Mayor Dewey Bartlett took to Facebook on Wednesday night to say he was dismayed by challenger G.T. Bynum’s “negative campaign,” but he was quickly rebuffed by City Councilor Blake Ewing, who called Bartlett’s statements “nonsense.”
“We remember what really happened,” Ewing said, challenging Bartlett to find a single councilor to back his statements. “We remember that you were absentee through the (Vision Tulsa) process. We remember that you contributed almost nothing. We remember you having no plan, no vision of your own, and no big ideas about how to advance the city.”
Bartlett’s statements on the Dewey Bartlett for Tulsa Mayor Facebook page were in reply to statements Bynum made during a Tuesday debate about Bartlett having a passive role in developing the Vision Tulsa tax package, which passed earlier this month.
“The negative campaign by Councilor G.T. Bynum has already started, and I’m really disappointed,” Bartlett said on his Facebook post. “I shouldn’t be surprised. … Let’s be clear. Not only was I involved in the negotiations of Vision from the very first day, but my administration established the framework.”
Bartlett accused Bynum of fighting for months against Bartlett’s plan.
“Remember the gnashing of teeth that followed? I do.” Bartlett said in his Facebook statement. “The reason Vision passed with an overwhelming endorsement by the citizens is that we used common sense, and lived within our current tax rate.”
Bartlett further accused Bynum of getting “on board” with the plan that included Bartlett’s demands only in the final weeks.
“I will not sit idly by and let Councilor Bynum attack our administration,” Bartlett wrote.
The Vision Tulsa proposal changed dramatically in the final months after years of development among several council-led task forces.
Bartlett’s contributions at public meetings largely occurred very early in the process with proposals for a dedicated public-safety tax and then in the final months of the plan’s development.
“I assume most people are wise enough to see through this nonsense,” Ewing said in a comment on Bartlett's Facebook post. “We remember that you stood there last Tuesday and took credit for the work of others. We remember you wasting your time fighting with the county over the jail instead of working towards compromise and progress. We remember when we stood up for law enforcement when you tried to screw them over. We remember the truth, Mayor.”
Ewing called Bartlett’s Facebook comments false, saying that “your small band of uninformed supporters will have your back.”
“But the truth is that more and more people are figuring out that you don’t show up to work, that you claim credit for the work of others, and that you’re not truthful with the people you represent,” Ewing continued.
Ewing wrote that he’s looking for Tulsans to “wake up to the reality of just who you are,” which he said would lead to Bynum’s election.
“They’ll elect the guy who has been making you look good the last five years,” Ewing said in the comment. “They’ll elect the guy who has done nothing but serve beside you respectfully when we could’ve taken hundreds of potshots.”
In his comment, Ewing said he was speaking up for Bynum because "he's more respectful than I am and is much less likely to get in the mud with you. I, meanwhile, am glad to call you out when it's deserved."
After the Facebook statements, Bartlett told the Tulsa World late Wednesday night that Ewing “says a lot of things.”
“It’s always tough when you see your friend get criticized,” Bartlett said. “I am not taking credit for other people’s work. But I am taking credit for the framework that started the process.”
Bartlett credited the council for a “terrific amount of work” on the task forces and said representatives of his administration attended those meetings.
“Obviously, they are capable of running their own task force,” Bartlett said. “And staff members of the council did a yeoman’s work of organizing things.”
Bartlett said that behind the scenes he was involved with keeping the package in line with the structure he provided.
“I didn’t have to be in at all those meetings,” he said. “A lot of that was for information gathering. I didn’t have to be there because I have talented people there to represent me at those meetings.”
Ewing could not be reached for further comment Wednesday night.
When reached by the Tulsa World late Wednesday, Bynum avoided taking a stance on Bartlett’s attendance record and how it affected Vision.
As for Ewing’s statements, “I think that’s a factual observation,” Bynum said. “I don’t think that’s an accusation.”
Bynum said his main issue with Bartlett over who deserves credit for Vision is about the credit taken away from others.
“What I don’t like is one person trying to take all the credit for something that dozens if not hundreds of people worked on,” Bynum said. “There are lots of people that deserve credit for it.
"What I don’t appreciate is seeing how hard (Councilor) Karen Gilbert worked to get that (public safety proposal) done and then see someone ignore all that work to take credit for political reasons.”