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News from and about Toby Nixon
2012 FOI Hero Award Winner Announced
NATIONAL FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COALITION
COLUMBIA, Mo. (April 6, 2012) — Toby Nixon, president of
Washington Coalition for Open Government (WCOG) and a city council member in
Kirkland, Washington, has been selected for induction into
Heroes of the 50 States: The State Open Government Hall of Fame for 2012.
The National Freedom of Information Coalition (NFOIC) and the
Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) announced Nixon’s selection
The State Open Government Hall of Fame, begun in 2003, was developed by
national leaders of SPJ and NFOIC to recognize the contributions made by open
government advocates in individual states.
This year’s formal induction ceremony will take place on Saturday, May 12, at a
luncheon during the
2012 FOI Summit at the Madison Concourse Hotel and Governor's Club in
Madison, Wisconsin, hosted by NFOIC and the
Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council.
Nixon, who also served in the Washington state House of Representatives from 2002 to
2006, is only the second elected official to be selected for the State Open
Government Hall of Fame.
During his time
as a Washington legislator, he sponsored 13 bills supporting more open
government and also served as a ranking member of the House Committee on State
Government Operations and Accountability, which under his leadership passed 17
election reform bills.
“Toby is the
twelfth overall inductee since the ‘Heroes’ Hall of Fame was begun, but only the
second elected official chosen,” said Kenneth F. Bunting, executive director of
NFOIC. “Government works better, and people in Washington state are more
informed, because of Toby's work as a legislator, as a municipal official and as
an extremely hard-working and dedicated officer of WCOG.”
Nixon was nominated by the WCOG, the state member organization of NFOIC for which he has served as president since 2007. During his time at WCOG, he has built the organization into one of the most effective state coalitions in the country. The organization played an instrumental role in the 2010 U.S. Supreme Court ruling
in Doe v. Reed, which affirmed a
lower court ruling that disclosure of the identity of petition signers does not
violate the First Amendment. WCOG has also filed nine amicus briefs to support
other open government cases in Washington Appellate Courts, tracked over 75
bills in the Washington State Legislature, and significantly expanded public
outreach by hosting an annual Washington State Open Government Conference.
appeals and court cases to ensure the release of the public records, Nixon’s
hard work in the Doe v. Reed case paid off when in November, 2011, the records were finally released to the
Induction into The State Open Government Hall of Fame signifies the “long and steady effort to preserve and protect the free flow of information about state and local
government that is vital to the public in a democracy.”
A committee that
includes a representative of SPJ, a representative of NFOIC, and at least one
additional at-large member evaluates all nominations. Each year, judging
commences after Sunshine Week in mid-March. To ensure the integrity of the
process, judges only become known to each other in the latter stages of the
The judges who
reviewed nominees for the Hall of Fame award this year were: Charles N. Davis,
an associate professor at the Missouri School of Journalism and former executive
director of NFOIC; Mike Farrell, an associate professor of journalism at the
University of Kentucky and the director of the Scripps Howard First Amendment
Center; and Tony Pederson, professor and Belo Distinguished Chair in Journalism
at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.
“Anyone who aspires to be an open government hero should meet Toby Nixon and
learn his story. He has lived government transparency as a public official and
invested countless hours of his life as a private citizen advocating,
strategizing and involving others in efforts to keep government accountable to
“Toby Nixon is the embodiment of citizen involvement in FOI. He has, despite an
incredibly busy schedule, stepped up time and time again and furthered the cause
of government transparency in Washington State. The coalition there is a
testament to his prowess as an organizer, and government in the state is more
open thanks in no small part to his volunteerism.”
Nixon has been
praised for his coalition building as well as his successes as an open
government advocate. Tony Pederson remarks, “Toby Nixon is a treasure for the
state of Washington for his extraordinary focus on freedom of information. His
efforts over an extended period of time have involved working at every level of
government and with numerous constituencies to build consensus on the importance
of transparency and open government.”
of his commitment to open government and public information issues, Nixon also
won the 2006 Freedom’s Light Award from the Washington Newspaper Publishers
Association, and he served on the Washington Open Government Task Force, an
organization created by the Washington Attorney General to address concerns
about violations of open government laws. In addition to his work as a city
council member and an open government advocate, Nixon is a 35-year computer
industry veteran, working on the Windows group at Microsoft.
this award are made to honor individuals who have shown a substantial and
sustained commitment to open government and freedom of information issues at the
state and local level.
The most recent
inductees to the State Open Government Hall of Fame include: John R. Finnegan
Sr., chairman emeritus of the Minnesota News Council and president of the
Minnesota Joint Media Committee; Robert J. Freeman, executive director of the
New York Committee on Open Government; and Mitchell W. Pearlman, executive
director emeritus of the Connecticut Freedom of Information Commission and a
director of NFOIC.
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Kirkland City Council: The Times recommends Sternoff, Nixon and Asher
SEATTLE TIMES EDITORIAL BOARD
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Seattle (October 19, 2011) -- THE city of Kirkland grew by 31,000 residents with the annexation of Finn Hill, Juanita and Kingsgate. The Kirkland City Council has the duel challenge of fully integrating its new neighbors and taxpayers into the state's 12th largest city, while maintaining the community's beloved small-town feel.
