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Recall petition filed against Vernon Woods

By Roger Pugh and Matt Montgomery
publisher@piedmontnewsonline.com

A recall petition was filed Tuesday morning with the Piedmont City Clerk to recall Ward Two City Councilman Vernon Woods.

The petition asks that Woods, who is in his second term as Ward 2 councilman, be recalled from his office and a successor be elected to fill his seat. The document maintains that Woods “has demonstrated an unwillingness to listen to his electors.”

“In this way, Councilman Woods does not accurately represent the opinions of the electors of his Ward,” the petition states.

To begin the recall process, the City Charter requires at least 25 registered voters in Ward 2 to sign the petition.

The petition submitted Tuesday contained 42 signatures. However, five signatures were crossed through.

City Clerk Jennifer Smith now has five days to validate the signatures and officially notify Woods of the petition. Woods will then have 10 days to respond.

If 25 signatures are validated, and the petition is also validated, those calling for the recall will then have 30 days to gather enough signatures of registered voters equal to 30 percent of the votes cast in the Ward in the last Gubernatorial election.

If the recall effort is successful, the city council will then have to call for a new election for the Ward 2 seat to fill the remainder of Woods’ term.

City Councilman Wade Johnson was ousted in a recall effort last year.

Pam Suttles, who is active in a group opposing the construction of the large wind turbines being proposed to be built near Piedmont, helped spearhead the Woods recall effort.

She said she and other concerned citizens are upset because they believe Woods is working with Apex, the Virginia based company, which wants to erect some 120 large wind turbines between Piedmont and Okarche in a project known as the Kingfisher Wind Farm Project.

“Vernon had told me a couple of weeks ago that he was negotiating with Apex to put turbines back in the city limits,” she said. “They would all be in his ward.”

Suttles said she confirmed with Apex Development Director Kent Dougherty that Apex was in negotiations with Woods to put the turbines back in the City of Piedmont limits.

Piedmont resident and Woods’ next door neighbor Trent Cornman told The Gazette Tuesday that Woods hasn’t spoken to him or his neighbors about this situation.

“He never did call, come over, ask me or anybody else in our ward what we thought about wind turbines,” Cornman said. “He already knows what we think but he never came by before he started doing this behind our backs.”
“They hired me, they can fire me,” said Woods in response to the petition.

“It is amazing what some people will say and what some people will believe,” Woods observed. “I was astounded.” He added.

Woods acknowledged he had had conversations with Apex, but said he was trying to find a solution which would please both the opponents and proponents of the large wind turbines.

He noted that Piedmont ordinances prevent the large turbines within the city limits, but he was concerned that many of the turbines in the Kingfisher Project would be placed just outside the city limits.

“I was working on borders that everyone might accept,” he said.

Woods said Tuesday he has not yet seen the petition, but he currently does not plan to lodge a legal challenge to the petition. However, he said after he is officially notified, he will respond and offer his side to the residents of Ward 2.

10 Comments

  1. john says:

    After review of the story’s in both papers, the written statement from Apex and the reason for Mr Woods recall, it is very apparent that Councilmen Woods was definitely looking out for all his constinuents interests in his ward. Let’s face it there is going to be a wind farm in far NW parts/outskirts of Piedmont in the unincorporated regions of the county. If I’m going to have to stare them down I much rather do that at 3,000 feet buffer zone then the 1,000 feet buffer is what will be reality to our city’s boundary. In spite of Mr Woods some what unpolished demeanor, you at least you know exactly where he stands on his thoughts, and yes I don’t always agree with him. I have zero problem for taxpayers and voters exercising the rights as a part of the electorate process to procure a recall. However with that said since the sole reason of recall is because of Mr Woods has been engaged in dialogue with Apex, then the recall has been ilconcieved and flawed from the very beginning. Since Pam Suttles is the person that has spearheaded the efforts of this recall she now owes two apologies. One to Mr Woods for not understanding why he was engaged and exercising his duties as an elected official representing his ward and our city and a second of her public display a couple months ago at city hall when she was asked to leave the chambers for her disruptive behavior and her disrespect of some of the lifelong members of the community at city hall.

