DelGiorno, Covey, Christiansen, Medlock, and me

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This situation regarding South Tulsa Citizens' Coalition (STCC) spokesman Michael Covey and the fundraiser he's holding for City Councilor Bill Christiansen just gets smellier and smellier. I'm now in receipt of six nearly identical e-mails from the same IP address, but with different "from" addresses and sender names. It has Jim Burdge's sloppy, slimy fingerprints all over it. Burdge is campaign consultant to Christiansen and was involved in the campaign to recall Chris Medlock and Jim Mautino, an effort which involved slimy fake newspapers ("The Tulsa Tribunal") and deceptive phone messages the night before the election.

(UPDATE: The IP address from which the e-mails originated,, is part of a dedicated block of IP addresses registered to Syntroleum. There may be no connection, but Michael Covey's wife Carla is an executive with Syntroleum.)

The e-mail accuses me and others of attacking Michael Covey and being motivated by hatred of Bill Christiansen. I don't believe what I have said or written constitutes an attack on anyone. I have no personal animosity toward Bill Christiansen. I disagree with him on many matters of public policy, and while we have on occasion been on the same side of an issue, on balance I think his continued presence on the City Council is bad for the City of Tulsa.

Here's what all the fuss is about: I published an entry on Saturday evening reflecting my personal observation of the south Tulsa toll bridge proposals put forward by Cliff Magee and Bill Christiansen earlier in the week. (Magee's plan was released on Monday, Christiansen read his, in the form of a resolution, at Thursday's Council meeting.) That same evening, I received some perturbed e-mails from STCC webmaster Dave Wolfard and Michael Covey. Wolfard's e-mails were more hostile in tone. Covey's were more polished and professional, but nevertheless included the demand that I remove what I wrote from the site or else publish his argument against Cliff Magee and in support of Bill Christiansen in full "as soon as possible." Covey stated, in response to my question, that I could consider his e-mails as an official communication of the STCC. His two e-mails were sent between 10 pm and midnight Saturday, less than six hours after I published my entry.

The vehemence and speed of the response to my entry caused my antennae to go up. I was already aware that Covey was holding a fundraiser for Bill Christiansen, and it seemed strange to me that a group as large and diverse as the STCC -- a coalition of a couple of dozen homeowners' associations -- would be able to formulate an official response to my article within four or five hours of its posting. I decided that before taking any action I would confirm with some other officer of the STCC whether Covey's e-mails to me had in fact been cleared with the STCC board as official communications. Because Covey's e-mails came in late Saturday evening, I couldn't call anyone at that hour to verify them with anyone else.

On Sunday afternoon, Chris Medlock and I spoke to Ron MacLeod, STCC president. I had called Medlock, who has worked closely with STCC and is familiar with their structure, to ask who to contact, and Medlock suggested setting up a three-way call so we could talk to MacLeod at the same time. Although we each had our own concerns to address with MacLeod, it was useful for both of us to be in on the call, because it allowed me to hear what Medlock actually said to MacLeod, which is quite different than what Covey claimed, on KFAQ Monday morning, that Medlock said.

In response to my question, MacLeod, president of STCC, said that he had not seen the article I had posted here and had not seen the two e-mails that Covey sent me on Saturday, which were supposedly official communications from the organization. (I just looked back at both e-mails, and MacLeod had not been copied on either one.)

For the record, Medlock did not (as claimed on KFAQ by Covey, who was not a part of the phone call) try to swap support for Christiansen's bridge resolution for the STCC's endorsement in his mayoral campaign. He made it clear that he understands their neutrality in upcoming city elections, as they'll have to work with whoever is elected, but he pointed out that having the organization's spokesman hold a fundraiser for a candidate gives the impression of an endorsement by the organization. Medlock also told MacLeod about how other councilors seemed to regard Christiansen's resolution, that they would rather not see Christiansen back on the Council, because of his votes on issues other than the bridge, and were not going to be inclined to back a resolution just to aid his re-election effort.

(This just came to mind: A City Council can't bind future councils. What good does it do to pass a non-binding resolution when any city action can't possibly happen until after the election, at which point we will have at least four new City Councilors and possibly a new mayor? Wouldn't it be more useful to get as many council and mayoral candidates as possible on record in support of the STCC's position?)

