Eagleton rates Tulsa mayor candidates

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John_Eagleton_headshot_2006.JPGMayoral candidates Dewey Bartlett Jr. and Kathy Taylor are "indistinguisable" with regard to policy and the candidates of choice for fans of crony capitalism, while former City Councilor Bill Christiansen "worked harder than a reasonable person would have" on behalf of his constituents and easily reaches across racial, cultural, and political barriers. That's the assessment of former Tulsa City Councilor John Eagleton, who served alongside all three major mayoral candidates during his three terms in office from 2006 to 2011 and spoke to BatesLine recently about the upcoming June 11, 2013, primary.

Taylor, Bartlett public safety boasts "laughable"

Both Taylor and Bartlett, Eagleton said, have supported spending every penny that the city brings in, rather than planning for the future. He said that it was laughable for Bartlett and Taylor to tout their records on public safety. Taylor's unrealistic FY2009-2010 budget and Bartlett's refusal to negotiate with the FOP combined to produce the costly layoffs of 145 police officers during Bartlett's first year in office.

Eagleton also noted that Taylor filed the paperwork to dispute a contract arbitration judgment in favor of the FOP, which would have triggered a citywide special election. Taylor retracted the move after polling showed that the electorate would back the police officers' union.

Eagleton says that both Bartlett and Taylor supported maintaining the current condition of the streets, not fixing them. Eagleton and his council allies pushed for a plan that would move the average Pavement Condition Index from 60 to 70; the Bartlett/Taylor plan only moved the needle by two points.

Bartlett, Taylor taking unwarranted credit

Eagleton also notes that Taylor and Bartlett are fond of taking credit for the accomplishments of other. Bartlett ads mention turning the lights back on the expressways and putting the police helicopters back in the air, but Eagleton points out that these measures were a June 2010 City Council proposal; Bartlett vetoed the plan, but the Council unanimously overrode his veto.

Taylor, meanwhile, takes unwarranted credit for bringing the BOK Center on time and under budget, when neither is true. Eagleton points out that Taylor got the extra money to cover BOK Center overruns thanks to her predecessor, Bill LaFortune, who had the foresight to put in place the mechanism for modifying project allocations included in the Vision 2025 ballot resolutions.

Bill Christiansen's genuine concern for Tulsans

Eagleton is endorsing his former council colleague Bill Christiansen. Christiansen and Eagleton had many disagreements during their time together on the City Council, but Eagleton praised Christiansen for his genuine concern for Tulsa and its citizens. "He devoted hundreds of hours dealing with citizens who had gotten bad answers from City Hall." Christiansen had "two dozen meetings" regarding the controversial Sonoma Grande apartment complex at 81st and Mingo, and Christiansen "did everything he could to find a remedy" for the zoning anomaly that had harmed neighboring homeowners. "Bill worked harder than a reasonable person would have."

"I've seen Bill work with Democrats, Republicans, conservatives, liberals, the well-to-do and people who never will be. I've never seen anyone who reaches across racial and cultural barriers as easily." Christiansen is happy to "show up for no apparent reason and talk with people, even those who can't help him financially or politically."

Kathy Taylor MIA, Dewey Bartlett AWOL

Christiansen's presence with Tulsans of all walks of life brought Eagleton to the topic of Bartlett and Taylor's absence when leadership was needed. He mentioned Taylor being "missing in action" when a minority contractor complained that pages removed from his bid on a BOK Center dirt-hauling contract after it was submitted.

Bartlett, he said, was AWOL on the changes to Tulsa's trash service, which made trash pickup more expensive and less convenient for Tulsans. Bartlett had the power to replace members of the trash board whose terms had expired, but he chose not to do so. Eagleton advised Bartlett that the trash system changes should come before the council because of the public safety ramifications of trash accumulating for a week between pickups. Bartlett ignored the opportunity to subject the trash changes to public scrutiny by elected officials.

