August 2009 Archives

Tulsa Mayor Kathy Taylor, who ended her campaign for re-election early this summer, raised and spent more money on her non-campaign than any of the candidates seeking to replace her.

Steven Roemerman and I worked together to sift through the pre-primary campaign reports, and he has posted a spreadsheet summary of campaign contributions and expenditures.

Taylor raised $539,309.69 and spent $348,745.00, over a period from December 10, 2007, to August 24, 2009. The report did not break down expenditures by date.

Taylor's reported contributions included $50 on March 4, 2009, from District 5 Republican candidate Chris Trail, who at the time still listed his residence as 7306 W. 35th St., outside the city limits west of Tulsa. Taylor's husband, Bill Lobeck, returned the favor, donating $500 to Trail.

Dewey Bartlett Jr was second among mayoral candidates, raising $286,243.05 and spending $155,659.72.

Tom Adelson raised $196,896 and spent $109,690.30.

Chris Medlock raised $47,572.62 and spent $45,684.06.

Mark Perkins, an independent candidate who will be on the general election ballot, raised $24,477.35 and spent $4,644.69

Norris Streetman, Kevin Boggs, and Clay Clark (who did not file to be on the ballot) also filed reports, but none raised or spent more than $5,000. No other mayoral candidate filed a report.

More detail to follow later this evening.

Anna FallingLast Sunday the Tulsa World ran a story on information discovered in their background checks of candidates for City of Tulsa office. The paper missed some interesting information; thus this series.

The subject of today's post is former city councilor and Republican mayoral candidate Anna Falling. The World story mentions three cases, but there were two more, one from last year, one from last month, that escaped their notice.

In the weeks since she announced her campaign for mayor, Anna Falling or her Tulsa Cornerstone Assistance Network have been the subject of two garnishment summonses, one relating to an indebtedness lawsuit from earlier in the year, one (issued last Friday) relating to a recently filed small claims case. Also last Friday, an asset hearing was ordered in one of the cases. A breach of agreement lawsuit filed by ONB Bank against Falling, Falling's husband, and Tulsa CAN remains pending; it appears to involve Tulsa Cornerstone's mortgage and a failure to maintain insurance on the mortgaged property.

Here are links to the OSCN docket files for the five cases with a timeline of key events for each:


  • April 5, 2004: Case filed.
  • May 26, 2004: District Judge Russell Haas ruled in favor of the plaintiff and against Falling "in the sum of $1,982.01 plus interest, costs, and $690.00 attorney fees."
  • July 14, 2004: A garnishment summons was issued to Communication Federal Credit Union.
  • October 14, 2004: Judge orders hearing on assets
  • December 10, 2004: Hearing on assets held. Falling doesn't attend or send an attorney. "NO ONE FOR THE DEFENDANT. BENCH WARRANT AUTHORIZED."

SC-2008-10673: C It All Leak Detectors & Plumbing Inc, Plaintiff, v. Tulsa Cornerstone Assistance Network, Defendant.

  • June 30, 2008: Case filed.
  • August 12, 2008: At the hearing, Tulsa Cornerstone Assistance Network was not present. Judge Charles Hogshead grants a default judgment in favor of the plaintiff, $285 plus court costs plus 10% attorney fees.

CS-2009-564: TULSA ADJUSTMENT BUREAU INC, Plaintiff, v. CHRISTOPHER D BEACH, Defendant, and ANNA L FALLING, Defendant.

  • January 22, 2009: Case filed.
  • July 27, 2009: Garnishment affidavit filed.
  • July 29, 2009: Garnishment summons issued.
  • August 27, 2009: Hearing on assets application filed.
  • August 28, 2009: Asset hearing ordered for October 2, 2009.


The Tulsa World story described this as a "foreclosure petition" and quoted Falling's husband, Chris Beach, who is executive director of Tulsa Cornerstone Assistance Network, as saying that the organization "took a 'time out' on the organization's mortgage... but have since made it up."

The OSCN docket report says the case against Falling, Beach, and Tulsa Cornerstone Assistance Network is still pending.

  • April 29, 2009: Case filed.
  • May 4, 2009: Summons served on defendants.
  • May 5, 2009: Beach wrote a letter to ONB Bank officers:
  • As the executive director of the Tulsa Cornerstone Assistance Network, I write this letter to you on behalf of the board of directors. We would like to ask if we can give you $5000 this week, $5000 the next, bring our insurance up to date the following week, and then offer you $2000 a month from now until the loan is paid off in full. We would like to negotiate a fair interest rate and an option to pay the mortgage off in full without penalties.

  • May 8, 2009: Beach wrote a follow-up letter to the same ONB Bank officials:
  • Thank you Byron [Perry of ONB Bank] for calling me back yesterday regarding our proposed solution. I am sorry you could not accept that offer.

    We will go seek to raise the additional $7000 you want up front immediately. We would like to ask if you can give us an extra 20 days to raise the additional $7000. If agreeable to this, we will go ahead and provide to you the first two $5000 payments this next week, followed by the insurance policy re-established, all within the original 20-day period.

  • June 2, 2009: C-It-All Leak Detectors & Plumbing, Inc. "expressly disclaims any right, title or interest in and to that certain real property which is the subject of the case." This company was the plaintiff in the 2008 small claims case. Does their listing as a defendant in this case and filing of this disclaimer of interest indicate that they had a lien on the property in question relating to that earlier case?

SC-2009-12187: Gregory Miller, Plaintiff, v. Tulsa Cornerstone Assistance Network, Defendant.

  • July 24, 2009: Case filed.
  • August 14, 2009: Judge Millie Otey finds in favor of the plaintiff, who is awarded $635 and court costs.
  • August 28, 2009: Garnishment summons issued.

Children anticipate December 25 with excitement. I get excited about 5 p.m. on the 8th day before a City of Tulsa election. You can learn a lot about a candidate from his campaign contributions and expenditures, and you can often discern patterns in the giving of frequent individual contributors and political action committees (PAC).

I plan to be down at the City Clerk's office as the deadline approaches and will, as I have in elections past, post a summary of the campaign disclosure filings for mayor, council, and auditor as soon as my fingers can type it. Watch this space!

The League of Women Voters of Metro Tulsa will hold candidate forums on Tuesday, September 1, 2009, for the five Tulsa City Council districts for which there are primary elections. The forums will run from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

District 2 (Rick Westcott, Bart Rhoades): McClure Elementary, 1770 E. 61st St.

District 4 (Rocky Frisco, Eric Gomez; Maria Barnes, Liz Wright): Fellowship Congregational Church, 2900 S. Harvard Ave.

District 5 (Bill Martinson, Chris Trail): Schusterman Benson Library, 3333 E. 32nd Pl.

District 6 (Jim Mautino, Tadd Weese; Mario Choice, Dennis Troyer): Martin East Regional Library, 2601 S. Garnett Road.

District 8 (Bill Christiansen, Scott Grizzle, Phil Lakin): Hardesty Regional Library, 8316 E. 93rd St.

I won't be able to attend all of these events, but I'd love first-hand reports (with audio or video, if possible). If you'd like to be a volunteer stringer for BatesLine, or if you plan to cover one of the forums on your own blog, send an e-mail to blog at batesline dot com, and let's coordinate our coverage.

In a comment on a previous entry, commenter John R. poses an intriguing set of mayoral criteria and a question:

Avoid candidates with these qualities/ambitions:

1) Running the City like a business. It is not, and trying to do that has not improved it

2) Legacies. Mayor Taylor has several. The need for them is questionable, the cost high. Good government is all the legacy anyone should want

3) Political/value labels. Local politics rarely allows high-minded political posing. It is down & dirty getting things done. At the end of the day, you have to wash them off pretty good to tell the blue from the red

4) Making public safety the only issue. That indicates ignorance of the scope of the City's responsibilities. Do we sacrifice clean water for more police? How much sewage do we dump in the river to hire more firemen?

5) Type A personalities. They like to command but not listen. They never reverse a Custer decision.

So who is left?

"Good government is all the legacy anyone should want" would make an excellent motto for the official seal of the Mayor of Tulsa.

Feel free to make the case for your candidate in the comments below.

Oklahoma 1st District Congressman John Sullivan will conduct two town halls tomorrow, Monday, August 31, 2009. At 2 p.m. Sullivan will meet with constituents at the NSU-BA Auditorium. At 4 p.m., there will be a town hall in the TCC PACE on the TCC southeast campus at 81st and US 169. For more information, contact the congressman's office at 918-749-0014.

The Tulsa Area Republican Assembly, a conservative Republican organization affiliated with the National Federation of Republican Assemblies, has endorsed Chris Medlock for the Republican nomination for Tulsa mayor at their nominating convention this morning.

The group's rules require a positive vote from two-thirds of its members, so in several races they made no endorsement. With several conservative candidates in the mayoral primary, it wasn't a sure thing that any one candidate would be able to get the required two-thirds. With no runoff, there is a danger that the long list of conservative candidates will split the conservative voters that constitute the majority of the Republican primary vote, allowing a non-conservative candidate to sneak through with a tiny plurality and capture the nomination. The Republican Assembly endorsement convention is as close as we will get this year to a "conservative primary."

Prior to the endorsement vote, the assembly heard from most of the long roster of Republican candidates. Dewey Bartlett Jr had promised to attend, but as with Monday night's After Five Republican Women's Club candidate forum, a Bartlett Jr campaign rep called the night before to cancel.

Here is the list of Republican Assembly endorsements for the September 8, 2009, primary:

Mayor: Chris Medlock
Auditor: Preston Doerflinger
District 4: Rocky Frisco
District 6: Jim Mautino
District 8: Bill Christiansen

Sunday, July 26, 2009: Hustontown, Pa., to Rockhill Furnace, Pa., to Hagerstown, Md., to Hustontown, Pa.

Our first full day with Uncle Greg and Aunt Sharon was railroad day. Uncle Greg is a longtime rail fan, and he was happy to introduce us to two nearby attractions: a genuine steam railroad and a museum devoted to model railroading and historical artifacts.

Enjoying the view, East Broad Top Railroad

(Follow the link to the jump page for the story, pictures, and video.)

The Whirled editorial board says, regarding the news that the new Tulsa City Hall at One Technology Center will cost $1.4 million more to operate than projected this year, draining Tulsa's general fund budget, that "the old I-told-you-so refrain isn't going to help anything."

On the contrary, a healthy dose of IToldYouSo Political Purgative is exactly what Tulsa politics needs. It might stimulate some needful skepticism in our city leaders. It might encourage councilors to ask more questions and to dig in their heels when the answers aren't forthcoming. It might act as a vaccine against the establishment's PR machine.

(Funny how the Whirled makes excuses for and warns against holding officials accountable for the bad decisions that they editorially encouraged. I seem to recall a similar editorial when the Great Plains deal came unraveled. Heaven forfend that those who encourage us to make expensively bad decisions should lose credibility when their folly comes to fruition.)

So here, in chronological order, is what I said about the City Hall move.

In my March 28, 2007, column, I praised the idea of relocating to One Technology Center as a planning concept, but with a big IF:

But as appealing as the move is, aesthetics and urban design aren't sufficient reasons to spend millions of public dollars. There has to be a net cost savings in the near term. City officials need a business plan that will give them a realistic picture of how much the current City Hall block and other city buildings would be worth.

(A business plan for the cost of operating the BOk Center might be a good idea, too. Before we go buying new buildings, we need to know if one we're already building is going to blow a massive hole in the city budget.)

They also need a conservative estimate of energy and maintenance cost savings. They shouldn't underestimate the monetary cost and lost productivity involved in a move, along with the need to support duplicate facilities for a time.

There ought to be a look at alternatives, too. A group of two or three of the historic buildings in Maurice Kanbar's inventory might serve well as a new City Hall.

Tulsans have already committed all our special projects money for the next six years; it's tied up in the Third Penny, Four to Fix the County and Vision 2025. Redirecting Third Penny funds away from existing projects to pay for a new City Hall would be possible, but politically hazardous. (The City might get away with diverting money for other downtown projects.)

It would be a good thing to do, but only if the move could be done without straining the already-constrained city budget. At the very least, it's worth the due diligence that city officials are now pursuing.

After some of that due diligence had been done -- from my June 20, 2007, column:

There are plenty of subjective reasons to like the idea of moving City Hall. The old building is ugly and sits in the middle of an ugly plaza. It was constructed in view of the projected needs of the City of Tulsa in 1985. The new location puts City Hall at the crossroads of streets that tie directly to the expressway system. It also puts City Hall closer to the center of new development activity on the east side of downtown. The newer building ought to be more energy-efficient.

None of that changes the fact that the move will cost $67.1 million, of which (according to the daily paper) $52.25 million is the purchase price of the building. That money has to come from somewhere, and we've already been told that the City budget won't allow for a net increase in the number of police officers, repairing and opening more pools than last summer, or operating the golf courses, even with an increase in utility rates....

In all the material that has been publicly released, there doesn't seem to be anything that says how the City will pay for the new building. It's one thing to claim, as the Staubauch report does, that moving to OTC will save the City $15.2 million over the first 10 years. That claim assumes operating costs to go up at a certain rate and that the City would have to fund $12 million in deferred maintenance costs that are currently unfunded.

(One of the charts that illustrates the asserted savings is a year-by-year graph comparing the costs of different scenarios. The first year estimate that the OTC option will cost less than $2 million vs. about $5 million for the status quo is clearly erroneous. The move to OTC has to be more expensive in year 1 than staying put because the City will be paying duplicate operating costs and additional one-time moving costs. One also has to wonder about the straight line on the graph estimating the cost of the status quo. Surely a thorough accounting of projected capital costs would show some variation from year to year.)

From Brian Ervin's story in the same issue:

Following the conclusion of the feasibility study, [Mayoral economic adviser Don] Himelfarb said operating out of OTC would save the city $15.2 million over the first 10 years by consuming 30 percent less energy and allowing for more efficient use of space.

"This is basically $15 million that is freed up that the city would not otherwise have to spend on police, roads and other services," he said.

The move would also get the city out from under $24 million in deferred maintenance costs to existing facilities, $12 million of which is unfunded.

