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January 2017


When Must a Private Entity Comply with the PRA?

When Must a Private Entity Comply with the PRA?

January 30, 2017 by Jim Doherty
Category: Court Decisions and AGO Opinions , Public Records Act

Many public agencies in the State of Washington enter into contracts with private entities to provide public services. When private entities begin performing public services by contract, they inevitably begin to create records. The question this blog post will explore is: When are such records “public records” subject to production under the Public Records Act (PRA)?

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Don’t Do That! Part One

Don’t Do That! Part One

January 25, 2017 by Lynn Nordby
Category: Leadership

There's plenty of space devoted to what makes a good leader but the habits and characteristics of poor leaders are equally compelling.  This post, 1 of a 2-part series, summarizes what various observers identify as the habits and practices most leaders should take care to avoid.  

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Tiny Houses as a Workable Option to House the Homeless

Tiny Houses as a Workable Option to House the Homeless

January 24, 2017 by Steve Butler
Category: Homelessness

Tiny houses, small structures designed to provide temporary shelter, can be a low-cost method for housing the homeless and offer local governments a better option than having people sleep on the streets or in tents. This post looks at a few models operating successfully here in the Pacific Northwest.

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Vested Rights and the Hirst Decision

Vested Rights and the Hirst Decision

January 23, 2017 by Neil Caulkins
Category: Court Decisions and AGO Opinions , Vested Rights

This is the fifth post of a five-part series discussing the Washington Supreme Court’s decision in Whatcom County v. Hirst. This post explores whether one can have a vested right to use a permit-exempt well as the water source for development (subdivision or building permit).

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Agencies Must Provide a “Reasonable Time Estimate” in their 5-day Response, Even When Seeking Clarification.

Agencies Must Provide a “Reasonable Time Estimate” in their 5-day Response, Even When Seeking Clarification.

January 20, 2017 by Ramsey Ramerman
Category: Court Decisions and AGO Opinions , Open Government Advisor , Public Records Act

In this blog post, guest author Ramsey Ramerman provides an overview of the Washington Court of Appeals' recent decision in Hikel v. City of Lynnwood, where the court held that a reasonable time estimate is always required with an agency's response to a PRA request that does not fully resolve the request, even when the agency seeks clarification that may affect that time estimate.

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What Can Be Done about “Zombie” Properties?

What Can Be Done about “Zombie” Properties?

January 17, 2017 by Oskar Rey
Category: Court Decisions and AGO Opinions , Property Nuisances

The Washington Supreme Court's decision in Jordan v. Nationstar Mortgage LLC significantly impacts the ability of local government to take action with respect to vacant or "zombie" properties. This blog post discusses this impact as well as some options for addressing zombie properties.

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PRA Case Law Round Up for 2016

PRA Case Law Round Up for 2016

January 12, 2017 by Flannary Collins
Category: Court Decisions and AGO Opinions , Public Records Act

It’s a new year and a perfect time for a 2016 PRA case law round up. This blog post recaps major PRA cases from 2016 that should be of continuing interest to Washington's local governments in 2017. Drum roll, please…

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Washington Supreme Court Issues Significant Vesting Decision

Washington Supreme Court Issues Significant Vesting Decision

January 12, 2017 by Jill Dvorkin
Category: Court Decisions and AGO Opinions , Vested Rights

On December 29, the Washington Supreme Court issued Snohomish County, et al. v. Pollution Control Hearings Bd., a significant decision interpreting the statutory vested rights doctrine. This blog posts gives an overview of this decision and discusses its effect on local governments.

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Private Email Accounts but Public Records

Private Email Accounts but Public Records

January 5, 2017 by P. Stephen DiJulio and Philip Paine
Category: Court Decisions and AGO Opinions , Open Government Advisor , Council-Commission Advisor , Public Records Act

This post looks at the recent Washington State Court of Appeals ruling that held the First and Fourth Amendments of the United States Constitution and Article I, Section 7 of the Washington State Constitution do not afford an individual privacy interest in public records contained in an elected official’s private email account.

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