July 2005 Archives

Build PAC Issues, which was the single biggest contributor to the Coalition for Responsible Government 2005, the group behind the recall of Tulsa City Councilors Jim Mautino and Chris Medlock, submitted its quarterly report to the City Clerk's office on Friday, July 29. We already knew that Robert E. Lorton, Jr., chairman and CEO of World Publishing Co., which owns the Tulsa Whirled, contributed $2,500. Word got out about that prior to the election and Lorton owned up to it.

As previously noted, Build PAC Issues appears to have been created as a way to exploit a loophole in the state's campaign ethics law for local government elections so that major donors could give without being exposed prior to the election. Who was trying to escape notice as a contributor?

Chris Medlock has a chart on his website noting some interesting connections among the donors to Build PAC Issues. (NOTE: The chart is done in Microsoft OneNote, which generates some standards-breaking, Microsoft-specific markup language, so you'll have to use Internet Explorer to see it clearly.)

You'll notice Kelsey Company as one of the $500 donors. Howard Kelsey is one of the partners in Infrastructure Ventures Inc., the company trying to build the Bixby toll bridge.

One of the $2,500 donors was C.R.E.A.T. That's the Commercial Real Estate Association of Tulsa, which was incorporated 10 years ago by Herb Haschke, treasurer of CfRG, and Lou Reynolds, the developer's attorney whose reappointment to the Tulsa Metropolitan Utility Authority last year was opposed by Medlock and Mautino, as well as Councilors Roscoe Turner and Jack Henderson. (By then-Councilor Sam Roop, too, for a time.)

Interesting to see homebuilder Ken Klein's name on the list. Klein built Bobby Lorton III's mansion across the street from Philbrook and renovated Councilor Susan Neal's house. Just before the 2002 city council primary for the open seat in District 9, Klein sent a last-minute e-mail falsely accusing candidate and neighborhood leader Bonnie Henke of being anti-growth and anti-development. Susan Neal went on to win that primary by a slender margin and with less than 40% of the vote. Klein, however, is reported to be claiming that he never intended to donate to Build PAC Issues, but instead intended to contribute to the candidate PAC as he does each year.

We're still trying to dig up info on more of these individual and corporate donors, but here's one more of interest: John Conine contributed $2,000. Conine joined the board of F&M Bank back in 2002. Board members of F&M, you'll recall, were major financial players in the 2004 city council elections.

Someone figured out that you need a majority of a trust's board to approve a contract, not just a majority of the quorum, so the 2-0 vote to award $7.8 million more dollars to Cinnabar for the airport's noise abatement program at a suddenly-convened meeting of the Tulsa Airport Improvements Trust wasn't valid. The revote was at TAIT's regular meeting on Friday, and this time four of the five members were present, along with city COO Allen LaCroix, this time authorized to vote as Mayor Bill LaFortune's designee. This time to a motion to approve the Cinnabar extension died for lack of a second.

According to a story in the Tulsa Whirled, Mayor LaFortune reversed his position from supporting the contract renewal to opposing it in less than 24 hours. Say what you will about Bill LaFortune, he knows which way the wind blows, and since the spectacular failure of the effort to recall City Councilors Chris Medlock and Jim Mautino, he knows that the days of cosy deals for politically-connected companies are over.

The Whirled has a precious quote from Cinnabar Service Company president Bill Bacon, who also happens to head up Infrastructure Ventures Inc. (IVI), the company planning to build the Bixby toll bridge. Bacon said, "I'm confused by the mayor's continual change of position on issues concerning the city," Bacon said. "A true leader takes a position and sticks to it no matter how rough the going may get." When a company structures itself on getting special treatment for government contracts, it has to hurt when the government starts pursuing the best interests of the taxpayers.

It's interesting that the Whirled chose to place this story in the business section, since this really isn't a story about the free market. It's a story about a government trust board making a decision about a government contract. It's also interesting that the Whirled chose not to place Bacon's comment in context by mentioning his and Bob Parmele's positions in IVI and the Mayor's reversal on the bridge.

Mad Okie comments on the decision, and his entry has a comment from D. Schuttler, who has thoroughly documented the problems with Cinnabar's administration of the noise abatement contract.

The state of things


Sorry to those of you who had to wait all day to see your comments posted. I was away from the computer most of the day, and so approval had to wait until very late last night.

Welcome to those of you who've found this site for ths first time through the profile in this week's Urban Tulsa Weekly. Wish I had more new content for you today, but once again, I'll be away from the computer most of the day. Feel free to browse. On the right-hand side of the page you'll find links to BatesLine's monthly archives, going back to the inception of the site. You'll also find a list of Tulsa and Oklahoma links, including several other bloggers who write about local news, among other things.

...but not here!

You know the "What Everyone Should Know" series of booklets with the handwriting-like fonts and the artwork that looks like it came from Good News for Modern Man? There's one of those for bloggers.

"What Everyone Should Know about Blog Depression" -- a helpful booklet helpfully linked by the ever-helpful Dawn Summers. (Who has been blogrolled -- even if she is a lefty, she spins a good yarn, like this account of the wake of a woman who was not exactly her aunt.)

I couldn't believe my ears when I heard this on the radio. Sen. Bill Frist, once considered a contender for the 2008 presidential nomination, pretty much killed his chances by stating that he believes that parents should have the option of destroying their unborn children if it's for a good cause.

Specifically, Frist now favors federal funding for stem cell research involving the destruction of human embryos. He insists, however that the "parents" should make the choice. Um, if they're parents then doesn't that make what they're destroying a .... y'know?

Joel Helbling has details and analysis worth reading.

Not so Safeway

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The Safeway/Homeland/ALPS store on the southwest corner of 15th and Lewis has been reduced to a pile of rubble. Redevelopment of that site was tricky -- the lot has two different zones, and the line between the two went right through the middle of the building. It was a strange site design, putting the store in the middle, facing Lewis, with two parking lots, one to the north and one to the south. I guess the lot wasn't wide enough east to west to be able to place the store facing north.

I haven't heard what, if anything, is slated to be built in its place. Whatever it is, it needs to be confined to the existing footprint, without expansion into the neighboring residential area, the Gillette Historic District, which has Historic Preservation (HP) overlay zoning. The quarter-section between 15th and 21st, Utica and Lewis, is already hard-pressed by the expansion of St. John Medical Center.

It would be nice to see a pedestrian-friendly commercial development
take that spot -- a site plan that helps to define that corner by putting the building close to the street, and that provides good, walkable connections to the adjoining neighborhood. A developer might produce such a plan on his own. Even if you don't care for the building on the southwest corner of 21st & Utica, or the Stillwater National Bank building, or the new Arvest Bank building, you have to acknowledge that the developers took a more urban approach to the placement of the buildings than has been typical. It would be better, though, if we made urban, pedestrian-friendly site plans the standard in midtown, as Oklahoma City has done with its older commercial districts. Just as HP zoning protects the investments of homeowners who restore historic homes, an urban conservation district can protect the investments of commercial property owners who try to preserve the urban feel of an older commercial district.

KRMG's new guy

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The replacement as KRMG's morning host is a relatively young guy named Joe Kelley, who was most recently at WBAP in Fort Worth. He has his own website, and his own Movable Type-based blog, The Sake of Argument, which started back in May 2003. (Up until the last couple of months, he seems to have posted pretty frequently.) His blogroll is a pretty good assortment of the top right-leaning bloggers. I've only started to glance through the blog archives, but it doesn't appear that he dealt with local DFW issues much.

He appears to be a conservative, but the more interesting question is where he'll wind up on local issues, about which he is not likely to know much. No doubt the Cockroach Caucus will wine and dine him, but I feel sure that a blogging conservative talk show host will be able to see through their self-serving rhetoric.

Although I'm proud to be a weekly fixture on the Michael DelGiorno show on 1170 KFAQ, nevertheless, as a Tulsan, I'd like to welcome Mr. Kelley to town. If I can be of service in helping him puzzle through local politics, I'd be happy to help.

Wouldn't it be nice to have morning talk show hosts on two different stations shining the light of truth on City Hall and the County Courthouse?

Today, I'm told, was John Erling's long-overdue final broadcast on KRMG radio. I haven't listened to his show in years, and once I got out of the habit of listening to Erling in the morning, I rarely bothered to tune in the rest of the day. We would have abandoned KRMG as morning listening many years before, but my wife needed someone saying the time at regular intervals to help her pace getting ready for work.

I grew up listening to KRMG -- Fred Campbell, then Watson Jelks, then Erling in the morning, Jerry Vaughn in the afternoons (later, Commander Ken Rank), Sportsline with Bob Carpenter, Nightline with David Stanford, and the great Johnny Martin, playing big band music every night. As much as I enjoy some of KRMG's nationally-syndicated talk show hosts, I was sorry to see the station cease to be a full-service local station over the course of the 1990s.

Over that same period, maybe starting even earlier, Erling became crankier and crankier. I remember a brief period of improvement, following major back surgery, when he broadcast from home, surrounded by his beloved dogs. He was actually pleasant to listen to, briefly. But he reverted to type.

Erling grew less and less tolerant of conservatives, particularly religious conservatives, despite (or perhaps because of) their growing dominance in Tulsa. He became the voice of the city's establishment, Radio Cockroach Caucus, while his wife used his stage name (rather than his and her legal last name, Frette) to help along her career as a lobbyist. Many people remarked on the interesting coincidences between the causes and candidates he espoused on air and the causes and candidates his wife was hired to support. The question was often asked: Were her clients buying her skills or were they paying for access to his microphone? Margaret Erling worked for the Tulsa Metropolitan Utility Board and lobbied at the State Capitol for Great Plains Airlines, in which she was a stockholder. Can you guess where John stood with regard to those subjects?

Erling was adept at baiting callers who disagreed with him. He would pick, pick, pick at a caller until the caller lost his cool. One of his most effective needling techniques was to mischaracterize the caller's point and begin tearing down the straw man he had just built, to the caller's consternation.

If he couldn't get you to blow your cool, he'd just take what you said out of context, once you were off the phone and didn't have the opportunity to rebut. (I wrote an account of one such encounter with Erling, during the Vision 2025 campaign.)

Lost credibility and lost respect led to falling ratings, and the end finally came this year. I have heard that he asked to stay on until after the recall election, wanting to be there to gloat when Chris Medlock was turned out of office. Medlock, as a part of the airport investigative committee, had a hand in exposing Erling's ties to Great Plains Airlines. There was a running gag that they were holding the KRMG morning show job open for Chris should he lose the recall election. Instead, I'm told, around 7:30 on election night, Erling called the KRMG newsroom to learn the results, heard that Mautino was winning with over 70% and Medlock with over 60%. He is said to have responded with a burst of unprintables.

An expat Tulsan visits home


San Diego-based Kevin at the Primary Main Objective made a trip back to Tulsa to see his folks and visited the Jenks Riverwalk. And he was up early enough to hear me on the radio Monday morning, which is pretty impressive for a West-Coaster whose body clock must have been saying it's 4:40 AM.

Sorry for the lack of posting today, but real life has been fast and furious.

G. W. Schulz's 4,000-word profile of yours truly is the cover story of this week's Urban Tulsa Weekly.

It was a pleasure to get to meet and talk with G. W. over the last few weeks. I've enjoyed his work in UTW, and it's an honor to be the subject of a profile by him. His hiring is a part of UTW's increased coverage of local news, and it's an important step in that paper's evolution from a collection of entertainment reviews and ads to a full-fledged alternative weekly.

I may issue a few clarifications or corrections later to compensate for my failure to answer as clearly as I might have, but for now, I'll just encourage you to read it. I'm very pleased.

Over at his Lost Tulsa blog, Tom Baddley has posted a great set of photos of Bartlett Square and the Main Mall, prior to their removal over the last few years. (Be sure to notice the photos of the Tulsa Whirled's Main Street facade, a classic example of mid-century Albanian Bunker architecture. They thoughtfully included gun emplacements in the design, which I guess they thought would be useful if the newspaper ever found itself under assault from peasants with pitchforks.)

I thought I'd try to set the Mall in the context of downtown Tulsa's decline, and the various remedies that actually made matters worse.

In the late '70s, Tulsa pedestrianized Main Street from 3rd to 6th and Fifth Street from Boston to Boulder, and made 5th from Boulder to Denver a narrow one-lane, one-way street. As usual, just about the time other cities figured out that pedestrian malls didn't work well in the US, Tulsa joined the soon-to-be-passé fad. The idea was to link the two superblock urban renewal developments -- the Civic Center where 5th Street dead-ended at Denver and the Williams Center where Main Street now dead-ended at 3rd Street. The intersection, 5th and Main, became a large water feature, and it was dedicated in memory of U. S. Sen. Dewey Bartlett as Bartlett Square.

Starting in the late '50s with the new County Courthouse, the Civic Center replaced a tree-shaded neighborhood of apartment buildings, retail, and light industrial -- a typical inner-ring neighborhood -- with a desolate, treeless plaza. Particularly controversial was the decision to close 5th Street, which merchants once marketed as "Tulsa's Fifth Avenue." The original plans for the Civic Center featured a round arena, slightly bigger than a city block, which would have required a curve in 5th. When convention facilities were added to the Assembly Center, so that it covered two blocks, 5th Street was to have tunnelled under, but that idea was abandoned over the protests of 5th Street merchants, who feared the loss of business when their drive-by traffic was diverted to 6th and 4th.

The second big superblock was created by blocking off Main Street and Boston Avenue between 3rd and the Frisco tracks. The historic Hotel Tulsa was demolished, along with Tulsa's original commercial district, an area that might have become a quaint, restored district like Denver's Lower Downtown. Instead, it was cleared to make way for the Williams Center: a new hotel, the Performing Arts Center, the Bank of Oklahoma Tower, and the Williams Center Forum, an indoor mall between 1st and 2nd at Main. Main Street, which once linked north of the tracks to south of the tracks, Cain's Ballroom to Boulder Park, once the city's principal commercial street, was cloven in twain.

In order to have a successful pedestrian mall, you have to have pedestrians, so it works best if you pedestrianize areas where there are already a lot of people walking out of necessity. In theory, linking the governmental center to the new "mixed-use development" should have worked well, but the Mall and the superblocks made parking and driving downtown even more inconvenient for people who didn't have to be downtown. Workers might use the Mall, but mostly just during lunch hour. The years following the Mall's completion saw an increased use of telecommunications in business, reducing the need for people to leave their offices during the work day. The Forum was very inconveniently located down a steep flight of stairs a block away from the Main Mall, and ultimately even that path would be blocked when the Williams Center hotel was allowed to expand to the west, into the old Main Street right-of-way.

There was a time when there was a critical mass of workers downtown -- around 70,000 during the last oil boom in the late Seventies. The Mall was popular enough that Tulsa's second UHF station, KGCT 41, tried to build its identity around the Mall. The studios were in the Lerner Shops building, just off of Bartlett Square, and KRMG's John Erling hosted a midday show live from the Mall. (I did a month-long internship at KGCT in May 1981.)

When the office workers went home at the end of the day, the Mall was left to folks with no better place to be. Without enough people living in or near downtown, there was no reason for shops to remain open. Without open shops and auto traffic, there was no natural surveillance -- "eyes on the street" -- and the shady spots that were pleasant places to eat lunch on summer days became places to avoid at night.

(Anyone who was paying attention to what Jane Jacobs was writing as early as 1960 would have predicted this result, but no one was listening to Jane Jacobs.)

Sometime during the Mall years, Downtown Tulsa Unlimited, founded by downtown retailers in the '50s to try to remain competitive with new suburban shopping centers like Utica Square, mutated into an association of office building owners. While there are some sharp staff people at DTU, including DTU president Jim Norton, the folks who call the shots seem to see downtown as an office park -- the "core" between 1st and 6th, Cincinnati and Cheyenne -- surrounded by parking lots for their tenants and other buildings that could be torn down to create even more parking for their tenants.

(Speaking of DTU: They've had a contract with the city to maintain the Main Mall, paid for by an assessment on downtown property. Now that the Main Mall is gone, does the city really need a contract with DTU?)

The pedestrian mall didn't kill downtown retail all by itself, but it mortally wounded what little remained. What really hurt was the depopulation of central Tulsa. Think of a box from Union to the west to Harvard on the east, 21st on the south to Pine on the north -- about 12 square miles. In 1960, the population of that area was about 67,000. That dropped to 50,000 in 1970, 37,000 in 1980, 30,000 in 1990, and increased slightly to about 31,000 in 2000, still less than half the 1960 population. Urban renewal, expressway construction, conversion of land to surface parking to accommodate the new skyscrapers, expansion of institutions like the hospitals and the University of Tulsa, and conversion of residential areas to commercial and industrial uses all contributed to central Tulsa's depopulation. Most of those who remained weren't exactly flush with disposable income. If you don't have rooftops, you won't have retail.

