Saturday, January 14, 2012

Norman councilman is first 2012 candidate to sign FOI Oklahoma's Open Government Pledge

Norman Councilman Tom Kovach has renewed his support for open government as he seeks another two-year term in the city's municipal election on April 3.

Kovach, 49, is the first candidate in a 2012 election to sign FOI Oklahoma's Open Government Pledge.

He also signed the pledge when he ran for re-election to the Ward 2 seat in 2010.

Freedom of Information Oklahoma Inc. invites all candidates for municipal offices this spring to sign the pledge to uphold the letter and spirit of the state's Open Meeting and Open Records laws.

Instructions and a list of signers for the 2011 elections can be found on FOI Oklahoma’s Web site,

This past summer, Kovach's fellow council members approved his proposals to make Norman city government more transparent.

Under what became Norman's first records retention policy, all city emails and other records must 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."

Also, all committees, sub committees and ad hoc committees must abide by the state Open Meeting Act
and a state statute requiring that notices and agendas for regularly scheduled meetings be posted on the public body's website.

Kovach said that provision covers advisory committees, even those appointed by the mayor, regardless of whether they have actual or de facto decision-making power.

By signing the Open Government Pledge, candidates promise, "I and the public bodies that I am elected to govern will comply with not only the letter but also the spirit of Oklahoma's Open Meeting and Open Records laws."

They also promise “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.”

FOI Oklahoma began the Open Government Pledge in spring 2008 as part of a national effort to spur public commitments to government transparency from candidates for president down to city council contests.

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

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