March 2004 Archives

Radio signal maps


Instapundit linked to a Doc Searls entry about the new liberal talk radio network. The article includes an interesting digression about AM radio propagation and has links to, a database of information about broadcast stations in the USA. Each entry includes the station's website and the URL of any streaming broadcast, transmitting power, number and location of towers, ownership information, and -- this is the cool part -- links to daytime and nighttime coverage maps. Here's the entry for 1170 KFAQ. Advanced search will allow you to find all the stations with a certain frequency, and will do a fuzzy search around a frequency. There's even a mobile edition for downloading info to your PDA.

The coverage maps only show propagation of the ground wave, so if you remember Billy Parker's ads for the 50th anniversary of KVOO (now KFAQ) and the reference to "38 states, Mexico, and Canada", you'll be disappointed.

AM radio. Maps. These are a few of my favorite things.

Waiting for God's will


I'm part of a group going through The Purpose Driven Life, and I've just read Chapter 5, which refers to the Parable of the Talents. That reminded me of this item from Lark News, a very funny Christian news satire website, which I meant to blog about months ago. Actually, the more I think about this the sadder it seems:

Man, 91, dies waiting for will of God

TUPELO — Walter Houston, described by family members as a devoted Christian, died Monday after waiting 70 years for God to give him clear direction about what to do with his life.

"He hung around the house and prayed a lot, but just never got that confirmation," his wife Ruby said. "Sometimes he thought he heard God's voice, but then he wouldn't be sure, and he'd start the process all over again."

Houston, she says, never really figured out what his life was about, but felt content to pray continuously about what he might do for the Lord. Whenever he was about to take action, he would pull back "because he didn't want to disappoint God or go against him in any way," Ruby says. "He was very sensitive to always remain in God's will. That was primary to him."

Friends say they liked Walter though he seemed not to capitalize on his talents.

"Walter had a number of skills he never got around to using," says longtime friend Timothy Burns. "He worked very well with wood and had a storyteller side to him, too. I always told him, 'Take a risk. Try something new if you're not happy,' but he was too afraid of letting the Lord down."

To his credit, they say, Houston, who worked mostly as a handyman, was able to pay off the mortgage on the couple's modest home.

Many evangelical Christians are afflicted with this form of paralysis, which is the result of defective teaching about discerning God's will and making decisions. There's this notion that God has a specific plan for your life that He expects you to follow, and if you don't, you've wasted your life, but He's not going to make it easy for you to find out what that plan is, or to distinguish between your own gut feelings and human advice and what God really wants you to do.

The truth is that God has revealed in the Bible everything He wants us to know about Himself and what He wants us to do. Within those boundaries, we have the freedom and the responsibilty to make prudent decisions. In terms of career, that means seeking the counsel of friends, parents, and mentors, and having a realistic view of our own gifts and skills, and even considering our own desires.

I could go on about this, but I'm too tired right now. Go look at and have a thought-provoking laugh. And for a more serious treatment of the issue of decision-making, vocation and God's will, check out this page of Q&A from Tim Keller, the pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City. Note particularly the entries under "God's Will" and "Vocation".

ScrappleFace is a wonderful news satire blog. Here's a bit from a recent entry:

"Just like Bush reversed conventional wisdom by proclaiming that Republicans actually care about people," said Mr. Kerry, "my agenda declares that it's okay to be a bleeding-heart liberal without the bleeding heart part."

Democrat National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe said it's all part of the "New Aloofness," a Democrat sensibility that says "It's okay to be for big government and higher taxes without having to justify it by claiming to care about people who are many rungs below you on the economic ladder."

Please note that this is a parody, not a real news item, but like all satire, its punch is directly proportional to its proximity to the truth.

A glimpse into Reagan's faith


On the PCAnews website, there's an article by Paul Kengor, author of God and Ronald Reagan, about how Reagan's personal faith emerged in his speeches and letters:

In a March 1978 letter to a Methodist minister who expressed doubts about Christ's divinity—and accused Reagan of a "limited Sunday school level theology"—Reagan responded:

"Perhaps it is true that Jesus never used the word "Messiah" with regard to himself (although I'm not sure that he didn't) but in John 1, 10 and 14 he identifies himself pretty definitely and more than once. Is there really any ambiguity in his words: "I am the way, the truth and the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by me?"… In John 10 he says, "I am in the Father and the Father in me." And he makes reference to being with God, "before the world was," and sitting on the "right hand of God."…

"These and other statements he made about himself, foreclose in my opinion, any question as to his divinity. It doesn't seem to me that he gave us any choice; either he was what he said he was or he was the world's greatest liar. It is impossible for me to believe a liar or charlatan could have had the effect on mankind that he has had for 2000 years. We could ask, would even the greatest of liars carry his lie through the crucifixion, when a simple confession would have saved him? … Did he allow us the choice you say that you and others have made, to believe in his teachings but reject his statements about his own identity?"

A politician who is just trying to adopt a veneer of religiosity for political convenience would not write a letter trying to persuade someone of the deity of Christ -- why risk offending a voter? This letter displays deep knowledge and the deep love of a Christian toward his Savior.

Reagan's critics, unwilling to debate the issues, would attack his intelligence, creating a false public image that has even seeped into the consciousness of his admirers. The publication of his private letters and his radio broadcast notes, memoirs by close aides like Peggy Noonan and Peter Robinson -- all have served to refresh our memories of his intelligence, his clarity of expression, his firm convictions, and his warmth and grace, even toward his detractors. We read things like this, from the period just before his 1980 campaign, and we remember why conservatives were so energized at the thought of him serving as our president.

Read the whole thing.

Another story about the lamentable spread of American litigiousness, from the Telegraph:

The arrival of the American-style compensation culture is turning open spaces and public parks into dreary, fun-free, soulless places, the Government's architecture and building advisers said yesterday.

Bouncy castles, ancient trees, boating lakes, adventure playgrounds, public art and even firework displays on windy days, such as the celebrations in Edinburgh last New Year, are all victims of the trend to stop or take down anything that might have the slightest risk attached....

Ruth Holmes, of Groundwork, said: "We can't go for as exciting a playground as we'd like - swings and roundabouts and things like that - because they need to be checked and, if there was a danger, they would have to be closed down.

"We are hoping now to have some static stuff, such as a mound-like fort with a slide and some fixed parallel bars."

A council officer said: "We were worried that children could vandalise the equipment and take bolts out. We are trying to get equipment as tamper-proof as possible. We can't risk somebody being hurt."

The trouble with static equipment is that it is extremely boring to play on, said Cabe, and play areas are now being built where children have no wish to play.

I blogged a while ago about the Toronto School District's removal of all playground equipment for safety reasons, and about the joy of finding "dangerous" old-fashioned equipment still in place and in use in Independence, Kansas.

This move away from fun playground equipment must be a boon to the backyard swingset industry.

Dawn Eden reports from Monday's Defense of Marriage rally in New York City. It didn't fit the media stereotype of these events:

During the one-hour rally—which occurred after hundreds of members of the clergy held a press conference on the City Hally steps—the crowd was addressed by several local pastors from the from the City Covenant Coalition and Kevin McCullough, each of whom led a prayer. It was strange and beautiful to be on the southern border of the park on a bright, sunny day, holding hands with complete strangers, and realizing we all wanted the same thing. We were reclaiming city space as prayer space.

It was clear that one of the main talking points for the pastors (which I later learned was elucidated in the guidelines their coalition had produced for the rally) was that we who uphold traditional marriage should not carry a message of hate. But this was more than just "love the sinner, hate the sin." The speakers stressed that the present marriage crisis stemmed from heterosexual infidelity, and from the church's failure to come down strongly against such transgressions.

One speaker instructed the crowd's members to say, "We have sinned," and then point at themselves and say, "I have sinned." The issue, said another, was not that we should beat ourselves up over our sin, but that we should take responsibility for what we have done, and likewise take responsibility for our actions now.

I don't know what, if any, coverage this rally is going to get from the mainstream media, but I can tell you one thing: If any mainstream reporters were there, chances are they were very disappointed. There was not a single word of hate. There was only the message of God's love and redemption, and of marriage as Jesus described in in Matthew 19:4-6....

There's more and it's all good, plus links to photos and additional coverage of the rally.

Democracy demands precision


In my previous entry, I presented an analysis revealing discrepancies in 50 Tulsa precincts where more votes were counted than there were eligible voters signing in. I offered several explanations for these gaps, but they all boil down to carelessness: A voter was given ballots, but in a moment of distraction she didn't sign the book. An election board clerk overlooked a signature on the precinct register when entering voter IDs into the database. A voter was given a city primary ballot for the wrong party, when the voter's party didn't have a city primary. A voter demanded a ballot he wasn't entitled to, and the precinct workers didn't refuse him. Or, probably the case in three of the precincts, the precinct workers gave a city primary ballot to everyone, regardless of party, even though only one party had a primary.

Anyone could have performed the analysis. The Tulsa Whirled could have, and the Tulsa County Election Board could have and should have. It's like balancing a scorecard at the end of a baseball game -- the left side of the equation should match the right side, and the Election Board has the information to do that kind of comparison.

Imagine if the Election Board had done a self-audit and caught the discrepancy in Precinct 20 right after the election. There would have been no need to take the case to the state Supreme Court. The candidates would not have had to put up money for a recount and would not have had to pay for attorneys. A new primary election could have been held on the same date as the city general, allowing the duly elected Councilor to be sworn in with his colleagues.

So why didn't this happen?

An analysis of records from the February 3rd Tulsa City Council primary election shows that there may have been 50 precincts where more votes were cast in the primary election than the number of voters who are recorded as having signed the precinct register. This is the problem that was uncovered in precinct 20, where nearly 50 more votes were cast in the Democrat city primary than the number of Democrat voters who signed the register. This discrepancy was bigger than the margin of victory in the race, rendering the result mathematically uncertain, and forcing a rerun of the vote, which will take place on April 6th.

In five precincts, the discrepancy was in the double-digits:

5 (R)
2 (R)
3 (D)
2 (R)
2 (R)

None of the other Council races were close enough for the discrepancy to affect the outcome.

