County Commission Votes In 47 Seconds To Transfer Millions In CARES Act Funds To Jail

Wednesday, August 19th 2020, 7:18 pm
By: Storme Jones

Oklahoma County Commissioners officially voted to move more than $34 million in federal COVID-19 relief funds to the county jail in a meeting Wednesday morning.

After days of contentious meetings, commissioners wasted no time with the vote.

Commissioner Kevin Calvey called the meeting to order at 9 a.m. Wednesday and skipping the tradition pledge of allegiance and prayer, 47 seconds later, declared the motion to have passed. 

"(The vote) was taken before I could even walk in the door," Commissioner Carrie Blumert said. "When things like this happen, it continues to show the public that they shouldn’t trust us. Why should the public trust us?"

The vote was officially recorded as 2-0 with Calvey and Commissioner Brian Maughan voting in favor.

"I started the meeting at nine when it was posted," Calvey told reporters. "It happened in ample time. It’s the usual way we vote."

Blumert said it's common courtesy to let commissioners get to their seats. She said the board has waited on her two counterparts many times. Not Wednesday.

"He wanted to push the vote through as quickly as possible," Blumert said.

While maintaining the vote was nothing out of the ordinary, Calvey said he moved the vote quickly out of concern for county employee's mental health.

"A number of our staff here at the county have been traumatized by the disruptions and things like that," Calvey said. "I'm hearing from a fair number of county employees on that. For them, our sheriff's deputies, we want to work expeditiously."

Blumert said no county employees have approached her about such mental health concerns.

"A lot of the people showing up to speak at our meetings have historically been disenfranchised and have not received the government resources that they deserve, but no, I have not had any employees come up to me and say they've been traumatized by this," she said. 

"I’ll say this, I don’t give into bullies and I don’t pay hush money to bullies, especially with taxpayer dollars," Calvey said. "So, I’m not gonna give those bullies the money they want."

There is no clear answer as to what the jail will use the $34 million in COVID-19 relief funds for. Combined with $6 million approved last week for hazard pay and HVAC and plumbing fixes, the detention center has received more than 85% of Oklahoma County COVID-19 funds.