March 2008 Archives

Border run

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Saturday and Sunday afternoon our family spent some time at the American Kennel Club Agility Nationals, held in the Ford Truck Barn at Expo Square. Admission was free, and the event drew big crowds.

It was impressive to watch the dogs navigate a difficult course, but I was just as impressed by the trainers, who had to reposition themselves and give hand and voice signals so that after every obstacle the dog knew exactly where to go next. Going across the wrong obstacle or hesitating to jump the right one resulted in a disqualifying penalty. (I never did get a clear understanding of the rules and the penalties. I had expected to see so many penalty seconds added to a dog's time, but that didn't seem to be the way it worked.

It wasn't surprising that of the six size classes (8", 12", 16", 20", 24", 26"), the four top classes were won by border collies. (A papillon won the 8" class, and a shetland shepherd was the 12" champ. Here are the results from the final day of competition, with photos and links to diagrams of the courses.) Border collies are one of the smartest breeds, as well as being fast and agile.

Way back in 1994, my wife and I were in Scotland on vacation and saw a border collie demonstration at Leault Farm near Kincraig, Inverness-shire. Neil Ross, a champion herder, controlled six dogs with a combination of whistles and spoken commands. We watched as the dogs positioned themselves in a hexagon around a group of sheep and herded them into a pen.

It was great fun to watch these talented dogs and their handlers zip around the course.

Kevin Boggs, the Republican nominee for Tulsa City Council District 6, was on 1170 KFAQ this morning, accompanied by former District 6 Councilor Jim Mautino (the only real representation District 6 has ever had). Boggs gave a good interview -- unfortunately it doesn't seem to be up on the KFAQ podcast website.

Replacing the incumbent, Dennis Troyer, with Kevin Boggs would replace someone willing to acquiesce in any tax increase with someone who will oppose tax increases and work for accountability in government. Boggs spoke of taking up Mautino's effort to get an audit of the city's public works department, to investigate the way the department does business and how that may be hindering the most efficient use of our tax dollars to maintain our public infrastructure.

As I mentioned in my column this week, Troyer hasn't done much more than keep the seat warm. His most memorable comment was during the debate on moving City Hall to One Technology Center. He proclaimed that a building is like a woman: "high maintenance." He seems to see his job as waiting around and voting as he's told to vote.

This morning Boggs said that Troyer is taking credit for a new company coming to District 6. Boggs said that the company relocated from one part of the District to another, moving from an industrial area to a tract, rezoned with Troyer's help, adjacent to several homes. Boggs also pointed out that several improvements in District 6 that Troyer is taking credit for were in fact the doing of Jim Mautino. For example, it was Mautino who called public attention to the activities and modus operandi of Haywood Whichard, absentee owner of Eastland Mall. That scrutiny led to the city enforcement of building codes, putting pressure on Whichard to fix or sell the property. He sold Eastland to a new owner, who is redeveloping the mall as an office complex. But Troyer is taking credit for the positive changes that Mautino initiated.

You can read more about Kevin Boggs and his vision for District 6 in this Tulsa Beacon article about the District 6 race and in this endorsement editorial. Here is Boggs' response to the Tulsa Now questionnaire; here is Troyer's response. Boggs responded to the Preserve Midtown questionnaire; Troyer did not. Both responded to the League of Women Voters questionnaire.

Boggs would be a great improvement over Troyer, and I hope District 6 voters will support him at the polls tomorrow.

UPDATE (4/8/2008): Eastland-area neighborhood advocate Jennifer Weaver writes to correct my spelling of the former Eastland Mall owner's name: It's Whichard, not Witchard as I first had it. She also wants it known that she was not Jim Mautino's secretary, as Kevin Boggs erroneously called her in his campaign literature, an error that was propagated in the Beacon editorial. Jennifer did the research that uncovered who Haywood Whichard was and how he operated and brought that to Mautino's attention. It was not my intention to slight her or any other neighborhood advocate who worked on the issue. My intention was to contrast Troyer with his predecessor, and I do think Mautino deserves credit for pursuing the matter, even after he lost the 2006 election to Troyer. As you'll see in this guest entry at MeeCiteeWurkor by Jennifer Weaver, Troyer was not well informed on zoning and the implications of IL zoning for Eastland Mall.

UPDATE (4/9/2009): In the comments, Charlie Biggs corrects my correction. The Beacon did not misidentify Weaver as Mautino's secretary.

A little break from politics:

Mike Ransom of Tulsa TV Memories has posted video of the KTUL-TV signoff, February 18, 1979, narrated by Cy Tuma over a music bed of Henry Mancini's "Dreamsville," featuring John Williams (better known as a prolific movie soundtrack composer) on the piano.

The signoff begins with an image of the National Association of Broadcasters Television Code Seal of Good Practice and closes with the call letters of the station and the microwave transmitter superimposed on KTUL's 1,909-ft. tower, once the second tallest free-standing structure in North America. (And one that took its toll on birdlife, according to this 1987 ornithological paper.)

Here's a transcript of Cy Tuma's voiceover:

This seal is a symbol of Good Television. KTUL-TV observes the high standards of programming and advertising recommended by the Television Code of the National Association of Broadcasters.

Channel 8 welcomes your comments. Write anytime to KTUL-TV Box 8 Tulsa Oklahoma.

This is television station KTUL-TV, Channel 8, Tulsa, Oklahoma, owned and operated by Leake Television Incorporated, transmitting on microwave transmitter WBE-731.

We sincerely hope you have enjoyed today's programs. KTUL-TV pledges continuous service to our community with television programs that entertain, inform, and educate. We seek to serve the public needs by offering assistance to representatives of all community activities, and if we may help your organization please let us know by contacting Betty Boyd, KTUL-TV public service director.

Now on behalf of the management and staff of KTUL-TV, we wish you a very pleasant good night and good morning.

MORE: KTUL's great "8's the Place" promos from the '70s are online on KTUL's history page.

Endorsements are starting to pile up in the Tulsa City Council District 4 race, with Eric Gomez receiving the support of the Tulsa World editorial board and the Tulsa Area Republican Assembly (TARA), and Maria Barnes being endorsed by neighborhood activists like Scott Swearingen and Greg Bledsoe. You can read the World's endorsement here. TARA did not specify the reasons for their endorsement, saying only that endorsements require a two-thirds vote of their membership.

Scott Swearingen, who played an important role in the late '90s in organizing Midtown neighborhoods to deal with adverse infill development, has endorsed incumbent Councilor Maria Barnes for a second term.

I first met Scott when was president of the Renaissance Neighborhood Association, which hosted a District 4 candidate forum when I first ran for Council in 1998. Scott encouraged me to get involved in the Midtown Coalition of Neighborhood Associations, of which he was one of the founders. Later that year, Scott also helped Eric Gomez to get involved in neighborhood activism, encouraging Eric to participate, along with Scott and me, in the zoning subcommittee of the Infill Task Force. Scott and his wife Shiela not only endorsed me in my 2002 run for Council, they supported me with their time and money. In recent years, they moved to the Sophian Plaza building, a historic high-rise overlooking the Arkansas River at 15th & Frisco.

Scott sent the following letter to the Tulsa World:

As a long-time Tulsan and resident of District 4, I've had the opportunity to know and work with both our City Council candidates, Maria Barnes and Eric Gomez. Both are smart, good people.

In your endorsement of Eric, you state that Maria's service to District 4 has been "lackluster" and that she has primarily worked on issues that only concern her neighborhood. I don't agree. Maria has devoted a huge amount of time and energy to the proposed fire code changes and to the impact they would have on residential highrise owners near downtown.

Before she was elected, she worked with many highrise owners to stop a rule that would have made sprinklers systems mandatory in all units ---- and in the process, driven many condominium owners out of downtown. When the next version of the fire ordinance was presented that had equally overwhelming and expensive mandates, Maria stood up again on behalf of high-rise residents.

Before the new fire code went forward, she made sure her constituents in highrise buildings and the other Councilors had an opportunity to review and understand how these laws effect property values. She made sure that the code does not treat all highrise buildings the same, but allows residents and the city to work together to find a balance between fire safety and costs to owners.

Maria lives in a primarily single-home residential neighborhood but she understands that downtown can only come back if city policies support affordable downtown living. I feel that Maria has worked very hard and effectively for all of District 4. I urge voters to visit the League of Women Voters Voters Guide website at www.lwvtulsa.org to find out more about the choice for District 4.

Scott Swearingen
1500 South Frisco Avenue, Apt. 7-A

Greg Bledsoe was a leader of Tulsans Defending Democracy, the successful grass-roots effort to stop the proposal to eliminate three Council districts and replace those seats with councilors elected at-large. He is also involved in organizing the Beautiful Terwilliger Neighborhood Association:

I have endorsed Dist. 4 Councilor Maria Barnes and strongly believe she is a progressive and hard working voice on the Tulsa City Council. She has always returned my phone calls and emails and has always been open and responsive to our concerns, even when she disagreed.

She stood shoulder to shoulder with Gary Allison, Elaine Dodd, Roscoe Turner, Chris Medlock, Jim Mautino, Jim Hewgley, Michael Bates, Herb Beattie and me in our bi-partisan effort to stop the ill-advised and discriminatory at-large 2006 charter change proposal promoted by the Tulsa World and real estate development interests. Stopping at-large and supporting neighborhoods formed the core of her campaign in 2006. Supporting neighborhoods and giving home owners the tools to preserve Tulsa's historic residential areas has formed the core of her 2008 re-election campaign.

She is being opposed by a chameleon Republican candidate that obviously has the backing of developers and the entrenched interests of the local newspaper. Neighborhood oriented Republicans support her policies and re-election even when they disagree with her on some social issues.... Democrats, like me, who are concerned about the future of our city and its development also strongly support her.

Neighborhood leaders--we can not do better for our group than re-electing Maria.

As I become aware of other endorsements, I'll append them to this entry.

I've received e-mails announcing volunteer opportunities for the two candidates for Tulsa City Council District 4 on this, the last weekend of the city campaign. Here's the info, in alphabetical order -- phone numbers as listed on the campaign websites:

Maria Barnes (phone number 918-955-0044):

One more weekend to go!!! We are going to try to cover a lot of ground these next 3 days, so any help would be appreciated. We will meet at our regular location--Cafe Cubana. Here are the times:

Friday: Meet at 9:30, walk until 2pm
Saturday: Meet at 10:30, walk until 4pm
Sunday: Meet at 12:30, walk until 4pm

Eric Gomez (phone number 918-742-1825):

Eric also needs volunteers for this weekend:

Where : Keller Williams Office - 2651 East 21st Street
When: 9 AM Saturday 3/29/08 - 2 PM Sunday 3/30/08
Special Project - 6:45 AM 4/1/08 and 3:45 PM 4/1/08
We need neighborhood sign wavers to be spread out throughout the district.


The League of Women Voters of Metropolitan Tulsa has launched a new website -- lwvtulsa.org. The new online home now has the League's voter guide information which had been on their old site: information about the two proposed City of Tulsa charter amendments, the City Council candidate questionnaires, and the Tulsa Technology Center District 3 board election. The site also has links to maps and locators, to help you find your precinct and district.

Also online is one of the League's best resources: the Directory of Government Officials, which includes contact information not only for elected officials, but also for the many city and county authorities, boards, and commissions. Many thanks to the League for the work they do to make basic, factual information available to the voters.

Re-electing Roscoe

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This week in Urban Tulsa Weekly, I preview Tuesday's City of Tulsa elections, urging a vote in favor of both charter amendments on the citywide ballot and touching briefly on the Council races in Districts 6 (Boggs vs. Troyer), 8 (Christansen vs. Hansen), and 9 (Bynum vs. Kates vs. Tay). Since I covered the District 4 race (Barnes vs. Gomez) last week, my focus this week is on the seventh District 3 match-up between City Council Chairman Roscoe Turner and his perennial opponent, former Councilor David Patrick, and why I hope and believe that the voters of District 3 will re-elect Roscoe Turner.

Although he and I likely differ on national issues, Councilor Turner has been on the right side of most local issues, while his opponent was almost always on the wrong side, sometimes all by himself. Patrick is now calling himself an independent, but as a candidate and a councilor, Patrick has been under the control of the Tulsa Whirled editorial board, the development lobby, and other powerful special interest groups. Roscoe Turner is the true independent in this race, in that he owes his election only to his constituents, and his only ambition is to serve the best interests of District 3 and the city at large.

If you'd like to help return Turner to office, there are a number of ways you can help. There will be volunteer opportunities throughout the weekend and on to Election Day. Here's a link to the contact page on Roscoe Turner's website.

MORE: Here are the full texts of the charter amendments tied to Proposition No. 1 (moving elections to the autumn of odd-numbered years) and Proposition No. 2 (using the State's definition of "qualified elector").

Also, here's a podcast of Maria Barnes interview on KFAQ with Chris Medlock on Thursday morning. Eric Gomez was offered the same opportunity to appear but evidently did not respond to the offer.

Feedback on columns and blog entries is always appreciated, especially if it's positive. Urban Tulsa Weekly received a note earlier this week from Daniel Carey, southwest regional director for the National Trust for Historic Preservation, regarding my March 5th column on the specific provisions of the first draft of a Neighborhood Conservation District enabling ordinance. (You can read the draft for yourself here, and here is City Council researcher Jack Blair's analysis on the topic.)

Here is Carey's comment:

Michael Bates' recent column, "Looking Under the 'Hood" is a spot-on analysis of the benefits of Neighborhood Conservation Districts (NCD's) as well as a sterling defense of the very public and measured process through which this issue is being vetted. I commend his assessment and agree with his conclusion that NCD's can be an effective planning tool to assist neighborhoods facing extreme development pressures.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation selected Tulsa to host the National Preservation Conference in the fall of 2008 (October 21-25). In part, that decision was made because Tulsa is 'turning the corner' when it comes to revitalizing its downtown and protecting its neighborhoods. The conference theme is Preservation in Progress-a double entendre that reinforces the fact that preservation and progress can exist in balance.

