October 2006 Archives


Following in former City Councilor Randy Sullivan's footsteps, Oklahoma State Sen. Mary Easley, a Democrat representing District 18 , which stretches from east Tulsa to the western shores of Grand Lake (PDF map), no longer lives in her district. She lives in District 34, represented in the State Senate by Randy Brogdon. Senate Republican leader Glenn Coffee issued the following press release today:


OWASSO - State Senator Mary Easley no longer lives in her Senate District and now resides at 19009 Knightsbridge in Owasso, which is located in Senate District 34.

Senate Republican Leader Glenn Coffee said Easley is skirting state election laws by living in another Senate district while running for reelection in District 18.

"Mary Easley now resides at an Owasso address in Senate District 34. She is clearly skirting state election laws by living at her new address while running for office and voting using an old address," Coffee said.

Coffee said State Senator Randy Brogdon, who represents Owasso in the Oklahoma Senate, has sighted Easley on numerous occasions while he has campaigned in Owasso this year.

"Senator Brogdon was understandably surprised to learn that Mary Easley is now one of his constiuents," said Coffee.

State law requires legislative candidates to reside in the districts in which they run for office. But Easley and her husband now live at their Owasso home, even though Easley is running for reelection using an old address in east Tulsa.

"Mary Easley has left her district behind. How can she represent the people of District 18 when she doesn't even want to live there?" Coffee stated.



Southwestern Bell Yellow-Pages
Rogers County Property Taxes

The funny thing about this is that the existing district lines were drawn in 2001 to the specifications of Mary Easley and her son Kevin Easley, whom she succeeded as State Senator. Mary had represented House District 78 since 1996, and with Kevin approaching term limits, Mary had the HD 78 lines redrawn to overlap SD 18, to allow her to replace him. Surely she could have had the lines for SD 18 drawn to include the location of her dream home in Owasso, too.

There is a state law (51 O. S. 8) that causes a seat to become vacant if an elected official moves out of the district that elected her. It isn't clear who has the power to make that determination.

But the voters of SD 18 could make that determination themselves, and deny Mary Easley another term in office.

(The campaign flyer scan you see above was found at oksenatedemocrats.com, which has scans of all the mail pieces that both campaigns have sent out, flavored with Democratic spin, of course. Very interesting if you like the nuts and bolts of campaigns.)

Here are links to the websites for candidates for District Judge and Associate District Judge on the ballot in Tulsa County.

(Added on November 4: Party registration, as of the date of filing. Although judicial races are non-partisan, voter registration is a matter of public record, and I believe the public has a right to know it, as one more piece of information to weigh. At a national level, Republicans and Democrats have different ideological approaches to the role of the judiciary, and party registration may be an indication of a judge's ideology.)

Office 1 (elected from Tulsa and Pawnee Counties, replacing retiring Judge Ronald Shaffer):

Cliff Smith (D)
Bill Kellough (D)

Office 4 (elected from electoral district 4 in Tulsa County, replacing retiring Judge David Peterson):

Jim Caputo (R)
Daman Cantrell (D)

Office 8 (elected from electoral district 5 in Tulsa County; Thornbrugh is the incumbent):

Tom Thornbrugh (R)
Gregg Graves (D)

Office 10 (elected from Tulsa and Pawnee Counties, replacing Judge Gregory Frizzell, who has been nominated to be a Federal judge):

Deirdre Dexter (R)
Mary Fitzgerald (R)

Office 13 (elected from Tulsa and Pawnee Counties; Shallcross is the incumbent):

Jonathan Sutton (R)
Deborah Shallcross (D) (warning: obnoxious Flash video and sound plays automatically)

Tulsa County Associate District Judge (Wall is the incumbent):

Dana Kuehn (R)
Caroline Wall (R)

And here's my attempt at explaining the various ways we elect the 14 District Judges that serve Tulsa and Pawnee Counties.

Tiny Tim sings his signature tune on Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In in 1968, as Dick Martin looks on in awe, or something like it:

By the way, that was Judy Carnes taking away Tiny Tim's cape at the beginning of the clip, and Goldie Hawn walking off with him at the end.

Laugh-In was my favorite prime-time show back then. Although much of the humor sailed over my five-year-old head, it was my introduction to both topical satire and zany madcap humor, which developed into an appreciation for Mad magazine, Monty Python's Flying Circus, Saturday Night Live, and the comic strip Pogo.

(Via Dawn Eden, who says she is "determined to make the most of YouTube's vintage treasures before the inevitable copyright crackdown." If you ever want to save a video from YouTube or another video-sharing service for posterity, KeepVid takes the video's URL and turns it into a link for downloading the Flash video (.flv). [There are ways to do this manually if you have the patience to wade through HTML source code.] The very versatile open-source viewer VideoLAN has built-in Flash video playback capability and is available for Windows, Mac OS X, and various flavors of Linux.)

RELATED: tvhistory.tv has scans of the prime-time schedule grids for the 1960s (back when all the networks premiered shows in the fall and mid-season changes were unusual).

This page, on the website of the Tulsa County Democratic Party's website, features endorsements by individual Democrats -- elected officials, former candidates, party officials, and other activists -- of candidates for District Judge. I'm not aware of an equivalent page featuring Republican opinions, although you will find lists of endorsers on most of the judicial candidate websites.

There is this disclaimer at the top of the page:

The following are endorsements for judicial candidates in Tulsa County by Democrats registered in Tulsa County. Judicial candidates stand for election on a non-partisan basis. Party affiliation should not be a factor in these races. We have included the endorsements for those who are not familiar with the judicial candidates, so you can learn about them by reading the opinions of Democrats that you do know. The Tulsa County Democratic Party is not endorsing any of the following candidates.

In several races, there are endorsers for both candidates, and it's interesting to read the reasons given for supporting a candidate. Most candidates seem to get bipartisan support, so if you're a conservative Republican like me, don't assume that a judicial candidate backed by a liberal Democrat would be unacceptable to you.

Lest you think Tulsa Mayor Kathy Taylor's attendance at a New York City conference of pro-gun-control mayors was an aberration, the McCarville Report finds a news story that puts Taylor at yet another meeting of the group, this time in Chicago, and now the group has a name:

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley and Milwaukee Mayor Thomas Barrett had harsh words Wednesday for the Bush administration and the gun lobby's influence on Congress.

"When Washington makes bad decisions to protect criminals rather than the public, we suffer the consequences," Bloomberg said at a news conference outlining the agenda for Thursday's Midwestern summit of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a group Bloomberg founded with Boston Mayor Thomas Menino....

Daley, Bloomberg, and Barrett - accompanied by counterparts from a number of smaller cities - all complained that inaction by the federal executive branch and the influence of the gun lobby, particularly the National Rifle Association, on Congress have left local officials to combat the problem of illegal weapons....

The mayors - including Tulsa, Okla. Mayor Kathy Taylor and Rockford, Ill. Mayor Lawrence Morrisey - spoke at Chicago Police Headquarters from behind a table loaded with illegal firearms seized by police in recent months. Most were rapid-fire automatic pistols, but there also were automatic shotguns, military-style assault rifles and even a Prohibition-style Thompson submachine gun.

The Midwestern mayors were to meet in an all-day conference Thursday to discuss legal and technological strategies. Bloomberg said Menino would hold a similar conference in Boston Nov. 9 and Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin would hold one in her city Nov. 30.

The NRA's response is that the laws are there, ready to be enforced if these mayors will only apply the necessary resources. These are illegal weapons, and added burdens on law-abiding gun owners isn't going to stop criminals who are already violating the law. Taylor is allying herself with mayors who have sought to use lawsuits to put gun and ammunition manufacturers out of business. That's like suing the head of Black and Decker for the Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

McCarville notes that Taylor's involvement in this group hasn't received much attention in the local media. Whatever your opinions on gun laws, surely everyone can agree that we ought to know what alliances and causes she is joining in her official capacity, in the name of the City of Tulsa. And the City Council ought to ask her to come before them to explain her involvement.

I wonder: If Taylor's leanings on this issue had been known, would it have cost her the election?

"Who should I vote for?"


A friend with a worried expression on her face stopped me at church today to ask the above question. I told her -- and those of you with the same question -- to stay tuned to batesline.com. Starting tomorrow night, I'll be writing about statewide, legislative, and Tulsa County races, state questions. My Urban Tulsa Weekly column, out this Wednesday, will deal with the judicial retention ballot and the local district court races. I've got plenty of material to share, and this week will be devoted to putting that information in your hands.

A quote and a few thoughts about this article by Michael Spencer, on "Christian Community, Friendship, and the Quest for Accountability":

It is certainly true that most of us avoid accountability relationships because there is no one we would trust with our secrets, failures and struggles. Contemporary evangelical spirituality values outward demonstrations of piety, not interpersonal honesty where we confess our sins and ask for advice in our struggles. We are supposed to confess our victories over sin, not our struggles with sin. Holiness, for most evangelical Christians, is a state of arrival, not a journey of response to the Gospel. We want triumph, not lessons. Abiding in Christ is supposed to result in “victory.” The “fruit” of the Christian life is suppose to come in lives where all the major problems have been resolved, and we gather to pray for further victory, for strugglers and for what Joel Osteen calls “God’s Favor.”

The focus of evangelical spirituality in America works against accountability relationships, and even when those relationships occur, it works against true honesty, repentance and the pursuit of humility.

There's much more to Spencer's article, and I encourage you to read the whole thing. In addition, consider the impact of modern city life on accountability. In a small town, accountability is unavoidable, as the people you see at church on Sunday are the same people you deal with at work, at school, in civic groups, and in your neighborhood. In a city, we worship with one group of people, work with another, and are neighbors to yet another, with very little overlap between communities. It's easy to go an entire week and not see someone from church. Even if one is involved in a small prayer group or Bible study with friends from church, that disconnect still exists.

Spencer writes of accountability relationships, "Such relationships can’t be easily constructed. They can’t simply be scheduled or assigned. In a very real sense, they must be born of the Holy Spirit and the providence of God." Trust is something that takes a long time to develop. At least, it should take a long time to develop. There are lots of reasons why it's easier to build accountability relationships in the context of a campus ministry than in the context of a congregation, but one reason is that college students are less wary, quicker to trust, because they haven't been burned enough times or badly enough.

When a small group of adults does gel, when the members feel comfortable enough to trust each other, the group ought to be left alone, but often it's broken up by church leaders. The usual reasons are that the group is becoming "ingrown" or cliquish, that more successful groups can be created if the group members are spread out to different groups, that group members need to be challenged afresh to build new relationships. There may even be an unspoken fear that a cohesive group of laypeople is a challenge to the authority of the leadership. The result of breaking up and reassigning the members of such a group is that new friendships and trust have to be developed from scratch, and the friendships nurtured in the old group fade without that weekly scheduled time to spend together.


So we've been told that the Arkansas River is far too wide to make for an intimate river walk setting. Anyone who has been to the San Antonio River Walk knows there's something to this. (On the other hand, Riverwalk Crossing in Jenks seems to be doing fine with development on one side of the river only. Ditto for your typical seaside boardwalk.) Bing Thom says you need to build the $600 million islands in the river so it'll be close enough to wave at someone on the opposite shore.

Is there another way to create a narrower water feature? Perhaps using tributaries of the Arkansas?

About a month ago (I've been meaning to get this posted), John Neas was kind enough to send me a concept drawing from 1991. I had heard about this, but had never seen it. There's a creek that was long ago buried and routed through storm sewers. It's called Elm Creek, and it flows, mostly underground, from Kendall-Whittier, through Central Park (6th & Peoria), south through Gunboat Park (11th to 13th, Elgin to Frankfort), to 15th & Boston, along Baltimore Ave, along the western edge of Veterans' Park, emptying into the river under the 21st Street bridge. The stretch from Central Park to Veterans' Park consists of an 84" arch tunnel.

This plan, shown in the picture above (click on it to download a higher res version in PDF format), would have brought the creek back to the surface from about 16th & Baltimore to Riverside Drive. Disregard the buildings and the street closings, and just focus on where the creek is relative to the park, the 18th & Boston district (considerably more active now than it was in 1991), and the river. It would make for an interesting connection between 18th & Boston and River Parks, providing a back door to businesses along Boston and opening the possibility for new businesses in place of the parking lot on the west side of Baltimore. Obviously the idea can be tweaked to fit the positive things that are already happening in the neighborhood.

The idea of bringing a creek to the surface as a promenade and neighborhood focal point is an important part of the Pearl District plan, which would open Elm Creek up as a canal along 7th Street to connect the new lake at Central Park with a proposed stormwater detention facility further east.

Unbounded common sense

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Jeff Shaw, a frequent commenter here at BatesLine, has launched a new blog called Bounded Rationality. His inaugural entry explains the reason behind the name:

"The concept is known as bounded rationality. It applies to situations in which all actors have access to the same amount of incomplete information, and it applies to the more general case in which some have more than others." (Emphasis supplied).

