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  1. Default Re: Possible lawsuit against city regarding alleged open meetings violations

    So some problematic Attorney General opinions exist for the city here. Many are distinguishable, but they don't tend to favor some of the practices of the city.

    http://www.oscn.net/applications/osc...2+851+686+685+

    Therefore, it is the official opinion of the Attorney General that the Open Meeting Act applies to meetings of the board of directors of a nonprofit corporation, where such corporation has contracted with a city and a public trust for the operation, maintenance and improvement of public property, and where the city makes annual appropriations to the public trust to pay to the corporation as an operating fee, where such meetings are held for the purpose of discussing business concerning such matters.
    http://www.oscn.net/applications/osc...9+718+559+558+

    ¶20 It is, therefore, the official Opinion of the Attorney General that:
    1. Absent a contractual provision to the contrary, private organizations (either for-profit or non-profit) which contract to provide goods or services to the public on behalf of a governmental agency and receive payment from public funds merely as reimbursement for goods provided or services rendered, are not "supported" by public funds and therefore are not subject to the requirements of the Oklahoma Open Meeting Act, 25 O.S. 2001, §§ 301 - 314.
    2. Private organizations (either for-profit or non-profit) are subject to the Open Meeting Act, 25 O.S. 2001, §§ 301 - 314, if:
    A. they do not submit itemized invoices or claims for goods provided or services rendered to receive public funds, but instead receive a direct allocation of public funds from tax or other revenues; and
    B. there is no quid pro quo or direct relationship to the amount of goods provided or services performed by the private organizations and the funds they are allocated; i.e., the organizations receive funds regardless of whether they provide goods or perform services. Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Ass'n v. Indianapolis Newspapers, Inc., 577 N.E.2d 208, 210 n.2, 213-14 (Ind. 1991).
    3. Whether any particular private organization is "supported in whole or in part by public funds or entrusted with the expending of public funds, or administering public property," (25 O.S. 2001, § 304(1)), making it a public body under the Act, is a question of fact which cannot be answered in an Attorney General Opinion. 74 O.S. 2001, § 18b(A)(5).
    4. Attorney General Opinion 80-215 is hereby modified to the extent it applied the "decision-making authority" test to private organizations which were not "subordinate entities" as defined in Sanders v. Benton, 579 P.2d 815 (Okla. 1978).
    http://www.oscn.net/applications/osc...3+60+59+20+19+
    ¶11 It is, therefore, the official opinion of the Attorney General that:

    1. The Open Meeting Act, 25 O.S. 301 (1977) et seq., applies to meetings of the officers of a nonprofit corporation operating public property under contract with a municipality, where matters to be discussed or taken up concern the administration of the contract or the operation, improvement or maintenance of such public property;
    2. A municipality may not lawfully delegate to a nonprofit corporation its power to make improvements to or contract for improvements to public property, unless a charter provision expressly permits such delegation;
    3. In the event a municipal charter provision permits a municipality to delegate to a nonprofit corporation its power to contract for improvements to public property, the provisions of the Public Competitive Bidding Act of 1974, 61 O.S. 101 (1974) et seq., must be followed by the nonprofit corporation in contracting for such improvements, provided the municipality has no charter provisions dealing with the advertisement, bidding and awarding of contracts for public improvements. If such charter provisions exist and conflict in any way with requirements of state competitive bidding laws, the applicability of the state laws will depend upon a determination of whether the conflicting charter provisions concern purely municipal affairs or affect a wider state interest. Such an inquiry presents a question of fact.
    4. Where a municipality has contracted with a nonprofit corporation to operate public property, records pertaining to the operation, maintenance or improvement of such property or the administration or performance of the contract are public records open for public inspection, even though such records may be kept and maintained in the custody of the nonprofit corporation. Title 51 O.S. 24 (1971).
    http://www.oscn.net/applications/osc...0+749+485+484+

