Friday, November 19, 2010

UPDATED: The Public Needs Fair Notice of Evergreen's Budget Hearings

EDITORIAL:   Evergreen Hospital held a Public Budget Hearing on November 12 and only one citizen showed up for it.

Could it be just apathy, or something else?

I hope the Redmond, Sammamish, and Kirkland Reporters and Woodinville Weekly can help Evergreen Hospital get the word out in the future with public notice ads or a short article.  The newspaper is Evergreen's only chosen mechanism for public notice.
I researched the public notice ads in the Seattle Times for the Evergreen budget Hearing and found only one advertisement. The ad was posted on 11/1, only twelve days before the Hearing. 
According to RCW 70.44.060(6) the Evergreen Notice may have erred on the code once or twice, as follows:  The Notice of Filing the proposed budget AND the date and place of the budget Hearing wasn't found to be published for at least two consecutive weeks, at least one time each week.  According to my research, the ad was published on only once, on November 1.
The code requires the proposed budget be filed "in the records of the Commission on or before the first day of November."   It wasn't.  According to the Laurene Burton, Evergreen Public Records Officer, the proposed budget wasn't filed with the Commissioners until November 2.   In a Public Request letter, Ms. Burton writes:  
 "The Commissioners received the budget information for the first time at the (November 2) Study Session; therefore, they had not previously reviewed the information and formulated questions."  (on or before November 1).
This may seem a detail but it characterizes a dysfunctional, Closed Government and, in this case, limits public study of the budget by our commissioners to the day of the Hearing, without any public notice or agenda for the study session.   However, on a positive note, Evergreen's new CEO Bob Malte acknowledged the public benefit of  "transparency" later this week after a Chamber of Commerce meeting.      

If the Reporters' parent company, Sound Publishing, is approved by the County for posting Evergreen  notice advertisements, please do!   If so, I recommend Evergreen acknowledge their shortcoming, show good faith and transparency by advertising in Sound Publishing, the Seattle Times, the Woodinville Weekly, and other eligible District newspapers.  A brief  article by the newspapers would help, too.  
The Evergreen Budget Hearing comes up only once in a year, so public notice ads wouldn't rate an expense for an organization with over $12M in net gain- rather, a courtesy to the taxpayers.  

Approved 2011 Budget & Levy Resolutions are available.  Contact Laurene Burton for a copy.
Bob Yoder, Editor

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