February 2010 Archives

Note: Reader Mike comments, "FYI, Ballots are out of sync with the school board's proposal PDF explanation. Side 2 (ballot back side) lists Question/Proposition #3 as Transportation and Question/Proposition #4 as Textbooks, Materials & Technology." I've corrected the order below to reflect the ballot proposition numbers.

This Tuesday, Tulsa Public Schools taxpayers will vote on a massive $354 million bond issue (click for an unwieldy PDF of the proposal), organized into four questions:

  1. Building Facilities Construction and Repairs: $261,415,000
  2. Library Books, Learning Materials and Building Additions: $19,600,000
  3. Transportation: $11,695,000
  4. Textbooks, Classroom Learning Materials and Technology: $61,290,000

I plan to vote against proposition 1 (facilities) and for the other three (libraries, classroom, transportation).

Although passage of the bond issue won't raise the overall millage, TPS still has an obligation to focus any bond issue on necessities. But a full fifth of Proposition 1 ($52,460,000) is devoted to athletic facilities -- stadium press box upgrades, all weather tracks and track re-surfacing, locker and weight room improvements, artificial turf, and a whopping $30 million for new field houses for Washington, Edison, and Memorial High School. Spending this kind of money on athletic facilities in this bond issue means deferring repairs, renovations, and expansions that serve the core function of the school system. Most of the proposed athletic facility improvements are the sort of thing that used to be funded by alumni, local businesses, and booster clubs.

Another reason to vote no -- a reason that applies to the entire bond package -- is the enormous percentage of the package designated for "Professional Services/Bond Management Fee" -- a grand total of $11,071,000, more than 3% of the total bond package. I have this sneaking suspicion (although I can't verify it) that the professional services and bond management that will be funded with this $11 million won't be competitively bid.

The bond package includes materials and projects that look like operating expenses to me, not capital equipment, and many of the numbers seem randomly selected -- e.g. $15,000 per high school for PE and health education equipment. Why not $10,000 or $20,000? It doesn't seem to be based on specific needs.

The following line item is almost enough to make me vote against the classroom materials proposition:

21st Century Classroom Teaching Equipment $6,661,800

Funds will be used to provide equitable access to quality learning tools, technologies, and resources to create learning environments and teaching practices that will equip all students with 21st Century skils. To meet the diverse learning needs of today's students, classrooms will be equipped with technological tools that include electronic whiteboards, sound enhancement, video systems, and other technologies to create interactive learning environments, enabling students to learn in a relevant, real world context. These new technologies will support an expanded community and global involvement in learning, both face-to-face with classroom teachers, as well as online with learning communities, preparing our students for a highly competitive and collaborative world.

I see every week what Augustine Christian Academy manages to accomplish with plain ol' whiteboards, donated, slightly out-of-date computer equipment, and per-pupil expenditures less than half that of the state public school system. ACA doesn't have much in the way of classroom technology, but they do have caring teachers, orderly classrooms, and a focus on the essentials of knowledge. Electronic whiteboards may be fun to play with, may have some marginal instructional value, but they aren't going to "prepar[e] our students for a highly competitive and collaborative world." With all this technology and no change in TPS's educational philosophy, TPS will continue to turn out graduating seniors who are less prepared for success in the world than my tenant farmer grandpa was when he finished 8th grade in 1931.

There are signs of bloat all over this bond package. It's telling that you never see a breakdown of each category of spending to the level of items that one could buy at retail. As we've seen with the State Auditor's investigation of the Skiatook school district, it's easy to hide big commissions and markups in an aggregate number. It's only when you look at specific items -- computers, light bulbs, trashcans -- that you can tell whether the district is getting good value for money.

There's one final reason I'm voting against the school's facilities bond: I've seen what they did with facilities funds in previous bond issues. A few months ago I was over on the west side and stopped in at Crow's Drive-In for a bite to eat. Just across the street to the south is the architectural abortion known as the new Clinton Middle School. TPS tore down a dignified civic building, originally built as Red Fork's own high school, and erected a really hideous building in its place.


Clinton Middle School from the Beryl Ford Collection



Because this is a long entry, you'll need to click the "Continue reading" link to see the whole thing. Clicking any of the photos will take you to a bigger version and my full set of San Antonio streetscape photos. If you're interested in hotels, restaurants, historic preservation, and entertainment in San Antonio, read on....

Aztec Theater, San Antonio, MDB10710

Once again last week, business took me to San Antonio. It was a productive trip. We worked second shift instead of third, which was much more pleasant. I was awake enough during the day to get out and enjoy the sunny 60-degree weather.

One of the things I love about San Antonio is the strong commitment to historic preservation, a commitment that dates back almost 90 years. The San Antonio Conservation Society was founded in 1924 "to preserve the 'antiquated foreignness' embodied in San Antonio's charm and character," and it has been successful in that regard, but as a happy side effect, the society's efforts have also succeeded in preserving the early 20th century commercial buildings that were brand new or not even built when the society was founded. The result is a bustling urban downtown as an attraction for tourists and conventioneers.

The story of the San Antonio Conservation Society is worth reading. Like a similar organization in Savannah, it was founded by prominent and wealthy women who were outraged at the threatened destruction of a historic market. And as in Savannah, San Antonio's preservationists lost their first battle but went on to create a culture where history is cherished.

The ladies of the Conservation Society came up with creative ways to make the case for preservation:

In September 1924, after sketching the Commissioners at their weekly meetings, the ladies presented a play called, "The Goose with the Golden Eggs." They performed their play after the commissioners' regular meeting with puppets crafted to look like the men themselves. The commissioners of the play were called upon to arbitrate an argument between Mr. and Mrs. San Antonio over whether San Antonio's character and charms should be killed to achieve prosperity more quickly. Of course, the Conservation Society members in the audience responded, "NO," and many cheered. Preservation of the city's character and charms would reap greater long-term benefits, including civic pride, than the mere accumulation of money.

Their response to the notion of filling in the Great Bend, which had been a recommendation in an engineering report, was to take the City Commissioners on a canoe ride on the bend just to show the men how beautiful it was. Many of them had never seen the river from that perspective before and were greeted along the way by children waving and pitching flowers to them from the bridges.

At yesterday's health care summit, Paul Ryan, a Republican congressman from Wisconsin, took six minutes to go point-by-point through the budgetary sleight of hand used to make the Democratic health care plan appear to reduce the deficit. The list includes double-counting, cuts to Medicare reimbursement (the kind of cuts that Congress always reverses) that likely won't happen, and the biggest trick of all -- ten-year budget scoring includes ten years of tax increases and ten years of Medicare cuts but only six years of new spending. An honest calculation, looking at the first ten years of spending, results in a cost of $2.3 trillion.

(Via Hot Air.)

On Tuesday, U. S. Sen. Jim Inhofe called for a Department of Justice investigation into possible scientific misconduct and criminal actions by scientists involved in misleading or fraudulent research into anthropogenic global warming (AGW). Over the last several months, key assertions by AGW advocates have been exposed as lacking sound scientific basis and some of these have been retracted by the International Panel on Climate Change. There is some indication that there was an effort to conceal accurate information from the public in general and policy-makers in particular. Inhofe calls the situation, popularly known as Climategate, "the greatest scientific scandal of our generation."

From a press release announcing an 84-page report by the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (Inhofe serves as ranking Republican on the committee), "'Consensus' Exposed: The CRU Controversy":

The report covers the controversy surrounding emails and documents released from the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit (CRU). It examines the extent to which those emails and documents affect the scientific work of the UN's IPCC, and how revelations of the IPCC's flawed science impacts the EPA's endangerment finding for greenhouse gases.

The report finds that some of the scientists involved in the CRU controversy violated ethical principles governing taxpayer-funded research and possibly federal laws. In addition, the Minority Staff believes the emails and accompanying documents seriously compromise the IPCC-based "consensus" and its central conclusion that anthropogenic emissions are inexorably leading to environmental catastrophes.

In its examination of the controversy, the Minority Staff found that the scientists:

- Obstructed release of damaging data and information;

- Manipulated data to reach preconceived conclusions;

- Colluded to pressure journal editors who published work questioning the climate science "consensus"; and

- Assumed activist roles to influence the political process.

