February 2004 Archives

Saturday was the 2004 Tulsa County Convention. It was a showcase for elected officials and candidates, with speeches from all three Republicans who are running to succeed Don Nickles in the U.S. Senate -- former OKC mayor Kirk Humphreys, Linda Murphy, and Corporation Commissioner Bob Anthony.

The only real order of business was adoption of this year's platform, which had been unanimously recommended to the Convention by the Platform Committee. The platform was adopted unanimously, without even a hint of disagreement, which has never before happened in my memory. Here are some highlights from the local government section:

3. We oppose spending Vision 2025 tax dollars on projects other than the 32 approved by the voters. We urge the County Commission to end the tax before overage dollars have been collected.

A while back I said I'd write something about this. The folks at the Tulsa Whirled have developed a skill of seeming to do actual news reporting, when in fact they're taking the easy way out. This is especially true when it comes to campaigns.

Today's Whirled articles about the District 4, District 2, and District 5 contests illustrate the point. Because I know several of the City Council candidates, I know that the candidates for the general election each received a questionnaire. The questions were, roughly, (1) what projects would you favor including on the next general obligation bond issue; (2) would you support a special sales tax earmarked for public safety; (3) would you support a special sales tax to fund public transit (the bus system); (4) what are your priorities.

So the candidates filled out their questionnaires. Whirled reporter Brian Barber then took the replies and rearranged the quotes, using some direct quotes and some paraphrasing, to make it look like he actually interviewed the candidates. All this without actually ever meeting the candidates face to face or even speaking to them by phone.

The Whirled did exactly the same thing, but with a different set of questions, during the primaries. The initial questionnaire also included a personal history, on which a candidate had to disclose any felonies, restraining orders, divorces, etc. The Whirled's questionnaire appears to come verbatim (without credit) from this website.

Rather than disclosing all the information provided by all the candidates, the Whirled chose to follow up and report information that would embarrass the candidates the editorial board opposes, and leave unreported anything embarrassing about the candidates the editorial board supports. For example, the Whirled didn't tell you about Randy Sullivan's pending divorce or that Tom Baker is on at least his third marriage (here's the marriage license for the marriage before his current one, in 1991). None of us are without sin or past mistakes, but it's clear that the Whirled didn't want its readers to know that its pet candidates had these kinds of problems, as it might be the factor to push a voter to the other side.

If the Whirled were going to actively pursue reporting on the campaign, they might interview the candidates themselves. They might attend candidate forums and campaign events. They might ask a candidate's supporters to say why they support one candidate and oppose the other. But this would require some actual effort.

But, dear Whirled reporters, if you're determined to take the easy way out, go all the way and print the responses you receive from the candidates as is. Don't go to the trouble of slanting them and making them look like a news story. Your readers will be better served if they read the candidates' own words. And you'll have that much more time to play solitaire on your computer!

MORE: One other thing that stinks about these articles -- it makes it appear that the candidates chose these issues to address, when they are answering the only questions the Whirled is allowing them to answer.

Slate's Explainer


Came across this while looking for the definition of the political phrase "stalking horse". Slate -- Microsoft's web magazine -- has a column called "The Explainer", which answers questions about the news. Interesting and, as far as I can tell, accurate. (Here's the Explainer's explanation of "stalking horse".) (Here's a better explanation from Wikipedia.)

An entry from four years ago answers the question, "Do delegates to the national political party conventions have free will?" In other words, are they allowed to deviate from the preferences expressed by the primaries or caucuses that chose them? The short answer is yes for Democrats, and for Republicans it depends on the state -- each state party sets its own rule in that regard. The Supreme Court struck down state laws controlling delegate allocation, according to this entry, which doesn't say why, but I imaging it's on freedom of association grounds.

Term-limited legislators


A professor at the University of Akron, of all places, has a list of current Oklahoma Representatives and Senators and when they will be term-limited, sorted by year when their time is up, and by party.

Wichita's got GIS


Here's another city with an online, map-based way to browse property information. Wichita's system lets you drill down to the block, look at age, value, and ownership of property, zoning district, when annexed, and more. There are even convenient hyperlinks to the city zoning code, so you can see what a zoning designation signifies.

When will Tulsa catch up to Wichita?

Note: This site is not Mozilla-friendly, so you'll have to use IE.

Oklahoma map site

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The University of Oklahoma has a great Geo Information Systems (GIS) website at http://geo.ou.edu. Free maps available include municipal boundaries, school district boundaries (statewide and by county), county precinct maps, and maps relating to the oil and gas industry. There's also geographical boundary data that you can download and use in your own mapping applications.

Remember me pointing out Savannah's wonderful land use database, called SAGIS, which layers real estate ownership and valuation, aerial photos, zoning districts, and about any other bit of useful geographical information all in one map browser? The GIS department at OU was involved in that project, merging data from city, county, and regional government sources! Wouldn't it be nice if Tulsa would get OU's GIS department to do the same thing for us?

