Can't trust the Whirled

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Over on the Homeowners for Fair Zoning blog, HFFZ counsel John S. Denney has posted an excellent analysis of the way the Whirled does its dirty work. Included in the piece is a response to Whirled editorial board member David Averill's Sunday op-ed calling for at-large councilors as a way to ensure that future councils are firmly under the thumb of the Cockroach Caucus.

Here's one excerpt from Denney's article:

Cynical efforts to bait the reform Councilors into responding to attacks upon them eventually led to an atmosphere of hostility in Council meetings. Unlike the World, a real newspaper would have told the truth about the situation, instead of heaping scorn on the reformers and attempting to discredit their efforts. Some very intelligent people in Tulsa are being gulled by these tactics into believing that honest and hardworking Councilors like Jim Mautino and Chris Medlock are disruptive and uncivil. These men have both civility and integrity which would be the envy of most of us. When faced with personal conflicts of interest on the Council created by baseless lawsuits aimed at compromising their votes, they have properly removed themselves from participation in related Council actions. Not so with Councilors like Bill Christiansen who folded like a cheap tent under a lawsuit filed by F & M Bank.

Many of the attacks upon reform Councilors at Council meetings are carefully scripted by opposing Council members and those seeking to paint them in an unflattering light. Their responses, no matter how civil, are then treated in the newspaper the next day as hostile and self-serving remarks without giving the true picture of the Council exchanges.

And when the Whirled talks of civility, this is what they mean:

The type of Council civility the Whirled, new District 5 Councilor Martinson and the Chamber advocate is the silencing of legitimate dissent and genuine efforts at reform. You, like many, may consider powerful and ruthless leaders of our community to be necessary evils in the quest for an economic turnaround for Tulsa. This assumes the trickle down theory of economics applies in a situation where the hand on the tap also controls the direction the water flows. How many large companies will be happy moving to a community where the government is controlled by a few powerful men and a newspaper unworthy of the name? The best way to promote Tulsa is to drop your subscription to this newspaper and to find one worthy of your support.

Go read the whole thing.


Warren said:

Denney says of the "Reform" wing's relationship to the World, "As a reward for their efforts, these Councilors were pictured as foolish monkeys and torturors."

"Torturors?" Strange charge.

He also says "Bill Christiansen who folded like a cheap tent under a lawsuit filed by F & M Bank."

The "Reformers" were probably grateful he did (if silently,) since the four were personally on the hook for their poor judgment in ignoring Jackere's legal opinion.

Then Mautino had the gall to later complain about that correct legal advice. Is Jackere supposed to be responsible for Mautino's screw-up?

Anon said:

Jackere's legal advice cannot be trusted. He's in bed with the Cockroach Caucus, F&M Bank, Tulsa Whirled and the Mayor to sabatoge any reform.

Jackere must go.

Warren said:

Anon, you don't explain why Jackere isn't to be trusted, but his advice to Mautino proved correct. Wouldn't you say that Mautino is a cry-baby for complaining after the fact about ACCURATE advice?

And seriously, what reform have the "Reformers" articulated beyond handing power over to them? The water issue? Even THEY changed their minds once they (finally) became informed.

I'll tell you what I don't want. That is for a small bunch of fanatics to get control of our city. I think that faction hopes to use M&M as a wedge to get control. Heaven help us if they succeed. It's up to us voters to stop them.

John S. Denney said:

Apparently Mr. Warren didn't see or doesn't remember the Whirled's editorial page cartoon showing a hooded figure resembling Councilor Roop and representing the reform members of the Council getting ready to torture one of the Council's "victims" who was hanging from the ceiling. The Whirled's editorials played up the idea that asking questions of nominees for authorities, boards and commissions was the equivalent of a grand inquisition. The process of interviewing the nominees was done in a reasonable manner.

Mr. Warren stated that City Attorney Jackere's advice has proven correct. That is hardly the case. His advice has simply gone unchallenged in Court because he has the financial resouces of the City backing his legal fees and his opponents don't. Mr. Mautino is currently seeking reimbursement as a prevailing party in the lawsuit F & M Bank brought. Nothing Mr. Jackere advised was proven right in this lawsuit. The only thing that was proven was that a powerful and well-funded institution like F & M Bank can file a personal suit against a Councilor who, without funds or a defense from the City of Tulsa, is unable to personally carry the expense of funding litigation to defend both himself and the majority on the City Council's position. The misuse of City funds and the power of the City Attorney's office in failing to defend the position taken by a majority of the Council is a shameful chapter in our City's history. Were it not for the Whirled covering the whole thing up by keeping the public ignorant of the law and facts, the Mayor and City Attorney would be exposed for what they are doing. Mr. Lorton, the newspaper's publisher, is the immediate past Chairman of the Board of F & M Bank.

Anon said:

Jackere's legal advice can be summed up here:

Read the last comment.

Warren said:

So the "torturer" reference was to a political cartoon. I missed that one.

Your conception of the duty of the City Attorney is for him to give his own opinion, then take a head count, and unconditionally throw his legal weight and the city's finances behind the majority, however ill-conceived their position might be?

