By Emory Bryan, The News On 6
TULSA, OK -- The accusations of corruption at Tulsa's City Hall sparked a quick response from Mayor Kathy Taylor. She may suddenly be facing a trifecta of troubles.
The mayor was already dealing with accusations at the Tulsa Fire Department and Tulsa Transit when the federal indictment came out that claims millions were skimmed off city contracts without anyone noticing.
Mayor Taylor described it as a disappointment, but her voice was shaking with anger over what she called both a scandal and breach of the public trust.
"This type of behavior or anything close to it is unacceptable and will not be tolerated by my administration," said Mayor Taylor.
Taylor said she has confidence most all city employees are honest, but pledged to clean up ethical issues that now have touched three departments in one week.
"The actions of the U.S. Attorney serve as a reminder to all of us that bribery fraud or any misuse of taxpayer funds will be discovered and prosecuted to the full extent of the law," said Mayor Kathy Taylor.
Besides the scandal in public works, the fire department is accused of falsifying training records for paramedics. And, an audit of Tulsa Transit raised questions about how federal funding is being spent.
Transit's Chief Executive Bill Cartwright was suspended with pay pending another audit.
"We understand that this breaches the trust of the citizens of this city," said Mayor Kathy Taylor.
The mayor took immediate action after the indictment revealed the city paid inflated prices for street work to cover the cost of bribes.
"Effective immediately, we are withholding all payments, obviously with the contractors indicted, but in addition, we are freezing all payments on all contracts with the City of Tulsa until the close of business Monday, so I can meet with my management team, to review our ethics standards and compliance polices. Each member of the management team will be charged with reviewing these standards with every employee. Each employee will be required to sign and reaffirm their compliance with those standards and we will reemphasize the standards of complying and reporting," said Mayor Kathy Taylor.
The city is working on changes at the fire department to clean up the records and is planning an independent audit of Tulsa Transit to find out what's happening with the money in that department.
The mayor says it's too early to know if anyone, other than the people on suspension or under indictment, ought to be fired.
01/22/2009 Federal Indictments Announced
01/21/2009 State Investigating Tulsa Fire Department