Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Tulsa mayoral candidate won't sign FOI Oklahoma's Open Government Pledge

Kathy Taylor won't sign a pledge promising voters that she will comply with the state's open government laws if elected to her old job as Tulsa mayor.
Taylor and her two opponents, Mayor Dewey Bartlett Jr. and former City Councilman Bill Christiansen, were sent letters Monday asking them to sign FOI Oklahoma's Open Government Pledge as they campaign for Tulsa's first non-partisan mayoral primary on June 11.
Bartlett and Christiansen haven't responded to the request. Both men signed the pledge when they ran for offices in 2009: Bartlett for mayor, and Christiansen for re-election to the City Council.
Taylor's political director, Monroe Nichols, responded on her behalf in an email Tuesday.
"While Kathy is a supporter of your message and mission, she's not signing issue pledges during the campaign," Nichols wrote.
Some 140 candidates have signed the pledge since FOI Oklahoma began it in spring 2008. Just over half -- 73 -- have been elected.
The pledge was begun as part of a national effort to spur public commitments to government transparency from candidates for president down to city council contests.
By signing the pledge, candidates for state and local offices promise that their respective governments 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."
Taylor, Bartlett and Christiansen recently responded to a Tulsa World survey asking how they "would improve the openness of city government, including communications and open records policies."
Taylor said Tulsa "should have an open-platform data portal that allows fast responses to Open Records requests, instant access to city information and encourages the development of new and innovative applications for that data that improve the way the city runs."
Nichols described Taylor as "a strong supporter of transparency and open government."
Taylor's campaign website says that if elected, she will:
  • Improve city government transparency and responsiveness by working to speed up responses to public requests for information, and increasing accountability to the public for timely service.
  • Bring Tulsa government into the 21st Century by making more public records, forms, and services accessible to all citizens online.
However, it doesn't mention ensuring Tulsa's compliance with the state's open government laws.

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