OK-SAFE, Inc. Blog

June 18, 2014

Judge Swinton rules on Fallin Open Records case

Filed under: Exposing Health Care Reform — Tags: , , , , , — oksafeinc @ 12:37 am

OK-SAFE, Inc. – This is an update on the open records lawsuit filed against OK Gov. Fallin by The Lost Ogle and the ACLU. See our earlier post on this issue for background details.

Rather than ‘executive privilege’, “The court finds the deliberative process privilege thus may be used by the defendant to protect the content of documents withheld by the defendant.”

Royalty

From the Tulsa World, 6/17/14:

Judge rules Gov. Fallin can withhold documents on her ACA-Medicaid decision, by Barbara Hoberock

OKLAHOMA CITY — Gov. Mary Fallin has the power to withhold documents from the public based on a “deliberative process” privilege, a judge ruled Tuesday.

“The court finds the deliberative process privilege is recognized under common law in Oklahoma, and it is supported by Supreme Court rule as an exception to the Oklahoma Open Records Act,” the opinion by Oklahoma County District Judge Barbara Swinton states. “The court finds the deliberative process privilege thus may be used by the defendant to protect the content of documents withheld by the defendant.”

The opinion notes the purpose of the privilege “is to ensure that subordinates within an agency will (be able) to provide the decision maker with their uninhibited opinions and recommendations without fear of later being subjected to public ridicule or criticism.”  Rest here.

From News9, 6/17/14:

Oklahoma Judge Rules Governor Mary Fallin Can Withhold Documents

OKLAHOMA CITY –

An Oklahoma County judge has upheld Gov. Mary Fallin’s legal right to withhold documents requested by news organizations under Oklahoma’s Open Records Act.

District Judge Barbara Swinton handed down the ruling Tuesday in a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union.

The lawsuit on behalf of the satirical news website The Lost Ogle was joined with several news organizations, including The Associated Press, in a request for documents related to Fallin’s decisions to reject a state health insurance exchange and to expand Medicaid coverage to thousands of low-income and uninsured Oklahomans. Rest here.

The Lost Ogle, 6/17/14, has a slightly different take on the judge’s decision:

The Judge Has Ruled in our Open Records Lawsuit…    by Patrick

Earlier today, Judge Swinton released her verdict in our Open Records lawsuit against Mary Fallin. Although we didn’t “win” the case, we didn’t necessarily “lose” it either….

1. The judge agreed with us that Mary Fallin doesn’t have the “executive privilege” to withhold the emails. That’s important

2. Deliberative Process Privilege is part of common law and comes with a catch. Judge Swinton ruled Mary Fallin has 20 days to produce a privilege log of the documents she wants to keep secret. In the log, only the content of the emails can be withheld. Basically, Fallin’s office has to put together the dates, sender, recipients of subject lines of all the secret emails. It’s a start.  Rest here.

The Lost Ogle goes on the say there is likely to be an appeal to the Supreme Court on this issue.

Good.

 

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June 15, 2014

Oklahoma Judge to rule on Open Records Request

OK-SAFE, Inc. – (Background note: In mid-2010 former OK Governor Brad Henry signed the grant application for a $54 million Early Innovator grant to establish an insurance exchange in Oklahoma.  This exchange was a cornerstone of Obama Care.  In February 2011 Governor Mary Fallin accepted the grant money, after having won the 2010 election campaigning against Obama Care.

Public outrage and political push back followed.

In late April 2011 Fallin did an ‘about face’ and rejected the $54 million. Open records request by various news outlets sought the correspondence leading up to this decision.  In March 2013 Gov. Fallin’s office released 50,000 pages of documents. Missing were 100 pages of correspondence, held back claiming “executive privilege”.  The Lost Ogle and the ACLU then sued the Governor, seeking the missing documents.)

From FOI Oklahoma, June 13, 2014:

Ruling expected today on whether executive, deliberative process privileges allow Oklahoma governor to keep records secret

An Oklahoma County trial judge said Thursday she expects to rule “by the end of the week” on whether executive and deliberative process privileges permit Gov. Mary Fallin to keep records secret from the public.

Because Fallin is the first Oklahoma governor to claim these privileges, Oklahoma courts have never addressed the issue.

“I am just trying to find out how much authority I have out there to rely on,” District Judge Barbara Swinton told Fallin’s attorney during heard oral arguments Thursday.

The Lost Ogle and the ACLU of Oklahoma sued Fallin in April 2013 after she claimed these privileges allow her to keep secret 100 pages of advice from “senior executive branch officials” on the creation of a state health insurance exchange.

(Vandelay Entertainment LLC v. Fallin, Mary, No. CV-2013-763 (Okla. Co. April 9, 2013))

Fallin’s decision to reject Medicaid expansion funding affected about 250,000 Oklahomans.

The phrases “executive privilege” and “deliberate process privilege” do not exist in Oklahoma’s Constitution or in any Oklahoma statute.

Rest of post here.

We will post the judge’s decision when it becomes available.

