McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

August 13, 2013

Split McAlester City Council tables decision to authorize legal action against MPower Economic Development

By James Beaty
Senior Editor

McALESTER — McAlester city councilors split their votes on an amended motion by Ward 6 Councilor Sam Mason Tuesday night regarding the MPower Economic Development Corp.

The vote that had the effect of putting off for two weeks a decision on whether to authorize City Attorney Joe Ervin to file district court action if necessary to secure the city’s access to documents and records from MPower.

City councilors took the action during the council’s regular Tuesday night meeting in the council chambers at City Hall.

Ward 3 Councilor Travis Read had presented the original motion, which would have authorized the city attorney to file any and all necessary district court actions “to secure access to documents and records of MPower Economic Development and to protect the interest of the city of McAlester in relation to its expired/terminated contract with MPower Economic Development Corp.”

Read strongly contended that the council vote in support of his measure and that it would be in the city’s best interests to do so.

City Attorney Ervin told the council that he had been in discussion with MPower’s attorney and with MPower Board member Steve Woodham.

Ervin said he had been allowed access to some of the MPower records, but that he had been denied permission to copy financial records

Read maintained it’s ridiculous that what’s left of the MPower organization is picking and choosing which records to let the city have.

Mason maintained that as long as the city had access, he believed MPower was meeting its contractual obligations.

He presented an amendment to Read’s original motion, with the effect of tabling the matter for two weeks to see if Ervin could make more progress in his negotiations.

Joining Mason in support of his measure were Ward 4 Councilor Robert Karr, Ward 5 Councilor Buddy Garvin and Mayor Steve Harrison.

Voting “no” against Mason’s amended motion to table the item were Read, along with Ward 1 Councilor Weldon Smith and Ward 2 Councilor John Titsworth.

MPower Economic Development is the organization that was primarily financed through city of McAlester tax dollars to foster economic development in the city and to work on business retention.

In June the MPower board sent the city a letter saying the organization did not want to be considered for a contract renewal with the city for the fiscal year which began in July.

Contact James Beaty at jbeaty@mcalesternews.com.

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