What could explain these gaps between the number of votes and the number of voters?

A reader passed along a campaign letter he received from City Councilor David Patrick, who faces former Councilor Roscoe Turner in a repeat of the District 3 City Council Democrat primary on April 6. In the letter, Patrick (or someone writing under his name) takes credit for progress he has had little or nothing to do with. (He is careful not to remind voters of his enthusiastic support for the Vision 2025 tax increase.) He then accuses Turner of being a tool of eeeeeeeevil Republicans.

We face a severe challenge in continuing this progress. A close examination of the facts will show that Republican and other outside interests have joined forces with my opponent, in an effort to discredit me through false accusations and misinformation.

This is pretty rich, coming from someone who received more than half his campaign contributions ($13,400, of which $11,000 were given in amounts exceeding $200) from registered Republicans ($7,500). All of Patrick's contributions over $200 from individuals came from people who live outside the district in some of south Tulsa's wealthiest precincts. On top of that, Patrick got significant contributions from two business PACs. (Turner has received the support of organized labor.) And, as we reported, Patrick received $7,300 from officers and board members of the F&M Bank and Trust Company. Patrick was a supporter of F&M's rezoning bid for 71st & Harvard.

King's crystal ball


National Review Online runs one of Florence King's The Misanthrope's Corner columns each Friday. This week's is from 1996, in which King anticipates with uncanny accuracy the course of the same-sex marriage debate:

The preliminary stage of brainwashing is already underway. "Husband" and "wife" are yielding to "spouse," a vague usage that benefits no one but gays. Gov. Roy Romer recently vetoed Colorado's proposed anti-gay marriage law, calling it "mean-spirited," a word that functions in America like the bell in Pavlov's laboratory. And now Bill Clinton has announced, through his gay-liaison office, that he is "personally opposed" to homosexual marriage. This phraseology, a staple of the abortion debate, is a reminder not to let our premises stand in the way of our conclusions.

The major brainwashing, soon to begin, will proceed as follows.

Magazines will run cover stories that thinking Americans — all 17 of us — recognize as that brand of persuasion called "nibbled to death by a duck." Time does "Debating Same-Sex Marriage" and Newsweek does "Rethinking Gay Marriage." Lofty opinion journals weigh in with "A Symposium on," "In Defense of," and "Voices from," while Parade does "If They Say 'I Do' . . . Will We Say 'You Can't?'" Cover art consists of a pair of wedding rings sporting identical biological signs: two arrow-shooting circles for men, two mirror-handle circles for women. We will start seeing these logos in our sleep.

Read the whole thing, then read a couple of her previously posted columns.

Mr. Blackwell, Vexillologist


Someone has graded the world's flags based on their aesthetic qualities. Here is the full alphabetical list of flags and their ratings. Flags get marked down for having the name or any other kind of writing, a map, or representational art, too many stars, "eyewatering" or nauseating color combinations, and lack of originality.

Some sample remarks:

Turkmenistan: Flag actually includes a Persian (sorry, Turkmen) carpet. Only flag to both make eyes water and induce vomiting.

Mozambique: Automatic weapons on a flag are especially bad. Appears to have been designed by a committee all of whom had stupid ideas for pictures of extra things to put on the flag.

(Hat tip to The Corner.)

BitWeever has analyzed the list of Tulsans contributing to presidential campaigns. Interesting reading -- no Tulsa contributors to Kerry are listed -- and a hat tip to Okie Doke, who linked the article in his weekly round up of Oklahoma blogs.


|'s Charles G. Hill has a guest entry over on the Dawn Patrol about Oklahoma City's telephone exchanges. Oklahoma City had some pretty good ones: Shadyside, Swift, Orange, Prospect. Someone had the job of coming up with these names.

For the record, here's what I remember of the Tulsa-area prefixes from 1969, when we moved here:

ADams-4 (far east Tulsa)
AMherst-6 (Catoosa)
CRestview-2 (Owasso)
HIckory-5 (west Tulsa)
LUther (downtown)
RIverside (near the river)
TEmple (near-east Tulsa)

Can't remember the exchange names for Sand Springs, Sapulpa, Sperry, north Tulsa (425 -- was it LAkeview, JAsper, or something else?), or Jenks. Bixby, Bixby North, and Broken Arrow didn't have named
exchanges since they weren't (and aren't) served by Southwestern Bell. (Please e-mail me with additions and corrections.)

The exchange map from the phone book back then is still burned into my brain. Bixby, Bixby North, and BA were shown as solid black shapes separated (out of fellowship?) from the interlocking exchanges of Ma Bell. The next page was the toll chart, warning Catoosa phone subscribers that a call to Sapulpa costs extra.

The first Tulsa exchange without a name, as far as I can recall, was 560, which was used by Cities Service for their headquarters starting in the early '70s. At the same time, the phone book stopped referring to named exchanges and used all-numeric, um, numbers.

On a related note, I have never had a phone number without a zero or a one somewhere in it, which means I've never been able to turn my phone number into a word. My favorite in that category was GARAGES -- the phone number of a garage construction company that advertised on Cubs TV broadcasts (another passion of my Pogo-loving Grandma). Tulsans of a certain age will remember a verbal phone number of ill repute.

Nice to see that the concern I had about taxpayers getting stuck with the bill -- used by KJRH on TV Thursday -- is shared by that well-known cabal of naysayers, the Tulsa Whirled Editorial Board:

Gray's decision is more good news for a Tulsa that seems to be headed in the right direction. Gray says that the $26 million sculpture is privately funded and that an endowment will be established to take care of the long-term maintenance.

We are confident that Gray can be trusted. Nevertheless, it would behoove city leaders to acquire some guarantees. What the city does not want to face is making a commitment to the sculpture and then being pressured for tax dollars to complete it. Such a guarantee would show no disrespect to Gray or those involved in the private funding. It simply makes good business sense -- for all parties.

Even a stopped clock is right twice a day, and I'm sure they'd say the same about me.



I feel used. It's my own fault. I knew what they were after, and I let them come out and talk to me anyway. I could have said I was too busy, because I was, but I'm a soft touch, especially when it's the dulcet tones of KJRH's Omadalle Nelson coming through the phone.

She said she'd read my entries about "The American" and had the impression I wasn't supportive of the colossal statue. I told her I supported it, and was pleased that Tulsa would be getting a major tourist attraction that would be privately financed. I confessed that I was amused at all the skepticism about economic impact being voiced by people who weren't asking skeptical questions last fall about the impact claimed by Vision 2025's supporters. The only concern I had about the project is what would happen in the event that the backers couldn't complete the project or couldn't maintain it over time -- would taxpayers get stuck with the bill?

That's evidently what she (or her producer) was after -- something negative to balance out the piece, create a sense of controversy -- and no doubt that's why she called me. We met up not far from where I work and talked for several minutes. I mentioned my support for the project, my support for the idea of a privately-funded project, and the idea that this statue could help define Tulsa in the world's view as the place to come to experience American Indian culture and history.

Silence is golden


A recent profundity from The Dawn Patrol, not that there's anything unusual about such an occurrence:

There's something I've longed to write on this blog for a long time, but I have always stopped myself for fear it would come out sounding too childish or sentimental. I am going to say it just once now and leave it tucked inside this entry, to speak for now as well as those few other special times when I want to express this feeling:

There are some experiences or conversations that I enjoy so much that I don't write about them, for fear that giving a word-for-word account will break the spell somehow. It's not because I fear sharing them with the world, but because I fear that, as with when one writes down a dream, I'll wind up remembering what was written instead of what happened. It seems better to risk forgetting the interaction than to remember it only according to what can only amount to, at best, a superficial outline.

Amen. (Sorry. I meant to say, "Indeed.")

Go, go, Pogo!


Dawn Eden earlier today posted this interesting entry, reflecting on an essay about Catholicism and the empowerment of women. I'll get back to that thought, perhaps, but what caught my eye was her clever headline, "Churchy La Femme", which was hot-linked somewhere. Merely a pun on the French epigram, cherchez la femme, I wondered? (Churchy instead of cherchez, because it's about a church and women, geddit? as my seven-year old would say when he feels compelled to explain a joke that didn't get a big enough laugh.)

Or was this a knowing reference to my favorite comic strip, and its poet laureate, the turtle Churchy La Femme? Could it be that Dawn is a fellow Pogophile? The title was linked to to this review of a CD reissue of "Songs of the Pogo", a collection of Walt Kelly's whimsical poetry set to music, and in many cases, sung by Walt hisself. I am thrilled to learn that this has been reissued for a new generation to discover.

I started to categorize this entry under "Whimsy", but this really deserves to be the next entry in the BatesLine bookshelf, because Walt Kelly's possum had an early and deep influence on my sense of humor.

My grandma introduced me to Pogo when I was about eight or nine. Grandma had a great collection of comic paperbacks -- Peanuts, Andy Capp, and B.C. -- but Pogo was her favorite. She passed on a couple of her paperbacks, collections of the strip published back in the '50s. Pogo had puns, playful language, beautifully drawn art, and gentle satire of pop culture and politics. Every four years, Pogo's friends drafted him to run for president, and did their best to repackage his image -- against his will -- aiming for political success.

I got a lovely note at work from one Visitation S. Cadger a couple of days ago. It was all in Russian. I can decipher Cyrillic, but don't actually know any Russian, so I look for transliterated English words as a clue. This one appears to be about "operativnaya poligraphiya". The end of it refers to "metro Leninskiy Prospekt" and gives a phone number, which I take to be in Moscow. Evidently someone out in the Spamosphere thinks I live in Moscow. I have received ads, with menus, for a Moscow pizza parlor and a Moscow sushi restaurant which (if the online translation was correct) also seems to be a "gentleman's club".

The Russian spam flood is fairly recent. I've been getting Turkish spam for a couple of years now, as well as spam in Spanish which appears to be specifically Argentine.

District 3 re-vote spoiled?


Breaking news -- word has reached me that the County Election Board has mailed some unknown number of absentee ballots to registered Republicans for the upcoming rerun of the Democrat City Council District 3 primary. Election Board employees are trying to intercept and recover the mis-sent ballots. It is possible that a judge could order a further delay -- perhaps just a week -- and the printing of new ballots to ensure that these illegitimate ballots won't get counted.

