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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Public records forum looks at privacy, law

From staff reports

A discussion about the information government should make public, and the information it should withhold from the public, drew about 60 people Wednesday night in Spokane.

The forum at the Museum of Arts and Culture was one of many that Attorney General Rob McKenna is holding about recommendations his office is writing for government agencies responding to records requests.

Issues raised at the meeting varied widely from privacy concerns to those who said penalties for violations of records law are too light.

“We can’t have (government officials) think that if they withhold information the worst that’s going to happen to them is a slap on the wrist,” said Tim Connor, who reported on the River Park Square development deal for an online magazine.

He has fought for the release of city documents related to the controversy.

Rocky Treppiedi, a Spokane school board member, questioned why The Spokesman-Review was allowed to sponsor the event. He said a recent editorial in the paper and comments made at the forum by Editor Steve Smith showed the paper is too outspoken an advocate for the release of public documents.

“They’re inflaming the public rather than informing the public,” Treppiedi said in an interview after the meeting.

Greg Overstreet, special assistant attorney general, said the office sought out local government officials.

“We were very careful to get all viewpoints we possibly can,” Overstreet said.

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