That's exactly what conservation zoning affords via NCD's-a way to respect height, massing, scale, setback and other character defining features of Tulsa's great neighborhoods.

It is nothing less than a shame, then, that some uninformed members of the real estate community choose to cry, "Wolf!" about the loss of property rights. Instead of fretting about individual property rights, it's time
Tulsans recognize the value of the whole."the tout ensemble" as it is known in New Orleans. And, in anticipation of those that would say that such "controls" negatively impact property values, the National Trust for Historic Preservation has hard evidence that the opposite is true. NCD's take the larger view; not the narrow single-interest approach. As such, they should be afforded the opportunity to prove themselves as
legitimate means to achieve the legitimate end of preservation.

While I think individual property rights are well worth fretting about, land-use policies are about recognizing that what I do with my property affects the value and enjoyment of my neighbors' properties. An NCD is one tool in the land planning toolbox to provide a stable environment for long-term investment in a neighborhood.

Note the reference to the upcoming 2008 NTHP convention in Tulsa. My hope is that the convention will raise awareness of Tulsa's endangered buildings and neighborhoods and of the economic benefits of preservation and conservation.

"Democratic government will be the more successful the more the public opinion ruling iit is enlightened and inspired by full and thorough discussion....The greatest danger threatening democratic institutions comes from those influences which tend to stifle or demoralize discussion." -- Carl Schurz

For a serious contender, Jason Eric Gomez is running one of the most bizarre campaigns for City Council I think I have ever witnessed.

In 2004, Gomez ran as the pro-neighborhood candidate against incumbent Tom Baker, former Tulsa Fire Chief and the pro-developer-lobby, establishment candidate. During his years as fire chief Baker famously characterized leaders in Renaissance Neighborhood, of whom Gomez is one, as C.A.V.E. People -- Citizens Against Virtually Everything. Despite Baker's massive funding advantage and Baker's endorsement by the Tulsa World, Gomez came within 24 votes of Baker.

Instead of building on that nearly-successful formula, this time Gomez is pitting himself against Midtown neighborhood advocates, attacking me and every other neighborhood advocate who thinks neighborhood conservation districts (NCDs) are an idea worth pursuing.

An NCD is a zoning designation that allows new development while protecting the characteristics that made the neighborhood attractive for development in the first place. Most large cities in the region have this designation -- Oklahoma City has had an equivalent designation for a quarter-century, with even more stringent requirements on infill development in the downtown and Bricktown areas.

There is a draft NCD enabling ordinance that has been discussed during the Tulsa Metropolitan Area Planning Commission's (TMAPC) work session. The proposed ordinance is limited in scope -- much more so than similar ordinances in Oklahoma City, San Antonio, and other cities -- and it is very early in the process.

There is an opportunity to have a reasoned discussion about the pros and cons of the proposed ordinance. Skeptics could identify specific provisions that are problematic and suggest alternative provisions and safeguards that would be sufficient to win their support. Those who would never under any circumstances support an NCD ordinance should say so plainly and set out their philosophical objections to the concept, and they should be prepared to explain how those objections fit within a coherent philosophy of land-use planning and zoning, something Gomez wasn't prepared to do at the Pearl District Association forum:

The obvious follow-up question came toward the end of the forum:

"Doesn't all zoning infringe on property rights, and if so, why is the idea of conservation district different from that? Why is it a further infringement on property rights that are already infringed by zoning?"

Gomez's verbatim reply: "We already regulate land use. We already regulate what you can and cannot do with your property. When people buy a property, they look at what the policies are, they understand what the zoning is, and if that should change, there has to be a--it's a fine line, I believe, between private property rights and zoning, and absent of covenants that are not easily enforceable, when you buy a property in an older neighborhood--I live in an older neighborhood--you do understand that these things may happen and it, um..." As his voice trailed off to a mumble, he sat down.

Rather than engaging in reasoned debate about the issue, Gomez is taking shots at people who supported him four years ago, whose votes he needs to win this election.

Gomez made his pitch to the voters in an op-ed in the current issue of Urban Tulsa Weekly. (Maria Barnes had her say last week.) Gomez had this to say about NCD supporters:

Neither the politically connected special interest nor the screams of the tyrannical minority should be able to trample on their neighbors personal property rights.

So I'm part of a screaming tyrannical minority who want to trample on their neighbors' personal property rights. And here's what he thinks of his opponent, Councilor Maria Barnes, who supports the idea of NCDs:

Our current city councilor is a nice human being, but manically obsessed with special interests.

While he obviously doesn't like the draft NCD, he doesn't single out any provision as dangerous, but says that "the lack of specifics within the proposal could significantly harm all neighborhoods." The proposal is in fact very specific, as specific as the zoning code provision that enables Planned Unit Developments (PUDs), a form of zoning overlay that is very popular with developers.

In the debate over how we protect the character of some of our city's greatest assets -- our Midtown neighborhoods -- Gomez has opted to attack rather than offer a solution. That's a great disappointment to me.

I first got to know Eric in 1998 when we were both involved in the Infill Task Force zoning subcommittee, which discussed a proposed NCD ordinance that was much more far-reaching than the current proposal. Eric endorsed me when I ran for City Council in 2002 (as did Maria). I was happy to endorse him during his 2004 run, noting his record as a defender of his neighborhood's integrity and character, fighting against development that would have intruded on the residential part of the neighborhood.

When I received an e-mail from a very vocal anti-NCD advocate claiming that Gomez absolutely opposed NCDs, I found it hard to believe, based on his record.

So I e-mailed Eric on March 9, asking him if the claim was true, and asking him to reply with what he would change about the proposed NCD draft (which I included as an attachment) to make it something he could support. Here's what I wrote:

Eric,

Congratulations on your primary win!

Neighborhood Conservation Districts have been in the news lately, and I have some questions for you about your position on the issue.

You'll recall that we served together on the zoning and subdivision regulations subcommittee of the Infill Task Force, back in 1998-1999, along with Sharry White, Scott Swearingen, and Charles Norman. We discussed the concept of neighborhood conservation districts and even reviewed a draft ordinance that had been prepared by INCOG staff.

I was convinced then and remain convinced that we need to move beyond our one-size-fits-all zoning code. Just like Oklahoma City and many other cities in our region, Tulsa should have rules in place that are objective and clear but customized for each neighborhood, allowing infill while protecting the character of the neighborhood. The issue was at the heart of my 2002 campaign for City Council and the reason I won the support of nearly every neighborhood leader in District 4. My position also earned me the opposition of the Tulsa World and the developers' lobby.

So I'm happy to see that at long last there's a working draft of a Neighborhood Conservation District ordinance before the TMAPC, even if it is very limited in scope.

Unfortunately, some people are spreading fear and falsehoods about the proposal. I've been forwarded several e-mails from Martha Thomas Cobb, who seems to be leading the opposition to NCDs. She seems to think you're on her side on this issue. In one message, she wrote: "Also, I vistied with Eric Gomez who is running against Maria Barnes. He opposes this ordinance because of the property rights issue. Good to know. He is a good man and understands the property rights infringement and property price drop that will follow with more restrictions."

That doesn't fit with my understanding of your position, but I want to be sure my understanding is correct. So I've attached a copy of the working draft NCD ordinance. I'd ask you to read it and answer the following questions:

1. If you were on the City Council, would you vote to approve this ordinance as written?

2. If not, what specific changes would have to be made to this ordinance in order for you to vote for it?

3. If you wouldn't support an NCD ordinance under any circumstances, are there any other measures you would approve as a city councilor to protect the character of our midtown neighborhoods against inappropriate infill?

I'd like to be able to reassure neighborhood leaders and other homeowners that no matter who wins the District 4 election, our councilor will move forward with a Neighborhood Conservation District ordinance.

Thanks,

Michael Bates

Instead of replying by e-mail, Eric phoned me. He didn't want to get specific about his objections to the draft NCD ordinance, but repeated his concern about "functional obsolescence" (nothing in the ordinance prevents the demolition and replacement of a functionally obsolescent building -- or any other building for that matter) and said that he thought it was being rushed along. He also said he didn't have time to study the issue and rewrite the ordinance in the midst of a campaign.

I told Eric I thought it was important for him to spell out his philosophy of zoning and land-use and to explain how he would address the concerns raised by teardowns and McMansions in Midtown if not with an NCD ordinance. I told him that he would need the support of people who are concerned about the issue.

I had hoped that Gomez's race this year against Maria Barnes would be a situation where both candidates would be solid on neighborhood and planning issues. I have had my differences with Barnes over her support for the City Hall move and her opposition to the Council resolution requesting immigration status checks to be run on people taken into custody by the Tulsa Police Department. I wish she were tougher on budget issues.

Gomez has apparently changed since his last race, but it's hard to know why. His campaign manager is (and was in 2004) Jim Burdge, who worked on the unsuccessful 2005 campaign to recall City Councilors Chris Medlock and Jim Mautino, an effort heavily funded by the development lobby. Gomez's op-ed is reminiscent in style of the Tulsa Tribunal attack tabloidsused during the recall campaign, which smeared the councilors as mentally and emotionally unbalanced.

This year the Tulsa Whirled has endorsed Gomez making Barnes' support for NCDs the main reason to vote her out of office. The Whirled condemned me for the same reason, although they were unwilling to say so in their editorial. The fact that they have to address the concept of zoning reform and attack it openly, rather than sweep it under the rug, is a sign of progress.

(Is it just me, or are there striking parallels between the Whirled's editorial and Gomez's op-ed? They seem to hit exactly the same talking points.)

I've been supporting the neighborhood conservation district concept for more than a decade, but I could still tolerate having a City Councilor who was opposed to the idea but willing to discuss it. I can't accept having a City Councilor who thinks people on the other side of the debate are screaming tyrants.

Another step forward for the protection of unborn children in Oklahoma, thanks to Republican control of the State House and solid pro-life legislators like my friend Tulsa State Rep. Pam Peterson. Here's the press release from the Office of Speaker Chris Benge.

Omnibus Pro-Life Bill Passes House Committee

OKLAHOMA CITY (March 26, 2008) -Legislation further defending the unborn child passed the House Judiciary and Public Safety Committee today.

Senate Bill 1878, by Rep. Pam Peterson, combines several previously-passed pro-life measures into one bill. The legislation:

  • Protects health care professionals' freedom of conscience by affirming their right to refuse to participate in the taking of a human life.
  • Expands on pro-life legislation passed in 2006 that required abortion doctors to tell a woman she had a right to a free ultrasound at an off-site location. This legislation would provide an ultrasound at the clinic where the abortion would be performed.
  • Bans wrongful-life lawsuits that claim a baby would have been better off being aborted.
  • Ensures that a mother's consent to an abortion be truly voluntary and safeguards against coerced abortions. It requires posters to be placed in abortion clinics informing mothers of their rights and requires abortion clinics to verbally tell minors that having an abortion is their decision alone.
  • Regulates the use of the chemical abortion pill RU-486, which is used when the unborn child is about two months old.

This omnibus pro-life legislation will have the indirect effect of saving the lives of innocent children, Peterson said.

"This legislation is about giving mothers as much information as possible in advance about this irrevocable, life-altering decision. We must do all we can to ensure every woman has all the facts so she can make the most informed decision possible," said Peterson, R-Tulsa. "The bill also protects the integrity of medical professionals who do not wish to participate in performing abortions."

The bill passed the House committee today and will next be heard on the House floor.

Isn't it nice to have a few city councilors who will speak the truth without sugarcoating it?

Only an idiot would sign the county's initial contract proposal covering municipal inmates at the Tulsa Jail, City Councilor John Eagleton said Monday.

The county has proposed that the city begin paying $54.13 per day for each municipal inmate, as well as certain medical and transportation costs.

"It's insane math," said Eagleton, a member of an informal committee that is charged with reviewing the county's proposal.

The kicker is the new definition of what constitutes a municipal inmate. In the past, a municipal inmate was one who was being held solely for city offenses. Someone who had been charged with or convicted of a state or federal crime wouldn't count against the city's numbers, even if he also had a city charge pending. Under Tulsa County's proposal, someone would count as a municipal inmate as long as a city charge was pending, even if he would have been in jail anyway for state or federal offenses.

Kevin Canfield's story in the Whirled contains a serious inaccuracy about the current jail contract between the City of Tulsa and Tulsa County, which is about to expire. He writes:

Under the terms of the current con tract, the city pays no direct fee to house its inmates at the jail.

Instead, the city leases to the county for $1 the former city jail, on the third floor of the Tulsa Police and Municipal Courts Building, and the former Adult Detention Center, 1727 Charles Page Blvd.

At the time the agreement was signed 10 years ago, the two entities agreed that the properties' annual rental value was $349,500.

In addition, the city agreed to equip and maintain, at an annual cost to the city of more than $400,000, a fully staffed evidence property room.

In fact, the City is charged for a daily rate for each municipal prisoner being held in the county jail. But what the City owes is offset by the agreed-upon value of letting Tulsa County use city-owned facilities rent-free. If the cost of housing the City inmates (according to the old contract) ever exceeded the value of the City's properties being used by Tulsa County, the City would pay the excess to Tulsa County.

Tulsa taxpayers ought to be happy that John Eagleton is looking out for the City's financial interests.

