July 2010 Archives

I'm asking; I don't have an answer, as I wasn't following the 5th Congressional District race. I invite my Oklahoma City readers to share their observations.

In James Lankford you have a political novice who puts together a conservative grassroots campaign to finish ahead of several more heavily financed candidates. Meanwhile, Randy Brogdon, an eight-year state senator and former city councilor, falls short in his quest for the GOP nomination for governor.

Undoubtedly it helped Lankford for two name candidates to be in the race, splitting the vote -- Brogdon had a higher percentage than Lankford -- but he still had to put together over a third of the primary vote, something insurgent congressional candidates in the 1st and 4th districts failed to do. Had a conservative Oklahoma City-area elected official (e.g. Leonard Sullivan, Mike Reynolds) also run for governor, enough votes might have been peeled away from Mary Fallin to force a runoff. As it was, a contentious congressional primary seems to have driven turnout in Fallin's district, entirely to her advantage.

More analysis as I have time, but three more thoughts for now:

* The folks who spent their time and treasure on also-ran congressional candidates in the 1st and 4th Districts would have been wiser to put that effort toward Brogdon's campaign.

* Oklahoma City Republicans don't seem to like voting for Tulsans. In 2006, two viable candidates for governor from Tulsa (Bob Sullivan, Jim Williamson) split a minority of the vote, while Ernest Istook sailed to victory without a runoff. During the late campaign, there was a proprietary vibe from many central Oklahoma conservative commentators: Fallin was their girl, and nothing was going to budge them from their support for her.

* The bloggers who are stomping and whining that Brogdon needs to get aboard the Fallin bandwagon RIGHT THIS MINUTE need to back off. Do you enjoy being pressured publicly? Does public pressure make you more likely to give in, or more likely to dig in your heels? And if he issues an endorsement now after getting peppered with demands from prominent conservative bloggers, are his supporters likely to view it as sincere or perfunctory?

I sense more triumphalism in those demands than genuine concern for party unity. Edmondson's early endorsement of Askins was necessary to rule out a recount or a challenge of the results. The Republican results were clear. These Fallin supporters seem to be paying more attention to Brogdon now than they did before the primary. If he wasn't important enough to be worthy of a debate before the primary, why is his endorsement so important now?

If Randy Brogdon is to provide a credible endorsement that energizes his supporters on Fallin's behalf, he will have to do it on his own terms and in his own time. Give the man some respect and some space.

I made it to three different watch parties last night, starting at Randy Brogdon's, then Judge James Caputo's, then finished the evening at Congressman John Sullivan's, watching the final numbers come in on the incredibly close Democratic nomination for Governor.

I got home late, had family business to attend to, and today there's a heavy load of work-related activity, so I won't have much analysis until later in the week, I suspect. Turnout looked to be quite low in my precinct when I voted at around 1 p.m., but evidently it picked up, as numbers in our part of the state were substantially heavier than four years ago.

While I'm disappointed in Randy Brogdon's defeat, it's important -- for the sake of next year's redistricting if nothing else -- for Republicans to unite behind Mary Fallin. It will be an interesting race; a battle between two former Lieutenant Governors. The Democrat nominee made government regulation of salaries the theme of one of her ads. I am told that Jari Askins is very personable and works very hard at campaigning. She may well be a tougher opponent for Fallin than Edmondson would have been.

I am very happy to see Ayatollah Drew Edmondson's political career come to a halt.

That's all for now. I'm working on a piece about how I'd run a statewide primary race, based on observations in this election. Meanwhile, feel free to chime in in the comments.

Happy Election Day! Polls open across Oklahoma at 7 a.m. and close at 7 p.m.

Results should start rolling in soon after. The state election board website will update results as they are received from the county election boards. These will lag the results from media sources, as TV and radio stations send runners to precincts to read the results, which are posted on each precinct door shortly after the polls close. To be included in the state election board's numbers, a precinct's results have to be taken to the county election board to be read into the state election computer system.

The Tulsa County Election Board promises to have live Tulsa County election results on the web.

A few resources as you go to vote:

If you run into any difficulty voting or spot any irregularity, contact the your county election board. The phone number for the Tulsa County Election Board is 918-596-5780.

Posted 1:00 a.m. Tuesday, July 27, 2010. Postdated to remain at the top of the blog through poll closing time.

A couple of longtime conservative activists in Tulsa have endorsed Randy Brogdon for Governor and John Wright for Lt. Governor. I received their endorsement via their email list; they gave me permission to reproduce it but not to use their names because it might create the impression of an endorsement by a non-profit with which they are associated. I thought the points they made were worth passing along, even without their names.

Randy Brogdon

1. Randy Brogdon is a born-again Christian who readily shares his testimony. His testimony is a video on his website http://www.randybrogdon.com . He and his wife have worshipped at Woodlake Assembly of God Church for 40 years where he and his wife have taught Sunday School classes and Randy has served on the church board.

2. Brogdon has spent the last 30 years building and managing successful businesses.

3. Brogdon was elected Mayor of Owasso and was elected state Senator where he has served for 8 years. As a state Senator, he has supported limited government, lower taxes, free market solutions to economic problems, and the U.S. Constitution. His tax reform plan includes eliminating the income tax on individuals and businesses, adopting an end-user consumption tax on sales and services, and exempting groceries and prescription drugs from state tax.

4. He has a pro-life, pro-family voting record and supports the right to keep and bear arms. He is endorsed by Gun Owners of America for his leadership in protecting our Second Amendment rights. He is the first state Senator in 20 years to receive a 100% mark on the Oklahoma Conservative Vote Index.

5. He is opposed to ObamaCare and is the author of the state question on the November 2010 ballot allowing Oklahomans to opt out of the federal socialized health care plan.

6. He has been married to his high school sweetheart, Donna, for 37 years. They have 2 grown sons and a daughter-in-law. Donna openly shares her Christian testimony, as well as a story about Randy cutting his own salary several times so he would not have to lay off any of the employees of his business.

7. We personally know both of the major Republican candidates running for Governor. In our opinion, Randy Brogdon is one of the most qualified candidates to run for Governor in many years. He loves the Lord, his country, his family, and the people of Oklahoma. Unlike many in political office, he has a backbone of steel, and he expresses the courage of his convictions passionately and articulately. He does not bow to the will of special interest groups.

John Wright

1. John Wright was elected in 1998 to the state House of Representatives. During his 12 years of service in the state House, he has been voted into leadership by his colleagues 4 times. His Cumulative Average is 91% on the Oklahoma Conservative Vote Index.

2. Before he was in the state legislature, he had a successful career in marketing and sales, where he won awards for his achievements.

3. He and his wife Debbie are long-time members of Victory Christian Center, where they have taught Sunday School and Victory Bible Institute classes. In 1991 John went to St. Petersburg, Russia, as a volunteer on a Victory short-term missions trip. He saw first-hand the devastation in Russia brought about by socialism and communism. He has stated many times that the Russia mission motivated him to run for office in order to preserve our liberties.

4. As Lieutenant Governor, John's goals are to develop state infrastructure, encourage tourism, encourage people to pursue higher education, and encourage the traditional, marriage-based family. His website is http://www.movingoklahomaforward.com.

Tulsa County Assessor Ken Yazel's website now has a great new feature: You can search online for Tulsa County property information, including ownership, valuation, physical characteristics (e.g., sq. ft.), and recent sales -- for free, 24/7! Previously you either had to go to a library branch or pay to subscribe online (and only with the County Commission's approval). Some at the county courthouse were resistant to making public information readily available, but Yazel was persistent, and the entire budget board (all 8 elected officials) approved the new online searchable database.

I've been hoping for this for a very long time. Yippee!

Republican Tulsa County Assessor Ken Yazel has published on his website a detailed response to an attack mailer from his primary opponent, former County Assessor Cheryl Clay. Yazel says that Clay's statements are lies, and he rebuts each point at length.

Some of the points made by Yazel in his rebuttal:

  • "There are 7 other county offices that have higher salaries [than the Assessor's Office], and that doesn't include the 'one-time longevity payments' (a.k.a. tax-funded Christmas Bonuses), which amounted to about $785,000 for 909 County employees. None of these were paid to employees within the Assessor's Office. "
  • The number of Assessor's Office employees is 16% less than when he took office, but managing a workload that has grown by 12%. 83 of his 84 employees are Certified Appraisers.
  • The Assessor's Office has an attorney on staff that specializes in Ad Valorem tax disputes, as allowed by law. Cheryl Clay also had an attorney on staff, as did Jack Gordon, her handpicked successor.
  • An outside law firm was used seven years ago, before an attorney was added to the Assessor's Office staff, to defend and win a multi-million dollar valuation case, the "first time in almost a decade a case had been won for the taxpayers."
  • The Assessor's Office software system is the same system in use in Oklahoma County [and the Oklahoma County Assessor, Leonard Sullivan, has an awesome website -- MDB], is fully backed up and compatible with county systems. "The only problem for county data was created by the County Clerk when her office ceased to place parcel numbers on recorded documents, contrary to state law. (This has been an ongoing issue in excess of 18 months now, and is finally being fixed at a heavy expense to the County Clerk's budget.)"
  • "[Yazel] has persuaded the Budget Board, by vote of 8-0, to pass much needed budget reforms. Most recently, the Board passed an action to place Assessor data on the Internet for all to use without paying the previous required monthly fee to the county.

I'm very pleased to read that last point. Oklahoma County has been well ahead of Tulsa County in making public data truly accessible to the public. Ken Yazel understands that "public = online."

You can read the full rebuttal after the jump. I'm proud to endorse Ken Yazel for reelection as Tulsa County Assessor.

The News on 6 examined congressional candidate Nathan Dahm's rebuttal of Congressman John Sullivan's debunking of false claims about his voting record. The News on 6 story specifically labeled Dahm's claims "misleading" regarding Sullivan's 2008 stimulus vote and his immigration record:

Challenger Nathan Dahm responded with what he calls, "The Actual Truth," where he links to a 2008 Sullivan vote for a stimulus bill, sponsored by Nancy Pelosi, Democratic Speaker of the House.

A News On 6 investigation showed the Dahm claim is misleading.

Sullivan voted in 2008 for the George W. Bush Stimulus, which was really $600 income tax breaks for taxpayers....

Dahm's website says Sullivan talks about reform not enforcement. It links to an article that quotes Sullivan talking about the DREAM Act, which would allow young illegal immigrants to earn conditional citizenship by completing college or two years of military service.

Again, this is misleading.

The article Dahm's referring to was published in June on the Hispano de Tulsa website.

A translation of the article quotes Sullivan as saying he hasn't "forgotten" about the DREAM Act, not that he supports it.

And on Sullivan's website it plainly states that the Congressman opposes backdoor amnesty attempts like the DREAM Act.

A survey of 12,000 likely Republican voters done by the Brogdon campaign last week showed Fallin at 37%, Brogdon at 26%, and 37% undecided. The trend over a similar survey six weeks earlier had Fallin virtually flat with a significant shift of undecideds moving to Brogdon, surging by 15 points over that time. Meanwhile, an opinion poll that was taken a week ago but only released today suggests that Fallin would win without a runoff.

A Fallin victory without a runoff worries me.

We saw in 2002 what happens to a Republican nominee for governor who skates through the primary and isn't prepared for a tough general election battle. (The reason Steve Largent got a free pass in the 2002 primary is because Mary Fallin flinched from a planned run for governor.)

In 2006, Republican leaders jumped on the Ernest Istook bandwagon. He won without a runoff but was clobbered in the general election by a weak incumbent.

In Tulsa, we have seen what happens when a Republican with a famous name is allowed to skate through the primary without facing a debate. His famous name, a lot of money, an elaborate PR campaign, and a liberal opponent got him through the general election. But the PR specialists are gone now, and in eight short months since then, he has managed to alienate every single city councilor, even those who had endorsed him and supported his policy initiatives. He has so poisoned the atmosphere at City Hall that his resignation may be the only way to move the city forward.

His flaws as a leader were evident during the campaign to those who cared to look. Those Republican leaders who protected him from scrutiny and tough questions because of his name, his money, and the prospect of a Republican in the mayor's office should look at the wreckage and apologize to the people of Tulsa.

Oklahoma can't afford the same failure of leadership. The conservative cause in Oklahoma can't afford to be discredited by another failed Republican chief executive. Nor can we afford a general election loss because our standard-bearer was unprepared to handle the tough questions she managed to dodge during the primary.

A Fallin win without a runoff would be a shame. I'd like to think that the Oklahoma Republican electorate that had the wisdom to choose Tom Coburn, a late entrant into the 2004 Senate race, over the heavily-financed and -endorsed Oklahoma Mayor Kirk Humphreys, would have the discernment not to give Mary Fallin a pass to the general election on the strength of a slick and shiny but vague campaign.

I can understand a front-runner not wishing to stoop to a debate with a bunch of perennial also-rans, but by refusing to debate, Mary Fallin has treated Randy Brogdon (and his supporters and Oklahoma Republicans in general) with undeserved contempt. Brogdon is a leader in the State Senate with a long list of legislative accomplishments, in addition to his many years of business experience and his service as Owasso's mayor. Brogdon's governing philosophy and his specific plans for Oklahoma deserve a serious, specific response from Fallin.

There is a way for Republican voters to force a debate, and that's to deny Fallin a majority tomorrow. A runoff gives us a month to focus on a single office and two candidates. It gives voters a chance to see whether Fallin or Brogdon is best prepared to win in November and govern Oklahoma. It forces Fallin to engage on the issues, so we can see whether she has hitherto-unsuspected depths or whether the PR-generated image is all there is.

If you're undecided, you can buy yourself more time to scrutinize the candidates by showing up at the polls and voting for anyone except Fallin. Showing up and voting for Brogdon or one of the other two candidates increases the total pool of votes and mathematically reduces Fallin's percentage. Staying home or leaving the governor's race blank gets her closer to 50% with the same number of votes. 51 votes out of 100 cast is a 51% majority, but 51 votes out of 103 is 49%, and it means a runoff in August.

I hope you'll vote for Randy Brogdon tomorrow, but at the very least, I hope you'll vote for a runoff by showing up at the polls and voting for anyone but Fallin.

Yes, it's a little more than 24 hours before the polls open, but there are still things you can do to help your favorite candidates in Tuesday's Oklahoma primary. For example, if you're a Tulsa area supporter of the Randy Brogdon, you can call Billie at 638-9977 to volunteer for such final-day tasks as taking information to voters, providing rides to the polls, and waving signs at intersections.

You can usually contact your favorite candidates through their websites; I've provided links to the Republican statewide and local candidates in my 2010 primary voters' guide.

From the Tulsa Beacon, in support of incumbent County Commissioner Fred Perry:

Commissioner Fred Perry has made some good decisions in his first four years. He is moving toward more openness and he has helped make progress at Expo Square.

From Dan Hicks via email and in the Beacon's letters section, in support of challenger Drew Rees:

I always enjoy the election season, as we see those creative little yard signs pop up like mushrooms throughout the city. This year we have a new winner. The orange and yellow DREW REES sign is without question the best political yard sign I have ever seen. The sign is good, but the candidate is even better. I had the opportunity to sit down with Drew Rees, and found him to be extremely bright and knowledgeable about issues involving Tulsa County. He is honest and sincere, and he passed the conservative test. What's that? Well, that means he is pro-life, he voted against the River Tax, and he intends get the County out of the sales tax business. Drew also shared with me how he came to know the Lord as a student at OSU. I am enthusiastically supporting Drew Rees as the conservative choice for Tulsa County Commissioner.

The Tulsa Beacon published two letters each in support of Perry and Rees in last week's edition. I have yet to see any endorsement of Michael Masters, the third candidate in the race, which will either be decided on Tuesday, if a candidate gets more than 50% in the Republican primary, or else in the August 24 runoff.