What I believe I hear you saying on your site is that Jackere is taking advantage of the latitude of judgment he has as CA to leave the Medlock group out in the cold, to the advantage of the mayor and the newspaper and its interests. Is this a fair restatement?

Frankly, after M&M's fiasco with the water board, I think anyone would be cautious about throwing his weight behind them, legal considerations completely aside. They came off then as ill-informed and reckless, as they appeared to be in the F&M case as well.

I did read the last comment, by Anon on 5-1-05, which "cleverly" defined 'Jack-ere' as Unsuccessful Masterbation (sic). I hope you were referring to the sentence predicting a federal grand jury.

Anon said:

>> M&M's fiasco with the water board

The only 'fiasco' was exposing the strongarm techniques being used in our city to assure continued self-serving interests remain in power.

Now the Jack-ere has quickly pushed through 40 year contracts with little to no evaluation by constituants. Seems somewhere along the line, Tulsans should be asked if they wished to sell their water out from under themselves.

The facilities being exploited in this manner were funded by them in the first place, only with the promise of no future shortages. So, tell me, when water gets short, is the City now required to fulfill contracts first? Since Tulsans have no real contract to receive water, it potentially leaves us on the short end even though we paid for capacity designed just to assure we would not, and which is now being sold off. This produces a revenue model very different than what was ostensibly passed as a bond issue by voters.

I'd even go so far to question the ability of any official (especially un-elected ones) being able to encumber our city resources for 40 years at all without a vote. The implications go way beyond their potential term in office, or life in many cases.

Personally, I feel that if it were contested in court (a real court, not the local juris-preservists), it would be overturned.

Such is many of Jackeres' ominous legal advice.

Warren said:

Anon, the dreaded Tulsa World reported that on 10-13-2004, a water rate expert told the councilors that Tulsa should sell as much water as possible to outside customers. Medlock was quoted as saying then of the rate modeling, "I'm not convinced I know what I'm talking about, but I think I do"

The following day the council voted unanimously to go ahead with the water deal.

If this is not an accurate account, please correct it.

But if Medlock, Mautino and the rest did indeed change their vote as reported, then they either didn't understand the water situation until that time, or they rolled over due to pressure, which didn't involve a lawsuit in this instance. Neither explanation covers the Medlock group with any glory.

How do you explain it?

Anon said:

It was an Arena 'expert' who told us we needed an arena, too.

Now, we see things like this:

"As Tulsa Builds, conventions decline"

Which was not just known prior, but actively withheld during discourse.

Consultants seek the conclusion which best statifies their client, especially around here.

Somehow, 'grassroots' level support for M&M recall has been repeatedly reported by the Whirled when no such support exists. The only thing the Whirled believes is that people might believe if they hear it enough. And, the only thing they know for sure is where their own interests lie. Everything else is cause/effect.

Public Works has built a water empire on the backs of taxpayers and convoluted it into a profit center. Even IF all the revenues goes back into the system, such an effort should have been presented to voters for authorization. They perhaps may have even authorized it. But, the methods employed to achieve it are what's wrong here, not necessarily the result. IAC, it should remain a choice of those paying the bills.

Things of this nature go way beyond operations and management of public facilites and dive deeply into concepts regarding the type of city we want for ourselves.

Such is the same for 40-year contracts.

If not, why are we not busily writing 40-year contracts for all services (with built-in rate factors, of course) such that half the current structure of our local government could be obsoleted. Let's start with TPS and see how it goes.

Warren said:

Point taken on the motives of consultants, but still, why did Medlock's group vote for the water plan after spending so much time fighting it? If they knew it was a bad deal, why cave in at that point? No lawsuits were threatened.

Anon said:

I recall them fighting the reappointments of two Metropolitan Utility Authority Board members. Two who remain part of the problem and who promoted Tulsans selling off their water. Not the plan iteself, which, as I said, voters may agree with conceptually, but were never given an option.

There are additional reasons for the plan approval as a stand-alone item. What M&M are trying to reform are methods. And, to at least have our leaders define and follow concepts endorsed by those paying the bills. You know, a republic.

Warren said:

If the reform of methods is their goal, they need to articulate it and demonstrate it a lot better.

Their approach to the water deal, the water board appointments, the airport probe, the property buyouts for 2025, and the F&M case looks like scattershot naysaying rather than a systematic questioning of methods.

Anon said:

As for style, perhaps things could've been done differently (not necessarily better/worse). At no time have I been witness to any uncivilized behavior by these two. Can't say the same for the rest of the Council, the Whirled or the recall ghosts.

For the most part, questions were asked to which those currently in power did not have good answers.

It's from that which sprang all the attacks.
When the only information getting out to the public is clearly from the opposing side, information gets lost and their message is muted.

IOW, there's others at fault for their message not being clear. It is quite clear to me.

Warren said:

Medlock has his own blog. If he had a coherent philosophy behind his actions, I would expect to find it there. Danged if I can.

What I do see is reactive sniping at "Whirled" writers, Jackere, etc.

If I'm missing his exposition of a "reform of methods," please point it out to me. But there is no excuse for his message getting lost or muted on his own blog.

