Tulsa city charter amendments on Thursday council agenda

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This Thursday night the City Charter amendment process comes to its biennial conclusion Thursday as the City Council votes on whether to send seven proposed amendments to the voters at next April's general city election.

Here in a nutshell are the changes -- links will bring up a PDF of the proposed amendment from the Tulsa City Council website:

  1. Specify state law as the basis for determining whether someone is a "qualified elector" for the purpose of running or voting for city office
  2. Four-year councilor terms, coinciding with mayoral terms
  3. Moving city elections to the fall of odd-numbered years
  4. Three-year staggered terms for city councilors
  5. Appointive City Auditor
  6. Non-partisan elections
  7. Pegging councilor salaries to one-half of the mayor's salary

I've been a supporter of fall elections in odd numbered years for a long time. It puts the vote when people expect an election, it gives candidates longer days and better weather for going door-to-door to meet the voters, and it puts newly elected officials in office with six months to find their feet before a budget is due, rather than one month.

The only other proposal that should be sent to the voters is clarifying the definition of qualified elector to match state law.

Although I like the idea of Minneapolis-style multipartisan elections with instant runoff voting, the current proposal for non-partisan elections creates as many problems as it fixes. It should and probably will be defeated on Thursday.

Council terms should be kept to two years for the sake of accountability to the voters. And while I'm sympathetic to the amount of hours councilors put into their jobs, and I think some of our best councilors have been those who were either retired or self-employed and could devote almost full time to being a councilor, I suspect that something would change for the worse if we paid full-time salaries.

Our city auditor should remain an elective office. Right now, the auditor is independent of all other officials and is directly accountable to the voters. The proposed change would make the auditor unaccountable to the voters and at least indirectly dependent on the mayor, who would appoint all members of the committee that would choose the auditor.

UPDATE 2007/11/30: The City Councilors agreed with me -- or at least a majority did on each issue. They approved the fall elections and the clarification of the definition of qualified elector.

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XonOFF said:

As defined, the Mayor's appointments to a new Auditing Committee would actually have more power than the Auditor since they can dismiss the Auditor, and do everything else the Auditor does. As the World stated, "oversee the Auditor". IOW, an auditor of the auditor, and all appointed by the Mayor. Where's the checks and balances?

If the Mayor needs another accountant, let her pay for one and hire them. Don't remove entirely citizens' oversight of City economics.

This proposal is a gross, overt attempt to usurp another aspect of public involvement.

RecycleMichael said:

I completely agree with you on each of your points.

Did Hell just freeze over?

s said:

Henderson wants a 200% pay raise and for voters to decide?

There are City Councilors that "serve" for nothing. Those wishing for the job knew the salary before getting elected.

That's like someone applying for a job and then complaining of the work requirements and expecting a huge raise.

XonOFF said:

Raises of this type, by Oklahoma Law, cannot become active until after the next election. It will not apply to the current set of Councilors (unless, and until they are re-elected next time).

I'd question if Councilor pay can be tied to the Mayor's pay since the Council can adjust the Mayor's pay without a public vote, effectively adjusting their own at the time.

s said:

I am glad that Roscoe Turner and Henderson failed tonight in trying to increase their salary as Tulsa City Councilors to almost $60,000.00 a year. They need to just do their job or leave.

They don't need to be meddling. If they don't like the salary, they should quit and allow someone else to have those positions.

Like any job, they should not have applied if they did not agree with the pay or the work.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on November 27, 2007 5:59 AM.

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