April 2005 Archives

Rick Westcott, chairman of Tulsans for Election Integrity, the group opposing the recall of Tulsa City Councilors Jim Mautino and Chris Medlock, has posted a response to Judge Ronald Shaffer's Thursday ruling against TfEI. Here's one of the key paragraphs from the ruling:

The Charter of the City of Tulsa requires that the City Clerk verify that the signatures on the supporting petitions correspond with the signatures appearing on the voter registration books. It would be ludicrous to require, over and above the City Charter, the City Clerk compare the signatures. That would require the Clerk to become an expert on handwriting exemplars, which is not required.

Westcott explains the basis for TfEI's appeal of the decision:

Here's the thing: The Judge's opinion states that the City Charter requires the Clerk to "verify" that the signatures on the supporting petitions "correspond" with the signatures appearing on the voter registration books. But then, the opinion states that the Clerk should not be required to actually compare the signatures because that would be too difficult.

How would the Clerk "verify" that the signatures on the supporting petitions "correspond" with the signatures on the voter registration books unless he actually compares the signatures? Should the Clerk be excused from complying with the requirements of the Charter because it might be difficult? Should we all be excused from complying with laws because it might be difficult? The Clerk made no attempt to compare the signatures. If he had, it is possible that there could have been enough glaring, obvious forgeries that the petitions would have easily been invalidated.

Can some attorney tell me: Is "ludicrous" a term of art? Would someone look that up in Black's Law Dictionary and post the definition?

Also, is there a technical meaning of the term "correspond" that allows someone to verify whether A corresponds to B without actually setting eyes on B? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

"Move that bridge" web page


Tulsa neighborhoods along the far south Yale Avenue corridor have set up a web page about the proposed private toll bridge across the Arkansas River at Yale. There are maps showing the planned location and alternative proposals, a page of comments, and e-mail addresses of public officials serving the area.

From my contact with the neighbors involved is that they aren't NIMBYs or anti-progress, but they do want public officials to understand the costs that will be imposed on local governments to handle the impact of this private investment.

Maybe you knew this, but it was news to me: The 8-track tape was developed by the Lear Jet Company. The website 8-Track Heaven has an interview with Frank Schmidt, a member of the design team at Lear that developed the 8-track. Schmidt talks about the technical challenges -- the head mechanism, the rollers, the motor, the cartridges -- and what it was like to work for Bill Lear:

He was a weird character. One of the first things we had to do when we set up our plant in Detroit was remove all the clocks out of the building. The Lear factory, office, plant, whatever, never had a clock in it. It was like a gambling casino… he didn’t want you to know what time it was....

We had a weird place in Wichita, too. It was the only aircraft plant I ever worked in that had a barbershop. Bill felt that your hair grew on company time, so it should be cut on company time! (laughs) You could call down there, get an appointment, and get a hell of a nice haircut. The other thing we had was a kitchen. It was a walled-in area right in the middle of the building. You could go in there 24 hours a day and you’d find a nice big kitchen with 4-5 tables, and everything you’d find in a kitchen: stove, sink, refrigerator, freezer, oven, the whole works. Completely stocked. Dishes, food, anything you’d want. It was all free.

At about 3 p.m. today, District Judge Ronald L. Shaffer ruled against Tulsans for Election Integrity and Tulsa City Councilors Jim Mautino and Chris Medlock and for the Coalition for Responsible Government 2004 and ordered the Tulsa City Council to call recall elections for the two targeted councilors. I have not seen the ruling, but I have been told that Shaffer ruled that the City Clerk fulfilled the Charter's requirement to validate the petitions (even though he admitted that he did not compare the signatures to those in the election board records as the charter requires) and that the Council's vote to affirm the City Clerk's findings was not a resolution and therefore did not require a majority of the Council to approve it. Under Shaffer's ruling, the Council has no discretion and is obliged to call the election.

And so they did. Acting City Attorney Alan Jackere rushed to have the election resolutions added to the "New Business" portion of the agenda for tonight's council meeting. Is this a violation of the Open Meeting Act? Jackere will say that it isn't, but here we have a contentious issue on the agenda, and proper notice wasn't given either to the general public or to the interested parties who spoke to the issue at previous meetings. Jackere instructed the Council that they could be arrested for contempt of court if they disobeyed the judge's order, so the vote was 6-0, with Medlock and Mautino recusing themselves, to call the election for July 12.

Was the timing of the ruling deliberate? The quick turnaround between the judge's order at 3 and the start of the council meeting at 6 gave TfEI's attorneys no time to file an appeal or to seek a stay of Shaffer's order until the appeal could be heard.

I never expected a ruling against the pro-recall forces in Tulsa District Court. In hindsight, TfEI should have sought a change of venue to some western Oklahoma district, beyond the Tulsa Whirled's circulation area. I suppose some would say it's rude to suggest that a judge might not be impartial, but judges are human, and judges go to parties, serve on charitable boards, and rub elbows with the high and the mighty, and they're as likely as not to see the world through the same filters as everyone else in their social circles. I lost my confidence that local judges would ever rule against the local power structure when Judge Jane Wiseman ruled that the Vision 2025 ballot was not logrolling, and in her ruling contradicted the rationale she used about 10 years earlier to invalidate the county jail sales tax ballot.

Appeal would still be a possibility, but in the meantime, it's time to get serious about fighting and winning the recall election.

FLIR of flying

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NOTE: After I posted this entry, I received a couple of e-mails from readers with more details on the switch to blue uniforms, details that make the changeover seem quite reasonable, and I present those below.

Last night after the TulsaNow forum, a number of us gathered at James E. McNellie's Pub on 1st Street for $3 burgers, something wherewith to wet our whistles, and some local political chat.

I was told that the Mayor and the police chief plan to spend a half-million dollars buying new blue uniforms for our police officers. Why? The decision-makers think they look sharper than the green and khaki that the officers currently wear. These uniforms are not only dark blue, but I'm told that they will be 100% wool. Imagine, my informant said, it's a hot Oklahoma summer day, and you're wearing a bulletproof vest and some other layers under a wool shirt made of a heat-absorbing color.

I was also told that Tulsa's two police helicopters are equipped with obsolete Forward-Looking Infrared (FLIR) systems. The systems have been in service for 13 years, six years beyond their expected useful life. The company that made the FLIR systems is out of business, and a former employee, out in California, bought up all the spare parts and repairs the systems to keep them running. If the guy gets hit by a bus, we're stuck if our current systems stop working. Repairing the FLIR system in a helicopter means incurring the time and expense to send it out to California.

A FLIR system, which makes heat visible, is very useful for tracking someone in the dark. Last summer, two Tulsa police officers won an international first-place prize for using FLIR in an arrest:

At the event FLIR Systems was proud to announce the winners of the 2004 Vision Award competition. First place was awarded to the Tulsa Police Department’s Tim Smith (pilot) and Tim Ward (Tactical Flight Officer). The winning video featured the apprehension of four suspects who fled first in a vehicle and later on foot. The suspects were wanted in connection with a gang-related double homicide. After the suspects were apprehended, the tape was later used by the department to recover the weapon ditched during the chase, which was determined to be the weapon used in the homicides.

It would make sense to replace the old systems with something new, if we could afford it. We wouldn't have to worry about availability of parts or support. A new system would draw less power and provide sharper images. A new system would allow eyes on the ground to see the FLIR image, which is currently only available to the pilot.

How much would it cost to buy a new FLIR system for both of the TPD's choppers? Half a million dollars, or what we're paying to outfit our officers in itchy dark blue wool.

UPDATE: A reader writes:

After reading your piece on the uniform change for the cops, I passed the information on to a reporter, thinking it might make for a good news story. The response I got tends to indicate you should consider checking your source. You implied in your article that the mayor and chief chose the color. In fact, the change has been approved by a majority vote of the force. That fact was, of course, noted in the link you provided---for those that chose to go there. The reporter I contacted has probed the matter. She said the uniforms cops now wear are made of virtually the same material the new ones will entail, rendering the 100 percent wool issue somewhat neutral. She also said cops pay for their own uniforms. Yes, they pay for them with an allowance from the city, but that allowance will not be increased with the change. So it is perhaps erroneous to claim the city is going to dish out $500,000 to make the switch. And, the new uniforms will be cheaper, according to my source. There are, apparently, more makers of blue uniforms than green. Price competition allows for $40 pants instead of $70 pants, for example. It seems to me the only financial change here is one of a little more pocket money for cops, in that they will be spending less of their allowances on uniforms. There is no dispute on the issue of FLIR. But the two issues are unrelated.

MORE: Another reader, a Tulsa Police reserve officer, writes:

When TPD was advised by the sole remaining supplier of the green shirted uniform, that due to low demand for this uniform that it would probably not be available in five years or less, the Department formed a Uniform Advisory Committee. This Committee was to research and advise for possible replacement of this soon to be unavailable uniform. The committee advised to go to LAPD blue.

Green Uniform Facts:

  1. The uniform is already a blend of wool and polyester.
  2. The uniform is only available in a single fabric weight for summer or winter.
  3. The uniform is not available in female sizes, forcing female Officers to get something close and then visit a tailor for costly fitting.
  4. The uniform is significantly higher in cost than the blue.

LAPD Blue Uniform Facts

  1. The uniform is available in three different weights including a tropical weight.
  2. The uniform is available in a full range of female sizes.
  3. The uniform is available from a number of uniform manufacturers.
  4. Due to the popularity of this uniform it is significantly lower in cost.

Who made the decision to change the uniform?

The decision to change or keep the current uniform was put to a vote by the Officers. They were given the choice of :

Keep the green
Go to something else.

Blue won narrowly over green with something else a very distant third.

Cost to the City:

Each Officer receives $625.00 a year uniform allowance. There are 780 Officers. If the City provides a basic issue of the new uniform, this allowance will not be issued for the current year meaning there will be no additional cost to the City for this uniform change. There is no $500,000 additional cost to the City.

Ev'ry tadpole is sacred


This time of year our backyard goldfish pond is teeming with tadpoles. It's also overgrown with stringy algae, so much so that the pond filter has to be rinsed out on a daily basis. I have a pool net I can use to scoop out the goop, but if my eight-year-old son is watching, he insists that I make sure that any tadpoles that are scooped up are released back into the pond.

This rather slows down the process of dealgifying the pond, and I find, as I carefully rescue the tads from the net and watch them swim away, each one like a plump watermelon seed with a whip-like tail, that I keep humming that song from "Monty Python's The Meaning of Life."

David Hall (a doctor and a friend from church, not the disgraced former Oklahoma governor) called my attention to an article about urban design in the latest issue of byFaith, an excellent new magazine published by the Presbyterian Church in America. One of the things I appreciate about the PCA, and the broader realm of Reformed ("Calvinist") evangelical Christianity, is the commitment to applying the Lordship of Christ to every aspect of life, not just the spiritual realm. That's how you end up with blogging PCA missionaries out on the streets of Kiev, helping the Orange Revolution get its message to the English-speaking world.

And it's how you end up with an article by an Atlanta-based architect and urban planner about how we glorify God with the places we build. Christopher Leerssen says that because God made the physical world and made us to dwell in it, the built environment matters to God. He says that how we build cities affects sustainability and our stewardship of the natural environment. Pedestrian-hostile urban design destroys the connections that make a place a community and burdens people for whom driving isn't an option -- the poor, the young, the old, the disabled. Cookie-cutter building practices obliterate the natural uniqueness of a place. Restrictive laws discourage the construction of affordable housing.

David, the friend who tipped me to the article, is part of a group working to start a new PCA congregation in south Tulsa. He observed that neighborhood and home design in that part of town makes it tougher to reach out to people. It's so easy just to zip home, pull into the garage, and isolate yourself.

Why is that? Homes are oriented away from the street. Porches, if they exist, are symbolic and non-functional. If a neighbor were to pass by on the sidewalk, you'd never see him, because you're in the living room in the back of the house. You might go for a walk, but the sidewalk doesn't lead to any place you really need or want to go.

Where are the gathering places? Where do you find people who are open to having a conversation with someone they just met? Leerssen writes:

Perhaps most importantly, modern communities lack venues for outreach and discourse. Recently our church struggled with a decision of where to have an evening outreach to neighbors in the affluent part of our city. Our aim wasn’t to go bar-to-bar or stand on the street corners screaming about Jesus, but rather to simply engage skeptics and unbelievers; to discuss everyday issues in order to bring the Gospel into focus. Where would we find them, and that atmosphere?

There aren’t many places where this naturally occurs, but a city does provide options. A coffee shop is private. The local bookstore may be the right spot. But the fact is, there are not many venues that comfortably accommodate discourse. In the end, we rented a nearby bread shop one evening a week and invited people to join us. To the Lord’s glory there was fruit born out of these efforts. The city does provide options.

Go read the whole thing. And be sure to sample some of the other articles in the current issue:

TulsaNow forum tonight


Sorry for the bloglessness, but I've been working on my presentation for tonight's TulsaNow forum, "Passing the Popsicle Test: A Better Tulsa by Design." It's at 6:30, at the OSU-Tulsa Auditorium, and it's free and open to the public. Hope to see you there.

Here's a link to a map of the OSU-Tulsa campus. The auditorium is on the northwest edge of the campus. If you're coming by car -- and, sadly, that's pretty much the only way to get there -- the easiest way is to take the Cincinnati-Detroit exit on I-244, go north on Detroit, then east on John Hope Franklin Blvd (aka Haskell Street), and park in the west lot.

If you've got concerns or an interest in the proposed private bridge across the Arkansas River near 121st Street and Yale Avenue, there's a meeting tonight at 7, at St. James Church, 111th and Yale. Some area residents are concerned about the additional traffic the bridge will bring to the two-lane, asphalt country roads that serve the growing area. There's an alternative proposal that would connect the bridge with the south end of Riverside Drive (aka Delaware Ave) at 121st, fixing a dangerous curve at the same time. Although this will be a privately-funded bridge, city and county resources will be required to make it happen, including the power of eminent domain, which gives public officials both the leverage and the responsibility to ensure that the bridge is designed in a way that serves the public interest.

