With Virtual Meetings Provision Expired, Tulsa City Council to Hold Inauguration in Council Chambers

Nov 30, 2020

Credit Matt Trotter / KWGS

The Tulsa City Council convenes next Monday for its inauguration, where all nine councilors will be sworn in.

Afterward, the council will hold a special meeting to elect the chair and vice-chair. Despite the worsening pandemic, that will all happen in the city council chambers.

Councilor Lori Decter Wright said they don’t have much choice.

"For the folks at home who may criticize us for having an inauguration, we’re actually required by law to meet that day and swear in, and, unfortunately, because the virtual meeting provision has not been extended in the Open Meeting Act, we do have to assemble," Decter Wright said during a special meeting last week where the council discussed the inauguration.

The inauguration was originally to be held in the Cox Business Convention Center. Councilor Vanessa Hall-Harper, who is expected to be elected the council's next chair, said the inauguration will be broadcast from the council chambers and attendance limited.

"We look forward to our citizens being able to participate in that virtually, but attendance at the inauguration will be very limited, to the smallest number of people possible, including us and very close family," Hall-Harper said.

Neither state lawmakers nor Gov. Kevin Stitt have shown a willingness to call a special session in order to extend the virtual meeting provision, which they instituted early in the 2020 regular session while Oklahoma had just a handful of COVID-19 cases and few hospitalizations.

The state is now adding thousands of cases a day, and more than 1,500 were hospitalized at last count.