Indie changes

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Emily at Indie Tulsa is expanding that blog's coverage by inviting contributed reviews of independent businesses in the Tulsa area, the sorts of businesses that used to get ink in the recently-demised Community World sections of the Tulsa World. The first such contributed review is of D's Sweet Designs, a bakery in Owasso.

Route 66 News reports that one beloved indie Tulsa business is changing: Swinney's Hardware in Whittier Square is set to close this summer after 74 years in business and 67 years at the current location. Swinney's is the place to go for hard-to-find things, like plumbing parts that work with older fixtures. The two times I ran for City Council, I went to Swinney's to notarize my filing papers. I hope someone buys the place and manages to keep it open.

(Ron's got a nice photo of the Swinney's neon sign lit up at night. OKC neon enthusiast Dwayne has some good daytime photos of the Swinney sign and the sign and marquee of the neighboring Circle Cinema.)

A recent California appellate court ruling has Golden State homeschooling families nervous. Brandon Dutcher and J. Scott Moody of the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs urge them to load up the jalopy and migrate east on the Mother Road to the most homeschooling friendly state in the nation:

Indeed, HSLDA notes, "Oklahoma is the only state with a constitutional provision guaranteeing the right to home school." The state constitution directs the legislature to provide for attendance at some public or other school--"unless other means of education are provided."

As one delegate to the Oklahoma constitutional convention argued in 1907, "People ought to be allowed to use their own discretion as to how to educate their children."

Not only do we have freedom to homeschool, Oklahoma's lower cost of living and lower taxes make our state an even sweeter option for homeschooling families.

Something that Dutcher and Moody don't mention is that Oklahoma also has wonderful support networks for homeschooling. There are bookstores that buy and sell used curriculum, co-ops that provide mutual support on advanced topics, and plenty of informal support from other homeschooling families who can provide advice and encouragement.

(I wonder if the State, Oklahoma City, or Tulsa Chambers of Commerce have ever thought of using our homeschooling options in marketing the state to potential residents. Targeted to the right audience, homeschooling could attract new residents here.)

(Plain-text version found at the McCarville Report.)

UPDATE: BatesLine appears to be the exclusive source of information about the Tulsa City Council pre-election ethics filings. The Tulsa Whirled normally publishes a story listing contributions the day after the filings, but they didn't bother this time, perhaps because the report of their favorite candidate contained some embarrassing contributions -- see below for details.

Here is an overview of the pre-general election Form C-1 ethics reports filed with the Tulsa City Clerk's office by 5 p.m. today, the deadline for the pre-general filing for next Tuesday's Tulsa City Council general election. This will not be a complete accounting, as I was at the clerk's office just before 5 p.m., the clerk's office employee seemed to be new on the job, and I didn't check my copies before I got out the door, so I didn't get copies of any attachments.

What is striking is the lack of contributions during this filing period. It may be that some campaigns were waiting to receive contributions and make expenditures until after the filing period ended last Monday, March 17.

DISTRICT 3 INDEPENDENT:

David Patrick:

Carryover = $8,777.80
Contributions = $2,998.00
Expenditures = $8,954.67

Total of contributions over $200 = $1,500.00
Total of contributions $200 or less = $1,498.00

$500 - Robert Parmele, George R. Kravis III
$250 - Terry Young, Steve Turnbo

DISTRICT 4 DEMOCRAT:

Maria Barnes:

Carryover = $18,981.71
Contributions = $1,100.00
Expenditures = $7,729.13

Total of contributions over $200 = $500.00
Total of contributions $200 or less = $600.00

$500 - Richard Sevenoaks

John L. Nidiffer:

Carryover = $5,100.00
Contributions = $2,600.00
Expenditures = $4,249.43

Total of contributions over $200 = $2,500
Total of contributions $200 or less = $100

$2,500 - John L. Nidiffer


DISTRICT 4 REPUBLICAN:

Jason Eric Gomez:

Carryover = $1,150.00
Contributions = $1,800.00
Expenditures = $3,072.25

Total of contributions over $200 = $1,250
Total of contributions $200 or less = $550

$1,000 - Harold Tompkins
$250 - Frank Henke IV

DISTRICT 6 DEMOCRAT:

Dennis K. Troyer:

Carryover = $6,082.57
Contributions = $310.00
Expenditures = $3,632.75

Total of contributions over $200 = $0
Total of contributions $200 or less = $310


DISTRICT 6 REPUBLICAN:

Kevin Boggs:

Carryover = $350.00
Contributions = $1018.23
Expenditures = $400.00

Total of contributions over $200 = $350
Total of contributions $200 or less = $668.23

$350 - April and Jeff Cash

DISTRICT 8 REPUBLICAN:

Bill Christiansen:

Carryover = $1,170.23
Contributions = $12,950.00
Expenditures = $6,820.89

Total of contributions over $200 = $10,300.00
Total of contributions $200 or less = $2,650.00

[Christiansen's contributor list was on an attachment, which didn't get copied.]

DISTRICT 9 REPUBLICAN:

G. T. Bynum:

Carryover = $45,283.28
Contributions = $3,150.86
Expenditures = $18,932.83

Total of contributions over $200 = $1,475.86
Total of contributions $200 or less = $1,675.00

[Bynum's contributor list was on an attachment, which didn't get copied.]

Notes and analysis:

Note that David Patrick received large contributions from Bob Parmele and Terry Young, both executives with Cinnabar, the company that managed the airport noise abatement program before their contract was not renewed in 2005. District 3 contains a number of neighborhoods that were included (or should have been) in the noise program, and there were numerous complaints of shoddy work by Cinnabar and its subcontractors. It's telling that Cinnabar officials would back David Patrick and would want to defeat Roscoe Turner. Turner actually paid attention to the concerns of affected homeowners and pushed to see those concerns addressed by the Tulsa Airport Authority.

The pre-primary report has the names and amounts of contributors prior to Feb. 25. Looking at that again, I noticed the large carryover amount -- $5,226 -- on David Patrick's pre-primary report, money that he had accumulated in an earlier reporting period. The report for that earlier period should be on file, and it would be interesting to know who those earlier contributors were. It's a clever way of downplaying contributors that you don't want publicized. The daily paper typically only reports on pre-election ethics reports; post-election and quarterly reports are ignored. Candidates are sometimes sloppy about filing those other reports because they know the paper isn't paying attention. That's a gap that alternative media sources need to fill.

The Republican head of the Oklahoma State Senate is planning a bill that would shovel statewide taxpayer dollars at the billionaire owners of the Seattle Supersonics, but don't expect to read about this in the Oklahoman or the Whirled.

Oklahoma State Senate Co-President Pro Tem Glenn Coffee, R-Oklahoma City, said he'll sponsor a bill offering tax breaks if the team moves.

"I don't have the language yet, but we're working on it," Coffee said. "In general, there are some costs to relocating the Sonics to Oklahoma City."

Coffee said the incentive would likely resemble the state's Quality Jobs Act, which gives rebates to companies for creating jobs, and the cost would be recovered when the Sonics and their opponents pay income taxes for games played in Oklahoma.

Democratic Senate leader Mike Morgan of Stillwater and House Speaker Chris Benge, R-Tulsa, have also been involved in discussions with Coffee. The lawmakers said the Sonics approached them about enacting the tax breaks.

Oklahoma City voters last month approved a temporary 1 cent sales tax to raise $121 million for upgrades to the Ford Center and construction of an NBA practice facility.

[Clay] Bennett's ownership group has not been asked to contribute any money toward that project. The team would receive most of the cash generated by the renovated arena under lease terms spelled out by Bennett in a 16-page letter of intent to Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett. The city would pay the arena's operating expenses.

The Sonics would pay annual rent of $1.6 million for the arena, and $100,000 for the practice facility, increasing the payment with inflation. The city also would receive more than $400,000 a year for arena naming rights, with the team getting any cash above that when an expected new naming-rights deal is struck.

The Sonics could break the agreement after six years if ticket sales fall below certain benchmarks.

As an Oklahoma Republican who hoped that a Republican majority in the legislature would mean an end to a century of insider dealing at taxpayers expense, I'm embarrassed. First, there was Lance Cargill, and thankfully the House caucus forced him to resign as Speaker. Then there was Sen. Harry Coates (R-Seminole), opposing HB 1804 because of certain industries that depend on cheap illegal labor. Thankfully, he's in the minority on the issue. Now, Glenn Coffee, the man who would be the second-most influential politician in Oklahoma if the Republicans take over the State Senate for the first time ever, is saying that taxpayers all over Oklahoma need to foot the bill for massively wealthy Oklahomans to bring an NBA team to a market that serves less than a third of the state's population.

I found this story in the Seattle Times, and I learned about it by reading Field of Schemes, a blog about pro sports teams and how they manipulate local governments to fork over government money for private benefit.

I wonder why we aren't seeing coverage about this in Oklahoma. You don't suppose it's because the ownership group's head is married to a Gaylord, the family that owns the Oklahoman?

Wynn a book for Easter

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Claremore blogger extraordinaire Tyson Wynn is running an Easter giveaway, offering a chance to win a copy of The Life of Christ, a joint effort from Time and the American Bible Society. Tyson says the book is beautifully illustrated and can help the reader better understand the historical context of the Gospels. For a chance to win one of the two copies he's giving away, follow the link and read the instructions at his site.

(While you're there, be sure to have a look around at the rest of WynnBlog, including the WynnCast (a podcast featuring Tyson and his wife Jeane) and his thorough coverage of the recent lockdown at Rogers State University involving a former student named Tywone Parks, a story that ought to be of interest to anyone concerned about the security of our students on campus.)

I don't understand this.

I have an older laptop, so I use a PC Card for a wi-fi connection. It's a Netgear WG511T, which is compatible with 802.11b and 802.11g. It works just fine with a b or a g connection, as long as WEP is enabled. It doesn't work anymore (at least not consistently) with a g connection that doesn't have WEP enabled (e.g., a coffeehouse with free wi-fi). It used to work under all conditions. By "doesn't work," I mean it gets stuck trying to acquire an IP address, or it gets an IP address but then can't ping the router, or it can't resolve any domain names.

I have an old CompUSA WLAN 802.11b adapter (actually made by Gigafast). It works fine with the non-WEP 802.11g connection at the coffeehouse.

it could be something the matter with the Windows XP installation. (It didn't work under XP SP1, and when I upgraded, it still didn't work, but I got more informative error messages.) I have reset the stack using netsh and reinstalled the TCP/IP protocol on each adapter, but nothing seems to fix the problem.

It's possible that the Netgear adapter is going bad; I don't have another 802.11g adapter to test. The fact that it always works if WEP is enabled on the router makes me think it must be software.

What would really help is a new laptop, or at least a newer, gently-used laptop. I've had good luck with buying used from individuals. My first two laptops were bought from co-workers. Each was about a year old at the time and cost about half what it would cost new. The 1997 Toshiba Satellite 435, which runs Windows 95, is still running, although it can't do much. The 2002 Dell Inspiron 4000 is still going, too, although every component except the LCD has been replaced at least once.

If you happen to have a gently used but fairly recent laptop that you'd be willing to sell cheap, drop me an e-mail at the address on the left. What I'm looking for would have Windows XP (NOT Vista!) and media for drivers, built-in wi-fi, USB 2.0, a DVD writer, at least 1 GB RAM and at least 60 GB disk. I have a preference for Dell -- they're easy to work on, and Dell provides step-by-step instructions for taking them apart and putting them back together again.

Conservative blogger and lawyer historian Clayton Cramer is running for the Idaho State Senate, challenging a moderate-to-liberal Republican incumbent, whom Cramer believes is out of step with his district:

...[T]he incumbent received a C rating from NRA at the last election, and introduced a bill to add "sexual orientation and gender identity" to the state's employment discrimination law. The biggest town in my district is an Air Force base; the second biggest town has a mandatory gun ownership law.

Cramer is a bearded blogger and has been told that he has to shave it off. While Idahoans may have beards, they don't vote for candidates who do. I've been told that in Oklahoma a beard will cost a candidate 4% of the vote. (A mustache by itself is worse -- 6%.) A fellow Idahoan has determined that bearded men are underrepresented in the legislature:

So, of a total of 80 male legislators, only five have beards, equaling 6.25% of the Male Legislators. I'd say that greater that a good 10-12% of men around these parts have beards.... So, I think we can say that the beard is a detriment.

I think Cramer should leave the beard on. Of course, I ran twice for office with a hairy face and lost both times, so take that advice for what it's worth.

Cramer points out that Bill Sali got himself elected to Congress from Idaho with a beard (actually a Van Dyck, by the looks of it).

Of course, there's a rather famous Idaho politician whose long career was helped considerably by a beard of a different sort....

UPDATE: Mr. Cramer writes to say, "I am a historian. Calling me a lawyer--doesn't that qualify as defamation of character?" Happily, since he's not a lawyer, he can't sue me easily! (I fixed it anyway.)

On Sunday, former TV news reporter and anchor Karen Keith announced her campaign for Tulsa County District 2 Commissioner, a seat held since 2002 by Randi Miller.

My desire to see Randi Miller replaced is no secret. While I've applauded her efforts to return the jail to the control of the sheriff's office and her support for County Assessor Ken Yazel's budget and financial reforms, she's been a disaster on sales tax issues, on the Bixby Bridge issue, and on the management of the fairgrounds. She was even willing to lend her name to the effort to dilute democracy by adding at-large councilors to the City Council. On the City Council she had been a fiscal conservative, publicly opposing "It's Tulsa's Time," the 2000 effort to pass an arena sales tax. But since joining the County Commission, Miller has given no resistance to efforts to expand the size and scope of county government. She was even willing to jump into the Arkansas River for a photo op in support of the plan to flood the west bank and build islands in the middle of the river, something that would have cost taxpayers $600 million.

