The Council Safe City Vote

Wednesday, Councilor Jayme Fowler’s Safe City ordinance, which sought to prevent City dollars from being used to fund illegal immigrants, was voted down and denied a final reading by a council vote of 6-2. This unusual procedure waved both Council and City Charter rules. Said another way, the majority of Tulsa City Councilors are now lawbreakers.

All proposed ordinances are entitled to two separate readings, including a final reading with open public comment. The council usurped the opportunity for public comment by waving both rules – an action typically reserved for states of emergency. Earlier this week, Fowler was instructed by council staff that there would be no public comment allowed on his ordinance until the final reading, previously scheduled for March 27th. Such a directive from staff must have surprised Councilors as it shocked citizens (the actual employers of both Councilors and support staff).

Fowler condemned the move to block public discussion, firing back, “There is a very large silent majority you’ll be hearing from very soon, I promise you.” Councilor Miller, who voted with Fowler, voiced frustration that bypassing public input “deprived Tulsans of their ability to be heard on this issue.” Councilor Patrick responded by saying, “The more that this conversation is had in public, the more damage that it does.” 

Councilor Jayme Flower

Fowler believes the council’s vote does not reflect the views of Tulsans. “I’ve yet to meet a constituent who believes the best course of action is to bury our heads in the sand. Tulsans want leadership, and they want common-sense action taken. Our services, shelters, and tax dollars are meant for Tulsans and should be safeguarded. You don’t wait until a fire is raging to install smoke detectors. This migrant crisis is spreading from city to city, and this ordinance would ensure Tulsa is shielded from it.”

Fowler plans to reintroduce his ordinance in 90 days and invites every Tulsan to join him in the discussion for a safer city. “This isn’t over – it has just begun,” Councilor Fowler said.

Fowler campaign spokesman Josh Wagoner said, “Watching the six councilors pat each other on the backs for blocking public discussion was shocking. [Councilors] should spend more time with everyday Tulsans who happen to support Fowler’s Safe City Ordinance by a wide margin.”

Councilor Grant Miller on his Facebook wrote today, “Tulsa’s foundational document, the City Charter, was established in 1908. Changes to the Charter can only be made through a vote by Tulsa’s residents, but it includes provisions for suspension. The ability to suspend the Charter enables the Council to swiftly respond to emergency situations such as natural disasters, terrorism, or other severe circumstances that necessitate immediate intervention. It’s an extraordinary measure.

“Last night, Councilor Laura Bellis initiated a suspension of the Charter to vote against a proposed ordinance by Councilor Fowler. This ordinance was a preventative measure, not a response to any immediate emergency; it did not even include an emergency clause. This action reflects the political climate and the extraordinary lengths to which politicians will go to suppress free speech in the City of Tulsa. Today this may benefit your political ideology, what about tomorrow?

“There was one speaker who was apparently prepared to comment on the item, despite the fact that no others either for or against the ordinance were given that opportunity as generally people wait until second reading to make comments and see the vote. This is because that is how the City Charter lays it out and is mirrored by Council Rules.

“This post is not about the ordinance, it’s about the complete usurpation of process laid out in our City’s founding document by 6 of 9 Councilors. I find this action reprehensible. To deprive residents of the ability to be heard is nothing new in Tulsa, it happens all the time through Task Forces and Sub-Committees wherein discussions are had, and decisions are made behind closed doors. However, this action shows just how arrogant City Leadership is and how comfortable they are taking away the average person’s voice,” Miller concluded.

During the meeting broadcast online, Councilor Christian Bengel bragged, he was “more than happy” for his constituents to be “pissed off” at him, finishing with, “I don’t care who they are.” Bengel promotes himself on Facebook as a “conservative.”

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