Eagleton had been an enthusiastic Bartlett supporter on inauguration day 2009. Bartlett's trouble with the council began when Bartlett and his chief of staff told the council that a federal grant could not be reallocated to prevent police layoffs. This wasn't true -- deputy chiefs had approached Bartlett the day after he was sworn in about using the JAG grant to prevent layoffs -- and the withheld information resulted in a layoff that took 124 officers off the streets. Most were eventually recalled, but 61 officers chose not to come back. The layoff and recall was costly to the city, requiring immediate payment of unused leave and comp time to the laid-off officers.

Dewey Bartlett's ethics violations

In May 2011, the City Auditor's office, led by Bartlett's own appointee, found that Dewey Bartlett Jr had committed two ethics violatations by accepting free personal legal services from an attorney who did legal work under contract to the city, including contract extensions which Bartlett had approved.

Eagleton mentioned the Tulsa Development Authority sale of land across Denver Ave from the BOK Center to a company, led by Taylor's stepson-in-law, for $1.5 million, well below the appraised value of $2.4 million. The TDA agreed to the deal in the closing weeks of Taylor's term as mayor.

Eagleton also noted the downtown ballpark, another Taylor initiative, was effectively not a competitive bidding situation, and that it was twice as expensive as it needed to be. (The ballpark, which was bid to cost $39.2 million to build, could have been funded by the $30 million in donations and lease payments from the Drillers, without needing to resort to an onerous assessment on downtown property owners.)

The common characteristic between Bartlett and Taylor, Eagleton said, is crony capitalism. "If you like crony capitalism, Bartlett and Taylor are your candidates. If you think that people should be treated equally, they might not be your best choice. If you're part of a select group, you want Taylor or Bartlett. These are the sort of people who don't worry about streets or parks."


"Dewey and Kathy agree on a lot"

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Bob said:

Excellent commentary by former Tulsa city councilor John Eagleton. I miss Eagleton's service on our local city council, albeit a cranky, prickly and supercilious one.

When three incumbent Republican city councilors, City Councilor John Eagleton, Rick Westcott, and Bill Christiansen, all decided not to run for re-election in 2011, in solidly Republican city council districts, it joined the ranks of the local Political events that make you go, "Huh?".

I suspected that King Kaiser's sticky fingers were behind Bill Christiansen's decision, as two years earlier, Bill was challenged by King Kaiser connected crony and political novice Phil Lakin, in a well-financed and professionally managed political campaign.

Lakin ran the first close race that Christiansen had ever faced as city councilor in his solidly Republican district, since the time that Bill defeated incumbent city councilor Todd Houston, who occassionally made Reformist noises while serving on the city councilor, earning the wrath of the local ruling power Oligarchy.

Westcott had faced the wrath of the local fire fighters union, who swarmed his district in his previous election because he had joined now former city councilor Martinsen in questioning bloated city fire dept. staffing levels, and serial EMT deployments that constituted 90% of our fire department fire truck sorties, proving through statistical analysis that our firefighters were mostly fighting fainting spells at local nursing homes with their 30-ton firetrucks, and not fighting fires much at all.

Westcott squeaked by to a narrow election victory, but I must think that he saw the political handwriting on the wall, and chose not to run for re-election two years later.

Eagleton had justifiably earned the wrath of the local controlling moneyed establishment when he filed multiple ethics complaints with the state AG's office against hand-picked Establishment bootlicker mayor Dewey Bartlett, Jr.

If Eagleton had been successful, Dewey would have been removed as the future chief spokesman and pimping, pandering promoter for the failed Vision2 borrow-spend-and-tax sales tax campaign, which just coincidentally would have financially benefitted King Kaiser's very own Bank of Kaiser as the GARVEE bond underwriter and bond trustee in Tulsa's very own patented, sole-sourced buddy-deal version of crony capitalism.

Kind of makes you wonder why Princess Ruth Kaiser Nelson, the sister of local political potentate King Kaiser, wants so badly to serve on the TDA board, with her board membership stretching way, way back in the recesses of time all the way to the year 1988? Joining another of those local Political events that make you go, "Huh?".


Maybe someday Bill, Rick or John will tell us what admonishments, threats, or favors came their way from the sticky fingers of King Kaiser's connected cronies, to get three successful, incumbent city councilors to chose NOT to seek re-election.......?

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