Whirled saves Medlock slam for Sunday

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Last Wednesday Tulsa City Councilor Chris Medlock got a call from a Tulsa Whirled reporter looking for comment on a story she was writing about that day's meeting of the Tulsa Metropolitan Utility Authority (TMUA -- Tulsa's water board). The gist was that the head of the Southwest Tulsa Chamber of Commerce was claiming that Medlock was obstructing a new housing development outside the Tulsa city limits and outside Tulsa's fence line in the Berryhill area. This is an area that Medlock has proposed to bring within the City's fence line to ensure that Sand Springs or Sapulpa cannot annex it. You'll recall that Sapulpa recently extended its boundaries several miles to grab the Town West shopping center near the Turner Turnpike entrance -- an area just outside Tulsa's city limits. Mr. Gray wants the City to pay for part of the sewer extension to this new development, but he opposes the fence line extension to ensure that this area we help to develop ultimately ends up in the City of Tulsa's limits.

They ran the story Sunday, top of the page of the Local section. (Starts here, jumps here.) The story does a decent job of letting Medlock respond to the complaint. But the real story is that the Whirled's editors have decided to spotlight any complaint against Chris Medlock, no matter how trivial or baseless. A public official is bound to have at least constituents disappointed with some decision, but you would expect the newspaper to put those disappointments into perspective. Instead, the Whirled seems to have set aside space in its highest circulation edition for a weekly shot at the councilor who poses the biggest threat to the cozy deals of which the Whirled is so fond.

The bottom line on this particular issue is that Tulsa has a limited amount of money to pay for sewer line extensions and the City Council wants to prioritize connecting unserved areas that are already within the city limits.

Chris Medlock has posted the e-mail he sent to the Whirled reporter on the TulsaNow forums here. For your convenience, it's reproduced here after the jump.

For those of you wondering about Tulsa World slant, I received a voicemail from PJ Lassek of the World asking me to comment on a story that "broke from TMUA"

Apparently TMUA turned down a proposal for a small developer named Barry Simpson, who wanted to build houses in the Berryhill area, west of Tulsa. She said John Gray, who has been assisting Mr. Simpson made comments very critical of me, implying that he blamed me for TMUA's rejection of the plan.

I returned Ms. Lassek's call, but got her voicemail. So, I wrote the following memo and e-mailed it to her. Let's all see how she uses these facts in her story.

To: P. J. Lassek (Tulsa World)

From: Chris Medlock District 2 City Councilor

Subject: Criticism by John Gray Regarding Barry Simpson Development

Date: Wednesday, October 20, 2004

PJ:

Thought I'd drop a few important facts that the public should know in order to balance any criticisms leveled at me from John Gray.

1. John Gray is a long time supporter of Darla Hall

2. John Gray ran as a democrat in 2002 seeking the District 8 city council seat.

3. John Gray is a realtor.

4. John Gray is one of only a dozen or so members of RPAC, which is the realtor's political action committee. We have it from a solid source that RPAC is one of the groups involved in the recall process being pursued against Councilor Mautino and myself.

5. John Gray has been a vocal critic of the city's efforts to fenceline the Berryhill area west of Tulsa. The development in question is within the area being considered by the administration to be placed within Tulsa's fenceline. However, it is currently within Tulsa County's jurisdiction, and any actions to support the extension of sewer services falls within Commissioner Miller's auspices.

Some more facts:

I have met on at least two occasions with Mr. Gray and Mr. Simpson to discuss his needs. I have spoken with Paul Zachary of Public Works on numerous occasions and to see if there was something that the city could do both within Mr. Simpson's timeline and the limitations of the city's current budget and plans.

I also spoke several months ago, with both Mayor LaFortune and Commissioner Miller to see if they would like to meet with Mr. Gray and Mr. Simpson. I left it in both the Mayor's and the Commissioner's court to set such a meeting up.

I invited Mr. Simpson to Public Works Committee to make the other councilors aware of Mr. Simpson's dilemma and to point to him as an example of how our current city policies favor large developers over small developers and as an example of the need to direct city water and sewer services to Tulsan's first, before prioritizing suburban development. (Note: My concern for Mr. Simpson as to the latter item is for a proposed development he is pursuing in the Mountain Manor area within the current city limits).

It would be inconsistent on my part to state that Mr. Simpson's project, lying outside of the city limits and outside our fenceline should be given priority over projects within areas of the current city limits and fenceline. Mr. Gray has been around long enough to realize that Tulsa County was the proper entity to champion this project.

I am therefore led to emphasize my belief that Mr. Gray's criticisms are driven by his involvement with those rogue elements of the development community that are putting their personal financial interests above the greater good of the city.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on October 25, 2004 2:29 AM.

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Who's buying all these big new homes? is the next entry in this blog.

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