 

November 26, 2012

Reminder! Open Meeting and Open Records Acts Seminars – Hosted by OK A.G.’s office

Filed under: Network — Tags: , , , , , , , — oksafeinc @ 1:54 pm

OK-SAFE, Inc. – REMINDER! Three More Open Meetings and Records Seminars left  – November 29th,  December 6th and 13th. Details about the times and locations are below.

Want to become better informed and make government more transparent?

The Oklahoma Attorney General’s office is hosting 6 3 more seminars on Oklahoma’s Open Meeting and Open Records Acts, from September 27, 2012 November 29 through December 13, 2012.  This is a great opportunity for grassroots groups to expand their knowledge of how these two acts work, how to successfully make open records requests, and gain access to those all-important source documents.

More information is on the Oklahoma Press Association website.

Press Release from the A.G.’s office.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Media Contacts:

Diane Clay, Communications Director for Attorney General Scott Pruitt, (405) 522-0166, (405) 250-8792 cell, Diane.Clay@oag.ok.gov

Karee Pyeatt, Public Information Officer, (405) 522-4400, Karee.Pyeatt@oag.ok.gov

Attorney General offers Open Meeting and Open Records Seminars

Attorney General Scott Pruitt’s office will host six regional seminars on the Oklahoma Open Meeting and Open Records Acts. The regional seminars are being held across the state in partnership with the Oklahoma Press Association and Oklahoma Newspaper Foundation.

This year’s meetings will feature Rob Hudson, First Assistant Attorney General and former Payne County District Attorney, and the attorney general’s Communications Director Diane Clay, who has 20 years of experience working in media and government.

“Oklahoma’s open meeting and open records laws provide the framework for public access to government,” Attorney General Scott Pruitt said.  “The seminars are an excellent opportunity for community residents and public officers to learn more about transparency in government.”

The seminars are designed to answer questions concerning the state’s open meeting and records laws and inform elected or appointed officials about their responsibility under the acts. Hudson and Clay will also discuss requirements on access to public records and the conduct of public meetings.

There is no cost or registration required to attend. Attorneys can receive three continuing legal education credit hours from the Oklahoma Bar Association for attending the seminar. School board members and superintendents can get three continuing education credit hours from the Oklahoma State Department of Education, and technology center board members can earn three continuing education credit hours from the state Department of Career and Technology Education.

The seminars will be 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. and are open to the public. The remaining three meetings will be held at these locations across Oklahoma:

  • November 29, McAlester – Kiamichi Technology  Center, 301 Kiamichi Drive, McAlester, OK 74501
  • Dec. 6, Tulsa – Tulsa Technology Center, Riverside Campus, 801 E. 91st Street, Tulsa, OK 74132
  • Dec. 13, Enid – Autry Technology Center, 1201 W. Willow Rd., Enid, OK 73703

For more information, call (888) 815-2672 or go online to http://www.okpress.com/seminars.

September 19, 2012

A.G.’s Office to Host Seminars on OK Open Meeting and Open Records Acts

Filed under: Network — Tags: , , , , , , , — oksafeinc @ 12:47 am

OK-SAFE, Inc. – Want to become better informed and make government more transparent?

The Oklahoma Attorney General’s office is hosting 6 seminars on Oklahoma’s Open Meeting and Open Records Acts, from September 27, 2012 through December 13, 2012.  This is a great opportunity for grassroots groups to expand their knowledge of how these two acts work, how to successfully make open records requests, and gain access to those all-important source documents.

More information is on the Oklahoma Press Association website.

Press Release from the A.G.’s office.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Media Contacts:

Diane Clay, Communications Director for Attorney General Scott Pruitt, (405) 522-0166, (405) 250-8792 cell, Diane.Clay@oag.ok.gov

Karee Pyeatt, Public Information Officer, (405) 522-4400, Karee.Pyeatt@oag.ok.gov

Attorney General offers Open Meeting and Open Records Seminars

Attorney General Scott Pruitt’s office will host six regional seminars on the Oklahoma Open Meeting and Open Records Acts. The regional seminars are being held across the state in partnership with the Oklahoma Press Association and Oklahoma Newspaper Foundation.

This year’s meetings will feature Rob Hudson, First Assistant Attorney General and former Payne County District Attorney, and the attorney general’s Communications Director Diane Clay, who has 20 years of experience working in media and government.

“Oklahoma’s open meeting and open records laws provide the framework for public access to government,” Attorney General Scott Pruitt said.  “The seminars are an excellent opportunity for community residents and public officers to learn more about transparency in government.”

The seminars are designed to answer questions concerning the state’s open meeting and records laws and inform elected or appointed officials about their responsibility under the acts. Hudson and Clay will also discuss requirements on access to public records and the conduct of public meetings.

There is no cost or registration required to attend. Attorneys can receive three continuing legal education credit hours from the Oklahoma Bar Association for attending the seminar. School board members and superintendents can get three continuing education credit hours from the Oklahoma State Department of Education, and technology center board members can earn three continuing education credit hours from the state Department of Career and Technology Education. The seminars will be 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. and are open to the public. 

