January 2006 Archives

A City of Tulsa work crew has been removing legally-placed campaign signs from private property, apparently for the "crime" of being visible from an arterial street. Tulsa Topics has the story. He's also got photos of another obnoxious campaign sign technique -- sandwiching your opponents signs so that they aren't visible.

By the way, I am going to post something regarding the controversy that was aired on KFAQ on Monday morning, involving Michael Covey, Bill Christiansen, and Christiansen's proposed bridge resolution but it's not ready to publish yet. Tomorrow I hope to have it online.

Failure is not an option

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We've been enjoying this evening's programming on the History Channel: "Failure Is Not an Option", two two-hour documentaries on the U. S. manned spaceflight program, as told by the men and women in Mission Control. The first program covers the beginnings through the end of Project Apollo; the second covers Skylab, Apollo-Soyuz, and the Space Shuttle. They'll be repeated starting at 12 a.m. Eastern time -- just 45 minutes from now.

Today is the 20th anniversary of the loss of the Challenger. I was working afternoons at Draper Laboratory, the research lab just off the MIT campus where the Apollo Guidance Computer was developed. I remember walking in that day to find everyone in the department gathered in the conference room, watching the TV, stunned. A few of the people in the room were veterans of Project Apollo, still more had been involved in the development of the flight control and avionics systems on the Space Shuttle.

Sometimes, when you're working on some tiny piece of an engineering problem, you can lose sight of the fact that lives may depend on your getting your piece right. It's easy to get complacent; you have one success after another, it all seems routine, and then conditions come together to turn a latent defect into a fatal flaw. This anniversary, and yesterday's 39th anniversary of the Apollo 1 fire, should call all engineers who develop and maintain components of safety-critical systems to remember that failure is not an option, and that failure prevention begins on the ground, on the drawing board.

Copycat Christiansen?

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At Thursday's City Council meeting, District 8 City Councilor Bill Christiansen read a proposed resolution concerning the south Tulsa toll bridge. The resolution outlined a compromise position that would allow a bridge to be built, but not under the current arrangement between Tulsa County and Infrastructure Ventures, Inc. (IVI).

It sounded very familiar to me. That's probably because it was nearly identical to a plan that Cliff Magee, Christiansen's opponent in the Republican primary, put forward on January 23. Dave Schuttler linked to it on Our Tulsa World at 4:41 that afternoon. The Tulsa Beacon featured a story about Magee's plan in this week's issue, which went to press on Tuesday. Christiansen's plan first saw the light of day on Thursday's Council agenda.

It's an annoying reality in politics -- you can put forward a great idea, and your opponent can rip it off and claim it for his own. If your opponent has the support of the local power structure, he may even get away with it.

Magee's plan is better than Christiansen's copy in one important respect. Both plans involve setting up a public trust, but Magee would have the City of Tulsa as the only beneficiary of the trust, while Christiansen would include the county and other municipalities.

I am hoping that south Tulsa voters who are concerned about the bridge are also concerned about the bigger political picture that makes deals like IVI's possible, that they won't settle for someone who backs them on their pet issue, but will support candidates who will work with other reformers for positive change at City Hall.

Word reached me recently that Stephanie Cantees is very angry with me. Stephanie and I have met, spoken on the phone a few times, and have been on the same side of a number of issues, so I was sorry to hear that she may be angry with me.

Stephanie Cantees is a Realtor, and she was appointed by Mayor Bill LaFortune to the Tulsa Metropolitan Area Planning Commission. She is a very close friend of County Commissioner Randi Miller, who is running for Mayor. She is also the sister of Lindsay Roberts, who is the wife of Richard Roberts, president of Oral Roberts University (ORU).

I am told that Stephanie is upset because I have been threatening ORU's 501(c)(3) non-profit status. I have done nothing of the sort, but I think I understand how that impression may have been created.

I heard from a couple of trustworthy sources that, following Richard Roberts' endorsement of Randi Miller for Mayor, Dr. Tim Brooker, ORU assistant professor of government, sent an e-mail to his students, recruiting them to volunteer on Miller's campaign. I was told that the e-mail emphasized the need to make ORU a political powerhouse on the local scene. I was also told that ORU gave the Miller campaign an office to use. (Confirmed -- see UPDATE 2/2/2006 below.)

I contacted a couple of people I know with ORU connections to see if I could get a copy of the e-mail that was sent to Brooker's students, but had no success.

A week ago Friday, following the mayoral debate at the Tulsa County Republican Men's Club, I asked an ORU alum about the rumored e-mail. I was told that Prof. Brooker was there and presently was introduced to him.

I told Prof. Brooker that I had heard this rumor and wanted to ask him about it. He had an expression on his face that I read as disgust.

Brooker said something about there being a lot of disinformation about. He also said something about knowing the limits of the law. He did acknowledge sending an e-mail to students to alert them to opportunities to gain campaign experience.

I told him that it might help to clear it up if he were to forward a copy of the e-mail to me; I'd be glad to publish it on BatesLine. I gave him my card, which has my blog e-mail address on it. To date, I have not received a reply. I have heard that there is some unrest on the ORU faculty about this issue, some concern about the impact on the university of throwing support and student manpower behind a particular candidate.

If any of you readers received a copy of the e-mail, preferably directly from Prof. Brooker, I'd appreciate it if you would forward it on, if possible with the complete set of headers attached. (That helps to authenticate an e-mail as genuine.)

In the past, Brooker has helped facilitate ORU student volunteering for candidates all over the country. Here's a bit from a story in ORU's alumni magazine:

At a Washington, D.C., conference in early 2002, Brooker and his department chair, Dr. John Swails, were approached by a Republican National Committee representative - who worked with ORU alumnus David Barton during that election cycle - with an intriguing idea: to use Christian college students as "foot soldiers," Brooker said, who would "go out and campaign in the hot, highly contested areas." The trick was finding responsible students who would do a good job.

