OPINION: Why Does The City Of Burien Want To Reduce Its Transparency?

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by Stephen Lamphear

Following in the steps of the likes of Seattle City Attorney Tom Carr, the city of Burien is preparing to reduce its responsiveness to public records requests.

Here’s a screenshot of “Ordinance 517” on pages 121 – 123 of the last week’s council packet (from http://burienwa.gov/archives/30/081709a.pdf):

(click here to see full version of Ordinance 517)

The proposed change will eliminate:

  • The requirement to respond within 5 days by providing or denying requests
  • The requirement to state a timeframe for response
  • The requirement to provide partially discloseable documents by redacting exempt portions
  • The requirement to seek clarification if request is unclear
  • The requirement to provide a statement why a request is denied

The city’s proposal addresses internal processes while totally eliminating responsiveness to the public. The proposed ordinance is totally outside the spirit of the public records access law – a law that was enacted by an initiative of the people.

Where is that “transparency” we so often hear from the likes of Rose Clark and Joan McGilton?

We need to loudly oppose the city’s retrenchment into secrecy.

– Stephen

(Stephen Lamphear is a longtime Burien resident and former City Councilmember.)

[EDITOR’S NOTE: We welcome all opinions, and publish pertinent ones at our discretion. As always, all Readers are encouraged to either email us their thoughts, or Comment below. What do YOU think of “Ordinance 517”?]

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3 Responses to “OPINION: Why Does The City Of Burien Want To Reduce Its Transparency?”
  1. Lee Moyer says:

    Right on. Concerned citizens and an open government don’t sit well with the good-old-boys networking benind the scenes.
    So let’s hear from the promoters of this ordinance as to who they are and why they propose it.
    Lee Moyer

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  2. Stephen Lamphear says:

    Perhaps the city attorney just didn’t have much to do this summer and needed some billable hours. This actions is NOT required by any higher authority.

    The people of Burien need to know in plain English how to access their government and what to expect from the process.

    The last useless proposal we saw from the city attorney was an attempt to make private property owners responsible for the welfare of, and liable for damage and injuries caused by, nearby publicly owned trees.

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  3. Earl says:

    I can only conclude that someone requested an “embarassing” record from the City and is most likely the motivation for the Ordinance.

    After reading the ordinance in full, a few items stand out. By not including a time frame for reply the City of Burien can literally stonewall a Citizen’s request indefinetly. The word “promptly” versus “immediately” (crossed out) used in 2.40.100 again leaves the dicretion of even notifying the City Clerk when a Department/person receives a Disclosure Request.

    Bad law. Bad leaders if it is approved/passes.

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