Inside Opinion

What's on the minds of Tacoma News Tribune editorial writers

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Tag: Public Records Act

Nov.
8th

Price of delay in releasing public records: $525,001

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

Failing to disclose public records can get expensive, as the state keeps finding out.

The Department of Social and Health Services recently agreed to pay $525,001 to three girls who’d been abused for years by their state-licensed foster father, who was convicted of sex crimes two years ago and sentenced to four years in prison. The money wasn’t compensation for the abuse; it was for the agency’s violations of the state’s Public Records Act.

Their girls’ attorneys had sued DSHS for documents related to their $45 million claim for damages. The agency reportedly turned over more than 5,300 records, but the lawyers suspected some were being withheld. After they filed another lawsuit, 203 more turned up.
Read more »

Oct.
21st

Public records law should cover judges

There’s just no polite way to put this: The state Supreme Court blew it.

In a 7-2 ruling last week, the court essentially decided that judicial administrative records are exempt from the state Public Records Act. The rationale: The courts aren’t “agencies” of government, or at least they’re not clearly defined as such in the act.

The case was City of Federal Way vs. Koenig, in which the city refused to release correspondence to and from embattled Municipal Court Judge Michael Morgan. In deciding against the records request, the Supreme Court is saying that the Municipal Court is not an agency of the City of Federal Way. Read more »