Rep. Joel Kretz discusses open government issues at July 27 forum

Lawmaker, open government advocates share views and offer insights on importance of transparency in government

The Washington Coalition for Open Government (WCOG) hosted a forum in Omak on July 27 to discuss the ins and outs of policies that address state and local government transparency issues and public records requests. Rep. Joel Kretz, who served on the attorney general's Open Government Task Force, participated as a panelist.

Other panelists included: Toby Nixon, former state legislator and president of WCOG; Greg Overstreet, Allied Law Group; and Russell Wood, State Records manager. Roger Harnack, Omak Chronicle's editor-in-chief, served as the moderator. Sixty people attended the event.

“Whenever the discussion in the Legislature turns to transparency in government, the debate gets heated. Some folks think that everything should be open to the public, others think a little secrecy is a good thing. I, for one, think government serves the people and everyone deserve to know what elected, appointed or other state and local officials are doing on their behalf,” said Kretz, R-Wauconda. “In a time when trust in government is at an all-time low, shining a light on the business being done in state and local governments can only help earn some of that trust back.”

During the meeting, attendees expressed concern about how much government documents can be censored before being handed over to the person making the public information request. Participants also wanted more information on how to file requests.

“We had a lot of good dialogue at the event and my hope is it empowers citizens to ask for information they think is relevant to whatever debate is happening at the state and local level,” Kretz said. “This might also be a wake-up call to officials and state agency leaders who think they can skirt our state laws and use delay tactics to stall citizen requests for public information.”

For more information, contact Bobbi Cussins, Public Information Officer: (360) 786-7252

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Washington State House Republican Communications
houserepublicans.wa.gov