Squid use ink to cloud the waters and escape, too

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The Tulsa Whirled had a front page story Sunday featuring comments from attorney Wilson Busby and former City Councilor Sam Roop, who is now an aide to Mayor Bill LaFortune. Busby was retained by the City Council for their investigation into the Tulsa Airport Authority, which also covered publicly-subsidized Great Plains Airlines. Busby was hired on the recommendation of Roop. A thread connecting the two men is political consultant Jim Burdge, who managed Roop's campaigns for Council and who shared an office with Busby. Burdge also managed campaigns for Bill Christiansen and Randy Sullivan, and he worked for the Coalition for Responsible Government 2004, the group that sought to recall Councilors Chris Medlock and Jim Mautino.

The two associates are accusing Medlock of trying to turn the airport investigation into some sort of witchhunt. Busby claims he saw Medlock pose like a bear and demand "red meat". When I read that, I couldn't help but think of Tim the Enchanter, in "Monty Python and the Holy Grail," warning the knights of the killer rabbit: "Death awaits you all, with nasty big pointed teeth!"

Why would Roop go after Medlock? Roop's boss would lose his job (and so would Roop) if Medlock's campaign is successful.

The story was clearly timed to stop the Council from going forward with a subpoena of Great Plains Airlines bank records. You would think that, if the Whirled were confident that there isn't any damaging information in the records, they would say, fine, go ahead, which would allow them to issue a big "see, I told you so" after the fact. Instead, the Whirled is in full attack mode to stop the subpoena.

Dan Paden picked up on the Whirled's attempt, once again, to mislead its readers by publishing that its parent company, World Publishing Co., owned only 3% of the total shares of stock in Great Plains Airlines. As I pointed out nearly a year ago (and thanks, Dan, for the link), WPC had owned a majority of preferred shares and a majority of the equity, based on the price at which the shares were sold. It's interesting, too, that the story failed to point out that WPC chairman and CEO Robert Lorton gave $2,500 to the campaign to recall Medlock and Mautino.

What we don't know, but should know, considering that our tax dollars and public assets were put at risk for this venture, is the terms of the shareholder agreement. That would tell us how preferred stock and common stock shareholders would have split up any profits -- specifically, how much of the profits would have gone to WPC. WPC, as a shareholder, must have a copy of the shareholder agreement, and it would clear up a lot if the Whirled would make that information public.

But instead of opening up and supplying information, the Whirled is attacking those who are seeking information.

In the meantime, those who loaned money to Great Plains Airlines based on the city's guarantee want their money back now that Great Plains is bankrupt. There's a persistent rumor that the Bank of Oklahoma and the Mayor's office tried to work out a deal to take arena naming rights in repayment for the loan. Another possibility is that the City would repay the money -- about $7 million -- comes out of the City's general fund. That hits basic public services, and it would hurt. Instead of hurting all Tulsans in this way, wouldn't it be fairer for BOk to go after the public officials who sold them on this deal? Or perhaps the bank records will show that funds were paid to favored vendors rather than being available to repay lenders? If that's the case, shouldn't BOk go after that money?

MORE: Comments on the story from Dan Paden and Chris Medlock.


Mr. Snitch! said:

Why stop your comparison of squids and local media at the subject of ink? Both also lack a backbone.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on October 3, 2005 12:38 AM.

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