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Monday, July 16, 2012

How Open Records Laws Might Have Stopped Sandusky Sooner at Penn State

Read this and then tell me open records laws are "too much work" for government agencies and "too expensive."

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Asotin County Sued Over Public Records

This KLEW-TV piece describes a suit by Rich Eggleston against Asotin County to obtain public records withheld from him for eight years.

NOTE: Greg Overstreet of Overstreet Law Firm is co-counsel for Rich Eggleston in this suit.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Olympian Editorial on Sunshine Committee

The Olympian hits the nail on the head in this editorial.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Museum Board's OPMA Issues

This story from the Spokesman-Review discusses whether a decision was made in an executive session.

NOTE: The article quotes Greg Overstreet of Overstreet Law Firm.

McKenna and Inslee Vow Not to Claim Executive Privilege

This piece from The Olympia describes some background on both gubernatorial candidate's records on open government and their pledge not to claim executive privilege to prevent disclosure, as Gov. Gregoire has.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

TNT Editorial on Access to Court Records

The (Tacoma) News Tribune writes this editorial on the mixed results of a TNT reporter's request for court records from various courts.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Everett Herald Story on Digital Communications and the PRA

This story from the Everett Herald looks at digital communications--cell phones, texts, tweets--and how they intersect with the Public Records Act.

Friday, May 11, 2012

MRSC Writes About Co-Mediation

The Municipal Research Service Center, a resource service for local governments, writes this about the co-mediation performed by Open Government Mediations.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Olympian Editorial on Executive Privilege Case

The Olympian writes this editorial on the Supreme Court's consideration of Gov. Gregoire's claim that governors have an "executive privilege" that allows them to withhold public records.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Public Records Lead to Acquittals of Innocent People

I've been saying this for years...

Hat tip to Mark for sending this in.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

State Supreme Court to Hear "Executive Privilege" Public Records Case

The Washington State Supreme Court accepted review of Freedom Foundation v. Gregoire.  The case will determine if the Governor has a constitutional-based "executive privilege" allowing her office to withhold public records that would otherwise be disclosable under the Public Records Act.  This is a big one.

The case was brought by the Freedom Foundation.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Iowa Now Has Open-Gov't Mediation Agency

What a terrific idea.  Good for Iowa.  Looks like they've done what OG-MED is doing in Washington State (via the private sector).

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Whatcom County Settles OPMA Suit

Whatcom County agreed to pay a $2,000 settlement to quickly end a suit by Tim Paxton alleging email meeting among the entire county council violated the Open Public Meetings Act.

NOTE: Greg Overstreet of Overstreet Law Firm represented Tim Paxton.

Greg Overstreet Forms Overstreet Law Firm

Og-blog has been sponsored by Allied Law Group for several years. On April 1, Greg Overstreet left Allied and formed Overstreet Law Firm (

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Supreme Court Rules Accident Reports Disclosable

The Washington State Supreme Court, in a 7-2 decision, ruled that certain accident reports are subject to disclosure. Here is the Seattle Times story on this.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Friday, March 2, 2012

(Vancouver) Columbian Editorial on Open Gov't

Here is an editorial from the (Vancouver) Columbian on the need for transparency in the legislative process.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

(Horrible) SB 6351 Appears to be Dead

SB 6351, which would have allowed a court to prevent any person from making public records requests if the request were a "significant burden" to the agency, looks like it is dead.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Judge Orders Disclosure Despite Contract

A King County Superior Court judge ordered the disclosure of records despite a union contract saying they could not be released.

The City of Seattle, to its credit, argued that it must disclose the records; the police union argued against disclosure.

Saturday, February 25, 2012


Hell has officially frozen over. Greg Overstreet and Ramsey Ramerman have teamed up.

The Associated Press is running a story this weekend on "co-mediation" in public records cases. The idea is that instead of looking to one mediator to attempt to resolve these contentious--and very expensive--cases out of court, each "side" has a co-mediator. Greg Overstreet is the requestor's co-mediator and noted agency PRA attorney Ramsey Ramerman is the agency's co-meditor.

Here is the Overstreet/Ramerman co-mediation web site: (Both Overstreet and Ramerman will continue their law practices, but will also provide co-mediation services.)

The AP story is running in various newspapers. They are the Olympian, Bellingham Herald, The (Tacoma) News Tribune, Seattle Times, and (Vancouver) Columbian. FindLaw is also running it.

KING 5 TV correctly notes that their story on the ballooning costs of Public Records Act litigation is one of the reasons why co-mediation is getting some attention.

Co-mediation just might be the thing that breaks the log jam in some of these cases. Co-mediation might reduce the number of "horror stories" each side has.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Spokesman-Review Editorial on SB 6109

The Spokesman-Review writes this excellent editorial on why SB 6109, which exempts recordings of executive sessions from disclosure, should be passed by the House.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Olympian Editorial on SB 6109 (Executive Session Tapes)

This editorial from The Olympian describes why it's good that the Senate passed SB 6109, which makes tapes of executive sessions exempt from disclosure. A good exemption from disclosure? Yes, because now agencies can tape their executive sessions without worrying about them being automatically disclosed--but, if there is a lawsuit or some other reason to have a record of what happened in the executive session, then the tape exists.

Too Much Disclosure?

