Mass Comm. Law - Exam 3 - Open Meeting Act

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What was the Oklahoma Legislature's goal in enacting the Open Meeting Act?

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What was the Oklahoma Legislature's goal in enacting the Open Meeting Act?

Not simply to prevent or punish deliberate violations, but to restore sadly sagging public confidence in government, a goal which is hurt by every noncomplying meeting regardless of whether or not the noncompliance resulted from evil motives

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What is the purpose of the statute?

To encourage and facilitate an informed citizenry's understanding of the governmental processes and governmental problems

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3

Public bodies must act within the Open Meeting Act's purpose and what?

spirit

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4

Does Robert's Rules of Order trump the Open Meeting Act's requirements and prohibitions

no

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5

How should the statute be construed?

It must be construed liberally in favor of the public

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How must public bodies adhere to the statute?

strictly

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7

What construction must the statute be given?

One which will effectuate and not subvert the intention of the Legislature in facilitating an informed citizenry's right to participate in government and understand why government acts affecting their daily lives are taken

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How should the statute be interpreted?

In such a way to avoid establishing potential evasion loopholes

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A public body must operate how?

With such openness that the citizenry is informed of its activities

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10

When in doubt, the public body should do what?

Should follow the open-meeting policy of the state

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11

Do audience members have a First Amendment or statutory right to speak at the meetings of public bodies?

no

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12

If a public body opens the meeting to public comment, can it restrict speakers based on content?

no

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13

What rules would apply?

Reasonable time/place/manner rules

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14

What is the definition of a public body?

The governing bodies of all municipalities, boards of county commissioners, boards of public and higher education, and all boards, bureaus, commissions, agencies, trusteeships, authorities, councils, committees, public trusts or any entity created by a public trust, task forces or study groups "supported in whole or in part by public funds or entrusted with the expending of public funds or administering public property"

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Who is specifically exempted?

State judiciary, council on Judicial Complains when conducting, dissenting or deliberating any matter relating to a complaint received or filed with the council, legislature and administrative staffs of public bodies, including but not limited to faculty meetings and athletic staff meetings of institutions of higher education when those staffs are not meeting with the public body

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16

Which ad hoc committees or citizens advisory committees must meet publicly and which are exempted from the statute?

Those empaneled only for the purpose of furnishing information and recommendations to a governing or decision-making entity have an exemption, those with no decision making power (actual or de-facto) have had an exemption as well

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In other words, what affects whether a subordinate entity created by a public body is also considered a public body?

If it has decision making power or not

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18

"Not making decisions" means what?

Not making any decisions

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19

What was Edmondson's related example?

If a subcommittee hiring a superintendent or coach goes through resumes and culls out some of the applicants

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20

Why are the meetings of the OSU SGA and Residence Hall Association subject to the Open Meeting Act?

Because they are sub-entities of boards of higher education and have actual or de facto decision making authority

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21

What is the definition of a meeting?

The conducting of business of a public body by a majority of its members being personally together or... together pursuant a videoconference

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22

What does "conduct of business" include?

Not defined by the statute, but should be assumed to include the entire decision-making process including deliberation, decision or formal action

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23

Public bodies don't have to abide by the Open Meeting Act when meeting with whom to discuss what?

Governmental agencies or private entities to discuss broad general matters that may be related to the business of the public body, but are not matters on which the public body could take action

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24

What are the four categories of meetings?

Regularly scheduled, special meeting, emergency meeting, continued or reconvened meeting

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25

What is the definition of an emergency?

A situation involving injury to persons or injury and damage to public or personal property or immediate financial loss when the time requirements for public notice of a special meeting would make such procedure impractical and increase the likelihood of injury or damage or immediate financial loss

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26

Meetings be held when and where?

At specified times and places which are convenient to the public

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27

Does the statute seem to prohibit a majority of the members of a public body from discussing public business via email?

yes

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Does the law prohibit members of a public body from gathering socially?

no

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29

Can they discuss public business at social gatherings? Why?

No, because that circumvents the purpose of the open meeting act

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30

Does the statute apply to the "discussion stage"?

yes

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31

Can a single member of the public body obtain a consensus by meeting alone with every other member?

no

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32

Would this apply to emails sent among the members of a public body?

yes

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33

Would this apply to the assistants of members of a public body?

yes

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34

Providing the public with advance notices and agendas for public meetings is at the what? Why?

Very heart of the Open Meeting Act, because without public notice, Sunshine legislation is ineffective

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35

How much advance notice must a public body give for: Regular meetings?

A schedule must be provided for the following calendar year by December 15

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How much notice must be given for changing the date/time for a regular meeting?

No less than 10 days

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37

Special meetings?

At least 48 hours in advance

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38

Emergency meetings?

As much advance public notice as is reasonable and possible under the circumstances existing, in person or by telephonic or electronic means

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39

Where must advance notice be filed for meetings of: State public body

The Oklahoma Secretary of State

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40

OSU's Student Government Association

With the county clerk where the school is principally located

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41

County Commission

The County Clerk

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42

City Council

The municipal clerk

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43

The Secretary of State, county clerks and municipal clerks must keep meeting notices in a register that is open to the public for inspection when?

During regular business hours

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44

How much in advance must the agenda be posted for each kind of meeting, including a continued/reconvened meeting and an emergency meeting?

Regularly scheduled - at least 24 hours in advance; special meeting - at least 48 hours in advance; emergency meeting - I think also 24 hours; continued or reconvened meeting - I think also 24 hours

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45

Where must agendas for meetings must be placed?

Either in prominent public view at the principal office or at the location of the meeting if no office exists or on their website and free via email

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46

Public bodies don't have to post paper copies of meeting agendas if they do what?

