Washington needs an open government sledgehammer

Kate Riley, a Seattle Times columnist, calls this morning for drastic action to fix the serious problems that have emerged with the state of Washington’s access to open government just in the last few months.

When Ms. Riley says drastic action, what she means is a citizen initiative.

The problems Ms. Riley mentions are:

  • There are now 300 exemptions to the state’s original open access law.
  • Gov. Christine Gregoire appointed an attorney to head the state’s Sunshine Committee who has regularly fought against disclosure.
  • The state Supreme Court has upheld a generous interpretation of attorney-client privilege for municipal communications, creating a rash of denials citing “attorney-client privilege” for basic documents.
  • A bill to prevent state agencies from suing people for the mortal sin of asking for public documents died in committeee.
  • A bill died in committee that would have required municipalities to tape record closed meetings, so a judge could review them for violations.
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