Regarding the Mayor's race, Medlock simply asked for the opportunity to make his case directly to the STCC membership, either at a membership meeting or via their mailing list. He explicitly said he wasn't asking for any special treatment -- he would be happy for all the mayoral candidates to have the chance to communicate with the STCC membership -- but in light of his efforts on behalf of the STCC's cause he thought he deserved a chance to ask directly for the support of the STCC's members.

Late Sunday evening I received another e-mail from Covey, expressing dismay that I had checked with the organization's president regarding his e-mails. This reaction only served to increase my sense that something fishy was going on. If he really had been authorized to issue those statements on behalf of STCC, why should it bother him that I tried to confirm their status with the president of the organization?

After Covey's appearance on Michael DelGiorno's Monday morning show, I phoned in to relate the above events in my usual monotonous tone. There was no ranting or attacking of Mr. Covey or anyone else, just puzzlement over the intensity of the push to get me to remove what I had written.

Later on Monday, I received a puzzling e-mail complaining about what DelGiorno, Medlock, and I "did" to Covey on DelGiorno's program. It was apparent my correspondent hadn't actually heard the show himself; Medlock was not on the show at all on Monday.

Monday night I began to detail all this for publication here, but had to stop because it was getting late, and I had to be up early for my regular slot on KFAQ. (I still want to publish all the e-mail traffic, but before I do, I am going to remove or hide e-mail addresses -- I don't want anyone's personal e-mail address to become fodder for the spambots.) I posted that I wasn't ready to post anuthing yet. Over the course of Tuesday I received a couple of more e-mails from Dave Wolfard -- one quite lengthy, another that simply said, "I hope that your post is not ready because you are researching the facts and not simply because you are trying to find a way to justify your political position." (No, Dave, it wasn't ready, because I have a full-time job, a wife recovering from C-section surgery, and three kids to help take care of, and I do want to take the time to be careful and fair about how I communicate.)

One of the other accusations made in tonight's e-mail barrage is that Medlock and I "had Delgiorno berate" Covey on the air. No one had to prompt DelGiorno to say what he did about Covey's support for Bill Christiansen.

Remember that Christiansen is suing DelGiorno and Journal Broadcast Group (KFAQ's parent company) over DelGiorno's comments regarding the FAA investigation of complaints that the Tulsa Airport Authority has discriminated in favor of Christiansen's business at Jones Riverside Airport. Christiansen's suit looks very much like a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation -- a SLAPP -- a tactic used by public officials to silence their critics. Christiansen has been accused of using his position as a City Councilor and his relationship with a member of the Tulsa Airport Authority board to enhance his own business situation and to put obstacles in the way of his competitors. The FAA is still in the process of conducting its investigation, and they've called the City's attention to several concerns and have asked the City to either change or justify certain practices.

It boils down to this: KFAQ's Michael DelGiorno show has provided a platform for grass-roots organizers all over the city to bypass traditional media and get their message out to a wide audience. In particular, DelGiorno has supported STCC's efforts to communicate their concerns about the south Tulsa toll bridge. Not only has he given their spokesman, Michael Covey, the opportunity to speak on the air, DelGiorno has been an advocate against the insider bridge deal.
I think it's fair to say that, although Covey's skills as a public speaker are considerable, KFAQ has exposed those skills to a broader audience than any other medium.

Covey, in "gratitude" for DelGiorno's support on this issue and the exposure he's received through DelGiorno, is holding a fundraiser to help re-elect Bill Christiansen, the man who has filed a lawsuit that threatens to shut down DelGiorno and KFAQ as a voice for reform and clean government. Can you understand why DelGiorno might feel used? Can you understand why he might be provoked to anger? Can you understand why he no longer wants to provide Covey with a platform?

Dave Schuttler received a copy of the e-mail Covey sent me late Saturday night, and he noticed something interesting. Covey wrote:

While I cannot speak to other issues involving Councilor Christiansen, I can say that Councilor Christiansen has unequivocally supported the citizens of the City of Tulsa on the Bridge.

Schuttler reacted to that quote and another statement by Covey taking issue with Cliff Magee being new to the bridge issue:

It seems that Mr. Covey didn't like the fact the Mr. Magee wasn't knowledgeable on the bridge issue. But he has no problem claiming that he himself is not knowledgeable about Christiansen and his problems with the FAA or the lawsuit against MDG and KFAQ.Now Mr. Covey will hold a fund raiser for Christiansen without knowing anything more about him than that he will back a resolution on the bridge?

