THE WASHINGTON NEWSPAPER Vol. 99, No. 1 January 2014
Journal of the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association and Allied Daily Newspapers of Washington • www.wnpa.com
Interns gear up for session Students work with mentors from WNPA
he three University of Washington journalism students selected as 2014 WNPA Legislative Reporting Interns have been meeting with mentors in Olympia in preparation for covering the upcoming legislative session for WNPAmember newspapers. The interns, all seniors at UW and funded by the WNPA Foundation, are Rebecca Gourley, Chris Lopaze and Elliot Suhr.
Rebecca Chris Elliott Gourley Lopaze Suhr Gourley started her reporting career at the Goldendale Sentinel, the weekly newspaper in her hometown. She worked there for two years while earning an associate of arts degree at Yakima Valley Community College, then took a year off
college and continued to work for the Sentinel before starting at the UW in 2012. Her long-term goal is to be a photojournalist for National
Geographic. Lopaze covered student government for the UW Daily this past fall, and he also has experience writing for City Living, Seattle, and the Bellevue Reporter. One of his long-term goals is to cover important
issues relating to health or government. He is originally from Yakima. Suhr interned at the Seattle P-I for a year as a photographer and has written for community newspapers around the Puget Sound. He grew up in the suburbs of Birmingham, Ala., and moved to Seattle in 2000. After graduating he hopes to pursue a career in journalism as a photographer and a reporter. Andrea Otanez, a lecturer in journalism and communications at UW, is leading the program for the UW. She is a former political editor for the Seattle See INTERNS, page 2
Legislative Day plans pending T
he date has not yet been set for Legislative Day 2014 for Washington Newspaper Publishers Association and Allied Daily Newspapers of Washington. The schedule and registration will be posted at www.wnpa.com/events and provided to members of both organizations when the date is available. Please direct questions to Mae Waldron, mwaldron@ wnpa.com, or Heather Clarke, email@example.com.
Brian Myrick/Daily Record, Ellensburg
Named Photographer of the Year in the 2013 Washington Better Newspaper Contest, Brian Myrick of the Ellensburg Daily Record also won first place for ‘Lightning Storm’ in the Color Pictorial Photo Category, Circulation Groups III-IV, in the contest.
High court limits investigative records exemption The Associated Press
ashington’s Supreme Court has limited the ability of police agencies to automatically withhold investigative records under the Public Records Act. The 5-4 ruling came Dec. 19 in the case of Evan Sargent, a
man who was RELATED in a confronSTORY, tation with PAGE 3 an off-duty Seattle officer in 2009. The city settled the case just days earlier, agreeing to pay Sargent $235,000 to drop his legal claims of civil rights and
Public Records Act violations. The confrontation ensued when Sargent left his car blocking the alley, and he was arrested for investigation of assault. The prosecutor’s office declined to immediately file charges and sent the case back to police for further investigation.
Sargent sought documents related to his case and on an internal investigation of the officer. The majority of the justices said that once the case was referred for charges the first time, police were no longer entitled to withhold the documents under a
blanket exemption for ongoing investigative files. Instead, they would have to prove that any documents withheld would jeopardize effective law enforcement if released. The minority said the court’s ruling erodes important protections for active police work.
Even Whidbey Island’s ‘Mean Girls’ deserve a voice
olitics is a blood sport on Whidbey Island. Within weeks of my arrival here nearly nine months ago, I managed to upset the local Tea Party supporters and quickly landed on a long list of their “enemies.” I don’t believe I was targeted because I’m a political creature. In fact, I rarely discuss my personal politics. It’s boring stuff. The Whidbey News-Times, with its coverage of Island County Commissioner Kelly Emerson, opened a floodgate of personal attacks online from the Tea Party support group. We published an article about Emerson’s poor attendance at commissioner meetings. In the same issue was an editorial critical of the lawsuit Emerson and her husband filed against Island County. Kelly Emerson is a public figure. She is paid a healthy salary by taxpayers to do her
job. As such, she is subject to greater public scrutiny than the average citizen. Building a deck at her Camano Island home without Keven Graves a permit … Executive Editor suing Island and Publisher County, ie., the Whidbey Newstaxpayers … Times, missing a high Oak Harbor number of commissioner meetings … those all merit newspaper coverage. The online Tea Party group — mostly comprised of middle-aged men I have dubbed “the Mean Girls” — announced about a month ago that I was the recipient of the “Anal Sphincter Award,” and declared me the “biggest a-hole” in a very lengthy diatribe. I was intrigued. I am still waiting to see what
that award looks like and watching for the invitation to the awards banquet. At various times in various posts, the Mean Girls declared I was “doing a crappy job,” described me as a “liberal pig,” “unethical,” “smug,” “rude,” “a diaper doper baby,” a purveyor of “smut,” “a parrot,” and much more. Said one commenter, “Keven R. Graves, be comforted in the fact that your local fish wrappers are easily recycled into toilet paper, which provides a sustainable supply for you and your crew. Sustainability is a desirable trait according to Whidbey’s DemonRats and environmental whackos.” At least Mr. Wolf spelled my name correctly. Perhaps he suspects it’s some Russian deviation from the norm? Last week, in response to the Emerson coverage, I was dubbed a “journalistic slut.” I’m
not sure what that means, but I am considering adding it to my LinkedIn description. I am in good company. Others subjected to namecalling and criticism by the online Mean Girls include Island County commissioners Jill Johnson and Helen Price Johnson, Oak Harbor Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Kathy Reed, both Island County Superior Court judges and former Oak Harbor mayor Jim Slowik. Republican officials who don’t toe the Tea Party line are labeled “DemonRats,” “Republirats” and “RINOs.” I’ve been asked if the attacks by the Mean Girls get to me. They do bother my mother, and that part bothers me. My son has a sense of humor similar to mine, and jokingly says he agrees with some of the ruder remarks. I can truthfully say, though, they don’t get to me, and here’s
a few reasons why: First, by their very responses and remarks, the Mean Girls are revealing much more about their own character and beliefs than mine. Second, many of those doing the worst name calling do so anonymously — I believe that is true cowardice. Third, and most importantly to me, as a journalist, what appears in these pages is being read, and it’s leading to a form of discussion. Said John Roberts, chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, “As a nation we have chosen a different course — to protect even hurtful speech on public issues to ensure that we do not stifle public debate.” Indeed. Reprinted from the Nov. 21, 2013, Whidbey News-Times, Oak Harbor, with permission.
