Thursday, December 24, 2009
Monday, December 21, 2009
Friday, December 18, 2009
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Monday, December 14, 2009
Thanks to Rusty for sending this to us.
Friday, December 11, 2009
Monday, December 7, 2009
Thanks to Kokanee Bill for finding this.
Friday, December 4, 2009
Tim Ford of the Attorney General's Office says this raises serious constitutional questions.
That's an understatement.
Jefferson County, by the way, is the home of the "pizza privacy" exemption from disclosure under the Public Records Act.
Thursday, December 3, 2009
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
NOTE: Greg Overstreet of Allied Law Group represented the Bellingham Herald in the case.
Monday, November 30, 2009
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Monday, November 23, 2009
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
NOTE: Greg Overstreet of Allied Law Group represented the Bellingham Herald in this case.
Friday, November 13, 2009
NOTE: Michele Earl-Hubbard of Allied Law Group represented the citizens group in this case.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
NOTE: The editorial quotes Greg Overstreet of Allied Law Group who represents the accountant who obtained the settlement from the Board.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
NOTE: Michele Earl-Hubbard of Allied Law Group represented the Center for Justice.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Monday, November 9, 2009
Here's the deal: Government is different than private people and businesses. Government is not a teenager on Facebook, or a business using Twitter to generate business. Government can tax and imprison; teenagers and businesses cannot. Government is subject to laws that allow the boss--the People--to know what's going on. Comparing government to private entities is not useful when it comes to transparency. To see what the government is doing, all you need is a public records request. To see what a private person is doing, you need a search warrant and probable cause. Quite a difference. Thank goodness.
Friday, November 6, 2009
The tape showed the man was innocent.
It is interesting that at first the library claimed the tape could be withheld from disclosure because it was a "library record." The accused had to go to court and obtain an order compelling disclosure. Ironically, the law designed to shield the books one checks out at a library from public scrutiny, which is to protect individual liberties, was initially used to ... deprive someone of his individual liberties of being free from criminal charges for a crime he did not commit.
The story does not address the larger source of a money pay out for the City, the mandatory award of attorneys' fees to the requestor who prevailed.
Thanks to avid og-blog reader "Kokanee Bill" for this story.
"A gathering of five Sumner City Council members caused a flurry of activity in late October, including a police report and an anonymous anchovy pizza delivery."
Read all about it.
Thursday, November 5, 2009
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
The editorial discusses Jefferson County Commissioner Sullivan's costly stand for "pizza privacy." The background on that issue is covered here.
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Thursday, October 29, 2009
This decision overrules a horrible decision by the Arizona Court of Appeals that held the opposite. Local governments in Washington and elsewhere were pointing to the horrible decision as a reason to deny access to electronic records. Not any more.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Monday, October 26, 2009
(For background on the case, click here.)
The ruling: the District violated the OPMA 21 times but not intentionally, and the suit was not frivolous. The District's "study sessions" which occurred 100% of the time (41 out of 41 times) before an open meeting, were not a "regular" meeting. Instead, the judge ruled they were all "special meetings" and special meeting notice was provided. The question of whether a "dinner" meeting and three "retreats" were illegal meetings remains for trial.
This case is not over.
NOTE: Greg Overstreet of the Allied Law Group represented the Center for Justice.
Saturday, October 24, 2009
UPDATED 2: Accountant Wins $500,000 Settlement from Board of Accountancy Where Public Records Played Key Role
Here is The Olympian's story on the case.
The Seattle Times piece is here.
It is an amazing story. It shows that public records can save the day. And why agencies doing bad things hate the Public Records Act.
UPDATE 1: Looks like the Governor's Office is looking at a "consultant" to look at the Board of Accountancy. See the reaction to that.
UPDATE 2: The Board of Accountancy will investigate itself in the wake of paying out $500,000 to settle retaliation claims. The State Auditor says he will speak with the Governor and Attorney General about it.
Friday, October 23, 2009
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
This is the same argument Tim Eyman is using.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
"In an amended complaint filed Monday, initiative proponent Tim Eyman argues that the state's Public Records Act is 'unconstitutional to the extent that it requires public disclosure when there is a reasonable probability of threats, harassment, and reprisals.'"
