Monday, December 29, 2008
Sunday, December 28, 2008
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Early reports indicate that the world did not end.
Publicly addressing the public performance of public employees paid with public money and overseen by publicly elected officials accountable to the public is not a "private" affair. It just isn't.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Saturday, December 20, 2008
Friday, December 19, 2008
Your money. But you can't know how it's being spent (or given away). The bailouts are a deal between Treasury and giant corporations--you aren't part of it. So quit asking to see how your money is being spent. Who do you think you are?
Thanks to Jason Mercier at the Washington Policy Center for sending this along to og-blog.
Saturday, December 13, 2008
The Fed won't release the records under the Freedom of Information Act.
This could be the biggest heist in world history and we can't see what's going on.
Friday, December 12, 2008
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — A top aide for Missouri's governor encouraged staffers to delete e-mails under the mistaken belief they had found a loophole in the state's public records laws, an attorney fired from the governor's office said in a deposition released Wednesday.
Gov. Matt Blunt, meanwhile, denounced the investigation into his office's e-mail practices as "ridiculous" and "an utter waste of money."
A lawsuit by a bipartisan pair of court-appointed attorneys general contends Blunt "knowingly and purposely" violated Missouri's open-records law by denying access to e-mails. It asks a court to impose fines.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
The Ohio Supreme Court ruled that a seemingly deleted public record must be recovered. Some agencies in Washington state should be paying attention to this.
UPDATE: Here is an interesting editorial on the case.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Creating a committee to study the feasibility of creating a board with public records act and open public meetings act responsibilities.
Concerning the exemption of the special commitment center under the public records act.
Thanks to Jason Mercier at the Washington Policy Center for this heads up.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
However, various Kitsap County employees, including prosecutors and sheriffs deputies, filed suit to prevent disclosure because they thought releasing an employee's town of residence (like Bremerton, Silverdale, etc.) would allow people to find their homes. The evidence in the case showed that, as part of the county Assessor's property records, the county's own website provides a Google map to the location of any property owner's home; a declaration in the case described how the county web site provided a map to the home of a prosecutor.
The court ruled that the county employees did not have a "privacy" interest in their town of residence. An exemption from disclosure allows the withholding of a public employee's "residential address" but the court ruled that a town of residence and a full residential address are two different things.
Because the county withheld the records that should have been disclosed, the court awarded the Kitsap Sun its attorneys fees and a daily penalty of between $5 and $100 per day. The amount of the fees and penalty will be determined this month.
Note: Allied Law Group represented the Kitsap Sun in this case.
Monday, December 1, 2008
The Washington State Auditor's Office is full of very cool people who work very hard to make government more open and accountable. Help them out if you can.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Note: The story mentions a court case by the Yakima Herald-Republic to obtain records in a related case. Allied Law Group represents the newspaper in that case so we will not comment on it via og-blog.
Monday, November 24, 2008
Friday, November 21, 2008
Monday, November 17, 2008
The survey looks at laws on the books, not how (or if) they are enforced. We suspect Washington would place lower if actual compliance were factored in.
Saturday, November 15, 2008
The Tacoma News-Tribune has this editorial on the matter.
This is very good news. Now the Legislature needs to enact the Sunshine Committee's recommendation. You'll be hearing about this on og-blog in the coming weeks and months.
UPDATE 1: The Seattle Times writes this editorial on the Sunshine Committee's recommendation.
UPDATE 2: The Spokesman-Review writes this editorial.
Monday, November 10, 2008
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
UPDATE: This editorial from the Yakima Herald-Republic analyzes the issue.
Monday, November 3, 2008
This blog entry from the Tacoma News-Tribune's Dave Seago is fascinating reading.
UPDATE: After the outcry noted above, the Pierce County Auditor might release the results of the election late Tuesday night. If she feels like it.
Here is the previous og-blog posting on this.
Saturday, November 1, 2008
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
This blog entry from Sam Taylor at the Bellingham Herald describes the situation.
