November 2004 Archives

It's cute in a pathetic sort of way that on a day with major world news like the ongoing election crisis in Ukraine, the Tulsa Whirled would use its Sunday edition front page lead story to spin the Great Plains Airlines mess to make the Whirled look less evil.

The message of the Sunday lead story (jump page here) is this: The Whirled wants you to believe that no one (especially not the Whirled, which owned a majority of the preferred stock at the time, but failed to disclose this fact for another two and a half years) deceived the City Council in November 2000 into approving the complex deal to finance Great Plains with city property as collateral. As evidence, they feature the two councilors out of nine who voted against the scheme. Clay Bird, now on Mayor Bill LaFortune's staff, and Randi Miller, now a Tulsa County Commissioner, are quoted as saying, in essence, that because they appreciated the risks involved and voted accordingly, that the councilors who voted for the transaction have no right to claim that information was withheld or distorted.

Remember that in November 2000, Tulsans defeated "It's Tulsa's Time," the second attempt to fund a new downtown sports arena with a city sales tax increase. One of the chairmen of that "vote no" effort was former City Streets Commissioner Jim Hewgley. When the Great Plains proposal was under discussion, Hewgley, who was dismissed as a naysayer by the Whirled, KRMG, Mayor Savage and her machine, and the big shots at the Tulsa Metro Chamber, tried to talk to several of the councilors to explain the flaws and risks in the plan. Bird and Miller heeded the advice of Hewgley and voted against the Great Plains scheme.

The Whirled story says that then-Council Attorney Bob Garner "provide[d] information about the risks of startup airlines." I have a lot of respect for Mr. Garner, and I'm not surprised he thought the deal was a bad idea and told the councilors so.

So why did the other seven councilors ignore the advice of sensible men like Bob Garner and Jim Hewgley? This is the part of the story the Whirled doesn't want to and won't bother to tell.

The voices of the skeptics were drowned out by a powerful chorus consisting of Mayor Savage, the Tulsa Whirled, the Tulsa Metro Chamber bureaucrats, and a gaggle of PR professionals, all singing the praises of this tremendous opportunity to invest in Tulsa's future, an opportunity that we dare not pass by. You will look in vain through the Whirled's archives for any hint of skepticism or dissent about the plan prior to the Council's vote. Whatever warnings were given by Bob Garner went unreported. The financial information and the investor lists, if indeed they were given to the Council, went unreported. Instead, you'll find items like the Whirled's November 28, 2000, editorial, urging the Council to approve the Great Plains scheme:

Ukraine update


Ukraine may be headed for a rerun of the runoff election. That at least is the likeliest, happiest outcome of the current crisis. Discoshaman and TulipGirl continue to post regularly. Discoshaman has some photos up on his blog, as well as the third installment of his series on how and why the election was stolen. TulipGirl links to a wonderful story about a revolutionary babushka, an answer to the misapprehension that Ukraine is a mere pawn in a struggle between Russia and the west.

They link to many more blogs and news sources, including SCSU Scholars blog (which has some interesting maps illustrating the likely pattern of voter fraud) and Orange Ukraine, which has a comparison of Russian and American involvement in the Ukraine election.

You'll shoot your eye out, kid!


Back Friday evening from a short trip to Rogers, Arkansas, where we spent Thanksgiving Day with my wife's family. After the threat of snow on Wednesday, the weather was nice, with blue skies and beautiful sunsets.

Friday afternoon, my wife and I took a walk around downtown Rogers. Although Rogers must be one of the worst-planned cities in America, turning two decades of phenomenal growth and prosperity into ugly strip development that would make notably foul-mouthed urban critic Jim Kunstler invent new swear words and that will create traffic nightmares for years to come, Rogers has managed to preserve its old downtown. Not only are most of the 1890s buildings intact, they are filled with shops, offices, restaurants, and one interesting museum.

Downtown Rogers is home to the Daisy Museum, which displays the history of the famous air gun manufacturer, founded in Plymouth, Michigan, but since the late '50s based in Rogers. It's a well-organized and nicely displayed collection. As you'd expect the museum displays just about every product Daisy ever made, as well as air guns from the 18th and 19th centuries.

Even if you don't care about the guns, it's worth the visit to see the ads on display -- ads that put Daisy's products in the context of the hopes and dreams of American boys. There were ads for the Red Ryder carbine. For a 3-cent stamp, the ad explained, a boy could send off for a "Christmas reminder kit" -- cards with preprinted messages to Dad explaining the benefits of buying a Red Ryder carbine for you for Christmas. Leave one under the milk bottle or in Dad's easy chair.

Daisy didn't just target kids with their pitches: There was a cartoon ad showing a party of grownups happily firing a Daisy Targeteer, a low-powered air pistol, at a "targette", right there in the living room. Wifey sends hubby out for sandwiches -- the guests are having too much fun to leave.

(I wonder if Lileks has any Daisy ads in his collection. Maybe he can combine a visit to the museum with a tour of the bunny-sundering plant a few blocks away.)

In anticipation of Christmas, a leg lamp (the sort made famous in the movie "A Christmas Story") is on display in the front window of the museum, next to a special collector's edition set of Red Ryder and Little Beaver guns.

Also on display was Daisy's "American Boys' Bill of Rights":

WE, THE BOYS OF AMERICA - believe in these our rights: The right to Liberty, hard won by our forefathers + the right to happiness that comes with the growth of a healthy body & mind + the right to training, thoughtfully planned by parents, school & church + the right to opportunity, to live, learn, play and grown up in the time-honored traditions of a free people + and the right to learn to shoot safely. We recognize and accept the responsibility imposed by those Rights. But until we are old enough to vote we expect YOU, our fathers and mothers and other citizens who elect America's city, county, state & federal officers + to be eternally vigilant that our Rights be not abridged!

Daisy had marketing tie-ins not only with Red Ryder (comic strip and western movie series), but with Buck Rogers and Disney, too. There's a cute picture of Bobby and Annette in cowboy duds with Daisy guns in their holsters.

Daisy is still making guns, although they moved production from Rogers to Neosho, Missouri, some years ago.

A few doors down from the Daisy Museum is the old Victory Theatre. Not that many years ago it was a flea market -- used books, antiques, old records. Now it has been splendidly restored and is home to the Rogers Little Theatre.

Over on 1st Street, there's the Iron Horse Coffee Company, which has WiFi as well as coffee.

We walked into a western store and saw signs of the changing demographics of the area. The local Spanish language radio station was playing, and many of the displays for the cowboy duds were in Spanish rather than English. A mile or so west on Walnut, the Harp's Supermarket -- a typically sized supermarket from the '60s, part of a long-established area chain -- is now Harp's Supermercado. Panaderias are sprouting up around town, too.

We saw more than we wanted of the hideous strip development that now links Bentonville and Rogers along old US 71 as we looked for a place to eat lunch. The Thai restaurant we wanted to try was closed for the weekend, the AQ Chicken House in Bentonville appears to have burned to the ground, Doe's Eat Place was closed -- perhaps not open for lunch -- and we ended up in Abuelo's Mexican Embassy.

Liquor-by-the-wink is alive and well in Benton County. As we entered Abuelo's, we were asked for our membership card. I said we had no intention of ordering alcohol, but in a "dry" county, only private clubs can sell alcohol, and you can't enter a private club without being a member. So we had to fill out a slip of paper (the membership application) at the hostess' station before we were admitted. Many restaurants in the area have message boards with the legend, in very small type, "Attention Members and Guests" -- since a private club would not be advertising to non-members, right?

That's all for now. Light blogging over the next couple of days, as job demands take over. Thanks for your patience.

Show your support for Ukraine


Amelia Hunt has created some logos you can display to show support for democracy for Ukraine. I'm displaying one above. You can find them here. Hat tip to Fire Ant Gazette.

Readings for Thanksgiving

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Some reading material for Thanksgiving Day:

Pilgrim Hall has the only two primary source accounts of the first Thanksgiving in Plimouth Plantation, and the text of every Presidential Thanksgiving proclamation.

Here is President Lincoln's 1863 Thanksgiving proclamation, which counts the nation's blessings in the midst of war. Lincoln begins:

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. is a website devoted to the history of the Mayflower and the Pilgrims. The site has the full text of some books and letters written by the Pilgrims.

Karol of Alarming News, who was born in the Soviet Union, tells us what she's thankful for.

Here's a photo from a big family dinner on Thanksgiving Day 1945 at the Waldorf-Astoria. And another dinner from the same year.

For the 44th year, the Wall Street Journal publishes its traditional pair of Thanksgiving editorials: "The Desolate Wilderness," "And the Fair Land." The former is Nathaniel Morton's contemporaneous account of the Pilgrims' tearful departure from Delftshaven and what they saw upon their arrival in the New World. The latter piece is an editorial, ever-timely though first published in 1961, in tribute to what the Pilgrims and their heirs have built in the desolate wilderness:

But we can all remind ourselves that the richness of this country was not born in the resources of the earth, though they be plentiful, but in the men that took its measure. For that reminder is everywhere-in the cities, towns, farms, roads, factories, homes, hospitals, schools that spread everywhere over that wilderness.

We can remind ourselves that for all our social discord we yet remain the longest enduring society of free men governing themselves without benefit of kings or dictators. Being so, we are the marvel and the mystery of the world, for that enduring liberty is no less a blessing than the abundance of the earth.

And we might remind ourselves also, that if those men setting out from Delftshaven had been daunted by the troubles they saw around them, then we could not this autumn be thankful for a fair land.

All eyes on Ukraine


Ukraine is in crisis following the presidential election runoff. Reform candidate Viktor Yushchenko is believed to have won the election, but election officials have proclaimed Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych the winner. Yanukovych is backed by the political establishment and the Russian government. There are reports of voter fraud, particularly in eastern Ukraine, which has a higher concentration of ethnic Russians. When I say voter fraud, I don't mean vacant lots voting, but soldiers shooting election officials or stealing ballot boxes. Not to mention pre-election intimidation -- shutting down opposition newspapers and TV stations, replacing election officials with allies of the government, poisoning Yuschenko.

There are pro-reform demonstrations all over Ukraine, perhaps a million people on the streets in Kyiv, the capital. There are reports that Russian special forces (spetznaz) flew into the airport and are in the city.

The situation reminds me a lot of the Philippine "snap election" of 1986, in which long-time President Ferdinand Marcos attempted to cheat Corazon Aquino out of her election victory. Clerks at the central election office walked out to protest fraud, and people took to the streets in support of two military leaders who turned against Marcos.

TulipGirl is there in Kyiv and has links to news reports and commentary. Here's a link to her most recent entry, about reports of a $21.6 million bribe paid to the head of the Central Elections Committee. Start there and work your way back.

Her husband, Discoshaman, has been out on the streets with the protesters. He's just posted the first in a series of entries to try to explain to the rest of the world what this conflict is all about. A couple of excerpts:

You have to understand the situation in Ukraine. The country is run by a series of oligarchic clans that actually found their beginnings in the Soviet Union, and then grew fabulously rich during the early days of "privatization". ...

Do you start to see how life works here? This isn't about a few stolen votes. It's about an entire system of fine control over the political, social and economic life of the people. Economics and politics are incestuously fused here in a way that is difficult to imagine for those in the West.

The BBC has a Q&A piece up with the basic facts of the election crisis.

Keep praying for Ukraine.

A statement issued yesterday from the League of Women Voters of Metropolitan Tulsa:




The League of Women Voters (LWVMT) has a long and proud history of supporting representative government in Tulsa. We studied and advocated Charter change from Commission to Mayor/Council representative government for 35 years (1954-1989). Therefore, the League’s Board of Directors is concerned about the current recall process and its consequences for maintaining the integrity of representative government.

The LWVMT absolutely supports the concept of citizens being able to recall elected officials. Accordingly, the LWVMT has researched matters relevant to the recall process. While the Charter authorizes the process, it does not specify reasons for recall. We believe there should be reasons consistent with state law. We also believe that the charter makes it much too easy for people, who do not even have to be constituents of a district, to initiate a recall for a councilor who is democratically elected to represent a district. -- this is clearly inconsistent with the representative form of government.

Therefore, the LWVMT urges community leaders to do everything in their power to resolve the conflict before it becomes any more destructive. Our reasons include:

Oklahoma law (Title 51, Section 93) requires that ouster of an elected municipal official must be for one of the following causes: "willful failure or neglect to perform the duties of office; public intoxication; conviction for any offense constituting a violation of a penal statute involving moral turpitude." We have heard of no allegations of such conduct by any councilor.

The Charter does not require cause for the recall of a duly elected official. This is a defect that the LWVMT would like to work with others to correct. (Ironically, the charter does require that Oklahoma statutes be followed if an appointed member of the Airport Authority or the Utility Board is to be recalled -- but not for democratically elected officials.)

A second defect in the process is that the Charter does not require that a recall be initiated by citizens of the district. This is inconsistent with principles of representative government. If any councilor’s constituents are not satisfied with that councilor's performance, there will be an opportunity to "recall" that councilor in the next General Election.

The Charter of the City of Tulsa (Article VI, Section 8, D.) states: "If a vacancy shall occur in the office of a Councilor less than one (1) year) prior to the next General Election, the Council, by a majority vote of the membership of the Council shall appoint a qualified elector of the election district in which the vacancy exists to fill the vacancy for the remainder of the unexpired term." This effectively disenfranchises the residents of that district. Only if the recall election occurs before March 12, 2005, may the City Council call a special election.

From our perspective, if the recall petition process continues:

If successful, the possibility of one or more lawsuits could well delay a recall election beyond the next General Election. The process, therefore, would be a waste of time, energy and money for all parties. We should all be working together to unite our city instead of exacerbating the dispute.

Permanent and inappropriate damage to the reputation of elected officials on the basis of policy disagreements can set a precedent the city may not wish to establish.

It will become very difficult to attract qualified persons to seek election as city councilors for fear of attacks by a few who may not like a position or vote which that councilor might take.

We should be concentrating our efforts positively on healing the divisions in the community and working toward resolving the problems we face. Economic development and comprehensive land use planning need to be addressed in ways we have yet to work out. The seriousness of these issues deserves the community's attention and should not be diverted by the divisive recall process.

The League stands ready to assist the community in bringing this crisis to an agreeable conclusion.

Medlock responds to Ken Neal


Tulsa City Councilor Chris Medlock responds on his blog to editorial page editor Ken Neal's column in Sunday's Whirled about the attempt to recall him and colleague Jim Mautino. Medlock zeroes in on this Neal remark:

Now a group composed of upset business operators, developers, home builders and civic activists and many of the hundreds of citizens who serve without pay on the city’s authorities and agencies, have mounted a recall action against Medlock and Mautino. The movement is in its first stages and most veteran observers of City Hall are appalled that Tulsa has come to what amounts to a city civil war.

Medlock points out that the Whirled has only identified two people backing the recall effort -- Jon Davidson and Herb Haschke, who signed the ethics forms for the recall campaign committee. So does Ken Neal know something that the Whirled doesn't want us to know about this shadowy group? Medlock takes Neal's statement apart and gives his readers a translation, which you should go and read.

If we're in a city civil war, then Ken Neal is the fool who fired on Fort Sumter, desperate to preserve an old order that is passing away.

A history of holiday tunes


Each month I receive Rich Appel's electronic 'zine Hz So Good, which is devoted to Top 40 music over the years. This month's edition features a chronological review of the songs that are a part of pop music's annual observance of Christmas.

