Posts Tagged: ‘Open Records’

Pirate Party Endorsement

October 4, 2010 Posted by E. Zachary Knight

Today, the Pirate Party of Oklahoma has released their list of candidate endorsements. Out of all people running for office this year, only 26 were willing to respond to their request. Of those 26, only 4 responded with sufficient support for openness in our government to warrant an endorsement.

Zachary Knight is one of those 4.

As a bit of background for the Pirate Party, their “About Us” page describes their platform as follows:

The Pirate Party of Oklahoma is a new political party with the goal of promoting the Privacy Rights of Oklahomans, push for increased Government Transparency, advocate for Ballot Access Reform, and encourage reform of Patents, Copyrights, and Trademarks. We are a member of the United States Pirate Party and are also associated with Pirate Parties International. The Pirate Party of Oklahoma was formed in January of 2010 with the signing of our Constitution.

As for their endorsement, this came based on my responses to a number of questions. These questions ranged from Open Access to government, protection from unwarranted wire tapping and searches and Ballot Access Reform. I have included a few examples below.

This is an endorsement I fully accept and encourage all to read the responses of those who are available on the Pirate Party site and see exactly how these issues affect you as a citizen of this state and nation.

On the issue of automated traffic monitoring systems, ie speed, red-light cameras, and other automated systems for identifying traffic violations:

I lived in Arizona for several years and experienced the automated speed and red light cameras. While I am sure those systems brought in quite a bit of revenue for the contractors who operated them, but not so much for the police departments. What is really worrisome about such systems is their inability to make judgment calls and read context of individual situations. The state should avoid such situations as they would bring on additional burden on the people while not increasing revenue for our underfunded police departments.
On laws preventing citizens from recording on-duty police officers:
Oklahoma is a one party consent state, meaning that only one side of a conversation being recorded whether in audio or video is required to consent to the recording. Any attempt to change those laws would violate our rights and a needed protection for the people. Our police force are public servants and they should be accountable to the people they serve. Retaining our one party consent status would allow the people to protect themselves from corruption and abuse.
On requiring the state legislature to comply with the Open Records Act:
All city, county and school government and agencies are required to comply with the open records act. There is not reason why our Legislative branch should not be held to the exact same standard. In order to hold our legislative members accountable, we need to have an open and accurate record of what they are doing in office. I can see a need to protect correspondence with individuals of a legislator’s constituency, but any correspondence with registered lobbyists, state agencies and other legislators should be open to public scrutiny.
Finally, on Ballot Access Reform:
As an independent, I am affected directly by Oklahoma’s current Ballot Access laws. I have come to realize that yes they are the most restrictive and there is no reason to keep them as is, other than reducing competition for incumbent parties. When elected, I plan on working with other legislators in writing and passing sweeping reform in the state. This will include reducing the required number of signatures to [5000] as it was prior to 1974 and changing ballot access laws to remove language that writes the incumbent parties into law.
To read the full list of questions and Zachary’s responses, you can follow this link.

The State Legislature Should Not Be Immune to the Open Records Act

July 18, 2010 Posted by E. Zachary Knight

What makes the Oklahoma State Legislature so special that they can justify exempting themselves from our State’s open records act? Why are all other government bodies under threat of litigation if they do not fully disclose all their meetings to the public they serve, while our Representatives and Senators can hold secret meetings about our future without our knowledge?

Fear. That is the only thing I can think of. I think our government is so afraid of the people that elect them that they would rather hide themselves from the eyes of the people that they serve. What else could it be?

News 6 of Tulsa recently wrote a report on this corruption in our state. They came to the conclusion that the Legislature just didn’t want their bosses looking over their shoulders.

The Newcastle City Council is required by law to disclose the subject matter of all council meetings whether those meeting are open to the public or not. The city of Norman was sued and the charges later dismissed recently because someone felt they were not living up to the letter of law. Yet at the same time, our Representatives and Senators can hold any number of meetings on any number of subjects without informing those of us who elect them.

In most all jobs, the employees are given regular performance reviews. These happen at many stages throughout the year. There are the yearly performance reviews but also some done during the year. We have chosen our representatives and Senators to do the work we want them to do. By blocking our ability to perform our performance reviews of them, we cannot do our job properly when it comes election time.

During the last week of the Legislative Session, an $80 thousand dollar a year job was created with no evidence to point to who exactly wrote it into a bill. This is the kind of corruption that these exemptions from open records breeds.

When I am elected as State Representative, I will make it a point to fight to have all Legislative meetings disclosed to the public. I will oppose any effort to exempt the Legislature from full disclosure, unless there is an obvious and unavoidable need for confidentiality.