Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Good for King County. (See: We compliment government when it does the right thing.)
Monday, December 20, 2010
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Monday, November 22, 2010
Thursday, November 18, 2010
Here is the opinion and a blog piece on it.
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Saturday, November 13, 2010
Friday, November 12, 2010
Thursday, November 11, 2010
Monday, November 8, 2010
The open-government highlights are:
- Let Americans read bills before they are brought to a vote.
- No more "comprehensive" bills.
- No more bills written behind closed doors in the speaker's office.
All this is good. But we've heard this before from whomever was about to assume power. As with the Democrats, we will applaud Republicans' promised open-government reforms only when we see them actually put into place.
Saturday, November 6, 2010
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
For at least a decade, officials in Bell arbitrarily required someThere is a term for people in power demanding payments from businesses under the illegitimate threat of closure. We will let our sophisticated readers come up with that word in their own mind.
businesses to make payments to the city totaling tens of thousands of dollars
annually, in at least one case threatening a business owner with closure if he
failed to comply, according to interviews and records reviewed by The
The payment scheme affected at least 15 businesses, mostly small
operations that include restaurants, tire shops, auto detailers and a
In some cases, merchants were directed to make thousands of dollars in
annual payments as part of conditional use permits granted by the city. Others
were required to guarantee thousands of dollars in sales tax revenue for the
city each year. If their sales failed to measure up to projections, they were
told to pay the difference, according to city records and interviews.
Thursday, October 28, 2010
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Friday, October 22, 2010
Thursday, October 21, 2010
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Open government is one of the most popular political issues according to poll after poll. Why aren't candidates taking the opportunity to explain to voters that they are pro-open government? Could it be that local elected officials like county commissioners and city council members generally don't like open government and their endorsements of a candidate are more important to that candidate than being pro-open government?
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Friday, October 8, 2010
- Metadata in an email or other electronic document is a "public record" subject to disclosure.
- A print-out of the email is not sufficient if metadata is requested.
- An agency may not delete emails that have been requested; the electronic version of the email must be preserved and provided.
It was a 5-4 decision. The justices ruling in favor of disclosure were: Owens, Fairhurst, Sanders, Stephens, and Chambers.
A dissent argued that the agency examining an agency employee's home computer for public records is potentially an unlawful "search." The dissenting justices were: Alexander, Chief Justice Madsen, C. Johnson, and J. Johnson.
The Attorney General filed a "friend of the court" brief arguing against disclosure.
Note that the purported decision to provide the city manager severance pay was made in a closed executive session. Of course. You wouldn't want people to see what was going on.
Thanks to Bill for this story.
Thursday, October 7, 2010
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
Apparently the professor advocates government's constitutional right to rule people in secret.
Monday, October 4, 2010
Monday, September 27, 2010
Thursday, September 23, 2010
"When do we get to see the secret agreement the Seattle School District has reached with its teachers?"
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
- · Media & First Amendment Law
- · Administrative / Regulatory Law
- · Government Relations Practice
Here is a link to our listing.
Here is a link to some background on the U.S. News ranking process.
Dang those public records. See what kind of misery they lead to? The prisons would be less crowded if it weren't for the Public Records Act.
Monday, September 20, 2010
Friday, September 17, 2010
It's just publicly-owned property and public money for the project ... why involve the public?
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Sunday, September 5, 2010
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Thursday, August 26, 2010
The best way to exponentially increase the amount of publicity about yourself is to sue to prevent the disclosure of public records. Now, instead of a one-day story about a famous Seattle attorney being arrested for DUI, there is an editorial in the Seattle Times because the attorney is filing a suit to prevent anyone from seeing the police report. The worst strategy ever for making a story go away.
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
Friday, August 20, 2010
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Here, by the way, are the appointments the Governor has had time to make.
Friday, August 13, 2010
We won't be obnoxious and list all the promises of transparency and open government made by candidate Obama, President-Elect Obama, and then President Obama. The record has been abysmal. And after the last President, that is saying something.
Thursday, August 12, 2010
You don't suppose the agencies have anything to hide, do you?