"This EPW Minority Report shows that the CRU controversy is about far more than just scientists who lack interpersonal skills, or a little email squabble," said Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. "It's about unethical and potentially illegal behavior by some the world's leading climate scientists.

"The report also shows the world's leading climate scientists acting like political scientists, with an agenda disconnected from the principles of good science. And it shows that there is no consensus-except that there are significant gaps in what scientists know about the climate system. It's time for the Obama Administration to recognize this. Its endangerment finding for greenhouse gases rests on bad science. It should throw out that finding and abandon greenhouse gas regulation under the Clean Air Act-a policy that will mean fewer jobs, higher taxes and economic decline."

According to the report, several laws may have been violated by the scientists involved in Climategate:

  • Freedom of Information Act: "The Minority Staff is examining emails to determine whether scientists deliberately withheld information to prevent FOIA release. It is worth noting that a federal employee who arbitrarily and capriciously withholds documents which are subject to FOIA release may be subject to disciplinary action."
  • Shelby Amendment, which applies FOIA to data produced by government-funded research: "...failure to comply with an Agency request for raw data produced with federal funds could be deemed a breach of the funding agreement. Consequences of a breach could range from suspension to debarment."
  • Office of Science and Technology Policy "Misconduct in Research" directive, issued during the final months of the Clinton Administration
  • Pres. Obama's Transparency and Open Government Policy: "...as the data quality requirements define 'quality' to include 'objectivity' and 'objectivity' is defined to include unbiased information,85 the recent questions about the impartiality of the IPCC and EPA's TSD bring into question whether EPA has followed the President's Transparency and Open government policy."
  • Federal False Statements Act: "...jurisdiction exists regardless of whether the defendant communicated the statement directly to the government, or knew that the government had jurisdiction over the false statement. Similarly, knowingly submitting false data, from whatever source, could be deemed a violation."
  • Federal False Claims Act: "Creating a tampered data base and them making a claim for payment, e.g. for salaries and expenses, which will be paid, in whole or in part, with Federal funds can raise the prospect for a False Claims Act violation."
  • Obstruction of Justice: Interference with Congressional Proceedings: "Federal statute 18 U.S.C. 1505 concerns obstruction of proceedings before departments, agencies, or committees, which includes Congressional hearings.Thus, providing false or misleading testimony could create liability under this provision."

The report includes a list of key figures in the controversy and a selection of the e-mails and files that exposed Climategate.

This announcement in the latest TulsaNow newsletter is worth your attention. I've also been hearing rumblings about certain special interest groups who have avoided making public comments about PLANiTULSA now trying to get their own way behind the scenes, as they are accustomed to doing.

The PLANiTULSA process has been more open than any public input process I've ever seen in Tulsa, and all the comments submitted by the public have been made available. The documents resulting from the process are balanced and practical, moving us toward the transparent and predictable land use planning process many of us have been hoping for, an approach to land use planning that maximizes opportunities for innovation in new development while respecting the investments made by existing property owners in stable areas.
Anyway, here's the TulsaNow announcement:

TMAPC Public Hearings:
Tues, 2/23, 4:00-7:00 PM
Wed, 3/10, 1:30-4:30 PM
Location: City Hall, 2nd and Cincinnati

Make your voice heard! The Tulsa Metropolitan Area Planning Commission (TMAPC) will hold public hearings to receive your input on PLANiTULSA, consider amendments, and ultimately vote to recommend approval of the plan to the City Council.

Click here to learn more!

After more than two years of an incredibly open and well-received public process, expect various entities to make an eleventh-hour appearance in an attempt to shape the final product to suit their narrow interests. Speak up, and remind the TMAPC of the unprecedented public involvement that created a vision for Tulsa's future that serves the entire community.

Be informed. Stay involved.

This is especially important if you care about protecting the character of healthy, older neighborhoods. (It's interesting to see that certain interest groups have zeroed in on language that defines how infill should fit into areas of stability. Other groups would like to eliminate the entire concept of "areas of stability!")

Thanks to PLANiTULSA's diligent efforts to maintain transparency, you can view the PLANiTULSA Consolidated Log, which includes the comments that have been received by PLANiTULSA, and the responses/changes that have been made by the consulting team in response to public input. (Hint to neighborhood activists: pages 11-13 are especially illuminating.)

Speak up!

Please take a few minutes to communicate your support for PLANiTULSA.

If you would like to speak at one of the TMAPC meetings, be sure to read the Procedures for TMAPC Public Hearings on PLANiTULSA

Citizens are encouraged to sign up ahead of time to speak at the public hearings by calling (918) 576-5684.

You can also submit comments in lieu of testimony at the public hearing.

Download a Comment Card that you can fill out online and email, print out and mail, or bring with you to the hearing. Paper copies will also be available at the hearings. These comments should include your name and contact information, and may be submitted in one of the following ways:

Send "snail mail" to:
Ms. Michelle Cantrell, TMAPC
Two West 2nd Street, Suite 800
Tulsa, OK 74103-4236

Email to:

MORE INFO: www.planitulsa.org

2009-ok-blog-pol-con.jpgJust a quick note on the run: Many thanks to my fellow Oklahoma bloggers for honoring BatesLine with the Best Political Blog (Conservative) award. I'm particularly honored given the competition -- second place went to the excellent McCarville Report. (Happy anniversary, Mike and Ann!) And congratulations to the rest of the honorees for the 2009 Okie Blog Awards. I was especially pleased to see Dustbury honored as Best Veteran Blogger, Tasha Does Tulsa recognized with two awards -- best Tulsa blog and best culture blog -- and Erin Conrad Photography for best blog design. Irritated Tulsan had a couple of second place finishes, but as a weekly contributor he can claim a share of The Lost Ogle's Most Humorous Blog award.

I'd give more shout-outs, but I have to run. Thanks again to my fellow Okie bloggers for the great honor.

The formal process of adopting the PLANiTULSA vision and policy plan as part of the City of Tulsa's comprehensive plan will begin this Tuesday, February 23, 2010, with a public hearing from 4 to 7 p.m. at City Hall, 2nd and Cincinnati, on the 2nd floor. The public hearing will be continued to a March 10 TMAPC meeting at the usual time and day of the week.

There is a memo detailing how the TMAPC plans to handle the public hearing process for PLANiTULSA. You can sign up ahead of time for an opportunity to speak by calling (918) 576-

TMAPC plans to keep the public hearing open through subsequent meetings until everyone who wishes to speak has had a chance.

Unfortunately, once the TMAPC members begin their discussion and begin to consider amendments to the PLANiTULSA documents, the public will no longer have an opportunity to comment. This is normal, but nonetheless frustrating. We won't really know what our TMAPC members intend to change until it's too late to offer comment or rebuttal. I would urge the TMAPC to allow public comment on each substantive amendment taken up for consideration. I would also urge the City of Tulsa planning department and INCOG to make public in advance of the meeting any language they provide to the TMAPC as a possible plan amendment, to allow for public comment in the public realm (if not in the TMAPC meeting itself) prior to the TMAPC considering such an amendment.

It should be noted that the TMAPC does not have the final word, and whatever amendments the TMAPC adopts can be wiped out by the City Council.

MORE: There's one final Council District meeting on PLANiTULSA. It's tonight, Monday, February 22, 2010, from 6 to 8 pm, at Memorial High School, in Council District 7.

Cool and cranky

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It's always a surprise to get a comment on an old post, usually a pleasant one.

Over the last 24 hours, two old blog entries have received comments.

The first, from Lisa S. of Joshua, Texas, was posted to my July 2008 entry about a visit to the pictographs at Paint Rock, Texas. Last week, she and her dad were heading back home from visiting the town of Paint Rock and decided to follow the signs to the pictographs. I guess she was looking on the web for more info, came across my writeup, and was kind enough to report her own wonderful tour of the pictographs.

