Tulsa City Hall: November 2010 Archives

This week's Urban Tulsa Weekly cover story, by reporter Mike Easterling, is a look back at Dewey Bartlett Jr's first year as mayor of Tulsa. Easterling spoke to the Mayor himself, to chief of staff Terry Simonson, to several city councilors, to urbanist and developer Jamie Jamieson, and to me. What's striking is that only Bartlett and Simonson give good grades overall to the Bartlett-Simonson administration. Five of the nine councilors, all Republicans, were willing to speak on the record, and all were disappointed, on balance, particularly with his failure to treat the councilors as partners, rather than adversaries. These are councilors who had high hopes for his administration and who agree with his stated policy goal to make intelligent reductions in city spending. As I note for the article, he has managed to alienate all nine city councilors, an unprecedented feat for a mayor.

In his conversation with Easterling, Bartlett tells an anecdote about the literal nightmare he had the night after his swearing in, followed by the waking nightmare of learning the next morning from Finance Director Mike Kier of the depths of the city's financial crisis. What it reveals is that Bartlett had not been paying attention. Councilor Bill Martinson had called attention to the problem back during the budget process in the spring of 2009, noting the Taylor administration's overly optimistic expectation of a recovery by the end of calendar year 2009, an expectation that allowed them to postpone hard choices until after the election.

For his honesty and persistence, Martinson was targeted for defeat by Kathy Taylor. Bartlett did not back the fiscal conservatives on the Council in their effort to face facts; instead he endorsed Kathy Taylor for re-election and ignored the fiscal crisis during his campaign. In so doing, he entered the mayor's office without the mandate to do anything except not make political contributions to Barack Obama.

The Save Our Tulsa bunch -- SOTs for short -- see the conflict between mayor and council, and they think the solution is to pack the council with their kind of people and then maybe pass a tax for some new "visionary" project. They've misdiagnosed the problem, and they offer a remedy that will only make matters worse. The problem is in the mayor's office, and, short of resignation or removal, the way forward is for the mayor to call his SOT buddies and his supporters who are suing the councilors personally and tell them to back off. That's a minimum first step to get executive and legislature working together again.

About this Archive

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

Tulsa City Hall: October 2010 is the previous archive.

Tulsa City Hall: February 2011 is the next archive.

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



Subscribe to feed Subscribe to this blog's feed:
[What is this?]