Rich begins by remembering the outdoor mall, where such tunes could be heard in the weeks before Christmas:

In the ancient days before ‘holiday hits’ was a 6-week radio format, if you wanted to hear bells jingle, chestnuts roast and Chipmunks kvetch – not 24/7 but maybe 12-13/7 - there was one place you could go: shopping. And for full-frost fidelity, your best bet was something called the outdoor mall. Anyone remember these? It may seem strange, but I have fond childhood memories of buying presents while freezing my butt off. In the Massachusetts town of Braintree (a name which is odd unto itself), such an arctic shopper’s paradise, the South Shore Plaza, was located (it still is, but it’s all enclosed now). It was the late 1960s-early 1970s, before indoor mall-mania had begun and ground just been broken for those (or mall-ettes, really) in several towns around Braintree. The SSP was then two floors o’stores arranged rectangularly, with entrances from the inside of that rectangle. And while most of those stores – Jordan Marsh, Kennedy’s, Krey Disc, Singer, Anderson-Little, Tie Town, Fanny Farmer, Hickory Farms – are nothing but memories now, the real memory for me was the walk from store to store in below-32 temps to the tune of “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” on the PA system speakers.

Sounds like Tulsa's Southland, long since enclosed and renamed Tulsa Promenade. Wasn't Santa's sleigh in the open area between the two rows of shops?

The musical chronology begins with "Deck the Halls" -- no one seems to know how ancient it is -- moves through the origin of traditional Christmas hymns and old familiar winter songs. A couple of tidbits of trivia from the newsletter:

1857…Even without Kiss-108 to push it, “Jingle Bells” - written in Medford, Massachusetts to commemmorate the Salem sleigh races - takes off. To quote one historian, “Jingle Bells” was not originally a holiday song, but rather “the 19th century equivalent of ‘Little Deuce Coupe.’”

(A tangential reminiscence: In the '80s, Kiss-108 was the Boston-area station for what we now call metrosexuals. Real men (all right, college boys, anyway) listened to 'BCN. Hello, Rangoon! The only place I heard Kiss-108 around the fraternity house was in the kitchen, where our chef Ron cooked while moving his substantial posterior around to the disco beat. UPDATE: Rich Appel writes to explain the significance of the Kiss-108 reference -- the station is licensed to operate out of the Boston suburb of Medford, "or Me-fa, as they call it there". He also mentions that he was a WBCN fan in those days, too.)

1929…In three years, Guy Lombardo & His Royal Canadians have already racked up a dozen hit songs. So when the band settles in New York, both major radio networks, CBS and NBC, make separate deals with Guy: CBS gets the band’s New Year’s Eve performance before midnight, and NBC picks up the broadcast after. To make the transition easier at 12, Guy plays “Auld Lang Syne,” a song he grew up with, having been raised in a part of Ontario heavily populated by Scots, and which to him just seemed right to end an old year and start a new one. As a result, not only does “Auld Lang Syne” become Lombardo’s theme song, it also becomes the official song of New Year’s Eve.

And one with some local interest:

1953... Oklahoma City-based child star Gayla Peevey records “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas” as a fund-raiser to bring one to the OC Zoo. The zoo gets its hippo and Gayla gets a hit when Columbia (not Hip-O Records) releases the single nationally.

And on through "Grandma Got Run over by a Reindeer" (25 years old this year!) and Adam Sandler's "Hanukah Song."

This month's issue also includes some thoughts on the diminishing connection between Rolling Stone magazine and popular music.

If you'd like Hz So Good to slide down your e-mail chimney each month, send an e-mail to Rich Appel at

The Tulsa Whirled was in full spin mode this weekend in response to the release of the City Council's preliminary investigation into Tulsa airports and the Great Plains Airlines mess, which has the city on the hook for millions of dollars. Let's look at their Saturday editorial defense of parent company World Publishing Co.'s investment in Great Plains:

Mark Twain's wisdom suggests that a lie told about the World Publishing Co.'s interest in the ill-fated Great Plains Airline will be repeated so much by shrill voices in Tulsa that the truth could be lost.

First, the lie: The City Council's investigator, paid $40,000 so far to amass public records, used out-of-date documents to claim the World holds 51 percent equity in the bankrupt airline.

The fact: The final list of stockholders, published elsewhere in the World Saturday, shows that the World owned 3 percent of the airline stock.

Notice the sleight of hand -- the Whirled responds to the fact that it had invested 51% of the private investment in Great Plains Airlines by saying it only owned 3% of the total number of shares of stock. The Whirled is deliberately confusing preferred stock with common stock. In November 2000, World Publishing Co. acquired 233,333 shares of preferred stock for $700,000 -- $3 per share. That's 3,000 times the cost of a share of common stock, which generally went for one-thousandth of a dollar per share. (Some common stock was sold for a nickel a share.) Preferred shares bring greater rights, such as first cut of any dividends. The exact distinction between preferred stock and common stock for a company is defined by the shareholder agreement, which does not appear to be one of the documents released to the City Council investigation. If the the Whirled wants to persuade us that its investment was insignificant, they'll need to show us the shareholder agreement.

As to the "out-of-date" document claim: The City Council's investigator used the latest shareholder list that was provided to it, from February 2001. Only one more investor of any significance came in after that date: Dr. William E. ("Wes") Stricker, the Columbia, Mo., allergist and owner of Ozark Air Lines. Stricker acquired 250,000 shares of preferred stock when Ozark was purchased by Great Plains in March 2001.

Shortly after the Whirled acquisition of Great Plains stock in November 2000, the Whirled editorial board, on November 28, urged the City Council to agree to mortgage Air Force Plant No. 3 to enable a total of $30 million in financing ($15 million in state tax credits, $15 million loan secured by the property). The editorial claimed that the airline would "over the next decade, create 2,000 new jobs and generate $23 million in revenue to the Tulsa Airport Authority. It represents a tremendous private-public partnership to solve a problem, offer a needed service and boost economic development opportunities." The Whirled editorial made no mention of the launch on November 1 of daily non-stop service from Tulsa to Los Angeles on American Airlines, which undercut the need for the niche Great Plains was meant to fill. There was no mention, either, of the failure a year earlier of AccessAir, another airline which had been heavily subsidized by state and local governments to provide service from the midwest to the coasts. There were plenty of reasons to be skeptical, but the Whirled, owner of a majority of preferred stock at that critical moment, didn't let the public know.

More rebuttal after the jump.

In 2001, the Wall Street Journal picked four startup companies and tracked the companies' fortunes over the course of 2001, in a series entitled "The Challengers." One of those four startups was Great Plains Airlines, and I'm happy to report that the WSJ articles about Great Plains are available online for free on their website. Along with articles specifically about Great Plains, there are related articles about the state of the airline industry and the problems besetting small airlines long before the 9/11 attacks.

Some highlights:

  • Bios of Great Plains founders James C. Swartz and John H. Knight.

  • An interactive guide to the airline's business concept, including a map of existing non-stop routes from Tulsa in 2000, Great Plains' planned routes, actual routes, and how the major airlines rendered their plans moot by offering direct service.

  • A detailed background on the airline and its founders. It mentions that in 1996 the two were "prowling around" for an airline to buy in Florida, talks of their efforts in Wichita, and describes how they wound up in Tulsa:

    The two men were in Wichita, Kan., laying the groundwork for starting an airline there when Tulsa came calling. The city in the northeastern corner of Oklahoma is a classic second-tier city, and for years, the locals have been unhappy with their air service, usually having to make at least one connection to get to cities on the coasts. Finally, Tulsa Chamber of Commerce activists took action. Hearing about Messrs. Swartz and Knight, the city's leading lights in the fall of 1997 persuaded them to focus on Tulsa instead. As Mr. Knight recalls, things weren't progressing so well in Wichita, so the choice was easy.

    What followed was a three-year effort to get state and local government to help finance the airline. David Johnson, a prominent Tulsa lawyer and counsel to the airline, helped push through state legislation that would give the tiny airline tax credits that it could sell to raise money. Last year, through a combination of tax-credit sales and a loan from the Bank of Oklahoma, with property put up as collateral by the city of Tulsa, Great Plains managed to amass $30 million in start-up capital. (Today, Mr. Johnson is an investor in Great Plains and sits on its board.)

    The article mentions their revenue projections -- $144 million in the third year of operation.

  • A timeline of milestones through the end of 2001.

(More highlights after the jump.)

Before the men who started Great Plains Airlines came to Tulsa, they tried to pitch their idea to the City of Wichita, Kansas.

A headline search on the Wichita Eagle's website turns up the following:

  • On April 8, 1997, two groups announce plans to bring jet service to Wichita: SunWest Airlines Inc., headed by James C. Swartz, and AccessAir Holdings Inc., a Des Moines-based company. But they are looking for local "seed money" to make it happen.

Here's a story from the Wichita Business Journal about SunWest's business concept from June 9, 1997.

And here's a very brief and non-specific September 15, 1997, story from the Wichita Business Journal about SunWest's pitch to the Wichita Airport Authority.

About the time Wichita officials decided to take a pass, Tulsa leaders worked to get the SunWest team to come look at locating here.

I spent part of today at the library, using the Whirled's online archives to see what the Whirled wrote about Great Plains Airlines from its first appearance on the scene as Sunwest (sometimes Sun West) Airlines in 1999. There is a lot of information to sift through.

The Whirled's parent company, World Publishing Co., paid $700,000 for 233,333 shares of preferred stock in the airline in November 2000. (The Whirled claims it paid $100,000 in cash -- the remainder was $600,000 in advertising space. The Whirled didn't bother to disclose its investment in Great Plains Airlines until February 16, 2003. By that time, the taxpayers of the State of Oklahoma and the City of Tulsa had donated millions of dollars in subsidies to support this airline that never came close to delivering on its promises. Throughout this period, in which public officials were deciding whether to continue to pump more money into the venture, the Whirled ran positive stories promoting the airline and its potential. You will look in vain for even a hint of skepticism or concern.

A newspaper has the trust of many citizens and decision-makers in the community. It's assumed that the local daily is doing its best to inform us completely and accurately -- that they wouldn't have any reason to distort or conceal information.

The F&M Bank zoning controversy and the Great Plains Airlines scandal have exposed to the public the extent to which the business interests of World Publishing Co. and its owners skew the Whirled's coverage of local government.

If the Whirled wishes to regain the trust of its readers they should stop using their news pages to defend the company's actions and instead recuse themselves from coverage of the story. Let's have a newspaper from another part of the country with no Tulsa business ties come in and investigate the story.

(This was going to be a general blog roundup, but the Dynamic Duo in Ukraine had too much interesting material.)

Discoshaman is busy after a summer on hiatus. He posts his response to the clowns at, and he lists Entertainment Weekly's list of top cult films and highlights the ones he's seen. And he reflects on evangelicalism, cities, and heaven:

The Duchess and I are both big city people. While Red State in our values, the idea of actually living in one is a little scary.

So I got to thinking. . . our eternal reward described in Rev. 21 is a city. Which explains why Paris, San Fran, Prague or Budapest all feel like a foretaste of heaven. I'm sure there's some charm to small towns that I've missed, but nothing compares to the energy of the City.

I agree. Especially Prague.

The Discoshaman's wife, TulipGirl, is blogging about child development mis-leader Gary Ezzo and exposés of his teaching by TV stations in Detroit and Wichita. The focus of the TV stories was on the hazards of Ezzo's approach to scheduled infant feedings, but as TulipGirl says in the comments, "I honestly think the advice for toddlers and older children is more harmful in the big picture." About that advice -- dealing with discipline and behavior -- another mom comments, "Following the Ezzo plan for older children turned our children into little 'moralists.' They could spout the right and wrong of things, but they had not incorporated anything into their hearts. It was all about being trained in behavior rather than reaching to their hearts. It also turned their good behavior into ways to get rewarded. They did things for reward, as opposed for the love of virtue, which is what Ezzo's plan is supposed to prevent."

TulipGirl also blogs about a program with similar flaws: Bill Gothard's Institute for Basic Life Principles (IBLP) and Advanced Training Institute (ATI).

A reader has spotted two more invalid signatures on the recall petition against Chris Medlock -- Larmon and Jo Lawson of 5739 S 38th West Ave. The address is outside the city limits; between 37th West Ave and 41st West Ave, the north side of 57th Street is in the city limits, the south side (where the above address is) is outside. (It might actually be in Sapulpa since that town's annexation of Town West.)

At the very least, the City Clerk should verify that the signers meet the charter requirement -- they reside and are registered to vote in the targeted councilor's election district.

There's a vigorous discussion about the release of findings about Great Plains Airlines and the Tulsa Airport Authority and the significance of the Whirled's ownership over on the TulsaNow forums. Go read it and weigh in with your own thoughts.

UPDATE: You can find the Tulsa Whirled's stories in today's edition starting here on the front page, with a jump page for one of the stories plus a timeline of events here, and jump page for the other story plus the June 2003 list of investors here. The Whirled's editorial defense is here.

No time to write today, but check in Monday morning here and on KFAQ for my analysis and perspective.

Can't avoid making one comment: I guess the Tulsa Whirled has to be under a cloud of suspicion before it will provide detailed information on a story to its readers.

A few more recall notes


Interesting name at the very end of the recall petition against Jim Mautino: Mary E. Hill is a member of the Tulsa Metropolitan Area Planning Commission.

I asked, half in jest, whether the City would be as diligent in validating the recall petition signatures as they were in validating the protest petition signatures in the 71st and Harvard case. The Tulsa Whirled reported on Thursday (jump page here) that City Clerk Mike Kier isn't sure he should be validating signatures on the preliminary petition, because while the City Charter explicitly requires validation for the supporting petition, the charter is silent about validation of the preliminary petition. The charter does however require that the preliminary petition "must contain the signatures of qualified electors residing in the election district involved equal in number to ten percent (10%) of all those voting in that election district for the affected office in the preceding general election." There's an implied responsibility to determine that the criteria have been met -- that the signatures are in fact those of qualified electors, that the electors reside in the election district, and that the number is sufficient. Otherwise what stops me from filing a list of 250 bogus names and starting the recall process against another councilor? Is it fair to put a councilor and his family through the pressure and grief of a recall -- and to put the whole city through the distraction -- if there isn't enough genuine support even to support a preliminary petition?

Someone perusing the District 2 preliminary recall petition list notes Mark Weiss on the list, address 1008 E. 19th. There's one invalid signature -- that area was in District 2 from 1991 to 2001, and is now in District 4. The list also has two Bobbitts at 4313 E 5th -- that's in District 4 as well -- two more bad signatures.

Below is a list of those who signed the recall petition against Tulsa City Councilor Jim Mautino. This list is a matter of public record and public interest, to get a sense of who supports the recall effort, and to allow the public to review the list for invalid names, invalid addresses, and unauthorized signatures. You might scan through the list, and if you see a name of a friend or acquaintance, you might verify with the person whether he actually signed it.

Keep in mind that this is a transcription of signatures and handwritten addresses, so there may be some errors. If you find one, let me know.

Arlen escapes


Way too often for my liking, elected Republicans do something to justify being called "the Stupid Party." (For the record, people who call the GOP "the Stupid Party" call the Democrats "the Evil Party.")

