July 2006 Archives

Oklahoma highway map history


Wow! The Oklahoma Department of Transportation has scanned and posted official Oklahoma state highway maps going back to statehood. There are the annual maps produced from 1924 to 1996, the biennial maps produced since 1997, and a few early maps from 1873, 1907, 1916, 1919, and 1921. For most of the maps, there's also a scan and a description of the back of the map.

I've been looking at the 1916 map, which shows the highways overlaid on the township and section grid, along with railways, rivers, and county lines. Although many of the inter-town routes on the map were later incorporated into numbered highways, not all were. For example, there's the road from Tulsa to Jenks: Peoria to 71st to Lewis to the 96th Street bridge. Or from Catoosa to Broken Arrow: 193rd to 11th to Lynn Lane. The road from Tulsa to Bixby and Broken Arrow went down Harvard and 51st to Memorial, with the BA route splitting off at 71st and the Bixby route, shifting 1 mile east at 111th to Mingo. The map shows the bridge crossing about halfway between Mingo and Memorial.

The big kids are with the grandparents tonight, so it's just me, my wife, and the baby. After dinner out, we enjoyed a romantic evening of...

...shopping the going-out-of-business sale at the 31st and Garnett Albertson's.

They close on July 31. The back half of the store is cleaned out and blocked with yellow tape. All the fresh stuff is gone, as are most of the cosmetics, toiletries, and over-the-counter meds. They have grocery items at 50% off, spices at 70% off, and general merchandise at 80% off.

Most of what was left was non-perishable. They had a lot of spices, condiments, ethnic food (e.g., curry mixes, flavored soy sauce), coffee and tea, exotic canned veggies like artichoke hearts and hearts of palm, some canned fruits and vegetables. There were some frozen goods -- ice cream, vegetables, seafood.

We filled a cart, and because we were buying unusual items, the "cost density" was higher than normal. It was a bit frightening to watch the "amount due" number on the screen climb and climb and climb, stopping at $493.51. When the cashier hit the subtotal button, the total started to drop as each item was individually discounted. It took a couple of minutes for all the discounts to be credited. The final total for the 124 items we bought was $199.20, including tax.

I'm just amazed we could get nearly $500 worth of merchandise in one standard-sized shopping cart.

The 21st and Memorial location is also going out of business, and I think there is one more, but I can't remember which one. If memory serves, these stores opened as Skaggs Alpha Beta some time around 1974.

Logrolling is a time-honored technique for funding projects that couldn't stand up to focused scrutiny. You lump a project of questionable importance in with essential appropriations, so that no one dare vote against it. That setup makes it very hard for a voter to hold his own legislator accountable for wasteful spending.

Here in Oklahoma, the most notable TV ad of the governor's race was from the Bob Sullivan campaign. It featured Gailard Sartain, and it targeted Ernest Istook for supporting federal money for a California tattoo removal program and for bringing gorillas to Kentucky. The ad was successful in bringing attention to the campaign and in raising a question about Istook's record.

Istook was able to rebut the ad by saying that those two votes were part of massive spending packages which included essential projects. He was also able to say that the rest of the Republicans in the Oklahoma delegation voted for the same bills. Every congressman who voted for those bills can use the same excuse. The only congressman who can be definitively tied to the specific pork project is the guy representing the district that's getting the money.

Arizona Republican Congressman Jeff Flake has found a way to put his colleagues on record in support or opposition to wasteful spending. He proposed 19 amendments to appropriations bills, each one of which would have removed funding for a pork project. None of his amendments passed. In fact, 280 congressmen did not vote in favor of a single amendment.

Club for Growth has helpfully collected in one place a summary of how every House member voted on the 19 appropriations amendments Flake offered in late May and June.

Only one Oklahoma congressman gets a passing grade. John Sullivan, representing the 1st District, supported Flake on 16 of 19 votes -- 84% -- which puts him in the top 10 percent of the House.

Ernest Istook voted to cut only six of the 19 pork projects -- 32%, but still better than 82% of his colleagues. Istook's record is just a bit better than the Republican average of 5.1 anti-pork yes votes. (Democrats averaged 0.55 yes votes out of 19.)

The remaining three -- Dan Boren (D-2nd District), Frank Lucas (R-3rd District), Tom Cole (R-4th District) -- voted against all 19 pork-slicing amendments.

The projects that Flake targeted include a half-million-dollar swimming pool in Banning, California, a theater in Plattsburgh, New York, and a science museum in Virginia. They all sound like worthwhile projects, but not matters of national importance. Any funding for these projects should come from local government or the private sector.

First (and probably briefest) in a series:

Tulsa County DA Tim Harris prevailed over a tough challenge, but a few other incumbent District Attorneys didn't make it.

Tim Kuykendall, 12-year DA in Cleveland, McClain, and Garvin counties, lost to challenger Greg Mashburn, 63% to 37%. While Tim Harris was criticized for having too high a conviction rate (supposedly an indication that he was cherry-picking cases and wasn't filing charges he should have), Kuykendall was criticized by Mashburn for "winning only 34% of jury trials." Like Brett Swab in Tulsa County, Mashburn made an issue of FOP endorsements.

Richard Gray, one-term incumbent DA for Wagoner, Sequoyah, Cherokee, and Adair Counties, finished first in his Democratic primary, but barely. Gray was hurt by the legal problems of one of his aides Vyrl Keeter (who had also been an aide to former Congressman Brad Carson). Keeter pled guilty to perjury and has some other charges pending. 170 votes separate Gray from second-place finisher Jerry Moore, and the runoff's winner will face Republican Brian Kuester.

John David Luton has been Muskogee County DA since 1992, but this was the first time he ever had to run for office. He was appointed by Governor David Walters and never faced an opponent until this year. He lost by a two-to-one margin to Larry Moore, a former assistant DA from Fort Gibson.

Tim Harris's re-election win is all the more impressive in light of successful challenges in these other DA districts.

Ordinarily, a public official would be happy to be re-elected without opposition, but it can be a bad thing. A campaign is a time to reconnect with the voters, to explain to them what you're doing, and to hear their concerns. Without the need to campaign, an official can be so focused on just getting the job done that he fails to explain to his bosses -- the people who elected him -- what he's been accomplishing on their behalf.

Starting in late August, former Mayor Bill LaFortune and former Tulsa County Democratic Chairman Elaine Dodd will be doing a weekly show on OETA called "He Said, She Said." J. Hayes posted the following on the okdemocrat.com message board:

After former Tulsa Mayor Bill Lafortune and former Tulsa County Democratic Chairman Elaine Dodd gave respective analysis of both the repub and the Democrat primary results tonight on OETA’s campaign coverage, an idea for a new show was spawned. The new show will cover the local Tulsa political scene and is sure to be a big hit with activists of both parties. The weekly show will be called 'He Said She Said' and is set to premier in August just after the state runoff elections. More details to follow as they become available.

Elaine Dodd replied on the same thread:

Mayor Bill and I "tape" our first show on August 23 (his birthday) and mine follows five days thereafter so I think I'll bake a cake--he may want to check for any surprises inside!

If you have any suggestions for political topics, please email me. All politics is local afterall.


It's an interesting choice of hosts. I have the impression that Elaine Dodd is still very plugged in to local Democratic Party politics and would have a lot of insider info to draw upon, but as far as I know LaFortune hasn't been seen at a Republican event since the mayoral election.

So what has the former mayor been doing? A little bit of this and that, it appears. A Whirled story last Wednesday says that he is building a private civil law practice, with zoning and real estate among his specialties, working as an administrative law judge, and consulting for OU-Tulsa and Pinnacle Packaging.

If you're looking for more commentary on the election come back later tonight. I'm beat after hitting six watch parties last night (Anna Falling, John Sullivan, Jim Caputo, Tim Harris, J. Anthony Miller, Chris Medlock), then getting up to help with the primary post-mortem.

(Best watch party food award goes to District Judge candidate Jim Caputo, who had barbecue from Albert G.'s, one of the few places in town that offers sliced smoked pork.)

In the meantime, here's a link to this week's column in Urban Tulsa Weekly. It's about a study, by Conventions, Sports, and Leisure, International, of the feasibility of a new downtown Tulsa convention hotel. The current issue also includes stories about the over-budget arena bailout, the City's process for parceling out Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) money, and a feature story about the Tulsa Talons cheerleaders.

In the battle for the 1st Congressional District Republican nomination, ORU librarian Evelyn Rogers defeated Fran Mo-Ghaddam by 5,824 to 1,894, despite Mo-Ghaddam's automated phone call to Republican voters and her last-minute yardsign blitz. Mo-Ghaddam didn't got 'em mo-mentum.

Incumbent John Sullivan squeaked past both of them with 38,274 votes.

For more results in the statewide, legislative, and judicial races, visit the Oklahoma State Election Board's 2006 primary results page.

KOTV has the best county results. Here is the County Commission District 1 primary. Here is the County Commission District 3 primary. (District Attorney and District Judge races are on the state election board website.)

UPDATE: The Tulsa County Election Board has Tulsa County results for all the races on the ballot. I'm fascinated by the number of undervotes in each race -- the number of voters who didn't mark a name in that race. 7,150 voters didn't vote in the countywide District Judge primary (Office 10). Oddly, 40 voters overvoted -- marked two or more names in that race.

Click the photo for a 3000x2000 (300 dpi) version of the photo of me that ran over my column during most of 2006.

Michael D. Bates, columnist for Urban Tulsa Weekly

Primary election endorsements


I'll be on 1170 KFAQ with Michael DelGiorno and Gwen Freeman starting at 6:10 a.m. this morning for a special primary election preview.

For your voting convenience, here are the endorsements I've made in statewide and local Republican races and the non-partisan judicial races, starting with the top of the ballot:

Governor: State Sen. James Williamson is the most experienced and knowledgable candidate in the race, the best qualified to be Governor of Oklahoma -- incumbent Brad Henry included. Williamson has been a leader in the legislature for fiscal restraint, meaningful lawsuit reform, and the protection of the sanctity of human life.

Lt. Governor: Can't really go wrong in this primary -- all three candidates are good people, and it grieves me to see the mud flying back and forth. State Sen. Scott Pruitt has the biggest vision for the office, taking full advantage of the powers of the office to advance a conservative vision for Oklahoma.