I suspect this is the result of some automated process. Some voters "subscribe" to absentee ballots -- submit a request at the beginning of a year to be sent a ballot for every election that occurs. Still, you would hope that in light of the mess with Republicans voting in Precinct 20 that the County Election Board would be more careful.

More as it develops.

UPDATE: I hear that election officials are saying that 24 mistaken ballots were sent out. If they use the same system for mail-in absentee ballots as they did when I was in college, it should be possible to identify invalid ballots as they are returned to the election board. Back then, I had to place my ballots in an envelope, which then went into another envelope which I signed in the presence of a notary. This notarized envelope would have my name and address on it. If the same system is still used, the election board would be able to set aside ballots from Republican absentee voters -- treating them like provisional ballots. The question is whether they would be legally authorized to do so. And it may be that the absentee voting system is vastly different because of Federal legislation like the 1993 Motor Voter bill.

A reader sends a link to this CNN story about a proposal to build a 305-foot-tall fiberglass and steel statue of Abraham Lincoln, which would dwarf "The American" -- the 220-foot-tall statue honoring American Indians which will be built in Tulsa. The statue would be built in Lincoln, Illinois, a town founded by Abraham Lincoln:

In the first phase of the project, the steel and fiberglass statue would be built, patterned after a Lloyd Ostendorf painting that shows Lincoln christening the town with watermelon juice in 1853, Steffens said.

Though organizers hope to match the height of the Statue of Liberty, Steffens said the Lincoln statue may be smaller because of air traffic and the tornadoes that threaten the area every spring.

And it looks like their statue will be in color. Boosters are looking for corporate investors, and may be willing to sell naming rights. Lincoln could end up looking like a NASCAR driver with all the corporate logos on his jacket.

Big Indian coming to Tulsa?


There's a press conference tomorrow at 2:30 at the Central Library with sculptor Shan Gray, and it's almost certainly going to be to announce that the monumental statue "The American" will be built in Tulsa.

Where in Tulsa remains an open question, with some contending for the Osage Hills, some for just north of downtown, some for the west bank of the River. Urban Tulsa this week has a list of proposed sites.

Barry Friedman of Urban Tulsa also takes a closer look at the finances for the project and its expected economic impact to the city.

Surprising some, was not that the project’s team’s inflated the economic impact—publicists and marketing people have been known to do that—but that Tulsa city officials and their mouthpiece daily paper failed to publically question the numbers. Further, no official wondered whether the artist, who heretofore hadn’t designed anything taller than 18 feet, can even bring the 176-foot American to fruition.

Barry's got it backwards: Some city officials are the mouthpiece for the Tulsa Whirled and the elite group it represents, not the other way around. But it's heartening to see some skepticism applied to economic impact numbers and big dreams.

The Oklahoma Piglet Debate


The Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, a free-market think-tank, has published a "piglet" book for Oklahoma, listing examples of questionable expenditures and opportunities for improving efficiency in state government. The book is modeled after the one produced annually by Citizens Against Government Waste.

OCPA will square off against representatives from the Oklahoma Public Employees Association (OPEA) in a debate to be televised this Sunday, March 28, at 1:30 pm, on OETA (channel 11 in Tulsa).

From the Piglet Book:

While state's problems are not unique, government waste, inefficiency and mismanagement are marbled throughout the Oklahoma state budget.

That recalls the following quote, from Don Mele, VP for Government Affairs for the New York City Partnership and Chamber of Commerce:

"Fat in the government is not like fat on a chicken; it's like fat in a steak. It's marbled through."

And accordingly difficult to eliminate. This debate should be enlightening.

The Tulsa Development Authority, the local urban renewal quango, is updating its plans, and the TDA is inviting public input. An open house will be held at the TDA offices on March 30 from 5:30 to 7:00 p.m. Plans are also available for public inspection this week during normal office hours. The covered areas include everything within the Inner Dispersal Loop; just east of the loop, between I-244, 11th Street, and Rockford; and just north of the loop, between the old Midland Valley tracks, Pine Street, and US 75. Anyone concerned about downtown and near-downtown redevelopment should take time to review the plan changes and express an opinion. The TDA acquires property (sometimes from a willing seller, often by eminent domain), demolishes buildings, and resells land to try to encourage development in accordance with its plans. Because of the property the authority owns, and its ability to acquire more, the TDA's decisions will have an enormous impact on downtown's future, through projects like the East Village redevelopment.

In recent years, the philosophy of urban renewal has changed dramatically, and for the better, as you can see in this Request for Proposals for downtown residential development -- one quarter of a proposal's "grade" will have to do with how well it "promotes compatibility with the character of an urban, pedestrian friendly neighborhood" and how well it contributes "to downtown vitality."

Will downtown once again be a vibrant, diverse, urban place, or will it become another outpost of suburbia? Don't just stay tuned, come down, form an opinion and have a say.

Over at Tulsa Today, David Arnett asks whether we've been getting our money's worth from the City's contract with the Chamber for economic development:

For the last twenty years or so the primary publicly funded local economic development effort has been conducted by the Metropolitan Tulsa Chamber of Commerce at a cost of over $70 million. Any local expenditure for that long at that level begs the question of value received. Is Tulsa now economically developed and a center for conventions and visitors? That is the objective of the annual contract the Chamber executes in behalf of the City of Tulsa at a rate of approximately $3 million per year. If they are not doing the job, should we fire them?

A few months ago, Chamber Senior Vice President Mickey Thompson took questions at a meeting of the Republican Men’s Club where he publicly asserted that “big business is more important to Tulsa’s economic development than small business.” The crowd groaned as most knew that statement to be false. Big business is defined as more than 200 employees, but the backbone of Tulsa’s economy has always been small business. Economists by the thousands will testify that small business generates faster higher quality economic growth than big business.

What drives the Chamber to focus on big business? When they land a big business, they make a bigger splash. And the pursuit is more glamorous, too. There's more travel, more expensive lunches. It's all much more exciting than lobbying legislators to make Oklahoma a better place for all sorts of businesses.

I wrote back during the Vision 2025 campaign about the importance of small businesses to our economy. Go back and read that.

Recall also that Mickey Thompson confessed during the Vision 2025 campaign that he had no idea how to regain the thousands of high-tech jobs Tulsa has lost over the last few years.

Arnett asks if it's time to give economic development responsibilities to some other organization:

Maybe the City of Tulsa should change contractors. Maybe City Government should execute the function in-house. Maybe Tulsa County should establish an economic development office or with the City create a cooperative effort. Whatever the plan, results are critical. It is proper for public officials to monitor and make organizational changes when necessary to execute this important public business.

If the people of Tulsa County are willing to fund economic development, maybe it is time to get serious. What about a revolving fund that would provide business development loans to local small businesses for expansion and real economic growth? With $350 million (Boeing's package), we could help a lot of local businesses.

And that raises the question of who would control this fund. Handled honestly, it could do a lot of good, but it could also be used to repay political favors.

(I can't remember the details, but for some reason M.Y. Cab, a Tulsa company that made headlines in the '80s, comes to mind. Anyone remember?)

I'll repeat my call for a private venture capital fund for Tulsa entrepreneurs, run by people who understand technology and understand business, with no other purpose than to maximize their investor's return. Make it inexpensive enough so many Tulsans would participate, even if only out of love for our city rather than the expectation of a return on investment.

This entry introduces a new category. From time to time, I'll tell you a bit about a book that has had a significant influence on my life. I won't be writing about them in any particular order -- just as they come to mind.

Why? In part to give you a sense of where I'm coming from, a glimpse at my intellectual DNA. Some of these books will be famous and familiar, some obscure.

I'm starting with one that should be on every reference shelf. I picked up a copy in college. The first job I had after college was as a software engineer, but the job required writing technical white papers and sections of proposals for government contracts. Strunk and White's The Elements of Style sat on my desk as a reminder that writing is supposed to be clear and full of meaning, which is exactly what my technical writing at work was NOT supposed to be. I was once told to change a white paper I wrote because it was too comprehensible -- the readers would feel insulted -- so I was instructed to use the passive voice and to prefer multisyllabic Latinate words to Anglo-Saxon monosyllables.

Here's a memorable passage from E. B. White's introduction to the book and to his college English professor, Will Strunk, who wrote the little book that White revised and republished:

"Omit needless words!" cries the author on page 23, and into that iperative Will Strunk really put his heart and soul. In the days when I was sitting in his class, he omitted so many needless words, and omitted them so forcibly and with such eagerness and obvious relish, that he often seemed in the position of having shortchanged himself -- a man left with nothing more to say yet with time to fill, a radio prophet who had outdistanced the clock. Will Strunk got out of this predicament by a simple trick: he uttered every sentence three times. When he delivered his oration on brevity to the class, he leaned forward over his desk, grasped his coat lapels in his hands, and, in a husky, conspiratorial voice, said, "Rule Seventeen. Omit needless words! Omit needless words! Omit needless words!"

White goes on to quote Strunk's elaboration of the point:

Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts. This requires not that the writer make all his sentences short, or that he avoid all detail and treat his subjects only in outline, but that every word tell.

Strunk's imperative provides some inner pressure to keep me from running on and on. A blog has no space constraints and the immediacy of the form makes brevity difficult. There is little incentive to go back and edit something down, as one would edit an op-ed piece for a newspaper. This reminds me of a quote by Pascal:

The present letter is a very long one, simply because I had no leisure to make it shorter.

Here's another useful bit of advice, part of White's addition to the book:

8. Avoid the use of qualifiers.

Rather, very, little, pretty -- these are the leeches that infest the pond of prose, sucking the blood of words. The constant use of the adjective little (except to indicate size) is particularly debilitating; we should all try to do a little better, we should all be very watchful of this rule, for it is a rather important one and we are pretty sure to violate it now and then.

Buy it, read it, absorb it.

Interesting to see what search strings are bringing readers to this site. Here are the top ten so far for March:

howie carr cute baby pictures dykwia vote batesline beef on weck gorilla howie carr columns devon jones

Howie Carr and cute baby pictures usually jockey back and forth for first place.

