Tulsans will be facing a very critical city office election on Nov. 10. Recent local headline news accounts of the Mayor's decision to lay off Tulsa Police Officers has rightfully skyrocketed the issue of public safety into the forefront. Whatever you do, don't turn away from voting due to the nasty, mud-slinging in the mayor's race. Do your level best to get through the muck, and carefully evaluate who's the best candidate to strengthen public safety, not...cut it.
By strengthening, I don't mean throwing more cash in its direction. I mean developing a conservative approach to wisely use the resources this city can handle. Frills like Bell Jet Ranger helicopters, and new $2 million fire stations must be eliminated. Boots on the ground must be saved, even if it means other non-public safety cuts.
I sat down with two police officers I know, as well as many Tulsa firefighters within the past few days. I'm talking with rank & file ground troops, not the top brass of the departments that sometimes must get City Hall approval before the brass can comment. Virtually unanimous in their voices, the rank & file police officers and firefighters told me they were disgusted by top level promotions going on. Business as usual, while officers and firefighters will either be laid off or have retired members not being replaced.
On the Tulsa fire department, I'm told the three deputy chief positions were recently filed through internal promotions, as well as the four assistant chief positions filled, but sadly the rank & file troops are advised that their numbers may drop.
One member told me that my former position of district fire chief has three "extra" chief officers whose only assignments are to fill in for others, or show up at major fires. One was assigned the job of department spokesperson. The next mayor must institute conservative principles to insure that Tulsa citizens are protected by fire companies responding with the correct number of firefighter aboard (four as demanded by the National Fire Protection Association technical staffing board). Police and fire don't need any more top brass, $1,250 per hour operating cost turbine helicopters, or $2 million dollar fire stations, they need the correct number of boots on the ground to protect our citizens. I don't care what political party the Mayor is a member of, or not a member, I only care that they understand conservative values while getting us through this horrible recession.
In the past, I have given some "insider" political commentary from the perspective of a retired, former City of Tulsa employee (29 years with the Tulsa Fire Department, including service as the former Chief of Training for the TFD, as well as duty as a District Chief in fire suppression) to Urban Tulsa Weekly. In past writings, I have never attempted to tell any reader who they should vote for. I have chosen a path of simply informing voters of the sometimes "hidden agenda" of local politicians, which I have had access to. Some may remember by Guest Editorial Opinion a couple of months ago about former City Councilor Maria Barnes. (Check out "Sanctuary City" on urbantulsa.com)
The reason that former Councilor Barnes is of such concern to me is that I was watching the City Council meeting back in 2007, when former Councilor Barnes voted to keep Tulsa a "Sanctuary city."
By voting this way (in the minority, a blessing for Tulsans), Councilor Barnes essentially wanted to handcuff Tulsa police officers who deal night and day with the growing problem of illegal, undocumented immigrants committing crimes in Tulsa.
Some of course, are violent crimes. I'll always believe that former councilor Barnes thought that evening, that very, very few average Tulsa citizens would notice her vote.
In my mind, proof of that is how she wouldn't even comment about her thoughts, simply choosing to give her verbal vote with a soft-spoken "No," to authorize Tulsa police officers to inquire as to the immigration status of those arrested for an alleged felony crime.
This wasn't about rounding up innocent people; this was about giving police officers another tool, while they risk their lives for us in fighting crime in this city.
In the time since Maria Barnes was voted out of office by her constituents (two years ago), I have participated in an aggressive neighborhood "watch" program in my Midtown neighborhood. I have actually spotted two acts of auto burglaries in the past year, as well as come onto the immediate aftermath of an armed, residential intrusion burglary.
In two of these three cases (one auto burglary, and one armed home break-in) the perpetrators were in fact, illegal undocumented immigrants, the very type of criminal that Maria Barnes shockingly voted to shelter from Police action. I personally contacted police, and/or the homeowners in these cases, offering myself as a court witness in their prosecution proceedings in district court. I was advised after their arrests and bookings that the illegal alien members of the burglary ring were turned over to ICE Officers through contact by both Tulsa Police and the Tulsa County district attorney and have been deported out of the United States. A victory to Tulsa citizens no thanks to former Councilor Barnes.
Another thing that has come to my attention since the publishing of my previous guest editorial was that the campaign literature from Maria Barnes has mysteriously changed. I had previously pointed out to UTW readers that Maria Barnes was calling herself a "progressive" in her campaign materials.
This term "progressive" is the code word for "liberal" used in parts of the nation where voters typically represent conservative values. The use of the "code word" allows the liberal to let liberal voters know what the candidate's values are all about, without having to use the term "liberal." Maria Barnes latest campaign mail-out has removed that word. I don't know if I should see this as any sort of victory, however. Actually, I would rather have a liberal candidate simply let the voters know what they are getting.
We have all seen national candidates that run as moderates, and then show their true liberal colors after being sworn into office. Tulsa is a city predominately of moderate to conservative, core values, especially in the area of public safety, and respect for the law and order. Liberalism seems to be popular in San Francisco and Boston, but not at all in the Midwest, and certainly, not in Oklahoma or Tulsa.
This will be my final reminder to voters of Tulsa's District 4 City Council. When you go into that voting booth on Nov. 10, think of the records of both former City Councilor Maria Barnes, and current City Councilor Eric Gomez.
Councilor Gomez has publicly stated that he believes that Oklahoma House bill 1804, also known as the Oklahoma Taxpayer and Citizen Protection Act was not only fair and just but also very much in the best interest of the citizens of our great city. Former Councilor Barnes called 1804 "mean spirited" and stated that illegal's should "get legal", a phrase that I still don't understand its meaning.
Does "get legal" mean to return to their native country and apply for legal immigration just as my great Grandfather did? Maria Barnes has never explained that comment to the voters. Does she think the voters are not intelligent enough to understand her views, or are they just not progressive enough?
Has Councilor Eric Gomez been a perfect City Councilor? Probably not. But he has steadfastly demanded that the laws of the state of Oklahoma, and the City of Tulsa must be respected.
I would recommend your deepest consideration of re-electing City Councilor Eric Gomez. I do not ever want to see this great city go back to the gutter of "sanctuary city" status, where those who have no respect for America's laws have free rein. Tulsa citizens deserve better than that. Let the community organizing groups defend illegal undocumented immigrants, not your City Councilor who is sworn to uphold the laws of this city.
I trust the citizen taxpayers to do the right thing. Your safety and very life is at stake, as well as your friends, family and neighbors.
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