National Freedom of Information Coalition
Protecting Your Right to Open Government

Park district votes twice to comply with open meetings law

In its last meeting, the Vashon Park District (WA) voted on a severance agreement for a former employee who had worked for the district for several years. It was the second time the commissioners voted on the agreement because they first voted in a closed executive session, which is prohibited by state law.

Park district Executive Director Elaine Ott said she requested the second vote on July 22 after she learned at a recent workshop that the previous vote, in March, should have been taken in public. Ott noted that at the time she believed the issue was supposed to be acted on privately. “I will admit I was surprised,” she said. “I had thought that personnel and legal issues were sacrosanct.”

Nancy Krier, the assistant attorney general for open government, said that Washington’s Open Public Meetings Act (OPMA) allows for discussion of those and other matters in private executive sessions, but final actions, such as votes, must be taken publicly. If a board makes an error, there are specific steps it can take to remedy it, she noted. Continue>>>