Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett Defends Delay Over JAG Grants
By Emory Bryan, The News On 6
TULSA, OK -- An e-mail to the Tulsa Mayor's Chief of Staff confirms that money from a federal grant could have been used to retain officers who were instead laid off, then rehired.
Because of the gap in employment, the city was forced to pay out $64,000 in severance pay to 35 officers, who were off work for one month.
The e-mail was received by Terry Simonson March 5th, after the officers were rehired.
Several councilors believe the mayor should have worked faster to get the grant money. The mayor says he waited, hoping to make a deal with the union.
"We were still attempting to negotiate with the police union, to make a deal with them," said Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett.
The mayor defended his actions when police layoffs were imminent, but the administration waited to ask about grant money to put some of them back to work.
"What we're doing now is replaying history, whether I did right or wrong, I did what I thought was in the best interest of the City of Tulsa," said Bartlett.
Some councilors want to know a whole lot more about exactly what happened, and when, during the time between the layoff January 29th and the rehire March 1st.
The city paid out $64,000 in severance to 35 officers who were rehired one month later.
Tulsa City Councilor Bill Christiansen believed the mayor should have asked for the grant money before the layoffs happened.
"Had we done it that day, to protect the officers' jobs and to make sure we have the proper number of officers on the street, we wouldn't have gotten so far down the road as to have to pay out the money," said Christiansen.
Mayor Bartlett said the administration believed the layoffs had to be absolutely certain before the city could use the grant and that layoffs weren't certain while negotiations continued.
"We didn't know because we really did think that the union and the membership would have at least allowed a reconsideration and a re vote," said Bartlett.
The administration was unsure about at exactly what point the city qualified to use the federal money. They got the final word on March 5th.