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Thursday, August 5, 2010
Public records are a critical tool to keep tabs on what government is doing. This is a prime example. Whether it is finding out how government is spending money on questionable programs or infiltrating anti-war groups, we get to find out. Public records have no ideological bent. We get to learn the good and the bad from the right and the left. Public records just tell us what happened; we get to draw our own conclusions.
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
Seriously, you should read this piece.
Monday, August 2, 2010
Friday, July 30, 2010
The case was mixed. Here is the court's summary of what it held in the three cases consolidated into the single appeal:
In conclusion, we hold that, despite obvious and repeated abuses, prison inmates had and
continue to have standing to request records under the PRA. Although at the time Parmelee filed
the requests at issue in this case the trial court could not consider Parmelee’s intent when
determining whether a document is subject to disclosure under the PRA, we hold that it did not
err when it considered Parmelee’s explicit and volunteered threat in deciding whether to grant the
government employee’s request for an injunction to protect the individual rights of that
Accordingly, as to Mathieu v. Parmelee, we are constrained to reverse the injunction
against Parmelee because she was not named in his counterfeit sexual predator flyer and is unable
to demonstrate that she was the victim of this explicit and volunteered threat. Moreover, we hold
that the trial court erred when it found that Mathieu’s personnel records, intelligence and
investigation reports, and portions of her compensation records and training records were exempt
from disclosure under the PRA. But because the record on appeal to this court does not contain
the records DOC compiled for Parmelee regarding Mathieu, remand is necessary to allow the trial
court to review in camera the documents regarding Mathieu’s personnel records, intelligence and
investigation reports, and training records and determine whether Parmelee is entitled to them.
As to DeLong v. DOC, we hold that while Parmelee’s request to intervene was properly
denied as untimely, the trial court erred when it refused to join Parmelee as a necessary party. We
must vacate for want of jurisdiction and remand to the trial court for further proceedings
consistent with this opinion.
As to DOC v. Parmelee, we hold that while ordinarily a superior court cannot consider a
PRA requestor’s intent when determining whether an injunction is appropriate, DOC employees
have the right to seek an injunction to protect their individual privacy rights when faced with anexplicit and volunteered threat.
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Monday, July 26, 2010
Friday, July 23, 2010
Thursday, July 22, 2010
"For at least a year, the Homeland Security Department detoured hundreds of requests for federal records to senior political advisers for highly unusual scrutiny, probing for information about the requesters and delaying disclosures deemed too politically sensitive, according to nearly 1,000 pages of internal e-mails obtained by The Associated Press."
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
NOTE: The article quotes Greg Overstreet of Allied Law Group.
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Monday, July 19, 2010
Thursday, July 15, 2010
You can sign up at www.facebook.com and search for "Allied Law Group."
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Monday, July 12, 2010
Friday, July 9, 2010
This should encourage agencies to avoid breaking the law. We'll see. But old habits die hard.
NOTE: Greg Overstreet of Allied Law Group is quoted in the article.
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
Saturday, July 3, 2010
Many editorials have been written on this:
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
As the Supreme Court held last year, the one-year statute of limitations for a Public Records Act case does not begin to run until the agency provides the required index showing the records it is withholding. Tobin just applies that to a set of facts where the agency never provided a withholding index so the statute of limitation was never triggered.
Thursday, June 17, 2010
We know Ken Bunting very well and think the world of him. NFOIC is getting a great executive director. Congratulations, Ken!
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Monday, June 14, 2010
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
UPDATE: Police reports obtained via the Public Records Act shed more light on what happened.
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
The newspaper requestors will appeal.
Thursday, June 3, 2010
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
If the "study sessions" are not properly noticed regular or special meetings, the Port cannot discuss Port business, and the creation of a new Port position certainly qualifies as that. If the meetings are a properly noticed special meeting, and there is no indication in the story that they are, then they can only discuss the items on the agenda for that special meeting, not drift into new areas.
If city business is discussed or acted up at a non-noticed meeting, it would violate the Open Public Meetings Act.
Thursday, May 20, 2010
Monday, May 17, 2010
NOTE: Allied Law Group's Greg Overstreet and David Norman represent The Sun in this case.