Knitting those areas into the city poses challenges that will require enthusiasm and deft political handling.
Toby Nixon, who is challenging the Position 4 incumbent, brings both. The Kingsgate resident worked for the annexation as co-chair of Citizens for One Kirkland; incumbent Jessica Greenway was the lone council vote against annexation.
Nixon is a seasoned leader with extensive local and statewide connections as a former state representative, former fire district commissioner, chairman of the Kirkland Ethics Task Force and president of the Washington Coalition of Open Government.
Click here to read the full article.
Kirkland City Council candidate profile: Toby Nixon for Pos. 4
By MATT PHELPS
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KIRKLAND REPORTER STAFF WRITER
Kirkland (October 19, 2011) -- For many voters experience is a big factor when choosing a candidate. Many who enter city council races for the first time have experience in the business community, as a part of a non-profit or have served on a board or two. But that experience is limited and most have not served in government. Toby Nixon has all of this and then some.
“I say yes to too many people,” joked Nixon, who was a state representative for two-and-a-half terms for the 45th District, which includes Kirkland. “I am involved in eight different non-profit organizations right now … Should I be elected to the city council I will clearly need to reduce my level of involvement in some of those. But I love to be involved.”
Nixon was asked by many to consider a run for city council after working as the co-chair of the Annexation YES! Committee.
“I thought hard about it, it wasn’t an automatic yes because I am involved in so many activities,” said Nixon, who is running against Councilwoman Jessica Greenway for Position 4. “But ultimately I decided it was the right thing to do.”
Nixon is also the president of the Washington Coalition for Open Government.
Click here to read the full article.
Toby Nixon calls on Kirkland Councilmembers to keep their word on utility tax rate for customers of Northshore Utility District
Toby Nixon, candidate for Kirkland City Council, addressed the Kirkland City Council at their meeting on Tuesday, September 20,
offering these remarks regarding the utility tax rate to be charged customers of Northshore Utility District, and also regarding the
proposed garbage collection rate increase.
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Mayor McBride and members of the Council, I am Toby Nixon, and I live in the Kingsgate neighborhood. My family and I receive water and sewer service from Northshore Utility District.
During the annexation campaign, we were told that we would be required to pay taxes on our utilities that we hadn’t had to pay in the unincorporated area,
but that the utility taxes would be balanced by reductions in our property taxes. We were specifically told that the utility tax rate would be ten and a half percent. Many people depended on that representation when voting to support annexation.
Now we hear that the effective tax rate is not going to be ten and a half percent, but
almost thirteen percent, on Northshore utilities. This isn’t fair. It isn’t right. It isn’t how we build trust. The city should stick to what the people in the annexation area were told, especially so soon after the annexation effective date.
I ask you to please change the way the utility tax is calculated for public
utilities operating in the city so that it is based on actual billings, or some
other mechanism consistent with what new residents were told.
I also want to comment on the proposed garbage collection rate increase. I want to be sure you are aware that one of the reasons many customers in the annexation area “downsized” from large toters to smaller sizes is that Waste Management simply delivered the small sizes without even asking customers if that’s what they wanted.
Let me tell you what happened at our house. It was our understanding that when service changed from Allied Waste to Waste Management, we would receive the same size toters we had with Allied, unless we specifically requested something different. That didn’t happen. Our
two 96 gallon toters from Allied (which we need because eight adults live at our
house) were replaced with one 35 gallon toter from Waste Management. We had to call twice to get the large toters we wanted.
Many of my neighbors had the same experience -- smaller toters were delivered than what they previously had, even though they
never requested downsizing.
Waste Management knew what the effect on rates would be if many customers used the smaller toters, so I’m not surprised that smaller toters were delivered even though they
Just something to consider before you lock in this proposed rate increase.
Toby Nixon calls on King County Councilmembers to Vote NO on the Metro
license tab tax increase
Toby Nixon, candidate for Kirkland City Council, sent the following message individually to each member of the King County Council:
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I urge you to vote NO on the proposed $20 tax increase on motor vehicles to subsidize Metro bus service.
Metro complains that their fuel and labor costs have increased, and that they need a “temporary” tax increase while they find new “sustainable” revenue sources. The fact is,
families throughout King County are struggling with cost increases of their own and have had to cut back significantly on their spending. They have seen huge increases in their cost of gas, food, and sewer service, among other things. Many families are barely making ends meet or are going further into debt every month, and do not have the ability to just reach into the pockets of their neighbors and take money to close the gap as Metro proposes to do.
It is morally reprehensible for us to lay more taxes on the backs of the poor and needy in our community so that we can continue providing cheap bus rides for doctors, lawyers, businessmen, and senior government employees to get to their high-paying jobs in downtown Seattle. Those who ride the bus as a
convenience at the expense of taxpayers already save hundreds of dollars a month on the cost of fuel, parking, vehicle maintenance, insurance, and, soon, tolls, and shouldn’t be subsidized further. It’s time we stopped providing taxpayer-funded bus fare subsidies to people who can afford to pay the full cost of the service they receive and who would still be saving money while doing so.