In and of itself, the term is not that exciting. But the next page reveals more:

"Much economic theory, however, has barely begun to grapple with the even more interesting and widespread situation in which agents not only lack access to complete information but also lack the cognitive ability to arrive at the "best" decision. In most real-world situations, it is simply not possible to "maximize," to find the optimal choice. Reality is far too complicated."...

This is my blog: Generally, to simplify the world around me based on the limited information I have, and spew it out here, in some sort of "bounded rationality."

I'll do the best I can.

Jeff is off to a great start so far. This post, For New Urbanism, is especially good, a reminiscence about the benefits of growing up in the Crutchfield neighborhood (northeast of downtown, sandwiched between I-244, the Frisco tracks, US 75 and Utica), one of the few walkable mixed-use neighborhoods in Tulsa, in the late '60s and early '70s. He draws this lesson:

We had the things we needed in our neighborhood. There were no parking lots at these stores or schools or other places. After all, these things existed for the neighborhood, not the entire city. You might be thought of as a little "eccentric" if you actually drove to one these places.

What I described above is New Urbanism. It's really not "new", but I really don't care what you call it. It works. In this microcosm of Tulsa, we had pretty much everything we needed within walking distance. We knew the shop owners, and they knew us. When we got into mischief, we were never far from home. Our neighborhood was convenient, and it was also "home" to our home. It was comfortable and accessible.

Come to think of it, I wonder how we ever thought we could improve on this model.

For what it's worth, the City's Urban Development Department worked with homeowners and business owners in Crutchfield to develop a neighborhood plan a few years ago. The plan treats the mixed-use nature of the area as an asset. It's a good plan, but -- like so many other plans -- it needs people willing to invest in the area to make it happen.

Welcome to the blogosphere, Jeff!


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Tonight and Saturday night at 10 p.m., the Circle Cinema in Whittier Square, Admiral & Lewis, will show the classic zombie thriller, "Night of the Living Dead," followed by a mystery zombie film. Zombie Tom would be pleased, I'm sure.

Also coming up on the Circle Cinema calendar, they'll be showing what may be the worst movie of all time, Ed Wood's "Plan 9 from Outer Space" as the midnight movie on Friday, November 17th and Saturday, November 18th. It truly is so bad that it's good.

Meanwhile, if you'd like to see films that are more uplifting and positive (but more spooky than usual this month) and which feature little to no brain-eating, check out this Saturday night's monthly screening of the Altarnet Film Society at Agora Coffeehouse, 7:30 p.m. in the Fontana Shopping Center, 51st & Memorial.

Normally Okie hate and Okie love are Okiedoke's department, but I spotted this bit of appreciation for Oklahoma in the midst of a general trashing of Red State voters (the old "What's Wrong with Kansas?" theme), in a comment thread on Pandagon, the blogospheric flagship of foul-mouthed feminism and as regular as Old Faithful when it comes to spewing forth against advocates of traditional values and the sanctity of human life. (Pro-life author and blogger Dawn Eden is a frequent target of their eruptions.)

Here's the comment, posted by "Truly B." earlier this week, in which she compares life in red-dirt Red State Oklahoma City to life in Blue State Maryland. She reports that she had to travel a long way from her Oklahoma home to encounter ignorant and hurtful rudeness. (I bowdlerized the "n" word, but otherwise left this as is.)

i’m a female, native, black oklahoman from oklahoma city. i am an alumna of the university of oklahoma, and have traveled the world extensively. i currently live in maryland (counting the days until i leave!) and go home on a regular basis. suffice it to say that i’ve seen no evidence in oklahoma city of “forced” allegiance to certain views. i grew up learning that people are different and they are going to do what they want to do–you can’t really change others, only yourself–THIS IS WHAT I LEARNED IN OKLAHOMA CITY.

i find it funny that people who simply drive through my state can decisively diagnose all the people who live there…especially when all they’ve done is no more than possibly fill up their gas tanks…or as little as leave their exhaust fumes behind.

i also find the stereotype of what oklahomans are supposed to be, do, and think, laughable. i’ll just say that i’ve never encountered so much idiocy, racism and small-mindedness until i came to maryland in 1997, where i was stationed on an army post (and unfortunately still remain in this state while trying to recoup losses from my divorce and finish my graduate degree).

i’ve never been called a “n----r” for making a left turn into my correct lane until early 2006 in maryland. i’ve never been ignored at a restaurant (while whites who came in after me were seated) until 2005 in washington dc…that same year i was at a maryland farmers market where a white shop owner stuck a watermelon inches under my nose and joked about how he knew i “just couldn’t wait to dig into” the fruit because he could “see my lips twitching.” these are simply the newest affronts that i haven’t suppresed yet…

i know other blacks in baltimore city who tell me they are afraid to travel to the county i live in–20 minutes from baltimore–and they’ve told me i should expect the treatment that i receive on a daily basis, because it’s “klan country.” here, the klan marches REGULARLY in annapolis, md, home of their state capitol…SHOCKING. reports have been made of maryland schools that have had all class reunions–but none of the blacks that had attended were invited, interestingly enough.

oh yes, life in blue state maryland is so much better for me[/sarcasm]…NOT!

please know that everything is NOT what it seems…nor what the media tells you it should be. i am of the opinion that all this “red/blue state” rhetoric is nothing more than a way to divide americans, invest some with a false sense of superiority and distract everyone from the true issues at hand, such as shrinking political rights and increased lies told by governmental entities.

i love oklahoma city and i’m on my way home. EVERY PART OF THE U.S. has problems with ignorance…not just the “red states.” i am well aware that there are no utopias, so let’s just keep a balance in talking about things, shall we?

Well said.

The gist of the rest of the discussion is that Red Staters have been hypnotized by our churches to vote based on sex-related issues like abortion and gay marriage. Otherwise we would be voting for Democrats who, they say, are on the right side of the issues that should matter to us poor, ignorant crackers -- i.e. Federal entitlements.

What's ignorant is the left's failure to understand that issues like the sanctity of human life really do matter to us in the pews. Far from being brainwashed during the Sunday sermon, lay people have led the movement to get conservative Christians involved in politics. Plain ol' Christians read their Bibles and began to apply what they read to what they saw happening in the political realm. They saw the horror of abortion and the threats to traditional values, and they got involved in campaigns and ran for office. These same lay people then tried to mobilize their friends at church to pay attention and get involved. Clergy were often the most reluctant to engage political issues at any level, partly for fear of alienating parishoners, partly for fear of the IRS.

The left also fails to understand the political maturity that has developed among politically active conservative Christians over the last 30 years. We've read books like Blinded by Might and learned lessons from the failures of the Moral Majority and the Christian Coalition. We understand why Kipling referred to "Triumph and Disaster" as "those two impostors"; we know that no victory in politics is total or permanent -- but neither is any defeat. We know the value of incrementalism in politics. We regard Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson as fringe figures at best, embarrassments at worst. We don't take our marching orders from James Dobson. We understand the need to work alongside people of common immediate aims but disparate values and ultimate goals. We know that politics is not a tidy business, and we are not going to cloister ourselves because we got a bit of dirt under our fingernails.

Most of all, we are not going to stay home on November 7, just because we aren't 100% satisfied with the Republican Party.

The latest advertiser on BatesLine is a website (gopsenators.com) run by the National Republican Senatorial Committee, and they appear to have video of every TV commercial being run by a Republican candidate for senator in the 18 states (of 33 with races) that the NRSC is targeting. (Florida, New York, and Massachusetts aren't among them.)

It's interesting to see the different approaches being used across the country.

In Rhode Island, Lincoln Chafee, the RINO that the RNC and NRSC propped up against a conservative primary challenger, is running on a platform of opposition to the war in Iraq, pork barrel for Rhode Island, and embryonic stem cell research. (Polls show he's losing, by the way. The voters of Providence Plantation evidently prefer a real liberal Democrat to one with an R after his name.)

In Maryland, Michael Steele is running as an agent of change: "Ready for change? Ready for Steele." In this long-form video he sets out his proposals for lobbying reform (no gifts at all, four-year wait before a congressman or staffer can become a lobbyist), and we hear excerpts from several speeches as he talks about his background and his stands on various issues, and comments from supporters. As you'd expect in a blue state, the word "Republican" never comes up, and he says he wants to be a bridge between the parties. Blocky metallic lettering and the sound of lug nuts being driven help the viewer to remember the name Steele.

Here's a negative Steele ad against Democrat Ben Cardin, in which Cardin's statements that he stood up to various interest groups are split by text showing how much campaign money he took from each. The message: Cardin won't change Washington; he'll fit right in. And here's Steele's reply to attacks from Cardin, delivered with a light touch, using garbage cans as a prop to remind voters that Cardin staffers pled guilty to hacking into Steele's financial records.

This NRSC ad, from Tennessee, is just video of Congressman Harold Ford Jr., the Democratic nominee, crashing a press conference by the Republican nominee, Chattanooga mayor Bob Corker. And here's a clever one, featuring "man-on-the-street" (all right, "actor-on-the-street") comments about Ford's upbringing in Washington DC as a congressman's son, his lack of connection with Tennessee, and his lack of experience outside of politics.

For students of campaigns and elections, this is pretty interesting stuff. Please click on the ad to your right, and check it out for yourself.

UPDATE: Here's the Tennessee Senate ad that everyone has been talking about; it's an RNC ad, not from the NRSC or Corker's campaign. It's a funny use of man-on-the-street (funnier than the one above) to contrast Ford's congressional record with the views of Tennessee voters. Not that I'm obliged to provide equal time, but here's a Ford ad attacking Corker for being wealthy.

On Evangelical Outpost, Joe Carter looks at seven votes in the U. S. House of special concern to social conservatives, then compares the voting records of the current Republican House committee chairmen with those who would replace them if the Democrats win a majority of seats in November. While not all the Republican chairmen have stellar records on this set of votes, all but two are over 50% (Jim Leach of Iowa and Howard Coble of N. C. only voted the right way on 3 of 7), and 8 of the 13 chairmen voted the right way on at least six of the seven votes. Meanwhile, most of their Democratic counterparts scored a big fat zero. (Three exceptions: One chairman voted the right way once, another voted the right way twice, and Ike Skelton of Missouri, ranking Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, who scored a 71.)

I've heard politically-active evangelicals around here say that "the lesser of two evils is still evil." Carter leads off with a quote from Thomas à Kempis book The Imitation of Christ: "Of two evils, the less is always to be chosen." To choose otherwise is to let the greater evil prevail. Refusing to choose, waiting instead for some ideal to fall from the heavens, is to make a choice for the greater evil.

Overall, under Republican leadership in the House, the desired result for social conservatives was attained in five of these seven measures. (A sixth, regarding embryonic stem cell research, was stopped by President Bush's veto.) Looking at the scores of these current and potential committee chairmen, I have no doubt that under Democratic leadership, legislation that protects the sanctity of human life and the traditional definition of marriage would never make it out of committee.

We've seen exactly that situation here in Oklahoma, where, despite a professed pro-life majority in both houses, a Democratic Senate committee chairman, supported by the Democratic Senate majority leadership, blocked pro-life bills from being debated on the Senate floor. The lead story October 2006 issue of the Oklahomans for Life newsletter (PDF) tells how this year's landmark pro-life legislation nearly didn't make it to the Governor's desk:

Senate Democrats were determined to prevent any pro-life legislation from being enacted this year. Senate Democrats facilitated the killing of seven (7) prolife bills that had passed the House this session. The bills were killed by a Democrat committee chairman, serving at the pleasure of the Democrat Senate Leader, who, in turn, serves at the pleasure of the Senate’s Democrat members.

When the Republican House of Representatives reinserted five of those bills in another piece of legislation which had already passed the Senate (and, therefore, did not have to go through committee in the Senate again), the Senate Democrats resisted as forcefully and as long as they possibly could. They were fully prepared to ignore the rules of the Senate by refusing to allow the Republican author of SB 1742 to present the bill for a Senate vote.

The Democrat Leader of the Senate told the bill’s author as late as May 17, the day before the bill ultimately passed, that the bill would not be granted a vote on the Senate floor. It was only when Republicans made it clear that they would attempt to force the issue through a procedural
motion (which would have been voted on in public) that the Democrats relented and agreed to let the vote occur.

With great reluctance, the Democrat Leadership of the Senate allowed the bill to be voted on when the political pressure had built to such an extent that they could no longer contain it.

Once the bill was allowed to come to a vote, SB 1742 passed the Oklahoma Senate 38-8.

At the state level and at the federal level, which party will have control of the chamber is as important as which individual will represent your district.

Here's the conclusion Joe Carter draws:

Social conservatives have reason to be disappointed in the Republicans in Congress. As these scores indicate, though, we will be even more disappointed should the Democrats gain majority control. The GOP doesn't deserve to win; but if the Democrats regain power, it will be society that loses.

