Oklahoma Politics: May 2007 Archives

I want to call your attention to three relatively new links on the sidebar:

TPD Blog, the blog of the Tulsa Police Department, has had a lot of interesting content lately. They link to articles in local media about TPD, and provide regular updates on the progress of the latest academy class. In one recent entry, Off. Will Dalsing expresses his opinion of the personnel and financial challenges faced by the TPD:

So here is the problem: while it is true that we are back to being at, or slightly above, our "authorized strength," that number is terribly low. The Tulsa Police Department has been at that number for over twenty years. True, the population has not significantly changed in numbers, but the calls for service (the amount of calls that the officers must respond to) yearly has gone up in the tens of thousands....

Imagine that you are having a bit of a problem in the neighborhood. Kids are out at all hours of the night being loud and tearing stuff up. Maybe there are some houses with what appears to be a lot of traffic…. maybe someone is selling drugs there. Or maybe there are some scary looking people whom you are pretty sure are calling themselves a gang. You would call the police right?

So the Police Captain at the local division assigns a whole squad of seven or eight cops to your street. The Captain tells them "saturate that neighborhood for a few days….I don’t want anyone to so much as spit on the sidewalk without having to talk to an officer because of it."

Is that a dream? It is in Tulsa. See we don’t actually have enough staff to take the calls for service. We "hire-over" nearly every shift at every division. It’s hard to be pro-active when you are always back "on your heels." So even thought we do have a squad at some divisions for "Directed Patrol," it may be still at the expense of our response to calls in the field.

Or let’s say you are building a new structure in your downtown that will likely bring tens of thousands of people to the area several nights a week. The area is in the process of revitalization. Foot traffic is going up. The bars and restaurants are popping up. For tourism, safety, and the well being of everyone involved, more cops are needed. In fact, the business owners are so decisive on the matter that they are willing to give their own money to help equip officers to work in the area. Can we give them a squad of officers? Not currently.

We know we must be pro-active for Tulsa’s new arena and for the downtown district as a whole. A part-time bike squad is in the works but how will we have the manpower to staff the area full time?

The second link is Stop the Chop, a website about protecting Woodward Park's trees from indiscriminate removal. You can read the history of the controversy, view relevant documents, and learn what you can do to help.

The final link is not Tulsa-specific. It's a web community for conservative activists throughout the State of Oklahoma, and it's called GetRightOK.com. The site includes a blog, a forum, an events calendar, and other community networking tools. It's intended not just to be a place to chat and trade insults but to network for the purpose of taking constructive political action. I've written a guest piece for them, yet again about the Oklahoma Republican state convention, but with a focus on the state chairman and vice chairman's races, with some historical background.

Fairgrounds annexation: Still no action from the Mayor, who has until the end of this week to sign or veto. The scrivener's error that reset the 15-day clock was a failure to specify to which council district the newly annexed territory would be assigned. I supposed everyone thought that was obvious, as it's surrounded by Council District 4 on all four sides.

City budget: The Mayor will submit her proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2007-08 to the Council at the 10:00 a.m. urban development committee meeting, with a full presentation to follow at the regular meeting on Thursday night. With the fire district tax dead (a fact the Whirled didn't get around to reporting until Saturday), there will have to be some creative juggling to get the books to balance. Rumors are that proposed spending will grow faster than the rate of inflation and that the arena operating costs will be worse than previously acknowledged.

Also on the council committee agendas: During the 8:00 a.m. meeting, a presentation on the FY '08 operating budget for the BOk Center. During the 10:00 a.m. meeting, Councilor Turner's proposal to require the public display of sales tax permits, the rezoning of the SE corner of 11th Street and 161st East Ave. for residential and commercial use (currently the Brashear Stables; the TMAPC voted 4-4 on the rezoning in a rare tie), a discussion of the 2006 Police Department Manpower Report, and a property tax increase.

Yeah, you read that right. City of Tulsa property owners will have their millage go up enough to cover the latest $6.125 million installment of the city's $14.5 million settlement with Arvin McGee, who spent 12 years in prison for crimes he didn't commit because of what a jury ruled was Tulsa police misconduct. The Council has no choice but to commit the money to pay the settlement.

Brad Henry veto watch: The first attempt to override Henry's veto of pro-life SB 714 failed, because of a switcheroo by Shawnee Sen. Charlie Laster and a longer term flip-flop by Sand Springs Sen. Nancy Riley, who promised in her first race in 2000, "absolutely NO STATE FUNDING FOR ABORTION." Henry protected the interests of his trial lawyer buddies by vetoing SB 507, a comprehensive lawsuit reform bill that incorporated most of the provisions he had previously championed. Brandon Dutcher says there's a link: Laster insisted on the tort reform veto in exchange for his SB 714 flip-flop.

The National Association of Manufacturers is watching Oklahoma's progress on lawsuit reform very closely. And here's a fact sheet from the State Chamber outlining the key points of SB 507. (Hat tip: Point of Law.)

And after returning tanned and rested from Spring Break, missing the successful conclusion of budget negotiations, Henry has now vetoed not only the legislature's budget, but five agency bills that matched his own budget proposal.

Today should see passage of Oklahoma's landmark immigration enforcement bill, HB 1804. If it passes, it will be headed to the governor's desk.

UPDATE: Where was I this morning? Oversleeping. I thought I had two alarms set, but somehow neither one went off. We'll try again tomorrow morning at 6:10.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Oklahoma Politics category from May 2007.

Oklahoma Politics: April 2007 is the previous archive.

Oklahoma Politics: August 2007 is the next archive.

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