Jefferson County commissioners approve $50,000 settlement over public records request

PORT TOWNSEND — Jefferson County commissioners unanimously approved a $50,000 settlement with a Clark County man Monday after county officials forgot to fulfill his public records request in 2016.

Alan Harvey filed a lawsuit in Jefferson County Superior Court on Nov. 17, 2017, which reminded the county it never fulfilled his records request.

“From what I understand, there was no ill intent meant” said Commissioner Kathleen Kler. “It was not an attempt to hide or deny; it was a staff error of forgetting, which has consequences.”

The settlement was recommended by the prosecuting attorney’s office and the county’s risk manager.

Harvey requested records from Jefferson County on Nov. 16, 2016. A timely response to the request was sent Nov. 18, 2016, promising responsive records by Jan. 13, 2017. The county promptly provided the records once he filed suit.

In the months after Harvey filed his public records request, the county purchased the GovQA public records management system.

“There are so many needs that go unfunded, it’s frustrating to be spending any additional resources on this,” said Commissioner Kate Dean. “I share [staff’s] concern and regret.”

The county handles about 500 requests each year, most of which are handled properly, said County Administrator Philip Morley.

He said the goal was to settle the lawsuit as quickly as possible because there was no reason to engage in litigation. Had the lawsuit continued in court, it could have cost taxpayers even more money, he said.

State law allows judges to asses a penalty of up to $100 per day for each document the county withheld. Though unlikely, the county could have been forced to pay more than $2.5 million for the 70 documents.

“We regret the mistake and want to move on and continue to work on strengthening our system,” Morley said.


Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at [email protected].

More in News

EYE ON CLALLAM: Kilmer to attend several government meetings

Government meetings throughout the county

Weekly flight operations scheduled

There will be field carrier landing practice operations for aircraft… Continue reading

Sequim man hurt in Highway 101 wreck

A Sequim man was treated and discharged from Jefferson Healthcare… Continue reading

Program to address filing tax returns

The North Olympic Library System and the AARP Foundation… Continue reading

DOT sets overnight closures of Hood Canal Bridge again

Fifth time in as many weeks; others were canceled

By Dave Logan/For Peninsula Daily News 

First Sgt. Kent Keller of Sequim, left, presents to Linda Featheringill of Port Angeles the Purple Heart her brother was never able to receive in person as well as a United States of America War Office document. Her brother, Army Cpl. Marvin D. Actkinson, was declared missing in action in Korea on Dec. 2, 1950 and presumed dead in 1953. He was 18. His remains were returned in 2018 and will be buried in Colorado City, Texas, on Feb. 12. The Thursday ceremony was hosted by the Michael Trebert Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution at the Northwest Veterans Resource Center in Port Angeles. Featheringill was accompanied by her daughter Eilenah Moon. About 70 people attended the ceremony, which honored Actkinson 71 years after his death.
Presenting a Purple Heart

First Sgt. Kent Keller of Sequim, left, presents to Linda Featheringill of… Continue reading

City to take over Port Angeles garbage services

Dispute with private company resolved

COVID-19 cases rise on Peninsula

Health officer expects peak soon

Most Read