When and why we need to hear 911 calls Officers: President: Bill Forhan, NCW Media, Leavenworth l First Vice President: Keven Graves, Whidbey News Group, Coupeville l Second Vice President: Lori Maxim, Sound Publishing l Past President: Jana Stoner, Northern Kittitas County Tribune, Cle Elum l Secretary: Bill Will, WNPA, Seattle Trustees: Donna Etchey, Sound Publishing l Eric LaFontaine, Othello Outlook l Imbert Matthee, Waitsburg Times l Don Nelson, Methow Valley News, Twisp l Stephen McFadden, Ritzville-Adams County Journal l Fred Obee, Port Townsend Leader l Michael Wagar, Lafromboise Communications Staff: Executive Director: Bill Will l Editor/ Manager of Member Services: Mae Waldron
Officers: President: Rob Blethen, Walla Walla Union-Bulletin Treasurer: Christine Fossett, Chronicle, Centralia Board: Nathan Alford, Moscow-Pullman Daily News l Tyler Miller, Daily Record, Ellensburg l Heather Hernandez, Skagit Valley Herald, Mount Vernon l Dave Zeeck, News Tribune, Tacoma Executive Director: Rowland Thompson
THE WASHINGTON NEWSPAPER is the official publication of the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association. It is published monthly by WNPA, 12354 30th Ave NE, Seattle WA 98125, phone (206) 634-3838. Email: mwaldron@wnpa. com; URL: www.wnpa.com, in conjunction with Allied Daily Newspapers of Washington, P.O. Box 29, Olympia, WA 98507, (360) 943-9960. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
he word “restraint” and the First Amendment usually exist in uneasy tension. The 45 words of the First Amendment don’t include it. The Pentagon Papers case in 1971 settled the issue of “prior restraint” by the government on what the press may publish: Nothing doing. Many critics of the news media slam news outlets for a lack of it, from graphic TV images beamed “live” from car chases to un-restrained “paparazzi” photographers stalking celebrities. And in the digital age, whole new ethical controversies have arisen over images being captured and distributed via the ubiquitous presence of cell phone cameras. But consider the news decisions made — at least thus far — on the release of 911 tapes from the Sandy Hook Elementary shootings in Newtown, Conn., one year ago. The violence was real, and callers were facing the horror of a shooter who eventually would kill 20 students and six educators. Seven tapes of 911 calls from Sandy Hook teachers and staff at were released at 2 p.m. ET Wednesday, Dec. 4, under a court order following a request by The Associated Press, which had sought the tapes’ disclosure since the day of the shooting. There is a difference between having public access to such calls and the public broadcast or online posting of the calls themselves. There are strong First Amendment reasons for disclosure of 911 calls — from the plain fact that in many cases such recordings are public records in the first place, to holding police and other emergency responders accountable for their response, to in some cases debunking conspiracy theories or defusing wild rumors. The First Amendment also protects news operations from government interference what they do with 911 tapes. Fox News was first cable outlet to air Newtown 911 audio clips, about one hour after their release, but only
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Times and previously was with Everett Community College. Succeeding Frank Garred as intern coordinator and editor are Dave Ammons, a longtime AP reporter and current communications director for the Washington Secretary of State’s office; Dennis Box, editor of the Enumclaw
used short excerpts. CNN first report featured a reporter describing the audio. ABC and NBC said they would not use the audio, while CBS used some audio segments, but nothing in which Gene gunshots could be Policinski heard. Senior Vice Caution of a President, First Amendment different sort was Center at play online: A variety of newspaper web sites, online news reports and blogs provided “clickable” audio replays of all seven recordings — but generally with stories or stand-alone warnings about the graphic content. Clearly, the idea that online users could make their own decisions about hearing the tapes, as opposed to TV viewers or radio listeners who could not, was in play. Editors have been faced with ethical calls on tragic imagery or audio since the invention of those mediums. In 1911, many news outlets used photos of many of the 146 people — mainly young women — who died in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire. There was the anguished voice in 1937 of WLS radio reporter Herbert Morrison, including his memorable phrase “Oh, the humanity ...” as the dirigible Hindenburg burst in flames. Newspapers and newsreels in the 1930s and 1940s did not show President Franklin Roosevelt being carried or using a wheelchair or crutches. Famously, Life magazine withheld one frame — Frame 313 — of the 26-second “Zapruder film” from Nov. 22, 1963 because it graphically showed the impact of a bullet on President John F. Kennedy’s head. Much of the most-graphic footage of the terror attacks in 2001 on the World Trade Center — even if broadcast “live” at the time — has not been used in later reporting around the annual anniversaries of the tragedy. more recently, a disclosed 911 call
in which a struggle and a gunshot could be heard proved significant in the trial and national discussion over the Trayvon Martin shooting. In the absence of government regulations, a free press properly is left to make their own decisions for their own reasons. But in at least eight states, according to a 2012 report by the First Amendment Center, legislatures have enacted bans or severe limits on release of such calls — with proposals in a number of other states for a ban or transcript-only disclosure. There are professional guidelines on airing 911 tapes, including those produced by the Radio Television Digital News Association. In sum, the RTDNA guidelines call on journalists to consider whether using the actual audio is necessary for a complete and accurate report, to respectfully frame use of the sound if it is used, and to consider how best to explain decisions once made. A global controversy over satirical cartoons depicting Islam’s Muhammad a few years ago were fueled in part when European newspapers republished the images in defiance of blasphemy laws in their nations. In the U.S., virtually no news outlets published the cartoons, opting for descriptions in words — making what some editors said was a routine call on material that might offend even a small portion of their readers. The difference then — and last month with the Newtown 911 tapes — is that a free media makes a journalistic decision, with no need to show government what the news media could do instead of what editors independently felt they should do.
