October 2010 Archives

So the other two volunteers from the Tulsa area had to cancel. The expected number of local Muskogee volunteers didn't materialize. I think there were about 7 by the time all was said and done, including me and my 10-year-old daughter. Only three of us had any of the four pizzas I bought (for the 16 hungry folk that were expected), and we barely cracked the four two-liter bottles of pop. (The awesome homemade peanut butter and chocolate-chip-oatmeal cookies eased the disappointment considerably.)

But it was still a day well worth while. On the ride down, my daughter read through the sample ballot I brought her from the election board. She read through all the state questions and peppered me with questions. We talked about the judicial selection process, the rainy day fund, and sharia law. Along the route I pointed out the TV towers, and we talked about how television signals get from the networks to the local studios to the local stations towers to the cable company to the TV set (and why the Weather Channel doesn't need a tower at all). I pointed out the KTUL tower, still one of the 100 tallest freestanding structures in the world.

At HQ, while waiting for other volunteers to arrive, we heard about the frequent sign vandalism that has plagued the Thompson campaign. Boren's supporters are showing indications of feeling threatened.

(Ever notice how it's always the insurgent, grassroots candidates' signs that get stolen, while the establishment candidates' signs stay put. By the way, someone stole a John Eagleton sign and a Molly McKay sign out of my front yard Thursday night, even though they were well back from the street. A couple of days earlier, I had found that same Eagleton sign flat on the ground.)

I was happy to learn that our efforts were coordinated with the state Republican GOTV effort. We had a "slate card" -- all GOP nominees for the precinct on a door hanger -- and a push card for Charles Thompson, and we had the state party's list of voters to target.

My daughter and I were originally given a sprawling (10 sq mi) suburban precinct to cover. I opted instead for a compact precinct in town, where distances were shorter and the street layout was somewhat Cartesian. Somewhat.

We began by parking and walking two or three blocks in each direction to cover nearby homes. That became irksome to my little girl, whose legs are much shorter and slower than mine. Also, the three pieces of pizza and Pepsi were not sitting well. After a pitstop, we changed methods. I would drive and hop out of the car to deliver flyers; she would mark up the list of houses to visit, advise me of the next place to stop, and hand me the flyers. It sped us up considerably; still, it took us about 4 hours (not counting the break) to cover about 100 households. It would have been quicker if I had known the neighborhood. (I certainly know it now!)

Here's what I learned about navigating the streets of Muskogee.

  • Given a house with number n, the house next door may have house number n+2, n+20, or any value in between.
  • Given a house with number n, the house directly across the street may have house number n+1, n+101, or any value in between.
  • In other words, two house numbers that are numerically near-neighbors may be quite distant.
  • House numbers on a street are not guaranteed to increase or decrease monotonically with a given direction of travel.

And regarding the display of house numbers: Folks, do you want to die while the ambulance driver tries to figure out which house is yours? The house number ought to be prominently near the door of your house, on your curb, and on your mailbox if you have one.

Also, if you care about political candidates and really want to help them campaign effectively, you will UPDATE YOUR VOTER REGISTRATION WITH YOUR CURRENT ADDRESS. Do you want your favorite candidate's volunteers dodging chained pitbulls and risking an ankle to the so-called "steps" -- the wood rot and carpenter ant damage has only left rungs, really -- to try to deliver to you a reminder to vote at the house where you haven't lived for 10 years and which has since passed through the hands of a series of rental owners with decreasing standards for upkeep and tenants and at which no likely voter lives because everyone in the house has a rap sheet as long as your arm? Do you, bub?

I generally left literature at the door, without knocking, but if someone had the front door open or was out in the yard, I'd stop to talk. We and our cause were well received. No one greeted me rudely. Many people volunteered that they had already planned to vote for Thompson and a straight ticket. They want Pelosi and posse gone, and they understand that getting rid of Dan Boren gets us one step closer to that goal. At one home, I was speaking to the lady of the house, when the husband came out. "I just wanted to make sure you wasn't no dam Democrat."

We finished a bit before sunset, turned in our leftover materials, then headed to My Place for barbecue before driving back to Tulsa. We played "I went to the beach and took" to pass the time on the ride home. (Each person in turn adds some oddball object to the list, in alphabetical order, after perfectly reciting the list of all previous items.) Our list: "I went to the beach and took an altimeter, a barometer, a chronometer, a denominator, an elevator, a fraction, a gummy bear, helium filled balloons, iodine, jack o' lanterns, a kilometer, a lamb, a microsecond, a nail, an oscilloscope, a porch light, a quadrangle, a rectangle, a square, a tenacious triangle, an umbrella, a volleyball, a w [can't remember w], a xylophone [natch], a yak, and a zebu."

Then we played the alphabet game. Did you know it's pretty easy to find a Q in Tulsa? A phrase in a Mother Nature's Pest Control billboard -- "sleeping with spiders?" -- inspired another alphabetical game: "Abiding with Ants?" "Bathing with Beetles?" "Cooking with Cockroaches?" "Eating with Earwigs?" "Fellowshipping with Fleas?" (We couldn't think of a good D.)

At home, I played Candy Land and the Wiggles Game with the four-year old. Next time I'm taking all the special cards out of the Candy Land deck. Do you know what it's like for a sleepy four year old to be on the verge of victory and then to draw the Plumpy card? And the Wiggles Game is fun, but it may not be the best way to wind down before bed. ("Tickle someone." "Walk like a pirate." "Dance like Dorothy the Dinosaur.")

(Big son was busy getting ready for the middle school musical -- Disney's Aladdin Jr.. He plays the main bad guy. Tickets are still available for next weekend's performances -- November 5, 6, and 7. Come experience a little private school that knows how to put on a big production. Many of the middle school actors are veterans of Spotlight Children's Theater and Encore! Playhouse.)

Be the Wave in Tulsa

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In addition to our get-out-the-vote effort tomorrow in Muskogee (still time to sign up for that, by the way), there are a lot of opportunities to help Republican candidates get out the vote in the Tulsa area (and elsewhere in the state, too).

The Oklahoma Republican Party needs people to call voters, to walk precincts, delivering campaign material to homes, and to wave signs on street corners.

They especially need walkers. They'll give you materials, a list of houses to visit, and a map. You don't need to knock on doors -- just hang the campaign literature on the door handle. It's easy, it's fun, and tomorrow (Saturday, October 30, 2010) will be a beautiful day for it. The hope is to do as much of the walking on Saturday as possible, continuing Sunday afternoon if necessary.

On Monday evening and Tuesday morning, they need people to stand on the corner and wave signs to remind people to vote on election day.

To volunteer to walk for the GOP's GOTV effort in the Tulsa area, contact Jed Cochran. His number is 580-239-2988, or you can email him at jed@okgop.com.

If you want to help with phone calling or sign waving, you can contact Jed at the number above, and you can also contact Jason Carini with the Coburn for Senate campaign at (918) 261-4309 or jason.carini@coburnforsenate.com

There's also the opportunity to make calls from home -- contact Jason for details.

Phone calls will be going out between 10 am and 9 pm on Saturday, Monday, and Tuesday from the Tulsa County GOP Headquarters. Call shifts will run from 10am-1pm, 1-4pm, 4-7pm, and 7-9pm. They'll have drinks, snacks, and meals for those who come out and make calls

Tulsa County GOP HQ will be staffed from 7 am to 11 pm from now through Election Day.

If you plan to help as a walker, caller, or sign waver, give Jed or Jason a call, so they can be ready for you when you come by.

Early voting for the Oklahoma 2010 general election began today, Friday, October 29, 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, October 29, 20108 am - 6 pm
Saturday, October 30, 20108 am - 1 pm
Monday, November 1, 20108 am - 6 pm

On Election Day, Tuesday, November 2, 2010, polls will be open from 7 am to 7 pm.

For those of you who have asked, here is how I plan to mark my ballot. Follow the links to read an endorsement piece (mainly mine, some from other bloggers) about the candidate mentioned.

GovernorMary Fallin
Lt. GovernorTodd Lamb
State Auditor and InspectorGary Jones
Attorney GeneralScott Pruitt
State TreasurerKen Miller
Superintendent of Public InstructionJanet Barresi
Commissioner of LaborMark Costello
Insurance CommissionerJohn Doak
U. S. SenatorTom Coburn
U. S. Representative, District No. 1John Sullivan
State Representative, District 78Molly McKay
County AssessorKen Yazel
District Judge, District No. 14 - Office No. 9John Eagleton
District Judge, District No. 14 - Office No. 13Bill Musseman
District Judge, District No. 14 - Office No. 14Jon Patton

As I said in my earlier "cheat-sheet" entry, in all the races I've studied, the Republican candidate is well-qualified and the best choice. I haven't tried to list all of them, just those that I'll get to vote on.

Judicial retention: My default position is no on all of them, unless someone can make the case for voting yes. Jamison Faught has offered some reasons for voting to retain Oklahoma Supreme Court Justice James R. Winchester. (MORE: Steve Fair concurs.)

The Oklahoma Supreme Court justices and Court of Civil Appeals judges on the ballot answered a brief questionnaire for the League of Women Voters.

The State Questions and City of Tulsa propositions: No on the 4s (744, 754), yes on everything else.

SQ 744school funding tied to other statesNo
SQ 746voter IDYes
SQ 747term limits for all statewide officialsYes
SQ 748composition of apportionment commissionYes
SQ 750consistent signature requirements for initiative petitionsYes
SQ 751official state actions in EnglishYes
SQ 752composition of judicial nominating commissionYes
SQ 754ban on predetermined formulas for spendingNo
SQ 755courts can't consider sharia, international law in decisionsYes
SQ 756ban on Obamacare coercionYes
SQ 757rainy day fund increaseYes
Tulsa Prop 1establishing a rainy day fundYes
Tulsa Prop 2establishing a legal date for city primary in even yearsYes

Endorsements and voter guides elsewhere:

Oklahomans for Life voter guide: Candidate responses to questions about abortion, euthanasia, and embryonic stem cell research.

Jamison Faught (aka the Muskogee Politico) has published a list of his endorsements, with some detail about his rationale in each case.

Mike McCarville has news from Oklahoma campaigns, campaign commercials, and press releases. Great way to get caught up on the "story so far" in this election year.

Steve Fair, a Republican grassroots leader from southwestern Oklahoma, has some great commentary on state questions, judges, Gary Jones for State Auditor (and opponent Steve Burrage's connections with the corrupt Stipe-Phipps-McMahan machine), and Democrat desperation and mudslinging.

NOTE: This is what I get for writing at 2 a.m.; I wrote no when I meant YES -- as in vote YES on SQ 755. Thanks to the observant reader who caught it.

Oklahoma State Question 755 is another fine example of a proposed constitutional amendment that Ayatollah General Drew Edmondson eviscerated on its way to the ballot, misusing his power to rewrite ballot titles, without check or balance. As with SQ 754, Edmondson left out some important points and distorted others in his rewrite of the "gist of the proposition."

(By the way, this sort of thing is why we need Scott Pruitt as our next Attorney General.)

The principle behind SQ 755 is straightforward: In determining cases, Oklahoma judges should stick to the laws approved by the people of Oklahoma and their representatives, not laws in foreign jurisdictions or laws of foreign cultures over which the people of Oklahoma have no control.

Here is the amendment that would be added to the Oklahoma Constitution, as Article 7, Section 1, Subsection C, if SQ 755 is approved by the voters:

C. The Courts provided for in subsection A of this section, when exercising their judicial authority, shall uphold and adhere to the law as provided in the United States Constitution, the Oklahoma Constitution, the United States Code, federal regulations promulgated pursuant thereto, established common law, the Oklahoma Statutes and rules promulgated pursuant thereto, and if necessary the law of another state of the United States provided the law of the other state does not include Sharia Law, in making judicial decisions. The courts shall not look to the legal precepts of other nations or cultures. Specifically, the courts shall not consider international law or Sharia Law. The provisions of this subsection shall apply to all cases before the respective courts including, but not limited to, cases of first impression.

The passage of SQ 755 would make a minor correction to Subsection A of Article 7, Section 1, ("State Industrial Court" replaced with the current name of "Workers Compensation Court"), and would add a new Subsection B, which gives a name to Subsection C.

Click this link for the Oklahoma SQ 755 PDF showing the legislation that contains the proposed constitutional amendment and Edmondson's rewrite of the ballot title.

Edmondson's ballot title fails even to hint at a point that is the key to the whole amendment: "The courts shall not look to the legal precepts of other nations or cultures."

There was a U. S. Supreme Court case in 2003 -- Lawrence v. Texas -- in which the majority decision cited foreign laws and foreign court precedents in deciding to overturn laws duly approved by the elected representatives of the citizens of several states. In his dissent, Justice Antonin Scalia wrote:

In any event, an "emerging awareness" is by definition not "deeply rooted in this Nation's history and tradition[s]," as we have said "fundamental right" status requires. Constitutional entitlements do not spring into existence because some States choose to lessen or eliminate criminal sanctions on certain behavior. Much less do they spring into existence, as the Court seems to believe, because foreign nations decriminalize conduct.

A USA Today article from the same period noted the significance of the citing of a foreign precedent and speculated about future implications:

Never before had the Supreme Court's majority cited a foreign legal precedent in such a big case. Kennedy's opinion in Lawrence vs. Texas, which was signed by four other justices, has ignited a debate among analysts over whether it was a signal that the justices will adopt foreign courts' views of individual liberties.

In theory, that could mean the conservative court someday might be influenced by other countries' opposition to the death penalty, their emphasis on foreign prisoners' rights and even their acceptance of same-sex marriages. (Last month, a court in Canada lifted a ban on such unions.)

But it is far from clear that the U.S. high court routinely will turn to foreign law, and the practice has its critics -- notably Justice Antonin Scalia. When the court interprets the Constitution, he has written, U.S. attitudes about what is decent and right -- not foreign ones -- are what should matter....

Last year, Justice John Paul Stevens cited foreign law in a footnote when the majority banned executions of mentally retarded convicts. Stevens noted that "within the world community, the ... death penalty for crimes committed by mentally retarded offenders is overwhelmingly disapproved."

That drew a rebuke from Scalia, who said, "The views of other nations, however enlightened the justices of this court may think them to be, cannot be imposed upon Americans through the Constitution." Chief Justice William Rehnquist and Justice Clarence Thomas joined Scalia in his dissent.

In the Texas case, Scalia -- joined once again by Rehnquist and Thomas -- wrote that "the court's discussion of these foreign views (ignoring, of course, the many countries that have retained criminal prohibitions on sodomy) is ... meaningless dicta. Dangerous dicta, however, since this court should not impose foreign moods, fads, or fashions on Americans." (Justice Sandra Day O'Connor voted with the Kennedy majority in the case but wrote a separate opinion.)

The last phrase in the Scalia quote is actually from Justice Clarence Thomas, in a footnote in his concurring decision denying certiorari in Foster v. Florida (emphasis added, citations removed for readability):

Justice Breyer notes that the Supreme Court of Canada has expressed concern over delays in the administration of the death penalty in the United States.... I daresay that court would be even more alarmed were there, as Blackstone commended, only a 48-hour delay between sentence and execution.... In any event, Justice Breyer has only added another foreign court to his list while still failing to ground support for his theory in any decision by an American court.... While Congress, as a legislature, may wish to consider the actions of other nations on any issue it likes, this Court's Eighth Amendment jurisprudence should not impose foreign moods, fads, or fashions on Americans.

Any American judge or justice that uses foreign law as a basis for a decision ought to be impeached. Americans didn't get to vote for the legislators in France or Sweden or Russia. We didn't get to vote for the officials who chose the justices on the European Court.

Now, to address specifically the question of sharia or Islamic law: Already, courts in Britain and Canada are giving full legal force to decisions made by sharia tribunals. How does this happen? How does this medieval system of law gain a foothold in nations whose legal traditions are rooted in Magna Carta?