Here on BatesLine, on the night of the vote, July 12, 2007 (emphasis added):

This deal should be measured by one standard: Will it leave the City with more money or less money available to fund the basic functions of city government?

Based on the numbers in the Staubach Company's report and the analysis of those numbers by Councilor Bill Martinson, there is a high risk that the move will leave the City of Tulsa with less money for police and parks and streets. If one of the current tenants leaves or even reduces its presence, if we are unable to find a replacement tenant who will pay the same price, if rental revenue is less than debt service on the loan, the City will have to make up the difference out of its operating budget. This deal would make the City of Tulsa a competitor in the commercial real estate industry, rolling the dice in a risky business, and using our mortgage money to place the bet.

To shift metaphors, this deal is a house of cards, and if any one of several contingencies fails to occur, the whole thing collapses.

The only facts that matter are these numbers -- how much it costs to operate our current facilities, how much it will cost to operate One Technology Center, how much it will cost to repay the loan on OTC, and how much we are likely to be paid in rent from third-party tenants.

The Council has not been given a full and detailed accounting of the cost of operating our current facilities. This information is surely available in our accounting system -- how much we pay custodial staff, how much we spend on utilities, the cost of repair projects -- based on actual expenditures over the last few fiscal years. Instead, Staubach prepared a sheet estimating cost per square foot for broad categories -- utilities, repairs, security, etc. -- and then multiplied by the sum of those per square feet numbers by the size of our buildings. The $24 million claimed as deferred maintenance costs are buried somewhere in Staubach's per-square-foot figures.

The Council has not been provided with a list of deferred maintenance items, the cost of each one, and the likelihood of needing to fund those items in the near future. Each such item should have a basis of estimate, explaining the work to be done and the manpower and material required. Instead, in response for their request for a detailed list, the Council was given the names of the items and a single number covering the cost of all of them.

With this lack of detail, it would be easy for Staubach to pick numbers for estimates that would make staying in the existing facilities seem to be more expensive than moving. And don't forget that Staubach gets paid more if the deal goes through, so they'd have an incentive to make the existing facilities look as expensive as possible.

The Council should not approve this deal without an accurate apples-to-apples comparison of costs showing that the move will be less expensive in the near term.

That night, here's what I told the City Council (thanks to David Schuttler for the video):

The morning after the eight-to-Eagleton vote, July 13, 2007:

Needless to say, I'm disappointed with last night's results, but I'm going to save most of my commentary for my column, and I've got some family-related entries I want to post. I'm not so much disappointed in the vote to buy OTC as in the reasons the councilors gave for voting yes. In the end, costs only mattered to one councilor: John Eagleton. In this vote, and in previous votes on the budget, he seems to be the only one who thinks through the full financial implications of his decisions. Councilor Cason Carter's solution only protects the City on the income side, and that not completely, as a master leaseholder could very well go bankrupt, leaving the City holding the bag. Councilor Bill Martinson's worse-case (not worst-case) estimate still uses Staubach's S.W.A.G. for the cost of current operations, not the City's actual expenditures, which would be a findable number that would have given them a firm basis for knowing the bottom-line impact on the City's general fund. It is disturbing that they would go ahead without those numbers.

From my column the following week -- Believe in the Cube:

Prior to the 8-1 vote to allow the Tulsa Public Facilities Authority (TPFA) to incur $79 million in debt to buy the shiny symbol of Tulsa's fall from high-tech glory, Taylor read a speech that appealed to anything but hard financial facts. Councilor John Eagleton was the only one able to resist the Mayor's siren song.

I'm not so disappointed that the eight councilors voted for the purchase (it may turn out to be a good deal) as I am in the reasons they gave for their decision. They switched off their B. S. detectors, set aside logic and any concern about cost, and set the City up for a repeat of the Great Plains Airlines debacle.

Although the Council made a show of reducing the risk involved in finding tenants to fill the Borg Cube's excess space, they proceeded to a vote without using the best available information to determine whether the move would leave the city with more money or less money for police, streets, and parks over the near term....

The decision to go into debt to buy OTC for a new City Hall should have come down to this question: Will this deal leave us with more money or less money to spend on government basics?

One would hope that that question would be uppermost in the minds of our city councilors, who had just been through a grueling budget process, unable to open more pools, unable to fund enough new police officers to outpace attrition.

What did the Whirled have to say? A commenter called TCB wrote this comment under their "don't say 'I told you so'" editorial (hyperlinks added):

Based on their recent track records, maybe editorial board and the Chamber of Commerce shouldn't be so quick to hurl insults at city councilors for asking questions about large, complex transactions involving taxpayer assets.

Editorial quotes:

Great Plains:

"There is no taxpayer money involved . . . ." (2-27-00) [actually 7-22-2000]

New City Hall:

"The new building, One Technology Center, would be a perfect fit for city offices. It would require little renovation . . . . the decision to go ahead should be a quick and easy one for the Council." (6-8-07)


"The plan to fund a new baseball park . . . has the backing of . . . the owners of the majority of the property affected. Delaying the Thursday vote will accomplish nothing, other than stalling progress and driving up costs." (7-10-08)

Over on TulsaNow's Public Forum, there's a link to this front page feature story in the June 7, 2007 Whirled, which used big bold red type to call attention to the projected financial benefits. I think they would have made the ink on the page blink if it were possible. (The print version is even more dramatic.)


Relocating to downtown tower projected to cut costs by $15 million over 10 years

In other news, for possibly the first time ever, I laughed at a Bruce Plante cartoon. Queen Kathy's crown is a lovely touch. Bruce had better update his resume, maybe check into adult education classes for a career change. Wasn't he instructed always to draw Mayor Taylor in a serious and deferential manner?

ONE MORE THING: A friend phoned to wonder if the Whirled is playing up this issue now to try to hurt three councilors -- Westcott, Martinson, and Christiansen -- who voted the Whirled's way in 2007 but have since defied them and Mayor Taylor and now have well-funded (albeit, in two cases, troubled) opponents. The one councilor who voted the right way -- Eagleton -- is safely back in office whether they like it or not.

On his Tuesday, August 25, 2009, appearance on KFAQ's Pat Campbell Show, Dewey Bartlett Jr denied (sort of, sputteringly) endorsing Kathy Taylor for Mayor over incumbent Republican Mayor Bill LaFortune in 2006, an endorsement that has been reported as fact, without contradiction, by mainstream media outlets several times during this campaign. He also seems to have changed his story on why he endorsed Taylor for re-election this year. His 2009 endorsement of Taylor is undeniable, as his photo and a quote appeared at the top of the Republicans for Kathy website.

Steven Roemerman has the story, and he provides the money quote from a Tulsa World story following Bartlett Jr's campaign announcement:

Even though Taylor -- who has decided not to seek re-election -- is a Democrat, Bartlett [Jr] backed her 2006 mayoral campaign, and she asked him to co-lead an analysis and gather public input before last fall's Fix the Streets package was assembled. He said he would not have run if she had campaigned for a second term.

Bartlett [Jr] said he will not be concerned if people consider him an extension of Taylor's leadership.

With the Kathy Taylor's Borg Cube (aka One Technology Center, aka new City Hall) running a $1.26 million deficit this fiscal year (and a balloon payment looming in just three years, with no nibbles so far on our 1969 City Hall or the other city lands that Taylor's handpicked real estate firm is trying to market), Taylor's leadership isn't looking so hot right now; maybe that's why Bartlett Jr is backing away from Taylor to the degree consistent with documentary evidence.

Roemerman also notes something else funny about the shifting reasons Bartlett Jr is giving for his endorsement:

He endorsed the Democrat before finding out if a solid GOP business man would be running. City Councilor Bill Christiansen wanted to run for mayor and was going to do so until Bartlett [Jr] got in the race and announced he would be spending hundreds of thousands of dollars. This caused Christiansen to balk. Christiansen is a very successful businessman. Why did Bartlett [Jr] have to support Taylor over Christiansen?

Bill Martinson was another potential mayoral candidate who, like Christiansen, has built a successful business, which is something neither Taylor nor Bartlett have done. Why not at least wait until the Republican field was set before endorsing an incumbent Democrat with some bad decisions on her record? Bartlett Jr's answers so far aren't satisfactory, and he seems to know it.

While Taylor worked in the corporate world for a time, her massive wealth was the result of marrying into it, not building it as part of growing a business. Bartlett Jr, from what I've been able to learn, inherited a family business and has managed to keep it going, but so far I can't find anything to indicate that Keener Oil & Gas Co. has grown under his leadership. (I stand ready to be corrected.) In fact, I seem to recall that early in his campaign, his ads referred to him as a successful businessman who knew how to create jobs. On KFAQ, he simply claimed to "have business experience."

I've got more to say on a related topic: The way the massive amount of inherited wealth in Tulsa distorts lifestyles, political arguments, and perceptions of success. Inherited wealth isn't a bad thing per se, and in fact it has kept Tulsa's economy afloat during economic hard times, but the body politic may need some corrective lenses as a result of its abundance here.

July 25, 2009: Hustontown, Pa.

Our arrival was timed so that we could attend the monthly get-together at the Hustontown Volunteer Fire Department, an open stage night where locals gather to play music, to listen to music, and to visit with one another. Refreshments (including homemade pies) are sold to raise money for the fire department.


The house band is led by a longtime volunteer firefighter, and the group accompanies most of the other performers. Our two oldest kids each signed up to play (fiddle and piano, respectively).

I didn't know what kind of music to expect from amateur night in the middle of rural Pennsylvania. I would never have expected it to be the same sort of music you'd hear at such an amateur night in Kentucky or Arkansas or Oklahoma.

Earlier that day, as we drove through southwestern Pennsylvania, my wife and I were struck by the number of Ulster place names we saw. Two vacations (B.C. -- before children) took us to Counties Antrim and Tyrone and Donegal and the cities of Belfast and Derry, partly in search of traces of my Scotch-Irish ancestors. I knew from some of my genealogical reading that many Ulster Scots who came to America in the 1700s entered at Philadelphia and settled inland; first in Lancaster County, then further west into the Alleghenies, and then south into the Shenandoah Valley, the Cumberland Gap, the Holston Valley, and then, in the 1800s and 1900s, westward to places like Texas, Oklahoma, and California's Central Valley. It was easy to see how Scotch-Irish settlers from the glens of Antrim or the Blue Stack Mountains of Donegal would have felt right at home in western and central Pennsylvania.

A couple of weeks ago, Philadelphia-based blogger Skye made this observation on Twitter, as she drove west to Pittsburgh for the Right Online conference:

So, this is alabama in between

I'm not sure what she saw to lead her to that conclusion, but it makes sense. (I was surprised at the number of Confederate battle flags I saw flying around Fulton County. Not a huge number, but more than the number I expected -- zero.)

The culture of northern Alabama and the culture of south central Pennsylvania are bound together by this Ulster Scots heritage, a heritage that is so ubiquitous in America that it is as invisible as the air that we breathe.

I mentioned the music at the open stage night: There was western swing, there was classic country (e.g. Hank Williams), and there was traditional gospel (e.g., "I've Got a Mansion Just over the Hilltop"). The latter style had many in the crowd singing along. The house band included fiddles, a banjo, an accordion, a pedal steel guitar, and a bunch of electric basses and electric and acoustic guitars.


What clinched the connection for me was the opening tune: A couple of choruses of Bennie Moten's "South", recorded in 1928. Moten was a Kansas City native, and his band included the Kid from Red Bank (as Johnny Martin called him) -- Count Basie. The song entered the western swing repertoire via Bob Wills, who used it each night to lead off his dances. Is it just a coincidence that the Hustontown Fire Department house band opened with the same tune over 70 years later?

Here's my oldest son performing a traditional Irish tune called "Tam Lin" and the classic western swing number, "Faded Love." I love the way the band comes in behind him on Tam Lin. There was a bit of a hiccup on a key change in Faded Love, but everyone got on the same page eventually. I'm proud of him being willing to go up in front of a hundred or so strangers and play with a dozen musicians he'd never played with before.

I was proud of my little girl, too. She played her two recital pieces from Barthelmes -- "Snake" and "Relay Race" -- and remembered to take a bow at the end:

The three-year-old was wiped out from the long drive. Here's one of his few moments of alertness and a more typical moment a short while later:


But he was awake for ice cream. After the show, we headed to a local favorite spot -- the Twist and Shake -- which specializes in unusual flavors of soft serve ice cream. That night the special flavors were chocolate marshmallow and peanut butter. Another night they had grape nuts ice cream and teaberry ice cream. (Teaberry tastes just like Pepto-Bismol.)


Back at the house, we caught fireflies for a while before turning in for the next day's big adventure: A ride on a real steam train.

Tulsa Boy Singers, performing at York Minster, June 10, 2007

The Tulsa Boy Singers, a choral group of boys from ages 8 to 18, is holding a special concert Friday night, August 28, 2009, at 7 p.m. The concert has a dual purpose -- to recruit new members and to raise money. Brief auditions for boys interested in singing with TBS will be held immediately after the concert, and following the concert there will be a wine and cheese reception. There will also be a a silent auction -- bidding starts at 6:30, before the concert -- for products and services from great (and generous) local businesses.

Here's some basic info about TBS:

The Tulsa Boy Singers is a community-based, non-profit, nondenominational organization for musically talented boys from 3rd grade through high school. The choir has been serving Tulsa for over 60 years, presenting concerts each Christmas season and each spring, singing at civic events (such as Philbrook's Festival of Trees), weddings, and other occasions.

Hour-and-a-half rehearsals are held each Monday and Thursday at Trinity Episcopal Church in downtown Tulsa. Boys come from all over the metro area and as far away as Wagoner and Ponca City.

As part of their training, the boys go through the Royal Society of Church Music's "Voice for Life" program, which teaches music theory and notation, vocal technique, and musicianship, as well as the personal discipline required to be rehearse and perform as part of a group.

After school is out each summer the choir goes on a brief tour. Recent tours have taken TBS to Texas and around Oklahoma, and in 2007 TBS spent a week performing in the United Kingdom. Each August before school begins, there's a week long camp where the boys learn music for the upcoming season and have time to swim and kayak and enjoy the outdoors.

