First recall petitions sighted: Dumb and Dumber at $10 an hour


Got first reports today of recall petitions circulating against Tulsa City Councilor Chris Medlock in an east Tulsa neighborhood. Of course, Chris Medlock doesn't represent east Tulsa; his colleague Jim Mautino, also the target of a recall effort, does. The canvassers are going door-to-door and telling people that Medlock wants to sell water to the suburbs for too cheap a rate. (In fact, Medlock is concerned that water rate from suburban water customers is lower than it should be.)

Word is that the recall gang was out Friday recruiting petition canvassers at OSU-Tulsa for $10 an hour. I have also heard that former Tulsa City Councilor John Benjamin, who now lives at 14235 S Toledo Ave in the City of Bixby, south of the river, is boasting that he is organizing the entire effort.

The timing and the cast of characters is interesting. Benjamin is known as a slavish supporter of the Tulsa Metro Chamber bureaucracy. Thursday night, the City Council voted 5-4 in favor of Medlock's Economic Development Commission reforms, rejecting a substitute proposal from the Mayor that would have gutted key reforms. The thrust of the reform effort is to have a City of Tulsa-based committee oversee the City of Tulsa hotel/motel tax dollars which are earmarked for the promotion economic development and attracting conventions and tourists, instead of just signing over the money to the Tulsa Metro Chamber, no strings attached. Sheraton Tulsa General Manager Jon Davidson, chairman of the recall effort, and until very recently vice chairman of the Tulsa Metro Chamber, was spotted in the gallery of the Council meeting during the EDC debate. The day after the EDC vote, the recall plotters are hiring petition circulators and the next day the petitions are out on the street (albeit the wrong street).

Combine all this with Tulsa Metro Chamber chairman Bob Poe's angry phone call to Mayor LaFortune after the Mayor publicly denounced the recall effort, and a picture begins to emerge: The Chamber bureaucracy and the oligarchs who control the Chamber board are out to punish Tulsa's elected officials for daring to hold the Chamber accountable for the $60 million in city tax dollars the organization has received and spent apparently in vain, given the state of Tulsa's economy, which continues to lag behind the national recovery. The Chamber bureaucracy could be a good partner with the city, could understand the need for more accountability, could humbly acknowledge its failure to deliver economic progress, but instead the Chamber Pots are lashing out like cornered rats.

I heard a story recently that illustrates the way the Chamber Pots operate. There's a new group called Young Professionals of Tulsa, whose aims include rediscovering and promoting the "people, places and things that make Tulsa original" -- to that end they're working to raise the money to reopen Nelson's Buffeteria and to revive the Greenwood Jazz Festival. The Tulsa Metro Chamber bureaucrats pushed to make YPT a branch of the Chamber, and when rebuffed, threatened to set up a rival young professionals group and to spread the word that it would be very unwise to join YPT instead of the Chamber's knockoff group.

That insatiable drive to kill anything it can't control is why "Chamber" is a dirty word to Tulsans from every part of the political spectrum, from every part of the city. Apparently that same spirit motivates this Chamber-led attempt to reverse the results of the last city election. They can't even wait a year for the next election. I have hope that the people of Tulsa have the good sense not to be swayed by the Chamber bureaucracy's selfish maneuverings.

NOTE: If you have any reports of recall petitions circulating, e-mail me at blog -at- (replace -at- with @). If you can get video or audio or even still photos of the canvassers at work, so much the better.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on October 31, 2004 12:46 AM.

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