June 2007 Archives

You know those big "bingo card" surveys that ask about your interests, income, hobbies, age, etc.? Sometimes you fill one out to qualify for a free subscription to a professional magazine.

The point of such a survey is to put together a demographic profile which can then be used to attract advertisers who want to reach the kind of people who read the magazine. And by attracting advertisers, the magazine generates sufficient revenue to offer the magazine for free to subscribers.

BatesLine has always been and will always be free of charge to the reader, but it isn't free of charge to me. There are hosting, domain, and other Internet fees to be paid. It costs money -- more than ever -- to attend meetings over lunch and dinner and to drive to events around town and around the state. The laptop needs occasional repairs and upgrades. (My laptop is five years old, but over the years it's had a new video connector, new keyboard, new battery (twice), new motherboard, new hard drive, and -- as soon as its delivered -- a new DVD drive.) I've bought a couple of pieces of equipment -- a digital voice recorder and a digital camera that also shoots video -- to help me capture information to be presented here.

You can support BatesLine directly by making a donation via PayPal (click the DONATE button on the right side of the home page) or buying an ad.

But now there's a way you can support BatesLine financially that will cost you nothing but a few minutes of your time.

It's called the Blog Reader Project, a sort of online version of those bingo cards with questions about your web surfing and online buying habits, your interests, and your affiliations. You can skip over any questions you don't want to answer. Because the survey is being handled by a third party, your answers are anonymous. I'll only see the totals in aggregate.

As an incentive to participate, at the end of the survey there's a place to leave your e-mail address. I'll pick an e-mail address at random to receive a $10 Amazon gift certificate. (If a large number of readers participate, I may give away additional gift certificates.) Your e-mail address will NOT be tied to your survey responses.

Your honest, anonymous answers to the survey questions should help me attract advertisers who offer the sorts of products, services, and information that you'd be interested in. And that will help me continue to fund BatesLine.

Ready? Click here to complete the survey. Thanks for your help.

If you don't currently have AT&T DSL service, you're eligible for their basic $10 a month plan if you're anywhere in AT&T's service area, even if you've been told that (up until now) DSL is not available for your phone number. It's part of the price AT&T is paying for the privilege of reassembling itself, according to Eric Bangeman at Ars Technica:

AT&T has quietly begun offering DSL service for $10 per month for new customers. Offered as part of the concessions the telecom made to the Federal Communications Commission in order to gain approval for its merger with BellSouth, the speed is nothing to get excited about: 768Kbps down and 128Kbps up.

AT&T is also doing little to publicize the new offering. In fact, I was only able to discover any reference to the low-price service by clicking on the Terms and Conditions link at he bottom of AT&T's residential high-speed Internet product page. A note on AT&T Yahoo! High-Speed Internet buried six paragraphs down says that the "basic speed ($10.00)" tier is available to new customers only, those who have not subscribed to AT&T or BellSouth DSL during the past 12 months, and the service requires a one-year contract.... In addition, AT&T must offer broadband to 100 percent of all residential living units in its territory, with 85 percent of that delivered by wire.

This is good news for people like my parents, who, although they live in a subdivision in the City of Tulsa, have been told that AT&T can't deliver DSL to their number. Their only option for broadband has been far more expensive cable Internet.

(Hat tip to Patric Johnstone.)

For the second year in a row, the Memorial Veterans Association is holding an Independence Day barbecue for U. S. military veterans. Here is the invitation with all the details.

CentennialVeteransBBQ-sm.jpg
INVITATION

From: WW II veteran Bob Powell, President of Memorial Veterans Association

WHO: All Tulsa area veterans -- any service, any war -- ESPECIALLY Iraq, Afghanistan or other current conflict.

WHEN: Wednesday, July 4th, 10:00 AM

WHAT: Free Independence Day BARBECUE LUNCH. Menu: Choice of five (5) meats, coleslaw, potato salad, baked beans, rolls -- and Ice-Cold LEMONADE.

NO HARD LIQUOR, DRUGS, OR ROUGH STUFF. TPD will be present - EMSA will be there.

WHY: "WELCOME HOME" to veterans who have returned, or are scheduled to return from the Middle East conflicts. Tulsa's way to say "THANK YOU" for your Service -- to SALUTE YOU for a "JOB WELL DONE!"

WHERE: Chandler Park, 6500 West 21st Street, Shelter Area #2, west end.

HOW: Drive west on W. 21st Street to Avery Drive, turn short at the hillside sign: "CHANDLER PARK", drive up the steep hill and proceed to the gate -- just follow the signs.

Assembly starts at 1000 hours -- There will be a program with flag detail, firing squad and speaker -- entertainment -- then lunch is served at 1100 hours.

THIS IS A PICNIC, Troops -- so, bring your own chairs, plenty of nice green grass to sit on.

HANDICAPPED? Boy Scouts Troop #1 and #19 will be there to assist you.

As last year, Councilor John Eagleton and his barbecue team will be up all night tending the smoker. If you're a veteran and will be in town on July 4, you'll want to be here -- Eagleton Bros. Barbecue is a special treat.

Pat Fox responds to a lament about the demise of the Civic Center:

From an urban design perspective, Tulsa's Civic [Center] Plaza is a typical example of late 50's/60's thinking on public architecture. Government center in Boston is another example that is almost universally derided as an urban planning and urban design disaster. Far from providing a democratic, pedestrian friendly gathering place, these plazas actually discourage free assembly.

From the brutalist architecture of the convention center, to the tilt up aggregate walls of the police and municipal courts building, the civic plaza is a most unappealing place to sit, walk, or be. The library and the Francis Campbell Council building are it's most redeeming features, but the library is long outdated for functions of a modern library. City hall's public entrance is not on civic plaza as you'd expect, but below "ground" level in a dark, musty garage. The sloped sides of the planters prevent any resting or sitting, the fountain is empty because it leaks, and the county courthouse has so much mold in it, one of the judges who presides there considered filing suit recently. By the way, a large portion of our "paper" county records are kept in the basement of that building. If the Belvedere flooded because of the water table...you get the point.

I know firsthand that Boston's Government Center is a planning disaster, one of the least inviting public places in the world. The ultimate test of a public place is not whether there are people there in the architect's concept sketches, but whether people (normal people) want to linger there.

The concept of a six-block Tulsa Civic Center was an enormous mistake. Closing 5th Street to traffic only compounded the error. And when you realize that it replaced a tree-lined mixed-use area with three-story apartment buildings -- well, planners back then didn't appreciate the role that nearby residential areas played in the health of a central business district.

I recently photographed most of the articles in the Tulsa Civic Center vertical file at the Central Library and posted the photos on Flickr. The file contains news clippings mainly from the 1950s about the selection of the area (in 1952), what was there before the civic center, the area's appraisal and acquisition, the failure of bond issues to build the city's facilities, early concepts, including a 14,000 seat arena and a new facility for the Gilcrease collection, an explanation for the decision to deviate from the original award-winning plan, a protest from downtown merchants over the closing of 5th Street, complaints from patrons of the arts about the decision to defer construction of a new performance space, and, finally, a brochure from 1969 showing the new City Hall and Police Courts building.

IMG_1783

Saturday, after attending the three public hours of a five-hour City Council meeting on whether to move city offices to One Technology Center, I called my wife and suggested we head up to Woolaroc for the remainder of the afternoon. I picked up my son from a sleepover, and, after the usual hour or so required to prepare for the long trek (approx. seven hours away from home), we left, following a stop at McDonald's to get food (lunch at 2 -- kids were on a late schedule) and the library (needed to renew some books).

Got a bit lost trying to navigate the Matoaka shortcut, which heads west from US 75 on Road 24. The landmark used to be (35 years ago) a Moose Lodge, now it's a Christian school. My handy "Roads of Oklahoma Atlas" helped get me sorted out.

We got to Woolaroc about 3 -- two hours before closing. (We were told our admission would be good through Sunday, if we wanted to return. 11 and under are free, adults are $8, $7 with a AAA card.)

They were having a kids festival. The day was sunny and muggy. The big kids tried their hand at hurling spears with rubber points, then played at giant croquet, rolling rubber balls almost as big as they were through four-foot tall wickets.

I took the little one inside the museum, while the big kids explored some of the other special outdoor activities. He was very amused by the moving diorama of the Crow Indian dance.

Woolaroc Museum is home to the bronze models submitted in the design competition for the Pioneer Woman Monument in Ponca City. I'd seen them before, but it was interesting to look again since the pioneer woman concept appeared in so many of Oklahoma's state quarter designs. There are some impressive alternate designs -- one shows a woman and child pressing on, with her husband, shot through with an arrow, lying dead at her feet -- but I think they chose the right one, with the right balance of optimism and determination.

