Dan Keating: Time for Dewey Bartlett Jr to go

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Dan Keating, a conservative Republican, recently appointed by Gov. Mary Fallin to the State Board of Education, has written a scathing column in the Tulsa Beacon denouncing Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett Jr's campaign for pushing party affiliation over his performance as mayor and saying that it's time for Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett Jr to return to the private sector.

Keating says that Bartlett Jr "has made little effort in cultivating former Councilor Bill Christiansen supporters, who are pivotal to winning re-election." Keating agrees with former Mayor Kathy Taylor's argument that the primary results show that 2/3rds of Tulsa voters are dissatisfied with Bartlett Jr's record. Calling Bartlett Jr an "absentee mayor with practically no vision for the future or plan for today," Keating concludes, "We've given the mayor every opportunity to produce. He doesn't own the job. It's time for Dewey to return to Keener Oil."

Keating notes the lack of cranes in the air and the lack of serious economic development. Bartlett Jr's claim of 7,000 jobs created in the metro area over the last four years doesn't impress Keating:

That makes it 146 jobs per month. This column reported the state of Utah gaining 18,000 California jobs in just one month. Why? Because they worked on it and called in California. As the Utah governor's office reported they had "boots on the ground."

Keating is also upset with Bartlett Jr's absence from meetings of key public authorities on which Tulsa's mayor serves as an ex officio member, noting two authorities in particular, the Emergency Medical Services Authority (EMSA) and the Tulsa Authority for the Recovery of Energy (TARE), which oversees Tulsa's trash system. An audit of EMSA by State Auditor and Inspector Gary Jones turned up extravagant spending by the CEO and criticized the board for a lack of oversight.

Another out of control authority that Mayor Bartlett sits on is Tulsa's TARE Board. Tare is short for Tulsa Authority for the Recovery of Energy. TARE as you may recall had worked itself out of a job, but since no bureaucracy ever lets itself simply vanish, the authority reworked Tulsa's trash collection system, borrowed millions of dollars and charged ahead. Competent trash haulers were fired and new pricing policies implemented. Most service billings doubled. Green waste required special tags and clear trash bags.

But, it was worth it. Right? Wrong.

The green waste recovery equipment never worked. So for a year, Mayor Bartlett's people postured, burned all the trash together and kept the money. The mayor's excuse was that he missed most of those board meetings.

Republicans who pay more attention to state and national politics than City Hall may be surprised, if not shocked, that a solid Republican like Dan Keating would endorse against the re-election of a Republican mayor. They may be tempted to dismiss Keating as a RINO. (Oddly, the same people seem unwilling to dismiss Bartlett Jr as a RINO for his 2009 endorsement of Taylor's re-election.)

It's an indication of Bartlett Jr's skill at burning bridges that many Republicans who pay close attention to what's happening at City Hall are unwilling to endorse him for re-election. Lawsuits against councilors, support for Vision2, gerrymandering, an apparent lack of interest and leadership in the important decisions made by the City's authorities, boards, and commissions have all served to alienate local GOP activists. Many of these Republicans would be willing to forgive him for being bumbling or naive, if those were the only problems, but there's a layer of nasty and vengeful on top of the bumbling and naivete that makes reconciliation impossible. When someone has put you in the position of having to hire an attorney and has never bothered to apologize, you're not going to lend your support to his reelection campaign.

As far as I am aware, no city councilor who has served during Bartlett Jr's term as mayor -- none of the nine that he mostly chased out of office, none of the nine who replaced them -- has endorsed him. The Fraternal Order of Police, which has endorsed Republicans and Democrats in the past, voted unanimously to endorse Taylor. Had Bartlett Jr and his team not burned so many bridges with his fellow Republicans, he would be a shoo-in for re-election.

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Mark McDaniel said:

I do not disagree with you or Mr. Keating's positions, in fact were Queen Kathy not staring down the chance of becoming mayor like a shotgun, I would be echoing the exact sentiments. Were a genuine Republican running against Bartlett I would not endorse Bartlett. Were a Roscoe Turner or grass roots Democrat running against Bartlett not beholden to the Mid Town elites, they would get my vote, heck, I'd even have a couple signs in my yard (my yard, being a corner lot is perfect for politicians to advertise)

However, such is not the case. Us reform-minded Tulsans had our bite at that apple with Christiansen but sadly, he did not win and we are left with Liberal and Liberal-lite. When the primary results first came in, my first though was "why vote, what does it matter, I'll take a coin to the booth and flip it, heads bartlett, tails Taylor" Understand I am no fan of Bartlett as I've made many mentions to anybody interested in hearing. His handling of our "progressive" trash service, the spitefulness and vengeful spirit which resembles more like Little Boy Barrack than an adult, his support of pork barrel spending like Vision II are just a few examples (and let's not even cite his stances before he was mayor e.g. at large councilors, support of Taylor before he was against her, and his tacit or outright support of the Great Plains fiasco)

But keep in mind who he is running against. We will have an ultra liberal, big spender (redundant I know), Bloomberg supporter, a person not afraid to use tax payer monies to help her BOK buddies, revisionist historian. With Taylor you have, as you have stated on your blog past somebody also awash in nepotism.

As much as it pains me I see no choice but to support Bartlett. Is Mr. Keating actually suggesting Taylor would be a better fit for Tulsa?

Understand my voting for Bartlett is by no means an endorsement. Drive my house and you will so NO DB signs whatsoever.

Moogle Author Profile Page said:

For this time around, one must accept there is no great choice. Thinking long term, I am inclined to say Kathy is much more likely to establish a permanent empire. Dewey, not so much -- doesn't have the brains and craftiness. I expect to vote for the one in this election that I think is most likely to lose the next election.

Graychin said:

Dan Keating's full column is well worth reading. It's the best analysis of Bartlett's mayoral term that I've seen.

If Bartlett isn't re-elected, it won't be due to lack of endorsements from city councilors, or due to "burning bridges." Republican activists and insiders (like Dan Keating and Michael Bates) don't have enough votes, or sway enough votes, to make much any real difference. What will be Bartlett's undoing is the recent memory of the EMSA fiascoes, the trash fiasco, the ugly fights at City Hall, and Bartlett's lack of any meaningful accomplishments in four years. So - four MORE years?

As for Taylor's negatives? How many people at Tulsa Hills or on the street could tell you the first thing about Great Plains?

Dan Keating titled his column "Nonpartisan Means Nonpartisan." He is surely speaking for himself, because most Tulsa voters surely don't think in nonpartisan terms, even in a City election where the issues are trash service, potholes and the like. They will nationalize the election anyway.

The label "ultra-liberal big spender" makes little sense for a mayoral candidate where balanced budgets are mandatory and revenue is limited. Bartlett will get most of his votes from partisans who resent "Little Boy Barrack" (sic).

I have no idea what an enthusiastic Bartlett supporter must look like. But Bartlett VOTERS? They would be people who fear a Congresswoman or Governor Kathy Taylor (fat chance in Red Oklahoma), and people who haven't voted for a Democrat since at least 1964 and never will again. And even they may sit this one out.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on October 20, 2013 11:58 PM.

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