THE WASHINGTON NEWSPAPER
BACK TO CLASS
Legislature approves open government training bill.
Vol. 99, No. 4 April 2014
Journal of the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association and Allied Daily Newspapers of Washington • www.wnpa.com
Six selected for intern scholarships Five college students, one high school senior chosen for internships
rom a field of aspiring journalists, the WNPA Foundation selected for its internship program one high school student and five college students. Chelsee Johnson, a senior at Omak High School nominated by publisher Roger Harnack, will intern at the Omak Chronicle. Johnson has an interest in politics and three years’ experience as editor of the school yearbook, for which she takes photographs, writes stories and does page layouts. Alisa Gramann, a senior at the Western Washington University, received the inaugural Bruce A. Wilson & Henry Gay Internship Scholarship. Gramann has worked on school newspapers at Highline Community College,
from which she graduated at age 18, and WWU, where she serves as news editor. She has also freelanced for the Bellingham Herald. From the University of Washington, junior Atoosa Moinzadeh received the Bruce & Betty Helberg Internship Scholarship. Moinzadeh is pursuing a double major in journalism and economics and has interned at the Seattle Globalist, an online publication that covers international connections in Seattle. Internship winner Annie Wilson, a UW senior, has reported for the Seattle Times’ RACE blog, the Seattle Globalist, and myedmondsnews.com. She also has experience as a broadcast reporter on the UW Daily’s Double Shot. Blake Jerome, a junior at Pacific Lutheran University, was awarded the Verizon Northwest Internship
Foundation’s efforts date back 26 years
he WNPA Foundation was established in 1986 by publishers active in Washington Newspaper Publishers Association. A separate organization from WNPA, it is nonprofit 501(c)(3) and builds its scholarship base through donations and a silent auction held during the annual convention of Washington Newspaper Publishers Association. It has awarded nearly 125 internship scholarships to student journalists. Following is a chronology of scholarshipfund donors. See WNPA, page 8
See INTERNS, page 8
A RIOT OF SPRING
Contest site open to entries Some categories, rules changed; new tools added
pring has barely arrived, but now is the time for WNPA publishers to envision the joy their staff will experience Oct. 3 when contest awards are announced at the WNPA convention in Chelan. Please take a moment now to download the contest poster (page 4) from wnpa.com/awards and email or print it for your staff members who handle entries. Entries are due May 9, and April 4 is opening day for WNPA’s contest website, www. BetterBNC.com. Thanks go to Paul Jeffko, president of SmallTownPapers, for again donating use of the site to WNPA as his company’s convention sponsorship. SmallTownPapers is an affiliate member of WNPA and launched the site, now used by more than 140 media groups, in 2007. The Better Newspaper Contest Committee urges publishers to encourage staff to enter the Sportswriter, News Writer, Feature Writer and Photographer of the Year categories. They’ll have a good chance of winning, because those categories draw from six to 10 entries each year. The committee also announces the following changes for the 2014 Contest.
Damian Mulinix/Chinook Observer, Long Beach
‘Captures so many different expressions and encompasses the joy/innocence of childhood,’ the judges wrote. The ballet photograph won first place for Damian Mulinix of the Chinook Observer, Long Beach, in the Best Color Feature Photo, Circulation Group II, in the 2013 Washington Better Newspaper Contest.
Free Press Publishing takes reins in Ritzville
Cheney-based firm completes purchase from publisher
ree Press Publishing Company of Cheney has assumed full ownership of the Ritzville-Adams County Journal, acquiring the newspaper from publisher Stephen McFadden. The acquisition, McFadden
said, will serve to strengthen the Journal. The company publishes the Cheney Free Press and Davenport Times and has Stephen handled the printing of the McFadden Journal for decades. William Ifft, president of
Free Press, said readers and advertisers should expect few changes. The Journal keeps its office in Ritzville with regular hours of operation. Current staff members continue to produce the weekly newspaper and maintain its online presence. McFadden continues as publisher and Katelin Davidson as news editor. “Free Press Publishing Company has the tools and
the resources to ensure the Journal’s future as a community newspaper, “ McFadden said. “This merger will automate the circulation and mailing procedures on Wednesdays. The Cheney Free Press has an award-winning graphic arts department, which will enhance the overall design of the newspaper and its advertisements.” The Journal has been published continually since 1887.
• Advertising Division: Best Ad Insert was retired for lack of entries. • News Division: Blogs were added to the column categories. Enter your staff’s humorous, general interest and topical columns and blogs in the News division. • Web Division: Best Other Internet Feature was redefined as Best Internet Project. The category is for innovative and creative digital-native content such as use of social media, video, interactive graphics and other digital tools.
For photo entries in 2014, consider providing a jpeg and/or a pdf as your entry. WNPA plans to use submitted jpegs to create photoboards for display at the 2014 WNPA convention, Oct. 2-4 in Chelan. Use these specs: 180 pixels/inch, 10 inches on the longest side. Our test file printed perfectly on the color copier at the Federal Way Mirror, which is donating prints.
PDFs and URLs
A new tool, www.realviewdigital.com, is built into See BNC, page 4
We can see our way forward, and future looks bright
he clouds are beginning to part for the newspaper business as we find our way through what has been a stormy few years of recession coupled with advancing technology that allows readers to consume their news in new ways. We just returned from a meeting of our company’s editors, publishers and ad directors representing all 30 daily newspapers in the McClatchy chain. Together, we learned about readership and revenue trends that begin to paint a clearer path to the future for our industry. Our paper, like most, is still seeing slight declines in the number of people buying the printed paper. Just as important as the number of copies sold, however, was another metric we discussed: how much time readers spend with each of our products. The printed paper still rules at about 22 minutes a day, longer than our readers spend on average on our website or
on our phone and tablet sites. That tells us the good, old-fashioned printed paper still garners deep readership, making Karen it a valuable Peterson place for Executive editor, businesses to The News advertise. For Tribune, Tacoma those reasons, the paper will continue to be around for a long time. But emerging trends begin to show us where our readers are headed. The fastest-growing segment of readership is mobile — people reading our news on their tablets and smartphones — which grew an astonishing 70 percent last year. Mobile now makes up more than 40 percent of our digital readership and soon will overtake the number of people reading us on a com-
puter. As you might expect, readers catching a headline or two on their smartphones don’t spend a lot of time reading the news deeply. But readers using our tablet apps and our electronic replica editions of the printed paper are spending almost as much time with our news as the print readers. Those are platforms that play to our strengths — deeper stories about local news that readers can’t find anywhere else — and their popularity is growing. Alongside readership trends, revenue trends (based on publicly available earnings reports from the McClatchy Co.) are showing promise as well. In 2008, circulation revenue — the money we get from subscribers and newsstand sales — made up about 20 percent of McClatchy’s income. In 2013, it was about one-third, and the revenue is growing. Much of the growth comes from a decision more than a
year ago — along with most newspaper companies — to begin charging people who read us online. About 85 percent of McClatchy’s print subscribers now pay us for online news as well. And nationwide more than 30,000 people signed up for digital-only subscriptions. Digital readership numbers dipped for a few months after we began charging, but they’ve bounced back and are higher than ever. The combination of a growing number of readers and an audience willing to pay for news online bodes well for our future. As readers move online, so do advertisers. Digital advertising now makes up about 40 percent of McClatchy’s total. Digital advertising revenue that was not part of a print-advertising buy grew last year by more than 10 percent. At the News Tribune, we’re making plans to improve our technology and our news products this year. We’ll install
new computers this summer that allow us for the first time to create stories for the newspaper and our digital products all from the same system. We’re making changes that allow us to post breaking news more quickly. And we’ll pay special attention to the tablet apps that are becoming so popular. For now, those apps are made up of automatic feeds from our website. But soon we’ll be able to build local news pages for tablets much the same way we build them for the newspaper. Business models, readership trends and new technology all play in the background as we perform our daily duties of delivering the news and keeping a watchful eye on our community. But they’re important to understand so we can keep up with our readers’ changing habits and so we can remain a viable business. We have reason to feel hopeful about both. Reprinted with permission.
