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Monday, November 30, 2009

Bill Proposed to Require Disclosure of Initiative Signatures

The Olympian's Brad Shannon reports that Rep. Sam Hunt will introduce a bill in the 2010 legislative session to require the disclosure of signatures on initiatives.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Cities Get Money to Digitize Some Public Records

The Wenatchee World reports that some cities in that area received grants to digitize and microfilm some public records.

Monday, November 23, 2009

More on Initiative Signature Litigation

The (Tacoma) News Tribune carries this story by The Olympian's Brad Shannon on some of the litigation involved in Tim Eyman's efforts to prevent the disclosure of signers of past initiatives.

Port of Olympia To Pay $56,000 In Public Records Case

The Olympian reports that the Port of Olympia must pay almost $56,000 in legal fees after losing a Public Records Act case.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Bellingham Herald Editorial Blasts Decision on Destroying Public Records

This Bellingham Herald editorial uses unusually sharp language to criticize a Whatcom County Superior Court ruling upholding an arbitrator's ruling (made before a public records request was made) that the City of Bellingham must destroy a public record.

NOTE: Greg Overstreet of Allied Law Group represented the Bellingham Herald in this case.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Spokesman Review Editorial on Clean Air Agency Settlement and Need for Taping Law

This editorial from the Spokesman Review describes why a recent $25,000 settlement by the Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency of an Open Public Meetings Act case shows that the Legislature should pass a bill requiring the taping of executive sessions.

NOTE: Michele Earl-Hubbard of Allied Law Group represented the citizens group in this case.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Board of Accountancy Blasted for Lack of Accountability

This editorial from The Olympian describes the lack of accountability on the Board of Accountancy, the state agency regulating accountants, and calls for reforms. The Board recently paid $500,000 to settle retaliation and public records lawsuits brought by an accountant.

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

Spokane Air Agency Settles Open Meetings Suit

This story in the Spokesman-Review describes the decision by the Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency to settle an Open Public Meetings Act lawsuit brought by the Center for Justice.

NOTE: Michele Earl-Hubbard of Allied Law Group represented the Center for Justice.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Olympian Editorial on New Ombudsman Office

This editorial from The Olympian describes why a new office should be created to give citizens and agencies a quick and inexpensive administrative remedy to obtain public records. Citizens could still go to court if they chose.

Monday, November 9, 2009

TNT Editorial on DSHS Public Records Payout of $525,001

This (Tacoma) News Tribune editorial says it all.

Arizona Supreme Court Ruling on Disclosure of Electronic Records (YEAH!) Analyzed

This story from the Arizona Republic looks at the recent and magnificent ruling by the Arizona Supreme Court on the disclosure of electronic records.

Social Networking Sites for Gov't: Public Records and Records Retention Issues

This Kitsap Sun article discusses the thorny Public Records Act and retention issues when government agencies use social networking sites like Facebook.

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.

R-71 Going to SCOTUS?

This Seattle P-I story looks at whether the Supreme Court of the United States (called "SCOTUS" by law geeks) will be deciding the R-71 disclosure case.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Puplic Records Show ... Man Accused of Beating Disabled Boy Was Innocent

A man was accused of beating a disabled boy at a library in the Tri Cities. The accused man's criminal defense attorney made a public records request for the surveillance tape at the library.

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.

City of Vancouver Fined in Public Records Act Case

The (Vancouver) Columbian reports that the City of Vancouver was fined $1,790 in a public records case but that the judge did not find any bad faith on the part of the City.

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.

Pizza Gathering Apparently Not an Illegal Meeting

You have to love a news story that leads with this:

"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.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Jefferson County: "Closed Gov't Capital of Washington"

This brutal editorial in the Port Townsend Leader calls out Jefferson County officials by name who have been hiding public records. Excellent reading.

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

Walla Walla Union Bulletin Editorial on Release of Metadata

This is a great editorial and explains an otherwise complicated issue very clearly.

New Agency to Hear Public Records Complaints?

This article in The Olympian looks at a recommendation of the Attorney General's/State Auditor's task force on creating an administrative remedy for public records disputes.

George Will Column on Why R-71 Signatures Should Be Withheld

This column by George Will argues for the withholding of the R-71 signatures.