At-large councilors: They're back?

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We're still waiting to see the actual text of the charter amendments proposed by the Tulsa City Council Election Reform Task Force, led by Councilor G. T. Bynum.

In the meantime, the Tulsa Whirled's Janet Pearson used her Sunday, July 4, 2010, column to renew the call for the Whirled's favorite reform idea: at-large councilors.

In 2005, a group called Tulsans for Better Government circulated an initiative petition for a charter change to reduce the number of City Council districts from 9 to 6 and adding three councilors who would be elected citywide. The obvious result (and apparent intention of the idea's supporters) would be to dilute geographical representation in city government and to give a greater voice to those with the money to fund a citywide race.

A grassroots group called Tulsans Defending Democracy, made up of Tulsans across the ideological spectrum and from around the city, emerged to oppose the TBG proposal. If you want to go into depth on the pros and cons of at-large council representation, you'll find plenty of information at the TDD website, including the report of the Citizens' Commission on City Government. The commission, convened by then-Mayor Bill LaFortune, emphatically rejected the at-large concept.

Pearson continues to try to sell the line that city council disputes are caused by councilors selfishly pushing for their wards' interests over the interests of the city as a whole. In reality, the current debate is over a citywide issue, just as the disputes of 2004 and 2005 were. Back then the debates had to do with land use and suburban development and Great Plains Airlines; today the dispute has to do with budget cuts and public safety unions. Ward politics has nothing to do with it.

More later.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on July 6, 2010 6:24 AM.

Voters' guide? What's it worth to you? was the previous entry in this blog.

Fallin plans lobbyist meet, skips grassroots event and forums is the next entry in this blog.

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