Courier-Herald and several other Sound Publishing newspapers; and Kasia Pierzga, former publisher of the Whidbey Examiner of Coupeville and now with the Department of Revenue, Olympia. Bill Will, executive director at WNPA, will accept story ideas from
members of WNPA and work with Pierzga to create a story list for the interns. As the legislative session develops members should contact Will with story requests: email bwill@wnpa. com or call (206) 799-3259.
Gene Policinski is chief operating officer of the Newseum Institute and senior vice president of the Institute’s First Amendment Center. He can be reached at email@example.com.
OPEN ACCESS & LEGAL ISSUES
Felony charges eyed for Reardon aide SPD to pay
The Herald, Everett
n example needs to be made of the former Snohomish County aide now accused of trying to scrub data and other evidence of potential misconduct from a county owned computer, says one of the state’s leading advocates for preserving access to public records. Toby Nixon, president of the Washington Coalition for Open Government, said Dec. 10 that the case emerging against Kevin Hulten appears ripe for prosecution under a seldomused state law that makes it a felony to “unlawfully remove, alter, mutilate, destroy, conceal or obliterate” public records. If the allegations about Hulten prove true, prosecutors should send a strong message to discourage others in government from similar attempts to destroy public records, Nixon said. Hulten, 34, worked as a legislative analyst for Aaron Reardon before the former county executive’s resignation May 31 after a string of scandals. A forensic inspection of a county laptop Hulten had been using for work shows that on March 11 he loaded a datawiping program and partially scrubbed the device just before surrendering it for inspection in a criminal case, the King County Sheriff’s Office says. The detectives wanted to examine the laptop as part of an investigation to determine Hulten’s precise role in a shadowy effort that had targeted
Reardon’s political rivals with anonymous records requests, spoof emails and Web hit pages. In police reports made public last month, the King County detectives suggested Hulten’s conduct warrants at least a charge of tampering with evidence, a gross misdemeanor. To help Snohomish County officials avoid a conflict in interest, Skagit County Prosecuting Attorney Rich Weyrich will decide what should happen with any charges. Weyrich said he couldn’t discuss the case, other than to say no timeline has been set for reaching a decision. King County detectives continue to investigate. Nixon used email and WashCOG’s Twitter to suggest that Hulten’s conduct should face sufficient sanction to discourage others who also may consider scrubbing computers of public records. “Any public employee who intentionally destroys public records to cover up wrongdoing should not get off with only a misdemeanor,” he said. “RCW 40.16 allows these crimes to be prosecuted as felonies, with penalties of up to 10 years in jail and $5,000 in fines for each charge. These egregious cases — like the Michael Garvison case in Skamania County — should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law so as to discourage others.” Garvison is a former county auditor from southwest Washington who was charged with two felonies for destruction of records related to alleged misuse of public funds.
After a long legal battle that involved assistant state attorneys general and special prosecutors, he ultimately pleaded guilty to a gross misdemeanor. The King County investigation was requested by Snohomish County officials after the Herald reported on evidence showing Hulten had adopted the alias “Edmond Thomas” and threatened to sue the county if it didn’t comply with his demands for thousands of documents, which focused on nearly 20 of his fellow county employees. Most of those people had earlier cooperated with a Washington State Patrol investigation of Reardon’s use of public funds in an affair with a county social worker. Some of those targeted said the “Edmond Thomas” requests seemed to be retaliation or an attempt at surveillance and harassment. Hulten initially denied responsibility for the “Edmond Thomas” records requests, and threatened to sue. He then admitted he was behind the demands but insisted there was no intent at harassment or surveillance. The King County investigation examined several countyowned computers Hulten had used, including those on desks within Reardon’s former suite of offices. The detectives found computer logons connected to Hulten that were used to launch Wikipedia and Twitter attacks aimed at Reardon’s political enemies, including a Gold Bar blogger who was trying to get
him recalled. They also found evidence Hulten used the publicly owned computers to work on Reardon’s 2011 re-election campaign on county time, as well perform background checks of other elected county leaders, documents show. Hulten responded to news about what detectives found by posting a lengthy account of what he insists has been retaliation for an attempt at being a government whistleblower. Snohomish County this spring spent nearly $35,000 on an independent attorney to investigate Hulten’s claims of government corruption. She determined they were baseless. Hulten repeatedly had denied any records existed showing he’d used public resources on Reardon’s campaign. He resigned in April just before being fired for using county computers to view and store commercial pornography and sexually explicit images of himself and a former girlfriend. The pornography also led county officials to recover roughly 400 documents that earlier had been deleted from a county laptop assigned to Hulten. The records provide a window into Hulten’s involvement in Reardon’s 2011 re-election campaign, including evidence he spent time on the job developing ethics complaints against Reardon’s Republican opponent. The state Public Disclosure Commission is investigating both Hulten and Reardon for using public resources in political campaigns.
