WOODWARD — A district judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by the Woodward Industrial Foundation in an effort to keep from having to comply with the Oklahoma Open Meeting Act and Open Records Act.
At a hearing Thursday, Garfield County District Judge Paul Woodward dismissed the case because of lack of jurisdiction.
“I'm real pleased with the ruling,” said Woodward County District Attorney Hollis Thorp, who sparked the lawsuit when he informed foundation board members they must abide by the Open Meeting Act.
Thorp acted after receiving a complaint from a Woodward woman who was blocked from attending a foundation meeting.
The Woodward Industrial Foundation had argued it was not a public body and should not be required to comply with the Open Meeting Act and Open Records Act.
The foundation contended it is a private, not-for-profit corporation that contracts with the City of Woodward to recruit businesses and promote economic development. The city is to pay the foundation $32,000 a month for its services under a contract amendment approved earlier this week.
“Given the fiercely competitive nature of its business (the business of economic development and recruitment), WIF must keep the majority of its business activities confidential,” the foundation argued. “The WIF cannot operate effectively, nor can it continue to provide effective services under its contract with the city, unless it enjoys the privacy and discretion that is expected from its business contacts.”
It could not be determined whether an appeal is planned. LaVern Phillips, president of the Woodward Industrial Foundation, and Cody Hodgden, the foundation's attorney, did not return telephone calls Friday.