City Council approval of future Tulsa city attorneys sought
BY ZACK STOYCOFF World Staff Writer
Monday, January 21, 2013
Future city attorney candidates would be subject to City Council approval under the latest proposal to curtail the authority of mayors to fill the position.
Two years after a failed effort by the council to make the attorney an elected position, Councilor G.T. Bynum said he will request a city charter amendment giving the council authority to approve or disapprove mayors’ appointees for the position.
Bynum said he opposed the previous effort but agreed with proponents who argued that allowing mayors to hire city attorneys unilaterally, as they have since 1990, fails to ensure that the attorneys are impartial.
“I disagreed with the proposal because I don’t think politicizing the city attorney’s job is in the best interest of the city,” he said. “But at the same time, I agree with the sentiment behind it; you want to have a city attorney that represents the whole city.”
The charter amendment would be “a practical step” in ensuring that both the council and mayor have confidence in the city attorney, he said.
Changes in the city charter require a citywide election and must be approved by the mayor and City Council. Bynum said he hopes to have the proposal on the ballot in November.
The council’s previous effort was halted in 2010 when Mayor Dewey Bartlett vetoed a charter amendment that would have made the city attorney an elected position.
Bartlett told the Tulsa World that he has no opinion of the latest proposal and would be willing to consider it, but he added that he disagrees with its central argument. City attorneys have shown no bias towards mayors, he said.
“I don’t think that has been the case — with this city attorney, either,” he said. “I have no problem at all with how the current system works.”
Read more in Tuesday's Tulsa World.