RELATED: Paul Weyrich points to the Bush Administration's solid record on judicial appointments and says you can expect strict-constructionist nominees like Samuel Alito never to get a hearing in a Democrat-controlled Senate. "I understand, and am sympathetic to, the reasons not to retain the current crowd in office. But there are two very big reasons why they should be re-elected. If they do not improve their performance in the 110th Congress, recruit primary candidates and replace them."

AND THIS: Are social conservative voters budding theocrats? Bill Rusher hits the nail on the head:

What has happened is that, in the past thirty years, a large number of Americans whose deepest beliefs and concerns are not political but religious have concluded that they have no choice but to gird themselves for participation in the nation's political wars. There are quite enough such people to influence the election returns, and they have been doing so.

But -- and this distinction is crucial -- their posture is essentially defensive. They are not seeking to turn America into a theocracy. They are simply trying to preserve, and where necessary restore, the politico-religious balance that has been traditional in this country. It is the intellectuals, with the critical support of the courts, and above all the Supreme Court, that have successfully eroded that balance, seeking to marginalize religion and convert the entire civic framework of the nation into a purely secular arena, on the pretense that this is required by the First Amendment's supposed erection of a high "wall" between church and state.

Those who imagine that it is religion's defenders who are the aggressors here are simply not paying attention to the increasingly sharp attacks on religious faith that can be found today in such influential places as The New York Times.

West Texas soundtrack

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I used iTunes to mix a CD for our recent trip to west Texas. It's a combination of songs about Texas, songs about cotton farming, favorite Western Swing instrumentals (including arguably the first rock'n'roll song ever recorded -- Junior Barnard's Fat Boy Rag, recorded in 1946), and a few other songs that I just plain love. Of course, I had to start it with "The Texas Playboys are on the air!"

Here it is -- all tunes by Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys unless otherwise noted.

  1. Playboy Theme
  2. Three Guitar Special (Tiffany Transcriptions Vol. 5)
  3. Big Ball's In Cowtown, Asleep At The Wheel (George Strait vocal)
  4. Dipsy Doodle, Billy Jack Wills And His Western Swing Band
  5. Miles and Miles of Texas, Asleep at the Wheel
  6. Panhandle Rag, Leon McAuliffe
  7. You're From Texas, Asleep At The Wheel, Ride With Bob
  8. Caravan, Billy Jack Wills And His Western Swing Band
  9. Way Down Texas Way, Asleep At The Wheel
  10. Playboy Chimes
  11. Yearning (Just For You), Asleep At The Wheel (Vince Gill vocal)
  12. Texas Blues
  13. Fat Boy Rag (Tiffany Transcriptions Vol. 5)
  14. Bottle Baby Boogie (my daughter's favorite -- she loves the way Billy Bowman makes the steel guitar say "Mama")
  15. Roly Poly
  16. Little Cowboy Lament, (sometimes called Little Cowboy Lullaby)
  17. Cadillac in Model 'A' (Billy Jack Wills sings about a small-town Saturday night)
  18. Texas Drummer Boy (featuring a Johnny Cuviello drum solo and a very catchy steel guitar melody by Herb Remington)
  19. Boot Heel Drag
  20. 'Tater Pie
  21. Mr. Cotton Picker, Billy Jack Wills And His Western Swing Band
  22. Texas Plains (Patsy Montana vocal)
  23. Cotton Patch Blues
  24. Smoke On The Water
  25. Hubbin' It
  26. Tulsa Straight Ahead, Asleep at the Wheel
Not quite as tough as the previous puzzle, this one, generated at random by the Sudoku program I have on my PDA, can be solved using seven basic strategies.























UPDATE: Here's a link to the Sudoku Solver, with the puzzle above already loaded, which will step you through to the solution.

If you're wondering what's happening with all the proposals for downtown Tulsa housing, I've come across a couple of websites that you should keep an eye on:

Mayo 420, the Mayo Building (not the hotel) on the northwest corner of 5th and Main, built in 1910 as a five-story office building, then expanded to ten stories in 1917. Occupancy expected in mid- to late 2007.

Mayo Lofts, in the Mayo Hotel, whose first floor is already in use as a special events space and retail and office space. Occupancy expected in summer 2007. This website has floorplans and computer-generated concept "photos." The units will range from a 700-square-foot studio to a 3,000-square-foot three bedroom unit with a staircase linking two levels.

Then there's the Philtower, where the top nine floors are being converted to apartments. According to the website, it's fully leased.

I can't find a website for Michael Sager's First Street Lofts, but here's a Journal Record story from earlier in the year, which also mentions his project on Brady Street, and a sidebar about Michael Newman's Fairview Lofts, just north of the IDL across the street from the Tulsa County Election Board.

If you know of any websites about similar projects around downtown or surrounding neighborhoods, please post a comment.

There was a nice story in the business section of Saturday's Whirled about Micha Alexander and what he and others have been doing to renovate the area around 3rd Street and Kenosha Avenue on the eastern edge of downtown Tulsa.

Though he just turned 26, he has purchased four buildings and renovated a fifth in his quest to transform a stretch of Third Street between Kenosha and Lansing avenues -- just outside the East End borders -- into a laid-back, artistic mixed-use district.

Alexander said that seeing his dream become reality meant taking matters into his own hands, from purchasing the buildings to doing much of his own design and construction work.

"People have been wanting redevelopment, but it seems everyone backs out," he said. ...

All seven of his finished loft apartments are occupied, and his retail space includes tenants such as Fringe, a knitting cafe; Elements, a hair salon; The Ritz Barklton, a dog day-care center; and Alexander's own businesses -- martini lounge 818 and Maverick Machine.

What I love about this story is Alexander's initiative. Instead of waiting for someone older or wealthier to make this happen, he saw an opportunity and took it, finding ways around obstacles. When the owner of 815 E. 3rd wasn't interested in selling, Alexander convinced the owner to lease it to him.

As the story points out, Alexander isn't the only one who has been making changes in the area. In fact, the rediscovery of this little corner of downtown is not a new story.

I had noticed the interesting cluster of buildings at this corner a long time ago. They stand out because of the bend in the street where Tulsa's original townsite (where the grid runs parallel to the Frisco tracks) meets the due east-west line of 3rd Street in Hodge's Addition. But it wasn't until I saw this letter in the August 28, 1997, Whirled, that I knew that people were working to turn these buildings into a neighborhood:

Your comparison of downtown Tulsa to downtown Denver ("Mile High City Fills Tall Order," Aug. 24) would be laughable if its potential consequences were not so serious. The story led readers to believe that all Tulsa needs are a few well-placed sports facilities to instigate the metamorphosis of downtown.

Downtown Denver has a number of population-sustaining entities, not the least of which is the state capital. Denver residents support professional athletics at a level that verges on the fanatical. It is no surprise that Coors Field is a hot attraction.

Denver has maintained a healthy presence of low-rise brick buildings in which restaurants, shops and loft dwellers can flourish. Such areas are virtually extinct in downtown Tulsa where the landscape is punctuated by parking lots.

The Tulsa Project threatens to diminish further the quantity of viable low-rise structures. The proposed track and field stadium would displace a stable neighborhood of loft apartments and small businesses (including my own).

It is important to give the voters of Tulsa an opportunity to make an informed decision about what they will gain and lose if the Tulsa Project is approved.

Allison Geary

I subsequently learned that Allison's husband, Patrick Geary, had his set design business, Stage One Scenic, on the first floor of their building on Kenosha Ave., and they lived on the second floor, and that other folks had been renovating nearby buildings for lofts and studio space. The Tulsa Project was the 1997 attempt to pass a sales tax to build an arena, a track/soccer stadium, a natatorium, and a parking garage, all as part of an amateur athletic complex. If the Tulsa Project had been approved, this budding arts district would have been replaced with parking for the stadium. When I called into a radio talk show to ask Jim Norton, president of Downtown Tulsa Unlimited Unlamented, about this, and his response was one of amused indifference to the loss of more downtown buildings and the destruction of the hard work of these urban pioneers. Here was this proposal that was intended to revitalize downtown, but it would penalize those who were actually trying to bring downtown back with their own money and sweat equity.

More recently the area has been under a different shadow, as the Tulsa Development Authority included the neighborhood in the 115-acre "East Village" redevelopment area. Building owners couldn't know for certain whether the TDA would use the threat of eminent domain to claim their land in order to assemble the amount of property the TDA's contracted developer, Desco, might want for their project. They could only hope that the TDA would respect their efforts and exclude their neighborhood from redevelopment. (I wrote about this situation in an Urban Tulsa Weekly column last October.)

During the Vision 2025 debate I got to know another area owner and resident, Dave Berray, who was renovating the buildings on the southeast corner of 3rd and Kenosha. He organized a neighborhood association and worked with neighbors to get the area rezoned from Industrial Medium to CBD -- a mixed-use zone designed for downtown which allows residential as well as office, retail, and industrial uses. Dave pushed for naming the neighborhood Hodge's Bend, after the kink in 3rd Street and Hodge's Addition -- a more distinctive local name than "East Village." In addition to the concern about eminent domain, Dave told me about other inconveniences for area residents: Did you know you can't get residential trash service inside the IDL?

I'm encouraged to see the efforts of these hearty urban pioneers get some recognition, and I'm pleased to see that the proposed East End redevelopment will leave this area alone.

If you get a chance, drive down 3rd Street and see for yourself the progress that has been made.

MORE: Here's another story about a young downtown entrepreneur, Elliot Nelson, proprietor of McNellie's, who has reopened The Colony pub on Harvard, plans to open a Mexican restaurant across from McNellie's, and to open a McNellie's in Oklahoma City, on the north edge of downtown -- someone else with big dreams who is making them happen.

My wife's dad's folks are all cotton farmers from west Texas, specifically the area around Stamford, which is just a bit north of Abilene. We drove down and spent fall break there. What follows are some disjointed notes from the trip down and back:

We stopped at the Rock Cafe in Stroud on the way down. It was supposed to be for breakfast, as an incentive for the kids to get up and around early. But then a stray dog, a beautiful and friendly young chocolate labrador, strolled up while I was packing the car. We spent the next couple of hours trying to see if he belonged to anyone in the neighborhood, and called the Humane Society and area vets trying to figure out the best way to get him back to his owner. We finally took him to the animal shelter, figuring the owner would be most likely to look there first. The dog had no collar, no tag, no ID chip. He was not neutered. He was healthy, and although he was thirsty he wasn't hungry, so we figure he can't have come far. We posted a few signs around the neighborhood, and I posted to a couple of Internet pet lost-and-found sites.

But back to the Rock Cafe: We had lunch there. We sat at the counter, and Dawn, the owner, and the inspiration for Sally in the movie Cars, told the kids about the real-life incidents involving the cafe that inspired some of the scenes in the movie. (The DVD is out November 6, by the way!) Everyone enjoyed their lunch. I had the prettiest patty melt I've ever seen -- on marble rye -- with a side of tabouli. Delicious!

Further down the road, we stopped at a Dairy Queen south of Wichita Falls, Texas. You know you're in a small west Texas town when there's a sign on the Dairy Queen that says they'll be open late after home games. Or when the Dairy Queen has the only banquet/meeting room in town.

I liked the way this DQ does kids' meals. They're served in a sack with a coupon for a free DQ treat (Dilly Bar, ice cream sandwich, or ice cream cone). When the kids are done with their real food, they can go back to the counter to pick out their dessert. It's an incentive to finish supper, there's no cheap little toy to deal with, and dessert doesn't melt while they're eating their meal.

Also, the chicken fingers come with cream gravy for dipping.

I had a pepper-pepper burger: It had jalapeno bacon, pepper jack cheese, and chipotle sauce on it. The menu said it was a local favorite.

Favorite high school mascot name spotted on this trip: The Munday Moguls. (Will Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Warren Buffett, etc., sue the school to change the nickname to something less derogatory?)

Normally when I travel I have no worries about finding a high-speed Internet connection. If the hotel doesn't have it, there'll be a Panera or a local coffeehouse with a free wi-fi connection, or at least a McDonald's (AT&T DSL subscribers can have unlimited use of Wayport hotspots for a tiny monthly fee). I was working on a project and was going to need to upload some large files while we were in Texas, but none of the usual alternatives were available, and we were staying with family who didn't have a computer, much less broadband. My best option looked like driving an hour each way to Abilene. As we were passing through some small towns on our way south, I noticed several motels advertising free high-speed Internet. I made some phone calls and sure enough, the two motels in Stamford both had free wi-fi for guests, although it wasn't advertised on their signboards. Problem solved. $40 (the price of a room with tax at the Deluxe Inn) is a bit steep for a day of wi-fi but it was the cheapest alternative.

I heard several mentions of wind farms in the works for the area, which sits about 1500' above sea level. Folks I talked to didn't think wind turbines in a river valley at 600' elevation was likely to work very well.

