About that TMAPC story

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Since the Whirled quoted me without asking -- don't worry, I won't sue -- I'll quote the Whirled, from this morning's paper:

Considering his harshest Republican critics for city posts is coincidental to Thursday's GOP endorsements of him, Mayor Bill LaFortune insisted Friday.

LaFortune may recommend Michael Bates for the city's planning commission, and he's considering Chris Medlock and Terry Simonson for city hall jobs.

Bates, Medlock and Simonson, all Republicans, have lambasted LaFortune and his policies.

Medlock, who was a serious mayoral challenger in the Republican primary, endorsed LaFortune on Thursday during a news conference, generating speculation that he had cut a deal with LaFortune.

After his endorsement, Medlock said if offered a job, he'd consider it.

By Friday morning, the names of Medlock, Bates and Simonson were being tossed about on talk radio and local blog sites as having possibly been offered posts.

LaFortune said Friday afternoon that "no promises" had been made for the three men in exchange for their support.

Such a promise would violate state law.

But there have been discussions all week about the endorsements and changes in his administration, LaFortune said.

Friday morning, Bates wrote on his blog site in defense of Medlock's endorsement, saying "there are no guarantees that LaFortune will follow through on his commitment to clean house and change his way, but there are some things he could do right away to show that he is in earnest about change. Foremost is to pull the reappointments of (Mary) Hill and (Brandon) Jackson to the TMAPC (Tulsa Metropolitan Area Planning Commission) and appoint some neighborhood/new urbanist minded replacements."

LaFortune said he did withdraw Hill's reappointment on Thursday, but not because of Bates. He said he wants to bring new people on board.

LaFortune admitted, however, that he has had discussion with Medlock about replacing Hill with Bates, saying "that may very well be my final decision."

He stressed Hill has served the city well on the commission.

There's more, but I'll stop there.

I was in a teleconference Wednesday afternoon with LaFortune, Medlock, and a few others. The focus was not on what it would take to get Medlock's endorsement, but what it would take for LaFortune to win back the confidence and the votes of Republicans who voted for Medlock and Miller in the primary. LaFortune reiterated his public statement that he intended to do a top-to-bottom review of his administration after the election.

I made the same point that I had already made on the radio -- promises of change after the election would not persuade Miller and Medlock supporters to vote for LaFortune. Endorsements would not persuade them to vote for LaFortune. He would have to take some credible, tangible actions before election day as an earnest, to show the voters that he means business. Since he's mayor now, he doesn't have to wait until after the election to take action.

No jobs were requested and no jobs were promised during this conversation. Not even a hint, a wink, or a "nudge, nudge, say no more." As the Whirled's story notes, and as LaFortune noted a couple of times in the discussion, that would be a violation of Oklahoma laws against bribery. Even if it were legal, the promise of a job after the election wouldn't be credible -- there would be no recourse if such a promise were broken.

We discussed a number of meaningful steps that LaFortune could take now. One of them had to do with two seats on the TMAPC that are up for appointment. Mary Hill and Brandon Jackson, both first appointed by Susan Savage in the late '90s, had been renominated and were scheduled for the March 28th Council committee meeting. LaFortune could withdraw those names and replace them with appointees who are neighborhood-oriented and knowledgeable about zoning and planning.

Medlock suggested three names to LaFortune. One of those names was mine. LaFortune balked. I left that meeting figuring nothing would come of it.

On Thursday, Medlock told me he had had further discussions with the Mayor. He told me that I needed to prepare a resumé, which he would take to the Mayor's office. I did so. (To clarify: It was an overview of my civic involvement pertinent to service on the planning commission, not an employment resumé. including my service on a couple of ad hoc city committees dealing with zoning, infill, and redevelopment, and my service as an officer in the Midtown Coalition of Neighborhood Associations. People who are considered for board or commission appointments are asked to submit a list of qualifications, which the Mayor's office sends on to the Council when making an appointment.)

So far, LaFortune has not told me that he intends to appoint me or not to appoint me. The Council committee agendas which were posted late Friday afternoon didn't have the reappointment of Hill or Jackson on the agenda, nor did they have any other name on the agenda for a TMAPC appointment. I haven't heard a thing from LaFortune or his people.

And that's where it stands.

By the way, being a planning commissioner doesn't pay a dime -- no salary, no benefits, no expenses. I don't think you even get free City Hall parking for the meetings.

