The state Economic and Revenue Forecast Council agreed unanimously this afternoon to hire acting director Steve Lerch to serve as permanent leader of the Washington state agency that provides estimates of state government revenues to policy writers. The move comes after candidate interviews that appeared to violate the open meetings laws.
Lerch has served in the job since January, replacing Arun Raha, who went back to the private sector. It was the second time Lerch filled in on an interim basis.
A blog post last week shows that last week’s announcement by council chairman Ed Orcutt- which in effect announced Lerch was the council’s pick – might have resulted from an illegal meeting by council members. They had not announced their executive sessions, or closed-door meetings, to interview three candidates.
Orcutt, a Republican House member from Kalama, had put out this news release announcing Lerch as the new director, despite the lack of a legal meeting to vote on his hiring.
No word yet on how often, if at all, the council has had such closed-door meetings without proper public notice.
After taking a voice vote, the council went immediately into Lerch’s new briefing on the state of the economy. Those voting to offer Lerch a contract were Orcutt, House Ways and Means chairman Ross Hunter, Sen. Dino Rossi, state revenue director Brad Flaherty, and state budget director Marty Brown.