New singers start out in the Boy Choir, TBS's training choir. When they've developed some basic choral and performance skills, boys can be promoted to the Concert Choir, which brings with it the chance to go on tour and participate in camp.

Funds raised from Friday's auction will go toward scholarships, tour trip costs, camp costs, and overall costs of maintaining the choir.

My oldest son is now in his fifth year with TBS. Although it's a challenge to weave rehearsals into a busy schedule, he enjoys it too much to think of giving it up. Through TBS, he has learned about music, about teamwork, and about poise in front of an audience, giving him skills that are useful far beyond the field of choral music.

I hope you'll attend Friday's concert and learn for yourself what the Tulsa Boy Singers are all about.

MORE: Here are the Tulsa Boy Singers, performing Palestrina's Sicut cervus (Psalm 42:1) at St. Paul's Covent Garden, during their 2007 UK tour.

As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God.

Sometime late Monday morning, a friend called to let me know about the first hour of Pat Campbell's show. I didn't hear it live -- I didn't turn on KFAQ until 7:45, in time to hear the interview with Chris Medlock -- but I listened later in the day. I understand I had an invitation to call in, and if I'd heard it when the show was live, I'd have done so.

As a writer, I take it to heart when it's apparent that I failed to communicate my meaning clearly. In trying to ensure that I cover all my bases and qualify my statements to be as precise as possible, it can happen that the core of my message gets lost in all my words. The blog entry at issue weighs in at more than 1800 words; if I'd had more time to edit, perhaps I could have been more concise.

So here are the highlights of my late Thursday night blog essay, in response to Pat Campbell's comments from Monday, and a few other notes.

1. There is a question mark at the end of the entry's title. This is a headline device often used over an opinion column to indicate that the statement preceding the question mark is being doubted or questioned in the column. When Pat quoted the title on the air, he made the title sound like a statement of fact rather than a question.

2. I supported Pat's point that political advertising on a radio station is not going to sway a talk show host.

3. I estimated how infrequently Pat has dealt with the mayoral election since the filing period, based on the descriptions on the podcast site. I supposed that this might be a cause for dissatisfaction for many listeners.

4. I assumed (wrongly, as it turns out) that Dewey Bartlett Jr. hadn't been on the air since late June because Bartlett Jr. (or his handlers) refused to let him come back on. Pat said that Bartlett isn't ducking KFAQ, but he [Campbell] had been "blowing [Bartlett] off" because he had more important issues to cover last week.

I took a look at the hourly show summaries for last week from the The Pat Campbell Show podcast site. Plenty of important content there, but I could see a number of topics that could well have been deferred in favor of a very timely call-in session with the presumptive front-runner for the Republican nomination for Mayor of Tulsa, with the primary less than three weeks away. Perhaps a candidate in next year's governor's race can wait until we've got the city elections (in two weeks) out of the way.

I am happy to hear that Bartlett will be on the show this morning during the 8 o'clock hour. That hadn't been announced when I posted my blog entry late last Thursday evening. I didn't hear it mentioned on Friday either.

4. I didn't write that divorce should be an automatic disqualifier for a candidate. Here, in part, is what I wrote:

While it's true that divorce and remarriage have become very common in the Christian community, devoutly religious Oklahomans still take marriage vows seriously....

Even someone without a religious faith who has ethical standards will judge a divorced person's character based on the context of the divorce. Someone who dumps the mother of his children for a trophy wife will be judged far more harshly than someone who leaves a drug-addicted spouse who refuses to get help.

I have voted for, volunteered for, and endorsed divorced and remarried candidates, but the context and circumstances of the divorce matter to me and a lot of other voters.

Chris Medlock made the point, during his segment with Pat on Monday, that many voters care whether a candidate is the aggrieved party in a divorce or the aggrieving party. Two lawyers, a conservative Republican who specializes in family law and a liberal Democrat, himself divorced and remarried, took time to let me know they think I'm right about this: The context of a divorce can often tell you something about the character of a person.

I know many people who were divorced against their will, because their spouses wanted their "freedom." Others have divorced reluctantly because their spouses were a danger to them or their children. That's very different from the middle-aged man who says to himself, "Now that I've accumulated a degree of wealth, status, and power, I deserve something better than the old frump who bore my children, so I think I'll trade her in for a sportier model."

It does seem odd that a conservative radio talk show host would argue that as society changes our views of a topic like divorce should change with the times. What other marriage-related moral standards should conservatives abandon because the rest of society has abandoned them?

5. Bartlett Jr's divorce is not the "only thing [I've] got on him," much less the most important thing. In the admittedly long-winded entry in question, I brought up Bartlett Jr's endorsement of Taylor, despite her support for Michael Bloomberg's gun-grabbing mayors' coalition and for local implementation of the Kyoto Treaty. I brought up Bartlett Jr's support for the Great Plains payoff, which ripped off Tulsa taxpayers for the sake of keeping the local big shots who put this rotten deal together out of hot water. I could also have raised his support for making the City Council less representative by replacing three districts with three at-large councilors. Many of Bartlett Jr's political positions over the last few years have been in support of keeping the same incompetent bunch of people in power in this city. I can't think of a single-time in recent years that he has spoken in opposition to unnecessary big-ticket projects or tax increases.

6. KFAQ has played an important role in helping Tulsa voters understand how power works in Tulsa and how to reform the system so that it works for all Tulsans, not just a favored few. I've been involved in local politics continually since 1997 and, before that, off and on since 1988. KFAQ brought issues to the fore that the local powerbrokers would just have soon kept quiet, and it challenged the stream of misinformation coming from the establishment's PR machine. It made networking possible between people with different but related causes and concerns, helping us to build coalitions for reform that would never have happened otherwise.

7. This is an important election. As someone who grew up in this city, I want to have a mayor who applies conservative principles to city government. At the very least, I want the Republican nominee to espouse conservative ideals, even if he falls short in the general election.

Can Bartlett win against Adelson? In the 2004 State Senate 33 race, Bartlett had the best coattails a Republican could hope for. Bush won by 8 percentage points in the district, but Bartlett fell short by 3 percentage points.

8. We didn't lose in 2006 because conservatives criticized Bill LaFortune. We lost because LaFortune turned his back on the conservatives who backed him, and he didn't correct his course and reach out to the grassroots until the final week of the general election campaign. If Republicans don't thoroughly vet our nominee, the Democrats will do it for us after it's too late to make another selection. (Remember Chad Stites?)

Links of interest from around Tulsa and nearby:

Jim Hartz went exploring around the old KOME studios at 8th and Main and took some photos. KOME 1300 was one of Tulsa's five AM stations back in the '50s, and in 1958 it was the station that sent Rocky Frisco, then known as Rocky Curtiss, on a bike ride to Ft. Hood, Texas, to interview Elvis Presley, who was going through Army basic training at the time.

Speaking of Rocky Frisco, he is a candidate for Tulsa City Council District 4 and in September will be inducted into the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame. Here's a very interesting biographical interview with Rocky -- a bit of music, a bit of local history, a bit of politics.)

Natasha Ball went to the Ottawa County Fair and has written a letter of complaint.

Tyson and Jeane Wynn are moving their business, Wynn-Wynn Media, from Claremore back to their hometown of Welch, in Craig County. They've located in a storefront on Main Street. The relocation allows them to be closer to Jeane's parents. It's made possible by the spread of high-speed internet to rural America, so they can pursue their line of work (working with Christian authors) as well from Welch as from anywhere else. (Some of my ancestors -- the Newmans -- spent some time in the vicinity of Welch, and my great-grandparents, Carl Everett and Icy Newman Bates, are buried in the cemetery west of town.)

Tulsa Food Blog visited Shiloh's and loved it. (That bottle of red stuff -- strawberry-rhubarb jam -- try it on your homemade rolls.) Here's Shiloh's website.

Jeff Shaw has pulled ahead of me in the race to retroblog our vacations. He's up to day four in San Antonio. (I'm still stuck at 5 pm on day 3.)

Tulsa TV veteran Lee Woodward has some of his artwork available for view on Flickr.

NMcruiserchick worked for the Peaches Records and Tapes store at 52nd and Sheridan back in 1979-1982, and she has lots of photos to prove it.

David Schuttler notes a survey showing that many airports are concerning themselves with their impact on areas beyond the 65 dB noise level zone. Is Tulsa, he wonders? And David has some beautiful lightning pictures from last week.

Steven Roemerman has some new lyrics with which to scratch the cognitive itch (aka "earworm") known as "Girl from Ipanema."

Be sure to visit Historic Tulsa for more photos and stories of our city's wonderful collection historic buildings.

Earlier today District Judge Jefferson Sellers ruled that an initiative petition seeking a charter amendment to make Tulsa city elections non-partisan is invalid.

The petition, circulated in 2008 by the group Tulsans for Better Government, was challenged by City Councilor John Eagleton on two grounds: That the petitions lacked a warning against false signatures that is required by state law to be on all initiative petitions, and that the number of signatures submitted fell short of the requirement of 25% of the vote in the last general election.

34 O.S. 3 requires (emphasis added):

Each initiative petition and each referendum petition shall be duplicated for the securing of signatures, and each sheet for signatures shall be attached to a copy of the petition. Each copy of the petition and sheets for signatures is hereinafter termed a pamphlet. On the outer page of each pamphlet shall be printed the word "Warning", and underneath this in ten-point type the words, "It is a felony for anyone to sign an initiative or referendum petition with any name other than his own, or knowingly to sign his name more than once for the measure, or to sign such petition when he is not a legal voter". A simple statement of the gist of the proposition shall be printed on the top margin of each signature sheet. Not more than twenty (20) signatures on one sheet on lines provided for the signatures shall be counted. Any signature sheet not in substantial compliance with this act shall be disqualified by the Secretary of State.

Only one of the signature sheets submitted to the Tulsa City Clerk had the copy of the petition attached and that copy lacked the required statutory language. There was no evidence that any of the other pamphlets had a copy of the petition with the required language. Eagleton, in his filing, cited Community Gas and Service Company v. Walbaum, 1965 OK 118 (case citations omitted):

The warning clause is just as essential to guard against and prevent fraud, deception or corruption of the initiative and referendum process as are such other indispensable requirements of the statute as (1) the pre-circulation filing of a copy of the petition required by 34 O.S. 1961 § 8 ; (2) timely post-circulation filing of the petition in compliance with 34 O.S. 1961 § 8 ; and (3) the execution of a circulator's verification prescribed by 34 O.S. 1961 § 6 .

Eagleton's second point, involving the number of signatures, is a bit complicated: City Clerk Mike Kier used the April 1, 2008, voter turnout as the basis for the required number of signatures, which he determined to be 3,427. 12,985 votes were cast for Prop. 1. 13,065 votes were cast for Prop. 2.

Eagleton argued that the last general election at which every voter in the city was allowed to vote was on April 4, 2006. 77,341 votes were cast in the mayor's race, so that an initiative petition would require 19,336 signatures to make it onto the ballot. Only 6,675 valid signatures were submitted by Tulsans for Better Government.


While voters in every precinct could vote on two charter change proposals in 2008, that was a special election; only the voters in five city council districts had a general election. The distinction is backed up by the ballots distributed to voters: If you lived in council districts 1, 2, 5 or 7, your ballot was headed "SPECIAL MUNICIPAL ELECTION" and had only the two propositions. If you lived in districts 3, 4, 6, 8, or 9, your ballot was headed "GENERAL MUNICIPAL ELECTION" and had the city council race followed by the two propositions. (Click on the images above to see a full photographs of the ballots for districts with no council race and for District 3. These photos were taken of the ballots that are stored along with the certified results in the files of the Tulsa County Election Board. Many thanks to Patty Bryant and her great team at the Election Board for their assistance in accessing records of past elections.)

By contrast, on April 4, 2006, every voter in the city received a "GENERAL MUNICIPAL ELECTION" ballot. (Click the image below to see the ballot that was used for voters in council districts 1, 2, 7, and 8, where there was no council general election. There was a general election for mayor and auditor, as well as a special election to decide six charter change propositions.)


Eagleton's arguments won the day. Eagleton's filing in the case cited Neidy v. City of Chickasha, a 2008 Oklahoma Supreme Court case in which the Court ruled that special elections could not be used to determine the number of required signatures. (Emphasis in the original.)

The use of a special election to determine the sufficiency of signatures on a referendum petition offends the Oklahoma Constitution.

What constitutes a qualifying general municipal election was addressed by the Oklahoma Supreme Court in Belisle v. Crist, according to Eagleton's petition:

The Court also determined that a preceding general municipal election in which all voters were not eligible to participate should not be considered, only the last general municipal election where all qualified municipal voters could vote and only qualified municipal voters could vote. (Emphasis added.)

The Tulsa World today, on page A-14, presented a summary of information turned up during background checks of the candidates for Tulsa city offices.

Some of the information had been reported previously -- Eric Gomez serving alcohol to a minor in 1993 and being arrested for public intoxication in 1997; Rick Westcott's tax liens; Paul Tay and his inflatable genitalia; Chris Trail's long list of personal, financial, and legal troubles.

There was some new info, too, in the World's story, but there were also many other cases that the World's story failed to address. (It's easy to miss court cases if you don't think to look for name variations. More about that in a separate entry.) In fact, there's so much additional information that I'm not going to try to cover it all in one entry. So here's part 1.

Bart Rhoades, the challenger in District 2, is currently in bankruptcy (09-11516-R, filed on May 21, 2009).

But the World's story missed some significant court cases involving Rhoades.

My search of the Northern District of Oklahoma Bankruptcy court database revealed two additional bankruptcies -- a Chapter 13 bankruptcy (89-03839-W) filed on December 14, 1989, and a Chapter 7 bankruptcy (90-03200-W) filed on October 22, 1990.