Friday, May 14, 2010
Here is the opinion and here is a Seattle Times story on the case.
Thursday, May 13, 2010
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
NOTE: Allied Law Group's Greg Overstreet and David Norman represented the Kitsap Sun in the case.
Monday, May 3, 2010
Washington courts have cameras in our Supreme Court and things go just fine.
(By the way, it's a little thing, but here on the West Coast we call carbonated beverages "pop," not "soda." I know the AP Style Manual says "soda" since that's the term used nationally so it's not the Spokesman's fault, but we're just noting how grating it is to hear "soda.")
Saturday, May 1, 2010
Friday, April 30, 2010
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Monday, April 26, 2010
"What you make for a living is your business. Unless we pay your salary."
Friday, April 23, 2010
The SEC staff need to unionize like public employees in Washington state. If they did, they would sue any public records requestor who sought to show they were watching porn on their work computers. They would assert a "privacy" interest in their workplace internet browsing histories.
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
It is rare for elected Attorneys General to actually argue cases in the U.S. Supreme Court. But McKenna is very good at this.
Monday, April 19, 2010
Friday, April 16, 2010
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
A while ago, we said that the media was not glad to have special access to some public records; we called it the "caste system." This editorial describes why everyone, not just the media, should have access to public records.
Monday, April 12, 2010
Friday, April 9, 2010
Here it is 2010 and the Legislature finally passed this. This idea was proposed in 2006 by Attorney General Rob McKenna. If we recall correctly, local government lobbyists opposed the idea then.
This new law saves agencies and requestors time and money, and encourages agencies to post public records online. Good public policy.
The passage of this bill should relieve some local government staff and lobbyists who claim that many public records requestors are just maliciously trying to waste agency resource by making agency staff find records and copy them. Nope. A link will do.
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
But don't come up with a new term to describe what it is you want to do and then claim that what you're doing is this new thing, not the thing that's illegal.
The City of Elma, realizing that they can't do what they want in an "executive session," has come up with a new term: a "closed session." This new thing, a "closed session," is different than an executive session. Because it's called something different.
Abraham Lincoln used to tell this joke: "How many legs does a dog have if you count his tail as a leg?" When people answered "five," he would say, "No, four. Because you can call a tail a leg, but it ain't."
You can call an executive session a "closed session" but it ain't.
This article from The (Aberdeen) Daily World describes Elma's proposed resolution to create a "closed session."
This proposed "closed session" violates the Open Public Meetings Act. A "closed session" is not even close to being legal.
Monday, April 5, 2010
Here is our favorite part: "The result? Too often, it's secret (and illegal) meetings out of earshot of dissenting voices and stubborn refusals to turn over documents to curious constituents. Don't like it? Sue us. And, oh, we'll be represented in court by a lawyer your tax dollars are paying for. You're free to hire counsel on your own dime."
Thursday, April 1, 2010
Attorney General Rob McKenna writes this blog piece in which he makes the point that, whether intentional or not, a state or local government's failure to provide public records costs taxpayers a lot.
A fair point. The blog piece goes on to advocate for an optional administrative board to keep these cases out of court, which would lower the cost to taxpayers. So far, so good.
But then the piece implies that records requestors get big payouts from harmless staff mistakes and that the Public Records Act is some kind of lotto for requestors. This hostility to the enforcement mechanisms of the Public Records Act has been building for some time at the Attorney General's Office.
After describing the Harold Carey case, in which Mason County intentionally treated Carey's requests as spam and did not respond to them and then had to pay $150,000 for not even trying to comply with the law, the Attorney General writes: "Carey won $150,000 in fees and fines. Not bad for 'spam' but not such a good deal for Mason County taxpayers."
Harold Carey, a client of Allied Law Group, spent years litigating that case and it cost him far more than the $150,000 he was eventually awarded. He had to sell some land to pay for the case--he had to sell his land because Mason County blatantly violated the law. But he is the bad guy. After losing the case, and therefore no longer subject to penalties, Mason County magically "found" 20,000 pages of public records that were responsive to his request and therefore didn't have to pay an extra dime.
