August 2007 Archives

In his column The Worst GOP Field Ever--or the Best?, Michael Medved makes a good point about how unimpressive the candidate selection was in years past. I think he's right when he points to the lack of "one obvious and overwhelming frontrunner" as the source of some unease. Republicans seem to like a bandwagon to jump on, and this year there isn't one.

What's interesting about this column is how Medved fames his writing to boost Huckabee. He casts Tom Tancredo, Ron Paul, and Duncan Hunter as "angry fringe candidates." (He describes Steve Forbes, who made a late entry in 1996 and was considered an early top-tier candidate in 2000, as a "hard right fringe candidate.")

Sam Brownback, often paired with Huckabee as a fellow social conservative from the south central US, is described by Medved as an "ego-tripper" in the mold of Orrin Hatch and Bob Smith ("ran more for attention and publicity than with any real thought of winning anything").

Medved includes Huckabee as a major contender, one of the "Big Five", and as he runs through the flaws of each -- "two messy divorces," "slick, pandering flip-flopper," "too old and too cantankerous," and "upstaged by his micro-managing Trophy Wife" -- Huckabee's problems are "can't seem to raise money" and "background as a Baptist preacher" which might alienate Catholic voters. Medved tags the other four with internal, character flaws, while Huckabee's only problems are external and beyond his control. Nothing about his nanny-state proclivities, his record of supporting tax increases, his opposition to tough immigration enforcement.

Mitt Romney has Hugh Hewitt, and now it appears that Huckabee has his Hewitt in Michael Medved.

I just watched a lengthy investigative piece by KOTV about the Tulsa County Public Facilities Authority's decision to boot Bell's from the Fairgrounds. If you've been reading about the issue here and in Urban Tulsa Weekly, there won't be too much that you haven't already heard, but they do a good job of pulling it all the pieces together for the viewing audience -- including the connection with Murphy Brothers, the aggressive marketing campaign by Bell's that got Jerry Murphy angry, and the fact that Bell's, even in their tough last two seasons, paid more in their lease than Big Splash and the Drillers combined.

The piece includes interviews with Robby Bell, Expo Square CEO Rick Bjorklund, and County Commissioner Randi Miller, TCPFA chairman, who pushed for Bell's removal.

I did learn a few new things. I learned that the Murphy family not only gave $5,000 to Randi Miller for her futile campaign for mayor, but they also contributed the same amount to new County Commissioner John Smaligo after he was elected.

Also, Miller admitted that she did NOT ask Murphy Brothers for a business plan when they granted the company a new 10-year midway contract. No competitive bidding was done.

In the piece, you'll see where the ride equipment is stored, you'll get a glimpse of the business plan that Randi Miller said was inadequate (looks professionally done to me, anyway), a certification from a ride vendor that Bell's was approved for financing for a new ride, sketches of the new coaster that was finally approved when the county pulled the plug, and concept sketches for a new park.

If you have Cox Cable, you can catch the replay on channel 53. KOTV's website has the full text of the Terry Hood's story about Bell's Amusement Park, plus photos, including images of excerpts from Murphy Brothers' 1989 and 2006 contracts with the TCPFA. I hope that KOTV will later post video of the story, and I'll link it if they do. (UPDATE: Here's the video for KOTV's story about Bell's Amusement Park.)

UPDATED 2012/09/14 with link to story on the Internet Archive Wayback Machine. Unfortunately the video was not archived.

Well done, KOTV.

As Churchill said, Nothing in life is so exhilarating as to be shot at without result.:

A military cargo plane carrying three senators and a House member was forced to take evasive maneuvers and dispatch flares to avoid ground fire after taking off from Baghdad on Thursday night.

The lawmakers said their plane, a C-130, was under fire from three rocket-propelled grenades over the course of several minutes as they left for Amman, Jordan.

"It was a scary moment," said Sen. Mel Martinez, R-Fla., who said he had just taken off his body armor when he saw a bright flash outside the window. "Our pilots were terrific. ... They banked in one direction and then banked the other direction, and they set off the flares."

Sens. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., and James Inhofe, R-Okla., as well as Rep. Bud Cramer, D-Ala., were also on the plane.

Cramer and Martinez said they had just begun to relax about five or 10 minutes after the plane took off under darkness.

Crew members apparently communicated to the pilots as they saw the initial RPG fired from the ground, Cramer said. After the first burst, the pilots maneuvered aggressively and set off flares used for drawing incoming fire away from aircraft.

Once the flares lit up the sky, lawmakers said, two more RPGs were fired as the pilots continued maneuvering.

Over at the TulsaNow public forum, in a discussion about the river tax plan, Kirby Crowe, program manager for Vision 2025 had this to say about the availability of information about those projects (he uses the handle Vision 2025 on the forum):

Despite what some say, Tulsa County goes farther than any other governmental agency that I know of in providing transparency on sales tax projects. Vision 2025 has an independent Sales Tax Overview Committee who is provided timely detailed reports identifying all expenditures and the revenue received....

Projects for Vision are reported on the web and the detailed monthly reports are provided to all project sponsors and are on file at the Central Library and each year a newsletter style report is delivered by direct mail and multiple distribution points to the voters of Tulsa County.

I responded with a compliment and a question. I'm crossposting it here to see if someone here has the answer. So far no one has answered it over there:

The monthly Vision 2025 reports are quite thorough and fairly straightforward. Do you think they could be posted on the vision2025.info site?

Anyone looking for them at Central Library should be aware that there are now five binders containing the reports, but (as of a couple of weeks ago) only two are on the local government shelf. The most recent three are in the reference workroom, and you have to ask at the 4th Floor reference desk to see them.

One thing the reports don't contain is the financial plan to which John Piercey, financial contractor on Tulsa County bond issues, has referred in recent public statements.

This plan would include sales tax revenue projections and expected expenditures -- debt service, pay-as-you-go projects (e.g. Oklahoma Aquarium), projects that have yet to be funded (e.g. American Indian Cultural Center), and anticipated administrative fees (e.g., payments to PMg and attorneys).

In other words -- how much money you have on hand, what you expect to come in, and what you're already committed to spend it on, as well as when you expect the money to come in and when you expect to spend it.

Piercey's revenue projections from August 16, 2006, were included in a spreadsheet in the end-of-June Vision 2025 report that PMg prepared. Piercey's projections plus actual receipts through June 2006 come to a grand total of $750,274,016.33. What the Vision 2025 monthly report lacked, something Piercey's plan apparently has, are the details of bond repayment schedules and other anticipated expenses.

I asked Kirby Crowe by phone if he had a copy of this plan. I'm not sure if I made my meaning clear, but I came away from the conversation with the impression that he did not have a copy of Piercey's financial plan.

I called Jim Smith, the County's fiscal officer, and asked if he had a copy of the financial plan. I thought he might, since his name is on the monthly memo in the Vision 2025 report listing tax receipts, the monthly wire transfer from the sales tax fund to the trustee, and the interest earnings on the sales tax trust account.

Smith said he didn't have the financial plan, but suggested I call John Piercey. Mr. Smith could tell me what the payment to the trustee would be for the next six months, at which point it would be recalculated, but couldn't tell me anything more about future expenses.

I called Capital West, and they gave me John Piercey's number. I called John, and he was very gracious. He said he'd e-mail it to me that evening or the following morning. He said something about recalculating based on more recent tax receipts. I'd really be happy seeing the most recent version, whatever he's been using as the basis for his statements about Vision 2025 surpluses.

That was a week ago Monday, the 20th. I gave him a reminder call on the 28th -- got his voicemail and left a message. Haven't heard back yet. I'm sure he's quite busy.

Can anyone suggest somewhere else I could find this information?

Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

Policy analysts have come out swinging on the topics of the Fair Tax (national sales tax) and public-private toll roads. The language goes beyond dry analysis. Here's Bruce Bartlett in the Wall Street Journal on the Fair Tax:

For those who never heard about it, the FairTax is a national retail sales tax that would replace the entire current federal tax system. It was originally devised by the Church of Scientology in the early 1990s as a way to get rid of the Internal Revenue Service, with which the church was then at war (at the time the IRS refused to recognize it as a legitimate religion). The Scientologists' idea was that since almost all states have sales taxes, replacing federal taxes with the same sort of tax would allow them to collect the federal government's revenue and thereby get rid of their hated enemy, the IRS.

Holy Guilt by Association, Batman! The rest of the piece raises some reasonable questions about the numbers that Fair Tax advocates have been using and the problem with taxing some sales that aren't currently taxed (e.g., new home sales) and collecting sales taxes where there currently isn't a state sales tax (e.g. Delaware). I think, though, that he's off-base regarding the sales tax rebate included in the plan. Bartlett writes:

Since sales taxes are regressive--taking more in percentage terms from the incomes of the poor and middle class than the rich--some provision is needed to prevent a vast increase in taxation on the nonwealthy. The FairTax does this by sending monthly checks to every household based on income.

Aside from the incredible complexity and intrusiveness of tracking every American's monthly income--and creating a de facto national welfare program--the FairTax does not include the cost of this rebate in the tax rate. As noted earlier, the FairTax is designed only to match current revenues and does not cover any increased spending that it may require. Since the rebate will cost at least $600 billion the first year, either federal discretionary spending would have to be cut by 60% or the rate would have to be five percentage points higher than advertised.

It's my understanding that the rebate would be uniform and universal, effectively exempting the first X dollars of spending from this national sales tax. It still would require a federal taxing authority to determine who is entitled to the rebate, and I suppose it would vary by number of people in a household.

This seems a bit of a juvenile rhetorical overreach, too:

Perhaps the biggest deception in the FairTax, however, is its promise to relieve individuals from having to file income tax returns, keep extensive financial records and potentially suffer audits. Judging by the emphasis FairTax supporters place on the idea of making April 15 just another day, this seems to be a major selling point for their proposal.

Yet all but six states now have state income taxes. So unless one lives in one of those states, this promise is an empty one indeed. In short, the FairTax is too good to be true, and voters should not take seriously any candidate who supports it.

If the Fair Tax takes hold at the federal level, presumably voters will want to encourage it at the state level too.

I have my own doubts about the advantages of the Fair Tax -- there will still be wrangling about what is and isn't a taxable sale, what constitutes a valid business expense, and the distinction between wholesale and retail -- but I don't think Mr. Bartlett is being entirely fair.

The other rhetorical smackdown comes from Stephen Malanga in City Journal against opponents of public-private partnerships for the construction of roads and other infrastructure:

If the deals can overcome resistance from anti-privatization groups and from politicians who benefit from keeping a stranglehold on government assets, they could help make up for decades of underinvestment in infrastructure—and thereby renew America’s landscape....

The extraordinary breadth and scope of these deals places America on the verge of a financing revolution—that is, if it isn’t snuffed out by powerful politicians and anti-privatization advocates, who’re trying to turn a practical solution for governors and mayors into a partisan issue. There’s no reason that Democrats shouldn’t get behind privatization, as they did recently in big projects in Chicago and Virginia. Nevertheless, Democratic congressman Peter DeFazio of Oregon, head of the powerful House Subcommittee on Highways, Transit, and Pipelines, accused the Republican Daniels of selling the Indiana Toll Road to make “an ideological point” about downsizing government....

Malanga seems oblivious to the concerns about public-private partnerships coming from conservative Republicans over foreign control of public assets, public entities "leasing" their power of eminent domain to private companies, the lack of competitive bidding when selecting a private partner, and the bizarre non-compete clauses insisted upon by the private "partners."

These two articles seem to be more about marginalizing a threatening alternative perspective than engaging in dialogue with otherwise like-minded people who disagree on these issues.

