Richland may have violated open meetings law

RICHLAND — A meeting Tuesday in which the Richland City Council interviewed prospective candidates for a city board may have been illegal for lack of notice.

The council met for more than two hours to interview nine candidates for the Richland Public Facilities District Board, which oversees development of the Hanford Reach Interpretive Center.

Six council members -- Mayor John Fox, Mayor Pro Tem Ed Revell, Councilmen Bob Thompson and Phil Lemley, and Councilwomen Sheila Sullivan and Sandra Kent -- were present for the meeting. Councilman Dave Rose was absent.

Because at least four of the seven-member council were present, the state's Open Public Meetings Act says the meeting should have been advertised as a special meeting, with notice provided at least 24 hours before the meeting happened.

Although the law does not require notice to the general public, it does require notice to be given to newspapers or other media outlets with requests on file with the agency.

The Herald has a long-standing request with Richland to receive meeting notices, and publishes agenda summaries either in the newspaper or online each week. The paper typically receives notices of all council, board and commission meetings.

The Herald had no record of receiving a notice of the meeting. No notice of the meeting was posted at city hall or on the city's website.

City Clerk Marcia Hopkin said she was unsure whether a notice was provided and that she would confirm that with the Herald today.

Fox told the Herald on Tuesday that he had gone to the meeting believing proper notice had been provided.

Fox said no action was taken during the meeting, and the only discussion among council members was a date when they could vote on who to appoint to the two open positions on the facilities district board. The most likely date is July 19.

Candidates who applied for the positions are: Gary Bouchey, owner of an engineering and nuclear safety consulting company, a former senior manager for Energy Northwest and former director of operational and experimental safety at the Fast Flux Test Facility; Don Williams, a plumbing foreman for Apollo Sheet Metal and union representative; Frederick Raab, head of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory at Hanford; Rick Jansons, president of the Richland School Board and a Hanford consultant; Deborah Barnes, a facility manager for Energy Northwest; Mark Hanson, director of Radiological and Nuclear Science and Technology Division for Pacific Northwest National Laboratory; Cynthia Shaw, a scientific illustrator whose work has appeared in numerous textbooks; A. Vincent Genetti, project controls specialist on Battelle's smart grid demonstration project; and Deborah Gracio, division director in Computational and Statistical Analytics at PNNL.