I've got to stop here for now. More about the Mall and its demise tomorrow. Feel free to include your own thoughts, anecdotes, and memories in the comments. Also, feel free to ridicule the Tulsa Whirled's hideous building. (That's it! The building makes me think of the third book in C. S. Lewis's space trilogy: That Hideous Strength.)

Thanks to reader and frequent commenter W., who informed me that there was a problem with using a TypeKey account to post comments without waiting for moderation.

When I changed the name of the Movable Type comments script in a futile effort to defeat comment spam, I neglected to let TypeKey know of the change, so TypeKey couldn't associate my blog with my registered key. Thus the "site hasn't signed up for this feature" message. It's fixed now. Comment away!

Troubled bridge in hot water


There are all sorts of interesting rumors flying around about the proposed "private" toll bridge to Bixby. We are hearing that two of the County Commissioners (Wilbert Collins and Randi Miller) have been receiving threatening phone calls from bridge supporters, evidently because they're having second thoughts about the county's involvement in the scheme, which looks like a great deal for Infrastructure Ventures Inc., not such a great deal for Tulsa County or its taxpayers.

We are also hearing about potential action to abate the Comprehensive Plan for the planning district that includes far south Tulsa and the north end of the proposed bridge. It's odd to hear "abate" rather than "amend." An amendment would require approval by the Tulsa Metropolitan Area Planning Commission (TMAPC) and the Tulsa City Council. An abatement suggests court action to invalidate or mandate a change in the plan, which calls for nearly all of the district to remain residential.

I put "private" in sneer quotes above, because it isn't an accurate description of the deal between Tulsa County and IVI. The county will actually own the bridge after IVI builds it, but IVI will have a long-term franchise agreement to collect the tolls, with a small percentage (after 10 years) going to the County. The County is set to use its power of eminent domain for the benefit of the private developers. It looks an awful lot like government is using its muscle to acquire the land, while a private entity will reap the reward. Some people are wondering if the deal is a golden parachute for IVI execs Bill Bacon, Bob Parmele, and Howard Kelsey -- maybe for their pal, County Commissioner Bob Dick, too.

I heard something interesting about Howard Kelsey. He's a home builder, and he built the massive mansion owned by Robert E. Lorton, Jr., Chairman of World Publishing Corp. If the connection between Kelsey and the Lortons runs any deeper -- say, if the Lortons have a financial interest in the bridge through Kelsey -- they'd be wise to acknowledge it in the pages of their paper sooner rather than later, if they don't want to suffer another blow to the Whirled's tattered credibility. (I have to give the Whirled credit, however, for publishing a story about the independent analysis of the bridge's finances, which was very unfavorable to IVI's position.) (CORRECTION: I had written that Kelsey also built the house of Robert E. "Bobby" Lorton, III. A reader writes, "Kelsey was not involved with Bobby's house, instead it was Kleinco Construction Services. Kelsey did ultimately complete Jr's house but only after Roxanna [wife of Robert E. Lorton, Jr.] had run off several other builders.")

Finally, if IVI moves the north end of the bridge a bit to the east to avoid City of Tulsa-owned park land (and the resulting messy problem of the the county trying to condemn city-owned land), they will still have to deal with the City of Tulsa. The bridge builders would still have to acquire city-owned right-of-way for 121st Street or Yale or both in order to connect to the street grid.

One of the names that should have been on Patrick Ruffini's 2008 Republican Presidential Straw Poll was that of Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee. I hadn't really thought of him as a contender until our recent visit to Little Rock, where I heard him speak at a banquet honoring community volunteers (including my mother-in-law). He's a social and fiscal conservative and has a solid record over nine years as governor.

I was impressed by his ease addressing the audience. I suppose after nine years as governor and many years before that as a Baptist preacher, public speaking wouldn't be a problem, but I've seen plenty of veteran politicians who never learn to deliver a speech in a comfortable, natural way. I was surprised at how mild his accent was -- much less noticeable than Bill Clinton's.

Someone else thinks Mike Huckabee deserves a look as a presidential contender. Someone calling him/herself "Blue State Republican" has started the Mike Huckabee President 2008 blog. He's got an extensive excerpt from a recent column by David Broder, who also enthuses over Huckabee, calling him the most intriguing candidate present at the recent National Governors' Association conference.

Someone to watch.

Patrick Ruffini is running a straw poll for the 2008 Presidential nomination. He's missing a few potential candidates that ought to be on the list, and at least three of five are no-hopers, but he's added an interesting twist that makes it worth your while to participate: He's sorting the results by referring blog, which means we'll be able to see how results among BatesLine readers compare to the overall result. So click on through, and cast your vote.

(Hat tip: Karol at Alarming News.)

Cockroaches at large

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Why is the Tulsa Whirled beating the drum for at-large seats on the Tulsa City Council? Dan Paden has it figured out:

Election campaigns are expensive, and city-wide campaigns are necessarily more expensive than district-wide campaigns. It is hard enough for good people to raise the money to run for a district seat. It will be harder for them to finance a run against the deep pockets of the Cockroach Caucus and their candidates. The more at-large councilors there are, the more pull the CC will have at city hall.

He's right, and it's even worse because a city-wide election makes it difficult to conduct a low-budget, grass-roots campaign. Jim Mautino, Energizer bunny that he is, knocked on nearly every door in his district (which has a population of about 43,000) during the recent recall campaign. Imagine trying to knock on every door in the city. (The city election calendar already works against grass-roots campaigns, with campaign season limited by Christmas and New Year's and falling during the coldest and shortest days of the year, which severely limit door-to-door campaigning. For those reasons and others, I'd love to see city elections moved to the fall of odd-numbered years.)

Be sure to read Dan's whole piece. I especially liked this pithy comment:

[T]he Tulsa Whirled has become something of a reverse barometer for Tulsa. That is to say, if the Whirled thinks it's a good idea, somethin' jist ain't right.

That's a very useful heuristic.

John Brown's body


Brian at Audience of One has posted an interesting historical sketch of militant abolitionist John Brown and how his life and death radicalized the debate over slavery in the United States. Brian closes with a few discussion questions:

Look at Brown's life and actions. Was he a hero or a common criminal? Do the ends justify the means? When is it morally acceptable to do the wrong things for the right reason? Think about our own modern-day examples. Think about the line between right and wrong. Just think about it.

Brian gives his answers to his own questions here, then raises another: "So what is an ordinary man or woman to do when they see an injustice that appears to have no hope of being corrected through the democratic process?"

(In between those two items, Brian has a tribute to Tulsa native and legendary singer and songwriter Leon Russell.)

Give it the gas?


Terry, blogging at Wild Ramblings, has a good summary of the pros and cons for the August 9 vote in Collinsville, a small town / suburb north of Tulsa. The city, which provides water and electricity to its citizens, wants to buy the natural gas franchise back from Oklahoma Natural Gas. Terry's still undecided. (Hat tip: Roemerman on Record.)

I have heard that the City of Collinsville hopes that the revenues from running the gas franchise will provide the revenue needed to provide city services. Most Collinsville residents do their shopping in Owasso, just a few miles to the south, taking their sales tax dollars with them. Eventually Owasso will reach its growth limits and Collinsville will grow enough to support retail within its boundaries, but until then, someone still has to pay the policemen and fire fighters.

Which reminds me: Matt Galloway of The Basement has more from his dad, Bethany City Manager Dan Galloway, about the inequities of Oklahoma's sales-tax-dependent municipal finance system and a proposal for fixing the problem with numbers estimating the impact of the change on 17 cities, including Tulsa.

Don't panic


If Roger Ebert's column is like a bakery, BatesLine is the day-old bread store. You can count on BatesLine to give you the straight scoop on movies you've already seen, maybe several times, in the theater, on DVD, and on the late Friday slot of OETA's Movie Club.

We had a date night tonight and went to see "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" at Movies 8, which is Cinemark's local dollar theater. Mikki and I were impressed by the inch-thick accumulation of dust on the neon sign above the concession stand.

While the place may not be maintained to the standard of the chain's local flagship (the Tulsa, around the corner on 71st Street), there was a good crowd to see the film, and they were well-mannered. It was even quiet during the previews.

And during the previews there was an ad for Coca-Cola featuring their new blog site -- mycoke.com. I won't bother hot-linking that -- you've got to register (for free), and bugmenot.com doesn't have a login yet. Presumably you can start your own blog and read those of others who are blogging for Coke. (I see that the practice of corporate-sponsored blogs is spreading -- the Daily Oklahoman's website has five blogs, including a husband and wife team. I'm guessing that not included among the topics these bloggers will discuss is criticism of the Daily Oklahoman, Opryland, the Grand Old Opry, WSM Radio, the Broadmoor Hotel, Gaylord Sports Management, or any of the other far-flung enterprises of the South Central Ohio Coal, Gas, Electricity, Telephone & Telegraph Communications Group OPUBCO.)

Anyway, the movie: We both loved it. I've read the books (all five books of the trilogy), listened to the entire radio series, and watched the entire BBC TV series. Mikki saw some of the TV series, but I think fell asleep for most of it, as parents tend to do when they're finally allowed to sit still and quiet for a few moments. The movie is not the same as all of the above, but they managed -- meaning Douglas Adams, who wrote the radio series, then transformed it into books, TV, and finally a screenplay -- to capture the most important bits and weave them into a coherent movie-length story using some new plot devices.

The casting was well done. Martin Freeman, sad-sack Tim from "The Office," is perfect as sad-sack Arthur Dent.

I'm not sure how they did it, but they managed to make Marvin, the robot, look dejected and resigned despite the lack of an actual face. You will see an android shrug and hang its head. (It was nice to see a Sirius Cybernetics Corporation product from the TV series make a cameo appearance.)

The Vogons play a bigger role in the film than in the book, and it works well. You get the full sense of the Vogon bureaucratic mentality at work, down to a homeworld filled with what looks like a collection of every American civic building built during the '60s and '70s.

Even if you haven't read the books or heard the radio series or seen the TV series, you'll still enjoy the movie.

I find interesting things when I look through the searches that lead people to this site. Someone got to BatesLine via the search string "old oil money Tulsa," and that search also led to a website called TurnLeft.com and an entry for Tulsa on their list of "Liberal Unfriendly Places."

Now, I would have thought that Tulsa wouldn't make such a list, as it's a rather conservative place and also a pretty friendly place, but I think I should assume that there should be a hyphen between "Liberal" and "Unfriendly" -- meaning that this may not be the kind of place the Creative Class will find to their liking. The page includes comments from conservative Tulsans who say that Tulsa may not be liberal but it isn't hostile to liberals, and liberal Tulsans who advise going beyond first impressions.

Among nearby cities, Oklahoma City, Wichita, Joplin, and Springdale are all listed as liberal-unfriendly. The nearest liberal-friendly city? Fayetteville, Arkansas, which will come as no surprise to Matt.

The South Tulsa Citizens Coalition had an independent firm look at the revenue projections for the Bixby private toll bridge, and found that over the 75-year life of the agreement between Infrastructure Ventures, Inc. (IVI) and the Tulsa County Board of Commissioners, IVI will net $658 million in profit, while Tulsa County will see only $133 million as their share. Here's a Download link to the analysis (PDF file, Adobe Reader required), which was performed by George K. Baum & Company, Inc., and below is the accompanying press release from the South Tulsa Citizens Coalition:

The South Tulsa Citizens Coalition (“STCC”) requested a detailed financial analysis of the Toll Bridge Agreement made between Tulsa County and Infrastructure Venture I, L.L.C. (“IVI”). The financial analysis was prepared by George K. Baum & Company, Inc. (“GKB”), a leading investment banking firm in the area of transportation finance.

The analysis concludes that IVI will net $658 Million in profit with the County only receiving $133 Million over the life of the agreement. If the County had chosen to “publicly finance” this bridge, over 75 years the total net revenue to the County would have been $800 Million. If the County chose to stop collecting tolls on the bridge once it was paid for, the bridge would be free after 30 years at a total cost of only $35 Million plus financing costs.

STCC spokesperson, Michael Covey, said “This is an outrage. Is there no leadership at the County level looking out for the interests of the taxpayers? The 75 year IVI agreement soaks the citizens of Tulsa County out of over half a billion dollars more than is needed to build this bridge, and of that money the County Commissioners gave away $658 Million to their buddies. I am calling for an investigation into the Tulsa County Commissioners handling of this bridge. We either have an abuse of power, or financial incompetence, and neither is good for the taxpayers, or toll payers of Tulsa!”

A meeting for citizens concerned about the bridge will be held next Monday night, July 25th at 7 p.m. at St. James United Methodist Church, 111th and Yale.

Chris Norby, a county supervisor in Orange County, California, argues in an Orange County Register op-ed that eminent domain doesn't promote economic development, and often has the opposite effect:

Widespread use of eminent domain by cities has demolished whole neighborhoods and destroyed tight-knit communities. "Urban renewal" became a catch phrase for instant slums and urban deserts created through massive use of eminent domain.

Widespread eminent domain and billions in subsidies for commercial development have produced no net economic benefits, according to the 1998 Public Policy Institute of California study, Subsidizing Redevelopment in California.

Half-empty "ghost malls" include the Hollywood-Highland center, now worth a quarter of its original value. Costa Mesa's Triangle Square, built on land seized by eminent domain, now sits virtually empty.

Anaheim residents still mourn the complete destruction of their historic downtown during the 1970s by the redevelopment agency.

By contrast, cities like Orange, Fullerton and Santa Ana have respected the rights of small property owners and have thriving downtowns.

Having learned from its past, the Anaheim City Council has now sworn off the use of eminent domain for private development.

The new Platinum Triangle is thriving because the city is allowing greater land use freedom and flexibility - not dictating land ownership or land use decisions from above.

The role of government is to protect public safety and provide public services. It is not the role of any government to micromanage land use or dictate who can - and cannot - own property. That is the role of free enterprise, where there is a free exchange of goods and services on a voluntary basis.

Earlier in the same piece, Norby makes some points about the "compensation" paid for condemned property:

"Fair market value" must still be paid, but this is meaningless in a forced sale. People have strong sentimental attachments to their home and neighbors.

A small business owner has loyal local customers. They cannot be compensated by a theoretical "fair market value."

One of the hidden costs of urban renewal is the destruction of the social capital that develops in a neighborhood over decades. You can buy everyone in the old neighborhood an equivalent house somewhere else, but you can't rematerialize the neighborhood -- and all the ways neighbors come to take care of each other -- somewhere else.

(Via PrestoPundit, with a hat tip to reader Mel Rippy.)

My beloved ODOT county maps


I was going to include this in the roundup post below, but this deserved its own entry.

I first came across the Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT) county highway maps back in the mid-'70s, when I would take the MTTA bus downtown from school on Wednesday afternoons and hang out at Central Library until Dad got off work. I could spend hours poring over maps, and became particularly fascinated with the ODOT county maps, which showed rural roads and locations of homes, businesses, farms, cemetaries, and schools outside the city limits. The maps indicated which roads were dirt, which were gravel, and which were paved. City limits and fence lines were shown, along with the odd exclaves -- places like the Tulsa Fairgrounds which are in the city but outside the city limits.

The ODOT map of Wagoner County included, as an inset, the first street map I had ever seen of my neighborhood, Rolling Hills, at the time an unincorporated subdivision in the northwest corner of the county. (We lived there from 1969 to 1978.) Most commercial city maps of the time didn't bother to show Tulsa beyond "Tulsa proper" (the pre-1966 boundaries), but even if a map did go out all the way to the new city limit, it stopped abruptly at 193rd East Avenue. So it was interesting to see, at last, how my mental map of the neighborhood, sketched by years of walking to church, riding my bike to the UtoteM and the In-N-Out (convenience stores), and visiting friends, matched up to the real distances and proportions shown by the map.

What really caught my imagination were the names and boundaries of townships -- county subdivisions that, as far as I am aware, have had no official function since the 1910s. These townships sometimes matched up to the Northwest Ordinance 36-square-mile townships, but mostly didn't. Tulsa County had Boles, Frye, Willow Springs, Lynn Lane, Wekiwa, Red Fork, Dawson, plus townships that bore the same names as still-extant towns: Collinsville, Owasso, Skiatook, Jenks, Glenpool, and Bixby. I had the idea that the old township boundaries could be put to use for city government. Tulsa (then governed by a board of city commissioners elected at-large) could have boroughs, just like New York City, using the old township boundaries to create some geographical element to city government.

When I was in college, my roommate had posters of the Landers twins and Morgan Fairchild next to his loft bed. I ordered some county maps from ODOT, used colored pencils to highlight the township boundaries, and put up Wagoner, Rogers, and Tulsa County on my side of the room. I wasn't making a statement. I just liked looking at the maps (although I'm sure not as much as he -- or I -- liked looking at the Landers twins).

