Spokane city voters will decide not only a mayor’s race and four city council races, they’ll also decide two propositions. One of them is designed to improve transparency in one particular area of city government.
“Shall the Spokane City Charter be amended to require all collective bargaining negotiations be transparent and open to public observation, requiring public notification of such meetings as required by the Washington State Open Public Meetings Act and require all contracts be available for public review and observation on the city’s website?” reads the ballot title for Proposition 1.
The measure is sponsored by Spokane city council candidate Michael Cathcart, who is also executive director of the political group Better Spokane.
“Who in our community thinks that transparency should be illegal, right? To me, that’s the ultimate question. Should transparency be illegal?" Cathcart said. "I think there are a number of things within our city government where we could be improving transparency, big time.”
One area where it may be beneficial, he says, is in holding police officers accountable for their actions. He says that would allow the public to view negotiations between the city and the Police Guild over the scope and authority of the Police Ombudsman office.
“I think that’s the only way that we’re going to make sure that we have an independent ombudsman is if Prop 1 passes," Cathcart said.
He says similar measures are working in other Washington jurisdictions, including Spokane, Lincoln and Ferry Counties and the Pullman and Kennewick School Districts. He says there was one challenge in a case in Lincoln County, but otherwise few problems.