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Wednesday, July 2, 2003 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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City sued over data from labor negotiations with police

Seattle Times staff reporter

The American Civil Liberties Union of Washington sued the city of Seattle yesterday over its refusal to disclose documents about its contract negotiations with the police officers union. The ACLU asked Mayor Greg Nickels' office for the documents in April, but the Mayor's Office declined, citing the confidentiality of labor negotiations.

Specifically, the ACLU wants to review lists of issues the union and the city wanted to bring up during negotiations. The city's contract with the Seattle Police Officers Guild expired Dec. 31.

Regina LaBelle, legal adviser to Nickels, said the documents the ACLU seeks are exempt from disclosure as part of a "deliberative process" and that the city would risk violating labor laws if it disclosed the information.

But the ACLU lawsuit, filed in King County Superior Court, contends that the documents regarding the city's starting points in negotiations should be public.

"We're not asking for updated reports on the negotiations themselves, we simply want to see what are the issues on the table," said Doug Honig, ACLU spokesman.

Of chief interest to the ACLU is the city's position on the Police Department's policies of investigating officer misconduct. Some disciplinary policies are subject to bargaining with the police union. The ACLU and other groups have been pushing for policies tougher on misconduct.

"Public policy should not be made behind closed doors and without public comment," said Dorry Elias, executive director of the Minority Executive Directors Coalition of King County, in a written statement supporting the lawsuit.

Jim Brunner: 206-515-5628 or jbrunner@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2003 The Seattle Times Company

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