Vancouver man is suing Clark County for allegedly stonewalling a public records request he says would shed light on why county commissioners hired Don Benton to head the Environmental Services Department. Ed Ruttledge says he submitted his public records request to numerous county officials on May 31, and he’s yet to hear so much as a peep in return. According to state public disclosure laws, agencies have five days to respond to a public records request by either handing
over the requested documents, denying the request based on legal exemptions, or by giving the person an estimated wait time for fulfilling the request. “The email request landed in the in-box of half a dozen county employees, including the county commissioners and a county lawyer, yet not a single one of them felt compelled to act on it,” Ruttledge’s attorney, Greg Ferguson, said in a news release. Ruttledge’s suit also seeks up to $100 in fines for each day the county ignores his request, as well as attorney fees, according to court documents filed Dec. 10. Ruttledge asked for
documents that would show any changes commissioners made to the county’s human resources policy manual during the year leading up to May 8. He also asked for copies of board minutes or public notices that would have alerted residents to such policy changes. “The records at issue here, had they been timely provided, could have revealed whether county commissioners initiated or perhaps even inked a back-room deal before Benton’s candidacy for the (director) position was even announced,” Ferguson said. On May 1, Republican county Commissioners David
The Seattle Times
Madore and Tom Mielke announced that they planned to hire Benton, a Republican state senator from Vancouver. Democratic Commissioner Steve Stuart vehemently opposed tapping Benton as director of environmental services and alleged “political cronyism” was at play. Those opposed to the Benton hire said his qualifications didn’t match those in the job description on the county’s website. At the time of the hire, Madore and Mielke said Benton was the person they wanted for the job, because he’s a proven
he city of Seattle has agreed to pay $235,000 to a man who alleged he was illegally denied public records he sought from the Police Department to bolster his claim against an off-duty officer who pulled a gun on him in 2009. The sum, which includes attorney fees and costs, will be paid to Evan Sargent, 24, of Seattle, under a settlement reached Dec. 6 to resolve publicrecords and civil-rights lawsuits brought against the Police Department and the city. As part of the settlement, the city made no admission of liability. A King County Superior Court judge initially found the Police Department had repeatedly violated the state’s Public Records Act by withholding documents from Sargent, and imposed $70,000 in penalties and legal fees. On the city’s legal challenge, the state Court of Appeals unanimously found the department had failed to adequately explain all of its reasons for withholding some information from Sargent’s attorneys. But the court ruled the violations were unintentional, finding the fine “completely disproportionate” and ordering the case sent back to the lower court to refigure the fines. Sargent appealed to the state Supreme Court, where the records issue was still pending when the settlement with the city was reached. Both sides agreed to ask the court to withdraw the case. Sargent also brought a federal civil-rights suit over his confrontation on July 28, 2009, with the off-duty officer, Detective Donald Waters. Sargent was arrested and booked into the King County Jail for investigation of aggravated assault on a police officer, but he was never charged. U.S. District Judge Thomas Zilly dismissed the suit in July , although he chastised Waters for not walking away from the confrontation with then-19-yearold Sargent, who had blocked a West Seattle alley with his grandfather’s truck while picking up laundry for his mother’s
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Suit claims Clark County hid deal details
The Columbian, Vancouver
in public records case
Pasco avoids asking leading question on records law
Tri-City Herald, Kennewick
asco residents will not be asked how they feel about their tax dollars being used for public records requests after the question failed to top the lists of a majority of council members. The city’s six councilmen in attendance had different ideas about what three questions should be on an upcoming community survey. In the end, the regional aquatic facility and ambulance service to the area in west Pasco
known as the “doughnut hole” made the cut, along with a lastminute addition about the Senior Center. Pasco sends out the National Citizens Survey every two years with standard questions about the availability and quality of municipal services. The survey also can address up to three policy issues. One question will cover the regional aquatic facility and the failed attempt in August to get Tri-City voters to approve a sales tax so it could be built in Pasco.
Residents will be asked if the Pasco Public Facility District should continue to work toward a large project to benefit the Tri-Cities, use its own resources to identify a small project for Pasco — like a scaled-down water park or performing arts center — or abandon efforts to consider future facilities. Another question covers ambulance service that is provided by the Pasco Fire Department, under contract with Franklin Fire District 3, to county residents in the doughnut hole. Those residents don’t pay the
monthly ambulance utility fee of $6.25 that is required of Pasco residents, and the city wants to know should that charge be included in the contract since they’re getting the same service. And finally, Councilman Al Yenney suggested they ask citizens about the Senior Center on North Seventh Avenue and whether it should be re-purposed as a community center. The city puts about $250,000 toward the facility each year, yet it is under-utilized and needs to be maintained, he said. Some of his colleagues agreed
that issue should be looked into and added it to the question list. Council members had been considering asking residents if there should be a restraint put in place to protect taxpayers from serial public records requesters. It wouldn’t have resulted in a change since the city must follow state law, but could have directed city officials to talk with legislators about protecting citizens’ wallets from being raided by people making “burdensome or harassing requests for huge volumes of nonspecific documents.”
