September 2009 Archives

Oklahoma City has a lot going for it, but it has its problems, too. Here are a couple of recent news items that may be of interest at the east end of the Turner Turnpike.

Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett has a new job with ad agency Ackerman McQueen. (He's still mayor, but he has to make a living somehow.) KTOK talk host Mark Shannon says Cornett's job creates all sorts of conflicts of interest, because Ackerman McQueen has so many clients that do business with the city and have a financial interest in the upcoming MAPS 3 vote. Shannon says it's unlikely that the mainstream media will look too closely at the situation:

The OKLAHOMAN ran a glowing story about Cornett's hiring by Ackerman-McQueen, but didn't ask any questions about it. If they did, editors took them all out of the story.

After all, why would the NEWSPAPER do anything NEGATIVE about the VICE PRESIDENT of the company that does their PUBLIC RELATIONS? Why would that same newspaper ask any questions about the Executive Vice-President of the company that spends hundreds of thousands of dollars of their client's dollars buying full-size ads in that same newspaper?

And the TV stations? Well, they wouldn't want to hack off an advertising firm that funnels them hundreds of thousands of dollars a year that represents INTEGRIS HEALTH, OG+E, Chesapeake, The Oklahoma State Fair, Riverwind Casino, Taco Mayo, The Chamber of Commerce, and on and on and on.

According to Shannon, Cornett will not disclose what he is being paid by the agency, what his responsibilities are, or what kind of performance will entitle him to a performance bonus.

Mayor Cornett said in the Sunday Oklahoman on September 13: "Ackerman McQueen is also deeply engrained into our community with a history spanning more than five decades."

That's an understatement.

And now, the MAYOR OF OKLAHOMA CITY is enmeshed with this advertising agency and their clients.

Ackerman-McQueen pays him handsomely for his involvement with their firm....we think. He won't say how much he's making or what, if any, hours he is expected to put in.

Suppose they give him a "performance bonus?" Will we know what the PERFORMANCE was?

Don't you think you should know why, how, and what an elected official is doing for his paycheck?

And the City Attorney won't release the opinion they provided to Cornett regarding conflicts of interest involving his job with Ackerman McQueen:

Mr. Shannon, The document you requested, a written legal opinion, is a confidential attorney-client communication. The Oklahoma Open Records Act, 51 O.S. § 24A.5(1), states that the Act does not apply to records specifically required by law to be kept confidential. The legal opinion is therefore not a public record under the Oklahoma Open Records Act, and it does not have to be released by the City. Thanks.

Frances Kersey, City Clerk

TRACKBACK: Charles G. Hill has more thoughts on the matter of Mick Cornett's job and salaries for public officials. He has a rather vivid way of describing Ackerman McQueen's widespread influence in OKC.

Meanwhile, in the middle of the Core to Shore area, ODOT proceeds to destroy the Union Station railyard to make way for the relocation of I-40. The station and yard were purchased by COTPA, OKC's transit authority, for use as a multimodal transportation hub, but instead the station is used for offices, and the platforms, once connected by underground tunnels to the station, have been destroyed, and two major viaducts are doomed. Tom Elmore posted a plea for help to the Preservation 911 website:

Walker Ave. Viaduct, Oklahoma City, by Michael BatesThese underpasses, like much of the rest of the sprawling, 8-block-long OKC Union Station complex, were built, largely by hand, by craftsmen of our great grandparents' generation. They have required virtually no maintenance through the years since 1930 and would easily serve for another 80 years (despite the city of OKC's obvious disdain for them and avoidance even of sweeping the protected pedestrian walkways and keeping their lighting in working order).

Perhaps their quality, elegance and longevity is why the Oklahoma Department of Transportation is so hell-bent to destroy them.

ODOT has never built anything remotely to this standard of quality.

In fact, the longstanding east-west highway passage through downtown OKC they now call "The Crosstown Expressway," was built by them, and, because they claim that, like most of the other stuff they've built, it's about to fall down, they've insisted on creating a new path for the road directly through the Union Station rail yard. This plan will very soon destroy not just the rail yard, but the elegant Robinson and Walker underpasses, as well.

Mayoral audio

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Tulsa's mayoral election is on the air.

At 8 a.m. this morning (Wednesday, September 30, 2009), 1170 KFAQ will have the two major-party candidates for mayor, Tom Adelson and Dewey Bartlett Jr, in studio for a head-to-head debate. As I understand it, host Pat Campbell will stay in the background and let the two candidates ask each other questions. It's a great idea. (Too bad there wasn't a similar event before the Republican primary.) (UPDATE: Here's the podcast of the KFAQ Tom Adelson-Dewey Bartlett Jr debate.)

KRMG will hold a debate between the mayoral candidates on November 3. Over the last several mornings, KRMG's Joe Kelley has had several short segments with Adelson, Bartlett Jr, and independent Republican candidate Mark Perkins.

2009/09/24: Dewey Bartlett Jr on mistakes in his ads
2009/09/24: Tom Adelson responds to Bartlett Jr's attack ad
2009/09/25: Tom Adelson on the campaign and his contributions to Democratic candidates and party funds
2009/09/28: Mark Perkins
2009/09/28: Dewey Bartlett Jr
2009/09/29: Tom Adelson

Steven Roemerman put together a mashup of the two segments from Sept. 24 to make it sound like a debate between the two candidates. Pretty cool.

KWGS Studio Tulsa is doing a series of programs with each of the candidates:

2009/09/25: Tom Adelson
2009/09/28: Mark Perkins

Ray Pearcey hosts a weekly public affairs program, Community Issues on Tap, Saturdays at 11 a.m. on AM 1340 KJMU. The home page has Dewey Bartlett Jr's appearance on the 2009/09/19 program. Mark Perkins was on the show last weekend, but the audio doesn't appear to be online yet.

(Pearcey gave a very interesting Ignite Tulsa talk (video here) on the possibilities opened by the iPhone for interaction between the web and the physical world and how Tulsa can be a part of making those possibilities happen.)

I'm reluctant to post this, because it could be read as conspiracy-mongering, but I was just fascinated by all the interconnections evident in a single Tulsa World story about a new professorship at the University of Tulsa College of Law.

The new chair in energy law is being endowed by the George Kaiser Family Foundation in honor of Frederic Dorwart, described in the story as the president of GKFF and its longtime attorney. Dorwart is the attorney for Bank of Oklahoma, of which George Kaiser is chairman.

(Dorwart represented the Tulsa Industrial Authority in its suit against the Tulsa Airport Improvement Trust, dealing with TAIT's commitment to buy land owned by TIA in the event of a default by Great Plains Airlines on a loan from BOk, guaranteed by TIA. Great Plains went bust, the FAA said TAIT couldn't use passenger service fees to buy the land, leaving TIA with no way to pay back the money that Great Plains owed. So TIA sued TAIT. The suit was expanded in June 2008 to include the City of Tulsa. City Attorney Deirdre Dexter, a former Dorwart firm lawyer, agreed to settle within a day or so of the city's addition to the suit.)

The story quotes the dean of the law school, Janet Levit. Janet's husband Ken Levit is executive director of GKFF. The story goes on to note:

In May, the Kaiser Foundation donated nearly $40 million to TU. The gift included a low-interest loan to help the university begin construction on the Roxana Rozsa and Robert Eugene Lorton Performance Center, as well as money for the Energy Policy Institute and a student volunteer center.

So Kaiser's generosity made it possible to move ahead with a building named in honor of the former publisher of the Tulsa World (and the father of the current publisher) and his wife. (It appears from this Collegian story that construction of the center had been postponed because of the economy.) The story continues:

Dorwart is president of the advisory board of the TU Undergraduate Research Challenge and is an organizer of the Tulsa Stadium Trust Improvement District.

He was an organizing trustee of the Tulsa Community Foundation and a co-founder of the International Society of Energy Advocates.

Just to be clear, this new endowed chair in energy law is a very good thing, both for TU and for Tulsa. Energy law is an important field, and it's a natural fit for a university with a world-renowned petroleum engineering department.

But the interconnections evident in this one news story are fascinating.

ACORN in Oklahoma City

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A computer abandoned in ACORN's Oklahoma City office contains files that indicate a close working relationship between the leftist community organization and the Oklahoma Democratic party, according to State Rep. Mike Reynolds, R-Oklahoma City. ACORN's former landlord gave the computer and files to Reynolds after the office was abandoned by ACORN last fall. A file on the computer plans to target two State Senate districts and three State House districts.

According to a story on the McCarville Report Online, the computer also contained a letter apparently from State Sen. Andrew Rice -- or at least written for his signature -- urging the U. S. Customs and Immigration Service to expedite the processing of citizenship applications.

MORE:, home to the hidden camera investigation of ACORN offices around the country, is watching the Oklahoma City ACORN story. Here is's full ACORN archive. And Andrew Griffin has more detail at Oklahoma Watchdog.

Anita MonCrief shows how ACORN's tactics look suspiciously like a protection racket.

Where's Dewey Jr?

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I received an e-mail yesterday morning from Herb Beattie, who is organizing a candidate forum for the League of Women Voters of Metro Tulsa (phone numbers, except for the campaign office number, redacted):

waldoBartlettJr.jpgSubject: Please help me locate Dewey

Since last Wednesday, 9/23, on behalf of the LWVMT, the Brookside NA and other midtown NAs, I have been trying to arrange a forum involving mayoral, auditor and Council district 9 candidates. Of course the most important candidates are Dewey Bartlett and Tom Adelson. I talked with Adelson's office but have been unsuccessful locating Dewey. I called his campaign office, 582-5553, and left a message. I then sent an email to his campaign website (see below). On Friday morning I called Republican HQ and the lady who answered told me that they were having similar difficulties communicating with him or his campaign staff. She gave me three numbers to try

1. 230-xxxx a machine answered and I left a message
2. 743-xxxx a man answered but was not helpful other than suggesting that I call Keener Oil
3. 587-xxxx this is Keener Oil where I left a message for Dewey or his assistant to call me.

No responses yet, so I am asking some of my Republican friends to help me find him.

Bartlett Jr was supposed to appear at the After Five Republican Women's Club meeting at Cowboy Sharkie's, 5840 S. Memorial, last at 6 p.m. But then he was supposed to appear at last month's meeting, a forum to which all Republican mayoral candidates were invited, but he canceled. I haven't heard whether he made last night's meeting or not.

As of early this morning, Beattie had tried a couple of additional avenues to contact Bartlett Jr, with no result.

If you know of Dewey Bartlett Jr's whereabouts, please contact the League of Women Voters.


"Where's Dewey Jr?" graphic courtesy Steven Roemerman, who has a "Where's Dewey Jr?" puzzle and a song. (Do it, Rockapella!)

In the comments, Chris Medlock writes:

He was late to the After Five Republican Women's Club, but he did show along with his wife Victoria.

No word as to where he went after that. I didn't notice any strange fog, or anything.

UPDATE 2009/09/30: Herb Beattie writes:

Thanks to Councilor Bynum, batesline and, perhaps, others I received a call from a man on Dewey's campaign team yesterday. He suggested that a forum scheduled for Sunday, 11/1, at 11:30 at All Souls Unitarian Church (ASUC) be used for a "District 9 Candidate Forum". I responded that, although that might be useful for a very few folks who are not members of that church, it would not meet our broader objectives because of parking and many folks wanting to be at other churches at that time. I asked him to suggest some other times and I agreed to call ASUC to seek their reaction.

A mailer today from the Dewey Bartlett Jr campaign points out Tom Adelson's contributions to liberal Democratic candidates and causes. Adelson was an early and maximum contributor to Barack Obama's presidential campaign, gave $20,000 to the 2008 "victory fund" (money given to the Democratic Party to promote voter registration and turnout -- not directly in support of a particular candidate), and gave large contributions to the Democratic Congressional and Senatorial campaign committees, aimed at giving control of the House and Senate to the Democratic Party leadership, which is considerably further left than most Oklahoma Democrats. The mailer asks, "If Tom Adelson spends his personal wealth supporting these liberal policy makers in Washington, D. C., what liberal policies will he push on Tulsa?"

(Impressively, this Bartlett Jr mailer contains no obvious typos. The address side features a faded photo of Adelson in the background with prominent images of Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, John Kerry and a pile of hundred-dollar bills. The other side has another prominent image of Obama and smaller photos of Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Clinton, Kerry, and Tom Daschle.)

It's a fair question to ask, and one that Adelson needs to answer. We've had some recent examples of Democratic mayors pursuing policies that were far to the left of the Tulsa electorate:

As interesting as it is to look at a candidate's support for Federal campaigns, it's just as critical for Tulsa's voters to know whether the candidates for mayor approve or disapprove of these specific actions taken by recent mayors to raise taxes and to use the City of Tulsa's credibility to advance liberal ideology.

As a Democrat and a Taylor donor, Adelson needs to tell us where he stands on each of these issues. I am not aware of him speaking out in opposition to any of these actions by Mayors Savage and Taylor.

But Dewey Bartlett Jr has some explaining to do, too. As someone who endorsed Kathy Taylor for re-election before he even knew which Republican would challenge her, we have to assume, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, that Bartlett Jr supports each of Taylor's controversial, left-wing actions prior to that endorsement.

We know for a fact that Bartlett Jr backed Taylor's Great Plains Airlines property tax increase, because he praised it and, as her appointee on the airport board, Bartlett Jr voted to approve it. One would think that Bartlett Jr, as someone in the energy business, would vocally oppose Taylor's pledge to adhere to the Kyoto standards, but I don't recall him uttering a peep in opposition.

Candidates, let's hear some answers. If any of the four mayoral candidates will address these issues, I'll post their responses here.

The Associated Press reported Sunday on a new development concerning the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.

Salt Lake City attorney Jesse Trentadue filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for surveillance tapes from buildings near Oklahoma City's Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. After a long wait, four tapes were released, but Trentadue says there are missing sections on each tape just prior to the truck bomb blast that killed 168 people.

The tapes turned over by the FBI came from security cameras various companies had mounted outside office buildings near the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. They are blank at points before 9:02 a.m., when a truck bomb carrying a 4,000 pound (1,815 kilogram) fertilizer-and-fuel-oil bomb detonated in front of the building, Trentadue said.

"Four cameras in four different locations going blank at basically the same time on the morning of April 19, 1995. There ain't no such thing as a coincidence," Trentadue said.

He said government officials claim the security cameras did not record the minutes before the bombing because "they had run out of tape" or "the tape was being replaced."

"The interesting thing is they spring back on after 9:02," he said. "The absence of footage from these crucial time intervals is evidence that there is something there that the FBI doesn't want anybody to see."


Former KFOR-TV investigative reporter Jayna Davis, who continued to pursue leads relating to a third terrorist involved in the bombing, provided blogger Bob McCarty with a summary of information about the security cameras that were in the area of the Murrah Building, which views of the lead-up to the bombing exist, and which views have been released to the public.

My friend Kathryn Atwood will be walking next month in the Greater Los Angeles Walk to Defeat ALS. This is the third year that she's done this walk, the third year since ALS claimed the life of her father, Dr. Roger M. Atwood, a Tulsa physician. Kathryn's walk team, "Remembering Roger," has a goal to raise $5,000.

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease after its most famous victim, has no cure or treatment. The ALS Association is raising money to fund research toward a cure and to provide practical helps to those who suffer from it. Kathryn writes:

During his fight, we discovered the power of the "sock pull" and a little gadget that helped him put on his shirts by himself. All the little things, not to mention the wheelchair and ultimately the Bi-Pap oxygen mask, enabled my dad to maintain his dignity, to feel still a bit self-sufficient even as his muscles stopped working and the disease took firmer hold on his and all of our lives. The money raised from this walk goes directly to helping families cope in a very real, literal way with this disease. It will go toward supplying those important tools like sock pulls and wheel chairs, to those suffering from ALS. It will also go towards spreading awareness of the urgency to find treatments and a cure.

If you were a patient or colleague of Dr. Atwood's, if you're a friend of the family, or if you just want to see a cure found for ALS, please join me in supporting Kathryn's walk in memory of her father.

Links from bloggers and websites in Tulsa and around Oklahoma:

MeeCiteeWurkor looks at a traffic fatality that killed a bicyclist. The trail led to the Sinclair refinery parking lot and the question: Does Sinclair Hire Illegal Aliens?

An 1829 letter from President Andrew Jackson, informing leaders of the Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations that they would have to leave the southern states, has been found. (Via Blair Humphreys.)

Yogi gives a panhandler his lunch and ponders whether shelters and soup kitchens are enablers rather than true helps: Yogi's Den: A Homeless Guy, Leviticus 23:22, and my Lunch

Tasha suggests several more ways to get to know Tulsa, including Twitter and parenthood.

Emily was given a lovely 1946 linen postcard of Tulsa's Webster High School.

Stephen and Elizabeth Thompson spent a week touring famed diners and dives around Oklahoma and Kansas, and recorded the results in their blog Foodies Gone Wild: Oklahoma & Kansas edition.

The University of Tulsa Golden Hurricane has a new costumed mascot, replacing old mascot Huffy the Hurricane, Powdered Toast Man's doppelganger.

aRdent Voice wants you to see his wife Lori Sears' portrait drawings

Freedom of Information Oklahoma has some interesting stories:

Remember Marc Sherman, who was a midday talk show host on KRMG? He has a blog: Marc's True News

Jason Kearney considers the case of a Tulsa youth pastor on "The Biggest Loser" and asks Is It a Sin To Be Fat? (And congrats to Jason on his third blogiversary.)

TulsaGal has the story (with photos) of Tate Brady, namesake of Tulsa's Brady Street, and some wonderful photos and information on the Akdar Theatre, which later became Leon McAuliffe's Cimarron Ballroom.

Irritated Tulsan's guest poster bestandworstofokc offers 10 ways to annoy your coworkers.

Stan Geiger thinks high-speed trains might work in the Los Angeles / Las Vegas corridor but has reasons to doubt their utility in connecting Tulsa to Oklahoma City.

Bill Yates, who blogs about neuroscience research, has a surprising post about children, video games, and attention.

Jack Lewis remembers the way the basketball coach pushed his own son to excel and draws a lesson from that about God's love for His childrenCatoosa's Coach Commisky and God's love

Here's another version, that uses stills backed with the Red Army Chorus singing "Katyusha."

MORE: This clip is from the 2005 mockumentary Pervye na Lune (First to the Moon), about the 1930s Soviet space program. Here it is on Google video.

09DOWT_Vertical_link.jpgThis weekend and next, September 25, 26, 27, and October 2, 3, and 4, 2009, Thomas the Tank Engine will be at the Oklahoma Railway Museum in Oklahoma City for a special "Day Out with Thomas" event. You'll be able to take a 25-minute train ride pulled by a full-sized Thomas the Tank Engine. Tickets are $18 on Saturdays and Sundays, $15 on Fridays.

Even when Thomas isn't there, the Oklahoma Railway Museum offers train rides, mainly during the summer, but there's one more chance this fall, the third Saturday in October. Admission to the museum only is free of charge; the museum has a collection of engines, passenger cars, freight cars, and cabooses.

The Oklahoma Railway Museum is on Grand, south of N. E. 36th, just a half mile west of I-35.

Claim your steak

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oksteaklogo.gifTomorrow, Saturday, September 26, 2009, is the Oklahoma Championship Steak Cookoff, to be held on the grounds of Trinity Episcopal Church, 5th & Cincinnati in downtown Tulsa. The meat hits the grill at 12:30. 1st place wins $2,500. Beyond the contest steaks, there will be steaks for the spectators, too:

Join the fun on Saturday afternoon to watch the grilling competition as teams prepare and cook 16oz Certified Angus Beef ribeye steaks. After each team cooks a steak for judging, they will then grill steaks to be served to those persons lucky enough to have a ticket. Dinner will start at 5pm. The $20 ticket includes a dinner of a 16oz steak, salad, baked potato and bread. Live music will fill the air as diners enjoy their meal in the area surrounding Trinity Episcopal Church.

Musical acts include Shelby Eicher and Mark Bruner, DuoSonics, Timothy O'Brian's Celtic Cheer, and Matt Jewett-Williams.

There's also a celebrity steak cookoff. For a schedule of events, information, and tickets, visit the Oklahoma Championship Steak Cookoff website. The event will raise money for Trinity Episcopal Church's outreaches: Iron Gate food ministry, Habitat for Humanity, and New Hope ministry to children of incarcerated parents.

For more ways to gorge and entertain yourself this weekend in Tulsa, check out Tasha Does Tulsa's weekly roundup.

Here it is:

Here are some previous entries on BatesLine that touch on Greenwood and include some of the material I shared at Ignite Tulsa.

