Tulsa City Hall: February 2010 Archives

From a TPD press release Tuesday, reversing the February 4 decision not to respond to non-injury accidents:

Due to police layoffs, a temporary change in collision response was made on February 4, 2010, until a manpower re-distribution and re-structuring of the Department could be evaluated. Since that time, the Police Department has reviewed 911 call priorities and the decision of diverting non-injury collision calls to alternative reporting methods.

Effective immediately, Tulsa Police will respond to all collisions on public roadways in the Tulsa City limits. Some collisions on Private Property, i.e. shopping center parking lots, will be referred to alternative reporting (Operator Collision forms at local convenience stores and online).

We would like to thank the citizens of Tulsa for their patience and support during these difficult times. Additionally, we appreciate the Tulsa County Sheriff's office for volunteering to be on standby during that time of transition.

Tulsa District 7 City Councilor John Eagleton has posted a lengthy e-mail from an employee in the City of Tulsa's Information Technology Department responding to the concerns of several councilors that the department is overpaid and overstaffed. Click the link to read the whole thing, but here's the heart of the matter -- private-sector incentives for excellence don't work in a unionized environment where seniority trumps performance:

When I first started working at the City I was pleasantly surprised at the number of talented and dedicated I/T employees. At the same time I was dumbfounded at the number of employees, especially employees with a significant number of years with the City, that barely, or rarely met their job requirements. In over five years I have yet to see a project completed by its deadline. I have also yet to see consequences for not meeting a project deadline. The culture in the I/T department is no reward for exceptional work and no punishment for substandard work. The dedicated I/T employees are making things happen solely from a sense of duty and satisfaction from a job well done. At the end of the day everyone gets the same pay raise, no pay raise or same pay cut regardless of their effort. The list of I/T employees that could be let go without loss of service to customers is long. Unfortunately if there were layoffs those are the employees that would stay.

IT may be about the easiest government function to outsource. There are plenty of hungry application programmers, software toolsmiths, web designers, and number crunchers who would compete to do work for the city. The city would still need strategic planners and analysts to determine what IT work is needed, to define requirements, and to write specifications, acting as interpreters between the non-IT folk in city government and the IT contractors. And the city would need program managers to oversee and validate the work done by outside contractors. While there are overheads involved in soliciting bids and overseeing contracts, I still suspect there could be some substantial savings. It's worth a look.

It's always interesting to see the Money Belt make an appearance in unexpected ways. The latest manifestation is in a map of water usage by neighborhood generated by the Tulsa World from city utility records.

The neighborhoods with heaviest usage -- an average of 125,000 gallons per year and up -- fall along a narrow band from Maple Ridge through Utica Square through Southern Hills and to the gated communities of south Tulsa -- with a slight gap between I-44 and Joe Creek. Maps of the highest priced homes, of members of city boards and commissions, of precincts with the greatest percentage support for tax increases -- all follow a similar pattern. Correlation does not imply causation, but it's interesting nonetheless and together with the PLANiTULSA polling this pattern suggests a kind of subculture different from the rest of the city.

According to the World's story about water usage, the average annual use for single-family homes is about 83,000 gallons.

The Tulsa World has provided a way to search the Tulsa water use database, and I've been having a little fun with it. Our usage, for the record, about 10% higher than the average and higher than I'd like, but not bad with five people in the house, a large yard to water (occasionally) and a small fishpond to top off in summer.

Here's how our city elected officials measure up for annual water use in gallons, based on the address on their filing form:

Dewey Bartlett Jr.
Mayor           138,000
Preston Doerflinger
Auditor           327,000
Jack Henderson
Council District 1
Rick Westcott
Council District 2
Roscoe Turner
Council District 3
Maria Barnes
Council District 4
Chris Trail
Council District 5
Jim Mautino
Council District 6
John Eagleton
Council District 7
Bill Christiansen
Council District 8
G. T. Bynum
Council District 9

Our current mayor looks pretty conservative compared to previous incumbents, especially his immediate predecessor.

J. M. Hewgley Jr.
Bob LaFortune
Jim Inhofe
Rodger Randle
Bill LaFortune
Kathy Taylor
Dewey Bartlett Jr

Former Mayors Richard C. Crawford and M. Susan Savage no longer live in Tulsa. I couldn't find former Mayor Terry Young in the database.

Bartlett's annual usage pales compared to his main mayoral rival (Tom Adelson, 412,000 gals/yr) but is about four times as much as independents Mark Perkins (32,000) and Lawrence Kirkpatrick (33,000).

What about big institutional users? A search for Southern Hills turned up four accounts that seemed connected to the country club: 26,813,000 gallons per year. But the Southern Hills Marriott Hotel uses 30,067,000. Philbrook and its beautiful gardens use 11,089,000.

