August 2006 Archives

Forgotten Arkansas

| | Comments (1)

While looking for info about Dinosaur World (a place we visited sometime around 1970, I came across The Arkansas Roadside Travelogue, a website devoted to odd and interesting things the author has found in his travels around the Land of Opportunity. For example:

It's a fun site to explore, in the same vein (although not as thorough or focused) as Kevin Walsh's Forgotten NY.

Last week, on August 23, Ed Chambers of the Federal Aviation Administration in Fort Worth sent a letter to Jeff Mulder (500 KB PDF file), head of the Tulsa Airport Authority (TAA), regarding discrimination by the TAA in the treatment of Fixed-Base Operators (FBOs) at Jones Riverside Airport, the City's general aviation facility west of the Arkansas River. The TAA manages Tulsa's two city-owned airports.

FBOs typically provide aviation fuel, repair services for aircraft and avionics, and facilities for the use of crew and passengers. AirNav lists two FBOs at Jones Riverside Airport (KRVS): Roadhouse Aviation, owned by Kent Faith, a pilot with American Airlines, and Christiansen Aviation, owned by City Councilor Bill Christiansen. (Click those links and scroll down to read comments from pilots about the two FBOs.)

The letter reminds Mulder that federally-funded airports are required to be evenhanded in their treatment of FBOs, in accordance with the airport's grant assurances. The FAA letter quotes Assurance 22c:

Each fixed-base operator at the airport shall be subject to the same rates, fees, rentals, and other charges as are uniformly applicable to all other fixed-base operators making the same or similar uses of such airport and utilizing the same or similar facilities.

The FAA is investigating a "Part 16 complaint" that Roadhouse Aviation has filed against the Tulsa Airport Authority, and the FAA's findings, after several delays, are expected in October. Like the Part 16 complaint, this letter deals with the TAA showing favoritism toward one FBO over another, but the letter addresses a separate issue.

In 2002, Roadhouse Aviation sought to lease an empty lot from the TAA for a new facility. The TAA board, prompted by new board member Ron Turner, placed a condition on Roadhouse's lease: Because the new facility was near one of several sites identified in a study as a potential future tower location, a condition was placed on Roadhouse's lease. If the FAA chose that location for a tower, Roadhouse would be required to tear down its new facility at the company's own expense, restoring the site to its undeveloped condition.

As a result of Roadhouse's lawsuit against TAA, the condition was removed from the lease, but a memorandum of understanding making the same commitment was placed in the airport's lease file. The added requirement meant added expense and delays for Roadhouse in getting the new facility financed and built.

Fast forward to April 2006. Two new hangars are being built by airport tenants, one by Christiansen Aviation, the other by Ray Booker. Both new hangars are within the required 300 foot clear area of four of the potential tower locations identified in the study. Because these two new facilities are in the same situation as the Roadhouse facility, the FAA wrote that, "they also should have the same memorandum in the airport's ground lease file that calls for their removal should the FAA decide to proceed with tower construction on this site."

But they don't. These two other tenants have not been subjected to the same conditions and agreements as Roadhouse Aviation. The letter says:

In the interest of treating all similarly situated FBOs the same, the memorandum requiring removal of facilities and restoration of the lease area at lessee's cost should the FAA opt to construct a new tower should be in all three of the lease files or in none.

We ask the airport operator to examine the lease records and respond to the allegation of unfairly treating one FBO in favor of two other FBOs by September 11, 2006.

The TAA should respond in one of two ways: (1) by saying that they have placed the same memorandum in the files of all similarly situated tenants, or (2) by saying that they have removed the memorandum from Roadhouse's file. This is a simple and straightforward situation, and the TAA should acknowledge the problem and correct it.

What the TAA should not do is what has been done so far in response to the Part 16 complaint: Have the Florida lawyer that was hired by the city send a lawyerly response filled with rationalizations and self-justifications.

What course of action the City and the TAA will take is up to Mayor Kathy Taylor. As an ex officio TAA board member, she can join with two reformers on the TAA board to fix the problem that the FAA has identified.

It's not a good sign that she nominated Ron Turner for another term on the TAA, when he seems to have been the driving force behind the policies that have put Tulsa in hot water with the Feds.

We don't need a team or a plan. We need the Mayor and the TAA to say to the Feds, "You're right, that was wrong, and we've already put things right." That attitude would serve the City well in dealing with the broader Part 16 complaint, and might help us avoid financial penalties that would hurt commercial aviation passengers who fly from Tulsa International as well as the private pilots who use Riverside.

Okie blog awards, blogger bash


Mike Hermes of Okiedoke has done more than any other individual to create a sense of community in the Sooner State segment of the blogosphere. Two of his efforts are at hand.

The second annual edition of the Okie Blog Awards is in the nomination phase, which ends Thursday, August 31. Only active Oklahoma bloggers can nominate, be nominated, or vote. The voting phase will begin Saturday.

The winners will be announced at the first-ever Okie Blogger Roundup, to be held on September 23 in Oklahoma City. If you follow that link, you can register online, look at the agenda, find out about becoming a sponsor of the event, and hotel reservation information.

I plan to be there. If you're an Okie blogger, I hope you will make plans to be there too.

Coin of the Okie realm

| | Comments (4)

The Governor's Office website has posted the 10 finalists for the design of Oklahoma's entry in the U. S. Mint's series of state quarters. Because the Governor's site doesn't let you look at the 10 designs side-by-side, I've uploaded them below.

1 2 3
4 5 6
7 8 9

To say the sketches are rough is an understatement, but the website says that any design will be refined by the Mint to meet their production requirements.

There are elements of several that I like, but there isn't any one that I like entirely. I guess it's too late to come up with another alternative. I like the state outline, but there's no need to put it at a rakish angle as 3 and 9 do. The 46 stars in 1 and 2 are overkill.

The Pioneer Woman statue works nicely, as does the oil derrick. They aren't simply symbols -- they're also landmarks, something you could come to Oklahoma and see.

(I'm not sure how well a gushing derrick works on a coin. Maybe just a derrick with -- I dunno -- a gigantic roughneck standing next to it, resting his hand on it.)

Our Indian heritage ought to be included, but I'm not sure that the calumet is the best way to symbolize it. The Cherokee star would look very nice on a coin, but that would exclude the other dozens of tribes in the state.

My son likes number 6, and he recognized the Indian paintbrush and scissortail flycatcher, but he thinks it would be even better with the state outline in the background.

A couple of other possibilities -- again, it's probably too late for new ideas -- would be the Osage shield from the state flag, either by itself or over a state outline, or, from our state seal, the farmer and Indian shaking hands in front of an Oklahoma outline. (In the latter case, it would be very appropriate to use Mike of Okiedoke's suggestion for a new state motto.)

You can vote for up to five of the 10 coins and read explanations for each design at the Governor's website.

(Side track: That Flags of the World entry for Oklahoma includes the text of the 1988 legislation which standardized the flag's colors, in terms of the Pantone Matching System. When I ran for City Council in 2002, I used the French Blue of the flag's field, Pantone 285c, for my campaign yard signs.)

New KFAQ audio stream

| | Comments (4)

Talk radio 1170 KFAQ has slightly changed its method of providing its audio stream over the Internet. They're still using SurferNetwork, but you don't need to install the Surfer Player application in order to listen. You just need Windows Media Player.

Here's the direct link to the KFAQ audio stream.

UPDATE: If you need to cut and paste the URL into a player, here it is:

As before, you can listen to the Michael DelGiorno Show live from 5:30 am to 9:00 am, then the show replays continually until the next live broadcast. At midnight, for some reason, the feed restarts at the beginning of the show. If you want to catch the replay of a particular half-hour, find it in the left-hand column in the chart below, then read across to determine when it will be replayed.

5:30 AM 9:00 AM 12:30 PM 4:00 PM 7:30 PM 11:00 PM 12:00 AM 3:30 AM
6:00 AM 9:30 AM 1:00 PM 4:30 PM 8:00 PM 11:30 PM 12:30 AM 4:00 AM
6:30 AM 10:00 AM 1:30 PM 5:00 PM 8:30 PM 1:00 AM 4:30 AM
7:00 AM 10:30 AM 2:00 PM 5:30 PM 9:00 PM 1:30 AM 5:00 AM
7:30 AM 11:00 AM 2:30 PM 6:00 PM 9:30 PM 2:00 AM
8:00 AM 11:30 AM 3:00 PM 6:30 PM 10:00 PM 2:30 AM
8:30 AM 12:00 PM 3:30 PM 7:00 PM 10:30 PM 3:00 AM

Flying stools on 61st?

| | Comments (2)

This morning at our church, I heard that the Eastern Oklahoma Presbytery of the PCUSA was sending in a supply preacher to oversee worship this morning at Kirk of the Hills, the congregation that left the PCUSA earlier this month.

As I understand it, this is the theory behind the move: The pastors of the Kirk resigned from Eastern Oklahoma Presbytery, but the congregation did not leave the presbytery, because they did not go through proper channels. Therefore, the presbytery will supply interim leadership, whether the congregation wants it or not.

When I heard this I said, "Where's Jenny Geddes when you need her?"

In 1637, King Charles I of England and Scotland was attempting to create uniformity of religion in all his realms, and commissioned an Anglican-style Book of Common Prayer to be used in Scotland, replacing the simpler form of worship that had been in place for the previous seven decades. The new prayer book was first used on July 23, 1637, at St. Giles High Kirk in Edinburgh. According to legend, Jenny Geddes, a market woman, was highly offended by the intrusion of alien forms of worship, and flung her stool right at the head of the dean who was leading the service. She is said to have yelled, "Devil give you the colic, false thief! Dare you say Mass in my ear!"

I'm sure the good people of Kirk of the Hills are too genteel to fling so much as a hymnbook at an uninvited supply preacher, but I had to smile at the idea of history repeating itself.

Reading Kirk pastor Tom Gray's blog this evening, I learned that the presbytery had planned to send a supply pastor to preach at the Kirk this morning, but that they had backed off after communication with the Kirk's attorneys, and that the Kirk was filled this morning with enthusiastic worshippers showing support for the Kirk's departure from the PCUSA. In another entry, Gray explains the rationale for the method of the Kirk's departure from the PCUSA. He also links to a report of a 2005 attempt by PCUSA leadership and a minority faction to take over the worship service of a Korean Presbyterian congregation in Torrance, California.

In making their escape from the PCUSA, the Kirk's congregants and pastors have taken the risk of forfeiting their property and pensions, and the potential for confrontation and disruption of their services, but they are taking these risks for the sake of the truth. Keep the Kirk in your prayers.

Root, root, root


Another random childhood memory inspired by a recent family event:

My son had a root canal on one of his upper incisors on Friday. (Back in the spring, a baseball glanced off the tip of his glove and hit the tooth.)

I was amazed: I expected him to have a swollen mouth, packed with cotton swabs, and to hear him moaning in pain when I came home. Instead he talked with excitement about the procedure, and how weird it was to have a numb nose and lips for a while, and how he was so nauseous on the ride home that he.... ("That's enough! Please don't talk about that at the dinner table!")

The worst oral surgery I've ever had was a surgical removal of a wisdom tooth, but when I was about my son's age, or younger, I had to get an "appliance" to correct a crossbite. (Didn't work -- I still had to have braces a few years later.) There was some metal thing that sat in the roof of my mouth and it was supposed to shift several crowded teeth around. They used novacaine on me and maybe laughing gas, too.

The office of Dr. Smith, the dentist, was in the Warren Building, along with several other doctors we saw. Often after a doctor's visit in that part of town, we'd stop by the little dairy stand / burger place on 61st just west of Sheridan. (The building is a Goldie's now; it had another name when I was a kid.) After my appliance was installed, Mom bought me a root beer float there as a treat. I tried to drink it, but with my mouth so numb it was just too strange.

After other doctor visits we would go to the playground at LaFortune Park. I remember my sister and me playing there wearing our post-eye-dilation paper sunglasses, following a visit to Dr. Carroll the ophthalmologist.

One other piece of mouth-related family news: The baby is now making motorboat noises. Not just a raspberry, this is a sustained and vocalized lip-flapping noise, with pitch rising and falling. When he pauses, big brother can start the motorboat up again by blowing in his face. He still doesn't have any teeth yet, but as much as he's drooling, it shouldn't be long now. Meanwhile, big sister is reporting that her two front teeth are very loose; she may not be able to withth uth Merry Chrithmath thith year.

Slain in the bedspread

| | Comments (1)

Toddlers have these games and routines that they want to do over and over again -- "fly me like Superman," "hold me upside down," piggy back rides -- and the more you repeat them the more they giggle. Don Danz and his little son Drew have a game that is distinctly Tulsan. It's called "Heal me," and there's a very cute video of it on Don's site.

It reminds me of when my oldest was about two years old. We were looking at a shoe, and he was asking me the names of the parts of it. When I told him which part was the heel, he said, "Daddy heals it at church."

(On a completely different topic, Don also has some thoughts about former Judge Donald Thompson's conviction, along with a nice picture of the judge in an orange jumpsuit.)

Beacon endorses Trebilcock


I'm proud to call John Trebilcock a friend and proud to have been a part of his campaign team in 2002, when he won a come-from-behind runoff victory in House District 98. (His district includes the area where I grew up and where my parents still live.) He is one of the most intelligent and honorable people I know in Oklahoma politics, and I am glad he is seeking a third term.

The Tulsa Beacon is glad, too -- from the July 14, 2006, issue:

Vote for Rep. John Trebilcock

State Rep. John Trebilcock is a young man with excellent experience, a solid Christian faith and a record of service in government.

