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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Evergreen Freedom Foundation Issues Report on Open Public Meetings Act Violations

More good work from EFF.

Public Records Show ... L&I Lied to Legislature on Workers Comp Rate Increase

The Kitsap Peninsula Business Journal writes that the director of the state Department of Labor and Industries lied (the Journal's word) to the Legislature when she said the agency did not have a number for the pending workers compensation rate increase. Public records show they did (but the agency redacted the number).

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

"Taking your government for a stroll in the dark"

The Tri-City Herald writes this piece on how the Legislature ignores the open-government promises it makes.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Obama Given Low Marks for Transparency

This is from NextGov, a nonpartisan publication aimed at readers in the government technology industry.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

County Wants to Discuss Union Salaries in Private

Sam Taylor at the Bellingham Herald is on top of the story as usual.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Whatcom County Calls Special Meeting to Look at Its Public Records Compliance

The Bellingham Herald has this blog piece on some interesting proactive work by at least one member of the Whatcom County Council to look into accusations of inadequate public records compliance.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

EFF to Appeal Ruling Denying Access to Ferry Worker Drug Testing Records

The Evergreen Freedom Foundation would like to see if state ferry workers are failing mandatory drug and alcohol testing. The state won't turn over the records. EFF will appeal a ruling that these records can remain secret.

Many Candidates Silent on Open Gov't Issues

Kim Bradford at The (Tacoma) News-Tribune writes this piece on how numerous candidates are not responding to a questionnaire from the Washington Coalition for Open Government asking their positions on open government issues.

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

David Seago Op-Ed in Tri-City Herald

David Seago writes this great op-ed piece.

Oregon Attorney General Works on Open Gov't Issues

The Oregon Attorney General did a study of that state's open government laws and has some proposals to fix them.

Friday, October 8, 2010

! Supreme Court Rules Metadata a "Public Record" !

The Washington Supreme Court handed down their much-anticipated ruling in O'Neill v. City of Shoreline. Their main holdings are:
  • 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.

UPDATE: Here is an AP story about the case. Here is a blog piece by Bruce Ramsey and Lynne Varner of the Seattle Times.

NOTE: Michele Earl-Hubbard, David Norman, and Chris Roslaniec of Allied Law Group represented the public records requestors.

Bell, CA City Manager May Sue for Back Pay!

You can't make this stuff up.

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

Public Records Show ... Recalled Kids' Glasses Toxic

The Associated Press writes this story about the recall of "Shrek" glasses provided in McDonald's Happy Meals. Apparently, it only takes eight touches on the glass in one day for a child to get a toxic dose of cadmium.

We knew that the glasses had been recalled, but how did we know just how toxic they were? "[A]ccording to documents obtained under the federal Freedom of Information Act."

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Editorial on How Bell, CA Scandal Shows Need for Public Records Laws

The (Longview) Daily News writes this fabulous editorial describing exactly why laws like the Public Records Act are needed--just look at Bell, California.

Open Meetings Act Violates Politicians' Free Speech Rights?

A law professor writes a paper (link to abstract provided) arguing that open government laws such as the Open Public Meetings Act "chill" the free speech rights of elected officials by prohibiting them from conducting public business in secret.

Apparently the professor advocates government's constitutional right to rule people in secret.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Yakima County Settles Real Estate Database Case

The Yakima Herald-Republic reports that Yakima County has settled a Public Records Act case to obtain a copy of the County's real estate title database. The database is provided in the requested format in every other county in Washington.

NOTE: Michele Earl-Hubbard of Allied Law Group represented the records requestor, Sage Information Services.