National Freedom of Information Coalition
Protecting Your Right to Open Government

Housing agency settles challenge to ‘sham entity’

From Seattle Times:  The King County Housing Authority says it got bad legal advice when it held unannounced meetings of a nonprofit it formed in 2009.

The housing authority set up the nonprofit, Moving King County Residents Forward, as a separate organization to get a better deal on federal housing subsidies for 22 properties around King County.


The problem emerged when a resident happened upon an unannounced meeting of Moving King County Residents Forward at the housing authority offices in Tukwila. The nonprofit had the same board, staff and address as the King County Housing Authority, but it was behaving as a private entity instead of a public one.

The resident, Cindy Ference, of Shoreline, sued. This month, she reached a settlement with the housing authority and Moving King County Residents Forward, formalizing the organization’s promise to make its meetings, minutes and documents public and transparent.

The National Freedom of Information Coalition in Columbia, Mo., which helped fund Ference’s lawsuit, said the nonprofit was essentially a “sham entity.”

“Setting up a supposedly private entity to do the public’s business in secret is a shameful practice that should not be tolerated by the public or the courts,” said Ken Bunting, the executive director of the organization.


Ference settled the open-meetings portion of her lawsuit, but she is still in litigation over public records she said the housing authority wouldn’t give her.

Get the rest from the Times here, and see the press release about the settlement here.