By Emory Bryan, The News On 6
TULSA, OK -- The Tulsa City Council questioned Mayor Dewey Bartlett about whether he's paying for trips out of town, or whether he's accepting donated travel without getting council approval, as required by the City Charter.
At one point, Councilor Roscoe Turner raised his voice at Councilor John Eagleton, as the two argued whether the Mayor's travel expense procedures were appropriate.
The Councilors questioned the mayor about four out of town trips that they had been told were at Bartlett's personal expense. Bartlett said he expected that some of the expenses would be reimbursed, but so far, he has not sought approval of the donation from the council.
Bartlett questioned Councilors about any specific complaints they might have, asking them, "Have I done anything wrong. I'm serious, have I?"
Councilor Jack Henderson said, "We're just trying to clarify things. I hope you understand, this is not 'Get Dewey Bartlett Day.'"
Councilor Chris Trail told Bartlett his constituents were asking about the mayor's travel expenses.
Councilor Bill Christiansen told the mayor, "All we're asking is that you follow the ordinance."
The City Council Attorney, Drew Rees, briefed the mayor in the meeting about the regulations on travel donations outside the city limits, with the mayor bristling at the notion that before he accepts a meal out of town, he should get the approval of councilors. "The whole thing is silly in my view" said Bartlett.
Bartlett questioned what he's supposed to do when he's suddenly asked to travel on a recruitment trip and doesn't have the time to get approval from council through their formal meetings.
"A lot of times I don't know what's going to happen minute to minute, so I just need to know what I need to do" said Bartlett.
Councilor John Eagleton said the ordinance only requires the mayor to seek approval before accepting the reimbursement, not before taking the trip.
Bartlett said he had taken four out of town trips on city business since taking office and all of them were business recruitment or lobbying trips.
Councilor Eagleton chastised the other councilors for being critical of the mayor's travel and told Bartlett, "I think you're a hero, not a goat."
The Tulsa City Charter, Title 12 Section 505, states "All travel expense donations shall be approved by the council."
Council Attorney Rees told the mayor the council would prefer the mayor seek approval for all donations by asking that it be placed on a council agenda for a committee meeting, then for a formal vote on a Thursday evening.