Oklahoma City Council members approved an amended contract Tuesday with The Alliance for Economic Development, a nonprofit group organized to help broker deals requiring public funding.
The contract first was submitted to the council two weeks ago, and council members voiced concerns about the nonprofit board's lack of diversity and public transparency.
“I voiced a number of concerns about this at the meeting two weeks ago,” Councilman Pete White said. “Given the diversity we've added to the board, given the things we've insisted on ... I think this is an organization that we need to go forward with.”
The council will provide $424,000 in public funding this year for the group, which will be led by Assistant City Manager Cathy O'Connor.
The approved amendments keep confidential negotiations with companies and business plans, but require that reports to the city council itemizing how public funds are spent be made available to the public. The contract changes also emphasize that the nonprofit makes recommendations but is not a policymaking body. The nonprofit also agreed to add new board members with diverse business, geo
The contract was approved after about an hour of debate.
Councilman Ed Shadid worried that the board was moving too quickly and not giving the public time to review the agreement as the city headed into “unchartered territory.”
“My concern is primarily focused on ... the urgency with which we're moving and the implications for the open records and open meeting act,” he said. “The number of amendments, the number of changes that have been made in a very quick fashion here at the end really serve as an indictment of the process, that this was not fully vetted and raises some concerns.”
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