There are two items pertaining to the zoning protest petition process on tonight's City Council agenda:


d. Addendum Item: Council Consensus supporting the three-fourths voting requirement for passage of a zoning map amendment as set forth in Title 42, section 1703 (E) of the Tulsa Revised Ordinances; and supporting the legislative intent that any protest against a zoning map amendment shall be filed three days prior to the hearing before the City Council of the City of Tulsa. (Medlock) 03-540-9

e. Addendum Item: Discussion regarding the status of the Tulsa City Council’s request for an informational packet from the Tulsa Metropolitan Area Planning Commission, as set forth in Resolution 7126, passed by the City Council on November 20, 2003. (Christiansen) 03-540-10

The name in parentheses is the name of the Councilor who put the item on the agenda, so Medlock and Christiansen continue to be on top of this issue.

This seems like an excellent opportunity to let the Council hear what neighborhood leaders weren't allowed to say at yesterday's TMAPC non-hearing on this issue. So be there if you are able!

State Rep. Pam Peterson was on KFAQ this morning explaining the problems with SB 553, the bill that would legalize real casino gambling at Indian casinos and allow horse tracks to offer more limited gambling of the sort currently on offer at Indian bingo halls. Beyond the negative impact on the state, the the compact would run for 15 years, leaving no opportunity before that time for the state legislature to fix any unintended consequences. It still leaves the horse tracks at a competitive disadvantage to the Indian casinos. The state will only be paid by the Indians on a percentage of revenues from new games. Education will not see much money from this, and the legislature is likely to reduce school funding from the general fund to compensate for any gains they make from casino revenues. Because Oklahoma is not a tourist destination, it's estimated that 70% of the revenues will come from our own citizens.

I hear that the OEA is lobbying for this bill. It's a shame that an organization that claims to be devoted to education is pushing an industry dependent on mathematical ignorance.

Beyond the morality and the social effects of gambling, this looks like the usual Oklahoma legislative stitch-up, like the legalization of pari-mutuel betting, which placed restrictions on who could open a track and when they could race, all for the benefit of the DeBartolo family, who owned Remington Park in OKC.

If you're going to open the state up to casino gambling, just repeal the prohibitions against games of chance, and let anyone who wants to open a casino do so. Regulate the industry only to the extent necessary to ensure that the rules of the game are followed -- no loaded dice or stacked decks. SB 553 will only allow certain favored groups and individuals to get in on the act, and since the legislative leaders are in control of who will get in on the act, you can bet they will be richly rewarded by these favored few once they leave office.

That photo of Larry Adair in the Whirled has him wearing the expression of the cat who ate the canary, as if he's figured out how to cash in on this legislative racket, how to convert power to money, and there's nothing you can do to stop him.

E-mailing your State Legislators


There's a key vote on casino gambling (SB 553) in the State House of Representatives this morning. The Whirled is reporting a survey of Tulsa area representatives. Below are the names and addresses of those who said they were undecided or didn't respond to the survey. All but Lucky Lamons are Republicans.

UPDATE: A reader forwards a response from Sue Tibbs that she is voting no. I suspect that Adkins and Liotta are also "no" votes as well. As for Lucky Lamons, I don't have a sense one way or the other, but if you hear anything definite from him or the others, let me know (blog at batesline dot com) and I will make the appropriate adjustments.

By the way, please note that Rep. Ron Peterson (as opposed to Ron Peters) of Broken Arrow is listed in the Whirled as a "no" vote, as is Rep. Pam Peterson (no relation to Ron).


Chris Hastings (undecided), hastingsch@lsb.state.ok.us

Ron Peters (undecided), petersro@lsb.state.ok.us

Did not respond to survey

Dennis Adkins (did not respond to survey), adkinsda@lsb.state.ok.us

Lucky Lamons (did not respond to survey), lamonslu@lsb.state.ok.us

Mark Liotta (did not respond to survey), liottama@lsb.state.ok.us

In general, to find your state representative, click here. This page includes links to district maps.

Here's the page with an alphabetical list of state representatives, with each rep's e-mail address, direct phone number, and a link to his or her personal information page.

The toll-free number for the State House of Representatives (not the State Senate) is 1-800-522-8502.

For the State Senate: The State Senate homepage is here.

From this page, you can get to a pictorial directory, an alphabetical directory, a directory by district, and maps of districts. From any of those pages, if you click on a senator's name, you'll get his or her direct line, e-mail address, and name of the administrative assistant. The State Senate doesn't have a toll-free phone number.

In general, a State Representative's e-mail is:


So Rep. John Q. Public would be publicjo@lsb.state.ok.us

In general, a State Senator's e-mail is:


So Senator Public's e-mail would be public@lsb.state.ok.us

I'm not aware of any exceptions to these rules, but they may exist, so double-check at the above links.

Well, not literally. But today at the meeting of the Tulsa Metropolitan Area Planning Commission (TMAPC), commission Chairman Joe Westervelt demonstrated his deep contempt for homeowners by deleting from the agenda, at the last minute, a controversial item which had brought dozens of people down to City Hall for the opportunity to speak at a public hearing. I understand that County Commissioner Randi Miller even cancelled an official appointment in Oklahoma City to be present for this hearing.

