The Edmond Sun: OUR VIEW-Rhodes rises to the top

Published August 24, 2012

EDMOND — On Tuesday, Republican voters in Oklahoma County will be asked to choose between two men to serve as the next court clerk for the county. Tim Rhodes and Rep. Charles Key came out of four Republicans in the June primary election to vie for the spot. The primary runoff election will be from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday.

This election features an office that really requires more of an able administrator than the need for a politician. The court clerk serves as a specialized administrator of the courts. The person fulfilling this role should have a sound understanding of the court system and of the needs of taxpayers and all of those served by the courts.

When weighing the two candidates’ qualifications, we believe Rhodes provides the most experience and understanding of the office. He has 15 years as chief deputy court clerk, having served with retiring Court Clerk Patricia Presley. Rhodes also is an attorney and was a special judge for Oklahoma City in his career. He understands the needs of the judicial system and the many people served by this system.

Rhodes states that one of his main aims if elected is to finish the office’s transition to e-filing of court records. This is a tremendous task that holds critical importance for all citizens. Overseeing this process in a timely and financially responsible manner should be the priority of whomever is elected to the position. We believe Rhodes has the experience and knowledge to finish the job.

We encourage all eligible voters to read about the candidates and decide for themselves who will best serve Oklahoma County. The most important task ahead of Republican voters this Tuesday is making the time to go out and vote.

Oklahoman Editorial: Tim Rhodes best pick for Oklahoma County court clerk


The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: August 24, 2012

On Tuesday, Republican voters will fill an important but often-overlooked office: Oklahoma County court clerk. Only Republicans filed for the post, so the next court clerk will be chosen in a runoff election pitting Tim Rhodes, the current chief deputy of the office, and state Rep. Charles Key of Bethany.

The Oklahoman believes Rhodes’ experience, professional background and proven competence make him the right man for the job.

The Oklahoma County court clerk’s office is the largest and busiest of its kind in Oklahoma. It handled roughly 125,000 court cases last year; the growth in the number of filings has been about 5 percent annually.

The office is tasked with collecting everything from legal fees to fines to child support payments. It took in more than $70 million last year. Forty programs are funded through those collections. In recent years, the office has adopted modernization initiatives that digitized many records and automated jury processing.

These changes, which Rhodes helped implement, saved taxpayer dollars, eliminated unnecessary hassles for citizens and facilitated timely trials. Some 17,000 jurors are summoned in Oklahoma County each year.

The court clerk is also a member of the county budget board and helps craft the budget. Rhodes has been deputy for more than 15 years, serving with incumbent Patricia Presley, a Democrat who declined to seek another term. During Rhodes’ time in office, the clerk’s office workload has increased 75 percent, yet it employs about the same number of people today as in 1997. The operating budget has actually decreased in recent years.

Those who’ve worked with Rhodes are clearly impressed, as reflected in endorsements. He has the support of numerous past presidents of the Oklahoma County Bar Association, as well as County Commissioner Ray Vaughn, County Treasurer Butch Freeman, County Clerk Carolynn Caudill, County Assessor Leonard Sullivan and former Gov. Frank Keating. On the other hand, Key’s background isn’t relevant to service as court clerk. Ironically for a smaller-government firebrand, his main motivation seems to be the pursuit of another government paycheck, now that he’s termed out of the Legislature. Key simply isn’t qualified for the office. His campaign materials don’t even focus on the clerk’s core job functions.

When the clerk’s office is managed well, voters will seldom hear of the office. But if the wrong person is elected, the potential for chaos affecting thousands of citizens and tens of millions of dollars is possible. In a low-key follow-up to a low-key primary election in June, the runoff would be easy to overlook.

The importance of this office makes it imperative that Republicans turn out to vote Tuesday and select Tim Rhodes. He will keep doing what he’s been doing, just at a higher level, ensuring that the office remains innovative, efficient and professional.

Edmond Life & Leisure Endorses Tim Rhodes, Court Clerk

Elect Rhodes as County Court Clerk
Ray Hibbard, Edmond Life & Leisure
Believe it or not folks but it is election time once again. You may have thought we were safe and free until November from candidates pushing their qualifications and getting those phone calls. You might have even thought this column would be political and endorsement free until November. If so, you would be wrong friends.
There is one race that will appear on our local ballots this coming Tuesday, August 28th here in Edmond. It is the office of Oklahoma County Court Clerk. A crowded slate of Court Clerk hopefuls forced a runoff between the two top vote getters, Tim Rhodes and Charles Key. They are seeking the office currently being served by Patricia Presley who decided not to run for another term and to retire instead. This run off will decide the election. It is winner take all due to lack of a candidate from the Democratic Party.
Presley has been a great asset to our Oklahoma County Government. She has concentrated on her job and done it well. Presley has been a great steward with tax payer money and also provided the important services that the folks who use her office needed. During her tenure as Court Clerk, she has proved to be a calming influence when some county officers were more interested in their personal agenda over the work of the people. Current leadership for Oklahoma County is free from those type of personal agendas so Presley can feel safe turning it over to someone else. Or, can she?
We believe that if Tim Rhodes is elected by voters to this office, we can be assured the office will continue its smooth and efficient operation. The office will be free of posturing or being used as a political platform for some other cause. Rhodes works in the office currently under Presley as Chief Deputy Court Clerk and has for 15 years. This is an office where changing the status quo would be a very bad thing. I would put it more in the category of “don’t fix what isn’t broke.”
The primary duty of the Court Clerk is to record and maintain court records filed in Oklahoma County. The Court Clerk also has the important duty of collecting and accounting for all funds deposited in connection with court proceeding. The Oklahoma County Court Clerk’s office receives more than $20 million in criminal fines, court costs, bond forfeitures, child support and other such payments. Fiscal oversight of Court Clerk funds is provided by the Supreme Court, the State Treasurer, State Auditor, County Treasurer and by internal audit staff.
Court Clerks are the courts’ criminal fine collectors charged by law to enforce financial sanctions ordered by the courts. In 1997, Presley began the first formal Cost Administration department dedicated solely for this purpose. Since then, millions more than ever before have been collected in criminal cases in Oklahoma County.
There are a few other services that the office is responsible for in addition to all the above duties. They provide services for passport processing, marriage licenses and licensing of private process services and low point beer providers. I get all of what they do except the low point beer thing. How in the world did the County Court Clerk pick up that duty?
Here is why Rhodes is qualified for this office:

