Appelman earns award for civic vigilance
By ELIZABETH CELMS
Mercer Island Reporter Contributor
February 9, 2010 · Updated 4:41 PM
The Washington Coalition of Open Government (WCOG) has awarded Islander Ira Appelman with its Key Award, which recognizes citizens who "work to make government entities in Washington open and accountable to the public."
The coalition presented Appelman with the award at its Jan. 16 Open Government Conference at the University of Washington. The organization grants the award to several citizens every year.
According to a WCOG press release, Appelman was nominated for "for his tireless use of the Public Records Act to shine light on the operations of the Mercer Island city government."
The press release cited Appelman's devotion to attending every City Council meeting as another reason for his acknowledgment.
"Appelman attends every meeting of the council, encourages city lawmakers to act more transparently, and often uses the PRA to obtain and distribute city documents to other citizen government watchdogs," the press release read.
Appelman said the award was unexpected, as he was not a member of WCOG.
"It came as something of a surprise. I didn't know much about the organization. I got the award when I wasn't a member," the Islander said. He has since joined the coalition.
Appelman is one of three Key Award winners, including Monroe resident Meredith Mechling and Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy. The awards were presented on Jan. 16 by Attorney General Rob McKenna and WCOG President Toby Nixon, who nominated Appelman for the honor.
The Washington Coalition for Open Government is an independent nonpartisan, nonprofit organization founded in 2002. It represents individuals and organizations intent on preserving and protecting Washington's open government laws - open records and open Meetings. Its mission is to represent the public in matters where open government issues are raised, are threatened, or deserves broader exposure.
Every year, the coalition acknowledges a handful of state citizens with the Key Award.