The “intoxication in public” offense cited in the recall petition on Mayor Nathan Bates, while not illegal, is a violation of the City Charter.
Habitual public drunkenness is illegal and they are listed separately as a charter violation. This offense, however, was not listed on the recall petition. If it was, it would only be valid if Mayor Bates had been arrested for public drunkenness on more than one occasion and found guilty in court.
At the time our City Charter was approved by voters in 1960, Oklahoma law prohibited public consumption of ALL alcoholic beverages. Becoming slightly intoxicated below the level of drunkenness is legal for adults 21 years or older - but, it still remains a violation of our Charter.
The police were investigating a noise complaint and underage students consuming alcohol at a party where Mayor Bates was present. According to news accounts, he interceded in their investigation. If underage drinkers were present at the party, the mayor should not have been present. If he interceded in the police investigation, as reported, this is a direct violation of our Charter. If other activities of the mayor's misconduct were caused by intoxication, however slight, voters may hold him accountable regardless of legalities.
The recall election is for all citizens to judge the various news accounts and is the only recourse available to citizens displeased with the mayor's violations of our City Charter.
James W. “Jim” Burtschi
city commissioner 1970-73
chairman, Stillwater Charter Review Committee - 1981
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