State Treasurer: Dan Keating has already demonstrated that he'll be a watchdog for the taxpayers' interests by calling attention to the problems created by the Henry-Meacham tribal tobacco compacts. Howard Barnett's vocal support for the anti-democratic at-large city councilor proposal shows an appreciation for clubby insider politics, an attitude that we don't need in the office that invests our state's financial assets.

State Insurance Commissioner: I'm not bowled over by either candidate, but Tahl Willard seems to have more relevant experience, including a stint as the Insurance Department's Regional Director for Eastern Oklahoma and manager of the Tulsa office, along with an impressive set of insurance certifications. His opponent, Bill Case, is a term-limited State Rep. who was nominated for the Oklahoma Conservative PAC's RINO (Republican in Name Only) award every year for the last five, winning once.

U. S. Representative, District 1: On fiscal and social issues, on border security and national security, Congressman John Sullivan has been as consistent a conservative as you could want on the full range of congressional issues.

State Senate, District 36: There's more to Joe Lester than a catchy jingle. His newspaper articles reveal an intelligent, principled conservatism, and he would bring almost 40 years of law enforcement experience (U. S. Army MP, City of Tulsa, University of Oklahoma) to the Legislature.

State House, District 68: Incumbent Chris Benge is the best choice for another term.

State House, District 69: Former City Councilor Chris Medlock would bring a needed perspective to the Legislature. He's a conservative who understands the impact that state government has on Oklahoma's largest cities. As I wrote a couple of months ago: "I think Chris would make an excellent legislator. The Republican caucus needs more members who will keep it committed to conservative and free-market principles. Chris Medlock understands that being pro-business means providing an environment in which all businesses can thrive, not making special deals for special interests."

State House, District 76: John Wright is another incumbent with a strong conservative record who deserves re-election.

District Attorney, District No. 14 (Tulsa County): Despite declining arrests, eight-year incumbent Tim Harris has put away a record number of bad guys, focusing his department's resources on the cases that matter most. Challenger Brett Swab's campaign is grounded in misleading presentation of facts. One attorney asked me, rhetorically, if Swab will twist the facts to win his "case" against Harris, will he twist the facts to win in court?

Tulsa County Commission, District 1: Former City Councilor Anna Falling hasn't lost any of her enthusiasm and drive, but her leadership of a faith-based outreach to Tulsa's needy has smoothed off some of the rough edges. Tulsa County government needs someone willing to move beyond the way things have always been done and someone who will look out for the taxpayers' interests first.

Tulsa County Commission, District 3: State Rep. Fred Perry is the most consistent conservative in this race, and his rapport with grassroots Republicans and legislative leaders will serve Tulsa County well. Any of the other three candidates would likely mean a continuation of good ol' business as usual at the County Courthouse.

District Judge, District 14, Office 4:: Collinsville Municipal Judge Jim Caputo is my pick for this office, which is on the ballot only in northern and eastern Tulsa County.

District Judge, District 14, Office 10:: There are a number of good candidates in this race, but I've known J. Anthony Miller for over a decade as an elder in our church. I am confident that Miller has the experience, temperament, and prudence to be an excellent district judge.

Tulsa County Election Board has posted sample ballots for every precinct.

In addition to the above elections, Berryhill Fire Protection District has a vote on whether to expand its territory, and the Town of Skiatook is voting on a 10-year extension to a one-cent sales tax.

Here are links to my election preview columns from Urban Tulsa Weekly:

The Tulsa County judicial races
The statewide races
The Tulsa County legislative races
The Tulsa County DA and Commission races

The Flying Roll

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We had dinner tonight at The Flying Roll restaurant near 51st and Memorial. We were driving past it on our way to a restaurant further south when I thought of it and remembered that the almost-10-year-old had been wanting to eat there.

Everyone enjoyed the food, the kids especially. You get all you care to eat of the side items -- green salad, mashed potatoes and cream gravy, green beans, creamed corn. It's all served family style. The main dish is the only thing that isn't served family style -- everyone picks their own from a list of eight or nine. We had catfish, smoked chicken, pot roast, and chicken tenders. During the meal they also brought by some fried okra and blackeyed peas.

As parents, we always appreciate it when our kids don't have to wait too long for their food. It reduces the chance that they'll fill up on crackers or milk and won't have any appetite left when their meal arrives. At The Flying Roll, they brought out a bowl of salad within a couple of minutes of our being seated; we started eating before we placed our orders.

The gimmick of the place is that they bring hot rolls fresh from the oven and toss them to the diners. The almost-10-year-old loved this concept; he was our designated roll fielder.

We brought some baby food with us, but it wasn't enough to keep the little one happy, so I gave him some of the mashed potatoes. He didn't love them, but he did eat them, and they stayed eaten. So he has now eaten his first non-baby-food.

Every election season, Oklahomans for Life asks candidates to go on record with their views on the sanctity of human life. Here's a link to a PDF file of the July 2006 Oklahomans for Life newsletter with all the candidate responses. It's interesting to see who responded and who didn't bother.

Even if an elective office won't have direct involvement in issues like abortion and euthanasia, it's useful to know where a candidate stands, because it gives you a clue about his worldview, his philosophical basis for making decisions.

Joe Momma's Pizza, that is, at 61st and US 169. The blog is a mixture of oddities around the web (funny videos, games) plus what's happening at the restaurant, like this strange little game the employees play. The earlier Blogger incarnation of Joe Momma's blog tells the story of Blake Ewing's pursuit of his dream to own a one-of-a-kind pizzeria downtown. Taking over and redoing an existing Simple Simon's pizza place is a step toward that dream.

A blog entry from a few months ago has some funny lines from the late comedian Mitch Hedberg:

I’m against picketing, but I don’t know how to show it.

I was walking down the street with my friend and he said "I hear music." As if there’s any other way to take it in.

I think foosball is a combination of soccer and shish kabobs.

(Found more Hedberg material on Wikiquote -- funny stuff, reminds me of Steven Wright, but Hedberg was rather free with gratuitous vulgarities. "A Lot of Death Metal bands have intense names like Rigor Mortis or Mortuary or Obituary. We weren't that intense. We just went with 'Injured.' And later we changed it to 'A Cappella'... as we were walkin' out of the pawn shop." "I had a stick of Carefree gum, but it didn't work. I felt pretty good while I was blowing that bubble, but as soon as the gum lost its flavor, I was back to pondering my mortality.")

Anyway, best wishes for future success to Joe Momma's Pizza. (Here's a link to Katherine Kelly's review from Urban Tulsa Weekly. She gave it high marks.)

From the Wall Street Journal:

Lost amid the veto politics this week was the fact that Congress also moved in other ways on ethics and medical research. Mr. Bush signed a bill passed unanimously by the House and Senate that outlawed "fetal farming," or the practice of raising and aborting fetuses for scientific research. The Senate also passed legislation that would have encouraged greater research into exploiting the stem cells scientists need without destroying embryos, as well as research into adult stem cells. That bill failed in the House, mainly because Democrats think they can use stem cells as a political issue against Republicans this fall.

The bill, S. 2754, passed the Senate unanimously, but for some reason needed a two-thirds vote to suspend the rules and pass the bill in the House. The vote was 273-154, with nearly all Republicans voting in favor, and two-thirds of the Democrats voting against.

Only stem cells from non-embryonic sources have found therapeutic uses. Pro-Life Blogs has a list of recent stories about adult stem-cell breakthroughs.

The legislative candidates who support the south Tulsa toll bridge are saying that the legislature has nothing to do with the issue, and that the bridge shouldn't be an issue in a State House race.

Here's an example to the contrary from this morning's Whirled:

The city of Tulsa's Legal Division does not believe that another government can condemn city land that's needed for the bridge and has cited relevant Supreme Court case law, but Bixby City Attorney Phil Frazier says his city is within its rights to do so.

He bases his stance on an Oklahoma Supreme Court ruling from 1965, when he was Tulsa's city attorney.

In that case, the high court held that Tulsa had the right of eminent domain on property in Rogers County, which Tulsa needed to develop the navigation channel for the Port of Catoosa.

"This very same fuss was going on, and the city of Tulsa went to the Oklahoma Supreme Court for a decision," Frazier said. "The Supreme Court came back and said that as long as it was in close proximity that the city of Tulsa could condemn.

The Legislature could, and should, define more precisely whether one city can condemn land within the boundaries of another, or whether a county can condemn land within municipal boundaries. The Legislature could, and should, define more precisely whether one city can condemn land owned by another, or whether a county can condemn land owned by a municipality. The Legislature could, and should, determine whether a public authority can be created for the purpose of condemning property for the use of a profit-making private company. The Legislature could, and should, determine who has jurisdiction over riverbeds. It's my understanding that none of these issues are set out plainly in the law. All of these issues bear on whether this bridge can be built without the City of Tulsa's approval.

By the way, in Mr. Frazier's example, the City of Tulsa was condemning property in unincorporated Rogers County, not within the boundaries of another city, and not property belonging to another city. The issue for the south Tulsa toll bridge is whether an Bixby-Jenks Title 60 trust or Tulsa County can condemn land within and owned by the City of Tulsa.

In the House District 69 race, Fred Jordan and Darrell Gwartney support the IVI toll bridge; Chris Medlock, Lisa DeBolt, and Jeff Applekamp oppose it.

Our little one is now six and a half months old. At his six-month checkup back on July 11, he was 17 lbs. 6.5 oz., 26" long, and a 45 1/2 cm. head circumference.

It was about that time that we started him on some solid food: oatmeal and rice baby cereal, applesauce, squash, and today for the first time green beans. There has been the expected change in diaper contents. The baby is a good eater, and my wife is happy that she is no longer his sole source for calories.

He can roll now, too -- both directions and for quite a distance. Strings are very entertaining. He occasionally makes a "ba" sound, although the consonant is about halfway between a b and a v, a consonantal compromise made famous by Amy Grant in her hit single "Baby, Baby" (aka "Vavy, Vavy"). Mostly he utters these happy squawks, like a parrot or a grackle. (All three kids went through this squawking phase, and it always reminds me of a fraternity brother who would emit loud squawks to startle people.)

