By Arthur West, John Novak
(OLYMPIA, WA) The Washington State liquor Control Board violated the Open Public Meetings Act 17 times between January and March of 2014, a Thurston County Superior Court Judge ruled on Friday, October 31st.
The meetings were “private” stakeholder meetings with law enforcement, the prevention community, and city and county officials that a quorum of the LCB commissioners attended to obtain input on the proposed I-502 rules.
They were scheduled separately during the daytime in the same areas that the Commission held 7 public forums on I-502 implementation in the evenings.
The Court declined to invalidate the rules despite evidence of testimony by LCB’s Rick Garza before the Legislature that a lot of the work on the rules was done in the daytime meetings. The plaintiff, Arthur West (420leaks contributor), had maintained that the many secret meetings seriously undercut the validity of the I-502 rules.
A second hearing is set for the 18th of November on the issue of whether the violations were deliberate, and whether the Board Members will be subject to civil penalties. Fines would be $100 for each of the 17 violations.
Here is the ruling, (Liquor Control Board OPMA Ruling) The part about the violations is handwritten in on the bottom of page 2.
Also attached is some background on one typical law enforcement meeting, a list of the prevention meetings, and a prevention meeting agenda.
In the last two months, Arthur West has been to court FOUR times to compel them to answer discovery under penalty of perjury. Now there are a bunch of new records that have not previously been disclosed.
The contents of some reveals more than just secret meetings.
The first shows WASAVP (Washington Association for Substance Abuse and Violence Prevention) and NW HIDTA (Northwest High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area) members (and the Washington State Patrol) “openly” conspiring to Kill the medical cannabis laws in the state!
“”Below are other issues raised by the WASAVP; the key one being the repeal of the Medical Marijuana Statute that would eliminate a big headache for law enforcement.””
“Repeal of the current medical marijuana statute which is rendered redundant with the passage of 1-502 and allows the continued operation of collective gardens (while personal cultivation is prohibited by 1-502), nominally-regulated “dispensaries” (outside of and in competition with state-sanctioned sales), and access for youth and adolescents who obtain parental consent to obtain a Medical Marijuana card.”
This second file is an email showing a list of who the LCB was really consulting for their implementation while public hearings were going on…
Two of the many records of OPMA advice to the board are also attached, with redactions, as well as a brief with some background, and a second order stating that the Rules of professional conduct ensure that they won’t lie about the contents of the redacted OPMA advice.
The State is withholding the advice on the OPMA provided to the LCB while attempting to argue that the Board members lacked knowledge that the 17 meetings with law enforcement, cities and counties, and the prevention community were not public meetings.
On March 22, 2013, LCB Executive director Rick Garza testified before the House finance Committee
“…(in) the public forums the board spent four hours, usually in the evening, taking testimony but I think a lot of the work that was done during the morning and afternoon in meeting with the prevention community, with city officials and county officials separately and then with law enforcement and I think that it was in those meetings that we learned a lot about some of the issues and challenges that we have at the Liquor Control Board. And I think the first one we would move to is medical marijuana…”
From the complaint: List of Secret Meetings in 2013 (Court Order has the wrong year)
- On at least Eight dates the LCB Board met to deliberate on official LCB business outside of the context of a public meeting.
- The Board or a quorum thereof conducted deliberations of January 24 in Seattle, (10:15-11:15 A.M with the prevention Community, 1:30-2:30. (two other meetings were plead, with (1) Nick Licata and (2) Pete Holmes-Law Enforcement that afternoon, but were not found by the court to be violations)
- The Board or a quorum thereof conducted deliberations on February 7 in Vancouver, (11:00-12:00 with law enforcement, 1:00-2:00 with Prevention community 3:00-4:00 with local government officials)
- The Board or a quorum thereof conducted deliberations in Spokane on February 11 (2:45-3:45 with the Chase Youth Commission, and on February 12 (10:00-11:00 with law enforcement, 11:00-12:00 with Prevention community, 2:00-4:00 with Spokane City Council) and February 13 at Northwest Medical.
- The Board or a quorum thereof conducted deliberations on February 19 in Mount Vernon, (1:00-2:00 with law enforcement, 3:00-4:00 with the Prevention community)
- The Board or a quorum thereof conducted deliberations on February 21 in Tacoma, (11:00-12:00 with law enforcement, 1:00-2:00 with Prevention community)
- The Board or a quorum thereof conducted deliberations of February 28 in Yakima, (11:00-12:00 with law enforcement, 1:00-2:00 with Prevention community)
- The Board or a quorum thereof conducted deliberations on March 7 in Bremerton, (1:00-2:00 with Prevention community, 3:00-4:00 with law enforcement)
- These meetings were held all across the State in various locations during the morning and afternoons prior to the scheduled “public hearings” that the LCB held for the implementation of I-502. However, while the nocturnal public hearings provided cover for the LCB Board to travel all across the State, what they were in actuality doing was meeting in private with Cities, Counties, Law enforcement and entities referred to as “The prevention community”. Significantly, in testimony to the Legislature, LCB representatives revealed that the private meetings provided some of the best information that the Board used to adopt the proposed I-502 rules.