SALMON SEASONS BEHIND CLOSED DOORS? MAYBE NOT!

SALMON SEASONS BEHIND CLOSED DOORS? MAYBE NOT!

As things go around a lot of stuff comes through my e mail and I found this bit that went to Fish Program's Jim Scott. Now it is about the open meetings act and WDF&W's desire to usually ignore it. Back up to the Cabezon bit on the North Coast or just the normal out of site negotiations with commercials.  My PDRs  produced a lot of documents with the commercials more or less helping staff figure out there seasons.  Again many feel this violates the open meeting laws. Now it gets really interesting when you realize the same applies to meetings with the Quinault Nation regarding setting seasons. So read away and draw your own conclusions but I think WDF&W is about to have some more legal problems.

 

 So here is the C&P:

 

Below a news article about a judge's recent ruling citing the Liquor Control Board for violations of the open meetings law by holding meeting with local officials and stakeholders behind closed doors out of the public's view as it develops WACs.  My reading of the article finds the court ruling aligns with our long-stated position that the Dept's historical used of "advisers" and meetings with officials and advocates with a stated interest outside public view while engaged in a rule making process is contrary to the standards of transparency.  I further point to the adoption of emergency rules at the request of one or more of these "advisers" which has been a common practice of the Department.  Then, right beside those two actions comes meetings, etc. behind closed doors with tribal co-managers wherein the public is again blocked from view during the decision making process. 

Since the Department has been delegated the decision authority on season setting from the Commission, it is the decision making entity as were the Liquor Control Board members in this instance and the ruling is applicable in my view as follows:

RCW 42.30.030

All meetings of the governing body of a public agency shall be open and public and all persons shall be permitted to attend any meeting of the governing body of a public agency, except as otherwise provided in this chapter.

RCW 42.30.020

(1) "Public agency" means:

     (a) Any state board, commission, committee, department, educational institution, or other state agency which is created by or pursuant to statute, other than courts and the legislature;

(2) "Governing body" means the multimember board, commission, committee, council, or other policy or rule-making body of a public agency, or any committee thereof when the committee acts on behalf of the governing body, conducts hearings, or takes testimony or public comment.


When promogating policies, rules and setting seasons, it is my view that the open meeting law applies the Director and Fish Program staff. 

I only seek to share information of potential interest.  No response to this communication is requested.




Judge: Liquor board broke open meetings law

By GENE JOHNSON

 

Associated PressNovember 3, 2014 

 

 

SEATTLE — The Washington Liquor Control Board broke the state's open public meetings law 17 times as it began working on rules for the recreational marijuana industry, a judge ruled.

Thurston County Superior Court Judge Christine Schaller issued the ruling Friday in a case brought by Arthur West, a critic of the legal pot law. The judge said that although the board broke the law, it didn't take any actions at the meetings that would warrant throwing out the marijuana rules it eventually adopted.

The meetings at issue came in the first three months of 2013, soon after voters approved Initiative 502. As the three board members — Sharon Foster, Chris Marr and Ruthann Kurose — traveled around the state holding public hearings about the legal marijuana rules, they also sometimes met quietly with local police, officials and prevention groups.

"In the early months following passage of I-502, there were many questions about what legalization meant for local communities," board spokesman Brian Smith said in an email Monday. "When Board members traveled around the state to hold public forums, they took time to meet with representatives of local government, law enforcement and the prevention community, typically at their request. At these meetings, LCB staff shared the proposed timeline for implementation, explained the process the agency would use for gathering feedback and Board members listened to any concerns."

West said the private nature of the meetings obscured the information the board was working with as it developed the rules, which covered nearly every aspect of the new legal pot industry, from what constitutes a serving size of marijuana to what sorts of security systems licensed pot businesses must have.

"The rest of us didn't get to participate in those meetings or find out what was said," West said.

The judge said she would hold a hearing later this month about whether the board members broke the law knowingly.

If they did, the board members could each be liable for penalties of $100 per violation, said Michele Earl-Hubbard, a Seattle open-government attorney who is not involved in the case.

Judges around the state have been reluctant to void actions taken by agencies over violations of the open meetings act, Earl-Hubbard said.

"It doesn't incentivize anybody to follow the law," she said.


Read more here: http://www.thenewstribune.com/2014/11/03/3467685_judge-liquor-board-broke-open.html?sp=/99/296/359/&rh=1#storylink=cpy