Primary election preview, part 1

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The latest Urban Tulsa Weekly is online and has the first installment of the primary election preview, including an overview of what's at stake, the questionnaire we sent to city candidates, a preview of the charter amendment on the March 7th primary ballot (Independents can vote, too!), and stories on the District 3 Democrat primary, and the Democratic and Republican primaries in District 4. The story on each race includes candidate names, addresses, websites, and phone numbers, so you can get in touch, ask tough questions, and offer your help.

Next week's issue should have my stories on the rest of the races. The full text of the candidate responses is not yet online, but I'll link it from here when it is.

My op-ed this week was inspired by a form letter we received from District 4 Democratic candidate John "Jack" Wing. I take apart the conventional wisdom on Council "bickering" (as expressed in Wing's letter) as a way to explain my endorsements in each Council primary, as well as the Republican primary for Mayor.

Primaries are important. As I wrote, "If you let others weed out candidates in the primaries, you may find that they've left you with a choice between two candidates with different party labels but equally unacceptable views on how to run City Hall." Since so many races will be won, or all but won, in the primary, I've made endorsements in each of the primary races. Even though I'm a Republican, it matters to me as a Tulsan whether good men like Roscoe Turner and Jack Henderson win their nominations.

My endorsements for their respective nominations (please note that this does not guarantee an endorsement in the general election):

Mayor Republican: Chris Medlock
Mayor Democrat: To be announced
District 1 Democrat: Jack Henderson
District 2 Republican: Rick Westcott
District 3 Democrat: Roscoe Turner
District 4 Republican: still undecided -- Rick Brinkley is a good man; I'm slightly leaning to Kent Morlan for his awareness of city issues
District 4 Democrat: Maria Barnes
District 5 Republican: no endorsement; Greg Madden is worth a further look
District 5 Democrat: Al Nichols
District 6 Republican: Jim Mautino
District 7 Republican: John Eagleton
District 8 Republican: Cliff Magee
District 9 Republican: Cason Carter

See the column for the reasons why in each race. These good folks could use your help during these last 12 days of the campaign. Call or e-mail and volunteer.

Terry Simonson, in a column that seems to have been written before the FOP announced their endorsement, and long before Bill LaFortune's bizarre action to place Police Chief Dave Been on administrative leave, wants the police rank and file to go beyond issuing an endorsement and to get active on behalf of their candidate.

I'd add only that the candidate the officers ought to be getting behind is not the one their leadership endorsed. When there was an opportunity to shift funding away from gilding the lily at the Fairgrounds and building a new golf cart barn at LaFortune Park, and toward beefing up Tulsa's police force, Chris Medlock took a political risk to propose a way to increase funding for the police department, while Randi Miller opted for protecting the County's sales-tax turf over protecting Tulsans against crime. When "4 to Fix" renewal was being considered by the County Commission, Randi Miller could have shown leadership, could have said the cities need this money more than the County does, but she didn't.

On the subject of bloggers in print: As proud as I am to write for UTW, another blogger's exciting achievement today puts that into perspective. Congratulations to Dawn Eden on her first-ever byline in the Wall Street Journal, a review of the book Fired!, by Annabelle Gurwitch.

(Now that I think about it, the blogger achievement mentioned in the previous entry really puts everything into proper perspective.)


michelle Author Profile Page said:

Originally, Kent Morlan's website stated that he believed that the Tulsa World had the right idea by tearing down the Skelly Building for more parking, because that is what downtown needs--more surface lots. I am not sure if that is still on his website, but I find it very alarming.

That is alarming, if true. As I wrote, I'm still undecided on the District 4 Republican primary (the only Council primary I can vote in), so I'd appreciate any perspectives or additional information on Morlan and Brinkley.

Joseph Wallis said:

Well, I read his manifesto on parking (can't really call it a position). He doesn't specifically support the tearing down of the Skelly building, but he isn't condemning it either.

Joey Author Profile Page said:

I've always enjoyed your writings on our city, but your writings on our politics less so. We certainly differ on this one.

"It was a pitch-perfect recitation of the daily paperís party line on the current City Council."

-- There are many people in this city who don't read the Tulsa World who would also agree with the sentiment of Wing's letter.

"Itís an indication that he hasnít been paying attention to whatís going on at City Hall..."

-- he's uninformed

"...and doesnít understand the important issues that have led to vigorous debates among the Councilors and between the Council and the Mayorís office."

-- he's an idiot

"Either that, or heís complicit in the effort of the cityís establishment..."

-- or, he's a mind-numbed sheep or strategically-placed operative

" an indication of the inability of our core electorate to think for itself and outside the monopoly box-grip the daily still has"

-- and finally, we're all idiots

Mike said:

Michael, here's my perspective. I have never met Kent Morlan, and wouldn't know him if I happened to be standing next to him. That doesn't make him a good person or a bad person.