The second, from Howard Giles, posted from an Albuquerque, N.M., IP address, complains bitterly about my May 2009 entry on a 1981 Downtown Tulsa Unlimited plan for redeveloping what we now call Brady Arts District (or, better, the Bob Wills District). I had quoted from an April 7, 1981, Tulsa World business news story on the plan, which included extensive quotes from planner John Lauder of Urban Design Group. Mr. Giles thinks I should have done further research -- actually sought out a copy of the plan -- before writing anything about it. I replied: "It's not meant to be a finished piece of research, just a snippet of information I thought deserving of wider exposure. I let my readers know the source of the information and where it could be found so that an interested reader could do further research on his own." In my reply, I invited Mr. Giles to share any specific information he has about the 1981 plan.

From a TPD press release Tuesday, reversing the February 4 decision not to respond to non-injury accidents:

Due to police layoffs, a temporary change in collision response was made on February 4, 2010, until a manpower re-distribution and re-structuring of the Department could be evaluated. Since that time, the Police Department has reviewed 911 call priorities and the decision of diverting non-injury collision calls to alternative reporting methods.

Effective immediately, Tulsa Police will respond to all collisions on public roadways in the Tulsa City limits. Some collisions on Private Property, i.e. shopping center parking lots, will be referred to alternative reporting (Operator Collision forms at local convenience stores and online).

We would like to thank the citizens of Tulsa for their patience and support during these difficult times. Additionally, we appreciate the Tulsa County Sheriff's office for volunteering to be on standby during that time of transition.

On the February 9, 2010, edition of CNBC's Mad Money with Jim Kramer, Oklahoma 1st District Congressman John Sullivan discussed the regulatory obstacles to using America's reserves of natural gas to move toward energy independence. Kramer called Sullivan one of the "good guys in Washington when it comes to the need to adopt natural gas" and mentioned Sullivan's authorship of HR 1622, funding for natural gas vehicle research, development, and demonstration projects -- the bill passed the House last year and is awaiting action by the Senate Energy Committee. Kramer also mentioned that Sullivan is one of the original cosponsors on HR 1835, the NAT GAS act (New Alternative Transportation to Give Americans Solutions), which would give tax credits to auto manufacturers for building natural gas-powered vehicles and to consumers for buying them. HR 1835 and companion bill S 1408 are both stuck in committee.

In the interview, Kramer and Sullivan discussed the possibility that the EPA could ban the principal method for reaching and extracting natural gas from rock formations, in the name of protecting drinking water. Sullivan said that there's never been a case of the hydraulic fracturing technique contaminating an aquifer.

Congressman Sullivan will hold a town hall meeting tonight, Thursday, February 18, 2010, at 5 pm, at the Central Center at Centennial Park, on 6th Street west of Peoria in Tulsa.

MORE: T. Boone Pickens (whom I may eventually forgive for his hostile takeover attempt on Cities Service back in the early '80s) comments on the Kramer/Sullivan interview:

When it comes to investing, natural gas is a "long-term theme," says Mad Money host Jim Cramer, who describes it as an energy source that's 40 percent cleaner than coal, 30 percent cleaner than oil, and much more realistic as a bridge fuel than wind or solar when it comes to combating climate change or ending America's addiction to foreign oil.

So what's Cramer's problem with natural gas? He thinks Washington doesn't get the picture, that's what. Cramer invited Rep. John Sullivan (OK-1) on his show Monday night to discuss the prospects for enhancing America's energy security with this inexpensive, clean-burning domestic fuel.

He couldn't have picked a better guest. For decades, Oklahoma's First Congressional District, which Sullivan represents, has been been a national leader in energy production. Sullivan is continuing this tradition as the lead Republican sponsor of the bipartisan NAT GAS Act in the House, which now has 130 cosponsors from both sides of the aisle.

Sullivan's take on natural gas is simple and straightforward. It is "the bridge fuel as we look at an all-of-the-above strategy," he told Cramer. Later, he added that "alternative energy sources aren't going to happen for a long time. We have 120 years' reserves of natural gas here in America."

I have a couple of technological frustrations that I would like to vent:

1. I plug an external hard drive into a USB port on my laptop. The drive is a USB 2.0 device, capable of transferring data at 480 Mbps. The laptop is new enough so that all of its USB ports are USB 2.0. But still, some of the time, Windows reports: "This device can perform faster. This USB device can perform faste if you connect it to a Hi-Speed USB 2.0 port. For a list of available ports, click here." Data transfers then happen at a sluggish 12 Mbps, the speed for USB 1.1, a fortieth of the speed of USB 2.0. But I can unplug the cable and plug it back in and Windows suddenly realizes that the port is USB 2.0 and gives me the higher rate of speed with no error message.

I'm running Windows XP, but I see that the same issue comes up in Windows 7.

Now, I could imagine the OS being uncertain about the device's compatibility with USB 2.0 and so throttling back to USB 1.1 speed in such a situation. But the computer's operating system should know that all of its own ports are 2.0 all the time.

2. Facebook has this neat feature: When you insert a webpage URL in the status update box, it fetches images from that page, the title of the page, and an excerpt from the page. You can pick which image to display as a thumbnail, edit the title, and edit the excerpt, then add your comment on the link in the box. It makes the links you post a bit more eye-catching than they would be otherwise.

But this feature doesn't always work, and lately, for my site, it never works. The link preview is the hostname of the site (www.batesline.com) and the first 40 characters of the URL. You can't add a description. You can't add a thumbnail.

I've been using the link preview feature on the Michael D. Bates "fan page" to notify the 200 people signed up as fans about new blog posts here. Recently I've had some posts with eyecatching photos, but I can't show those eyecatching photos as part of a Facebook link, and that's frustrating.

Got a gripe about something that should work consistently but doesn't? Feel free to voice it in the comments.

A surprising find in a surprising place on the web. The find is an interview with Bob Wills and Tommy Duncan around the time of their 1960 reunion. (Wills had fired Duncan in 1949.) The place is on the website of psychotherapist Alyce Faye Eichelberger Cleese. (As you may have guessed, she was married, from 1996 to 2008, to John Cleese. She is a native of Frederick, Okla., and a graduate of OSU.) Her webmaster, Bob Richards, is a record producer who met Alyce Faye when he wound up producing her interview show on Santa Barbara radio station KZSB.

Bob Richards has had a fascinating life and career, which he recounts on his bio page. As a 12 year old in 1947 (the Tiffany Transcription era), he met Bob Wills at a dance in San Jose. In 1960, working as a for a Long Beach country music radio show, he produced a show with host Texas Tiny interviewing Bob Wills and Tommy Duncan in between songs dating back to the earliest days of the Texas Playboys (and before -- the two songs Bob recorded with Milton Brown during their days as Light Crust Doughboys). Bob and Tommy tell a fascinating story of how they wrote and recorded "I Wonder If You Feel the Way I Do" and shipped it air express to the plant in New Jersey all in the wee hours of one morning. Here's what Bob Richards writes about how Bob and Tommy got back together:

My next venture into radio was 1959. There was a local DJ named Texas Tiny (400 lbs at least) who worked on KFOX in Long Beach. Joe Allison, who wrote "He'll Have To Go," the Jim Reeves hit, also worked there as a DJ. Joe later became an A&R man at Liberty Records and reunited Bob Wills and Tommy Duncan in 1960 by signing them to separate contracts and putting both names on the albums.

You can find that 1960 Bob Wills and Tommy Duncan interview linked from Richards' bio page. On the same page, you'll find a brief 1978 interview with Texas Playboys fiddler Joe Holley.

Richards also has a YouTube channel with a bunch of Bob Wills film clips.


A demo Bob Wills radio show for B. F. Goodrich dealers with music, between-song patter, and a pitch by Cactus Jack that Bob Wills music will move merchandise. Other rarities on the same site include a recording of a Bob Wills performance for Boeing Aircraft Company in Wichita in 1958, with a radio interview, in which Bob explains that Western Swing owes its start to the advent of the amplifier.

