October 2004 Archives

Voting in Ukraine

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Blog de Connard is blogging the Ukraine presidential election and has photos of the voting process (start here and go on to later entries) and passes on an AP report of an exit poll giving reform candidate Yushchenko an 8 point lead, but not a clear majority, which would mean a runoff in three weeks.

(Hat tip to TulipGirl.)

Keep praying for Ukraine.

Reporting at The Command Post

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manthepost.jpgI've volunteered to report on Oklahoma's election results for The Command Post 2004 Presidential Election blog. Bloggers from all 50 states and around the world will be posting as results come in on election night. Unlike many blogs, the content on The Command Post is intended to be "just the facts" -- no commentary. While the mainstream media is just talking about the Presidential race, you'll find a lot of depth on The Command Post -- congressional races, battles for control of state legislatures, important referenda. Expect to read not just who is leading in Florida and Ohio, but which counties the results are coming from and which counties haven't been heard from yet.

I'm planning to focus on the Senate race, the battle for the State Legislature, and the State Questions. You'll find my first entry right here.

Liberal spam

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I've received two e-mail messages tonight on several different addresses -- one trying to connect Tom Coburn with an extremist group, the other containing a Shockwave animation encouraging the reader to visualize a Kerry victory on November 2. Earlier I got spam from disgraced Democrat and former Gov. David Walters encouraging me to support Carson, in which Walters claimed that his progressive policies are why he only won one of his three statewide races.

And so Little Boy Brad Carson's smear campaign continues -- on the radio, on the phones, on TV, and now in e-mail. I know there are "ends justify the means" types in the Republican Party, but they're on the fringes and they have the disrespect of elected party officials and grass-roots volunteers. On the other hand, the "win at all costs" mentality seems to have captured the heart and soul of the Democrat Party.

REVJAB thinks the Democrat Party has all the marks of a cult (hat tip: TulipGirl):

Truth to tell, the contemporary Democratic Party has become a gathering-place for all sorts of conspiracy-theories, esoteric quasi-religious devotees, insurrectionists, and con-men. Consider its cult-like characteristics:

* Blind, amoral devotion to a leader that completely disregards and/or excuses the sexual, financial, and ethical evils of the leader(s).
* An apocalyptic intensity fired by a worldview -- more or less Marxist -- that sees everything as a titanic battle between the forces of Repression (Christianity, constitutionalism, heterosexuality, monogamy, and property-rights) versus the forces of Liberation (them).
* An all-out selling of soul to ends-justify-the-means, operationally married to "ethics" only when and if it has some helpful persuasive PR effect.
* An underlying anti-God-ism, taking various forms -- materialistic atheism on one extreme, and variety popsicles of animism/polytheism/pantheism/gnosticism on the other, with evolutionism as a common bridge between the two groups.

I don't think this is so characteristic of most grassroots Oklahoma Ds, like the folks I met walking for City Councilor Roscoe Turner, but it seems to fit the activists that now dominate the party machinery.

Got first reports today of recall petitions circulating against Tulsa City Councilor Chris Medlock in an east Tulsa neighborhood. Of course, Chris Medlock doesn't represent east Tulsa; his colleague Jim Mautino, also the target of a recall effort, does. The canvassers are going door-to-door and telling people that Medlock wants to sell water to the suburbs for too cheap a rate. (In fact, Medlock is concerned that water rate from suburban water customers is lower than it should be.)

Word is that the recall gang was out Friday recruiting petition canvassers at OSU-Tulsa for $10 an hour. I have also heard that former Tulsa City Councilor John Benjamin, who now lives at 14235 S Toledo Ave in the City of Bixby, south of the river, is boasting that he is organizing the entire effort.

The timing and the cast of characters is interesting. Benjamin is known as a slavish supporter of the Tulsa Metro Chamber bureaucracy. Thursday night, the City Council voted 5-4 in favor of Medlock's Economic Development Commission reforms, rejecting a substitute proposal from the Mayor that would have gutted key reforms. The thrust of the reform effort is to have a City of Tulsa-based committee oversee the City of Tulsa hotel/motel tax dollars which are earmarked for the promotion economic development and attracting conventions and tourists, instead of just signing over the money to the Tulsa Metro Chamber, no strings attached. Sheraton Tulsa General Manager Jon Davidson, chairman of the recall effort, and until very recently vice chairman of the Tulsa Metro Chamber, was spotted in the gallery of the Council meeting during the EDC debate. The day after the EDC vote, the recall plotters are hiring petition circulators and the next day the petitions are out on the street (albeit the wrong street).

Combine all this with Tulsa Metro Chamber chairman Bob Poe's angry phone call to Mayor LaFortune after the Mayor publicly denounced the recall effort, and a picture begins to emerge: The Chamber bureaucracy and the oligarchs who control the Chamber board are out to punish Tulsa's elected officials for daring to hold the Chamber accountable for the $60 million in city tax dollars the organization has received and spent apparently in vain, given the state of Tulsa's economy, which continues to lag behind the national recovery. The Chamber bureaucracy could be a good partner with the city, could understand the need for more accountability, could humbly acknowledge its failure to deliver economic progress, but instead the Chamber Pots are lashing out like cornered rats.

I heard a story recently that illustrates the way the Chamber Pots operate. There's a new group called Young Professionals of Tulsa, whose aims include rediscovering and promoting the "people, places and things that make Tulsa original" -- to that end they're working to raise the money to reopen Nelson's Buffeteria and to revive the Greenwood Jazz Festival. The Tulsa Metro Chamber bureaucrats pushed to make YPT a branch of the Chamber, and when rebuffed, threatened to set up a rival young professionals group and to spread the word that it would be very unwise to join YPT instead of the Chamber's knockoff group.

That insatiable drive to kill anything it can't control is why "Chamber" is a dirty word to Tulsans from every part of the political spectrum, from every part of the city. Apparently that same spirit motivates this Chamber-led attempt to reverse the results of the last city election. They can't even wait a year for the next election. I have hope that the people of Tulsa have the good sense not to be swayed by the Chamber bureaucracy's selfish maneuverings.

NOTE: If you have any reports of recall petitions circulating, e-mail me at blog -at- batesline.com (replace -at- with @). If you can get video or audio or even still photos of the canvassers at work, so much the better.

SoonerPoll.com has Coburn up by 9 points in their latest poll, with big gains in the metro areas.

SoonerPoll.com also conducted polls in 17 competitive State House districts, surveying 300 voters in each for a margin of error of +/- 4.4%. The 17 seats are currently held by 15 Democrats and 2 Republicans. Republicans are leading in 8 seats, Democrats in 9, for a gain of 6 and a majority of 54.

Of the 17, only two show a lead outside the margin of error -- incumbent Democrat Al Lindley in District 93 in Oklahoma City leads by 4.5%, and in Tulsa's District 71 Dan Sullivan leads incumbent Democrat Roy McClain by 6.2%.

The other Tulsa-area seats polled were District 10, where Steve Martin (R) is leading the wife of the incumbent by 2.1%, District 30, where Brian Bingman (R) leads with 2.8%, District 12, where Mark Wofford (R) trails by 1.2%, and District 78, where David Schaffer (R) trails by 2.1%.

Keith Gaddie has some comments on the pollsters who poll Oklahoma over at SoonerPolitics.com.

The other election

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In just a few hours, Ukraine will go to the polls to elect a president. TulipGirl, who lives there, asks us to keep the country and election in our prayers. The republics of the old Soviet Union have great potential but are still suffering from the legacy of 70 years under totalitarian rule, which prevented normal economic development and decimated civil society.

She links to this NRO article by Bruce Bartlett. Bartlett has this spot-on description of the economic disaster that is socialist central planning:

And because of communism, the Ukraine’s economy never developed naturally so as to exploit those industries and businesses most appropriate for its location and resources. Under central planning, production was guided by political whim, with the result that much of the industry located in the Ukraine at independence was inherently unviable in a free market.

There is a reformer in the race, and Ukraine would be blessed to have Viktor Yushchenko as president. Bartlett writes of him:

[As head of the Central Bank], he was one of the few Ukrainians who was trusted by foreign investors. He has a reputation for honesty as well as competence — the former perhaps more important than the latter, given the widespread corruption in the Ukraine. (A new report from Transparency International ranks the Ukraine as one of the most corrupt nations on Earth.)

In December 1999, Yushchenko was named prime minister. By all accounts, he did an excellent job, helping to implement economic and political reforms. This did not endear him to President Kuchma or the oligarchs who have robbed the country blind, so he was sacked in April 2001. Since then, he has been a member of the Ukraine’s parliament, where he has continued to press for reform.

Hmm. Reformer sacked by oligarchs who are running the country for their own enrichment. Sounds like my hometown....

TulipGirl links to a few articles that will give you a sense of what things are like in the run-up to the election. One article reports a plot to have a mob pose as supporters of the reform candidate and create a disturbance to discredit him. There has been violence targeting supporters of Yushchenko. Government agencies have used their enforcement powers to harass opponents of the current president's handpicked successor.

Ukraine has the potential to be a great and prosperous nation, but only if there is an end to corruption. Pray for Ukraine.

UPDATE: TulipGirl has another post up with links to blogs on the Ukraine election, and she links to her husband's comments on the election, in which he says:

Please be in prayer, that the people will make the right choice, and that their choice will be honored.

Will do.

MORE: Ukrainian author Oksana Zabuzhko wondered if free Ukraine has only one week left. She wrote this essay last Sunday -- week's almost up. Worth reading. (Published on Ukraine, Russia, Europe, the US, Oh My!, which was linked by TulipGirl.)

BatesLine's first ad!

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Destiny Travels, a Tulsa-based travel agency, is the first advertiser on BatesLine. Travel agent Brenda Holt will do the legwork to find you the best possible deal on the travel experience you're looking for. Brenda can book hotels, air travel, cruises, rental cars -- anything that you need for your trip. And if something comes up that throws a kink in your plans -- as it often does -- Brenda is there for you to get your trip back on track.

I'm pleased that my first advertiser is a Tulsa business, and one run by folks I know and respect. Brenda and her husband Bobby are active in the Lewis Crest Neighborhood Association; Bobby is the webmaster. (The blog currently features some interesting election trivia.)

Support this site by supporting our advertisers. And buy your own ad -- only $20 for a full month. We've had 33,000 visitors this month -- that's a lot of eyes for just a little bit of money.

State Questions Televised Forum

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A live televised forum about Oklahoma's state questions will be aired on KOKI Fox 23 (Tulsa Cable channel 5) tonight from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. Don't know if it will be aired anywhere in Oklahoma City. If you'd like to attend in person, doors open at 7 p.m. at the Fox 23 studios at 26th and Memorial (where Oertle's used to be, if you're old enough to remember, or where Burlington Coat Factory used to be, if you're not).

Here's how I'm voting:

705: NO
706: NO
707: Still undecided
708: YES
711: YES
712: NO
713: NO
714: YES
715: YES

Jay Cost's Horserace Blog has a fascinating review of the major polling companies and what each says publicly about the methodology used to select a sample and weight results.

Another issue that has come to my attention is the problem of methodological publicity. As a person involved in academia, I cannot tell you how important it is for academics to make their methods available to the public at large. Most academic articles go to great lengths to explain their method before they actually provide you their results. The reason for this is that method matters. Unfortunately, a surprising number of polling firms do not make their methods available.

In addition to my own snooping on the internet, this evening I found an article written by incredible DJ Drummond that gives a superb summary of the methods and openness of each of the major polling firms in this election. I have relied on him for much of this piece. I believe many of these results will surprise you.

Cost summarizes Drummond's findings (click that link for Drummond's detailed and link-rich discussion of the major polling firms) and adds his own perspective. He considers Time, Battleground, and Gallup to be the only reliable polls -- the others weight too heavily toward Democrats or use questionable methodology.

Of course, polls can't tell you who really will turn out on election day, and in a close race it comes down to which side does a better job of getting their voters to the polls. That's why your involvement in Get Out the Vote (GOTV) efforts are crucial. In the Tulsa area, you can stop by Coburn for Senate HQ at 61st and Memorial (between Jason's Deli and Atlantic Sea Grill), the Republican election office at 52nd and Harvard (in front of Mardel's), at the Republican County Headquarters at 15th and Denver, and at 2191 E. Kenosha in Broken Arrow (on 71st west of 193rd East Ave aka County Line Road). They'll be calling through this evening and tomorrow, and tomorrow at 9, they'll be sending out precinct walkers from the 52nd and Harvard location. There will be more going on Monday and Tuesday until the polls close.

It will take a lot of volunteers to counteract all the paid workers the Democrats are using. This is a crucial election, especially for U. S. Senate and state legislature, so jettison your plans and make yourself available to help. It matters.

The bees' knees

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Catching up with Insect Blog, based in Stephens County, Oklahoma, which reported back in September that Africanized honeybees ("killer bees") have been confirmed in five counties in Oklahoma: Tillman, Garvin, Pottawatomie, and two others he doesn't name, in southern and western Oklahoma.

He also has photos of extracting honey from one of his hives, and an item about larvae that wear camouflage made of sawdust or other debris. I saw something like this around our house -- looked like a walking clump of lint, about the size of a sunflower seed kernel. From my perspective, it was about a subtle as the cartoon-standard tiptoeing shrubbery, but I'm sure it fooled the little fellow's predators.

Syndicated columnist Terence Jeffrey writes today about the efforts of House Republicans, led by Tulsa Congressman John Sullivan, to increase immigration enforcement in parts of the country that are far from the nation's borders. Why does it matter? Here's Jeffrey's lead paragraph:

Were terrorists to sneak across our border today and need a place to hide, a rational analysis of U.S. immigration enforcement would point them toward Tulsa, Okla. There is little chance the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) would look for them there.

The U.S. government rarely enforces immigration laws in Tulsa -- even though the government says there are tens of thousands of illegal aliens in Oklahoma. This could begin changing, however, if House Republicans get their way in ongoing negotiations with the Senate over the final language of the intelligence reform bill being crafted in response to the 9/11 Commission report.

The bill would double the number of Border Patrol agents from 10,000 to 20,000, triple the number of ICE investigations officers from 2,000 to 6,000, guarantee at least three new ICE agents in every state, and give the Department of Homeland Security more authority to quickly deport illegals from countries other than Mexico.

Sullivan is pushing specifically for agents for Tulsa, following two incidents in which van loads of illegal aliens had to be released because no ICE agents were available and there was nowhere that the suspected illegals could be detained while waiting for the agents. Although Sullivan had succeeded in tripling the number of ICE agents in Oklahoma from two to six, there still wasn't coverage in Tulsa when the latest incident occurred last month:

Just before midnight on Sept. 21, police from the Tulsa suburb of Catoosa stopped a truck for speeding on Interstate 44. There were 18 people on board, including teen-agers. Only two had valid identification. The others were suspected of being illegal aliens. One was arrested for possessing a substance thought to be cocaine. ICE told the police to let the rest go.

The Tulsa World reported: "Because no holding facility was available, [ICE regional spokesman Carl] Rusnok said, the individuals would have had to stay out on the road for several more hours before an agent could arrive at the scene. 'That's just geography,' he said."

More than three years after Sept. 11, 2001, Tulsa, Okla. -- in the heart of the heartland -- remains beyond the perimeter of U.S. immigration enforcement.

So John Sullivan has a bill that specifically requires the stationing of ICE agents in Tulsa. The ability to control our borders is crucial to our national security. If illegals get beyond our borders -- not tough, given the length of our borders -- we've got to be able to deal with them anywhere in the country we may find them. It's good to know that we have a Congressman in Tulsa who understands the importance of the issue.

A bit more regarding Sam Roop

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Based on some response I've received to my earlier entry, concerning Tulsa City Councilor Sam Roop, his new business, and conflicts of interest, I want to emphasize a couple of things:

  • I am not saying that Sam Roop is guilty of anything or is trying to take unfair advantage of the city.
  • I am saying that there is a built-in conflict of interest between his company's business plan (which sounds like a great service with great potential) and Sam Roop's continued service as a Tulsa City Councilor, for the reasons I stated.
  • In saying that Sam Roop must resign, I am not saying he must resign in disgrace because he's done something wrong.
  • I am saying that in order to pursue this business without a conflict of interest, Sam Roop should follow the lead of many other public officials -- Rodger Randle, David Boren, Bill LaFortune, and Steve Largent are a few names that come to mind -- who left office early to pursue new career opportunities.
  • I am not really interested in what the lawyers have to say about this. I am concerned about divided loyalties tugging a councilor between his own financial interest and the public interest. The letter of the law is beside the point.

To no one's surprise, Little Boy Brad Carson has already broken his pledge to stop his negative attack ads. He's again trying to muddy the waters on the abortion issue with a radio ad saying that Tom Coburn's trying to hide his record on abortion. This ad is a clear desperation move as Carson's campaign slips downward. It is part of what appears to be a nationwide effort to confuse pro-life voters as to who really stands with them on their motivating issue. (See my earlier entries here and here on Chris Matthews' wild claim on "Hardball" that President Bush isn't really pro-life.)

Carson's radio ad has a heartbeat sound in the background, and features a very familiar voice telling a series of what are probably half-truths at best, worded to make it sound like Tom Coburn is out taking a machete to every pregnant woman in Oklahoma. The heartbeat stops after this line: "Tom Coburn is the only person in this race who has personally committed abortions."

The ad is not from an independent organization. It's paid for by Carson for Senate, Inc., and is tagged with Brad Carson's personal approval.

This is low-down and dirty. Brad Carson has a legislative record and a personal commitment to legal abortion. Tom Coburn is an eloquent defender of the unborn and has the legislative record to back up his words. Here is the factsheet from National Right to Life comparing the records of Carson and Coburn on the sanctity of human life. As an obstetrician, Coburn has twice had to perform surgeries to save a pregnant woman's life due to an ectopic pregnancy.

Here's what the Coburn campaign says about the radio ad:

Radio ads with the "approved by Brad Carson" tagline have been running across the state calling Dr. Coburn an abortionist, despite Carson's pledge that voters would hear no more negative attacks from his campaign. Senator Don Nickles has said that Brad Carson is running a campaign of "character assassination" that is "a new low in Oklahoma politics" - and this confirms it.

"Does Brad Carson have any shame at all?" asked Coburn spokesman John Hart. "He lied to all of Oklahoma by saying repeatedly - both in the debate last night and in television ads - that he would end his negative personal attacks. Instead he has found a new low, smearing a family physician with a 100 percent pro-life record in Congress."

Dr. Tom Coburn has been endorsed by Oklahoma Right to Life and National Right to Life in the Senate race, because of his strong pro-life record. He has been a family doctor, helping women and children in Oklahoma, for almost 20 years. In the course of those many years, it was twice necessary to end a pregnancy. In those cases, the mother's heart and lungs had failed, and both mother and child were about to die. So, Dr. Coburn did what he had to do to save the life of the mother.

Dr. Coburn grieved for those lost children, and agonized over their deaths. "Those were heartbreaking, heartbreaking decisions," said Dr. Coburn. "But I think if you asked those women today, they would tell you that they are happy to be alive."

soonerpolitics.com has the ad linked on the right side of the home page. soonerpolitics.com proprietor Keith Gaddie had this to say when a Carson push-poll tried to get the same message out in August:

To equate the termination of an ectopic pregnancy with an elective abortion is at best ignorant, at worst politics at its most-mean-spirited and guttural.

So Dr. Tom Coburn did not perform abortions. He terminated two nonviable pregnancies of the sort that constitute a grave threat to the life of the expectant mother.

Here's a link to my entry at that time, and here's a link to soonerpolitics.com August content which includes the above quote.

Carson's radio ad cites the Republican National Committee for Life as if they opposed Tom Coburn or considered him not pro-life. In fact, their political action committee endorsed Coburn in the primary and describes Coburn as "unconditionally pro-life".

Brad Carson is a lying weasel. Even if you are pro-choice, do you really want a lying weasel representing you in the U.S. Senate?

(By the way, if anyone knows the name of the voice talent on the Carson ad, please drop me a line at blog at batesline.com -- replace the "at" with the @ sign. Someone who would prostitute his God-given vocal talents in the service of lies deserves to be named and shamed.)

Demystifying the polls

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Karol calls attention to The Horserace Blog, a great blog focusing on polls, and analyzing what they really mean, with a lot of information about how the different polling organizations do their work and the advantages and disadvantages of each.

Jay Cost, the author of the site, is looking for about 45 people to watch and help analyze county-by-county results in battleground states as they come in. He points to the Florida situation in 2000 as an example:

In 2000, I attended an election party at my alma mater. My friend -- who, at our conservative newspaper, went by the name "Hawk" -- and I (and a few others) were keeping tabs on the vote totals in Florida. I gave up on this after the MSM called the state for Gore. But Hawk tenaciously kept his eyes on the county-by-county returns. While I was busy formulating a contingency strategy for Dubya to get to 270 ("if he wins IA, WV, TN, AR and WI..."), Hawk kept telling me, in his wonderfully understated southern drawl, "I don't know, Cost. I think they called Florida wrong!" I told him he was crazy, but sure enough...they called it back. Hawk was ahead of the curve by about 2 hours because he kept his eyes on the vote totals and knew what to expect in every county.

