Inside Opinion

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

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Government operates best in the light of day

This editorial will appear in Wednesday’s print edition.

This week is Sunshine Week, when newspapers and civic watchdogs remind public officials that their paramount duty is to the citizens, not to their own self-interest. That duty is best carried out openly and transparently, not hidden behind closed doors and secret documents.

That reminder is badly needed, if action in the Legislature is any indication.

Proposed bills that would have made state and local government more transparent have already died. Now  the Washington Coalition for Open Government is just playing defense against several bills designed to obstruct the public’s right to know.

The bill with the most life in it is Read more »


Signing a petition is a public act

The more I think about it, the more it makes sense to treat initiative and referendum signatures as public records.

Aside from the principle that the public has a right to know who is trying to make law via the ballot in Washington, there’s another aspect: It’s a public act when a registered voter signs a petition put before him or her, in many cases in a public place by a stranger paid by a for-profit signature-gathering outfit who has no real interest at all in the issue involved.

Why then should a petition signer have any expectation of privacy concerning his public declaration that he or she would like to see the issue in question put to the voters? Again, signing is a public act, regardless of where it takes place.

I don’t condone any harassment of petition signers that might result from signatures being made public. But it seems to me that the ones most likely to draw fire are campaign contributors, and their contributions are already a matter of public record in Washington.

As for my earlier concerns about potential commercial use of signature lists, I add here a comment from Toby Nixon, the former GOP state legislator who heads the Washington Coalition for Open Government:

Read more »