Eyman is wrong.
Threats, harassment, and reprisals are already against the law. Enforce those laws. This would curb the specific problem in a given situation without giving government a blanket excuse to keep virtually all information secret. Government could find a way to say that release of virtually any information would lead to someone being "harassed." For example, maybe a politician claims release of a damaging email will cause "harassment" because now he or she has a tough re-election campaign.
The starting point for looking at the public's right to know how their government is functioning can never be "There could be some crazy guy out there out of the millions of people in the state." That's the same as saying "Never release anything."
Monday, October 19, 2009
It is relatively common when failure to provide a temporary block would make the case moot (because the records were released and there is nothing left to fight about in the case).
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Here is the (Tacoma) News Tribune story on the case.
Here is Brad Shannon's blog post from The Olympian.
The Seattle P-I's story is here.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Eyman is opposing disclosure. A court hearing is scheduled for this week.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
NOTE: Allied Law Group's Greg Overstreet and David Norman represented the records requestor in this case.
The U-B is exactly right. Efficiency is not the goal here.
The Open Public Meetings Act is designed to make decision making open to the public, even if this is less efficient than deciding business in a few clicks of the mouse. This is counterintuitive in our go-go fast-fast world. But it's the law. And there's a good reason for it.
Monday, October 12, 2009
The Public Records Act requires a party resisting disclosure to cite a statute allowing the record to be withheld, and also requires the party to persuade a court that the exemption from disclosure applies. No one, not Matia nor the City, has cited an exemption from disclosure, let alone described how it applies. In fact, Matia agreed that an exemption must be cited and that it had not done so. The judge still ruled for Matia.
NOTE: Allied Law Group's Greg Overstreet represented The Bellingham Herald in the case.
Saturday, October 10, 2009
NOTE: Allied Law Group represents the Yakima Herald-Republic in the case.
Here is the Seattle Times story on it, and the Seattle P-I's story.
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
However, and this is extremely important, citizens could still go to court for enforcement. The administrative body would be an option.
Here is an editorial on the topic from the Spokesman-Review.
Monday, October 5, 2009
In this case, the defendant is the Clark College, a state community college. The allegations center on the student association at the college deciding student-election campaign violations and taking a personnel decision in a closed meeting.
Good. We hope other local governments are paying attention.
Saturday, October 3, 2009
A reporter shield law allows reporters to offer complete anonymity to sources who might have information that makes the government mad; shielding whistle blowers leads to more accountability because news stories that otherwise would not happen can be published.
The Obama administration's opposition to this illustrates our point that, in general, those in power oppose accountability efforts while those out of power tend to support them (until they are in power).
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
The article quotes Greg Overstreet of Allied Law Group, the firm representing the Herald.
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
The (Longview) Daily News editorial.
The (Vancouver) Columbian editorial.
The Tri-City Herald editorial.
Kitsap Sun blog piece on Tim Eyman versus Sam Reed on the R-71 issue.
There are so many stories and editorials on this case, og-blog will be bringing them to you with little comment, just links, like above.
UPDATE: Here is The Olympian's editorial.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
For the record, Sonntag rules.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
The Washington state constitution, Article I section 10, is pretty clear on this: "Justice in all cases shall be administered openly, and without unnecessary delay." Of all the things the public needs to see, to know that no one is getting special breaks, is the criminal trial of a judge. This is exactly why Article I section 10 exists.
Monday, September 21, 2009
Friday, September 18, 2009
Thanks to "Potbanger" for this story.
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Some of the signers of a similar petition in California were harassed by those opposed to that measure. On the other hand, there could be mischief if no one can see if the signatures on initiatives and referenda are legitimate--what if there are pages of signatures of "Mickey Mouse" (based on a true story)?
UPDATE 1: Another story, this one quoting Allied Law Group's Michele Earl-Hubbard.
UPDATE 2: A great story on this case from The (Vancouver) Columbian.
