Editor's Note

The FOI Advocate is a compendium of ideas, edited story excerpts and other materials from a variety of Web sites, as well as original concepts and analysis. When the information comes directly from another source, it will be attributed and a link will be provided whenever possible. The blog relies on the accuracy and integrity of the original sources cited. We will correct errors and inaccuracies when we become aware of them.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Secrecy Pops Up In The Strangest Places...

Like the TriCity Animal Control operation in Washington State...

The state Court of Appeals, in an opinion that could affect record-releasing policies of animal control operations across the state, has ruled Tri-City Animal Control acts as a public agency and is subject to the Public Disclosure Act.

The decision stemmed from a 2005 case in which Leonora Clarke of Kennewick requested euthanasia logs from Tri-City Animal Control.

Animal Control denied Clarke's request for the records, claiming it didn't have to comply with public records laws because it wasn't a public agency.

Clarke sued Tri-City Animal Control and the Tri-City Animal Control Authority -- an interlocal cooperative of Pasco, Kennewick and Richland that administers the animal control contract for the cities.

Superior Court Judge Cameron Mitchell dismissed Clarke's case, concluding Tri-City Animal Control wasn't a public agency.

Clarke appealed, and the Appeals Court reversed Mitchell's decision.

"... (W)ere we to conclude that TCAC is not a functional equivalent of a public agency, we would be setting a precedent that would allow governmental agencies to contravene the intent of the PDA and the Public Records Act by contracting with private entities to perform core government functions," Appeals Court Judge Debra Stephens wrote.

...Clarke's request was in line with concerns he had about how Tri-City Animal Control kills animals.

Animal control contractors should document the animal's identification number, the date of the euthanasia, initials of who administered the drugs and the dosage used, he said.

"The purpose of obtaining the records is to really see what's going on when these animals are being killed using public moneys," Karp said.

Seems reasonable enough to me.

No comments: