Everyone in Idaho should know what is covered - and what's not - by the state's public records and open meetings laws. That's the premise behind a series of educational seminars that Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden and Idahoans for Openness in Government, or IDOG, have been holding periodically around the state since 2004. Now, the seminars are coming to North Idaho, for the first time since 2005.
Full disclosure here: I'm the president of IDOG, and this long has been an issue close to my heart. We all benefit when everyone, including government officials, members of the news media, and the public, are fully aware of the public's rights to access government information and observe the conduct of the public's business.
IDOG seminars are lively and interactive, and attendees may find themselves playing a part in a skit designed to illustrate a point about one or the other of the laws. They're also free, and include refreshments. Here's the schedule for the North Idaho seminars:
* Monday Dec. 5, Sandpoint - 5:30-8 p.m., Sandpoint Library public meeting room, 1407 Cedar Street . Co-sponsored by the Bonner Daily Bee
* Tuesday Dec. 6, Coeur d'Alene - 6-8:30, Spokesman-Review Building 1st floor public meeting room, 608 Northwest Blvd. Co-sponsored by The Spokesman-Review and the Coeur d'Alene Press
* Wednesday Dec. 7, Moscow - 6-8:30 p.m., Moscow City Hall, City Council Chambers. Co-sponsored by the Moscow-Pullman Daily News
* Thursday Dec. 8, Lewiston - 6-8:30, Lewis-Clark State College, Sacajawea Hall Room 115. Co-sponsored by the Lewiston Tribune
These sessions are free and open to the public, but as space is limited, those who would like to attend are asked to RSVP by Dec. 2 to firstname.lastname@example.org or toll-free to (866) 336-2854. IDOG has sponsored 19 of these seminars around the state since 2004, from Preston to Moscow, from Pocatello to Coeur d'Alene. Each has been personally led by Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden. Attendees get copies of the latest version of Wasden's Idaho Open Meeting Law Manual and Idaho Public Records Law Manual.
IDOG is a broad-based, nonprofit coalition for open government. Like similar coalitions in more than 40 other states, IDOG's mission is to promote open government and freedom of information; its board includes people from inside and outside of government, the media, civic organizations and more. IDOG's seminars are funded in part by a grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, through the National Freedom of Information Coalition. There's more information at IDOG's website, www.openidaho.org.