January 2011 Archives

Congratulations to Holly Richardson, aka Holly on the Hill, a conservative Utah political blogger, mom of 20, and political activist who was named by a special Republican convention to fill an unexpected vacancy in the Utah House of Representatives.

The vacancy occurred because the recently re-elected incumbent representative discovered, while using an online "find your legislator" address-lookup tool, that his state rep was someone other than himself.

State Rep. Craig Frank represented the district since 2003. In 2009 he planned to move from Pleasant Grove to Cedar Hills. County maps then showed that the new location was within the 57th. So he moved.

Early this month, however, he was fiddling with the House's new website, which has a useful feature. You can type in your address, and it tells you what district you live in. Frank did so, and up popped ... a picture of Rep. John Dougall. Uh-oh. Dougall represents House District 27.

Inquiries indicated that old county maps didn't jibe with the official state map of district boundaries. Frank apparently lived outside his district. To his credit, he immediately reported this. His seat was declared vacant.

The source of the problem: The district boundaries were defined in terms of city limits, which changed about the time the redistricting law was passed.

The law's text says the legislative boundary is the Cedar Hills city limit; but the accompanying map draws the boundary along outdated borders from before the time Frank's property was annexed, thus putting his property outside Cedar Hills.

So does "city limit" refer to the actual city boundary, or to the line labeled "city limit" on the map? One could argue either way. The first option puts Frank in District 57; the second seemingly puts him in the 27th.

Oklahoma redistricting is not likely to run afoul of the same problem, as redistricting legislation makes reference to census block numbers, which are defined prior to the decennial census by the U. S. Census Bureau and do not change.

But even Oklahoma's method opens the door to inconsistencies, gaps, and omissions, particularly as the legislative form of the redistricting bills doesn't lend itself to visualization.

That's why it's important, during the redistricting process, for legislators not only to publish the draft redistricting bills and their long lists of census block numbers, but also to publish the in-progress work product, in the form of a table with a record for each census block showing its current district and assigned district under the proposed plan. Members of the public with GIS and database skills will be able to link this information with Census Bureau population numbers and census block geography and detect problems so that they can be corrected before boundaries are set in stone.

The Oklahoma House of Representatives will hold a session of its "Redistricting Listening Tour" in the Career Services Center auditorium of Tulsa Technology Center's Lemley Campus, 3420 S. Memorial, Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2011, at 7 p.m.

I hope to attend. Redistricting is a favorite topic -- it combines maps, math, and politics -- and it deals with fairness in representative government. My first published guest opinion was a May 31, 1991, Tulsa Tribune "Point of View" piece on redistricting: "Those Districts Belong to Us."

Although the population has shifted and the lines have been redrawn once in the subsequent score of years, the problem I described and the principles that should guide redistricting still hold true. I hope the first Oklahoma redistricting with my fellow Republicans fully in control will be the epitome of fairness and common sense. If Republicans could win a supermajority of seats in both houses despite the 2001 district lines drawn by Democrats to preserve their own power, the GOP can certainly hold the legislature with fairly drawn districts that reflect communities of interest rather than incumbent self-interest.

While I may not be able to persuade my friends in the legislature to draw fair lines, I hope at least that I can persuade the House and Senate to use common lines, as much as possible, to avoid some of the absurdities that emerged from the 2001 redistricting.

Meet Precinct 184.


This uninhabited precinct, home of Marshall Brewing Company (which didn't exist when the lines were drawn), is bounded by 6th and 7th Streets, Utica and Wheeling Avenues. In 2000, the Census Bureau defined it as tract 23, blocks 1064 (west of the tracks) and 1047 (east of the tracks).

It exists as a separate precinct because it is the only area that is in both Senate District 11 and House District 72. North of 6th St. is in SD 11 and HD 73. East of Wheeling and south of 7th is SD 33 and HD 72. West of Utica is SD 11 and HD 66.

State law (26 O.S. 3-116 A) requires that "The boundary line of any precinct shall not cross the boundary line of any district court judicial district electoral division or any congressional, legislative or county commissioner district." Had this block been included in the same precinct as one of its neighbors, this law would have been violated. Without this law, you might have voters in a single precinct voting in two different House or Senate districts, sending two different ballot versions into the same ballot scanner.

