Seattle Journalist: Subpoena Endangers Press

A pair of recent events have put journalists covering protests at the center of investigations by law enforcement and the Department of Homeland Security. First, in Seattle, journalists from The Seattle Times and four local TV stations went to court to prevent the city’s police department from viewing their unpublished photos and videos. Police say…

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Editorial: Washington Judge’s order imperils journalistic independence

A King County judge’s order that The Seattle Times and other media must turn over unpublished content to the police is a blow to independent journalism. The order imperils journalists documenting this summer’s historic protests and sends the wrong message about the media as a check on government power. Journalists’ unique role and responsibility is…

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Washington Governor Inslee relaxes open government laws

To further facilitate the social distancing and stay-at-home orders put in place in the past two weeks, Gov. Jay Inslee suspended several parts of the state’s government transparency laws this week. The order, which is in effect until April 24, temporarily waives certain requirements of Washington’s Open Public Meeting and Public Records acts. Public meetings…

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The Stranger Editorial: Why We Are Calling for an Audit of Private E-mail Use at the City (of Seattle)

City employees in the mayor’s office and possibly the City Council appear to be conducting government business on private e-mail accounts and failing to disclose these communications through public records requests, so we’re doing something about it. Earlier this month we signed onto a letter calling for an audit examining the use of private e-mails…

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Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan’s top staffers used private email accounts to talk head-tax strategy

Four of Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan’s staffers used private email accounts when planning with political consultants what to do immediately after the City Council reversed course on a controversial business head tax to raise money for housing and homelessness services, according to records released Friday to The Seattle Times. The June 11 messages — shared via Gmail…

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Mill Creek (WA) manager seeks $1 million in damages from city

“The City Attorney (Scott Missall) and Mayor Pro Tem (Brian Holtzclaw) told Mrs. Polizzotto that the council asked them to convey to Mrs. Polizzotto that it was unanimous in its position that it did not want Mrs. Polizzotto to leave city employment, and further conveyed that she had the support of the entire council.” By…

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Spokane-area Reps. Shea, Volz on group studying open records for Washington Legislature

Two Spokane-area representatives were named to a group trying to develop rules for records the Legislature long believed could be kept private but a judge has ruled should be open to the public. Reps. Matt Shea, of Spokane Valley, and Mike Volz, of Spokane, are the House Republican Caucus choices to sit on a Public…

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Jefferson County, WA commissioners approve $150,000 lawsuit settlement over open records

The Jefferson County Commissioners have approved a $150,000 settlement after a roughly four-year legal battle over the county’s internet access logs.

According to a statement from County Administrator Philip Morley, the settlement was negotiated between Jefferson County officials and Michael Belenski, who sued the county in 2012 after he was denied two public records requests.

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WA: Auditor’s public disclosure report, a possible tool for revising state law, draws praise and skepticism

Every year, state lawmakers propose revisions to the state Public Records Act, a law passed by initiative in 1972 and amended many times since.

Every year, open-records advocates battle those proposed revisions, with varying degrees of success.

In 2017, the eternal struggle will play out again during the legislative session, but revision-minded lawmakers will have a new weapon to wield: a survey by the Washington state auditor measuring the costs and effects of records requests on state and local governments.

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