By Joey McWilliams
DURANT – Two new codes for the City of Durant were adopted last Tuesday at the August meeting of the Durant City Council.
The Patriot had a chance to visit with Tim Rundel, the city manager, about the codes in a previous article.
You can view the codes HERE.
But other opinions about the codes were expressed at the meeting by Councilwoman Oden Grube.
Among the thoughts, as she explained to the Patriot about the new city legislation, was that is was unnecessary.
“When I became a councilwoman, I raised my right hand to God in front of a judge and I took an oath to uphold the Constitution of our country, the constitution of Oklahoma and to conduct myself in a proper manner and to be honest,” Grube said. “And I signed that oath. And everyone who serves on any committee or board takes that same oath. I also serve on the Durant Industrial Board and I had to take that same oath again where I raised my right hand to God.
“I feel like everything we need to know is in our manual we get from the Oklahoma Municipal League. And this was copied and pasted from Belmont, Calif. and I feel like our way of doing things here and our way of thinking may be a little bit different.”
Grube said also she felt the City Council itself should have put together the document.
“The main reason I think that I was a little bit offended by this is that it’s not improper or illegal to have such a document, but that the council was supposed to come up with that code of ethics,” Grube said. “We did not. The city manager and the city attorney, with perhaps a small amount of input from the mayor, came up with this code of ethics.
“I felt like this should have been something that the council members should have met in special session and if we were going to do this and we wanted to do this, then we would have hammered it out and said, ‘OK. What do we want and how do we want it?’ And since it was a document that was supposed to have been done by the council, it should have not been done by subordinates, which the city manager and city attorney are subordinates, they’re like employees to the council.”
Grube took it a step further and said she felt some portions of the documents were directed at her.
“When I got elected, I felt like I represented all the people in Durant, including the guys that work at public works, the guys that work at emergency management, the guys that work everywhere, not just in city hall. So I went around and met everyone, and that was the first thing that got me in trouble.
“According to the law, the only thing I cannot do as a councilperson is to tell an employee how to do their job. And I certainly did not do that. I just wanted to meet them and to say, ‘Hey, I’m your new councilwoman. I care about you. If you have any concerns, I’ll be happy to listen.’ And that was my intent, because not only are these people workers, they are also citizens and constituents. And my goal was to raise morale among the people and so I thought if I go meet them and tell them there’s somebody in city hall that cares and represents them, then maybe it would make a difference.
“But instead of making a difference, it got me in trouble as well as some of the workers.”
Grube said she is an outspoken person and that she felt that as an elected official she is to represent the people.
“I want total transparency and openness,” Grube said. “I fought a lot to get the meetings live-streamed. Everything I’ve done – I guess I’m not exactly the mold of what a councilperson is supposed to be like. And I didn’t know that you were supposed to just sit there and say ‘Aye’ or ‘Nay’. I thought you were supposed to have a mind and help set policy.
“In a way, part of this may not be bad. And the paper itself may not be bad. I think it’s kind of silly that if you say something that offends someone that you have to apologize. Well, I may say something that offends them, but it wouldn’t offend me. So who’s to say how you offend someone.”
The councilwoman was the only dissenting vote in the adoption of the codes. They passed with a 4-1 margin. And she said the reason she voted that way was that she did not have input.
“It was not Durant’s code of ethics, it was Belmont, Calif.’s code of ethics. And that bothered me.
“In a nutshell, I felt like the council should be the group to put a code of ethics together and also that the city manager and city attorney should also have to abide by it.”