Tulsa Recall 2005: April 2005 Archives

Rick Westcott, chairman of Tulsans for Election Integrity, the group opposing the recall of Tulsa City Councilors Jim Mautino and Chris Medlock, has posted a response to Judge Ronald Shaffer's Thursday ruling against TfEI. Here's one of the key paragraphs from the ruling:

The Charter of the City of Tulsa requires that the City Clerk verify that the signatures on the supporting petitions correspond with the signatures appearing on the voter registration books. It would be ludicrous to require, over and above the City Charter, the City Clerk compare the signatures. That would require the Clerk to become an expert on handwriting exemplars, which is not required.

Westcott explains the basis for TfEI's appeal of the decision:

Here's the thing: The Judge's opinion states that the City Charter requires the Clerk to "verify" that the signatures on the supporting petitions "correspond" with the signatures appearing on the voter registration books. But then, the opinion states that the Clerk should not be required to actually compare the signatures because that would be too difficult.

How would the Clerk "verify" that the signatures on the supporting petitions "correspond" with the signatures on the voter registration books unless he actually compares the signatures? Should the Clerk be excused from complying with the requirements of the Charter because it might be difficult? Should we all be excused from complying with laws because it might be difficult? The Clerk made no attempt to compare the signatures. If he had, it is possible that there could have been enough glaring, obvious forgeries that the petitions would have easily been invalidated.

Can some attorney tell me: Is "ludicrous" a term of art? Would someone look that up in Black's Law Dictionary and post the definition?

Also, is there a technical meaning of the term "correspond" that allows someone to verify whether A corresponds to B without actually setting eyes on B? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

At about 3 p.m. today, District Judge Ronald L. Shaffer ruled against Tulsans for Election Integrity and Tulsa City Councilors Jim Mautino and Chris Medlock and for the Coalition for Responsible Government 2004 and ordered the Tulsa City Council to call recall elections for the two targeted councilors. I have not seen the ruling, but I have been told that Shaffer ruled that the City Clerk fulfilled the Charter's requirement to validate the petitions (even though he admitted that he did not compare the signatures to those in the election board records as the charter requires) and that the Council's vote to affirm the City Clerk's findings was not a resolution and therefore did not require a majority of the Council to approve it. Under Shaffer's ruling, the Council has no discretion and is obliged to call the election.

And so they did. Acting City Attorney Alan Jackere rushed to have the election resolutions added to the "New Business" portion of the agenda for tonight's council meeting. Is this a violation of the Open Meeting Act? Jackere will say that it isn't, but here we have a contentious issue on the agenda, and proper notice wasn't given either to the general public or to the interested parties who spoke to the issue at previous meetings. Jackere instructed the Council that they could be arrested for contempt of court if they disobeyed the judge's order, so the vote was 6-0, with Medlock and Mautino recusing themselves, to call the election for July 12.

Was the timing of the ruling deliberate? The quick turnaround between the judge's order at 3 and the start of the council meeting at 6 gave TfEI's attorneys no time to file an appeal or to seek a stay of Shaffer's order until the appeal could be heard.

I never expected a ruling against the pro-recall forces in Tulsa District Court. In hindsight, TfEI should have sought a change of venue to some western Oklahoma district, beyond the Tulsa Whirled's circulation area. I suppose some would say it's rude to suggest that a judge might not be impartial, but judges are human, and judges go to parties, serve on charitable boards, and rub elbows with the high and the mighty, and they're as likely as not to see the world through the same filters as everyone else in their social circles. I lost my confidence that local judges would ever rule against the local power structure when Judge Jane Wiseman ruled that the Vision 2025 ballot was not logrolling, and in her ruling contradicted the rationale she used about 10 years earlier to invalidate the county jail sales tax ballot.

Appeal would still be a possibility, but in the meantime, it's time to get serious about fighting and winning the recall election.

Got an e-mail this morning from a reader asking how to go about starting a recall against a Tulsa City Councilor. The reader said he'd talked to two people at the City Council office and couldn't get a straight answer. Here's my attempt at a straight answer.

The first step is to familiarize yourself with Chapter VII of the City Charter, which governs removal and recall of elective officers.

Next, go down to City Hall, to the City Clerk's office, and request copies of the preliminary petitions submitted against Councilors Mautino and Medlock. Use them as a model for drawing up your own preliminary petition. Since they were accepted as valid, there's a precedent you can depend on when submitting your own preliminary petition.

