H 30° L 18°
  • cloudy-day
    Current Conditions
    Clear. H 30° L 18°
  • clear-night
    Clear. H 30° L 18°
  • clear-day
    Sunny. H 44° L 30°

Krmg news on demand

00:00 | 00:00


Krmg traffic on demand

00:00 | 00:00


Krmg weather on demand

00:00 | 00:00

Botanical battle: Woman suing Tulsa after city crews destroy plants

Botanical battle: Woman suing Tulsa after city crews destroy plants

Botanical battle: Woman suing Tulsa after city crews destroy plants
Photo Credit: Russell Mills
Denise Morrison's yard, full of edible and medicinal plants, a few months after the city of Tulsa removed hundreds of them claiming a violation of the city's nuisance ordinance

Botanical battle: Woman suing Tulsa after city crews destroy plants

In a case that has garnered international attention, sparked a petition drive and outraged some, a Tulsa woman has sued the city for destroying thousands of plants she used for food and medicine.

The city told her the plants violated a municipal nuisance ordinanance.

Denise Morrison has filed suit in federal court, seeking monetary damages for more than $10,000 worth of plants she says the city arbitrarily decided to destroy on two properties she owns.

She tells KRMG the dispute actually began nearly six years ago, when city crews "mowed" a two-acre property she owns near N. 46th St. and Lewis Ave.

They took the action the day after she had planted the entire lot, clearly, she says, with plants, not weeds.

After years of wrangling over that action she was ordered to pay the city another $1,000 to cover the cost of the mowing, or lose the property.

Only employed part-time, with a recently deceased son and an elderly mother for whom she cares, it took donations from friends and neighbors to save her land.

Morrison says she was given from 5 p.m. one day until 8 a.m. the next morning to come up with the money.

A month after finally settling, the city showed up at her home, in the 500 block of 49th Pl. North.

She tells KRMG she had checked with the city to make sure everything she was growing at her home was legal.

"They sent me a report back telling me I had no violations," she said. "I wanted to make sure that it wasn't a problem. But after they forced me to pay $1,000 last year to save my property, the very next month they came here."

She called police, she says, and the officer gave her a summons to go to court.

"I went to court August 15th, the judge said we're gonna recommend it over to October court. Okay, come back in October. August 16th, that morning, they had trucks lined up out here."

They told her, "We're gonna take out all of this."

"No you're not," she says she replied. "I'm gonna sue you."

True to their word, the crews removed lemon mint, apple mint, Rose o'Sharon, stinging nettles and even 35-year-old Concord grapes.

All her plants, she says, are grown completely organically, with no pesticides or commercial fertilizer.

They are all edible, and many medicinal.

KRMG contacted the City of Tulsa for a response. Spokeswoman Michelle Allen responded via email.

"This matter you are referencing is now pending litigation in federal court and I am not at liberty to comment at this time."

She did send a copy of the city's nuisance ordinance.

It contains verbiage which would seemingly exempt many, if not all, the plants destroyed on Morrison's property.

The pertinent passage to the ordinance (which is attached as a related link above):

6. Weeds and other rank growths of vegetation upon private property or
adjoining parking, including but not limited to poison ivy, poison oak, or poison sumac
and all vegetation at any state of maturity which:
a. Exceeds twelve (12) inches in height, except healthy trees, shrubs,
or produce for human consumption grown in a tended and cultivated
garden unless such trees and shrubbery by their density or location
constitute a detriment to the health, benefit and welfare of the public and
community or a hazard to traffic or create a fire hazard to the property or
otherwise interfere with the mowing of said weeds;
b. Regardless of height, harbors, conceals, or invites deposits or
accumulation of refuse or trash;
c. Harbors rodents or vermin;
d. Gives off unpleasant or noxious odors;
e. Constitutes a fire or traffic hazard; or
f. Is dead or diseased

Morrison maintains her plants were for human consumption, constituted no health hazard, was kept clean of trash and did not harbor any vermin.

Online petitions seeking a reversal of the city's stance and the replacement of her plants are circulating, and websites around the world have taken note of the story.