Slightly RELATED:

In an interview in The Times, John Cleese offers a sort of reason for the failure of his third marriage:

"It's very important for me that my friends have a sense of humour. To me it's the kind of touchstone of communication. Alyce Faye's sense of humour was not very European, because she was from Oklahoma and I used to joke that the Oklahoma Sense of Irony is one of the world's short books." How did he cope? "Well I just didn't make certain kinds of jokes around her."
Sandra Lyn Rhea, prom night

Today was a special celebration for our family -- a milestone birthday for Mom. We gathered at my sister's house. She baked a special birthday cake -- two hearts side-by-side with chocolate frosting -- and heart-shaped sugar cookies. Brother-in-law braved the cold to grill burgers outside -- fresh beef from his dad's farm.

My sister came up with a great idea for a gift, and Mom was very, very pleased with it. It's a photo book from KodakGallery.com. We gathered photos from Mom's childhood, young adulthood, parenthood, and grandparenthood, uploaded them to the site and used templates to arrange photos and text in the book. We included favorite memories from each of her kids and grandkids. The result was a beautiful hardbound book with full-color pages. My sister picked the photo above for the book's cover.


MORE: A couple of years ago I devoted my weekly column to a tribute to Mom and Dad.

And if you know Sandy Bates, had her as a kindergarten teacher, worked with her, feel free to leave a birthday greeting in the comments below, and I'll be sure she sees them.

I'm pleased and proud to welcome a new BatesLine sponsor: Janet Barresi, a candidate for State Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Barresi has an impressive background in K-12 education, including direct experience in dealing with the challenges of urban education as a founder of two successful charter schools in Oklahoma City.

janetbarresi.jpgI believe our schools should be as great as our state, but that goal cannot be achieved without solid leadership in the Department of Education, which is why I have chosen to run for State Superintendent of Public Instruction.

My platform is very simple. I want to ensure that parents are always encouraged to be involved in the education of their children and that they have the ability to choose the correct education for their child. I want to create a State Department of Education that is a resource for local districts, and I want to ensure that our testing of students is a byproduct of good teaching that enables us to truly understand how effective we are being, while empowering teachers to do what they do best: teach.

I know we can do better than we are today. Through my experiences in launching what is now Independence Charter Middle School, as well as Harding Charter Preparatory High School (which was recently recognized as one of the top high schools in America by Newsweek), I have seen that high expectations, a rigorous curriculum and an involved staff can be successful, regardless of the socio-economic background of the students.

Beyond her volunteer work in the schools, Janet Barresi was a speech pathologist and then a dentist for 24 years before retiring.

Tulsa Chigger, who is our local watchdog on charter school issues, had this to say:

I whole-heartedly endorse Dr. Janet Barresi and her campaign for the office of Oklahoma State Superintendent of Schools. She is an experienced reformer with the right set of priorities. I have personally worked with her on some charter school issues in years past.

I urge you to learn about Dr. Barresi by clicking that ad in the sidebar and visiting her website. I think you'll be impressed.

(A click-through is also a nice way to tell her thanks for sponsoring BatesLine.)

Getting caught up:

Early last month (best defined as the very cold windy period between the big Christmas snowstorm and the big late January ice storm), I had two back-to-back business trips, both involving graveyard-shift hours, separated by less than a day at home. The first trip was to Altus AFB, in southwestern Oklahoma.

Altus and I go back 22 years, with trips to work on C-141 and KC-135 simulators in (approximately) 1987, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2006, and 2007. While there's one fastest way between here and there -- I-44 to Lawton then US 62 to Altus, there are plenty of other paths, and I took as many as I could to see as much of southwest Oklahoma as I could -- Cordell, Hobart, Hollis, Granite, Gotebo, Burns Flat (once home to an Air Force Base of its own), Clinton, Weatherford. When I learned at the 1998 National Preservation Conference that Oklahoma had one of the top Main Street small-town revitalization programs in the nation, I could believe it because I'd seen the results in many of these towns.

If I didn't have time to get too far off the straightest route, there were still some interesting but brief diversions along the way. US 62 is now straight as a string from west of Lawton to Altus, but before the 1970s, US 62 followed the railroad and the terrain and passed through several towns: Cache, Indiahoma, Snyder, and Headrick. Most of that old US 62 alignment still exists as county-maintained roads; the Snyder loop is still a designated highway -- US 62 Business.

My very favorite piece of this old road was a four-mile segment, beginning 10.5 miles east of the center of Altus, looping off to the south, through Headrick, then across the North Fork of the Red River and a railroad before rejoining the main road west of Snyder. This piece of road nicks the northwest corner of Tillman County -- an important fact to which I'll return later.

Here's what I wrote about it after a trip three years ago, in a blog entry about the scenic route between Altus and Medicine Park that I started but never finished until tonight:

The road skirts the northern edge of the little town then winds through some some rocky hills and over a long pony truss bridge across the North Fork of the Red River, followed by a through truss bridge over a railroad. The old concrete roadbed, the old style bridges, the pale orange rocks, and the mesquite trees combine to look like a fading slide from a summer vacation out west circa 1947.

The concrete of this old road is in exceptionally good condition, and as I prepared to head back to Tulsa at the end of my most recent visit, I was looking forward to driving it.

But there was a problem:

Bridge out sign, old US 62 east of Headrick, Oklahoma

The problem became an opportunity. While I had driven this road several times before, I had only seen it at 35 or 40 miles per hour. It was a sunny, cold day, but I was bundled up and the wind wasn't too bad, so I decided to go for a walk.

Looking east on Old US 62 bridge east of Headrick, Oklahoma

The walk gave me a nice view of the North Fork of the Red River, once claimed by Texas to be the main branch of the river and therefore the border between Texas and Indian Territory. To the west, between the two forks of the Red and the 100th Meridian was Greer County, Texas. A U. S. Supreme Court decision in 1896 proclaimed that this land belonged to Oklahoma. (Here's Texas' side of the story.)

The shallow river was still mostly ice. This photo is looking south toward the BNSF (formerly Frisco) tracks.

Ice in the North Fork Red River

The bridge and road are actually in very good condition, but the railroad overpass beyond it is closed and in need of repair.

Damaged railroad overpass, old US 62 east of Headrick, OK

With the railroad overpass closed, the river bridge (when it was open) formed a very lengthy cul-de-sac, a fact that seemed to have been noted by the area's unruly youths:

Graffiti-covered granite at the eastern end of the old US 62 bridge over the North Fork Red River

According to the Oklahoma Bridges website, the river bridge was closed in October 2009. Built in 1929, the bridge has 23 trusses, is 1,924 feet long. The posted weight limit is 17 tons. It was US 62 until a new, more direct alignment between Altus and the river was opened in 1970.

Regarding the railroad overpass, the Oklahoma Bridges website says:

The left endpost looks as though it was struck, as all the concrete guard rail is missing on the north side of the west approach, and the cover plate on the endpost is damaged. Despite these deficiencies, the bridge was given satisfactory and fair marks in its 2007 inspection. Despite this, and despite the fact it is a heavy bridge, Tillman County decided to close this bridge on Oct. 26, 2009....

We at Oklahoma Bridges are hopeful that repairs will be made to this bridge and that it will be reopened. Its closure has also affected another nearby bridge, the Old US 62 North Fork Red River Bridge, which was also closed by neighboring Jackson County because, with this overpass bridge closed, the river bridge dead ends.

So back to the car:

North Fork Red River bridge, old US 62, Headrick, OK

(After the 1.5" of ice they got in late January, I'll bet those trees aren't overhanging the road anymore.)

And back down the highway...

Westbound on old US 62 east of Headrick, OK

... to my next adventure:

Meers Burger and Meers Gold beer, Meers, OK

Click any of the above photos to see bigger versions and to explore the rest of my Flickr photoset of my southwest Oklahoma trip, including photos of a monument to the vanished APCO refinery in Cyril and interesting buildings in downtown Altus (before the massive ice storm that knocked power out for more than a week).