You think water is expensive? One relative, who gets city water out in the country, told us they pay $50 a month for the first thousand gallons of water. In Tulsa, that pays for 5,000 gallons, plus sewer, plus trash pickup, plus stormwater fees. Another relative has installed rainwater tanks with a 20,000 gallon capacity, and they collect "gray water" (drainage from sinks and showers) for use in the yard.

US 277 was once paralleled by the Texas Central Railroad, but sometime during the mid '90s the rails were pulled up and the viaducts demolished. You can still see the track bed, usually elevated several feet above the surrounding terrain, and the supports for bridges. Occasionally you'll see piles of railroad ties or lonely old telephone poles (the kind that look like Orthodox crosses). The old track bed and right of way is being reused to turn 277 into a four lane divided highway, and most of the towns between Wichita Falls and Abilene are to be bypassed.

Oddly, US 277 used to bypass Wichita Falls, but now it runs along the western edge of downtown and then west along Kell Boulevard. In the downtown section, they've cantilevered new expressway lanes above existing streets, minimizing the amount of demolition they had to do. The new lanes aren't open yet, and I would still expect to see a certain amount of decay from being in the shadow of the freeway, but I give them credit for trying to provide the highway without dividing their downtown from the surrounding neighborhoods.

My wife's relatives remember going to a hangar dance at the local airport back in the '40s, featuring Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys. More often, though, they'd have house dances -- they'd move the furniture to the walls and roll up the linoleum. A couple of folks would sit in the corner and play fiddle and guitar, and people would dance as best they could in the limited space available. Or they'd go to all-night parties at the Sons of Hermann Lodge in Old Glory -- play games, eat, dance until the wee hours, then roll out their bedrolls and sleep in the hall. (My wife's aunt and uncle preferred to sleep in the camper on their pickup, so the pranksters at these events couldn't get to them.)

Speaking of the Old Glory lodge, next Saturday is the big event of the season -- a sausage supper and dance. Wish we could have been around for that.

Old Glory was originally called Brandenburg, but they changed the name during World War I.

It wasn't until 1961 that my wife's relatives went to mechanized cotton harvesting. Until then, working cotton meant going out and picking it by hand.

Most family get-togethers feature cards or dominoes. Saturday night we played a game of Chicken Foot, a domino game that moves pretty quickly, as about half of your moves are tightly constrained. Each hand begins with a double (in sequence starting with double-nines) and the first eight plays must be off of that initial double, creating eight radial lines from the middle. Subsequent doubles are laid perpendicular to the line of play, and the next three plays have to be off of that double. Double blank counts 50 points if you still have it at the end of the hand.

On the way home, we stopped for lunch at a Texas Roadhouse in Wichita Falls. (I would have stopped at a truly local place, but I hadn't done any research ahead of time.) I gave the baby little bites of my sweet potato. He loved the taste, but with every bite he made the funniest face because of the difference in texture from the usual pureed stuff.

We made our usual stop at Elmer Thomas Park in Lawton, home to a huge prairie dog colony. We watched them pop out of their holes. A lady walking her baby in a stroller gave us some crackers to toss at them, and then a couple who brought some old bread out for the prairie dogs shared some with the kids. The couple told us about seeing all the pups in the park back in June. You can get to the park by heading west from I-44 on old US 62, then south on 6th Street.

I also drove us through Medicine Park, an old resort town, founded about 100 years ago, just east of the Wichita Mountains wildlife refuge. It's distinguished by buildings made of cobblestone, which sit along Medicine Creek. My last visit was four or five years ago, and since that time several more businesses have opened and old buildings are being renovated. Improvements have been made to trails and bridges along the creek. We noticed signs of renovation in the Old Plantation Restaurant (once the Outside Inn, then the Grand Hotel). A number of homes advertised bed and breakfast or cabins for rent. On the north edge of town, we noticed some big and expensive looking new "cabins" up in the hills with a commanding view of the Wichita Mountains. The town still might qualify as undiscovered, but just barely, and not for long.

River development proposal delays actual funded river development :

[River Parks director Matt] Meyer said all of the third-penny sales tax that goes toward river improvements in the area between 11th and 21st streets will be on hold until a decision is made on The Channels.

Forgotten no more

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Hearty congratulations to Kevin Walsh, webmaster of Forgotten NY, a site devoted to the physical remnants of decades and centuries past in the five boroughs and environs -- old neon, abandoned subway stations, abandoned diners, humpback street signs (think Sesame Street), vanished streets, ghost ads -- and that's just scratching the surface. It's a site you can explore for hours.

Kevin's years of diligent research have spawned a book of the same title. Forgotten New York: Views of a Lost Metropolis, published by Collins, made its debut last month in hardcover and paperback. Kevin has a page devoted to the book's release party, held at a Greenwich Village pub that was once a speakeasy. Naturally, Kevin provides a short history of the bar, its famous customers, and explains how the term "86" is connected to the place.

Time Out New York put the book on its cover, with a feature story and several sidebars. And Kevin's cousin, Tom Paul, posted a web scavenger hunt as a contest. While the contest is long over, the five questions he asks will send you searching through forgotten-ny.com looking for the answers, giving you an overview of the hidden treasures you'll find there.

New Urban Tulsaism

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Urban Tulsa Weekly has a bright and shiny new website!

All the links in my archive category are now broken! But it's worth it! (And they'll be easy enough to fix -- it will just take time.)

(There's a really simple forwarding trick they could do to fix all the broken links on the server side.)

Here's this week's column, part 6 in the series dealing with The Channels proposal, this week asking about the best way to create a more pedestrian-friendly city, learning a lesson from the success of a waterfront development in Florida.

This was originally posted on October 7, 2006. I've bumped it to the top since it was a topic of conversation during my weekly visit with Michael DelGiorno on KFAQ this morning. On a related note, KFAQ is sponsoring a special showing of the film Border War tonight at 7 (by invitation only) and paid screenings at 9 tonight and tomorrow night at 7 and 9 (October 17 and 18) at the Starworld cineplex in Bixby.

MeeCiteeWurkor has begun a series of posts about the hiring practices of contractors and subcontractors to the City of Tulsa. In this first post, he is reporting on a specific instance of a city subcontractor employing people who cannot work legally in the U.S. One of the illegal workers was driving a truck carrying city property, despite the fact that he had been arrested on a DUI charge.

On August 17th of this year, between approximately 7am and 8am, I observed one of Don Shope’s “Mexicans” driving a blue and white Ford F-150 truck with an Oklahoma license plate of 396-ZMH....

I was told that the worker driving the truck had recently received a DUI and had his license suspended. I approached the gentleman, who I believe goes by the name “George”. I hollered at the guy in the truck and confronted him. There was an exchange in which I asked the supposed illegal worker why he was driving if his license was suspended, and especially after getting arrested for DUI. The contractor’s worker admitted to being arrested and not having a driver’s license, but soon realized what was happening and began to speak in Spanish and saying that he didn’t understand English.

There is audio (actually a darkened video) and a transcript of a confrontation with the Mexican worker's boss about this situation.

In the introduction to this series, MeeCiteeWurkor explains why he is posting this information, and he also explains the relationship between the City of Tulsa, the companies that contract with the City, and the subcontractors that are hired by the contractos to do the actual work.

As Dan Paden wrote: "Mee's risking his livelihood to bring this to your attention. Go and have a look. I don't think it's putting it too strongly to say that the citizens of Tulsa owe that to him."


There's one statewide race that ought to matter more than any other to Oklahoma voters. That's the race for a seat on the Oklahoma Corporation Commission. In addition to overseeing Oklahoma's oil and gas industry, the OCC regulates public utilities like PSO, ONG, and AT&T (formerly Southwestern Bell).

Considering the amount of money at stake in the OCC's decisions on utility rates, the commission is ripe for corruption. And indeed, in the late '80s and early '90s, the FBI investigated bribery allegations involving the OCC. Corporation Commissioner Bob Hopkins, a Democrat, was convicted of bribery and sent to jail, as was utility lobbyist Bill Anderson. The culture of corruption at the OCC was cracked open because, in 1989, a newly-elected commissioner went to Feds when Anderson offered him cash.

That commissioner was Bob Anthony, a man of honesty and fairness. In Anthony, Oklahoma's utility ratepayers have someone who is looking out for their interests. Regulated companies, whether large or small, get a fair shake from Bob Anthony.

In 1995, Bob Anthony received an award from the FBI for his involvement in the corruption investigation. (Click that link for the text of his commendation.)

During his campaign, an attorney who practiced before the Commission greeted him with a handshake that contained an envelope with ten $100 bills. Mr. Anthony contacted the United States Attorney's office and agreed to participate and work with the FBI as a cooperative and covert witness. He knew at that time that his role would certainly be revealed at trial, and that the eventual proceedings in court might damage his ability not only to be a public servant, but to work in any public service career in the state of Oklahoma. The investigation which he caused, supported and worked in lasted approximately six years. Evidence which he developed involved illegal payments of $10,000. He made over 150 tape recordings that helped broaden the scope of the case to include another fellow commissioner and a local telephone company.

By 1992, word of the investigation and Mr. Anthony's cooperation had reached the news media. Determined to meet his duty as an elected public servant, he publicly commented on the case, explaining his part, but only to the extent required to fulfill his public duties. As a result of his inability to comment fully on the case, because he intended to protect the integrity of the investigation, the press had a field day with respect to him and his own reputation. For over two years he was featured as a "snitch" and a political opportunist, as well as being the subject of several leading cartoonists for the media. It wasn't until the case went to trial in 1994 that the full story was revealed and Mr. Anthony was vindicated when the full facts of his cooperation, dedication and sacrifice were announced in a public forum. In the interim, his campaign for a seat in the United States House of Representatives was defeated and he only narrowly won reelection to the Commission itself.

In the end, two subjects were convicted of bribery, and a clear message was sent to the leadership of both the business and political communities of Oklahoma that such conduct would not be tolerated. Mr. Anthony, by this award, joins a very select group of awardees who exemplify the tremendous courage and sacrifice that people have shown--particularly people who have put themselves and their families' welfare at jeopardy to do the right thing to support an investigation. That is a critically important commitment--when one puts his own life and welfare directly on the line. It is only with that premise and support and cooperation that the FBI, or any law enforcement organization, can do the job it is supposed to do, which is protect the people.

In 2000, Anthony was elected to a third term with the highest number of votes in Oklahoma history. This year, he's being challenged by former Corporation Commissioner Cody Graves.

Cody Graves is a big baby. In January 1995, a pay raise approved by the Legislature for elected officials went into effect, but under the Oklahoma Constitution, a pay raise isn't allowed to go into effect in the middle of an executive officer's term. Corporation Commissioner's terms are six years, staggered so only one is up for election every two years. Anthony asked for and received an Attorney General's opinion clarifying that the Legislature could not nullify that provision of the Constitution. The ruling meant that Graves would not get the raise until January 1999. (Anthony would not be eligible until January 2001.)

Graves was so angry at the ruling he quit. Graves then became a lobbyist for the very companies he had been regulating.

So what do you think, Oklahoma? Shall we replace a man of principle and courage with someone who is evidently motivated by money above all else?

I was disgusted, but not surprised, to learn today that Graves has been endorsed by former Corporation Commissioners J. C. Watts and Ed Apple, both Republicans, along with all other living former commissioners, all Democrats. (Presumably Commissioner Hopkins, the convicted felon, is dead and could not be reached for comment.) Given that Democrat former commissioners were in office when the culture of corruption was in full swing, it's no wonder that they'd want Anthony out of office, since his courage put a stop to the walking-around money. During Apple's time in office, he was a consistent vote for whatever the utilities and the big energy companies wanted.

As for J. C. Watts, a web search turned up this about Watts' election to and tenure on the Corporation Commission. On March 1, 1991, the FBI recorded a phone conversation between Watts and Bill Anderson, then representing the interests of independent telephone companies. This was at a time when Bob Anthony was pushing for 35-mile toll-free calling zones in each of Oklahoma's metro areas, a move opposed by these small-town phone companies who derived a lot of revenue from town-to-town tolls. In the conversation, Anderson discusses arrangements for delivering $1,500 to Watts, in advance of a March 6 cutoff for campaign contributions to his 1990 campaign account. Anderson had a practice of bundling cash contributions with a long enough list of names that it could be claimed that each name had given $200, the threshold for public reporting of a campaign contribution.

Watts was with State Rep. Kevin Cox that day:

Anderson said "And hell, I'll just, if he's with you, you just come to the door and I'll just hand you the cash. Kevin needn't know. You, just tell him you need to come by and get a message from me or something."

Later that day, FBI agents observed Watts coming to Anderson's house. Watts told the FBI that he didn't recall picking up a contribution from Anderson. Perhaps he was borrowing a cup of sugar.

The good ol' boys, Republicans and Democrats alike, aren't happy that there's someone on the Corporation Commission who has this as his mission statement:

On January 9, 1989 I accepted a position of public trust and took a constitutional oath to enforce the law, supervise rates, correct abuses, and prevent extortion and discrimination by regulated companies.