I was called a few days before the announcement by someone who, like me, publicly opposed last October's proposed Tulsa County river sales tax. This person asked if I would be willing to meet and talk about possibly supporting Karen.

I've known Karen for almost 27 years, and I like her. Way back in May 1981, I did my high school's required internship month at KGCT 41, a short-lived attempt at news/talk TV, with studios in the Lerner Shops building, on the Main Mall north of 5th St. I went along with Karen on a couple of stories, and I enjoyed getting to know her.

In 1991, we met up again when she was head of the Brookside Business Association, which was the initial focal point of the effort to stop the 39th & Peoria Albertson's. (The neighborhood was protesting the loss of street-fronting retail to a parking lot and a major commercial incursion into the residential area. That effort spawned the Brookside Neighborhood Association; I was a member of the initial board.)

In 2001, Karen was one of the founders of TulsaNow, an organization that I joined shortly after it got off the ground. Like the other founders, Karen's main focus was, in the wake of two straight defeats for arena sales taxes, to get something passed. (Many of us were more interested in land use and planning issues, which became one of the main focuses of the organization after the passage of Vision 2025.) During the Vision 2025 campaign in 2003, former County Assessor Jack Gordon and I debated Karen on a couple of occasions. More recently, she worked for the Chamber of Commerce during the recent Tulsa County river sales tax vote.

My ideal candidate for County Commissioner would refocus the county on handling the county's responsibilities, instead of trying to turn the county into a kind of metro government. Leave the business of municipal government to the municipalities, and leave them with the sales tax that municipal government depends upon. I live in District 2, and there is a necessary (although not sufficient) condition for my support: A candidate must commit to ending the Four to Fix the County and Vision 2025 sales taxes as soon as all the projects are paid for (including the Vision 2025 low-water dams) and not seeking to renew either of them or to enact a new sales tax.

From the quotes in the daily paper's story about Karen Keith's announcement, I don't think she passes the test.

"I really would like to see us bring back the cohesiveness that we had before, during Vision 2025, with the surrounding areas," she said.

"Things have gotten a little fractured, and I would like to be a part of bringing everybody back together."

A unified front is exactly what's needed to deal with the state Legislature, she said.

"Pushing as a unified body with our Legislature to seek other sources of funding (would) make some pretty dramatic changes in how that's done," Keith said.

She chose to run for a county office because of its potential to be a "big-picture position."

"Its scope is very different from the city," she said.

Driving down 15th St. today, I passed the little sandstone-sided house at 15th and Trenton and noticed a sign in front that said "Karen Keith / County Commissioner." It was a very fancy sign, the sort that would go on a lawyer's office with the intent of staying there for decades, not something you'd put on a temporary campaign headquarters. It appeared to be enamel on stainless steel. A wavy green line appeared on the sign, part of her logo, I guess.

Maybe I'm reading too much into a sign, but it tells me that Karen Keith's campaign has plenty of money to spend, that she's financed by people with deep pockets, and that passing a river tax will be one of her priorities as County Commissioner.

I like Karen Keith as a person, but I hope someone else steps forward to run against Randi Miller.

The race for Tulsa City Council District 4 is one of the most hotly contested in this year's general election. First-term incumbent Maria Barnes, a Democrat, is being challenged by Eric Gomez, a Republican. My column in this issue of Urban Tulsa Weekly is an account of the District 4 candidate forum, held on March 11 and sponsored by the Pearl District Association. It was one of the most informative forums I've ever attended, focused on zoning, planning, and land use issues, particularly Neighborhood Conservation Districts (NCDs).

Here's the audio for the event. (Flash plugin required):



(You do need to have the Shockwave Flash plugin installed in order for the player to work. If you'd prefer to download the 7 MB MP3 file, here's a direct link: Tulsa City Council District 4 candidate forum, Maria Barnes and Eric Gomez, sponsored by Pearl District Association.)

Here is the text of Maria Barnes's NCD "mythbusters" handout, which I mention in the story.

Also, in this issue of UTW: RELATED:

Charles G. Hill, who lives in an Urban Conservation District in Oklahoma City (very similar to Tulsa's proposed NCDs), explains the aims and impact of such a designation.

My column two weeks ago was about the specifics of the draft Neighborhood Conservation District ordinance for Tulsa.

The February column linked in this entry dealt with the theoretical rationale behind NCDs and the political aspects of the development industry's opposition.

Here is the draft Neighborhood Conservation District enabling ordinance (45 KB PDF) and here is the report on NCDs by Council policy administrator Jack Blair (1.5 MB PDF).

This entry links to my conversation about NCDs on Darryl Baskin's real estate radio show.

Here's an earlier blog entry that links to my November 2007 column on NCDs and has many links on the topics of teardowns, McMansions, and neighborhood conservation.

In case you haven't read the latest issue of Urban Tulsa Weekly (for shame if you haven't), here's a link to my latest column about the recent electrical, political, and financial difficulties of our city's monopoly daily newspaper, the Tulsa World, affectionately known around here as the Whirled for the strange spin they put on local stories.

If I point out when the editor edits my story in a way not to my liking, I ought to point it out when he makes an especially constructive addition. That's how the connection between the termination of the Community World section and its employees and speculation that the Lortons might be readying the paper for sale came to be in my column. It's the first sensible explanation I've seen for the suddenness of the termination and the meanness of the severance package.

There's also Brian Ervin news story on the end of the Community World, with quotes from former CW editor Emily Priddy and World managing editor Susan Ellerbach.

This week is also UTW's green issue, with a focus on sustainable living.

Elsewhere in UTW, Brian Ervin has stories about the demise of a proposed five-story apartment complex project in Brookside (killed by Tulsa's fire codes), the anniversary of the death of Cintas laundry worker Eleazar Torres-Gomez and the results of OSHA's investigation, and the announcement that the Atlas Life building will be converted into a Courtyard by Marriott hotel.

My wife and I both laughed out loud this morning when we heard 1170 KFAQ's Chris Medlock relate that when he was a kid his mother sent him to school on St. Patrick Day wearing orange to make a political statement. (And you wondered where his contrary streak comes from.)

Way back in the mid-'90s, B.C., (before children) we took a couple of trips to Ulster, spending time both in Northern Ireland and in County Donegal, part of the Republic of Ireland. My maternal ancestors were Presbyterian Ulster Scots who came to America from the eastern part of County Donegal, a region called the Laggan, in 1769. My great-grandfather on my father's mother's side came from Irish Roman Catholic stock in county West Meath. Family lore says his parents intended for him to go into the priesthood. Instead, he came to America, made his way to Kansas and married a girl 21 years his junior.

During our trips, we saw first-hand the two cultures that exist in that region -- the Irish Roman Catholic culture and the Protestant Ulster Scots culture, planted in Ulster by King James of England and Scotland in the early 17th century. The Irish flag was designed to represent both cultures -- green for the Roman Catholics, orange for the Protestants, and the white band in the middle to keep them apart, or so the legend goes. The color orange became identified with Protestants in Ireland because it was William III of England, Prince of Orange, a Protestant, who defeated James (II of England, VII of Scotland), a Roman Catholic, at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690.

But St. Patrick belongs to Protestant and Roman Catholic Irish alike, and indeed to all with roots in the British Isles. Patrick was a Briton who grew up near what is now Glasgow, Scotland. Sold into slavery in Ireland, he returned to the Christian faith of his family. Upon his return to Britain, he was called of God to go back to the land of his captors and preach the gospel to them. He is said to be buried at Downpatrick in Northern Ireland, and Armagh in the north is the seat of two St. Patrick's Cathedrals -- one Roman Catholic and one Church of Ireland (Anglican).

There's no need to wear orange today to show solidarity with Loyalists and Protestants. Patrick belongs to us too. (Save the orange wear for the 12th of July. Or the next OSU home game.)

George Grant has a post today about Patrick's conversion and zeal for missions:

Of his conversion he later wrote, "I was sixteen years old and knew not the true God and was carried away captive; but in that strange land the Lord opened my unbelieving eyes, and although late I called my sins to mind, and was converted with my whole heart to the Lord my God, who regarded my low estate, had pity on my youth and ignorance, and consoled me as a father consoles his children. Every day I used to look after sheep and I used to pray often during the day, the love of God and a holy fear of Him increased more and more in me. My faith began to grow and my spirit was ardently stirred. Often, I would pray as many as a hundred times in a single day--and nearly as many at night. Even when I was staying out in the woods or on the mountain, I would rise before dawn for prayer, in snow and frost and rain. I felt no ill effect and there was no slackness in me. As I now realize, it was because the Spirit was maturing and preparing me for a work yet to come."...

Thus, Patrick returned to Ireland. He preached to the pagan tribes in the Irish language he had learned as a slave. His willingness to take the Gospel to the least likely and the least lovely people imaginable was met with extraordinary success. And that success would continue for over the course of nearly half a century of evangelization, church planting, and social reform. He would later write that God's grace had so blessed his efforts that "many thousands were born again unto God." Indeed, according to the early church chronicler Killen, "There can be no reasonable doubt that Patrick preached the Gospel, that he was a most zealous and efficient evangelist, and that he is entitled to be called the Apostle of Ireland."

Grant has also posted the text of the great prayer known as St. Patrick's Breastplate, which includes these lines:

I bind unto myself today The power of God to hold and lead, His eye to watch, His might to stay, His ear to hearken to my need. The wisdom of my God to teach, His hand to guide, His shield to ward; The word of God to give me speech, His heavenly host to be my guard.

Against the demon snares of sin,
The vice that gives temptation force,
The natural lusts that war within,
The hostile men that mar my course;
Or few or many, far or nigh,
In every place and in all hours,
Against their fierce hostility
I bind to me these holy powers.

RELATED: Manchán Magan says that the Irish language is disappearing from Ireland. He tried to use it all over the country and was greeted with incomprehension at best, rudeness at worst.

I left Dublin with renewed hope. Outside the capital, people were more willing to listen to me, though no more likely to understand me. I was given the wrong directions, served the wrong food and given the wrong haircut, but I was rarely made to feel foolish again. Even in Northern Ireland, on Belfast's staunchly British-loyalist Shankill Road, I was treated with civility, though warned that if I persisted in speaking the language, I was liable to end up in hospital. In Galway, I went out busking on the streets, singing the filthiest, most debauched lyrics I could think of to see if anyone would understand. No one did. Old women smiled, tapping their feet merrily as I serenaded them with filth. In Killarney, I stood outside a bank promising passers-by huge sums of money if they helped me rob it, but again no one understood.

(Via Hot Air.)

A blast of fresh Arctic air: Alaska's Republican Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell has filed to challenge ethically-challenged Republican Congressman Don Young, and he has the backing of Republican Gov. Sarah Palin:

"The days of unquestioning loyalty are gone," Parnell said a few hours later after filing candidacy paperwork. "It's time for principled leadership."

Gov. Sarah Palin escorted Parnell into the Division of Elections office and immediately endorsed him over Young, who has held the office for 35 years. She gave no thought to the protocol of an endorsement months before the August primary, she said.

"When something's right, it's right," she said. "There's no time like the present to state your case and speak candidly about what you believe in. And I believe in his candidacy."

(Via McGehee.)

MORE: Last October, NR's David Freddoso called on the National Republican Congressional Committee (headed by Oklahoma's Tom Cole) to be ruthless in casting off the bad apples in the Republican orchard:

Republicans need an ethical Housecleaning if they are ever to return to the majority again. This will require strong leadership and creativity. The real question is just how ruthless the reputedly non-confrontational Boehner can be when his legacy is on the line. Boehner will show his mettle by how he deals with two members currently under serious ethical clouds: Reps. Don Young (R., Alaska) and John Doolittle (R., Calif.).

Freddoso goes on to point out that failure to dump these ethical liabilities not only costs credibility, it costs the party cold cash. $9 million was spent in the 2006 cycle to try to save the sorry hides of Don Sherwood (Pa., "tried to choke his mistress"), Bob Ney (Ohio, now in Federal prison), Charles Taylor (N.C.), Curt Weldon (Pa., "federal raids just before the 2006 election"), and Mark Foley (Fla., creepy IM chats with a male page). That's 11 percent of the committee's independent expenditures wasted on lost causes.

...to Steve Patterson of Urban Review STL, who is recovering from a stroke. He's up and eating pizza and starting to blog again. His insights on urban planning are always worth pondering.

... and to Brian of Audience of One for his impending nuptials. I met Brian and his intended, Terri, at the 2006 Okie Blogger Roundup. They seemed like a happy couple then, and I hope they have many happy years together.

Friday evening I was waiting for my flight at the San Antonio airport. The PA system was playing oldies from the '60s and '70s, and on came the Supremes singing, "My World Is Empty without You." (That link is a live performance, and you can really hear Florence Ballard and Mary Wilson's harmonies.) It brought to mind a song with a similar theme: The Walker Brothers, "The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore."

Together, the two songs suggest the existence of an entire subgenre of music -- the "lost all sense of proportion" song, in which the singer views the end of a relationship as an irredeemable calamity. No silver lining, no looking on the bright side, no "plenty of fish in the sea," no "tomorrow is another day" -- it's all over, and there's no reason to go on living.

Is this unique to '60s pop? You can hear desperate blues lyrics, but the material is usually treated with a certain amount of irony. In "Trouble in Mind," when Tommy Duncan sings, "Sometimes I feel like livin', sometimes I feel like dyin'," Bob Wills heckles, "No, no, no! Go ahead with the song!"

What may be the king of all such songs is "The End of the World." Here it is, as performed by the girl who made it famous, Miss Skeeter Davis:

And here's the Walker Brothers:

The comments are open -- can anyone (Charles?) think of any other songs that fall into the "lost all sense of proportion" category?

