Sunday, July 10, 2011

Norman councilman proposes city advisory committees meet publicly, city officials end practice of deleting emails daily

Committees advising the city of Norman would have to abide by the state Open Meeting Act and city emails would be kept for at least one year, under a proposal by Councilman Tom Kovach.

Kovach also wants executive sessions of the city's public bodies to be recorded.

His proposal is on the agenda for the City Council's regular meeting Tuesday.

Under what would become Norman's first records retention policy, "all records, written and electronic, shall be retained for at least 1 year unless there is pending litigation, in which case it will be retained for at least 2 years after the ultimate disposition or the resolution of the litigation."

"I have received stiff opposition to even this limited time," said Kovach. "Staff insists this will put a burden on our existing storage capacity and is trying to limit this. It not perfect but it is better than what they do now, which is delete every day."

Under Kovach's proposal, "all meetings of committees, sub committees and ad hoc committees" would be subject to the Open Meeting Act and to a state statute requiring that notices and agendas for regularly scheduled meetings be posted on the public body's website.

Kovach said this provision is intended to cover advisory committees, even those appointed by the mayor, regardless of whether they have actual or de facto decision-making power.

Kovach is one of five Norman council members to have signed FOI Oklahoma's Open Government Pledge as candidates. The others are Carol Dillingham, Hal Ezzell, Roger Gallagher and Mayor Cindy Rosenthal.

Each promised to "support at every opportunity the public policy of the State of Oklahoma that the people are vested with the inherent right to know and be fully informed about their government so that they can efficiently and intelligently exercise their inherent political power."

Kovach's proposal would do just that.

Joey Senat, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
OSU School of Media & Strategic Communications

The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the commentators and do not necessarily represent the position of FOI Oklahoma Inc., its staff, or its board of directors. Differing interpretations of open government law and policy are welcome.

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