UPDATE: Bellingham Herald reporter Sam Taylor will stand up at tonight's closed meeting and object to the closure of the meeting. Right on. Somebody has to do this.
We might have good laws in this state, but they don't always get enforced (to put it mildly). This is borne out by the states that beat Washington in the rankings: New Jersey, Rhode Island and Hawaii. (Louisiana was just below Washington.) All of these states have histories of corruption. So they have great laws on the books, but that doesn't mean they get enforced.
That's the challenge for us in Washington: given that we have some good laws on the books, let's see that they're actually enforced.
A Thurston County Superior Court judge issued a temporary injunction preventing disclosure and will take up the question of a permanent injunction.
This story in the Daily World describes the case.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Is this legal? Here is what can be discussed in an executive session; you be the judge:
"[D]iscussion by a governing body of salaries, wages, and other conditions of employment to be generally applied within the agency shall occur in a meeting open to the public."
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
How do we know about this? You guessed it:
"The KING 5 Investigators have obtained e-mails indicating the relationship [between the city and the campaign] was so cozy the campaign committee even asked the parks department to produce and pay for one of its mailers because of the campaign's 'limited resources.'"
Monday, October 20, 2008
This is disappointing. Palin has numerous reformer qualifications. But taking the 1990s approach of printing out emails and charging for the paper copies is not what a reformer should do.
We assume this story is true but MSNBC is not exactly objective about McCain or Palin (to put it mildly). Presumably there was a letter from the Alaska state government quoting these charges so it's probably a true story.
UPDATE: A lawyer from the Axis Law Group correctly noted that the number of employees is 16, 000, not 160,000 as previously noted.
Saturday, October 18, 2008
This is good news and bad news. The good news is that the emails are getting out. The bad news is that it took litigation by several large newspapers with lots of expensive lawyers--and the little fact that the Republican Governor was facing a re-election challenge from the Democratic Attorney General, who also sought the emails--to get this done. It shouldn't take hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees and a gubernatorial election to get public records.
Friday, October 17, 2008
Thanks to the person who sent this to us. Since he hasn't told us we can use his name, we'll call him the Closet Libertarian.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Two important principles are at issue in campaign finance issues: the public's right to know who is giving to whom, and the First Amendment rights of donors to spend money to express their political views.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
The cost will be about $3,000 for Board members' and staff lodging. Battle Ground-area voters might remember this when the inevitable plea comes in a few months from the District for a property tax increase "for the children".
UPDATE: The Board decided not to hold the "open" meeting at the resort.
1. The Initiative/Referendum process;
2. Statutory interpretation;
3. The public’s right to know through the public disclosure/open records laws;
4. Freedom of political speech;
5. Private property rights; and
6. The right to earn a living.
We find it interesting, and refreshing, that when rating a court on core freedoms that open-government laws make the short list.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
We vaguely remember that a few years ago some county elections officials in Washington state supported legislation to allow them to withhold voter registration information from the public. That would make it impossible to spot Mickey Mouses.
Friday, October 10, 2008
"The answer lies in what they talk about. If it's just about the Seahawks, it's fine, according to legal experts. If it's about anything that might color school district business,
it's not. "
Allied Law Group's Michele Earl-Hubbard is quoted in the story.
UPDATE: The Kitsap Sun writes this editorial on the board beer meetings.
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Monday, October 6, 2008
There is an urban legend out there that if something can be addressed in executive session that it is "secretized"--no discussion of any kind of the topic, no disclosure of the documents involved. Not true.
Sunday, October 5, 2008
Saturday, October 4, 2008
The government agency involved, the Lottery Commission, was squarely on the side of full disclosure. (Yes, og-blog often criticizes government agencies, but also gives them credit when credit is due.)
Irony alert: The lottery winners didn't want anyone to know they won, but their suit to prevent disclosure of their names is now in the Yakima newspaper, just about every other paper in the state via the Associated Press, and on TV.
Allied Law Group's Greg Overstreet is quoted in the story about how sealing the court records at issue violated the court rules.
