Tulsa Zoning: April 2004 Archives

There was an amazing revelation in last Thursday's Tulsa City Council meeting, during the debate over the Council consensus affirming the zoning protest petition process, the deadline prior to the Council meeting, and the supermajority requirement. A Council committee is discussing important issues of public policy in closed meetings which are unannounced, a blatant violation of the spirit of the Open Meetings Act, even if it barely falls within the legal requirements.

Councilor Tom Baker revealed that a "working group" is reviewing development issues, as part of an ongoing process relating to his "Compendium of Needs" concept, a bureaucratic, numbers-driven process for strategic planning that Baker pushed through during the previous Council term. Councilor Medlock interrupted to ask Baker who is serving on that working group. Baker replied that he, Randy Sullivan, Bill Christiansen, and David Patrick had been on the working group, but Sam Roop had been invited to take Patrick's place. Roop quickly interjected that he had only been to one meeting.

Further digging revealed that Susan Neal had previously been a member of the group, apparently rotating off in favor of Sullivan. She has been one of the most vocal supporters of Baker's planning process.

Do you spot a pattern? Baker, Sullivan, Christiansen, and Patrick all received campaign contributions from Joe Westervelt, the contentious planning commission chairman. Neal received a contribution from Westervelt in the 2002 election; she didn't need to raise money for this year's race. These five, plus Art Justis, received contributions from F&M Bank board members in the 2002 election. All of them were endorsed for election by the Tulsa Whirled. This little clique is presuming to develop a strategic plan for the Council while hiding from public scrutiny.

Four is the magic number. It's the largest number of councilors that can meet without forming a quorum and triggering the requirements of the state's Open Meetings Act. This working group has been meeting for the past year, in lieu of the Budget Committee, one of the standing committees listed in the Council rules.

The meetings of this working group have not been announced. The agendas are not posted. They are not open to the public. They are not even open to all members of the Council.

This working group has met with the presidents of the local universities, and with area school superintendents. More recently, Josh Fowler, the lobbyist for the development industry, was present at a discussion about land use planning and zoning.

This is part of a broader pattern of hiding information from the public which characterized the Class of 2002. It's the way the Whirled and the Chamber like to do business. The pre-meeting is another example. I am sure that new majority on the Council will work for fairness and openness.

By the way, they meet at lunchtime on Tuesdays. I can't be there, but maybe someone else would like to show up with a camcorder.

About this Archive

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

Tulsa Zoning: March 2004 is the previous archive.

Tulsa Zoning: May 2004 is the next archive.

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