He loves drinking water. He will sip it out of a cup or a bottle. I opened a bottle of Ozarka the other day while I was holding him: He grabbed it with both hands and latched his mouth onto the opening.

Our oldest had his first violin lesson with his Mom today. He's been anxious to start learning.

The nearly-six-year-old has mixed up baby food and fed the baby several times, and she is deservedly proud of being such a helpful big sister.

A week ago, the whole family made our annual trek with friends to the Bartlesville Playground, aka the Kiddie Park. This little collection of two dozen rides, mainly for kids ages 1 to 10, has been around for over fifty years. It was there when my family lived in Bartlesville in the late '60s, and it is fun to see my kids on the same rides -- the train (and the tunnel that everyone screams in), the carousel, the biplanes that you can make go up and down, the little ferris wheel where everyone sits in a kind of painted cage, the little boats, the little cars.

Here's a picture of me (left foreground) and my sister (just behind me, looking directly at the camera), in the summer of 1968. I am not positive, but I think that is my Uncle Robert -- six years my senior -- in the background, just above my head. In the left background, I believe, is my grandmother, my Aunt Connie, and my Aunt Gerry (pregnant with my cousin Mandy). Mom must have been taking the picture.


This year was a little awkward. The baby can't sit up for long by himself, so he was too small for the rides, while my almost-10-year-old was too tall for all but about six rides. The almost-six-year-old was the right size for everything, including being big enough to reach the bumper car pedals and to steer without getting stuck in a corner or in a circle. We did take the baby on the carousel, and I held him on a horse for a few seconds, which he loved, before I handed him back to nervous Mommy.

To keep the big boy from getting too bored, I took him for a walk. I led him under the Highway 123 bridge to Delaware Street, the path my mom used to take me to walk to the playground at Johnstone Park. I showed him the vacant lot on the east side of Delaware between 1st and 2nd, where my first house in Bartlesville had been. We lived in that house from May '65 to sometime in the spring of '67, when we moved to Rogers St. near Jane Phillips Elementary. My earliest memories are in that house: Watching Ed Sullivan and space missions on TV, having a cut-out cake for my birthday (one I wouldn't let Mom cut), having my first dog, a beagle named Easy, and -- my very earliest memory -- on Easter Sunday looking out the kitchen window with my Grandma Bates at a rainbow.

From that house, we could walk to our church, the library, the grocery store, the park, the doctor's office (right across the street), the Sani-Pool, and all of the downtown shops, and Dad could walk to work. That was a good thing because our family's Ford -- the last one we ever owned -- wasn't a very reliable vehicle. This early experience obviously warped my impressionable mind into believing that getting around on foot was normal.

So I told my son all about this. I pointed out where the Thunderbird Cafe had been -- they had the jukebox buttons at each booth. (The building's still there at 2nd and Cherokee.) We walked down Frank Phillips toward the old Santa Fe depot. (It now houses the local Chamber of Commerce HQ.) I'm told that when my family lived in Lawrence, Kansas, Mom and I would take the AT&SF to visit her parents in Dewey, but I don't remember that at all. We did ride the train on my fifth birthday, just as far as Copan, just because I wanted to. (Dad met us in the car and brought us home.)

My son and I walked back to the Kiddie Park past Doenges Stadium, the 76-year-old ballpark that hosted Western Association and K-O-M League teams (Class D minor league) in the '30s and '40s, and is now home to American Legion baseball and national tournaments.

Back at Kiddie Park, we stayed until the place closed, as we always do. We always have a great time there.

(Here's an account of an earlier visit to Bartlesville. And OCPA pundit Brandon Dutcher, another former Bartian, took his family to the Kiddie Park earlier this summer, and has pictures.)

UPDATE: Tom Elmore writes in the comments on this entry:

Seems to me Bartlesville's reverent preservation of a tradition as gentle and wonderful as the Kiddie Park is worthy of the thanks and praise of anybody who still cares about what we used to call "civilization."

Happy Americanniversary, Karol


On Thursday, Karol celebrated the 28th anniversary of her family's arrival in America from Russia. She writes:

As has been noted by many people before, you can move to China and never be Chinese, France and never be French, Brazil...well, you get it. But move to America and a few years later you're American, just like everyone else.

Karol has links to her previous anniversary posts. The highlight of the post is a picture of her, beaming with pride, an adorable curly-redheaded six-year-old posing with the judge on the day she became an American citizen. "I remember being so happy, I was going to be an American like my brother who had had the good fortune of being born here. If I look thrilled, it is because I was (and still am)." You will want to read her account of that day, with the story of why she was up on the stage with the judge.

Don't be surprised if you get a little choked up. I did.

This week's Urban Tulsa Weekly column covers the District Attorney's race between incumbent Tim Harris and challenger Brett Swab, as well as, in brief, the two Tulsa County Commission races. The column takes a critical look at the numbers Swab has been using in making his case against Harris's re-election. In the County Commission races I endorse former City Councilor Anna Falling in District 1 and State Rep. Fred Perry in District 3.

(UPDATE: In response to meeciteewurkor's question in the comments, District 2 Commissioner Randi Miller is not up for re-election until 2008. County Commissioners serve four-year terms. In every county, District 1 and 3 Commissioners are elected in the same year as state-wide offices; District 2 Commissioners are elected in presidential election years. In 2002, we had the unusual situation of electing all three Tulsa County Commissioners, because District 2 Commissioner John Selph resigned in March of that year. District 3 Commissioner Bob Dick was re-elected without opposition in 2002.)

Also, this week's issue has the big, big 2006 Absolute Best of Tulsa special section, split online into five categories: kids and family, local celebrities, mind and body, restaurants, and goods and services.

I posted this a year ago March, after a Council meeting when things didn't go as anyone expected. It seems appropriate again tonight:

Trust is a fragile thing.

Trust is essential to any human endeavor involving more than one person (which is to say, nearly every endeavor worthy of pursuit), but it is easily broken and once broken it is almost impossible to mend.

You can go from treasured friend to arms-length acquaintance and not realize it's happened until it's too late. It's like being demoted, but someone forgot to copy you on the memo. Good will is gone, and its absence is evident in body language and tone of voice. Warm smiles are replaced by chilly glares.

It comes down to this: Before, your actions and words were given the benefit of the doubt. Your good intentions were assumed. After, your actions and words are viewed with suspicion of dark motives, and actions and words from the past are reinterpreted in accordance with this new, negative theory of you.

And here's the worst part: Every effort you make to find out what went wrong, to mend fences, to seek restoration is viewed through the same lens of suspicion. Far from patching the hole, your efforts only dig it deeper. What sounds like a simple, reasonable explanation as it leaves your mouth reaches your erstwhile friend's ear as defensive and evasive.

(UPDATE: Dawn Summers posted a "not so random thought" a couple of days ago that captures this situation perfectly -- "I was there when we became friends, where was I when we became strangers?")

What can bring about such a dramatic change, in the absence of any intentional breach of trust? A seed of doubt, watered by imagination, is all it takes. The seed may be planted by accident, the misapplication of past experience, or it may be planted deliberately by someone seeking to destroy a friendship or an alliance.

In the battle for the Tulsa's future, the coalition of reformers is made up of people who are just getting to know each other, and the bond of trust is not yet fully formed. We are vulnerable to attack at this point, and we must guard against it.

Thursday night's City Council meeting didn't go the way anyone expected. Allies inadvertently ended up working at cross-purposes, but some observers jumped to the conclusion that there had been a betrayal, that some sort of deal had been cut to the disadvantage of the Reform Alliance. The seed of doubt was planted and imagination watered it. I'm hopeful that efforts to root it out quickly were successful.

Brethren, we need to watch and pray, because we are surely under attack. And we need to give each other the benefit of the doubt.

Someone said some words that were misunderstood and taken out of context. Instead of trying to settle this misunderstanding privately, those offended decided to take their dispute public. I have spent a good deal of my time these last three days trying to get everyone to talk to each other before bridges are irretrievably burned. It may be too late. The story is now in the hands of those who are gleeful at the prospect of the Reform Coalition torn asunder. I do not believe that was the intention of those who chose to take the matter public, but I fear that is the effect.

Please pray for peace and healing.

Here are a couple of interesting items on the intersection between faith and politics.

On RedState, Erick Erickson, a political consultant in Georgia, has an explanation for the defeat of Ralph Reed and an evangelical legislative candidate in Tuesday's Georgia Republican primaries, and it's not that voters are rejecting religious values:

Ralph Reed and Kay Goodwin lost, not because they were the evangelical candidate, but because they were poseurs....

For some reason, there are always candidates who think that to run as a social conservative they have to play up to evangelicals on issues that only evangelicals care about. They rally the faithful and pack the churches. But in doing this they expose their achilles heel.

All an opponent has to do is cast reasonable doubt on the character of the evangelical candidate and that candidate's base will stay home. You convince a strong Christian that his preferred candidate has serious character flaws and the Christian is not going to vote for a man shown to be of morally poor character. And that's what happened in Georgia.

Erickson quotes Peggy Noonan's Wall Street Journal column: "Is [Ralph Reed] a Christian who went into politics, or a politician who went into Christianity?"

Erickson's advice:

The moral of all of this for an evangelical running for office is to run as a conservative, not an evangelical. Talk about conservative issues and let your values shine through. Be humble and don't make your values the issue. After all, in a race of multiple conservatives, it is a lot easier to tear down the guy who is running as the super Christian than it is to out Christian him.

Here's the context of that Peggy Noonan quote, and a bit more:

I always thought the question about Mr. Reed is: Is he a Christian who went into politics, or a politician who went into Christianity? Was he sincere and driven by a desire to have a positive impact on public policy, or a mover driven by a desire to get a piece of the action as American Christians, disaffected from a Democratic Party that had grown wildly insensitive to, and in fact disdainful of, their values, started to become a force in the Republican Party? Maybe one or the other, maybe both, maybe both but to different degrees....

When I read some of the emails he'd sent to lobbyist friends--"I need some corporations, I need some moolah," that kind of thing--I thought: Ick. This is a man suffering from a case of advanced insiderism. This is a guy who thinks it's cool to be cynical.

