Washington State City May File Bankruptcy Over Public Record Requests

Gold Bar, Wash., Broke and Divided, May Disappear From Map

Map of Washington highlighting Snohomish County

Map of Washington highlighting Snohomish County (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By ALON HARISH
July 14, 2012
Gold Bar, Wash., got its name from miners who spotted traces of gold on a gravel bar in 1889. But more than 120 years after a gold rush ignited a prospecting boom there, the city’s money woes may wipe it off the map.

Residents will likely vote in November on whether to raise property taxes or become an unincorporated part of Snohomish County. If they reject both options, the city will file for bankruptcy, Mayor Joe Beavers said.

While a weak economy has driven down tax revenue and state aid, officials said much of what ails the city’s budget can be traced to a single person: attorney and activist blogger Anne Block, whose lawsuits, mostly over public records requests, have cost the city about $350,000 since 2009. Her actions have polarized the city of 2,000 into two factions that consider her either a champion of open government or a toxic liability.

On Block’s website, the Gold Bar Reporter, the Massachusetts native routinely accuses city officials of corruption, at times using words like “evil” and “promiscuous.” Her records requests have piled up so high that the city has had to hire a sixth employee to handle them while paying a private law firm to defend itself against Block’s lawsuits, Beavers said.

Read more at ABC News.

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