    ¶15 It is, therefore, the official opinion of the Attorney General that:
    1. Public trusts organized under 60 O.S. 176 et seq. (1980) are "public bodies" within the meaning of the Open Meeting Act, 25 O.S. 301 et seq. (1977).
    2. Such public trusts must comply with and are subject to the Open Meeting Act.
    3. Cameras and tape recorders may not be barred from the meetings of trustees of such public trusts.
    4. The above findings apply equally to any and all public bodies subject to the Open Meeting Act.
    And I swear I have seen the AG opinion on this subject, but here's a similar law and a result I'd expect which happened in Mississippi:

    https://www.usnews.com/news/best-sta...n-small-groups
    JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — The Mississippi Supreme Court on Thursday upheld a ruling that a government can't set up meetings of less than a majority of public officials to evade the state's Open Meetings Act.
    The court ruled 9-0 that the city of Columbus was wrong to set up pairs of meetings with the mayor and three city council members apiece in 2014, avoiding the city council's quorum of four members. Those meetings were to discuss an agreement between the city and an economic development agency and maintenance of public buildings.

    I think this lawsuit might surprise some folks.

  2. Default Re: Possible lawsuit against city regarding alleged open meetings violations

    At any rate, the municipal counselors who think that the Council can have small meetings to get around the Open Meetings law are very likely just wrong. Municipal attorneys don't have special expertise in this area and rarely handle open meetings questions (obviously). You'll find them to be experts in code enforcement, municipal ordinances, condemnation and.. y'know.. things municipal counselors actually do.

    As I've said, there's nothing new under the sun. I'm sure the folks who founded Alliance looked at these AG opinions and structured it so that it wasn't exactly the same as some of these other entities which were opened up to open meetings/open records by AG opinions and lawsuits. I also don't think at the end of the day, they're going to be different enough to remain private. I don't think restructuring how the not-for-profit is funded is going to really matter if the purpose of that not-for-profit is negotiating how public money is going to be spent. Perhaps Mayor Holt is in a unique position with his contacts in the legislature to look into changing the laws to make some of this permissible, expand the permissible use of executive session to discuss economic development, for example, but I suspect something like that might draw a referendum petition.

    And just to be clear, until the courts say otherwise, those Supreme Court opinions are law. These issues have been back to the Attorney General numerous times and they just about always side with the right of the people to know what their government is doing. Now I am not making the jump to say there's necessarily any malicious intent here, but the only way for the people to know whether there is malicious intent or not with regarding to spending their money is to have open government.

  3. Default Re: Possible lawsuit against city regarding alleged open meetings violations

    Midtowner, people may be surprised to know that I don’t disagree with much of what you posted. That is, that there most definitely are more restrictive laws elsewhere - though I would point out that there are also known unintended and negative consequences to those laws - and also that there are plenty of knowledgeable people with good intentions who would deem the City’s activities improper. Witness media (who are specifically motivated and who as a group possess an innate righteousness about their mission), and also past AGs, other politicians, etc. The opinions of those people are just that, however, OPINIONS. Not law.

    As I think you confirm with your posts, the activities of the City and its agencies do not clearly violate the letter of the law or even necessarily the spirit of the Oklahoma law, as written. I say “do not clearly” as opposed to “clearly do not,” because that would be untrue. The fact of the matter is that until a COURT rules on this in Oklahoma, they appear to be operating legally. Not an AG issuing an opinion in the distant past, but a court.

    If a court DID rule against the City, they would merely be instructed not to do it that way anymore, by the way.

    And of course I will stick by my belief that these activities have been thoroughly vetted by the City to make sure they comply with the law as currently interpreted by the courts, and (again my opinion) that the City’s motivations are not about keeping things from the public but instead about operating as quickly, efficiently and in as united a manner as possible. Viewed from this standpoint the procedures are understandable and even laudable. They without question are an example of government trying to act more like a quick and nimble business, which has much to do with the progress we have seen in OKC over the past quarter decade.

    All of that said, I don’t disagree that a court challenge COULD change the ballgame regarding the meetings with Council members if it interprets and clarifies existing law in such a way that they are deemed improper. Which of course would only mean that staff would have to begin briefing Council members individually - which they would clearly do - and which would have some unintended consequences, create some inefficiencies, etc.. Of course there is JUST as good of a chance that the courts would rule the meetings to be in compliance with the existing law, which I obviously believe they are intended to be.

    Regarding the structure of public trusts or the existence and practices of The Alliance, I do believe those hoping for change would be disappointed. These things have been challenged and clearly upheld in courts nationwide, and by agencies such as the IRS.