Fred Perry's endorsements page
Drew Rees's endorsements page

STILL MORE: District 3 resident Steven Roemerman makes a tough call:

Wow, so Fred Perry DID NOT score points with me with his handling of a recent open records request by Ruth Hartje. (Google it)

Also I really, really do not like how Perry has attacked Tulsa Council's attorney Drew Rees (his opponent), for his counsel to the council regarding the recent open meeting act controversy. (again...Google it) I may not be voting for Drew Rees, but I have a tremendous amount of respect for him. I've always been extremely impressed with Drew's professionalism and dedication to the law. I've been watching him give good advice to the council for may years now; Rees would never give advice to the council that he thought was illegal. I believe that these attacks are unfair and unfounded. On this basis alone I just almost want to vote for Drew Rees.

However, Drew Rees is using Jim Burdge to run his campaign, and if that wasn't enough he is being endorsed by Randy "You're Toast" Sullivan.This is not good! And then if that weren't enough, I was not impressed with how he answered some of the questions from the OK Safe Voter's guide questions. I felt that he was parsing on some of his answers. And really, I like him where he is. He is doing great work for the City!

Click to read Steven's conclusion and the rest of his voting guide.

Congressman John Sullivan, facing his first significant primary challenge since his first election in 2001, sent out the following email Saturday rebutting false claims about his voting record:

Dear Friends and fellow Republicans:

I wanted to take a few minutes of your time to address a couple of issues that have come up in the last minutes of this campaign.

My opponents have sent mail to many of you, making false and baseless attacks on my record of consistent, conservative leadership in Congress.

I wanted to go through a few of the things they've said and tell you the truth.

They say that I "support Planned Parenthood."

Truth is: I have a 100% voting record with National Right to Life. No one is more pro-life and dedicated to the pro-life movement than I am. In fact, I support the Pence Amendment which strips all federal funding from Planned Parenthood.

They say I "voted for the stimulus."

Truth is: I never voted for the stimulus or any stimulus dollars for any federal project. In fact, I have a 91% voting record with the Club for Growth and received the Defender of Economic Freedom Award this year. NO REPUBLICAN IN CONGRESS VOTED FOR THE STIMULUS. PERIOD.

They say I "vote in lock-step with Nancy Pelosi."

Truth is: I have a 100% legislative score with the American Conservative Union. I was honored to earn the Defender of Liberty Award with the A.C.U. this year. That is the highest score in the Oklahoma delegation serving in Washington. I don't support Nancy Pelosi's agenda, I never have, I never will.

They criticize me for checking into the Betty Ford Center last year.

Truth is: I won't apologize for my treatment at Betty Ford. It was the best decision I could make. I appreciate the thousands of you who have reached out in support of me and my family.

They say I "support a national police force" and that I "authored a bill to create a health care bureaucracy."

Truth is: I support small government. I introduced a ground-breaking bill this year to limit the size of the federal government. I don't support nationalization of police forces and I will stand in the way of any efforts to create such systems.

I also voted against the sweeping health care legislation passed by the Democrat controlled House this year. That bill grows the federal government and I believe it goes against the Constitution in its scope and reach.

And lastly, and possibly most ridiculously, they say I "support amnesty for illegal immigrants."

Truth is: You will never find a candidate with a stronger anti-illegal immigration stance than me. I have an A+ rating with NumbersUSA, the foremost advocate on immigration reform in the US. I have worked tirelessly with Tulsa Sheriff Stanley Glanz to establish the 287(g) program which cross-deputizes deputies to rid our communities of the most dangerous criminals on the streets today. This is the most ridiculous and baseless of their lies.

I've never seen the kind of despicable lies told by my opponents as I have seen in this election cycle.

It's disappointing to see members of my own party resort to the politics of personal destruction.

In this campaign, I have never publicly stated a negative word about my opponents. I'm running on my record, they are running on their rhetoric.

The proof will be seen on Tuesday.


John Sullivan

For more information on my consistent, conservative voting record please visit my website at www.johnsullivanforcongress.com/about/buzz/

Just yesterday I received an email with the subject "JOHN SULLIVAN WANTS TO GIVE OUR CHILDREN AND OUR PROPERTY TO THE GOV.", falsely claiming that he voted for two bills to expand the size and scope of federal government control and power -- the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 (H.R. 146) and the G.I.V.E. Act (H. R. 1338). In fact, he and all the Republicans in the Oklahoma delegation voted AGAINST both bills, which nevertheless passed and were signed into law. (Dan Boren voted against H.R. 146 but for H. R. 1338.)

Here are links to the details:

Major Congressional Actions on Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 (H.R. 146)
House roll call on Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 (H.R. 146)
Senate roll call on Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 (H.R. 146)

All Oklahoma congressmen and senators also voted against the Senate version of the bill, S. 22, which died in the House.

Major Congressional Actions on Serve America Act (aka the G.I.V.E. Act) (H.R. 1338)
House roll call on Serve America Act (aka the G.I.V.E. Act) (H.R. 1338)
Senate roll call on Serve America Act (aka the G.I.V.E. Act) (H.R. 1338)

The Senate version of the bill died in committee.

As I told my correspondent, "Whoever is feeding you this information is either very sloppy with their research or very dishonest."


So now, Sullivan's accusers are saying that because he voted for an earlier version of H.R. 1388, he wants to turn our children into brownshirts. Here's the earlier version of the bill that Sullivan and other Oklahoma Republicans voted to approve. It was a lengthy amendment to existing legislation involving existing service programs like VISTA and Americorps. Here is the version that Sullivan and all other Oklahoma Republicans voted against. A quick comparison of the tables of contents of the two versions reveals sections added and deleted between the version that originally passed the House and the final version that went to the president.

Likewise, the original version of H.R. 146 that passed the House (with the support of the entire Oklahoma House delegation) was called the "Revolutionary War and War of 1812 Battlefield Preservation Act," a six-page bill authorizing Dept. of Interior grants to protect battlefields. The version that came back from the Senate was the 446-page Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009, and the entire Oklahoma delegation voted against it.

Sullivan did vote for the Economic Stimulus Act of 2008, but this stimulus involved giving money back to the taxpayers, not spending on pork projects. While making the Bush tax cuts permanent would have been the better path, that wasn't going to happen with the Democrats in the majority. A tax rebate was better relief than nothing at all.

Sullivan voted for the October 2008 TARP bailout, along with 90 other House Republicans. Frank Lucas was the only Oklahoma congressman to vote no, and our two Senators split -- Coburn voted yes and Inhofe voted no. I was disappointed with that vote, it was the wrong decision, and Sullivan, Cole, Fallin, and Coburn should have known better than to be panicked into voting for it. In December 2009, Sullivan called for the Secretary of the Treasury to end TARP and return the funds (including those paid back) to the Treasury for debt reduction, rather than spend surplus funds on a jobs program as the Democrats wanted.

When TARP was enacted, the public debt limit was increased to $11.3 trillion. Since January, the national debt has increased more than $1.4 trillion, and Congress is now set to consider a debt limit increase of up to $13.2 trillion, the fourth debt limit increase since July 2008. Not spending the remaining TARP funds, $246 billion according to the last SIGTARP quarterly report, will reduce the already staggering amount our nation is borrowing.

SIGTARP also reported repayments of $72.9 billion, $9.5 billion from dividends and interest and $2.9 billion in proceeds from sale of warrants. All of these TARP receipts and future receipts must be devoted to debt reduction rather than spent on further government interventions or other programs. While estimates vary on the final cost to the taxpayers from TARP, all estimates are that the taxpayers will lose billions of dollars and that there will be no profit from TARP. Ensuring every dime of income goes to debt reduction reduces the taxpayers' ultimate loss.

The first TARP program, the Capital Purchase Program, offered taxpayers the greatest opportunity to recover their investment. Additional programs added to TARP, such as assistance to the automakers and AIG, carry much less assurance for the taxpayers, and the mortgage modification program will result in no recoupment for the taxpayers. The longer the remaining unspent TARP funds and revenue remain on the table, the more money that will be spent and not recovered. The emergency has ended, and TARP must end as well.

No time to write today, but here's a worthwhile piece of writing about GOP gubernatorial candidate Mary Fallin by Richard Engle:

I commented to a candidate for State Senate [at a candidate forum] that his non-committal and non-specific answer to one of the questions on our survey was "Fallin-esque." The assembled roared in laughter as they all immediately recognized the resemblance to the Congresswoman's standard line when questioned on matters of public policy.

I didn't intend to coin a new term, it was just so typical of what we hear from her. My experiences with Mary Fallin go back to when she was new to the State House and speaking to the Central Oklahoma Young Republicans (moderated by its Chair of the time - Kevin Calvey) where she spoke in glowing terms of favoring "good things" and being opposed to "bad things." Even then we couldn't get a decisive answer from her. I specifically remember one Young Republican asking her about Senator Don Nickles plan to allow for Medical Savings Accounts. This was during the Clinton Health Care drive. Mary had no difficulty predicting that her audience expected her to oppose the plans of the President and she did so with no reservations. Her reply regarding Senator Nickles' idea was as lacking in resolve as just about everything I have heard from her in the years to come. She told us that she was "looking into it."...

She says what she can predict will please her audience even if it contradicts what is said to another audience. At one point she spoke to a group of how the Obama stimulus created no jobs, then days later spoke glowingly of how the Obama stimulus created jobs in Oklahoma....

Read more at the website of the Oklahoma Constitution

Meanwhile, Mary Fallin is saying on the campaign trail that she won't use tax cuts to improve the economy:

U.S. Rep. Mary Fallin, who is seeking the Republican nomination for Oklahoma governor, said she would not support further cuts to the state's income tax rate until Oklahoma's economy has rebounded from dwindling revenue collections and a national recession."...

"At some point in time, hopefully when we grow our economy and we are back on track, then we can look at lowering our taxes so we can be more competitive with states like Texas and other states that have lower or no income taxes," Fallin said.

The response from GOP rival Randy Brogdon: "How does Rep. Fallin plan to improve the economy with tax cuts, if she won't cut taxes until the economy improves?"

The same press release from the Brogdon campaign notes the vagueness of the "plan" announced in Fallin's recent TV commercials:

While her goals are laudable, not enough specifics are offered to be taken seriously.
  • Create More Jobs - We thought Rep. Fallin had learned that small businesses create jobs, not government. Perhaps that is her plan, create government jobs.
  • Bring Business to Oklahoma - The plan here is for Rep. Fallin to draw business here with her strength of personality?
  • Reduce taxes on families and small businesses - If this is the catalyst for creating jobs and attracting business, those goals will have to wait. Because Rep. Fallin has made it clear she wont cut taxes until the economy improves.

The Fallin plan seems to bear some resemblance to the underpants gnomes' plan for economic development:

  1. Collect underpants
  2. ???????
  3. Profit!

By contrast, Randy Brogdon has a specific plan for reform on both the revenue and expense side:

Brogdon's Spending Reform:
  • Limit annual spending increases to percent change in inflation and population, so government doesn't grow faster than the economy.
  • Double reserve funds, and restrict access to these funds so they can only be used in times of budget shortfall.
  • Revenue collected in excess of the limit can only be spent on one time capital improvements. This will help repair roads and bridges without bloating the budget baseline.

Brogdon's Tax Reform

  • Phase out the Income Tax on businesses and individuals.
  • Adopt an end-user Consumption Tax on sales and services.
  • Exempt groceries and prescription drugs from any state tax.
  • Eliminate Tax Credits, which favor some businesses at the expense of others.

Brogdon says he wants to address spending first, and proposes a stricter spending limit. Both candidates say they want to create a business friendly environment, Brogdon says he can accomplish that by switching from the income tax to an end user consumption tax (sales tax) and ending tax credits as a economic development crutch. Fallin is not so specific.

Early voting for the Oklahoma 2010 primary begins today, Friday, July 23, 2010, at your county election board headquarters. The Tulsa County Election Board is at 555 N. Denver Ave., just north of downtown Tulsa.

Here are the dates and times for early voting this year:

Friday, July 23, 20108 am - 6 pm
Saturday, July 24, 20108 am - 1 pm
Monday, July 26, 20108 am - 6 pm

On Election Day, Tuesday, July 27, 2010, polls will be open from 7 am to 7 pm.

Every registered voter in the state has a reason to go to the polls. Not only are there Republican and Democrat primaries for statewide offices, but all voters, including independents can vote for District Judge.

I had hoped to give you a detailed rundown of the pros and cons of the candidates in each race and the rationale behind my choice, but I have run out of time. (Spending most of Wednesday in the hospital and most of Thursday recovering from spending most of Wednesday in the hospital did not help.) But for those of you who have asked, here is how I plan to mark my ballot next Tuesday:

GovernorRandy Brogdon
Lt. GovernorJohn A. Wright
State Auditor and InspectorGary Jones
Attorney GeneralScott Pruitt
State TreasurerOwen Laughlin
Superintendent of Public InstructionJanet Barresi
Commissioner of LaborMark Costello
Insurance CommissionerJohn Doak
Corporation CommissionerDana Murphy
U. S. SenatorTom Coburn
U. S. Representative, District No. 1John Sullivan
County AssessorKen Yazel
County TreasurerDennis Semler
District Judge, District No. 14 - Office No. 3James M. Caputo
District Judge, District No. 14 - Office No. 13Bill Musseman

Some of these were close calls, and my choice for one candidate doesn't necessarily mean that the opposing candidate is a bad choice.

Here's my 2010 primary voters' guide, with links to candidate websites and Twitter accounts.

Endorsements elsewhere:

Jamison Faught (aka the Muskogee Politico) has published a list of his endorsements, with some detail about his rationale in each case. I don't agree with all his choices, but it's worth reading.

The Tulsa Beacon endorsements are here. In the Beacon's editorial category, you'll find specifics on specific races.

The Oklahoma Conservative Political Action Committee (OCPAC) made their primary endorsements back in April. OCPAC's Charlie Meadows has just posted his personal picks, which includes most of the contested Republican legislative primaries.

Steven Roemerman has posted his choices in the Republican primary, including the hotly contested Tulsa County District 3 Commission race.

CHS polling AG race

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My wife just got polled by CHS, leading off with heard of/favorable/unfavorable questions for the two candidates for Attorney General, followed by preference questions on several of the statewide races (Governor, Lt. Governor, Attorney General, State Superintendent, and Corporation Commissioner), followed by heard of/favorable/unfavorable questions about Janet Barresi and Todd Lamb. Before I handed my wife the phone, I asked who had commissioned the poll and if the results would be published and the answers that came back were ambiguous, which leads me to believe that this is an internal campaign poll for several candidates who are clients of the same consulting firm.

District Attorney Tim Harris and former assistant DA Joy Pittman Mohorovicic have endorsed Special Judge Bill Musseman for District Judge, District 14, Office 13, the open seat being vacated by Judge Deborah Shallcross.

Here is the endorsement letter sent out by Harris:

Dear Friends,

I don't often make personal recommendations in political elections, but I feel compelled to tell you about a colleague and outstanding former assistant district attorney who is running for District Judge in the primary election on July 27.

For more than a decade, it has been my privilege to work with Bill Musseman as a prosecutor in the Tulsa County District Attorney's Office.

Beginning in 2005, Bill served as Chief of Homicide and Major Crimes Prosecution and has tried more than 80 felony jury trials, 30 murder trials and ten death penalty trials.

He had tremendous success as a prosecutor and served with integrity, professionalism and compassion for victims of crime. In December of 2009, he was selected to serve as a Special Judge. It was a loss for my office, but Bill Musseman will continue serve the public with honor and distinction as a Judge.

I know Bill's experience and legal knowledge will make him a fine District Judge who will serve our community well. Too often, voters are hard-pressed to find adequate information to make informed decisions in important judicial races.

We need men and women of integrity like Bill Musseman on the bench! Please join me in supporting Bill Musseman for District Judge.

