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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Counties Oppose Recording Executive Sessions in Effort to Curb Forest Fires and Childhood Obesity

The (Vancouver) Columbian reports that the Washington State Association of Counties voted to oppose a legislative proposal by Attorney General Rob McKenna (R) and State Auditor Brian Sonntag (D) to require governing bodies to record closed-to-the-public executive sessions. The recording could only be reviewed by a judge privately in his or her chambers to see if the executive session was on one of the few topics governments are allowed to discuss privately like the price real estate the county is buying or selling.

Without a recording, it is very difficult to know whether the executive sessions are proper under the limited grounds for excluding the public from open meetings. The counties claim in the story that recording would require a transcript to be prepared and that the transcript would be a disclosable public record, making a confidential executive session impossible.

Wrong. The proposed legislation would not require a transcript at all and expressly provides that the recording is not subject to disclosure (unless a judge determines that it was not a proper executive session). The counties might as well claim that the proposed legislation requires forest fires or childhood obesity.