Trebilcock, an assistant majority floor leader, serves on several key committees, including Appropriations and Budget Subcommittee - Public Safety & Judiciary.

Trebilcock was born and raised in Oklahoma. After graduating from Oklahoma State University with a degree in education, he taught in public schools before earning a law degree from The University of Tulsa.

When he is not doing legislative work, he works in business development for Oklahoma National Bank.

Trebilcock has been right in the middle of the conservative revolution in the House of Representatives for the last two sessions. After an 80-year-lapse, the Republicans took control of the House and the process changed.

Bills that would never get past liberal Democrat committee chairman before are now coming up for a floor vote and passing. Conservative Democrats, frustrated by their own party for years, are finding new allies with the Republicans.

The beneficiaries of this new openness in government are the citizens of Oklahoma.

Trebilcock has a rare blend of experience in education, law and business. Oklahoma needs him and his expertise to continue the conservative momentum and as a balance to the decades-old control of the Oklahoma Senate by liberal Democrat leaders.

With Brad Henry as governor, the Legislature needs all the conservatives it can get. If Republicans can gain control of the Senate in November, it will be the first time in history for the GOP to control the House and the Senate.

Trebilcock is doing a great job and deserves another term.

The Tulsa Beacon endorses John Trebilcock in House District 98.

I agree wholeheartedly. I'll add that John, like most of our Tulsa Republican delegation, is one of the fair dealers, not the wheeler-dealers, in the legislature. We need him back, and we need more like him.

Catoosa candy


I was thinking about candy necklaces today. You remember those? Pastel-colored beads of sugar strung on a piece of twine.

I went to Kindergarten (1969-70, Mrs. Pat Chambers) and 2nd grade (1970-71, Mrs. Helen Paul) at Catoosa Elementary School. My kindergarten classroom was in the northeast corner of the old gymnasium building. (After my kindergarten year, Mrs. Chambers took a teaching job in Claremore, and my mom took her place and her classroom.) To the north of the gym was the playground. To the west of the playground and the gym was the street where the buses picked us up.

Across that little street was a candy store in a little house. It's gone now, but it was just south of the old First Baptist Church building. The candy store sold candy cigarettes, wax lips and wax teeth, and candy necklaces and bracelets. They sold Frito pie there, too. Kids would go there after school, and it seems like we might have been able to go there during lunch.

I was thinking about it today, and I wondered if there are any other kids who went to Catoosa Elementary back then and remembered that candy store. Feel free to add your own reminiscences of the '60s and '70s in the Catoosa area.

I'm not likely to post anything very substantive tonight. Still tired, still trying to get caught up on things at home.

If you're wondering...


...if I'm going to comment on the election results, the answer is yes, but I'm too tired to think right now. Had a short night last night, and spent this evening playing "Sorry" and otherwise hanging out with the family.

In the meantime, the other Tulsa Bloggers have a lot of new stuff out. Be sure to check out meeciteewurkor's local headlines page.

Jackson, Turner turned out

| | Comments (2)

I was pleased to hear this morning that Brandon Jackson and Ron Turner had withdrawn their names from reappointment to the TMAPC and the Tulsa Airport Authority, respectively. Both had drawn significant opposition based on their performance in office. Turner basically disqualified himself by saying that he would not appear before the Council for questioning, calling the Council a "kangaroo court."

That kind of contempt for the elected representatives of the citizens of Tulsa ought to be rewarded with a permanent ban from service on a board or commission. Future councils need to remember Turner's attitude.

Turner is a retired Brigadier General in the Air National Guard. Regarding Turner's contempt for the City Council, someone said that generals don't answer to privates. But generals do answer to the civilian authority of the President and the Congress. The reappointment process is the one opportunity the people of Tulsa have, through their elected representatives on the Council, to hold authority, board, and commission appointees accountable for their performance and judgment on these important boards.

Although they have withdrawn their names in writing, Turner's and Jackson's names still appear on tomorrow night's Council agenda, so it would be sensible for those in opposition to have a representative present, just in case. If they were to reverse themselves, the Council would have good cause to delay the hearing, since many opponents would have made other plans based on the news of their standing down.

In response to Turner's announcement, State Rep. Mark Liotta, whose district encompasses Tulsa International Airport, called on Mayor Kathy Taylor to appoint an airport neighbor to fill the seat on the Tulsa Airport Authority:

State Representative Mark Liotta called on Tulsa Mayor Kathy Taylor to appoint an airport area neighbor to the Board of Trustees of the Tulsa Airport Authority. "Mayor Taylor has an opportunity to appoint to the Board, someone who actually lives within the traffic and sound footprint of the airport." said Liotta. "This would be a great first step toward ensuring that all parts of Tulsa are given a voice."

"The board could only benefit from the perspective of an individual who understands the local effects of the airport on a daily basis." he said.

"Among the many active neighborhood leaders who are also airport area
residents, there should be no problem finding someone willing and uniquely able to serve their community."

The position became available when current member Brigadier General Ron Turner asked that his name be removed from consideration. General Turner had served on the board since 2002.

Liotta continued, "This individual would be keenly aware of the concerns of Tulsans who live within a mile radius of the airport, including neighborhood cohesion, street traffic patterns, industrial and commercial development, as well as airport noise abatement."

Rep. Liotta suggested that relations between the airport and its neighbors could be improved, "The best way to maintain good neighbors is by maintaining communication, and putting a neighbor on the board can certainly improve communication. This should have been a requirement for at least one of the board positions when the board was originally developed."

Representative Liotta's House district encompasses the entire Tulsa
International Airport and all the surrounding neighborhoods. Liotta has served in the House since 1996.

I can think of a number of excellent candidates, such as Carol Barrow and Laura Dowty of Layman Van Acres neighborhood (just south and east of the main runway) and David Schuttler, who has had to deal with all the problems in Cinnabar's management of the airport noise abatement program.

(I hope our new County Commissioners-to-be will take a similar step with regard to the Fairgrounds and put an Expo Square neighbor on the Tulsa County Public Facilities Authority.)

A majority of the City Councilors deserve credit for standing firm and asserting their right to ask questions and hear the concerns of the public on these controversial nominees. They held the line against Jim Beach's nomination to the Board of Adjustment, too, resulting in that nomination's withdrawal. Overall, the Mayor has gotten her way on over 100 nominations, so you can't fault the Council for scrutinizing only three of the Mayor's nominees.

An edited version of this piece was published in the August 23, 2006, issue of Urban Tulsa Weekly. The edited, published version of the piece is online in the Internet Archive. Posted on the web September 17, 2013.

Property owners owe Tulsans downtown preservation

By Michael D. Bates

A memo from the not-too-distant future

Dear Delegate,

Welcome to Tulsa and the 2008 National Preservation Conference! We want to do everything we can to make your stay a pleasant and memorable one.

Tulsa is a young city, but one with a rich history. As you walk the streets of downtown, we invite you to imagine the bygone days of wildcatters and oil barons and to imagine the bygone buildings where they did their deals, dined, shopped, and were entertained.
For those of you staying at the Westin Adam's Mark Crowne Plaza whatever the heck it's called now, you're sure to enjoy the history of the walk between the Convention Center and your hotel.

Fourth Street was once Tulsa's Great White Way, home to vaudeville and cinematic spectaculars. Close your eyes and you can imagine the Ritz (southeast corner of 4th and Boulder, now a parking garage), the Majestic (southwest corner of 4th and Main, part of the same parking garage), and the Orpheum (east of Main, south of 4th, now part of one of downtown Tulsa's foremost attractions, the Heap Big Hole in the Ground).
Don't miss the site of the Skelly Building on the northeast corner of 4th and Boulder, designed by famed architect Bruce Goff, now an exclusive deluxe gated parking community owned by the Tulsa World.

As you head north on Main Street, you'll be awed by the Totalitarian-Moderne Tulsa World building, a design inspired by the pillbox gun emplacements built by longtime Albanian dictator Enver Hoxha.

Main Street dead-ends at 3rd, cut off by your hotel's conference rooms, symbolically celebrating the irreparable division between north and south Tulsa.

We hope you'll take time to get some kicks on old Route 66. 11th Street, also known as the Mother Road, is today a lovely tree-lined boulevard, no longer cluttered with unsightly old motels and diners, which were cleared out to provide an attractive approach to the gateway to the portal to the grand entrance to the University of Tulsa.

We've got an "explosive" event planned for the final night of the conference - or should we say implosive! This town will rock! Promptly at sunset, every downtown building at least 50 years old will be simultaneously demolished in a symphony of light, sound, and debris. "Clean Slate 2008" is made possible through the generous sponsorship of Twenty-First Properties, the Tulsa World, Ark Wrecking, the Tulsa Parking Authority, and Downtown Tulsa Unlamented.

Enjoy your visit!

Tulsa Convention and Visitors Bureau

A bit farfetched? Perhaps, but the National Preservation Conference is coming to Tulsa in October 2008, and you have to wonder how many historic downtown buildings Tulsa will have left to show the visiting delegates.

The conference is put on each year by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, bringing preservation and urban planning professionals and lay people from all over the world for five days to exchange ideas and to tour local preservation success stories. I have no idea why they agreed to come to Tulsa, except perhaps to learn what not to do.

In the last two years we've seen the demolition of the Skelly Building and the 3rd and Main Froug's, two small retail buildings on the east side of Main just south of the Heap Big Hole in the Ground, and the Tulsa Auto Hotel, a parking garage that was demolished for - naturally - a surface parking lot. An aerial view of downtown reveals the effects of fifty years of heedless demolition.

The NTHP's local affiliate, Preservation Oklahoma, has named downtown Tulsa one of Oklahoma's most endangered historic places. While many Tulsans are rightly embarrassed by this and are working on a practical plan for action, the big downtown property owners are whining about the prospect any effective downtown preservation initiative.

Last week, a group called CORE Tulsa issued a set of five modest recommendations to the Tulsa Preservation Commission:

  1. Review all downtown buildings.
  2. Be proactive in meeting parking demand with structured parking, and discourage surface parking.
  3. Make downtown preservation a key component of Tulsa's new comprehensive plan.
  4. Create and promote incentives for redevelopment.
  5. Create a demolition review panel, to be designated by the Preservation Commission, that could halt demolition of a significant building for up to four months.

These measures have been a long time coming. Most cities took similar steps many years ago. Even many of Oklahoma's small cities have been more proactive than Tulsa in protecting their historic business districts.

I would have hoped that downtown property owners would get behind this effort, but instead their loud complaints have pushed these recommendations back to the drawing board, where they will no doubt be watered down.

I would have hoped that Mayor Kathy Taylor, who during the mayoral campaign praised the "Main Street" preservation efforts that she observed as Secretary of Commerce, would show some leadership and bring these recommendations forward. Instead, she seems to be heeding the advice of her aide Susan Neal, a former vice president of Downtown Tulsa Unlamented, who applauded the decision to withhold the recommendations.

(I know - it's really "Unlimited" not "Unlamented" - but the organization deserves the name change for their longstanding lack of resistance to the paving of downtown.)

In her Sunday Tulsa World column, Janet Pearson writes that "developers and building owners saw [the CORE recommendations] as potential project-killers." I'd be more impressed by that concern if it looked like the complaining property owners were actually doing anything with the land they've been sitting on. Other than the slow-but-steady renovation of the Mayo Hotel, there's not much happening in the downtown core.

What was most ironic and outrageous about the response of the development industry was the assertion that these preservation measures trampled on property rights and the free market.

Donovan D. Rypkema, a self-described "crass, unrepentant, real estate capitalist Republican type," gave a speech called "Property Rights and Public Values," in which he makes the case, from the basis of free markets and limited government, for land use regulation.

(You can find Rypkema's speech on the web at

These sentences from the speech are particularly relevant to the topic at hand:
"Most of the value of an individual parcel of real estate comes from beyond the property lines from the investments others - usually taxpayers - have made. And land use controls are an appropriate recompense for having publicly created that value."

Think about public investment in downtown Tulsa. Tulsa County taxpayers are investing over a quarter-billion dollars in downtown through Vision 2025. City of Tulsa taxpayers have invested tens or maybe hundreds of millions through bond issues and the third-penny -- building Main Mall, removing it, providing incentives to downtown residential development, acquiring land for the Williams Center through eminent domain, streetscaping, changing streets from one-way to two-way, etc. Then there's the federal and state investment in the highway network that provides rapid access to downtown from every part of the metropolitan area.

We didn't pay all that money to accelerate the conversion of downtown to an enormous surface parking lot.

The express purpose of much of that public investment is the revitalization of downtown. Many Tulsans want a downtown where historic buildings are protected, a downtown that is an attractive and interesting place to walk around, not a downtown that looks like the Woodland Hills Mall parking lot.

Every time a property owner knocks a building down for surface parking, it devalues that public investment. It is legitimate and reasonable for local government to protect that investment with modest regulations.

Oklahoma City has an Urban Design Commission with the power to block demolition.
That's how they saved the Gold Dome building at 23rd and Classen, now a multicultural center anchoring the city's Asian District.

In 2002, during a bus tour of Oklahoma City's downtown and Bricktown, I asked then-Mayor Kirk Humphreys how they convinced developers to go along with restrictions on what they could do with their property. Humphreys said that the City pointed out how many millions of dollars the City had invested in that area (the canal, the ballpark, the Ford Center, and more), and that it was reasonable for the City to take steps to protect its investment.

It's high time that our elected officials, the stewards of Tulsa's public investment in downtown, made that same case to our downtown property owners.

This week's UTW column begins with an imaginary letter from the Convention and Visitors Bureau to delegates to the 2008 National Preservation Conference, inviting delegates to admire the parking lots where historic buildings used to stand.

