Neal down and prey

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The Tulsa Whirled has rearranged the deck chairs on the Titanic moved editorial pages editor Ken Neal into semi-retirement as "senior editor and columnist." Neal has been an editorial writer for the Whirled since 1976 and editor of the editorial pages since 1994. He will be replaced as editor by David Averill, who has been an editorial writer since 1985.

Don't expect much to change. The five members of the editorial board (including Julie Del Cour, Janet Pearson, and Mike Jones) all march in lockstep and proudly so. At a speech given by Neal in early 2005, I asked him about the lack of disagreement between the Whirled's local columnists:

I commended Mr. Neal on the diversity of his syndicated columnists but asked why there was a lack of diversity of opinion on local issues. He seemed puzzled by my question. I pointed out that you never read Julie DelCour writing that Ken Neal was wrong about something or Ken Neal writing that David Averill was wrong about something. The board is uniformly supportive of any tax increase -- something Neal openly acknowledged a few weeks ago. The board is also uniformly negative about the reform majority on the Tulsa City Council.

His reply was about what I expected: The Whirled is a private company, not a public institution. We have the right to push our opinions and our ideas.

I wasn't questioning the Whirled's right to publish what they wished, just suggesting that the lack of diverse opinion on local issues was a flaw in need of correction. Neal went on to cite the decades of experience of each of the editorial board members, many of them with years of experience covering City Hall. Because they're all so intimate with the way City Hall works, naturally they're all in agreement over how City Hall ought to be run.

He went on to say, regarding the public subsidy of Great Plains Airlines, that "everybody in town thought it was a great idea. It was a Chamber deal." This was a revealing comment. Of course there were people who publicly objected to the plan, including two members of the City Council:

To the Whirled editorial writers, and their allies in the Cockroach Caucus, city politics is utter simplicity. If it's a "Chamber deal," it must be good, and of course, "everybody in town" thinks it's a good idea. Anyone who disagrees is by definition a naysayer, an anti-progress crank, and therefore is beneath notice, no matter how well he can argue his position. The result is an inbred intellectual environment with imbecility as a predictable result.

As for Mr. Averill, I received an education in his mindset when he and Del Cour interviewed me during my 2002 run for City Council:

Given my opposition to "It's Tulsa's Time", I figured a new downtown arena would be the dominant topic. Instead, they were most interested in my positions on three issues. First, they wanted to know my position on abortion. I told them I am pro-life, and that I believe that we have an obligation to protect innocent, defenseless human life. They told me not to worry and that the Whirled sometimes endorses "anti-choice" candidates.

The second key issue was whether I approved of the use of government condemnation to "assemble" land for private redevelopment. Clearly they supported the notion. I told them I felt it was an abuse of the power of eminent domain. And they wanted to know where I stood on the six-laning of Riverside Drive, a pet project for them -- I oppose it because of the effect on the park and neighborhood, and said so.

After the Whirled made an unusually early endorsement of my opponent, I called Averill and asked him why:

He told me that my support for neighborhood empowerment (through the use of urban conservation districts) was why they wouldn't endorse me. Averill said that neighborhoods had opposed every good thing that had happened to Midtown, and they shouldn't be given any more clout to oppose progress. I cited several counter-examples to his assertion, but he was not interested in discussing the matter further.

The bottom line for the Whirled was this: If elected to the Council, I would be an obstacle to their vision for the redevelopment of Midtown, because I would work to protect the rights of homeowners and other property owners and make them a part of the decision-making process. I believe that we can accommodate growth and new development without endangering the character of our older neighborhoods, and with a minimum of red tape and regulation.

Of course, the Whirled's endorsement editorial was not so plain-spoken and made no mention at all of land use, zoning, or eminent domain. These issues did not figure in their news coverage of the race or in their last minute editorial, which blasted me for making no constructive contribution to the community, in their view. They did not dare give zoning and planning issues any exposure, because they know that their position is unpopular, particularly in Midtown.

Under David Averill, as under Ken Neal, the Whirled will continue to back higher taxes at every opportunity, to fight broad public involvement in making important city decisions, to work against the interests of ordinary homeowners and in favor of special deals for special people, to ridicule traditional values and conservative opinions on social issues, and to support the Culture of Death. Despite improvements in other sections of the paper, the editorial pages under David Averill will continue to drive subscribers away.

(For a walk down memory lane with Ken Neal's pontifications, click this link for a Google search of the BatesLine archives.)

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XonOFF said:

A passing of the cape...

And, You thought Neal looked bad naked.
Perhpas Averill won't be so prone to high places.

Robert Pinney said:

I feel honored, Ken and crew interviewed me three times. Here's a challenge, find a candidate other than myself, who received an "anyone but him" endorsement. (FYI My secret- point out their stupidity and hypocrisy)
Robert Pinney

Dan Paden said:

It's weird how families can contain all sorts. I used to be fairly well acquainted with David Averill's brother, and he is so dissimilar to David in his outlook that it is scary: a thoroughly Baptist musician, talented at darn near everything he tries, politically conservative (to the degree I discussed such things with him). He and I used to go on church visitation fairly regularly with one another. About all he'd say about David, though, was that they didn't agree on some things.

Perhaps David will eventually come 'round.

Thanks for the reminder not to pick up a Whirled for my Sunday coupons anymore.
Neal makes me want to vomit in my boots and then work in them all day. Sorry, but he really does. He would not have the power that he seems to think he possesses without the backing of such a large, liberal bloat.
Were the Whirld to fall apart around him, what would he do then?
One chip at a time. Eventually, they will lose so much readership, they will have to change their ways.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on January 3, 2007 11:54 AM.

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