One odd point: The document written by [an administration official] includes this line: "It will raise energy prices and impose annual costs on the order of XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX." The Treasury Department redacted the rest of the sentence with a thick black line.
The Freedom of Information Act, of course, contains no this-might-embarrass-the-president exemption (nor, for that matter, should federal agencies be in the business of possibly suppressing dissenting climate change voices). You'd hope the presidential administration that boasts of being the "most open and transparent in history" would be more forthcoming than this.
Thanks to Jason Mercier of the Washington Policy Center for this.
The Spokesman-Review writes this one.
The Seattle P-I weighs in here.
This is the Yakima Herald-Republic's editorial.
The Walla Walla Union-Bulletin writes this.
Saturday, September 12, 2009
NOTE: Allied Law Group represents the Bellingham Herald.
Friday, September 11, 2009
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
They found something else. Apparently a city council member was using his city email account to send some "racy" emails to his girlfriend. During city council meetings. The city will now spend $5,000 to investigate the matter.
Of course, no one should care about adults exchanging "racy" emails. Whatever. But the problem is the use of taxpayer resources for this. And we know it happened only because of the Public Records Act.
Friday, September 4, 2009
The Bush administration did not release them and we criticized him for that. When the Obama administration initially did the same, we criticized that. Now we give credit where credit is due.
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
Monday, August 31, 2009
And government agencies know it. Some are counting on getting free passes to not provide records.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
The Open Public Meetings Act prohibits the Port of Port Angeles from deciding who to hire in a closed-to-the-public executive session. But they narrowed down the pool of candidates for the Port's CEO job from 22 to 1. Going from 22 to 1 seems like a decision. When you narrow down, say, which of 22 cars you want to buy to 1, most normal people would call that a "decision."
The Port commissioners voted unanimously in an open session--without any discussion in the open session--to offer the job to the 1. A unanimous decision without any discussion but "no decision was previously made"? Wow. A bunch of politicians coming to a unanimous decision without any discussion on which of 22 people to hire? Theoretically possible but not terribly likely. A room full of politicians could debate for hours what to order for lunch.
The story is detailed in the Peninsula Daily News.
NOTE: The story quotes Greg Overstreet of Allied Law Group.
UPDATE: Here is a news story with more details of what happened.
Monday, August 24, 2009
This letter indicates that the county insurance pool will no longer cover Public Records Act claims by counties when they get sued.
This is probably because some counties, like Jefferson County, made some questionable decisions and got sued, like by claiming the "pizza privacy exemption."
So if you're suing a county for a Public Records Act violation, the county might be on the hook itself for the money (fees and penalties awarded to you and the county's own defense costs).
This might actually encourage sensible settlements by counties. Funny how making people pay the costs of their own actions makes them a little more careful. (Of course, when counties pay for their actions, it's with your tax money. But even this seems more like "their" money than insurance money.)
Thursday, August 20, 2009
The requestor, the (Tacoma) News Tribune, won.
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
The editorial describes other cases involving these so-called privileges.
Thanks to Mike Reitz and his Facebook page for alerting us to this one.
Friday, August 14, 2009
Both sides are thoughtfully and civilly debated in this Seattle Times piece.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Monday, August 10, 2009
Sunday, August 9, 2009
That pesky Public Records Act provides (emphasis added): "Agencies shall not distinguish among persons requesting records, and such persons shall not be required to provide information as to the purpose for the request [with an exception for commercial use of records]."
We'll be watching this one.
UPDATE: Well, the City of Kirkland did the right thing and changed its public records request form in response to a letter from Tim Ford, the Attorney General's Open Government Ombudsman. Kudos to EFF's Libertylive.org blog for bringing some attention to this.
See, we highlight good governmental behavior whenever possible.
Saturday, August 8, 2009
NOTE: Allied Law Group's Michele Earl-Hubbard represented the Seattle Times and other news organizations seeking release of the records.
Saturday, August 1, 2009
Friday, July 31, 2009
The Port Townsend Leader writes this story on a court ruling against Jefferson County which was attempting to withhold the public-phone system records of a county commissioner.
