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William Crum: The week in review, and the week ahead, in Oklahoma City civic affairs.
by William Crum Published: May 19, 2014

City proposes fix to outlaw urban chickens again

Once it became clear the Oklahoma City Council inadvertently changed the municipal code, allowing residents to keep chickens in urban neighborhoods, the question became whether the council will outlaw chickens once again. The council voted for a second time last week against chickens in the city, but it turned out a vote last Dec. 31 had lifted the restriction limiting chickens to mostly rural areas, on lots an acre or more in size. Ward 4 Councilman Pete White, who has consistently favored relaxing restrictions on keeping chickens, says he expects advocates of the idea “to make another run at it — and I’d be supportive of that.” City officials say they are working on getting the restriction restored; the planning commission will have to vote on it first, then the council. Ward 7 Councilman John Pettis said he expected the planning commission to consider the issue this week, and said he would like to see the ban on chickens reinstated. Efforts to open urban neighborhoods to chickens have been going on for the better part of a year, so this could take awhile.

They said it

“They seem to be pretty tenacious as people go.”

— Ward 4 Councilman Pete White, on advocates who have relentlessly testified before the city council in favor of letting city residents keep backyard chickens.

Land swap could save taxpayers millions

Oklahoma City is thinking about a land swap — the Santa Fe Station transit hub downtown for the old Union Station, which is to be the centerpiece of the MAPS 3 downtown park. As the thinking goes, a land swap could save the city from having to repay several million dollars that the federal government spent to renovate Union Station. As a condition of providing the money, the federal government required that Union Station continue to be used for transportation-related activities. Though trains quit stopping there years ago, the city’s transit agency has kept offices at Union Station, fulfilling the requirement. Park designers expect to remodel Union Station, though, for meetings, restaurants and shops. Losing the transportation connection would cost Oklahoma City money that it expects to spend on the park, which is one of the most expensive MAPS 3 projects. Swapping Santa Fe Station for Union Station would mean the Central Oklahoma Transportation and Parking Authority would assume ownership of Santa Fe Station. Oklahoma City would take ownership of Union Station from the transit agency.

It’s a fact

Portland Avenue between SW 74 and SW 104 streets is expected to be closed until about July 1. Detours are on May Avenue.

Embezzlement case prompts reforms

Oklahoma City is taking steps to tighten money-handling controls in response to an embezzlement case filed against a former city animal shelter supervisor. Court records say Robert Houston Jackson Jr. admitted to police he took about $1,500 in cash. A city auditor’s review produced five recommendations, including making deposits in a timely manner and installing locks to limit access to areas where cash in kept. The city says a total of $5,123 is missing. Spokeswoman Kristy Yager says Jackson has resigned. Jackson, 41, was charged Wednesday in Oklahoma County District Court with one count of embezzlement by a public employee, according to court records.

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by William Crum
OU and Norman High School graduate, formerly worked as a reporter and editor for the Associated Press, the Star Tribune in Minneapolis, and the Norman Transcript. Married, two children, lives in Norman.
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