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Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Sunshine Committee Meets for the First Time

Here's the AP story on the first meeting of the Sunshine Committee. During the three-hour meeting it became apparent just how difficult the Committee's task is. The Committee wrestled with these questions: What is an "exemption" from disclosure? How many there are? Where are they? How should the exemptions be categorized so that hearings on a given topic (like agricultural records) could take place in one sitting thus allowing interested parties to present testimony? Finally, what criteria should the Committee use to decide whether a given exemption stays, goes, or should be modified?

This mess is what happens when laws haphazardly proliferate over 30 years. It's like a lawn no one takes care of for 30 years. Now "tidying up" is a huge project.

Tom Carr did an admirable job chairing the Committee. The criticism over his appointment was that he represented a big public records offender, the City of Seattle; the criticism never was that he couldn't run a meeting. He ran this meeting well.