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Oklahoma City councilman threatens lawsuit against City Hall

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OKLAHOMA CITY - A long-time Oklahoma City councilman says he is sick of the "back room" deals allegedly happening at City Hall.

Dr. Ed Shadid wants state officials to look into his claims. He says he's even thinking about filing a lawsuit against OKC to make City Hall more transparent.

At their regular Tuesday meeting, the Oklahoma City Council put in motion a plan to sell the downtown Santa Fe parking garage to a private business. That vote was a tipping point for Dr. Shadid.

"I think Dr. Shadid is like so many people in Oklahoma right now, that is, they have reached their tipping point about government doing things behind our backs and us not being aware of it," said attorney Cameron Spradling.

Dr. Shadid and his attorney released a three-page statement on Tuesday. In it, Dr. Shadid claims the big financial decision was actually made, like so many others, behind closed doors, violating the spirit of the Open Meeting Act.

"The way it's gone on for the last couple of years, if any time there is any type of expenditures that need to be approved by the Oklahoma City Council, what is happening is there are meetings of just one less than a quorum, so that it doesn't violate the rule of the Open Meeting Act," said Spradling. "So there's meetings that take place with four members here, or four members here, until a consensus is reached, then an agenda is dropped on Friday for a vote on Tuesday and the fix is in."

Dr. Shadid says the public doesn't have enough time to think about and voice their concern before items are voted on Tuesdays at City Hall.

He wants the Attorney General and the District Attorney's offices to look into his allegations.

"That isn't the way government is supposed to work. The grown-ups are handling this for us and they know what is best for us," said Spradling.

Dr. Shadid specifically names Alliance for Economic Development Director Cathy O'Connor and City Manager Jim Couch in his statement, alleging they are behind the meetings.

News 4 contacted Couch's office and they sent this statement saying, "Councilman Shadid has inquired about this in the past and the municipal counselor's office advised him the small group meetings are legal."

Mayor David Holt was aware of Shadid's allegations Tuesday in the City Council meeting saying to the City Manager, "You initially went to the media a week before the meeting rather than just have this on Friday's agenda so that there could be even more public discussion about these issues than was necessarily required by law."

Dr. Shadid's attorney maintains that his client is trying to maintain the will of the people.

"How do we know these decisions aren't being made to line someone's pocket or to put someone in a position of greater authority. He is just trying to do what's right and that's all that we should be doing, that's all that we should expect from our elected officials," said Spradling.

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