I may be getting more visitors looking for info about beef on weck, the Buffalo, N.Y., delicacy -- my entry is number 6 in Google, right below an article from the public radio show "The Splendid Table".

In case you missed it, the rerun of the District 3 Democrat Primary will occur on Tuesday, April 6. That leaves a bit more than two weeks to make a difference in what will be a close election, an election that has huge implications for the next two years of Tulsa city government.

That's why I was out in Saturday's beautiful weather knocking on doors in support of Roscoe Turner.

One fellow who answered the door said he had been talking up Roscoe to his parents -- he was visiting them that day. He said he was impressed by Turner's dogged persistence about the voting irregularities in the race.

Another lady was more interested in talking national politics. County and city politics, she said, were all about you scratch my back, and I'll scratch yours. I couldn't come up with a better description of what we're trying to change at City Hall and the County Courthouse. We are trying to replace the mutual backscratchers with intelligent, independent-minded officials who will seek the best interests of all Tulsans.

More and more of Tulsa's voters are demonstrating that they want honesty, openness, and fairness in government -- they understand that they don't have it now, but they can get it by electing honest and honorable citizens. That's why Chris Medlock and Sam Roop were re-elected by large margins, why Jack Henderson won his primary handily over the Tulsa Whirled's designated candidate, why Randy Sullivan was held to 53% in his re-election bid, why Tom Baker nearly lost to Eric Gomez, why David Patrick had only a three-vote margin (in the invalidated election), and why an entrenched incumbent was turned out of office by neighborhood advocate Jim Mautino.

This election won't change the partisan balance on the Council, in terms of the national political parties -- both candidates are Democrats -- but it will change the partisan balance in terms of local factions and interest groups. A win by Roscoe Turner means a solid majority who will work for fairness to homeowners, city government efficiency, and openness in government.

Roscoe needs volunteers to help knock on doors, make phone calls, drive people to the polls on election day, and to give money to the campaign. You can send checks to the Roscoe H. Turner Campaign Fund, 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. We know from the last election that every vote counts, so do everything you can.

The Dawn Patrol


She dreams about non-existent train stations. She writes songs about historic events that occurred in Worms, Germany. She writes liner notes for '60s pop album reissues. She writes about replacement theology.

She's Jewish. She's a born-again Christian.

Her name is Dawn Eden, and she has a fascinating and well-written blog. Check it out.

Here's her story of coming to faith in Christ, and the perspective of her sister, a Reform rabbinical student.

Oh, and she's single. Here are her "looking fors" and "deal breakers". She has high standards, and although I don't aspire to be the one she's looking for (already taken, thanks), those are characteristics I aspire to have. And this "Salonica" she has planned for tomorrow afternoon -- "literate, Christian-friendly discussion and fellowship over Sunday brunch at one of New York City's best-loved Irish pubs" -- sounds like great fun.

Thanks to for linking to Dawn's song about the Concordat of Worms.

Spring hath sprung


We knew spring had arrived, a bit ahead of schedule, back on March 8. The Bradford pear tree in the back yard was about to blossom. It was just a day or so past the full moon, we'd had some big rains, and that night we heard the trilling of a toad next to our backyard pond. The chorus grew and by Saturday we spotted a pair of toads in the pond, um, riding piggyback. This last Monday there were 9 toads in the pond at night, mostly lonely boy toads, pitching noisy woo. On the 17th, we had 17 in the pond, matching last year's peak attendance.

Apparently, our pond received some good word-of-vocal-sac referrals during the off-season. Thursday afternoon there were 22 and by 10 o'clock that night there were 32. It was like a little Woodstock: music, mud, and free love. As it was for the grownups back in '69, it was hard for us outsiders to tell which were the boys and which were the girls, and we had the impression that the toads weren't so sure themselves.

The townies -- the goldfish who are the permanent residents of the pond -- seemed bemused by the noisy, busy tourists in their midst and did their best not to get in the way, but the bigger fish in particular seemed agitated by all the frantic activity.

Thursday night was also when the first strand of little black pearls appeared -- tadpoles-to-be -- and by Friday evening, toad eggs were laced all through the water hyacinths in the middle of the pond.

Friday evening the numbers were down -- back to about 17, mostly singles, having a sing-song round the pool. When they got quiet, my son got them going again with his uncanny and amazing toad call. (Somehow he can trill his tongue and whistle at the same time.) We came across a very tired looking female (we think) resting in the grass nearby. We should start to see the tadpoles hatch in a week or so, and then watch them grow legs, lose their tails, and leave the pond.

(Here's a link about toads in fish ponds and the toad lifecycle.)

Tonight the weather turned cold and the pond is toad-free. And spring is definitely here.

Here's another item from the colorful 1988 Tulsa city elections:

Gene C. Burns, better known as Accountability Burns, also has called himself A. B. Einstein IV, Einstein Belcher Burns, and Tulsa's Man from MARS.

His name change to Accountability, he says, "is in honor of Watergate, obviously. Accountability in government is my program."

He last ran for City Auditor in 2000, as a Democrat against incumbent Phil Wood. You see him around downtown, where he lives. I last bumped into him in a break room at TCC's downtown campus, shortly after I lost an election.

A co-worker had a big file of newspaper clippings about and correspondence with Accountability. He used to apply for jobs with the company, typing cover letters in the lobby. He has a very creative approach to phonetic spelling, and some of the engineers struck up a correspondence, replying to his missives in the same style.

Speaking of colorful characters like Virginia "Blue Jeans" Jenner, here's another find from my friend's basement, a political ad from page 2 B of the Monday, February 15, 1988, edition of the late great Tulsa Tribune, in which she attacked Oral Roberts, State Senate President Pro Tempore Rodger Randle, and Water & Sewer Commissioner Patty Eaton. (Click here for a full-sized image.)

(I hasten to add that I don't endorse any of the views in the ad -- far from it -- which is presented solely for historical and entertainment value.) Here's the punch line of the ad:

To stop husband and wife teams benefitting at taxpayer expense, get your Irish up and vote for this dental hygienist who knows how to deal with folks who talk out of both sides of their mouth. I'll give a lottery instead of a tax hike. 50 percent women appointments and ward government. Merge ORU and UCT and retire Oral.

Love always,
Virginia Jenner
Democrat for Mayor of Tulsa

This would have been just before the primary of what was to be the last election under the old city charter. Coincidentally, on the same page there's an article about a Metropolitan Tulsa Chamber of Commerce committee writing a new city charter, with the NAACP, the League of Women Voters, and the Northeast Oklahoma Labor Council, that they hoped to get on the ballot by the summer:

Under the chamber proposal, the mayor would be elected citywide to a four-year term. Council members would be elected from districts, with a few elected from larger, regional districts. Council members would be part-time and serve four-year terms.

The chamber didn't quite get their way, but isn't it odd that government would turn over the responsibility for developing the basic law of our city to unelected, private organizations?

More about "scare quotes"


Oklahoma City blogger Charles G. Hill over at Dustbury linked to my item about scare quotes in the District 4 City Council race. His first paragraph links to an example of Reuters' use of scare quotes, and that article links to this Weekly Standard column by Alan Jacobs, Wheaton College Professor of English, about the use of scare quotes in coverage of the War on Terror, and how they are a ready substitute for serious analysis and debate.

(Scare quotes are also sometimes called "sneer quotes", which comes closer to conveying the attitude of the writer who uses them.)

Scare quotes have two functions, the first of which is quite straightforward: They allow their users very easily to express incredulity about, and often contempt for, the views of their political opponents. But they also allow those users to avoid the hard work of thinking up their own descriptions of events or people or ideas. And they're parasitic: They suck all their nourishment from the host words, contributing nothing of their own. Fisk's sneer quotes--he's not as scary as he'd like to be--allow him to express his revulsion at the very notion of describing what's happening in Iraq as "liberation," but relieve him of the obligation to say just what he thinks is happening in that city. Is it (as many left-wing critics have said) a new form of colonization? Ah, but that is a claim too easily refuted, unless one wishes to stretch the term beyond all historical recognition. Is it occupation? But if so, we would need to have a conversation about the purposes of occupation, some of which can be better than others. This is all too complicated; it's so much simpler to wheel out the trusty old inverted commas.

(I have a suspicion also that many journalists, even those most addicted to the scare quote, would say that it's their job merely to report, to describe--leave it to the editorialists and news analysts to offer positive explanations. But it is surely a curious understanding of reporting that allows the journalist merely, and just typographically, to cast doubt on the claims of others, without offering any reasons for that doubt or any alternatives to those claims.)

Read the whole thing, then go visit and get caught up on life at the other end of the Turner Turnpike.

For all that I write about Tulsa, the number one search phrase that leads to is "howie carr", the Boston Herald columnist I saluted some time ago. And here's what I wrote about his February column about John Kerry's DYKWIA problem.


A friend who lived in Boston in '88 (and gave me a gift mail subscription to the Herald during that presidential campaign) is cleaning house and dropped off a few political newspaper clippings from yesteryear. I thought I might scan a few of the most interesting and post them here. The first one up is this Howie Carr column from Friday, October 21, 1988, "Endorsement gives Pee Wee the Willies". Here's how it starts:

How 'bout that Willie Horton guy?

Just when it looks like Pee Wee is taking the pipe, Willie gets a phone call from the Gannett News Service.

Does Willie say, "Tell them to call back in 20 to life"?

Does Willie say, "I'm too busy making license plates"?

No, Willie Horton takes the call and makes it clear where the murderer-rapist vote is going this year.

"Obviously, I am for Dukakis."

Obviously. Nice touch, Willie. Everyone reading that story in USA Today got a big kick out of that. Obviously.

Carr goes on to suggest several other Massachusetts criminals and disgraced government officials who would gladly give their endorsements to Dukakis for his kind treatment of them.

And here's a link to a recent column by Republican media consultant Jay Bryant reflecting on the Willie Horton furlough issue, its impact on the '88 campaign and lessons to be learned from it for 2004.