The ORU professors agreed to give it a go, and during fall break of 2002, 35 ORU students made their first official campaign trip to Colorado. The campaign managers were so blown away, they asked ORU to come back two weeks later and bring more students. According to Brooker, "in that 96 hours before the 2002 election, we made about 40,000 phone calls, we personally canvassed 252 precincts in Denver - just ORU students - and who knows how many tens of thousands of pieces of direct mail we sent out." All three candidates - Bob Beauprez, Bill Owens, and Wayne Allard - won their races.

The story goes on to mention two Greyhound buses that took ORU students to campaign for Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour in 2003, and the efforts of 181 students on behalf of Tulsa's general obligation bond issue, which was on the ballot last May. (That bond issue included $15.25 million to make long-overdue improvements to Fred Creek, which flows through the ORU campus.)

Here's an interesting quote from that link about the bond issue -- another alumni magazine story:

Dr. Brooker's operation involved long evenings of "phone-banking," as students went through a list of roughly 38,000 names to zero in on the yes-vote base. Then, he had about 20 teams of student volunteers canvassing two precincts each, so that on any given Saturday students were making an impact on up to 40 precincts at a time.

"Ordinarily, we don't campaign in local politics because they tend to be partisan races," Brooker said. "This was not partisan, and it gave us a chance to demonstrate the campaign skills that have been developed throughout the country."

Here's another alumni newsletter blurb about the ORU students who campaigned in Colorado in 2002:

The students did not know which politicians they would assist prior to the trip, but soon learned about the platforms of each of the candidates. They compiled and distributed campaign literature, attended rallies, and helped with mailings.

I recall hearing some frustration from Oklahoma political insiders that Brooker was uninterested in state races in 2002 and was taking his students out of state instead.

I think it's great that government students have the opportunity to learn about the nuts and bolts of political campaigns. I'm glad that the students lent their assistance to candidates and causes that I support. I feel certain that ORU is very careful to structure these campaign excursions to avoid damaging the university's tax exempt status.

But it doesn't seem right for the university to control the flow of information to these students about opportunities to volunteer for campaigns. A student ought to be able to pick a candidate to help based on his political values and priorities. The point, after all, is not for the university to flex its political muscle, but for the students to get practical political experience. The university could facilitate this by allowing any campaign to post notices of campaign opportunities to an electronic bulletin board, just as career offices allow companies to post job opportunities.

ORU students just might prefer to help the mayoral candidate who pushed to get funding for Fred Creek flood control, who lives just a quarter-mile from campus, and who attends every ORU home basketball game that he can. (That would be Chris Medlock, and, by the way, he's having a volunteer event tomorrow morning -- Saturday, January 28 -- at his new campaign HQ at the International Dental Arts Bldg., at 69th & Canton, just north of the QuikTrip near 71st and Yale. Call 269 - 2822 for more information. There's an open house tomorrow, too, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.)

UPDATE (1/28/2006): From a reliable ORU-related source, I've heard that Brooker and department chairman John Swails argued against throwing the university's weight behind one candidate, for this pragmatic reason, among others: What if we back the loser? I've also heard that an e-mail from the department head went out reaffirming the university's policy on political involvement. According to my source, any candidate whose platform is consistent with ORU's mission and values will be welcome to seek volunteers from the student body. Also, there are plans afoot for a candidate forum, which would allow ORU students to hear from all the mayoral candidates. I'm encouraged to hear all this.

UPDATE (2/2/2006): The e-mail from Brooker is the real deal, and it's way over the top. Steve Roemerman has the scoop.

My wife worked for American Airlines for a number of years, before the airline spawned the SABRE Group as a separate business. It was a good company, she liked her job, and we appreciated the flight benefits. I have no axe to grind with Tulsa's largest private employer, but I don't see the point in spending another $4 million in taxpayer dollars for the special benefit of one company.

Mayor Bill LaFortune has proposed adding a little over $4 million to his "Third Penny" sales tax plan, extending the duration of the tax by another month. The money would pay to build temporary hangars at Tulsa International Airport for the use of American Airlines' maintenance operation.

AMR, American's parent company, lost over $600 million in the last three months of 2005. Over the course of 2005, AMR lost $861 million. The loss in 2004 was $761 million. The company will be paying out an estimated $78 million in bonuses to upper management. AMR has $3.8 billion in unrestricted cash on hand.

The money LaFortune proposes to spend on AA is a drop in the bucket from the airline's perspective. So why this last minute push to add it to the Third Penny package?

Reason #1 is to try to salvage his plan to put a six-year renewal on the ballot for the general election. A majority on the City Council is leaning toward passing an 18 month extension of the current tax, to pay for projects approved in 2001 that haven't yet been funded. If that happens, LaFortune looks ineffective, and he loses the ability to sell his reelection based on the new projects in his plan. The AA subsidy creates a sense of urgency -- the claim will be made that if we pass only an extension to pay for already-approved projects, it may cost our city jobs.

Reason #2 -- it's a response to the story that he cost Tulsa jobs by snubbing the airline. He sent a deputy to a meeting with AA officials about bringing new maintenance work to Tulsa, while he went off to Mississippi with ORU students and members of Guts Church to help rebuild the hurricane-damaged town of Long Beach and to shore up his support for re-election with a segment of Tulsa's charismatic community. Kathy Taylor has said LaFortune being AWOL in this situation is the main reason she decided to run for Mayor.

Reason #3 -- he's hoping for the endorsement of the Transport Workers' Union (TWU) and the help of their membership with his campaign. LaFortune was heard today saying that the Firefighters' Union (which was early to endorse his re-election) would be helping him put out campaign signs, and he was hoping to get the TWU's help with that, too. (How will Republican voters feel about re-nominating a mayor whose primary base of support is the labor unions?)

Whatever LaFortune's reasons for wanting this, it's not wise to include the money in the Third Penny, which ought to be for basic infrastructure improvements. Nor should we be putting all our eggs in one basket; we need to cultivate other sources of jobs. And it shouldn't be the City of Tulsa paying for this alone. Many AA employees live in Owasso, Broken Arrow, and elsewhere in the region, and all stand to benefit from any growth in AA's local workforce.