Blogs comment on Miami 21


Here are a couple of interesting comments on the web regarding Miami 21, Miami Dade County's proposed replacement for its ancient and complicated zoning code. (You'll find my comments in the previous entry.)

From Out of Control, the blog of the libertarian Reason Public Policy Institute -- New Urbanism can be market-oriented and freedom-friendly:

For those of us that advocate market-oriented planning approaches, it is important to make a distinction between "new urbanism" and the control-minded "smart growth" movement that it typically gets confused with. Free marketers generally have no objection to new urbanist design principles per say; the objection comes when NU design is promulgated through highly prescriptive and coercive policy mechanisms. For more on this, check out this Practice of New Urbanism listserve discussion on the relationship between Libertarian and New Urbanist ideals; participants include Reason's own Sam Staley and NU guru Andres Duany, who will be leading Miami's zoning code rewrite.

Also check out this piece by Reason's Chris Fiscelli, which lays the groundwork for a market-oriented new urbanism.

Over at Planning Livable Communities, Sharon Machlis Gartenberg says the new code won't change Miami overnight, but will have an impact over time:

Even if this goes through, it will likely take years - perhaps decades - for a new zoning code to have major impact on a city the size of Miami. But in 2020, 15 years of development will have taken place with or without the zoning change. Miami 2020 will have a seriously different look and feel depending on the outcome of this zoning plan. Big kudos to them for making the effort.

The mistake so many local officials make is to look at hideous development patterns, whether in Miami or Rte. 9 in Framingham, and throw up their hands in despair. Had our local officials done something like this 20 years ago, we’d all be enjoying a nicer quality of life now in 2005.

A reader sends along a Miami Herald article (free registration required) about Miami's plans to dump its antiquated zoning code for a form-based code. It would be the largest city to adopt this approach to land use regulation, an approach that promises to make the process work better both for developers and for property owners. (Tulsans can learn more about form-based codes this Wednesday at TulsaNow's forum on the topic: "Passing the Popsicle Test: Building a Better Tulsa by Design." It's free and open to the public; 6:30 pm at the OSU-Tulsa Auditorium.)

A new high-rise condo building is cited as an example of the problems with the current code. Edgewater, an older neighborhood of single family homes, began to decline in the '70s and was dramatically "upzoned" to allow high-rises. Now you have a street of bungalows interrupted with a nine-story building with nothing but a garage entrance facing the street. Miami is trying to find a way to accommodate redevelopment and increasing density, while respecting the integrity of existing neighborhoods and encouraging a walkable environment. (A densely developed area combined with a streetscape that discourages walking is a recipe for traffic nightmares.)

The article cites several of the problems with the existing zoning code:

The explanation begins with the fact that parts of the current code date to the early 1900s, city officials say.

Since then, new regulations have been layered atop the old, so that the code has become dauntingly complex, filling several volumes and requiring developers and homeowners to hire lawyers for any significant work. Coconut Grove, for instance, has 22 different zoning designations, according to the planning department.

Sometimes, zoning has been rewritten for individual projects. Variances introduce even more unpredictability. Canny land-use lawyers make a living exploiting loopholes, and developers' political pull has often determined the outcome. The result is inconsistent decisions that lead to urban incoherence and embittered residents.

"We have a city that's the result of people being able to build whatever they want," said Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, the prominent planner and University of Miami architecture dean hired by the city to oversee Miami 21. "It was never planned, just platted and developed."

The current code regulates building uses and density, Plater-Zyberk said, but says little to nothing about urbanism -- the art of ensuring that individual buildings blend into a cohesive landscape that respects the human scale. There is nothing in it about how buildings should meet the sidewalk, where parking garages should go, where entrances should be, or requirements for streetfront shops and cafes to spur pedestrian activity.

Let me try to translate: Miami's current zoning code is concerned with controlling factors that don't really affect the city's livability, while ignoring the factors that really do make a difference. After eighty years of experimenting with zoning, it's apparent that zoning doesn't produce the kinds of neighborhoods and cities that are interesting and pleasant places to live. Decades of ham-handed regulation and government-driven redevelopment have created dead downtowns and suburbs with beautiful sidewalks that lead nowhere interesting. The traditional urban neighborhood has been outlawed. The automobile has gone from being a convenience to an absolute necessity for survival, and we've stranded the young, the old, and the handicapped.

New Urbanists, like Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, who was quoted above, look back and seek to learn from the way cities were built before zoning codes were widely in use. Plater-Zyberk is one of a growing number of New Urbanist design professionals developing new approaches to land use regulation that provide more freedom for developers, provide more predictability for everyone involved in the process, and promise better results.

Miami 21, Miami's proposed new approach to land use regulation, has a home page, with links to a FAQ and a slideshow (a very large PDF file) illustrating the complexity and ineffectiveness of the current code and the promise of the proposed approach. One slide promises that the new approach will "make development decisions predictable, fair and cost effective thus thwarting speculative development and reducing fear and opposition of development." And later, "The developer and the public have a clear set of regulations to know what to expect from the very beginning, in any given area, both in the public and private realm."

A clearer, fairer, more predictable process, resulting in better communities -- that should be what we're all after. Let's watch and see if Miami 21 can deliver on its promises.

Got an e-mail this morning from a reader asking how to go about starting a recall against a Tulsa City Councilor. The reader said he'd talked to two people at the City Council office and couldn't get a straight answer. Here's my attempt at a straight answer.

The first step is to familiarize yourself with Chapter VII of the City Charter, which governs removal and recall of elective officers.

Next, go down to City Hall, to the City Clerk's office, and request copies of the preliminary petitions submitted against Councilors Mautino and Medlock. Use them as a model for drawing up your own preliminary petition. Since they were accepted as valid, there's a precedent you can depend on when submitting your own preliminary petition.

As you list the reasons for recall, make the strongest case you can. For example, if you were seeking to recall Randy Sullivan for not living in the district he purports to represent, you could cite Title 51, Section 8 of the Oklahoma Statutes, which requires an elected official to live in the district he was elected to represent.

If you're going to recall Bill Christiansen or Randy Sullivan, there's going to be some question about how many signatures are required to start the process. The charter sets the required number of signatures as a percentage "of all those voting in that election district for the affected office in the preceding general election." Since neither had a general election opponent in 2004, is that number 0, or do we go back to the 2002 general election, when each had a contested general election? It would be interesting to submit a preliminary petition with a single signature, just to see what the city does with it. Just expect the City Attorney's office to interpret the law to the advantage of the Cockroach Caucus.

That should be enough to get you started.

Tulsa City Councilor Chris Medlock will be slammed in this morning's Tulsa Whirled over the status of his MBA degree from the University of Tulsa. Medlock was contacted Friday by Whirled reporter P. J. Lassek and told that they were investigating rumors that he did not actually have an MBA degree. This allegation stunned Medlock, who tells his side of the story on his blog:

The only thing more shocking to hear would've been to have been told something to the effect of, "Your campaign literature claims that you have been married to your wife Cheryl for 25 years, but we can find no record of your marriage." Just as I had, in 1979, stood before a Baptist preacher who was more nervous than I, and repeated wedding vows, I knew that I had gone to TU for a year and a half, and studied in the Graduate Business School.

He believed that he had completed all course work for the degree. Because he finished in August of 1992, there was no graduation ceremony for him to walk in, and by the time the next commencement rolled around, he was well-established in his job at T. D. Williamson and didn't seek to participate.

After hearing from Lassek, Medlock visited the TU registrar's office and discovered that he had an incomplete in one course in the Spring 1992 semester for failing to complete one paper. His recollection is that he could have taken a "C" in the course without the paper, but he asked for an incomplete to try to finish and keep his GPA at the needed level to graduate with honors. Over the summer, however, he worked a full-time job, took his final two courses, and worked 10-15 hours a week in the TU computer lab for the scholarship stipend he received, and the paper wasn't completed.

What I find amazing, thinking back to my college years, is that his faculty adviser didn't alert him to the problem. If I recall correctly, MIT checked the records of graduating students some months before commencement and alerted them to anything that might pose a problem.

I expect the Tulsa World and the rest of the Cockroach Caucus to make a mountain out of this molehill. Medlock attended all the required courses, did all the work, save for one paper, and for the last 13 years has believed that he finished his MBA. When the Whirled challenged him about it, he took the initiative to find out what happened and has shared that information openly and publicly.

In the meantime, it appears that the Cockroach Caucus was tipped off about the problem before Medlock was approached. At Thursday night's Council meeting, Councilor Bill Christiansen made reference to Medlock's MBA in a way that seemed like a rhetorical question, but then he waited until Medlock confirmed that he had the degree before going on with his remarks.

MORE: David Arnett comments at Tulsa Today that this is another example of the Whirled's "assassination by adjective."

That's in New York City, where it's even more remarkable. Thomas Ognibene is challenging incumbent Mayor Michael Bloomberg in the Republican primary for this November's New York municipal elections. Scott Sala of Slant Point has been providing thorough coverage of the local New York political scene, and he's posted an interview with Ognibene, the first of several he plans to do with NYC candidates. Ognibene is pro-life and opposes the redefinition of marriage, positions that may win crossover votes from evangelical Democrats who can't find candidates in their own party who share their values. In the interview, Ognibene refutes the idea that only a liberal Republican can be elected Mayor, pointing out that Rudy Giuliani, while a social liberal, ran and governed as a conservative, cracking down on crime, reducing City Hall bureaucracy, trimming the welfare rolls, and cutting burdensome taxes and fees. Meanwhile, Mayor Bloomberg, a RINO, has focused on banning smoking everywhere, promoting a new Manhattan stadium for the New York Jets, and wants to spend $3 million from the city budget to promote the "morning after pill."

This should be a fascinating election to watch. Thanks, Scott, for giving us a front row seat.

CNN is reporting that the Department of Justice's Antitrust Division is investigating the Greater Tulsa Association of Realtors (GTAR) for anticompetitive practices designed to eliminate price competition for real estate services:

MONEY has learned that Justice's Antitrust Division is gathering information on the bully tactics that full-commission brokers in Tulsa allegedly use against their discount rivals to discourage commission-cutting. The probe follows other recent efforts to spur competition in the real estate industry.

According to a copy of a Justice Department subpoena obtained by MONEY, federal investigators are seeking information on "possible anticompetitive conduct in the provision of real estate services in the Tulsa area" as well as "documents related to refusal to cooperate on real estate transactions."

MONEY has learned that Justice's Antitrust Division is gathering information on the bully tactics that full-commission brokers in Tulsa allegedly use against their discount rivals to discourage commission-cutting. The probe follows other recent efforts to spur competition in the real estate industry.

According to a copy of a Justice Department subpoena obtained by MONEY, federal investigators are seeking information on "possible anticompetitive conduct in the provision of real estate services in the Tulsa area" as well as "documents related to refusal to cooperate on real estate transactions."

GTAR has endorsed and is supporting the effort to recall Councilors Jim Mautino and Chris Medlock.

No wonder the Cockroach Caucus doesn't like people asking questions. We appear to have another cozy arrangement that benefits a favored few at the expense of the rest of us.

Several pro-life bills passed the Oklahoma House last month but have been bottled up in committee in the Democrat-controlled State Senate. In his weekly Capitol Update, Rep. Kevin Calvey reports that some of these proposals are going to be considered after all, having been attached as amendments to a Senate bill that came through the House corrections committee:

Senate Bill 807, by State Sen. Glenn Coffee, R-Oklahoma City, and State Rep. Fred Morgan, R-Oklahoma City, would target criminals involved in pornography and the abuse of women and children.

The bill was amended in committee to include three pro-life measures. The measures include the Oklahoma Unborn Victim of Violence Act (a “Laci & Conner Peterson” law) (previously introduced by Rep. Pam Peterson (R-Tulsa)) and the Women’s Right to Know and the Family Protection Act (previously introduced by me, Rep. Kevin Calvey).

Among other reforms, the bill would allow individuals who attack pregnant women and cause the loss of the unborn child to face criminal charges for the death of the baby.

The Unborn Victims of Violence Act is modeled after federal legislation passed last year, prompted by the murder of Laci Peterson and her unborn son, Conner, in California.

The amended Senate bill would also institute an “informed consent” law requiring that women be given all pertinent information about the potential consequences of abortion, information on fetal development and the gestational age of the unborn child at least 24 hours before the procedure occurs.

The amended bill passed also requires parental notification before an abortion can be performed on a minor. Morgan said parents have a right to know if a daughter is pregnant and warned that the lack of parental notification can encourage the abuse of children.

He noted there have been cases where grown men have molested underage girls and then taken them for an abortion without the parents’ knowledge to hide the crime.

Another section of the bill would make it a crime for any school employee to have a sexual relationship with a student. Under the bill’s provision, any school employee engaged in a relationship with a child younger than 20 could be charged with rape.

The bill also outlaws “drive-by porn,” ensuring that individuals with pornographic films displayed on a car’s television monitor while driving could face fines of up to $500 per violation.

Senate Bill 807 passed the House Corrections Committee on a unanimous vote and is now headed to the floor of the Oklahoma House of Representatives.

If the House passes the amended bill, I believe it will go to a conference committee next, and not to the Senate Human Services Committee, the lair of Sen. Bernest Cain.

You'll find an archive of Calvey's Capitol Update on his website. (This week's has been sent out by e-mail, but hasn't been uploaded to the website yet.)

The food pyramid is going away, and Sean Gleeson has uncovered the U. S. Department of Agriculture's new visual guide to what's good for us: "USDA to unveil Nutrition Frowny Face." Visit the Gleeson Bloglomerate to see the poster for the selected concept, as well as posters for a couple of the rejected prototypes -- the "Nutrition Ceiling Fan" and the "Nutrition Martini."

(Hat tip: Dan and Angi.)

An item 8.F. has been added to the agenda for tonight's Tulsa City Council meeting. It reads:

Consensus of lack of confidence in Alan Jackere as City Attorney in either a temporary or permanent position, and requesting the Mayor to appoint one of the internal candidates as next City Attorney.

