OklahomaWatchdog.org, Society of Professional Journalists focus on open meeting violations, related issues

Possible violations of state open meeting June requirements and transparency requirements are attracting the attention of news reporters in Oklahoma, including members of the Society of Professional Journalists.

The Tulsa World reported Saturday (June 18) that a member of the Human Services Commission believes the panel increased child care co-payments without proper public notice. 

Commissioner Steven Dow said the commission acted improperly. He also agreed with Peter J. Rudy of OklahomaWatchdog.org  that the panel did not properly adjourn a meeting where the vote was taken on the increased payments.

Rudy says the vote to adjourn did not occur in open session, as is required by law. He has reported the apparent violation to the Oklahoma County District Attorney’s office. He has been interviewed on the subject and is pressing his case that the DHS board mishandled its agenda items for the June

The situation was considered in the most recent Capitol Watch podcast that regularly features Rudy and radio journalist Billie Rodely. 

In other news, today (Monday, June 20), M. Scott Carter of The Journal Record newspaper in Oklahoma City wrote to SPJ board members and others seeking their input on intensified concerns among journalists about violations of freedom of information and open record provisions.

Carter, recently elected president of the Oklahoma professional chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, called attention to a FOI “pledge” (drafted by FOI Oklahoma) some journalists would like to submit to candidates for local District Attorney posts in Oklahoma.

Lack of clarity in posting of items to be considered in executive sessions is a common thread in recent incidents involving public bodies.

Associate Professor Joey Senat, of Oklahoma State University’s School of Media & Strategic Communications today detailed the contention of District Attorney James M. Boring, who oversees the Oklahoma Panhandle, that a Texas County Board of Control meeting left out proper listing of items under consideration at a May 24 meeting.

Although he said the violations in that case were not willful, Boring laid out steps the board should take to avoid future transgressions.