Jim Hamilton's statue, Dance of the Mountain Gods, with the antenna-like headgear and the long knives, looks to me like an ancient astronaut come down to do some serious cattle mutilatin'.

With only one kid in tow, and him in a stroller, I had time to take a closer look at the beautiful patterns on the Pueblo pottery.

We browsed a bit in the shop. There's a new book out called The Royal Air Force in Oklahoma, by Paula Carmack Denson. It is a detailed account, with many photographs, of the RAF flying schools in Ponca City and Miami, with complete rosters of the students. (You may know that two RAF flyers, who died in a training accident near Tulsa, are buried at Memorial Park Cemetery in Tulsa.)

The big kids and I finished our brief time at Woolaroc with a walk along the rocky paths between the lodge and Lake Clyde. They remember walking down there last summer when we came up for a cousin's wedding. We bought a couple of snow cones and headed back to the van to meet Mom and the toddler.

Next stop Bartlesville. The intention was to look around, eat dinner, then go to the Bartlesville Playground (aka the Kiddie Park) when it opened at 7. The toddler would be big enough now to sit up and ride most of the rides.

As the weather turned from sun to gloom, I gave the kids a tour of Dad's historical sites -- the house we lived in on Delaware Street (demolished) which was walking distance from Dr. Denyer's office across the street (demolished), the Thunderbird Cafe (now an antique shop), our church (First Baptist), the Sani-Pool (demolished), Johnstone Park, and my dad's office (the Cities Service Bldg., now home to RSU's Bartlesville campus). We drove south past Aunt Connie and Uncle Dan's house on Dewey Street, McKinley School where cousin Kelley went to kindergarten in 1968-69 (I was 11 days too young to start the same year), and then to 1617 Rogers, near Jane Phillips Elementary School, where we moved in 1967 after my little sister was born. Our family lived in Bartlesville from approximately May 1965 to July 1969, when we moved, following Cities Service, to Tulsa.

As heavy rains moved in, we headed to Mr. Limey's Fish and Chips (est. 1969), in the once ultra-modern Comanche Center at the corner of Comanche and Frank Phillips. We all had fish and chips. With a late lunch, their half-order (one filet and a few fries), was plenty for me. I used my Treo to check the weather and learned there was a storm headed our way. I began to consider options. One possibility, quickly dismissed, was to drive another hour north to Independence, Kansas, and Riverside Park, which has a train and a carousel and some wonderful retro playground equipment, but we might get there only to hit more bad weather.

Although the rain had stopped by the time we left the restaurant, the Kiddie Park had decided to close to be on the safe side. The backup plan was to head to the Red Apple Bowling Center for some indoor fun.

The clerk at the desk presented me with a confusing and expensive array of options. We could rent a lane for a couple of hours -- about $55 for five people. We could buy individual lines of bowling. We could rent a lane for the rest of the night. I just wanted for four people to bowl a game, maybe two each. He wound up charging me $34 for one lane for an hour, with shoes, for four people. (Little Bit can't manage a 6 pound ball just yet.)

The kids had a good time. Eventually we figured out we could ask to have the bumpers put up. The six-year-old was offered the ball ramp to use, but she preferred to shove the ball down the lane by herself.

The balls were marked to make it easier to spot one that might work. The weights are printed in big numbers, and different colors are used for different weights. There are five or six standard hole sizes, which were also marked in large letters. I learned that for me a medium is too small (couldn't get thumb all the way in) and a large is way too big (thumb had too much space).

No one else there seemed to be familiar with bowling etiquette. I remember being schooled on where you could walk, where you couldn't walk, when you could start your approach and when you should hold off, how to pick up a ball, etc., when I took free lessons at Sheridan Lanes as a kid. The lessons were reinforced during the years I bowled in a youth league at Tiffany Bowl (now Plaza Santa Cecilia). Many customers seemed to think the area between the foul lines and the ball returns was just another walkway. Parents let their kids wander around on the approaches when they weren't bowling, heedless of the danger.

Even though it took some time to get shoes on, find bowling balls, and get the scoreboard setup, our hour started right away, and promptly one hour after the clerk rang me up, the lane went dark, about two frames into the second game. It was just as well -- it was nearly 9 and time to head home.

It did occur to me that I could have let the kids go nuts in the bowling center's video arcade for an hour and probably spent less than we did on bowling.

The Kiddie Park being closed was a disappointment, but I think we managed to salvage the day.

ELSEWHERE: It looks like a couple of other bloggers had some great family fun this weekend. See Dubya found an oasis of red state red meat in the midst of blue, blue California -- a rodeo -- and he brought back some great photos and a very entertaining write-up, in which he tries to explain to leftists how thrilling a rodeo is to a patriotic conservative. (You just need to read it.)

In conclusion, I am still so high and aroused from the weekend's potent brew of vicarious testosterone, jingoism, and aerosolized horse poo that I'm ready to jump on a Brahma bull and go invade North Korea. Or vote for Fred Thompson. Yee-ha!

And fellow former Bartian Brandon Dutcher spent the day with his family at Frontier City and has photos.

My UTW column this week was also about the proposal to move City Hall to One Technology Center at 100 S. Cincinnati. Most of the questions I posed were raised in one form or another, and most were answered, although I won't say that my fears were allayed. (Don Himelfarb couldn't answer my question about the true operating costs of the first year, operating in both old and new facilities.)

I had two related feature stories in the issue, a report on the unearthing and unveiling of the buried car, and a look back at the Tulsarama! celebration in 1957 -- it was a huge city-wide celebration, plagued by at least as much rain as we've seen so far this year. It was much more than burying a time capsule and a car.

I'm pleased with the way the Tulsarama! story came out, but it isn't the comprehensive Tulsa 1957 story I wanted to do. I just ran out of time and couldn't get my arms around it. I have gathered a ton of material, looking through old city directories and planning documents, and receiving the reminiscences of Tulsans who were around in 1957. The article I wrote just scratches the surface, and I intend to provide more here and hopefully in future feature stories. The story of the major comprehensive planning effort that began in 1957 is a story that we need to know as we begin assembling yet another comprehensive plan.

Also in the current issue, Brian Ervin has a story on the difference of opinion about how many police officers Tulsa needs, with the Mayor and her interim police chief on one side and the Fraternal Order of Police on the other side.

UPDATE: Regarding the Belvedere, reader Richard Randall offered this interesting (and frightening) perspective:

We wonder why all of the bridges in Tulsa (and Oklahoma) are falling apart. Most of them were designed and built around the same time as the vault (give or take some years) by some of the same engineers. It seems to show just how well they designed and built some things back then and today, when it is built by the cheapest bidder. Growing up my dad had always talked about how bad the car would look when it came out (He worked at his dads construction company at the time the vault was built). He knew that the vault would fill up with water, by the design they used. Had they looked to the oil industry, they would have learned that water will find a way into anything. The best thing to use would have been a 1 to 2-inch steel box welded shut and encased in concrete. This would have withstood the fifty years. They did seem to grasp that idea a little bit. The time capsule was steel, (not sure if it was welded shut). Everything in it was in great condition.

Not only that, but the same engineers were probably responsible for designing the Civic Center's leaky and crumbling subterranean garage. (Maybe not crumbling any more. I haven't heard a report of falling concrete in some time.) One of the interesting facts that emerged in today's Council meeting about the proposed City Hall move -- about $16 million of that $24 million in deferred maintenance is related to the underground parking garage.

Actually, it isn't secret. It has been officially posted, but it seems to have been scheduled for a time (Saturday morning at 8:30, in room 201 of the City Hall tower) that would be unlikely to draw spectators, and it appears that part or possibly most of the meeting will be conducted behind closed doors in executive session. Here's the agenda:

Unless otherwise noted, the Council may discuss and/or review the following items:

01. Discussion regarding the proposed consolidation of City offices at One Technology Center located at 100 S. Cincinnati Ave. 07-529-3

02. Council may consider a motion to enter Executive Session pursuant Title 25 O.S. Section 307 (B)(3) to discuss the purchase of the One Technology Building. 07-529-4

03. Leave Executive Session regarding the discussion related to the proposed consolidation of City offices at One Technology Center. 07-529-5

04. Adjournment

The cited section of law includes the following item in a list of permitted purposes for executive sessions of public bodies:

Discussing the purchase or appraisal of real property;

The law further provides in subsection D:

An executive session for the purpose of discussing the purchase or appraisal of real property shall be limited to members of the public body, the attorney for the public body, and the immediate staff of the public body. No landowner, real estate salesperson, broker, developer, or any other person who may profit directly or indirectly by a proposed transaction concerning real property which is under consideration may be present or participate in the executive session.