Yesterday, the Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to recommend Arlen Specter to be the committee's new chairman, despite a long and loud outcry from grassroots conservatives who believe, with good reason, that Specter will be an obstacle to needed legal reforms and to the nominations of judges who believe in interpreting the law, rather than legislating from the bench. The other committee members are crowing about the "concessions" they extracted from Specter before endorsing his chairmanship. Specter issued a statement defending his record on judicial nominations and pledging that he would not apply a litmus test against pro-life nominees, that he would hold quick hearings and early votes on the President's judicial nominees, that he will use his "best efforts to stop any future filibusters." He has also pledged not to bottle up legislation and constitutional amendments in committee, even when he is personally opposed.

Let's look at the bargain that was struck: Specter gets what he wants right away in exchange for a promise. What are the consequences if he breaks his promise? There are none. The Republicans have said they could deprive him of his chairmanship if he goes back on his word, but doing so for policy reasons would be unprecedented, and they won't be willing to withstand the condemnation from the mainstream media. And even if the Republicans do respond to a betrayal, the damage will have already been done -- a fine legal mind will have been publicly trashed and blocked from taking a seat on the Federal bench, and the President will have been forced to name someone with views more like Specter's to get him through the Senate.

Maybe Republicans are just too merciful or sentimental or trusting or tradition-bound to press their advantage. The point of winning elections is to accomplish the agenda you set out during your campaign. If you have the power, use it to make the system work to enact your agenda. We have handed a victory to the forces of judicial lunacy in exchange for mere words from someone who has proven himself to be untrustworthy.

Here's a tip for Republican officials: When you're negotiating with someone you don't trust, he should be required to fulfill his part of the bargain before or at the same time that you fulfill your end of the deal. If neither party trusts each other -- that's why there's escrow. Please note that someone issuing a statement promising to fulfill his part of the bargain is not equivalent to actually fulfilling it.

At the very least the Republicans should have put his chairmanship in escrow for two years -- if he supports the President's judicial nominees and works to end the practice of judicial filibustering, he gets to take over as chairman in 2007.

The battle to stop Specter did at least shake things up a bit. Maybe it will make a difference when a controversial judicial nominee is before the committee. We'll see. Until then Arlen Specter's trustworthiness is "not proven."

The findings of the first phase of the City Council's investigation into the operation of Tulsa's airports were released today, published on the City Council's website. You'll find the main body of the report here and the "abbreviated addendum" here.

(Be warned that the addendum is PDF file that has been optimized within an inch of its life. It appears that someone scanned in the addendum documents to create a PDF in Adobe Acrobat, then decided it was too large for people to download, so he ran optical character recognition on the result, keeping only the text found by the OCR and throwing away the image of the original. Hopefully, this will be corrected before long, because what is on the web now is hard to decipher.)

I'm just starting to dig through this. I didn't see the presentation of the report at the City Council meeting, so I'm probably missing some context, but this is what it looks like to me: Great Plains Airlines appears to have been a scheme to take a relatively small amount of private money, allow influential citizens to buy in at a very low cost, in order to pry loose a much larger amount of public money, ultimately for the enrichment of a few stockholders.

First among the preferred stockholders is World Publishing Company (WPC), publishers of the Tulsa Whirled, purchasing 233,333 shares of preferred stock of Great Plains Airline Holding Co. for $700,000. That represents a majority of the 445,699 shares of preferred stock sold at $3 a share, for a total value of $1,337,103. That investment also represents a majority of the capitalization: 6,495,137 shares of common stock were sold at either 1 mill (one tenth or a cent) per share or five cents per share, for a total value of $31,926.14. So the total price of issued stock was $1,369,029.14.

There was a dispute some months ago about what share of Great Plains Airlines was owned by World Publishing Company (WPC). Michael DelGiorno reported that WPC owned a majority of Great Plains Airlines. WPC sent legal nastygrams and insisted that it only held 3% of the stock. WPC's answer was misleading, honest only in a narrow technical sense -- if you divide the number of WPC's preferred shares by the combined number of common shares and preferred shares, you get 3.592%. But if you consider the price paid for the shares, the Whirled's parent company had invested 51% of the private money invested in Great Plains Airline Holding Co. The Tulsa Whirled's parent company had the biggest financial stake in the airline, the most to gain.

The price of the common stock is strange -- selling a thousand shares for a dollar is no way to raise capital for a startup business. The list of names of investors seems to point to an explanation. Many of them were in a position of influence to smooth the way for public financing and subsidy for the airline: Steven Berlin, former CFO of Citgo and a member of the Tulsa Industrial Authority (TIA); Don McCorkell, former Democrat State Representative and an influential lobbyist; Thomas Kimball, head of economic development for the City of Owasso a friend to then-Gov. Frank Keating; Bob Cullison, former Senate President Pro Tempore; Patrick Schnake and Steve Turnbo from the PR firm of Schnake Turnbo, plus Lauren Brookey, formerly a partner in that firm; Margaret Erling Frette, lobbyist and wife of John Erling, once the highest-rated local talk show host; Clyde Cole, former President and CEO of the Metropolitan Tulsa Chamber of Commerce; Van Scoyoc Associates, a DC lobbying firm specializing in government grants. While some of these people invested a tiny amount for their common shares, what would have happened to the value of their shares if an initial public offering (IPO) had occurred (especially if it had occurred before the tech bubble burst)?

I'll be combing through the report over the next few days. I hope you will, too, and I'd enjoy reading your observations, if you'll e-mail them to me -- or head over to the TulsaNow forums for an online discussion.

Reading between the water lines


The case for the reappointment of Jim Cameron and Lou Reynolds to the TMUA (on tonight's Council agenda) and the case for the policies they've been pursuing were undermined by two articles on the front page of the Tulsa Whirled this morning.

First, Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson announced (jump page here) that the state has reached an agreement with poultry integrators to pay for the clean up of chicken litter from Oklahoma watersheds. With the state of Oklahoma pursuing this issue vigorously, and apparently successfully, it further undercuts the argument that Cameron and Reynolds on the TMUA are indispensible to pursuing the cleanup of Tulsa's Spavinaw watershed.

Second, the Grand River Dam Authority (GRDA) is cracking down on freeloaders, (article starts on same page, same jump page as above) and it appears that the Oklahoma Ordnance Works Authority may be taking and reselling Grand River water (as much as a billion gallons a month) without payments to or the permission of the GRDA, which owns the water rights for the Grand River. The Whirled article carefully avoids explaining the possible consequences of the GRDA's reassertion of its rights, and instead spends the start of the story rehashing the threat by Owasso City Manager Rodney Ray to stop buying water from Tulsa and buy it instead from OOWA at a lower rate. Reading between the lines, OOWA may not be able to offer those cheap water rates to Tulsa's suburbs now that the GRDA is reasserting control over its water rights, possibly rendering Ray's threat an empty one.

Big Council meeting tonight


It's "pack the house" night at City Hall at 6 p.m. Three controversial issues are on the agenda: The second attempt at confirming the reappointment of Jim Cameron and Lou Reynolds to the Tulsa Metropolitan Utility Authority; Councilor Jim Mautino's resolution to direct the Planning Commission to study a change to the zoning code that would allow Board of Adjustment appeals to be heard by the City Council; and the unveiling of the report of the Council subcommittee investigating the airport. This is also the first meeting since Mayor LaFortune's veto of the Economic Development Commission reform plan.

I can't be there, sorry to say, but I hope many of you will show up to support the Reform Alliance Councilors and to sign up to speak in support of their initiatives toward making city government work for all Tulsans, not just the favored few.

I learned today that TMUA board member Jim Cameron's dad, Roy Cameron, passed away and that his services are tomorrow afternoon, just a few hours before what will likely be a contentious public hearing. Condolences to the Cameron family. Several of the Councilors -- both supporters and opponents of Cameron's reappointment -- expressed a willingness to hold off on his hearing until the next Council meeting (the Thursday after Thanksgiving) out of respect for Cameron and his family. There's no hurry, since he will continue to serve until reappointed or someone is appointed in his place. There seemed to be general agreement on the postponement, but then Council Chairman Randy Sullivan and Council Vice Chairman Tom Baker, both part of the Cockroach Caucus, insisted that the hearing move forward, the funeral notwithstanding. Apparently, nothing is more important to them than getting these men reappointed to the TMUA, for whatever reason.

Another thing: The talking point from the administration is that Cameron and Reynolds are essential to moving forward productively on the issues involving chicken poop in Tulsa's water. However much they have learned about the issue, neither of them are hydrologists, biologists, or poultry experts. It seems to me that the OKC law firm that was paid $7.3 million of the $7.5 million settlement is far more important -- they must be if we paid them that much -- and they aren't going anywhere no matter who sits on the TMUA.

More free Tulsa wifi


The continuing search for Internet access in public places:

Panera Bread at 15th & Troost has free WiFi for customers -- and they now close at 9 pm instead of 8 pm. 71st & Lewis and 41st east of Yale both have WiFi -- the other Tulsa locations will get it eventually. Here's a list of all WiFi-enabled Panera locations.

I haven't been there myself yet, but there's a new cafe called Saffron at 12th and Harvard that has free WiFi. A reader reports that it has a "relatively simple (unpretentious) and inexpensive menu. I had lunch there this afternoon, which consisted of half a sandwich ('build your own' from several choices of meats, cheeses, and vegetables), chips, homemade salsa, and a pickle for just $3. Coffee was $1.50 (more elaborate concoctions are a little more, but not much)." Saffron is at the eastern edge of Renaissance Neighborhood -- an easy walk from the TU campus and nearby neighborhoods -- and as it's in an older building in an older commercial area, it sits right on the street. You actually can walk to it without worrying about dodging cars as you cross a vast sea of asphalt.

Can people sitting at computers in public result in a richer, more neighborly social atmosphere? It seems counterintuitive, but I think so. People who want to catch up with emails, need to work on a report, or just feel like surfing the web can do so in a public place, where it's possible for them to bump into friends and neighbors, something that isn't possible if everyone is stuck at home at the computer. Anything that gets folks to spend time outside the cocoons of home and work will help make Tulsa a more neighborly place.

Will the City be as stringent about the signatures on these recall petitions as they were about the signatures on the 71st and Harvard zoning protest petition?

Even if the recalls ultimately fail, they will have served a purpose for the Cockroach Caucus. Good, reform-minded Tulsans will decide not to run for City Council for fear of facing the treatment that these good councilors are now receiving.

If the rumors are true that Steve Turnbo, Margaret Erling, and the Lortons had significant financial interests in Great Plains Airlines, then the timing of this PR blitz and the filing of the petitions against two of the Councilors who supported the airport investigation is very curious. The Council's investigating committee's report is due out this Thursday. Remember that the committee subpoenaed ownership records for Great Plains Airlines, so we may be learning on Thursday who stood to benefit financially from the illegal deal to subsidize the airline from airport funds. The recall effort seems extremely well timed to distract from what may be very bad news for those who have been active in orchestrating the recall.

We still don't know who the backers of the recall are, and whether they even live in the City of Tulsa. That list of 25 or so committee members has never been released. John Benjamin, a former Tulsa city councilor who now lives in Bixby, and a devotee of the Tulsa Metro Chamber, is going around town boasting that he's leading the effort. Benjamin recruited Randy Sullivan and Bill Christiansen to run for City Council. The head of the Tulsa Metro Chamber, which is pushing the recall behind the scenes, lives in Broken Arrow. The executive director of the Home Builders Association, which is supporting the recall, lives in Broken Arrow, and this year's president is based in Owasso.

Another interesting timing coincidence -- the filing comes the day after the Mayor's veto (on the last possible day that he could veto) of the Economic Development Commission ordinance.

It appears that Channel 8 (KTUL) had a hot tip that the recall was going to be filed. Channel 8's GM, Pat Baldwin, is a Tulsa Metro Chamber board member and has traveled on Chamber junkets to exotic places like Hawaii. (Remember that your City of Tulsa hotel/motel tax dollars go to the Chamber for "economic development", which frees up Chamber money to pay for these junkets. Money is fungible.) You may recall that without warning he pulled the plug on Channel 8's airing of a Vision 2025 debate.

It is the height of selfishness for the special interests behind the recall to press this issue (1) during the holidays, (2) during the runup to a City bond issue, (3) and when there is no good reason not to wait until the next general election to make their case to the voters.

Keep Councilors Mautino and Medlock in your prayers, but pray for their families, too. These kinds of attacks are usually taken more to heart by wives and parents and children than by the public official himself. Pray for strength and encouragement, and offer some encouragement of your own.

The City of Tulsa charter says this (emphasis added) in Article VII, Section 2.1:

If the officer sought to be recalled was elected from an election district, a preliminary petition for recall of the elected officer must contain the signatures of qualified electors residing in the election district involved equal in number to ten percent (10%) of all those voting in that election district for the affected office in the preceding general election.

And in Section 3:

If the officer sought to be recalled was elected from an election district, supporting petitions to be sufficient must contain the signatures of qualified electors residing in the election district involved equal in number to twenty-five percent (25%) of all those voting in that election district for the affected office in the preceding general election.

When was the preceding general election? March 9, 2004.

How many people voted in the District 7 council race in that general election? 0; Randy Sullivan had primary opposition but was unopposed in the general.

How many people voted in the District 8 council race in that general election? 0; Bill Christiansen had primary opposition but was unopposed in the general.

What is 10% of 0? 0.

What is 25% of 0? 0.

How many signatures would it take to trigger a recall election against Randy Sullivan or Bill Christiansen? One each.

District 2 recall: Some who signed


Some interesting names pop up on the District 2 recall petition:

  • Norma Eagleton, Democrat, former member of the Tulsa Airport Authority. She was on the airport authority when the apparently illegal deal to subsidize Great Plains Airlines was put together. Chris Medlock is a member of the Council committee investigating the airport; the committee's report is due out Thursday.
  • Darla Dean Hall, Democrat, former Councilor for District 2, and Medlock's opponent in both of his runs for office. She lost the 2004 election to Medlock by a vote of 1464 to 1021 -- Medlock got 59% of the vote, a near landslide. Darla Hall won only five precincts and one fragment of a precinct. Medlock won 13 precincts -- every precinct east of the river, and two large precincts west of the river. A story in the Tulsa County News (a westside paper) three weeks ago names Darla and her neighbor Billie Moseley as circulators of the petition. Darla's involvement in this scheme is disappointing. Once she was an advocate for neighborhoods -- a dependable vote for reason on controversial zoning issues. She opposed the Tulsa Project in 1997 and It's Tulsa Time in 2000 -- for the latter election, she and I appeared together on Channel 8 to speak against the proposed sales tax hike. The Tulsa Whirled regularly denounced her and endorsed her election opponents. Now she is doing the dirty work of the same bunch that tried to drive her from the Council. Is it just a lust to get back on the Council? Remember that she took campaign funds from F&M Bank Board members and a member of the planning commission. It looks like she's gone over to the dark side, sadly.
  • John Ogren. Ogren is a retired City employee and was Medlock's opponent in the Republican primary for City Council District 2 this year. He lost the primary by 1134 votes to 328. Another case of sour grapes, apparently.
  • Keep in mind that we don't know what the petition circulators told people in an effort to get these people to sign. We have heard reports that people were told that Medlock wanted people outside the city to pay lower water rates than Tulsans, when in fact he has asked whether outside customers are paying enough.

    I have also heard that westside pride may be involved, that some of the petition circulators were arguing that the westside deserved its own City Councilor, despite the fact that more than half the population of Council District 2 now lives east of the river. In fact, in this year's election, 1,242 votes were cast west of the river, 1,243 were cast east of the river. Darla Hall got only 23% of the vote east of the river. 41% of the voters west of the river, in Darla's home turf, were content to have Chris Medlock, from east of the river, represent them at City Hall.

