It’s been nearly 40 years since Washington voters, seeking to make government more transparent, overwhelmingly passed a law requiring cities, counties and state agencies – with some exceptions – to open their meetings and files to the public.
Want to see how much everybody’s paid? You can. Want to see a mayor’s e-mails? They’re available. The travel receipts turned in by a city councilman on a trip? Help yourself.
Government officials who wrongly deny requests face fines of up to $100 a day. The small city of Mesa, north of the Tri Cities, was fined $246,000 for wrongly refusing records to a former mayor in a dispute that began in 2002. City leaders are considering bankruptcy, the Associated Press reported.