We so often think of conservatism and liberalism in terms of a collection of disconnected policies, or we mistake the two competing ideologies for the two political parties that are respectively identified with them, that we forget the heart of the matter. What truly distinguishes conservatism from liberalism is the way each understands human nature. An ideology will succeed -- produce liberty and peace and prosperity -- to the degree that it correctly understands and accounts for human nature.

Like ideology, drama will succeed to the degree that it correctly understands and accounts for human nature. The better a playwright is at observing the way people respond to challenges and frustrations, the abler he is at drawing the audience into his play.

So there's this playwright, David Mamet. His job is to be an observer of the human condition. The more accurate an observer he is, the more his plays strike a chord with his audience. What he learned as an observer of humanity is that conservatism's core assumptions about human nature are right, and liberalism's assumptions are all wrong. In an essay in the Village Voice (of all places), Mamet goes back to first principles and works outward from those to come to some very conservative conclusions.

Here is an excerpt (slightly expurgated), but you really must read the whole thing:

And, I wondered, how could I have spent decades thinking that I thought everything was always wrong at the same time that I thought I thought that people were basically good at heart? Which was it? I began to question what I actually thought and found that I do not think that people are basically good at heart; indeed, that view of human nature has both prompted and informed my writing for the last 40 years. I think that people, in circumstances of stress, can behave like swine, and that this, indeed, is not only a fit subject, but the only subject, of drama.

I'd observed that lust, greed, envy, sloth, and their pals are giving the world a good run for its money, but that nonetheless, people in general seem to get from day to day; and that we in the United States get from day to day under rather wonderful and privileged circumstances--that we are not and never have been the villains that some of the world and some of our citizens make us out to be, but that we are a confection of normal (greedy, lustful, duplicitous, corrupt, inspired--in short, human) individuals living under a spectacularly effective compact called the Constitution, and lucky to get it.

For the Constitution, rather than suggesting that all behave in a godlike manner, recognizes that, to the contrary, people are swine and will take any opportunity to subvert any agreement in order to pursue what they consider to be their proper interests.

To that end, the Constitution separates the power of the state into those three branches which are for most of us (I include myself) the only thing we remember from 12 years of schooling.

The Constitution, written by men with some experience of actual government, assumes that the chief executive will work to be king, the Parliament will scheme to sell off the silverware, and the judiciary will consider itself Olympian and do everything it can to much improve (destroy) the work of the other two branches. So the Constitution pits them against each other, in the attempt not to achieve stasis, but rather to allow for the constant corrections necessary to prevent one branch from getting too much power for too long.

Rather brilliant. For, in the abstract, we may envision an Olympian perfection of perfect beings in Washington doing the business of their employers, the people, but any of us who has ever been at a zoning meeting with our property at stake is aware of the urge to cut through all the pernicious bulls**t and go straight to firearms....

Whatever you think about his broader point, you must admit the man understands zoning.

My one-day, work-related trip yesterday was kind of a bust, but it did leave me with some time to explore San Antonio before my flight home. I drove into downtown and took a set of photos illustrating what's right about downtown San Antonio's urban design. As I was walking down Houston St. and snapping pictures of buildings, a fellow called out and told me I should take a picture of him and his friend. So I did.

(Clicking on any photo below will take you to the Flickr photo page, where you can see larger images.)

IMG_0540

That's Mike on the left and Jesse on the right. (Mike is the one that hollered at me.) They work for a company that does convention and event decorating, and they were fitting out a vacant retail space for use as a gallery during an upcoming downtown arts festival. I told them I'd post the photo on my blog, and Mike wrote down the URL. Mike told me that some of these older buildings (the sort that Tulsa real estate types would call "functionally obsolete" and therefore wrecking ball bait) were being converted to hotels, to meet the growing convention demand. San Antonio, he said, is great for conventions year-round, since it never gets that cold. (It was sunny and 91 yesterday.)

The striking thing about downtown San Antonio is that there are so few surface parking lots. This is one of the few, and the sidewalk is screened with palm trees to mitigate the visual impact.

IMG_0542

Parking garages have street-level retail. (In the picture below, that's a parking garage on the left in the foreground.)

IMG_0544

You have a continuous street wall on both sides of the street that obeys the Three Rules -- David Sucher's guidelines for creating walkable urban places.

IMG_0535

Instead of tearing down their grand old theaters, they saved one, the Majestic, as a performing arts center:

IMG_0547

They saved the facade and the box office kiosk of the Texas Theater and built a new building behind it. Not the ideal form of preservation, but better than nothing.

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I took a number of photos to illustrate that compatibility doesn't mean uniformity, a salient point in the debate over neighborhood conservation districts. (In some cities, conservation districts protect commercial areas. The ordinance being discussed for Tulsa only covers residential areas.) This photo of Alamo Plaza shows buildings from a number of different eras and in a number of different styles -- late Victorian, Plains commercial, Art Deco, Mid-Century -- but similar in scale and setback and all with street-level windows for retail spaces.

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And as Tulsa's wise men know, major retailers will never come to a city where they can't build their standard store designs. They will shun areas with conservation district overlays. Right?

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That's a McDonald's on the right, next to a Subway, next to a Fuddruckers.

There is plenty right with downtown San Antonio. I suspect the history-proud Texans of that city have some rules in place to keep it that way. I'll let you know what I find out.

MORE: These are the zoning districts (base zoning and overlay) that apply to various parcels in the River Walk and Alamo area:

D Downtown District (Sec. 35-310.11)

This zone provides concentrated downtown retail, service, office and mixed uses in the existing central business district. Examples of permitted uses include: Indoor Theatres, Taxi Service, Apartments (6 dwelling units through 50 dwelling units per gross acre), Hotels, Motels, Offices (no restrictions on square footage
unless otherwise prescribed), and Telephone Equipment Infrastructure.

H Historic Districts and Landmarks (Sec. 35-333)

These are areas in which the cultural or archaeological identity, architectural features, or overall character are considered historically significant. Historic Districts often contain one or more buildings, objects, sites, or structures designated as significant or exceptional historic landmarks.

HS Historic Significance Districts (Sec. 35-333)

Historic Significant Landmarks are those considered to be important and their demolition would mean a serious loss to the character of the city.

HE Historic Exceptional Districts (Sec. 35-333)

Historic Exceptional Landmarks are those considered most unique in terms of historic, cultural, archeological significance. Demolition would mean an irreplaceable loss to the quality and character of the city.

RIO 1-6 River Improvement Overlay District (Sec. 35-338)

Overlay district that imposes regulations to protect, preserve and enhance the San Antonio River and its improvements by establishing design standards and guidelines for properties located near the river.

VP Viewshed Protection Districts

Overlay district that imposes regulations to protect, preserve and enhance the views and vistas of historic places, landmark buildings, and other sites of cultural importance.

Here's a link to the San Antonio Unified Development Code and the starting page for launching the city's GIS map viewer for zoning.

"There's no Plan B. River development is over." -- County Commissioner Randi Miller, October 10, 2007


"Six Companies vie for Arkansas River Projects"
-- Tulsa World, March 13, 2008, p. A-8

Thursday's story notes that $9.5 million from the Vision 2025 sales tax and $650,000 from Four to Fix the County 2006 are available for dam work and reports a cost estimate of $30 million per dam. (That number keeps getting bigger. It was $27.5 million during the river tax campaign.) The bids are for pre-construction work; presumably the pre-construction work will lead to a more concrete, itemized estimate of costs for the actual dam construction.

The Whirled's slant on this issue is evident in the second paragraph of the story:

In December, county commissioner chose to move forward with the permitting, design and engineering work despite an October vote in which county residents rejected a $282 million plan to build the dams, which are proposed for Jenks and Sand Springs, and to modify Zink Dam.

First of all, it wasn't a plan on the ballot. It was a county sales tax increase, and the voters rejected that tax increase. Second, it would be more accurate to say, "a $282 million tax, $68 million of which would have paid for the two new dams and improvements to Zink Dam"

Also in yesterday's paper, on p. A-11, we learn that the least tern nesting islands are being rebuilt, the kayaking run near the PSO plant is being improved, and junk and debris are being removed from the river. All these improvements are happening without the passage of a new sales tax. Some of the funds are coming from private companies, some from a fine paid by the Sinclair refinery. County crews are doing the work on the island -- presumably the workers were already drawing a county paycheck -- it appears its being handled within existing budgets.

It's amazing how the constraint of a budget can inspire creative ways to get things done.

I think they've upped the sensitivity on the scanners at Tulsa International Airport.

I tripped the alarm with the following metal on or about my person:

  • My wire-rimmed glasses (titanium alloy)
  • My gold wedding band
  • My wrist watch
  • A pair of jeans with two small metal rivets, a metal zipper, and a metal fly button
  • A small belt buckle
  • A small nail clipper
  • A penny
  • A paper clip

In the past, I've gone through with no problem with everything except the last three items. It's possible that a nail clipper, a penny, and a paper clip were just enough more to put me over the threshold, but I doubt it somehow.

When I tripped the alarm the first time, the TSA agent waiting on the other side sent me back and told me to check my pockets. I found the nail clipper and showed it to him, then started to look for a little bin to send it through the X-ray. At most one or two people were waiting behind me. He said, "That should be OK," and waved me back through with the clipper still in my hand. I set off the alarm again, and the agent said, "Two tries are all you get. Step this way, please." And he shunted me to the area where you wait to be wanded, which was already backed up.

I got the distinct impression that the TSA agent was playing a little bureaucratic game. By rushing me and others through, without giving us time after the first beep to rid ourselves of the least bit of metal, he was able to keep his line moving and make himself look efficient, while making his colleagues in the wanding area look like they couldn't keep up.

I could have misjudged the man, however, and I was especially annoyed because a meeting at work delayed me getting to the airport, and I was close to missing my flight. Still, if you're flying out of Tulsa, you may want to be more thorough than usual about stripping off anything with the least bit of metal on it.

Jeff Shaw of Bounded Rationality called my attention to this: The Oklahoma Supreme Court has handed down decree yesterday that, effective immediately, will restrict online access to court records. The stated motive is to limit access to sensitive information that could be used in identity theft.

The decree forbids attorneys to cite certain personal identifiers in pleadings filed with the state court system -- e.g., addresses, SSNs, dates of birth. If this kind of information is essential to a pleading, it's to be provided separately and will be kept under seal. This part of the decree doesn't take effect for three months.

Section IV of the decree deals with online access. It takes immediate effect:

The Clerk of the Oklahoma Supreme Court, each district court clerk, and the Project Manager of the Oklahoma Court Information System are directed to immediately limit internet public access to court dockets only. The individual pleadings and other recorded documents filed of record in state court actions shall not be publicly displayed on the internet. Court documents may be viewed at the courthouse unless otherwise prohibited by law. This policy may be reviewed by this Court in the future.

This appears to mean that you will still be able to call up the docket for a case on OSCN and read through the case history -- when hearings were held, when documents were filed, the resolution of a case. For most of OSCN's history, that's all you would find on a district court case.

More recently, some filings were made available within a case's web page. For example, in researching my most recent UTW column, I was able to read a judge's ruling in a case by clicking a document link on the case's OSCN page. With this ruling, you will only be able to read those documents by going to the County Courthouse and requesting to read the file.

This decree doesn't really protect anyone's privacy. It simply allows convenient access to court records only to the attorneys who practice at a given courthouse; attorneys from other parts of the state or the country and members of the general public won't easily be able to access case information.

One of the other rationales for the change, mentioned in the dissent but not in the decree itself, is that until such information is available for all counties in Oklahoma, it shouldn't be available for any of them.

Open access to court records is essential to a fair and impartial justice system. Justice Yvonne Kauger wrote in her partial dissent:

The Court is obligated to provide the public with access to court records. The judiciary has long recognized that case file documents, unless sealed or otherwise restricted by statute or court rule, are available at the courthouse for public inspection.The common law right and the presumption of public access to court records relate to the public's right to monitor the functioning of our courts, thereby insuring quality, honesty, and respect for our legal system.

The dissent also notes the importance of electronic access to records to blogs and other forms of new media:

With the invention of each new method of conveying information, it becomes more difficult for the courts to seal and protect information without the individual cooperation of litigants and members of the Bar. Whether it is a development we welcome, the simple fact is that the tide of new media may not be ignored or dodged. Instead, we should make policy that contemplates this new reality. Given the public's increasing expectation of governmental transparency and its acclimation to the variety of new media, a strong philosophical distinction between documents available to the public at the courthouse and documents available to the public online becomes harder and harder to maintain. A blanket ban on posting copies of pleadings online, without consultation with the bench, the Bar, or the Legislature is a step too far, especially when in all likelihood we will lift this ban in the near future when we begin operating under a new case management system. If it is intellectually acceptable to post these documents for all counties, how can it be unacceptable to post them for some counties? The ban will not protect the court any further than the new redaction policy and its existing immunity. In fact, this temporary ban will do little more than have the undesirable effect of limiting the public's access to public information to which it has become accustomed ---- and creating a stir.

The worst thing about this policy is that it was handed down unilaterally, without opportunity for comment from members of the Bar, the Legislature, media (old or new), or the general public:

The Court made this decision with input only from the court clerks, others directly affected by the decision -- the bar, the bench, the legislature and the public were not consulted.... This public information which was previously available to the bench, bar, and litigants has been removed from viewing without any consideration for, or consultation with, lawyers and judges who use the information on a daily basis to do their jobs more efficiently or from public litigants attempting to seek legal redress.

I hope there will be enough outcry to reverse this decree, whether the Supreme Court does it or the Legislature does it for them.