If the Whirled had a columnist as funny and hard-hitting as Howie Carr, the paper might actually be worth reading.

Oh, and here's a recent Howie Carr column on the Massachusetts Supreme Court.

And speaking of former Lieutenant Governor Cowboy Pink Williams, have you ever wondered where the Cowboy Pink Williams Memorial Bridge is located? How about the Cliff Bogle Memorial Highway or the Bill Bright Bypass? The answers are online, at ODOT's website!

(Shouldn't the Bill Bright Bypass feature the Four Spiritual Laws, presented on sequential signs, Burma Shave-style?)

Here's another exciting feature for us highway and map nerds: Links presenting the history of changes to state and US Highway designations through the years. For example: US 66, State Highway 51, US 62, and US 169.

When you see quotation marks around a single word or short phrase in a news story, what comes to mind? It's a signal that the writer of the story doesn't buy the phrase or word being used, and she doesn't want you to buy it either. It sends the reader a signal that they should think something is fishy.

(I can't think about this use of quotation marks without thinking of a Saturday Night Live character called Bennett Brauer -- played by Chris Farley -- who punctuated his remarks by making quote marks with his fingers. 'Well, maybe I'm not "the norm". I'm not "camera friendly". ')

Here's a bit from a good summary of the semantics of this use of quotation marks:

The use of quotation marks can be extended to cases which are not exactly direct quotations. Here is an example:
Linguists sometimes employ a technique they call "inverted reconstruction".

The phrase in quote marks is not a quotation from anyone in particular, but merely a term which is used by some people ‹ in this case, linguists. What the writer is doing here is distancing himself from the term in quotes. That is, he's saying "Look, that's what they call it. I'm not responsible for this term." In this case, there is no suggestion that the writer disapproves of the phrase in quotes, but very often there is a suggestion of disapproval:

The Institute for Personal Knowledge is now offering a course in "self-awareness exercises".

Once again, the writer's quotes mean "this is their term, not mine", but this time there is definitely a hint of a sneer: the writer is implying that, although the Institute may call their course "self-awareness exercises", what they're really offering to do is to take your money in exchange for a lot of hot air.

Quotation marks used in this way are informally called scare quotes. Scare quotes are quotation marks placed around a word or phrase from which you, the writer, wish to distance yourself because you consider that word or phrase to be odd or inappropriate for some reason. Possibly you regard it as too colloquial for formal writing; possibly you think it's unfamiliar or mysterious; possibly you consider it to be inaccurate or misleading; possibly you believe it's just plain wrong. Quite often scare quotes are used to express irony or sarcasm:

The Serbs are closing in on the "safe haven" of Goražde.

The point here is that the town has been officially declared a safe haven by the UN, whereas in fact, as the quote marks make clear, it is anything but safe.

Reuters and the BBC are renowned for using scare quotes to distance themselves from Western Civilization's War against Islamist Terrorism -- this for example was a BBC web headline when Saddam Hussein's sons were killed:

U.S. celebrates 'good' Iraq news

Here in Tulsa we saw extensive use of scare quotes in coverage of the District 4 City Council. For some unexplained reason, the Whirled insisted on referring to the Republican nominee as Jason "Eric" Gomez. The man's full name is, in fact, Jason Eric Gomez. This is how he is listed in voter registration records. But like a lot of people (including my dad), he is known by his middle name. There is nothing shifty or unusual about this practice, but the scare quotes suggest that an alias is being used, or perhaps he is some sort of eccentric or "colorful character", like Virginia "Blue Jeans" Jenner or Cowboy "Pink" Williams.

When I first met him, he was introduced to me as Eric Gomez, and I only recently learned that Eric was not his first name. He uses his middle name in his business, on his website (, on his campaign signs, and on the ballot. At one point I wondered if the Whirled was using that punctuation because that was the way Eric's name was to appear on the ballot. But the name on the ballot was Eric Gomez. (By the way, when you file for office, you get to pick how your name appears. Frequent candidate Virginia Jenner added "Blue Jeans" as her middle name on the ballot in later races, even though she is registered to vote as Dorothea Virginia Jenner. The two times I've run, I opted for my full first name, plus middle initial to differentiate myself from most of the other Michael Bateses in town, although I could have used Mike Bates.)

Note that the Whirled did not give the same treatment to Gomez's opponent, "Councilor" Thomas Lee "Tom" Baker. I do not know if this "decision" was made by City Hall reporter Pamela Jean "P.J." Lassek, or by "City Editor" Lewis "Wayne" Greene, or perhaps by Editorial Page "Editor" Kenneth W. "Ken" Neal. I just know the "newspaper" wasn't consistent in the application of whatever "style book rule" they used to justify "Jason 'Eric' Gomez."

You may think me silly to believe that this would make a difference in an election, but when a voter doesn't know much about the candidates or their stands on the issues, any minor thing may be enough to tip his decision one way or another. A voter can grasp at anything that would suggest one of the candidates is unreliable or just odd in some way. And in such a close race -- less than one vote per precinct -- it may have made the difference.

Here's an interesting find that popped up in Google: The Tulsa Metro Chamber's political directory and legislative agenda for 2003. It's a bit outdated and there are a few inaccuracies (for example, they show Susan Savage as an elected official -- she's not, Secretary of State is an appointed position), but it lists contact info for the Tulsa area's legislative delegation and local government officials. It also has a list of the names and occupations of its executive committee and board members and lists their legislative goals for last year.

Leave it to the Whirled editorial writers to turn positive news into a chance to invent a City Council argument where none exists, so they can criticize "petty disputes". But then, you have to remember that the Whirled considers any debate of any issue -- no matter how calm and reasoned -- as unnecessary, because the Councilors should unanimously support anything the Whirled proposes. Anyone who dissents from the Whirled's views is unreasonable and contentious.

The proposal to build a 200 foot tall bronze of an Indian and an eagle is an exciting one. For people in the rest of the country and the rest of the world, the mention of Tulsa would no longer draw a blank. "Oh yeah, that's where the big Indian statue is!"

Where it goes is very important, both in terms of visual impact and impact on Tulsa's tourism possibilities. The Council ought to be having this discussion, and making their best cases for their preferred locations.

If the statue is too close to a major through highway, visitors will be satisfied to have a look as they zoom past. "Look, kids, there it is." "Wow, what a big Indian! Can we stop?" "No, we're making great time -- at this rate we'll be in Oklahoma City in time for dinner. " That lets out anything within a mile or so of I-44, I-244, or the Creek Turnpike.

There's also the question of visual impact. It needs to be at the top of a hill, and it shouldn't be too close to anything nearly as tall or taller. That lets out anywhere near downtown. It also would eliminate another proposed location near the KVOO transmitters on old Route 66 in east Tulsa. (And near downtown finding forty acres could be tricky, unless the city takes back land that is already promised to OSU Tulsa. Or else the City condemns a neighborhood.)

The more I think about it, the more sense the proposed Osage County site makes. It's not completely remote, but it requires getting off the main road. The statue would dominate its surroundings, as it should. The location could encourage development to the northwest. It would be visible from Gilcrease Museum, encouraging tourists to visit to that world-class facility. It would boost the botanical garden planned for nearby. It increases the odds that visitors to the statue will stay long enough to spend some money.

Trusting the press


Jay Rosen was the author of the article about the role of journalists in a political campaign, which I linked to in the previous entry. He posted the article on his blog, and there are many interesting comments below it. Here's one from Dan McWiggins that speaks to an experience of cognitive dissonance that will be familiar to many readers of the Tulsa Whirled:

I once received a really stunning insight into press coverage. Someone who had suffered a particularly unpleasant bout of media exposure asked me to think about the following question: How many times had I, watching the press deal with a subject I was intimately familiar with, seen them come even close to getting the story right?

My response, after some thought, was "almost never." The fellow I was talking to then asked me why I would think they would do much better on any other topic. It was a very eye-opening moment for me, especially when I considered that most reporters are seriously left-leaning political partisans and, where politics are concerned, large amounts of power and money are at stake.

I've never trusted the press since. Jayson Blair, Stephen Glass and Andrew Gilligan just drove the point further home.

Instapundit points to an interesting column by Jay Rosen, from the Columbia Journalism Review, outlining how the true job description for a journalist covering an election has changed.

Whenever we re-describe what journalists do new problems arise in what they should be doing -- and perhaps quit doing. New questions of accountability spring up.

My understanding is that in Judge Gillert's decision to void the election, the question about vacant lots who vote didn't really matter. I am told -- haven't confirmed this yet -- that as long as you register where you are domiciled when you first register, you can legally continue to vote there forever.

The crucial issue in this case was the fact that there were 50 more votes cast in the Democrat City Council primary in Precinct 20 than signed the Democrat registration book. In fact the number of votes cast in the Democrat City Council primary equals the number of votes cast in the Republican presidential primary and the Democrat presidential primary minus one. It is reported that some Republicans realized something was amiss and tried to return the City Council ballot but were told to go ahead and vote.

One theory suggests this was an honest mistake on the part of the precinct officials, who may have been confused over talk that this primary was tantamount to a general election, since no Republican was running. You would hope that precinct officials would understand the meaning of the phrase "closed primary". The Presidential Primary on the same day (for the first time) created an odd situation where everyone (except Independents) could vote in one primary, but only one party could vote in the other. I wonder if this happened in many other precincts -- a similar situation could have arisen in Districts 2, 4, 5, 7, and 8 -- all cases where one party had a primary and the other didn't, and in 7 and 8 the primary was like a general in that the winner of the primary would win the seat.

With over 50 invalid votes and a margin of only three, there is no way to know with certainty which candidate would have won if those invalid votes were removed from the pool. So under the law, the election is void, and a rerun of the election will be held with exactly the same candidates on the ballot.

District 3 election voided


This just in: District Judge Tom Gillert has voided the Tulsa City Council District 3 Democratic Primary:


Here's a link to the case report from

We took it back!


