October 14, 2009
Gregoire Unapologetically Flips Off the Public

In Washington State we have a public records law that assumes that, unless there's a really good reason not to, the people have a right to documents created and owned by the government, because those things belong to the public, and they have a right to know what is going on.

So whenever the government refuses to release documents, or heavily redacts them, I look for a really good reason why ... and if I can't find one, it makes me angry. It's literally telling the public it does not have a right to know.

So it is with Governor Gregoire's response to a request for documents about the judicial appointment process. At least this time she didn't invent an illegal excuse for not releasing the documents, but this is almost as bad. An exemption for public employment applications does not rationally cover an appointment to a vacated elected office, and if attorney-client privilege covers it all, then it can cover everything the governor does.

She should just reply, "I don't want to give it to you, and I don't have or need an excuse" and at least be honest about it.

Cross-posted on <pudge/*>.

Posted by pudge at October 14, 2009 01:22 PM | Email This
Comments
1. double standard, bush did this all the time.

Posted by: meanie on October 14, 2009 01:46 PM
2. Hey meanie, glad to see that you point out the similarities between Bush and Gregoire, guess two wrongs make a right, right, or left?
Actually after working for government for too many years, power in the hands of politicians is misused and Chris is no exception. Being a lawyer does not help either. She probably would ask to define "is" as well as other notable folks we had in power

Posted by: shorty on October 14, 2009 01:53 PM
3. Bush wasn't the governor of Washington state. Federal laws are different than state. Also, most of his secrecy was relating to national security, which is a completely seperate issue from the judicial appointment process.

Posted by: Timothy on October 14, 2009 01:55 PM
4. meanie: "double standard" directly implies I didn't hold Bush to the same standards whenever possible ... this is completely untrue, and it only shows YOU to be the one with the problem, trying to come up with irrational excuses to deflect criticism from Queen Christine.

I did criticize the Bush administration for not only illegal redactions like Gregoire's, but also legal-but-unnecessary ones, because, as Timothy points out, the federal government actually does have a powerful exemption policy that the state doesn't have; I often said that Bush overused it, even if it was legal. And where it wasn't legal, I criticized Bush for it.

There's no double standard here. But even if there were, it would not in any way justify Gregoire's acts.

Posted by: pudge on October 14, 2009 02:10 PM
5. Get off the blame Bush for everything bandwagon already.

It is like getting busted for robbery and telling the judge it is OK because your neighbor was not prosecuted for the same crime.

Everyone is responsible for their OWN actions. There are no special rights granted to people because of party affiliation. Some of us still believe that we are all equal under the law.

Posted by: Vince on October 14, 2009 02:32 PM
6. This is the one reason why this website has been so successful in a truly meaningful and substantive way -- the push for open records. I disagree with a lot of things pudge posts, but I hope you keep this up.

Seriously, I urge you, pudge, any way you can: file a lawsuit (standing might be an issue). Because if history is any judge, government WILL fight the lawsuit, they WILL lose and you WILL be awarded the punitive damages. That's what makes Stefan such a hero.

Politicians get away with 100% of the secrecy we let them get away with. When we fight it, their record is not nearly as good. :)

Posted by: AD on October 14, 2009 02:34 PM
7. AD: the EFF would be the ones to push this, not me. They filed the request, they have the lawyers, they know the players ... it won't be me.

Posted by: pudge on October 14, 2009 02:35 PM
8. Well, as long as someone is doing it, we're good to go. :)

It's sad, though, that on matters public disclosure, Eyman and the anti-R71 folks are fighting it in the courts. As conservatives, we believe that sunshine is the best disinfectant. McKenna is right: the identity of those who put measures on the ballot should not be kept secret.

Posted by: AD on October 14, 2009 04:14 PM
9. "It's sad, though, that on matters public disclosure, Eyman and the anti-R71 folks are fighting it in the courts."

AD,

Perhaps it's because anyone whose name is released to the public on a matter like this will be targeted for harassment by the gay community. Look what happened in California.

Posted by: Calvin A on October 14, 2009 04:41 PM
10. Calvin A:

What happened in CA should never have been allowed in a civil society. Those thugs who went after petition signers should have been prosecuted.

The left however doesn't want civil society. They want everybody who disagrees with them to shut up. We don't need to look at Venezuela as an example. We have the same folks using the same tactics here in America.

Posted by: deadwood on October 14, 2009 05:09 PM
11. AD: I don't know anything about Eyman and disclosure, but the R-71 thing ... they have a good point. I have come out saying that the names should not be withheld, but it's not like they don't have a real concern, and certainly the right of people to speak up in favor of R-71 on the ballot, without serious fear of physical attack on person or property, is more important than the right of the public to know who it is that's speaking up.

Ideally, the criminals who are making such threats would be locked up right away and we could release the names.

Posted by: pudge on October 14, 2009 05:12 PM
12. You're gonna think I'm a troll - but you'll be wrong. I am a die hard conservative. I also work for the state. Your tax dollars are spent FAR TOO often on these ridiculous requests. I had to have a staff member spend several hours pulling documents on a recruitment - because due to Public Disclosure I can't just say "It's not disclosable" so, 300 documents later - the info was delivered to the appropriate office - where the entire contents were blacked out - because really, it is not in the tax payers best interest to publicize interview questions or answers or reference responses or lists of applicants... it's like "zero tolerance" laws - somebody should start using a little common sense!!!

Posted by: Julie on October 14, 2009 07:49 PM
13. Julie:

Then have better systems.

I agree with you that the current system is a waste of time and money: all of the documents should ALREADY be available online to anyone who wants them.

Posted by: pudge on October 14, 2009 08:55 PM
14. I don't have a problem with names being released, I have a problem with addresses and phone numbers being released. so if they went through and blacked out all addresses and phone numbers on the referendum or petitions then releasing it would be ok.

Posted by: Dan Grass on October 14, 2009 09:14 PM
15. Yes, phone numbers shouldn't be released, but addresses don't matter. Names and addresses for voters can already easily be obtained from the county auditor or elections office (often for less than a dollar, the cost of the CD they put it on, if I recall). Even if they only released names and zip codes, it could be matched up using the voter roll database.

The main argument against disclosure seems to be "the signers will be harrassed." If signing the petition results in harrassment (which is already illegal in any case) then surely being on the list of donors would be worse. Why isn't anyone calling on the PDC to keep all records of donations against 71 secret? Do we really want to go down this road of expanding government secrecy? In Washington of all states?

Posted by: AD on October 15, 2009 05:15 AM
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