If they post in on their websites

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47

Must that agenda also be available to the public in the principal office of the public body or at the location of the meeting during normal business hours at least 24 hours — excluding weekends and state holidays — prior to the meeting?

If it is emailed out, then yes

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48

Are the information packets distributed with agendas considered public records?

yes

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49

What information must be on the agenda?

The date, time and place of the meeting, and all items of business to be transacted by a public body at the meeting

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50

How must the agenda be worded?

Plain language, directly stating the purpose of the meeting

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51

The language must be what?

Simple, direct and comprehensible to a person of ordinary education and intelligence

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52

Why is posting an agenda important?

Because the purpose of the Open Meeting Act is violated if one isn't

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53

How is new business defined?

Any matter not known about or which could not have been reasonably foreseen prior to the time of posting

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54

May public bodies discuss new business in a special meeting or at a continued/reconvened meeting?

no

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55

When may public bodies discuss new business in an executive session?

If the subject has legitimately arisen since the agenda was posted and is one of the permitted topics

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56

May public bodies consider items of old business not specifically listed on the agenda?

no

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57

Why are executive sessions permitted?

For the purpose of compromising equally important policy commitments which come into conflict

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58

Public bodies may not go into executive session unless certain procedures are what?

Strictly complied with

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59

The agenda item for an executive session must include what?

Sufficient information for the public to ascertain that an executive session will be proposed, identify the terms of business and purposes of the executive session and state the specific statutory authorization for the executive session

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60

What is the procedure for conducting an executive session?

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61

In general, may public bodies vote in executive session?

no

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62

Must public bodies keep minutes of executive sessions? Are those minutes public?

Yes, but they are confidential

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63

Are public bodies required to cast votes in public?

yes

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64

Must the votes of the public body's individual members be recorded?

yes

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May public bodies vote by mail or by proxy?

no

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66

Must public bodies keep minutes of their meetings?

yes

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67

Minutes must be an official summary showing what?

Clearly those members absent and present, all matters considered by the public body, and all actions taken by such public body

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68

Minutes for an emergency meeting must include what?

The nature of the emergency and the proceedings occurring at such meeting, including reasons for declaring such emergency meeting

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69

When may the public record public meetings?

All the time? Unless they're interfering with the conduct of the meeting

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70

What does willful violation mean and not mean?

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71

Does acting on the advice of an attorney excuse a public body's violation of the statute?

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72

Who may sue over an Open Meeting Act violation? A successful plaintiff is entitled to what? Who is entitled to what if the lawsuit was "frivolous"?

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73

What are the criminal sanctions for violating the Open Meeting statute?

A misdemeanor with a maximum punishment of a $500 fine and one year in the county jail

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74

Why don't prosecutors have to prove criminal intent?

The conduct is illegal by virtue of the Open Meeting Act

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75

Is ignorance of the law an excuse for violating it?

no

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76

SB 1031's changes to the conduct of "virtual" meetings are in effect until when?

February 15, 2022 or up to 30 days after the state of emergency expires, whichever occurs first

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77

SB 1031 allows public bodies to conduct "virtual" meetings without having what?

A physical in-person site

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78

Must members of the public body must be audible or visible to whom?

Each other and the public

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79

The AG advises that the public must be able to do what, when and how?

To watch the meeting via a videoconference link or listen to the meeting by calling a toll-free number in real time

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80

Under SB 661, what must happen if the audio is disconnected?

The meeting must be stopped and reconvene once the audio is restored

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81

The AG advises the meeting should also be stopped if what happens?

The audio or video is compromised

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82

The AG advises that public bodies do what ahead of or at the start of the virtual meeting? What example does the AG give?

Announce the date/time/place the meeting would be reconvened if audio or video were lost or compromised. Example -- if communications could not be restored in 30 minutes, then the meeting would reconvene at a certain date, time and place

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83

The meeting notice and agenda must indicate what and include what information?

If the meeting will include teleconferencing or videoconferencing and include the call-in number or complete website address as well as any code or password that might be required

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84

If public notice is given that a videoconference option will be used, what must happen?

The public body must meet by video conference

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85

May teleconferences or videoconferences limit the number of attendees?

no

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86

The meeting notice and agenda must list what regarding each member of the public body?

How the member will appear

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87

After the agenda is posted, may a member listed as attending in-person then attend remotely?

no

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88

May a member listed as attending remotely then attend in-person?

yes

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89

Under SB 1031, must the public body physically post the meeting notice and agenda at its principal office or at the site of the meeting?

no

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90

The AG advises that electronic copies of notices and agendas must be made available where and that public bodies should do what?

On the public body's wbeiste and through any distribution list maintained by the public body. It advised public bodies without such a list to email notices and agendas to create one.

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91

The AG advises that teleconferences be used only when and as a _________.

Videoconferencing is unavailable and as a method of last resort

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92

Roll call should be taken when? Why?

At regular intervals to ensure the public body's actions meet the statutory requirements and to maintain public "confidence in the transparency of the public body"

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93

Public comment during virtual meetings must be allowed in what manner and to what extent?

In the same manner and to the same extent as allowed for in-person meetings

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94

What are the requirements for providing meeting documents to the public?

They must be immediately publicly available on the public body's website if it maintains one

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95

How must all votes be cast and recorded?

By roll call

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96

The AG recommended that virtual-only meetings be what?

Electronically recorded in their entirety

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97

When may executive sessions occur during virtual-only meetings?

When no member of the public body is physically present so long as the members are audible or visible to each other and their method of attendance is listed on the notice and agenda

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98

The AG advises that executive sessions be conducted only by _________

videoconferencing

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99

Are public bodies prohibited from meeting in-person?

No

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100

What does "open and accessible to the public" mean with regard to public meetings being conducted through videoconference and teleconference?

Anyone can join the call or videoconference

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