Read More
  • A mother from Minnesota is now facing charges of endangering a 20-month-old child after video showed a car seat, with her child strapped into it, tumbling out of a moving car. Maimuna Kunow Hassan, 40, could face up to a year behind bars and a $3,000 fine, KMSP reported. >>Read: Toddler strapped in car seat falls out of car in shocking dashcam video; child not hurt Police said Hassan, of Mankato, Minnesota, did not secure the car seat correctly. She is also charged with improperly restraining her child in the car seat and violating an instructional driver’s permit that requires a licensed driver in the car with her. She did not have another licensed driver with her at the the time of the incident, police told KMSP. Police were alerted to the child falling out of the car by an eyewitness who told police that he saw a car seat fall from a car and into the road as the car drove off. Officers identified Hassan, who had walked up to police with another child as officials interviewed witnesses. Hassan, crying, then hugged the child who had fallen from the car, KMSP reported. Officers said Hassan told them the door of the car opened as she drove and the toddler fell out. She parked the car farther down the road, walking back to where the child fell. She told police that the child was secure in the car and had unlocked the door. A police officer said the car seat’s chest straps were not closed and there was not a LATCH strap to connect the car seat to the vehicle. Hassan’s car was LATCH-compatible, police said, but there was not a seat restraint system in the car, KMSP reported. Hassan is scheduled to appear in court next month.
  • The partial government shutdown is hitting home for President Donald Trump in a very personal way. He lives in government-run housing, after all. Just 21 of the roughly 80 people who help care for the White House — from butlers to electricians to chefs — are reporting to work. The rest have been furloughed. Even so, the shutdown doesn't mean Trump is making his own bed or emptying the trash on the second floor of the White House, where he and the first lady live with their 12-year-old son, Barron. The pared-down White House residence staff typically still includes a butler and a chef. Basic housekeeping continues. But forget fresh flower arrangements from the White House florist — that's hardly considered an essential service. Trump joked this week that because of the skeletal staff, Melania Trump might have had to make salads for members of the championship Clemson football team when they visited the White House on Monday. Instead, he shelled out for a mega fast food order of burgers, fries and pizza for the team. Still, the slim staffing may be contributing to Trump's oft-expressed sense of loneliness about life in the White House during the longest closure in history. 'I am all alone (poor me) in the White House waiting for the Democrats to come back and make a deal on desperately needed Border Security,' the president tweeted on Christmas Eve. The shutdown also has thrown cold water on the White House social scene, turning the historic mansion into a museum with few visitors. Selfies at receptions are out. Public tours of the famed Red, Blue and Green rooms are at a halt. Until the Clemson players came through this week, Trump had not hosted a large group at the White House since he and the first lady said goodbye to guests at their final holiday reception before Christmas. Staffing is one reason. But it's also a matter of optics. It simply would look bad for Trump to continue hosting social events while about one-fourth of the executive branch he presides over has been forced to halt operations. Congressional leaders and various groups of legislators have come by the White House from time to time to negotiate with Trump, and even shared a few meals there. But in the absence of the larger catering staff, it fell to the Navy-run 'mess' in the basement of the West Wing to prepare steak for a small group of Republican House members who recently had lunch with Trump. Since the shutdown began, Trump has put off travel to his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida, where he typically gets in daily rounds of golf and catches up with old friends. He's scrapped his usual pattern of spending Christmas and New Year's at the resort, where he spends many weekends during the winter and hosts an annual Super Bowl bash. The White House hasn't said where he will be on game day Feb. 3. A military plane with the call sign reserved for the first family when the president is not with them landed in Palm Beach on Thursday night but the White House did not comment on who was aboard. The 132-room White House and its priceless contents require 24-hour maintenance and monitoring, so mechanical and operations engineers and electricians are part of the skeletal crew, said Gary Walters, a former White House chief usher, the person responsible for managing the residence staff. The shutdown also has trimmed the first lady's already lean East Wing staff in half. Just five of 11 aides are reporting to work, said Stephanie Grisham, the first lady's spokeswoman. While social events have been put on hold, planning for future events continues, such as the annual ball with the nation's governors set for Feb. 24, St. Patrick's Day festivities in March and the annual Easter Egg Roll on April 22. Those events could still be canceled or postponed depending on the length of the shutdown. Trump has said the government could be closed for a 'long time.' ___ Associated Press writer Jill Colvin contributed to this report. ___ Follow Darlene Superville on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/dsupervilleap
  • A video posted Friday to Twitter shows a woman wearing black on her face and hands while using a racial slur. OU's Office of University Community confirmed in a statement that it is an OU student in the video, which it described as 'inappropriate and derogatory.'  The statement says university officials are following up with the students. In 2015, the university severed ties with a fraternity and expelled two students after several members took part in a racist chant caught on video that referenced lynching.