Anyway, his defeat this week came at the hands not of "them," of the left, but of conservative voters on the ground in Georgia. His loss seems to me another sign of one of those quiet changing of the guards in professional politics. Quietly an older generation recedes, quietly a newer one rises.

Good. We need new.

Not sure why, but Reed has always given me the creeps from his initial emergence as head of the Christian Coalition. My respect for him grew during his service as Georgia Republican Party chairman. He put himself in the background in 2002 and used his organizational skills to mobilize the grass roots. As a result, Republicans won the legislature and several statewide races, some that Republicans hadn't won since Reconstruction. What he did in Georgia became a model for the national Republican get-out-the-vote effort in 2004. In Oklahoma, it won all 77 counties for Bush and swept Tom Coburn into the Senate with a commanding margin.

As impressive as he is as a strategist, Reed doesn't come across well as a person. There's not even the kind of sarcastic wit that humanized Bob Dole. I'm not surprised Georgia voters passed him by.

Now for a bigger-picture lok at the intersection between faith and politics: Last weekend over at Junkyard Blog, See-Dubya posted a brilliant piece explaining the similar outlooks of traditional Christianity and modern American conservatism:

One of the greatest things about Christianity—one of its most powerful, if most cynical and unappealing, insights—is the fallen nature of man. This is, I think, one of the reasons for its worldly success: most people can understand and acknowledge that there is an evil and selfish element in even the most saintly of us.

This is one reason Christianity and modern American-style conservatism are so closely related. Both reject the notion that humans may perfect themselves. The first sin in the Garden was committed on the false promise that “ye shall be as gods”; but likewise the false promise of Marxism was that we might pull ourselves by our own bootstraps out of misery and into a terrestrial paradise. Millions and millions of deaths later, we see that’s not the case and that it was hubris to think that we could ignore those realistic assessments of human nature offered by Christianity—and by Chesterton, and by public-choice economics. The safest bet is that people will do what is in their interest. Anything else, any act of kindness or virtue, is a mitzvah, but it’s nothing to bet the farm on, or build a society on.

If you have always depended on the kindness of strangers, you have probably lived a miserable life.

He goes on to say that there are those within Christianity -- in the liberal denominations, but also in evangelicalism and Catholicism -- who want to move away from the centrality of man's depravity and need for divine redemption, not a self-improvement program. He explains why these intramural Christian debates should matter even to people who aren't Christians:

...[W]ithout a notion that redemption of our flawed natures is the exclusive province of God, then a license is granted for unlimited social experimentation in pursuit of the perfection of man.

Speaking only as a political commentator, this is a naive and dangerous direction for the largest religion in the most powerful nation in the world to take. Speaking as a Christian, it’s blasphemous.

It was hard not to quote the whole thing -- I left out some very pithy lines -- so go read the whole thing.

Texclectic taste in music


Found this item, in praise of Bend Studio, "Dallas' gem of a listening venue", via Technorati:

[J. Paul] Slavens own comedy troupe, the Texclectic Unsemble, won The Dallas Observer Best of Award for best comedy troupe 1999. More recently, Mr Slavens has garnered a loyal follwing for his radio program 90.1 @ Night on KERA-FM 90.1 in Dallas, one of the top five Public Radio stations in the US. Heard Sunday nights from 7 to 10 pm, Slavens plays an eclectic mix to say the least, a typical night will find Bob Wills next to Devo next to Nina Simone and on and on.

Bob Wills next to Devo? Sounds like my kind of show!

The current schedule has "90.1 at Night with Paul Slavens" from 8 to 10 on Sunday evenings. There's no podcast for the show, but you can listen live to KERA over the web.

Swab-bing the deck

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This week's column in Urban Tulsa Weekly puts the claims made by District Attorney challenger Brett Swab against incumbent DA Tim Harris under a forensic examiner's microscope. There's also a brief discussion of the two Tulsa County Commission races on the Republican primary ballot.

ABOT time

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My wife and I attended the Urban Tulsa Weekly Absolute Best of Tulsa party tonight at The Hive. It was too loud and too smoky, and nearly everyone was way younger than us, but it was fun to get to chat with other UTW writers and staffers, like publisher Keith Skrzypczak, music writer G. K. Hizer, arts writer Claudette Lancaster, reporter Ginger Shepherd, and our newest columnist, Jamie Pierson. We saw City Councilor Roscoe Turner (last year's most believable councilor), his wife Nancy, and Christie Breedlove (who took that wonderful inauguration day photo of the Bates family).

A number of restaurants were there with samples -- nachos, cuban sandwiches, sushi, baklava, pizza -- and there were free drinks galore. Since I already felt like I was teetering from heat and fatigue, I didn't have anything stronger than water.

We ran into Rick Boltinghouse -- he and I sang together in the Concert Chorus and Madrigal Singers in high school. Rick owns and operates the Daylight Donuts in the old Shaw's Drive-In at 31st and Yale. He estimates that he's made 14 million donuts in his career. He said they're in the process of upgrading the building, expanding the menu, and expanding the hours.

The Absolute Best of Tulsa issue hits the streets tomorrow morning, so tonight the winners of UTW's reader poll were unveiled. Categories include politicians and business people, restaurants, specialty shops, night clubs, and entertainers. This year's most believable councilor isn't on the council any more: Chris Medlock. Bill LaFortune got the most reader votes in the "Local Weasel" category, but Kathy Taylor finished second. I'll link to the ABOT story once it's online.

I think Tulsa Whirled editorial page editor Ken Neal would feel better if he added some fiber to his diet, but it would make all of us a bit poorer not to have him cranking out his weekly column of crankiness. His latest spleen-venting on Sunday has this simple headline: "NIMBY."

A well-heeled, noisy group of Not-In-My-Backyard citizens continue to insist that candidates for public office pledge to oppose a bridge across the Arkansas River at Yale Avenue in far south Tulsa.

Their latest targets are the candidates for the District 3 county commissioner post and House District 69 in the Jenks area.

In the commissioner race that likely will be decided in the Republican primary July 25, only Clay Bird, the former deputy mayor seeking the post, has resisted.

But, like town drunks, his opponents, Bill Christiansen, Jerry Smith and Fred Perry, have "taken the pledge," more or less agreeing to check their brains at the courthouse door.

The bridge opponents have gotten three of the GOP candidates in the House race to sign. But Darrell Gwartney and Jeff Jordan refused to cave in to the anti-bridge pressure.

Did you spot a couple of glaring errors? It's Fred Jordan who is running for House District 69 (HD69) and refused to sign the South Tulsa Citizens Coalition pledge. I have no idea who Jeff Jordan is. And the County Commission District 3 (CCD3) race will be decided by Republican voters -- no Democrat filed for the seat -- but it likely won't be decided on July 25. With four veteran campaigners in the race, I would be surprised if anyone managed to clear the 50% hurdle. It's more likely that the race will be settled in the August 22 runoff.

I wasn't too surprised that Clay Bird supports the bridge. He once said that he considers himself a national Republican but a local independent, and thought the "Chamber, Developers, and Establishment Party" was an apt name for the kind of local party he wishes he could join. He never seemed to have much patience for the concerns of neighborhood groups or the questions of skeptical councilors. He worked to delay passage of the City of Tulsa's first ethics ordinance. I'm not too shocked that he would be at home with a cozy deal like the one Infrastructure Ventures Inc. (IVI) made first with the Tulsa County Commissioners and now with the City of Jenks.

But I learned something today that does a better job of explaining Clay Bird's support for the south Tulsa toll bridge. In fact, it might explain why he is even running for County Commission.

Backing up a bit: Clay Bird was a real estate appraiser during his term as City Councilor from 2000-2002. He chose not to run for re-election, and he took a position on the staff of Mayor Bill LaFortune, serving the entire four years, winding up as Deputy Mayor and Chief of Staff. After LaFortune's defeat, Bird stayed on for about a month to help new Mayor Kathy Taylor with the transition.

On May 14th, the Whirled ran a story about Bird's departure from the Mayor's Office. It said that his last day at City Hall was April 30, and it strongly implied that he had yet to find a new job:

He's packing up his experiences, including helping with the mayoral transition, to take with him.

Former mayoral chief of staff Clay Bird said the past four years working for Bill LaFortune was a lesson in the good, the bad and the politically ugly.

Bird, 44, said he plans to take those lessons with him into his next career endeavor, whatever that may turn out to be....

For the past month, Bird said he has concentrated on the transition with new Mayor Kathy Taylor. His last day at City Hall was April 30.
Bird said he thinks he has a lot to offer his next employer because he has job experience in both the private and public sectors. He was a city councilor before joining the mayor's staff and was self-employed as a property appraiser.

Stories during and right after the June 5-7 filing period referred to Bird as a former city councilor and mayoral aide. No mention was made of any new employment.

The first mention of a new job for Bird was in the July 9 Whirled story about the CCD3 primary.

Bird, 45, became the CEO of Energy Reclamation LLC after leaving his post in the Mayor's Office this year. The company promotes enhanced oil recovery technology.

Bird views the commission post as an administrative position and believes that his experience as a city administrator sets him apart from other candidates.

So sometime between May 14 and July 9, Clay Bird became CEO of Energy Reclamation LLC. The company's website says that it was founded in 2005. The site is promoting new technologies for recovery of crude oil from old deposits.

Our technology involves in-situ generation of CO2 to recover trapped residual oil from reservoirs.

Briggeman's patented technology allows for a method of reducing the viscosity of heavy crude oil by injecting an exhaust gas into the oil.

Here's what the website's "People" page says about CEO Clay Bird:

After a spirited recruiting campaign Energy Reclamation LLC. signed their number one choice for CEO, Mr. Clay Bird. During a brief, but intense, courting Mr. Bird researched, reviewed and interviewed everyone and every aspect of the company. While making his decision he met several times with Dr. Bakhtiyarov, the World's foremost expert on EOR, who had only recently endorse the technology. Mr. Bird also met with the University of Tulsa's highly respected research people to better understand the technology and to help validate his decision to join the company. Although Mr. Bird has limited expertise in the oil industry he has proven "Fortune 500" skills. Prior to being named CEO of Energy Reclamation, LLC, Mr. Bird served the City of Tulsa as Chief of Staff/Deputy Mayor, overseeing a workforce in excess of 4,000 employees with an annual budget of nearly half a billion dollars. Mr. Bird is well respected in the community for his faith, demeanor, management style and leadership skills.

