March 9 is "Take Back Our City Day"


Fellow Tulsans, in just eight days we have the opportunity to determine whether our city government will be run for the benefit of just a few favored interests, or for the benefit of all of Tulsa's citizens. There are four key council races (two others will be landslides for the dominant party in those districts). Who wins these races will determine the direction of the city for the next two years. If we have five councilors willing to stand up for ordinary Tulsans, five councilors willing to hold city bureaucrats accountable, five councilors willing to stand up for what's right, even when the Whirled and the Chamber Pots and the developers' lobby threatens and abuses them, our city will be able to move forward.

What if we stay home a week from Tuesday? What if we decide we can't make a difference? If the good guys lose and the bad guys win, especially by a large margin, it will embolden the bad guys to abuse the system for their own benefit.

A couple of incidents at last Thursday's Council meeting illustrate why we need change:

The Council was supposed to deal with an important zoning issue in east Tulsa -- the final plat for a zoning change involving the concrete plant on 11th Street east of 129th East Avenue. This concrete plant had, under previous ownership, illegally expanded operations into a residentially zoned area, and they sought a zoning change to bring their operations into compliance. This case strikes at the concern that many east Tulsans have: Will the green, semi-rural atmosphere that attracted them to east Tulsa be replaced by heavy industrial development? And will new development be required to obey the law, or will the rest of the city treat east Tulsa as a dumping ground?

Jim Mautino, a 40-year resident of the area and a long-time neighborhood leader, has been following this issue closely for years, and it was thanks to his efforts that the batch plant was pressured into bringing its operations into compliance. Every Thursday, for the last seven weeks, Jim Mautino has seen the item on the agenda, and has come down to the Council meeting to address the Council on this issue. And every Thursday, the item is pulled at the last minute at the urging of Councilor Art Justis, who doesn't want the issue to come up before the city elections. Did I mention that Jim Mautino is the Republican nominee for District 6? I'm told that Justis thinks it's hilarious, how he can manipulate the system to inconvenience Jim Mautino and delay a decision until after the voters make their choice. That kind of contempt cannot be allowed to go unanswered.

Here's another thing from last Thursday night. Several of us attended to urge the Council to adopt a "consensus" that they support retention and strengthening of the zoning protest process. Homeowners were promised that this issue would be addressed before the Council primary. The Council directed the TMAPC to make a recommendation on the issue by January 20, and to produce as soon as possible a document explaining the current process, so that it would be well-defined for the next group of property owners to encounter this issue. In both cases the TMAPC has been sitting on its hands. I told you what happened on Wednesday when Chairman Joe Westervelt, the angry face of the development industry in our city, abruptly dropped the item from the agenda, then turned his back on the citizens who had gathered to express their views.

To their great credit, Councilors Bill Christiansen and Chris Medlock are holding the TMAPC's feet to the fire on this issue. They put the item on the agenda, to keep it in front of the Council and to keep the heat on INCOG to do the job they promised to do. The pressure did get INCOG to produce a draft of the protest petition process document, after months of inaction.

So how did their fellow councilors respond? Tom Baker, retired bureaucrat, scolded his colleagues for criticizing and questioning the motives of public employees in a public forum. (I didn't hear anyone question motives; that's his spin.) He said that it sets a bad example, and the public might treat public employees badly if they see their Councilors asking tough questions. So Tom Baker isn't bothered when public employees and commission members mistreat the taxpayers. He doesn't care a bit about accountability. He needs to be removed by the voters next Tuesday. Randy Sullivan, who, alas, was reelected in the primary, joined Baker in denouncing any tough questions directed at the actions of the bureaucrats or the planning commission members. Baker and Sullivan aren't watchdogs; they're lapdogs.

If we want responsive, representative government, we're going to have to act next Tuesday. Better yet, start early, and volunteer this final week to help one of the good guys with time, money, or both. Here's the contact info for the candidates who need and deserve your help:

Chris Medlock, District 2,, or call him at 496-3997.

Eric Gomez, District 4,, or call him at 378-0992.

Sam Roop, District 5 (no website, but call him at 665-1869).

Jim Mautino, District 6,, or call him at 437-2642.

We need these men on the City Council. They will work for us. Let's take back our city on March 9th!

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on March 1, 2004 12:00 AM.

Republicans unanimous on local issues was the previous entry in this blog.

District 6: For Jim Mautino is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.



Subscribe to feed Subscribe to this blog's feed:
[What is this?]