POSTED ON MAY 15, 2013:
The City's News
All the news we can make fit
Odd Man Up? Mayor Dewey Bartlett chose to stand up before answering each question asked of him at the Leadership Tulsa forum held May 9 at the Tulsa Country Club.
It may have been a reasonable choice to give those in the back of the room a clear view of who was speaking.
But neither former city councilor Bill Christiansen nor former mayor Kathy Taylor chose to stand, making Bartlett's move seem a bit curious by comparison.
Despite the more formal approach, Bartlett spoke in a more relaxed style at the breakfast event than a televised debate the previous night.
In a way, he had nowhere to go but up. In that earlier debate, televised by KTUL and sponsored by the Tulsa League of Women Voters, Christiansen freely criticized both Bartlett and Taylor without having to worry much about getting hammered in return.
For example, in the KTUL debate, Christiansen directly criticized Bartlett for not appearing at board and authority meetings, instead sending a representative in his place. Bartlett responded by stating that it would be "a misuse of my time if I spent all of my time going to meetings," describing his philosophy as making good hires and allowing those people to do their jobs.
That evening left Bartlett on the defensive. At the forum for Leadership Tulsa, a nonprofit group that every year selects applicants for a civic-minded educational program, Bartlett talked about his diverse business background and emphasized his "track record" while mayor, describing the city as "in a much, much better condition" than when he took over for Taylor.
Only now is his campaign beginning to take aim at Christiansen as the June 11 nonpartisan primary election draws near. With the well-funded Taylor likely able to outspend her opponents, it's a strong possibility that either Bartlett or Christiansen -- both of whom have previously run as Republicans -- will be forced out of the race. If any candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote, he or she would win the election outright.
On April 5, Dan Patten, campaign manager for Dewey Bartlett, dismissed a question from Urban Tulsa Weekly about a robocall poll paid for by Christiansen. "What other campaigns do and don't do, that's kind of their own prerogative," Patten said at the time. The poll drew the ire of Taylor and also asked potential voters if they knew that, in the past, "Mayor Bartlett has endorsed and supported Kathy Taylor." At the time, Patten responded only that Bartlett is "on record saying that he regrets the endorsement."
But just more than a month later, Patten's tone has changed dramatically. On May 11, Bartlett's campaign released a news statement highly critical of Christiansen.
"Once again Bill Christiansen is using dirty political tricks to deceive the public. It's exactly what he did as a member of the 'old' city council which kept Tulsa embroiled in controversy and conflict," the news statement began.
Bartlett's campaign is upset at a mailer from a group known as the Oklahoma Leadership Fund, a political action committee. The piece of mail, according to an image provided by the Bartlett campaign, states that its message is "not authorized or approved by any candidate" and shows Bartlett wearing a Taylor button -- a doctored image, Patten said in an interview. Bartlett's campaign is calling for Christiansen to "provide evidence he was not involved" with the mailer.
In an interview, Christiansen denied any involvement in the mailer. "I wasn't involved at all. I didn't even know about it," Christiansen said. His campaign manager, Josh McFarland, dismissed an argument made by Bartlett's campaign that suggested a link because the same mailing company, Target Marketing Direct Mail Services, was involved in both the Oklahoma Leadership Fund mailer and an earlier Christiansen-approved mailer.
"If they use Target Marketing, that's just a coincidence. I think people will laugh at their accusation if that's their link. I honestly only know of two or three mail houses that people use" in Tulsa, McFarland said.
In any case, Bartlett's campaign certainly is no longer ignoring Christiansen.
Not Flying So High. Bond rating service Moody's described why investors should think twice before purchasing general airport revenue and revenue refunding bonds issued by the Tulsa Airport Improvement Trust, which oversees Tulsa International Airport as well as R.L. Jones, Jr. Airport.
"Enplanements continue to decline for nearly five straight years," noted a statement from Moody's Investor Service released Monday, May 13.
However, the influential ratings service -- which reaffirmed existing A3 ratings for the bonds -- also described how the pending merger between American Airlines and U.S. Airways could be good for Tulsa.
"We believe the announced merger improves the likelihood that American will continue to keep a meaningful presence in Tulsa," the organization said in its statement.
Dentist Investigation. With only a small percentage of W. Scott Harrington patients testing positive for hepatitis B, hepatitis C or HIV -- just under 2 percent, according to public testing numbers released May 9 by the Tulsa Health Department -- the questions now relate to proving that Harrington's dental office somehow led to the infections.
Tulsa made national news when health authorities announced that investigators had found unsanitary practices at Harrington's offices in midtown and Owasso. Thousands of patients were notified that they were at risk for disease possibly transferred by unsterilized dental implements.
Only three patients have been diagnosed with HIV, but while it may be cold comfort for them, the number of infections is relatively low. Tulsa County District Attorney Tim Harris said in a May 9 statement that investigation of Harrington will involve multiple agencies, with no precise way to estimate how long such an investigation will take.
"Depending on what the investigation reveals, it is possible charges could be filed by the Tulsa County DA's office, or by the state attorney general or by federal prosecutors," Harris said in a statement. "Prosecutors for all agencies will objectively look at the evidence and then make those decisions."
The statement continued: "The goal is to do a thorough investigation and then make some common sense decisions on potential criminal charges and which agency is in the best position to prosecute any case."
Out of the Woods? With recent rains, it occurs to Urban Tulsa Weekly that we might be done with the drought that has plagued us in recent memory. But is it actually over?
"Well, of course, it's extremely difficult to say. The latest U.S. drought monitor map still has us listed as being in a drought," said Gary McManus, an associate state climatologist.
Speaking the morning after a rain-soaked night last week, he said that the rains weren't included in the latest drought map, but even if rainfall totals had been completely up to date, there's no hard-and-fast cutoff line for when a drought is over.
"We can look at those impacts on soils and lake levels to try and figure if we're still in a drought. When we talk about 'officially' over, we can use the monitor maps, but it's extremely difficult to see the impacts. You have to wait awhile after a rain," he said. "There's a lot of drought relief going on right now. There's still some drought lingering in northwest Oklahoma, but east central Oklahoma is officially out of drought. But as you go to the north and the south, there's still drought lingering."
As hotter months approach, climatologists will continue to monitor drought -- or non-drought -- conditions.
URL for this story: http://www.urbantulsa.comhttp://www.urbantulsa.com/gyrobase/Content?oid=oid%3A60024