While the discussion of the purchase or appraisal of One Technology Center is a valid reason for going into executive session, I would argue (and I hope that the councilors and other members of the press argue) that discussing the total costs of moving to OTC, the estimate and comparison of operating costs in the current facilities and at OTC, the sources of funds for a move to OTC, and any other aspect of moving city offices to a new building are not within the legally permitted reasons for an executive session and should be discussed in open session.

UPDATE, Saturday 1:00 p.m.: I was there this morning, and they spent three hours in open session covering a wide range of issues. I was proud of the job the City Council did this morning. Vice Chairman John Eagleton did a fine job of keeping the meeting on track. (Chairman Roscoe Turner had been scheduled to be out of town before the meeting was called.) Councilor Bill Martinson presented his analysis of the financial situation along with a list of questions drawn from his years in the real estate business. Every councilor had some significant question or point to make about the financial analysis presented by the Mayor's office. More details later, and in my column.

PETA president Ingrid Newkirk to Michael Moore (PDF file), on the release of his new film about America's health care system:

Although we think that your film could actually help reform America’s sorely inadequate health care system, there’s an elephant in the room, and it is you. With all due respect, no one can help but notice that a weighty health issue is affecting you personally. We’d like to help you fix that. Going vegetarian is an easy and life-saving step that people of all economic backgrounds can take in order to become less reliant on the government’s shoddy healthcare system, and it’s something that you and all Americans can benefit from personally.

PETA's never been known for tact.

(Via Weasel Zippers.)

Oh, heck, let's pile on with some Weird Al:

The winning guess from 50 years ago has been identified. Someone named R. E. Humbertson, place of birth Cumberland, Maryland, date of birth July 8, 1921, guessed that Tulsa's population in 2007 would be 384,743. He was off by 2,286; the official Census Bureau estimate, as of June 1, 2007, was 382,457. The next nearest guess belonged to Mrs. Houston I. Shirley, Jr., who guessed 385,555.

The tally was dependent on a paper log of submitted entries and a few postcards. A roll of what may have been microfilm was presented to the Tulsa Historical Society. After being soaked in distilled water for three days, it was found to contain -- nothing.

It surprises me that only 812 guesses were submitted. Of that number, 25 were illegible.The median guess was 691,829. 148 people guessed a population of a million or higher. Only 68 people guessed a number less than the actual result.

The 1957 Polk Directory, using information supplied by the Tulsa Chamber of Commerce, reported an estimated population of 254,100, and a land area of 41.03 sq. mi. The city is now more than four times as big in land area (182.7 sq. mi.), and if we had maintained the same population density, the population would be 1,131,466.

I suspect that, if you were to measure the population today within the city's 1957 boundaries, you'd be at about 120,000, less than half.

At the announcement, at East Tulsa Dodge, it was mentioned that we don't have the 1957 address for any of the entries -- just name, date of birth, and place of birth. (In some cases, we only had Mrs. plus the husband's name.) Event chairman Sharon King Davis asked whether anyone had a 1957 phone book, so we could find out where Mr. or Mrs. Humbertson lived. I said try the library. Central Library not only has phone books for most years going back to the 'teens, but they have at least one city directory for each year. Someone else noted that there was a directory in the time capsule. It would be interesting to look up Humbertson in 1956 and subsequent years and see when the name disappears.

It does appear that our Mr. Humbertson has found his way to his own eternal time capsule, and did so many years ago. The Social Security Death Index has the following entry:

Name Birth Death Last Residence Last Benefit SSN Issued
RAYMOND HUMBERTSON 08 Jul 1921 May 1979 22204 (Arlington, Arlington, VA) 22204 (Arlington, Arlington, VA) 215-16-4982 Maryland

If that's not a match, it's an impressive coincidence. The next step would be to see if there are any probate records in Arlington County that would indicate the existence of heirs.

The organizers have very thoughtfully posted the list of entries from the Buried Car website. Here's a direct link (Microsoft Excel format). I found a couple of names I recognized; maybe you will, too.

Jamal Miftah, who in November 2006 was angrily confronted, called "anti-Islamic," and expelled from the Islamic Society of Tulsa's al-Salam mosque over his op-ed condemning those who commit terror in the name of Islam, filed suit today against the Islamic Society of Tulsa, the national Islamic organizations who own and operate the mosque, and certain mosque leaders as individuals, as well as two mosque members who were involved in the confrontation.

KOTV has transcribed the text of the complaint, which alleges assault, defamation, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The paragraphs that make up the last count may help you understand what Jamal and his family are going through:

24. The acts of Defendants, individually and jointly, are outrageous in that Defendants knew that if they labeled Jamal Miftah a “traitor… anti Muslim and anti Islamic” his life would be forfeit should he be found in a Muslim Country and labeled apostate and that he would live in constant fear and dread of vigilante “justice” from certain Muslims in the United States. 25. The acts of Defendants are the proximate cause of severe emotional distress in that Jamal Miftah is now labeled as apostate, forced along with his wife and four children to attend to prayers in their home, apart from the fellowship of other Muslims, prevented from traveling to any Muslim Country, including his homeland of Pakistan and robbed of his peace of mind and right to speak freely against those he believes have brought his faith into disrepute via attacks on his adopted homeland and other acts of terrorism.

Please pray for their protection and for the protection of their attorney, B. Kent Felty, who has shown a lot of courage in taking on this lawsuit.

(You may recall that Felty represented 52 Indian men in a civil rights case against the J. J. Pickle Co., which had confined them to the factory and forced them to work for less than minimum wage. Federal district court handed down a $1.2 million judgment against the company.)

UPDATE: See Dubya reminds us of a couple of anonymous comments posted from a Pakistani IP address which underline the seriousness of the threat implicit in the label "anti-Islamic." And he notes that the discovery process in this lawsuit "turn up all kinds of interesting information about how Islam is planned and directed in North America."

Man of steel

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Specifically, it's Noel Boggs, who played with Hank Penny, Bob Wills, and Spade Cooley, and fronted his own band, the Daysleepers. He's on a Fender Quad Stringmaster, playing "Alabamy Bound", from the 1954 short "Jimmy Wakeley's Jamboree":


Oops. KOTV's satellite truck tripped up its newscopter, while trying to capture dramatic footage for a promo:

The News On 6 helicopter, SKYNEWS 6, is damaged during an accident at Sand Springs' Pogue airport. Luckily, both of our colleagues onboard the aircraft walked away from the accident. The News On 6’s Ashli Sims reports both men are now home recuperating.

Police cars, fire trucks, and ambulances scrambled to the scene of the accident at Sand Springs' Pogue Airport Wednesday afternoon. Our crew had been shooting video of SKYNEWS 6 when it went down, with two employees on board....

SKYNEWS 6 was flying low over our satellite truck and clipped the satellite dish. The helicopter went down about 100 yards away, breaking into several pieces.

News on 6 was first on the scene, but not first with live helicopter footage:

Ranger 8 was over the scene shortly after it happened and you could see the chopper in three large pieces on the ground.

We're told the Bell 206B owned by KOTV owner Griffin Capital Corp. crashed on the south end of the runway. The helicopter was being used during a promotional shoot when the rotors struck the dish of the KOTV satellite truck, sending the helicopter spinning out of control and crashing to the ground.

Next time, use the optical zoom, maybe.

(Via Tulsa Now Forum.)

The Altarnet Film Society presents a monthly program of independent short-subject films at Agora coffee house in the Fontana Center at 51st & Memorial here in Tulsa. (Agora is northeast of the Center Fountain.) The films are presented in an environment that encourages discussion and interaction.

Here are the details and synopses of the films to be presented this Saturday night, June 23, starting at 7:30 p.m.:

"Wentworth," drama, 16:41, directed by R. Stephen Suettinger: How do you choose between the girl of your dreams and the girl in your dreams?

"She," experimental, 1:00, directed by Jimmy Calhoun: A 60 second monologue that tells how one man's love for a woman affects his spiritual journey.

"20 Minutes," drama, 20:00, directed by Monica Huntington. "Twenty Minutes" is an eternal love story with a super-natural twist. "Sometimes forever is just a few minutes."

"Mutual Love Life," comedy, 10:49, directed by Robert Peters. If only we could have breakup insurance that would help us recover from a crushed heart, we would have no fear of jumping into love.

Just another example of the opportunities Tulsa offers for intelligent and fun interaction.

The magazine Insight is reporting on an effort to identify mosques in America which are promoting radical Islam, specifically the establishment of shari'a law and the imposition of Islam on the nation:

“Our initial investigation has concluded there are between 400 to 500 radical Islamic centers in the U.S.,” said David Gaubatz, the director of counterintelligence and counterterrorism for the Society of Americans for National Existence. “In those places, they preach an extreme version of Islam that says America and the West is the enemy. They espouse violence, hatred and the need for terrorism.”

