April 21, 2021
The Oklahoma Supreme Court unanimously upheld a previous court ruling that the Norman City Council violated the Open Meeting Act when they cut the Norman Police Department’s budget in June.
The Cleveland County District Court granted summary judgment in December in favor of the Fraternal Order of Police, the organization that brought the lawsuit against the City of Norman following the June 16 special meeting when the Council voted to cut $865,000 from the Police Department’s Fiscal Year 2021 budget.
The District Court judge said the notice for the meeting “was deceptively worded or materially obscured the stated purpose of the meeting and is therefore a willful violation” of the Open Meetings Act.
The Supreme Court upheld that ruling on Tuesday, April 13, saying in part, “The question before this Court is whether City of Norman, Defendant/Appellant, complied with the statutory notice requirements of the Open Meeting Act, 25 O.S.2011, §§ 301–314, for its June 16, 2020 special meeting. We answer in the negative.”
Robert Wasoski, president of the Norman FOP, issued the following statement about the Supreme Court’s ruling:
“Our members are dedicated to protecting the city every day, and our organization fights to ensure they have the necessary resources to do the job properly. We were shocked when some members of the City Council made it obvious they were so eager to cut public safety budgets they couldn’t even follow the rules. But every court which has reviewed this issue has been clear – politicians are not above the law.
We hope the police department appreciates the hard work the union has put in on its behalf. We look forward to the union, the department and the city creating solutions that benefit everyone in our community.”ROBERT WASOSKI, NORMAN FOP PRESIDENT
The June 16 special meeting was held three weeks after George Floyd was allegedly killed by police in Minneapolis, Minn. Floyd’s death sparked protests throughout the nation and across the globe, with protesters calling for police departments to be defunded and demilitarized.