Thursday, October 2, 2008
This law is such a good idea, and potentially embarrasses those who run things, that we were totally surprised it passed.
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
By the way, did you notice that the taping bill is almost the only legislative proposal from the cities that does not involve asking for huge sums of money. Their legislative agenda seems to be "Give us lots and lots of money but you can't record our secret deliberations to find out how we're operating."
Monday, September 29, 2008
How did the Herald learn of the legal fees and many of the facts surrounding this? You guessed it: public records. And the Herald had to hire an attorney to get them.
Monday, September 22, 2008
Allied Law Group represents the Kitsap Sun in this case so we will not be commenting on it on og-blog.
As we have said before, what good are open-government laws if public records are destroyed before they can be requested?
If you consider yourself left-of-center and are cheering that Republican Dick Cheney was ordered to retain his records before he could destroy them, then consider the many Washington state and local governments, run almost exclusively by Democrats, which routinely destroy all their email after a few days. The same principle--what good are open-government laws if public records are destroyed before they can be requested?--applies to governments run by people other than Dick Cheney.
Open-government laws are a check on whomever is in power, and officials of both political parties violate these laws when they are in power.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
We think it's too much of a compromise. But we'll wait to see what is introduced in the 2009 legislative session.
Monday, September 15, 2008
Speaking of Sarah Palin, could Tina Fey have done a more dead-on imitation of her on Saturday Night Live?
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
The county says it didn't do anything "egregious." That's odd, given that this is one of the largest Public Records Act settlements in history.
Saturday, September 6, 2008
Thursday, September 4, 2008
Oh, but don't cry for Mesa: they deserved it.
Too bad a town with an annual budget of under $350,000 must pay a fine of $230,000--but that's what happens when you blatantly break the law and then carry on for years in court (fueled by taxpayer money paying the city's legal fees). The town's officials decided to gamble (with taxpayer money) and lost. Should have thought about that when you started breaking the law.
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
"State social service leaders forced the chief executive of Western State Hospital to resign Aug. 8 and gave him no explanation for the decision, according to public records obtained by The News Tribune. ...
"The records, including e-mails from Gov. Chris Gregoire’s office and the Department of Social and Health Services, undercut earlier public statements from state leaders that implied Phillips resigned willingly."
Monday, September 1, 2008
For past hijinks from Oberquell see this post, which was the most-read og-blog post ever.
UPDATE: The Olympian writes this brutal editorial on Oberquell's passive-aggressive tantrum. Here's a snippet:
"Thurston County Commissioner Diane Oberquell has submitted two voluminous public records requests to state agencies out of pure spite. It's vindictiveness at its worst and as a public official, Oberquell should know better. She has embarrassed herself in her final days in office and her retaliatory requests for public records are yet another indication that at 20 years, she has stayed in office too long.
"Her petulant behavior has cost taxpayers thousands of dollars. Yet when asked for an explanation for her actions, Oberquell declined to comment, referring questions to her attorney.
"That speaks volumes."
Friday, August 29, 2008
Thursday, August 28, 2008
This story was sent by a regularly reader who works for the Axis Law Group.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
The City could have followed the law or it could have settled early on. But aggressively fighting the requestor (with the City's taxpayer-funded attorneys) seemed like a better idea.
Friday, August 22, 2008
Monday, August 18, 2008
Tip of the hat to a regular og-blog reader (who we're normally suing) for sending us this story.
How do we know that $140,000 was diverted from education to pay lawyers to defend an Orwellian school district? You guessed it: "according to heavily redacted billing records provided to The Herald under a public records request."
Thursday, August 14, 2008
The port commissioner announced she won't run for re-election.
Since the $100 penalty doesn't seem to deter violations, maybe recall will.
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Why the increase in open-government blogs? We have three thoughts. First, with all the great hypocrisy going on across the nation with government officials claiming to be for "open government" but then blatantly violating the law by withholding records, there is so much good stuff to blog about. Second, so many of the examples of information they are trying to hide are things that important to lots of everyday people (abuse of kids, stealing tax money, political favoritism, etc.). Third, blogging software is so easy to use that our dog could do it. (We could call it "dog-blog.")
