Public access is a critical trust issue | Letters | May 29
May 29, 2009 · 4:07 PM
City administrator Mark Dombroski is scheduled to become our acting city manager when the election results are certified on June 3. He seeks to hold this position following what hopefully will be a nationwide search for the right person for the job of managing our city.
The election results are a clear mandate for transparency and citizen access to our government. Thus, our new city manager will be expected to, among other things, demonstrate a history of commitment to citizen access to a transparent government.
Dombroski’s record established that he has failed in this regard. Readers need only look to the Review’s Sept. 17, 2008 article (“The price of information too much for some”) to understand the apparent contempt Dombroski shows for Washington’s open Public Records Act (PRA) and citizens who have attempted to participate in our local democracy by using this law to keep our government honest and our community safe.
Open government is the public policy of our land and the PRA expressly states that this public policy must be promoted “...to ensure that the public interest will be fully protected.
When the State Legislature passed the act 35 years ago it stated: “The people of this state do not yield their sovereignty to the agencies that serve them. 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 people insist on remaining informed so that they may maintain control over the instruments that they have created.”
Dombroski’s response to our citizenry’s active use of the act was to commission a study. Dombroski’s study results show that of the similarly sized cities he chose to commission for review, only the citizens of Sammamish made more public records requests than our citizens.
Dombroski and Mayor Kordonowy then used the results of this study to complain to the press that complying with the act was too “burdensome” and “expensive.” (Complying with the PRA may indeed become “too burdensome” and “too expensive” when the city utilizes the time and resources of its own legal counsel and other lawyers to block access to requested public records that should be readily disclosed pursuant to the PRA.)
Dombroski expressed hope in last week’s Review (“What next for island’s new government?”) that the focus of our change in government would in large part remain on how the city responds to its citizens. I agree.