""Simonson believes that's a step that's long overdue, noting the yeoman's work done by Martha Schultz and Theron Warlick, the two city planners who oversaw the process by which the comprehensive plan was updated. He said their work was lauded by the people who performed the recent KPMG audit of city services."
This is a reassuring statement that provides cautious optimism. Hopefully, it implies that Theron Warlick is one of the 4 city employees who have applied for the planning director position.
We need a known quantity, someone who understands Tulsa, someone who is a trusted, well respected, established member of the community, that has been closely involved with guiding PlaniTulsa firsthand and already has established good working relationships with all the parties impacted to serve as planning director who can hit the ground running, supported by the confidence of all involved. Tulsa needs to hire a planning director who has a demonstrated the professional and interpersonal capabilities to fairly broker the balanced consensus and compromise essential to satisfy the concerns and garner the support of all involved. There is only one person that fits that bill, that person is Theron "Triple Beam" Warlick.
Hiring an outsider will just serve to inspire skepticism and uncertainty. Not to mention that an outsider will have to waste precious time getting up to speed while trying to develop an understanding of the community, build relationships, trust and support in the community. Tulsa needs someone in this position that has already developed these assets.
Why the Mayor and Simonson seem so determined to waste the time and resources on a nationwide search with a qualified, unbiased, internal candidate like Theron Warlick available defies all logic and rationality, begging the question of exactly what unstated ulterior motives might be behind their intentions? Unfortunately, it seems the Mayor and Simonson have already decided to dismiss internal candidates, considering that they will have to reject them in order to engage in this wasteful external search for applicants. It is especially perplexing considering the common campaign refrain from politicians bemoaning Tulsa's brain drain problem of young talented people leaving the city, making campaign promises to do something to reverse this trend, yet they turn around and take actions like this that only serve to exacerbate this situation. Our elected officials need look no farther than the nearest mirror to see the root cause of this problem and why they have been unable to provide any effective solutions.
There is an obvious omission in this article about the accountability and transparency problems inherent to the current makeup of the TMAPC. It is the need for Tulsa to have it's own planning commission that is independent of the county and INCOG, made up of residents of the city of Tulsa elected to serve as Commissioners and administered by the city planning department. The lack of accountability on the TMAPC and providing more transparency can be easily addressed by making commissioners elected(1 from each Council district preferably), not appointed posts as they are currently.
For example, the county has undue influence over the TMAPC currently, considering that 90% of the cases are from within the city of Tulsa, yet county appointed commissioners make up 40% of this commission. To add insult to injury, the latest county appointment to the TMAPC, Sand Springs resident Ryon Stirling, doesn't even live within the jurisdictional boundaries of the TMAPC(Sand Springs has it's own independent planning commission). It doesn't take a rocket scientist to determine how this dysfunctional, unbalanced system that is in place favors the suburbs who have their own commissions, aided and abetted by INCOG and the County appointees.
As long as INCOG and the County are involved in planning decisions inside the city limits of Tulsa, the city will continue to see disappointing, dysfunctional results. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. Real reform will not be accomplished without regime change that results in the city of Tulsa controlling it's own destiny, instead of outsourcing it to outside interests like INCOG and the County, giving them undue influence and control.
Tulsa needs to have it's own accountable, transparent, independent, planning commission in addition to it's own independent planning department, led by a trusted, well-respected planning director, to get the necessary public buy in that will be critical to achieving a fair and balanced consensus driven approach to successfully implement and reach the full potential of PlaniTulsa."