The lack of collaboration between House and Senate on boundaries forced the Tulsa County Election Board to create this unnecessary precinct and at least four others, two of which are uninhabited.

Precinct 187 (Tulsa County 2000 census tract 46, block 1994) is a triangle bounded by the eastbound and westbound lanes of I-244 between the west bank and the centerline of the Arkansas River. Formerly a part of precinct 801, it is the only sliver of land (sand, more truthfully) in both HD 66 and SD 37.

Precinct 185 is Tulsa County 2000 census tract 76.10, block 1015, bounded by Riverside Drive, the east bank of the Arkansas River, Joe Creek, and a bike path (roughly the continuation of Trenton Ave.) It is the only census block in both SD 37 and HD 69.

Precincts 179 and 180, near 76th St between Yale and Sheridan, have a few voters each. They exist because the House chose the east-west center line of the section as a boundary between HD 67 and HD 79, while the Senate chose a series of streets that cut across the square mile -- 76th St, Erie Ave, and 77th St -- to divide SD 25 from SD 39.

There very nearly were more microprecincts. House and Senate mapmakers differed over whether the westbound or the eastbound lanes of the Broken Arrow expressway between Harvard and Pittsburg should form a district boundary. But it appears that this narrow strip of land, tract 39, block 4001, in HD 71 and SD 33, was attached to precinct 71, just to the west.

Mercifully, Oklahoma law allows the creation of "subprecincts" in such cases. A subprecinct can share precinct judges and a polling place with a neighboring precinct, but it still must have its own ballot box. Depending on which races are contested, it may require its own ballot to cover its unique combination of districts.

How did this happen? Each chamber of the legislature worked separately on its own plan, without reference to the Other Body, defining districts in terms of U. S. Census Bureau census blocks, rather than in terms of boundary lines. Wherever there's a street, a stream, a railroad, or a political boundary, there are separate census blocks on either side. The Census Bureau provides a database with population counts by census blocks, and each house divvies up counties, census tracts, and census blocks in order to produce contiguous districts of roughly equal population.

Rather than repeat the same folly, I urge our legislature to use common boundaries to define House, Senate, and Congressional districts. Since the federal courts tossed aside our constitutional provisions on legislative apportionment back in 1964, the number of legislators in each house has been defined by statute.

So let's add two senators to make 50, subtract one rep to make 100. Define 100 State House districts. Combine them in pairs to make 50 Senate districts. Combine 10 Senate districts into each of our five Congressional districts. Or start with Congressional districts and divide them into 10 Senate districts each, and each Senate district into two House districts.

Either way, it would make it easier for constituents to know who their legislators are, would make it harder to use district boundaries to protect incumbents, and would make it easier for county election boards to draw precinct boundaries.


2000 Census maps of Tulsa County, showing census tracts and blocks

Tulsa County Election Board maps of precincts and districts.

Title 14, Congressional and Legislative Districts. For some reason, you can find the detailed definition of 2001 Senate districts here, but not House districts, so here is the rich-text format (Word-compatible) version of HB 1515, the 2001 Oklahoma House redistricting bill as signed by the governor.

Home from San Antone

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I can hardly believe I'm done. I can hardly believe I won't be back again soon.

I've spent most of the last three months working 60+ plus hours per week on a project in San Antonio. That's on top of another month early last fall and a few weeks last winter and summer on a related project.

On Saturday, the last remaining discrepancy was resolved. This morning, I checked out of the hotel that was my home-away-from-home. (I went from 0 nights to gold status with this particular chain in the course of the project.) It was strange to tell the desk clerk that, no, I wouldn't need to be making another reservation right now.

I don't enjoy being away from my family, but I do enjoy getting to spend enough time in a city to get to know it well. I've got plenty of observations from my own perambulations about the Alamo City and its environs and from a couple of books I picked up: Saving San Antonio, about the course of historic preservation there since the late 19th century, and HemisFair '68 and the Transformation of San Antonio, a collection of brief essays by civic leaders from the 1960s to the present, which so far seems to be more about how the '68 World's Fair failed to transform the city, and what had to happen to produce the economic growth and tourism we see today. San Antonio went through the same transition from at-large city government to a district-based city council about 20 years before Tulsa. I hope to share some of my observations here, but I make no promises. There's more hard work ahead.