Tim Harris

Here is the endorsement letter sent out by Mohorovicic, who also served a term as chairman of the Tulsa County Republican Party:

Dear friends,

I wanted to send you an email to tell you about my friend, Judge William Musseman. I worked with Judge Musseman at the District Attorney's office for over two years. He was my direct supervisor for over one year. He was a great boss and a great mentor. He is an honorable man and an extremely good attorney. He was the hardest working assistant district attorney at that office. He was chief of major crimes and handled most of the difficult cases that came though the DA's office. The most important thing that I ever observed about him was his fairness. He has a lovely family and is a strong Christian.

Last year, Judge Musseman was appointed to a special judge position in Tulsa County and has quickly become admired for his ability to know, understand and rule correctly on Oklahoma Law.

I wanted to send this email mainly because I know that before I worked at the courthouse, I had no idea who to vote for in judicial races. I can honestly tell each of you that Judge Musseman is one of, if not the best, judge in Tulsa County and I am proud to vote for him.

Please feel free to visit his website at www.billmusseman.com for more information.

Thank you so much for your time.

God Bless,

Joy Mohorovicic,
Former Chairman of the Republican Party of Tulsa County

We don't get much information about judicial candidates, so personal endorsements from people I trust about a candidate's work ethic, integrity, and values are especially helpful.

One more piece of information: Musseman is registered to vote as a Republican.

MORE: My guide to the 2010 Tulsa County district judge election process.

The other day the following post by a Facebook friend who is a former Democrat legislator:

So, we have a repuke who opened 2 private schools running for superintendant of public education. Anyone see something odd about that?

Repuke? Oh, nice, as Onslow says.

The attempted slam (which failed for inaccuracy) was aimed at Janet Barresi, a Republican running for State Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Barresi helped to open two charter schools, which are not private, but public, funded with public funds and under the sponsorship of a public agency, usually the local public school district.

When I pointed this out, the response was that charter schools "can be set up in such a way so that it denies equal opportunity."

How so? At Harding Charter Prep School (one of the schools that Janet Barresi helped to start) 77% of the students are eligible for free or reduced lunch, and nearly half of the student body is African-American (24%), Hispanic (11%), or Native American (6%). The numbers are about the same at Independence Charter Middle School (the other school Barresi helped found, and the first charter school in Oklahoma). And over 90% of the graduating class is headed to college. It looks to me like Janet Barresi has been helping to create opportunity for Oklahoma City students. We should want more of that, shouldn't we?

According to Newsweek, which ranked Harding Charter Prep 69th among the top high schools for 2010: "There are no requirements as to which students can attend; it is a public school. There are no tuition fees. No entry test is required, nor interview or audition."

From a Janet Barresi press release about the Newsweek ranking:

"When we founded Harding, the naysayers claimed low-income students could not handle the rigor of a college preparatory curriculum," said Barresi, a Republican candidate for State Superintendent of Public Instruction. "After seven years of operation, it's clear the critics were wrong and the Newsweek ranking is further proof of that fact. I believe we can now take the lessons learned at Harding and apply them to all Oklahoma schools to benefit every child in the state. My mission is to make every local public school so successful that it is parents' first and best choice for their children."...

"Harding's success is not based on cherry picking students, but is the result of successful teaching strategies that can be employed anywhere," Barresi said. "When you set high expectations, children will rise to the challenge - my experience with Harding proves it. I am very proud of Harding's students, but I believe all Oklahoma children are capable of similar achievement. My goal as state superintendent will be to raise the performance of all Oklahoma schools."

(I think it's wonderful that the charter school uses a historic school building and the school's historic name, connecting present-day students with a legacy that spans over 80 years.)

I'm excited about having Janet Barresi's vision, drive, and experience at work to improve education for all Oklahoma children. I hope you'll join me in voting for her for State Superintendent in Tuesday's Republican primary and again in the November general election.

The Tulsa Area Republican Assembly (TARA) is one of several local GOP clubs. They operate independently of the local party organization and hold monthly meetings that often feature elected officials or candidates as speakers. TARA is affiliated with the Oklahoma Republican Assembly (OKRA) and the National Federation of Republican Assemblies (NFRA), a group that calls itself the "GOP Wing of the Republican Party."

Tonight at their monthly meeting, TARA members voted to endorse Tulsa County Assessor Ken Yazel for reelection and David Brumbaugh, who is running for House District 76 in Broken Arrow, an open seat currently held by John Wright. No other endorsements were made, even though there are primaries in two county commission races, the county treasurer's race, State House Districts 66, 68, and 74 and State Senate District 34. Under NFRA rules, two-thirds of the members must vote in favor of an endorsement, and local chapters may only endorse in local races, deferring to the state organization in statewide races.

(I am told that OKRA is somewhat in disarray after the death of former State Rep. Tim Pope, who had been the group's president. In years past OKRA has held an endorsing convention prior to the primaries, but that won't happen this year.)

Following the meeting, I had a cordial chat with State Rep. Ken Miller, candidate for State Treasurer, about whom I wrote yesterday. More about that later.

Recent articles of interest on urban policy, both in Tulsa and elsewhere:

TU in 2010

Daniel Jeffries posts a map of the present-day University of Tulsa campus, comparing it to a map from the 1960s, showing the removal of the street grid over the last half century, and adding this comment:

TU continues to degrade the surrounding urban neighborhoods by destroying access points to the campus, reducing the number of streets within the campus itself, built an 8-foot-tall fence around the entire campus, tearing down homes and forcing traffic onto just a few streets.

This mindless policy of destruction serves no good and shows a huge lack of forethought, planning, and is extremely reckless.

It should be noted that the expansion of TU, a private university, has been greatly facilitated by the City's use of eminent domain.

Along the same topic of street connectivity: Redsneakz commented here a while back on my link to an op-ed about transit-oriented development around Tysons Corner in Fairfax County, Va. He's written two posts: The Problem with Tysons Corner and More on Tysons and central Fairfax. The Metro extension, he writes, won't fix what's wrong:

What we don't have in our "fair city" is cross streets. What we do have are large loop roads circling the area. They're almost all four lane roads, with relatively few traffic signals, all of which leads to traffic traveling at fairly dangerous (to pedestrians) speeds. The office buildings are all "campus style," which means that the developers made large buildings with extensive above-ground parking areas and largely uncontrolled egress onto these surface roads, with some amount of greenspace thrown in for aesthetic reasons. The greatest number of these office buildings is north of Route 7.

Part one of the redesign plan is to extend Metro out as far as Dulles Airport, with an initial phase having four stops within Tysons. This seems like a pretty good idea, because you can basically eliminate a couple of thousand cars per day entering the traffic sink that is Tysons, and people can actually walk to their jobs... uh, hold on. Walking around the area is incovenient at best, and dangerous at worst.

In the second piece, he notes that NoVa's traffic problems are out of proportion to the area's population:

For sheer number of traffic jams, neither LA nor New York can really be beat, at least here in the US.... But here's the thing; the New York Metro Area has something on the order of 19 million people living there; Los Angeles Metropolitan area, 17 million....

Metropolitan DC, by contrast, has a population of 4 million or so, yet the traffic here is infamously bad. Every workday, without exception, the western and northern quadrants of I-495 are pretty much rock solid bad traffic. Unsurprisingly, the focus of the bad traffic, on this section of highway, is Tysons Corner....

Poor planning is a big part of the problem. One possible relief route across the Potomac was eliminated by default:

Policy decisions, though, allowed subdivisions to be created on the Virginia side nearly up to the 100 year flood mark, and a golf course on the Maryland side, right at the optimal crossing point. That bridge could have been the anchor of a long dreamed of Outer Beltway, linking Maryland Route 28 to the Fairfax County Parkway.


Speaking of planning, Oklahoma City's Blair Humphreys has a piece in the Oklahoma Gazette about the launch of Oklahoma City's comprehensive plan update, called planOKC.

The most recent plan, created in 1977 and last updated in 2000, set out to preserve and revitalize existing neighborhoods and improve the efficiency of the continued outward suburban growth. And the most recent update in 2000, perhaps following the lessons learned from MAPS, added a commitment to revitalizing the city's central core.

While these plans have certainly had an impact on Oklahoma City's growth and development, there is a significant difference between what we have planned to do, and what we have actually done.

For instance, although the 1977 plan focused on preservation and called for efficient growth, the development that has occurred over the past 33 years ostensibly runs counter to those objectives. Since 1977, our population has increased by 40 percent, but land development has occurred at approximately two-and-a-half times the rate of population growth. And in order to provide "convenient" access to this scattered development, we have expanded our street network at a frenetic pace, increasing the amount of paved right-of-way by 275 percent during the same period.

Brian J. Noggle starts with wayfinding signs in Springfield, Mo., and winds up with a comment on the propagation of urban improvement fads and the irony that proponents of local exceptionalism are often advocates of copycat solutions:

I can't be the only one to notice that candidates for office often stress that they've lived in an area all their lives and know the solutions the region needs, and then they go on a junket-I mean fact-finding mission or conference trip-to some fabulous location and come back with a bunch of imported ways to spend money to make this city look like thatcity.

Charles G. Hill links to Noggle's item and notes:

We have no shortage of would-be hipster urbanists who want this town to look exactly like [fill in name of municipal role model] -- only completely different.

Amy Alkon features a video about an unattended, automated parking garage in Budapest. Very cool, and something similar was built in Hoboken, New Jersey, some years ago; local blogger Mister Snitch covered at length the political complications affecting the project. And here's a story on NJ.com about a 2009 malfunction at the garage.

There's a tube station on the 3rd floor of a London office building, part of a training center for London Underground.

Although Republican gubernatorial candidate Mary Fallin refuses to do a televised debate with her opponents, there are video and audio clips of joint appearances and candidate forums at which she, Randy Brogdon, and the other two GOP candidates discussed issues. Here's a clip from a Comanche County Republican meeting. The question from the audience was, "Will you be tough enough to deal with what we've got to deal with in Washington?"

In this context, Brogdon brought up Fallin's vote for the bailout (Troubled Assets Relief Program), and Fallin defended her vote in favor: "Until you've been there and you've been in the situation and you understand the details and the facts...." She went on to describe the dire warnings of financial system collapse from Fed chairman Ben Bernanke and Secretary of the Treasury Henry Paulsen that persuaded her to vote for TARP. But then Fallin expressed shock and dismay at the outcome:

Now, did they do what they said they were going to do with the money that was used for TARP, the Troubled Asset Relief Fund? No! And we were all disgusted about that.

But Fallin gave no indication in her response that in the future she'll be more skeptical when business leaders come to her, hat in hand, asking her to use our tax dollars to pay for their poor judgment.

We did the best we could with the information that we had at the time, but we can't help what they did and didn't keep their words after the face.

In his rebuttal, Brogdon brought the issue back to the original question: "Are you going to be tough?" He noted that spoke in opposition to the bailout vote at the time, and he would not have voted for it because it was unconstitutional. Fallin can be heard butting in to say, "That's the easy way out." The audience expressed its disapproval.

It takes toughness to stand firm on the principles of constitutionally limited government and free markets when lobbyists and campaign contributors are either telling you that the sky is falling and the only cure is to give them tax dollars. Fallin may be tough enough, as she claims to be, to resist left-wing lobbyists, but it appears she is not tough enough to resist self-serving panic-mongering from corporate interests who want welfare to cushion them from the consequences of their bad decisions.

I can forgive a vote for TARP, but it would be easier to forgive with an acknowledgment that it was a bad decision, with a promise to exercise greater skepticism, and with a renewed commitment to let the Constitution control her decisions.

MORE: In Part 1, Fallin gave a roundabout (and somewhat patronizing) answer to a question about potential conflicts of interest involving her lobbyist daughter. In response to a question about keeping jobs from leaving Oklahoma for Texas, Brogdon says, "It's time for politicians to stop faking you out that politicians can create jobs." Brogdon called for challenging the status quo and an end to the use of targeted tax credits to stimulate economic development, which he called "corporate welfare... legal plunder... immoral." Subsidies, he said, are bankrupting our nation and our state. Instead, reform should work generally to reduce the costs government imposes on job creation.

In two statewide primary races, the leading Republican contenders were both members of the Oklahoma Legislature in 2008. The top candidates for the GOP nominations for Lieutenant Governor and State Treasurer were on opposite sides of the 2008 expansion of the Oklahoma Quality Jobs Act to include professional sports franchises, part of the effort to "lure" the Oklahoma City residents who owned the Seattle SuperSonics to bring the team to Oklahoma City.

State Rep. John Wright and State Sen. Owen Laughlin were wise and principled enough to vote against the giveaway; State Sen. Todd Lamb and State Rep. Ken Miller voted for it.

(In case you're wondering, State Sen. Randy Brogdon also voted against the NBA giveaway. Anyone remember whether Congresswoman Mary Fallin backed Maps for Millionaires or SB 1819?)

According to a February 2009 press release from the Oklahoma Department of Commerce, the Professional Basketball Club LLC, owners of the Oklahoma City Thunder, qualify for a maximum benefit of over $100 million dollars over 10 years. That's money that the Thunder owners would otherwise be paying into the state treasury.

The idea behind the Oklahoma Quality Jobs Act, passed in the 1990s, is to offset some of the costs that businesses face when adding new employees and to make Oklahoma more attractive for companies to relocate or expand. Certain types of jobs and businesses are targeted -- mainly jobs involving skilled labor or high technology and companies which bring new dollars into the state by selling their products and services out of state. (Here's the Oklahoma Department of Commerce guidebook on the program.)

Expanding this act to subsidize an NBA team completely subverts the original purpose of the act, and I was disgusted that so many Republicans -- particularly Tulsa Republicans -- voted in favor of the expansion (SB 1819, 2008 legislative session). I wrote at the time:

The idea [behind the Quality Jobs Act] is that these companies are bringing dollars and good jobs into the state, and the resulting increase in payroll and consumer spending will bring in more than enough new revenue to the state treasury to compensate for the payroll rebates.

An NBA team doesn't fit those criteria, no matter how much it may boost our state's self-esteem. Instead of bringing new revenue in from out of state, a pro basketball team will merely reapportion the way Oklahoma City residents spend their disposable income.

Study after study shows that a major league sports team doesn't grow the local economic pie; it simply competes with other entertainment and leisure businesses for a share of the same pie. The Sonics owners made that very case in a Seattle courtroom, as part of their effort to break the lease on Seattle's Key Arena, arguing that the team had a negligible impact on the local economy.

It gets worse:

A couple of special provisions were added to the Quality Jobs Act to make it an even sweeter deal for the Sonics and a much worse deal for taxpayers. While the tax rebate usually only applies to salaries that are taxable in Oklahoma, the Sonics will still get the rebate "regardless of whether Oklahoma income tax is or will be due on such wages." So we'll be paying the subsidy on a player's salary, even if he maintains residency and gets paid in Washington state, which has no state income tax.

And while Quality Jobs rebates are limited to 10 years for all other industries, sports teams get rebates for 15 years. All this for 41 home games a year....

[A press] release [from Speaker Chris Benge] reveals we're paying a high price for [national] exposure: In return for the $60 million subsidy, "[i]t is estimated that local and state tax revenue to the state over a 15 year period will be $11.2 million." That's a revenue loss of $48.8 million.

I've known John Wright for many years and know him to be a consistent, across-the-board conservative and an honorable man, so I was already inclined to support him for Lt. Governor. His vote against SB 1819 confirms my judgment that he will make decisions in the best interest of all Oklahoma taxpayers. He won't be swept away by emotional appeals or lobbyist pressure.

I was undecided in the State Treasurer's race, not knowing either candidate personally. Both claim to be fiscal hawks.

Owen Laughlin voted against SB 1819 and for fiscal sanity. In the current campaign, he offers a plan to improve the state's budget by $100 million a year, without raising taxes.

Ken Miller says he "has never supported a tax increase," but by voting to give money to the Thunder, he certainly made life harder for the vast majority of Oklahomans who will never see any fiscal or cultural benefit from an NBA team. Miller says on his campaign website, "The best thing the state government can do to encourage economic growth is to simply stay out of the way of private citizens," but his vote for SB 1819 undercuts his claim to that creed. Thunder co-owner Clay Bennett's endorsement is prominently featured on Miller's site.

