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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Does Arbitrator's Ruling Trump the Public Records Act?

This article from the Bellingham Herald describes a request by the Herald for records which were ordered destroyed by an arbitrator in a construction dispute. The judge wants briefing on the issue of whether the arbitrator's ruling controls over the Public Records Act.

The article quotes Greg Overstreet of Allied Law Group, the firm representing the Herald.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

UPDATED: Many Editorials and Articles on R-71 Case

Here they are:

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

Wash. Coalition for Open Gov't Honors State Auditor Brian Sonntag

This article from Sound Politics describes the recent open-government award given by the Washington Coalition for Open Government to State Auditor Brian Sonntag.

For the record, Sonntag rules.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Reporter and Public Excluded from Court Proceeding Involving Judge

This (Tacoma) News-Tribune editorial describes the exclusion of a reporter and the public from hearing a witness provide testimony in a criminal case against a Pierce County judge.

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.

EFF Calls Out AG on Yousoufian Amicus Brief

The Evergreen Freedom Foundation criticizes Attorney General Rob McKenna's decision to file a less-than-pro open government amicus curiae ("friend of the court") brief in the Yousoufian case on penalties in Public Records Act cases.

Monday, September 21, 2009

R-71: The Other Side of the Story

This op-ed piece in The (Everett) Herald provides the argument for why the referendum signatures should be withheld from disclosure under the First Amendment.

TNT Editorial on Eyman's R-71 "Fraud" Claim

Here is a TNT editorial on Tim Eyman's claim that Secretary of State Sam Reed's attempt to have the R-71 signatures made public is a "fraud."

Friday, September 18, 2009

Everett School District Ordered to Turn Over Records

This (Everett) Herald story describes a ruling for a teachers union against the Everett School District in a public records case involving access to district legal bills.

Thanks to "Potbanger" for this story.

Federal R-71 Ruling Might Not Be the End of the Public Records Act

This article from the Seattle P-I looks at whether the ruling in the R-71 case would mean the end of the Public Records Act or, as the article suggests, just an exemption in the very specific facts of the case (for signatures on a ballot measure).

Thursday, September 17, 2009

TNT Editorial on Prisoner Prohibition on Records Requests

This (Tacoma) News-Tribune editorial makes the excellent point that the law allowing an agency to obtain an injunction against repeated abusive records requests by a prisoner should not be used to block legitimate requests.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

UPDATED (2): Federal Judge Rules R-71 Signatures Can Be Withheld For Now

Citing the First Amendment, a federal judge has ruled that the signatures of those signing R-71, the referendum to block civil unions, must continue to be withheld pending a final decision.

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.

No Exemption from Disclosure for "This Might Embarass the President"

This opinion piece on is about a federal document analyzing the costs of the Cap and Trade bill, some of which was redacted in response to a FOIA request. The author says this:
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.

Editorials Across the State Blast R-71 Signature Ruling

The (Tacoma) News-Tribune writes this blistering editorial against the recent federal court ruling that preliminarily blocks the release on First Amendment grounds of signatures on R-71, a measure to repeal civil unions.

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

Bellingham Herald Intervenes in Case on Whether City Can Destroy Public Record

The Bellingham Herald is intervening into a case brought by the City of Bellingham asking a court to tell the city whether it must destroy a public record, as ordered by an arbitrator in a construction law case.

NOTE: Allied Law Group represents the Bellingham Herald.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Olympian Editorial on "Legislative Exemption" from Public Records Act

The Olympian writes this editorial on the Sunshine Committee's recommendation to end the so-called "legislative exemption" from the Public Records Act.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Split Decision on Federal Reserve FOIA Requests

Looks like one judge ruled for Bloomberg News that the Fed must disclose bailout information, but another judge ruled against Fox News for essentially the same information.

Case on Sealed Court Records

The Peninsula Daily News reports on this story of sealed court records in Jefferson County.

Legislators React to Sunshine Committee Recommendation to Get Rid of Legislative Exemption

This story from The (Longview) Daily News describes the reaction of area legislators to the Sunshine Committee's recommendation to end the Legislature's de facto exemption from the Public Records Act.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Public Records Show ... City Council Member Using City Email to Send "Racy" Emails

When the Evergreen Freedom Foundation made public records requests to the City of Kirkland, they wanted to find out if backroom deals were being cut.

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

Ethics Panel Violates Open Meetings Law

A little ironic, but a Colorado ethics panel was found to have violated that state's open meetings law.

Thanks to Billy Kokanee for the tip on this story.

Obama Administration to Release White House Visitor Logs

In a reversal of a previous (bad) decision, the Obama administration will now release the names of visitors to the White House. Good.

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

Sunshine Committee Recommends Repeal of Legislature's Public Records Exemption

This editorial by The (Longview) Daily News discusses the Sunshine Committee's vote to recommend the repeal of the Legislature's exemption from the Public Records Act. (It's not technically an exemption but that's a long, lawyerly side show.)