For your reference:

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's backgrounder on how the Ontario Arbitration Act has been used to set up Muslim courts of law, under which matters of divorce, child custody, and inheritance would be decided, in a binding way, according to Islamic law, rather than the laws of the state. The backgrounder explains why many women, especially those who left Islamic countries to live freely in Canada, fear this development:

The proposal ran into opposition from women's groups, legal organizations and the Muslim Canadian Congress, which all warned that the 1,400-year-old Shariah law does not view women as equal to men.

In her report, [former Ontario Attorney General Marion] Boyd noted that some "participants in the Review fear that the use of arbitration is the beginning of a process whose end goal is a separate political identity for Muslims in Canada, that has not been the experience of other groups who use arbitration."

In May 2005, the Quebec National Assembly unanimously supported a motion to block the use of Shariah law in Quebec courts. ...

The arbitration process as set out in the Arbitration Act is voluntary. Most of the concerns about the creation of "Shariah" tribunals have focused on the fear that Muslim women may feel they are being forced into taking part in a process of binding arbitration according to Muslim family law instead of resolving their disputes through the court system.

And in Britain, in 2008, the Daily Telegraph reported that Sharia courts had been in operation for some time:

Sheikh Faiz-ul-Aqtab Siddiqi, whose Muslim Arbitration Tribunal runs the courts, said that sharia courts are classified as arbitration tribunals under a clause in the Arbitration Act 1996.

The rulings of arbitration tribunals are binding in law, provided that both parties in the dispute agree to give it the power to rule on their case....

Mr Siddiqi said that in a recent inheritance dispute handled by the court in Nuneaton, the estate of a Midlands man was divided between three daughters and two sons.

The judges on the panel gave the sons twice as much as the daughters, in accordance with sharia. Had the family gone to a normal British court, the daughters would have got equal amounts.

In the six cases of domestic violence, Mr Siddiqi said the judges ordered the husbands to take anger management classes and mentoring from community elders. There was no further punishment.

In each case, the women subsequently withdrew the complaints they had lodged with the police and the police stopped their investigations.

Melanie Phillips' Spectator column on the topic is a lengthy rebuttal of the willingness of Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, to yield to the establishment of sharia in Britain:

Either way, his proposal would also mean that Britain would simply abandon its female Muslim citizens whose parlous position in respect of forced marriages, honour killings and all the other horrors that follow from their second-class religious status would be institutionalised by giving sharia law official recognition. Dr Williams says such women should still retain the right of appeal to the English courts if their human rights were breached under sharia. What absurdity is this? It is the cultural assumptions which flow from sharia which lead to the oppression of Muslim women. How is the right of appeal to human rights law going to help women who are beaten and killed by men who do it in the name of religion? In order to protect our female Muslim citizens, we need to remove from them the yoke of sharia law, not institutionalise it with the seal of official approval....

The rules of our society have always been entirely clear: one law for all. The only challenge to that has come from those Muslims who want to destroy that foundational precept and along with it British culture and western society. And now the head of the Anglican church has joined them in wanting to tear up the rules governing the position of minorities which have been perfectly clear ever since the Enlightenment. These rules hold that religious minorities can practise their faith and religious precepts but under the over-arching umbrella of the law of the land. That means where there is a conflict between minority precepts and the law, the minority gives way. While minorities should be given the freedom to practise their religion, they must not seek to impose their own laws and customs on the majority. That is how overlapping identities can be accommodated; it is how a majority culture can acknowledge the value of other cultures without destroying itself and a nation's identity; it is the very essence of a tolerant, decent, liberal pluralist society.

Every minority until now has lived perfectly happily under that formulation. What we are now facing is a push by certain British Muslims, backed up by Islamist violence and intimidation, to change the rules of the national cultural game. There is only one proper response to that: to say that not one inch of leeway will be given to sharia law, that British society will not dilute the legal principles which govern all its citizens, and that Muslims must observe the same rules that govern every other minority in this country.

And that is what Oklahomans must say on November 2: Not one inch of leeway to sharia law or to the judicial imposition of any law that has not been duly established under our Constitution and statutes by our elected representatives. Vote YES on SQ 755.

MORE: A good overview of the sharia controversies in Canada and Britain, by Eileen F. Toplansky at American Thinker

Perspective on SQ 755 from ztruth, an Oklahoma blogger who writes about Islamism in America.

I originally had this challenge buried in the bottom of this article, but I want to be sure you see it:

Are any of you volunteering your time for a candidate between now and Tuesday? You can join me in Muskogee on Saturday campaigning for Charles Thompson, volunteer for a Tulsa-area legislative candidate, volunteer (405-528-3501) to phone or distribute literature for the Oklahoma statewide GOP get-out-the-vote effort, or call voters in key districts around the country.

Just do something, and let us know about it in the comments.

One of the delights of this election season has been watching Ace, of Ace of Spades HQ, develop an appreciation for the nuts-and-bolts of political campaigns as he has become personally involved in knocking doors and phoning voters on behalf of candidates.

It's easy to be the cynic on the sidelines, to pronounce anathemas on both parties and all politicians. It's easy, if you don't know what you're talking about, to talk about the Republican Party as if it were one big monolithic machine, rather than a complex system of interactions between party activists, national, state, and county officials, precinct chairmen, elected officials, volunteers, donors, and ordinary voters. It's easy to pooh-pooh corny, old-fashioned get-out-the-vote methods like knocking on doors, phoning voters, and putting out yard signs. (It's also a highly conveeeeeeenient excuse for not getting off your behind and making a difference.)

The average American voter, focused on family, faith, job, home, friends, and hobbies, prefers not to give much thought to politics and government and usually won't until one of those things is threatened. Ideally, a limited government would keep to its constitutionally-assigned tasks and otherwise leave us alone, so we wouldn't need to keep a constant, watchful eye on City Hall, the County Courthouse, the State Capitol, and Washington.

To a political junkie, of the sort that reads this site and Ace's site, it seems strange that a voter wouldn't already know by now who he's voting for or whether he's voting at all. This is not Planet Vulcan, and it may seem highly illogical, but corny campaign techniques effectively connect with the way most voters make their decisions.

(By the way, pollster Chris Wilson and his colleague Bryon Allen of Wilson Research Services has a list of five rules-of-thumb that late-deciding voters use at the precinct. And the two wrote a piece last year on how a given voter may use different heuristics -- cognitive shortcuts to simplify decision-making in the absence of perfect knowledge -- for picking a candidate, depending on the circumstances like the number of candidates or whether it's a primary or a general election. Must reading for candidates and consultants.)

But when you hit the streets and talk to voters one-on-one, as Ace has done, you begin to understand, and Ace does a fine job of explaining why the corny stuff matters. Yard signs, for example:

On signs -- even if you just call the office to pick up a sign and put it in your yard, it's important.

Remember, people don't like voting for a name they don't know. When they see the same name up a bunch of times, they become familiar with it. Particularly if their neighbors are endorsing that man. It gives them information -- not much information, but enough. It tells them that even though they haven't done their homework and decided which candidates are worth supporting, people they know have done that homework, and those people have decided that people like Bielat, Hudak, Perry and Golnik are serious guys worth voting for.

"Serious guys worth voting for" is a crucial message. It doesn't matter how bad the incumbent is, if a voter doesn't know that there is an opponent or that he's credible, the voter may stay home or even vote for the loathsome incumbent, who is at least an experienced and credible loathsome incumbent. It's why a loathsome incumbent will spend so much airtime and ink discrediting his challenger; it keeps people from turning out to vote him out.

So, do you have signs in your yard for your favorite candidates? Call your local party HQ and pick some up, or request a sign on the candidate's website. It matters. I'd hate to think a highly qualified candidate like Janet Barresi -- started two successful public charter schools -- would lose the State Superindent's race just because voters didn't know her name.

Referring to his experience campaigning for Sean Bielat in MA-4 (he's challenging Barney Frank), Ace writes:

The minute these people hear that they have a credible candidate, a Marine and engineer, who builds robots to protect our troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, they'll go for him. It's just a question of letting people know. And getting out the vote.

We've got a credible guy running right here in eastern Oklahoma -- an Army veteran, a veterinarian, running against the Pelosi-enabling heir of our own little political dynasty. But people won't vote for Charles Thompson unless they get to know him.

Which is why I'm sponsoring and participating in a get-out-the-vote effort this Saturday in Muskogee, and I'm asking you to join me.

A couple of days ago, Ace linked to a Jim Geraghty piece on four election-night scenarios: the "fading GOP wave" (House stays D, only 3 or 4 Senate seats), the "okay wave" (we take the House, pick up 6 to 8 Senate seats), the "happy times wave" (enough to take both House and Senate), and the "superwave" (60 to 90 House seats or beyond, 3 or 4-seat majority in Senate).

Explaining why door-knocking and phone-calling works, Ace pointed out that as enthused as we (the political junkies) are, an indifferent vote counts as much as an enthusiastic vote, but...

There is one way that one person's high enthusiasm translates into more votes: If he can activate, convince, persuade, or cajole a non-voter or non-enthusiastic potential voter to cast his vote his way.

That's the way that high enthusiasm translates into higher vote tallies -- when the enthusiastic share their enthusiasm with the unenthusiastic, and get the unenthusiastic to cast votes, too.

Those votes count just the same as ours, of course. But now we've got more.

I don't know why anyone would say this, but someone objected that GOTV efforts don't matter. [B.S.] That is excuse-making on stilts. GOTV is the entire name of the game. That's how we won in 2004 -- the Democrat who noted that Republican voters just kept pouring into suburban Ohio polling places. "It was like Night of the Living Dead," he said, as the 2004 turn-out effort brought so many unlikely voters to the polls....

This is how it's won. By turning out the vote. By identifying unlikely voters who are likely to vote Republican, if they just get off their asses and go down to the polling place and are confronted with the choice they've been not bothering to think about.

And that's what GOTV is about. It's about lending our enthusiasm to the unenthuiastic, to let them know our candidate's name so that the name isn't completely new and alien to them when they see it on the ballot, but rather familiar and reassuring. Giving them a little bit of bio of the candidate, so they have a quick bullet-point read on him (again, so he seems familiar), and his policy positions.

An indifferent voter will usually not vote for an unknown. It's our job to make the unknowns known to them....

That's what it's all about, especially in midterms. If our marginal voters, our loose-identifying conservatives turn out, and theirs do not, we win. If a lot of our marginal voters turn out, and theirs do not, we win big....

This is what worries me. That we have a once-in-a-lifetime chance to make a truly historic Change but we're going to squander the opportunity for failure of translating our thoughts into actual actions, and thereby, actual votes.

The Democratic base is in fact finally thinking about the election. The fact that they are only thinking about it now doesn't make their votes count less. We've been fired up since summer of 2009 but our votes will count precisely the same.

We need more votes. That simple: We need more votes. We have to turn out everyone who leans Republican to the polls.

If you believe that America is at a crisis point, that we need a return to limited government and fiscal sanity, if you really mean it, then your belief needs to turn into action. You have a chance to make a difference.

Join me in Muskogee on Saturday for Charles Thompson. Volunteer for a Tulsa-area legislative candidate. Call Oklahoma GOP headquarters at 405-528-3501 to volunteer for the massive statewide GOTV effort. Help FreedomWorks make phone calls to voters in key districts around the country.

And if you do volunteer, encourage others to do the same by leaving a comment and letting us know about it.

Next Media Animation is a Taiwanese media company that is making a name for itself with video-game-style retellings, often hilarious, of American news stories, narrated in Chinese. You may have seen their version of the Al Gore "crazed poodle" allegations or their take on the 2010 midterm elections.

Here's NMA's take on Waiting for "Superman", the new documentary on the failings of the American education system. Even if you don't speak Chinese, the two-minute clip sets out the key points of the school choice debate in memorable images.

For the real trailer (in English!) for Waiting for "Superman", for updates on school districts refusing to comply with the new law providing scholarships for disabled students, and for all the latest developments, click the banner above to visit SchoolChoiceOk.com, a valued BatesLine sponsor.

ayatollah_edmundson.jpgI may have been wrong about 754. I made the mistake of believing the ballot title, which appears to be Ayatollah Drew Edmondson's valedictory middle finger to Oklahoma conservative voters.

The retiring attorney general, a Democrat, is notable for having three political consultants involved with the popular Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) initiative publicly shackled, notable for supporting New Jersey's bid to force the Boy Scouts to have homosexual scoutmasters, notable for enriching a number of law firms by means of the tobacco industry lawsuit (15% contingency fees plus costs and expenses), notable for fighting efforts to open state legal contracts to public disclosure and competitive bidding, notable for refusing to join other states in the suit against Obamacare, and ranked the third-worst attorney general in the nation by the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

As his final gesture of contempt toward the state that foolishly elected him four times, Edmondson has taken it upon himself to editorialize in the ballot titles of several state questions, injecting his personal opinion into what should be a simple factual summary of the legislation and constitutional amendments that are being put before the voters.

SQ 754 is one of the constitutional amendments that Edmondson chose to twist. (The PDF linked contains the original legislation and the correspondence with the Attorney General's office over the ballot language.) Here is the actual language that will be added to Article 5 of the Oklahoma Constitution if SQ 754 is approved:

Section 55A. Notwithstanding any other provision of the Oklahoma Constitution to the contrary, whether such provision is in effect prior to, simultaneously with or after the provisions of this section shall become adopted, the Legislature shall not be required to make expenditures for any function of government using a predetermined formula of any kind or by reference to the expenditure levels of any other state government or any other entity. The provisions of this section shall not be construed to authorize the Legislature to make appropriations In excess of the limits allowed by Section 23 of Article X or any other provision of the Constitution.

The same legislation that proposed the amendment also proposed the language that would appear on the ballot (note that the "gist" is 123 words, 20 words longer than the actual amendment):

This measure amends the Oklahoma Constitution. It would add a new Section 55A to Article 5. It relates to the state budget. It relates to the ability of the Legislature to spend money each year. It would allow the Legislature to make decisions about the state budget. The Legislature would be able to decide how much money to spend each year. The Legislature would not be required to spend a certain amount of money for any one government service or function. If this amendment is adopted, the Oklahoma Constitution could not require the Legislature to do this. If this amendment is adopted, the Oklahoma Constitution could not require the Legislature to make spending decisions based on how much money any other state spent.

Edmondson objected that it wasn't at an 8th grade reading comprehension level and "does not adequately explain the effect of the proposition." So he rewrote it, using his authority under 34 O.S. 9(c):

This measure adds a new section to the Oklahoma Constitution. It adds Section 55A to Article 5. The Legislature designates amounts of money to be used for certain functions. These designations are called appropriations. The measure deals with the appropriation process.

The measure limits how the Constitution could control that process. Under the measure the Constitution could not require the Legislature to fund state functions based on:

1. Predetermined constitutional formulas,
2. How much other states spend on a function,
3. How much any entity spends on a function.

Under the measure these limits on the Constitution's power to control appropriations would apply even if:

1. A later constitutional amendment changed the Constitution, or

2. A constitutional amendment to the contrary was passed at the same time as this measure.

Thus, under the measure, once adopted, the measure could not be effectively amended. Nor could it be repealed.

We're now up to 148 words. The amendment refers to expenditures. Edmondson uses the word "appropriations." The amendment is limited to whether the Constitution requiring the legislature to make expenditures -- in other words, to spend at least a required amount. Edmondson's title speaks more broadly about "the Constitution's power to control appropriations." Nowhere does the amendment prohibit its own repeal or amendment, but Edmondson falsely claims that it does.