He lists a number of requirements to make this effort work. It looks pretty interesting, and I think his site will be worth watching on election night.

The Tulsa County Republican Party is sponsoring a showing of the documentary "Stolen Honor" tonight at 6:00 pm and 9:00 pm. Each showing will last an hour -- only 100 seats will be available at each showing, so come early. The documentary is about John Kerry's slanderous testimony before the U. S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1971, and its impact on the veterans whose honor he besmirched.

The film will be shown at the Circle 2, on Lewis Avenue, between Admiral Blvd and 2nd St. Admission is free; donations to the Tulsa County Republican Party are requested.

By the way, the Circle 2 is the first phase of the restoration of the Circle Cinema, the last pre-1960s theatre still standing in Tulsa. The Circle 2 has already begun showing a schedule of independent and classic films, continuing in the tradition of the Westby Cinema (and the Williams Center Cinema before it).

It's still (barely) Wictory Wednesday, the final one before what we hope will be a real victory celebration in seven days' time.

The polls are all over the place, especially in the presidential battleground states and here in Oklahoma's Senate race. Different pollsters have different ideas about which voters are likely to turn out. There are millions of new registrants -- will they show up at the polls? Which party's supporters are most motivated to show up on Tuesday?

Turnout is the key.

In Georgia in 2002, no one believed that the Republican Party could win the governor's mansion, take over the state legislature, and defeat incumbent Senator Max Cleland. But they did because a disciplined, focused turnout effort -- known as the 72-hour Task Force -- got Republican voters to the polls.

The Wictory Wednesday appeal this week is twofold. First, vote early, if you can, for President Bush and the Republican ticket. In Oklahoma, you can go to your county election board for in-person absentee voting from 9 to 6 on Friday, 9 to 1 on Saturday, and 9 to 6 on Monday. By voting early, you'll make sure you won't be too busy or forget on election day.

Second, volunteer for the 72-hour task force at www.72hour.com. There are roles for all sorts of volunteers. (They're even looking for attorneys to volunteer to help with any legal issues that may emerge.)

Signup for volunteers takes just a minute -- you provide contact information and when you're available to help from Friday morning through Tuesday evening. Do it now!

Below is the list of blogs participating in Wictory Wednesdays. If you're a blogger and would like to join in, e-mail PoliPundit at wictory@blogsforbush.com.

Internet Explorer problem fixed

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Bobby Holt and my dad alerted me to a problem with viewing individual BatesLine entries under Internet Explorer -- the vertical scrollbar would be disabled, preventing the reader from reading the whole entry. If the reader happened to resize the Internet Explorer window, the scrollbar would start working.

The problem seems to date back a few weeks to when I changed the individual entry template to include a SiteMeter icon (for tracking the number of visits to the site). The fix involved including the following code right before the closing </body> tag:

<br clear="all" />

There is still a problem with some text on the home page that disappears and reappears, the result of the non-standard way in which Microsoft implements web standards in its browser. Hope to get that fixed soon. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Roop must choose

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Before I say anything else: Tulsa City Councilor Sam Roop is an honorable man. I have no reason to believe he has done anything deliberately to take advantage of his position as a Tulsa City Councilor, beyond using his knowledge as a long-time Councilor of who's who in City Hall, in order to steer city business to his new business venture. He has disclosed his involvement in a new business called American Technical Partners, which is seeking to provide computer networking services to the City of Tulsa. (See Tuesday's Whirled storyhere, jump page here.)

City Councilor Sam Roop said he had no problem asking the city to hire his startup company, American Technical Partners, to provide the city with the next generation of telecommunications technology.

"I realize there may be a conflict of interest because I'm a city councilor, but I have disclosed my interest in this group right up front," said Roop, who has raised potential conflict of interest issues with recent city board appointments....

After Roop had several meetings with employees of the city's Telecommunications Department, American Technical Partners submitted a proposal last month to study the city's options for setting up a wireless broadband communications network using WiMAX technologies.

The company asked for a fee of $25,000 to do the study. ...

"I'm in an unique position where I understand the technology world and the municipal world because I've been in both of them. I know what technology can do to save municipalities money," he said.

American Technical Partners is approaching not only Tulsa but many other cities in the state and in the country, he said.

(Emphasis added.)

It's the sort of thing former elected officials do all the time -- they use their knowledge of government to identify and develop goods or services that would be useful to the government they used to serve, and then they use their contacts and goodwill inside the government to help make the sale.

But Sam Roop is not yet a former elected official. And that is a distinction that makes all the difference.

To say that a public official has a "conflict of interest" doesn't mean that the person is evil or corrupt. It simply means that he is in a situation where what is in the public interest, which he has sworn to uphold, doesn't necessarily coincide with his private interests. It may be that the smartest, wisest, best money the City could spend would be to hire Sam Roop's company to setup broadband wireless networking, or it may be the stupidest idea ever. But either outcome would be fine for Sam Roop's company, once the city's check clears.

I'm sure Sam Roop would be scrupulous enough to avoid voting on awarding a contract with his own company. But the public interest demands more than avoiding such a direct conflict of interest.

"The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?" wrote Jeremiah. A conflict of interest creates ethical blindspots. When considering a course of action for the City in his role as a Councilor, there will always be, simmering below the conscious level of Sam Roop's mind, some calculation as to the impact of his policy decision on his company's dealings with the City. At a conscious level this will cause him to discount information that would lead him to a conclusion that might hurt his relationships with the people who could make or break his firm. This will happen to Sam Roop, not because he is a bad person, but because he is human.

Our city government has gone through a tough couple of years, and the City Council has had to make some tough decisions -- freezing and cutting budgets, investigating inefficiency and possible wrongdoing at the city's airports, revisiting the city's water policy, to name a few. Every tough decision means the possibility of offending someone, often someone in management who would be in a position either to grease the skids or to block the path for a contract with Sam Roop's firm.

The mere appearance of a conflict will raise questions about Sam Roop's decisions, particularly on controversial issues, particularly when he has changed his position on a controversial issue. Tulsans will reasonably wonder: Why did Sam Roop suddenly see the wisdom of having Tulsa water customers pay for a new water line for Owasso? Sam Roop's company is trying to sell its services to "many other cities in the state." Owasso City Manager Rodney Ray is only human, and if Sam Roop, Tulsa Councilor, had voted to cut the line, Ray probably wouldn't be very receptive to a proposal from Sam Roop, entrepreneur. That thought may never have consciously entered Sam Roop's mind, but the question will always be there. The same questions will hang over whatever decision he makes on appointments to the water board or the investigation of the airport authority -- both authorities are potential customers of Roop's new company.

There's a further question, beyond a conflict of interest: Sam Roop met with employees of the Telecommunications Department, according to the story. According to the City Charter, Article 2, Section 19:

Except for the purpose of investigation under Article II, Section 17, of this amended Charter, the Council and Councilors shall communicate on matters of city business with the executive and administrative service solely through the Mayor, the heads of each division and department of the City, as well as such other persons as the Mayor shall designate.... Violation of this Section by any Councilor shall constitute willful maladministration and be sufficient grounds for removal from office as provided by the laws of Oklahoma.

This scenario -- a City Councilor meeting with city employees in the interest of personal gain rather than the public interest -- is precisely the sort of inappropriate influence this section of the charter is intended to prevent.

"No man can serve two masters," Jesus said, "for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other." Sam Roop cannot honestly do his job as a City Councilor and try at the same time to be a vendor to the City of Tulsa. Sam Roop is a good man, but he is a man nevertheless.

In his years as a councilor, Sam Roop has taken some stands that made people in city government angry. I have praised him in the past for being willing to make the right choice even if it meant offending someone. Our City Council majority has had the boldness to make the right choices in part because all five were immune from pressure on their employers. But now, as a businessman seeking to do business with city governments, Sam Roop can't afford to anger any city official, and that's going to blunt his effectiveness as a watchdog for the people of this city. He can't afford to anger the officials in other cities, and that's going to blunt his ability to champion Tulsa's interests when they conflict with the interests of other cities.

I like Sam Roop, and I'm happy for him that after a long stretch of unemployment, he has found a way to earn a living, a way that could be very lucrative. I wish him well in his new business. But as he pursues this new business, there is only one ethical way to handle his Council duties.

Sam Roop must resign from the City Council.

Aieeee! Moon turns to blood!

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Most of the world will be able to see a total lunar eclipse tonight -- the last one until 2007. Totality begins at 9:23 pm Central Daylight Time and ends at 10:45 pm.

This sign in the heavens can mean only one thing: The Red Sox will finish their sweep of the Cardinals tonight.

Put your stamp on, Hamp!

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Whether or not your name is Hamp, if you're a supporter of Tom Coburn, your help is requested to put stamps on a mailing, if you have any time available until midnight tonight and from 9 to midnight tomorrow. This is the perfect political activity for shy persons. This is a task that older children and teenagers can do, too. Report for duty at Creative Printing and Mailing, 7041 East 15th Street -- between Memorial and Sheridan. (For you Tulsa old-timers, that's in Burtek's old facility.)

UPDATE: Even a four-year old can help: Katherine is very proud to say that she put on 101 stamps to "help President Bush."

A childish misunderstanding? No. Sending Tom Coburn to the Senate will help President Bush accomplish his agenda. Voting for liberal Democrat Brad Carson would deliver control of the Senate to the Democrats and hurt the President's ability to pursue his policies.

So go by Creative Printing and stamp mail, go by Coburn HQ at 61st & Memorial to make calls, or go by the GOP's campaign center at 52nd & Harvard (in front of Mardel's) to make calls. No need to call ahead -- just drop in. Let's help the President by turning out the vote for Tom Coburn.

State question forum tonight

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Leadership Tulsa is sponsoring this event. Ken Neal of the Whirled's editorial page will be one of the panelists, which ought to be unintentionally entertaining. It looks like LT has done a good job of acheiving balance -- Forrest Claunch is the leader of the opposition on the gaming issues, and Mike Thornbrugh has been outspoken in opposition to the tobacco tax hike. Here's the press release:

Leadership Tulsa Hosts State Questions Forum on Lottery, Gaming and Tobacco Tax

Leadership Tulsa will host an informational forum focusing on three of the nine state questions scheduled to appear on the November 2 general election ballot – SQ 705/706 on the education lottery, SQ 712 on the State Tribal Gaming Act and SQ 713 on the tobacco tax. The event will be held Tuesday, October 26 from 5:30pm to 7pm at the Tulsa Technology Center Lemley Campus at 35th and Memorial. It is free and open to the public.

Panelists include David Blatt, the Director of Public Policy for the Community Action Project, Mike Thornbrugh of the QuikTrip Corporation, David Stewart of the Cherokee Nation Enterprises, Ken Neal of the Tulsa World, Forrest Claunch of Oklahomans for Good Government and Pat Hall with the educational lottery campaign. Leadership Tulsa member and business consultant, Gary Richetto, will moderate the event.

“We had a tremendous turn out for the gubernatorial forum we hosted a couple of years ago,” explained Isabell Estes, current chair for the Leadership Tulsa board. “This forum, like all our programs, provides information on trends and issues that affect our community in an environment that encourages questions and thoughtful discussion.”

For more information, contact the Leadership Tulsa office at (918) 477-7079. The event is free and open to the public. Reservations are not necessary.

Wendy Thomas
Executive Director
Leadership Tulsa
wendy@leadershiptulsa.org
918-477-7080

I've been wondering when someone would point this out. Mark Steyn does it as an aside in his latest column in the Chicago Sun-Times:

Speaking of which, if there's four words I never want to hear again, it's "prescription drugs from Canada." I'm Canadian, so I know a thing or two about prescription drugs from Canada. Specifically speaking, I know they're American; the only thing Canadian about them is the label in French and English. How can politicians from both parties think that Americans can get cheaper drugs simply by outsourcing (as John Kerry would say) their distribution through a Canadian mailing address? U.S. pharmaceutical companies put up with Ottawa's price controls because it's a peripheral market. But, if you attempt to extend the price controls from the peripheral market of 30 million people to the primary market of 300 million people, all that's going to happen is that after approximately a week and a half there aren't going to be any drugs in Canada, cheap or otherwise -- just as the Clinton administration's intervention into the flu-shot market resulted in American companies getting out of the vaccine business entirely.

Well, duh. TANSTAAFL.

Dawn Eden is on a roll, which is not unusual. She posts something new almost every night, most often of late posting tales of what Planned Parenthood and the pro-abortion lobby are doing with the tax dollars we give them, ostensibly to provide various community services. Right now the Dawn Patrol features:

The item to which I'd most like to direct you is a lengthy post about stem cell research. She relates a conversation with a research scientist, who explains his objections with the way the stem cell debate is portrayed in the mainstream media, and she goes on to deal with the ethical realities of destroying embryos for research. The whole thing is topped off with selected comments from her readers which add more perspective to the picture. Along with the many links to other articles, it's a great resource for understanding the issue and helping you to communicate that understanding to others.

Dawn does a great job of digging out these stories and putting them into perspective. I'm too tired to explain this well, except to say that if you are concerned about our fallen culture's attacks on the dignity and sanctity of human life, of marriage, and of sex, you need to bookmark the Dawn Patrol and visit once a day, mostly so I don't have to turn BatesLine into a fan blog with a daily entry telling you to go read her site. Because you just should and you shouldn't need reminding.

(And just so you don't think there's only one side to the multifaceted Dawn Eden, click here if you've got RealPlayer, and seek about 11 minutes into the program, to hear a catchy tune she recorded a couple of years ago, and which I can't get out of my head since I first heard it a few days ago. Yes, folks, she's hip, and she's voting for President Bush. And you can learn about more of her many facets on the "Gaits of Eden" home page.)

Coburn up three with a week to go

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Now on the home page, SoonerPolitics.com has links to the latest Wilson Research poll of Oklahoma voters on the presidential and senate races and the most controversial state questions. Coburn is still up by three, but Coburn and Carson each lost a point to voice-hearing Independent Shiela Bilyeu. Follow that link to SoonerPolitics.com to see what Dr. Stones has to say about the poll.

And then follow this link to read Clayton Cramer on what the plus or minus margin of error is all about; and he's got a link to a poll "explainer" on CNN's website that he found helpful. The explainer doesn't mention the 95% confidence level, which means there's a one-in-twenty chance that the Wilson poll is wrong beyond the margin of error.

Coburn needs your help -- Tulsans call 627-5702 to find out what you can do.

NOTE TO VOTERS: This entry is from 2004. Follow this link for voting information for 2008.

The Tulsa County Election Board has added a number of new and welcome enhancements to the board's website.

You can go here to look at a sample ballot for your precinct. Each ballot will be double-sided. The front will vary based on the which legislative and county commission district a precinct is in. You can look in this cross-reference to see which style will be used in your precinct, then click on that style's link to look at the front of the ballot. The back of the ballot will have the state questions and will be identical county-wide.

Don't know your precinct? Go to the precinct locator, enter your address, and you'll be shown the precinct number, all the applicable district numbers, a picture of the polling place, a link to a MapQuest map of the polling place's location, and a number to call if you run into problems.

You can vote "absentee in person" at the County Election Board HQ at 555 N. Denver, this Friday, 8 am to 6 pm, Saturday 8 am to 1 pm, and Monday 8 am to 6 pm. Here's a link to information about this, and other general election info.

Thanks to Election Board Secretary Gene Pace and his staff for these very helpful additions to the website.

(Now if we could just have past election results online, I'd be thrilled.)

Faithless in West Virginia

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Monday morning on KFAQ, Michael DelGiorno, Gwen Freeman, and I were discussing the Electoral College, and the oft-forgotten reality that when you vote in the presidential race in Oklahoma, you're really voting for a slate of electors who will go to the State Capitol in December to cast the only votes that really matter for President and Vice President. Here's one of Tulsa County's sample ballots to illustrate the point (PDF format). Note that next to where you mark the ballot is a bracket containing the names of the seven electors nominated by the political party.

In most states, the political parties choose electors for their slate based on their years of service to the party and the expectation that the electors will remain faithful to their pledge to support the party's nominee. Oklahoma Republicans selected one elector nominee in each of our five congressional district conventions (which also selected three delegates and three alternates each), and then approved two electors, nominated by the state executive committee, at the state convention.

In some states, electors are bound by law to vote as pledged for their party's nominees. (Here are the state-by-state rules from 2000.) In Oklahoma, electors take an oath and are subject to fine if they violate that oath, but it is not known whether such penalties would be upheld by the Supreme Court. Here is an article, also from 2000, that looks at the legal issues, and past court rulings that might have a bearing on the question. In many states, electors are not bound by law or there are no legal penalties for voting contrary to pledge. (A defection would certainly mark the end of an elector's involvement in his political party, particularly if the defection mattered to the final result.)

West Virginia is such a state, and one of the five Republican nominees for elector has expressed his openness, if elected, to voting for someone other than President George W. Bush. Richie Robb is the mayor of South Charleston, West Virginia, and finished fourth in the Republican primary for Governor, which is apparently how he was chosen to be an elector. I can't find the reference, but I recall reading that the West Virginia Republican Party decided to nominate the five runners-up in the primary for Governor as the elector nominees. They didn't bother to find out whether all of them were Bush loyalists or not. Richie Robb is not a Bush loyalist.

It is often said that the presidential race is not one election, put 51 separate elections -- actually 56, when you add in the separate battles for individual congressional district electors in Maine and Nebraska. In 2000, there was talk of efforts to sway some of Bush's electors to vote for Gore out of respect for the popular vote result. If it's that close again, we may have a further 538 contests -- one each for the heart and mind and vote of each of the electors.

John Hospers, the founding father and first presidential nominee for the Libertarian Party back in 1972 (and the third-place Electoral College finisher with one vote, thanks to faithless elector Roger MacBride of Virginia) has endorsed the reelection of President Bush. His endorsement is worth quoting at length. All the complaints, however reasonable, about the growth of government during the Bush administration pale in comparison to the threat to life, liberty, and property posed by those who want to subject the United States to the rule of the speech-suppressors and money-grabbers of leftist fascism, and by the Islamo-Fascists who intend to subject the west to their laws or kill us all in the attempt.

Hospers believes that there is more than a "dime's worth of difference" between the two parties and that a John Kerry presidency poses a grave threat to civil liberties and national sovereignty:

The election of John Kerry would be, far more than is commonly realized, a catastrophe. Regardless of what he may say in current campaign speeches, his record is unmistakable: he belongs to the International Totalitarian Left in company with the Hillary and Bill Clintons, the Kofi Annans, the Ted Kennedys, and the Jesse Jacksons of the world. ...

The Democratic Party today is a haven for anti-Semites, racists, radical environmentalists, plundering trial lawyers, government employee unions, and numerous other self-serving elites who despise the Constitution and loathe private property. It is opposed to free speech: witness the mania for political correctness and intimidation on college campuses, and Kerry's threat to sue television stations that carry the Swift Boat ads. If given the power to do so, Democrats will use any possible means to suppress opposing viewpoints, particularly on talk radio and in the university system. They will attempt to enact "hate speech" and "hate crime" laws and re-institute the Fairness Doctrine, initiate lawsuits, and create new regulations designed to suppress freedom of speech and intimidate their political adversaries. They will call it "defending human rights." This sort of activity may well make up the core of a Kerry administration Justice Department that will have no truck with the rule of law except as a weapon to use against opponents.


"There's nothing wrong with a little indecision, as long as your job doesn't involve any responsibility."

David Zucker, director and writer of the "Naked Gun" series and "Airplane!", has directed a funny new ad for ClubForGrowth.net. Steve Moore, president of ClubForGrowth.net, would like you to take a look at it, and if you like it, to help fund its airing in key battleground states. Go here to view the ad (in Real Player, Windows Media Player, and QuickTime formats) and learn how you can help get it on the air.

Reforms to the Economic Development Commission will likely be before the Tulsa City Council for a final vote this Thursday night. There was some controversy this last week over the composition of the Commission, particularly about the requirement to have at least one member of the EDC from each City Council district. Mayor LaFortune and several members of the current EDC objected to that provision, and at their urging, Councilor Chris Medlock, who is sponsoring the proposal, dropped it, which brought strong and understandable opposition from northside Councilors Jack Henderson and Roscoe Turner. (Whirled coverage here and here.)

I can understand wanting to bring together the best business minds in the City, wherever they happen to live. But the EDC will be developing a strategy for economic development for the City, and it's important that we don't neglect those parts of the city that are most in need of economic growth.

There are ways to ensure representation for all parts of Tulsa, while providing the Mayor with more flexibility in naming members of the EDC. One idea would be to designate broad areas, areas that have often been overlooked, from which at least one member must be chosen -- for example, at least one each from west of the river, north of I-244 (maybe at least two, as it's a larger area), and east of US 169.

Another approach would be to require at least one or two members to live in an area federally designated as underprivileged, designated for urban renewal, or designated as enterprise zones. These are areas where a lot of city, state, and federal funds are targeted for economic improvement, and we ought to make sure the people who live there are represented as economic development plans are drawn up.

