Sunday, February 14, 2010

What part of ‘Open’ don’t they understand?

Helen Barrett of the Alva Review-Courier asked that question on the newspaper's opinion page last week.

She wondered what an airport commission member meant when he motioned to table the solution to a longtime, long-discussed problem "until we have time to talk this over."

Barrett said the comment "seems to suggest a decision will be reached improperly – if not illegally – in privately held discussions somewhere out of the eye of the public."

Barrett, a member of FOI Oklahoma's board of directors, posted a video of the commissioner making the remark. So decide for yourself.

Either way, Barrett's column provided a useful reminder to all public bodies in Oklahoma:

Public meetings are where public business is supposed to be discussed. Things aren’t supposed to be tabled until the board members can 'discuss' it in private – away from the public, away from reporters or video cameras.

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

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