Openness in government discussed at workshop

From the Times-News

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By Terry Smith
Times-News writer

Idaho Attorney General Lawrence WasdenTWIN FALLS — Elected officials and government workers attended a workshop Monday to learn how to not get in trouble.

Nearly 80 participants, including news media and political activists, attended the Idaho Open Meeting/Public Records workshop at the College of Southern Idaho Herrett Center. The event was organized by Idahoans for Openness in Government and sponsored by The Times-News.

Presenters included Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden, who explained the importance of openness in government and also talked about records that can legally be withheld from public perusal.

“A public record is a public record and it is none of the government’s business what a requester wants to do with that document,” Wasden said.

Idahoans for Openness in Government is a nonprofit Boise-based coalition that promotes open government and freedom of information. The Twin Falls workshop was one of several being held around the state by the organization in partnership with Wasden’s office, the Idaho Association of Counties and the Association of Idaho Cities.

Twin Falls County Sheriff Wayne Tousley attended along with eight of his employees. He said the workshop will help his staff have a better legal understanding of when to release and when not to release information.

Presentations included information on the state’s open meeting law, including instances when the public can be legally excluded. Penalties for noncompliance were discussed. Offending officials could be fined up to $300.

Harold Mohlman, a Minidoka Fire Protection District commissioner, said he attended “just so we don’t get in trouble in holding our meetings.” Mohlman actually wore three hats at the event: he is also president of the Idaho Water Users Association and president of A & B Irrigation District in Rupert.

From the Times-News

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