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Bynum offers a progress report in his 5th state of the city

 Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum delivers his state of the city address in the Grand Hall of the Cox Business Convention Center.
Matt Trotter
Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum delivers his state of the city address on Thursday in the Grand Hall of the Cox Business Convention Center.

Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum covered a lot of ground but announced no new initiatives on Thursday in his fifth state of the city address.

"So, earlier on when I would be giving a state of the city, I would be announcing new things that we would start because we didn't necessarily have lot of progress to report on, on the things that were already underway. Now, I wanted to provide a progress report on all these different initiatives that we have underway for the citizens of Tulsa," Bynum said afterward.

Before talking about all the things going on in the city, however, Bynum publicly thanked Tulsa Health Department Executive Director Bruce Dart for his work throughout the COVID-19 pandemic — work that subjected him to a constant stream of criticism, death threats and even dead animals being dumped on his lawn.

"Bruce Dart is the savior of an incalculable number of lives because of his tireless work, and I hope that one day, our community can properly thank him," Bynum said.

This year’s Tulsa Regional Chamber State of the City was back in person at the Cox Business Convention Center after being held online last year because of the pandemic.

In his speech, Bynum focused on public safety, economic opportunity and building a better Tulsa. He pointed to increased police and fire department hiring, lauded the establishment of the Tulsa Authority for Economic Opportunity, a development entity focused on addressing disparities in the city, and took seven minutes to run through projects underway, completed or starting soon, from finishing the Gilcrease Expressway to building the new Gilcrease Museum.

"What we're really trying to do in Tulsa is build a citadel against the toxic sources of division that have contaminated public life at so many other levels throughout our country. The story of our city is that we can do more to overcome both natural and man-made disasters, to make our city safer, to create opportunity for all, to build the city we truly want Tulsa to be when we are working together," Bynum said.

When it came to public safety, Bynum also briefly mentioned the city’s support for overturning the McGirt v. Oklahoma ruling, saying it would affect Tulsa for generations but that he is not out to attack anyone.

"I have great respect for our governor, our attorney general, and the chiefs who lead the Cherokee, Muscogee and Osage nations. They have all been incredibly important partners and collaborators with our city, and they will continue to be in the future," Bynum said.

The city’s U.S. Supreme Court brief, which Bynum declined to withdraw this week, claims perhaps thousands of criminals are going unpunished because the state no longer has authority to prosecute crimes involving Indians within reservation boundaries. Tribal leaders dispute that and say their justice systems and the U.S. Attorney's Office are doing the work required to take on thousands of new cases.

Matt Trotter joined KWGS as a reporter in 2013. Before coming to Public Radio Tulsa, he was the investigative producer at KJRH. His freelance work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times and on MSNBC and CNN.