Don’t miss the site of the Skelly Building on the northeast corner of 4th and Boulder, designed by famed architect Bruce Goff, now an exclusive deluxe gated, 12-space parking community owned by the Tulsa World.

More specifically it's about the CORE Tulsa recommendations for historical preservation in downtown Tulsa (PDF document) and the hysterical response of certain downtown property owners, who don't recognize the obligation placed upon them by the enormous amount of public investment that has boosted their property values:

We didn’t pay all that money to accelerate the conversion of downtown to an enormous surface parking lot. The express purpose of much of that public investment is the revitalization of downtown. Many Tulsans want a downtown where historic buildings are protected, a downtown that is an attractive and interesting place to walk around, not a downtown that looks like the Woodland Hills Mall parking lot. Every time a property owner knocks a building down for surface parking, it devalues that public investment. It is legitimate and reasonable for local government to protect that investment with modest regulations.

One of the organizations who complained about the CORE recommendations gets a new nickname: Downtown Tulsa Unlamented. (I couldn't find this in the Whirled archives, but I seem to recall reading an article about the demolition of the old Cadillac dealership in south Boston, in which a DTU official was quoted as saying that no one would miss that old building. Anyone else recall that?)

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

If I weren't going to be making the rounds of watch parties this evening, I'd be going to this, which is worth your attention if you're concerned about protecting what's left of Tulsa's historic buildings and neighborhoods:

In lieu of a monthly meeting
The Coalition of Historic Neighborhoods
is please to announce
A Round Table Discussion

"How Do We Save Our Historic Resources:
Downtown and Our Neighborhoods"

Tuesday August 22, 2006
6:30 pm - 8:00 pm
Marquette School
15th and Quincy

Our Guest Presenters include:
Jamie Jamieson on Form Based Codes
Steve Novick on Neighborhood Stabilization
Amanda DeCort on Historic Preservation Overlay Zoning
Shawn Schaefer on Urban Planning

Sean Griffin will moderate

Have you ever asked this question?
Then you need to participate in this discussion.

Open to any and all.

What does it tell you when a Republican candidate for State House, a first-time candidate with no public track record, refuses to expose himself to direct public scrutiny?

Fred Jordan refused to fill out the Oklahoma Republican Assembly questionnaire.

Over the weekend, KRMG invited Fred Jordan and Chris Medlock to appear separately on Joe Kelley's Monday morning show. Chris Medlock accepted and appeared. Fred Jordan refused. Not only did Jordan refuse, when he was told that Medlock would be on the air whether or not Jordan accepted the opportunity, Jordan complained that that was unfair.

Fred Jordan had set up an interview with the Tulsa Beacon, but cancelled it.

Fred Jordan refused an opportunity to debate Chris Medlock on Charlie Biggs' talk show on KCFO.

What does it tell you?

Runoff endorsements

| | Comments (1)

Several people have e-mailed asking for my picks in this Republican runoff election. Fortunately, in all the races that have runoffs, my primary pick made it, so that makes matters simple. The links below will lead you to the candidate's website.

Now that the Republican Party is nearing total control of the Oklahoma legislature, two factions are emerging: the fair-dealers and the wheeler-dealers. The fair-dealers believe that government should focus on basic infrastructure and services and to provide the legal framework for the free market to work. The wheeler-dealers want to use government's power to benefit their own businesses and to put their competition at a disadvantage. Some of the fierce primary contests are representative of the struggle between those two factions.

Lt. Governor: Scott Pruitt has a sharp mind and firm conservative convictions. I'm impressed by his vision for making the most of the Lt. Governor's powers to advance a conservative agenda. While I appreciate the way Todd Hiett led the Republican Party to the majority in the State House, I share the disappointment of many Republican legislators in the huge budget increase and the relatively paltry tax cut achieved under his leadership.

House District 69: Chris Medlock. Medlock would strengthen the ranks of the fair-dealers in the Legislature, not only by replacing one who's there now (Fred Perry), but by helping to stiffen the spines of his colleagues who may be wilting under the pressure of the wheeler-dealers. As a councilor Medlock demonstrated the ability to build support to advance the agenda by increments, reaching across partisan and ideological boundaries to get important legislation like the ethics ordinance and the eminent domain moratorium passed. His opponent can't seem to take the heat and is hiding behind an expensive radio and direct mail campaign.

County Commission District 1: Anna Falling. While John Smaligo would also be a vast improvement over the incumbent, Wilbert Collins, I think Anna Falling would be the better choice. She has been tried by fire and would be willing to take the heat that is bound to come if county government is reformed the way it needs to be. Her proactive approach to government is what we need at this time in the County's history. That said, I'm impressed with some of the things Smaligo has said about the bridge deal (that the County was leasing its power of eminent domain to a private business) and about Vision 2025 (the extra $45 million for the arena will really cost taxpayers $56 million, because of bond interest).

County Commission District 3: Fred Perry is a solid conservative, as honest as the day is long and has a long list of legislative achievements during his years in the State House, not least of which is a transportation bill (an effort led by Mark Liotta) that doubles spending on roads and bridges without raising taxes.

Here are links to the Urban Tulsa Weekly columns I've written on these races:

August 17 issue: Tulsa County Commission

July 20 issue: County races (brief Tulsa County Commission endorsements at the end of the column about the DA's race)

July 13 issue: House races (including District 69)

July 6 issue: Statewide races (including the Lt. Governor's race

The Tulsa County Election Board has links to the sample ballots for each precinct. If you don't know your precinct number, you can look it up using the Election Board's precinct locator.

The most powerful way you can help your favorite candidates is to go through your address book and call friends who live in the district, making a personal recommendation.

Every Republican and Democrat in Oklahoma will be able to vote on Tuesday in the Lt. Governor's race.

County Commission District 1 includes Skiatook, Sperry, Turley, Owasso, and Collinsville, plus north Tulsa, east Tulsa, and a bit of north Broken Arrow.

County Commission District 3 includes Bixby, Broken Arrow, far south Tulsa and midtown Tulsa roughly between Lewis and Yale.

House District 69 includes all of Jenks, most of Glenpool, a small part of Bixby southeast of 111th and Sheridan, and part of the Tulsa zip codes 74136 and 74137. The ORU campus is also in this district, and the students are back on campus just in time for this runoff.

Runoffs elsewhere


From the cutting-room floor: In putting together last week's Urban Tulsa Weekly column, I decided to concentrate on the two County Commission runoffs, races that only got a brief mention in my pre-primary columns. For the sake of space, I cut my original intro, which included a look at interesting runoffs elsewhere in Oklahoma. Here it is.

Both parties have a statewide runoff for lieutenant governor: State Rep. Jari Askins vs. Pete Regan for the Democratic nomination, Speaker of the House Todd Hiett vs. State Sen. Scott Pruitt on the Republican ballot.

Based on Gaddies 40+5 rule, Pruitt and Regan have steep hills to climb. According to Keith Gaddie, a poli-sci prof at OU and the proprietor of, when the leading candidate pulls at least 40% in the runoff and leads the second place candidate by at least 5%, he wins the runoff 95% of the time.

Still, Pruitt has garnered the endorsements of 18 of his 21 Republican Senate colleagues, who have pledged to campaign on his behalf in their home districts. And Regan has Barry Switzer on his side. Switzers support was enough to get a bland unknown elected Governor four years ago, so who knows?

And Brad Henrys 2002 runoff win was one of those one-in-twenty exceptions: He lost the primary to Vince Orza by a 44% to 28% margin.

At the other end of the turnpike, one runoff involves two close relatives of elected officials: Former Governor Frank Keatings son Chip finished the House District 85 Republican primary just behind David Dank in the race to succeed Danks wife Odilia, who is leaving office because of term limits.

In the House 90 race, former State Rep. Charles Key, who lost his seat because of his intense focus on the Oklahoma City bombing grand jury, is trying to get it back, now that his replacement is stepping aside.

Here in Tulsa County, there are runoffs for two open State House seats: Democrats Wayne Guevara and Carl Weston have a runoff in House District 74 (Owasso and Catoosa), and Republicans Chris Medlock and Fred Jordan will face off for House District 69 (south Tulsa and Jenks). Its an interesting coincidence that the incumbents for those two seats, John Smaligo and Fred Perry, will both be on the ballot the same day, in runoffs for the GOP nominations for Tulsa County Commission Districts 1 and 3, respectively.

Inactive independents

| | Comments (5)

Ken Neal in today's Whirled, arguing for forcing the parties to allow independents to vote in their primaries:

Although independents make up 11 percent of registered voters, they account for 20 percent of inactive voters, says Gene Pace, Tulsa County election board secretary.

That's probably because they seldom have a candidate who inspires them. In the July 25 primary election fewer than one half of 1 percent of Tulsa County independents bothered to vote. They could vote only in some of the non-partisan judicial races.

No, Ken, to be an inactive voter you have to have not bothered to vote in over four years. Even if you only turn out to vote for president, you will be on the books as an active voter. The reason for all the inactive independents is Bill Clinton's Motor Voter law, which has resulted in a lot of people being registered to vote who have no interest in voting. Unless these apathetic folks indicate a party preference on the registration form, they are automatically registered as independents.

Classical concert tonight


Tonight in Tulsa you have the chance to hear some excellent chamber music.

The concert, which starts at 6 pm, will feature works by 19th & 20th century composers (such as Dvorak, Bartok, Saint-Saens) and flamenco music. It's at Christ Presbyterian Church, on 51st St between Lewis and Harvard. The concert is to benefit an upcoming mission trip to Uganda.

House District 69 candidate Fred Jordan is still trying to tap-dance his way around the photos taken by Steven Roemerman of a work crew site. On KRMG Friday morning, Jordan was interviewed by Joe Kelley about Jordan's claim that the pictures were "doctored and false."

(Here's an MP3 of Joe Kelley's interview with Fred Jordan. It's about 700 KB, about six minutes in length. Hat tip to David Schuttler.)

Jordan's recorded phone message, sent on Thursday to households in District 69, used Clintonesque phrase-shaping to give the impression that Jordan has no ownership interest in Caprock Homes, the general contractor that is building the home in the picture, and whose sign is visible in the photo. On Roemerman's blog, you can see that the mobile phone number on the Caprock sign at the house matches the phone number on Fred Jordan's business card. It also matches the phone number on Jordan's campaign page on

In the KRMG interview, Jordan acknowledged, "Yes, I am one of the owners of Caprock Homes."

When Kelley asked Jordan, in several different ways, "How is that picture doctored?" Jordan never gave a direct answer. On a later attempt, when Kelley said, "But the picture is not doctored." Jordan replied, "Well, the picture does show some Hispanic gentleman sitting in front of a house, but they're not hired by Caprock." He would not give a direct response.

Jordan said that he didn't know who these people were at his worksite. "They might be actors; we don't know who they are."

Jordan's real complaint is that the photos give an impression that he'd rather avoid -- that he hires illegals.

His company Caprock doesn't hire any construction workers at all. Caprock is a general contractor, and they subcontract out all the construction work to other companies. That means that Jordan's company could be benefitting from illegal labor while not being directly responsible for hiring the illegal workers.

If Jordan hires subcontractors without verifying that they hire only legal workers, he is helping to put honest, law-abiding subcontractors out of business.

In the Kelley interview, Jordan mentioned paperwork that he gets from the subcontractors: Proof that the subcontractor carries workers' comp and liability insurance, and the information needed to report payments to the subcontractor to the IRS for tax purposes. None of the documentation he mentions has to do with whether the subcontractor's employees are eligible to work legally in the United States.

A couple of times Jordan said that the Federal government needs to take action to address this problem, but in fact the Federal Government has provided a way for Jordan and his subcontractors to avoid hiring illegal labor. The Basic Employment Verification program is a web-based system, offered by the U. S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (an agency of the Department of Homeland Security) that provides rapid confirmation of an employee's eligibility to work. Although it is a pilot program and voluntary, it is available in all 50 states, free of charge to employers.

It don't mean a thing

| | Comments (5)

Why is it that so many Tulsa parks don't have swings? What good is a park without swings?

Now this is what a city park should be. Swings, slides, and things that bounce and spin.

Got this e-mail tonight from Fred Perry (the only candidate for County Commission District 3 who votes the way Republicans want him to vote).



It has come to my attention that there is a communication being circulated by supporters of my opponent which has the following misleading, and even false, information:

(1) It contains a quote regarding my statement in favor of a bridge. Yes, when I represented Bixby a few years ago when Bixby was a part of House District 69, I did make such a statement. The quote is from that time period. However, that was when it was simply being discussed as a bridge and the exact location and the fact that it would be funneling traffic up Yale was not yet proposed (at least not to my knowledge). And, even if I was in favor of it later when it was planned as coming up Yale, I did not know the ramifications of same. I have been steadfastly against a bridge coming up Yale for some time. As many of you know, I have attended the STCC meetings and voiced my opposition there, to the press and in any venue it was discussed. I have also written the same and there have been quotes in the Tulsa World, Jenks Journal, Bixby Bulletin papers in 2005 and 2006 to this effect. Also, keep in mind that I signed the statement, as Becky Darrow and Michael Covey can verify. (Actually, you probably got a scanned copy of the statement.)

