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Government Transparency and the Global Pandemic

Don’t Let Coronavirus Kill Accountability

The Coronavirus pandemic may prompt new ways to interact, conduct business and govern, access to government information should not be a victim.

Even as Washington counties emerge from restrictions on interaction, many government agencies are operating from a distance. Constant vigilance is required so our elected officials remember that transparency is the cornerstone of our democracy.

The Washington Coalition for Open Government has adjusted – but not abandoned! – some of our practices and services. We’re also still here as a resource when government agencies skirt public records and open meetings laws – even when they’re just trying to say safe, they must remain accessible.

Here are some of our panedemic-era resources and actions:

  • A statement from the WCOG Board regarding transparency in the age of Covid
  • A Virtual Speakers Bureau to meet via videoconferencing with classes, civic organizations and other online learning events.
  • Our annual Madison Andersen Bunting Awards event will be virtual this year and open to all. It will still occur on Friday, Sept. 18, 2020.
  • Nominations are due July 1 for those annual awards recognizing efforts to promote government transparency. The James Madison Award honors long-term commitment to the cause of open government. The James Andersen Award recognizes extraordinary commitment to WCOG efforts. The Kenneth F. Bunting Award celebrates outstanding journalism involving use of sunshine laws.  (Follow the links for more information and nomination forms.)
  • The 2020 Scott Johnson High School Essay Contest entry deadline has been extended from to August 21, 2020. Click on Awards/Essay Contest for all rules and entry requirements.
  • A message from Executive Director Juli Bunting on WCOG’s 2020 priorities

As always, the Coalition survives because of donors and supporters like you. If you are able and willing, contributions during this difficult time are greatly appreciated. If you believe in the importance of government transparency, join us. Become a member or donor and help us keep our leaders’ feet to the fire when it comes to openness in government.

Click below to see the 2019 Winners of WCOG’s Madison-Andersen-Bunting Awards:

Judge William Downing
Former King County Superior Court Judge & Former
Chair of the Bench-Bar-Press Liaison Committee

For his long-term commitment to the cause of open government. Downing served as chair of the Bench-Bar-Press Liaison Committee for more than 16 years, mediating numerous disputes that balanced interests involving access to public records.

Elly Walker
former executive director, Washington Coalition for Open Government

Recognized for her care of the Coalition above and beyond its role as her client by receiving the James Andersen Award, given for advancing the efforts of WCOG. Anderson, a former chief justice of the Washington State Supreme Court, was a founding board member of the Coalition.

Eli Sanders
Pulitzer Prize Winning Journalist, The Stranger

For his investigation into online campaign ads in light of Washington state’s regulations and disclosure laws. One result of his reporting of dozens of stories in The Stranger was lawsuits against Facebook and Google by the state Attorney General, and a $425,000 settlement for the companies’ failure to follow Washington access laws – and their decision to stop selling political ads in the state because of its tough disclosure rules.

Transparency and public participation are building blocks of good government.

The Coalition was formed to act as an independent, non-partisan, non-profit organization dedicated promoting and defending the People’s right to know in matters of public interest and in the conduct of the public’s business. The Coalition’s driving vision is to help foster open government processes, supervised by an informed and engaged citizenry, which is the cornerstone of democracy.

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