  2. mildly interested says:

    I expect that Pam Suttles has spoken to each councilman and voiced her opinion and of course attempted to influence their decision. That is her right as well as it is for Apex and the other interested property owners. All three side of this has a motive and the motive is the same for all. Their individual and or commercial interest is the motive for each. What if the folks who live in the area don’t want a residential development because it would compromise their quality of life?

  3. JT says:

    Their argument is that parts of the turbines will become airborne during high winds or tornadoes causing dangerous flying debris. They also say it will cause the surrounding property values to plummet. Furthermore, they also say they are hazardous to human health because they cause sleep disturbance, headache, tinnitus, vertigo, and tachycardia. It’s all on their website www dot copra dot us.

    It’s hard to feel sorry for Vernon after reading his vitriolic comments about people on this and other websites.

  4. john says:

    I agree Mildly interested, it is Pam’s right to lobby each and everyone of the council just like its the same rights of the property owners that want them erected on the property.

  5. Richard Jones says:

    Good evening, John Michael.
    I have enjoyed the back and forth that both you and JT provide on a myriad of issues. As my brothers and I were good friends with members of your family when we were all kids, I am quite certain that your oldest brother will prove to be an honorable, effective councilman for my parent’s ward, and I look forward to watching him work with other council members to lead Piedmont in the direction of prosperity and peace.
    Unfortunately for Mr. Woods, and as much as it may come as a surprise to Councilman Robinson (who was apparently wise enough to rebuff Apex’ advances) it is not an individual councilman’s job to “negotiate” for the city behind closed doors for Anything. We have a city council, and public city council meetings as prescribed by the Charter of the City of Piedmont for that purpose. When three councilmen are present, a quorum is formed, and city business decisions can be made. If Apex had a proposal, they should have introduced it in open meeting in front of city representatives and the media, our watchdogs (but they have already done that). If the idea to ignore city ordinances was his own, Mr. Woods should have presented his suggestion to the city council in open meeting, and then, if somehow publicly approved by a majority of councilmen, they as a body could Negotiate with Apex on ways to circumvent the very will of the city and its people. I have read somewhere that there are processes, and those processes should be followed by everyone.
    Let’s put aside what may or may not eventually be happening outside of the city limits as well as the part of town that was targeted, and whether Mr. Woods’s intentions were noble or not, as intentions and outcomes in government are rarely in agreement. All of these variables are irrelevant.
    Strictly speaking, what would be your opinion if Mr. Woods had gone out and found a developer of mobile home parks (which, like 492 foot industrial wind turbines, are forbidden by city ordinance), and had been negotiating with them in private to circumvent existing ordinances and establish a lot full of single-wides in town? Remember, even if he were doing this for the sub-noble purpose of paying for a road running in front of his very own house, his intent is still irrelevant.
    Does the City Charter really allow an individual city councilman – in his role as a city councilman – to advise, assist or act as a sounding board for an outside business entity behind closed doors concerning the formulation of a sales pitch that the company or the councilman can then approach the entire city council with, seeking the approval of the other four members? I think Not.
    Mr. Woods is a big boy. Unlike Councilman Robinson, I believe that Mr. Woods knows exactly what the definition of the word “negotiating” is, as he has used that specific word in context when describing his actions in this matter repeatedly.
    I also find it impossible to believe that (whether you agree with what he has done, or not) Mr. Woods did not realize that by re-opening and then intentionally inserting himself into a highly controversial, hot-button issue that had already been decisively and publicly resolved by the city, he would be opening himself up to a loud and vocal negative response.
    If the strong probability of vocal citizen backlash totally evaded Mr. Woods, perhaps Councilman Robinson is right in his apparent belief that Mr. Woods did not know what he was doing (Negotiating).
    Again, whether you agree with me or not, If Mr. Woods had been more open and transparent about his activities with Apex, he would have been advised against them, and not have to be trying to explain those actions to his angry constituents now.
    –====
    JT – Your “Sounds like somebody needs a Bran Muffin” comment to Mr. Woods some weeks ago literally made me laugh so hard that I had frosty adult beverage coming from my nose – and this was before I learned of Vernon’s negotiations. It burned my nasal cavity, but in a good way. Thanks for that.

