Sunday, September 30, 2012

Kiowa town trustee kicked off board for failing to take open government training

A Kiowa town trustee was removed from the board because he failed to undergo mandatory training that includes the state's open government laws, the McAlester News-Capital reported last week.
Ray Goss had one year from the date he was elected in April 2011 to take the training, which is offered by the Oklahoma Municipal League.
Newly elected and appointed municipal officials must undergo the daylong training in their first year of office or they "shall cease to hold the office." (OKLA. STAT. tit. 11, § 8-114(A)(C)(E))
The curriculum includes municipal budget requirements, the Open Meeting Act, the Open Records Act, ethics, procedures for conducting meetings, conflict of interest, and purchasing procedures. (§ 8-114(C))
Because Goss continued to serve on the board past April, the town's newly appointed attorney is reviewing all motions and votes Goss made.
"We are now going to have to re-look at all the decisions the board made since April," said John Thomas.
Mayor Janelle Beaver announced Goss' departure from the board during Monday's regular meeting of the Kiowa Board of Trustees.
The McAlester News-Capital reported that other trustees asked Thomas if Goss could be reappointed after taking the training.
The newspaper paraphrased Thomas as saying the purpose of the law is not to find a way around it but to cause municipal officials to be responsible for their position.
"We need to follow the law," Thomas said. "That was the intention of the legislature."
Kudos to Thomas for that answer.
The Oklahoma Municipal League website lists officials who have completed the training.

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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