Tulsa District 7 City Councilor John Eagleton has posted a lengthy e-mail from an employee in the City of Tulsa's Information Technology Department responding to the concerns of several councilors that the department is overpaid and overstaffed. Click the link to read the whole thing, but here's the heart of the matter -- private-sector incentives for excellence don't work in a unionized environment where seniority trumps performance:

When I first started working at the City I was pleasantly surprised at the number of talented and dedicated I/T employees. At the same time I was dumbfounded at the number of employees, especially employees with a significant number of years with the City, that barely, or rarely met their job requirements. In over five years I have yet to see a project completed by its deadline. I have also yet to see consequences for not meeting a project deadline. The culture in the I/T department is no reward for exceptional work and no punishment for substandard work. The dedicated I/T employees are making things happen solely from a sense of duty and satisfaction from a job well done. At the end of the day everyone gets the same pay raise, no pay raise or same pay cut regardless of their effort. The list of I/T employees that could be let go without loss of service to customers is long. Unfortunately if there were layoffs those are the employees that would stay.

IT may be about the easiest government function to outsource. There are plenty of hungry application programmers, software toolsmiths, web designers, and number crunchers who would compete to do work for the city. The city would still need strategic planners and analysts to determine what IT work is needed, to define requirements, and to write specifications, acting as interpreters between the non-IT folk in city government and the IT contractors. And the city would need program managers to oversee and validate the work done by outside contractors. While there are overheads involved in soliciting bids and overseeing contracts, I still suspect there could be some substantial savings. It's worth a look.

Apropos the recent story on high water usage, here are a couple of public service announcements on water conservation featuring Gailard Sartain:

Check out the Tulsa TV Memories YouTube channel for more glimpses into Tulsa broadcasting history, including several more clips from KGCT 41, the short-lived attempt at news-talk TV on downtown Tulsa's Main Mall.

One of the many surprising results from Tuesday's election was the defeat of three out of four questions on the City of Jenks ballot. A bond issue for streets was approved, but a bond issue for city hall improvements and a 3/4-cent sales tax for fire trucks and water and sewer upgrades failed. (The sales tax involved two separate questions.) From the story on the KJRH website, city officials seemed to accept the result and that they needed to put together a less expensive package to win the voters' approval.

Two quick thoughts:

If a city is growing, as Jenks is, and adding retail, as Jenks is, it shouldn't need to increase the sales tax rate to meet the demand for additional city services. Retail sales and sales tax receipts should grow along with the city, without the need to boost the rate.

Jenks Mayor Vic Vreeland has always been a big booster of the various county sales taxes -- Four to Fix the County Tax, Vision 2025 Tax, and the River Tax. While Jenks has reaped some benefit from the taxes that passed, that added county sales tax burden (0.25 cents for 4 to Fix the County plus 0.6 cents for Vision 2025) likely made Jenks voters less willing to accept any added city sales tax. Without those two county sales taxes (I'm excluding the 1/6-cent for jail operations), the 3/4-cent Jenks sales tax increase would have brought the overall sales tax rate to 8.417%, the current rate in Tulsa and a level that people are evidently willing to tolerate.

Jim Hewgley, the former Streets Commissioner and a fellow opponent of Vision 2025, called me a couple of days ago about the proposal to increase Tulsa's sales tax by a penny for public safety. Jim reminded me of what we were saying back in 2003: Instead of hiking tax rates for amenities, let's save some taxing capacity for when we might need it to pay for basic municipal services. Chris Medlock, as a candidate for mayor in 2006, made a similar argument, calling for rejection of the 4 to Fix the County renewal to leave room for the City of Tulsa to consider a sales tax increase to fund public safety.

Even if you believe that all the sales tax generated by the BOk Center represents new money -- and it's likely that most of it is simply being reallocated from other entertainment options in Tulsa, but for the sake of argument let's assume it's all new revenue -- most of us will be dead before it generates as much revenue for basic services as if we had directly devoted that money to basic services.

Oklahoma's statewide school board elections are today, February 9, 2010. Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Two Tulsa school board seats are being contested: Here is a PDF map of Tulsa School Board District 7 and here's a PDF map of Tulsa School Board District 4. District 4 is mainly east of Memorial and north of 31st (not including Layman Van Acres). District 7 is the southern edge of the Tulsa schools territory -- most everything south of 51st St, plus the Patrick Henry subdivision. You can read my comments on the 2010 Tulsa school board election here.

Steven Roemerman has the scoop on the Union School District bond issue.

It's always interesting to see the Money Belt make an appearance in unexpected ways. The latest manifestation is in a map of water usage by neighborhood generated by the Tulsa World from city utility records.

The neighborhoods with heaviest usage -- an average of 125,000 gallons per year and up -- fall along a narrow band from Maple Ridge through Utica Square through Southern Hills and to the gated communities of south Tulsa -- with a slight gap between I-44 and Joe Creek. Maps of the highest priced homes, of members of city boards and commissions, of precincts with the greatest percentage support for tax increases -- all follow a similar pattern. Correlation does not imply causation, but it's interesting nonetheless and together with the PLANiTULSA polling this pattern suggests a kind of subculture different from the rest of the city.

According to the World's story about water usage, the average annual use for single-family homes is about 83,000 gallons.

The Tulsa World has provided a way to search the Tulsa water use database, and I've been having a little fun with it. Our usage, for the record, about 10% higher than the average and higher than I'd like, but not bad with five people in the house, a large yard to water (occasionally) and a small fishpond to top off in summer.

Here's how our city elected officials measure up for annual water use in gallons, based on the address on their filing form:

Dewey Bartlett Jr.
Mayor           138,000
Preston Doerflinger
Auditor           327,000
Jack Henderson
Council District 1
Rick Westcott
Council District 2
Roscoe Turner
Council District 3
Maria Barnes
Council District 4
Chris Trail
Council District 5
Jim Mautino
Council District 6
John Eagleton
Council District 7
Bill Christiansen
Council District 8
G. T. Bynum
Council District 9

Our current mayor looks pretty conservative compared to previous incumbents, especially his immediate predecessor.

J. M. Hewgley Jr.
Bob LaFortune
Jim Inhofe
Rodger Randle
Bill LaFortune
Kathy Taylor
Dewey Bartlett Jr

Former Mayors Richard C. Crawford and M. Susan Savage no longer live in Tulsa. I couldn't find former Mayor Terry Young in the database.

Bartlett's annual usage pales compared to his main mayoral rival (Tom Adelson, 412,000 gals/yr) but is about four times as much as independents Mark Perkins (32,000) and Lawrence Kirkpatrick (33,000).

What about big institutional users? A search for Southern Hills turned up four accounts that seemed connected to the country club: 26,813,000 gallons per year. But the Southern Hills Marriott Hotel uses 30,067,000. Philbrook and its beautiful gardens use 11,089,000.

St. Francis Hospital? 219,766,000 gallons. That's a lot of handwashing.

Walmarts are big users. Interestingly, the Woodland Hills Walmart (6.9 million) uses almost twice as much water as the Admiral and Memorial Walmart (3.5 million). Irritated Tulsan would not be surprised.

The thirstiest Quik Trip in Tulsa is the truck stop at Admiral and 165th East Ave -- 2,552,000. The least thirsty -- about a tenth of the water -- is at Gilcrease Museum Road and the Sand Springs Expressway.

Lortondale Pool, a privately-owned pool (but the public can join as members), used 376,000 gallons last year. That's a lot, but not bad when divided out among the number of families that belong. It's certainly more reasonable than the consumption involved if each of those families had a private pool, however small.

Big Splash? 13,983,000.

Hmmm: On average, the six board members of Sustainable Tulsa use 173,167 gals/yr, a bit more than twice the average for a single-family home.

Our municipal customers: Owasso, 886 million gallons; Bixby, 1 billion; Jenks, 989 million; Glenpool, 298 million; Catoosa, 126 million; Sperry, 61 million; Skiatook, 62 million.

Rural water districts: Sapulpa Rural, 147 million; Osage County #15, 40 million; Wagoner County #4, 60 million.

What about Charles Hardt, our longtime city director of Public Works? Not in the database; he lives in Bixby, near 121st and Mingo.

The World story mentions that there are 140 single-family residential water customers that used over one million gallons in 2009. It doesn't mention that its own publisher and its publisher emeritus are among that number, using (according to their database) 2,258,000 and 2,763,000 gallons respectively. Thanks to both of them for giving us the chance to explore this data on their website.

