A contract for the employment of Greg Williams as CEO of the Jail Trust was approved Monday and a temporary office at the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce was announced.
The move marks a turning point for the Trust that had no bank accounts just weeks ago.
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When the Trust returned from executive session at the beginning of the meeting they agreed to a contract for the employment of Greg Williams as CEO of the Authority at a rate of $120,000 per year, plus benefits.
The salary limit for an employee of Oklahoma County is $105,000.
The Trust, however, is not a regular part of the county government. Hence, Mr. Williams is allowed to be paid considerably more than our County’s top-paid employees.
The Trust went on to essentially direct Williams to begin work immediately. The Chamber of Commerce has offered office space for the Trust so that Mr. Williams has a place to work.
That office space is not at the Jail, it is worth noting.
While the charitable offering of office space from the Chamber of Commerce is nice, we don’t know how long that will last.
Will the new Administrator keep his office in the Chamber space? One would assume not. The Sheriff is working on a plan to move his law enforcement personnel offices to another location, freeing up office space at the Jail.
But we simply can’t know what will happen with that until the decision gets made.
Similarly, future ownership of the jail is still in the air. Will the County maintain ownership of the jail and lease it to the Trust? Will the County give it to the Trust or sell it to the Trust? I could only guess.
At the end of the meeting, there was time for public comment. Only one person had signed up to speak.
Local activist Jess Eddy approached the Trustees and handed out a letter addressed to Sheriff P.D. Taylor and carbon copied to the OSCO, the Board of County Commissioners, the Jail Trust, and the Detention Center Transition Committee.
The letter was co-signed by Dream Action Oklahoma and several other social justice organizations in Oklahoma City that recently held a protest across the street from the Jail.
Eddy used his three minutes to encourage the Trust to remove Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents from the County Jail.
He further suggested that the available office space could be used for Trust operations, allowing the new Jail Administrator to be at the Jail he would soon be Administering.
The letter listed seven areas of concern from the eight signatory organizations:
- Collaboration with ICE
- Inhumane conditions
- Children at the Jail
- For-profit systems
The entire letter is embedded below.
Directly after being called to order the trust immediately recessed to Executive Session. The Trustees were gone for 23 minutes before returning to the regular public meeting.
For the most part, this has been a regular practice.
I attend a lot of public meetings. Uniformly, other public bodies whose meetings I attend hold their Executive Sessions at the end of their agendas.
The Jail Trust is the only one I know of with the Executive Session at the beginning of meetings. I’m not entirely sure why they do this.
I do know that it can be extremely boring to wait for half an hour at the beginning of a meeting before anything happens.
And I know I’ve seen members of the public leave the meeting because they don’t think they have time to wait it out.
I’m not saying that the Jail Trust has its Executive Session at the beginning of the meeting in order to discourage public participation in their meetings. I’m also not saying that isn’t the reason.
With no other comments, the Trust adjourned. The next meeting of the Jail Trust will be on Monday, February 3, at 1 p.m.
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