Here’s what you wouldn’t know:
▪ Details of four competing proposals to reinvent Tacoma’s Old City Hall.
▪ Concerns staff members have about the Pierce County medical examiner and his approach to organ donation.
▪ That a Peninsula School Board candidate was reprimanded while he was a teacher in another district, for insubordination and repeatedly skirting rules, and was threatened with termination.
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▪ How beleaguered state Auditor Troy Kelley made millions of dollars in a complicated real estate scheme that led to a federal indictment against him.
▪ That for more than a decade the U.S. Postal Service took complaints about a Tacoma mail carrier from women who said he groped and harassed them and even entered a home without permission, but never turned the complaints over to police.
▪ That an Oregon subcontractor connected to a deadly overpass collapse in Bonney Lake committed a safety violation seven years earlier that led to the collapse of a portion of a bridge near Portland.
▪ That three decades after Tacoma’s Asarco smelter shut down and $100 million was spent on its cleanup, harmful levels of lead and arsenic pollution remain across 1,000 square miles.
▪ That Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist’s office topped the state in findings of prosecutorial misconduct.
▪ That the U.S. Army found lapses in command oversight of Robert Bales, the Joint Base Lewis-McChord soldier convicted of the 2012 massacre of 16 Afghan civilians.
You know these things because we live in a country and a state that believes the public has a right to know what its government is doing.
Today is Sunshine Sunday, first declared in 2002 by a group of newspaper editors to promote open government. We’re big fans of shining a light on matters of public importance. It allows us to perform the government watchdog role at the core of our mission as journalists.
All of the stories above relied on public documents — court depositions and rulings, email correspondence, government maps, whistle-blower reports, safety investigations, police reports, performance evaluations, text messages.
Sometimes they are ours for the asking. Sometimes we have to persuade government agencies that don’t believe they should be shared. Sometimes we cite the state Public Records Act and they comply. Sometimes we hire a lawyer and take them to court.
A story on today’s front page shares a troubling trend by cities and counties looking for ways to curtail the time they spend responding to requests. They are reacting — or overreacting — to another troubling trend of people filing ridiculously large records requests to make a point of one sort or another.
Records clerks have plenty to do, we understand, but they must find ways to keep the sun shining. The stories above are too important to have remained in the dark.
The existing Public Records Act offers them many ways to accomplish that.
And once a year, it’s worth reciting the preamble to the act itself:
“The people of this state do not yield their sovereignty to the agencies that serve them. The people, in delegating authority, do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is not good for them to know. The people insist on remaining informed so that they may maintain control over the instruments that they have created.”
LIBRARY PARTNERSHIP LEADS TO PHOTO EXHIBIT
We are late in extending the invitation, but you have until Saturday to visit an exhibit at the main Tacoma Public Library showcasing work by The News Tribune’s staff photographers.
The exhibit is called “25,000 Words.” It’s a play on the notion that a photo is worth a thousand words. The show includes 25 pictures shot by our photogs in 2015, hence the name.
David Domkoski, the library’s community relations officer, reached out to us a few months ago, suggesting the partnership.
“We are getting so many wonderful comments about the photographs included in ‘25,000 Words,’ ” Domkoski said. “The comments each photographer has included with his photographs really help people understand the how and why of what they are viewing. We are featuring the individual photographers on our website blog — tacomalibrary.org/blogs.”
The exhibit is in the Handforth Gallery at the library, which is at 1102 Tacoma Ave. S.
TNT SPORTS SECTION HONORED
The News Tribune Sports section recently was named one of the Top 10 in the country for its size category by the Associated Press Sports Editors.
The TNT has earned this distinction in various categories over the years, but for 2015 won Top 10 awards in the daily, Sunday and special section categories — the contest’s triple crown.
Among the sections we submitted to the contest were those showcasing our extensive coverage of the 2015 Super Bowl and the 2015 U.S. Open golf championship at Chambers Bay.
Credit goes to the reporters and photographers, editors, graphic artist, copy editors and designers who produced the sections.
Sports has long been a calling card for the TNT. We appreciate this acknowledgment of the hard work of so many on our staff.