Washington recently adopted a court rule significantly increasing public access to court records.
Hughes is a real open-government champion. He is on the Sunshine Committee. And he's just a great guy. We wish him well.
We highly recommend his book on Grays Harbor history called On the Harbor, From Black Friday to Nirvana. It's less of a history book and more of a series of fascinating stories.
Monday, August 11, 2008
"The public has a right to know if the people charged with keeping our children safe are doing the job. Keeping their behavior secret is of primary importance to sexual predators. Once their true nature is known, they're finished and they know it. But now the state Supreme Court made it easier for them to hide."
Friday, August 8, 2008
"The high court ruling will make it next to impossible for someone outside the school district to determine if allegations are taken seriously, or swept under the rug. Just because an allegation isn't substantiated doesn't mean wrongdoing didn't occur."
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
How could the newspaper verify this and run the story? "According to a city investigative report received after a freedom of information request ...."
Monday, August 4, 2008
The title of the editorial says it all: "Court to public: Butt out of student abuse probes."
The Seattle Times does NOT endorse the incumbent state Supreme Court Justice Mary Fairhurst, instead endorsing her challenger, Michael Bond. The main reason: Justice Fairhurst seems to side nearly every single time with government, especially on open-government matters.
Every other newspaper, however, has endorsed Justice Fairhurst.
Sunday, August 3, 2008
As you read this, keep asking yourself, "These people supposedly work for the public, with the mission of educating kids?"
Saturday, August 2, 2008
The Olympian is right, but why would a government agency do something it doesn't want to do when it has "free" tax money to spend trying to get lucky in a higher court? It's OPM: "Other People's Money" so why care?
A solution would be for the Public Records Act to do what the Open Public Meetings Act does: impose personal liability. Then it's not OPM but MOM: "My Own Money." It's weird how decision making changes when it's MOM.
Friday, August 1, 2008
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Friday, July 25, 2008
The story quotes a Commission staff member who said "a Pierce County attorney advised her that a public notice wasn't necessary because it was a special meeting called by the [Commission] chair." That Pierce County attorney might want to look at RCW 42.30.080.
Thursday, July 24, 2008
UPDATE: The Olympian writes this story on the case, which includes some good background.
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
"I think when we adopt the provisions of [the new tax law], we are not going to do exactly what [the Legislature has] directed and see if anyone challenges what we do."
Who is it that oversaw the defense of the city's conscious decision to ignore the law "and see if anyone challenges what we do"? Seattle City Attorney Tom Carr, who is also Gov. Gregoire's pick to chair the Sunshine Committee.
UPDATE: The Tacoma News-Tribune writes this editorial praising the City of Puyallup's efforts.
Friday, July 18, 2008
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
A public records law only works if there are public records left to request. Government has figured this out. When will the public?
It's just public money. Why should the public know anything about it?
Monday, July 14, 2008
"We know that convicted felons forfeit some rights — the right to gun ownership, the right to vote, etc. But do they forfeit their right to public records as the attorney general suggests? Lawmakers must settle the question with clarifying legislation."
Sunday, July 13, 2008
Saturday, July 12, 2008
Thursday, July 10, 2008
Yuck. Open records and freedom of the press. Who needs that? Most countries in the world do just fine without them.
Think about all the dumb--really, really dumb--laws Congress has passed in the past seven years. Almost none of them were so horrific to warrant a veto threat from the President. But archiving emails? That's worth fighting over? Apparently.
This illustrates once again that open government is not a partisan issue, but rather an "ins"-versus-"outs" issue. Since Democrats largely run government in western Washington, and many of the open-government news stories we cover happen to come from western Washington, many of the postings on og-blog chronicle Democrats trying to prevent disclosure. But Republicans control the White House so--guess what?--they are trying to thwart disclosure in this instance. The "ins" versus the "outs."
