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.


Sean said:

I say we hold a "Burning of the Whirled" It is amazing how they think that people actually READ THE PAPER to get THEIR opinion...if they would wise up and do what they are SUPPOSE to do which is REPORT the news..maybe I would subscribe to them again...umm maybe...

Mike said:

The ONLY way I would ever become a subscriber again to the Tulsa World is if and when they begin to resemble the late, great Tulsa Tribune.

Kevin Carson said:

Same thing was an issue in Fayetteville in the '90s. Several seats on the city board were at-large. One anti-cockroach maverick on the board pointed out that all those at-large members lived within a few blocks of each other in the same rich neighborhood.

Board member Ann Henry, a 33rd degree Cockroach, denounced him for "class warfare."

Henry was later the Democratic candidate for the Third District Congressional seat, running on a typically touchy-feely soccer mom agenda about "our children" and "our working families." She reminded me a lot of Dianne Feinstein: an authoritarian liberal who was owned lock, stock and barrel by local real estate interests. I'd purely love to spend about three days taking her apart with a pair of bolt-cutters.

Incidentally, at-large representation is one of several "progressive" reforms in local government. The public admin literature of the time is full of quotes from Crolyites on the problem of over-representation of the working class and small business people, and the need to replace them with properly qualified "professionals." Like other Crolyite "reforms" of that period (e.g., citywide school boards, city managers, intergovernmental authorities, etc.), it was aimed at taking politics out of government and allowing the New Class "professionals" to run things without interference from the Great Unwashed.

Paging Christopher Lasch....

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on July 25, 2005 12:12 AM.

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