The Oklahoma Commission on the Status of Women’s monthly regular meeting, held last week in the Will Rogers Memorial Office Building in Oklahoma City, turned into an unruly state public event.
According to the public agenda, a wrap-up report about the Oklahoma Women’s Hall of Fame was listed. Following the report, the new commission chair Riki Snyder launched into what some considered a tirade. She exposed information about 2019 Women’s Hall of Fame inductee Ollie Starr’s run-ins with the law in Broward County, Florida.
Chair Snyder further stated that the commission’s executive committee was made aware of Starr’s charges by concerned Oklahoma women who voluntarily brought forward the information – and unanimously agreed not to disclose it. However, chair Snyder insisted the entire commission should know about Starr and that the executive committee withheld this information from the commission.
This topic (discussing a specific inductee’s background) was not listed on the public agenda, as required by the Oklahoma Open Meeting Act.
Starr and those who brought forth the background information did not receive required 24-hour advance public notice to attend the public meeting and defend their actions and character while being exposed during a public meeting.
After the information was revealed, the public meeting became unruly. Chair Snyder resisted and ignored requests from several commission members that this topic was out of order and her insistence to expose this information, and the executive committee’s unanimous decision to withhold the information, was damaging to the Women’s Hall of Fame and to the named inductee.
Some background: The week prior to the commission meeting, chair Snyder’s husband, Steve Snyder, was banned from ever working in state government again, ordered to complete 200 hours of community service and pay $5,867 in restitution to the Oklahoma Police Pension and Retirement System. He had served as its executive director, and last year was charged with seven felony accounts for submitting false travel claims and time sheets to the state, as well as illegally using a computer to commit the offenses.
The Oklahoma Attorney General’s office finalized a deferred prosecution agreement compromise with Snyder. (The investigation also uncovered that he sent 43 nude photos of a woman in sexual positions to a trustee on the pension fund’s board.)
All commission regular and special meetings are open to the public. The next regular meeting is Nov. 21 at 3 p.m. in the Will Rogers Building.
However, a special meeting will be held on Nov. 7 to discuss ideas on how the commission can fulfill its mission to strengthen and empower women by improving their opportunities and quality of life.
NOTE: Martin, an independent journalist, is former editor of The City Sentinel newspaper.