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
How did the public get to find out about this? The Washington Policy Center made a public records request, obtained information, and then the newspaper wrote about it. That's how.
Monday, July 7, 2008
"Almost a third of online Americans surveyed in a recent poll are searching the Internet for information about how the government generates and spends taxpayer dollars, and most are disappointed, according to a recent Association of Government Accountants study. The study also showed that almost half of those surveyed are not satisfied with the information they receive about their state’s financial management. They want understandable and timely information, and they want to be educated about state budget challenges."
Washington has a good law on this.
Friday, July 4, 2008
Based on a tip received by a fellow shopper at the Olympia Safeway--where all the important people in state government and politics buy hot dog buns before the Fourth of July--we have a very interesting update. It's on the story about House Majority Leader Lynn Kessler not endorsing fellow Democrat and Attorney General candidate John Ladenburg over an open-government stance. Here's the old og-blog post on the rift.
Ladenburg then told the Tacoma News-Tribune that Kessler did, indeed, endorse her. Rift over and fellow Democrats were cool with each other ....
But Kessler denied it. She told the paper that, no seriously, she was NOT endorsing Ladenburg. The Republican Party issued a press release calling Ladenburg a liar for claiming Kessler endorsed him when she didn't. Wow. All this began over Kessler's support of, and Ladenburg's apparent opposition to, a bill requiring the recording of executive sessions of public meetings.
We'll say it again: this open-government stuff crosses partisan lines and means a whole lot to principled people in both political parties.
This ruling--that inmates can use the Public Records Act but that prison contraband rules then kick in--directly conflicts with the Attorney General's brief last month in another case that an inmate is not a "person" and therefore cannot use the Public Records Act.
Thursday, July 3, 2008
Good for Aberdeen. The public won't bite. And they will probably feel more involved in their city, which is a good thing.
Wednesday, July 2, 2008
The Tacoma School District seems to be afraid of broadcasting its proceedings on local cable. Maybe they fear Wayne and Garth will take over the cable access channel and invite Aerosmith on as musical guests.
This Tacoma News-Tribune editorial describes why the Tacoma School District should let the public into their decision making by broadcasting their meetings. Each of the District's arguments is addressed in the editorial.
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
Monday, June 30, 2008
Who said open government was a wonkish issue that never mattered in real elections?
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Putting records online is great for the public and cuts down on the number of public records requests, something agencies always say they wished would happen.
Years from now we will wonder why it took paper requests for paper records, which resulted in paper court filings to get paper court orders requiring disclosure ... of paper records.
Washington agencies try this on occasion too but it's pretty clear that a contract cannot override a statute. Imagine the mischief if it could--a contract not to pay taxes, a contract to drink and drive, etc.
Sunday, June 22, 2008
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Yakima Herald-Republic Editorial on AG's Brief on Prohibiting Inmates From Requesting Public Records
Monday, June 16, 2008
Saturday, June 14, 2008
Attorneys fees, a penalty, and invalidating the actions illegally taken in a closed meeting are not the only consequences of an Open Public Meetings Act violation. Recall is also possible.
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Monday, June 9, 2008
A few thoughts. First, it looks like performance audits work. Second, the performance audit's main conclusion is that an agency's internal culture has a tremendous impact on its open government performance; it took the City of Seattle years to devolve into a culture of secrecy and it will take a long time to change. Finally, we will give the City the benefit of the doubt with its stated intention to improve--but will look at evidence to see if it's happening.
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
Pierce County Council member Shawn Bunney pushed the reform and is being honored with a "Key Award" from the Washington Coalition for Open Government. Congratulations.
Some teachers in another case actually argued that the public has no legitimate interest in obtaining the release of public records with the names of teachers accused of sexual misconduct. No legitimate public interest. Think about that.
The media and (og-blog) don't just report agency misdeeds.
Monday, June 2, 2008
Apparently the County said the record didn't exist but later found it. Then the County did the honorable thing: admitted it. Og-blog compliments government agencies whenever possible.