This proposal ought to stand separately from any other ballot item. Mayoral candidate Don McCorkell has suggested using a general obligation bond issue to pay for the hangars. Others have suggested that the suburbs chip in their fair share.

Chris Medlock has pointed out that direct government subsidy of business is a losing game in the long run, and why should we single out one company and ignore other businesses that may leave the city? I think the subsidy is a bad idea, but even if it weren't, it still has no business being part of our city's essential capital improvements program.

My column in this issue of Urban Tulsa Weekly is my review of last Friday's GOP mayoral candidate forum, sponsored by the Tulsa County Republican Men's Club.

This issue is chock full of good stuff. Barry Friedman takes us to the fallout shelter that now serves as the jury pool waiting room at the Tulsa County Courthouse. In the print issue (I can't find a link on the web) is a story about Boone Pickens' massive donation to the OSU athletic program, and the use of eminent domain to clear Stillwater neighborhoods to make way for Pickens-funded facilities.

Gary Hizer takes us up Main Street for a visit to the renovated Cain's Ballroom. It's the house that Bob Wills built, and it's the place where Sid Vicious punched a hole in the wall at the Sex Pistols' last US concert. In 2005 it was number 38 in Pollstar's list of top US live music venues, based on ticket sales. The story delves into the Cain's storied past, its recent renovation, and scheduled acts for 2006.

On the Cain's calendar for this year: George Clinton and the P. Funk All-Stars, rap acts, metal acts, tribute acts (Beatles, Grateful Dead, and Sex Pistols), and string bands. Personally, I'm looking forward to Asleep at the Wheel's return on May 13, and the Round-Up Boys playing a dance on Sunday afternoon, February 12.

UTW seeks reporter

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Urban Tulsa Weekly, Tulsa's alternative weekly newspaper has been running a help-wanted ad for a reporter. Now that G. W. Schulz has gone on to greener pastures on the Left Coast, they need to find someone to fill his Birkenstocks here in Tulsa. Here's the text of the ad:

Are You Serious About News?

REPORTER WANTED.

At least three years' experience at weekly or daily paper required.
Advancement opportunities.
Contact Emily. Resumes with samples.
No phone calls. Confidentiality assured.

Urban Tulsa Weekly
710 S. Kenosha, Tulsa OK 74120
eberman@urbantulsa.com


There's a real opportunity for a reporter to make a name for himself or herself at UTW by digging into stories that the daily monopoly newspaper won't touch.

In the meantime, I'm still writing my weekly op-ed column, although I've fallen behind on updating the links to my columns here at BatesLine.

Two issues ago, I wrote about the Mayor's proposal for a six-plus year renewal of the Third Penny sales tax, explaining why a 14-month extension of the existing tax, to pay for the projects we approved in 2001, would be better for downtown and inner city neighborhoods.

Last issue, my column was about the last-minute, back-room maneuvering that shook up the list of candidates to be Tulsa's next Mayor.

The new issue is out tomorrow at finer coffee houses and restaurants across our fair city. I promise to post a link a bit sooner this week.

More Tulsa blogger babies

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Congratulations to Joe Kelley on the birth of his twin boys, Hudson and Brook, and to Matt Galloway on the birth of his daughter Hazel!

So much for sleep!

(If you missed the news about our new family member, click here. He is nearly back to his birth weight, gaining about an ounce a day. He's taking longish naps during the day, and we're looking forward to when he decides to start taking those longish naps at night. His big sister spent the weekend with my wife's folks, and she made a blanket for baby brother, with her grandmother showing her how to do zig-zag stitches with the sewing machine.)

David Schuttler has video of nearly all of Friday's Republican mayoral forum. I've extracted the audio from his video, plus I've got audio from another source that fills in some of David's gaps -- I'll post it later, once I can piece it all together.

100% non-heretical

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You scored as Chalcedon compliant. You are Chalcedon compliant. Congratulations, you're not a heretic. You believe that Jesus is truly God and truly man and like us in every respect, apart from sin. Officially approved in 451.

Chalcedon compliant

100%

Apollanarian

33%

Nestorianism

33%

Monophysitism

33%

Docetism

0%

Arianism

0%

Monarchianism

0%

Adoptionist

0%

Donatism

0%

Gnosticism

0%

Socinianism

0%

Albigensianism

0%

Modalism

0%

Pelagianism

0%

Are you a heretic?
created with QuizFarm.com

(Hat tip to Joel, who is Chalcedon compliant, albeit semi-Pelagian.)

Republican Mayoral debate today

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A debate featuring all four GOP candidates, sponsored by the Tulsa County Republican Men's Club. Bobby at Tulsa Topics has the details.

That OSU economic paper

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Tulsa Mayor Bill LaFortune has mentioned this paper time and time again, and here it is on the web: the 2006 Oklahoma Economic Outlook for the Tulsa MSA, by Ed Price, Associate Professor of Economics.

The paper states that the Tulsa metro area is "poised to regain much of what it has lost and to have a significant, positive impact on the state's economy." It projects a 2.9% growth of the gross metropolitan output in real terms, the "best real growth in a decade." Scattered throughout the three pages of text are specific percentages for projected growth for different sectors of the metro area economy.

What isn't there is any statement of the basis for the projected 2006 numbers, what forces are at work in the Tulsa metro area or the broader national and global economy to produce a specific level of job growth here. Assumptions had to be made to generate these numbers, but the reader is not given the opportunity to examine and evaluate those assumptions.

This was very interesting: The last page of the report shows historic employment data overall and in various categories, with real numbers from 1999 through 2004, an estimate for 2005, and a projection for 2006. Note the "Information" category -- between 2001 and 2004 information technology employment in the Tulsa metro area dropped by 23%, and is nowhere near recovering. Employment in Natural Resources and Mining, which I assume would include the oil industry, is projected to continue to drop, although not as steeply.

