POSTED ON AUGUST 3, 2011:
Better know District 1: Twan Jones speaks
Twan Jones, Democratic candidate for the District 1 city council seat, is full of numbers and facts. He rattles off important information on District 1 like others read off a grocery list.
"We've lost 6 percent of our population within a year and a half; we've got dilapidated buildings; the highest unemployment per household in the state; we have a life expectancy 14 years less than other zip codes in our city," Jones said, enumerating issues he wants to work on if he's elected to a one-year term.
District 1 primarily encompasses north Tulsa, an area particularly affected by blight and crime.
"We have the highest violent crime in the city," Jones said. "Not just crime, violent crime."
Despite these obstacles, or perhaps because of them, the lifelong north Tulsan who graduated from Booker T. Washington High School, works as a community advocate. He's served as part of the Central High School PTA, the National Association of Black Journalists, and Sarah's Senior Care Living, a non-profit that helps elderly people who can't afford nursing homes "live out their lives" in the district without losing their money or dignity.
The number one thing he wants to do if elected is "work on putting a business plan in place so at least we have some type of direction," Jones said.
He thinks that being elected to a one-year term will give him a small window of time at City Hall to show voters what he'd like to do for the district.
"[Voters] really have an opportunity to get me in there for nine months, see what I'm going to do," Jones said. "All they've invested is one year, whereas they've already invested seven years with [District 1 Councilor] Henderson."
For Jones, District 1 is home. "This is where I grew up." But, he said, "We need to try to figure out why other districts are progressing around us."
To change or not to change: Bartlett promises veto
Tulsans, it's time to don your riot gear: the Mayor and City Council are rumblin'. Again.
Mayor Dewey Bartlett Jr. has promised to veto a City Council proposal putting a city charter change up for vote in November's election.
Bartlett said he doesn't think there's enough public support for an overhaul of city government.
A paltry number of Tulsans (around 80 or so) showed up to town hall meetings about the proposed changes, which would place the mayor on the city council and an elected city manager in charge of day-to-day operations.
John Brock is glad the mayor is pushing back on the council's proposals. "It's just exactly the opposite of what we need done," he said.
Brock is at the helm of a group called Save Our Tulsa (SOT), which has its own set of proposed charter changes slated for the November ballot.
Bartlett said he disapproved of some of the councilor's provisions, one of which would nearly double councilor's salaries from $18,000 a year to $34,000 and increase term limits to 12 years.
He doesn't think his veto will be overridden because he's got the support of Councilmen Rick Westcott, G.T. Bynum and John Eagleton.
Even if the City Council's proposed charter changes don't end up making it to a public vote, Save Our Tulsa's propositions will. The political group collected more than 27,000 signatures, which was enough to place it on the ballot.
SOT props include: switching to non-partisan voting (no more Republicans versus Democrats in our municipal elections); adding three "at-large" councilors in three "super-districts" (it's just fun to say); and adding the mayor to the City Council as its figurehead.
However, SOT supporters don't like the idea of an appointed city manager. Switching to a city manager form of government would be an option only with the city council's proposal.
"The councilmen keep complaining that they can't get [the mayor's] attention. So how do we get them to cooperate," Brock asked. "Well, we put 'em in a room together and throw away the key. Then they can work out their differences in the council room rather than in the press."
Fires blaze in Tulsa, burn ban in place
Trailing most counties in Oklahoma, Tulsa's finally got itself a burn ban.
A few larger fires popped up around town in the final week of July. One in west Tulsa raged for hours sending plumes of smoke into the sky visible from miles around.
A shorter-lived fire engulfed an empty home in the Pearl District. At least five fire trucks plus paramedics and police responded to the fire, which even brought down a nearby power line.
Now that we've got a burn ban in place, outdoor burning is off-limits. This includes fire pits, chimineas, outdoor fireplaces, camp fires and trash burning.
However, if you're craving backyard burgers and dogs, the ban makes an exception for outdoor grilling (electric, gas and charcoal are A-OK), as long as you fire up over a gravel or concrete surface.
The city will slap you with a minimum $220 fine for burning during the ban.
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