I'm confident there's a compromise that can be reached that will ensure that all parts of the city are represented, so that these important reforms can move forward, and so that our own city government will again be in charge of our own city's economic development strategy.

That's what someone at work asked me last week -- lots of big new developments of big new homes (plus new retail and commercial properties) around Tulsa at a time when our economy is said to be in rough shape. "sendoff", posting here on the TulsaNow forums, has an interesting bit of info that may give us a clue:

I'm not trying to be glib here, but I think the developer's/builder's vested interest is primarily themselves doing well. It's the nature of the beast.

In the Tuesday Tulsa World there was the monthly report by the Home Builders Association (HBA) on Tulsa area new home starts. It mentioned the inventory of existing $300,000+ homes (the "gravy" business of new home developers and builders) is at a 19-month supply. To contrast that with the Minneapolis area, which has not seen the degree of economic downturn Tulsa has, inventory of the same is at a 4 1/2-month supply - which is close to the national average. I'm sure similar numbers exist relative to other price categories.

So indiscriminate building and development in a weak housing environment is good? For whom? The Tulsa area or the developers?

What will happen when interest rates rise (and they will, regardless of who wins the White House) and home buyers of both new and used homes decline? Think what the housing inventory will be like then.

The cost and price appreciation of existing homes in the Tulsa area is being artificially held down because developers/builders are allowed to do their thing without restraint or any real growth planning. They make money, our homes do not.

And strategically placed water lines only make the situation worse.

It's still hard to understand how the builders and developers can make money in a situation like this.

UPDATE: A friend in the real estate business speculates that builders are taking advantage of low interest rates to build these homes now, before the price of materials rises any higher, in hopes of selling them when the economy comes roaring back. Many of the customers for homes in this range are professionals with a significant liability exposure, and the home (often purchased for cash) becomes a shelter against lawsuits.

Last Wednesday Tulsa City Councilor Chris Medlock got a call from a Tulsa Whirled reporter looking for comment on a story she was writing about that day's meeting of the Tulsa Metropolitan Utility Authority (TMUA -- Tulsa's water board). The gist was that the head of the Southwest Tulsa Chamber of Commerce was claiming that Medlock was obstructing a new housing development outside the Tulsa city limits and outside Tulsa's fence line in the Berryhill area. This is an area that Medlock has proposed to bring within the City's fence line to ensure that Sand Springs or Sapulpa cannot annex it. You'll recall that Sapulpa recently extended its boundaries several miles to grab the Town West shopping center near the Turner Turnpike entrance -- an area just outside Tulsa's city limits. Mr. Gray wants the City to pay for part of the sewer extension to this new development, but he opposes the fence line extension to ensure that this area we help to develop ultimately ends up in the City of Tulsa's limits.

They ran the story Sunday, top of the page of the Local section. (Starts here, jumps here.) The story does a decent job of letting Medlock respond to the complaint. But the real story is that the Whirled's editors have decided to spotlight any complaint against Chris Medlock, no matter how trivial or baseless. A public official is bound to have at least constituents disappointed with some decision, but you would expect the newspaper to put those disappointments into perspective. Instead, the Whirled seems to have set aside space in its highest circulation edition for a weekly shot at the councilor who poses the biggest threat to the cozy deals of which the Whirled is so fond.

The bottom line on this particular issue is that Tulsa has a limited amount of money to pay for sewer line extensions and the City Council wants to prioritize connecting unserved areas that are already within the city limits.

Chris Medlock has posted the e-mail he sent to the Whirled reporter on the TulsaNow forums here. For your convenience, it's reproduced here after the jump.

Latest Senate poll is Whirled

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On SoonerPolitics.com, OU PoliSci professor Keith Gaddie reviews the Tulsa Whirled's latest poll in the Oklahoma US Senate race (which shows Democrat Brad Carson up by 6%) and calls attention to the poll's lack of any screening for likely voters:

Registered voter surveys always favor Democratic candidates, but they are not reflective of turnout. Consumer Logic has not used any sort of likely voter screen (which have been discussed on this site before), not even a screening question that asks about the certainty with which a respondent will vote. A similar survey, taken more recently by SurveyUSA and using such a screening question, illustrates the problem inherent in the World’s poll: Tom Coburn has a seven-point lead among “certain” voters, while Brad Carson leads among voters who are only “probably” going to vote. And SUSA had weeded out the unlikely voters, who are still included in the World poll of registered voters.

We are in an uncertain political environment with regard to turnout. But, Consumer Logic and the Tulsa media who sponsored this poll owe it to their readers to address these issues, because they do not create an accurate picture of the polling environment, nor do they communicate the greater predictive error inherent in their unscreened, registered voter survey.

Gaddie also comments on the Oklahoman's endorsement of Tom Coburn:

Should Dr. Coburn prevail, his incumbency is impeded by a divisive, negative campaign waged by his opponent and his supporters. His trademark forthrightness and consistency has been called into question. His independence and lack of beholding to other interests are diminished. He will have won in no small part because other conservatives– most notably the NRSC and the Club for Growth, the Oklahoma City GOP organization (most notably Ernest Istook’s people), the GOP congressional delegation, and the Bush family – carried water for his campaign financially, politically, and organizationally at the grassroots. Left to his own devices, Tom Coburn would probably be outspent and losing right now. He is in this race due to an exceptional conservative effort on his behalf.

Senator Tom Coburn, like other politicians, will find he is beholden to the interests and organizations who contributed to his success. And, this will likely lead to demands that he change his political style, as the Oklahoman astutely suggests when its editorial board observes that “If elected, it's imperative that Coburn adopt a spirit of collaboration, particularly with fellow Sen. Jim Inhofe, that sometimes eluded him during his six years in the House.”

To the extent that Coburn is beholden to these groups, it will serve to reinforce his strength of character and independence. The people who have lined up to help Tom Coburn win this election did so because of who he is, not because they believe they could mold him into something different. The reason Club for Growth made his election its number one priority is because he has a record of standing firm on the Club's issues of economic freedom and smaller government. Any supporter who believes he's going to call in some favors once Coburn is in the Senate hasn't bothered to read his book or study his record.

Although his consistency and forthrightness have been questioned, the "questions" against him have been shown to be bogus. There are encouraging signs that Oklahomans are finally seeing through the distortions coming from Brad Carson's campaign. It only helps Coburn that a major donor to Carson's campaign -- the attorney who defended Coburn in that sterilization lawsuit -- is coming forward to challenge the half-truths and outright lies coming from Carson and his supporters. From a recent e-mail from Tom Coburn:

Let me close by mentioning a hero. Walter Haskins is the lawyer who represented me thirteen years ago when I was the defendant in a frivolous lawsuit based on untruthful claims. He does not agree with me politically; in fact, he and his wife contributed the maximum amount allowed by law to Brad Carson's campaign. When he saw me attacked in the media in early September about that very lawsuit, he told Brad Carson the facts that I had done nothing wrong and that the case had been quite properly thrown out of court. But when Mr. Carson went ahead and put a million dollars of his campaign funds behind television advertisements intended to destroy my character with those same false charges, Mr. Haskins stepped forward publicly to tell reporters that the claims in those commercials are false and that Brad Carson knew it. Now Mr. Haskins has made a commercial for us that you will probably be seeing over the next few days. Walt Haskins has come to my defense on his own initiative, at his own expense, and against his own political preferences, because truth matters to him. I am overwhelmed by the courage and integrity of this good man, and I will remember it the rest of my life.

You can see the ad here.

And to help the Coburn campaign in this final week, call them in Tulsa at 294-8352 or call the Tulsa County Republican Party at 627-5702.

There were rumors of bad news for John Kerry coming in the Washington Times this morning. Here it is (hat tip to Power Line). Kerry has repeatedly claimed that he conferred with the entire UN Security Council prior to his vote authorizing the use of force in Iraq. Not so. Read it for yourselves.

From daily blog rounds

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No comment, just links to some interesting finds in my latest tours around the blogosphere:

  • Power Line has a number of stories on vandalism targeting Republican offices, signs, even vehicles displaying Republican bumper stickers. And there's this item, that shows that separation of church and state apparently only applies to Republican candidates.
  • Richard Rushfield conducted an experiment, going into conservative Orange County and Bakersfield, California, wearing a Kerry/Edwards shirt, and into reliably liberal areas around L.A. wearing a Bush/Cheney shirt. He writes about the reactions he observed for Slate. You probably won't be surprised to learn which parts of southern California were most tolerant of minority points of view.
  • NRO has a new blog called Battlegrounders, featuring first-hand reports from key states. Here's one from Arkansas about how an election judge (a Democrat) treated Arkansas First Lady Janet Huckabee (a Republican) when she showed up to volunteer as a pollworker for early voting. Mrs. Huckabee naively believed she was supposed to follow the law and ask voters for ID. The same item has more about Democrat facilitation of voter fraud.
  • The writer of that Arkansas item is Pulaski County Justice of the Peace Dan Greenberg, who has an interesting CV -- Cato Institute, Heritage Foundation, policy director for Governor Mike Huckabee -- and now owns an editorial service -- you write it, he will edit it, for a fee. Cool typewriter effect on the website. And he doesn't say this, but I'm betting he's related to one of my favorite columnists, Paul Greenberg of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. (Watch for his Monday column, about the Sox making it to the World Series.)
  • Two polls now show Bush slightly ahead of Kerry in Hawai'i -- Ward Research has Bush ahead 43.3% to 42.6%, while SMS Research has Bush up 46% to 45%. Yes, both well within the margin of error, but Bush shouldn't even be competitive in Hawai'i.
  • Michelle Malkin says "call the wah-mbulance" for Kerry's latest poster child for economic deprivation during the Bush years.
  • Downtown Guy (of OKC) doesn't think Shan Gray's "The American" is going to happen. But he's excited about new apartments going in downtown Oklahoma City -- traditional urban-style four-story buildings with retail at street level.
  • Want to see a full-blown case of Bush Derangement Syndrome? See Lawrence O'Donnell now before the men with the nets take him away! (Thanks to the Daily Recycler for this and many more video highlights, like the new Bush "Wolves" ad, Reagan's 1984 "Bear in the Woods" ad. He's got that video of John Edwards primping before a TV appearance, which includes a moment that Lileks describes thus: "It’s like Captain Kirk whipping out his communicator to contact the USS Fabulous. Set phasers on stunning!")
  • The Grauniad has already removed the opinion piece which closes with a wish for a presidential assassination, but you can still read it here.

That's enough for now.

Nobel laureate quote of the week

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"The idea that you can increase taxes and stimulate the economy is pretty damn stupid."

-- Arizona State University Professor Edward Prescott, 2004 Nobel Laureate in economics, in an interview in the Arizona Republic.

I've been meaning for a while to write about the numerous state questions on the ballot in Oklahoma this November. The state election board has the complete text (PDF) that will appear on the ballot.

(You can see a brief analysis of all the state questions by the Oklahoma Council for Public Affairs here on their website.)

Let's warm up with a couple of the simple ones, having to do with property tax.

Doubleshot of caffeinated love

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A while back I promised to sing the praises of any local establishment that offers free wireless Internet access to its customers. Right now I'm blogging from the DoubleShot Coffee Company on Boston Avenue, just north of 18th Street, enjoying a cup of Tanzanian coffee and a slice of pumpkin cheesecake. They offer a variety of coffee drinks and a variety of blends, along with teas, desserts, and snacks. The coffeehouse has a scattering of tables, large and small, some chairs and couches designed for sinking down into with a book. (They have a shelf of books for browsing, too.) In the middle of it all is an enormous Vittoria coffee roaster, built in Italy in 1953, used in an English coffee shop, then brought to the US in 2003 and restored for use at DoubleShot. Beans are roasted fresh each day.

DoubleShot is selling a custom blend called "g.i. joe", created by the owner, Brian Franklin, in honor of his best friend who is serving in Iraq as an Army medic. With each purchase, $1 goes to buy and ship snacks, DVDs, magazines, etc., to the 1-26 infantry battalion in Samurra, Iraq. The label describes the blend thus: "Smooth and complex. Overtly earthy aroma, slightly sweet apple nuances with peppery body and lingering tobacco-like finish."

DoubleShot is open weekdays 7 am to 9 pm, weekends 8 am to 9 pm. It's an inviting, relaxing place with great coffee. Come check it out.

Election legal issues loom large

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Maybe I should consider changing careers. The field of election law looks to become a booming industry.

Over at Rick Hasen's Election Law Blog, you'll find links to news stories around the country -- especially in swing states -- dealing with the nuts and bolts of administering elections. A sample:

  • The butterfly punchcard ballots in use in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, are even more confusingly designed that the notorious Palm Beach County, Florida, butterfly ballots used in 2000.
  • The U. S. Justice Department has filed a brief in support of Ohio's law requiring voters casting provisional ballots to do so in the correct precinct. A U. S. District Judge had thrown out the rule in response to a lawsuit from the state's Democrat Party. (Since the races on the ballot change from precinct to precinct, this seems only reasonable, but I guess not to the Democrats.)
  • Voters in Florida don't have much confidence in the paperless balloting to be used in 15 counties. One Palm Beach County Commissioner is urging voters to submit paper absentee ballots instead of voting on election day.
  • Four swing states allow voters to register when they come to the polls.
  • Columbus, Ohio, residents are getting phony calls, claiming to be from the County Election Board, telling them that their polling place has changed.
  • Colorado's proposition to allocate its electoral votes in proportion to the popular vote is slipping in the polls.

And much, much more. If nothing else, the 2000 election has alerted us to what can go wrong in an election. If we're honest about the problems, we're in a better position to fix them.

Get the word out

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There are many, many opportunities over the next 10 days to help your favorite candidates connect with the voters. With all due respect to my readers in other parties, my hope is to see the reelection of George W. Bush, the election of Tom Coburn, and the Republican rescue of our State House and Senate from nearly 100 years of continuous misrule by the other party. There's a great opportunity today to help, right here in Tulsa.

This afternoon at 1:00, come to 52nd & Harvard, to the little office building in front of Mardel's. Food will be provided, and you'll be helping to deliver campaign literature supporting all Republican candidates to every Republican house in Tulsa County. The morning shift, which started at 9, is already out on the streets.

Then between now and through election day, there are plenty of opportunities to help, almost 24/7, whenever you can, for as long as you are able, and doing whatever you feel comfortable doing. Call Republican headquarters at 627-5702 and tell them you're reporting for duty.

Kathryn Jean Lopez reports on NRO about Senate Democrat Leader Tom Daschle's attempts to reinvent himself as pro-life and pro-marriage, another example of the Democrats attempting to blur distinctions on issues that matter deeply to many voters. The article links to a blog that has been keeping a close watch on the South Dakota U. S. Senate race between Daschle and former Republican congressman John Thune: Daschle v. Thune.

(Daschle is also trying to reinvent himself as a South Dakotan, after claiming a homestead exemption on his house in DC, thereby declaring the DC house to be his domicile.)

Following up my entry about last night's edition of "Hardball", here's the relevant section of the transcript, an interchange between host Chris Matthews and William Donohue of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights:

MATTHEWS: Lets talk about the president‘s position.

What is the president‘s position on abortion rights, Bill?

DONOHUE: The president is a opposed to abortion. The president is a pro life person. The president understands and if a women is pregnant and carrying a child, then if you kill that woman, you‘re also killing the child as well. John Kerry doesn‘t understand that. The president understands that life begins at conception, as does John Kerry, except that the president is willing to take it a step further and say that is why you cannot destroy an embryo. Because if you destroy and embryo, your destroying life.

MATTHEWS: There are two ways—Bill—

DONOHUE: Kerry, is the one that is really the problem.

MATTHEWS: There are two ways, Bill, to outlaw abortion in this country. One is to have a constitutional amendment to change the constitution overturn Roe v. Wade. Well, you know this as well as I do, just reciting the obvious. And the second is that you appointment Supreme Court justices, a couple of them at least and that shifts it back against the Roe vs. Wade position, the Scalia position.

Very clearly, the president of the United States has not promised to do either of those. He‘s not promoting a constitutional amendment to outlaw abortion, to overturn Roe v. Wade. He‘s not saying he‘s going to pick pro life judges. How can you say he‘s pro life, then, I don‘t get it.

He‘s not pro life.

DONOHUE: Take a look at the judges he has appointed already. I don‘t think there‘s any question about it, Kerry‘s the one says there‘s a litmus test. You can‘t be pro life to be on a bench.

MATTHEWS: The president has not said he‘s going to outlaw abortion. You know that, he makes a point of saying that all the time. I‘m not going to outlaw abortion, he said. The country is not attuned to right now. He says it all the time.

DONOHUE: But Christians know as well as I do, most Americans don‘t want to go back to the Roe v. Wade day, but they also don‘t like abortion on demand. There‘s a consensus in this country which neither the conservatives or liberals are paying attention to.

MATTHEWS: Don‘t call the president pro life—don‘t call the president pro life if you mean it...

DONOHUE: He is.

MATTHEWS: But he doesn‘t want to outlaw abortion.

DONOHUE: Look, there are a lot of—the pope himself has said, he has come out and said it‘s OK for a legislature to vote for a law which doesn‘t outlaw all abortion, provide that it‘s more restrictive than the current law. He didn‘t say you have to get all or nothing.

MATTHEWS: I just think. I‘m only interested in the politics of this.

The president‘s getting vote from pro lifers because he‘s pro life.

I don‘t think they should be voting for think he‘s going to outlaw abortion if he gets another years. Bill, if the president gets another four years is he going to outlaw abortion, is he going to be pro life president?

(CROSSTALK)

DONOHUE: No, I don‘t think he‘s going to -- I don‘t think he‘s going to outlaw abortion. But what I think what he‘s going to do is put people on the court who won‘t have reflexive tendency to say that, if in fact, you‘re pro life you‘re not allowed to get on the bench. That‘s what Kerry wants to do. It even gets into the question of anti-Catholicism.

MATTHEWS: You know, Bill, you bought that from Ronald Reagan. I think these guys are very clever at suggesting a philosophical agreement with your position, fair enough they never deliver.

We‘ll be right back with upon Monsignor McSweeney and Bill Donahue.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

"They never deliver." Read the whole transcript and you'll see that the point of the show was to persuade Catholics who are concerned about the abortion issue that they shouldn't make the issue a factor in their decision. In fact, the other guest during this segment, Monsignor Tom McSweeney of the Diocese of Erie, speaks of traveling around the diocese making that very case to the flock:

Chris, I‘m speaking to you from Pennsylvania. I‘m up in the northwestern corner of Pennsylvania. My diocese is the Erie Diocese, 13 counties. I‘ve been around the diocese. I‘m in charge of evangelization. Doing a lot of talking to people and getting a lot of counseling for this election because of some of the issues that are concerned here. And I tell you, the poll that you have quoted, the first one, not the one that bill Is referring to, resonates completely with the voices that I‘m hearing here in Pennsylvania.

They want to know first of all, if they can vote for a candidate who clearly is, you know, pro choice and we talk about that. In talking with these people I‘m finding that they are wanting to expand the conversation, the discourse to be all of the life issues, to develop a consistent ethic of life. And so some of them are liberating themselves from feeling badly about voting for Kerry, because they feel that, in fact, Kerry is offering offering more opportunities to expand the notions of life.

This is what I‘m hearing. So the new polls that are indicating that there‘s some success rate with Catholics seems to indicate that there‘s a shift in the pro life movement in a way to expand that conversation to include all of the life issues. In other words, to connect violence of abortion with violence of poverty, violence of capital punishment, violence of war.

So Msgr. McSweeney offers a different definition of what it means to be pro-life, one by which John Kerry qualifies as pro-life, despite his consistent support for legal and federally-funded abortion, and by which the President presumably doesn't qualify.

But let's look at the specific issues raised by the monsignor:

The violence of abortion: Kerry will ensure that abortion remains legal on demand and will obstruct, either directly or through the judges he appoints, even marginal improvements in protections for the unborn. Bush will appoint strict constructionist judges and will continue to work, as he has in his first term, to do all that is politically possible to protect the unborn.

The violence of poverty: It's a stretch to treat this as a life issue -- being killed in the womb is a far more permanent disability than being poor -- but we'll do so for the sake of argument. President Bush wants government assistance to help people emerge from poverty into financial stability, rather than maintain people in a state of dependency, and Bush wants to involve faith-based organizations in helping the poor build new and better lives. Kerry has gone back and forth on the issue, supporting the failed "War on Poverty" approach for most of his career, but supporting welfare reform in 1996 when he faced a serious reelection challenge from Gov. William Weld.

The violence of capital punishment: This point confuses the punishment due to those who take innocent life with the murder of the innocent. The teaching of the Catholic Church does not demand the abolition of capital punishment. The Pope has written, in his 1995 encyclical, Evangelium Vitae, "punishment must be carefully evaluated and decided upon, and ought not go to the extreme of executing the offender except in cases of absolute necessity: in other words, when it would not be possible otherwise to defend society." Catholic doctrine notwithstanding, both the President and John Kerry support the use of the death penalty.

