Tulsa Recall 2005: October 2004 Archives

Recall backers still in hiding

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Still no word as to that list of 25 or so members of the committee seeking to oust Tulsa City Councilors Jim Mautino and Chris Medlock. At this point, we only know of the two names that were required to be on the ethics filing for the Coalition for Responsible Government -- the chairman, Jon Davidson, and the treasurer, Herbert Haschke. Maybe the other 23 are figments of someone's imagination. Or maybe they've vanished since last Tuesday.

I credit Mayor Bill LaFortune's clear and public statement last Tuesday opposing the recall with slowing the momentum of the effort. I've heard that Tulsa Metro Chamber Chairman Bob Poe called the Mayor after his statement and asked angrily "What did you do that for?" I think the recall backers expected to start a war between the Mayor and the Council that would not only help them topple the Council majority, but would also damage the Mayor, which I think is part of this group's hidden agenda. Instead, the Mayor and the Councilors have affirmed the need to move forward together, particularly to ensure the passage of a critical bond issue in February.

I've heard that Jon Davidson is continuing to try to recruit support behind the scenes. He is the GM of the Sheraton Tulsa Hotel, part of Regency Hotel Management. Regency CEO David Sweet may not be aware that the GM of his Tulsa property is involved in a controversial campaign to depose popularly elected councilors and that his employee is on the opposite side of the issue from the Mayor of Tulsa. If you'd like to make Mr. Sweet aware of this, here is the contact information:

Mailing Address/Main Phone Numbers:
Regency Hotel Management
3211 W Sencore Drive
Sioux Falls, SD 57107
Phone: (605) 334-2371
Fax (605) 334-8480

Starwood, the company that licenses the Sheraton name, may also be interested in the potential impact of Davidson's actions on the goodwill that its brand enjoys among Tulsans. Here is the corporate contact information:

Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide, Inc.
1111 Westchester Avenue
White Plains, NY 10604
Phone (914) 640-8100
Fax (914) 640-8310

Investor Relations Contact
Dan Gibson
Senior Vice President, Corporate Affairs
Phone (914) 640-8100

Recall backers lay low

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Still haven't seen that list of 25 backers of the recall. Perhaps with the Mayor's public opposition to the recall, they aren't sure they want to come out publicly. Eventually they will be public, when the ethics reports are filed.

Word is that Jon Davidson, chairman of the pro-recall committee, is still soliciting funds and public endorsements for his misguided cause. I wonder if his bosses at Regency Hotel Management in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, know and approve of his involvement, much less leadership, of this campaign. You might want to let the Regency folks know how you feel -- your appreciation of Medlock and Mautino and your disappointment in the Sheraton Tulsa's involvement. Here's the contact info:

Mailing Address/Main Phone Numbers:
Regency Hotel Management
3211 W Sencore Drive
Sioux Falls, SD 57107
Phone: (605) 334-2371
Fax (605) 334-8480

There's also a form for e-mailing a note on the contact page of the website, but a fax or snail mail letter will probably be more effective.

Mayor opposes recall

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Thanks to Tulsa Mayor Bill LaFortune for speaking publicly and unequivocally in opposition to the effort to recall Councilors Jim Mautino and Chris Medlock. The Mayor spoke Tuesday at lunchtime at a press conference at the Fountains Restaurant, in front of the monthly luncheon of the Tulsa County Republican Women's Club with Mautino, Medlock, and Councilor Sam Roop. The Tulsa Whirled story (jump page here) quotes the Mayor at length. To the Whirled's credit, they put the story on the front page, albeit below the fold.

"It does not paint a true picture of the city of Tulsa," the mayor said at a news conference. "We, the citizens of Tulsa, have worked together to get where we are today. The recall hampers our efforts to find real solutions to the problems facing our city."

LaFortune said the city did not have time to spend on a protracted effort to recall the councilors.

"We do not need three, four or five months of argument," he said. "Instead, we should be using that time to work at City Hall to move Tulsa forward." ...

LaFortune said all members of the City Council "make decisions that they think are in the best interest of Tulsa."

"They are good men and women . . . Their hearts are in the right place for the city of Tulsa," the mayor said. "I do the same thing. I make decisions, which I believe are in the best interest of Tulsa."

Government should be "constructive, not destructive," LaFortune said.

"We may disagree, but removing elected officials from office should only be the solution chosen when there has been a crime or a breach of fiduciary duty," he said.

The mayor said he is not seeing public support for a recall.

"Just today I've been to three different groups and I've asked just average citizens what they think," LaFortune said before speaking at a luncheon of the Tulsa County Republican Women's Club. "To the person, they said it is not good for our city; we don't like seeing it."

LaFortune stressed that he continues to reach out to all nine councilors, encouraging them "to meet on common ground and use a democratic process to solve our differences."