  • 15 years Chief Deputy Court Clerk
  • Developed and implemented all Court Clerk programs since 1997
  • Federal and Oklahoma Court Clerks’ association member
  • Bar Association Approved Instructor, Court Practices and Open Records
  • Handbook for Court Clerks, Contributor
  • American Inns of Court
  • Ranked in Top Ten, OCU Law Class; JD OU 1990, Law Review
  • Voting member of the Oklahoma County Budget Board during Court Clerk absences
  • Attorney of Record, Presley v. Board of County Commissioners, Supreme Court lawsuit to stop county officer pay raise
“It is vitally important to have the best qualified person lead the Oklahoma County Court Clerk’s office. After having served as Chief Deputy in this office for more than 15 years, I am the most qualified to continue our record of service to the citizens of Oklahoma County. I have years of experience in every area of Court Clerk duties and experience,” said Rhodes about his quest for your vote.
Rhodes has managed to drum up support from some pretty impressive people. They are folks that know how important professional management of the Court Clerks office can be. The list includes Oklahoma County officers Ray Vaughn, Butch Freeman, Carolynn Caudill and Leonard Sullivan. Other notable supports are Randel Shadid, Judge Leamon Freeman, Irven Box and a number of former Oklahoma County Bar Association Past Presidents. It is easy to see that folks that are involved in using the office on a day to day basis heavily support Rhodes. That certainly says something about his ability.
Folks, this office might seem to be the most boring office a person might hold. Frankly, it seems that way to me. The good news is that Rhodes thinks it is all exciting and really wants to continue his work as the Court Clerk and not just the Chief Deputy. The law describes the duties of the Court Clerk but it doesn’t say anything about how well the job must be done. These are services that could cause a terrible burden on citizens if they are not carried out efficiently and by a professional.
We hear folks say all the time that government needs to be run more like a business. Presley has done that over the years and Rhodes brings that same professionalism to the office. It is not time to have someone who needs a learning curve or has a political axe to grind. Rhodes is a pro and knows this job inside and out.
His opponent serves in the state legislature and is term limiting out. I guess you could say he is looking for another job. You may remember Charles Key not from any significant legislation but from the petition he promoted in 1997 asking constituents to sign calling for an independent investigation in the Oklahoma City bombing. He was convinced that it was all a cover-up and conspiracy by the ATF.
The state grand jury investigation concluded that Key’s allegations were false and there was nothing to them. The grand jury investigation demanded by Key cost you and me over $500,000. It was an expensive waste of time and now he wants to serve as our County Court Clerk who is a fiscal conservative. I don’t think so folks.
While going to the polls this Tuesday may not be the first thing on your mind, you need to remind yourself to go and vote for Tim Rhodes for Oklahoma County Court Clerk.

Tim Rhodes known for experience, not nonsense


By William Burkett, Oklahoma City
Letter to the Editor, published July 28, 2012 in the Oklahoman

The Oklahoma County court clerk has 130 employees to maintain all litigation records and perform other duties. Tim Rhodes has been the chief deputy for 16 years and has been endorsed by all past presidents of the county bar association to be the next court clerk. His opponent, Charles Key, has no qualifications for this position. He is however, well known.

After Timothy McVeigh was convicted of the Murrah Building bombing, Key formed the Oklahoma Bombing Investigation Committee and petitioned for a grand jury to find out “what really happened.” As an Oklahoma County district judge, I presided over that grand jury. Key wrote a letter to the grand jurors saying that the bombing was a federal government sting operation that went bad. In its March 5, 1998, newsletter, the committee said: “A very disturbing aspect … is the overwhelming evidence that … the federal government had prior knowledge of the impending disaster …” But no such evidence was presented to the grand jury.

The Aug. 28 runoff will decide whether Key, who spouted this nonsense, or Rhodes will be responsible for this very important office. Most voters have had no contact with the court clerk and will have little incentive to vote at all. I urge them to ask their lawyer friends about this race and to take the time to vote for Rhodes. His election is essential to the successful operation of this very important office.

William Burkett, former Republican state chairman, is an attorney in Oklahoma City.

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