There is a procedure allowing for an item to be continued to a future meeting, but that requires the vote of the commission, and interested parties are allowed to make their case for or against deferring the item to a future date. Instead, Westervelt just announced his decision to drop the item from the agenda, and allowed two minutes for those who came to speak on the issue to clear the room.

The issue was the zoning petition process, a process that was unfairly administered in the 71st & Harvard case, and which is now the subject of a lawsuit. The City Council asked the TMAPC to examine the issue and make a recommendation by January 20.

There had been rumors that the item might be pulled from the agenda, but at the previous day's City Council committee meeting, INCOG planning director Wayne Alberty gave firm assurances to the City Council that the item would be heard, that the TMAPC could not simply drop the item, because it was advertised as being on the agenda.

Why was it simply dropped? There's a theory that if they had proceeded to allow the public to speak, it would have permitted the City Council to move forward with their own proposal to amend the zoning protest petition process, regardless of TMAPC final action. The development interests (which hold an overwhelming majority on the TMAPC) want to postpone this issue until after the Council elections, when there isn't any political pressure to ensure that the process is reformed in a meaningful way.

Westervelt is well known for his hostility to the interests of homeowners, and his arrogant treatment of those who come before the TMAPC to voice their concerns and even of his fellow commissioners. In 2001, I witnessed his shameful and inappropriate public chastisement of then-Councilor Brady Pringle, who had come to speak about a proposal to widen Riverside Drive. At last month's TMAPC work session on the topic of the zoning protest process, Westervelt tore into Councilor Chris Medlock and homeowner Steve Denney for daring to propose improvements to the process.

Westervelt was first appointed to the TMAPC by then-Mayor Susan Savage in 1996, reappointed in 1999, and in 2002 he was reappointed by new Mayor Bill LaFortune, over the objections of neighborhood leaders. At the time, the Mayor said he was aware of the concerns about Westervelt's conduct, and that he had promised to behave himself. The Mayor personally told me, and he repeated this to many other neighborhood leaders, that if Westervelt got out of line again, he would personally come down to the TMAPC and make his displeasure known.

So after Westervelt pulled his latest stunt, about 20 neighborhood leaders decided to go talk to the Mayor. We rode up the elevator to the 11th floor, but the Mayor and Deputy Mayor were out. Steve Denney and I ended up speaking to Karen Keith and Erin Patrick and outlining the concerns of the assembled neighborhood leaders. We asked that the Mayor use his influence to expedite this issue, because we want it dealt with before the city elections. (The Council had asked for the TMAPC to deal with the matter back in January before the city primary.) We said we want the Mayor to deal with Westervelt as he promised he would. We urged the Mayor to clean house at the City Attorney's office, which is actively working against neighborhood interests in this matter. And we urged the Mayor to create a balance on TMAPC between homeowner's interests and the interests of the development industry, by choosing his appointments wisely.

I was told that our concerns were relayed to the Mayor, and I look forward to hearing and passing on a reply when it comes.

A wake up call to conservatives


From Stanley Kurtz, in NRO:

There's been a lot of commentary on how San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom's flouting of the law is not nearly so bad as the conduct of former Alabama chief justice Roy Moore. ...

What Mayor Newsom is doing has much deeper social and legal consequences — and is meant to have those consequences. Newsom is intentionally creating legal, political, and cultural facts on the ground designed to overturn current law — both in California and beyond. Newsom is purposely trying to initiate legal challenges to state and federal defense of marriage acts. And he is doing this is two ways — by encouraging copycat civil disobedience in other parts of the country, and by generating "married" couples who can file lawsuits, in California and beyond. Especially because he is creating couples who can file suits, Newsom's actions are far more disruptive and consequential than Judge Moore's. And the judges who have refused to swiftly shut down this obviously lawless action are equally to blame.

Newsom is using extra-legal means to bring a major national debate to resolution on his own terms. By creating "married" couples, Newsom is trying to put the cultural, political, and legal momentum inherent in "possession" behind his side of the argument. If Newsom is allowed to determine a major policy debate by resort to extra-legal means, the damage to social trust and civil comity in our divided nation will be immense....

Since 9/11, conservatives have felt pretty confident about their position. I say we are living on sand. Yes, we have the presidency and, by the narrowest of margins, Congress. The Left controls the other key levers of the culture. If we lose the presidency, we lose the courts, and we lose the culture. It is only our political success that has given us a counterweight to the liberal domination of the culture....

But if we lose the presidency now — and lose it in the face of San Francisco — we lose all. No court will ever pay us any mind again. They will fear and bow to the Left alone.

Read the whole thing.

Stan Geiger sent along an interesting e-mail exchange between himself and Ken Neal, editorial page editor of the Tulsa Whirled. With Stan's permission, I reprint it below. It is illuminating. It has to do with Omer Gillham, the Whirled reporter who covered recent scandals surrounding administrators at Tulsa Community College over retention bonuses and false attendance figures. For a change it appeared the Whirled was actually engaged in afflicting the comfortable.

