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OKC Civic Life for Monday, March 16, 2020

Water shutoff policies may be adjusted

Oklahoma City is working on policy changes to help residential water customers retain water service throughout the coronavirus crisis. The Utilities Department reported cutoffs for nonpayment in 2019 affected an estimated 6.9% of the 211,000-customer base. Maintaining water service to facilitate hand-washing is seen as critical to slowing the spread of coronavirus.

Worth noting: A bill must total $90 or more including past due balances for the shut-off process to begin, and that can take 30 to 90 days. The city has programs such as bill averaging to assist families that fall behind.

5G towers oversight hearing set

The Oklahoma City Council plans a public hearing Tuesday on a measure that would limit public input on siting decisions of "small cell" 5G towers for cellular phone and data companies. Oversight would shift from the council to the non-elected Board of Adjustment and more towers could be administratively approved. Residents speaking at the March 3 council meeting warned of what they described as cancer-causing radiation dangers from the closely spaced towers, which they said threaten property values.

Of note: Ward 7 Councilwoman Nikki Nice is proposing the changes.

Councilmen plan trips

Two councilmen are seeking authorization Tuesday to attend out-of-town seminars:

• Ward 5 Councilman David Greenwell plans to attend a week-long executive education program, "Leading Successful Programs: Using Evidence to Assess Effectiveness," at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government. Greenwell, an accounting executive, opposed MAPS 4 last fall, saying he was dissatisfied with social service agencies' answers about how they would measure effectiveness of programs benefiting from the 1-cent MAPS 4 sales tax. The seminar is April 26 through May 1.

Of note: Greenwell says he will pay his own travel expenses and half the $9,400 tuition.

• Ward 8 Councilman Mark Stonecipher, an attorney, plans to attend the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber 2020 D.C. Visit, April 29-30, in Washington, D.C. He is requesting reimbursement of expenses, estimated at $1,842, for the trip. The Chamber is the city's leading business organization.

By late Friday, the city of Oklahoma City had not announced a prohibition on nonessential travel in response to coronavirus, as some governmental organizations have done.

Facts and figures

$59,049.38: Oklahoma City's share of the March 3 election cost. A citizens' initiative to boost OKC parks' funding failed after secret donors unleashed an anti-tax media blitz.

• The city council plans a public hearing Tuesday on a proposed $130 fine, plus costs and fees, for blocking the streetcar tracks when parking downtown. Embark transit also wants authority to tow cars without calling police, to reduce delays. The Oklahoma House has passed that bill and sent it to the Senate.

• The council will consider a measure outlawing the feeding of feral animals and wildlife in city parks and lake reservations, and within the North Canadian River Corridor Recreation Area, a move that could affect feral cat populations.

• The Oklahoma City Zoo is closed until at least next Monday due to coronavirus concerns. Spring break camps and the Nature Explorers preschool program are canceled.

Quote of the week

"We need to get there together and we will."

— Mayor David Holt, remarking on concerns about coronavirus after tests disclosed two NBA players in town for a game against the Thunder had tested positive. Holt stressed individuals' responsibility to avoid close contact and intensify good hygiene practices such as hand-washing. "Control what you can control," he said.

Tweet of the week

"Coronavirus in Oklahoma: Canterbury Voices' world-premiere performance to mark OKC bombing 25th anniversary delayed to summer."

— @theoklahoman, follow developments in The Oklahoman and at oklahoman.com.

Present/absent

Mayor David Holt and the eight city council members attended the March 3 meeting.

Calendar

The Oklahoma City Council meets at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday at City Hall, 200 N Walker Ave.

Nonprofit to honor mayor

Upward Transitions will give its first Inspiring Hope award to Mayor David Holt. The nearly century-old nonprofit organization cited Holt's "spirit of unity, commitment to improving quality of life and ongoing effort for economic growth." The award will be presented May 15 at Upward Transitions' annual fundraising event. Learn more: upwardtransitions.org.

Staff writer William Crum Twitter: @williamcrum wcrum@oklahoman.com

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. Read more ›

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