Former Kiowa trustee reinstated
A Kiowa trustee forced to resign because he failed to take required open government training is back on the board.
Kiowa trustees unanimously appointed Ray Goss to fill his former Ward 4 seat after he completed the training, the McAlester News-Capital reported.
Goss was forced off the board in late September, five months after the deadline for him to take the daylong training that includes municipal budget requirements, the Open Meeting Act, the Open Records Act, ethics, procedures for conducting meetings, conflict of interest, and purchasing procedures.
"It basically reduces liability issues for cities and towns because without training on municipal laws, officials who aren't trained can get into trouble," the Oklahoma Municipal League's executive director told the newspaper.
A 2006 state law requires newly elected municipal officials to undergo the training in their first year of office or they "shall cease to hold the office." (OKLA. STAT. tit. 11, § 8-114(A)(C)(E))
Goss was elected in April 2011.
When Goss was forced to resign, town attorney John Thomas said his votes and decisions by the board would have to be reviewed.
Thomas clearly didn't think Goss should be reinstated, telling the board in September that the purpose of the statute was not to be circumvented but to cause town officials to be responsible for their jobs.
"The statute was put into place for a reason," Thomas said. "I want our citizens of Kiowa to know that they are getting a government that respects both the intent of the law as well as the letter of the law."
"We need to follow the law," he said. "That was the intention of the legislature."
Rather than listen to Thomas, Kiowa trustees Janelle Beaver, Bob Ramey, Theresa Ortiz and Jim Ryan thumbed their noses at him and mocked the statute by appointing Goss to his old seat a month later.
Goss had not lived up to his obligations as a trustee and should have been replaced with someone who would.
Joey Senat, Ph.D.
OSU School of Media & Strategic Communications
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.