Rule of Law Applies Even in Skykomish
Fascist Skykomish rule suffered a body blow this past week as Town Officials, King County Deputy Sheriff Mike Janasz and other ‘Select Individuals’ received the Bad News that Washington State’s Attorney General had affirmed that The Rule of Law applies even in Skykomish.
Sky’s continued conspiracies, illegal meetings, illegal ordinances, the withholding of public documents and information and a host of other illegal actions guarantees this will be just the first of many battles in what’s shaping up to be a long, costly war to return American principles and Constitutional rights.
ATTORNEY GENERAL OF WASHINGTON1125 Washington Street SE PO Box 40100 Olympia WA 98504-0100
December 6, 2011The Honorable Fred Black Town of Skykomish 119 4th St N PO Box 308 Skykomish, WA 98288
RE: Citizen Recordings of Public Meetings
Dear Mayor Black:
I was recently contacted by Cate Riley with concerns over an amendment to SMC 2.10.090(2) which read: “Devices such as cameras, video cameras (-unless pre-approved) cellular phones, etc., that in any way distract the meeting are prohibited.” Cate informed me that after the amendment was approved she was instructed to stop recording the public meeting. I reviewed a video of the public meeting where the ordinance was adopted at a link provided by Cate.
The Attorney General’s Office has issued a formal opinion on the rights of the public to record public meetings. See enclosed copy of AGO 1998 No. 15. The opinion concludes that recording devices may not be banned from open meetings because it would be a “condition” to attendance and such conditions are prohibited by RCW 42.30.040. The amendment to the Skykomish Municipal Code does not create an outright ban on recording devices. It purportedly addresses distractions to public meetings created by recording devices. ‘Yet the ordinance appears to require preapproval before a. citizen may record public meetings and that is arguably a “condition” prohibited by RCW 42.30.040.
The Open Public Meetings Act (OPMA) does allow the city council to remove individuals who are disrupting a public meeting where the individual’s behavior actually “render(s) the orderly conduct of such meeting Unfeasible”. RCW 42.30.050. However the mere recording of a public meeting by a hand held recorder is not presumed to be disruptive. Moreover, the OPMA does not permit the removal of persons for a distraction. It only contemplates removal of individuals where an actual disruption prohibits the orderly conduct of the meeting. Absent a clear disruption of the public meeting, the enforcement of the ordinance may lead to an effective ban on recording devices for some citizens or purposes not favored by the city. That result would be
ATTORNEY GENERAL OF WASHINGTONThe Honorable Fred Black December 6, 2011 Page 2
contrary to the Attorney General’s opinion, the OPMA, and potentially implicate constitutional rights.
Portions of the Skykomish public meeting were being recorded by a citizen using a hand held electronic device when the proposed ordinance was discussed prior to its passage. Upon reviewing the video at the link provided by Cate, I could not find any evidence of disruption prior to the adoption of the amendment. The audience as a whole was quiet and only one woman with white hair stood very briefly and respectfully addressed the council when recognized.
The recording is clearly an annoyance or distraction to some individuals. Yet despite the recording, the council has demonstrated its ability to conduct its public meetings in an orderly fashion. For those portions of the video posted on the internet, the recording did not appear to disrupt the council meeting in any way as the council deliberatively discussed the proposed amendment during several minutes, and adopted the amendment without any discernible interruption. I don’t make any conclusions for other portions of the public meeting that were not video-taped or posted online.
My informal opinion is that the city should review the AGO 1998 No. 15 and this letter to ensure that future enforcement of the new Skykomish ordinance complies with the OPMA. Citizens have a right to record public meetings so long as they are not truly disruptive.
TIMOTHY D. FORD
Assistant Attorney General
cc: Cate Riley
Read the entire Open Public Meetings Act: RCW 42.30
Read the entire Attorney General’s Opinion
Skykomish… It’s Time to Stand up for You, Your Town and America!