UPDATE: Tyson Wynn has more:

In a day and age when we're moving to more and better online access to our government institutions, this step is unnecessary and unwise. Further, if the personal data has been ordered redacted, what is the harm in allowing court documents to be accessible online? Documents in the federal courts are almost all accessible online. Not all of Oklahoma's district courts post actual documents online, but they were advancing toward that end.

From the Tulsa Police Department:

Homicide Detectives are requesting assistance from the public regarding the latest homicide. On March 11, 2008 at 11:23 p.m., officers were dispatched to 4019 S. 130th East Avenue Apartment #1605 in reference to a shooting. The victim, Jonathon Young - A.K.A. Jerrod Young, was shot outside of this apartment. Young was transported to St. Francis where he was pronounced dead.

Detectives have developed the following individuals as persons of interest.

1. White male, average height and weight, 21-25 yoa, short brown hair, wearing a red ball cap, blue jeans and a gray t-shirt. His first name is possibly "Jeff".

2. White male, average height and weight, 21-25 yoa, short brown hair with long side burns. He was wearing baggie clothes and was described as having a "skater" look.

3. Hispanic male, 21-25 yoa, small in size, long black hair in a pony tail that extended almost to his buttocks, wearing a do-rag on his head, a sweat shirt, and blue jeans. This subject also had a severe black eye.

4. White female, 5' tall, with long blonde hair, wearing a black sweat shirt or hoodie, jeans, and flip-flop shoes.

Anyone with information regarding this homicide is asked to call 596-COPS or 596-9222.

Here's audio for last night's Pearl District Association's candidate forum for the District 4 Tulsa City Council race. The forum lasted about an hour. Jamie Jamieson, developer of the Village at Central Park, is the moderator, and the candidates are Maria Barnes (incumbent) and Eric Gomez:



(You do need to have the Shockwave Flash plugin installed in order for the player to work. If you'd prefer to download the 7 MB MP3 file, here's a direct link: Tulsa City Council District 4 candidate forum, Maria Barnes and Eric Gomez, sponsored by Pearl District Association.)

At some point, I may have time to post a summary of the discussion. In the meantime, please share your impressions, whether you were one of the 30 in attendance or just listened to the audio, in the comments below.

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Oklahoma is internationally renowned! Here's a comment about the Eliot Spitzer scandal on Samizdata, a libertarian blog based in Britain (emphasis added):

Eliot Spitzer, one of the most nasty power crazed politicos in US politics today, perhaps second only to Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson in authoritarian thuggishness, has just shown that he who lives by the judicial sword, can oh so easily die by the judicial sword.

We're number one! We're number one!

The authoritarian thuggishness to which the writer refers? The threat of imprisonment hanging over the Oklahoma Three: Paul Jacob, Rick Carpenter, and Susan Johnson. From an earlier Samizdata entry by Dale Amon in Belfast:

I was rather surprised to discover that Oklahoma, of all places, is using State power not to just silence critics, but to send them to prison for up to ten years!

I simply never expected this sort of political repression to take hold in America. The Oklahoma government should simply be ashamed of the way they are sullying the American ideal.

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1170 KFAQ's Chris Medlock is taking a couple of days off and will be back on the air Friday. Filling in for him tomorrow and Thursday will be Pat Campbell, until recently morning host on WFLA 540 in Orlando.

I have absolutely no inside info on this, but it seems reasonable to assume that Pat's visit to Tulsa is the first in what may be a series of on-air tryouts to be KFAQ's morning show host, a position recently vacated by Gwen Freeman.

From his blog, Campbell looks like a solid conservative. In 2006 and 2007, Talkers Magazine named him one of the 250 most influential talk radio hosts in the country. I'm looking forward to getting a sense of his personality and style over the next two days, and I hope he enjoys his visit to Tulsa.

In reading up on Pat Campbell, I discovered that he met a similar fate to that of another conservative radio talk show host, my friend Kevin McCullough, late of WMCA 570 / WWDJ 970 in New York.

WFLA is one of the stations in Clear Channel's Orlando cluster. Clear Channel decided to change the format of a sister station, WQTM 740, from sports talk to "La Preciosa," Clear Channel's Mexican music format. (KIZS 101.5 is Clear Channel's La Preciosa station in Tulsa.) At the same time, they decided to move some of WQTM's sports talk programming to 570, bumping Campbell off the air. Campbell wasn't even allowed to say goodbye to his listeners on air. (To WFLA's credit, they left up Campbell's page on their website, with an explanation of his absence from the airwaves.)

In McCullough's case, his show was split between Salem Broadcasting's two New York City frequencies. Salem's stations in New York City had been about half local and national talk, carrying most of the Salem Radio Network lineup (e.g., Bill Bennett, Michael Medved), but they also carried a lot of paid programming from national Christian ministries -- e.g., Chuck Swindoll, James Dobson, Kenneth Hagin. In January, Salem made the decision to drop all local talk and almost all national talk, because of high demand from national ministries for air time in the #1 market. The only remaining talk on the cluster is two hours of Dr. Laura on WWDJ and 90 minutes of Janet Parshall on WMCA. McCullough, like Campbell, was on the air one day and gone the next, again with no opportunity to bid farewell to his listeners on the air. Thankfully, like Campbell, he could use his blog to let the listeners know what had happened. (Again, to Salem's credit, they've kept Kevin on their Townhall.com site as a columnist and blogger.)

(It's curious, though. Less than a month ago, I was able to use the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine to double-check my memory of the pre-2008 lineup on WMCA and WWDJ. Tonight I find that the website for the stations, nycradio.com, is blocking the Internet Archive. That situation always bugs me when I come across it.)

I hate to see local talk get squeezed out, and I'm thankful that Journal Broadcast Group remains committed to the idea, with over 24 hours of local talk shows each week on KFAQ.

MORE: This morning, KFAQ announced the addition of another local program. Joe Riddle brings his old-time radio show to the station, every Sunday night from 6 pm - 9 pm, sponsored by Humana.

I first met Joe almost 30 years ago, when he was a producer for KRMG's evening talk shows, Sports Line with Bob Carpenter and Night Line with David Stanford. I'd gone with a group of high school friends to visit KRMG's studios atop Liberty Towers at 15th and Boulder. Joe recorded one of our bunch doing his best David Stanford impression.

Joe's old-time radio show is fun listening, and I'm happy that KFAQ has picked it up. (Now if someone would only bring back Riders Radio Theater.)

It's fun to step back 70 years to the good old days of radio comedy and drama, although it'd be nice just to step back 30 years, to the days before cutthroat corporate control of the airwaves, back when local people like Mr. Swanson and Mr. Stuart owned stations.

Candidates for the District 4 seat on the Tulsa City Council will face off tonight (Tuesday, March 11) in a forum sponsored by the Pearl District Association. The event runs from 6 p.m. to 7:15 p.m., at the Central Center (aka "The Boathouse") in Central Park, on the south side of 6th Street, west of Peoria. Councilor Maria Barnes and challenger Eric Gomez will answer written questions from the audience.

I would expect quite a few questions related to zoning and land use planning. The Pearl District is seeking to be a pilot area for form-based codes -- a kind of land use regulation that focuses on the form of the building rather than the use its being put to. Neighborhood Conservation District zoning is another topic that is sure to come up; it works within traditional zoning to seek consistency of building form in a neighborhood within broad criteria.

I've heard that a number of opponents of NCDs plan to be present to make some noise. I hope supporters of the idea will be there as well to show their support for planning that accommodates new development while preserving the character of our midtown neighborhoods.

Sorry for the late notice, but I only just learned about it myself.

UPDATE: It was very informative. Most of the questions, submitted by the audience, were advanced-level questions on land-use planning and zoning. The candidates had plenty of time to give thoughtful answers, and Jamie Jamieson, the moderator, did a good job of adding context to the questions where appropriate. I will post audio here sometime tomorrow morning.

In response to panicky and misinformed e-mails spreading alarm about the idea of Neighborhood Conservation Districts, Councilor Maria Barnes, who revived the dormant issue at the request of many of her District 4 constituents, has sent out an e-mail clarifying the overall concept and the specific proposal under discussion.

Neighborhood Conservation Districts

In the past several weeks, I have received numerous emails and phone calls inquiring about the proposed conservation district ordinance. The proposed ordinance would allow neighborhoods to finely tune the zoning code to address/maintain the physical characteristics of their neighborhood. If the neighborhoods choose to do so, the ordinance would empower them to adopt an overlay zoning that would help preserve features they believe important to the houses in their neighborhood. There is a great deal of misinformation about what this ordinance will and will not do. So, I would like to take this opportunity to explain the proposed ordinance.

Was the ordinance drafted without the involvement of the regional planning body INCOG?

Those concerned that this is a legislative initiative of a city councilor, and not Tulsa Metropolitan Area Planning Commission (TMAPC) staff, should be aware that the current draft is based on a 1995 draft ordinance proposed by TMAPC staff. It has been on the table for 13 years.

Beginning in 1992, Tulsa Metropolitan Area Planning Commission (TMAPC) staff researched and developed draft recommendations for a conservation district overlay designation. The Conservation District Study was included in the TMAPC's annual work program in 1994-95 and 1995-96, "in response to development pressures that [had] begun to affect several of the city's otherwise stable neighborhoods. These pressures [were] the result of inappropriate and often obsolete zoning patterns or the expansion of major non-residential uses adjacent to or into residential areas. The study's purpose was to identify and recommend means to stabilize the neighborhoods without jeopardizing the adjacent uses' viability."

Conservation Zoning is not Historic Preservation

This ordinance is not designed to slow or stop the demolition of houses and replacing them with newer ones. Quite the opposite, the ordinance freely allows new houses to be built within conservation districts, provided the builder meets the reasonable guidelines that the homeowners create.

A Conservation District would not be imposed against homeowners' wishes.

In order to establish the overlay zoning, neighborhoods would have to demonstrate significant support for the zoning. The neighborhoods would be able to choose the types of features to include in the overlay, whether it is setbacks, height, or roof pitch.

Conservation District Zoning could not be used to enforce "taste."

The adopted guidelines will be up to the individual neighborhoods; however, those guidelines will be limited to size, scale, and other objective criteria consistent with existing, predominate features of the neighborhood. No one will be able to dictate aesthetic requirements such as paint color or window styles.

Conservation Districts will not impose additional red tape.

The current version of the ordinance would allow the Conservation Districts to be administered through the building and permitting office, just like any other construction project.

Conclusion:

Based upon the input I have received from homeowners in my district, I chose to work on this proposed ordinance. However, I am always interested in hearing more.

Please let me know what you think of conservation districts, and whether you believe your neighborhood would benefit from such an ordinance. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me at 596-1924.

Something that could be clearer in Barnes's response is that, while the neighborhood would be involved in the drafting of guidelines, the guidelines and the NCD boundaries would be reviewed by the TMAPC and require the approval of the City Council and the Mayor -- the same process used for any other zoning change, including overlay districts like Planned Unit Developments (PUD) and Historic Preservation (HP) districts. And as with any other zoning change, a protest petition signed by a sufficient number of property owners in or near the district would trigger a supermajority -- seven of the nine councilors would have to approve the NCD rezoning in order for it to go into effect. Here's the relevant portion of the Tulsa City Charter, section 6.3, adopted by the vote of the people in the 2006 city primary election:

In the event a protest against a proposed zoning change is filed at least three (3) days prior to the hearing of the Council by the owners of twenty percent (20%) or more of the area of the lots included in such proposed change, or by the owners of fifty percent (50%) or more of the area of the lots within a three hundred foot (300') radius of the exterior boundary of the territory included in a proposed change, such zoning change shall not become effective except by the affirmative vote of three fourths (3/4) of the entire membership of the Council. The Council shall establish by ordinance the procedures to be followed in the filing, validation, and acceptance of a protest authorized by this Section.

While it's mathematically possible that an NCD could be approved without the support of the overwhelming majority of the property owners within it, it's politically very unlikely.

As I've already communicated to Eric Gomez, her opponent in the April 1 general election, I will be happy to publish any statement he cares to make on the subject of Neighborhood Conservation Districts. In our phone conversation, Gomez disavowed a statement in an e-mail circulated by an NCD opponent claiming that he (Gomez) absolutely opposes NCDs.

You can find the first draft of an NCD enabling ordinance, the City Council staff analysis of NCDs in other cities, and my latest column on the subject, linked from this BatesLine entry, Fighting FUD on NCDs.

Tulsa Master Gardeners, part of the OSU Extension office at Expo Square, has posted an ice storm recovery page with links to advice on whether a tree is likely to recover, how to prune trees to help a tree recover, and what trees to plant to replace those that were lost to the storm or to preventative removal by the utility companies.

There's a lot of information to digest. I'd like to find the right kind of tree to plant along our back fence, which is a utility easement. There's a three-foot wide strip planted with iris which used to be shaded by volunteer trees, but the trees were cleared out by PSO, and the sunlight allows weeds to thrive. The old trees also provided screening between our backyard and the neighbors' yard. It would be nice to find some trees that would grow to about 12' and provide partial shade below. Any suggestions?

Past columns in Urban Tulsa Weekly have dealt with the concept of Neighborhood Conservation Districts -- a type of zoning to accommodate new building in established neighborhoods while protecting the character of the neighborhood that made new development attractive in the first place. While opponents of NCDs try to nip the idea in the bud by spreading fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD, for short), there's now a concrete proposal that can be examined, critiqued, and compared to the alarums of the developers' lobby. In the current issue, I examine the draft Neighborhood Conservation District enabling ordinance and find it reasonable and modest in scope.

So you can read and decide for yourselves, here is the draft Neighborhood Conservation District enabling ordinance (45 KB PDF) and here is the report on NCDs by Council policy administrator Jack Blair (1.5 MB PDF).