Gillham has been reassigned to cover Tar Creek. Stan Geiger asked Ken Neal about the reason for the reassignment, and wondered if there was pressure applied to get Gillham away from covering education.

Geiger makes an important point: The experience Omer Gillham gained while digging into TCC's mess could be used to uncover similar problems elsewhere in public education. It takes time to learn who to talk to, what records to ask for, and what to look for in the records. You don't just open the board's minute book and see a meeting transcript like this:

College President Loombucket: "Gentlemen, I have a cunning plan to make all of us millionaires at taxpayer's expense."

Other board members (singing): "We're in the money! We're in the money!"

Loombucket (gleefully rubbing hands together): "Buwahahahahaha!"

An investigative reporter has to learn how to spot patterns in the public records and spot where the records don't make sense. An ordinary-looking invoice might stand out like a smoking gun to an experienced reporter. Now, instead of leveraging that experience, the Whirled seems to be discarding it. Maybe the Beacon could take him on.

Ken Neal says that he doesn't share Stan's "generally sour outlook on education". This is interesting: Someone who cares enough about the quality of education to expose mismanagement and worse is labelled sour on education, while someone who is willing to overlook problems, take official pronouncements at face value, and tolerate an educational system that doesn't serve the students, considers himself pro-education.

Read the whole exchange by following the link:

What a disappointing result -- barely 1,000 voters turned out for today's Tulsa school board election, and 12-year incumbent Cathy "asleep at the wheel" Newsome was re-elected with 64% of the vote. Her opponents split the rest of the vote. There will be no runoff, since Newsome got more than 50% of the vote. She wins a four-year term, which is far too long. Like every other aspect of Oklahoma school board elections, the length of the term seems designed to reduce the accountability of school boards and administrations to taxpayers and parents.

There wasn't much campaigning. In a normal political race, a candidate knock on doors, make phone calls, mail flyers put out signs, and do his best to connect at least once with every likely voter in the district. In this election, I didn't see any such effort, except for a last minute blanket of right-of-way signs for Claudia Brown-King and one handmade sign for Betty Morrow. The turnout was so low that a concentrated voter contact effort might have been enough to beat the incumbent. Someone with a back-to-basics message -- a real alternative to the current approach to schooling -- and an organized political effort could have won and won big.

I showed up at my polling place -- the rear entrance of 29th & Yale Church of Christ -- at 8:30 and was the second voter (one of the precinct workers voted before me). My wife voted an hour later and was voter number 4. When I drove by, I didn't see the "VOTE HERE" sign by the road. I wasn't sure that our precinct was in District 5 -- it was in District 6 before the lines were redrawn after the 2000 census -- but based on Betty Morrow's description of boundaries, we should be voting. Sure enough, when I drove around to the back of the building, the VOTE HERE window sign. Evidently the sign by the street had fallen over or had been knocked over.

Where I've been


What do I have against the northwest quadrant of the US?

create your own personalized map of the USA
or write about it on the open travel guide

School board District 5 boundaries


I just got a nice note from Betty Morrow, one of the candidates for the District 5 seat on the Tulsa school board. Here is her description of the boundaries for that election:

Michael, the parameters are basically, 11th to 51st and the river to Yale, with these exceptions: the area from 11th to 21st on Utica to the river You have to be East of Utica in this area . Also not in District 5 is the square mile Harvard to Yale and 41st to 51st. There are a few blocks next to the river which are South of 51st.

So it looks like I get to vote tomorrow. And I plan to vote for Betty Morrow.

School board election Tuesday


In the midst of the municipal races, don't forget about Tuesday's school board election. There are several races in Tulsa County, including one in the Tulsa district between a 12-year incumbent, Cathy Newsome, and two challengers, Betty Morrow and Claudia Brown King, who like Newsome are former teachers. King has taught at both private and public schools.

Newsome has been endorsed by the Whirled for another four year term. She's been in long enough anyway, but the reason for the Whirled's endorsement made it clear that we don't need her back on the board:

Newsome is not only a lifetime educator, she is one of the reasons that the current school board is a cooperative one that avoids useless wrangling in favor of thoughtful action.

This is the same sort of language the Whirled uses to praise their chosen puppets on the City Council. Translated from Whirled-speak into real English: "Newsome doesn't demand accountability from the administration and blithely goes along with the latest educratic fads. She doesn't represent the interests of taxpayers and parents. God forbid students should get a real education -- they might see right through the malarkey we publish and our circulation numbers will drop even faster."

Here's a quote from Newsome from
Wednesday's candidate forum that supports the point:

"Just because a person has been in office a long time doesn't mean they're ineffective. Just because board members aren't lashing out at each other and are supportive of the superintendent's initiatives does not mean they're sitting there asleep at the wheel," she said.

Well, yes, ma'am, it does. If you sat there and supported the idiotic Tulsa Model for School Improvement, which features French classes in which French is not taught, you were asleep at the wheel, and you are more committed to promoting the latest theoretical fads rather than time-tested approaches to imparting knowledge to children.

