Tulsa residents go easy on city officials at District 7 meeting
BY P.J. LASSEK World Staff Writer
Tuesday, March 27, 2012
3/27/12 at 8:30 AM
Read continuing City Council
No one city issue dominated the discussion or elicited more than a question or two at District 7's City Hall in Your Neighborhood meeting Monday.
"I had some planted questions out there, but I guess they all left," the district's city councilor, Tom Mansur, quipped at the end of the meeting.
Even the two currently most controversial issues for the city - the new trash system and EMSA's billing practices for ambulance services - drew only a couple of questions.
City officials updated the crowd of about 80 people on the city's progress in implementing the new trash system.
"I know the trash issue has been a concern for a long time," Mansur said, noting a large amount of media coverage, public hearings, emails and telephone calls on the subject.
"There's a lot of folks out there that have been demonized - perhaps deservedly. There's been some folks that haven't been demonized that should have been," he said.
Mansur said he's not a proponent of the new system, in which trash carts will be used, but he asked that the public be patient and help work with the trash board as it works out the kinks.
Emergency Medical Services Authority spokeswoman Kelli Bruer told the crowd that no "systemic widespread wrongful billing (is) going on. It just simply isn't. The data doesn't back any of that up."
She said "it is just confusing" because of all of the paperwork a patient receives.
A Tulsa World investigation found that EMSA files liens against patients in nearly all cases involving transports from traffic accidents, including patients who are in the city's utility-fee program. The fee on residents' water bills is supposed to ensure that they have no out-of-pocket expenses.
The World's investigation also discovered that EMSA sends bills to patients and has pursued lawsuits against some in the program.
Mayor Dewey Bartlett began the meeting by touting an effort he and the council have undertaken to identify a top 10 list of issues that all have agreed are in the best interest of the city.
"I thought that was very good news," Bartlett told the crowd.
"Some of them are probably no-brainers, but I'm glad that we have no brains," he quipped. "I'm glad we figured it out."
Police Chief Chuck Jordan said the number of crimes reported in the district is down by 6 percent from last year.
Fire Chief Allen LaCroix told the crowd that the city has worked to improve fire protection, which lowers homeowners' insurance rates.
He began by saying he had texted the mayor a couple of weeks ago after seeing him on television talking about his March Madness basketball picks.
"I told him I hoped the citizens don't see this because if they have the same trust in you as mayor as I do with your picks, we're in deep trouble," LaCroix said.
Officials presented other information to the group, including about the city's 911 center, illegally placed signs, how the city determines where to install traffic lights and the closings of some park recreation centers.
All "City Hall in Your Neighborhood" events begin with a resource fair at 5:30 p.m., followed by a 6 p.m. presentation.
District 8: April 24, Peggy V. Helmerich Library, 5131 E. 91st St.
District 9: April 30, Whiteside Park Community Center, 4009 S. Pittsburg Ave.
District 6: May 14, Martin Regional Library, 2601 S. Garnett Road.
Meetings have already been held in Districts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 7.
Original Print Headline: Residents play nice at City Hall neighborhood forum
P.J. Lassek 918-581-8382