NOTE: Allied Law Group's Greg Overstreet and David Norman represented the records requestor.
UPDATE 1: The Peninsula Daily News writes this story on the case. And, no, the Public Records Act does not contain a "pizza privacy" exemption from disclosure. See RCW 42.56.001 - .904.
UPDATE 2: Scott Wilson, editor and publisher of the the Port Townsend Leader, writes this brutal editorial pointing out the folly of the County's "pizza defense." Good reading.
Thursday, July 30, 2009
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Monday, July 27, 2009
We have worked with Sonntag and know him to be the real deal when it comes to open government. Congratulations, Governor. (Under the constitutional line of succession when the Governor is absent, Sonntag was the governor for about three days around Christmas and technically is a former Governor so he retains the title of "Governor." He laughs when people call him that.)
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
UPDATE: OK, it looks like the Obama administration is backtracking and will, indeed, release the names of the health care executives who met with the President recently.
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Looks like this story is getting wide coverage: a Portland TV news station has it.
NOTE: Allied Law Group's Greg Overstreet and David Norman represent the public-interest law firm bringing the case, the Center for Justice.
Thursday, July 16, 2009
This is an expensive law to violate ... except when you can pay for it with other people's money (tax payers).
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
Saturday, July 4, 2009
TVW here in our state deserves enormous credit for televising (and archiving) state Supreme Court arguments. People here are better connected to their judicial branch because of it.
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
Why blog? "Simple," says Greg Overstreet, a principal of Allied Law Group. "It's fun, it's good for business, and it allows me to advocate for a right I care very deeply about." Based in Olympia, Overstreet runs the firm's Open Government Blog (http://www.og-blog.com/), reviewing news, legislation, and cases that involve the state's Public Records and Open Public Meetings acts. One of his primary reasons for the site is to "maintain the firm's profile among our client groups." The biggest surprise for Overstreet? "Our clients get hooked reading the blog."
Overstreet frequently gets calls from news reporters who need an expert quote for a specific dispute. Weeks later, he will hear from a potential client who read the newspaper story. The blog earns him a quasi-journalist status, with people sending tips and insider information about open-government issues from around the state. (A reporter once asked Overstreet to hold a story, telling him, "I can't get scooped by a blogger.")
Og-blog has been a lot of fun. Thanks for reading it. We know how many of you there are out there, and it's a bigger number than you'd think.
Monday, June 29, 2009
Thanks to a loyal og-blog reader who sent this to our attention.
Sunday, June 28, 2009
Saturday, June 27, 2009
Here is more background on the case and how it developed.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Here is background on President Obama's administratoin's refusal to release the records.
Jason Mercier of the Washington Policy Center writes this op-ed on it in the (Tacoma) News-Tribune.
You might also be interested in the Evergreen Freedom Foundation's tax transparency web site, http://www.taxsleuth.com/.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
It's not working out that way.
You can find it at http://www.atg.wa.gov/Unredacted.aspx.
Here is some more information on Unredacted.
UPDATE 1: Here is more on the story from the Seattle Times.
UPDATE 2: The City, reluctantly, takes the position that the records are disclosable. Whether or not the City wants to release the records, this is the correct legal position. Give City Attorney Tom Carr credit where credit is due.
Sunday, June 21, 2009
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Saturday, June 13, 2009
The story is from Washington Policy Center's blog.
UPDATE: Here is the TNT story on the release, including a link to the document they fought so hard to get.
Friday, June 12, 2009
Thursday, June 11, 2009
Monday, June 8, 2009
So reports The (Aberdeen) Daily World.
Local governments are always complaining about how costly it is to comply with open meetings laws. It seems a whole lot more costly to violate them.
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
Have you been to a Kinkos lately? They charge somewhere in the range of $0.10 per page. If the City's "actual cost" is $0.90 or $0.30 per page, is Kinkos giving away billions of dollars by undercharging for all their copies? Someone better tell Kinkos shareholders of this massive give-away.
Monday, June 1, 2009
The proposal for more openness comes from the political out (way out) of power in King County, thus reinforcing the idea that the "ins" are less enamored with public disclosure and the "outs" like it.