According to the article, Newsome took a shot at her opponents for sending their kids to private school. Claudia King explained that her children's father (and her ex-husband) Charlie Brown was the athletic director at Holland Hall (as well as an excellent chemistry teacher, in my opinion) -- that's why her kids went to school there. A better answer would have been, "Of course I put my kids in private school. Anyone with sense who could afford it would! Tulsa public schools stink! That's why I'm running for school board -- to make the public schools as good as the private school my children attended."

If Sunday's Whirled story is to be trusted (which is not something I take for granted) all three candidates oppose charter schools, which is a shame. Charter schools hold great promise for making traditional approaches to instruction and classroom discipline available to parents who want that kind of learning environment for their children.

The shocking thing is how few people care about this election. Tulsa is the largest district in the state, with an enrollment exceeding 40,000 pupils. We are about to elect someone to the board of an entity that spends a quarter of a billion dollars a year (general fund only -- not counting capital spending).

That's over $6,000 per child per year. (See this report for a comparison of all the school districts in Oklahoma.) Only 52% of that goes to the classroom. That is about a thousand more per pupil than all of the suburban Tulsa County districts and a lower percentage spent in the classroom than the surrounding districts.

I wish I could give you the exact boundaries of the election district that votes on Tuesday, but that information doesn't appear to be on the web. Generally, the seat represents the most of midtown Tulsa. I suggest you swing by your normal polling place on Tuesday and see if your precinct is open, just to be sure.

Who to vote for? Anyone but Newsome. If Newsome can be held below 50% of the vote, there will be a runoff the first Tuesday in April, which would allow a longer campaign and more time to get the important issues out in the open. I would probably vote for Betty Morrow just for not having spent her whole adult life as a part of the public education industry.

The lonesome road to Wichita


I really hate the drive to Wichita. It is desolate. The Cimarron Turnpike is so seldom traveled that no one has figured out a way to make money by building a gas station or restaurant at the exits. And once you're done with the Cimarron, it's another 20 miles north on I-35 before you get to a place where you can buy a Coke and use the potty. The road gets monotonous. Every road can be monotonous at night, but this road is even boring by day. Once you leave Sand Springs behind, the next settled area visible from the highway is Wichita.

So on the trip up, I took an extra 40 minutes or so to go by way of Ponca City, Newkirk, Arkansas City, and Winfield, up US 77 and Kansas 15. It was worth it. Although I didn't take my usual detour down Grand Boulevard in Ponca City, and I missed getting to Head Country BBQ before it closed, I did enjoy seeing the restored and interesting downtowns of the other three cities.

On the way home, I took a less extensive detour through Tonkawa, stopping at the local convenience store and hangout for a Coke, then joining the Cimarron south of town. I don't think I'd ever been through Tonkawa before. That stretch US 77 is only a couple of miles east of I-35, so it didn't cost me much time, although it nearly cost a raccoon family its life -- they weren't accustomed to seeing traffic.

Why so quiet?


It's been a busy week, nearly all of which was spent working out of town, trying to penetrate the imponderable depths of IEEE 1394 and CANbus protocol transactions and RTX device drivers.

I haven't forgotten you, dear reader, and often in the last week I've thought, "I've got to blog about this." But I worked 12-hour days, and spent the little bits of off-time trying to get the hotel's free wireless Internet service to work with my laptop, which left me with little energy for writing. Even fell behind on e-mail.

Plenty has been happening in Tulsa during my absence, which I hope to comment on here, and during my regular spot Monday morning on KFAQ.

It's good to be back home.

One of the few contested school board seats in the entire metro area is the Tulsa Public Schools District 5 seat. This is an important election, because we have a public school system that seems to be captive to every educational fad. Tulsa Schools now feature French classes that don't involve actually teaching French! If I could go (and I can't) I'd ask if the candidates support the "Tulsa Model for School Improvement" and I'd vote for whichever candidate had the guts to say it's all a pile of hooey.

Another thing to look for: Is the incumbent defending all of the administration's decisions, or is she willing to be critical of how the school system is being run? If a board member thinks her job is to be the ambassador for the school system, she needs to be retired.

Support for charter schools is another important issue. If they're determined to screw up the mainstream public schools, independent charter schools will provide a way for parents to choose a real education for their children without having to shell out for tuition.

Here's the official announcement of the forum from the League of Women Voters:

On 2/24, there will be an election for Tulsa Public Schools board members. The only contested seat is District 5. Very broadly it is bounded by 11th and 51st Streets and the Arkansas River and Yale and consists of Edison High School, its feeder schools and Eisenhower International School. Another way of describing the district is that it serves Zip Codes 74104, 74105, 74112, 74114 and 74135.

The incumbent is Cathy Newsome who is seeking reelection. The other candidates are Betty Morrow and Claudia King.

The League of Women Voters of Metropolitan Tulsa (LWVMT) and the Tulsa Council PTA ("Council") are collaborating to inform the public regarding the candidates and the issues.

