|NMU||OKLAHOMA||Freedom of Information||Oct 28, 2002|
Officials fined, face recall for restaurant meetings
- After pleading guilty to violating the Oklahoma Open Meetings Act, three officials from an Oklahoma town face fines, community service and a recall election after holding secret meetings about city matters at a local restaurant.
Three Nowata, Okla., city officials, arrested in June for discussing city business at the restaurant Bliss, pleaded guilty to violating the state’s Open Meeting Act.
City commissioners John B. Krouse Jr. and Willard C. Carey, along with Mayor Fred Maddox, were convicted of a misdemeanor, given one-year unsupervised probation with a deferred sentence, fined $475.50 and ordered to perform 50 hours of community service.
Maddox, Krouse and Carey refused to resign in June, after being arrested on complaints of violating Oklahoma’s Open Meetings Act.
Under that statute, unannounced meetings of public bodies not attended by a majority of that body are considered illegal. Government officials also must give notice that a meeting will occur. If this is not done, then the meeting is considered illegal under the law.
The three officials were arrested for discussing city business on a regular basis at a local restaurant. The police sent an informant into the restaurant after they learned that the meetings were taking place there. The three accused discussed the city water plant along with budget matters and city operations.
The mayor and the two commissioners will face a Dec. 10 recall election to allow voters to decide whether the officials should be allowed to retain their seats.
(State v. Maddox) — GS
© 2002 The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press