Important case strikes a blow against government secrecy

The people have a right to know what government is doing in their name and how it spends their money. Like other rights, it’s one that must frequently be asserted or it begins to erode. Your right to view government records is inconvenient for public officials when they would prefer to keep their work in […]

Typical EPA overreach will mean higher water bills for you

The Environmental Protection Agency has decreed that Washington’s new stringent water quality standards aren’t stringent enough. The federal agency rejected significant portions of our state’s rule, calling instead for levels of water purity that can’t be achieved currently. It’s yet another example of federal regulatory overreach into the states. The EPA is rejecting valid state-driven […]

Temptation to evade public disclosure is always there

As a taxpayer and a citizen, you have a right to know what public officials and government employees are doing with their work time and your money. Our public records laws help ensure that right. But what is to prevent officials from evading those laws? Unfortunately the answer is, not much. It’s not exactly an […]

Billions added to Washington water bills, but what did we buy for it?

The state Dept. of Ecology is moving ahead with new water quality standards, based in part on the convoluted “fish consumption rate” that we’ve discussed on SGW before. It’s a complicated topic, so first, a compliment. The Skagit Valley Herald’s recent coverage of this issue was highly readable, organized, and fact-based. It’s the opposite of […]

Records law is about your right to know how officials use your money and authority

Open government isn’t an exciting topic, but it’s a vital one. It comes down to this: Do you have the right to know how government officials spend their time, who they meet with, what information they base their decisions on, who they communicate with, and how they spend your money? Or does government get to […]

EPA may be trying to avoid pointing out the downsides of corn ethanol

One of the problems with the regulatory state – one of the myriad reasons so many are worried about its growth – is the many opportunities for chicanery. An executive branch, or just agency employees with their own agenda, can tip the scales in favor of a preferred outcome, with little debate or accountability. To many, […]

Many licensing rules exist only to block competition and raise prices

Long-overdue attention is finally being paid to work rules and occupational licensing schemes that serve little purpose beyond being a barrier. Here is a great example of those hard-to-justify rules from Lens: “Jerry Schmidt files horse teeth at his farm near Port Angeles, Washington for a fraction of a veterinarian’s cost. After a formal complaint […]

What we need in our next Commissioner of Public Lands

The political action in Washington this year is in our state races. Five of the nine state executive offices are open, with no incumbent running: Lieutenant Governor, Treasurer, Auditor, Commissioner of Public Lands, and Superintendent of Public Instruction. We’re going to have a very different executive lineup next year. One of those positions, the Commissioner […]

McKenna on KIRO: Criminal charges in Flint water scandal

KIRO 97.3 host Dave Ross asked Rob about the latest in the Flint water scandal, with Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette filing charges against one local and two state employees for evidence tampering and other charges. Rob: “Sometimes people exercise really bad judgment. Why did employees at the state Department of Corrections in the I.T. department, you […]

On public’s right to know, first do no harm

It may be veto season, but one of the most controversial bills in Olympia this year didn’t make it that far. SSHB 2576, an update to the state’s public records law, is in the House “x-file,” meaning it’s dead for this year. That’s a good thing. The bill no doubt started from good intentions but […]