I still am inclined to vote against SQ 754. If we don't want the legislature's hands tied when allocating scarce resources among state agencies, we should vote against propositions like SQ 744 that would tie their hands. And I'm not fond of overcomplicating our already over-complicated Constitution, especially with language that limits the effect of other constitutional provisions. Better to repeal a provision if you want it to go away.

Nevertheless, all Oklahoma voters should be offended that Drew Edmondson used the ballot as a soapbox for his opinions, not for a fair and clear description of the proposition.

A press release from the Tulsa County Bar Association about tonight's judicial candidate forum:

The Tulsa County Bar Association is hosting a forum for the public to meet and hear from the candidates running for Tulsa County District Judge.

The forum will take place on

Tuesday October 26, 2010 at 5:30 p.m.
at the Tulsa County Bar Association Center
1446 S. Boston Avenue.

The candidates scheduled to appear are:

John Eagleton Judge Linda Morrissey
Judge Carl Funderburk Judge William J. Musseman, Jr.
Judge Kurt Glassco Jon Patton

Each candidate will make an opening statement followed by a question and answer session.

The Public is invited and encouraged to attend this unique opportunity to meet and hear from the candidates for Tulsa County District Judge.

Coffee, tea and cookies will be served. Free Parking is available.

For additional information, call Chad McLain.

Chad McLain
1437 S Boulder Ave, Ste 1010
Tulsa, OK 74119-3616
Phone: 918-359-6600
Fax: 918 - 359-6605

In the previous entry, I mentioned that there are congressional districts that could be competitive for conservative Republicans, districts which have voted for Republicans in the past, where the GOP challenger is a credible community leader. But they will only be competitive if volunteers show up to get the message to the voters.

One of those districts is right here in Oklahoma: The 2nd District, which covers the eastern third of the state. Although the 2nd District includes the Yellow-Dog Democrat territory known as Little Dixie, this is the district that sent Tom Coburn to Congress in 1994. The Cook Partisan Voting index is R+14.

The incumbent in Oklahoma's 2nd District is Dan Boren. Boren's record on taxation and the budget is abysmal, getting failing and near-failing grades from FreedomWorks, National Taxpayers Union, Club for Growth, Citizens against Government Waste, Americans for Tax Reform, and Americans for Prosperity. Whatever good he has done with centrist votes on social issues, he has undone by voting three times for Nancy Pelosi to be speaker, giving her leftist allies control of the legislative agenda. Boren voted with Nancy Pelosi to adjourn the House without extending the Bush tax cuts, set to expire at the end of the year.


The Republican nominee, Charles Thompson, is a Gulf War Army veteran and a veterinarian. He serves as a school board member in Hulbert Public Schools. He believes in limited government. He won't support bailouts, tax hikes, cap-n-trade, or massive spending binges, nor will he vote for House leadership that does.

RealClearPolitics rates OK 2 as "Likely Democrat" -- in play, but just barely. Boren is a powerful political name in Oklahoma, and young Dan works hard to hide his association with San Fran Nan and her team of far-lefties who run the House.

I believe that if 2nd District voters get to know Charles Thompson andcome to understand that Dan Boren is an enabler for loathsome liberal legislation, they'll turn Boren out of office. Friendly face-to-face conversation is the most effective way to make that happen.

That's why I've chosen Thompson's campaign for the Be the Wave event that I'm sponsoring this coming Saturday. This is the closest opportunity to Tulsa to affect the margin of Republican victory in Congress. We'll gather at noon for a briefing and a bite to eat, pair off and hit the streets for a few hours, then reconvene to swap stories over a dutch-treat dinner.

We can not only help to rid Congress of another Democrat (and terminate an ambitious Democrat's plans for political advancement), we can also turn out conservative voters to support the whole slate of conservative candidates, like Scott Pruitt for Attorney General, Gary Jones for State Auditor, and Janet Barresi for State Superintendent.

If you think Thompson is too much of a dark-horse to be worth your time, by all means find another candidate to help. If you've got an unlimited long distance plan, you can make calls for any candidate in the country.

You can sign up with FreedomWorks PAC to help with their phone-banking effort on behalf of free-market conservative candidates.

RedState's Erick Erickson has a list of 99 candidates who could use your help, and he's highlighted 25 that he'd especially like to see elected.

Three of those districts are close to home: two potential GOP takeovers in central and northeastern Arkansas (Rick Crawford in AR-1 and Tim Griffin in AR-2), and a toss-up seat in southwest Missouri's 4th District, where Vicky Hartzler is working to retire Ike Skelton.

You might want to help Patrick Murray, who grew up in Oklahoma, is an alum of OSU, and recently retired as a colonel in the U. S. Army to try to unseat Jim Moran in Virginia's 8th congressional district. Moran is a nasty piece of work who recently stated that Murray's 24 years of active military duty didn't count as public service, screamed at his parish priest after mass, was accused of abuse by his ex-wife, and doesn't believe in capitalism or property rights.

It's not the battle for Congress, but right here in the Tulsa area, good Republican legislative candidates like Molly McKay, Kim David, and Jadine Nollan have a chance to capture open seats currently held by Democrats or beat a liberal Democrat incumbent. Statewide candidates need your support, too. We should be able to win every statewide office this year, but only if conservative voters turn out.

We've got some conservative candidates for district judge here in Tulsa County that could use your help: John Eagleton, Bill Musseman, and Jon Patton. All three are registered to vote as Republicans; their opponents are not. The bench at the Tulsa County Courthouse ought to reflect Tulsa County values.

I challenge every conservative BatesLine reader to take at least two hours between now and election day to volunteer for a campaign. I'd love to have you join me this weekend, but I'd be pleased to know that you're volunteering for any candidate.

Which candidate will you help during this last week of the campaign? Post a comment and let us know.

That big, beautiful electoral wave we see building may be a mere ripple by the time it reaches shore on November 2. Some of my blogpals are worried, and rightly so.

Tabitha Hale of FreedomWorks issues a challenge:

Here's the thing: Republicans are undoubtedly going to win next Tuesday. We will pick up house seats and some Senate seats.

You control how many seats we will win.

Getting people to turn out has never been easy. The ground game is the hardest part of any campaign, which is why the party has just opted to not focus on it this go round. The failure of the party to push GOTV efforts is embarrassing. Ace laments the lack of motivation here. Melissa Clouthier blames the GOP. They're both right....

This election cycle is as much about beating the Republicans as it is about beating the Democrats. For the first time in a long time, we will have a freshman class full of Representatives and Senators that were elected only because the people wanted them there - not because they inherited a seat or were able to buy their way in. The party turned their back on many of them. There is a whole block of elected officials that owe their jobs to the people....

There is no better time to step away from your computer and put up some signs or make some phone calls than right now. November 2nd is it, people. We don't get a redo. What we do over the next eight days will impact our entire country for the next two years and beyond. This is the only shot we have at halting and reversing Obama's agenda. Right now. This week.

Ace now expects November 2 to be little more than a "pretty good night" for Republicans.

And the reason? A lot of people are sitting on their [posteriors] waiting for things to change instead of fulfilling their patriotic duties as American citizens and making the change happen.

Based on this analysis I am giving up on my big predictions and scaling back to something like 44 seats or so. We will lose all the close races (we always do), and people like Ruth McClung and Sean Bielat will lose. Only the lock seats will come through for us.

You know what the Democrats call a loss of 44 seats after they've socialized health care and blown up the budget to Greek levels? Acceptable losses. They'll take that, all day and twice on Sundays. Because they've now set the country on an inexorable path to socialism. They're playing the long game, while we're... well we're not playing any game at all.

A gain of 44 would be nice, but it wouldn't be the sound thrashing that sends the surviving Democrats scurrying in fear to make alternative career plans for 2013. A gain of 44 would not deliver the message that Americans repudiate the radical Obama-Reid-Pelosi agenda. It would be treated by the media as a failure to meet expectations.

I was very disappointed in the reaction from Ace's commenters: Effectively they told him to chill out, that the polls all looked great, that Republicans are motivated to vote, that knocking doors is beneath their dignity, and it doesn't do any good anyway.


The only poll that matters is held on November 2. The only people who will vote in that poll are the ones who remember to show up. Those of us who care about the future of the country need to motivate and remind the conservatives who only occasionally vote to show up.

In 2004, about 1.5 million Oklahoma voters showed up to elect Tom Coburn to the Senate and to give George W. Bush the majority in every single county. A massive turnout effort, organized under the leadership of then state GOP chairman Gary Jones, had volunteers contacting hundreds of thousands of conservative voters in the days leading up to the election.

Less than a million voters turned out in 2006. Gov. Brad Henry got about 100,000 votes more than John F. Kerry did in 2004, but his Republican challenger, Congressman Ernest Istook, got less than a third of the vote that George W. Bush received.

One-to-one, face-to-face contact is by far the most effective means of voter persuasion. A 2002 study by a couple of Yale political science professors found "that during a local election, each face-to-face contact with a voter increased his/her chance of voting by seven percent. Furthermore, their results suggest that every 12 face-to-face contacts garner one additional vote, even if that voter had never heard of the candidate beforehand."

It would certainly be more convenient for the candidates if robocalls, sign waving, and literature drops (the political equivalent of ring-and-run) were the most effective methods. Door-to-door campaigning is time-consuming, and it requires a lot of advance work by the campaign staff to prepare lists, maps, and literature and to recruit volunteers to do the work.

But, as Ace has discovered, retail politics is also a lot of fun. It's a chance to socialize with people who share your passion for politics, and you come back from a day knocking doors with stories of interesting encounters.

There is a great deal of dissatisfaction with government. Voters would like an alternative to the party in power, but they have to know there is a realistic hope of change for the better. There are Democratic House seats that should be competitive -- the district has voted for Republican candidates for other offices, the Republican challenger is a credible, articulate community leader -- but they won't be competitive because the challenger doesn't have the money or manpower to introduce himself to the voters.

Your effort can make the difference. Be the wave. I challenge each of you to volunteer at least two hours between now and election day for a conservative candidate. More on how to do that in the next post.

In my previous entry, I wrote about several cases in which District Judge Linda Morrissey had been reversed on appeal for abuse of discretion and errors in law. In just four hours of searching, despite internet connection problems for about half of that period and no easy way to find reversals for a given judge, I found eight such cases, by no means an exhaustive list of Morrissey's reversals.

As I expected, the entry received a lawyerly comment (posted from an IP address associated with the Tulsa law firm of Rosenstein, Fist, and Ringold) pooh-poohing the significance of these errors.

All trial judges err. Unlike some professions, a judge's error is not always indicative of incompetence. Many matters of law are unsettled, and in such cases, a reversal indicates only that the appellate court disagrees, not that the district court should have known better.

I don't buy it, and neither should the voters. In only one of the cases I looked at was there anything unsettled in the law, and in that case Morrissey went entirely in the wrong direction, looking to Michigan law and precedent rather than Oklahoma precedent, and in so doing, she went against the express wish of the decedent to give his IRA to his children. In all the other cases, Morrissey went against clear law and facts. In the civil case where Morrissey abused her discretion, it appears that she was blatantly unfair to one of the parties in the lawsuit. In the two criminal cases, Morrissey set up and followed her own sentencing policy, contrary to law. From the facts of the cases presented in the appeals court rulings, it appears that Morrissey's rulings were also contrary to common sense.

I suppose for a lawyer, a reversible error by a judge may mean more billable hours, but for the normal people involved in the case, fixing the error in appeals court means more expense, more anxiety, more waiting for justice.

Sometimes the party fouled by a judge's negligence, arrogance, or ignorance doesn't have the means to pursue an appeal. The injustice stands.

A few weeks ago, I was contacted by Scott Weisberg, who had spent some time in the Tulsa County courtroom of District Judge Linda Morrissey, in a case involving a severe head injury to his daughter, and he wanted to let the public know about his experience.

What follows is Weisberg's characterization of the case and how Morrissey handled it. In an ideal world, I'd have time to review the case in depth and draw my own conclusions. I've decided to publish Scott Weisberg's perspective on the case because he is willing to attach his name to it.

To summarize Weisberg's grievance against Linda Morrissey: A trust was set up as a result of the settlement over his daughter's injury to provide for her long-term care. His ex-wife (the girl's mother) presented receipts for reimbursement from the trust. Morrissey appointed Deborrah Ludi Leitch as guardian ad litem, ostensibly to look after the daughter's interests and to determine whether reimbursement was appropriate. On Ludi Leitch's recommendation, Morrissey denied reimbursement. According to Weisberg, the money paid to Ludi Leitch out of the trust for her services was almost as much as the amount of the disputed receipts. In Weisberg's opinion, Morrissey could have evaluated the receipts herself, leaving more money in the trust for his daughter's future care.

What follows in the block quote below (after the jump if you're on the home page) are quotes from Weisberg; anything in brackets has been added by me for the sake of clarity.

To err is human. Mistakes will be made. Nobody's perfect.

But when a district judge errs, it's a costly mistake. The wronged party, who has already paid for attorneys in a case, must pay even more for the cost of an appeal. There are additional court costs. If the case goes to the State Supreme Court, Tulsa County residents bear the additional burden and cost of travel to Oklahoma City. Then there's the stress of waiting months or years for the final resolution of the case. If the district judge is reversed, the case will likely be remanded -- sent back to the original judge to fix the mistake and reconsider the decision. More delays, more lawyers' fees, more anxiety.

A search through the Oklahoma Bar Journal reveals District Judge Linda Morrissey, running for re-election, has committed a long list of errors that have been reversed by Oklahoma's higher courts. In at least one case, the appeals court goes so far as to say that Linda Morrissey abused her discretion.

Here are just a few of Linda Morrissey's reversals (all emphasis mine). The summaries and paraphrasing are my own; please click the links to review the original information on which my summaries are based.

Court of Civil Appeals DF - 106739: In a foreclosure case, the defendant's attorney pulls a surprise during preliminary proceedings in Linda Morrissey's chambers: He contested, for the first time, the authenticity of the note and mortgage. The bank requested a continuance, because it wasn't prepared to respond to this previously undisclosed accusation. Linda Morrissey said no. The bank offered to present a copy. Judge Morrissey said no; the bank had to have the original note. The bank said it had the original note, where it normally keeps such documents, just not in the courtroom. Morrissey awarded the defendants -- the people who didn't pay their mortgage -- $55,172.51 in court costs and attorney's fees.

The Court of Civil Appeals unanimously ruled that Linda Morrissey "abused [her] discretion" in the case. Linda Morrissey's abuse of discretion took 17 months to correct.

(Details on the case from the April 24, 2010, issue of the Oklahoma Bar Journal, Vol. 81, No. 12, p. 1106.)

In two criminal cases, State of Oklahoma vs. James Ricky Ezell III and State of Oklahoma vs. Robert Mark Stephens, the Court of Criminal Appeals ruled that Linda Morrissey's "'policy' of running sentences consecutively" constituted "an abuse of discretion as it incumbent upon a trial court to consider all sentencing options available."

2007 OK CIV APP 120: This involved a couple who left a sum of money to their two children, a son and a daughter, in the form of a trust. The son, who was trustee, borrowed $200,000 from the trust for himself and a business partner, with no documentation of the loans, and he concealed his share of the debt.

The son sought to get himself named personal representative of his parents' estates; and his sister, a beneficiary of the trust, objected that he was unfit "due to serious and substantial conflicts of interest, breaches of trust and self-dealing involving the sole asset of the estates," namely the $200,000 loan. He had also delegated check-writing privileges to his wife, who paid "her sister-in-law a large sum of money...." All of this was in the district court record, according to the decision of the Court of Civil Appeals.

Morrissey even denied the daughter "the opportunity to present rebuttal evidence and closing arguments."

