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Local
Council takes up legal morass of battle between mayor, police union
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Council takes up legal morass of battle between mayor, police union

Council takes up legal morass of battle between mayor, police union
Photo Credit: Russell Mills
Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett presents his proposed 2013-14 FY budget to the City Council, April 30, 2013

Council takes up legal morass of battle between mayor, police union

Thursday night, the Tulsa City Council will discuss the possibility of scheduling a special election at the mayor's request to settle a dispute between the city and the Fraternal Order of Police on the contract for Fiscal Year 2014.

But that has never happened before, and councilors have expressed some confusion about why they're getting involved, and indeed what such an election would accomplish.

Current Council Chair Karen Gilbert (District 5) tells KRMG they will discuss the item during Thursday's meeting, but that they've already scheduled a meeting for next Monday with an eye toward taking more time to study the legal issues involved.

She says they just received an opinion from the city attorney but many of them didn't really have a chance to even read it until Thursday morning.

It basically says the council has to schedule the special election at the mayor's request, though the actual power to do so lies with the council.

That's just one confusing aspect of the issue.

The city attorney represents the council, but is appointed by the mayor, meaning the council doesn't have many options when seeking legal advice in a possible dispute.

No one, it should be pointed out, is calling the current situation a dispute between the mayor and the council, at least not yet.

Still, Gilbert says she doesn't understand what the mayor hopes to accomplish with the special election, which he's requested be held in November.

"The books are closed June 30th for FY (fiscal year) 14, so what would be the point having an election on this arbitration hearing if it doesn't even count?" she asks.

"There's lots of different laws falling into place with this," she added. "That's why I want to make sure that every councilor has the time to do their research and to make sure that they're making the right choice when they come to vote."

And if the council has to approve the request, she wondered, why hold a vote at all?

"That's where the confusion lies with a lot of us," she said.

She said they have reached out to the Oklahoma Municipal League for an opinion, and may consider contacting the State Attorney General as well.

The city council has posted an online poll asking citizens if they should vote to hold the special election.

As of Thursday afternoon, 85% of respondents had voted "no."

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