2NEWS INVESTIGATION: Owasso, Jenks city managers spent thousands on lunches
10:00 PM, Sep 24, 2013
7:14 PM, Sep 27, 2013
John McCoy is one of the regulars at a downtown Jenks restaurant.
"We live in a nice downtown area. You couldn't ask for anything nicer," said McCoy.
John pays for his meals when he dines out in Jenks. Turns out, as a taxpayer, he's also paying for many of the city manager's meals too.
"In due respect, he needs to pay just like we do," said McCoy.
The 2NEWS Investigators pored over the city credit card bills for city managers in Broken Arrow, Owasso, Tulsa, Bixby and Jenks. We looked at the first six months of this year. We found two city managers, during that time, spent thousands of dollars on lunches in town, funded by taxpayers.
According to the credit card statements, former Owasso city manager, Rodney Ray, spent $2,000 in five months on lunches in the Owasso area. The Owasso city attorney says those lunches are within policy and law, as long as they're business related.
Ray resigned in June. He is facing criminal charges for writing a bogus check to Clear Tone Hearing Aid and faces dozens of other accusations..
We also reviewed Jenks City Manager Mike Tinker's credit card bill statements. We noticed a number of lunches listed under his travel budget.
"Travel, whether it's flying somewhere, hotel rooms somewhere or meals, whether it's here or somewhere else, it all comes under the category of travel," said Steve Oakley, Jenks City Attorney.
The 2NEWS Investigators found in most cases,Tinker only had to travel a couple of miles to eat. Most of Tinker's lunches were also in town, including an $89 tab at Waterfront Grill, $72 at Los Cabos and $74 at Luby's Cafe, to name a few.
Those in-town lunch tabs add up to $3,000 in six months.
Jenks' city attorney, Steve Oakley, says the lunches were for city business.
"A lot of this is involving economic development, visiting with developers, people that might want to come to Jenks for retail purposes."
Meanwhile, Bixby and Broken Arrow's city manager each spent just a couple hundred on lunches in six months. Also, Tulsa's mayor spent several hundred on lunch too. Tulsa's city manager joined the mayor for several of those lunches, but the city manager didn't pay for them; the mayor did.
Still, Oakley says in the interest of time the Jenks city manager often has to meet during lunch, even if that means a pricier place.
"It might be expensive. It depends upon who you are dealing with at that time. I don't think if we were trying to work with some economic development activities that they would expect us to bring them in here and unroll Subway sandwiches," said Oakley.
John McCoy would rather see the money spent on other city needs.
"I would like to see them fix the roads," said McCoy.
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