Anon said:

On that point, I would have to agree. One would have had to follow all the goings on over time to understand or make sense from the Blog, at least in a wholistic way.

I'm sure Mr. Medlock has had his hands full lately. But, upgrading his blog to include a Mission Statement of some sort would surely be beneficial.

Hardly a recall offense.

In the beinging, his only means to affect change has been his ability to question. When it irritated those who don't want questions asked, the situation has been turned such that he has had to remain pretty much on the defensive with little left for promotion of an ideal. He has stated it verbally in interviews and such, but it gets so little coverage it almost doesn't exist.

As it is, I personally do not rely on a single source of information for my knowledge. I can recommend the same for others.

If one had been following all this, the situation is quite clear, regardless of how one feels about M or M personally. You don't even need to necessarily agree with their politics to understand the enormous problem there is at City Hall. That problem is bigger than both of them.

They have simply been chosen the targets of distraction for those who wish this to all go away. It won't. It can only get worse from here.

They don't see that the goose may not yet be cooked, but it's being plucked.

There will be gnashing of teeth before it's over, and everyone will have had enough. Not pleasant. But, when it does end, things will be much better.

Warren said:

I have no objection in principle to shaking things up. But if you intend to do it, you need to go about it purposefully and be better informed than the next guy. I haven't seen this at all from Medlock and his group.

I think the best recall method is the election. It wasn't right for California to use recall on their governor, and it was ill-advised to use it in Tulsa. I can see why it was considered though.

Anon said:

O.K, I'll bite, what was it you saw which needed to be considered?

It isn't a matter of intent, or required, to 'shake things up'. The level of distress is all being created by counter forces.

It all started when Medlock and four other Councilors (at the time) determind one source of our current water policy were the philosophies of the Authority and its members who were acting pretty much on their own. To effect change, these councilors expressed the desire to promot a change in philosophy by suggesting a change in leadership there. It's not like those two guys were the only men/women capable of the work in a city the size of Tulsa. Nor was it related to any personal animosity (unless you read the Whirlds' version) or disrespect for those particular personalities. They did, however, attempt to suggest replacements with a different outlook on affaris. Not better/worse, different, one which they believe would better represent their constituents. It's not like they beat a drum and rounded the troops. They voted, not to reappoint these two to their prior positions.

Only after Roop made his deal with the Mayor did the vote shift, allowing them to continue their water policies unfettered. Two problems solved, the desired appointments were completed and the Council majority, 'Gang of Five' (Whirlds' friendly term), was broken.

All they need now is a true council majority with Roops' replacement, and, if that doesn't work, the recall of one, the other, or both other councilors who once were part of the recent majority (voted in by Tulsans).

So, we have a fake recall, constituted on baseless charges, by people not associated with their districts (and, in some cases, not even associated with Tulsa) whos only concern is the makeup of the council. Citizens of Tulsa be damned.

In short, its nothing less than subversion of our elections.

So, to those who think the current effort to recall the Cockroach Caucus and the Mayor is baseless retribution, they should reconsider how serious the subversion has been. If it's as bad as I claim, then simply being thrown out of office would be considered light penalty for their actions. They should be driven out on a rail, _after_ the tar and feathering.

Anon said:

BTW, just thought I'd mention that my opinions on the current recall are independent of the M&M issues. They really do not cojoin. One just happened to cause the other to manifest itself.

In fact, I'd have to agree that the 'reform' group isn't well organized. And, I'm not necessarily in favor of what may be perceived as an attempt to transition to them. It's not. It would be an attempt to transition to concepts they do support, however. IOW, I'm not a Medlock groupie. But, do believe in representative government. That's something we currently do not have.

The subversion issue is wholly independent and shall reap its own rewards.

Warren said:

Interesting by omission: very little by the author of this blog on the retaliatory recall of the mayor and four councilors. Might that mean he is hip-deep in it?

Mike said:

Try this one on for size, Warren:

Chris Medlock, chief target of the first recall, has come out and publicly OPPOSED the recall of LaFortune and the "bought and paid four". Quite different than the stony silence that came from Sullivan, Christiansen, Baker and Neal vis a vie the Medlock and Mautino recall.

Warren said:

High principle or good tactic on Medlock's part?

The tone of his blog doesn't suggest a statesmanly remove from petty infighting, but opposing the mass recall gives him the air of nobility in the face of injustice. I'd bet on tactic. Supporting the recall could only hurt him.

Anon said:

The entire situation has devolved into tactical events due to the nature of our political process. So long as the tactics are founded on principles, that's not a problem. That's the way our system is supposed to work.

Unfortunately, the problems are so engrained throughout the system that it's already become almost an insurmountable obstacle which threads through government, judicial departments, Authorities and Commissions, as well as several civil organizations (THE Chamber, THE Builders' Association, including Realtors) such that actual control has been usurped.

Control of the City Council (the NEW 'Gang of Five') has recently been completed, in spite of voters prior wishes. The M&M recall now becomes icing on the cake, but mostly, a hammerblow to any who contest 'the way we do things around here'.

So, what we are left with is only what they are willing to provide us.

So much for representative government.

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