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From the Editorial Board
TULSA, Okla. — District 1 Tulsa City Council candidate Jerry Goodwin received a ruthless rebuke from Blake Ewing at Wednesday’s city council meeting. This came after Goodwin pulled what Councilor Ewing considers a political stunt against his opponent, current City Councilwoman Vanessa Hall-Harper — the only African American elected official serving on city council.
During the meeting, Goodwin approached the councilors with the air of respectability politics, acknowledging by name all nine city councilors and Tulsa mayor, GT Bynum.
Goodwin believes the City of Tulsa should not send Councilor Hall-Harper to the National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement conference in St. Petersburg, Florida this fall. He thoroughly believes and describes this as an “issue” and a “paramount concern.” Goodwin took to the podium to ask City Councilors to vote against sending the councilor in what he claims is an ethics issue.
Immediately after Goodwin’s speech, Councilor Blake Ewing strongly rebuked Goodwin’s behavior. “Your service to the city may be above reproach, but your actions certainly are not,” the councilor said.
Councilor Ewing questioned Goodwin’s whereabouts from previous city council meetings. Goodwin claimed his absence before his candidacy for Hall-Harper’s seat as optics, stating that he attended meetings before many of the councilors won their seats.
Councilor Ewing then said, “If you think it will fly with me that this is an optics issue then you are underestimating me.” Blake Ewing currently serves Tulsa in his fourth term, having been on the council since 2011. “You have never been down here before, and you never talked about ethics issues,” the councilman stated.
Photo Courtesy of Black Wall Street Times
Goodwin went on to publicly claim that the City Council of Tulsa has never experienced an ethics issue, using this seemingly questionable assertion to justify his absence from previous city council meetings. Councilman Ewing countered, stating “There has been plenty of [ethic] issues. The reality is, you would not be here if you weren’t running against this city councilor [Hall-Harper] and that’s all that needs to be said.”
Councilor Ewing then expressed his eye-witness accounts of the adverse treatment that Councilwoman Vanessa Hall-Harper has received while serving the City of Tulsa. He explained that he has never seen another councilor receive so much pushback and controversial debate while requesting a trip that helps improve her district.
The City of Tulsa voted 7-1 against the community’s wishes to send Councilwoman Vanessa Hall-Harper to the National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement despite the city’s disappointing Equality Indicator score on community policing. Councilwoman Hall-Harper abstained from the vote, with Blake Ewing being the only “yes” vote.
The counselors who voted “no” did so because they believed paying for this trip would prove a conflict of interest for Councilwoman Hall-Harper, whose husband is a Tulsa Police Officer. Many of these same councilors, however, have also been endorsed by and received campaign contributions from the Fraternal Order of Police, a group that has openly attacked Hall-Harper for her work on policing reform efforts. The group was relentless in their efforts to sway the vote toward “no,” with its chairperson Jared Lindsay present at the meeting tonight.
Goodwin’s comments appear to directly align with the talking points of the Fraternal Order of Police.
This is not the first time Councilwoman Hall-Harper has been blocked in her efforts to engage in educational opportunities to improve policy for the citizens of Tulsa. She also received push back from the other councilors earlier in her term when she requested to attend the Expungement Conference in Dallas, TX, whereby she returned and held an Expungement Expo at 36 Street North Event Center, which helped Tulsans in all districts.
Citizens plan to demonstrate at next week’s city council meeting in protest against the city’s inaction and weak commitment to a civilian oversight committee of law enforcement.
The Tulsa community started a Go Fund Me to send Councilor Hall-Harper to the conference this fall.
Election Day for the city council is Tuesday, August 28, 2018.