© 2024 KOSU
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Five takeaways from Mayor Bynum's 2023 State of the City of Tulsa address

Mayor G.T. Bynum delivers his State of the City address on Thursday, Nov. 2, 2023, at the Cox Convention Center.
Max Bryan
Mayor G.T. Bynum delivers his State of the City address on Thursday, Nov. 2, 2023, at the Cox Convention Center.

Mayor G.T. Bynum covered dozens of topics at his 2023 State of the City address late last week. Here are five highlights from his annual speech:

1. Bynum wants to establish a governance model between Tulsa and the tribes.

Tulsa sits on the Osage, Muscogee and Cherokee reservations, which the Supreme Court re-affirmed in the McGirt decision. At his address, Bynum said a tribal-municipal framework of governance would look to solve discrepancies in the two forms of government.

"This is a challenge, because the city is the least empowered to do this. But our congress has failed to do anything, and our state government is fixated on litigation," he said.

But when talking to reporters after the address, he put the onus to work together on the tribes. He argued the city would otherwise have to send every ordinance to the tribes to co-sign.

"The easy way to work through all of that is just for the tribes to recognize Tulsa the same way the state of Oklahoma does," he said.

Bynum said the tribes would reserve the power to preempt the city, just like the state can.

The mayor's statements come during ongoing litigation in Hooper vs. City of Tulsa, which argues the city cannot collect traffic ticket revenue from indigenous residents. He argued this litigation will be irrelevant if the city and tribes establish a framework of governance.

Bynum told reporters he had “visited with a couple of the chiefs,” but said he’d keep the conversations between them for the time being.

2. Tulsa met Bynum's housing challenge in under half the time given.

At his 2022 State of the City address, Bynum challenged the city to get $500 million in housing investments by the end of 2024.

At his speech Thursday, Bynum announced the city had already met that goal.

He also announced developers building affordable housing will receive "concierge service" — that is, highly personalized service — from the city.

"This is usually only a service that's reserved for the largest industrial projects, but building more housing is our top real estate priority," he said.

3. Is Tulsa a drone city?

In light of a federal technology designation the city recently earned, Bynum announced the formation of a commission to make Tulsa "the drone capital of the world."

"This commission will look at ways in which city can support this industry and make recommendations as to how we can establish Tulsa as the world's leader in advanced aerial mobility," he said.

The announcement follows the federal government designating the city as a technology hub, which is acknowledged by the federal government as a region with a plan to enhance its tech sector and become a global leader over the next decade, according to the Economic Development Administration.

Bynum said the city's application for the designation centered around drone technology.

4. The city has brand-new positions for social services.

Bynum announced Tulsa has its first-ever chief mental health officer, who is responsible for coordinating how first responders respond to people in mental health crises.

Tulsa has also hired an immigrant services liaison, which Bynum says will help them connect immigrants with jobs available within the city.

5. The push for a low-barrier shelter is underway.

To address homelessness, Bynum said service providers have submitted applications to build a low-barrier shelter for unhoused people. This kind of homeless shelter gives unhoused people a place to stay without background checks or drug testing.

Max Bryan is a news anchor and reporter for KWGS.
KOSU is nonprofit and independent. We rely on readers like you to support the local, national, and international coverage on this website. Your support makes this news available to everyone.

Give today. A monthly donation of $5 makes a real difference.
Related Content