Something to keep in mind, as you consider this report in light of local politics: The report covers the entire Tulsa MSA, which includes all of Tulsa County, not just the City of Tulsa, plus Creek, Okmulgee, Osage, Pawnee, Rogers, and Wagoner Counties.

You'll find links to the economic outlook for the entire state and the OKC metro area here.

National Review Online has a story today about eminent domain abuse in Sand Springs, Oklahoma. Centennial Baptist Church, located in the historically African-American neighborhood across US 412 (and years ago, across the Katy tracks) from downtown Sand Springs, is being condemned to make way for a "power center" -- a collection of big box stores like Home Depot and Bed, Bath, and Beyond. This is a classic condemnation for private benefit of the sort that was green-lighted by the U. S. Supreme Court in last year's Kelo v. New London case.

This condemnation is part of the Sand Springs Keystone Corridor Redevelopment project, Sand Springs' piece of the Vision 2025 pie. (That link has a couple of clickable aerial maps showing what's currently within the target area and what is planned to replace it. The target area is bounded by Highway 97 on the west, Main Street on the east, US 412 on the north, and Morrow Road on the south.)

Vision 2025, if you're not from around here, is a 13-year 6/10th of a cent county-wide sales tax, funding a downtown sports arena and a variety of projects across the county -- $535 million all told. In order to win the support of each of the smaller towns for the big sports arena in downtown Tulsa, each town got to pick a project for funding. Money to acquire the old African-American neighborhood for retail redevelopment was the City of Sand Springs' choice.

The NRO story makes the point that many property owners in the neighborhood are willing sellers and that a couple of the neighborhood's churches have moved to Tulsa. But Centennial Baptist wishes to stay and to continue its ministry. The entire target area isn't being cleared -- a fast-food restaurant and an auto parts store are being allowed to stay. Centennial is on Morrow, on the southern edge of the area. If Centennial were allowed to stay, there would still be plenty of room for new development.

An initiative petition is being circulated which would limit the use of eminent domain for private benefit, but it will come too late for Centennial Baptist Church. The only hope for the church is for the City of Sand Springs to relent. From the City's point of view, anything that replaces the church is better than the church because it will pay more property and sales tax than the church, which is exempt.

I've written a couple of entries about this neighborhood in the past -- the first was a call for someone to interview Harlem Globetrotter great Marques Haynes, who grew up there, as part of documenting the neighborhood's history, and the second was an e-mail from Ruth Ellen Henry of the Sand Springs Cultural and Historical Museum about the history of the neighborhood. One interesting fact in Ms. Henry's e-mail -- the area was donated by Charles Page, the philanthropist and industrialist who founded the town, as a refuge to blacks taking refuge from the 1921 Tulsa Race Riot.

The nine-year-old started, sometime not long before Christmas, rereading the first four books of The Chronicles of Narnia, which we had read together a year earlier, then finishing the last three, which he received for Christmas. He finished The Last Battle on Sunday, getting all the way through it in the course of the weekend. He wants me to get caught up, so now we'll read the last three volumes together for bedtime. We're thrilled that he's such a voracious reader.

Last week we finished reading the first Harry Potter book together -- first time through for both of us, and an incentive for him to get his homework done and ready for bed, so we might be able to get through two chapters before bedtime. It's a fun read, and yes, it has witches and wizards and poltergeists in it, but mostly it's about courage and loyalty and being a fish out of water. It's a great read, and we're looking forward to reading the next one together.

Finally, over the weekend I took the nine-year-old and the five-year-old to see "Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit." We all laughed ourselves silly. Like the best animated films, it can be enjoyed at several levels, and every scene is densely packed with funny details you might miss the first time around. The movie pays homage to monster movies -- a garden supply stand filled with hoes and pitchforks is quickly relabled "Angry Mob Supplies", and a vicar delivers the standard "this is what happens when we tamper with nature" speech.

If you're a British sitcom fan, you'll recognize some familiar voices. (I was not surprised but still disgusted to read that Dreamworks SKG wanted to replace Peter Sallis, the voice of Wallace, with a recognizable American voice. They didn't get their way, I'm happy to say. Stupid Hollywood types have to Americanize everything.) You'll find a preview clip here. Here in Tulsa, it's in the dollar theatres, so you have no excuse. Go see it.

Beat Ted?

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Talk radio host and blogger Kevin McCullough watched Ted Kennedy's performance during last week's Judiciary Committee hearing for Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito. Kevin thinks Ted needs straightening out:

"Ted Kennedy needs a beating."

Let me be clear, I don't mean some "pansy slap" on the wrist. I mean a bona fide beating!

This was supposed to have been Kevin's latest column for World Net Daily, but it was spiked as too extreme. I read it, and I don't think so -- but you have to read the whole thing. Go see for yourself. Kevin invites your comments.

UPDATE: Just in case you've not bothered to click the link and read the article, Kevin isn't calling for physical violence against the senior senator from Massachusetts.

A sure-fire flop

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This item by Karol about NY Governor George Pataki's presidential ambitions is brilliant for a couple of reasons.

First, there's this observation:

New York Governor George Pataki mentioned ethanol in his State of the State speech last week. Of course, that means he's running for president.

She links "running for president" to a Google search for ethanol+subsidies+Iowa. The only reason a pol from outside Iowa would boost ethanol is to lay groundwork for a good showing in the Iowa caucuses.

Karol goes on to wonder why Pataki's advisers don't tell him he's a no-hoper, and some of her commenters have it pegged. Sean writes:

He won't win, he hasn't got a shot, but that doesn't mean that his "advisers" and "consultants" won't sign contracts for $16,000/month in the process of failing miserably.

Commenter Jay comes close to nailing it:

The "Producers" motivation for running for president. Raise a lot of campaign funds, tank miserably, pocket the remainder.

