ixnay ealingstay. Okay?

Andy Parx said...

Camera, god's gift to journalism, lacking ethics and then making BS excuses?... I'm shocked, shocked.

Actually she wouldn't be the first to post full articles without clearance. Two local sites come to mind immediately and one commonly lacks attribution or links.

Don't forget fair use of full articles is "intended for" those who have "previously requested... educational (and/or) informational" material, usually through email on a "closed" web site.

Juan Wilson said...


Steal? That's a stretch. One must attribute, however, and share the swag, if any.

It's a bew world. U.S. intellectual property rights will sink inversely to China rises in stature. How 20th century.

Just be glad someone wants to quote you.


rkiay said...

"Ixnay ealingstay."Nonyay :557ay Koay?

Anonymous said...

What is it about "All original content copyright 2009 Honolulu Weekly" that is so hard to understand?"

irk said...

Aren't you glad I like to quote you?

"It's a bew world" -Juan Wilson

Sandhya said...

Good for you for calling her on it. It takes time to research and write what you do. There's value there. To just lift it without attribution is not flattery--its thievery.

Anonymous said...

A personal e-mail to Koohan asking her what happened and to take it down, before launching into her and accusing her of theft on a public web-site, would have been more pono.

Anyway, "Intellectual property has the shelf life of a banana" Bill Gates.

And aren't you two kindof on the same side, at least politically? "A house divided cannot stand". Jesus.

Isaac Harp said...

This is Isaac Harp, also known as Paka. I am working with Koohan Paik, Larry Geller, and others to put this New Pacific Voice website together. Neither Larry nor Koohan had anything to do with posting that article. I posted it so if you want to make assumptions and start attacking someone I'm your man.

I am not experienced with journalism but I am experienced in environmental and human rights issues, primarily ocean stuff. I'm just learning to work with a website so after aggregating articles from various sites, as well as posting some original content such as the excellent video Koohan produced on the Naue burial desecration, I launched the site for internal review by Larry and Koohan. Unfortunately, other partners decided to share the site with others resulting in this warped discussion.

When all of this came up I was on Oahu presenting testimony to the National Ocean Policy Task Force. When I returned to Hawaii island I was disgusted by all of the attacks by people who may or may not be aware of the good works of Koohan and Larry. It has become apparent to me that if a person does a thousand good things everything is fine. Then they make what some of you assumed to be an ethical violation the wolves come out and attack.

Before you attack anyone who is sacrificing themselves for all of us seek out the facts. Attacking someone based on assumptions is worse than what you have perceived as an ethics violation. And if you attack others at least have the courage to post your name rather than hiding behind an anonymous tag.

Isaac Harp

Anonymous said...

The left on Kauai is so vicious. Knee jerk is the norm.

Katy said...

I'd like to second what Mr. Harp has said. I think it's unfair to malign Koohan's character and professional reputation here. I get the sense that she and others who are trying to expand the alternative-media options in Hawai'i are doing so in good faith.

I am convinced that what happened with the website was an innocent mistake, and not an instance of deliberate theft or malicious intent. It seems that corrective action was taken quickly, and that responsibility was claimed by those at fault.

From what I can gather, those involved in the New Pacific Voice project univerally admire Joan's work. I doubt very much that any disrespect, offense or harm was ever intended.

Andy Parx said...

You say you’re not a journalist Isaac and that’s the problem. The fact is you are “publishing” a web site making you a publisher and journalist and if you have any ethics at all- which obviously you don’t- you’d realize that.

And you’d better get some quick because judging buy your response you’re going to keep publishing other people’s work outside of fair use and without asking.

You have some nerve making every excuse in the world without even an apology to Joan for devaluing her work by stealing it. In case you hadn’t noticed professional journalism doesn’t grow on trees or come fully formed. In Joan’s case, it’s her livelihood

While Camera has had problems with professionalism before- problems her fine work don’t excuse- I’m sure if you had checked with Larry he would have warned you because despite the fact that Larry doesn’t necessarily classify himself as a journalist he does have ethical standards and recognizes he is a de facto journalist as do all responsible informational web site owners.

The fact that you blow off Joan’s concerns without even a hint of apology- more like exhibit bluster with a “how dare you accuse me of stealing” attitude- makes me think that if you are the one putting together this web site this problem will continue as it has at Juan’s site. And that your attitude will evolve into the screw you I’m an anarchist” attitude his response above exhibits.

I’ve personally given Juan permission to reprint anything I write and as a matter of fact generally have a policy of allowing any noncommercial use. But I still like to be asked especially if I object to other content on your site and don’t want my work to be associated with it.

That’s because I’ve learned that aloha is respect. You on the other hand have shown the ultimate disrespect and lack of aloha for Joan and her work by not even bothering to ask. Would you go up to someone’s mango tree in their yard and take the fruit on the ground or would you ask first? If it’s the former perhaps your “activism” is more appropriate on the mainland than in the islands.

Signed... Andy Parx

Anonymous said...

Nice try, Isaac, but Koohan's comment disagrees. Why was that article there in the first place? Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit is just as good (Anon. 7:02

Anonymous said...

"And that your attitude will evolve into the screw you I’m an anarchist” attitude his response above exhibits."

Anarchy is a social state in which there is no governing person or group of people, but one based upon mutual cooperation so an Anarchist would ask "would you like me to screw you"?

I'm sick and tired of knee jerk "liberals" calling other "liberals" names and acting like Anarchy is a "bad thing" when it is the ideal form of society. I hope we do evolve to Anarchy!

What's so wrong about peace, love and understanding? "I know it may sound funny but I think that I just stole somebodies song" - Kris Kristopherson

Anonymous said...

"I am convinced that what happened with the website was an innocent mistake, and not an instance of deliberate theft or malicious intent"
How about just plain incompetence! The goals to be heard and disrut get in the way of the learning curve that leads to competence in presentation of your case.

Anonymous said...

I take mangoes and avocados from under neighborhood trees when:

1. they roll onto the road
2. there are rotten fruit already under the tree
3. newly fallen fruit is rotting the next day.

After that, it's fair game until the fruit looks tended again.