Kevin Calvey, who represents District 3 on the Oklahoma County Board of Commissioners, acts like he neither likes nor understands people who take an active role in local politics. It was so much easier for Calvey when the county commissioners could act against the public interest in peace and quiet, moving funds into pet projects and subverting the will of taxpayers.
Calvey had a bad day on Aug. 19 when the 54-year-old former state legislator literally pulled a fast one, calling for a vote on the $34 million in Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funds to be allocated to the Oklahoma County Jail Trust. District 1 county commissioner Carrie Blumert was not even seated when Calvey bulldozed over her and called a vote at 9:01 a.m.
by George Lang, opinion writer for Free Press
This was funding designated to help businesses, nonprofits and individuals recover from the financial hardships caused by COVID-19, but the majority of available funds through the CARES Act will now go to a notoriously problematic jail facility and used for purposes unrelated to COVID-19. Calvey seemed desperate to move as quickly as possible, swiftly flouting government requirements and public will and ramming through the vote as if he had a one-minute window before a SWAT team moved in.
This was astounding in its disregard for both the public and procedure, but Calvey’s actions following the vote were nearly as egregious.
When Calvey invited press into the chambers, he physically pushed Chad Whitehead of the Tower Theatre back into the hallway and Sheriff’s deputies, believing they were following his wishes, denied access to Tyreke Baker of the Black Times, who was shooting video at that moment.
It never ceases to perplex me how dumb people can behave in the social media era. Baker’s video was then picked up by Jessica Bruno from KFOR, who then broadcast Calvey shoving Whitehead to News 4 viewers. From a legal standpoint, this was assault. I sincerely hope Calvey and our neighbors in District 3 understand that.
Throughout his time in the legislature, Calvey displayed his total disregard for government regulations, which is why he should not be part of government. He authored the original bill in the state House that provided for so-called “constitutional carry” of firearms without a license. He is the reason why Tim Harper gets to threaten people by walking in the city strapped with an AR-15.
On the other hand, Calvey loves the government when it allows him to profit from his commissioner’s salary. Like many district attorneys who place stickers at supermarket checkouts threatening prosecution for bad checks, Calvey loves to put his name on county road construction signs, just to let you know his name in time for the next election. He poses with these signs and posts photos on social media, just in case you missed his name in all-caps by the side of the road.
But that leveraging of road markers as campaign signs is small potatoes compared to what he did this week with his hasty handling of the vote. It purposely disenfranchised a respected county commissioner in a vote that will likely bring scrutiny from government auditors.
And District 2 commissioner Brian Maughan, who followed Calvey into this buzzsaw by voting in favor of the Jail Trust funding, has now attracted the ire of a politically engaged group of citizens who will merrily vote for his opponent, Spencer Hicks, in November.
While Calvey apparently shares President Donald Trump’s beliefs on who is and is not a member of the press, that is not for him or Sheriff’s deputies to decide. Baker had every right to be in Calvey’s briefing, and the District 3 commissioner’s refusal to admit Baker abridged his First Amendment rights. And Calvey had absolutely no right to shove Whitehead back and close those doors. Whitehead would be within his rights to press charges.
Unfortunately, Calvey’s term ends in 2023, and if time passes like it has this year, that will feel like an eternity. However, the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office’s Fraternal Order of Police representatives have repeatedly called for Calvey to be removed from office, and it only takes 20,000 verified signatures from District 3 residents to initiate a recall vote on him.
If you listen carefully, you can hear angry people digging through their desk drawers, looking for clipboards.
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