After college, newly empowered with my own car, I bought an atlas collecting all 77 county maps in a single book: The Oklahoma Wildlife Federation's County Maps and Outdoor Guide to Oklahoma. The counties were each squeezed down to a single page, two at most, which made the maps hard to read at times, but it still was a helpful companion on my Saturday rambles around the state. I'd look for paved routes that were off the state numbered highway system: a shortcut from Skiatook Lake to Prue, Kenwood Road in Mayes and Delaware Counties, the road from Oaks to Rocky Ford to Moodys in Cherokee County, Jones and Hogback Roads in Oklahoma County. The atlas was also handy for spotting old highway alignments, like old US 75 as it winds through Vera, Ramona, and Ochelata, another segment of old 75 from Beggs to Preston to Okmulgee, and US 62 through Headrick, Snyder, Indiahoma, and Cache -- places where a beeline connecting cities 50 miles apart replaced the twists and turns that connected one little town to its neighbor.

Some years later, Shearer Publishing incorporated data from these ODOT county maps with topographical data to produce The Roads of Oklahoma, a full-color atlas with a consistent scale throughout.

So it was nice to see that ODOT now has the full set of county maps online, along with the current official state highway map and other publications.

I learned about these online maps from a fascinating new blog about our great state: blogoklahoma.us. And I learned about blogoklahoma.us from Mike of Okiedoke's latest Okie roundup.

This is Class Warfare links to an extraterrestrial extension of Google's brilliant maps site. Be sure to zoom down to the smallest scale to learn the shocking truth!

Mike of Okiedoke took a trip to Fort Worth on Amtrak's Heartland Flyer, which was quite pleasant, but didn't get to come back the same way, which wasn't. Learn how not to miss the train, and what your alternatives are if you do. (Last I read, the Heartland Flyer is the only profitable Amtrak route outside the northeast corridor. UPDATE: Not so. See comments for details from Mike.)

Mike also links to a McCurtain Daily Gazette article, which examines the strange exclusion by the FBI of information pointing to links between the Oklahoma City bombers and the Elohim City paramilitary camp.

Chase McInerney writes about his visit, as a 12-year-old, to the humble Oklahoma County home of baseball legend Lloyd Waner, aka Little Poison. He asks why Major League Baseball still hasn't done anything to provide for the handful of surviving MLB veterans who aren't covered by the MLB pension plan.

I don't get this.

The Whirled reported today that Sen. Jim Inhofe has introduced a bill that would force Southwest Airlines to move from Love Field in Dallas to DFW Airport.

Knowing how much the Whirled hates Sen. Inhofe, I'm sure this must be some kind of smear. I am sure that Sen. Inhofe is fully supportive of Nevada Sen. John Ensign's efforts to eliminate the anti-competitive Wright Amendment, which sacrificed the interests of the traveling public for the sake of one favored airline and one favored airport. The Wright Amendment, as originally passed by Congress in 1979, singled out Love Field and prohibited direct flights between that airport and airports in states not contiguous with Texas.

Ensign and other sponsors of the American Freedom to Fly Act want to completely repeal the Wright Amendment and allow Love Field to operate like any other airport in the country. Here are some of the idiotic restrictions that the Wright Amendment imposes:

  • Restricts flights from Love Field to Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arkansas, New Mexico, Alabama, Mississippi, and Kansas.
  • Flights from Love to Alabama, Mississippi, and Kansas cannot fly on to other states, but must return to Love before flying elsewhere.
  • You can't buy a through ticket from Love via another city within the Wright Amendment zone to a city beyond the zone -- e.g. Love to Tulsa to Chicago. The airline can't even tell you that such a combination is possible. You have to figure it out and buy the two tickets separately. (I don't know this, but I'll bet the airline isn't even allowed to transfer your bags to an onward flight in this situation.)

The Wright Amendment is a fitting legacy for former House Speaker Jim Wright, famous for being forced from office for ethics violations. (Remember his vanity-press book, Reflections of a Public Man, which was purchased in mass quantities by lobbyists who wanted to help him skirt outside income restrictions?) Republicans swept away much of his dubious legacy when they gained control of the House in 1995, but this is one last bit that deserves to be trashed. I'm hopeful that Oklahoma's pro-freedom, pro-competition congressional delegation will lead the way in eliminating this provision that stinks of favoritism and crony capitalism.

A commenter ("Shadow6") on my entry about the Edison High School stadium proposal mentioned a site full of stats on Oklahoma High School sports: the Oklahoma High School Sports InfoNET. The site has schedules, scores, stats, and standings going back to 1998 in most sports.

For official info on high school sports in Oklahoma, there's the website of the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association. No archives, standings, or schedules, but they do have the overall calendar for the coming year for sports seasons and championship tournaments, eligibility rules, and (promised for the future) the classification for each participating school.

While looking up that info, I came across an interesting one-page history of Skelly Stadium. It has a list of biggest crowds and milestones, but no mention whatsoever of the late, unlamented Tulsa Mustangs semi-pro football team, coached by legendary University of Tulsa head coach Glenn Dobbs.

Mad Okie has some useful thoughts on aspects of Tulsa that might attract tourists, but we seem to be embarrassed by them:

God, Oil, Route 66 & Native Americans

What do all of these things have in common? They are what Tulsa is known for. Of those, what does Tulsa promote? Until recently, none.

Way back in 1999, I was part of the Research Committee of the City and Chamber's Convention and Tourism Task Force. At the time, we thought they genuinely wanted research into the economic impact of conventions and tourism and how best to move forward, but in fact the process was predetermined to put the downtown arena back on the ballot. We had some interesting discussions, at any rate, and one discussion was about niche interests that would bring tourists to the Tulsa area. In addition to the above list, add Western Swing music (which Mad Okie mentions later in his entry), cowboys, and tornadoes. About 10 years ago, I had a conversation in a woolen shop in Ardara, Co. Donegal, Ireland, with a German tourist who very much wanted to come to Oklahoma for storm chasing.

Here's something I wrote following the Mayor's Vision Summit in 2002, in response to the question, "What are the 10 most important considerations that must be faced in planning for Tulsa's future?":

Tulsa's unique qualities -- call them distinctives or idiosyncracies -- how can we raise awareness and pride locally and use this as an asset in our dealings with the rest of the world? I get the impression than some civic leaders are embarassed by our oil heritage, our Cowboy and Indian roots, and the strength of religious belief here -- so our tourist brochures trumpet the ballet and Philbrook and Utica Square, and downplay things like western swing music, the gun museum in Claremore, and ORU. When a German tourist comes to Oklahoma, he doesn't want to see the opera, he wants to see oil wells, tipis, old Route 66 motels, and tornadoes. Some adolescents go through a phase when their greatest longing is to be just like everyone else. If we're going to set ourselves apart, we have to stop trying to blend in as a modern city like every other, stop treating our quirky folkways as things to be suppressed and hidden, and celebrate them instead. It's nice to have the same cultural amenities as every other large city, but it's the unique qualities that will win the affections of our own people and capture the imaginations of the rest of the world.

At the grand old age of 20, Jamie Pierson finds that all the tumblers on the combination lock of literature are falling into place:

As I get older, I’m finding that the books, and music as well, that left a foreign and confused taste in my mouth, that gave me the idea that most “literature” was not all it was cracked up to be, are finally making sense. It’s like a code has been cracked, vision clearing, as muddied words and sounds that I know must hold meaning, gradually and unexpectedly do. It’s a most “delicious” (as my Bamma would say) feeling of finally being admitted to a club. Is it just because I’m older now? Or did I pass through a magic portal somewhere? Did something I do or endure make the scales drop from my eyes?

Partly it's age -- just as it takes time for your taste buds to develop an appreciation for strong and spicy and subtle flavors, it takes time before your intellectual taste buds are ready for stronger stuff. (With an eight-year-old and a four-year-old around the house, we have frequent reminders that what we grown-ups find delicious is too spicy or "smells bad.")

Partly it's experience. You read something at 12 and think, "How could he be so stupid?" You read the same thing again at 42 and think, "Oh, Lord, I remember being that stupid."

Unfortunately, you can have experiences by 20 that allow you to understand the darker side of human nature, as presented in a biopic of Charles Bukowski:

I turned my face away from the screen. Tears, a sob, fought to come out. I couldn’t see that, couldn’t take it. I think I gasped when he kicked her, said “no” horrifiedly aloud. Whenever I see fighting like that, raised voices and names called, a face with that look that tells you all sense has left its owner and all there is is hate behind it, whether it’s real life or just a movie, oh god, I’m back there. Back in that bedroom, that apartment, those hissing, crushing words. This is why I don’t see a lot of movies, like, story movies. And why I don’t see them in theaters. At home, I can turn it off, walk away, distract myself until that part is over. But there, in that dark and full theater, I was pinned in those memories until the clip was over.

Sounds like she has a story to tell, when she's ready, and when she does it'll help someone else connect with a part of his own past, just as seeing this film helped her connect with a part of hers.

It's like Paul said to the Corinthians:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

President Bush has announced the nomination of U. S. Court of Appeals Judge John Roberts to replace Sandra Day O'Connor on the U. S. Supreme Court.

I don't have time to write a reaction (or even have one yet), but you'll find plenty of commentary in the newly-established section on the sidebar to the right of the BatesLine home page. Just below the Blog Oklahoma button, you'll find "News blogs, frequently updated," with a selection of right-leaning individual blogs and group blogs that focus on national and world news and (with one exception) are frequently updated. (The exception is the Wall Street Journal's "Best of the Web Today," which is nevertheless worth your attention if you're keeping up with the world at large.)

The recall campaign is over but yard signs are still sprouting up around midtown Tulsa. The campaign is not aimed at the general electorate, but at the board of Tulsa Public Schools (TPS) and the committee putting together the next school bond issue, slated for the November ballot.

A group of parents of Edison High School students are pushing for the inclusion in that bond issue of a $1.3 million "lightweight" football stadium for the Edison campus. Currently, Edison uses LaFortune Stadium on the Memorial High School campus as its home field. Memorial, Washington, East Central, Webster, and TSSC (formerly McLain) each have a football stadium on campus, and all but TSSC share the field with one other high school. In the past, TPS also used Skelly Stadium as a home field, and played home games on both Thursday and Friday nights. (Perhaps they still do, but I couldn't find a schedule from last fall to verify that.)

Proponents of a stadium for Edison have put together a detail-rich website, advertised on the yard signs. (I commend them for making the signs' type big enough to read while passing at 35 MPH.) They argue that the stadium can be funded without raising taxes by reallocating funds targeted for upgrading existing stadiums.

As impressed as I am by the website (which focuses on detail rather than flash), I am unmoved by their arguments. This is a telling passage:

An interesting fact is that TPS and the bond development committee have not once argued that this stadium is unnecessary because it would not benefit the students. They must clearly understand the benefits, but choose not to act on behalf of Edison students by funding this project. Instead they continue to channel much needed funding away from schools in need, toward schools which already have established championship athletic programs.

Notice that they contrast "need" with "already have established championship athletic programs." I have a hard time seeing the creation of a championship athletic program as a need.

Another page presents Google satellite images of the existing high school sports complexes. The writer observes that other sports facilities at schools with football stadiums are of higher quality and better maintained than equivalent facilities at the "have not" schools and implies that the presence of a football stadium would improve the general athletic situation at Edison.

I'm not inclined to put any of the upcoming bond issue towards athletics. Repairing or renovating academic facilities ought to be the highest priority. My mother was a kindergarten teacher at Catoosa Elementary School for 28 years, and I can remember her frustration when the school board put a lighted baseball field and a new high school gym ahead of fixing the roof and installing air conditioning for the WPA-era elementary school.

If you're going to spend bond money on athletics, it would make more sense to fund modernization and improvements to existing stadiums rather than build another facility that will require maintenance and, eventually, modernization and improvements.

The bond development committee should keep this in mind as it considers including an Edison stadium in the bond package: Tulsa's taxpayers sent a strong signal last December, when they rejected the library bond issue, that they aren't interested in paying for "wants" right now. If a stadium is included, it could cause the defeat of that part of the package. The bond issue will be split into several different ballot items, and the committee should be careful to separate academic projects from athletic projects, and perhaps put an Edison stadium on its own ballot item.

And before someone complains that East Central got a stadium in the last bond package, it should be remembered that the residents of the old East Central school district were promised a stadium decades ago (1960s?) when the district was annexed into the Tulsa district.

Even if the stadium is included in the bond package, building a stadium on the proposed site may require a zoning change, a special exception, or a variance to permit the stadium and to meet parking requirements, and there's no guarantee that the school district will get the necessary approvals.

At least once or twice a summer, when I was a kid, we'd make it out to Skelly Stadium for the Tuesday night Starlight Concert. Some weeks we'd hear Big Band music, other weeks it'd be Sousa marches or Strauss polkas.

The Starlight Concert series continues its Tuesday evening performances at the River West Festival Amphitheatre tonight at 8:00 p.m. Tonight the music will be accompanying a movie: "Easy Street," starring Charlie Chaplin. The performance is cosponsored by Circle Cinema. Click here for a map.

(Next Tuesday, July 26, is the last concert of the summer.)

I see that despite a hint of a concilatory tone in the Whirled's Thursday editorial, the paper still hasn't run out of ways to show contempt for those they dislike. In Pamela Jean "P. J." Lassek's Sunday "story" on potential candidates for City Council and Mayor in 2006, she refers to 2004 District 4 Republican nominee Eric Gomez as Jason "Eric" Gomez.

As I pointed out over a year ago, Eric is the man's legal middle name, which he prefers to his first name. He was on the ballot as Eric Gomez and uses Eric Gomez in his real estate business. I've known Eric since 1999, and I never knew Eric wasn't his first name until the Whirled started printing his first name and putting sneer quotes around his middle name. There is no legitimate reason for the Whirled to do this. What's implied by the use of sneer quotes (also known as scare quotes) is that Gomez either is an eccentric (like Virginia "Blue Jeans" Jenner) or is trying to be deceptive in going by his middle name.

As a blogger, I'm allowed to be snarky and to mix opinion with news content, but mainstream media types are supposed to be objective and dispassionate observers. At a time when the Whirled has already taken some huge credibility and objectivity hits over Great Plains Airlines, the 71st and Harvard F&M Bank rezoning, and the recall, this petty but obvious example of bias doesn't help them.

UPDATE: I was informed that Ms. Lassek did not write the part of the article about the District 4 race, but it was written by fellow City Hall reporter Brian Barber. (I don't know what Brian's full legal name is, so I don't know if I should be putting sneer quotes around any of it.) As a resident of District 4, Ms. Lassek doesn't write on District 4 politics as a matter of the newspaper's policy. Perhaps the decision to so style Mr. Gomez was made by city editor Lewis "Wayne" Greene. I was also informed that the reason to use Gomez's full name is because he has a couple of misdemeanors on his record, which you can only find in OSCN if you search on his full name. I guess they want to make sure readers can look those up. That still doesn't explain the use of the sneer quotes around his middle name.

Some Tulsa items


MeeCiteeWurkor has posted a poll for the 2006 Mayoral Election.

Dan Paden rebuts the opinion section of Sunday's Whirled

Mad Okie doesn't think much of the cheerleading for Tulsa as a tourist destination, but he's got some ideas for how we can capitalize on our strengths, and they start with stopping the destruction of our history, particularly along Route 66. I like his idea of using the Rose Bowl as home to a Route 66 museum.

As an aside, remember the building at 11th and Lewis atop which the big Meadow Gold neon sign once stood? The sign had to be dismantled and stored because the building's owner (a car dealer) wanted to demolish the building for parking for used car storage. The car dealer has abandoned 11th and Lewis for another location and the car lots where the building once stood are completely vacant.

Finally, and this one isn't about Tulsa specifically or by a Tulsa blogger, but Charles G. Hill drove through the Oil Region of Pennsylvania, an area that draws 50,000 visitors annually to an oil heritage festival, an event we aren't likely to see here: "It occurs to me that Oklahoma is far too embarrassed about its own oil patch, that we'd like to think we're so over that." Perhaps that because painful memories of the last oil boom and bust are still fresh to many, while Pennsylvania's oil boom dates back about 100 years. What we need to get over is any embarrassment about the black gold that built our state, and find a way to preserve and present our oil heritage to visitors. It may not be a mainstream interest, but plenty of folks lived and worked in the oil patch or had ancestors who did. About eight years ago, we played tour guide to a woman who was born in Whizbang (Denoya), a boom town in Osage County, lived many years in Seminole, and had last seen Tulsa in 1936. Let's bring back pride in Oklahoma's oil heritage, and maybe we could start by re-airing Bob Gregory's "Oil in Oklahoma," a TV series produced by KTUL in the '70s.

