Jail conflict resolved – for now

DavidLMossCenterAnalysis:  The Tulsa World is reporting that the Tulsa County Justice Authority approved an interlocal agreement Monday that clears some “issues” members have “grappled over for months.”

Grappled may be the mildest word available in English for the long bitter dispute frequently played out in competing press conferences.

The agreement next goes to the County Board of Commissioners, which is expected to sign off at a special meeting sometime this week.

As all things revolve around the constituencies of each, the agreement was seriously contested by several elected mayor members of the Authority. Competing for limited public funding is difficult and city officials often advocate County government be disemboweled for city agendas. However, County government is the local level of State Government in Oklahoma without the power to legislate, but only administer what the Oklahoma Legislature may pass and the Governor may sign into law.

DavidLMossCenter2The World noted the “agreement was initially intended to address legal issues arising from connecting new jail pods paid for with a county tax to the Tulsa Jail, which is paid for through a separate jail tax.”

Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett has “led the contingent of mayors who have consistently disagreed” with county commissioners on several fronts at the meetings over how jail sales-tax money should be expended. Unfortunately, the City frequently counts success by measuring press coverage.

In voting down a Bartlett-backed agreement, County Commissioner John Smaligo defined it to the Tulsa World as an “overreach.”

“This is clearly not a compromise,” Smaligo said. “This is absolutely attempting to cram down the throat of Tulsa County the way things are going to be as dictated by this authority. It is an overreach and over capturing of funds this authority does not have.

DavidLMossExpand3The authority then returned to the original interlocal agreement, which doesn’t put the county’s portion of jail funding under authority controls. That version was approved with Bartlett and two others voting against.

“It’s a document that governs the funds used to operate the jail for a year,” Smaligo said. “It does more clearly define the role of the county and the role of the authority and how those funds are administrated.”

“I don’t know that you’re really going to have anyone giving up their opinion on the way things ought to be,” Smaligo said. “But at least it does provide that framework as to how [the Tulsa jail] actually will be governed and administered.”

Click here for the Tulsa World coverage written by Jarrel Wade.