    As soon as I can get my hands on it, I'll do a similar analysis of the District 6 petition.

    If the petitioners take the full 60 days to collect signatures on Medlock and Mautino, the recall election would not occur until May. If the recall vote succeeds, it would be too late to hold a special election to fill the seat, and a majority of the remaining councilors would appoint replacements. With Mautino and Medlock gone, the "Bought and Paid Four" would have the majority and they would likely appoint Darla Hall and Art Justis, who are both helping to spearhead the recall effort, to fill the vacancies -- the very candidates who were defeated by Medlock and Mautino back in March. It would also mean that two elected Republicans would be replaced by two defeated Democrats.

    If you spot interesting (or bogus) names on the list, drop me a line at blog at batesline dot com. If we find 46 bogus names on the list, the petition fails for a lack of sufficient signatures. There are at least three names with addresses that are outside the district boundaries.

Text of District 2 reason for recall


Here is the reason for recall submitted with the petition against Tulsa City Councilor Chris Medlock. I am told that the petition against Councilor Jim Mautino is identical except for the name. Note that the middle initial is wrong in the first sentence, correct in the final sentence:


Christopher P. [sic] Medlock's performance as a city councilor in District 2 has been unsatisfactory and contrary to the best interests of the City of Tulsa in the following particulars:

1. Mr. Medlock has circumvented the spirit and intent of fair and public debate by the City Council as a member of the "gang of five" that without public notice pre-decides pending issues without benefit of public hearing or participation by the Council as a whole.

2. Mr. Medlock's statements and votes reflect lack of understanding of the charter provisions pertaining to the powers of the City Council and with disregard to the executive powers reserved to the Mayor.

3. Mr. Medlock's statements and votes have shown disrespect without factual basis for non-paid volunteers on various boards and commissions and he has refused to confirm appointments of the Mayor without statement of his reasons.

4. Mr. Medlock's statements and votes reflect a lack of understanding of the economic benefits to the City of Tulsa of traditional working relationships with surrounding communities and he has significantly impaired such relationships.

5. Mr. Medlock's statements and votes reflect an anti-growth, anti-business agenda that has significantly impaired the economic health of the City.

We the undersigned citizens of City Council District 2, herein petition to recall Christopher S. Medlock as Councilor of District 2.

Below is a list of those who signed the recall petition against Tulsa City Councilor Chris Medlock. This list is a matter of public record and public interest, to get a sense of who supports the recall effort, and to allow the public to review the list for invalid names, invalid addresses, and unauthorized signatures. You might scan through the list, and if you see a name of a friend or acquaintance, you might verify with the person whether he actually signed it.

Preliminary petitions seeking the recall of Tulsa City Councilors Chris Medlock and Jim Mautino were filed today with the City Clerk's office. More details later. This is just the first phase of the process. You can find details on the recall process here.

It's interesting that this should come two days prior to the release of the findings of the Council's airport investigation. You don't suppose this is an attempt to distract from and discredit those findings?

Head Chamber Pot to speak


Speaking of the Cockroach Caucus, the head of the bureaucracy at the Tulsa Metro Chamber, Jay Clemens, will speak to the Tulsa County Republican Men's Club this Friday at the Fountains Restaurant, 6540 South Lewis. The TCRMC monthly luncheon begins at 11:45 am, and the cost is $9 for the Fountains' lunch buffet. There are always a number of guests in attendance, and we usually have as many women as men present.

I'll have to miss it, I'm sad to say, so I hope someone who goes will take some good notes and pass them along to me.

Mr. Clemens, a resident of Broken Arrow, is a controversial figure. Many in the business community would like to see him replaced. They see the Chamber as fiddling while Rome burns -- taking expensive junkets to the Caribbean and Hawaii, continuing to focus economic development efforts on luring large facilities to Tulsa, rather than nurturing businesses that are already here. Insiders talk of a controlling attitude that stifles innovation both within the Chamber bureaucracy and in the city as a whole. During a previous stint in a similar role elsewhere, Clemens received national attention for discouraging a company's plan to bring 500 new jobs to the area because it would "unrealistically drive up wages."

It is widely believed that the Chamber is encouraging the effort to recall Councilors Chris Medlock and Jim Mautino because of the Councilors' efforts to hold the Chamber accountable for how the Chamber spends the City of Tulsa's hotel/motel tax dollars. It should be interesting to see what he has to say to Republican grassroots activists, who enthusiastically support Medlock and Mautino and the reform of the city's economic development approach. It will be interesting to see what they have to say to him in return. It may be a valuable learning experience for Mr. Clemens.

By the way, the Fountains Restaurant serves wonderful bread pudding, which is delicious, and, I am told, also possesses interesting ballistic characteristics when saturated with glaze, but I've never seen that for myself.

UPDATE: In answer to a question, no, you do not have to be a member of the TCRMC in order to attend the luncheon. (Although you are encouraged to join -- dues are $20 per year.)

BoA appeals are pricey


Tulsa City Councilor Chris Medlock has started a blog at, and he's got comments up about the Whirled's response to Councilor Jim Mautino's proposal about Board of Adjustment appeals, and about the controversial reappointments to the Tulsa Metropolitan Utility Authority.

Medlock is not convinced that Mautino's proposal is the right way to go, but he thinks the Whirled is arrogant for dismissing the reality of problems with the BoA process:

Concerned that change that they didn't initiate might actually occur in our city, the [Whirled editorial] board is actually making the case that the citizens of Tulsa have a fitting appeal option when they feel they have gotten a raw deal from the Tulsa Board of Adjustment. In fact, their exact quote is that "Citizens who are unhappy with Board of Adjustment decisions have a fair and appropriate appeals mechanism available now..."

"Appeals mechanism" is a very pleasant and succinct way to say, "hire an expensive attorney, take out a second mortgage, or if you're lucky get the neighborhood to have a big yard sale and silent auction so that you can cough up the $10,000 to $20,000 it takes to prevent $10,000 to $20,000 of impact to your property value." ...

BoA decisions impact property value -- approving an application may mean that neighboring properties lose value, while denying an application may mean that the applicant's land is worth less. The problem is that the remedy for this loss of value may be as expensive as the loss itself. And if property owners don't appeal a bad decision, because of the expense, the bad decision sets precedent for future decisions which will affect property owners in other parts of town. The cost of an appeal blocks frivolous appeals, but it also blocks appeals that should be heard.

That is the problem that Councilor Mautino is trying to address. If the Whirled editorial board were open-minded, they would look at this proposal and say, "An elected official is bringing this proposal forward. We see problems with the proposal, but there must be some reason, some problem, some grievance that is prompting this proposal. Let's seek to understand what the root problem is, beneath the symptoms, and propose a better way to address it."

Instead, the arrogant out-of-hand rejection of the concerns of the public by the Whirled, the Tulsa Metro Chamber, the Homebuilders Association, and the rest of the Cockroach Caucus, on many local issues, is leading to the public's rejection of the Cockroach Caucus. The public is concluding that this bunch isn't interested in their concerns, that this bunch won't work in a cooperative fashion, and therefore increasingly the public doesn't care what the Cockroach Caucus has to say about an issue.

You don't have to agree -- at least listen and respond with respect.

Time for action on Specter


Although the Senate Judiciary Committee will not formally make a recommendation and the Republican caucus won't vote until January, today may be when the decision is made whether Arlen Specter will assume the chairmanship or not. The Senate is back in Washington for its lame duck session, and Specter will be meeting this morning with his colleagues on Judiciary and with the Senate Republican leadership, according to Roll Call.

If you care about 2nd Amendment rights, lawsuit reform, the defense of traditional marriage, the sanctity of human life -- if you just believe that judges should uphold the law, not rewrite it -- you want someone other than Arlen Specter to hold the reins of the Senate Judiciary Committee. You can find links to all you need to know here. He's on the wrong side of nearly every legal issue that conservatives care about.

Please take a few minutes to call members of the Senate leadership and the Senate Judiciary Committee. You can find e-mail links and phone numbers here. You can send a blast fax here. Do it this morning.

The bottom line is this: Specter plays nice with the conservatives just before an election, then abandons them once he's safely back for another six years. At age 74, he may not run for re-election in 2010, and even if he does, he won't swing back into "be nice to conservatives" mode until late 2008 at the earliest, just as President Bush is leaving office. With two or three retirements on the Supreme Court opening up, we need someone solid in charge of that committee right now.

It will only take you a few minutes to make a difference. Get on the phones!

An elephant in my pajamas


I was Googling the phrase, "stamp the rooster," and came across this blog entry, which said, in part:

The last Democrat I voted for was actually in 1998, and he resigned in disgrace recently in the face of impeachment proceedings. What did I expect, right? In my defense, he was a neighbor of one of my good friends and he asked me, at a Fourth of July picnic, if he could count on my vote for Insurance Commissioner. Maybe it was the hot dogs talking, or the hot beer, or the hot Oklahoma sun, but I said, "Yes sir." So I was stuck. (There. I feel so much better getting that off my chest.)

The bit that Google found:

Update: To those of you wondering, "yellow dog democrat" is a term used throughout Little Dixie and refers to those rabidly partisan voters who would "vote for a yellow dog before a Republican". These are the same people who would "stamp the rooster". That phrase was always unsettling to me, but it refers to the old ballots having a rooster as the emblem of the Democrats. Straight-party voters would "stamp the rooster". (I know. It does me, too.)

The name of the author was Doug Smith, and the site's name is "An Elephant in My Pajamas," one of the cleverer blog titles I've seen.

A glance through the rest of the blog (about two months old) reveals that he's studying Calvin's Institutes of the Christian Religion at church on Sunday nights, he went to a University of Tulsa home football game this fall (and invented a cocktail in TU's honor), is evidently a conservative. The elephant in the title suggests he's a Republican, too.

Another conservative Republican Calvinist Tulsan blogger? How is it that I don't know this guy already?

Go read "An Elephant in My Pajamas" and leave some comments -- it's a good blog, but he needs to be encouraged to post more often.

To the surprise of none and the disappointment of many, Tulsa Mayor Bill LaFortune has vetoed the ordinance reforming the Economic Development Commission (EDC), the city board charged with oversight of the portion of Tulsa's 5% hotel-motel tax which is earmarked for economic development and convention and tourism development. Word is that the Mayor called the ordinance "divisive," presumably because the Tulsa Metro Chamber doesn't like the idea of oversight and accountability for the millions of tax dollars it receives each year.

The Mayor is also reported to have referred to himself in his veto message as a strong and decisive mayor for all of Tulsa. "Strong mayor" appears to mean strong enough to stand up and say a loud no to the ordinary people of Tulsa who are longing for real reform, who expect economic development money to facilitate real job growth, not expensive junkets like the Mayor's recent Chamber-paid trip to Germany and Liechtenstein or the Chamber's trips to Hawaii and Aruba.

I am told that the Mayor refused to meet with Councilor Chris Medlock, sponsor of the reform, prior to issuing his veto.

The Mayor can call himself strong and decisive all he wants, but that doesn't make it so. I'll agree with that assessment when I see him actually do something that earns him the public condemnation of Chamber President Bob Poe and the Tulsa Whirled editorial page. The reforms he vetoed were reasonable and necessary to ensure that the City of Tulsa's economic development money goes to develop the City of Tulsa and is used effectively. The Council's reform proposal would have brought about geographical representation -- no part of our city left behind -- a coherent economic development strategy, accountability, and freedom from conflicts of interests.

Sometimes being divisive means moving forward even when powerful interests disagree, even with four of nine city councilors voted no.

When Bill LaFortune was running for office, he promised to listen to everyone as he made his decisions. The real question, I told people at the time, is to whom will he be listening when he makes his decision. If we didn't know already, we know now.

What is the Board of Adjustment


Tulsa City Councilor Jim Mautino has proposed allowing Board of Adjustment (BoA) cases to be appealed to the City Council. As it stands, once the BoA acts, the decision can only be appealed to District Court. Councilor Mautino's concern is that this situation puts justice beyond the reach of many who are hurt by a BoA decision, and that having the City Council hear an initial appeal would allow grievances to be handled at a lower cost in time and money.

The response from the Cockroach Caucus has been fascinating to watch, and, as always, the Tulsa Whirled editorial page leads the way, proclaiming that Mautino's proposal is a solution in search of a problem. It's a typically arrogant response -- if we don't have a problem, the problem doesn't exist -- but more about that later. Here's some background to help you understand what this is all about.

The BoA gets involved when a property owner's plans or actions run afoul of the City of Tulsa's zoning code. For example: An owner applies for a building permit and is told that his proposed new structure or addition doesn't comply with setbacks from the street or height limits for the land's zoning classification. A business owner applies for a certificate of occupancy -- changing the use of an existing building -- and is denied because the proposed new use isn't permitted by the zoning for the site. A property owner is cited by Neighborhood Inspections (formerly known as Code Enforcement) for a violation of the zoning code.

A commenter on Captain's Quarters named Caleb, asks some pointed rhetorical questions of those conservatives, like Hugh Hewitt, who think that Arlen Specter should be allowed to chair the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Captain, are you and your hero, Hewitt, familiar with Specter's record. Do you understand that there will be NO tort reform with Specter chairing the Judiciary Comm.?

Do you understand that Specter's absolute buddy, Joe Biden, will be a de facto Co-chairman of the comm.? Do you understand that Specter will make sure Biden knows exactly what strategy the Reps. are going to use? Do you understand that Specter will have no qualms whatever in abrogating any understanding with the GOP caucus the moment he thinks it is to his advantage?

Could you explain to me why we should have bothered to defeat the prime Dem obstructionist, Daschle, if you then immediately put a GOP liberal RINO obstructionist in charge of the Judiciary Comm.? Do you understand that Specter is NOT likely to switch parties because he will then finish out his career in the minority instead of the majority? Do you understand that it would take 6 switches to change the majority in the Senate?

Do you understand that the Conservatives engineered a victory here? Do you understand that the winners are allowed to permit the losers to compromise instead of giving up the moment they manage to win?

Do you understand that Specter will not achieve filabuster reform, but will blame it on anyone but himself? Do you understand that anything the ATA or ABA want will instantly be Specter's command? Do you even begin to understand that this resistance to Specter does NOT begin and end with Roe v Wade?

Do you understand that Specter has earned his reputation as one of the nastiest and least trustworthy of the 100 senators? Do you understand that, when you win the battle, that is the time to ensure that your opponent can never again threaten you and that you do NOT back off and give him back his weapon? The Dems understand that.

Could you perhaps explain why we should bother to win if all we are going to then do is to give our opponents a "do over" to try again?

Do you also support the practice of not keeping score in sports so as not to "humiliate" the loser?

Here's a link to Captain Ed's post -- scroll down a bit to see Caleb's comment in its original location.

Specter's defenders are fond of pointing out his support for Clarence Thomas and in recent years for some of President Bush's judicial appointees, but it should be noted that Specter moves to the right in the year or two before an re-election campaign, to fend off any primary challenges, then moves back to the left immediately after winning re-election. At age 74, Republicans will no longer have re-election as a means of keeping Specter in line with the rest of the caucus.

Coburn mum on Specter


Oklahoma Senator-elect Tom Coburn is quoted in today's Whirled as saying he won't take a public position on whether Sen. Arlen Specter should be elected as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, even though Coburn's philosophy of government and the judicial branch is completely at odds with that of Specter. According to the Whirled (PDF here, jump page here):

"I am not going to get into that," Coburn said. "I don't want to stake out any territory right now publicly." ...