(Great minds think alike -- I promise I had not seen Charles' headline about OKC's underground Chinatown before I wrote mine.)

God is for me


The evening excerpt for Wednesday, July 13, from Spurgeon's Morning and Evening is one I have formatted and taped up next to my computer, where I don't look at it as often as I should. The text is Psalm 56:9: "When I cry unto thee, then shall mine enemies turn back: this I know; for God is for me."

Spurgeon writes:

It is impossible for any human speech to express the full meaning of this delightful phrase, “God is for me.”

He was “for us” before the worlds were made; he was “for us,” or he would not have given his well-beloved son; he was “for us” when he smote the Only-begotten, and laid the full weight of his wrath upon him—he was “for us,” though he was against him; he was “for us,” when we were ruined in the fall—he loved us notwithstanding all; he was “for us,” when we were rebels against him, and with a high hand were bidding him defiance; he was “for us,” or he would not have brought us humbly to seek his face.

He has been “for us” in many struggles; we have been summoned to encounter hosts of dangers; we have been assailed by temptations from without and within—how could we have remained unharmed to this hour if he had not been “for us”?

He is “for us,” with all the infinity of his being; with all the omnipotence of his love; with all the infallibility of his wisdom; arrayed in all his divine attributes, he is “for us,”—eternally and immutably “for us”; “for us” when yon blue skies shall be rolled up like a worn out vesture; “for us” throughout eternity.

And because he is “for us,” the voice of prayer will always ensure his help. “When I cry unto thee, then shall mine enemies be turned back.” This is no uncertain hope, but a well grounded assurance—“this I know.” I will direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up for the answer, assured that it will come, and that mine enemies shall be defeated, “for God is for me.”

O believer, how happy art thou with the King of kings on thy side! How safe with such a Protector! How sure thy cause pleaded by such an Advocate! If God be for thee, who can be against thee?

Sunday sundry


Some faith-related entries of note from my blogroll. Not all of these are recent, but all are worth your time and attention.

Christian Persecution Blog reports that this is a national weekend of prayer for the people of Darfur, in Sudan. You'll find some additional background information here.

David Wayne, the Jollyblogger, has posted a review of I Don't Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist, by Norman Geisler and Frank Turek.

Marsupial Mom has been writing about her journey from the word-of-faith movement to Reformed (Calvinist) theology. She recommends a video series and book by R. C. Sproul called What Is Reformed Theology? And her husband chimes in with a sketch of his spiritual background and journey, some things he appreciates about Reformed theology, and more recommended reading.

Michael Spencer writes about his first pastorate, which was in a small church. He began with optimism.

And then....I was taken for a ride in a truck. Mr. So and So, (not his real name) says, "Now you know I give more money than anyone else in the church don't you?" The shine was off of Mikey's new toy. (Actual true story.)

It didn't take long to discover that I was pastoring a network of extended families, and if I were going to do anything here, I was going to have to memorize a map that was never printed; a map of who mattered, who had power, who called the shots, and whose blessing would determine my support.

His health and family suffered during his four years at the church, which has run through three more pastors in the 13 years since he left. Spencer writes that thousands of pastors face the same situation at small churches "that are nothing more than 'family chapels,' gatherings of family and cultural loyalty where the question of ball caps in church becomes a major division and an ugly testimony to the disunity of Christians." He understands why young pastors prefer to start new churches and bypass the kind of politics he had to deal with, but he says we can't write off small churches, which remain the spiritual home for a large proportion of Christians.

Phillip Johnson measures the crisis in "Fad-Driven" modern evangelicalism by the length of Jan Crouch's hair extensions. He also recalls a special dinner with Esther Ahn Kim, a Korean Christian who suffered persecution as a Japanese prisoner during WW II for her refusal to bow before a Shinto shrine. If you haven't already, you'll want to read about his trip to London, particularly his account of the day of the terrorist bombings and his visit to Bunhill Fields, the burying place of John Bunyan, William Blake, John Owen, and Thomas Bayes, the mathematician whose theories are hard at work fighting spam nowadays. The best way to read it all is to go to his July archive, start at the bottom, and work your way up.

Big Indian investors

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The Downtown Guy has taken note of last week's news that three Tulsa families -- Oliphant, Mayo, and Sharp -- have joined together to invest $1 million in "The American", the giant bronze statue of an Indian planned for Holmes Peak in Osage County. The statue project needs $40 million to go forward, and it's claimed that $30 million has already been raised.

What I found interesting -- and I think OKC's Downtown Guy will, too -- is that three families mentioned are said to own a considerable amount of property in Brady Village. That's the area of downtown within the Inner Dispersal Loop, north of the Frisco tracks, and east of Denver Avenue. A few years ago, an acquaintance who had lived in a couple of loft apartments in Brady Village mentioned those three names as significant property owners. He told me that one of the hindrances to renovation and development in the area is that much of the land was in family trusts, and the family members concerned are scattered across the country.

Can anyone shed further light on the property situation in Brady Village, and what the connection might be with "The American"? Does this signal a plan to move the statue to downtown or nearby?

Not that it's any of my business, but I think it would accomplish more for Tulsa's economy and convention and tourism business if the families invested that money into accelerating the revival of Brady Village.

Sing-a-long words and music


The page I linked at the end of the previous entry is part of a treasure trove of lyrics of old-timey songs, with MIDI files accompanying most of them. To give you a sense of the selection, I'll pick a title from (almost) each letter of the alphabet:

Across the Alley from the Alamo
Believe Me If All Those Endearing Young Charms
Come Josephine in My Flying Machine
Don't Fence Me In
Embraceable You
Faded Love
Glow Worm
Hello My Baby
I Only Have Eyes for You
Jeepers Creepers
Lovesick Blues
Mairzy Doats
Night and Day
On the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe
Pick Yourself Up
Red River Valley
Smoke, Smoke, Smoke That Cigarette
Up a Lazy River
Violets for Your Furs
We'll Meet Again
Yes, We Have No Bananas

Quite a variety -- blues, Western Swing, Tin Pan Alley, Cole Porter, Johnny Mercer, musical theatre, and Disney movies.

It appears that the problem with tracking "recently updated" blogs isn't going to be fixed anytime soon, so in order to encourage you (and me) to vary your blog diet, I've reconfigured my main blogroll to display in random order.

So for the first time in a while, I visited the blog of the Social Affairs Unit, a British non-profit that "addresses social, economic and cultural issues with an emphasis on the value of personal responsibility." Their blog features long-form analysis and critiques of popular culture from that perspective.

Often the articles there paint a bleak picture of modern British culture, particularly the violently dysfunctional multigenerational welfare class documented by Theodore Dalrymple, but one essay from about a week ago was hopeful and heartwarming and gave me goosebumps. It's an account of an afternoon, two days after the July 7th London bombings, at a "living history" museum in London's St. James Park, commemorating the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II. The exhibit featured re-creations of an encampment in Burma and a performance of wartime popular music.

S. J. Masty writes that the crowd that day was as interesting as the exhibit -- young families and WW II veterans, but "no sign of the English youth that one grows so accustomed to seeing in London nowadays, none of the slovenly, the slouching, the surly, the ill-mannered, the dead-eyed."

I don't want to spoil the essay for you, but it was touching to read. I had heard that patriotism in Britain is dead, deconstructed along with the monarchy and the nobility, the Established Church, and hunting to hounds. I had heard that British traditions are regarded as quaintly embarassing and are being overwhelmed by cultural influences from America and Europe. But it appears there is a remnant who are still proud to sing of their country's glories and blessings, and perhaps the terror attacks of last week, which were attacks on a culture with a heritage of liberty, have given them the confidence to cherish their country openly and unabashedly.

As I said, I got goosebumps when I read this. I am a sap when it comes to patriotic songs -- even those of other nations, particularly the UK. (For the full lyrics and a MIDI file of the song which is the focus of the essay, click here.)

Not-so-ancient Chinese secret


Oklahoma City's Downtown Guy has fascinating information about an underground Chinatown that existed under the basements of some of downtown Oklahoma City's buildings, from the turn of the 20th century until the 1940s.

In 1921 the Oklahoma Department of Health began a campaign to improve sanitation and living conditions in the state´s boarding houses, restaurants, grocery stores and the like. So in January, state health inspectors swarmed over eighty locations in Oklahoma City - six inspectors and one sheriff went underground. The inspectors were doubly amazed when they entered the subterranean village via a blue door in the alley off Robinson between Grand (Sheridan) and California - they did not expect the underground area to be so extensive nor did they expect it to be so clean.

The inspectors found several caverns of sleeping rooms extending from a central living room and kitchen and they reported that all the passageways were expertly dug and quite securely designed. Apparently two men shared a hollowed out room with dirt walls and floor and slept on grass mats placed on the floor. There were enough of these rooms to house an estimated 200 people. One inspector reported that the area seemed well-suited for three things - sleeping, eating, and gambling. Inspectors assured the Chinese inside that they weren´t concerned with gambling, just safety, and went about their business. At first they had assumed there were only two levels, but when they were all-too-eagerly greeted by men at the far end of the system, they realized there must´ve been a third level below which allowed someone to run ahead and alert the other residents.

This is the sort of mysterious place you wanted to believe really existed.

There's a lot more information in the Downtown Guy's entry.

Not up to writing anything new today, but I did a bit of tinkering with the links section of the sidebar, adding and organizing Tulsa-related links. There's a special section for folks who blog about Tulsa news -- folks who post on local stuff at least on a regular basis -- and at some point I will probably add a section for other Tulsa-based bloggers. Check it out.

Tulsa Chiggers


I wrote a bunch of new stuff tonight, but I don't think any of it is ready for prime time yet.

In the meantime, I encourage you to check out a blog called Tulsa Chiggers. I found it a while back, but forgot to blogroll it, and only recently found it again. The author has an interest in charter schools and writes about some of the difficulties in dealing with the educational bureaucracy. Today he has a photo of pro-recall chief Jon Davidson, general manager of the Tulsa Sheraton Hotel, and wonders if Mr. Davidson is still smiling.

As a reminder, if you want to let Mr. Davidson's boss know how much you appreciate the hell he put this city through over the last year, all the info you need is linked from here.

I'm sure hotels are accustomed to getting more letters of complaint than of praise, but Brian of An Audience of One has written an eloquent letter of appreciation to the proprietor of a fabled extended-stay establishment, down at the end of Lonely Street:

It's been a year since I first lugged all my baggage in your front door. I started to explain why I was there, but you smiled and waved me off. You'd heard it all before. I was sure I was the only person in the world who felt this way. You gave me the ten-cent tour, some bedside reading, and an extra toothbrush. "Hey buddy", you said. "You'll get over it some day. We all do."

"Hey man!", I replied, "you just don't understand. My heart is permanently broken. In pieces. I can't even pick it up. I'll need to borrow your whisk broom and dustpan just to get it all in one place again." You puffed on your stogie, and blue smoke swirled around your head when you sighed and said, " my friend, all it takes is time. The human heart has the ability to heal and regenerate itself. You'll see. Now take these clean towels and go find your room."

The staff there caters to the guests, but the customer isn't always right:

I took your advice. I wondered if a man with no taste in cigars would know anything, but I thought I had nothing to lose. I got in touch with old friends. I kept up conversations with current ones. I met some wonderful new people. Some of them touched my life in ways I could not have imagined. People I could trust. People I could count on. People who taught me things. People who gave me hope. Do you know how powerful it is to realize that so many people give a damn? When people that know you call to see how you're doing? When people you've never even met reach out a hand of friendship? When someone can look at you with all of your warts and find you attractive? I may try one of those cigars of yours.

Congratulations, Brian, and well written. The rest of you, go read the whole thing, especially if you're just checking in.

Randy Sullivan's toast


Before heading downtown to tonight's Tulsa City Council meeting, I popped a couple of slices of bread -- the heels of the loaf -- and brought them along. They smelled all warm and toasty, and it was hard not to eat them, but I didn't, because they weren't for me. The toast was for Councilor Randy Sullivan -- Randy Sullivan's toast.

Councilor Sullivan didn't show up at tonight's Council meeting, but that's OK. When you lose big, it's hard to show your face in public. Or perhaps he was embarrassed by his ecstatic utterance a week earlier.

(Completely random thought: Ever hear the saying, "Never take an even number of drugs"? If a depressant -- an antihistamine, perhaps -- makes you groggy and incoherent, taking a stimulant -- say, a big cup of black coffee -- won't make you alert and coherent. It will make you agitated and incoherent, as you delude yourself that everyone thinks you're alert and coherent. Something to keep in mind, especially if you're in the public eye.)

Really, Randy wasn't missed at the Council meeting. The people of District 7 certainly didn't notice a difference, since they haven't had representation on the City Council for quite some time.

Since he wasn't there, I ate his toast -- Randy Sullivan's toast.

Make your own cool


One of the pleasures of my new job is that I can get my work done anywhere there's an Internet connection, and that's given me a chance to visit many of the local hotspots -- Wi-Fi hotspots, I mean. Recently, for instance, I met a friend for lunch at the Chimi's at Lincoln Plaza, and, when duty called as we were leaving the restaurant, I just took my laptop across the parking lot to Cafe Cubana, bought something to drink, and got back to work.

Hanging out in coffee houses is a good way to learn about new things that are going on around town. I met someone for coffee at Shades of Brown, then stayed around to finish a project. The barista, hearing that I was a blogger, told me about an effort to kick-start some excitement around Tulsa, and she handed me a flyer:

make your own cool!

Will a convention center bring your favorite band to town? Can an expert identify just what it is that makes your neighborhood pub unique? Do you want your downtown to be dead after five? Or worse, do you want to see a 20 screen megaplex and a Banana Republic on Archer and Cincinnati?

Tulsa is our town. Brookside, Cherry Street, Brady District, Tulsans made them what they are. This town is not dead, and it's us who are responsible for keeping it alive. So get out there! Make some noise! Write letters, sing loud, pay attention, get involved! Support those already in the trenches for Tulsa and get out there and do it for yourself. If this town will ever be a creative mecca, it will be because Tulsans took the risks and made the effort. Grab a guitar, a ballot, a hammer, a newspaper, a book, and let's make something of this town.

This message brought to you by:

The Tulsa Kick Ass Initiative

If you can overlook the minor vulgarity at the end, that's good stuff. Instead of whining about how boring Tulsa is for young people, instead of hoping that a new arena will transform Tulsa into an urban mecca, instead of waiting for the city government to do something (as if government could create cool), instead of praying for high-end, national retailers to appear magically downtown, young Tulsans can make things happen themselves, just as Tulsans made Cherry Street and Brookside happen when few people could see the potential. That's what ypTULSA has been trying to do, with its efforts with Nelson's Buffeteria, Greenwood Jazz Festival, and the East Village.

This new group, the TKAI, seems to be geared more toward late teens and early twenties. The group's ringleader is 20-year-old Jamie Pierson, the aforementioned barista and an aspiring entrepreneur. (Jamie has been blogging a year longer than I have, and her blog is interesting reading.)

If you're interested in the Initiative, there's a meeting at Hodgepodge Books, 11th & Detroit, Monday, starting 8 p.m.-ish. Or you can visit their place on Myspace.com. You can reach Jamie by email at jamie.pierson@gmail.com.

Tulsa says "Ni!"

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Too late, I thought of the almost perfect song for the effort to defeat the recall against Councilors Chris Medlock and Jim Mautino. It would be perfect, if only all Tulsans spoke Ukrainian.

Разом нас багато Нас не подолати!

Together we are many
We cannot be defeated

Falsifications, no!
Machinations, no!
"Little understandings," no!
No to lies!

Yushchenko, Yushchenko, is our president!

We aren't beasts of burden.
We aren't goats.
We are of Ukraine
sons and daughters.
It's now or never.
Enough of waiting.
Together we are many
Together we cannot be defeated.

That was the theme song for Ukraine's Orange Revolution, which fought back successfully against a corrupt oligarchy and a fraudulent election.

Change Ukraine to Tulsa, change Yushchenko to Mautino and Medlock, and president to councilors, and it's a perfect fit.

Besides the corruption of the losing side, there's another common thread. I read that Ukraine's President Victor Yushchenko is a devout Christian, as is his prime minister, Yulia Timoshenko. It's been said that the one who fears God won't fear man. Yushchenko, Timoshenko, and their supporters suffered poisoning and imprisonment but their trust in God and their burden for honesty in government kept them going despite the threats.

If you want to know what keeps a bunch as diverse as Councilors Henderson, Turner, Mautino, and Medlock working together and determined to serve the interests of all Tulsans, despite the pressure and the threats, it's the belief that God brought them to the Council, and they are ultimately accountable to Him for what they do with this opportunity to serve the public. This enables them to risk political capital, even to risk their livelihoods, for the sake of doing what is right, rather than what is expedient. Because they fear and serve God, they can withstand the onslaught of the good ol' boy network.