The violence of war: Here again, both candidates supported the war in Afghanistan, and both have supported the war in Iraq (at one time or another, in Kerry's case). And here again, there is an invalid moral equivalence drawn between those who murder the innocent and those who take up arms to defeat murderous tyrants. Whether you believe it was politically wise or not, discoveries like the mass graves in Iraq filled with the skeletons of children clutching their toys, provide a moral justification of the use of force to stop the continued slaughter.

George W. Bush stands for the defense of innocent human life from tyrants and butchers. John Kerry will do nothing to stop or even slow the slaughter of innocents in this country or to act decisively against terrorists and their state sponsors.

Here's another Kerry contradiction the Bush campaign would do well to exploit. John Kerry cannot try to wear the mantle of tough guy and maintain his claim to be more pro-life than Bush by this broader standard. In claiming that he will "hunt... down and kill" the terrorists, or subject them to the death penalty, he is just as out of step with the pacifist caricature of Catholic doctrine on these issues as President Bush is.

Welcome, Corner readers

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Welcome to all of you who found BatesLine through this morning's link in NRO's "The Corner". The post you seek is linked below, but while I have your attention, I want to urge you to help Tom Coburn, the Republican nominee for U. S. Senate in Oklahoma. Dr. Coburn is an obstetrician, a three-term congressman, and an eloquent advocate for the sanctity of human life. Coburn is in a tough race, against a slick, Clintonesque pro-abortion Democrat named Brad Carson, who has a ton of money, and is using it to remake himself as a pro-life conservative. Coburn is ahead, but the race is still close, and Carson will apparently do and say anything to win. The Senate could be won or lost right here, and Tom Coburn could really use your help. Click here to contribute.

And click here to read about Chris Matthews' claim that George W. Bush is not pro-life.

Mission: Depress pro-life turnout

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Working late tonight, and I took a late dinner break at the nearby McDonald's. It was recently given a complete makeover -- a style I'll call High Tech Googie for the sake of calling it something -- and it's got a couple of big screen TVs. I sat down next to the one showing MSNBC, and "Scarborough Country" was just ending.

Then "Hardball" started, and the subject was the Catholic vote and a dramatic jump in John Kerry's support among white Catholics, according to a Pew Research survey. Then, host Chris Matthews was talking to Bill Donahue of the Catholic Action League. Matthews, with an unusually calm tone and demeanor, insisted that George W. Bush is not pro-life, that he's unfairly getting credit for being pro-life, but he isn't because he isn't even promising to ban abortion in his second term. Matthews repeated his assertion several times. (As soon as the transcript is online, I'll link to it.) According to Matthews, to be pro-life, the President would have either to promise to work for a constitutional amendment to ban abortion or to promise to appoint to the courts only those judges who are committed to overturning Roe v. Wade.

So a pattern begins to emerge. We saw another example in Andrew Sullivan's promotion of bogus numbers purporting to show that the number of abortions have been on the rise since Bush took office.

There was a study -- about the time of the 2000 election, if I recall correctly -- that said that abortion was a decisive issue for about 15% of voters. 9% of voters nationwide would vote only for a pro-life candidate, 6% would vote only for a pro-choice candidate. That's a 3-point advantage for the pro-life candidate in a race with a clear distinction between candidates on the abortion issue. And that's why the Democrats are so desperate to take the issue off the table by blurring the clear distinction between Bush and Kerry, and, in theOklahoma senate race, between liberal, pro-abortion Democrat Brad Carson and conservative, pro-life Republican Tom Coburn.

Chris Matthews surely understands that there is not the political will in this country to support a full-on effort to ban abortion. A "Human Life Amendment" to the Constitution would not pass Congress, and even if it did, it would probably fall short of the required number of states for ratification. If the President were to announce a policy of only nominating judges committed to overturning Roe v. Wade, he'd be accused of trying to overturn the Constitution. There is not a pro-life majority in the Senate, and Bush has had a hard enough time getting his judicial nominees confirmed even without an explicit "litmus test." Bush has said he will appoint only judges committed to interpreting the law, not making it, a stance which implies rejection of the "emanations and penumbras" approach taken by the court in Roe v. Wade.

In the current political climate, there is not a popular consensus for banning abortion, but there is a consensus for restricting abortion at the margins -- banning barbaric practices like partial-birth abortion, insisting on parental notification when a minor has an abortion, requiring a woman to give informed consent before an abortion. There is also a consensus that government shouldn't be funding abortion services or the promotion of abortion, here or abroad, and that clinics and hospitals should not be required to provide abortions as a condition of receiving federal funds for other services. All of these incremental changes help to save lives, and President Bush has promoted and supported these changes, while Senator Kerry has opposed them.

See for yourself: The National Right to Life Committee has fact sheets (in PDF format -- handy for printing and handing out at church) comparing the records of the presidential candidates and Senate candidates in key states. (Here's the one for the Coburn-Carson race.) And here's another PDF factsheet with detail on Bush's pro-life record.

It looks like there is a coordinated effort, with the cooperation of the mainstream media, to blur distinctions on issues where the Democrats are out of step with the majority of Americans. It will take concerted grass-roots efforts to get the truth out that there is a clear difference on issues that matter.

UPDATE: Kathryn Jean Lopez of NRO has an interview with a pro-life obstetrician on the specific things Bush has done to aid the cause of the unborn and what Kerry has done to hurt that same cause.

Thictory Thursday: South Carolina

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I missed posting on Wictory Wednesday, so I'm going to make it up today:

This week's spotlight race is on South Carolina and Jim DeMint. The Club for Growth has made electing Jim DeMint one of their highest priorities (just behind electing Tom Coburn). Here's what Club for Growth President Steve Moore has to say:

Jim is one of the most free-market and principled men in Congress. Columnist George Will was exactly right when he wrote that if DeMint wins “the Senate will acquire a distinctive voice.” He has been a leading advocate of the key economic growth issues of our time, and has a rock solid voting record, earning “A” grades from the National Taxpayers Union four times.

His liberal opponent, Inez Tenenbaum, has been plastering Jim for his support of replacing the income tax with a fair and simple tax system. Her TV ads are a complete distortion of his position. What a surprise . . . liberal lies against a free-market champion.

Tenenbaum favors retaining the dreadful Death Tax. In her post as State Superintendent of Education, she supported massive statewide tax hikes and opposed school choice. With all her backing from lawyers, it’s no surprise she opposes tort reform, too.

The latest poll shows Jim’s lead at just three points.

You can donate to the DeMint campaign here, or through Club for Growth here.

Here's what PoliPundit has to say about the race:

Republican Congressman Jim DeMint is slightly ahead of his Democrat opponent in the race for South Carolina’s open Senate seat. But he needs one last push to close the deal. If you don’t want to see more Democrats in the Senate, you can help DeMint by donating to his campaign.

Below is the list of blogs participating in Wictory Wednesdays. If you're a blogger and would like to join in, e-mail PoliPundit at wictory@blogsforbush.com.

Stick a fork in him

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Andrew Sullivan appears to be in the terminal stages of Bush Derangement Syndrome. Once a mighty warblogger, now a single-issue zealot (in support of gay marriage), he's adopting the Brad Carson technique of trying to make pro-life voters think the pro-life candidate really isn't. The hope is at least to plant the seed of doubt so that pro-life voters aren't as motivated to turn out. Little Boy Brad has done this in the Oklahoma Senate race by turning the fact that Tom Coburn has performed two surgeries to save a pregnant woman's life by removing an ectopic pregnancy into a blatantly false accusation that "Tom Coburn is an abortionist."

So now Andrew Sullivan (no relation to any of Tulsa's political Sullivans, who are not at all related to each other) wants pro-life voters to believe that abortions are on the rise in the Bush years. Dawn Eden has the straight scoop here and a pithy conclusion, too.

Although it won't be voted on tonight, the proposed reforms to the City of Tulsa's Economic Development Commission is on the agenda for Council discussion during tonight's Tulsa City Council meeting.

The proposed reforms make a few changes to Title 5, Chapter 4 of Tulsa Revised Ordinances. You can see the current ordinance here. The intent is to have the EDC as the focal point of all the City's economic development efforts, whether they involve city departments, city trusts, or economic development work outsourced to the Tulsa Metro Chamber bureaucracy and other contractors.

I refer you back to an earlier entry, a collection of links to Tulsa Today's coverage of the Tulsa Metro Chamber's many years as sole-source vendor for economic development services to the City of Tulsa. The articles ask whether, after sending $60 million to the Chamber bureaucracy over the years, Tulsa now has a healthy and developed economy. It's time to change what we are doing, because what we have been doing hasn't worked.

Here are the significant changes:


  • Specific duties: The EDC will become specifically responsible for developing an economic development plan and overseeing the implementation of that plan.
  • Geographically-balanced membership: The EDC would go from as many as 21 members to 15 -- one from each Council district, 4 at-large (who could be non-Tulsa residents), and the Mayor and a Councilor selected by the Council to serve ex officio. All of the members (except the Mayor and the Councilor) would be appointed by the Mayor and confirmed by the Council. Geographical balance will ensure that the EDC will be concerned with the development of the entire city.
  • An open bidding process: In contracting for economic development services, the EDC must go through the standard bidding process used for other city contracts, where the EDC issues a request for proposals, explaining the criteria for winning the job, and bidders submit their proposals for evaluation. Instead of just signing over the hotel/motel tax revenues to the Chamber bureaucracy, the Chamber bureaucracy will have the opportunity to be a part of the competitive bidding process. The Chamber bureaucracy may get some of the work, or possibly all of it, but they'll have to compete to get it. Competition is a healthy thing. Other chambers, like the Southwest Tulsa Chamber and the Greenwood Chamber may get a share of the work to develop their own parts of town.
  • Oversight: The EDC will make quarterly reports to the Council. If EDC approves contracts over a certain amount, the contract must be reported to the Council, and cumulative contracts with a single vendor for more than $20,000 must also be reported (no getting around the reporting requirement by giving one contractor lots of small contracts). An EDC member could be removed -- for cause -- by a majority of the EDC or a majority of the Council.
  • No conflicts of interest: This is important: "No appointee shall have been a member of the Board of Directors, officer or employee of any entity awarded a contract by the Economic Development Commission within the twenty four months prior to confirmation by the Council." This will ensure that the EDC won't be a puppet of any organization that seeks to do work for the EDC. The language needs to be cleaned up a bit -- not clear if the twenty-four months provision refers to when the contract was awarded or when the appointee served on the board. And for completeness' sake, forbid commission members from serving on any such board during their terms of office.

Although these are sensible and modest reforms, the leaders of the Chamber bureaucracy are predictably unhappy about all this, because it means they will be answerable for the public money they spend, money they seem to feel entitled to spend anyway they like. The head Chamber bureaucrats and their supporters on the Chamber board will no doubt be there in force tonight to glare at the Councilors, particularly Sam Roop, whom they believe (wrongly, I think) they can influence to join the Cockroach Caucus in obstructing these reforms. It would be nice if tonight the Councilors could see the smiling faces of many ordinary Tulsans who believe it's time for this kind of constructive change to our economic development. I hope the Mayor, who has been advocating strengthening the EDC since he took office, will be there voicing his support.

The meeting starts at 6 p.m. in the Council chamber at City Hall.

Recall backers still in hiding

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100_1623-snakeingrass.jpg

Still no word as to that list of 25 or so members of the committee seeking to oust Tulsa City Councilors Jim Mautino and Chris Medlock. At this point, we only know of the two names that were required to be on the ethics filing for the Coalition for Responsible Government -- the chairman, Jon Davidson, and the treasurer, Herbert Haschke. Maybe the other 23 are figments of someone's imagination. Or maybe they've vanished since last Tuesday.

I credit Mayor Bill LaFortune's clear and public statement last Tuesday opposing the recall with slowing the momentum of the effort. I've heard that Tulsa Metro Chamber Chairman Bob Poe called the Mayor after his statement and asked angrily "What did you do that for?" I think the recall backers expected to start a war between the Mayor and the Council that would not only help them topple the Council majority, but would also damage the Mayor, which I think is part of this group's hidden agenda. Instead, the Mayor and the Councilors have affirmed the need to move forward together, particularly to ensure the passage of a critical bond issue in February.

I've heard that Jon Davidson is continuing to try to recruit support behind the scenes. He is the GM of the Sheraton Tulsa Hotel, part of Regency Hotel Management. Regency CEO David Sweet may not be aware that the GM of his Tulsa property is involved in a controversial campaign to depose popularly elected councilors and that his employee is on the opposite side of the issue from the Mayor of Tulsa. If you'd like to make Mr. Sweet aware of this, here is the contact information:

Mailing Address/Main Phone Numbers:
Regency Hotel Management
3211 W Sencore Drive
Sioux Falls, SD 57107
Phone: (605) 334-2371
Fax (605) 334-8480

Starwood, the company that licenses the Sheraton name, may also be interested in the potential impact of Davidson's actions on the goodwill that its brand enjoys among Tulsans. Here is the corporate contact information:

Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide, Inc.
1111 Westchester Avenue
White Plains, NY 10604
Phone (914) 640-8100
Fax (914) 640-8310

Investor Relations Contact
Dan Gibson
Senior Vice President, Corporate Affairs
Phone (914) 640-8100

Vince Sposato's passing last week stirred up memories of his last run for office, for Tulsa Water and Sewer Commissioner in 1986, by one of Sposato's opponents in that race, Stan Geiger:

I was saddened to read of the demise of Vince Sposato. I went to school with a couple of his kids (he had a bunch). I also ran against him once, in one of the most interesting elections in Tulsa history.

It was 1986, I believe. I had recently changed my voter registration to Republican, believing my views were more in line with that party than the Democratic Party I signed up with as an 18-year-old. Patty Eaton, Democrat, was Water & Sewer Commissioner---and generally considered untouchable in an election. She had signed up to run for another term, and drew no Republican challenger.

I thought it somewhat un-American to hold an election with only one name on the ballot. So I filed as a Republican.

Each week our church runs a one-minute promotional spot on the local Christian radio station. In last week's minute, Pastor David O'Dowd provides a sixty-second Christian voter guide. He makes no mention of parties or candidates, but urges Christians not to vote based on outward appearance or tradition or self-interest. Instead, we're to vote biblically, and Pastor O'Dowd lists a few questions for a voter to consider as he casts his vote. Here's the spot in MP3 format.

The previous week's spot talks about the importance of judges and voting for officials who will restrain the judiciary from becoming an unaccountable oligarchy as Thomas Jefferson warned. "We need the rule of law and not judges who become the law."

These spots are fine examples of being direct and thought-provoking about key issues without making the church serve either party or any particular candidate.

My shepherd will supply my need

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My Shepherd will supply my need; Jehovah is his name; In pastures fresh he makes me feed, Beside the living stream. He brings my wandering spirit back, When I forsake his ways, And leads me, for his mercy's sake, In paths of truth and grace.

When I walk through the shades of death
Thy presence is my stay;
One word of thy supporting breath
Drives all my fears away.
Thy hand, in sight of all my foes,
Doth still my table spread;
My cup with blessings overflows,
Thine oil anoints my head.

The sure provisions of my God
Attend my all my days;
O may thy house be mine abode,
And all my work be praise!
There would I find a settled rest,
(While others go and come,)
No more a stranger, nor a guest;
But like a child at home.

Sunday morning our church choir sang this beautiful hymn, a metrical paraphrase of Psalm 23 by Isaac Watts. The tune is "Resignation" from Southern Harmony, the popular 19th century hymn collection.

Rude? See for yourself

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The Tulsa Whirled devoted a front-page Sunday story to the charge that some of the Reform Alliance Councilors were rude in their questioning of Owasso City Manager Rodney Ray and Jenks Mayor Vic Vreeland. The Councilors involved say they were politely asking questions, some of which may have made the visiting officials feel ill-prepared to respond.

The Whirled has run similar stories in the past, trying to make the Councilors look vicious and intemperate -- for example, saying that Medlock and Turner "grilled" TARE appointee Stephen Schuller, when they simply asked where he worked and if he had any conflicts of interest. The televised replay of that committee meeting revealed the grilling to be a series of short polite questions that lasted at most five minutes.

So this appears to be just one more element of the public relations campaign aiming at ending the Reform Alliance's majority. It's a frequently-used Whirled tactic. The Whirled writers won't attack a public official on the issue that really matters to them, because they know that their positions on most important issues are unpopular. Instead they will fabricate a charge that seems like a reasonable concern, just enough to create a seed of doubt among the supporters of the public official. From some questions I've received, the tactic appears to be working. (Conservatives should understand by now that the same paper that is distorting the record to destroy Tom Coburn and other conservative Federal officials won't hesitate to use the same power for similar despicable purposes at the local level. But a surprising number of conservatives don't seem to have made the connection.

It's good that TGOV gives people a chance to see for themselves what happened. Last Thursday's Council meeting will be replayed on Tulsa Cable 24 tonight at 6 p.m. and tomorrow morning at 8:00 a.m.

You can make a difference

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NYC Republican blogger Scott Sala tells of his day knocking doors in Philadelphia for President Bush:

In that first hour of waiting for people to arrive, I was struck by three amazing facts that left me extremely optimistic for Bush. First, the simple numbers. 25 or so New York City residents traveled on their own dime, paid for their own hotels and were about to put in their own volunteer effort for Bush. In PA. Second, the sheer diversity of the group. I expected all young people ready to walk the streets for hours, but we had people of walks of life - kids, seniors, Jews, Christians, Chinese, Greek, White, you name it. And last, probably most significant, I think I met at least 3 people who were life-long Democrats who were voting for Bush this year. All of them had become outcasts or were in hiding among their NYC friends, but none cared. Bush had to win for them....

The first door I knocked on was an elderly widow who was the quintessential undecided voters. We spoke for about 10 minutes, perhaps too long with the work ahead, but necessary nevertheless. She expressed concern for her grandchildren saying issues for her hardly mattered since she had little time left on this earth. I talked of education and taxes and security. We bonded well in a short time. Strangely, she started to mention the two candidates but couldn't quite get Kerry's name right. Something like John ____. She didn't know it. This led me to believe the undecided factor was all about Bush. She just needed convincing he was good enough to go it again. And I did convince her. We ended the conversation with her agreeing Bush deserved a chance to finish what he started, in Iraq and on the economy.

Here in Tulsa, there are plenty of opportunities for you to help between now and election day. Oklahoma has a crucial Senate race and a battle for control of the state legislature. Any time of day, for any length of time, there is something you can do to help the cause. You can be involved with calling voters or talking to them at their doors, or if you're shy, there are tasks to be done where you won't have to talk to anyone. Just call Tulsa County Republican Headquarters at 627-5702 and let them know what you can do to help.

I'm mad, too, Vince

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It was in the late '70s, and every day on KXXO AM 1300, Tulsa's first all news-talk station, you heard this gravelly voice intone, "I'm Vince Sposato, and I'm mad as hell!" -- followed by a minute of commentary on city government. Vince Sposato was a building contractor, a World War II vet, a father and grandfather, but he was known to Tulsans as an activist who wanted to fix what was wrong with city government. He ran seven times, as a Democrat, for streets commissioner, once for water and sewer commissioner. He never won, but he never stopped trying. And through his political efforts, he had, for a time, a daily radio commentary, just like Eddie Chiles. The station put out promotional bumper stickers, and once in a while you may still see a bumper sticker that says, "I'm mad too, Vince!"

The obituary in the Whirled mentioned that in the '60s, "he fought against urban renewal and the taking of people's homes without just compensation." I was thinking of that as I read Ken Neal's tribute to Sposato in Sunday's opinion section. I give Mr. Neal credit for not speaking ill of the dead, instead remembering him as a devoted family man and a colorful political character. Neal goes so far as to say this:

Granted, he was never elected to public office in Tulsa. Perhaps he was a bit too "New York" for Tulsa voters. In retrospect, I suspect that Tulsa missed a good chance to have a top-notch civil servant.

That made me wonder -- it would be a good project for someone with time to browse through microfilms and vertical files at the Central Library -- whether the Whirled had much praise for Sposato when he was actively involved in politics. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that he was condemned as an obstructionist, an opponent of progress, because of his opposition to urban renewal.

Although we were of different parties, I honor Vince Sposato as a pioneer "troublemaker", asking questions and challenging assumptions, wanting City Hall to do its job well and for the benefit of all Tulsans. Citizens like Vince Sposato and Betsy Horowitz believed in Tulsa, believed it could be a better place, and wouldn't be satisfied with answers like "it's a done deal" or "we've always done it this way." For their trouble, these early activists were marginalized, treated as targets for ridicule. Rather than answer the concerns they raised, the establishment's response was to focus our attention on something different or eccentric about them to communicate to Tulsans that their concerns didn't deserve serious consideration. The same process continues today with a front-page story (written by a reporter who wasn't at the meeting) devoted to the charge that some of the City Councilors said mean things to the suburban officials who spoke at last Thursday's City Council debate on the Owasso water line.

Today's Reform Alliance councilors could learn a valuable lesson from Vince Sposato's passing: If you want the Whirled to say something nice about you, drop dead.

UPDATE: If anyone out there has audio of one of Vince's commentaries, or any stories about his political campaigns, drop me a line at blog at batesline dot com.

