Norman City Council cleared of Open Meeting Act allegations

An executive session discussion on how to finance the purchase of right-of-way for a road project did not violate the Open Meeting Act, the Payne County district attorney has concluded.

According to media reports, Rob Hudson said the Norman City Council's discussion of financing options for property associated with the Rock Creek Road overpass project was allowed under the exemption for the "purchase or appraisal of real property."

Hudson concluded that talking about funding sources β€œis a natural and normal aspect of purchasing real property,” The Norman Transcript reported.

Hudson also indicated that the councilors were protected because City Attorney Jeff Bryant participated in the executive session and should have told them that the discussion was potentially illegal.

The OSBI investigation into the June 2009 meeting was requested by Norman City Councilman Tom Kovach, who is a Democratic candidate for House District 44.

Perhaps because of the OSBI investigation, open government seemed to be a campaign issue in Norman's municipal election this past spring. Among the four candidates who signed FOI Oklahoma's Open Government Pledge were Mayor Cindy Rosenthal and Ward 4 Councilor Carol Dillingham, both of whom were re-elected.

For background on the legal issues surrounding the executive session: OSBI investigating complaint that Norman City Council violated Open Meeting Act

For more coverage of Hudson's decision not to prosecute: Norman council members cleared of allegation they violated Open Meeting Act, Jane Glenn Cannon, The Oklahoman, July 14, 2010.

Joey Senat, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
OSU School of Media and Strategic Communication
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.