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Ted Wright -- last update 12/2/2003 (cityComisDec1.html) Copyright 2003

Lively City Commission Meeting
Dec. 1, 2003
Followup To Personnel (Policy?) Issues
Brought Up On Election Eve by Mayor
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Comments that took Mayor Sirmon just a few minutes to add to the new business section of the previous meeting took hours to air out in this session. Many city employee were present tonight and took personal exception to what the Mayor had said two week earlier.

Mayor Sirmon did apologize but also said that his intent was to discover/clarify policies covering the issues rather that specific claims of misdeeds by city employees as many had "assumed". City Commissioners Sallee, Rogers and Overholt were openly critical of the Mayor's Nov. 17th agenda request that occured on the eve of the city charter election. Commissioner Porter was more guarded in her comments but did say that she had been "caught off guard" by the Mayor's proposed agenda topics.

The Mayor's proposed agenda items (from Nov. 17th new business):
1 Police Department
a. Existance of quotas
b .Harassment of citizens and abuses of police power
c. Apparent religious discrimination in personnel practices
2 Code enforcement/Building Inspection
a. Disparity in code enforcement
b. Customer Service Issues
3 City policy on personal use of city vehicles
4 Use of alcohol during working hours or while on call
5 Conduct of commissioned / non-commissioned city employees on and off duty and the city's expectations
6 Conduct of City Manager in regard to citizen interactions

Prior to the Dec. 1 agenda posting Mayor Sirmon asked that the items be removed. City Commissioner (& Vice Mayor) Stan Sallee had them restored to the Dec. 1 agenda as it "was not in the best interest of the city to let these items set out there unexplained" and it "had an effect on city employees". The context of the agenda topics above was challenged by the Mayor before the minutes of the Nov. 17th meeting were approved on the consent agenda. The Nov. 17th minutes reflect (& match my recollection also): "Mayor Sirmon asked for the following items to be placed on the next agenda - as related to the performance of the City Manager: " ...(1-6 above). All four commissioners voted to approve the minutes as they stood. The Mayor had asked that the minutes be modified to reflect the items were "in regard to policy not the city manager's conduct except the last item".

Chief of Police Charlie Annis stated that there were no quotas in use by his department. He said he does not believe in that system and would not allow it as long as he is chief here. Further discussion brought out that the Mayor had asked the City Manager about the existance of quotas after two of the Mayor's family members had been stopped by the Collinsville Police recently (and given a verbal warning). Chief Annis also stated that he was not aware of any complaints of harrassment by his police department.

On the use of city vehicles, City Manager Mike Tinker stated that when he came to work here a year ago he was given the City's (Oct. 2000) Handbook with policies covering use of city vehicles. When asked about the city's policy on use of alcohol, Tinker replied that "it is not allowed". Mr. Tinker stated that he was "outraged and slandered" by the Mayor's implication of wrong doing and requested that the Mayor apologize to all city employees. At this point the Mayor did offer an apology to the city employees, but continued to state that his intent was to work the policies and formalize them to "protect the city" from potential law suits. Commissioner Sallee stated that he thought "the city and the Mayor would be lucky if they were not sued" over the Mayor's previous comments.

When given the opportunity to address the commission, several city employees took the opportunity to defend themselves and their departments against "these outragous allegations" and in general were critical of the Mayor for how he had handled this regardless of his intent.

When the agenda item concerning the "conduct of the City Manager in regard to citizen interactions" began, the Mayor suggested it would be more appropriate in executive session. City Manager Mike Tinker requested it be discussed in open session. Commissioner Sallee stated that "we are fortunate to have Mr. Tinker here" and that he is a "hugh asset to this community." Several other citizens also addressed the commission and spoke in favor of the City Manager and the positive things he has accomplished in his short time here. A later agenda item had the commission discussing the City Manager's performance evaluation and contract in executive session. Upon return to open session no action was taken as the commissioners wanted more time to work the details of a possible contract offer. That discussion will continue Thursday Dec. 4th at 8pm in a special session. The meeting begins with executive session, but will be followed by open session for voting on any action concerning the city manager's contract.

On the topic of code enforcement, both Mike Tinker and Jim Rogers indicated it was "impossible to make everybody happy" but they were not aware of any problem of "disparity" in enforcement. Tinker did acknowledge that not everyone agreed completely with the cleanup of merchandise left on the sidewalks after business hours & parking issues he addressed in a recent letter to business owners. Rogers indicated the department was more complaint driven than taking time to go out looking for violations (other than health, safety & welfare). The Mayor asked for a specific process for someone to follow if they "were not happy with code enforcement". Mr. Tinker indicated they would likely contact the City Manager or the commission. City Attorney Ken Underwood indicated that ordinances allow an appeal process.

-- Ted Wright -- Dec. 2, 2003 (3:30am)

Note: Tulsa TV Channel 2 had a camerman at the meeting ...
but don't what if anything was / will be aired ...

There were other issues acted on at the meeting(s) above:

A one-time pay increase for city employees ($150 for full-time and $100 for part-time) was approved. The initial City Manager recommendation was for $100/$50 which had been budgeted, but Commissioner Sallee asked if the budget could support a higher amount and the City Manager & City Clerk agreed it could be handled.

Another Cooper Mesa zoning request (ordinance CZ-147) was approved. This one for 8.82 acres 1/4 mile west of Sheridan on north side of 136th St. North in the southern part of the property annexed into the city in November. The change was from agricultural to residential.

Reappointment or appointments to Planning Commission were skipped on the agenda as the Mayor said he was not ready. Gerald Brannen was reappointed and approved to serve on the Board of Adjustments.

The Mayor and commissioner discussed options for another attempt at city charter changes in light of the failed proposal voted down Nov. 18th. No action was voted on, but the commissioners gave the City Attorney several options to draft into election proclamations that the commission could vote on soon in hope of making a January 2004 election ahead of the April 2004 election of city officers. The commissioners agreed they would simplify and ask for the less controversial portions of the previous changes. All agreed that turning elections over to Tulsa County would be requested again and that changes to the Mayor's selection and term length would not be requested. The other points were less solid, but another likely request would be for staggered terms for commissioners with 4 years terms. Having all wards vote for all commissioners was also an options to be considered. A special session might be scheduled (as with the previous election proclamation) to match the required publication deadlines. The discussion also included several laments about the previous election.

-- Ted Wright (with Tuesday afternoon additions to the initial 3:30am upload) -- 12/2/2003
-- later add on for notice of Dec 4th special session on City Manager contract (8pm).'s
City Commission / CMA Meeting Index
(Left to right at front of city meeting) Tulsa Channel 2 Camerman, City Attorney Ken Underwood, City Manager Mike Tinker, Commissioners Brad Overholt and Stan Sallee, Mayor Michael Sirmon, City Clerk Dana Conner, Commissioners Gail Rogers and Pam Porter (& Police Chief Charlie Annis at podium).