Owasso water line cuts in line

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Getting caught up after some time away during my son's school's fall break:

After granting the Mayor three weeks to make his case, the Tulsa City Council voted unanimously to allow the Tulsa Metropolitan Utility Authority (TMUA) -- the water board -- to issue $18.5 million in revenue bonds to pay for ten projects, including $4.725 million for Phase 1 a controversial water line to serve new development in the City of Owasso. The revenue bonds will be repaid from future water system revenues -- that means that all Tulsa water customers will be paying for the new Owasso line, not just those who stand to benefit directly.

The Owasso line -- officially called the North Annexation Area Water Line -- has been on a fast track. Until April of this year, the line wasn't a part of the City of Tulsa's Capital Improvements Plan (CIP). The CIP is the City's "to-do" list, and when the City decides to finance capital improvements, they look at this list to determine what to fund. $474 million is the estimated cost of all the water system improvements that have been identified and included in the CIP. (You can download this large PDF file of the CIP inventory. The water system section begins on page 8-35.

Most projects sit on the CIP for years without being funded. Inclusion on the CIP just means we know we need to get around to it some day. That's why it's remarkable that this Owasso water line has gone from being off the radar to fully funded in a matter of six months. The water line was added at the April 22, 2004, Council meeting, without much fanfare. It was approved with a long list of other items that were presented to the Council as routine clerical matters.

It is hard to understand why there has been such a rush to make this happen. There are no imminent plans to develop the area within the Tulsa fence line that would be served by the water line, and Owasso has the resources, thanks to funds earmarked for Owasso infrastructure in Vision 2025, to pay for the line itself. So why is this project being allowed to cut in line, ahead of dozens of other projects that would serve unserved areas within the city limits or that would benefit all users of the system?

The Reason Public Policy Institute (RPPI) is a think tank focused on using the discipline of the free market to make government services more efficient. RPPI has a paper on water-system pricing which recommends the use of system development charges, which would have those who would be served by a water line pay a one-time fee up front for the cost of building it, rather than having current customers pay for connecting new customers. This seems like a fair approach, and it's what Councilor Chris Medlock and others have been advocating.

So why the rush, and why not have those who stand to benefit directly pay for the line? About 2 hours and 50 minutes into the meeting, Deanna Oakley, a north Tulsa County resident, asked a very blunt question of Council Chairman Randy Sullivan. She asked him whether the rumor was true that he and two other councilors and Tulsa Metro Chamber Chairman Bob Poe stood to benefit financially from this water line extension. Sullivan gave a non-answer after several seconds of stunned silence. The rumor is that there are plans for a residential golf development at 106th Street North and 97th East Avenue (Mingo Road). One of Bob Poe's companies, Pittman Poe, developed Bailey Ranch in Owasso and Battle Creek in Broken Arrow, along with many other similar developments across the country. If true, the rumor would explain a lot of otherwise unaccountably frantic behavior on the part of Mr. Poe and the Cockroach Caucus councilors.

In the end, it was Councilor Sam Roop who cleared the way for the Owasso water line to be funded in this package. Without his vote, there were not enough votes to amend the package and replace the Owasso water line with a project that would serve Tulsa. The opponents of the Owasso line felt it was more important to move ahead with the other projects on the list than to hold them up in hopes of persuading Roop or other councilors to see sense on the Owasso line.

Whirled won't take its own advice

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I guess I'm becoming immune to instances of laughable hypocrisy on the Tulsa Whirled's editorial page. At least my readers aren't, and one of them writes -- from across the pond! -- to call my attention to Monday's editorial about the plan to use $1 million in third-penny capital improvement sales tax dollars to subsidize the construction of 12 rental units in the Philtower Building.

One thing, however, is certain: Unless many of Tulsa's historic downtown buildings are not put to alternate use, such as for residential properties, they will eventually fall into disrepair and stand vacant, which does no one any good.

Tulsa's old oil-boom buildings are beautiful. Their architecture is part of Tulsa's rich heritage. But as breathtaking as they are on the outside, the insides of many do not fit today's market for businesses.

New offices are geared toward open floor plans with work spaces often separated by cubicles. The old buildings generally were built for individual offices. To renovate such space to accommodate the needs of today can be prohibitively expensive.

Turning floors 12 through 20 of the Philtower into lofts is a good idea. Tulsa needs such residential housing.

And because Tulsa needs such housing, and housing is the only practical way to save these downtown office towers, the Whirled's response is to tear down a nine-story building and turn it into a parking lot. The Whirled has the resources to convert the Skelly Building into residential space, or the Whirled could have sold the building. There was a group ready to buy the Skelly Building to do such a conversion, but the Whirled is determined to have its parking spaces.

If the Whirled really believed in downtown's future, the Skelly Building would be a part of that future.

The Philtower project, which went forward despite a divided Tulsa Development Authority, will increase downtown's population by a maximum of 18. The Philtower is in no danger of demolition and the owner has a revenue stream from his office and retail tenants that could have been used for the Philtower conversion. If the point of including that money in the third-penny was to spark residential development, Tulsans may wonder whether they are getting enough spark for the money. Tulsa Today had a story last month which provides details and raises questions about the selection of the Philtower and the elimination of other, larger projects from consideration.

Appointments matter

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The City Council moved ahead by a 6-3 vote last night with a new ordinance setting deadlines for the Mayor to make appointments to the City's Authorities, Boards, and Commissions (ABCs). The Whirled predictably ridiculed the idea in an editorial yesterday -- couldn't figure out how the citizens of Tulsa had suffered any harm from board members continuing to serve long past the expiration of their terms. I say "predictably" because the Whirled editorial board opposes the idea of popular sovereignty and accountability. They prefer a system as close to oligarchy as possible while still maintining some veneer of democratic process.

ABCs have substantial powers over land use planning and the operation of our city's water, sewer, and trash systems, and the airport. While some boards can only make recommendations for consideration by elected officials, other boards (particularly the boards of Title 60 trusts) have considerable power to commit public resources and set policy without review from our elected representatives. The only opportunity for these ABC members to be held accountable to the will of the people is when they come before the City Council for confirmation of their appointment or reappointment. None of these appointments are for life. Most are for terms of three or four years, but those terms are meaningless if appointees are permitted to serve for years beyond the expiration without facing the Council.

Norma Turnbo is a case in point. Her term on the Board of Adjustment expired 17 months ago, in May 2003. The BoA grants variances and special exceptions to the City's zoning ordinance -- decisions that can have a significant impact on property owners. If you don't like a BoA decision, your only recourse is to take it to District Court. No elected official has standing to review their decisions. There's a consensus that Norma needs to go, but nothing can be done unless the Mayor nominates a replacement. Even if she's renominated and rejected by the Council, we're stuck with her continuing to make important decisions, unaccountable to the people of Tulsa.

Congratulations to the Council on passing this ordinance. And congratulations to the Mayor as well -- this will give him some impetus to do what he wants and needs to do to on these appointments.

From Homeowners for Fair Zoning:

IMPORTANT COUNCIL MEETING UPDATE

Date/Time: Thursday, October 14, 2004 at 6:00 P.M.

Two important pieces of legislation are on the agenda for this Thursday’s 6:00 p.m. meeting of the Tulsa City Council. (The Council meeting takes place in Francis Campbell Room/Auditorium adjacent to Tulsa City Hall on the North side.) The first proposes that the Mayor be required to promptly submit his nominees for positions on City commissions, boards and trust authorities upon vacancy or term expiration for the current office holder. See the legislation at: Prompt Mayoral Appointments Ordinance. Currently, the Mayor is trying to keep the status quo in place by refusing to submit new nominees for these important City positions. The second ordinance proposes a restructuring of the Economic Development Commission.

The Reform Alliance majority on the City Council is proposing that $200,000 of the $1,300,000 which was to be given to the Tulsa Chamber of Commerce be instead given to the Economic Development Commission. This is being done because the Chamber has a dismal record of promoting new business for Tulsa and, with the majority of its membership being from outside Tulsa, may not principally represent Tulsa’s interests. Giving the funds to the EDC is an experiment to see if they can do a better job. The Chamber’s President is outraged over this and he and the Mayor have tried to pack the EDC’s decision making body with Chamber members. Councilor Medlock has proposed a more balanced system for appointments to EDC which will spread the decision making body over Tulsa’s 9 Council Districts, one from each, 4 Mayoral appointees and the Mayor and one Councilor as ex-officio members. See the legislation at: Economic Development Commission Ordinance.

You are strongly encouraged to attend and show your support for this legislation. Both the news media and the Councilors take note of your attendance. In light of the dramatic efforts of the Tulsa World’s management to orchestrate a recall for two of these five honest City Councilors (i.e., Councilor Medlock and Councilor Mautino), it is important to let everyone know how proud you are of their efforts at bringing reform to Tulsa’s boards, commissions and trust authorities. Persons wishing to speak will need to determine which agenda item numbers have been assigned to this legislation prior to 6:00 p.m. and sign up to speak on that item. John S. Denney, Attorney for Homeowners for Fair Zoning, will be at the meeting and can let you know the agenda numbers. If you have questions or need assistance, he can be reached during the day at 918-742-5472.

Recall backers lay low

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Still haven't seen that list of 25 backers of the recall. Perhaps with the Mayor's public opposition to the recall, they aren't sure they want to come out publicly. Eventually they will be public, when the ethics reports are filed.

Word is that Jon Davidson, chairman of the pro-recall committee, is still soliciting funds and public endorsements for his misguided cause. I wonder if his bosses at Regency Hotel Management in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, know and approve of his involvement, much less leadership, of this campaign. You might want to let the Regency folks know how you feel -- your appreciation of Medlock and Mautino and your disappointment in the Sheraton Tulsa's involvement. Here's the contact info:

Mailing Address/Main Phone Numbers:
Regency Hotel Management
3211 W Sencore Drive
Sioux Falls, SD 57107
Phone: (605) 334-2371
Fax (605) 334-8480

There's also a form for e-mailing a note on the contact page of the website, but a fax or snail mail letter will probably be more effective.

Mayor opposes recall

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Thanks to Tulsa Mayor Bill LaFortune for speaking publicly and unequivocally in opposition to the effort to recall Councilors Jim Mautino and Chris Medlock. The Mayor spoke Tuesday at lunchtime at a press conference at the Fountains Restaurant, in front of the monthly luncheon of the Tulsa County Republican Women's Club with Mautino, Medlock, and Councilor Sam Roop. The Tulsa Whirled story (jump page here) quotes the Mayor at length. To the Whirled's credit, they put the story on the front page, albeit below the fold.

"It does not paint a true picture of the city of Tulsa," the mayor said at a news conference. "We, the citizens of Tulsa, have worked together to get where we are today. The recall hampers our efforts to find real solutions to the problems facing our city."

LaFortune said the city did not have time to spend on a protracted effort to recall the councilors.

"We do not need three, four or five months of argument," he said. "Instead, we should be using that time to work at City Hall to move Tulsa forward." ...

LaFortune said all members of the City Council "make decisions that they think are in the best interest of Tulsa."

"They are good men and women . . . Their hearts are in the right place for the city of Tulsa," the mayor said. "I do the same thing. I make decisions, which I believe are in the best interest of Tulsa."

Government should be "constructive, not destructive," LaFortune said.

"We may disagree, but removing elected officials from office should only be the solution chosen when there has been a crime or a breach of fiduciary duty," he said.

The mayor said he is not seeing public support for a recall.

"Just today I've been to three different groups and I've asked just average citizens what they think," LaFortune said before speaking at a luncheon of the Tulsa County Republican Women's Club. "To the person, they said it is not good for our city; we don't like seeing it."

LaFortune stressed that he continues to reach out to all nine councilors, encouraging them "to meet on common ground and use a democratic process to solve our differences."

The Mayor is exactly right when he says we don't have time to waste on this divisive issue. To push this issue, especially now, would be selfish and arrogant on the part of the recall supporters. It would be disastrous if a recall were on the same ballot as the general obligation bond issue. I'm glad he said publicly, on camera, and with Medlock, Mautino, and Roop next to him, that he opposes the recall in the strongest possible terms. That should send a strong signal to the organizers.

The press conference almost wasn't a press conference. It was scheduled to be held prior to the Women's Club luncheon, but when the Mayor and Councilors arrived only KFAQ was there, and KFAQ had been alerted by Medlock that the event would occur. Phone calls were made to other media outlets, and it was learned that none of them had received the press release that was supposed to have gone out that morning. So the press conference was delayed for half-an-hour to give reporters time to arrive. Only KTUL didn't show up.

There is concern that some of the Mayor's own staff was working to undermine the impact of the Mayor's statement by ensuring that it happened without the media present. The failure to issue the release may have been an innocent mistake, but it is a crucial mistake, one that could have undone all the good will rebuilt between the Mayor and the Council majority in the last couple of weeks, so crucial a mistake that he would be unwise simply to excuse it. While the Mayor is limited in his control over civil servants, he has the ability to hire and fire his personal staff, and he would be better served by someone loyal to his interests, rather than a holdover from the Savage administration.

I note that the Mayor's press release has not been posted with the press releases on the City of Tulsa home page, or anywhere within the Mayor's portion of the city website.

I assume that all six Republican councilors were invited to participate in the press conference. Wonder why Bill Christiansen, Susan Neal, and Randy Sullivan weren't there.

Here's what's on the front page in Wednesday's Branson Daily News:

Aldermen want more info

By Cliff Sain
BDN Staff Writer

Branson aldermen want to be more involved with a $300 million lakefront project, now that large bills are being paid.

During an informal meeting before Monday's Branson Board of Aldermen meeting, Alderman Dave Edie said he needed more information from City Administrator Terry Dody about the Branson Landing project, a $300 million retail project along Lake Taneycomo whose cost is being shared between the city and HCW Development Company, the developer of the project.

"I feel left out of the loop," Edie said.

Branson Landing, which is expected to be completed by 2006, will have a boardwalk, a town square, a water fountain display, a hotel, a Bass Pro Shops, a Belk department store and several other shops and restaurants. Next door, along Sycamore Street, the city and HCW plan to build a convention center and hotel, to be completed in 2007.

Of concern to Edie is that the bills coming in on the project are getting much bigger, as high as $600,000.

"I keep seeing these bills for hundreds of thousands of dollars," Edie said.

Currently, aldermen are supplied with a detailed list of bills before each board meeting, but several aldermen said they'd like a chance to look through the bills earlier.

The cheek! And the shocking thing is that the Branson Daily News didn't accompany the story with unflattering photos of the aldermen or quotes from the Branson Chamber of Commerce leadership explaining how unreasonable the aldermen are being. No word yet whether a recall is planned. Clearly the Daily News needs a few lessons in how to run a city for fun and profit from their counterparts at the Tulsa Whirled.

What's up with electoral-vote.com?

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A couple of weeks ago I sang the praises of electoral-vote.com, a website devoted to tracking state-by-state polling in the presidential race. It is a technically impressive site, making great use of maps and charts, and providing all the data for download if you want to do your own analysis.

Over the last couple of days, the webmaster has come to the conclusion that evil Republicans are trying to take his site down. I can't imagine why, as his presentation of the data has been very even-handed, even though he is a Kerry supporter. More likely his site has been deluged with visitors because it is the best at what it does.

Until a couple of days ago, he had a page showing a projected final result, based on applying statistical analysis to the poll results and projecting a trend in each state to November 2. The projected final consistently showed Bush with over 300 electoral votes, victorious everywhere except the Pacific coast, the Northeast, and a couple of Rust Belt states. As of yesterday, the projected final page is no longer linked from the home page, and may be down altogther. It just may be too depressing to put all that work into a beautiful website, only to show that your candidate is headed to certain defeat.

The webmaster, as I said, is a liberal, but has tried to be even-handed. He's bound to be overwhelmed by the success of his site and by the challenge of keeping up with the flood of state polls -- where they were once weeks apart, a battleground state may have four or five polls happening simultaneously. The webmaster has had to figure out how to account for overlapping polls in his methodology.

I'll bet he's exhausted as well as discouraged. If you appreciate his site as I do, you might drop him a note, thank him for his work, and give him permission to take a day off now and then to recharge the batteries.

Wictory Wednesday: Tom Coburn

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It's Wictory Wednesday again, a weekly web reminder on dozens of blogs to support a Republican candidate in a key U. S. Senate race. Today's spotlight is on our own Tom Coburn, who is running neck and neck against liberal Democrat Brad Carson for the seat currently held by Don Nickles.

When I heard that Nickles planned to retired at the ripe young age of 54, the first name that came to mind, the person I most wanted to see in the U. S. Senate, was Tom Coburn. During his years in Congress, he was one of those "Class of '94" stalwarts who insisted that the Republican Party follow through on the promises it made for lower taxes, smaller government, and fiscal responsibility. That's why the Club for Growth has made electing Tom Coburn their number one priority. The Senate needs someone with his character and determination.

You can donate to the Coburn campaign here

Here's what PoliPundit has to say about the race:

Coburn is the more talented candidate, but Carson is benefiting from a systematic campaign by Oklahoma media to boost his candidacy. Coburn needs our help to tip the scales. A few dollars can go a long way towards buying advertising that highlights Coburn’s conservatism and Carson’s liberalism.

Below is the list of blogs participating in Wictory Wednesdays. If you're a blogger and would like to join in, e-mail PoliPundit at wictory@blogsforbush.com.

Op-eds on eminent domain

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The Hampton Roads, Virginia, area is blessed to have a newspaper that opposes the abuse of government's power to condemn property. Eminent Domain Watch reprints an editorial in the Virginian-Pilot about the pending New London, Connecticut, case before the U. S. Supreme Court:

In 1981, the Michigan Supreme Court OK’d the condemnation of a Polish neighborhood in Detroit to make way for a new Cadillac plant.

Ever since, too many municipal officials have assumed they had carte blanche to take title to one person’s land and then sell it to someone else pledging to extract more jobs and taxes from it.

That’s why it’s welcome news that the U.S. Supreme Court has decided to intervene. It has taken up an outrageous case of eminent domain abuse on appeal from Connecticut. The case permits the court to curb a surge in condemnations motivated solely for economic development, not for the legitimate reasons of clearing slums and blight, or public necessities, such as roads, schools and hospitals.

And EDW reprints a Phyllis Schlafly op-ed on the same topic. Schlafly is head of the Eagle Forum, a conservative women's organization. Although best known for her advocacy for conservative positions on social issues, Schlafly has been outspoken in opposition to government violations of property rights and privacy rights. This column beautifully depicts the impact of eminent domain abuse:

The American Dream is to start a small business and develop it through years of hard work and investment. Millions of small businesses form the backbone of the United States' economy, annually creating between 60 percent and 80 percent of new jobs.

Location is the key to most businesses, and entrepreneurs typically build their reputation at a particular spot. But lately, many have been greeted by a surprise message from city hall: Their town is taking their property for the benefit of someone else.

A lifetime of effort is suddenly snuffed by the arbitrary decision of a few councilmen or unelected city planners. Business owner can claim only an appraised value for the hollow building and land that he actually owns. He receives zero compensation for the goodwill and revenue stream from customers he has nourished for years. A business leasing its property usually receives no compensation. Employees get nothing.

That's a pretty good description of what Peggy Jones of the Denver Grill faced, although in her case the property will be used for a publicly-owned facility, a use of eminent domain that is not in dispute.

There are forces in Tulsa that would love to misuse the government's power to condemn for private gain. I'm hopeful that the Supreme Court will make it clear that condemnation is only to be use for public use, not private benefit.

blogads

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At right you'll notice that I've signed up to sell blogads to help pay the cost of running BatesLine. I hadn't planned to sell ads, but I was contacted by an organization (one I support) which was interested in advertising on the site, so I set it up. It is a great advertising buy -- only $10 a week, $15 for two weeks, and $20 for an entire month. According to Webalizer, BatesLine is drawing about 1000 visitors a day. The ad runs near the top of every page on the site, so it will be seen whether a websurfer comes to the home page or links directly to an article. It takes about five minutes to set up an ad like the one you see at right -- just click on the "advertise here" link, and off you go. Once I get notice of your interest and approve the ad -- I reserve the right to reject any ad I deem incompatible with my values -- you'll see it on display.

As we approach the hour for a City Council committee to consider an ordinance reforming the Economic Development Commission, I'd like to call your attention to the thorough reporting done by Tulsa Today over the years about the handling of our City's economic development funds. Here's a link to a Google search that turns up most of the relevant articles.

If you're wondering why many Tulsans involved in local affairs have no respect for the Chamber, these articles will help you understand.

Some excerpts from key articles:

In "Jobs Needed Now", from 2003, we learn how the Chamber's leaders plan to grow the economy. Here's some insight into the thinking of Chamber CEO Jay Clemens, who has taken over leadership of the economic development group temporarily, following the departure of Chamber VP Mickey "No Idea" Thompson to Bixby:

Also, as a staff driven organization, the head of the staff is the ultimate boss and according to the New York Times, Jay Clemens, Executive President and CEO of the Metropolitan Tulsa Chamber of Commerce once said a company’s plan to bring 500 new jobs into an area where he held a similar position would “unrealistically drive up wages.” Not a quote to inspire workers of any community.

And here's an evaluation of the Chamber's overall approach:

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.