Recall round-up

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I had hoped to squeeze in a few minutes here and there to gloat-blog, at least a little, or to post some more serious reflection on yesterday's victories, but today turned out to be a 12-hour-plus work day.

Here is a very quick round-up of comment on the recall elsewhere on the web. Maybe I'll be able to catch my breath tomorrow and add my voice to the mix.

Rick Westcott of Tulsans for Election Integrity is happy:

We, the People, won today! We, the People, beat the Good Ol' Boy network! We, the People, beat the big money interests!

Congratulations to YOU! And thank you!

MeeCiteeWurkor says "YAY!" and has his eye (here and here) on NewsChamber 8's coverage of the result, which is focused on the sad waste of money when precincts where no one will vote have to open anyway.

Steve Roemerman celebrates victory, and salutes KFAQ, the Tulsa Beacon, Councilors Turner and Henderson, and the everyday people who make up "a new community of Tulsa citizens who are standing up for what is right."

Charles G. Hill, the Charles Kuralt of the blogosphere (this week, anyway), writes, "In Tulsa, it's now Bloggers 2, Old World Order 0."

I've already linked to this, but it's too good not to link it again: Dan Paden risks a five-yard penalty for excessive celebration.

Dan Lovejoy is pleasantly surprised by the outcome and disappointed to learn that his bank, Arvest, was "right in the middle of the recall."

Bitweever has a good synopsis of what this recall thing was all about, and the rejection of recall gives him hope for Tulsa's future:

With victories for the councilors in both elections (one by an overwhelming margin), I believe the people of Tulsa stood up, and finally said ‘enough is enough.’ I will be looking forward to seeing how the next city government elections go, and seeing by how wide of margin we can eject Mayor LaFortune from office. ...

Tulsa was more vibrant in the late 90’s when I first moved here out of college, but I’ve seen more and more young former-coworkers move to greener pastures. Let’s be honest here, people: Tulsa’s not doing that well, and the city government is not helping at all. It’s time for some new blood in the government, and the rejection of the recall may be the dawning of a new hope for Tulsa.

(He also gives me way too much credit.)

MadOkie has a recycling idea for those FOR signs.

My cousin, "Mr. Fisher," who Will Blog for Guinness -- who wouldn't? -- says the victory was About (Tulsa) Time. Thanks for the kind words, Cuz!

I'll wrap this up with a reminder from Rick Westcott:

I also want to encourage you to stay informed, stay connected, and continue to help fight for what you believe is right. This was a great victory, but the fight isn't over. The good ol' boy network is not going to just go away. They'll continue to try to do what they've always done. But now, we know who they are. We know the way they operate. And we've proved that THE PEOPLE CAN WIN!!

End zone dance

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I'm really sorry I missed seeing Jim Mautino dance a jig in celebration of his massive landslide victory over the forces of evil. (And yes, they are evil. They proved it by the way they conducted their campaign.) But I enjoyed the verbal victory dance posted by Dan Paden over at No Blog of Significance, and you will, too.

A bouquet from OKC


Thanks to Oklahoma City's Downtown Guy for the perceptive remarks both before and after the recall election. Go check 'em out for yourself.

And The Downtown Guy should be regular reading if you want to go beyond a surfacey understanding of Oklahoma City's recent successes, and get to the nuts and bolts of what is happening there.


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Two big wins - Mautino wins by over a 3 to 1 margin, Medlock 60-40. Photos from the victory parties and comments and analysis later.

If you don't live in the two districts that will be voting in Tuesday's recall elections, one of the best ways you can help is to take some time today to call your friends and acquaintances who live in those districts and encourage them to vote tomorrow against the recall. If you're not sure who among your friends lives in Districts 2 and 6, gather up any directories you have -- from church, school, civic clubs -- look up the people you know well, and check their addresses and zip codes against the boundaries of the two districts.

District 2 is easy to describe -- everything west of the river, plus the area bounded by 61st, Harvard, and the river. District 2 includes all or part of zip codes 74107, 74132, 74136, 74137, and 74171. Here's a map showing District 2's boundaries and precinct numbers.

District 6 is a little more complicated -- everything within the city limits east of Mingo between 36th Street North and 61st Street South, except for Mingo to Garnett from 11th to 41st. Zip codes that overlap with District 6 are 74108, 74116, 74128, 74129, 74134, and 74146. Here's a map showing District 6's boundaries and precinct numbers.

Don't assume that just because you know and understand the issues surrounding recall that everyone else you know does, too. There are a lot of good people in this city that still trust the information they get from the Tulsa Whirled.

Or perhaps they've been too busy with other things to pay close attention. They're aware of controversy at City Hall, and that people are saying bad things about these councilors, but that's about it.

A call from someone a voter knows and trusts saying, "Here's what's going on, and here's why its important that you get out and vote AGAINST the recall," will carry far more weight that a postcard in the mail.

Here's your action point: Think of 10 friends who live in either of the Council districts. Call each of them and encourage them to vote AGAINST recall, and encourage each of them to call 10 of their friends and do the same thing. It won't take you long at all, but it can make an immense difference today.

The deception continues


An awful lot of "respectable" business people have soiled their hands by funding the deceptive phone calls put out by the pro-recall campaign, and here's hoping they'll be soiling themselves in another sense in about an hour's time.

The fake Richard Roberts phone call went out again this afternoon, despite Roberts communicating his displeasure at the misuse of his name to pro-recall leaders.

TulsaNow announces a meeting tonight:

Tonight, July 12th, is a community meeting addressing concerns about Tulsa building demolitions. The meeting will be held from 5:30pm to 7:30pm at Harwelden Mansion, located at 2210 South Main Street. Julie Miner, with the Mayor’s economic team, has agreed to kick start the evening with a 20 minute presentation on the problems related to why Tulsa buildings are being demolished and on solutions to prevent future events from occurring. As a TulsaNow member or friend, we suspect you may share our concerns about the demolition of some of our history. Please feel free to join us this evening if your schedule permits.

Yet another dirty trick: The pro-recall forces sent out a recorded message with a male voice claiming that the League of Women Voters has reconsidered its position and is now for the recall.

To rebut this fraud, League of Women Voters President Mary Jo Neal was on 1170 KFAQ this morning reaffirming the League's call to vote AGAINST recall. Her op/ed piece opposing recall finally appeared in Sunday's Tulsa Whirled, and it is on the League's website.

We've also heard that a call went out claiming to be from the City of Tulsa urging a vote for recall. The City wouldn't take an official position on a recall election.

The fact that the other side is resorting to lies reassures me that they know they are losing, and makes me hopeful that right will prevail, possibly by a wide margin. But in the unlikely event that one or both councilors are recalled, given the frauds being perpetrated by the pro-recall side, the surviving councilors would have a moral obligation to reappoint the recalled councilors to complete their terms of office.

God save our city

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This, a slightly modified version of the second verse of God Save the Queen, has been my prayer throughout this recall campaign. "Knavish tricks" is such an apt phrase.

O Lord our God arise,
Scatter [our] enemies,
And make them fall:
Confound their politics;
Frustrate their knavish tricks;
On thee our hopes we fix; God save us all.

Seems like my prayer is being answered.

Recall: Rally a success


MeeCiteeWurkor has pictures of tonight's anti-recall rally at Helmerich Park which drew a great crowd and filled up all the parking, an especially good showing, since it was threatening to rain.

Because of work, and because of the breaking story about the pro-recall forces' misuse of audio of Richard Roberts, I couldn't get there until about 6:45, after the speechifying was over and people had begun to head home.

Here it comes: The Jim Burdge slimy election eve special.

The pro-recall people are so desperate that they have taken audio of Richard Roberts, President of Oral Roberts University, and edited it to make it sound like he's in favor of the recall, and that message is going out to District 2 voters. In fact, President Roberts has said publicly that recall is wrong.

UPDATE: I just got a phone call from a close associate of President Roberts, who has been in touch with him and confirms that the message does not represent his views nor was it sent with his authorization, and he's trying to find out who to contact to get this thing stopped immediately.


Just about to head off to the Tulsans for Election Integrity rally against the recall at Helmerich Park, 73rd and Riverside. The festivities begin at 5:30 p.m. If you're out there and read BatesLine (and you'd have to be, wouldn't you?) I hope to get to meet you.

For you out of towners, sorry about all the recall stuff -- blame it on the Tulsa Whirled -- but it's the big story right now. If you want to read some interesting non-Tulsa stuff, be sure to check out the latest on Lance Salyers, the Ohio prosecutor who was fired because of his blog.

For you Tulsans, be sure to check out Dan Paden's latest blast at the Whirled.

The roots of this recall are in the results of the 2004 city election, when Tulsans for the first time elected a majority of reform-minded candidates to the City Council. For that reason, I want to direct you to entries I wrote at the time endorsing Chris Medlock and Jim Mautino, explaining the role of the City Council, and talking about the balance of power and the significance of the election:

I think Chris Medlock and Jim Mautino embody the qualities of a good Councilor, and the endorsements I made in 2004 are just as valid today.

Recall: Who is Ken Sellers?


Much has been made of the fact that two major donors to the fight to defeat the recall have Broken Arrow addresses. The implication is that these names represents out-of-town special interests who will benefit financially if Councilors Medlock and Mautino remain in office.

Here's what I know about one of those major donors with a Broken Arrow address. Ken Sellers lives in Broken Arrow, but he is president of Gunnebo Johnson, a manufacturing company that is headquartered at 1240 N. Harvard Avenue in Tulsa. The company makes crane blocks -- as in block-and-tackle used in industry to lift very heavy things. Gunnebo Johnson appears to be at the top of its field internationally, but keeps a low profile in its hometown, despite bringing millions of dollars into the local economy. As far as I can tell, they do no business with the city and wouldn't stand to gain any special benefit from any decision of the city or its boards or commissions.

Ken Sellers hasn't just written a couple of big checks. He has been at every volunteer event in support of Councilors Medlock and Mautino, and today, in the near 100-degree heat, he was out walking neighborhoods on their behalf. Unlike the Sour Grapes Gang, he's not motivated by a decision that didn't go his way, or maneuvering to get special treatment from the city. There's not a trace of bitterness in him. He's impressed by the two councilors and wants to see them stay in office and continue what they're trying to do to make the city a better place.

I've enjoyed getting to know Ken during this campaign, and I'm impressed with his willingness not only to give his money, but his time as well for the sake of the city where his company makes its home.

Tulsa should be proud! Our monopoly daily newspaper is one of eight nominees for the 2005 Mapes Award for Stupidity:

Ooooooo-klahoma, Where the Newspaper’s Head is up its Rear: Fair Use Censorship on Both Sides

The Tulsa World tries to bully blogger Michael Bates into submission, threatening legal action for linking to the World and excerpting articles for criticism, both very much protected under fair use. The blogosphere rose to the occasion, frequently hitting Bates’ tip jar when they weren’t hitting the World upside the head with a clue bat. Legal counsel for the Media Bloggers Association did a little threatening of his own, thus putting the World in its place.

On the flip side, Creators Syndicate tried to threaten a liberal blog, News Hounds, for linking to a Bill O’Reilly column.

The award will be made at the end of the year by Rathergate, a media bias watchdog that was involved in uncovering the forgeries purporting to be from President Bush's superiors about his service in the Air National Guard. The award is named for Mary Mapes, the 60 Minutes II producer who "found" the memos and pushed to get them on the airs.

It shouldn't be forgotten that I wasn't the only blogger or website threatened by the Whirled. Chris Medlock, Tulsans for Election Integrity, and TulsaNow also received similar threats -- see articles here and here. Although blogs and websites supportive of the reformers on the City Council were threatened for merely linking and excerpting for the purpose of criticism, no such threats were received by the group pushing to recall two of those reformers, even though they published the full text of 76 articles from the newspaper, without any comment or criticism, and have not received any threats from the newspaper for their blatant copyright violations, which are still online. In fact, the pro-recall group published the full text of Tulsa Whirled articles in the attack newspapers sent to voters in the affected districts.

As the Rathergate article mentions, there was an outpouring of encouraging support from my fellow bloggers, who recognized that the Whirled's threat is a threat to every blogger. You can read the whole saga, including links to some of the heartening and humorous reaction from the blogosphere, in the Tulsa World category archive.

The latest and greatest example of media bias at the Tulsa Whirled? Robert Lorton, chairman and CEO of the Whirled's parent company (and former publisher of the paper, and daddy of the current publisher), contributed $2,500 to a political action committee which channelled the money directly to a campaign committee supporting the recall of two Tulsa City Councilors. It appears that by giving to the PAC, Lorton intended to avoid exposing his contribution until after the election, but thanks to alternative media -- including this blog -- word of the contribution became public, and the newspaper acknowledged the contribution at the end of last week. The paper has been slow to disclose their owners' other business interests when there is a connection to a political controversy.

Thanks to Rathergate's Kevin Craver for helping to spotlight the Tulsa Whirled's bullying tactics. And even more thanks to Kevin for his service to our country in the U. S. Army. Best wishes, Kevin, as you're demobilized and return to civilian life.

Quiz question: Which Tulsa City Councilor uttered the above words into an open microphone last Thursday night?

I finally got to see part of Thursday night's Tulsa City Council meeting -- the debate and vote on a resolution directing the City Attorney to defend against any attempt by the county to use eminent domain to take city property for the construction of the Bixby Bridge.

Mayor Bill LaFortune was supposedly on board with the resolution, which was to have his name on it as a participant in the resolution. At the last minute, he decided to pull his name off of the resolution, but rather than face accountability for his decision, he sent Clay Bird, his deputy and chief of staff, to the Council to be his proxy fence straddler. Bird's voice and manner had a quality that will be familiar to any parent who has dealt with a kid who's been caught and is trying to talk his way out of trouble. Bird was sent down to the Council to say that the resolution had strong language that was in the best interest of the city, but the Mayor should have more time to look at it. Of course, the Mayor will have time to look at it now that the Council has passed it -- he has 14 days to decide whether to sign the resolution, making it the official policy of the City of Tulsa, or veto it. But that means making a decision that will offend someone.

During the course of his remarks, Bird stated that the Mayor favors the bridge if the necessary infrastructure improvements can be put in place first. That would mean taking resources away from infrastructure needs in other parts of Tulsa in order to grease the skids for this project. The Mayor's position also ignores the harm that the bridge would do to Tulsa's sales tax base by fueling development in Bixby. As with the Owasso water line, the City of Tulsa's dollars would be used to speed up development in the suburbs, rather than facilitating growth within the city limits. Will development happen in the suburbs anyway? Of course, but should Tulsa allocate its assets to support growth and development within the city limits or outside the city limits? The backers of the recall election certainly hope so.

Given the Mayor's readiness to support long-term cheap water contracts and new water lines for the suburbs and now a bridge to the suburbs, you have to wonder if there's truth to the conjecture that the Mayor traded support on these items for suburban support for a downtown Tulsa arena.

From Bird's comments, to those of Councilors Randy Sullivan and Susan Neal, it was apparent that the intent was to delay any vote on this until after the recall election, in hopes that two votes against the bridge would be gone and replaced with two votes for the bridge. It was interesting that the two councilors with the thinnest margins of victory -- Baker and Martinson -- were unexpectedly absent, perhaps so they wouldn't have to go on record as opposing the resolution and supporting the bridge. Roscoe Turner, who had been on vacation with his wife, made a surprise return and suddenly the resolution went from having four certain votes (Christiansen, Henderson, Mautino, Medlock) to five, enough to pass.

All the councilors supporting the resolution did a fine job in speaking and in questioning Bird, but Jack Henderson was especially good at getting right to the point.

Randy Sullivan voted to support the resolution, probably to give himself the chance to move to reconsider the motion at the meeting following the recall election. Sullivan barely uttered a single complete and coherent sentence during his comments. I can remember a time in college when I was exhausted, probably from staying up all night to finish a paper, but still kept an appointment to tutor a graduate student in calculus. I tried to bluff my way through the session but could barely keep my eyes open. I fooled myself into thinking I succeeded, but I must have sounded completely goofy. I thought of that as I watched and listened to Randy Sullivan. He was obviously impaired -- lack of sleep, surely -- but he was trying to hide the fact and no doubt felt he was succeeding.

Susan Neal tried to finesse by "abstaining", but Council Attorney Drew Rees reminded her that by state law, an abstention is effectively a "no" vote. She dropped the pretense and voted "no" on the emergency clause.

Now to answer the question at the beginning of this article: During the course of Council discussion, Chris Medlock spoke, and as he finished he said that if he went down in Tuesday's recall election, he would go down proudly knowing that he stood for the hundreds of citizens who had gathered in opposition to the bridge. As the audience responded with applause, Randy Sullivan said, "Biggest crock of s--- I've ever seen." On the video, you can see Susan Neal, who was presiding as vice chairman, gesture to Sullivan to remind him that his microphone was still live. Medlock's response to Sullivan: "Who's toast now?"

