Before you go accusing me of plagiarism, let me make clear that I am not the first person to say the following: Elections have consequences.
Just ask the eight at-will employees toiling away in the Tulsa Mayor’s Office. Their boss, Mayor Dewey Bartlett, lost the mayoral election on June 28th to City Councilor G.T. Bynum.
Come Dec. 5, inauguration day, Bartlett is out of a job. And so, perhaps, will be the eight at-will employees Bartlett hired.
At-will employees serve at the pleasure of the mayor and have none of the protections afforded classified service employees. If the mayor doesn’t want you there, chances are you won’t be there. Classified service employees, on the other hand, can’t be fired without cause.
So who are the unlucky eight? Four are big names, folks anyone who follows local news has heard of: Jim Twombly, Jarred Brejcha, Lloyd Wright and Clay Bird.
Twombly is city manager; Brejcha is the mayor’s chief of staff; Wright is Bartlett’s press secretary and assistant; and Bird, a former city councilor, has served as the director of the Mayor’s Office of Economic Development and executive director of the Tulsa Industrial Authority.
These guys not only hold positions of importance in the Bartlett administration, but their compensation reflects their status. Twombly is paid $160,576 a year; Bird pulls in $140,000; Brejcha earns $138,715 annually; and Wright $101,587.
The mayor, by comparison, is paid $104,995 a year.
All good jobs. All good pay. All in jeopardy of going away by the end of the year.
Bynum, of course, will be the person who decides which members of the Bartlett administration stay, should they wish to, and which members go. And he’s not made public his thinking on the subject.
But the writing on the wall doesn’t bode well for most of them, frankly. Bynum has already named City Council policy administrator Jack Blair to be his chief of staff, and Michael Junk, who ran Bynum’s campaign, is sticking around as deputy mayor. Blair and Junk could conceivably be in line to do much of the work now being done by Brejcha and Twombly.
Bird’s tenure as the city’s economic development director, meanwhile, has not been without controversy. When the city lost the Simon Outlet Mall to Jenks and Horizon Group Properties backed out of a mall deal in east Tulsa, Bartlett — and by extension, Bird — were saddled with the blame.
That leaves Wright. At 69, he is the same age as the mayor. And for six years — Wright was hired in April 2010 — they’ve been almost inseparable at work.
Soon, that run will end, and Wright will be off to his next job. That’s right, this Wright has no plans to retire.
“I am going to work until I just, I don’t know, fall off a bale of hay in the barn,” Wright said. “I don’t know why that is, I have just never liked anything, I guess golf or something like that, enough to say that is the way I am going to spend the rest of my days. …
“I just think this is kind of an exciting time. I am not too worried about finding something that will give me an opportunity to exercise another strength or skill that I have, and I’m cool with it.”
Who knows? Maybe Wright will run into an old friend who he hadn’t seen in 30 years and that friend will offer him a job. Just like his old friend Dewey Bartlett did in 2010.
“You don’t expect to have it end, but hey, this is a lot better than having somebody decide they just want to get rid of you because they don’t like you,” Wright said. “I didn’t lose my job, I lost my mayor.”
NOTE: Under the city charter, the mayor is authorized to hire up to 16 at-will employees. The employees work at the pleasure of the mayor and have none of the protections provided classified service employees. Here is the list of at-will employees in the Mayor’s Office and their annual salaries.
- David C. Autry, mayor’s assistant/constituent services, $53,040.
- Clay Bird, mayor’s economic development director, $140,000.
- Jarred Brejcha, mayor’s assistant/chief of staff, $138,715.
- Robert Gardner, mayor’s assistant/river development, $0.00. (volunteer position)
- Jaimie Nussbaum, mayor’s assistant/scheduler, $54,100.
- Pam C. Rosser, mayor’s assistant/authorities, boards and commissions, $27,580.
- James M. Twombly, city manager, $160,576.
- Lloyd G. Wright, mayor’s assistant/press secretary, $101,587.