That's a reference to the 1968 Mel Brooks film, in which a failed theatrical impresario and his accountant realize there's a pile of money to be made in a play that closes on opening night. As Karol points out, though, candidates can't pocket any remaining campaign funds.

But Pataki isn't Bialystock or Bloom, as Jay and others seem to suggest. Pataki is "Springtime for Hitler" -- the sure-fire flop -- and his political consultants are the producers. They'll butter him up, appeal to his vanity, and convince him to run. They'll get him to raise a pile of money, which won't be tough for the governor of a large and wealthy state, and they'll spend it for him over the course of '07 and early '08. They can make all sorts of promises in the course of raising money, because they know the candidate will never be in a position to keep those commitments. They'll setup fundraisers, mass mailings, and media buys, and add a percentage to each one, in addition to their monthly consulting fees. When the campaign falters, no one will blame the consultants, who, after all, didn't have much to work with, and they will live to consult again.

There is no shortage of unscrupulous political consultants who will flatter a candidate into running, preferably a candidate who is wealthy enough to self-finance. For this sort of consultant, a successful campaign is one in which the check clears.

So from henceforth, let's refer to consultant-driven no-hope election bids as "Springtime for Hitler" campaigns. We've seen plenty at the state and local level, and there are sure to be more before 2008 comes along.

Some good pieces out there by Tulsa's news bloggers on the 2006 city elections:

Bobby has the details about a meeting Saturday morning to organize volunteers for the Medlock for Mayor campaign. If you'd like to help out, the meeting is at The Embers at 71st and Harvard from 10 to 11.

Steve Roemerman, in an impressive bit of reporting, cornered District 6 candidate Theresa Buchert, whose husband Mike Buchert is assistant director of the City of Tulsa Public Works department, and asked her for some straight answers, which weren't forthcoming.

MeeCiteeWurkor explains why Randi Miller should not be Mayor, notices that Bill LaFortune's website no longer has the roster of his campaign committee, and makes some requests of mayoral candidates on behalf of his fellow wurkors.

There's plenty more, but I'm tired and the baby's asleep, and so should I be. Check out the latest from all the Tulsa bloggers at TulsaBloggers.net.

Been meaning to post links to these: Basil, who has been conducting blog interviews of others, put together an interview of Owasso-based Greta "Hooah Wife" Perry. Greta turned the tables with a blog interview of Basil on her blog. Greta and Basil are both very interesting folks, and you'll enjoy learning more about them.

In her latest entry Greta asks for prayer for the health of a friend -- pray for Greta's health, too.

Pray, please

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Nothing new tonight. I'm too hacked off about things I know but can't tell. If you don't want to get stuck with another four years of lousy leadership in Tulsa's Mayor's office, get to praying.

Confidential to a certain Washington observer of Tulsa politics: Your local "eyes and ears" is leading you astray, probably to suit his own financial interests. If you follow his advice, you can pretty much bet on your least desired outcome coming to pass. You bet on the wrong horse in 2004, why make the same mistake twice?

In case you missed it...

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For friends and family just now stopping by, scroll down to see a photo of our beautiful baby boy, who turned a week old today!

He had his first well-baby visit today, and the doctor was quite pleased with what he saw. We've been blessed to have the same pediatrician since our first was born, and in this day of frequent insurance changes, it's nice to have doctors, nurses, and office staff who know our family. It was funny (a very nice sort of funny) to be told, "We heard you talking about the baby on the radio yesterday with Michael [DelGiorno], and we were so excited!"

Oh, yes, and I finally awarded the prizes in the Name Game. Click that link and scroll down.

Here's who filed for Tulsa city offices today, the final day of the filing period.

Mayor: Northside neighborhood activist James Alexander Jr. (Democrat), James Oliver Desmond Jr. (Democrat), Benford L Faulk (Independent), County Commissioner Randi Miller (Republican), Paul C. Tay (Independent).

Council:

District 1: Roger Lowry (Democrat -- Lowry was the GOP nominee in 2004).

District 3: Gerald A. Rapson (Republican).

District 4: Robert C. Bartlett (Republican).

District 5: Doug Linson (Republican), neighborhood activist Al Nichols (Democrat -- finished 4th in the May special election to fill Sam Roop's seat).

District 9: Phil Kates (Democrat).

Below is the complete and final list of filers. There won't be a general election in Districts 1, 2, 7, or 8. District 2, which was held by Democrat Darla Hall for 10 years, didn't draw a single Democratic candidate. There's a Republican in 3 and a single Democrat in each of 6 and 9, but the odds favor the majority party in each district. Only 4 and 5 promise to have a competitive general election, but the mayoral race will more than make up for that.

Full list of candidates, organized by office and party, after the jump.

The lady vanishes

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It appears that someone is trying to rewrite history in a hurry.

Kathy Taylor, Democrat, Oklahoma Secretary of Commerce, and late entrant into the mayoral race, has had her name removed from the advisory board of Tulsans for Better Government, the group pushing to dismember three City Council districts and add three supercouncilors who would be elected citywide for four-year terms.

Grass-roots Democrats and Republicans alike decried this obvious power grab by the old city elite, and the petition drive to get the amendment on the ballot was failing for lack of popular support when the plug was pulled.

Here is the Tulsans for Better Government roster as last captured by Google on Jan 7, 2006 20:09:35 GMT. (Note: This will change as soon as Google rescans the website.)

Here is the roster as it currently appears on the site.

Click the image to see a side-by-side comparison:

It's the same list except one name has been removed -- Kathy Taylor. Very interesting.

Note, by the way, that County Commissioner and recently announced mayoral candidate Randi Miller is still on the list.

There's spin out there that Tulsans for Better Government was just a group interested generally in reform, and that's all that membership of the advisory board means; that we shouldn't conclude that Taylor and Miller approved of the petition just because they were on the advisory board. In fact, this group didn't have a public existence until they filed a petition with the City Clerk's office seeking very specific amendments to the City Charter. This proposal is the sole reason for the group's existence.