While Miller and Lamb would both represent an improvement over the current Democratic occupants of the offices they seek, they failed a crucial test on an issue that will only grow in importance during these tight financial times -- how should government be involved in encouraging private business expansion.

Way back in 2008, I wrote:

None of the supporters of SB 1819 are likely to pay come election day -- the benefits are concentrated and the costs are diffuse -- but I will be keeping this vote in mind should any of them seek higher office. How someone voted on SB 1819 is an indication of that legislator's susceptibility to lobbyist pressure and view of the proper role of government in economic development.

BACKGROUND: This BatesLine entry includes an excerpt from a study showing that having a pro sports franchise tends to decrease a community's per capita income. Why does this happen?

First, consumer spending on sports may simply substitute for spending on other types of entertainment--and on other goods and services generally--so there is very little new income or employment generated. Sports fans that attend a game may reduce their visits to the movies or to restaurants to free up finances for game tickets and concessions. Patrons of local restaurants and bars who come to watch the games on television also are likely to cut back on their other entertainment spending.

Second, compared to the alternative goods and services that sports fans may purchase, spending related to stadium attendance has a relatively small multiplier effect. This is because spending at the stadium translates into salaries for wealthy athletes, many of whom live outside the city where they play. High-income individuals generally spend a smaller fraction of their income than low- and middle-income people--and much of the spending professional athletes do occurs in a different community than where they earned it. So the money paid to players does not circulate as widely or abundantly as it would were it paid to people with less wealth and more attachment to the city.

MORE: Earlier this year, State Rep. Ben Sharrer (D-Pryor Creek) explained his vote against the NBA giveaway:

Two years ago I represented your interests by fighting against extending the [Quality Jobs] Act to professional basketball franchises. I just didn't think it seemed right that your tax dollars should be sent to wealthy businesspeople for a team in Oklahoma City when most my constituents would never see a game from courtside or a luxury box, much less a seat in the nosebleed section....

You don't get credit as being an owner, but I've heard your tax dollars will pay the Thunder owners nearly $6 million this year. Gee, that amount of money would have saved nutrition programs for senior citizens across our state this year.

Oklahoma City has a new museum. Retro Metro OKC was launched recently, an online archive of Oklahoma City history, devoted to making artifacts and images of the city's past more readily accessible to the public via the Internet. Its mission statement:

Retro Metro OKC is dedicated to educating the community and its visitors about local history by collecting, preserving, displaying and interpreting materials reflecting the heritage of Oklahoma City.

And from the "about us" page:

RetroMetroOKC was started in September, 2009 by a group of history enthusiasts wishing to better promote and tell the history of the greater Oklahoma City metro and to support and work with like-minded organizations whenever possible. We are dedicated to making history fun and accessible to all. The founding group consists of historians, authors, urban planners, attorneys, real estate professionals, videographers and designers with ages ranging from 17 to 70.

I see some familiar names on the founders' roster: Oklahoman reporter and blogger Steve Lackmeyer (president of the organization), Jack Money (reporter and co-author with Lackmeyer of two books on Oklahoma City history, and co-founder of okchistory.com), Doug Loudenback (who has singlehandedly created a great web resource on Oklahoma City history), urban planner Blair Humphreys.

A Retro Metro OKC press release (via Dustbury) explains how the collection will be built:

Retro Metro OKC operates differently from other organizations in that we have no museum, we have no physical collections, and in most instances the materials we display remain in private ownership. In a typical situation our volunteer crews go to a home or business to scan an owner's collection and the owner participates in the project by sharing information about the photos and documents as they are being scanned. The materials never have to leave an owner's possession -- the owner is simply asked to sign a release that allows for the materials to be displayed online.

The owner of such materials is given a disc of the digitized images and documents -- and copies also will be given to the Oklahoma Historical Society and the Metropolitan Library System to ensure they will be preserved for future generations.

This is exciting. It's a great way to collect and display historical information, and I look forward to seeing the collection grow. I'd love to be a part of such an effort here in Tulsa. So much material is already in the possession of the Tulsa Historical Society (photographs, ephemera, and artifacts, including the massive Beryl Ford Collect), the Tulsa Library system (vertical files, old government documents), INCOG (historical aerial photos and maps), the City of Tulsa (permits, ordinances, maps) -- but it needs to be digitized, categorized, and organized online in some form. The Retro Metro OKC folks were wise enough to realize that no one person, no one organization could tackle the job alone.

Nevertheless, I'm thankful for the all the local Tulsa history that is already available online. Tulsa Gal has been posting photos and ads from the Official Book of Tulsa in Pictures, a special publication for the 1927 International Petroleum Exposition and Tulsa State Fair. Her July archive contains all six parts of her Tulsa 1927 series.

Some of the most interesting aspects of these photos are the incidental details that are captured, details that would have been routine at the time, not noteworthy, but which are fascinating today. James Lileks calls this phenomenon "inadvertent documentary." For example: Go through the Tulsa 1927 posts and count how many times you see streetcar tracks, streetcar wires, or an actual streetcar.

Tulsa Gal also posts a regular photo trivia question on the Tulsa Historical Society Facebook page.

I'm dealing with blog guilt. I look at my blog and feel guilty for not updating it. Then I start to write a blog post and feel guilty about all the non-blog things I should be doing instead.

I was at a candidate's volunteer event today and someone was surprised to learn that I don't blog for a living. He had assumed that, because of all the content I produce, I must be doing this full-time. (It doesn't seem to me that I produce all that much content these days.) I assured him that that was not the case. I have a full-time, mentally-demanding, private-sector job that pays the bills and doesn't leave me with much energy when I finally have time to sit down and write. The time I spend on this I really ought to be spending (1) asleep, (2) playing with my kids, (3) doing housework, or (4) doing yard work.

I am not a trust-fund baby. No foundation is paying me a stipend so I can research, think, and write full-time. The only income this blog brings in comes from readers hitting the tip jar or people buying ads. It's enough to cover the hosting and domain costs and some research expenses. I'm grateful for and encouraged by the five people who contributed in response to my appeal, but it's clear that I'm not going to be able to feed, clothe, house, and educate a family of five by blogging about local issues. I suppose I should be thankful there wasn't a bigger response; if there had been, I'd feel guilty for not blogging more.

All that said, I don't have anything new for you from my metaphorical pen, but I can offer you some interesting links elsewhere about the 2010 Oklahoma election:

Steven Roemerman lives in Tulsa County Commission District 3, and he's received mailings from two of the three Republican candidates for that seat, incumbent Commissioner Fred Perry and Tulsa City Council attorney Drew Rees, with an interesting contrast in endorsements. Roemerman writes of Rees's piece, "I've never had a piece of campaign lit so thoroughly convince me not to vote for someone before, while at the same time making me hungry for the sweet sweet combination of chocolate and peanut-butter." Click through, read the mailers, and see if you can spot the missed opportunities. Sad when a consultant's connections and preferences are allowed to override his candidate's best interests.

Mike Ford has the scoop on David Hanigar, "Republican" candidate for State Auditor. Hanigar only recently changed his party registration and was a significant donor to several Democratic state officials, including disgraced and convicted former State Auditor Jeff McMahan.

Jamison Faught has been scrolling out his endorsements for statewide candidates in the upcoming Republican primary.

Oklahomans for Life has posted their July 2010 newsletter which contains the responses to their candidate survey.

Mike McCarville has dueling commercials and dueling press releases from the campaigns, including the latest dust-up between Scott Pruitt and Ryan Leonard, Republican candidates for Attorney General.

And finally, Irritated Tulsan offers a "urinalysis" of the dispute between Mayor Dewey Bartlett Jr and the Tulsa City Council.

The celebrity-studded TV special that opened Disneyland 55 years ago today, hosted by Art Linkletter, with cameos from Bob Cummings, Ronald Reagan, Danny Thomas.

The show runs to at least eight segments, and you'll find related video -- e.g., construction progress -- on the "freedogshampoo" YouYube account.

Via Wilhelm Murg on Facebook. Wilhelm posts items "on this date" in pop culture history almost daily. Today's other milestone: The 42nd anniversary of the debut of the Beatles' animated movie, Yellow Submarine.

UPDATE: G. T. Bynum tweets, regarding the charter amendments on the 6 p.m. agenda:

@BatesLine Staff error. Will be delayed yet another week for amdts to be online plenty of time.

This is a crazy-busy time in Tulsa politics. You'd think the City Hall folks would have the courtesy to settle things down while there are state and county primaries about to happen. But no....

There are four -- count them, four -- Tulsa City Council meetings today. At 2 p.m., a special meeting will be held to discuss amendments to the Tulsa City Charter proposed by Councilor Roscoe Turner:

01. Proposed Charter Amendment:Change of form of government to a Charter form of the Council / Manager form of government. (Turner) 10-446-3 02. Proposed Charter Amendment: Making the City Attorney an elected position. (Turner) 10-446-4 03. Proposed Charter Amendment: Establishing a Council Attorney. (Turner) 10-446-5 04. Proposed Charter Amendment: Having Fire Department assume EMSA's duties and responsibilities. (Turner) 10-446-6

The 3 p.m. special meeting will deal with the controversy surrounding Mayor Dewey Bartlett Jr, Chief of Staff Terry Simonson, federal grants, and police layoffs.

01. Consider motion and enter executive session pursuant Title 25 O.S. Section 307(B)(1) to discuss potential disciplinary action by the Council with regard to the Mayor and/or Chief of Staff/General Counsel, based upon the recent investigation into statements made to the Tulsa City Council and to federal agencies regarding the use or repurposing of Justice Administration Grant funds for police officer salaries. 10-184-3 02. Leave executive session to possibly take appropriate disciplinary action with regard to the Mayor and/or Chief of Staff/General Counsel, based upon the recent investigation into statements made to the Tulsa City Council and to federal agencies regarding the use or repurposing of Justice Administration Grant funds for police officer salaries. 10-184-4 03. Adjournment 04. Discussion regarding the status of the investigation, report and effects of City Attorney's Office recusal, and possible administrative actions which the City Council may take with regard to the Mayor and/or Chief of Staff based upon the findings of the report. 10-184-5 05. Discussion and possible approval of a recommendation regarding the qualifications of Dafne Pharis for the position of Director of Grants Administrator. (Henderson) 10-536-1

Charter amendments will be back on the table at the 5 p.m. meeting. The first item deals with the amendments regarding independent candidates, an "independent primary" election, and primary runoff elections that emerged from G. T. Bynum's election reform task force. These items are also on the 6 p.m. agenda, and once again the text of the proposed charter amendments is not available on the City Council website.

There's another new amendment on the 5 p.m. agenda, brought forward by Council Chairman Rick Westcott. This would fix a problem with the ill-considered charter amendment approved last fall, which made council terms three years on a rotating cycle, so that three seats are up for election every year. The proposal (which IS on the Council website) would move the primary in even-numbered years to August to coincide with the state primary runoff election. The primary would remain on the second Tuesday in September in odd-numbered years. This would allow the City to use the resources of the Tulsa County Election Board to run the election. State law prohibits county election boards from servicing elections which are not held on election days authorized by state law (26 O. S. 13-103)

D. All municipal elections, including elections for municipalities with home rule charters, shall be held only on dates identified by subsection B of Section 3-101 of this title.

The authorized dates are established by 26 O. S. 3-101:

Except as otherwise provided by law, no special election shall be held by any county, school district, technology center school district, municipality or other entity authorized to call elections except on the second Tuesday of January, February, May, June, July, August, September, October, November and December and the first Tuesday in March and April in odd-numbered years and the second Tuesday of January, February, May, and December, the first Tuesday in March and April, the last Tuesday in July, the fourth Tuesday in August, and the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November of any even-numbered year; except in any year when a Presidential Preferential Primary Election is held in February, the date for the special elections shall be the same date as the Presidential Preferential Primary Election.

While this change is an improvement, staggered terms will still result in different election conditions every year on a 12-year-cycle: which councilors are up for election, which month for the primary, which Tuesday in November for the general, whether or not the Mayor is on the ballot, whether or not the Auditor is on the ballot, whether or not the President is on the ballot. In some years, council candidates will share the stage only with the auditor; in others, council candidates will compete with presidential, congressional, county, and legislative candidates for dollars, volunteers, and attention. The number of weeks between primary and general will oscillate between 8 and 11.

(And staggered terms, with or without the new amendment, play havoc with the number of signatures required to recall a councilor, which is based on the last time the seat was on the same ballot as the mayoral general election, an event that could be 11 years in the past.)

The best way to fix the staggered terms mess is to repeal it.

The 6 p.m. meeting brings back the aforementioned Bynum charter amendments for consideration for the November ballot and considers replacing the Existing Structures Code wholesale with a new "Property Maintenance Code." (Anyone looked at the impact on restoration and reuse of historic buildings?)

On top of everything else, the Council will consider adoption of PLANiTULSA as the City's comprehensive plan. As with the charter amendments, NO BACKUP DOCUMENTATION has been provided on the Council's website, so we can't see precisely what the Council may be adopting tonight.

Oh, and all the City Councilors are being sued by Burt Holmes, Nancy Rothman, and Henryetta McIntosh for allegedly violating the Open Meeting Act. Who paid the filing fee?

RECEIPT # 2010-1935441 ON 07/14/2010. PAYOR:FREDERIC DORWART TOTAL AMOUNT PAID: $128.00.

The Dorwart firm is the former employer of Tulsa City Attorney Deirdre Dexter and lists among its clients BOK Financial Corporation, George Kaiser Family Foundation, Kaiser-Francis Oil Company, Tulsa Community Foundation, and Tulsa Metro Chamber of Commerce. Dorwart was the attorney of record for the Tulsa Industrial Authority in its suit against the Tulsa Airports Improvement Trust and the City of Tulsa over the Great Plains Airlines loan default, which was settled by the City paying $7.1 million from property tax funds.

Fun times.


Every year around this time, Gary Ezzo, creator of a popular system for child-rearing and discipline (including books like Babywise and Growing Kids God's Way), holds an annual "National Leadership and Alumni Conference" for his organization, Growing Families International.

And every year, conservative Christian bloggers who reject Ezzo's approach as physically dangerous and unbiblical hold a special Ezzo Week emphasis to educate parents on the problems with Gary Ezzo and his teachings. Blogger TulipGirl launched Ezzo Week in 2004; you can read through her archive of material on Gary Ezzo, Babywise, and Growing Families International .

This year Ezzo's conference is being held in the Tulsa metropolitan area at First Baptist Church of Broken Arrow, which is why I'm making a special effort to make my Tulsa readers aware of the other side of the story. The last time the Ezzo conference met in Tulsa, Tulsa Kids ran an excellent article featuring interviews with moms who had used Ezzo's feeding plan and whose children struggled with failure to thrive, and with people who had been involved in Ezzo's organization. The author of that piece also wrote two earlier pieces for Tulsa Kids: Babywise? Be Wary! Part 1, published in January 2000, and Babywise? Be Wary! Part 2, from February 2000.

As parents-to-be, we heard glowing reports from many of our friends about Babywise, Ezzo's plan for getting babies on a feeding schedule ("Parent Directed Feeding") and sleeping through the night within two months, and Growing Kids God's Way, which emphasized "First Time Obedience." Last year I wrote about my regrets in following the Ezzo approach:

That approach to discipline alienates parents from children, and sets mom and dad up as scorekeepers and penalty managers. I found myself denying myself the enjoyment of time with my brilliant, funny, and beautiful kids for the sake of teaching them a lesson. And a child's natural desire to please mom and dad turns to despair -- the feeling that nothing he does will ever be good enough, so why bother trying?