Yakima city staff drops openness ball a lot
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 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: Dave Zeeck, News Tribune, Tacoma 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 lRob Blethen, Walla Walla Union-Bulletin Executive Director: Rowland Thompson THE WASHINGTON NEWSPAPER is the official publication of the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association. It is published monthly by WNPA, P.O. Box 29, Olympia WA 98507, 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: anewspaper@ aol.com.
e’re less than three months into 2014, and already it’s been a bad year for open government in the city of Yakima. To recap: • In January, the City Council began to review applications from 13 candidates seeking appointment to the council seat vacated by Sara Bristol. The city released the names of the applicants but allowed them to redact any information they wanted before releasing the applications to the public. Most candidates passed on the chance to keep information secret, though three had some contact info stricken. One had almost everything about him removed from public view; the redacted information included why he sought the job, the experience or training he would bring to the job and what previous experience he had on a city board or commission. The policy prompted the state Attorney General’s Office’s ombudsman to email City Attorney Jeff Cutter that the exemption is to be narrowly constructed. and would “strongly urge a council filling
a vacant elected position to make those applications publicly available to the greatest extent possible.” As a result of the controversy, City Clerk Sonya Claar Tee said future applicants for council vacancies will be apprised that information on their applications stands to be released to the public. • In February, as governments grappled with the state’s implementation of legalized marijuana, the Association of Washington Cities asked the state to share recreational pot taxes with cities. One of the signatures belonged to Yakima Mayor Micah Cawley. One problem: Cawley didn’t sign it; he wanted to talk with other council members first. A city staff member made a wrong assumption and sent an electronic copy of Cawley’s signature to the association. The incident prompted the City Council to call a special meeting at which the members did agree to support the Association of Washington Cities’ request. It also caused City Manager Tony O’Rourke to apologize to council members. “On this matter, we dropped the ball. We’re sorry for that,” he said.
• Later in February, Yakima County Prosecuting Attorney Jim Hagarty announced that Yakima Police Officer Casey Gillette was justified in fatally shooting 23-year-old Rocendo Arias at a car wash in early January. Hagarty detailed his findings, based on an investigation by the Yakima Police Department, in a letter to police dated Feb. 24. Yakima Police Chief Dominic Rizzi Jr. said he didn’t learn about Hagarty’s findings until Feb. 28, four days after the date on Hagarty’s letter. Because of the circumstances of the shooting and limited information being released, public interest in the incident was high. In January, the Yakima Herald-Republic made a formal records request seeking copies of that investigation; they still were not available on Feb. 28. Under state law, once a police report is turned over to prosecutors for review, it becomes a public record, and Hagarty’s letter indicates the city had given him its investigation on or before Feb. 24. Then came further delay, as City Attorney Cutter said his office hadn’t been told that the report had been turned over
to prosecutors and was not ready to release copies of the investigation. Cutter said city attorneys needed time to redact certain information that is legally exempt from public disclosure. The report finally was released to the media and public on March 5. “Clearly a ball was dropped,” said O’Rourke, echoing what he said about the marijuana miscue. “We recognize our mistake.” All in all, that’s a lot of ball-dropping, and the city’s staff is doing a lot of altering, apologizing and recognizing about not being forthcoming with elected officials and the public. An unelected, unaccountable staff — whether out of intention or ignorance or both — has disregarded state law and given the appearance that the city has something to hide. This approach can only serve to feed public mistrust of city government. City Manager O’Rourke has been on the job less than two years, and one of his heavy lifts has been transforming the culture of a staff-driven City Hall. He would do well to undertake an even heavier lift: that of See YAKIMA, page 4
Press crisis brings out best in staff, customers
here’s nothing like a crisis to get the blood circulating and raise the blood pressure! When we upgraded our presses with new motors and drives over the weekend (Feb. 8-9), we had all the confidence in the world that the manufacturer would figure out a way to make the darned thing work. KBA, a family-owned company in Wurzburg, Germany, has been an exemplary business partner since we installed the press in 1999. But there are no guarantees in life, as we discovered. So when Monday afternoon came and went and we were unable to run the machinery, we were concerned.
The stress level went to a slightly higher degree at 7:30 Tuesday morning, when we had to figure out how to print Rufus not only that Woods day’s edition Publisher, Wenatchee of the World World but also some very important commercial print jobs that day. Thanks to our friends in the newspaper industry, we were able in short order to get the jobs scheduled in four locations — Seattle, Yakima,
Spokane and Lewiston, Idaho. We dispatched drivers to those locations, sent digital files and nailed down the specifics of each job. Some of those were delivered directly to the print sites, while others had to be brought back to Wenatchee for inserting work and then sent on to their final destination. Doing that for a day or two is possible, but keeping that pace up for longer than that would have been very difficult. During a crisis, you find out the strengths of the people who work for you and our folks kept their cool and solved issues effectively and quickly. It was a joy to watch. Meanwhile, we disrupted the lives of some of our most
important people — the few hundred kids who deliver the paper, as well as motor route drivers and bundle haulers. We appreciate their good cheer and flexibility. We were also gratified to get a ton of support from our loyal customers. Subscribers were understanding and we received a lot of kind notes urging us to hang in there. It’s enough to bring a tear to the eyes. We are indeed fortunate to be able to serve the amazing communities and people of North Central Washington. It was a humbling reminder that there are lots of wonderful people here. We feel truly blessed. Reprinted with permission.
OPEN ACCESS & LEGAL ISSUES
Open government training bill wins final approval
Legislature passes measure; now it heads to governor The Herald, Everett
raining for the state’s public records and open meeting laws is set to become a requirement this summer for most of those serving in elected office. A bill heading to the governor requires elected and appointed office-holders to undergo training on the cornerstones of Washington’s open government statutes within 90 days of assuming their duties. Senate Bill 5964 covers members of city and county councils, school boards, fire commissions and the multitude of other spe-
cial district commissions. Also, any designated public records official must complete the lessons. State lawmakers, however, are not covered. The legislation, which Gov. Jay Inslee is likely to sign, would take effect July 1. Supporters say training will reduce the chance of violations from innocent mistakes and possibly avert expensive legal battles. “We can ensure that ignorance does not lead that fire district or city or school district into an expensive liability for having denied the public access to records and even worse denied the public access to see what you’re doing,” said Rep. Gerry Pollet, D-Seattle, before the state House approved it March 7. Opponents contend this requirement is unnecessary
Agency meeting agenda bill moves on to governor House Republican Caucus
bill that would require public agencies to post their meeting agendas online at least 24 hours in advance cleared the Senate, 41-6, March 6, and is heading to the governor for his consideration. House Bill 2105, which passed the House of Representatives on Feb. 12 with a vote of 85-13, was sponsored Rep. Brad Hawkins, R-East Wenatchee. The state’s Open Public Meetings Act, first enacted in 1971, only requires public agencies to issue notice of meetings (such as the date, time and location), but does not require those agencies to publish their meeting agendas. “This bill is a modest first step at updating the Open Public Meetings Act to reflect our
online society. Posting agendas online is important to providing more transparency in government,” said Hawkins. “This legislation would help citizens know what a public agency plans to discuss so they could better determine if an issue is important to them.” The measure provides exceptions for government entities without websites or with fewer than 10 full-time employees. Hawkins said newspaper associations and open government advocates supported the bill this session. Once the governor signs the bill, it will become effective 90 days after the end of the regular legislative session. The Legislature is scheduled to adjourn its session on March 13.
because nearly every public official already is instructed on rules governing public records and meetings. Rep. David Taylor, R-Moxee, said there’s no evidence the number of lawsuits will decline and in fact could rise if officials think they know the laws well enough to shun legal advice when questions of compliance arise. “We don’t want to create a belief that then they don’t need expertise,” he said. A 2012 report of the State Auditor’s Office compiled 250 incidents involving violations of varying proportion of the state’s Public Records Act and Open Meetings Law. Some were one-time or infrequent occurrences such as inadequately recording and maintaining public meeting
minutes. There were more significant instances too including board and council members discussing business and reaching consensus through email rather than in an open meeting. There have been several incidents in recent years in which public officials failed to disclose public records and, when challenged in court, forced to pay huge fines for not doing so. Lawmakers cited the auditor’s report in public hearings on the bill early in the session. They also noted the state Supreme Court has held that when deciding penalties for violations of the public records laws, courts can consider whether agency staff received training. “Open government is vital to a free and informed society,” said Attorney General Bob Ferguson, who had requested the
legislation. “This new law will enhance government transparency and ensure that public officials know and understand our state’s public disclosure laws which were overwhelmingly approved by the voters.” Ferguson’s office already maintains the necessary training materials on its website. The curriculum for online training consists of lessons on laws and principles for open government, public records, open meetings and managing and retaining public records. Teaching materials include handbooks, legal guidelines and videos. A sample certificate is available for agencies to replicate to award those who complete the training. The bill passed on votes of 45-2 in the Senate and 66-31 in the House.