Chamber officials promised to diversify local economic development efforts after the oil crash in the mid-eighties, but surprise … they did not.Now with the severe local depression within energy, telecommunications, and aviation they are not even promising a different approach.

"Chamber in Decline", from earlier in 2003, reports on the Mayor's plans to scrutinize the city's economic development efforts. I don't recall hearing whether this blue ribbon panel was ever actually empaneled.

In his budget presentation May 1, Mayor Lafortune spoke of the importance of economic development and convention and visitor solicitation efforts saying, “We have many agencies, organizations and city departments who work on economic development, but most do so on their own without a coordinated plan among those entities. Of course, the Tulsa Metro Chamber has the lead on Tulsa’s economic development efforts and receives significant funding from our hotel and motel taxes to accomplish this task. At this critical time in Tulsa’s history, with the economy being the victim of so many hard hits, it is crucial that we go forward with the very best economic development plan possible. With this end in mind, I have asked former city councilor Dewey Bartlett to chair a Mayor’s Blue Ribbon Panel of some of Tulsa’s best business leaders to review the City’s economic development efforts and provide recommendations as to how we can improve, and even consolidate these efforts.”

The article also gives us a glimpse of the inner workings of the Chamber, centered on Chamber CEO Jay Clemens, who does not live in the City of Tulsa, and reports on the Chamber's sales pitch to prospective members:

Last year, Tulsa Today, Inc. considered membership in the Chamber and was visited by such a sales person. She asserted that the Chamber “runs” Tulsa, a surprise to gathered Tulsa Today staff. For anyone knowledgeable of public policy issues, that was an assertion of public corruption. The Chamber is a private lobby group and while they may contract with the City of Tulsa to execute specific functions, they do so only at the will of public officials legally elected by the will of the people as outlined in the United States and Oklahoma Constitutions.

And here's an article from 1998 about the hotel / motel sales tax fund and whether the Chamber was effective at what it had been hired to do.

Kerry catching up in Oklahoma?

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The new KWTV Wilson Research poll is out, and it shows that the Presidential race in Oklahoma has narrowed from 30 points to 12 in just one week, while in the Senate race, Carson's lead over Coburn remains at 2 points.

18 points is a lot of movement for one week and that got me to dig a little further. There's a question asking what political label the respondent would give to himself -- liberal, moderate, or conservative, and if liberal or conserative, whether very or somewhat. The previous two weeks, the liberal number was at 12%; this week it's at 17%. The previous two weeks, the conservative percentage was 48% then 50%; this week it's 44%. What's more, the very conservative number had been at 23% and 24%, then dropped this week to 18%. (Moderate numbers stayed about the same all three weeks -- 34, 33, 31.)

Either we had a seismic shift in Oklahoma politics, with the whole political spectrum shifting six points to the left, or more likely, this poll is an outlier. When you take a random sample, the results most of the time will be representative of the larger population, within the margin of error, but there's always a chance (about 1 in 20) that you will get unlucky and pick an utterly unrepresentative sample. If that is the case with this week's Wilson poll, and in fact the real presidential numbers are closer to last week's, it makes you wonder what the real Coburn-Carson numbers are, if a liberal-skewed sample has them nearly tied.

Tuesday's Tulsa City Council committee agenda is full of interesting topics: Economic development oversight, appointments to authorities, boards, and commissions; a change to the noise nuisance law; a change to the zoning code regarding modular housing; and a rezoning at 15th & Utica. If you have time, this would be an interesting day to see what's going on at City Hall.

Two items that address recent controversies will be considered in the Legislative and Public Safety Committee meeting at 1:30 p.m. (All committee meetings take place in the conference room on the 2nd floor of City Hall.)

An encouraging sign

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Mikki spotted this earlier today, south of 41st on Sheridan, and I went back this evening to take the pictures.

A tip of the mortarboard to Community Care College for their show of support for Councilors Jim Mautino and Chris Medlock. Community Care College was named Small Business of the Year for 2004 by the Tulsa Economic Development Corporation.

Community Care College sign reads: Support Councilors Medlock & Mautino

Community Care College sign reads: Say NO To Recall

Several people have emailed in response to my comment about the various numbers being thrown around by Mayor and the FOP about the arbitration of police pay increases. FOP Lodge 93 has a website, and they have posted the text of the arbitration judgment here. They have a few comments at the top of the page, and have highlighted passages they find significant. Their home page has links to additional comments.

I haven't had time to read through it yet, but I wanted to give you a chance to read it yourselves. By the way, the Michael Bates mentioned in the text is Michael S. Bates, Director of Human Relations for the City of Tulsa, and no relation whatsoever to me.

Don Burdick, chairman of the Tulsa County Republican Party, emailed the following statement to me this morning about his meeting with the President and the Chairman of the Tulsa Metro Chamber, and asked me to post it. Here it is:

I would characterize my meeting with Jay Clemens and Bob Poe as a healthy discussion between business and political leaders. In very strong terms, I expressed my opposition to a recall effort for any City Councilor, or Mayor, simply based on policy disagreements. Mr. Clemens and Mr. Poe stated their primary concern was the business climate in Tulsa, and they believed some of Councilor Medlock's positions were detrimental to promoting regional economic growth. My recommendation was for a meeting between these individuals, hoping for a solution to the existing problems. We all agreed that attempting to resolve these differences through articles in the newspaper, on the radio, or on websites was not working... and that face-to-face discussion was the only way. The chance of success may be low, but for the good of Tulsa, it was worth trying. For the record, no chamber official offered to get Councilor Medlock any job for any reason. I left the meeting hopeful that a solution other than a recall effort could be accomplished, and was very concerned that if the recall effort continued, it's impact would be bad for Tulsa. I still have that hope.

I commend Don for trying to make peace and for his strong stand against recall, and he's right that a recall would hurt Tulsa. I'll save further comments for a later entry.

More notes on the recallers

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Did some digging to learn more about Jon Davidson, the Chairman of the Coalition for Responsible Government 2004, which is backing the recall of City Councilors Chris Medlock and Jim Mautino.

The Whirled story mentions that he recently resigned from the board of the Tulsa Metro Chamber, but the October newsletter (PDF) still lists him as vice chairman of the Chamber for the Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Davidson is general manager of the Sheraton Tulsa Hotel. I wondered whether the hotel's owners were aware that their employee is launching himself into a divisive political controversy that could hurt the hotel's image in the community. So I went to find out who owns the hotel.

The Sheraton Tulsa Hotel is not owned by Starwood, the parent company of the Sheraton brand. Behind the desk at the Tulsa Sheraton is this sign, which is probably required by the franchise agreement:

The Sheraton Tulsa Hotel is indpendently owned by Tulsa Garnett Hotel Ventures and operated by Regency Hotel Management under a license issued by the Sheraton Corporation.

Some further digging revealed that Tulsa Garnett Hotel Ventures and Regency Hotel Management are both South Dakota corporations, based in Sioux Falls, and owned by the Ramkota Companies. They acquired the hotel, formerly a Marriott, in 1995, renovated and rebranded it as a Sheraton, and installed Davidson as general manager in the fall of that year.

Here is the website for Regency Hotel Management, which currently features the Sheraton Tulsa on the website banner. A link on the home pages reads, "Regency Hotel Management & it’s [sic] affiliates own more than 60 properties in 21 states..." and when you click on the link, then click on the south central region, you will see that the Sheraton Tulsa is listed as one of those properties owned by Regency or one of its affiliates. David Sweet is the registered agent in South Dakota of Tulsa Garnett Hotel Ventures, LLC. Sweet is also the CEO of the Ramkota Companies, Inc., and of Regency Hotel Management, Inc. All three companies share the same registered address of 3211 West Sencore Drive, Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Would a South Dakota-based hotel chain with 60 properties really want to be involved in a political controversy in Tulsa? I think it very unlikely that the home office in Sioux Falls has any idea of the controversy and bad publicity the manager of their only Tulsa property is going to be generating. Here is a link to their contact page. If you support Jim Mautino and Chris Medlock, you might want to let Regency CEO David Sweet know, as politely and gently as you can, that their Mr. Davidson is heading up an effort to overturn the election of two members of the City Council (elected with 55% and 59% of the vote, respectively), that you support these councilors, and that you don't appreciate Mr. Davidson's efforts to remove them.

UPDATE on an earlier item: I mentioned the connection between the Coalition's treasurer, Herbert P. Haschke, Jr., and Lou Reynolds, one of the two members of Tulsa's water board who was denied reappointment to the board by the Council majority. Haschke also has a connection to Jim Cameron, the other board member denied reappointment. Haschke and Cameron were co-incorporators, along with Ken Underwood, of IHCRC Realty Corporation, which was incorporated in 1996 and dissolved in 2000.

Downtown's naysayers?

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I wish the Tulsa Whirled's editorial writers would do some mind-stretching exercises before they sit down at the keyboard. Or maybe they could go out and encounter people with differing points of view. For example, Sunday's offering, Mike Jones, who generally seems to be one of the more reasonable editorialists, but he's got his assumptions about things and they will not be shaken:

The naysayers simply don't give up. Anonymous calls to the editor and signed letters to the editor are rolling in again about the dangers and hopelessness of downtown Tulsa. Maybe it's the unveiling of the new arena project that rekindled their attention.

The best bet is that most, if not all, of this current batch of writers and callers (most likely the same ones as the last round) are people who were against the Vision 2025 project from the outset. No one expected them to change their minds. Closed minds are often difficult to change.

There are several problems here, the biggest being the assumption that everyone who opposed Vision 2025 (and It's Tulsa's Time and the Tulsa Project before that) has a disdain for downtown. That may be true of some, but it isn't true of me.

One of the things that motivated me to oppose the 1997 Tulsa Project and to run for office, first in 1998 and again in 2002, was seeing that Tulsa was progressively destroying the few urban places that still existed, through a combination of demolition, pedestrian-unfriendly redevelopment, and misguided efforts to "revitalize" in ways that destroyed what urban character still remained.

In fact, my biggest cause for opposition to the 1997 Tulsa Project was that it was billed as the salvation of downtown, but would accomplish nothing of the sort, and in fact would make matters worse, by demolishing more of downtown's urban fabric, closing off streets, and pushing out the businesses and residents who have been trying to make a go of it downtown against all odds. Here is an article I wrote that was published in Urban Tulsa back in 1997. And here's what I wrote about the arena and downtown revitalization in 2000 during the "It's Tulsa's Time" campaign.

I wrote this back in 2003 in response to a Tulsa Whirled editorial whining that the arena was in danger of being excluded from the Vision process:

For those of us who want to see downtown Tulsa become a vital, bustling urban place once again, the problem is that most of downtown Tulsa's streets are devoid of human life apart from brief bursts around starting and quitting time. The question to ask is, "How do we re-create Downtown as an exciting place to be, as it once was?" The strategic answer is to get people living downtown once again, and to make visiting downtown a pleasant and inviting experience. To get to that goal, you look for positive trends and opportunities and find ways to encourage and facilitate those trends -- fan the sparks into a flame. It is an incremental approach employing a variety of tactics. Roberta Brandes Gratz calls it "Urban Husbandry" because it's like tending a garden -- you work with the uniqueness of the material you have on hand and help it to flourish. (Read the intro to her book Cities Back from the Edge: New Life for Downtown to get a better feel for this concept. Better yet, buy and read the whole book!)

In the end, there were some funds in Proposition 4 that could be used in the spirit of Urban Husbandry. (Whether they will be applied in a way that will make a real difference remains to be seen. Although Prop 4 had some good projects, none were urgent enough to warrant a tax increase; they should have been put on the Capital Improvements Plan and evaluated as part of bond issue or third penny renewal.)

Most of what needs to be done to make downtown appealing again involves the basics -- a visible police presence to act as a deterrent against crime and an assurance to downtown visitors and residents alike, improvements to lighting and sidewalks, fixing and, where possible, reopening streets to auto traffic. (When will the Boulder Ave overpass be reopened? How else do you plan to get pedestrians from the arena to the Brady Village entertainment district? Do you want them to go through the spooky Denver underpass past the bail bonds shops?)

Mike Jones goes on to say that downtown is no more dangerous than 71st & Memorial or 41st & Yale. That may be so, but at those other locations, people feel insulated from danger because they are in their cars. In a real downtown, you're going to be on foot as you go from place to place. If the arena is going to spark new restaurants and clubs downtown, people will have to feel safe and comfortable walking from the arena to the Blue Dome and Brady Village districts. Once an arena patron is in his car, downtown has lost the advantage of proximity -- a myriad of restaurants and clubs are at his disposal, all within a 20 minute drive.

Who are the real downtown naysayers? Mike Jones' own newspaper is working to make it harder for people to feel comfortable walking downtown. By turning one building into a parking lot and another into a windowless air conditioning plant, the Tulsa Whirled is turning more of downtown into a pedestrian-unfriendly zone. Residences and retail establishments provide "eyes on the street" -- that means that as you walk along, you know that there are other people who will notice if anything bad happens. If you feel threatened and need to escape a worrying situation (or maybe just a sudden rainstorm), you look for an open business to duck into -- a parking lot and an air conditioning plant don't provide that kind of shelter. The Whirled's demolition decision also reveals that they don't really believe that downtown has a bright future, otherwise they'd seek to hold on to these buildings for future redevelopment.

I've heard complaints from a number of downtown boosters that the Whirled has sensationalized its coverage of downtown crimes and violence while downplaying similar events elsewhere in the city, thus feeding an already negative image of downtown. Who's the naysayer?

Good things are happening downtown, thanks to folks like Michael Sager and his work in the Blue Dome District, and if the Whirled would quit looking to the arena to be downtown's salvation when it finally opens in 2008, perhaps they would start backing the kinds of improvements that will make the greatest positive difference to downtown right now.

0x00000BEE 0xD0000BEE

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(I promise I'll get back to ugly, nasty, brutal city politics shortly, but I need a break, and you probably do, too.)

Back in the early days of electronic calculators, there were books of calculator tricks -- calculate a certain formula and the result, when viewed upside down, spelled something. For example, on those primitive LED displays, 7734 upside down looked like H-E-double-hockey-sticks.

Programmers play similar tricks with numbers in hexadecimal notation. Hexadecimal notation is the base-16 representation of a number, unlike the base-10 notation you humans use, and in addition to 0 through 9, the letters A through F are used to represent 10 through 15, respectively. Hexadecimal notation is the usually the most convenient notation to represent the way data is stored in the memory of a computer. In the C programming language and its derivatives, hexadecimal numbers are differentiated from decimal numbers with a leading "0x". For example, 0x100 (hexadecimal) is 256 (decimal):

1 x 162 + 0 x 161 + 0 x 160 = 2 x 102 + 5 x 101 + 6 x 100

As a way to help debug software, programmers will create bogus values to be able to differentiate between uninitialized memory and memory initialized to 0. Any pattern will do, but it's more fun to use the letters of the hexadecimal digits to spell something. IBM engineers based in Austin programmed the AIX operating system to initialize memory to 0xDEADBEEF (must have been a Sooner that came up with that). Other examples (and they must be 8 digits long) are 0xBEEFCAFE and 0xf00dd00d (using 0 for O). Here are some examples, which also use decimal digits to represent numbers.

I recently came across a clever hexadecimal word that was unfamiliar to me. It's used as a domain name -- I found it while looking for information on how to stop referrer spam -- and in eight hex digits it sums up an important programming truth.

0xDECAFBAD

I couldn't agree more.

The site is worth a look around for those interested in creative ways to piece together different web tools to make interesting new things happen. And if you don't mind a couple of bad words, he has some sound advice for bloggers trying to figure out what to write about:

I haven’t been writing a lot here, but things have been percolating in my head. I’ve gone through phases of wanting this place to be a bit of a techie zine, I’ve been in a funk, and lately I’ve been telling myself that I should blog like no one’s watching....

The way I perceive this whole blogosphere working, long term, is for bloggers to read some Joseph Campbell and “Follow Your Bliss”. You could serve the whims of “traffic” for awhile, but if it’s not following your bliss, you’ll get tired of keeping up. But if you hook into your bliss, there’s bound to be traffic-a-plenty coming just to watch you do your own funky breakdance on that piece of cardboard you threw down on your domain name.

I hereby give myself permission to write about whatever the heck I feel like writing about. (But don't worry, I will still keep you up-to-date on Tulsa news, although lately that's less like dancing and more like a slog through the Slough of Despond.)

Scott Ott of the satirical website ScrappleFace has posted the definitive obituary for the father of deconstructionism, which begins:

(2004-10-10) -- French President Jacques Chirac announced today that Jacques Derrida, the father of the intellectual movement called deconstructionism, died yesterday of pancreatic cancer, "if indeed 'death' can be said to mean anything beyond the biases of culture, language, religion and philosophy." ...

This is nice:

"Monsieur Derrida bequeathed a magnificent legacy to the global intellectual community," said Mr. Chirac. "He has provided us all with the intellectual infrastructure to prevent us from seeking after truth."

Go read the whole thing.

The Whirled's page one headline this morning (jump page here) is the formation of a PAC to prosecute a recall against Tulsa City Councilors Jim Mautino and Chris Medlock.

Come back later to read my comments on it.

Who's behind the recall?

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The recall effort against two members of the Reform Alliance majority on the Tulsa City Council appears to be moving forward, with backing from leaders of the Tulsa Metro Chamber and an attorney with connections to R. Louis Reynolds, the real estate attorney whose reappointment to the city's water board was denied by the City Council majority.

Councilors Chris Medlock and Jim Mautino received phone calls Saturday afternoon from Tulsa Whirled reporter P. J. Lassek, asking for comment on news that an organization has emerged to push for a recall of Medlock and Mautino. The group is calling itself the Coalition for Responsible Government 2004, and the registered agents for the group are Herbert P. Haschke, Jr., and Jon Davidson. (UPDATE 10/10/2004: According to the Whirled's story, the group has filed as an issues PAC with Davidson as chairman and Haschke as treasurer.)

Here's what we know so far about Mr. Haschke. He is a member of the board of the Tulsa Authority for the Recovery of Energy (TARE), which controls the city's trash system and the trash-to-energy plant. Haschke was first appointed to the board by former Mayor Susan Savage and confirmed on October 8, 1998, and reappointed by her in 2001. His term expired on July 1, 2004, and so far Mayor LaFortune has not reappointed him or appointed a replacement for him. Stephen Schuller and Sharon King Davis are two of his current colleagues on the TARE board. Lou Reynolds, the attorney who was rejected for reappointment to the Tulsa Metropolitan Utility Authority (TMUA), served with him on TARE until Savage appointed Reynolds to the TMUA in January of 2002.

Haschke and Lou Reynolds have another connection. On March 27, 1995, Haschke, Reynolds, and David Cox incorporated The Commercial Real Estate Association of Tulsa, Inc. Haschke is also listed as registered agent for the association.

Haschke, 65, is registered to vote at 4311 East 68th Place. That address is on the same block as 4345 East 68th Place, the address at which City Council Chairman Randy Sullivan is registered to vote. (It is believed that since his divorce, Councilor Sullivan no longer lives at that address. Sullivan's current address is not known, but he has been spotted frequently in the 91st & Yale area, outside his district.)

Haschke is president of the board of directors of Hospice of Green Country. You can see a picture of him here. (The list of guests in that article is interesting -- a who's who of leading Democratic activists and donors, including Coleman and Sharon King Davis, Jim and Sally Frasier, Jim East and Kim Holland, Norma and Steve Turnbo. And Tracy Lorton Salisbury, daughter of Whirled publisher Robert Lorton, receives a prominent mention.)

Here's a Google cache of a Texas Monthly article that mentioned a Price Waterhouse partner named Herb Haschke, who was named in a 1990 lawsuit by Willie Nelson for leading Nelson, in the early '80s, to invest in tax shelters that proved to be financial disasters that only deepened Nelson's problems with the IRS. Tulsa's Herb Haschke is a tax attorney, so this may very well be the same person.

An interesting coincidence: A search of voter registration records turns up someone in Wagoner County named Terry Haschke Studenny. We don't know at this point if this person is related to either Herb Haschke or J. Richard Studenny, attorney for the Tulsa Industrial Authority, Tulsa Airport Authority, and Tulsa Airport Improvement Trust.

(Studenny's dismissal was to be considered last Thursday, but the special meeting of TAIT -- called by Mayor LaFortune -- had to be canceled for lack of a quorum, when board member Ron Turner was prevented from returning to Tulsa because of inclement weather.)

Jon Davidson is the Vice Chairman of the Board of the Tulsa Metro Chamber overseeing the Convention and Visitors Bureau, and he is general manager of the Sheraton Hotel Tulsa, a position he has held since the fall of 1995. Some of the City of Tulsa's hotel/motel tax dollars go to the Chamber for support of the Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Earlier this week, Tulsa Metro Chamber CEO Jay Clemens and Chairman Bob Poe (a lifelong Democrat) met for three hours with Tulsa County Republican Chairman Don Burdick, trying to persuade Burdick to support the recall of Republicans Medlock and Mautino or at least not publicly oppose their
recall. Burdick has publicly stated that he opposes any recall and worked to get the support of Republican elected officials for a statement opposing any recall. During the meeting the chamber officals suggested (perhaps in jest) that they should get a high paying job for Medlock so that he wouldn't spend so much time and work so hard at being a Councilor. Asked to comment on this, Medlock joked that if the job was to replace Jay Clemens, and it would get Clemens out of town, he might take the position. (UPDATE 10/11/2004: Don Burdick has sent me a statement about the meeting, which you can find here.)