MORE: In the comments, Tyson Wynn notes that Fair Tax advocate Neal Boortz rebutted Bartlett's column on his radio show earlier this week. You can read what he had to say in Boortz's "Nealz Nuze" archives for August 26 and August 27.

In my latest column for Urban Tulsa Weekly, I make reference to a James Thurber short story which defines the phrase you see above, an apt description for the situation the Tulsa Drillers find themselves in.

You can read Thurber's "The Catbird Seat" by following this link. It has little to do with baseball, but it is a clever turning-the-tables story with a surprise ending that will make you smile. Here's how it starts:

Mr. Martin bought the pack of Camels on Monday night in the most crowded cigar store on Broadway. It was theatre time and seven or eight men were buying cigarettes. The clerk didn’t even glance at Mr. Martin, who put the pack in his overcoat pocket and went out. If any of the staff at F & S had seen him buy the cigarettes, they would have been astonished, for it was generally known that Mr. Martin did not smoke, and never had. No one saw him.

It was just a week to the day since Mr. Martin had decided to rub out Mrs. Ulgine Barrows. The term “rub out” pleased him because it suggested nothing more than the correction of an error – in this case an error of Mr. Fitweiler. Mr. Martin had spent each night of the past week working out his plan and examining it. As he walked home now he went over it again....

Steve Lackmeyer, writing for The Oklahoman, has been visiting Tulsa and asking questions of "downtown civic leaders" and doesn't think the answers he's getting make much sense:

Why, for example, was a site surrounded by large institutional properties like the U.S. Post Office, Tulsa Sheriff's Office and City Hall, chosen as the site for the city's new arena? Why not instead build an arena between two fledgling entertainment areas, the Brady and Blue Dome districts?

And why, in a city world-renown for its Art Deco architecture, would one not do everything possible to restore the one surviving grand hotel -- the Mayo -- back into a hotel instead of housing?

Experienced hands in downtown Oklahoma City share such questions. But their counterparts in Tulsa -- the ones I've visited with -- seem much more interested in promoting their current course than to stop and reconsider.

People in Tulsa have asked the same question regarding the arena site. An alternative site northeast of Archer and Elgin, now under discussion as a site for a baseball park, was already owned by the Tulsa Development Authority, would not have involved displacing any businesses or demolishing any significant buildings, would not have required closing any streets, and would have provided a link between Greenwood, OSU-Tulsa, Brady Arts District, and Blue Dome.

The Mayo Hotel, of course, will be both housing and a hotel. And it's Sullivanesque, not Art Deco. Around here, we're just grateful it's still standing, and that restoration is slowly under way.

As for his third point, you don't see much reconsideration around here. The arena location was identified as far back as 1995, and changing downtown patterns didn't inspire anyone with a seat at the table to take a second look. For the folks at the Chamber and DTU, reconsideration might lead them to acknowledge that some of the criticism of their decisions was valid -- can't have that.

You can read more commentary on Lackmeyer's column on this topic at the TulsaNow public forum.

If you live in Oklahoma and run a blog, you are eligible to nominate blogs, vote for blogs, and maybe even win an Okie Blog Award. This will be the third year for the peer-driven awards, founded and run by Mike Hermes of Okiedoke.com, one of his many wonderful efforts to build an Oklahoma blogging community.

You'll find the rules for participation and the categories here. Nominations close on September 8.

This process is a great opportunity to introduce yourself to new Okie blogs, even if you aren't a blogger and aren't eligible to vote. The Blog Oklahoma web ring has 458 members, so there is a lot of unexplored territory out there. If you have or know of an Okie blog that I ought to check out before I submit my nominations, please leave a comment below.

Mike at Okiedoke has been closely following the latest news of the possible relocation of the Seattle SuperSonics pro basketball franchise to Oklahoma City. Here are a few thoughts on what he's gleaned.

So Oklahoma City voted for the MAPS sales tax in 1993. Construction on the Ford Center began in 1999. The Ford Center opened in June 2002. When New Orleans was devastated by Hurricane Katrina, Oklahoma City cleared the calendar to allow the New Orleans Hornets to play their 2005-2006 and 2006-2007 seasons at the Ford Center.

A group of investors from Oklahoma City bought the Seattle SuperSonics and plan to move the team to Oklahoma City. Because one of the owners didn't keep quiet about that intention, he's been fined $250,000 by the NBA. Seattle has been given an ultimatum -- give us a bigger, better place to play or we're gone.

But surely Oklahoma City, with its five-year-old arena which spent two seasons as host to an NBA team, won't need to build a new facility to be the worthy home of the NBA Oklahoma SuperSonic Bacon Cheeseburger Toasters, right? Right?

Wrong. Hypothetically speaking.

When asked by a SuperSonics employee why the ownership team would consider forsaking the bigger and more prosperous Seattle market for Oklahoma City, chairman Clay Bennett listed the incentives Oklahoma City had offered to the SuperSonics:

  • Any legal fees involving the team’s fight to break the KeyArena lease.
  • Whatever the settlement is to the Seattle Center to buy out the lease.
  • All relocation fees the NBA would force the team to pay other owners.
  • Costs of physically moving the team’s staff and offices.
  • Costs of upgrading the city’s current arena, the Ford Center, to make it NBA-ready.
  • Costs of building a new arena, and when it’s finished, keeping the old facility running.

The Ford Center's not even good enough as a temporary home without modifications, and evidently no upgrades will suffice to qualify it as a permanent home.

Bennett covered his tracks with the NBA by saying he was answering the question hypothetically.

So how is Oklahoma City going to pay for all this? With the extra revenue generated by all the economic growth that occurred because of the MAPS projects, they must have money to keep their streets in excellent repair and plenty left over for incentives to the SuperSonics, right?

Right?

Wrong.

This December Oklahoma City is going to be asking its voters to approve a $760 million bond issue for street repairs and basic capital infrastructure, nearly twice the rumored amount of a 2008 Tulsa street bond issue. Mayor Mick Cornett is even considering levying an impact fee to cover the additional cost to the city of serving new development. (That's not a bad idea, actually.)

At least Oklahoma City voters will be able to vote on necessities prior to having to make a choice about a tax for a new sports arena to replace its five-year old facility.

Totality from 4:52 a.m. to 6:22 a.m., CDT. Tyson Wynn has details.

Danny Carlton is a good blogger. Politically, we're usually on the same page. I used to read his website on a regular basis.

Some time ago, he made the decision to block all Firefox users from his websites. If you're browsing in Firefox and click on one of his links, it sends you to whyfirefoxisblocked.com, where he explains that he's resorted to this because of a Firefox add-on called AdBlock Plus.

His feeling is that if you don't want to look at his ads, you shouldn't get to read his content. Fair enough. That's his right. Since he can't selectively detect and block AdBlock Plus users, he's blocking all Firefox users. He explains that it's no great loss, because there aren't that many Firefox users anyway, and they don't spend as much money as IE users. And he says that the Mozilla Corporation, which produces Firefox, is abetting theft by listing AdBlock Plus

It seems a bit excessive and counterproductive to block (and annoy) all his readers who use Firefox to screen out the handful that have installed AdBlock Plus. But that's his right.

The problem for him is that opinions are a dime a dozen. Danny is a good blogger, but he's hardly indispensable. If I can't read his site, I'll just spend that browsing time somewhere else. The typical reaction to being redirected to whyfirefoxisblocked.com won't be howls of outrage, but a shrug, followed by a click on the "Close Tab" X.

His most recent post is a swipe at "FireFox fanboys". Some of it is lashing out at people who have responded to his ban with profanity, denial of service attacks, and other reprehensible behavior, but some of it is aimed at ordinary Firefox users:

If you think the future of the internet is best decided by a committee of unelected computer-nerds (W3C), rather than the wishes and desires of billions of internet users (market forces)... ...you might be a FF Fanboy.

Blogger Don Singleton posted the first reply:

You are generally very level headed, but your war with FireFox users is tiring.

Danny responded with:

The Fanboys are only a segment of FF users. I'm not at war with FF users. I never was.

I tried to chime in with this comment:

What Don Singleton said. If you block all Firefox users, you're at war with all Firefox users.

What percentage of your pageviews were coming from Firefox, and what percentage of your Firefox users were actually blocking your ads? And aren't there add-ons to IE that do the same thing as Firefox AdBlock Plus? Are you blocking them, too?

I have to use IE to pay a couple of bills every month. Other than that, if I can't get to it from Firefox, I don't bother going. (I made a special effort to read this post when it popped up on my Newsgator page.)

And yes, I'd rather have a neutral standards body define HTML than Microsoft. If that makes me a fanboy, so be it.

But when I hit post, this popped up:

Comments are disabled due to server drain. When the children finish their tantrums, comments will be enabled

I'll give him this much: Sitemeter had him averaging around 100 visits a day until his decision to block Firefox got the attention of Slashdot and other popular websites. He came close to 3000 visits a few days ago.

UPDATE: Danny's advertisers have another, bigger problem than Firefox. Our brains have their own built in Adblock, writes Jakob Nielsen (via a comment on an item on Guardian Unlimited):

The most prominent result from the new eyetracking studies is not actually new. We simply confirmed for the umpteenth time that banner blindness is real. Users almost never look at anything that looks like an advertisement, whether or not it's actually an ad.

On hundreds of pages, users didn't fixate on ads. The following heatmaps show three examples that cover a range of user engagement with the content: quick scanning, partial reading, and thorough reading. Scanning is more common than reading, but users will sometimes dig into an article if they really care about it.

At all levels of user engagement, the finding is the same regarding banners (outlined with green boxes in the above illustration): almost no fixations within advertisements. If users are looking for a quick fact, they want to get done and aren't diverted by banners; and if users are engrossed in a story, they're not going to look away from the content.

[Click through to the article to see the heatmaps.]

The heatmaps also show how users don't fixate within design elements that resemble ads, even if they aren't ads (and thus aren't shown within green boxes above).

What does attract attention?

For example, we know that there are 3 design elements that are most effective at attracting eyeballs:
  • Plain text
  • Faces
  • Cleavage and other "private" body parts

And the fourth way to get a reader to pay attention to an ad:

  • The more an ad looks like a native site component, the more users will look at it.
  • Not only should the ad look like the site's other design elements, it should appear to be part of the specific page section in which it's displayed.

But, writes Nielsen, that approach is unethical and likely to turn off readers in the long run if abused:

A specific ad may or may not be ethical, depending on how closely it masquerades as content. I caution against going too far, because it can backfire and mislead users. Unethical ads will get you more fixations, but ethical business practices will attract more loyal customers in the long run.

AND STILL MORE: Here's the Slashdot thread about Danny Carlton, courtesy Manasclerk.

More commentary on the matter from the folks who keep Oklahoma bloggers connected: Mike H. at Okiedoke and Kevin Latham, admin of the Blog Oklahoma webring. Kevin was annoyed enough to consider revoking Danny's membership in Blog Oklahoma, but decided to do nothing.

Part of the Oklahoma Local Development Act, 62 O. S. 860, a provision to encourage restoration of buildings historic neighborhood commercial districts, by allowing local governments to exempt taxation on the incremental property value (emphasis added):

D. A project plan may contain a provision that ad valorem taxes may be exempted in a commercial historic preservation area that is adjacent to and serves designated historical residential areas for neighborhood commercial preservation purposes in order for the neighborhood to retain its basic character and scale. No ad valorem tax exemption may be granted on the value of property which has been assessed or which is subject to assessment prior to the adoption of the project plan. No ad valorem tax exemption shall be granted pursuant to the provisions of this subsection for single-family residences. The governing body may grant the exemption only on the increase in value of the property. The exemptions may be granted for a specific period of time as determined by a written agreement between the property owners of the area and the governing body and may be renewed. Uses of the property eligible for this exemption may include but not be limited to commercial, office or multifamily residential use.