Earlier I reported on a letter mailed by former District 2 City Councilor Darla Hall (also a two-time loser to Chris Medlock) in which she says that she "deliberately stayed out of the recall effort," and says, "When I was supposedly going door to door for signatures on the recall, I was in Germany for cancer treatment." It's interesting that she doesn't deny circulating or distributing petitions, she just denies "leading the charge." According to an eyewitness, Hall handed out recall petitions in her Sunday School class and recruited people to circulate them.

Elsewhere in her letter, Hall claims that during her time on the City Council, no councilor was ever rude to speakers. The truth is that councilors like Vickie Cleveland, who served with Darla Hall, were rude to ordinary citizens who came to speak.

Chris Medlock and Jim Mautino, on the other hand, have never behaved rudely toward speakers. They have politely asked some questions that speakers would have preferred not to answer, which can be an uncomfortable experience, but that doesn't make the person asking the question rude.

If you want an example of a rude City Councilor -- but I'll save that for the next entry.

One of the best antidotes to the garbage being put out by the pro-recall forces is seeing Councilors Jim Mautino and Chris Medlock at a town hall meeting. D. Schuttler has posted video excerpts of Mautino's June 29th town hall meeting, and you can hear the councilor speak about encouraging growth and increasing retail sales within Tulsa's boundaries, and how water lines, annexation and fence lines, and comprehensive planning all fit together to help or hinder development within the city limits. Jim Mautino is passionate about encouraging quality development in east Tulsa, and that means making undeveloped areas within the city limits a higher priority for new infrastructure than the suburbs. See it for yourself. (Hat tip to HFFZ for the link.)


Sorry for the lack of local news analysis today: I was busy yesterday engaged in local news, helping with the anti-recall effort, and then I had some yard work to catch up on, and it left me too tired to blog. (Click the link above to find out how you can help in the final days of the campaign.) More news later today, I hope.

UPDATE (10/25/2005): Lance has taken a hiatus from blogging and taken down his blog for the time being. Unfortunately, shortly after he took his blog off the net, a spammer grabbed the blog name in order to take advantage of its high page rank, so I've had to remove links to his old blog. (You can read about this newfound method of junking up the Internet here.) When Lance returns to the blogosphere, I'll be sure to let you know. In the meantime, you can still listen to the radio interview with Lance, linked below.

UPDATE (12/13/2005): The spam blog was deleted, and his old blog address is back in safe hands, although Google is still caching the spam blog home page. I'm restoring the links in hopes that Google's bots will pick up the new, blank page.

Last week, I told you about Lance Salyers, a blogger who was fired from his job as a prosecutor in Dayton, Ohio, because a colleague recognized herself in an obscurely-written entry he posted on his blog about cowardice, was offended, and set about to get him fired. The colleague in question had declined to prosecute a case involving a violent crime, but was overruled by a panel of prosecutors which included Lance.

Lance will be on the radio today at 11 a.m. Central Time (noon Eastern) on a legal talk show on Dayton's WHIO 1290. You can listen live over the Internet.

UPDATE: I captured the audio of the show, and have uploaded the segments of the show where they spoke to Lance, in MP3 format, in three parts: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3. Part 1 was toward the beginning of the show, then the hosts took listener questions about a variety of topics. One question was directed to Lance -- that's part 2. Part 3 contains most of the discussion about Lance's firing. Unfortunately, I set the timer to cut off recording right at the top of the hour and I missed a bit of the end.)

Earlier this week, Lance responded on his blog to those who argue that he deserved firing, responding particularly to the notion that his blog entry amounted to giving the Montgomery County (Ohio) Prosecutor's Office a public black eye. As I pointed out, Lance had never mentioned where he worked on his blog or anywhere else on the Internet, and Lance says that this was acknowledged when he was fired:

They were not worried about somebody outside the office reading what I wrote because, I was told, "You're right: nobody out in the public is going to read this and know what you're talking about at all." Their problem was that people inside the office read it and knew what I was upset about.

The scary reality is that, when you click the "Publish" button, anyone might read your words, conclude that you're writing about him or her, take offense, and take action. This could happen even if you weren't thinking of the offended party when you wrote. Some people are so skilled at reading between the lines that they see things that aren't there. In some cases, what a reader sees may convict him of his own weaknesses, flaws, and sin, but rather than recognize the voice of conscience working through your words, he casts you as an attacker and seeks to retaliate against the person who (however inadvertently) made him feel bad about himself.

(NOTE: If you are reading this and think that I am writing about you, please be assured that I am not. Is that clear?)

Some people, and evidently Lance's former colleague is one of them, seem to be looking for opportunities to take offense, and if such a person has the ability to hurt your career -- well, that's a risk we take when we publish our opinions.

Lance isn't crying about the injustice of it all. He's busy praying about and preparing for the next steps for his family and his career. But as a part of moving on with his career, he must and will defend against the charge that he was fired for unprofessional behavior.

The only unprofessionalism I see in the situation belongs to two people: The first is the unnamed prosecutor who took such offense to being overruled and felt convicted of her own insecurities when she read Lance's words. The second is Mathias Heck Jr., the Montgomery County Prosecutor, who set aside process and proportion to get rid of Lance, thus depriving his constituents of an able and energetic prosecutor. (You can read Lance's performance reviews, which are linked from his home page.) (See UPDATE at the top of the page.)

This is a bit of pure speculation, based on years of observation of local government machinations around here: Is the defendant in the case in question politically connected? Was the prosecutor who initially declined the case told to "throw the fight" by her superiors? A guilty conscience from complying with such a request might explain the hypersensitivity to what Lance wrote. Lance was successful in persuading his fellow panel members to prosecute -- did this inadvertently upset some well-laid plans? If I were a Montgomery County resident, I'd hope that someone is digging into this story. (UPDATE: Lance responds to this point in the comments.)

Abandoned Tulsa


In reply to my introduction to the historical photo blog Lost Tulsa, reader Adam Kupetsky writes to let me know of a photo blog focusing on abandoned and soon-to-be-demolished buildings in Tulsa.

The Abandoned Tulsa Project is the work of Alison Zarrow. There are photos of the Tulsa Auto Hotel (a 1920s multilevel garage, which is being demolished by Trinity Episcopal Church for -- you guessed it -- a surface parking lot), Lowell Elementary School on North Peoria, the Camelot Inn, the Drexel Building (where the race riot began), the original Temple Israel synagogue near 14th and Cheyenne, the recently-closed Rose Bowl, and Oral Roberts' first building -- the Abundant Life Building near 16th and Boulder. For most of the buildings there are photos of the interior as well as the exterior.

(The demolition of the Tulsa Auto Hotel appears to be part of an ongoing project to demolish all historic Tulsa buildings prior to the 2008 National Preservation Conference.)

It's great that there are two bloggers trying to document some of the fascinating pieces of Tulsa's built environment while it's still here to be seen.

I should mention, because I haven't for a while, Tulsa TV Memories, where webmaster Mike Ransom collects tidbits of Tulsa's pop culture via the site's guestbook (where you'll find comments from Tulsa broadcast media veterans like Lee Woodward and Carl "Uncle Zeb" Bartholomew), then organizes them by topic.

The more the merrier -- there's plenty of undocumented Tulsa history to go around.

The Coalition for Reprehensible Government 2004 has rehashed the Tulsa Tribunal -- tabloids that compared Councilors Jim Mautino and Chris Medlock to Nazis and the killers at Columbine High School. (See stories here, here, and here.) This time they're calling the paper the East Tulsa Times and the West Tulsa Times, and it's in color. This garbage, and the attack phone calls, ought to be pegging the B.S. meter of every voter in the two districts. MeeCiteeWurkor has comments and photos of the tabloid.

It's amazing to see the pro-recall bunch trotting out the losers from the last election to persuade people to vote to oust the winners. Steve Roemerman, who lives in District 6, received a recorded phone call from former Councilor Art Justis, the establishment's rubber stamp, who lost the 2004 council election to Jim Mautino. Justis is said to be in line to be appointed to his old job if the recall against Mautino succeeds.

Meanwhile, they've sent a letter from former Councilor Darla Hall to west Tulsa voters. Darla Hall lost two elections in a row to Chris Medlock, and she, too, may be in line to be appointed by the remaining Councilors to serve out the remainder of the term. Darla's letter is ugly, disingenuous, and misleading. It's amazing to think Darla Hall used to be on the side of ordinary Tulsans -- it's a shame to see her go over to the dark side.

Don't forget -- the fight to stop the recall can use your help any time between now and the election, but especially Saturday morning and Sunday afternoon. Even if you can only spare a couple of hours, it will make a difference. You'll find the details here.

Found: Lost Tulsa


Some time ago, in response to an entry about Bates Elementary School here in Tulsa (now home to Central Assembly of God and Regent Preparatory School), Kevin Walsh, webmaster of the wonderful Forgotten NY, commented, "How about starting a Forgotten Tulsa website?"

I haven't had time to pursue the idea, but I was happy to discover today that another blogger has made a start. Tom Baddley started Lost Tulsa just a couple of weeks ago, and his blog features some of the history and photos of the Northland Shopping Center; a photo of Mayo Meadow Shopping Center's sign; and a photo of the old Safeway at 11th and Denver.

The most recent entry features an animated image of the Sheridan Lanes neon sign -- maybe the best surviving piece of neon art in the city -- and a link to a gallery of interesting signs around Tulsa.

In his first entry, Tom writes, "I hope you find my odd obsession marginally interesting." A lot of us share your odd obsession, and we'll look forward to obsessing along with you. Thanks for taking the initiative.

A few changes


There should be some new content ready for you in the morning, but in the meantime, I'll mention a few changes you may notice.

I've added a header with links to information about the recall election to the top of the page.

I've had to moderate all comments, because of a storm of gambling-related comment spam. If you're registered with TypeKey, you can post your comment immediately, otherwise it'll have to wait until I approve it.

The Blogs for Terri link has been moved to the sidebar, just above the blogroll. Blogs for Terri continues to be updated with news of right-to-life cases similar to Terri Schiavo's.

There are a number of ways you can help defeat the recall of City Councilors Jim Mautino and Chris Medlock. The first is Saturday morning -- meet at Johnson Park, north of 61st on Madison Ave (just east of Riverside Drive), at 8:30 to get instructions and materials as we try to get the word out to the voters. There will also be opportunities on Sunday afternoon. For more details on how you can help between now and Tuesday, HFFZ has all the scoop.

Living on Tulsa Time has some great ideas for signs AGAINST the recall. It's too late for printed signs, but maybe some handpainted signs will make an appearance before Tuesday.

If you need motivation to participate, read Dan Paden's reaction to the list of pro-recall contributors.

Dinner and a movie


Had a kid-free night tonight, so the missus and I saw a movie and had a nice dinner out.

We went to Circle Cinema to see Ladies in Lavender, starring veteran British actresses Judi Dench and Maggie Smith -- a nice little film with both funny and poignant moments, and lots of beautiful music and lovely Cornish seaside scenery. We decided on the spur of the moment to see this movie simply because of the two stars, and it was fun to watch with no idea of how the movie would unfold, without even the exposure to the minor spoilers you can pick up from the briefest synopsis.

As we started to look for a place to eat and wondered what would be open at 9 p.m. in midtown, my wife said she'd like Thai food. We ended up on Brookside (note to out-of-town readers -- that's South Peoria Avenue between 33rd Street and 51st Street) and to our pleasant surprise found that Brookside Lao Thai Restaurant was open until 10. We had the spring rolls, scallops with drunken noodles, and green curry chicken. Delicious, reasonably priced, good service, nice atmosphere.

We took a little stroll to walk off supper. Brookside was surprisingly active at 10:30 on a weeknight. A small crowd was listening to live music in Shades of Brown coffeehouse, Harleys were lined up in front of Crow Creek Tavern, and many other bars and restaurants were open and busy.

We stopped to look at the menu at Table 10 -- which included "Beef on Wick" as a $10 sandwich plate. That's another name for beef on weck, the tasty Buffalo, N. Y., speciality -- thin-sliced roast beef piled on a caraway-and-coarse-salt-encrusted-roll, drenched in au jus and smothered in horseradish -- which I and my sinuses enjoyed frequently during my time in western New York State a year or so ago. (If you're new to BatesLine since February 2004, click on that last link -- it's a nice tribute to the medicinal properties of the sandwich.)

This morning, the Whirled's editorial board attacked Chris Medlock for failing to file an ethics report by Tuesday's deadline. In the same edition, the Whirled quotes Medlock as saying his campaign committee (Medlock for Council) didn't file a report because it had not received any contributions or made any expenditures by the end of the reporting period on June 30, but he would voluntarily disclose his campaign committee's activity to date on Friday.

The same editorial pointed to the massive amount of money raised by the pro-recall campaign as a sign of virtue and insulted supporters of Councilor Mautino:

One thing is clear. Poor Jim Mautino's supporters are stingy. He had to borrow $1,200 of the total of $3,109.52 in contributions he reported.

Well, Whirledlings, most Tulsans -- the ordinary folks whose interests have been ably represented by Jim Mautino -- don't have a lot of disposable income to put into a political campaign. What wealth we do have is tied up in retirement accounts and our homes -- homes that lose value when we have city officials and city trusts that are more interested in developing and improving the suburbs than helping the City of Tulsa prosper.

Jim Mautino and Chris Medlock have worked to bring new business and new development into their districts, within the city limits, to the benefit of the city's coffers. Chris was instrumental in helping land the massive Tulsa Hills retail development at 71st Street and U. S. 75, in the Tulsa city limits, but strategically located to draw customers (and sales tax dollars) from Jenks, Glenpool, and Sapulpa. Jim has worked to get water and sewer extended to unserved areas in his district that have been in the city limits for nearly 40 years, and he's been working to encourage retail development along I-44 in east Tulsa, Oklahoma's most travelled stretch of road. Jim and Chris simply believe we should put Tulsa first.

The contributors to the pro-recall campaign are more interested in developing Owasso and Bixby. Greg Simmons, head of Build PAC Issues, owns Simmons Homes, which is developing seven subdivisions in Owasso, five in Broken Arrow, six in Jenks, and none at all in Tulsa. Where do you think his interests are?

Here's an indication of what's driving the Home Builders Association's involvement in recall. Last year, 2004 was a record year for housing starts in the Tulsa metro area. Yes, even though the Tulsa City Council was controlled by a majority falsely accused of being anti-growth, and despite continued challenges in the local economy, there were more new homes started last year than any year in history. But 88% of those new starts were outside the city limits of Tulsa. (See February's HBA newsletter, in PDF format.) A healthy City of Tulsa doesn't help the bottom line of home builders who are building in the suburbs. In fact, they'd rather see the City decline, because it encourages people to buy their new homes in the suburbs.

I'm happy for these businesses to pursue profits, but voters need to understand that when these businesses give money to oust two good men like Jim Mautino and Chris Medlock, it's all about their profits, not about the best interests of Tulsans.

You read it here first, but the Tulsa Whirled this morning acknowledged that the chairman and CEO of World Publishing Company, Robert E. Lorton, gave $2,500 to Build PAC Issues, which money was given directly to the Coalition for Reprehensible Government 2004, the committee supporting the recall of Tulsa City Councilors Jim Mautino and Chris Medlock. According to the Whirled story, the PAC registered with the City Clerk's office on June 16, and all the money it has raised so far has been contributed to CFRG. According to CFRG's ethics report, Build PAC Issues contributed $13,600 on June 29.

Josh Fowler, the staff director of Build PAC Issues, who is also executive VP of the Home Builders Association of Greater Tulsa, told the Whirled the PAC wasn't set up to conceal contributions. Then why was it so hastily set up, and why has it given its entire pot of money to one campaign? Since there are no maximums for contributions to issues campaigns (which is how a recall campaign is classified), and since corporate contributions are allowed, there is no reason other than concealment -- PAC contributions don't have to be disclosed until after the election on July 31 -- for someone to give money via this PAC rather than directly to the campaign. And why would a newspaper publisher give money through a home builders PAC, except to try to conceal the donation from the public? (What's that Bible verse on the Whirled masthead? "Publish and set up a standard; publish, and conceal not.")

I wrote earlier that the PAC provided a loophole to avoid the intent of the law that campaign contributions be disclosed before an election, but if the PAC exists only for the purpose of supporting this issue, it must follow the same reporting rules as CFRG and Tulsans for Election Integrity. Enforcing that provision will require someone, and it probably needs to be a registered voter in District 2 or 6, to file a complaint with the District Attorney that Build PAC Issues has violated 51 O.S. 314 and 315.

