At AWB we've been generally supportive of recent open government and public records initiatives in Washington, and have written supportively about federal reform efforts.
Over the weekend, this issue reached a boil as news came that Governor Gregoire has appointed Seattle City Attorney Tom Carr to chair the 13-member "Sunshine Committee" set up by the Legislature to review exemptions in the state's public disclosure law. Not everyone is pleased.
This puts "Darth Vader" in charge of the committee, charges Greg Overstreet, formerly the AG's Open Government ombudsman, at his new law firm's Open Government blog. Open government advocates have crossed light sabers with Carr's client before and have not forgotten.
This controversy will likely burn hot before it burns out. David Postman picked it up, as did Strange Bedfellows and Sound Politics. But it'll go beyond the blogosphere. Overstreet is definitely right when he says:
We suspect the editorial pages of the papers around the state will be discussing the Carr appointment in the coming days .... Just a hunch.
And it won't be a love-fest. It's hard to understate the zealousness of the newspapers on public records issues. This should prove the old adage about picking fights with those who buy ink by the barrel.
At the same time, Tim Ford, Overstreet's successor as the Open Government Ombudsman in the AG's office, casts a more conciliatory tone, quoted in the PI:
"I can work with anybody, and we're going to have productive meetings," he said.
We hope it all works out. May the Force be with you.