UPDATE: I heard from City Auditor Preston Doerflinger that he's having his home checked for leaks tomorrow.

MORE: Here's a similar story on Oklahoma City's biggest water users in the Oklahoma Gazette from last May. Their biggest home customer used 2.26 million gallons in 2008 -- and that doesn't count the water he draws from his own wells. Surprisingly, their biggest commercial user only used 152 million gallons. The highest hospital on the list was Baptist Medical Center with 77 million gallons.

And Tulsa District 9 Councilor G. T. Bynum tweets, "After reading your water usage breakdown, it can truly be said that I represent my district!"

This is encouraging news: Both Tulsa school board incumbents have drawn opponents for re-election. All too often school board members are returned to office with little if any scrutiny of their service. The election is this Tuesday, February 9, 2010. Because both seats drew only two candidates, there's no need to hold a runoff in April.

There's a clear choice in the District 7 election, where Lois Jacobs is challenging incumbent Matt Livingood.

Matt Livingood, 58, a Democrat and an attorney, was the ringleader pushing for the board's lawsuit against the state's charter school law, a fruitless and expensive attack on expanded educational opportunities for Tulsa's schoolchildren. For that reason alone, Livingood should be turned out of office.

Lois Jacobs, 58, a Republican and a dentist, supports expanding charter schools -- publicly funded, but independently operated schools -- in the Tulsa district. Jacobs advocates a focus on classroom performance and reductions in the district's administrative overhead. Jacobs supports cutting administrator pay, saying that "no one in education should be making more than the governor." She also supports cutting travel by administrators. She opposes a school bond issue that would raise property taxes.

During the 2008 campaign cycle, Jacobs contributed to Republican presidential candidates Duncan Hunter and Tom Tancredo. Federal donor records for Livingood shows a small contribution to Doug Dodd for Congress in 2002. (Neither Anna America nor Bobbie Gray show up in the opensecrets.org database of contributions to federal candidates.)

The lawsuit cost Tulsa Public Schools over $100,000 in legal fees alone. When the board voted not to appeal a court ruling against their suit, Superintendent Keith Ballard hinted that the Tulsa district's apparent hostility to charter schools could cost TPS both private and federal grant money:

Superintendent Keith Ballard said: "The only thing I've ever said is that we are involved in several exciting ventures -- including (a new partnership with) Teach for America and (being selected as a grant finalist by the) Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and traditionally these organizations have been supportive of charters.

"Also, President Obama and (U.S. Secretary of Education) Arne Duncan have made it clear that they support charter schools, and they control a lot of (stimulus package) money, and we are involved in a race for the top money. I've said that this could enter into it, and I think that's an accurate statement."

When the Oklahoma Legislature passed a law in 2007 allowing universities to sponsor charter schools, they tried to address the constitutional concerns that lawsuit backers claimed as motivation for the suit, but the legislature's effort was greeted with more lawsuit threats:

"I'm extremely disappointed in the Tulsa school board for challenging this bill, especially since it helps address the constitutional concerns that they raised last year," said Rep. Tad Jones, R-Claremore, who chairs the House Education Committee.

Jones said HB 1589 was written in response to constitutional questions that were raised by the Tulsa school board about the state's original charter school law. The bill reduced the number of counties where new charter schools could open to just Oklahoma and Tulsa counties, but added universities to the list of entities that could sponsor charter schools.

Rep. Jabar Shumate, who represents portions of north Tulsa, echoed Jones' sentiments, saying, "A lawsuit on an issue like this would be a colossal waste of money. Instead of money going toward helping our failing north Tulsa schools, they want to put the money in the pockets of attorneys. Once again, it's our students who lose out."

Shumate believes that the new charter schools law seems to be constitutional. "There are many laws on the books with population restrictions, and that's all were talking about with this charter schools law," he said. "And those laws have been upheld by the state Supreme Court."

Bobbie Gray, 58, a Republican, is the other incumbent on Tuesday's ballot. Gray also supported the lawsuit attacking charter schools. Her vote to end the suit was reluctant:

During Monday's meeting, board member Bobbie Gray said she believed in the principles behind the lawsuit and was disappointed that the board had to end it.

"I believe that by continuing with this lawsuit, that not only are we jeopardizing any future relationships that we have with our Legislature -- because they don't understand what this is -- but any opportunities that may be coming to the children of this district," Gray said.

Thanks in part to Gray and Livingood, Tulsa lags far behind Oklahoma City in offering educational choices. Oklahoma City has 14 charter schools; Tulsa has 4.

Gray was previously a member of the Tulsa Metropolitan Area Planning Commission, where she was a predictable vote on the wrong side of controversial issues. Bobbie Gray also signed the recall petition to oust District 6 City Councilor Jim Mautino. (Her full name is Roberta A. Gray.)

There are good reasons to retire Bobbie Gray after 14 years on the school board. But don't think that a vote for Anna America (46, a Democrat) is a vote for the kind of reform that the Tulsa district needs.

Now, I like Anna America and her husband, Metropolitan Environmental Trust director Michael Patton. I've interacted with them in the civic sphere over the last 10 years. Anna would bring a perspective to the school board, that (as far as I know) is currently lacking -- she has children currently enrolled in TPS, both at Eisenhower International School. She expresses support for charter schools.

But in the years I've known her, I've never seen Anna America take a stand against the status quo and the local establishment. And for all the commentary on her campaign website, she has nothing to say about the heart of TPS's problems -- curriculum, educational philosophy, and classroom discipline.

Tulsa's children need a structured learning environment and a solid foundation at the elementary level in basic knowledge and skills. Decades of dabbling in educational fads (often driven by curriculum vendors looking to boost sales) have made TPS a district where smart kids with involved parents do OK, but kids without those advantages get left behind. There was a time in our nation's history when public schools provided every student, even those from rotten home situations, with a solid, basic education in an orderly atmosphere. To find that kind of environment today, you have to go to charter schools or private schools. No amount of money or technology can compensate for a defective educational philosophy.

Steven Roemerman received an e-mail last week from Susan Harris of the Tulsa Metro Chamber, noting that former Mayor Kathy Taylor was trying to raise last-minute funds for Anna America. The e-mail also provided brief details of how to give to Matt Livingood and Bobbie Gray, but nothing was said about Lois Jacobs. The clear focus of the e-mail was getting Anna America elected.


The Tulsa World, generally supportive of the "throw more money at the problem" approach to educational improvement, has endorsed Livingood and America.

The Tulsa Beacon has endorsed Lois Jacobs, but made no endorsement in the America/Gray race. Here is the Beacon's story on the two school board races.

The Tulsa Classroom Teachers Association, the union local affiliate of the left-wing National Educational Association and Oklahoma Educational Association, endorsed Livingood but made no endorsement in the Gray/America race, saying "we were very impressed with both" candidates.

OK-SAFE sent a questionnaire to all the candidates. Jacobs and Livingood responded; America and Gray did not.

FROM THE ARCHIVES: In January 2007, Jamie Pierson, a graduate of the Tulsa School of Arts and Sciences (a charter high school), responded in her Urban Tulsa Weekly column to the Tulsa School Board vote to place a moratorium on the creation of new charter schools or the expansion of existing charter schools.

Kristin and Nathan Pickard, the Brady Heights couple whose 30-day experiment in commuting through Tulsa by bicycle is nearing its end, were profiled by Holly Wall in the latest (February 1, 2010) issue of Tulsa Business Journal.

If you haven't visited their blog in a while, you'll want to get caught up and see how Nathan and Kristin tackled the aftermath of the big ice and snow storm and dealt with cabin fever.

ALSO in TBJ this week:

A story on the challenges of adaptive reuse of older buildings, such as Wallace Engineering in the Brady Bob Wills District, Joe Momma's Pizza in the Blue Dome District, and the Mayo Building at 5th & Main.

A sidebar on form-based codes and appropriate infill.