Nothing on the website or elsewhere indicates when Bird was named CEO. The customary announcement press release doesn't appear anywhere on the web, not even in the Whirled's archives. But from the other articles, it must have been in that two month window between May 14 and July 9.

So this is a new company promoting an emerging technology, and you'd think that the investors would expect this coveted CEO to focus his attention on building the company. I know a number of people who have been involved in technology startups, and it is an 80-plus-hours-a-week all-consuming job.

You wouldn't think the investors would allow their new number-one-choice-for-CEO to spend his time running to be elected to another full-time job. If successful in his run for County Commissioner, Bird would only be able to give them six months as CEO, and he would be able to give the job his full attention for only the four months following the runoff.

So why would the investors in the company allow this key employee to start moving toward the exit as soon as he took the job?

The answer may be at the bottom of that same "People" page. Scroll all the way down and you'll find:

Howard Kelsey is a life long Tulsan, continuing the nearly half century Legacy of the family owned, highly respected Kelsey Company. Educated at Northeastern University and University of Tulsa, Howard processes a keen mind along with an eye to detail. Howard is involved with several of the Iconic features in the Tulsa and surrounding area.... Being a former Director of a State wide organization has increased Howard's networking talents, along with being the Company pilot which increases our mobility.

A June 10, 2006, Whirled story about Energy Reclamation LLC identifies Kelsey as a "principal of the company."

Can you name another company of which Kelsey is a principal? IVI, the company that wants to build the south Tulsa toll bridge, the company that made the very lucrative non-competitive deal with Tulsa County to finance the bridge, and which now has a similarly lucrative non-competitive deal with the City of Jenks.

And if you're trying to get that bridge built, what could be more important than having your own man on the County Commission? It might be important enough that you'd be willing to give him a job and a title so that he could make ends meet until he takes office and starts drawing a county paycheck.

If that's what is going on here, it wouldn't be the first time something like that appeared to be happening. In April 1993, Frank Keating joined Gary Richardson's law firm as a senior partner and at the same time said he was considering a run for Governor the following year. Questions were raised by his opponents about whether Keating was earning his keep or whether he was being "kept" -- paid for working while running full-time for Governor. In 1998, when Keating bypassed more experienced attorneys to appoint Gary Richardson's son Chuck to replace Bill LaFortune as DA, some people saw it as payback for Richardson's support of Keating.

One difference between Bird's situation and Keating's is that Keating would have brought relevant experience and a great deal of prestige to Richardson's firm. You could make the case that just having the name Keating on the shingle benefitted the firm financially. It's much harder to make that case for Bird as CEO of a high-tech energy startup.

From an e-mail alert from Tony Lauinger, chairman of Oklahomans for Life:

On Tuesday, July 18, the Senate will vote on H.R. 810, a bill that would force taxpayers to fund research using stem cells obtained by killing human embryos. This bill, which is strongly opposed by Oklahomans For Life and National Right to Life, would overturn President Bush's pro-life policy against federal funding of any research that requires the killing of human embryos.

The Senate will vote the same day on two good bills, S. 3504 and S. 2754.

S. 3504, the Fetus Farming Prohibition Act, would make it a federal offense for a researcher to use tissue from a human baby who has been gestated in a woman's womb, or an animal womb, for the purpose of providing such tissue. Some researchers have already conducted such "fetus farming" experiments with animals -- for example, by gestating cloned calves to four months and then aborting them to obtain their kidney and heart tissues for transplantation.

S. 2754, the Alternative Pluripotent Stem Cell Therapies Enhancement Act, would require the National Institutes of Health to support research to try to find methods of creating pluripotent stem cells (which are cells that can be turned into any sort of body tissue) without creating or harming human embryos.

Please urge Senators Jim Inhofe and Tom Coburn to vote against H.R. 810, and in favor of the ban on fetus farming (S. 3504) and the ethical-alternatives bill (S. 2754). Tell your senators that you are in favor of research, but not the kinds of research that require the killing of human embryos.

The NRLC has a Legislative Action Center page to make it easy to communicate with your U. S. Senators, or you can call the Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121.

I'm happy to see one bill (S. 2754) with a positive focus on stem cell research that doesn't involve destroying embryonic human life. All the breakthroughs in the therapeutic application of stem cells have involved stem cells derived from adult tissue or umbilical cord blood, not from embryos.

I'm fairly confident that Coburn and Inhofe will do the right thing on these bills, but there are some ostensibly pro-life Republican senators (like Majority Leader Bill Frist) who have been seduced by the celebrity supporters of the destruction of embryonic human life. They need to hear from us.

It's worth remembering, too, that the issue is one of funding. Embryonic stem cell research is legal, but adult stem cell research has been more successful at attracting private funding because it has shown the most promising results.

MORE on the issue, found via Pro-Life Blogs:

Buried toward the end of a pro-embryo-destruction story in the July 24 issue of Time:

The good news for all sides is that over the course of this long argument, researchers have learned more about how stem cells work, and the science has outrun the politics. Adult cells, such as those found in bone marrow, were thought to be less valuable than embryonic cells, which are "pluripotent" master cells that can turn into anything from a brain cell to a toenail. But adult cells may be more elastic than scientists thought, and could offer shortcuts to treatment that embryonic cells can't match.

Researchers have discovered that many tissues and organs contain precursor cells that act in many ways like stem cells. The skin, intestines, liver, brain and bone marrow contain these stem cell-- mimicking cells, which could become a reservoir of replacement cells for treating diseases such as leukemias, stroke and some cancers. "Brain stem-cells can make almost all cell types in the brain, and that may be all we need if we want to treat Parkinson's disease or ALS," says Dr. Arnold Kriegstein, who directs the University of California at San Francisco's Institute for Regeneration Medicine. "Embryonic stem cells might not be necessary in those cases." When it comes to treating heart disease, "if you could find a progenitor cell in the adult heart that has the ability to replicate," says Douglas Melton, co-director of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute, "then it's likely easier to start with that cell than begin with an embryonic stem cell, which has too many options."

Cheerleaders for adult stem-cell research point to progress on everything from spinal-cord injuries to diabetes. Scientists at the University of Minnesota have used umbilical-cord-blood stem cells to improve some neurological function; in a paper published last month, Dr. Carlos Lima in Portugal wrote about restoring some motor function and sensation in a few paralyzed patients. At a recent conference of researchers from around the world, a team from Kyoto University in Japan reported success in taking a skin cell, exposing it to four key growth factors and turning it into an embryo-like entity that produced stem cells--all without using an egg. The Kyoto group has submitted its work for publication, after which it will be open to the scrutiny of the scientific community. If successful, it could turn stem-cell science from a tedious, finicky process into a relatively straightforward chemistry project.

(Found via Pro Ecclesia.)

Here is how House members voted on H.R. 810. All four Oklahoma Republicans voted against; lone Democrat Dan Boren voted for the bill.

Joe Carter at Evangelical Outpost reports that supporters of H.R. 810 are trying to achieve Clintonesque moral hair-splitting:

Congressional bill H. R. 810 seeks to codify the Clinton workaround by circumventing the Dickey Amendment. They don’t want to have the blood on their hands (hence their refusal to fund embryo destruction) but once the human has been killed, they’ll fund the subsequent research.

The fact that so many legislators can be duped into believing that ESCR will ever lead to cures is simply astounding, and shows the paucity of intellect and discernment on Capital Hill. Ignorance, however, is excusable; cowardice is not. If the “party of death” (which includes 93% of the Democratic party and 21% of the GOP) truly believes in this research, then they should at least have the courage to sign the death warrant for the humans being destroyed.

Columnist Michael Reagan sums up the state of embryonic stem cell research (ESCR):

Far from curing everything from Alzheimer’s Disease to spinal cord injuries, and a whole host of other medical problems as proponents promise, all ESCR has produced thus far is cancerous tumors in lab animals. And even top ESCR scientists now admit that any progress in the field is 25 years away, after they stop killing lab animals, that is....

The ESCR community based most of their inflated claims on the work of South Korean scientist Huang Woo-suk, who claimed to have created the world's first cloned human embryos and extracted stem cells from them, raising hopes of cures for diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. Dr. Huang was widely acclaimed as a world-class stem cell pioneer and treated as a hero until investigations disclosed that he had fabricated key data in two papers published in the U.S. journal, Science. He has now admitted the fraud and has been indicted along with five of his associates.

From hamburger to steak

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A new entry on YouTube -- the Texas Playboys performing "New San Antonio Rose" on Austin City Limits in 1976. The ensemble included Leon McAuliffe on steel guitar, Leon Rausch singing, Eldon Shamblin on standard guitar (you can see him off to the left in the wide shots). The poster thinks that the fiddle player, who is doing his best impression of Bob Wills' stage mannerisms, is Keith Coleman. (The audio's a bit warbly.)

Another recent YouTube addition: A 1951 Snader Transcription -- music video -- of Carolina Cotton singing "Three Miles South of Cash in Arkansas" with Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys. That's Joe Holley playing fiddle left-handed and a headless Bobby Koefer on steel guitar. (Here's a website devoted to the late Carolina Cotton's life and career.)

Meanwhile, from a perusal of the message board at texasplayboys.net, I learn:

Herb Remington, a legendary steel guitar player who was with the Playboys from 1946 to 1950 (you'll hear him on a lot of the Tiffany Transcriptions and some of the early material recorded for MGM), is still performing in the Houston area. He's with the River Road Boys, who have a couple of gigs scheduled each month through the end of the year. And he plays 2nd Sunday of each month with the Swing Kings at Cosmo's Cafe (that's a Cosmo's in Houston, NOT the one in Tulsa). And Herb has a company, Remington Steel Guitars, that custom-builds non-pedal steel guitars. That website has some of his CDs on sale, too.