Also in this issue, Brian Ervin has a fascinating and carefully written cover story profile of Steve Kitchell (who is associated in some vague way with but doesn't actually technically own nightclubs where bad things happen) which begins thus:

"If you libel or slander me, I'm warning you--there will be horrible consequences," said nightclub impresario Steve Kitchell during a recent telephone conversation.

His ominous warning came in response to an offer to interview him after 21-year-old Eric Bell was shot to death at Club UV late last year, once again bringing the name and notoriety of longtime nightclub impresario Steve Kitchell back into the forefront of the public's attention.

This week, Ervin also covers another midtown businessman with a mixed reputation, Dan Perry of Perry Properties, owner of apartments and rental houses:

When the Houston-based Bomasada Group announced its plans last week to build a high-end, 5-story apartment complex in Brookside, many residents celebrated the development as an eventual end to the "blight" currently resting on the site at 39th St. and Rockford Ave, otherwise known as the Brookside Annex and Brookside Courtyard apartments (for the latest on that, see accompanying sidebar).

A persistent attitude among many of the neighborhood residents is that the blight in question is the deliberate creation of the landlord, Dan Perry of Perry Properties.

And much, much more of interest in the latest issue of Urban Tulsa Weekly.

The Oklahoma Bar Association is in the process of considering changes to the our state's Canons of Judicial Conduct. Although the subject is challenging for us laymen, the impartiality and independence of our judges is at the heart of the rule of law and the security of our life, liberty, and property.

The OBA committee conducting the review of the judicial conduct standards are being guided by the American Bar Association's model standards. Many Oklahoma attorneys are concerned that the new standards go too far in questioning a judge's outside involvements and associations.

Among many other problems, if adopted the revised canons would, without being reviewed or approved by our elected representatives, create a new protected class in Oklahoma -- sexual orientation -- which is not a protected class under Oklahoma law. Under the new canons, it's conceivable that a judge could be required to recuse himself from a case involving a homosexual litigant merely because the judge attends a church that takes a traditional Christian view of sexuality.

Saturday afternoon on 1170 KFAQ, during the 4 p.m. hour, constitutional attorney Leah Farish will be talking with host Bruce Delay about this issue, why it matters, and what we ordinary citizens need to do about it. Be sure to tune in.

Farish knows the ugly reality of judicial bias and has actually had a case reversed in her client's favor on grounds of the judge's bias. She believes that current remedies for bias are sufficient and that the new canons would cause scrupulous judges to withdraw from outside organizations and involvements, the kinds of interactions that keep a judge connected with the people they serve and grounded in the reality of the world shaped by their decisions.

UPDATE: Added a link to the proposed revision of the canons, provided in the comments by attorney Greg Bledsoe.

MORE: Here's the podcast from Bruce Delay's interview with Leah Farish.

Back to blogging

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A quick note to welcome back two bloggers who spent some time on hiatus:

Mister Snitch! took most of '06 and '07 off, started up with occasional posts last fall and for the last month or so has been back to his previous prolific pace. (Twenty posts today, and the day's not over yet.) Proprietor Jeff Faria always provides an eclectic selection of links. I particularly enjoy his thoughts on the social impact of the Internet and his perspective on local politics and local journalism, shaped by his experiences in the Mile Square City, Hoboken, New Jersey.

Joe Kelley, host of the KRMG Morning News, was an avid blogger during his previous stint as overnight host on WBAP in Fort Worth. When he came to Tulsa in 2005, he posted occasionally before putting his blog permanently on hiatus and dropping the domain. The demands of the morning show and twin babies didn't leave him time to blog. Now it appears that blogging has become part of the job description, and Joe's back with a blog hosted on the KRMG website.

Welcome back to Jeff and Joe. You'll find links to their latest posts on the BatesLine blogroll headlines page, powered by NewsGator.

Julie Dermody of Collinsville has a brother in the National Guard who just returned to Oklahoma from Iraq. Through him, she became aware of a need for hospitalized troops in Iraq, something very basic and very inexpensive that would be very much appreciated: pajama pants.

No one likes wearing hospital gowns. Not only are they hard to put on, with the ties in back, they don't do an adequate job of covering what needs to be covered. Julie writes:

When soldiers are wounded in Iraq, they are taken to the hospital where their clothing is removed and they are given a hospital gown. (The kind that is slit up the backside) The trek to the hospital does not include stopping and getting an extra set of clothing ~ so our Heroes are left standing around with their bare bottoms playing peek-a-boo with every step they take.

You know how demeaning hospital gowns can be ~ Remember walking down a crowed hallway, feeling a cold draft up your backside? Then remembering...oops the world is able to see my derriere? Our brave men and women deserve better. With your help, we can give them a little dignity as they recover from injuries sustained in IRAQ.

Our goal is to collect 5,000 sleep pants and t-shirts. We will package a set in 2 gallon Ziploc bags with a card wishing them rapid recovery and letting them know since they've got our backs its time for us to step up and cover their's!

She's asking for new (NOT used) t-shirts and sleep pants with no words or writing on them. She'd like to collect all 5,000 sets by the end of March.

If you'd like to help, call Julie Dermody at 918-232-3796 or send her an e-mail at jjdermody03@sbcglobal.net. You can follow the project's progress at her GI Pajama Party blog.

Robinwood B&B

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Three summers ago, our family enjoyed a few peaceful days with some of my wife's relatives, staying in their beautifully restored and decorated home, built in 1913, in Little Rock's Quapaw Quarter. It looked like it ought to be a bed and breakfast, and now it is. (Here are some pictures of our kids at the house.)

Robinwood B&B has a website -- still under construction, but you can view pictures of several of the rooms and find their phone number, so you can call and speak to innkeeper Karen Ford or her mom Miriam to learn more. The website notes that the B&B is pet-friendly, something of a rarity. (UPDATE 2008/03/31: They've posted their room rates and booking policies.)

Little Rock is about a four-hour drive from Tulsa, and Robinwood B&B would make a great getaway.

RELATED: Just a few blocks away is the wonderful Community Bakery, on Main Street, just south of I-630, a local gathering place that I used as an office during our trip three years ago. From a blog entry I started at the time, but never finished: "This was my main office during our visit to the city, and I paid rent in the form of purchases of delicious treats like peanut butter cookies, brownies, bagels, a grilled chicken sandwich, a spinach frittata, and excellent coffee. The Wi-Fi connection was excellent, and there were enough outlets scattered around for the laptop users. A CD of baroque music played in the background. They have a small collection of board games and a stack of today's newspapers for the perusal of customers. There are nice views out onto Main Street, outdoor seating in good weather, and plenty of free parking."

Larry David, a lefty (but the comedic genius behind Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm), reacts to the Hillary Clinton "3 a.m." ad:

I watched, transfixed, as she took the 3 a.m. call...and I was afraid...very afraid. Suddenly, I realized the last thing this country needs is that woman anywhere near a phone. I don't care if it's 3 a.m. or 10 p.m. or any other time. I don't want her talking to Putin, I don't want her talking to Kim Jong Il, I don't want her talking to my nephew. She needs a long rest. She needs to put on a sarong and some sun block and get away from things for a while, a nice beach somewhere -- somewhere far away, where there are...no phones.

(Hat tip: Joe Kelley.)

Local angle: David suggests Obama run an ad featuring "a montage of Clinton's Sybillish personalities that have surfaced during the campaign," and he illustrates the point with a montage of scary Hillary pictures assembled by Tulsa's own Don Danz of danzfamily.com.

Evidently a lot of folks share David's trepidation about Hillary picking up the Hotline in the middle of the night. Here's the ad, with focus group reactions from Hillary supporters, Obama supporters, and undecideds. Watch what happens when Hillary appears on screen:

(Via Hot Air.)

abigaillitle.jpg

Five years ago, on the afternoon of March 5, 2003, a Palestinian suicide bomber stepped onto a city bus in Haifa, Israel, and detonated the shrapnel-laden bomb strapped to his body. 17 people were killed by the explosion, 53 were wounded. This was a bus filled with young people. Of the 17 fatalities, 9 were under 18, and only two were over the age of 27.

I knew one of the young people killed on that bus, 14-year-old Abigail Litle, the daughter of dear friends of mine from college. Here's an excerpt of something I wrote shortly after the attack:

Just one week earlier Abigail and Juval [Mendelevich] had gone on their first field trip with their school's "Children Teaching Children" program, designed to bring Arab and Jewish teenagers together, in hopes of tearing down the wall of prejudice between the two communities. At an Arab-Israeli school, Abigail befriended an Arab girl. They were to meet again the following Monday.

But a hate-filled murderer got on the bus that Juval and Abigail were riding. Right after Juval's dad heard his son say, "I love you," Mahmoud Hamdan Kawasme detonated an explosive package filled with nails, killing 16 innocents and maiming many more. Mahmoud left behind a note praising the 9/11 attacks. Later that week, Mahmoud's mother threw a party celebrating his "martyrdom" and told the press she was proud of her son.

Abigail's parents are friends of mine from college. Phil and Heidi Litle were three and two years ahead of me at MIT, respectively. Phil and Heidi are possessed of a deep and abiding Christian faith, and they influenced a generation of Christians at MIT to pursue a closer walk with Jesus. They first came to Israel when Abigail was a baby and her older brother Josiah was a toddler, so that Phil could pursue a graduate degree at Technion, Israel's most prestigious engineering school. They fell in love with Israel and its people, and so they stayed and had three more children there. Phil took a position as an administrator with the Baptist denomination, serving the small evangelical Christian community in the country. The Litles worship as part of a congregation led by an Israeli Arab, side by side with Jewish, Arab, and Gentile followers of Jesus.

Abigail had all the hopes and dreams of a typical American 14 year old. She wasn't some agent of "the Zionist entity" seeking to "oppress" the Palestinians. She was a bridge across ethnic and religious divides. She saw people as individuals, not as racial stereotypes. And two weeks ago, she was murdered, she and Israeli Jews and Israeli Arabs, by a Palestinian who had been indoctrinated by official Palestinian media and by official Palestinian schools to believe that killing Jews is honorable and blessed by God. Abigail's life was gone in an instant.

On this fifth anniversary of her death, I ask you to join me in remembering her life, in celebrating her victorious faith in Christ, in praying for her family, and in recommitting to the long struggle against terrorism. Here are links to some articles about her and about the terrorist attack.

A month after the bombing, Abigail's father wrote a letter about Abigail's life and character, about the events of March 5, and about her funeral.

A couple of weeks after the bombing, I wrote the piece excerpted above about the bombing and the false parallels being drawn between Abigail Litle and Rachel Corrie. Corrie died defending tunnels that Palestinian terrorists used to smuggle weapons into Israel.

This blog entry, from a year later, includes a description by Abigail's father of the first anniversary memorials and has links to an account of Abigail's faith and an editorial by the spokesman for Israel's Chicago consulate.

On the third anniversary of the bombing, Angela Bertz remembered the nine children killed on that bus in light of the Academy Awards' celebration of Palestinian terrorism:

This year, to the horror of anyone with a moral conscience, the movie "Paradise Now" was rewarded with an award by the Golden Globes. This abhorrent movie attempts, with a somewhat warped mixture of humour and mawkish sentiments, to turn mass murderers into the same breathing, caring individuals as their intended victims.

It follows the trail of 2 young Palestinian men, not much older than the victims of the #37 bus, culminating in one of the mass murderers detonating an explosive belt on a crowded Tel Aviv bus.

It seems that Palestinian mass murder is not only popcorn flavour of the month with the Golden Globes, but with the Academy Awards looming, this horrific epic to nothing more than Palestinian terrorism is about to come up trumps again.

One can only look in amazement as this respectable organization will read out the names of this year's nominations, which include "Paradise Now". This is tantamount to declaring that the event of 3 years ago and the murder of 9 innocent children (+ eight more innocent people) at the hands of a Palestinian homicide bomber, is of no more consequence than the death of a couple of luckless cows who were killed to provide the hotdogs for anyone who considers this a movie of any merit.

The Academy, if it had any moral fiber, would throw out this nomination. The mass murderers fulfilled their senseless ambition in life when they murdered these innocent children and many other innocent victims. They will no doubt be a light to their non-existent nation of Palestine, shining brightly under some street sign in Gaza named after them, or grinning from the pages of a Palestinian textbook, who will revere them as heroes for the next generation of Palestinian children who long to emulate them. Their mothers, like that of the 37 bus bomber will talk with pride of their child's deed.

The children on the #37 bus, who never had the chance to fulfill their ambitions in life, which certainly never included mass-murder, are the real stars. Their light will shine brighter than any Golden Globe or Oscar, in the memories of not only all those that knew and loved them personally, but to everyone who has had the privilege of knowing them in some small way through websites dedicated to their memory.

Just after the second anniversary, Deroy Murdock wrote about the importance of the language we use in talking about terrorism, terrorists and their victims. (Emphasis added.)

When speaking about those who are killed by terrorists, be specific, name them, and tell us about them. Humanize these individuals. They are more than just statistics or stick figures.

I have written 18 articles and produced a Web page, HUSSEINandTERROR.com, to demonstrate that Saddam Hussein did have ties to terrorism....

To show that Saddam Hussein's support of terrorism cost American lives, I remind people about the aid and comfort he gave to terrorism master Abu Nidal. Among Abu Nidal's victims in the 1985 bombing of Rome's airport was John Buonocore, a 20-year-old exchange student from Delaware. Palestinian terrorists fatally shot Buonocore in the back as he checked in for his flight. He was heading home after Christmas to celebrate his father's 50th birthday.

