Sen. Fairley's bill would make it harder or citizens to sue for government disclosure.
State Sen. Darlene Fairley, the Lake Forest Park Democrat, is always looking to save taxpayers money. But why is it at the expense of the public records act? Last year she wanted to eliminate a small committee that reviewed exemptions to the disclosure law. In a bill that read like an editorial, she called the committee "unproductive and, given the economic climate we are currently experiencing ... an unnecessary and wasteful expenditure of time and resources." The bill went nowhere, but Fairley has reintroduced it this session.
She has also now introduced Senate Bill 6408, to chill efforts by citizens who sue government agencies for failing to properly follow the public disclosure law.
Litigants might no longer recoup legal fees, and fines would go to the state archivist instead of the harmed party -- the public. That would stop such meddlers as Seattle businessman Armen Yousoufian, who has tried for 10 years to get the full story behind Paul Allen's scheming to build Qwest Field. He still doesn't have the records he sought, even after King County was hit with what might be a million-dollar judgment for non-disclosure.
As The Olympian says of Fairley's latest "ill-advised" attempt to cast darkness on the sunshine laws, "There's a simple solution here. Agency officials at all levels of government need to comply with the law and disclose public records in their custody. Follow the law and there's no problem, no lawsuit and no fines." And fewer lawmakers un-making law.