Linda Morrissey appointed the son as personal representative, over the daughter's objection, despite "express[ing]... concern about Appellee's obligation to the Trust and his delegation of trust administration duties to his wife." The appeals court ruled: "This was error" on Morrissey's part. The evidence "clearly demonstrated [the son's] lack of integrity as that term is defined" in 58 O.S. 102. The appeals court reversed Morrissey's decision.

In this case, it took nine months to fix Linda Morrissey's mistake, from the date of her erroneous decision to the appeals court's reversal.

2008 OK CIV APP 73: A mother put a child up for adoption and relinquished her parental rights in writing. The father objected to the termination of his parental rights and although his attorney had announced at a hearing that he would agree to give up his rights if he would be allowed visitation, the father withdrew his consent to such an arrangement and never signed a permanent relinquishment. Judge Linda Morrissey went ahead and issued an order terminating the father's parental rights despite the lack of a permanent relinquishment. The appeals court unanimously ruled that Morrissey "erred as a matter of law" in issuing a termination order without the father's signed permanent relinquishment. Morrissey's error took about a year to fix.

2006 OK CIV APP 90: A man designated the adult children from his first marriage as beneficiaries of his IRA. Upon his death, his surviving spouse from a later marriage sought an injunction to keep the money from going to the children, and Linda Morrissey granted the injunction, basing her decision on Michigan law. The Court of Civil Appeals concluded that Morrissey's "grant of the preliminary injunction was erroneous as a matter of law and is VACATED." Fixing Linda Morrissey's mistake took 17 months, from the date of the erroneous injunction to the appeals court's decision.

Court of Civil Appeals DF - 106937: The Court of Civil Appeals ruled that Linda Morrissey "erred when [she] entered judgment in favor of Plaintiff after finding that Defendants' defense of lack of contract was not encompassed within the court's pre-trial conference order listing claims and defenses of the parties."

It took 17 months to correct Linda Morrissey's error.

(Details on the case from the August 21, 2010, issue of the Oklahoma Bar Journal, Vol. 81, No. 22, p. 1832.)

Court of Civil Appeals IN - 100409: The Court of Civil Appeals ruled that Linda Morrissey erroneously granted summary judgment when there were contested issues of material fact to be resolved regarding a revocable trust and will. This Morrissey mistake took 13 months to fix.

(Details on the case from the February 19, 2005, issue of the Oklahoma Bar Journal, Vol. 76, No. 7, p. 567.)

Ken Yazel for County Assessor


While I'm supporting Republicans across the board, there are a few cases where the GOP candidate has done such a faithful job in serving the taxpayers and/or represents a significant improvement over his Democratic opponent, that I want to underline and emphasize my endorsement a hundred times over. One such public servant is Ken Yazel. I am proud to endorse Ken Yazel, a true friend to the taxpayer, for re-election as County Assessor.

Yazel has at times been the lone voice at the County Courthouse raising concern about wasteful spending and deceptive budget numbers. He has been one of the few elected officials to speak publicly against tax hike initiatives like the River Tax.

Yazel has also defended taxpayer interests by insisting on fair property assessments for everyone, even the very wealthy. If someone builds a $25 million house, they ought to pay property taxes on the full amount; otherwise, property taxes go up for the rest of us to make up the difference. Because Ken Yazel stands up for all taxpayers, the very wealthy have made him a target. We need to stand up for him.

Ken Yazel has also been a great friend to public access to public records. Public means online, and Ken Yazel added to the county assessor website the ability to search the Tulsa County assessor property database online. You no longer have to go to the library to find out who owns a piece of property or how much it's worth. You no longer have to ask the County Commissioners permission and pay a monthly fee to access this public information. My story on where the named members of Save Our Tulsa live and the median value of their homes would not have been possible without this valuable research tool. Oklahoma County has had this sort of tool for many years, while most Tulsa County officials resisted. Yazel's leadership on this issue alone is enough to earn my heartiest endorsement.

Yazel's opponent, Nancy Bolzle, would be dismissed as a perennial, unsuccessful candidate if it weren't for her connection to the Money Belt social network. She's a lobbyist, and the "endorsements" page on her website consists of six lobbying clients -- four of them from other parts of the state -- commending her lobbying skills. She couldn't find anyone to say she'd be a good county assessor. She has no management experience to bring to a job that requires oversight of 90 employees. She has no background in property valuation. It appears that she is running strictly for the purpose of ending Ken Yazel's courageous, faithful service on behalf of the taxpayer.

Her "news" page has two columns, one column devoted to articles about herself, one column for Ken Yazel. Nancy Bolzle's list consists mainly of stories from Danna Sue Walker's society column in the daily paper that tells of parties she's attended. The Ken Yazel list shows him tackling substantial issues, defending the taxpayer's interest.

Bolzle's husband is a developer; it would seem to be a built-in conflict of interest for her to be in a position to set property values for ad valorem tax purposes. Her husband is defendant in a $7.2 million foreclosure action filed by Arvest Bank regarding a development in Glenpool.

This is an easy choice: We need Ken Yazel's experience, his fairness, and his commitment to the best interest of the taxpayer working for us at the County Assessor's office.

The Yazel campaign could use your help in the final 10 days of the election. Contact Ken Yazel through his website to volunteer.

MORE: Back during the primary, Ken Yazel provided a fact-filled response to mudslinging from his primary challenger.

It appears that the rich old SOTs, who seek to take Tulsa back from, well, Tulsans, are attempting to marshal the resources for gathering the necessary signatures to put their aristocratic propositions on the ballot. Word is that they aren't getting the kind of support and traction they may have expected, not even from their usual allies in Tulsa's Money Belt. But behind-the-scenes disapproval is not enough. Those who are informed enough to know that the Save Our Tulsa charter change proposal is bad for Tulsa need to speak out publicly and now, so that this mess can be quickly nipped in the bud.

Nick-Nolte-Mugshot.jpgTuesday was the first reported sighting of a petition circulator for the three Tulsa City Charter amendments proposed by Save Our Tulsa, Dahlink. The sighting occurred at Central Library, and according to my correspondent, the circulator bore a striking resemblance to Nick Nolte's infamous 2002 DUI mugshot, including the Hawaiian shirt.

On Wednesday, my wife spotted one in the supermarket parking lot. As the circulator approached a prospective signer, my wife intervened, giving a brief explanation of the key problem with the proposals -- you'd need to be a millionaire, or beloved by millionaires, to win a seat on the City Council. The circulator didn't get the voter's signature.

I would predict that a horde of circulators will be illegally roaming the parking lots of Tulsa polling places on November 2 in search of signatures. It would be wonderful if every petition-taker was shadowed by someone who could make the case against the SOT proposal. That might get ugly -- they usually get paid by the signature -- so the better course will be to call the sheriff's office if you spot a petition circulator near a polling place. I seem to recall that in November 2004 the Tulsa County Sheriff's Office shooed paid circulators away from polling places. The petition was for a gas tax increase, a proposal that was defeated 7-1 in a 2005 special election. Back during the 2004 election, at one northside polling place, a display promoting the tax was set up in the lobby of the school that hosted the precinct.

SOT leader John Brock has made a few public appearances to speak on behalf of at-large councilors (with the mayor serving as council chairman) and non-partisan city elections on the same day as statewide general elections, a set of propositions that would make the general election ballot longer and more confusing for voters and would make it more difficult to win a seat on the council with grassroots support. From his interviews with KOTV's Emory Bryan and KWGS's Rich Fisher, it seems that Brock has no idea that Tulsans from outside his social circle would find his proposals offensive. He certainly didn't take the time to run his idea past those who opposed his 2005 council-packing scheme.

I've heard from multiple sources that Tulsa Metro Chamber leadership thinks the push for the proposed charter amendments is bad for Tulsa. I've heard that those concerns are shared by other prominent Tulsans, every bit as wealthy and connected as the public members of the SOT steering committee. A few polite but firm denunciations of the proposals from the right people could quickly kill the petition effort, deter a divisive election, and allow Tulsa's leaders to focus on, e.g., applying KPMG's recommendations to the city's difficult budget situation.

So why haven't we heard anything negative about the SOT proposals out of, say, Chamber CEO Mike Neal? It's as if there's an unwritten code of silence among Tulsa's wealthiest and the individuals and organizations who depend upon their patronage. Mustn't quarrel in front of the help. Mustn't humiliate the folks who could make a few calls and get you fired from your cushy gig as head of the non-profit.

In my years of civic involvement in Tulsa, I've seen it time and time again: Those who belong to the Money Belt culture are unwilling to say publicly what they say privately about a bad idea supported by their peers. They leave it to outsiders to make the case against the bad idea, and then they stand aside when those who speak out are marginalized.

Way back in 2003, I wrote a long email, later published on this blog, to a number of people, some of whom had privately qualms about Vision 2025 privately -- the process that developed the final product, the structuring of the ballot, the lack of strategic thinking -- but were unwilling to express those reservations publicly.

To use the terms of the Pogo cartoon I sent earlier, let's speak our criticisms openly and plainly, not into a bag and disguised as praise. We don't live in the old USSR. We shouldn't be afraid to utter mild criticisms of Tulsa's politburo and nomenklatura. And yet fear is precisely what I detect beneath the surface: Fear of ostracism, fear of exclusion, fear of economic consequences.

This may be a bit impolite to say, but it's there beneath the surface and ought to be dealt with openly. Some of our group work for organizations which are funded by supporters of this package. Others aren't personally dependent, but are involved with organizations that need the funds that the package supporters can offer. Others need the goodwill of city government to conduct business and make a living. Some of us have even been paid to facilitate and promote the vision process and to work for the "vote yes" campaign. Beyond the financial considerations, many members of our group move within a narrow circle of social and organizational connections -- a virtual "small town" within the city, focused on the arts and other non-profit organizations, centered around Utica Square and chronicled by Tulsa People and Danna Sue Walker. As in any small town, some opinions are acceptable and some are not, and speaking your mind risks ostracism.

It's time for the big shots who think the SOT proposals are a bad idea -- unnecessarily divisive, a "solution" that fixes nothing -- to speak out. Nip the SOT plan in the bud, before yet another underfunded opposition group has to beat it -- and the hundreds of thousands of dollars that will back it -- at the polls.

FOOTNOTE: Not all who live in the Money Belt are part of the Money Belt culture. One such courageous dissident is attorney Greg Bledsoe, a leader of Tulsans Defending Democracy, which opposes diluting geographical representation with at-large councilors. The group formed in 2005 to oppose an earlier charter amendment petition seeking at-large councilors. Bledsoe was on the Thursday, October 21, 2010, edition of KWGS Studio Tulsa.

There's an impressive crop of Republican candidates running as challengers or for open State House and State Senate seats in the Tulsa area. Each one is an accomplished individual with a great deal of life experience to bring to the Legislature. They'd also represent Oklahoma's conservative social and fiscal values at the State Capitol. Kim David (SD 18), Jadine Nollan (HD 66), and Glen Mulready (HD 68) are all running in open seats. Randall Reese (HD 72) is challenging incumbent Seneca Scott; Molly McKay (HD 78) is challenging one of the legislature's most liberal members, Jeannie McDaniel. McDaniel. McDaniel is also notable for her work at City Hall and at the State Capitol to undermine local historic preservation protections and local control of zoning.

Senate District 18: Kim David owns and operates a property management company in Wagoner. (Her opponent also lives in Wagoner.) David is married with two kids serving in the military -- a son in the Marines and a daughter in the Air Force. Here's the Tulsa Beacon profile of Kim David. SD 18 is a "Mary-mander" -- stretching from 11th and Memorial to Grand Lake, shaped to allow Mary Easley to move up from her old State House district to the Senate district once held by her son Kevin Easley. Mary Easley is at last term-limited.

House District 66: Jadine Nollan, the Republican nominee, is already an established leader in the community: president of the Sand Springs school board, executive director of the Sand Springs Community Services Council, and serves on the Board of Directors of the Sand Springs Chamber of Commerce. She's a graduate of Charles Page (Sand Springs) High School and OSU. Her Democrat opponent, Eli Potts, seems like an eager young man, but with little life experience (he's 21) and as a member of the minority party, he's not likely to make much of an impact for the district.

House District 68: Glen Mulready has been in the insurance business for 26 years, three years with his own business. He has served as legislative chairman (a volunteer post) for the Oklahoma State Association of Health Underwriters, so he's already had some first-hand experience dealing with the legislative process. The Tulsa Beacon profiled Glen Mulready back in May. His wife's family owns and operates Shepherd's Fold Ranch, a Christian summer camp and retreat center north of Skiatook.

House District 72: Randall Reese is the first Republican to challenge for this seat since 1996 if not earlier. He was the Republican nominee for City Council District 3 in 1996 and 1998, and ran in the free-for-all special election for that post in November 1998. An August 25, 2010, feature story in Urban Tulsa Weekly on the HD 72 race mentions that Reese, 53, is retiring after nearly three decades as active duty and reserve military. He's got an impressive background and comes across well in reporter Mike Easterling's story.

Reese said he's lived in the district most of his life and has seen it decline from a middle-class area that once was home to a number of companies offering good blue-collar jobs to a place where many residents now struggle to make ends meet.

"I'd like to see it come back," he said. "One day, it will."

Reese served as a linguist in the military, speaking German and Russian, and said he's been comfortable living in a diverse community since he spent three years residing in a Hispanic enclave in East Los Angeles after high school. He said he understands the road to progress is paved with cooperation.

"I don't fight with anybody," he said.

"But I would like to work with people. I believe in working together. I don't believe in fighting with anybody. Politicians always say they'll fight for this or they'll fight for that. Well, I've been in the military, and I know what fighting is. With all this fighting, it's no wonder we're so polarized between Democrats and Republicans."
Reese, who is pursuing his degree in business administration from the University of Phoenix, said he learned from almost three decades in the military that the only way to get most things done is through the team approach.

House District 78: Molly McKay is a patent attorney; her everyday work is with creative and innovative entrepreneurs. McKay has had her own practice since 1994. She earned her law degree in a night program. Before going into law, McKay worked in industry as an analytical chemist. She has served as president of the University of Tulsa Alumni Association and the Florence Park South Neighborhood Association. Here's the Tulsa Beacon's profile of Molly McKay.

I always have grand plans for election years: An entry on each race, setting out at length my reasons for one candidate over another, for voting for or against a ballot proposition. In years past, I've had much more time than I have this year for writing. So here we are two weeks from the election, and I've received a few polite inquiries from readers who have absentee ballots in hand and are unsure about a few of the dozens of votes they have to cast.

While I still hope to crank out some specific stories on specific races, here's the short version, the who and what, not the why.

Federal, state, and county races: Vote for the Republican. I don't always endorse the Republican nominee, but for all the races I've looked at this year, the Republican is by far the better candidate.

Judicial races (Tulsa/Pawnee Counties): Vote for the Republican challenger -- John Eagleton, Bill Musseman, Jon Patton. All three are listed first on the ballot. (If you live in a different judicial district and would like me to look up the candidates' voter registration, post a comment or shoot me an email.)

Judicial retention (Appeals Courts, Supreme Court): Vote no, and let our new conservative Republican governor fill the vacancies. (I always vote no without a compelling reason to vote yes.)

State questions: No on the fours -- 744, 754. Yes on everything else. (By the way, I think the author of the ballot language indulged in a bit of editorializing on some of the questions.)

744 (school funding tied to other states): No.
746 (voter ID): Yes.
747 (term limits for all statewide officials): Yes.
748 (composition of apportionment commission): Yes.
750 (consistent signature requirements for initiative petitions): Yes.
751 (official state actions in English): Yes.
752 (composition of judicial nominating commission): Yes.
754 (unamendable amendment on appropriation formulas ban on predetermined formulas for spending): No.
755 (courts can't consider sharia, international law in decisions): Yes.
756 (ban on Obamacare coercion): Yes.
757 (rainy day fund increase): Yes.

City of Tulsa propositions: Yes on both.

