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.”
Records searchThe 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. An e-mail from Smith explained the decision. "Mr. Martin could claim that his date of birth is confidential, however, after much debate and consideration, the City has decided that Mr. Martin’s interest is outweighed by the public’s exercise of their political power,” Smith said.
All birth datesCity officials have not answered a request by The Oklahoman for all city employee birth dates. Calls to Martin’s home went unanswered Thursday. A search of public court records shows Martin declared personal bankruptcy July 7 in part to settle a debt of more than $1,500 with Citifinancial Services. The city’s investigation into the weed-and-seed program has been put on hold because auditors from the U.S. Office of Inspector General started looking into the case. The city is waiting for federal officials to complete their work before continuing the personnel investigation. Weed-and-seed is a program allowing cities to seek federal grants and other money for increased police enforcement and social programs in high-crime areas.