D.C. Major Gray appoints open gov advisory group. But will it last?

Washington D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray appointed a 15-member advisory group Wednesday, one of several initiatives to roll out the open government directive he promulgated in July.

The Open Government Advisory Group is mostly composed of members of the administration, like Office of Open Government director Traci Hughes, Office of the Chief Technology Officer CTO Rob Mancini and Ayesha Abbasi from the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development.

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Opinion: The BLM fails to provide public records

When High Country News began using the Freedom of Information Act to gather official reports of threats against federal employees in the West, we didn't expect that the main obstacle would arise in one federal agency's headquarters.

Our intention was positive: By examining and summarizing the incidents, we hoped to ease tensions and encourage more respect for the federal employees as they go about their duties in the field.

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Tacoma Port commission approves open meetings defense costs

The Port of Tacoma could pay up to $50,000 to defend its commission members against a lawsuit alleging they violated the state's Open Meetings Act by holding confidential meetings with the Port of Seattle commissioners over a planned operations alliance.

The commission unanimously approved last week an authorization for the port to pay legal fees of up to $50,000 to defend commission members in a lawsuit brought by Olympia open government advocate Arthur West. Any costs beyond $50,000 will be paid by the port's legal liability insurance carrier.

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Jayne: Shooting the breeze with Washington state’s attorney general

I should have been a lawyer. It's not that I have the smarts or the diligence. It's not that journalism isn't rewarding and challenging. It's just that, during my childhood, I couldn't count how many times my argumentative nature led somebody to suggest that I should become a lawyer. The irony is that my 11-year-old has inherited that nature – which is both a blessing and curse for his parents – and often is told the same thing. Something about the "sins of the father," I'm guessing.

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Court rules public business on prosecutor’s private phone is still public

Call records and text messages from Pierce County (WA) Prosecutor Mark Lindquist’s personal mobile phone aren’t private if they’re related to public business.

The idea drives a unanimous ruling issued Tuesday by the Washington State Court of Appeals. “That such government-business-related text messages were contained on a personal cellular phone is irrelevant,” states the ruling, authored by Judge J. Robin Hunt.

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A four-minute primer on open government

Maybe the wisest thing state lawmakers did this year was require that Washington officialdom learn some fundamentals about open government.

All elected policymakers and records officers must now get formal training on the state’s Public Records Act and Open Public Meetings Act within 90 days of taking office. They also have to take a refresher every four years.

Here’s a quick primer from an open-government point of view:

• If a member of the public asks for a public record, turn it over. The public owns it, not your agency. Really.

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Former Kirkland Reporter editor wins Key award from Washington Coalition for Open Government

Former Kirkland Reporter editor Carrie Rodriguez received the Washington Coalition for Open Government’s Key Award for winning disclosure of public information that Federal Way city officials had wrongly withheld. Rodriguez is currently the editor of the Federal Way Mirror.

Coalition President and Kirkland City Council member Toby Nixon presented the award to Rodriquez on April 24.

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Editorial: Open government training for elected officials should save money

When folks are elected to public office — from local school boards to city councils to county commissions — many have little to no experience with state law regarding public access to government information.

#When the citizens (and media) seek information inadvertent mistakes are too often made because some elected officials simply don’t understand the who, what, where, when, why and how of the state’s open government laws.

#And, as a result, it costs taxpayers a lot to settle lawsuits.

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Editorial: Washington State House of Reps take strong action for open access

The state House of Representatives took strong, progressive action last week on two bills that improve citizen access to public information. Now they’re on to the Senate, where they deserve passage and enactment.

House Bill 2015 would require that meeting agendas be posted online by public agencies at least 24 hours before a meeting. It passed the House by a vote of 85-13. Rep. Brad Hawkins (R-Wenatchee) voted in favor of the bill; Rep. Cary Condotta (R-East Wenatchee) voted no. Both represent the 12th District, including the Methow Valley.

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