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Monday, November 22, 2010

Kitsap Sun Describes Why It Sought Police Dash Cam Video of Police Shooting

David Nelson of the Kitsap Sun writes this column on why his newspaper went to court to obtain a copy of a police dash cam video showing the shooting death of a motorist--and why the paper ultimately decided not to put the video on its web site even after winning the court case.

This is a very important example of privacy and accountability. Accountability ultimately won out, which is the purpose of the Public Records Act, but the Kitsap Sun acted with compassion to honor the wishes of the deceased's family as much as possible. A class act.

NOTE: The column mentions Greg Overstreet of Allied Law Group who represented the Kitsap Sun in the case.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Supreme Court Issues Public Records Ruling in Lakewood Police Killer Case

The Supreme Court decided--unanimously--in favor of releasing public records and court files involving the trial of those accused of aiding Maurice Clemmons when he killed four Lakewood police officers.

Here is the opinion and a blog piece on it.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Praise for an Elected Official

Tracy Warner of the Wenatchee World writes this piece praising the open-government work of Chelan County Clerk Siri Woods.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Port Angeles "Do Over" Because of Open Meetings Issues

The Local Open Government Blog, sponsored by a law firm representing local governments, has this piece on a joint pool district having to meet a second time (this time in compliance with the Open Public Meetings Act) to hire a director. It also discusses the question of which bodies are subject to the OPMA.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Public Records Show ... Evidence Leading to Indictment of Sheriff

A Kentucky newspaper used that state's public records law to find some disturbing things about a local sheriff, which then led to his indictment.

Once again, trouble makers use a public records law to just bother people.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Attorney General Model Rules for Open Meetings?

Mike Reitz at the Evergreen Freedom Foundation writes this on whether the Attorney General's Office will draft model rules for open meetings like they did for public records.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Washington Coalition for Open Gov't Forum in Olympia

The Washington Coalition for Open Government held a forum in Olympia last night. The Olympian writes this story about it.

It was amazing--and sad--that of the 70 or so people in the audience there were only 2 elected officials. One of them complained about how much work it is to respond to public records requests.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Boehner on New Congressional Transparency Measures

U.S. House Speaker-Designate John Boehner writes this in the Wall Street Journal on what the next Speaker (that would be him) should do.

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

Op-Ed on Need for Attorney General Guidance on Open Meetings Law

Mike Reitz of the Evergreen Freedom Foundation writes this great op-ed piece in the Seattle Times describing why the Attorney General's Office needs to provide some model rules on the Open Public Meetings Act.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Public Records Show ... Bell, CA Officials Charged Business Seemingly Illegal Fees

The LA Times, through public records, can show that Bell, CA city officials charged some businesses tens of thousands of dollars in fees for permits in order to pay their outrageous salaries:
For at least a decade, officials in Bell arbitrarily required some
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.
There 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.