Is this actually in use anywhere in the state? Maybe only in Oklahoma City?

Found via the 2007 Oklahoma Business Incentives Tax Information Guide -- 60 pages worth of brief descriptions of tax exemptions, credits, and other incentives that Oklahoma offers to companies doing business in the state.

Talk up Tulsa

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There's a great letter in today's Whirled from someone named L. D. Young who is tired of the whiny expressions of boredom emanating from some young professional types:

At a recent meeting on the proposed river development plan, I was irritated by comments from the Young Tulsa Professionals that, "There's nothing to do in Tulsa."

Are they in the same Tulsa area as me? A town that offers the breadth of cultural and social opportunities as Tulsa can hardly be termed "nothing to do." Let me direct their short attention spans to a few things to do.

The writer goes on to list museums, festivals, theater groups, art galleries, nightclubs, live music venues, coffeehouses, and places to see and be seen and then concludes:

Filling the river bed with water will just be another short-term fix for the mini-me entitlement generation who visualize life as an episode of "Sex in the City." Sorry, but that is not the real world. Quit your whining and find something to do.

The funny thing is that none of what's proposed in the river tax plan is going to produce the kind of excitement that these TYpros types say they're after.

Any parent knows that you can't cure kid boredom with more stuff. If you cave in when they complain of boredom and give them something new, in less than a day they'll be bored once more. The better path is to reintroduce them to something cool that they've forgotten or overlooked.

And that's what the grownups ought to be doing in this situation. The Tulsa Metro Chamber ought to be introducing these discontented youngsters to all the opportunities for fun around town, all the excitement being generated by private enterprise, aka "commerce," a word that used to be in that organization's name.

Instead, those with a vested interest in relieving taxpayers of their money are cynically exploiting the ennui of these young adults by telling them that it's not their fault that they're bored. No, Tulsa voters are the scapegoats, and if only those selfish naysayers would pay higher taxes, Tulsa would be transformed into a young single adults' paradise. Just like Surf City there'd be "two girls for every boy," but also vice versa!

Four years ago we listened to the tax proponents tell us how lousy Tulsa was -- stagnant, boring, dying. They told us if we gave them half a billion dollars they'd make it all better. Voters bought what they were selling. So how can they keep claiming that Tulsa is stagnant, boring, dying? Isn't that an admission that the package they sold us in 2003 -- Vision 2025 -- didn't work as promised? Or wasn't even what we needed?

A few months ago I linked to this wonderful testimonial to the free and inexpensive fun that Tulsa offers, and how you can find out about it in the events pages of Urban Tulsa Weekly. Tasha Does Tulsa has the same theme.

It would be nice if what was once known as the Chamber of Commerce and their affiliated young professional group (TYpros) would do more to talk up Tulsa instead of running it down.

Ron Coleman writes of Bill Clinton's latest whopper:

I use Bill Clinton in my work all the time. My work as a lawyer is in the field of litigation, and I frequently have to help witnesses prepare for their depositions. As part of that preparation, I always tell them this, more or less verbatim:
Don't even try lying. Who was the best liar in our lifetimes -- the world champ? Right, Bill Clinton. He was the greatest. And what happened to him? He got caught, hung up. Almost no one is a good enough liar to keep it going, so if your conscience doesn't prevent you from lying under oath, at least learn the lesson of Bill Clinton. Just tell the truth.

As the saying goes: "It may be that your sole purpose in life is to serve as a warning to others."

In my reading about public-private partnerships, I had heard about non-compete clauses for privatized toll roads in Texas, where government was forbidden by its contract with the private toll road operators from making any improvements to public roads that might draw traffic -- and revenue -- away from the toll road.

But there's a public-private toll road partnership with a non-compete clause that required local government to make a parallel road more congested. The toll road is E-470 and the state is Colorado:

When E-470 opened in 2002, some people thought it was a strange coincidence that, about the same time, the speed limit on nearby Tower Road, a paved, 2-lane, rural highway, dropped from 55 MPH to 40 MPH. Several apparently unnecessary traffic signals also appeared. This, in spite of the fact that after the toll road opened, Tower Road would have even less traffic than it did before.

Well, it was no coincidence.

The lower speed limit and extra traffic signals, which make Tower Road slower and less convenient to use, are required by a "non-compete" clause in an agreement between the E-470 Public Highway Authority and nearby Commerce City.

The goal is to impede traffic on Tower Road so drivers will decide they are better off using the toll road. This protects the revenue stream from the tolls, thereby protecting the interests of the toll road's investors.

The non-compete clause between the highway authority and Commerce City provides that the speed limit on Tower Road be lowered from 55 MPH to 40 MPH, and that stop lights be installed on Tower Road at 96th, 104th, and 112th Avenues. Also, the City must limit future improvements on Tower Road to shoulder work, turning lanes at intersections, development-specific widening, and normal maintenance. These requirements must remain in effect until January 1, 2008. After that, the speed limit can be raised, the stop lights can be removed, and the City is again free to make improvements to Tower Road.

The other non-compete clause is in an agreement with the Cities of Aurora, Brighton, and Thornton, the Town of Parker, and Adams and Douglas Counties. It provides that, for at least fifteen years, these entities will not construct or improve any road (with certain pre-approved exceptions) that competes with E-470 "in a way that the amount of toll revenues projected by the Approved Plan of Finance to be collected from the users of E-470 would be materially impaired or reduced."

Can we all agree that this kind of practice is just plain wrong? But it's exactly the sort of stipulation that these PPP contracts will have in order to make them profitable and attractive to investors.

Imagine if the City of Tulsa's arena management contract with SMG included a requirement on the city to, say, levy a $10 a ticket tax on movies and concerts at smaller venues, so as to channel pent-up demand for entertainment to arena events and ensure that SMG met its performance targets.

(I found this story in a list of examples of blogs from across the political spectrum doing original reporting, covering stories that the traditional media had missed.)

This, posted at the American Spectator website, seems familiar:

TOM COBURN RECALLS a confrontation on Capitol Hill shortly after last November's GOP bloodbath. He ran into his fellow Republican Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska, the then powerful chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee and chief Senate sponsor of the Alaska Bridge to Nowhere. "He strolled up to me and said: 'Well, Tom, I hope you're satisfied for helping us lose the election.'" Stevens was evidently still infuriated by Coburn's nationally publicized crusade against runaway pork-barrel spending over the past two years. To that, Coburn, never the shrinking violet, replied: "No, Ted, you lost us the election."

The story speaks volumes about the sad state of affairs inside the Republican Party and the Gulf of Mexico-sized disconnect between the party powerbrokers in Washington and a thoroughly disgusted conservative base. The party regulars still blame the November defeat on the fiscal whistleblowers like Coburn, not the fake Republicans who grew a $1.9 trillion budget by an additional trillion dollars in five years.

Coburn and his pork-fighting colleagues are making a difference:

In January, Coburn strong-armed the new Democratic majority into passing the leanest federal budget in five years, and, more remarkably, one that withholds funding for thousands of Teapot museums and Wild Turkey Federations. Coburn and his constant but lower-profile senatorial sidekick, Jim DeMint of South Carolina, teamed up to save the nation about $15 to $20 billion. "We actually shamed them into ending the pork," Coburn tells me.

But Coburn isn't satisfied:

His latest fiscal crusade is called "Good Government A to Z, "a plan to rewrite the entire budget act. Why? "Half the federal agencies don't even report on improper payments. FEMA claims none. They can't pass a basic audit. Twenty-five percent of government programs don't even have a goal," he complains. He is so miserly when it comes to spending taxpayer dollars that last year he returned $200,000 of unspent money from his personal Senate office expense account to the government. Yet, Coburn, with virtually the smallest budget of any senator, is arguably the most effective legislator on Capitol Hill. Jeff Flake, who is Coburn's anti-spending pit bull in the House, says that he and the small band of small government conservatives in the House often say: "Thank God for Tom, he makes our life at least tolerable over here in the House, where earmarking is an even bigger problem."

Can we please have more people like Tom Coburn, Randy Brogdon, and John Eagleton in public office?

... why someone who represents a district of roughly 35,000 people needs to raise a quarter of a million dollars to run for re-election? And why he needs to spend $20,000 a month in an off-year?

House Speaker Lance Cargill, raised almost $250,000 in the first six months of 2007, including more than $190,000 from April 1 through June 30, according to state Ethics Commission reports. Cargill's campaign fund spent more than $120,000 during the first half of 2007.

MORE: Maybe this is a clue?

Oklahoma House Speaker Republican Lance Cargill, the founder of a group known as The 100 Ideas Initiative, has invited Poole to give a June 13 luncheon speech at Spirit Bank in Tulsa.

Oklahoma activists opposed to the construction of NAFTA superhighway toll roads have objected that bringing a "heavy hitter" like Poole to Oklahoma signals that state politicians are already lining up with investment bankers in a PPP plan designed to bring the Texas Department of Transportation's Trans-Texas Corridor into their state.

Poole's luncheon speech will be introduced by opening remarks from Cargill.

... no matter what Principal Chief Chad Smith says.

From the 1866 post-Civil War treaty between the U. S. and the Cherokee Nation (emphasis added):

ARTICLE 9.

The Cherokee Nation having, voluntarily, in February, eighteen hundred and sixty-three, by an act of the national council, forever abolished slavery, hereby covenant and agree that never hereafter shall either slavery or involuntary servitude exist in their nation otherwise than in the punishment of crime, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, in accordance with laws applicable to all the members of said tribe alike. They further agree that all freedmen who have been liberated by voluntary act of their former owners or by law, as well as all free colored persons who were in the country at the commencement of the rebellion, and are now residents therein, or who may return within six months, and their descendants, shall have all the rights of native Cherokees: Provided, That owners of slaves so emancipated in the Cherokee Nation shall never receive any compensation or pay for the slaves so emancipated.

I doubt I would agree with U. S. Rep. Diane Watson on much, but she's right about this.

Only 19 percent of Tulsa County frequent voters sampled in a recent KOTV/Tulsa Whirled poll approve of the Tulsa County Public Facilities Authority's decision to boot Bell's from their home for over half a century. 70% said they disapprove. A larger number but still a minority, 27%, supported the City's decision to annex the Fairgrounds. Since the latter was a City action, it would have been interesting to know the ayes and nays among City of Tulsa voters.

The pollsters asked whether the two changes would affect respondents' plans to attend the Tulsa State Fair. I wish they'd also asked whether the Bell's decision would affect voters' opinion of the proposed river sales tax. With Randi Miller up for re-election next year, the "deserves reelection / time to give someone else a chance" question would have been interesting to ask, too.

Last Tuesday I covered the Tulsa Press Club luncheon for Urban Tulsa Weekly, while UTW reporter Brian Ervin was busy covering Commissioner Randi Miller's appearance at the City Council Urban Development Committee meeting. You should see both stories in this week's issue.

The speaker at TPC was Downtown Tulsa Unlimited president Jim "not the Toyota dealer" Norton. He covered a dozen or more downtown development projects, both public and private, including the possibility that the Tulsa Drillers minor league baseball team would relocate from the Fairgrounds to downtown. Norton said he was "80% certain it" would happen and that some possible locations had been identified.

Now the Whirled has a breaking story that the Drillers have signed a letter of intent to locate at a new development in Jenks.

A spokesman for the Drillers said the team has signed a non-binding letter of intent to move into a new stadium planned for the development, which would be just south of the Oklahoma Aquarium.

The facility would include a 7000-seat ballpark, developers say.

Not Tulsa, of course; Kitsap County, Washington:

Authorities are looking for a burglary suspect they said was identified through DNA left on a beer can at a crime scene in 2005.

