Laurelhurst Community Club
Serving 2800 Households and Businesses in Seattle’s Laurelhurst Neighborhood
May 20, 2007
Department of Neighborhoods
7005 5th Avenue, Suite 1700
P.O. Box 94649
Seattle, Washington 98124-4649
RE: Request for Information
We are following up on our request of May 16th for the list of applicants to serve on the Children’s master plan advisory committee and for the list of potential members submitted to the Department of Neighborhood by Children’s Hospital. At the community meeting sponsored by Children’s on May 19th, you indicated that you had been told that this information is exempt from disclosure under the Public Records Act under the “deliberative process” exemption.
Since the meeting yesterday, we have been in touch with an attorney who specializes in public records law. He has advised us that the “deliberative process” exemption applies to:
Preliminary drafts, notes, recommendations, and intra-agency memorandums in which opinions are expressed or policies formulated or recommended are exempt under this chapter, except that a specific record is not exempt when publicly cited by an agency in connection with any agency action.
RCW 42.56.280. This exemption only applies to those documents or portions of documents that actually reflect policy recommendations and opinions. Hearst Corp. v. Hoppe, 90 Wash.2d 123, 132-33, 580 P.2d 246 (1978). The redaction requirement (now codified at RCW 42.56.210(1), applies to the exemption. Id. Factual data, even when contained in a document to which the exemption applies, is not exempt. Id.
A list of all the people who have applied to the serve on the committee would not be exempt because such a list is just factual data. It reveals nothing about opinions or recommendations.
Arguably, the short list of people recommended by Children’s might be exempt under ACLU v. City of Seattle, 121 Wn. App. 544, 89 P.3d 295 (2004) (exempting issues lists used in negotiations between the City and the police guild). However, it is our position that the process between the Department of Neighborhoods and Children’s Hospital is not a negotiation process. Therefore, Children’s list of potential candidates is not exempt under the Public Records Act. Under the Major Institutions Code, both the institution and the Department of Neighborhoods have a role to play. They work together cooperatively and in this situation jointly interviewed applicants. But, the Department of Neighborhoods is free to develop its own recommendations as to committee composition to submit to the City Council.
We are already aware of the names and contact information for 25 of the applicants to serve on the committee. We know this because one applicant forwarded an email message inviting applicants to attend Saturday’s meeting that you sent out. That message listed the applicants after the “To” line as follows:
From: "Steve Sheppard" <Steve.Sheppard@Seattle.Gov>
To: "Bob Lucas" <firstname.lastname@example.org>,"Pete Hollowman" <email@example.com>,"Virginia Sherrow" <firstname.lastname@example.org>,"Catherine Hennings" <email@example.com>,"Delores Pritchard" <firstname.lastname@example.org>,"Mike Koshi-Harja" <email@example.com>,"Shelly Hartnett" <firstname.lastname@example.org>,"Ruthann Martin" <email@example.com>,"Myriam Muller" <firstname.lastname@example.org>,"Robert Rosencrantz" <email@example.com>,"Cheryl Kitchin" <firstname.lastname@example.org>,"Walter Niehoff" <wniehoff@LMNArchitects.com>,"Karen Wolf" <email@example.com>,"Michael Omura" <firstname.lastname@example.org>,"Bill Nichols" <email@example.com>,"Angela Kerwin" <firstname.lastname@example.org>,"Steven Reisler" <email@example.com>,"Christine Barnett" <firstname.lastname@example.org>,"Mark Stoner" <email@example.com>,"Theresa Doherty" <firstname.lastname@example.org>,"Michael Sherman" <email@example.com>,"Kim Dales" <firstname.lastname@example.org>,"Jan Kirkwood" <email@example.com>,"Kathleen Sabo" <firstname.lastname@example.org>,"Todd Donato" <email@example.com>
Subject: Invitation to the Children's Hospital Open Houses
Date: Tue, 15 May 2007 15:40:51 -0700
In a telephone conversation on May 15th, you indicated that 31 individuals had applied to serve on the committee (although yesterday you mentioned that the number was 35). A dozen of those listed above attended Saturday’s meeting and we have been able to identify their neighborhood affiliation. A few others have contacted us to let us know they have applied. We would nonetheless like the complete list of applicants as well as Children’s recommendations to enable our community council to participate further as this process moves forward to the City Council.
Under the Major Institutions Code, the City Council may make changes in the size and/or composition of the advisory committee. Without the information that we have requested, the Laurelhurst Community Club will be at a disadvantage in participating in the next phase of the process. Thank you for reconsidering our request for information.
Jeannie Hale, President
3425 West Laurelhurst Drive NE
Seattle, Washington 98105
206-525-5135 / fax 206-525-9631
cc: William Crittenden