Brown defends city employee rights, defines public employees
• Alva City Council addresses medical marijuana changes
September 20, 2019
Although the meeting room was prepared for a large crowd, about 15 to 20 visitors attended Monday’s Alva City Council meeting. Last month, the order was changed so visitors could speak before the council voted on agenda items instead of waiting until the end of business. So after the consent agenda and reports, the floor was opened for citizen comments.
Scott Brown of Alva, a former city council member, presented a prepared statement addressing two things. “One is to remind you that you, the elected, and there are a total of 12 elected officials in the City of Alva, you are the only public employees the City of Alva has,” he said.
“All other people are employed by the City of Alva, and they are just that, employed by a public body. That does not make their employment a public matter. Yeah, they all in some manner perform a service role for the citizens, customers, of the city, and as with any business if you as a customer are dissatisfied with the service received, there are methods to tender your complaint, and a public agenda should not be that method.
“As for complaints about the actual public employee, the method comes in the form of a vote or a decision to file in open election against that individual.”
Continuing to his second topic, Brown said, “My next thing is, my hope is that I get to be one of the last people along with the folks here tonight to use this forum to discuss or question the decisions you have or need to make. I ask you to remove the item – remarks and inquiries by citizens – from the agenda going forward.
“I understand you want to provide an opportunity for input, and I believe people should be given an opportunity for a more meaningful voice by making that opportunity available on actionable items to be discussed. With just a little change in direction on the agenda, you can create a format for productive citizen input into actionable, meaningful agenda items.
“When it comes time to work, it will still be you, the elected, that are asked to do the work, and those that complain will still complain. But at least it will not be in an open forum on your business agenda.”
Medical Marijuana Comments, Ordinance Vote
Jewel LeDou of Alva commented on a variety of issues. “I do appreciate our city council,” she began. “I think you’re a great bunch of people, and I hope other people appreciate you.
“I’m proud of you for changing the ordinance for the medical marijuana. I don’t know if it’s going to help me or not, but I’m hoping. It might not cure my problem, but it may help it.”
LeDou drew some smile and laughs from the audience with her swimming pool comments, “Also, I do want to say that I don’t want us to lose a swimming pool. What child can learn to swim in a splash pad? None that I know of! And all of my kids, three, plus my grandkids and great grandkids have learned to swim in the Alva swimming pool. And you know what, that pool … I’m three years older than it is!
“Thank you, and I appreciate the asphalt on the streets.”
Also thanking the city council in advance for their expected favorable vote on the revised medical marijuana ordinance were Michelle DuPree and her mother-in-law Cindy DuPree. Shane Corbitt, who was earlier unable to open a medical marijuana retail business in Alva, thanked council members and city officials who listened to him and others. He said, “I promise you that I will do the best I can as a new business in town to provide a service to make sure we do everything right by the law, by the book to make sure we provide a good service.”
Immediately following the citizen comments section on the agenda, the city council addressed Ordinance No. 2019-003 amending their earlier action in Ordinance 2018-004 on medical marijuana.
The council’s ordinance committee recommended the changes removing the exception for residentially zoned districts and reducing the location exception from 1,000 feet to 300 feet for retail establishments, commercial growing facilities and wholesale facilities.
The 300 foot rule will apply to a library or museum; a public playground; a child care center; a place of worship or religious assembly; a public park, pool or recreation facility; a juvenile or adult halfway house, correctional facility or substance abuse rehabilitation or treatment center; and another medical marijuana or retail marijuana establishment.
The 1,000 foot restriction still applies to a private or public preschool, elementary, secondary, vocational or trade school, college or university.
The amendment completely removes the requirement for a permit or inspections of those licensed to grow marijuana for private use.
Chris Eckhardt made the motion to approve the new ordinance, and Brandon Sherman seconded. The ordinance passed unanimously.
Then Sherman made a motion to approve the emergency clause, seconded by Eckhardt, and approved unanimously by the council. This clause means the ordinance will go into effect once it is published as a legal notice.
Swimming Pool Task Force
One other person spoke during the citizen comments section of the agenda. Jacque Ruhl said she’d heard that the Tulsa water park cost them $1.5 million but had not yet verified that. She’d also heard it was one of the best in Oklahoma although she hadn’t been there. She said if that was a correct price, it might be worth contacting “whoever helped build their pool” to come to Alva and make a plan.
“I would also like to volunteer to join whoever is in charge of doing all that,” she said. She volunteered time and legwork and help in making contacts “so we can get the pool going. A splash pad, that would be amazing, but you know just whatever we can get.”
Mayor Kelly Parker later spoke to the council about forming a swimming pool task force because “we still have a lot of folks in the community who are interested in having a pool.”
“We would look to put in place five to seven people on that task force with, hopefully, diversity of opinion and ideas,” he said.
Parker told those present there were “intent to serve” forms in the podium at the meeting and more in the city office for those interested in being on the task force. “I would ask people who are interested in the pool task force to not only tell me why they are interested, but I want to know, as I make recommendations to the council on membership, what their vision is for the pool or aquatic facility or what have you as well as what their vision is for funding the project.”
If there is enough interest, Parker said he would then bring a list of potential task force members back to the council for approval.
Sherman made a motion to approve forming a swimming pool task force, seconded by Dr. Bo Hannaford, and passed unanimously by the council.