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Posts Tagged ‘Open Public Meetings Act’

Responding to recent council attention on whether the state’s open government laws apply to private email activity by council as well as to the actions of members of city committees and commissions, Interim city attorney Jim Haney made a presentation last night to the full council on the Open Public Meetings Act (OPMA).

Haney has said he will talk about the Public Records Act (PRA) at a meeting at the end of August. The OPMA and the PRA are separate, but related, state statutes. The OPMA requires that government business be conducted in public, and sets forth standards and requirements for public meetings, as well as fines for officials who do not comply.

The PRA provides that most records created or used in the conduct of government are public records and must be produced to any member of the public who asks.

In recent weeks, several members of the public–including me–have made requests under the PRA for public documents, which perhaps has drawn attention to some questionable open government practices by city officials and committee members.

Utility Advisory Committee chair Arlene Buetow, for example, has taken the position the the UAC is not subject to the OPMA. In an email to council member Sarah Blossom dated May 22, 2013, Buetow wrote, “The UAC was previously told we were not subject to the open public meeting act based on the following logic”, and attached a 1991 opinion from the Washington Attorney General’s office. According to Attorney General Open Government Ombudsman Tim Ford, the courts have expanded the reach of the OPMA in the twenty years since that opinion was issued. (more…)

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