    Also, the public is never, EVER going to change the fact that many agendas are published right at the publication deadline. Such is the nature of agenda deadlines, and this one is VERY clearly outlined in the law. If someone wants them to be published earlier, they should advocate for a change in the deadline as indicated in the law. Again, having been a part of the placement of many agenda items for public meetings, I can attest that last-minute publication is almost always due to a mad scramble to get items - including items unrelated to the ones you might be working on - finalized and in agendas so as to not miss a meeting entirely. The job of City Clerk is not a job I envy in the least.
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  4. Default Re: Possible lawsuit against city regarding alleged open meetings violations

    Attorney General opinions are not just opinions. They are the law of the state until overturned by the courts or the legislature. They are a statement of how the State and all organs of government are to interpret the law. My prediction is that the city will lose this lawsuit. David Prater May have to step in and prosecute some officials. All of the records of Alliance not protected by some sort of privilege will very likely be opened to FOIA requests. I can predict all of this because sans the criminal prosecution which was only halted because powerful men can get away with shady things, has already happened under the same statutes.

    It would be wise for the city to re-evaluate how it conducts business before this likely outcome occurs.

  5. Default Re: Possible lawsuit against city regarding alleged open meetings violations

    ^^^^^^^
    I think we will all be interested in the outcome, which would certainly clarify and put an end to this discussion, which I honestly detest. I respect that you are in the legal field and have some understanding that I don’t claim at all to possess. I don’t litigate; I make boats go around in a circle.

    BUT what I can attest to is that the people we are talking about - at least the ones I know and have worked with - are in my own experience honorable, well-intentioned, innovative, and passionate about making Oklahoma City a vibrant, thriving, successful city. So far they have done an excellent job of this overall. I think many people forget where this city was only a couple of decades ago, or weren’t here, or weren’t paying attention. I hope that no matter what happens this progress continues without abatement.
    NOTICE: I WORK FOR A DOWNTOWN TOURIST ATTRACTION

  6. Default Re: Possible lawsuit against city regarding alleged open meetings violations

    I want the same thing you do. I have no agenda other than to tell you what my opinion is here. Folks can decide what that opinion is worth.

  7. #107

    Default Re: Possible lawsuit against city regarding alleged open meetings violations

    Quote Originally Posted by Urbanized View Post
    ^^^^^^^
    I think we will all be interested in the outcome, which would certainly clarify and put an end to this discussion, which I honestly detest. I respect that you are in the legal field and have some understanding that I don’t claim at all to possess. I don’t litigate; I make boats go around in a circle.

    BUT what I can attest to is that the people we are talking about - at least the ones I know and have worked with - are in my own experience honorable, well-intentioned, innovative, and passionate about making Oklahoma City a vibrant, thriving, successful city. So far they have done an excellent job of this overall. I think many people forget where this city was only a couple of decades ago, or weren’t here, or weren’t paying attention. I hope that no matter what happens this progress continues without abatement.
    and i think few on here would disagree with your assessment that most are honorable, and well-intentioned... But that isn't the point... while i have joked about this a few times. i have never said that anything criminal or shady is going on... but the fact is that they are setting a precedent that could lead to very shady dealings if the right people were to eventually get involved. And i for one would like to fix a potential problem before it causes serious harm to the City, rather than after

  8. Default Re: Possible lawsuit against city regarding alleged open meetings violations

    And that’s important. If funny business does go on, the city’s image could be wrecked. There is a tremendous amount of goodwill here with the electorate. I hope the city’s reaction here is not to stonewall but to open up and seek immediate legislative corrective action to protect the things which really need to be privileged while truly balancing the people’s right to know. This lawsuit concerns me because I’m not convinced Shadid’s intentions extend beyond his own ego.

  9. #109
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    Default Re: Possible lawsuit against city regarding alleged open meetings violations

    Having total openness does not do away with corruption. It even can obfuscate it and drive it further underground. Many smaller issues will become political talking points without honest attempts to find the best public interest.

    That said, there has to be a balance. Theoretically, that is what current law defines. Some say they are filling the letter and intent of the law, while others here think the law abets criminal behavior. So, let’s get this lawsuit going and put that argument on the table.

  10. Default Re: Possible lawsuit against city regarding alleged open meetings violations

    ^^^^^^^^^
    I would prefer this myself, though the City would likely disagree. I know there have been a few news reports, but this discussion really doesn’t extend far beyond readers of this forum, who are a minuscule portion of the population of OKC.