Coburn, who is scheduled to be in Washington over the next few days to attend orientation sessions for new senators, said he has not sat down and looked at the controversy surrounding Specter.

"I am the senator-elect, not the senator," he said.

Coburn, who continues to work out of his Muskogee medical office, said he has not received calls from conservatives on the controversy.

Well, we can fix that! He doesn't have a Senate office yet, but for now you can call his main campaign office in Muskogee at 918-684-4308. The fax number for the campaign office is 918-684-4309. His Muskogee medical office number appears to be 918-682-4318.

Here's what Coburn says on his website about judicial nominations:

Dr. Coburn will actively work to confirm federal judges who respect the Constitution and the original intent of the Founding Fathers. He will oppose activist judges who use the bench to advance political agendas whether liberal or conservative. Dr. Coburn will seek to impeach and limit the jurisdiction of activist judges who abuse their judicial power.

Democrat senators have damaged the confirmation process by their endless and baseless political attacks on well-qualified, well-seasoned Bush judicial nominees.

Dr. Coburn's previous congressional experience will assist him in endeavoring to stabilize the confirmation process and will allow qualified judges the opportunity to receive an up or down vote on the Senate floor.

Arlen Specter, as chairman of the Judiciary Committee, will work to thwart everyone of those admirable goals. The Chairman has only one vote, but a lot of power as to when and how hearings on nominees are conducted. The Chairman controls the staff and the staff has a lot to say about how the issues are presented.

The same Whirled story quoted Sen. Jim Inhofe as saying that he's not happy about Specter as chairman, but he has no plans to oppose him. Inhofe suggested that if Specter breaks his promises he could be removed. That would almost certainly not happen. If a Senate majority, fresh from a triumphant election in which judicial restraint was an important issue, is so bound up in tradition and seniority that they are unwilling to insist on putting someone consistent with party philosophy in charge of an important committee, there is no way they will have the gumption to remove someone once he's already in office.

The controversy over Specter isn't just about abortion. It's about democracy. A bad decision by the Supreme Court 31 years ago removed that controversial subject from the realm of public deliberation. It's not just that Arlen Specter believes abortion should be legal -- it's that he believes that judges should be able to invalidate laws they disagree with, whether or not they have a sound constitutional basis for so doing. Andrew McCarthy got to the heart of the issue in a recent column for National Review Online:

The judiciary-committee controversy is not about abortion. It is about whether there is any meaningful limiting principle that compels judges, regardless of their predilections and the trendy pieties of any particular era, to stay their hands so that Americans are free to live as they choose — including in 50 different ways if that is the judgment of the people in 50 different states.

There are, essentially, two competing visions of judicial philosophy. The first, the one that is regnant at this time (and to which it appears Senator Specter subscribes), is that the Constitution — with its many pliable terms — is as manipulable as necessary to place beyond democracy any issue that may be said to reflect a "value" the American people revere at a given time. The problem here is that this camouflages a brute power reality.

In truth, the American people have very few values which enjoy such broad consensus that, given the choice, our society would enshrine them in our Constitution and render them immune from further popular consideration, regardless of evolving attitudes or changed circumstances. Constitutional protection, we must admit, is a forbidding carapace — one need look no further than the contortions engaged in by would-be reformers when values incontestably engraved in the Constitution, like free speech and bearing arms, collide with innovative schemes like campaign finance and gun control.

It is a commonplace for judicial opinions to couch various concerns in extravagant rhetoric about values claimed to be venerated by all Americans. Yet, at bottom, this reflects nothing more or less than the subjective preferences of a majority (often a bare, fractious majority) of judges — whose views about social issues, even if they masquerade as legal issues, should be of no greater moment than what the people of, say, Bayonne or Des Moines think about abortion, or gay marriage, or stem-cell research.

The second school of thought holds merely this: that judges are not supreme. It contends that there are firm, objective limits to the areas of life that jurists may remove from the democratic self-determination of the American people. They are found in the text of the Constitution as it was originally understood at the time its provisions were adopted. They do not change over time or with passing fancies. This philosophy is erected on an unchanging premise: In a democracy, it is to be presumed that great social conflicts will be resolved democratically. That presumption is not beyond rebuttal, but for it to be overcome there must be unmistakable proof that the dispute at issue was removed from democratic consideration by the Constitution.

So let Sen.-elect Coburn know how you feel on this issue, and you might remind Sen. Inhofe that you are watching how Specter is handled to see whether the Republican majority will follow through on its stated priorities.

MORE: Steve Moore, head of Club for Growth, lays out the case against Specter on National Review Online. And you can learn more about the controversy, why it matters, and what you can do to help here.

Armavirumque links to this nice satirical piece, in which the folks in the Kerry states offer a deal to the inhabitants of Jesusland: Play nice and we won't secede. A couple of excerpts:

We, the bold, free-spirited peoples of the Diverse Lands of Blue America, hereby contract with you, the safe, ordinary drabs of the Nearly-contiguous Lands of Red America to exist peaceably and amicably in the manner to which we've become accustomed....

We need a tremendous amount of ever-changing, ever-improving goods and services. We will need you to provide manpower for industries and meet these needs. As such, we will need you to raise respectful, honest, hard-working children. We don't care how you do it, but please don't tell us how. If it has anything to do the preservation of the "traditional family unit" or instilling "moral values" we really, REALLY don't want to know. ...

We are your story-tellers, and we will present constant meretricious offerings concerning nihilism, the insanity of living and the horror of dying. And just to let you know that we're in touch with your boring little lives, we will occasionally tell you your own story through movies about people that can't wait to leave their backwater towns and girls that have babies in Wal-Mart. Please attend these movies in herds so we can turn around and do ones about the salvific qualities of lawlessness, sexual promiscuity and abortion.

Speaking of Wal-mart -- STOP GOING THERE. We are really, really serious. We would never set foot there ourselves, but it bugs the crap out of us that they exist, seeing as how they run out of business your quaint little shops that we also were never going to.

A commenter adds:

"And we'll of course need you to provide us with a constant supply of food."

And Moxie helpfully provides a travel guide for liberal visitors to Jesusland.

Stillwater runs deep


Joe and I saw OSU's last home game of the season today -- his first college football game ever. The Cowboys whipped Baylor. Most of the excitement came in the last four minutes of the game -- three touchdowns, including a punt return for a TD.

We were not appropriately dressed, as we own no orange clothing. I haven't seen so much orange in one place since the National Association of Parking Lot Attendants convention.

We didn't know the fight songs, but that seemed to be OK, because we didn't hear anyone around us -- and we were surrounded by season ticket holders -- singing either. The OSU fight song is quite complicated -- I think I heard three distinct movements. There's the part where you wave, then some part where you chant "O-S-U".

It was senior day -- 17 senior players, playing the last home game of their college careers, were honored before the game, escorted to the field by two relatives or close friends. The names of the escorts for each player were announced over the PA system. Of the 17 seniors, only 7 players were accompanied by their fathers. (Another had his stepfather with him, and another had his grandfather along.) The rest were accompanied by mothers, grandmothers, and fiancees, but no father figure. Not a good sign.

Pre-game, we found a parking spot on the street, in front of student rental houses with front porches collapsing under the weight of rump-sprung couches which had been "recycled" in the wee hours of trash pickup day. We peeked into Eskimo Joe's, which was packed, then bought lunch (1/3 lb. burgers) at their satellite food tent across the street.

The new stadium is lovely, but it was strange walking into a place named for the man who indirectly ran my dad out of a job back in the mid-80s.

After the game we strolled around campus, noticing all the folks who were making a huge production out of tailgating parties. On the way back to Tulsa, I decided to take a detour and drive home through Cushing and Drumright -- towns I like (especially Drumright, attractively set on a hill) but rarely have occasion to pass through.

Faded Love: The DVD


Was looking at Asleep at the Wheel's tour schedule and found a link to the official Bob Wills website, The site sells a documentary about the King of Western Swing, entitled "Faded Love," available in DVD or VHS formats, and you can watch a lengthy trailer for the DVD here. The trailer includes, toward the end, the theme song from the Texas Playboys radio show. There are some funny and touching comments from folks who remember seeing him and his Texas Playboys perform back in the day.

My grandfather told a story about seeing the Texas Playboys at a dance half way between Bartlesville and Nowata. This would have been back in the late '30s. A fight broke out on the dance floor, and Grandpa found a place to sit on the stage, where he figured he'd be clear of the brawl.

Nowadays there aren't too many folks left who performed with Bob his own self, although there are plenty of musicians who played with musicians who played with Bob.

I am within three degrees of Bob Wills. I've sung in public with my wife. My wife played fiddle on TV with guitarist Eldon Shamblin. Eldon not only played guitar with Bob, he served Bob as manager of the Texas Playboys.

(That TV appearance was in September 1989, on "Oklahoma's Swinging Country," a weekly half-hour show on the Rogers State College TV station. That half-hour show took six hours to get on tape. Debbie Campbell sang on the show, J. D. Walters played steel guitar, and Darrell Magee played piano and served as host.)

Tulsa free WiFi: Cosmo Cafe


Just open this week: Another cafe offering free WiFi to customers. Cosmo at 68th and Memorial, next to Red Lobster on the west side of the street, offers "sophisticated sandwiches," a wide variety of coffees and teas, and a full bar, including Guinness on tap. It's an attractive, comfortable, and roomy place, and it's open from 9 am until midnight. In addition to WiFi access (and lots of convenient outlets), they have a few desktops available for those customers without a laptop. Give them a try.

And don't forget about Caffe Bona (81st & Memorial and 91st & Yale; no website!) and DoubleShot (18th and Boston) -- good coffee and free WiFi.

Pancakes in love


Ever wonder what it would look like if a cartoon character who wears a Mexican wrestling mask and boxing gloves fell in love with a wagon full of pancakes?

Wonder no more! (Macromedia Flash required.)

StrongBad hearts Wagon Fulla Pancakes

This week's Beacon


This week's Tulsa Beacon features the news that the Federal probe into Tulsa's airports is now being extended to Jones Riverside Airport, and particularly examining the Tulsa Airport Authority's dealings with City Councilor Bill Christiansen, who owns Christiansen Aviation, and his only competitor for fuel sales at the airport, Kent Faith's Roadhouse Aviation. Faith's suit against the Tulsa Airport Authority (TAA) and Christiansen was settled out of court. The heart of the matter is the allegation that the TAA adopted rules designed to drive Roadhouse out of business and leave Christiansen with a monopoly, contrary to FAA rules. This will be worth watching.

This week's issue also has a story about Mayor LaFortune's plans to veto the economic development reforms passed by the Council, along with some speculation about who will run for Mayor in 2006.

You can find the Beacon at area QuikTrip stores, among other places. No need to buy the Sunday Whirled, the Beacon has TV and movie listings!

Democrats drawn and quartered


Kevin McCullough links and comments on Walter Shapiro's USA Today column, analyzing the Democrats' dilemma. Shapiro says that the Democrats are really four parties in one, united only by opposition to the Republicans. He names the four factions as "the Party of Cultural Permissiveness," "the Anti-War Party," "the Party of Economic Justice," and "the Status Quo Party." "Status Quo Party" refers to the Democrats' habit of frightening certain constituencies into voting against any change to their pet government programs.

I think he's missing one faction, somewhat related to the "Status Quo Party." That's the "Perks and Power Party" -- the faction devoted simply to doing whatever is necessary to remain in power and enjoying the fruits thereof.

My feeling is that the "Party of Cultural Permissiveness" is on the rise in the Democratic Party, and that if you scratch beneath the surface of many in the other factions, you'll find that cultural issues ultimately motivate their opposition to the Republicans on the war, the economy, and government programs. Increasingly voters sort themselves between the parties based on cultural issues more than any other issue.

Not much time today...


but here are a few links to keep you busy.

For an update on the opposition Arlen Specter's prospective Senate Judiciary Committee chairmanship, visit There's more not to like about Specter than just his position on abortion -- he's wrong on tort reform, equal opportunity, and countless other legal issues where he lines up with the forces that have been turning our judiciary into a swamp of subjectivity and anti-democratic arrogance.

Tim Carney, formerly with the Evans and Novak Political Report, is a frequent contributor to I met him during the Republican National Convention, and he was following the Oklahoma Senate race closely. He's got a column worth reading that puts Coburn's victory and the Specter controversy into context.

Yasser Arafat, world's oldest terrorist, is fully and utterly dead, to the delight of millions, including Roger L. Simon, who has apt comments here and here. Rather than reading the nauseating encomiums of Jimmy Carter and his ilk, take time to remember one of Arafat's victims, an American teenager named Abigail Litle.

Heard Tulsa Mayor Bill LaFortune on KFAQ this morning. This is the second week in a row that he's come on at 8:45 on Friday, which means no time for rebuttal before the weekend -- he gets the last word. He spoke about several city vacancies: an airport board member, airport director, airport legal counsel, and the deputy mayor. He also reaffirmed his support for Jim Cameron and Lou Reynolds on the water board, and reaffirmed his opposition to recall of Councilors Jim Mautino and Chris Medlock. I'm hoping to have time to get into all that this weekend.

Another thing I hope to get to -- at a Tulsa City Council committee meeting on Tuesday, Josh Fowler, a Broken Arrow resident and executive director for the Homebuilders Association, expressed the radical view that there should be no land use regulation at all. As a conservative, I'm sympathetic to leaving the free market as unburdened as possible, but as the saying goes, "My liberty to swing my fist ends where your nose begins." So I hope to write about the philosophical basis for land use regulation and what kind of system we ought to have.

Homeowners for Fair Zoning website


Tulsa's Homeowners for Fair Zoning has launched an attractive new website, which features a "news log," which is in fact a Movable Type blog, used for HFFZ news items, announcements, and editorials. Eventually, they'll add content about the organization and how to join. The news log currently features an editorial in support of Councilor Jim Mautino's proposal regarding Board of Adjustment appeals and an article about the reappointments to the water board, which was featured in an earlier entry here. Add it to your bookmarks.

Medlock relaunches website


Tulsa City Councilor Chris Medlock has relaunched his website as a way to get his perspective on City Hall controversies directly to the public, unfiltered by the media.

For example, there's this article about Mayor LaFortune's response to the reforms to the Economic Development Commission approved by the Council. An excerpt:

So here we are. We have an ordinance in place that broadens the scope and responsibilities of the EDC, so that the members, chosen by LaFortune, can now look beyond the confines of just the Hotel/Motel Tax, to begin looking at all elements of our city's economy. We have an ordinance that requires from any contracting organization (the ordinance never directly mentions the Metropolitan Tulsa Chamber of Commerce) full disclosure of how tax dollars are spent. The ordinance ensures that all areas of Tulsa will be represented, rather than two or three zip codes. We have an ordinance that deals firmly with conflicts of interest and empowers a majority the city council to remove members for cause (note: "cause" is defined in our City Charter. As such, you need better reason to remove an EDC member from the commission than you need to remove a councilor from the City Council).

While it is true that Mayor LaFortune offered the council an alternative ordinance, he did so just hours before we were set to vote on the council's version. I had met with the Mayor and his aide, Tom Warren, on the Wednesday preceding the vote. This meeting was to discuss the handful of minor changes that the Mayor had suggested in the Legislative and Public Safety committee meeting the Tuesday before. As he left the meeting, (ironically to meet with Metro Chamber Chairman Bob Poe), we were all still under the understanding that the Mayor would suggest some small changes to reflect his earlier statements. But that was a faulty assumption.

