Letters to the Editor

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VIADUCT: State employees withhold records

Letter by Walter R. Jorgensen, Tumwater on Aug. 10, 2011 at 1:46 pm | 2 Comments »
August 10, 2011 2:42 pm

On the eve of an election in Seattle related to the deep-bore tunnel, state Department of Transportation (WSDOT) employees are once again withholding records. It happened before; it should be no surprise that it is happening again because the watchdog agency that should stop this behavior, the Executive Ethics Board (EEB), has signaled it will do nothing.

The last time WSDOT employees withheld records on the eve of a Seattle election, it took a superior court order to make the EEB conduct an investigation. The multibillion-dollar, deep-bore tunnel was a central issue then, too.

The ink was barely dry on the court order before the chief bureaucrat at the EEB stated to a reporter that, in effect, WSDOT employees had not violated the ethics law – a law that makes it an ethical violation for state employees to withhold public records that are required to be released by the state’s public records act.

Why wait for initiation, let alone completion, of an investigation before announcing there is no unethical behavior?

Nineteen months after I filed a complaint with the EEB, and six months after the superior court ordered the investigation, over the objection of the EEB, the investigation is still incomplete despite complaint footnotes that identify every email and document that tell the story of how WSDOT employees withheld the public records requested prior to the mayoral election in Seattle. The multibillion-dollar, deep-bore tunnel was very much a central issue.

Shame on WSDOT, and shame on the EEB.

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