EPPY winners on both sides of the Columbia
he (Vancouver) Columbian’s “All Politics is Local” blog was a winner in the Editor & Publisher’s 2013 EPPY Awards. The blog, with a tagline of “We go to meetings so you don’t have to,” won in the category of “Best News/Political Blog” in the category of under 1 million unique monthly visitors. Primary contributors are Clark County government reporter Erik Hidle and Vancouver city government reporter Stephanie Rice, as well as Eric Florip, who covers transportation and the environment, and Tyler Graf, who covers small cities. The blog was started in December 2010 to share behindNathan Whalen/South Whidbey Record, Langley
The South Whidbey Record drew local photographers into the newspaper with a $100 prize offered to the photographer who submitted the winning image for its annual Winter on Whidbey publication. Oak Harbor resident Rick Lawler, center, won over scores of entries for his photo of the Coupeville Wharf. Lawler got his picture in the paper too, posing with Record editor Justin Burnett, left, and Keven Graves, publisher of the Whidbey News Group, right.
Bagwell co-publishes book on industry
teve Bagwell, adjunct professor of mass communication at Linfield College and managing editor of the McMinnville (Ore.) NewsRegister, is co-author of a book that examines the newspaper industry in Idaho, Oregon and Washington. “New Editions: The Northwest’s Newspapers as They Were, Are, and Will Be,” written by Bagwell and Randy Stapilus, reviews the evolution of every newspaper produced in the Northwest. The newspaper industry has always been in a state of change and its demise has consistently been a topic of discussion. Bagwell and Stapilus argue that newspapers of the
future may be quite different from those of today. The book, published by Ridenbaugh Press in Carlton, Ore., traces the evolution of individual papers from locally, often family-owned publications to the ownership consolidation of larger groups. It also discusses the reasoning behind publishers’ and editors’ decisions to produce, or not produce, online editions. Many of the region’s editors and publishers offer their own comments and observations on the present and future of Northwest newspapers. Bagwell, who has taught at Linfield College since 2000, has nearly 40 years of newspaper experience, primar-
ily in the Northwest. He has been a photographer, reporter and editor at numerous Oregon newspapers including the Coos Bay World, Springfield News, the Daily Astorian, the Oregon Statesman, Salem Statesman Journal, the Idaho Statesman, the Bulletin in Bend and the News-Register. He has a bachelor’s degree in history from Stanford University and a master’s from the University of Oregon. His co-author, Stapilus, is the publisher of Ridenbaugh Press. Stapilus has also been a reporter in Idaho. “New Editions” is available through Ridenbaugh and Amazon online.
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business. Waters allegedly smashed the truck’s side mirror with his fist. But Zilly said Sargent “escalated” the situation when he brandished a baseball bat at Waters, who was trying to find parking to meet a friend for dinner nearby. At that point, Zilly ruled, Waters, belligerent or not, had the right to arrest Sargent at gunpoint. Sargent appealed Zilly’s decision to a federal appeals court, where the case initially went before a mediator. When the mediator asked both sides if a settlement was possible, Sargent agreed to talks if both suits were subject to discussion, one of his attorneys, Mike McKay, said Dec. 9. He said the case spiraled into a $235,000 settlement though the matter initially could have been resolved for a $15,000 to $20,000 payment to Sargent. “As a taxpayer in the city, I regret that,” McKay said. But the case helped prod the Police Department to improve its public-records responses over the last few years, McKay said. The City Attorney’s Office released details of the settlement Dec. 9 without comment. Sargent’s case was among a
handful of high-profile civilrights lawsuits that have been highlighted by Seattle police critics as exemplifying the sorts of use-of-force and escalation issues that drove a Department of Justice investigation into the department. The Justice Department investigation led to a settlement agreement last year and the appointment of a federal monitor to oversee reforms aimed at curbing excessive force and biased policing. The Sargent case was particularly noteworthy because frustrations over obtaining documents led to a 2011 letter
by McKay and his brother, John — both former U.S. attorneys in Western Washington — urging the Justice Department to investigate the Police Department. The letter came shortly after the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington and 34 community groups had called for a civil-rights investigation of the Police Department. Sargent will use his portion of the settlement — to be worked out confidentially with his attorneys — to repay his grandmother for covering his initial legal expenses and to pursue studies at a community college, McKay said.
the-scenes information from local government. Selected posts are published on the cover of the Clark County section in the Sunday newspaper. Placing finalists in the blog category were the Denver Post’s “The Spot” and Washington Monthly’s “Political Animal.” “All Politics is Local” received honorable mentions in the 2012 and 2011 EPPYs. Across the Columbia River, the Daily Astorian won an EPPY in the Best Travel Website with under 1 million unique monthly visitors for its site, Discover Our Coast on any device, www. discoverourcoast.com.