Taylor and Miller have had since the group's launch in October to publicly announce their opposition to the proposal, if indeed they were opposed, but they haven't done so.

For some reason, I am only now getting around to linking to this week's column in Urban Tulsa Weekly, which is a collection of a dozen-plus reasons I'm optimistic about Tulsa's future. (The column sparked this thread at the TulsaNow forum.)

There's one more reason that I would have included, but can't now because this reason is leaving Tulsa: UTW reporter G. W. Schulz is moving back to San Francisco as a reporter for the Bay Guardian. It's a great opportunity for him.

I have enjoyed getting to know G. W. over the last year or so. Although he grew up here, he spent several years in Austin, Lawrence, and San Francisco, and he brought a fresh perspective to the coverage of Tulsa politics and people. I was really looking forward to his coverage of this spring's city election.

You can read G. W. Schulz's final pieces for UTW in the current issue. The cover story this week is about the sad realities of child custody battles. He shows us a day in Family Court, and interviews a judge, a custody evaluator, a divorce and custody expert at Family and Children's Services, and a couple of attorneys who handle divorce and custody cases, including John Eagleton. G. W. writes of his day at the courthouse:

Itís difficult to imagine anyone ever experiencing intimacy in here, save for a couple of divorce attorneys who might find their own brand of love amidst the sadism and animosity. But a room like this, with its sterile walls, steel furniture and mustard yellow paneling, could certainly accommodate a splintered relationship with kids tumbling in the wake.

Divorce court could be the greatest untapped reservoir of birth control Planned Parenthood never considered. It made me want to experience head trauma so severe that I would lose any sense of carnal knowledge.

G. W. also takes a humorous rearview mirror look at his hometown as he heads off to the Left Coast, in which he dares to suggest that my Oxford shirts are neatly pressed. Nope -- this household is strictly 60-40 blend, machine wash warm, tumble dry low, remove promptly when dryer stops.

One of the delights of walking into Shades of Brown Coffee these last few months was seeing G. W. sitting at the counter, typing away on his laptop, and interrupting him for a wide-ranging chat. I'll miss that. All the best, G. W.

New filers in only a handful of council races. No one new in the Mayor's or Auditor's race. Tuesday is usually a slow day, with most announced candidates filing on Monday and late deciders waiting until Wednesday to jump in.

District 2: As expected, Republican Rick Westcott filed.

District 4: As expected, Democrats Maria Barnes and John E. "Jack" Wing filed, as did Republican Kent Morlan and Democrat Charles Stewart McKinnon. (I'd forgotten that Morlan had previously announced.) I wonder: A candidate use a nickname on the ballot, but Wing filed under his legal name, John E. Wing, even though everyone seems to refer to him as Jack. Will the Tulsa Whirled be consistent and use sneer quotes around his nickname?

District 6: Theresa Buchert, the wife of City of Tulsa assistant public works director Mike Buchert, filed as a Republican running against Jim Mautino. Buchert supported Democrat Art Justis' reelection two years ago. Dennis K. Troyer filed as a Democrat.

District 7: Gary R. Zarley filed as a Republican.

I stopped by the Tulsa County Election Board about 30 minutes ago and found out who has jumped in on the first day of filing.

Mayor:

The rumors of Bill LaFortune's departure from the race turned out to be only rumors. He filed for re-election today as a Republican. His primary opponents so far are City Councilor Chris Medlock and Brigitte Harper (former Tulsa County Republican Party vice chairman), both of whom declared their candidacy some months ago.

On the Democrat side, former State Rep. and Great Plains Airlines investor and director Don McCorkell filed, as did State Commerce Secretary Kathy Taylor. Taylor has been rumored as a 1st Congressional District candidate, but she has much better odds running for Mayor. Prophet-Kelly L. Clark Sr., who ran as a Republican for the District 7 City Council seat in 2004, and who is a frequent speaker at city council meetings, filed, as did Accountability Burns, aka Einstein 5, who in years past has run for Mayor, City Auditor, and various seats on the pre-1989 City Commission.

Announced but not running is City Councilor Tom Baker, who was seen at the Election Board this afternoon in Kathy Taylor's entourage. He's apparently not running for re-election to his current seat either.

Auditor:

Phil Wood, incumbent since before the current charter was adopted in 1989, has filed for re-election as a Democrat. This may be the race with the largest age gap: Michael Willis, 25-year-old aide to Bill LaFortune, has filed as a Republican. Wood turned 82 last month.

Council:

District 1: Councilor Jack Henderson, a Democrat, is the only filer so far. There are no other announced candidates.

District 2: This is an open seat because the incumbent, Chris Medlock, is running for Mayor. Paul F. Prather, an attorney who lives in the neighborhood south of Southern Hills Country Club, filed as a Republican today. Another Republican, Rick Westcott, who headed up Tulsans for Election Integrity, the group that opposed last summer's recall election, has announced and is expected to file. Jeannie Cue, sister of County Commissioner (and former District 2 Councilor) Randi Miller, began campaigning, but I am told that she has dropped out and is supporting Westcott.

District 3: Just two filings today, setting up another Democratic primary rematch between incumbent Councilor Roscoe H. Turner and former incumbent David Patrick. In 2004, Turner won a re-vote with 54% after the original vote was invalidated because enough Republicans voted in the Democrat primary to make the true outcome mathematically unknowable.

District 4: Just one filing today: Republican Rick Brinkley, president of the local Better Business Bureau office, and immediate past president of the Downtown Kiwanis Club. Neighborhood leader Maria Barnes and real estate agent Jack Wing are expected to file as Democrats. Eric Gomez, who came within 30 votes of beating incumbent Tom Baker in 2004, likely won't be running.

District 5: Incumbent Bill "29%" Martinson has filed for re-election as a Republican, and he has drawn one primary opponent so far: John Gregory Madden III. 26-year-old Jon Kirby has filed as a Democrat.

District 6: Incumbent Republican Jim Mautino was today's only filer.