Greenwood's streetcar: The Sand Springs Railroad (includes photos)

The rise and fall of Greenwood (includes high res 1951 aerial photo of Deep Greenwood)

Greenwood 1957

Film of Oklahoma's 1920s black communities available through Global ImageWorks

Tulsa 1957: Restaurant map

Notes on sources documenting the resurgence of Greenwood

Signs of Greenwood's rebuilding

Sometime soon, I will post the slides with a recorded narration, closer to the way I would have delivered the talk had I taken more time to rehearse and memorize. (No excuse, but I returned from a business trip just 90 minutes before the event was scheduled to begin. I waited far too long to get my slides together, and I should have taken time to write a narration and to revise my slides before submitting them. It takes a lot of work to say something in five minutes.)

I encourage you to watch all of the excellent Ignite Tulsa presentations. (I plan to do so; I was too distracted before my talk to absorb as much as I should have, and shortly after I finished, I was notified that I was needed at home.) My thanks to the organizers for bringing this idea to Tulsa and making the inaugural event such a success.

jfjo_odib.jpgJacob Fred Jazz Odyssey is returning home to Tulsa for one night this Friday, September 25, on a coast-to-coast tour promoting their new EP, One Night in Brooklyn. The show starts at 9 pm at The Marquee on Main and Cameron in Tulsa's Bob Wills Arts District (look for Bob in an Indian headdress on the front door).

JFJO_UTW.jpgThe band's music draws on a wide range of influences, including classical music. (In fact, they're prepping to present a jazz adaptation of Beethoven's 3rd (Eroica) and 6th (Pastoral) Symphonies at the 2010 OK Mozart festival.) You can read all about the band and its history in this UTW cover story profile by Erin Fore.

I'd encourage you to head over to the Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey website and listen to the sampler on the home page. I especially enjoyed "The Black and Crazy Blues," which prominently features lap steel guitar.

Speaking of which, I was amused by a quote from a Kansas City Star review:

On 'One Day in'll hear how creative and adventurous Tulsans, lap steel and all, are redirecting the future of jazz.

Imagine that: Playing jazz on a lap steel guitar, and on North Main Street in Tulsa no less. Who'd have thought?

Leon McAuliffe and his Fender Quad Stringmaster

I've only recently been introduced to the music of JFJO. I like it (especially the prominent and effective use of steel guitar) and I think you will too. Come out and hear for yourself this Friday night. Tickets are $10 in advance at Dwelling Spaces, Starship, and Shades of Brown; $15 at the door.

MORE: From a review of JFJO's Los Angeles performance with songstress Annie Ellicott:

Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey originated in Oklahoma, which is not as improbable as it might seem given the state's paternity of Bob Wills, Jay McShann and Leon Russell -- genre mixers all....

Funny, I never thought of JFJO as a chops band till now, but that's because their records succeed in sounding casual while they pull together some quite amazing combinations. Live, Haas shows why he was originally regarded as a teen prodigy: Flinging hands and elbows high and wide, he attacks the keyboard with possessed inspiration and precision, his rhythms sloshing with Russian passion amid the relaxed framework of Raymer's pattering kitwork. Hayes is a more foundational bassist than his predecessor, Reed Mathis; he's also the author of "David," a flowing ballad that merges into some kind of tango. As the wild card, Combs indeed makes a winning hand out of just about anything as he slides his steel into all the right places, causing high-concept art to blossom into dimensions of color and smoke. Picking him up was a very, very smart choice....

Walk for Roscoe Turner

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Roscoe_driller-sm.jpgFormer District 3 City Councilor Roscoe Turner is trying to regain his seat on the City Council, a seat lost in 2008 to David Patrick.

Patrick quit in 1998 to run for State House; Turner won the November special election. Patrick beat Turner in the 2002 Democratic primary, then lost to him in the 2004 primary revote, a revote required because of election irregularities that rendered the outcome of the original primary mathematically uncertain. In 2008, Patrick ran as an independent and won. The move caught many District 3 voters by surprise; they were used to the primary being the main event.

If past history is any measure, Patrick will have far more funding than Turner. Patrick receives a lot of out-of-district money in gratitude for his willingness to toe the line for the Chamber, the development lobby, and the other special interests that make up the city's establishment. During this term of office, Patrick was flown back on Mayor Kathy Taylor's Lear 31 from his farm in Colorado to vote for her downtown ballpark assessment district deal. Patrick also angered his constituents by failing to keep them in the loop regarding the Mental Health Association's residence for the long-term homeless at Admiral and Yale.

Turner is dependent on grassroots support. Over the years, he's gained the respect and admiration of Tulsans across the political spectrum for standing up for neighborhoods and homeowners -- not only in his own district, but all over Tulsa -- opposing tax increases for frivolous purposes, and backing the interests of City of Tulsa residents rather than giving into a perverted sort of "regionalism" that asks the central city to defer to the welfare of the suburbs.

There's a third candidate, Karl Hulcher, who won the Republican nomination by default in this strongly Democratic district. Not for the first time, the District 3 Republican nominee has a long list of recent legal run-ins, including a conviction for second-degree arson and DUI. (Here is a fascinating article on 2002 District 3 Republican nominee John L. Westbrook.)

Tulsa needs Roscoe Turner back on the City Council. With our mayoral choice largely limited to Tweedledee and Tweedledum, it's especially important to have councilors who will stand up for ordinary Tulsans, for transparency in government, for a focus on basic government services, and for neighborhoods.

If you'd like to help Roscoe Turner return to office, call him at 834-7580 and ask how you can help. Knocking on doors and distributing literature is one very important way you can help Roscoe overcome his opponent's funding advantage. Groups of volunteers will be going out this Saturday and every Saturday from here to the election. Your donations would also be gratefully received. (You can give through the PayPal button on the website.)

MORE: My column on the District 3 race in 2008 is worth a re-read.

(Am I worried about the consequences of endorsing a Democrat on future political ambitions? I don't have any, but even the most rock-ribbed Republican wouldn't expect me to endorse someone with the checkered past of the party's nominee, and Turner is far more fiscally conservative than his independent opponent. Anyway, endorsing a Democrat for city office will get you endorsed by former Republican County Chairmen. Your mileage may vary -- that may only work if you have a few million in the bank.)

Kol Nidre online

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In college I became a brother of Zeta Beta Tau, a historically Jewish fraternity that became non-sectarian in the '50s. About a third of the brothers in our chapter were Jewish. They came from all over the country, from different backgrounds and had widely different approaches to religious observance. From the brother taking time out from the chapter retreat for Sabbath prayers to the brother who made himself a matzoh, ham, and cheese sandwich during Passover, the experience allowed me to see the diversity within the Jewish faith lived out on a daily basis.

The one observance that united everyone every year was Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, a day of fasting, corporate prayer, and confession of sin. This year the fast begins before sunset this coming Sunday, September 27, 2009.

The ZBT house was within walking distance of three or four synagogues, but many Jews don't live with reach of a synagogue or won't be able to attend for some reason. Those serving in the US military overseas, for example, may find themselves in a country where Jewish public worship is not permitted.

For those who for some reason can't physically attend services, the Jewish TV Network is offering, for the third year, a live online broadcast of Kol Nidre, the service that inaugurates the fast day.

The service will be live online at at 9 p.m. Eastern time, 6 p.m. Pacific and will be available on-demand following the conclusion of the service. Last year's service ran about two and a half hours.

Last year about 220,000 people watched the service from all over the U.S. and Canada and beyond.

Some of the testimonials in the press release were especially touching:

"My father was recently diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. It is likely that this will be our last High Holy Days together. This broadcast allowed my father, my daughter and I to share the High Holy Days together. I wish I could have shown you my father sitting and watching your broadcast while holding the hand of his granddaughter." - Kathy

"Being a part of your congregation tonight made me feel as if my dreams of finding the perfect synagogue finally came true. The music, the outstanding musicians, the Rabbi and the sermon, the excitement of the congregation made the spirit of Yom Kippur come alive for me. I spent this night at home with my mother who is 90 years old, partially blind, feeble, fragile and too weak to go to a traditional service. We spent the evening together, watching and listening from the computer in my bedroom. Although we were alone, it was as if we were united with your entire congregation, and we didn't feel alone at all." - Janice and Millie

"Thank you so much for providing a sanctuary for me. I could feel my father (deceased) standing next to me; I could smell his suit and the hint of his cologne. I could feel the presence of God's arms around me just as I did as a child and young adult when I attended Yom Kippur services." - Melissa

The service will be led by Rabbi Naomi Levy of Nashuva, a Los Angeles based Jewish community. From the press release:

Nashuva offers a passionate, highly engaging service complete with a dynamic, seven member, multi ethnic, multi racial "band" that adds inspirational, modern takes on traditional prayers and hymns. Nashuva is based in Los Angeles and is as much a social action organization as it is a house of prayer.

With the intent to connect with Jews of all denominations, Levy founded the Nashuva organization to reach people who may not be part of the conventional Jewish structure. Unlike any other conservative Rabbi, Levy presents a whole new approach to Jewish prayer that includes elements of global sounds, meditation, dance and translations of Hebrew prayers that are rarely experienced.

For those of us Christians who know Jewish worship only through the pages of the Bible, the webcast is an opportunity to learn about modern observance of this most holy of holy days.

(Thanks to my Twitter pal Esther Kustanowitz for the information about the online Kol Nidre service.)

An update from an earlier entry: Back on September 9, I wrote about a press release from the Dewey Bartlett Jr campaign claiming that Tom Adelson attacked him in a KRMG interview the morning after the primary and then claiming that Adelson said Gov. Brad Henry should be shot for supporting a tax cut. As I documented, that's not what Adelson said.

An honorable candidate would have enough sense of shame to drop a line of attack once it's shown to be false. (Not just misleading. False.) I guess the attack on Adelson poll-tested well, because Bartlett Jr has doubled down and is using it as the theme of a TV ad. (Via the KRMG Morning News blog, which also has audio of Adelson's alleged attack on Bartlett Jr.)

The tag line says, "Tom Adelson, just another politician slinging mud, and raising taxes." Hmm. With this ad, Bartlett Jr is slinging mud. We already know about Bartlett Jr's support for a significant and unnecessary tax increase.

MORE: Forgot this gem from the Bartlett Jr campaign's press releases:

Tulsans awoke early on Wednesday morning, Sept. 9, to Tom Adelson personally launching a scud missile attack on Dewey Bartlett, who Tulsans have always known to be a gentleman and a local businessman.

Bartlett Jr a gentleman? His mendacious attack on Adelson certainly isn't gentlemanly. And something about trying to take any claim to the family home away from the wife you're divorcing strikes me as caddish. (But I'm sure that's just old fashioned of me.)

And "scud missile attack"? The comment in question was near the end of the interview, at about 2:40, in response to a question from Rick Couri asking what would surprise voters.

I think that Dewey has a tax and spend record that would embarrass any big-spending liberal. He's probably a little more liberal than I am when it comes to fiscal responsibility, so people may be a little bit surprised about our different records. I'm the only candidate in the race that's actually voted for tax cuts. I've coauthored an effort to repeal the sales tax on groceries, which was not successful, but I tried. And I voted for tax relief a number of times when I thought it made sense. And I've been responsible for a budget and several health agencies which required us to perform performance reviews every year, so I'm very accustomed to making the tough choices between one state service versus another and trying to prioritize, so I have a lot of experience doing that.

Pretty mild stuff, and mostly Adelson making the case that he's a fiscal conservative.

STILL MORE: Commenter Richard spots another oopsie -- that isn't Tulsa that Adelson's head is "dividing" at the beginning of the commercial. KRMG's Joe Kelley appears to have found the skyline photo of Oklahoma City that was used in the ad. Judge for yourself.

Goodbye Tulsa has a remembrance of Betsy Horowitz by her son Andrew. Betsy Horowitz was a Maple Ridge neighborhood activist who was part of the successful fight to stop construction of the Riverside Expressway through her neighborhood in the 1970s. She moved to the Dallas area a decade or so ago, and she passed away earlier this year.

I only met Mrs. Horowitz once and that only briefly -- her daughter Jean Ann was a classmate of mine at Holland Hall, and the Horowitz home in Maple Ridge was one of the sites of the Junior-Senior party. But I heard plenty about Betsy during the mid-seventies. It wasn't unusual for one or more Holland Hall parents or alumni to be serving on the City Commission or running for office, and my group of friends paid more attention to politics at every level than was usual for middle school boys. (On my bulletin board through the summer and fall of 1974: The list of candidates for state office from the Tulsa Tribune.)

What I knew about Betsy Horowitz was filtered through the local newspapers and the KRMG morning show. At best, these sources told me, Betsy was a joke, an overweight loudmouth. Her son Andrew mentions that people connected her with feminist Bella Abzug, an outspoken feminist of the day.

At worst, she was a dangerous obstructionist, standing in the path of progress. As a map-obsessed kid, I was all about seeing the dashed "proposed" lines on the map turn into broken, colored "under construction" lines and ultimately into solid, completed freeways. Anyone standing in the way of that was by definition a Bad Person, so it was easy for me to fall in with the conventional view.

I don't know if it was an actual news report or just a silly rumor that she had had her mouth wired shut as part of a liquid diet weight loss plan, but the conventional wisdom was that this was a good thing and wouldn't it be nice if it were permanent. (I'm not the only one who remembers this.)

My other vivid memory of Betsy's political career is her radio ad for one of her mayoral campaigns. A parody of Charlie Rich's crossover country hit, the lyric ran, "Betsy will stop what goes on behind closed doors." The ad communicated a problem that persists today at Tulsa's City Hall -- a hallmark, in fact, of Mayor Taylor's administration -- with deals being done behind the scenes and presented to the public and their representatives as a fait accompli for their ratification.

It's easy now to see that Betsy Horowitz was a valiant defender of neighborhoods against heedless destruction in the name of moving cars around. She and her allies not only stopped a freeway, but they made the renaissance of Maple Ridge possible and gave us the start of Tulsa's extensive trail system.

The Riverside Expressway's route was conceptualized in 1956, but firmly set in 1962. The expressway was planned to follow the Midland Valley Railroad right-of-way from Riverside Drive to the southeast interchange of the Inner Dispersal Loop. If you want to see the path of the expressway -- where the exits were planned, what buildings would have been sacrificed -- there's an atlas in the Central Library map case:

Comprehensive functional plans for the long range highway needs for Tulsa, Oklahoma; Tulsa metropolitan area expressway system. Prepared under the direction of the Oklahoma State Highway Dept. in cooperation with U.S. Dept. of Commerce, Bureau of Public Roads.

As you drive the boulevards of Maple Ridge today, it's easy to forget that the district was not always popular and beloved. In the post-war period, Tulsans of every class wanted new, and wealthy Tulsans built homes along the ridge to the south-southeast, toward Southern Hills Country Club. With an expressway planned, Maple Ridge homes could very well have followed the pattern of big, old homes in urban neighborhoods in other cities -- subdivision into apartments and slow decay. Many Maple Ridge homes were badly "wreckovated." It wasn't until the expressway was off the map that the cachet of Maple Ridge began to return.

The Goodbye Tulsa piece links to a Wayne Greene column about Betsy Horowitz in the Tulsa World from 2008 which begins:

Is it safe to say something nice about Betsy Horowitz yet?

She's been gone from Tulsa 11 years now. Has enough time passed that her many enemies -- and many, many friends -- are willing to listen to someone say she was right about at least one thing?

Evidently it takes being dead or at least long gone from Tulsa, and no longer a threat to anyone's big plans, before it's safe to credit a naysayer with being right. The same column points readers to Wayne Greene's blog entry explaining why it's OK to praise Betsy Horowitz's neighborhood activism while damning White City resident's opposition to the Tetched Mahal on the other side of I-244. (I have a feeling I'll get some grief over that epithet, but I think it's a good pun, so it stays.) There are certainly distinctions, but the arguments Greene puts forth in support of the activists who fought the Riverside Expressway would have been torn apart as obstructionist nonsense by his predecessors on the World editorial page.

At root, the White City and the Maple Ridge activists are both about trying to preserve the quality of life in a neighborhood against plans that sacrifice that quality of life for the sake of some presumed greater good. The usual arguments against the neighborhood are that the impact on quality of life won't be as great as the homeowners fear, that the homeowners are selfish for putting their own desires ahead of the needs of the general public, and that the plans have been on file at the "local planning department in Alpha Centauri for fifty of your Earth years, so you've had plenty of time to lodge any formal complaint and it's far too late to start making a fuss about it now."

I'm reminded of World editorial writer Ken Neal's sendoff to Vince Sposato, a New York-born troublemaker like Betsy Horowitz, an opponent of urban renewal who was actually displaced by an expressway, and a frequent candidate for office. The World's obit states:

His love of politics was born from a love of people, according to his family.

In the 1950s, he championed civil rights and special educational needs. In the 1960s, he fought against urban renewal and the taking of people's homes without just compensation.

In 1974, Sposato found himself fighting for his own home. The city had condemned the property because it was needed for part of the construction of the Inner Dispersal Loop. Sposato eventually lost his fight for the house that he and his wife had owned for 22 years.

At the time, I advised the members of the Reform Alliance on the City Council, who were facing sharp criticism for not rolling over on the issue of suburban water service, not to hold their breath waiting for the approval of the Whirled: "If you want the Whirled to say something nice about you, drop dead."

It's interesting that both Horowitz and Sposato came to Tulsa from New York, where confrontation in politics and in daily life is a given. Tulsa needed, and still needs, dissidents who are willing to be pushy and willing to be called obnoxious. I'm sure they were told numerous times, as I've been told, that they needed to tone it down, work within the system, don't ruffle feathers, don't rub people the wrong way. They probably did try that, and they no doubt learned that playing nice only makes it easier for your cause to be ignored. And when you stand up for something and are persistent, you are going to be called angry, obsessed, rude, etc., even if you are as pleasant as can be. Every "troublemaker" on the City Council started out trying to work within the system, convinced that the previous troublemakers failed by not being nice enough.

A comment on one of the World stories, posted by a sometime commenter here, challenges the significance of Betsy Horowitz's leadership role in stopping the Riverside Expressway. I have no doubt that the legal challenge of which he writes was essential. But politics doesn't stop at the courthouse door, and without Horowitz's willingness to call public attention to the issue and to take a heap of ridicule as her pay, I doubt the court challenge would have been successful. (I would love to know more specifics about the court case.)

In the midst of ragweed season, I should mention one other significant contribution made by the Horowitz family to Tulsa's quality of life: Dr. Leon Horowitz, Betsy's husband, was a founder of the Allergy Clinic of Tulsa.

Wayne Greene wonders when it's safe to praise a naysayer. I'm wondering when it's permissible to fix blame on the individuals and institutions who, time and again, pushed schemes that the naysayers rightly warned against. Why do we never give due credit to those who were right and due blame to those who led us to disaster?

MORE: Tulsa District 7 City Councilor John Eagleton recalls that in 1968, after he was hit and dragged by a car as he was crossing 21st Street on his walk to Lee School, Betsy Horowitz took up the cause of school crossing safety and school zones. (He heard about this second-hand, as he spent the Summer of Love in a body cast.)

In my Ignite Tulsa talk on the "Greenwood Gap," I mentioned in passing the physical indications of the rebuilding and flourishing of Tulsa's African-American district after it was burned in 1921 by a white mob. I would have included photos of some of those signs, and I had some that I'd taken, but I couldn't find them, so earlier today I took some more, finding dates on buildings, on cornerstones, and on commemorative plaques that tell the story of Greenwood's post-1921 resurgence. (Click that link to view the set on Flickr.)

The churches, and the dates on their cornerstones, beg the question: If there wasn't a rebuilt neighborhood nearby, why were the churches rebuilt there? (Further, why did congregations build newer fancier buildings in the late '50s and early '60s?) (NOTE: In the olden days, churches were built in neighborhoods and people traveled short distances to church. They weren't set up like consumer-oriented big-box stores with huge parking lots, isolated from neighborhoods.)

Here's the Williams Building at 102 N. Greenwood Ave., rebuilt in 1922, after the building previously on that site was destroyed by the riot. Note the year above the name of the building.

Williams Building, 102 N. Greenwood Ave., Tulsa, rebuilt in 1922

After the jump, you'll see the plaque set in the sidewalk next to the building, and two more plaques -- one on the entrance to the Mabel B. Little Heritage House and the other on the entrance to the Greenwood Cultural Center.

Thanks to the organizers, speakers, and audience for last night's Ignite Tulsa event. It was a great experience, and I only wish I could have stayed through the entire program -- family needs called me home shortly after I spoke. I'm happy I had the chance to come back to the afterparty and chat with many very interesting folks. More to say about the total Ignite Tulsa experience later.

Someone asked if the source material for my talk is online. A lot of it is already, in past BatesLine entries. I plan to post links to key articles and go into detail on my sources. For now, if you're impatient, Google Greenwood on this site.

When an OSU professor wrote a response to my 2007 column on the Greenwood gap, challenging the factual basis for what I wrote and my conclusions, I responded by detailing my sources, which may be of interest here (this is the original reply, not the edited version that appeared in the paper):

I'm always pleased to know that someone has given one of my columns a close and critical reading, as OSU Political Science Professor J. S. Maloy has done with my column on the rise and fall of the Greenwood district. This aspect of Tulsa history is important but overlooked, so I welcome his interest. I empathize with his disappointment that so little of Greenwood remains. My column was an attempt to use available evidence to explain why things are the way they are.