1 (city rainy day fund): Yes.
2 (fix schedule problem created by 3-year staggered council terms): Repeal would be better -- back to 2 year terms and fall, odd-year elections -- but this fix is better than the expense of funding a separate city election infrastructure.

Be the wave!

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It's highly entertaining to watch the approach of what appears to be the biggest political wave in a generation. It's fun to watch once-safe incumbents blow a gasket, demonstrate general cluelessness, or show their complete insensitivity to the problems and concerns that face their constituents. A political junkie could easily while away the day scouring the blogs for the latest news from more than 100 competitive House and Senate races.

But a political wave isn't a force of nature like a hurricane or a tsunami, a power too great to be affected by human actions. In fact, a political wave is just an aggregate of individual voter responses to the actions of candidates, parties, media, volunteers, and other voters. To push the meteorological analogies a little further: Not every tornado watch turns into a tornado warning. Conditions may be favorable for tornadoes to form, but other factors have to be at work to cause a tornado to appear. In the case of a political wave, the factors that will make the difference between a fizzle and a flood are in our hands.

There are many congressional districts this year where a smart, accomplished Republican is challenging an arrogant incumbent Democrat who is out of sync with his district. Despite a massive generic ballot advantage, Republicans will not win each of those seats. A challenger needs funds and manpower in order to introduce himself to the voters, to establish himself as a credible candidate, and to connect his opponent to the mess in Washington. That means that you and I need to get involved. We need to invest our time and treasure in making the wave happen.

Ace, head ewok at Ace of Spades HQ, wasn't content with merely chronicling the 2010 Demplosion, so he has challenged his fellow bloggers to get out from behind the keyboard and to organize and lead get-out-the-vote (GOTV) efforts across the country. He understands that it's the ground game that makes it possible for an insurgent challenger to beat an incumbent. He's hoping that the social aspect.

To help organize the effort, FreedomWorks has created BeTheWave2010.com. Register (it's free) and you can look over the map for Be the Wave events across the country. Find one close to you, sign up, help a great candidate, and have fun getting to know your fellow activists.

As busy as I am with family, work, and blogging, it would be easy to justify staying behind the keyboard, but from years of volunteering, I know how much person-to-person contact matters. So I've set a date and a time -- Saturday, October 30, 12 noon to 6 pm -- for a BatesLine Be the Wave event. The place is still TBD, but it will be somewhere within a short drive of Tulsa. We'll gather at noon for a bite to eat, we'll get our marching orders and materials and hit the streets. At the end of the day, we'll report back in, then find someplace nearby to swap stories over a dutch-treat dinner.

I've set up an event on Eventbrite. If you're interested and available on October 30, please sign up, so I can get a sense of the level of interest. You'll get updates as details are firmed up.

(Are you already volunteering for a candidate? Tell us all about it in the comments below.)

See the wave...

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Polling numbers, indications of voter enthusiasm, and the panicked reactions of Democratic incumbents all suggest that 2010 could be one of the greatest "wave elections" in decades. Could it be the greatest ever?

There have been a few major waves in recent history. The post-Watergate wave of 1974 -- a Dem pickup of 49 in the House and 5 in the Senate -- didn't change control of Congress, but it gave Democrats two-thirds of the House and a 61-seat cloture-proof majority in the Senate that lasted until the middle of Jimmy Carter's term. The 1980 wave not only elected Ronald Reagan, but gave the GOP a gain of 11 Senate seats and the majority in either house for the first time in a quarter-century.

1994 was the next big wave for the Republicans -- 9 Senate seats, 54 House seats. The next comparable Democrat wave took two cycles to complete, in 2006 and 2008, gaining 54 House seats and 13 Senate seats.

Information Please has a helpful chart of the composition of Congress by political party from the birth of the Republican Party in 1854 to the present. (It differs in places from the seat counts given in Wikipedia articles on specific elections.)

Other big shifts: 1874 (House: D+93, marking the end of Reconstruction?), 1882 (House; D+70), 1890 (House: D+75, R-85), 1910 (House: D+56), 1912 (House: D+62), 1914 (House: R+66), 1920 (Senate: R+9, House: R+63), 1922 (Senate: R-8, House: R-75).

The biggest House sweep of the 20th century was the 1932 election, headlined by Franklin Roosevelt vs. Herbert Hoover -- the GOP lost 101 seats in the House and 12 seats in the Senate. After two more elections (1934, 1936) there were only 88 House Republicans and 16 GOP senators. But 10 years later, after 1946, Republicans were back in control of both houses (1946, House: R+55, Senate: R+12); but the majority collapsed two years later (1948, House: D+75, Senate: D+9).

The biggest Senate switch I could find: In 1958 Democrats picked up 16 Senate seats, defeating 10 Republican incumbents. The Democrats also picked up 49 House seats. The Democrats came close to having a 2/3rds majority in both houses; by 1964, they had that 2/3rds, plus the presidency, and we still suffer from the resulting destruction of America's urban social and physical fabric.

The biggest House switch ever was in 1894, in the midst of a severe depression and labor unrest, including massive rail strike. The Republican Party picked up 130 seats, and the Democrats lost 125.

How big will the 2010 wave be? At the moment, conservative projections are on par with 1994. The latest Real Clear Politics House map has 37 D seats in the leans or likely GOP column, bringing them close to a majority, and another 40 D seats are rated tossups. Only 123 of 255 Democrat seats -- less than half -- are considered safe, while only 15 of the 178 Republican seats are even slightly in jeopardy. The Senate map looks better for the Democrats; Republicans would need all three likely or leaning seats (PA, WI, IN), plus all five toss-ups (CA, CO, IL, NV, WV), plus two more from the leaning or likely D columns.

Cook Political Report is predicting a Republican gain of at least 40 seats in the House, and 7 to 9 seats in the Senate. Rothenberg Political Report currently predicts a Senate gain of 6 to 8 seats. He puts 33 D seats in the likely, leans, or toss-up/tilts Republican columns, 16 D seats are "pure toss-ups." Rothenburg categorizes 91 D seats and 9 R seats "in play." Larry Sabato's Crystal Ball shows an 8-9 seat Senate shift and R+47 in the House. Of course, all of these predictions bear the qualification, "if the election were held today."

The analysts' number-crunching is fascinating in its way, but it doesn't give you a sense of excitement as the wave builds. It's the difference between a series of barometric pressure readings that shows a hurricane approaching and video of the high winds and heavy rain.

There are a few nationally-prominent blogs that will give you a sense of the building wave. These blogs are covering the specifics of hot House and Senate races from coast-to-coast, with clips of campaign commercials and key candidate confrontations. They're watching closely as the DNC, DCCC, and the DSCC move resources out of seats once considered salvageable and into seats once thought to be safe Democrat.

A fair warning: Some of these blogs are targeted to an adult audience and may contain inappropriate language and possibly creepy ewok photoshops. The links below mean that I find these sites entertaining and informative reading. The links do not constitute a blanket endorsement of everything the linked blogger has ever said, written, done, or thought. Here there be monsters. (Having met all of them at BlogCon or other events, I will vouch that they're nice monsters, and they're on the right side.)

Ace of Spades HQ has been profiling competitive races, showing awkward clips of arrogant, entrenched incumbents on the defensive (like this recent clip of Maurice Hinchey (D-NY-22)), and featuring some eye-popping scenario maps of the coming "Demplosion" (look for posts by/references to CAC).

Not only is Ace helping readers to see the wave, he's urging readers and fellow bloggers to be the wave -- provide conservative challengers with the manpower they need to beat the advantages of entrenched incumbency. He's leading by example, spending Saturday phone-banking for Sean Bielat, who is trying to beat Barney Frank in MA-4.

Stacy McCain is an old-school, shoe-leather reporter, currently traveling on a shoestring with Pete Da Tech Guy Ingemi to report on competitive races in the northeastern US. They started with MA-4, close to home for Da Tech Guy, and are currently passing through NY-22 and NY-25, interviewing candidates, talking to volunteers, and generally trying to get a sense of the state of play. Meanwhile, Stacy's co-blogger Smitty is keeping an eye on Jim Moran (D-VA-08), one of the most deserving retirees-to-be.

HotAir and The Right Scoop are great sources for the latest video clips from the campaign.

Jimmie Bise provides great analysis over at The Sundries Shack. Tulsa conservatives will appreciate a recent piece: The Chamber of Commerce Is Not Necessarily Our Friend:

More importantly, though, is the point that the Chamber of Commerce is pro-business, not pro-small government. That's an important distinction that many conservatives forget to make. The GOP has gotten itself into a world of hurt backing businesses with intrusive legislation that favors some businesses while throttling others, or favoring businesses over the rights and freedoms of individuals operating in a free market. Michelle Malkin is working off the very same page this morning, with a link-filled post that shows the distinction very clearly. I recommend her post, and the links she provides, as required reading this morning.

The approaching wave is an impressive sight, but unlike a literal wave, we have it in our power to make this wave bigger. Stay tuned.

In case you missed it, there's a new documentary out about the musical legacy of western swing legend Bob Wills. The film, Bob Wills Ain't Dead was featured in a story by Joshua Blevins Peck in the September 22, 2010, issue of Urban Tulsa Weekly. Filmmaker Drew Wilson went around the country talking to musicians who worked with Wills and musicians who were influenced by him.

That kind of loose-limbed, off-the-cuff, made-by-one-guy aesthetic runs throughout Bob Wills Ain't Dead. It's a collection of performances of Wills' music and conversations with youngsters, oldsters, regular people, unknown and famous musicians such as Haggard, Dwight Yoakam, Ray Benson and various Texas Playboys. There's flashier and more produced material on Wills but Wilson's sincere love for his subject is evident throughout the documentary.

Just what made Wills the legendary figure he's become? Known as the "King of Western Swing," Wills was the originator of what would evolve into western swing. Wills' western swing was a new musical innovation, a mash-up of styles such as country, swing and blues while giving it a good beat to make it "swing."

"Nobody put all that music together before Bob did. He was like a musical Da Vinci," Wilson said. "Merle Haggard says in the documentary that he didn't know what celebrity was as he was growing up -- there was Joe Louis, Franklin Roosevelt and Bob Wills."

Here's the trailer for the film. Tulsans (particularly those in the fiddling community) will see a lot of familiar faces: Bob Fjeldsted, Larry Schaefer, Rick Morton, Shelby Eicher, Roy Clark, Jana Jae, Regina Scott, to name a few.

The UTW story mentions that Bob left Tulsa for California in the 1940s. Although Tulsa was where he first made it big, he spent most of his career elsewhere -- California in the '40s and into the '50s, Texas and Las Vegas in the late '50s and '60s. But there was a return, around 1957, when, for a couple of years, Bob Wills reunited the Texas Playboys with brother Johnnie Lee Wills and His Boys. Johnnie Lee had taken over the daily KVOO radio show and the weekly dances at Cain's after Bob's departure for the west.

According to this story, the Bob Wills family lived in Johansen Acres -- between Sheridan and Memorial south of 21st St, and during that time his daughter Carolyn graduated from Nathan Hale High School.

Carolyn Wills visited Tulsa recently to explore the idea of a swing school and museum here honoring her father. The concept behind the swing school is intriguing:

The swing school is not a fiddle camp; it's a music camp where young students learn Western swing music and the technique of playing in a band, with improvisation, she said.

Members of the Texas Playboys always told her of her father: "You just better be ready to play when he pointed that bow at you."

Carolyn Wills wrote a tribute to her dad in the July 2010 issue of Cowboys & Indians magazine, and it includes some insight into the band's costume evolution from preppy sweaters to business suits to Western wear.

....From 1934 through 1938, Bob Wills appeared in a tailored double-breasted suit and polished custom-made boots, and the Texas Playboys dressed in business suits, white shirts, and neckties. They were on their way to becoming the largest and most famous Western band in the history of America, and their increasingly familiar image announced the dawning of "Western chic."

In 1939, my father and Mr. O.W. Mayo started the annual Bob Wills Stampede (Rodeo) in Tulsa and it was then that the Texas Playboys began to dress Western: cowboy dress shirts and Western pants, bolo or standard ties or Western scarves, vests or Western-cut sports coats, and cowboy boots with pants tucked in or out. Nowhere were there sequins, appliqu├ęs, floppy lapels, or loud colors. As the bandleader, Bob Wills became known for his trademark cowboy hat, boots, and Roi-Tan cigar. He usually wore a light-colored Stetson with a medium crease and slightly folded edges. A hat pushed too far back or pulled down to hide a man's eyes was not acceptable....

For the magazine's online presence, Carolyn put together a playlist of her father's favorite songs and her own.

MORE: Drew Wilson spoke about his documentary on the September 23, 2010, edition of KWGS Studio Tulsa.

On Friday, Oklahoma Superintendent of Public Instruction Sandy Garrett spoke to CapitolBeatOK regarding the decision by several Tulsa-area school boards not to obey House Bill 3393, the Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarships for Students with Disabilities Program Act.

"When I took office as Superintendent of Public Instruction, I swore an oath to obey federal and state laws. I have sought every day to uphold that promise. Whether or not I like a particular law is not material. It is my job to obey the law and to implement it.

"The way I look at it, the local officials on these boards of education who have acted not to comply, or to prevent implementation of this program in their districts, are not fulfilling their duties.

"I believe they are in violation of their oaths of office. This law was passed, and implemented in a timely manner by the state.

"To be clear, in my work every day there are laws I don't necessarily agree with but which I am required to carry out."

Garrett concluded, "I think these school board members have been ill-advised."

Garrett is retiring at the end of this year after more than 20 years as State Superintendent.

An October 6, 2010, CapitolBeatOK story has some interesting details about the scholarship program and the number of students involved:

The Oklahoma program is similar to laws in Florida and Georgia that have easily withstood legal challenges. The Florida program has been in place since 1999 and now serves approximately 20,000 students with special needs. The scholarship program was designed not to require new spending, but to redirect existing state funds that are currently spent on the student.

School officials claimed the transfers authorized by the scholarship program would somehow harm their financial standing, but only seven students have applied for the scholarships at Jenks and eight at Broken Arrow, according to the Tulsa World. Both schools are among the largest in the state.

Somehow I don't think it will take the law firm of Rosenstein, Fist, and Ringold much time to burn through the amount of money that would cover such a small number of scholarships.

tulseys_logo_head.pngThe third annual Tulseys are coming up on November 18, and voting is underway. Anyone can vote. (I'm not sure when it ends.)

Someone (I don't know who) nominated me this year for the interactive category. I'm surprised and honored to be named in such impressive company. The 2009 winner was Natasha Ball of Tasha Does Tulsa.

Interactive is one of the largest categories with eight nominees. It's aimed at "[r]ecognizing an entrepreneur involved in designing, building, managing, maintaining, marketing, promoting Websites, Interactive Advertising, Interactive Games, Online Film & Video, and Mobile content for business, consumer or general audiences." The other nominees are Michael Mason of This Land Press, Matt Galloway of Architactile, Cheryl Lawson of Party Aficionado, James Millaway of Carpe Consiliatum, Gerald Buckley of Grocio.com, Ryan Phillips of Phillips360, and Sarah Roe of MoneySavingQueen.com.

From the "About" page:

We recognize the vital importance of entrepreneurs to influence our quality of life, impact Tulsa's economic strength and inspire us to reach for something more. The Tulseys is designed to engage the Tulsa Metro region in a publicly nominated and voted on entrepreneurial awards celebration.

We are looking for entrepreneurial visionaries, game changers and rule breakers.
The third annual Tulsey Awards will recognize the heroes, pioneers and innovators of the Tulsa Metro region....

