Community Reacts To Indictments

Friday, January 23rd 2009, 5:53 pm
By: News On 6

By Scott Thompson, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- The indictments of two former public works managers and four area businessmen have Tulsa talking.

Many community leaders are speaking out, and the construction industry wants to get the word out this is an isolated case.

Six people face charges, two of them former Tulsa city employees. The indictments have some saying it's evidence of a bad undertow plaguing City Hall.

"Well, I was surprised about the indictment, but really I wish I could say I was more surprised," said Julie Hall with the Who Owns Tulsa? group.

"What went through my mind was, 'Hey, they haven't gone far enough,'" said Jim Mautino, former city Councilor.

Mautino and Hall are longtime Tulsa residents involved in efforts to make the city a better place.

Hall helped found Who Owns Tulsa?, a neighborhood group that wants city leaders to be more transparent and work closer with residents.

She said the indictments of former city employees Albert Martinez and Larry Baker confirm suspicions that City Hall is out of touch with taxpayers.

"I think for a long time people have had this feeling that something wasn't quite right at the city," Julie Hall said.

Mautino points to an audit from 1994 detailing problems within the city's public works department to show that more needs to be done to assure taxpayers their money is not going to waste.

"We need a complete audit of public works from the top down," Jim Mautino said.

Those in construction are worried the industry could get a bad name because leaders of three area construction companies are accused of bribing public officials.

"It's very sad for the contracting community," said Bobby Stem, director of the Association of General Contractors.

But Stem said his organization works with contractors about ethics and the law, even bringing in high-profile speakers to address Oklahoma businessmen.

Only the lawyer for Max Wolf would talk to The News On 6, but he said he would not comment until he has seen all the evidence.

Calls to the indicted men have not been returned.