Stay tuned for more information as it becomes available.

The cover story in this week's issue of the Oklahoma Gazette, Oklahoma City's alternative weekly, is about blogs, specifically Oklahoma bloggers who comment on the news and it features quotes from Dustbury's Charles G. Hill, Mike from OkieDoke, and yours truly.

I spoke to Gazette reporter Deborah Benjamin a couple of weeks ago, and it was obvious from her questions that she had done her homework on the subject. There are a lot of angles you could take with a story on blogs. Deborah's focus is on the role of blogs as watchdogs and supplements to the traditional mainstream media.

The story begins with a recounting of how bloggers picked up on comments made by Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott at a reception in honor of Sen. Strom Thurmond. The mainstream media was there, but for whatever reason chose not to report the remarks or give them any prominence.

Much of the focus on blogs recently has been about their fact-checking function, displayed prominently in the recent CBS memos scandal, but the Lott/Thurmond story illustrates another way in which blogs help to balance the media.

One of the ways media bias infects news reporting is in story selection and the selection of details to report in any given story. Story selection can be deliberately slanted, but often I think it happens subconsciously. A reporter is observing an event through his own frame of reference, and a story or a detail just doesn't register as important, even though it might be interesting or crucial for some in the reporter's audience. This is one way blogs serve the public -- bloggers can glean the cutting room floor of the mainstream media, and put the lost details out there to be found by others who will also find them significant. Key facts are rescued from burial next to the classified section and given prominence.

Thanks to Mike from OkieDoke for calling attention to the story. There are some comments on his entry which are worth reading as well.

Vote for Tulsa's Zoo!

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The Tulsa Zoo is one of 15 semi-finalists in Microsoft's "America's Favorite Zoo" competition. Online voting between now and October 29 will determine the five finalists, and then another round of online voting will determine the winner. Tulsa is up against several other zoos in the region, including the Oklahoma City Zoo. Here's the complete list:

Austin Zoo Binder Park Zoo Brookfield Zoo Cleveland Metroparks Zoo Dallas Zoo Fort Worth Zoo Los Angeles Zoo North Carolina Zoo Oakland Zoo Oklahoma City Zoo & Botanical Gardens Oregon Zoo Palm Beach Zoo San Francisco Zoo Toledo Zoo Tulsa Zoo

To be included in the contest, zoos had to submit entry materials, which probably accounts for the absence of world-famous facilities like the National Zoo, the San Diego Zoo, and the Saint Louis Zoo.

Here's what is at stake: The winning zoo gets a $25,000 grant.

So Tulsa readers (or other readers without a rooting interest), click here and cast your vote!

The Tulsa Whirled editorial board apparently will do and say anything to make sure that Little Boy Brad Carson is elected to the Senate so that the Senate will be controlled again by the liberal Democrats.

The latest lie is in today's lead editorial:

Carson has received an A-plus rating from Americans For Better Immigration, a strong immigration watchdog lobby....

Coburn, on the other hand, voted against or worked against measures that would have made it harder to hire illegal immigrants. He received a D-plus rating from Americans for Better Immigration.

So I visited the website of Americans for Better Immigration (ABI) to see who this group is. Just because the Whirled says this group is a strong immigration watchdog lobby doesn't mean that's necessarily so.

I was surprised to see that they were completely wrong about the ratings Coburn and Carson received. While it's technically true that Carson received "an A+" and Coburn received "a D+" among the nine individual category grades, the editorial creates the impression that those are the candidates' overall scores. In fact, they both got B+ overall. The ABI gave Democrat Brad Carson a B+ overall, with an F- in one category for his support for amnesty for illegal aliens. The ABI also gave Republican Tom Coburn a career B+, including an A+ for opposing amnesty. You can visit each page and there's a link for more details about what each one supported and opposed. Both Carson and Coburn received six A+s in various categories.

ABI appears to oppose all immigration, including the immigration of the sort of bright, skilled, and energetic people that have helped fuel our nation's high tech sector. That's an area where Tom Coburn disagrees with the ABI, and I think Coburn is right. I know that our company has benefited from the expertise and innovation of highly-talented foreign-born engineers.

But the main thing to notice is that the Whirledlings took a press release from Brad Carson's campaign and ran it as their editorial opinion without doing their own factchecking. This appears to be a common practice for them -- at least one of the editorial writers has won an award from an organization for doing nothing more than rewriting their press releases into editorials.

UPDATE: Charles G. Hill has read the editorial and expresses his amazement.

Let's you and him fight

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Here the Reform Alliance on the Council and Mayor LaFortune are trying to work together to move the city forward, and KRMG seems to be trying to get the Mayor and Council to start fighting each other with a poll on their homepage that sets LaFortune against "Chris Medlock & 4 other city councilors". Here's the question:

What's Best For Tulsa? Chris Medlock & 4 other City Council members are calling for reforms; Mayor Bill LaFortune & the Tulsa Chamber say they're trying to stunt Tulsa's growth. Who's right?

Medlock
The Mayor
Neither

When I voted, the totals were Medlock with 58%, the Mayor with 30%, and 12% undecided.

Interesting that they are singling out Medlock rather than referring to all five in the list of allowed answers. Also interesting that they say "The Mayor" for the second answer rather than "The Mayor and the Chamber."

You suppose someone out there has an interest in ensuring that the Mayor and the City Council majority never get along?

Studenny not fired?

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There was a report that Richard Studenny, the attorney who works as a contract employee of the Tulsa Industrial Authority and the Tulsa Airports Improvements Trust (TAIT), would be fired today at a meeting of TAIT. It didn't happen, and the word is that the Trust didn't have a quorum present, because board member Ron Turner couldn't make it back from Chicago because of weather.

I apologize for the delay in posting this.

I started Tuesday evening at Tulsa City Councilor Jim Mautino's District 6 town hall meeting (written up here), then made it to Hicks Park about 20 minutes into Councilor Sam Roop's meeting. There were about 40 people there, plus a couple of news cameras, and I was pleasantly surprised to see Mayor Bill LaFortune sitting in the back row. A dozen or so were people I recognized as being from outside the district, there just to give Sam their support. Mona Miller of Homeowners for Fair Zoning held a sign saying "Sam's the Man!"

Councilor Roop's talk covered public safety, the proposed general obligation bond issue for infrastructure, and the negative impact that passage of the tobacco tax and the gambling propositions will have on city sales tax revenues. Mayor LaFortune expressed agreement that these propositions would hurt the city's bottom line.

Roop expressed support for the idea of taking a portion of the "third penny" and using it as a dedicated revenue source for police and fire. He or the Mayor (I forget who) pointed out that we are nearing the end of our sewer obligation -- an unfunded Federal mandate that has required us to dedicate a large portion of the third penny funds to sewer system improvements. As that obligation goes away, that could free up enough of the next third-penny to fund public safety and still fund the same amount of long-term capital improvements as in the past, without raising the overall tax burden.

Councilor Roop mentioned that he and the Mayor and some other councilors had had a meeting on Monday, and that there had been a frank but constructive exchange of views. When Sam yielded the floor to the Mayor, I think we got a sense of what was discussed.

The Mayor reaffirmed his opposition to any and all efforts to recall city officials and he spoke of signing a pledge to that effect and pledging to cooperate with the Council for the good of the city.

The Mayor expressed his agreement with the Council majority that candidates for appointment to authorities, boards, and commissions should provide full disclosure of any potential conflict of interest.

Regarding the issue of water lines to the suburbs, the Mayor praised Councilor Chris Medlock's idea that a higher rate of return on new water lines (13% instead of 10%) could compensate the City for lower sales tax revenue resulting from suburban retail growth, and could be used to build out the water and sewer system to connect areas within the city limits that are still unserved.

In speaking of the friction between the Council's Reform Alliance majority and the administration, the Mayor said there were times when the administration should have done a better job of getting responsive, relevant, and timely information to the councilors in response to their questions, and that he should have involved the Councilors before controversial matters like the north Tulsa County annexation proposal were made public. He said that the bond issue is an example of the right way to do it, meeting with Councilors early in the process to get their input.

The Mayor defended the new pay scheme for the police -- the arbitrator chose the City's plan rather than the FOP's plan. I found it hard to follow the figures without being able to see anything in writing. It would be nice to see a chart showing what the officers make now, what they would make under the administration's plan, and what they would make under the FOP plan, and all of it in dollars, not percentages, just to be clear. The Mayor pointed out the sacrifices that non-public safety city employees have made, and said we had to find some money to restore part of what they have lost over the last few years of shortfalls.

The Mayor and Councilor Roop spoke of a proposed charter change that would remove civil service protection for managers in city government above a certain level, basically those managers in a policy-making position, so that they would serve at the pleasure of the Mayor rather than be insulated from accountability by civil service protections. Right now, the Mayor has very little leverage to ensure that city departments are carrying out the policies we elected him to pursue. If a department manager won't or can't comply, the Mayor has very little recourse, which means that the people who are directly in charge of city government aren't even indirectly accountable to the citizens. This is a great and long-overdue idea, and I stand ready to give it my full support.

(There's a theory going around that some City Hall bureaucrats are deliberately feeding conflicting information to the Mayor and the Councilors to get them fighting each other, as part of a strategy to discredit them both and help usher in a Democratic mayor like State Secretary of Commerce Kathy Taylor or maybe even old Slewfoot Savage her infernal self.)

I came away encouraged that the Mayor understands what is at stake and that he is prepared to work with and publicly show support for the Reform Alliance councilors, our "Five Star Councilors".

How Berkeley Can You Be

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Saint Kansas links to photos from last month's "How Berkeley Can You Be? Parade". Berkeley, aka Bezerkely, is home to the main campus of the University of California and is the proud capital of the Left Coast, a place so far out that it makes Cambridge, Mass., look like Altus, Oklahoma.

There are a lot of laughs here for those of us who don't have to live there, but it's obvious that the kids who are involved -- passing out anti-circumcision literature for example -- are pretty weirded out by what their polyamorist parents (two mommies, three daddies) dragged them into.

I really liked the photo of the wild-eyed Commie ranting into her megaphone.

Before I give you the link, be warned that you will find a small amount of nudity, as you might expect in a Berkeley parade. Be assured that you will find it not the least bit arousing.

Here it is.

Does Tulsa have to have parades like this in order to attract The Creative Class?

This last week I've received some very welcome encouragement at a time when I've been feeling pretty worn out and discouraged. I'm grateful to those of you who came up to me at last week's rally and other events to say hello and tell me that you read and enjoy BatesLine.

I'm also especially thankful to the four folks who have supported this site financially, both in person and via the PayPal link on the right side of the home page. It's enough to cover a few months of hosting fees and to cover a nice evening out for me and the missus. (Shh, don't tell -- it's a surprise!)

September was a record month for traffic, with an average of 799 visits a day, and rising over the course of the month. Many thanks to everyone who visits and visits regularly. Many thanks, too, to blogs like Spot On, Dustbury, Wizbang (responsible for the RNC Bloggers aggregation), Dead to Self, OkieDoke, the Tulsan (which I realize is not a blog), and the unofficial Coburn for Senate blog for linking to BatesLine and driving a lot of traffic this way. And for some reason, I got over 100 referrals in September from the website of the International Atomic Energy Agency. I could never find a reference on their site, but thanks for the referrals all the same.

No thank you list would be complete without Michael DelGiorno, Program Director Brian Gann, and the whole team at Talk Radio 1170 KFAQ. I'm grateful to have a weekly opportunity to chat with Michael and to speak to Tulsa's largest talk radio audience. A lot of people have found me through the station and its website. (I have heard from a few people who found out about KFAQ through BatesLine.com!)

So how can you help keep BatesLine running strong?

Although the direct cost of running the site is pretty low, the time I spend researching and writing imposes an indirect cost -- those are hours I'm not working overtime, and some chores I might do myself, I pay others to take care of if they're urgent (or they just don't get done).

It wouldn't take much to make a difference. If everyone who visited the site at least once in the month of September dropped $10 using the PayPal button, I could quit my job and do this full time for a year. Well, I don't know that I'd quit the day job (I like my coworkers, the work is interesting, and the benefits are good), but I'd feel a lot less guilty about spending more time working to keep you informed.

If I could raise enough funds, I'd love to be able to subscribe to some online research services, which would help me dig into things without having to find time to get to the library.

Whether you can donate financially or not, one of the ways you can support this site is by visiting every day -- I've been posting something new every night -- and encouraging your friends to do the same. As the number of visits rises, so will the rates I'll be able to charge for ads. I hadn't considered advertising before, but I've been contacted by people who want to advertise on the site, promoting messages and products that are compatible with my values. (You will not see a "John Kerry for President" or a "Carrie Bradshaw for President" ad on this site.) So I'm in the process of getting that set up.

It's Wictory Wednesday again, a weekly spotlight on a Republican candidate in a key Senate race, hosted by dozens of blogs.

The spotlight race this week is in North Carolina, the open seat being vacated by Democrat VP candidate John Edwards, pitting Republican Congressman Richard Burr against former Clinton Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles. Bowles got off to an early lead, but Burr has closed the gap. Your contribution could help put him over the top. North Carolina is a solid state for W, but W needs the support of a solid Senate majority. Click here to contribute to the Richard Burr campaign. Every little bit helps.

Below is the list of blogs participating in Wictory Wednesdays. If you're a blogger and would like to join in, e-mail PoliPundit at wictory@blogsforbush.com.

Halliburton: The awful "truth"

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After the fair Jessica reads what Frank J. has written, will she still heart Halliburton? Frank J. wants to relate some things you may not have known about Halliburton (mainly because they aren't true):

* Halliburton gets its name from the last name of Lucifer Halliburton, prince of darkness.

* The cross Christ was crucified on - all Halliburton. They had sole-source on that for the Romans.

* In Iraq, Halliburton has a couple people instructed to bang a hammer against pieces of wood to pretend they're constructing something while the rest of the employees work on stealing all that sweet, sweet oil.

* Halliburton saves money on labor by using slave labor. They save money on slave drivers by just giving whips to angry gorillas.

Go read it all.

Scott Sala of Slant Point reports that New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg isn't willing to help Republicans get elected in local races, so New York Republicans need to band together and make it happen themselves:

One of the best opinion-shaping methods is endorsements. With a Republican mayor, you'd think he could help propel Republicans into a few offices this year, especially after a pretty decent term and a successful RNC Convention. But he refuses to do so.

Bloomberg is claiming to simply desire to keep his voting private. This is a load of crap. He chose to be a politician and courted the Republican Party to do so. He won, with our help. Now, Mr. Mayor, help us....

Well, Mr. Bloomberg, you are not a Republican. You wear our clothes, come to our parties and smile when we enter the room, but you offer sporadic help at best. Yes, thank you for helping put on an amazing convention. But that was not only supposed to get Bush re-elected, but also propel the Republican Party within New York City forward.

We were moving, but like the morning commute you and nearly every other New York takes every day, the train just jerked. You pulled the emergency brake and left us with coffee spilled on our clothes, sweat building up, tempers flaring, and ultimately our candidates will be late for their interviews.

And Republicans will not get the job.

Bloomberg's distance from the party is no surprise, but it is a momentum killer. The convention brought a lot of NYC Republicans up from the catacombs, and Bloomberg could have been part of mobilizing them to help local candidates. Instead, with no clear direction from party leaders and elected officials, talented and energetic young Republicans are headed elsewhere to try to make a difference. (E.g. Karol, who has gone to Colorado, and Jessica, who is heading to Iowa.)

Crusades in context

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Just noticed a couple of items that Discoshaman posted before he and TulipGirl and family left for two weeks' holiday in Egypt. Discoshaman has a way of getting right to the point, for example, putting Arab complaints about the Crusades into perspective:

Liberals, and the 3rd World bigots they pander to, can't shut up about the Crusades. Listening to them, one would think Western Europe decided to annex the Holy Land on some sort of ecclesiastical lark.

Lost somehow is the fact that the Crusades, while not politely conducted, were only a minor counter-offensive in a 1400 year history of almost unbroken aggression against Christians by militant Islam. Do these idiots never stop and ask HOW there were Arabs in a former Roman colony to begin with?

He provides details and makes the connection to the Western left's impulse to cultural suicide.

Then there's a nice, concise five-point breakdown of what Rathergate was really all about. Hint: It wasn't just an "oopsie, my bad" on the part of CBS. The item begins with this paragraph, which concludes with a wonderful turn of phrase:

It's possible to interpret Rathergate as a mere journalistic fumble, but it requires a childlike faith. A more rational interpretation is this: it's a clear-cut example of what conservatives face every election cycle -- a constant headwind from the blowhards of the Fourth Estate.

Nice. The shaman and his girl should be back and posting again any day now -- looking forward to it.

Little Boy Brad's role model

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On the drive to school this morning:

Joe: "I hope President Bush is going to win."

Dad: "I think he will. It's looking better all the time. But I'm not sure if Tom Coburn will beat Brad Carson. That race is really important."

Joe: "Brad Carson sure lies a lot."

Dad: "Yeah. He tells a lot of half-truths. Do you know what a half-truth is?"

Joe: "No."

Dad: "It's when you say something that's true, but you leave out some important information that would change the way people would think about what you told them. It's not giving them the whole picture."

Dad: "I'm trying to think of a good example...."

Joe: "The serpent in the garden?"

Heh.


Tonight I attended parts of two town hall meetings, held by Tulsa City Councilors Jim Mautino and Sam Roop. Mayor Bill LaFortune was at Sam Roop's meeting too, both as a listener and as a speaker. I came away feeling hopeful and optimistic.

Councilor Mautino's District 6 meeting at East Central High School started at 7, a half-hour before Councilor Roop's meeting, so I started out there.

If you've been around Jim Mautino for any length of time, you know that he has a passion for seeing east Tulsa developed. He looks at open fields and sees untapped potential. But he is not willing to see east Tulsa's rolling terrain filled with whatever junk the rest of the city doesn't want. East Tulsa's development can be done in a way that results in a pleasant place to live, work, and do business. It can be done in a strategic way that makes the most of 200,000 cars a day that travel I-44 between the I-244 junction and the US 412 / Creek Turnpike junction -- the busiest section of road in the state -- and translates that traffic into retail sales and sales tax revenue for the city. That's Jim's vision, and as a councilor he's working to ensure that the planning and infrastructure are in place to make this happen.

Councilor Mautino began his town hall meeting -- about 60 were in attendance, a good turnout -- with a presentation, centered around a map of the district. He pointed out areas where new sewer and water lines are going in. He talked of a couple of industrial businesses that were going to be forced to relocate out of Tulsa unless they could get hooked up to the city sewer. The sewer is there now and should help encourage more industrial development in the same area.

Councilor Mautino explained Owasso's retail development strategy, using the roads as a funnel to capture shoppers' dollars from the north, before the shoppers can get to the stores in Tulsa. He pointed out that the road network in east Tulsa could be used to create a similar funnel to capture retail dollars from people traveling through Tulsa or coming into the area from the northeast and east.

Councilor Mautino talked about the former town of Fair Oaks in Wagoner County, annexed to Tulsa in 2001. He's working with the principal landowner and INCOG on planning for connecting roads to encourage retail development along our section of Creek Turnpike. Jim sees the retail potential of the I-44 corridor in east Tulsa -- now mainly auto auctions and trucking related. He'd like to make five-laning Admiral Boulevard a priority, to encourage retail development. He wants Tulsa to work aggressively to get outdoor outfitter Cabela's to locate a retail store in east Tulsa, instead of letting Owasso or Jenks get it and all the sales tax revenue. He spoke of a variety of infrastructure priorities for the upcoming general obligation bond issue, and asked for his constituents' input on projects that matter to them.

I had to leave to go to Councilor Roop's meeting, but in the 40 minutes I was there, I was impressed by Councilor Mautino's mastery of policy details and the clarity of his explanations, working without notes -- just the map on the screen and a laser pointer. While Jim seemed a bit nervous at Wednesday's rally, tonight he was quite relaxed. In dealing with some of the controversy, he tried to steer clear of us vs. them language and to focus on the substance of the matter.

I'm too tired to write any more, and Councilor Roop's meeting deserves its own entry. I'll just say again that I was encouraged, particularly by what I heard from the Mayor.

The three rules of city comfort

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What makes a city a desirable place to live? Author David Sucher has written a book called City Comforts which tries to isolate the keys to answering the above question effectively. Here's the home page for the book:

Our purpose is to help make our urban civilization more...well...civilized. By and large our cities lack comfort and grace. Oh, they have their bright spots — and there is lots of good work being done — but overall it's pretty dreary.

The 'theory' of this book is that we don't pay attention to the small details of cities that really make the difference in our comfort. We spend a lot of time planning, a lot of time thinking about how wonderful it could all be. But we don't spend a whole lot of effort dealing with the thousands of small details that make up our daily experience. We are great on large-scale strategy and a bit inept at tactics.