The issues he raises deserve a detailed and specific discussion: Which level of government is to blame for Greenwood's second destruction; whether Greenwood was rebuilt after the riot and how the reconstruction was funded; whether local officials in 1921 took a free market approach to rebuilding Greenwood; the role of racism in the city's treatment of Greenwood; and whether the free market is to blame for the lack of progress in Greenwood since urban renewal.

I agree with Maloy that what our city has done to Greenwood is a self-inflicted wound. I should have made it more clear that city officials made the decisions to route I-244 through the heart of Greenwood and to bulldoze most of the rest of it in the name of urban renewal. The Federal Government only supplied the funds to carry out the city's plans.

Prof. Maloy expresses doubt that Greenwood was fully restored following the riot. An examination of the sources I used in researching my column will confirm that it was.

He can read for himself the recorded memories of Greenwood residents contained in the books I cited: Black Wall Street, by Hannibal Johnson, and They Came Searching, by Eddie Faye Gates, both residents of Tulsa and active in the community.

He can visit the mapping department of the Indian Nations Council of Governments (INCOG), 201 W. 5th St., Suite 600, and view historical aerial photographs, such as the one from 1951 which ran with my column.

He can go to the 4th floor of Central Library and page through the shelf of Polk City Directories and Cole Cross Reference Directories, dating back to 1911, which list residences and businesses street by street, ordered by house number. With the help of a pre-1960 street map (urban renewal destroyed much of the street grid), he can trace the year-by-year evolution of commercial avenues like Greenwood and Lansing and the district's more residential side streets.

He can explore the Sanborn Fire Maps, which document location, footprint, number of stories, and types of buildings for use in fire insurance risk assessment. They were kept up to date until the early '60s as buildings were built and demolished.

Maps for the entire state are available to cardholders on the Tulsa Library website ( ://

Select the map set for Tulsa that says 1915-July 1926 (that's a typo -- it's really July 1962), and then take a look at sheets 9, 33, 50, 55, 82, 90, and 91. An earlier map set, dated 1915, will illustrate what Greenwood was like in the years before the riot.

Maloy mentions Tee's Barber Shop, located in one of the handful of Deep Greenwood buildings that were spared from urban renewal. The next time he's there, he should notice the markers in the sidewalk which show where businesses were located before the riot. He'll see that many of the markers contain the words "reopened" and "rebuilt."

If he'll walk to the corner of Greenwood and Archer and look up to the west, he'll see the year "1922" -- a year after the riot -- carved above the name "WILLIAMS BLDG." The plaque in the sidewalk explains that Williams, who also owned the Dreamland Theater across the street, was the first to rebuild all of his properties after the riot.

So if we can agree that Greenwood was fully rebuilt after the riot, the question becomes how.

Maloy is correct that there was very little aid from the government and white charities. It makes it all the more impressive that the African-American community was able to rebuild, but they were determined and they did. African-Americans in other cities raised money to assist Greenwood's reconstruction, and Greenwood's own residents worked, scrimped, saved, provided mutual assistance, and expended sweat equity to rebuild.

Maloy is incorrect in stating that city officials in 1921 took a laissez-faire attitude toward Greenwood. The democratically-elected City Commission of the time tried to use government regulation -- a fire ordinance -- to prevent Greenwood residents from rebuilding. Attorneys from the community challenged the ordinance and won an injunction, clearing the way for reconstruction. (Joe Lockett v. the City of Tulsa -- see pp. 87-88 of Scott Ellsworth's Death in a Promised Land.)

Maloy says that I overlook the role of racism in the history of Greenwood, but I think my references to segregation, racist mobs of white looters, and a city government that wanted to remove blacks to a new district beyond the city limits point clearly enough to the racism behind those actions.

Some urban renewal advocates may well have been motivated by racism, but some proponents were well-intentioned progressive activists trying to bridge the gap between Tulsa's black and white communities. The story of Tulsa's Model Cities program deserves to be explored in depth, and I would welcome the chance to talk to those with first-hand knowledge.

Finally, Prof. Maloy wants to know why the "Do-It-Yourself approach" which worked to rebuild Greenwood after the 1921 riot hasn't worked in the 40 years since urban renewal and the construction of I-244.

It's simple: After 1921, the land remained in private ownership, and the victims of the riot could rebuild what had been burned down.

But in the '60s and '70s, urban renewal took the land out of private ownership. Most of the south end of the district is still owned by some government entity. The urban renewal authority has sold some of the land in the northern part back to private owners, but mainly for residential and industrial development. There is no land available for new commercial development.

For example, if you wanted to rebuild the Holloway Building at 350 N. Greenwood Av. (home, in 1957, to Holloway's Hardware and Appliances, Holloway Dental Laboratory, a doctor's office, and an advertising and painting company), you'd have to fill in a pond, and you'd have to get permission from Prof. Maloy's employer. OSU-Tulsa controls all of Deep Greenwood north of I-244, with the exception of two churches and the City's Greenwood Cultural Center.

The commercial buildings between King and Pine Streets (including the Rex Theater) which faced Greenwood were cleared by urban renewal and replaced with suburban homes facing the side streets, many of which have been turned into cul-de-sacs. Only a few churches, Carver Middle School, the old Public Library (now a Unitarian Church), and a few homes remain from the pre-urban renewal days.

City officials created an industrial park out of the area between the Midland Valley and Santa Fe tracks and south of Pine, which once had been residential and commercial. (It had its own movie theater, the Regal, on Lansing Ave.) Morning Star Baptist Church and Hutcherson YMCA are about the only buildings in that area that survived urban renewal.

There is one part of Deep Greenwood which might yet be redeveloped, south of I-244 and northeast of Archer and Elgin. It is owned by the Tulsa Development Authority (the renamed urban renewal authority). There have been proposals for mixed-use development on that site, but the TDA has yet to approve any of them, to the consternation of many north Tulsa community leaders.

Maloy objects to comparing Greenwood to Cherry Street and Brookside. Contrary to his assumptions, big developers didn't produce the rebirth of those neighborhood commercial districts. Along with the adjoining residential areas they went through a period of decline before their rediscovery and renovation. About 20 years ago, aspiring small business owners looking for a place to operate found cheap and often run-down storefront space in the old buildings along Peoria and 15th Street. If Greenwood had been left standing, it too might have been rediscovered.

Prof. Maloy concludes by saying that "the free market will always indulge racism, ignorance, fear, and sheer pettiness of spirit in the name of profits. Only a democratic process--public investment constrained by public consultation--can do better."

But world history is full of examples of a majority oppressing a minority by means of the power conveyed by democratic processes, often by limiting the minority's ability to own property and to buy and sell freely.

It was a democratically elected (and Democrat-controlled) legislature that created Oklahoma's racist Jim Crow laws. Democratically elected officials abetted the pillaging and burning of Greenwood in 1921 and tried to block its reconstruction.

Private individuals, businesses, and churches rebuilt Greenwood after the riot. A democratically elected city government, using public funds, demolished almost all of it in the name of urban renewal. Admittedly, the democratic process was distorted because city officials at the time were elected on an at-large basis, but nevertheless the tyranny of the majority, not the free market, was at work.

The evidence is there for Prof. Maloy's perusal, if he cares to look.

Michael D. Bates

The PLANiTULSA draft vision document, which will serve as the foundation for a fully-elaborated comprehensive plan for the City of Tulsa, is online. You can read it online as separate web pages, or download the "Our Vision for Tulsa" PDF. It's only 50 pages long (with lots of photos), so please take time to read it, and then go online to provide your feedback.

Tulsa County Commissioners would like to know what should be done with Driller Stadium or the stadium site after the Tulsa Drillers move downtown. There's an online survey where you can rank possible options for using the existing stadium or for replacing it with some other kind of development.

Have you heard about federally-funded ACORN workers in several cities advising a prostitute and her pimp (actually undercover journalists) on how to conceal underage prostitution from the police and the IRS? If not, Jon Stewart's Daily Show segment on the topic makes for a quick overview:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
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Even though the scandal involves an organization closely allied with President Obama and the Democratic Party, Stewart doesn't flinch from the inescapable conclusion about ACORN, but instead calls mainstream journalism on the carpet for missing this story.

Where were the real reporters on this story?... You're telling me that two kids from the cast of "High School Musical 3" can break this story with a video camera and their grandmother's chinchilla coat, and you got nothin'? They did it for $3,000. That's Blitzer's monthly beard wet-back budget. It probably costs CNN that much just to turn on their hologram machine. I'm a fake journalist, and I'm embarrassed these guys scooped me.

The reason mainstream journalists weren't on the ACORN corruption story is because they didn't want to be.

Here's what ABC's Charlie Gibson thinks:

But Gibson told a radio show Tuesday morning that he wasn't familiar with the story -- and it might be "just one you leave to the cables."

ABC reporter Jake Tapper has filed some reports on the scandal, and Gibson was asked on WLS Radio's "Don & Roma Show" what he thought of the story.

"I don't even know about it," Gibson said, laughing. "So you've got me at a loss. ... But my goodness, if it's got everything, including sleaziness in it, we should talk about it in the morning."

When one of the radio show's hosts described it as a "huge issue," Gibson said ABC had "done some stories about ACORN before, but this one I don't know about."

For the full scoop on James O'Keefe and Hannah Giles' ground-breaking undercover investigation of ACORN, visit the ACORN category at


If you've ever wondered, "Is Michael Bates capable of expressing himself concisely?" you and I will both have a chance to find out tomorrow night, Thursday, September 17, 2009, at Ignite Tulsa. The event will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Blue Dome Diner, at 313 E. 2nd St., between Detroit and Elgin Aves. Admission is free, but Répondez, S'il Vous Plait.

Ignite Tulsa is a series of five-minute presentations on a variety of topics. Each speaker will have a slideshow with 20 slides, automatically advancing at 15 second intervals. Here's the list of presenters and topics (alphabetically by presenter's last name):

  • Be Nice. Don't be Rude or Sad by Chris Barton
  • The Greenwood Gap: Mythbusting pop history with contemporary documents by Michael Bates
  • How Not to be Waldo: Brands that Stand Out in a Crowd by Emily Campbell
  • Salvation in the Stacks: Tips, Rants, and a Patriotic Finale from a "Librarian 2.0" by Sarah Clark
  • If someone gives you roses you should be pissed off by Matthew Galloway
  • Visual Thinking: Boost Your Creative IQ by Sean Griffin
  • P2P Anti-Piracy: A Skunk Works History given by Dr. John Hale
  • Fighting Global Warming with Green Building by Craig Immel
  • Why Truth is Overrated by Jeff Martin
  • Top Ten Venture Capital Lies by William Paiva
  • The iPhone & Future of Art & VisCom In Tulsa by Ray Pearcey
  • Get your Head in the Cloud: Creating a lean organization by leveraging cloud computing by Nathan Phelps
  • How to tell your boss to %@$# Off! by Scott Phillips
  • Challenging Yourself by Geoffrey Thomas Simpson
  • The United Linen Story - how to market a 20th century company in the 21st century by Scott Townsend
  • Keeping Up with the Online Joneses by Brad Vernon
  • Brain Research in Tulsa by William R. Yates, MD

I'll be talking about the post-1921 history of Greenwood and the sources of information that can debunk historical myths and tell us about the mostly-vanished African-American city-within-a-city. (I covered this topic in my June 13, 2007, column, "The Rise and Fall of Greenwood," but there will be some new angles and info in Thursday's talk.)

PLANiTULSA's draft vision, developed by Fregonese Associates in response to the PLANiTULSA scenario survey, will be available after 2 p.m. today, September 15, 2009, at City of Tulsa planners are seeking feedback on the draft, which is not a detailed comprehensive plan, but a first step in that direction, defining in broad terms what kind of development is desired and where. An open house on the vision and small area concepts will be held at the Greenwood Cultural Center a week from Wednesday, September 23, 2009, from 4:30 to 8 p.m., with formal presentations at 5:30 and 7.

It will be interesting to see if the draft vision emerges as an issue in the ongoing City of Tulsa elections.

Also, tonight (September 15, 2009), the Oklahoma Department of Transportation will hold a public meeting about Tulsa's place on a high-speed rail corridor tonight at 6 p.m., at the Aaronson Auditorium at Central Library in downtown Tulsa. Meanwhile, last week, ODOT began demolishing the platforms and rail yard of Oklahoma City's Union Station. Oklahoma rail activist Tom Elmore comments:

If "High Speed Rail" and an Oklahoma hub are important enough to ODOT that it would seriously apply for "2 billion federal dollars," then why isn't saving the OKC Union Station rail hub at 300 SW 7th an even greater priority? (ODOT contractors started destroying the rail yard there last week -- the "week of 9-11-09.")

ODOT's clear message? If Oklahomans are going to have advanced surface transportation, they're going to have to pay ODOT's favored contractors for it "at least twice..." (We're being forced to pay those contractors to destroy magnificent, 8-block-long OKC Union Station yard -- and we'll be forced to pay to build a new one, of predictably lower quality, if they ever actually get around to that!) ... or are they just using an "alleged interest" in High Speed Rail to cover their crimes at OKC Union Station?

Time for Oklahomans to demand answers!

Last Thursday, KRMG's Joe Kelley interviewed Tulsa District 5 City Councilor-elect Chris Trail about his defeat of incumbent Bill Martinson. It was an interesting conversation. During the segment, Kelley mentioned his conversation with Trail at the Beer Summit, and that shortly thereafter, he was speaking to one of Trail's firefighter supporters, who said to Kelley, regarding Trail, "He's not real bright, but at least he's not Bill Martinson." A bit later (about 4 minutes in) Kelley mentions my blog post about Trail's previous residence, as recently as March 4, 2009, in the City of Sand Springs. Trail's reaction is worth hearing. (I've found that Fisherman's Friend helps with sudden coughing fits.)


After some more research, I suspect that Trail was unfamiliar with the municipal status of his former residence because he did not own it. My search of Tulsa County Clerk records did not turn up a transaction involving Trail for the parcel at his former address, nor for the residence specified on his filing papers. (I will caution that Tulsa County Clerk online records do not include street addresses, so while I was careful and feel fairly confident in my findings, it's possible that I misidentified the parcel with the address. A search of Tulsa County Clerk records naming Trail turned up parcels that are neither in his old subdivision -- Rolling Oaks Amended -- nor his new subdivision -- Magic Circle.)

MORE: Here's a link to the article that Joe Kelley mentioned:

In a right to work state, Tulsa firefighters used their newly won political influence to help oust an incumbent council member in a primary race. Prior to becoming involved the election was considered a lock but firefighters helped to bring attention to their plight and the political decisions of the council member.

This development is part of a growing trend of firefighters seeking to protect citizens from political cuts to public safety. It has been stated throughout history that it is impossible to run against public safety and win yet some elected officials attempt to do just that, making political decisions without thinking about the consequences for citizens and firefighters.

Some firefighters believe living in a right to work state means they have no voice. While the rules are different for now the opportunity is there to impact change using facts at the local level.

By the way, if you haven't tried KRMG's new audio player, try it out on the collection of interview clips from recent editions of the KRMG Morning News. Unlike the previous player, the new one works well in Firefox and so far has worked every time. Good job.

MORE: Joe Kelley had this to tweet a couple of hours after the interview ran:

The Tulsa Fire Union leader apparently doesn't like my Q's to Chris Trail. He called our News Room w/a msg for me.

TulsaGal has been posting scans of past Tulsa ephemera on her blog. The latest scan is of a little 16-page magazine called This Week in Tulsa, December 31, 1948 edition. Recently she posted a copy of the competing magazine, The Downtowner, from March 19, 1948. The magazines had ads for nightlife, restaurants, theaters, and more mundane retailers. Where possible, she's ferreted out photos from the Beryl Ford Collection of the places that advertised in the two magazines.

As an interesting point of comparison, Iowahawk has scans of a similar, but much racier, 16-pager serving the Chicago convention business: The April 3, 1959, edition of Night Life in Chicago.

MORE FUN TULSA EPHEMERA: Irritated Tulsan has a promotional flyer for Scene2News from the 1970s, handed out at the Tulsa State Fair, featuring Jack Morris, Jerry Webber, and John Hudson. When I see a clock that shows 10 pm, sometimes there's a voice that booms out in my head, "IT'S TEN O'CLOCK! JACK MORRIS NEWS TIME!"


Photo by Daniel Hickman.

On Saturday I went to a barbecue with lots of good food and a wide variety of people. One of the highlights of the day was a lesson in the economics of downtown preservation and demolition.

In the midst of a political discussion across the table with someone I knew, the lady to my right found a break in the conversation to tell me that she tore down the old Page-Glencliff Dairy. She encouraged me to post the story of the building's demise on this website.

Her name is Elenore "Snowie" Roberts. She and her late husband Raymond Roberts owned the building, which was most recently occupied by Fields Downs Randolph. It has been vacant for many years.

Mrs. Roberts told me that her husband wouldn't be happy to learn of the demolition, but he's gone on to heaven. It had been getting too expensive to insure the building, pay the taxes, and keep the building secured against squatters. (They thought they had the building secured but they found someone who got in somehow and was living on the top floor.) Paying the ballpark assessment -- a per-square-foot rate on that enormous old building -- on top of everything else was too much.

People told her she should convert it into lofts, but she didn't have that million-plus it would take to do the renovations, and no one else had the money either.

The building was on the market, but for most of the last few years it was under option to Global Development Corp, which had planned to build a stadium and mixed use development on the eastern edge of downtown, and then to John Williams, the Claremore developer who had been working on Wal-Mart, offices, and residential development in the area. While those plans were pending, it wasn't available, even if someone had wanted to buy it and renovate it.

Mrs. Roberts hired a company out of Oklahoma City to take the building down. They would clear away all the concrete, even the basements, down to the dirt, take away the concrete, grind it down and recycle it as roadbuilding material. Another company she considered would only go four feet down and then fill it in with dirt. It was a sturdy building, and leaving the foundation might cause problems for the next building to go up on the site. She said that during the demolition many folks who used to work at the dairy came by to ask of a brick as a memento.

With the building pulled down, the property taxes are much lower (no improvements on the site) as is the ballpark assessment. She only has to pay a small amount of liability insurance. There are no more expenses to keep the building secured against intruders. Mrs. Roberts is hopeful that the land will be more attractive to potential buyers now that the building is not an obstacle to redevelopment. She thinks it would be a great place for a new Central Library. I told her that Jamie Jamieson has been talking up that idea for several years.

I don't like to see buildings pulled down, but it's hard to fault Mrs. Roberts for taking that step. The building couldn't be occupied without expensive renovation. Anyone buying the land from her would either have to pay to fix up the building or to tear it down themselves. Even if she had given the building away, there would have been few potential owners in a position to cover those costs.

I hate downtown demolition, and I wish it would stop. But it's important for those of us who are preservationists to recognize the pressures that make demolition the best of a series of bad options. Local building and fire codes, Federal laws on asbestos and accessibility, property taxes that go down when the building is gone, courts that punish building owners for injuries incurred by vandals and trespassers, and special assessments that take no account of the marketability of the building -- all of these add to the cost of keeping a building standing.

While the demolition of the Page-Glencliff Dairy was an unintended consequence, it was not unforeseen. Councilor John Eagleton, who voted against the Tulsa Stadium Improvement District and the assessment roll, asked me to pass this message from him along with Mrs. Roberts's story:

"I told you so."

MORE: A reader writes with an analysis of the cost savings that Mrs. Roberts will realize by tearing down the building:

Tax Parcel: 00500-92-01-41420
Tax Year: 2008
Annual Tax: $9,874
Land Assessment: $925,200
Improvement Assessment: $419,900
Total Assessment: $1,345,100

% Improv: 31%
Taxable Assessment: $80,850
Lot Sq Ft: 92,517.084
Building Sq Ft: 95,361

Calculations for Tulsa Stadium Improvement District (TSID):

Annual land contribution to ballpark: 92,517.084sf x $0.043/sf = $3,978.23
Annual land contribution to street maintenance/cleaning: 92,517.084sf x $0.022/sf = $2,035.37

Annual bldg contribution to ballpark: 95,361sf x $0.043/sf = $4,100.52
Annual bldg contribution to street maintenance/cleaning: 95,361sf x $0.022/sf = $2,097.94

(I'm assuming that if the building's value was approximately 31% of the taxable assessment, then its part of the total tax was proportional.)

Annual bldg portion of the total tax: 419,000/1,345,100 x $9,874 = $3,082.36

Annual TSID assessment fee savings after bldg demo: $4,100.52 + $2,097.94 = $6,198.46

Annual tax savings (at year 2008 assessment and rate) after bldg demo: $3,082.36

Annual insurance premium savings after bldg demo: $ ???

