Tulsa City Hall: November 2007 Archives

This Thursday night the City Charter amendment process comes to its biennial conclusion Thursday as the City Council votes on whether to send seven proposed amendments to the voters at next April's general city election.

Here in a nutshell are the changes -- links will bring up a PDF of the proposed amendment from the Tulsa City Council website:

  1. Specify state law as the basis for determining whether someone is a "qualified elector" for the purpose of running or voting for city office
  2. Four-year councilor terms, coinciding with mayoral terms
  3. Moving city elections to the fall of odd-numbered years
  4. Three-year staggered terms for city councilors
  5. Appointive City Auditor
  6. Non-partisan elections
  7. Pegging councilor salaries to one-half of the mayor's salary

I've been a supporter of fall elections in odd numbered years for a long time. It puts the vote when people expect an election, it gives candidates longer days and better weather for going door-to-door to meet the voters, and it puts newly elected officials in office with six months to find their feet before a budget is due, rather than one month.

The only other proposal that should be sent to the voters is clarifying the definition of qualified elector to match state law.

Although I like the idea of Minneapolis-style multipartisan elections with instant runoff voting, the current proposal for non-partisan elections creates as many problems as it fixes. It should and probably will be defeated on Thursday.

Council terms should be kept to two years for the sake of accountability to the voters. And while I'm sympathetic to the amount of hours councilors put into their jobs, and I think some of our best councilors have been those who were either retired or self-employed and could devote almost full time to being a councilor, I suspect that something would change for the worse if we paid full-time salaries.

Our city auditor should remain an elective office. Right now, the auditor is independent of all other officials and is directly accountable to the voters. The proposed change would make the auditor unaccountable to the voters and at least indirectly dependent on the mayor, who would appoint all members of the committee that would choose the auditor.

UPDATE 2007/11/30: The City Councilors agreed with me -- or at least a majority did on each issue. They approved the fall elections and the clarification of the definition of qualified elector.

Steve Roemerman has posted a first-hand report from one of the Tulsa City Council's town hall meetings about street maintenance and how to pay for it. (The City Council meetings are not in any way connected to the Sharon King Davis - Dewey Bartlett, Jr., headed committee appointed by Mayor Kathy Taylor.)

Steve is a member of the city's Sales Tax Overview Committee, which is responsible for overseeing the expenditure of the "third penny" fund for capital improvements, including streets. In addition to a summary of the presentation (based on the Powerpoint I linked to a while ago), with a selection of the slides that he found most compelling, Steve relates an exchange between himself and assistant Public Works director Paul Zachary regarding city contracting policies that might cause a scarcity of qualified contractors to complete the needed work.

Steve's report is good perspective and well worth reading if you're concerned about the condition of Tulsa's streets.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Tulsa City Hall category from November 2007.

Tulsa City Hall: October 2007 is the previous archive.

Tulsa City Hall: December 2007 is the next archive.

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