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Eye On Olympia

Winter sunshine’s hard to find in Olympia…

After months of work, the state’s “Sunshine Committee” this week recommended that finalists for government jobs should be made public and that more information should be released from investigations into child deaths.

It’s been slow going for the committee, a mix of attorneys, lawmakers, journalists and community members. (Among the latter: Spokane’s Candy Jackson.) They’re supposed to be looking at the more than 400 exemptions that have been created to the state’s public records act, which says that citizens have a right to see what government is doing.

But even the silly-seeming exemptions (secrecy for growers of American ginseng? Really?) have proven unexpectedly nuanced and complex.

For example, the committee differed over whether releasing information on public job finalists would drive good people away. Virtually no private industry would do that, argued attorney Ramsey Ramerman.

“I think it’s going to lead to worse candidates and worse hires if we do it this way,” he said, saying it could lead to political pressure.

Attorney Tim Ford disagreed. Another way of viewing political pressure, he said, is public scrutiny of whom taxpayers are hiring.


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Richard Roesler covers Washington state news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Olympia.

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