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None June 10th, 2014

“After many months of reviewing the current membership policy ... a recommendation was made to the ... board of directors that the current ‘family membership’ category be replaced with a new category, classified as ‘household membership,’” the YMCA of Greater Oklahoma City announced in a statement last week.

OKC YMCA adopts a more inclusive family policy with its “household membership.”

BY BEN FELDER

Oklahoma City’s chapter of the YMCA announced a policy shift last month that allows same-sex couples to sign up for family membership.

Group membership to the local YMCA is now open to same-sex couples and their children.

In fact, two adults of any sexual orientation living under the same roof, along with any dependents through age 23, are now eligible for a combined membership to the YMCA.

“After many months of reviewing the current membership policy ... a recommendation was made to the ... board of directors that the current ‘family membership’ category be replaced with a new category, classified as ‘household membership,’” the YMCA of Greater Oklahoma City announced in a statement last week. “The board approved the recommendation, which identifies a household membership as two adults and children through 23 years of age living in the same household. Under the new structure, additional adults living in the household may be added at an additional fee.”

The new policy will go into effect July 1.

The change in policy received praise from local equality advocates who saw it as a step toward a more inclusive community.

“The Equality Network would like to applaud the YMCA of Greater Oklahoma City for amending their membership policies to be inclusive of all Oklahoma City families,” Troy Stevenson, executive director of the Oklahoma chapter of The Equality Network, said in a statement. “This is a great step toward a more fair and inclusive Oklahoma.”

Park it, or ticket The city’s code enforcement division has stepped up its efforts to prevent yard parking.

The average number of annual citations for cars parked in yards (in the year to date through April) was around 3,000 in 2012. Following the addition of five more field officers for weekend duty in recent years, the number of yard parking citations dramatically increased. Through April of this year, more than 11,000 citations were issued.

The code department issues over 13,000 citations a year but attempts to work with property owners, said Bob Tener, development service director.

“It’s important for our inspectors to work with property owners before a citation is issued,” Tener said.

OKC school board questions hiring practice Two administrators were hired by the Oklahoma City Public School Board last week, but not before a few board members raised objections to the process of recommending candidates for approval.

A month before the district welcomes new superintendent Robert Neu, the board was presented with two candidates that had been recommended by Neu.

The Equality Network would like to applaud the YMCA of Greater Oklahoma City for amending their membership policies to be inclusive.

— Troy Stevenson

The board ultimately voted 7 to 1 in favor of the hires, but at least two members said they were concerned with filling high-level positions without hearing more about the candidates before Monday’s meeting.

“These are key positions … it does bring me concern if these are who has been chosen because I don’t like the [current] process of the district getting information to me as a board member [late],” said District 5 board member Ruth Veales, who ultimately cast the lone dissenting vote.

Aurora Lora was hired as the new assistant superintendent of student achievement and accountability. Lora also was a finalist for the superintendent position, a district official told the board during the public meeting.

Cynthia Koss was hired as the new executive director of secondary curriculum.

Neu, who officially begins his tenure as superintendent in July, was present for each interview and recommended the hires, a district official said. While Neu is not yet acting as superintendent, he was operating under a consulting contract with the district during the interview process for the two administrator positions.

“Significant improvement must include a committed support staff and strong educators, and the district has hired the best of the best,” Neu said in a statement released following the board’s vote.

Tweet of the week

Ward 5 Councilman David Greenwell joined the Twitterverse last week, and his first message to the world was that he rode a city bus home from work. The city council is expected to approve increased funding for transit this year, and Greenwell showed extra buy-in by becoming a transit rider. Plus, he saved money with the senior citizen discount.

Say what? “The whole vacant and abandoned building ordinance got lost in some kind of argument [at the state Capitol] about property rights.”

Ward 4 Councilman Pete White, along with other Oklahoma City officials, criticized the Oklahoma Legislature for passing a bill preventing the city from creating a vacant and abandoned property registry.

City Manager Jim Couch said the city was reviewing its options in an effort to address abandoned properties in OKC.

Word to the wise This week’s word is demolition, as in the next step for Stage Center in downtown Oklahoma City. The Downtown Design Review Committee had already sentenced the quirky building to death earlier this year, four years after flooding forced its closure.

Last week, crews began placing fencing around the building in preparation for the demolition, which is expected in coming months. The site will become the new corporate office for OGE Energy Corp.

 
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