Sunday, June 1, 2008
Saturday, May 31, 2008
While open-government laws like the Public Records Act, Open Public Meetings Act, and access to court records are the most common topic of og-blog, the State Auditor's publication of audit findings is another important open-government measure. The State Auditors Office often shines the light on our government when no one else can.
Now the voters in the South Kitsap School District know where their money went.
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
The AP describes the Center as "Washington's newest sheriffs of 'sunshine.'"
Note: Allied Law Group represents the Center on these cases.
This story from The Olympian describes the retirement of a fabulous human being, Thurston County District Court judge Kip Stilz. He has worked on open-government and especially open courts issues for years. And he is one of those people in a community who everyone genuinely likes and respects.
UPDATED: Here is an editorial from The Olympian on Judge Stilz's retirement.
Saturday, May 24, 2008
Note: Allied Law Group represented the Center for Justice. This was one of five Open Public Meetings Act cases filed by the Center on March 17, 2008 during Sunshine Week.
Friday, May 23, 2008
Democratic House Majority Leader Lynn Kessler says she won't "now or ever" endorse Democratic Attorney General candidate John Ladenburg. Why? The reason Kessler describes in this story from The (Aberdeen) Daily World is Ladenburg's opposition to the open-meetings taping bill Kessler worked on with incumbent--Republican--Attorney General Rob McKenna.
"[Kessler] is concerned that Ladenburg has been outspoken about legislation she and McKenna championed this year to force local governments to record their executive sessions. The recordings would only be provided to a judge if questions arise that the government bodies are violating the state’s open public meetings law.
"Kessler said 'out of respect to the Democrats,' she has no plans to endorse McKenna, 'but I can’t see a scenario where I endorse Ladenburg now or ever. Except for defending my bill, I think this race is going to see me silent.'"
This open-government thing is an amazing political issue. When a legislative majority leader doesn't endorse an Attorney General candidate from the same party over something, you should take note of what that something is.
UPDATE: The Tri-City Herald's political reporter blogs about this here. Sound Politics has this.
Thursday, May 22, 2008
How true. Why do some Republicans in eastern Washington join some Democrats in western Washington in opposing open government? Because they run things in their respective parts of the state. Sometimes they don't want the public nosing around the governments they run.
As with all general rules, there are specific exceptions to the ins-versus-outs principle. But it works much of the time.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Monday, May 19, 2008
Holy smokes. You should read this. It describes individual agencies' performance but also discusses trends, statistics, and patterns.
Quite a few journalists read og-blog. We humbly suggest to our media readers that this audit report is chock full of news stories. The agencies audited are all over state so there's plenty of local interest for a newspaper in just about every corner of the state.
UPDATES: Chris Mulick of the Tri-City Herald writes this about the performance audit report. The Seattle Times has this piece. The Olympian has this piece.
McKenna supported the bill to require the recording of executive sessions. Ladenburg doesn't. Here's a portion of a story from The (Vancouver) Columbian:
"[Ladenburg] parts ways with McKenna on one issue the incumbent championed in the 2008 session — requiring local governments to tape their executive sessions to provide backup evidence if they are accused of violating the state’s open public meetings law. The bill, hotly opposed by many legislators from both parties, failed to pass, and Ladenburg said it 'would not be a priority for me.' For one thing, he said, it would be expensive to implement, because a simple tape recorder cannot distinguish among voices. 'The superior courts tried it, but it didn’t work,' he said. 'The technology required is akin to studio technology.' If an audio tape is going to be used as evidence, he said, 'You’d better know who said it and when.'"
The purpose of recording executive sessions is not to prove voice prints with 100% accuracy like on CSI. It's to allow a judge to see if the topics covered in executive session were legally allowed or not. Besides, if a recording showed seeming Open Public Meetings Act violations and the question of the identity of individual voices arose, there are simple ways to determine this. Like playing the recording in a deposition and asking the official, "Is that your voice?" Pretty simple. No "studio technology" required.
