- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 8, 2020

SEATTLE (AP) - An open government activist’s lawsuit accusing the Seattle City Council of breaking Washington state’s open-public-meetings law in its abrupt repeal of a 2018 tax on large businesses has been revived.

An appeals court revived the suit on Tuesday by throwing out a King County judge’s ruling dismissing the case, The Seattle Times reported. The matter now must go back to King County Superior Court for “further proceedings,” the appeals court ruling said.

Tuesday’s ruling, written by a three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals, agreed with activist Arthur West’s argument that a King County judge last year wrongly dismissed his lawsuit before trial last year because of a lack of evidence.

West had argued that a news release, signed by a majority of council members before the body voted to repeal the head tax, proved that the council violated the state’s Open Public Meetings Act, which generally requires that government bodies take official actions in public.

The appeals court panel concluded the news release, which was issued by Mayor Jenny Durkan’s office and included pledges of support from seven council members to repeal the contentious business tax, amounted to compelling evidence that the trial court should have considered.

“There is sufficient evidence here from which a reasonable trier of fact could conclude that the seven members who agreed to join Mayor Durkan’s press statement …,were expressing their collective decision to vote to repeal the (head tax) outside of a public meeting,” the appeals court judges wrote.

A spokesman for Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes said in an email that the office will “be meeting soon to assess our options and discuss next steps.”

West said Tuesday he’s prepared to take the case to trial.

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