    My guess - and it’s only that, a guess - is that a lawsuit is NOT filed. If it is filed and if the City prevails, the entire discussion goes away pretty much forever. It becomes black and white. On the other hand THREATENING the lawsuit casts a cloud of suspicion and potentially rewards the party threatening litigation by causing procedural or behavioral change in others even without a ruling or the expense and hassle of litigation. In a nutshell, losing would destroy the narrative.

    I soppose we will see.
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  11. #111

    Default Re: Possible lawsuit against city regarding alleged open meetings violations

    Apropos of nothing, I wish I could describe my job as making boats go in a circle. Sounds so much better than process quality auditor. And more fun.

  12. #112

    Default Re: Possible lawsuit against city regarding alleged open meetings violations

    Quote Originally Posted by Midtowner View Post
    And I swear I have seen the AG opinion on this subject, but here's a similar law and a result I'd expect which happened in Mississippi:

    https://www.usnews.com/news/best-sta...n-small-groups
    Is this the one you're thinking about (beginning at paragraph 16)? http://www.oscn.net/applications/osc...p?CiteID=53345

  13. Default Re: Possible lawsuit against city regarding alleged open meetings violations

    Bingo.

    ¶20 It is, therefore, the official opinion of the Attorney General that:
    1. The city council of a charter city is subject to the Open Meeting Act, 25 O.S. 301 et seq. (1977).
    2. Matters pertaining to the proposed termination of a city manager fall within the meaning of "business of a public body," as that term is used in 25 O.S. 304(3) (1977) and in the remainder of the Open Meeting Act.
    3. The city council of a charter city may not dismiss or demand the resignation of the city manager by a vote taken outside a public meeting or within an executive session and without notice to the public.
    4. A single member of the city council of a charter city may not lawfully meet privately with each of the other council members separately to obtain signatures of a majority of the council upon a document and use that document to take an action otherwise required to be considered and voted upon at an open meeting.
    5. A provision in a city charter providing that the city council may appoint, suspend or remove the city manager "at any time" does not permit the city council to so act in conflict with the Open Meeting Act.

  14. Default Re: Possible lawsuit against city regarding alleged open meetings violations

    Interestingly, I was just going through the list of interim studies in the Oklahoma House of Reps. There is an interim study requested by Rep. McCall (Speaker of the House) for "Modernization of the Open Meetings Act." This could go one of two ways--they're either going to gut it, which I expect, or they're going to open things up even more. I think the above AG opinion shows pretty conclusively that what the city is doing is not legal.

  15. #115

    Default Re: Possible lawsuit against city regarding alleged open meetings violations

    Quote Originally Posted by Urbanized View Post
    I don’t litigate; I make boats go around in a circle.
    Love this! You've been hitting them out of the park lately, Urbanized.

  16. Default Re: Possible lawsuit against city regarding alleged open meetings violations

    Appreciate the kind words, turnpup. Also in this thread recently from PhiAlpha and foodiefan, and others previously acknowledged. I'm only trying to explain what I believe is the City's position, how it is - or at least could be - defensible under current interpretation of state law. Also of course saying that - while it may or may not stand up under review - I believe that the City's motives are not nefarious in any way and definitely don't believe some of the theories which have been ascribed by others.

    I also appreciate Midtowner's take; as someone who practices in the legal field it is without question worth noting.

    I will point out that the opinion quoted above quite clearly has to do with collection of signatures outside of a public meeting and also with deciding courses of action for the public body. I don't think either of these things are being alleged, even by Ed. My understanding of what is happening is that they are just being briefed. I do, however believe that city staff conducts these meetings not only to make Council members aware of upcoming, critical issues they will be deciding but to explain the staff rationale. In many ways this is no different than staff circulating a memo (though it will of course be pointed out that memos are subject to the open records act).

    I also expect that staff wants to hear questions or concerns in advance so that they can address them - rather than continuing meetings until future dates to obtain answers and return with them - or even to make changes to a plan to allay the Council members' concerns. I see this as good management/governance and making the best use of everyone's time.

