Picking at a scab

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We thought the matter was settled. Three Republican councilors -- Sam Roop, Chris Medlock, and Jim Mautino -- signed a letter to Mayor Bill LaFortune saying that under no circumstances would they approve the reappointment of Jim Cameron and Lou Reynolds to the Tulsa Metropolitan Utility Authority (TMUA) -- Tulsa's water board. Just over three months ago, the Council rejected their reappointment, and the city establishment reacted with outrage and fury, which made ordinary citizens wonder what the big deal was. The reaction reminded some people of the defensive behavior of a guilty husband caught in an affair. My wife thought the word "apoplectic" was a good fit for the Cockroach Caucus's reaction. The uproar reminded me of the scene from "The Wizard of Oz" when Dorothy pours water on the Wicked Witch, and she shrieks, "I'm melting!"

After weeks of contention, the Mayor had finally committed to nominate two replacements, but before he got around to it, Sam Roop went to the Mayor and said that he no longer had any objection to Cameron and Reynolds being reappointed, and encouraged the Mayor to put their names back before the Council.

So here we are again, and thanks to Mr. Roop, the nominations are on this morning's Public Works Committee agenda at 8 a.m. We will almost certainly see the renominations approved, and the Tulsa Whirled will take the opportunity to praise him for his maturity and judgment and at the same time beat up the other four Reform Alliance councilors. The "injury" caused by the contention was healing nicely, and city officials were moving forward, when Councilor Roop ripped the scab off and reopened the wound.

The issue at the heart of the renomination dispute was whether our water board's policy is in the best interest of the City of Tulsa and its citizens. Are the suburbs paying the costs of extending water service to them? Are the suburbs paying a fair rate for our water? Are our water policies fueling suburban sprawl to the detriment of the City's sales tax base? These questions were raised at a Budget Committee meeting later on the same day (July 27, 2004) that Cameron's and Reynolds' renominations were before the Public Works Committee. Here are the online minutes for that Budget Committee meeting:

1. Discussion with Public Works/Environmental Operations and representatives from TMUA Board with emphasis on planning and decision making processes (including unserved areas within the City limits) and calculation of return on investment. 04-411

Discussion or Action At Meeting:

Discussion of this item lasted for more than an hour. Mr. Cameron made a presentation on TMUA and it policies. TMUA has a plan for this decade and the next decade that is demand driven, that is they have decided to take certain actions as demand dictate. There is a process for making service averrable to unserved areas in the City. it is not TMUA's policy to provide the individual development or entitiy with service, they provide major lines only. Those lines are usually a reaction to not an impetus for development. Wholesale customers pay the City at least a ten percent return on applicable investment to date and on investment expected to occur in the next five years. The rate model is the same for all outside customers.

More than one Councilor expressed concern over the City’s present rate of development relative to surrounding communities and the role of water and sewer in this process. Considerable discussion ensued with he eventual conclusion that this topic needs more discussion.

Instead of allowing the Council time to study and discuss the issue with TMUA, the very next day the TMUA voted to authorize extending a water line to the suburb of Bixby. It was a slap in the face of the citizens of Tulsa, through our elected representatives, by making this commitment so quickly after several council members raised concerns.

The only means the Council has to ensure that a board or authority is implementing the will of the people is at reappointment time. The highhanded TMUA action on July 28 required a strong response from the Council, not passive acquiescence.

I am disappointed in Sam Roop's decision to go back on his commitment to oppose these nominations. Like his apology to then City Attorney Martha Rupp Carter in 2002, Roop's pulling back in this case will fuel the Cockroach Caucus' attacks on Roop's colleagues. In 2002, that situation killed the reelection hopes of Roscoe Turner and Todd Huston, and it nearly lost the election for Roop. The apology gave the newspaper a reason to hammer these councilors over and over again. Roop's decision plays right into the hands of the groups actively seeking to remove Councilors Mautino and Medlock in a recall.

Sam Roop has done a lot of good things and taken some bold stands in his time on the Council. Reopening this wound isn't one of them.

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Councilor Sam Roop (e-mail dist5@tulsacouncil.org) is set to reverse a lot of effort of the Reform Alliance of Five City Councilors who, with his support, have declined to confirm the Mayor’s reappointment of Jim Cameron and Lou Reynolds to the... Read More

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on November 9, 2004 2:03 AM.

Time for an adjustment was the previous entry in this blog.

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