Annual operation and maintenance savings after bldg demo: $ ???

KRMG's Joe Kelley was frustrated at the slow rate at which Tuesday night's City of Tulsa election results were available to the public. You can't find live results on the Tulsa County Election Board website. For state elections, the Oklahoma State Election Board does provide live results, updated periodically. Many other states provide live results from the local to the state level, often in great detail (e.g. presidential election results by county in Florida).

At 8 p.m. last Tuesday, Kelley fired off an e-mail to the Tulsa County Commissioners. Kelley has posted his e-mail and the reply from county and state election officials on his KRMG Morning News blog.

District 3 Commissioner Fred Perry replied to Kelley's e-mail, and Kelley clarified his concern:

My issue is not at all with the means of voting.

Instead, it's with the method the Election Board distributes the election results. In the high-tech, super-fast information era, that the Election Board website does not offer REAL TIME election results with embeddable applications, is just beyond belief. I have not spoken up sooner because I have just assumed that the technology was just moments away. Yet, I'm starting to realize I should have not made that assumption....

I'm not sure if the Election Board has noticed that we no longer send a reporter there on Election Day. In fact, I'm not aware of any reporters who do this. Instead, we have all found a way to work around the Election Board. Now, we send runners to the precincts and manually gather the info ourselves. Instead of utilizing the Election Board, KOTV and the other TV stations have gone out and bought software programs to circumvent the Election Board in compiling vote counts.

Kelley goes on to explain that local media outlets use runners to grab the results that are posted on the polling place doors shortly after the polls close, rather than waiting for the county election board to provide numbers. He points to Dallas County, Texas, and that election board's capability to provide real-time results.

Kelley gets replies from Shelley Boggs, Assistant Secretary of the Tulsa County Election Board, and Paul Ziriax, Secretary of the Oklahoma State Election Board, explaining the hardware currently in use, when it was put into service (procured in the late '80s, in service statewide for the 1992 election), how the statewide live returns are provided, and when a new statewide election computer system will be in place. From Boggs's reply:

The State Election Board is able to post statewide election returns over their website in state races by collecting date by modem from all County Election Boards. The state then goes through a very cumbersome process to connect the Vax system to a PC in order to connect this to their Internet site. Under the state's direction, the county offices do not have this hardware to allow the connectivity. It is my understanding the State Election Board does not want any hardware or software connected to their election system for security reasons. Unfortunately, the state does not provide election result compilation for local elections, only state elections.

Some further observations from my experience with state and county election results.

When I've requested results of past elections by precinct from the State Election Board, they send a CD with a bunch of PDF files. The PDFs are of the printouts from the election board computers. These printouts are formatted for printing on a band printer on greenbar paper, so they have page headers and footers, and it takes some extra programming and manual steps on my part to turn those into something I can put in a spreadsheet or database.

You can't even get that much from the county election board, which is the only source for municipal and school board results. For those, I've had to enter all the numbers manually from their printouts.

Tulsa County Election Board staffers have always been very helpful, patient, and accommodating when I've come in in search of past results.

On election night, it will always be faster to use runners than to wait for the election board's results. The poll workers have several minutes cleanup to do after they post the tape. They they have to take the ballot boxes and the tabulation card from the machine down to election board HQ. The process of getting the materials from poll worker's car into the building and into the computer takes even more time.

For the 2006 city primary, I went down to the election board to try to find out the numbers they had and which precincts had reported already, to get a sense of whether the early returns were from LaFortune's midtown stronghold or from the areas where Medlock was expected to do well. Gene Pace, the Election Board Secretary at the time, graciously let me sit at a terminal in his office, but all it could tell me were the totals -- not individual precinct numbers or which precincts were already in.

Often campaigns will have their own runners to grab the results. In 2002, when I last ran for office, I had campaign volunteers phone in results from one or two precincts nearest them before heading to the party. I personally walked across Cherry Street from the site of our watch party -- a house on Cherry Street that had previously housed a candle shop, where the Genghis Grill is now -- to the Precinct 48 polling place at Marquette School to get that result.

The TV stations had their own runners. While KOTV had me leading most of the night, I knew from the numbers being phoned in that I was on my way to defeat. As a result, my friends were having a much better time at the watch party than I was. I suspect that my evanescent lead on KOTV was the result of one or more transposition errors, either by runners reading numbers, call takers writing down the numbers from the runners, or data entry people typing them into the computer.

Chris Medlock noticed a similar anomaly from this year's primary.
On Wednesday, he and his wife were watching a TV show he had DVRed the night before. He noticed that the results on KJRH's coverage had him going backwards by 1,396 votes from one update to the next. More than likely, a data entry error (a couple of extra zeroes) was corrected. Bartlett's numbers went up between those two updates, but not by as much as you'd expect with an additional 15% of precincts reporting.

Last Tuesday, when results seemed slow coming in, I phoned a couple of council candidates to see if their runners had anything to report. Neither one was using runners and didn't know any more about results than I did. I suspect that they chose to enjoy a happy hour of food, drink, and the company of their friends and volunteers before they had to confront the results, good or bad.

Because I was in the KRMG newsroom with news director Dan Potter on primary night, I didn't have access to the individual precinct results that were being phoned in by KRMG/KOTV runners to the KOTV newsroom. This made it hard to tell, early on, whether the mayoral returns indicated a race that was truly too close to call. One of my Twitter pals responded to my last-minute appeal to "tweet the vote," sending in returns from two District 7 precincts; and Steven Roemerman texted me with a couple of precincts. The percentage of precincts reporting in each council district gave me a rough approximation of where in the city the returns were coming from, but I couldn't do a direct comparison to the same precincts four years earlier.

We won't have real-time returns anytime soon. Here's my dream for the general election in November -- Tulsa Twitterers would visit their local polling place and maybe one or two others and tweet the results. A web app would use the Twitter API to grab the relevant tweets, parse them into precinct results, and show the totals from the same precincts from the 2006 mayoral election and the 2004 state senate election.

It's rare that I say this, but I agree with the Tulsa Whirled editorial board. In a Wednesday editorial, they urged the defeat of a proposed charter amendment to have the City Council elected to staggered three-year terms, so that only a third of the council is up for re-election in any given year. The amendment will be on the November general election ballot.

Here are their objections:

First, it would perpetuate the current silliness of holding some municipal elections in odd-numbered years, when voter turnout will be low.

Further, it would shotgun the races over three years, meaning there will be less publicity about elections. Councilors will be able to run for re-election below the radar of public scrutiny.

And it would give councilors three-year terms instead of the current two years, making them less responsive to voters.

Finally, it would mean it would take three election cycles for voters to flush out a corrupt or inept council.

On the whole, it wouldn't be unreasonable to conclude that the change is designed to make the council more powerful and less accountable to voters.

I disagree with their disdain for municipal elections in odd-numbered years. Municipal issues deserve attention that they are unlikely to get in the midst of a presidential or gubernatorial campaign. Nevertheless, they are correct to point out that staggered terms make it harder to clean house and make it more difficult for voters and potential candidates to plan for the next opportunity to replace their councilor.

By the way, those very same factors are at work in our school board election process, but worse. In Tulsa, school board members serve four year terms, with two seats up each year, except for one year out of four when only one seat is on the ballot. In the suburbs, terms are five years, with only one seat open to change each year. The filing period, right after Thanksgiving, is in the midst of the Christmas season and always catches people unawares, a fact that likely explains the small number of candidates who file each year. Worse still, school board elections are non-partisan, which further depresses turnout; the lack of labels of any sort on the ballot is a deterrent to many voters. I look forward to the editorial board's endorsement of two-year terms for school board members, with all board members on the ballot at each election.

There's a theory that school administrators and bureaucrats like the staggered terms, because if a firebrand reformer should sneak through the defenses and get elected, the other members, having already been tamed and enculturated to The Way Things Have Always Been Done Around Here, will throw a wet blanket on his zeal. Staggered terms seem to have the same effect on authorities, boards, and commissions.

The same dynamic would be at work with staggered terms on the council. Far from making the council more powerful, it would make them less likely to challenge the Way Things Have Always Been Done at City Hall. From that perspective, it's surprising that the Whirled editorial writers would object to the idea.

The editorial goes on to note the legal problems with holding a September election in an even-numbered year, at a time when, it says, state law says "that during even-numbered years cities can't use the state voting system for elections in September." (Actually, state law -- 26 O.S. 13-101.1 -- says the county election board isn't required to run an election on a date other than those specified in 26 O. S. 3-101.) If the county election board wouldn't cooperate, as they probably wouldn't, given the expense, the city would have to staff polling places and either buy machines or else conduct a hand count of ballots.

On a related issue, a number of people have complained about this year's primary being the day after Labor Day. The city charter amendment that moved elections to the fall tied the primary and general election date to "the day specified by the laws of Oklahoma" in the months of September and November respectively. The relevant section of state law is 26 O.S. 3-101. This situation will occur two years out of every 28, when September begins on a Tuesday in an odd-numbered year. The next time is 2015, at which council and auditor are up for election, but not the mayor. After that, it won't happen until 2037, a mayoral election.

But to eliminate even those few occasions It would be a simple amendment to state law to change the September date from the second Tuesday to the Tuesday after the second Monday, thus avoiding the Labor Day problem altogether. The change would not only help Tulsa, but would benefit the whole state. No jurisdiction should be holding a special election the day after Labor Day.

My apologies for posting this so late, but perhaps a few of you who work downtown will see this early enough to attend. (Postdated to remain at top until the service begins.)

As it has every year since 2002, Trinity Episcopal Church at 5th & Cincinnati in downtown Tulsa will hold a service of remembrance at 8:46 a.m., Friday, September 11, 2009, which will include readings, music by a city-wide choir, and an address by Trinity's rector, the Rev. Stephen McKee.

MORE: Blogger "Allahpundit" was awakened in his downtown Manhattan apartment at 8:46 a.m. on September 11, 2001, by the sound of the terrorist-piloted airliner striking the north tower of the World Trade Center. He is recounting the day from his perspective on his Twitter account. The first entry is here. (Lori Z has put Allah's tweets in chronological order and added her own memories of the attack as she viewed it from the west bank of the Hudson River. [Fear not: Despite her blog's name, it is entirely safe for work.])

(UPDATED 2009/09/10 9:00 a.m. -- KRMG's Joe Kelley has audio of Adelson's alleged negative attack on Bartlett Jr -- see below.)

I guess it must be part of the Ahlgren & Holland playbook: Accuse your opponent of going negative before he actually has. Then you can attack your opponent while making it seem that he's attacking you. They did it to Chris Medlock last weekend, with a mailer that lied about Medlock having lied about opponents in previous campaigns.

The first negative shot fired in the Tulsa mayoral general election campaign came today from Republican nominee Dewey Bartlett Jr, who accused Democratic nominee Tom Adelson of going negative. I have been unable to find any media coverage of a negative remark by Adelson against Bartlett Jr, and the KTUL story did not mention whether Bartlett Jr provided details of the alleged attack. Here is the shot that Bartlett Jr fired at Adelson:

"Tom Adelson not only opposed the income tax reductions supported by Democrats and Republicans alike, he actually called conservative Democrat Brad Henry a "traitor who should be shot" because the governor supported the largest reduction in the state income tax in state history," Bartlett said.

Here's what Adelson actually said, back in May of 2006, according to a Tulsa World story:

Putting the annual state budget puzzle together got a little more complicated for Gov. Brad Henry on Tuesday.

His Democratic allies in the state Senate rebelled against a proposed tax-and-spending deal he announced with House Speaker Todd Hiett, R-Kellyville, on Monday....

For some Democrats on Tuesday, the issue seemed personal.

Sen. Tom Adelson, D-Tulsa, said he was so angry at the deal that he has asked Henry to return a $5,000 campaign contribution he had made to Henry's re-election campaign.

"I understand the historical observation is that we treat prisoners of war humanely but we shoot traitors," Adelson said.

Anyone with reading comprehension skills will understand Adelson's point: Those who are actively and honestly opposing you are easier to treat with kindness than allies who betray your cause.

At the time, the OCPA's Brandon Dutcher was reminded of Gov. Frank Keating's infamous "homicide" crack:

You'll no doubt recall that former Gov. Frank Keating got into all kinds of hot water when he suggested in 2000 that "homicide" might be the proper course of action for dealing with the state's largest labor union. A quick archives search turned up no shortage of stories and editorials in The Oklahoman, the Tulsa World, and the Journal Record mentioning the "homicide" remark. By contrast, the Adelson remark has (so far as I can tell) garnered but one sentence in one newspaper.

Now I realize that the remarks of a Governor are more newsworthy than the remarks of one state senator. And I realize that Sen. Adelson is a fine man and was merely joking (just as Gov. Keating was joking in 2000). But one has to wonder what the gatekeepers would have done if a conservative state senator had broached the idea of putting a bullet in a sitting Governor. Or if he had called him a "traitor." (After all, is it appropriate, especially in wartime, to use the word "traitor" over a mere policy disagreement?)

The gist of the Bartlett Jr press conference was that Adelson strongly objected to the 2006 state income tax cut, a tax cut that had the support of many Democrats (including Gov. Brad Henry) and nearly all Republicans. I feel sure that had Bartlett Jr won that 2004 election, he would have voted for the state tax cut.

Here in Tulsa, however, I can't recall a single local tax initiative that Dewey Bartlett Jr or Tom Adelson ever opposed. In fact, Bartlett Jr praised and voted in support of a settlement deal in the Great Plains Airlines default lawsuit. That deal resulted in additional property tax being levied on Tulsa's taxpayers to cover the settlement of over $7 million. Before casting his vote, Bartlett Jr praised Democratic Mayor Kathy Taylor, whom he also endorsed for re-election, for organizing the rotten deal for taxpayers. And Bartlett Jr backed a proposed city charter amendment that would have packed the City Council with more representation from areas favorable to higher local taxes.

MORE: KRMG's Joe Kelley asked the Bartlett campaign about Adelson's alleged negative attack:

I was informed that it was from Tom Adelson's interview with me at 8:23am Wednesday (9/09). I didn't recall anything specific from that interview that struck me as 'negative,' so I went back and re-listened.

Click here to hear Joe Kelley's interview with Tom Adelson from September 9, 2009.

Click here to go back to the start of this entry.

A few thoughts before turning in:

Thanks to news director Dan Potter and the KRMG news team for the chance to contribute to tonight's coverage of the primary election. It was a pleasure, and I look forward to the next opportunity.

Many thanks to Chris and Cheryl Medlock for their willingness to go through another election. It is not an easy process, especially to run as an underdog. I know that Chris attempted to find another viable conservative candidate to run for mayor, and he deserves credit for being willing to step forward when other candidates would not.

Congratulations to Rick Westcott and Bill Christiansen on winning their elections. I was especially pleased to see that outside money was unable to win the day in District 8.

Congratulations to Rocky Frisco for coming so close to a win over an incumbent on such a small budget. "Next time, definitely!" as the Soviet firing squad officer said to Mr. Pither.

Congratulations to Jim Mautino and Maria Barnes for their primary wins. The results in Districts 4 and 6 mean we'll have a rematch of the 2008 and 2006 elections respectively. (District 3, which did not hold any primary, will have its own rematch in November, as Roscoe Turner and David Patrick face off for the umpteenth time.)

Congrats to Liz Wright and Scott Grizzle for putting their names on the ballot. This was not their year, but they both have a heart for the city, and there will be other opportunities to serve.

Regarding District 5:

Nothing tonight was so discouraging as the thought that some of Tulsa's "civic leaders" would amass a huge amount of money to get rid of an intelligent, inquisitive, analytical councilor like Bill Martinson. It's as if they want us to have mediocre leadership. Maybe Kathy Taylor et al. are secretly working for Oklahoma City.

I said on air tonight that Chris Trail lived in the City of Sand Springs as recently as March 4, 2009. Trail said on air that that wasn't so.

I based my statement on the address he and his wife listed when they contributed $50 on March 4, 2009, to the Taylor for Tulsa campaign. That address is 7306 W. 35th St. That is the same address in precinct 801 at which Trail's wife Sarah was registered to vote as of June 1. That's a "Tulsa" address -- it uses the Tulsa street numbering system -- but it's nowhere near the city limits of Tulsa.

That address corresponds to Lot 2, Block 3 of Rolling Oaks Amended subdivision. Parcel number is 86705-9219-51495. According to the INCOG municipal boundary map and a map of Sand Springs corporate limits from the University of Oklahoma's Center for Spatial Analysis, the entire Rolling Oaks Amended subdivision appears to be within the corporate limits of the City of Sand Springs. There appears to be an unincorporated enclave just to the east, and it appears to correspond a group of unplatted 3/4-acre lots just east of Trail's old address. I will verify this when I next have access to the county land records database. (If I were looking up info on Oklahoma County, I could do that online right now.) I may also call the City of Sand Springs to verify when the subdivision was annexed. With a Tulsa address and zip code, living in the Berryhill school district, and with unincorporated land over the back fence, Trail just may not have been aware that he lived in the Sand Springs corporate limits.

UPDATE 2009/09/09: I have just confirmed with the Tulsa County Assessor's office that the parcel in question, 7306 W. 35th St., Chris Trail's address as recently as March 4, 2009, is in the City of Sand Springs, Berryhill School District.

Finally: Someone calling himself DCtransplant joined the TulsaNow public forum tonight and posted for the first and only time to call me "an embarrassment to the Republican Party." He hints that he's a professional Republican campaign operative who has worked recently in Washington, but I suspect he's some local, typing away in his mom's basement. Go read his rant and my response. Create an account and pipe up if the mood takes you.

I tweeted a thought this afternoon and expanded upon it on air tonight. Here's what a $50 filing fee bought the also-rans in the Mayor's race: the right to demand equal time on the radio, an automatic invite to a half-dozen or so forums and luncheons, where you can express your political views to a captive audience, and free food at those same forums and luncheons. In fact, I'll bet you could eat enough in free food to offset the $50 filing fee. That's not a bad deal for the also-ran candidate.

But it is a bad deal for the election process. This year, the presence of all these extra candidates prevented the voters from seeing a head-to-head debate between the serious contenders. Instead of a debate over the future direction of the city, voters got a quarter million dollars worth of fluff advertising and a few forums.

When the charter was approved in 1989, there was no filing fee. In 1998, voters approved a charter amendment requiring candidates to put down a $50 deposit (which you get back if you draw more than 15% of the vote in the first election in which your name appears on the ballot) or submit a petition with 300 signatures. You have to submit the petition if you want to run as an independent, since you're getting a bye to the general election ballot.

$50 seems to be a reasonable deposit for a council race, but the amount should be higher -- maybe $450 for citywide races like mayor and auditor. Ditto for the number of signatures -- you should need nine times as many signatures to file for a citywide race as you do for a district race. The charter should set a higher initial fee and state that the filing fee can be modified by ordinance, but the new rates would be effective only after an intervening election.

The aim of a fee is to deter frivolous candidates from cluttering up the debate. If you really intend to win a race for mayor, you're going to have to raise a lot more than $450.

Click the "continue reading" link to find links to helpful essays on BatesLine, voter information from the Tulsa County Election Board, multimedia, and candidate questionnaires galore, all to help you as you get ready to vote (post-dated to remain at the top until polls close).

Mayor: Medlock

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This has been a hard piece for me to write, which is why it's only now being posted. My apologies.

I endorsed Chris Medlock for Mayor in 2006, but if you had told me 18 months ago that I'd be voting for Chris Medlock for Mayor in 2009, I'd have said you were nuts. The KFAQ morning show was breaking up. The changeover resulted in the end of the almost five-year-run of my weekly segment on the show. Far more importantly, it led ultimately to the end of a long-form talk show devoted to local politics and mobilizing listeners to "stand up for what's right." While there were other factors in the tumult, Chris Medlock was at the center of it, and if he had been more willing to defer to his co-host in matters of disagreement, he and Gwen Freeman might still be on the air in the mornings and a dear friend might still be in town.

It turns out that Medlock was right when he warned newly elected city councilors in 2006 about the futility of playing nice with Kathy Taylor, the Chamber, and other entrenched interest groups, as they learned when they came under attack as soon as they began to ask questions and dissent from Taylor's line. But the way he warned them alienated those who were his allies. If it were just a matter of issues, those councilors might be endorsing him this year.

So while I acknowledge the defects in Medlock which were apparent in those and other situations and which have grieved me personally, Medlock is still the best choice on the ballot, and I'm voting for him today.

Chris Medlock is the only Republican candidate who has been and is on the right side of the important issues facing our city, the only one seems to understand the complexity of the problems the city is facing and the solutions we need to pursue. The same stubbornness that has been a hindrance in many ways has also helped him persist against the resistance of entrenched special interests.

What are the alternatives? Only three candidates have held elective office before; only two -- Bartlett Jr and Medlock -- have raised more than $40,000. Only two -- Bartlett Jr and Medlock -- have shown a base of support bigger than family and close friends.

