OSU trustees' lesson in law
Cleveland Plain Dealer
Thursday, March 01, 2007
Ohio State University's trustees ought to be a little bit embarrassed.
Relying on a 27-year-old opinion from the attorney general, the school's trustees planned to conduct public business in a secret fashion during Friday's scheduled vote to elect a new board chair.
Wisely, the OSU board is abandoning the practice of appointing the board chair solely on the basis of seniority. Not so wisely, the selection of that chair was to be by secret ballot.
But when Attorney General Marc Dann (a 1984 Michigan graduate) learned of board members' plans to conduct the vote in secret, he objected. Dann has been a staunch supporter of open government. And after his stint as an oft-quoted state legislator, it's well-established that he doesn't worry about hurting others' feelings with tough talk.
So, Dann didn't hesitate to fire off a letter telling OSU that any vote for chair should be done in the open. It was a win-win for the new attorney general: He got to champion public access and win points with voters.
It's far too early to draw conclusions about Dann's performance as attorney general, but on questions of public access, it appears this Wolverine will bite.