Tulsa's voters sent a message today, and let's hope it was loud enough to echo down the corridors of power. Two incumbent councilors who were marked for defeat by the Tulsa Whirled won resounding victories. One challenger came within one vote per precinct of beating a first-term incumbent who was once discussed as a candidate for Mayor. And another challenger -- underfunded, labeled by the elites as a troublemaker -- mopped the floor with a four-term incumbent. We went three out of four in the closely contested races, and given the prevalence of voter irregularities in Oklahoma, the actual result in the fourth race may not be mathematically certain.

Take Back Our City


Election day is finally here. Today is our opportunity to take back our city, to elect people to the Tulsa City Council who will represent the best interests of all the people, not just certain powerful special interests. We can elect councilors who will conduct the people's business publicly, not try to hide what they're up to behind closed doors.

It's going to be a beautiful day today, and you have absolutely no excuse not to vote. If you have some extra time, walk to your polling place and get some fresh air and exercise while you're at it. Get a good look at the natural beauty God has blessed our city with. We have an obligation before God to be stewards of that beauty. We can build our city in a way that either complements and enhances that natural beauty or hides it beneath man-made ugliness.

As we saw in the primary, one vote really can make a difference.

Elaine Dodd, chairman of the Tulsa County Democrat Party, sends along an amusing little note:

There are many Tulsans, both Democrat and Republican, who believe that our City Council could be doing a better job representing our neighborhoods and the needs of our residents. However, it is troublesome to me that you only recommend four Republican men to be those change agents. There are Democrat challengers to Republican incumbents (including a woman!) who offer themselves to public service on the City Council and who if elected, would be substantial agents of change and sensitive to the frustrations many citizens have had over the past two years with your four male Republicans being part of business as usual.

Dear Elaine,

I'm amused by your claim that my "four male Republicans" -- the candidates I'm endorsing in the four City Council races which are seriously contested -- have been part of business as usual over the past two years. When you look at the facts, I think you'll agree that if the voters follow my endorsements, they would keep two substantial agents of change on the Council and would replace two obstructionists with real change agents.

The opponents of the four candidates I recommended -- your four Democrats in 2, 4, 5, and 6 -- were all endorsed by the Tulsa Whirled. Do you think the Whirled would endorse anyone who would be an effective agent for change?

At least three of your four Democrats have acknowledged taking campaign money from individuals connected with F&M Bank. Tom Baker and Art Justis received large contributions from those sources. Darla Hall said she received $1,000 from F&M officials after the reporting deadline. (Has Andy Phillips received any money from individuals connected with F&M? Has Darla Hall received any more from those sources?) Do you think these donors would give money to people who will work actively for fair treatment for homeowners?

Arcade games from Big Idea


Big Idea, the makers of two hit video kids series -- Veggie Tales and 3-2-1 Penguins -- has a great selection of free arcade games online.

No fees, no registration required, no popups. The games use Java and Shockwave, so you may need to install plugins for your browser.

Although we have a big collection of Veggie Tales videos, I hadn't known about this site until I saw a link on National Review Online's "The Corner" to this game, which involves using a slingshot to launch someone into a spaceship. Planets form obstacles and also exert gravitational influence on the flight path. You can set up some interesting orbits, which make pretty Spirograph-like designs and gain you extra points. There's a new version of the same concept, called "Doom Funnel Chasers", with some more challenging layouts. In this one, you have to fling a ball of duck tape into a sort of black home.

Other favorites include an enhanced version of Breakout, and Jerry's Cheeseburger Madness, which will look familiar to 1980s arcade fans.

It is all kid-friendly and kid-safe, but lots of fun for grownups too. Check it out.

Today was the fifth opportunity for the Tulsa Whirled to print a story listing contributors to City Council candidates, and the fifth day the Whirled took a pass. I had the information from the pre-general election ethics filing Monday night, and had it up on this site early Tuesday morning.

If you want to see who gave what to the candidates for Tulsa City Council, click here.

For my analysis, click here. And this entry covers Randy Sullivan's contribution report.

In years gone by, the Whirled would publish a summary of campaign finance reports the day after they were due, but for some reason this year they haven't bothered. The point of the deadline (which was Monday) in the ethics law is to give the media time to publicize the list of contributors and to allow voters to consider this information as they go to vote.

The Whirled never published a story on campaign contributions prior to the primary, and it looks like they may not bother publishing one prior to the general election either. After reading the above entries, reading this one might tie it all together for you.

Remembering Abigail


Today is the anniversary of a suicide bombing of a city bus in Haifa, Israel, which took the life of 16 innocent people, including Abigail Litle, the 14 year old daughter of Philip and Heidi Litle, college friends of mine. In memory of her, I invite you to read an article I wrote shortly after the bombing, and an article by her dad, written a month after the attack, about Abigail's triumphant faith in Jesus.

Remembering Abigail, a victim of hate

Remembering Abigail, a victor in faith

In a recent letter to friends and family, Phil told us how Abigail's school planned to remember her and a classmate who died in the attack:

Heidi has focused for the past weeks on the upcoming one-year remembrance of Abigail's death. The Jr. High and grade school have begun a month emphasizing the value of human life. During the course of the next month in the Hebrew calendar they intend to discuss subjects such as how to cross the street with care and why not to use drugs. They will mark the anniversary of the bombing on the first of Adar (February 23rd) with a memorial ceremony and a march to the site of the bombing. During this month the school has planned a hike in memory of Yuval -- Abigail's classmate who was killed -- and an exhibition of Abigail's art at the school.

Heidi has been very involved with the administration in setting up this program, particularly in helping select and frame Abigail's work. The school has taken the song The Power of a Moment by Chris Rice as the theme of the exhibition. The page from Abigail's calendar on which she drew two clouds kissing as they partially cover the sun while rain falls, watering a tree and which included her paraphrase of Chris's song, will be the centerpeice of the exhibition. The school has translated the song into Hebrew. This translation will be displayed along side her drawing. During the course of the month, the students will study the text of song in their literature classes.

While holidays and days of remembrance follow the Hebrew calendar, most people here think in terms of the Gregorian calendar. So on March 5th we will hold a one year memorial service at the grave side. Children from school and officials from the city as well as members of our local congregation are planning to attend. Our children want to be involved in doing something to remember their sister. We've talked some about what we want the time to include, but there is still much to think about -- with a lot of that falling on Heidi to work through.

To read more about Abigail:

Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs has a page about Abigail.

Here is an account of her faith and how it was expressed through her funeral.

Here is a Jerusalem Post story about the bombing, with links to other stories.

And here (scroll down toward the bottom) is an editorial by Israel's consul in the Midwest US:

Abigail Litle, also an American citizen, who died at 14. She was one of 17 innocent civilians killed (and 53 injured) by a homicide bomber while riding home from school on a Haifa bus March 5th. Litle, like so many of the 772 innocent Israeli victims of Palestinian terrorism and violence, was simply involved in a normal activity in her daily life-coming home from school. She was not aware that her life was at risk simply because she was riding a bus with her classmates. The bomber alone made the decision that it was her time to die a horrible death.

Litle, the daughter of the representative of the Baptist Church in Israel, had lived in Israel since infancy. She lived in Haifa, a town with a large Arab population. Abigail had been part of the Children Teaching Children program at the Jewish-Arab Center for Peace at Givat Haviva since last September - a program that teaches pluralism, tolerance and coexistence. They and their classmates were preparing for the upcoming meeting with Arab youth from a neighboring town.

Abigail personified the promise of a future where Jews and Arabs could coexist peacefully. She worked for dialogue and understanding between Christians, Jews and Muslims. She truly embodied a spirit that anyone seriously concerned with achieving a just peace in the Middle East, would do well to emulate.

Keep the Litles in your prayers, and pray for real peace (not just a phony "peace process") for Israel.

Too tired to write tonight, although I've got a lot on my mind. (I've noticed a pattern recently: certain public officials seem to be confusing the personal with the political, and that's affecting they way they handle issues and elections -- in a bad way. I want to write about that.)

This weekend is the last big push before election day, and if you can spare even an hour, there are several candidates worth your support. I listed phone numbers and websites at the end of a previous entry. Call and offer your help this weekend!

In an earlier entry, I called attention to the large amounts of campaign cash given to certain incumbent councilors by donors affiliated with F&M Bank.

I have in front of me a page from the 2001 annual report listing the Board of Directors and Officers of F&M Bancorporation, which is the sole owner of The F&M Bank & Trust Company. In light of this information, I've revised the F&M-related totals on my analysis of campaign contributions.

Because this is from two years ago, some names will have changed. For example, John Conine joined the board in 2002. I am pursuing up-to-date information and will update this entry accordingly when it comes in.

The information below is exactly as it appears in the report, and in the same order. So as not to crowd the home page, I've put some of the info in the extended entry. A * after a name indicates advisory director. The committees are:

1 Director, F&M Bancorporation
2 Executive Committee
3 Audit Committee
4 Trust Committee
5 Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) Committee

Here are the members of the Board as of the date of this report.

Robert E. Lorton, Chairman & Publisher, World Publishing Co.; Chairman, F&M Bancorporation; Chairman, The F&M Bank & Trust Company. Committees: 1, 2

Anthony B. Davis, Vice Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, F&M Bancorporation; Vice Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, The F&M Bank & Trust Company. Committees: 1, 2

Robert R. Gilbert III, President, F&M Bancorporation; President and Chief Operating Officer, The F&M Bank & Trust Company. Committees: 1, 2

Brenda B. Davis, Investments. Committees: 1, 2

Eric L. Davis, Senior Vice President, Commercial Lending, The F&M Bank & Trust Company. Committees: 1, 2

His rage we can endure


I told you about the "pre-meeting" in the previous entry, and I mentioned that there were some fireworks shortly after.

The neighborhood folks who came for the pre-meeting hoped to speak briefly to Councilor Sam Roop to ask for his support on the Council Consensus that was on the agenda. We were waiting in the Council lobby right after the pre-meeting. I asked a Council staffer if he was in his office and if I could speak with him. She checked -- he was not in his office. She said he's around here somewhere. I asked if he might still be in the library where the pre-meeting was held, and started in that direction. No one seemed to object.

As I approached the door of the library, which is in the northeast corner of the 2nd Floor, I heard a voice coming from the office of a council staffer as I passed:

"Where the hell do you think you're going?"