Prosecutors in Kitsap County have charged Curtis Kees Napoleon, a 20-year-old North Kitsap man, in thefts of over $30,000 in missing appliances, boat motors and other items that disappeared around Dec. 20, 2005 from four residences.

Deputies found a can of Miller Lite beer and later asked Port Gamble S'Klallam Tribal Police to request people of interest in the case to submit voluntary saliva samples.

The State Patrol Crime Lab eventually made a match, deputies said.

(Hat tip to reader S. Lee.)

The Tulsa Police Department doesn't investigate burglaries as a matter of policy. It may not be an official policy, but it seems to be a de facto policy. They regard burglaries as an insurance matter and their role as one of documenting the loss. You might call the approach "no-fault burglary." It's a force of nature, apparently: Sometimes the hail damages your roof, sometimes a stranger enters your house and takes your stuff.

In 1999, our old home was burglarized while my wife and son were at our new house for inspections. They came home to find a girl's bicycle in the driveway and the front door open. They were afraid to go in for fear that someone was still in there. I came to the house, and we called the police. It took a few hours for them to show up. One officer checked the house to be sure no one was in side.

The burglar had apparently come in a back window. My wife had been in a hurry to get to the inspection and had forgotten to set the alarm. He had been after easily portable valuables. He dumped my wife's earring box and rummaged through drawers. He stole a camcorder and 35mm camera (with photos and video of my son's 3rd birthday party), a portable CD player and CDs, some house keys on a ring inside the house, and a checkbook.

Other officers came a bit later and talked to us. We left things in their state of disarray, not wanting to disturb any physical evidence. We asked about the girl's bike. Probably was taken from a burglary earlier in the day. "Do you need it for evidence?" No, keep it for your kid or give it away. "Aren't you going to dust for fingerprints?" No.

They handed us a phone headset that they had found at another nearby burglary. It was ours. So there were indications that the same person or persons had robbed three homes in the same day, taking a bike from the first house and abandoning it at our house, then taking a number of items at our house and accidentally dropping one of them at the next house. And yet the officers made it clear they were only there to make a record of the burglary and to provide us a report to take to our insurance company.

We had the locks changed, called the bank to stop payment on the checks that had been stolen. We tracked down the serial numbers of the camera, camcorder, and CD player, and filed a supplemental report with the police, thinking they would be put on the list that pawn shops use to check for stolen property, hoping it might help the police to catch the crooks.

Then one of our stolen checks was received by the bank. (The bank didn't notify me immediately -- it showed up in the next statement.) Someone had written a check to Pizza Hut delivery at 49th and Peoria. I requested an image of the check from the bank. They had forged my signature -- not even close. The phone number from which the order had been called in had been written on the check by the delivery man.

I notified the detective assigned to the case. Here was a lead. At the very least, we knew that someone had committed a crime by trying to pass a stolen check.

The detective was uninterested. He said that wouldn't be enough to tie someone to the burglary and get a conviction. Well, of course not, but surely it was enough to justify at least visiting the residence where the pizza had been delivered and the stolen check had been offered in payment. Nope.

I'm not sure why TPD doesn't pursue burglars more vigorously. Perhaps it's because they aren't prosecuted vigorously. Perhaps it's a lack of police manpower. Perhaps it's a mistaken philosophy of policing. I've heard enough stories from others to know that it isn't a matter of the individual cops not caring. The decision was made above their pay grade.

Whatever the reason, it needs to change.

It seems to me that some of these burglaries could end in home invasion, assault, and even murder. Some of these burglars could be tied to crime syndicates. "Broken windows" theory says that when you start to enforce lesser laws, the rate of more serious crime goes down.

I wonder if insurance companies keep tabs on which cities have the highest rate of burglary or the highest rate of unsolved burglary cases. We get an insurance discount for having a monitored alarm system. Not that I want my premiums to go up, but it seems reasonable that insurance companies would raise rates on policyholders in cities that are effectively sanctuaries for burglary.

I'm stunned by today's banner headline article on the front page of today's Whirled. Here's the headline:

Test results spike after change

The story breathlessly tells of "remarkable results":

The statistical leaps being reported by area districts in the percentage of students deemed proficient in Algebra I are staggering -- up 51 percentage points in Glenpool, more than 60 percentage points in Sapulpa and 44 percentage points in Broken Arrow.

In Tulsa Public Schools, the percentage of students deemed proficient in Algebra I at Washington High School jumped from 17 to 86 percent, and Memorial High School's numbers went from 9 to 50 percent.

What change caused these results? A return to traditional methods of instruction? Better control of classroom behavior?

Nope. They just lowered the passing grade. Instead of needing to answer 41 questions out of 55 to be deemed proficient, now students only need to answer 26 out of 55 questions. In percentages, the passing grade was dropped from 75% correct to 47% correct. A student who gets as many answers wrong as right still is deemed proficient in Algebra.

What might be motivating this change in standards?

End-of-instruction exams are given to secondary students in Oklahoma in four subject areas, but only the results for the Algebra I and English II tests are used to gauge overall student achievement under state and federal school accountability systems.

They lower the standard and more students are able to meet the lowered standard. I'm just amazed that the Whirled would think that's worth a banner headline.

UPDATE:

Retired algebra teacher Michael Phillips comments on the Whirled website about the use of competency tests:

I am a retired Tulsa Public Schools teacher, who taught mostly algebra through out my career. I dreamed of someday seeing end-of-instruction exams in my classroom. There was a time in the mid 80s when Tulsa had a version of this. We were required to give what we called Competency Tests to each student in any high school level math class. Those students who passed were given the grade the teacher believed they earned through their course work. Those who failed the Competency Test failed the course. This system worked out well for those teachers who were demanding of their students. It was disaster for those teachers who offered little or no instruction and things were even worse for the students in their classes. The Tulsa Board of Education did away with these tests after a few years because too many parents were complaining about their children, who appeared to be doing well all year long and then suddenly failed their algebra course. I was of the opinion that they should have gotten rid of the do-nothing teachers, and kept the tests.

Much easier to fudge the numbers than to fix the problems that the numbers are revealing. It's like taking your child's temperature, finding out he's running a 102° fever, and instead of taking him to the doctor, re-marking the thermometer so it reads 98.6.

TRACKBACK: Stan Geiger says it's an example of the "media leg of the political-educational complex at work."

Our great "heroes of the classroom" have moved to increase the number of passing students by lowering the bar. And one of the biggest newspapers in the state offers no criticism. Quite the opposite, in fact.

The way this story is written and its placement on the page are worth scrutiny. While the facts that reveal the number-fudging are in the story, they aren't called to the reader's attention in the headline or lead. The skimming reader may come away with the impression that Commissar Sandy Garrett has worked an educational miracle.

Columnist Michael Medved is impressed by former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee's 2nd place showing in the Iowa straw poll:

The more I think about Mike Huckabee’s stunning 18% showing at the Iowa straw poll the more I’m persuaded that he could be the exciting, unifying conservative standard bearer the GOP base has been craving.

Medved thinks the Huckster blows Fred! away as a speechifier and gladhander:

Moreover, Thompson’s campaign speeches so far have been distinctly underwhelming in their impact, showing none of the folksiness and force of his TV character Arthur Branch or his brief radio commentaries, for that matter.

I challenge any die hard Fred Heads to watch tape of Thompson addressing a live audience and then to contrast it with tape of Huckabee working a crowd – or performing at one of the televised debates. There’s no comparison: Huckabee spontaneously deploys the warmth, humor, gift of gab, accessibility and kindness that we haven’t seen in a GOP Presidential contender since Reagan. He comes across as a regular guy who cares about other regular guys. He also possesses a rare ability to craft catchy phrases that connect with people. As he told audiences in Iowa, “One of the things I think I’ve brought to the process is unapologetically I’m a conservative – but I’m not mad at anybody over it.”

And it’s tough for anyone, from any faction in the party, to feel mad at Mike Huckabee.

Club for Growth isn't exactly mad, but they aren't exactly thrilled about the prospect of a President Huckabee. Here's the summary of their analysis of his economic record:

Governor Huckabee's record on pro-growth, free-market policies is a mixed bag, with pro-growth positions on trade and tort reform, mixed positions on school choice, political speech, and entitlement reform, and profoundly anti-growth positions on taxes, spending, and government regulation.

While Governor Huckabee's record displays some flashes of economic conservatism, especially during his early years, the overwhelming evidence of his record and rhetoric over the past ten years leaves the Club for Growth and economic conservatives around the country to wonder if a President Huckabee would espouse the relatively pro-growth policies of Governor Huckabee circa 1997 or the anti-growth policies of Governor Huckabee circa 2004. While the Governor has made a concerted effort to defend his record, calling oneself an economic conservative does not make one so. His recent refusals to rule out raising taxes if elected President-the cornerstone of a pro-growth platform-perhaps indicate which path he would choose.

He's a bit of a mixed bag on immigration as well. From his website:

My number one priority is to have a secure border. Right now, we have too many people entering the country illegally, and this must stop. We can't turn the tide until we stem the tide. We need to know who is coming into our country, where they are going, and why they are here. We need to create a process to allow people to come here to do the jobs - plucking chickens, tarring roofs, picking fruits - that are going unfilled by our citizens. They must have a tamper-proof, scannable I. D. with a finger or retinal scan, so that their employers know they belong here.

A blogger called Lonewacko has a more pungent take on some of Huckabee's immigration comments. Taking a Huckabee speech line by line, he points out how Huckabee hits all the pro-amnesty themes:

America has a right to know who's here and why, he said. But federal immigration laws "are so antiquated and the process so cumbersome, it would take some people 10 to 20 years to go through the legal process."

Our rights aren't just limited to knowing who's here, they include deciding who's able to come here in the first place. George Bush, the GOP, and the Democrats have taken that right away and Huckabee would just continue that de facto policy.

Then comes the usual false choice between an amnesty and mass deportations:

Creating a system to process people properly and thoroughly would cost money, but certainly less than it would cost to "round up 13 million people and deport them," Huckabee said.

He continues with the Bushian/Feinsteinian redefinition of amnesty:

He said he doesn't believe in "blanket amnesty," but illegal immigrants here should be given a way to pay a fine and apply for legal status. They should be required to speak English and pay taxes, he said.

Then, the Rovian/Schwarzeneggerian
call to just relax:

He said the debate has gotten too emotional.

And, for good measure, some sanctimony combined with more support for illegal immigration:

"Tonight, when you get home, get on your knees and thank God you live in a country people are trying to break into rather than a country people are trying to break out of," Huckabee said. "If we start there, we might have a possibility of getting a solution."

(Hat tip to Dawn Eden for the recent demo of embedding playing card suits in blog text.)

MORE: OpinionJournal's Brian Carney interviews Huckabee, who talks about the importance of consistency on the core values that have attracted voters to the Republican Party in recent decades, his enthusiasm for the Fair Tax (a national sales tax that would replace the income tax), and what he would do on environmental issues.

I thought the Democrats already had a wealthy, out-of-touch pseudo-populist in the race. Here's Barack Obama at an Iowa campaign stop:

One line that landed a little flat, though, was when Mr. Obama sympathetically noted that farmers have not seen an increase in prices for their crops, despite a rise in prices at the supermarket.

“Anybody gone into Whole Foods lately and see what they charge for arugula?” the senator said. “I mean, they’re charging a lot of money for this stuff.”

The state of Iowa, for all of its vast food production, does not have a Whole Foods, a leading natural and organic foods market. The closest? Omaha, Minneapolis or Kansas City.

Mr. Obama, perhaps sensing a lack of reaction from the crowd, moved along to the next topic. After all, he never claimed to be a farming expert.

Remember back in 1988, when Michael Dukakis suggested that Iowa farmers should diversify and cultivate Belgian endive.

What is it about Democratic presidential candidates and upscale leafy vegetables?