Oddly, the filing in Rhoades' current bankruptcy case shows more assets than liabilities. He has a home (his residence as listed on his candidate filing) valued in the filing at $140,000, with $49,000 listed as the "amount of secured claim." (If I understand it correctly, this is what he owes on the mortgage. He has a firefighter's pension of $14,000 per year; a note on p. 15 says "Debtor owes his ex spouse 50% of his Firefighter pension." He lists $29,442.27 in unsecured claims, including $13,334 in student loans, about $9,500 in credit card debt, $976.11 in medical bills, $2,735.33 related to a lawsuit brought by Gary D. Underwood, and $2,374.63 owed to "paterson realtors." (That amount appears to be the result of this small claims case that Patterson Realtors brought against him in 2007.) His occupation is listed as greenskeeper for "jsj, inc." with an address corresponding to the LaFortune Park golf course.

According to District Court documents available online, Rhoades did not appear for the Patterson lawsuit. A garnishment summons was issued, but according to the bankruptcy filing, he didn't make enough money to have his salary garnished. A case involving Capital One also involved a garnishment summons to the Tulsa County Clerk's office, returned for insufficient earnings. And yet another case, brought by Gary D. Underwood, resulted in a garnishment order to Midfirst Bank. The three lawsuits were brought in 2008, 2007, and 2008 respectively. A 2005 breach of contract suit brought against Rhoades by OU in Cleveland County District Court was settled later the same year.

Rhoades also didn't show up earlier this year when he was sued, along with other defendants, in a case brought in 2007 by Connie K. Harl. Rhoades was charged with violating the Residential Property Condition Disclosure Act. The default judgment against Rhoades was vacated as a result of his bankruptcy.

The online information for that case is incomplete, and if the amount of the judgment was large enough, it may explain why Rhoades filed for bankruptcy instead of selling his house and paying off the debts that he listed.

Rhoades is backed in his campaign by the Firefighters' Union. The union is targeting Rick Westcott because he wanted time to take a closer look at Bill Martinson's budget proposal, which arose from Martinson's analysis of the growth of public safety's share of the city's budget. According to Martinson's analysis, police and fire departments now consume all of the revenue generated by the 2% general fund sales tax. Westcott has also been outspoken about investigating possibly fraudulent claims of EMT and paramedic certifications -- certifications that qualify a firefighter for extra pay. Westcott has also had a target on his back for opposing several of Mayor Kathy Taylor's initiatives and board appointments.

There's an echo here of 2008, when the local establishment recruited an opponent for Jack Henderson to punish him for his effective opposition to the 2007 county river tax increase. His opponent, Emanuel Lewis, had been sued in small claims court for an unpaid medical bill, failed to show up on his court date, and had his wages garnished to pay the bill. From my March 12, 2008, column:

The Lewises failed to appear in court date on Jan. 24, and Judge Charles Hogshead ordered them to pay $868.74 to Tulsa Regional Medical Center, plus attorneys' fees and interest. On Feb. 15, a garnishment affidavit was served on Great Plains Mortgage, Lewis's employer.

Creditors generally go to great lengths to settle unpaid bills before they involve the courts. That someone seeking public office would let an unpaid bill go to court, then fail to appear in court, then fail to pay the judgment, casts serious doubt on the candidate's judgment and personal responsibility.

Likewise, in this year's District 5 race, Bill Martinson, the City Council's number-cruncher, has been targeted for defeat, apparently by forces that would prefer not to have a grown-up on the City Council. Their champion in this race, Chris Trail, moved into the district from outside the city limits on the other side of town just in time (or possibly not) to file for the office, and has a string of legal problems, which the World reported early in the campaign: an arrest on food code violations, a restraining order filed by his wife, tax liens, and a bogus check charge. Nevertheless, Trail has hired a big-time political consultant, Karl Ahlgren, has put out some very professional-looking campaign materials, and had a fundraiser hosted by a Dollar Thrifty executive. When he first sent me a Facebook friends request back in July, his list of about 60 friends included several close associates of Mayor Kathy Taylor.

There seems to be a pattern of financially troubled individuals being recruited to challenge councilors who show too much intelligence and independence.

Westcott has had some financial troubles of his own. He wound up with more taxes than he could afford to pay as the result of his 1998 divorce, and so he initiated a voluntary payment plan with the IRS and the Oklahoma Tax Commission. His state tax debt has been paid in full; he is still paying down his federal debt.

Westcott did the responsible thing and found a way to pay his bills, with interest. Bart Rhoades's three bankruptcies give a different impression.

On Friday, Republican mayoral candidate Chris Medlock challenged Dewey Bartlett Jr. to debate issues one-on-one "anytime, anywhere." Medlock and Bartlett Jr., both former city councilors, appear to be the leading candidates in the race for the Republican nomination for Mayor of Tulsa. From Medlock's press release:

Dewey Bartlett [Jr.] does not mention one issue on his website. Conservative Republican Chris Medlock is the only candidate who has placed a series of videos stating his positions on issues facing the city of Tulsa including fighting crime, fixing our streets, and getting back to the basics of city government. They are available on both his webpage and on a YouTube Channel.

Medlock stated, "If Dewey lacks the confidence to defend his positions on twice endorsing Democrat Kathy Taylor and then voting to give $7.1 million of taxpayer dollars away to Kathy's friends in the Great Plains Airlines Scandal, how can he ever back up his ads that claim that he is a conservative to the Republican Party?"

Medlock continued, "I am dedicated to getting the voters the information they deserve and confident of my knowledge of the critical issues facing our city. That is why I have stated my positions on specific policies facing the city of Tulsa on my web site. And I will contrast my conservative values against his left of center positions anytime, anywhere."

Rather than respond personally or even talk directly to a reporter, Bartlett Jr. sent out a prepared statement, according to a story in the Tulsa World:

But Bartlett, a former city councilor and president of Keener Oil & Gas, indicated in a prepared statement that a debate with Medlock is not needed.

"I've attended two candidate forums, both put on by the Republican Party, where I have publicly delivered my message, defended my platform and debated the issues," he said. "Media was present and reported from both events at the Tulsa Republican Club and the Tulsa Republican Women's Club."

Bartlett Jr. has appeared at two mass forums (the Republican Women's Club was one of them) in which he was either given the questions ahead of time or all candidates were asked exactly the same questions. He has not appeared on talk radio to field questions from the listeners, has not appeared at a forum to take questions directed to him, has not appeared in a debate situation where he could be asked questions by his opponents.

I have been told that Bartlett Jr.'s handlers ask three questions when his presence is requested at a public or media event where questions might be asked:

  1. Will we have the questions ahead of time?
  2. Will the same questions be asked of every candidate?
  3. If we say no, will the event go ahead without Bartlett Jr.?

This is the sort of thing we saw with the river tax and Vision 2025 vote -- the same people running Bartlett Jr.'s campaign ran the vote yes campaign for both elections. They would refuse to send a speaker to an event if the vote no side was to be allowed to participate, and it was a rare media outlet or civic group that refused to be held hostage by the vote yes side.

The Bartlett Jr. campaign's behavior shows that they don't have any confidence in their candidate's ability to answer tough questions. The PR people must think the real Bartlett Jr. is too unappealing and inadequate to risk giving the voters too much direct exposure. Seems to me that if a candidate was getting this kind of advice from his handlers, if he had any guts, any self-respect, he'd ditch his handlers and step up to the debate challenge, not cower behind an image spun out by a PR consultant.

The Oklahoma Channel (Cox Cable Channel 3) is doing a series of eight-minute interviews with the candidates for Tulsa mayor and posting the interviews on YouTube. John Erling asked the following questions of each candidates (my paraphrase) -- most candidates got most of the questions, but there was some variation.

  • Tell us about your professional background.
  • What motivates you to run for mayor?
  • What would you write in a job description for the job of mayor?
  • What skills are most important to be mayor?
  • To complement your strengths and weaknesses, what skills would you seek for your appointed positions?
  • Give us an example from your work background that would apply the role from mayor (management or project leadership).
  • What do you see ahead for the City of Tulsa in the next five years, and how are you planning for that future?
  • What would be the most immediate challenges you would address in your first three months as mayor?
  • What are Tulsa's most important assets?
  • What have been the city's successes in the last four years?
  • What would you say to a CEO considering bringing 600 jobs to Tulsa?
  • Does it make a difference whether a mayor is a Democrat or a Republican?
  • Is it important to have a good working relationship with the Chamber of Commerce?

So far five interviews have been posted:

Nathaniel Booth
Kevin Boggs
Anna Falling
Chris Medlock
John Todd

I was listening to the Pat Campbell Show on 1170 KFAQ this morning. He spent about four minutes at the end of the 7 a.m. hour talking about people who think he's "in the bag" for Dewey Bartlett, Jr., the candidate for mayor who endorsed incumbent Democrat Kathy Taylor for election in 2006 and for re-election this year, before she dropped out of the race. Campbell poked fun at the notion that the number of ads purchased by the Bartlett campaign on the station would influence his choice for mayor. As he correctly pointed out, he doesn't have anything to do with any ads other than those that carry his endorsement. (Here's a direct link to Pat Campbell's 7 a.m. hour for August 20, 2009. The clip in question begins at 28:53 and runs to the end.)

I suspect that most people who are dissatisfied with Campbell's coverage of the city election understand that he has no control over the ads. In fact, as I understand it, broadcast stations have to offer their lowest rate to political candidates, displacing more lucrative ads for, say, a bank or a retail establishment. I doubt that political ads are highly coveted by broadcast stations.

The dissatisfaction I think has more to do with the relative scarcity of coverage of the city elections as compared to KFAQ's morning show in years past. Looking back over his online archives since the filing period, I see 12 hours with some reference to the Republican mayoral primary out of 71 hours online that involved Campbell, which means, on average, he talked about the race once every other day. Possibly skewing the stats: Campbell took a week off, some hours are missing from the archive, and it may be that mayoral politics came up in an hour, but it wasn't noted in the archive description.

Of those 12 hours, two involved Anna Falling's publicity event involving the proposed creation exhibit at the zoo. In two of the 12 hours, the mayoral discussion involved interviews with candidates with very little support. For two of the 12 hours, Campbell was schooled by his listeners on the significance of Bartlett's praise and TAIT board vote for the Great Plains Airlines giveaway after he downplayed its importance. Another hour was spent with Terry Simonson, who has endorsed Bartlett and who is the spokesman for the Tulsa County Commission.

There's some silly speculation that Campbell is taking it easy on Bartlett because he hopes to have him on as a guest if he wins the mayor's race. I give Pat more credit than that. Pat Campbell has been around long enough to understand that if someone won't come on your show when he's a candidate, when he has the strongest incentive to reach out to your listeners, he certainly won't bother once he's safely in office.

Bartlett hasn't been on KFAQ since June 29. Toward end of that interview (about 14:20 into the podcast of Pat Campbell's June 29, 2009, 8 a.m. hour), Bartlett's first and only appearance on the station as a candidate, Campbell complained about Kathy Taylor's ongoing refusal to come on his program and expressed hope that Bartlett would be back. Bartlett gave his word -- starting at 15:50 -- that he would give Campbell the accessibility that he seeks. And at the very end of the interview (about 20:00 in), Campbell said, "Let's get you back again soon. Maybe next time around we'll throw open the phones, take some calls as well." Bartlett's reply: "Pat, it's been a real treat to get to know you, get to know your listeners, and I guarantee I'll be back."

Bartlett hasn't been back, and it's surprising that Campbell hasn't called him out on breaking his promise. In years past, KFAQ listeners were accustomed to hearing the morning host challenge a politician who was avoiding the show and dodging tough questions. Campbell has often denounced the practices of his predecessors -- he did again during his interview with Bartlett -- but many Tulsa voters appreciated having someone in a position of influence using that platform to hold politicians to account for their words and deeds. It's why KFAQ's morning show surpassed the erstwhile king of the morning airwaves.

Courtesy and civility are much to be desired, but slavishly seeking them at the expense of truth and transparency can turn you into an enabler of evasive politicians, even if you don't intend that result.

A question for Mr. Campbell: You say that politicians avoided KFAQ because your predecessors were discourteous to them. You've been as nice as you can be to Dewey Bartlett, Jr., so why is he avoiding your program? Is it possible the pols who wouldn't come on the air with your predecessors were really just trying to avoid accountability? Is it possible that Dewey Bartlett, Jr., is doing the same thing?

There are a lot of tough questions that Bartlett seems to be avoiding.

Bartlett voted and spoke in support of Mayor Kathy Taylor's scheme to put Tulsa taxpayers on the hook for paying Bank of Oklahoma $7.1 million that the City of Tulsa did not owe. Back when Mayor Bill LaFortune tried the same thing, Chris Medlock was part of a coalition of city councilors that blocked his efforts, despite persistent wooing of the councilors by BOk officials.

Bartlett not only endorsed Democrat Kathy Taylor for election in 2006, he endorsed her for re-election this year, despite her heavy-handed, non-collaborative leadership style and her unilaterally putting the City of Tulsa on the record against gun rights and in support of climate junk science. Taylor joined New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's mayors' coalition that sought to eliminate the Tiahrt Amendment and to boost lawsuits against gun manufacturers. I'm sure that Pat Campbell, a fervent supporter of the Second Amendment, understands the chilling effect of those efforts. Taylor also pledged that Tulsa city government would implement the provisions of the Kyoto Treaty, an extreme economy-killing document that not even Bill Clinton tried to ratify.

Why would Bartlett, who claims to be a conservative Republican, endorse the re-election of a mayor that put Tulsa's name on the line in support of such left wing causes? Even if a radio talk show host isn't moved by local issues, these are national issues that speak to a candidate's ideology and character. If you don't like the mushy moderate RINOs in the U. S. Senate, wouldn't it bug you to death that the GOP standard-bearer for mayor of your city might be cut from the same cloth?

An exchange between Pat Campbell and a caller to the program last week may also have fueled the "in the bag" speculation. In the third hour of the August 13 show (starting at 22:57), Joe Conner raised the issue of family values, complaining that Bartlett is representing himself as a strong family man despite his divorce and remarriage: "Bartlett is pushing family values, but yet he's a divorced man." In response, Campbell loudly made light of the issue, saying that we have pastors in town who have divorced and remarried and suggesting that any concerns about a candidate's marital history belong to 1955, not 2009. ("Do you have a calendar, Joe?") After quickly cutting Conner off, Campbell asked his producer to "clue me in [about callers], say 'East of the Rockies, East of the Rockies,'" an allusion to Art Bell's "Coast to Coast AM," an overnight radio talk show devoted to X Files-type material. The implication was that Conner must be wearing a tinfoil hat to want to talk about Dewey Bartlett's divorce.