Rather than some minor tweaking, we got what amounted to a virtual rewrite. Please remember that the ordinance in the form that was ultimately passed, was the result of dozens of meetings with the feed back and compromise of dozens of stakeholders. What the Mayor presented to the council was a document better suited for an opening negotiation, not for an 11th hour alternative. What the mayor proposed couldn't have been more devoid of serious reform, if it had been written by Chairman Poe himself. ...

Last minute delays are becoming a hallmark of this administration. Appeals for "reasonableness" and "not rushing things" can often be compelling. But when they become mantras of confusion or ill preparedness, then ending the discussion and moving on becomes a rational act. What is irrational is to consistently stall in hopes of an issue merely going away, or resolving itself through other's efforts.

The mayor is certainly within his rights to veto. In fact, those of us who voted for the ordinance expected he would do so before we ever entered the council room. However, all acts convey something about the person taking the action. In this case, should the mayor veto, we will learn that he is more interested in the promises that will secure him votes for the next election, rather than keeping the promises that won him the last election.

The site is still under construction, but it should be worth regular visits. I hope Medlock will look into adding blog software to his site, which will make it simpler for him to add new content while keeping the old content available. And a wiki would be perfect for the "Players' List" he plans to add -- as a way to allow Tulsans to explore all the connections between various players in city government.

Not entirely above board


A revealing tidbit from yesterday's Tulsa Whirled story on the re-renomination of Jim Cameron and Lou Reynolds to the Tulsa Metropolitan Utility Authority (TMUA):

During Tuesday's interview, Henderson asked the men if they knew Herbert Haschke Jr., treasurer of the Coalition for Responsible Government 2004, which is conducting a recall effort against Medlock and Mautino.

Reynolds said he might have had legal dealings with him, and Cameron said Haschke did some estate planning for his father.

Henderson asked whether the men supported the recall effort. Reynolds said he was neutral about it, and Cameron never answered.

According to the records of the Oklahoma Secretary of State, Haschke and Reynolds are co-incorporators of "THE COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE ASSOCIATION OF TULSA, INC." Haschke and Cameron were co-incorporators of "IHCRC REALTY CORPORATION" -- IHCRC stands for Indian Health Care Resource Center, of which Jim Cameron is secretary of the Board of Directors. BatesLine reported this information a month ago (here and here).

Why did Cameron and Reynolds choose not to be open and direct about their dealings with Haschke? This is one more example of the refusal of these two men to be cooperative and forthcoming with the City Council, and one more reason why the Mayor should fulfill his commitment to name two other Tulsans to replace them on the TMUA.

Mind the map


Found some wonderful London Underground map links and a blog devoted to maps.

The Map Room features links to all sorts of maps. Recent entries (here, here, here, and here) focus on our recent elections, with links to maps that present election results in creative ways, like this New York Times map which uses population density to show red and blue America in a way that may be somewhat less scary to the blue blue voters.

The Map Room also links to an archive of maps of the London Underground from 1905 to the present, and to this Grauniad article about Henry Beck, the man who designed the distinctive Underground diagram.

Speaking of the Underground, you can find another tube map archive here, the rules for the game Mornington Crescent (and a simplified Java version) here, and a funny but practical "Ultimate Guide to the London Underground" here. The London Transport Museum has an online shop, which offers among many other products customized clothes with your favorite station name or slogan. My favorites (and it is my birthday, hint hint) are a London trivia game with the tube map as the game board, and a CD containing the TrueType and Postscript versions of the Johnston font used on Underground maps and literature. (The font in the logo for this site is Gill Sans, which is similar but not an exact match for Johnston.) (The font is available less expensively here.)

Wictory Wednesday: Support the RNC


Wictory Wednesdays roll on. As we savor last week's big wins, we have to lay the groundwork for future victories. The Republican National Committee does some of the groundwork that helps Republican candidates at every level of government. The appeal for this Wictory Wednesday is to contribute to the RNC, which you can do by clicking this link.

You can find a list of the blogs that participate in Wictory Wednesday on the right side of my homepage at the bottom of the sidebar.

Just got word that the House District 78 hand recount is complete, and Democrat Jeannie McDaniel remains the winner, by 24 votes. That represents a narrowing of the original margin of 34 votes. The changes resulted from ballots where too light a mark was missed by the scanners (particularly a problem with absentee ballots, which are marked with pencil rather than black ink), or where a stray mark was registered as an overvote. Condolences to Republican nominee David Schaffer, who ran a great race against a tough opponent -- I hope he'll give it another shot. To win reelection in two years McDaniel will have to demonstrate to this swing district that she can be effective despite being in the minority party. In this campaign she was able to soft-pedal her views on the issues, but in two years she'll have a voting record, and District 78 voters will be able to decide if her views reflect their own.

I received this via e-mail from Homeowners for Fair Zoning, requesting Tulsans to express their opposition to the reappointment of two controversial water board members, which will be on the agenda at Thursday night Tulsa City Council meeting. It includes a good overview of the reasons for rejecting the reappointments:


Councilor Sam Roop (e-mail is set to reverse a lot of effort of the Reform Alliance of Five City Councilors who, with his support, have declined to confirm the Mayor's reappointment of Jim Cameron and Lou Reynolds to the Tulsa Metropolitan Utility Authority (TMUA). For background on this issue read BatesLine: Picking at a scab. Although Councilor Roop has announced his intention to reverse his position and confirm these nominees, you are requested to e-mail him your thoughts under the subject caption of "Please do not confirm appointments of Cameron and Reynolds." The confirmation vote will likely be at the 6:00 p.m. Tulsa City Council Meeting on November 18th.

The TMUA is Tulsa's water board. Through bonded indebtedness, the citizens of Tulsa pay for the infrastructure (pumping stations, water lines, sewer lines, water treatment facilities, etc.) which provide our water system, including water to surrounding communities like Broken Arrow, Jenks and Owasso. The Mayor is demanding that two current board members, Mr. Cameron and Mr. Reynolds, be reappointed to TMUA. Aside from potential conflicts of interest, there are several good reasons not to confirm the reappointment of these longtime board members.

Anyone who has been in their appointed positions as long as these two men have has stopped examining the basis for their decisions and policies. As indicated by their discussion before the City Council, if confirmed, they will continue to support a water board policy of extending water service to those areas, inside or outside of Tulsa, which can demonstrate an immediate need for the facilities and at the same rates paid by citizens of Tulsa. Decisions for future extensions of the water system will not be principally based on developing areas within Tulsa. To these nominees, the idea of extending lines within North, East and West Tulsa to interest and draw business development is considered overly speculative. Furthermore, they consider linking loss of sales tax for the suburbs to increased water rates as beyond their purview. They do not view the water
board as a potential revenue generating source for the City.

When some members of the City Council, led by Councilors Mautino and Medlock, tried to question whether it would be practical to charge a higher rate for water service to communities outside Tulsa to offset the loss in sales tax revenue which Tulsa suffers when those communities develop and lower Tulsa's sales tax base, TMUA staff delayed furnishing information and a massive turnout of those who stood to benefit financially by not having the water rates and location of pipeline extensions examined was used to try to intimidate these councilors.

Since Jim Cameron and Lou Reynolds lead and for all practical purposes set the policy of TMUA, their reappointment will also confirm these policies and prevent a highly desirable examination of what Tulsa's future water policy should be. For Tulsa's sake, it's time to examine water policy. Let Councilor Roop know what you think!

HD 78 recount today

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Republican nominee David Schaffer has requested a hand recount in the Oklahoma House District 78 race. Initial returns show him losing by 34 votes to Democrat nominee Jeannie McDaniel -- only a couple of votes per precinct. There were ballot scanner problems in precinct 157 -- the ballots in that precinct were rerun through the machine on election night and produced an increase in votes for Schaffer.

The recount happens today in the Tulsa County Courthouse in Judge Tom Gillert's courtroom at 9:30 am.

The fact that we can have this recount and cope with a voting machine problem is an indication of the superiority of Oklahoma's approach to counting votes. We fall short in voter authentication, but there is a tangible, persistent record of those votes which are cast, unlike the touchscreen systems and the old-fashioned mechanical tallying systems which leave no records, at least none which can be verified by the voter and which are human-readable.

Picking at a scab

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We thought the matter was settled. Three Republican councilors -- Sam Roop, Chris Medlock, and Jim Mautino -- signed a letter to Mayor Bill LaFortune saying that under no circumstances would they approve the reappointment of Jim Cameron and Lou Reynolds to the Tulsa Metropolitan Utility Authority (TMUA) -- Tulsa's water board. Just over three months ago, the Council rejected their reappointment, and the city establishment reacted with outrage and fury, which made ordinary citizens wonder what the big deal was. The reaction reminded some people of the defensive behavior of a guilty husband caught in an affair. My wife thought the word "apoplectic" was a good fit for the Cockroach Caucus's reaction. The uproar reminded me of the scene from "The Wizard of Oz" when Dorothy pours water on the Wicked Witch, and she shrieks, "I'm melting!"

After weeks of contention, the Mayor had finally committed to nominate two replacements, but before he got around to it, Sam Roop went to the Mayor and said that he no longer had any objection to Cameron and Reynolds being reappointed, and encouraged the Mayor to put their names back before the Council.

So here we are again, and thanks to Mr. Roop, the nominations are on this morning's Public Works Committee agenda at 8 a.m. We will almost certainly see the renominations approved, and the Tulsa Whirled will take the opportunity to praise him for his maturity and judgment and at the same time beat up the other four Reform Alliance councilors. The "injury" caused by the contention was healing nicely, and city officials were moving forward, when Councilor Roop ripped the scab off and reopened the wound.

The issue at the heart of the renomination dispute was whether our water board's policy is in the best interest of the City of Tulsa and its citizens. Are the suburbs paying the costs of extending water service to them? Are the suburbs paying a fair rate for our water? Are our water policies fueling suburban sprawl to the detriment of the City's sales tax base? These questions were raised at a Budget Committee meeting later on the same day (July 27, 2004) that Cameron's and Reynolds' renominations were before the Public Works Committee. Here are the online minutes for that Budget Committee meeting:

1. Discussion with Public Works/Environmental Operations and representatives from TMUA Board with emphasis on planning and decision making processes (including unserved areas within the City limits) and calculation of return on investment. 04-411

Discussion or Action At Meeting:

Discussion of this item lasted for more than an hour. Mr. Cameron made a presentation on TMUA and it policies. TMUA has a plan for this decade and the next decade that is demand driven, that is they have decided to take certain actions as demand dictate. There is a process for making service averrable to unserved areas in the City. it is not TMUA's policy to provide the individual development or entitiy with service, they provide major lines only. Those lines are usually a reaction to not an impetus for development. Wholesale customers pay the City at least a ten percent return on applicable investment to date and on investment expected to occur in the next five years. The rate model is the same for all outside customers.

More than one Councilor expressed concern over the City’s present rate of development relative to surrounding communities and the role of water and sewer in this process. Considerable discussion ensued with he eventual conclusion that this topic needs more discussion.

Instead of allowing the Council time to study and discuss the issue with TMUA, the very next day the TMUA voted to authorize extending a water line to the suburb of Bixby. It was a slap in the face of the citizens of Tulsa, through our elected representatives, by making this commitment so quickly after several council members raised concerns.

The only means the Council has to ensure that a board or authority is implementing the will of the people is at reappointment time. The highhanded TMUA action on July 28 required a strong response from the Council, not passive acquiescence.

I am disappointed in Sam Roop's decision to go back on his commitment to oppose these nominations. Like his apology to then City Attorney Martha Rupp Carter in 2002, Roop's pulling back in this case will fuel the Cockroach Caucus' attacks on Roop's colleagues. In 2002, that situation killed the reelection hopes of Roscoe Turner and Todd Huston, and it nearly lost the election for Roop. The apology gave the newspaper a reason to hammer these councilors over and over again. Roop's decision plays right into the hands of the groups actively seeking to remove Councilors Mautino and Medlock in a recall.

Sam Roop has done a lot of good things and taken some bold stands in his time on the Council. Reopening this wound isn't one of them.

Time for an adjustment


Tulsa City Councilor Jim Mautino has proposed a significant change to the process of land use regulation. The usual suspects have reacted with shock and horror, breathing threats of vengeance. It fits the template I posted a couple of days ago: A city councilor makes a proposal to address a need or concern that has been around for a long time, but which has been ignored by previous councils. The city establishment responds as if it is being subjected to medieval torture.

Mautino wants citizens to be able to appeal Board of Adjustment (BoA) decisions to the City Council, rather than having to hire an attorney and go to District Court to reverse or amend the decision. Homeowners say that some BoA decisions can have a negative impact on neighboring properties, but the cost of appealing those decisions is beyond the means of many property owners. Developers are concerned that putting the City Council in the loop will politicize land use decisions and adds a degree of uncertainty and delay that would make many projects uneconomical.

To my eyes, that looks like the starting point of a discussion about what the real problems are and the fairest way to answer both sets of concerns. But for snarling loonies like Tulsa Metro Chamber Bob Poe, it's one more reason to destroy these city councilors.

In another post, I'll get into the technicalities -- what the Board of Adjustment does, how it differs from the planning commission, and some of the problems that have led Councilor Mautino to propose this change. My feeling is that this proposal would be just another patch on another heavily patched and broken land use system that doesn't fit Tulsa's needs any more, as we transition from developing open space to redeveloping in already developed neighborhoods. We need to find an approach that offers more certainty to everyone involved in the process, rather than making the outcome dependent on the skill of lawyers and the whims of unelected board members. We need a system that protects us against land-use situations that really do create problems, while allowing the creativity of the market freedom to work. We need a system that will help us build the kind of city we want to live in. It's time to have that conversation.

Someone, presumably Sarah Seward, who put the map on the web, observed that all the states that John Kerry won (except Hawaii) are contiguous with Canada. So if I understand the map, the idea is to have the Kerry states (appropriately pink) secede and merge with Canada to form the United States of Canada, while the remainder of the US (a green and pleasant land) would be renamed Jesusland, in honor of the Carpenter from Nazareth whose claims to Lordship are taken seriously by a lot of people in the proposed new nation.

You might not think that Jessica, a young Jewish woman from New York City, would feel comfortable in Jesusland, but you'd be wrong. In fact, she tell us that she hearts it. Follow that link to find out why.

Meanwhile, OkiePundit, who's from Jesusland, doesn't seem that pleased about it (a bit of litotes there), and thinks that evangelicals "are not only one of the greatest dangers to a liberal democracy in the United States but a threat to the world at large if they take control of this superpower." But in the same entry he tells us:

Blog outage sometime soon


I was sorry to learn today that my hosting provider, BlogHosts, is going out of business. BlogHosts provided great service at an incredible price. They started up in early 2003, and I think I must have been one of their earliest customers.

The official reason for closing down:

Several technical problems with our backend have corrupted critical portions of our billing and support databases. While we have tried to recover this data several times and enlisted the help of an outside agency our efforts have been in vain. Although security has been very good we've found several discrepancies in our logs indicating the damage may have been intentional. For these reasons we have decided to stop taking new orders and will eventually cease operation altogether.

My guess is that they had a hard time managing rapid success. The web took some nasty hits during election week, with traffic reaching all-time highs. I kept getting reports from people who couldn't get through to my site.

