Friday, May 7, 2004

Gov vetoes
convention center bill

Gov. Linda Lingle vetoed a bill yesterday that would have kept secret the booking records of the state's $300 million convention center.

The bill would have allowed those renting the Hawai'i Convention Center to request that their identities be kept secret for up to 10 days after the convention was held.

The bill had been supported by both the convention center and the Hawaii Tourism Authority and by Lingle's tourism liaison, Marsha Wienert.

Lingle said yesterday the bill would change the public's ability to access records already kept by the tourism authority.

"Presently, the HTA records are presumed to be public, and most of the records that could be withheld under this bill are now available upon request by members of the public," Lingle said.

Also, she said, the contracts might contain discounts or subsidies, and the public would then not know about the operation and management of the convention center if "the public is denied timely access to the records."

Also, the bill would allow controversial organizations to rent the convention center without the public knowing and having a chance to object, Lingle said.

Finally, Lingle said, the bill would deny the public information about upcoming conventions to "compete with exhibitors, market products or services in connection with the event and simply examine how well the convention center is doing in terms of advance bookings."


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