Long hours working on the challenging task of getting software from the Reagan years to cooperate with a new computer didn't leave much energy for writing, particularly not for heavy research and careful word-craft.

When I was at home, it was time to play with the kids, sleep, catch up on chores and errands, and prepare for the next trip -- not to get hip-deep in local politics. (Do you have any idea how hard it is to schedule a dental checkup when you're out of town 3/4 of the time and don't know for sure when you'll next be home?)

When I did have free time, I had a "bucket list" of San Antonio events, attractions, and eateries I wanted to try when the opportunity arose. I got through a lot of them, but missed a few. I did most of the in-city things I'd hoped to do (still haven't been on a river cruise), but weekend day trips to the Gulf Coast or Houston didn't happen, and I only made it to Austin a couple of times.

While there have been periods on the past when I've been away from home frequently, my weekly spots on KFAQ with Michael Del Giorno and Gwen Freeman and my weekly column in UTW forced me to stay in touch with the latest developments back home, to sit in front of a computer screen keeping up with Tulsa news instead of exploring a new city. Without the responsibility to talk or write every week on local politics, I've been able to read for fun, work through my "bucket list," surf the web, or spend an hour on the elliptical while watching back-to-back episodes of "The Office."

There's a long post in my head about the temptation to spin a cocoon -- play Wii, watch Netflix, do yardwork, and just be a homebody -- to stop spending my time and taking risks for causes that don't directly benefit my family's welfare.

On the other hand, it seems selfish to collect all this information and all these experiences and do nothing with them.

More about that, perhaps, another time. See you soon, Tulsa. I'll be home in just a few.

Over Christmas and New Year's weekend, BBC Radio 7 broadcast all seven of the Focus on the Family Radio Theater adaptations of C. S. Lewis's The Chronicles of Narnia. I've been listening to them in publication order -- I've just finished The Silver Chair.

Paul Scofield, who won an Oscar for A Man for All Seasons, is the narrator. David Suchet, known for his portrayal of Agatha Christie's Belgian sleuth Hercule Poirot, provides the voice for Aslan. Ron Moody, famed as Fagin in the stage and film versions of Oliver!, is perfect as pessimistic Puddleglum. British comedy fans will recognize other voices in bit parts: In Prince Caspian, John Bluthal (parish clerk Frank Pickle in The Vicar of Dibley) can be heard as a soldier near the beginning of the story, and Betty Marsden (from the radio sketch shows Beyond Our Ken and Round the Horne) turns up as the hag.

The voice characterizations, incidental music, and sound effects are all very well done, and they all work wonderfully to keep the listener fully engaged in the story. In the best radio tradition, this is theater of the mind.

Focus on the Family Radio Theater has produced audiodramas of classic works of both fiction and non-fiction, including A Christmas Carol, Anne of Green Gables, Silas Marner, and Les Miserables, and biographical dramas about William Wilberforce, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and Corrie Ten Boom. There's also a dramatization of the Gospel according to Luke: "The Life of Jesus: Dramatic Eyewitness Accounts from The Luke Reports."


Fifty years ago today, my parents were married at the First Baptist Church of Dewey, Oklahoma. Fifty years later, "through many dangers, toils, and snares," by God's grace, Dad and Mom are still married to each other and together enjoying their very active retirement years and their five grandchildren.

They met at Falls Creek Baptist Assembly when they were 14 years old and then saw each other over the next few years at Baptist youth gatherings. After Dad's two years at NEOA&M, they were both students at Northeastern State in Tahlequah. They married in the middle of their junior year in college there, and a little apartment in Tahlequah was their first home as a couple.

They sacrificed for the sake of their kids' education. They balanced career, childrearing, and community involvement. They persisted in their commitment to one another despite the challenges and stresses that lead so many couples back to the courthouse.

25 years ago, the woman who would become my wife happened to be a guest in our home as we went through old photos in preparation for Mom and Dad's silver wedding anniversary celebration. You couldn't wish for a better way to introduce a girlfriend to your family. (Last Tuesday was also the 25th anniversary of our first kiss.)

Congratulations, Dad and Mom, and thank you for founding the family to which I am so blessed to belong.