American Majority's Tulsa candidate training seminar, originally scheduled for just before Christmas, will be held in two Saturdays, on February 20, 2010, from 8:30 to 4:00. It will be at the Tulsa Technology Center Lemley Campus, in the Career Services Center, at 3638 S Memorial. There is a registration fee (see below).

There will also be an American Majority activist training seminar in Tulsa this Tuesday night, February 9, 2010, 6:30 - 9 p.m., at St. James Methodist, 111th & Yale. This event is free of charge.

Here are the details for the activist training event:

American Majority Oklahoma together with OK for Tea is pleased to announce that an Activist Training will be held on Tuesday, February 9th in Tulsa, OK for citizens looking to make a difference in their community, state and nation.

The seminar will be held at St. James United Methodist Church located at 5050 E. 111th Street in Tulsa. Registration for the event will begin at 6:15 pm, with the first session beginning at 6:30 pm. The seminar will end at approximately 9:00 pm. This cost for this training is FREE and open to the public.

American Majority Activist Trainings are designed specifically to educate and unite liberty-minded activists from around the state by giving them practical ideas for successful activism and equipping them with creative ways to be more effective in their communities.

Topics for the seminars include: "Building Coalitions and Organizing Events", "Hitting the Campaign Trail", and "Holding Elected Officials Accountable through Effective Communication"

Upon completion of the seminar, participants will receive complimentary continuing education materials, communications curriculum, and a list of recommended reading materials to become better equipped and stronger activists in their communities.

To RSVP for the event or for more information, contact Trait Thompson with American Majority Oklahoma at 918-289-0159 (e-mail: trait@americanmajority.org).

Here are the details for the candidate training event:

Every elected official, from school board member to state legislator to the President of the United States plays a vital role in shaping the policies and direction of our communities, states, and nation. These offices deserve men and women who are grounded in the principles of liberty and individual freedom.

American Majority Oklahoma is hosting a Candidate Training on Saturday, February 20 at Tulsa Technology Center (Business and Career Development Training Center) located at 3638 S. Memorial in Tulsa. The training will run from 8:30am to 4:00pm with registration beginning at 8:00am.

Regardless of campaign experience, American Majority's Candidate Training Program makes running for office easier! American Majority Candidate Training Seminars are designed specifically to educate candidates on every level how to run effective and victorious campaigns and prepare them to become successful elected officials.

The Candidate Training Program includes:

  • Lectures* from campaign veterans, including:
    • "Your Campaign Plan to Win: Planning for the Time, People and Money to Win."
    • "Dollars and Sense: Fundraising for What You Need, Not What You Can Get."
    • "New Media Engagement: The New Ways to Talk to Voters and Engage Supporters."
    • "Grassroots Action: How Ordinary People can get Extraordinary Results."
    • "American Majority's Core Principles."
  • Personalized communications training.
  • Interaction with individuals thoroughly involved with the issues confronting your state.
  • The opportunity to network with other liberty-minded candidates.
  • A complimentary resource guidebook full of material designed to further assist candidates.

Upon completion of the seminar, candidates will receive continuing education materials, access to podcasts and other presentations, communications curriculum, and suggestions to help them utilize think-tank resources.

The cost is $50 per candidate/first attendee in advance or $75 per candidate/first attendee at the door, and $25 for each additional attendee (spouse, campaign staff, campaign volunteers, etc.) in advance or $40 for each additional attendee (spouse, campaign staff, campaign volunteers, etc.) at the door. Space is limited.

Please click here to use our online reservation system and secure your place now! If you have any questions, please contact Trait Thompson at Trait@americanmajority.org or call (918)-289-0159.

American Majority is a non-profit and non-partisan organization whose mission is to train and equip a national network of leaders committed to individual freedom through limited government and the free market.

*Lectures are subject to change

(Sorry to be so late in posting this.)

The Tulsa County Republican Party is holding an open county-wide meeting at the Tulsa Technology Center Lemley Campus, Saturday, Feb. 6, 2010, 9 a.m. Party officials will give an update on local party activities, and many candidates running in 2010 will be there. Speechifying, I am told, will be kept to a minimum. Here are the details:

The Tulsa County Republican Party will hold a county wide meeting and rally this Saturday, February 6, 2010 beginning at 9:00 am. There will be numerous GOP primary candidates in attendance allowing voters time to meet and speak with the candidates. This event will be held at the Tulsa Technology Center; Lemley Campus located at 3420 S. Memorial in Tulsa and should be completed by 11:00 am. A short survey will be conduced asking GOP voters what they think about national, state and local issues involving government and the Republican Party in general. Included in the survey will be a straw poll involving open seats in 2010 at the national, state and local levels. The meeting will include information on the progress of the Tulsa County Republican Party over the past year and on plans for the remainder of 2010. 2010 is a BIG year for Republicans and we encourage everyone to attend this important meeting.

Mike Ford has a timely word:


The email FWDs won't change policy.

Talk radio is not community participation.

The GOP cannot be blamed for ignoring our values if we do not show up and promote them.

Time to get plugged in and active.

Save the Party, Save the Nation.

Listening to last week's radio reports of slick roads brought to mind a commercial parody from back when Michael DelGiorno hosted the morning show on 1170 KFAQ, back during Tulsa's last budget crisis, early in the Bill LaFortune administration. A 911 caller with a police emergency was told by the dispatcher that because the city was on "Operation Slick Budget," an officer couldn't respond to the call.

It's not quite that bad, but police response to certain calls will decrease as a result of Tulsa Police Department layoffs, according to a TPD press release:

For More Information Contact
Officer Jason Willingham
February 4, 2010

Due to the recent reductions in staffing, the Tulsa Police Department has been forced to evaluate ways to maintain the staffing levels in order to respond to priority 911 calls. As a result, the department has temporarily suspended responding to certain property crimes and report calls.

Officers will not respond to non-injury collisions, fraud and forgery reports, burglary from vehicle reports, larceny reports and other minor property crime reports. The exception to this new policy will be a non-injury collision involving an intoxicated driver, or a non-injury collision involving a disturbance or other crime. Officers will respond to calls for service if the crime is in progress or if a suspect is still at the location.

While we understand that this may not be a popular decision, it is important to continue to have adequate manpower to respond to higher priority calls and crimes against a person. This change will be revisited as the department recovers form these difficult times.

Crime Reports can be filed electronically at the Tulsa Police Department website www.tulsapolice.org or call the Non-emergency number at 596- 9222 for other reporting options.

Oklahoma 1st District Congressman John Sullivan has introduced a resolution (H. Res. 1063) targeting the individual health insurance mandate, one of the components of the Democratic Party health insurance proposal that passed the U. S. Senate in December, according to a news release on Sullivan's House website, issued today:

"My resolution builds off the efforts of at least 36 state legislatures, including Oklahoma, that are looking to limit or oppose health mandates in the House and Senate passed health care reform bills that would require purchase of government approved health insurance. These state actions are in direct opposition to the draconian national health care reform measures that Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid are negotiating behind closed doors behind the backs of the American people"

"Throughout the healthcare debate, the Administration and this Congress have largely ignored the most fundamental question of all - whether or not the federal government is overstepping its constitutional bounds by taking over our healthcare system " Sullivan said. "Even back in 1994, the non partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) wrote that it would be an unprecedented form of federal action for Congress to mandate that all individuals are required to purchase health insurance. I introduced this resolution to send a strong message that the personal mandates in both the House and Senate passed healthcare bills are unprecedented and unconstitutional - nowhere in the Constitution is Congress given the power to force Americans to purchase a good or service or enter into a contract - which these bills would do. By forcing Americans to purchase government approved health insurance, President Obama and Democrat leaders in Congress are essentially saying that you don't have a right to choose what health insurance plan is best for you, your family or your business - I strongly disagree."

The Citizens in Charge Foundation has issued its 2010 report card on voter initiative rights in each of the states. (The full state-by-state report is an 8.2 MB PDF. The flag pictures are pretty -- I always like to see the old-fashioned font, with the arched A, used for OKLAHOMA, instead of the Star Trek original series font -- but they make the document much bigger than necessary.)

