Have You Exceeded Your Right To Information?Permalink +
Sat, Feb 01, 2014, 12:35 am // Wendy Harris
Did you know that we could “exceed our rights to information” by making too many public record requests, or making a request that was too broad, or making a request with the improper motive? According to an editorial of unidentified origin, reprinted in the Northwest Opinion Column of The Bellingham Herald, “there are some people—including a few right here in our community—who have crossed the line with their information requests.” (No need to name these people…. Obviously, you know who you are.) http://www.bellinghamherald.com/2014/01/28/3445095/our-voice-consider-criminal-charges.html; January 28, 2014.
Using a tactic straight from the War On Terror playbook, we are told that these unnamed neighbors threaten our livelihood, drain public dollars, create untenable government workloads and risk a repressive backlash by government that would affect everyone. While we are advised of this threat, we are not provided any details regarding who, when, what or where. Apparently, these are not important.
Instead, the editorial offers a modest proposal. We should amend the Washington Public Record Act to allow the potential for criminal prosecution in connection with filing a public record request. After all, the “entities victimized by abusers of the system” need protection. Clearly, the government needs to be protected from its citizens. We will only truly be free when public record request abusers are imprisoned.
This dangerous piece of propaganda, entitled “Our Voice: Consider criminal charges to keep abusers from threatening access to open records” is built entirely on innuendo and accusation. It lacks a single verifiable fact or evidence. It attempts to manipulate people’s emotion, primarily fear, so that we will voluntarily forfeit our due process rights, and accept imprisonment as an appropriate consequence for challenging the government. Appealing to primitive instincts is an effective means of manipulating people into acting against their own best interests.
Let us acknowledge the reality. Few people would file public record requests if this right was encumbered by a threat of imprisonment. But that is the true intention of the editorial proposal… to prevent people from filing public record requests. The goal of the Washington Public Records Act, passed pursuant to the people’s initiative, is to encourage and protect public access to government information, and introducing the criminal justice system into this process undermines that goal. The results would be extremely oppressive.
Currently, a citizen’s motivation in filing a public record request is not relevant. The relevant inquiry is, and should remain, whether or not the information requested is a public record. If we amend the law and question motives, we are introducing the same social/economic justice problems that plague our criminal system. Criminal sanctions will disproportionably affect those without money and power. Do you think that a corporate attorney would ever be found guilty of filing an abusive record request? How about a community activist? How about someone with mental illness who needs help?
Remedies for abuse exist under current law, but never seem to get mentioned by those seeking to restrict our right to public information. Court sanctions can be imposed for frivolous filings, overly broad record or vague requests can be denied, and there are numerous exemptions built into the law. The government is also allowed a reasonable time to respond. And there are numerous ways that a local government can mince words, split hairs, withhold records and otherwise makes the record request process a protracted, difficult, exhausting and unpleasant experience.
I support the current law, which states that “free and open examination of public records is in the public interest, even though such examination may cause inconvenience or embarrassment to public officials or others.” There have always been attempts to restrict the public’s right to public records, but suggesting criminal prosecution is a frightening amplification of these attacks.
If you agree, please think about making a donation to the Washington Coalition of Open Government. These good people fight daily against restrictions on open and accountable government. The chilling Northwest Opinion editorial should convince you of the need for their efforts. http://www.washingtoncog.org/join.php
Related Links:-> Washington Coalition of Open Government
Sat, Feb 01, 2014, 12:35 am // Wendy HarrisFiling a public record request could land a citizen in jail under a proposal reflected in a Herald opinion article.
2 comments; last on Feb 03, 2014
Sun, Jan 19, 2014, 8:39 pm // John ServaisSuper Bowl ... Weed Bowl ... This bud's for you ... Bong Bowl ... Marijuana Bowl ... whatever. It is on!
1 comments; last on Jan 20, 2014
Fri, Dec 27, 2013, 4:00 am // Guest writerGuest writer Barbara Perry writes about Bellingham Parks refusal to allow motorized wheel chairs to recharge at public electrical outlets.
6 comments; last on Jan 03, 2014
Thu, Dec 05, 2013, 5:00 am // Dick ConoboyThe post "riot" conversation is terribly lacking in several areas. We must expand the discussion or risk learning little from the experience.
3 comments; last on Dec 15, 2013
Sat, Sep 28, 2013, 2:20 pm // John ServaisAs the right wing radicals seek to shut down our national government this week, we need to push back with common sense.