Not bad for not even trying to comply with the law but not such a good deal for Mason County citizens who want their government to follow the law.
This is not an attack on the media; far from it. The media, we know from first-hand knowledge, didn't want to be treated differently than the public when it came to obtaining police records in HB 1317. But the media was given a choice by legislators: only you can get the records or no one can. So the media chose to get the records.
This caste system of public records requestor sets a horrible precedent. We hope this class distinction is eliminated in the next legislative session. We suspect the media will be urging a return to equal access to public records.
Monday, March 29, 2010
NOTE: Greg Overstreet of Allied Law Group is quoted in the article:
Since the city owns the Y and the bids have been made public, using real
estate to justify closure of the meeting may be questionable, said Greg
Overstreet, the former open government ombudsman for the state attorney
“You can’t close a meeting just because real estate is involved,”
Overstreet said. “There are several important requirements other than just the
topic being real estate.”
Here are the requirements in addition to the topic being real estate (see items (b) and (c)).
Thursday, March 25, 2010
The conduct of the agency at issue, King County, was atrocious. Without recounting all the facts, suffice it to say the King County spent years lying to the requestor and not providing the records.
The Court ruled that a trial court should decide where to start the daily penalty analysis, that is the dollar figure to start at and then either increase or decrease the amount from there. Several newspapers filed an amicus brief, written primarily by Allied Law Group's Michele Earl-Hubbard, suggesting a starting point of $52.50, the median between $5 and $100. The Court rejected the $52.50 median starting point.
The Court then laid out the following factors for decreasing a penalty: (1) a lack of clarity in the request, (2) the agency's prompt response or legitimate follow-up inquiry for clarification, (3) the agency's good faith, honest, timely, and strict compliance with the PRA, (4) proper training and supervision of agency staff, (5) the reasonableness of any explanation for noncompliance by the agency, (6) the helpfulness of the agency to the requestor, and (7) the existence of agency systems to track and retrieve public records.
The factors for increasing a penalty are: (1) a delayed response by the agency, especially in circumstances making time of the essence, (2) lack of strict compliance by the agency with all the PRA's requirements, (3) lack of proper training and supervision of agency staff, (4) unreasonableness of any explanation for noncompliance by the agency, (5) negligent, reckless, wanton, bad faith, or intentional noncompliance by the agency, (6) agency dishonesty, (7) the public importance of the issue to which the request is related, to the extent the importance is foreseeable to the agency, (8) any actual economic loss to the requestor, where the loss was foreseeable to the agency, and (9) a penalty amount necessary to deter future misconduct by the agency, considering the size of the agency and the facts of the case.
The majority opinion was written by Justice Alexander and signed by Justices Charles Johnson, Chambers, Jim Johnson, and Judge Dean Morgan (a substitute justice).
The dissent was written by Justice Susan Owens and signed by Chief Justice Madsen, Justice Fairhurst, and Judge Karen Seinfeld (a substitute justice).
Justices Sanders and Stephens did not participate.
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Once the matter has been referred to a prosecutor (as it has here), the law provides a presumption that the material must be released.
UPDATE: Here is an editorial from The (Tacoma) News-Tribune on the ridiculous delay in providing the public records of the Dorn arrest.
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Thanks to Jason Mercier at the Washington Policy Center for raising this issue when no one else cared.
Why should people get to see these kinds of things anyway? Nosy citizens. Don't they know their place?
The proposal was for discussion only; it has not been introduced in the Legislature.
As usual, og-blog gives elected officials the benefit of the doubt and cheers them on when they follow open-government laws. When they don't, we let you know.
Monday, March 22, 2010
UPDATE: Evergreen Freedom Foundation spotlights Judge Edwards' ruling on their blog, Liberty Live.
He is right.
We know some people who would write it for free. All we need is 250,000 or so signatures.
Given the hijinks in DC, it shouldn't come as a surprise that our state is also suffering from the same problem of excluding the public from lawmaking.
Friday, March 19, 2010
Since 1989, Washington had a decent anti-SLAPP statute, RCW 4.24.510, on the books.
