Rob Perez

Raising Cane

By Rob Perez

Wednesday, July 18, 2001

Honolulu County’s
Web site disturbingly

Auto dealers, accountants and insurers are plugging their services. So are lawyers, engineers and restaurateurs.

Need a spiritual lift? There's a handful of churches touting their places of worship as well.

Welcome to the City & County of Honolulu's official Web site:, a sort of electronic city hall.

While the site is filled mostly with information on county government, it includes sections that enable businesses, churches, political organizations and other private entities to publicize their services and Web sites -- compliments of Honolulu taxpayers.

In this regard, Mayor Jeremy Harris' administration is unique in the islands.

The main government Web sites for Hawaii's other counties don't offer a similar service. Neither does the state's.

They realize that government Web pages should serve primarily as forums for government information, not as vehicles for private groups to solicit business or members.

"I'm not sure (business postings) would be consistent with our overall plan, which is to provide a service of what we're doing or what's happening within our county from a government perspective," said Peter Young, deputy managing director for Hawaii County.

What's especially troubling with the Honolulu County site is its inclusion of links to various churches, almost all of them Christian.

Mitch Kahle, of Hawaii Citizens for the Separation of State and Church, believes religious groups should not be allowed to promote themselves on a government Web page for the same reasons they can't do so at City Hall. It's that pesky separation issue.

"If you can't put something up on a wall at City Hall, you most certainly can't put it up on the Web site," Kahle said.

Equally disturbing is that the standards the city uses to approve postings don't seem to be consistently applied.

When Kahle requested that his organization be included with the listing of churches, it was added -- no questions asked.

But when the Satanist Church of Hawaii made the same request, Andrew Crother was told his church could be added only if it was registered to do business in Hawaii or as a nonprofit organization.

Such a requirement is clearly detailed on the Web site.

Yet Kahle's organization has no business license and is not registered as a nonprofit group -- a violation of the Web posting policy.

The city will check on that, said spokeswoman Carol Costa.

She also said the Web site was set up several years ago by a company that managed other city government sites, some of which had business links.

Costa said businesses and other organizations are not solicited or charged to be included on the Honolulu site. A Web page, she added, is all about trying to provide as much information as possible for users.

Star-Bulletin columnist Rob Perez writes on issues
and events affecting Hawaii. Fax 529-4750, or write to
Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210,
Honolulu 96813. He can also be reached
by e-mail at:

E-mail to City Desk

Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]

© 2001 Honolulu Star-Bulletin