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Monitoring government is a full-time occupation

September 26, 2013 J

When Rob McKenna left the attorney general’s office, there was trepidation among open government advocates – and this editorial board – that an era of greater transparency was coming to an end. Bob Ferguson was elected as his replacement, but he was an unknown entity on an issue that involves making powerful people uncomfortable.

Then last month, Tim Ford, the open government ombudsman who worked out of the AG’s office, announced he was taking a position with the state Senate. Was this the sign we’d been dreading?

Maybe not. In fact, the ombudsman might become even stronger, because Ferguson announced on Monday that he’s returning it to a full-time position.

Ford was named to the job in 2007, two years after McKenna created it. But due to budget constraints, Ford’s duties became split in 2011 when he was assigned part-time to do Liquor Control Board work. Still, Ford did an outstanding job advocating for open government and educating government officials on their responsibilities under the Public Records Act.

That act, which was adopted by voters in 1972, has been gutted by more than 300 exemptions. Legislators tried to adopt more last session. They do every session.

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