I am told that the Mayor is trying to get the item pulled off of the agenda.

For whatever reason the agenda item and its supporting resolution (which details the case against Jackere) do not yet appear on the Council website.

UPDATE: The item was left on the agenda, and the motion failed on a four-four tie, breaking as you would expect.

Charles Norman profiled


Attorney Charles Norman has dominated the field of zoning and land use in Tulsa for over thirty years, and Urban Tulsa has published a profile of Norman in this week's issue. Norman has had a long and influential career, and you need to read this article to understand this force that has shaped Tulsa's politics and physical development.

I'm quoted in the piece. I'm described as one of "Norman's detractors," which isn't really the case. I have a lot of respect for the man, but I do believe that his opinions are given more creedence by the planning commissioners and certain councilors than they deserve. Just because he wrote the zoning code 35 years ago doesn't mean that he should be the authoritative interpreter of it. There's an inaccuracy a bit later in the article: I am not a co-founder of the Midtown Coalition of Neighborhood Associations. I became involved in the group in March 1998, about four months after its founding by neighborhood leaders like Scott Swearingen, Stacey Bayles, and Maria Barnes.

I've often thought that someone needs to write a biography of Charles Norman or to help him write his own memoirs. There's a lot of Tulsa history there that needs to be captured on paper.

There's one quote from the story that deserves special attention, describing our previous form of city government:

At the time, four commissioners and a virtually powerless mayor, beyond mere persuasion, could not contend with the amount of problems. What the commissioners couldn’t handle was shifted to the city attorney’s office. A Tulsa World reporter once jokingly described the system as a “strong city attorney form of government.”

Seems to me the description still fits.

A while back I wrote about the "Popsicle Test" -- a measure of the walkability of a neighborhood. "An eight-year-old in the neighborhood should be able to bike to a store to buy a Popsicle without having to battle highway-size streets and freeway-speed traffic." I grew up in a neighborhood like that, but that's not the common experience of the kids in today's Tulsa. The reason has a lot to do with our outdated approach to regulating what kinds of activities can take place on a given parcel of land. Our system of zoning is all about separating different uses from each other, based on the assumption that it's a bad thing to have, for example, shops close to homes. Between our zoning laws and the understandable desire of developers and their financiers to minimize risk and go with the flow, we've developed a city where life is impossible without a car, something that becomes a problem when you're too young to drive, when you're too old or too handicapped to drive safely, or when gas gets above $2 a gallon.

There are other ways to regulate land use, and they promise to make life more predictable and less risky for homeowners and developers alike, to remove some of the contention from land use regulation, and to allow more creativity and variety, while protecting against situations that really do threaten property values, safety, and quality of life. One approach is to focus not on what goes on inside the building -- the use -- but the scale of the building and how it relates to its surroundings. It's called form-based planning, and next Wednesday night, TulsaNow is sponsoring a series of brief talks and a panel discussion on the subject.

"Passing the Popsicle Test: A Better Tulsa by Design" will be presented Wednesday, April 27, at 6:30 p.m. in the OSU-Tulsa Auditorium, just north of downtown. Speakers will include Jamie Jamieson, developer of the Village at Central Park; Russell Claus, Oklahoma City's Director of the Office of Economic Development; and me. There will be a panel discussion with questions and answers following the presentations.

Land use continues to be the central issue in Tulsa politics. Form-based planning may be a way to think outside the box and come up with a solution that will meet the needs of developers and property owners while helping us to create a more beautiful and livable city.

F&M plat back on the agenda


Expect to see another short Tulsa City Council meeting due to a lack of a quorum tonight. F&M Bank's final plat for the 71st and Harvard is on the agenda, and since five of the eight councilors are being sued personally for their vote to deny the plat, they will have to recuse themselves, and it will be impossible to continue with the agenda. The sensible thing would be for the Council to drop the item from the agenda, since they will never have a quorum to vote on it as long as the lawsuit is pending.

For F&M, the sensible thing would be to file an application for a major amendment to their planned unit development, as approved by the Council in 2003. That's what they should have done in the first place, rather than trying to pretend that a meaningful omission was a mere scrivener's error. Then F&M could sue whichever of their attorneys was responsible for the omission and recover the extra cost to their project.

The City Council did their job -- they rejected a plat that was inconsistent with the zoning for the subdivision. F&M should drop the suit against the councilors and put the blame where it really belongs.

(Hat tip to Bobby of Tulsa Topics for calling attention to this item.)

Another side of Joe Carter


Joe Carter of the Evangelical Outpost has been recycling bits from a newspaper humor/advice column he used to write, and today he's got some choice excerpts with links to the full column.

For example:

On napping -- For a woman, catching her husband napping is the second worst thing she can catch her man doing in their bed. (The first, of course, is discovering him drinking grape Kool-Aid on the 300 thread count Egyptian cotton sheets. Finding him with another woman, however, runs a close third.) Women believe that the only reason a man would want to take a nap is because he is either trying to ignore her or is avoiding spending time with her. The truth is that men take naps because we are tired. Too tired, in fact, to think of more creative ways to ignore our wives and avoid spending time with them.

Benedict XVI

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As much as I would have preferred that John Piper or J. I. Packer had been elected to the See of Rome, both of those outcomes were rather unlikely.

Evangelicals should nevertheless be encouraged that the new leader of a billion Roman Catholics is someone who believes that there is objective truth about God and what He requires of us and that it is knowable. Not all branches of Christianity are so blessed. Can you imagine the chaos that would have been unleashed had some sort of mushy relativist been elected, particularly here in the United States where so many Roman bishops already lean in that direction? With the Roman Church under Benedict's leadership, evangelicals can hope not only to continue to find culture-war allies among the Catholic laity and priesthood, but increasingly among the hierarchy as well.

In the meantime, we'll keep praying that the full splendor of the Gospel of Christ will be restored to the Roman Church -- the splendor of God's grace, His unmerited favor towards us, which outshines every gilded reliquary and every shard of stained glass.

MORE: Tim Bayly, a conservative Presbyterian pastor, explains why he sees Cardinal Ratzinger's election as a positive outcome.

AND MORE: Dennis Schenkel, a Roman Catholic seminarian, posts some thoughts from one of his classmates, who says that Ratzinger's reputation as "God's rottweiler" comes from his faithful pursuit of his role as head of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, and that he set aside his own speculations as a theologian to fulfill those duties. I found this bit particularly interesting:

He was a priest and Bishop in Germany in the late 50 and 60’s. When he was serving in those roles, he worked on his own theological ideas, such as how the power to be a good Christian is a grace from God but at the same time, there is work to be done on our end in terms of preparing ourselves for that Grace. So, the big question is how does the fact that God gives grace freely work with the idea that our actions can make us more or less likely to receive it? It is a very complicated issue, and theologians around the world (such as Cardinal Ratzinger) are always encouraged to work on this idea (along with countless others) and develop their responses.... Cardinal Ratzinger, like any good theologian, would usually put his ideas out there and sort of say, “OK, here is what I’m thinking. I ask that fellow theologians and bishops etc. show me where I’m wrong or unclear etc.”

James Lileks writes:

The defining quality of 20th century modernity is impatience, I think – the nervous, irritated, aggravated impulse to get on with the new now, and be done with those old tiresome constraints. We’re still in that 20th century dynamic, I think, and we will be held to it until something shocks us to our core. Say what you will about Benedict v.16, but he wants there to be a core to which we can be shocked. And I prefer that to a tepid slurry of happy-clappy relativism that leads to animists consecrating geodes beneath the dome of St. Peter's. That will probably happen eventually, but if we can push it off for a century or two, good.

A trail of blood?

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I cannot connect all the dots, but I can't help but see a trail from the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993, to Oklahoma City in 1995, to TWA Flight 800 in 1996, to the embassy bombings in 1998, to the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001. I don't doubt that McVeigh and Nichols were responsible, and that they were motivated by hatred for the U. S. Government, but I wonder whether they were supported by or cooperating with terrorists from outside this country who not only hate our government but hate the very idea of America.

After Oklahoma City, we were told that we caught the bad guys and we could all breathe easier. We were told that those mean radio talk show hosts were why the bad guys were bad. After TWA Flight 800, we were told that Boeing was the bad guy. Nice tidy endings, and no need for voters to start worrying about foreign policy and foreign threats. We could continue to enjoy our "peace dividend." Is it foolish or partisan to wonder whether 9/11 could have been avoided, if the government of the day had been willing to pursue the possible connection to Islamofascist terrorism, regardless of the political cost?

For the last 10 years, reporter Jayna Davis has been looking into the possible connection between Islamofascist terrorism and the Oklahoma City bombing. You can read about her investigation here and judge for yourself.

Much has been written by those who were in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995. Rather than try to improve on their work, or even try to meaningfully excerpt it, I'll send you their way. They are all must-reads.

Jan, the Happy Homemaker was picked up by a friend and they went to volunteer at University Hospital. She ended up carrying equipment to the triage site and was overwhelmed by what she saw there.

Don Danz felt the explosion four blocks away, then went with a coworker to look for her dad, who worked in the Murrah Building. Don has a map showing damaged buildings as distant as a mile away.

Mike's Noise has a series of posts: His memories of the day of the bombing, a gallery of links, photos he took in the days and weeks following the bombing, profiles of the perpetrators, and unanswered questions -- what about John Doe No. 2, stories of multiple bombs and multiple explosions, and rumors of advance warning of an attack.

Charles G. Hill links to his reaction to media coverage on the first anniversary of the bombing, and on the 10th anniversary his thoughts on what the perps intended to teach us, and what Oklahoma Citians learned instead about themselves. In a separate entry, Charles links to several other first-person accounts, including this one by Chase McInerney, who was on the scene as a working journalist.

Downtown Guy was there, too:

I was there on April 19th. No, thank God, I wasn't a victim, and I wasn't in the buildings when the blast went off. But I was out there soon after. Without risking letting out who I am, let's just say I was out there serving the public. I saw horrible things I never thought I'd see. I saw a person die. And with all the hype out there right now, the image is haunting me again.

I didn't know how much the bombing effected me until the second anniversary. A procession of victims marched through downtown. I watched. I started sweating. My head felt like it was about to explode. I rushed to an alley next to the old library. I threw up in the weeds.

I remember the initial reports, speculating about a natural gas main explosion, then the suggestion that this might be linked to foreign terrorism (remember, it was just two years since the first attack on the World Trade Center), rumors that some Middle Eastern man had been apprehended at the Oklahoma City airport. They found a part of the bomb truck, tracked the VIN back to a rental outlet in Junction City, Kansas, and before long we had sketches of two John Does. It wasn't much longer with John Doe No. 1 was apprehended near Perry, driving a car without a license plate.

I visited the site three weeks later, just after my second nephew was born a few miles away at Baptist Hospital. The building still stood there, agape, awaiting demolition. Teddy bears, flowers, photos, and other tokens of remembrance lined the chain link fence.

Mikki and I visited the memorial on Sunday. I am not fond of the memorial. I don't think we know how to build memorials any more, and I don't have high hopes for what will be built at Ground Zero in New York. It's too big, too grand, too sleek, too clean. But there are a few things about it, mainly small, simple, untidy things, that touch the heart:

  • Among the Field of Chairs, 19 chairs aren't as big as the others.
  • The Survivor Tree -- an elm that once stood in the middle of an asphalt parking lot across the street from the blast is now the focal point and the symbol of the memorial. It's the one spot of shade and shelter at the memorial.
  • The graffito, spraypainted on the Journal Record building by a rescue worker: "Team 5 / 4-19-95 / We search for the truth. We seek Justice. The Courts Require it. The Victims Cry for it. And GOD Demands it"
  • The fence -- it's still there, still hung with memories of lives cut short, beautiful young women, bright-eyed kids, moms and dads. It must have driven the memorial's designer nuts to know that this garden-variety chain link fence and its jumble of sentimental trinkets would continue to stand next to the sleek and stark gates.

Two neighboring churches have built their own small memorials across the street. St. Joseph's Old Cathedral has a statue of Jesus, weeping, facing away from the building and toward a wall with 168 niches. A message from the Roman Catholic Bishop of Oklahoma, Eusebius Beltran, explaining the significance of the statue and the design of the memorial, is posted nearby. First Methodist Church built a small open-air chapel shortly after the bombing as a place for prayer and worship for those visiting the site. These two simple shrines far better capture the Spirit that drew rescue workers and volunteers from across the state and the nation to comfort the dying, tend the wounded, search for the lost, clear away the debris, and begin to put a city back together again.

As disappointed as I was when Bill LaFortune appointed Alan Jackere as acting City Attorney, it was a relief to know that this man, with his creative ways of interpreting our charter and ordinances, was not a candidate to become City Attorney. It was also a relief to know that there were some excellent candidates among the four internal applicants, all four of whom were certified as qualified. There's a civil service rule, the "rule of three," that says if you have at least three qualified internal candidates for a position, you must promote from within.

Jackere became acting City Attorney on July 1, 2004. Evidently, Mayor LaFortune isn't sufficiently enamored of any of the three internal applicants to make the appointment. Now, after an initial lack of interest, Jackere has thrown his hat into the ring for the permanent position.

Here's the scenario I see unfolding: LaFortune's backers want Jackere or someone like him who will continue misinterpreting the law to suit their financial interests. None of the other internal applicants for the job are sufficiently inclined in that direction. Jackere changes his mind and applies for the position. Now LaFortune can technically fulfill the requirements of the rule of three by appointing Jackere to the post, even though he didn't apply by the deadline for internal applicants.

I'll say it again: Every day that Alan Jackere remains as acting City Attorney is another day in which Bill LaFortune demonstrates his contempt for fairness and the rule of law. If LaFortune makes him City Attorney, we're stuck with him for as long as he wants to stay, for all practical purposes. Even if we replace LaFortune in 2006, his successor will be burdened with a City Attorney at odds with a reform-minded Mayor and a reform-minded majority on the City Council. What a rotten legacy that would be.