Via KJRH's website, here's the complete text of the resolution approved this last Thursday by the Tulsa County Commission, calling for an October 9th election for a 4/10% sales tax for river projects:

RESOLUTION

A RESOLUTION AMENDING A RESOLUTION AUTHORIZING AND DIRECTING THE CALLING AND HOLDING OF A SPECIAL ELECTION IN TULSA COUNTY , OKLAHOMA, FOR THE PURPOSE OF SUBMITTING TO THE REGISTERED, QUALIFIED VOTERS OF SAID COUNTY THE QUESTION OF LEVYING AND COLLECTING A FOUR-TENTHS OF ONE PERCENT (4/10%) SALES TAX FOR THE PURPOSE OF ARKANSAS RIVER CORRIDOR DEVELOPMENT WITHIN TULSA COUNTY, OKLAHOMA, AND/OR TO BE APPLIED OR PLEDGED TOWARD THE PAYMENT OF PRINCIPAL AND INTEREST ON ANY INDEBTEDNESS, INCLUDING REFUNDING INDEBTEDNESS, INCURRED BY OR ON BEHALF OF TULSA COUNTY FOR SUCH PURPOSE; PROVIDING BALLOT TITLE; PROVIDING FOR NOTICE TO TULSA COUNTY ELECTION BOARD, POLLING PLACES AND CONDUCT OF SUCH ELECTION; AND PROVIDING FOR COMMENCEMENT AND DURATION OF SUCH SALES TAX.

WHEREAS, it is deemed necessary and advisable by the Board of County Commissioners of Tulsa County, Oklahoma, to improve the general economic conditions and quality of life of the people of Tulsa County, Oklahoma, by development of the Arkansas River corridor within the County; and

WHEREAS, there are no funds in the treasury for such purpose and power is granted said County by Title 68, Oklahoma Statutes 2001, Section 1370, as amended, to levy and collect a sales tax to provide funds for such purpose providing the same be authorized by a majority of the registered voters thereof voting at an election duly held for such purpose; and

WHEREAS, the Board of County Commissioners of Tulsa County, Oklahoma, adopted a comprehensive resolution on August 2, 2007 (the “Original Resolution”), calling an election for the foregoing purpose; and

WHEREAS, it has been determined to amend and restate the Original Resolution in its entirety as hereinafter provided in order to clarify certain aspects of the projects to be funded from such sales tax and the composition and duties of the public trust created in connection therewith.

BE IT RESOLVED BY THE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS OF TULSA COUNTY, OKLAHOMA:

Section 1.The Original Resolution is hereby amended in its entirety to read as follows:

“RESOLUTION

A RESOLUTION AUTHORIZING AND DIRECTING THE CALLING AND HOLDING OF A SPECIAL ELECTION IN TULSA COUNTY, OKLAHOMA, FOR THE PURPOSE OF SUBMITTING TO THE REGISTERED, QUALIFIED VOTERS OF SAID COUNTY THE QUESTION OF LEVYING AND COLLECTING A FOUR-TENTHS OF ONE PERCENT (4/10%) SALES TAX FOR THE PURPOSE OF ARKANSAS RIVER CORRIDOR DEVELOPMENT WITHIN TULSA COUNTY, OKLAHOMA, AND/OR TO BE APPLIED OR PLEDGED TOWARD THE PAYMENT OF PRINCIPAL AND INTEREST ON ANY INDEBTEDNESS, INCLUDING REFUNDING INDEBTEDNESS, INCURRED BY OR ON BEHALF OF TULSA COUNTY FOR SUCH PURPOSE; PROVIDING BALLOT TITLE; PROVIDING FOR NOTICE TO TULSA COUNTY ELECTION BOARD, POLLING PLACES AND CONDUCT OF SUCH ELECTION; AND PROVIDING FOR COMMENCEMENT AND DURATION OF SUCH SALES TAX.

WHEREAS, it is deemed necessary and advisable by the Board of County Commissioners of Tulsa County, Oklahoma, to improve the general economic conditions and quality of life of the people of Tulsa County, Oklahoma, by development of the Arkansas River corridor within the County; and

WHEREAS, there are no funds in the treasury for such purpose and power is granted said County by Title 68, Oklahoma Statutes 2001, Section 1370, as amended, to levy and collect a sales tax to provide funds for such purpose providing the same be authorized by a majority of the registered voters thereof voting at an election duly held for such purpose.

Section 1. There is hereby called a special election in Tulsa County to be held on the 9th day of October, 2007, for the purpose of submitting to the registered voters thereof the following proposition:

PROPOSITION

"SHALL THE COUNTY OF TULSA, OKLAHOMA, BY ITS BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS, LEVY AND COLLECT A FOUR-TENTHS OF ONE PERCENT (4/10%) SALES TAX FOR THE PURPOSE OF ARKANSAS RIVER CORRIDOR DEVELOPMENT WITHIN TULSA COUNTY, OKLAHOMA, AND/OR TO BE APPLIED OR PLEDGED TOWARD THE PAYMENT OF PRINCIPAL AND INTEREST ON ANY INDEBTEDNESS, INCLUDING REFUNDING INDEBTEDNESS, INCURRED BY OR ON BEHALF OF TULSA COUNTY FOR SUCH PURPOSE, SUCH SALES TAX TO COMMENCE ON JANUARY 1, 2008, AND CONTINUING THEREAFTER TO DECEMBER 31, 2014?"

Section 2. The ballot setting forth the above proposition shall also contain in connection with the said proposition the following words:

FOR

The Above Proposition

AGAINST

The Above Proposition

Only the registered, qualified voters of Tulsa County, Oklahoma, may vote upon the proposition as above set forth.

The polls shall be opened at 7:00 o'clock A.M. and shall remain open continuously until and be closed at 7:00 o'clock P.M.

The number and location of the polling places for said election shall be the same or the regular precinct polling places as designated for statewide and county elections by the Tulsa County Election Board. Such election shall be conducted by those officers designated by the Tulsa County Election Board, which officers shall also act as counters and certify the election results as required by law.

Section 3. The County Clerk of Tulsa County is hereby directed to transmit a copy of this Resolution to the Secretary of the Tulsa County Election Board immediately upon approval hereof by the Board of County Commissioners of Tulsa County, Oklahoma.

Section 4. Subject to approval of a majority of the registered voters of Tulsa County voting thereon as herein provided, there is hereby levied in addition to all other taxes in effect in Tulsa County, Oklahoma, a sales tax of four-tenths of one percent (4/10%) upon the gross proceeds or gross receipts derived from all sales or services in Tulsa County upon which a consumers sales tax is levied by the State of Oklahoma for the purpose set forth in Section 7 hereof.

Section 5. The tax herein levied shall be and remain in effect for a period commencing on January 1, 2008, and continuing thereafter to December 31, 2014.

Section 6.

A. For the purpose of this Section only, the following words and terms shall be defined as follows:

1.“County” shall mean Tulsa County, Oklahoma.

2.“County Treasurer” shall mean the Treasurer of Tulsa County, Oklahoma.

3.“Dependent” shall mean every person who is a member of the household of the applicant and for whom applicant is entitled to claim a personal exemption under and pursuant to the Federal income tax laws.

4.“Family” shall mean one or more persons living in the same household who pool their various sources of income into one budget to achieve the effect of sharing the cost of providing for support of the group.

5.“Household” includes all persons who occupy a group of rooms or single room which is regarded as a housing unit when it is occupied as separate living quarters, and when there is either:

i. Direct access from the outside of the building or through a common hall; or

ii. Complete kitchen facilities for the exclusive use of the occupants.

6.“Income” includes all money received during the year and available to be used to provide support for the family or household.

7.“Person” shall mean an individual, but shall not include a company, partnership, joint venture, joint agreement, association (mutual or otherwise), corporation, estate, trust, business trust, receiver, or trustee appointed by state or federal court or otherwise, syndicate, the State of Oklahoma, any court, city, municipality, school district, or any other political subdivision of the State of Oklahoma or group or combination acting as a unit, in the plural or singular number.

8.“Resident” shall mean any person who has resided in the corporate limits of the County for the entire calendar year for which the refund is applied.

B. Every person desiring to make a claim for a tax rebate must submit to the County a written application therefore, on forms to be provided by the County, between January 1 and March 31 of the year following the year for which the rebate is being sought, beginning with the year 2009.

C.The qualifications for senior rebate include the following:

1.The person must be a resident of the County.

2.The person must be sixty-five (65) years of age or older during a portion of the year for which the rebate is being sought.

3.The person can claim a rebate only as a family member who contributed the greatest share of the family income and for members of the household who are residents of the County and who are dependent upon the said applicant.

4.No person who may be claimed as a member of the household on another resident’s application shall be entitled to a rebate. If a rebate is claimed on more than one application for the same person, the County Treasurer shall determine the person entitled to claim the rebate provided in this Section.

D. The qualifications for low-income rebate include the following:

1. The person must meet the eligibility criteria for the Oklahoma Sales Tax Relief Act pursuant to Title 68, Oklahoma Statutes 2001, Section 5011, as amended, OR the Oklahoma Earned Income Tax Credit pursuant to Title 68, Oklahoma Statutes 2001, Section 2357.43, as amended, and must timely file for such with the Oklahoma Tax Commission.

2. The person must be a resident of the County.

3. The person can claim a rebate only as a family member who contributed the greatest share of the family income and for members of the household who are residents of the County and who are dependent upon the said applicant.

4. No person may be claimed as a member of the household on another resident’s application shall be entitled to a rebate. If a rebate is claimed on more than one application for the same person, the County Treasurer shall determine the person entitled to claim the rebate provided in this Section.

E. If the applicant meets the requirements to qualify for a senior rebate, the County shall rebate the sum of $25.00. If the applicant meets the requirements to qualify for a low-income rebate, the County shall rebate the sum of $25.00. A person may claim and shall be entitled to only one rebate, either the senior rebate or the low- income rebate, but not both rebates.

F. The County Treasurer is to administer the rebate program established in this Section. He is authorized to prepare a form for application for rebate and adopt rules and regulations as long as the same are not inconsistent with the provisions of this Section, and shall audit and check the applications. The amount of rebate above set forth shall apply to each year of the seven-year program.

G. The burden is on the applicant to establish that he is entitled to a rebate. The County Treasurer is authorized to require reasonable supporting information which shall be uniformly required of all applicants. Upon an audit of the application, the County Treasurer can require all reasonable written and other information necessary to satisfy him that the application is valid.

Should any application be denied, the County Treasurer shall state the reasons therefore in writing to the applicant and indicate all or the portion of the application being denied. Such determination shall be final unless the applicant, within thirty (30) days after such notice of determination, shall apply in writing to the Board of County Commissioners of the County for a hearing. After such hearing the Board of County Commissioners of the County shall give written notice of the determination to the applicant.

An applicant shall not be entitled to a rebate when he has been denied by the Board of County Commissioners of the County or when he has had an opportunity for a hearing as provided in this Section and has failed to avail himself of the remedies herein provided.

Section 7. All valid and subsisting permits to do business issued by the Oklahoma Tax Commission pursuant to the Oklahoma Sales Tax Code are, for the purpose of this Resolution, hereby ratified, confirmed and adopted in lieu of any requirement for an additional County permit for the same purpose.

Section 8. It is hereby declared to be the purpose of this Resolution to provide revenue for the purpose of Arkansas River corridor development within Tulsa County, Oklahoma, and/or to be applied or pledged toward the payment of principal and interest on any indebtedness, including refunding indebtedness, incurred by or on behalf of Tulsa County for such purpose, including the following projects:

Total:

Arkansas River improvements including but not limited to Sand Springs low water dam, pedestrian bridge and lake ($24.70 million), Zink Dam modifications ($15.45 million), modification of river channel from Zink Lake to South Tulsa/Jenks Lake ($90 million), South Tulsa/Jenks low water dam, pedestrian bridge and lake, and low water dam, lake and river studies ($24.70 million).

