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Sunday, August 26, 2007

"Darth Vader" to Chair Sunshine Committee--Editorials V

Two editorials today--one critical of Tom Carr's appointment and one not:

  • The Tri-City Herald: "Gov. Chris Gregoire was charged with choosing some of the members. Mostly, she chose well. But when naming the chairman she botched the job. She gave it to Seattle's city attorney, Tom Carr, a notorious foe of open records and of the public's right to know. ... Gregoire sends the wrong message about her commitment to open government by appointing a leader who has a record of open opposition to making public records available to the public."

  • The Yakima Herald-Republic: "Unless developments prove otherwise, we have no quarrel with the makeup of Washington's new 'Sunshine Committee,' and look forward to a long-overdue look by the panel at exemptions to the state's Public Records Law. There was a brief flap in some quarters when Gov. Chris Gregoire appointed Seattle City Attorney Tom Carr as chairman. He was in the middle of an open records fuss in a case, Hangartner v. City of Seattle, in which the state Supreme Court sided with Seattle and said government agencies can claim attorney-client privilege to withhold documents from the public. That's a privilege we and many other open-records advocates believe has been sorely abused in the past. But we're talking about a 13-member committee and Carr is only one member, albeit the chairman. The rest of the panel shows commendable balance and broad spectrum of public records interests."

In case anyone--like, say, the Seattle City Attorney--thinks og-blog is unfair, please note that we posted an editorial not critical of the appointment. No problem. This isn't personal. It's just that a very, very important right--and one of the few practical ways citizens have to control their government--is at stake.