Legal Battle Lines Drawn Between Tulsa City Government And Citizens

Thursday, July 15th 2010, 10:39 pm
By: News On 6

By Ashli Sims, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- The battle lines are drawn in Tulsa city government with one group of Tulsa citizens trying to oust the mayor and another group launching a legal attack against the city council.

Small in numbers, but armed with the strength of their convictions, these folks staked out City Hall with a petition to recall Mayor Dewey Bartlett.

Life-long Tulsan Melissa Shaw is fed up.

"But there's so many lies, and we've been saying all along hey he's lying about this, and then the investigation came out and now there's proof, yeah - he lied," said protestor Melissa Shaw.

7/15/2010 Related Story: Tulsa City Council Considers Next Move In Struggle With Mayor

"I never lied. Terry Simonson never lied. Never," said Mayor Dewey Bartlett.

Some city councilors believe they may have been misled when Bartlett's administration told them a federal grant couldn't save dozens of police officers' jobs. That money was eventually used to hire the cops back, but only after the city spent more than $300,000 to terminate them.

"It involves the integrity of your city government. It involves whether you can believe the mayor or his chief of staff or the city council when they make a statement of fact," said City Councilor Rick Westcott.

The city council met Thursday afternoon to discuss their options, which include tapping a special prosecutor to pursue a criminal case. But it's not clear if the city council has the authority to do so.

And while the council wrangles with pursuing a legal case against the mayor and his chief of staff, the councilors have found themselves ensnared in their own legal battle.

7/15/2010 Related Story: Tulsa City Council Sued Over Contentious Executive Session

Three citizens have filed a lawsuit against them for violating the open meetings act, during their investigation of Mayor Bartlett and Terry Simonson.

"The city council acted lawfully at all times. I am completely confident that we did absolutely nothing wrong," Westcott said.

"I think the citizens are obviously very concerned about how the council is acting," said Mayor Dewey Bartlett. "They like to see a resolution of it somehow, and the courts will be involved and they'll make a decision."

The city council is giving its attorney two weeks to find out whether they can involve a special prosecutor.

If they can't get a special prosecutor, they're considering handing the matter over to the city auditor and the ethics committee.