A plan to hire a consulting firm to advise Oklahoma County and to have Commissioner Kevin Calvey as the manager on the county side of that relationship has been deferred by the Oklahoma County Board of County Commissioners.
Another item for the Sheriff’s office to accept grant money applied for each year was deferred to allow Sheriff-elect Tommy Johnson to review it.
Opposition to Calvey
After Free Press published a preview of the meeting early Wednesday, several showed up for the short meeting at 12:30 to oppose the plan for Commissioner Kevin Calvey to be the single manager of interactions with the firm.
Trust between certain elements of the public and Calvey have been damaged by what some have interpreted as bad-faith actions by Calvey in recent months.
Local restauranteur Sean Cummings spoke directly to Calvey and against the idea. “I have issues with the firm suggested not being local,” said Cummings. “I have huge issues with your lying, your cheating.” He went on.
“We can’t put you in charge of anything. I wouldn’t put you in charge of flushing a toilet. You are a dishonest human being to the core.”
Then, speaking to Commissioner Brian Maughan, Cummings said, “Brian, I hope you won’t go along with this. I don’t care who’s in charge as long as it’s not him.”
Several others spoke displaying distrust with Calvey and asking Maughan to vote against allowing Calvey to be the manager of the relationship with the consulting firm.
Amy Jones, who is a small business owner in Spencer came to let the commissioners know that “we are struggling and having a hard time keeping the doors open.”
“This money is very important to us,” Jones continued. “It’s really important that it comes back to the people so we can keep growing.”
Consulting and contact
The item that drew the most comment, item 2, proposed that Calvey be the manager of the agreement with a consulting firm that would monitor the spending of CARES Act funds and advise on procedures for expending the funds.
As we reported from the Monday meeting, CARES Act funds will be distributed by the Oklahoma Industries Authority led by Cathy O’Connor who has been leading the City of Oklahoma City’s effort with that city’s federal relief funds.
The idea of a consulting firm to steer the handling of CARES Act funds the county is Calvey’s idea, and his ideas about why the consulting firm were shown today when he had Mike Gibson, a member of the RSM firm speak virtually.
Calvey prefaced the interview with Gibson by saying, “I would be more than happy to have Commissioner Maughan be the point of contact for this rather than me if that would help anybody in looking at it.”
Calvey did not mention Commissioner Carrie Blumert as a suggested alternate to him.
Gibson from RSM said that there are members of the firm who have been in Oklahoma City for “over 30 years” and that they had been in another local firm that then merged into RSM.
RSM has as its primary clients states instead of individual and their primary client at present is the State of Iowa according to Gibson.
Gibson also explained that their primary function for the State of Iowa was “reviewing applications that they received from local government – cities and counties – and evaluating for eligibility for funds” under the CARES Act.
RSM reviews the records to make sure that they are in order for reimbursement from the state.
Calvey led the discussion focusing on how the firm guides entities in making sure they follow the U.S Department of the Treasury guidelines on use of the funds.
The Commissioner then narrowed the discussion about how much the firm has consulted on the ways in which cities and counties could reimburse themselves with the funds as an alternate to direct, new expenditure of the funds.
Gibson said that 80-90% of expenditures for public safety and health costs under the act are reimbursed.
Calvey has been intensely focused on using the funds to reimburse the county for expenditures to use more of the CARES Act funds before the deadline.
In response to Calvey’s question asking if the firm had any clients in Oklahoma that they have helped with reimbursement methods, Gibson said, “No.”
Joe Blough, sitting in for Commissioner Blumert, asked, “Is a part of your analysis – in addition to the act itself and Treasury guidance – the laws of the states you’re working in or the jurisdictions where there might be conflicts? Are you advising on the legality of the situation as well?”
Gibson was “not familiar with that aspect himself” and said that he would have to ask his partner about it.
The item was deferred until the next regularly scheduled meeting on December 7 because the District Attorney’s office has not had time to develop an opinion about the plan.
Calvey did say that they may have to set up a special meeting to take up the matter before then.
Sheriff’s Office grant denied
Item 3 was to review a grant award and vote to approve receiving the monies for public safety programs. The grant period is 10-01-2020 and through 09-30-2021 and amounts to $227,716.00.
Sheriff’s Office Legal Counsel Danny Honeycutt answered questions on the item.
Calvey asked a few questions to make sure he understood the time frame.
“I’ve had a request from the incoming sheriff, Tommy Johnson, to defer this item until he has had time to review that,” said Calvey.
Brian Maughan also added that he would want to talk to Johnson about the grant first before accepting it.
Honeycutt said that there were some actions in motion anticipating this annual and “usual” grant. Calvey asked Honeycutt to contact Johnson about the matter.