We, the publisher and writers of the website Northwest Citizen, join our voices with newspapers and online news sites across Washington state in urging you to veto ESB 6617 - the bill that exempts our state Legislature from our Public Records Act and pulls a permanent cloak around their records. This bill was introduced last Thursday and sent to you on Friday - violating all the procedures and hearings required for normal legislation. As one of our writers, Michael Riordan, wrote yesterday on Northwest Citizen - what are they hiding? This bill will obstruct an order by Washington courts that directed the Legislature to provide records of their proceedings. The Legislature seems to know no decency in their panic to protect themselves from embarrassment.
We are a group of writers representing both left and right political beliefs. Our legislators must think voters have short memories and no ability to recall details. We writers have long memories and love details - especially political machinations. Let the Legislature reconsider their action and, if they choose, bear full responsibility for this truly appalling legislation. Governor, do not taint yourself nor the governor’s office by approving this abortive legislative process and this bill.
We are familiar with the lawmaker’s arguments - and we know they are bogus. Over the past 30+ years, several of us have had considerable experience with the Legislature and public disclosure laws. We are mature, knowledgeable and experienced citizens who have participated in key news events and know well the process in Olympia. We know this bill is no more than a panicked attempt at a secrecy law for the Legislature. They are scared. We want to know why. And we want to keep tabs on them in the future.
In closing, may I remind you that we voters passed the Public Records Act by initiative in 1972 when the Legislature refused to take action. Ever since, lawmakers have been adding exemptions to it. This must stop. We citizens may be motivated by this brazen and almost unbelievable secrecy act to work, over the next couple of years, to strengthen the Public Records Act. Do not allow yourself to be enticed by your friends in the Legislature in their attempt to save themselves. Please stand by the people of Washington state and veto ESB 6617. Thank you.
Publisher John Servais; Writers Elisabeth Britt, Tip Johnson, Deb Gaber, David Camp, Michael Riordan, Juliette Daniels, Dick Conoboy, Anne Mackie, Jon Humphrey, Larry Horowitz, Ralph Schwartz, and John Lesow.