1. The Washington News Council, an independent nonprofit media ethics group, held a public forum at Town Hall this weekend to hear a complaint filed with the WNC about a 2012 Seattle Times series on sexually violent predators.
WNC, which considers itself a public ombudsman, takes up complaints from the public about allegedly faulty journalism. In this instance, Richard Wollert, a psychologist who helps defense attorneys in cases against sexually violent predators, complained that the Times' series made "false and defamatory references to me personally, my professional standing, and accomplishments and work in that system as a clinical and consulting psychologist for accused persons."
WNC President John Hamer reported on FaceBook after the hearing: "Our Hearings Board split its votes, proving that it's a fair, even-handed, professional group. On the final question—"Overall, did The Times'...series portray Dr. Wollert, including his academic background, research history, scientific methodologies and past testimony, in an accurate, fair, complete and balanced way?"—the panel voted 6 'NO' and 4 'YES.'"
The Town Hall hearing will be avialable on TVW next week.
The Seattle Times refused to participate in the forum. Times executive editor David Boardman sent a letter to the WNC, stating in part: "Although Mr. Hamer insists this is an educational event and bristles at any characterization of it as quasi-judicial, it has all the markings of a public trial. We find it unacceptable that we face a vote not only by the Hearings Board but by an attending audience formed with no controls and almost certainly dominated by supporters of the complainant, and by a viewing and online audience whose makeup we know nothing about. The Society of Professional Journalists stated in a 2009 release: 'The News Council is wrong to emulate the American Idol model of voting.'”
2. Former Washington State Attorney General and failed Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna unveiled a new website this morning called Smarter Government Washington that McKenna described this way:
Our purpose is to look for and then publicize examples and ideas that will make our state government smarter—because a more efficient and less expensive government will allow your tax dollars to go to the state’s highest priorities, starting with public education.
If you had any question that McKenna is planning to run for governor again in 2016—and we did—you shouldn't any more. This reminds Fizz of former GOP candidate Dino Rossi's Forward Washington Foundation, the nonprofit he founded between gubernatorial campaigns to promote more effective government.
Look for a complaint from the Washington State Democrats sometime in late 2015 about the group's fundraising efforts and look for an announcement shortly after that about McKenna's 2016 run.
3. Speaking of inefficient government.
Has the state legislature broken state law by not enacting a budget yet? Lefty lobbyist Nick Federici, pointing to state law, thinks so.
Here's what he posted this weekend:
"By failing in its duty to enact a budget by June 1st (30 days prior to the beginning of the 2013–15 biennium), the Legislature has actually literally committed a criminal offense:
'RCW 43.88.080 A budget for state government shall be finally adopted not later than thirty calendar days prior to the beginning of the ensuing biennium. RCW 43.88.270 Any officer or employee violating, or wilfully refusing or failing to comply with, any provision of this chapter shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.'"
The 2013–15 biennium begins on July 1. The legislature is still stalled. In fact, watch for the senate Republicans to snub the house Democrats today by passing a bill scaling back the voter-approved estate tax. Last week, the Democrats passed a bill reestablishing the tax.
The Republican approach could cost the state nearly $200 million.