At least until the "ins" and "out" parties trade places. Then you start all over again. Repeat as necessary.
While the Public Records Act gets all the attention, access to court records is a very important part of the open-government laws.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
In two cases involving requests under the Freedom of Information Act
(FOIA), Sotomayor wrote an opinion that declined to order the release of the
requested information, explaining that she did not want to “unreasonably hamper
agencies in their decision-making.” Thus, in Tigue v. DOJ, 312 F.3d 70 (2d
Cir. 2002), the panel denied a tax attorney’s request for a memorandum written
by a Deputy U.S. Attorney outlining the office’s opinions and policies regarding
tax investigations, notwithstanding that the memorandum had been cited in a
publicly released report. And in Wood v. FBI, 432 F.3d 78 (2d Cir.
2005), while acknowledging that FOIA exemptions should be construed “narrowly,
resolving all doubts in favor of disclosure,” her opinion denied a reporter’s
request for an FBI memorandum regarding local FBI agents accused of lying.
She reasoned that the “unwarranted invasion of privacy” for the individuals
whose names would be released outweighed the public interest in disclosing a
government employee’s identity.
Sunday, May 24, 2009
By the way, the Times found 23 incidents of reprimands since January 2008 in an agency of over 1,100 people. That's not bad. But that's the point--the news (the good, the bad, or the ugly) can only come out because of public records.
Thursday, May 21, 2009
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
The editorial points out that perhaps the lawyer's hardline approach was dictated by the client, the city.
But whether it was the lawyer or the city (or both), the fact is that when government is confronted with a choice of (1) following the law when it doesn't want to (by turning over embarassing documents) or (2) paying a bunch of money, it comes down to three letters: OPM. As in "Other People's Money." Why would a government agency follow the law when it can fight those pesky citizens endlessly with ... OPM. And then, if the citizens gets lucky and wins in court, pay a judgment with ... OPM.
It only seems to matter when there isn't enough OPM to save the town from bankruptcy. Then it's a "crisis."
Here's a previous post on all the reasons government--and their lawyers--have to roll the dice and not follow the law in open-government matters.
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
The law allows a local government to do so by passing a resolution proclaiming that such an index would be "unduly burdensome."
Monday, May 11, 2009
However, the Obama administration is still withholding public records about which corporations are receiving bailout money. So the release of records that embarrass the previous administration is occurring, but releases about the current administration's actions seem to be less forthcoming.
Friday, May 8, 2009
That appears to be what the Yakima City Council is doing according to this story in the Yakima Herald-Republic.
This came to light because the newspaper obtained city council members' emails through the Public Records Act.
NOTE: The story quotes Greg Overstreet of Allied Law Group. Also note that Allied Law Group represents the Yakima Herald-Republic.
NOTE: Allied Law Group represents the Yakima Herald-Republic in this case so we won't comment on it on og-blog.
Monday, May 4, 2009
Friday, May 1, 2009
Maybe this will deter other local governments from violating the Public Records Act.
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Thanks for this tip from MR at the VRWC.
Saturday, April 25, 2009
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Someone should tell the teacher's attorney about this little part of the Public Records Act, RCW 42.56.060, which provides:
"No public agency, public official, public employee, or custodian shall be liable, nor shall a cause of action exist, for any loss or damage based upon the release of a public record if the public agency, public official, public employee, or custodian acted in good faith in attempting to comply with the provisions of this chapter."
Immunity for releasing records. It's a key part of the Public Records Act. It gives agencies the confidence of knowing that they won't get sued for releasing records--they can only be sued for withholding them. This is a big incentive.
P.S. Thanks to "Kokanee Bill" for this seeing this story and letting us know about it.
Monday, April 20, 2009
Friday, April 17, 2009
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
To all of those who claim a pro-open government stance is just an "easy" political issue for politicians, we ask this: if being pro-open government is such a political no-brainer, why is the Governor of Pennsylvania acting this way?
