Wednesday, July 16, 2008

WSCOG Open Meetings Act Course in Oak Harbor

The Herald and the Washington Coalition for Open Government will present a special program focusing on Washington’s Public Records and Open Meetings laws from 6:30 to 8:30 PM on Wednesday, July 30 at the Oak Harbor Library, 1000 SE Regatta Drive in Oak Harbor.

A panel of expert presenters will fuel the discussion on securing and preserving the public’s legal right to access the records and proceedings of the government agencies created to serve the people of the state. The panelists include: former State Representative Toby Nixon, Oak Harbor City Administrator Paul Schmidt, former executive director of the state Public Disclosure Commission Graham Johnson and Assistant State Attorney General Tim Ford. Barbara Bailey, State Representative from the 10th District will moderate the discussion.

The forum is free and open to all, and questions and comments from the audience are welcome. Representative Barbara Bailey, R-Oak Harbor, represents the 10th Legislative District. She is ranking Republican on the House Community, Economic Development and Trade Committee, and assistant ranking Republican on the House Appropriations Committee. Representative Bailey also serves on the House Human Services and Rules committees, respectively. She is a member of the Washington Tourism Commission, the Select Committee on Pension Policy, the Joint Committee on Military and Veterans Affairs, and the Washington Economic Development Commission. Representative Bailey has been a leader in state government accountability, including sponsoring legislation that would eliminate unnecessary emergency clauses, require fiscal notes be established before bills are voted on in the Legislature, and direct the state auditor’s office to review new state programs and share its findings with the public.

Toby Nixon, current President of the Washington Coalition for Open Government, served as State Representative for the 45th District from January, 2002, through January, 2007. During his term in the legislature, Nixon distinguished himself as a leading advocate for the public’s right to know what its government is doing. He introduced a long list of open government bills and served as ranking member of the House Government Operations committee. As a community activist, Nixon serves on the boards of several non-profit organizations. In his professional life, he works as Senior Standards Program Manager in the Windows Device Platform Group at Microsoft in Redmond; he’s held various positions with Microsoft since January of 1993.

The City of Oak Harbor appointed Paul Schmidt as the City Administrator in November of 2006. Previously, Paul was the City Administrator for the City of Cheney, Washington, for seven (7) years and also Director of Public Works for thirteen (13) years. Paul also served as the Public Works Director in Clarkston, Washington and as a building inspector for Spokane County. All together, Paul has been employed in local government in the State of Washington for 29 years. He was born and raised in North Dakota in a small rural farming community. He graduated from North Dakota State University with a degree in sociology and a minor in political science. In 1992 Paul received a Masters Degree in Public Administration from Eastern Washington University, specializing in public finance and human resource management.

Graham Johnson became the executive director of the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission in July, 1974, when the agency was less than two years old and had just survived several constitutional challenges. He held that position until his retirement from state government in 1993. Graham returned to public service in 2001 to be the non-partisan, non-voting chairman of the State Redistricting Commission. In 2004 and 2005, Graham traveled to India, China and Burma on behalf of the US State Department to lecture on transparency and accountability in government. He has been recognized as a “Distinguished Alumnus” by Eastern Washington University, and was named “Public Employee of the Year” by the Municipal League of King County in 2002. Graham has been a resident of Whidbey Island since 2001.

Tim Ford serves as Rob McKenna’s Assistant Attorney General for Government Accountability. His duties include serving as the “Open Government Ombudsman” to assist the public, and state and local agencies with open-government questions, training, policy, and litigation. He was appointed by Rob McKenna to serve on the Public Records Exemption Accountability Committee with the task of reviewing over 300 exemptions from disclosure of public records, and making recommendations to the state legislature. Tim earned a BA from Rutgers University. He joined the US Navy and served as a helicopter pilot flying the CH-53E in combat support roles. After completing his service he attended and received a JD from Gonzaga University School of Law.

The Washington Coalition for Open Government is a statewide non-partisan, non profit group of individuals and organizations dedicated to strengthening and preserving the public’s right to know what its government is doing. The Coalition has presented a series of similar programs around the state to educate the citizens of Washington on their rights of access.

For more information, contact the Washington Coalition for Open Government, 6351 Seaview Av NW, Seattle, WA 98107-2664, phone 206.782.0393 or by email at

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