(2) The faulty communication further alleges, I'm told, that I have moved "to Bixby" (which is false) that I am either now "on the other side of the issue" (in favor of the bridge coming up Yale). Again, this is FALSE. I live in a BROKEN ARROW zip code (74011) near 133rd and Garnett, NOT in Bixby. Someone apparently got my new phone number which is 369-3735 and assumed I moved to Bixby since that is a Bixby Telephone exchange. Bixby covers part of 74011 zip code. However, my new mailing address is 11404 E. 133rd St., BROKEN ARROW, OK. And, I am still north of the river (check the map). Even if I DID live in Bixby, that wouldn't change my mind about the fact that the bridge traffic should be channeled up RIVER ROAD. My opponent and I agree on this. Call me or email with any questions.....By the way, the best thing for the STCC folks is to have Bill Christiansen stay on the City Council and Fred Perry get elected to County Commissioner. Then, you have opponents in both bodies. Please circulate this to other STCC and others opposed to the bridge coming up Yale. FRED PERRY......Vote for Fred Perry for County Commissioner

A couple of points worth expanding upon: Garnett Road is the dividing line between Bixby and Broken Arrow between 131st and 141st Street, and Perry's new address is indeed in Broken Arrow and on the north side of the river, in an area and a city that will not be affected at all by the proposed south Tulsa toll bridge.

Perry's House District 69 was redrawn and made more compact after the 2000 census. Prior to that time (from Perry's first election in 1994 through the 2000 election) District 69 included part of Bixby south of the river, as Perry mentioned. During that same period, as the STCC has frequently pointed out, the planning maps showed an east-west bridge crossing the Arkansas River at 121st Street.

At today's candidate forum, Bill Christiansen went on and on about how he never goes negative in a campaign. In response, Fred Perry pointed out that Christiansen had already sent out a piece claiming that Perry is only running for County Commissioner because he needs a job, along with suggestions that Perry was out of touch with local issues as a legislator. Perry responded with a list of his legislative accomplishments that have a direct bearing on the quality of life in southern Tulsa County. The moment was the highlight of the forum, and I hope to have audio posted sometime this weekend.

Fred Perry's opponent in the District 3 County Commission race, Bill Christiansen, levied the following devastating accusation against Perry, and it is undeniably true:

"I think Fred goes down and gets in line with the Republicans and votes the way the Republicans want him to vote."

Someone needs to tell Bill that this accusation works much better at winning a Democratic runoff.

The Tulsa County Republican Men's Club is sponsoring a forum for the Republican candidates in Tuesday's runoff for County Commission Districts 1 and 3. Both candidates in both races have committed to appear. The event begins at 11:45 a.m. at the Radisson, 41st Street between US 169 and Garnett. If you want to buy lunch, there's a $10 buffet, but you don't have to have lunch to come and hear the forum. The program should end at 1 p.m.

Michelle reports that the smears have already begun against Chris Medlock in the House District 69 race, and Fred Jordan is not only calling Medlock a liar, he's impugning the honesty of fellow Tulsa blogger Steven Roemerman:

I got my mail at about 1:30 today and in it there was a mailer from Chris Medlock. It had a picture on it of six Mexican men who appear to be illegals sitting in front of a "Caprock" home. Caprock is owned at least partially by Mr. Fred Jordan, who is running against Mr. Medlock for State House. At almost 3:30, I got a prerecorded phone call from Mr. Jordan claiming this photo was a fauxto. He said it was a fake. Well, so sorry, Mr. Jordan, but it isnt fake, and I first saw the picture several days ago. It was taken by an honest citizen.

Steve Roemerman has posted the entire sequence of 14 photos that he shot as he drove past this home in south Jenks which is being built by Caprock, Fred Jordan's homebuilding company. Although there were no doubt some contrast adjustments and cropping done for the sake of presenting a clear image on the printed material, every key element in the picture -- the workers, the house under construction, and the Caprock sign -- appear in several if not all of the photos, taken as Steve drove past the house.

Here's what Jordan said in his recorded phone call:

In fact, I am amazed that my opponent has sent you a doctored and false picture showing Hispanics hired by a company that I have absolutely no ownership in.

Jordan gives a very lawyerly, nay, Clintonian response. You could take that sentence a couple of different ways.

Possibility 1: Jordan is claiming that he has no ownership in Caprock. I don't know the financial arrangement he has with Kevin Jordan or the other partners in the company, but the phone number on the sign in the photo is identical to the phone number on his campaign's page on

Possibility 2: Jordan is really saying that the workers in the photo were hired by a subcontractor, a company he hired to do part of the work on the house. The implication is that he can't be considered responsible for these workers if they are illegal.

Apple strudel! Mmmmm!!! This is the defense that was often employed by a fictional man in uniform, Sgt. Hans Schultz of Luftstalag 13: "I see no-THING! I know no-THING!" While Jordan may be able to truthfully say that he doesn't have ownership in the subcontractor, that doesn't absolve him of ethical responsibility for whether his subcontractors' employees are legally allowed to work in the United States.

If a general contractor like Fred Jordan simply takes the low bidder everytime he invites bids on part of a homebuilding job (e.g., bricklaying, framing, roofing, landscaping) without ensuring that the low bidder is only hiring legal labor, he gives an insurmountable advantage to subcontractors who break the law. That willful ignorance on the part of the general contractor puts law-abiding subcontractors out of business.

In a May 1, 2006, Tulsa Whirled story, Randy Sissom, who owns a bricklaying business, talked about his struggles trying to operate as a subcontractor who plays by the rules:

Hargrove said when he bids a brick job he can't compete with the price of an all-immigrant crew. Sissom faces the same problem. He usually charges builders about $245 per thousand bricks installed. Immigrant competitors charge about $200 per thousand, he said. Sissom says immigrants, mainly from Mexico, stop by his job site almost on a daily basis looking for work. "They say, 'You pay cash?' " he said.

When they find out he takes out money from their checks to pay taxes they often lose interest, he said. But if they still want the job, Sissom says he makes a copy of any documentation they provide like a Green Card and Social Security card.

Guys like Sissom suffer when general contractors like Jordan turn a blind eye to their subcontractors' illegal hiring practices. A law that fines general contractors for indirectly employing illegal workers would help level the playing field for law-abiding subcontractors. Do you think that, as a state rep, homebuilder Fred Jordan would vote for a law like that? Do you think the developers who have financed his campaign would want him to vote for such a law?

(The title of this post relates to this earlier one, about the misleading last minute tactics used against District Attorney Tim Harris by political consultant Fount Holland, who is the consultant for the Fred Jordan campaign.)

Recently, John Hart, Communications Director for Senator Tom Coburn, passed along correspondence concerning several attempts by Coburn's office to correct errors appearing in the Tulsa Whirled. There's so much material here, I'm going to have to spool it out over several entries, and you'll have to click "Continue reading" on each entry to see the whole thing.

Here's the most recent example: On August 6, 2006, the Whirled published a story by Jim Myers, the paper's Washington reporter, about a joint town hall meeting to be held in Muskogee by Coburn and Democratic U. S. Congressman Dan Boren. In that story, Myers wrote (emphasis added):

Probably the biggest difference between Coburn and Boren, however, could be their approach to Oklahoma projects and issues.

Boren so far has followed the more traditional approach of making Oklahoma issues a priority, which led him to join others in stepping up when the state had problems this year with a federal agency's response to wildfires.

Coburn, who had been a critic of that same agency on its response to Gulf Coast hurricanes and sits on the panel that oversees it, chose not to weigh in when it came to the state's request for more assistance.

He has said he will not make requests on Oklahoma's behalf until the deficit issue is addressed.

The joint town hall will begin at noon in Rooms A and B of the Muskogee Civic Center, 425 Boston.

"I encourage everyone to attend this important meeting to share your ideas and opinions on the issues important to you," said Coburn, who barred his office from answering any questions on the meeting.

Senator Coburn then submitted the following letter to the editor:

Dear editor,

Your August 6 story, "Coburn, Boren join for meeting" contained a factual error and, I believe, deliberate distortion, which needs to be corrected as soon as possible.

I was shocked that your paper reported that I had "barred (my) office from answering questions on the meeting" I am holding jointly with U.S. Representative Dan Boren when I have no such blanket policy of not discussing this meeting and when no such policy had been communicated to your paper from my office. Your paper also reported that my office had not weighed in with FEMA on behalf of Oklahoma when our state was ravaged by wildfires when we had, in fact, weighed in with FEMA officials.

No one should have to remind any newspaper that manufacturing facts and indirect quotations is highly unethical and unprofessional and a serious offense to subscribers and readers. No provision in our Constitution grants news organizations the right to invent facts or quotations.

Regrettably, the Tulsa World has set a pattern of inaccuracy and distortion which I have been attempting to discuss with your editors for the past several months. My concerns include your papers refusal to correct, or even discuss, previous factual errors as well as the belligerent and unprofessional actions of some of your staff toward me and my staff. Because my concerns have not been addressed, I have instructed my office to make information available to every news outlet in Oklahoma except for the Tulsa World. As an elected official, the only recourse I have when a news outlet is willfully inaccurate, unethical and unprofessional is to deny them information.

I hope the Tulsa World will address these issues but until that time, the Tulsa World has no right to suggest to its readers that I am withholding information from the entire state when I am communicating openly with every other news outlet in Oklahoma and directly with my constituents through town hall meetings, personal meetings in my office, my website, phone calls and letters. In an age when citizens get their news from many outlets including television, radio and blogs, a newspaper that fails to provide its readers with accurate and unique information does not harm the public, but itself.


Tom Coburn, M.D.
United States Senator

Following a typo in the web version of an August 8 story, Hart sent the following e-mail to Joe Worley, Executive Editor of the Whirled:


Jim's story today refers to Dr. Coburn as "Co-burn". Please correct
that at your earliest convenience. Also, have you decided against
running a correction to Jim's fictitious claim that we have an office
policy of not discussing our joint town hall meeting with Rep. Boren?
If so, could you give us the courtesy of explaining your reasoning,
particularly in light of your refusal to print Dr. Coburn's letter to
the editor?


John [Hart]

Worley's response:

Kirk out

| | Comments (6)

From the blog of Tom Gray, pastor of Tulsa's Kirk of the Hills:

Yesterday the elders and the trustees of Kirk of the Hills voted to disaffiliate from the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) denomination in response to decisions made by the PCUSA at the national level which depart from the authority of the Bible and the denominations historical beliefs.

Rev. Tom Gray and Rev. Wayne Hardy have resigned from the PCUSA, and have been hired by the Kirk of the Hills Corporation as co-pastors of the church. Rev. Gray said, I ask that Christians in Tulsa and around America pray not only for Kirk of the Hills, but also for the Presbyterian denomination as a whole. We will continue to love and pray for our brothers and sisters in that denomination, and trust in our Lord Jesus Christ to use these recent events for His will, and to accomplish His work.

With this disaffiliation from PCUSA, the Kirk of the Hills will affiliate with the Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPC).

Read back through Gray's archives to learn more about what led up to this decision. Gray warns that the liberals running the denomination have already prepared plans for wresting control of church property from congregations who want to leave for a more conservative Presbyterian denomination.

This is a courageous and difficult step, one that could have been justified 20 years ago, but one that the Kirk deferred for the sake of unity. But at some point, if you're committed to truth, you have to say with Martin Luther, "Here I stand. I can do no other. May God help me."

May God help and bless Kirk of the Hills.

Remember the late, unlamented election for Tulsa County District Attorney? In my Urban Tulsa Weekly column on the race, I examined and refuted the misleading claims being made by challenger Brett Swab about DA Tim Harris's prosecution record.

Swab's negative campaign also included claims about DA office spending on remodeling and furnishings and on a rap song. Here is a large postcard mailer that the Swab campaign sent to Tulsa County voters very close to the primary election:



To say this is misleading is an understatement. Here's the truth regarding the "redecorating" claim:

The truth is that when the new jail was built away from the courthouse, County officials reclaimed the old jail space in the courthouse to build offices for the D.A. This in turn freed up old D.A. offices so that more courtrooms could be built. This was a Tulsa County Commission construction project supervised and financed by County officials - not Tim Harris. This construction project was planned when David Moss was the D.A.

Near the end of the project when resources were stretched, Harris contributed $50,000 from the D.A. budget to the County to finish the construction. This paid for items including sound batting for walls, ceiling work, library bookshelves and fixtures for the bathrooms.

It was Tim Harris responsibility to furnish and equip the space after it was constructed. Over a number of years, Harris saved $450,000 in fees recovered by his bogus check program to invest in office equipment for 100 employees which included workstations, desks, chairs, computers, and a filing system for 30,000 cases.

Tim Harris also used money from his budget to furnish the Victim-Witness Center, which is a respite area where more than 10,000 victims and witnesses come each year. Harris created separate and safe, pleasant spaces for adults, children and police officers to wait before testifying in court. Framed posters were put in the Victim-Witness Center and in the common waiting areas, conference rooms and hallways of the D.A.s Office. Despite what the opponent says, framed posters for two separate floors covering 35,000 square feet cost less than $8,500.

The Truth is Tim Harris budgeted funds responsibly in order to furnish a professional law office for the people of Tulsa County.

And the rap song? The DA's office, on behalf of Project Safe Neighborhoods, received a $10,000 grant from the Federal Government earmarked for community outreach to prevent gun violence. The DA's office used the funds to bring Marcus Nelson, Ph. D., a motivational speaker, the keynote speaker at the U. S. Department of Justice-sponsored National Youth Gang Conference. Nelson came to Tulsa spoke to the students of Central High School and Tulsa School of Science and Technology, and met with school staff.

In addition, Dr. Nelsons performance was videotaped so that his anti-violence message can be shown to every student in Tulsa area schools. Dr. Nelson also produced two versions of an original anti-violence song T-Town. He provided an instrumental version that can be used in the fall as part of an anti-violence contest for Tulsa students to write their own anti-violence lyrics.

