Mayoral responses to the Urban Tulsa Weekly questionnaire

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Since these haven't yet been posted on the UTW website, I'll post them here:


Below are the responses submitted by Bill LaFortune to the Urban Tulsa Weekly questionnaire. Democrat nominee Kathy Taylor and Independent candidate Benford L. Faulk did not submit replies.

Paul Tay submitted his reply prior to the primary, and did not respond to the opportunity to reply to the two additional questions (11 and 12) added to the general election questionnaire. You can read Tay's response, which includes his proposed cabinet, a couple of vulgarities, and a lengthy digression about the deflation of his erstwhile inflatable companion, on his blog.

The City Council website has details about the six charter amendments, including ballot language and the changes to the charter text for each. UTW endorses passage of all six.

For more information about the candidates, has links to all the candidate websites, a printable "tournament bracket" for the city elections, and audio of the mayoral forum sponsored by TulsaNow and Arts and Humanities Council of Tulsa. David Schuttler�s Our Tulsa World blog has video from many Mayoral and Council candidate forums.

Homeowners for Fair Zoning has posted their endorsements in the City Council races and on the charter amendments.

Here's the complete BatesLine archive of entries about Election 2006.

The Tulsa Whirled is making its archive of Election 2006 stories available outside their firewall. Sumite cum grano salis.

To look up your district and polling place and to see sample ballot images, visit the Tulsa County Election Board website.

Other UTW election resources:

Click the "continue reading" link to see LaFortune's questionnaire responses.

The Questionnaire

1. Suppose the City has $20 million dollars available to build new water and sewer lines. Your choices are to use that money to build new water lines to the suburbs, to build water and sewer mains to undeveloped parts of Tulsa that have been in the city limits for 40 years and still lack city utilities (making it more affordable for developers to build new subdivisions), or to increase capacity and replace lines in parts of Tulsa where the old lines are inadequate. How would you allocate the money among these priorities? Explain your choice.

LaFortune (R): I would allocate the 20 million dollars evenly among two of these priorities: Building water and sewer mains to underdeveloped parts of Tulsa and increasing capacity and replacing inadequate, older lines in parts of Tulsa. These should be the priorities as we must take care of our city first. I would support using these types of monies for building new water lines to the suburbs only when it could be proven by a thorough and well-based economic analysis that these new water lines would provide revenues in an amount that would actually lower water bills for the citizens of our city.

2. By a 5-4 vote the U. S. Supreme Court said it's constitutional for a city to condemn private property in order to let some other private entity have it for their own use. The Oklahoma legislature plans to limit this use of eminent domain, and the Tulsa City Council has approved a one-year moratorium on this type of condemnation. What limits should be placed on the government's eminent domain powers? Under what circumstances is the use of eminent domain abusive?

LaFortune (R): I would never support the use of eminent domain as it was used in the facts of the U.S. Supreme Court case referenced. Eminent domain should not be used to take private property for other private purposes. The sole exception would be if the property were condemned for human habitation and was a blight on the neighborhood, being used for drug or criminal activity and the owner refused to take remedial actions.

3. Thinking of the current members of the City Council, whose work as a member of the Council do you most admire, and why? (If you are a sitting councilor, pick someone other than yourself.)

LaFortune (R): [Did not respond.]

4. There's a measure of neighborhood livability called the "popsicle test" -- "An eight-year-old in the neighborhood should be able to bike to a store to buy a Popsicle without having to battle highway-size streets and freeway-speed traffic." Most Tulsa neighborhoods don't pass this test, and every trip to the store requires the use of a car. Do you think this is a problem, and if so, what would you propose to do about it?

LaFortune (R): If we could have more neighborhoods that pass the "popsicle test" we would have an even greater city. For example on Peoria as the street improvements have been constructed, we have new sidewalks. We have resolved as a city government to review and update our Comprehensive Plan. Such updates should address infill development and the inclusion of live, work, and play neighborhoods which fairly balance all of the competing interests.

5. Tulsa's homicide rate is twice the national average, and our violent crime rate is 1.83 times the national average. Police investigative units are shorthanded, and the street crimes unit has been disbanded. The suburbs pay their police officers better than Tulsa does. What should the city do to fix this? Where should the city get the money to fix this?

LaFortune (R): Crime is cyclical and is a complex issue with a multifaceted solution. If you look at the 1993 statistics you will find that Tulsa had more violent crime than in 2005. However, we must attach crime on several fronts. First, more police officers and more task forces directed at street crimes. Second, maximizing the resources we currently have. Third, expanding prevention efforts such as citizen crime commission programs. The Tulsa police department said in a staffing report in 2004 that its manpower goal was 2.0 officers per 1000 population. We will be at that goal next month. We will be at 2.1 officers per 1000 in May. With another large police academy scheduled for July we will continue to have sufficient manpower to get the job done. We have done all of this within our current budgetary constraints. With Tulsa�s economy booming according to all of the experts, future retail sales tax revenues should be sufficient to address manpower and wage issues for police officers. We will also plan a public safety summit within 90 days into my next term to further address citizens' concerns.