If open government is such a no-brainer political issue, why aren't local government officials in Washington state falling all over themselves to provide public records and open up meetings? It's because open government means: (1) scrutiny on the decisions of those running things, and (2) ire sometimes from agency staff members (and their unions) who might be doing something wrong. Guess which side is the "easy" political decision?
Monday, April 13, 2009
Why? Because you little citizens can't handle all the facts. The story says "Council members said they oppose closed-door meetings in general but said there's no reason to bore the public with complex briefings and logistical decisions." Yep, it's just your money but there is "no reason to bore" you with the details. You are being treated like children. And a majority of your fellow citizens keep voting for these people.
Is this sub-quorum meeting a violation of the Open Public Meetings Act? Here's what the Attorney General's Open Government Internet Manual (section 3.4(B))says:
"A meeting [which triggers the OPMA] occurs if a quorum (that is, a majority) of the members of the governing body were to discuss or consider, for instance, the budget, personnel, or land use issues no matter where that discussion or consideration might occur. What about if less than a quorum is present? Several cases hold that the OPMA is only triggered by a quorum of the governing body, so the 'action' of less than a quorum is not subject to the OPMA. See, e.g., Eugster v. City of Spokane, 128 Wn. App. 1, 8, 114 P.3d 1200 (2005). Others argue that the legislative history of the OPMA indicates that the statute formerly required a quorum for an 'action' but was amended to apply to an action with less than a quorum. Laws of 1985, ch. 366, § 1(3)."
Note that the Eugster case is summarized as "the 'action' of less than a quorum is not subject to the OPMA." So if one half of the non-quorum (the four out of nine council members) does something, it's not the action of the whole council under Eugster. Yes, but "discussion" or "deliberation" of city business is "action" which triggers the OPMA. So if any information or discussion or deliberation travels from one half of the non-quorum to the other half of the non-quorum, you have a "discussion" or "deliberation" by the whole council; it just happened in two stages instead of one.
Since the City of Seattle thinks you are a child, the following illustration is appropriate. If one group of kids at an elementary school cafeteria table discuss something and have one kid go over to the other table and repeat it, and then bring back the thoughts of the second table to the first table, you have a "discussion" albeit it in two stages.
When one half of a quorum of a city council shares information with the second half of the quorum, this is called "jumping the quorum." Which is what will happen. Which is why the City of Seattle will violate the OPMA.
UPDATE 1: The City Council decided not to hold the sub-quorum meetings. The Attorney General's Office got involved and--credit where credit is due--apparently the City Attorney, Tom Carr, urged the Council to open the meetings.
Here is a Seattle Times editorial on opening the meetings; here is the later editorial congratulating the Council for doing so.
The Evergreen Freedom Foundation wrote a letter to the City Council that could be read as the threat of an Open Public Meetings Act lawsuit. Probably "just a coincidence" that the Council decided to open up the meetings.
(Sorry we're a day late on posting this. We took a day off on Friday. There's no news on a Friday, right?)
UPDATE 2: Here is Danny Westneat's column on this debacle.
Thursday, April 9, 2009
Monday, April 6, 2009
Here is a provision of the Attorney General's Model Rules on Public Records addressing this very topic:
"An agency can, of course, provide the records sooner than five business days. Providing the 'fullest assistance' [required by RCW 42.56.100] to a requestor would mean providing a readily available record as soon as possible. For example, an agency might routinely prepare a premeeting packet of documents three days in advance of a city council meeting. The packet is readily available so the agency should provide it to a requestor on the same day of the request so he or she can have it for the council meeting."
Friday, April 3, 2009
The judge assessed a (first-ever, to our knowledge) $100 per day penalty against the County. When the other penalties, costs, and attorney's fees are added up, Mason County will end up paying Carey about $145,000.
NOTE: Allied Law Group represented Carey in the case. Allied attorney Chris Roslaniec is quoted extensively in the story.
Monday, March 30, 2009
The FAA won't release records showing incidents of birds striking aircraft, as happened a few weeks ago when the US Air jet crashed into the Hudson River.
Who wants to keep these things secret? The "bird lobby" is all we could come up with. You've heard of "Big Oil" and "Big Tobacco." Now it's: