Commissioners meet two days over masks, pending litigation, terrorism

Commissioners meet two days over masks, pending litigation, terrorism

Board of County Commissioners

OKLAHOMA CITY (Free Press) — A particular assembly of the Oklahoma County Board of County Commissioners (BoCC) met Wednesday to contemplate objects in Govt Session. And, then a corrective second assembly the subsequent day, Thursday, was meant to scrub up enterprise left over.

Wednesday, they deliberate to take up objects about COVID-19 masks insurance policies, ongoing litigation concerning a dying on the Jail in 2017, and potential acts of terrorism in and across the downtown County constructing advanced.

Authorities in keeping with columnist Marty Peercy

Winding path of conferences

Nonetheless, one thing was irregular in regards to the posting of the assembly and so, on recommendation of the District Lawyer’s workplace, a second assembly was scheduled for Thursday afternoon at 3:00 p.m. for these Govt Session objects.

The Wednesday assembly nonetheless befell, because the Board had added 4 objects to deal with throughout open session.

On Wednesday morning the Board took motion on an merchandise offered by District 3 Commissioner Kevin Calvey for the aim of rescinding the County’s masks coverage. That coverage was rescinded by a 2-1vote.

On Thursday afternoon the BoCC reconvened to enter Govt Session for dialogue of an ongoing matter of litigation in opposition to the County for the wrongful dying of a former detainee named Maurice Pendleton. 

The Commissioners additionally mentioned a vaguely worded merchandise to debate “evaluation of the vulnerability of the Oklahoma County Downtown Complicated to an act of terrorism and plans for deterrence or prevention of, or safety from, an act of terrorism.”

Thursday afternoon’s assembly occurred on the scheduled time, however none of it was streamed on the County’s YouTube channel. Commonplace observe is a livestream to YouTube which is then saved and archived on the channel.

Masks Coverage

On Wednesday, the Board mentioned Calvey’s request to rescind the County’s masks coverage in County buildings.

Calvey stated that whereas it was time to finish any necessities for masks within the County, however that residents ought to nonetheless train social distancing. He provided no scientific cause that one was vital however the different was not.

Emergency Administration Director David Barnes was known as to the rostrum to present his suggestions on the merchandise. Barnes informed the Commissioners that he was within the “private duty camp.”

Barnes stated that the Metropolis of Oklahoma Metropolis’s masks mandate is ready to run out on April 30, however that on the thirteenth the Metropolis Council would focus on ending the mandate early.

However, the variety of votes required to finish the Metropolis’s mandate early is 7 of 9, and at the very least three members of the Council have stated they don’t help ending the mandate early.

Enter science

Subsequent, Phil Maytubby offered scientific steerage as he has so typically in county and metropolis conferences. 

He stated that testing charges are far decrease than they have been months in the past, which can give an impression of case charges dropping greater than they really have. He stated that the Division’s sewage surveillance program exhibits that circumstances within the County are most likely larger than what our testing charges might present.

The Division has affirmation of a number of variants of the COIVD-19 virus in Oklahoma County, together with the UK and Brazilian variants, stated Maytubby.

Maytubby doesn’t assume the OCCHD is in a spot to really feel assured in lifting masks necessities.

District 2 Commissioner Brian Maughan said that he believed each County worker who needs it has been provided the vaccine. He stated folks in his division have been inspired to get their vaccination whereas on the clock working for the County.

District 1 Commissioner Carrie Blumert then beneficial that they permit the masks coverage to final till April 30, just like the Metropolis’s mandate. Calvey disagreed and instantly moved the merchandise.

The masks coverage, such because it was, was rescinded by a 2-1 vote with Blumert alone voting in opposition to.

No livestream

Whereas the agenda was posted for a gathering at 3:00 p.m. on Thursday, and that agenda stated that the assembly can be streamed on YouTube as typical, the assembly by no means appeared.

Free Press spoke to District 1 First Deputy Cody Compton on the topic.

Compton confirmed that the assembly had been held and lasted roughly 45 minutes. In accordance with Compton, after Govt Session the Board returned to open session to take motion on the objects mentioned privately. The Board voted to “proceed as mentioned” on each objects. That signifies that nothing mentioned will likely be delivered to public mild after for now.

Since that session is privileged, not one of the Commissioners are at liberty to disclose particulars of what was mentioned.

Jail dying Litigation

One of many matters mentioned in Govt Session by the BoCC Thursday is ongoing litigation concerning the dying of a Jail detainee in 2017.

In June of 2018 Mae Pendleton filed a civil go well with in opposition to the County naming Sheriff P.D. Taylor, Willa Johnson, Brian Maughan, and Ray Vaughn of their roles as Sheriff and County Commissioners in addition to of their particular person capacities.

Since taking their seats on the BoCC, Blumert and Calvey have every been added to the go well with.

In accordance with the petition, Mae Pendleton is suing on behalf of the property of her son Maurice Pendleton.

On or about July 18, 2017, Ms Pendleton claims, her son was locked into the basketball court docket which was getting used at that time as a “holding pen.” The petition claims that the basketball court docket was not supervised.

Maurice Pendleton was allegedly confronted by at the very least 4 males within the locked basketball court docket. 

The narrative claims that the lads stripped Pendleton bare, and kicked and beat him for an prolonged time whereas no detention officers have been current to answer the disaster. Employees ultimately arrived and located Pendleton alive. He was transferred to the hospital the place he died mere hours later of a traumatic mind damage.

The go well with claims that Jail workers acted illegally below the Sheriff’s supervision, and that the County Commissioners are legally responsible for the dearth of staffing and secure situations within the Jail. The BoCC’s authorized makes an attempt to be excluded from the go well with have all failed so far.

The case is within the Federal Court docket, not the District Court docket of Oklahoma County.

Free Press will proceed to cowl this case and different wrongful dying fits filed in opposition to the Jail, Sheriff, County Commissioners, and may the time come, the Legal Justice Authority (Jail Belief).

Terrorism Preparedness

The second merchandise for dialogue throughout Govt Session was listed as such:

“To enter into Govt Session pursuant to 25 O.S. 307 (B) (11) to debate evaluation of the vulnerability of the Oklahoma County Downtown Complicated to an act of terrorism and plans for deterrence or prevention of, or safety from, an act of terrorism.”

That part of Oklahoma Statute gives for dialogue of terrorism and plans for terrorism prevention.

Free speech infringements?

One can solely guess what this merchandise means. It raises questions on free speech actions on County grounds. Final 12 months, an merchandise was introduced earlier than the BoCC to curtail free speech actions on the campus of the Courthouse and Courthouse Annex.

On the time, elected officers obfuscated the supply of that merchandise. Sheriff Taylor, Court docket Clerk Rick Warren, Commissioner Calvey, County Auditor Larry Stein, and Decide Ray Elliott have been every blamed by varied group members and elected officers. None of these figures ever confirmed having requested the merchandise.

Free Press reached out by way of textual content to District 1 Commissioner Carrie Blumert to ask if these items have been associated. Blumert replied that this doesn’t have something to do with free speech actions on County property.

Free Press spoke to native activist and regulation pupil Jess Eddy by way of cellphone about this merchandise.

“Previous to final 12 months, authorities doing routine evaluations to make sure that they’re conserving the general public secure from acts of terrorism like we’ve seen in Oklahoma Metropolis traditionally, this wouldn’t be of a lot concern to me,” Eddy stated. 

“However, given what we’ve seen within the final 12 months concerning the fees below the constitutionally questionable Oklahoma Terrorism statute punishing political protestors, coupled with the Board’s assault on free speech on county property final 12 months, I’m deeply involved that that is one other try and erode the group’s first modification rights.”

“I’ve no proof that the merchandise for Thursday’s assembly is said, however the veil of secrecy is unsettling,” Eddy continued.

“No matter any penalties the State might conspire to use to us, we’ll proceed to talk freely to the fullest extent below the regulation,” Eddy declared.

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