8 comments; last on Oct 01, 2013
Wed, Aug 14, 2013, 11:24 am // John ServaisThe Feds gag an Email service owner - so he cannot even tell us why he is gagged.
2 comments; last on Aug 15, 2013
Sun, Jul 14, 2013, 10:25 am // John ServaisThe explosion of hate and racist rhetoric is the saddest aspect of the verdict. The evidence was complicated and the verdict difficult to make.
2 comments; last on Jul 16, 2013
Mon, Jun 10, 2013, 12:53 pm // John ServaisEdward Snowden is a very courageous patriot, in the opinion of the publisher of NWCitizen.
3 comments; last on Jun 14, 2013
Fri, May 31, 2013, 4:43 pm // John ServaisLuba Pekisheva has been given a confusing run around in our Whatcom County courts for over three years. Judges, prosecutors and clerks have all participated.
Mon, Sep 17, 2012, 9:45 am // John ServaisPrecedent is plentiful of the Feds censoring free speech and videos - but double standard is protecting anti-Islam film.
6 comments; last on Sep 20, 2012
Sun, Aug 19, 2012, 10:09 pm // John ServaisWikileaks founder spoke from a safe open window to the people of the world. His words are important to the future of democracy and freedoms.
4 comments; last on Aug 21, 2012
Fri, Jul 20, 2012, 4:44 pm // Riley SweeneyRiley gathers quotes, video footage and pictures from the recent tea party forum
1 comments; last on Jul 20, 2012
Wed, Jul 04, 2012, 10:42 am // Riley SweeneyRiley interviews judicial candidates, reviews campaign tactics, and discusses fireworks
Thu, Jan 19, 2012, 1:17 am // John ServaisNWCitizen.com went black for Wednesday, Jan 18, 2012, as a protest against proposed legislation, SOPA and PIPA. Here is what was posted.
1 comments; last on Jan 19, 2012
Sun, Jan 01, 2012, 1:05 am // John ServaisA third note on Jan 1 about the Herald photos with links. And previous thoughts on the trivia around the militarized evictions.
9 comments; last on Jan 10, 2012
Fri, Dec 30, 2011, 12:59 pm // Wendy HarrisDecide for yourself if this blog comment, posted under my own name, should have been flagged and removed from the Bellingham Herald Online Edition.
1 comments; last on Dec 31, 2011
Tue, Dec 27, 2011, 12:55 pm // Riley SweeneyRiley questions Pike's timing, and Occupy's choice of tactics
2 comments; last on Dec 28, 2011
Tue, Dec 06, 2011, 12:12 pm // Riley SweeneyRiley attends a public meeting on equality
Mon, Nov 21, 2011, 1:00 am // Guest writerWith budget woes, Bellingham passes on safety in favor of cash. Starting in 2008, Bellingham officials were coached by ATS on how to get Red Light cameras through…
26 comments; last on Nov 30, 2011
Sat, Nov 05, 2011, 5:14 am // Riley SweeneyRemember, remember the fifth of November . . .
Sat, Oct 29, 2011, 2:00 am // John ServaisSergeant Shamar Thomas talks sense to the NY police on the streets after they beat peaceful demonstrators - and they are zombies. Nobody home. Mindless cops.
10 comments; last on Nov 04, 2011
Thu, Oct 20, 2011, 6:57 am // Riley SweeneyRiley makes a pitch for Steve Harris as your next sheriff
3 comments; last on Oct 26, 2011
Wed, Oct 19, 2011, 7:20 am // Riley SweeneyRiley continues his examination of Ericksen's anti-working people values
1 comments; last on Oct 19, 2011
Sat, Oct 08, 2011, 2:29 pm // Riley SweeneyRiley reports on the Occupy Bellingham Rally
11 comments; last on Oct 13, 2011
Sun, Sep 25, 2011, 11:11 am // John ServaisWall Street protests have been ongoing for over a week - but U.S. corporate news media have been covering them up.
1 comments; last on Sep 26, 2011
Tue, Sep 06, 2011, 5:54 pm // John ServaisCity voters can "advise" through the ballot measure this fall. Up to city council if it stays on ballot.
