Tulsa City Council, Mayor Settle Dispute Over City Attorney Position, For Now

Thursday, December 9th 2010, 7:15 pm
By: News On 6

Emory Bryan, News On 6

TULSA, Oklahoma -- The Tulsa City Council and the Mayor's administration have made peace, on at least one issue.

The City Attorney has backed off from the effort to strip some authority from the Council's attorney. The council was, early in the week, considering a vote of no confidence against the City Attorney, mainly because he was going after their attorney.

12/8/2010 Related Story: Tulsa Mayor, City Council Divided Over City Attorney Position

Now he's changed his mind and the council has changed theirs.

The Tulsa City Council can forgive, while not forgetting what they perceived as a threat from the new, interim City Attorney, David Pauling. Pauling had taken the Mayor's side in a dispute over the authority of the City Council's attorney.

Now he's changed his opinion, and at least for now, so has the council.

"We're trying to give David the benefit of the doubt, and you know see how he does," Councilor Bill Christiansen said.

Councilor John Eagleton had started work on a resolution of "no confidence" against Pauling. That's now been tabled, not dropped, so it could come back, if there's a change of heart.

Councilor Chris Trail says after one-on-one meetings with Pauling, the council and the city attorney have an understanding.

"Right now, after he reviewed some old memos, he's ok with it. It's more or less kind of a stand down," Councilor Chris Trail said.

Mayor Bartlett was happy the no confidence vote was canceled and remains confident in his pick for city attorney.

"He's now becoming better known the councilors and once they get to know him, they'll see his perspective is good and they won't worry about having a vote of confidence in him," Bartlett said.

The city attorney now calls the council's attorney situation a "reasonable working relationship."

Read the city attorney's letter to the city council

During Thursday night's meeting, the council also unanimously denied a request from Mayor Dewey Bartlett for a $7,028 reimbursement for travel expenses.

Read the Mayor's request

The money was a donation from the Tulsa Community Foundation, meant to reimburse the Mayor for essential City travel, because there is not money in the regular city budget for any significant travel.

12/2/2010 Related Story: Tulsa Council Critical Of Mayor Accepting Travel Reimbursement

Bartlett has already accepted the money, which he said was paid directly to him in a check. City Council Attorney Drew Rees told Councilors Thursday that the direct reimbursement was a violation of city policy. Councilor Rick Westcott went further and said "The mayor violated city ordinances."

Bartlett said last week that if the council determined his acceptance of the money was improper, he would repay it. Bartlett spent the money on trips to Washington DC primarily, for economic development.

The council also has elected new leadership.  Maria Barnes will serve Chairman for the next year and Jim Mautino will serve as Vice Chair.  Barnes served as Vice Chair for the previous year and Rick Westcott was Chairman.