Gaubatz is a former senior U.S. intelligence official, who now works for the Mapping Shari’a in America Project (www.mappingsharia.com), which is supported by SANE, a national non-profit group devoted to investigating the 2,300 Islamic centers in the U.S. for extremist activity.“...

Gaubatz maintains that he and his team of field workers at the Mapping Shari’a in America Project are not only focusing on major metropolitan areas. Although there is plenty of Islamist activity in cities such as Detroit, Dearborn, Michigan and Washington, he says radical Muslims are also establishing education and religious centers in small towns.

“They’re branching out and teaching the Jihadist ideology in small towns across America, especially in rural areas in places like Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina,” Gaubatz said.

I learned about this on a blog entry which expresses hope that the mapping project will take a look at the Islamic Center of Tulsa, given its ties to national Wahhabi organizations and its treatment of Jamal Miftah, who was angrily confronted and banned for a time from the Islamic Center of Tulsa's mosque after publishing an op-ed critical of those who commit terrorist acts in the name of Islam. Mosque leaders were especially upset with Miftah because he called attention to the fact that some American mosques had been involved in supporting terrorism.

That same blog entry has an interesting item about the struggle for control of a Trenton, N. J., mosque. The mosque was founded in 1981 as a place of prayer for all Muslims, regardless of their sect, and preaching of the Friday sermon was rotated. Now a group aligned with Salafism has gained control, and the mosque's founders are trying to regain control.

You know the story that ran on the front page Sunday's Whirled about how Mayor Kathy Taylor is going to solve downtown Tulsa's problem with vagrants?

Urban Tulsa Weekly's Brian Ervin had that story two weeks ago, and he included the significant detail that the downtown YMCA's residence is going to be forced to close in 2010 because of expensive new city fire sprinkler regulations, eliminating 300 single-room occupancy spaces.

Just sayin'.

Congratulations to the paper for which I write, Urban Tulsa Weekly, for winning membership in the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies. It was one of five papers admitted out of 19 applicants for membership. UTW is only the second paper in the state to be admitted to membership. (The Oklahoma Gazette is the other.)

On its third try (the first was in 1999, the second was last year), UTW had the support of a majority of the membership committee, but not two-thirds, so it came to the full membership with no recommendation. This will give you some insight into the association's mindset. First, here are the comments from the committee:

Urban Tulsa Weekly 6 yes; 4 no

This newspaper is obviously making great strides forward, and has come a long way since first applying for membership. "Smart commentary, good news section, good, engaging writing overall," one member said. However, there were elements of the paper that made some committee members uncomfortable. "Little or no reporting -- just rehashing other people's points of view." There was concern that one story in the news section was little more than a military recruitment ad disguised as news.

And here is the account of the voting before the membership at large:

Holly Wall, editorial manager of Urban Tulsa Weekly, took up the case for her paper, noting they had taken to heart the recommendations about improving the paper offered by the Membership Committee on the paper's two previous applications. The Santa Barbara Independent's Robby Robbins defended Urban Tulsa Weekly against the committee's less flattering comments, arguing that judgments about its editorial content should take into consideration the conservative nature of the Tulsa market. After Wall and Robbins spoke, the paper was admitted on the second ballot.

Last year UTW didn't get the support of a majority of committee members, but there were signs of hope. The committee report began with a comment about music editor G. K. Hizer's sartorial choices: "A music editor in a tie? Now that's a conservative market. We're rooting for Urban Tulsa Weekly -- and winning columnists Michael Bates and Barry Friedman -- but have concerns about the stories in the rest of the paper."

Barry has, of course, moved on, but the AAN's approval is a recognition of the improvements that UTW continues to make. I'm pleased to have played some small role in UTW reaching this milestone, and I'm pleased to be part of a paper that is both conservative and alternative, even if that combination flummoxes our alt-weekly colleagues.

I've been so busy creating content for this coming week's Urban Tulsa Weekly that I haven't had time to link the current issue's column. It's about what I call the Greenwood Gap Theory, the widely-held notion that nothing happened in Tulsa's one-time African-American commercial district between the 1921 Race Riot and the late '80s construction of the OSU-Tulsa campus.


greenwoodpolksample.JPGTo fill the gap, I look at the historical record provided by aerial photos, street directories, and oral histories, all of which reveal that Greenwood was rebuilt after the riot, better than before in the view of many, but it was government action -- in the form of urban renewal and freeway construction -- that produced the empty lots in the '70s which OSU-Tulsa replaced.

An annotated aerial view of Deep Greenwood (the part of the district extending a few blocks north of Greenwood and Archer) from 1951 accompanies the story. Here's a larger version of the graphic for your perusal (1 MB PDF). (The scan of the aerial photo was done by INCOG at a cost of $35. INCOG has aerial photos of the entire county taken at roughly 10 year intervals.) And this photoset contains the pages from the 1957 Polk City Directory for N. Greenwood Avenue, showing the businesses, churches, and residences in house number order. Specifically they are pages 357 through 360.

Here's a timely start-of-summer safety reminder from Tulsa World sports editor Mike Strain, who remembers the time when his son (and my nephew) nearly drowned in their neighborhood's pool:

I grabbed my son’s limp body by the arm and pulled him out of the water.

His face was the scary kind of white you associate with death. His lips were purple. His eyes were wide open, but he wasn’t moving.

About 10 years ago, my son could have drowned in a swimming pool as I sat about 15 feet away daydreaming in the sun. I never saw him jump into the five-foot end. Never realized that a fearless 3 year old who couldn’t swim was under water.

He had taken the “floaties” off his arms. He never liked those. Undetected by me, my wife and a lifeguard at our neighborhood pool, he jumped into the water. I don’t know how long he had been there – less than a minute probably. My wife was in the pool, and asked, “Where’s Jared?”

And then I saw him. He was about a foot under the water, arms stretched to both sides like he was about to give a welcoming hug. He was facing the sky and his eyes were wide open. He wasn’t moving. I will never forget the image – that moment when you don’t know if your son is going to live.

You can't take your eyes off them for a minute.

My photos of this afternoon's unearthing and tonight's unveiling are currently being uploaded to Flickr. You'll find them in the Tulsa's Buried Car photo set. Included are photos of the time capsule contents, which came out in pristine condition.

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This web page has photos of the crypt with the amount of water that was found in it when it was first opened.

The official buriedcar.com website has a gallery of photos of the vault and the 1957 burial.

KOTV has video of last night's unveiling.

Somehow I was able to go through the arena floor to the north loading dock where workers were detaching the 1957 Plymouth Belvedere from its skids and other workers were using a circular saw and a hammer and chisel to open the time capsule.

When they hosed off the undercarriage, the water that dripped down to the ground was the color of Oklahoma City dirt.

Even if it is soggier than Ted Kennedy's car and as rusty as Davy Jones' locker, the Belvedere has served its purpose. It has been the focal point of Tulsa's statehood centennial celebration, and it has drawn press and visitors from all over the world.

###

Speaking of press from all over the world -- I've been surprised that the organizers didn't do a better job helping press find out where they were supposed to be. Last night at the credentialing welcome party at the Tulsa Press Club, there was no sign outside on Boston Avenue pointing visiting reporters there. (Doesn't help that Boston Ave. looks like a war zone.) There were no signs indicating press parking and entrances. The press packet listed the north YMCA lot as the press parking area, but there seemed to be no way to get to it from any direction. And there were no signs pointing to the press reception area in the basement of the convention center.

###

The MC at the noon excavation was fired retired KRMG morning host John Erling, the favorite mouthpiece of the old Tulsa establishment. He got the nod to MC the arena groundbreaking and the inauguration of Kathy Taylor. Erling is a relative newcomer -- he arrived in Tulsa in 1976. Why not ask a Tulsa media personality who was around in 1957 -- someone like Lee Woodward (he moved here in 1957) or Clayton Vaughn or Don Woods or Dick Schmitz or Frank Morrow or any number of old-time Tulsa radio and TV types who frequent TulsaTVMemories.com?

"You know, there really ought to be a drain at the bottom of this thing, just in case any water gets in."

"Whaddya mean, in case any water gets in? It's a pool liner, it's designed to keep water on one side. And we're sealing it in an airtight plastic bag -- space age technology. Anyway, it's too late to change anything even if we wanted to."

"You're right. And it's not like we're going to be around in 50 years when they pull it out of the ground."

My 10-year-old son and I got back home about 11 p.m. Wednesday night from a week in the United Kingdom with the Tulsa Boy Singers tour. It was his first trip out of the US, and my first trip overseas in eight years. We had a wonderful time, and I'll tell you about the trip itself later on, but here are a few random notes, which I'll add to as the mood strikes me:

I don't know what is in bloom in England right now, but I am highly allergic to it. It didn't bother me in Scotland, but my nose and eyes got itchier the further south we went. (Grass pollen, evidently.)