MORE: Here's my tribute to Mom and Dad from the May 28, 2008, issue of UTW.

Tulsa's second annual March for Life and rally will be held today, January 22, 2011, in downtown Tulsa, to mark the 38th anniversary of the Supreme Court's decisions that overturned abortion prohibitions in every state.

The march will begin at 8th and Boulder at 11:30 and will proceed 6 blocks to Centennial Green on 6th Street between Main and Boston, where the rally will be held. Last year's march, the first held here, drew more than 2000 people.

This week, Americans United for Life issued its annual analysis of state laws and their effectiveness in protecting the sanctity of human life. This year Oklahoma is number one:

Oklahoma tops the Life List for the first time. In 2006 (the first year of AUL's ranking), Oklahoma was ranked at #15. Over the past few years, the state has aggressively pursued and implemented a comprehensive agenda of life-affirming initiatives. Among the measures recently enacted in Oklahoma are an ultrasound requirement, limits on the provision of RU-486, coerced abortion prevention, and protections for health care freedom of conscience. Moreover, in 2009, Oklahoma became the first state to enact AUL's innovative Pregnant Woman's Protection Act, permitting pregnant women to use force to protect their unborn children from criminal assaults.

There is still work to be done in Oklahoma. In last year's report, AUL identified bioethics as an area where our laws are still insufficient.

There is even more work to be done elsewhere. From the grand jury indictment of Philadelphia abortionist Kermit Gosnell:

This case is about a doctor who killed babies and endangered women. What we mean is that he regularly and illegally delivered live, viable, babies in the third trimester of pregnancy - and then murdered these newborns by severing their spinal cords with scissors. The medical practice by which he carried out this business was a filthy fraud in which he overdosed his patients with dangerous drugs, spread venereal disease among them with infected instruments, perforated their wombs and bowels - and, on at least two occasions, caused their deaths. Over the years, many people came to know that something was going on here. But no one put a stop to it.

The report shows that state authorities responsible for enforcing basic medical standards and state laws regulating abortion turned a blind eye to Gosnell's practice:

It is not our job to say who should be fired or demoted. We believe, however, that anyone responsible for permitting Gosnell to operate as he did should face strong disciplinary action up to and including termination. This includes not only the people who failed to do the inspecting, the prosecuting, and the protecting, but also those at the top who obviously tolerated, or even encouraged, the inaction. The Department of State literally licensed Gosnell's criminally dangerous behavior. DOH gave its stamp of approval to his facility. These agencies do not deserve the public's trust. The fate of Karnamaya Mongar and countless babies with severed spinal cords is proof that people at those departments were not doing their jobs. Those charged with protecting the public must do better.

Elsewhere in the grand jury report:

We discovered that Pennsylvania's Department of Health has deliberately chosen not to enforce laws that should afford patients at abortion clinics the same safeguards and assurances of quality health care as patients of other medical service providers. Even nail salons in Pennsylvania are monitored more closely for client safety.

The State Legislature has charged the Department of Health (DOH) with responsibility for writing and enforcing regulations to protect health and safety in abortion clinics as well as in hospitals and other health care facilities. Yet a significant difference exists between how DOH monitors abortion clinics and how it monitors facilities where other medical procedures are performed.

Indeed, the department has shown an utter disregard both for the safety of women who seek treatment at abortion clinics and for the health of fetuses after they have become viable. State health officials have also shown a disregard for the laws the department is supposed to enforce. Most appalling of all, the Department of Health's neglect of abortion patients' safety and of Pennsylvania laws is clearly not inadvertent: It is by design. ...

State health officials knew that Gosnell and his clinic were offering unacceptable medical care to women and girls, yet DOH failed to take any action to stop the atrocities documented by this Grand Jury. These officials were far more protective of themselves when they testified before the Grand Jury. Even DOH lawyers, including the chief counsel, brought private attorneys with them - presumably at government expense.

