Dissin' Terry


Just got word that City Hall has confirmed the rumored staff moves I reported earlier: Mayor Bill LaFortune is appointing City Councilor Sam Roop as Chief Administrative Officer, and Mayoral aide Clay Bird will become Chief of Staff. There's one additional bit of information: Fire Chief Allen LaCroix will do double duty as Chief Operating Officer. Good men all, but the Mayor seems to have stuck to one of his guiding principles: Don't hire anyone who could outshine you. He missed a chance to add energy, ideas, and experience to his administration, and in the process may have permanently alienated a key ally.

The biggest surprise for many City Hall observers is that Terry Simonson was not named to one of these key posts in the Mayor's office. The buzz for a couple of months was that Simonson, who had served under the two previous Republican mayors (Jim Inhofe and Dick Crawford), would be brought on board to try to bring some focus and direction to the last year of Bill LaFortune's term. Some say that the push to put Simonson on the Mayor's staff was coming from Terry's old boss, Sen. Jim Inhofe. (Folks who heard Inhofe's appearance on Thursday's Michael DelGiorno Show remarked that he was unusually willing to comment -- and not in a positive way -- on city matters, a topic he usually sidesteps. The subtext to his comments might well be expressed by this Walt Kelly poem.)

Although a lot of folks had qualms with his coziness with former City Councilor and Chamber-Pot-in-Chief John Benjamin during his 2002 campaign for mayor, people know that Simonson has done some serious thinking about how City Hall ought to be run and how to make city government more efficient and effective. His thoughtfulness is evident in his many op-eds for Urban Tulsa Weekly and on his own website in the during his last run for Mayor. Although I don't always agree with him on policy, there's no doubt in my mind that his presence on the Mayor's team would have been a good thing for the city and a good thing for Bill LaFortune. Had LaFortune been wise, he would have found a way to get Terry on his staff from the first day of his administration.

Instead of being offered a key role on the 11th Floor, there's a rumor that Simonson has been offered the job of interim airports director, which brings with it the thankless task of cleaning up the mess left by Brent Kitchen and the Savage administration. In that position, he'd be based out at Tulsa International Airport, well out of the City Hall loop.

Meanwhile, some folks are asking if there is some connection between Sam Roop's new job and his reversal on the reappointment of Jim Cameron and Lou Reynolds to the Tulsa Metropolitan Utility Board. It's hard to imagine that the Mayor would have hired him if he had stuck with his initial "no" vote.

(I wish I could claim credit for the headline, but it's by another amateur punster from Tulsa.)

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on February 11, 2005 8:56 PM.

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