Why am I bringing all this up again, a month later? Because the same political consultant who orchestrated this unfair and misleading attack on Tim Harris is involved in at least one other race on this Tuesday's runoff ballot. His name is Fount Holland, and he is the consultant for the Fred Jordan campaign for House District 69, and if you live in that district, you shouldn't be surprised to see the same sort of misleading cartoon postcard show up in your mailbox this weekend, attacking Chris Medlock.

Fount Holland was City Hall reporter for the Tulsa Whirled from 1990 to 1995, when he left to become press secretary for newly-elected Congressman Tom Coburn. In 1997, he left to become a political consultant, heading up the Oklahoma Values Coalition, a PAC formed by Coburn and his congressional colleague Steve Largent to help elect conservative candidates to the state legislature.

Holland deserves credit for some significant accomplishments. He is a gifted communicator and his ability to get a message across to the voters has played an important role in helping Republicans win control of the State House.

First with the Oklahoma Values Coalition and then as the exclusive political consultant for the Republican State House Committee, Holland helped Republicans win marginal seats all across Oklahoma. His partner in A. H. Strategies, Karl Ahlgren, Coburn's chief of staff during his tenure in the U. S. House, has had a similar role with the corresponding Senate PAC.

But in recent years, I've noticed a departure from Holland and Ahlgren's roots in Tom Coburn's office.

In 2003, they were consultants to the vote yes campaign for the Vision 2025 sales tax. Bill LaFortune singled them out for praise in his post-election "State of the City Address" that year. I remember how shocked I was at the time that these two, still strongly associated in my mind with Coburn, would be using their skills and connections to sell Republicans on a tax increase to pay for a package of pork projects.

As a lobbyist for Utica Partners, Ahlgren pushed for legislation this year which would have undermined historic preservation and local control of zoning.

Where Holland and Ahlgren were at one time mainly focused on helping Republicans defeat Democrats at the polls, they have increasingly been getting involved in Republican primaries. As noted above, Holland was the consultant for Swab's ugly and deceptive campaign against Tim Harris. Any Republican insider in Oklahoma would recognize Fount Holland's style in the layout of the mailer above.

And increasingly in those primary races, when their candidate is losing ground, they will strike back with some last-minute nastiness. Tim Harris experienced it this year. State Rep. John Trebilcock was hit by it in his runoff with Melissa Mahan in 2002. Expect to see the same sort of thing from the Fred Jordan campaign, attacking Chris Medlock, this weekend.

I'm disappointed that Ahlgren and Holland are using their considerable talents to defeat candidates like Harris, Trebilcock, and Medlock, candidates who resemble their old boss Tom Coburn in political courage and commitment to conservative principles.

But don't get me wrong -- Holland is no Jim Burdge, and I hope he'll turn around before he adopts a do-anything-to-win, work-for-the-highest-bidder ethos.

(Which reminds me: Keep an eye out for a last-minute slime attack against Fred Perry in the County Commission District 3 race this weekend. Perry's opponent, Bill Christiansen, is Jim Burdge's boy in the runoff.)

Term limits are working

| | Comments (3)

Remember the claim that term limits would give lobbyists more power? From John Fund in the Wall Street Journal, on efforts to repeal term limits:

Mark Petracca, a liberal who chairs the political science department at the University of California at Irvine, notes that lobbyists actually dislike term limits because they have less influence with a steady influx of unpredictable new legislators. "It's no surprise that business and labor interests have long been reliable opponents of term limits," he notes. "There is no systematic evidence that lobbyist power has swelled under term limits."

Other groups have obvious self-interested reasons to oppose term limits. "Journalists who cover politics hate term limits," says columnist Jill Stewart, a former reporter for the Los Angeles Times. "They must cozy up to a new bunch of lawmakers every time the old bunch is forced out. They have to develop new sources and--Horrors!--update their Rolodexes."

Term limits mean there is less time for a legislator to build a stronger sense of identity with bureaucrats, lobbyists, journalists, and fellow legislators than he has with his own constituents. He's less likely to start thinking of the Capitol Gang as "us" and his constituents as "them," less likely to become assimilated into the culture.

And the more new members there are at any given time, the less likely new members will feel intimidated by the institution, and the more likely they will trust their own intelligence and judgment and will be open to change.

My Tulsa World blog has video of yesterday's Council Committee hearing on Ron Turner's reappointment to the Tulsa Airport Authority. Turner has been asked to appear before the full City Council meeting to answer questions and respond to citizen complaints of his conduct during his time as a chairman and member of the TAA.

This week in UTW, my column is about the two Republican runoffs for Tulsa County Commission, between State Rep. John Smaligo and former Tulsa City Councilor Anna Falling in Commission District 1, and between State Rep. Fred Perry and City Councilor Bill Christiansen in Commission District 3.

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

What Veggie Tales character are you?

(Hat tip to Eric at the Fire Ant Gazette.)


| | Comments (2)

The response of the downtown building owners and their lobbyists to proposals for downtown historic preservation is ironic, with their talk of capital and free markets. I didn't hear any of them suggest that it was a violation of capitalism to tax groceries to pay for a venue for privately-owned, for-profit sports teams and musical acts, or to spend hundreds of millions of tax dollars to boost their property values.

Up in my linkblog, I linked to a speech by Donovan D. Rypkema, who describes himself as a "crass, unrepentant, real estate capitalist Republican type." The speech is about the rationale and legitimacy of land-use regulation. In particular, he addresses the assertion that land use regulation constitutes a taking for which a property owner should be compensated.

One paragraph in the speech seemed especially relevant to the debate over downtown historic preservation:

Most of the value of an individual parcel of real estate comes from beyond the property lines from the investments others � usually taxpayers � have made. And land use controls are an appropriate recompense for having publicly created that value.

Think about public investment in downtown Tulsa. Tulsa County taxpayers are investing over a quarter-billion dollars in downtown through Vision 2025. City of Tulsa taxpayers have invested tens or maybe hundreds of millions through bond issues and the third-penny -- building Main Mall, removing it, providing incentives to downtown residential development, acquiring land for the Williams Center through eminent domain, streetscaping, changing streets from one-way to two-way, etc. Then there's the federal and state investment in the highway network that connects downtown with the rest of the metro area.

The express purpose of much of that public investment is the revitalization of downtown. Many Tulsans want a downtown where historic buildings are protected, a downtown that is an attractive and interesting place to walk around, not a downtown that looks like the Woodland Hills Mall parking lot.

Every time a property owner knocks a building down for surface parking, it devalues that public investment. It is legitimate and reasonable for local government to protect that investment with modest regulations.

In my column in last week's issue of Urban Tulsa Weekly, I wrote about the many ways that Oklahoma City uses land-use regulation to protect strategic and historical parts of the city, such as the Northeast Gateway and Bricktown. Special districts have been established, with rules and processes specific to each. Bricktown and other older commercial districts, such as NW 23rd St., are under urban design review, which affects major exterior renovation, new construction, and demolition, to ensure consistency with the character of the neighborhood, protecting public investment and the investment of neighboring building owners.

A few years ago, the Urban Design Commission denied three applications to demolish the Gold Dome at 23rd and Classen, a geodesic dome originally built as a bank. The building is now being used for offices and a multicultural center to anchor the city's Asian District.

In 2002, I went on a Tulsa Now bus tour of Oklahoma City, and for part of the ride then-Mayor Kirk Humphreys was our tour guide. I asked him how they convinced developers to go along with restrictions on what they could do with their property. He said that the City pointed out how many millions of dollars the City had invested in that area (the canal, the ballpark, the Ford Center, and more), and that it was reasonable for the City to take steps to protect its investment.

Paul Wilson, one of the property owners who was quoted as complaining about the preservation recommendations in the Whirled's story, was a member of the Dialog/Visioning Leadership Team, the group that put together the Vision 2025 sales tax package. He and his business associates had been pushing for a new taxpayer-funded sports arena since the mid '90s. The last time I checked land records downtown, firms connected to Wilson owned a significant amount of land along Denver Avenue between Highway 51 and the arena site.

No one is proposing to take his land away from him, but now that the City has given him so much of what he asked for, and has significantly improved the value of his investments, it is reasonable for the city to insist that he act in a way that upholds the value of the taxpayers' investment.

There ain't no such thing as a free lunch.

CORE Tulsa, a group of Tulsa Preservation Commission staffers and volunteers, did a study on how to keep more of downtown from turning into surface parking lots. According to the Tulsa Whirled, these were the report's recommendations:

  • For the city to conduct a comprehensive review of all downtown buildings with analysis of the impact of demolition and identification of buildings that should be redeveloped and those at risk for loss.
  • For the city and the Tulsa Parking Authority to put new policies into action to move ahead of demand for structured parking and to discourage surface parking by all means possible.
  • For the city and other entities to make downtown preservation an integral component of Tulsa's comprehensive plan, which is being updated.
  • For the city to step up the creation and promotion of incentives for redeveloping existing properties and new development, along with downtown residents.
  • For the city to create a demolition review panel, to be designated by the Preservation Commission, that could trigger a stay of 120 days to consider alternate uses for targeted structures.

This study has been a long time in coming. (I called for a City Hall-led summit on downtown parking and preservation when I first ran for Council in 1998.) Most major cities have some form of the recommendations in place.

You would hope that the development industry, especially those who have pushed the arena as a tool for downtown revitalization, would welcome this study. After all, Preservation Oklahoma named downtown Tulsa one of Oklahoma's most endangered historic places. And the National Preservation Conference is coming to town in just two years.

But no. The very idea of a delaying the demolition of a building for surface parking is enough to have these developers threatening to leave for the suburbs.

So these very mild and moderate recommendations are being held back for "further study." Mayor Taylor could show some leadership on this issue, but her aide Susan Neal is applauding the prospect of watering down the recommendations.

And I'll ask again, where are the civic leaders, the philanthropists, who will take the lead in preserving Tulsa's history?

Media bias note: The Whirled story mentions that the preservation study was inspired by the recent demolition of the Skelly Building, Froug's Department Store, and the Tulsa Auto Hotel. The story neglects to mention that the first two of those three were demolished by the Tulsa Whirled.


| | Comments (4)

Interesting story in today's Whirled about BOk and the loan to the Tulsa Industrial Authority (TIA) that the Tulsa Airports Improvements Trust (TAIT) guaranteed. The loan money was ultimately used to finance Great Plains Airlines, which went bust despite massive taxpayer subsidies. The FAA ruled that the plan to repay the loan in the event of a default -- raising passenger service fees to purchase a part of the land on which Air Force Plant No. 3 sits for a runway extension -- would be an illegal direct subsidy to an airline.

The Bank of Oklahoma is seeking to recoup from a national auditing firm more than $9 million in losses resulting from a loan it made for the now-defunct Great Plains Airline.

The bank sued PricewaterhouseCoopers LLC on Monday in Tulsa County District Court.

Its lawsuit claims that the firm presented financial statements that unfairly represented the "unrestricted" assets of the Tulsa Airports Improvement Trust, on which the bank relied in deciding to participate in the Great Plains loan.

So why didn't BOk go after PricewaterhouseCoopers LLC in the first place? Why did they demand that the City of Tulsa repay the money when some other organization was responsible for the bad loan? (The whole deal was designed so that the City itself -- the general fund that pays police officers and firefighters and other city employees -- would not have any exposure in the event that the airline failed.)

Back when former Mayor Bill LaFortune was trying to get the City Council to agree to repay the loan, I heard a theory about the situation that made sense to me.

Here is the theory, which is speculation based on this person's observations of public behavior and his knowledge of bank loans: BOk made the loan knowing that it wasn't properly secured, but with an unofficial assurance from then-Mayor Susan Savage that the City of Tulsa would make good if anything went wrong, an assurance that she was not in a legal position to make. It would have been a political promise: If it comes to that, we can get the Council to agree to cut BOk a check. To make such a loan without valid collateral would have been in violation of FIRREA, the 1989 lending reform law that was enacted in response to the Savings & Loan crisis, but as long as the loan was repaid no one would notice. No harm, no foul. When the loan went into default, BOk was frantic to get its money back to prevent the possibility of FIRREA enforcement.

That's the theory. FIRREA was created to hold bankers responsible for how they handle federally-guaranteed deposits. In the '80s, S&Ls made all sorts of risky loans safe in the knowledge that if the loans went bad, the FSLIC would take care of depositors. As I understand it, if a banker authorizes a loan without sufficient justification, and the loan goes bad, the bank can be penalized under FIRREA, as can individuals involved in making the loan -- bank CEOs and VPs, appraisers, attorneys, accountants.

Remember what would have happened if the City Council had authorized the payment to BOk for money the City of Tulsa did not owe: Individual city councilors would have been subject to liability under a qui tam action for essentially giving taxpayer money away. (E.g., if all my friends on the City Council voted to use city general fund money to pay off my minivan loan -- in recognition of my many services to the community -- they would be misusing public resources, and they ought to be removed from office.)

BOk has a reputation for being civic-minded, but it looks like BOk management's first inclination in response to this bad loan was to cover their own exposed posteriors by using the Mayor and the newspaper to pressure city councilors into dropping their own drawers.

Comments from those familiar with federal lending regulations would be especially welcomed.

My correspondent who attended the Jenks City Council meeting also said that this item was on the agenda: "Request to approve Resolution No. 427 approving and adopting the second amended agreement creating the Indian Nations Council of Governments, providing for membership for the Cherokee, Creek and Osage Indian Nations."

When the agenda item came up, Councilor Vic Vreeland said that the tribes are spending so much money in the area they should have a seat at the table. Despite the name, the Indian Nations Council of Governments (INCOG) is actually a regional council of city and county governments, created in response to the federal requirement for regional planning as a condition for federal transportation funding.

