Clarification on Lt. Feazel’s arbitration settlement
In the original article, the article stated that Feazel and his legal team won the arbitration. City Attorney Catherine Coke, said that the Grievance Arbitration Hearing, held Friday, Feb. 3, was settled. She explained, “Technically the Feazel Grievance Arbitration was settled, and not won by either party”. Originally Feazel was to have a five-day suspension without pay. Coke said the conditions of the settlement, under the Open Records Act, Section 24A.7. (B)(4), “the final disciplinary action on Adam Feazel was a two-day suspension without pay for violation of City Policy.”
Further comments and clarifications regarding the second invoice and its funding
Regarding the second invoice, that actually ended up being for legal representation by Margaret McMorrow Love, in the Dan Scott case, Council member Jack Smiley gave the following comment.
“There were no funds available in the appropriate budget line item, so money was transferred from the council contingency fund. Normally, funds are transferred before service or goods are contracted. This was not just a normal everyday purchase. Four people were aware of the receipt of the invoice, the issuing of the purchase order after the invoice was received, and the transfer of council contingency funds without as much as an email to council. I believe all four people that handled this out of the ordinary transaction were at that council meeting and none of them could remember what it was for. This is very frustrating for me.”
There has been some concern regarding two recent invoices approved by the Altus City Council.
In the Tuesday, Dec. 6 City Council meeting executive session, the council, minus absent members Rick Henry, Scot Simco and Jack Smiley, discussed authorizing the retention of attorney Margaret McMorrow Love. This was for a discipline grievance FOP arbitration for Altus Police Lt. Adam Feazel (see sidebar.) In open session, the council approved, five to zero, to hire Margaret Love “to assist the City Attorney in this grievance arbitration,” (City Council Agenda).
About the same time, or shortly after, an investigation began regarding City Electrical Superintendent Dan Scott. Scott was put on administrative leave with pay during February through July 21, when he was reinstated by the City Council. During the investigation and legal procedures regarding Scott, Margaret McMorrow Love was also used to represent the City.
During the April 17 City Council meeting, Council member Chad Osborne brought two items from the Consent Agenda to the Council’s attention. He asked these two items, 8230 and 8232, be excluded from the Consent Agenda to be discussed. They were invoices issued for “legal services rendered” by Margaret McMorrow Love, for $632.90 and $2,160.73.
City Attorney, Catherine Coke was asked what these invoices paid. She did not have the invoices in front of her at the time. Coke replied at the time that they were for an “FOP grievance”.
Following Coke’s statement about the invoices, Osborne and the rest of the council members (Jack Smiley was absent) voted to approve those excluded items.
The next day, Osborne went to City Hall and asked to see the invoices. “All I wanted was clarification of what we were funding, and I didn’t get that,” said Osborne. Instead, Osborne said that he found that the invoices they had approved were to pay Margaret McMorrow Love for part of her work in the Dan Scott case.
Coke later said she was mistaken about the invoices (see sidebar) in an interview with the Altus Times this week. In reviewing the documents after the April 17 meeting, Coke said that she saw the invoices were for the Dan Scott case. Her own notes taken in her City Council agenda book for that date state “FOP grievance”. Altus Times notes taken at the meeting show Coke’s answer was “FOP arbitration”.
To add to the confusion of what the invoices were actually for, Feazel had also had a Worker’s Compensation case a couple of years before. Somehow in the miscommunication regarding the FOP arbitration, it remains to be discovered exactly how, that the Workers Comp case and the arbitration case became confused. Community members discussing the matter on a local website discussion told the Altus Times that they thought that funds reserved to pay former Workers Comp cases were possibly being used by the City to pay legal services in the Dan Scott case.
The Worker’s Comp fund is separate, being supervised by the Human Resources Department, according to Coke. Line items for Workers Comp are listed in Department 02. Law line items, such as those invoices to pay Margaret McMorrow Love are paid out of Department 04 and are listed as such in the Summary Descriptions for Council members. These summaries are distributed before each Council meeting.