Already under criminal investigation for possible violations of the state Open Meeting Act, the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board canceled a special board meeting Tuesday to avoid potentially violating the law again.
The issue, once again, was vaguely worded agenda items.
The first item listed on the agenda for Tuesday's canceled meeting was “Discussion and Subsequent vote.”
The agenda item didn't say what was to be discussed or voted upon.
Coincidently, the second item on the agenda was to be a review of suggestions made by the governor and board members “regarding expanding openness and transparency of the Pardon and Parole Board Meetings.”
The slipup occurred less than two weeks after Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater wrote a letter informing the board that it was under criminal investigation by his office. The investigation stems from the board repeatedly recommending inmates for early release consideration during business conducted under a recurring agenda item that Prater said didn't properly inform the public what would be occurring.
Terry Jenks, director of the Pardon and Parole Board, said the board decided to reschedule the board meeting after receiving calls from The Oklahoman and one other person Monday questioning the agenda.
“We got to looking at our agenda and realized it may have been unclear, and so we decided just to be overly cautious, we'd just postpone the meeting for a couple of days and do a new notice to make sure there wasn't any ambiguity,” Jenks said.
Jenks said staff members put the agenda together in a hurry, which resulted in the unclear language.
The “Discussion and Subsequent Vote” language, listed as item I on the agenda, actually referred to potential actions concerning items II, III and IV on the agenda, he said.
In addition to reviewing suggestions for improving openness and transparency, the other agenda items were to include a review of security at Pardon and Parole Board meetings and “breaking any tie votes from August 2012 Pardon and Parole Board Meeting.”
The agenda didn't say what tie votes were to be considered.
Prater declined to comment on Tuesday's canceled meeting agenda.
He previously criticized board members for bringing inmates up for early release consideration under “an obscure, recurring agenda item” labeled “docket modifications.”
Prater said that item gave “no notice to the public” of what business the board would be conducting.
Prater said his criminal investigation of the board is continuing.
Jenks said the Pardon and Parole Board's special meeting likely will be rescheduled for Friday.