While it's true that divorce and remarriage have become very common in the Christian community, devoutly religious Oklahomans still take marriage vows seriously. The Roman Catholic Church, of which Pat Campbell and Joe Conner are both adherents and in which Dewey Bartlett, Jr., was raised, regards marriage as permanent and indissoluble, and those who divorce and remarry are forbidden to receive communion. (See this discussion on the website of the Diocese of Lincoln, Neb. Protestants who take a less sacramental view of the Lord's Supper may not appreciate the eternal implications of excommunication for a Catholic.) Many evangelical churches will exclude divorced men from leadership. In the conservative Presbyterian Church in America, only adultery, abuse, and abandonment are considered valid scriptural grounds for divorce, and in the PCA congregation to which I belong, members who have abandoned their families for a new relationship have been excommunicated and leaders in that situation have been kicked out of office and excommunicated.

Even someone without a religious faith who has ethical standards will judge a divorced person's character based on the context of the divorce. Someone who dumps the mother of his children for a trophy wife will be judged far more harshly than someone who leaves a drug-addicted spouse who refuses to get help.

I have voted for, volunteered for, and endorsed divorced and remarried candidates, but the context and circumstances of the divorce matter to me and a lot of other voters. It says something positive about a candidate if his ex-wife endorses him enthusiastically. On the other hand, in the 2004 Illinois Senate race, voters abandoned Barack Obama's leading Democratic primary rival, Blair Hull, and the Republican nominee, Jack Ryan, because of their ex-wives' sworn testimony about their character and conduct. And I will never again support Newt Gingrich for public office because of his acknowledged pattern of sleeping with wife N+1 while still married to wife N.

Dismissing and ridiculing the divorce issue as loudly as he did undoubtedly gave some listeners the impression that Pat Campbell was trying to protect Bartlett from potential political damage.

Over the years, KFAQ listeners have come to expect in-depth, serious discussion of local issues, grounded in a clear moral sense of right and wrong, and pointing toward effective action -- "standing up for what's right." What they're hoping for, I believe, is a strong daily focus on Tulsa's city elections, particularly the race for mayor in our strong-mayor form of government, a thorough examination of the records of the leading candidates, and a chance to confront the leading candidates with tough questions.

About a year ago, during the Tulsa County Commission District 2 Republican primary race between incumbent Randi Miller and challenger Sally Bell, Pat Campbell rightfully chided me for predicting that Miller wouldn't show up to a debate with Bell. She did, and Campbell did a fine job of conducting a debate between the two. If he would arrange a head-to-head debate and challenge the two* leading Republican mayoral candidates to participate, it would give KFAQ listeners (current and former) the kind of substance they're seeking, it would demolish any suspicion that the station or the host is trying to protect Bartlett from scrutiny, and it would make for some lively and fascinating radio.

*NOTE: I will provide my rationale for this conclusion in a later post, but it's my sense that of the Republican primary contenders only Bartlett and Medlock have built a support base beyond immediate family and close friends.

Day 3: July 25, 2009, Columbus, Ohio, to Hustontown, Pa., via I-70 and I-76, 320.9 mi., 6:41 en route.


The third day of driving included a swing through historic Zanesville, Ohio, and across its unusual Y bridge and a stop at Wheeling, W. Va.'s Italian Festival on the Ohio River waterfront. Click the "read more" link to read all about it (and see some pictures, too).

Remembering Bob Novak

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Robert Novak of the Evans and Novak Political Report, who spent over a half-century covering Washington politics and became a star of television debate shows like the McLaughlin Group, Crossfire, and Capitol Gang, died yesterday after a year-long battle with brain cancer.

Novak was a fascinating character. He was not a standard-issue conservative Republican. He moved rightward on social and economic issues, but he never was a party loyalist. He was friendly enough with Washington pols that they fed him all sorts of insider information, but he never succumbed to the Beltway mentality.

I almost met him once. He was sitting several chairs to my right at the 2004 Republican platform committee meeting. I wrote at the time, "I thought about asking for an autograph or taking a picture, but there's something unseemly about treating a working journalist like a celeb."

Here are several profiles and tributes worth reading:

In his September 5, 2008, column, Novak wrote about the accident that led to the discovery of the tumor, his surgery and treatment, and the many political friends and adversaries who provided advice, aid, and encouragement.

Excerpts from several tributes about only-childhood as a source of confidence, his political heroes, his impact on Cold War politics, and his character, after the jump.

If you're a candidate for city office or a staffer or volunteer for said candidate, you probably shouldn't sacrifice one of your last three Saturdays before the primary for this, but if you're looking at running in a future election or helping someone who will be running....

American Majority will hold a Candidate Training Seminar at the Tulsa Select Hotel (the old Hilton/Holiday Inn Select) at I-44 and Yale this Saturday, August 22, 2009, in the Navajo Room. Registration begins at 9 a.m., and the seminar will conclude at 5:15 p.m. The price is $40 per candidate and $20 for each additional staff or family member.

The seminar will include 1-on-1 media training and lectures by Chris Faulkner of Faulkner Strategies, a nationally renowned political consulting firm that works with candidates and organizations here in the United States and globally in such places as Indonesia, Venezuela, and Canada.

To RSVP, phone 405-605-6338 or follow this link to register online.

Some Tulsa State Fair history: Chris Miyata has posted a set of photos and scans of the Tulsa County Fairgrounds in the mid-1960s. There are photos of the IPE Building (now the QuikTrip Center) at the Tulsa State Fairgrounds and scans from a 1964 booklet highlighting 15 years of improvements to the Tulsa State Fair. The highlight is a stunning aerial color photo of the IPE Building near completion, with a very small Bell's Amusement Park to the west. Look for the Bell's giant globe, the water towers, and the KELi satellite.

Day 2: July 24, 2009, Pacific, Mo. to Columbus, Ohio, via I-44 and I-70, 479.9 mi., 11:30 en route (plus one hour lost to the time change).

11 a.m. was a later start than I'd hoped for, but it was much better than the day before. We sailed through St. Louis without a snarl. The kids were under a no-books, no-DS order until we passed through the city so that they might actually pay attention to what we were driving past. Interest was expressed in going up in the Gateway Arch, but we were too far behind schedule for that to work; we'd try to fit it in on the return trip. I made sure to call their attention to the Eads Bridge, the Mississippi River, and the near-ruin that is downtown East St. Louis. The oldest boy noticed a tall building that no longer had tenants or even windows: "You can see all the way through it!"

We hit construction delays as we approached the point where I-70 and I-55 split, so I opted to drive a while on US 40. That two-lane road was backed up by what looked to be a serious accident. I gave up after about 10 minutes, confessed to my bad call, turned around (traffic was stopped in both directions) and headed back to the jammed interstate. But before we reached the on-ramp, I spotted a streetsign for "Old National Rd." The old highway led us through the village of Troy, Ill., then back to US 40, which we followed through the town of Highland, settled, according to a book I have on the National Road, by Swiss immigrants; the influence was apparent in some of the town's older buildings.

The current alignment of US 40 doesn't go through Highland, but bypasses it. Having missed the spot where the older alignment splits off to go through the main part of town, we turned south on Poplar, following the signs for the business district. I took a guess, based on years of experience following old highway alignments, about which street would take us east out of town on old US 40. After a few blocks it appeared that my guess was wrong, so I pulled into a subdivision, consulted Google Maps on my Treo, and, correctly oriented, got us back on track. Our path back to new US 40 and I-70 took us past a farmhouse with beautifully decorated shutters, spangled with stars in what we guessed was a traditional Swiss immigrant pattern. (Didn't get a picture, sadly.)

As we were nearing three hours on the road and people were complaining about hunger, I decided that we would stop at the Vandalia McDonald's. It had a Playplace, which would give the two younger kids a chance to burn off some energy, and wifi, which would let me get a couple of tasks handled while the kids played. Before the trip, I'd used McDonald's travel planner to find all the locations on our route with a Playplace and wireless internet, and massaged the data into a spreadsheet (a Perl script was involved), which I printed out and put in a binder along with our AAA online Triptik.

Chillin' with Ronald McDonald

Although we often bought sandwiches out, we'd get water and no fries (or maybe one order to share), and make use of our stock of sodas, Vitamin Water, and snacks in the car.

From there, we headed into Vandalia for a visit to the old Illinois State House, which served as the state capitol from 1834-1837 and was the place where Abraham Lincoln first served as an elected official. Foreshadowing the construction of new stadiums to keep the pro sports franchise happy, it was built at local expense in hopes that the legislature would not relocate to another city. (Nevertheless, Lincoln and other upstate legislators made Springfield the capital just three years later.) The rooms had been restored to appear as they would have in the 1830s, with wood-burning stoves for heat and standing desks.

The docent told us a story about the State Auditor's office. When the state offered a bounty for wolves, a hunter had to bring the wolf's scalp to the Auditor in exchange for a voucher, which he then could take to the local bank to receive payment. To prevent someone claiming the bounty more than once for the same wolf, the Auditor kept all the wolf scalps in an ever-growing pile in his office.

Madonna of the Trail, Vandalia, Ill.We paid a visit to the Madonna of the Trail statue on the southwest corner of the State House grounds, marking the western terminus of the National Road. The Daughters of the American Revolution placed 12 of these statues, honoring pioneer mothers, along the National Old Trail Road from Bethesda, Md., to Upland, Calif. (The statues are roughly contemporaneous with E. W. Marland's competition for the design of a Pioneer Woman monument in Ponca City, Okla.)

Across the street from the State House is a pocket park devoted to Abraham Lincoln, with a statue of Lincoln seated, reading the newspaper. There is a display telling the story of Lincoln's odd proposal of marriage to a woman he didn't love and how devastated he was when she turned him down.


Back on the road after our two hours in Vandalia, we stopped for gas in Terre Haute (my original goal for Day 1's overnight stop) at about 5, then picked up a half-dozen sliders at White Castle for a snack. Reviews were mixed: The grownups liked them; the kids, not so much. We zipped through Indiana, passing through Indianapolis (and marveling at the enormous Lucas Oil Stadium), and taking a break at the Greenfield rest area, which had a pretty wetlands and wildflower area to walk along.

My wife picked up a hotel coupon booklet (RoomSaver) at the rest area, and as I drove she combed through it looking for a good deal along our route. I had hoped to make Zanesville, but the rooms there were scarce and surprisingly pricey. She found a coupon for a Hawthorn Suites on the north side of Columbus. It would take us out of our way, but at $50 it seemed like the best deal. I made the final calls from a gas station just east of the Ohio border, where we stopped for yet one more potty break and to take care of a nasty diaper. (This was an old fashioned convenience store with outside-entrance restrooms and no convenient changing table. Had to change him on the floor with the diaper bag as a pillow. Yuck.)

The kids watched The Return of the Pink Panther for a while, then everyone (except me) fell asleep. We wound our way to the Hawthorn Suites Columbus North, arriving about 11:30 Eastern Time.

Without a doubt, this was the tattiest place we stayed on the trip. It was a converted Residence Inn. The room was large and had a full kitchen, but it was musty, the cabinets had some missing veneer, and there was a big crack across the full-length mirror. It could use some refurbishment, and I was a little surprised that the place met Hawthorn's franchise standards. Nevertheless, we managed to get settled, with the grownups on the double bed, the girl on the fold-out couch, and the two boys on sleeping bags on the floor.

The next morning, the breakfast made up for any deficiencies in the room. Fresh biscuits with real sausage gravy with visible chunks of sausage, and freshly cooked scrambled eggs, along with the usual continental breakfast stuff and the make-your-own waffles. Without a doubt it was the best hotel breakfast of the entire trip. I checked out the breakfast while the rest of the family showered, then we swapped: They ate while I fixed peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for later in the day and got the car packed. We hit the road for Day 3 at 9:22 a.m.

Please join me in wishing a happy belated birthday to Brandon Dutcher, vice president for policy for the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, whose birthday was Sunday, August 16. OCPA is Oklahoma's version of the Heritage Foundation, offering effective free-market approaches for solving Oklahoma's challenges.

Probably the best way to honor Brandon on his birthday is for you to pay a visit to the OCPA website and see for yourself the great work that this organization does. (And consider joining!) Or check out his latest entries on Choice Remarks, the blog of Oklahomans for School Choice, such as this essay by former U. S. Secretary of Education Chester Finn, explaining how school choice can work in rural Oklahoma.

Many happy returns of the day, Brandon!

Republican voters are being overwhelmed with automated polling calls about the Tulsa mayor's race, according to complaints received by the Tulsa County Republican headquarters. Who is responsible? Chris Medlock says it isn't his campaign:

Former two term City Councilman and Conservative Radio Talk Show Host Chris Medlock states that neither he, his campaign, or any person or firm associated with his campaign is running the annoying computer calls to Republican voters in Tulsa. For the past three weeks voters of Tulsa have been complaining to the Medlock for Mayor campaign, as well as the Tulsa Republican Party, about receiving up to ten calls a day, every day, from a computer asking who they will be voting for in the Republican Party primary for Mayor on September 8. Voters are given four choices including Dewey Bartlett, Jr. and Chris Medlock.

Medlock stated, "Tulsa Republican voters are justifiably angry at the annoying and repetitive use of Robo-Polling. One of my Republican opponents has spent at least $30,000 with out-of-state paid consultants which irritate voters. They should do like my campaign and rely on volunteers from right here in Tulsa County to get their message out. The harassment of Republican voters by one campaign can only hurt our party's image, and as the unquestionable conservative Republican in this race I will defend their right to privacy."

I'm told that the other two candidates mentioned in the poll are Anna Falling and Norris Streetman. Dewey Bartlett, Jr., is likely the only candidate with the money to fund such frequent and persistent polling, but you'd think he could afford better advice on when and how often to poll. Perhaps the intent is to run an ongoing tracking poll.