Seven days in Scotland and England and we didn't need an umbrella once. It sprinkled a bit in Edinburgh, and I'm told it rained at night, but we never saw it. Meanwhile, Tulsa is getting muddier and muddier.

The dollar is at its lowest point against the pound in years -- $2 = £1 -- but prices are the same in pounds there as they are in dollars here. Fuel costs are pushing food prices higher. Petrol is just under £1 per liter, or about $8 a gallon, and most of that is tax. High fuel prices don't seem to be keeping people from driving -- the motorways were jammed with cars.

With regard to WiFi, the UK is about four years behind the US. Free WiFi is rare, and even working paid WiFi is hard to find. I spent sometime before leaving the US compiling maps of free and paid WiFi locations near our hotels. It wasn't that I planned to spend hours surfing, but I wanted to be able to upload photos to Flickr and videos to Google for the benefit of TBS families back home and to respond to e-mail. As we waited for our bags at Tulsa International, several parents came up to thank me for posting photos, as it was reassuring to see that their boys smiling and having a good time.

Hotel access typically runs at least £10 a day, or you can pay a pound for 10 minutes of access on a terminal in the lobby. Even though we stayed in three different Holiday Inns, each one had a different provider, so it was impractical to buy a week's worth of hotel access.

A few pubs and coffee houses have free WiFi, but many more are part of a network called The Cloud. I bought a week's worth of unlimited access for £11.99. I was only able to use it twice, for a couple of hours each time, at the Cross Keys pub in Dringhouses near York. Uploading speeds were slow, but it worked. I thought I'd be able to use it at the Little Chef cafe next door to the Holiday Inn outside of Oxford, but the cafe closed at ten (despite being located on a busy highway junction). I sat down on the sidewalk outside and tried to connect; I could get a signal, but the DHCP server didn't give me an IP address, so I couldn't sign in.

WiFi worked well in only one place -- Isobar on Bernard Street in Leith, Edinburgh's port town. Isobar is a tidy modern place, smoke-free (as are all Scottish pubs, and England will follow suit on July 1), and frequented by twenty-somethings. Drink prices were reasonable. It was quiet on Thursday night, and one other person was working on a laptop. The bartender pointed me to the area where I'd get the best signal. I went back on Friday night, after a failed attempt at connecting at another free WiFi pub (Stack Bar and Grill -- could connect, but couldn't get a DHCP address). Isobar was almost packed, but a found a place at a long common table and wound up next to a group of female office workers out on the town. The one sitting next to me apologized for the rowdy behavior of her coworkers, but I found it entertaining.

The Jolly Judge Pub on Lawnmarket near Edinburgh Castle had good beer, a nice traditional atmosphere, free WiFi, and a decent signal, and I might have stayed longer, but I needed to eat dinner and they only had crisps. A search for a free WiFi restaurant in the Old Town -- the Honey Pot -- was fruitless, and I later learned the restaurant was no longer in business.

The Royal National Hotel had free WiFi, but only in the lobby, and the signal was weak and intermittent.

I had a delicious lamb keema wrap at Wrapid in York, a place that offered not only free WiFi, but, unusually for the UK, free refills on fizzy drinks and coffee. The free WiFi is actually advertising-supported WiFi -- you watch a short commercial, and you get connected. Unfortunately, the website that served the commercial was down, so the sign-in web app didn't work. Flickr Uploadr was able to connect and upload at a very slow speed, but I couldn't check e-mail or the web.

UPDATE 2007/06/25: Some further notes about what worked and what didn't.

A few weeks before the trip I purchased a set of grounded plug adapters from Family on Board. These were not converters or transformers. They simply allowed you to take a dual-voltage device with a U. S. grounded plug to and plug it into a British three-prong grounded outlet. $15.95 covered three adapters, and all shipping and handling costs. They worked wonderfully with my Dell laptop AC adapter and the charger for my Palm Treo 650. (Even though my Treo didn't work as a phone over there -- CDMA instead of GSM -- I still used it as a PDA to make notes and keep track of scheduled events.)

To emphasize, these US-to-UK adapters should only be used with devices that accept inputs of at least 240 V -- there should be a label on the device, charger, etc., that indicates, volts, frequency, amperage, and wattage for input and output.

Even then, a device may fail. My Duracell rapid AA/AAA battery recharger blew a fuse -- or at any rate stopped working -- the first time I plugged it in. It professed to be dual voltage, but I suspect it drew too much current when first powered. It was a 25 W device. (The laptop, which uses 70 W, had no problems.) The slower-charging 8 W charger might have fared better, but I didn't bother to bring it along.

Thankfully, the Duracell rechargeable AA batteries performed well enough that I didn't have to buy any on the trip, even though I couldn't recharge. For the digital camera, a Canon S3 IS, I started out with two sets of 2650 mAh batteries and a set of 1800 mAh batteries, all fully charged. Each set lasted me through two days plus a bit. All three sets together got me through eight days, 900 pictures, and nearly an hour of video.

I can't say enough good things about the Canon S3 IS. The photos were wonderful. While its critics are right that, at the ISO 800 setting, images in low light are grainy, it's still wonderful to have the option of taking relatively low light photos without the need for a flash. It takes great video, too, although it wasn't always easy to hold it steady, and the audio quality is wonderful. You can see the photos for yourself, and this link will take you to a search for the videos from the TBS tour and their concerts here in Oklahoma.

A cool thing about Flickr is the ability to connect photos to a map. I've done that for most of the TBS tour photos. Zoom in to a particular city, and you'll see photos placed to the street and block.

This is the originally submitted version of my column in the June 13, 2007, edition of Urban Tulsa Weekly. The published version is available at the Internet Archive. The image below accompanied the article. It is from a 1951 aerial photo, labeled to indicate streets and landmarks and to show the present-day location of I-244.

Deep Greenwood, Tulsa, 1951 aerial photo

The Greenwood Gap Theory: The remaking and unmaking of the Black Wall Street of America

By Michael D. Bates

There's a widespread myth about the history of our city, and it persists even among those who are otherwise well educated about Tulsa's past.

It's a myth that stands in the way of learning some valuable lessons about urban development, urban renewal, and the essential elements of a thriving community.

Let's call this myth the Greenwood Gap Theory. That's not a reference to the GAP Band, although the R&B group did take its name from Greenwood Avenue, Archer Street, and Pine Street. Those three streets were the main artery and the north and south boundaries of what was once the commercial heart of Tulsa's African-American community, and Greenwood Avenue lent its name to the entire district.

The Greenwood Gap Theory resurfaces from time to time. It popped up again a few weeks ago, when ground was broken for a campus for Langston University-Tulsa.

Langston President Jo Ann Haysbert said, "Although the campus will not re-create the more than 600 businesses that once operated on Black Wall Street in Greenwood before the 1921 Tulsa Race Riot, it will produce graduates who will go out into the world with Greenwood's similar spirit of entrepreneurship and empowerment."

The assumption buried in Ms. Haysbert's statement, one shared by many Tulsans, is that in the 66 years from the Tulsa Race Riot until construction began on the University Center at Tulsa (now OSU-Tulsa) campus, nothing happened in Greenwood; the smoldering ruins were bulldozed, and the land lay fallow.

It's not hard to understand how the Greenwood Gap Theory gained currency. I first heard about the riot and the "Black Wall Street" of America in the '70s, and when I was old enough to drive I went to see what Greenwood Ave. looked like.

What I saw was a few churches, a few vacant commercial buildings, but mostly vacant lots. It was not hard to imagine that that had been the state of things since 1921.

Over time more of the commercial buildings went away and what was left was a vast undeveloped tract.

I learned I had been missing a big part of the story came on a 1997 walking tour led by Eddie Faye Gates, who had just published a book of reminiscences by Tulsa's African-American pioneers: They Came Searching: How Blacks Sought the Promised Land in Tulsa (Eakin Press, 1997).

As we walked south on Greenwood from the UCAT campus, a black woman who looked to be in her 40s pointed toward the pond and fountain near the Greenwood Cultural Center and said, "That's where my aunt's dress shop was!" and she reminisced about spending time in the store as a child. She wasn't old enough to have been around in 1921; she had to have been speaking about the late '50s or early '60s.

Thanks to aerial photos, street directories, and books like Gates's, we have facts to fill in the Greenwood Gap.

For the first roughly six decades of the 20th century, Tulsa's African-American community was segregated to a couple of square miles north-northeast of downtown - roughly east of Detroit Ave., west of the Santa Fe tracks, north of the Frisco tracks and south of Apache.
The prosperity Tulsa enjoyed as Oil Capitol of the World flowed into Greenwood as well. But on the night of May 31, 1921, a mob of whites descended on Greenwood and looted and then burned businesses, homes, and churches. Over a thousand homes were destroyed, at least 300 people were killed, and Greenwood lay in ruins.