  6. john says:

    Dear Richard, Good to hear from you and I agree that my brother will be an effective councilmen. As to Vernon Woods I will let him answer his reasons for discussions with Apex as he was quoted in the newspaper he would respond to his critics after his rebuttal to the recall. I guess I don’t have an issue to it as some because the votes were never there with the council as to what was stated on the record. So even if the discussions with Apex merited a revisit of the proposal and vote it would still have to start over the same process it did the last time with the same public hearings and public scrunity. Maybe it should have been left alone as that’s not my decision. However with that said don’t forget the other player to all this. That name is no secret as that name is OG& E, they have already acquired land to build a huge on site facility for a transformer farm that lies in Kingfisher county just west of the Woodward transmission line.. As they will not be walking away from that investment, so the wind farm on the unincorporated areas of our county is not if but when it will be built. I have no issues to anybody that does not want them next to them and their property, but I would be making contingency plans before they are built. As I would want as much setbacks on my home or property if I didn’t want them. The county is your only refuge if any for that relief as the city of Piedmont will not have any jurisdiction to the set backs to our city boundaries except to enforce the state regs as that is only 1,000 feet. I wish you and your family good luck and health.

  7. Ant says:

    Idiot as you are you cant sit on the fence

    • john says:

      Who’s the idiot that has to hide behind mommies petticoat???? Why don’t you get real for once in your life. :)

  8. Richard Jones says:

    Interesting. I was not aware of the OG+E angle. Thanks for the heads up – it gives me that much more to stress over – jeez, thanks, no really, mucho appreciado… I am having Pains in my Chest. 

    This wind turbine thing is like an onion – so many layers. I guess that it should come as no surprise, as I am beginning to figure out that these large transmission lines are like super highways. Soon, wind turbine strip malls will be popping up all along their routes. Perhaps I am a bit slow. I understand that yet another high voltage transmission line has been planned to run from the panhandle, across the far northeast corner of Kingfisher County, and then through the middle of the state to Ft Smith, Arkansas. I fear that as a State, we have Sold our Soul.

    Yes, currently, the City of Piedmont has no protections against what goes on just outside of the city limits. If someone wanted to open a hazardous materials storage facility or a horse slaughter plant just across the street from Piedmont, there is nothing that the City could do to protect its citizens.

    This is why Senate Bill 1012 is so important. Canadian county is one of only four counties in the state whose towns and cities are not allowed to form Metropolitan Area Planning Commissions. This is an agreement between a city council and the county commissioners that would allow a city to have limited zoning authority in an area beyond its established limits. As SB1012 has already passed in the Senate, it needs the support of the State House of Representatives to land on the Governors desk.
    Passage of this bill will allow towns in Canadian County to protect themselves – just like everyone else. Traditional farming activities are excluded from regulation, so there is no negative impact to a farmer’s right to farm his fields.

    I was at the committee meeting when the House version of the bill was sent to the floor (I’m a bit of a political geek). Big Wind was there, and trying to make the issue all about Wind Energy. Whether it is, or is not in this case, should not matter. Piedmont, in a mutual agreement between the City Council and the Canadian County Commissioners, should be allowed to protect itself. I believe the vote in the House is scheduled for April 22nd.

    It is great to see you involved. I hope your Family is well. The heat of the debate is a fun thing to watch. Like I said, I am a political geek.

  9. Richard Jones says:

    Okay, I had utilized “Blatant Soapbox” and “End Soapbox” indicators enclosed in greater than\less than signs, but apparently, that does not post well. Just use your imagination. With my stuff, I am sure you can insert it just about anywhere.

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