Can too much disclosure be a bad thing? Read this story and see what you think.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Various Legislative Things

This time of year there are numerous legislative things happening on the public records front. Here are some of them:

Public given one minute to testify on Public Records Act bill.

Newspapers editorialize against Public Records Act bills.

Editorial from The (Vancouver) Columbian on Public Records Act bills.

School districts want to charge for "search time" to gather public records.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Seattle Times Editorial on SB 6574 (Search Fees for School Districts)

Another terrible bill, SB 6574, is the subject of this Seattle Times editorial.

More on (Horrible) SB 6351

Here is an editorial from The (Everett) Herald on (awful) SB 6351.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Yakima Herald-Republic Editorial on SB 6351

This editorial describes why SB 6351, the bill to allow agencies to not respond to records requests they deem to be "harassing," is so bad.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Sunshine Committee Wants Agency Job Applicants' Records Disclosed

This story from The (Tacoma) News Tribune describes the Sunshine Committee's recommendation that agency job applicants' applications be disclosed.

Kudos to the Sunshine Committee.

Senate Hears Testimony on SB 6351, a Truly Horrible PRA Idea Ever

The Seattle Times reports on yesterday's hearing on SB 6351, a bill that would allow an agency to not respond to records requests from people the agency deems "harassing."

Here is the Bellingham Herald story on the bill.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Arlington Fights Felon Records Requestor

This (Everett) Herald story describes why the City of Arlington will spend thousands of dollars to avoid paying a convicted felon a $500 settlement in a Public Records Act case.

Friday, January 27, 2012

AZ Gov. Letter to President--Not a Public Record?

Gov. Jan Brewer, a Republican, wrote a handwritten letter to President Obama on her gubernatorial letterhead. Apparently the letter is "feisty" (we don't care about the politics of the letter).

The USA Today story says:

"When The Arizona Republic requested a copy, Brewer's spokesman, Matthew Benson, said no copies existed and the letter was 'personal, handwritten' correspondence not subject to open-records laws."

To the credit of Gov. Brewer's staff, they released a copy when they found out a copy had been made.

Oh, come on. A governor in a political dispute with the President doesn't make a copy of a letter she gives the President? Really? No one made a copy? It seems that Gov. Brewer's staff "found" the copy only when people found it about the letter.

We run into this often where an agency claims it doesn't possess a record that common sense would indicate it would possess.

Hat tip to KMac for this story.

When The Arizona Republic requested a copy, Brewer's spokesman, Matthew Benson, said no copies existed and the letter was "personal, handwritten" correspondence not subject to open-records laws.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

FBI Hiding FOIA Documents

This explains a lot. It describes the FBI's apparent practice of "blacklisting" requested records and not providing them.

Hat tip to Jim for sending this to us.

SB 6351: Terrible, Terrible Bill

Just as we predicted, government agencies would attempt to amend RCW 42.56.565, the statute allowing a court order to prevent an agency from responding to an inmate's public records request, and then apply it to ... any public records request.

They did it. They have introduced SB 6351.

That's right: requestors like you are just like inmates under this bill.

Attorney General Rob McKenna will hopefully oppose SB 6351.

Olympian Editorial on Need to Record Executive Sessions

This editorial from The Olympian describes why the Legislature should pass SB 6109.

HB 2572: Requiring PRA and OPMA Training for State and Local Gov'ts

This is a great idea.

State Auditor's Office Website on Local Gov't Finances

Jason Mercier at the Washington Policy Center posts this about a new website provided by the State Auditor's Office to allow citizens to easily find out about the finances of local governments.

Very cool.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Columbian Editorial on Open Gov't in 2012 Legislative Session

The (Vancouver) Columbian writes this editorial on the upcoming 2012 legislative session.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

SB5355: Real Notice of Special Meetings

Here's a good bill that might actually be getting some action in the Senate: SB 5355.

It requires notice of special meetings by, among other things, posting notice on the agency's web site.

HB 2340 to Prevent Disclosure of Records for "Commerical Purposes"

HB 2340 is a bad bill. It prevents the disclosure of any public records that will be used for a "commercial purpose." You know, like reporters getting public records, reporting on government, and thereby selling newspapers.


SB 6109 to Exempt Executive Session Recordings

Normally we're not huge fans of exemptions from disclosure here at og-blog.

This might be an exception. Senate Bill 6109 exempts video and audio recordings of closed-to-the-public executive sessions of otherwise open public meetings. This is so municipalities (and the few state agencies subject to the OPMA) will record them. Without this exemption those recordings are subject to disclosure.

But the saving grace of SB 6109 is that a municipality may waive the exemption. This would be done when, for example, an illegal executive session occurred. The recording would be the proof that something happened in the executive session that violated the Open Public Meetings Act. A majority of the municipality's governing body must authorize the waiver of the exemption, which probably wouldn't happen too often. But it could, theoretically, happen. This is better than the current situation in which no municipalities record their executive sessions.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Federal Court Rejects Texas Legislature's Claim of Legislative Privilege

Interesting. Legislative privilege is sometimes used by the Washington House and Senate to withhold public records.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

City of Seattle Sues Attorney Making Public Records Request

The City of Seattle--not widely known as a haven of open government--sued an attorney who made a public records request. The City says that it is caught between two conflicting laws and wants court guidance on what to do. The attorney thinks its retaliation.