SIMUNEK “I’M GOING TO THE NEW YORK TIMES”
During Wednesday night’s special meeting’ Trustee Richard Simunek started addressing the board with, “I’m giving 30 days’ notice”. Simunek is wanting to change Hennessey’s town government. Simunek stated several topics that “Made me very angry”. The first was the fact that no one on the board could tell him what color the building was that the town purchased several years ago. This topic has been brought up at least 10 times by Simunek and every time he was told that the buildings were steel frames, not complete buildings. They have no sheet metal on them therefore, no color.
The next item was when a Trustee seat went vacant last year, Mayor Bert Gritz wanted to appoint someone to the vacancy. Simunek was very upset that Gritz could just appoint a “good-ol’-boy”, and wanted a public vote. It turns out that, “Good ol’ Boy” was Hennessey native, Joanna Goff, an administrator and registered nurse at St Mary’s Regional Medical Center. That vote led to David Jones being elected.
Simunek said, “I want Hennessey to run like Kingfisher City Council. They are very professional and they’re masters at going after grants and running a town. I want to expand the town council from 5 to 7 members. When you have 5 members you’re too easy to form a click and 3 people running everything, when you have a 7-member town council, it’s going to be harder to get 4 people together to form a click. I want the mayor to be elected to office by a vote of Hennessey citizens similar to Kingfisher.” Town Administrator Tiffany Tillman said, “You can’t do that. You would have to change the form of government.” Simunek responded with, “If that’s what’s necessary, contact the Hennessey attorney to tell us what to do.”
Simunek went on saying, “Hennessey has not been doing any long-term planning and has not been going for any grants or establishing legacy programs.” (Note) Hennessey held a day-long planning session on February 5th of this year. The town of Hennessey has received over $700,000 in grants in the past 3 years. The town, by law, cannot operate and advertise a legacy program.
Simunek finished with, “I’ve had a belly full. I’ve tried to make changes. I’ve had enough and if it doesn’t change, I’m going public. I’m going to the Daily Oklahoma. I’ll go to The New York Times!”
Prepared by Richard Simunek, Special Town Council Meeting, June 15, 2022
The great historical decades-long mistake of the Hennessey Town Council was not pursuing grants and establishing a Legacy Giving Program. There has been an open hostility to new ideas and attending educational programs especially designed to help towns and cities. This open hostility to change and the refusal to attend OML and NODA classes has caused the people of Hennessey to lose not thousands and thousands of dollars but millions. As a result, needed infrastructure improvements to streets, water systems, and sewage systems have not been made.
- The mayor is to be elected to office by a vote of Hennessey citizens similar to Kingfisher.
- The Major may serve one four-year term and is then not eligible for re-election as Mayor for the next eight years. Mayors finishing their four- year term may run for election to the Town Council.
- A filing procedure for Hennessey citizens wishing to run for the Town Council or Mayor’s office be established as suggested by the Hennessey attorney. This information will be posted on the Hennessey town website.
- Dates of expiring terms of all Town Council members and the Mayor will be posted on the Town web site. This will encourage people to start thinking of serving on the board in the future.
- The Town Council will be expanded from five members to seven members similar to Kingfisher. A five member Town Council is too susceptible to being packed by a clique of three. It will be much more difficult for a clique of four to develop with a seven member Town Council.
- In the event that no Hennessey citizen files for a Town Board vacancy due to an existing Town Council member not able to finish their term, the name of the person or persons nominated to fill the vacancy must be announced publicly before the Town Council adjourns into executive session. Existing Town Council members may ask any question of the nominated person in an open session before the Town Council adjourns to Executive Session.
- If two or more Hennessey citizens file for an unexpected vacancy due to an existing Town Council member not able to finish their term, a special election will be held so that Hennessey citizens may vote on their new Town Council replacement.
- All non-emergency special town council meetings must allow for a 10 business day notice to Hennessey citizens and must be extensively and repeatedly advertised. Special meetings for infrastructure such as streets, water system, sewer system, police, fire department and town employees are exempt from the 10 business day requirement.
- The topic “Community Development, Long Range Planning, and Grants” will always be at the top of the listed Town Agenda. At the end of each fiscal year, the Town Council will provide the citizens of Hennessey a list of grants applied for and received. I want to especially thank again Town Administrator Tiffany Tillman who has secured $700,000 in grants in the last three years. This is a truly remarkable record of success!