It would be a burden and an inconvenience in some ways, but I have wanted to serve on the TMAPC for a long time, to help make our system of land use regulation work better for all Tulsans.

With a new comprehensive plan in the works and with both major mayoral candidates expressing support for form-based codes, this would be an especially fruitful time to serve on the TMAPC. The TMAPC will have a role in guiding the comprehensive plan update process. If the decision is made to make the transition from use-based to form-based codes, the TMAPC will have to find a way to make sure the transition process respects the investments that homeowners and other property owners have made under our city's current approach to land-use regulation. I think I'd do a fine job, and I would bring a lot of subject-matter knowledge and procedural knowledge to the table

I have not yet endorsed LaFortune for re-election. I won't until I see him take the kinds of bold, tangible actions I mentioned above, to show that he is serious about a fresh start in a second term. But if he does what he needs to do, I won't really need to make an endorsement; his actions will speak for themselves.

UPDATE: I've submitted the following as part of my column in this week's Urban Tulsa Weekly. It will be out Wednesday, but I thought the following needed to be said now:

Chris Medlock and I, among others, have told LaFortune that promises of change won't be enough. He has to take actions before the election that are bold enough to satisfy skeptical voters that he is in earnest.

One idea that was floated by Medlock was nominating me this week to the Tulsa Metropolitan Area Planning Commission (TMAPC) to fill one of two current vacancies. It would demonstrate LaFortune's openness to new approaches to land-use regulation, would put a strong voice for neighborhoods on the TMAPC, and would demonstrate LaFortune's independence from the developers, some of whom have an irrational fear of me.

Now I think I would make an excellent planning commissioner, which is an unpaid position. Fifteen years of civic involvement has prepared me for the job. I'd be committed to ensuring that our new Comprehensive Plan and a potential transition to form-based codes would be handled in a way that respects the investments that property owners have made under the current plan and use-based zoning code, while moving us to a system that helps us build the kind of quality of life we want for our city. But to avoid muddying the waters, I've taken my name off the table.

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» LaFortune Not Acting from WynnBlog

Well, if you read my previous post regarding the Tulsa election, you may have thought I was too easy on Medlock for endorsing LaFortune. As I said in that post, I was shocked when I heard the news. What I didn’t put in the post is that I was als... Read More

2 Comments

Dan Hicks said:

Michael,

After skeaking with Ben Faulk last evening, I looked up a definition. INDEPENTENT - free fron the influence and control of others.

In spite of the fact that 58% of republicans rejected Bill LaFortune and voted for someone else in the recent republican primary, some now want us to hold our nose and vote for LaFortune over Kathy Taylor as the lesser of two evils. I would like to remind you that a vote for the lesser of two evils is still a vote for evil!

We are not responsible for the outcome of the election. That is in Godís hands. We are, however, responsible for our own vote. I will be voting for the conservative Independent, Ben Faulk, because voting is about principle, not politics.

Dan Hicks

JThomas said:

Michael- I would be thrilled to have you on the planning commission. Though I don't live in Tulsa, I do live in the county and the TMAPC has almost total control over what happens here in the county, as it rare that anyone appeals to the county commissioners.

To Dan- I greatly admire you for your stand on the many issues, especially that of the zoo idols. However, I think you need to go back and reread what Michael has written. Nowhere does he yet officially endorse voting for LaFortune. I did not read that he told anyone to vote for LaFortune yet.

I have said this once and I will say it again. Though I cannot vote for mayor as I don't live in the city, who wins the mayorial race affects our lives too. I am greatly concerned that all of right wing extremists are getting ready to shoot themselves AGAIN. WHEN WILL WE FINALLY LEARN THAT THE INDEPENDENT CANDIDATE IS GOING TO GET YOU SOMETHING WORSE THAN YOU ALREADY HAVE.

I have listened closely to Mr.Medlock and listened to him again this morning on the radio. If I could vote, I would take another chance on the mayor even though I cannot stand to hear him speak. I don't believe he is evil, only spineless. But, I do think that Kathy Taylor is someone to fear as she hasn't a clue as to how normal people live. I am sure Mr. Faulk (spelling?) is a terrific man, but he does not have the experience needed to fill this position.

Enough said.
Regards,
J.Thomas

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on March 25, 2006 11:50 PM.

Campaigning today for Jim Mautino was the previous entry in this blog.

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