It is hard to ditch the Ezzo mindset. You're confronted with regrets over years wasted and damage done, as the letter on Quiet Garden discusses. There's also the inner Ezzo nagging you that you're being too lax, too lenient, that you're spoiling your kids. But I'm starting to think that the worst kind of spoilage would be if my child no longer felt connected to me, if my child felt alienated from me, no longer identifying with my values, uninterested in my advice, unwilling to learn from my experiences.

I'd rather work alongside my children, enjoying their company, sharing laughter, and guiding them down the right path -- not like the guy back at the gas station who gave you directions but like the sherpa who is with you step-by-step up the treacherous mountain trail.

If you know young parents or parents-to-be, or those who teach and mentor new parents, please send them a link to this article and encourage them to tune into to TulipGirl's blog for Ezzo Week 2010.


Voices of Experience on ezzo.info
A timeline on controversy surrounding Gary Ezzo, his methods, and his estrangement from churches and family members


Five years ago tonight, on July 12, 2005, I was at The Embers, a wonderful steakhouse at 81st and Harvard (now gone, sadly), celebrating the overwhelming defeat of the attempt to recall two Tulsa City Councilors, Jim Mautino and Chris Medlock. The recall effort dominated the local political scene for over a year, a battle that pitted the traditional Money Belt rulers of Tulsa and the suburban development industry against a group of five councilors from the neglected periphery of the city who were working for open and responsive city government which would put the needs of Tulsa residents and the city's own development and fiscal health first.

Supporters of Mautino and Medlock had to overcome the substantial financial advantage of the pro-recall forces, whose supporters included the ownership of the daily paper. The old guard still had the backing of a once-dominant morning host in his waning days; the anti-recall forces were boosted by the new morning talk champion, who rallied listeners to "stand up for what's right," to show up at council meetings and rallies and to go door-to-door to defeat the recall.

The defeated establishment forces regrouped, formed Tulsans for Better Government, and began circulating a petition to change the composition of the council, turning nine districts into six and adding three seats elected citywide. That effort was rebuffed by the Citizens' Commission for City Government, and prospective mayoral candidates like Randi Miller, Kathy Taylor, and Dewey Bartlett Jr were anxious to disassociate themselves from the unpopular plan.

But now the at-large idea is back, with Bartlett Jr making sympathetic noises about electing the entire council citywide and the Keating Twins (former governor Frank and his brother Dan) on KFAQ Monday morning promoting at-large councilors.

(I'm not sure why Frank Keating is involving himself in Tulsa politics. Although he is still registered to vote here, as far as I can tell he hasn't actually lived here -- in the sense that most people talk about their primary place of residence -- since Tom Foley was Speaker of the U. S. House. His voter registration record lists a condo owned by his mother-in-law as his residence, and the Governor's Mansion in Oklahoma City as his mailing address, despite the fact that the Henry family has lived there since 2003. The Keatings own a home in McLean, Va., which he purchased in 2003. On Pat Campbell's show Monday morning, Frank Keating seemed to be advocating that the Tulsa Metro Chamber draft us a new city charter, which shows a very 1990s understanding of the power and role of the Chamber, which recently fought unsuccessfully just to get a special mention in Tulsa's new comprehensive plan.)

Today as five years ago a lot of fingers, particularly those belonging to Tulsa's fading establishment, are pointing at the City Council as the source of all the contention at City Hall. If only they could be muzzled or restrained, the thinking goes, the Mayor could really get things done.

But it's that very mode of thinking that is the real hindrance to cooperation at City Hall. The nine elected representatives of the people of Tulsa have never been treated as partners by this mayor or any of his predecessors, going back at least as far as Susan Savage. Councilors were either to be manipulated, given pork barrel in exchange for faithful service as the mayor's rubber stamp, or bulldozed, with the assistance of the establishment's media outlets.

In the past, the mayor could count on a few loyal supporters on the council to help her undermine her opponents on the council. That is no longer the case. Whatever their differences on specific issues, the nine councilors have developed an institutional self-respect that was once lacking. They are united in insisting that the mayor respect the council's role under the charter as a co-equal branch of government, and they are right to do so. The assertiveness and solidarity of today's council owes much to the groundwork laid by the "Gang of Five" and their willingness to endure harsh, unending criticism.

The preeminent lesson of the failed 2005 recall attempt is that we must respect the verdict of the voters. They want checks and balances. They want independent-minded councilors, not rubber stamps.

Before we start messing with the form of government, how about we have a mayor who respects the council, seeks to understand their concerns, and works for solutions that earn their support?


BatesLine archive on the Mautino and Medlock recall election.

BatesLine archive from July 2005.

What are the odds? After protesting loudly during the mayoral campaign that he wasn't a member of Tulsans for Better Government and had no idea how his name got on that list, Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett Jr is now talking sympathetically about the concepts -- at-large councilors and non-partisan elections -- that TfBG have circulated as initiative petitions for Tulsa City Charter amendments. From this week's UTW:

"I believe the members of the City Council, if they disapprove of the actions I'm taking, in three and a half years can help vote me out of office," [Bartlett Jr] said. "That's their right. I think if the council wants to look at changing the form of government, they should look at other forms of government, as well.

"I've heard people say they'd be more comfortable with a group of city councilors who are elected at-large. They'd still have to live in their district, but they'd be elected by people all across the city, and that would make them more beholden to the city of Tulsa instead of a particular area."...

Bartlett said he believes most cities the size of Tulsa operate under a strong-mayor form of government, while smaller cities operate well with a city manager style. A prominent exception to that, he pointed out, is Oklahoma City, which proponents of the city manager-style of government like to cite as an example.

"I agree with them that Oklahoma City is an example of a city that's run well," he said.

But Bartlett noted that hasn't been the case until recent years. For many years in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the City Council there was split almost evenly between two factions, and whichever faction held power at any given time would hire its own city manager. The result was a revolving door in that office.

"They were having a terrible time keeping city managers and keeping the City Council engaged in a forward-thinking way," he said.

Bartlett said he has spoken to city officials there at length about what turned the situation around, and he said they told him it is their belief that two things make the situation in Oklahoma City different.

The first is the fact that the city holds nonpartisan elections, meaning candidates do not run under a party affiliation -- an idea strongly espoused by Mark Perkins, a Republican who ran as an independent in the mayoral campaign against Bartlett last fall, earning 18 percent of the vote....

Before last fall's city election, Stephen Roemerman wrote about his conversation with Bartlett Jr regarding Tulsans for Better Government and at-large councilors:

Last Sunday, I was a part of a small group who met with Mr. Bartlett to ask him questions (This will be another post). I told Mr. Bartlett that one of my primary concerns regarding his candidacy was his involvement with the Tulsans for Better Government. I told him that I found the idea for at-large councilors extremely concerning. The implication in my statement was that I could not support anyone who wanted to take control of the City Council in a way that would focus power in downtown and midtown, and disenfranchise the other parts of the city.

What he said, shocked and confused me. With regard to his involvement with Tulsans for Better Government, he said that he did not know about the at-large councilor push, that it was tendered without his knowledge. He suggested that he was asked to joined the group years ago but never really had anything to do with them, and certainly had nothing to do with the idea of at-large councilors. I asked him what he thought of at-large councilors and he said the he did not think it was a good idea, and that our form of government should not be changed.

In an October 2009 open letter to Republicans, then-nominee Dewey Bartlett Jr made a number of commitments to Republicans in an effort to win their support. Many Republicans felt that, however flawed Bartlett was as a candidate, they now had him making an on-record commitment on issues important to conservatives. The e-mail included a postscript that Bartlett Jr had signed the pledge opposing non-partisan elections.

That list of commitments is worth re-reading. It includes his pledge to "hire more police." And there's this gem (emphasis added:

We cannot ignore any part of town. We must improve our entire city and be sure that each part has proper investment and service. I will work with, not against, the city councilors to achieve this goal.

The at-large councilor proposal that Bartlett Jr mentions positively is even more radical than TfBG's original proposal to mix three at-large seats with six district seats. Even if the councilors lived in nine different districts, they would either have to be personally wealthy enough to sustain a city-wide campaign or be beholden to groups with a financial stake in manipulating city government. Grassroots campaigns to win a council seat would have a very slight chance of success, which I suspect is the whole point of the idea. Under at-large voting for the council, there would still be a District 1 councilor, but he'd be the sort of District 1 councilor that District 9 residents would find acceptable.

Question to the readers: Has Dewey Bartlett Jr turned out to be the kind of mayor you were led to believe he would be?

Some long-time friends, a couple of families from our church small group who left Tulsa for other cities some years ago, came back to town this weekend and suggested that we all go out to Discoveryland for their production of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Oklahoma! and for the pre-show cattleman's ranch dinner.

I hadn't been in many years. (My wife and older two kids went a couple years ago; I had stayed home with the youngest that night.) I can remember going with my family shortly after it opened, and taking a high school classmate there on a date. When I was first dating my wife, in '86 or '87, we had dinner at Pennington's Drive-Inn (butterfly shrimp and blackbottom pie), then went out to Discoveryland, only to stand under the concourse during a heavy rainstorm that cancelled the performance.

Back to 2010: The dinner was good -- a ribeye steak sandwich, potato salad, baked beans, kernel corn, with tea or water. You pick up your plate at the cookhouse, then walk a ways to picnic tables in a big covered pavilion. We lingered over dinner, getting caught up with our friends, then headed toward the amphitheater to pick up a dessert from the concession stand and find our seats. (Desserts were simple but good -- ice cream with berries or with brownies and chocolate sauce, and snow-cones. They also have popcorn, bottled water and Coca-Cola products for sale. Prices were reasonable.)

We were just in time for the pre-show program, featuring singing, clogging, the two-step (cast members came out to the audience to teach the two-step to volunteers), and the can-can (which embarrassed our four-year-old a bit).

The cast carries a heavy load -- a 30-minute pre-show, followed by a three-hour long performance, with only a short 15-minute intermission. One of my favorite numbers, "It's a Scandal, It's an Outrage," was cut, probably because of the length of the show. I'm pretty sure the first time I saw it performed was at Discoveryland in the '70s, as it wasn't included in the Gordon MacRae / Shirley Jones movie version. The singing, dancing, and acting was all very well done. The leads have beautiful voices, as do the supporting cast members. The baritone who played Jud Fry not only had a rich voice but conveyed a menacing undertone that hasn't always been there in other productions. The older gentleman who played Judge Carnes (Ado Annie's father) stole every scene he was in.

One of the very best parts of the show came near the end as most of the lights were off, and you could look up and actually see the stars. There is something special about watching a performance under the stars, listening to the crickets and tree frogs singing in the blackjack oak trees that surround the stage.

I would love to single out cast members by name, but there were no programs available -- a problem with the print shop, my wife heard. Although the evening was thoroughly entertaining and enjoyable, the lack of programs was one of a number of logistical and maintenance problems that need to be addressed.

The seats are comfortable, but the ground beneath is dirt and grass. Granted that it's been raining, and my own yard could use some attention (thanks in large part to the nutgrass that appears to have been introduced in the fill dirt used after our curb and street were rebuilt -- any good suggestions for nutgrass control?), but I don't expect to see a huge dandelion and a big stalk of johnson grass under the seat in front of me. It was also difficult to find a flat-enough place to set down a bottle of pop or a box of popcorn where it wouldn't spill.

There were problems with the sound system: distracting feedback when certain cast members spoke or sang, and at times what should have been background crowd chatter drowned out the main dialogue.

According to my wife, the ladies' restrooms were fine. To Discoveryland's credit, they converted one of the original two men's rooms into an additional ladies' room, so there's a 3-to-1 female to male restroom ratio.

The men's room, however, had a hole in the drywall where the door handle hit it (no doorstop), a floor drain that appeared to be rusted-out, a jammed paper towel dispenser (had to pull non-perforated towels off a free-standing roll; tricky with wet hands), no toilet paper dispensers, and a bit of drywall cut away in one of the stalls. There were no low urinals (for people my four-year-old's height); the soap dispenser was far too high as well. Worst of all, the urinals were too close together, which slowed down the line as people hesitated or deferred rather than squeeze in shoulder-to-shoulder.

I note all this not to condemn the folks who run Discoveryland, who no doubt are doing the best they can to maintain a 35-year-old facility and put on a high-quality nightly performance during a tough economy.

I wonder, though, about Discoveryland's invisibility to Tulsa County's decision-makers. Here is an attraction that last year drew visitors from all 50 states and 57 foreign countries, an attraction that capitalizes on one of the most widespread and positive associations people around the world have with the state of Oklahoma. Hundreds of millions in Tulsa County taxpayer dollars have been spent on attractions that are supposed to bring in visitors to spend money, and yet no one thought to put a tiny fraction of that money toward maintaining and improving an attraction that already draws visitors from around the world.

We have a great aquarium and air and space museum and zoo, although there are better examples of each in other parts of the country. Other cities get the same acts that play the BOK Center, and other cities have minor league hockey, arena football, and basketball. But there's nowhere else you can see Oklahoma! in Oklahoma, under the stars, with a professional cast. Why not ensure that visitors from around the world get a proper "Oklahoma hello," with a facility that matches the quality of the performance on stage?

There's a chunk of Vision 2025 money -- $2 million -- that was supposed to go for infrastructure for an American Indian Cultural Center that would have been located on River Parks land on Turkey Mountain west of the river in Tulsa. Nearly seven years after the money was approved, it doesn't appear that any progress has been made toward making the AICC a reality.

A small fraction of the AICC funding could give Discoveryland a major facelift -- new sound system, new restrooms, seating area improvements. With a bit more you could add a year-round exhibit on the history of the musical, the play on which it was based, the historical and cultural setting (Indian Territory just before statehood), the careers of Lynn Riggs, Richard Rodgers, and Oscar Hammerstein, and the history of Discoveryland itself, thus truly fulfilling Discoveryland's designation as the "National Home of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Oklahoma!"

But, you object, Discoveryland is a for-profit business, and it would be improper to use tax dollars to subsidize a private businesses. We've already used Vision 2025 money to subsidize American Airlines and downtown housing development by three for-profit private developers, not to mention the ongoing and massive indirect subsidy to for-profit concert promoters and for-profit sports franchises known as the BOK Center.

Oklahoma's best hope for attracting visitors is to take the uniquely Oklahoman aspects of our history, culture, climate, and topography, and turn them into places that visitors can, well, visit.

I'll repeat something I submitted to Mayor Bill LaFortune's visit summit back in 2002, something I've been harping on since the Convention and Tourism Task Force in 1999:

Tulsa's unique qualities -- call them distinctives or idiosyncracies -- how can we raise awareness and pride locally and use this as an asset in our dealings with the rest of the world? I get the impression than some civic leaders are embarassed by our oil heritage, our Cowboy and Indian roots, and the strength of religious belief here -- so our tourist brochures trumpet the ballet and Philbrook and Utica Square, and downplay things like western swing music, the gun museum in Claremore, and ORU. When a German tourist comes to Oklahoma, he doesn't want to see the opera, he wants to see oil wells, tipis, old Route 66 motels, and tornadoes. Some adolescents go through a phase when their greatest longing is to be just like everyone else. If we're going to set ourselves apart, we have to stop trying to blend in as a modern city like every other, stop treating our quirky folkways as things to be suppressed and hidden, and celebrate them instead. It's nice to have the same cultural amenities as every other large city, but it's the unique qualities that will win the affections of our own people and capture the imaginations of the rest of the world.

We have this great gift -- a groundbreaking Broadway musical, packed with unforgettable tunes, choreography, and characters, and it's named after our state (although it nearly wasn't). Let's make the most of it.


Discoveryland website
Wikipedia entry for Oklahoma!
Musicals 101: A good summary of Oklahoma!'s "firsts"

UPDATE 2010/07/22:

Liz Beall Eubanks writes with some perspective:

The owner of Discoveryland, William Jeffers, uses the profits to fund his Christian camp that ministers to primarily Indian children. It's on DL's property, way back in there. He lives pretty meagerly and probably does not want to take anything away from his ministry to pour into DL. It's a hard call. I doubt the gov't would want any tax dollars to be used to further a Christian camp and I also doubt Mr. Jeffers wants any tax money with strings attached.

