Dan Keating: Time for Dewey Bartlett Jr to go
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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