1 comments; last on Sep 06, 2011
Mon, Sep 05, 2011, 8:19 am // Riley SweeneyRiley writes for the local Dems about Labor Day
3 comments; last on Sep 07, 2011
Mon, Aug 22, 2011, 2:37 pm // Riley SweeneyRiley overhears Doug Ericksen discuss his plans
10 comments; last on Sep 01, 2011
Mon, Mar 14, 2011, 1:34 pm // Riley SweeneyAt the mid-session townhall meeting, Doug Ericksen would rather threaten the press than have his words recorded
17 comments; last on Mar 29, 2011
Mon, Feb 21, 2011, 5:17 am // Riley SweeneyRiley Sweeney talks about why it is time for legalization of hemp
1 comments; last on Mar 29, 2011
Sun, Jan 09, 2011, 11:56 am // John ServaisSarah Palin's violence-laced rhetoric shares the blame for the Arizona massacre.
18 comments; last on Jan 12, 2011
Wed, Dec 01, 2010, 8:59 pm // John ServaisUpdated Dec 3. I support WikiLeaks and their release of government documents so citizens can vote intelligently.
12 comments; last on Dec 07, 2010
Sat, Nov 27, 2010, 7:19 pm // John ServaisTSA puts young mother with a bag of breast milk through an illegal and unbelievable process.
5 comments; last on Nov 29, 2010
Mon, May 03, 2010, 5:36 am // Riley SweeneyIs the referendum/initiative process about being a citizen legislator, or more like voting to put something on the ballot?
Mon, Feb 01, 2010, 1:55 pm // John ServaisThe Olympic games are disruptive to civil rights wherever they are held. This is proving true again in Vancouver.
1 comments; last on Feb 04, 2010
Mon, Jan 18, 2010, 6:00 am // Kamalla Rose KaurProfiles WWU's College of Ethnic Studies and racism during the 60s
2 comments; last on Jan 19, 2010
Thu, Dec 24, 2009, 9:21 pm // Kamalla Rose KaurHoliday Album 2009 - mixing conversations and prose, Charles Dickens quotes, with history provided by the National Museum of Women's History.
1. "I will honour Christmas in my heart,
2 comments; last on Dec 26, 2009
Wed, Dec 23, 2009, 8:00 am // Ham HayesI recently heard Nicholas Kristof speak on the oppression of women and girls around the world. He and his wife, Sheryl WuDunn, have just published a brilliant book,…
Fri, Nov 20, 2009, 10:06 am // Paul deArmondDid you every wonder what was really going on inside the racist right?
Usually caricatured by stereotypes of bed-sheeted Klansmen and goose-stepping neo-Nazis, the racist right continu
8 comments; last on Dec 04, 2009
Mon, Sep 21, 2009, 1:32 pm // Guest writerEditor's Note: We received this Letter to the Editor in response to Kamalla Rose Kaur's earlier story, 3 comments; last on Oct 24, 2009
Thu, Feb 12, 2009, 7:36 pm // Larry HorowitzHave you ever wondered how truly livable cities become undesirable hell holes? Do the people who run these highly attractive areas into the ground merely fail to comprehend…
2 comments; last on Feb 16, 2009
Wed, Feb 04, 2009, 11:54 am // Larry HorowitzPlease don’t misunderstand. I’m not claiming that the Fairhaven Highlands environmental impact statement (EIS) does not have the potential to be meaningful. However, in its present form,
9 comments; last on Feb 05, 2009
Tue, Feb 03, 2009, 12:05 am // Larry HorowitzI really pity Horizon Bank’s CEO Rich Jacobson. His predecessor, Laury Evans, sure left him a bad hand to play. Not only is Mr. Jacobson faced with the…
2 comments; last on Mar 02, 2009
Sat, Jan 31, 2009, 5:22 pm // Larry HorowitzWhen Mayor Pike ran for office, he convinced me and thousands of others that he was truly concerned about the issues that impact those who call Bellingham home.…
12 comments; last on Feb 04, 2009
Thu, Oct 09, 2008, 1:57 pm // John ServaisOn Tuesday in court, County prosecutor David McEachran lost big time in his attempted prosecution of Jeffrey Gargaro for supposedly making a felony threat on the Bellingham Herald…
2 comments; last on Oct 17, 2008
Sun, Sep 28, 2008, 1:32 am // John ServaisSep 30 addition - see bottom of article for interesting additional information about a Herald reporter relevant to this prosecution.