On November 18, 2010, The Tulseys will recognize and celebrate ten inspirational Tulsa entrepreneurs, along with a special appearance from the winner of the 2010 SpiritBank/Tulsa Community College Entrepreneurial Spirit Award, at the world-famous Cain's Ballroom. The Tulseys awards celebration is the climax event of the 2010 Tulsa Global Entrepreneurship Week. You will not want to miss this MTV Music- and Webby Awards-inspired celebration. Plan to attend this public event on November 18, 2010, from 7-11 p.m. There is no cost to attend.

Nominees were asked to provide responses to several questions; about half did so. You can read some of my answers on the voting page when you click my name. For posterity, you can see all of my answers (with the questions that prompted them) on the jump page here.

I hope you'll click through and click the names on the ballot. You'll learn about some interesting Tulsans engaged in innovative pursuits. (And if you choose to vote for me, thank you very much for the honor.)

Keeping kosher in Tulsa

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In case you missed it, Joseph Hamilton, restaurant reviewer for Urban Tulsa Weekly had a cover story last week that at least partly answered a question I've long pondered: how would one go about keeping kosher in Tulsa?

I'm a brother of Zeta Beta Tau, which was founded as a Jewish fraternity in 1898, but became non-sectarian in 1954. During my years at MIT, about a third of our chapter's brothers were Jewish. It was interesting to notice the various levels of observance, particularly regarding dietary laws. Several brothers had a kosher kitchen set up in the basement, and they took turns cooking for each other. Just a few blocks from our house, on Harvard Street in Brookline, you could find a variety of shops offering kosher food. A number of brothers who came from less observant homes started to keep kosher and to adopt a more observant way of life while in college. But many of the Jewish brothers ate the same food as the rest of us; alternative entrees were available when pork was the main dish.

Hamilton's story does a good job of explaining that keeping kosher goes beyond avoiding pork and shellfish. It affects the appliances and utensils you use in cooking, your dishes, and the way in which meat is prepared. It is a challenging and complex way of life and requires careful thought and planning.

It also requires nearby merchants who can provide kosher ingredients. So are there kosher butchers and kosher delis in Tulsa? Is it practical to keep kosher in Tulsa?

But Rabbi [Marc] Fitzerman of B'nai Emunah said no one should have trouble finding kosher foods.

"Kosher-supervised goods are widely available in every part of the country," he said. "This is a fast-growing part of the economy; with many people who are not Jewish themselves seeking out kosher goods on the assumption that supervision insures greater quality. The challenge is almost always kosher meat.

"Many markets in Tulsa carry it, and the Synagogue always stocks products for the sake of convenience. But like many smaller communities, we don't have a local kosher butcher who can supply fresh goods. I hope that the Synagogue will eventually be able to remedy that problem, but it's a work in progress."

Rabbi Charles Sherman of Temple Israel said that because of the almost total lack of kosher restaurants and a decided lack of a Jewish neighborhood and temples within walking distance, Orthodox Jews simply don't move to Tulsa. Keeping an Orthodox and kosher lifestyle is an almost unachievable goal in anything other than the most austere of circumstances.

Others in the Jewish community echo his sentiments by saying without hesitation that there are no places in Tulsa that accommodate the kosher community well and no kosher-only meat markets at all. Even travelers passing through Tulsa planning to stick with a kosher diet have to pack their bags with a few of their own foods. The Tulsa International Airport only offers retail packaged items that are certified kosher.

I was pleased to see that Hamilton spoke to Rabbi Yehuda Weg of the Chabad House, home to Tulsa's often-overlooked third synagogue, Beth Torah. Temple Israel, a Reform congregation, and B'nai Emunah of the Conservative denomination have been around for 96 and 94 years respectively. Chabad, a branch of Hasidic Judaism, has only been in Tulsa since 1988, the first Orthodox presence in the city since B'nai Emunah moved into the Conservative fold some decades ago. Unlike the two older congregations, Beth Torah doesn't have a large and elaborate physical plant; they are based in a 1940s farmhouse on a couple of acres, tucked back in a neighborhood. It would have been interesting to read Rabbi Weg's advice to those seeking to keep kosher in Tulsa.

MORE about Jewish history in Tulsa and Oklahoma:

Wikipedia's list of synagogues in Oklahoma, including inactive synagogues in Ardmore, Enid, Chickasha, and Hartshorne.

"Jews" article in Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture: The Jewish population in Oklahoma peaked at 7,500 in the 1920s, was about 5,000 at the 2000 census.

Part 1 of Tulsa's Jewish Pioneers, which notes that in the 1910s, there were two kosher butchers -- one at Main, Boulder, and Haskell, and one on 9th between Cincinnati and Detroit.

Meats 2 U: A shop at B'nai Emunah offering kosher meat.

Wikipedia article on Jewish religious movements, explaining the differences between Reform, Conservative, Orthodox, and other movements

Thanks to the folks at BlogAds, BatesLine is now offering banner ads. Your ad will appear at the top of every page. Or you can buy fractions of page impressions in 10% increments. Banner images can be as large as 728x90 pixels.

The cost for this high-visibility spot is just $20 a day for 100% of page views, with a three-day minimum. For a mere $6, your ad would be seen by 10% of page views for three days.

The traditional BatesLine sidebar ad is still available, with prices starting at $30 a week. There are discounts for longer-term ads.

If you're a candidate in search of voters, donors, and volunteers, you'll want to advertise on BatesLine. Advertising with BatesLine is an affordable way to get your message in front of Tulsa and Oklahoma opinion leaders and active voters.

While BatesLine draws strong traffic throughout the year, it soars in the weeks and days just before an election, as voters seek information on candidates and state questions. In July 2010, leading up to the state primary, BatesLine served 237,954 pages, according to awstats.

For all the details about advertising on BatesLine, click the links above, or drop me an email at the address in the left sidebar.

Tonight the board of Tulsa Public Schools will discuss whether to join Jenks, Union, Bixby, Broken Arrow and other area school districts in disobeying a new state law, HB 3393, the Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarships for Students with Disabilities Program Act, which provides scholarships to meet the special educational needs of students with autism, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, and other disabilites. From the text of HB 3393, as signed by the governor:

The Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarships for Students with Disabilities Program is established to provide a scholarship to a private school of choice for students with disabilities for whom an individualized education program (IEP) in accordance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) has been developed. Scholarships shall be awarded beginning with the 2010-2011 school year.

The parent or legal guardian of a public school student with a disability may exercise their parental option and request to have a Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarship awarded for the child to enroll in and attend a private school in accordance with this section....

School districts are required to award the scholarship if the applying student was at a public school the previous year, and the student has been accepted at an eligible private school. The amount of the scholarship is the private school tuition or the amount of state aid and local revenue allocated for that student, which ever is lower. The school district can retain 5% of the scholarship amount to cover the cost of administering the program.

On his blog, the House author of the bill, Rep. Jason Nelson (R-Oklahoma City), rebuts the claims made by the school districts:

The cost of the scholarships is covered in the law. The Tulsa area districts act as if the funding for the student stops when they transfer on a scholarship and that the district must find the money to pay the scholarship on their own. That is not the case.

The BALedger.com reports that Doug Mann, the school board attorney for Broken Arrow, claims that HB 3393 "can get very expensive very quickly." The story goes on to quote Mann, "The fact of the matter is that the program that that child was in still has to be funded but it now has less funding for that program."

What districts are not mentioning is that the money for the scholarship is fully funded. The district keeps 5% of the scholarship amount to cover administrative costs. In addition to that, the district can continue to count the transferring student for funding purposes for up to two years after the transfer to allow them to absorb their fixed costs. Added to all this money comes less expense because they have one less student.

The reality here is that school districts lose the funding for each student that transfers out of their district after two years even if the student transfers to another school district or to a private or home school setting. However, under HB 3393 the districts retains 5% of the scholarship amount that they would not receive for any other transfer.

House Bill 3393 is a win-win. School districts are protected financially and will have smaller class room sizes with each student that transfers with a scholarship. Most importantly the children benefit because they have more options so they can find and receive the very best education services for their particular special need.

Rep. Nelson has been blogging up a storm on this issue, publishing emails from parents of special-needs kids who tell of their struggles with these very school districts; for example, this email from a Jenks parent:

Jenks is currently being audited by the Office of Civil Rights for violating ADA laws and a list of Special Education Laws that they are in noncompliance. ...

Jenks also has a reputation for interpreting the law so that they don't have to offer services and/or water the services down so it is very minimal. They also are in violation of offering the same services to all students rather than individualized as required by law.

Jenks spends a unbelievable amount of money to keep the law firm on retainer because Jenks does not follow the law. I wonder what the public would say if they knew how much of our schools tax dollars went to pay the law firm? If the tax payers had a say in whether that money went to the law firm or the general education fund I know they would say the money should go to our kids! It is disgusting how much money the law firm gets.

It is ridiculous that Jenks insists that they educate and care about their special education kids. Since we [have been in Jenks] my [child] has regressed two years. They have such low expectations and do very little to increase their intelligence and more to teach the kids "life skills".

One law firm, Rosenstein Fist Ringold, provides legal services to Tulsa, Jenks, Broken Arrow, Union, Bixby, and, until Monday, Skiatook. The Skiatook board voted 3-2 to dismiss the firm and seek new representation, following a grand jury recommendation. The firm has represented the Tulsa district going back at least as far as the 1970 Federal racial desegregation lawsuit. An attorney for the firm, Doug Mann, has said that he is "expecting -- almost hoping" that lawsuits will be filed against the school districts over the scholarship issue, according to a Fox 23 report.

One of the attorneys at RFR is Matthew Ballard. Keith Ballard is superintendent of the Tulsa district, and his bio mentions a son named Matthew who is an attorney in Tulsa.

The Tulsa school board meets tonight, Wednesday, October 13, 2010, at 5:30 pm, at the Education Service Center, north of 31st St. on New Haven Ave. (New Haven is the traffic light between Harvard and Yale.) If you care about giving children with disabilities the education they need, or if you just care about the school district spending money on education instead of lawyers, show up and let the school board know how you feel.

MORE: The State Department of Education's page on the Lindsey Nicole Henry Scholarship for Students with Disabilities Program, with a list of participating schools.

Who is backing the latest effort to dilute grassroots influence over City Hall?

I took the list of 23 names in the list of Save Our Tulsa steering committee members in John Brock's email and did some research.

According to recent voter registration records, the median age is of Save Our Tulsa is 75. According to the county assessor's records, the median property value of the residences of the named steering committee members is $586,350. Here's a map showing where they live, based on voter registration and county assessor records:

View Save Our Tulsa (SOT) in a larger map

You'll notice a dense cluster of SOTs live in the wealthy section of midtown, aka the Money Belt. The map correlates well with the PLANiTULSA / Collective Strength survey from 2008 that showed Midtowners feeling more understood by city leaders and more included in the city planning process than north, west, and east Tulsans. It would seem that the SOTs don't know very many Tulsans from other parts of the city.

Many of these same people supported Tulsans for Better Government, the earlier push for at-large councilors, and Coalition for Responsible Government, the group that unsuccessfully attempted to recall Councilors Jim Mautino and Chris Medlock.

There are a few outliers. That dot in far east Tulsa is Shane Fernandez, a former chairman of TYpros, the Tulsa Metro Chamber young professionals' organization that ran the grassroots ypTulsa out of business. But according to assessor's records he and his wife (also a former TYpros chair) are also the owners of a home near 29th and Cincinnati.

Way up north, you find a dot for Pleas Thompson in Gilcrease Hills. Thompson was (or is?) head of the local chapter of the NAACP. Given the NAACP's role in moving Tulsa to district representation, it's strange that Thompson would lend his name to an effort that would dilute geographical representation with at-large council members.

Two (possibly three) SOTs are not Tulsa residents.

The dot in far south Broken Arrow (not even close to Tulsa) is former Whirled editorial page editor Ken Neal. Having spent decades espousing bad ideas for Tulsa, most of which were enthusiastically adopted (e.g. urban renewal), he has retired to a city that was fortunate to escape his influence.

Way up north in Owasso, in one of the Bailey Ranch subdivisions, that's Bishop Donald O. Tyler, pastor of Greater Grace Apostolic Church. The bishop moves around: In 2008, Tyler and his wife Marcia were registered to vote at an address in the Greens at Cedar Ridge in Broken Arrow; assessor records show the Tylers sold the house in 2008. Through most of 2009, Donald O'Neil Tyler Sr. was registered to vote in precinct 182 in south Tulsa; his wife Marcia was still registered at that address as of August 2010.

The Tylers do at least own a piece of Tulsa: Assessor records indicate that they bought about 12 acres of undeveloped land just southwest of Mohawk Park in December 2008. (He seems to have been registered to vote for the first half of this year at an address intended to correspond to this piece of property. There's nothing on it except a mailbox with his name and the house number, but the Postal Service and the city say the address doesn't exist. The mystery of a seemingly bogus address in the voter record, corresponding to the city water treatment plant, and the confusion of two roads with similar names, took some effort to unravel; it deserves an entry of its own.)

There is a James Alfred Light registered to vote on W. College St in Broken Arrow, but there's also a James Light that claims homestead on a house in Florence Park. I placed his dot at the latter location. My guess is that he lives in Florence Park but hasn't yet changed his registration. Then again, they could be two different Lights.


On Monday, October 11, 2010, KWGS aired a Studio Tulsa interview with John Brock. Again, he never cites a specific example of ward politics. Brock says that the Council should set policy and pass ordinances but not try to run the city. He also hopes that the elimination of party primaries will mean that more moderate candidates will be elected; primaries encourage extreme candidates to be nominated, according to Brock. Brock claims that having separate city elections puts the council under the control of "special interests," although he never says what those special interests are.

Rich Fisher seemed a bit confused about election dates under the current provisions of the charter, which is understandable. Currently, a city election cannot happen a week out of sync with a state election. That happened a few times in the past, usually when a spring city election was a week off from a school board election or presidential primary. But when we approved moving elections to the fall of odd-numbered years, we specified that the elections would be held on the dates authorized by state statute (26 O.S. 3-101) in September and November. In 2009, when voters approved the ill-conceived staggered council terms, a conflict was created -- no election date is authorized in September of even-numbered years. A further change on this year's ballot will fix that problem by moving the primary in even years to August.

I certainly hope that KWGS will allow an opponent of SOT's proposals to appear on Studio Tulsa. Tulsa voters should hear the downside of these amendments before they're asked to sign petitions; perhaps we can avoid an expensive and acrimonious election battle.

Also on Monday, KOTV's Emory Bryan spoke to John Brock, head of SOT. One aim seems pretty clear -- keep debate on public matters out of the public eye. (Video after the jump.)

Now the Council has been complaining, justifiably, that the Mayor will not talk to them. When he's on the Council as the Chairman, he will have to talk with them, and we believe that will create an environment where they will all hash things out before they get to the newspapers.

Marian Opala, associate justice of the Oklahoma Supreme Court, has died at the age of 89. He will be missed.

Opala was born in Poland, fought against Germany in the Polish Army and the Resistance, captured in the Warsaw Uprising, and imprisoned in Flossenburg Concentration Camp. After the camp was liberated, Opala met an Army captain from Oklahoma, who encouraged him to come to the US. He studied law at OCU and NYU, served as administrative director for the Oklahoma State Court system for 9 years, and as a worker's compensation judge for a year. Gov. David Boren appointed him to the State Supreme Court in 1978.

Opala's commitment to freedom, forged in the face of Nazi oppression, expressed itself throughout his years on the Supreme Court. In 2002, Freedom of Information Oklahoma named its annual 1st Amendment award in his honor:

The author of numerous legal papers, Opala is an adjunct professor in three law schools, a frequent lecturer at various national judicial and legal education programs and was recipient of the 1997 Oklahoma Bar Association's Award for Judicial Excellence.