$154,850,000

Arkansas River corridor land acquisition, infrastructure, bridge improvements and site development, and Arkansas river studies for Tulsa, Broken Arrow, Jenks, Sand Springs and Bixby.

$57,400,000

Bridging East and West Arkansas River Banks and Downtown, including but not limited to pedestrian River crossings at 41st Street and 61st Street ($30 million), and connectors from downtown Tulsa to the Arkansas River and transportation corridor studies ($15 million).

$45,000,000

Projects Contingency

$25,000,000

While the cost estimates shown above are believed to be accurate, it must be recognized that the exact cost of each project may vary from the estimate shown. It is the intention of the Board of County Commissioners of Tulsa County , Oklahoma, that all projects shall be completed as funds are made available. The nature and scope of all projects shall be determined by a public trust having Tulsa County, Oklahoma, the City of Tulsa, Oklahoma, and any other municipality having its mayor as a trustee of such trust as its beneficiaries. Such public trust shall have nine trustees consisting of, ex- officio, the three members of the governing body of Tulsa County, Oklahoma, the Mayor of the City of Tulsa, Oklahoma, a member of the River Parks Authority designated by the Chairman of the River Parks Authority, two members appointed by the Mayor of the City of Tulsa, Oklahoma, and two members appointed by the governing body of Tulsa County, Oklahoma, one of which shall be, ex officio, the Mayor of either Bixby, Jenks, Broken Arrow or Sand Springs, Oklahoma, and the other of which shall be, ex officio, the Mayor of either Owasso, Glenpool, Collinsville, Skiatook or Sperry, Oklahoma. In the expenditure of all funds hereunder, preference shall be given to local vendors and contractors to the extent permitted by law. In addition, such public trust shall approve any deletion or addition of projects from those listed above and any major change in scope of any such project following a public hearing by such trust. The Indian Nations Council of Governments shall provide consulting services to such public trust upon request.

Section 9. There is hereby specifically exempted from the sales tax levied by this Resolution all items that are exempt from the State sales tax under the Oklahoma Sales Tax Code.

Section 10. The tax levied hereunder shall be due and payable at the time and in the manner and form prescribed for payment of the State sales tax under the Oklahoma Sales Tax Code.

Section 11. Such sales taxes due hereunder shall at all times constitute a prior, superior and paramount claim as against the claims of unsecured creditors, and may be collected by suit as any other debt.

Section 12. The definitions of words, terms and phrases contained in the Oklahoma Sales Tax Code, Title 68, Oklahoma Statutes 2001, Section 1352, as amended, are hereby adopted by reference and made a part of this Resolution.

Section 13. The term "Tax Collector" as used herein means the department of the County government or the official agency of the State duly designated according to law or contract authorized by law to administer the collection of the tax herein levied.

Section 14. For the purpose of this Resolution the classification of taxpayers hereunder shall be as prescribed by state law for purposes of the Oklahoma Sales Tax Code.

Section 15. (a) The tax herein levied shall be paid to the Tax Collector at the time in form and manner provided for payment of State sales tax under the Oklahoma Sales Tax Code. (b) The bracket system for the collection of the sales tax provided for herein by the Tax Collector shall be as the same is hereafter adopted by the agreement of the Board of County Commissioners of Tulsa County, Oklahoma, and the Tax Collector, in the collection of both the sales tax provided for herein and the State sales tax.

Section 16. (a) The tax levied hereunder shall be paid by the consumer or user to the vendor, and it shall be the duty of each and every vendor in this County to collect from the consumer or user, the full amount of the tax levied by this Resolution, or any amount equal as nearly as possible or practicable to the average equivalent thereof.

(b) Vendors shall add the tax imposed hereunder, or the average equivalent thereof, to the sales price, charge, consideration, gross receipts or gross proceeds of the sale of tangible personal property or services taxed by this Resolution, and when added such tax shall constitute a part of such price or charges, shall be debt from the consumer or user to vendor until paid, and shall be recoverable at law in the same manner as other debts.

(c) A vendor who willfully or intentionally fails, neglects or refuses to collect the full amount of the tax levied by this Resolution, or willfully or intentionally fails, neglects or refuses to comply with the provisions hereof or remits or rebates to a consumer or user, either directly or indirectly, and by whatsoever means, all or any part of the tax herein levied, or makes in any form of advertising, verbally or otherwise, any statement which infers that he is absorbing the tax, or paying the tax for the consumer or user by an adjustment of prices or at a price including the tax, or in any manner whatsoever, shall be deemed guilty of an offense, and upon conviction thereof shall be fined not more than One Hundred Dollars ($100.00), plus costs, and upon conviction for a second or other subsequent offense shall be fined not more than Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00), plus costs, or incarcerated for not more than sixty (60) days, or both. Provided, sales by vending machines may be made at a stated price which includes state and any municipal sales tax.

(d) Any sum or sums collected or required to be collected hereunder shall be deemed to be held in trust for Tulsa County, Oklahoma, and, as trustee, the collecting vendor shall have a fiduciary duty to Tulsa County, Oklahoma in regards to such sums and shall be subject to the trust laws of this state. Any vendor who willfully or intentionally fails to remit the tax, after the tax levied by this article was collected from the consumer or user, and appropriates the tax held in trust to his own use, or to the use of any person not entitled thereto, without authority of law, shall be guilty of embezzlement.

Section 17. Returns and remittances of the tax herein levied and collected shall be made to the Tax Collector at the time and in the manner, form and amount as prescribed for returns and remittances required by the Oklahoma Sales Tax Code; and remittances of tax collected hereunder shall be subject to the same discount as may be allowed by the Oklahoma Sales Tax Code for collection of State sales tax.

Section 18. The provisions of Title 68, Oklahoma Statutes 2001, Section 217, as amended, and of Title 68, Oklahoma Statutes 2001, Sections 1350 et seq., as amended, are hereby adopted by reference and made a part of this Resolution, and interest and penalties at the rates and in amounts as therein specified are hereby levied and shall be applicable in cases of delinquency in reporting and paying the tax levied by this Resolution. Provided, that the failure or refusal of any taxpayer to make and transmit the reports and remittances of tax in the time and manner required by this Resolution shall cause such tax to be delinquent. In addition, if such delinquency continues for a period of five (5) days the taxpayer shall forfeit his claim to any discount allowed under this Resolution.

Section 19. The interest or penalty or any portion thereof accruing by reason of a taxpayer's failure to pay the sales tax herein levied may be waived or remitted in the same manner as provided for such waiver or remittance as applied in administration of the State sales tax provided in Title 68, Oklahoma Statutes 2001, Section 220, as amended; and to accomplish the purposes of this section the applicable provisions of such Section 220 are hereby adopted by reference and made a part of this Resolution.

Section 20. Refund of erroneous payment of the sales tax herein levied may be made to any taxpayer making such erroneous payment in the same manner and procedure, and under the same limitations of time, as provided for administration of the State sales tax as set forth in Title 68, Oklahoma Statutes 2001, Section 227, as amended, and to accomplish the purposes of this Section, the applicable provisions of such Section 227 are hereby adopted by reference and made a part of this Resolution.

Section 21. In addition to all civil penalties provided by this Resolution, the willful failure or refusal of any taxpayer to make reports and remittances herein required, or the making of any false and fraudulent report for the purpose for avoiding or escaping payment for any tax or portion thereof rightfully due under this Resolution shall be an offense, and upon conviction thereof the offending taxpayer shall be subject to such fines as set out under Title 68, Oklahoma Statutes 2001, Section 241, as amended.

Section 22. The confidential and privileged nature of the records and files concerning the administration of this sales tax is legislatively recognized and declared, and to protect the same the provisions of Title 68, Oklahoma Statutes 2001, Section 205, as amended, of the Oklahoma Sales Tax Code, and each subsection thereof is hereby adopted by reference and made fully effective and applicable to administration of this sales tax as if here set forth in full.

Section 23. The people of Tulsa County, Oklahoma, by their approval of the proposition set forth in Section 1 of this Resolution at the election hereinabove provided, hereby authorize the Board of County Commissioners of Tulsa County, Oklahoma, by Resolutions duly enacted to make such administrative and technical changes or additions in the method and manner of administration and enforcing this Resolution as may be necessary or proper for efficiency and fairness except that neither the rate of the tax herein provided, nor the term, nor the purpose of the tax herein provided, shall be changed without approval of the qualified electors of the County as provided by law.

Section 24. The Board of County Commissioners of Tulsa County, Oklahoma, hereby declares for the benefit of the taxpayers of Tulsa County, Oklahoma, its solemn intent that the sales tax levied pursuant to this Resolution be ended at the earliest possible time upon payment of all indebtedness secured by such sales tax, or adequate provision for such payment having been made, and sufficient funds collected for all projects contemplated hereunder.

Section 25. The provisions hereof shall be cumulative, and in addition to any and all other taxing provisions of County Resolutions.

Section 26. The provisions hereof are hereby declared to be severable, and if any section, subsection, paragraph, sentence or clause of this Resolution is for any reason held invalid or inoperative by any Court of competent jurisdiction such decision shall not affect any other section, subsection, paragraph, sentence or clause hereof.”

PASSED AND APPROVED this 9th day of August, 2007.

BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSIONERS OF TULSA COUNTY , OKLAHOMA

__________________________________

Randi Miller, Chairman

Board of County Commissioners

ATTEST:

____________________________

Earlene Wilson, County Clerk

(SEAL)

There's a complete 11 minute Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys transcribed broadcast from c. 1945-1946 available for your listening pleasure as part of a World War II audio web exhibit from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. The show includes the opening and closing theme and vocals by Tommy Duncan and the McKinney Sisters. The McKinneys sing a funny novelty number called "Feudin' and Fightin'." There are two slots for ads which are filled on the transcription disk with a message to radio stations explaining how successful these Bob Wills programs have been at pushing B. F. Goodrich merchandise.

Despite the text that accompanies the recording, I don't think this is a Tiffany Transcription, but rather predates that series. The page includes a number of other songs and audio clips from the World War II era.

Tiger Woods: 63

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Tiger Woods has shot a 63 in today's second round of the PGA Championship at Southern Hills Country Club. He just missed a birdie putt on the 18th hole which looped around the rim and back out toward him. Had he made the putt, that would have been the lowest round ever in major championship history.

His seven under par gives him a combined 6 under after two rounds and puts him in first place, two strokes ahead of Scott Verplank.

You can see the complete PGA Championship leaderboard here.

UPDATE: John Daly's training regimen of casino slots, cigarettes, and Diet Coke didn't serve him as well today. (Reminds me of "Decathlon Champion" John Belushi's commercial for Little Chocolate Donuts.) He shot 3 over par, putting him at par after two rounds, dropping him from 2nd place to a seven-way tie for 8th place.

In the U. S. House, fifty amendments have been offered to strip earmarks from appropriations bills. Club for Growth used votes on those amendments to compile a "RePORK Card" for House members.

None of Oklahoma's delegation was 100%, but District 1 Rep. John Sullivan came closest with 94%. Mary Fallin scored a 26%. The rest of the delegation was in single digits: Cole (8%), Lucas (6%), Boren (2%). The median score for all congressmen: 2%. Only 43 members scored 90% or better.

Presidential candidate Ron Paul, His Libertarian Majesty? Only 29%.

Only one pork-butchering amendment passed:

House Vote 593 - Bars funding of $129,000 for the Mitchell County Development Foundation for the home of the "perfect Christmas tree" project. Amendment passed, 249-174.

