Christiansen announces he won't back Bartlett for Tulsa mayor

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Former Councilor and mayoral candidate Bill Christiansen announced today that, having met this week with Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett Jr to discuss his concerns, he has decided not to endorse Bartlett Jr.

According to Christansen, Bartlett told him he doesn't have a platform for his second term in office and "will not talk about one out of fear that people will hold him accountable" for delivering on his promises.

Christiansen also took issue with Bartlett Jr's frequently-repeated campaign claim that Kathy Taylor drove Tulsa to the brink of bankruptcy. There was never any danger of that, not because Taylor was a good steward of the city's budget (she wasn't and neither has Bartlett Jr been), but because of state laws and constitutional provisions that require a balanced budget.

In early 2010, Fire Chief Allan LaCroix said, "The layoffs have to occur by February 15th, or the city's in the position it may have to file bankruptcy. That's how serious this situation is," but he quickly walked the statement back, saying, "It's just a term." At the time, Dewey Bartlett Jr disavowed the idea that Tulsa was going bankrupt:

Mayor Dewey Bartlett says the reality is the city is "not in the throes of bankruptcy."

The News On 6 caught up with the mayor just before he flew to Dallas to participate a business recruiting trip.

"If we don't take action today, tomorrow, soon, in several months, six months, 12 months from now, we could be, serious financial problems," said Dewey Bartlett.

At that same point in his term, Bartlett Jr did not blame Taylor for the city's financial difficulties:

Mayor Bartlett added, "It should be clear that the economic problems that we are experiencing are the result of declining revenues due to the national recession, not any express actions by the current or previous administrations. Both the Bartlett and Taylor administrations have collectively reduced our annual expenses by $25 million."

The Vision2 package that Bartlett Jr supported and that Taylor failed to oppose is exactly the sort of thing that now-bankrupt cities in California did to get themselves in financial trouble. Unwilling to wait to start a new tax package until a current tax package expired, they borrowed and spent money now, using as collateral revenues that wouldn't begin coming in for many years.

So far as I am aware, Bartlett Jr has yet to gain the endorsement of any current or former member of the Tulsa City Council who has served alongside him during his term as Tulsa mayor.

Here is the full news release from Bill Christiansen:

Bill Christiansen says he won't support Dewey Bartlett for mayor

At a time when budgets matter the most, Tulsans need transparency and accountability at City Hall. Former mayoral candidate Bill Christiansen today announced that he would not support Bartlett for mayor.

"I'm a real conservative, and Dewey Bartlett is not," Christiansen said. "He is a tax-and-spend liberal, he has supported a permanent new tax increase and proposed the largest levels in city spending in our history, and he has worked to grow government and the bureaucracy. Perhaps even worse, he has done it with no sense of transparency and accountability toward Tulsans. For so many reasons - almost too many to count, I cannot endorse Dewey Bartlett for mayor and I will not vote for him. He is not what Tulsa needs and he does not reflect the conservative principles I believe in."

Christiansen said he met with Bartlett this week to talk about the many issues that concerned him and was deeply disappointed at the lack of response. He said he asked the mayor what his platform for the future was. "His response - he doesn't have a platform and will not talk about one out of fear that people will hold him accountable. He actually admitted he does not want to be held accountable. At the core, elected officials should be held accountable and we now have a mayor that runs from accountability, has no commitment to transparency, is a tax-and-spender who pushed for a permanent tax. We cannot elect him."

Christiansen also criticized Bartlett for repeatedly saying his opponent, Kathy Taylor, spent the city to near bankruptcy when she was mayor. "I was on the council when Kathy was mayor. We were NEVER going bankrupt. In very challenging economic times, the Mayor and the Council worked together and made tough choices to ensure the budget was balanced every month."

Christiansen attacked Bartlett's "irresponsible fiscal practice" of proposing revenue budgets that are unprecedented. Mayor Bartlett's last three budgets are the largest in Tulsa's history. He over budgets and now he wants a permanent tax increase to grow city government."

Christiansen said another factor that made it impossible for him to support Bartlett is the mayor's well-known practice of not attending the majority of meetings of the boards and authorities he has a seat on, and for continuing to serve as full-time president of his business while taking a $105,000 salary as mayor. "Tulsa needs and deserves a full time mayor," he said.

Christiansen said he would not have put his name on the ballot if he had thought Bartlett was doing a good job, but said after the primary he felt he owed it to his supporters to take a close look at both candidates in the race before deciding who he would support. The recent spate of stories about the lack of transparency and accountability at City Hall just reaffirmed his belief that Bartlett is not fit for the job, he said.

"There have been so many stories that have come to light recently on the lack of transparency and accountability at City Hall. Green Waste and the trash system, 911 Center, Open Records - the list goes on and on. You're either committed to transparency and accountability or you are not. The fact that he is willing to say that he knew nothing about the green waste problems and recently went on KRMG to blame citizens for putting their green waste in the trash, shows just how much he tries to shirk responsibility and accountability."

Christiansen, a former Marine Corps Officer, said he is hopeful that Dewey Bartlett will not try to attack him and try to discredit him because of his announcement. Christiansen is hopeful to see a new campaign pattern from Dewey Bartlett that is not negative as shown in the primary.

P.S.: On a personal note, the outcome of Christiansen's private meeting with Bartlett Jr makes me glad I've decided that private meetings with the candidates wouldn't be worth my time.

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2 Comments

Tulsa Patriot said:

Bill Christiansen’s "I'm a real conservative, and Dewey Bartlett is not", non-endorsement news release may well be the death knell for Mayor Bartlett. In the race for Mayor, Christiansen received 23% of the votes cast..... I wonder if they will follow Bill’s lead.

Taylor’s early campaign theme of “transparency & accountability” strikes at one of Mayor Bartlett’s weaknesses and lo & behold, there’s Bill’s picture prominently displayed on Taylor’s campaign web site.

Graychin said:

Kathy Taylor wasn't a very good steward either, but at least she was smart enough to see that the City was facing a financial crisis.

Meanwhile, Bartlett thought Taylor was doing a fine job, and didn't discover the financial crisis until after he took office. A potted plant in the mayor's office could do a better job than Bartlett has. At least a potted plant wouldn't feud with and lie to the City Council.

The "bankruptcy" rhetoric is just that - empty, overblown rhetoric. But as clueless as Bartlett is, he might have believed what he was saying.

No one on the Commission has endorsed Bartlett? Hmmm. How interesting!

I still can't figure out what a Bartlett supporter looks like, other than the people who would vote Republican even if the candidate was a yellow dog pink elephant.

So it's like I've been saying - Bartlett's only chance for re-election is to run against Obama, hoping that no one will notice that Obama isn't on the ballot. Is there an anti-Obama way to fill potholes and pick up the trash?

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on September 19, 2013 3:19 PM.

Downtown Tulsa needs demolition limits, regulatory and tax relief was the previous entry in this blog.

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