The real history of the Greenwood District after 1921, set out by Hannibal Johnson in his book Black Wall Street (Eakin Press, 1998), is at once more inspiring and sadder than the myth. Where a hostile, racist mob failed to destroy the heart and break the spirit of the African-American community, fifty years later well-intentioned government officials succeeded.

After the riot, there was an attempt by the city's white leaders to keep Greenwood from being rebuilt. The City Commission passed an ordinance extending the fire limits to include Greenwood, prohibiting frame houses from being rebuilt. The idea was to designate the district for industrial use and resettle blacks to a new place further away from downtown, outside the city limits.

African-American attorneys won an injunction against the new fire ordinance; the court decreed that it constituted a violation of the Fourth Amendment, a taking of property without due process. The injunction opened the door for Greenwood residents to rebuild.

They did it themselves, without insurance funds (most policies had a riot exclusion) or any other significant outside aid. In They Came Searching, Eunice Jackson said, "They just were not going to be kept down. They were determined not to give up. So they rebuilt Greenwood and it was just wonderful. It became known as The Black Wall Street of America."

Juanita Alexander Lewis Hopkins said, "The North Tulsa after the riot was even more impressive than before the riot. That is when Greenwood became known as 'The Black Wall Street of America.'"

The Greenwood district flourished well into the 1950s. In 1938, businessmen formed the Greenwood Chamber of Commerce. A 1942 directory lists 242 businesses, including over 50 eateries, 38 grocers, a half dozen clothing stores, plus florists, physicians, attorneys, furriers, bakeries, theaters, and jewelers - more than before the riot 21 years earlier. The 1957 city directory reveals a similar level of commercial activity in Greenwood.

The district had three distinct commercial centers: Deep Greenwood, starting at Archer; a neighborhood commercial cluster running along Greenwood from King north to Oklahoma; and a shopping area along Lansing Ave. south of Pine Street. Maybe the best way for modern Tulsans to imagine these areas is to think of shopping streets like Cherry Street and Brookside, but with more two and three story buildings.

Deep Greenwood hosted a variety of businesses, but it was also home to nightclubs and pool halls, and it had a wild reputation. When he moved to Tulsa from Hugo, barber Hugh Hollins was advised by a friend to set up shop further north.

The reminiscences recorded in They Came Searching recall Greenwood as a kind of small town. If a young person got up to some mischief, his parents would know about it before he got home. Everyone knew everyone else, because people lived, shopped, went to church, and went to school all in a small self-contained area.

Of course they didn't have much choice. Official segregation and private discrimination limited where blacks could live, learn, worship, and spend money.

The lifting of those restrictions helped start the decline of Greenwood as a commercial center, as blacks exercised their wider options and began spending more money outside the community. At the same time, changing retail patterns and the rise of the chain store put all mom-and-pop stores at risk, no matter the ethnicity of the proprietors.

"Slum clearance" as a cure for Greenwood's ills had been discussed for years, but in 1967, Tulsa was accepted into the Federal Model Cities program.

Model Cities was not just an ordinary urban renewal program. It was intended to be an improvement over the old method of bulldozing depressed neighborhoods. The Federal government provided four dollars for every dollar of local funding, and the plan involved advisory councils of local residents and attempted to address education, economic development, and health care as well as dilapidated buildings.

For all the frills, Model Cities was still primarily an urban removal program: Save the neighborhood by destroying it. Homes and businesses were cleared for the construction of I-244 and US 75 and for assemblage into larger tracts that might attract developers. Displaced blacks moved north, into neighborhoods that had been built in the '50s for working class whites.

Only the determination of a few community leaders saved a cluster of buildings in Deep Greenwood - but these buildings are isolated from any residential area, cut off from community.

Jobie Holderness said, "Urban renewal not only took away our property, but something else more important - our black unity, our pride, our sense of achievement and history. We need to regain that. Our youth missed that and that is why they are lost today, that is why they are in 'limbo' now."

New Urbanists speak a lot about the importance of densely settled, walkable communities, with jobs in proximity to homes, with a mixture of uses - residential, retail, offices, schools, churches - within easy walking distance. By making it possible for residents to walk places, there are more chance encounters between neighbors. People keep an eye on the street, deterring crime. And each chance encounter on the street builds valuable social capital - neighbors know each other well enough to be able to help when there's a crisis.
Greenwood was a neighborhood like that, but the urban diagnosticians of the 1960s mistook the symptoms for the disease and killed the patient. The notion was that the insalubrious environment created social dysfunction - remove the environment, and you fix the problem.

In place of a dense, walkable, urban community, the planners created a slice of suburbia. The OSU-Tulsa campus is surrounded by an ocean of parking, completely cutoff from old Deep Greenwood and from nearby neighborhoods. The retail buildings at the north end of Greenwood have been replaced by modern (vintage 1980s) homes which turn their backs to the street. The Lansing commercial district and its surrounding neighborhood have been converted to a suburban-style light industrial park. What was once a cohesive neighborhood is now an assortment of isolated uses.

How might things have worked out differently?

Given time, the commercial buildings along Greenwood would have been rediscovered by entrepreneurs with an idea and a need for a cheap place to get started. The greatest thing government did for Cherry Street and Brookside was to leave them alone. Greenwood might have become gentrified, or it, instead of 21st and Garnett, might have become the home base for the Hispanic or Asian communities. Dallas's Deep Ellum was once like Greenwood and has become an entertainment district.

Instead of the shopping-mall-style campus that was actually built for OSU-Tulsa, Greenwood's old commercial buildings might have even become home for the new university, following the example of Savannah College of Art and Design, which restored buildings all over the city's historic district for its campus, mixed in with retail and office and residential uses.

The next time you drive to OSU-Tulsa or drive past on I-244, remember the bustling district that was once there. Remember those entrepreneurs who rebuilt it after its 1921 destruction. And remember that it was well-intentioned government action that destroyed it again.

Just a brief note: I should be back to posting daily starting tomorrow.

As I write this, this week's Urban Tulsa Weekly isn't online yet, but it should be soon. My column this week is on the Greenwood Gap Theory -- the widely-believed notion that nothing happened in Tulsa's historic African-American commercial district between the riot that destroyed it in 1921 and the construction of OSU-Tulsa in the late '80s, a notion that avoids confronting the devastation of urban renewal.

20070609-MichaelBateses.jpg

On the left, Michael D. Bates, columnist for Urban Tulsa Weekly and proprietor of batesline.com.

On the right, Michael W. Bates, former Member of Parliament and Paymaster General, now director of the Northern Board of the Conservative Party.

In the background, Durham Cathedral on a brilliant June day.

I had the pleasure of spending a lovely but all-too-brief hour and a half in the company of Michael and his son Matthew, strolling along the Wear, having a light lunch in the cathedral's Undercroft Restaurant, and talking about British and American politics and the remarkable story of the Emmanuel College in Gateshead and how high expectations can transform an underprivileged area.

From the Whirled:

An audit of operations at the Fair Meadows racetrack paints a picture of slipshod business practices made possible by lax -- and at times nonexistent -- management.

The audit has led to a law enforcement investigation....

The report makes clear that "the possibility of employee fraud was implied (by the findings) but could not be proven."...

On Tuesday, fair board Chairwoman Randi Miller said she is not pleased with the audit's findings but sees the exercise as the first step toward resolving the racetrack's troubles.

"Even though the audit is bad, it only helps the constituents because we now know there's a lack of checks and balances, and we will correct them," she said.

Here's the kicker, buried at the end of the story:

Last year, the racetrack lost $174,599.

I'm happy the fair board is pursuing this, but I'm wondering: Since Randi Miller is death on Expo Square tenants who have shaky finances, will she order Fair Meadows to dismantle the grandstand and vacate within 120 days?

How did the Whirled's P. J. Lassek come up with this first paragraph:

Consolidating several city facilities including City Hall into the One Technology Center appears to be a good deal, seven of the nine City Councilors said Friday.

from this set of comments, found in the same story:

District 1, Jack Henderson: "Councilor Jack Henderson said he needs to talk to more city employees because of concerns raised about the open office environment in the new building, which would mean workers might have less space and privacy. 'I think when all the dust settles, it will probably be a good deal.'"

District 2, Rick Westcott: "Councilor Rick Westcott said the city faces a decision -- either perform $12 million that is funded out of $24 million in deferred maintenance on the current aging City Hall building, or find an alternative. 'This alternative seems like an idea that makes sense,' he said. Westcott said he also plans to seek input from real estate experts. 'This alternative seems like an idea that makes sense.'"

