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Former Kirkland Reporter editor wins Key award from Washington Coalition for Open Government
Former Kirkland Reporter editor Carrie Rodriguez received the Washington Coalition for Open Government’s Key Award for winning disclosure of public information that Federal Way city officials had wrongly withheld. Rodriguez is currently the editor of the Federal Way Mirror.
Coalition President and Kirkland City Council member Toby Nixon presented the award to Rodriquez on April 24.
In February, when the council was considering applications from 20 candidates to fill a council vacancy, the city initially released only their names. The city declined to release the application packets, contending that council members are city employees and such “employment” applications are exempt from disclosure.
Rodriguez consulted attorneys, including the state attorney general’s ombudsman for open government, and confirmed that council members are not legally city employees; such application materials are public record that it must be disclosed. She published a column challenging the city to release the information. A week later, the council held a special meeting and voted to release the application packets.
“Carrie Rodriguez served the community well by insisting on disclosure of information that should be routinely provided to any citizen who asks for it,” Nixon said. “Citizens need this kind of information to evaluate candidates for public office.”
The Key Award recognizes individuals or organizations that have made a notable contribution to the cause of open government. The coalition is a statewide nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that advocates for the people’s right to access government information. The coalition stands for the principle that transparency and public participation are essential building blocks of good government.