Give IRV, and the Towerview, a chance

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When I filed this week's column Monday morning, I had no way of knowing the final result, but I felt certain that whoever won the Republican nomination for Mayor would win without a majority of the vote. I thought that was the optimum time to write about the advantages of instant runoff voting without drawing complaints that it was an exercise in sour grapes.

For what it's worth, I've proposed instant runoff voting at least twice during the City Council's charter review process held every two years.

You'll find more information about instant runoff voting at FairVote, which reports that Burlington, Vermont, used IRV to elect their mayor this last Tuesday.

And here's the Burlington Votes website, with a helpful and thorough set of answers to frequently-asked questions, the results of the two rounds of the mayoral election, a sample ballot, and, for election nerds, a text representation of each ballot and the open-source software used to count the ballots.

Also, this week's Urban Tulsa Weekly has a story by Ginger Shepherd about Maurice Kanbar and Henry Kaufman's plans for downtown Tulsa. And Gretchen Collins talks to the two Portland-based investors who hope to convert the Towerview Apartments into lofts.

That latter story is very encouraging, but the most discouraging note is that city officials and the head of Downtown Tulsa Unlimited tried to talk them out of doing anything with the building. It's a shame our local yokels don't seem to understand that good, urban downtowns are built, renovated, and redeveloped one lot, one building at a time. When you start talking about whole blocks or superblocks or (heaven forbid) acres devoted to a single use, you're not talking about an urban streetscape any more, but transplanted suburbia.

The Towerview is the building that city officials have targeted for condemnation to make way for a hotel across the street from the arena. There's no reason that a hotel can't coexist with a restored Towerview and other new buildings besides. The Crowne Plaza takes up about a half-block, the Mayo a quarter-block, the old Holiday Inn/Ramada about a third of a block. Even the Doubletree, able to sprawl a bit because it's built on urban renewal land, would fit in less than a full block.

Here are a couple TulsaNow forum topics about the Towerview:

Towerview photos

Discussion of LaFortune's plan to condemn the Towerview


i thought the towerview's fate was sealed?

'seems like the arena is surrounded pretty tightly on all 4 sides. where's anyone going to park?
are there any plans at all -- in DTU's downtown master plan, or anywhere else -- about mixed-use office and retail somewhere near the area, where folks would be able to browse, eat, drink, be merry, etc. ...rather than just getting in to their cars after an even and just going home?

XonOFF said:

What do we need to do to get IRV implemented? Is it a simple matter of a Council Resolution? Then, a ballot?

Also, reporting of election results is horendous. The 'Summary' report provided by the Election Board gives less info than the local media reports. What's it take to get election results presented such that it may be seen what actually happened? I'm not marching down to the Election Board after each election and requesting data (for a fee). We do have a right to see this data.

Seems reporting by precinct and party, number of absentee ballots, in-person absentee ballots, etc. would be a minumum.

It'd cost each person who wanted this data something like $40 or more. And, that's for a PRINTED report. We want digital data.

Tulsans need to demand this of our officials. It's all too obvious they do not wish for it to be widely available.

SteveWSmith said:

I like your IRV proposal and it reminds me of a pet peeve I have had about Oklahoma elections ever since I moved here from Indiana 18 years ago. Indiana (at that time at least) rarely had open polls more than 3 - 4 times, and usually only 2 x per year. Whether it was the school board, bond issues, primary or general, it was scheduled for those pre-defined, clearly understand voting dates.

In Oklahoma, you really have to be an election junkie to keep up with the next scheduled voting date, which by my count consistenly numbers 6 times a year or more in Tulsa. This might sound like a good thing - more elections can't be bad, right - but it has two big negatives. First it has to kill turnout, not to mention public awareness on given issues. Second, it has to be expensive.

So, along with IRV, I would argue that we can save money and promote greater public awareness of the issues by encouraging fewer, but consistently scheduled elections.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on March 11, 2006 11:10 AM.

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