Well, this is a first.
Langley, Washington, Mayor Tim Callison sent the South Whidbey Record newspaper a $64 invoice for time the city attorney spent responding to a reporter’s question.
Callison said the “city attorney’s time is not free” and that the newspaper should reimburse city hall, reported the South Whidbey Record’s sister newspaper, the Whidbey News-Times, on Friday.
“As a reminder, the City Attorney works for the City of Langley and is not a free public resource,” Callison wrote.
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Apparently tensions between the mayor and the newspaper seemed to heighten following the newspaper’s Feb. 25 editorial critical of Callison for his handling of the sanctuary city discussions and his threat to resign if the council adopted a sanctuary city ordinance.
Toby Nixon, president of the Washington Coalition for Open Government, told the Whidbey News-Times it is both “absurd” and “bizarre” to bill the media for contacting the city attorney.
“I have never, ever heard of any such thing anywhere,” said Nixon, who is also a Kirkland city councilman and former Washington state representative.
“I can’t think of any circumstance when the news media would have to pay for any city staff’s time, whether they’re contracted staff or in-house staff,” Nixon said.