OKLAHOMA CITY (Free Press) — On Monday afternoon the Oklahoma County Board of County Commissioners (BoCC) held a special meeting that many supposed would hinge on one item.
The gallery filled with media and members of the public Monday afternoon, to hear about an item from District 3 Commissioner Kevin Calvey.
The agenda’s eighth item was to take action to accept the resignation of Todd Lamb from the Oklahoma County Criminal Justice Authority (colloquially known as the Jail Trust). The second part of the agenda item included possible action to approve of a new appointee but did not list the candidate Calvey would nominate to fill the vacancy left by Lamb, Calvey’s original appointee. In the end, Calvey moved to strike the item.
The meeting otherwise consisted of robust public comment, and some less flashy, but also important, County business.
Marty Peercy reports Local government
Former Lieutenant Governor Todd Lamb was appointed to the Jail Trust by Calvey on the very day the BoCC voted to create the Trust.
On that day, each Commissioner appointed one member of the Trust, while also approving a slate of community members recommended by the Oklahoma County Criminal Justice Advisory Council (CJAC) and voting 2-1 to place Commissioner Calvey on the Trust as representative of the Commissioners.
Since his appointment, Lamb has shown little commitment to attending the meetings of the Trust, even as the meetings became less frequent over the summer months.
In fact, Lamb had so many absences that the Trust could have voted to relieve him of his seat earlier this year. No public statements have been made by the Trust or Mr. Lamb on why his absences didn’t result in his expulsion.
Monday’s meeting to accept Lamb’s resignation was not a surprise to many, but the mystery of who will be Calvey’s appointee to replace Lamb remains.
When the agenda item came up in Monday’s meeting, Calvey immediately spoke up, moving to strike the item. Calvey said that the District Attorney’s office, official Counsel for the BoCC, had determined that the agenda item was not in keeping with the Open Meetings Act as the agenda did not include the name of the candidate to replace Lamb.
Calvey correctly stated that the decision was not in keeping with precedent in appointing people to the Trust. Still, he acquiesced and the Board struck the item. It will likely be on the agenda for the next BoCC meeting, which will take place before another meeting of the Jail Trust.
Ten members of the public signed up to address the Commissioners at Monday’s meeting.
Current rules for public comment at BoCC meetings state that members of the public can sign up to speak for one minute, and that time for comment is scheduled at the end of the meetings. These rules do not accommodate public input on each agenda item, as happens at some other County and City meetings.
On Monday, Chairman of the BoCC, District 2 Commissioner Brian Maughan, moved public comment to early in the agenda so speakers could give input on upcoming agenda items, and then would be able to leave to go about their normal afternoon.
Maughan was comparatively very generous with public comment, unlike former Chair Kevin Calvey.
Each speaker was allowed time to speak, each for well over one minute. Additionally, some members of the public returned to the podium to address items they previously had not mentioned.
The speakers largely talked about American Recovery Plan Act (ARPA) funds and where they thought that money should be directed.
One prominent activist, Sara Bana, even brought an itemized list of projects she and some community members believe to be the most pressing needs in the community of Oklahoma County. Those ideas included a rotating bail fund administered by the County, transitional housing, and treatment facilities for people struggling with mental illness and/or substance abuse disorders.
Two separate people suggested using already incarcerated detainees as labor inside the Jail.
Many of the members of the public who spoke specifically took issue with the idea of building a new jail. Activists are reasonably concerned that a new jail facility will be larger, which would result in jailing more people, rather than fewer.
Throughout the comments, Commissioner Calvey gazed downward as if looking at a phone or his empty lap, rather than make eye contact with most of those who signed up to speak.
In regular business, the BoCC approved awarding of a bid for:
- Mitigation and landscaping services for the Triple X Road Streambank Stabilization project,
- A bid for construction on the project.
These bids moved faster than usual, as there is a deadline for FEMA reimbursement for some of the costs of the project.
The Board also approved the final land acquisition in the ongoing Crutcho Park Acquisition project. Some 80 homes have been purchased as part of this flood mitigation project in eastern Oklahoma County.
The Board of County Commissioners will meet again on October 4 at 9:00 a.m. Readers can expect the Jail Trustee appointment issue to come up again for that meeting.
Last Updated September 27, 2021, 6:16 PM by Brett Dickerson – Editor