TULSA, OK -- Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett issued a news release Friday in the continuing battle between his office and the city council. He responds to Thursday's meeting of the city council with their attorney, in which possible disciplinary action against the mayor and his chief of staff was discussed.
A few hours later, City Council Chairman Rick Westcott released an answering statement.
We reprint both statements as written.
Mayor Dewey Bartlett:
I was not present during the City Council's Special Meeting yesterday afternoon where the Council discussed taking possible disciplinary action against me and members of my staff, including my Chief of Staff Terry Simonson. I have been informed that the Council discussed, and is now considering, numerous options related to disciplining me and members of my staff. Again, I want to unequivocally state that I have never lied to the City Council.
It is clear that taking any purported disciplinary action against me or any member of my staff is beyond the limited powers granted to the City Council by the Tulsa City Charter or the Tulsa City Ordinances. The Council's consideration of such unauthorized action is yet another unfortunate example of the Council's continued disregard for the rule of law that governs all of its actions.
My understanding is that among the options discussed by the City Council during yesterday's Special Meeting are: (1) publicly censuring me or Mr. Simonson, (2) taking a vote of no confidence, (3) making numerous punitive recommendations regarding Mr. Simonson and imposing restrictions on him, (4) filing a bar complaint against Mr. Simonson, or (5) referring the matter to the City Auditor or the Ethics Commission. Each of these so-called "options" is beyond the Council's authority under our Charter. In addition, there are no facts to support any of these unauthorized measures.
I appreciate and strongly support the fact that the Council has certain rights and responsibilities to ensure effective government under the City Charter. I am, however, very disappointed that the City Council continues to take measures at its meetings that are both destructive of effective city government and beyond the authority granted to the Council by the people of the City of Tulsa.
The City Council should immediately cease its personal attacks on me, Mr. Simonson, and members of my administration. Rather, the Council should return its focus and efforts to its duties to follow the City Charter and act in the best interests of the Tulsa citizens. The Council's energies would be far better served helping to solve the financial issues that our City faces. The personal attacks and unauthorized conduct which have defined the City Council's actions in recent days, weeks, and months are, in my view, inappropriate and must stop now.
The citizens of Tulsa have, through the City Charter, tasked the City Council with following the rule of law and acting for the benefit of all citizens. Notably absent from the City Charter, the City Ordinances or any other rule of law governing the Council is any provision which would even arguably permit the pursuit of personal vendettas which has dominated the Council's recent course of conduct. The personal attacks must end. We must put these matters behind us and move forward in a sincere effort to resolve the real issues affecting our citizens.
Dewey F. Bartlett, Jr.
Mayor, City of Tulsa
Councilor Rick Westcott:
I find it ironic that the mayor calls for collaboration behind an attorney through the media. Yesterday's Special Meeting of the City Council was open to the public, and the Mayor was free to attend, as was evidenced by the presence of numerous media representatives and members of the Mayor's staff. He chose not to attend.
The City Council has not engaged in any personal vendettas or any personal attack. We have acted in a calm, reasonable manner, and we conducted an investigation, free from political influence, of very detailed allegations which were made by three highly respected Deputy Police Chiefs. The City Council has not been distracted by this investigation or the Mayor's statements.
We have continued to conduct the business of the citizens of Tulsa. We approved a municipal budget of nearly a half billion dollars. The Council found money to put both police helicopters back in service, restore half of the city employees' furlough days, restore salaries and benefits to the fire fighters, restore our highway lighting, increase the mowing cycles of city property and increase enforcement of parking meter ordinances—all without increasing fees or taxes.
The Mayor's habit of communicating to the Council via the press does not serve anyone well. He should engage with us as a group and individually, not behind an attorney through the media. By doing so, he continues to contradict his stated desire to put differences aside and work together.
The City Council will continue to move forward, acting within the law at all times. We remain willing to work with the Mayor in a genuine collaborative effort, for the benefit of the citizens of Tulsa. I hope that he will begin to cooperate with us instead of battling against us.