"Good guys walk out"


That was the headline on this entry in National Review's "The Corner". I didn't imagine National Review would take note of a local story -- the absence of four Tulsa City Councilors from last night's meeting, the first one to be held under Randy Sullivan's chairmanship. Sure enough, it was about something else.

Four members of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission walked out of the Commission's monthly meeting when the chairman refused to permit a discussion of the staff director's attempt to reorganize the agency, a move the dissenting members say was not authorized by the commission. The item goes on to present remarks from each of the four commissioners who walked out, explaining their rationale.

I suspect a similar motive -- the chairman's high-handed treatment of members -- was behind the absence of Jack Henderson, Jim Mautino, Chris Medlock, and Sam Roop from Thursday's City Council meeting. The Whirled story on the event mentioned a dispute at Tuesday's Council committee meeting over new Chairman Randy Sullivan's intent to appoint a permanent chairman over each committee, rather than share the chairmanship as had been done in the past.

The Whirled reported that Roop objected to the new policy, which would be a change from the Council's traditions. Roop voted to uphold Council tradition on Monday in allowing Sullivan to become chairman, despite questions about Sullivan's character and fairness, so Roop must have felt betrayed by Sullivan's rapid abandonment of settled practice.

Another possible motive -- an unwillingness to proceed with Council business until Roscoe Turner is officially seated and the Council's ranks are complete. This was the motive Jim Mautino cited, when asked by the Whirled about his vote against Sullivan for chairman -- he thought the Council should wait a week until the special election results were in, out of respect for the voters of District 3. Instead, not only was lame duck Councilor David Patrick allowed to vote in the selection of a chairman, he was allowed to preside, and he even nominated the vice chairman. Traditionally, the Council Secretary presides until a chairman is elected.

Whatever the rationale, the missing councilors owe the public some sort of explanation, otherwise they leave it to the rest of us to speculate, and they allow the Whirled to put its own unsympathetic construction on the situation. The dissenting members of the Civil Rights Commission set a good example to follow. If these Councilors want to issue statements, I will be happy to publish them in their entirety, unedited.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on April 10, 2004 12:53 AM.

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