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Friday, July 30, 2010

"Fullest Assistance"? Close Enough for Gov't Work

This piece from Mike Reitz of the Evergreen Freedom Foundation describes his attempt to get a simple public record from the Belfair Water District.

Latest Parmelee Decision

The Court of Appeals issued another Parmelee decision. He is the controversial prisoner who makes numerous public records requests of prison officials.

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
government employee.

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

SEC Claims It Is Now Exempt from FOIA

Why would people need to get public records to see if the Securities and Exchange Commission--the same agency which was repeatedly warned about Bernie Maddof and did nothing--is doing its job? The SEC says it is now exempt from FOIA.

Op-Ed on Public Records and the $800,000 City Manager

Richard Davis of the Washington Research Council writes this op-ed in The (Everett) Herald on why access to public records tells us important things like the $800,000 salary of a city manager in a small and lower-income town.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Public Records Brought Down $800,000 City Manager

This piece from Jason Mercier at the Washington Policy Center explains how that pesky Public Records Act allowed the public to learn of a city manager of a small and poor California city who makes an annual salary of almost $800,000.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Tri-City Herald Editorial on Lack of Disclosure of Criminal Defense Costs

This Tri-City Herald editorial describes the (sadly increasing) trend of criminal defense attorneys and even courts to refuse to disclose the costs of taxpayer-funded criminal defenses.

Legislator Asks For Attorney General's Opinion on Oak Harbor Meetings

The Whidbey News-Times reports that Rep. Barb Bailey has requested an Attorney General's opinion on the City of Oak Harbor's practice of holding regular meetings of various "standing committees" of the City Council where more than a quorum of the council apparently attend.

NOTE: The article notes that the Whidbey News-Times has consulted with Allied Law Group on the matter.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Public Records Show ... Congress Spent $604,000 on Bottled Water for Itself

The Sunlight Foundation's report on how Congress spends the $1 billion annually that it spends on its own operations revealed some very interesting things.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Homeland Security Flagged some FOIA Requests for Political Scrutiny

Here is what the Associated Press found:

"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

Did Hospital District Violate OPMA When Selecting New Director

The Port Townsend Leader has this story on the (frustratingly frequent) issue of an agency decision to hire a new director and narrowing the field of candidates in a closed-to-the-public executive session.

NOTE: The article quotes Greg Overstreet of Allied Law Group.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Public Records Show ... City Manager Making Almost $800,000 a Year


A city manager of a town of 40,000 making almost $800,000 a year? In a state that is having a financial crisis? Police are being laid off but this guy makes that kind of money? Some city council members making $8,000 a year while others are making over $100,000? Huh?

While city leaders were making this kind of money, the city was paying laborers $9 per hour with no benefits. Here is the story on that.

See how divisive that evil Public Records Act is? If it weren't for these public records that whole town would be living in harmony.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Editorial on Library District Open Meetings Issue

This editorial from The Olympian discusses the seeming violation of the Open Public Meetings Act by the Timberline Library District when hiring a new executive director. Here is a previous story on the issue.

NOTE: The editorial quotes Greg Overstreet of Allied Law Group. He is quoted as saying the board of trustees should have "defined" the issue in an open meeting. That is a misprint; he said the trustees should have "discussed" the issue in an open meeting.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

More Open Gov't Stories on Allied's Facebook Page

If you like og-blog providing you with links to open-government articles and stories, then you'll really like Allied Law Group's Facebook page. We have at least double the material on our Facebook page. Also, you can comment on the stories on Facebook.

You can sign up at and search for "Allied Law Group."

More on R-71 Decision

This piece by Cal Fitzsimmons of the Wenatchee World discusses the balancing of interests in the R-71 case.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The (Everett) Herald Editorial on Everett School District Open Meetings Issue

This editorial describes an alleged violation of the Open Public Meetings Act by the Everett School District.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Supreme Court to Review Lakewood Police Public Records Case

EFF's Washington Supreme Court of Washington Blog has a piece on the state Supreme Court agreeing to hear a case about a public records request for records relating to the investigation of the Lakewood police killer and the trial of his alleged accomplices.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Counties Losing Insurance Coverage for Public Records Act Violations?

This story in The (Grays Harbor) Daily World suggests that Washington counties no longer have insurance for PRA violations.

This should encourage agencies to avoid breaking the law. We'll see. But old habits die hard.

Library Board Might Have Violated OPMA in Hiring Decision

This article from The Olympian describes a very detailed employment proposal that came out of an executive session that could merely consider the "qualifications" of a candidate for employment.

NOTE: Greg Overstreet of Allied Law Group is quoted in the article.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

GAO: Obama Website on Stimulus Spending Not Transparent

The General Accounting Office finds that the Obama administration is not meeting its own transparency requirements for its web site on how stimulus money is being spent.

Judge Orders Newspaper to Destroy Archives of Old News Stories

Huh? How is this legal?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

R-71 Case Part II

The U.S. Supreme Court sent the R-71 case back to the lower court to determine if release of the records would violate the new test they laid out. This editorial from The Olympian discussing this second phase of the case.