Okla. Co. Jail Trust Accused Of Violating State's Open Meeting Act; Meeting Postponed After Technical Issues


Monday, April 19th 2021, 6:05 pm
By: Ashley Holden


OKLAHOMA CITY -

There are concerns that the Oklahoma County Jail Trust violated the state's Open Meeting Act.

Technical issues halted the group's virtual meeting Monday afternoon, but trust members told News 9 they were confused with the format change.

"We absolutely were in violation of the Open Meetings Act," said trustee Francie Ekwerekwu.

Just minutes before the meeting, Ekwerekwu was going to appear in-person, but she realized that wasn't an option.

"Every meeting has had an in-person option up until today," said Ekwerekwu. "I was the only person to be in-person at the last trust meeting."

People upset with the format joined the meeting and spoke out, but they could barely be heard. Other people were heard loud and clear. At one point, someone appeared to talk about a community member trying to speak.

"Shut up," said someone in the meeting.

The audio issues continued and activist Jess Eddy said other people and journalists were not virtually let in to the meeting.

Eddy said he continually told trust members they were in violation of the Open Meeting Act.

"There was no response. They continued on with their meeting agenda," said Eddy.

Eventually, they did stop and decided to postpone.

During the meeting, trust members appeared to be in offices within walking distance, and some were seen in the county courthouse.

Ekwerekwu said she realizes community members want to hear and see someone and have an outlet to express their concerns. She said Monday's meeting did not reflect the right optics for the trust.

"I think that speaks an obvious message that they don't want to hear or face the community," said Ekwerekwu. "They want to be in the comforts of other spaces."

The trustee also said communication between the trustees needs to improve. Meanwhile, Eddy said he thinks the trust needs a new chair.

News 9 was told format decisions are made by the trust chair, Tricia Everest, and their attorney.

Everest sent News 9 a statement and said the meeting was postponed when they found out there were issues, but she wouldn't do an interview.

The meeting will now be held at 3 p.m. Wednesday. News 9 was told there will be an in-person option.