Taxpayers are on the hook for Vermillion

April 30, 2014 

Arrogance and bad behavior are costing Puyallup taxpayers their hard-earned cash. Taxpayers will be paying thousands for a private attorney to defend a city councilman in a lawsuit as a consequence of his refusal to hand over public records (emails) regarding city business.

At-large Councilman Steve Vermillion’s refusal to comply with state law to hand over 52 emails has landed the city in Superior Court. Washington’s open public records law is not simply a “suggestion.”

Last August, Vermillion taunted the public during a council meeting stating that if they wanted his emails, they would have to sue him. The cost and effort to the city was of no concern to him.

State Attorney General Bob Ferguson has been on a media blitz trying to educate public officials on their duties and responsibilities with regard to public records. The message has gone unheeded in parts of City Hall.

City attorneys are defending the city in court, but a private attorney has been hired at taxpayer expense to represent Vermillion. Why? If Vermillion had only complied with the law, tax money could have been better spent elsewhere on public services.

Dave Churchman

Puyallup

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