St. Francis Hospital? 219,766,000 gallons. That's a lot of handwashing.

Walmarts are big users. Interestingly, the Woodland Hills Walmart (6.9 million) uses almost twice as much water as the Admiral and Memorial Walmart (3.5 million). Irritated Tulsan would not be surprised.

The thirstiest Quik Trip in Tulsa is the truck stop at Admiral and 165th East Ave -- 2,552,000. The least thirsty -- about a tenth of the water -- is at Gilcrease Museum Road and the Sand Springs Expressway.

Lortondale Pool, a privately-owned pool (but the public can join as members), used 376,000 gallons last year. That's a lot, but not bad when divided out among the number of families that belong. It's certainly more reasonable than the consumption involved if each of those families had a private pool, however small.

Big Splash? 13,983,000.

Hmmm: On average, the six board members of Sustainable Tulsa use 173,167 gals/yr, a bit more than twice the average for a single-family home.

Our municipal customers: Owasso, 886 million gallons; Bixby, 1 billion; Jenks, 989 million; Glenpool, 298 million; Catoosa, 126 million; Sperry, 61 million; Skiatook, 62 million.

Rural water districts: Sapulpa Rural, 147 million; Osage County #15, 40 million; Wagoner County #4, 60 million.

What about Charles Hardt, our longtime city director of Public Works? Not in the database; he lives in Bixby, near 121st and Mingo.

The World story mentions that there are 140 single-family residential water customers that used over one million gallons in 2009. It doesn't mention that its own publisher and its publisher emeritus are among that number, using (according to their database) 2,258,000 and 2,763,000 gallons respectively. Thanks to both of them for giving us the chance to explore this data on their website.

UPDATE: I heard from City Auditor Preston Doerflinger that he's having his home checked for leaks tomorrow.

MORE: Here's a similar story on Oklahoma City's biggest water users in the Oklahoma Gazette from last May. Their biggest home customer used 2.26 million gallons in 2008 -- and that doesn't count the water he draws from his own wells. Surprisingly, their biggest commercial user only used 152 million gallons. The highest hospital on the list was Baptist Medical Center with 77 million gallons.

And Tulsa District 9 Councilor G. T. Bynum tweets, "After reading your water usage breakdown, it can truly be said that I represent my district!"

Listening to last week's radio reports of slick roads brought to mind a commercial parody from back when Michael DelGiorno hosted the morning show on 1170 KFAQ, back during Tulsa's last budget crisis, early in the Bill LaFortune administration. A 911 caller with a police emergency was told by the dispatcher that because the city was on "Operation Slick Budget," an officer couldn't respond to the call.

It's not quite that bad, but police response to certain calls will decrease as a result of Tulsa Police Department layoffs, according to a TPD press release:

For More Information Contact
Officer Jason Willingham
February 4, 2010

Due to the recent reductions in staffing, the Tulsa Police Department has been forced to evaluate ways to maintain the staffing levels in order to respond to priority 911 calls. As a result, the department has temporarily suspended responding to certain property crimes and report calls.

Officers will not respond to non-injury collisions, fraud and forgery reports, burglary from vehicle reports, larceny reports and other minor property crime reports. The exception to this new policy will be a non-injury collision involving an intoxicated driver, or a non-injury collision involving a disturbance or other crime. Officers will respond to calls for service if the crime is in progress or if a suspect is still at the location.

While we understand that this may not be a popular decision, it is important to continue to have adequate manpower to respond to higher priority calls and crimes against a person. This change will be revisited as the department recovers form these difficult times.

Crime Reports can be filed electronically at the Tulsa Police Department website www.tulsapolice.org or call the Non-emergency number at 596- 9222 for other reporting options.

I've been negligent in reminding you about an excellent source for information about current issues at Tulsa's City Hall. Tulsa District 7 City Councilor John Eagleton has a personal website, johneagleton.com, where he posts some of the data and analysis that inform his decisions as a councilor.

The latest article on the site features graphs comparing the growth of Tulsa's general fund spending compared to inflation. One graph reveals how increases in costs per person have driven overall growth of the budget. Between 2002 and 2010, police personal services budget per employee grew by 35%, compared to an increase in the cost of living of 19% over the same period. (The fire department personal services budget per employee grew by 23% over those years.)

Other recent articles feature a comparison of the cost of providing ambulance service through EMSA vs. through the Tulsa Fire Department, emails from Tulsans about the budget crisis, and a graph showing how Tulsa police ticket writing has dropped dramatically over the last three years, even more dramatically since last October.

For most entries, there's a PDF or spreadsheet you can download for more details.

There's also a blog, with links to articles (often from the Wall Street Journal) that Eagleton finds interesting.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Tulsa City Hall category from February 2010.

Tulsa City Hall: January 2010 is the previous archive.

Tulsa City Hall: April 2010 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.



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