Airport investigation -- phase 1 report is online

| | TrackBacks (2)

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.

2 TrackBacks

Listed below are links to blogs that reference this entry: Airport investigation -- phase 1 report is online.

TrackBack URL for this entry: http://www.batesline.com/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.cgi/952

» CITY COUNCIL UPDATE from HFFZ.org News

CITY COUNCIL CATCHES WORLD PUBLISHING COMPANY WITH HAND IN OUR CITY’S COOKIE JAR: Last night the World Publishing Company, the publisher of the Tulsa World, got caught with both its hands in the cookie jar as Phase 1 of the... Read More

» CITY COUNCIL UPDATE from HFFZ.org News

CITY COUNCIL CATCHES WORLD PUBLISHING COMPANY WITH HAND IN OUR CITY'S COOKIE JAR: Last night the World Publishing Company, the publisher of the Tulsa World, got caught with both its hands in the cookie jar as Phase 1 of the... Read More

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on November 19, 2004 1:46 AM.

Reading between the water lines was the previous entry in this blog.

Arlen escapes is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Contact

Feeds

Subscribe to feed Subscribe to this blog's feed:
Atom
RSS
[What is this?]