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OPINION AND EDITORIAL

State Lawmakers Work To Fix Tiny Portion of Failed Public Records Act
A Bad Idea

January 23, 2017



Chronicle opinion       

(OLYMPIA, WA.) -- Instead of scrapping Washington State's permanently flawed, badly worded, ill-conceived and utterly failed Wash. State Public Records Act (PRA) and starting over to create a law that is sensible and actually works - like many other states have on their books - members of the state legislature are tinkering around the edges trying to put a band-aid on this monstrosity.

Putting a band-aid on the PRA is like trying to control a junkie's intake of smack by asking him politely to not use so much black tar heroin on Wednesdays and Fridays.

It's a dumb idea, ill-conceived and probably won't amount to a rat fart in a windstorm in terms of an adult solution to this failed law's weaknesses.

But what are you gonna do when the state legislature is owned in large part by powerful lobbyists for the dead tree newspaper industry? The very industry that created this monster back in the 1970's to suit and please itself.

Every time sensible legislators try to fix this dud - even to a minor degree - the dead tree folks kill it in Olympia.

Here's what failure year after year gets you

The complete failure of government to fix a broken law like this decade after decade - and thus help the common people who are being brutalized by it - is precisely why Donald Trump is being inaugurated as the nation's 45th President today.

Governments, at all levels, seem to be broken. They are not smart or effective and are always owned by those with the largest dollars.

So this time around in the Big Show on The Beltway the great unwashed - who've been angry as hell about that for a very long time - sent the powers that be in Washington a hand grenade for an answer in a narcissistic, fully unqualified, nasty-tempered, pu**ie grabbing, women hating, teenage tweeting and abnormal-as-hell 74-year old hairspray king to let them know in a huge way they are very pissed off.

But the fact remains that some Washington state legislators are at least making an attempt to take a step forward on fixing this broken, fully-FUBAR public records act so we suppose they should get at least a thank you for that.

Thanks. Sort of.

The BIg Fix

Two state lawmakers - Rep. Terry Nealey, R-Dayton, and Rep. Joan McBride, D-Kirkland - are working on PRA legislation that is at least designed to try and strike some sort of a balance between keeping the public informed and managing the increasingly god-awful costs of responding to bloated records requests from every nut case, crank, malcontent and sociopath in the state who learned a long time ago how easy it is to abuse this law in order to:

~ Stalk and terrorize innocent families for years on end without one arrest. One Snohomish County woman this publication interviewed at length said she and her family have been stalked, humiliated, had their reputations dragged through the mud innumerable times and have been terrorized by a nut case using the PRA as a weapon for the past half dozen years and despite the fact there are plenty of laws on the books - including an anti-cyber stalking law - this stalker, who gives a Bronx cheer to the law every day (thanks to the PRA and media outlets who refuse to report such stories) has never been arrested, never been cited, never been prosecuted, never did a day in jail and the abuse and harassment to this family continues as this story is written.     

~ Punish small communities by trying to bankrupt them with insanely expensive PRA requests

~  Make a financial killing with the law - enough to retire on in some cases - because the legislature in its infinite stupidity built into the monster a financial insensitive for people to file lawsuits over the thing and rake in hundreds of thousands of dollars....like the pure-as driven snow Seattle Times did not long ago. That's right. The always trustworthy Seattle Times raped all you taxpayers to the tune of over $600,000. That's a pretty penny that won't be going into education (or anywhere else) any time soon because it is money that is gone forever -- straight from your pocket to the Times cash box. Besides big court awards, there's the huge cost for small towns. Tiny Gold Bar, Washington alone (blink your eyes on Highway 2 and you've missed it) dropped $81,000 last year fulfilling public records requests.

~ Kill unions in this state. Far right wing whack jobs in the state have discovered you can use the PRA to kill what is left of organized labor, which ain't much.

Hassle women who get or seek abortions

So what are Nealy and McBride trying to get done? They're going to introduce a bill to create create a fee structure for copies of electronic records. Oh, that's a serious fix all right. The plan is to discourage the above mentioned malcontents and psychos from making unnecessary requests.

Supposedly having to pay a few cents or a few bucks for a digital file is going to cure that symptom of this cancer of a law. 

Not even close. When you can make hundreds of thousands of dollars off just one hit on the PRA is 50-cents or $50 or $150 going to stop you? No. That lousy $50 bucks is the cost of entry to a very big lotto win. Peanuts. Chump change. Cost of doing business.

Right now the failed PRA prohibits government agencies from charging more than 15 cents per page for photocopies of public records but there is no corresponding charge on electronic records, such as emails. Gosh, what a surprise.

Is this proposed change to the PRA - if it gets enacted into law and that is a very big if - anywhere near enough?

No. Please call Nealy and McBride, thank them for trying to do something in the way of a positive fix and ask them for legislation to kill this five-tailed monster from hell and start over.

Just remember who the taxpayers sent to the White House today for the federal government being such a failure to fix broken stuff like the PRA, NAFTA, job exportation and more.

You want the same kind of unqualified hair-sprayed tweety-dud as governor of this state next time around?




Story tags: Washington Public Records Act, (PRA), unions, government, Seattle Times






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