The Council and the League have scheduled a candidate Forum to be held at Edison High School at 530 p.m. on Wednesday, 2/18/04. All three candidates have agreed to participate in this forum which will be moderated by Clayton Vaughn.

All citizens who are interested in the future of the Tulsa Public Schools are cordially invited to attend this forum. This invitation is definitely extended to students and interested citizens who live in districts other than 5.

The Council and the League are hoping for a large turnout for this election. Registered voters who might not be able to get to their Polling Site on 2/24 may obtain an absentee ballot calling the Tulsa County Election Board (596-5780).

Questions regarding this forum may be directed to Roberta Clark, 582-5853, or Herb Beattie, 742-2003.


Arena selection: a good choice


I'm pleased to report that I was wrong. I predicted that Gary Sparks would be chosen as the architect for the Vision 2025 downtown sports arena. My basis for that prediction -- Sparks was a major contributor to the "Vote Yes" campaign. To be fair, he would not have been a bad choice, given experience with sports venues, but it was getting a little old watching all the top contributors get selected for lucrative contracts to be paid for with the sales tax they paid to promote. But instead of Sparks, a team led by architect Cesar Pelli was picked for the job.

The difference in this case is that the decision was not made by the Tulsa County Commissioners, but by an overview committee appointed by Mayor Bill LaFortune to oversee the new arena and convention center improvements.

Several of the committee members are leaders in TulsaNow, and they wanted to be sure that the new arena would not only serve its immediate function, but would be attractive and a landmark, as well as a catalyst for new development and pedestrian activity. Many arenas create dead zones, either because they're surrounded by acres of surface parking lots, or because the arena is designed to be disconnected from its surroundings with blank exterior walls and large foreboding plaza spaces. Our Civic Center Plaza is a good example of what we don't want around the new arena. Ideally there would be something at street level -- maybe some spaces for restaurants and shops -- that would be an attraction even when there's nothing happening at the arena, and something that could spur development nearby. (There is still the problem that the proposed site is surrounded by government buildings on three sides.)

The good news is that these same people will be involved all through the process, and the dialogue will continue as the architects and engineers bring forward concepts for the new facility.

Vision 2025 website online


PMG, the company providing project management services for Tulsa County for Vision 2025, has launched a website with ongoing information about the projects funded by the sales tax increase. The site is www.vision2025.info.

Included on the site is a list of overview committees and their members appointed by the Mayor to oversee and make recommendations concerning City of Tulsa related projects. So if you've got an idea of concern about one of the projects, you can find out whom you should contact.

District 3 recount Thursday 9:30


The recount of the District 3 Council race will occur this Thursday, at 9:30 a.m., at the Tulsa County Courthouse, in the courtroom of Judge Tom Gillert. As I mentioned previously, Roscoe Turner needs your help. He would like as many supporters as possible to be present for the hearing and the recount. He especially needs people who can be present throughout the recount. If you want a Council that will work for fairness and accountability, you want Roscoe back on the Council, and we need to make sure that he isn't cheated out of a victory by improper votes being cast. Please find a way to help, and contact Roscoe to offer your assistance: You can send checks to Roscoe Turner, 3415 E Haskell St, Tulsa OK 74115. You can reach him by phone at 834-7580. You can e-mail him at rockyturn at cs dot com.

On Tuesday, former Councilor Roscoe Turner filed for a recount in his very close contest in Council District 3. He has also filed a contest of the election, alleging that sufficient irregularities exist to cast the actual result of the election in doubt.

One example of an irregularity: Someone signed in as "Wanda Kinkade" at the polls for recinct 16. Wanda's place of residence is listed as 124 N. Zunis Ave., which is a vacant lot. It might really have been Wanda who signed in, but obviously she doesn't live where she told the election board she lives. Or someone has been voting in her name. She (or whoever is using her name) is a pretty consistent voter, according to election board records, and voted in the Vision 2025 election, the Right-to-Work, the 3rd penny sales tax renewal in 2001, state and federal elections in 2000 and 2002.

Michael DelGiorno and Gwen Freeman of KFAQ spent Tuesday afternoon trying to track down Ms. Kinkade. The election board record for Kinkade showed a different mailing address than her place of residence; Michael and Gwen discovered that this mailing address was a dilapidated shed behind a house, in which no one had ever lived, as far as the longtime residents of the house were aware. Wednesday morning they did the first two hours of their show from the vacant lot on North Zunis Avenue. They interviewed Roscoe, and KJRH came out to do a live shot for their morning news program. It was a great way to dramatize how insecure our voting system is. As Michael put it, how do we know that Brad Henry really won the governor's race? Henry won by about three votes per precinct, and there are bound to have been that many invalid votes cast.

The recount may modify the margin of victory. If it turns out that there are more irregular votes than the margin of victory, the outcome is mathematically uncertain and the election is thrown out and a new one held.