But it just got better with the passage of SB 6395 a few days ago. It awaits the Governor's signature, which should not be a problem.
The bill creates a speedy procedure for a person to test whether a suit is indeed an unlawful SLAPP suit and provides a winning party their attorneys' fees and $10,000. Here is the final bill report summarizing the new law. This should knock out SLAPP suits before they do their intended job: costing people lots in legal costs for merely exercising their First Amendment rights.
Thursday, March 18, 2010
This would be great.
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Monday, March 15, 2010
Allied Law Group's Facebook page has even more. You can become a Facebook fan of Allied Law Group and get them automatically.
And, once you're a Facebook fan of Allied Law Group, you can become a Facebook friend of other like-minded people.
You will see tons of editorials and news stories this week about open government.
Here is a blog piece on Sunshine Week by Jason Mercier of the Washington Policy Center.
Sunday, March 14, 2010
Saturday, March 13, 2010
It didn't work. The judge ordered the records to be released.
And here are the records.
NOTE: Greg Overstreet of Allied Law Group represented The Daily World and The Vidette.
Thursday, March 11, 2010
You can be aggressive like this and sue people when, like the school district, your legal bills are paid with other people's money.
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
The Yakima Herald-Republic's story on the oral argumenet is here and the AP's is here. Background on the case is here.
Video of the oral argument is here. It is an amazing argument.
NOTE: Michele Earl-Hubbard of Allied Law Group argued the case on behalf of the newspaper.
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
Monday, March 8, 2010
Sunday, March 7, 2010
NOTE: Allied Law Group's Michele Earl-Hubbard will be arguing the case for the Yakima Herald-Republic on March 9, 2010 in the state Supreme Court. TVW will cover it and will have the video online after the argument.
Saturday, March 6, 2010
The Massive Number of Public Records Requests for Slain Lakewood Officers' Personal Information? Not One. Pathetic Scare Mongering.
Cop-killing stalkers trying to track down the slain officers' children? That would be horrible.
And a total lie.
Lakewood only received one public records request for the information (from the coffee shop's insurance company).
This is pathetic scare mongering. Trying to make government less accountable by using dead police officers and their children. This needs to stop.
NOTE: Allied Law Group represents The Daily World and The Vidette in this case.
Thursday, March 4, 2010
If you've ever asked, "What's in it for government with all this openness stuff?" the answer is "trust from the people who pay the bills and elect the leaders." That's a pretty good thing that government gets out of openness.
It's just weird that so many government officials don't get this.
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
NOTE: Allied Law Group represents The Daily World and another newspaper requestor, The Vidette, in this case.
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
Saturday, February 27, 2010
Thanks to Ms. Shmackenberry for sending this to us.
Thursday, February 25, 2010
So check out our Facebook page and sign up to be a fan.
If you don't have a Facebook account, you won't be able to use our Facebook page. You can sign up for Facebook (it's free) here.
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Oh, how wrong the City is.
A "public record" is a writing "containing information relating to the conduct of government or the performance of any governmental or proprietary function prepared, owned, used, or retained by any state or local agency regardless of physical form or characteristics." RCW 42.56.010(2).
In turn, a "writing" is: "handwriting, typewriting, printing, photostating, photographing, and every other means of recording any form of communication or representation including, but not limited to, letters, words, pictures, sounds, or symbols, or combination thereof, and all papers, maps, magnetic or paper tapes, photographic films and prints, motion picture, film and video recordings, magnetic or punched cards, discs, drums, diskettes, sound recordings, and other documents including existing data compilations from which information may be obtained or translated." RCW 42.56.010(3) (emphasis added).
The City may not be retaining the texts, but they should be.
We will take them at their word, but we will also let you know if they don't follow through.
Bad idea. The public learns a great deal about how its government is operating--or not--by having these recordings. Like the times a victim makes multiple calls to 911, law enforcement doesn't show up, and the victim is killed. Gruesome as it is, we need to know these things so we can make sure it doesn't happen to someone else. No records, no accountability.
Monday, February 22, 2010
Thursday, February 18, 2010
The (Tacoma) News Tribune is the first. A great editorial.