OLYMPIA – The Washington District Transformation Commission will pay fines and court costs of more than $ 137,000 to settle two lawsuits filed by government transparency overseers after last year’s district redistribution talks ended in chaos and deception.
Four members of the constituency commission and a non-partisan chairman will pay fines of $ 500 and receive training under the Open Sessions Act.
The commission agreed to pay $ 120,000 to cover the Washington Coalition’s legal costs for an open government and another $ 15,000 for the costs of transparency activist Arthur West after admitting that its members violated the state’s Open Public Meetings Act, according to The Seattle Times.
Under a proposed consensus decree announced Wednesday, the commission also promised reforms to prevent a recurrence of illegal actions that took place during last year’s recent talks on new congressional maps and state constituencies.
The consent decree is subject to final approval by the Terston County Judge. This will not nullify or change the political cards agreed with the belated commission that will be in effect for the next 10 years.
The terms of the settlement were welcomed on Wednesday by defenders of the open government who filed lawsuits. In exchange for the reforms, the applicants withdrew their requests for the courts to invalidate the final agreement of the map commission.
“This decree of consent ensures that the next time redistribution cards are drawn up, people will know what will be approved in advance and the commission will not be free to produce final cards at a secret meeting in the Hampton Motor Inn party room in the morning “,” West said in an email.
West cited the chaos that ensued when the bipartisan commission tried to meet the legal deadline of midnight on November 15 to vote on the new cards, it convened a public meeting at seven o’clock in the evening.
Four commissioners, Democrats April Sims and Brady Wokinshaw and Republicans Joe Faine and Paul Graves, disappeared from the public for most of the next five hours as they tried to lay out final agreements.