While I wouldn't reject the idea out of hand, the tribes, which are organized and governed directly under the federal law, are a different class of entity than cities and counties, which are creatures of the Oklahoma constitution and statutes. If anything, INCOG could be a focal point for cities and counties to lobby Congress about problems arising from tribal sovereignty laws.

It may surprise you to learn, as it surprised me, that most of the powers and rights that tribal governments have are not built into the treaties they signed with the United States, but are matters of federal law, laws that can be changed. Tribal commercial activities can have a significant effect on land use regulation (they're exempted from zoning), transportation planning, crime (the impact of casinos, cross-deputization issues), and sales tax revenues, an impact that will only grow as the tribes grow wealthier and take more land into trust. INCOG could be a forum for cities and counties to coordinate their response to these challenges.

Condemning TU

| | TrackBacks (0)

This week's UTW column is about the University of Tulsa's aggressive expansion policies, facilitated by the City of Tulsa's abuse of eminent domain on TU's behalf. Not only is it an immoral use of state coercion, it's a violation of the Oklahoma Constitution and bad urban design. I point to the Savannah College of Art and Design as a better example of how to build an urban campus that enhances both the city and the college experience, "the kind of imaginative win-win solution that never seems to occur to Tulsa’s leaders."

An edited version of this piece was published in the August 9, 2006, issue of Urban Tulsa Weekly. The edited, published version of the piece is online in the Internet Archive. Posted on the web April 28, 2013.

Condemning TU
By Michael D. Bates

Usually it's the daily paper's editorial page that gets my dander up, but it was an article about the University of Tulsa's campus expansion in last week's edition of this paper that nearly had steam coming out of my ears.

It wasn't the way the story was reported, written or edited - Ginger Shepherd did a fine job - but the arrogance of TU's officials as this private institution uses the threat of government force to property owners to sell their land to TU.

2005's U. S. Supreme Court decision in the Kelo v. City of New London case drew national attention to the government's power of eminent domain - the ability to condemn property, forcing someone to sell their land to the government. But that wrongly-decided case didn't open the door to the abuse of this public power for private benefit. The City of Tulsa has been blighting and then condemning property on TU's behalf for decades.

TU's latest blitzkrieg is to the south, to create a grand entrance on 11th Street. Never mind that TU is already very visible on 11th, thanks to Skelly Stadium and the Reynolds Center. Never mind that TU already has a grand entrance on Delaware at 6th Street, with a grassy mall providing a dramatic view of the tower of McFarlin Library.

TU even had a chance to create a grand entrance on land it already owned. TU VP Kevan Buck told UTW that they kicked around building a main entrance next to the Reynolds Center on Harvard, but they didn't follow up on it at the time. Later, evidently, they changed their mind.

Most organizations would decide that they had their chance and missed it. They would make do with what they had, maybe use some signage and landscaping along Harvard south of Keplinger Hall to lead visitors into the heart of campus.

But if you're TU, you don't have to make do. Like Jezebel telling Ahab that she wanted Naboth's vineyard (see I Kings 21 for the first recorded use of eminent domain in history), TU just has to clear its institutional throat and the Tulsa Development Authority (TDA, the city's urban renewal trust) will step and fetch the land TU wants.

The City's willingness to condemn property for TU has allowed TU to be thoughtless about how they use the property they own. They have a half-mile of arterial frontage along Harvard. They have a quarter-mile of frontage along 11th.

Rather than building up - taller classroom buildings, parking structures - TU has sprawled outward. They don't have to worry about persuading a property owner to sell; the city will make the owner an offer he can't refuse.

Now, this is not a new story. TU and the TDA have been doing this little dance for decades, and this particular expansion has been in progress for a year or more - Starship Records was forced to move last year.

What got to me last week is the realization that the purpose of this grand entrance is purely for the sake of marketing TU. It won't improve the quality of the education, but it will impress the parents of prospective students.

On what planet is marketing a private college a legitimate public purpose justifying the use of eminent domain?

Would we use condemnation to improve a retail store's visibility? If Wal-Mart said to the City, that Macaroni Grill makes it hard for drivers on Memorial to see our new store, should the city force the Macaroni Grill to sell to Wal-Mart?

You say that's an unfair comparison - TU is a non-profit, a private university affiliated with the Presbyterian Church USA. All right - my church (also Presbyterian, but PCA) is on 51st Street east of Lewis. I'll bet it could attract more congregants if it could be seen by passing traffic on I-44. Should the City condemn land so that our church can acquire and demolish the apartment complex that stands in our way?

Of course not, and city officials would never do such a thing for my church, even if we asked nicely. TU can make it happen because they have some very powerful people on their board of directors, including Robert E. Lorton, chairman of World Publishing Co., and his wife Roxana.

But city officials shouldn't be doing it for TU anyway. It's a violation of the Oklahoma Constitution.

It's too late for Starship Records and Tapes, but I hope the owners of Metro Diner will take note of this May's Oklahoma Supreme Court ruling in Board of County Commissioners of Muskogee County v. Lowery. The Oklahoma court noted that the Oklahoma constitution has more stringent and specific requirements for the use of eminent domain than the U. S. Constitution.

According to the Institute for Justice, the Lowery case involved Muskogee County taking "an easement for water pipelines for a private electric generation plant." Surely there is even less constitutional warrant for taking a private business for the sake of an unobstructed view of a private institution.

TU apologists will argue that the university serves an important public role in Tulsa as an institution of higher learning. The City's assistance to TU may have been justified in the 1950s, when it was the only degree-granting institution in town, and many if not most TU students were Tulsa kids still living at home. Today Tulsa has a community college, four public colleges, a second private university, and extensions of a half-dozen other colleges which offer programs for non-traditional students.

And commuter students are no longer TU's target demographic. TU is trying to compete with other regional private colleges for affluent high school grads from other cities; they're not fighting with state schools over local yokels. Helping TU's marketing program isn't a valid use of government force.

No doubt someone will point to blight as a rationale for condemnation. But if anything, neighborhood blight has been created by TU's aggressive acquisitions and other public policies designed to aid TU. In the '60s, the area west of TU was blanket rezoned for multifamily dwellings, which encouraged developers to bulldoze craftsman-style homes and put up crummy little apartment buildings that could fit in a single house lot. Later, the constant threat of condemnation discouraged people from upgrading and maintaining their homes.

I remember, back in '79 or '80, walking to Roughnecks games through the neighborhood east of Skelly Stadium, where the Reynolds Center now stands. The homes there were attractive and well-maintained. The only way they could be considered blighted is under the overly broad definition of "blight" in our state statutes.

Because the Comprehensive Plan designated the area for TU expansion, the homes were "blighted" by virtue of not being in accordance with the Comprehensive Plan. No one's home or business is safe under that loophole, and the legislature needs to close it.

There is another, better way for a private university campus to co-exist with the surrounding city. The Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) has been in existence for just shy of 30 years, but they already have twice the enrollment of TU. (And that's despite charging more for tuition, too.)

Rather than create an enclave, isolated from the city, SCAD has restored and repurposed dozens of buildings throughout the historic district of Savannah - everything from the old 19th century Armory (now the admin building), to a 1960s Quality Inn (a dorm), to a block-long department store (the library), to two historic movie theaters (the drama department and the school auditorium). The integration of school and city has made the school a more attractive place for students and has made the city a livelier place for residents and tourists.

It was an approach born out of the founders' values, but also out of necessity. SCAD didn't have the money for new construction or the political clout for eminent domain, but it did have sweat equity and students and faculty with the skills to make an old building new again.

SCAD's approach is the kind of imaginative win-win solution that never seems to occur to Tulsa's leaders. It's said that creativity loves constraints, and TU hasn't had any constraints on its territorial ambitions, allowing it to take a ham-handed brute force approach. Perhaps a court challenge to the unconstitutional and immoral abuse of eminent domain that has fueled TU's expansion will help the university to take a more creative approach to campus building in the future.

Bridge Hi-Jenks

| | Comments (9)

The Jenks Journal has a story in its latest edition about the impact of the south Tulsa toll bridge as an issue in the House District 69 and Tulsa County Commission District 3 races. In the House 69 race, Chris Medlock opposes the bridge as proposed and has signed the South Tulsa Citizens' Coalition representation letter. His runoff opponent, developer Fred Jordan, did not sign the STCC representation letter. Accordingly, the STCC has endorsed Medlock for House 69:

Mr. Medlock is against the South Tulsa bridge as it is currently proposed and has signed one of STCCs representation letters. You can learn more about Mr. Medlocks campaign at

STCC does realize that the South Tulsa bridge issue is only one of many issues facing our city, county and state. However, given the candidates responses and to ensure that your voice continues to be heard with regard to the South Tulsa bridge issue, STCC encourages you to vote for... candidate Medlock in the Oklahoma House District 69 race.

[The elided text refers to the County Commission District 3 election. Click the link above to read the full text.]

Click here to see a screen capture of the STCC's endorsement of Medlock.

In the Jenks Journal, Medlock points out that despite Jordan's protestations, the legislature will be involved in the issues surrounding the proposed toll bridge. As an example, there was a bill before the legislature this year that would have required toll agreements with private companies and similar arrangements to be handled under the Oklahoma Competitive Bidding Act, to prevent insider deals like that between Infrastructure Ventures, Inc. (IVI) and Tulsa County. HB 2740 passed in the House and Senate by a large margin, but a parliamentary maneuver by Sen. Nancy Riley killed the deal.

Here's something I wrote before the primary about the range of issues that the Legislature could and should take up, in order to resolve some of the many legal questions surrounding this bridge scheme.

UPDATE: More hi-Jenks! I received a report from an STCC member who attended the Jenks City Council meeting earlier this week:

The 3 items that came up this evening where Jenks is relying on Tulsa are:

Water Supply: Jenks water pressure has been low recently and thinks the problem is Tulsas inadequacy at the Turkey Mountain Tank. They are trying to work towards having Tulsa upgrade the pumping system to solve their problem (Once again...Tulsa cost, Jenks benefit).

Centennial Celebration: Jenks anticipates Tulsa picking up the tab for the fireworks that will be shot off at the 96th street bridge in mid November for the celebration.

Public Transportation Service: Jenks contracts with Tulsa to provide bus service into Jenks. Service also includes handicap transportation needs.

It seems like time and time again the city of Jenks wants to take advantage of Tulsa....and we are just letting them.

Real regionalism is a two-way street, but Tulsa's suburbs seem to expect Tulsa to do all the work and carry all the costs while they reap the benefit, in the form of sales tax growth at Tulsa's expense.

(Unfortunately, Tulsa's previous mayor has made it possible for suburban officials to claim that they've given Tulsa what it wanted by backing the downtown arena as a part of Vision 2025. It may be what the people pressuring Bill LaFortune wanted, but it certainly isn't what Tulsa needed, and it won't offset sweetheart long-term water deals and the like.)

Sidewalk to nowhere?

| | Comments (5)

Last week, the Whirled had a story about one developer's refusal to comply with city sidewalk regulations. The developer is Chris Bumgarner, and he is going to court to fight the TMAPC's insistence that he build a sidewalk along the eastside of Utica Avenue in front of his new development, just south of Utica Square. He calls it a sidewalk to nowhere, ending at Cascia Hall's property line, and says it will encourage people to cross Utica to the neighborhood in mid-block.

His attorney is Lou Reynolds. Yes, the Lou Reynolds whose reappointment to the Tulsa Metropolitan Utility Board was first rejected by the City Council, then approved when then-Councilor Sam Roop reneged on a written pledge to oppose the appointment. (Roop was later appointed to a six-figure job in the Mayor's office.) The very Lou Reynolds whose controversial reappointment was cited as a reason for recalling Chris Medlock and Jim Mautino from office.

Here's what this prominent and influential land use attorney thinks about sidewalks:

Attorney Lou Reynolds said developers look at sidewalks as a waste of money and land.

"We don't have pedestrians because everyone in Tulsa has cars. You don't see people walking around and it's not because of the absence of sidewalks that they're not walking around. The fact is that Tulsa has such little density that you have to have a car to get around," he said....

Reynolds said the sidewalk policy is idealistic and not very practical.

"It's not perceived as necessary (by developers) because we've got along just fine without them for the past 50 to 60 years," he said. "To really use sidewalks you've got to have somewhere to go to."

And Utica Square is somewhere to go, designed to be friendly to both auto and pedestrian traffic. Just a bit north, is the medical corridor connecting St. John's and Hillcrest. Cherry Street is within walking distance, too. And a large number of bus routes converge on the 21st and Utica intersection.

What Reynolds is spouting is a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you design a city so that walking somewhere is impossible, citizens will become increasingly dependent on having a car and driving dozens of miles a day just to go about everyday business. Sidewalks aren't enough in themselves -- there need to be a mixture of uses within walking distance -- but without them we can't create a more walkable, sustainable city.

New frontier (part 2)

| | Comments (5)


As I said in the previous entry, this was our first ever visit to Oklahoma City's Frontier City theme park. It was just us guys, so we were going to ride as many rides as we wanted to, as often as we wanted to, without slowing down for anyone else. We ate before we went to the park, and it was hot enough (104, I think) that we weren't interested in eating during the day. We bought the big refillable drink cups and went through three fills each.

Because of the heat, the crowds were pretty thin, and we never had to wait in line for long. We rode the Wildcat (the wooden coaster) at least five times, the Silver Bullet (a steel coaster with a loop) three times, and the Prairie Schooner (like Pharoah's Fury at Bell's) at least six times. (My son rode it six times; I think I stopped at four.)

Neither of us are daredevils, but we both pushed our limits. Neither of us had been on a looped roller coaster before. The tallest and most noticeable ride in the park is Eruption, the slingshot ride that launches the six-person capsule 240 feet in the air. It's easy to spot from I-35. About mid-afternoon we had worked up the courage to try it, and we liked it so much that we did it again. It was a bit creepy to see ourselves rise above the tops of the supporting towers.