In other recall news:

District 6 voters have been getting calls claiming that it's not important to show up to vote against recall on Tuesday because Jim Mautino is retiring anyway. That's an utter lie, obviously intended to depress turnout among Jim's supporters.

Bixby bridge meetings today


I'm sorry I haven't been giving the Bixby Bridge issue the attention it deserves. There have been a lot of developments in the last couple of weeks, and more will be happening today:

The Tulsa County Commission will meet to discuss the Bixby toll bridge at 9:30 a.m. Thursday in Room 315 of the County Courthouse, 500 S Denver Ave, downtown.

The Tulsa City Council last week agreed on a consensus to ask, pretty-please-with-sugar-on-it, City Attorney Alan Jackere to issue an opinion on whether Tulsa County has the power to condemn land owned by the City of Tulsa and turn it over to the private developers building the Bixby toll bridge. (You would think that the City Attorney would be aggressively defending the City's prerogatives against encroachment from the County. You would think that the City Attorney -- appointed and unaccountable to the voters -- would eagerly cooperate with the City Council -- the people we elect to represent us -- but you would be mistaken.)

Last week, south Tulsa State Representatives Fred Perry and Pam Peterson submitted similar questions to the Attorney General:

May a county condemn (or acquire by the use of eminent domain) real property that is owned by municipality for the public good?

May a municipality condemn (or acquire by the use of eminent domain) real property that is owned by a county for the public good?

A municipality owns real property and has dedicated and set apart that real property to be used for the good of the public as a park. The county in which the municipality is located believes that such real property should be used for the good of the public as a road. Given the competing public interests of the municipality and county for the same piece of real property and the fact that the municipality owns such real property, can the county condemn (or acquire by the use of eminent domain) said real property from the municipality?

It will be interesting to see the AG's response, as it will pretty much make moot anything Alan Jackere has to say about the matter.

This week, the City Council will vote on a resolution opposing the Bixby bridge, and you are urged to show up and voice your support. Meeting is at City Hall (south of 4th between Denver and Houston Avenues) at 6 p.m.

Michael Covey, spokesman for the South Tulsa Citizens Coalition, which is fighting the bridge, will be on 1170 KFAQ this morning at 7:40. Last week, the South Tulsa Citizens Coalition filed suit against the County Commission. The suit alleges that the County Commission violated 19 O.S. 381 by entering into an agreement with Infrastructure Ventures, Inc., (IVI) without putting the matter to a vote of the people. The suit further alleges that the County Commission's agreement with IVI violates the Public Competitive Bidding Act of 1974 (61 O.S. 101 through 138). And because the commissioners exceeded their authority in so acting, they are being sued individually as well.

At last week's Council meeting, Covey pointed out that there is a deed restriction on the city park land which the County wants for the bridge. If it won't be used for a park, it must be used for some other charitable purpose, which presumably wouldn't include a for-profit toll bridge.

Goin' away party


I asked for, but didn't receive, any Western Swing music on CD for Father's Day -- it's hard to find in the stores -- so when I was in Best Buy in Little Rock last week, I looked to see if they had anything interesting. The choice was between "Bob Wills: For the Last Time" and Asleep at the Wheel's "Ride with Bob". Hmm. The former seemed a little too sad to bear thinking about -- it was recorded in December 1973 just before (the very day) Bob Wills suffered a stroke and lapsed into a coma, in which he lingered until his death in 1975. The latter -- well, the playlist includes some of the great Texas Playboys hits, and I love Asleep at the Wheel, but the use of big-name country stars (and some crossovers from other genres, like the Squirrel Nut Zippers -- which name makes me wince) seemed too gimmicky.

Nevertheless, I picked "Ride with Bob". A full review will have to wait, but I'm glad I did. It brightened the long drive home, and it's getting a lot of play since I got back. (My son has been thoroughly amused at dad wearing headphones and singing along to "Cherokee Maiden", which features some clever lyrics and catchy drumwork.) Most of the selections struck the right balance between faithfulness to the spirit of the original recordings and bringing something fresh to the music. It reflects the tremendous respect that the guest artists have for Bob Wills.

The surprise of the album was the final selection: Willie Nelson, backed by the Manhattan Transfer, singing "Goin' Away Party." The song was written by Cindy Walker, whose 70-year-and-counting songwriting career includes the aforementioned "Cherokee Maiden," "Dream Baby," and that classic of unconfessed, unrequited love, "You Don't Know Me." The song was written for the aforementioned "For the Last Time" album.

(Here's a touching account of a 2004 tribute to Cindy Walker -- at age 85, she sang and danced, too. Here are some photos of the event.)

The song opens with a bit of lush Santo-and-Johnny-esque guitar, a pair of melancholy fiddles, and then the ooohs of the Manhattan Transfer bring in Willie's lead vocal.

I don't always enjoy Willie Nelson as a vocalist, but it was his hit with Irving Berlin's "Blue Skies" and his "Stardust" album that introduced me to the Great American Songbook, and he brings the same sensibility to this piece. The cracks and trembles in his voice fit the heartbreaking lyrics:

I'm throwin'
A goin' away party,
A party for a dream of mine.
So put me somewhere off in a corner
With a glass and bottle of your party wine.

Don't worry --
It won't be a loud party
I feel too low to get too high.
It's just a sad goin' away party
For a dream that I'm tellin' goodbye.

I'm throwin'
A goin' away party,
A party for a dream of mine.
Nobody's comin' but a heartache
And some tears will drop in now most any time.

Don't worry --
It won't be a loud party.
Dreams don't make noise when they die.
It's just a sad goin' away party
For a dream that I'm tellin' goodbye.

Goodness! You can almost feel yourself choking back the sobs -- "Dreams don't make noise when they die." Which is true.

My kids are too blessedly, blissedly young to understand what this song is about. I wish I still were. The other day they saw a "Feats of Strength" demonstration at the library -- a secularized, motivational version of "The Power Team". The speaker bent an inch-thick bar of steel in his teeth, broke through some bricks with his fist, among other feats designed to illustrate concepts like perseverance and resisting peer pressure.

My son told me about one feat involving a tug-of-war: The point was to hold on to your dreams as other people try to snatch them away from you. I was afraid for a moment that my son might ask me what my dreams are, and I didn't want to have to tell him that I don't have any anymore. I have high hopes for him and his sister, of course, but I am at the point in my life where my course is pretty well locked in from here on out. Life at 41 is about fulfilling responsibilities, not dreaming of possibilities, and the few flights of fancy I've allowed myself have crashed and burned. It's safer not to dream, and eventually, mercifully, you forget how. A song like "Goin' Away Party" makes the disillusionment a little easier to take, knowing you're not the only one who's said farewell to your dreams.

Quick round-up


I have been busy today with work and with staving off a barrage of comment spam. The spammers were smart enough to see through my latest strategem, but to its programmers' credit, Movable Type seems to keep up with the most current list of open proxies and holds comments from questionable sources for my approval. (Unfortunately, a couple of real commenters often turn up as false positives -- sorry, W. and John Owen Butler -- I approve your stuff as soon as I see it. Remember, you can always bypass comment moderation if you're registered with TypeKey.)

(Speaking of blog technology, after a few glorious days of actually working, BlogRolling's recently updated feature seems to be broken again.)

Here's a quick round-up of items of interest elsewhere.

Marsupial Mom has started telling the story of her journey from the Word of Faith movement to Calvinism, through the influence of a book and a blogger. I like what she says about Reformed theology: "It's like drinking Folgers all your life and then discovering Starbucks for the first time. At first sip it's a little strong, but once you get used to it, there is no going back." Indeed -- writing that once seemed profound now seems weak and watery. (We go to church with MM and her husband, Swamphopper, and it's always a highlight of the day to chat with them after Sunday services.)

The Downtown Guy writes that Oklahoma City is simplifying zoning downtown to encourage development. The plan is to reduce the number of zoning districts covering downtown and near downtown from 15 to two -- a downtown core district and a downtown traditional district. Please note -- the reformed ordinance establishes design criteria for downtown, and a Downtown Design Review Committee to review every development proposal in the rezoned area. The aim of the design criteria is to ensure that new downtown development is urban and pedestrian-friendly.

John Hinderaker of Power Line takes a contrarian view of the Kelo decision in a column in the Weekly Standard. Wish I had the time to respond in detail -- I think he misunderstands what motivates the opposition to the use of eminent domain for economic development. For one thing, I haven't seen anyone write anything trashing Pfizer in making the case for the plaintiffs in Kelo, but Hinderaker writes that the "Pfizer-bashing started at the top," beginning with Justice Thomas's dissent.

Speaking of Kelo, David Sucher of City Comforts continues to serve up a lot of food for thought on eminent domain for economic development, including an account of the phenomenon of "blight by condemnation", and word of the town of Cheektowaga's (that's near Buffalo, New York) plan to "revitalize" a working-class neighborhood by demolishing it.

Christianity Today's weblog has many links to stories about Billy Graham's overly-generous words for Bill and Hillary Clinton. Franklin Graham says his dad was just joking, and spokesman Mark DeMoss says, "I would say virtually everybody present in the park in New York would have taken it largely in jest." Well, no.

These compilation posts always end up being a lot more work than I planned on, but it is fun to see the bizarre juxtaposition of words and phrases in the Technorati tags at the end of the post. (My Technorati tags still aren't being picked up by Technorati, by the way. Are you listening, Technorati?)

I've got a lot of other things to accomplish tonight, so I will be parceling this out as I get time. I will be on 1170 KFAQ tomorrow morning at 7:10 a.m. to talk about the list.

So here is part 1 of some observations and identifications from the list of donors to the Coalition for Reprehensible Government 2004 (CFRG). (Thanks to meeciteewurkor for hot-linking some of the names in the list to further information.)

The biggest donor is Build PAC Issues, which shares an address with the Home Builders Association of Greater Tulsa, 11545 E. 43rd Street. Why didn't the last-minute Build PAC donation of $13,600 come directly from the Home Builders, since there are no contribution limits and no restriction on corporate contributions? My guess is that this is a vehicle for concealing contributions. The PAC won't have to report contributions for the quarter until July 31, so we won't know where that money really came from until long after the election is over. This is a loophole in the state ethics laws that needs to be fixed. A PAC contributing to a campaign should be required to report contributions and expenditures on the same schedule as the campaign, so that voters can know who is funding a candidate or an issue.

Next on the list is Ameristar. This donation appears to be pure vendetta against Councilor Jim Mautino. Ameristar was dumping dirt and reshaping the terrain in the Mingo Creek floodplain, and Mautino insisted that the company provide the legally required compensatory storage to protect downstream property owners against flooding. Recall appears to be, in part, revenge by Ameristar for not getting its way immediately. If there's a theme to the list of contributions, most are expressions of toddleresque rage at not always getting one's way at City Hall.

Next we have the Greater Tulsa Association of Realtors (GTAR), which gave a single contribution of $5000 last October, one of the earliest contributions. Word is that there was considerable dissension among the membership about the contribution, which may be why GTAR is one of the few larger contributors that didn't cough up again this spring. Or perhaps they just found a way to give in a less obvious fashion. Northeast Oklahoma Real Estate Services is a subsidiary of GTAR -- NORES runs the Multi-List System (MLS) in the Tulsa area -- and it gave $2,000 on May 26.

The Commercial Real Estate Association of Tulsa was incorporated in 1998 by Herbert Haschke, treasurer of CFRG, David Cox, and land use attorney Lou Reynolds -- the member of the water board whose reappointment was initially rejected by the City Council before Sam Roop's defection.

Paula Marshall-Chapman is CEO of the Bama Companies and was a member of the board of the Tulsa Metro Chamber until forced to resign in order to remain on the City's Economic Development Commission, which oversees the Chamber's economic development contract with the city. (The resignation was forced by an Attorney General's opinion which forbids board members of an organization to oversee public funds going to that organization.) Marshall-Chapman also wrote an op-ed last fall defending the Tulsa Whirled in the controversy over its tardily-disclosed financial interest in Great Plains Airlines.

Associated Builders and Contractors PAC gave its $4,000 contribution back in November -- yet another contribution from a developer-related individual or organization, which accounts for well over half of the contributions to the pro-recall campaign.

Monsignor Julius Jia Zhi Guo, the Roman Catholic bishop of Zhengding, Red China, was jailed by government agents yesterday for the sixth time in the last 18 months. (Via Catholic World News, via Christian Persecution Blog.)

Government officials had warned the churchman in advance of the arrest and had ordered him to tell people that he was being taken away for medical tests. Msgr Jia is currently not ill, nor is he in need of any medical treatment.

Msgr Jia has been a bishop since 1980 and has already spent 20 years in prison. His is one of the most vivacious dioceses in Hebei, the area with the highest concentration of Catholics, some 1.5 million. He lives almost constantly under house arrest. Not being recognized by the government, he is technically not allowed to exercise his ministry. For this reason, prior to important religious celebrations (Christmas, Epiphany, Easter, Pentecost, the Feast of the Assumption), he is taken into custody and forced to undergo indoctrination sessions, to prevent celebrations and gatherings by underground Christians. At other times, such as important Party meetings or visits from foreign heads of state and other prominent figures, he is segregated to some secret location. In 1999, to thwart his activities in evangelization, the police tried to close down an orphanage for abandoned and handicapped children. Authorities, however, had to backtrack on their intent, due to international pressure. The bishop shares his home with some 100 disabled children whom he supports at his own expense.

China has an officially recognized Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association which is controlled by the state and is not in communion with Rome. Since China is a totalitarian state, anything it doesn't ultimately control is illegal, so Catholics loyal to the Vatican must operate underground. The Chicoms have also set up an official Protestant organization known as the Three-Self Patriotic Movement. (That's not a trinitarian reference -- it refers to self-governing, self-supporting, self-propagating, i.e., no foreign involvement or influence.) Evangelicals who operate outside the officially recognized church are also subject to persecution.

The need to persecute and suppress betrays the ultimate weakness of Chinese Communism. How strong can a system be if it feels threatened by the existence of an orphanage?

Thank God and pray for Bishop Jia and for all those in Red China who suffer for the sake of Christ.

The Coalition for Responsible Government 2004, the committee supporting the recall election next Tuesday, filed their ethics report at the last possible moment today, reporting $85,059 in contributions, and $65,884 in expenditures through June 30. Contributions of more than $200 made up $79,149 of the total, broken down by donor as follows:

Build PAC Issues13600
Home Builders Association of Greater Tulsa10150
Greater Tulsa Association of Realtors5000
Commercial Real Estate Association of Tulsa5000
Paula Marshall-Chapman5000
Associated Builders and Contractors PAC4000
Wm. E. Manley4000
Arvest Bank3000
Robert C. Poe3000
Northeast Oklahoma Real Estate Services2000
Rock Hill LLC2000
John A. Brock 1500
B R W Trucking1000
Anchor Stone Company1000
Ray Miller1000
B. R. Hutson, Inc.1000
W. W. Enterprises, Inc.1000
Corporate Realty Advisors LLC699
John D. Benjamin600
TDC Inc.500
Next Generation Homes, LLC500
D. L. Vincent500
Houchin Electric Co., Inc.500
Herbert P. Haschke, Jr.500
R. S. Looney500
Jarvis, Inc.400
George and Phyllis Dotson400
Building Systems of Tulsa, Inc.300
William M. Brumbaugh250
C. E. Patterson250

The first contribution was by Bixby resident and former Tulsa City Councilor John D. Benjamin -- $100 on October 7, 2004. The largest contribution was also the most recent -- $13,600 from Build PAC Issues on June 29, 2005. The address of Build PAC Issues is 11545 E. 43rd Street, which is also the address of the Home Builders Association of Greater Tulsa.

Look for more analysis of the names and numbers later tonight.

On the radio in a few hours


My regular Monday morning chat with Michael DelGiorno on 1170 KFAQ was postponed until Tuesday this week because of the holiday, so tune in this morning at 6:40 CDT, or listen online live or every three-and-a-half hours thereafter for the next 24. (You'll have to download the Surfer Network application the first time you try to listen.) Undoubtedly the recall election will be the foremost topic, but I expect we'll also be talking about the surprise meeting to extend the airport noise abatement program, looking ahead to the ethics report for the pro-recall forces, due by close of business today, last week's Bartlett v. LaFortune poll, and, if there's time, some observations from my family's visit last week to Little Rock, and some things we can learn from that city. I also hope to introduce the radio audience to prosecutor Lance Salyers, whose firing last week is another example of the cost of standing up for what's right.

Speaking of Lance, be sure to follow his blog for the latest developments. And be sure to read what Charles G. Hill of Dustbury, Joel of On the Other Foot, and Don Singleton had to say about the situation.

(UPDATE 10/25/2005: Lance has taken down his blog, so I've removed the link.)