The Mayor is exactly right when he says we don't have time to waste on this divisive issue. To push this issue, especially now, would be selfish and arrogant on the part of the recall supporters. It would be disastrous if a recall were on the same ballot as the general obligation bond issue. I'm glad he said publicly, on camera, and with Medlock, Mautino, and Roop next to him, that he opposes the recall in the strongest possible terms. That should send a strong signal to the organizers.

The press conference almost wasn't a press conference. It was scheduled to be held prior to the Women's Club luncheon, but when the Mayor and Councilors arrived only KFAQ was there, and KFAQ had been alerted by Medlock that the event would occur. Phone calls were made to other media outlets, and it was learned that none of them had received the press release that was supposed to have gone out that morning. So the press conference was delayed for half-an-hour to give reporters time to arrive. Only KTUL didn't show up.

There is concern that some of the Mayor's own staff was working to undermine the impact of the Mayor's statement by ensuring that it happened without the media present. The failure to issue the release may have been an innocent mistake, but it is a crucial mistake, one that could have undone all the good will rebuilt between the Mayor and the Council majority in the last couple of weeks, so crucial a mistake that he would be unwise simply to excuse it. While the Mayor is limited in his control over civil servants, he has the ability to hire and fire his personal staff, and he would be better served by someone loyal to his interests, rather than a holdover from the Savage administration.

I note that the Mayor's press release has not been posted with the press releases on the City of Tulsa home page, or anywhere within the Mayor's portion of the city website.

I assume that all six Republican councilors were invited to participate in the press conference. Wonder why Bill Christiansen, Susan Neal, and Randy Sullivan weren't there.

More notes on the recallers

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Did some digging to learn more about Jon Davidson, the Chairman of the Coalition for Responsible Government 2004, which is backing the recall of City Councilors Chris Medlock and Jim Mautino.

The Whirled story mentions that he recently resigned from the board of the Tulsa Metro Chamber, but the October newsletter (PDF) still lists him as vice chairman of the Chamber for the Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Davidson is general manager of the Sheraton Tulsa Hotel. I wondered whether the hotel's owners were aware that their employee is launching himself into a divisive political controversy that could hurt the hotel's image in the community. So I went to find out who owns the hotel.

The Sheraton Tulsa Hotel is not owned by Starwood, the parent company of the Sheraton brand. Behind the desk at the Tulsa Sheraton is this sign, which is probably required by the franchise agreement:

The Sheraton Tulsa Hotel is indpendently owned by Tulsa Garnett Hotel Ventures and operated by Regency Hotel Management under a license issued by the Sheraton Corporation.

Some further digging revealed that Tulsa Garnett Hotel Ventures and Regency Hotel Management are both South Dakota corporations, based in Sioux Falls, and owned by the Ramkota Companies. They acquired the hotel, formerly a Marriott, in 1995, renovated and rebranded it as a Sheraton, and installed Davidson as general manager in the fall of that year.

Here is the website for Regency Hotel Management, which currently features the Sheraton Tulsa on the website banner. A link on the home pages reads, "Regency Hotel Management & itís [sic] affiliates own more than 60 properties in 21 states..." and when you click on the link, then click on the south central region, you will see that the Sheraton Tulsa is listed as one of those properties owned by Regency or one of its affiliates. David Sweet is the registered agent in South Dakota of Tulsa Garnett Hotel Ventures, LLC. Sweet is also the CEO of the Ramkota Companies, Inc., and of Regency Hotel Management, Inc. All three companies share the same registered address of 3211 West Sencore Drive, Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Would a South Dakota-based hotel chain with 60 properties really want to be involved in a political controversy in Tulsa? I think it very unlikely that the home office in Sioux Falls has any idea of the controversy and bad publicity the manager of their only Tulsa property is going to be generating. Here is a link to their contact page. If you support Jim Mautino and Chris Medlock, you might want to let Regency CEO David Sweet know, as politely and gently as you can, that their Mr. Davidson is heading up an effort to overturn the election of two members of the City Council (elected with 55% and 59% of the vote, respectively), that you support these councilors, and that you don't appreciate Mr. Davidson's efforts to remove them.

UPDATE on an earlier item: I mentioned the connection between the Coalition's treasurer, Herbert P. Haschke, Jr., and Lou Reynolds, one of the two members of Tulsa's water board who was denied reappointment to the board by the Council majority. Haschke also has a connection to Jim Cameron, the other board member denied reappointment. Haschke and Cameron were co-incorporators, along with Ken Underwood, of IHCRC Realty Corporation, which was incorporated in 1996 and dissolved in 2000.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Tulsa Recall 2005 category from October 2004.

Tulsa Recall 2005: September 2004 is the previous archive.

Tulsa Recall 2005: November 2004 is the next archive.

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