Tulsa City Hall: March 2005 Archives

Bobby's got the scoop over at Tulsa Topics on the full slate of community meetings for Tuesday -- a meeting on the widening of I-44, a meeting about AEP's tree trimming policies and your rights as a homeowner, and a District 9 meeting about the general obligation bond issue, plus the usual morning of Council committee meetings. No recall related items this week, but the public works committee meeting at 8 a.m. will include status reports on the Vision 2025 projects for the City of Tulsa.

That meeting on tree trimming is sponsored by the Tulsa Audubon Society and a number of neighborhood associations. Midtown Tulsa has a wonderful canopy of mature trees, but they interfere with the power lines during storms. Fast-growing "volunteer" trees often sprout and quickly get established along fences, which often means that they grow right up into the wires. AEP has a program to get rid of tree growth that could cause outages, but they don't have an absolute right to cut down any tree they like, any way they like. The meeting is at 5:30 p.m. at Wright Elementary School, on 45th Place west of Peoria. Here's the description:

This forum has been arranged in response to complaints from many homeowners and other concerned homeowners about damage which has been done to their properties by AEP and its contractors. The speakers will include attorneys who specialize in utilities' and property owners' rights and responsibilities regarding utility easements. They will advise citizens regarding actions they should consider before the contractors arrive on their property and their rights and responsibilities when workers enter the property. They will also have recommendations for owners of properties which are unnecessarily damaged during maintenance activities in the utility easement.

For information, contact Herb Beattie at 749-4586 or herb.beattie AT sbcglobal.net (substitute an @ sign for the word AT).

This morning on KFAQ I made a statement that I believed to be correct but was inaccurate. Jim Burdge was NOT on Terry Simonson's 2002 mayoral campaign team. (It had been my understanding during the campaign that he was.) Terry informs me that he did not have a campaign manager as such, but the members of his campaign team (including Janet Sullivan, Ky Vargus, and Tom and Debbie Gutmann) each handled certain key tasks. Burdge was not involved in any of the campaign meetings, and as far as Terry is aware, Burdge was not given any work to do for the campaign. My apologies to Terry for my error. I will repeat my correction on KFAQ on Monday morning.

The Tulsa City Attorney's Office has issued an opinion, authored by Michael C. Romig, stating that there is an irreconcilable conflict of interest for board members of the Metropolitan Tulsa Chamber of Commerce (MTCC) serving on the City's Economic Development Commission (EDC). According to the opinion, the conflict is created by the contract between the City and MTCC. The EDC oversees performance of that contract. The opinion states that the conflict cannot be resolved by abstaining from debate or votes. The City Attorney's opinion is grounded in an Oklahoma Attorney General's opinion last year regarding the state's constitutional prohibition of conflicts of interest (Article X, Section 11).

The City Attorney's opinion says that there is no inherent conflict of interest for ordinary members of MTCC serving on the EDC, but they would have to exercise personal judgment on any given issue as to whether they could in good conscience vote in the interest of the City and not in the interest of MTCC.

Councilor Chris Medlock will be on KFAQ with Michael DelGiorno at 7:40 a.m. Wednesday to discuss this ruling.

Just a reminder -- Tulsa Topics should be on your list of daily reads. The latest entry is an in-depth preview of Thursday night's Council meetings, including an audio clip of what Bill Christiansen was saying about the 71st and Harvard situation last Thursday night. On Monday he posted a detailed preview of the Council's Tuesday committee meetings with links to relevant background information.

It's not all political -- Bobby writes of a visit to Swan Lake, which inspired some research into the 1934 Chicago World's Fair.

Beyond the blog, Tulsa Topics has a media page, with clips from recent public meetings.

You'll also find the beginnings of a Wikipedia of the Tulsa political and business scene. A wiki allows you to register and contribute your own knowledge to the collection. If enough folks get involved in limited ways, it could grow rapidly into a wonderful resource for understanding the background to the news.

Monday morning on KFAQ I reported what Mayor Bill LaFortune has been saying about the upcoming general obligation bond issue -- that your property taxes will be lower than they are now if the bond issue passes.

Turns out it depends on how you look at it. The Mayor is comparing the sum of the last five years, which includes a very high number in 1999, with the sum of the next five years. Here's the city's levy per $1000 net assessed value from FY 1999 through FY 2011.


1999 - 13.80
2000 - 12.20
2001 - 12.00
2002 - 11.70
2003 - 11.20
2004 - 11.10
2005 - 10.00

Projected if bond issue passes:

2006 - 10.30
2007 - 11.10
2008 - 12.20
2009 - 12.30
2010 - 13.00
2011 - 12.95

In a nutshell, the bond issue will make your property taxes will go up, but not as high as they have been in the past.

UPDATE: Chris Medlock has posted his account of the story that appeared in the Saturday World.

I can't remember if I've used this analogy on this blog, or perhaps just in other forums, but I've observed that the Tulsa World sometimes operates like a volleyball team, with the newsroom providing the "set" with a well-slanted news story, providing the editorial board just what they need for the "spike" -- the "facts" required to "prove" whatever point the editorial board is trying to make.

A week or so ago Councilor Chris Medlock made an offhand comment, during an off-the-record conversation with a Tulsa World reporter. He mentioned that a high-ranking city official came to him to relay an offer -- support granting an easement over city land for the proposed private toll bridge across the Arkansas River and the recall would be called off. Someone decided to turn the offhand, off-the-record comment into a news story.

Commenter Jeff Shaw makes an excellent point about Mayor Bill LaFortune's accusation that the Tulsa Commerce and Legal News is responsible for the failure to publish notice of the charter amendment election and thus for the removal of the charter amendment from the April ballot:

I would look for an denial from the publisher they made a mistake. It is my view and experience that these type of accidents don't happen on the publication end of things. Legal publications are very very important with regard to due process of law, and they take it very seriously. It's tantamount to malpractice.

If a newspaper fails to run a legal notice as required, public hearings and court proceedings have to be delayed, at a cost to the people and the government body involved. A newspaper that specializes in legal notices would have all sorts of safeguards in place to avoid exposing the paper to liability for failure to publish.

If it is the newspaper's fault, the City should be able to sue for the $100,000 it will cost to hold a separate special election for the charter amendment. The newspaper may even have "errors and omissions" insurance to cover the situation. The charter amendment represents a promise made to the property owners of this city, to restore this protection at the earliest possible opportunity. If the Mayor is serious about keeping his promise to the citizens, he'll pursue damages. Otherwise, we'll have to assume he's more interested in keeping the promises he made behind closed doors to the developers' lobbyists.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Tulsa City Hall category from March 2005.

Tulsa City Hall: February 2005 is the previous archive.

Tulsa City Hall: April 2005 is the next archive.

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