For whatever reason, BlogHosts hasn't notified its customers directly. I found out by accident when I went to the site to see about help with a Movable Type upgrade.

So I'm looking for a new hosting provider. A search through Technorati is turning up a number of suggestions, which I am adding here for my own reference and the reference of others trying to find a new cyberhome. I am not vouching for any of them, but I'll be checking what each one offers.

BlogHosts will shut down on January 1, but I hope to migrate to a new server long before then. I'll give you some warning -- you shouldn't notice anything more than a temporary outage.


If you're not happy about the possibility of America's Worst Senator being in charge of the Senate Judiciary Committee, -- a project of -- has the tools to help you communicate your views to those who will make the decisions, including an easy way, for a nominal fee, to send faxes to judiciary committee members and the entire GOP Senate caucus. Check it out.

No, I haven't forgotten about Tulsa


I will be back to writing about local politics, although I don't think I've missed much. It's the same old pattern:

  1. Member of City Council majority proposes solution to a widely-held concern that has been ignored by the city establishment.
  2. Tulsa Whirled reports the story, accompanied by a distorting headline and an unflattering picture of the Councilor in question.
  3. Tulsa Metro Chamber Chairman Bob Poe delivers a ranting condemnation in front of a civic group.
  4. Mayor Bill LaFortune tries to find a way to appear decisive without making anyone not like him.
  5. Tulsa Whirled publishes editorial condemning the foolish Councilors for questioning a policy that has been around for years and that the city establishment is quite content with.
  6. Councilor Sam Roop steps away from his erstwhile colleagues and into the spotlight, skull in hand, to recite a soliloquy from Hamlet, so that everyone can see that he's the only real grownup on the Council.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

Specifics to be addressed sometime Sunday. There's the EDC thing -- the Mayor was talking about it on KFAQ Friday morning. Then there's Councilor Mautino's proposal regarding Board of Adjustment appeals.

Horserace analysis


Jay Cost, the Horserace Blogger has the first two installments of his post-election analysis up. I think he has the Bush/Cheney campaign just about right.

...Billy Sims Barbecue Sauce and Selmon Brothers Barbecue Sauce.

But these Sooner greats aren't just to be found in the stores. Heisman Trophy winner Billy Sims has a barbecue place at the Farm Shopping Center now, where the dishes are named after the opponents of the Sooners -- e.g., the beef brisket plate is the Bevo Plate. And Outland Award winner Lee Roy Selmon (youngest brother of Lucious and Dewey) has a couple of theme restaurants in the Tampa area, where he played pro football.

In the course of "researching" this story, I came across this funny Oklahoma retelling of Hansel and Gretel -- "Harold Dean and Grettie Mae." You'll find four more Okie fairy tales linked from this page. They made me laugh so hard my wife figured out I wasn't working and told me to do some chores. Darn it.

A friend in the New York City metro area writes to congratulate me on Oklahoma's 66% support for President Bush. My correspondent expresses interest in relocating to such a solidly conservative state.

Well, look before you leap. You'll still find some angry, cranky folks in that remaining 34%. Sure, most Kerry-Okies will calmly resign themselves to this reminder of their minority status in a place where most folks are misguided but are nevertheless friendly. Oklahoma and its people may be weird, but Oklahoma is home.

But you have a minority of that minority who are stuck here against their will. NPR on the FM dial, home delivery of the New York Times, Borders, Utica Square, the museums, the opera, the ballet, and the coffee bars (local indies and national chains alike) all help to insulate these folks from the indignity of living in Oklahoma. And just like the most abrasive of the liberal majority in Manhattan, these beleagured Tulsa lefties assume that anyone who is intelligent, anyone who is hip, anyone who shares their love of high culture, good writing, and an expensive cup of coffee must be a liberal, too, like this woman my friend Richard Spears encountered in Starbucks the day after the election. Richard writes:

I met Charlie, our 15 year old, at the bus stop and wisked him to Starbucks for a spontaneous and way-too-infrequent hour of just talking: School, girls, the campaign, faith. Just as I launched into a quick description of a provisional ballot, the gal sitting 5 feet away from us leaned over a asked, "What are you, some sort of politician?" She was a 30 year old wife in a pullover sweatshirt who had been intensely studying her biology notes during the 40 minutes we chatted. I said no, my son and I just try to be informed voters with an open mind.

(As you know, Mike, I would define the right side of the political spectrum were it not for my very real interest in NPR, which drags me half a notch left.)

Then, with hardly a pause to breathe, this stranger, assuming we were fellow left-leaning Democrats (she heard the word "informed" and assumed we were Liberals, no doubt), launched into a diatribe that touched upon:

Dear Senator Frist:

Congratulations on Tuesday's results. As a Republican State Committeeman and a volunteer for the 72-hour Task Force here in Tulsa, I was thrilled to see the huge turnout of Republicans, sweeping President Bush into office and giving you four more seats in the Senate. Tom Coburn's big win here was heartening for all of us who care about fiscal responsibility and the sanctity of human life.

It was heartening to see the high turnout by religious conservatives. Across the nation, millions of voters supported Republican candidates because of their concerns about moral issues and about the activist judges who seek to overrule the will of the people on moral issues.

I am writing to ask that you do whatever you can to ensure that someone other than Arlen Specter be elected Chairman of the Judiciary Committee. Allowing Sen. Specter to assume the chairmanship would damage the Republican Party's credibility with those millions who were motivated by moral issues. It would be breaking faith with these voters to give control over the judicial nomination process to a senator who is not committed to judicial restraint. Sen. Specter has blocked and would block judges who are committed to applying the Constitution and laws as they are.

What will happen if conservative nominees are blocked by Sen. Specter? How will conservative voters respond if the President is forced to nominate squishy centrists and judicial activists in order to get any nominees out of committee?

In this election, we saw the Democrats trying to blur the distinction between them and the Republicans on the sanctity of human life. They tried to convince pro-life voters that voting Republican wouldn't advance their cause -- for example, Chris Matthews' assertion that President Bush isn't really pro-life. Here in Oklahoma, Brad Carson, the pro-abortion candidate tried to pose as a pro-life candidate, while smearing Tom Coburn as an abortionist because he performed life-saving surgeries on two women with ectopic pregnancies. The Democrats' hope was that those who are passionate about the sanctity of human life would stay at home.

We were able to rebut this by pointing to President Bush's record of accomplishments and Tom Coburn's clear pro-life voting record in the House. We alerted these voters to the danger that Democrats might regain control of the Senate, at a time when at least three Supreme Court justices are ready to step down and countless lower court seats remain vacant. No matter how conservative the Democratic nominee for Senate might seem, the question boiled down to this: "Do you want a Vermont liberal controlling who becomes a Federal judge?" That concern brought pro-life and pro-traditional-values voters home for the GOP and gave you a stronger majority to lead.

Think ahead to 2006. What will happen if a Pennsylvania liberal Republican spends two years blocking good judicial nominees because they are conservatives? "Values voters" will wonder if the Democrats were right -- does it really matter who controls the Senate? Expect religious conservative turn out to drop and Republicans to lose seats in 2006 as a result.

I am sure that Sen. Specter is promising to be a good boy and a team player, but I don't believe that he will. He is too vain, too fond of the praise he receives from the mainstream media when he betrays his own party. When we really need him, he isn't there for us. Wouldn't it be better to give the Judiciary chairmanship to someone who really believes in his core what your Platform Committee wrote? "The sound principle of judicial review has turned into an intolerable presumption of judicial supremacy. A Republican Congress, working with a Republican president, will restore the separation of powers and re-establish a government of law." A senator with Specter's views, so out of sync with the mainstream of the Republican Party, should be a backbencher, not chairman of one of the most powerful committees.

For the sake of the "values voters", for the sake of traditional values, traditional marriage, and the sanctity of human life, please don't let Arlen Specter be chairman of the Judiciary Committee.


Michael D. Bates

New Yorkers invade swing states


Jessica of The New Vintage, one of the New York Republican bloggers I met during the Republican National Convention, went to Iowa to help during the last few days of the campaign. She is back home and starting to write up her experiences here. One of her first stories is of handling ticket check for the VIP section at President Bush's appearance in Sioux City, and seeing the whole first family up close. She says she has the pictures to prove it -- let's see 'em.

Meanwhile, another blogger I met in New York City, Dawn Summers (aka Evil Dawn), who is anything but a Republican, writes of her experiences campaigning in Arizona (which was anything but a swing state, as it turned out) here.

Karol of Alarming News worked for the Republicans in Durango, Colorado, and posted way too much for me to link to everything she wrote about her time there. She has also posted a pile of pictures. I imagine she'll be writing more once she's gotten some sleep.

I've already linked to Scott Sala's journeys to Philadelphia and New Jersey.

Let's hope that the New York Republican Party can get its act together sufficiently that these young Republicans will be able to stay home and make a difference in competitive races.

Warning: Heavy number-crunching follows.

Republicans won 9 (possibly 10, pending a recount) out of the 23 open Oklahoma House seats previously held by Democrats, plus they replaced incumbent Democrat Roy McClain with Dan Sullivan in House 71 (a 13 point margin). Republicans lost one incumbent -- Stuart Ericson (HD 13) was swamped by a Brad Carson turnout push in the Carson's 2nd Congressional District and lost to Jerry McPeek by 347 votes (3%). A net pickup of 8 gives Republicans 57 seats to 44 for the Democrats. If David Schaffer (HD 78) prevails in a recount, the score would go to 58-43, just nine votes short of a two-thirds majority. made their State House picks last week and even polled 17 key races -- 13 open Democrat seats, two incumbent Democrat seats, and two open Republican seats. Let's compare their picks to the results in open Democrat seats (SoonerPoll rating in parentheses after the seat number, and poll result where available, MOE +/- 4.4%). came very near the result (within MOE) in Districts 10, 12, 55, 59, 64, 78, and 92. They didn't poll a couple of races that turned out to be upsets -- Districts 5 and 42, which were rated likely D but went Republican, and District 13, a likely R seat held by an incumbent that went D. In some cases, they got the winner right but were way off on the margin -- like HD 30, and HD 33, supposedly a 1.5% leaner, which ended up a 28 point landslide.

Other "leaning D" seats went heavily for the Republican: In HD 27, they polled it as leaning D by 2.7 but it was won by the Republican by 12 points. The two open Republican seats they had as leaners, but the Republicans won by double-digits.

I give a lot of credit to for making the effort to poll these races and making the result public. There are some improvements to be made, either in their likely voter screen or their random selection method. The Republican GOTV effort probably accounts for the bigger-than-expected margins.

Race-by-race info after the jump.

Tom Coburn won because...


Katherine Bates stamped 101 mailers...


and Joseph Bates stamped more than 1000, and helped tag the bulk rate trays...


and a lot of other boys and girls, moms and dads, college kids and retirees made phone calls, dropped flyers on doorsteps, talked to their friends, and sent e-mails.

Take a look at that photo and at all the youngsters working in the background. Stay-at-home moms brought their kids after school, homeschool moms built campaigning into the curriculum. This is the Roe effect at work -- coming generations are going to be more conservative than the Baby Boomers and the Gen-Xers. The kids who helped with Tom Coburn's campaign were born to parents who place more value on life than on convenience and career, parents who understand the importance of acting on one's beliefs, and these children are learning to embrace the same values.

It's not just the unwashed hippy peaceniks who have time for political action in the middle of the day. If the lefties ever understand the political power of families, they'll probably try to mandate day care and 10 hour days in public school.

(Photos by my lovely wife, the proud mom of these kids.)

Bush wins!



and Katherine says hooray!

It's been a busy day and a frantic evening. I finally got to a computer about an hour ago to post a summary of the Oklahoma results over at The Command Post.

Earlier in the evening, from 7 until about 10, I was doing "color commentary" on News Talk 1170 KFAQ, live from the Republican watch party in Tulsa, and I was three feet away, but without my camera handy, as Tom Coburn got the word that the networks were predicting him to win the U. S. Senate race.

I'll be on KFAQ again in the morning, from 6 until about 8, sifting through the results.

It was frustrating to see how slowly the state election board results were being updated. Tulsa results were very late to come in. The results look great for Oklahoma, and things look very hopeful nationwide.

Unless something extraordinary happens, don't expect an update here until midday tomorrow at the earliest. In the meantime, you can watch the remaining Oklahoma results trickle in here.

And Jay Cost's Horserace Blog has some fascinating coverage, looking at county by county results in the battleground states and comparing them with the 2000 results. Things don't look good for the President in Iowa or Michigan, but things are hopeful in Ohio and Wisconsin.

A brief voters' guide


(ENTRY POSTED 8:10 PM, Monday, November 1, postdated to remain at the top through election day.)

The Tulsa County Election Board website is here.

Here is a precinct locator: Enter your address, and the locator will tell you what precinct you're in, where you vote, and what districts you're in. There's even a photo of the building that hosts the polling place.

Nationwide, you can go to to look up your precinct location. The result will also tell you what kind of voting device is used and how to make sure your vote is counted in that kind of device. They tell you the hours that your polling place will be open. They also provide a phone number for the county election board and a link to the state election board website.

You can look at PDFs of the different ballots that will be seen in Tulsa County here.

Some voter's guides that may help you:

Oklahoma Family Policy Council (all offices plus state questions)
Christian Coalition (PDF -- Presidential and Senate races only)
Oklahomans for Life (4 MB PDF -- all offices)
Oklahoma Libertarian Party
Oklahoma Prosperity Project

My picks


(ENTRY POSTED 6:59 PM, Monday, November 1, postdated to remain at the top through election day.)

UPDATED 12:00 AM, Tuesday: I've moved off dead center on 707.

Here's how I'm voting tomorrow -- click the link below, for my choices with links to what I've written about them:

My best guess


Here's my guess as to the result, with the help of the electoral vote calculator:


State Question 707 takes several creative financial manuevers that local governments are already permitted to do, and allows them to commit to doing them over several years.

Already, a local government can set up a Tax Increment Finance district to capture increased tax revenue in a redeveloping area and use that incremental revenue to make improvements within the district. The district around Home Depot in downtown Tulsa generated the revenue to pay for the streets and utilities for the Village at Central Park.

Already, a local government can pledge its own revenues to other governmental bodies. Oklahoma City did this with "MAPS for Kids", raising the sales tax and directing the proceeds to the many, many school districts that overlap with OKC's municipal boundaries.

But these arrangements have to be renewed on a year-to-year basis. This means that governments can't issue revenue bonds borrow against anticipated future receipts from these sources, as they can do with sales taxes, use taxes, and property taxes.

As I understand it, 707 would allow these sorts of revenues to be committed for multiple years, and rather than be limited by pay-as-you-go, local governments could issue revenue bonds against those anticipated revenues. This would make it possible to undertake larger projects that would take too long to complete if it had to be done pay-as-you-go.

On the one hand, nearly every other revenue source available to local government can be pledged against revenue bonds. This puts these special sources of revenue on par with garden variety property tax and sales tax.

On the other hand, these sources of income aren't necessarily as reliable as more traditional sources, and it's possible that a city could get in over its head.

I'm also concerned about giving local governments the ability to fund bigger projects before the Supreme Court rules on the propriety of using eminent domain to transfer land from the current private owner to another private owner. If the Court affirms that such a practice is unconstitutional, I'd be less concerned about eminent domain abuse being facilitated by the ability to issue long-term debt for such purposes.