    And again, I strongly believe that even if the law was interpreted or changed to eliminate meetings that include more than a single Council member, these types of meetings would (and should) continue, only as one-on-one meetings with staff and Council members. The logical extension of not doing so would be a council which is fully in the dark when they show up to consider and vote on something, which is something surely NOBODY in this discussion wants. Right..? Can we at least agree on this point?
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  17. Default Re: Possible lawsuit against city regarding alleged open meetings violations

    Appreciate the kind words, turnpup. Also in this thread recently from PhiAlpha and foodiefan, and others previously acknowledged. I'm only trying to explain what I believe is the City's position, how it is - or at least could be - defensible under current interpretation of state law. Also of course saying that - while it may or may not stand up under review - I believe VERY MUCH that the City's motives are not nefarious in any way and definitely DON'T believe some of the theories which have been ascribed by others.

    I also appreciate Midtowner's take; as someone who practices in the legal field it is without question worth noting.

    I will point out that the opinion quoted above quite clearly has to do with collection of signatures outside of a public meeting and also with deciding courses of action for the public body. I don't think either of these things are being alleged, even by Ed. My understanding of what is happening is that they are just being briefed. I do, however believe that city staff conducts these meetings not only to make Council members aware of upcoming, critical issues they will be deciding but to explain the staff rationale. In many ways this is no different than staff circulating a memo (though it will of course be pointed out that memos are subject to the open records act).

    I also expect that staff wants to hear questions or concerns in advance so that they can address them - rather than continuing meetings until future dates to obtain answers and return with them - or even to make changes to a plan to allay the Council members' concerns. I see this as good management/governance and making the best use of everyone's time.

    And again, I strongly believe that even if the law was interpreted or changed to eliminate meetings that include more than a single Council member, these types of meetings would (and should) continue, but only as one-on-one meetings with staff and Council members. The logical extension of not doing so would be a council which is fully in the dark when they show up to consider and vote on something, which is something surely NOBODY in this discussion wants. Right..? Can we at least agree on this point?
    NOTICE: I WORK FOR A DOWNTOWN TOURIST ATTRACTION

  18. Default Re: Possible lawsuit against city regarding alleged open meetings violations

    Quote Originally Posted by Urbanized View Post
    In many ways this is no different than staff circulating a memo (though it will of course be pointed out that memos are subject to the open records act).
    I'm glad you can see the problem here. From what I understand, if there are handouts in the meeting, they are taken up and destroyed in many cases. Seems iffy to me!


    I also expect that staff wants to hear questions or concerns in advance so that they can address them - rather than continuing meetings until future dates to obtain answers and return with them - or even to make changes to a plan to allay the Council members' concerns. I see this as good management/governance and making the best use of everyone's time.
    There's no reason they can't do this in an open meeting. If someone has to come back with answers, I'm sure most things can wait a week. If not, folks need to come to meetings prepared. It's a good skill to have.

    And again, I strongly believe that even if the law was interpreted or changed to eliminate meetings that include more than a single Council member, these types of meetings would (and should) continue, but only as one-on-one meetings with staff and Council members. The logical extension of not doing so would be a council which is fully in the dark when they show up to consider and vote on something, which is something surely NOBODY in this discussion wants. Right..? Can we at least agree on this point?
    I don't agree. I think council members can meet in the open out on the 'ol shoe in full daylight, ask questions, get information, let the reporters take their notes. They can then go back in special session to discuss private matters. Not only should those deliberations all be public, all of the deliberations of public trusts as well. Then I think there's a really good reason to believe that Alliance OKC might be subject to open meetings/records.

  19. Default Re: Possible lawsuit against city regarding alleged open meetings violations

    Quote Originally Posted by Midtowner View Post
    ...There's no reason they can't do this in an open meeting. If someone has to come back with answers, I'm sure most things can wait a week. If not, folks need to come to meetings prepared. It's a good skill to have...
    There are 100+ reasons. If every item on each week’s agenda got a full discussion including what recommendation was being made by staff and how they arrived at their decisions then council would have to meet seven days a week. Instead, they generally rely on staff recommendations unless an item is large/complex in nature and/or has any amount of controversy, in which case it gets detailed discussion, which in many cases can last hours.

    The standard operating procedure, by the way, is that if an item impacts a specific ward then the Council member elected in that ward takes the lead, conducts meetings - ahead of the item being advanced to council - as needed with City staff (gasp!) and also with individual constituents and groups as dictated by the situation. Then when it comes to council, as a professional courtesy other Council members fall in line and vote with the Council member of the affected ward, unless they have specific insight or principles which make them vote against the others (as is of course their right and responsibility). In this way Council members divide up the massive task of gathering information dictating how they should vote, without each council member being required to spend many hours individually researching the hundred plus items which appear on the agenda each week.