There's a Live365 radio station that plays a lot of Western Swing. It's called Ralphie's Radio: "We're playing all your Western Swing favorites by Milton Brown & His Musical Brownies, Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys, Hank Penny & His Radio Cowboys, Tex Williams & His Western Caravan, Spade Cooley, Hi-Flyers, Sons of the Pioneers and many, many others. CAUTION: This stuff 'gets your heart to jumpin' and it gets so hot it burns a hole in your undershirt!'" Right now, I'm listening to "Hometown Stomp," a 1947 instrumental that spotlights Herb Remington.

Leon Rausch and Tommy Allsup lead the current incarnation of the Texas Playboys, and they brought in some big country names -- e.g., George Jones, Porter Waggoner, Tanya Tucker, Charlie Daniels -- to sing and play on a Bob Wills 100th birthday tribute album. Rausch, Allsup, and the Playboys played New York City at the end of June -- I would love to hear from someone who was there.

This month's "Swingin' West" Internet radio show is a tribute to songwriter Cindy Walker, who passed away earlier this year.

There are two new Bob Wills CD releases on their way from Collectables Records. One is a double album due out in August -- Wills' last album with Liberty and, for the first time on CD, Capitol's "In Concert" LP. There are some tracks here that haven't been available on CD other than the ultra-comprehensive and expensive Bear Family compilations. Just out last week, but less exciting, is San Antonio Rose, a collection of ten of his most popular songs. No indication which era or eras the songs were taken from.

On Amazon, I note a planned September release for In Hollywood 1943-44.

Early this year, a 1930s radio broadcast of the Texas Playboys was released on CD. This one is on my acquisition list.

Looking for trenchant political analysis or deep thoughts? Then scroll past this entry.

My favorite band in high school and college was Devo -- nerd music par excellence. I was thinking about Devo tonight and went looking for Devo videos on YouTube. I wasn't disappointed.

Weird Al Yankovic's song "Dare to Be Stupid" is the ultimate parody of Devo's music. It isn't a parody of a specific song, but it captures the Devo sound and amps up the trademark weirdness of their lyrics by stringing together in random order twisted versions of proverbs and slogans. The video "Dare to Be Stupid" borrows from a dozen or so Devo music videos from their heyday. If you're a Devo fan, you'll laugh with recognition.

OK, one more favorite Weird Al video -- "I Lost on Jeopardy" -- complete with Art Fleming, Don Pardo, the original Jeopardy set, and a cameo by Dr. Demento.

Drew is now a proud big brother. Congratulations to the Danz family on the arrival of David William Danz! Click the link for photos and vital statistics.

This week's column in Urban Tulsa Weekly is about Tulsa-area legislative primaries, particularly about the most hotly contested race, the Republican primary to replace Fred Perry in House District 69, which includes far south Tulsa, Jenks, a bit of Bixby, and the northern part of Glenpool.

One of the emerging issues in that race involves the proposed toll bridge across the Arkansas River that would connect south Tulsa near 121st Street to Jenks and Bixby. Although Fred Jordan got a tremendous headstart in the campaign, helped by $100,000 in contributions, largely from the development industry, Jordan is losing ground as south Tulsa voters learn that he is in favor of the toll bridge as proposed by Infrastructure Ventures Inc.

The South Tulsa Citizens' Coalition asked all five Republican candidates to sign a representation opposing the bridge. The representation states that the candidate will not support a bridge until certain intersections and streets connecting to the bridge have been widened, will oppose any heavy truck traffic on Yale between 121st and the Creek Turnpike, and won't support the north end of the bridge connecting to or near Yale Avenue. Chris Medlock, Lisa DeBolt, and Jeff Applekamp have all signed these letters, and Medlock was a leader while on the City Council in getting city officials on record in opposition to the bridge. (Here is a PDF of Medlock's representation letter.)

Fred Jordan and Darrell Gwartney have refused to sign the representation, which Jordan calls, "a highly restrictive and legalistic 'pledge' committing [his opponents] to oppose the bridge under any reasonable circumstances." (Here is a PDF of Fred Jordan's statement to the STCC.) I'm sure STCC members would object to the characterization of the preconditions, which I summarized above, as unreasonable.

Jordan, who has been vague on the issue until now, has started to lose supporters to Chris Medlock. (Although there are two other candidates who oppose the bridge, they are trailing far behind Jordan and Medlock. Neither DeBolt nor Applekamp are likely to make the runoff.) A couple of days ago I spoke to Kari Romoser, who lives near 111th and Yale, an area that would feel the traffic impact if the bridge is connected to Yale. She had Fred Jordan's sign in her yard, but she recently pulled it up and replaced it with a Chris Medlock sign.

Jordan's position on the bridge issue wasn't the only reason for Kari's change, but it was an important reason. Her family has invested a lot to be in this part of Tulsa so that they can send their children to Jenks Southeast Elementary School. Anything that would hurt the value of their home or affect safe access to the school is important to her.

Jordan's company, Caprock Resources, is developing three residential areas along Elm (Peoria) in south Jenks. Two of them, Wakefield Pond and Wakefield Village, are along 121st St., in an area that would benefit from the proposed bridge without bearing a significant traffic impact. (For he folks north of the bridge in south Tulsa along Yale, the traffic impact would far outweigh any convenience benefit.)

So far, the toll bridge has been a local issue, involving Tulsa County and the cities of Jenks and Tulsa, so why does it matter what a state representative thinks about the issue? In his statement, Jordan says that, "to my knowledge, there is no pending or proposed action in the legislature relating to the bridge."

In fact, there was a measure in the Legislature this session which passed the House but was killed in the Senate that would have had an effect on the toll bridge deal. The process has raised all kinds of issues that the Legislature may address at some point: Should counties and cities be able to enter into private toll bridge deals of this sort? Who has ownership and jurisdiction over the Arkansas River bed? Whose approval is needed to build a private toll bridge? Should private toll roads and toll bridges be legal? Should the jurisdiction responsible for connecting infrastructure have a say in whether a toll bridge is built? When a city and the county, or two adjacent cities, are at odds over a bridge, who makes the final decision?

As we learned with the Board of Adjustment legislation (SB 1324, HB 2559) this session, it won't be enough to have the Tulsa City Council on our side, because the Legislature could take away the City's say on this contentious issue. It will be important for south Tulsa residents to have someone in the Legislature who will represent their interests on this matter, someone with the savvy to detect and block any attempt to bypass Tulsa's city government.

Blogging 101

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Joe Carter of Evangelical Outpost has helpfully gathered in one place links to his articles on how to start a blog. Also included are links to his various "Notes on Blogging" entries and to useful how-to articles by other bloggers. And by how-to, I don't just mean the mechanics of blogging, but how to get your work noticed, how to build and keep an audience, how to find a niche, how to have an influence. Carter's notes on blogging give some societal perspective to the impact of blogs. If you're new to blogs, wondering if you ought to start your own, wondering why people invest time and talent in blogging, Carter's articles are a great place to gain some perspective.

Jerry Taylor and Peter Van Doren of the Cato Institute write that Americans shouldn't get their knickers in a twist over the price of fuel:

In truth, gasoline prices today are taking less of a bite from our pocketbooks than has been the norm since World War II.

For instance, let’s look at 1955, a year most of us associate with big cars, big engines, and cheap fuel – automotive glory days, as it were. Gasoline sold for 29 cents per gallon. But one dollar in 1955 was worth more than one dollar today. If we were using today’s dollars, gasoline would have cost $1.76 per gallon in 1955.

Gasoline now costs around $3.00, so we are worse off than in 1955, right? No. Because we were poorer in 1955 than we are today, $1.76 then had a bigger impact on the pocketbook (that is, it represented a larger fraction of income) than $1.76 today. If we adjust gasoline prices not only for inflation but also changes in disposable per capita income (defined as income minus taxes), gasoline today would have to cost $5.17 per gallon to have the same impact as 29 cents in 1955.

But what they don't adjust for is the amount of driving we do today compared to 50 years ago. While the post-war suburban building spree had begun, cities and towns were still fairly compact, families made do with one car, most shopping was done at neighborhood stores or shopping centers, children walked to school, and stores still made deliveries.

Although our vehicles are more fuel-efficient today, we do a lot more driving just to go about our daily business. We've had 50 years of construction based on the premise that everyone has a car and distance is no barrier in the search for more selection and lower prices.

For example, even 20 years ago, Wal-Mart had stores in towns like Pawhuska and Nowata, both about 30 miles away from the next nearest stores in Ponca City and Bartlesville. Wal-Mart believed that customers would be willing to drive that extra 30 miles to shop at a Supercenter, so they closed the stores in Pawhuska and Nowata.

Here in Tulsa, supermarkets, gas stations, and pharmacies have all trended away from smaller, ubiquitous outlets to fewer but larger locations spread further apart.

It may yet be that transportation costs for a typical family are a smaller percentage of after-tax income than in 1955, but Taylor and Van Doren haven't established that as a fact in their article.

Cal Hobson, Democratic Lt. Gov. candidate and former President Pro Tempore of the State Senate, angrily denounced the tax cuts passed by the Oklahoma Legislature in a speech on the Senate floor the final day of the special session:

You’re eroding your tax base for no good purpose and you’re giving it to people that don’t need it, won’t remember it, and – I assure you Democrats – they will take their money and they will use it to beat you and help them....

You don’t want to hear this, and you think it’s just a blowhard on the last day.... But unless you just hate schools, and hate good roads, and hate the fact that 600,000 of our people walk around without health insurance, and 700,000 are on Medicaid, unless you like that ... you can’t be for this kind of crap. You can’t be for the kind of giveaways of last year and again this year, and a total of $615 million.... We are pooping off the largesse given to us, just like last year.

I just happen to feel passionately, having had the joy and pleasure of raising taxes a number of times (to keep the lights on in Oklahoma), I don’t take this stuff lightly.... In the long term, maybe not next week, but in the long term you will regret what you’re doing to this tax base.

The Senator doesn't seem to understand the meaning of the term "tax base." The hope, Mr. Hobson, is that by reducing the tax rate, there will be incentives for businesses to start in, stay in, grow in, or move to Oklahoma -- an increase in economic activity that means a larger economic base upon which taxes can be levied to pay for public needs.

