Bipartisanship gone bad: Anti-transparency bill is insulting

We often praise bipartisanship, but some of the worst abuses of process have broad agreement from both parties. You saw a clear example of that Friday, when a bill to largely exempt legislators from the Public Records Act passed out of both chambers in record time with basically no debate. It’s hard to put a […]

SEIU-backed bill is power politics at its most brazen – and it stinks

The bill Senate Democrats tried to run Wednesday night on behalf of the Service Employees International Union 775 (SEIU) – a “major political contributor to Washington Democrats” – is “an inappropriate sweetheart deal that is trying to be muscled through by the union and the governor at a late hour.” That straight-forward and blunt assessment […]

Lawmakers, admit it: There’s no good reason for your public records exemption

With limited exceptions, you’re allowed to see just about everything government does in this state. From state agencies to your local port commission, if government does it, you can request to see it. But there’s one big, glaring omission: The state Legislature. If you request records from a lawmaker, you’re likely to be denied. That’s […]

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 […]