Rift between several Tulsa city council members and the Chamber of Commerce may beginning to heal

Tuesday, January 18th 2005, 10:39 am
By: News On 6

The bitter feud between the so-called 'Gang of Five' on the Tulsa City Council and the head of the Chamber of Commerce, Bob Poe was on full display Tuesday at the Chamber's annual meeting.

Whether it's on newscasts, or radio talk shows, or in newspaper editorials, it's dominated much of Tulsa's politics. News on 6 reporter Steve Berg has more on that and how the rift might be ending.

“We should have been working with other city councilors who didn't have the same view, instead of being denigrated by some." Outgoing Tulsa Chamber Chairman Bob Poe had plenty to say about the 'Gang of Five.'

Saying they should have supported the annexation of north Tulsa, said they improperly stood in the way of some the Mayor's appointees and improperly stood in the way of providing water to some of Tulsa's surrounding towns.

But they stood in the lobby. City councilor Chris Medlock: "Well, I left at the point where he was saying we were anti-growth because we didn't annex North Tulsa." Councilor Medlock, who has become the informal leader of this informal group, says he was disappointed that Poe devoted so much of his speech to criticizing them. "Rather than holding out an olive branch for unity. Mr. Poe threw more gasoline on an already hot fire."

Whoever's to blame or even if no one's to blame, most seem to agree the rift was bad for business. The new Tulsa Chamber Chairman is Tom Maxwell, the head of Tulsa-based Flintco, a nationally-known construction giant and he says he thinks he can create a more positive relationship between Chamber and Council. "I view it as a new day and if that's the role of the chamber, we need to have unity.”

Chris Medlock: "Mr. Maxwell has taken a step to meet with me and get to know me, Mr. Poe never did."

The 'Gang of Five' appears to be more like the 'Gang of Four', now that Councilor Sam Roop has taken a different stand on some issues, but Medlock says they will continue to be outspoken on issues they feel they need to be.

Mr. Maxwell and Mr. Medlock say the Tulsa Chamber and Tulsa City Council might still disagree on some things, but they both hope future discussions can be more positive.