As you list the reasons for recall, make the strongest case you can. For example, if you were seeking to recall Randy Sullivan for not living in the district he purports to represent, you could cite Title 51, Section 8 of the Oklahoma Statutes, which requires an elected official to live in the district he was elected to represent.

If you're going to recall Bill Christiansen or Randy Sullivan, there's going to be some question about how many signatures are required to start the process. The charter sets the required number of signatures as a percentage "of all those voting in that election district for the affected office in the preceding general election." Since neither had a general election opponent in 2004, is that number 0, or do we go back to the 2002 general election, when each had a contested general election? It would be interesting to submit a preliminary petition with a single signature, just to see what the city does with it. Just expect the City Attorney's office to interpret the law to the advantage of the Cockroach Caucus.

That should be enough to get you started.

Tulsa City Councilor Chris Medlock will be slammed in this morning's Tulsa Whirled over the status of his MBA degree from the University of Tulsa. Medlock was contacted Friday by Whirled reporter P. J. Lassek and told that they were investigating rumors that he did not actually have an MBA degree. This allegation stunned Medlock, who tells his side of the story on his blog:

The only thing more shocking to hear would've been to have been told something to the effect of, "Your campaign literature claims that you have been married to your wife Cheryl for 25 years, but we can find no record of your marriage." Just as I had, in 1979, stood before a Baptist preacher who was more nervous than I, and repeated wedding vows, I knew that I had gone to TU for a year and a half, and studied in the Graduate Business School.

He believed that he had completed all course work for the degree. Because he finished in August of 1992, there was no graduation ceremony for him to walk in, and by the time the next commencement rolled around, he was well-established in his job at T. D. Williamson and didn't seek to participate.

After hearing from Lassek, Medlock visited the TU registrar's office and discovered that he had an incomplete in one course in the Spring 1992 semester for failing to complete one paper. His recollection is that he could have taken a "C" in the course without the paper, but he asked for an incomplete to try to finish and keep his GPA at the needed level to graduate with honors. Over the summer, however, he worked a full-time job, took his final two courses, and worked 10-15 hours a week in the TU computer lab for the scholarship stipend he received, and the paper wasn't completed.

What I find amazing, thinking back to my college years, is that his faculty adviser didn't alert him to the problem. If I recall correctly, MIT checked the records of graduating students some months before commencement and alerted them to anything that might pose a problem.

I expect the Tulsa World and the rest of the Cockroach Caucus to make a mountain out of this molehill. Medlock attended all the required courses, did all the work, save for one paper, and for the last 13 years has believed that he finished his MBA. When the Whirled challenged him about it, he took the initiative to find out what happened and has shared that information openly and publicly.

In the meantime, it appears that the Cockroach Caucus was tipped off about the problem before Medlock was approached. At Thursday night's Council meeting, Councilor Bill Christiansen made reference to Medlock's MBA in a way that seemed like a rhetorical question, but then he waited until Medlock confirmed that he had the degree before going on with his remarks.

MORE: David Arnett comments at Tulsa Today that this is another example of the Whirled's "assassination by adjective."

All those city lawsuits


John S. Denney, counsel for Homeowners for Fair Zoning, has a posted a concise summary of the four pending lawsuits involving the City Council: HFFZ's lawsuit over the handling of their zoning protest petition in F&M Bank's rezoning of 71st and Harvard; F&M's lawsuit against the City and individual councilors over their refusal to approve a plat out of accord with the zoning change that was previously approved; Tulsans for Election Integrity's suit against the City for violating the City Charter in its handling of the recall petitions; and the Coalition for Reprehensible Government's suit to force the City to call a recall election. It's easy to see all the lawsuits and think that City Hall has gone haywire, but former Streets Commissioner Jim Hewgley has said that when he was in office, it was routine for the commissioners to be greeted by process servers after every meeting. Read Denney's summaries, and you'll understand why all these suits are happening.

You can help HFFZ cover the legal bills for their involvement in these suits by taking your business to various merchants, like Quik Trip and Yale Cleaners. Details on how to participate are here.

About this Archive

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

Tulsa Recall 2005: March 2005 is the previous archive.

Tulsa Recall 2005: May 2005 is the next archive.

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