Battle Lines Drawn Between Tulsa Mayor And City Councilors

Thursday, June 24th 2010, 5:28 pm
By: News On 6

 By Emory Bryan, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- The animosity at Tulsa City Hall continued Thursday, as the city council met to investigate the mayor's chief assistant and then discussed replacing the mayor with a city manager.

This week, the mayor and some city councilors disagreed on the budget, on whether his chief of Staff might be a liar, and on whether or not we need a mayor at all.

Outside city hall Thursday afternoon a dozen people held signs supporting Mayor Dewey Bartlett. They argued that Tulsa doesn't need a city manager to run things.

"So we just believe there's a checks and balance that goes with having a mayor and city council," said Deborah. "And they should be mature enough and strong enough people to work together for the good of this city, to help this city do what it's supposed to do."

As they marched, the city council talked. It was the first official discussion of a potential charter change taking power away from the mayor.

6/22/2010 Related Story: Tulsa City Council Discusses Replacing Mayor With City Manager

It's the idea of long time council member Roscoe Turner, who said it's not directed at Mayor Bartlett.

"The council itself would go out and find somebody who has worked with a city, knows what's going, how to run a city, and make them the city manager," Turner said.

In the middle of all this is Mayor Dewey Bartlett, who is increasingly at odds with the city council. He's frustrated they continue private meetings to discuss accusations against his Chief of Staff Terry Simonson.

6/22/2010 Related Story: Tulsa City Council To Continue Simonson Report Discussion Thursday

"That Mr Simonson lied to the City Council and Department of Justice, both in my view have been refuted," he said.The council defends the investigation and the time they're taking to review its 200 plus pages, including transcripts of city council meetings, broadcast interviews and emails.

"This is something that we take extremely seriously and we don't want to reach a wrong conclusion," Councilor Rick Westcott said. "Either for Mr Simonson's sake of for the citizens of Tulsa's sake."

As for the Simonson investigation, the council plans to do more talking and possibly take action next Thursday.

On the city manager, it's just the beginning of the conversation, but councilors agreed to set up some discussions on it to hear more.

In addition to discussing a city manager and the investigation into Terry Simonson, The Tulsa City Council voted to create a "rainy day" fund that would start filling up when the city has the money.

Councilor GT Bynum backed the idea to create a rainy day fund that would capture money in good years and save it for years when the sales tax drops.

The City of Tulsa currently carries a reserve fund of 5%, but even that has dwindled during the last year.

Council aides determined if the fund had been started 14 years ago, none of the past years cutbacks would have been needed.

Even though the council approved the rainy day fund, it also is a charter change and that will have to go to voters in November.