Oskaloosa councilwoman Griffin calls for open records clarity
by Dennis Sharkey
At least one Oskaloosa City Council member is taking an interest in more open government within the city.
Councilwoman Kathy Griffin at the council’s meeting June 7, said that she has been researching the Kansas Open Records Act (KORA) and the Kansas Open Meetings Act (KOMA).
Griffin said she wants the city to do the correct thing when records are requested.
“I think it’s kind of up in the air about what’s right and what is not,” Griffin said. “I want to make sure we do this correctly.”
Last month the Independent made a records request that was denied by City Clerk Patty Hamm. The paper had requested time cards for some city employees. Hamm’s letter said the city was denying the request because of personal information on the time card. The request was resubmitted with a request to redact any private information. City Attorney Mike Hayes then denied the request because the record does not exist.
The Independent has filed a complaint with the Jefferson County Prosecutor’s office. Prosecutor Jason Belveal has asked for an explanation from Hayes as to why the records are being denied.
Griffin said right now she doesn’t feel she knows what is correct. Hayes has offered no suggestions or counseling concerning the KORA or KOMA.
“I would really like to get a grip of what is and what is not…” Griffin said without finishing her thought.
Councilman Dale Mooney concurred with Griffin’s statement and said he would also like to know.
“I agree because I have no idea,” Mooney said.
Griffin suggested the city move to a system of assigning an employee number to each employee that could be used for identification. She said this would eliminate the need to put private information such as social security numbers on public documents.
“I want to know what is and what isn’t so that we can all work together to make sure that things are proper,” Griffin said.
City Clerk Patty Hamm said city time cards do not contain social security numbers and that employees just write down their times.
In the past year the new council has implemented several programs to provide more accountability from city employees. Griffin said this situation is no different.
“This all boils down to accountability,” Griffin said. “We want to know when employees are working. I really want to know what is expected of us.”
Mooney said he would like to see the city move to a computerized clocking system like the one he uses in Lawrence. Mooney is an employee of the city of Lawrence.
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