The Randy Brogdon for Governor campaign is calling on supporters to volunteer their time on Saturday morning, July 10, 2010, to get his message out to voters in Tulsa-area neighborhoods. There are only 17 days left until the July 27 primary election.

Where: Meet at 4444 E. 66th, Suite 100E, Tulsa OK
When: Saturday, July 10, 2010, 7:30 am to 1:00 pm

Stop in any time during the above hours to pick up the materials and information you need. Donuts, coffee, and yard signs will be available from opening until they run out. (Early bird gets the donut.)

There's the information; here's some motivation:

One of the sad realities of political fundraising is that biggest checks are almost always given out of direct financial self-interest. If an elected official has the power to make decisions that will either add or subtract millions from your company's bottom line, a $5,000 check is a worthwhile investment. If a candidate for that post has indicated a willingness to give you a special seat at the table in exchange (it is strongly implied) for campaign funds, writing that check is a no-brainer.

A CEO is not going to be as excited about writing a big check for a candidate who expressly promises to reduce government's power to shape the economy and who rules out making special deals that benefit a favored few at the expense of the general taxpayer. It's a classic case of concentrated benefit, diffuse cost: Those who will receive the concentrated benefit will invest resources to secure it; those who will bear a diffuse share of the cost won't be as strongly motivated to invest resources to oppose it.

In this year's election, that dynamic favors the kind of candidate who holds a special summit for "stakeholders" -- lobbyists and special interest groups -- and it works against a candidate like Randy Brogdon, who has a history of opposing special deals for special interests.

Now, there are more ordinary people who bear a share of the costs of these concentrated benefits than there are those who enjoy them. We can out-give them and out-work them. We can out-vote them, too, but most taxpayers are blissfully unaware of what's being done to them in the name of "economic development" and "public-private partnerships." Most voters don't understand this fundamental difference in philosophy between the two leading contenders for the Republican nomination for Governor.

There's another dynamic that has to be overcome: The bystander effect. When help is needed, the more people available who might help, the less likely it is that any of them (or enough of them) will:

[A] major obstacle to intervention is known as diffusion of responsibility. This occurs when observers all assume that someone else is going to intervene and so each individual feels less responsible and refrains from doing anything.

With the demands of work, home, and family, and the understandable desire to relax and enjoy the summer, it's easy to hope that other people will carry the burden of helping your favorite candidate win the election.

But it's not going to happen. That hope assumes that the campaign is near the point of having enough volunteers and enough money to get their message to the voters. A statewide, grassroots campaign is ALWAYS going to need more volunteers and more money.

If you want to see Randy Brogdon on the ballot in November, you need to give your money and your time now. No one else is going to make up for what you can give.

Randy Brogdon has been a resolute, uncompromising friend of Oklahoma's taxpayers. He's the primary sponsor and advocate for the Taxpayer Bill of Rights. (We'd be so much better off during this tough economy if TABOR had passed, and we had restrained state spending during the good times.) He was one of the few politicians willing to take a stand in opposition to the 2007 Tulsa County sales tax increase for river projects.

Randy Brogdon has been standing up for our interests at the State Capitol. If you appreciate his work, if you want to him to be Oklahoma's Governor, now is the time to stand up for him.

First of all, many thanks to Gene Kaefer and Will Buthod, who responded to my question (Voters' guide? What's it worth to you?) with an affirmative response. Thanks to their generous gifts, I was able to sign up as a premium member of Rasmussen Reports. Their gifts were enough to pay for three months access; one more, and I'll be able to keep the membership through Election Day. A premium membership gives me access to the "crosstabs" of Rasmussen's recently released poll of Oklahoma voters, which show how subgroups of the sample of likely voters responded to each question. There are some interesting details in there that don't show up in the publicly-released "top line" numbers; I hope to have some analysis posted for you in the next couple of days.

Before I begin getting into my thoughts on each race, here's a rundown of the races that every Oklahoma Republican will see on the July 27, 2010, ballot, with the name of each candidate, hometown, age, website, and Twitter account. (The Tulsa County Election Board has sample ballots in PDF format; use the table to find the ballot for your party registration and precinct number.) The order below is the order in which the candidates appear on ballot style 52, which covers much of Tulsa County:

Randy BrogdonOwasso56randybrogdon.com@randybrogdon
Roger L. JacksonOklahoma City59jacksonforokgov.com@jacksonforokgov
Mary FallinEdmond55maryfallin.com@maryfallin
Robert HubbardYukon65hubbardokgov2010.com@HubbardOKGov10

Bernie AdlerOklahoma City78bernieadlerforltgov.net
John A. WrightBroken Arrow55movingoklahomaforward.com@johnwright2010
Todd LambEdmond38votetoddlamb.com@VoteToddLamb
Paul F. NosakTulsa39
Bill CrozierHinton63

Gary JonesCache55jonesauditor.com@jonesauditor
David HanigarEdmond66hanigarforauditor.com

Ryan LeonardOklahoma City38ryanleonard2010.com@Ryanleonard2010
Scott PruittBroken Arrow42scottpruitt.com@ScottPruittOK

State TreasurerTownAgeWebsiteTwitter
Ken MillerEdmond43kenmillerfortreasurer.com@ken4treasurer
Owen LaughlinEdmond59voteowenlaughlin.com@OwenLaughlin

Superintendent of
Public Instruction
Janet BarresiNorman58janetbarresi.com@janetbarresi
Brian S. KellyEdmond46

of Labor
Mark CostelloEdmond54markcostelloforlabor.com@costello4labor
Jason ReeseOklahoma City31reeseforlabor.com@ReeseforLabor

John P. CrawfordOklahoma City78johncrawford.us
John DoakTulsa47votefordoak.com
Mark CroucherJenks52croucher2010.com

Tod YeagerDel City54todyeager.com
Dana MurphyEdmond50danamurphy.com@danamurphy2010

U. S. SenatorTownAgeWebsiteTwitter
Evelyn L. RogersTulsa57evelyn-rogers.org
Lewis Kelly SpringHugo62springforussenate.com
Tom CoburnMuskogee62coburnforsenate.com@CoburnForSenate

U. S. Rep. Dist. 1TownAgeWebsiteTwitter
John SullivanTulsa45johnsullivanforcongress.com@Team Sullivan
Patrick K. HaworthTulsa41haworthforcongress.com@PatrickHaworth
Kenneth RiceTulsa44kennethrice2010.com@Rice4Congress
Fran MoghaddamTulsa68franforfreedom.com@fran4freedom
Nathan DahmTulsa27nathandahm.com@NathanDahm2010
Craig AllenTulsa51craigallenforcongress.com

Tulsa County AssessorTownAgeWebsiteTwitter
Cheryl ClayBixby66cherylclay.com
Ken YazelTulsa65kenyazel.com

Tulsa County TreasurerTownAgeWebsiteTwitter
Ruth HartjeBixby47ruthhartje.com@ruthhartje
Dennis SemlerTulsa53

Tulsa County Commission Dist. 1TownAgeWebsiteTwitter
Tracey WilsonSperry50
John SmaligoTulsa34

Tulsa County Commission, Dist. 3TownAgeWebsiteTwitter
Drew ReesTulsa41drew-rees.com
Michael MastersBixby30michaeltmasters.com@MastersDist3
Fred PerryBroken Arrow70reelectfredperry.com

Judge, District 14, Office 3TownAgeWebsiteTwitter
Mark A. ZannottiTulsa48
James M. CaputoOwasso51
Clancy SmithTulsa67

UPDATE: Earlier this month, Clancy Smith was appointed to the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals. While her name will appear on the ballot, she is no longer a candidate for re-election to the District Court.

Judge, District 14, Office 13TownAgeWebsiteTwitter
Carl FunderburkTulsa52judgecarlfunderburk.com
Bill MussemanBroken Arrow38
C. W. Daimon JacobsTulsa63
Caroline WallTulsa46wall4judge.com
Theresa DreilingTulsa68@JudgeDreiling

UPDATED 2010/07/23 with Tulsa County races.

MORE: Information on early voting and my primary picks are here.

An e-mail from a friend called my attention to this widely-circulated 2006 essay by Canadian blogger Paul E. Marek: "Why the Peaceful Majority Is Irrelevant." The title refers to the supposition that most Muslims are peace-loving, in contrast to the radicals who call for jihad against the West. Marek counters the idea by citing numerous examples from history where a peace-loving majority in a nation failed to stop a violent and radical minority from imprisoning and murdering millions.

The essay opens with Marek recalling a conversation with a German of noble birth:

"Very few people were true Nazis" he said, "but, many enjoyed the return of German pride, and many more were too busy to care. I was one of those who just thought the Nazis were a bunch of fools. So, the majority just sat back and let it all happen. Then, before we knew it, they owned us, and we had lost control, and the end of the world had come. My family lost everything. I ended up in a concentration camp and the Allies destroyed my factories."...

We are told again and again by "experts" and "talking heads" that Islam is the religion of peace, and that the vast majority of Muslims just want to live in peace. Although this unquantified assertion may be true, it is entirely irrelevant. It is meaningless fluff, meant to make us feel better, and meant to somehow diminish the specter of fanatics rampaging across the globe in the name of Islam. The fact is, that the fanatics rule Islam at this moment in history....

History lessons are often incredibly simple and blunt, yet for all our powers of reason we often miss the most basic and uncomplicated of points. Peace-loving Muslims have been made irrelevant by the fanatics. Peace-loving Muslims have been made irrelevant by their silence. Peace-loving Muslims will become our enemy if they don't speak up, because like my friend from Germany, they will awake one day and find that the fanatics own them, and the end of their world will have begun. Peace-loving Germans, Japanese, Chinese, Russians, Rwandans, Bosnians, Afghans, Iraqis, Palestinians, Somalis, Nigerians, Algerians, and many others, have died because the peaceful majority did not speak up until it was too late. As for us who watch it all unfold, we must pay attention to the only group that counts; the fanatics who threaten our way of life.

I encourage you to read Marek's entire essay. Regular BatesLine readers will recall what happened in Tulsa to a peace-loving Muslim named Jamal Miftah after he published an op-ed column denouncing terrorism in the name of Islam.

In 2009, Marek wrote a second essay, expanding on the theme: Why the Peaceful Majority Might Be Dangerous. He tells the story of two Canadian Muslim young women who, though raised in the west, opted for the strictures of sharia:

Both Hardi and Mubarka present us with a perplexing conundrum because they are members of what has become known as the "peaceful" Muslim majority. They don't have a violent bone in their bodies, and are clearly law abiding and productive members of Canadian society. But, they are also both part of a very small minority within Canada where they and their fellow Muslims have very little effect on Canadian politics or on the evolution of Canadian cultural norms. What if though, Hardi and Mubarka were part of a Muslim majority where they and their co-religionists held the power?

Both women are Muslims first and Canadians second. No matter how much respect one may have for either woman's character, there is little doubt where either would place her loyalty if faced with choosing between the Canadian traditions of liberty for all, or Sharia. There is also little doubt that if they were part of a majority, they would acquiesce to the demands of the Muslim clerical class and choose Sharia for all Canadians.

It is therefore irrelevant in the grand scheme of things whether or not Hardi or Mubarka are "good" people; most people on the planet are, no matter their religion, race, or culture. What matters in the greater sense, is that as parts of the Muslim collective, neither woman would set aside her Muslim beliefs in order to safeguard and protect the full rights of non-Muslims to live as they choose. What's even more disturbing, is that both women have experienced the gender freedoms afforded them in Canada, yet both have voluntarily resigned themselves to the greater Muslim collective.

As long as each woman is part of a small minority within Canada, she offers Canada much; but once she becomes part of a significant minority, or heaven forbid, a majority, she becomes dangerous. Why? Because Muslims wherever they form a majority choose Islamic norms over the broader more tolerant standards of the West. If given a chance, as has been clearly demonstrated the world over, they would unravel hundreds of years of hard fought human rights gains and replace them with the medieval practices of their faith. As such, both Hardi and Mubarka are simply bit players in a monstrous and destructive Muslim vortex that would drag civilization backwards hundreds of years.

You know a candidate is dodging debates when the mainstream media finally takes notice. From an Associated Press story:

But one of the campaign's front-runners has been conspicuously absent from a series of recent high-profile forums sponsored by The Oklahoma Academy.

U.S. Rep. Mary Fallin, the presumptive favorite in the four-candidate race for the Republican nomination for governor, has skipped each of four gubernatorial forums sponsored by the nonpartisan policy group, including one on Wednesday where her absence was noted by one of two Democrats seeking their party's nomination.

"You deserve to have the candidates come before you and answer your questions," Democratic Attorney General Drew Edmondson told a crowd of more than 150 students, voters and campaign workers during the forum at Lawton's Cameron University.

If Mary Fallin can't stand up to questions, if her ideas can't stand up to scrutiny in the primary, how will she manage to prevail in November over a tough Democratic opponent with a legendary political name.

Fallin skipped another event tonight, the Tulsa Tea Party Congress, sponsored by the USA Patriots. By my count, at least 400 people were in the main hall at Tulsa Technology Center's Lemley Campus, with more milling around the candidate booths in the corridor. It was a very well organized event. Although it ran more than two hours, the audience was attentive, and nearly everyone stayed until the very last speaker.

Fallin was one of the few serious statewide candidates not in attendance. U. S. Sen. Tom Coburn was first to speak, followed by U. S. Rep. John Sullivan, along with two of his primary opponents, Patrick Haworth and Fran Moghaddam. Candidates for county office and state legislature spoke -- incumbents and challengers alike. For most of the statewide races, at least two candidates were in attendance: John Wright and Todd Lamb for Lt. Gov., Ryan Leonard and Scott Pruitt for Attorney General, Owen Laughlin and Ken Miller for State Treasurer, Jason Reese and Mark Costello (represented by his daughter) for Labor Commissioner. In other races, the front-runner was in the room: Corporation Commissioner Dana Murphy, Gary Jones for State Auditor, Janet Barresi for State Superintendent, John Doak for Insurance Commissioner

The only candidate for Governor to appear was Randy Brogdon, who received one of two standing ovations of the evening (Coburn received the other).

According to Cris Kurtz, one of the organizers, all candidates (of any party, although only Republicans chose to participate) were invited. A candidate had to register and pay a fee in a timely fashion in order to speak and have a booth; the fees were to cover the cost of renting the facility. I can't imagine why a Republican would stay away from this gathering of engaged, passionate voters.

Actually, I can imagine: Fallin may feel she has to avoid head-to-head comparisons between herself and Brogdon to hold on to her lead and win the primary. Brogdon comes across as knowledgeable, passionate, positive, and personable. Fallin seems distant, detached, almost robotic at times.

What's Fallin doing instead of attending a gathering of grassroots activists? She's preparing for a big meetup tomorrow morning with lobbyists, PACs, and special interest groups. According to a Brogdon campaign press release:

Promising that they "will play a vital role in moving Oklahoma forward next year," Mary Fallin has invited lobbyists, Political Action Committees, special interest groups, and their checkbooks, to an audience before her.

Fallin's lobbyist summit will take place 10:00 AM Wednesday, July 7th at the offices of the Oklahoma Dental Association. The invitation, signed by Fallin's Campaign Manager, called lobbyists and PAC's "stakeholders in the process."

Having already collected hundreds of thousands from special interests, the Fallin for Governor Campaign seems to be dropping any pretense. Openly declaring they are the campaign catering to special interests.

No indication was given as to why lobbyists and special interest groups deserve to play so vital a role in Oklahoma's future. Mary Fallin also failed to clarify whether lobbyist's status as "stakeholder" is intrinsic, a right given by God, or if it is conditional, requiring the purchase of a "stake."

The term stakeholder, as traditionally used in the English language in law and notably gambling describes: a third party who temporarily holds money or property while its owner is still being determined.