Juvenile records bill heads to Inslee
Measure would speed up sealing of court files The Seattle Times
tate lawmakers have struck a compromise on a long-debated bill that would eventually lead to streamlining the sealing of “the great majority” of juvenile court records, in the words of the proposal’s biggest supporter. The state House voted 97-1 on March 11 to approve an amended version of House Bill 1651, after a unanimous state Senate approval March 7. The bill is now on its way to Gov. Jay Inslee. The new version, crafted after contentious negotiations, would no longer designate juvenile court records as confi-
dential but would make it easier for such records to be sealed. Courts would be required to hold regular sealing hearings no later than the minor’s 18th birthday and would be bound to seal the record if the juvenile has completed the sentence; the crime is not a most serious offense, sex offense or felony drug offense; and there is no compelling reason for it not to be sealed. Courts would also have to seal the record immediately upon acquittal or dismissal of charges — which is not currently required. The compromise preserves open juvenile courts, said sponsoring state Rep. Ruth Kagi, D-Lake Forest Park, on the House floor. But at the same time, records “will be sealed for the great majority of youth turning 18,” she said.
“The Legislature views juvenile records as unique,” Kagi said. “They are not the same as adult records, and they need to be treated differently.” Kagi and others had pushed the bill by arguing state residents should not be punished for their whole lives because of mistakes made as kids. Employers, landlords and newspapers had objected to the bill’s original version but agreed to the compromise. During the Senate floor debate, several senators said the idea had survived an intense, years-long negotiation. “This bill is the result of the best that process has to offer,” said state Sen. Steve O’Ban, R-University Place, who sponsored the Senate amendment. “There was quite a bit of involvement, quite a bit of negotiation.”
La Conner paper sues fire district Omak weekly protests La Conner Weekly News
he La Conner Weekly News has filed a lawsuit against Skagit County Fire District 13, accusing the district of repeatedly violating open government laws. The lawsuit, filed March 6, seeks relief for actions by the fire district staff that this newspaper alleges were attempts to thwart its coverage by withholding public documents, delaying release of documents and possibly destroying documents after the newspaper asked for them. Further, the lawsuit alleges that fire district commissioners held closed session meetings on several occasions for reasons that are not allowed under the state’s Open Public Meetings Act. According to Michele EarlHubbard of Allied Law Group in Seattle, the firm representing the newspaper, the state’s Public Records Act mandates the fire district to promptly turn over records when requested. The alleged stonewalling began the day our reporter asked for copies of lawyer bills generated by an investigation of then district Secretary Deborah McFarlane’s
harassment complaints against Commissioner Doug Avery. Commissioners Chuck Hedlund and Jim Grove, who at that time comprised the majority vote on the three-member board, released a nine-page “Confidential Investigative Report” based on interviews with McFarlane, Hedlund, Grove and Fire Chief Roy Horn and his wife Maggie Horn, the district’s administrative assistant. The report was released on October 15, the day before the ballots were mailed out for the November election. Grove was seeking re-election. It was apparent that if he was defeated, the dynamics of the three-man board could shift and put Commissioner Avery in the new board majority. The report Grove and Hedlund released upheld all of McFarlane’s accusations of harassment and even stated that she and Maggie Horn were afraid of Avery. Everyone interviewed in the report against Avery was campaigning for Grove at the time. And that’s what got our attention. We wanted to know how
much taxpayer money the district spent to attack Avery during an election that had the potential to change his status on the threeman board from odd man out to a member of a new majority. We requested copies of the lawyer bills three times, and each time we were told they didn’t exist. We were then told that the district’s insurance company handles such matters. When we asked for a copy of the insurance claim, we were told there was none. To find out who was paying the lawyers, we asked for all communications pertaining to the McFarlane-Avery matter. About a month later, we received nearly 200 pages of documents consisting of multiple copies of our own emails and letters and multiple copies of meeting minutes. Another huge installment that arrived in January consisted almost entirely of meeting minutes and agendas we had requested. Grove was defeated in the Nov. 5 election by farmer Arne Fohn, who was set to take office in January. On Nov. 12, the board went
See NEWS, page 4
board selection process Omak-Okanogan County Chronicle
he Three Rivers Hospital board of commissioners in Brewster paused its CEO search process early Feb. 20 after discussions with legal counsel and state officials. “We have the process out of order,” Chairwoman Vicki Orford said. The board set a new special meeting at 8 a.m. Feb. 25. “We’ll convene, then move into executive session,” Orford said. “We have reviewed this with our counsel and the state attorney general.” “It’s your opportunity to look at all the candidates collectively,” hospital CEO O.E. “Bud” Hufnagel said. “You’ll come back into the public meeting. Then it’ll be up to the board to say you want to cut the number ... and these are the individuals. “You won’t be making any decisions in executive session. That has to be done in public.” That’s exactly what the
Chronicle wanted to happen, Chronicle Publisher Roger Harnack said. The newspaper had challenged the process after commissioners reviewed resumes and left notes on each for Orford, who then previously announced the board had cut the applicant list to five semifinalists. Such an action is a violation of state law under Revised Code of Washington 42.30.60, which states, “No governing body of a public agency at any meeting required to be open to the public shall vote by secret ballot. Any vote taken in violation of this subsection shall be null and void, and shall be considered an ‘action’ under this chapter.” “The hospital board should be commended for taking a step back and making sure the proper process was followed,” he said, giving credit to Orford and Hufnagel. “We are just reiterating what we’ve already done, just doing it in the right sequence,” Orford said.
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into a closed session. When they emerged, Commissioner Hedlund and outgoing Commissioner Grove approved employment contracts for McFarlane and Maggie Horn to give them each two years of back pay for vacation, bereavement and sick leave and guaranteeing them each 12 months pay if they were fired. Avery voted against that deal. The day those contracts were approved, with several copies of them around the table and a working copy machine in the next room, the newspaper asked for copies. McFarlene said to come back in two days. When we came back, the district refused to provide the contracts. The reason given was that the provisions for back pay for time off for the parttime employees who previously had no vacation time proved to be illegal. Also, we were told the contracts we requested were to be destroyed. The newspaper believes that the district racked up three violations of state law on the contract issue: holding an illegal closed meeting, withholding public records, and destruction of public records while a request was pending.
In January, after Arne Fohn took office, and about three months after we first requested the lawyer bills concerning McFarlane’s allegations against Avery, the district turned over some of its attorney invoices. An invoice dated Sept. 30, 2013 had a hand-written date indicating it wasn’t received until Nov. 14; an invoice dated Oct. 31, 2013 was marked with a hand-written “received” date of Dec. 16. The invoices also show that the district ran up more than $700 in attorney bills in October having its lawyer help craft responses — mostly denials — to our records requests. The State Attorney General’s Office, the Washington Coalition for Open Government and several other agencies provide free training and advice to government bodies on the state’s open government laws. Should the newspaper prevail in this case, the district could be required to pay many thousands of dollars in fines. The law allows penalties of $100 per day per document for each day of improper delay or denial of access. Attorney bills on both sides are sure to exceed the fines.
This newspaper has no desire to punish the district’s taxpayers with huge penalties and costs for lawbreaking by some of the district’s staff members. Therefore, our settlement offer requests that the commissioners and staff receive regular training in open government laws, stop withholding public documents and pay $24,500, most of which will pay our attorney bills and court costs. Should the district accept the settlement, the newspaper would end up with $3,750, which we will donate as follows: La Conner Boys & Girls Club, $1,000: La Conner new library building fund, $500; the town’s fund to develop the new waterfront park, $500; La Conner volunteer firefighters, $500; Washington Newspaper Publishers Association Foundation fund for reporter internships, $500. The newspaper would keep $750 to help pay for wasted reporter time, copying fees they charged us for hundreds of pages of meeting minutes and multiple duplicates of documents that included our own emails and records requests, and future copying fees.
initiate a trouble ticket.
Sullivan, Port Townsend Leader; Rudi Alcott, Federal Way Mirror; Sara Bruestle, Mukilteo Beacon; Seth Long, Sound Publishing Inc.; Don Nelson and Darla Hussey, Methow Valley News, Twisp. Contact Mae Waldron with any questions, firstname.lastname@example.org or (206) 634-3838 ext 2.
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BetterBNC.com site for use when creating URLs from pdfs. You can continue with issuu.com if you like.