District 3, Roscoe Turner: "Councilor Roscoe Turner said he doesn't know what he thinks about the deal. 'I have a lot of concerns to focus on other than moving City Hall. I can understand getting out of this building with the mold problems and all. I really haven't given it much thought. I really don't care about it.'"

District 4, Maria Barnes: "Councilor Maria Barnes said relocating City Hall has not been on her radar. She said she needs to determine what the city is getting into."

District 5, Bill Martinson: Was out of town, missed briefing.

District 6, Dennis Troyer: Was out of town, missed briefing.

District 7, John Eagleton: "Councilor John Eagleton said he needs time to digest the figures so he can make a decision. He said he already has some questions he needs answered. "

District 8, Bill Christiansen: "Councilor Bill Christiansen said the proposal 'sounds like a great business deal, but I think it will be a hard sell to my constituents who are still waiting for basic services. Most people don't realize that we're a fund-based city. They just know we don't have good streets, and they don't have sewer lines. Now we're going to go out and buy another building,' he said. Christiansen said he isn't saying he's against it at this point."

District 9, Cason Carter: "If this decision ends up saving taxpayers money, I think it's
a good one.... Right now, it's too early to tell."

My tally is seven who say they have concerns or questions that need to be addressed, and two that couldn't be reached. Was this a case of the Whirled putting their preferred spin in the lead paragraph and hoping no one would read the body of the article?

See Dubya tipped me off to this story in the New York Times about New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's anti-gun-rights crusade, and Tulsa Mayor Kathy Taylor gets a mention for her involvement in Bloomberg's group:

“As a new mayor, I’ve been able to talk to other mayors who have had similar experiences with violent crime,” said Kathy Taylor of Tulsa, Okla., a longtime N.R.A. member who said she does not see a contradiction between her support of gun rights and her work on the gun coalition. She views the coalition as a law enforcement effort to protect her constituents, not as an attempt to diminish the legal right to own a gun.

Ms. Taylor, a Democrat, said she had picked up methods for recognizing and controlling gang activity.

That's nice, but you could get the same thing from, say, the National Conference of Mayors, and it wouldn't require you to join an anti-gun-rights group.

The City Council ought to at least ask her to defend her involvement in this group. Other mayors left the coalition once they discovered that its focus was on changing laws to keep records on legal purchases of guns.

And just how long is her "long-time" NRA membership? Did she join when she decided to become a politician, to immunize herself from criticism on gun rights issues?

Expect delays

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Note to friends, family, and colleagues: The next week or so will have me busy from sunup to sunset -- and the sun goes down late in June. Getting in touch with me will not be easy. The best way to reach me will be at the blog atsign batesline dot com address, but don't expect an immediate response. If it's really urgent, call my home phone number.

It isn't Tulsa, but it is 50 years ago:

On Monday morning May 13, 1957, I entered the Washington bureau of the Associated Press in the old Evening Star building on Pennsylvania Avenue, a 26-year-old reporter transferred from Indianapolis where I had reported on the Indiana legislature for the AP. I was immediately sent to Capitol Hill, and soon was helping cover the Kennedy brothers' investigation of Teamsters boss Jimmy Hoffa, defended by Edward Bennett Williams. What a start for 50 years in Washington that continue today.

My $125 weekly paycheck was hardly enough to get by, but drinks were cheap in the Members Bar of the National Press Club (restricted to males, as was the club itself), and the small steak there sold for $1.25. I resorted to group living, in a large Georgetown house owned by a Foreign Service officer who was in Costa Rica as ambassador. I paid $100 rent a month. My housemates included two United Press reporters and two CIA employees (one overt and one covert).

It is highly unlikely to find journalists and intelligence operatives cohabiting today, reflecting the kinder, gentler nation's capital a half century ago. Then, as now, a Congress controlled by Democrats with a one-vote margin in the Senate confronted a Republican president. But they opposed each other courteously in 1957. I had arrived in Washington in a pause preceding party polarization, the civil rights revolution, racial riots, student unrest, assassinations, two impeachment proceedings, Vietnam, Watergate and Iraq.

Washington then was still the town of Southern efficiency and Northern charm, shabby and not resembling today's sleek metropolis. The government was much smaller and far less intrusive. The $76.7 billion federal budget ($585 billion in current dollars) compares with the 2007 figures of $2.7 trillion. But even those relatively modest figures spawned an assault on President Dwight D. Eisenhower's budget by Senate Majority Leader Lyndon B. Johnson.

Read the rest of Novak's reminiscences of then vs. now.

And if you arrived in Tulsa about the time that Mr. Novak arrived in Washington, I'd love to know what you remember about it. I'm still working on my story about Tulsa in 1957 -- it'll run after the unearthing of the Belvedere and will include coverage of that event -- so there's still time to send me your reminiscences.

Zingo's dismantling is almost complete, and Bell's Amusement Park is about to vanish from their long-time location on the Tulsa County Fairgrounds. Bell's paid the most rent of any Fairgrounds tenant, but despite that, the park's lease was not renewed and county officials claimed to have no plans for redeveloping the land.

This week in Urban Tulsa Weekly, I ask whether the U. S. National Arabian and Half-Arabian Championship Horse Show is the real reason that Bell's was given the boot and whether trading a 50 year Tulsa tradition for a lucrative but temporary event was a smart move for taxpayers.

By the way, I used a number in the story of $20 million, which I recalled hearing cited by Expo Square officials as the cost of improvements made to attract and accommodate the Arabian Horse Show. I called Expo Square to confirm that number, and the comptroller went down the list and came up with a number of $15 million. Unfortunately, his response came too late for UTW's deadline.

And here's a link to last week's column on the City Council's vote to authorize Tulsa police officers to verify the immigration status of anyone who is taken into custody on felony or misdemeanor charges.

The intervention by Congressman John Sullivan and Senators Coburn and Inhofe seems to have given the Council the backing they needed to take up this issue. Here you can read a letter from Sullivan to Mayor Kathy Taylor prior to the Council vote, and here is one from after the vote, urging her to implement the resolution.

Some further notes on local law enforcement and illegal immigration

In a letter to the head of ICE, Sullivan repeats his call for expediting the Sheriff's Office application for 287(g) status:

I believe that a 287(g) designation, which would allow for the cross deputization of Tulsa County Sherriff’s deputies and jail personnel, would help to mitigate these problems by ensuring that Oklahoma law enforcement personnel have the authority, training, and tools they need to report and detain criminal aliens in the course of their regular duty. If implemented in Tulsa, the 287(g) program would act as a force multiplier for ICE and help protect our communities from terrible incident like the one mentioned above.

Nashville police recently obtained 287(g) status. This case is one of the reasons they pursued it vigorously:

Garcia was charged with two counts of vehicular homicide while intoxicated and evading arrest. Court officials said he has reached a deal with prosecutors and will plead guilty today, the same day the trial was scheduled to begin. His lawyer, Assistant Metro Public Defender Glenn Dukes, did not return a call seeking comment.

Garcia is being held at the Metro Jail under an immigration hold, which means he'll be turned over to federal authorities after any criminal sentence he might serve.

But Garcia was well known to law enforcement before the fatal accident.

County records show that he had been booked into the Metro Jail on at least 14 different occasions since 1997.

Besides the DUI cases, he had been charged with domestic assault, leaving the scenes of accidents, driving on a revoked or suspended license, resisting arrest, disorderly conduct, theft, failing to have insurance and driving with an open container.

On at least one occasion, local authorities said, Garcia was flagged by federal authorities and deported, only to return and resume his streak of arrests.

The other times, Garcia went to court, was jailed for some period and released. Sheriff's officials said they routinely sent notification to federal immigration authorities that they had booked a foreign-born inmate.

Nashville hopes to replicate the success of 287(g) in Charlotte, N.C.:

In the seven-month period following the implementation of its 287(g) immigration enforcement program, Charlotte, N.C. saw significant decreases in the number of Hispanics arrested for Driving Under the Influence (DUI), the total number of DUI-related arrests among Hispanic persons and the amount of Hispanic gang-related crime, law enforcement personnel there said.

In the program’s first nine months, Charlotte’s specially trained sheriffs identified 1,520 arrestees as having entered the country illegally.

All were marked for deportation back to one of the 31 different countries — mostly Central and South American — from which those 1,520 individuals came, Mecklenburg County Sheriff Jim Pendergraph told WFAE (Charlotte) talk radio last month.

And a full 20 percent of the foreign-born persons who were brought into the jail and subsequently identified though 287(g) had been arrested for drunken driving, Pendergraph said.

At the same time, a statistical analysis by the Sheriff’s Office shows that the number of Hispanic-related DUI incidents and arrests fell sharply in the months following the beginning of 287(g).

