Tulsa Zoning: March 2004 Archives

His rage we can endure


I told you about the "pre-meeting" in the previous entry, and I mentioned that there were some fireworks shortly after.

The neighborhood folks who came for the pre-meeting hoped to speak briefly to Councilor Sam Roop to ask for his support on the Council Consensus that was on the agenda. We were waiting in the Council lobby right after the pre-meeting. I asked a Council staffer if he was in his office and if I could speak with him. She checked -- he was not in his office. She said he's around here somewhere. I asked if he might still be in the library where the pre-meeting was held, and started in that direction. No one seemed to object.

As I approached the door of the library, which is in the northeast corner of the 2nd Floor, I heard a voice coming from the office of a council staffer as I passed:

"Where the hell do you think you're going?"

I turned to reply. I wasn't bothered by the harsh language -- I assumed the comment was made in jest.

"I'm looking for Councilor Roop."

The reply shocked me:

"Get the hell out of here! Get the hell out of here! I hate you!"

And he yelled some other stuff.

And then he yelled, "You kitty-cat!"

Except he didn't say "kitty-cat".

I kept hearing about something called a "pre-meeting". Every week before the Tulsa City Council's televised 6 p.m. regular meeting, they hold a 5 p.m. pre-meeting in the Council library, an area not generally open to the public. The purpose is to go over the agenda, and the chairman indicates which routine items he plans to combine, and which items will be pulled -- maybe because the relevant councilor, official, or citizen can't be at the meeting.

You will not see any mention of the pre-meeting on the Council website (feel free to correct me if I am wrong, but I couldn't find it). Because a quorum of the Council is present they must post an agenda publicly, which they do post at City Hall, but they don't post it on the website. It's clear that they don't expect members of the public to be in attendance.

Many legislative bodies handle this kind of business at the beginning of the regular meeting. A proposed agenda is presented to the body, amendments may be proposed, and the agenda is approved. There's no reason this couldn't be handled in a few minutes at the beginning of the televised regular meeting.

So why have a pre-meeting? And why schedule it a full hour before the regular meeting? I'm told that many of these pre-meetings are quite long, sometimes barely leaving time for councilors to get over to the chamber for the start of the regular meeting. What are they talking about all that time? Are they going beyond technical agenda issues and delving into the substance of issues? These meetings are not recorded and are not publicized.

I decided to find out. With a contentious issue on the agenda, it could be an interesting pre-meeting. So I went down to the City Council offices with a few friends and a digital video camera.

I sent this out to a neighborhood mailing list and thought you all would be interested in it too:

Tonight at their regular 6:00 pm meeting, the Tulsa City Council will again take up a Council Consensus expressing support for retaining and strengthening the protest provisions of the zoning code. Under Title 42, Section 1703(E), a supermajority of seven yes votes is required for a zoning change if the owners of 50% of the land within 300 feet of the affected area, or 20% of the affected area itself. These provisions are an important protection for property owners against arbitrary zoning changes, such as a blanket upzoning or commercial and industrial encroachment into our neighborhoods. This supermajority requirement has been part of state law since the 1920s, and part of Tulsa's zoning code for over 30 years. This is one little bit of leverage that homeowners have, and certain forces are working hard to take even that away from us. (More about that below.)

It is important that we get the City Council on record in support of this protection before next Tuesday's election. If a councilor is unwilling to express support for this protection before the election, he certainly won't push for it once the political pressure is gone. We need to know, before we go to the polls on Tuesday, whether these councilors support keeping this protection in place or sweeping it away. We have some leverage right now that will disappear after next Tuesday. I urge you to attend tonight's meeting, or at least contact councilors and urge their support.

Also, it was mentioned in last week's Council meeting that the City Attorney's office has issued a confidential memo that reportedly proposes an alternative consensus on this issue. Because of its confidential nature, understandably no one will go on record as to its contents. My guess, based on how the City Attorney's office has dealt with this issue so far, is that their proposal would not be in the best interests of neighborhoods. We need to urge our councilors to reject any secret consensus and to commit openly to protecting the supermajority requirement.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Tulsa Zoning category from March 2004.

Tulsa Zoning: February 2004 is the previous archive.

Tulsa Zoning: April 2004 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?]