McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

December 3, 2012

Open Meetings Open Records law class given

By Jeanne LeFlore
Staff Writer

McALESTER —  

Two high-ranking officials with the Oklahoma Attorney Generals office gave a seminar on Thursday to explain the Open Meetings Open Records Act.
The seminar was open to public and was held at the Kiamichi Technology Center.
Jan Preslar Senior Assistant Attorney General of the state of Oklahoma and taught the three hour seminar along with the Attorney general’s Communications Director Diane Clay.
Each attendee received a book called “Open Meeting & Open Records”  provided by the Oklahoma Press Association.
Preslar gave the first part of the seminar about the open meeting law. 
The class covered topics such as agendas and when and where to post them, when a special meeting is allowed and explored the reasons for  executive sessions. 
Audience members included Cora Middleton clerk for the city of McAlester and Cathy Thornton secretary for Pittsburg County Election board. Both women said the class was helpful and informative.
Sandy Bahe from the Pittsburg County Expo Authority board said this was her first year on a county board and she was eager to learn about the law. “I was so glad to get the book,” Bahe said. “This is my first time on a board and I’m trying to do the best I can.”
Clay taught the second half on the law regarding open records. She said the central issue for determining whether an entity is a public body is to determine whether the entity is if it’s “supported in whole or in part by public funds or entrusted with the expenditure of public funds or administering or operating public property.” She said merely doing business with the State is not ordinarily considered sufficient to turn a private entity into a public body. 
What exactly is a public record was discussed as well as how to request the records.
Thornton said she has attended classes similar to this one but
 “I can always learn more.” she said.
Contact Jeanne LeFlore at jleflore@mcalesternews.com.