Dewey Bartlett Jr has been on the wrong side of too many issues in recent years -- supporting at-large councilors in order to strengthen the hold on city government that his fellow Money Belt trust-funders have had for too long and to dilute representation for the rest of us. He praised and voted for a Great Plains AIrlines lawsuit settlement that appears to have been intended to cover some important personage's posterior, a settlement that resulted in a property tax increase for ordinary Tulsa citizens who were not under any legal obligation to bail out the creditors of the failed airline. He praised and endorsed for re-election Mayor Kathy Taylor, who led us into a money pit of a new City Hall and put together a ballpark deal behind the scenes, without full public scrutiny, then vilified the councilors that objected and wanted more time to scrutinize the plan. Bartlett Jr liked her performance well enough to endorse her even before he knew which Republicans would seek to unseat her. We don't need more of Kathy Taylor's leadership style.

Bartlett Jr's campaign has been devoid of content, and he has dodged one-on-one debates with his leading opponent. That tactic might carry him through the primary, but it won't work in the general against a skilled opponent who has already beaten him once in 2004, a year that was extremely favorable to Republicans.

Dewey Bartlett Jr will lose to Tom Adelson just as he lost to Adelson in 2004. An informal survey of yardsigns in Bartlett Jr's home turf of Maple Ridge and Terwilliger Heights shows about three Adelson signs for every sign of Bartlett Jr's. Adelson doesn't face a serious primary contest, and yet his supporters feel far more passionate and energized to help him win. Bartlett Jr will win District 9 in the primary, but many of his midtown voters today will vote for Adelson in November, just as they turned from LaFortune to Taylor in 2006.

Despite his famous name and massive campaign fund, Bartlett hasn't garnered the endorsement of any of the six Republicans on the City Council.

Bartlett Jr has been selling himself as a successful conservative businessman who knows how to create jobs. To me, he seems more like someone was born on third and thinks he hit a triple. Tulsa doesn't need another mayor who thinks that because granddaddy made a killing on oil, he is therefore the epitome of wisdom on economic development. By his own lawyers' statement, "despite Dewey's best managerial efforts, there was no enhancement in the value of Dewey's inherited estate..." during a period that included one of the longest and strongest bull markets in American history. His claims of creating jobs aren't reflected in the head count of his company, which seems to have remained stable at around 10.

Anna Falling has no business running for office, not with pending claims and lawsuits against herself and against her flagship non-profit, Cornerstone Assistance Network. Anna Falling says she wants to honor God with a creation display at the zoo. If Falling wants to honor God, the first thing she should do is pay her creditors, not force them to seek garnishment and asset hearings. Most of us have had financial problems from time to time, but it takes a lot of neglect to let a debt wind up in court. She's raised about $9,000 in campaign contributions, $5,000 from her own father. If she had raised it for her non-profit instead of her campaign, she could have already paid back most of the money she owed, and her creditors wouldn't have the ongoing expense of pursuing repayment through the courts. I don't know what she really thinks she's doing by running for office, but -- unless there was a burning bush and a shepherd's staff that turns into a snake as signs to confirm some new revelation -- God didn't tell her to run for office. It doesn't honor God to say that God told her to neglect her obligations and run for office.

Nathaniel Booth is a smart young man who has apparently been paying no attention whatsoever to city politics. My kids are better informed than he is on current issues at City Hall. He is intelligent and well spoken, and some day he may be ready to run for public office. Today is not that day.

The rest of the bunch -- Norris Streetman, Kevin Boggs, David O'Connor, Paul Roales, Michael Tomes, John Todd, Michael Rush -- all seem to be well-intentioned, and the first three are serious about running for mayor, but as I listen to them, it's clear that none of them grasp the complexities of leading a city government for nearly 400,000 residents.

When people describe a problem and how they would solve it, you can quickly get a sense of how capable they are of dealing with ambiguity and uncertainty in decision-making. You can see whether they grasp a problem in all its complexity and can craft a solution that will address the problem without creating a dozen more. Someone may be intelligent and yet not have kind of quality.

These candidates all seem to be possessed of the-one-big-idea syndrome. Listening to them at candidate forums is like listening to the uncle who goes on and on about politics at family gatherings. There's always one big idea, one key, and if only those politicians would implement it, it would fix everything. One-big-idea thinking has given us a fad-driven approach to addressing our city's problems, where we slavishly follow the example of some other city, without really understanding how the solution interacted with that city's peculiar qualities and how things would be different with Tulsa's unique situation. Downtown is an obvious example -- the one-big-idea approach has done more harm than good.

As I look back through mymock mayoral manifesto, I see that Medlock is in agreement with most of it. Unlike Bartlett Jr, Medlock has clear views on city issues, views that weren't just cooked up by consultants for the campaign, but that have been developed over years of direct engagement in local politics, either as a councilor or a commentator.

For all his thorny qualities, Medlock has stayed married for 30 years, through good times and bad, to Cheryl, a strong, intelligent, and likable woman. That's no easy feat, and it's to his credit (and hers, too) that they've managed it.

Comparing the 2006 campaign to the 2009 campaign shows some positive growth on Medlock's part. In 2006, he tried to run the whole thing himself and had a hard time letting go of the details. I haven't been involved in the 2009 campaign, but I've visited his headquarters, met Howie Morgan, his campaign manager, and talked with friends who have volunteered. This time around, it appears that Medlock has been able to leave the details of the campaign in the hands of Morgan and the other professionals and has focused his time and attention on the campaigning that only the candidate can do. The campaign seems to be much stronger than 2009, but it also has a bigger hill to climb -- a candidate with a quarter of a million bucks and a famous name.

Medlock is the only viable Republican candidate that offers a real contrast to the presumptive Democratic nominee Tom Adelson. An Adelson vs. Bartlett Jr race would be a battle between two residents of the Money Belt; Adelson vs. Medlock would give Tulsans the option of a mayor who grew up in the middle class, didn't have a trust fund, and doesn't live within a mile of Utica Square or belong to Southern Hills. Adelson vs. Bartlett Jr would be a yawner between two candidates who liked Kathy Taylor's tenure enough to support her re-election. Adelson vs. Medlock would give us a debate over whether to continue along the downward path of the last 20 years (and beyond) or to start in a new direction.

If elected, Medlock will have some fences to mend and some new leaves to turn over if he wants to be effective at leading the city. Still, Chris Medlock is the only Republican candidate with the intelligence and analytical ability needed to lead the city and the principles of governance to help him to lead it in the right direction. That's why I'm voting for Chris Medlock.

UPDATE 2009/11/08: I retract my previous retraction. I'm endorsing Preston Doerflinger for City Auditor. I am sorry that it has taken me this long to write about it here. (I don't retract my statements about his political consultants.)

UPDATE 2009/09/08: I just heard City Council candidate Chris Trail's radio ad unfairly attacking Bill Martinson. I'm sorry, but I can't vote for anyone who is a client of Karl Ahlgren or Fount Holland, as once again they are unfairly attacking an honest, intelligent public official at the behest of a deep-pockets client, just as they trashed DA Tim Harris in 2004. You may have also seen their mailer on behalf of Dewey Bartlett Jr, perpetrating a last-minute smear against Chris Medlock, lying by saying that he has lied about his opponents in previous campaigns. If Tom Coburn is paying attention to what his erstwhile staffers are up to, I'm sure he's disgusted. If Doerflinger makes it through the primary, he'll have to fire Ahlgren to convince me that he's worthy of my vote against Phil Wood.

There are two Republican candidates for Tulsa city auditor, seeking to challenge 21-year incumbent Phil Wood.

Preston Doerflinger, a young business owner, has run a very visible campaign, hitting all the candidate forums and raising and spending a ton of money, and evidently using the same campaign team as Dewey Bartlett Jr and Chris Trail.

Lynn Ruemler, a retired CPA, has filled out a few questionnaires but otherwise has not been out on the campaign trail.

Based on a Tulsa World story, it appears that both candidates share my dissatisfaction with the incumbent's level of assertiveness:

Ruemler, 52, said he was running because of his disappointment in how the Auditor's Office has handled a City Council-directed investigation into falsified firefighter-training records.

"It was like a burr under my saddle. I thought, 'I can do so much better than that and the city deserves so much better than that,'" he said.

That issue, coupled with the announcement that all city employees would be furloughed for eight days, solidified his decision, Ruemler said. "I thought, 'We need to watch every penny we spend,'" he said. ...

Doerflinger said he doesn't agree with the way Wood has defined the auditor's role. It should be more active in helping the city to operate more efficiently, he said.

"I think we really need someone that takes on a watchdog role versus the current caretaker approach," he said.

"I've read how Wood said it shouldn't be about political grandstanding, but to me it's not political grandstanding if you find issues in areas that are going to save taxpayers money," he said.

"If you can't get policymakers to take actions on your findings, then I think you should be standing on your head until someone pays attention," he said.

I have not had the opportunity to speak at length with Doerflinger, although we had a good conversation shortly after the filing period. People I know and trust who have spoken with him at length speak highly of him. Through them I learn that the many out-of-Tulsa donations come from friends of his. (For the auditor's office, it might not be a bad thing for campaign cash to come from out of town -- perhaps less of a chance that a local city contractor might try to influence the election.) Also secondhand, I learn that his donations to Democratic Congressman Dan Boren have to do for some help the congressman's office provided to his family. (I don't recall the details.)

As a CPA, Ruemler would seem to have more directly applicable experience for the auditor's job, but he did not respond to a set of questions I sent him.

Doerflinger could have been the subject of another entry in the BatesLine candidate background check series, but I only thought to look yesterday. An OSCN search turns up multiple speeding tickets and driving under a suspended license along with a divorce. Checking the non-OCIS database turns up even more traffic violations. But the speeding tickets seem to end in 2001, which may indicate that he turned over a new leaf at that time.

(If you're going to be a reckless driver, better to be named John Smith than Preston Doerflinger.)

I'm hopeful that Doerflinger will explain the situation with the speeding tickets. In the meantime, I'm voting for him, as he actually seems to want the job. If we want to have a shot at defeating a long-time incumbent -- a good man, but not as assertive as the auditor needs to be -- we'll need someone who really wants the job and is willing and able to campaign hard.

The 2009 District 8 race

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District 8 is a tough race for me.

During his seven years on the City Council, Bill Christiansen has disappointed me over and over again.

Early on, he worked to undermine and oppose some positive initiatives from my reform friends on the Council -- for example, the future growth task force that Joe Williams and Chris Medlock proposed in 2003. At the same time, he was one of the first councilors to push the City Council's role in setting fiscal policy for city government and exercising oversight over the executive branch.

Too often he has staked out a good position on an issue, only to back down when it really mattered. The City Hall move is an excellent example. Right before the meeting he came up to me to say what a rotten deal it was, but he voted for it anyway. On the ballpark assessment district, he voted for it in 2008, but then voted against the assessment roll in 2009.

He has improved in recent years. He worked with former Street Commissioner Jim Hewgley III to try to develop a maintenance-heavy street repair package -- the Baby Bear plan. I had my doubts about whether he would remain opposed to the South Tulsa bridge, since some who backed his start in politics supported it (notably former Tulsa City Councilor, now Bixby resident, John Benjamin), Christiansen has been steadfast on the issue.

Christiansen's work on the bridge issue seems to have made him more sympathetic to concerns of homeowners regarding new development. He put together a Land Use Education and Communication task force. The task force recommendations are aimed at making the rules understandable and providing better web access to information on new development to help public awareness. There are some great ideas here, but as they would arm citizens with more timely information, I am sure that some old-guard development industry types are unhappy about it. I've heard speculation that this task force is one of the reasons that the establishment has abandoned Christiansen and is instead backing Phil Lakin.

You can tell he's been abandoned by the establishment just by looking at the photos of him used by the Tulsa World

Here's Christiansen's photo when he ran for re-election in 2004. The Whirled endorsed him that year.

Here's his photo in a story from last month. I'm surprised they didn't draw horns on his head and steam coming out of his ears.

And that abandonment by the establishment is the main reason why, if I lived in District 8, I would vote for Bill Christiansen. It takes some people longer than others to learn the lesson, but once you've been burned by the local oligarchy, it's a lesson you don't forget.

We don't need two city councilors from District 9. That's what the backers of at-large seats on the City Council were after. Even if Phil Lakin doesn't live in District 9, that's evidently where his friends are and where his treasure is (and where your treasure is there will your heart be also). (District 9 had two councilors geographically during Randy Sullivan's last term as the purported District 7 representative.)

Back in July, I had breakfast with Lakin and Jeff Stava, CEO and COO of Tulsa Community Foundation respectively and the runner up for the District 9 City Council in 2006. Lakin and Stava were anxious to talk to me about all the good work that TCF does for the Tulsa area -- to which I am glad to stipulate.

I asked about the idea of using foundation money as leverage on government spending. They were emphatic that it's never TCF driving public money to be spent in a direction that it would not have otherwise been spent; they simply provide assistance to help city officials complete desired projects. Regarding the ballpark, they said the timeline for the ballpark was driven by city officials, and that TCF simply provided a vehicle for donors to give to the ballpark. (But were the donors themselves -- the individuals and foundations giving money to TCF for the ballpark -- driving the policy decisions? That's a different matter, perhaps.)

The problem with the ballpark process is that the arrangements were made in secret and presented to the City Council as a done deal. The Council should have rejected the deal for that reason alone. What was particularly offensive was that the "ballpark" effort was expanded to include acquisition of property around the ballpark. That ultimately meant that a small developer like Will Wilkins -- someone willing to develop a piece of TDA-owned property that no one else seemed to want -- was shoved aside. A good stadium could have been built for the money given by the private donors plus the $5 million from the Drillers' lease payments. The assessment, forced on every property owner within the IDL, is effectively there to give the stadium trust (headed by the donors) the money to play Monopoly with the Brady District. (My column from August 6, 2008, gives a timeline of what I called the Control Freaks' Squeeze Play.)

If that approach was truly driven by Mayor Taylor and her allies on the City Council, TCF officials should have refused to play ball. If I were donating large sums to the city, I would want to ensure that the process of deciding how the money is to be used was transparent and public.

When I asked Lakin about why he was running for City Council, he talked about infighting and bickering between council and mayor and between city and county. He seemed to blame the councilors for the mayor keeping them in the dark.

Lakin's critique of some current councilors reminds me of what I've heard from other councilors in the past about their predecessors. The gist of it: "If they'd just be nicer, people would pay more attention to the substance of what they're saying." Many of the councilors who have said that in the past have later learned the hard way that as soon as you challenge the power or the budget of some entrenched interest, everyone will think you aren't nice, no matter how nicely you make your case. The newspaper will run pictures that make you look angry. The mayor will accuse you of bickering. And then some council candidate will come along and tell you that if you'd just be nicer, people would pay more attention to the substance of what you're saying.

I'm pleased that Lakin has expressed appreciation for Bill Martinson's analysis of the budget situation and the attention Martinson has brought to the proportion of the general fund used by the public safety departments. I'm certainly disappointed in Christiansen's failure to back Martinson on that issue, but I'm wondering where Lakin was when the issue was being debated by the City Council back in June. I don't recall him speaking out, as a concerned citizen, to support Martinson's budget and oppose Mayor Taylor's plan.

Lakin's reason might be that as a head of a non-profit it wouldn't have been his place to get involved publicly in a political battle. If that's so, how can he be a city councilor and remain as head of TCF?

The third candidate in the District 8 race is Scott Grizzle. I've worked with Scott for three or four years on the TulsaNow board of directors. He's tech savvy and very interested in urban planning. He got into this race pretty late in the game, and with an incumbent and a challenger with the kind of money that usually only a District 9 incumbent can raise, it's been tough for him to get the attention of the media and the public. Pat Campbell left him out of a candidate debate between Christiansen and Lakin, although he was given some time on the air the following day. Scott is unlikely to prevail tomorrow, and as there is no runoff, voters need to conduct their own runoff and vote for one of the top two candidates if the other top candidate is unacceptable to them. I'm sure this has been a valuable and eye-opening experience for Scott, as my first run was for me back in 1998.


KWGS / Downtown Kiwanis District 8 debate
Bill Christiansen and Phil Lakin on the Pat Campbell Show
Scott Grizzle on the Pat Campbell Show

(Once again -- it's nice that these media outlets are interested in a council primary, but there's a mayoral primary, too. You'd think one of them could have arranged a head to head debate amongst the leading candidates.)

MORE: Tom Neal is "not taken with Lakin":

Concerning [the Tulsa World's] endorsement of Phil Lakin for the City Council, my former employer matched donations. So I gave to a local group through the Tulsa Community Foundation to capture that match and get another match specific to the foundation. Karen Davis, a senior program officer there, said prior that there would be no problem.

But for more than nine months I received notices that the locals had not received any donation. I made multiple calls to the charity and to the foundation to clear up this mess.

During this ordeal, I left a complaint on Davis' voicemail. You would think that a CEO would find out whether his organization was in error. Phil Lakin did not. I received a furious and abusive voice mail from Lakin, specifically threatening me with legal retaliation if I continued to complain about his group's screw-up.

Finally one remarkable staffer dug and found out that my gift did go to the local group but under others' names.

Maybe Lakin has great people skills if you're a billionaire. I have no doubt he'll represent well Tulsa's most influential.

But the mark of a man is not how he treats the most powerful but rather how he treats those with the least. Best choice for district 8? I don't think so.

From Rocky Frisco's Tulsa Metro Chamber questionnaire. Nail, meet hammerhead.

The more the city government has tried to "develop" the downtown, the worse it has become. I firmly believe that if had been allowed to develop naturally, without all the wild ideas for "development," it would still be an exciting, successful part of the city. I would like to see the city government stop meddling with the downtown area, re-synchronize the traffic lights and stop killing the area with excessive revenue generation based on parking tickets, fees and fines. The first fatal blow was the loss of the Ritz, Orpheum, Majestic and Rialto Theaters; the second was the ill-advised "Downtown Mall." It has gone downhill from there. The time to stop "fixing" a thing, even when it's broken, is when every attempt to fix it breaks it worse.

See my May 13, 2009, column for the 53-year-long list of attempted fixes and Downtown Tulsa Unlimited's role in promoting same.

RELATED: I have received a tip that the Tulsa Metro Chamber is seeking to take over DTU's former role handling downtown marketing in exchange for a share of the cash from the Tulsa Stadium Improvement District assessment. I was unable to find an RFP online, but if this treated as a personal services contract the City may be able to award the contract without a bid process. It should still, however, come through the City Council. The tipster speculated that the Chamber is trying to push this through quietly, before the advent of a new Mayor and City Council that may not be as friendly.

A couple of years ago, on April 11, 2007, I sat down at the Village Inn with Tulsa rock and roll pioneer Rocky Frisco and recorded a leisurely conversation with him. I am a lousy interviewer, but Rocky is a great interview subject. It didn't take much prompting to get him to tell some fascinating stories about his upbringing, Tulsa schools in the '40s, Tulsa music in the '50s, his bicycle ride to Fort Hood, Texas, to interview Elvis and his views on matters political and spiritual.

For quite some time, I've intended either to transcribe the interview or to edit and upload the audio. At long last, I've started working on the audio, and I have the first 15 minute segment ready to go. In this segment, Rocky talks about how he got started with rock and roll, winning contests at the Sheri-Bob Dance Studios, Gene Crose and his band, Flash Terry, the Flamingo Lounge, and the Greenwood music scene of the late '50s, and the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame and the tribute they put together for Carl Radle. (Other topics and names dropped in this discussion: Liquor-by-the-wink in 1950s Oklahoma, the contrast between the music business then and now, Leo Feathers, Brooks and Dunn.)

Rocky has the beginnings of a website on the Tulsa Sound, where he mentions some of the same history and quotes JJ Cale:

According to John "JJ" Cale, "There isn't really any Tulsa Sound; we were just trying to play the blues and didn't know how, so that's what we came up with." We played what we knew, so it was a mixture of Western Swing, Country, Blues, Gospel and Popular Music, which ranged from ballads to marching bands.

(If you only see a 30 sec. excerpt, click the "Play full song here" link.)

A Conversation with Rocky Frisco, April 11, 2007 - Rocky Frisco with Michael Bates

It took me too long to upload this file successfully, but here it is, coughs, sneezes, rumbles, and all.

Audio from the League of Women Voters candidate forum, held on September 1, 2009, at Fellowship Congregational Church. All four candidates -- Democrats Maria Barnes and Elizabeth Wright, Republicans Rocky Frisco and Eric Gomez -- participated in the forum. I came in late, so I didn't catch the opening statements. Here is a very partial index of the questions that were addressed and the approximate time (rounded down/earlier, so if you go to that point in the recording and keep listening, you'll hear all the responses). If you find moments that you'd like to highlight, feel free to post a timestamp and description in the comments.