WNPA will judge the Arizona Newpapers Association contest in June, and judges will earn a credit toward entry fees. Register at wnpa. com/events The Better Newspaper Contest Committee includes Chair Patrick
For technical help getting logged in, making entries and general use of the BetterBNC platform, please use the “Contact BetterBNC” button at www.BetterBNC.com to
2014 WNPA Better Newspaper Contest April 4 May 9 June 6 Aug. 6 Oct. 3 Rules Entries
Begin submitting entries on BetterBNC.com
Deadline for submitting Regular Entries and General Excellence
Deadline for submitting Tourism/Community Guide Special Sections
Announcement letters mailed to publishers whose staff have won awards
Winners announced at WNPA 127th annual convention, Chelan
Download Category List and Rules at www.wnpa.com/awards/
Upload entries at www.BetterBNC.com, produced by SmallTownPapers
• Contestant Managers who submitted entries last year can use the same email and password as last year; use the Forgot Password link on www.BetterBNC.com if needed. Contestant Managers submit entries and also control which staff members at a newspaper are authorized to submit their own entries. Contestant Managers can see and edit all the newspaper’s entries and account information. • If your Contestant Manager from last year is no longer at your newspaper and you need the account email changed to a new person, contact Mae Waldron. • If no Contestant Manager was active at your newspaper last year, create a Contestant Manager account by first logging in as a Contestant using use the temporary password bnc (lowercase). • Authorized Entrants who submitted entries in 2013 can use the same email and password information as last year; use the Forgot Password link on www.BetterBNC.com if needed. New Authorized Entrants receive an email from BetterBNC.com asking them to validate their email address. Once they have done so, Authorized Entrants can log in and begin submitting entries. Authorized Entrants can see and edit only the entries they submit themselves.
• Upload all entries as PDF, JPG, PNG, TIF or via URL to www.BetterBNC.com. The maximum file size is 5 MB. Please use www.issuu.com or www.realviewdigital.com to enter special sections and large, multi-page entries. www.realviewdigital.com has been built into the BetterBNC.com site. • Please don’t submit both URL and PDF of the same entry. It confuses judges. • For photo entries only in 2014, consider providing jpeg and/or a pdf. WNPA plans to use submitted jpegs to create photoboards for display at the 2014 WNPA convention, Oct. 2-4 in Chelan. Our test file at 180 pixels/inch, 10 inches on the longest side, printed perfectly on the color copier at the Federal Way Mirror, which is donating prints. Please use these specs for jpegs: 180 px/inch, 10” on longest side.
• For technical help getting logged in, making entries and general use of the BetterBNC platform, please use the “Contact BetterBNC” button at www.BetterBNC.com to initiate a trouble ticket. • For help with rules, eligibility and entry fees please contact Mae Waldron.
General Excellence participation is a member benefit. There is no fee. Submit all issues published in both the week of Feb. 10 and the week of Feb. 17, 2014. Include special sections and the classifieds. You may wish to create separate pdfs/urls for the newspapers and special sections distributed with these two weeks’ newspapers.
Regular Entries: April 1, 2013 – March 31, 2014 Tourism/Community Guide Special Sections: June 1, 2013 to May 31, 2014
ENTRY FEES: $6.50/entry for Group I, $8.50 for Groups II & III, $9 for Group IV PO Box 29 Olympia WA 98507 • www.wnpa.com • t 206.634.3838 ext 2 Contact Mae Waldron, email@example.com Revised 3/14/14
Aberdeen loses former publisher Langeliers at 83 Daily World, Aberdeen
ormer longtime publisher of the Daily World Duane Langeliers died Jan. 31 at his home in Arizona. He was 83. Langeliers’ family, friends and former colleagues remember him as a kind, jovial, hardworking man who was dedicated to the quality of the newspaper and the betterment of Grays Harbor. “Besides being a first-class, all-around newspaperman, Duane Langeliers was a true gentleman,” said John Hughes, former editor and publisher of the Daily Duane Langeliers World. “It was a privilege and joy to work for Duane because he understood every aspect of the business and exuded class. He knew by name every person at the paper—from motor route driver to classified ad clerk; from rookie reporter to circulation manager. ‘We’re all part of the same team,’ was his mantra. And he meant it.” Langeliers came to the Daily World in 1978, and worked as publisher until retiring in 1996. He was an accountant by trade, and got his start in the newspaper industry as business manager of the Vallejo Times Herald in Vallejo, Calif. Although Langeliers came from the business side of the operation, Hughes said his former boss was always focused on covering the community in the most fair, ethical way possible. “He was a very well-read man who had very strong opinions about the value of the news he printed,” Hughes said. The former publisher’s professional success extended farther than the Daily World’s circulation area. He also served as the regional manager for the newspaper’s former owner, Donrey Media Group, Hughes said. He oversaw newspapers from Northern California to Hawaii. He was also dedicated to community service, working with United Way of Grays Harbor and the Chamber of Commerce, Hughes said. Langeliers lived in Aberdeen for several years, but moved to Montesano after marrying Caroline Langeliers in 1991. She died Oct. 27, 2013. “They had a wonderful, wonderful relationship,” said stepson Patrick Wadsworth. “You could tell they loved each other so much.” The couple owned a house in Mesa, Ariz., and would travel there each winter. After his wife died, Langeliers decided to spend the rest of his life there. Langeliers was born in the Midwest on June 15, 1930, and later lived in Arizona and Las Vegas. He is survived by four children from his first marriage — Bob, Sue, Carole and Jim — and several grandchildren. “Duane was just the best guy,” Wadsworth said. “Anyone would have been lucky to know him.”
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lifting the veil of secrecy over how city staff operates. He will have as a tool a soon-to-be-state law, assuming signature by Gov. Jay Inslee, that would require public officials and employees to undergo training on the requirements of the Open Public Meetings Act and the Public Records Act. City and county officials opposed the effort on the grounds that local officials already monitor for compliance with open records laws. The Yakima cases prove otherwise. Essentially, city staff needs to go back to school and learn about the intent of state laws regarding government transparency. Its lesson can start with this sentence from the state Open Records Act: “The people, in delegating authority, do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is not good for them to know.” The lesson bears repeating, because when it comes to grading Yakima on public transparency, the city government is flunking. Members of the Yakima Herald-Republic editorial board are Sharon J. Prill, Bob Crider, Frank Purdy and Karen Troianello.
Member Seattle Weekly defamation suit dismissed filed by raps closed Action true-crime writer meetings over critical article The Olympian
member of the Olympia Planning Commission said two recent off-therecord meetings should have been open to the public. The nine-member commission advises the City Council about growth and development in Olympia. Two commissioners had requested informational meetings for Jan. 31 and March 3 with members of the development community. Commissioner Judy Bardin raised an objection to the meetings because one of the participants was developer M-Five Family Limited Partnership, which has an interest in a proposed zoning amendment that is under consideration by the planning commission. The amendment, which targets the Kaiser RoadHarrison Avenue intersection on Olympia’s west side, would increase the maximum size of commercial buildings in that area to 50,000 square feet. In a letter March 13 to the commission, city planner Leonard Bauer said the proposed amendment was not discussed at the two meetings. No quorum of commissioners existed at either meeting. Bardin said the private meetings have compromised the planning commission’s integrity. She said she was invited to the March 3 meeting but did not attend because the public was excluded. In her letter to the commission, Bardin recommends tabling the proposed zoning amendment indefinitely. “The commissioners need to examine whether they want to do the public’s business in the public’s eye,” she told the Olympian. “I just had concerns about the planning commission being able to make a good decision on this.” Planning commissioner Max Brown, who attended part of the Jan. 31 meeting, was surprised by the complaint. He said the meeting began with a warning to not discuss the commission’s current projects and issues. The developer was interested in learning about the planning process, he said. “It was really just a candid conversation about the culture of planning and the culture of development,” Brown said. “People were comfortable with doing this, and didn’t think it was a problem. I thought it was a good conversation.” Olympia resident Bob Shirley also filed a letter to the planning commission about the two meetings. He said the commission is one of the state’s best and has long been a model of transparency. The commission cannot afford to risk negative perceptions about the way it conducts business, he said, because of the long-term effect of its decisions. “Planning commission members are public servants. You should serve the public in view of the public,” he told the Olympian. “When you’re talking about zoning and planning, the consequences can last 50 years or more.”
