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April 24, 2013

Blanchard city manager, 'Councilmember lawsuit not conflict'

CHICKASHA — Pending litigation in which a current Blanchard council member is suing the city does not signify a conflict of interest, City Manager Robert Floyd said.

Yvonne Lackey was elected to Blanchard City Council earlier this month and was sworn in on April 15, even though she filed a lawsuit at the end of 2012 alleging she was wrongfully arrested by a former Blanchard police officer for allegedly carrying a gun into City Hall. Lackey is seeking damages of at least $10,000.

“Honestly, there is not a conflict,” Floyd said. “Right now, our insurance company is handling the defense, so if the council were to go into executive session or do anything involving that, she (Lackey) would have to recuse herself.”

Council has met twice since Lackey was appointed. Floyd was not the city manager in 2011 when Lackey, around the same time she lost out to Frank Boyles for the Ward 4 Council seat, was arrested for carrying her firearm into City Hall. According to the lawsuit filed in McClain County Court, Lackey was accused of causing a disturbance with her gun, but the plaintiff, represented by attorneys from The Love Law Firm out of Oklahoma City, denies these allegations. At the time, Lackey pleaded no contest to the misdemeanor charge of bringing a firearm into city hall and had her record expunged.

Phone calls to Lackey for comment were not returned by press time.

“I couldn’t attest to any details [about the incident,]” Floyd said. “But as far as any conflict of interest, there is none. I’ve seen situations where council members were suing each other and sat in the same session.”

Blanchard resident George Huggins said he was upset to discover one of his councilmembers was involved in a lawsuit against the city.

“I think something needs to be done about it,” Huggins said.

City Clerk Susie Maeder and former Blanchard Police officers Dennis Furey and Clayton Hobbs are named as defendants in the lawsuit. A hearing in the case is scheduled for May 22 at 1:30 p.m.

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