I'm hoping that some polling firm will run a poll and release the results to the public. Without a runoff, it's going to be very important for voters to know which candidates actually stand a chance of winning. Maybe I'll run my own poll.


Tulsa County Republican Party chairman Sally Bell is very upset at the robo-polling and wants everyone to know that the county party is NOT doing the polling and that she is doing everything she can to find out who is responsible and to put a stop to it.

A friend who is one of the frequently robo-polled victims says the calls are coming from Columbus, Ohio.

A knowledgeable reader suggests that this is not a true poll, but a voter ID program -- an attempt to survey as many likely Republican voters as possible to determine which voter is supporting which candidate. Assuming that the calls are coming from the Bartlett campaign, what happens next depends on the answer you give:

Those who say they are voting for Bartlett will not be contacted again by the campaign unless it is for voter turnout. Maybe they will get a call about absentee voting, but more likely, they will be called the Monday before the election and asked if they need a ride to go to the polls.

Medlock/Falling/Streetman voters will get mail negative about their candidate of choice.

Undecided voters will get mail positive about Bartlett and will be continually recalled until they commit. And, if the campaign gets desperate enough, they will get negative mail about Medlock.

This reader suggests one other possibility: Likely Democratic nominee Tom Adelson is doing voter ID so that he can reach out to the losing candidates' supporters after the primary. I could see doing one such survey for such a purpose, but not surveying so many people so often for that reason.

As annoying as these calls are, I'd encourage you to say that you're undecided, and then email me at blog at batesline dot com, and let me know what kind of phone calls and mailers you're receiving from the campaigns.

As a general rule, I'd like to know as soon as you get any sort of contact from any of the campaigns or receive a poll or survey call in a hotly-contested race. Don't worry about pestering me, just email me at blog at batesline dot com. One friend who has worked on campaigns in the past takes detailed notes when a pollster calls and then sends them along to me. As a political nerd, I love that, and it helps me get a clearer picture of the state of the race.

A different kind of candidate forum will take place tomorrow night on the eastern edge of downtown Tulsa.

KRMG, Urban Tulsa Weekly, Marshall Brewing Company, and TYpros are sponsoring a "Beer Summit & Political Mixer" from 5:30 to 7:30 on Tuesday, August 18, 2009, at the Fly Trap Music Hall, 2nd and Greenwood (514 E. 2nd St.). From the story in this week's UTW:

"I think it's an event for people of all ages to come out and learn about the candidates," said Drew Anderssen, KRMG's operations manager and program director.

Anderssen acknowledged the difficulty his own station has had in providing enough air time to adequately present the views of so many candidates, and he said an event of this nature would provide concerned voters with the chance to hear from candidates on a one-to-one basis.

"I think that's really the goal," he said. "When you have only so many pieces of the pie, it's tough. That's what this event is all about. And we're counting on Tulsans of all ages to come out and support it."

Anderssen said KRMG's morning news team of Joe Kelley, Rick Couri and Dan Potter will introduce the candidates at the event, but he anticipates an informal arrangement from that point on, with audience members quizzing the candidates.

"It's an informal way for people to come out after work and enjoy happy hour and meet the people who are vying for votes," he said.

While I don't think this can substitute for, say, a real debate between the leading candidates in the Republican mayoral primary, it should be an informative and fun evening. It will be interesting to see which candidates risk having a couple of beers (and how they react to those beers) and which stick to Diet Coke.

KWGS-FM 89.5 will air a debate between the candidates for Tulsa City Council, District 8, tomorrow, Tuesday, August 18, 2009, at 11:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. on Studio Tulsa, the station's daily public affairs program.

This is an interesting race: Incumbent Bill Christiansen, first elected in 2002, is seeking a fifth term. He has two challengers, both serious: Phil Lakin, the head of the Tulsa Community Foundation and a trustee of the George Kaiser Family Foundation, and Scott Grizzle, the president of the executive board of TulsaNow. No Democrat filed, so the winner of the primary will be elected to the City Council.

The debate is sponsored by the Downtown Tulsa Kiwanis Club and will be recorded today at 12:30 as part of the club's weekly luncheon at First Methodist Church. News director John Durkee will moderate the debate.

Conservative weekly newspaper the Tulsa Beacon has endorsed Chris Medlock for Mayor of Tulsa. The editorial in the August 13, 2009, edition has positive things to say about three of Medlock's rivals for the Republican nomination -- Anna Falling, David O'Connor, and Kevin Boggs, but urges conservative Republican voters to unite behind the conservative candidate with the best chance of winning the primary and general elections, so as not to split the conservative vote and allow a non-conservative to prevail with less than a majority.

It's a shame that Medlock, Falling, O'Connor and Boggs couldn't pick a candidate and put their combined support behind him or her. That didn't happen and the result was the splintering of conservative support. The beneficiary has to be Bartlett, who, if he wins the primary, will be beaten by Adelson for a second time (Sen. Adelson beat him in a race in 2004).

The Tulsa Beacon could endorse Medlock, Falling, O'Connor or Boggs. They are all fine candidates.
We do endorse Chris Medlock.

Medlock has a record of standing up for what is right. He will resist the "shadow government" and confront the liberal media. He has experience in how government runs and he is a fiscal conservative.

He has the best chance of emerging from the primary with a win over Bartlett and is the best hope to defeat Adelson.

We recommend that you vote for Chris Medlock on Sept. 8.

Regarding Bartlett, the Beacon editorial says:

Conservative Republicans can easily mark Dewey Bartlett, Jr., off their list. He is a liberal big spender (he promoted a $2 billion tax increase) and he was an outspoken supporter of Mayor Kathy Taylor, perhaps the most liberal mayor in Tulsa history. Taylor named Bartlett to the airport trust, where he faithfully did her bidding by voting to give the Bank of Oklahoma $7.1 million in a settlement over Great Plains Airlines.

If he were an honest politician, Bartlett would switch parties and run as a Democrat.

The problem with this winner-take-all primary is that conservatives have several good candidates that might split the vote while Bartlett will get all the liberal, country club Republican votes from Midtown/Downtown.

MORE: The Medlock for Mayor website has been relaunched, including a new issues page with a series of short YouTube videos setting out Chris Medlock's positions on crime, downtown, taxation, regionalism, the city budget, eminent domain, and government transparency, among other issues.

In a recent blog post, Steven Roemerman scrutinizes mayoral candidate Dewey Bartlett Jr.'s claim that business experience is an important qualification for running for mayor. Bartlett cited Mayor Kathy Taylor's business experience as the motivation for his endorsement of her (presumably referring both to his 2006 endorsement and Dewey Bartlett's 2009 endorsement of Kathy Taylor).

Roemerman cites three reasons why running a city government is and should be nothing like running a business. A city's purpose is not profit but providing services for the citizens; the CEO's power is deliberately limited, balanced by the City Council; and a city doesn't have stockholders with varying percentages of ownership, but citizens with (what should be) an equal voice. He writes that Taylor's "business-like" approach to decision making has caused some problems:

Tulsa is NOT a business. The Mayor's power is balanced by the council. They are elected to their position the same as the mayor and are due respect. We have seen what happens when the Mayor pretends to be the CEO of the city. Kathy Taylor rules in a way that keeps the council in the dark; forcing their hand without adequate time to weigh an issue. We have seen this with the 7.1 million dollar pay out to BOK to settle the Great Planes Airlines issue and with the Ball Park assessment district. She expects, much the way a CEO might, that when she sets a course everyone will fall in line without question. Presumably since Bartlett seems to be in love with Kathy Taylor's style, and thinks that the City should be run like a corporation, he will rule in much the same way.

Steven makes a good point, but beyond that, I'm not sure how applicable small business experience is to running City Hall. While it's certainly valuable to have an understanding of the challenges faced by small business, the management skills required to oversee the work of 4,000 employees (about the number that work for the City of Tulsa) are a couple of orders of magnitude more complex than running a small business with about 10 employees. In searching online news archives, 10 is the biggest number that I've seen cited as the number of employees of Keener Oil, the company founded by the junior Bartlett's grandfather. The company's website currently lists eight employees, plus, on the associates and relationships page, three attorneys, a CPA, a geologist, a bank, and an insurance company. While small businesses of this size are the backbone of our economy, I don't think that running a business of this size really gives you a leg up when it comes to overseeing a city bureaucracy.

(Another way the city isn't like a business: In Oklahoma, employees of private companies serve at will and can be fired for any reason. Nearly all city employees, including most of the heads of departments, are protected by civil service.)

For his part, Steven Roemerman thinks that Chris Medlock's recent service on the City Council gives him the most recent, relevant experience to prepare him to serve as mayor:

Chris has the experience necessary for this job. As a two term city councilor, he understands the budget process; he has had to deal with the problems with a city in economic turmoil, with furloughs, and budget problems. As a talk show host on the radio, Chris's job was to listen to, and understand our needs and feelings. The Chris Medlock show was an opportunity for us to partner with him to keep the politicians at Tulsa City Hall accountable for their actions. He gave us a voice, and he wants to do it again as Tulsa's Mayor.

MORE: Roemerman asks Chris Medlock campaign volunteers why they're supporting him for Mayor of Tulsa.

Vacation 2009: Day 1

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Day 1: Tulsa, Okla. to Pacific, Mo. via I-44, 367.0 mi., 6:20 en route.

We didn't leave until 7 pm.

The plan had been to pack our bags the day before and take care of final errands and packing the morning of, while the minivan was at Cartec for some minor surgery. (The dealership, we believe, had stripped the threads on the bolt that holds the oil pan. Jiffy Lube discovered the problem and installed a temporary fix. We didn't think we should drive more than 3,000 miles on a temporary fix.)

I hoped to make Terre Haute. Then I hoped to make Effingham. I was reconciled to a stop in Vandalia, and by the time we left, I decided I'd be thrilled to make it to St. Louis, which we did.

It always takes us longer than planned to get packed. The challenge is not getting the bags in the car; it's deciding what goes into the bags. My wife thinks and rethinks, wanting to be sure we don't leave anything behind that we might possibly want or need at some point. Plus she was trying to put all that we'd need for the first two nights on the road -- clothes, toiletries, medicine -- into three bags, so even once she'd decided to take something, she still had to figure where it should go.

Only after all the bags are zipped up can I solve the three-dimensional puzzle of fitting them in the car. This did not occur until about 5 pm. I quickly realized that the large rolling suitcase I had packed was simply not going to fit, so in the driveway I swapped the essential contents (clothes) to a roll-aboard suitcase and left the rest (books, mainly) in the bedroom or stowed them in other bags that were going in the car. In the end we had 8 smallish, mostly squishable bags, 2 larger bags, a laptop backpack, and a rolling laptop case. That was just in the back. On top of that we had two sleeping bags and three pillows. Two more big pillows and a small pillow plus three fleece blankets were in the main compartment for the kids' comfort.

The minivan also contained a violin case under the back seat, a large cooler in place of the left middle seat, a rolling hanging file box between the cooler and the driver's seat (containing non-perishable snacks, umbrellas, and travel activities), rolling backpacks for each of the two older kids (normally used or school) containing their travel activities, a small backpack to hold maps and to keep a few cold cans of pop handy up front, two small camera bags, two sets of juggling sticks, a diabolo, two portable DVD players. Around my wife's feet was another bag stuffed with travel activities and books the kids might want to read, plus her purse and at least two canvas tote bags filled with I'm not sure what. The biggest son sat in the right middle seat. The smallest son in his car seat immediately behind, with big sister to his left on her booster and yet another box of toys and amusements (including his Leapster) between them. Big son's job was to pass things between mom and the back seat and was pretty attentive and helpful as long as he didn't have his nose in a book or his Nintendo DS.

S3011572I took these pictures as we unpacked at our first destination, my wife's aunt and uncle's house in Hustontown, Pa. They came in handy five days later when we packed to leave, as I couldn't remember how I'd made everything fit. You can't see the large rolling suitcase behind the two small roll-aboards or the tennis bag at the bottom filled with swim stuff -- suits, sunscreen, goggles, inflatable lily pad. You can barely see the soft-sided light blue suitcase behind the sunshade.S3011571

The other problem that always slows our departure is the urge to get certain tasks done before leaving for two-and-a-half weeks, as if we hadn't already been putting them off for at least twice that long. I spent valuable time the night before departure trying to synchronize our digital photos between the laptop and the home computer. (I never did find a way in Perl to get the size or date of a file in Windows. I wound up running a "find . -depth -exec ls -lR {} \;" command in Cygwin on both computers, then writing a Perl script to parse the output and compare the contents of the two drives, then manually copying folders from one to the other. One vexing problem was Windows XP thinking that the high-speed USB ports on the laptop weren't, slowing file copy speed by a factor of 320.)

My watch battery was dying and the case for my Treo was falling apart, so at 1 p.m., when the car was ready, I walked over to pick it up, paid for it, then drove to Promenade to get a new case and a new watch battery. My wife had me pick up some Arby's sandwiches for a late lunch. I bought enough so we had the leftovers for dinner as we were getting on the road.

Finally, around 6:30, we did the positively final uses of the potty, then I chased everyone out, did my obsessive checks of locks and windows, set the alarm, said a prayer over the house, and got in the car. I asked our three-year-old to say a prayer for a safe trip, and at 6:53 p.m. off we went....

... to the branch library to drop off all the books that were checked out.

At 7 we were truly underway. We made a pitstop at 9:30 at the Quik Trip -- a final outpost of civilization -- on the Kansas Expressway in Springfield. I made some phone calls to book a room on the outskirts of St. Louis, everyone used the bathroom, little bit got a clean diaper, we bought a bismarck, donut holes, and a cheap 32 oz. soda. We set up the DVD player for viewing. My wife and almost-13-year-old son rigged up a kids' car desk that could hang on the back of my seat, reinforced it with long strips of velcro and ribbon, and that became the platform for the portable DVD player. The player plugged into a power strip which plugged into an inverter which plugged into what we used to call a lighter socket.

That pitstop took about 45 minutes.