It's sort of refreshing to see a politician openly embrace his lust for higher taxes.

Andy Donovan-Shead sends along a couple of interesting solutions for keeping cities green while accommodating the built environment:

Rubber sidewalks made from recycled tires (Chips, naturally) are better able to accommodate growing trees without the usual heaving and cracking of concrete walks. The downside: Higher initial cost, but with the benefit of saving valuable shade trees, and the material handles temperature extremes.

Green roofs are sprouting all over Chicago, starting with City Hall. Grass and trees on rooftops help reduce stormwater runoff and clean and cool the air.

I'm reminded of the concept of permeable driveways -- using a minimal amount of solid material to make for a stable surface for cars to drive and park on, but allowing as much grass as possible, which again reduces stormwater runoff and reduces heat. If you have a driveway long enough, it's going to crack and grass will start growing through it anyway. Anyone know if this sort of thing would meet the Tulsa zoning code's requirement for parking on an "all-weather" surface?

Evidently, Richard Hedgecock doesn't want me to get anything productive done, because he sent me a link to a page of classic TV food ads on RoadOde.com: Franco-American, LaChoy ("Swing American!"), Alka-Seltzer ("Whatever shape your stomach's in"), and more. The home page of RoadOde.com has clips from Carpenters TV specials (Karen Carpenter and Ella Fitzgerald sing "This Masquerade" -- what voices!), soda commercials, movie theater concession ads ("Let's all go to the lobby"), outtakes from '60s and '70s TV shows, theme openers from the Patty Duke Show, My Three Sons, and the Pruitts of Southampton (you remember, Phyllis Diller's show).

Maybe the most poignant clip on the whole site is the feed from the Oval Office just before President Nixon's resignation speech on August 8, 1974. There's not an easy way to link to this -- go to the home page, click the "Outtakes" tab, and it's the first item. The description says, "Surprisingly, he was in a good mood."

Wow! They've got a commercial for Chef Boyardee pizza mix. Other than baking cookies with Mom, this was one of the first things I cooked as a kid. I remember the challenge of getting just amount of water into the dough mix -- it never seemed like enough, but it always was. We always made the pepperoni variety, and my little sister always had macaroni and cheese instead, because she didn't like pizza.

Long before the MasterSingers chanted the Highway Code and the Weather Forecast....

Long before the King's Singers chanted BBC radio frequency changes....

In 1939, Cary Grant chanted the FCC's station identification regulations on the star-studded NBC program The Circle. Cary sings with a kind of psalm tone -- all on one note, with an inflection on the final syllables of each line -- but each line is in a higher key.

(Via WFMU's Beware of the Blog.)

The statewide races

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Getting caught up with links to my Urban Tulsa Weekly columns: This most recent issue has my picks on the four contested Republican primaries for statewide races -- Governor (Jim Williamson), Lt. Governor (Scott Pruitt), Treasurer (Daniel Keating), and Insurance Commissioner (Tahl Willard).

Also, in her latest column, Jamie Pierson ponders the plans for new upscale housing downtown and wonders if there will be places to live that are affordable for baristas, small businessfolk, and struggling artists.

The judicial races


In last week's Urban Tulsa Weekly I reviewed the two District Judge races on the July 25 ballot in Tulsa County, explaining why there is frustratingly little information available to ordinary voters in most judicial elections and making my recommendations in support of James Caputo for Office 4 and J. Anthony Miller for Office 10.

I have left comments open on an earlier entry about the judicial races, so feel free to click through that link and chime in there. And you may also want to review this entry on how district court elections work in Tulsa County.

We have an Apex AD-1200 DVD player. It was the cheapest thing on the market when we bought it, but reviews on VideoHelp.com said it would play just about anything, including JPEG, MPEG-1, MPEG-2, and MP3 files burned to CD-R. It has worked pretty reliably.

A couple of months ago, CD-Rs stopped playing. We discovered this when we were getting ready for my nine-year-old's spring school project. He had created some short stop-action animations with his Digital Blue camera. I converted the resulting AVI files to MPEG (using TMPGenc) and burned them to a CD-R. We were going to take a small TV and the DVD player to school so we could display his creations alongside the projects of his classmates. (We did this last spring, when he used the Digital Blue for another project.)

This time it didn't work. Commercial DVDs were OK, but not a single CD-R worked. Every CD-R, regardless of color, brand, or age, brought up a NO DISC error message on the screen. Using a commercial cleaning disc didn't help any. We were able to borrow my dad's AD-1200, which could play the disc just fine.

This week I found a solution on the web, and tonight I tried it out. Someone called Xcusme posted five possible causes for the Apex NO DISC error, with a series of possible remedies. The most likely fix, Xcusme wrote, was stretching the springs which lift the laser assembly into place:

These loaders are designed to float the laser transport assembly on 4 rubber washers, one in each corner. Two of these are shown in the next picture below marked 'A'. The washers are held down with screws with large built-in flat washers. The rubber washers are molded from very soft rubber and act as shock absorbers. Underneath these 4 rubber washers are 4 small wire springs. Their job is to support the rubber washers. If these 4 springs collapse due to age OR from being weighted down by the laser ribbon cable (see #2 above) or just plain old age, the laser assembly will not be in proper alignment to read the DVD/CD. The laser can and will make adjustments for a misaligned DVD/CD, but only so far. Normally, when the laser is pointing straight up, it can read the DVD/CD just fine. If the laser beam is not striking the DVD/CD at a right angle (because of weak springs) it can't detect the DVD/CD, hence "No Disc."

One quick way to tell if this is the problem is if there's a gap between the screws' built-in washers and the rubber washers. If the springs are healthy, they should push the rubber washers up against the screws' built-in metal washers. Sure enough, that was the problem.

The fix is to remove the laser transport assembly by removing those same four screws. That allows moving the assembly out of the way enough to pull out the springs. After removing, stretching, and replacing each spring, I put the assembly back in place, replaced the screws, and tested it. Every CD-R I used worked flawlessly. (Normal DVDs still work, too.) For what it's worth, these springs are about three-eights of an inch wide and about half an inch long, made of fairly heavy gauge wire, and they aren't actually attached to anything; the platform sits on the springs and the springs sit on something else.

It wouldn't have broken the bank to buy a new DVD player, but I take a great deal of satisfaction in having fixed this one, using helpful info I found on the World Wide Web. Thanks, Xcusme.

Father's Day notes

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This draft was started a couple of days after Father's Day, but I never got around to finishing it. In lieu of something more substantive tonight, here it is:

We celebrated Father's Day by taking my dad and mom to lunch at Mexicali Border Café at Main and Brady downtown. It's one of our favorite Mexican places; Mom and Dad had never been there. Great salsa (sort of halfway in texture and heat between Chimi's salsa fresca and salsa picante) and some delicious non-traditional Mexican dishes.

My wife and I had the Stuffed Carne Asada. At $13.95, it's one of the most expensive things on the menu, and we always consider getting something else (the Shrimp Acapulco is very tasty too), but we can't stand not to have this: "Fajita Steak stuffed with Melted Jack Cheese, Mushrooms, and Onions. Topped with Sautéed Pico de Gallo, Bacon and Mushrooms. Served with Rice, Borracho Beans and Saut�ed Vegetables." It's big enough and rich enough we always have enough to bring home for another meal. The sautéed vegetables (carrots, yellow squash, and zucchini) were nicely spicy and just crisp enough.

The waitress, Heather, deserves special praise. She managed to be both attentive and inobtrusive. Instead of interrupting conversation every five minutes to ask, "Everything OK?" she passed by regularly, noticed if anything needed refilling, and just took care of it. When she noticed one of us dabbing at a bit of salsa that had landed on a shirt, she brought out some club soda and some extra napkins.

I gave my dad a new sports shirt and a Johnny Cash CD. My Mother's Hymnbook is a collection of traditional hymns and gospel songs, sung with only a guitar for accompaniment. Cash recorded it in the few months between his wife's death and his own. I had come across it in the CD return shelf in the library, checked it out, and loved it. These are songs that we sang in the little Southern Baptist church I grew up in, but don't hear much in our PCA congregation: I'm Bound For The Promised Land, Softly and Tenderly, Just As I Am, When The Roll Is Called Up Yonder.

(I've found all sorts of gems on the library's CD return shelf, things I probably wouldn't have sought out on purpose: Spike Jones' Greatest Hits; Sam Cooke: The Man Who Invented Soul, a four-disc set; a two-disc set of everything Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters recorded together.)

The kids gave me a Louis Armstrong CD, a Patsy Cline CD, and the original version of Asleep at the Wheel's first Bob Wills tribute CD, along with a new clock radio that synchronizes itself to the atomic clock via shortwave.

I already had a version of this disc -- the "dance remix", which has a black cover. I bought it as motivation/reward when I refinished the kids' wood floors last summer, and I liked it, but some of the tracks (five of them, to be precise) seemed unnecessarily tarted up -- as if some producer didn't think classic Western Swing was good enough to get people out on the dance floor. On "Big Ball's in Cowtown," the dance version is almost double the length of the original, padded out with backup singers singing "Cowtown, Cowtown, we're all goin' to Cowtown" over and over and over again. Then there's the bizarre addition of the same two measures of "Yearning," digitally transposed into three different keys for the intro to the song -- somehow that made it a dance version. Similar weirdness is inflicted upon "Hubbin' It," "Corrine, Corrina," and "Old Fashioned Love." At least they left 13 of the songs alone.

I had heard the unadulterated versions of a couple of the tracks from the white-covered original edition, and put it on my wish list, a wish my wife and kids were kind enough to fulfill.

The album features famous modern country artists (e.g., George Strait, Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, Garth Brooks -- Huey Lewis, too) singing or playing Bob Wills tunes alongside Asleep at the Wheel and some of the original Texas Playboys -- Eldon Shamblin, Johnny Gimble, and Herb Remington.

"Yearning," sung on this album by Vince Gill, has become a favorite of mine. It was a Tin Pan Alley tune, published in 1925 by Benny Davis and Joe Burke. (Davis and Burke also wrote "Carolina Moon." Burke also wrote "Tiptoe through the Tulips" and "Rambling Rose." Davis also wrote "Baby Face.") Somehow this sweet little tune found its way into both the standards and Western Swing repertoires -- Nat King Cole, Tommy Dorsey, and Frank Sinatra, Spade Cooley and Bob Wills all recorded it. Merle Haggard sang it on the final album with Bob Wills (For the Last Time), but I like Gill's version a little better, if only because it includes both verses.

