- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 5, 2014

TULSA, Okla. (AP) - The Tulsa mayor’s office didn’t have a written policy in place when the mayor denied an open records request by the Tulsa World, according to a spokesman.

Mayor Dewey Bartlett recently removed a proposed sidewalk from a street plan near a park called A Gathering Place for Tulsa. The sidewalk would have joined downtown sidewalks to the park.

Residents in a nearby neighborhood complained about the sidewalk, saying it was a risk to public safety and property values.

At least two ethics complaints were filed against Bartlett. City officials say they were about the mayor’s relationship with the affected residents, including a business partner whose property would have touched the sidewalk.

The newspaper (https://bit.ly/10uKvo1 ) requested copies of the complaints, a request the mayor denied last week, citing city policy. According to Lloyd Wright, the mayor’s spokesman, Bartlett decided to withhold the documents to protect people who call the city’s ethics hotline.

“This is an unwritten policy that is a practice with the city as it protects the anonymity of the hotline program,” Wright said in a statement.

But Wright said the mayor would release a copy of the complaints after a city auditor’s investigation. City Auditor Cathy Criswell said the hotline is under the mayor’s office, so releasing the complaints is under his jurisdiction.

Oklahoma State University journalism professor Joey Senat said city policy, whether written or unwritten, doesn’t prevail over state law.

“Common sense says it (a policy) should be written,” Senat said, who also is a board member of Freedom of Information Oklahoma. “Otherwise, how would anyone know to follow it? Unwritten policy seems to be a way of saying it’s the good ol’ boy system.”


Information from: Tulsa World, https://www.tulsaworld.com

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