Council President M. Lorena González (Position 9, Citywide), Chair of the Governance & Education Committee, announced her intention this morning to launch a new initiative with City Attorney Pete Holmes in an effort to strengthen public trust and confidence in Seattle’s government, and in response to the Mayor Office’s mishandling of public records:
“Seattle’s strict public disclosure requirements are sacred to transparency, and they should never be evaded for any reason,” said González. “Those requests should not be hard to answer, and they should not be made under pressure from inside the Mayor’s office or any other department. I’m working with the City Attorney to ensure that this entity has all of the powers and authority needed to quickly, and in full compliance with the law, respond to Mayor’s office public disclosure requests.”
To ensure transparency and independence, public disclosure requests for Seattle City Council records are managed by the Office of the City Clerk’s Public Disclosure Unit in cooperation with Legislative Department employees. Requests are not managed by council staff or staff that report to elected councilmembers. “Public disclosure requests for information from the Mayor’s office should no longer be controlled by those that directly report to the Mayor’s office,” added González.
“We take public disclosure – and the laws that govern it – very seriously. I look forward to working together with City Council, and appropriate stakeholders, on this vital issue underlying government transparency,” said Holmes. “I’ve had preliminary conversations with Council President González about improved systems for City record management, and believe enhanced public trust and consistency in record production would be worth the investment.”
“Seattle’s Mayor, no matter who that is, must disclose to the public all information as required by the law to retain and restore public trust in our open and democratic government,” said González.
“Over the next several weeks, my office will work with the City Attorney’s Office to develop a new independent public disclosure entity that will be responsible for researching, reviewing, and releasing in a timely way information requested by the public, including members of the press, regarding the Mayor’s office. I look forward to working with my fellow council members, other relevant stakeholders and the City Attorney’s Office on this new initiative,” González concluded.