All those city lawsuits


John S. Denney, counsel for Homeowners for Fair Zoning, has a posted a concise summary of the four pending lawsuits involving the City Council: HFFZ's lawsuit over the handling of their zoning protest petition in F&M Bank's rezoning of 71st and Harvard; F&M's lawsuit against the City and individual councilors over their refusal to approve a plat out of accord with the zoning change that was previously approved; Tulsans for Election Integrity's suit against the City for violating the City Charter in its handling of the recall petitions; and the Coalition for Reprehensible Government's suit to force the City to call a recall election. It's easy to see all the lawsuits and think that City Hall has gone haywire, but former Streets Commissioner Jim Hewgley has said that when he was in office, it was routine for the commissioners to be greeted by process servers after every meeting. Read Denney's summaries, and you'll understand why all these suits are happening.

You can help HFFZ cover the legal bills for their involvement in these suits by taking your business to various merchants, like Quik Trip and Yale Cleaners. Details on how to participate are here.

True Blog Comics!


Thanks to Sean Gleeson for a brilliant comic-book-cover-art tribute to the Media Bloggers Association's valiant intervention in response to the Tulsa World's threat of legal action against this blog. Sean urges his readers to vote for MBA to win a Freedom of Expression award from Reporters without Borders.

Finally found the magic Google phrase to locate something I've been trying to find for some time now: A chart showing the number of Republicans and Democrats in each state legislative chamber in the United States. Here it is, on the website of the National Conference of State Legislatures, as of earlier this month.

If you want counts from further back in history, visit their Partisan Composition and Control page.

This Friday night and Saturday, the South and East Alliance of Tulsa (SEAT) will present Community Conference 2005 at Christview Christian Church, 25th and Garnett (just north of Martin East Regional Library). Friday night's session will feature rotating round-table discussions with elected officials, including Bill LaFortune, members of the City Council, County Commission, and various boards and commissions.

Saturday will feature a variety of seminars -- I'll be leading one in the afternoon session on city issues from the neighborhood perspective. Topics include crime prevention, disaster preparedness, zoning, the city public works department, property taxes, legal aid, parks, Route 66, historic preservation, urban development, environmental awareness, building and running a neighborhood association, and many more. You can find all the details here on the home page for the conference.

Last year's first-ever conference was very well done, and SEAT volunteers are working hard to make this year's another success. In addition to all the good information, they're bringing in good food. Friday night's roundtables will feature a chocolate fountain. Saturday morning breakfast will be catered by Panera Bread, and Sooner Barbecue is handling lunch, which will be presided over by Jim Cremins, a very entertaining speaker. The cost is $20 for Friday night, $30 for Saturday, including food.

If you're active in the community or interested in becoming active, the conference will help you learn a lot in a short time. To sign up, phone (918) 439-1432.

A watchword for activists


Bunny Chambers, Oklahoma's Republican National Committeewoman, closed her remarks with this quote from Edward Everett Hale:

I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do. What I can do, I should do. And what I should do, by the grace of God, I will do.

Oklahoma GOP convention notes


Some odds and ends from this weekend:

Gary Jones and Dana Murphy were reelected without opposition to another two year term as chairman and vice chairman of the Oklahoma Republican Party. They've both done a great job, demonstrated by electoral success, another well-run convention, and money in the state party's bank. There was some buzz around the convention about Dana running for statewide office next year. Dana came close to winning the Republican nomination for Corporation Commission in 2002, enduring some nasty attacks from fellow Republicans with a Christ-like spirit of forgiveness. Oklahoma would be greatly blessed to have Dana Murphy as an elected official.

The two-year-old Reed Center is a lovely facility for a smaller convention, but it's inexcusable that such a new venue would lack wireless Internet capability. That's going to become a competitive disadvantage, and I hope the folks planning renovation of Tulsa's convention center include WiFi in their plans. It doesn't add that much to the cost, and it's a way to tell tech-savvy exhibitors and convention-goers that you understand their needs.

Arizona Congressman J. D. Hayworth used about half of his Friday night speech to focus on immigration. He said that we embrace legal immigration, but border security is a national security issue. He will object to attaching any sort of illegal immigrant amnesty to the emergency supplemental defense appropriations bill, even if it means voting against the bill.

Tom Coburn focused on fiscal responsibility during his convention speech. He plans to offer amendments to the upcoming $81 billion emergency supplemental appropriation. The supplemental won't go against the spending caps, and $19 billion of that $81 billion is not to be spent until 2008. Must not be much of an emergency, but by including money in the out years, it will allow appropriators to go back later and grab the money for spending this year, without violating any spending caps, since the money has already been authorized. Neat trick! Coburn also said communication about personal retirement accounts has been terrible. Americans aren't being told that this money is still within Social Security, completely voluntary, and a no-risk proposition. He said that Social Security reform was "intended to protect our children from us." Medicare is an even bigger problem, with an unfunded liability equial to the private net worth of the United States.

Tom Cole surprised me with a thoughtful and relatively brief speech. When I think of the Norman congressman, I think of his years as a tough, competitive political operative. It's easy for me to forget that he is, after all, a fellow social and economic conservative. Cole mentioned that he was a student of British history before entering politics, specializing in the Victorians. He said that the Victorians made the modern world, ending slavery, ending aristocracy as a governing principle, and making countless technological and scientific advances. He called Winston Churchill the last great Victorian -- born and first elected to Parliament during her reign. Alluding to Churchill's famously brief "Never give up" speech, he reviewed the history of the Republican Party, saying after the electoral disasters of 1964, 1974, and 1992, people like the delegates never, never gave up. Cole was (as far as I heard) the only speaker to mention Terri Schiavo, saying how proud he was of Tom DeLay and congressional Republicans for showing leadership by addressing her situation, without anything to gain politically by taking it up. Cole noted that not a single Senate Democrat was willing to take to the floor to defend their efforts to block legislation to help Terri.

Corporation Commissioner Bob Anthony reviewed the long history of Oklahoma Republicans standing up for public integrity and for open and honest government -- against the good ol' boy system, against the bribery of Supreme Court justices in the '50s and '60s, against bribery in the 1980s County Commission scandal, against stolen elections, against special deals for special people, against decisions made in smoke-filled rooms. Regarding stolen elections, he mentioned a 1960 congressional race in northwestern Oklahoma, when strange doings in a recount led to a Republican defeat. Unfortunately, Tulsans know that not all elected officials who call themselves Republicans share Commissioner Anthony's commitment to openness and serving the public interest rather than special interests. After the speech, someone reminded me of the attacks Commissioner Anthony suffered when he was first elected to the body that regulates public utilities -- slashed tires and death threats. In light of that no one should be surprised at the heat being thrown at the reformers in Tulsa.

The convention ended about 3:40 p.m., the earliest in my memory. The afternoon speakers had mercy on the audience, which began to drift away after the vote to reelect the chairman and vice chairman.

Worn out


That's all I'm going to write tonight. I'm beat and in need of sleep. Mikki and I had a great time here at the convention. Some good friends of ours, Greg and Susan Hill, were honored for their years of volunteer work at Friday's gala. J. C. Watts delivered a powerful address and demonstrated why he would tough to beat should he decide to run for governor. Tulsa State Sen. Jim Williamson is definitely running for governor -- he announced last week -- and there was plenty of talk about who else will throw his (or her) hat in the ring. It was great to reconnect with the folks we spent so much time with at the Republican National Convention and to make some new acquaintances as well. It's encouraging to see that a party that was once limited to Tulsa, Oklahoma City, and the wheat belt has now taken root in nearly every county. At Friday's gala, we sat with a contingent from Cherokee County, including a Tahlequah City Councilor.

After the convention ended, we went over for a relaxed chat with Jan, the Happy Homemaker. We sat on the back porch, looked through her box of postcards, and saw the beautiful result of all the work she's been doing in the yard. Attention postcard fans: Jan has barely started through the collection -- there are all sorts of wonderful cards still to be posted. Jan was part of January's blogger bash. Unfortunately our schedule wasn't certain enough to plan a whole 'nother meet up on this visit, but I hope to reconnect with the other great folks I met at the bash on a future trip down.

We spent the evening in Bricktown: dinner at Chelino's, ice cream, and a lot of walking around. More about all that, and about the convention, later.

As I wrote earlier, Virginia Sen. George Allen delivered this morning's keynote speech at the Oklahoma Republican Convention at the Reed Center in Midwest City. During the speech, he praised Oklahoma's Republican leaders, looked back at what was achieved during his term as Governor of Virginia, reviewed the 2004 successes of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which he headed, looked at what's been accomplished since the election, and looked ahead to some of the legislative challenges yet to be addressed. Except for the skillful way he worked in his gubernatorial accomplishments, it was the sort of speech you'd expect from a U. S. Senator, and didn't strike me as an effort to position himself as a presidential contender. (It's a bit early for that, anyway. He is likely to face a tough re-election challenge from Gov. Mark Warner in 2006.)

Allen was introduced by Oklahoma's senior U. S. Senator, Jim Inhofe. Allen began his speech by saluting many of Oklahoma's elected officials by name, a daring move -- he bobbled only a few (Congressman "Lewis" instead of Lucas). He spoke about Oklahoma's athletic accomplishments. He said that Oklahoma has produced more astronauts than any other state. (Per capita or raw numbers?) He dropped the names of famous Oklahomans in entertainment, past and present, praised our congressional delegation, spoke of Inhofe as "an unflinching leader," celebrated Tom Coburn's successful defense of Don Nickles' senate seat, and congratulated us on gaining the majority in the State House of Representatives. Remembering Tuesday's 10th anniversary of the Murrah Building bombing, he praised Frank and Cathy Keating for their "poised leadership" at that time.

Allen called the armed forces our "most valuable players." He said called the current death gratuity of $12,000 a "paltry, miserly, insulting amount" and said he introduced legislation to increase that amount to $100,000 retroactive to October 2001.

BatesLine was hit with 50 trackback pings in the last 10 hours, and not a single one was legitimate.

Trackback is a very useful mechanism that helps tie the blogosphere together. If another blogger comments on one of my entries, the other blogger's blog software will send an automated message (a "ping") to BatesLine notifying me of the link. This then shows up as a "trackback" on the individual entry pages, and it lets you see what's being said about what I'm writing. If the trackback is legitimate, it will link to an entry on another blog that links back to my entry.

At some point, the spammers figured out how to exploit this to peddle their wares on other sites without payment or permission. A trackback spam message puts a link to the spammer's site on one of my entries, but there's no corresponding link back to my site. That's discourteous, but what's worse is that the messages often advertise really horrible stuff.

By simply changing the name of my trackback script, I was able to screen out a lot of the spam, but the spambots have become smarter. Not only did the spambots figure out the changed script name, they sent everyone of those 50 pings from a different IP address. Either they have figured out how to spoof IP addresses, or they have deployed trojan horse programs via e-mail to unsuspecting PC owners, a trick they were already using with spam e-mail.

The balancing act is to foil the spammers without breaking the technology that keeps the blogosphere connected. To make sure I've not broken things too badly, I'd appreciate it if a few bloggers out there who use blog software with trackback auto-discovery (e.g. Movable Type) would post an entry that links to this one, just to see if it still works. (Just like you can't tickle yourself, you can't ping yourself, so I can't test this on my own. And no, this is not just some cheap ploy to boost my inbound link count.)

Allen well received


No live blogging from the Oklahoma Republican convention. Although it's only two years old, Midwest City's Reed Center doesn't offer wireless Internet service, and wired service is a whopping $75 a day. So this is being scratched out on my Palm Pilot.

Sen. George Allen delivered the keynote address. It was well received. I'll save details for when I have a real keyboard handy.

"As honest as the law allows"


Here's the last strip in the series. Albert's done with his taxes. Hope you are too.

Pogo April 14, 1956

Pogo by Walt Kelly, April 14, 1956. Last in a series of 5. Click here for previous comic, click here to go back to the beginning.

Blogging will continue to be light for the next couple of days, as my wife and I head to Midwest City's Reed Center for the Oklahoma Republican Convention and some kid-free relaxation. I'm hoping to be able to live-blog some of the proceedings. Tonight Arizona Rep. J. D. Hayworth will be speaking at a banquet honoring J. C. Watts, and the keynote speaker tomorrow will be Sen. George Allen of Virginia. A political blog from his homestate (named Sic Semper Tyrannis after the Commonwealth's motto) has contacted me, asking me to report on his speech. He's a potential presidential candidate in 2008, and it will be interesting to see how he's received by grass-roots Oklahoma Republicans. Oklahoma will hold is presidential primary the first Tuesday in February, so we should be receiving a lot of attention from the contenders.

The Oklahoma Republican Party still has its struggles, but we've rescued the State House, held on to both U. S. Senate seats and four of five congressional seats, won every county in the state for George W. Bush, and have hopes of capturing the State Senate and Governor's Mansion in 2006. I give thanks for our situation every time I read something about the New York Republican Party on Slant Point like this or on Alarming News like this. Actually, there's a sign of hope in that Slant Point entry, and I hope to write more about that later.

"I knowed they was a catch"


The IRS never makes it easy....


Pogo by Walt Kelly, April 13, 1956. Y'all enjoying these? Let me hear from you. By the way, the distortion and greyness in the last frame is the result of scanning out of a book. I'm learning how to use the GIMP, and I suspect there's a way to correct for that, but I haven't figured it out yet. This is 4 in a series of 5. Click for previous, next comic.

I admire Christian bloggers who are willing to open their hearts and let us readers watch as God works in their lives, especially when they write with expressive power.

One such blogger, Manasclerk, has announced that Manasclerk's Power Struggle is closing up shop, possibly as soon as today. Time to move on, he says, and while he'll be migrating the stuff about information technology and organization to other sites, what he's written about personal and spiritual matters is "going into storage." (NOTE: There's an update at the end of this entry -- click the "continue reading" link if you're reading this on the home page.)

That's a shame, because it is challenging and thought-provoking material. He's Reformed, and that informs his perspective, but he doesn't write theological essays. He writes about Christians in community, from his own observations and his own struggles in relationships with friends, family, and churches. He writes about the work God does sanctifying him through those relationships. It's worthy of your consideration no matter what your theological or denominational affiliation.