The Associated Press
judge has thrown out true-crime author Ann Rule’s defamation lawsuit against a weekly Seattle newspaper, finding that an article accusing her of “sloppy storytelling” constitutes protected free speech. Rule, who has written dozens of best-selling books, sued the Seattle Weekly and freelance author Rick Swart over a piece published in 2011. The article criticized her book about Liysa Northon, an Oregon woman who served 12 years in prison after killing her husband. When it ran the story, the newspaper didn’t realize that Swart, then a longtime Oregon journalist, was engaged to marry Northon. Rule said the piece damaged her reputation. King County Superior Court Judge Laura Inveen dismissed the claims in separate rulings Feb. 24 and
Feb. 25. She found that Rule’s lawsuit violated a Washington state law aimed at barring lawsuits that target the legal exercise of free speech and public participation, and that Rule had not established there were any false, defamatory statements about her in the article. The judge awarded Swart and Seattle Weekly $10,000 apiece, not including legal fees, as the state law requires. Rule “was just clearly trying to silence her critics,” Swart’s attorney, Christopher Blattner, said Feb. 28. But Rule’s lawyer, Anne Bremner, said she didn’t believe the state law should apply to an article published in a newspaper and that she anticipated asking the judge to reconsider or filing an appeal. Bremner argued the law only applies “to speech trying to influence the government.” “This statute clearly was not enacted for the purpose of defeating general defamation claims,” Bremner wrote in an email. The lawsuit came amid a long-running feud precipitated
by “Heart Full of Lies,” Rule’s book about Northon. Northon argued that she was a battered spouse and that she shot her husband, pilot Chris Northon, during a camping trip in eastern Oregon in 2000 to protect herself and her children. But Rule’s book “Heart Full of Lies” suggested Liysa Northon had long planned the killing and faked evidence of abuse to cover up her real motive: collecting insurance money and other benefits. Liysa Northon pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was released in 2012. She married Swart in prison in 2011. The Seattle Weekly’s then-editor, Caleb Hannan, said he didn’t learn until after the article was published that Swart and Northon were engaged. In a lengthy editor’s note days after the piece ran, Hannan explained the omission and said he had uncovered several minor mistakes in Swart’s reporting. But he said evidence supported the main argument of the piece, which said Rule had failed to interview some of Northon’s relatives and had
overlooked indications that she was, in fact, a victim of domestic violence. “The article contained innumerable inaccuracies and untruths concerning the testimony and evidence in the trial of Liysa Northon and also included various unfounded personal attacks on Rule,” said the complaint. “At the time ... Swart and Northon were engaged, and any meaningful inquiry by Seattle Weekly or Hannan should have discovered this significant source of bias.” In seeking to have the case dismissed, Seattle Weekly noted that Rule herself invoked Oregon’s version of the state law in winning the dismissal of a lawsuit that Northon filed over the book. If Oregon’s law protected Rule for the publication of the book, then Washington’s should protect Seattle Weekly and Swart for the article, the defendants argued. Rule has written dozens of books. Her 1980 tale “The Stranger Beside Me” detailed her time working on a crisis hotline with serial killer Ted Bundy.
County weighs fee hikes to pay settlement The Columbian, Vancouver
on Benton, director of Clark County Environmental Services, plans to raise fees to pay off a costly settlement the county owes for violating the Clean Water Act. The proposals range from annual surcharges above the $33 a year homeowners currently pay in clean water fees, to special fees for the owners of private roads. One option would even assess a six-figure “litter fee” to the Columbian. None of the options are considered “recommendations,” Benton said at a March 19 work session. “It’s our duty to present as many options as possible.” County commissioners will ultimately make a decision on which proposals to investigate further. The proposals, Benton said, were created by 14 managers within environmental services as a way of generating more money for the clean water program. The terms of the county’s settlement calls for it to pay $3 million over a six-year period to the Lower Columbia Fish Recovery Board. It followed a federal court ruling in June that said the county had violated the law for three years and would be liable for damages. The county’s six-year payment cycle will begin in June 2015. The county is also responsible for paying $600,000 in court fees. That money is due later this spring. The terms of the settlement also require the county to bring its clean water program into compliance with state and federal laws, which will cost the county in the years ahead. The clean water program is facing a $1.6 million shortfall. Among the options proposed for backfilling the $3.6 million the county owes would be an additional surcharge on home-
owners — as much as $22 for 2015, to as little as $4.50 for the five-year period between 2015 and 2019. The fee increases are necessary, Benton said, to correct mistakes made by the previous board of commissioners and within environmental services itself. In 2008, the county refused to adopt state standards for managing polluted runoff, dismissing them as an unreasonable burden to place on private developers. None of the proposals presented had been vetted by county attorneys, Benton said March 20 in an interview. They include a proposal to charge a $150,000 annual “litter fee” to daily newspapers that are produced and distributed in Clark County with a circulation of more than 28,500. Only the Columbian meets those parameters. The newspaper would be assessed a small fee for every paper printed under the proposal. “Our management team believes that the listed options are within their authority,” he said. “Certainly, if (commissioners) choose any of those options, there will be more work.” One option that was dismissed March 19 as being too complicated was charging fast-food restaurants a litter fee. It would be too difficult to calculate how much potential litter waste leaves restaurants and then assess a fee, Benton said. Newspapers, though, are easy, because they track and publish their circulation numbers, which they use to set advertising rates. “There’s already an auditing system in place for newspapers,” Benton said Wednesday. “You already know how many they put out. One daily paper with a circulation of 28,000 distributes 1.25 million pages of paper a week. It’s a pretty significant amount of litter.”
There are questions, however, about whether a litter tax would be allowed under the law. Ted Gathe, city attorney for the city of Vancouver, said he wasn’t aware of a state law that would allow counties to impose a special fee on a business located inside a city. And, while Benton said newspapers are among the “top five” polluters in the county, that’s debated elsewhere. Brian Carlson, public works director for the city of Vancouver, said he wasn’t aware of newspapers being a “problematic source of litter within the community.” “(Businesses) aren’t causing the litter; it’s people and their practices causing litter,” Carlson said. “Maybe the focus should be on that.” In response to questions about whether the proposal would apply to all county newspapers, not just the Columbian, Benton said that was a policy question
that would be left to the board of commissioners. Commissioner Tom Mielke previously supported a litter tax on newspapers in 2011. It was briefly discussed before the idea was scuttled for potentially not being viable. The proposal comes on the same week that commissioners Mielke and David Madore approved a one-year contract to publish legal notices in the Reflector, a weekly, instead of the Columbian, a move that came against the recommendation of county staff. The decision could cost the Columbian thousands of dollars a year in advertising revenue. Scott Campbell, publisher of the Columbian, said he hadn’t heard of the fee proposal before March 20 but said he would work to fight it if it were imposed. “If I receive a bill for $150,000,” Campbell said, “I doubt I’ll pay it.”