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leader who recognizes the importance of economic growth. Bill Barron, then the county administrator, warned Madore and Mielke that appointing Benton to the post without considering other candidates would fly in the face of standard hiring procedures. Months after hiring Benton, Madore created a Facebook post titled “Don Benton — the real story of a good man and my apology.” In the post, Madore stated that the hiring of Benton was accidental, and it occurred after he became flustered. Madore blamed Stuart’s angry departure from the May 1 meeting for leaving him “feeling somewhat disoriented.” He also blamed Barron for appointing Benton after assuming that’s what Madore and Mielke wanted him to do. Madore later removed the Facebook post. After making his public records request, Ruttledge said he reached out to the county a second time and still got no response. Ruttledge is a frequent commenter on The Columbian’s website and has voiced his concerns at public meetings about the decision to hire Benton.
“I suppose I could have just given up,” Ruttledge said Dec. 9 in a statement. “But then I’ve never believed that the search for truth is a spectator sport.” County officials declined to comment on the lawsuit. “It’s county policy that we don’t comment on pending litigation,” said Holley Gilbert, a spokeswoman for Clark County.
Ex-Vidette staffer wins Montesano council seat The Vidette, Montesano
ontesano City Councilwoman Marisa Salzer was sworn in by city Senior Deputy Clerk Kim Schankel, while Brenda House, a certified sign language interpreter, signed the oath to Salzer. Salzer said she was honored to have been sworn into public office. “I may not hear as well as some of you, but I promise I will listen,” she said. A Montesano High School graduate, Salzer is a former paginator and legals clerk for the Vidette, where she worked for five years. She now works for the Coastal Community Action Program in Aberdeen, helping developmentally disabled adults find and retain jobs. Along with husband Jerrod Salzer, the 33-year-old has a blended family of
three kids. Salzer says she’d like to spend time on the council working to restore old buildings and develop the city’s historic character. Working for the Vidette, she says she gained an understanding of how public records work and the Open Public Meetings Act. “I understand the importance of the public process and an open city government. I felt like the timing was right and I think I can bring an unbiased perspective.” Salzer ran unopposed for the council position, which was first occupied by Rocky Howard. When Howard resigned to take the city’s public works director position, Doug Streeter was appointed to the seat. Streeter chose not to seek election to retain the seat. By state law, Salzer had to be sworn into office as soon as the election was certified by the state, which occurred in early December.
Steven Friederich/The Vidette, Montesano
Marisa Salzer, right, a former employee of the Montesano Vidette, was sworn in as a councilwoman last month.
Gun rights group settles records suit against Seattle The Seattle Times
he city of Seattle will pay $38,000 to settle a lawsuit brought by the Second Amendment Foundation over failure to release public records relating to Mayor Mike McGinn’s January gun buyback. The settlement was signed by Carl Marquardt, legal counsel to mayor Mike McGinn, and includes an apology for the mayor’s office’s failure to release records about the controversial buyback program that netted about 700 guns but also
provoked criticism from public health and gun-rights advocates that it wouldn’t reduce gun violence. “The city of Seattle acknowledges that it had a duty under the Washington Public Records Act to provide all documents in response to the Second Amendment Foundation’s public disclosure request in a timely manner, and that it did not do so … While the initial failure to produce records in this case was unintentional, the city acknowledges that it did not meet the requirements of the
Public Records Act, and for that we sincerely apologize.” The statement goes on to say that the city is working to improve its processes for locating documents and responding to public-records requests. The Seattle Police Department earlier in 2013 paid $20,000 to the Seattle Times to settle a claim that it had not released public records as required by state law. In February, the Second Amendment Foundation, based in Bellevue, requested all communications and
related documents about the gun buyback and in response received from the city more than 1,500 emails between five McGinn staffers. But in June, a reporter for Seattlepi.com wrote that his own public-records request showed that the state’s most prominent gun control group, Washington CeaseFire, was not notified about the gun buyback before it was announced. Ralph Fascitelli, president of Washington CeaseFire, emailed the mayor when he learned of the plans and told him that
buybacks often backfire and that the overwhelming research shows that they are a waste of resources, according to the Seattlepi.com report. Alan Gottlieb , founder of the Second Amendment Foundation, said the emails detailed in the news story were not previously disclosed to the organization. In filing the lawsuit, he accused McGinn’s staff of “playing games” with the government’s legal requirement to be transparent and accountable.
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CAREER MOVES n Scott Sherwood has joined the sales team at the Marysville Globe and Arlington Times to work alongside Terrie McClay. His background includes a desk job at Microsoft, where he learned he likes working with people more than computers; stints as an insurance agent and at GTE Yellow Pages’ Superpages. com; and growing up with parents who worked in sales. Since 1993, he and his wife have lived in Marysville, and their three children graduated from local schools. Sherwood’s most recent community service was at the Doleshel Tree Farm Park, though he’s participated in collection drives for the food bank and coached youth baseball. n The News Tribune in Tacoma announced that Bob Dutton, a veteran baseball writer for the Kansas City Star, is joining the staff to cover the Seattle Mariners. He has been with the Star, mostly, since 1981, first as a copy editor and assistant sports editor, and later covering Kansas State and Kansas (he had a short stint at the Dallas Morning News in between). In 2000 he became a full-time baseball writer covering the Kansas City Royals and in 2008 was president of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. Dutton serves on the committee that nominates players to the Hall of Fame. Though he’s traveling to Florida to cover the Major League Baseball winter meetings, he’ll be in Tacoma shortly thereafter. Dutton succeeds Ryan Divish, who left TNT to cover the Mariners for the Seattle Times.
