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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Spokesman Review Editorial on Governor's (Latest) Claim of Executive Privilege

The Spokesman Review writes this editorial on why the Governor should not be claiming "executive privilege" as a way to avoid providing public records. "Executive privilege" is not listed in the Public Records Act as an exemption from disclosure. It is a constitutional principle ... but has never been recognized in this context by a Washington appellate court.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Seattle Times Editorial on Ann Bremner DUI Records Case


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

Olympian Editorial on Secretive Legislature

This editorial in The Olympian describes why the Legislature needs to be more open. It is based on a study done by the Washington Policy Center. The piece also describes how few candidates answered an open-government questionnaire.

Friday, August 20, 2010

TNT Editorial on Governor Filling Spots on Sunshine Committee

This editorial from The (Tacoma) News Tribune urges Gov. Gregoire to fill vacancies on the Sunshine Committee and appoint a chair who isn't pro-agency like the last one.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Governor Lets Sunshine Committee Drift

Jason Mercier of the Washington Policy Center writes this piece on the Governor's inaction on vacancies on the Sunshine Committee. It doesn't seem like repealing unneeded exemptions from the Public Records Act is a high priority for her.

Here, by the way, are the appointments the Governor has had time to make.

Spokane Locks Doors to City Council Meeting

After receiving mail containing a mystery powder, the City of Spokane closed City Hall. Then, with the doors locked, had a city council meeting. Which violates the Open Public Meetings Act. The Spokesman-Review writes this story on what happened.

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

Friday, August 13, 2010

Obama Open Gov't Chief Leaves Without Replacement

Looks like the Obama Administration's open government "czar" is now the Ambassador to the Czech Republic and his job is being done by people who already have plenty to do. That is, there will not be a replacement for the departing open government chief.

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

City Council Member Devises Code for Communicating in Disclosable Public Records

It seems that a Sumner city council member wanted to use code to communicate in city emails without those pesky public records requestors knowing what was being said. So he came up with a code ... and put the code in an email that was disclosed.

Ohio Won't Release Public Employee Pension Records

The request for pension records asked the agencies to black out the names and addresses of recipients ... so how are the recipients' right to "privacy" affected?

You don't suppose the agencies have anything to hide, do you?

How the Story on the $800,000 City Manager Happened

This article describes how the LA Times was able to report on the city manager who was making almost $800,000, a story that created a national furor.

Hint: public records.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Article on Impact of Public Records Requests on the City of Yakima

This story in the Yakima Herald-Republic describes how public records requests are affecting the City of Yakima. It does a nice job of describing both sides of the story.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Public Records Show ... Surveillance and Infiltration of Local Anti-War Protestors

The ACLU found out quite a bit--via public records--about state and local agencies' surveillance and infiltration of Seattle-area anti-war protesters.

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

A Great Example of What's Wrong

This blog piece by Preston Mui of the Evergreen Freedom Foundation describes his public records request to Sound Transit. The agency printed out and mailed emails instead of ... emailing them. And they charged Preston for printing them out and mailing them.

Seriously, you should read this piece.

Questions about Tacoma's Settlemenet of Billboard Case in Executive Session

Lewis Kamb of the TNT blogs on the Tacoma City Council's vote--right after coming out of an executive session--to accept a settlement in a constitutional lawsuit about billboards without any discussion.

Editorial on Obama Administration's Open Gov't Record

This editorial from The (Longview) Daily News discusses the troubling practice of the Department of Homeland Security to have political appointees review some FOIA requests for public records. The editorial also describes the Obama administration's poor track record on open government.

Monday, August 2, 2010

$800,000 City Manger: Public Records and a Newspaper Saved the Day

Here is a very good editorial from the Tri-City Herald. It makes the point that in order to uncover the $800,000 city manager scandal, it took a newspaper looking into the matter (via public records). It was, indeed, a newspaper that told the world about the travesty in Bell, California.