The park seemed shorthanded. A few rides were closed the entire day -- the train, the Terrible Twister, the Tomahawk. I overheard one ride operator say that they had closed several shops and food stands to try to keep as many rides open as possible. At another ride, I heard a couple of employees talking about the number of hours they'd worked the previous week: One was over 70, and the other was over 60. Despite that, everyone seemed to be polite and efficient.

We saw three shows. The gunfighters show had some impressive stunts and lots of silly humor. The World of Magic was excellent -- a real magic show with illusions involving swords, boxes, locked trunks, and attractive scantily-clad young women. There was a psychic segment, where the fakery was exaggerated to the point of being obvious. Good showmanship all around.

The third show -- Merlin's Magicademy -- was a waste of our time. It would have been helpful if the description had said, "Very small children will be delighted...." Despite the name, no genuine illusions (oxymoron?) were performed. It was all puppetry, lipsynched music, and some animatronic effects. I didn't even notice any little children actually being delighted with the performance, but it's hard to tell. Hot weather seems to make audiences less than responsive.

Most unexpectedly interesting ride: Casino, which looks like a roulette wheel that does some tilting and turning.

Most nauseating ride: As always, the Tilt-A-Whirl (known here as the Tornado) brings me closest to losing my lunch. The Rodeo Round-Up -- a kind of centrifuge -- was a close second.

Most relaxing ride: The ferris wheel.

Most boring ride: Treasure Mountain, the oldest ride in the park, would only be fun if you brought your own entertainment in the form of a date to make out with in the dark. A close second: The Swingin' Six Guns, a spinning swing ride, didn't spin fast enough to be fun. You could hardly feel the breeze.

Most interesting exhibit: In the waiting area for the Wildcat, there are photos and descriptions about the history of roller coasters, famous designers, and famous coasters. Wildcat was rescued from Kansas City's Fairyland amusement park.

Best ways to cool off: Renegade Rapids and the Mystery River log flume.

Rides we skipped: All the kiddie rides, the carousel, the Mindbender, the Hangman (a free-fall ride), the Diamondback, and the three that were closed.

Costs: We bought our tickets online and printed them at home, $26 each including tax, plus $3 "shipping", netting us about $7 total saved. Parking was $10. The refillable soda cups were $8 each, and $1 for each refill. We managed to steer clear of the games and the add-ons, except for the photo you see above, which was just too good to pass up as a memento of our day together.

My oldest son just turned ten, and to celebrate, I took him for an overnight trip to Oklahoma City.

Saturday morning, we drove most of the way down the old highway, 66, and part of the way down some very old highway. I got off the turnpike at Kellyville. Just west of the 66-33 junction you can see what's left of the native stone tourist cabins that Max Meyer built.

About seven miles east of Bristow, on a whim, I turned back on an older 66 alignment, which rejoined the main road from the southeast. Turned out that this was the dead end segment that has an impressive native stone tourist court -- a single building with multiple units. It's less than a mile from the main road.

As we drove my son was telling me all about the Pixar movie Cars and the old Route 66 town of Radiator Springs where most of the action takes place.

We stopped at the Rock Cafe in Stroud for a cold drink. The cafe's souvenir stand next door had an impressive array of merchandise from the movie Cars. My son picked up the issue of Route 66 Magazine that featured the movie (he pored over it while drinking his root beer at the cafe's counter), and I bought a guidebook to 66 in Oklahoma, showing all the alignments and the years they were part of the highway.

That book led us to an old '20s alignment which had originally been part of the Ozark Trail, a named auto route that predated the U. S. numbered highway system. There's a tall obelisk (20 feet perhaps?) a few miles west of Stroud; apparently it had been a marker for the route.

We drove down Davenport's brick Broadway, got turned around trying to get back to the main road, and found ourselves going through an interesting arch railway viaduct southwest of town.

In Arcadia we stopped at the Round Barn. I remember visiting when renovation was barely started back in 1990. The loft, which has amazing acoustics, is used for dances and other events, as it was back in the day. Downstairs is a museum about the Round Barn and the town of Arcadia. Butch, the curator, is a local native, and has posted birds' eye view sketches of the town as he remembers it from his childhood.

One of Butch's displays is from the diary of the original barn owner, about a trip in the 'teens from Arcadia to California. It took three hours to get as far as Oklahoma City. It took from Thursday morning to Monday night to make it to Amarillo, with occasional stops to pull the car out of a mud hole or to wait for a ferry.

In Oklahoma City, we headed for the 45th Infantry Museum. The Thunderbirds have an illustrious history, fighting their way from Sicily to Munich during WW II and on Pork Chop Hill and Heartbreak
Ridge in the Korean Conflict. My son has been reading a lot of books about World War II lately, and he drank it all in. A highlight of the museum is the collection of over 200 "Willie and Joe" cartoons from the war which Bill Mauldin donated to this museum dedicated to his old outfit. It was the 45th that liberated Dachau Concentration Camp, and there is a special exhibit about the horrors they found when they entered.

Outside there are land and air vehicles from WW II and Korea on display. We spent over two hours at the museum and didn't have time to explore the place fully.

We went to Bricktown. I gave my son a choice between a movie and a ballgame, and given the temperature at the time, he opted for a movie. We got a bite at the Bricktown Sonic, then saw Monster House, a Dreamworks SKG computer animation done using the same methods that were used to such impressive effect in The Polar Express. Monster House has its scary and thrilling moments, deserving of its PG rating. My son really enjoyed it, and I have to say that it kept my attention, too.

Today we went to Frontier City, after a hearty breakfast (him) / lunch (me) at Cracker Barrel. Despite driving past it for nearly four decades, I had never been to Frontier City. We had a great time. Great thrill rides, a terrific magic show, and bumper cars that I was allowed to ride. I'll save details for another entry.

We had planned to stay 'til closing, but my son wanted to eat at the Rock Cafe on the way back to Tulsa, so we left early enough to make it there by 8:20. He had nachos, I had a guacamole burger -- both quite good. He was amused by the glass bottle that his Coke came in. "Where can you get these?"

We were home at ten, about 36 hours after we left, both exhausted and hot. (My car's AC stopped working, and I hadn't had time to get it fixed.)

Desi Wok, family-style

| | Comments (4)

Wednesday night it was just my wife, the baby, and I -- big brother was at choir camp, big sister was staying with Grandma -- so we decided to try dinner at Desi Wok, the Indian/Chinese restaurant on Hudson just north of 41st.

The food was very good. We had the chicken tikka masala and the shrimp Thai pepper stir fry.

The service was friendly, too. The baby got restless after a while in his high chair, so I took him out and tried to hold him on my lap while I continued eating while not letting him within grabbing reach of my plate. One of the waitress/order-takers, who had been flirting with him earlier, asked if she could hold him for a while. We said sure, and for the next 10 minutes or so, she or one of her coworkers held him behind the cash register. It was like being at a big family dinner and a cousin offers to hold the baby while you finish eating.

We wouldn't ordinarily pass our baby off to a stranger, but we were at the nearest table to the register, so I could (and did) keep a close eye, and there were enough people around that there would have been plenty of witnesses if anything bad had happened. And I think we felt more comfortable because it seemed to be a restaurant that, like a number of Asian places around town, was owned and operated by an extended family. At this sort of restaurant, it's not unusual to see aunts and cousins, older folks and small children around the restaurant, sometimes helping, sometimes just visiting.

Friendly place, good food, reasonable prices, and, as far as I know, the only place you can get Indian food around town without going to south Tulsa.

State Sen. Nancy Riley, who represents District 37, announced yesterday that she is leaving the Republican Party and becoming a Democrat. Her stated reasons, according to the Daily Oklahoman:

Riley, who finished third in the Republican primary for lieutenant governor but received enough votes to force a runoff election, said she received little respect from the Senate Republican Caucus and felt her concerns about the party were met with a "pat on the head." ...

She said she received no support from the party during her campaign for lieutenant governor. She was not invited to a debate of Republican candidates for lieutenant governor, she said.

In 1988, I was living in Brookside, which was then in SD 37. The State Senate seat was open -- David Riggs was stepping down -- and no Republican had announced. I actually considered filing, but was I relieved to learn that a former pastor and insurance broker named Jerry Riley had decided to enter the race. I called him and volunteered my help, and he named me the precinct coordinator. I knocked doors for Jerry in Maple Ridge, in Brookside, and on the west side.

It was during that campaign that I got to know Nancy. Nancy and Jerry had just been married a couple of years -- the second marriage for both of them. Nancy had been widowed at a young age. At the time of the campaign, she was not even 30. Jerry ran a good race, but lost to Democrat Lewis Long of Glenpool.

The Rileys and I had limited contact over the next few years -- although I remember visiting their church, then Sandusky Ave. Christian Church in '89 or '90 when my wife and I were looking for a new church home. (Doctrinal differences aside, I couldn't forgive that church for tearing down the Will Rogers Theater for a parking lot.)

In 2000 Nancy Riley decided to run for the same seat against Lewis Long, still firmly ensconced in what was still a majority Democrat seat, although it was swinging to the GOP. (Long had won re-election against Tim Plinsky in 1996 with 54% of the vote.) Jerry managed the campaign. I was happy to be a part of the campaign team. Despite Long's incumbency and deep pockets, Nancy won by 265 votes. After district lines were redrawn, she won re-election in 2004 with 65% of the vote.

In 2002, I hired Jerry to be campaign manager for my second run for City Council. He did a great job, and we got very close, but lost by 700 votes. Nancy helped stamp a last minute mailer, and she knocked doors for me in the area around Hoover Elementary School, where she had been a teacher.

All that history is to explain why Nancy's decision to leave the Republican Party saddens and surprises me for more than merely partisan political reasons.

Still, the political implications can't be ignored. Nancy's defection means the Senate is split 26-22 in the Democrats' favor, undoing the Republican gain in the southwest Oklahoma special election earlier this year. This raises the bar for a Republican takeover, which would be the first time in state history for the GOP to control the Senate and to hold one of the most powerful offices in the state: Senate President Pro Tempore. Nancy's defection makes it more likely that key committees will continue to be controlled by liberal Democratic committee chairman. In the most recent legislature, key leaders and committee heads like Cal Hobson and Bernest Cain were well to the left of even most Democratic legislators and they blocked conservative and moderate legislation that had majority support in both houses. If the Ds keep their hold on the Senate, we can expect more of the same.

It's usual in situations like this that the potential defector is offered a committee chairmanship or some other plum as an inducement to convert. Both parties have done this, especially when gaining or losing a majority is at stake.

Nancy's reasons for switching seem petty and prideful to me, and that's a side of her I hadn't seen before. She seems to think that just because she was female and Republican, female Republican activists owed her their support in her race for Lt. Governor. That's not the way it works. A politician doesn't even have the right to presume that those who backed her for a lower office will support her when she seeks to move up the ladder.

In seeking to be the Republican nominee for Lt. Governor, Nancy Riley put herself up against two formidable, credible opponents. It was her job to persuade individual Republican volunteers and donors to help her make phone calls and raise money. These people are not owned by a party organization, and the party can't parcel them out to ensure that every candidate gets a fair share. If she failed to persuade these grassroots volunteers to help her, she has only herself to blame.

One more thing that surprised me was Nancy's description of herself as a moderate. I had always assumed she was conservative, but now that I look back at her campaign website, I notice that the word isn't present. If she was known not to be a conservative, it's no wonder that Republican activists weren't enthusiastic about helping her, as most of the ones I know get the greatest motivation in helping principled and consistent conservative candidates like Tom Coburn.

The Daily Oklahoman mentioned one issue-based reason for Riley's conversion:

She said there is a movement in the Republican Party to undermine public education with such things as blaming teachers for school problems and pushing for charter schools and vouchers.

I don't hear a lot of blaming of teachers from Republican critics of public education. Most of the blame goes to the curriculum experts, the teacher training process, and the school administrators.

I do hear talk about offering parents real choice in education (and there needs to be less talk and more action). For Riley to complain about charter schools and vouchers means she's more interested in protecting school administrative bureaucracies and less interested in meeting the needs of the students.

Regarding her complaint about debates: She was a full participant in the only Lt. Governor's debate I saw, the one sponsored by the Tulsa County Republican Men's Club.

The Oklahoman item quotes Senate Democratic Leader Mike Morgan as saying Riley approached him in June about switching. So she was campaigning for the Republican nomination for Lt. Governor under false pretenses. At the very least, she should have suspended her campaign.

And she owes her constituents an apology as well. She can't know how many of them voted for her in 2004 because she was the Republican nominee and how many voted for her regardless of party. The honorable thing to do would be to follow Phil Gramm's example:

In 1978 and 1980, he had been elected as a Democrat to Congress. In 1981, he decided to change parties, so he resigned his seat, then ran as a Republican in the special election, letting the people decide whether they wanted him back in Congress as a member of the GOP caucus.

Phil Gramm didn't have to take that step, but it was the honest thing to do. Nancy Riley should give the voters of south and west Tulsa County the right to decide whether they want her back as a Democrat more than they want to help the Republicans win the State Senate.

It's not God's party

| | Comments (2)

The terrorist organization that has been in the news for its attacks on Israeli civilians and for using Lebanese civilians as human shields is called Hezbollah, sometimes spelled Hizballah, sometimes there's an apostrophe -- Hizb'allah. It's Arabic for "Party of God."

My friend Redsneakz has decided that Hizb'shaitan is a more accurate title. (You can decode that, can't you?) I agree and intend to follow his example.

