A new lawsuit asks a court to declare that Whatcom County Council broke state open public meetings law.
The lawsuit, filed in Whatcom County Superior Court, alleges that the County Council violated state open public meetings law with
when email exchanges, the same thing state auditors previously said.
The new lawsuit, dated Feb. 16, was filed on behalf of Tim Paxton. It asks a court to declare that the County Council violated the law, and it asks for attorneys’ fees.
In a Feb. 23 letter to the county, the attorney representing Paxton, Greg Overstreet of Allied Law Group, said they’ll likely win, which will mean the county will have to pay their attorney fees. (Full disclosure: Allied Law Group has represented The Bellingham Herald and other newspapers in open government-related litigation).
“Right now, at the beginning of the case, Mr. Paxton’s attorney fees are relatively low – perhaps a few thousand dollars,” Overstreet wrote. “Mr. Paxton’s fees – that the county will ultimately pay – will substantially increase if further litigation is required.”
“This is entirely avoidable,” the letter goes on to say.
“If the county is concerned about conserving tax dollars, it will immediately contact me to work out a stipulated dismissal and admission of violation and thereby save the taxpayers thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, of dollars,” the letter concludes.
The lawsuit comes after state auditors, in a letter to the county, said the council broke the law with email exchanges that involved matters that should have been discussed in an open public meeting. Click here to see my previous post about that.
On a different note, I’m not going to be very responsive over the next few weeks because I’ve been selected to serve on a jury. That means Monday through Thursday I’ll only be ducking into the office at lunch hours and in the early evenings. I will be working at The Herald on Fridays.