Crowd at Boise seminar learns how laws apply

BOISE, Idaho – More than 60 people attended the IDOG open government seminar held Dec. 6, 2012 at the Idaho Statesman, from school board members to newspaper reporters, journalism students to city and county officials, lawyers to firefighters, high school students to interested citizens.

Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden led the program, which also included Powerpoint presentations from Deputy Attorney General Brian Kane, comments from IDOG President Betsy Russell and Statesman Managing Editor Bill Manny, and interactive skits to help drive all the points home – about how to comply with Idaho’s two key open government laws, the Idaho public records law and the Idaho open meeting law.

“I’m on a few small boards and now understand how the laws apply or don’t,” wrote a citizen volunteer who attended.

“Citizens have more rights to get info from public agencies than I thought,” wrote another in an evaluation of the evening, and another said she learned “how to proceed if I’m denied access.”

A reporter dubbed the session “solid information” and particularly appreciated learning about deadlines for responding to records requests. A college student newspaper staffer wrote that she appreciated learning about her rights as a journalist.

“Be aware of the statutes!” wrote a retired public official, who said that was his take-away from the evening.

Another participant, who also gave high ratings to the evening’s refreshments, said the lesson he learned was, “Consider that everything is public. Keep yourself covered.”

Commented a district fire chief, “We were here to assure our compliance.” He said he particularly appreciated the handouts, and definitely learned things he can put to use right away in his agency.

The IDOG seminar was co-sponsored by the Idaho Statesman and Boise State Public Radio, and recommended by the Office of the Attorney General, the Association of Idaho Cities, the Idaho Association of Counties, and the Idaho Press Club. The seminars are supported by a grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation through the National Freedom of Information Coalition.

IDOG, which stands for Idahoans for Openness in Government, is a non-profit coalition for open government whose mission is to promote open government and freedom of information. IDOG and Attorney General Wasden have been holding these sessions around the state since 2004; this was the first time they returned to the Treasure Valley since 2007. After the Boise seminar, additional sessions were set for Payette on Dec. 12, and in Nampa on Jan. 9, 2013.

Not an IDOG member yet?