The rest of us, Republicans and Democrats alike, need to give Bob Anthony another six-year term to look out for our best interests.


Here is a PBS Frontline interview with Bob Anthony about his cooperation with the FBI in the Corporation Commission bribery investigation.

(Anthony makes reference in the interview to a case before the commission involving Nora and Eugene Lum, associates of Bill Clinton, and the main subjects of the Frontline episode. Here are statements from Nolanda Butler Hill and Stephen Dresch about the case, which connects to late Commerce Secretary and DNC chairman Ron Brown, Clinton adviser Mack McLarty, and one-time Democratic 1st District congressional candidate Stuart Price.)

Here is a table showing the membership of the OCC since statehood.

Here's a 1999 article by, of all people, Oklahoma Observer editor Frosty Troy, detailing Anthony's achievements.

(I have to take issue with the comparison of Anthony to Henry Bellmon. Anthony is beloved by grassroots Republicans, while Bellmon earned their distrust on issues like the Panama Canal and higher taxes. Anthony gets standing ovations, not boos or hisses, at Republican conventions.)

Anthony's website includes a sweet trip down memory lane, recalling his first campaign in 1988, traveling Oklahoma accompanied by his wife and four school-aged daughters.


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Recently I came across the blog of Ben Wattenberg, and it's become a favorite read.

The name is no doubt familiar. Wattenberg, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a social scientist and syndicated columnist, has been involved in or writing about Federal policy for over 40 years. He is a classic example of a neo-conservative, a one-time liberal who felt pushed away from the Democratic party by its weakness abroad and failed policies at home. He had served as an aide to President Lyndon Johnson, worked on Henry "Scoop" Jackson's 1976 presidential campaign, and has served on boards and commissions in the Carter, Reagan, and Bush, Sr., administrations.

What I love about his "Wattenblog" is that it is very obviously his, not something a grad student is writing for him. It consists of unedited, unpolished thoughts about things in the news or on the web.

For example, in this entry, Wattenberg rebuts an anonymous commenter, whom he dubs Mr. Wrong, interlineating his reply in bold red capital letters:

You have been provided with a lot of statistical evidence -- largely ignored on your part -- that proves everything you say here is false; that in fact Hispanics are, on average, developing into a new underclass, WRONG, MR WRONG,JUST PLAIN WRONG with significantly higher criminality CERTAINLY NOT IN THE SECOND GENERATION, CERTAINLY NOT WHEN COMPARED TO HOMEGROWN AFRICAN-AMERICANS. and much lower academic success rates IN THE FIRST GENERATION PERHAPS. SOMETIMES IN THE SECOND, AND MOST OFTEN NEARLY DISSAPPEARED IN THE THIRD.

You don't have to agree with him to admire the fact that someone with plenty of formal outlets for expression -- books, a syndicated column, a PBS show -- is willing to jump in to the rough-and-tumble of the blogosphere.

Tough Sudoku

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This is the toughest Sudoku puzzle I've come across yet. It was generated at random by the excellent Sudoku program I have on my PDA. Solving it -- as opposed to making guesses and backtracking when the guess turns out wrong -- required some advanced techniques I had yet to learn. See how you do with it.














UPDATE: Here's a link to the Sudoku Solver, with the puzzle above already loaded, so you can not only see the solution, but how the puzzle can be solved.

This link will show the puzzle completely solved.

Bates_Tourist_Hotel.jpg(Image originally from AlanOfTulsa on fotothing.com; direct link to photo.)

One more Route 66 related entry. Someone called alanoftulsa posted this postcard with the following info on the TulsaNow forum. The doings at cousin Norman's place almost sound tame compared to the real-life Bates Tourist Hotel.

Because of the conditions of family life, my parents ended up bankrupted. The Sheriff's department came out one evening to repo the furniture. While they were there, my dad and a Deputy got into a conversation about the Bates hotel which used to be across the street from East Central High School on 11th street. I was very familiar with this hotel because as a kid I explored the dilapidated hotel several times. It was a really scary place to explore and as kids we usually ended up running out of it thinking that someone hiding inside and was after us.

The Deputy told us that the Bates Hotel was used by Gangsters traveling down route 66 because it set just outside the Tulsa city limits where they didn't have to worry about Tulsa Police. He said that one night some of these gangsters got into a shoot-out inside the hotel and killed the hotel manager's daughter. He also stated that there were more bad things than that going on in the Bates. Does anyone know of any stories about this Hotel?

I remember having seen the Bates Hotel listed in the yellow pages of an old Tulsa phone book, but it was listed as merely being "E of City" -- no specific address. I had always wondered where it had been and what it had looked like.

So does anyone else have stories about this place? Anyone know when it closed, and when it was finally demolished?

By the way, that same forum entry included a mention of another place I had always been curious about. I passed it thousands of times and always wondered why there was a white-painted two story brick building in the middle of nowhere, just south of Admiral Place and 165th East Ave. The building was dressed up as a bar for the movie The Outsiders and was demolished some years later. alanoftulsa says it was the Rose Dew Egg Farm, and he lived there. Evidently the farm gave its name to the subdivision built around it (or likely on land that once was part of the farm). I'd be interested to know more about this place as well.

UPDATE November 22, 2014:

The 1967 USGS aerial photos of Tulsa still show the Bates Tourist Hotel, located on the north side of 11th Street, across from the present-day location of the East Central High School football stadium. An interesting detail not revealed by the postcards: The building had nine dormers on the north side -- three corresponding to the three dormers above the main entrance, and three each on the west and east wings. That may indicate the number of rooms available upstairs. Based on the scale of the photos, the building appears to be about 140 feet long and only about 25 feet deep. The rooms must have been tiny, and it's likely that they were not (at least not originally) en suite.


About a month ago, my son and I were returning from a two-week car trip to visit colleges. We stopped just west of St. Louis at the visitor's center for Missouri's Route 66 State Park. The visitor's center has photos and artifacts highlighting the landmarks on the Show-Me State's section of the historic road, including the Coral Court Motel, the various caves on the route, the town of Times Beach, and Campbell's 66 Truck Lines ("Humpin' to Please"). (They also had a display of Buffalo Ranch memorabilia.) One display stopped me short:

Sinclair Pennant Hotel and Tavern, display at Missouri Route 66 State Park Visitor's Center

The architecture was familiar -- the prominent dormers -- and the caption on postcard at the top said that there was a Sinclair Pennant Tavern on U. S. 66 in Tulsa, Okla. The Sinclair Pennant chain was originally known as Pierce Pennant. The Route 66 News review of the book Route 66 Treasures mentions that the Pierce Pennant chain "sought sites every 125 miles on the fledgling U. S. 66."

Sure enough, it appears that the Bates Tourist Hotel was originally a Pierce Pennant Tavern. The 66postcards.com website, which arranges postcards and other photos from the route in sequential order from east to west (with impressive accuracy, even within cities), has three views of the same hotel: A postcard of the Tulsa Pierce Pennant Terminal, a photo of the Tulsa Pierce Pennant Motel (from the Beryl Ford Collection), and the above postcard of the Bates Tourist Hotel. The vegetation has changed, but the fenestration is identical.

The caption on the Pierce Pennant Terminal postcard reads (in neat copperplate type):

A Terminal Building and Filling Station Island of Pierce Pennant Terminals System
Facilities include: 154-person restaurant, women's rest room, soda and sandwich lobby
emergency hospital

Interesting that initially it isn't called a hotel, but a "terminal" and later a "tavern."

This page, showing a photo of Pierce Pennant china, says that the company opened its first motor hotel in Springfield, Mo., in 1928, but by 1930, they had sold the chain to Sinclair. "This first motor hotel complex included a bus terminal, restaurant, soda fountain, restrooms, gas station, automobile shop and car washing facilities." This picture of the Springfield Pierce Pennant terminal looks more like a bus station and gas station.

The Pierce Pennant Hotel in Columbia, Mo., was nominated to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982. The main hotel building still stands at 1406 W. Business Route 70 and is part of the Candlelight Terrace Retirement Center. The hotel, which opened in 1929, was built to high standards (slate roofs, copper on the cupola, piers down to bedrock, metal laths under plaster for interior walls, solid brass light fixtures, "recognized by contractors as one of the best constructed buildings in the Columbia area)."

The National Register application for the Columbia Pierce Pennant Hotel mentions a separate "terminal building" with a description that sounds very much like the above Tulsa post card. The description of the windows is an exact match.

The second major building of the Pennant complex, originally known as the Terminal, is of the same general colonial style as the hotel-garage. It has two stories and an attic. The overall dimensions are ninety feet by thirty-five feet. The building consists of a central section, with wings on the east and west wings have six windows. The lobby section has four windows and a doorway on the first floor and five windows on the second floor, the window above the entrance being of the same width as the first floor doorway. A small portico shelters the entrance to the lobby. The attic has three dormer windows, facing north. On the roof are three chimneys; the extra chimneys were possibly connected to the operations carried on in the kitchen area.

Just off the lobby were restrooms for men and women. An emergency hospital with a trained nurse on duty was contiguous to the women's restrooms. On the second floor was a large dining room sixty-two feet by forty feet and an auxiliary dining area forty feet by twenty-three feet. Folding doors, which could be opened to provide space for a large group of diners or for a dance party, separated the two dining rooms. The kitchen was just west of the dining section. The third floor was occupied by employees of the terminal.

There is a photo of part of the terminal building on page 19 of the application:


At some point, it would seem, the hospital and dining areas in the Tulsa Sinclair Pennant Tavern were converted to motel rooms.

UPDATE 2015/12/03: Reader Kevin Gray writes that the next Pierce Pennant up Route 66, on the north side of Miami, OK, was used during World War II as offices for the British Flying Training School #3, which was operated by Spartan. "The old motel was offices, and barracks were built behind and around it. The athletic fields were behind the barracks, and the airfield, runway and hangars were immediately behind the athletic field." More about the Miami Royal Air Force school here. 15 RAF cadets are buried at Miami's Grand Army of the Republic Cemetery and are honored in an annual remembrance ceremony. More here about World War II RAF training schools in Oklahoma.

Arizona Motel
Arizona Motel,
originally uploaded by cardhouse.
And speaking of neon, here's a picture of one of my all-time favorite signs -- the Arizona Motel on 6th Street, old US 89 in South Tucson. The first time I saw it I gasped. This picture is good (click the thumbnail to see the full-sized image), but it doesn't capture the effect on the eye of a passing driver.

Each letter is made out of two different neon colors, and the effect is three-dimensional. The lower and left sides of each letter are blue, the upper and right sides are red, creating a shadow effect.

Realizing this effect required some creative neon design. Take a look at the O in MOTEL. The blue tube runs along the bottom left outer ring, then crosses over and continues as the top right inner ring. The red tube does the opposite.
Meadow Gold neon sign
Meadow Gold neon sign,
originally uploaded by Lost Tulsa.
Board of Adjustment case number BOA-20366 will be heard on Tuesday, October 24, at the BOA meeting which begins at 1 p.m. The City of Tulsa is seeking the following action:
Interpretation of the zoning text to determine the classification of the Meadow Gold sign.

The giant neon Meadow Gold sign (click that link to see a picture from 1957) used to sit atop a building on the southwest corner of 11th and Lewis. Car dealer Chris Nikel tore down the building for parking, but never used the space, and has since moved his dealership to Broken Arrow.

Before the building was demolished, the Tulsa Foundation for Architecture raised money to put the Meadow Gold sign into storage. (Here are photos of the disassembly process.) The new location for the sign is on the southwest corner of 11th & Quaker, where it will sit atop a specially-built platform. The property is zoned CH -- commercial high intensity.

Evidently there is some ambiguity about what kind of use the Meadow Gold sign is, which would affect how it would be treated under the zoning code. As Use Unit 22 (Business Signs and Outdoor Advertising), it is a use by right in CH, but there are numerous restrictions and conditions which may make that classification problematic.

It's been a while since I looked at this in detail, but I seem to recall that Tulsa's zoning code is not friendly to neon, particularly animated neon. Whatever the outcome of the BOA case, Tulsa's planners and elected officials ought to make sure that our laws encourage the maintenance of existing neon and creation of new neon, particularly along old Route 66.

Found on the web:

Mayor Taylor was selected as one of 60 applicants — out of a field of 400 — to participate in a Joint Civilian Orientation Conference. During her trip, she will be attending briefings with senior defense officials to discuss national defense matters from a strategic perspective, and then travel to the Middle East to observe activities and operations of each branch of the military.

During her trip, she will send back regular reports of her experience.

And this helps address budget shortfalls, economic development, and violent crime in Tulsa how, exactly?

PNS envy

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Pensacola Regional Airport has free wireless Internet service. In fact, 122 out of 218 U. S. airports offer free wi-fi to travelers.

Tulsa doesn't. Although the Tulsa Airport Authority provides its own wireless service to passengers (as opposed to working with a national provider like Boingo or T-Mobile), it charges $5.95 per hour, $9.95 for the whole day. Because it's their own service, they wouldn't need a provider's cooperation to drop the charge.

