"President" of Terry Simonson "fan club" to investigate favoritism allegations

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Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett Jr has appointed two committees to look into allegations that Chief of Staff Terry Simonson used his position to get his son a slot in the Tulsa Fire Department applicant pool and to use the department's practice facility without authorization.

The list of names -- three on each committee -- is interesting, and one in particular stands out to me.

From Fox 23:

Sources in Mayor Bartlett's office say Bartlett will assemble an internal and external committee to determine two things: was there any undo influence used? And, can criteria for selection for testing for firefighter academies be improved?

Monday, the Mayor's office announced that the external committee will include Jody Parker, a Tulsa businessman; Robert Gardner, former city councilor; and Stanley Glanz, Tulsa County Sheriff. The internal committee will include Erica Felix-Warwick, Human Resources Personnel Director; Vickie Beyer, Management Review Office Director; and Doug Woods, Training Officer for Tulsa Fire Department.

Vickie Beyer is the head of the office tasked with implementation of the KPMG report. Her name turns up frequently in a large collection of emails to and from Terry Simonson, obtained in response to an Open Records Act request. (I do not know who made the original request. The response to the request was forwarded to me by a third party some months ago.)

The impression from the tone of the emails is that Beyer and Simonson have a great deal of regard for one another, purely professional respect, no doubt, but it raises the question: Can Beyer investigate a matter involving Terry Simonson with sufficient objectivity?

Here's one exchange from November 2010 (pages 199-203 of the PDF linked below). I've ordered the emails sequentially and formatted them for the web, but they are otherwise unedited from the versions as released by the open records custodian:

From: Beyer, Vickie
Sent: Saturday, November 06, 2010 7:49 PM
To: Simonson, Terry
Subject: Relationship with TMUA

Jim Cameron really wants to talk to the Mayor about the hiring of the Chief Technology Officer. I understand interviews are Monday, but Jim's meeting with the Mayor is not untilt Wednesday. It would be if the Mayor doesn't announce his decision until after he has met Jim.

From: Simonson, Terry [tsimonson@cityoftulsa.org]
Sent: Saturday, November 06, 2010 8:35 PM
To: Beyer, Vickie
Subject: RE: Relationship with TMUA

We know about their issue. Heard it from Sevenoaks and Hudson It was a perfect intro for me to ask them they why they don't try competition for IT services and how could anyone say there is nothing in their operations that needs improvement? I don't think Jim is seeing the full picture where our project can be m of help to them. He thinks things are fine yet has issues with the city support services. I don't think a decision will be made that quickly but he needs to starting thinking that maybe our project can answer his concerns

Guess you work like me.

From: Beyer, Vickie
Sent: Saturday, November 06, 2010 8:41 PM
To: Simonson, Terry
Subject: Re: Relationship with TMUA

I think we'll get there. I just want to guard the relationships until we do.

Not as prolific as you are - but always thinking!

From: Simonson, Terry [tsimonson@cityoftulsa.org]
Sent: Saturday, November 06,20108:46 PM
To: Beyer, Vickie
Subject: RE: Relationship with TMUA

I too want to keep the relationships. I think you are my countweight: because after 20 years being a courtroom lawyer and advocate, I take my cause or my client the whole distance and to the mat when I believe in them. That can be a little overwhelming to some folks who aren't used to a relentless advocate but I don't like to lose But there is a place for the kinder gentler approach which I can show at times. Just remind me once in awhile.

From: Beyer, Vickie
Sent: Sunday, November 07, 2010 8:37 PM
To: Simonson, Terry
Subject: Re: Relationship with TMUA

It's part of my job as president of the fan club!

From: Simonson, Terry [tsimonson@cityoftulsa.org)
Sent: Sunday, November 07,2010 6:19 PM
To: Beyer, Vickie
Subject: RE: Relationship with TMUA

Thank you Ms. President.

Simonson also holds Beyer in high regard, and this email from December 27, 2010, suggests that he may have had some influence in her obtaining her current position as head of the Management Review Office (page 34 of the PDF of emails linked below):

From: Simonson, Terry [tsimonson@cityoftulsa.org]
Sent: Monday, December 27,2010 1:30 PM
To: Doerflinger, Preston; Michael Brink
Cc: Jeff Stava
Subject: RE: Visit Schedule


This for this update. Since I sent to you the organization chart of the MRO which was established this past fall, we have discussed some possible personnel changes. The Mayor, Preston, and I believe we need to have a manager in charge of the MRO. At this point Preston and I do the best we can on a limited basis but its clear more day to day oversight is needed. We seem to be in agreement that the person currently on staff best fit for this role is Vickie Beyer. You met her when you were here. Vickie, who is a CPA, has 13 years of management experience with the city and truly grasps what we are trying to do. She is extremely competent and dedicated. One of the other staffers, Cathy Criswell, may be returning to direct our Risk Management Department. Cathy, who is also a CPA, was the risk manager before we moved her to the MRO. Cathy and I have discussed this change. These changes we would plan in January. That would leave, in the MRO, Vickie, Kelly Brader who moved to the MRO from Preston's internal auditing department and is fitting into the MRO very well and like Vickie is extremely competent, and Lydia Bracken.

Look forward to seeing you soon.



Download the emails: Terry Simonson emails, November 1, 2010, through January 5, 2011, 232 page PDF file (5 MB)

KOTV: Two Tulsa city officials on paid leave over favoritism allegations

KJRH: Mayor puts city leaders on paid administrative leave

An interesting detail in the KJRH story:

2NEWS put in an open records request for the emails between fire administrators regarding Ryan Simonson almost three weeks ago. We only just received them Monday [September 26, 2011].

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on September 28, 2011 12:24 AM.

Mitch Daniels to headline OCPA Tulsa gala, October 6, 2011 was the previous entry in this blog.

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