Taylor accuses city councilors of playing politics with stimulus money

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If you missed it, CNN interviewed Tulsa Mayor Kathy Taylor live regarding the $3.5 million in federal stimulus money granted to the city to fund 18 police positions for three years.

The catch: Tulsa would have to provide funding for a fourth year and would also have to find $840,000 to provide equipment for the officers. Taylor is proposing to take the money from the Tulsa Authority for the Recovery of Energy, the trash trust that ran the now-defunct trash-to-energy plant. Taylor told CNN that "we" (the City, evidently) gave TARE $10 million "about 20 years ago."

Off the top of my head, I'd guess the City has given hundreds of millions, via the Third Penny, to fund capital projects for the Tulsa Metropolitan Utility Authority. Maybe some of those funds now for general fund purposes.

Taylor says the fourth year of funding isn't an issues, as we'd have to fund replacements for retiring officers anyway. On the face of it, that doesn't seem like that would meet federal conditions. Wouldn't Tulsa need to maintain the current number of positions through the fourth year? She seems to be saying that it doesn't matter how many officers retire or are let go, as long as we hire 18 more and keep those 18 on staff through the fourth year.

When asked about City Council concerns over whether Tulsa could afford the strings attached to this money, Taylor replied, "I think a few councilors are playing politics with this money." This is Taylor's standard answer when a councilor doesn't bend to her will. But what political gain would come from refusing federal funds for police officers? Why would you risk the political hit from opposing the money unless you felt it was important? Anyway, didn't Taylor eliminate politics from the budget process when she decided not to run for re-election?

(Video posted at My Tulsa World.)

Kathy Taylor's decision to denounce city councilors on a national news network is just one more example of her contempt for the legislative branch of city government. It certainly would be welcome to have a mayor that treated the City Council with due respect, as partners instead of pests.

MORE: Here's Councilor Rick Westcott's interview from last Thursday's Pat Campbell show on why accepting the stimulus money is a bad idea for Tulsa.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on August 4, 2009 7:24 AM.

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