The Durant City Council met Tuesday evening in special session called by Durant Mayor Jerry Tomlinson.
A resolution 2017-22A was brought to a vote and approved by a majority of the council.
The resolution: Durant City Council disapproving and censuring certain actions of Council member Oden Grube.
The Durant City Council chambers was at full capacity with citizens standing in back and out the door.
Before being elected to the Durant City Council, Grube created a Facebook group for citizens to air their concerns about city government.
She used the acronym CRAMM, Concerned Residents Against Misappropriation and Mismanagement as the name of that group.
Facebook members have to request to join the closed group, and be approved to be a member to see its content.
She originally had to approve all members that joined her group.
Grube has since given the administrator duties over to her son Jimmy Grube though it’s connected to her personal Facebook profile page.
That group, according to council officials, is causing concern because of alleged slanderous comments made in the closed group.
Durant Mayor Jerry Tomlinson in opening remarks, submitted an “Attachment A” to the meeting’s agenda.
That document from the Love Law Firm of Oklahoma City, was an “Inquiry into the allegations of the existence of a hostile work environment.”
The exhibit, a ten-page document, outlined the situation they believe exists with regard to that hostile work environment. The council was due to vote on whether they would accept that into formal city business and the minutes of this meeting.
It was hard to hear Durant Mayor Tomlinson because of the remarks being made by citizens in the chambers.
An outburst just minutes into the meeting caused Mayor Tomlinson to hit the gavel to maintain the sanctity of the meeting.
Durant City Attorney Thomas Marcum was reading a statement about a hostile work environment for city employees. Marcum said that the issue came to light last summer when, “not one, not two but ten city employees had expressed displeasure over council member Grube and the way she treated city employees and the way her actions were affecting employees in their work environment.”
He continued that the city management was concerned about claims from those employees being “eminent.”
Those potential claims against the city for hostile work environment were forwarded to the city’s insurance carrier, Oklahoma Municipal Assurance Group, who carries the city’s liability.
The insurer sent an attorney investigator who Marcum said spoke with “at least ten employees of the city.”
Marcum said the attorney said she had not seen in her 40 years, “worse actions or egregious acts committed by a city official.”
When Marcum was telling about her interviewing employees who were “brought to tears over the hostile work environment,” a citizen made a comment that brought the entire chamber to an outburst of laughter at his comment.
Mayor Tomlinson immediately seized control of the room and said, “I won’t have that. I’ll ask that you be removed before we continue, if you’re going to do that. This is a serious matter.”
Marcum continued that the investigator was neutral and not attached to the city. He continued that it’s the city’s insurance and “they do have some skin in the game.”
He said it is important to note that “not just a portion of the employees had problems, but each and every one. That’s where the censure resolution comes from. This procedure has a lengthy history in our country. It’s not used often. It’s used when the majority of a legislative body takes issue with, not the policy direction of a member, but with the actions of a member and how it affects that legislative body and their perception. It’s not taken lightly by this council.”
He then wanted to differentiate the difference between censor and censure and clarify for citizens the meaning, since the words could be easily confused.
Marcum said “It’s not meant to censor the council person to not promote her position. It’s meant to show displeasure with the methods by which she conducts herself.”
Marcum continued, “The potential claims made by these citizens were substantial enough that they made some findings. The insurer made recommendations to the city. It’s based on those claims that the censure resolution came about.”
Mayor Tomlinson took the floor at the end of Marcum’s statement. Tomlinson said, “We have to be particularly mindful that it’s clear to the council, the potential liability that hangs over the city and that’s a portion of what we are trying to address here. The city is liable by not taking any action.”
The thought is that if the insurance company has to pay legitimate claims, brought on by city employees, that affects that company.
Marcum stated that the document was part of attorney client privilege and thus non public.
But by entering the document at a council meeting, it would become public for citizens and anyone not under that privacy protected privilege.
The Mayor then asked if there were questions and called for a “motion and a second,” concerning the document.
It was immediately after this statement that council member Grube asked, “I’d like to say something.”
She said, “First of all, I’d like to say I hold no animosity toward any of my fellow council members. I think they are going to make the decision on the information they were given, which by the way, I was not interviewed in this investigation. I didn’t know anything about it until I was told. There are ten unnamed women here, I don’t know who they are, that I’m supposed to have scared to death, I guess.”
She said she has no animosity and she should have had the right to be interviewed.
Grube continued,” With that being said, I want to make this short.”
She then read a document she had prepared, not knowing what the facts that were going to be presented against her.
She talked about freedom of speech and its principals. She then listed three things, according to Oklahoma law, that a council member cannot do.
Grube said, “I am not guilty of violating any of the restrictions put on me as a council member under Oklahoma law.”
She then spoke about the allegations against her and if in a court of law, the citizens could see that information, they could make decisions about them.
She said, “They could see who, what, when and where. I am just the latest voice that the city is trying to silence, standing behind city employees who have been demoted or lost their job.”
She said her fellow city council members have “sat beside me and remained silent. I refuse to do so. The Council and City Manager have fought me since I decided to run for City Council. I have never been given a chance. I believe in transparency and keeping the citizens informed and that includes the right to make public information public.
She said it also include the right to question how city money is spent and accountability and that she has fought hard to do that.
Grube said, “The council can vote to censor me on false and scurrilous allegations, there’s nothing I can do about it. City Attorney Marcum told me and my attorney that I was ambushed in a September 12 Executive Session and I survived that, and I will survive this also.”
Grube then quoted the familiar “Let he who is without sin, cast the first stone.” She said she will not stop fighting for citizens and questioning city government. She told citizens how she will continue to be on their side.
Grube then made her most emotional statement as she addressed the council and citizens attending the meeting. She said, “I will never, ever resign. Thank you.”
She later said after the meeting when interviewed, “I think they had a bet that they could intimidate me into resigning in my first three months on the council. I will not resign.”
The council voted after a motion and approved the attachment into public domain and the minutes of the meeting.
A follow-up story will include additional comments by Mayor Tomlinson and Council Member Grube made after the meeting each in an interview with television and with The Durant Daily Democrat.
One citizen, longtime Durant resident Roy Badger said at the end of the meeting, “Oden Grube is the Donald Trump of Durant. The city is 35 million in debt and Oden didn’t have anything to do with it.”
Badger also said he has a friend who might offer a $100 reward for, “anyone who could drive 2 blocks and not hit a pothole.”
Contact Dan Pennington at (580) 634-2162 or firstname.lastname@example.org