City Council executive sessions could go black

Okemah City Hall

It has been the practice of Okemah City Council to allow the video of executive sessions. This is monitored in city hall. The cameras at city hall monitor all rooms for security. Mayor Mike Fuller expressed concern about the confidentiality during executive sessions.

The council members were informed that it was not as easy as just putting in a switch at their meeting on October 11. They would have to look at the overall computer system and determine how to eliminate at a certain time the cameras in the council chambers.

While it is legal to record the executive sessions, there is no statute mandating the practice. The item will be placed on the next agenda.

In other business the council discussed declaring as surplus and selling four pieces of property. The property under discussion is Lot 7, Block 4, Eliza Harjo Addition; Lot 12, Block 5, Eliza Harjo Addition; Lots 13 and 19, Block 16, McDermott Addition; and Lot 3, Block 30, Okemah Proper.

Mayor Fuller made the motion to proceed in taking sealed bids and Vice Mayor Wayne Bacon seconded the motion.

Councilman Anthony Landers said the city has been warned about selling off too many assets. The city is spending money to keep the properties cleaned and mowed. The motion failed on a 1-4 vote with Bacon being the only council member to support the motion.

At the following meeting held on October 22, Eric York spoke to the council about the cameras in the council chambers. He stated that it would not be good for the life of the camera system if they powered it up and down continuously.

He said it would cause the cameras to fail at a faster rate. Currently, the City has two recorders. He suggested that the chambers be placed on the recorder in the police chief’s office and that a password be placed on it that only one designated person knows. He stated the cost to switch the system would be approximately $150.

Fuller stated that it seems like a good deal, that the council needed to be able to discuss matters in executive session without fear of it getting out of the session. He said he felt like a lot of information had left the room from a previous executive session. Fuller made the motion to accept York’s recommendation. After a long pause, Fuller said “surprising, motion fails for lack of a second.”

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