Tulsa City Hall: June 2005 Archives

Despite fears of yet another delay, the Tulsa City Council actually passed an ethics ordinance tonight, unanimously. Steve Roemerman has the scoop.

Tulsa District 6 City Councilor Jim Mautino is holding a town hall meeting next Wednesday, June 29, at 7 p.m. at Martin East Regional Library, near 26th and Garnett. Jim will be talking about district matters as well as the recall election on July 12 -- he's one of the two targets. If you support Jim, show up to show your support. If you're wondering what to believe, show up, ask questions of him, and judge for yourself. You'll find a man who is passionate about encouraging quality growth and development in his district, and someone who knows his district inside and out. He's a good man, and we're blessed to have him on the City Council.

Be sure to keep Jim and his family and Chris Medlock and his family in your prayers as the well-financed barrage of attack ads hits over the next three weeks.

"The City Attorney shall be the chief legal advisor and attorney for the city and all offices, divisions, departments, boards, authorities, commissions, and agencies thereof." -- Tulsa City Charter, Article III, Section 4

There's more evidence today that Mayor Bill LaFortune's appointment of Alan Jackere as City Attorney is a slap in the face of the reform-minded citizens who worked hard to elect him Mayor.

Two weeks ago, the City Council took up final consideration of an ordinance governing ethics for city officials, whether elected, appointed, or employed. Mayoral staffers (and former Councilors) Sam Roop and Clay Bird spoke on behalf of the administration, asking for more time and more input from those who would be affected by the new administration. Even though the ordinance had been in work for the last eight months, Councilor Medlock proposed and the Council approved continuing the item for two weeks. Since that meeting, there have been three work sessions and a committee meeting. Representatives from Mayor LaFortune's administration and the City Auditor's office participated in the meetings. An attorney from the City Attorney's office was present for most of the work sessions as well, although it was said that she didn't have much to say in the meetings. It appeared that consensus had been achieved among all the participants on nearly every point, and that the way was clear for the Council to pass an ordinance which the Mayor would sign.

Then this afternoon at 5 p.m., an hour before the Council meeting was to begin, City Attorney Alan Jackere delivered a memo outlining about a dozen objections and concerns about the draft ordinance. He stated that he spent the last two days looking over the draft and developing this list. Most of the concerns were minor, some seemed to be significant, but the thing to notice is the timing. If the City Attorney regarded himself, as he should, as the servant of the people we voted into office, he or a deputy would have been actively involved over the eight months that the ordinance was in development and particularly over the last two weeks as the final version was being hammered out, raising concerns and helping to put the language into proper legalese. Many of the concerns Jackere raised applied to the version that was before the Council two weeks ago, and he should have raised his voice at that time, or shortly after, if he were truly interested in helping these elected officials achieve their goal of enacting an ethics ordinance.

Jackere's last-minute objections had one purpose -- give Cockroach Caucus councilors cover to vote for further postponement or to vote against the ordinance. It was obvious from the councilors' comments that a vote would fail by a 4-5 margin.

In response to this 11th hour surprise, Chris Medlock made a smart move, but it angered some of his allies. He proposed continuing the item for one more week, until next week's Council meeting, to allow time to incorporate the City Attorney's concerns and to make sure a majority of the Council is on board. If Medlock had not taken the initiative to postpone for one week, it's very likely that a Cockroach Caucus councilor would have proposed, and succeeded in getting, a delay of a month or more, past the recall election, in hopes that there would be two fewer votes for a real ethics ordinance with teeth.

Tomorrow evening, Thursday, June 16, the Tulsa City Council will consider adopting an ethics ordinance which will govern all elected officials, city employees, city appointees to authorities, boards, and commissions, and trustees of Tulsa's public trusts. You can read the proposed ordinance online in PDF format. (Warning: It's a big file. They appear to have printed the document, and scanned it in full color mode, then converted the scans to PDF. They could have used Acrobat to convert the original digital document directly to PDF and produce a much smaller file.) Here's another, smaller PDF file, showing recent markups, but I'm not sure how recent.

There will be a rally in support of adopting the ethics ordinance on City Hall Plaza at 5:15, just before the Council meeting. The Mayor and a number of councilors (the usual suspects) have been dragging their feet on this, and I suspect they hope to drag it out beyond the recall election in hopes that Medlock and Mautino won't be around to help get it passed.

Tulsans deserve a government that is run for the benefit of all Tulsans, not just a favored few. When important decisions are being made about land use and public infrastructure, the decisions need to be made by people who don't have a personal stake in the outcome. We've waited over a decade for an ethics ordinance, and this one has been in the works for over a year. It's modeled after successful ordinances in use in many other cities. There is no good reason to delay action.

