Parole board members refuse to step down
BY CARY ASPINWALL World Staff Writer and BARBARA HOBEROCK World Capitol Bureau
Friday, February 01, 2013
2/01/13 at 3:29 PM
All five members of the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board on Friday rejected Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater's request that they resign or face misdemeanor charges for alleged violations of the Oklahoma Open Meeting Act.
"The members individually have decided that they will not resign, and it is a unanimous decision," said Mack Martin, an Oklahoma City attorney representing the board. "It is our hope that we could sit down with Mr. Prater and address any issues or concerns he has and avoid the ultimatum, but I don't know if we will be able to or not."
Marc Dreyer, the board chairman and senior pastor of Tulsa's Memorial Baptist Church said he hopes the issue can be "resolved in a manner beneficial to the citizens of Oklahoma and to the benefit of the criminal justice system."
"Each of us has given a great deal of thought and prayer to this decision and are each firmly convinced that we have not ever knowingly or willfully violated the Oklahoma Open Meeting Act nor participated in any criminal wrongdoing in our service on the Board," Dreyer said.
"It would be easy to step down," he said, "for the compensation is minimal, the work is overwhelming and the criticism is ample, but we believe that we are doing a service that is important and that we do it well."
Multiple sources told the Tulsa World earlier this week that Prater told the Pardon and Parole Board members to resign or face misdemeanor charges for alleged violations of the Open Meeting Act.
Prater accused the board of violating the Open Meeting Act last year by posting vague, unclear agendas without enough information for the public to understand the actions it was considering.
On Thursday, Currie Ballard was the first board member to announce he won’t resign and will fight any criminal charges filed in relation to the alleged Open Meeting Act violations.
Board members have repeatedly denied violating the law and say they’ve worked in recent months to increase transparency and clarify agendas for the public.
Ballard, one of three members appointed by Gov. Mary Fallin, said he sees Prater’s threat as “purely political based.”
“The DA has a major problem with my votes of Christian compassion” on the board, Ballard said. “If he truly thinks we violated the law, he needs to do his job and file charges.”