Dirty Politics at its Worst – MESTA Board

Rick Langkamp fired as Executive Director without cause!

At the MESTA (Mayes Emergency Services Trust Authority) Board meeting on June 14, 2016, Dirty Politics reached a new low! Five of the Board members,  Trent Peper, Chairman, Rob Foreman, Sherman Weaver, Steve Hall, and Dr. Jason Joice,  who have special personal interests, not in the public interest, or the interests of MESTA, voted to terminate Rick Langkamp as Director of MESTA, without any cause being given. Board Members Larry Williams, Don Berger, Leon Blankenship, and Brent Crittenden voted against the motion to terminate.

Langkamp has served with distinction as Executive Director of MESTA since 2003. He has NEVER received a negative evaluation by the Board, nor any disciplinary action, nor instructed to accomplish any task which he has not done. No reasons were given for his termination, although information requested multiple times prior to the meeting.

He took over MESTA leadership when there was a terrible mess to clean up. It was losing money, equipment was in poor mechanical condition, employee training was not as it should be, and times taken for an ambulance response took longer than they should. Employee morale was at a low. Rick cleaned all of this mess up. MESTA began earning a profit, response times, morale, and training improved, and the public was well served.

This 5 to 4 vote has been in the planning stages for months, and is a result of Mayes County Commissioners Darrel Yoder, and Kevin Whiteside refusing since January to ratify two MESTA Board Members appointed by the City of Pryor, and the Town of Locust Grove. The 5 major towns in Mayes County are each permitted to appoint 1 member of the MESTA Board, and each of the 3 County Commissioners are allowed 2 appointments each, for a 11 member Board.  The Commissioners are required to confirm the appointments of the City/Town Board Members, but have refused to do so.

Pryor has twice submitted local civic leader and Realtor Harriet Dunham as its representative. She is a well respected member of this community, and has previously served with distinction as a MESTA Board Member. Two times, upon Motion by County Commissioner Ryan Ball, Yoder and Whiteside refused to second the motion, and it died.

Locust Grove has twice submitted the name of local CPA (Certified Public Accountant) Eric Sanford as its nominee, (January 4th and 14th)   and again a Motion by Ball died for lack of a second. Sanford then withdrew his name, and the Locust Grove Town Trustees submitted Jodi Dunham as its nominee. Jodi had previously served as a MESTA Board Member from 2000 to 2010. She served as a Certified EMT “Working Street Medic, and Training Medic” with Tulsa EMSA Ambulance Authority for 18 years from 1983 to 2001. Yoder and Whiteside wouldn’t confirm her as the Locust Grove representative! Why?? Dirty Politics!

Locust Grove on April 1, 2016, filed a Petition for Writ of Mandamus to require the Board of County Commissioners to approve Jodi Dunham as its nominee. Case Number CJ-16-32 is still pending before Judge Terry McBride, with no scheduled hearings set.

Why was Langkamp Fired?

We believe itt all goes back to a matter of CONTROL by Yoder and Whiteside, and prior thereto Commissioner Alva Martin want control of the MESTA and its money, contrary to the provisions of the Trust.  The MESTA Trust Indenture  (click link to view Indenture)  recorded in the office of the County Clerk of Mayes County at Book 654 and Pages 46 and following specifically provides in Article X, Section 2 as follows:

“The Beneficiary, (Mayes County Commissioners) shall have no legal title, claim or right to the Trust Estate, its income, or to any part thereof, or to demand or require any partition or distribution thereof. Neither shall the Beneficiary have any authority, power or right whatsoever to do or transact any business for or on behalf of or binding upon the Trustees or upon the Trust Estate, nor the right to control or direct the actions of the trustees pertaining to the trust Estate, or any part thereof….” Emphasis added. 

Under Langkamp’s 18 years of service, MESTA upgraded its staff, stations, service response, and operated at a profit. It had over One Million Dollars Profits in reserved funds for future improvements and equipment purchases, and the Commissioners wanted it! They “Stacked” the MESTA Board to try to get it, and refused to appoint qualified Board members who would oppose their unlawful efforts.

Langkamp has filed an action in the District Court seeking to remove for cause, MESTA Board Members Peper, Weaver, and Joice, and seeking damages and other relief. We wish him well, as ALL informed citizens of our county should do.

Outrageous Attorney fees and billing practices:

We were shocked to recently learn that James Orbison, General Counsel for MESTA has through his firm, billed MESTA over $100,000 in attorney fees the past 12 months. His billing for the past month was about $13,000, and we are informed that about $10,000 of that amount was not documented or detailed, except to Mr. Peper, who was the Board Member who recommended hiring Orbison following the resignation of local attorney Fred Sordahl. The resignation was based on the refusal of Peper, and 5 other board member aligned with him and the Commissioners to follow legal advice, and engage in what Sordahl characterized as improper conduct by these members. These board members have been previously designated in this Blog, and called “The Fixit Six”! 

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About Judge Gary J Dean

I have practiced law in Pryor (Creek), Oklahoma, since graduation from the Oklahoma University College of Law. I served as a District Court Judge serving Mayes, Rogers, and Craig Counties until my retirement in 2010. Since my retirement I have served as a Mediator, and engaged in the private practice of law. My wife Tracey, and I have both been very active in civic affairs all of our lives. I had to cut back on this activity while on the bench. Tracey is very active in Rotary, and has served as an Assistant District Governor in Rotary International District 6110, and is a Past President of our Pryor club. We are both Rotary Paul Harris Foundation Fellows. I started this Blog because of serious wrongdoing in the community which I see. I would have had to keep quiet on these matters while a Judge. The purpose of this Blog is to provide a forum for discussion of community issues. Comments will remain uncensored, and unedited, except for unreasonably improper language. Your comments and suggestions are welcome. I sincerely hope all enjoy visiting this blog, and that it will provide a good forum for community issues.
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2 Responses to Dirty Politics at its Worst – MESTA Board

  1. Gina Soukup says:

    What a tee-total mess! And a crying shame! I worked for Commissioner Ramsey for 2 terms 2000-2008. Mr.Langkamp was always an exemplary and dedicated representative. I’m appalled that this demise has come to Mr. Langkamp. I too, unfortunately was the victim of “dirty politics” orchestrated by Yoder. This is so wrong! To have one’s livelihood snatched away after so many years of commitment and dedication is devastating. Shame on you who are responsible for this travesty.

    Like

  2. Jacinda Ramsey says:

    Excellent and clear write up of the situation. Thank you so much!

    Like

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