DISNEY, OK —
A civil suit rekindled debate surrounding the distribution of fire tax revenue.
Ron Coats filed a lawsuit against the town of Disney, alleging it denied him access to records that by law are public.
The suit was filed in January and the case appeared before a judge Wednesday. Both Coats and the Mayor of Disney, Judy Barger, were present in the court room. Outside court proceedings, Coats said this is the fourth lawsuit he has filed.
“From the suit on Strang, my attorney was able to collect $10,000, from Diamond Head he collected $5,000 and from Osage $3,500,” said Coats.
Coats denies having any personal vendetta against the fire departments. “It's a citizen's duty to request records. People forget the government works for us, not the other way around.”
Coats requested records from the Disney Fire Department, which are kept at and can only be obtained through Disney City Hall.
He said he requested the records at Disney City Hall and was still unable to receive copies of them.
“You've heard the saying, a government that is afraid of the people is liberty? If people are afraid of the government, that's tyranny,” said Coats.
Coats said his request to the Osage Fire Department uncovered a $26,000 embezzlement. He said people need to be aware of what's happening in their community and what they are allowed access to according to the Oklahoma Open Records Act.
The Oklahoma Open Records Act clearly defines its purpose, “people are vested with the inherent right to know and be fully informed about their government.” It continues, “the purpose of this act is to ensure and facilitate the public's right of access to and review of government records so they may efficiently and intelligently exercise their inherent political power.”
The records, according to another fire chief, usually include budget information, personnel information, run sheets and gas logs.