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Saturday, November 10, 2007

Olympian Wins Award For Fighting for Public Records Law

The Olympian won the prestigious 2007 Ted Natt First Amendment Award for the paper's work to obtain public records from Thurston County showing the amounts the county paid in a sexual harassment suit against the Prosecuting Attorney's Office--and for passing a law to ensure that others don't have the same problem. The Olympian, spearheaded by the paper's executive editor Vickie Kilgore, worked to pass a law making it crystal clear that legal invoices were disclosable. Legal invoices were already disclosable, but when Thurston County still refused to turn them over, the Legislature had to pass a law saying, in essence, "Seriously. We meant what we said a while ago. Disclose these." Here is a past og-blog posting on the passage of this law.

The Olympian's Vickie Kilgore said it all: "Getting a law passed is one thing. Getting officials to follow that law is another."

P.S. Why was Thurston County fighting so hard to keep the invoices from the public? The total tab was $6 million for court awards, legal fees, etc. As one of the legislators who co-sponsored the bill said, the county had six million reasons to fight so hard.