Attorney General Steve Six‘s office is providing training this week at four locations in Kansas on “Open Meetings” and “Open Records.” Today these training sessions were in Olathe and about 120 attended.
Yesterday the training was held in Dodge City; sessions will be held in Topeka and Wichita on Thursday and Friday.
The sessions were intended for elected officials, appointed officials, staff for state and local units of government, members of the media, and the general public.
After the welcome and introductions by Attorney General Six, Assistant AG Mike Smith, discussed the topics of KOMA (Kansas Open Meetings Act) and KORA (Kansas Open Records Act).
Separate panel discussions were held on “Open Meetings” and “Open Records” after presentations by Asst. Attorney General Mike Smith.
The panel members were familiar in helping the approximately 4000 units of local government in Kansas comply with open meetings and open record requests. The panel moderator asked questions of the panel before opening up questions to the audience.
In the discussion on KOMA, most panel members agreed that secret executive sessions caused the largest number of complaints. Panelist Doug Anstaett wisely said: “Open government doesn’t guarantee good government.”
There were several questions about electronic records, both cost and format, during the KORA panel discussion. Mike Smith indicated that the A.G. office was tending to want to release only PDFs since electronic documents could be so easily modified. In a private discussion after the meeting, I challenged Smith on these comments, since “electronic signatures” can be used to show when a document has been modified. Analysis of data is severely limited when only released in a PDF format.
The panel participants above above are (from left to right):
- Mike Smith, Asst. Attorney General
- Randy Brown, Executive Director, Sunshine Coalition
- Doug Anstaett, Executive Director, Kansas Press Association
- Kim Winn, Director of Policy Development & Communications, League of Kansas Municipalities
- Don Jarrett, Chief Counsel, Johnson County Government
- Melissa Wangemann, Director of Legislative Services/General Counsel, Kansas Association of Counties
[efg's note: If I can get my hands on the PowerPoint slides from the meeting today, I'll modify this article and add links to them. I may add additional comments after reviewing the audio file of today's event]
- Kansas Open Records Act, Sunshine Review
- Open and Honest Government, Attorney General Steve Six
- Frequently Asked Questions about the Kansas Open Meetings Act (KOMA)
- Frequently Asked Questions about the Kansas Open Records Act (KORA)
- A.G. Explains Importance Of Open Meetings And Records, WIBW, June 25, 2009.
- Open meetings, records training today, Dodge City Globe, June 23, 2009.
- Open Government Education Important to Kansans, Kansas City infoZine, June 23, 2009.
- Kansas Attorney General to provide training on Open Records & Open Meetings, Kansas Meadowlark, April 24, 2009.