In 2006, the State Supreme Court voted to uphold a referee's decision to toss out the Taxpayer Bill of Rights petition. The case was not heard by the Supreme Court; only Opala raised a protest. At the time I wrote:

In July [2006], the Supreme Court voted to strike down the Taxpayers Bill of Rights (TABOR) petition for an inadequate number of signatures.

Although TABOR's backers gathered 80,000 more signatures than were required, the Court's referee claimed that 81,000 signatures were gathered by circulators who were not "qualified electors," a term that refers to any adult residing in the state of Oklahoma, whether registered to vote or not. The Supreme Court affirmed the referee's assertions without hearing oral arguments from the petition's supporters.

Whether a professional circulator living in a motel room should count as a qualified elector is a matter for the Legislature to address. The law doesn't specify a requirement for length of residency or quality of housing. Whether TABOR is a good idea or not, the Supreme Court should have taken up the issue and heard arguments for both sides, rather than letting a referee make the decision.

Only Marian Opala, out of the nine justices, insisted that the proponents of the petition be given their day in court.

The decision is suspicious in light of the fact that the same company, National Voter Outreach, had circulated nearly every successful initiative petition in Oklahoma in recent years, including anti-cockfighting and gasoline tax initiatives. NVO's procedures had never before been invalidated. The Court effectively changed the rules in the middle of the game.

The difference, in this case, is that the same powerful business groups who supported the gas tax hike oppose TABOR. The right to initiative petition was enshrined in our state constitution to allow the voters to bypass a legislature in thrall to entrenched special interests. This ruling sends the message to the 300,000 Oklahoma voters who signed the TABOR petition is that you have that right only as long as the entrenched special interests don't object.

As our only resort against this trampling of the state constitution, Oklahomans should vote to keep Justice Marian Opala and to get rid of the rest.

Opala served a brief term as Chief Justice in the early 1990s. In 2005, when it was his turn in the rotation, the other eight justices changed the rules to allow the then-Chief Justice to continue for an unprecedented second term. Opala filed a federal suit, which was ultimately unsuccessful. At the time, Opala explained to the Journal Record his passion for the law:

"Judges owe their utmost allegiance to the majesty of the law and not to institutional interests," said Opala. "I'm very much committed and in love with this nation's constitutional order. That's what fires me up. - We protect everybody. We protect the government from abuse by individuals, we protect the individual from abuse by the government, and we protect corporations from abuse by both. That's our system: protect everybody, not just some people. And that's the job I love.

"When I grew up, I was not protected by a constitutional order such as ours," said Opala. "I grew up between Hitler and Stalin, neither of whom cared about the law. That's the reason for my passion for the orderly process of law. Who else but a foreigner would have that passion?"

There they go again.

Many of the same people involved in the attempt to recall Tulsa City Councilors Jim Mautino and Chris Medlock, many of the same people involved in Tulsans for Better Government (the group promoting at-large councilors) -- they're on the list of named members of a group called Save Our Tulsa, which has filed three initiative petitions for city charter changes. Someone forwarded to me an email that he had apparently received from John Brock, head of SOT, in which he outlines the proposals, explains his misdiagnosis (in my opinion) of Tulsa's ills, and lists the members of the steering committee. Here's the whole thing:

Dear Concerned Tulsa Citizen,

This is a letter to people who love Tulsa and want it to remain the best place in the world to live. It is obvious that our city government has become ineffective. We believe that our form of government is basically flawed and must be changed to have our Tulsa Government work again.

As a result of this situation, several of us have joined together to present you with an option that we believe will improve our city government structure. We have no political agenda; in fact, our group represents all sides of the political spectrum; Republicans, Democrats, and Independents. The group includes the following steering committee members: former Tulsa Mayors Robert J. LaFortune and James Hewgley, Former City Councilor Robert Gardner, David Blankenship, John Brock, Leonard Eaton, Tom Hughes, Robert Poe, C.T. Thompson, Walt Helmerich, Pat Woodrum, Joe McGraw, Jim Light, Joe Cappy, Chester Cadieux, Pete Meinig, Nancy Meinig, Paula Marshall, Shane Fernandez, Darton Zink, Ken Neal, Pleas Thompson and Bishop Donald Tyler.

We plan to make the following charter changes:

1. Add three at-large members and the Mayor to the City Council and make the Mayor the Chairman. The four will represent the broad interest of the City and not just a council district. The three at large councilors will be elected by all the voters in Tulsa but to maintain geographic diversity they must be a resident of a super district. For example at-large councilor #1 will reside in districts 1, 3 or 4, #2 will reside in district 2, 8 or 9 and #3 will reside in district 5, 6 or 7. The nine council districts will remain unchanged. With the addition of the four at-large seats, the council will then be made up of 13 members (nine district representatives and four at-large). The Mayor will not vote except in case of a tie. The Mayor will appoint the Vice Chairman from the Council. This will improve the Mayor-Council communications and create Team Tulsa.

2. Have all City elections on the same day as State and Federal elections and return all district elections to a two year cycle. This will raise interest and turnout. Currently, Council members are elected with about 10% and sometimes less of the registered voters. Also, it will permit the voters to express their opinion on how the council is doing as a whole. The current system prevents the voters from changing the policies of the City in one election. It costs twice as much money to have an election every year. The money saved will more than pay for the four new at-large councilors.

3. Make City elections non-partisan. The candidates will be able to identify themselves as Democrats or Republicans or any other way but will run against all other candidates in a non-partisan primary. The top two in the primary will meet in the general election guaranteeing the best two candidates for the general election irrespective of party affiliation. This will again increase interest and turn out.

We have created, Save Our Tulsa Inc., a 501c4 corporation. Its sole purpose is to change the City Charter to make our city government more effective. Save Our Tulsa Inc. will not promote or oppose any candidate for public office.

The three initiative petitions will minimize the problems of "ward politics" and will make the transition of the council to a more workable legislative body. The successful accomplishment of the enactment of these petitions will cost an estimated $300,000. A 501c4 corporation is permitted to accept unlimited corporate, foundation, or individual contributions.

If you are interested in making Tulsa a better city, we need your support now. Respond to this e-mail and indicate: 1. if you will permit the use of your name in a similar newspaper ad to show the voters the extent of the support for our Charter amendments, 2. whether you will volunteer to circulate the petitions and 3. Send generous financial contributions to: Save Our Tulsa, 2021 S. Lewis Ave., Suite 415, Tulsa, OK 74104.

Tulsa is a unique City. It is the best place in the World to live and raise children and grandchildren. Let us pledge ourselves, our time and our treasure to keep it that way. Please pass this e-mail on to your friends. Encourage them to join us and to respond as above. Organize your own group for our newspaper ad.

The petitions are effective today. Watch for circulators and sign up. Our website will be coming soon.

Many thanks from all of us,

John Brock

The sight of so many familiar names told me all I needed to know about the group's intentions. Their previous efforts -- recall, at-large councilors, campaign contributions -- have all involved defeating grassroots influence in local politics. These proposals, much like their previous efforts, would make it more difficult for a neighborhood leader or grassroots activist to win a seat on the City Council, more difficult for grassroots candidates to hold a majority on the council.

I get the sense that you should pronounce the group's name with an accent on that second word: Save Our Tulsa. They want to go back to a time when they and their circle of friends decided Tulsa's priorities without any input from the rest of us. I believe it particularly bothers them that most of the councilors owe them nothing and owe everything to the voters in their districts. The SOT plan would make it more expensive to run a winning council campaign, even at the district level, as candidates would be competing for media attention, volunteer time, and small-donor contributions with every other race on the ballot. To win, you'd either need to be personally wealthy or beholden to the SOTs and their pals for sufficient campaign funds.

I don't believe these people are motivated by personal profit. Are they driven by a kind of paternalistic altruism for the rest of Tulsa? Perhaps in a couple of cases, but for the most part, I don't believe they give a thought for the rest of Tulsa. I suspect that they only care about Our Tulsa -- aka the Money Belt.

A follow-up entry will take a look at the list of people cited by John Brock as SOT steering committee members, but here are a few points about the proposals:

We should move back to two-year, uniform council terms, but we should return to the fall of odd-numbered years, as it was before last November's ill-considered charter change to staggered three-year terms. Moving elections to coincide with presidential and gubernatorial elections will deprive Tulsa of the opportunity to focus attention on our city's situation and the best course for its future. With the presidency or a hot U. S. Senate race on the ballot, municipal concerns will get short shrift from the voters. You may have more people voting in city races, but you will have fewer voters who are actually paying attention to city issues. I suspect that, in the minds of the SOTs, that's a feature, not a bug.

At-large is still at-large. In the new proposal, it means that two-thirds of the people picking your representative don't live in your district. The proposed division of districts would make it possible for all three supercouncilors to live in the Money Belt -- the southwest part of District 4, the wealthier sections of 9, 2, and 8, and the southwestern part of 7. Even if you drew a superdistrict with no Money Belt overlap (say 1, 3, and 6), it would still be possible for the SOTs and their allies to find an "acceptable" resident -- parachute them in, if necessary -- in that superdistrict to push in the citywide election.

Having four at-large members of the City Council (the mayor and three supercouncilors) is likely to heighten disagreements, not reduce them. The supercouncilors, having been elected citywide, will be natural rivals for the mayor.

The SOTs are fond of claiming that "ward" politics is the source of our city's problems. I've never seen them give a valid example. The issues that have caused the most strife at City Hall have been issues of citywide importance -- budgets, zoning philosophy, water sales to the suburbs, tax increases, airport shenanigans.

Non-partisan -- no party or descriptive information on the ballot, just a name -- is a bad idea made worse by holding the election with state and federal elections, when people are thinking in terms of Democrat and Republican. Oklahoma voters already have to wrangle both sides of a ballot the size of a bedsheet. Tulsa voters will get one more ballot with five or six races on it, with only names, no helps to remember which candidate was which. A voter so confused may just vote for whoever had the most yard signs or the most TV commercials; again, the SOTs probably consider this a feature, not a bug. A better way is the multi-partisan ballot I've suggested, where candidates could list national party affiliation if the choose, or some locally significant label. A multi-partisan ballot gives voters more information, a non-partisan ballot gives voters less.

The SOTs seem blind to the real source of dysfunction at City Hall: The wrong mayor. The one we have at the moment has alienated all nine members of the City Council, including his own. If the SOTs would help elect a mayor who is:

  • independent -- not likely to be pushed around by the Tulsa Metro Chamber, the homebuilders, or other special interest groups;
  • a collaborative leader -- someone who will work with the council and citizens and seek win-win solutions; not someone who runs roughshod over anyone who stands in her way;
  • someone focused on the priorities of ordinary Tulsans -- public safety, good streets -- not the entertainment needs of the idle rich;

Tulsa city government would be just fine.


(Photoshop kindly provided by ExurbanJon of Exurban League, who had created similar images for Arizona's so-called Blue Dog Democrats, who are, in reality, "Pelosi's Poodles.")

The most important vote a congressman casts is the vote for Speaker. That vote determines who will control committee chairmanships, who will control the staff who write legislation, who will control the legislation that reaches the floor. Whatever marginal good Dan Boren has done with votes on individual bills, he has undone a hundred times over by his votes in 2007 and 2009 to make Nancy Pelosi Speaker of the House and to keep her roster of radical leftists in charge of congressional committees. (UPDATE: Boren also voted for Pelosi in 2005.)

Boren says he's for gun rights and claims to be pro-life, but his vote for speaker keeps gun-grabber, radical pro-abortion John Conyers in control of the Judiciary Committee. Dan Boren has voted to keep Barney Frank, who deserves a great share of the blame in the housing bubble and collapse, in charge of the Financial Services committee. Dan Boren says he's for energy independence and against cap and trade, but he votes to keep radical Henry Waxman, who supports cap-and-tax and opposes expanding energy exploration in the US, in control of energy and climate legislation.

Although Oklahoma's 2nd Congressional District has a long history as a Democrat Party stronghold, the overwhelming majority of its residents are conservative. Every county in the district voted for George W. Bush over John Kerry in 2004 and for John McCain over Barack Obama in 2008.

2nd District voters need to understand that Dan Boren is betraying their values by caucusing with the Democrats in Washington and voting to give left-wing leadership control of the House of Representatives.

There's a great alternative on the 2nd District ballot this year: Republican nominee Charles Thompson, a veterinarian and Army veteran from Hulbert. Not only does Thompson support 2nd Amendment rights, domestic energy exploration, and fiscal sanity, if elected he'll vote for congressional leadership that shares those views.

Thompson is not well-funded, and the pundits don't give him much of a chance to win. But if there was ever an election year when a grassroots candidate in tune with a district's values can beat the money and famous name of an out-of-step incumbent, it's this year. To make it happen, Charles Thompson needs your volunteer time and campaign contributions, so that District 2 voters will get the message that a vote for Dan Boren is a vote for San Fran Nan and her leftist pals to continue to control Congress.

John_Eagleton_District_Judge_2010.pngThis will come as no surprise to anyone: I endorse John M. Eagleton for District Judge, in the election for Judicial District 14, Office No. 9. John Eagleton has the character, temperament, experience, and commitment to the law to serve us well as a District Judge.

Am I biased? John is a good friend of mine, but if he's elected I gain nothing personally, and I would lose the services of my attorney and an ally on the City Council. But I would benefit along with all the citizens of Pawnee and Tulsa Counties (Judicial District 14) to have John Eagleton on the bench.

John and I have known each other since the 2002 city elections, his first run for City Council and my second. He's done legal work for me, and I've done computer work for him. I've helped out with several of his legendary barbecues. I've had the opportunity to see his response to both happy and trying circumstances. John Eagleton is loyal, generous, principled, good-humored, insightful, and hard-working: Those are the character qualities that stand out in my mind.

Eagleton's extensive courtroom experience sets him apart from many attorneys who have sought a judgeship. For the last twenty years, he has handled hundreds of cases, specializing in criminal defense, family law, and general civil litigation, trying cases not only in the Tulsa County Courthouse, but across northeastern Oklahoma. Before hanging out his own shingle, Eagleton served three years as an Assistant District Attorney, giving him experience as a prosecutor to add to his many years as a defense attorney.

Eagleton's work as a City Councilor is well-known. He has served as City Council chairman, vice chairman, and over numerous council committee meetings, maintaining order in often contentious and emotionally charged circumstances.

Eagleton is arguably the most fiscally conservative member of the council, often standing alone for fiscal restraint. Back in 2006 when the city coffers were flush and no one gave a thought to the financial difficulties that were just around a corner, Eagleton proposed limiting spending growth to the growth in population and inflation.

Eagleton opposed plans like the City Hall move, which has proven to be more expensive and financially risky than its supporters promised, and the stadium assessment, a tax on downtown property owners that may yet be overturned by the courts. He was one of only three Tulsa city councilors to oppose the Tulsa County river sales tax, a stand that took courage given the tax's influential supporters and the massive amount of campaign money backing the proposal.

After years of persistent advocacy, Eagleton succeeded in bringing about the implementation of an electronic ticketing system, designed to help our police officers make better use of their time when issuing a citation. The system reduces errors in the traffic citation process, and it gets officers back on the street patrolling as quickly as possible, helping to prevent the property damage and injuries caused by reckless and unlawful driving.

In 2007, Stephen Williamson, CEO of EMSA, Tulsa's ambulance service commended Eagleton: "EMSA's statistics suggest that your work [Eagleton's 2006 proposal to boost traffic enforcement] has led to a significant reduction in the number of crash-related injuries suffered by Tulsans. Quite possibly, your efforts have saved lives."

In the interest of fair treatment for all business owners who seek city contracts and better value for Tulsa taxpayers, Eagleton pushed for funding for the City of Tulsa Disparity Study. No one is well-served if a qualified contractor is barred in some way from competing to do work for the city.

I have not always agreed with John's actions as a councilor, but when we have disagreed, I have always felt sure that his decisions were grounded in principle, not political expediency or personal advantage.

