Governor Inslee did what he had to do - both politically and ethically - by vetoing the state senate bill ESB 6617, which removed the state legislature from the jurisdiction of our state’s public records laws. He was under tremendous pressure from all state news media and thousands of citizen petitions to veto the bill.
But, it seems he was busy behind the scenes all this week working on a compromise process between the state legislature and the state’s major news media. He also announced that this evening - and it seems the news media are ready to allow some compromises to be made. The major players in our state news media have agreed to ask the courts to delay the implementation of forcing the legislature to reveal past public records.
We will certainly learn more in the next few days.
A couple thoughts occur to me right off the bat here. I wonder if we will ever have access to the records of this week’s secret meetings between the governor, the legislators and the news media bosses. I doubt it. This agreement dealing with open government was made in secret and is intended to probably stay that way. How ironic.
Second, the compromise most desired by the legislature is that some of the past public records remain secret. That is what caused their panic. Those records apparently have information that will either be very embarrassing, may cause some to have to resign, and may even cause some to be criminally charged. As our previous article stated - what are they hiding? This compromise thus might well hide those records forever.
So - this struggle is far from over. Governor Inslee has thrown the legislature a life ring. And the news media may have traded some better access to records going forward in exchange for allowing some past records to remain closed.
It may come back to a citizen group having to file a lawsuit to open past records and learn what the legislators in Olympia are so afraid of our learning. And it may take citizens over the next year or two to possibly pass a new initiative on public records laws for going forward. To my read, our major corporate news media might have sold us citizens down the river. So much for their front page blusters on Wednesday, no doubt the very day they themselves were quietly and secretly negotiating with the governor and legislators. They did not report that to us. Again, how ironic.