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Saturday, April 11, 2009

Wash. closed-door budget meetings may be illegal

Seattle's city attorney, Tom Carr, is concerned that private budget briefings may have violated Washington's open-meeting law, The Seattle Times reported. The law requires meetings of a quorum to be open, but these conversations included no more than four members. Tim Ford, open-government ombudsman at the state Attorney General's Office, told the newspaper that the closed meetings "may comply with the letter of the law, but it sure doesn't meet the spirit of the act."

Seattle City Attorney Tom Carr said the private, closed-door budget briefings between some city council members and the mayor's staff may violate the state's open-meeting law.

Carr joined the Washington Attorney General's Office and the public-policy group Evergreen Freedom Foundation on Thursday in questioning the sessions, which are ongoing as the city prepares to close a $43 million gap in this year's budget.

"I have my concerns about the spirit of the law as well, and I wish that the council would contact me before doing things like this, but they don't always," Carr said.

More here.

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