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Monday, June 29, 2009

City of Monroe Open Meetings Questioned

This story from the (Everett) Herald describes some unusual goings on at the City of Monroe, which has a bit of a track record of Open Public Meetings Act problems.

Thanks to a loyal og-blog reader who sent this to our attention.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

City of Bellingham Withholding Train Accident Documents

This story from the Bellingham Herald, via the (Tacoma) News Tribune, describes a fight to obtain public records about a train accident.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Judge Rules Gay City Employees' Names Can Be Withheld

King County Superior Court Judge John Erlick ruled that a list of City of Seattle workers in a gay employees group can be withheld pending a full hearing on the case, reports the Seattle P-I.

Here is more background on the case and how it developed.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Judge Seals Records and Closes Courtroom

The Port Townsend Leader has this story on the sealing of records in a murder trial and the closure of the courtroom.

(Longview) Daily News Editorial on Pres. Obama's Refusal to Disclose White House Visitor Logs

We criticized President Bush for not releasing the White House visitor logs, so we join the (Longview) Daily News in criticizing President Obama for the same thing.

Here is background on President Obama's administratoin's refusal to release the records.

Jason Mercier Op-Ed on State Spending Database

The state spending database is up and running.

Jason Mercier of the Washington Policy Center writes this op-ed on it in the (Tacoma) News-Tribune.

You might also be interested in the Evergreen Freedom Foundation's tax transparency web site,

Ken Bunting Op-Ed Piece on Open Gov't

Ken Bunting, formerly of the Seattle P-I, writes this op-ed piece on open government for the Yakima Herald-Republic.

Feast or Famine

As you might have noticed, sometimes there is one og-blog posting a week and other times three or four a day. It just depends on the material that's out there.

There's been lots lately.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Pres. Obama Breaking Pledge to Allow Public to See Bills For 5 Days Before Signing

This story from the New York Times describes then-candidate Obama's pledge to allow the public five days to view a bill passed by Congress before the President signed it.

It's not working out that way.

Attorney General Blog on Open Gov't

"Unredacted," the Attorney General's Office blog on open government, is up now. It is in a Frequently Asked Questions-style format and is very helpful.

You can find it at

Here is some more information on Unredacted.

$500,000 Public Records Ruling ... Kind Of

This story from The Olympian describes a ruling in Thurston County Superior Court of a Public Records Act judgment of over $500,000 against the state Department of Labor and Industries. But it was based on the Yousoufian decision on penalties, which was withdrawn by the Supreme Court. So it's in limbo.

UPDATED (2): Gay City Employees Try to Block Release of Their Names

The Seattle P-I reports on a suit filed by gay City of Seattle employees to block the release of a roster of the Seattle Public Utilities "Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning and Friends" group.

UPDATE 1: Here is more on the story from the Seattle Times.

UPDATE 2: The City, reluctantly, takes the position that the records are disclosable. Whether or not the City wants to release the records, this is the correct legal position. Give City Attorney Tom Carr credit where credit is due.

Yakima Open Gov't Forum on June 24

If you're in the Yakima area, you might want to attend this.

(Everett) Herald Editorial on "Late Night Happy Hour" City Meeting

The (Everett) Herald writes this editorial about a "late night happy hour" meeting of Mukilteo city council members.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Obama Criticized for Lack of Openness

Newsweek's Michael Isikoff, who is not exactly a Republican, writes this about President Obama's openness record.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Supreme Court to Rehear Yousoufian Case

The Seattle Times reports that due to the recusal of Justice Sanders the Supreme Court will rehear the Yousoufian case which clarified law on the penalties provision of the Public Records Act.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

UPDATED: Supreme Court Quickly Orders Release of Federal Way Records

Holy smokes. It only took the Supreme Court a week or so after oral argument to order the release of public records involving a Federal Way Municipal Court judge.

The story is from Washington Policy Center's blog.

UPDATE: Here is the TNT story on the release, including a link to the document they fought so hard to get.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Spokesman-Review Editorial on Copying Charges

The Spokesman-Review writes this editorial on the City of Spokane's decision to not impose (illegally high) copying charges for public records.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

TNT Editorial on Federal Way Municipal Court Records

The Tacoma News-Tribune writes this editorial calling for the release of public records from the Federal Way Municipal Court. A judge of that court is suing the TNT to block the release of the records.

Monday, June 8, 2009

The $1 Million Public Meetings Notice Mistake

Grays Harbor County might lose $1,000,000 in federal stimulus money because it failed to provide the required notice and record a public meeting under federal grant law.

So reports The (Aberdeen) Daily World.

Local governments are always complaining about how costly it is to comply with open meetings laws. It seems a whole lot more costly to violate them.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

AG Ombudsman Questions Spokane's Copying Fees

This post from the Center for Justice's blog describes a letter written by the Attorney General's Open Government Ombudsman, Tim Ford, to the City of Spokane regarding its new copying charges. The city is charging $0.90 for the first page and $0.30 per page thereafter. The City is only allowed to charge their "actual costs" for copying public records, including labor.

Have you been to a Kinkos lately? They charge somewhere in the range of $0.10 per page. If the City's "actual cost" is $0.90 or $0.30 per page, is Kinkos giving away billions of dollars by undercharging for all their copies? Someone better tell Kinkos shareholders of this massive give-away.

Monday, June 1, 2009

King County Considering Public Records Reforms

This from West Seattle Herald.

The proposal for more openness comes from the political out (way out) of power in King County, thus reinforcing the idea that the "ins" are less enamored with public disclosure and the "outs" like it.

At least until the "ins" and "out" parties trade places. Then you start all over again. Repeat as necessary.

Video of Alleged Puppy Mill Released

The Seattle Times reports on the release of a video by Snohomish County, over the objection of criminal defendants, in a case alleging mistreatment of animals.

While the Public Records Act gets all the attention, access to court records is a very important part of the open-government laws.