Tulsa Mayor's Lawyer Calls Council Action 'Beyond Belief'

Friday, July 30th 2010, 6:08 pm
By: News On 6

By Emory Bryan, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- Mayor Dewey Bartlett's attorney says there is no basis to have the state Attorney General give advice to the City Council about prosecuting Bartlett. 

7/29/2010  Related Story: Tulsa City Council Asks State AG To Handle Case Against Mayor Dewey Bartlett

Attorney Joel Wohlgemuth sent a letter to the City Council late Friday, demanding any correspondence the council has with the AG's office, and claiming the mayor and Terry Simonson now are victims of slander and malicious prosecution. 

Read Joel Wohlgemuth's letter.

Terry Simonson's attorney, David O'Meilia, also sent a letter to the city council.

The tension, according to insiders and outsiders, is growing.

To get some perspective on what's happening, The News On 6 spoke with two people with some history at city hall.

"There's a way to work those things out," said Rodger Randle, former Tulsa Mayor.

Randle served the first term under the current form of government. He has been watching what's happening now at city hall.

"What we are seeing now is something we haven't ever seen as to the level of acrimony between the mayor and city council and it's something the city can't afford to have continue," Randle said.

City Councilor Bill Christiansen agrees and says it's the worst he's seen in eight years on the council.

"I think the difference right now to me is that there seems to be a tremendous divide between the council and the mayor, a bigger divide than I've ever seen before," Christiansen said.

The acrimony between the nine councilors and Mayor Dewey Bartlett started soon after they all took office in December. 

With a dwindling budget, and sharp political differences, the disagreement has grown into lawsuits, an investigation and now possible prosecution of Bartlett and his Chief of Staff Terry Simonson.

"I think the mayor needs to realize that city government in this form is advanced and is doing its job when there's compromise between elected officials," said Christiansen.

"Controversy between the mayor and the city council will always exist and should exist," Randle said.

Randle believes there should be some compromise, but says the debate at least is healthy. But as far as the most contentious argument at city hall...

"Whether the city council has the authority to investigate the mayor, that's a question we couldn't have imagined back when I was mayor," Randle said.

The mayor's lawyer said Friday he would defer a possible lawsuit against the council if they would agree to mediation. Councilor Christiansen, for one, said there's nothing to mediate.