0 min - City Hall move
4 min - Ozone
10 min - City employees in campaigns
11 min - SLAPP
15 min - Ballpark assessment
18 min - Creek nation placing land in trust for south Tulsa bridge
22 min - animosity from City Council
25 min - ballot access for third-parties
27 min - revitalization for Admiral and 11th
32 min - as councilor, what course of action when advised of proposed development
37 min - Do you work well with others on committees?
41 min - Was PLANiTULSA survey representative?

Tulsa City Council District 4 Forum, 2009/09/01 - League of Women Voters

Steven Roemerman has a couple of new entries about local elections worth your attention.

He follows up on a question that a talk show host asked him when he called in to express his support for Chris Medlock: "Do you really think Medlock can beat Tom Adelson?" Roemerman answers that question by posing and answering four more questions (my paraphrase):

1. Can Medlock beat a millionaire? Should I vote for Bartlett Jr just because he has more financial resources to use against Tom Adelson? Roemerman's conclusion: If Medlock can beat millionaire Bartlett Jr, he can beat millionaire Tom Adelson, too.

2. Should a voter pick a less preferred candidate that is closer ideologically to the likely Democratic opponent "because it might somehow curry favor with those in the middle or with undecided voters?" Roemerman asks, "How well did that line of thinking work out for us in the last presidential election?"

3. "From where I sit, Adelson and Bartlett Jr are not that much different. Given that Adelson has already beat Bartlett once before in the race for State Senate, what makes you think that given the choice between the two, voters won't make the same choice again?"

In 2004, the year in which George W. Bush swept all 77 counties of Oklahoma, Bush also won the vote in Senate District 33, but Bartlett lost a head-to-head contest with 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.

Bartlett Jr has been able to dodge a real head-to-head debate so far because of the large number of Republican candidates. (It's funny, though -- KFAQ felt comfortable holding a District 8 debate between the two leading contenders and leaving out someone who didn't raise a significant amount of money, but they wouldn't make the same distinction for the mayor's race.) He's avoided putting his policy positions out for public examination, something that Joe Kelley called him on. As a major party nominee, he wouldn't have that luxury in the general election.

I don't know that any of the Republican candidates can beat Adelson, but I'm certain that Bartlett Jr can't. Adelson has a toughness that Bartlett Jr evidently lacks, given the way his campaign team has cushioned him with gauzy generalities.

4. Roemerman wonders about Bartlett Jr's decision to seal the public records of his divorce, when the result was to elevate public awareness of his divorce and bring readers to this website. (My visit count yesterday, after the story in the Tulsa World, was about 50% more than usual on a Saturday, and that on a long holiday weekend.) "Why not just leave it alone?" Roemerman asks.

Roemerman also has the text of anonymous flyer to south Tulsa voters concerned about the ongoing possibility of a bridge across the Arkansas River connecting to Tulsa at Yale Ave. The flyer reminds that Dewey Bartlett Jr was on the turnpike authority and claims that he "never met a tollbooth he didn't like. (Surprisingly, the flyer doesn't mention Bartlett Jr's support for turning the Broken Arrow Expressway into a toll road.)

The flyer also reminds voters that of the eight endorsements that Bartlett touts, two are residents of Bixby and Jenks, communities that would experience retail growth at the expense of Tulsa if the bridge is built. (Two more of the eight are residents of Sapulpa and Kellyville, respectively.)

The concluding thought from the anonymous south Tulsa flyer:


(St. James refers to the south Tulsa church where the South Tulsa Citizens' Coalition gathered to mobiiize against the original Tulsa County Commission / IVI toll bridge plan.)

A new website called takes issue with District 4 Councilor Eric Gomez's claims of achievement and attacks his defense of his failure to notify neighbors about the 10 N. Yale mental health facility and his claim that there was nothing the City Council could do. They also highlight an interesting statistic from Gomez's contributions report -- he raised $3,750 from BOK PAC, BOK Chairman George Kaiser, and several attorneys of the Dorwart law firm, which represents BOK. This may be connected to his steadfast support of the downtown ballpark and his steadfast defense of the assessment district.

Finally, while candidates have discovered social media, I suspect only a few candidates are actually doing their own updates. I am certain that Democratic mayoral candidate Robert Gwin Jr. is doing his own Twitter updates and showing a certain resilience. What was a source of puzzlement on Friday:

according to the NRA PVF website ‚I have a F rating ‚not sure why

on Saturday became a point of pride:

the NRA PVF website endorsed adelson for Mayor of Tulsa with an A rating is he really a democrati? i got a F rating vote for me gwin/ mayor

Poll comparison

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This morning the Tulsa World finally got around to publishing the poll it commissioned from I say "finally got around" because polling was completed on September 1, five days ago.

It seems to me that if you're in the business of news, and you have a newsworthy story, you would want to publish it as soon as possible.

It shouldn't take a pollster more than an hour to turn survey results into a top-line number -- percentages for each candidate. It shouldn't take more than a day to generate cross-tabs -- breakdowns of results by demographic groups.

It also seems to me that one week out is an odd time to take a poll, particularly your very first. A poll right after the filing period would give readers an idea of the shape of the race at its beginning -- how big is each candidate's base of support. A poll taken the day before the vote provides a fair test of the pollster's accuracy -- something that can be directly compared to the result of the election.

A poll at one week out doesn't capture any shifting that may happen as a result of the last week of campaigning, as more commercials hit the airwaves, as mailers hit mailboxes, and as voters finally begin to focus on the election. A one-week poll would only be useful if there were an earlier public poll to which it could be compared, as a measure of momentum.

It's interesting to compare it to the Tulsa World's 2006 pre-primary poll. It was taken 9-11 days, slightly more than one week, before the election, but the results weren't released until five days after the poll was complete. This year the poll was taken closer to the election, but with just as much of a gap between completion and publication.

In 2006, the sample size was 500 for each party primary. In 2009, it was cut to 300 for each, increasing the margin of error. There's a reference in the 2009 story that hints at other questions being asked and crosstabs by ideology, but the details weren't provided to the reader.

In 2006 results were provided to the tenth of a percentage point. In 2009 the results presented to the reader were rounded to the nearest whole percentage point. That's a minor point, perhaps, but it still adds to the downgrade in the quality and detail of the information being presented to the reader.

The 2006 poll showed Medlock with 18.8%. His result on election day was 34.1%. That doesn't mean the 2006 poll was wrong, just that it couldn't measure the impact of the final week of mailers and commercials.


Just noticed: While past polls were co-sponsored by KOTV, this poll appears to be solely sponsored by the Tulsa World.

A reader points out that the story on the poll did not disclose the methodology used to determine whether or not a respondent was likely to vote and did not note whether respondents were given a list of names before being asked their preference. And, for what it's worth, the reader also notes that the pollster, Oklahoma City-based Bill Shapard Jr., lists himself on his Facebook profile as a supporter of Dewey Bartlett for Mayor.

Also, Medlock campaign manager Howie Morgan sent out an e-mail reacting to the poll:

This past Tuesday our radio ads hit the air. Also on Tuesday we had our TV ads all over Fox News, CNN, ESPN, HGTV, Lifetime, as well as the local news channels. You have likely seen them over and over all weekend. In those ads Chris pledges to Tulsa voters how Chris Medlock will end the wasteful spending in City Hall and get back to the basics of fixing our streets and fighting crime. His priorities will be in favor of your family budget instead of trying to take more taxes out of your wallet by changing the Broken Arrow Expressway into a Toll Road. And boy did those ads work! Our phones have been going off the hook, our website traffic has tripled, and people are disgusted when they found out that Dewey Bartlett, Jr. is just another tax and spend RINO who wants to take his past history on the Oklahoma Turnpike Board and add one more toll road that taxes Tulsa. We love those ads on TV and radio. If you have not heard them yet, click here to watch and listen to them. (I like the funny radio ad the best.)

Unfortunately for us, the Tulsa World did their poll on this race in the days just before our ads hit the air. So unless 30,000 voters were clairvoyant in knowing about Chris and the election for Tulsa Mayor, there is no way they even knew Chris was running.

Yes, I know you know. But the average voter did not until our ads hit the airwaves.

So when the Tulsa World did their polling last week (on a Sunday? what is that?) we are pretty sure that no one in the general public knew about Chris Medlock and where he stood on the issues.

They have now joined you as an informed voter, and they now know the real story about Dewey, Jr. and his RINO status. So please take that into account when you see the Tulsa World poll today. Their numbers are a snapshot in history, but that history is tainted with $150,000 of 4 weeks of Dewey, Jr. ads and not one TV or radio ad from Chris Medlock until after the poll.

OSU journalism prof Joey Senat, writing on the blog of FOI Oklahoma, an organization that promotes open meetings, open records, and government transparency, chides mayoral candidate Dewey Bartlett Jr for having public records pertaining to his divorce sealed shortly after pledging himself to transparency in government.

Bartlett's request came a day or so after FOI Oklahoma Inc. received his signed Open Government Pledge "to support at every opportunity the public policy of the State of Oklahoma that the people are vested with the inherent right to know and be fully informed about their government so that they can efficiently and intelligently exercise their inherent political power."

Note to Mr. Bartlett: Sealing court records isn't supporting the public's right to know.

Senat calls Bartlett's argument for closure -- fear of identity theft -- "specious."

"Those fears aren't backed up with statistics or even anecdotal evidence showing public records are a source for identity thieves," [Oklahoman]reporter Bryan Dean summarized.

Public records were not listed as a significant source of identity theft by the 2006 Identity Fraud Survey Report co-released by the Better Business Bureau. It said 30 percent of identity theft came from stolen wallets or purses, 15 percent from close associates such as friends and family, 9 percent from stolen mail and garbage, and 9 percent from computer hacking.

Senat explains why Bartlett Jr's divorce case should remain open to public scrutiny:

First, the public is entitled to make the most informed choice possible when selecting who will operate its government. Divorce files, like many other court records, can provide valuable information about a candidate....

Second, if Bartlett's records in the public court system are closed, why not seal everyone's files?

Because the information in those court files can help each of us make more informed life-affecting decisions. Choosing a business partner? Hiring an employee? Selecting a doctor, baby-sitter or day-care provider for your child? Concerned about your daughter's new boyfriend? Etc.

Personal information in government-held records can help us make better decisions about the people and events most important in our lives....

Third, access to court records assures the public that everyone is treated equally in our judicial system and that decisions aren't "based on secret bias or partiality" - as the U.S. Supreme Court said in defense of open courts.

"Closed trials breed suspicion of prejudice and arbitrariness, which in turn spawns disrespect for law," the Court said. The same can be said for court records sealed from public view.

That last point seems especially important in this case. Dewey Jr's own pleadings in the case speak of significant economic inequality between him and his then-wife Susan. Dewey Jr had considerable wealth in accounts to which he was sole signatory. According to his May 16, 2003, motion for summary judgment and attached affidavit, his wife did not work outside the home, did not bring assets into the marriage, and received a $2,000 monthly allowance from Dewey Jr. He estimated the value of her separate assets as of October 2002 as 1% of his -- $2,830,500 to $27,500.

Closing court records in a case would make it possible to conceal a perversion of justice in favor of those with wealth. An open court record allows the public to judge the judge and weigh his fairness in the balance at the next election.

Finally, Senat addresses the problem with Bartlett's distinction between "legitimate media" and political bloggers (emphasis added):

Bartlett told the Tulsa World he would be "glad for any member of the legitimate media to have total access" to his divorce file. If elected mayor, would he restrict access to other government documents only to the "legitimate media"? Will he be the one to decide who is a member of the "legitimate media"?

The public's right to know belongs to the public. That means everyone, including political bloggers.

Signing the Open Pledge is a promise to support the spirit of open government - even when it inconveniences the candidate.

Thanks to Dr. Joey Senat for the thoughtful analysis and careful reasoning and to FOI Oklahoma for defending government transparency.

Welcome, new readers! Click this link to read the blog article in question regarding Dewey Bartlett Jr's divorce filings and what his own side's assertions tell us about his financial acumen. Did Bartlett Jr fairly characterize what I posted? Read the article and the accompanying documents for yourself and draw your own conclusions. Then read my response to Bartlett Jr below.

On Thursday, September 3, 2009, at about 2:45 pm Tulsa mayoral candidate Dewey Bartlett Jr filed an application to seal the record of his 2002 divorce case against his first wife. The order was handed down at 3:09 pm, signed and entered by Judge Rodney B. Sparkman at 4:25 pm.

Part of the record -- the trial transcript from January 2004 -- was already under seal. From the docket report, it appears that this seal was placed in September 2004, when Bartlett was running against Tom Adelson for the open State Senate District 33 seat.

Yesterday (September 4, 2009) afternoon at about 4 pm, I received a call from Tulsa World reporter Brian Barber, who informed me about the seal and about Bartlett's comments and asked me for my reaction. My response was fairly reported in the story by Brian Barber and Bill Braun in this morning's edition.

Dewey Bartlett Jr doesn't seem to have looked at what I posted, as what he and his attorneys are saying about that information is not accurate. Let's take his claims point by point:

"I have no desire to hide anything from public record," Bartlett told the Tulsa World, but he called the bloggers' actions irresponsible. "I am glad for any member of the legitimate media to have total access to that information."

The first statement seems to be contradicted by his action on Thursday, asking a judge to block the public record of his divorce from public scrutiny, and by his decision in 2002 to style the case using his and his wife's first initials rather than their full names, making the case more difficult for the public to locate.

Secondly, there's only one blogger who has posted anything from the public record of his divorce. That would be me, and I feel I was very responsible and selective as to what I posted. There was far more material that I viewed but decided not to post because it was irrelevant to what in my judgment were the newsworthy aspects of the file.

Third, his use of the term "legitimate media" should alarm Tulsa media outlets of every type. The phrase suggests that only he should get to choose which outlets he considers legitimate and should have "total access to that information." I would hope that organizations like Media Bloggers Association and Freedom of Information Oklahoma would recognize this kind of talk as disrespect for, if not an actual threat to, public access to public records and freedom of the press for all Americans, not just for "officially approved" media outlets.

Now for the next statement in need of correction:

The application for an order to immediately seal the record, filed by Bartlett's attorneys, states that "the file contains sensitive personal financial information such as account numbers, which are being publicly disseminated on the Internet by certain persons who post political blogs."

As far as I can determine via search engines, BatesLine is the only website or blog on which information about Bartlett Jr's divorce has been posted.

Furthermore, the information I posted did NOT contain any account numbers or any other sensitive personal financial information. As I mentioned in the entry, I was careful to redact three bank account numbers which appeared on a single page of the original document. No other sensitive identifying information appeared anywhere in the documents that I posted. (For example, I did not see any Social Security IDs or driver's license numbers anywhere in the documents I examined, much less in the documents I posted.)

As for the sensitivity of the financial information, Bartlett Jr's May 16, 2003, motion for summary judgment contains information about transactions that all occurred at least seven years ago. Most of these transactions involve real estate that he no longer owns, a trust that has been distributed, and a company that has been liquidated. The filing contains the names of companies in which he had (in December 2002) an ownership interest, and to the extent that he, a candidate for mayor, is still invested in these companies, it is a matter of public interest.

Most of the 18-page main body of Bartlett Jr's motion for summary judgment is devoted to a brief that cites other divorce cases as precedent for Bartlett Jr's claims of separate vs. marital property. There isn't any personal information about Bartlett Jr in that part of the brief, but those citations of earlier cases do highlight the public importance of a given divorce case beyond the public matter of the dissolution of a single marriage. Precedent plays a central role in our legal system, and the facts of a case and the decision rendered by the judge in that case are fodder for attorneys' arguments in future cases.

Bartlett's next claim:

But there is a difference between government records and personal records that contain sensitive financial information, not just about his family, but former and current business partners, as well, [Bartlett Jr] said.

"I was quite disturbed to find all of that was being disseminated on the Web," Bartlett said.

"Ninety-nine percent of our fellow citizens are honest and good people. It's that 1 percent that I didn't want to give the opportunity to unfairly use that information to help themselves and hurt a lot of others."

The only former partner mentioned in these documents is his first wife. The companies mentioned are Keener Oil Company (KOC), the Bartlett family business which was "essentially liquidated" "in the first six months of 1994"; Keener Oil and Gas Company, the business that Bartlett Jr founded around the same time; Sage Properties Ltd., a real estate lot development partnership in which he was invested; and Lumen Oil Co., a company acquired by KOC, shares of which were received by Bartlett Jr and other KOC shareholders. Lumen and Sage don't appear to have a presence on the web, if indeed they still exist. The documents I posted don't even identify the states in which these entities were incorporated. There are, in what I posted, generic references to different sorts of investment accounts and financial institutions, but nothing that identifies specific account numbers or any other identifying information that could be used in identity theft.

While there may be good cause to seal some documents in the file or to redact bits of information from some pages of some documents because of the presence of account numbers and other identifying information, the reported claim by Bartlett Jr and his attorneys that "bloggers" have posted such sensitive identifying information on the Internet or disseminated that information in any way is false. Bartlett Jr is indirectly accusing me of doing something that I did not do. Had he looked at the information I posted, that would have been blindingly obvious.

Some of the information I posted may well be embarrassing to Bartlett Jr, to the extent that it may contradict the image of successful businessman and job creator that has been set forth in the marketing of his candidacy. But what I posted doesn't fit the false picture that Bartlett Jr and his attorneys have painted.

MORE: The World story mentions that Bartlett is one of several candidates who signed FOI Oklahoma's transparency pledge. Medlock for Mayor campaign manager Howie Morgan e-mailed in response:

If Dewey signed the FOI pledge, he did it in the last 2 days. His name was not on the list when I looked at their page on Thursday Sept. 3. And they put us on the web within an hour of our signing.

September 3 is the date that Bartlett Jr applied to have his divorce case sealed.

As long-time readers are no doubt aware, I was not a fan of Bill Martinson's when he first sought and was elected to the Tulsa City Council. Martinson replaced Sam Roop in District 5 after Mayor Bill LaFortune hired Roop as his chief information officer. Martinson was the candidate of the bunch that was trying to break up the Gang of Five, the Cockroach Caucus that wanted to deflect attention from Great Plains Airlines mess and to grease the tracks for long-term water deals to fuel suburban growth. The same bunch targeted two members of the reform alliance for recall.

Martinson won a seven-candidate special election, an election with no primary or runoff, with just under 29% of the vote and by a margin of only 11 votes over his nearest rival. His re-election bid a year later against Jon Kirby was close enough to result in a lengthy court case.

During his first year or so on the council, he seemed to fall in line more often than not in opposition to the reformers. His persistence in opposing the Tulsa Hills TIF, even after his stablemates (Bill Christiansen, Randy Sullivan, Tom Baker, and Susan Neal) dropped their objections, was a surprise, but looking back he was only doing then what he has done more recently on the City Hall deal, the downtown ballpark deal, and the budget -- asking for more time to analyze the numbers.

In February 2006, he was, however, part of the 6-2 majority in support of a one-year moratorium on the use of eminent domain for private redevelopment. The reform councilor who proposed that moratorium -- some guy named Medlock -- told me not to pigeonhole Bill Martinson as a good ol' boy. Martinson had an inquisitive, analytical bent. He wasn't going to be just another rubber stamp for the establishment. Medlock was right.

Over the last two or three years, I've found more and more to appreciate about Bill Martinson's service on the City Council. His analytical strengths as a CPA emerged in a March 2007 presentation called "Municipal Revenues and Fiscal Constraints", which explained how city finances were being squeezed on the one side by rising personnel costs (and even then identifying growing public safety budgets as a concern) and on the other side by revenue constraints, including county government's emerging use of sales tax as a revenue source. Martinson understood the significance of fairgrounds annexation to city finances, marshaled the financial case in favor of it, and supported it consistently.

Martinson made a thorough analysis of the data provided by the Staubach Group about moving City Hall to One Technology Center, drawing on his experience in the commercial real estate industry, and his hard work informed my commentary on the proposed move. In the end, unfortunately, Martinson, like 7 of his 8 colleagues, couldn't muster the gumption to oppose the parade of the great and the good that Kathy Taylor assembled to speak in support of the Borg Cube.

But I think that's the last time I've seen Bill Martinson blink on anything. On the ballpark assessment district, the streets package, and now on the budget, Martinson has been willing to let the data drive his decision making, regardless of the political pressure to deny reality. And he hasn't shied away from calling some very powerful people and institutions on their BS. Here are a couple of examples:

From May 2008, Martinson's response to a letter from Tulsa Metro Chamber leadership cautioning the City Council on moving forward with a streets package without the Chamber's approval:

Martinson responded the following day with a verbal smackdown, calling the Chamber's letter "offensive and disturbing."

Martinson wrote that the letter "conveyed a serious lack of understanding as to the development and status" of the Council's streets proposal, which spanned eight months and included "more than two dozen fact finding meetings" and "town hall meetings for all districts." "You and your staff were welcome to attend, and had you done so, I believe you would have found the meetings most informative.