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Court fight over cell phone records closely watched
The News Tribune, Tacoma
oes the public have a right to see Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist’s private phone records if they include workrelated information? On the other hand, does he have a legal right to keep the contents to himself? The questions represent the core of two lawsuits filed in 2011 and 2012 that currently are parked at the Washington state Court of Appeals awaiting rulings. Open-government and privacy advocates are watching closely, sensing a significant test of the line between public records and private interests in the digital age. Heavy legal hitters have joined the debate. They include the Washington Coalition for Open Government, state newspaper publishers, state employee unions, the state teachers union, the state attorney general and Phil Talmadge, a former legislator who also served as a state Supreme Court justice. The suits were filed by Glenda Nissen, a Pierce County sheriff’s deputy. She contends Lindquist retaliated against her and harmed her reputation by accusing her of sending an anonymous death threat to a former employee of the prosecutor’s office. Nissen has repeatedly denied the accusation. She and others were investigated at the time, but the author of the threat was never identified, and no criminal charges were filed in connection with the incident. Nissen subsequently filed
public disclosure requests for Lindquist’s phone records and text messages, believing they could bolster her claim of retaliation. At first, Lindquist voluntarily provided copies of the phone bill, with some information redacted on privacy grounds. Since then, he and county lawyers (as well as Talmadge) have filed briefs opposing additional disclosure, adding more fuel to the legal battle. The early scorecard favors the county and Lindquist. Two Thurston County Superior Court judges dismissed the suits, ruling that Lindquist’s private phone records don’t meet the definition of public records and that the courts have no power to compel their release. Nissen and her attorney, Joan Mell, have appealed the decisions — and the debate has outgrown the original circumstances. “I am concerned about the way the elected prosecutor is using the power of his position. I want to know and I want the people to know how he is conducting business,” Nissen said in a statement provided to the News Tribune. “… He will not produce the text content to me. He is even refusing to give the records to the court to see so that the court can decide to only produce the work-related ones. “He is refusing to be transparent in how he conducts the people’s business. He says he can do this because he used his personal phone for business instead of his county-issued phone.” Lindquist responded with a
statement of his own, referring to details of the original disclosure requests and his original response. “In the interest of openness, the county was authorized to release private phone records belonging to (sheriff’s) detective Ed Troyer and me,” he wrote. “When (Nissen) sued anyway, it became clear that the requests were not about records, but instead an attempt to violate the constitutional privacy rights of public servants, our families and everyone we communicate with. “We are taking a strong stand against frivolous and harassing lawsuits. The county no longer pays off nuisance value claims. … We successfully moved for dismissal and are seeking attorney fees.” Lindquist acknowledges he uses his private phone for work purposes. No county policy or state law prevents him from doing so. County spokesman Hunter George said the county is developing a policy regarding personal devices, but it’s still in the early stages. Lindquist’s phone bill includes records of calls and text messages, but not the content of the text messages, which (theoretically) are held by a third party: the cellphone provider. According to court records, Lindquist identified 16 text messages that might be work-related based on who received them. He says he hasn’t seen the old messages in more than two years and doesn’t remember what they say. Nissen and Mell, along with open-government advocates, have asked the courts to conduct a private in-camera review of the
messages to determine whether they should be disclosed. The sticking point: the cellphone provider would have to supply the messages, and Lindquist, who owns the records, would have to consent to the access. The county and Lindquist oppose the review, arguing it would violate Article I, section 7 of the state constitution (which protects privacy) and the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures. Both sides paint grim, slippery-slope pictures of potential outcomes if they lose the argument. County attorneys and Lindquist say subjecting privately owned devices to public disclosure could open the door to combing through the private phones and computers of all public employees, such as teachers and firefighters. A 2011 ruling by retired Thurston County Superior Court Judge Christine Pomeroy acknowledged that idea, finding the phone bill is not a public record, even if it contains government-related information. “It is not a public record,” Pomeroy wrote. “The private cellphone records of a public elected official or a public employee are not public records. … just because you run for public office does not make you exempt in your maintaining of your right against search and seizure, either under the state constitution or the federal constitution.” Open-government advocates say the practical result of
denying disclosure would allow public officials to run “shadow governments” from private devices while avoiding disclosure. They point to former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who conducted much of her business through a Blackberry, and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who operates in similar fashion. Palin’s phone records were disclosed to the public after a records request — but Alaska’s disclosure laws differ from Washington’s. A legal brief filed by opengovernment advocates and newspaper publishers takes direct aim at such circumstances. “The potential to wreak havoc to government transparency due to new digital technologies cannot be underestimated as new tools emerge that could allow public officials to skirt public records law unless constrained by the courts,” the brief states. “How will the public know if their elected officials act in the public interest if secret text messages direct their actions?” Lindquist said a final answer should come from the Legislature rather than the courts. “If legislators are concerned about public employees using private phones to discuss or text about work, the issue can be addressed by legislation, so long as the resulting laws comport with the U.S. and Washington state constitutions,” he wrote. “For example, while the Legislature likely could prohibit public officials from voting on official matters with private phones, I don’t believe the Legislature could prohibit teachers from talking with a student’s parents on their private phones.”
Technology can threaten government transparency, experts warn
The Herald, Everett
hose who worry about preserving access to Washington’s public records may one day look to Snohomish County for a case study of how easily common digital tools can be used to hide evidence of government misconduct. When voters approved the state’s open records law more than 40 years ago, they could not have imagined that file cabinets stuffed with carbon copies soon would be all but replaced by electronic data accessible from mobile phones and residing in a place called the “cloud.” They also had no way of anticipating the new forms of political mischief that would be made possible. At his desk in the county office where he spent roughly two years as an aide to former executive Aaron Reardon, Kevin Hulten was always just a few clicks from digital cover. He used county computers to create Google accounts under different identities and to send emails under multiple pseudonyms. He demanded records, threatened litigation and urged government investigations of his boss’s political rivals, all without leaving obvious evidence of his county connection. He employed web-based services to further obscure his identity. HideMyAss.com, for instance, made it appear as if he
were accessing the Internet from somewhere in France. On hundreds of occasions, he used the desktop computer in his office to dip into Dropbox. The popular cloud-based file-sharing program was later found to contain a secret stash of records about what Hulten dubbed “black hat jobs.” The trove included background checks on others in county government, online smear campaigns and memos — many drafted during business hours — suggesting strategies for undermining Reardon’s foes. Those documents remained outside the reach of public records requests as long as Hulten denied their existence. The materials were recovered only after Hulten became the focus of a still-unfolding King County Sheriff’s Office investigation that included seizing the computers he used, and searching them using forensic software. In the year since Hulten’s actions were first uncovered, Snohomish County has taken few visible steps to make it tougher for somebody to engage in similar behaviors. The role digital tools played in the case highlights a growing headache for those who maintain computers and records at government agencies around Washington. Even in situations where there is no ill intent, government workers are using computer services and devices that ef-
fectively can take the public’s business private, diminishing taxpayers’ ability to keep informed about what is done in their name and on their dollar. Michael Cockrill, the state’s chief information officer, said some of that is a byproduct of the “consumerization” of information technology. “You as a consumer, when you come to work you still want to use your phone and you still want to use your iPad and you still want to use your mobile computer and not very long from now you’ll want to use Google Glass,” he said. “The proliferation of devices and the ability to store information on each one of those devices, if not properly managed, ends up creating a very hard problem for enterprise document management.” The state’s public records law since 1972 has mandated archiving documents and data for easy retrieval. But public employees, accustomed in their personal lives to using smartphones and other tools, routinely push back when told that retention of government records has a higher priority than their convenience. The tension has been playing out for years, perhaps most frequently with government officials using their private email accounts for public business, said Toby Nixon, president of the Washington Coalition for Open Government. The courts have ruled that
records about government activity that wind up on private computers and digital accounts must be disclosed, but that doesn’t always happen without a fight, Nixon said. “Getting people to produce records that might be a problem for them is always going to be a challenge,” he said. So is getting people at agencies to take responsibility for mishandling records and misusing devices, said William Crittenden, a Seattle attorney experienced in disputes about access to government information. It’s simple: don’t use personal phones and email to conduct public business. “It’s 2014, people,” Crittenden said. Part of the solution is finding technological options that meet needs while also preserving public records, Cockrill said. Take Dropbox. It is a “super useful, consumer-oriented tool” that makes it easy to share documents and files, Cockrill said. But it also doesn’t match the needs of government because individual accounts can’t be easily searched by the agency to retrieve potential government records, nor does it have version control to protect against people altering content, he said. Many agencies around the state recognized the challenges and told workers not to use Dropbox in their government jobs, Cockrill said. “What happened was —
frankly — people used it anyway. Because it was easy, people just used it,” he said. “The right solution to that is to make it easy for them to use the right thing, not make it hard for them to use the wrong thing.” As a recently elected county councilman, Ken Klein of Arlington said the county’s public records training left no doubt about the importance of not mingling personal and public business. No-nos include using private communication tools, such as a personal Gmail account, to discuss county matters, he said.
