Seattle City Attorney Ann Davison is doing a superb job holding criminals accountable. But she’s falling deeply behind on office transparency.
Unlike her predecessor Pete Holmes, Davison actually leads with compassion. She diverts the right kind of criminals to get the help they need while understanding her office must have compassion for victims, too. That means jail time for dangerous criminals.
Davison cut the median decision time on whether or not to charge by 98 percent, resulting in a 124 percent increase in cases filed. Holmes, for his part, did what he could to keep criminals out of jail. It’s actually quite difficult to figure out how he and the attornies who reported to him spent their days.
But transparency is taking a back seat.
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Transparency taking a back seat
There’s little doubt Davison is actually working. But when it comes to her office fulfilling straightforward public disclosure requests, she’s dropping the ball. And her communications team is as bad as Major Bruce Harrell’s office. They don’t really offer a key component of their job: communication.
Public disclosure requests, or PDRs, allow members of the public to gain access to documents, emails, court records, surveillance footage, and so much more. PDRs are an effective tool to uncover stories, and ultimately, keep public officials and workers accountable.
But Davison’s office is understaffing her public disclosure unit, which is responsible for fulfilling PDRs. And it means requests take months to complete, even when they appear to be relatively simple.
Sometimes, to give the appearance that requests are being fulfilled within a reasonable amount of time, they’re sent in installments. Most troublesome, when requests are partially delivered, they appear to be done with the intention of withholding what you’re most interested in