Procedural modifications are required to increase the amount of time that both the Council and the public are given to review and fully vet lengthy contracts with broad-ranged and long-standing implications for the city. Recent examples include the 36 page contract with the non-profit Alliance for Economic Development and the 42 page contract which outlines a 25 year lease of the renovated Myriad Gardens with the non-profit Myriad Gardens Foundation.
In these cases, as well as many others, lengthy contracts are posted online and delivered to councilpersons on Friday evening. In almost all cases, this will be the first time that councilpersons and the public have seen the wording of the contract and yet, the vote is expected to occur some three days later with only the Monday before the Tuesday council meeting available as a workday.
I have introduced a resolution which will be heard on Tuesday May 31, 2011 that mandates three public hearings before any such contract can be voted on by the council. I believe that allowing the public and council to digest and discuss the specific wording and implications of the contract is required prior to any vote. An outline of municipal counselor Kenneth Jordan’s summary of the issues as well as how the three public hearing process would work is as follows:
THE CITY OF OKLAHOMA CITY
THE MUNICIPAL COUNSELOR
Item No. X.B.
TO: Mayor and City Council
FROM: Kenneth Jordan, Municipal Counselor
Joint Resolution with the Oklahoma City Municipal Facilities Authority and the Oklahoma City Public Property Authority establishing a three-public-hearings procedure for certain defined contracts and/or resolutions presented to the Council Members and/or Trustees; providing for waiver of the procedure by majority vote; directing the City Clerk to provide certain language on the City Council, Oklahoma City Municipal Facilities Authority, and Oklahoma City Public Property Authority agendas; and directing the City Manager/General Manager to provide certain advance notice to Council Members and/or Trustees before certain contracts or resolutions are presented to Council Members or Trustees for action.
Councilmen Shadid and White
Councilman Ed Shadid, Ward 2, requested that the Municipal Counselor’s Office draft a resolution establishing a procedure to provide City Council members with additional time to review certain proposed contracts and resolutions that are presented to Council. He also requested that the procedure provide for “advance notice” that City staff is working on such items. Since such contracts or resolutions can also be done by the Oklahoma City Municipal Facilities Authority (OCMFA) or the Oklahoma City Public Property Authority (OCPPA), and sometimes have been in the past, the policy, if adopted, should likely also include contracts and resolutions presented to the Council members in their roles as Trustees of the OCMFA and the OCPPA. The result of Councilman Shadid’s request is the attached Joint Resolution that would provide for a “three-public-hearings procedure” for such contracts and resolutions. This Joint Resolution is being listed on the agendas of the City, the OCMFA, and the OCPPA as being requested by both Councilmen/Trustees Shadid and White.
The following proposed contracts or resolutions are encompassed by the current language in the proposed Joint Resolution:
Category #1: Proposed contracts or resolutions to be voted on by the City Council and/or the Trustees of the OCMFA or the OCPPA for the lease, management, or redevelopment by a public or private entity of any real property owned in fee simple by the City or by any City-beneficiary public trust or of any City public park property, but only if such real property or public park property is located in or near downtown Oklahoma City or in an existing or proposed Oklahoma City Tax Increment Financing District; for the purposes of this subsection, the phrase “in or near downtown Oklahoma City” shall mean the area bounded by NE and NW 10th Street on the north, Lincoln Boulevard on the east, the Oklahoma River on the south, and Western Avenue on the west.
Category #2: Proposed contracts or resolutions involving both a private entity and the City or the OCMFA or OCPPA that are similar to the April 26, 2011, Agreement among The City of Oklahoma City, the Oklahoma City Economic Development Trust (EDT), and The Alliance for Economic Development of Oklahoma City, Inc., which contract delegated certain of the City’s administrative economic-development-related functions to a private entity.
Category #3: Proposed contracts or resolutions that involve policy decisions by the City Council in relation to the implementation of the MAPS 3 projects. This Category #3 shall not include public construction contracts as defined by the Oklahoma Public Competitive Bidding Act, 61 O.S. §101, et seq.
Category #4: Proposed contracts or resolutions that involve policy decisions by the City Council in relation to the implementation of the Core To Shore Master Plan. This Category shall not include public construction contracts as defined by the Oklahoma Public Competitive Bidding Act, 61 O.S. §101, et seq.
Category #5: Any other contract or resolution that a majority of City Council members and/or Trustees decide by majority vote, at the first public meeting such contract or resolution is presented to them, should be subjected to the three-public-hearings procedure set forth in this Resolution.
Note that the idea behind Category #5 is to provide a possible “catch-all” that will allow the City Council and/or the OCMFA and OCPPA Trustees to invoke the “three-public-hearings procedure” on a case-by-case basis for contracts or resolutions not encompassed by more specific Categories #1, #2, #3, or #4. This will allow the flexibility for Council members and/or the Trustees to use the procedure for other contracts or resolutions if desired by a majority vote of Council members and/or Trustees. This may also obviate
the need to amend the Joint Resolution to add other categories of contracts or resolutions that would be covered.
For contracts or resolutions falling into one of the five categories, the Joint Resolution would provide for the following three-public-hearings schedule:
• First Public Hearing. The contract or resolution will be read and staff will make a presentation advising the Council and/or the Trustees of the substance of the contract or resolution. Council members, Trustees, and/or members of the public can ask questions and make comments. Whenever the contract or resolution falls within Category #5, as described above, the first appearance of such contract or resolution on the agenda shall be considered to be the first public hearing thereon. No action shall be taken regarding approval or denial of the item.
• Second Public Hearing. Citizens will be allowed to address the Council and/or the Trustees to express comments or concerns regarding the proposed contract or resolution. Council and/or the Trustees can discuss the proposed contract or resolution and ask questions. No action shall be taken regarding approval or denial of the item.
• Final Hearing. Council and/or the Trustees may debate the proposed contract or resolution and take such action on said contract or resolution that a majority of the Council members and/or the Trustees deems appropriate. Members of the public may be allowed to ask questions or make comments. Council members and/or Trustees may make a final decision on the item.
• Continuances. The public hearings on proposed contracts or resolution may be continued at any time at the discretion of a majority of the Council members and/or Trustees.
If approved, the Joint Resolution would also provide that: