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Friday, August 24, 2007

"Darth Vader" To Chair Sunshine Committee--Editorials III

Two more editorials:

  • The Wenatchee World: "The [Sunshine] committee holds its first meeting next week, and considering the disposition of its leadership some wonder if the nickname will fit. 'Sunshine' may be the wrong word. The Partly Cloudy Committee or the Fading Twilight Committee might be more appropriate, depending on what happens next. The optimistic view, that the committee will be a vigorous advocate for open government, was dealt a blow this week as Gov. Chris Gregoire appointed the new committee's chairman. She chose Seattle City Attorney Tom Carr, known as one of the state's most effective proponents of secrecy, or at least the kind of piecemeal openness that makes a mockery of the basic concept of open government. That concept is simple, and ensconced in state law: The public decides what it should know about government, not the government that decides what the public is allowed to know. Carr, as an advocate for his government clients, helped push the state toward the latter view. In other words, away from the sunshine."

  • The (Vancouver) Columbian: "We share a concern of Greg Overstreet, the former open government ombudsman for state Attorney General Rob McKenna. The two men are strong and vocal advocates for open records, and Overstreet says Gov. Chris Gregoire's selection of Seattle City Attorney Tom Carr as committee chairman was a poor choice. Carr 'represents the city of Seattle, which has a horrible track record on public records,' Overstreet told The Columbian. 'Having Carr on the committee sends the wrong message. There needs to be a diversity of viewpoints' on the committee, 'but that pick for the chairman is too polarizing.'"

For those politicians out there who think open government is a minor issue--and one you can get away with having a bad record on because the public doesn't understand the details and really doesn't care--please consider the list of editorials in the past two days on this "minor" issue: The Tacoma News-Tribune, Spokesman-Review, Olympian, Port Townsend Leader, Seattle Times, and now the Wenatchee World and (Vancouver) Columbian. Politicians ignore open government at their political peril.