Some that sailed through:

  • $1 million to the Center for Instrumented Critical Infrastructure in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, requested by Rep. John Murtha (D-PA). No congressional member could confirm the existence of the alleged Center. Amendment failed, 98-326.
  • $2 million to establish the "Rangel Center for Public Service" at City College of New York, requested by none other then Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY). Amendment failed, 108-316.
  • $34 million for the Alaska Native Education Equity program, requested by Rep. Don Young (R-AK). When Scott Garrett challenged Young's earmark, Rep. Young declared, "You want my money, my money!" Amendment failed, 74-352.

Nice: "My money! My money!" I guess being the target of a Federal corruption investigation has a way of setting your nerves on edge.

Republican Party officials at the national and state level ought to be praising the fact that 119 of the top 120 were GOP members -- Cooper (D-Tenn.) scored a 98% -- but condemning the fact that so many Republicans have been captured by the appropriations culture. The NRCC ought to be ought recruiting replacements for every one of the 24 Republicans who couldn't bear to vote against a single piece of pork.

I spent the summer of 1982 in Ocean City, New Jersey, a beach resort 12 miles or so south of Atlantic City, as part of a Campus Crusade for Christ summer project with about 50 other college students. We spent our days working -- I was one of several who commuted to Atlantic City to work in a souvenir shop on the Boardwalk called Rainbow's End. It was one of nine or so in a chain run by a man named Ed Devlin, III, out of the flagship store, Irene's, in Ocean City. Most of the time, I was either inside trying to sell guilty gamblers some cheap inflatable airplanes to take home to their neglected children or out on the boardwalk making sure no one ran away with our selection of 99-cent cassettes and two-for-a-dollar LPs as the Ms. Pac-Man theme blared from the arcade next door. (The store was on the ground floor of what was then the steel skeleton that was intended to be the never-completed Penthouse Casino Resort and which ultimately became the Trump Plaza.)

(I spent two weeks trying unsuccessfully to find a job like the one I'd had the summer before, being paid to write computer programs. In 1982, no one in Ocean City seemed to have a computer that needed programming.)

But Ocean City itself was a delightful and relatively quiet beach resort. Intended as a resort for Methodists, it was a dry town that shut down on Sundays.

One of the things I took away from that summer was a new word: Shoobie. Ocean City had long been a popular summer getaway for Philadelphians and other tourists, who were dubbed "shoobies" by the locals. A recent article on the American Heritage website about Wildwood (another, wilder resort town further downshore) explains the origin of the term:

In Wildwood the locals have a term for tourists, shoobies. Derived from the habit of day-trippers' bringing their lunches to the shore in shoeboxes, a practice that probably started in 1889 when the Pennsylvania Railroad began running dollar excursions from Philadelphia, the epithet retains the behind-your-back scorn that distinguishes the love-hate relationship between any tourist town and its prey. (A teenage Wildwood native, ignorant of the etymology of the word but deeply familiar with its connotations, told me it came from the horrible habit of tourists wearing shoes on the beach. "That," she said, "is a very shoobie thing to do.")

Considering that the year-round population of the town numbers just 5,400, the shoobies, who swell the island's population to 250,000 during the height of summer, have always been the economic reason for Wildwood's existence. Originally a dense forest of tangled trees, Wildwood began its transformation from a wild wood to a smooth landscape of motels and sand in the 1880s. Local working-class and middle-class Philadelphians and neighboring New Jersey residents were drawn by the proximity and affordability, and soon the town was a popular destination. In 1927 more than 20,000 day-trippers came to visit the island over the course of just a few days. But these early shoobies were not well loved by local merchants. The thrifty shoebox-toting visitors were not staying in hotels or eating in restaurants, and, scandalously, they changed into their bathing suits in their cars, before dumping their picnic lunches all over the sand.

The article goes on to talk about the rise and decline of the seaside motel -- being replaced by condos -- and the demographic changes in the workforce that arrives to handle the summer crowds -- once blacks from the Deep South, now Eastern Europeans.

I hope that, just as Cape May has tried to preserve its Victorian seaside resort heritage, Wildwood will wake up and see the value and appeal of its mid-20th-century motels, cafes, and seaside amusements before they're all gone.

(Via Addled Writer, who went to Wildwood last month and took some pictures.)

UPDATE 2015/07/28: Corrected the above reference to Ed Devlin. Edward Aloysius Devlin Jr. was the owner of the original Irene's souvenir shop in Atlantic City, and who made headlines in 2010 because, in his teens, Ed Jr. worked for Enoch "Nucky" Johnson, the boss of Atlantic City and the basis for Steve Buscemi's character in the HBO series Boardwalk Empire. My boss was his son, Edward A. Devlin III, the owner of Ocean Sales Co., which included Irene's and other stores in Ocean City, Rainbow's End in Atlantic City, and stores in Wildwood. In 1985, Ed III filed suit trying to overturn Ocean City's strict Sunday closing ordinance on the grounds that it conflicted with state law; the State Supreme Court upheld the city's ordinance.

What brought all this to mind? With Donald Trump much in the news, I thought of Vera Coking, the woman who refused to sell her three-story boarding house, first to Bob Guccione and later to Donald Trump. Guccione built the steel frame of his planned casino building around her property and two other holdouts, including Sabatini's Restaurant on the corner of Columbia Pl and Pacific Ave. In 1993, Trump demolished the rusty steel frame (and damaged Coking's place in the process) for surface parking, and converted the old Holiday Inn tower into the east tower of the Trump Plaza hotel. Trump tried to use eminent domain to force Coking to sell, but Coking, represented by the Institute for Justice, beat Trump in court. In 2010, Coking decided to move west to be nearer her family, and last summer the property was sold at auction for $583,000, and then was demolished in November 2014 -- some 35 years after it was first targeted.

It's fair to say that the period between Elvis Presley's arrival at Fort Chaffee, Arkansas, in 1958 and the day the Beatles touched down at Idlewild in 1964 was the zenith of instrumental pop. This is not Big Band or Western Swing from the '30s and '40s, nor is it classical.

Some of my favorite wordless tunes come from that era, and Charles G. Hill has an entry that speaks of two of the most evocative songs of that period and the mental images they evoke: Mr. Acker Bilk's "Stranger on the Shore" and Bert Kaempfert's "Wonderland by Night". Charles links to blogger MaryB, who explains why the former is the "saddest song of all" for her. The latter song conjures this scene for Charles:

It's a Friday night, somewhere between ten and midnight, and a convertible is crossing the bridge into downtown; reflections of the streetlights play on the pavement, on the hood, on us. Her little black dress has a row of sequins, and as we pass under the lights, they glow ever so slightly, but it's nothing compared to the glow on her face as she smiles. "Now, you know we have to be back by...." She lets the sentence trail off.

(Read the whole thing to know how it ends.)

Charles mentioned in the comments that he's done three compilation CDs of instrumentals. They're on his non-distributed Wendex label. You can't buy them, but you can see the playlists: Vol. 1, Vol. 2, and Vol. 3. He notes that the "median year seems to be 1962." It's a great collection (although for my Dave "Baby" Cortez song, I'd substitute "Rinky Dink" for "The Happy Organ").

For me, the late '50s, early '60s instrumentals -- including songs like "Sleepwalk" and the "Route 66 Theme" -- evoke pre-interstate travel on two-lane U. S. Highways. Although the songs were all released before I learned to talk, they still got airplay on the kind of Middle-of-the-Road (MOR) stations my family listened to. (E.g., KRMG, back when they played music.) These instrumental pop hits provided the soundtrack to our travels.

And there's something about Santo (or was it Johnny?) Farina's sultry steel guitar in "Sleepwalk" that just says beachfront Florida motel.

Via Gene Veith I found an interesting new blog called Strange Maps, which is exactly what you would expect -- unusual depictions of geography both real and imaginary.

Some of the maps are of never-realized political entities, such as the county lines drawn by the 1905 constitutional convention of the proposed State of Sequoyah. The accompanying text explains the formation of the Twin Territories, the history of the convention and the reason the state, which would have included the territory of the Five Civilized Tribes, never came into being. The map has the Sequoyah counties superimposed on the same range and township grid that we still use today, so it's easy to tell that Coweta County would have been east of Yale, between Archer and the Arkansas River, with Euchee County to the west and Cooweescoowee County to the north. Oklahoma's state seal owes much to the Sequoyah seal.

What caught my eye was this map, apparently from the wall of a Niketown store, of the "United Countries of Baseball" -- an attempt to map fan loyalties to Major League Baseball teams. It's especially interesting to see where they place loyalties to teams that share a city (Cubs/White Sox, Yankees/Mets) and how they split areas that are roughly equidistant from more than one MLB city. I think the Cardinals/Rangers line is too far east; Tulsa should be right on the border.

Here is a site called CommonCensus which is collecting and using online survey data to plot the same sort of map, not only for baseball, but for other major league sports, college football, and city spheres of influence. The baseball map puts northeastern Oklahoma predominantly in Cardinal Country. There are some surprisingly large Boston Red Sox enclaves in upstate New York, particularly in the Finger Lakes and Adirondacks regions. (Guess I shouldn't have been too surprised.)

The city-influence regions seem to follow TV and newspaper market areas pretty closely. Tulsa's zone is the 918 area code, plus a bit of southeastern Kansas, minus a strip along the Arkansas border that more closely identifies with Fayetteville or Fort Smith.

commoncensus.org are still collecting data, although they haven't updated their maps in many months. You can participate in their survey from the home page.

Ken Neal's comments in the Whirled's Sunday about all the street work going on downtown set me off, particularly this bit (emphasis added):

The story of Tulsa's downtown is a story of decline, but the downtown neighborhood is still one of the most valuable in the city. Although commerce has largely fled to more lucrative locations in suburbia, magnificent old skyscrapers remain and downtown is the seat of banking, government, courts and the legal and financial community.

The city government sadly has neglected downtown for decades. Much of the work under way now would not be necessary if infrastructure had been replaced as needed through the years.

Neglected? If only! If anything, downtown has been doctored to death.

For the last 50 years, city government has gone from one scheme to another to improve downtown: Urban renewal, the Inner Dispersal Loop, the Civic Center, the pedestrianized Main Mall, the Williams Center, and now the arena. Each city government-driven project has closed streets, driven out residents, brought down buildings, and generated new surface parking lots. As I've explored old news clippings, I've found that Ken Neal was a fervent advocate of most of those destructive ideas.

The parts of downtown that are the healthiest and liveliest are the parts that the planners of decades past thought unworthy of their attention, like the Blue Dome District and the Brady Arts District. In those few enclaves the buildings survived and provided affordable space for someone with a dream of starting a new business. Benign neglect would have given the rest of downtown a chance to survive, to be rediscovered, and to be restored.

Now, if Neal had only been referring to streets and water lines and sewers, he'd have a point. That's real infrastructure that needs to be kept in good condition, and it makes sense to replace the subterranean stuff while the streets are torn up.

But you can't mark downtown's problems down to a lack of public attention.

There's been an interesting discussion over at the TulsaNow forum, looking ahead to the river tax vote in October, and looking back to the Vision 2025 tax vote back in 2003. There were persistent rumors that certain major companies blasted e-mails to their employees, urging them to vote yes, and that one company in particular, the Bank of Oklahoma, pressured employees to allow the vote yes campaign to put signs in their yards. BOk was one of the largest donors to the vote yes campaign, and a subsidiary of BOk Financial Corp., Leo Oppenheim, got half of the Vision 2025 revenue bond business.

