WCOG sues UW over public meeting violations.

WCOG Sues UW Over Alleged Public Meeting Violations

 

On the 45th anniversary of Washington’s Open Public Meetings Act, the Washington Coalition for Open Government filed a lawsuit in King County Superior Court against the University of Washington Board of Regents and eight of its members, alleging OPMA violations that hampered public oversight of the university’s actions.

The lawsuit alleges that the regents chose a new university president outside of a public meeting, and then held a sham public vote confirming a decision that had already been made.

Although the Open Public Meetings Act provides for fines for knowing violations, none has been assessed in a published court opinion in the 45 years since its adoption. However, WCOG’s lawsuit argues that eight UW regents had the “knowledge” necessary for penalties, based on its previous action. Less than six months before the Board of Regents picked a UW president in a closed meeting on October 7, 2015, the Board was rebuked by a King County judge for repeatedly violating the open meetings law from 2012 to 2014.

“There is simply no excuse for repeat offenses, especially when it comes to hugely important decisions such as hiring a university president,” said Toby Nixon, WCOG president. “This case illustrates the importance of a penalty provision that has real teeth.”

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