I'd write more, but we spent the evening at Bell's Amusement Park for their Independence Day celebration. As we left the park after the fireworks had ended, the four-year-old said, "I just can't get enough of Bell's Amusement Park on the 4th of July." She rode every ride she was tall enough to ride -- including the ferris wheel, which bugs Mommy because of heights, and Himalaya, which gives Daddy the whiplash. The eight-year-old finally agreed to a trip on Zingo, the park's wooden roller coaster. It left him laughing, but not enough to want to go again just yet. He took countless rides on Pharoah's Fury and Super Round-Up, and it's a good thing that he's now big enough to ride by himself, so that Dad doesn't have to go every single time. (There's a lot to be said for having kids when you're still young enough to keep up with them.) The fireworks show was spectacular, and it was fun to see it close up, close enough to have some of the fireworks debris drift down on us. After the fireworks, we let the kids have one last ride on Himalaya and the Scrambler before heading for home. For bedtime reading, I read the Declaration of Independence to the eight-year-old, and he was inspired enough to change his plan to listen to Riders in the Sky sing "Jingle, Jangle, Jingle" on endless repeat all night, and instead has the musical "1776" in the CD player.

The Discoshaman/TulipGirl family is celebrating Independence Day in America this year for the first time in several years. Discoshaman writes about how they celebrated, and TulipGirl has pictures.

I love the fact that they wanted to include in their observances a viewing of the movie "Red Dawn" -- a film we referred to at the time as the official movie of the 1984 Republican National Convention. In the film, Patrick Swayze and C. Thomas Howell (fresh from gang battles on the mean streets of Tulsa) take on a Soviet/Cuban invasion of small-town America. My favorite moment in the movie is when the Cuban commander orders his men to round up all the gun owners in the county. How does he know who these gun owners are? From the registration records collected by an American government that didn't respect the Second Amendment. (The hamhandedness of that plot point shouldn't distract from the fact that invading tyrants would do exactly that.)

Discoshaman also lets us know how the lefty intellectualoids are observing the holiday and uses a unique illustration, no doubt meaningful to his four boys, to teach the relationship between rights and responsibilities.

Happy Independence Day! In honor of the day, take a few minutes to thank the men and women who help to keep our nation independent, free, and secure. Through the America Supports You website you can send along your message of thanks and appreciation. The site has information on other ways you can provide help and encouragement to the troops and their families.

Phillip Johnson has a cool photo for the day, snapped by his wife Darlene during their trip to London -- red, white, and blue over Big Ben. Go check it out.

If you assumed that the "Reverend" Fred Phelps was a right-wing Republican, you assumed wrong:

Rev. Phelps has run in numerous Democratic primary elections for governor of the state of Kansas in 1992, 1994, and the last time in 1998, when he came in last with 15,000 votes out of a total of over 103,000 votes cast, or 15%.

Phelps and family campaigned for Bill Clinton in 1992 and was invited to and attended Clinton's inaugural ball in 1993.

Hat tip to Karol, who says she's never been happier to find out someone is not a Republican. Me, too.

UPDATE (10/25/2005): Lance has taken a hiatus from blogging and taken down his blog for the time being. Unfortunately, shortly after he took his blog off the net, a spammer grabbed the blog name in order to take advantage of its high page rank, so I've had to remove links to his old blog. (You can read about this newfound method of junking up the Internet here.) When Lance returns to the blogosphere, I'll be sure to let you know.

This last week, the good people of Dayton, Ohio, lost a skilled prosecutor, but Dayton's loss may be Tulsa's gain.

Fighting for justice and truth is a costly thing. You face opposition not only from those who are trying to conceal their wrongdoing and escape the just consequences of their deeds, but also from those who believe the battle is too risky and not worth fighting. The phrase, "Pick your battles," is too often a coded way of saying, "Don't ever fight." The latter kind of opposition can be more demoralizing than the former, because it comes from those who are ostensibly on your side.

At the international level, President Bush has taken grief from our Western "allies" for taking the war on terror directly to the enemies of civilization. Our "allies" aren't pro-terror, but they're unwilling to take the decisive action necessary to defeat those who threaten their survival.

At the Capitol, the effort to get just judges appointed to Federal courts has been undermined by those Republican senators unwilling to consider the "nuclear option" -- hiding behind comity and precedent, they seem most afraid of getting a tongue-lashing from the editorial board of the Washington Post.

At Tulsa's City Hall, we've seen the price being paid by Councilors Jack Henderson, Roscoe Turner, Jim Mautino, and Chris Medlock, and by their families, particularly by Mautino and Medlock, who face a recall election a week from Tuesday. Make no mistake: The purpose of the recall election is punitive, to make men like Mautino and Medlock pay so dearly for trying to serve the interests of Tulsa's citizens that other men and women of integrity will not seek to serve on the Council. The people behind recall want a Council that is cowed and compliant. Mautino and Medlock face fierce opposition, but it's my own experience that what can be most discouraging is the lack of fight in some of one's allies, who urge playing it safe.

For some in public life, the time for political courage is always beyond the next election, and political capital is always to be hoarded. Real leaders like George W. Bush and the four reformers on the Tulsa City Council understand that God has given them their positions and powers for a purpose. Like Queen Esther, they have been placed where they are "for such a time as this," and they are intent on doing as much good as possible with the time and resources they have for those they are sworn to serve.

Blogger Lance Salyers saw the "play it safe" principle operating where he worked, and he lost sleep over it, because playing it safe where he worked can mean leaving a violent criminal free to harm someone else. In his entry, "I Hate Cowardice," Lance compared the timidity he witnessed to the unfaithful servant in Jesus' parable of the talents:

There's the pitiful servant, having done nothing with the opportunity that the Master gave him, and all he can come up with as his reason for failing to act? -- "I was afraid." Is there a more lame excuse? Probably, but from the perspective of where I am tonight, I'll take anything over being afraid to lose. Such a weak way to approach the job of doing what's right.

Citing Theodore Roosevelt's famed "in the arena" quote, Lance wrote:

Sadly, the work of doing Justice sometimes falls into the laps of "timid souls," who not only shrink from the hard and uncertain work of Duty, but have the audacity to wrap themselves up in an air of self-congratulatory smugness at their exercise of "responsible caution." And while the halls of the ivory tower bear witness to the solemn nods of other, like-minded souls with their reinforcing pronouncements of "Yes, it had to be done. Nothing you could do," the Small, the Weak, and the Victimized are left to fight Evil alone. Some fight, too: unfair to start, now Evil has the added upper-hand of having had the Powers That Be tell its Victim in no uncertain terms "You're not worth fighting for."

Lance posted that entry early Tuesday morning. On Wednesday, Lance Salyers was told he was being fired for posting that on his blog. Lance had been an assistant prosecutor in the criminal division of the Montgomery County, Ohio, Prosecutor's Office. Although Lance did not identify any specifics of the situation that inspired what he wrote and had never identified his place of employment on his blog or anywhere else on the Internet that I can find, a colleague recognized herself as the inspiration for the entry, took offense, and set about to get Lance fired.

Lance's situation escaped the notice of Dayton media, but it made this Sunday's New York Daily News column about blogs:

Last Monday, he said, he got a police report in preparation to review a prior decision to not press charges against an alleged rapist.

In investigating the refusal, he said, he called the prosecutor who had turned down the case. She said there was "not enough evidence to convict," Salyers wrote to me in an E-mail. ...

Salyers told me that the day his "I Hate Cowardice" entry appeared, his panel voted to take on the twice-refused case - and the case's original prosecutor was infuriated.

Lance contacted me by e-mail Thursday night, and we spoke by phone the following day. He had been assigned to a review panel -- a routine step when a decision is made not to prosecute a case -- and his research for that responsibility led to the events described above.

Since his firing, Lance has updated his blog, Ragged Edges, several times with the latest developments. A Dayton, Ohio, TV station got wind of his dismissal and interviewed him for a story that aired late Friday evening. He's also been under attack from a few cowardly anonymous commenters, on his blog and elsewhere, claiming to present inside information that discredits him. He has responded to the attacks with class and forthrightness. To back up his assertion that he had an unblemished record, he has posted every one of his performance reviews from his five years in the Montgomery County Prosecutor's Office. (They're linked from his home page, on the sidebar, under the heading, "The Paper Trail.") (See UPDATE at top of this entry.)

I first became familiar with Lance and his blog by way of his comments on some theological threads on another blog. He struck me as someone passionate about the truth, who could make his points firmly and skillfully without being disagreeable. I got the same impression from his blog. His performance reviews back up that impression.

That someone with such an exemplary record would be canned for that blog entry suggests to me that something else was at work. The colleague who was offended by the decision to overturn her call evidently had enough pull with her superiors to get her revenge. It might have been reasonable to ask Lance to remove the post from his blog, but that option was never offered to him. He was told he could resign or be fired. Montgomery County's voters ought to wonder at the way the situation was handled.

As I wrote at the start, Dayton's loss could be Tulsa's gain. Lance has connections to Oklahoma -- he went to Oklahoma Baptist University and married a Tulsa girl, a graduate of Memorial High School. He and his wife had been thinking they'd like to move back so their baby girl could grow up near her grandparents. I think Tulsa County residents would be blessed to have Lance working for them to put the bad guys behind bars, and I think he'd fit in well with District Attorney Tim Harris's team. In fact, he reminds me a lot of Tim -- a devout Christian and someone willing to take risks to do the right thing.

Of course, if Lance were to imitate Tim Harris thoroughly, he might challenge his former boss in the next election. Tulsans will recall that Harris ran against then-DA Chuck Richardson and Judge Ned Turnbull in the 1998 Republican primary. Richardson was eliminated in the primary, and with significant grass-roots support Harris prevailed in the runoff. Montgomery County Prosecutor Mathias Heck, Jr., a Democrat, doesn't appear to be up for re-election until 2008, but the voters of that county, which has a murder rate twice the national average, might just prefer to have their prosecutor's office led by someone like Lance Salyers, who believes that it's worth taking risks to see to it that evildoers are punished.

I'll be keeping Lance and his family in my prayers, and I hope you will, too. I trust that God has bigger and better things in store for him.

Dan Paden takes apart this morning's Tulsa Whirled editorial endorsing the recall of Tulsa City Councilors Chris Medlock and Jim Mautino. Click the link and read Dan's entry, "Pukoid Postings at the Whirled". I was going to respond to the Whirled's dreck point-by-point, but Dan's piece is so well-put it doesn't seem quite as urgent. (I've been busy with some behind-the-scenes efforts to help Chris and Jim.) Go read the whole thing.

Oh, and don't expect the Whirled to look into this, but there are reports that the Lortons have contributed $2,500 to the Homebuilders PAC, to be passed through to the Coalition for Reprehensible Government 2004's (CFRG) campaign in favor of recall. By using the PAC to launder the contribution, the Lorton name wouldn't appear on CFRG's list of contributors (assuming the list is even turned in on time). Since the Whirled didn't bother to disclose its interest in Great Plains Airlines until very late in the game, and as far as I know never declared their owner's connection with F&M Bank, don't expect that they'll call attention to any backdoor contributions to the pro-corruption forces.

Just learned about this today:

Thursday night, after quietly posting notice 48 hours in advance, the board of the Tulsa Airport Improvements Trust awarded a contract for the next phase of the Federally-funded airport noise abatement project to Cinnabar Service Company, the same company that had the contract for earlier phases. Because of the late notice, Mayor Bill LaFortune, an ex officio member of the board, could not be present, and his designee, Allen LaCroix, Chief Operating Officer of the City, was not permitted to vote on the contract in his stead. Carl Clay, a relatively new appointee to the TAIT board, and a watchdog over airport operations, could not be present. Charles Sublett, another recent appointee to the TAIT board, abstained from the vote on the contract. The meeting was scheduled to coincided with the Tulsa City Council meeting so that even if councilors learned about it in time, they would be unable to attend. Because it was a special meeting, the meeting was not taped for broadcast on TGOV (Cox Cable channel 24).

So by a 2-0 vote, another $7.8 million (mainly Federal funds, with a small component of locally-collected passenger service fees) was awarded to a company whose principals also happen to be the principals in Infrastructure Ventures, Inc. (IVI), the company seeking to build a toll bridge across the Arkansas River to undeveloped land in the west part of the City of Bixby. Here is a chart of the connections between the players in Cinnabar, IVI, and county government.

The money for this project comes from FAA grants and is to be used either to buy out homeowners in the area affected by airport expansion or to remodel homes to provide sound insulation. The website for the project is called homequiethome.com, and the home page has a description of the project and its history. One homeowner in the affected area has documented the sloppy, haphazard work that has been done by Cinnabar and its contractors. You'll find his collection of documents, photographs, and videos here. The concern is that Cinnabar is taking a large sum of money for insulating each house (in some cases more than the house itself is worth), contracting on the cheap to have the work done, and pocketing the difference.

Beyond the concern about the performance of the noise mitigation project itself, the timing of the award is interesting, just as work is set to get underway on the Bixby Bridge. Might the contract award to Cinnabar be used to provide a bit of working capital for IVI? I hope someone is keeping an eye on this, and I hope that once the full complement of the TAIT board is present safeguards will be put in place to provide a full accounting of funds supplied to Cinnabar and to prevent a minority of the board from awarding such a major contract, particularly at a hastily-called special meeting.

I hope the FAA is paying close attention, too.

UPDATE: The amount of the program extension was $7.8 million, not $3 million as I previously wrote. A small portion, either 5% or 10% -- I hear conflicting numbers -- is paid from locally-collected passenger service fees; the remainder comes from FAA grants.

It's been way, way too long since I posted kid photos. Click on the thumbnails to see the full-sized image:

Here's the eight-year-old getting gang tackled by the German Shepherd puppies at Robinwood Farms.

(More after the jump.)

Backblogged again


There is a pile of stuff I need to write about here, but I'm not going to get to it tonight. Besides the Little Rock trip, a big part of my week has been spent providing assistance to Tulsans for Election Integrity as we enter the final 10 days before the recall election. (Don't forget about tomorrow morning's rally and volunteer event -- Walk and Talk against the Recall -- getting organized from 8:30 to 9:00 a.m., at Johnson Park, 61st and Riverside.) And I've still got some family stuff to take care of before heading off to bed.

There's one story in particular that I want to tell you about, but I want to take the time to get it right. It's about someone who was, I believe, wrongfully fired for something he wrote in his blog. Stay tuned -- more about that tomorrow.

Those are familiar words during tornado season in Oklahoma, but I'm talking about a cellar of another sort. Via Dustbury and reader Joey Baumgartner, I learn of a new Tulsa blogger, Matt Galloway, whose blog is called The Basement, and after just a month in business, he's already off to a great start. He's been poring over stats from BlogPulse, and he's passed along some interesting observations from his dad, Bethany, Oklahoma, City Manager Dan Galloway, on the proposed flag-burning amendment and on the relationship between eminent domain for economic development and Oklahoma's municipal finance structure, which is almost entirely dependent on locally-collected sales taxes. Dan says, in a nutshell, if you don't want cities to condemn neighborhoods to build shopping centers, don't make cities rely on sales tax collected within their boundaries to fund municipal services.

Welcome to the blogosphere, Matt!

My four-year-old daughter is a fount of ideas and plans.

She would like to see our church's pews equipped with a drink delivery device. You press a button and up pops a tasty beverage.

Her other idea would help if you've had too many tasty beverages. Walls would rise around you and the pew would open to reveal a commode, so you wouldn't have to leave the sanctuary if you needed to go.

And some people think that cushions on the pew are excessively luxurious.

Don't you imagine that they're already working on this sort of thing in Japan?

Tulsans for Election Integrity (TFEI) today filed their C-1 form, Campaign Contributions and Expenditures Report, with the Tulsa City Clerk's office. The shadowy pro-recall group, Coalition for Reprehensible Government 2004, has not yet filed. The law that controls ethics reporting for municipal, county, and school board elections is the Political Subdivisions Ethics Act, Oklahoma Statutes Title 51, Chapter 6 (sections 301 to 325). 314 and 315 are the sections dealing with reporting of contributions and expenditures.

TFEI, devoted to defeating the recall attempt against Councilors Jim Mautino and Chris Medlock, has raised a total of $12,148.00 and spent $2,585.90. $8,050.00 in donations came in contributions of $200 or more:

$2,500: Virginia Brubaker, Kenneth and Kyong Cha Sellers.

$1,000: Pat and Hughes Coston.

$500: Lloyd Noble, Ivan and Helen Ellsworth.

$250: Libby Nash.

$200: Dale and Kathy Whiteis, Patrick Kuykendall, Willingham Rentals, Richard and Lisa Lowry.

Easily amused

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The kids' latest amusement: Changing their Windows XP profile names to unpronouncable strings of symbols and letters. The scary thing is that the four-year-old was the first to figure out how to do this. Scarier still: Daddy, the computer professional, hasn't yet figured out how to do this.

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