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December 31, 2013 at 4:25 PM

King County Housing Authority settles public-records case

The King County Housing Authority has agreed to pay $24,300 to a resident who should have gotten public records she requested over the past two years, but didn’t. The resident, Cindy Ference, lives in a Shoreline apartment owned by the housing authority. Ference made 25 requests over two years for different documents. She got most of them, the agency said, but the authority did not give her three sets of documents about construction projects. The records should have been made public, said King County Authority Deputy Executive Director Connie Davis.

The housing authority already settled the first half of Ference’s lawsuit, which had to do with open meetings. The housing authority failed to advertise meetings that should have been public. That portion of the settlement didn’t include any money beyond legal fees, but the housing authority changed the way it publishes meeting notices, minutes and documents.

The National Freedom of Information Coalition in Columbia, Mo., paid for Ference’s lawsuit.

In a statement, Housing Authority Executive Director Stephen Norman said settling with Ference was “the right thing to do.”

“We sincerely apologize and have made internal changes to keep this kind of inadvertent error from happening again.”

The housing authority has insisted they weren’t trying to hide anything on purpose. The illegal meetings were a result of bad legal advice, they said, and they said they simply overlooked documents that “could be construed as falling withing the intent of the request.”

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