"Biggest crock of s--- I've ever seen"

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Quiz question: Which Tulsa City Councilor uttered the above words into an open microphone last Thursday night?

I finally got to see part of Thursday night's Tulsa City Council meeting -- the debate and vote on a resolution directing the City Attorney to defend against any attempt by the county to use eminent domain to take city property for the construction of the Bixby Bridge.

Mayor Bill LaFortune was supposedly on board with the resolution, which was to have his name on it as a participant in the resolution. At the last minute, he decided to pull his name off of the resolution, but rather than face accountability for his decision, he sent Clay Bird, his deputy and chief of staff, to the Council to be his proxy fence straddler. Bird's voice and manner had a quality that will be familiar to any parent who has dealt with a kid who's been caught and is trying to talk his way out of trouble. Bird was sent down to the Council to say that the resolution had strong language that was in the best interest of the city, but the Mayor should have more time to look at it. Of course, the Mayor will have time to look at it now that the Council has passed it -- he has 14 days to decide whether to sign the resolution, making it the official policy of the City of Tulsa, or veto it. But that means making a decision that will offend someone.

During the course of his remarks, Bird stated that the Mayor favors the bridge if the necessary infrastructure improvements can be put in place first. That would mean taking resources away from infrastructure needs in other parts of Tulsa in order to grease the skids for this project. The Mayor's position also ignores the harm that the bridge would do to Tulsa's sales tax base by fueling development in Bixby. As with the Owasso water line, the City of Tulsa's dollars would be used to speed up development in the suburbs, rather than facilitating growth within the city limits. Will development happen in the suburbs anyway? Of course, but should Tulsa allocate its assets to support growth and development within the city limits or outside the city limits? The backers of the recall election certainly hope so.

Given the Mayor's readiness to support long-term cheap water contracts and new water lines for the suburbs and now a bridge to the suburbs, you have to wonder if there's truth to the conjecture that the Mayor traded support on these items for suburban support for a downtown Tulsa arena.

From Bird's comments, to those of Councilors Randy Sullivan and Susan Neal, it was apparent that the intent was to delay any vote on this until after the recall election, in hopes that two votes against the bridge would be gone and replaced with two votes for the bridge. It was interesting that the two councilors with the thinnest margins of victory -- Baker and Martinson -- were unexpectedly absent, perhaps so they wouldn't have to go on record as opposing the resolution and supporting the bridge. Roscoe Turner, who had been on vacation with his wife, made a surprise return and suddenly the resolution went from having four certain votes (Christiansen, Henderson, Mautino, Medlock) to five, enough to pass.

All the councilors supporting the resolution did a fine job in speaking and in questioning Bird, but Jack Henderson was especially good at getting right to the point.

Randy Sullivan voted to support the resolution, probably to give himself the chance to move to reconsider the motion at the meeting following the recall election. Sullivan barely uttered a single complete and coherent sentence during his comments. I can remember a time in college when I was exhausted, probably from staying up all night to finish a paper, but still kept an appointment to tutor a graduate student in calculus. I tried to bluff my way through the session but could barely keep my eyes open. I fooled myself into thinking I succeeded, but I must have sounded completely goofy. I thought of that as I watched and listened to Randy Sullivan. He was obviously impaired -- lack of sleep, surely -- but he was trying to hide the fact and no doubt felt he was succeeding.

Susan Neal tried to finesse by "abstaining", but Council Attorney Drew Rees reminded her that by state law, an abstention is effectively a "no" vote. She dropped the pretense and voted "no" on the emergency clause.

Now to answer the question at the beginning of this article: During the course of Council discussion, Chris Medlock spoke, and as he finished he said that if he went down in Tuesday's recall election, he would go down proudly knowing that he stood for the hundreds of citizens who had gathered in opposition to the bridge. As the audience responded with applause, Randy Sullivan said, "Biggest crock of s--- I've ever seen." On the video, you can see Susan Neal, who was presiding as vice chairman, gesture to Sullivan to remind him that his microphone was still live. Medlock's response to Sullivan: "Who's toast now?"


Sean said:

This is from the council "aid" as I question why district 5 was not at the meeting...

"Councilor Martinson was at a family reunion all last week. The reunion was scheduled before the Councilor took office and he notified all Councilors of his absence in a memo dated June 24th. This was the first regular, 6:00 PM City Council meeting that Councilor Martinson was unable to attend.

If you have any further questions, feel free to contact us."


James Weigant
City of Tulsa
Council Administrative Aide

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on July 10, 2005 10:23 PM.

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