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Monday, September 17, 2007

TNT Editorial on Shoreline Open Meetings Case

The Tacoma News-Tribune editorializes on the Shoreline case:

"It’s bad enough when local-government officials get caught making decisions in private that, according to state law, should be made only in open public meetings.

"But it’s much worse when taxpayers have to foot hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal bills to defend officials accused of such misconduct. ...

"At best, the defendants’ maneuvering was shabby; at worst, it was illegal. Shoreline taxpayers will pay a high price either way."

Why would the TNT, whose readers are mostly in Pierce County, run an editorial on a case all the way up in Shoreline?

"The [Shoreline] case should serve as an object lesson for Pierce County elected officials on the wisdom of honoring both the letter and the spirit of the open-meetings law."

That's why.

The media sincerely care about open government. Government officials need to remember that. When the law is inadequate to deter violations--the penalty facing the Shoreline defendants was a measly $100, which is less than a speeding ticket--then non-legal deterrents kick in. Like editorials telling voters how elected officials are violating the law and not acting in the public interest.