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Oklahoma City gives birth date of worker in inquiry

BY BRYAN DEAN Modified: April 2, 2010 at 6:30 pm •  Published: December 18, 2009
Oklahoma City has released the birth date of an employee placed on administrative leave during an investigation into misspending in the city’s weed-and-seed crime prevention program.

Ed Martin, 52, director of the program, was put on administrative leave with pay in August after city officials started investigating mismanagement of money in the office. According to court records, Martin filed personal bankruptcy a month before the city’s investigation began.

After releasing Martin’s name by accident, city officials refused to release his birth date to The Oklahoman, citing a clause in the Oklahoma Open Records Act allowing an agency to keep personnel records confidential if releasing them would be a "clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.”

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The city’s decision angered open government advocates who claimed they were misinterpreting the law. Because there are numerous Ed Martins in the state, it is impossible to check his name in court records and other databases without a birth date.

Attorney General Drew Edmondson released an opinion on public employee birth dates earlier this month and revised it last week. The opinion said birth dates are presumed open because they are not explicitly exempted from the Oklahoma Open Records Act.

The opinion also forbids agencies from establishing a blanket policy against releasing birth dates, saying a determination that releasing a birth date would be an invasion of privacy must be made on a case-by-case basis and must be weighed against the public interest in having the record open.

Richard Smith, head of the city attorney’s litigation division, released Martin’s birth date to The Oklahoman this week. Your Right to Know:

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