The Times's Scoop, And City Hall's Snoop

carr.jpg Mr. Eclipse

City Attorney Tom Carr wants the Seattle Times to turn over the names of its sources for stories about police corruption - not because he?s investigating the corruption, but because he wants to expose the sources in a courtroom.

It has to do with a cop's lawsuit against the city but Carr won?t tell the newspaper why, exactly, he wants the reporters? protected information - he refuses to comment (and I couldn?t reach him for comment today). But there?s irony if not hypocrisy at play.

While City Hall's lawyer wants reporters to reveal sources, he has conversely fought to protect sources in his own office: He crusaded for a high court ruling in the now infamous Hangartner case, allowing government officials to hide information from the public if bureaucrats merely send a copy of the document to their attorney - to Carr, for example - therefore establishing an attorney-client privilege.

It?s one that reporters can?t breach and have little chance of fighting successfully: How can you know there may be important public information in a document you can never see?

Carr, by the way, is the man Gov. Christine Gregoire picked to head a committee deciding if there will be more exceptions to the state public disclosure law. There were 10 exemptions originally; more than 300 have been added in recent decades. Expect even more now. The group is called, almost laughably, the Sunshine Committee, and Carr is its leading eclipse.

 
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