I turned to reply. I wasn't bothered by the harsh language -- I assumed the comment was made in jest.

"I'm looking for Councilor Roop."

The reply shocked me:

"Get the hell out of here! Get the hell out of here! I hate you!"

And he yelled some other stuff.

And then he yelled, "You kitty-cat!"

Except he didn't say "kitty-cat".

I kept hearing about something called a "pre-meeting". Every week before the Tulsa City Council's televised 6 p.m. regular meeting, they hold a 5 p.m. pre-meeting in the Council library, an area not generally open to the public. The purpose is to go over the agenda, and the chairman indicates which routine items he plans to combine, and which items will be pulled -- maybe because the relevant councilor, official, or citizen can't be at the meeting.

You will not see any mention of the pre-meeting on the Council website (feel free to correct me if I am wrong, but I couldn't find it). Because a quorum of the Council is present they must post an agenda publicly, which they do post at City Hall, but they don't post it on the website. It's clear that they don't expect members of the public to be in attendance.

Many legislative bodies handle this kind of business at the beginning of the regular meeting. A proposed agenda is presented to the body, amendments may be proposed, and the agenda is approved. There's no reason this couldn't be handled in a few minutes at the beginning of the televised regular meeting.

So why have a pre-meeting? And why schedule it a full hour before the regular meeting? I'm told that many of these pre-meetings are quite long, sometimes barely leaving time for councilors to get over to the chamber for the start of the regular meeting. What are they talking about all that time? Are they going beyond technical agenda issues and delving into the substance of issues? These meetings are not recorded and are not publicized.

I decided to find out. With a contentious issue on the agenda, it could be an interesting pre-meeting. So I went down to the City Council offices with a few friends and a digital video camera.

I sent this out to a neighborhood mailing list and thought you all would be interested in it too:

Tonight at their regular 6:00 pm meeting, the Tulsa City Council will again take up a Council Consensus expressing support for retaining and strengthening the protest provisions of the zoning code. Under Title 42, Section 1703(E), a supermajority of seven yes votes is required for a zoning change if the owners of 50% of the land within 300 feet of the affected area, or 20% of the affected area itself. These provisions are an important protection for property owners against arbitrary zoning changes, such as a blanket upzoning or commercial and industrial encroachment into our neighborhoods. This supermajority requirement has been part of state law since the 1920s, and part of Tulsa's zoning code for over 30 years. This is one little bit of leverage that homeowners have, and certain forces are working hard to take even that away from us. (More about that below.)

It is important that we get the City Council on record in support of this protection before next Tuesday's election. If a councilor is unwilling to express support for this protection before the election, he certainly won't push for it once the political pressure is gone. We need to know, before we go to the polls on Tuesday, whether these councilors support keeping this protection in place or sweeping it away. We have some leverage right now that will disappear after next Tuesday. I urge you to attend tonight's meeting, or at least contact councilors and urge their support.

Also, it was mentioned in last week's Council meeting that the City Attorney's office has issued a confidential memo that reportedly proposes an alternative consensus on this issue. Because of its confidential nature, understandably no one will go on record as to its contents. My guess, based on how the City Attorney's office has dealt with this issue so far, is that their proposal would not be in the best interests of neighborhoods. We need to urge our councilors to reject any secret consensus and to commit openly to protecting the supermajority requirement.

Notes from the candidate forum


I was one of about 30 people that assembled Monday night at Fellowship Congregational Church to hear 10 of the 12 candidates at a League of Women Voters forum. If you had been there, you would have gained some insights into the candidates, and it grieved me to think that for most voters, their only knowledge of this event would be mediated by the Tulsa Whirled. Tami Marler of KOTV News was the moderator, so I'm surprised that no TV cameras were there. I wonder if the League attempted to get one of the talk radio stations to broadcast this.

I missed the first half of the program, but several people told me I didn't miss a thing -- about as substantive as the Q&A at a beauty pageant. The second half of the program featured questions and answers from the audience -- one set of questions about public safety, another group about zoning and land use. The zoning questions -- about the council's power to confirm planning commission appointments, about campaign contributions from planning commissioners, about strip clubs, and about the protest process -- were very revealing.

Whirled reporter P. J. Lassek probably owes me lunch, because a question I submitted gave her a lead for her story in Tuesday's paper. She did a nice job of selecting verbs and modifiers to make Chris Medlock's mild, careful comments look radical and contentious, which I believe is required by the Whirled's stylebook.

I asked the candidates a two-part question: Of the current members of the TMAPC, whose reappointment would you support and whose would you oppose? And have you received any financial contributions from members of the TMAPC?

Blog Oklahoma web ring


A web ring is a collection of related sites arranged to allow you to browse through all of them and end up back where you started. Last July, the Blog Oklahoma web ring was started -- I found out about it tonight through It is, as you might expect, a collection of blogs by and about Oklahomans. I've submitted for membership, and have added something to the sidebar (look along the right side and scroll down) to allow you to navigate the webring. The punctuation marks allow you to, respectively, visit the previous site, list the previous five sites, go to a random site in the ring, go to the webring home, list all the sites, view statistics, list the next five sites, or go to the next site in the ring.

Just below that you'll find my "blogroll" -- a list of weblogs I've visited and found interesting -- many of those on the blogroll are Oklahomans as well.

As always, please realize that I cannot monitor and do not endorse all the content on these sites. While I try to be family-friendly, many bloggers assume an adults-only audience and may refer to topics or use language inappropriate for children. These sites still have material that is often thought-provoking, humorous, or well-written. I trust grownups to be able to be at least as discriminating as a cow, able to eat the grass but spit out the sticks. Still, if it gets to the point that the bad outweighs the good in a site I link, I will drop it off my list. Let me know if you follow a link and find that to be the case.

I've updated the full list of City Council candidates, their major contributors, and their total spending and fundraising. Click here to see the raw details, and you can scroll through nearby entries for analysis.

Randy Sullivan files late


So I'm in Midtown running some errands, and I decide to stop by the City Clerk's office to pick up the handful of C-1 ethics filings that weren't filed on time before the City Council primary. It takes a while, because nearly everyone in the office is sick -- they're down to one employee in the main office and a temp in the ground floor office. The ground floor office tells me they can help me up on the 9th floor, and just as we're going through the primary filings looking for the ones I want, in walks Randy Sullivan, papers in hand. "How's it goin'?", I ask. He looks a bit like a deer caught in the headlights. As he turns in his papers, I say, "I'll bet that's the one we're missing." I can see the gear (singular) turning in his mind, he settles on a sarcastic response. "This'll give you and Michael DelGiorno something to talk about. You be sure and make a big deal about this tomorrow morning. You be sure Michael makes a big deal out of this." I assure him that we will, if it's got something newsworthy in it.

And it does: Like several of his colleagues, Randy Sullivan appears to have been well-rewarded for carrying the water for F&M Bank in their controversial rezoning case at 71st & Harvard. You can see the details on the entry with each candidate's contributors and totals, which I've updated with his report and the late primary reports filed by Todd Huston and Tom Baker.

Sullivan received $7,250 in contributions, more than half of everything he raised and spent, from board members and officers of F&M Bank and Trust: Jay Helm, Anthony Davis, Eric Davis, John Conine, and Rob Gilbert. Another $1,500 comes from developers' PACs. And he was clever enough to delay all of his gifts and expenditures until after the deadline for the pre-primary ethics filing, so that none of this would be known to the voters before they went to the polls on February 3rd.

Sullivan received the biggest chunk of donations from people connected with F&M Bank, topping David Patrick at $7,000, Tom Baker at $1,000, Art Justis at $2,500. Since Justis and Baker had a general election race, I suspect they are getting the bulk of their chunks after the deadline for ethics reporting for the general.

And Joe Westervelt, the chairman of the planning commission (TMAPC) gave Sullivan $300. Justis, Patrick, and Baker each got $500 from Westervelt, Christiansen got $300. I'm thinking that the amount had to do with how vulnerable to defeat Westervelt perceived each of them to be.

More thoughts on campaign contributions and how they influence councilors later, but here's one to start with: Raising money for a city council campaign is hard and unpleasant work, and you're grateful for everything you get, but especially grateful for big checks that reduce the amount of time you have to spend on fundraising. You're naturally going to want to do everything you can for those who help you out, especially if they provide half your campaign funds in one bundle of contributions.

Council candidates on KFAQ


District 2 candidates Chris Medlock and Darla Hall will be on KFAQ 1170 with Michael DelGiorno this morning -- Medlock at 7:10 and Hall at 8:10.

Tentatively, KFAQ plans to have the District 4 candidates on Thursday, District 5 on Friday, and District 6 on Monday, head-to-head, in the 7 o'clock hour. (Hall said she had a scheduling conflict, so she couldn't be present for a head-to-head discussion this morning.)

Tell all your friends to tune in and hear these candidates before they make their choice.

All the names and numbers from the campaign finance reports are in the previous entry.

UPDATE: I had asked about the identity of John Conine, a major donor to several candidates. A reader sends along a news clip about John Conine from the July 14, 2002, edition of the Tulsa Whirled, page E2:

F&M Bank & Trust Co. has announced the appointment of John Conine to its board of directors. Conine is president of JFC Management and JFC Automotive Rental Group.

So the F&M-related numbers below have been adjusted appropriately.

Some observations and analysis:

Names connected with F&M Bank pop up for certain incumbents: Tom Baker got $1,000 combined from Eric Davis and John Conine. Art Justis got $2,500 combined from Eric Davis, Anthony Davis, and Conine. And David Patrick hit the jackpot: a combined $7,300 from Jay Helm, Eric Davis, Anthony Davis, John Conine, and Frank Murphy III: all board members of F&M Bancorporation, the holding company for The F&M Bank & Trust Company. (Robert E. Lorton, Chairman and Publisher of the World Publishing Co. -- which publishes the Tulsa Whirled -- is also Chairman of F&M Bancorporation and the F&M Bank & Trust Company.) The connection between these donations is underlined by the fact that they were all received on the same day, January 27, according to the financial reports for Patrick and Justis. (Baker's report fails to list "Date Accepted" for his contributions.)

