Sign up for the Open Government eNewsletter
We warmly welcome your thoughts on og-blog and especially welcome your emails with suggested postings and links to interesting stories and court cases. If you have something to say about open government in Washington State, sending it to og-blog is probably the best way to get it out. Don’t hesitate to contact us at

Monday, November 26, 2007

Yakima Herald-Republic Editorial on Recording Executive Sessions

The Yakima Herald-Republic editorializes on the proposed legislation requiring local governments and state commissions to make an audio recording of executive sessions. (Executive sessions are the portions of an otherwise open meeting that are closed to the public to discuss some topic such as the price the government will pay for real estate.) Executive sessions are often abused. The government body may claim executive session for something legitimate like discussing a real estate purchase but then the discussion drifts into something like an unrelated--and controversial--ordinance that must be discussed in public. Without an audio recording of what happened, it is very difficult to prove the discussion drifted from a legitimate topic to an illegal one. This bill would remedy that.

The legislation is requested by Attorney General Rob McKenna (R) and State Auditor Brian Sonntag (D). The Herald-Republic writes:

"Any time two statewide elected officials from opposite political parties agree on a significant piece of legislation, voters and lawmakers should pay close attention -- something good is usually afoot."

The editorial goes on to describe the Washington State Association of Counties' opposition to the proposed legislation and then adds:

"We wonder why because any governmental unit not abusing the executive session exemption in the state's Open Meetings Law has nothing to fear from this legislation.
And those that are abusing it, well, they deserve to be found out."

That is why the counties oppose it.