Crowd gathers for eye-opening session in Rexburg

More than 50 people gathered in the spacious Conference Room at the Development Center in Rexburg on Thursday evening, Oct. 17, 2013, filling the room, to learn about Idaho’s public records and open meeting laws. They ranged from reporters and editors to college students to elected officials to employees of school and hospital districts, cities, counties and interested citizens.

Asked to sum up what he learned from the evening, a city councilor wrote in his evaluation of the session, “A lot!” Wrote a newspaper editor, “Very helpful and informative.”

An elected official wrote that he learned, “If you think you know everything, ha – you may be surprised.” Another elected official wrote that she had learned something she’d immediately be able to put to use: “Draft minutes must go out before formally adopted by the board – label as draft.”

A citizen wrote, “I have rights as a citizen to records I never knew I could access.”

Said another, “I went to a city council meeting, and this explains a lot of the rules they have to abide by.”

The crowd snacked on refreshments supplied by IDOG and co-sponsors the Rexburg Standard Journal and the Idaho Falls Post Register, while learning about the laws and their real-life, practical application through interactive skits, stories, a slide show, and presentations from Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden, Deputy Attorney General Brian Kane, and IDOG President Betsy Russell, with assistance from communications director Bob Cooper of the Idaho Attorney General’s office.

The well-attended session sparked lots of questions, all of which were answered. There were plenty of laughs, and a few heated moments.

Wrote one media member who attended, “I learned that Jefferson County has problems.”

A planning and zoning administrator wrote, “The information about executive session was very helpful.” What she plans to put to use from the session: “Making sure that we follow the open meeting law.”

A student at BYU-Idaho had this comment: “If you want to be an educated citizen, which you should, this is an integral component of that education.”

A city clerk called the session a “great refresher course,” and a reporter wrote, “The meeting minute information was especially helpful.”

A county employee said this is what she plans to put to use from the seminar: “How to better assist the public.”

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