Reporters without Borders has nominated the Media Bloggers Association for a Freedom of Expression Blog award, in the International category.

You'll recall that the Media Bloggers Association provided legal assistance to BatesLine in response to the threat letter I received from the Tulsa World back in February. If you appreciate what MBA did on my behalf, help them get some well-deserved recognition by clicking here and voting.

Creative accounting


Another Pogo strip to help ease your tax preparation woes. I'm done, but Albert is still figgerin'. I needed tax advice this good.


Pogo by Walt Kelly, April 12, 1956. Alas, most Pogo books are out of print, but you can find some new and used by searching for "Walt Kelly" at Amazon. This is 3 in a series of 5. Click for previous, next comic.

Reaching a new low

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As of 7 last evening, 11 stone, 11 pounds, the lightest I've been since I did the Jenny Craig thing 10+ years ago, and four pounds lighter than when I finished Atkins in fall 2003. I owe it all to blogging, anxiety, regret, overcommitment, insufficient sleep, and a well-rounded diet of Diet Coke, taquitos, Peanut M&Ms, and Fisherman's Friend coughdrops.

A tip of the hat to Mee Citee Wurkor for calling attention to Gizoogle, which translates any web page into gangsta-ese.

I wonder, I thought, whether the drollery of Dustbury would survive such a transformation. I was not disappointed. (Warning: The translator generates some foul language.)

(The anti-framing technology of the site means you can't use Gizoogle to translate B-to-tha-izzatesLine. Sorry.)

Taxes two-step


In the spirit of the season, Bobby of Tulsa Topics has posted a Western Swing tune called "Taxes, Taxes," performed by Hank Penny.

Blind hatred?


A reader writes, taking exception to the way I've characterized the two recently-formed young professionals groups in Tulsa:

You often right [sic] w/ blind hatred about the Chamber, etc. Recently you commented on the "real" young professionals group and the Chamber's yp group. being somewhat familiar w/ these groups, I think you're being extremely misleading. If you look at http://calendar.yptulsa.org/?id=28 you'll see that yptulsa actually LISTS on their calendar the Chamber's yp event this thursday. I'm not seeing all the animosity and group-competition you claim exists.

Obviously you won't comment on this or anything of the sort. You cut it real black and white on your site. I enjoy your postings though for the most part. But as someone who likes to see the good in both sides of an issue, I rarely agree with you. you got blinders on.

If you'll reread what I wrote more carefully, you'll notice I didn't say there was any animosity between the people involved in ypTULSA and those involved in the Tulsa Metro Chamber's copycat group, TYpros. ypTULSA did indeed list TYpros' inaugural event on their calendar, and the ypTULSA leadership is committed to working with TYpros and any other organization that shares their aims. (I note that TYpros has not reciprocated with a link to ypTULSA.)

It's not "blind hatred" to notice that once again, the Tulsa Metro Chamber bureaucracy is more interested in power and control than in cooperation for the greater good of the city. I stand by the story I reported last October, long before the existence of TYpros was announced. TYpros is the fulfillment of the Chamber's threat to set up a rival organization, after ypTULSA refused its overture to bring them under the Chamber umbrella. People who have been active in the community far longer than I have can affirm that the Chamber's MO is to kill what it cannot control.

It may be the case that the young professionals who have joined TYpros don't see themselves as rivals to ypTULSA, but that was the intention of those who created the group. Perhaps in time, TYpros will develop a mission that differentiates it from what ypTULSA is trying to accomplish. But for now, TYpros appears to be a cynical attempt by the Chamber to direct energetic young professionals away from an independent group that might take things in a direction the Chamber doesn't like.

Which is not to say that I'm going to like every direction that ypTULSA takes, but I respect the group for lighting a candle instead of cursing the darkness. They're already involved in reviving the Greenwood Jazz Festival, trying to reopen Nelson's Buffeteria somewhere downtown, and trying to make something of the East Village concept. You can read Urban Tulsa's coverage of ypTULSA's kickoff here. I'm glad to see that their concept for the east downtown area focuses on bringing in homegrown businesses in an incremental approach, rather than one massive development for the whole area, controlled by a single developer. The incremental, locally-driven approach has worked well in places like Savannah, Georgia, and it's proven itself along Cherry Street and Brookside here in Tulsa.

A li'l' innocent cheatin'


Pogo April 11, 1956

Pogo by Walt Kelly, April 11, 1956. Note the correct use of apostrophes in the word "LI'L'." This is comic 2 in a series of 5. Click for previous, next comic.

Roe'd to Damascus


Now online: Last Sunday's communion meditation, preached by Pastor David O'Dowd at Christ Presbyterian Church in Tulsa.

If you're pro-life, you'll find it interesting because, woven into David's exposition of Exodus 12 -- the account of the Passover -- is the story of the conversion of Norma McCorvey, known to the world as the Jane Roe of Roe v. Wade, and the touching story of how God used the seven-year-old daughter of an Operation Rescue volunteer to draw Norma to Himself.

The meditation also includes one of the clearest explanations I've heard of the Presbyterian view of the sacrament of the Lord's Supper. Catholics, in particular, seem to assume that all Protestants, or at least all evangelicals, hold to the Zwinglian view that the bread and wine are mere symbols and the Lord's Supper is a memorial, an ordinance commanded by Christ, but not a sacrament or a means of grace. That's not the case for the PCA or other bodies which hold to the Westminster Confession of Faith, which teaches the real presence of Christ in the elements.

You can find the sermon notes here, streaming audio here, and a downloadable MP3 here.

Read delicious


Searching for blog references to Tulsa, I came across a website called The Big Apple, the core mission (sorry) of which is to provide extensive explanation and evidence for the origins of that fruity phrase, perhaps the best-known nickname for New York City. I'll give you a clue -- it has to do with horseracing. Another clue -- it has nothing to do with "road apples."

The site also features the origins of other city and state nicknames like "the Show-Me State," "the Big Easy," and "the Garden State."

Beyond the nicknames, there's a wealth of New York trivia about buildings, businesses (and their slogans), food and drink, songs, phrases, streets, neighborhoods, and sports teams. Most of the entries feature newspaper or magazine citations, trying to track down the earliest published reference to a name or phrase.

It's a fascinating site, but not very visual. If it's New York City photographs and history you want -- and plenty of both -- you need to visit Kevin Walsh's Forgotten NY.

(Oh, the Tulsa reference? It was a letter to the editor in the March 4, 2005, Tulsa Whirled, perpetuating a myth about the name's origin. A letter correcting the myth was sent to the Whirled, but never published.)

Tax day approaches


I'm going to be a little busy for the next day or two...

Pogo April 10, 1956

Pogo, by Walt Kelly, April 10, 1956. First of five. Click for next comic.

Cum dubites, murmura

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If you learned Latin, you probably learned about Horatio (Horatius Cocles), the brave Roman soldier who single-handedly fended off the Etruscan army as the Romans destroyed the bridge across the Tiber behind him. As a reward for his bravery, Horatio received as much land as he could plow around in a day.

... or so Livy wrote. But ancient Roman Army memoranda, published in the January 1953 issue of the British Army Journal, reveal what happened after Horatio's reward went through proper channels.

(You'll find the title in its original bureaucratese here, and its author here.)

"Doverspa" of RedState.org commented on my earlier post about voter fraud that fellow RedState.org contributor Erick Erickson has helped draft a tough voter ID bill currently working its way through the Georgia legislature. Here's the Macon Telegraph story and Erick's entry on the bill.

The Republican-controlled Oklahoma House has passed several important pro-life bills, but they're being held up by a Democrat Senate committee chairman, according to Rep. Kevin Calvey's "Capitol Update":

House Republicans Move forward with Pro-Life Legislation, despite Senate Maneuvers

Joined by a woman who shared her personal story about abortion, House Republican leaders said today they would continue to press for pro-life legislation during the 2005 session.

"These issues surpass party lines," said Rep. Kevin Calvey (R-Del City), author of House Bill 1543, the Women's Right to Know and the Family Protection Act. "Unfortunately, Senate leadership today attempted to brush off these issues entirely by passing a watered-down bill at the eleventh hour.

"Senate Democrats apparently do not realize the widespread support across the state for these measures. They've garnered bi-partisan support here in the House, and it's time for the will of the people to be respected."

Three pro-life measures have bogged down in the Senate after receiving overwhelming support in the House weeks ago. Earlier today, a Senate committee passed a watered-down measure, in an attempt to distract attention from core reforms.

The bills that have failed to receive a hearing in the Senate are:

* HB 1257 - The Oklahoma Unborn Victim of Violence Act, a "Laci & Conner Peterson" law.
* HB 1258 - Establishes a criminal punishment for anyone other than a physician who distributes a pill to induce an abortion.
* HB 1543 - Women's Right to Know and the Family Protection Act.

Valeska Littlefield, an outspoken pro-woman advocate and Tulsa resident, today joined lawmakers as she shared her story about having an abortion. HB 1543 would require more thorough counseling for women considering an abortion, a common-sense measure Littlefield said would have changed her decision.

"I regret having had an abortion," said Littlefield. "It is a decision that has affected my entire life. If I had known more at the time, I would have decided to see my pregnancy through."

Other pro-life advocates also spoke in support of Calvey's measure. "The legislation proposed by Representative Calvey is very modest, but badly needed," said Tony Lauinger, state chair of Oklahomans for Life. "The substitute passed this morning in a Senate committee fails to address the urgent need for a woman to be given comprehensive information about the development of her unborn child."

"These measures represent the culture of life in our state, the core values of hardworking Oklahomans," said Rep. Pam Peterson (R-Tulsa), the author of HB 1257, a measure to institute a "Laci & Conner Peterson" law in Oklahoma. "And we're not going to relent just because a powerful Senator has decided to ignore the concerns of voters."

HB 1543, the Women's Right to Know and the Family Protection Act, passed the House overwhelmingly in early March. Calvey says the informed consent law would require that a woman considering an abortion would be told by a physician about the medical risks involved with specific procedures, as well as developmental information about the unborn child.

HB 1543 also requires the knowledge of a parent before a minor can receive an abortion. Currently more than half the states in the nation have informed consent laws.

"Oklahomans don't want to see these pro-family issues put on the backburner," said Rep. Lance Cargill (R-Harrah), the House Majority Floor Leader and a strong advocate for pro-life legislation. "These measures offer common-sense solutions to problems, and they should be passed quickly."

Representative Thad Balkman (R-Norman), chair of the House Republican Caucus agreed: "Every Oklahoman understands that criminals should be held accountable for their acts, and that parents should have the right to know about a child's decision. It's time to act on these issues for the betterment of our state."

The powerful senator to whom Rep. Peterson refers is Bernest Cain, Democrat chairman of the Senate Human Services Committee, who infamously compared pro-life Christians to Nazis and called them "the right wing of the Taliban."

Who's the boss?


Mee Citee Wurkor has a solid analysis of today's Whirled article about the lawsuits that have been filed against the City and against several Tulsa City Councilors. The article is a sort of editorial posing as news analysis, featuring carefully selected quotes that all support the common theme: "The Council is irresponsible to ignore the excellent legal advice of my pal, Alan Jackere."

(One of the subtle entertainments of a City Council committee meeting is to watch P. J. Lassek and Alan Jackere, sitting next to each other near the front of the room, each intently watching the discussion and each chomping rhythmically on a wad of gum. I could swear they always end up chewing in sync.)

We have an acting City Attorney that fails to understand that the elected officials are his clients, and he exists to serve their interests. If he renders advice, they are free to ignore it, but he is still obliged to provide whatever legal support they need to accomplish their purposes.

I'll say it one more time, just in case the 11th Floor hasn't been paying attention: It's now been nine months since Martha Rupp-Carter's resignation as City Attorney was effective. Mr. Mayor, you can replace Alan Jackere at any time with one of several good candidates to be a permanent City Attorney. If you value fairness and the rule of law, you'll take care of that this week.

Lots of lots

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Only one comment so far in response to Downtown Guy's request for what's best in downtown Tulsa. My dad writes:

What is best in Downtown Tulsa?? ---- For a price, there are lots of lots for parking!!!!!

He's right. Downtown has a tremendous collection of surface parking lots, many encompassing an entire city block. Mikki and I once went on a helicopter ride over downtown, and we were awestruck by the vast expanses of asphalt, and there's more of it every year.

Downtown was not always like that -- take a look at downtown, viewed from the south, in 1952. Nearly every building less than five stories in the foreground of that photo, along with many taller buildings, have been flattened, mainly to provide surface parking for Tulsa Community College and nearby churches.

When I first ran for City Council in 1998, I talked about city leaders bringing together building owners, church leaders, and TCC to find a way to meet the need for parking without continuing the process of flattening downtown. Shortly after that election, the Catholic Diocese of Eastern Oklahoma demolished the Tulsa Apartments at 9th and Main. The sturdy apartments were built in the '20s and would have had great potential for renovation as apartments or condos. The diocese claimed that they would replace the apartments with a plaza and a new chancery, but in fact they wanted it for more convenient parking for Sunday morning, just like all the other downtown churches.

Seven years later, the leveling of downtown continues, most recently with the Tulsa Whirled's demolition of the Skelly Building for a dozen parking spots. City leaders are so convinced that the arena (if it is ever built) will bring downtown back to life that they haven't noticed that there isn't much downtown left to revive.

Anyone else think this is a problem?

Here's a conversation Don Danz had at his polling place last Tuesday:

Me: Hi. (smiling)

Poll Worker 1: Last name? (smiling)

Me: Danz...Don Danz. (now with dead serious expression and tone) But, I'm not really him. And, you can't do anything about it because you can't ask for my ID. (I sign my name…or at least my alias for that precinct)

Poll Worker 2: We don’t care. (hands me my ballots)

Poll Worker 3: The state of Oklahoma doesn't care. (everyone exchanges knowing smiles and small chuckles as it's obvious I'm making a point with which the workers agree)

Me: (after having voted) We'll I'm off to go vote in a few more precincts.