    “Prepared” means being fully prepared for all items in your own ward, plus being prepared to discuss and vote on larger items and expenditures which affect the entire city. How might one do this, you might ask? Well, by being BRIEFED BY THE STAFF YOU EMPLOY and empower to do day-to-day research, meetings, negotiations and recommendations to you as a governing body. This exactly how a strong city manager form of government works (as opposed to strong mayor).

    I hate to get too reductive with the civics lesson, but just so everyone is clear, our local form of government by design resembles a corporation with a board of directors (city council) and a CEO (city manager). City Council has the direct ability to hire and fire three people; the city manager, the city auditor and the city attorney. By design, each of these individuals and their departments are mostly autonomous in order to protect them from political pressure from the other.

    City Council can fire the city manager with five votes on any Tuesday (this has been done in the past) but as long as they have confidence in this person they give him or her near-absolute authority to run the daily affairs of the City. Their job at that point is to review the work that the city manager and his staff perform on our and their behalf. When this work involves expenditures, contracts and the like their job is to approve them - provided they have confidence in the job performed by staff - or deny, in unusual circumstances. By the way, if too many items start getting denials at Council it’s probably time for a city manager to polish up the ol’ resume.

    The city manager is a professional administrator, and his staff includes professional negotiators, professional planners, public safety professionals, engineers, and other highly-trained individuals. They are hired to do this work and to be good at it. They are advised by legal professionals on the City Attorney’s staff.

    City Council members are none of these things (except of course when by coincidence a professional in one of these fields has been voted into office). Nor do they need to be. We aren’t asking or requiring them to conduct negotiations, to design bridges, to hire City staff and do HR, to make policing recommendations, or to advise the City legally. The City Council members are citizens who have been elected instead to oversee the professionals hired to conduct our business, and to advocate for their respective wards.

    Literally THE ONLY WAY Council can make informed decisions on complicated items is to meet with staff ahead of council meetings and to be briefed on these topics; to get background on them, to understand who the players are, and to understand how City staff reached its recommendation. At this point, it is their right and responsibility to do further research if they desire and to discuss any point they wish to discuss during the public meeting where they will then publicly cast a vote.

    Again, quite similar to the board of directors of a corporation, non-profit, etc..
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  20. Default Re: Possible lawsuit against city regarding alleged open meetings violations

    I'm surely not qualified to make much of a contrubution here, but doesn't *all* of this issue tend to underscore the real problem - and that's OKC's reliance on a city manager form of government with a somewhat symbolic (okay, I know it's more than that) mayor position? If the notion being alleged is that the City Manager is proxying meetings and deals with "agencies" to benefit select private companies, then it sure seems the government structure allowing the CM that much power is really at the crux of the problem.

  21. Default Re: Possible lawsuit against city regarding alleged open meetings violations

    ^^^^^^^^
    Ask Tulsa about the strong mayor version. It’s a huge reason why OKC has lapped Tulsa as they descended into political bickering and radical shifts in direction and priorities every time a new mayor was elected. And frankly, the opportunities for shady behavior are MUCH greater in a system like that.

    Explain to me again why it is a bad thing to have a professional and experienced municipal administrator in charge of day-to-day operations while relying on the oversight (and ultimate veto power) of an elected oversight board (in this case city council)?

    If you or anyone else doesn’t like the job Jim Couch and his team are doing, talk to your elected city council member. You can email them anytime (and should expect a reply) and most are very easy to get meetings scheduled with. They actually really appreciate feedback from informed and engaged citizens. And they have the power to fire the city manager any Tuesday, with a simple majority vote. The reason they have chosen not to do so with our current city manager is that he is very good at his job.
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  22. Default Re: Possible lawsuit against city regarding alleged open meetings violations

    Quote Originally Posted by Urbanized View Post
    ^^^^^^^^
    Ask Tulsa about the strong mayor version. It’s a huge reason why OKC has lapped Tulsa as they descended into political bickering and radical shifts in direction and priorities every time a new mayor was elected. And frankly, the opportunities for shady behavior are MUCH greater in a system like that.

