Serving Franklin County, WA

Keep public records open to the public

Public records must remain open and accessible

A special report urges the mobilization of civic leaders, organizations, businesses and all residents to work together to save the state’s Public Records Act.

The report is available online for viewing and downloading at washcog.org.

State lawmakers and the courts continue to whittle away at the landmark public records law, which was adopted overwhelmingly with a citizens’ initiative in 1972. Since then, state legislators have passed more than 650 exceptions and have tried repeatedly to exempt themselves.

Residents argued in 1972, and we argue today, that nearly all records involving our governance belong to the people, not elected officials and employees entrusted to act on our behalf. Yet, the attacks on this act have ramped up considerably in the past decade.

The latest claim of “legislative privilege” by state lawmakers gives them the power to withhold essentially any document they choose, a privilege that flies in the face of the law’s intent.

The report explains how we got here and what we believe can and should happen next.

The report’s central conclusion is simple and direct: The people’s right to know is eroding, and this trend must be reversed.

WashCOG found these recurring problems regarding the Public Records Act:

1. The Legislature undermines the PRA.

2. Public officials and agencies obstruct requesters.

3. Agencies fail to properly maintain, organize and disclose records.

4. Open government training is inadequate and often wrong.

5. The Public Records Acts needs to hold officials accountable.

We must find the will and the way to preserve an open government for the good of our state and our democracy. We believe that is possible.

George Erb

Coalition for Open Government

 

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