Poll Worker 2: Good luck.

Oklahoma has no way to prevent voter fraud and no practical way to detect it if it occurs. Requiring photo ID to vote would not be foolproof, but it would prevent someone walking in and voting under someone else's name. Republican legislators have tried to pass such a requirement, but the Democrats have always blocked it, claiming it would intimidate minority and elderly voters. Don says that's hogwash:

This is not only untrue but, also, incredibly insulting to blacks and the elderly. I guess blacks and old people don’t use checks or credit cards either because they are too scared someone will want to see some ID. What a load of crap.

The only real reason to oppose checking identification is that in some places Democrats rely on widespread voter fraud in order to be elected. There simply is no other reason to oppose mandatory photo identification before voting.

Oklahoma election officials are justly proud of our optical ballot readers, which gives us the ability to obtain quick and accurate results while still having a paper record of each vote, preserving the option of a manual count. But a ballot reader is like any other computer -- Garbage In, Garbage Out -- and it can't detect a ballot cast fraudulently. We've had too many close elections that could have been swayed by even a tiny amount of fraud: House District 78 in 2004 was decided by less than 30 votes; the 2002 Governor's race was decided by less than three votes per precinct.

In a voting system that is truly one person, one vote, only an eligible voter would cast a ballot, each voter would vote only once and would vote only in the district in which he currently lives. Oklahoma has no requirement to ensure that any of those conditions are met. For the sake of democracy, it's time we fixed that.

Show and kvell: Play ball!


Friday night was Joe's first baseball game of the season, and he had a great game. Joe went two for three -- the one time he didn't get a base hit, he was out at first, but a runner scored on a fielder's choice. On his final at bat he smacked it into right field, driving in two runs. He crossed the plate a couple of batters later.

He played in left-center field part of the game and for the final inning was "pitcher." In 8-year-old coach-pitch ball, the batting team's coach is the pitcher, but there's a defensive player who stands in the center of the field -- to borrow a term from cricket, let's call this non-pitching pitcher a silly mid off. Anyway, as silly mid off, Joe got the assist on the final out of the game, scooping up the grounder and tossing it to first.

This afternoon's game was windy and dusty. Joe got one hit, grounded out once, and struck out once when the wind was especially gusty. He played a few innings in left center field and two innings as catcher, making a play at the plate to put out the runner, who knocked him over. This is the fourth year of organized ball for Joe and most of his teammates, and it's amazing to think back to his T-ball days. A good defensive play is not the stunning feat that it once was, and more often than not, the batter at least makes contact with the ball.

Joe's team is made up of his fellow students at Regent Preparatory School, and the coaches are all Regent dads. Every coach Joe has had has been an exemplar of patience and good sportsmanship, and it's reflected in the attitude of the boys. The coaches do a great job of challenging the boys to do better without making them feel small.

It's not whether you win or lose, blah-blah-blah, but for the record, the Regent Rams are 2-0.

After last night's game, our family went over to Riverwalk Crossing, just north of the Oklahoma Aquarium in Jenks. Landscaping and bricklaying is still in progress, but a few shops and restaurants are open. We had supper at Gary's Grill. The owner, Gary Hahn, is the nephew of the owner of Brownie's, the venerable burger joint and root beer stand in midtown Tulsa. Gary's menu is nearly identical to Brownie's, complete with homemade root beer served in frosted mugs. Katherine had a wienie burger -- they make tiny cross cuts along one side of a hot dog, and as it cooks it curls into a ring, which they serve on a hamburger bun. (The night before, Mikki and I had heard Glenn Beck talking about his mom doing this.) The service was friendly, and we had a nice meal. As a bonus, we saw Joe's very first teacher, Mrs. James, and her husband and their new baby.

Today after the game, Joe and I spent a couple of hours at the aquarium. Joe got to feed and pet the stingrays and bamboo sharks, and we were fascinated watching the octopus, who was much more active than normal. There wasn't a docent in the shark exhibit, so Joe started explaining to the other visitors how to tell the difference between the bull sharks and the lemon sharks.

After dinner tonight, we all played Apples to Apples (the junior edition). Each player has a hand of five cards, each with a noun on it -- e.g., George Washington, Dumbo, under my bed, spaghetti, spit, cowboys. One player, the judge for the hand, draws a card with an adjective -- e.g., tiny, heavy, yucky, helpful, hairy. Each of the other players plays a noun card from his hand, and the judge chooses among the cards played for the noun that best matches the adjective. The fun of the game is that you often don't have a noun card anywhere near the adjective, and you're forced to decide, for example, which among George Washington, trains, ice cream, or Big Bird is the hairiest. The kids really love it, and it's quick enough (20-30 minutes) that it's easy to fit in a game.

Yesterday, in an entry about the 1982 "Baby Doe" case in Indiana and the Terri Schiavo case, I wrote:

Preventing similar tragedies in the future will require ... that we understand the laws as they are today and then work with legislators to build in safeguards against the kind of judicial tyranny we saw at work in Pinellas County, Florida.

Proving that great minds think alike, Corie Schweitzer, of Insane Troll Logic, e-mailed to let me know that she has begun that task in Texas:

I think it would be a fitting tribute to Terri to work on finding out what each state's laws regarding end of life issues with respect to incapacitated persons and then working to have those laws changed to ensure that, in the absence of many safeguards to ensure that the incapacitated person's explicit wishes are explicitly known, that no one may be deprived of their life.

Corie contacted her state representative and state senator, who pointed her to the applicable section of law. She began looking through the statutes for potential problems, and here's one she found:

• Subsection C says that the decision to withhold life support "must be based on knowledge of what the patient would desire, if known" [emphasis mine].

1) It does not define what exactly constitutes "knowing" what the patient desires, since the statute is already dealing with patients WITHOUT AN ADVANCED DIRECTIVE. The law should specify exactly what kinds of evidence could be presented as proof of wishes and what could not be presented.

Corie has some good suggestions for how to work with your state legislators to address the problems you find. She deserves encouragement and emulation. I will look forward to following her progress in Texas and hope that she will serve as an example to pro-life bloggers in the other 49 states.

Think a living will can protect you against being dehydrated to death against your wishes? Think again.

In a situation recalling the recent death of Terri Schiavo in Florida, an 81-year-old widow, denied nourishment and fluids for nearly two weeks, is clinging to life in a hospice in LaGrange, Ga., while her immediate family fights desperately to save her life before she dies of starvation and dehydration.

Mae Magouirk was neither terminally ill, comatose nor in a "vegetative state," when Hospice-LaGrange accepted her as a patient about two weeks ago upon the request of her granddaughter, Beth Gaddy, 36, an elementary school teacher.

Also upon Gaddy's request and without prior legal authority, since March 28 Hospice-LaGrange has denied Magouirk normal nourishment or fluids via a feeding tube through her nose or fluids via an IV. She has been kept sedated with morphine and ativan, a powerful tranquillizer. ...

In her living will, Magouirk stated that fluids and nourishment were to be withheld only if she were either comatose or "vegetative," and she is neither. Nor is she terminally ill, which is generally a requirement for admission to a hospice.

Magouirk lives alone in LaGrange, though because of glaucoma she relied on her granddaughter, Beth Gaddy, to bring her food and do errands.

Granddaughter just got tired of looking after Grandmama:

"Grandmama is old and I think it is time she went home to Jesus," Gaddy told Magouirk's brother and nephew, McLeod and Ken Mullinax. "She has glaucoma and now this heart problem, and who would want to live with disabilities like these?"

What's shocking is that the hospice would comply with Gaddy's request without verifying her legal authority to act on her grandmother's behalf. I used to think well of hospices, but I'm starting to wonder if there's a chain of them owned by the Soylent Corporation.

So the hospice pulled the tube, then put it back three days later at the request of relatives who did have that authority. Within hours Gaddy applied to a probate judge and was granted emergency guardianship for the weekend, long enough to order the feeding tube pulled. Mae Magouirk has gone without food and water for over 10 days.

Georgia law requires that a hearing for an emergency guardianship must be held within three days of its request, and Magouirk's hearing was held April 4 before Judge Boyd. Apparently, he has not made a final ruling, but favors giving permanent guardianship power to Gaddy, who is anxious to end her grandmother's life.

That's putting it mildly. There are other relatives ready to step in and care for Magouirk, but again a judge, one judge, stands in the way of saving a life.

Hat tip to the Bayly Brothers.

UPDATE: Jack Lewis provides a helpful timeline of the situation.

Happy 9th!

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Charles G. Hill marks nine years of his website, remembering pages past:

Another page that's disappeared was the Feedback Form, which I wrote in 1997, and which never got much use. There was a text box for comments, and a place to identify yourself, but before that, there were seven possible answers to "So really, what do you think of this site?"

* It's the most amazing site I've ever seen
* I give it an 85; it's got a good beat and you can dance to it
* There are suckier sites
* It must be nice to have that much free time
* Tell me you don't do this for a living
* Let me guess: you majored in Snotty
* I will eat dirt rather than bookmark this

"It must be nice to have that much free time," the median, was set as the default.

He concludes:

I have a feeling this site is never going away until I do.

Let's hope neither happens for a long, long time.

Best of downtown Tulsa?

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Downtown Guy from Oklahoma City wants to know from Tulsans what's best about our downtown:

So, what are your suggestions for getting the most out of a visit to downtown Tulsa? Best hotel? Best restaurants? Best attractions? Best hidden architecture? Best clubs? Best list of events for weekends in April?

What do you think?

Mikki and I had a great time last night at KFAQ's third birthday party at the Mabee Center. It was an honor to have seats in the VIP section, and it was a pleasant surprise to be recognized by Michael DelGiorno as he introduced the dignitaries. (I've always considered myself more of an indignantary.)

Nationally-syndicated talk show host Glenn Beck delivered a wide-ranging hour-long monologue. The first half was like a political stand-up comedy act that had everyone cackling. He began with a salute to the Oklahoma state senator who came up with the idea of putting boxing gloves on roosters, but he said that what really makes America great is that some manufacturer in California said he could make those rooster boxing gloves. He went on to talk about parental responsibility, with a riff on the skanky clothes young girls are allowed to wear. Beck calls them "prostitots."

I was surprised that there were a number of younger kids in the audience. We left ours with a sitter, partly so we could enjoy an evening out on our own, partly because of the kind of subject matter talk show hosts deal with. When Beck started talking about the rising number of junior high school students engaging in oral sex or began using the vulgar past participle for micturition as a synonym for "angry," the presence of a seven-year-old girl in the front row didn't seem to deter him. (Mel Brooks fans will understand why I half-expected him to shift his vocabulary and start talking about "number one" and "pe-pe envy.")

Things turned serious as he talked about the Terri Schiavo case, which he's been covering for more than five years, and he was honored to be invited to sit with the Schindler family at Terri's funeral. Beck read from a chilling article, which he said was in a New York paper a couple of days ago, concerned with the cost to Medicaid programs of long-term care for the severely disabled. The unspoken question in the story -- which I haven't been able to find -- was, "Wouldn't it be better for everyone to put these disabled people out of their misery, so we can spend the money on others?"

Thanks again to the folks at KFAQ for the chance to be a part of the event and for the opportunity to talk over their airwaves every Monday morning. By the way, DelGiorno should be airing excerpts from Beck's speech on Friday morning's show.

In a departure from recent tradition, Council Vice Chairman Tom Baker was passed over for the chairmanship of the Council, which rotates each April between political parties. Instead, Roscoe Turner was selected by the Democratic caucus on the Council (Turner, Baker, and Jack Henderson) to take the party's turn with the gavel, and the whole Council approved him by a vote of 7-1 -- Susan Neal cast the only "no" vote.

The Republican caucus, now dominated 3-2 by associates of the Cockroach Caucus (Neal, Christiansen and Sullivan, against Mautino and Medlock) chose Susan Neal as the nominee for Vice Chairman. Neal was approved by the Council by a 5-3 vote, with Mautino, Medlock, and Turner dissenting. It's ironic that in April 2003, Sam Roop and Chris Medlock offered to support Neal as Vice Chairman, because they did not want to see Randy Sullivan becoming Vice Chairman and then Chairman. Medlock and Mautino opposed Neal's nomination this year because of her refusal to join nearly every other Republican elected official in the Tulsa area in opposition to the attempt to recall Mautino and Medlock from office.

In other City Hall news, the City will not pay the legal expenses of the five councilors being sued by F&M Bank for their vote rejecting the final plat on the 71st and Harvard property. The topsy-turvy reason: Because the five being sued constitute a majority of the Council, any vote by the Council to cover their legal fees would lack a quorum, because the five would have to recuse themselves. So an official action of the City Council, approved by the majority of the Council, will not be defended by the City. The acting City Attorney, Alan Jackere, who should be working to defend the official action taken by the Council, refuses to do so. Mayor LaFortune continues to demonstrate his contempt for the rule of law and for fairness for all Tulsans by allowing Jackere to continue as acting City Attorney. There are some excellent candidates who have applied for the job, and it's about time LaFortune acted to fill the vacancy.

The Tulsa City Council District 5 special election is for all the marbles. With Sam Roop's departure, the Council is split 4-4 between the forces of reform and the forces of reaction, between the Faithful Four and the Bought and Paid Four.

This election poses a special challenge. Under Tulsa's City Charter, a special election has no primary and no runoff. There is one election, and whoever is first past the post wins the seat. With eight candidates in the race, someone could win with only 13% of the votes. While it's a situation that instant runoff voting would handle flawlessly, the rules are what they are.

Under these conditions, it is essential for reform-minded residents of District 5 to rally around a single candidate. Unfortunately, one candidate, whom I believed to be a reformer, doesn't have the maturity to appreciate the political realities. This candidate has run off whining to the Tulsa Whirled, giving them ammunition, in the form of baseless charges, to use against the good guys.