As I said on KFAQ, holding a fundraiser for a candidate is about the strongest endorsement you can give him. Covey's claim of ignorance about Christiansen's complete political record and the situation at Jones Riverside Airport is either disingenuous or an example of extreme political tunnel vision.

One more thing: The suspect barrage of e-mails accuses me of pushing my own personal and political agendas. I'm also told that a seldom-visited website (I assume seldom, because the site's stats aren't open to public view -- embarrassingly small, perhaps?) has accused me of spinning for a particular mayoral candidate because I'm desperate for a job.

My only interest in local politics is as someone who has lived in this city most of my life, who owns a home in this city, and who works in this city. I want to see honorable, wise, intelligent people elected to office, to see our government work to serve all the people of Tulsa, not just a favored few. I am tired of seeing local government ignore the basics and spend money in ways that do nothing to improve the local economy or the beauty of our city. I'm tired of ward politicians like Bill Christiansen who do just enough to keep their own constituents happy, but who undermine important reform efforts that would benefit the entire city.

The results of the elections will have absolutely no financial impact on me. I have a full-time private-sector job with a Tulsa-based company that has absolutely no dealings with local government. The job pays well -- not Sam Roop money, but plenty for our family's needs -- and has excellent benefits, and I have a great deal of respect for the company's leadership and my fellow employees. The company has been very helpful in dealing with some issues involving benefits and our family's new addition. As honored as I would be to be asked to serve in a mayoral administration, I won't be leaving my current job. I owe it to the company to give them a return on the investment they've made in me, and I owe it to my family to earn a living in a more stable environment than the political realm. Paid public service -- either as an elected or appointed official -- is years, maybe decades, in the future for me.


Wow! I read the whole article and am amazed about all this. You have never appeared any less than a straight shooting guy to me. As for Michael DelGiorno, he is passionate about his beliefs and some people should look at the theory that publicity is publicity - bad or good. The fact that he is being sued shows how much power and influence he has on this city. I respect your opinions and find the local politics of Tulsa extremely important and controversial.

I can tell from living here a short period of time, that more money needs to be funneled into Tulsa education that a stupid arena!

Dan Paden said:

One good thing about living in this city: you can't wake up in the morning and say that life is boring.

Joey Author Profile Page said:

Wonder if this has anything to do with this:

susan said:

I would just like to remind Michael and Carla Covey that Michael is a graduate of M.I.T.

I wish Michael Bates would be a republican candidate in the next Mayor race, because I think he is the most intelligent and ethical person that has had a huge impact writing about extremely important TULSA issues and the people of Tulsa could trust Michael as our next Mayor of Tulsa.

Bob said:

Michael Bates would make a OUTSTANDING Mayor.

However, as an honest and ethical man, the local power establishment absolutely WOULD NOT let him get elected.

He would be too grave of danger to them. That M.I.T. honed laser beam of a brain would see through WAY, WAY too many of their conflict of interests, self-dealing and self-enrichment practices.

Better for them a malleable piece of Silly Putty like Bill LaFortunate. Capable of endless reshaping and shifting through his positions. However, because the sand is slipping beneath Bill's feet, the local power Oligarchy is hedging their bets......

McCorkell, Taylor, LaFortune and Miller are the four-horsemen driving the cart for the local power Oligarchy.

Elements of the local power establishment therefore have 4 out 5 chances to win.

Oh, and, did I mention that we're the ones harnessed and pulling that cart, like beasts of burden?

Welcome to the Banana Republic of Tulsa: Corporate Plantation 2006.

susan said:

I would love to see a debate between Michael
Bates and McCorkell (did he pay any people off to get those charges dropped yet?) Taylor (she kind of reminds me of the wife on the old t.v. show "Green Acres" -- definitely cannot see her as a serious candidate for Mayor) LaFortune is always going to get a lot of votes -- nice guy who means well) Medlock and Miller.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on February 1, 2006 6:00 AM.

City getting a bit overzealous with campaign signs was the previous entry in this blog.

Miller backs out of debate is the next entry in this blog.

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