Ladenburg's strained excuse for not wanting to record executive sessions reminds us of another county official's: Taping (reel-to-reel, presumably) would take up too much storage space in county buildings.
Sunday, May 18, 2008
One of the forum panelists will be Allied Law Group's own Michele Earl-Hubbard.
Saturday, May 17, 2008
Friday, May 16, 2008
With that in mind, here is a story about the mayor of Detroit, who is under indictment for lying in a police whistle blower trial about whether he used his city phone to send sexual text messages to his girlfriend. Today the Mayor issued an edict that from now on text messages on city phones are "private" and not subject to Michigan's open records laws.
Thursday, May 15, 2008
Why would og-blog readers care about Muskogee, OK? The town has a new mayor. He's 19 years old. And he campaigned on a platform of open government.
We would argue that open government is a traditional American value.
P.S. A trivial (but semi-interesting fact): Greg Overstreet has spent some time in Muskogee, OK because it is the headquarters of the Creek Indian Nation, of which he is a proud enrolled citizen.
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Update: Here's an interesting quote in the TNT political blog from an agricultural-industry lobbyist who is trying to keep some exemptions from disclosure for that industry. He told the Sunshine Committee that the group is:
"a cynical political exercise pandering to a public perception that there should be openness in government." (emphasis added)
Yes. He said that.
The need for open government is merely a "public perception"? Is that because closed governments have such a swell history of treating people well? Name one. Anywhere in the world. At any point in human history.
A "perception" huh? We could have sworn that open government was actually the law--passed via initiative with a 72.06% "yes" vote.
Those silly little members of the public, thinking government should be open. What pipe dream will those rascally citizens think of next? Don't those little people know who is in charge?
Division II of the Court of Appeals issued this great decision today in West v. Thurston County.
It involves a request for Thurston County's outside-counsel legal invoices in a sexual harassment suit. In response to requests for these very records, the Legislature passed a special law saying, in essence, turn these records over. The County's outside lawyer, Michael Patterson, still fought to prevent disclosure. Now the County owes the requestor penalties and costs, and must also (ironically) pay the legal invoices from Michael Patterson for defending this appeal.
Oh, well. It really isn't anyone's money.
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Monday, May 12, 2008
Says the S-R:
"The records are, after all, a product of the service Kempthorne performed on the public's behalf.
"The former governor's lawyer now says some of those documents might be exempt from disclosure and the past 24 months haven't been enough time to vet them to make sure that legitimately secret papers aren't released inadvertently. But Kempthorne seems to have a bias toward secrecy. His first instinct upon leaving Boise was to turn the records over to the University of Idaho to be sealed for 25 years. That's what he did with the records from his term in the U.S. Senate."
Saturday, May 10, 2008
This is the first settlement in the five Center for Justice cases filed during Sunshine Week. Settlements in most of the other cases are expected soon.
The Center for Justice's goal in filing these cases was to highlight the open meetings problems in the state, enforce the law in specific cases, and deter other violations. Most local governments involved in the first round of suits understand that it is in their (taxpayers') best interest to quickly and efficiently end these cases.
Note: Allied Law Group represents the Center for Justice in these cases.
The public has an interest, to put it mildly, in knowing whether police investigations of other police are done properly.
Friday, May 9, 2008
- Allied Daily Newspapers of Washington (state's 22 daily newspapers)
- Washington Newspaper Publishers Association (state's 140 or so weekly newspapers)
- Washington Association of Broadcasters (TV and radio)
- Society of Environmental Journalists
Here is a link to the media's friend-of-the-court brief (without the voluminous exhibits).
What do BIAW and the media groups have in common? Simple. Wanting access to government emails to keep government accountable. So the media groups filed a friend of the court brief in the state Supreme Court asking it to take BIAW's deleted email case.
Once again: open-government unites those who otherwise have little in common. It transcends ideology and partisanship.
Note: Allied Law Group represents BIAW in this case.