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Monday, January 31, 2011

Rebuttal From Gov't Attorney on Inmate Requests

The Spokesman-Review has this rebuttal on inmate requests from a former government attorney.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Spokane Records Case in State Supreme Court

This story from the Spokesman-Review describes the Neighborhood Alliance case.

NOTE: Michele Earl-Hubbard and Chris Roslaniec of Allied Law Group filed a friend of the court brief in this case for the records requestor.

Seattle Police Withheld Email in Investigation of Shooting

The Seattle Times reports that the Seattle Police Department withheld an email from a city council member to the police chief calling for outside review of a controversial shooting of a citizen.

House Adopts Budget "Time Out" Transparency Rule

The good folks at the Washington Policy Center tell us that the state House of Representatives has adopted a budget "time out" rule. It allows 24 hours between the introduction of a budget and a vote.

How the public is supposed to understand hundreds of pages of a budget document in 24 hours is not explained, but it is a small (actually, tiny) step toward transparency.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Kitsap Sun Article on Public Records Bills

The Kitsap Sun has this article on the Public Records Act bills in the Legislature this session.

Olympian Editorial on Yakima Case on Legal Invoices

The Olympia writes this editorial on the fantastic 9-0 state Supreme Court victory for open government in the Yakima Herald-Republic newspaper's suit to obtain legal invoices showing how $2 million of tax money was spent on the legal defense of two defendants.

NOTE: Michele Earl-Hubbard of Allied Law Group represented the Yakima Herald-Republic in the case. She is quoted in the editorial.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Rep. Chris Hursts' Op-Ed Piece on Administrative Appeals for Open Gov't Cases

Rep. Chris Hurst writes this op-ed piece in the Seattle Times on his bill to allow administrative appeals of open government cases.

Spokesman-Review Piece on Restricting Prisoner Access to Records

Jim Camden of the Spokesman-Review writes this piece on the bills to restrict prisoners' access to public records.

Senate Hears Anti-Openness Bills

TVW has this piece on bills to put more hurdles in front of public records requestors.

Friday, January 21, 2011

HB 1034 on Restricting Prisoner Access to Public Records

TVW's Capitol Record reports on the hearing on HB 1034, a bill to restrict prisoner access to public records.

Bill to Create Administrative Appeals for Records Cases Questioned

The Olympian reports on HB 1044, a bill to allow administrative appeals of Public Records Act cases. It would cost a little money and the state doesn't have any.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

New Case on Paying for Copies of Public Records

If you aren't inspecting records and then tell the agency you won't pay for copies, they don't have to search for responsive records. So holds Gronquist v. Dept' of Corrections.

SB 5088: Allowing Agencies to Charge for "Search Time" to Provide Public Records

SB 5088 is atrocious must be stopped.

It has a companion bill in the House, HB 1300.

Here is a story on the bills in the Kitsap Sun.

There are no hearings planned for these bills. Yet.

Olympian Editorial on Proposal to End Legislative Secrecy

The Olympia writes this editorial on a proposed state constitutional amendment to end the Legislature's current practice of doing its business largely in secret.

The proposed constitutional amendment is based on a proposal by the Washington Policy Center.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

(Vancouver) Columbian Editorial on Legislative Secrecy

The (Vancouver) Columbian writes this editorial on legislative secrecy.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Online Resource for Newly Elected Officials on Records Retention

The Tri-City Herald writes this on a Secretary of State online resource to teach newly elected officials about records retention requirements. Great work by the Secretary of State's Office.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Centralia Settles Public Records Case

The City of Centralia has settled a Public Records Act case brought by The (Centralia/Chehalis) Chronicle to obtain evaluations of the city manager. The City will $14,650 to newspaper in attorney fees and agrees to all future city manager evaluations.

NOTE: Michele Earl-Hubbard and Chris Roslaniec of Allied Law Group represented the newspaper.

Yakima Herald Case is Out

Today the state Supreme Court ruled in favor of a records requestor, the Yakima Herald-Republic, in a case. Here is the conclusion to the opinion:

We reaffirm long standing case law and hold that the documents prepared
by court personnel in connection with court cases and maintained by the court are
judicial documents governed by GR 15. Further, we hold that such documents,
when transferred to nonjudicial county entities, are governed by the PRA unless
they are subject to an additional protective order. We also hold that a trial court
has jurisdiction to consider a motion to unseal court documents and is not required
to seek permission from an appellate court pursuant to RAP 7.2 when the sealing
order will not impact a separate decision on appeal, and that a limited intervention
by a third party in a criminal case is a proper procedure after trial has ended. In the
interests of judicial economy, we remand to the trial court to determine whether
continued sealing of these financial documents is proper pursuant to GR 15(e),
given the current posture of the criminal case.

With regard to documents held by nonjudicial branch agencies, we reverse
the trial court and remand for the county to comply with the PRA consistent with
this opinion. Finally, we award costs and reasonable attorney fees to the Herald-Republic but deny daily penalties as premature.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

! SB 5088 Proposes "Search Fees" For Public Records !

If you care about open government, you absolutely must contact your state Senator and ask him or her to oppose Senate Bill 5088.

It does not have a hearing yet. Keep checking this link to see if it gets one. I'm guessing it will because so many anti-open government bills are moving through the Legislature this year.

This is a really big deal.

Attorney General and Auditor Endorse Legislative Transparency Amendment

Attorney General Rob McKenna and State Auditor Brian Sonntag have endorsed a proposed state constitutional amendment to require more transparency in the legislative process. Kudos to both.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Spokesman-Review: Best Way to Reduce Records Costs Is to Comply with Law

The Spokesman-Review writes this editorial on the problem of agencies spending a lot on Public Records Act compliance.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Court Awards Sanctions Against Repeat Records Requestor

The Local Open Government Blog, put out by a Seattle law firm representing government agencies, has this write-up of Phillips v. Valley Communications, Inc. In that case, the Court of Appeals upheld monetary sanctions against a records requestor under court rules prohibiting frivolous law suits.