Seminars provide facts on records, meetings

By Bryan Dean Published: March 15, 2006
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Hundreds of public officials from across the state got a crash course in open government last year from Attorney General Drew Edmondson and his staff.

The seminars, sponsored by Edmondson's office, the Oklahoma Press Association and FOI Oklahoma, included information on how to comply with the state's Open Records Act and Open Meeting Act.

Time was allotted for questions so officials could get their specific concerns addressed, said Charlie Price, a spokesman for Edmondson's office.

The program began in 1998 and was repeated in 2001, 2003 and 2005. Edmondson said he does not hold the seminars in election years because he doesn't want them to be viewed as political.

Mark Thomas, executive vice president of the Oklahoma Press Association, said the sessions were free and open to anyone. The 11 sessions held across the state from August to December had a combined attendance of about 900.

"I thought the seminars were very effective," Thomas said. "It was a chance for everyone in that area to come together and ask their questions directly of the attorney general or his staff."

Thomas said many public officials want to do things right and have made efforts to comply with the law.

"The problem, I think, is that many of the people who need to be there never show up," Thomas said. "It's the people that don't care that need to be there."

The seminars are expected to continue in 2007. Thomas said they give officials the chance to talk about issues before they come up.


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Attendance
Attendance at 2005 open meeting and open records seminars put on by the state attorney general's office.

Aug. 23, Claremore: 95

Aug. 30, Shawnee: 120

Sept. 7, Enid: 90

Sept. 15, Duncan: 45

Sept. 22, Woodward: 75

Oct. 18, Bartlesville: 70

Oct. 27, Durant: 90

Nov. 4, Tahlequah: 80

Nov. 8, Elk City: 55

Nov. 15, Lawton: 95

Dec. 7, Oklahoma City: 125

Source: Oklahoma attorney general's office

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