The Former Mayor of Luther called for the resignation of the current mayor at Thursday night’s Special Town Board Meeting. Lea Ann Jackson asked for Mayor Cecilia Taft to resign after Taft admitted calling Jackson’s employer in response to Jackson’s request for information about the meeting.
It was the first meeting Jackson attended since resigning from the board in June.
Jackson reported that someone representing the Town of Luther called her employer Thursday morning asking to speak to her supervisor. It was just minutes after Jackson emailed an Open Records Request from her work email to the Deputy Town Clerk asking for documents pertaining to Thursday night’s meeting.
Current Mayor Cecilia Taft said, “It was me,” who called the Oklahoma Bankers Association. But she claimed that she was inquiring about “what specific thing” the OBA wanted from the Town since she noted that the email came from an OBA email address.
Jackson, a long-time executive with the OBA, said she does not think Taft’s claim is supported.
“I consider it to be tortious interference with my employment contract. I think that would entitle me to legal action. We have a lot of attorneys here and they could say whether it would be appropriate for someone from the Town to call my employer simply because I was making an Open Records Request,” she said in the meeting.
Jackson provided The Luther Register with a copy of the email.
From: Lea Ann Jackson <[email protected]>
Date: September 1, 2016 at 9:27:41 AM CDT
To: “[email protected]” <[email protected]>
Subject: Open Records RequestI wanted to request some items in reference to tonight’s meeting: Any bids for the air conditioning unit that will be considered; any proposal(s) for new attorney; minutes of meeting where it was agreed to solicit proposals (if two members discussed this outside of a meeting then it is a violation of the Open Meetings Act); documentation where this agenda was reviewed by legal counsel to ensure it isn’t in violation of any statutes or regulations.Which building is the air conditioner for?
Thanks for everything!
Lea Ann Jackson, CPA, CAE
Chief Operations Officer and
Chief Financial Officer
Oklahoma Bankers Association
643 NE 41st
Oklahoma City, OK 73105
WE MAKE BANKERS BETTER!
“I did. I called the Oklahoma Bankers Association. I did call and ask them that if it was something specific that they needed,” said Taft.
“You called my employer. That was not your position to do representing The Town … you simply respond to the request,” said Jackson.
Jackson said she would pursue legal action if Taft did not resign as mayor within 24 hours.
“I won’t resign in the next 24 hours,” said Mayor Taft.
After the meeting, when asked whether Jackson intends to pursue a legal remedy against the Town, she said she did not want to cost the Town money.
“However, I want the Town to know you can not bully people,” she said.
The Special Meeting was called to dismiss the current Town attorney, hire a new attorney, extend the School Zone times to match Luther Public Schools’ new daily schedule, and approve bids to replace a broken air conditioner at Town Hall.
- Current town attorney Bryan Drummond, hired in December 2015 was dismissed, citing cost and distance. Drummond’s main office is in Tulsa. New Town Board Member Andy McDaniels, an advocate for legal representation at each meeting, said Drummond was a “good guy” and a great attorney but his cost was “ridiculous,” and Board Member Birlene Langley said, “from the beginning I have said that Drummond was too expensive.”
- Three attorneys each spoke to the Board about their desire to serve as the Town attorney. Ultimately, Ray Vincent was hired. He has served as the Luther Town Attorney before. HIs one paragraph proposal said, “I would be willing to work on a retainer of $600 a month. That would include attending the Board meeting, drafting ordinances and this would include telephone calls and emails from Town officials. I would charge an hourly rate of $125 for other matters.” Vincent serves as the Town Judge for Harrah.
- The Board voted to extend School Zone hours from 7:30 am – 4:30 pm to accommodate the new Luther Public Schools’ extended day that begins September 6.
- The Board voted to hire Prudhome to install a new three-ton air conditioner for Town Hall for a cost of nearly $6,900 with a ten year warranty. The back half of the building, where the meetings and Town Court are held, have been without air conditioning for most of the month.
- Concerns about nepotism led the Board to not consider a bid from the spouse of a Town employee that was nearly $1,000 less than the next highest bid.
“This is an example of the why the people are upset, because they feel like the board is doing favors for friends and family,” said Jackson.
She also said she has spoken with the District Attorney and State Auditor about the call Taft made to her employer and her concerns about Open Meetings Act violations.
The Oklahoma County District Attorney is already investigating one board member. Ron Henry, who did not attend the meeting, was charged with felony counts a week ago that involve alleged voter fraud from Henry’s April 2015 election. Mayor Taft is cited in that investigation as admitting to notarizing absentee ballots of Henry’s family members without the voters being in her presence, a violation of her duty as a notary.
The meeting was broadcast on Periscope and can be viewed here.