Oklahoma was given a C+: Oklahoma gets high marks constitutional guarantee of the right to propose constitutional amendments and ordinary statutes by petition, and to petition for a referendum to repeal a statute, and for including all political subdivisions under its constitutional provisions.

But Oklahoma loses points for an insufficient period for gathering signatures (only 90 days -- second shortest) and a high signature requirement (15% of the last general election for constitutional amendments -- the nation's highest requirement); both provisions make it difficult for grassroots initiatives to make it to the ballot. The report card recommends increasing the signature-gathering period to at least 9 months, reducing the signature requirements to 8% for constitutional amendments and 5% for simple statutes, and tying the signature requirement to the last election for governor, rather than the last general election.

Oklahoma ranks among the toughest states to qualify an initiative for the ballot, with the nation's highest signature requirement and second shortest circulation period. A proposed expansion of the petition period overwhelmingly passed the state legislature in 2009, but was vetoed by the governor. That same year a bill passed that moves the process for challenging the ballot title for an initiative to before signatures are collected, instead of afterward. Additionally, legislators placed a constitutional amendment on the ballot in 2010 allowing voters to decide whether to tie the number of signatures needed to the last election for Governor. Currently the number is tied to the highest office in the preceding elections, which resulted in a 37 percent increase in the number of signatures needed after the 2008 presidential election.

I'm surprised the report didn't mention the controversy over TABOR and the Oklahoma Three, which had to do with the use of out-of-state petition circulators for the Taxpayers' Bill of Rights proposal. The issue of out-of-state circulators is mentioned in several other states' report cards. The need for paid circulators would diminish if a longer signature period and lower signature requirements were adopted.

I'm happy to see that the opportunity to challenge an initiative's ballot title has been moved earlier in the process. It would be frustrating to go through the trouble of collecting hundreds of thousands of signatures, only to have the measure struck down by a court.

(Hat tip to Bob Weeks at WichitaLiberty.org, who reports that Kansas received low marks -- Kansas has local initiative and referendum, but not at the state level.)

UPDATE: Jason Carini informs us in the comments that there is a state question on the ballot that will improve matters some what. It doesn't change the percentages, but it does eliminate presidential election turnout as a basis for the number of required signatures. If SQ 750 passes, only turnout in the last governor's election will be used to determine signature requirements. This PDF shows the amendment to Article V, Section 2 of the Oklahoma Constitution proposed by SQ 750. Here is the approved ballot language for SQ 750:

This measure amends a section of the State Constitution. The section deals with initiative petitions. It also deals with referendum petitions. It deals with how many signatures are required on such petitions. It changes that requirement.

"Initiative" is the right to propose laws and constitutional amendments.
"Referendum" is the right to reject a law passed by the Legislature.

The following voter signature requirements apply.
8% must sign to propose law
15% must sign to propose to change the State Constitution.
5% must sign to order a referendum.

These percentages are based upon the State office receiving the most total votes at the last General Election. The measure changes this basis. The measure's basis uses every other General Election. General Elections are held every two years. The Governor is on the ballot every four years. The measure's basis only uses General Elections with the Governor on the ballot.

The President is on the ballot in intervening General Elections. The measure's basis does not use General Elections with the President on the ballot.

More votes are usually cast at Presidential General Elections. Thus, the measure would generally have a lowering effect on the number of required signatures.

You can read all the state questions on the Oklahoma Secretary of State's website.

A series of meetings about PLANiTULSA, the proposed new comprehensive plan for the City of Tulsa, will be held in each city council district starting tonight and continuing over the next two weeks, hosted by the district councilor. Here's the schedule:







Tues/2 Feb

6 - 7:30 pm


Barnes/John Fothergill

Kendall-Whittier Library

21 S Lewis Ave


Tues/2 Feb

6 to 8 pm


Henderson/Allecia Chatman-Ratliff

Rudisill Regional Library

1520 N Hartford


Wed/3 Feb

6 to 8 pm


Mautino/Shannon Compton

East Central High School

12150 East 11th Street


Wed/3 Feb

6 to 8 pm


Turner/Allecia Chatman-Ratliff

Maxwell Community Center

5251 E. Newton Street (Pine & Yale area)


Mon/8 Feb

6 to 8 pm


Eagleton/Shannon Compton

Memorial High School

5840 South Hudson Avenue 


Tues/9 Feb

6 - 7:30 pm


Westcott/John Fothergill

Christ the Redeemer Lutheran Church 2550 E 71st


Wed/10 Feb

6 to 8 pm


Christiansen/Nick Doctor

Hardesty Regional Library

8316 E 93rd St


Tues/16 Feb

6 to 8 pm


Bynum/Nick Doctor

Church of the Madalene

3188 E 22nd Street


Tues/16 Feb

6 to 8 pm


Trail/Jan Megee

Nathan Hale High School

6960 East 21st Street


The meetings will include a presentation of the process, concepts, plan elements, and maps. Although these meetings are not public hearings, staff will field questions and comments. 

The official process of deciding whether this plan will be officially adopted as the City of Tulsa's Comprehensive Plan begins with a public hearing before the Tulsa Metropolitan Area Planning Commission (TMAPC). The TMAPC hearing will begin on Tuesday, February 23, 2010, 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. and will be continued to Wednesday, March 10, 2010, 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.  The TMAPC will make a recommendation (adoption, adoption with amendments, rejection) to the City Council, which has the final decision.

You can review the latest drafts of the PLANiTULSA vision, policy plan, and maps, and submit your comments, at PLANiTULSA.org

I've been negligent in reminding you about an excellent source for information about current issues at Tulsa's City Hall. Tulsa District 7 City Councilor John Eagleton has a personal website, johneagleton.com, where he posts some of the data and analysis that inform his decisions as a councilor.

The latest article on the site features graphs comparing the growth of Tulsa's general fund spending compared to inflation. One graph reveals how increases in costs per person have driven overall growth of the budget. Between 2002 and 2010, police personal services budget per employee grew by 35%, compared to an increase in the cost of living of 19% over the same period. (The fire department personal services budget per employee grew by 23% over those years.)

Other recent articles feature a comparison of the cost of providing ambulance service through EMSA vs. through the Tulsa Fire Department, emails from Tulsans about the budget crisis, and a graph showing how Tulsa police ticket writing has dropped dramatically over the last three years, even more dramatically since last October.

For most entries, there's a PDF or spreadsheet you can download for more details.

There's also a blog, with links to articles (often from the Wall Street Journal) that Eagleton finds interesting.

Photographer Erin Conrad has decided to blog every day this month:

That seems like an appropriate thing to do for the shortest month in the year.

Blog every day of it.

So perhaps I should try to do the same -- get back in the habit of posting on a daily basis. (Erin's posts are bound to be prettier than mine, but I'll post anyway.) So here's a roundup:

Speaking of Erin Conrad, she posted a very sweet photo on Sunday.

Tulsa area bloggers are gathering at Joe Momma's Pizza downtown (1st & Elgin) on Thursday, February 4, 2010. 40 bloggers have RSVPed, and now there are some contests and prizes to encourage even more to attend.

@TashaDoesTulsa has a Twitter list of independent Tulsa businesses to which you can subscribe, as well as a list of Twittering Oklahoma bloggers.

One of those blogging tweeters, Cindy W. Morrison, encourages her fellow bloggers to take a 31-day challenge to optimize our blogs with social media.

And if you're an Oklahoma-based blogger, the deadline for nominations for the Okie Blog Awards is Wednesday, February 3, 2010.

Tulsa Gal has a biographical sketch of Alfred E. Aaronson, a founder of the Tulsa Historical Society and leader in the development of Tulsa's city-county library system. Earlier, she took a stroll down Boston Avenue's past.

Irritated Tulsan seeks your votes for January's Tulsan of the Month. And Mr. M (with the munching mouth) frolics in the snow.

Yogi's Den has a collection of stunning photos from the Hubble Space Telescope. Don't be worried by the URL -- it's all safe for work.

You can always find the latest posts from a selection of Tulsa-based blogs on my BatesLine Tulsa headlines page.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from February 2010 listed from newest to oldest.

January 2010 is the previous archive.

March 2010 is the next archive.

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