Justis undone


Former District 6 City Councilor Art Justis was caught removing campaign signs belonging to his successor, Jim Mautino, who beat Justis two years ago in a stunning grass-roots-driven upset. A police report has been filed. (And Bobby has created a "wanted" poster.) Justis signed the recall petition against Mautino last summer.

As someone on the OKDemocrat message board pointed out, it's strange that a Democrat (like Justis) would be removing a Republican's signs before a Republican primary, unless he's trying to help Mautino's Republican opponent. That would be Theresa Buchert, wife of assistant Public Works Director Mike Buchert. Theresa Buchert helped Art Justis in his campaign against Jim Mautino two years ago, lending her name to a "Republicans for Justis" newspaper ad. Buchert made a promise not to run against Justis in 2004; he planned to step aside and support her run in 2006. Jim Mautino came along, and District 6 voters decided they were ready right then for strong representation for the district's interests at City Hall.

I have information -- cannot disclose the source, but it is utterly reliable -- that the same forces that are supporting Buchert in the Republican primary are also supporting David Patrick's attempt to defeat incumbent Councilor Roscoe Turner in the District 3 Democratic primary. Responding to Justis' and Buchert's mutual collaboration, Steve Roemerman, a dedicated Republican precinct worker and campaign volunteer, observes: "At the local level, party does not matter. Ideology matters...."

I am also hearing that Buchert supporters are telling District 6 voters that she'll be able to get more done for the district because she's married to the assistant director of Public Works. If I read the City Charter correctly, Theresa won't even be able to tell Mike to take out the trash or take the bus to work, much less which street to fix, if she's elected to the Council. From Article 2, Section 19:

The Council and Councilors shall not give orders to any subordinate of the Mayor, either publicly or privately; provided, the prohibitions of this sentence shall not apply to the City Clerk and the City Attorney. Violation of this Section by any Councilor shall constitute willful maladministration and be sufficient grounds for removal from office as provided by the laws of Oklahoma.

That's serious stuff. The whole point of having a professional civil service is to avoid even the appearance that maintenance and construction of basic infrastructure is subject to political pressure. There's already suspicion that Public Works' actions regarding a sewer main for a new subdivision in east Tulsa had nothing to do with the merits of the project and everything to do with the desire to hand a defeat to Mautino not long before the election.

Jim Mautino is the first real representation District 6 has ever had, and I believe the voters in east Tulsa understand that. Back before the 2004 election, I wrote about Jim Mautino, why I thought he'd be a great councilor, and why it was time to retire Art Justis. I stand by every word I wrote.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on February 5, 2006 12:24 AM.

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