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OKLAHOMA CITY (Free Press) — The Oklahoma County Board of County Commissioners (BoCC) met on Monday morning for their first meeting of the month.

The gallery was full on Monday, including a contingent of activists and protestors who came to address the BoCC on the issue of the Oklahoma County Criminal Justice Authority (Jail Trust). 

They were also protesting District 3 Commissioner Kevin Calvey’s potential appointment to the Trust, Chad Alexander, who was accepted as appointee to replace the outgoing Todd Lamb.

At the end of the meeting, under the heading of Citizens to Speak, the mayors of Jones and Midwest City urged the Commissioners to spread the incoming American Recovery Plan Act (ARPA) funds around the county for infrastructure.

Sad news of the passing of former County Assessor Leonard Sullivan was also announced and some commissioners reminisced about his many years of public service.

Marty Peercy reports Local government

Public Comment

As usual, several members of the public attended Monday’s meeting to voice their frustration with the Jail Trust, and with the BoCC as the governing body supervising the County, and to specifically address Calvey’s proposed appointee to the Trust, Chad Alexander.

Regulars at County meetings regarding the Jail Trust, Christopher Johnston and Sara Bana both made comments advocating for dissolution of the existing Jail Trust, and returning operation of the Detention Center to the Sheriff’s control.

Bana specifically said that the Jail is in an imminent state of emergency due to the negligence of the Trust and their management team at the Jail.

Other commenters brought up Alexander’s 2014 arrest. 

As reported in The Oklahoman and other news sources at the time, during a traffic stop, Alexander opened his wallet, showing a badge like those carried by members of the District Attorney’s office. Police asked if he worked for the DA, and reported that Alexander answered “Yes.” Then they reported asking Alexander if he was an Assistant DA, to which he also answered yes. Alexander was charged with possession of a controlled substance and with impersonating an officer of the court.

Alexander Discussion

Chad Alexander, Calvey’s nominee for the Trust, currently hosts a radio show on a station owned by Tyler Media. That company is owned by Tony Tyler, vice-chair of the Oklahoma County Criminal Justice Advisory Council, the recommending body that developed the Jail Trust idea to begin with.

After public comments on the item, Calvey read a brief bio of Mr. Alexander. The bio cited several boards on which Alexander sits, and included a shining endorsement from former Democratic Gubernatorial hopeful Joe Dorman, who said Alexander has been his friend for over 25 years, in spite of political differences.

Calvey described Alexander’s story as being one of redemption. He said that Alexander has life experience that he will bring to the table, and that he is someone who has taken the steps to turn his own life around.

District 1 Commissioner Carrie Blumert addressed the audience after Calvey.

Blumert said that her mother is in recovery from addiction.

“To use somebody’s addiction, and to weaponize it against them, that makes me very sad.”

After that comment, some men in the back of the room started shouting and Blumert interrupted them, saying, “Let me speak.”

Blumert then corrected the mistaken idea that Calvey appointed Joe Albaugh to the Trust, saying that Albaugh’s appointment was a joint appointment by the entire board. The appointment of someone to take Lamb’s seat on the Trust is up to the District 3 Commissioner.

After Blumert’s comments, Calvey moved the nomination, Blumert seconded, and the Board voted unanimously to accept the appointee.

Alexander will take over that seat on the Trust at their next meeting on October 18 at 1:00 p.m.

Mayors Speak

Under the final part of the agenda, Citizens to be Heard, the Board was addressed by two local mayors.

Ray Poland, Mayor of Jones, OK in eastern Oklahoma County, began his comments by thanking the Commissioners for all of their work regarding the North Canadian River in the eastern part of the County.

Ray Poland
Ray Poland, Mayor of Jones in eastern Oklahoma County, speaks to the BoCC Oct. 4, 2021. (BRETT DICKERSON/Okla City Free Press)

Poland went on to describe the challenges his town is facing from stormwater runoff. He pointed out that stormwater abatement programs are eligible for ARPA funds.

Spending all $154 million of the ARPA dollars on the Jail, according to Poland, is simply not prudent.

Poland said he was at the meeting, “hat in hand,” to ask the Commissioners to think of the municipalities in the County who don’t have the sales tax base nor an award from the ARPA plan.

Poland was followed by Midwest City Mayor Matt Dukes.

Dukes said that he was not at the meeting “hat in hand.” Midwest City is fortunate to be able to fund most of their projects with sales tax receipts.

However, he pointed out, there are 27 municipalities in Oklahoma County, and most of them don’t have the resources that Midwest City and Oklahoma City have.

Dukes urged the Board to consider using ARPA money to help with crucial infrastructure projects.

Dukes acknowledged that the Jail has many needs, and that the Jail does affect the whole County, but that there needs to be some equity in the application of these relief funds.

In recent meetings, the Board has also heard from Cathy Cummings, member of the City Council of The Village, on the same topic. Cummings previously encouraged other officials in municipalities around the County to come to the BoCC and be heard and advocate for their towns.

The Board is still looking for an appropriate consultant service for handling ARPA regulations before disbursements begin.

The BoCC will meet again on October 18 at 9:00 a.m.

Last Updated October 4, 2021, 3:26 PM by Brett Dickerson – Editor