Plaintiffs in two lawsuits in opposition to the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority have referred to as for the resignation of two officers and plan to file a restraining order to cease the company’s Tuesday board assembly enterprise.
OTA introduced Feb. 22 it will assemble two new toll roads in Cleveland County, one alongside Indian Hills Highway and one other within the Lake Thunderbird Watershed.
District Court docket Choose Timothy Olsen dominated in December that the company violated the Open Assembly Act throughout that assembly as a result of it had no point out of these plans on the agenda regardless of contracts which have been then awarded.
Plaintiff Tassie Hirschfeld and one other plaintiff within the Pike Off OTA lawsuit, Amy Cerato, addressed a letter to Gov. Kevin Stitt calling for the resignation of Transportation Secretary and OTA Director Tim Gatz and the company’s Deputy Director, Joe Echelle.
“Your Secretary of Transportation and his OTA Deputy Director have demonstrated their lack of ability or unwillingness to observe the legislation and they need to get replaced,” the letter reads.
The letter, launched Monday, comes as OTA plans to reauthorize engineering and design contracts for its ACCESS plan, a statewide growth of the toll street system, the company’s Tuesday assembly agenda indicated.
Stan Ward, who represented the plaintiffs within the OMA lawsuit, mentioned he would file a brief restraining order “very first thing” Tuesday morning – hours earlier than the 1 p.m. OTA board assembly.
“We wish to take all actions to attempt to save our public funds,” Ward mentioned.
Ward’s co-counsel, Richard Labarthe, famous the timing of the assembly’s agenda gadgets.
“They filed this inside 48 hours of Choose Olsen’s closing ruling,” Labarthe mentioned.
Ward mentioned the decide’s closing order, referred to as a judgment order, clearly “invalidated all these contracts.” He estimated the contracts paid so far whole a minimum of $40 million.
Labarthe mentioned most of these payouts have been “incurred after they already nicely knew that there have been these two massive lawsuits.”
“They went forward and determined to hemorrhage all this cash anyway,” Labarthe mentioned. “So, they’re horrible stewards of the general public’s purse.”
In a letter dated Dec. 7, Ward demanded that OTA search a refund from all its contractors related to ACCESS on the request of his purchasers.
OTA has mentioned it was nonetheless contemplating its choices, on the time.
Hirschfeld mentioned in her letter Monday the timing clearly benefitted the company, not the individuals impacted by its plans.
“This precipitous motion is being taken in the course of the vacation season when many Oklahoma households are celebrating the season,” her letter learn. “Furthermore, it’s in keeping with how this complete ACCESS Oklahoma Program has been performed.”
Ward mentioned it got here as no shock.
“It doesn’t shock me,” he mentioned. “It’s a bit audacious, let’s put it that means.”
Hirschfeld instructed The Transcript she didn’t anticipate to listen to from Stitt’s workplace.
“He has not been prepared to have interaction any group stakeholders on this subject,” she mentioned. “I believe when he was making an attempt to disregard us whereas he was making an attempt to get reelected, he’s undoubtedly going to disregard after he’s been elected.”
A request for remark from the governor’s workplace, which was closed for the vacation, was not instantly returned.
OTA didn’t return a request for remark. Its assembly will probably be held at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday on the ODOT Fee Room at 200 NE twenty first St. in Oklahoma Metropolis.