Although, given their devotion of sacrificing their own children and the children of others in the name of their false god, Hezb'moloch would be appropriate, too.

My MySpace


My last name is one of the 250 most common in the United States, according to the Census Bureau.

My first name was the number one boy's name in America throughout the 1960s and into the 1970s, and it remains a popular name to this day, not only in the US, but throughout the English-speaking world.

So I'm not shocked that there are 182 MySpace profiles that match the name "Michael Bates."

For the record, this one is mine; none of the others are. Accept no substitutes.

I don't intend to do much with it. (Although I do have a great Bob Wills song you can listen to. "Three Guitar Special" -- "Here's them three boys: Eldon! Herbie! Tiny!") I signed up partly because you have to if you want to fully explore the site. Now that I've read about a blogger who appears to be the victim of MySpace identity theft -- someone using her name and photos from her website to make it look like she set up a profile -- I'm glad I have staked out my claim on MySpace.

Thinking about it, if you have a presence on the web or are a public figure at all, it's probably a good idea to claim a profile on MySpace and make it unmistakably yours. It's easier to say "that ain't me" when you can point to another profile and say "because this is me over yonder."

A version of this column was published on August 2, 2006, in the August 3-10, 2006, issue of Urban Tulsa Weekly under the headline, "Intelligent Design." Below is the column as originally submitted. The as-published version of the story is available on the Internet Archive. Submitted version posted on BatesLine on March 29, 2016.

Making the most of Tulsa's unique places
By Michael D. Bates

So I was changing my baby boy's diaper in the men's room of the Johnny Carino's at 98th and Riverside - they have those nice changing surfaces that pull down from the wall - and I was thinking: "If they just had a window here in the men's room, I'd have a lovely view of the Arkansas River and the Oklahoma Aquarium."

The diners at Johnny Carino's don't have that lovely view. The building is a franchise-standard, cookie-cutter design, oriented toward the street, and what windows there are face the parking lot and Riverside Drive.

For all the talk of development along the river and in light of the standard that has been set by Riverwalk Crossing in Jenks, it's hard to understand why all the development to date on the Tulsa side turns its back to the river. Here we are, poised to spend millions on low-water dams, and for what? So that the Kum-n-Go dumpster and the Red Robin grease pit can have spectacular views of the water?

Even the greatly anticipated Kings Landing is oriented away from the river. Just a couple of the spaces appear to have windows (and small ones at that) facing the Arkansas.

I had hoped that private developers would have the imagination to see and exploit the unique opportunities presented by riverfront property. My guess is that the financing and construction process, with the focus on reducing risk to the investors, is enough to quench anything imaginative.

As much as possible, we ought to leave it to the free market to decide the best use for a piece of land. But there are certain places which, by virtue of some natural feature (e.g., a river) or publicly-funded facility (e.g., a freeway, an arena), offer unique opportunities for a city's growth, quality of life, tourist appeal, and economic development.

Many cities have concluded that the only way to make the most of their unique places is to establish special design requirements and a design review process for nearby developments.

Oklahoma City has done this for its river, establishing a "scenic river overlay" zone that follows the path of the Oklahoma River (nee North Canadian) through the city. New developments are scrutinized for compliance with the city's String of Pearls Master Plan, helping to ensure that OKC taxpayers get what the kind of riverfront experience they hoped for when they approved funding for low-water dams.

The river isn't the only special place that Oklahoma City protects through special regulation. In Bricktown, new construction and exterior modifications must be approved by the Bricktown Urban Design Committee, using guidelines designed to maintain consistency with the historic brick warehouses that give the district its name. The design review process protects both the massive public investment in the area.

They aren't making any more Main Streets, so a similar design review process is in place for Oklahoma City's pedestrian-oriented shopping streets, in recognition of the way places like NW 23rd and Capitol Hill add to the appeal of city living.

Southwest of downtown, Stockyards City is an authentic remnant of Oklahoma City's history as a cowtown, and there are special zoning regulations that apply to the commercial district and its main approaches.

Oklahoma City has also made it a priority to protect one of its front doors. I-44 & I-35 funnel traffic in from Wichita, Kansas City and points north, and Tulsa, St. Louis, Chicago, the Great Lakes region, and the northeastern U. S., heading to Texas or Southern California.

The area just south and west of where the two roads divide has a high concentration of tourist attractions - the Oklahoma City Zoo, the Omniplex, Remington Park, the National Cowboy Hall of Fame, the National Softball Hall of Fame, and the National Firefighters Hall of Fame.

In 1981 - 25 years ago - Oklahoma City recognized the importance of this area by designating it the Northeast Gateway Urban Conservation District. The purpose of the district, as designated by ordinance, is "to ensure continued conservation of aesthetic appeal within a unique area; to encourage quality development; and to recognize the unique quality and character of the Northeast Gateway."

In the Northeast Gateway district, building facades must be of stone, masonry, glass or wood. Metal buildings aren't allowed to front onto public streets. There are special requirements for landscaping, screening, street setback, building height, and noise. Heavy equipment repair, truckstops, outdoor swap meets, and sewage treatment plants are prohibited. These extra requirements are designed to help the city make a good first impression.

Tulsa's leaders haven't been as foresighted in protecting our special places.

Here's one example: We've allowed our own northeast gateway, the heavily-traveled stretch where I-44, US 412, and State Highway 66 join together, to develop in an ugly way. Instead being lined with places for tourists to spend money and generate sales tax, this corridor is filling up with industrial uses, auto auctions, and truck storage.

The area has developed in this way partly because, 40 years after Tulsa annexed the area, the city still hasn't provided the infrastructure needed for more profitable uses. The lack of city sewer is a particular hindrance.

To the south of this corridor are some of the largest blocks of undeveloped land remaining within the city limits. Historic Route 66 is just a mile to the south.

Tulsa needs to be smart about how this region develops. And while we can't do anything about what's already there, city officials can make planning decisions that will begin to turn the area around.

Last Thursday the City Council approved a zoning change that is a step in the wrong direction. Some property in this corridor, near 145th East Ave and Admiral, was rezoned industrial. I'm told that the rezoning will make it harder for neighboring property owners to develop their land as anything but industrial.

Some of those nearby parcels were potential sites for residential development. Just within the last month, a sewer line was completed to the area which would make residential development feasible, but it is unlikely to happen if industrial development springs up nearby. The industrial rezoning could also hinder retail development at 129th East Ave and I-44, a site identified as a prime retail location.

Tulsa needs a comprehensive plan that reflects the importance of this and other strategic areas, and we need ordinances that help us put the plan into action.

Oklahoma City's zoning overlays may not be the best approach - they're really an attempt to superimpose the form-based planning approach onto an outdated use-based system - but OKC's example gives Tulsa a place to start.

Tulsa only has so much highway frontage, so much open space, so much riverfront. They aren't making any more of the stuff (to paraphrase Will Rogers), so we need to make the most of what we have.

In 1983, after my sophomore year in college, I went on a summer missions project to the Philippines with Campus Crusade for Christ. I spent two months living in Quezon City and working alongside staffers at Far Eastern University in Manila, evangelizing students with the Four Spiritual Laws and helping to train the students involved in the CCC chapter there.

The project involved about 25 American staff and students, who were split up in teams between Metro Manila, Baguio City, Iloilo, and Cebu. I spent all but a few days in Metro Manila; our team took an R&R break in Baguio City and Bauang, on the South China Sea in La Union province.

The project director was Greg Ganssle. Greg was campus director at Marshall then; he went on to get a Ph.D. in Philosophy and is now involved in something called the Rivendell Institute. I met Greg the previous summer, when he was assistant director of the 1982 Ocean City, New Jersey, summer project. I didn't see much of Greg that summer -- he spent it in Iloilo.

Instead our assigned male staffer was Jon Rittenhouse, then campus director at Michigan Tech. Years later, Jon became the inspiration for a comic strip character. (He was much tamer, although rather uptight, in 1983.) My fellow students were John Parker "Beach" Ward (Marshall), Eric Christiansen, Mary Jane Carlson, and Christina West (Miami of Ohio). There were two staff women from the states assigned to Manila: Norma Valencia from CCC headquarters and Sara (whose last name I forget). Beach Ward and I kept each other sane and laughing that summer.

Some time ago I scanned in some of the slides I took in the Philippines. Tonight I posted them on Flickr, mainly for the benefit of my friend Jenny, who was a psychology student at FEU in 1983. She found me again a couple of years ago, courtesy Google, and she keeps me up to date on Filipino political intrigue. (Helps to keep the Tulsa situation in perspective.)

As a whole, the photos aren't all that representative of the summer; the set is weighted heavily toward special events, like an R&R trip to Baguio City in the mountains, but there are some photos of staff and students at FEU and of the house where we stayed and the Crusade staff trainees that we shared it with.

Click the coconut warning sign below to see the photo set.

(And yes, I'm aware that the pictures are horribly underexposed.)

You scored as Reformed Evangelical. You are a Reformed Evangelical. You take the Bible very seriously because it is God's Word. You most likely hold to TULIP and are sceptical about the possibilities of universal atonement or resistible grace. The most important thing the Church can do is make sure people hear how they can go to heaven when they die.

Reformed Evangelical


Neo orthodox


Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan






Roman Catholic




Classical Liberal


Modern Liberal


What's your theological worldview?
created with

(Via Manasclerk, whose blog is fascinating reading that will challenge your mind and heart.)

Got an e-mail today from Shane Hood, who owns the neon sign for Huey's Shoes, one of the shops in the old Mayo Meadow Shopping Center (1955-2005). He sent me a photo and had this to say:

The Hueys shoe sign isnt completely out yet. I light it up every once in while in my backyard. I bought it form the owner of the Mayo Meadow land and we salvaged it before the center was demolished. I rewired the half of the sign that still worked. I also have the sign that was attached to the soffit over the sidewalk in front of the store.


I'm happy that the sign has found a good home. Mayo Meadow was home to some wonderful neon: the Argie Lewis Flowers sign (which you can see at their new location on 41st east of Sheridan), and the shopping center sign itself. It would have been nice if the new Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market would have incorporated mid-20th-century elements in the store rising on the Mayo Meadow site. (Click the small image to see the sign in all it's 2000x1500-pixel glory.)

In the race to replace Judge David Peterson, candidate David Blades chose not to seek a recount. He finished third of three-candidates by only 51 votes out of 11,000 cast. Collinsville Municipal Judge Jim Caputo finished second, making the runoff with Special District Judge Daman Cantrell. Because this is a non-partisan race, the "runoff" will be at the November general election. This is also one of five district judgeships elected by a portion of Tulsa County -- the electoral division for this seat covers the north Tulsa County suburbs and the City of Tulsa roughly east of Sheridan.

There will be a recount in the Republican primary for House District 6, an open seat that covers Craig County and parts of Mayes and Rogers Counties. Wayland Smalley, the Republican nominee for the 2nd Congressional District in 2004, won his primary by five votes out of about 1,500 cast. Whoever prevails will have an uphill battle -- 4,700 Democrats voted in their primary for the seat.

Oklahoma has a history of voting for candidates with famous names, but I doubt that Owasso and Catoosa Democrats had Ché in mind when they voted for Wayne Guevara, who finished first in the Democratic House District 74 primary. Guevara is an Owasso City Councilor, works for the Palmer Drug Abuse Program, and is a paralegal specialist with the National Guard. The Owasso Reporter reports that Guevara will be out of the state for the runoff with Carl Weston of Catoosa; he's being deployed for three weeks with his National Guard unit to New Mexico.

There were a number of primary races where the outcome might have been different if Instant Runoff Voting were in use. Oklahoma's runoff system, rematching the top two candidates if no one gets a majority, works well with only three candidates, but it can break down when there are four or more candidates. If the fourth- or fifth-place candidate hadn't been in the race, it might have changed the order of finish between the first three candidates, and a different pair of candidates would have made the runoff. The 1991 Louisiana governor's race is a classic example of the problem -- incumbent Buddy Roemer might have made the runoff instead of ex-Klansman David Duke or ex-con Edwin Edwards.

Ideally, you'd have a series of runoffs, each round eliminating one candidate until a candidate has a majority of the vote. IRV does that with a single election, by having voters rank the candidates in order of preference, rather than mark a single candidate.

Instant Runoff Voting might have produced a different result in Democratic primaries for Lt. Governor, House District 15, and DA District 17. The primary for House 99 had five candidates and will be going to an August runoff, but IRV wouldn't have changed the outcome, because the combined votes of the third-, fourth-, and fifth-place candidates were less than the second-place candidate.

On the Republican side, the race most likely to have been affected by IRV was in House District 41, where only 101 votes separated the second- and third-place finishers, and fourth and fifth place had 700 votes between them. Theoretically, IRV might have changed the result in the race for the 5th Congressional District and in House District 69, but in both cases there was a much bigger gap between second and third places.

Three judicial races might have had a different outcome with IRV, Judicial District 14 Office 10 (the six-candidate Tulsa County race to replace Gregory Frizzell), and the elections for Associate District Judge in McClain and Choctaw Counties.

An advantage of IRV is that you don't have to have a separate runoff election. The disadvantage of IRV to a candidate is that you wouldn't get that extra month to make your case to the voters, who would no longer be distracted by the large number of candidates in your race and the large number of races on the ballot.

Castro death watch

| | Comments (2)

It is reported that Fidel Castro has "temporarily" stepped aside as misleader of Cuba because of health problems.

Babalu Blog is the place to be to follow Castro's demise and the succession as it unfolds.

About this Archive

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

July 2006 is the previous archive.

September 2006 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.



Subscribe to feed Subscribe to this blog's feed:
[What is this?]