District 7: Republican attorney John Eagleton has filed for his third attempt to win this seat. Until today, he had no announced opposition, but today he drew as a primary opponent Robert A. Gwin Jr. I seem to recall that Gwin ran for Mayor or some other city office in the past. Randy Sullivan, who abandoned the district in December 2003, isn't seeking re-election here or in the district he moved to.

District 8: Incumbent Republican Bill Christiansen has drawn a formidable primary opponent in Cliff Magee.

District 9: Attorney Cason Carter and William J. Stava III, filed as Republicans. Incumbent Susan Neal isn't seeking re-election.

Out of time for now -- I'll hotlink names and add details later.

Three more buildings

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The Whirled is reporting that Maurice Kanbar and Henry Kaufman have bought three more downtown Tulsa buildings -- the Philcade, the Amoco South Building, and the Atlas Life Building, all along the east side of Boston between 4th and 6th. They now own at least 17 buildings containing 28 percent of all downtown office space.

As far as I know, their intentions are positive, to do some creative things with these buildings and create a critical mass of development for revitalizing downtown. But this silly doubt has crossed my mind: What if they're demolition hobbyists who think it would be fun to reduce most of downtown Tulsa to rubble? (Remember the "Farm Film Report" on SCTV, with John Candy and Joe Flaherty as a couple of farm boys who would explode things? "It blowed up good." "It blowed up real good!") Because they could do that if they wanted and we couldn't do a darn thing to stop them.

I don't think that they plan to pave the rest of downtown, but it is 2006, and we still have nothing in place to protect our architectural heritage anywhere in this city.

LaFortune out?

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It's been the guess of many a Republican insider that Tulsa Mayor Bill LaFortune would end up not seeking re-election. For one thing, it fits the pattern of his career to date. He was appointed to fill a vacancy as District Attorney, but didn't even finish out the term, much less seek re-election, instead taking a position with a private law firm. LaFortune has alienated most of his Republican party base and had very weak re-elect numbers in recent polls. For an incumbent, less than 50% support in your own party is a political death sentence. You will either lose the primary, or if you survive, the lack of an enthusiastic base will kill you in the general. (See Bush, George H. W., 1992 re-election campaign of.) There had been rumors of problems raising campaign funds and spending funds unwisely. And there were rumors that high-ranking Republican officials have been working for the better part of a year to find him a Bush administration sinecure, to give him a face-saving exit.

Rusty Goodman, a Democrat political activist who runs the okdemocrat message board, posted tonight that he had heard that a position in the Southwest Power Administration has been secured for LaFortune. SWPA is headquartered in Tulsa.

If true, it will be fascinating to watch how things shake out in the race to replace him.

100_1509-MAB-cropped.JPG

... a big, beautiful, boy baby!

He was born at 7:41 a.m., weighing 10 lbs., 0.3 oz., 21" long, with a 15" head circumference. Apgars were 8 and 9. Absolutely perfect. Mother and baby are fine. (It was a scheduled repeat C-section.) Praise God!

He was raising his head shortly after he was born. His foot barely fit on the inkpad they used for footprints. He has been able to nurse, although he's still in that first-day drowsiness and more interested in snuggling than eating. Around 7 tonight, he opened his eyes long enough to give us a good look. It looks like, for now at least, he has blue eyes like both his siblings.

This afternoon he met his big brother and big sister (who is very happy to be a big sister) -- both got to hold him -- his grandpa and grandma and grandmother, his cousins and aunt, and some family friends.

We are blessed to have three beautiful, healthy children. Thanks for your prayers.

Bottle Baby Boogie

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The baby has been very busy. He/she must know that the big day is close at hand. A comment from my wife: "Imagine what feels like to have your belly button scraped... and stretched... from the inside." Your prayers for a safe delivery -- and for some good sleep before then -- would be appreciated.

I will announce the winners of the baby naming contest sometime by the end of the week. In the meantime, I will leave you with my favorite Western Swing song about babies -- from 1953, Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys performing Bottle Baby Boogie. (1 MB low quality audio, soon to be removed)

CHORUS:

(Bottle baby boogie)
I'm walkin' the floor.
(Bottle baby boogie)
Ain't gonna do it no more.
I told my wife, and I don't mean maybe,
This ain't gonna be no bottle baby.

Well, rock-a-bye baby, I'm still a-singin'.
When the baby starts cryin' my ears start ringin'.
My wife told me today,
"I got news for ya, honey, there's another on the way."

I fixed his bottles and I warmed his milk.
Things went along just as smooth as silk.
There'll be some changes made and not on the baby,
'Cause this 'un is yours and I don't mean maybe.

My fingers are sore from using safety pins,
While my wife just sits, looks, and grins.
And I'll hear those words 'til my dyin' day:
"I got news for ya, honey, there's another on the way."

That's Bob's baby brother Billy Jack Wills on the vocals, and on the solos you'll hear Billy Bowman and Vance Terry on steel guitar, Skeeter Elkin on piano, Eldon Shamblin on electric guitar, Jesse Ashlock on fiddle, and Jack Greenbach on drums. Billy Jack had his own successful western swing band based out of Sacramento in the early '50s -- even though this is Bob's band, this song gives you a good sense of Billy Jack's band's sound. (I just bought this album of songs from radio transcriptions -- his sound is a lot closer to rockabilly than the delta blues and Texas fiddle sound of his big brother. You can hear one song from the album, Caravan -- which isn't really very rockabilly -- played as bumper music for WFMU DJ Moshik Temkin. It's about 2 hours, 16 minutes into this archived broadcast.)

One last thing: There's potential for a parody of this song, if you substitute "Ezzo" for "Bottle" -- "told my wife, and I don't mean maybe, this ain't gonna be no Ezzo baby." Maybe Discoshaman and TulipGirl and the folks at ezzo.info can work up the rest of the lyrics.

Who's anti-development?

