Throughout the State of Washington the Media and Private Citizens battle to obtain Public Records with limited success, and all too often those battles end up in Court simply because the Public Records Act does not specifically define nor at this point has the Washington State Supreme Court addressed what the word “promptly” means in the PRA, as a result Government Agencies all over the State are using that fact to delay, and delay as long as they possibly can responding to Public Records Requests which are embarrassing to the agency under the “Fade and Forget Theory” which quite simply is the theory that eventually embarrassing information will Fade and the Public will Forget, and not really care.
If you do not believe me just follow the folks at The Washington Coalition for Open Government who do an outstanding job of keeping track of what is going on as far as transparency and public records are concerned.
As I have said it before, and will say it again, Spokane is no different than some of the other cities in Washington State and continue to hinder and delay embarrassing PRRs, by not properly funding and staffing the City Clerk’s Office who are responsible for responding to PRRs. Neither Mayor Woodward nor the City Council have any interest in changing the status quo for obvious reasons…it never looks good for any of them.
Yesterday more evidence of the Fade and Forget strategy surfaced with an email response from City of Spokane Public Records Officer Terri Pfister regarding a PRR I submitted On 2/19/2021 7:54:56 AM, because I had learned from several sources that the highly touted Police Guild Contract was anything but what the Mayor and City Council wanted the Public to believe it was.
This is the response I received from City of Spokane Public Records Officer Terri Pfister.
This was my response to Terri Pfister and as you can see once again I requested that cases embarrassing to the City of Spokane and SPD be prioritized.
I even took the time to provide Terri Pfister with screenshots of the PRRs I wanted prioritized.
Even when you receive old and delayed Public Records installments you really have to study them to see if there may be anything relevant to current issues. As it turns out there were several documents in the installment I received yesterday which shed some light on current events including this one where Mayor Woodward’s former Advisor Paul Warfield who along with many others left the Woodward administration fills State Senator Andy Billig with some malarkey.
One has to consider if the City of Spokane’s and other cities inability to negotiate good contracts with unions which contained legitimate oversight lead to forcing the State Legislature to enact laws that would provide some oversight.