Exclusive list no honor for law enforcement officers The Daily Herald, Everett
t’s a list that no cop wants to join. Tell a lie. Bend a rule. Get rough with a suspect for the wrong reasons. The consequences can last a career. In Snohomish County, police misdeeds, great and small, can wind up catalogued by prosecutors in what are called Potential Impeachment Disclosure files. The people named in those records — 43 in all, most no longer carrying a badge — often are referred to as “Brady cops.” That’s a nod to Brady v. State of Maryland, the landmark 1963 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that defendants must be told about potentially exculpatory evidence in criminal cases, including questions about police witness credibility. Maintaining those files is an important and at times unpopular function of law enforcement, Snohomish County Prosecuting Attorney Mark Roe said. The case management database at the prosecutor’s office is programmed to automatically flag the officers whenever they surface as witnesses in a case. “A potential consequence of not disclosing something could be the reversal of an important case, even a dismissal,” Roe said. Still, the information about “Brady cops” is not something local prosecutors freely share. For years, they’ve required defense attorneys to agree to court orders placing limits on what they can do with those details unless the information is admitted for use at trial. The prosecutor’s office has been using court rules to keep the files secret, even though records about police misconduct are rarely shielded from public disclosure. Police witnesses occupy a special place in criminal cases. They gather, secure and introduce the evidence that prosecutors rely on at trial. Their dispassionate, just-the-facts testimony can carry extra credibility. Doubts about truthfulness or competency can be devastating. “Brady” questions surfaced late last year as lawyers began preparing for the murder trial of the man accused of fatally shooting 15-year-old Molly Conley along a Lake Stevens roadside in June. Meanwhile, a court battle looms over what jurors will be told about the misdeeds of two fired Snohomish County sheriff’s deputies who 19 years ago played important roles in investigating the fates of two young women near Everett. Patti Berry was stabbed to death; Tracey Brazzel is still missing and presumed dead. Prosecutors say DNA links a convicted rapist to the “cold” cases. The man’s lawyer recently obtained a court order for all records about the former deputies’ misconduct. Neither is listed among the county’s “Brady” cops. The Herald in January got access to the county’s “Brady list” information using state public records laws. That required assistance from Seattle open-government attorney Michele EarlHubbard. She handled resistance from lawyers representing people on the list. One of those named in the files brought a lawsuit, then quickly dropped it. The man was surprised to learn that he was a
“Brady cop,” years after retiring from his police career. His name has since been removed from the files, because he’s unlikely to ever again be called as a witness, Roe said. The prosecutor’s office supplied the newspaper with details about the 43 men and women on the list. Of those, 10 still are working in local law enforcement: six as deputies at the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office, one as a Washington State Patrol trooper and one officer each at police departments in Everett, Lynnwood and Granite Falls. While some on the list engaged in behaviors that led to prison sentences, most are there for more mundane conduct. Examples include being less than truthful about sharing a rumor about a coworker or not being truthful about missing a deadline for filing paperwork about a minor traffic accident. More surprising, perhaps, are the officers who aren’t found in the files. Former Everett police officer Troy Meade isn’t in the impeachment disclosure files even though the prospect of being named a “Brady cop” was one of the grounds that an arbitrator found for upholding his termination. Meade was fired by the city of Everett in 2011, two years after he shot a drunken man seven times from behind. A jury acquitted Meade of murder but stopped short of calling the shooting self-defense. The city found that Meade’s explanations for opening fire simply didn’t measure up. Former Edmonds police officer Daniel Lavely isn’t listed, either. A jury last year convicted him of custodial sexual misconduct, finding that he engaged in sex with a woman he’d detained. Lavely denied sex with the woman but admitted that he lied and falsified records about how much time he spent with the woman. Now serving a year in the Snohomish County Jail, Lavely resigned from his police job about eight months after the May 2012 incident. Neither of those former officers have impeachment disclosure status. Part of the reason for that is they’ve never been nominated for inclusion by the police departments where they worked, Roe said. City of Everett prosecutors maintain their own potential impeachment disclosure files. They don’t list Meade, city spokeswoman Meghan Pembroke said. “Officer Meade had been on administrative leave for two years when he was terminated,
and any open cases involving him had been resolved or dismissed,” she said. “As a result, it is highly unlikely that he will ever be called as a witness. However, it is fair to say that if Officer Meade was still with the police department, he might be given a (impeachment disclosure) designation.” Why they’re on the list The person on the county prosecutor’s list the longest is still working as an Everett officer. He landed there nearly 14 years ago after police supervisors decided he hadn’t been entirely truthful when he claimed to have misplaced an accident report in his patrol car for a month. A sheriff’s deputy, still working patrol, has the distinction of having twice been listed in the impeachment disclosure files; in 2006 for problematic testimony in drunken-driving cases and in 2012 for a lack of candor over his involvement in a child-custody dispute. Another is on the list for having “exacted some street justice” by threatening and assaulting a man after he injured a motorcycle officer in a crash. What happened could be important in a trial because a juror may be convinced the deputy would exhibit bias towards a suspect accused of assaulting an officer, prosecutors concluded. Paul Watkins, a former Lynnwood deputy police chief, is in the files after getting sent to federal prison for stealing thousands of dollars from the department’s evidence room. His dishonesty landed him on the list. Prosecutors also cited honesty as an issue for former Granite Falls police Sgt. Pat White. He was demoted in August after city officials discovered he had a card identifying him as the police chief. An internal investigation also found he hadn’t filed nearly half of the police paperwork he was expected to complete over a number of years. One former deputy was surprised to learn that he was still in the prosecutor’s file, more than a decade and a half after he retired. Another lost her sheriff’s office job after filing paperwork that misrepresented the circumstances of a 2012 fender-bender accident involving her patrol car. She recently was reinstated after binding arbitration. Questions about secrecy Questions about the county’s handling of “Brady cops” came into sharp focus last year when longtime Everett defense attorney Mark Mestel objected to the secrecy order sought by prosecutors who had reason to question the truthfulness of a Lake Stevens police officer. The officer was listed as a
prosecution witness because he had been working the night Molly Conley was killed in an apparently random drive-by shooting. Mestel represents Erick Walker, the Marysville man facing murder, assault and other charges in connection with the fatal gunfire. Prosecutors ultimately dropped former Lake Stevens officer James Wellington from their witness list. He was fired in December after becoming the focus of at least seven internal investigations and for failing a “last-chance” employment agreement. Wellington landed in the prosecutor’s impeachment disclosure files for being less than candid when supervisors questioned him about the severity of his drinking problem, records show. By the time his name surfaced in connection with the Conley murder case, The Herald already had reported about his being disciplined for smelling of alcohol at work and his involvement in a controversial arrest of a Marysville man that led to a $100,000 settlement in a civilrights case. Mestel has practiced law in counties across Washington, but he said he’s never been asked to sign protective orders elsewhere. Such orders don’t stop information from getting out, particularly when it is subject to public records laws, he said. Prosecutors here try to clamp down on information in impeachment disclosure cases as a form of “public relations with the cops,” he said. “The State thinks nothing of airing my client’s dirty laundry, though it has quite a different view of airing the misconduct of police witnesses,” Mestel said. Snohomish County’s approach to impeachment disclosure questions gets high marks from the Washington Association of Prosecuting Attorneys. The state association adopted a model policy last year, borrowing largely from the policies in Snohomish and King counties, said Tom McBride, the associa-
tion’s executive secretary. “Snohomish County has been a pioneer,” he said. Roe said he developed the policies for the prosecutor’s office, working closely with his former boss Janice Ellis, who is now a Snohomish County Superior Court judge. Each year his office sends a letter to local police agencies, asking chiefs and other top administrators for information about officers whose behaviors may make them eligible for inclusion in the files. While many people in law enforcement understand why that’s necessary, “Cops feel very strongly about their reputation being impugned,” Roe said. Getting named a “Brady cop” can figure into being forced out in some police departments. Indeed, the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs supported draft legislation this year that would have allowed the state criminal-justice training commission to decertify officers who have a finding of untruthfulness or are convicted of certain offenses. “We just don’t think those people ought to be law enforcement officers,” said Don Pierce, WASPC’s legislative director and a retired police chief. The bill died in committee after opposition from police unions, according to WASPC. Efforts to make changes in arbitration laws also have met with heavy resistance. In Snohomish County, Roe’s practice is to explain in writing to the officers that the impeachment disclosure designation doesn’t necessarily mean his office won’t call them as witnesses in future cases. Before adding them to the list he gives them an opportunity to make a case against the decision, in person. That’s changed his mind in a few cases. The opposite also has been true, too, he said. It is a rare decision and never made lightly, Roe said. “Most cops, frankly, are doing what we pay them to do,” he said.