Novel ideas


Jared of Mysterium Tremendum is retiring from the blogosphere for a time to finish his novel. His final entries focus on the art of writing -- a collection of links to his best pieces on writing and literature, a quote from C. S. Lewis on the importance of consistency and discipline in writing stories, and writing tips from Lewis.

I especially liked an entry called "The Primacy of Artistry in Christian Art." There's an excerpt from a conversation between C. S. Lewis, Kingsley Amis, and Brian Aldiss, in which Lewis explains that in writing Perelandra he did not build the story around what became the central theme:

Lewis: The starting point of . . . Perelandra was my mental picture of the floating islands. The whole of the rest of my labours in a sense consisted of building up a world in which floating islands could exist. And then of course the story about an averted fall developed. This is because, as you know, having got your people to this exciting country, something must happen.

Later in the conversation:

Lewis: . . . I’ve never started from a message or a moral, have you?

Amis: No, never. You get interested in the situation.

Lewis: The story itself should force its moral upon you. You find out what the moral is by writing the story.

Jared says that most of the books you find in the Christian fiction section were written in the opposite direction -- the author started with a topic or a moral and then tried to construct a story around it.

We have plenty of Christian medical/legal/military/crime thrillers, but the problem with so many of them is not that they are a type of story but that the story itself seems only tangentially important to their purpose. ...

Christian Writers, just write good stories, let the story take over. If you let the story tell itself, your faith will out.

The same thing could be said about Christians working in drama, music, or any other art form. Christians have too often excused mediocrity, as if it were impossible for a follower of Christ to create something beautiful and excellent, as if sincerity relieved an artist of striving for excellence. Your creation is going to reflect your worldview, and if you make it excellent, you will glorify the Lord, and you will draw others who come for the beauty hear the message between the lines.

Indeed, beauty and excellence in the work of a Christian artist is itself a message: That the artist serves a Lord who is worthy of nothing less than his finest efforts.

UPDATE: Joe Carter of the Evangelical Outpost has been writing along similar lines, asking whether Christians can save the visual arts:

For Christians to be able to save the visual arts we must first stop treating “Christian art” as a distinctive genre, as if the value of an artwork depended on whether it fell on the “correct” side of the sacred/secular divide. Art must have an intrinsic dignity as a work of art. What makes it worthy of the modifier “Christian” is not a matter of theme or content but that it is produced for the pleasure of our Lord. We create because we are made in the image of our Father and, like our own children, we should honor him with the gifts of our creativity.

Carter has been running a series called "The Gallery," posting a work of art each Sunday. Easter Sunday's post was Bouguereau's "Les saintes femmes au tombeau" ("The holy women at the tomb").

District 5 Filing


Filing closed today at 5 p.m. for the Tulsa City Council District 5 special election on May 10 -- six Republicans, two Democrats are in the race.

Joe Conner, R
Charlotte Harer, R
Allen Harjo, R
Nancy Jackson, R
William Martinson, R
Al Nichols, D
Andrew Phillips, D
David Weaver, R

I'll tell you what I know about these folks in a later entry.

Good grief


Tulsa Christian counselor Bowden McElroy has some excellent brief entries about the grieving process:

That first entry has sound advice for men who are grieving over the loss of a significant relationship, often the reason that a man seeks out counseling. Some of that sound advice: take care of yourself physically so you can think clearly, don't turn into "evil stalker guy" ("There is nothing attractive about desperation."), and learn to pray unselfishly -- not for her to change, but for you to be the man you ought to be, regardless of what she does.

The second entry includes the observation that someone experiencing grief may be in a different stage of the process for each facet of the loss, which is why someone may experience wide mood swings.

I admire Bowden's ability to communicate something profound and practical in just a few words, and if you aren't making his blog a regular read, you should be.

Tulsa roundup



Bobby of Tulsa Topics has photos of today's hailstorm, a link to what he uses to do streaming audio on his website, and he has a collection of springtime photos of Tulsa in bloom and has them in a screensaver that you can download.

Don Singleton has news of an experiment in citizen journalism being launched in Bluffton, South Carolina -- a tabloid paper combined with a website: "Every reader will be invited to log onto the Web site and comment about stories, as well as start their own blog, upload pictures and even contribute recipes."

Mee Citee Wurkor will tell you everything you could possibly want to know about water meter replacement.

The Homeowners for Fair Zoning newslog explains F&M Bank's lawsuit against individual city councilors over the 71st and Harvard property. And we learn about the connection between Tulsa Whirled, F&M Bank, and steaming piles of cow dung.

And, yes, you heard right: John Erling is retiring after 28 years as morning show host on KRMG.

G. W. Schulz has penned another excellent news feature story in the latest Urban Tulsa, this one about the Brookings Institute study about the doubtful economic benefits of publicly-owned convention centers. Schulz talks to the study's author, Heywood Sanders, and to Suzann Stewart of the Tulsa Convention and Visitors' Bureau, and John Scott, manager of the Tulsa Convention Center. Schulz creates a debate between the nation's leading expert on convention center economics and the local defenders of the convention industry.

Stewart insists Sanders doesn’t recognize Tulsa’s uniqueness and indeed the uniqueness of all cities in the convention market that can specifically identify what they have to offer and tailor their marketing accordingly.

“I think the thing that’s interesting about our industry that (Sanders) doesn’t really pick up on or has chosen not to is it really is different city to city,” Stewart said. “The profile of the business that each city gets is different, and the needs of each city are different.”

What Tulsa has heard repeatedly, and what Stewart gladly reiterated, was that Tulsa had geographic specificity. In other words, Tulsa is at the center of the nation making it convenient for everyone to come here.

But therein lays another of Sanders’ complaints.

“Everyone will say the same thing,” he said. “Everybody says they’ve got this unique thing.”

Tulsa is indeed at the center of the United States. But so are Fort Worth, Dallas, Kansas City, Oklahoma City, and to a degree, St. Louis. And how about Wichita?

We learn that Tulsa's efforts at recruiting conventions are focusing on SMERF groups -- social, military, educational, religious, and fraternal -- groups that generate the least amount of spending per person, because conventioneers are traveling at their own expense. The feasibility study done for Vision 2025 said that SMERFs were the only groups that gave a plurality positive response to using an expanded, updated Tulsa Convention Center. Sanders says that this strategy puts us in competition with larger cities and larger facilities:

But Sanders said he was recently in St. Louis discussing with that city their pursuit of SMERFs. Sanders stated in his report that cities large and small have become so desperate for business that they’ve all begun targeting SMERFs. An overall decline in the conventions market has led everyone toward these smaller events.

“While small centers get bigger in order to accommodate bigger events, bigger centers are getting bigger in order to accommodate small and medium-sized events simultaneously,” the report states.

Another well-researched, well-written, and interesting article -- be sure to read the whole thing.

Pogo, by Neddie Jingo


I just came across a terrific tribute to Pogo, Walt Kelly's classic comic strip. The author, one Neddie Jingo, says that it's a shame if the only thing you know about Pogo is, "We have met the enemy and he is us":

As a technician, Kelly's contribution to the cartoonist's craft is probably even greater than George Herriman's; Kelly's influence is just howlingly obvious in the way Bill Watterson's Calvin and Hobbes characters moved, and how his strips were laid out -- hell, even in his use of vegetation as a framing device. Pioneering, too, was his characters' proscenium-breaking; when Albert Alligator, lighting his see-gar, reaches out and strikes his match on the panel border, you're seeing a form so confident in its maturity that it can afford to be playful. ...

It's in the realm of language that Kelly truly shone. His daily strip was a wonderful mangrove of puns and portmanteaux, all delivered in a disarming parody of Southern speech (Kelly was himself from Bridgeport, Connecticut -- not exactly a hotbed of Southern literary tradition), and his poetry and song lyrics were so rich with utterly effortless linguistic play that it's impossible not to nominate him as America's answer to Lewis Carroll.

The tribute features several Pogo strips and other artwork. You'll find the place-name-heavy lyrics to the song "Go, Go, Pogo" -- along with a link to an MP3 of the song, sung by Walt Kelly hisself.

Hat tip to whomever reached this site with a search for this bit of Pogo poetry:

How pierceful grows the hazy yon! How myrtle petaled thou! For spring hath sprung the cyclotron, How high browse thou, brown cow?

You'll find more Pogo poetry at languagehat.com. And if you're looking for the jingle for Wummies ("They're gristle to your mill!"), look no further.

You'll find my own tribute to the Possum here.

In other whimsical news, I am pleased to announce that BatesLine is the number one Google result for "Gruntfuttock."

Today, voters in the City of Tulsa will vote on a $250 million general obligation bond issue, which will be repaid by an increase in the property tax rate amounting to an extra $30 per year for a $100,000 home. I'm voting for all six items and hope you will, too.

Union Public Schools has a runoff for one school board seat. I've been very impressed with Tom Seng, a parent of Union students who wants to see the district focus on academics. He's rightly concerned about the amount of money the district spends on bricks and mortar for non-essentials.

Tulsa Public Schools has a runoff in office 3 (north Tulsa) between Joda Trimiar and Lana Turner.

Bixby, Broken Arrow, Glenpool, and Skiatook all have City Council races on the ballot.

While Googling for Regent Preparatory School of Oklahoma, I came across a webpage about Bates Elementary School, the public school that originally occupied the building on 72nd East Avenue, north of 51st Street. The school wasn't named after Katherine Lee Bates, who wrote "America the Beautiful," or any of the Bates Stapler Bateses:

According to my mother's memory, John Bates was a boy who had died in a car accident. Shortly thereafter, his mother purchased a parcel of land which she then donated to the Tulsa Public Schools with the stipulation that a school would be erected on the land in the child's name.

As far as I know, that John Bates is not a relative of mine.

The school opened in 1973. Its predecessor was Phoebe Hearst Elementary, a collection of prefab buildings built in 1966 in the Regency Park neighborhood, on the land that is now Aaronson Park.

Last October, I gave you an anecdote illustrating how the Tulsa Metro Chamber works to throttle innovation:

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

The Chamber has followed through on its threat, creating a group called TYPROS, which is headed up by Andrea Myers, who works for (surprise, surprise) the PR firm of choice for the Cockroach Coalition, Schnake, Turnbo & Frank. The Tulsa Whirled is doing its part to promote the Chamber puppet group, most recently with a puff piece by Ken Neal in Sunday's paper.

The real, independent group, Young Professionals of Tulsa (ypTULSA) got some good press in August and mid-October of last year, but once the Chamber began to promote its bogus group, the Whirled has had a blackout on the genuine organization.

What's funding the Chamber's effort to crowd out an independent organization? City tax dollars, since this is under the umbrella of the Chamber's economic development department, which is funded by City of Tulsa hotel/motel tax. I hope the Council will keep this kind of wasteful duplication in mind when they consider whether to renew the Chamber's economic development contract for the next fiscal year. If the Chamber can't cooperate with existing groups, the Chamber doesn't need the City's money.

ypTULSA (that's the real group) has its official kickoff event this Friday, April 8, at 4 p.m. Visit their website for details and to RSVP.

After a five-month hiatus, it was nice to see The Horserace Blog pop up into the most recently updated section of the BatesLine blogroll. Jay Cost, who wrote the blog, a thorough and fascinating analysis of the presidential polls over the month leading up to Election Day 2004, announces that he is now a contributor at RedState.org. You can find an archive of his posts to date here. In his latest entry, Cost answers those who bemoan the decline of cross-party comity with examples of fierce partisanship from all the way back to 1797, when President Washington was accused of debauching America by Benjamin Franklin's grandson.

Charles G. Hill, writing about naming rights for Tulsa's new arena:

Of course, had I a spare ten million or so — the naming rights for Oklahoma City's Ford Center went for $8.1 million a few years back — I might be inclined to hang Michael Bates' name over the door, just to see the reaction from various T-Town types.

I'm honored, of course, and I'd love to see the initial reaction, too. The name, short as it is, would be a headline writer's dream -- and that's the problem. My good name would become shorthand for the place and all its problems, and since those headlines would be appearing in the Tulsa Whirled, they might make a special effort to exploit the ambiguity between the arena and its namesake. "Feds Arrest Bates" could be used for a story about how the acquisition of Federal properties on the site is holding up construction. "Bates Just an Empty Shell" could be printed after the walls come up. "Bates Blows Hole in City Budget" would be reserved for when the annual operating deficits begin to live up to predictions.

Charles's headline suggestion, "House of Funk," has many more fun headline possibilities, and has the added advantage of not requiring Charles to come up with ten million bucks.

John Paul II, RIP


It's late, and I will save my own thoughts for another time.

Don Singleton has a comprehensive biographical sketch of John Paul II, along with details of the process to select his successor, and links to reactions in the mainstream media and the blogosphere. (I was remiss in not adding Don, a fellow Tulsan, to my blogroll sooner -- that's now been fixed.)

Joe Carter of the Evangelical Outpost gives some reasons for admiring this Pope -- he stood on the right side of history against Communism, he stood for truth against relativism, and he stood for life against the culture of death. He praises John Paul II for being a leader of the "catholic church" -- with a small "c" -- for his influence extended beyond the Church of Rome:

He was a true Christian leader – Any Pope can lead the Catholic Church. It is, after all, what the job is all about. But it takes a special person to lead the “catholic church”. While my old fundie pastor would surely disagree, I believe John Paul has been an example for all Christians, regardless of denomination. American evangelicals are particularly indebted to him. Before John Paul our concern for our neighbors was almost exclusively missional and focused on making converts. Now, evangelicals are not just concerned with sending out missionaries but with being salt and light to a troubled world. John Paul deserves some of the credit for that shift. The Pope has reminded us that the church is not defined by any one nation and that there are no borders within the body of Christ.

Finally, Carter praises John Paul for remaining active, traveling and ministering, even as his health declined: "Though his words often failed him in the end, he continued to preach using his frail body as the sermon."

Sad but funny: Ed Morrissey has a screen grab of the initial posting of the New York Times story on the Pope's death. In the midst of quotes from critics of the Pope, there's this placeholder: "need some quote from supporter." What ultimately filled that space was scarcely an improvement over that placeholder, as you can see in Captain Ed's story.

