A tale of two town halls: Councilor Mautino


Tonight I attended parts of two town hall meetings, held by Tulsa City Councilors Jim Mautino and Sam Roop. Mayor Bill LaFortune was at Sam Roop's meeting too, both as a listener and as a speaker. I came away feeling hopeful and optimistic.

Councilor Mautino's District 6 meeting at East Central High School started at 7, a half-hour before Councilor Roop's meeting, so I started out there.

If you've been around Jim Mautino for any length of time, you know that he has a passion for seeing east Tulsa developed. He looks at open fields and sees untapped potential. But he is not willing to see east Tulsa's rolling terrain filled with whatever junk the rest of the city doesn't want. East Tulsa's development can be done in a way that results in a pleasant place to live, work, and do business. It can be done in a strategic way that makes the most of 200,000 cars a day that travel I-44 between the I-244 junction and the US 412 / Creek Turnpike junction -- the busiest section of road in the state -- and translates that traffic into retail sales and sales tax revenue for the city. That's Jim's vision, and as a councilor he's working to ensure that the planning and infrastructure are in place to make this happen.

Councilor Mautino began his town hall meeting -- about 60 were in attendance, a good turnout -- with a presentation, centered around a map of the district. He pointed out areas where new sewer and water lines are going in. He talked of a couple of industrial businesses that were going to be forced to relocate out of Tulsa unless they could get hooked up to the city sewer. The sewer is there now and should help encourage more industrial development in the same area.

Councilor Mautino explained Owasso's retail development strategy, using the roads as a funnel to capture shoppers' dollars from the north, before the shoppers can get to the stores in Tulsa. He pointed out that the road network in east Tulsa could be used to create a similar funnel to capture retail dollars from people traveling through Tulsa or coming into the area from the northeast and east.

Councilor Mautino talked about the former town of Fair Oaks in Wagoner County, annexed to Tulsa in 2001. He's working with the principal landowner and INCOG on planning for connecting roads to encourage retail development along our section of Creek Turnpike. Jim sees the retail potential of the I-44 corridor in east Tulsa -- now mainly auto auctions and trucking related. He'd like to make five-laning Admiral Boulevard a priority, to encourage retail development. He wants Tulsa to work aggressively to get outdoor outfitter Cabela's to locate a retail store in east Tulsa, instead of letting Owasso or Jenks get it and all the sales tax revenue. He spoke of a variety of infrastructure priorities for the upcoming general obligation bond issue, and asked for his constituents' input on projects that matter to them.

I had to leave to go to Councilor Roop's meeting, but in the 40 minutes I was there, I was impressed by Councilor Mautino's mastery of policy details and the clarity of his explanations, working without notes -- just the map on the screen and a laser pointer. While Jim seemed a bit nervous at Wednesday's rally, tonight he was quite relaxed. In dealing with some of the controversy, he tried to steer clear of us vs. them language and to focus on the substance of the matter.

I'm too tired to write any more, and Councilor Roop's meeting deserves its own entry. I'll just say again that I was encouraged, particularly by what I heard from the Mayor.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on October 6, 2004 12:20 AM.

The three rules of city comfort was the previous entry in this blog.

Little Boy Brad's role model is the next entry in this blog.

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