Does Representative Fallin intend for these invited special interests to hold money or property while state government and its citizens struggle over the right of possession?

Of course, in government the term "stakeholder" refers to: only those who benefit from, or seek influence over, government activities. That certainly describes a lobbyist.

Tomorrow, lobbyists from around the country will descend on Oklahoma City, sit in the presence on the presumptive Governor and find out for themselves - the price of a "stake."

If Mary Fallin is Governor it is pretty clear who will be running the state!

We've had to fight against special interests influencing Republican local officials, trying to raise our taxes and cut special deals. Thanks to his tax problems, we were able to dump Lance Cargill before he could do too much damage to the Republican brand, with accusations of a pay-to-play operation being run out of the Speaker's office.

A state government run by the lobbyists and special interests is no better with Republicans in charge than with Democrats. As a matter of fact, it's worse, because Republicans ought to know better than to sacrifice the general welfare of the people they were elected to serve in favor of the interests of a favored few.

We're still waiting to see the actual text of the charter amendments proposed by the Tulsa City Council Election Reform Task Force, led by Councilor G. T. Bynum.

In the meantime, the Tulsa Whirled's Janet Pearson used her Sunday, July 4, 2010, column to renew the call for the Whirled's favorite reform idea: at-large councilors.

In 2005, a group called Tulsans for Better Government circulated an initiative petition for a charter change to reduce the number of City Council districts from 9 to 6 and adding three councilors who would be elected citywide. The obvious result (and apparent intention of the idea's supporters) would be to dilute geographical representation in city government and to give a greater voice to those with the money to fund a citywide race.

A grassroots group called Tulsans Defending Democracy, made up of Tulsans across the ideological spectrum and from around the city, emerged to oppose the TBG proposal. If you want to go into depth on the pros and cons of at-large council representation, you'll find plenty of information at the TDD website, including the report of the Citizens' Commission on City Government. The commission, convened by then-Mayor Bill LaFortune, emphatically rejected the at-large concept.

Pearson continues to try to sell the line that city council disputes are caused by councilors selfishly pushing for their wards' interests over the interests of the city as a whole. In reality, the current debate is over a citywide issue, just as the disputes of 2004 and 2005 were. Back then the debates had to do with land use and suburban development and Great Plains Airlines; today the dispute has to do with budget cuts and public safety unions. Ward politics has nothing to do with it.

More later.

As is usual about three weeks before an election, I've received several requests for a voters' guide. Already voters who plan to be out of town are getting ready to cast an absentee ballot, and there are a lot of competitive races and unfamiliar names on the Republican primary ballot. Even before I had a blog, it was common for friends to ask my opinion in the run-up to election day.

I'm happy to be of service, and I'm honored by the trust BatesLine readers place in my judgment. But it takes time to do the research (although I'd be doing some of it anyway, for my own use in voting) and to turn that research into writing. My family and my employer have dibs on my time, and it seems my free time is quickly eaten up with yard work and laundry, and I'm behind on both. There's money invested, too, in hosting and domain fees, and there's often some expense in doing research.

So before I invest that time in gathering and presenting this information to you, let me ask you, dear reader. What's it worth to you?

If the information you get here on BatesLine, particularly during election season, is valuable to you, there are some tangible ways to show your support:

The first way is to hit the PayPal tip jar over on the right sidebar. You can use your PayPal account or a major credit card to make a contribution to BatesLine. I don't have any totebags to send you in return, but I'll publish your name and donation amount on a list of contributors which will be prominently linked through election season (unless you ask me to withhold either name or amount).

The second way is to buy an ad on BatesLine. BatesLine readership is always at its highest in the run-up to an election, so it's a great time for a candidate (or any business that wants the attention of politically active Oklahomans) to run an ad. Even if you're not a candidate, you could still run an ad in support of your favorite candidate. (You're responsible for reporting it as an in-kind donation to the campaign.) Ads start as low as $30 a week for a text-only spot, $50 a week for a small ad with text and an image. There are discounts for multiple weeks.

Finally, if you need a good webhosting company, click the ad for bluehost. I get a small commission for new clients who sign up via my link. I've used bluehost for years, and I highly recommend their service.

It's tempting to pull a Gene Scott here and threaten to withhold my opinions until you people GIT ONNA PHONES and demonstrate the value of the teaching.

But I won't. I'll be forming my own opinions one way or the other, and you can be sure I'll share them with you between now and the primary. If you're smart, you, your company, or your candidate will be taking the opportunity to gain visibility with the thousands of Oklahoma voters who'll be dropping by.

(NOTE: I reserve the right to reject ads or contributions. Reasons for rejection may be arbitrary or capricious but more likely will be so I can avoid posting something on my blog that advocates for a cause or a candidate that's anathema to me.)

White Castle employees, whose insurance is almost fully paid by their employer:

The Columbus-based family owned restaurant chain - known for serving small square hamburgers called "sliders" - says a single provision in the bill will eat up roughly 55 percent of its yearly net income after 2014.

Starting that year, the bill levies a $3,000-per-employee penalty on companies whose workers pay more than 9.5 percent of household income in premiums for company-provided insurance.

White Castle, which currently provides insurance to all of its full-time workers and picks up 70 to 89 percent of their premium costs, believes it will likely end up paying those penalties. The financial hit will make it hard for the company to maintain its 421 restaurants, let alone create new jobs, says company spokesman Jamie Richardson. White Castle employs more than 10,000 people nationwide, and more than 1,200 in Ohio.

Julie R. Neidlinger, who has been paying for her own high-deductible insurance; Obamacare is forcing her premiums up:

Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is the official name of the new healthcare reform bill, which is laughable when considering the last half of the title. The best analogy I can come up with in regards to Congress's attempt to make certain everyone had health insurance is preserving a glass menagerie by loosening the corners of the shelves and then adding more weight on top of them....

[To her elected representatives:] Thank you for your excellent work on passing the healthcare reform. Thanks to the new laws, my health insurance has been restructured and now costs $40 more per month. This means I can't afford it and will now, for the first time in a decade of paying for my own health insurance, have to drop health insurance and be uninsured. I understand there's even the possibility of being penalized for not having insurance. Thank you for covering all the bases! This is a fabulous Catch 22 you've provided for your constituents.

The good news: 60% of American voters favor repeal of Obamacare.

The bad news (from the same poll): Voters are skeptical that repeal will actually happen:

Part of the doubt about the likelihood of repeal may come from the fact that Democrats could still control Congress after November. Part of it also may come from skepticism that Republicans would be any different. Recent polling showed that just 42% think there would be a noticeable change if Republicans win control of Congress. Republican voters overwhelmingly believe that their party's representatives in Washington are out of touch with the party base. Just 21% believe that Republican officeholders have done a good job representing Republican values.

A blessed Independence Day to everyone. When the 4th of July falls on a Sunday, it's a rare opportunity to gather in our churches on our nation's birthday and give thanks for the blessings of liberty for which our forefathers fought and died. Not that we should worship or idolize our country with its imperfections, but we ought to acknowledge that America is uniquely blessed and that God has used America to bless people all over the world. As John Adams wrote to his wife Abigail following the approval of the Continental Congress of a resolution to declare independence:

I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more.

You will think me transported with Enthusiasm but I am not. -- I am well aware of the Toil and Blood and Treasure, that it will cost Us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. -- Yet through all the Gloom I can see the Rays of ravishing Light and Glory. I can see that the End is more than worth all the Means. And that Posterity will tryumph in that Days Transaction, even altho We should rue it, which I trust in God We shall not.

Sadly, the occasion was scarcely acknowledged at our church this morning. Given what the music director later posted as his Facebook status, I shouldn't be surprised: "i cannot in good conscience sing or talk about what a wonderful country this is." What accounts for that kind of disdain, all too common among younger Americans? Perhaps the decline of civics education, as noted by The Anchoress, Elizabeth Scalia, in her Independence Day entry, which is accompanied by a Jay Leno "Jaywalking" segment asking random people on the street about the Revolutionary War:

Civics class taught you things like: when, how and why America was formed. What the Declaration of Independence was; what the Constitution said, and the origination of the Bill of Rights. We learned about Federalism, the separation of powers, the structure of our government and why it was thusly formed. Our history classes taught us about Minutemen, Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Dolly and James Madison, Marbury vs. Madison, Slavery, the Underground Railroad, the Civil War, the Gettysburg Address, the Emancipation Proclamation, the Industrial Revolution and so forth. We learned the history of Europe, too, but American history had primacy....

45 years ago, we did not spend on education anything near what we spend, now. But as we see here, the people who were educated in the bad-old unenlightened, uncoddled days of rote memorization and unforgiving tests can actually answer a simple question like, "how many colonies were there, at the founding of the United States?"

Watch this; it's depressing, and it makes one wonder if our kids are purposely being shortchanged in schools.

Perhaps if you want to control a country's future, you must first insure that its citizenry are ignorant of its past, and distracted by its present.

Note that, at the end of the Jay Leno video, after a dad, a mom, and a teenage boy display their ignorance about the founding of our nation, the grandfather ticks off the correct answers without hesitation. I imagine he had a few years of civics in school.

And I'd bet that most legal immigrants to the US would fare better answering Leno's questions. They're required to answer a series of civics questions as part of the U. S. citizenship exam.

Daniel Hannan, a Conservative Member of the European Parliament from the United Kingdom, wishes the US a Happy Independence Day and writes of the inspiration he draws from the principles of the American Revolution, which, he argues, belong to the UK as well:

They saw themselves, not as revolutionaries, but as conservatives. All they were asking for, in their own minds, was the rights which they had always assumed to be theirs as freeborn Englishmen....

Thomas Jefferson, whose bust stares at me as I write this blog, had wanted to include a touching phrase in the Declaration, but his fellow authors excised it: "We might have been a great and free people together". Indeed. Everything I have done in politics has been an attempt to apply Jeffersonian principles to British political conditions. Decisions should be taken as closely as possible to those they affect, and decision-makers made accountable through the ballot box. Everything else - autonomous local councils, referendums, recall procedures, tax cuts, withdrawal from the EU, elected sheriffs, the Great Repeal Bill - follows from those two simple precepts.

It is time to bring back to the mother country the ideology that inspired the most sublime constitution devised by human intelligence. It is time, in short, to repatriate our revolution.

Given the extent to which Britain has subjugated itself to the European Union and has abridged its own citizens' rights (such as the right for law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms), the USA serves the cause of British liberty by keeping the "rights of freeborn Englishmen" alive somewhere in the world.

R. C. Sproul, writing in 2008, recalled asking Francis Schaeffer what was the greatest threat to the church in America. Schaeffer's one word answer: "Statism."

Schaeffer's biggest concern at that point in his life was that the citizens of the United States were beginning to invest their country with supreme authority, such that the free nation of America would become one that would be dominated by a philosophy of the supremacy of the state.

In statism, we see the suffix "ism," which indicates a philosophy or worldview. A decline from statehood to statism happens when the government is perceived as or claims to be the ultimate reality. This reality then replaces God as the supreme entity upon which human existence depends....

Throughout the history of the Christian church, Christianity has always stood over against all forms of statism. Statism is the natural and ultimate enemy to Christianity because it involves a usurpation of the reign of God. If Francis Schaeffer was right -- and each year that passes makes his prognosis seem all the more accurate -- it means that the church and the nation face a serious crisis in our day. In the final analysis, if statism prevails in America, it will mean not only the death of our religious freedom, but also the death of the state itself. We face perilous times where Christians and all people need to be vigilant about the rapidly encroaching elevation of the state to supremacy.

What would our Founding Fathers have thought of a President of the United States nominating to the U. S. Supreme Court someone who believes that the State has the power to ban books and pamphlets that contain political advocacy:

[Solicitor General Elena] Kagan conceded that although the statute in question did cover "full length books" it would be subject to "quite good" challenges if it was ever so applied in practice. Moreover, she pointed out that the Federal Election Commission never enforced the law with respect to books, implying that citizens should not worry about being prosecuted. Chief Justice Roberts immediately seized on this, saying "We don't put our First Amendment rights in the hands of FEC bureaucrats." He then asked whether the statute could be used to ban a pamphlet. Such a publication, Kagan admitted, would be different; "a pamphlet is pretty classic electioneering" and could be constitutionally prohibited. She tried to reassure the justices that a book containing hundreds of pages could not be banned just because the last sentence endorsed a candidate, as her deputy had claimed a few months earlier. However, she strongly implied that if the book engaged in "express advocacy" as a whole, it could be banned. Her position would seem to require the FEC to define the differences between books and pamphlets and decide how many sentences in a book are necessary to qualify as "express advocacy." Kagan never addressed whether it was desirable for FEC staffers to become either book reviewers or a de facto national censorship committee. Ultimately, the Court ruled against Kagan by a 5-4 margin.

Finally, Twitter reader @CircleReader posted a link to Frederick Douglass's great 1852 oration, "What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?" While Douglass sharply condemns the political and religious leaders of the day who twisted the principles of the Founders to the end of justifying slavery, the speech as a whole is a reaffirmation of those principles. A few excerpts:

Fellow-citizens, I shall not presume to dwell at length on the associations that cluster about this day. The simple story of it is that, 76 years ago, the people of this country were British subjects. The style and title of your "sovereign people" (in which you now glory) was not then born. You were under the British Crown . Your fathers esteemed the English Government as the home government; and England as the fatherland. This home government, you know, although a considerable distance from your home, did, in the exercise of its parental prerogatives, impose upon its colonial children, such restraints, burdens and limitations, as, in its mature judgment, it deemed wise, right and proper.

But, your fathers, who had not adopted the fashionable idea of this day, of the infallibility of government, and the absolute character of its acts, presumed to differ from the home government in respect to the wisdom and the justice of some of those burdens and restraints. They went so far in their excitement as to pronounce the measures of government unjust, unreasonable, and oppressive, and altogether such as ought not to be quietly submitted to. I scarcely need say, fellow-citizens, that my opinion of those measures fully accords with that of your fathers. Such a declaration of agreement on my part would not be worth much to anybody. It would, certainly, prove nothing, as to what part I might have taken, had I lived during the great controversy of 1776. To say now that America was right, and England wrong, is exceedingly easy. Everybody can say it; the dastard, not less than the noble brave, can flippantly discant on the tyranny of England towards the American Colonies. It is fashionable to do so; but there was a time when to pronounce against England, and in favor of the cause of the colonies, tried men's souls. They who did so were accounted in their day, plotters of mischief, agitators and rebels, dangerous men. To side with the right, against the wrong, with the weak against the strong, and with the oppressed against the oppressor! here lies the merit, and the one which, of all others, seems unfashionable in our day. The cause of liberty may be stabbed by the men who glory in the deeds of your fathers....

Oppression makes a wise man mad. Your fathers were wise men, and if they did not go mad, they became restive under this treatment. They felt themselves the victims of grievous wrongs, wholly incurable in their colonial capacity. With brave men there is always a remedy for oppression. Just here, the idea of a total separation of the colonies from the crown was born! It was a startling idea, much more so, than we, at this distance of time, regard it. The timid and the prudent (as has been intimated) of that day, were, of course, shocked and alarmed by it.

Such people lived then, had lived before, and will, probably, ever have a place on this planet; and their course, in respect to any great change, (no matter how great the good to be attained, or the wrong to be redressed by it), may be calculated with as much precision as can be the course of the stars. They hate all changes, but silver, gold and copper change! Of this sort of change they are always strongly in favor.

These people were called Tories in the days of your fathers; and the appellation, probably, conveyed the same idea that is meant by a more modern, though a somewhat less euphonious term, which we often find in our papers, applied to some of our old politicians.

Their opposition to the then dangerous thought was earnest and powerful; but, amid all their terror and affrighted vociferations against it, the alarming and revolutionary idea moved on, and the country with it....

Pride and patriotism, not less than gratitude, prompt you to celebrate and to hold it in perpetual remembrance. I have said that the Declaration of Independence is the ring-bolt to the chain of your nation's destiny; so, indeed, I regard it. The principles contained in that instrument are saving principles. Stand by those principles, be true to them on all occasions, in all places, against all foes, and at whatever cost.