CAREER MOVES n Laura Venneri has been promoted from advertising director to general manager of the Reflector in Battleground. She worked as a Reflector advertising consultant for nine years before being promoted to advertising director. Venneri succeeds Steve Walker, who left the newspaper in February. She graduated from Southern Oregon University in Ashland with a degree in marketing and a minor in communications. In her new role, Venneri will be mentored by publisher Christine Fossett of the Chronicle in Centralia and Michael Wagar, editor and publisher of the Nisqually Valley News in Yelm. Wagar is regional executive editor the three Lafromboise Communications newspapers. Venneri and her husband,
Brett, have two children, Tyler, 12, and Ashley, 11. n Quincy native and graphic designer Jessica Blancas joined the staff at the Quincy Valley Post Register. She is a recent graduate of Eastern Washington University, where she earned a degree in visual communication design. Blancas had been working as a freelance designer while in school. She succeeds Oscar Sosa, who left the newspaper to work in Wenatchee. n Justin Brimer is the new county reporter at the Columbia Basin Herald in Moses Lake. Brimer moved from Alabama to Bingen, Ore., last summer to freelance. Previously he had worked in the South for the National Forest Service as a trail maintenance coordinator. He earned a journalism degree in North
Carolina at Western Carolina University, where he covered sports for the college paper. After graduating, he covered a variety of beats, from education and crime to city council, for the Smoky Mountain Times in Bryson City, N.C. n The Seattle Times’ Suki Dardarian has been named senior managing editor and vice president at the Star Tribune in Minneapolis. Dardarian was with the Times for 14 years. During her four years as managing editor, the Times earned a 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News for its coverage of the killings of four police officers and the search for their killer. Dardarian spent two years overseeing seattletimes.com and most recently worked as the company’s top strategist on audience development, digital innovation and
Pioneer selects Johnston as COO Executive formerly oversaw papers in California district
ric Johnston has been named chief operating officer for Pioneer News Group. Previously, he was publisher of the Modesto Bee with oversight responsibilities for the Merced Sun and four weekly newspapers located in California’s Central Valley, all owned by the McClatchy Company. He held key online and interactive positions with the Fresno Bee and Modesto Bee before being named publisher in 2009. While at McClatchy, Johnston earned two McClatchy President’s Awards and two Newspaper Association of America ‘Digital Edge’ Awards. “We’re very excited to have Eric join Pioneer, “said Mike
Gugliotto, President and CEO of Pioneer News Group. “He was the first publisher in the McClatchy Eric Johnston Company to come from the digital ranks and brings with him unique and invaluable experience of both the print and digital side of the business. He’s been involved with a number of industry-changing initiatives, fits our culture well and will be a great match with Pioneer’s management team to help lead our company.” “I am proud to be joining Pioneer News Group, a company that not only has a strong family legacy and commitment, but is also dedicated to community journalism for the
benefit of each and every reader — whether delivered to their mobile device, their desktop or their doorstep,” said Johnston. “I have worked in this industry for more than 20 years, and believe in the mission of the community newspaper. I share Pioneer’s desire to strengthen the industry, to develop new business opportunities and to solidify the foundation of journalism for generations to come.” Johnston is on the boards of the California Newspaper Publishers Association, the Education Foundation for Stanislaus County, Gallo Center for the Arts and Stanislaus Community Foundation. He holds a degree in journalism from California State University, Fresno. Pioneer is a family-owned media company of 26 small and medium-sized community newspapers in Washington, Utah, Oregon, Montana and Idaho.
News, Seattle, was vice president and Miles Turnbull, then WNPA’s executive director, was secretary-treasurer.
published several weekly and monthly newspapers in the Seattle area. In 1990 they sold them to Pacific Media Company. John Flaherty continues to serve in an emeritus role on the Foundation board.
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1988. Bruce and Betty
Helberg Internship Scholarship. The Helbergs met when Betty was taking a journalism class at Mount Vernon High School and Bruce was night editor at the Seattle PostIntelligencer and a journalism professor at the University of Washington. When World War II broke out, the couple was married with two children. Bruce continued to work at the P-I until 1947, when the couple went into partnership in the Kent News Journal and the Renton Chronicle. Bruce served as editor in Renton until 1954, and then went into partnership with Clarence Lafromboise on the Bellevue American, then a weekly. The American was publishing five days a week when the partners sold it in 1982. Betty created the scholarship in memory of her late husband to help journalism students.
1989. The WNPA Foun-
dation awarded its first eponymous scholarship in 1989, when Jay Becker of the Vashon Beachcomber was president. At that time, John Flaherty of the South District Journal and Beacon Hill
1990. Verizon Internship
Scholarship. Howard Voland, publisher of the Monroe Monitor, was serving as Foundation president when the Foundation received the donation that established this internship. Volland was president from 1989 through 1999.
1993. Jim and Kay
Flaherty Internship Scholarship. Jim’s mother, Rhoda Flaherty, founded the Beacon Hill News in 1924. Jim graduated from the UW journalism school in the early 1930s, and he and Kay published the Beacon Hill News and South District Journal in Seattle. Prior to creating this Foundation scholarship, for many years they had offered journalism scholarships to students at Franklin, Cleveland and Garfield high schools, also in Seattle. Jim Flaherty died in 1981 and Kay in 1997. Their son, John, was active in the newspapers from 1963 until 1990. He and his business partner, Denis Law,
2012. Bruce Wilson &
Henry Gay Internship Scholarship. Donations from Wilson’s widow, Merilynn Wilson, and Gay’s adult children, Julie Ormee, Charles Gay and Stephen Gay, funded this newest Foundation internship scholarship. Merilynn Wilson worked alongside her husband, Bruce, during their years with the Ritzville Journal-Times from 1947 to 1958 and with the Omak Chronicle from 1958 to 1982. She died in 2013 and Bruce Wilson died in 1991. Gay, who died in 1999, first published the Buckley News Banner from 1954 to 1964 and then the Shelton-Mason County Journal, where he skewered state and national politicians in his column, “The Gay Blade,” for more than 30 years. He published the Journal from 1966 until shortly before he died.
community engagement. She succeeds Rene Sanchez, who held the position until he was named executive editor this past October. n Rob Smith, editor of the Portland Business Journal, has been named editor of the Puget Sound Business Journal. Before moving to Portland in 2003, Smith spent five years as managing editor and special reports editor at the Seattle-area Journal. He had previously been an editor with the Seattle Times Community News Group. Smith succeeds George Erb, who left the PSBJ late last year. n Susan Jensen has joined the Odessa Record staff, putting her photography and computer skills to work for her hometown newspaper. She graduated from Odessa High School and has two adult
children. n The Port Orchard Independent hired a new advertising sales consultant, Tiffany Walker, who returned to Sound Publishing after some months away. Walker started her advertising career in inside sales classified advertising at the Bainbridge Island Review, another Sound Publishing newspaper, in 2000. She was later promoted to recruitment advertising specialist and continued in that role until this past June, when she moved to Texas to be closer to family. A graduate of Bainbridge Island High School, Walker recently returned to the Puget Sound area and is taking classes toward a degree in business management.
Scripps Howard honors four Times journalists
Three writers win first; photographer places as finalist
hree Seattle Times journalists won first-place awards in the national Scripps Howard contest. Reporter Craig Welch and photographer Steve Ringman won the Edward J. Meeman Award for Environmental Reporting for their series of stories examining the impact of ocean acidification around the Pacific Ocean. The series, called “Sea Change,’’ explained how the lesser-known twin of climate change could affect everything from the food we eat to the Northwest’s economy to the future viability of sea life. For “Sea Change,” Craig Welch is also a finalist in the Food Politics, Policy and the Environment category of the James Beard Foundation Awards. Seattle Times metro columnist Danny Westneat won first place in the Scripps Howard commentary category for a selection of his twice-weekly columns, which take thought-
ful and often provocative looks at life in the Seattle region. Times photographer Erika Schultz also was named a finalist in the photojournalism category. Kathy Best, editor of the Times, said the newsroom was thrilled by the national recognition. “But what makes this particularly gratifying,’’ Best noted, “is the fact that all of the winning work exhibited our newsroom’s ability to accurately and powerfully reflect issues of importance to the Pacific Northwest.’’ The Scripps Howard national awards contest began in 1953. Each winner receives a $10,000 prize. The competition is open to news organizations based in the U.S. and recognizes outstanding print, broadcast and online journalism in 15 categories. The winners were announced in March. Prizes will be awarded in May in Cincinnati, home to the foundation and its corporate founder, the E.W. Scripps Co.
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summer, she wrote press Scholarship. He holds an asreleases and also covered a car sociate degree from Tacoma show for the Mukilteo Beacon. Community College and has Winners arrange their own written for the Mooring Mast internship opportunity through at PLU. While serving with interviews with publishers of the U.S. Army in Iraq, Jerome WNPA-member newspapers. wrote intelligence reports for a In addition to serving the major and managed a squadron 240-hour internship, each of soldiers. Daria Kroupoderova, a fresh- student writes an essay describing the benefits of having man at Shoreline Community been an intern. The stipend of College, received the Jim $1,500 for college students and & Kay Flaherty Internship $1,000 for high school students Scholarship. At SCC’s Ebbtide is contingent on satisfactory newspaper, she manages a paid completion of the internship. staff of nine students, writes stories and works with the design director during production. FIND YOUR 25-HOUR DAY My 50 years on 15 small She has had stories published in publications can help you: Queen Anne-Magnolia News in • sell more ads & subs Seattle and hopes to transfer to • simplify operations UW in the fall. • avoid bricks through your window • start/improve your website Alternate Emmy Leady is a Jay Becker junior at Gonzaga University. Community Consulting While interning at the Mukilteo firstname.lastname@example.org — (206) 790-9457 Chamber of Commerce last