POSTED ON JULY 13, 2011:
No Ouster for Bartlett,
Who Fishes for Apologies
Mayor Dewey Bartlett triumphantly announced on July 8 that ouster proceedings would go no further. State Attorney General Scott Pruitt completed a detailed 17-page opinion that said there was no cause for investigation on the charges presented by District 7 Councilor John Eagleton.
"I'm very, very pleased," Bartlett said, holding up the letter addressed to Eagleton, who drew up the request for the mayor's ouster last year.
"I now wonder very seriously, after reading this opinion, if any of the city councilors have the simple courage to stand up and apologize," he said. Bartlett said he'd like apologies for himself, his wife, Victoria Bartlett, and his private attorney, Joel Wohlgemuth.
In April, Eagleton sent a petition with 2,008 affidavits to Pruitt. The ouster request was basically a call for a trial that could lead to the removal of Bartlett from office. The request included 11 allegations, including failure to attend required appointments and meetings; lying to the City Council; receiving money for travel expenses from the Tulsa Community Foundation in the amount of $7,028.19; and using taxpayer money to buy $16 worth of business cards for his wife.
Pruitt noted legal problems with the verification of attached affidavits would have prevented his office from continuing with an ouster proceeding.
Pruitt's report addressed each allegation and, one by one, indicated that no action for ouster was authorized by Bartlett's conduct. In conclusion, Pruitt wrote, "Analysis of the several grounds submitted in these forms fails to show a factual basis for bringing such an action."
Eagleton, an Oral Roberts law graduate, drew up plans for the ouster proceedings and told the Urban Tulsa Weekly that he put his future political career on the line to do so. In March, Eagleton told UTW, "I consider myself done ... I've burned more bridges than General Sherman ever did."
In Friday afternoon's press conference, Bartlett repeatedly said the possible investigation and removal from office caused him to lose time and focus.
"It takes focus away from really what my job is," Bartlett said. "And that is frustrating because it gives us a lack of focus at that time to do that.
"I'm very sorry that we collectively had to waste so much time and so much energy and resources over the past year and a half to defend ourselves against issues and against allegations that are simply not true," he continued.
Wohlgemuth, who also stood accused of wrongdoing in the ouster request, echoed Bartlett's statement. "It derailed Mayor Bartlett from achieving all the goals that he's sought to achieve and was intended to harm him and slow his progress and his success as the mayor of the city.
"So we've seen, I hope, an end to this abuse of power and an end to the effort to impede the mayor," Wohlgemuth said.
For the man who ran on a campaign of civility and a promise to end bickering at City Hall, Mayor Bartlett's tenure has been plagued by confrontations and tussles between his administration and city council. Eagleton's request for an ouster, supported but not ratified by the rest of the council, was the latest and most controversial clash between what's become an oil-and-water relationship between councilors and Bartlett.
With a looming overthrow put to rest for now, Bartlett said he feels positive about a good relationship between himself and city council -- after voting takes place in November. A productive connection is "what I strive to do," he said. "After the voting occurs, I intend, with all the powers that I have, to accomplish that."
But Bartlett couldn't resist fishing for apologies that will likely never come. Eagleton told the Tulsa World on July 8, "I don't see myself apologizing for doing something I think is right."
Bartlett also hinted at future attempts to shorten Bartlett's mayoral term. ""I have not made a conclusion on what is my next step," he told the World. "There's lots of ways to skin a cat."
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