FORT HALL, Idaho – The beautiful new Sho-Ban Hotel & Event Center was the setting for a highly entertaining and very well-attended IDOG seminar on Idaho’s open meeting and public records laws on Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013, co-sponsored by the Blackfoot Morning News, the Idaho State Journal and the Post Register.
More than 60 people attended, including representatives of five cities – Idaho Falls, Roberts, Shelly, Blackfoot, and Aberdeen – several counties, numerous districts ranging from school to hospital to sewer to cemetery districts, state agencies, reporters and editors for news media from the Blackfoot Morning News to the Idaho State Journal to the Sho-Ban News, interested citizens, elected officials, political party representatives and more.
A highlight of the evening was when a clerk for a small district comically and despairingly asked if it was good enough for a public meeting agenda to simply say, “New business, old business, adjournment,” and the answer was a clear “no.” The crowd laughed with her as she resolved to do better.
There were also entertaining moments in the interactive skits, as Sen. Jim Guthrie, R-McCammon, took a turn portraying a blustery citizen, and Monsanto Corp. official and former Idaho GOP Chairman Trent Clark acted the part of a snoopy reporter.
Through it all, there was lots of learning going on, and the crowd took it in good spirits.
Asked to sum up what he’d learned, one elected official wrote, “Learn the rules – then think.”
“You must know your stuff when serving on public boards/councils,” wrote a city councilor.
“I’m a new employee with the city, so it helped with my training,” wrote another attendee.
A government worker wrote, “This has been a good, common-sense approach to a sometimes difficult law.”
“This presentation has answered my questions,” wrote a citizen.
“I’ve looked at the material before, but this put it in perspective,” wrote a citizen activist.
A reporter wrote, “I need to quit being lax and do a better job asking for records. I needed the refresher course on the state laws.”