Nonpartisan Means Nonpartisan
Tulsa voters approved changing municipal elections from partisan to nonpartisan. Unfortunately, Mayor Dewey Bartlett is doing his best to convince voters that next month’s election is still a Democrat and Republican affair.
He needs Republicans to vote for the label and not spend their time reviewing his record. The mayor has made little effort in cultivating former Councilor Bill Christiansen supporters, who are pivotal to winning re-election.
Former Mayor Kathy Taylor may have said it best with “two-thirds of Tulsans voted to elect a new mayor. Between Councilor Christiansen and myself, two-thirds of Tulsans said we’re not satisfied with what’s happening today.”
Well, what is happening today? From my office window overlooking Boulder Avenue, the traffic is very light coming and going downtown. Some days, a car passes every five minutes or so. There are also no construction cranes in the air. This all makes sense with practically no economic development taking place. Even the coming $919 million capital improvement tax package doesn’t include one dime for putting permanent water in the Arkansas River.
Wouldn’t that be a game changer for Tulsa, a real economic uplift? Yet, our “business gettingness” mayor lets the river slip by as he tries to take credit for the 7,000 jobs added in the metropolitan boundary over the last four years. That makes it 146 jobs per month. This column reported the state of Utah gaining 18,000 California jobs in just one month. Why? Because they worked on it and called in California. As the Utah governor’s office reported they had “boots on the ground.”
Mayor Bartlett must have been tending to his oil business. He certainly wasn’t attending the board meetings of statutory authorities of which he is a member.
You may recall the audit of EMSA done by State Auditor Gary Jones. The audit was critical of EMSA’s management and the board for its oversight. As reported by Fox23 News, “Some examples of extravagant spending included more than $30,000 spent on flower arrangements over a three-year period for office beautification and consolation gifts. Noteworthy spending also included reimbursement for the longtime CEO Stephen Williamson including a $400 trip to a spa, $450 for an American Airlines Admirals Club membership, a $669 hotel bill not including the room charge, but composed of charges such as room service, a mini bar and data service, a $1,105 dinner with seven board and staff members; and two lifetime subscriptions to Satellite Radio Services for $800. The audit report says Williamson’s reimbursements comprised 50 percent of all reimbursements for EMSA employees: more than $316,000.
No wonder the full-figured Mr. Williamson is hinting at the need for another rate hike.
Another out of control authority that Mayor Bartlett sits on is Tulsa’s TARE Board. Tare is short for Tulsa Authority for the Recovery of Energy. TARE as you may recall had worked itself out of a job, but since no bureaucracy ever lets itself simply vanish, the authority reworked Tulsa’s trash collection system, borrowed millions of dollars and charged ahead. Competent trash haulers were fired and new pricing policies implemented. Most service billings doubled. Green waste required special tags and clear trash bags.
But, it was worth it. Right? Wrong.
The green waste recovery equipment never worked. So for a year, Mayor Bartlett’s people postured, burned all the trash together and kept the money. The mayor’s excuse was that he missed most of those board meetings.
Do Tulsans really want a mayor who can’t even pick up the trash? A real absentee mayor with practically no vision for the future or plan for today?
When Mayor Bartlett looks west towards the river, he squints. He doesn’t see endless possibilities only an empty gash in the land. We’ve given the mayor every opportunity to produce. He doesn’t own the job. It’s time for Dewey to return to Keener Oil.