Delay on requests for bridge records blamed on misfiling

Critic waits to see how director’s attention changes the results

By Andrea Damewood, Columbian staff writer

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The Washington State Department of Transportation misfiled four public records requests filed by Columbia River Crossing critic David Madore and a forensic accountant he hired, the CRC director said this week.

State law gives public agencies five days to respond to public records requests and either deny the request or give a reasonable time frame for when the records may be available. In a story that ran in Tuesday’s Columbian, forensic accountant Tiffany Couch said that four requests made by her and Madore between March 4 and July 5 have yet to be answered by the crossing. In a few other cases, Couch said they got only partial responses.

“I made an inquiry into the matter (Tuesday) and regrettably it turns out several requests were apparently misfiled,” CRC Director Nancy Boyd said in an email. “We will be taking additional steps immediately to remedy the situation.”

Rick Phillips, WSDOT director of administrative services, contacted Couch by phone Tuesday, Boyd said. She attached an email Phillips sent to Couch on Tuesday as well.

“When I checked on (the missing requests), I was embarrassed to discover that my staff received them from CRC staff on April 26th and they were apparently misfiled,” he wrote. “Again, I apologize for our nonresponsiveness and I will get back to you with an updated status report on all of your requests as soon as possible.”

Madore confirmed Friday that Phillips had been in touch.

“The CRC has tickled our ears all along with words like transparency, accountability and integrity while their actions have proved to be the exact opposite,” he said in an email. “The real test is for the CRC to open their books to Tiffany Couch.”

Madore said he asked Phillips to give Couch direct access to the state records (all records are reviewed prior to release by public agencies to make sure no privacy laws are violated).

“So far, they have not responded,” he said.

Andrea Damewood: 360-735-4542 or andrea.damewood@columbian.com or www.facebook.com/reporterdamewood or www.twitter.com/col_cityhall.