What many hotels, restaurants, and airports have discovered is that if you already have a high-speed Internet connection in place for business reasons (typically there's one for handling strongly-encrypted credit card transactions), it doesn't cost much more to add a few wireless routers and open it up for other users.

There's a practical advantage: Free wi-fi allows business travelers to stay productive during delays, which makes for less tension on the concourse when a flight is rescheduled or cancelled. It also makes it possible for travelers to investigate alternate flights, so that everyone doesn't have to wait in line to get booked onto a new flight.

Mostly, though, free wi-fi would be a way to extend hospitality. It would be a way to leave a positive final impression on visitors to our city.

No, Oklahoma City doesn't have it yet, but we don't need to wait for them to go first, do we?

OU poli-sci professor Keith Gaddie has done a statewide poll for TVPoll.com and Oklahoma City's News 9. The sample size was 921, which gives a margin of error of +/-3.23%.

You've probably already heard a summary of the results, but you can also download the details of the poll, including extensive crosstabs, which break the results down by sex, congressional district, political party registration, ideology, and support for President Bush (who has, by the way, a 57% approval rating in Oklahoma). There's also a thorough disclosure of the methodology used.

Some notes:

  • Brad Henry has a 65% approval rating, Istook has a 50% favorability rating statewide. Henry leads Istook, 59.5 to 33.2, with a tiny 7.3% undecided.
  • Attorney General Drew Edmondson is the only other candidate with more than 50% in this poll.
  • There's a strong partisan split on all the races except for governor, attorney general, and corporation commission -- Henry and Edmondson have the support of 28% and 25% of Republicans respectively, while Bob Anthony has the support of 25% of the Democrats.
  • 43% of the sample identified as very or somewhat conservative -- almost evenly divided between the two choices, 22% as very or somewhat liberal, 33% as moderate.
  • 61% said they attend church at least once a week.
  • In the strongly Republican 1st Congressional District, Henry leads Istook 55-36, Askins leads Hiett 49-41, and Edmondson leads Dunn 54-33. Treasurer Scott Meacham and his challenger Howard Barnett are in a dead heat in CD 1.
  • Even among very conservative voters, Henry has a 48% approval rating.

In the Examiner, Robert Cox points to the recent banning of conservative columnist Michelle Malkin at YouTube for "objectionable content" as an example of something he's been warning about for some time -- left-wing dominance of major Web 2.0 sites may push conservative ideas out of the 21st century equivalent of the public square:

Last week [Malkin] received notice from YouTube, the world’s most popular video sharing service, that her video had been deemed “offensive.” The result? Her account was terminated and her videos deleted.

YouTube refused to say why her videos were “offensive” and there was no avenue available to challenge the decision. Today, her videos are gone and her voice is suppressed on the most important video “node” on the Internet.

So? She can just show her videos somewhere else, can't she?

Of course she can, but that would fail to understand the powerful forces of “network externalities” at play online. There is no Avis to eBay’s Hertz for good reason: Once an online network is fully catalyzed, there is no reason to join an alternative network. If you want to get the most money for your Beanie Baby collection, you are going to want access to the most potential bidders — and that means eBay.

YouTube is poised to become the eBay of video file sharing. If you want the biggest audience for your video, you want access to the most potential viewers — and that means YouTube.

I'm less worried about YouTube, because you could still find Malkin's material on the web if it were being hosted by another site. But I am worried about the infrastructure that helps us find our way around the web. We are very dependent on Google, Technorati, del.icio.us, and those companies' willingness to be evenhanded in their treatment of web content. There's reason to be concerned: We already know that Google will alter search results to avoid giving offense in authoritarian and totalitarian countries.

What if these sites began to shun conservative content? While it would be possible to set up an alternative set of web search, blog search, and social bookmarking websites, we'd only be creating a conversation that is disconnected from the broader discussion about the issues. How would Google users, for example, realize that they aren't getting the best or most complete search results, and that they really should be using multiple search tools? Conservatives would wind up talking to each other -- to the rest of the world it would look like no one holds to conservative ideas anymore.

I don't know what the solution is, but as Robert Cox says, it's time to pay attention to the problem.

Tulsa Street Stories

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TU communications professor John Coward has set up a blog called Tulsa Street Stories as an experimental journalism project for his news gathering course.

In the coming weeks, the site will publish reporting and personal journalism by members of the Fall 2006 News Gathering class at TU. These stories will provide glimspes into the lives of interesting people in and around Route 66 and give TU journalism students an opportunity to share their writing and reporting with others interested in this 'grassroots' journalism project.

His students began by writing about restaurants and other places around Tulsa -- Claud's Hamburgers, Mario's Pizzeria, Tie-Dyes of Tulsa, Greenwood Avenue, the Tulsa Rose Garden, and (alas) Starbucks.

The mood is unique at Starbucks--it can't be compared to any other coffee shop that I have ever been to. I believe that every time I go to Starbucks I get the entire coffee shop experience. Maybe it's just by watching the people that work there, or maybe it's watching the customers enjoy their time, or maybe it's just the time I spend talking to the people that I with. No matter what the reason is, I always leave Starbucks satisfied and anticipating my next visit.

Someone get that young lady directions to Shades of Brown, stat!

The latest assignment is to write about a colorful character from Tulsa. Since many of the students are out-of-towners, it should be interesting to see what they learn about our city that we townies have overlooked.

UPDATE 2017/07/04: To my delight and surprise, Tulsa Street Stories is still online and was updated as recently as the spring semester of 2016. In January, students wrote stories about businesses in the TU neighborhood. In February, they wrote profiles of ordinary people they met out and about. In April, they tackled "Tulsa by the Numbers": News stories that involved analyzing statistics.

Damp dialogue

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This week's column in Urban Tulsa Weekly is a report and commentary on the public comment session of the Arkansas River Corridor Master Plan Advisory Committee regarding The Channels, held a week ago Tuesday, October 3, at OSU-Tulsa.

The copy editor is evidently bored with the topic, as my column was given the headline Poltergeist X. (It's actually the fifth column in a row that has had something to do with the islands-in-the-Arkansas plan.)

I, on the other hand, feel like I've found my muse again. It's not that I'm smitten by The Channels (which should be obvious), but the proposal has given me a jumping-off point to talk about many other important issues: How do we create interesting and lively urban places? What makes for walkable communities? What should we be doing to compete for population with other cities and with our own suburbs? What do we mean when we say we want river development?

I've uploaded several audio files and will be uploading more over the course of the evening, along with comments. This first group were mentioned in this week's column, so that you can hear for yourself what was said. These are all MP3 files, each less than 1 MB in size.

Also, don't miss my colleague Jamie Pierson's column, which covers the history of the relationship between Tulsa and the Arkansas, up to and including the Arkansas River Master Corridor Plan.

This ad about foreign policy, featuring Madeline Albright and Kim Jong-Il impersonators, was written and directed by David Zucker of Airplane!, Kentucky Fried Movie, and Naked Gun fame. It is funny, and it makes its point brilliantly. Some bozo at YouTube flagged it as possibly objectionable, which it isn't, except for a brief glimpse of the Albright impersonator's knickers.

I suppose veterans of the Clinton administration might object to it:





(A bit of fun with the green screen at the KJRH booth at the Tulsa State Fair last Saturday.)

Tomorrow's Tuesday, so I'll be on the radio as usual at 6:10 on 1170 KFAQ with Michael DelGiorno, and I'm sure one of the topics will be the editorial and front page story in Sunday's Whirled.

I don't have them ready yet, but by late Tuesday night I plan to post a number of clips from last Tuesday's public hearing of the Arkansas River Corridor Master Plan Advisory Committee regarding The Channels, which is also the subject of my UTW column coming out this Wednesday.

In May 1963, six months before his death, C. S. Lewis was interviewed by Sherwood E. Wirt at Magdalen College, Oxford. The first part of that interview is now online. In it, Lewis answers questions about the craft of writing, and contemporary authors that he found helpful. Lewis makes an interesting comment on Chesterton's statement that he joined the Church to get rid of his sins. Asked about his conversion, and whether he felt he had made a decision, he replied:

I would not put it that way. What I wrote in Surprised by Joy was that ‘before God closed in on me, I was offered what now appears a moment of wholly free choice.' But I feel my decision was not so important. I was the object rather than the subject in this affair. I was decided upon. I was glad afterward at the way it came out, but at the moment what I heard was God saying, ‘Put down your gun and we'll talk.'

Pastors.com promises to post part 2 of the interview next week.

Allen at Acorns from an Okie explains why you can't deal effectively with the greedy b*stards in the corporate world by making the Government more powerful:

Greedy Bastards are Greedy Bastards. Being greedy, they will gravitate to where the power is. They will be draw, like patchouli stenched peaceniks to a Chomsky book signing, to the seats of power and position. And being bastards, they will start back-stabbing and finagling their way into those positions of power.

And then those greedy bastards will be running the whole show, not just their company.

Read the whole thing.

At the heart of conservative philosophy is the insistence on seeing human nature as the stubborn thing it is, and designing government to harness its qualities for good, rather than trying foolishly to transform human nature.

One of the fascinating things about Tuesday night's public comment session regarding The Channels is how few of the people speaking were "the usual suspects" -- the sort of people who have turned out frequently in the past to comment either for or against a major tax initiative. Only a half-dozen or so of the speakers were familiar to me as people who are engaged in civic matters.

Two of the new faces belonged to Erin Johnson and Debi Sanditen, who have set up a group called Change the Channels. According to their website, the group's "goal is to examine and research questions about The Channels project, then responsibly bring forth our findings." They have a list of concerns, and they have links to related resources, including a letter from the Oklahoma Floodplain Management Association opposing The Channels

On the INCOG website, there is this PDF document laying out a timeline which would get The Channels ready for the Tulsa County Commissioners to put a sales tax on the ballot in December. The reason for targeting December is that Bob Dick will no longer be on the County Commission after January 1, and it's possible that Wilbert Collins will be defeated by John Smaligo in his re-election effort. They want this put on the ballot while the current commissioners, who have never met a sales tax increase they didn't like, are all still in office.

September 14, 2006 Tulsa County Commission Chairman requests Channels Plan Review by INCOG
September 22, 2006 Steering Committee briefing on Channels Project INCOG Conference Center, 201 W. 5th St.; 2:00 p.m.
no date listed Advisory Committee briefing on Channels Project Aaronson Auditorium, Tulsa Central Library
September 25, 2006 - October 13, 2006 Working Groups conduct technical review of proposed Channels project by functional area TBD
October 3, 2006 Advisory Committee public hearing on Channels project OSU Tulsa , Auditorium, North Hall Conference Center; 6:00 - 8:00 p.m.
October 12, 2006 INCOG Board briefing on Channels project Lecture Room, Tulsa Central Library
October 17, 2006 (week of) Advisory Committee reviews Working Groups functional reports and formulates comments on proposed Channels project TBD
no date listed Steering Committee reviews Advisory Committee comments and formulates recommendation to INCOG Board and Tulsa County Commission TBD
October 18, 2006 Planning Commission (TMAPC) briefing on Channels project Francis Campbell Meeting Room
November 1, 2006 TMAPC Public Hearing on proposed Channels project and possible Comprehensive Plan amendment Francis Campbell Meeting Room
November 9, 2006 INCOG Board considers approval of possible River Corridor Plan amendment to include Channels project and implementation strategies including other River projects Aaronson Auditorium, Tulsa Central Library
November 15, 2006 TMAPC considers possible resolution recognizing Channels project as a part of amended Arkansas River Corridor Master Plan and Comprehensive Plan Francis Campbell Meeting Room; 1:30 p.m.
November 21, 2006 Tulsa Stormwater Advisory Board briefing on Channels project Tulsa City Hall; 11th floor: 3:00 p.m.;
November 29, 2006 TMAPC approves minutes of November 15, 2006 meeting and transmits possible resolution to Tulsa City Council for approval Francis Campbell Meeting Room; 1:30 p.m.
December 5, 2006 Tulsa City Council (committee) presentation of Channels project and possible TMAPC resolution Tulsa City Council Meeting Room
December 7, 2006 Tulsa City Council considers approval of possible TMAPC resolution recognizing an amended River Corridor Plan including the Channels as a part of the Comprehensive Plan Francis Campbell Meeting Room
December 11, 2006 Tulsa County Board of County Commissioners considers approval of possible TMAPC resolution recognizing an amended River Corridor Plan including the Channels as a part of the Comprehensive Plan Tulsa County Commission Meeting Room

Except for the no date listed notations, the table above is as it appears in the linked PDF document.