Please call or e-mail your councilor -- 596-192#, dist#@tulsacouncil.org, and replace # with your district number -- show up for the rally at 5:15, and if possible, stay to address the Council during the meeting. Let them know you want openness, transparency, and ethics in city government.

Tulsa City Councilor Chris Medlock will hold a town hall meeting Tuesday night, June 14, at 6:30 pm, at Cityplex Towers (a.k.a. the City of Faith), 81st and Lewis. The meeting will be on the first floor under the east tower. While the forum is principally for Councilor Medlock's District 2 constituents, anyone is welcome to come, listen, and ask questions. According to Councilor Medlock's website, topics will include Vision 2025 Neighborhood Funds, remediation schedule for Fred Creek, planned improvements for 81st & Delaware, an update on recent zoning issues, new developments in district (particularly the new Tulsa Hills development at 71st Street and US 75), and the upcoming recall election.

If you support Councilor Medlock's efforts at City Hall, this would be a great opportunity to come and show your appreciation. If you don't think you like what he's doing, or you're skeptical or unsure, this is a great opportunity to see for yourself and ask your questions face-to-face, without the Tulsa Whirled editing and rearranging his replies.

(This entry's timestamp has been set forward to keep this entry at the top through Tuesday evening.)

The proposed City of Tulsa ethics ordinance is on the agenda for a special City Council meeting on Friday, June 10, at 10 a.m., in the City Council committee room (Room 201 of the City Hall tower).

That's a very convenient time for various special interest lobbyists, a very inconvenient time for the rest of us, who would like to see more accountability at City Hall. Hope at least some pro-disclosure citizens can be in attendance to balance things out a bit.

On the blog Cosmic Rantings, AJ Coyner, a Tulsan and a physics grad student at Rice University in Houston, has a nice synopsis of the situation at Tulsa City Hall, which those of you coming in late may find helpful:

It's been a fairly quiet month here for notable stories but I have to think the brilliant politicians and puppeteers of Tulsa Oklahoma for the latest bit of political comedy I've seen. It appears a three page code of ethics with actual penalties for not disclosing conflicts of interest is complicated enough to require an additional month of study. Nevermind it's been in the works in its present form for more than a year and had been previously informally approved by all concerned parties. I know those of you not from there are probably thinking what could possibly be wrong with Tulsa? Trust me there are enough parallel storylines to compose about a 15 page entry. Luckily my caffeine-induced ADD will not allow me to expound beyond the following:

Two city councilors are being recalled. One of the councilors not under recall lied on his election forms and doesn't live in the district he represents. One of the allegedly clean councilors is under investigation by the FAA for unfair business practices at the airport. Something to the extent of increasing holdings and preferential signage because he appointed his best customer to head the Tulsa Airport Authority. The chairman of the council got a death threat last week because he wants to continue the airport investigation. One former council was rewarded for a controversial vote change with an $80,000 raise and a cabinet position in a city whose budget cannot afford to light the freeways but can afford to pay him.

That's just the tip of the conflict of interest iceberg. yet the situation is not worthy of a simple 3-page code of ethics. Maybe they'll have it in place when the airport gets shut down and I have to fly back to OKC and hitchhike 90 miles to get home.

In a nutshell.

I was watching a replay of Thursday's Tulsa Council meeting, where former Councilor (now Chief Administrative Officer) Sam Roop and former Councilor (now Mayoral Chief of Staff) Clay Bird spoke to prevent the passage of an ethics ordinance. Their line is one we've become accustomed to hear from Mayor Bill LaFortune's administration: "We're supportive of the concept, but this isn't the right time." And the right time never seems to come.

Seeing Sam and Clay in the same camera shot reminded me of a lunch that happened sometime in 2001. Former Street Commissioner (and my colleague from two sales tax fights) Jim Hewgley set up a lunch at St. Louis Bread on 15th Street so that I could meet zoning attorney Bill LaFortune, who was getting ready to run for Mayor. I had expected that it would be just me, Bill, and Jim, but Bill was accompanied by Councilors Sam Roop, Clay Bird, and Randi Miller. The three Councilors wanted me to know how Bill would work with the Republicans on the City Council to achieve the kind of reforms that Mayor Savage had routinely blocked. They were excited that Bill would be a Mayor who would treat the Council with respect, as a co-equal branch of government.

Today -- well, Bill has certainly treated Sam and Clay well, giving them high-paying jobs in his administration. Their job is to appear before the Council and tell them that the Mayor won't be cooperating with them on the reforms they are trying to achieve. Meanwhile, I hear that Councilors have a very hard time getting a meeting with the Mayor.

Sam and Clay seem pretty happy with the outcome, even if it doesn't match the picture they painted for me over lunch at St. Louis Bread.

About this Archive

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

Tulsa City Hall: May 2005 is the previous archive.

Tulsa City Hall: July 2005 is the next archive.

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