Here’s a thought: Open up secret negotiations and legislators’ records

We don’t make a lot of exceptions to this one: If you’re a public official in this state, you’re subject to the Public Records Act. Citizens can request your work documents and schedule, your e-mails and briefing materials. It’s important for building trust in the system and holding officials accountable. The Public Records Act applies […]

We’ll have to force government to be more transparent

Open data – perhaps one of the nerdier and more obscure topics we discuss with some regularity on SGW – is clearly the future of government information. The clumsy, time-consuming ask-and-approve public records request system is the past. It’s a creaky old way of doing things that is due for an update. Proacatively publishing government […]

Dino Rossi returns to Olympia with a really smart idea

Sometimes a proposal in Olympia has such a force of logic behind it, and is so clearly the right thing to do, that you know it’s probably doomed. Sen. Dino Rossi is prime-sponsoring one such brilliant and necessary bill. The Legislature suffered a terrible loss when Sen. Andy Hill died, but Rossi has stepped into […]

In updating the PRA, public’s access is paramount

There hasn’t been much consensus in Olympia recently on how to update our state’s Public Records Act for the tech age. Because of that, the default has been to do nothing. On balance, that’s just fine. The law is tilted strongly in favor of the public’s right to know what public officials and employees are […]

Bright Light award: Lincoln County commissioners

Pursuing common sense in government can be surprisingly controversial. This year’s contretemps in rural Lincoln County is a prime example. County commissioners there took a stand for open negotiations, and were immediately hit with union blowback. If you polled taxpayers on whether they should be allowed to observe negotiations between government officials and employee unions, […]

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 […]

Law requiring state pay raises be “feasible financially” is toothless

Gov. Jay Inslee and his budget team spent much of 2016 negotiating pay raises with 38 unions representing state employees. The result was pay increases that average 6%, at a time when the state is scrambling for every penny to meet the McCleary order on K-12 funding. The timing of these negotiations between the governor […]

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 […]

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 […]

I-1501 sounds innocent, but it’s really about keeping workers in the dark

You have to give SEIU, one of the state’s largest public sector unions, one thing: it’s clever. SEIU has a talent for pushing self-interested ballot initiatives that sound like they’re noble and high-minded. Its latest, I-1501, is being pitched as an initiative about privacy and security. Supposedly the purpose of I-1501 is to “increase penalties […]