It's unclear how much of the current phase of the process is going to be accessible to the public. Evidently Tuesday night was our chance to speak up for the benefit of the Arkansas River Corridor Master Plan Advisory Committee, although I haven't seen a list of members of that committee, and I don't know how many of them were in attendance Tuesday, other than Don Walker of Arvest Bank and mayoral aide Susan Neal, who each recognized as leaders of the committee. Then there is some sort of steering committee. If this process is to have the transparency which has been promised, the public needs to know who sits on these committees, and where and when they will meet.

In the previous issue of Urban Tulsa Weekly, I wrote that when Tulsans say they want river development, they are really seeking a lively promenade, a place to see people and to be seen. This week, I propose a way to make that kind of bustling promenade happen along the banks of the river between 11th and 21st Street, working within the existing river master plan.

I'd be very interested in your comments on this concept, and to that end I've started this thread over at The Voice of Tulsa forum.

They never last

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One of the "top sellers" at t-shirthumor.com. Found at White Knuckled Wanderer.

(That same blogger, Bill McNeal has an interesting item about how Fairfax County, Virginia, back in the '60s, screwed up their chance to benefit by the extension of the Washington Metro, and they're screwing it up again. By putting an elevated transit line down the middle of the freeway, they made it impossible to create dense development around the transit stops, which means the Metro line does less than it could to alleviate traffic problems.)

Bali Hai price

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The Fijian island of Vatu Vara is being offered for sale by Coldwell Banker Morrisons Private Islands. Also known as “Hat Island” after the 1,000-foot-high round mesa that dominates the center of the island, it’s described as “The Most Beautiful and Expensive Private Island in the World.” It’s about 2 miles across – about 4,000 acres in size, a hundred times bigger than the proposed archipelago in the Arkansas River.

The price tag: A mere $75,000,000, a tenth of The Channels’ $788 million cost. In fact, for the price of The Channels, you could buy the 100 most expensive islands offered for sale on www.luxuryrealestate.com and still have about $58,000,000 in change.

(Sandy Cay, in the Bahamas, the private island owned by the owners of Tulsa’s monopoly daily newspaper, is a bargain at a mere $2,675,000.)

Sliced Veggies

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I know this is an old story, but anyway: NBC will be airing episodes of Veggie Tales on Saturday morning, but they've made some alterations. Initially, NBC claimed that the edits were to meet the time constraints of commercial TV, but later they 'fessed up:

“NBC is committed to the positive messages and universal values of ‘VeggieTales,’” the statement said. “Our goal is to reach as broad an audience as possible with these positive messages, while being careful not to advocate any one religious point of view.”

Terry Mattingly at Get Religion comments:

This is a really interesting claim, since the key statement that has been banned is the VeggieTales motto used at the end of each episode, which is: “Remember kids, God made you special and he loves you very much.”

This statement was removed to avoid advocating “any one religious point of view.” This would be the controversial doctrinal point of view which maintains that God loves children. Of course, NBC leaders may have assumed that the statement that “God made you special” could be taken as an attack on evolution. That’s the ticket. Meanwhile, I should stress that Bob the Tomato does not do anything faith-specific while making this closing benediction, such as falling on his knees and making the sign of the cross. Bob the Tomato (see second image) does not have knees or arms.

What else was cut? Veggie Tales creator Phil Vischer provided some details to The Tennessean:

Eliminated lines from one episode included “Calm down. The Bible says we should love our enemies.” In another episode, Vischer said, NBC allowed the line “the Bible says Samson got his strength from God.” But the next line — “And God can give us strength, too” — was out.

The changes included cuts in dialogue where characters utter the word “God” and were so last-minute and awkward, Vischer said, that in some cases “it makes the stories not work very well.” For the sign-off, where the original words were simply voiced-over, “the lips don’t match, so it kind of looks like a Japanese cartoon with lips moving” out of synch with the words, he said.

A commenter on the Get Religion post points out the absurdity of NBC acquiring the rights to air Veggie Tales, but then stripping out the religious content:

This is like “Gunsmoke without the guns”....

But it still strikes me as mind blowingly stupid and ultimately self-defeating for NBC. They pay good money for a unique property that comes to them with a built in audience. They then proceed to deliberately remove the one thing that makes the property unique and valuable while simultaneously alienating said built in audience.

It reminds me of what CBS did when they gave Riders in the Sky their own Saturday morning show. The Riders perform cowboy music in the tradition of Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, and the Sons of the Pioneers, leavened with a lot of comedy that appeals to grownups and kids alike. (If they ever come to your town -- here's a list of tour dates -- take your family -- great music and a lot of fun.) I first got to know them through their weekly Riders Radio Theater. Every episode of the show features a sendup of the old Saturday morning cowboy serials, complete with bad guys (the mustache-twirling melodramatic Slocum and his goon Charlie) and their Gabby Hayes-like geezer of a sidekick, known as Sidemeat.

(This article, from 1997, does a good job of explaining what Riders in the Sky are all about.)

So CBS thought they'd be great for Saturday morning. They could do their cowboy stuff on TV -- but no guns. Not "no shooting guns" but "no guns visible at all." And the villains weren't allowed to be really villainous. This from the network that aired Gunsmoke.

(It must be noted that, even when they're allowed to have guns, the Riders' weapons of choice are Ranger Doug's hypersonic yodel and Sidemeat's biscuits -- "the hardest substance known to man.")

Not only do the networks not "get religion," I don't think they "get" much of anything outside of the very narrow perspective of Hollywoodland.

What she said

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In the comments to a post about yet another Republican congressman in hot water:

And yet you continue to blindly support this party, regardless of the number of times that items like this surface.

Borderline brainwashed. Facts don't matter anymore...
Posted by: New York Hotlist at October 5, 2006 03:47 PM

Ok, I'll go slow for you: I'M A CONSERVATIVE. The Republican party best represents my interests. There is NO WAY that the Democrats can represent me better. NONE.

What part do you need me to explain again? And, seriously, I'd cut the brainwashed crap out right now. Previous idiots who made similar comments were made to feel very, very small.
Posted by: Karol at October 5, 2006 03:52 PM

Am I proud that Mark Foley and Don Sherwood are Republicans? No. Do I have questions about the way the House leadership handled the Foley case? Yes. But in the battle for control of the Congress (and the State Legislature here in Oklahoma), it matters which party wins, which party controls the committee chairmanships.

Although we have Republican majorities in both houses of Congress and in the Oklahoma State House, we don't have a conservative majority in any of those bodies yet. That means that some conservative ideas don't get as far as they ought to. But if the Ds are in charge, conservative ideas won't even get a hearing. (Neither will conservative judicial nominees.)

Although passage of Sen. Tom Coburn's anti-pork Federal Spending Database bill had bipartisan support, it wouldn't have gotten off the ground if it weren't for the fact that Coburn holds a subcommittee chairmanship. Even in the Senate (much more in the House), a freshman member in the minority party isn't going to wield much influence. Keeping the Republicans in control gives solid conservatives a chance at making a difference on our behalf.

Three's a charm

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Congratulations to Dawn Summers of Clareified and Brian of An Audience of One, who both marked the completion of three years of blogging today. Dawn is an attorney in New York City. Brian is a public school administrator here in the Tulsa area. Not a lot in common, except that both are terrific writers. (And I have actually met each of them, exactly once.) Go visit their blogs and wish them a happy blogiversary.

Postcards from the hedge

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My birthday-mate Jan (we are exactly the same age) has been kind enough to humor my request that she post more of her postcard collection. The recent entries include postcards from the Eisenhower Center in Abilene, Kansas, various attractions in the redwood forests of northern California, and Indian City, U. S. A., in Anadarko, Oklahoma.

(The Eisenhower Center is an exemplar of the architectural style known as MidCentury Hideous. The town of Abilene, by way of contrast, is a beautiful place of tree-lined streets and Victorian architecture.)

(Note: There are plenty of cool and interesting mid-20th-century buildings. These aren't, however.)

This is one of my favorites of her recent postings: The Holiday Inn Topeka West. What's with the little gathering in the parking lot (lower right), and is the lot surfaced with something that dissolves tire treads?

The late, lamented Downtown Guy (OKC) blog (the blog is late, not the Downtown Guy) had a fascinating story about the underground Chinese community that existed in Oklahoma City until just after World War II. I don't mean underground in the metaphorical sense of out of the mainstream. I mean subterranean, with tunnels linking basements of various downtown buildings. Part of it was uncovered during construction of the Myriad Convention Center in the late '60s.

The story has resurfaced, as it were, in an extensive entry on Doug Loudenback's excellent blog on Oklahoma City history. And here's the article on Oklahoma City's underground Chinatown by Larry Johnson which Doug quotes at length. It's one of those exotic bits of history that the textbooks missed out on. Go check it out.

When I posted my entry, Will the real New Urbanism please stand up?, I also e-mailed the Congress for the New Urbanism to ask them what they knew about this website called newurbanism.org. That's the site that comes up as the first result on a Google search of the term "New Urbanism," but which contains a lot of radical rhetoric that goes well beyond anything I've heard advocated by a new urbanist planner or architect.

In response to my e-mail, I received a reply from Steve Filmanowicz, Communications Director for the Congress for the New Urbanism (emphasis added by me):

Thanks for contacting us and alerting us to the new content at the site, newurbanism.org. Newurbanism.org is an independent, one-person operation with no ties to the Congress for the New Urbanism and little to no apparent following among New Urbanists. The site is run by a person named Andy Kunz who registered the domain name years ago. Because of the confusion the site creates, and the misimpression it leaves with some visitors that it is a source of authoritative information about New Urbanism, CNU has asked him to surrender the domain name. Since CNU refused Kunz' demand of $30,000 in exchange for the rights to the domain, the site remains in his control, unfortunately.

Your blog entry featured an accurate and insightful description of New Urbanism, whereas NewUrbanism.org offers a distorted portrayal. While there are many environmental benefits associated with the compact, walkable neighborhood-based development promoted by New Urbanists (see information on the LEED-ND project at cnu.org), the calls for things such as bans on airport expansions and road extensions and mandates for widespread installations of solar roof panels are independent positions of Mr. Kunz that further reveal that his site is a highly unreliable source of information about its namesake.

As I mentioned previously, the authoritative source of information about the New Urbanist approach to architecture and urban planning is the Congress for the New Urbanism, and that organization's website is www.cnu.org. Mr. Filmanowicz said in his e-mail that a new and improved CNU website is to be released by November.

It appears to me that Andy Kunz is a cybersquatter, holding the domain name hostage. In fact, I wonder if he really is an overzealous environmentalist, or if he is deliberately posting these draconian ideas as a way to embarass CNU into paying him for the domain name.

Given the likelihood of confusion -- indeed, actual confusion, as Kunz's views have been attributed to the New Urbanist movement as a whole -- I wonder if there is a basis for the CNU to take legal action against Kunz, at the very least to require him to post a disclaimer on every page.

If not, Mr. Kunz has discovered an ingenious way to make an organization's life miserable: Grab a domain name that would logically belong to that organization, make it look professional and add enough detail to make it appear to the casual websurfer that this is an authoritative site about said group. (But carefully avoid stating that you are speaking on behalf of the group.) Then notify the group of your ransom demand. If they refuse to pay, add some off-the-wall content that would harm their reputation (but plausible enough so that the site still seems authoritative) and raise the price. Continue to raise the stakes until the victim pays up. The same strategy could be used against a public figure, such as a candidate for office.

I've got to hope that there are legal remedies to protect groups against that kind of attack.

This is the originally submitted version of a story that was published on October 4, 2006, in the October 5-11, 2006, edition of Urban Tulsa Weekly. The story as published can be found at the Internet Archive. Posted on BatesLine on March 23, 2016.

A promenade on the river
By Michael D. Bates

Last week we asked the question, "What are Tulsans really after when they say they want river development?" The answer is a lively public place, the sort of thing we've seen along the river in San Antonio or along the canal in Oklahoma City's Bricktown. We can see it closer to home, at Riverwalk Crossing in Jenks, where the chance to be in a place bustling with people is a draw regardless of the amount of water in the river.

We want a place where a short stroll takes you past a variety of activities and a variety of people. This kind of place has a name: A promenade.

The book A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction, provides this description:

"The promenade, 'paseo,' 'passegiata,' evening stroll, is common in the small towns of Italy, Spain, Mexico, Greece, Yugoslavia, Sicily, and South America. People go there to walk up and down, to meet their friends, to stare at strangers, and to let strangers stare at them.

"Throughout history there have been places in the city where people who shared a set of values could go to get in touch with each other. These places have always been like street theaters: They invite people to watch others, to stroll and browse, and to loiter...."

The human impulse still manifests itself, even in Oklahoma's car-dependent culture. Small-town teens cruise Main Street on a Friday night, while suburban teens gather at the mall not just to shop, but to connect with friends. Elements of the promenade pattern can be found in Tulsa's older neighborhood commercial areas, places like Cherry Street and Brookside and 18th and Boston, where it's possible to walk from your house to a neighborhood coffee shop or pub or restaurant.

I believe we can create this sort of place along the banks of the river. We can do it in accordance with the existing Arkansas River Corridor Master Plan. We can do it without sacrificing the natural qualities of the river. We can do it without raising taxes by $600 million.

