Tulsa City Council Chair Predicts Another Battle With Mayor

Tuesday, November 30th 2010, 12:46 pm
By: News On 6

Emory Bryan, News On 6

TULSA, Oklahoma -- The Tulsa City Council is criticizing a new city attorney, before he even starts work. They'll take a vote of no confidence on him this Thursday, but it's really part of the larger battle between the council and Tulsa's Mayor.

11/18/10 Related Story: Tulsa Mayor Names Interim City Attorney 

The mayor and council disagree on whether it's proper for the council to have their own attorney. The mayor has tried before to get rid of the position and Wednesday, the council is convinced he's going to try again.

The city council's attorney is always at the table during their meetings, ready to give immediate legal advice, which is frequently needed. But Tuesday, the council seemed sure the Mayor is about to try again to eliminate their staff attorney, this time by appointing a new chief attorney for the city who will take on the cause.

"I don't know why that's the number one battle with all the issues the city has going on, that he wants to address," said Councilor Chris Trail.

As of Wednesday, David Pauling will be the new interim City Attorney. He's served in the job before and is married to a lawyer who still works in the city attorney's office.

Several councilors believe Bartlett rearranged staffing to skirt the rules on nepotism in the city legal department.

"The mayor is hiring somebody and he is having to realign the city attorney's office to meet the requirements of ordinances, so a husband and wife can work in the same department, and I have trouble with that," said Councilor Bill Christiansen.

But their chief complaint about the new city attorney is that they believe he will go after their attorney, Drew Rees. Rees drew the attention of the mayor when Rees advised the council on their investigation of Bartlett.

10/5/2010 Related Story: Emails Reveal More Debate Over Tulsa City Council Attorney Position

On several occasions, Rees has informed the mayor he was out of order during debates with the council. The council believes it's a personal vendetta by Mayor Bartlett against their attorney.

"And this council will find itself locked in another unpleasant, ugly public battle with Mayor Bartlett that is not our choosing," Councilor Rick Westcott said. "Every one of us has urged Mayor Bartlett to give up this fight."

Mayor Bartlett's office had no comment on the council's suspicions and their plan to take a vote of no confidence in the new city attorney, on what will be his second day back on the job.