Report on Bartlett Jr, Simonson, and the JAG grant online
The investigative report commissioned by the Tulsa City Council regarding Mayor Dewey F. Bartlett Jr. and Chief of Staff Terry Simonson is now online at the tulsacouncil.org website. The investigation concerned statements made by Bartlett Jr and Simonson regarding a particular Federal grant (JAG) that might be used to prevent or reduce the number of police layoffs. The Council forwarded the report to the city prosecutor without recommending for or against prosecution for the misdemeanor of making false statements to the City Council.
I have skimmed the report. I don't know if or when I'll have time to read and analyze this 90-page report in depth. From what I read, my sense is that the new administration was wrestling with the complex terms and conditions of this Federal program to ensure that Tulsa would not be penalized for applying the funds in violation of Federal law.
Compliance with Federal regs is a big deal. Recall that Tulsa was penalized to the tune of $1.5 million in 2008 by the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for the city's failure to supervise Tulsa Development Authority's use of Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds and scolded again by HUD in 2009. In 2004 the U. S. Department of Transportation's Inspector General labeled the plan to use passenger service fees to cover, indirectly, the default of Great Plains Airlines as a "misuse of airport funds". In a separate report, the DOT OIG also "found instances where the Tulsa Airport Authority's procurements of professional services, which were funded by the Airport Improvement Program, did not adhere to FAA's required competitive-selection procedures... conflicts of interest on the part of former authority officials, poor recordkeeping by the authority."
Thinking about this in moral, rather than legal, terms (because I haven't studied the specific terms of the JAG grant): If the purpose of a Federal grant is to increase the number of police officers, taking the grant and leaving the TPD headcount the same would amount to diverting the grant to fund other city departments, since money is fungible. It would make sense for the Federal grant to come with certain conditions to prevent that sort of misuse.
Deliberate deception by one branch of government of another is a serious matter and ought to result in some sort of penalty. I'm not convinced that that is what occurred in this case, although I am open to persuasion based on the facts presented in this report.
Lest anyone think I'm being spun by the Mayor's office or regurgitating their talking points, it should be obvious to long-time BatesLine readers that there's no love lost between me and the Bartlett Jr Administration. I've not been contacted by anyone in the Mayor's Office since Bartlett Jr's inauguration nor have I made any effort to contact anyone in the administration.
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