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Oklahoma County Commissioners Rush Through Vote To Move $34M In CARES Act Funding To Jail Trust

The Board of Oklahoma County Commissioners meets on August 19, 2020.

In just more than one minute after the meeting began on Wednesday, two of Oklahoma County's three county commissioners voted to transfer more than $34 million in federal coronavirus relief funds to the county jail trust.

The vote followed days of protests against the move from local residents and Commissioner Carrie Blumert. Some, including the county’s treasurer, have questioned whether the transfer is legal.

The transfer was requested by the board's chair Commissioner Kevin Calvey. It authorizes the county’s jail trust to spend relief funds on building upgrades, staff salaries and benefits for the months of the pandemic.

Residents attending the meeting were furious the board approved the transfer without hearing public comment. Many residents wanted the county to use relief funds to help residents who have fallen on hard times during the pandemic.

The item passed by a vote of 2-0, with Calvey and Commissioner Brian Maughan voting in favor.

Minutes after the vote, the board adjourned.

"At this point given outbursts and things of that nature that are going on and to prevent further trauma to our staff and deputies I propose to adjourn this meeting," Calvey said.

"Are you kidding me?! You’re joking." Blumert responded.

Before and after the meeting, Blumert objected to making the transfer without listening to citizens' concerns.

Blumert arrived within 90 seconds after the meeting was called to order, but Calvey had already closed the vote. A representative who stood in for Blumert until her arrival complained Calvey declared the vote had passed before he had a chance to say 'yes' or 'no.'

Quinton Chandler worked at StateImpact Oklahoma from January 2018 to August 2021, focusing on criminal justice reporting.
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