Assessing the assessor’s debate

Analysis:  Tulsa County Assessor Ken Yazel is currently in dispute with most every other elected official in Oklahoma, the courts and much of his constituency.  To his credit, he did meet in debate Tuesday with Tulsa County Commissioner John Smaligo, but Yazel failed to provide evidence to support his foul accusations uttered over many years.  It may not matter as Yazel’s oft repeated and final statement to the Republican Woman’s Club (RWC) of Tulsa County August 14 was, “Wear yourself out proving me wrong.”

In other words, Yazel can lie faster and more often than you can prove the truth.  He is a demagogue, defined by Webster as, “a leader who makes use of popular prejudices and false claims and promises in order to gain power.”

This is not the first time Tulsa Today has written about Yazel, click here to read, “Ongoing County dispute detailed.”  As of this afternoon 69,439 people have read that story on Tulsa Today – we have advertised it on a showcase banner because it is important for you to know.

In essence, Yazel believes he may interpret the Constitutions of the United States and Oklahoma and all applicable judicial rulings without vetting conclusions, assert and often speak on his unique, if not bizarre, perspectives for personal political advantage.  With Yazel’s encouragement, Don Wyatt, a 9.12 Leader and elected Republican Party official filed protests scheduled to be heard soon in the Court of Tax Review.

Yazel knows that Tulsa County is an administrative unit of State Government without the ability to legislate.  As in the article referenced above, “The Tulsa County Budget Board has no authority over the City-County Library budget or the City-County Health Department, and other organizations.”

Smaligo went further Tuesday explaining that it would be illegal to do as Yazel suggests in seizing funds from other offices (Treasurer, Clerk, etc.) or entity (Health Department, Library System, Career Tech, etc.) to then spend that money elsewhere.

KOTV TV-6 investigated July 23, 2012 and found Yazel and Wyatt’s assertions without precedent or any county official anywhere in Oklahoma that would support his public positions.

Tulsa Today has interviewed people holding advance specialties in business, government and law who have listened to Yazel and found his speech meaningless.  In summary they said, “Yazel just throws out disjointed phrases – rhetorical red meat – which conservative crowds may love, but what he says makes no sense.”

Yazel said, “Oh, and to comply with the State Budget Act.  We have never done that in the nine years I have been there!  Never!”  

Smaligo answered, “The state Auditor’s Office has weighed in as they do every single year Democrat or Republican, and they have said very clearly that we are following the law.”

The Tulsa World’s Kevin Canfield in coverage of Tuesday’s meeting wrote, “Smaligo and Yazel talked numbers at the luncheon.  But the larger issue had to do with the words – Yazel’s words – and how, in Smaligo’s opinion, the assessor has repeatedly used them to misrepresent how Tulsa County government operates.”  Click here for the Tulsa World story.

Thursday under the headline “Lose Cannon” the Tulsa World Editorial Board weighed in writing, “Yazel has plenty of allegations to make, all issued in the harshest, most hurtful possible language.  What he doesn’t have is evidence, because there is none.  He simply lobs an outlandish claim and then says, ‘Wear yourself out proving me wrong.’  That is not responsible behavior by an elected leader.  In fact, it is irresponsible. Yazel is a bully and a loose cannon …”  Click here to read the Tulsa World editorial.

Words like “bribery, lying, [officials] ought to have their butts kicked, misuse of your dollars,” float from Yazel’s mouth like flatulence.  As a public official, Yazel knows political speech is protected so he can say anything and he does.

At the RWC meeting Yazel said, “Please understand that everything that you see and read is not true and I am not a coward.”  Editors here struggled to understand that sentence. Our best analysis/guess is that what you see and read from Yazel is untrue and he is not afraid to lie.

On the topic of cowardice, Yazel has taken to mentioning this writer by name in speeches when I am not in the audience.  For the record, I will also debate Yazel as his assertions are fabrications.

In what appears to be of even greater danger to our community, Yazel recruits well-meaning, but uninformed citizens to run against incumbent office holders from his own party.  The list is long and often these failures expensive for the naive, but Yazel persists.

Currently Dean Martin is, from all indications, a Yazel devotee running against Pat Key for Tulsa County Clerk.  Martin knows nothing about the function of the Clerk’s office.  Martin thinks he can be the figurehead and “find someone like Pat Key to run things,” as a supporter who spoke on Martin’s behalf said at a Republican Club meeting last month.

To recap; the so-called Conservative Dean Martin wants to add another level of government (securing a paycheck for himself) while taxpayers must then fund hiring someone like proven Conservative Pat Key who is a skilled coherent executive successful daily in managing the complex highly detailed and legally responsible County Clerk’s office.  It would be better, by any standard, for citizens to elect Pat Key as Tulsa County Court Clerk.  That primary run-off will be decided August 28.

Yazel, as Tulsa County Assessor, is directly responsible for assessing value of property in Tulsa County.  He is not responsible for running other offices in Tulsa County or assessing value, needs or budgets not under his authority.

He has altered business and homeowner assessments which have been frequently rejected for cause by the Courts.  Many Tulsans have come to question why their property assessments continue to rise to the maximum 5 percent allowed by law during Yazel’s term in office.  They question how value can be increasing during a national and local housing crisis as sales values fall.  Maybe a true Conservative Assessor, for example, would only increase by 3 percent.

Insiders within the Assessor’s office ask why Yazel hired in-house legal counsel when the Tulsa County District Attorney’s Office provides such services for all County officials.  They question why Yazel has stacked his staff with political hacks and why Yazel rarely shows up in his own office.  Some suggest Yazel is too busy manipulating Tea Party groups to go to work.

Many believe Yazel is playing the demagogue to distract citizens from his own office’s activity or lack thereof.  Accusing others of evil with no basis in fact – Yazel is screaming fire in a crowded theater then pickpocketing the purses of the fleeing, so to speak.

As one local activist said, “We elected an assessor of real property, not to control the entire County Budget or run County government from the assessor’s office.”

As Commissioner Smaligo said Tuesday, “When someone makes an outrageous claim of malfeasance, they should be forced to prove it … Mr. Yazel refused to provide proof of any of these types of accusations.”