6. The Brookside neighborhood infill plan calls for design guidelines to ensure that new residential and commercial development is compatible with existing development, to preserve the character of the neighborhood. Right now, these design guidelines don't have the force of law. Many cities, including Oklahoma City, have special neighborhood conservation districts in which design guidelines become part of the zoning code. Would you support doing this in Tulsa? If not, what would you do to preserve the character of Tulsa's traditional urban neighborhoods while allowing for new development?

LaFortune (R): [Did not respond.]

7. Some say that there should be at least one part of Tulsa that is truly urban, where it is possible to live, work, and shop without having to own a car. Do you agree, and if so, what should the city do to help make it happen?

LaFortune (R): I absolutely agree. I believe that downtown offers the best opportunity. The city is working with the private sector to make this urban offering a reality. Kaufman and Kanbar brought their 140 million dollar investment in downtown because of vision 2025 and other investment will follow.

8. In 2008, Tulsa will host the National Preservation Conference, the annual meeting of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Meanwhile, downtown buildings continue to be demolished and paved over for parking. Downtown Tulsa is on Preservation Oklahoma's most endangered list. Does this embarrass you? What should the city do to ensure that there are still some historic buildings around when the preservationists come to town in two years?

LaFortune (R): The city should take a strong stand with those private owners of historic building that are threatened. The city must have dialogue with those owners, something that did not occur during the prior administration. Recently, we saw success by using this methodology.

9. Some have called for adding "sexual orientation" to the list of protected classes in the City of Tulsa's human rights ordinance (Title 5, Chapter 1). Would you support or oppose such a move?

LaFortune (R): I would oppose such a move. Sexual preference does not mandate special privilege and does not rise to the level of classes deserving of protection such as race, religious beliefs, gender or age.

10. Each year, Tulsa gets a chunk of money from the Federal Government called Community Development Block Grants (CDBG), which it distributes to local non-profits for various projects. In the past, some controversial groups have asked for CDBG funds for non-controversial purposes. Supposing the local chapter of Planned Parenthood, which engages in abortion rights lobbying at the State Capitol and refers clients to abortion providers, sought CDBG funding for their pediatrics clinic. Would you support or oppose such funding, and why?

LaFortune (R): I would oppose such funding. I have always been and am pro-life and would never be involved in the city financially supporting organizations which are engaged in any type of abortion activity.

11. Of the six charter amendments on the April 4 ballot, which do you support, which do you oppose, and why?

LaFortune (R): [Did not respond.]

12. Does the third-penny sales tax renewal package (on the May 9 ballot) reflect your spending priorities? Do you plan to support or oppose the package? If it passes, in what ways would you seek to modify the package?

LaFortune (R): I support the package. The city has a four billion dollar backlog of capital needs which has been identified over the past several years. Our general obligation bonds and third-penny sales tax extensions are our only funding sources to address this backlog. Both are limited in funding capacity. There are needs across the city. There is no perfect package the may 9 package is balanced as well as it can be, given the vast array of needs. If it passes, it cannot be modified without a number of public hearing and city council action. I would not seek any modifications.


Dan Hicks said:


I realize that you are trying to salvage a bad situation by supporting LaFortune, but I dont want you to get soiled in the process. Consider what Lafortune and his staff did just last Thursday. They offered pay raises to the F.O.P. in exchange for flipping their endorsement from Kathy Taylor to LaFortune. We used to have a name for that, its called a BRIBE! I am glad the F.O.P. president rejected the bribe with an emphatic, There is no way in ... we are going to do that!

Bill has lost his way. From first releasing the SWAT team report and then the Hagedorn report to the media and now this offer of pay raises for an F.O.P. endorsement, LaFortune is stepping up to and may possibly have crossed the line of legality.

I believe God raises up leaders and brings them down. Bill LaFortune was entrusted with the authority to lead our city. He abused that trust and his removal from office may be required. If Kathy Taylor is elected on Tuesday, we should not panic, because we know that God has allowed it.

Knowing that God is in control of the outcome of this election, I am casting the only vote my conscience will allow. I am voting for Ben Faulk.

Dan Hicks

P.S. Thank you so much for all the work you do providing this website. This week is the first time I have posted comments. I appreciate your desire to educating us about city government. We may not always agree, but I know your heart is in the right place.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on April 2, 2006 8:06 PM.

KOTV Mayoral Debate online was the previous entry in this blog.

Dick on bickering, role of the auditor is the next entry in this blog.

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