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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Everett City Council Promises More Openness

This story from The (Everett) Herald describes the claim by the new Everett City Council to hold more open meetings.

Spokesman-Review Editorial on Financial Institutions Exemptions from Disclosure

The (Spokane) Spokesman-Review has this editorial on some bills in the Legislature to allow information to be withheld on troubled financial institutions.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Olympian Editorial on the Bill to Curb Attorneys' Fee and Penalty Awards in Public Records Act Cases

The Olympian writes this editorial on Senate Bill 6408, which would make attorneys' fee awards to successful requestors optional and would require any penalties obtained to be "donated" to the state.

The editorial quotes Allied Law Group's Greg Overstreet on the effect of SB 6408:

“It will gut the Public Records Act,” said Greg Overstreet, former public records ombudsman and an attorney in private practice. “Love ’em or hate ’em, it takes lawyers to enforce this law and they need to be paid. The law doesn’t enforce itself.”

TNT Editorial on SB 6408

The (Tacoma) News Tribune editorializes against the bill to curb Public Records Act attorneys' fee and penalty awards, providing concrete examples of why SB 6408 would be a bad bill.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

HB 3031: An act allowing government agencies to charge fees for large requests

From the House Republican press release:

"Under HB 3031, a public agency would be allowed to charge a fee, in advance, if complying with a request for documents would take more than five hours of employee time to produce within a month. The measure would give agencies discretion in deciding when a fee would be appropriate."

What a horrible bill. Government already consumes about 40% of the economy of the United States; do people who collectively pay 40% of everything they work for really need to pay an additional fee to get public records that already belong to them?

Monday, January 25, 2010

Friday, January 22, 2010

Thursday, January 21, 2010

January 26 Hearing on Bill to Create Office of Open Records

The House Committee on State Government & Tribal Affairs will hold a hearing on January 26, 2010 beginning at 1:30 pm on HB 2736, the bill to create the Office of Open Records. This would be the administrative agency that would attempt to resolve Public Records Act cases without litigation.

Hearing on Bill to Allow People Time to Read State Budget Before Passage

Jason Mercier at the Washington Policy Center updates us on this.

One Year After Obama Order to Open Up Federal Gov't, Not Everyone Is Following

This piece from describes mid-level agency resistance to President Obama's memorandum to make federal agencies more transparent.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Wenatchee World Editorial on R-71 Case at US Supreme Court

The Wenatchee World writes this editorial on the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to hear the R-71 initiative signature case.

The idea of the U.S. Supreme Court possibly striking down Washington's Public Records Act, or portions of it, on First Amendment grounds is frightening.

Newspaper Protests and Meeting Opened Up

The (Aberdeen) Daily World questioned the closing of a meeting and it was opened up. Here is the story (see the last paragraph).

That's how the law is supposed to work.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Friday, January 15, 2010

SB 6529: "The Light of Day Act"

Sen. Roach introduces the "Light of Day Act." Nice idea but we suspect it won't ... see the light of day.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Bipartisan 72-hour budget review bill introduced

Thanks to Jason Mercier of the Washington Policy Center for sending us all these bills.

SB 6408: making PRA attorneys fees awards optional

This should be called the "Forget About Anyone Ever Filing Suit to Enforce the Public Records Act So We'll Never Turn Over Records Act of 2010."

! Judge Orders Tacoma City Council to Tape Meetings !

Big news in the (Tacoma) News Tribune.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Pierce County Might Be Violating OPMA

The (Tacoma) News-Tribune's David Wickert blogs on the Attorney General's Office weighing in on whether some proposed meetings of the Pierce County Council violate the Open Public Meetings Act.

Governor Repeatedly Withholds Records Under "Executive Privilege"

This report from the Evergreen Freedom Foundation discusses the Governor's heavy use of "executive privilege" to withhold records.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Citing police safety, bill would shield petition signatures

HB 2736/SB 6383 - Establishing the office of open records

SB 6408: Changing remedies for actions under the public records act

Public Records Reform Introduced

There's a flood of bills and other information like the blog above. We will just send you the URLs to keep up with all of them.

HB 2714: preventing disclosure of initiative signatures

The people supporting this bill should have thought about the impact it will have on the U.S. Supreme Court, which is hearing the R-71 case in a few months.

When this bill fails to pass, the State can tell the U.S. Supreme Court that the people of Washington had a chance to prohibit disclosure but declined to do so.

If the bill passes, it moots out the case.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Callaghan Column on Tacoma City Council and the OPMA

This piece, entitled "Tacoma City Council Violated a Law It Had No Motivation to Follow, says it all.

Public Records Show ... Federal Officials Obscured Deaths of Immigration Detainees

The New York Times writes this story after it obtained public records on how and why over 100 immigration detainees died in federal custody over the past seven years.

"Open records laws are such a waste of public resources" the politicians and bureaucrats will tell you. Wonder why.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Governor Supports Open Records Office

This story from Steven Friederich of The (Aberdeen) Daily World describes the Governor's conceptual support for a bill to create an administrative remedy to obtain public records. But, she says, "we haven't got a dime" to fund it.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

C-SPAN Begs to Cover Health Care Decision Meeting

C-SPAN is imploring Congress to let cameras into the meetings where the differences between the House and Senate health care bills are being hashed out (by one of the political parties; the other one is excluded).

Here is what then-candidate Barack Obama said about C-SPAN coverage of a future health care debate:

"That's what I will do in bringing all parties together, not negotiating behind closed doors, but bringing all parties together, and broadcasting those negotiations on C-SPAN so that the American people can see what the choices are," Obama said at a debate against Hillary Clinton in Los Angeles on Jan. 31, 2008.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Cities to Propose "Frequent Flier" Bill to Curb Repeat Requestors

The (Tacoma) News Tribune has this story on a legislative proposal by cities to control frequent public records requestors.