n Eric Mathison, former editor of the Highline Times in Burien, is the newest member of the Burien City Council’s Parks & Recreation Citizen’s Advisory Board. “Once I retired as the editor of the Highline Times, I wanted to find a way to stay involved in the community,” he said. The parks board is a good fit, in part because his family donated the Mathison Park to the city, and Mathison will serve a four-year term. n News Tribune photographer Janet Jensen left the Tacoma daily after 17 years to teach at the Tacoma Public School District’s School of the Arts. Her photographs earned many regional and national awards and taking them gave her the opportunity to travel to Cambodia, the Philippines, Afghanistan and Sri Lanka, and in 2010 to summit Mount Rainier while covering a climb by seven local women. Her successor is Drew Perine, a photographer who has been on the TNT copy and design desk and returns to a full-time photography position. n Bruce Ramsey of the Seattle Times retired last month after more than 37 years as a journalist. He has been an editorial writer and columnist at the Times for the past 13 years. Ramsey wrote his 342nd and final column, “Diving into religious practices,” about the women-only swim time at the Tukwila Pool, for the Dec. 4 edition. Read his last column at http://tinyurl.com/kavkhf3 and his favorite 10 columns at seatims/ramsey/favs. n After six years as a reporter
at the Mercer Island Reporter, Rebecca Mar has left the newspaper for a new opportunity. She joined the paper in 2007 with a newly minted bachelor’s degree in English and left with a portfolio of diverse profiles, from military veterans and performing artists to cross-country bicyclists and pets. n Clare Ortblad has joined the Bainbridge Island Review as a creative artist and graphic designer. She developed a
background in design and international relations, at Rhode Island School of Design and University of Washington, respectively, after living abroad with her parents in Japan, the Philippines, Switzerland and Germany. After college, she lived in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, working for two years for a nongovernmental organization and later as a designer and associate editor of the Cambodia Daily’s “Weekend” magazine.
n Carrie Rodriguez is the new editor of the Federal Way Mirror. Former regional editor of the Kirkland and Bothell/ Kenmore Reporters, she graduated from the University of Washington in journalism and English. She and her husband, Miguel, have four children and live in Des Moines. Rodriguez succeeds Andy Hobbs, who accepted a position at the Olympian. He had been Mirror editor for more than seven years.
CARVING OUT A WINNER
Justin Burnett/Whidbey Examiner, Coupeville
‘Nice warm light, good close-up of subject, very good composition,’ the judges wrote. For his image of canoe restoration by Gordon Grant, a master woodcarver, Justin Burnett of the Whidbey Examiner, Coupeville, won first place in Color Feature in Circulation Group I of the 2013 Washington Better Newspaper Contest.
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Aberdeen’s legend Ryan dies at 86
Sportswriter also worked tirelessly for community Daily World, Aberdeen
ay Ryan, a Daily World sports writing legend who covered Twin Harbors athletics for nearly 50 years, died Oct. 21 in Tumwater. Ryan, who had been battling cancer for several months, was 86. “For me and thousands of others whose lives he touched in a half-century on the Harbor, Ray Ryan will always be unforgettable,” former Daily World editor and publisher John Hughes wrote in an email. “He was a big-time talent in a small town that he adopted as his own. What a blessing that was. We may never see another one like him.” Ryan was known for his passion for sports, his encyclopedic knowledge of Twin Harbors athletics and a vivid writing style often laced with sarcastic humor. A stickler for precise language, he often consulted a newsroom dictionary before using unfamiliar terminology in a story. “While it’s impossible to quantify how much one person’s life may or may not have influenced another’s, I am certain that Uncle Ray influenced mine,” said former Daily World Entertainment Editor Jeff Burlingame, an Aberdeen High graduate who is now an award-winning author of biographical books. “Growing up reading his material certainly shaped my career pattern.” “His knowledge of Harbor sports was second to none,” added Hoquiam track and field coach Tim Pelan. “He was just a wealth of information.” But Ryan’s impact went far beyond his game stories and columns. He was exceptionally active at St. Mary’s Catholic Church throughout his 48 years on Grays Harbor, serving as a lector and usher and volunteering on many other church projects. An avid track and field follower, he founded the Grays Harbor Greyhounds youth summer track club that toured the Northwest for many years. “For me, that is what got me to love track and field,” his son Mick, a member of the Aberdeen High Hall of Fame and later the coach of an Olympia High School state championship track team, recalled in 2001. “Those meets were our summer vacations. My dad would take kids from Hoquiam, Aberdeen, Montesano, Elma and the beaches to meets all over Washington, British Columbia and Oregon and it was a great way of seeing different parts of the state.” Along with the late Hoquiam High coach Bill Jamison, Ryan was largely responsible for reviving the Grays Harbor All-County Track Meet.
