Will Gov. Fallin fulfill candidate Fallin's open government promises?
As a gubernatorial candidate, Mary Fallin pledged that she and the public bodies she would be elected to govern would "comply with not only the letter but also the spirit of Oklahoma’s Open Meeting and Open Records laws."
She also would hire someone to ensure our state open government laws are enforced, Fallin told FOI Oklahoma's Sunshine Week conference in March.
"As governor, one of the things I will do is to be very forthright in making sure that we enforce our Open Meeting Act and our Open Records Act, and I do think it's important that a governor have someone dedicated full time to making sure enforcement is carried forth," she said.
A model for such a position in the governor's office can be found in Florida. The Office of Open Government was created by Republican Gov. Charlie Crist in 2007 and reaffirmed by new Republican Gov. Rick Scott on his first day in office last week.
Under Scott's executive order, the Office of Open Government will:
- "Facilitate Floridians' right to know and have access to information with which they can hold government accountable;
- Continue to assure full and expeditious compliance with Florida's open government and open records laws; and
- Provide training to all executive agencies under my purview on transparency and accountability."
The Office of Open Government also has "primary responsibility for ensuring that the Office of the Governor complies with public records requests in an expeditious manner."
Republican Fallin said she expects government information to be released "in a timely manner and that information is not withheld intentionally just to forestall the public's right to know."
Fallin also said that as governor, she would:
- Veto legislation exempting public employees birth dates from the state Open Records Act;
- Expect her appointees to public bodies to abide by the Open Meeting and Open Records laws; and
- Support eliminating the state Legislature's exemption from the Open Records and Open Meeting laws.
Fallin signed FOI Oklahoma's Open Government Pledge in which she endorsed "the purpose of Oklahoma’s Open Meeting and Open Records laws to ensure and facilitate the public’s understanding of governmental processes and problems."
She also pledged "to support at every opportunity the public policy of the State of Oklahoma that the people are vested with the inherent right to know and be fully informed about their government so that they can efficiently and intelligently exercise their inherent political power."
Now that Fallin is governor, will she live up to those promises?
Do you believe she will?
Joey Senat, Ph.D.
OSU School of Media & Strategic Communications