We made another "brief" stop (about 30 minutes) for gas at about 11:30, in St. Robert. At the first station we tried, a voice over the intercom informed us that there were doing the daily closing and it would be 20 minutes before we could purchase gasoline, but we'd be welcome to wait. No thanks, I replied. Off to another station, where we bought gas, used the restroom, dispensed night time medicine, and turned on the inverter so that it would actually power the DVD player. The kids watched Finding Nemo and at length all fell asleep. About 30 miles west of our hotel, we hit thick fog, which (so I was told by the desk clerk) is fairly common. At 1:20 we pulled up to the Comfort Inn's front door. Everyone was settled by about 2 -- mom and sister in one bed, dad and big brother in the other, three-year-old on his sleeping bag -- except for me, still wound up from the drive, checking e-mail and posting a couple of blog entries.

Next morning, we were up at about 8. We had the hotel's "hot" breakfast (starchy stuff, make-your-own waffles, and thawed and nuked egg patties) along with a Baptist middle school youth group. We let the kids wrestle around as we got packed and then hit the road for day 2 at 11:00 a.m.


On Tuesday, the Republican Women's Club of Tulsa County hosted a mayoral candidate forum. Six GOP candidates were in attendance: Dewey Bartlett, Jr., Chris Medlock, Kevin Boggs, Nathaniel Booth, Anna Falling, and Norris Streetman.

During the candidates' opening statements, Medlock referred to Bartlett as the poster boy for "Republicans for Kathy Taylor," referring to Bartlett's endorsement of the Democrat in 2006 and 2009. Bartlett's endorsement appeared prominently at the top of the Republicans for Kathy web page prior to Taylor's decision not to seek re-election.

The highlight of the event was the Q & A period.

As far as I am aware, Dewey Bartlett, Jr., has yet to participate in a public forum where he would face questions specific to him about his record. At the Tulsa Republican Club meeting last month, questions were taken on cards, and audience members were advised to ask only those questions that could be answered by all the candidates. The same sort of request was made of potential questioners at this forum. It's as if they think his record -- his involvement in Tulsans for Better Government, his endorsement of Kathy Taylor for Mayor in 2006 and 2009, his praise for Kathy Taylor's Great Plains lawsuit deal that made Tulsa taxpayers pay back money they didn't owe for the airline's default -- can't stand up to public scrutiny.

At this forum, the audience was allowed to ask questions directly of the panel of candidates, unscreened.

Tulsa County Republican Party Chairman Sally Bell asked the candidates to give their opinion on the proposed charter amendment to make city elections non-partisan. All of the candidates expressed opposition to the idea, with the exception of Bartlett who gave a rambling answer that had him straddling the fence.

"Well, it's an interesting question. There's two sides to it. When you see what has happened in Oklahoma City, they approach things in a non-partisan basis and they've done pretty well. I think the underlying question should be are we really electing good people. That really is our responsibility as citizens of Tulsa. We have to elect good people. We have to spend the time to evaluate their position, see what they're up to. I think that partisan politics is very, very good. It sort of kind of cuts down and makes a position very well known. Unfortunately we have a lawsuit, so it depends on forcing the lawsuits on which position is going to be the one that comes out. Is it unfettered non-partisanship or is it partisanship with just a few ideas or some qualification. That's the difficult part. So yes, non-partisan question, er, excuse me, non-partisan elections are a good idea, but at the end of the day partisanship is how we differentiate."

In fact, the lawsuit, filed by Councilor John Eagleton, will not affect the substance of the proposed charter amendment, contrary to what Bartlett seems to be saying. Its outcome will determine only whether the amendment will be on the ballot or not. Bartlett's last sentence is almost impossible to parse. Is Bartlett saying that non-partisan elections are a good idea because they would prevent voters from differentiating between candidates?

Chris Medlock praised Eagleton for filing his lawsuit. "I wish Councilor Eagleton was here today so we all could give him a round of applause for the lawsuit he filed...." Medlock described the non-partisan election concept: "It is not allowing Republicans to run as Republicans. I'm against that. I'm against not allowing Democrats to run as Democrats. Party, as I said, party matters."

Medlock went on to note that the organization backing non-partisan elections, Tulsans for Better Government, was formed to push the idea of reducing the number of council districts from 9 to 6 and adding three at-large seats on the council each to be elected by the city as a whole. "Those of you who have been concerned about the same group of people running this people for the last twenty years, thirty years, will realize what that was about." Medlock pointed out that Bartlett "was a charter member of that organization."

(There is a way to allow Democrats to run as Democrats and Republicans run as Republicans while solving the problem we currently have: Many voters in many districts have no effective voice, and in some cases, no voice whatsoever, in the choice of their city councilors. You can do this with what I've called multi-partisan elections and instant runoff voting.)

I went up to ask a question about Kathy Taylor's authoritarian leadership style, her habit of working deals behind the scenes and then dropping them on the City Council, insisting that they must act immediately. I cited the ballpark assessment district as an example. I asked the candidates whether they would emulate that style of leadership, and if not, why would you endorse Kathy Taylor for re-election as Dewey Bartlett, Jr., did. The MC, Dierdre Rees, asked "Does someone know what the question was?" so I went back up and repeated the last part of it. (After the meeting, Rees told me that she didn't mean to be rude with her comment. She said she had "spaced out" and missed hearing the question, and that it was clearer when I rephrased it.)

Bartlett was the first to respond, and it seemed as if he was starting to answer my question about his endorsement of Kathy Taylor. "It's very simple. At the time, at the point in t...." But he caught himself, and instead addressed the question of leadership style, using it as a pretext for criticizing the idea, espoused by Chris Medlock, of hiring a city manager, claiming that a city manager would be less accountable and transparent than a strong mayor.

After Bartlett's answer there were audible comments from throughout the room that "he didn't answer the question."

To go back to Bartlett's objection to the idea of a city manager: Tulsa has had city managers in all but name under our current charter, with people like Bob Lemons, Charles Hardt, Sam Roop, Allen LaCroix, and others serving under titles like Chief Administrative Officer and Chief Operating Officer in the Savage and LaFortune administrations, in addition to serving as heads of departments under civil service protection. The only difference between that and a city manager is that the role is divided among two or more "chiefs." No mayor, under our current charter, has been directly engaged in the day-to-day management of the basic operations of city government. A city manager that served at the pleasure of the mayor and council would be more accountable to the public than the current arrangement, in which department heads are protected under civil service and are almost impossible to remove.

Two TV stations covered the event: KJRH and KOTV. Both stations' reports focused on Bartlett's endorsement of Taylor.

Here are the news stories. I've put the embedded video after the jump, as it plays havoc with some browsers. The video includes both stations' stories, plus video from Steven Roemerman of Bartlett's and Medlock's responses to Sally Bell's question about non-partisan elections and my question about Kathy Taylor's leadership style and Bartlett's endorsement of Taylor.

KJRH: Medlock targets Bartlett at mayoral forum

KOTV: GOP women host candidates for Tulsa Mayor (The KOTV story includes "web extra" videos of each candidate giving introductory remarks.)

Lynn Sislo has started a photographic series on her blog Violins and Starships called Oklahoma Scenery. Lynn writes:

We all form mental images of places we have never visited. The image many people have of Oklahoma is of flat grassland. I never had a chance to form that particular image myself since the first part of the state I ever saw, at age 10, was the southeast and then for a number of years I lived in northwest Arkansas, "next door" to Green Country so my primary image of Oklahoma has always been mainly hills and forests.

Lynn begins her series with photos Talimena Scenic Drive in the Ouachita National Forest in southeastern Oklahoma, the sort of photos she says "most often provoke exclamations of surprise from non-residents."

Somewhere back in the '70s, an Oklahoma tourism commercial coupled photos like these with an old Sons of the Pioneers tune:

The everlasting hills of Oklahoma,
They hold a million treasures to be found.
Golden grain on hills of green
Wave to valleys cool and clean.
Too bad some folks have never seen
The everlasting hills of Oklahoma.

The everlasting tales of Oklahoma
Are told in clouded statues in the sky.
Pioneers who long have gone,
Their wagon wheels still rumble on
When thunder peals and falls upon
The everlasting hills of Oklahoma.

The everlasting fame of Oklahoma
Will live in names of men she claimed her own.
Some were right and some were wrong
In history's pages, prose and song.
All hail them now for they all belong
To the everlasting hills of Oklahoma.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009, the Republican Women's Club of Tulsa County is hosting a mayoral candidate forum at its monthly luncheon. According to a press release from the Chris Medlock campaign, this is the last known event at which candidate Dewey Bartlett will appear publicly alongside Medlock, described by the release as "widely regarded as the conservative frontrunner in the Republican primary for Mayor."

Here are the details of the event:

Date: Tuesday, August 11
Time: 11:30 AM - 1:00 PM
Event: Republican Women's Club of Tulsa County Luncheon
Place: Tulsa Select Hotel, 5000 East Skelly Drive (I-44 and Yale)

MORE: Here's video from the brief candidate introductions at last week's Republican "Meet the Candidates" event.

Former Tulsa City Councilor Anna Falling, a Republican candidate for mayor, has announced plans for a news conference tomorrow afternoon at 4:15 at the Tulsa Zoo to protest the Tulsa Park Board's decision several years ago, during Mayor Bill LaFortune's administration several years ago not to permit a privately funded display on the biblical view of creation at the zoo. The board had initially approved the display in light of other displays of non-Christian religions (e.g., a Ganesha idol outside the elephant enclosure, the giant globe with a pantheistic slogan just inside the zoo entrance), then reversed itself.

Falling's press release concludes:

This Tuesday (Aug 11) at 4:15 pm, Anna Falling and dozens of supporters will come to the Tulsa Zoo to stand for this display to honor God and recognize the Christian roots of Tulsa.

I strongly agree with the notion of equal access. If a public place is going to prominently display religious views of the relationship between man and beast, the Christian view shouldn't be excluded. A mayor should appoint members of the parks board who will be even-handed in allowing use of publicly funded facilities for religious purposes.

Personally, I think zoos and natural history museums should stay away from matters cosmological and religious and should drop the heavy-handed evolutionary speculation that infests many exhibits. Tell us what the animal is called, what it eats, where it lives, how it interacts with its native habitat, and other observable information about the animal, but spare us your current guesswork about its ancient ancestors.

All that said, it surprises me that the Falling campaign is choosing this issue as its first publicized media event since the campaign was launched. Taxes, infrastructure, funding for public safety, land-use planning -- these are the issues that the next mayor will have to address right away.

This afternoon, Tulsa City Councilor John Eagleton filed a lawsuit in Tulsa County District Court, challenging the validity of the petition seeking non-partisan elections. More details as they are available.

Rick Westcott responds

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Tulsa District 2 City Councilor Rick Westcott is using his blog to provide detailed rationales for his positions on some controversial issues, one of which resulted in him and other councilors being denounced by Mayor Kathy Taylor on a live CNN interview.

The latest entry addresses the concern that Westcott and other councilors have that accepting Federal money to hire police officers will cost the city money it can't afford. Taylor has accused these councilors of acting out of a desire for partisan advantage. Taylor claimed on the CNN interview that the City wouldn't be out any money by having to continue to fund the 18 positions in the fourth year, following the federal three year grant, because it would have to hire that many officers to replace retiring officers anyway.

Westcott has read through the Federal government's documentation for cities seeking the grant and finds that Kathy Taylor is wrong and gives chapter and verse to back up his finding:

One of the arguments in favor of accepting the grant money is that the City of Tulsa loses about 36 officers per year through normal attrition. Over the next three years, if we don't fill all of those positions, we will save enough money to pay the fourth year for the grant-funded officers.

But, the federal government's "Owner's Manual" says that we can't do that. If we do, we'd be in violation of the terms of the grant.

Section 5 of the "Owner's Manual" is called "Retention." The first paragraph says:

"At the time of grant application, your agency committed to retaining all sworn officer positions awarded under the CHRP grant with state and/or local funds for a minimum of 12 months following the conclusion of 36 months of federal funding for each position, over and above the number of locally-funded sworn officer positions that would have existed in the absence of the grant. Your agency cannot satisfy the retention requirement by using CHRP-funded positions to fill locally-funded vacancies resulting from attrition."

In earlier entries, Westcott has discussed his vote on the downtown ballpark assessment and his vote to delay the final vote on the city budget. (It wasn't a vote to layoff dozens of police officers and firefighters.)

To help you keep up with his latest entries, I've added Westcott's blog to my BatesLine Oklahoma headlines page.

Over the last two and a half weeks,

we packed five people and too much stuff into a minivan,
drove it 3,748.1 miles through 11 states and the District of Columbia,
reconnected with dear aunts, uncles, and friends,
met a longtime e-mail and blog pal in person,
bumped into a former co-worker of my wife's,
introduced our kids to the kids of a college friend and watched them hit it off,
enjoyed unseasonably cool weather,
visited Abraham Lincoln's boyhood home and the building where he first served in public office,
ate dinner in Santa Claus (Indiana),
went kayaking in Little Assawoman Bay,
rode a narrow-gauge steam train in the mountains of Pennsylvania,
visited a railroad museum and its elaborate model layouts,
spent the day at an old-fashioned, family-owned amusement park,
went swimming and picnicking at a lake in a Pennsylvania state park,
taught a Maltese dog some new tricks,
sat on a porch and watched the rain come down,
picked zucchini, squash, cucumbers, and broccoli from the garden,
ate fresh sweet corn and tomatoes from a produce stand named Sipes (of all things),
ate zeppolis at an Italian festival in West Virginia,
used the free wifi in a tiny branch library in a tiny Pennsylvania town,
played music at the open stage night at the town's volunteer fire station,
tried exotic ice cream flavors -- chocolate marshmallow, peanut butter, bittersweet, and teaberry (which tastes just like Pepto-Bismol),
tried Pennsylvania Dutch birch beer (liked it) and Ale-8-1 (not so much),
took a guided shorebird tour,
visited an old U. S. Life Saving Station,
swam in the Atlantic Ocean,
watched dolphins at sunrise just offshore,
ate fresh crabs,
ate Herr's Old Bay flavored potato chips,
ate pastrami in a kosher restaurant in Washington,
ate salt water taffy,
managed to offset most of the eating with a lot of walking,
rode the Metro and walked between the hotel and the station,
stayed the night in a two-day-old hotel,
went tax-free shopping at an outlet mall in Delaware,
put up with abysmal internet access and cell phone reception,
looked out over one of the deepest river gorges in America,
visited the Museum of Frontier Cultures,
visited the National Air and Space Museum,
visited the National Museum of Natural History,
rode to the top of the Gateway Arch,
walked around my wife's childhood church,
saw a sand sculpture contest,
stayed in two different houses and five different hotels,
ate some truly loathsome "hot breakfasts" at said hotels,
ate the best breakfast at the tattiest and cheapest hotel on the trip,
managed not to leave behind any beloved blankets or stuffed animals,
managed to suffer only a few minor injuries (an elbow scrape, a couple of head colds, and one wrenching of the knee -- mine) and only one minor ding in the rear fender,
managed to avoid any disasters at home (except for someone not shutting the freezer door all the way),
and generally had a wonderful time,
except that now I need a vacation.

