Three residents file petitions to vote on all homeless shelters | News

Three residents of Normandy have filed an initiative petition that would change the city’s charter to allow voters to bypass the city council and decide where homeless shelters should be located.

Former Ward 4 candidate Teresa Borum, local commercial property developer Sassan Moghadam and real estate agent Stephen Teel filed the petition on February 7, according to city records.

The petition reads, “The City of Norman cannot spend taxpayer dollars on homeless shelters without first putting the spending to a vote of the people.”

Borum has been candid about the issue, which she says has largely affected her neighborhood. Much of the city’s homeless resources, such as food and shelter, are located in Ward 4, including the temporary emergency shelter at 215 E. Comanche Street and Food & Shelter, Inc. at 201 Reed Ave.

The council asked staff to search for a possible permanent location for the city’s low-barrier shelter in empty buildings owned by the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. These properties are close to Griffin Memorial Hospital and Food & Shelter.

According to the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness, low-barrier shelters are designed to allow access for homeless people, regardless of criminal history, substance abuse, or sobriety.

The proposed general location is close to schools and social service agencies that serve children – too close for Borum’s approval.

“The homeless shelter will allow sex offenders, a number of whom are pedophiles, and violent offenders to stay overnight and then wander around a low-income neighborhood during the day,” Borum said. “Breea Clark and those city council members don’t care about kids walking to school every weekday or playing in their yard.”

A US Department of Justice study reported that sexual recidivism rates for those who commit a new sexual offense ranged from 5% after three years to 24% after 15 years. He also said recidivism rates for general crimes are higher than those for sex crimes, but recidivism rates are an underestimate of actual recidivism.

Borum said in a statement to the newspaper that she was also concerned about the possible increase in drug presence.

“This shelter will also have no restrictions or sobriety requirements,” she said. “Since drug dealers come to the homeless instead of homeless people going to the drug dealers, the mayor and city council don’t care about the increased potential for drug sales to our children.

“They don’t care that the best way to reduce the homeless population is to keep the kids safe and not using drugs.”

Teel circulated an initiative petition to require municipal candidates to disclose their partisan status on campaign materials, but was challenged in district court, the Transcript reported.

He said in a statement to the newspaper that he supported the petition as a citizen’s right.

“If a citizen feels that the city council is not addressing critical issues and is willing to go through the tedious process of making an initiative petition, I will always support them. Let the voters decide,” he said.

Moghadam said residents of Normandy made their voices heard on shelter when an August 2020 blanket bond package was voted down by voters to fund one, among several quality of life projects.

“In the past, residents of Normandy have voted for and against quality of life projects,” Moghadam said. “This petition will ensure that our council will not negatively impact their quality of life by locating a homeless shelter in their neighborhood. Let the people make that decision, not the council.

Mayor Breea Clark said it was staff who recommended the location of a shelter near existing services in Ward 4, not a member of council.

“I am confident that we can work together to address this. I hope those passionate about this issue can get all the facts together before spreading misinformation on a subject that matters a lot to Normandy residents. We are all looking for solutions and we all deserve the truth.

criminality

Borum said during his campaign that crime has increased in and around his neighborhood because services for homeless people attract crime.

The transcript reported the crime rate within a quarter-mile radius of Food & Shelter, Inc. — a city homeless service provider that is not low-barrier — from reports by police filed between January and October 2021. Only two drug offenses were reported in the region from January to October 2021, tied for the fewest such offenses in the last six years.

The region recorded one sexual assault or rape in this region during the 10 month period. A woman was also arrested in the area on suspicion of nudity and indecent exposure in October 2021, according to Normandy police spokeswoman Sarah Jensen.

The area recorded 606 police reports in total, compared to more than 1,000 for the year in 2018 and 2019. This is higher than the totals for 2016 and 2017, which were below 500.

Jensen noted that the Cleveland County Sheriff’s Office responds to a state-owned portion of the radius where the reports were taken.

More recently, the NDP arrested homeless person Isis McMullen on suspicion of shooting dead James Pennington, also homeless, and allegedly shooting Vernon Lewis, in the 300 block of East Comanche Street on January 20. McMullen was charged with first degree murder. in district court four days later.

Two years earlier, a homeless man, Davante Shontrell Hunter, pleaded guilty to first degree murder after shooting dead James Hawkins, 63, at Hawkins Pheasant Run Road flat in December 2019.

Ward 3 Kelly Lynn used McMullen in shooting Pennington and Lewis as an argument against a low-barrier shelter during a Feb. 15 study session on a Homebase strategic plan to tackle homelessness in the city . He was the only city councilor who opposed the plan at the meeting.

Ward 7 Stephen Holman argued at the meeting that it would be worse for Norman to face the consequences of doing nothing than to deal with the occasional crime.

As stated in the city charter, signature distributors will have 90 days, including weekends, from the filing date and must have the signatures of 25% of registered voters who voted in the last election. general.

Since the deadline for signing falls after the February 8, 2022 election, but the petition was filed the day before, it was unclear whether the number of voters would be counted from that election or of the 2019 election.

“Regarding signatures, Ms. Borum believes she has capped her signature count at 3,265 signatures needed – based on the results of the 2019 municipal elections – by filing her initial petition ahead of the 2022 elections on February 7,” said said city spokeswoman Tiffany Vrska. “Relevant municipal case law related to the determination of the last previous general election does not address this situation.”

Once filed, the petition could be subject to legal action, she said.

“The Legal Department believes it can be challenged regardless of the City Clerk’s decision on the sufficiency of the petition,” Vrska said. “The Legal Department will notify the City Clerk, if applicable, when signed petitions are returned.”

The petition contains the required legal notices such as a warning to persons who sign it fraudulently and an affidavit from the candidates for signature attesting to the validity of the signatures.

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