The Edwards Agency

Opinion

Fire District documents made public

public disclosure I, along with numerous other citizens have been asking questions and seeking answers from the Fire Commissioners for several months now to no avail.
   For a number of years, Woodinville Fire and Life Safety District has been ranked one of the highest in the state, our service has been excellent, and the willingness to work with its citizens [has been] overwhelming. Having been involved with the Fire District personally for several years, I could not understand the recent drastic changes in direction of the District.
   In an effort to obtain the answers to those questions, I have been requesting public records, documents, and information, and [have been] reviewing it, hoping to find the answers we are all asking.
   I have been aware of an incident which happened to Commissioner Callon a couple of years ago while he was serving as a part-paid firefighter. I felt some of the answers that I was seeking could be found in his file and went to the district to obtain copies, believing that once he became an elected official, his records fell under the public disclosure laws.
   The district decided not to turn those records over to me but rather take it to court. This was not my choice, but theirs. On Monday, December 16, we, in fact, did go to court, and the court agreed with me that these records were to be made public. It was also ruled by the court as a cost to the district to pay for my legal fees, and also they naturally incurred costs which will, in the long run, be borne by all of us. Thank you, "Taxpayer's Watchdog!"
   Those records are to be turned over to me by on Friday, December 19. If I find any conflicting information with the recent article Commissioner Callon gave to the Woodinville Weekly, I will be happy to pass it along.
   In that same article, it was written that the Fire District felt it was protecting personnel files which should remain confidential; however, when the person becomes an elected official, and they have the power to oversee, hire, fire, and control that department, those files should be disclosed under the public disclosure act.
   I have recently requested more documents which I feel have bearing on the actions of the Commissioners. Once again, they have sent it to legal counsel for a decision as to whether or not to release it to me. How much are we going to continue to charge the taxpayers for information they are entitled to? All they have to do is once again open up communication with the public.
   It makes me and I know many others wonder what they are trying to hide, and I hope there are others out there who also feel the same.

Mary Baum, Woodinville