November 27, 2011 in Idaho

Eye on Boise: Seminars coming on public records, open meetings

By The Spokesman-Review
 

BOISE – 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 seminars 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 of the laws. They’re also free, and include refreshments.

Here’s the schedule for the North Idaho seminars:

• Dec. 5, Sandpoint – 5:30-8 p.m., Sandpoint Library public meeting room, 1407 Cedar St. Co-sponsored by the Bonner County Daily Bee.

• Dec. 6, Coeur d’Alene – 6-8:30 p.m., Spokesman-Review Building, 1st floor public meeting room, 608 Northwest Blvd. Co-sponsored by The Spokesman-Review and the Coeur d’Alene Press.

• Dec. 7, Moscow – 6-8:30 p.m., Moscow City Hall, City Council Chambers. Co-sponsored by the Moscow-Pullman Daily News.

• Dec. 8, Lewiston – 6-8:30 p.m., Lewis-Clark State College, Sacajawea Hall Room 115. Co-sponsored by the Lewiston Tribune.

Space is limited. RSVP by Friday to bzrussell@gmail.com or toll-free to (866) 336-2854.

Attorney honored

Marking the 40th anniversary of the landmark Reed v. Reed case, Boise attorney Allen Derr is being honored both in Idaho and in Washington, D.C.

Derr, 83, represented Sally Reed, of Boise, when she sought control over her son’s estate rather than yield it to her abusive ex-husband, despite an Idaho law declaring males to be favored over females in such proceedings.

Derr pressed the case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled the Idaho law unconstitutional under the equal protection clause. Joining him in the case at the Supreme Court was then-attorney, now-Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

A week ago, Derr spoke on a panel at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., along with Ginsburg, and met with the justice in her chambers. This week, Derr will be honored by the University of Idaho College of Law, from which he graduated in 1959, with a reception Wednesday from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at the Idaho Water Center in Boise. Derr still practices law.

The National Women’s Law Center calls Reed v. Reed “a landmark decision” and says it opened the door for successful challenge of numerous other discriminatory laws under the equal protection clause. In Reed v. Reed, the high court’s unanimous decision called the Idaho law in question “the very kind of arbitrary legislative choice forbidden by the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.”

Appointment

Gov. Butch Otter has appointed Gayle Batt, of Wilder, to complete the Idaho House term of state Rep. Pat Takasugi, who died after a three-year battle against cancer of the appendix. Batt was Takasugi’s choice to fill in for him in the last legislative session.

Batt was Takasugi’s campaign manager in both 2008 and 2010, and is a former president of the Food Producers of Idaho and Canyon County Republican Women.


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