I am supporting Rick Brinkley, because I DO know his character. He and I both hail from the little town of Collinsville, twenty miles North of Tulsa. Rick greatly admired my father, and as associate pastor of my parents' church, he was at my dad's bedside when he passed away 14 years ago. Rick also conducted my mother's funeral service a little more than a year ago. How he treated both my parents tells me all I need to know about his heart for people.

You may be facing a difficult choice here. I am not.

Bob said:

What I think that Michael is saying in a very nice way about the Tulsa World's constant agitation about "dissension" and "conflict" on the City Council is that the Tulsa World wants everyone to see things THEIR way. And, if you don't go along 100% with their Party Line, you're a nattering Nay-saying Nabob of Negatism.

No dissent tolerated. No questioning of public policy allowed in the Banana Republic of Tulsa.

The World just wants 9-0 Rubber-Stamp votes on every agenda item at every Council meeting. To make sure that the public stays ASLEEP a little while longer.


The Reform Alliance is a group of disparate interests and political parties.

Yet, these men of good conscience have have asking very GOOD questions about Public Policy.

The Tulsa World doesn't want any questions asked UNLESS they are doing the asking. And, since they are pulling the puppet strings downtown, there won't be ANY real substantive questions asked.

And, I didn't hear them asking TOO many questions about the $40 million in taxpayer "investment" in Great Plains Airlines. Did you hear any?

And they kind of overlooked disclosing that they were that they were the majority equity owners of GPA, after being a cheerleader of GPA for 4 years.

Did you hear them say something different?

Mike, thanks for sharing your personal experience with Rick Brinkley. Your opinion carries a lot of weight with me, and everyone I've talked to who knows Rick thinks highly of his character. I haven't learned much about Rick's positions on city issues. I was looking forward to seeing his response to the UTW questionnaire. Do you feel he's pretty sound on city issues?

Joey, thanks for your perspective, too. Do you really agree with Jack Wing that Medlock, Mautino, Henderson, and Turner are "trying to hold the city back, ... doing anything they can to be divisive"?

Wing seems to suggest that there was no substance to the debates and differences at City Hall, which is the line the Whirled has been selling for two years. I tried to rebut that perspective with specific counterexamples. These supposedly divisive do-nothings have managed to get a lot of initiatives passed, and since they are only four of the nine councilors, that means they found enough common ground with the other five to make something happen.

As the monopoly daily paper, the Whirled shapes the conventional wisdom in a way that extends beyond its direct readership and filters into the way other media outlets cover the news.

Are people idiots because they buy into the framework the Whirled has constructed? No. They're busy people who don't pay close attention to city matters, and they trust the paper to paint a fair and accurate picture. I expect candidates for city office to be paying more attention and to exercise more discernment than the average voter.

Way back in 2003, I wrote about how the Whirled hides its agenda, trying to keep issues of growth, development, and land use out of the public debate. They're still at it, distorting the picture so much that they characterize as "anti-development" a Councilor like Jim Mautino, who has been pleading for city infrastructure and talking up the area to developers so that east Tulsa can be developed.

During his first year as a Councilor, Chris Medlock tried to put together a future growth study, to address the need to accommodate growth and encourage more retail development in the city limits without trampling the interests of homeowners. He had the support of then-Councilors Williams, Patrick, Baker, Roop, and Neal, and LaFortune was on-board. Then the Home Builders Association pitched a fit, and LaFortune pulled the plug because Christiansen, Sullivan, and Justis would not support the task force. Medlock built a consensus for a pro-growth initiative, and yet the Whirled vilifies him as divisive and anti-growth.

Mike said:

Michael, I don't profess to know Rick's position on all city issues at this time, but I do know some things, based on his answers at a District 4 candidate forum earlier this month at Barnard Elementary. He is a staunch opponent of eminent domain, when private property is taken for other private development. His opinion of the Arvest Bank building at 15th and Utica precisely mirrors mine. We did not oppose the building--we did, however, strongly protest (in vain) the curb cut onto S. Victor, and the excessive incursion into the adjacent HP district.

He is a strong advocate for increased emphasis on public safety, and this is not surprising. He has seen plenty of rip-offs, as head of the Better Business Bureau, but he also seems to understand the gravity of violent crime in Tulsa at this time.

Rick is very bright, perceptive, and I believe he possesses a healthy degree of introspection, a characteristic sadly lacking in several Tulsa politicians currently in office.

Joey Author Profile Page said:

No, I don't agree with him that they are "trying to hold the city back, ... doing anything they can to be divisive". But that doesn't mean that I don't agree with some of what he said.

I agree with you that the Tulsa World puts forth a framework and that framework is deceiving. However, there is another prominent framework that says that everything that Chris Medlock and the "racially diverse, bipartisan reform coalition" does is right and everything that "the establishment" does is wrong. This framework is put forth by a different media outlet - KFAQ and Michael DelGiorno - and is equally deceiving.

Frameworks are great except when they don't work :-)

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on February 22, 2006 11:09 PM.

The stork's about to land at the Gleeson Bloglomerate was the previous entry in this blog.

Candidate forums for Council races February 28 is the next entry in this blog.

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