The meetings will be held from 1 to 4 p.m. at six locations across Oklahoma:

  • Sept. 27, Lawton, Great Plains Technology Center, 4500 W Lee Blvd;
  • Oct. 18, Weatherford, Stafford Air & Space Museum, 3000 Logan Road;
  • Oct. 25, Oklahoma City, Metro Technology Center, 1900 Springlake Dr.,
  • November 29, McAlester,Kiamichi Technology  Center, 301 Kiamichi Drive;
  • Dec. 6, Tulsa, Tulsa Technology Center-Riverside Campus, 801 E. 91st Street;
  • Dec. 13, Enid, Autry Technology Center, 1201 W. Willow Rd.

For more information, call (888) 815-2672 or go online to http://www.okpress.com/seminars.

 

June 29, 2011

Office of the Historian – Researchers Dream

This goes under the category of “You learn something new everyday.”

It is safe to say that most researchers operate as a sort of combination detective/historian. They love the thrill of the hunt and don’t mind reading what would bore most other people to death. They want to know the facts about what, when, where, how, and why certain things happen. And who did it.

They seek source documents and love archives – whether the dusty boxed kind in poorly lit warehouses or the tidy electronic kind available in pdf format. Source documents and originals paperwork, necessary for sound research, is a thrill to get access to and better than ice cream.

Not having to pay for it is another.

Check out the Office of the Historian at the U.S. State Department website.  This site and it’s contents were discovered while studying the FOIA law on the State Dept. website.

(Digging into this State Dept. FOIA process was necessary because one of our document requests is getting nowhere.  It seems the State Dept. is having a hard time disclosing the actual Memorandum of Understanding Creating the U.S.-China Governors Forum, announced on January 19, 2011 by Sec. Clinton. This forum, sponsored by the National Governors Association and a Chinese group, is to meet in Salt Lake City, Utah on July 15-17, 2011 at the 5-star Grand American Hotel. For details on this event see the “Sleeping With the Enemy” post below.)

The Office of the Historian has lots of information, with one section called Foreign Relations of the United States, listing four administrations: the Kennedy Administration (includes pre-Kennedy documents); the Johnson Administration; and two Nixon-Ford administrations (the Nixon/Agnew/Ford years, and the Nixon/Ford/Rockefeller years.)

The Nixon-Ford eras are important because we are living with the results of having developed intimate relationships with what were the Communist bloc countries – the Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China.  It is important to understand how the U.S. developed its current interdependency with the Chinese; this means one needs to understand Henry A. Kissinger, the man present before, during and after the Nixon-Ford years and instrumental in directing policy decisions regarding both the Soviet Union and “Red China”, as it is referred to in several of these archived documents.

Kissinger really liked the communists. And still does.

Click the link to historical Documents on Foreign Relations of the United States to see the four Administrations noted above.

Click Status of the Series to see new and upcoming additions:

Foreign Relations of the United States: Status of the Series

Volumes Published in 2011 (1)

  1. 1969–1976, Volume E–12, Documents on East and Southeast Asia, 1973–1976 (March 3)

Volumes Published in 2010 (6)

  1. 1969–1976, Volume XIX, Part 1, Korea, 1969–1972 (May 4)
  2. 1969–1976, Volume VIII, Vietnam, January–October 1972 (June 24)
  3. 1969–1976, Volume VII, Vietnam, July 1970–January 1972 (September 8)
  4. 1969–1976, Volume IX, Vietnam, October 1972–January 1973 (September 16)
  5. 1969–1976, Volume X, Vietnam, January 1973–July 1975 (September 23)
  6. 1969–1976, Volume XXXII, SALT I, 1969–1972 (November 5)

This last item – SALT I – is where the U.S. began to disarm while the Soviets built up armament.  Kissinger helped negotiate this treaty.

Bookmark this site – and dig in.

September 3, 2009

Gov’t blocking open records requests?

Filed under: Education — Tags: , , , , — oksafeinc @ 3:12 am
This is a perfect example of the problem with MOUs (Memorandum of Understanding) and other information sharing agreements public (government) agencies have with other public (government) agencies and with the private sector – a shut-off of open record requests and an end to transparency in government.
 
The quote below from a ‘liberal’ new site is interesting due to the response to an open records request to the Colorado Fusion Center:
[Source: http://centerforinvestigativereporting.org/articles/arethingsanydifferentindenver]
 
The Center for Investigative Reporting sought to examine documents from fusion centers in both Denver and St. Paul to better understand what roles they played in the security preparations for last year’s Democratic and Republican national conventions. But authorities in Colorado refused a public-records request sent by CIR.

The Colorado Information Analysis Center is run by the state’s Department of Public Safety. In a response letter, Spokesman Lance Clem said that releasing the records would be contrary to the public interest and “not only would compromise [the] security and investigative practices of numerous law enforcement agencies but would also violate confidentiality agreements that have been made with private partner organizations and federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.”
[Highlights, bolding and underlines added.]
 
This should be a warning about efforts to change the open records laws.  The more access the government gets to outside data/databases, the increased likelihood of legislation to block disclosure of it’s (the governments) activities, due to the private sector’s “proprietary information.”
 
This lack of transparency should be another argument against increasing public/private partnerships and the expansion of MOUs (and more Non-Disclosure Agreements) under which public functions operate.
 
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