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 […]

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 […]

Kelley returns with legal authority, not moral authority

On Monday, a bipartisan group of legislators released an impeachment resolution against indicted State Auditor Troy Kelley. Today, Kelley announced he was returning from his self-imposed leave of absence and resuming his duties as state auditor. Kelley is under indictment for 17 counts of money-laundering and theft related to his former business, a firm that […]

Troy Kelley case: “Innocent until proven guilty” isn’t the point

The saga of Troy Kelley’s troubled tenure as elected State Auditor – and it has been a saga – needs to draw to a close. Kelley can do it himself by resigning. Barring that, the state House should impeach him. With 17 criminal indictments hanging over him, Kelley has already taken a leave of absence […]

When consultants guide gov’t, their records are public

Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber resigned from office earlier this year amid allegations that his First Lady, Cylvia Hayes, concealed large sources of her income from the public. Hayes received well-paid contracts from environmental groups while at the same time Kitzhaber was allowing Hayes to help direct state environmental policy. Kitzhaber thought he could weather the […]

Pierce prosecutor’s public records case important to all citizens

The state Supreme Court heard a critical case last week that could set an important precedent regarding the ability of public officials to conceal public records by using private devices. Pierce County’s prosecutor, Mark Lindquist, received a records request for text messages sent and received on his personal cell phone regarding a county investigation. He […]