Local Ordinances and Other Legislation

The Tri-City Herald reports that the Pasco City Council, in a 5-2 decision on Monday, adopted a new policy for handling public records by creating two processing tracks based upon on the complexity of the request. The new policy is intended to help the City process relatively simple requests quickly and efficiently, without the need to be held up when staff resources are required for large, more complex requests.

Under the policy, city staff are required to use an evaluation sheet to determine whether the request is “routine” or “complex.” The factors considered are:

(1) the general, expansive or all inclusive nature of the request;
(2) the number of departments involved;
(3) the location of records and available method of searching records;
(4) the potential number of records implicated;
(5) the rights of third parties;
(6) the need for clarification of the request;
(7) administrative tasks necessary to process the request;
(8) the amount of time needed to review documents for applicable exemptions;
(9) the need for legal review of the public records request;
(10) the format of relevant records; and
(11) other relevant circumstances


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The Washington State Department of Revenue (DOR) uses a “ratio audit” to evaluate the property value of real and personal property in each of Washington’s 39 counties. The valuation of property in each of the counties is then compared against a total valuation of property in the state. The ratio audits are used by DOR to equalize yearly property taxes, and also to assist in calculating each county’s state school levy.

A former King County assessor and his daughter separately requested the disclosure of DOR’s tax ratio audits from King County. The tax ratio audit data would disclose tax information about the private properties subject to audit. King County and DOR rejected the requests under the state’s Public Records Act, chapter 42.56 RCW (PRA) Two separate actions to compel disclosure followed. The trial court dismissed each of the actions. The Court of Appeals reached the merits of the cases, notwithstanding that both of the appeals from the trial court actions were procedurally defective. The Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal of the PRA suits. Harley H. Hoppe & Associates, App/cross-res. v. King County, Res/cross-app (May 23, 2011).


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The Tacoma News Tribune reports that the Puyallup School Board may have run afoul of Washington’s Open Public Meetings Act (“OPM”) when it adjourned a disruptive meeting to a new location without disclosing where that was.

The Puyallup School Board faced a rowdy crowd at its May 9 meeting – a vociferous display of support for a local high school Principal who had submitted his resignation. When the time came to vote on whether to accept or reject the Principal’s resignation, shouting and chants from the crowd reportedly disrupted all order at the meeting. The Board President announced an adjournment of the meeting to another location.


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The King County Council recently took action to ensure that the County’s use of social media, including Twitter and Facebook, complies with the County’s obligations under various King County and Washington public record laws, including Chapter 2.14 K.C.C. and Chapters 40.14 and 42.56 RCW.

A number of County agencies are beginning to use online social media to engage and communicate with the public.  For example, Metro Transit uses its Twitter page to update commuters on the status of various bus routes – a tool that was especially important during the recent November snow storm. In light of the growing use of Facebook, King County Elections now uses its Facebook page to encourage young voter registration and to educate King County residents about the County’s mail-in ballot system. The King County Council wants to ensure that public posts on these and other County social media sites comply with public record laws.


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On The Willis Report (FOX NEWS, July 29, 2010), a regular FOX Business News broadcast, host Gerri Willis reviewed some of the issues surrounding efforts to gather information about the salary of public officials in Bell, California. Gerri interviewed Steve DiJulio, a Foster Pepper lawyer and regular contributor to this blog. Steve discussed that many