The Canadian County commissioners should opt for transparency rather than secrecy.
The commissioners, on Monday, rejected an open records request made by the Yukon Review for a copy of the so-called “Laflin File.”
The file is a report from a Tulsa private investigator, who was hired by the commissioners in June to look into allegations of misconduct by a then-co-director of the Gary E. Miller Children’s Justice Center.
The commissioners paid the Laflin Investigative Group more than $30,000 to conduct an investigation.
During the investigation, Laflin interviewed county officials, current and former workers at the center, as well as an associate district judge and the center’s administration.
The investigation came after a former worker at the center filed a harassment claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against Bill Alexander, who at the time shared director’s duties with Dr. Bill Sharp.
Information in the EEOC claim, by law, is not subject to the Open Record Act or the federal Freedom of Information Act.
However, because the county’s investigation is with a private investigation firm, it doesn’t necessarily receive the same exemption.
In a similar court case from Owasso, a judge ruled that officials had the option of making a report either confidential or releasing it to the public.
Officials have said they believe the Laflin Report falls into the same category.
We asked the commissioners to take the route of transparency. Provide the media with a redacted copy so that employees’ names would not be revealed, but the details of the report could be provided to the public.
Secrecy does nothing but foster rumors and innuendoes.
Until the public know what is going on in county government, there will be questions.
Commissioner Dave Anderson, who represents District 2, said it was the commissioners’ job to do what is best for this county and to protect the county government.”
But what are they protecting the county from? And isn’t knowledge always the right answer?
Commissioner Jack Stewart pointed to the length of the report and the number of redactions that would be required.
We understand the report is lengthy, and we are certainly willing to wait a bit to allow for the redactions.
Both commissioners pointed to a need to keep those involved unnamed so that they are not harmed.
Again, a redacted version of the report would provide that anonymity while at the same time letting the residents of Canadian County know what is going on in their backyard.
We urge the commissioners to reconsider their decision and to vote for transparency.