Dave McEachran's prosecution of Jeffrey Ga
3 comments; last on Oct 01, 2008
Sat, Sep 20, 2008, 3:43 pm // John ServaisDave McEachran, our Whatcom County Prosecuting Attorney, seems to have a problem with citizen freedoms. He is now prosecuting a nice normal citizen for some poorly worded blog…
4 comments; last on Mar 29, 2011
Sat, Aug 16, 2008, 12:08 pm // Larry HorowitzThanks to all who responded to my last column - “Is anybody out there?” - both on the Northwest Citizen website and personally by email. From you, I…
5 comments; last on Aug 18, 2008
Fri, Aug 15, 2008, 8:45 am // Larry HorowitzHere’s a confession. I hate writing columns for this blog. They take time away from other things I’d rather be doing, and they certainly don’t engender any new…
13 comments; last on Aug 19, 2008
Wed, Jul 04, 2007, 5:33 pm // Site ManagementHappy Independence Day. To all people residing in the United States, may you have a fun day and may you benefit from the principles of freedom, justice and…
Sun, May 14, 2006, 7:11 pm // Site ManagementAl Gore on Saturday Night Live last night was great - funny - and also had a very real message. The last six years did not have to…
Mon, May 08, 2006, 7:23 pm // Site ManagementA gauntlet has been thrown down on the floor by GW Bush. By nominating General Hayden to head up the CIA, Bush is daring good citizens, the responsible…
Fri, Feb 10, 2006, 2:14 pm // Site Management- and now she may go to jail for it. So much for free speech in America. The careful process of shutting up Americans. The Eugene, Oregon, Weekly…
Tue, Nov 29, 2005, 2:32 pm // Site ManagementFrom an AP article today:
"Deputy Police Chief Frank Fernandez said officers might, for example, surround a bank building, check the IDs of everyone going in and out and…
Sun, Feb 13, 2005, 5:33 pm // Site ManagementThe government will arrest some poor guys and execute them for the murder of Sister Stang. The government will say they are shocked, just shocked. But the government…
Sun, Dec 05, 2004, 7:47 pm // Site ManagementTo be concise, if we start to rationalize torture then we are lost. It is the absolute opposite direction of democracy. It is the basic tool of the…
Tue, Nov 30, 2004, 7:57 pm // Site Managementto my post of Nov 6. He sees things differently, and I think he is right. I received several emails on that post, but this is the one…
Thu, Nov 11, 2004, 8:01 pm // Site ManagementToday they again arrested Mordechai Vanunu. We expect the worst for him. This courageous Jew has dared to speak out against Israel's madness. This in a country that…
Sat, Nov 06, 2004, 8:12 pm // Site ManagementThe Democratic Party continues to be unable to understand people and what motivates them. The party - and party members - have pushed extreme gay rights issues up…
Wed, Nov 03, 2004, 8:19 pm // Site ManagementWell, Americans like the Bush vision and values. He is elected by a majority of the people and electors. And he has a Senate and House of Representatives…
New LinksJulia Ioffe/New Republic
Current InterestCommunity Wise Bellingham
Friends of Whatcom
Lummi Island Quarry
League of Women Voters
Paul Krugman - economics
Local Blogs & NewsBellingham Herald
Bham Herald Politics Blog
Bham Politics & Economics
Friends of Whatcom
Get Whatcom Planning
League of Women Voters
Western Front - WWU
Local CausesBellingham Police Activity
Chuckanut Community Forest
Citizens of Bellingham
City Club of Bellingham
Community Wise Bellingham
Cordata & Meridian
Facebook Port Reform
Futurewise - Whatcom
Lummi Island Quarry
N. Cascades Audubon
NW Holocaust Center
Reduce Jet Noise
Salish Sea Org.
Save the Granary Building
WA Conservation Voters
Port of Bellingham
US - The White House
WA State Access
WA State Elections
WA State Legislature
Weather & ClimateCliff Mass Weather Blog
Two day forecast
Watts Up With That? - climate
Edge of Sports
Famous Internet Skiers
Good LinksAl-Jazeera online
Foreign Policy in Focus
Innocence Project, The
Intrnational Herald Tribune
Julia Ioffe/New Republic
Middle East Times
New American Century
Paul Krugman - economics
Personal bio info
Portland Indy Media
Project Vote Smart
Talking Points Memo
War and Piece
NwCitizen 1995 - 2007Early Northwest Citizen
Internet At Its BestTED
Quiet, Offline or DeadBellingham Register
N. Sound Conservancy
No Leaky Buckets
Protect Bellingham Parks
The American Telegraph
The Crisis Papers