"Your contempt for Tulsa's City Council was apparent in your comments. To assume that the Council and City staff would advance an initiative of this magnitude to the voters and ignore fundamental due diligence and statutory requirements is arrogant and absurd."

Martinson pointed out the "appalling level of ignorance" revealed in the letter, attaching two pages from the 2006 Third Penny sales tax proposal with big arrows drawn in to point to the $4.8 million set aside for replacement of the Boulder Ave. bridge....

"I must admit that I found your comment about [return on investment] on campaigns rather amusing considering your recent track record. Your temerity to condescend to the Council on voter behavior, when by definition, each City Councilor has a better record with the voters than the Chamber, again demonstrates an incredible level of arrogance."...

"You may consider it a novel approach, but I would rather tell the citizens the truth and let them decide rather than attempting to manipulate the outcome."...

"The Chamber appears fixated on glamour and glitz to enhance economic development."

From January 2009, when the editorial writers at the Tulsa World scolded the City Council for expecting to be involved in prioritizing the city's request for federal stimulus money:

"The mayor's hiding behind the skirts of the Tulsa World editorial board and has for some time," [Martinson] said. "I can tell you the Tulsa World editorial board does absolutely minimal research, if any research, on any topic that they write on."

Now Martinson has a target on his back because he dared to point out that Tulsa is spending more than our 2% general revenue sales tax to run only the police and fire departments, and that despite their growing share of the budget, the number of officers hasn't grown. In a letter to the FOP, Martinson wrote:

As I stated to both Chief LaCroix and Chief Palmer on Thursday night, my intent was not to attack, but rather to prepare both departments for a drastic decline in funding dictated by economic reality. Since Police and Fire have managed to consume 100% of our sales tax operating revenue, I feel they must be prepared to adjust their operating structure to keep expenses in line with those revenues. My proposal Thursday night accomplished just that. The choices were theirs to make and, despite the budget approved by the Council and their hopes to the contrary, they may still face those choices and sooner than they think....

The public safety unions have done a masterful job of dictating policy. This needs to stop and elected officials must assume responsibility for the Citizens....

The unions, Administration, and certain City Councilors argue that the only option in reduced funding is to reduce staffing. This is true only if they wish it to be. They, not I, nor the other three Councilors voting against the Mayor's budget view the issue with such limited perspective; a limited perspective certain to instill fear in the citizens and union members and sure to divide the City. Extreme measures can often be avoided with sufficient planning.

Martinson's opponent this go-round is Chris Trail. Mr. Trail was, as recently as March 4, 2009, a resident of Council District 4. Not District 4 in Tulsa, but District 4 in the City of Sand Springs, according to the address listed next to his $50 contribution to Mayor Kathy Taylor's re-election campaign. (Taylor's husband, Bill Lobeck, gave Trail $500 for his campaign.) The date of Trail's arrival in the district was a matter of dispute, but in any event, he is a very recent arrival.

Trail seems like an affable fellow, but it was obvious from my conversation with him at the Beer Summit that he is in way over his head, being used (shamefully) by some powerful people and interest groups who can't stand to have an intelligent, articulate, persistent city councilor in the way of what they want to do. You'll see the same thing if you watch Martinson and Trail in the District 5 League of Women Voters candidate forum. (Thanks to Dave Schuttler for getting video of that event.)

Tulsa needs more councilors like Bill Martinson, councilors willing to assemble all the facts and then honestly face up to the conclusions to which the facts point. If you're a Republican in Tulsa District 5, I urge you to vote to re-elect Bill Martinson next Tuesday.

But, as I wrote a couple of years ago, we won't have bold and honest councilors unless we help them get elected:

Ultimately, the election of bold and visionary leaders depends on our willingness as voters, contributors, and volunteers to support them, to encourage them even as entrenched interests try to knock them down.

When we back away because a politician has been labeled "controversial" and "contentious," we teach the lesson that boldness is bad, and we ensure timid, tepid leadership.

If our elected officials seem frightened of their own shadows, we have only ourselves to blame.

Recently KRMG's Joe Kelley did a 10-minute interview with each of the three Republican mayoral candidates who had previously served in elective office. The ground rules for the interviews display political savvy and a striving both to be fair with the candidates and to get the information that the voters want.

  • The interviews will be recorded, not live. (The reason for this is that a savvy politician who seeks to limit his exposure can make an effort to 'filibuster' his available time with lengthy and pointless answers. If the subject knows they're being recorded for later playback, the filibuster is thwarted because we'll just keep recording until we have an answer.)
  • The recorded interviews will be approximately 10 minutes, but longer if needed. The interview will be posted in its entirety at and will air on the KRMG Morning News during regularly scheduled interview segments.
  • Each candidate will be featured on a unique day of the show. No candidate will be able to see the questions before the interview.
  • The questions will include questions unique to that candidate and, time permitting, generalized philosophical questions posed to each candidate.
  • Candidates are welcome to bring video recording equipment to use the video as they see fit. (The purpose here is to assure the candidate that we will not engage in editing tricks since they have a copy of the full interview.)
  • Each of the three top contenders (Dewey Bartlett, Chris Medlock and Anna Falling) agreed to these terms.

The Bartlett campaign has been trying to avoid questions unique to him; good on Joe Kelley for insisting on asking them.

They were also smart in making the interviews available on YouTube -- much easier to work with than the streaming service that ordinarily handles their audio clips.

Here are the interviews with the three candidates:

Dewey Bartlett Jr
Chris Medlock
Anna Falling

In Bartlett Jr's second segment, he explains why he voted in favor of having Tulsa's taxpayers pay the $7.1 million Great Plains Airlines default, claiming that the airport's credit rating was hurting and 13,000 jobs were in jeopardy. Even if that isn't wildly exaggerated, the right solution was to take that money out of the hides of the stockholders -- Tulsa's Great and Good who thought the Great Plains scheme was a brilliant idea -- not out of the pockets of the taxpayers. Instead, Bartlett Jr apparently prefers to protect his Money Belt peers and sock it to the rest of us.

And as for blaming the previous administration: Mary Smith, Bartlett Jr's own campaign treasurer, was high up in the Tulsa Airport Authority's administration at the time the Great Plains scheme was hatched and sold.

When Joe Kelley asked about the lack of solid information on issues on Bartlett Jr's website, Bartlett Jr said that people could call the campaign to ask about his positions and that he was talking to people on the phone and on the campaign trail. In other words, he's happy to answer questions as long as the answers won't be easily available for public scrutiny.

Here's the clip:


A commenter on this blog recently dismissed Rocky Frisco, Republican candidate for Tulsa District 4 City Councilor, as a "perennial candidate," insinuating that voters shouldn't take him seriously. I take him seriously, and on Tuesday I'll be voting for Rocky Frisco in the Republican primary.

It is true that Rocky doesn't look or sound like a conventional politician. As a rock pianist, he doesn't have the usual occupational background for a politician. He has an unusual name -- originally a stage name, later legally adopted. (His birth name -- Don Roscoe Joseph III -- isn't exactly commonplace.) The issue that motivated him to run for office when I first met him back in 1998 -- getting rid of a ridiculous, impractical, and intrusive cat leash ordinance -- isn't at the top of most people's minds.

But his opposition to that silly law wasn't just an eccentric peeve. It was grounded in a fundamental idea -- the idea of liberty. Rocky Frisco believes fervently in the idea of maximizing freedom and minimizing government intrusion. He believes in government sticking to the basics and staying within the limitations placed upon government by the people through our constitutions, charters, and laws. Rocky not only knows the U. S. Constitution backwards and forwards, he's actually read the Oklahoma Constitution all the way through, at least twice. (How many state legislators have done that?)

As I sat through Monday night's District 4 candidate forum, I found myself agreeing with Rocky far more than with the Republican incumbent, Eric Gomez, that he seeks to replace. And while many solid points on neighborhood and development issues were made by the two Democratic candidates, former Councilor Maria Barnes and Planning Commissioner Liz Wright, Rocky Frisco is the only candidate of the four that was consistently on the right side of fiscal issues -- budget, taxation, and spending priorities. He was the only one of the four to acknowledge that moving city hall to One Technology Center wasn't fiscally prudent:

What I expect from any kind of government action is unforeseen consequences, so I wasn't amazed at all to learn that it cost us a million dollars more than it was supposed to cost.... I would not have approved that move, I would not have approved the ballpark, or any of the other enormous expenses we've taken on at a time when our streets are like a battleground.

And even where we disagree, I know that he's amenable to considering new evidence and other points of view.

In a couple of weeks, Rocky will be inducted into the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame. The honor came as a surprise to him, but it's fitting for one of Tulsa's rock and roll pioneers.

But for anyone to say that Rocky is "only" a musician is to minimize his intelligence and accomplishments. Long before most of us had heard of the World Wide Web, Rocky was hand-coding his own websites. Long before that, back in the '60s, he was repairing IBM mainframe computers.

He has some fascinating stories to tell. I interviewed him a couple of years ago, and (if I can get the upload to work) I'll have that interview available for your enlightenment by the end of the day.

In the book Animal Farm, by George Orwell, there's a donkey named Benjamin. When all the animals are rejoicing over their successful overthrow of the farmer and the takeover of the farm, Benjamin refuses to be drawn in. He simply says, "Donkeys live a long time." Benjamin had lived long enough to know that no victory is permanent, that professed altruism is often cloaking selfish ambition, that power corrupts. He wasn't the sort to jump on a bandwagon or to be swayed by some smooth-talking porcine demagogue. Benjamin was a donkey, but he was no jackass.

Rocky Frisco has lived a long time, too. He's lived in Tulsa nearly all his life, and nearly all of that time in the same house south of the TU campus. He went to Lanier Elementary, Wilson Jr. High, and Central High School. He knows the city, its people, and their history. He's seen central Tulsa decline and revive. He's toured with J. J. Cale, performed with Eric Clapton. He even jammed with Elvis. He has known both popularity and obscurity. Unlike too many newly minted elected officials, he won't swoon when some lobbyist offers him a ride in a corporate jet or dinner at the Summit Club. His professional standing and quality of life aren't dependent on the fickle goodwill of Tulsa's power cliques.

Tulsa and District 4 would be well-served to have someone with Rocky Frisco's wisdom and experience on the City Council. I'm proud to join with humorist Dave Barry in endorsing him, and I hope you'll join with me in voting for Rocky Frisco in the Republican primary on Tuesday, September 8, 2009.

* "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." -- Dave Barry

CORRECTION: Rocky e-mailed to advise me that he had only played once with Clapton, not "many times" as I had written. The misunderstanding was mine, and I have corrected the sentence.

Tulsa District 7 City Councilor John Eagleton today released a legal analysis showing that the political campaigning by City of Tulsa firefighters who identify themselves as Tulsa firefighters on the campaign trail is not only a violation of the City Charter, it also violates the Hatch Act, which prohibits employees of local government departments which receive certain Federal grants from using their position to influence elections.

From Eagleton's press release:

"An employee is covered by the Hatch Act if, the individual performs duties in connection with an activity financed in whole or in part by a federal loan or grant."

"The Tulsa Fire and Police Departments receive many federal grants, and one is on the City Council agenda tonight."

"A review of grant appropriation reports shows that the Fire and Police departments are managing at least 72 active grants. Those departments are requesting millions more in federal stimulus funds."

Mr. Eagleton noted that "The Hatch Act does not prohibit covered employees from participating in political campaigns, but it does provide that:

(a) A State or local officer or employee may not--

(1) use his official authority or influence for the purpose of interfering with or affecting the result of an election or a nomination for office;

"It appears the Tulsa firefighters are using their official authority and influence to affect the result of the City Council election. When they knock on doors, the person answering is informed these campaigners are Tulsa firefighters. The yard signs being placed indicate "Tulsa Firefighters for ...". And what about the marquee sign at the Tulsa Firefighters HQ?" asked Mr. Eagleton.

"Available photographs also indicate that they are identifying themselves as Tulsa firefighters, using their position of trust and authority to influence the outcome of the election."

Eagleton cited explicit clauses in many of the Federal grant contracts signed by the city which promise compliance with the Hatch Act.

From an analysis of the impact of the Hatch Act in this situation:

Examples of covered employees provided by the [Office of Special Counsel (OSC)] include:
  • Employee covered because part of his travel expenses - a mere $350 - came from a federal grant received through the state board of health.
  • Employee who had general supervision of all engineering work for the state department of highway covered by act because engineering projects financed in part by federal grants.
  • Individual who supervises employees who work on federally funded programs generally will be held to have duties in connection with federally funded activities because of oversight responsibilities. Palmer v. United States Civil Service Commission, 297 F.2d 450 (7th cir. 1962) (director of department of conservation covered even though he claimed he spent less than one percent of his time on federally funded projects).

The OSC also dispels certain myths about the Hatch Act's coverage:

  • It is not necessary that an individual's salary be paid with federal funds.
  • The individual does not have to have administrative or executive discretion over federal funds or decide how they are spent.
  • A program does not have to be funded at least 50% by federal funds - any amount can trigger coverage.
  • The act continues to apply to individuals while on annual leave, sick leave, leave without pay, administrative leave or furlough.
  • Part-time, temporary or seasonal employees are covered by the act.
Again, the Hatch Act does not prohibit covered employees from participating in campaigns. Covered employees may not, however, "use official authority or influence to interfere with an election." For example, according to the OSC, they may not:
  • Use an official title
  • Coerce subordinates
  • Solicit the uncompensated volunteer services of subordinates
  • Make official e-mail solicitations

During Thursday night's City Council meeting, councilors approved the receipt of federal Justice Assistance Grant funds. Mayor Kathy Taylor, as the city's CEO, had to sign several assurances, committing the city to abiding my federal regulations tied to the grant. One of those assurances, appearing right above Taylor's signature, promises that the City of Tulsa "will comply with requirements of 5 USC 1501-1508 and 7324-28, which limit certain political activities of State or local government employees whose principal employment is in connection with an activity financed in whole or in part by federal assistance." Similar assurances appear on nearly every federal grant that the City of Tulsa receives, including grants for the Tulsa Fire Department.

The National Rifle Association Political Victory Fund has given an A rating to Republican mayoral candidate Chris Medlock for his views on Second Amendment rights. Dewey Bartlett Jr did not respond to the NRA questionnaire, receiving a "?" rating.

Tom Adelson, the likely Democratic mayoral nominee, also received an A, based on his legislative record and survey responses.

The NRA PVF website explains the ratings:

A Solidly pro-gun candidate. An "A" incumbent who has supported NRA positions on key votes. May also describe a non-incumbent "A" candidate (one not represented with an *) who has previously held other office and cast consistent pro-gun votes, or an "A" candidate who hasn't held office but has expressed strong support for NRA positions on Second Amendment issues. It should be noted that a "non-incumbent" candidate may have been awarded the "A" rating due solely to their responses on the NRA-PVF candidate survey.

? Failed to answer NRA-PVF candidate questionnaire, often an indication of indifference, if not outright hostility, to gun owners' and sportsmen's rights.

In a news release, Medlock said, "As an NRA member I don't take our Second Amendment Rights for granted. I will be proud to fight for this Constitutional right as Tulsa Mayor, and I will change the previous policies of Kathy Taylor."

Shortly after taking office, Taylor joined the Mayors Against Illegal Guns, an anti-Second Amendment rights group founded by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino. A number of western mayors abandoned the group when they realized that its purpose was to put further burdens on gun owners and gun manufacturers, but Taylor continued to lend her name to the coalition.

Build PAC is a political action committee registered with the Tulsa City Clerk. The PAC shares an address with the Home Builders Association of Metropolitan Tulsa. In 2005, Build PAC Issues was the single biggest contributor to the attempt to recall City Councilors Chris Medlock and Jim Mautino. The recall effort received heavy financial support from the development lobby. The "crime" of the targeted councilors: Opposing city policies that fueled suburban growth at the expense of the citizens of the City of Tulsa.

Build PAC filed its required pre-primary report two days late. Here are the candidates that received Build PAC donations:

Rick Westcott$1,000
Eric Gomez$1,000
Bill Martinson$500
Phil Lakin$1,000

It's curious that these donations did not show up in the contribution reports filed by these candidates.

I'm surprised to see Rick Westcott on this list. In 2006, when he first ran for council, the development interests backed his opponent, Paul Prather. Westcott has been generally sympathetic to neighborhood concerns -- probably the most sympathetic of the current bunch. In 2005, he headed up Tulsans for Election Integrity, the group formed to oppose the recall that the development lobby was funding.

Another possible connection between these four candidates: I'm told that all of them have ads on Whistler's electronic billboards. (I've seen ads for Martinson and Gomez, but not for Lakin or Westcott.)

In 2008, Build PAC gave money to Emanuel Lewis (District 1 Democrat), David Patrick (District 3 Independent),
Eric Gomez (District 4 Republican), Dennis Troyer (District 6 Democrat), Bill Christiansen (District 8 Republican),
G. T. Bynum (District 9 Republican).

So there's another interesting switch: Build PAC used to fund Christiansen; now they're backing his well-heeled challenger.

It's interesting too, that the development lobby hasn't weighed in on the mayor's race -- not yet, anyway.

UPDATE: According to a post by Rick Westcott on TulsaNow's public forum, he didn't receive the contribution from Build PAC until August 28. The reporting period ended on August 24, so Westcott was not required to report the Build PAC contribution on his pre-primary report; it would be reported on the post-primary report. That would also mean that Build PAC was not required to report the contributions on their pre-primary report, although I'm glad that they did.

A problem with Oklahoma's ethics reporting system is that it is too easy for controversial donors, like the development lobby, to wait until after the reporting deadline to make their contributions, thus depriving voters of the opportunity to weigh those contributions in their decision-making process. There should be a shorter gap between the end of the reporting period and when the report is due, some requirement to report last-minute contributions, and a means to make the contributions electronically available and searchable as soon as possible.

I was at the City Clerk's office looking at the R-1 forms for this year's city elections. Under Oklahoma's Political Subdivisions Ethics Act, if you raise or spend more than $500 on a city election campaign, you have to register the committee with the City Clerk on Form R-1. On the registration form, you specify the officers of the committee (chairman, vice-chairman, treasurer, staff director), a designated agent, and depositories where your committee's funds will be held -- name and location of the bank, type of account, and account number for each account.

I was curious about Chris Trail's reported "carryover" of contributions and expenses from a prior report. Trail reported having $1,000 at the beginning of the reporting period and spending $223.72 prior to the current report. I've never seen this before for a first time candidate. So I was looking for the R-1 to find out when the campaign committee was registered and if there were any earlier C-1s.

Trail's R-1 didn't show up, but I saw the R-1 for Bartlett for Mayor, Dewey Bartlett Jr's campaign committee. He filed his R-1 on July 7. Here are the committee's officers:

Chairman: Albert Kelly, 1800 S. Baltimore, Tulsa
Treasurer: Robert Sullivan Jr, 2118 E. 29th St., Tulsa
Staff Director: Somerlyn Cothran, 2313 N. Broadway, Ada

Cothran is also listed as designated agent. She is head of Cothran Development Strategies and sits on the board of something called Maverick PAC Oklahoma.

Albert Kelly is better known as "Kell" Kelly, president and CEO of Bristow-based Spirit Bank, which has been in the Kelly family since the 1930s. Kelly is registered to vote in Bristow. 1800 S. Baltimore is not a home address; it is the address of one of Spirit Bank's Tulsa facilities.

Kelly is one of the co-founders of the Oklahoma Policy Institute, a left-wing think tank created to support higher taxes and bigger government and to counter the influence of the free-market Oklahoma Center for Policy Analysis. (Here's a Tulsa World Janet Pearson column praising the Oklahoma Policy Institute. As is usual in the mainstream media, the small-government think tank institution, OCPA, is identified as right-wing, but the big-government group is described in neutral terms.)

Campaign committee chairman is an honorary position. It's a way of honoring a significant supporter, and it conveys a strong endorsement of the candidate by the person who accepts that position. For high-dollar campaigns, being chairman may also entail doing a significant amount of fundraising. It's strange that Bartlett Jr, a candidate for Mayor of Tulsa, either wouldn't choose someone from Tulsa or wouldn't be able to find someone from Tulsa willing to lend their name to the campaign as chairman.

Mautino-20040814.jpgI grew up in far east Tulsa (and beyond, in Rolling Hills in what was then unincorporated Wagoner County). My parents still live out there in District 6, and they've got a Mautino sign in their yard.

In the 19 years we've had a Tulsa City Council, for only two years has far east Tulsa had a representative at City Hall who was devoted to the district's best interests. During his 2004 to 2006 term, Jim Mautino worked for improved infrastructure to make attractive new development possible. He fought against those who wanted to treat east Tulsa as a dumping ground, who refused to respect our zoning laws and stormwater regulations. His service on the council was a natural extension of his many years of volunteer service as a neighborhood advocate.

