Indifference to, ignorance about Oklahoma open record laws par for the course

The Oklahoman Editorial Published: August 27, 2012
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A district attorney in Kansas gave state lawmakers a pass last week over concerns that they violated the Kansas Open Meetings Act by attending private dinners hosted by the governor where the legislative agenda was mentioned.

The DA said technical violations of the open meeting law may have occurred, but that lawmakers didn't willfully break the law because they didn't fully understand it. “We must conclude that the legislators acted out of ignorance of the applicable law,” the prosecutor said.

Oklahoma lawmakers don't have to worry about such inquiries. They made sure to exempt themselves from the majority of state open meeting and open records laws. But the Kansas DA's finding of ignorance could be applied to any number of public bodies across our state.

The Tulsa World reported on its recent effort to obtain records from eight counties and 15 cities or towns in northeastern Oklahoma. The newspaper asked for payroll records, police radio logs and copies of emails — simple stuff. Yet all too often, the requests were met with at least some resistance.

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