City hall report
BY ZACK STOYCOFF & KEVIN CANFIELD World Staff Writers
Sunday, February 24, 2013
2/24/13 at 3:03 AM
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"Now we're feeling like we have to go to trash college just to be able to put the garbage out."
- City Councilor Jack Henderson on the rules for trash customers as laid out in a proposed ordinance
"If I want to fill my cart with bags of grass clippings ... why does it matter?"
- City Councilor Arianna Moore on a requirement in a proposed ordinance to limit the yard waste allowed in trash carts to 50 percent
Week in review
Police chief, city councilor clash: Tulsa Police Chief Chuck Jordan on Monday defended his department's handling of routine compliance checks on downtown restaurants Jan. 31 and challenged City Councilor Blake Ewing's assertion that his businesses were targeted.
"The checks on Jan. 31 were conducted without regard to business ownership as are all checks," Jordan wrote in a news release. "Officers should never be required to consider who owns an establishment before deciding whether or not to perform compliance checks."
Jordan said the compliance initiative began in October and that more than 200 checks were conducted citywide before Jan. 31.
"Checks have been done in nearly every part of the city, and they will continue to be done citywide," Jordan wrote.
Ewing, who owns several downtown restaurants, said previously that he believes that police targeted him during the checks but acknowledged that he had no evidence to support his claim.
"Our small business community shouldn't ever fear retribution from law enforcement," he said. "Rather, we should all be working together to create a community in which small businesses can thrive in accord with and under the protection of the law."
HUD clears city: A U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development finding that the city of Tulsa mismanaged Community Development Block Grant funds has been nullified after the city took steps to improve the allocation process.
"They are saying, 'You have taken care of that finding; the slate is clean,'" City Manager Jim Twombly said Tuesday.
The 2011 audit by HUD's Office of Inspector General found that the city was awarding funding to recipients that didn't have the capacity to complete the work for which they were awarded funds, Twombly said.
In December 2011, the city asked HUD to provide training to city councilors, the Grants Administration Department and the Mayor's Office to help improve the allocation system.
The City Council this month voted unanimously to change the process the city uses to allocate millions of dollars a year in HUD funding.
The money is provided to local organizations that serve moderate- to low-income communities, the disabled and older residents.
Surface parking ban: A proposal presented Wednesday to the Tulsa Metropolitan Area Planning Commission by the city of Tulsa Planning Department would prohibit the creation of new surface parking lots as a principal use within the Inner Dispersal Loop.
Under the proposal, surface lots would be allowed as ancillary uses for buildings.
Surface parking lots may also be allowed through a special exception granted by the city's Board of Adjustment.
Surface lots are currently allowed by right within the IDL.
The City Council has banned demolishing downtown buildings for surface parking lots until the city can consider ordinance changes to that effect.
Planning Commissioners said they plan to study the issue further before making a recommendation to the City Council.
Trash disagreements: City councilors pushed back Thursday against the trash board's rejection of their requests to change an ordinance that would formalize the city's new trash system.
One or more councilors asked the board last week to remove requirements for customers to bag their trash and limit the proportion of yard waste in their trash carts to 50 percent. Councilors also objected to a provision allowing the trash system's rules to be changed without their approval.
The trash board declined those requests during a nonvoting meeting Tuesday. City Solid Waste Manager Eric Lee told councilors at a committee meeting Thursday that he would convey their response to the trash board at its meeting next week and would return to the council with the board's response.
Smaller carts considered: The trash board wants to weigh the demand for smaller recycling carts before it decides whether to offer them to customers, which could require reworking the contract with the city's trash hauler.
The board, formally called the Tulsa Authority for the Recovery of Energy, has asked the city Solid Waste manager to explore how many customers would want to switch from the current 96-gallon recycling carts to a 48-gallon version.
The city's Legal Department has said allowing customers to opt for the smaller carts could require changing the contract with the hauler, NeWSolutions, which argues that smaller carts would require more frequent pickups than projected when it signed the contract.
Such a change would mean paying the company more, trash board member Randy Sullivan said.
New task force: About 80 residents and community leaders squeezed into a City Hall meeting room Tuesday for what officials said was one of the most spirited displays of support for improving the 61st Street and Peoria Avenue area that they can remember.
The crowd assembled to discuss social problems in the area and join the 61st and Peoria Quality of Life Task Force, which was spearheaded by City Councilor Jeannie Cue to seek to reduce the area's high crime rate by improving health, housing and social services there.
Officials gathered volunteers to serve on six subcommittees - housing, safety, health, education, social services and social services center fund-gathering - that will meet periodically and recommend improvements to the main group.
The group will then seek grant funding, policy changes and anything else that is necessary to accomplish the recommendations, although no timetable for those goals will be set.
Charter change proposals: Proposed amendments to the City Charter that would increase city councilors' pay and give them the power to confirm or deny the mayor's choice for city attorney are a step closer to a public vote Nov. 12.
Councilors voted 8-0 with one abstention Thursday to approve resolutions directing the city attorney to prepare the necessary documentation to place the proposals on the ballot. The vote is not an endorsement by councilors of either charter amendment but is simply the next step in the process of placing the amendments before voters.
The proposed charter amendments must be approved by the City Council and mayor before they are placed on the ballot.
Councilor Blake Ewing abstained but did not say why he did so.
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