Inside Opinion

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Tag: Open Records Act


Brian Sonntag leaves big shoes to fill as state auditor

Brian Sonntag

This editorial will appear in Tuesday’s print edition.

State Auditor Brian Sonntag is a big guy, but that’s not the only reason his successor has his work cut out for him if he hopes to fill his shoes.

A Democrat from Pierce County, Sonntag has been at least as popular among Republicans because of the nonpartisan way he’s run his office the last 20 years and his laser-like focus on government accountability.
Elected to statewide office in 1992 after serving as Pierce County’s auditor, he easily won re-election four times. His departure next week – to become chief financial officer at the Tacoma Rescue Mission – is being met widely with regret, a testament to his evenhandedness in the job.

If anyone’s not sorry to see him go, it’s those state and local officials who have been stung by his office’s audits or who take issue with how much more accountable and accessible he feels they should be to the public.
He has chided state lawmakers, for instance, for not being as open in their proceedings as local officials are required to be, for not giving the public enough time to comment on legislation and for introducing title-only bills – blank legislation whose details can be filled in later. These are all areas that his successor, Troy Kelley, should continue to press. Read more »


State’s Sunshine Committee needs governor’s attention

This editorial will appear in Friday’s print edition.

Gov. Chris Gregoire has a lot on her plate. There’s the looming budget hole to be addressed, and a Legislature shamefully inclined to let her deal with it by herself. Then there’s that possible Obama administration nomination for solicitor general that she’s apparently intent on fending off.

Still, she should take some time out of that busy schedule and make four appointments that are her responsibility: to the state’s Public Records Exemption Accountability Committee, better known as the Sunshine Committee.

That committee was created in 2007 to annually review exemptions to the Public Disclosure Act, which requires that records be made available to the public and media. When voters approved the act in 1972, there were only 10 exemptions.

That list has exploded to more than 350, and it’s the Sunshine Committee’s duty to study them and recommend whether to repeal, amend or retain them. Read more »