UPDATE: F&M Bancorporation board members were even more generous to Randy Sullivan, giving him $7,550, more than half of his campaign funds.

Joe Westervelt, a developer and the contentious chairman of the TMAPC, who rudely dismissed the property owners who appeared at last Wednesday's hearing on the zoning protest process, spread some money around. Who are his favorite councilors? He gave $500 to David Patrick, $500 to Tom Baker, and $500 to Art Justis. Interesting: He contributed to three of the four councilors who voted to cut off the homeowners who tried to present their case to the Council last October 30, so he leans toward councilors who like to deny homeowners a fair hearing. He likes Bill Christiansen, too, but not as much, I guess because he only gave Bill $300. (UPDATE: Westervelt also gave Randy Sullivan $300.)

And who are the Radleys? Two Radley couples gave money to Tom Baker, listing Claremore addresses, and Steve Radley (same name as a Baker donor) gave money to Justis, but lists an address of 12217 E Admiral Place, which I believe is the location of a mobile home sales business. Justis also received money the same day from Serenity Homes, right next door at 12221 E Admiral Place, and the Oklahoma Manufactured Housing PAC. Jerald Summers also gave $500 to Justis that day -- is there a connection? And why are people with an interest in mobile homes giving to City Council candidates?

If you've got answers, e-mail me at blog at batesline dot com.

It's striking how many candidates lent themselves money. I count myself blessed and grateful that in my 2002 campaign my friends, family, fellow MIT alumni, and fellow neighborhood activists provided me with about $17,000, and I didn't have to borrow any money. To be sure, I had to forego some pay, and I had personal expenses that I wouldn't have ordinarily incurred (meals out, especially), but my family didn't bear the financial burden of the campaign.

You are reading it here first, thanks to an intrepid volunteer researcher who gathered the information from the City Clerk's office today. Here is a summary of contributions given to the City Council candidates. The reports were due today. In the summary you will see the list of people who have contributed more than $200 dollars in the course of the campaign, followed by cumulative contributions and expenditures. The numbers below cover the entire campaign, including the pre-primary ethics filing and the pre-general filing. Some candidates have had no large contributions at all. For the individual contributions, I list the amounts followed by the names of contributors who have given those amounts. Details are below; analysis will be in a later entry.

UPDATE: Lists of contributors reformatted for ease of reading.

Welfare for the rich


Over on Reason magazine's website, John Stossel of ABC lists a number of ways middle and lower class taxpayers are funding welfare for the comfortable.

Ronald Reagan memorably complained about "welfare queens," but he never told us that the biggest welfare queens are the already wealthy. Their lobbyists fawn over politicians, giving them little bits of money -- campaign contributions, plane trips, dinners, golf outings -- in exchange for huge chunks of taxpayers’ money. Millionaires who own your favorite sports teams get subsidies, as do millionaire farmers, corporations, and well-connected plutocrats of every variety. Even successful, wealthy TV journalists.

That’s right, I got some of your money too.

In 1980 I built a wonderful beach house. Four bedrooms -- every room with a view of the Atlantic Ocean.

It was an absurd place to build, right on the edge of the ocean. All that stood between my house and ruin was a hundred feet of sand. My father told me: "Don’t do it; it’s too risky. No one should build so close to an ocean."

But I built anyway.

Why? As my eager-for-the-business architect said, "Why not? If the ocean destroys your house, the government will pay for a new one."

What? Why would the government do that? Why would it encourage people to build in such risky places? That would be insane.

Stossel goes on to cover farm subsidies and eminent domain abuse, including the famous case in Atlantic City involving a widow trying to keep her home against Donald Trump, who was trying to use city government to take it from her. It's worth reading. (Hat tip to Clayton Cramer for the link.)

We have a scrap paper drawer, a place where our two kids can freely grab paper to draw on or cut up. Leftover handouts, computer printouts that we no longer need, flyers, computer source code listings -- as long as it's blank on one side, it's fair game for artwork.

Sometime ago I added to the drawer leftover flyers from my unopposed run for Republican State Committeeman last year. Today, Katherine, my three-and-a-half year old, grabbed one of those sheets, which displayed my photo and logo (adapted from my council campaign yard signs) at the top of the page.

When she saw my picture, she grinned at my wife and said, "I didn't think Daddy would be on a piece of paper!" Make the Whirled, the TV, or the web, no big deal, but get your face on a piece of drawing paper and you're a star in a three year old's eyes. It's almost like having my own coloring book. A bit later, when I was in the room, my wife asked her, "Why are you happy?" She looked over at me and said, "There are two of him, over there and on the piece of paper."

In other family news, Joseph had his first coach-pitch baseball practice today. He has been looking forward to graduating from T-ball since last season ended. And Katherine climbed the big "mountain" on the play equipment at Joe's school all by herself. Over the weekend, Joe, my wife, and I worked on a poster for the church missions conference about our friends the Gateleys, who are church planters in Japan. And Wednesday Joe will be in a class play, as one of the narrators of "The Little Red Hen".

Candidate forum tonight


The League of Women Voters is sponsoring a candidate forum for the Tulsa City Council general election, tonight from 5:30 to 7:00 at Fellowship Congregational Church, 2900 S. Harvard Ave. This will be a great opportunity to hear all of the candidates speak about the issues.

District 6: For Jim Mautino


If Tulsans want to take back our city, one of the most important opportunities is in District 6. East Tulsans have the chance to get rid of an arrogant incumbent who is a tool of the city establishment and bring in a man who will represent their best interests at City Hall.

Jim Mautino, the Republican nominee, is by far the best choice for the District 6 seat. Jim has been a tireless advocate for his part of town, working on zoning and planning issues to protect property values and the quality of life. Jim has persisted and more often than not prevailed because he knows the rules and does his homework, and he won't give up without a fight.

Jim retired a couple of years ago after nearly 40 years with American Airlines, and he's lived all that time and more at his house in Tower Heights neighborhood, with his wife of 50 years, Bonnie.

Fellow Tulsans, in just eight days we have the opportunity to determine whether our city government will be run for the benefit of just a few favored interests, or for the benefit of all of Tulsa's citizens. There are four key council races (two others will be landslides for the dominant party in those districts). Who wins these races will determine the direction of the city for the next two years. If we have five councilors willing to stand up for ordinary Tulsans, five councilors willing to hold city bureaucrats accountable, five councilors willing to stand up for what's right, even when the Whirled and the Chamber Pots and the developers' lobby threatens and abuses them, our city will be able to move forward.

What if we stay home a week from Tuesday? What if we decide we can't make a difference? If the good guys lose and the bad guys win, especially by a large margin, it will embolden the bad guys to abuse the system for their own benefit.

A couple of incidents at last Thursday's Council meeting illustrate why we need change:

The Council was supposed to deal with an important zoning issue in east Tulsa -- the final plat for a zoning change involving the concrete plant on 11th Street east of 129th East Avenue. This concrete plant had, under previous ownership, illegally expanded operations into a residentially zoned area, and they sought a zoning change to bring their operations into compliance. This case strikes at the concern that many east Tulsans have: Will the green, semi-rural atmosphere that attracted them to east Tulsa be replaced by heavy industrial development? And will new development be required to obey the law, or will the rest of the city treat east Tulsa as a dumping ground?

Jim Mautino, a 40-year resident of the area and a long-time neighborhood leader, has been following this issue closely for years, and it was thanks to his efforts that the batch plant was pressured into bringing its operations into compliance. Every Thursday, for the last seven weeks, Jim Mautino has seen the item on the agenda, and has come down to the Council meeting to address the Council on this issue. And every Thursday, the item is pulled at the last minute at the urging of Councilor Art Justis, who doesn't want the issue to come up before the city elections. Did I mention that Jim Mautino is the Republican nominee for District 6? I'm told that Justis thinks it's hilarious, how he can manipulate the system to inconvenience Jim Mautino and delay a decision until after the voters make their choice. That kind of contempt cannot be allowed to go unanswered.

Here's another thing from last Thursday night. Several of us attended to urge the Council to adopt a "consensus" that they support retention and strengthening of the zoning protest process. Homeowners were promised that this issue would be addressed before the Council primary. The Council directed the TMAPC to make a recommendation on the issue by January 20, and to produce as soon as possible a document explaining the current process, so that it would be well-defined for the next group of property owners to encounter this issue. In both cases the TMAPC has been sitting on its hands. I told you what happened on Wednesday when Chairman Joe Westervelt, the angry face of the development industry in our city, abruptly dropped the item from the agenda, then turned his back on the citizens who had gathered to express their views.

To their great credit, Councilors Bill Christiansen and Chris Medlock are holding the TMAPC's feet to the fire on this issue. They put the item on the agenda, to keep it in front of the Council and to keep the heat on INCOG to do the job they promised to do. The pressure did get INCOG to produce a draft of the protest petition process document, after months of inaction.

So how did their fellow councilors respond? Tom Baker, retired bureaucrat, scolded his colleagues for criticizing and questioning the motives of public employees in a public forum. (I didn't hear anyone question motives; that's his spin.) He said that it sets a bad example, and the public might treat public employees badly if they see their Councilors asking tough questions. So Tom Baker isn't bothered when public employees and commission members mistreat the taxpayers. He doesn't care a bit about accountability. He needs to be removed by the voters next Tuesday. Randy Sullivan, who, alas, was reelected in the primary, joined Baker in denouncing any tough questions directed at the actions of the bureaucrats or the planning commission members. Baker and Sullivan aren't watchdogs; they're lapdogs.

If we want responsive, representative government, we're going to have to act next Tuesday. Better yet, start early, and volunteer this final week to help one of the good guys with time, money, or both. Here's the contact info for the candidates who need and deserve your help:

Chris Medlock, District 2,, or call him at 496-3997.

Eric Gomez, District 4,, or call him at 378-0992.

Sam Roop, District 5 (no website, but call him at 665-1869).

Jim Mautino, District 6,, or call him at 437-2642.

We need these men on the City Council. They will work for us. Let's take back our city on March 9th!

About this Archive

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

February 2004 is the previous archive.

April 2004 is the next archive.

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