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Local officials appointed to Open Government Task Force

Bremerton School Board member Louis Mitchell and Althea Paulson with Kitsap Regional Library were recently appointed to a new task force that will study and make recommendations on the creation of an administrative board to rule on complaints of violations of the Public Records Act and the Open Public Meetings Act, according to the state Office of the Attorney General.

State Attorney General Rob McKenna and state auditor Brian Sonntag teamed up to announce the formation of the task force that will increase access to government information.

"State and local government face a logjam of citizen complaints, costly litigation over the PRA and OPMA and uncertainty regarding potential liability that may require payment of attorney fees, costs and daily penalties," McKenna and Sonntag wrote in a letter to task force appointees.

"Citizens that are denied access to public records and public meetings have no choice other than to go to court and lawsuits may take years to resolve at great costs to private citizens. Going to court to enforce legal rights to access public records and public meetings is simply not an option for many citizens," they stated. "Washington needs an efficient and inexpensive solution to resolve complaints and provide greater access to public records and public meetings while reducing costs to governmental agencies and the public."

The Open Government Task Force will meet 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Oct. 5 and Nov. 2 at the Attorney General's Office in Olympia.

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