  • Hate Robocalls? Verizon is offering a free service that could help. The cell phone carrier already had its Call Filter add-on for $3 a month, but starting in March, Engadget reports that Verizon will offer the service free of charge. The technology can often spot and alert you to a spoofed number. Spoofed numbers make it look like the robocall is a local call, increasing the chances that you'll answer. The service doesn't work with all phones, but newer phones and operating systems are more likely to be compatible. You can read more about the story here.
  • Michigan's attorney general in 2016 promised to investigate 'without fear or favor' the scandal over Flint's lead-tainted drinking water and pledged that state regulators would be locked up for fudging data and misleading the public. Yet three years later, no one is behind bars. Instead, seven of 15 defendants have pleaded no contest to misdemeanors, some as minor as disrupting a public meeting. Their records eventually will be scrubbed clean. That has angered some people in Flint who believe key players who could have prevented the lead disaster are getting off easy. Four of five people at the state Department of Environmental Quality who were on the front line of the crisis have struck deals. The remaining cases mostly center on a deadly outbreak of Legionnaires' disease and early disastrous decisions to use water from the Flint River. 'I'm furious — absolutely furious,' said LeeAnne Walters, a mother of four who is credited with exposing the lead contamination. 'It's a slap in the face to every victim in the city of Flint.' Walters, 40, said she was repeatedly brushed off by the Department of Environmental Quality, known as DEQ, even as she confronted officials with bottles of brown water. She testified in Congress after then-Gov. Rick Snyder in 2015 finally acknowledged the lead mess, and she later was honored with an international prize for grassroots environmental activism. 'Instead of people being held accountable, they're getting a free pass,' Walters said. 'The fact remains there wouldn't have been a problem with the lead and the legionella if the water had been treated properly, if MDEQ would have done their job.' Flint was one of the worst man-made environmental disasters in U.S. history. While waiting for a new pipeline to bring water from Lake Huron, the majority-black city of 100,000 pulled water from a river in 2014-15 without treating it to reduce corrosive effects on old pipes. Lead infected the distribution system in Flint, where 41 percent of residents are classified by the government as living in poverty. Due to poor finances, Flint was being run by financial managers appointed by the governor. The uproar over water quality reached a peak by fall 2015 when a doctor reported high levels of lead in children, which can cause brain damage. The water no longer comes from the river and has significantly improved, but some residents are so distrusful that they continue to use bottled water. Liane Shekter Smith, who was fired as head of Michigan's drinking water office, was charged with misconduct in office and neglect of duty. Special prosecutor Todd Flood later put her on notice that he would pursue an involuntary manslaughter charge, arguing that she could have shut down the Flint water plant and reduced the threat of legionella bacteria, which causes Legionnaires'. But charges were dropped on Jan. 7 in exchange for a no-contest plea to an obscure misdemeanor that will not result in any jail time: disturbance of a lawful meeting. She had declined to accept a report about water quality from Walters and others. Two other key agency employees, Michael Prysby and Stephen Busch, made deals on Dec. 26. All three will have their records erased if they cooperate with Flood. Shekter Smith wanted 'to put some closure on this matter,' attorney Brian Morley said of her plea agreement. 'Criminal charges weren't warranted.' State Sen. Jim Ananich of Flint, who runs his water through a filter, said he's listened to frustrated residents. 'At the beginning there was a feeling of good, someone is going to be held accountable. Now people don't believe anyone is going to be held accountable,' he said. The outcome so far is different than the dramatic scene in 2016 when Attorney General Bill Schuette, a Republican who was poised to run for governor, traveled to Flint to announce felony charges against Prysby, a DEQ engineer, and Busch, a DEQ regional supervisor. 'Mr. Busch and Mr. Prysby misled federal and local authorities, regulatory officials, and failed to provide safe and clean water to families of Flint,' Schuette declared at that time. 'When we prove these allegations — and we will — Mr. Busch and Mr. Prysby will be facing five years in prison for this count alone.' Andy Arena, a Flint water investigator and former head of the FBI in Detroit, believes the plea deals are appropriate. 'There are culpable folks out there that we need to get to,' he said. 'This is how it works: You cut deals with certain people to move the case up the line. I believe these people have some information that could significantly assist in our ongoing investigation.' Schuette, who lost the governor's race and is out of public office, said: 'I stand with Andy,' referring to Arena. Flood declined to comment on his strategy. The new attorney general, Dana Nessel, has asked a Detroit-area prosecutor to review the remaining cases , including involuntary manslaughter charges against Nick Lyon, the former head of the Michigan health department who has been ordered to trial. Lyon is accused of failing to alert the public in a timely manner about the Legionnaires' outbreak, which has been linked to foul water and at least 12 deaths. Dr. Eden Wells, who was Michigan's chief medical executive, also is facing an involuntary manslaughter trial, although both cases are tied up in appeals by aggressive defense teams. Gerald Ambrose and Darnell Earley, who were state-appointed emergency managers when Flint was using river water, are also charged. They're accused of being obsessed with saving money instead of protecting residents. All have pleaded not guilty. ___ Follow Ed White at http://twitter.com/edwhiteap