More specifics and pictures in the days to come.

Last week I wrote a piece correcting the history of Tulsans for Better Government and the three charter changes recommended by the Citizens' Commission on City Government. In that entry, I quoted a statement in the Citizens' Commission report that some of the commissioners preferred my notion of multi-partisan city elections to non-partisan elections. A commenter asked for more information on the idea, so here it is.

In short, a multi-partisan election gives voters information about the candidates by allowing the candidate a choice of labels to appear next to his or her name. That might be a national party label, or it might be the name of a strictly local political grouping. The idea differs from our current system, in which only a national party label may appear (which may not paint an accurate picture of a candidate's platform on local issues), and the proposed non-partisan system, in which no label whatsoever would appear (providing the voter no information at all about the candidate's affiliations and ideas).

This system is in use in the United Kingdom, where candidates for local councils may run as a Labourite or a Conservative, but often run under a strictly local party banner. Minneapolis has had such a system for many years, and the city recently adopted Instant Runoff Voting to improve the voters' control over electing their preference from a group of three or more candidates. Minneapolis allows each candidate a three-word ballot label expressing his or her "political party or political principle."


I set out a detailed multi-partisan election proposal for Tulsa in an April 5, 2006, column.

Councilor John Eagleton promoted the idea back in 2007. When the Tulsa Whirled published an inane editorial ridiculing multi-partisan elections, I wrote this response.

Today (August 8, 2009) there's a celebration in honor of the centennial of Tulsa's purchase of its oldest park. Owen Park, southeast of W. Edison St. and N. Quanah Ave., was acquired by the City of Tulsa in August 1909.

The highlight of the day's festivities is the construction of a new playground for the park. Here's the city press release:

Join us Saturday, August 8 as we celebrate the 100th birthday of Tulsa's very first park. This action-packed day will feature a morning fishing tournament, day-long playground construction, trolley tours, climbing wall, stage acts, and more.

The history of Owen Park neighborhood can be traced back to early territorial days and businessman Chauncey Owen. His wife, Martha, received an allotment of 160 acres from the Creek Nation. The land encompassed what is now known as Owen Park and the surrounding neighborhood. These lands were often used for public events even before the park was given its official designation. Owen wanted to divide and sell the land, and offered more than 20 acres to the city. In March of 1909 the city held its first Park Commission meeting and by August 18, 1909 had decided to purchase the land from Owen. The park known as Owen Park officially opened June 8, 1910.

The festivities to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Owen Park will kick off early that day with a fishing tournament. The tourney, for fishers 15 years and younger, begins at 7 a.m. and ends at noon (bring your own bait).

The day officially kicks off at 8 a.m. on the Main Stage. The construction of the Kaboom Playground will begin, and a variety of acts will entertain the crowd throughout the day. The QT Mobile Kitchen will be on site, as well as displays and booths from Neighborhood Associations, and the Tulsa Fire Department.

A climbing wall will be open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the former Tennis court area. A Kids Parade will take place at 4 p.m. and be led by the winner of the fishing tournament. Then at 5 p.m., Mayor Kathy Taylor will read a proclamation commemorating the Tulsa Parks' centennial and the event will conclude with the 6 p.m. unveiling of the Kaboom Playground.

The fishing tourney is already underway, but there's still time to get out and enjoy.

And don't forget -- today is also the rescheduled Red Fork "Down on Main Street" festival, from 10 to 2.

There's a fundraiser and voter registration drive this Saturday afternoon for Rocky Frisco, Republican candidate for Tulsa District 4 City Councilor. Here are the details:

Rocky Frisco fundraiser and voter registration drive
Saturday, August 8, 2009
1 p.m.
Ed's Hurricane Lounge
3216 E. 11th St.

As befits a candidate who also happens to be a veteran musician, several Tulsa bands will be playing the event.

Rocky Frisco is making a serious run to unseat the incumbent, Eric Gomez, and it appears that he has the most detailed and thoughtful website of any candidate in this election. Here's a snippet from his home page that gives you a sense of what he's all about:

If you recall Jonathan Swift's Tale in "Gulliver's Travels" of the encounter with the Lilliputians, the tiny humans were able to capture and imprison the (to them) enormous Gulliver by tying him to the ground with millions of microscopic insubstantial threads. That's the mental image I have of modern government, meddling and micromanaging our lives in areas where they have no business doing so. In an era where the federal government has refused to honor the limitations of the Constitution and Bill of Rights and continually illegally steers the nation all over the road, like a drunk driver, maybe I can make a difference regarding our liberty in my local area. It's the old Sunday School concept of "brighten the corner where you are."

How does that apply to Tulsa?

The Tulsa City Government is, far too much, about money and who gets it and what's done with it, not about serving the taxpayers, voters and residents. I personally find it ludicrous for them to spend enormous amounts of money on sports arenas and mega-entertainment venues when our streets are like a battle-zone and repairs need to be re-repaired after just a year or two on a regular basis. Who thought it wise to lay enormous tax increases on people and businesses in the downtown area as part of this "renewal?" I see too many unintended consequences following the decisions of the current City Government. When will the City Government stop shooting the people of our city in the foot, arse and elbow? What I read in the local paper leads me to think the people in City Government think they are our bosses and that they need to run the city is if we are their employees and that Tulsa is in competition with other cities: who has the best sports arenas, parks and entertainment complexes? I see Tulsa as my home town and I want it to be the best home town for the people of Tulsa, not a competitive entity that tramples on their freedom in order to compete with other cities.

As a bit of comic relief on his campaign website, Rocky presents an endorsement from humorist Dave Barry:

"I am proud to endorse Rocky Frisco for Tulsa City Council, District Four. Not only is he a fine community leader, but he's also a heck of a piano player, which would be handy if the Tulsa City Council ever decides to form a band, which it definitely should."

A group of Tulsans that believes Tulsa could win and host the 2020 Summer Olympic Games made their case earlier this week in a presentation to the Tulsa City Council. (You can view the 2020 Tulsa Olympics presentation at Councilor John Eagleton's website.)

I appreciate the proponents' optimism, but I think some important factors are being overlooked:

Atlanta was already regarded as the capital and hub of the New South and on the map as home to CNN and major league sports teams in baseball, football, and basketball. As Steven Roemerman points out, Atlanta's airport was already one of the nation's busiest long before the city's Olympic bid.

The small towns that hosted the Winter Olympics -- Lake Placid, Squaw Valley, Lillehammer -- were resort towns in resort regions that routinely host many multiples of their permanent populations.

No matter how cheap the bid process may be, someone has to pay for the venues. Denver won the 1976 Summer Olympics, but local voters decided they had better things to spend their tax dollars on, and the games went to Montreal.

A giant Olympic stadium downtown would devastate what's left of downtown, requiring clearance of a massive area for the stadium itself and the support buildings.


Charles G. Hill has a list of things that will happen before Tulsa hosts the Olympics.

Nick Roberts offers some thoughts from down the turnpike, and reminds that 2020 is Africa's turn.

Steven Roemerman thinks Tulsa should go for the 3022 Space Olympics.

Tulsa mayoral candidate Chris Medlock is hosting an open house at his campaign headquarters tonight from 5:30 to 7:30. The HQ is at 10203-A East 61st Street in the Mingo Valley Trade Center (west of US 169 on 61st St).

If you're running for city office and are planning a volunteer or public event, drop me a line at blog at batesline dot com, I'll consider it for publication here. (Please note that I will post or not at my discretion.)

Please join me in wishing a happy 13th birthday to a wonderful, creative, funny young man with a bright future.


(And say a prayer for the father of a teenager.)

If you missed it, CNN interviewed Tulsa Mayor Kathy Taylor live regarding the $3.5 million in federal stimulus money granted to the city to fund 18 police positions for three years.

The catch: Tulsa would have to provide funding for a fourth year and would also have to find $840,000 to provide equipment for the officers. Taylor is proposing to take the money from the Tulsa Authority for the Recovery of Energy, the trash trust that ran the now-defunct trash-to-energy plant. Taylor told CNN that "we" (the City, evidently) gave TARE $10 million "about 20 years ago."

Off the top of my head, I'd guess the City has given hundreds of millions, via the Third Penny, to fund capital projects for the Tulsa Metropolitan Utility Authority. Maybe some of those funds now for general fund purposes.

Taylor says the fourth year of funding isn't an issues, as we'd have to fund replacements for retiring officers anyway. On the face of it, that doesn't seem like that would meet federal conditions. Wouldn't Tulsa need to maintain the current number of positions through the fourth year? She seems to be saying that it doesn't matter how many officers retire or are let go, as long as we hire 18 more and keep those 18 on staff through the fourth year.

When asked about City Council concerns over whether Tulsa could afford the strings attached to this money, Taylor replied, "I think a few councilors are playing politics with this money." This is Taylor's standard answer when a councilor doesn't bend to her will. But what political gain would come from refusing federal funds for police officers? Why would you risk the political hit from opposing the money unless you felt it was important? Anyway, didn't Taylor eliminate politics from the budget process when she decided not to run for re-election?

(Video posted at My Tulsa World.)

Kathy Taylor's decision to denounce city councilors on a national news network is just one more example of her contempt for the legislative branch of city government. It certainly would be welcome to have a mayor that treated the City Council with due respect, as partners instead of pests.

MORE: Here's Councilor Rick Westcott's interview from last Thursday's Pat Campbell show on why accepting the stimulus money is a bad idea for Tulsa.

Still too swamped for a detailed analytical post, but I must at least point out the misstatements at the end of last Friday's story in the daily about the initiative petition filed by Tulsans for Better Government in support of a charter change for non-partisan elections. The original web story was more accurate than the version published on July 31. Tulsans for Better Government existed before the Citizens' Commission on City Government was formed, and the City Council did not ignore all of the commission's recommendations -- one of the three recommendations (fall elections) has already been approved by the voters and a second (appointed city auditor) will be on November's ballot. The third -- non-partisan elections -- did not have the unanimous support of the commission.

Tulsans for Better Government was actually formed in 2005 to promote the idea of at-large councilors -- reducing the number of districts from nine to six and adding three at-large seats. The effort was a reaction to a City Council with a majority of councilors who actually sought to represent the interests of their districts. It was seen as an attempt to boost representation for the wealthier sections of Tulsa -- under the old at-large commission system, nearly all city officials came from the Money Belt -- and to strip political power from the north, east, and west Tulsa. Dewey Bartlett Jr. and Mayor Kathy Taylor lent their names to the cause as members of the advisory board. The group circulated an initiative petition in support of their proposal.

Tulsans for Better Government suspended its petition effort when Mayor Bill LaFortune announced the formation of a "Citizens' Commission on City Government," assigned to study the City Charter, including terms and number of councilors, partisanship, etc. In their final report, the commission strongly rejected Tulsans for Badder Government's at-large councilor idea. The report made three recommendations, two of which have already been sent to the voters by the City Council, as noted above.

The third recommendation, non-partisan elections, did not enjoy as strong a level of support:

It should be noted that this recommendation is not made unanimously. Some suggested that no change should be made while others embraced an idea advanced by local commentator Michael Bates, known as multi-partisan elections. Still others recommended that the system simply needed technical changes to enable higher participation levels. For example, one thoughtful suggestion was a response to the situation where candidates of only one party file for a council race in a particular district. In those situations, a few task force members recommended that such an election be converted from a primary election to a general election.

More info at the following links:

NOTE: The Down on Main Street festival was originally scheduled for May but was rained out, and it's been rescheduled for this Saturday.

This coming Saturday (August 8, 2009) from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., old downtown Red Fork will be home to a "Down on Main Street" festival. Red Fork was a separate town once upon a time, annexed into the City of Tulsa circa 1927. It's now home to the first "Main Street" program within the City of Tulsa.

Oklahoma has had an active and successful Main Street program for many years, encouraging restoration of historic buildings and the commercial revitalization of dozens of small-town downtowns across the state.

The Main Street program is not just for small towns. Oklahoma City has four active Main Street programs: Stockyards City, Capitol Hill, Plaza District, and Eastside Capitol Gateway; Automobile Alley used to be on the list, too. When I asked City of Tulsa officials back in the late '90s about starting it up here, the responses were oddly reluctant, as if such a thing might get in the way of tearing buildings down.

At long last, two years ago, Red Fork became the first Main Street program in the city, with hopes of bringing Southwest Blvd -- old Route 66 -- back to life. The Down on Main Street festival is part of the program to promote the area and bring the community together. From the festival flier, here are the events planned:

  • Pie contest
  • Ollie's Restaurant's Blue Plate Special
  • Live music
  • Global Garden's Kids' Zone
  • Art show
  • Farmers market with a Westside charm

The festival will take place along Southwest Blvd. near 41st St. Parking and Shuttles will be available at Webster High School, 1919 West 40th Street., and OSU Women's Center, 2345 Southwest Blvd.

The deadline to enter the pie contest is TODAY (August 3, 2009). You must have your entry form and a $5 fee to the Red Fork Main Street office, 3708 Southwest Blvd, by 5 p.m. Click here for a form and more details.

Here's hoping for good weather for Saturday's Down on Main Street festival.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from August 2009 listed from newest to oldest.

July 2009 is the previous archive.

September 2009 is the next archive.

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