Instead of piling more Metro taxes on the poor, we should raise Metro bus fares to the level necessary to cover the full operation and maintenance cost of the system. We could then
use existing Metro tax dollars for targeted subsidies only for those who truly need it, by issuing vouchers to those who qualify that can be applied to purchasing discount bus passes, rather than subsidizing everyone who rides the bus.
Toby Nixon Speaks About Kirkland's Future at Campaign Event
By ROB BUTCHER
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KIRKLAND VIEWS EDITOR
Kirkland (June 15, 2011) -- On Tuesday morning, Kirkland City Council candidate Toby Nixon spoke before a group of enthusiastic supporters gathered for a campaign breakfast held in the gymnasium of the Kirkland Boys and Girls Club. Nixon, a former State Representative for the 45th District and former Commissioner for Fire Protection District 41, is challenging incumbent Jessica Greenway for her seat on the Kirkland City Council.
After introductory comments by several local and regional politicians including King County Councilmember Jane Hague, Nixon first thanked his family and friends for their support before addressing the audience. In speech, Nixon discussed several issues facing the citizens of Kirkland.
here to read the full article.
Former Legislator Toby Nixon to Challenge Jessica Greenway on City Council
By GREG JOHNSTON
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KIRKLAND PATCH EDITOR
Kirkland (May 9, 2011) -- Former state legislator Toby Nixon, who lives in an area that will officially become Kirkland when annexation takes effect June 1, announced Monday he will run against Jessica Greenway for City Council.
Nixon said he had filed with the state Public Disclosure Commission to run for Kirkland City Council Position 4. Greenway, the incumbent, announced in April that she would run for re-election.
Three council positions will be contested on the Nov. 8 ballot: the one held by Greenway and those held by Dave Asher and Bob Sternoff. Neither Asher nor Sternoff has announced his intentions.
here to read the full article.
Toby Nixon announces candidacy for Kirkland City Council
Kirkland (May 9, 2011) -- Former State Representative Toby Nixon announced today that he will seek election this year to the Kirkland City Council. He has filed as a candidate for Position 4, currently held by Jessica Greenway.
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“Our city is at a crossroads,” Nixon said. “To build the Kirkland we want for tomorrow, we need city government today that is fiscally responsible, encouraging to local businesses, and open and accountable to our citizens. I’ll work to build Kirkland’s tomorrow.”
Nixon is an experienced and active leader in our community. He serves as a commissioner of King County Fire Protection District 41, which provides fire and emergency medical service to the Kingsgate, North Juanita, and Finn Hill areas in cooperation with the Kirkland Fire Department. As state representative for the 45th District from 2002 to 2007, he represented many of the citizens of Kirkland in Olympia.
A consistent advocate for transparency and ethics in government, Nixon chaired the Kirkland Ethics Task Force, appointed by the city council to draft an ethics and conduct policy for members of the city council and city boards and commissions. He also serves as president of Washington Coalition for Open Government, a statewide non-profit non-partisan organization that educates citizens and public officials regarding access to public records and meetings.
“I want Kirkland to be an example of openness and accountability to cities throughout Washington, and go beyond the minimal basic requirements of state law on government transparency and ethics,” said Nixon. “We need a strong ethics code now, so we don’t repeat the problems we’ve seen in Bellevue and other cities, and comprehensive policies on disclosure to ensure citizens have access to public records promptly and cost-effectively. We have a right to know what our city officials are doing, and to expect them to serve the public interest and not personal or political gain.”
Nixon supports a healthy local business climate, and has been recognized as “Government Partner of the Year” by the Greater Redmond Chamber of Commerce and “Guardian of Small Business” by the National Federation of Independent Business. “We need jobs and businesses in Kirkland to grow if we expect the best services for our neighborhoods and families,” said Nixon. “Our business regulations, zoning, and tax policies must accommodate innovation and growth, while protecting the unique character of Kirkland and our neighborhoods.”
Nixon co-chaired Citizens for One Kirkland, the committee that supported annexation of Kingsgate, North Juanita, and Finn Hill into Kirkland. “I’m looking forward to my neighborhood finally being a part of the city of Kirkland on June 1. I’ve worked toward this goal for nearly a decade, unlike some on the city council who tried to block it and voted against it,” said Nixon. “I’m committed to bringing all parts of our city together, building a sustainable budget, and providing the essential services that the citizens and businesses in Kirkland deserve and expect.”
Nixon has been an active supporter of improving education and aiding the young people in our community through their challenges. He’s a member of the advisory councils of both the Lake Washington Schools Foundation and Youth Eastside Services, and a former board member of YES.
Nixon, 52, is a senior program manager in the Windows Ecosystem Engagement Team at Microsoft, assisting in developing technology standards strategies, representing Microsoft in national and international organizations, and promoting Microsoft technology initiatives to industry partners. He’s been with Microsoft and lived in Kirkland since 1993. He and his wife Irene have five children ages 18 to 26.
For more information, visit www.TobyNixon.com.