John Eagleton is also a social conservative, solidly pro-life. A committed Christian, Eagleton and his family attend First Presbyterian Church. He is a graduate of the O. W. Coburn School of Law at Oral Roberts University. He became an Eagle Scout in 1972, and he continues to be active in Boy Scouts of America Troop One. He is also an active member of the Tulsa Downtown Kiwanis Club.

Eagleton has been married for nearly 18 years to Alison Eagleton, a captain in the U. S. Navy Reserve and a Nurse Corps officer. Capt. Eagleton was mobilized for participation in Operations Noble Eagle, Enduring Freedom, and Iraqi Freedom in response to the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. In 2009, she was appointed by the Navy Surgeon General to be the reserve perioperative nursing speciality leader. The Councilor and the Captain have two sons, Alex and Mark, who attend Tulsa Public Schools.

In addition to Alison's service in the Navy Reserve, the family supports the military through John Eagleton donation of his time -- more than $20,000 worth of free legal services -- to American sailors and marines being deployed in the Global War on Terror.

Prior to beginning his race for judge, Eagleton was active in local Republican politics, attending county, state, and district conventions, donating his time and money to smoke barbecue for Republican fundraisers, and filing five times as a Republican for City Council. His opponent, a registered independent, is married to a former Democratic county party chairman and two-time Democratic candidate for public office.

Some readers have objected to my mention of the political affiliation of judicial candidates, protesting that the office is non-partisan. Certainly the administration of justice should not be distorted by associational loyalties, whether political, familial, civic, religious, or social.

But there is an ideological battle in this country over the interpretation and application of the law. The conservative approach takes the law at face value, takes the language of constitution and statute as it would have been understood by those who approved it. A conservative judge respects the acts of the legislature -- even when he disagrees with them -- and does not exceed his bounds by legislating from the bench. The only reason to overturn a legislative act is when it contradicts the higher law of our Federal and state constitutions.

There is also a radical approach to law, judicial activism, in which a judge may take it upon herself to set aside the clear meaning of the law and constitution and the intent of those who ratified it if the judge believes the law fails to serve the cause of social progress (as understood by the judge).

Over the last three decades or so, supporters of the radical approach have tended to sort themselves into the Democratic Party, while supporters of the conservative approach have tended to sort themselves into the Republican Party. So it's reasonable to treat party affiliation as a strong indicator of someone's judicial philosophy, in the absence of evidence to the contrary. (Call it a rebuttable presumption.)

Do you want more strict constructionists like Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, and Antonin Scalia on the U. S. Supreme Court? Do you want Federal and state appellate judges who believe in judicial restraint? Are you sick of high court judges who think of themselves as philosopher-kings anointed to propel society in a "progressive" direction over the noisy objections of the majority conservative rabble?

De-radicalizing the judiciary begins at the district court level, even though district judges rarely deal directly with the constitutionality of legislation. District judges are the pool from which state appellate judges and Supreme Court justices are chosen, the pool from which Federal judges are appointed. Deprive a radical of a seat at the county courthouse, and you've cut off her ability to advance to higher courts where there is greater scope for judicial activism. Elect a strict constructionist as district judge, and you've increased the "bench strength" of conservative jurisprudence in America.

John Eagleton's conservative, strict constructionist inclinations are clear. On his website, there is a quote from The Law by Frederic Bastiat: "It is impossible to introduce into society a greater change and a greater evil than this: the conversion of law into an instrument of plunder." His belief in individual liberty and limited government has been evident throughout his years of service as a Republican elected official and his advocacy of fiscal restraint at City Hall.

Eagleton's opponent, Linda Morrissey, is the incumbent in this election. Although Morrissey herself is registered to vote as an independent, her husband, John Nicks, is a former Tulsa County Democratic Party chairman and was a Democratic candidate for Oklahoma Attorney General in 1994 and Tulsa County Commission in 2002. The two younger voters listed at that address, her sons, are also registered Democrats.

In 1992, Morrissey and her husband were listed, along with another judge on this year's ballot, Kurt Glassco, by the political director of the Oklahoma Democratic Party, as expected guests at Bill Clinton's 1993 inaugural gala, an honor typically given to the most fervent supporters of the man who would later become famous for "It depends on what the meaning of the word 'is' is." Her choice not to share the surname of her husband and children may also be regarded as an ideological marker that sets her apart from the traditional views of most of her constituents.

But beyond Morrissey's political and philosophical outlook, a number of Tulsa County residents simply don't consider her a fair or competent judge. Members of courthouseforum.com gave Morrissey an aggregate grade of C, and she has received more votes than any all but one other Tulsa County judge for "Worst Judge of 2010." (CORRECTION: Morrissey is actually in second place in the race for worst.)

Morrissey's rulings have been the subject of a number of significant reversals on appeal, most recently in June 2010; the Court of Civil Appeals ruled that Morrissey's award of $10,000 in attorney fees was not authorized by state law.

At a time when Americans are expecting greater government transparency, Morrissey seems to be moving in the other direction. Earlier this year, Morrissey ordered docket information on two cases -- one involving medical negligence, one involving condemnation -- removed from the Oklahoma State Courts Network website, a move that may well serve as precedent for other judges to block the basic details of cases from public view.

There are more stories to be told, more reversed cases to be reviewed over the next four weeks.

I believe that Linda Morrissey should be turned out of office by Tulsa and Pawnee County voters. I believe that John Eagleton would make an excellent district judge, and I urge you to give him your support and your vote on November 2.

MORE: I've just created a Facebook page for John Eagleton for District Judge -- show your support by clicking that Like button (see above). If you want to show your support in a more traditional way, John Eagleton yard signs are now available.

Following a link to a critical article about Glenn Beck, I came across a blog called Architecture + Morality. The blog's tagline: "Musings on Architecture, Urbanism, Politics, Economics and Religion." The two co-bloggers are "relieved debtor" -- a Lutheran pastor -- and "corbusier" -- an architect, both based in the DFW metro area.

The mix of topics is fascinating to me, and the directness and depth of thought represented by each entry makes for satisfying reading. Here are a few of their recent entries:

Distillation in Desert Climate: Some observations about Albuquerque and the impact of climate on the built environment.

Are House Churches the Future of American Protestantism? The entry begins, "If you can get everything you spiritually need from a small group, why would you ever attend an established congregation?" But then this question is asked and answered, "So if house churches solve so many problems, why were large congregations ever allowed to exist in the first place?"

Glenn Beck: An Ego in Search of a Message: "Not only does he presume to be a political expert, he is now some sort of preacher of an ambiguous gospel. And why has he adopted this new religious tone?"

"Imagine": Theme Song for the Morally Vague: "The song really is an imagining of a world without human beings that are what they are. Why don't we instead work with the problems of man and aim to fix them? I suppose a song that offered that proposition would not be nearly as appreciated."

Designing for the Apocalypse: why many architects love a crisis: "The issue's inherent demand for greater control over the environment in the hands of an enlightened elite complements well with architects' own (and as yet, unrealized) ambitions of becoming the major shapers of the built environment. Idealistic architects ultimately want to transcend the rough-and-tumble, at times crass, reality of the free market, and if the global warming issue makes this possible they will quickly jump on the bandwagon." This is a sweeping piece that covers the history, from Vitruvius to the present, of what is an architect's mission.

Why Conservatism is So Counterintuitive and Ideologues are Lazy, Part 2

Why do people relinquish control over their own money, their own property, or even their own way of life? The only answer that makes sense to me is that when conservatism is explained in policy terms, when its shortcomings are highlighted, a bleak picture of it can be, and is, painted. A system without the proper controls, a system with loopholes, a system that leaves the most vulnerable without guarantees...these are the results of the free market. To support such a system, then, could hardly be considered moral. Every time something goes wrong in a free society, the lack of central control is an easy explanation, even if inaccurate. It's an easy solution to a complex problem. It's intuitive, even if false.

People need to know, it seems, that someone is at the switch. Someone needs to be in charge of providing housing, someone needs to be in charge of food, someone needs to be in charge of jobs and healthcare. And when the natural business cycle (and/or government regulation) results in high prices or inavailability, the market is the scapegoat. There aren't enough controls and we need someone who can guarantee me what I need. That need for control is so intuitive, its practically biological. So when conservatism refuses to answer the question of who will provide food/shelter/healthcare/etc. with anything more than a shrug, it is considered morally delinquent. In truth, it trusts that someone will provide the service needed. That service may be provided imperfectly, but it always does so more perfectly than a central planner.

The most recent entry is about a music video from Tulsa's own Church on the Move, called "Dad Life," and what it says about the megachurch movement.

... the celebration and appreciation of the middle class lifestyle has to be one of the primary reasons the megachurch appeals to suburban middle class.

They should think twice about this approach. The entire gospel is on the line when this kind of pandering takes place in the Church. It delegitimizes those of us that hold fast to transcendent traditions and it forces the church into a marketplace it has no business being in. It openly creates competition between congregations because they take credit for being the Church when they are not.

Perhaps nothing epitomizes this more than the above viral video. The video is a simple celebration of suburban fatherhood, seen by about 5 million people on YouTube and a product of the Church on the Move in Tulsa, OK. I can relate to it. I have a daughter. I have an SUV. I spent lots of time doing yardwork. I don't buy gas station sunglasses, however; I find the far better deal is the dollar store.

But what is missing? The gospel! There is no mention of God, Jesus, the cross, or even a shameless plug for their own congregation. (Isn't Sunday worship, even at a megachurch, part of "the dad life"? I guess not.) Why should this video kick off a sermon series at a church? Wouldn't it be more appropriate at a PTA meeting or sports team parents get together?

The video and the blogger's comments bring to mind why (20 years ago) we left a non-denominational Bible church that seemed too focused on the lifestyles of the upwardly mobile middle class and went searching for (and found) a church focused on sound doctrine, missionary outreach (in Tulsa and abroad), and God-centered worship.

Architecture + Morality is not often updated, but every entry is worth pondering.

Leftists seeking social transformation have long seen public education -- K-12 and college alike -- as a golden opportunity to alienate young people from their parents' benighted customs, morals, and opinions, so that they can be re-educated to a progressive point of view. But seldom has this missionary misuse of taxpayer-funded institutions been so blatant and so close to home.

Not only is Oklahoma State University officially recognizing Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) History Month, the university has invited an atheist philosophy professor to campus today to preach to OSU students that their views on homosexuality, shaped by their religious faith, are all wrong, according to a September 30, 2010, story in the Stillwater NewsPress:

John Corvino, a philosophy professor at Wayne State University in Detroit, will deliver a guest lecture, titled "What's Morally Wrong With Homosexuality?" at 3 p.m. Friday in 10 Willard Hall on the Oklahoma State University campus.

Corvino said his lecture will deal with a number of arguments against homosexual relationships. Those arguments generally claim that homosexuality is unnatural, harmful or in violation of religious principles....

During the lecture, Corvino hopes to break down those arguments, showing fallacies in each. In response to claims that homosexuality is unnatural, Corvino said he will explore what the claim means and if it matters. In response to arguments that homosexuality is harmful, Corvino said he will confront certain myths about homosexuality. And in response to claims regarding religion, Corvino said he will point out inconsistencies in the use of religious texts to support the argument.

Corvino, now an atheist, has a strong background in the church, and was once a candidate for the priesthood. He said he hopes to reconcile progressive ideas about sexuality with religion, particularly Christianity....

Corvino's lecture is the first of three events in OSU's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) History Month program.

It is an outrage that a state university, funded by Oklahoma taxpayers who are overwhelmingly conservative and Christian, is using taxpayer dollars to bring in an atheist, someone who abandoned his Christian faith, to "break down" traditional moral arguments against homosexuality and specifically to "point out inconsistencies" in religious arguments.

This is not a matter of academic freedom. A professor might invite a provocative speaker with one perspective as part of an overall balanced curriculum. Nor is this a case of a student-funded and -organized group inviting a speaker, where freedom of speech and association come into play. Corvino was invited by the OSU administration, as part of a university-sponsored lecture series for LGBT History Month.

Here's what an OSU administration official, Jen Macken, coordinator of women's and LGBT issues, had to say about Corvino's upcoming lecture:

Jen Macken, OSU's coordinator of women's and LGBT issues, said Corvino's lecture is a good fit for Oklahoma in general, and OSU in particular.

"Because Stillwater is located in the Bible Belt, many discussions about sexuality are based in terms of morality or religion," Macken said. "Dr. Corvino's academic training in philosophy equips him to frame the discussion in these terms, but to offer an alternative to the perspective that one may normally think of as the moral position on LGBT issues."

Macken said she expects a strong turnout for the event. She said she hopes the event will give listeners a broader understanding of LGBT issues.

Worse yet, the title of the lecture is deceptive: "What's Morally Wrong With Homosexuality?" is a title that might attract students with traditional moral views looking to bolster their ability to argue in favor of traditional values, not seeking to have their moral views undermined.

Ms. Macken, who is also the vice chair of the Employees Queers and Allies League, sent out a university press release promoting the OSU LGBT History Month lecture series. Here are descriptions of the second and third lectures in the series:

The Department of Counseling Psychology and Counseling, in conjunction with Stillwater Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) and the Employee Queers and Allies League (EQuAL) will be sponsoring a viewing of the film For the Bible Tells Me So on Monday, October 18th at 6:00pm in 313 Classroom Building. The film examines the intersection between religion and homosexuality in the United States and will be followed by a panel discussion with university and community representatives.

On Tuesday, October 19th, scholar Mary L. Gray will be giving a talk titled, "'There are no gay people here': The politics of queer visibility in the rural United States." Mary L. Gray is an Associate Professor in the Department of Communication and Culture and an affiliate faculty in Gender Studies at Indiana University, Bloomington. Her research looks at how everyday uses of media shape people's understandings and expressions of their social identities. This lecture will take place at 4:30 in Bartlett 109 and is sponsored by the Gender and Women's Studies program, Sexual Orientation Diversity Association, and National Organization of Women at OSU.

OSU has an entire department called "Institutional Diversity," a great example of the institutional bloat and loss of focus that drives up the cost of higher education. The only reason for the state to be involved in higher education is to train the professionals -- engineers, agronomists, attorneys, doctors, veterinarians, etc. -- needed for the state's economic development. It may well be that this can now be accomplished more efficiently through distance learning.

But even if you believe in a more expansive role for the state in higher ed, surely we can all agree that taxpayer-funded colleges shouldn't be in the business of moral re-education, particularly of the sort designed to attack and undermine the values held by those taxpayers.

If OSU is going to bring in speakers to convert students to a certain point of view, shouldn't it be the point of view held by the vast majority of the taxpayers who fund the university? The OSU administration could invite Ravi Zacharias to a university-sponsored lecture to point out inconsistencies in atheist arguments or bring in Dawn Eden to argue for the benefits of chastity and to explain the emotional damage caused by promiscuity. At least those speakers and topics would be a good match for Oklahoma values.

I suspect that the Institutional Diversity department's true purpose is to provide employment for people with worthless college degrees (e.g. a Master's in Women's Studies).

The OSU regents should shut down the Institutional Diversity department, shut down the office of LGBT issues, cancel official recognition of LGBT history month, and fire the OSU executives responsible for approving and implementing all of the above. And if the regents are unwilling to take action, then the legislature should.

Taxpayers are beginning to wake up to the massive waste of their money happening on both public and private college campuses. (Taxpayers subsidize private colleges through financial aid, subsidized student loans, and government research grants.) Young people are beginning to realize that college as a general-purpose credential isn't worth much. As Michael Barone wrote recently, the higher education bubble is about to burst. This latest outrage from OSU is one more reason Oklahoma taxpayers and their elected representatives should take a metaphorical ax to worthless college departments and programs that add no educational or economic value.

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