At the moment I'm leaning in favor.

Some election day sermons


In the olden days, it was customary for pastors to preach election day sermons, an opportunity to instruct the flock in the Biblical principles that should inform the exercise of their franchise. The practice is enjoying something of a revival. The best election sermon is not one marked by blatant advocacy for or against a candidate but by calling the congregation to consider first principles: For what purposes did God establish human government? What is its proper place among God's ordained institutions, such as the church and the family? Christians in New Testament times were persecuted and didn't have the right to participate in imperial Roman politics (not that anyone else had the right) -- how then should we conduct ourselves in a nation where we do have such rights?

Christians have tended to oscillate between radical activism and pietistic apathy. The Oklahoma Council for Policy Analysis has posted a fascinating speech by Graham Walker, delivered to a chapel service at Oklahoma Wesleyan University. Walker seeks to guide the listener to steer a course between the two extremes. No time to comment, but you will find it here.

The trend among Democrat campaigns this year is to blur distinctions, to pose the Democrat as a conservative, and to pretend that the Republican is not really a good conservative. We've seen this in the presidential race, and in the U. S. Senate race in Oklahoma, where Democrats have tried to find some pretext for laying claim to the pro-life mantle, while trying to paint their Republican opponents as insufficiently pro-life.

In one sense, this is an encouraging trend, inasmuch as it demonstrates that conservatives are on many issues setting the terms of the debate. The question is whether the voters will understand how Democrat candidates are trying to trick them into believing that up is down and left is right.

That technique has been filtering down into state legislative races. A friend who lives in House District 23 received a hit piece by Democrat David Mitchell Garrett, Jr., attacking Republican incumbent Sue Tibbs. I haven't seen the ad, but it shook up my friend, a good conservative, enough to make him wonder whether he should vote for Sue Tibbs. A flyer saying "she's too conservative" would not have fazed my friend, so I'm guessing the ad said she wasn't conservative enough. I assured him that Sue Tibbs is the conservative candidate in the race and is a great state legislator.

In Senate District 33, a seat made open by term limits, Republican former Tulsa City Councilor Dewey Bartlett Jr. is making a strong run in a long-time Democrat seat against Democrat Tom Adelson. Adelson is responding to the challenge by distorting Dewey Bartlett's record.

Last night I received photocopies of four mail pieces sent out by the Adelson campaign. One has a picture of a senior with his head in his hands and the caption "Taxes too high?" On the reverse, you see a kind of split screen -- Bartlett on the left against a dark background, photoshopped to look like he's holding a big bag of money; Adelson on the right against a light background with a kind of smirk on his face. The text on Bartlett's side says that as a city councilor, "Dewey raised city sales taxes by $230 million." On Adelson's side it says, "Tom Adelson says NO to tax hikes without a vote of the people." (The piece doesn't have the word Bartlett anywhere on it, apparently to avoid triggering positive memories of Dewey Bartlett Sr., the popular Republican governor and senator.

The vote in question was to put a renewal of the City of Tulsa's "third penny" sales tax for capital improvements before a vote of the people. As far as I remember, all nine councilors voted in favor of putting the proposition before the people. The vote didn't and couldn't raise the sales tax -- only the citizens could do that -- and it was a renewal of a tax, not a tax increase. Did Tom Adelson oppose the 1991 third penny renewal?

Surely Adelson knows better. His leading supporters, among whom is at least one member of Savage's staff during her time as mayor, know better. It's a shame to see someone who could have run and honest and honorable campaign put out a blatantly dishonest piece. This ought to make even partisan Democrats think twice about voting for Tom Adelson.

I'm sure the Democrats' cognitive dissonance approach to campaigning will work with some voters, but I'm hopeful that most Oklahomans can recognize it when a campaign is distorting reality to this extent.

(You can read an Urban Tulsa interview with Bartlett and Adelson on Dewey Bartlett's campaign website.)

One more thing: Have a look at the questionnaires and voter guides linked above. It's striking in how many cases the Democrat candidate refused even to return a questionnaire, much less respond. For example, in House District 78, Democrat Jeannie McDaniel failed to respond to the questionnaires of the Oklahoma Family Policy Council, Oklahomans for Life, and the Oklahoma Prosperity Project. (Republican David Schaffer replied to all of them.) That can only mean that the candidate is out of accord with the aims of the organization issuing the questionnaire but is unwilling to say so on the record.

Soft bigotry


A search for "slimy" and "Rhodes Scholar" turned up this item. Baldilocks tells the story of an educated and successful young black man who wanted to give back to his community and applied to teach in the metro Atlanta area. He was turned down -- here's part of the rejection letter:

"Though your qualifications are quite impressive, I regret to inform you that we have selected another candidate. It was felt that your demeanor and therefore presence in the classroom would serve as an unrealistic expectation as to what high school students could strive to achieve or become. However, it is highly recommended that you seek employment at the collegiate level; there your intellectual comportment would be greatly appreciated. Good luck."

Appalling -- read the whole thing.

(Oh, there was just an incidental Rhodes Scholar reference in the comments.)

Malkin says Brad's slimy


Michelle Malkin has her eye on the Oklahoma Senate race between Tom Coburn, "one of [her] all -time favorite conservatives," and Brad Carson, of whom she says:

Carson is a slimy campaigner. And a punk.

Read it all here. She provides links refuting Carson's attempts to muddy the water over Tom Coburn's pro-life credentials.

I'm intrigued by her reference to "another slimy Rhodes Scholar politician." I guess she's thinking of Bill Clinton, but I wonder if she has others in mind as well. I have heard that the skills required to win a Rhodes Scholarship are useful for engaging in slimy politics.

Out on the trail


You might imagine that a busy blogger like me would decide that I'm too busy to get involved in hands-on campaigning. It would be easy enough to rationalize not getting involved, but all the blogging in the world is useless if people don't turn out to vote for the candidates I support.

So Saturday evening I spent about three hours making calls at Tulsa County Republican HQ, 15th & Denver. It was easy work. We had a simple, short script, nothing that would tie up a voter on the phone for too long. A few people hung up, but most people responded positively. Our reward -- a cool T-shirt and dinner brought in. We lucked out: The organizers were sick of pizza so they brought in food from Atomic Burrito. There's a big need for callers today and tomorrow -- stop by 15th & Denver, 52nd & Harvard (in front of Mardel's), Coburn HQ at 61st & Memorial, and at 2191 E. Kenosha in Broken Arrow (near County Line Road/193rd East Ave). Call 627-5702 (Republican county HQ) or 313-4516 (Oklahoma Victory 2004) if you

Sunday afternoon I got out in the rain on the streets of Owasso with some ORU students, dropping off campaign literature. The list of homes to target was tough to use (it treated different spellings of the same street as two different streets), and it didn't help that we were in the Cone of Confusion -- those places in the Tulsa street system where the numbers of the east-west streets are very close to the numbers of the north-south avenues. It can make your head spin to be at the corner of North 108th East Place and East 108th Place North. Still the five of us managed to distribute 600 literature bags, containing flyers for many of the Republican candidates in the course of about three hours. The rain stopped after the first hour, which was nice.

Scott Sala of New York-based Slant Point headed across the Hudson yesterday to campaign for Bush-Cheney in New Jersey. He's got a nice write-up and photos of the experience here. He's very optimistic about Bush's chances in the Garden State.

Even if you only have an hour to spare, that's enough to make a difference. Show up and ask what you can do to help get your candidates elected.

Tom Coburn's campaign for Senate will roll into Woodward Park in Tulsa, 21st & Peoria, for a rally at 12:30 pm today. Senator Don Nickles, Senator Jim Inhofe, Congressman John Sullivan, and Lt. Gov. Mary Fallin will all be speaking. If you haven't made it to a rally this campaign season, this is your last chance!

More to come


Ran out of time -- off to KFAQ for the weekly BatesLine update. Check back about noon for more about the Oklahoma ballot.

Judicial retention


Two Supreme Court justices, a member of the Court of Criminal Appeals, and five members of the Court of Civil Appeals are up for retention -- yes or no for another term.

It is difficult to get information on Oklahoma judges. The Oklahoma Family Policy Council put together a questionnaire focusing on judicial philosophy. They had their attorneys look at the questionnaire to ensure that judges would not violate Oklahoma's Code of Judicial Conduct by answering the questions. In the end, six of the eight judges sent a letter saying they couldn't respond to the questionnaire, the other two didn't respond at all.

Someone knowledgable and trustworthy tells me that Supreme Court Justice James R. Winchester (a Keating appointee and registered Republican) deserves retention, while Charles Chapel on the Court of Criminal Appeals (a Democrat and a Walters appointee) does not.

The only indicator I have as to the philosophy of these judges (short of analyzing individual decisions) is their voter registration and which governor appointed them. In addition to Justice Winchester, E. Bay Mitchell (his slogan should be -- "E. Bay is not for sale to the highest bidder) on the Court of Civil Appeals is the only other Republican and Keating appointee up for retention. I'll vote for Winchester and Mitchell and against the rest of them. If anyone wants to persuade me otherwise, e-mail me at blog -at-

SQ 713: A bad deal for cities


This one sounds like a good deal -- tax the smokers to pay for indigent health care. But there's more to it than that.

Passing 713 would end the sales tax on tobacco products. This means that cities and counties would no longer get any revenue when a tobacco product is purchased. This would be devastating at a time when city budgets are especially tight. It's estimated that Tulsa would lose $13 million a year in sales tax revenues, Oklahoma City would lose $26 million a year. (Numbers cited in this online debate at While the state would reimburse cities and counties for lost revenue for the first two years, after those two years, cities and counties are on their own to scrounge up the difference in funds. Where is Tulsa going to find an extra $13 million to pay for basic city services?

I'm voting NO on SQ 713.

Some people say that State Question 711 is a ban on same-sex "marriage". It's not. Some say it's an attack on personal freedoms and personal choices. Wrong again.

SQ 711 would prevent the government from forcing citizens to recognize homosexual relationships as if they were real marriages. That's why I'm supporting it.

Under SQ 711, if a minister wants to perform a religious ceremony involving two men; two women; two men, a woman, and a pinata; a man, a goat, a toothbrush and no suitcase; or any other combination and to call the result a marriage, they will still have the freedom to do that. 711 simply ensures that the rest of us -- employers, landlords, small businesses, churches -- won't be forced to treat these various combinations as if they were real marriages.

Some people say a constitutional amendment is unnecessary, but the Oklahoma Constitution has an "equal protection" clause similar to the one in Massachusetts which was used by the State Supreme Court there to force the legislature to pass a bill providing legal recognition for same-sex "marriage". It's only a matter of time until some overweening judge tries the same thing in Oklahoma.

Live and let live, but don't coerce me into giving you my approval and support.

You can read more at the site of Oklahomans for the Protection of Marriage. And takes a broader national and cultural perspective on the debate about what marriage means and how it should be protected.

SQ 708: Rainy day restraint


SQ 708 would reduce the amount of the rainy day fund that the Legislature can spend during revenue shortfalls and emergencies. This is a good thing. The Legislature has declared emergencies at the drop of a hat and spent reserve funds when it was merely "partly sunny" leaving nothing in the bank for the really rainy days of the recent recession. This amendment would impose some needed restraint. I'm voting YES.

State questions 705, 706, 712


A lot of people have been asking me about the state questions. Here are three more -- the gambling questions. I'm voting NO on all three. Gambling won't grow the economy, and won't provide any significant money for education. In fact, gambling will take money out of the local economy and it preys on the mathematically challenged.

SQ 705: OCPA has an extensive analysis here comparing the promises made for Oklahoma's lottery to the experience of other states. Lotteries don't bring in the money promised, and all too often the money is diverted for purposes other than that which was promised. Lottery fatigue sets in after a couple of years, and states have to resort to ever more advertising and new games to keep the money flowing. A lottery diverts discretionary spending from restaurants and movies and other small businesses. Most important, SQ 705 does not create an untouchable lockbox for educational funds. It is a statute, not a constitutional amendment. Passing SQ 705 is the same as if the legislature passed a law -- the legislature can amend it without a vote of the people. In particular, the legislature could change the percentage of lottery proceeds going to education.

SQ 706: This is a constitutional amendment that creates a public trust to hold funds from the lottery, but it does not specify how much (if any) of the lottery money will actually end up in the fund. That's in the statute passed by SQ 705, which is subject to change by the legislature without a vote of the people. This trust is only a lockbox for whatever funds the legislature decides to put into it.

SQ 712: This is also a statutory measure, not a constitutional amendment. If we're going to have casinos in Oklahoma, anyone ought to be able to open one. This bill only allows Indian governments and horse tracks to offer gambling, and then only certain machines are permitted. The evils of gambling aside for a moment, this has all the marks of a stitch up -- a special deal for well-connected people. If you aren't in on this deal, evidently you didn't give enough to Brad Henry's campaign for governor.

The National Gambling Impact Study Commission, which was created by Congress in 1996 and completed its work in 1999, has a website here. its final report online here, and a summary of the report's recommendations here. It appears that, if Oklahoma approves these three measures, we will be going directly against the advice of this commission.

You can find more information on the website for the opposition, Oklahomans for Good Goverment.

Tulsa County races


There are only two Tulsa County races on the ballot tomorrow -- the other officials whose terms are expiring (District Attorney, Sheriff, Court Clerk) were re-elected without opposition.

Republican Earlene Wilson is running for re-election as County Clerk, winning her first term in 2000 upon the retirement of Joan Hastings. Wilson has a solid record of accomplishment, continuing the long-range project of computerizing all county land records. I support Earlene Wilson's re-election. My only knock against her is that she is opposed to making land records available over the Internet, citing cost and security concerns. Many jurisdictions provide wonderful online land record browsing capabilities -- I've written about systems provided by Savannah, Georgia (developed with OU's help) and Wichita, Kansas. So for now, records will only be available at libraries, or if you're willing to pay a hefty subscription fee.

Wilson's Democrat opponent is David Donnell, who seems like a nice guy, but admits to running just as a way to get started in politics. At a candidate forum, he was more interested in talking about global and national issues than what he would do differently as County Clerk.

Residents of County Commission District 2 -- mostly Tulsa County west of the river, plus midtown Tulsa (map here) -- will vote to give a full term on the commission to one of the candidates. Incumbent Republican Randi Miller, currently the commission chairman, was elected in a special election in 2002 (after the resignation of predecessor John Selph). Patty J. Dixon finished just ahead of Miller in the 2002 Republican primary and just behind Miller in the runoff -- she's running again this year, but as an Independent. Max Givens is the Democrat nominee.

I've had my disagreements with Miller, particularly over Vision 2025 and the reappointment of Baker Horner to the TMAPC, but she's taken some important steps to improve openness and accountability at the County Courthouse. For example, the Tulsa County Public Facilities Authority (aka the Fair Board) now does all its purchasing through the county's central purchasing office. Miller has played a key role in straightening out the County's budget mess and in trying to find cost savings in the operation of the County Jail. While I like Patty Dixon and appreciate her passion for county government, I do not want to see her split off enough of the Republican vote to bring about a Max Givens victory. Max Givens does not seem knowledgable about county government and would not push for needed reforms. At a candidate forum, he seemed to blame Miller for the fact that the County's budget problems didn't come to light until she became a commissioner. Miller deserves credit for putting the focus on the County's budget process and addressing the problems, rather than pretending that they aren't there. I'm voting for Randi Miller for County Commission District 2.

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

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