POSTED ON MAY 25, 2011:
A city auditor's report that found that Mayor Dewey Bartlett Jr. violated two sections of the city's ethics code by accepting free legal services from a lawyer who was under contract to do work for the city drew praise from City Councilor G.T. Bynum last week.
Bynum said his hat was off to newly appointed City Auditor Clift Richards, who released a May 19 report that found the mayor violated the city's ethics policy by accepting free legal services from Tulsa attorney Joel Wohlgemuth, who was representing the city in another matter at the same time. The City Council pursued the ethics complaint against the mayor last summer.
"He moved very quickly on this with all due speed to get this out in a very thorough way," Bynum said of Richards, who was sworn into office May 10.
Bartlett said he disagreed with Richards' findings but was still formulating his response to the city's Ethics Advisory Committee earlier this week. He said he would have no further comment until that committee was able to review his response.
Bynum said Richards' findings in the report matched his own expectations.
"This is a fairly common-sense issue to most people I've discussed it with," Bynum said. "My hope is that, rather than be defensive about it, the mayor will simply say, 'I'm not going to do this anymore.' To me, that's the point of an exercise like this, although I realize there are some folks out there who might want to play 'Gotcha' with the mayor. To me, this illustrates a situation from an ethical standpoint that should not occur, and we should use that as a model not just for the mayor but for any of us who hold public office."
Two Plans Now Funded
The City Council unanimously passed a budget amendment for $225,000 May 26 that would provide funding for the creation of two small area plans -- one for a neighborhood in West Tulsa and another for the Utica Avenue corridor between 11th Street and 21st Street.
Small area plans are described in the city's newly updated comprehensive plan as documents that address the issues of a portion of the city, covering as little as 10 acres or as many as thousands of acres. The SAP for the Utica Avenue corridor is considered particularly significant, as that territory potentially is the source of a development conflict between residents of two historic preservation districts that border the corridor and a pair of hospitals that anchor each end.
The City Council adopted a measure earlier this month that temporarily prohibits the use of planned unit developments as an exception to development prohibitions in HPDs. The measure was intended to provide time for a small area plan to be completed and for the two sides to resolve the development issue on their own.
Councilor G.T. Bynum, who led the effort to pass the temporary prohibition on development, noted the passage of the budget amendment was yet another step in crafting a permanent solution to the potential conflict along Utica Avenue.
"We've taken action very quickly to get the ball rolling on that, and I feel good about how it's going," he said, adding that he hoped Mayor Dewey Bartlett Jr. would approve the budget amendment, as well, which would allow for the solicitation of bids by firms interested in putting the two plans together.
Smithsonian Historian Gives Free Speech
A Smithsonian director who is also the son of a legendary Tulsa historian will deliver the keynote address at "Hope & Healing: Black, White and Native American," the second annual national symposium of the John Hope Franklin Center for Reconciliation next week at locations throughout Tulsa.
John W. Franklin, director of partnerships and international programs at the Smithsonian Museum of African American History & Culture, will speak at 5:30pm on Thursday, June 2 on the subject of "Indivisible: African-Native American Lives in the Americas." Franklin is the son of the late John Hope Franklin, for whom the center is named. Admission to Franklin's keynote address is free and open to the public.
The conference begins on June 1 with a 6pm reception at the Philbrook Museum of Art and continues through June 3. A town hall meeting will be held at 3:30pm on June 2 exploring the topic of religion and reconciliation. Panel members include Ann Dapice of T.K. Wolf Inc., Rabbi Marc Boone Fitzerman of Congregation B'nai Emunah and the Rev. Ray A. Owens of Metropolitan Baptist Church. The event will be moderated by the Rev. Marlin Lavanhar of All Souls Unitarian Church. The town hall meeting also is free and open to the public.
A series of other events featuring academics and researchers from around the country also is planned as part of the symposium. To register, visit jhfcenter.org.
The Tulsa Public Schools Board of Education has approved the request to change the last day of school for students of both traditional and continuous learning schools.
The last day for traditional calendar schools will be Thursday, June 2. The original last day was slated for June 3, which will now be a teacher work day. The last day for continuous learning schools will be June 16.
These changes will allow teachers an extra day to prepare for the many building changes occurring with Project Schoolhouse, and allow some graduates an additional preparation day.
TPS continuous learning calendar schools are: Chouteau Elementary, Eugene Field Elementary, Marshall Elementary, Mark Twain Elementary and Kendall-Whittier Elementary.
URL for this story: http://www.urbantulsa.comhttp://www.urbantulsa.com/gyrobase/Content?oid=oid%3A39381