The east bank between the 11th and 21st Street bridges may provide the best opportunity for creating that kind of place along Tulsa's stretch of the river.

One of the elements of a successful promenade is a concentration of people within a 10 or 15 minute walk -- close enough to be a realistic destination for an evening stroll. The neighboring area is one of the more densely settled parts of Tulsa: a historic neighborhood of single-family homes, several high-rise apartment and condominium buildings, and a number of low-rise apartment and condo complexes. It's within walking distance of the convention center and could be an amenity for out-of-town visitors as well.

It's also a convenient drive-to destination. The major commuter route along Riverside and Denver passes right by, making it an easy place to stop before heading home to south Tulsa. It's close to the hub of Tulsa's expressway network. At the same time, the two-lane continuation of Riverside north of Denver means that the park isn't cut off from the neighborhood.

(It also isn't cut off from the rest of the city by a 300-foot-wide moat, which means that people won't feel compelled to drive to get there.)

But convenience isn't sufficient to make a place work as a promenade. A Pattern Language observes that it must provide people with some sort of destination, "for example, clusters of eating places and small shops," and the centers of activity must be close enough together - they reckon no more than 150 feet apart - to prevent desolate and dead spots on the path. There needs to be a series of interesting places, each close enough to the next one to entice you a little further down the path. Finally, a promenade needs significant points of attraction at both ends to act as anchors.

The Arkansas River Master Corridor Plan calls for building a "promenade" - a kind of boardwalk - along the east bank between 11th and 21st. An expanded café near Riverside and Denver would act as the south anchor and the planned Route 66 museum and restaurant will provide an anchor for the north end of the site. There's already public money committed for improvements in this area - $5.25 million in the 2006 third-penny sales tax plan for the park, plus Vision 2025 money for the Route 66 facility.

What's missing is the in-between stuff. The space needs to be more commercial than it is, but not so developed that the natural beauty of the river is obscured or that joggers, dog walkers, and cyclists feel unwelcome.

Bryant Park in Manhattan is a good example of balancing the natural and the man-made in an outdoor public space. Although the context is different, many of the same amenities would work well here.

Like Bryant Park, this park should have free WiFi (to allow some people to do their work in the park), several food kiosks (at least one serving good coffee), and well-maintained restrooms. There ought to be chairs you can move, so you can choose to sit in the sun or the shade. It ought to be a place you could comfortably spend the whole day.

In Bryant Park, the public library has a small reading "room" - really an outdoor area - with novels and magazines and newspapers available to read. Another part of the park has tables for playing games - you can rent chess and backgammon sets. We could do something similar here.

There ought to be a couple of places to rent bicycles and rollerblades, and some place where you can buy sunscreen and bug spray in case you forgot yours at home. A carousel would be a summer-evening attraction, perhaps along with one or two other small, relatively quiet kiddie rides.

The actual mix of activities and amenities could change over time as we observe what attracts people and what doesn't. The kiosks and other permanent facilities should be flexible in their design. But they should be spread along the length of the park, with a major cluster of activity about halfway along, perhaps near Riverside and Galveston.

The area would be further enhanced by neighborhood-friendly mixed-use redevelopment along the east side of Riverside Drive between Galveston and Denver.

We shouldn't force it, but we should allow those aging apartment complexes, built in the '60s and '70s, to be replaced with well-built three- and four-story buildings which front the sidewalk with retail space on the ground floor, office space and apartments above, and maybe restaurants with roof gardens on the top floor, to take advantage of the view.

In the process of redeveloping that stretch, we should improve the connections between the neighborhood and the park, adding public stairways from Riverside up to streets like Elwood and Frisco that dead-end on top of the hill. Perhaps there could be a grand staircase connecting the Sophian Plaza building, done in the same majestic style as that landmark structure, leading to a major focal point of the park, like a sculpture fountain or the carousel.

This park isn't going to be the blockbuster destination that makes the world stand up and notice Tulsa. Indeed, no single project in one place, no matter how extravagant, will fix what ails our city.

Instead, we need to repair and enhance the urban fabric and the quality of life throughout the city. This park would be a model as we create pleasant and safe gathering places throughout the city, even the farthest reaches of north, east, south, and west Tulsa. At the same time, we need to take care of the basics - preventing crime, maintaining our streets, providing good schools.

That kind of steady and comprehensive strategy, not a desperate billion-dollar gamble, will make our city more beautiful and more attractive as a place to live, work, and visit.

If you'd like to talk more about this approach to river development, I invite you to visit thevoiceoftulsa.com, my favorite online discussion forum about local issues.

You'll have a chance tonight to voice your opinions about "The Channels" to the Arkansas River Corridor Master Plan Advisory Committee. Here's the press release:


Public Hearing for Arkansas River Channels Project to be held Oct. 3

The Arkansas River Corridor Master Plan Advisory Committee will host a public hearing to receive comments on the Arkansas River “Channels” project proposed by the Tulsa Stakeholders Inc (TSI).

The hearing will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., on Tuesday, Oct. 3, in the Auditorium in the North Hall Conference Center at the OSU Tulsa campus.

TSI will make a brief presentation on the “Channels” project at the beginning of the hearing. The primary purpose of the hearing is to elicit input from the public regarding the proposed Channels projects.

The Tulsa County Commissioners have asked the Arkansas River Corridor Master Plan Advisory Committee to review the “Channels” project.

The Advisory Committee guided development of the Arkansas River Corridor Master Plan, which has been recognized as part of the Tulsa Metropolitan Area Comprehensive Plan and was adopted by the Tulsa Metropolitan Area Planning Commission, the Tulsa City Council, and the Tulsa County Board of Commissioners.


And here's a link to the Arkansas River Corridor Master Plan.

This morning I heard some talk on the radio about "New Urbanism." The backers of The Channels -- the $788 million plan to build islands in the middle of the Arkansas River -- have made reference to the New Urbanist movement.

The discussion I heard this morning linked New Urbanism with radical environmentalism -- specifically, support for Al Gore's movie An Inconvenient Truth, calls for moratoria on road and airport construction and expansion, putting solar panels on every building in America, and calls to divert the U. S. defense budget for the complete remaking of the American landscape.

I've been hearing about and reading about New Urbanism for the last 10 years or so, and that's not the movement I'm familiar with. The New Urbanism I know is about relearning lessons from our past about how to build neighborhoods, towns, and cities that are pleasant and safe places to live.

The traditional approach to urban development got lost around the end of World War II, when the theoreticians took over and began to use the power of government to make city development fit their theories. The theoreticians were more interested in putting things in neat categories, rather than understanding and appreciating the complexity present in a healthy city. Government engaged in market-distorting activities that subsidized the construction of new suburbs and the building of infrastructure to serve those new suburbs over the restoration of existing neighborhoods and existing infrastructure. Zoning codes required the strict separation of homes from shops from workplaces, on the grounds that there was something inherently unsanitary about living within walking distance of a grocery store. New neighborhoods were built without basic civic infrastructure like small parks and sidewalks. When older, traditional neighborhoods were devalued by the government-subsidized construction of new neighborhoods, or split in two by Federally-funded freeways, the Federal government then provided funds to bulldoze those traditional neighborhoods, often to remake them after the suburban model. And Federal and local government policies have in turn molded private lending and development practices to encourage more of the same.

The post-WWII approach to development, which has dominated local and Federal government policies for over 50 years, has more in common with Communist centralized planning than the free market and traditional American values.

New Urbanism is an attempt to relearn the traditional way of building cities and adapt it to modern circumstances. New Urbanists are involved in preserving traditional, walkable, mixed-use neighborhoods where they exist and in creating new developments in the traditional style, while incorporating the kind of modern amenities that we expect in our homes and workplaces. Sometimes these new developments are infill, replacing obsolete industrial or commercial sites ("brownfields", dead malls, rundown strip shopping centers) or vacant land in the midst of a city.

Some examples of New Urbanist projects:

Here in the Tulsa area, New Urbanism's influence can be seen in the proposed East End development and the Village at Central Park, and in the neighborhood plans for Brookside, 6th Street (the Pearl District), Brady Village, and east Tulsa's 21st Street corridor.

When I think of New Urbanism, the names of three urban planners immediately come to mind: Andres Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk and Peter Calthorpe. These planners have been involved in countless innovative new developments and redevelopments around the world.

While I've heard New Urbanists tout the environmental benefits of more compact traditional neighborhoods, I haven't heard them advocating any radical anti-human environmental policies. So I was surprised at what I heard on the radio this morning, and I did a Google search on the phrase "New Urbanism."

The first hit was a site called newurbanism.org. Sure enough, here were all the radical proposals that were being mentioned on the air this morning.

I did some digging through the site, but I never could find out the name of the individual or organization who had set up the site. I went to completewhois.com to find out who owned it, and this was the result (the same info was provided for admin and tech contacts):

Registrant ID: 39693217-NSI
Registrant Name: New Urbanism.org LLC
Registrant Organization: NewUrbanism.Org, LLC
Registrant Street1: 824 King St, Suite 103
Registrant Street2:
Registrant Street3:
Registrant City: Alexandria
Registrant State/Province: VA
Registrant Postal Code: 22314
Registrant Country: US
Registrant Phone: +1.1231231234
Registrant Phone Ext.:
Registrant FAX:
Registrant FAX Ext.:
Registrant Email: email@newurbanism.org

Note that the phone number is fake, and you can't find a phone number or a name anywhere on the website.

The real, credible website for the New Urbanist movement is www.cnu.org, the Congress for the New Urbanism. You can read a history of the organization, founded in 1993, here. You will not find a radical Earth First manifesto here. In fact, here is a Flash-animated tour explaining what New Urbanism is all about.

Last week's Jenks Journal has an interview with Brent Gordon, an Oklahoma Wildlife Department biologist based in Jenks, about the tremendous amount of rubbish and debris in the Arkansas River:

Gordon says he would like to see someone get concerned about other things in the river - junk - everything from Wal-Mart shopping carts to remnants of yesteryear's visionaries....

Gordon says he has not seen any thing in the paper work nor has he heard any discussion about what is to become of the huge pieces of metal, mounds of steel cable, overall trash, shopping carts and steel pipes so prevalent in the river.

"Are we just going to flood the river over this stuff," he questions.

A call to Wal-Mart about the carts only brings a shrug. Who can prevent people from pushing the carts off the side of the nearby drainage ditch where the next downpour will deposit them into the river. The Wal-Mart logos on the handles are still visible on some of the carts. Others, as many as two dozen are all but buried in the sand.

Less likely to disappear, except by raising the water level are huge amounts of what looks like old oilfield and construction equipment. Pipes are everywhere, some protruding vertical from the river bed and bubbling.

A huge, broken barge or perhaps the remnants of Jenks old ferry system rests near bank erosion and other junk at the bank at the north side of the RiverWalk development. Except where old concrete, brick and building parts have been dumped, high dollar real estate is gully washing into the river.

On the TulsaNow forum, Steve Smith, who used to run airboat tours on the Arkansas, comments:

I have made note to anyone who cares to listen of the debris scattered along the river. No one has really cared. Since the river has been invisible to passing traffic it suffers from "out of sight-out of mind". It is particularly bad under the bridges where old bridge structures were just pushed into the river making for future difficulty in navagation. That is a state responsibility.

Some may find it hard to believe, but it gets worse the farther downstream you go. Jenks debris is much more visible because of the lower water levels and increased populations in that area. Lighting their pedestrian bridge really shows off the trash. Much of it is oilfield equipment but equally to blame are sand dredging companies. Oil company cleanups that are advertised on TV restoring Blue Bird camps need to spend some of that money reclaiming the pipelines and driiling equipment they left in the river. Sand dredging companies need to follow suit and the state needs to hold contractors liable.

Back in August, in an Urban Tulsa Weekly column, I wrote about the reaction to a set of five modest proposals (the CORE proposals) to address historic preservation in downtown Tulsa.

TulsaNow has put together a compelling seven-minute video in support of downtown historic preservation. Click the play button below to watch:

The video's narrator (I think it's TulsaNow board member Sarah Kobos) mentions that Tulsa is second in the country for the percentage of its downtown devoted to surface parking lots. (Who's number one? And if we try hard, can we catch up? ;) ) Take a look at the map below (click to enlarge), and you won't doubt it for a minute:

The video spotlights some of the dramatic architecture seen on and inside historic downtown Tulsa buildings, but it also rightly points out the importance of modest older buildings to downtown's revitalization. Of the 30 restaurants and nightclubs open on evenings and weekends in downtown (not including the ones in the hotels), 28 of them are in older buildings. Older buildings provide an affordable incubator for new businesses.

The only point that I might have added to the video is one I made in my column on the topic: that the large amount of public investment in downtown, specifically for the purpose of downtown revitalization, makes it reasonable for the public to protect its investment by putting in place these moderate historic preservation measures.

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