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One of the baseless charges tossed at Tulsa City Councilors Jim Mautino and Chris Medlock during last year's recall attempt was that the two were anti-growth and anti-development. The reality is that both are boosters of quality new development in the two underdeveloped sections of the city that they represent -- far east and west Tulsa respectively. What has put them at odds with the development lobby is that Medlock and Mautino believe the City ought to prioritize its resources and infrastructure to encourage new development within Tulsa's city limits.

Both councilors have worked with developers to encourage and facilitate new developments in their districts. Medlock helped shepherd Tulsa Hills, a major retail development at 71st and US 75. Mautino has worked with developers interested in the I-44 corridor for mixed use projects and other locations around east Tulsa that would be prime locations for new housing.

What Mautino and his constituents don't want is to turn east Tulsa into a dumping ground for all the uses that aren't wanted in other parts of the city or metro area. As a neighborhood activist, he made some enemies by insisting that the concrete batch plant on 11th Street west of 145th abide by the rules for screening and stormwater management. East Tulsa has a dramatic north-south ridge with views of the city to the west and the Verdigris River valley to the east. There are hills and streams and woods, and historic Route 66 runs through the middle of it. The four-mile-long section of I-44 where it is joined with US 412 is the busiest segment of highway in the State of Oklahoma, and with some infrastructure improvements it would be an excellent location for retail.

Unfortunately, the area has been overlooked for most of the 40 years it has been within the city limits of Tulsa. Most areas still do not have water or sewer service, making development even more risky and expensive. Worse, the negative perception of Tulsa Public Schools and East Central High School in particular are deterrents to new housing developments. To my knowledge, the last subdivision built in that part of the city was Indian Hills (legally Rolling Hills IV) in the mid-70s.

Recently, a new 400-home subdivision proposed for the southeast corner 11th and 161st East Avenue fell through apparently because of financial demands made of the developer by the head of the City of Tulsa Public Works Department. The developer was just seeking a sewer connection to make the development feasible. At this point, I am going to hand you off to Tultellitarian, writing at MeeCiteeWurkor's site, who has a detailed summary of the situation, what happened, and who seems to be at fault for losing a development that would have been good for the City of Tulsa and Tulsa Public Schools.

Last Tuesday, December 27, Councilor Jim Mautino notified City Clerk Mike Kier that Mayor Bill LaFortune appears to be in violation of the city's ethics ordinance, because he is a member of the board of the Tulsa Metro Chamber, which is a contractor to the City of Tulsa. While a member of the Chamber board, LaFortune has approved and signed contracts on behalf of the City with the Chamber.

Two days after Mautino's letter, City Auditor Phil Wood sought City Attorney Alan Jackere whether a violation of the Ethics Code has occurred. Wood points out that LaFortune, as a board member of the Tulsa Metro Chamber, "appears to have an Organizational interest," which is defined by section 601 of the ethics ordinance as existing when "a City official is a director or member of a board which establishes policy and/or budgetary decisions for the entity." Wood goes on to cite section 603, which states that "no City official shall participate in any City business in which they have an organizational interest." Wood then cites an contract renewal between the City and the Chamber, worth $1,901,000, which the Mayor approved on August 29, 2005, saying, "This appears to be City business in which he has an organizational interest." (The City Auditor is designated by the ordinance to handle ethics complaints regarding the Mayor.)

The following day, December 30, the Mayor's Office issued a press release requesting a "clarification" of the ethics ordinance. In the release, the Mayor's membership on the board of the Tulsa Metro Chamber is compared to his membership on the Tulsa Metropolitan Utility Authority, the Tulsa Airport Authority, and the Indian Nations Council of Governments. The difference is that the Chamber is a private organization with its own interests, while the two authorities are public trusts established to own property and enter into multi-year contracts for the benefit of the City of Tulsa. By law, the Mayor is an ex officio member of the two authorities and appoints the other members, subject to Council approval. INCOG is a "voluntary association of local governments," established by agreement of the governments involved. The City of Tulsa is a member of INCOG.

The Tulsa Metro Chamber and its defenders seem to think of the Chamber as an official branch of City Government, but it is a private organization, established to serve the interests of its members, which sometimes may coincide with the best interests of Tulsa's city government, but sometimes may not. That's why it's a conflict of interest for an official approving City contracts for the Chamber to also sit on the Chamber's board. It's revealing that this press release issued on LaFortune's behalf doesn't distinguish between governmental agencies and the Chamber.

Below are links to PDF files of the relevant documents, each about 30 KB in size:

Councilor Mautino asked the City Clerk's office for a copy of Bill LaFortune's ethics disclosure statement, which is required by the ordinance. Mautino was told that LaFortune had not filed such a statement. Mautino has asked for a letter from the City Clerk confirming that fact, and he was told it would be forthcoming.

Up ahead

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As I get time over the next couple of days, I'll fill you in on Councilor Jim Mautino's ethics complaint against Mayor Bill LaFortune, who (until yesterday) was a board member of the Metro Tulsa Chamber and while serving as a board member, he also approved and signed contracts on behalf of the City of Tulsa with the Metro Tulsa Chamber. Turns out the Mayor hasn't filed an ethics disclosure statement, which is required by law.

Councilor Mautino has also been speaking out about the way the city's Public Works Department mishandled extending sewer to a new housing development proposed for 11th and 161st East Ave, which would have been one of the first new developments in the Tulsa Public School district in years, maybe more than a decade. Our city departments and boards seem to be more eager about extending infrastructure to the suburbs than to unserved areas of our own city.

Noah progress

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I've asked you to be in prayer for blogger Mike Mansur's newborn son, Noah, who was born with a life-threatening circulatory defect. Little Noah is doing very well, beyond expectations, and is home now. Mike has moved all his posts about Noah to a new blog, Chasing Noah, and will continue to post updates and photos there. A couple of weeks ago, Mike posted a summary of all the miraculous developments that amazed the doctors in Noah's case.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from January 2006 listed from newest to oldest.

December 2005 is the previous archive.

February 2006 is the next archive.

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