GO Bonds, GO

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I've said this on the radio, but I don't know if I've posted it here yet. I'm supporting the City of Tulsa General Obligation Bond Issues that are on the ballot this coming Tuesday. I've even got "YES" signs in my front yard. You can find details of the projects that the bond will pay for here.

Yes, I know it means city property taxes will go up, but they've been going down the last few years, and they won't return to their previous peak. The extra cost is about $30 a year on a $100,000 home. The City of Tulsa has a backlog of $4 billion in capital improvements needs -- sewer and water line replacement and extension, arterial street widening, residential street rebuilding, along with improvements and replacements for city-owned buildings. Through the third-penny sales tax and these GO bond issues, we're just keeping pace as the needs continue to pile on. We're still building out the infrastructure for land the city annexed in 1966, and at the same time, we've got to replace infrastructure in the older parts of the city. We really should have voted on this a year and a half ago, but it was delayed to make way for Vision 2025. While I would have preferred many of the Vision projects to go to the back of the funding line behind more critical infrastructure needs, that didn't happen, and the infrastructure needs are still there.

There has been some talk about defeating the GO bond to send a message to City Hall. If that happened, it would send the wrong message. The Cockroach Caucus would argue that the failure of the GO bond was the fault of Mautino and Medlock and their allies, and the defeat would be used as ammunition in the campaign for their recall as well as in next year's election. There's been scuttlebutt that at least one branch of the Cockroach Caucus would like to see the bond defeated to damage Bill LaFortune and soften him for defeat by their handpicked replacement. The time to send a message to City Hall is on May 10, when the replacement for District 5 City Councilor Sam Roop is elected -- we need to make sure we get someone in that district who wlil keep the Reform Alliance in the majority.

(In the interest of full disclosure, it turns out that my street will be rebuilt if one of the GO bond questions passes, but I'd already decided to support the bond issue before I knew that, and I'm voting for the items that have nothing to do with me.)

Polls apart

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Earlier this week, in three installments, the Tulsa Whirled and KOTV released the results of a poll of 500 likely voters about Tuesday's bond issue, satisfaction with the progress of Vision 2025, and the popularity of the Mayor, the City Council as a body, and each individual councilor. The poll showed the bond issues passing, a majority satisfied with progress on Vision 2025, the Mayor with a 60% approval rating, and the Council with a 34% approval rating. On the individual councilors the undecideds were around 50% on each. The decided voters broke 50-50 for and against Chris Medlock, Jim Mautino, and Roscoe Turner; the other councilors had a majority approving. The poll has a margin of error of +/-4%.

The supplied answers to one of the questions about the Council were just bizarre:

We wanted to know if voters think the current conflict among members of city council is helping or hurting the city. When asked if the conflict is helping or hurting the city's growth and development, 60 percent say the conflict is hurting the city by preventing important growth and development. 22 percent say the conflict helps the city by raising questions about the city's growth and development. 9 percent say it's just business as usual. Another 9 percent had no opinion.

It would make sense to ask the "helping/hurting" question without qualification, but adding the reasons is more typical of a "push poll," in which the poll is really a vehicle for delivering a partisan message to the voter. What answer would you give to that question if you feel that the conflict is helping the city by exposing long-hidden problems in city government? Interesting, too, is that they didn't give the voter a chance to say which side he blamed for the conflict.

It's possible that this is the one poll in twenty that is outside the margin of error -- the odds are 19-1 against drawing such an unrepresentative sample. How the pollster qualified likely voters is another factor that can affect the result of a poll. Did they simply ask the respondent, "Are you likely to vote?" Pollster Ed Goeas has said that older voters tend to underestimate their likelihood of turning up at the polls, while younger voters tend to overestimate. A more sophisticated approach uses a voter's actual history of showing up at the polls, as recorded in the state's voter database. If the sample of voters for this poll was drawn from the general voting population, I would expect different results if the sample were taken from those who regularly vote in municipal elections.

That said, I'm not surprised by the results. Although I would have been happy to know that most voters in the city agree with me, the reality is that most people aren't paying close attention, and they will tend to have a positive view of local officials unless they're given some specific reason to believe otherwise. Many people still depend on the Whirled for their understanding of local events, and Councilors Mautino, Medlock, and Turner have been hammered in the news pages and on the editorial pages since they took office. It is surprising that Vision 2025 only has a bare majority of support, lower than its margin of victory in 2003.

A Schiavo parallel


Mark Steyn writes in the Spectator (free registration required) about a case from California in the 1990s which was very similar to Terri Schiavo's case:

[Robert Wendland] was injured in an automobile accident in 1993 and went into a coma. Under state law, he could have been starved to death at any time had his wife requested the removal of his feeding tube. But Rose Wendland was busy with this and that, as one is, and assumed there was no particular urgency.

Then one day, a year later, Robert woke up. He wasn’t exactly his old self, but he could catch and throw a ball and wheel his chair up and down the hospital corridors, and both activities gave him pleasure. Nevertheless Mrs Wendland decided that she now wished to exercise her right to have him dehydrated to death. Her justification was that, while the actual living Robert — the Robert of the mid-1990s — might enjoy a simple life of ball-catching and chair-rolling, the old Robert — the pre-1993 Robert — would have considered it a crashing bore and would have wanted no part of it.

She nearly got her way. But someone at the hospital tipped off Mr Wendland’s mother and set off a protracted legal struggle in which — despite all the obstacles the California system could throw in her path — the elderly Florence Wendland was eventually successful in preventing her son being put down.

You can find more about Robert Wendland's case here.

Steyn says there's a large portion of the populace who just don't want to think about situations like this and comfort themselves that the Schiavo case is nothing special -- tragic, yes, but it happens every day. They take some comfort in the media assurances that all the legal processes were followed. He equates it to a child sticking his fingers in his ears and singing "la-la-la, I can't hear you."

Michelle Malkin called Steyn's column, "hands down, the best piece written on the case. Ever." I'd agree, for this next paragraph alone, especially the last sentence (emphasis added):

One consequence of abortion is that, in designating new life as a matter of ‘choice’, it created a culture where it’s now routine to make judgments about which lives are worth it and which aren’t. Down’s Syndrome? Abort. Cleft palate? Abort. Chinese girl? Abort. It’s foolish to think you can raise entire populations — not to mention generations of doctors — to make self-interested judgments about who lives and who doesn’t and expect them to remain confined to three trimesters. The ‘right to choose’ is now being extended beyond the womb: the step from convenience euthanasia to compulsory euthanasia is a short one. Until a year or two back, I spent a lot of my summer Saturdays manning the historical society booth at the flea markets on the town common, and I passed many a pleasant quarter-hour or so chit-chatting with elderly ladies leading some now middle-aged simpleton child around. Both parties seemed to enjoy the occasion. The child is no doubt a ‘burden’: he was born because he just was; there was no ‘choice’ about it in those days. Having done away with those kinds of ‘burdens’ at birth, we’re less inclined to tolerate them when they strike in adulthood, as they did in Terri Schiavo’s case.

Elsewhere, Don Danz looks at the legal issues surrounding "what Terri would have wanted":

One of the primary problems in discussing Terri's case is that many people simply have the issues confused which, not surprisingly, results in inappropriate conclusions. I've heard and read a hundred times, "Well, I wouldn't want to live that way." People who express this are stating a personal fact that is wholly irrelevant to Terri's situation. It's best to just walk away as logical discussion is not likely to follow. The primary issue is what did Terri want and what should be done when there is no objective evidence of her desires?

There was no written evidence of what Terri wanted to be done in her situation or in any similar situation. Five people testified as to Terri's verbally expressed desires: Terri's mom and one of Terri's friends who said she would want to live and Michael, Michael's brother and Michael's sister-in-law who said she wouldn't want to keep on living. Some people find her mother and friend more credible, while other people are more inclined to believe Michael's brother and sister-in-law. Personally, I think it's a wash between the four of them, which leaves us with Michael. ...

Now for just a little legalese. The standard which the courts must determine whether Terri expressed her desire to have her feeding tube removed is by "clear and convincing" evidence. This is the highest burden in a civil case. It means that, even if everyone agreed that it was more probable than not that Terri would want her feeding tube pulled, the court still could not order removal. Only if the evidence was clear and convincing that such were her express wishes, would it be proper to allow her to die in that manner.

It is my contention and that of many conservatives that under the clear and convincing standard, looking at the case as a whole, and being cognizant of the very narrow primary issue, there is insufficient evidence to support the pulling of Terri's feeding tube and allowing her to die.

Dan says he's not finished with this entry, so we'll check back.

The Penitent Blogger is annoyed with a Fox News interview about the autopsy, and the claim that it will be able to determine whether Terri could have recovered:

Of course, what was NOT discussed during these interviews was whether discontinuation of all rehabilitative therapy at the insistence of Michael Schiavo, would have contributed to Terri's state debilitating to the point where recovery would have, in time, become impossible.

Why, in the minds of the judiciary, the doctors and much of the public, was it more desirable to deny Terri adequate care, let her die, perform an autopsy and then state, "oh well, she was too far gone; she would have never recovered?" Why was is not more desirable to let Terri live a bit longer, perform full neurological testing, resume the therapy she should have had throughout these many years, and come to more definitive conclusions at a later time? Why jump headfirst off the bridge of death rather than stretch out the safety net of life?

Robert Williams of Dead Man Blogging has some powerfully provocative posts in the aftermath of Terri Schiavo's death. He asks whether it is a worldview-shaking event for Christians, as 9/11 was for the nation:

When those towers fell, we saw the world differently. Maybe I’m overreacting, but when Terri Schiavo died of thirst, I saw the world differently.
  • I see a nation that recognizes no higher authority than “we the people” and the laws we make.
  • I see an executive and legislature dominated by the judiciary.
  • I see a Republican party unable or unwilling to act effectively. Janet Reno was willing to defy the courts and seize Elian Gonzales to send him back to a communist state, but nobody was willing to defy Judge Greer and save Terri Schiavo. I see that the lesser of two evils is still not good. I see that I didn’t even get half a loaf. I see that I voted to win, but still lost.
  • I see a fallen, godless culture. I see a culture that doesn’t need to be engaged or transformed. It needs to be supplanted, replaced, defeated, destroyed.

What do you see?

In an earlier post, he asks some questions about the relationship between church and state which deserve every Christian's consideration.

Karol Sheinin asks whether, given the state of marriage in this country, it's reasonable to give a spouse full control over an incapacitated person's fate:

A good friend of mine recently married a friend to let him stay in the country. They had an engagement party. They got married, didn't tell her family, and then went home to their respective apartments. If something would happen to her, this man would have control over her fate.

A friend's sister got married. She had work to tie up at her job and her husband went ahead to Europe where they would meet to honeymoon. On the flight over, he met a woman for whom, a year later, he would leave his wife. ...

Call me unromantic. Tell me I don't know. But the truth is, marriage is in crisis. It's time to reconsider whether a spouse, with a 50% chance of being an ex-spouse, should have the level of control that they currently do. I vote 'no'.

Finally: As usual, Charles G. Hill speaks volumes with a single sentence.

F&M Bank and Trust Corporation has filed a petition for a writ of mandamus in District Court to force the City of Tulsa to approve the final plat on their 71st & Harvard development. While all eight sitting Tulsa City Councilors are named as defendants, the bank is only seeking monetary damages from the five Tulsa City Councilors (Christiansen, Henderson, Mautino, Medlock, and Turner) who initially voted to deny the plat. You can read a the petition (500 K PDF file) here. While a councilor would ordinarily be immune from legal action pertaining to a vote he cast, F&M is arguing that approving a plat is a ministerial action, not discretionary or legislative, and therefore legislative immunity does not apply.

Hymn to God the Whatever


John Hinderaker of Power Line links to a blog about Lutheran liturgy and hymnody. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), the largest and most liberal of the Lutheran denominations, has a proposed new hymnal and service book called Renewing Worship, and the authors of www.worshiphymn.org are documenting the "improvements" contained in the new hymnal, such as the unnecessary rewriting of Joachim Neander's "Praise to the Lord, the Almighty."

But the highlight is the most recent entry, a parody by Gracia Grindal of the worst in modern mainline liberal hymns, "Hymn to God the Whatever." Here's the stirring second stanza:

You are like a weaving grandma,
Or a father making rugs,
Like a farmer on her tractor
Trying not to kill her bugs.
We create you when we name you
You appear at our command.
Aren't you glad that we still want you
Here to take us by the hand?

I can just imagine Garrison Keillor singing the final verse with gusto:

We will work for peace and justice,
We are not Republicans.
We believe in Marx and Engels
Not the brotherhood of man.
It is foolish to do mercy
Without handling the root cause.
We will work to feed the hungry
By the passing of new laws

The rest of the blog has thoughts on liturgy and worship and the Church Year that would be thought-provoking for a Christian of any denomination. I was interested to learn that Martin Luther published two worship services only with the greatest reluctance, concerned that congregations would regard it as binding:

He concluded his preface to the German Mass: "In short, this or any other order shall be so used that whenever it becomes an abuse, it shall be straightway abolished and replaced by another, even as King Hezekiah put away and destroyed the brazen serpent, though God himself had commanded it be made, because the children of Israel made an abuse of it (II Kings 18:4). Lutheran worship should be free."

Then there's this profound observation about liturgy:

Liturgy is meant to be transparent, like the glass in your household windows. You don't look AT the glass, but THRU it to the outside world. Because the PURPOSE of glass is to let the outside world IN: not to call attention to itself.

Likewise the purpose of liturgy is to present you to His Majesty, the King, so that you may see Him, hear Him, know Him: give Him thanks and praise. If the worship service does not do this to some degree, it is not helpful, or worshipful, but simply becomes something "we do in church" to please God. Even ancient liturgies (loved by liturgists) can become a museum of ancient artifacts no longer efficacious in worship today.

Prayers and best wishes go to these Lutherans who are working for worship that honors God.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from April 2005 listed from newest to oldest.

March 2005 is the previous archive.

May 2005 is the next archive.

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