The recount may be on Thursday the 19th. Roscoe has said he needs some of his supporters to be available to participate and help watch the recount. He may also need volunteers to help with research and leg work to follow up reports of irregularities. I gave him a small contribution to help with the expenses of pursuing the recount -- he's already had to spend nearly $1,000 on deposits and court fees -- you should consider helping him, too.

During his time on the Council, Roscoe Turner worked to hold our government accountable to the citizens and taxpayers. He worked for zoning reforms to help homeowners defend their property values. We need him back on the Council, and he needs our help. You can send checks to Roscoe Turner, 3415 E Haskell St, Tulsa OK 74115. You can reach him by phone at 834-7580. You can e-mail him at rockyturn at cs dot com.

Howie on Kerry: DYKWIA?


Those of us on the right were looking forward to Howard Dean as the Democrat presidential nominee. National Review even put his picture on the cover with the caption, "Please nominate this man!" Doesn't look like that's going to work out, but the alternative could be just as much fun, because John Kerry is from Massachusetts, and Howie Carr of the Boston Herald has been watching him like a hawk since his days as Mike Dukakis's Lieutenant Governor.

In 1988, a friend gave me a mail subscription to the Boston Herald covering the run up to the presidential election. Two or three times a week, I got to read Howie Carr deflating the myth of Mike "Pee Wee" Dukakis and the "Massachusetts Miracle". Now that Kerry is the front runner, we get a foretaste of what we can expect if Kerry wins the nomination. From the New York Post last Thursday, here's Howie on Kerry and his dealings with hoi polloi:

ONE of the surest ways to get the phones ringing on any Massachusetts talk-radio show is to ask people to call in and tell their John Kerry stories. The phone lines are soon filled, and most of the stories have a common theme: our junior senator pulling rank on one of his constituents, breaking in line, demanding to pay less (or nothing) or ducking out before the bill arrives.

The tales often have one other common thread. Most end with Sen. Kerry inquiring of the lesser mortal: "Do you know who I am?"

And now he's running for president as a populist. His first wife came from a Philadelphia Main Line family worth $300 million. His second wife is a pickle-and-ketchup heiress. ...

Kerry is, in fact, a Brahmin - his mother was a Forbes, from one of Massachusetts' oldest WASP families. The ancestor who wed Ralph Waldo Emerson's daughter was marrying down.

At the risk of engaging in ethnic stereotyping, Yankees have a reputation for, shall we say, frugality. And Kerry tosses around quarters like they were manhole covers. In 1993, for instance, living on a senator's salary of about $100,000, he managed to give a total of $135 to charity.

Yet that same year, he was somehow able to scrape together $8,600 for a brand-new, imported Italian motorcycle, a Ducati Paso 907 IE. He kept it for years, until he decided to run for president, at which time he traded it in for a Harley-Davidson like the one he rode onto "The Tonight Show" set a couple of months ago as Jay Leno applauded his fellow Bay Stater. ...

In the Senate, his record of his constituent services has been lackluster, and most of his colleagues, despite their public support, are hard-pressed to list an accomplishment. Just last fall, a Boston TV reporter ambushed three congressmen with the question, name something John Kerry has accomplished in Congress. After a few nervous giggles, two could think of nothing, and a third mentioned a baseball field, and then misidentified Kerry as "Sen. Kennedy."

Many of his constituents see him in person only when he is cutting them in line - at an airport, a clam shack or the Registry of Motor Vehicles. One talk-show caller a few weeks back recalled standing behind a police barricade in 2002 as the Rolling Stones played the Orpheum Theater, a short limousine ride from Kerry's Louisburg Square mansion.

The caller, Jay, said he began heckling Kerry and his wife as they attempted to enter the theater. Finally, he said, the senator turned to him and asked him the eternal question.

"Do you know who I am?"

"Yeah," said Jay. "You're a gold-digger."

John Kerry. First he looks at the purse.

Sadly, the Boston Herald keeps its columnists under online lock-and-key, so we have to hope that Howie's columns about Gigolo John are syndicated or otherwise made available on the web, like this one found on FreeRepublic.com.

Beef on weck: tears of joy


I'm on my way home from three days in the vicinity of Buffalo, New York. This is my third trip there in as many months.

When I travel, I make a point to learn about local favorites. I could easily eat all my meals at national chains, but I don't make interesting discoveries that way. On my first trip to Savannah, back in 1997, I was looking for a place to eat Sunday lunch. The legendary Mrs. Wilkes' Boarding House doesn't serve on Sundays, but there was an ad in the local weekly for a new little place called The Lady and Sons, advertising a Southern buffet. I went, had a wonderful meal, and bought my wife a copy of the restaurant's self-published, spiral-bound cookbook. I met the owner, Paula Deen, who autographed the cookbook for my wife: "Shake those pots and pans!" Today, Paula Deen has her own weekly show on the Food Network and the restaurant has moved to a new location four times the size of the old one. And I got to eat there before it became famous.

