At the Wayne Township Trustee’s Office, we recognize the importance of transparency in government. We strive in a variety of ways to provide our residents with information about our office, including writing this column in The Waynedale News. Transparency has been the subject recently of several news articles and television news reports because of a Public Access Seminar conducted at the Downtown Library.
The seminar was sponsored by the Indiana Attorney General’s Office and the Hoosier State Press Association, a group representing around 175 newspapers around the State. I made sure Wayne Township was represented at the seminar so we can learn as much as possible regarding public access. The seminar focused on two aspects of public access—the Indiana Open Door Law and the Access to Public Records Act. Speakers were Attorney General Greg Zoeller; Stephen Key, General Counsel of the Hoosier State Press Association; Andrew Kossack, Indiana Public Access Counselor, and Anne O’Conner, Deputy Attorney General.
The Indiana Open Door Law addresses public meetings. Since I have been Trustee, we have been very careful to have Board meetings that are open and accessible to the public. Our meetings are on the second Tuesday of every month at 4:30 p.m. at our office, 320 East Superior Street. We post a Notice of Board meetings and an Agenda on the door of our building several days before the meeting. The public is welcome to attend, and we have a place on the agenda for public comments.
The speakers at the seminar explained that Indiana law allows for executive or private meetings of governmental agencies on a very limited basis. For example, executive sessions are permitted for strategy discussions with regard to litigation, interviews of prospective employees and job performance evaluations. However, final action must be taken at an open meeting.
Regarding public records, Indiana law allows access to records of public agencies; but an agency can charge a copy fee and can require that the request for records delineate “with reasonable particularity the record being requested.” At Wayne Township, we try to help by having a form available for persons to fill out if they are seeking records from our office. The law makes some records confidential and not disclosable by the agency. This area of the Indiana law is complicated, but we do our best to provide the information we can in accordance with the law.
One of the best sources of information about the Wayne Township Trustee’s office is our website, www.waynetownship.org. The mission of our website is to provide information both to our clients and to Wayne Township residents. Our website is easy to navigate and may provide residents with the information they are seeking about Wayne Township without them having to file a request for records or attend a Board meeting.
Our website contains a calendar listing of upcoming events at Wayne Township. We post on the website helpful information such as our income guidelines, what you need to bring with you to appointments for assistance, information about applying for assistance and our Eligibility Standards. We have a listing on the website of our supervisory personnel and information about our Board members. We also have a “Contact Us” section where you can email your questions to us.
I know many of you are looking forward this weekend to spending time with your father on Father’s Day or remembering him if he is no longer with us. And fathers and grandfathers will be looking forward to hearing from their children and grandchildren. I hope everyone has a great Father’s Day.
Richard A. Stevenson, Sr.
Wayne Township Trustee
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