He also worked closely with councilors from north and west Tulsa to ensure that city government paid attention to the needs of these long-neglected areas. This too was an extension of his pre-council work in organizing a coalition of neighborhood associations from around the city. Cooperating with councilors from different parties, socioeconomic backgrounds, and parts of the city, he worked for more considerate treatment of homeowners in the zoning and planning process, for stronger ethics standards, and for identifying and developing major new retail centers -- trying to capture more suburban retail dollars within city boundaries.

Long before the bribery scandal in the Public Works Department came to light, Mautino pushed for a top-to-bottom audit of the department.

For his devotion to his job, his district, and his city, Mautino was vilified by the mainstream media and officials of the metro-wide chamber and homebuilders association, and he was the target of a recall effort in 2005. He beat the recall overwhelmingly and in 2006, won renomination, despite a primary challenge well-funded by the Money Belt establishment. But he fell short of re-election, as his Transport Workers Union brothers betrayed him and campaigned instead for Dennis Troyer.

Troyer, who considers Crocs to be appropriate footwear for City Council meetings, has been a cipher on the council -- a reliable vote for Mayor Kathy Taylor and the Money Belt establishment, a reliable vote for zoning changes to permit more haphazard, ugly industrial development along our city's eastern gateway.

While Mautino is a conservative Republican, his honesty and integrity have won him fans across the political spectrum. Here's what Greg Bledsoe wrote about Jim back in 2006:

A little over a year ago I had the pleasure of meeting and getting to know your City Councilor Jim Mautino. Since that time, it has become clear to me that Jim is the most hardworking, dedicated and selfless public servant I have ever known. He is the salt of the earth. His tireless commitment to the improvement of District 6 and the whole City of Tulsa is without limitation. He has worked long hours for better sewers and streets (including a dramatic increase in funding for District 6), balanced economic development and transparent government at City Hall.

Here's what I wrote about Jim Mautino back during his first run in 2004:

Jim Mautino... is by far the best choice for the District 6 seat. Jim has been a tireless advocate for his part of town, working on zoning and planning issues to protect property values and the quality of life. Jim has persisted and more often than not prevailed because he knows the rules and does his homework, and he won't give up without a fight.

Here's what Steven Roemerman wrote about Jim Mautino during his 2006 re-election campaign:

If you spend 5 minutes with Jim you'll hear a lot of sewer talk. Not foul language but talk of sanitary sewer lines, then you'll hear a lot of talk about water lines, followed by a lot of talk about improving streets. He is passionate about improving the infrastructure in East Tulsa because Jim knows that infrastructure spurs development, and development spurs economic growth. Despite stiff opposition Mautino's hard work has paid off. Jim has brought sewer lines to East Tulsa businesses that were threatening to leave because they were still operating on sewage lagoons. When Jim is not working on acquiring water or sewer he is working on our streets. Jim drives all over District 6 taking pictures of poor road conditions, dangerous intersections, and car wrecks.

All that hard work has paid off. It is Jim Mautino's tenacity that has brought 28 million dollars of new project dollars through the 2006 Third Penny Sales Tax.

There were several close votes where Jim's voice and vote would have been decisive in favor of good government and careful management of taxpayer dollars. There were several close votes where Jim's voice and vote would have been decisive in favor of good government and careful management of taxpayer dollars. East Tulsa and the city at large need Jim Mautino back on the Council. To make that possible, Jim Mautino first needs your vote in the Tuesday, September 8, 2009, Republican primary, and again in the November general election.

MORE: After the jump, a video (by David Schuttler) of a 2006 council speech by Jim Mautino on problems in the Public Works Department, and a second video about BOK's efforts to get the City of Tulsa to pay off the Great Plains Airlines loan. And here's my column from January 28, 2009, about his proposal for a SCARE audit of the city's largest department -- he learned this kind of wide-ranging, independent, well-funded, top-to-bottom audit during his years working for American Airlines.

Westcott-20060410.jpgThere are some very powerful people in this town that evidently would rather not have grownups on the City Council. They'd rather have children, nine naifs easily led to the preferred conclusion.

But we ordinary citizens need grownups to look after our interests. We need people who have the intelligence to analyze the information they are given, look for gaps, and ask tough questions, and have the courage to say "no" or "wait" when it makes sense.

During my last run for City Council in 2002, I wrote an essay on why the City Council matters and what makes a good city councilor. It remains my standard for evaluating candidates for city office. I think the piece has held up pretty well. (So does a Fall River, Mass., city council candidate who decided to plagiarize it.)

District 2 City Councilor Rick Westcott meets the criteria I set out seven years ago. I'm happy to endorse his re-election. While I have had my disappointments with him on specific issues, his tenure has been marked by fortitude when it's mattered most. He stood firm with some of his colleagues in blocking some faulty mayoral appointments to authorities, boards, and commissions. He regularly insisted on more time to evaluate alternatives when Mayor Kathy Taylor was pushing the council to rubber-stamp her plans with haste. Westcott took a political risk to join Bill Martinson and John Eagleton in pushing for a closer look at the budgets of the police and fire departments (not voting for massive cuts, as the unions falsely allege) and the investigation of fraudulent EMS certifications in the fire department.

Early in his tenure, Rick and some of his class of 2006 colleagues made much of differentiating themselves from previous councils by refraining from "bickering." They've had their wake-up call; they now understand that merely speaking the truth, asking tough questions, and insisting on answers is enough to get you accused of bickering.

No Democrats filed for office, so Tuesday's Republican primary is the election. His opponent, Barton Ralph Rhoades, is in the midst of a bankruptcy, his third. Rhoades seems to have been recruited as an act of political vengeance by a mayor and a union that wish Rick Westcott would shut up and go away.

But Tulsa and District 2 need councilors like Rick, and I urge District 2 Republicans to re-elect Rick Westcott this coming Tuesday, September 8.

MORE: District 2 resident Jeff Shaw endorses Rick Westcott for re-election:

I'll be voting for Mr. Westcott in the Tuesday primary, and if you live in District 2, I encourage you to do the same....

He understands that in order to make big decisions, the big picture includes the details, and that includes scrutinizing every line of a budget.

There are self serving entities fighting against Rick, that do not believe in this type of responsible government. On the contrary, I expect it....

Beyond the budget, Rick is responsive and has done a good job during his term. I'll be happy to have him continue as a City Councilor come next Wednesday.

Tulsa District 4 City Councilor Eric Gomez isn't fond of public scrutiny, evidently. He was none too happy that I had my camera running during his answer to this question:

"Are you aware of SLAPP lawsuits? Would you consider a lawsuit or threat of a lawsuit against a constituent for criticizing a councilor to be a SLAPP lawsuit? Would you file or threaten to file a lawsuit against a constituent who criticized you?

This answer came during the Tuesday, September 1, 2009, District 4 League of Women Voters candidate forum at Fellowship Congregational Church. An official LWV videographer was recording the event; the photography prohibition was intended to avoid distracting flash photographs. I hadn't planned to do more than record audio, but when this question came up, I had to capture his response.

Background info:

In October 2008, Eric Gomez threatened, via his lawyer, a libel suit against Julie Hall, founder of Who Owns Tulsa? and a critic of Gomez's treatment of the neighbors of the Admiral & Yale mental health facility / home for long-term homeless / "it's only an apartment complex."

My March 25, 2009, column addressed Strategic Lawsuits Attacking Public Participation and the inadequacies of Oklahoma's anti-SLAPP laws for protecting citizens who criticize their elected officials and other powerful institutions and individuals.

Even without good anti-SLAPP laws, we can still deter SLAPP suits by elected officials by denying re-election to those who threaten to sue their constituents.

Ora in lingua Latina

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A cool bit of news from Linda Duntley's Tulsa Home Educators e-mail list:

Starting Sep 9, 2009, Grace Lutheran Church (located on the corner of 5th Place and Lewis) will be offering a 20-minute Latin morning prayer service for Latin students and their families. Starts at 9:00 a.m.

Held in the beautiful medieval-style sanctuary of Grace Lutheran Tulsa, the Latin service is based on the "Ordo Oficii ad Completorium," as found in the "Brotherhood Prayer Book."

The Latin service will be held every 2nd and 4th Wednesday.

This is an excellent supplement to any Latin class--demonstrating that Latin is a living language!

I love Latin and love the tradition of the divine office -- meeting together for a daily liturgy of scripture and prayers -- and it's wonderful to see the two brought together by this traditional, liturgical Lutheran church.

By the way, if you're a homeschooling family and don't subscribe to T.H.E. News, you're missing out on a lot -- for $15 a year you get a comprehensive monthly newsletter and regular news items in your inbox. The next newsletter is due out on September 28, and it's the annual field trip guide.

NOTE: The information and analysis regarding this are derived entirely from the public record pertaining to the case, as found in the records of the Tulsa County Court Clerk and the Oklahoma State Courts Network (OSCN) online database. Links or photographic images are provided for relevant excerpts from those records.

In their August 23, 2009, story on the legal tribulations of candidates for City of Tulsa office, the Tulsa World missed some interesting information. One was a court case involving Republican mayoral candidate Dewey Bartlett Jr., a case that went to the Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals and nearly went to the Oklahoma Supreme Court.

Documents in the case shed some light on Bartlett's financial acumen, undercutting a key selling point in his campaign for Mayor of Tulsa. One of the motions filed by Bartlett Jr's attorneys states that he and his wife "lived a lifestyle which exceeded Dewey's salary and thus consumed a large portion of Dewey's separate estate." A spreadsheet included in that same motion indicates that Bartlett Jr, having inherited a large estate, managed over time to turn it into a somewhat smaller estate.

That point was made explicitly (by Dewey Jr's lawyer) elsewhere in the same document, that "despite Dewey's best managerial efforts, there was no enhancement in the value of Dewey's inherited estate..." during a period that included one of the longest and strongest bull markets in American history.


The case, "Bartlett D. v. Bartlett S.," FD-2002-522, involved Dewey Bartlett Jr filing for divorce against his wife, Susan Bartlett, on February 6, 2002, five weeks before their 20th wedding anniversary. Previously, on August 10, 2000, Susan had filed for separate maintenance. She filed a dismissal of that case (FD-2000-3454) on July 17, 2001.

The OSCN case summary suggests (to my untrained eye, at any rate) that this was anything but a quick, amicable, uncontested divorce. In his petition for divorce, Dewey Jr "allege[d] that a state of complete and irreconcilable incompatibility has arisen between the parties hereto which has completely destroyed the legitimate aims of the marriage of the parties and rendered its continuation impossible by reason of which the parties are entitled a Decree of Divorce each from the other." In her answer, Susan "denie[d] that the parties' relationship is such that the Court should award a divorce to either party." The trial was not held until January 2004, nearly two years after the case was filed. There were contempt citations and a what looks like a battle over attorney fees. The divorce decree was issued on July 15, 2004, but the case continued to see activity until October 17, 2007, when a mandate was signed by District Judge David Youll.

The case went to the Court of Civil Appeals because Dewey Jr claimed that their family home on 26th Street was his separate property and was not marital property, because it had been purchased and improved with money from his inheritance. Judge Youll agreed with Dewey Jr, but Susan appealed the decision.

(An interesting note: As of June 1, 2009, Dewey Jr was still registered to vote at the 26th St. house, although on July 13, 2009, he filed for mayor listing an address on 30th Place, where his current wife, Victoria, is registered to vote)

The three-judge appeals court panel reversed Youll on this point, noting that the house was first in joint tenancy and was, in 1997, conveyed to Susan's separate trust. The court's opinion states, "In this case, Husband and Wife lived together in the home for nearly fifteen years. They lived there together for five years after conveying the home to Wife's revocable trust. And, both began the divorce proceedings claiming the home was marital. Necessarily, however, transferring marital property to Wife's trust could not convert what was marital property into Husband's separate property." (See the extended entry for a longer excerpt from the opinion.)

On May 16, 2003, Dewey Jr filed a "Motion for Partial Summary Judgment and Brief in Support," mostly dealing with what constitutes his separate property. A spreadsheet attached as Exhibit "B" to the motion shows a summary of the Bartletts' net worth on five dates. Here are those dates with the footnotes to the spreadsheet, and the family's estimated net worth, summing what Dewey Jr claimed as his separate property, Susan's separate property, and their joint property. (Below you will find a link to a PDF of this motion with a separate PDF containing the spreadsheet only.)

The document is interesting for a couple of reasons. At this point in the proceedings, Dewey Jr classified the house on 26th St as marital property; at some point between this filing and the July 2004 divorce decree, he claimed it as his separate property. That claim created the issue that took the case to the appeals court.

But it's also interesting because it gives voters some hard data to evaluate Bartlett's claim to be a successful businessman who can help Tulsa create jobs and grow the local economy. We can see what Bartlett has done, by his own account, with the considerable amount of wealth he inherited.

  1. June 1987, "Pre D. A. Bartlett Trust Distribution": "Earliest financial statement located post-marriage, but pre-distribution from the David A. Bartlett Trust. Dewey owned 3.8701% of Keener Oil Co. at this time." Net worth listed as $576,167. The following month he would receive a trust distribution valued at $2,693,676.
  2. December 1987, "Post D. A. Bartlett Trust Distribution": "In July of 1987 Dewey received $697,884 in cash and cash items from the David A. Bartlett Trust. He also received an additional 22.7486% interest in Keener Oil Co. from the Trust, plus a 1/3 interest in 792 acres in Delaware Cty." Net worth listed as $3,361,354.
  3. December 1994, "Post Liquidation of Keener Oil Co.": "In the first six months of 1994 Keener Oil Co. was essentially liquidated. Dewey received approximately $900,000 cash and oil & gas properties. He contributed the properties to a newly formed corporation, Keener Oil & Gas Co., which he owned 100%. He was also entitled to receive 1/3 of the overfunding of the Keener Oil Co.'s pension plan when IRS approval to terminate was obtained (approximately $380,000)." Net worth listed as $4,551,825.
  4. December 2000, "Post Sale of Delaware Cty. Property": "In the later portion of 2000 the Delaware Cty. property owned 1/3 each by Dewey and his brother and sister was sold. Dewey received approximately $470,000 in cash and Osage Cty. real estate for his1/3 interest. With a portion of that cash Dewey purchased equipment for the Osage Cty. pecan farm." Net worth listed as $4,506,100.
  5. October 2002, "Current Position": "Dewey spent part of the cash he received form [sic] the sale of his Delaware Cty. property to purchase the condominium he is living in. He also purchased additional pecan farm equipment from the cash proceeds of the Delaware Cty. sale." Net worth listed as $3,613,000.

The additional assets received in the July 1987 trust distribution were valued, according to Dewey Jr's court filing, at $1.5 million (his additional interest in Keener Oil Co.) and $495,792 (his 1/3 interest in the Delaware County acreage). With the "cash and cash items," that amounts to an inherited boost to his bottom line of $2,693,676.

This statement appears on page 4 of the May 16, 2003 motion (emphasis added):

It is also undisputed that, despite Dewey's best managerial efforts, there was no enhancement in the value of Dewey's inherited estate during the course of the marriage. In fact, the value of Dewey's inherited estate declined during coverture through depletion or depreciation. Dewey managed his inheritance by transferring assets among and between the various components of his total inheritance.

As a point of comparison, between December 1994 and December 2000, the S&P 500 nearly tripled in value, but the Bartlett family's net worth declined slightly from $4,551,825 to $4,506,100, according to the spreadsheet mentioned above. Expanding the focus to the period from December 1987 to October 2002, the value of the S&P 500 was multiplied by 3.55 (increased by 255%), while the Bartlett family's net worth (according to Dewey Jr) increased by only 7%.

In other words, "Dewey's best managerial efforts" were an order of magnitude less successful than the simple act of putting everything in an S&P 500 index fund.

Here are PDF files of the key documents cited above. These are composed of photographs of the microfilm machine screen. The photos have been edited only in three ways -- rotated to portrait orientation, cropped to show only the page and not the microfilm machine, and bank account numbers redacted. These documents are public record and can be accessed at the microfilm department of the Tulsa County Court Clerk's office. (The original case record is so bulky that it cannot ordinarily be checked out; instead, individual documents have to be accessed on the microfilm reel for the day the document was filed with the court.)

  1. Dewey Bartlett Jr's petition for divorce (3 MB PDF)
  2. Susan Bartlett's answer to divorce petition (2 MB PDF)
  3. Dewey Bartlett Jr's May 16, 2003, motion for partial summary judgment:
    1. Background section only (includes the quotes mentioned above) (2 MB PDF)
    2. Exhibit B spreadsheet of the Bartletts' net worth from 1987 to 2002 (9 MB PDF)
    3. Full 18 pages of motion and brief, plus Exhibits A and B and Dewey Jr's affidavit, which includes a record of his annual salary for the years from 1987 to 2002 (16 MB PDF)

75% of the contributors to Phil Lakin's campaign for Tulsa City Council District 8 do not reside in the district. Those contributors gave 71% of the contributions in excess of $200 (the only contributions required to be reported by name). Lakin is head of the Tulsa Community Foundation and a trustee of the George Kaiser Family Foundation. The biggest cluster of Lakin contributors and contributions is to be found in District 9 -- 44% and 41% respectively. These statistics strengthen the perception that Lakin has stronger social ties to the midtown Money Belt than to the south Tulsa neighborhoods he seeks to represent.

This analysis assigns donors to the district where they are registered to vote or reside, rather than the office mailing address they may have used in their contribution disclosure statement. For example, Francis Rooney listed the Manhattan Construction headquarters address on his contribution, but according to the disclosures filed with his 2008 Federal campaign contributions, he lives in Naples, Florida, and he is not registered to vote in Oklahoma. Dan Buford listed a P. O. Box on his Lakin donation, and he is registered to vote at 107 S. Phoenix, the old Irving School in Council District 1, but at least as of 2008, he and his wife Kay still lived at the Blair Mansion in District 9 and at the time planned to continue to live there, although the property has been sold to the George Kaiser Family Foundation.

Here is the breakdown of Lakin's donors by council district.

Here is a summary of the pre-primary Form C-1 ethics reports filed with the Tulsa City Clerk's office by 5 p.m. today by Republican candidates, the deadline for the pre-primary filing for next Tuesday's Tulsa City Council races. I have listed all contributors $1,000 and over for the mayoral and auditor candidates, all contributors over $200 for city councilor candidates.

The reports cover contributions and expenditures through August 24, 2009. Donors are from Tulsa unless otherwise noted. Reports were also filed by District 7's John Eagleton, who was re-elected without opposition, Karl Hulcher, the unopposed Republican District 3 nominee, and G. T. Bynum, the unopposed Republican District 9 nominee; these will be posted at a later time. Another entry will feature the Democratic primary candidates

The details are below. Here are some observations:

I can't quantify the change (yet) but an increasing number of donors list their office address on their contribution disclosures, rather than their residential address. This particularly seems to be the case with high-dollar donors to high-dollar candidates. This makes it difficult to tell whether the donors are Tulsa residents or not, and for City Council candidates, which donors actually live in the district. Phil Lakin's money seems to come overwhelmingly from outside District 8, but it would be hard to quantify precisely without researching the home address of the many donors who used an office address on the disclosure form. (E.g., former Kathy Taylor economic adviser Don Himelfarb listed the Dollar Thrifty headquarters on 31st St as his address.) If this isn't an actual violation of the campaign ethics law, at least it's a violation of the spirit of the law.

Bartlett received a large number of big contributions from donors who do not live in Tulsa. This includes a contribution from the Chickasaw Nation, which also donated to Tom Adelson. (Why is the Chickasaw Nation, a south-central Oklahoma tribe, interested in City of Tulsa politics?)

Nearly all of auditor candidate Preston Doerflinger's campaign contributions came from people who do not live in Tulsa. Why is this?

A large portion of contributions to Chris Medlock were in-kind donations of goods and services.

The contribution reports for the mayor's race seem to back up my earlier statement that only two Republican candidates have significant support beyond immediate family and close friends. Only Medlock and Bartlett Jr (or should I call him Bartlet Jr now?) have exceeded $5,000 in contributions and expenditures.

It was surprising to see that Chris Trail, not an incumbent, have a carryover of contributions and expenditures. Does this indicate he was raising money for a race even before he moved into the district from outside the city limits?

Chris Trail also received $500 from Mayor Kathy Taylor's husband, Bill Lobeck. His two biggest contributors, and Carol Smith, apparently a cattle rancher from Rogers County, contributing $5,000, and David Sharp, a major property owner in downtown's Brady Arts District, contributing $4,000.

Eric Gomez has heavy support from sources related to the Bank of Oklahoma, including BOK PAC, Frederic Dorwart (the bank's attorney), and bank chairman George Kaiser.

Bill Martinson shows no expenditures whatsoever, and yet (I'm told) he has an ad running on digital billboards and there are yard signs in evidence. Gomez has an ad on digital billboards, too, but his report shows no billboard expenditure or any spending in a more generic category that might include billboards.

Click the link to the jump for the specifics from the contribution reports:

About this Archive

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

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