Friday, July 3, 2009

Tulsa library board: No minutes of executive session; another OMA violation

The Tulsa City-County Library Commission doesn't keep minutes of its executive sessions, the Tulsa World reported this morning.

So rack up another violation of the state Open Meeting law by this board.

Minutes of executive session discussions must be kept, the state Supreme Court said in 1980.

(Berry v. Bd. of Governors of Registered Dentists, 1980 OK 45, ¶12, 611 P.2d 628, 631. (“Although the municipal attorneys' case permits executive sessions on the advice of counsel in certain specified instances, it does not abrogate the statutory requirement that minutes be kept and recorded.”))

State Attorney General Drew Edmondson came to the same conclusion in a 1996 written opinion. (
1996 OK AG 100, ¶ 5)

"The Oklahoma Supreme Court has held that the requirement for minutes to be kept and recorded also applies to executive sessions," Edmondson said.

He also said state legislators had "explicitly recognized that the requirement to keep a summary of the proceedings in the form of written minutes extends to executive sessions."

Edmondson noted that Legislators had kept confidential the minutes of lawful executive sessions under the Open Records Act
(OKLA. STAT. tit. 51, § 24A.5(1)(b)) and had mandated that a willful violation of the Open Meeting Act caused the executive session minutes to be made public. (OKLA. STAT. tit. 25, § 307(F)).

The penalty for violating the Open Meeting Act is one year in the county jail and/or a $500 fine.

Which public bodies in your area routinely don't keep minutes of their executive sessions? Might be worth asking them.

Joey Senat, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
OSU School of Journalism

1 comment:

Differing interpretations of law and policy are welcome. Personal attacks and character assassinations will be rejected.