In the course of the discussion, a user identifying himself with the handle "bokworker" was denying that there had been any sort of pressure on BOk employees to support Vision 2025, but he finally acknowledged this much (emphasis added; "Oil Capital" and "FB" are other participants in the discussion):

Oil Capital, as I recall the "incident" in question, there was an article posted on the banks' internal intranet informing employess about the Vision 2025 initiative and that the bank, as an entity, supported the initiative. The article stated that those employees that also supported the intitiative could ( note, it said COULD not WOULD) have a sign placed in their front yard to indicate their support. Those that did not want a sign or were not in support of the issue could "opt-out" by clicking the attached link and it was done. There was no effort in opting out besides a finger click. I will agree that I am not good at reading the minds of thousands of BOk employees any more than FB is. I can relate however that the so called "implicite coersion" was not felt by me or any of my co-workers. Is it possible that one or more employees felt uncomfortable in opting out? I suppose, but I did not.

Could the bank have worded the intranet article in a manner that you had to "opt-in" to get a sign put in your yard? I suppose but since I didn't feel like the bank was doing something that put my future with the organization at risk by "opting-out" I didn't give it a second thought. My angst with FB was that the banks actions were some sort of a conspiracy on the part of management to force the actions of its' employees to follow the company line. Nothing could be further from the truth.

It's 2003, and Tulsa has lost over 25,000 high tech jobs in the last two years. You go to work, sit down at your desk, log into the network, and you see an article telling you the company supports the Vision 2025 tax increase, and if you don't support it or don't want a "vote yes" sign in your yard, you can click a link and opt out. Would you click that link, knowing that there will be a record made of your decision?

Or would you suddenly remember your friend at that oil company who opposed the Tulsa Project and was fired after the election? Would you decide that it's not worth it to rock the boat?

There may be an honorable situation for forcing employees or subscribers or customers to "opt out" instead of allowing them to "opt in" but I can't think of one. At the very least Mr. Opt Out is hoping you'll forget to uncheck the box. Or maybe he'll set it up so that opting out requires checking a box, with the hope that you won't read closely enough or will just overlook it.

What BOk did, if this employee's story is accurate, is far worse. If you disagreed with your company's position on the tax, you had to conspicuously identify yourself as an opponent. Making the signs opt-in would have allowed opponents of the tax to blend in with those who just didn't get around to requesting a sign.

While I haven't heard this kind of story yet in this campaign, I am already hearing about pressure being applied by supporters of the new tax to shut down opposition. I've already heard of a neighborhood leader is being pressured not to allow an opponent of the tax to share the stage with a representative from the county at their neighborhood meeting. This is a sign of insecurity on the part of the proponents. If they believe their spin won't stand up to cross-examination, they'll refuse to debate someone who is able to use facts and reason to rebut their claims.

You tax supporters: If this is such a good deal, let it stand on its own merits. You shouldn't need to use threats, either explicit or implicit, to win support.

...says Jeff Shaw, who relates some of the downtown adventures that his wife and son are having this summer, riding the bus to meet Dad for lunch and visit the Central Library:

After one particular visit, I wrote in my little Moleskine: "Emily and Philip came downtown for lunch today. We held hands and walked down 5th Street. I felt like I was in a fairly tale." And it did feel like that.

So to say I have enjoyed having my family downtown for lunch, is an understatement. Yesterday we went to the Atlas Grill which is in the Atlas Life Building. It is across the great hall from the Tulsa Press Club.

My son said it looked kind of like Grand Central Station, in New York City. I think maybe he meant it had the "feel" of Grand Central Station, and I think it does too. Since he was interested, and after we ate a great hamburger and a pile of fries, I decided to take my family through the rest of the great buildings on that block of Boston between 4th and 5th streets. (Btw, sorry to the two gentlemen sitting next to us: we always have fun blowing the paper off the straws; didn't mean for them to land in your plate - and thanks for being good sports about it.)

There are a number of projects underway to develop more housing downtown. Most of it seems to target upper-income adults -- empty nesters, singles. In response to those who say downtown isn't suited as a place to live for children or families, Jeff writes:

If Downtown Tulsa isn't for kids, then its redevelopment is dead in the water, and any endearment the children may have to Tulsa as they grow into adults will be limited to areas of town like 71st and Memorial, and... and.. and I guess that is it really, 71st and Memorial. I mean what else is there, in most peoples mind?

When I was a kid, I lived about a mile and a half northeast of downtown. We came downtown all the time to play, to go to the library, to eat at the Coney Islander when it was on the South side of 4th street. We ate at the counter at Kress's. We shopped at J.C. Penney, at Froug's department store, and the like. We would look at the behemoth Central High School and wonder what it would be like to go to school in such a large, majestic building.

I'm in favor of re-creating a downtown that is vibrant and livable for everyone, including the children.

I remember taking my own bus rides downtown every Wednesday afternoon, when I was 11, 12, and 13 years old. School let out at 2:20, and my mother couldn't pick me up until 4, so I went downtown to meet Dad. The 41st Street route went down 26th St. between Harvard and Lewis, turned north on Lewis, then came into downtown on 6th Street, turning north on Boston. I'd get off at 5th and walk toward the Central Library. (It was faster and more interesting than riding the bus around to the library.) I'd stop at a sandwich shop in the Court Arcade Building (between 5th and 6th on Boulder) and buy a 7-UP fountain drink and a fig bar, then head to the library and pore over books and maps until about 5, when I'd walk to the Cities Service Building (110 W. 7th) to meet my dad for the ride home. While a lot of the interesting old buildings were gone by 1975, there was still plenty to see and plenty of people out on the streets downtown, even at 3 in the afternoon.

An urban environment can be just as exciting and enriching a place to grow up as a rural environment. Both seem to be superior to the dull sameness of block after block of suburban houses.

The Whirled is reporting that KOTV is looking for a new location in the Brady Arts District, having outgrown the studio at 3rd & Frankfort that has been home to the station since it went on the air in 1949.

The land they're eyeing is south of I-244 between Detroit and Elgin. It is owned by the Oklahoma Historical Society. OHS bought it from the Tulsa Development Authority as a location for a proposed memorial to the 1921 Tulsa Race Riot. The official name of the proposed museum is the "John Hope Franklin Greenwood Reconciliation Memorial and Museum." The site is at the western boundary of the old Greenwood District, the area into which African-Americans were segregated.

I hope KOTV stays within the IDL, and my gripe is not with them at all. I just wonder if anyone has considered where this memorial is supposed to go now.

UPDATE: KOTV says the Whirled got it wrong. The memorial location is not the site they're exploring:

The News On 6 has begun a negotiation on a small piece of land in downtown, but has not made an agreement to buy it and negotiations continue on five larger pieces of land big enough for a new television station.

The Tulsa Development Authority and Griffin Communications, the parent company of The News On 6, are in negotiations to buy a piece of land that could be used for a parking lot. A newspaper report that a larger lot across the street would be used for the television station is, according to Griffin Communications, an incorrect report.

In fact, the piece of land mentioned in the newspaper story was purchased by the state as the site for the John Hope Franklin Oklahoma Race Riot Memorial. The News On 6 does plan to replace its current broadcasting building and will announce the new location by the first of October.

Griffin Communications owner David Griffin has said the new building will be in downtown Tulsa, inside the Inner Dispersal Loop.

I've been meaning to post this for some time. S. Lee, a regular commenter here, commented a while back that in the late '50s his family lived near Longfellow Elementary School, which used to be at 6th & Peoria. When he was born, the family lived at 1012 E. 5th Pl., between Madison and Norfolk, next door to a "very nice lady" named Mrs. Anna D. Aurandt, who lived at 1014 E. 5th Pl. Mrs. Aurandt had a son named Paul who had worked for KVOO, then moved away to seek his fortune in radio.

On one of Paul's visits home, S. Lee's father snapped a photo of Mrs. Aurandt and her boy.

S. Lee wrote:

I wish I could tell you more about E. 5th Pl., but I was too young to remember much more than the lady next door was a nice lady who sometimes had treats for me. My late dad took a wonderful picture of Paul and his mother in a porch swing. My mother still has it. My dad was pastor at the 1st Church Of God (Anderson) at 5th and Madison which is now in the middle of the expressway. The church was forced to moved to the building at 3rd and Trenton which was later bought by Leon Russell.

Assuming I'm not totally dazed and confused, I think [Tulsa Whirled editorial page editor] Ken Neal had some association with the 5th and Madison church -- youth or music leader; something like that. You'll have to ask him about it next time you see him. I know how you two pal around all the time. (snort snort).

In another comment:

My dad usually took slides -- which can be transferred to print. He eventually did get a nice print made and sent to Paul who responded with a warm and grateful letter. I'll have to check to see if there is another print that can be scanned or if the slide can be located.

S. Lee scanned a print he found and sent it to me with permission to post it. He said he is pretty sure it is not the picture he was thinking of but it is a photo of Mrs. Aurandt and son.

paulharvey1957.jpg

Mrs. Aurandt and her son Paul Harvey Aurandt.

And now you know the Rest of the Story.

He doesn't seem to have aged much.

MORE: From the 1957 Polk Directory, we learn that Mrs. Aurandt had two boarders in her two-story home: Mrs. Sadie Karcher (1014 rear) and Harry H. Porter (1014 1/2). Her phone number was DIamond 3-3992.

Just got word: To no one's surprise, the Tulsa County Commission voted unanimously to schedule an October 9 vote for a new seven year, 0.4% sales tax to fund river projects.

More commentary later.

Why the hurry?

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A number of people have asked why the county commissioners seem to be in such a rush to put a sales tax hike on the ballot to pay for their proposed Arkansas River projects. The official answer from County Commissioner Randi Miller is that they're not in a rush at all, because the Arkansas River Corridor Master Plan (ARCMP) has been in the works for four years.

This is an instance of misdirection, deliberately confusing the ARCMP with the river tax propsal: The ARCMP is a plan for capital improvements and development along the length of the river through Tulsa County over the course of the next several decades. The proposed river tax plan, implements a few projects in the ARCMP, but also includes projects (like a pedestrian-only 41st Street bridge) at odds with the ARCMP, and except for a few million for "studies" it excludes the sections of the river south of Jenks, and between Sand Springs and downtown Tulsa.

The river tax plan wasn't announced until June 20, 2007, and the details of the plan still have not been made public. We don't yet know how much each project line item is estimated to cost. The ballot resolution, the legally binding document that spells out how the tax revenues will be spent and how it will be governed, hasn't been made public yet, but the commissioners will be voting on it today (Thursday). One of the key issues is the composition of the board that will decide how to divvy up the $57.4 million for "River Corridor Land Acquisition." Will the City of Tulsa be well-represented on this board? What is the real likelihood that Tulsa will get any of the money for encouraging private riverfront development within the City of Tulsa's limits. On KFAQ Wednesday morning, Commissioner Fred Perry was unsure of the details of how the land acquisition would be handled and whether the city or the county or a nine-member trust would own the land.

There's a scheduled statewide election, a presidential primary, on February 5 -- we'd avoid the extra $170,000 cost of a special election. There are also two other dates before the end of the year, in November and December, on which an election could be held. There's time to air all the details publicly, receive public comment, and adjust the proposal.

So what's the real hurry? Commissioner Perry gave a very straightforward answer Wednesday morning. (It's about 22 minutes into this podcast.)

I think that to a great extent that is being driven by the philanthropists who have brought forth the private money, who -- basically, the way George Kaiser, I heard him put it, where his $50 million is concerned, is that normally he gives money to educational uses and human needs uses and so on -- his foundation does -- and that obviously there's probably some tax implications coming up on the end of the year, and if the public was not, you know, going to pass this then he wanted to be able to put his money elsewhere. And I've heard, you know, similar comments from some of the other people that are giving money.

Interesting that someone else's tax issues appear to be the reason for rushing ahead with a tax increase vote. There's more to this story, having to do with foundations and required annual payouts, but it'll have to wait.

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