    Explain to me again why it is a bad thing to have a professional and experienced municipal administrator in charge of day-to-day operations while relying on the oversight (and ultimate veto power) of an elected oversight board (in this case city council)?

    If you or anyone else doesn’t like the job Jim Couch and his team are doing, talk to your elected city council member. You can email them anytime (and should expect a reply) and most are very easy to get meetings scheduled with. They actually really appreciate feedback from informed and engaged citizens. And they have the power to fire the city manager any Tuesday, with a simple majority vote. The reason they have chosen not to do so with our current city manager is that he is very good at his job.
    *Sigh*

    But if what the CM does is carefully constructed to avoid public scrutiny.....bah. Never mind.

    It was just an observation. Sorry I bothered.

  23. Default Re: Possible lawsuit against city regarding alleged open meetings violations

    Here is a ward map for the City of Oklahoma City: https://www.okc.gov/government/city-council

    If you click through there are bio links, plus contact info (e-mails and phone numbers). You can email them directly, and you can call and set up a meeting through their offices. I would encourage anyone who has strong thoughts on this or any process to contact your council member and ask them about it. Be respectful, hear what they have to say, give them your own thoughts. See how they respond.

    Sorry, if you live outside of OKC you do not have direct council representation, though most will still be happy to talk/meet with you, especially if you work or do business here.

    I have to say, for those who are advocating every item be discussed only in open meetings - including information gathering and negotiations - have you ever attended or at least watched a complete City Council meeting? Planning commission? Trust meetings? They tend to be excruciatingly long, tedious, mind-numbing affairs, even with massive amounts of work already having been performed ahead of them by City staff. I can’t imagine anyone who has been involved with them in any way would think it possible to fully investigate, discuss and consider every item on the agenda before voting.

    This is the main purpose of professional staff and of trusts and commissions. They help break up the workload (which is massive for a City of 500K+ residents, 622 square miles, many thousands of employees, and an annual budget of over a BILLION DOLLARS.

    The real business of the City is not done on Tuesday morning at City Council; it is done seven days a week in places like 420 W Main, a large number of other offices and facilities, and on the streets of Oklahoma City. The City Council’s job is NOT to do that business themselves; it is to check the work of others, to agree that it was done as the law requires and according to the priorities that they as a council have set, and if they do not agree then to reject that work and tell staff to go back to the drawing board.

    If they end up having to send too many items back to the drawing board, then at their discretion they may remove the chief executive at any time. This is how our government works, and in my own experience and view it works very, very well.
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  24. #124
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    Default Re: Possible lawsuit against city regarding alleged open meetings violations

    I think all those that think all discussions should all be at open meetings and all decision options hashed out in a public forum should get their way and they will see the incredible amount of time it will take, how many rabbit holes it will open, and how many interests turn to public politicking with propaganda campaigns. We will need full time fully paid council members and way more meetings. Then, we likely will get the least common denominator decisions. It’s a perfect way to kill anything that is progressive.

    There is a balance between public knowledge and input, and need to get things done. We seem to be riding that edge. But, if the public is dissatisfied and thinks a corrupt anti-citizen cabal is controlling our city unfairly, they should work to change the rules, sue the heck out of the city, make the changes, and see what happens. Just be careful what you ask for, you might get it.

  25. Default Re: Possible lawsuit against city regarding alleged open meetings violations

    Quote Originally Posted by SoonerDave View Post
    *Sigh*

    But if what the CM does is carefully constructed to avoid public scrutiny.....bah. Never mind.

    It was just an observation. Sorry I bothered.
    But this is in no way fact; it is only conjecture. This is an assertion made by a single individual and constitutes an extreme minority view among elected officials who are accountable to their constituents. And heck, he might be completely correct. OR - as I suspect - he has a misunderstanding of the situation and the legal requirements, a misread of his colleagues’ motives and actions, and is generally mistaken. It’s fair to believe him, but it is also fair to believe LITERALLY EVERYONE ELSE INVOLVED.

    And if he files suit and prevails, I promise for a fact that I will come here and say that my assumptions were wrong, just as I believe that OKC would then fully comply with any orders by the court. Until then, it’s just conjecture.

    I guess we will see, assuming he files suit.
    NOTICE: I WORK FOR A DOWNTOWN TOURIST ATTRACTION

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