On my first trip to the Buffalo area, we had lunch brought in. Hot, thin-sliced, roast beef au jus; big rolls, sort of like kaiser rolls, but with caraway seeds and coarse salt baked into the top; and as a condiment, a dish of horseradish. Not "horsey sauce", but the real deal. As world-famous as Buffalo wings are, I am told that beef on weck is the unofficial sandwich of western New York. (Weck is short for kimmelweck or kummelweck roll.) Every tavern serves it -- I had a particularly good one at the Bar Bill Tavern in East Aurora -- and most local restaurants too.

There's something about the combination of the caraway seeds, salt, and horseradish. And there's nothing like a big bite of horseradish to clear the sinuses. I have to admit that part of the appeal of the sandwich in cold and flu season is its medicinal qualities.

This afternoon I had a late lunch at Danny's Buffalo Cuisine near the airport and ordered a beef on 'weck. I got way too much horseradish in the first bite. I felt the heat spread through my sinuses. My eyes began to water, my ears began to burn, my face flushed, and my nose started to run. The waitress was over in an instant to ask, "Is everything OK?" I thought I detected in her voice a note of genuine concern for my well-being. You could easily mistake my symptoms for the signs of an imminent emotional collapse. I choked out the words, "Everything's fine, thanks." And it was.

My letter to the editor -- 196 words, so they should print the whole thing, but will they?

(Please excuse the spelling, but for this letter I deferred to the way the Whirled spells its own name.)

I was saddened but not surprised by the editorial labeling Councilor Chris Medlock as a "weak link". Medlock is in fact the strongest link on the City Council. He is one of a handful of councilors who will study the issues, ask intelligent questions, and apply independent judgment to make the right decision for our city. He is a champion for the interests of ordinary Tulsans. That is why the Tulsa World wants him out of office.

The Tulsa World uses its pages to advance the interests of its publisher and his associates, without regard for the interests of Tulsans of all races, classes, and neighborhoods. The World's ideal Council consists of nine lobotomized monkeys, who would follow directions without thinking. The World editors skew coverage to make the councilors they control look good and to make intelligent, independent public servants look bad.

Because Chris Medlock insists on fair treatment for Tulsa’s homeowners and taxpayers, World editors have falsely labeled him as a troublemaker. Those who know Chris Medlock appreciate his energy and sense of humor, his devotion to his wife and their foster children, and his love for Tulsa, his hometown. Tulsa needs him on the Council.

There's only so much you can say in under 200 words, so read on for more:

Analysis to come soon


Have been traveling and unable to post, but sometime in the next couple of days will post a reaction to the primaries. I'm disappointed, but I have a strong suspicion that Roscoe Turner won his election, and I hope he will pursue a recount and validation of the votes aggressively. There were machine problems Tuesday night at the election board. In third-world countries, machine problems happen conveniently to allow the vote totals to be fiddled.

Find your City Council district


The City of Tulsa website has a little web application -- you put in your address and it tells you your Council district and current councilor.

By the way, the maps in my entries on the Council race are scanned from the official map from the election board. (They sell copies of district maps, but they don't have them on the website yet.) The numbers are precinct numbers.

(I'm postdating this so it stays at the top of the blog through election day.)

Welcome to readers of The Corner!


In response to an appeal from K-Lo (Kathryn Lopez, editor of National Review Online) in NRO's group blog, The Corner, I e-mailed her some observations about the Democrat presidential primary here in Oklahoma. This morning, she posted my observations as part of a roundup of all the states holding primaries today. The name of the website was mentioned (although not hyperlinked).

So if you found us via The Corner, welcome! This is a conservative weblog -- slightly "crunchy", as I'm interested in urban design and historic preservation. This blog is focused on Tulsa politics, but I delve now and then into world news, travel, culture, education, music, and faith. I hope you'll stay and browse, and let me know what you think with an e-mail to blog at batesline dot com.

What's at stake?


Convincing people to care about a City Council primary election is a tough sell. Folks don't perceive local issues as important, and they're bombarded with national and world news. This year's primary is overshadowed by a presidential primary. Even granting the importance of local government, a lot of folks figure they'll let the hardcore voters separate the wheat from the chaff in the primaries, and they'll get interested when the general election comes around. It's a partisan primary, so Republicans assume that an election which will be decided in the Republican primary must be a win-win scenario -- no danger of a Democrat getting in -- so they can sit this one out.

That would be a huge mistake. You need to show up and vote today. Here's why:

Follow this link for a very small PDF file, a handy diagram depicting the City Council elections as a tournament bracket. Some players have a bye (no primary) the first round; in other contests the first round is the only round. On the sheet I've highlighted the candidates I've endorsed in bold and the candidates that the Tulsa Whirled has endorsed in italics. A little (i) in parentheses indicates the incumbent in each election. (Note that the Whirled hasn't formally endorsed Baker, Justis, or Neal, none of whom have a primary, but based on the Whirled's praise for these councilors in the editorial and news pages, the paper is certain to endorse them in the general.)

Scroll back through previous entries for commentaries on each of the eight Council races on the ballot tomorrow.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from February 2004 listed from newest to oldest.

January 2004 is the previous archive.

March 2004 is the next archive.

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