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Monday, March 17, 2008

Waking-Up To Possible Public Access Issue (Continued)

(This is the continuation of my earlier blog entitled Waking Up to Possible Public Access Issue In
Federal Way posted here "In Your Neighborhood" - MS)

Perhaps my initial impressions about this issue Federal Way dispute imperils public's right to know ably articulated in a News Tribune editorial March 13, were blunted due to the fact the original story about the sudden departure of Federal Way Municipal Court Judge Colleen Hartl in 2007 broke only days before Christmas, a distracting time for many of us.

Since then, in the able, diligent and persistent hands of reporter Steve Maynard it has morphed from a merely diverting series of accounts calling to mind an afternoon soap into something far more reaching in overall importance and scope.

As it turns out Maynard's reportage March 12 added up to show how a small, superficially diverting basket of local municipal laundry, evolved over time to frame an issue on a higher level with the potential to make at least statewide, some cutting legal, press and public access frontier history.

In this respect, the story calls to my mind a handful of similarly important oddball legal pairings as for example, the late Anna Nicole Smith's very public and contested legal battle for a share of her husband's estate (Marshall v. Marshall) which eventually took her into the hallways of the nation's highest court in 2006. Is this local story a statewide sort of example? On this, I can only speculate...

Aside from its importance to open government and the working press, the issues raised by the Tribune are precisely the variety of which Federal Way citizens need be concerned. While we do not and should not have to stand-over those of whom we elect to govern us, it's evident that the unnecessary expenditures of green (associated fees and costs) not to mention the social and organizational losses that accompany this kind of alleged interpersonal, organizational and acrimonious behavior have already been incurred.

The aftermath of this sorry story as told in the Tribune casts a spotlight on the immediate priority that concerned area citizens set aside the time and energy required to attend to these various issues, and then to clearly communicate their perspectives, opinions, beliefs and expectations to the local courtroom and city players involved.

That declared, News Tribune coverage has been exemplary. If my count is correct, the paper has carried an unprecedented six to seven stories relating to this topic beginning with Gene Johnson's AP story Judge steps down after boasting of affair on January 10, 2008.

On a secondary note, the Tribune's stories are more extensive and complete than any I'm aware which has appeared in any other metropolitan Washington daily and weekly papers that serve town.

And so my fellow citizens, we need not accept this kind of service. If we ignore it, we will have earned it. Heroes, if any, should be praised and elevated. Villans, if any, should be chastised and pot-holed communication pathways speedily repaired because good government and governance is something that we all deserve!

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