The Norman Transcript

Government

March 15, 2013

The search for the truth: Making an open records request

NORMAN — On Wednesday, City Attorney Jeff Bryant refused to release a redacted version of the mayor’s Feb. 19 memo to The Transcript. At that time, Bryant said the memo is an extension of the executive session. But the executive session of Feb. 12 had long since closed, and there is no authority in the law to extend executive sessions indefinitely through memo, email or otherwise.

“When public bodies finish an executive session, they vote to end the executive session and re-enter the regular session,” said Dr. Joey Senat, associate professor at OSU School of Media and Strategic Communications. “So how can they have a continuation of an executive session after the meeting is adjourned? The answer is that they can’t. A public body can’t claim that an executive session continues on and on.”

Senat writes an open government blog for FOI Oklahoma.

“I deal with these issues every day,” Senat said. “Open government is my research area.”

On Thursday, Bryant again refused to release the memo, saying it constitutes client-attorney confidentiality. But the memo is issued by the mayor to the city council. Any legal opinions in the memo are limited and would not fall into privileged areas. Releasing the memo would not limit the ability of the city to negotiate with a union or to purchase land, for example. There is no compelling reason to keep the memo confidential.

Bryant was not willing to redact, or black out allegedly protected portions of the memo, to release information that should be subject to public scrutiny. Title 51 Section 24 of the law allows that “Any reasonably segregable portion of a record containing exempt material shall be provided after deletion of the exempt portions.”

Bryant said the document should be confidential, not because of content but because of the process.

“Our perspective is we have a statute that says memorialization of records of what transpires in meetings closed to the public are not subject to the open records act,” Bryant said.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Government
  • Congressman Cole reflects on recovery

    Congressman Tom Cole’s home in Moore was not hit by the May 20 tornado but it came pretty close. His wife has made it clear she wants a saferoom, he said. In a visit to the Transcript on Friday afternoon, Cole talked about tornado ...

    April 19, 2014

  • Oklahoma Water Resources Board grants Norman low-interest loan for facility upgrade

    Norman has been authorized for a $50.3 million loan from the Oklahoma Water Resources Board to fund Phase 2 of the Norman Water Reclamation Facility upgrade. “It’s the single largest loan OWRB has made,” Norman Mayor Cindy Rosenthal said. ...

    April 17, 2014

  • General fund continues to decline as expenses exceed anticipated revenues

    Norman’s expenses will again outstrip projected revenue in the current budget before the city council. The budget for the fiscal year that starts in July and ends June 30, 2015, projects $210,982,020 in total revenues and $213,436,778 in ...

    April 16, 2014

  • County hears presentation on employment opportunities

    The Cleveland County Board of Commissioners listened to a presentation Monday to consider partnering with a nonprofit that provides employment opportunities for prison inmates re-entering the community. Patrick Viklund, Center for ...

    April 15, 2014

  • Drilling operation shows policy gap

    While Norman residents are being encouraged to use rain barrels, a Texas oil and gas company is pumping thousands of gallons of treated drinking water into the ground. The Oklahoma Corporation Commission controls permits for drilling, ...

    April 12, 2014

  • Filings finished

    In addition to Ward 2 Norman City Council candidates Clint Williams and Aliesha Karjala several federal, state and county officials will be on the June 24 ballots. Filing for offices that serve Cleveland County residents are: · ...

    April 12, 2014

  • Fracking review online

    The Oklahoma Hydraulic Fracturing State Review is available on the Corporation Commission’s website, occeweb.com. Completed in 2011 by a non-profit, multi-stakeholder organization, State Review of Oil and Natural Gas Environmental ...

    April 12, 2014

  • Candidates file for state and federal positions Thursday

    New filings on Thursday include: ; ...

    April 11, 2014

  • City briefs

    Egg hunt today  Norman’s Easter Egg Hunt will be today at Andrews Park. Activities — including moon bounces, games, giveaways and Easter Bunny photos (bring your own camera) — will start at 5:30 p.m....

    April 11, 2014

  • Norman residents among those seeking to run for county, state offices in first day of filing

    Filing for county and state offices started Wednesday and continues from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. today and Friday. A handful of Democrats and a trickle of Independents vye with a field heavy-laden with Republican candidates. There are few ...

    April 10, 2014