The songbird yearns to sing a love song.
The roses yearn just for the dew.
The whole world's yearning for the sunshine.
I have a yearning too.

Yearning just for you,
That's all I do, my dear.
Learning why I'm blue,
I wish that you were here.
Smiles have turned to tears,
Days have turned to years.
Yearning just for you,
I hope that you yearn, too.

When shadows fall and stars are beaming,
'Tis then I miss you most of all.
I fall asleep and start a-dreaming.
It seems I hear you call:

Yearning just for you,
That's all I do, my dear.
Learning why I'm blue,
I wish that you were here.
Smiles have turned to tears,
Days have turned to years.
Yearning just for you,
I hope that you yearn, too.

I've enjoyed the gifts from my children, but the greatest Father's Day gifts of all are the children themselves.

From the Wall Street Journal:

[Mexico City] was voting to fill six seats, including that of the president and the mayor. Voters presented identification cards and were handed six large ballots, one for each open office. The names of candidates were also color-coded to assist the illiterate. Voting booths were small, waist-high writing tables enclosed by hanging plastic sheets printed with the reassuring words, "The vote is free and secret." Voters emerged from the booths, folded the ballots and slid each one into the box corresponding to the contested seat. To complete the process, thumbs were marked with indelible ink and ID cards were returned. Observers from each party monitored the flow.

In Oklahoma, parties are not allowed to have observers at polling places, ID cards are not required, and no effort is made to mark voters to prevent them from voting at multiple locations. These simple steps would be inexpensive and unobtrusive and would not present an obstacle to any voter. While they wouldn't eliminate the potential for intentional voter fraud and unintentional voter irregularities -- aspects of the registration process would still need to be addressed -- they would make a positive difference.

This week's column takes a look at the four Republican primaries for statewide offices and the local 1st Congressional District race.

(Added on September 30, 2006, to fill in the gaps in my Urban Tulsa Weekly column archive.)

About 250 veterans, veterans' widows, and friends and supporters attended today's Memorial Veterans Association barbecue in honor of those who have served our country in the military. It was a good day for it -- sunny, but not too hot. The tall oak trees of Memorial High School's picnic area kept the guests cool as they enjoyed heaping plates of smoked meat and listened to a band playing '60s favorites.

After everyone ate, Col. Bob Powell (USAF Ret.) led us in the pledge, the National Anthem was sung, and Col. Powell made a few remarks. He said that veterans are well-cared for on Memorial Day and Veterans Day, but they ought to be acknowledged on Independence Day, as they all fought for our nation's freedom.

The Memorial Veterans Association maintains an exhibit of military memorabilia in a conference room at the high school, but they hope someday to build a free-standing museum nearby. They also have plans to erect a bronze statue in front of the school. The bronze by Talala sculptor Sandra Van Zandt shows an old soldier passing the flag to a young soldier. A limited edition of small replicas of the sculpture are being sold to raise money to build the real thing.

At the heart of the effort is the desire to make Memorial High School the memorial it was intended to be when it was dedicated in 1962. When Mason High School closed its doors, the victim of the Baby Bust, there was talk of attaching the name of the long-time Tulsa superintendent to Memorial High School, making it Mason Memorial High School. The idea was quickly shot down -- for one thing, Charles Mason was still living, making a memorial premature. More importantly, the school was already dedicated as a memorial to thousands of Tulsans:

Memorial Senior High School

Dedicated to Tulsa students and teachers who served in World Wars I and II, the Korean and Vietnam conflicts

I am dedicated in memory of all Tulsa students and teachers who, in complete devotion, determined that those ideals which built our republic shall remain forever secure.

My high purpose is to teach an abiding love for America which shall serve her at all times -- and, should destiny so determine, a love which will courageously serve her to "the last full measure of devotion" that the dignity of man may be always held in high esteem.

I am a perpetual light to all who cherish freedom.

As long as youth shall devote themselves to serious endeavour in my classrooms and fill my corridors with laughter, I stand as a living symbol of all who seek a better life through education.

My small part in all this was as a member of the Eagleton Brothers' Barbecue team. There were five of us who gathered at Councilor John Eagleton's home at 4 a.m. this morning to load the meat, tools, and supplies on the truck. (Dave Webster, Larry Benzel, Steve Overturf, John, and myself.) By 4:30 the smoker was in place and the fire was lit.

John puts on several barbecues each year for his neighborhood, his church, the local chapter of his college fraternity, the Tulsa County Republican Party. I've been a crew member on four or five of the feeds over the last few years; I'm still a relative novice.

The process involves bursts of intense activity as each kind of meat is seasoned and loaded into the smoker, interspersed with waiting while the smoke does its work. During one of those waiting periods, Col. Powell gave several early arrivers a guided tour of the museum. (That's County Assessor Ken Yazel in the back right of this photo. Ken came early to offer his help.) Col. Powell was a glider pilot in World War II.


We started serving at 11. The BBQ team was reinforced by several politicians. I worked one of the cutting stations, handling hot links and ribs. Mayor Kathy Taylor stood to my left, cutting racks of ribs. Clay Bird, former City Councilor and Deputy Mayor and candidate for County Commission, stood to my right, cutting up chickens and slicing bologna. There were the three of us, all armed with very sharp knives, and despite our differences, no mayhem ensued. Mayor Taylor earned a lot of respect for pitching in and staying with the task until nearly everyone was through the line, which was continuous for over an hour. DA Tim Harris, State Sen. Brian Crain, and County Assessor Ken Yazel helped carry and fill plates for veterans who were using walkers or wheelchairs.

By the time cleanup was done and all the equipment was offloaded at John's house, I was sunburned and overheated. I made it home by about 2 -- 10 hours after I started. It was a privilege to do my little bit in honor of those who endured so much more in the defense of our liberty.

BONUS LINK: The title of this entry comes from the seldom-sung final stanza of the National Anthem. In 1991, prolific sci-fi novelist Isaac Asimov wrote a tribute to "The Star-Spangled Banner," explaining why he's "crazy about it" and all four of its stanzas.

If you're a Tulsa area military veteran, you're invited to an Independence Day barbecue at Memorial High School, 5840 S. Hudson, 11:30a.m.-1:00 p.m. The event is sponsored by VFW Post 577, Memorial Veterans Association, Inc., American Legion Post 308, Military Vehicles Club, 8th Air Force Association Tulsa RSVP, Air Force Association, MHS JROTC, Air Force Sergeants Assoc., Spirit Bank, Albertsons, Walmart, Fadlers Market, Port-A-Johns, Ryan’s Family Restaurant, Cimarron Tires, Ehrles Party Supply, and Publishing Resources, Inc., and by City Councilor John Eagleton, who is donating 400 lbs. of meat and his barbecuing skills.

One more thing -- my usual weekly slot on KFAQ has been postponed until Wednesday because of the holiday.

A week from Tuesday, Springdale, Arkansas, citizens will vote on a tax package to build a $46 million AA-quality minor league baseball stadium in the southwestern part of the city. According to the Grand Slam for Springdale website, a AA team would relocate to Springdale if a new park is built. (I'm guessing Texas League, as there are three TL teams nearby -- Tulsa, Springfield, Mo., and Little Rock.)

Northwest Arkansas is a booming area and could support a minor league baseball team. The region's prosperity has three pillars: Wal-Mart, poultry, and trucking. Wal-Mart's world HQ has attracted sales reps for hundreds of manufacturers to the northern part of the metro area, in Bentonville and Rogers, where whole neighborhoods of McMansions are springing up in what used to be hog pastures and chicken farms.

Hilly, green Fayetteville, anchoring the southern end of the region, is the cultural center, home to the University of Arkansas. The city has grown, but in a less dramatic fashion, and with more of an eye to preserving its historic neighborhoods and college-town walkability.

Springdale, in between, has always been a homely place. Food processing and trucking are the main industries. A tiny remnant of a downtown is surrounded by ugly '70s strip development. At the crossroads of US 412 and US 62, it's on the way to lots of places, but not much of a destination.

So a ballpark could be a good thing for Springdale and the region, but it's interesting to see the proponents of the stadium trot out the same old tactics. The website tells voters to say yes to three propositions, but doesn't explain what those propositions will accomplish. (It appears to be a refinancing of revenue bonds for an existing sales tax for roads, and the sales tax would be extended to generate enough to build a stadium.)

There was a feasibility study done by Conventions, Sports, and Leisure, International -- the same bunch that did the feasibility study for Tulsa's arena -- which claims that the stadium will result in 300 new jobs and $600,000 in new "revenues" to the city, in the form of increased sales taxes and stadium lease payments. The website doesn't bother to say how much the city's net income will increase if at all -- no word about the expense side of the ledger.

The targeted team is reported to be the Wichita Wranglers, which plays in Lawrence-Dumont Stadium, just across the Arkansas River from downtown Wichita. Wichita has the right to buy the team if the Wranglers break their stadium lease before its 2009 expiration.

The latest big development appears to be the defection of Rev. Ronnie Floyd, pastor of First Baptist Church, Springdale, who no longer supports the stadium because beer will be sold there. Perhaps he really fears the baseball team will be entertainment competition for his kids' church with its fire engine baptistery. (Here is a rather lengthy comment thread on the propriety of Floyd's endorsement in the first place and the sincerity of his reversal.)

I don't in the least begrudge Springdale a minor league team, but we are talking about an entertainment venue that will be competing against restaurants, theatres, concerts, and nightclubs for regional entertainment dollars. It seems like the private sector ought to be jumping at the chance to build such a facility if it really were economically feasible.

MORE: Meanwhile, there are plans for a privately-funded 9,000 seat arena in Bentonville. Global Spectrum (bypassed for Tulsa's BOk center) would manage the facility, and the arena owners would own the minor-league sports teams that would play there.)

About this Archive

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

June 2006 is the previous archive.

August 2006 is the next archive.

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