Sticking with His Day Job. Bill Christiansen may find himself being wooed by the two remaining candidates for Tulsa mayor.
But there's one offer he would reject: serving in either the administration of Dewey Bartlett or Kathy Taylor.
"It hasn't entered my mind, and I'm not interested. I have my own business, which I love," said Christiansen, who founded Christiansen Aviation more than 40 years ago.
Christiansen finished third in the June 11 mayoral primary, ending his bid for the city's top job. As for a potential future run for public office, Christiansen said he's keeping "all avenues to that open for now."
Budgeting Change. "I hope that was a joke," Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett said.
He had just been warned that he had one minute left to address the city council, interrupting him as he outlined concerns about funding an additional police academy.
The laughter in the room suggested it was a somewhat light-hearted comment, but Bartlett wasn't smiling much. He eventually continued on, making a serious case for a conservative approach to the city budget.
Funds to hire more personnel "have to be sustainable," Bartlett said.
Councilors nevertheless approved a budget featuring two police academies -- Bartlett had initially proposed a single academy -- at their June 13 meeting. More than a dozen police positions will also be taken over by civilians as part of the budget plan, the idea being to free those officers to perhaps handle patrol duties, for example.
But there was considerable tweaking done to a two-academy plan initially set forth by city councilors Karen Gilbert and G.T. Bynum. The final result included some ideas put forth by Bartlett's administration, which had eventually came up with its own two-academy plan. Earlier that day, Councilor G.T. Bynum expressed concern that his and Gilbert's initial plan relied on too much "windfall" funding, i.e. funds that could be used for the 2013-2014 fiscal year but couldn't be relied upon in subsequent years.
So the council ultimately approved a mix that included some deferred hiring for other departments (five information technology slots and two parks positions), along with deferring computer upgrades and a host of other spending adjustments.
Bartlett, however, noted changes to city employee health care benefits and uncertainty in the city's jail deal with the county, both potential expenses.
He once again touted his sales tax repurposing plan, a long-term proposal to fund public safety and street maintenance.
"I just get worried if that's not going to happen ... We'll have a problem within a year or two," Bartlett said.
Speaking of.... Mayor Dewey Bartlett -- along with police, fire and streets leaders -- made his case for a sales tax repurposing plan to fund public safety needs.
"This is a very, very important proposition that the council will be voting on this week, to simply give the public the right to vote on how the public wants to see their tax monies used by their government," Bartlett said at a Monday, June 17, news conference at city hall.
Bartlett's idea, to re-route 0.167 percent in sales tax dollars to fund police and fire academies, as well as three street maintenance crews, would require voter approval. The tax in question -- currently used to fund infrastructure projects -- is set to expire next year.
The first hurdle to Bartlett's plan is getting the council to agree to even put it on the ballot. While Bartlett said the measure has support from Councilor David Patrick, councilors have been mostly quiet about the idea.
Department leaders at the news conference enthusiastically endorsed Bartlett's plan.
"In my opinion, this is being proactive, and that's what city government should be," Tulsa Police Chief Chuck Jordan said.
The plan would raise approximately $12 million yearly. Bartlett spoke about the need to sustainably fund increases in public safety staffing, and said he would prefer to see the repurposing come without an expiration date -- though he said he would be open to keeping the tax temporary if that's what the council decides.
Nothing says 'I'm Sorry' Like a Blog Post.
A public apology from David Rutkauskas:
"Over the last few months I've not been myself. I've said many horrible, vulgar and hurtful things that I'm so ashamed of. I know my apology can't undo what I've said and can't overcome the shame and embarrassment that I've caused, but from the bottom of my heart I want the world to know that I'm sorry!"
The words came after a particularly bitter and increasingly public dispute between Rutkauskas -- president, chief executive officer and founder of Beautiful Brands International -- and Pennsylvania-based Sean Kelly, operator of the UnhappyFranchisee.com website.
Kelly's site features reporting and criticism from the perspective of people who buy into franchises. Kelly has been an outspoken critic of Rutkauskas and his company.
The dispute included some foul-mouthed Tweets from Rutkauskas to Kelly, as well as a defamation lawsuit filed against him related to Kelly's site and online comments posted to the website of the Tulsa World.
The story took a twist when Kelly's attorney, Jonathan Fortman, provided to Urban Tulsa Weekly an email from Tulsa World editor and investigative reporter Ziva Branstetter to Rutkauskas. Branstetter apparently provided Rutkauskas with a background report on Kelly containing personal information, which Fortman said Rutkauskas then used to send harassing Tweets to Kelly which included references to his finances and family.
Rutkauskas' apology was posted June 12 on his personal website, davidrutkauskas.com.
Rutkauskas described feeling anger at Kelly's criticism, as well as being distraught because of his father's serious health troubles.
"This led me to make some terrible choices. After MANY, MANY years of sobriety, I chose to drink away my pain," Rutkauskas wrote. He concluded his apology by stating he's deactivating his Twitter page and dropping the lawsuit "and any claims" against Kelly to "focus on my health and my family."
One More Apology. It was a back-to-basics approach at the June 17 meeting for residents of the West Highlands/Tulsa Hills neighborhood.
Two weeks earlier, the group had resoundingly rejected a draft small-area plan written by city planners, upset at a perceived lack of response to their concerns about apartment development and lack of roadway infrastructure.
After the contentious meeting, the city cancelled a planned Jun 5 work session involving the Tulsa Metro Area Planning Commission, though the draft plan had already been submitted to the commission for them to look at.
"We submitted the plan too quickly," planner Stephen Sherman told the group of about 20 people gathered at the June 17 meeting.
Talk then focused on identifying basic issues to be discussed in future meetings, including the housing mix in the area.
The group agreed to meet next to talk about potential infrastructure improvements such as road widening and how those issues can or should be addressed within the context of future development.
Park Place. The official public unveiling was scheduled to take place June 18 after deadline, but the George Kaiser Family Foundation's vision for a new public park has taken shape.
Featuring amenities and areas with names like Adventure Playground, The Lodge, Mist Mountain and Sky Garden, the foundation's $200 million parks project is set to begin construction next year.
About 50 acres in size, the park will be built mostly east of Riverside Drive, between approximately E. 26th and E. 33rd streets, though it will also feature Lakeview Lawn, a grassy area to be built onto the Arkansas River. Construction is set to begin in 2014.
"A Gathering Place for Tulsa is a diverse and highly active waterfront park that will complement existing urban amenities and strengthen the connections between the city and its natural environment," said Michael Van Valkenburgh, a principal with firm that designed the park, in a statement.
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