From the round top of your ship of state, dark and threatening clouds may be seen. Heavy billows, like mountains in the distance, disclose to the leeward huge forms of flinty rocks! That bolt drawn, that chain broken, and all is lost. Cling to this day - cling to it, and to its principles, with the grasp of a storm-tossed mariner to a spar at midnight....

Of the Founders, Douglass said:

They loved their country better than their own private interests; and, though this is not the highest form of human excellence, all will concede that it is a rare virtue, and that when it is exhibited, it ought to command respect. He who will, intelligently, lay down his life for his country, is a man whom it is not in human nature to despise. Your fathers staked their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor, on the cause of their country. In their admiration of liberty, they lost sight of all other interests.

They were peace men; but they preferred revolution to peaceful submission to bondage. They were quiet men; but they did not shrink from agitating against oppression. They showed forbearance; but that they knew its limits. They believed in order; but not in the order of tyranny. With them, nothing was "settled" that was not right. With them, justice, liberty and humanity were "final;" not slavery and oppression. You may well cherish the memory of such men. They were great in their day and generation. Their solid manhood stands out the more as we contrast it with these degenerate times.

How circumspect, exact and proportionate were all their movements! How unlike the politicians of an hour! Their statesmanship looked beyond the passing moment, and stretched away in strength into the distant future. They seized upon eternal principles, and set a glorious example in their defense. Mark them!

Fully appreciating the hardship to be encountered, firmly believing in the right of their cause, honorably inviting the scrutiny of an on-looking world, reverently appealing to heaven to attest their sincerity, soundly comprehending the solemn responsibility they were about to assume, wisely measuring the terrible odds against them, your fathers, the fathers of this republic, did, most deliberately, under the inspiration of a glorious patriotism, and with a sublime faith in the great principles of justice and freedom, lay deep the corner-stone of the national superstructure, which has risen and still rises in grandeur around you.

To the argument that the Constitution justifies slavery, Douglass replied:

In that instrument I hold there is neither warrant, license, nor sanction of the hateful thing; but, interpreted as it ought to be interpreted, the Constitution is a GLORIOUS LIBERTY DOCUMENT. Read its preamble, consider its purposes. Is slavery among them? Is it at the gateway? or is it in the temple? It is neither. While I do not intend to argue this question on the present occasion, let me ask, if it be not somewhat singular that, if the Constitution were intended to be, by its framers and adopters, a slave-holding instrument, why neither slavery, slaveholding, nor slave can anywhere be found in it....

Now, take the constitution according to its plain reading, and I defy the presentation of a single pro-slavery clause in it. On the other hand it will be found to contain principles and purposes, entirely hostile to the existence of slavery.

His hopeful conclusion -- "the doom of slavery is certain" -- was grounded in Divine Providence and in the growth of international communication and commerce, a thought that should give us in the Internet Age even more hope for the defeat of oppression everywhere:

No nation can now shut itself up from the surrounding world, and trot round in the same old path of its fathers without interference. The time was when such could be done. Long established customs of hurtful character could formerly fence themselves in, and do their evil work with social impunity. Knowledge was then confined and enjoyed by the privileged few, and the multitude walked on in mental darkness. But a change has now come over the affairs of mankind. Walled cities and empires have become unfashionable. The arm of commerce has borne away the gates of the strong city. Intelligence is penetrating the darkest corners of the globe. It makes its pathway over and under the sea, as well as on the earth. Wind, steam, and lightning are its chartered agents. Oceans no longer divide, but link nations together. From Boston to London is now a holiday excursion. Space is comparatively annihilated. Thoughts expressed on one side of the Atlantic are, distinctly heard on the other. The far off and almost fabulous Pacific rolls in grandeur at our feet. The Celestial Empire, the mystery of ages, is being solved. The fiat of the Almighty, "Let there be Light," has not yet spent its force. No abuse, no outrage whether in taste, sport or avarice, can now hide itself from the all-pervading light.

A happy Independence Day to you and yours.

MORE: @AtlasObscura treats us to a plethory of Independence Day links, including one to the Declaration of Independence itself, urging us to "take a minute today to read the whole thing & realize how amazing & unlikely it is." And Terry Teachout provides us with four different performances of "the best of all possible marches" -- "The Stars and Stripes Forever" -- including a performance introduced by the composer, John Philip Sousa, and performed by his band.

Last night (July 1, 2010), the Tulsa City Council postponed consideration of three proposed charter amendments involving the city election process.

Following the meeting, District 9 City Councilor G. T. Bynum was kind enough to send me some background information on the proposed amendments, including a link to the page on the tulsacouncil.org website with information on the Election Reform Task Force and its recommendations. The task force materials include research by council staff on election practices regarding independent candidates in other cities. I sent him seven questions in reply, and he answered those as well. Here (with his permission) is his first email to me:


Regarding the charter amendments that weren't posted online, as soon as Councilor Eagleton brought that to my attention I agreed we should delay two weeks to allow for public review. It was my understanding that they had been posted, but clearly not.

All of the documents compiled during the task force (including the final findings) can be found on the Council website here: http://www.tulsacouncil.org/research--policy/resources/other-reports.aspx

The intent of the amendments - and these come from the task force's work over a couple of months, not from my invention - is to make the election system more equitable between partisan and independent candidates: to allow for the same filing requirements (either signatures or filing fees for either group), the same primary system, and the same run-off system (also proposed in the amendments).

I do think it is important to note that representatives of both the Republican and Democrat County parties were present and offered insight at most of the meetings. Representatives from Tulsans for Better Government spoke and offered their thoughts on nonpartisan elections. This wasn't just a few city councilors sitting around a table shooting the breeze.

I also think, after reading Mike Easterling's story, that it needs to be pointed out that I offered Mark Perkins repeated opportunities to participate and offer his insight from running as an Independent but he declined. Lawrence Kirkpatrick (the other Independent candidate for Mayor in 2009) did accept our invitation and had a great deal of experience to share on Independent candidacies.

Best Regards,


Here are Bynum's responses to my questions. For clarity of presentation, I'm interleaving my questions with his responses:

1. Currently anyone can file as an independent candidate regardless of party registration. Will that still be possible under the proposed amendments?

1. I don't have the election law before me but I can tell you we didn't discuss that topic and none of the proposed changes address that. I'm not certain existing law allows that, as I recall hearing complaints that Mark Perkins (a registered Republican) shouldn't have been allowed to file as an Independent but no one called him on it during the period immediately after filing when challenges can be made.

2. Do the proposed amendments provide for runoffs in general elections or special elections?

2. Only primary elections are addressed.

3. Who raised the concern regarding equity for independent candidates?

3. In our discussion with Independent Mayoral candidates (where Mr. Kirkpatrick showed up and Mr. Perkins declined the invite), Mr. Kirkpatrick made a strong case for allowing Independent candidates to pay a filing fee just like partisan candidates. He said he thought a primary for Independents would be fair if the filing requirements were the same for everyone (partisans and Indies). And, if my memory serves correct, some councilors felt that they would prefer to be able to assemble a petition rather than pay a filing fee - that this would open it up (particularly Council races) to more candidates

4. What specific examples of harm to particular candidates have occurred as a result of the current situation -- e.g. someone who intended to run as an independent but was deterred by the petition requirement?

4. No specific instances of harm were raised.

5. You mention representatives of Tulsans for Better Government. Who were the individuals who participated in the task force discussions on behalf of that organization?

5. Reuben Davis spoke on behalf of Tulsans for Better Government. Chris Medlock was there that day representing the GOP at Sally Bell's request. No Democrat Party representative was present, but several Democratic councilors (particularly Councilor Turner) offered their thoughts on the issue.

6. A group called Tulsans Defending Democracy was organized in 2005 to oppose Tulsans for Better Government's proposal for at-large councilors. A few representatives each from TDD and TBG were appointed by Bill LaFortune to his citizens' commission on city government. Were any representatives of TDD invited to participate in the Election Reform Task Force?

6. No. To be honest, I'm embarassed to say this is the first I've heard of TDD (I was in DC when all of that occurred) but did want to balance out TBG, which is why we originally invited both Party chairs. The Party input was very helpful so we ended up inviting them to each subsequent meeting. Mr. Medlock in particular had a lot of knowledge about how races are conducted around the country and historically in Tulsa.

7. Are there minutes or recordings of task force meetings?

7. I know Council staff was there taking notes, and each meeting was posted. I am copying my Council aide, Nick Doctor, who can assist in that regard. Also, League of Women Voters attended every meeting and took notes - not that this would count as minutes but they might have some info that our minutes don't cover.

I still haven't seen the actual amendments. If Bynum's answer to question 1 is accurate, the proposal could bring about non-partisan elections in all but name. The charter allows anyone, regardless of party registration, to run as an independent provided they can put together 300 signatures. Mark Perkins, a registered Republican, did this in 2009. In 1986, under the old City Charter, Patty Eaton, who had filed as a Democrat for reelection as Water and Sewer Commissioner, filed as an independent for Mayor after the primary defeat of incumbent Democrat Terry Young by Tom Quinn.

By allowing a filing fee (really a deposit, refundable if the candidate receives enough votes) in lieu of a petition, more candidates are likely to opt for an independent run, particularly if the proposal for an "independent primary" is not put before or approved by the voters.

Here's the current Tulsa City Charter language:

SECTION 3.2. FILING FOR OFFICE--INDEPENDENT CANDIDATES. Any person who desires to be an independent candidate for a city office shall file with the Election Board of Tulsa County or its successor a Declaration of Candidacy which shall state:

A. The name and residence street address of the person as it appears on the voter registration records; and

B. The name of the office sought.

The Declaration of Candidacy of the independent candidate shall have attached a supporting petition which shall be signed by at least three hundred (300) qualified electors from the city at large if the independent candidate seeks the office of Mayor or City Auditor or from the election district if the independent candidate seeks the office of Councilor from an election district.

There were similar provisions in the 1908 Tulsa City Charter (from the 1917 edition of Compiled Ordinances of Tulsa):

3. In case a primary election is held pursuant to the call or under the direction of any political party, or of any association of individuals for the nomination of candidates for the offices of Mayor and Commissioners and City Auditor, the candidates or persons voted for in said primary election shall be voted for at large by all of the legally qualified voters in said City according to and in the manner now or hereafter provided by the general election law of the State of Oklahoma.

Independent candidates for Mayor or for positions on said Board of Commissioners or for City Auditor shall be entitled to have their names placed on the official ballot to be used in the regular election by filing with the City Auditor, not less than ten days before such election, a written petition therefor , which shall be signed by such candidate and by at least one hundred qualified voters of said city.

(The 1908 charter also provided for a runoff ("second election") if no one received a majority of the vote in the "regular election". If someone has a version of the charter from the 1980s, just before the change, I'd love to have a copy.)

I do find it hard to believe that this push for charter amendments is at the behest of Lawrence Kirkpatrick, a perennial candidate without much of a constituency. The question remains: Who is pushing for this? Why now? Where is the problem that these amendments are supposed to solve?

The investigative report commissioned by the Tulsa City Council regarding Mayor Dewey F. Bartlett Jr. and Chief of Staff Terry Simonson is now online at the tulsacouncil.org website. The investigation concerned statements made by Bartlett Jr and Simonson regarding a particular Federal grant (JAG) that might be used to prevent or reduce the number of police layoffs. The Council forwarded the report to the city prosecutor without recommending for or against prosecution for the misdemeanor of making false statements to the City Council.

I have skimmed the report. I don't know if or when I'll have time to read and analyze this 90-page report in depth. From what I read, my sense is that the new administration was wrestling with the complex terms and conditions of this Federal program to ensure that Tulsa would not be penalized for applying the funds in violation of Federal law.

Compliance with Federal regs is a big deal. Recall that Tulsa was penalized to the tune of $1.5 million in 2008 by the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for the city's failure to supervise Tulsa Development Authority's use of Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds and scolded again by HUD in 2009. In 2004 the U. S. Department of Transportation's Inspector General labeled the plan to use passenger service fees to cover, indirectly, the default of Great Plains Airlines as a "misuse of airport funds". In a separate report, the DOT OIG also "found instances where the Tulsa Airport Authority's procurements of professional services, which were funded by the Airport Improvement Program, did not adhere to FAA's required competitive-selection procedures... conflicts of interest on the part of former authority officials, poor recordkeeping by the authority."

Thinking about this in moral, rather than legal, terms (because I haven't studied the specific terms of the JAG grant): If the purpose of a Federal grant is to increase the number of police officers, taking the grant and leaving the TPD headcount the same would amount to diverting the grant to fund other city departments, since money is fungible. It would make sense for the Federal grant to come with certain conditions to prevent that sort of misuse.

Deliberate deception by one branch of government of another is a serious matter and ought to result in some sort of penalty. I'm not convinced that that is what occurred in this case, although I am open to persuasion based on the facts presented in this report.

Lest anyone think I'm being spun by the Mayor's office or regurgitating their talking points, it should be obvious to long-time BatesLine readers that there's no love lost between me and the Bartlett Jr Administration. I've not been contacted by anyone in the Mayor's Office since Bartlett Jr's inauguration nor have I made any effort to contact anyone in the administration.

On tonight's (Thursday, July 1, 2010) Tulsa City Council agenda are three proposed amendments to the Tulsa City Charter:

8. COUNCIL ITEMS c. Proposed Charter Amendment: Independent candidates will have the same filing requirements as partisan candidates, allowing either a filing fee or a petition with the required number of signatures. (Bynum) [UED 6/29/10] 10-446-7
8. COUNCIL ITEMS d. Proposed Charter Amendment: Adopt the State of Oklahoma's practices for run-off elections, requiring a majority of votes for a primary election victory. (Bynum) [UED 6/29/10] 10-446-8
8. COUNCIL ITEMS e. Proposed Charter Amendment: The City should provide for primary elections for independent candidates, in addition to those held for partisan candidates. (Eagleton) [UED 6/29/10] 10-446-9

I would like to provide you with a detailed analysis of the proposals and the pros and cons of each, but I can't. The text of the proposed amendments is not available on the tulsacouncil.org website. Ordinarily, there's a link next to each agenda item which leads to "backup material," which in this case should be the text of the proposed amendment, the proposed ballot title, and the rationale behind the proposal, but that hasn't been provided, either on tonight's agenda or on last Tuesday's Urban and Economic Development committee agenda, when the items were previously discussed.

All I know of the proposals so far has been relayed to me over the phone. Late last week I spoke to Mike Easterling for his UTW story on the three proposals from G. T. Bynum's Election Reform Task Force. When Mike called, I couldn't talk at length at the moment, but I asked him if he had something in writing that he could forward to me, so that I could look at it before giving him my thoughts. He told me all he knew had been conveyed to him in a phone call.

I'm asking the City Council not to take action on these proposals tonight. The public has not been provided with the text or rationale for the changes. The report of Bynum's task force is not available on the Council website, either.

To borrow a phrase from the Sunlight Foundation, which promotes government transparency, "public equals online." If it's not online, it's not really public. The public should have a chance to read, digest, and comment on these proposals before they're considered for the November ballot.

If the aim is to get charter amendments on the November general election ballot, the City Council has two more months before the 60-day deadline. From what little I've been able to gather about the proposals, they seem half-baked, won't address genuine problems with our current system, and may create additional problems if approved. The problems may be even worse if only one or two of the three ideas are adopted.

We're already dealing with the unintended consequences of an ill-considered charter amendment approved last fall which will require the City of Tulsa to spend the money to develop its own election infrastructure. (Because the three-year staggered terms for councilors will result in fall elections in even-numbered years on dates not authorized by state statute for elections, Tulsa won't be able to use the Tulsa County Election Board's ballot scanners, personnel, and precinct organization.) Let's not rush to put another half-baked idea on the ballot.

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