Open Government, Archaeology, and a Quote

OPEN GOVERNMENT

Score one for the little watchdogs at the Evergreen Freedom Foundation. A Thurston County judge last week decided she'll independently review dozens of publicly blacked-out pages and paragraphs detailing the $3.2 billion tax-break agreement between Gov. Gary Locke and Boeing. Superior Court Judge Christine Pomeroy effectively agreed there was a question whether the redacted fine print violated the state Open Records Act and was being used to prevent disclosure of a backroom deal, rather than protect proprietary trade secrets, as Boeing and Locke claimed. The Evergreen Freedom Foundation has been battling Locke to fully disclose how taxpayer money is being used to subsidize Boeing's plans to build the 7E7 Dreamliner in Everett (see "Tax Cracks," Feb. 18). Attorney General Christine Gregoire is supporting Locke's efforts to keep the lid on all the gory details, filing a stack of legal documents last week and unsuccessfully arguing that there was no need for the judge's review. Thanks to the foundation's legal persistence, Boeing and the state have already been prodded (shamed?) into releasing some previously withheld documents related to an employee-training center the state will build and run on Boeing's behalf. When the foundation originally requested those papers in mid-December, Boeing and Locke claimed they were privileged. Then suddenly, on Feb. 24, facing a possible document review by the judge in three days, those papers were released. "The documents we received Tuesday," says foundation leader Bob Williams, "didn't have any trade secrets," period. Judge Pomeroy will announce her findings on Friday, March 5. RICK ANDERSON

ARCHAEOLOGY

In 1999, the state Office of Historic Preservation learned that dozens of human skeletons and prehistoric artifacts had been illegally removed from an excavation on Semiahmoo Spit near the Canadian border. What made the case particularly flagrant was that the man who removed the bones and artifacts was an accredited professional archaeologist. In 2003, according to documents just obtained by Seattle Weekly, the offending party was finally brought to book. The Standards Board of the Register of Professional Archaeologists expelled Gordon C. Tucker Jr. from its membership, citing "an egregious violation" of the organization's code of conduct. Straightforward as that might seem, it marks a watershed in the archaeological field—virtually the first time a living professional in the field has been condemned for violating the canons of the trade and punished by a panel of peers. Archaeology is a profession still largely governed by an old-boy network that closes ranks around any member accused of unprofessional conduct. Membership in the RPA isn't compulsory, and expulsion seems to have done no harm to Tucker's career. He is currently employed in the Denver office of URS, a firm offering "global engineering services" in the Halliburton mode, as a project archaeologist. ROGER DOWNEY

QUOTE

"Get ready to bend over, baby boomers."— Commentator Ken Schram on Federal Reserve Chair Alan Greenspan's suggestion that Social Security benefits need to be cut (KOMO-TV, Feb. 26)

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