Showing some initiative


Just got finished with our monthly Midtown Coalition meeting. We shifted it from our usual date and time in order to hold a discussion with area legislators. Tuesday falls in the middle of the legislative week and it's inconvenient to return to Tulsa for a meeting only to drive back to OKC the following morning. We understood, set a Thursday date at the recommendation of the legislators, who normally don't meet on Fridays, confirmed availability, got a meeting room. The only State Senator who said she would come backed out, citing the Senate's schedule, but so far no bad news from the House members. (Although Rep. Easley did warn me that so close to the end of the session, something might come up that would make the members unavailable.)

Monday I sent out reminder postcards to our members. Tuesday afternoon I sent an e-mail reminder to the legislators. Within minutes I received two replies saying that because of the addition of a session on Friday, the representatives regretted that they would be unable to attend our meeting. Wednesday afternoon another cancellation came in. I'm expecting a big crowd for this meeting, and so I started to worry, because the star attractions won't be at the meeting. So I asked Councilor Chris Medlock to have someone come to talk about the Route 66 proposal.

Thursday morning I got a phone call and an e-mail cancelling. Now we're down to one legislator left who confirmed he would be there and who hasn't cancelled. I assumed he had just forgotten or perhaps he figured that we will assume that he can't come like all the others. And since I hadn't heard if anyone could come to talk about Route 66, I called County Commissioner Randi Miller to see if she could come talk to us. At least we'll get to visit with one elected official.

Lo and behold, at 7 p.m., just before the meeting is set to begin, State Rep. Roy McClain (D) walked in. The reason he didn't e-mail with a cancellation is because he actually planned on showing up. I cast no aspersions on the others for cancelling. Perhaps some had committee meetings late into the day; for the older members, perhaps making back to back drives between Tulsa and OKC would be too much to take. But I was impressed that Rep. McClain took the time to be there and was willing to make the extra drive. (I wonder if his colleagues will scold him for showing them up.)

McClain may be just another Michael Flanagan. Flanagan, a poorly-financed Republican, beat Congressman Dan Rostenkowski, an entrenched and powerful but scandal-plagued incumbent, in 1994, but then lost big in 1996 as the seat reverted to its normal voting habits, replacing Flanagan with another Democrat.

McClain didn't wow anyone with his answers tonight, but the kind of initiative he showed just by showing up may indicate that he has what it takes to hang on to a district that is overwhelmingly Republican by tradition and character. Mark Liotta (R) and Mary Easley (D) are two examples of representatives who hang on against unfavorable voter registration numbers; they do it by maintaining contact with their constituents all through the legislative session, and by wearing out shoe leather during the campaign season.

Republicans who want House District 71 back in their column shouldn't take it for granted.

P. S. Thanks to Julie Miner of the City Urban Development Department, who came to talk about Route 66, and Commissioner Miller, for being available at such short notice.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on May 15, 2003 11:02 PM.

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