In another example, those killed by Palestinian homicide bombers subsidized by Saddam Hussein were not all Israeli, which would have been unacceptable enough. Among the 12 or more Americans killed by those Baathist-funded murderers was Abigail Litle, the 14-year-old daughter of a Baptist minister. She was blown away aboard a bus in Haifa on March 5, 2003. Her killer's family got a check for $25,000 courtesy of Saddam Hussein as a bonus for their son's "martyrdom."

Is all of this designed to press emotional buttons? You bet it is. Americans must remain committed -- intellectually and emotionally -- to this struggle. There are many ways to engage the American people. No one should hesitate to remind Americans that terrorism kills our countrymen -- at home and abroad -- and that those whom militant Islam demolishes include promising young people with bright futures, big smiles, and, now, six feet of soil between them and their dreams.

Never forget.

RELATED: The mother of Abigail Litle's murderer threw a party in her son's honor a few days after the killing. Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz asks how we fight a culture where mothers urge their sons to prefer martyrdom to life.

"We are going to win, because they love life and we love death," said Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah. He has also said: "[E]ach of us lives his days and nights hoping more than anything to be killed for the sake of Allah." Shortly after 9/11, Osama bin Laden told a reporter: "We love death. The U.S. loves life. That is the big difference between us."

"The Americans love Pepsi-Cola, we love death," explained Afghani al Qaeda operative Maulana Inyadullah....

How should Western democracies fight against an enemy whose leaders preach a preference for death?...

The traditional sharp distinction between soldiers in uniform and civilians in nonmilitary garb has given way to a continuum. At the more civilian end are babies and true noncombatants; at the more military end are the religious leaders who incite mass murder; in the middle are ordinary citizens who facilitate, finance or encourage terrorism. There are no hard and fast lines of demarcation, and mistakes are inevitable -- as the terrorists well understand.

We need new rules, strategies and tactics to deal effectively and fairly with these dangerous new realities....

(Thanks to Tulsa City Councilor John Eagleton for calling this article to my attention.)

Community World ends

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Today, the Tulsa World is spiking its Community World editions. All CW employees have been laid off.

The Community World editions were established in 1993 under the leadership of Charlie Biggs. The intent was to stave off the growth of suburban papers. It seems like the launch of the community papers also helped the World starve the Tulsa Sentinel of ad revenue. (The Sentinel was a weekly paper published by Landon Jones, grandson of Tulsa Tribune publisher Jenk Jones. The Tribune ceased publication on September 30, 1992; the Sentinel launched about a month later.)

Emily Priddy, who was an associate editor for the Community World's Westside edition, writes on TulsaNow's forum about the end of the weekly regional editions:

Their Web site doesn't mention this today, but the Tulsa World is ceasing publication of the Community World and has laid off the entire CW staff. I notice that the announcement on the front of today's Westside issue -- which was added after we'd proofed the Westside pages, and which resulted in a reporter's actual work being spiked to make room for it -- omitted that bit about the layoffs. The announcement also neglects to mention the fact that those laid off were given absolutely no warning and received eight days' pay and 26 days' benefits in exchange for their loyalty to the company. And it entirely fails to notify readers that two of the people laid off had been hired less than two weeks earlier.

One woman had signed a lease on a new apartment four days earlier. Another had put a down payment on a condo a week before the axe fell. One girl had quit a job at Urban Tulsa Weekly just three weeks ago to come to the Community World. A woman who has struggled financially for several years had just gotten back on her feet and was about to move into a house. Another has worked for the company for ... 13 years, I think? She repeatedly asked for an explanation of why we were given no warning that this was coming and no time to find other jobs or make other plans. She was given a reason for the layoffs, but she received absolutely no explanation for the callous manner in which the layoffs were handled.

Money will buy Armani suits and Ferraris and all sorts of other pretty toys. It will put a few kids through Holland Hall, and it will buy their grandma's best friend a byline on a column that someone else ghostwrites for her. But there is one thing money -- even old money -- can't buy: Class. And I've seen far more of that commodity in Oakhurst, Turley, and my beloved Red Fork than I see coming out of the mansions around Woodward Park this morning.

The "grandma's best friend" reference is to Danna Sue Walker, whose byline appears over the World's society column. In an e-mail to me, Emily wrote:

My heart is breaking for my colleagues -- some of whom worked for the World for more than a decade and deserved much, much better than they got, and some of whom were hired less than two weeks ago, only to be terminated before they'd had time to finish walking their beats. Laying off some staff members is understandable: Newspapers are doing it all over the country as upper management struggles to cope with the pressures of competition from the Internet and other media outlets. Laying off staff members with absolutely no warning -- and then giving them a severance package consisting of eight days' pay and 26 days' benefits -- is unconscionable. I'd expect that kind of treatment from Wal-Mart. But I expected better than that from a mom-and-pop business that's been in the same family, serving the same community, for a century.

I thought old money was supposed to be classier than that. Apparently I was mistaken.

The CW editions were where you'd find some of the most interesting and well-reported stories in the paper. Let's hope those talented reporters are able to continue serving Tulsa's readers in some other venue.

Jack's back!

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

I imagine Tulsa City Councilor Jack Henderson is feeling quite exhilarated tonight, as he has survived a very well-financed challenge, winning a third term with over 55% of the vote in District 1. All the candidates who filed for the office were Democrats, so Henderson is back in.

It's another defeat for the Tulsa Whirled editorial board, which endorsed Midtown-financed River Tax backer Emanuel Lewis.

Among other things, this means that we now know that at least four of the nine councilors will be familiar faces. Councilors Rick Westcott, John Eagleton, and Bill Martinson did not draw an opponent.

District 4 could be a very competitive race. Incumbent Democrat Maria Barnes won renomination handily, with 75%, and 2004 Republican nominee Eric Gomez received 65% of the vote. Although the district leans Democrat, and the incumbent will have an advantage, Gomez nearly beat incumbent Tom Baker four years ago.

In District 9, Phil Kates, who was unopposed for the Democratic nomination two years ago won today over Roger Lowry. Kates will face Republican nominee G. T. Bynum and independent candidate Paul Tay on April 1. District 9 is one of three districts (5 and 7 are the other two) that has never elected a Democratic councilor.

(Districts 1 and 3 have never elected Republicans, although District 3 councilor Darrell Gilbert was a Republican when he was appointed to fill the unexpired term of Mike Patrick. Gilbert changed parties, was defeated for re-election by David Patrick, then ran successfully for State House District 72.)

In two of the primaries there were three candidates, which meant there was a chance that someone could win without a majority since Tulsa city elections don't have runoffs, but that didn't happen.

Turnout was highest in the most competitive race -- 2,600 voters in District 1. The Democratic and Republican District 4 races brought out about 981 and 790 voters, respectively. Only 330 Democrats turned out in District 9. An aggressive and well-organized campaign -- I'm thinking of Anna Falling's 1998 run -- could have easily changed the outcomes.

Gwen Freeman, until recently host of KFAQ Mornings here in Tulsa, has rejoined Michael DelGiorno at WWTN (Supertalk 99.7 WTN) in Nashville. Starting tomorrow, you'll be able to hear her on DelGiorno's program from 9 am to 1 pm each weekday. (You can listen live to WTN by clicking here. Please note that the link works best in Internet Explorer.) The station will be easing her into the co-host position, so you probably won't hear much of her at first.

Gwen's departure is a loss for Tulsa radio, and I know from the many comments and questions I've received these past three weeks that her friends and listeners miss her dearly. I do, too. I'm hopeful that Nashville's larger market, there at the hub of the music industry, will give greater scope for her talents.

MORE: KFAQ is searching for a new morning show host. The qualifications -- a minimum of three to five years talk show experience, preferably morning show experience, plus:

A knowledge and understanding of issues important to a conservative talk show audience. Excellent verbal and written communications skills required; good voice quality that includes clear enunciation; ability to present your perspectives and insights in an entertaining and creative way; strong problem solving abilities; high work ethic; ability to meet deadlines and detail orientation; operate studio equipment; general knowledge of radio station operation; computer proficiency; an appreciation and understanding of the sales process.

In addition to hosting the morning show, the job requires "blogging and other web generated content tied to the morning show; public appearances; community/event involvement, and other duties as assigned by managers."

UPDATE: Tulsa Business Journal has a quote from WWTN management:

"Tulsa's loss is my gain," said John Mountz, WWTN vice president. "We have been looking forward to re-uniting them."

A panel at the Wharton Business Technology Conference inspires mobility guru Russ McGuire to ponder bygone days:

My key reflection from this panel was that in 1995 I founded an Internet startup, had to buy a $20,000 Sun server and pay $1000 a month for T1 access to the Internet. In 2001 I founded another Internet startup, bought a $2000 Sun Internet appliance and payed $100 a month for business DSL. Today I continue to launch Internet-based projects (because I love it) but today I'm using Google Apps (for free) to set up the basic infrastructure, and am beginning to mess around with Amazon Web Services for a very scalable and affordable solution instead of a server or traditional hosting. My how the world has changed in a baker's dozen years!

TulsaNow forums participant cannon_fodder reminds us that on November 15, 2007, at 7:20 a.m. on KRMG radio, Tulsa County Commissioner Randi Miller said:

Whoever came up with the idea the space would just be surface parking was misinformed.

cannon_fodder has photos of the stripey, flat, asphalty-looking thing where Bell's used to be, and he counts the cost:

Keep in mind that in addition to losing the $135,000 a year in rent we also paid $210,000 to take down the Roller Coaster and another $227,500 to clear the land. Figure the annuity is worth $2mil (PV of an annuity at 7%) and we are already in for $2,500,000 before we start building those lovely lots (which cost an additional 2.5mil or so I'd guess) . Not too mention the loss of entertainment, an interesting landscape, and a Tulsa icon.

Whatever it is, it's clearly not a very expensive surface parking lot, because Randi Miller says so.

In related news, Murphy Brothers, the midway operator for the Tulsa State Fair, has signed a letter of intent to buy Wild West World, a bankrupt amusement park north of Wichita. (Hat tip to patric on the Tulsa Now forums.)

Ad fontes

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Robert N. Going says it's time to get back to our roots:

Let's grow up, Conservatives! The reason the Republican Party is slipping away from us is that they and we have drifted from our roots. With the passing of the Founding Father, William F. Buckley, Jr., now would be a good time to review where we have been and where we should go.

As a starting point, he gives us the Sharon Statement, adopted in 1960 as the founding document of Young Americans for Freedom. It outlines in 12 short paragraphs a creed that upholds the indivisibility of economic and political liberty, the limited purposes and competencies of government, the Constitutional division of powers, the market economy and its essential role in freedom and prosperity, the importance of national sovereignty to liberty, and the necessity of opposing and defeating threats to liberty in the world.

If you were to compose a similar summary of conservatism today, what else would it include? The Sharon Statement was written before the judicial activism of the Warren Court and its successors, before LBJ's massive Great Society expansion of government, before Roe v. Wade. A similar statement written just 15 years later likely would have addressed those matters explicitly, although the principles are already present in the statement.

In more recent years, we've seen the rise of the wheeler dealers, a more Republican-friendly kind of government expansion which uses earmarks and special tax treatment and eminent domain to pick winners and losers in the free market. Given that the Republican Party is the major party most closely aligned with conservatism, conservatives need to denounce this kind of misuse of government power as clearly as possible.

Going says he intends these next few months to look back and look forward. The reflections of someone who was involved in the movement from its earliest years will be worth reading.

... and hoist it in honor of St. David's Day, the national day of the Principality of Wales, with a rousing rendition of "Men of Harlech."

Here it is again, in Welsh and English, sung by Charlotte Church with the London Welsh Male Voice Choir:

Finally, the hymn "Cwm Rhondda" ("Guide Me O Thou Great Jehovah") and "Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau," the Welsh national anthem:

Why a leek?

The connection between Wales and the leek is obscure. Most authors trying to trace the link come up with one or other of the legends that show it was used by the Welsh as a cap badge in battle to show friend from foe

One version is that St David advised the Britons on the eve of a battle with the Saxons, to wear leeks in their caps so that they could easily distinguish friend from foe. This apparently helped to secure a great victory.

Another version has the same thing happening at the Battle of Agincourt, when Welsh archers fought with Henry V against the French. The leeks in their caps distinguished them from their enemies

In any event the leek is firmly associated with the Welsh today. Leeks are worn on St David's Day. It is still a surviving tradition that soldiers in the Welsh regiments eat a raw leek on St David's Day.

Appropriately enough, the daffodils are just about to bloom here in Tulsa.

I had the privilege of being on the air with Darryl Baskin this morning. He has a very interesting and thoughtful Saturday morning show, 7 a.m. on 1170 KFAQ, mainly about real estate, but touching on all sorts of related issues.

Neighborhood conservation districts, a zoning tool that allows new development while protecting the character of established neighborhoods, was our main topic of conversation. As a Realtor, he's concerned about not adding red tape to the process, but he also understands the value inherent in a neighborhood's character. I tried to make the case that NCDs can be done in a way that adds protection but doesn't complicate the process or stifle development.

Darryl's co-host, Neil Dailey of Baskin Dailey Commercial Real Estate Sales and Leasing, had a salient question about the conflict between neighborhood conservation and New Urbanism, which encourages infill to achieve higher densities. I pointed out that the residential teardown type of infill -- the kind that NCDs address -- usually just replace one house with another and add nothing to the overall population. New Urbanist infill would work better in, say, a vacant area downtown that could be replaced with a mixture of retail, office, and residential, where you'd be replacing a population of next to nothing with hundreds or thousands of residents.

We also talked briefly about streets and paving.

Here's a direct link to the podcast for this morning. You can also find it on the KFAQ podcast site. My segment is in the last half-hour of the show.

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This page is an archive of entries from March 2008 listed from newest to oldest.

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