Although inextricably linked with Grays Harbor sports writing, Ryan was a Seattle native who had never written professionally before moving to the Harbor in his late 30s. A graduate of Lakeside School in Seattle, he attended Stanford University and earned a degree in business administration from the University of Washington. Following a pair of military hitches with the Navy and the Air Force, he began a career as a bank clerk in Seattle. Unhappy with that profession, he applied for a Daily World opening as an East County reporter and was hired in 1965. “He left a boring job as a Seattle banker to follow his first love — sports writing — in a small town,” Hughes remembered. “In nothing flat, his byline translated to ‘read me.’ He wrote quickly, with flair and wit ...Whenever Ryan wrote ‘And then Mo Mentum swapped jerseys,’ it never seemed like a cliche.” Ryan succeeded Robbie Peltola as sports editor a few years later, but voluntarily relinquished the editor’s job in the mid-1970s to focus primarily on writing. Retiring as a full-time writer in 1992, he agreed to continue as a part-time correspondent for “a few years.” Those few years turned out to be nearly as long as his career as a fulltime employee. He covered occasional games and wrote periodic columns through early 2013 and had intended to continue his weekly high school football prediction column this fall until his condition worsened. Ryan’s writing attributes included a flair for nicknames. He first dubbed Elma High School basketball sharpshooter Rod Derline “The Rifle,” a moniker that stuck through Derline’s professional career with the Seattle SuperSonics. His initially tongue-in-cheek designations for Hoquiam High School’s gym (Hoquiam Square Garden) and track (Sea Breeze Oval) also became universally accepted. A fine all-around athlete in his youth, he returned to competition following his retirement. He won a slew of medals in senior track meets — although he puckishly acknowledged that he tended to seek events in which there were no other entrants. Inducted into both the Aberdeen High School Hall of Fame and Grizzly Alumni Association Roll of Honor, Ryan received another tribute in 2011 when he was named the Polson Museum’s Pioneer of the Year. “When you think about the number of individuals who you’ve had some part in their lives ... you’ve made an impact here in a major way,” Polson Director John Larson told Ryan.
EYES ON THE PRIZE
TJ Martinell/Covington-Maple Valley Reporter
A cross country shot by TJ Martinell of the Covington-Maple Valley Reporter earned first place from judges of the 2012 Washington Better Newspaper Contest’s Sports Action category among newspapers in Circulation Group III. Judges remarked, ‘Contemplation, concentration and endurance are all captured on the face of the foreground figure.’
Writer ‘made a difference’ N Herald, Everett
ellie Robertson wasn’t born in Monroe, but with writing and a love of history she made that community her own. She was the author of two history books, “Monroe: The First 50 Years 1860-1910” and “Monroe: The Next 30 Years 1911-1940.” For many years, she wrote for the Monroe Monitor & Valley News, where her newspaper column was called “Nellie’s Knickknacks.” Late in life, she turned to fiction. Regional history, including the 1910 avalanche that slammed two trains and killed nearly 100 people in the Cascades, figures in her novels, among them “Wellington Wisdom” and “Beyond Wellington.” “She wrote her first novel when she was 70. She always wanted to do it,” said Billie Wayt, Robertson’s daughter. A native of Olympia, Robertson died Nov. 21 at a care facility in Lacey. She was 86. Robertson retired from the Monroe Monitor in 1992. She had moved to Monroe in 1972 with her second husband, Bill Robinson, who is now deceased. About 10 years ago, she returned to her hometown of Olympia to be near family. Wayt lives in Olympia and Robertson’s son, Bob Wagner, is in Pierce County. “I remain in awe of her,” said Louise Lindgren, an historian who lives in Index. Lindgren said she admired Robertson’s ability to push on from her “Knickknacks” column “to doing the sort of journalism that really made a difference.” “She tackled some complex issues,” Lindgren said. “And she wrote wonderful fictional stories
Nellie Robertson’s history books, “Monroe: The First 50 Years 18601910” and “Monroe: The Next 30 Years 19111940,” are available for $20 each. Information is online at www. monroehistoricalsociety. org
based on historical happenings.” Lindgren is retired after serving as Snohomish County’s senior planner for historic preservation. With others, Lindgren has been involved in the Snohomish County Women’s Legacy Project, a collection of profiles of notable area women. One of those legacy project profiles, written by Teri Baker, is titled “Nellie Robertson: A Lifetime of Writing.” In interviews with Baker, Robertson recalled that at 12 she was going door to door “getting the news” and writing a neighborhood newspaper. Her first job at the Monitor was composing ads, but according to Baker’s article she was writing a recipe column within a week. Her years in Monroe were interrupted when in 1976 her husband took a job in Petersburg, Alaska. At the Petersburg Pilot newspaper, she was a feature writer, typesetter and circulation manager. When the couple moved to Dillingham, Alaska, she worked as an office manager. She was eventually elected mayor of the town, before her husband’s retirement brought them back to Monroe. “She was a jack of all trades,” Lindgren said. Renne Duke, of Snohomish,
is retired from the Monroe Monitor, where she and Robertson developed a longtime friendship. “She was always so patient,” Duke said. “She trained many of the reporters on computers. I’m sure computers were not there when she first started. She learned every one of them, and she taught every one of us.” Duke said her friend liked history and loved to write. “Her history books, when I was at the Monitor, we used them every week for reference.” Wayt said that after moving south her mother lived at the Boardwalk Apartments, a senior living facility in downtown Olympia. “She had a great wit, always throwing out one-liners. She called it ‘wrinkle ranch,’” Wayt said. Her mother died after a six-month battle with pancreatic cancer. “With her books, she always did extensive research. She looked at old newspaper clippings. It was just really fun to read,” Wayt said. Robertson was proud of an “honorary doctorate” awarded by doctors at Valley General Hospital in Monroe in recognition of her articles covering health, Wayt said. “She didn’t have a degree at all,” said Wayt, who described her mother as an avid reader. “She hooked in anywhere she went. That was just her,” Wayt said. “Her glass was always half full.” Lindgren also saw Robertson’s upbeat approach to life. “She had a great sense of humor, and an ability to bounce back,” Lindgren said. “She had hardship in her life, but she never dwelled upon that. I look for real role models, and she was one of them.”
Published on Dec 26, 2013
January 2014 issue of newsletter for Washington Newspaper Publishers Association and Allied Daily Newspapers of Washington