More than seven months ago, on June 24, 2020, I dashed off a public-records request for the calendar of Suzi LeVine, the commissioner of Washington’s Employment Security Department (ESD).
This was a routine request — the kind of thing state agencies typically turn around within days. I wanted to see what LeVine had been up to as a massive fraud scheme overwhelmed her agency.
And now, 219 days later, I finally got it Friday morning.
Meanwhile, LeVine, a top Democratic Party political fundraiser, has outlasted my request, leaving for a job in the Biden administration.
Wednesday night I took my plight to Twitter, detailing the whole lousy ordeal. My experience touched a nerve with other journalists and state residents also frustrated at ESD’s public-disclosure stalling.
It also caught the attention of The Seattle Times executive editor, who assigned me to write about it. That’s what I get for tweeting.
So, I’m sharing this narrative as a reporter’s notebook (tweetbook?) of sorts in the hope it gives you a sense of the teeth-grating obstacles we face at times in seeking accountability from government.
Enjoy. And #FreeTheCalendar.
Postscript: ESD spokesperson Nick Demerice called me Thursday morning, apologized for the ongoing delays and said he’d check into what was happening.
Demerice said the agency has struggled with so many requests amid an unprecedented crisis, and has not adequately kept up.
“All your frustration is fair,” he said.
As I comb through the records, I have no idea what use they will be at this point. Stay tuned.