There are many people all across the world who see both the poverty of our urban environments and see a way to evolve out of it. Speaking loosely, this approach can be called 'the new urbanism.' (I say loosely because there are many threads to this emerging urban tapestry and some pull in different directions. But they are all tied together by the desire to create cities built to human scale, where people can walk and where there is a sense of community.)

The simple patterns and simple details shown in City Comforts are not any panacea but they provide a framework for judging new construction, for separating the simple but crucial patterns from the trivial matters of style. This simple framework asks us to examine a very few elements of the urban landscape but it will go a long way to improve our cities.

He's got a blog which covers urban design issues, as well as other topics:

What is this blog about? Cities, architecture, the 'new urbanism,' real estate, historic preservation, urban design, land use law, landscape, transport etc etc from a mildly libertarian stance. Our response to problems of human settlement is not "better planning" and a bigger budget for local government. But alas, conservative and libertarian (not the same, to be sure) response to shaping our cities is too often barren and in denial. Our goal is to take part in fostering a new perspective. But not too earnestly.

I'm pleased to see someone approaching urban design issues from a libertarian stance. The centralized, mandated approach to fixing bad urban design or prescribing good urban design usually doesn't work and is foreign to America's ideal of private property rights. If anything, central planning has usually led to the destruction of good urban design and the construction of dead urban areas. Let's figure out how to work with market forces to make our cities livelier.

Sucher has a helpful blogroll of other sites dealing with the built environment and a list of his favorite blog entries. Here are a couple of recent highlights.

Here is an animated GIF illustrating the contrast between urban and sub-urban design -- it all starts with where you put the parking.

Urbtosub3th

He asks what could be done to improve the graphic, and I think there are a couple of things that would help communicate the visual impact of a huge suburban parking lot separating the pedestrian from where he wants to go.

(1) The cross-section view at the bottom would be clearer with some subtle elevation differences, for example, showing the sidewalk and bottom of the building at a slightly higher level than the street, alley, and parking lot. A tree between the pedestrian and the street might also help make the distinction.

(2) A view showing the front of the building as seen from the sidewalk would help -- the urban version with the front door and display windows right there, and the suburban version with the front of the building far in the background, with asphalt and a few cars in the foreground.

This entry contains a link to a PDF excerpt from City Comforts the book, which outlines three simple rules, which he calls "the 'pattern generator' for creating 'city-ness'". Here are the rules, all of which have to do with the relationship of the building to its surroundings, rather than building height and style:

  1. Build to the sidewalk (i.e., property line).
  2. Make the building front "permeable" (i.e., no blank walls).
  3. Prohibit parking lots in front of the building.

Some day, when I have a few minutes to spare, I hope to post some photos I took along Rue Ste. Catherine in Montréal back in July, which illustrate how buildings in a variety of styles, ages, and sizes all work together to create an interesting and pleasant place to walk, as long as the buildings adhere to those rules.

In the meantime, I've bookmarked the City Comforts blog and encourage you to visit there frequently.

Dawn Eden has been reporting on what Planned Parenthood is really up to, behind its cloak of respectability. Her latest find -- a Planned Parenthood "activism camp" in Tampa training teens how to do abortion advocacy. The source is a story in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

The Delray Beach, Florida, teens who are the subject of the story attended the are involved with a youth program called "Teen Education for Every Nationality". They attended the Tampa camp and are using the skills they acquired to do door-to-door canvassing back home:

The campers are using the skills they learned to register voters, educate people on women's health issues and discuss abortion in the run-up to the November election. They plan to continue their activities after the election as well.

When they canvass neighborhoods, the teens talk about sensitive issues, but they don't endorse candidates, said Nady Mesamour, 15, and a member of the group.

T.E.E.N. is a program of Planned Parenthood of South Palm Beach and Broward Counties. According to this report (see page CS-35), in 2003 the program received $551,473 in grant money from Broward County's Children's Services Administration. The purpose of the grant is listed as "Behavioral Health - Prevention", i.e. keeping kids out of trouble by involving them in constructive activities. One of the quality measurements established by Broward County is that "10% of Youth clients served will be involved in appropriate and supervised extra-curricular activities such as community service." The report indicates that 90% of youth clients met this requirement. Evidently, abortion indoctrination and door-to-door abortion advocacy is one of the ways participants in the program met the requirement.

What do you want to bet that even though they aren't endorsing candidates, they are "educating" voters about which candidates support Planned Parenthood's positions?

Planned Parenthood is usually more subtle in how they redirect your tax dollars to promote abortion. Planned Parenthood chapters often apply for government grants for innocuous programs, which helps pay operating overhead for the organization, and also enables them to shift donated funds toward controversial activities like abortion referrals and pro-abortion lobbying activities. Several years ago here in Tulsa, the local Planned Parenthood chapter tried to get Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) money to fund improvements to a pediatric clinic. (CDBG money comes from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development and is distributed by local government to non-profit agencies.) While such a clinic is a worthwhile cause, because money is fungible, government money for the clinic would free up private contributions for lobbying at the State Capitol. Happily, Tulsa's City Council had enough pro-life members that Planned Parenthood did not get a share of the federal grant money, and in recent years they haven't applied. (There's another reason why you should care about local government, even if your focus is on social issues.)

KFAQ has added to its page on last Wednesday's town hall meeting -- in addition to a story and a slide show of photos, they've posted audio of Councilor Chris Medlock's speech, and hope to add more speeches in the next few days. The speech is here -- it's an 18 MB MP3 file.

Councilor Sam Roop wasn't able to attend last Wednesday's town hall meeting with his reform allies, because of a previous commitment, so he's holding his own meeting Tuesday night (October 5) at 7:30 pm, in the Hicks Park recreation center near 34th & Mingo. This is a chance to give Councilor Roop your support and encouragement in thanks for his long record of working for good government at City Hall.

But if you're a resident of Council District 6, Councilor Jim Mautino would like you to join him at a District town hall meeting, a chance to hear about progress around the district, to hear about the proposed capital improvements bond issue, and to get your questions answered. Councilor Mautino's meeting will be at 7 p.m., Tuesday, October 5, at East Central High School.

Listening to the audio and attending either of these district town hall meetings are three more opportunities for you to hear for yourself what these "Five Star Councilors" are all about, unfiltered by media bias.

It's interesting to see a familiar political race through someone else's eyes. Dawn Summers takes a commendable interest in politics beyond the Hudson. She watched Sunday's "Meet the Press" debate between Tom Coburn and Little Boy Brad Carson and has a few interesting observations (hat tip to Karol for alerting me to this):

This weekend I watched Tim Russert moderate a debate between the Senate candidates from Oklahoma. Evidently, farming and roads are all the rage. Interestingly enough, the Democrat wanted to let viewers know that he supported the the Patriot Act, the prescription drug bill and the President's tax cuts.

While the Republican criticized the prescription drug bill because it would provide benefits to the wealthiest members of society who didn't need it, remained concerned about the Patriot Act because he didn't like sacrificing liberty for security and regarded the ballooning budget deficit as no less than stealing from our grandchildren.

Huh.

So, in Oklahoma, Republicans are called Democrats -- sort of middle-America's "le Big Mac," as it were.

Well, not exactly. In Little Boy Brad, you've got a liberal Democrat who knows he must pretend to be a conservative if he's going to get elected in this very conservative state. He's going as far as he can to distance himself from the Democratic ticket without technically lying about his stands on the issues.

In Dr. Coburn you've got a conservative who supports the Patriot Act but shares conservative and libertarian concerns about potential abuses, a conservative who supports government help for those who need it, but opposes fiscal irresponsibility for the burden it places on generations to come. That position, during his six years in Congress, sometimes put him at odds with Republican appropriators, who wanted to continue the time honored Democrat practice of trying to bribe the voters with their own tax dollars. Before he decided to run for Senate, Coburn wrote a no-holds-barred book about the budget battles of the last half of the 1990s, and how congressional careerism works against fiscal restraint.

Dawn continues:

Kelo v. City of New London is headed to the Supreme Court. This case is about a neighborhood in New London, Connecticut, which city officials saw fit to condemn, not because the area was blighted, not because the land was needed for widening a road or constructing an important public facility, but because the city officials thought the property would generate more tax revenue if a certain private company owned it. This abuse of property rights and the power of eminent domain is becoming increasingly common, and here's hoping the Supreme Court affirms the Bill of Rights which clearly says that government can only take private property for public use, not for someone else's private use.

The Institute for Justice is defending the rights of the small businesses and homeowners who would be displaced by this scheme. You can find their press release here, which has a link to their certiorari brief asking the Supreme Court to take the case.

Here's an excerpt from the beginning of the brief's statement:

Petitioner Wilhelmina Dery was born in her house in the Fort Trumbull neighborhood of New London, Connecticut in 1918. She lives there now, as she has for her entire life, along with her husband of over fifty years and the rest of her family. She and her neighbors, the other Petitioners in this case, stand to lose their homes through eminent domain to make way for private business development.

Mrs. Dery’s city government and a private development corporation hope that the new development projects will create more tax revenue and jobs than the homes that currently occupy this peninsula of land along the Thames River. Petitioners have poured their labor and love into their homes. They are places where they have lived for years, have raised their families, and have grown old.
Petitioners do not want money or damages. They merely seek to stop the use of eminent domain to take away their most sacred and important of possessions: their homes.

The Fort Trumbull neighborhood originally consisted of approximately 115 land parcels with a mixture of homes and small businesses. On January 18, 2000,
respondent City of New London (“the City”) adopted the Fort Trumbull Municipal Development Plan (“development plan”) as prepared by respondent New London
Development Corporation (“NLDC”), a private, nonprofit development corporation. ...

The NLDC will own the land located in the development area but lease it to private developers. App. 6. At the time of the trial, the NLDC was negotiating with Corcoran Jennison, a private developer, to enter into a ninety-nine year lease for development projects in parcels 1, 2, and 3 of the area. Under the terms of the lease, Corcoran Jennison would pay the NLDC the rent of $1 per year. Corcoran Jennison would then develop the land and select tenants for the projects. When it adopted the development plan, the City delegated to the NLDC the power of eminent domain to acquire properties within the Fort Trumbull development area. In October 2000, the NLDC voted to use eminent domain to acquire the remaining properties in the Fort Trumbull area from owners who would not sell voluntarily, including homes owned by Petitioners. Starting in
November 2000, the NLDC began to file the condemnation actions against Petitioners that gave rise to the present case. The NLDC brought all condemnation actions in this case not under Connecticut’s urban renewal law (C.G.S. Chapter 130, §§ 8-124, et seq.), which permits the use of eminent domain to clear slums or blighted areas, but rather under C.G.S. Chapter 132, §§ 8-186, et seq., which governs Municipal Development Projects.

These cases are becoming more and more common, as tax-greedy governments are willing to do anything to increase the take, even if it means throwing their own citizens out of their homes. A town in upstate New York wanted to condemn a neighborhood to allow Ikea to build a new furniture store. A southern California city tried to seize part of a church's property in order to build a Costco discount warehouse store.

You can learn more about eminent domain abuse by visiting the Castle Coalition website and the Eminent Domain Watch blog.

Just got a push-poll from the Carson campaign -- officially it was from "WC Research" and the guy claimed to be calling from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, but caller ID showed all zeroes. The two push-poll claims, which were only read if you said you were a Coburn voter and might possibly change your mind, were that Tom Coburn voted to cut Meals on Wheels and voted to cut pay for the military and to cut veterans benefits. I asked for the roll call numbers for these despicable votes, and the guy claimed to have no idea what I was talking about. I asked him if he was a Christian, and he said no. Then I asked him if he had a conscience, and told him if his superiors couldn't give him the date and roll call numbers of those votes, then they were asking him to lie and slander. He said he was only doing what he was told. I said that's what the Germans in Nazi Germany said -- we were just following orders.

I saw Brad Carson on "Meet the Press" this morning. Tim Russert called him on several of the outlandish lies and half-truths that he has been telling about Tom Coburn. Little Boy Brad just brazened it out, demonstrating a Clintonian ability to persist shamelessly in a lie. Carson even tried to peddle the old lie that Coburn called the people of Oklahoma City "crapheads". (Coburn called the legislative leadership "crapheads" for policies that hurt Oklahoma businesses. He referred to Oklahoma City as you might refer to Washington, as a figure of speech for the government in that place. Carson, who claims to be an intelligent little boy, willfully chooses to misunderstand.)

Whether it's the Cockroach Caucus here in Tulsa, or the likes of Brad Carson, these liars smear dedicated public servants, using their echo chamber in publications like the Tulsa Whirled, which has its own hidden agenda.

The only way to stop it is to make sure they lose.

Blue ribbon day was fair enough

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Spent the afternoon and evening at the Tulsa State Fair. Made the mistake of not bringing a stroller for the four-year-old. The problem wasn't so much that she got tired of walking as that she would stop holding hands and start off to the next place she wanted to go. A stroller would have contained her. When she heard one of us say we were ready to leave the petting zoo, she headed for the exit. She didn't get far before someone spotted this lost little girl and asked if she knew Mom or Dad's phone number. She said yes and pulled out the index card we had tucked into her jeans pocket with both our cell phone numbers. Reunion occurred moments later.

The highlight of the day for the parents was seeing that the eight-year-old won a blue ribbon for acrylic painting, junior division. He had really been hoping for a prize and was thrilled. (There's a $5 prize, and he was excited about that, too.)

The highlight of the day for the kids was getting their picture taken (free!) with people in Star Wars costumes. The costumed characters photo op was part of Star Wars: The Fan Experience, put together by the Tulsa Fan Force. (The club's logo features Yoda in western gear.)

That was about the only free thing we did today. We spent a buck a piece on a reptile exhibit east of the Youth Building, which was actually a pretty good value. In addition to snakes, tarantulas, lizards, and turtles, they had a baby coatimundi and a pheasant, which was about the prettiest bird I've ever seen -- iridescent blues, greens, reds, and golds.

The kids spent nearly an hour painting a small ceramic piece ($2 each). We were sorry to see the building blocks area gone -- Joseph really enjoyed that in years past. We walked through the animal barns and looked at the Angus and Longhorns and Bramhas -- saw a frustrated longhorn calf on a too-short rope butting his head against mama's side trying to get her to move just a little bit to the right and bring dinner within reach.

We visited the petting zoo and the birthing center, where we saw some adorable three-hour-old kid goats, with their sweet faces and wagging tails.

We bought 20 ride tickets for $15 bucks. Since we'd been to Bell's a few weeks ago and will be heading to Silver Dollar City later in the month, we would just be doing two or three rides each today. Joe loved watching the high flipping and spinning rides but wasn't interested in trying those himself -- he did the fun house, the "Mardi Gras" mirrored maze, and "Starship 2000", a spinning ride. He was disappointed to discover that he's an inch too short to ride the midway's Himalaya on his own.

Fair food? Some, but not much -- a corn dog, a hot dog, chocolate-and-sprinkle covered marshmallows, pork chop dinners.

I was pleased to see Jennifer, the patron saint of travel where I work, volunteering at the Republican Party's booth. You may have believed that St. Christopher was the patron saint of travellers, but I find that when business travel troubles arise, I direct my supplication unto Jennifer, and lo, problem solved.

We were at the Republican Party booth when the four-year-old spotted "dancing animals!" -- a clever sales display of animal marionnettes. We came home with two.

Not nearly enough time to browse through old magazine ads -- an extensive collection for sale, sorted by product type. I did get to look through the gas and oil ads. There were several Sinclair ads from the '40s featuring Dino the Dinosaur as the star of a comic promoting Sinclair's line of farm lubricants and pesticides. One featured a herd of cows, beleaguered by biting insects, crying out to Dino for aid. Dino came to the rescue with a can of Sinclair DDT.

We were all beat by the time we left, but we had a good time. I can't imagine not going at least once every year.

Helping Tom Coburn

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I've heard some complaints from people who have called an office of the Coburn for Senate campaign to volunteer, and instead of being plugged in immediately with something to do, they either found the office closed, left a message and never got a return call, or were told there wasn't anything for them to do.

If that was ever the case, it is no longer.

The Coburn campaign needs your help over the next week and a half on the phones. Specifically:

Tonight and for the next 7 days at Coburn's Tulsa HQ in Eton Square (8321 E. 61st, between Jason's Deli and Atlantic Sea Grill), from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. to make phone calls to voters. You'll be told who to call and what to say, so it's easy. You'll be getting an inside look at the campaign and how Oklahoma voters are responding to it. Most of all you'll be helping elect a great man who will be a leader and an agent of positive change in the U. S. Senate.

RSVP to the Coburn office by phone at 294-8352.

Having been a candidate, I know how hard it can be to organize and make the best use of people who volunteer for the campaign, so that the campaign gets the most benefit for their efforts and the volunteers have a satisfying experience and a desire to do even more. In my 2002 City Council race, Jerry Riley was my campaign manager, and he did a great job of volunteer coordination -- in fact, I met someone Wednesday night, someone I had never met in person, but who had volunteered for my campaign, who told me how impressed he was with Jerry's professionalism and organization. Terri Cleveland and Susan Hill are another couple of experienced campaign managers here in Tulsa who do a great job of lining up volunteers and putting them to work, allowing the candidates to focus on meeting the voters. This aspect of the campaign is often overlooked by campaign consultants focused on mailers and ad buys, but it's often the difference between victory and defeat.

GOP leaders?

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A sidebar to the Whirled's story on the Reform Alliance's town hall meeting (PDF here) announced that "GOP leaders plan rally backing Mayor's efforts". It was curious that the list of "GOP leaders" mentioned in the story -- ORU President Richard Roberts, Bama CEO Paula Marshall-Chapman, Howard Barnett, Nordam CEO Ken Lackey -- did not include any Republican public officials or any Republican party officers.

President Roberts has been largely quiet about politics until recent years. Paula Marshall-Chapman was chairman of the Tulsa Metro Chamber a few years ago, and was one of the signatories on the letter warning elected officials and party leaders not to get in the way of the Vision 2025 juggernaut. Barnett is part of the Jones family that once owned the Tulsa Tribune, and was Governor Frank Keating's Chief of Staff. I'm not aware of Ken Lackey's political involvement.

From what I could see, Republican grassroots and leaders alike were at the Reform Alliance's town hall meeting on Wednesday: Three of the six members of the Tulsa County Republican Central Committee -- Chairman, State Committeeman (that's me), 1st District Committeeman -- plus many people who volunteer for candidates and attend monthly Republican club luncheons, and many folks I didn't know who came to the event wearing Bush-Cheney, Tom Coburn, and John Sullivan campaign T-shirts and hats. I'm not aware that any of us were notified about or invited to this "Republican leaders" event.

This looks like something hastily assembled in response to the Reform Alliance's event, in anticipation that the Reformers would focus their fire on Mayor LaFortune. But the Reformers didn't make a target of the Mayor, and they expressed hope that they could work with the Mayor on the issues facing our city. The Reformers also expressed support for the upcoming general obligation bond issue, which the Whirled story said was mentioned prominently in the press release about the event for the Mayor.

I've heard that the Mayor's event was sparsely attended -- maybe 50 people present -- and that several of the speakers mentioned that the Mayor had personally called them to ask them to come and speak in his behalf. I'll pass along more info as I learn it.

Back in December I posted an entry about the Master Singers' Anglican chant versions of "The Shipping Forecast," later enhanced with a link to their other big hit, "The Highway Code."

This week, reader Anne Kroehle sends me a link to another interesting text set to Anglican chant: The King's Singers presenting frequency changes for BBC radio in November 1978. (She also says there was a TV version of this, and wonders if it's out there on the web somewhere.)

The site that hosts this file, Vintage Broadcasting has a wonderful and extensive collection of sound clips of test signals, start and close of day announcements, station jingles, and other bits of British radio ephemera.

Here's the page about the 1978 frequency changes with links to the King's Singers' piece mentioned above, final broadcasts before the changes, and first broadcasts on the new stations.

Here's a page about the BBC Light Programme, with two stirring but very different arrangements of the "Oranges and Lemons" station theme from the '40s or '50s. I can imagine someone getting chills hearing these again, after all these years.

I still get a little thrill hearing "Lilliburlero". When I was in 5th or 6th grade, I asked for and got a shortwave receiver. I scanned the dial between sunset and bedtime, picking up Radio Nederlands English language programming, Radio Canada, Deutsche Welle, the Armed Forces Radio and Television Service, Voice of America, and sometimes more exotic stations like Kol Israel. But the signal I religiously sought was that of the BBC World Service. The top of every hour began with the announcer saying, "This is London," followed immediately by "Lilliburlero", then several timing pips, and the announcer again, "Oh-four hours Greenwich Mean Time. BBC World Service. The news, read by...." In the days before cable news and the Internet, the BBC's shortwave broadcasts were a window on the wider world. Now, of course, you can listen to all the BBC's stations, including the domestic stations, over the Internet.

UPDATE 2009/03/16: vintagebroadcasting.org.uk disappeared; changed URLs to www.zen77094.zen.co.uk/vintagebroadcasting/

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

September 2004 is the previous archive.

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