From 2005 – when sheriff’s deputies had to request an arrestee’s immigration information from a federal database in Vermont, as they still have to do in Nashville – to 2006, the number of Hispanic persons arrested for DUI decreased by 26 percent.

Additionally, the number of overall DUI-related arrests of Hispanic persons decreased by 63 percent – from 1,379 to 508 – during the same period.

Many private Christian schools require that a student's parents are Christian, too. One of the advantages of such a school, usually not spoken explicitly, is that your child will be going to school with other children who are being shaped by the same values as yours.

But there are Christian schools which welcome non-Christians, and Michael Spencer is chaplain for one such boarding school, a school that requires Bible classes and chapel attendance and which is unapologetic about its Christian mission:

For the past 30+ years, our school has taken many internationals and children of internationals as students. A fair number of these have not been Christians. Some are from other religious traditions, like Islam, and some are from Atheistic cultures like China....

Several times in yesterday’s ceremony, essays by students were read and the student said…

1) I am not a Christian.

2) Thank you for all you’ve done for me while I have been here.

3) I now understand Christianity much better (or I now realize Jesus is very important.)...

God brings non-Christians to us because we are inexpensive and offer the language and science background international students want to get them into American universities. Our school does not have the “nice” things that more expensive schools have, but many of these internationals do not have American ideas of comfort and entitlement. They are open to our school, the hospitality and friendship of our staff and the generosity and compassion we share with them.

We do not mince words about the Gospel. At least I don’t. I point out the difference between Mohammed, Buddah and Jesus all the time. I preach Christ as the exclusive way to eternal life. I preach that hell exists and judgement without Christ is eternal condemnation. I engage atheism as an inadequate answer. I preach, teach and proclaim the Gospel with all my abilities....


When we do anything with our students, we tell them that we are doing it because of Jesus Christ. I regularly connect up what we do with what Christ has done for us.

And so, sitting there yesterday, I heard many student essays talk about finding Christ and about renewing commitments to Christ. But I also heard about coming here for one, two or more years and leaving without Christ.

And saying so. “I am not a Christian.” One of my best Bible students said it in her essay. “I am not a Christian.” But she thanked me and others for showing her Christ, and she said she is on the way.

Others said they were not Christians, but now they understood better what Christianity means. Some said they had learned that what they had been told about Christians in their culture was not true.

Read more.

I got to attend last night's Tulsa Boy Singers' spring concert, and it was wonderful. I have never heard a finer sounding choral group in Tulsa. Director Casey Cantwell told KOTV that the choir is at its peak musically, and I believe he's right.

The concert consistent entirely of sacred music, from Palestrina (Sicut cervus) to 16th century England (Byrd, Tallis, Farrant), to modern composers like John Taverner and Franz Biebl. The first part of the concert was a mass by Haydn, accompanied by a trio from the Tulsa Symphony Orchestra. Thanks to the media outlets who promoted it, both nights drew good crowds, though there was room for more.

Watch this space: I hope to have some video of the concert uploaded later tonight.

Although the spring concerts are over, there are still four chances to hear the Tulsa Boy Singers this season. Here's a list of upcoming dates:

So you've got one more chance to hear the boys in Oklahoma, but if you happen to be in the UK, you've got three shots at it. Don't miss your chance.

Here is a sample from their concert last Saturday night: From the 16th century, Palestrina's Sicut cervus. That's Psalm 42: "As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God." I fumble-fingered and missed a couple of seconds of the start, but I think you'll enjoy it anyway.

Here's another clip from the concert: Maurice Duruflé's setting of Ubi caritas: "Where charity and love are, God is there."

There's a great opportunity coming up later this month for Tulsa-area Christians with an interest in sound theology and a concern for the lack of interest in same which prevails in much of the evangelical realm.

Dr. David Wells is professor of historical and systematic theology at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. Wells will be speaking at this year's National Founders Conference, to be held June 26-29 at Bethel Baptist Church in Owasso, Okla.

This is the 25th annual conference of the Founders Movement within the Southern Baptist Convention. The word "Founders" signifies the group's aim to promote within the SBC the doctrines of grace that were held without apology by the founders of the convention. That doctrinal heritage -- and the accompanying theological depth -- was lost around the turn of the 20th century. Awareness and understanding of the Reformed (Calvinistic) doctrines of grace is growing in the SBC, as is acceptance. One of America's most prominent Southern Baptists, Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, is Reformed, and he and his colleagues throughout the SBC seminary system are influencing the next generation of SBC pastors.

The theme of this year's conference is "God's Truth Abideth Still: Confronting Postmodernism." They couldn't have picked a better keynote speaker. Wells has written a series of challenging and brilliant books on the culture's abandonment of the notion of truth and its influence on evangelical Christianity.

The first book, published in 1993, was No Place for Truth or Whatever Happened to Evangelical Theology. It had its origin in an offhand comment by one of the students in the required theology class that Wells taught. The student told him that he had struggled with his conscience about whether to take the course:

Was it right [the student wondered aloud] to spend so much money on a course of study that was so irrelevant to his desire to minster to people in the Church?

As I look through the book, I find my pencil marks on every page. Here's one section I found worthy of note, beginning on page 293:

The vast growth in evangelically minded people in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s should by now have revolutionized American culture. With a third of American adults now claiming to have experiences spiritual rebirth, a powerful countercurrent of morality growing out of a powerful and alternative worldview should have been unleashed in factories, offices, and board rooms, in the media, universities, and professions, from one end of the country to the other. The results should by now be unmistakable. Secular values should be reeling, and those who are their proponents should be very troubled. But as it turns out, all of this swelling of the evangelical ranks has passed unnoticed in the culture. It has simply been absorbed and tamed....

Here is a corner of the religious world that has learned from the social scientists how to grow itself, that is sprouting huge megachurches that look like shopping malls for the religious, that can count in its own society the moneyed and the powerful, and yet it causes not so much as a ripple. And its disappearance, judged in moral and spiritual terms, is happening at the very moment when American culture is more vulnerable to the uprooting of some of its cherished Enlightenment beliefs than ever before, because it knows itself to be empty....

Here's another, from a couple of pages on:

It may be that evangelicals will never recognize their pious self-absorption for the cultural thing that it is because conformity is a powerful force in the evangelical world, and it quickly stifles lone dissenters. Nevertheless, reality will take its toll. The publicized exodus of various evangelicals into the Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox churches in recent years is simply a notable symptom of widespread disquiet in the evangelical world. Many ordinary believers are disillusioned with their churches, with their ministers, and with the larger evangelical empire, which has failed in the business of making known the character, acts, will, and purposes of God in the larger society and in embodying these in the kind of service that has the ring of spiritual authenticity about it.

The good news is that the intervening years have seen the beginnings of the kind of reformation for which Wells called. In addition to the growth and influence of the Founders movement in the nation's largest Protestant denomination, a trans-denominational movement emerged in the late '90s, the Alliance for Confessing Evangelicals, which, in its Cambridge Declaration, reaffirmed the historic solas of the Reformation and set each one against its opposing tendency in modern evangelicalism.

The classical Christian education movement has emerged, helping Christian children develop a Christian worldview which is grounded in timeless truth and preparing them to engage the broader culture equipped with that worldview. The movement stands in contrast to Christian schools which were all about isolation from the world, hiding out in a tidy evangelical subculture and preaching to the choir.

World Magazine brings that same idea to the field of journalism:

We stand for factual accuracy and biblical objectivity, trying to see the world as best we can the way the Bible depicts it. Journalistic humility for us means trying to give God's perspective. We distinguish between issues on which the Bible is clear and those on which it isn't. We also distinguish between journalism and propaganda: We're not willing to lie because someone thinks it will help God's cause....

We cover all aspects of the news: national, international, and cultural; politics and business; medicine, science, technology, and sports. We have feisty columns and religious reflections. We even have cartoons and a page with funny or strange stories of the week. But what matters the most is this: We believe in a God who tells the truth and wants us to do the same.

An affiliated organization, World Journalism Institute, is engaged with the task of preparing Christians to work as journalists in the mainstream media. The curriculum includes both basic journalism skills and the development of a Christian worldview.

These are hopeful signs, but postmodernism, with denial of the very notion of truth, is still a strong influence in the culture at large and, through the culture, in the church.

The National Founders Conference ought to be well worth attending. Because the target audience is pastors, the schedule isn't convenient for those of us with 8-to-5 jobs, but Wells is speaking at two evening sessions. Although Founders Ministries is focused on the SBC, I see nothing in the online material that would exclude pastors and laymen of other denominations from registering.

Don't forget -- the Tulsa Boy Singers concert is tonight and Saturday night, 7:30 p.m., at Trinity Episcopal Church, 5th & Cincinnati in downtown Tulsa. Admission is free (but donations would be welcomed) and there will be a reception following. Come hear some beautiful music.

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