In her column on the story, Michelle Malkin calls attention to the grand jury's statement about the role played by a pro-abortion RINO governor in allowing these horrors to continue in Philadelphia:

But the grand jury itself pointed out that loosened oversight of abortion clinics enacted under pro-choice former GOP governor Tom Ridge enabled Gosnell's criminal enterprise - and led to the heartless execution of hundreds of babies. Mass murder got a pass in the name of expanding "access" and appeasing abortion lobbyists. As the report made clear: "With the change of administration from [pro-life Democrat] Governor Casey to Governor Ridge," government health officials "concluded that inspections would be 'putting a barrier up to women' seeking abortions. Better to leave clinics to do as they pleased, even though, as Gosnell proved, that meant both women and babies would pay."

That Pennsylvania has laws in place which could indict Gosnell for such practices is a sign of growing respect in our country for the sanctity of human life. That some Pennsylvania officials deliberately refused to enforce those laws, and that the mainstream media have shown little interest in this story of public officials enabling mass murder, shows that the culture of death is still deeply entrenched in America's ruling class.

I was able to arrange my travel schedule to spend an hour or so in Whitney, Texas, for the 100th birthday celebration of native son Tommy Duncan, who won fame as the vocalist for Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys.

The plan was to have a parade just before noon, followed by a classic car show in the afternoon, and a gala banquet and dance featuring Billy Mata and the Texas Tradition. But weather more appropriate to Wales than Whitney -- a cold, steady drizzle -- put a damper on the parade. Instead, the crowd gathered in Texas Mint and Mercantile, the headquarters of the celebration and home to the nascent Tommy Duncan Museum. There I had the opportunity to meet and visit with Tommy's brother Glynn Duncan, Glynn's wife Hazel, and several other members of the Duncan family; Pam Townley, who organized the event, the museum, and the fan club; Nashville musician Carolyn Martin, actor Guich Koock (who bought and restored Luckenbach, Texas, with Hondo Crouch in 1970); Billy Mata and Texas Tradition drummer Rocco Fortunato.


I also spoke with filmmaker and Baylor professor Curtis Callaway, who is working on a documentary on the life of Tommy Duncan. Curtis and some of his Baylor students were there snapping photos and taking video for the documentary, which is about a year from completion. Here's the trailer:

"In the Shadow of a King - The Tommy Duncan Story" from Curtis Callaway on Vimeo.

Glynn Duncan is a western swing artist in his own right, a bassist with Luke Wills and His Rhythm Busters and brother Tommy's Western All-Stars, and a vocalist for Bob Wills. Glynn supplied the vocals for the unreleased 1971 Texas Playboys reunion session at Merle Haggard's house. Here's a photo of the Western All-Stars from 1949, the band Tommy formed after Bob Wills fired him in 1948. The group featured the heart of the mid-1940s Texas Playboys -- Noel Boggs on steel, Jimmy Wyble and Cameron Hill on guitar, Joe Holley and Ocie Stockard on fiddle, Millard Kelso on piano, plus Dave Coleman on drums and Glynn Duncan on bass.


I had a few minutes to browse through scrapbooks that Glynn and Hazel Duncan had provided to the museum. There were a couple of photos from Tommy's childhood, the 1930s and 1940s with the Texas Playboys, publicity photos from the '50s and '60s. The photos and other materials are being digitally archived at Baylor University. I snapped a few rather grainy pictures of the pictures.

This is an interesting artifact: A poster for a 1964 performance featuring Tommy Duncan with the Texas Playboys with Leon Rausch; Bob Wills had sold the Playboys earlier in the year, continuing to perform and record thereafter as a solo artist.


Here's Bob Wills, Tommy Duncan, and horses, probably from the early '40s:


I wasn't able to stick around until that evening's dance, but I'm glad I had the chance to be part of the celebration.


A few more photos of the Tommy Duncan 100 celebration on Flickr.

1993 interview with Casey Dickens and Glynn Duncan.

Mandy and Erica's Western Swing Journey: A blog by a couple of the Baylor students working on the documentary

Rich Kienzle's Southwest Shuffle has a chapter devoted to Tommy Duncan.

Tommy Duncan Fan Club on Facebook

Whitney, Texas, has its own indie coffee house, just down the block from the Tommy Duncan Museum -- Neutral Grounds.


Here's Tommy Duncan's discography, post 1948. (It's got one mistake -- Tommy wasn't involved in Bob Wills's May 1963 Liberty session.)

Whitney's local paper, the Lakelander covered the Tommy Duncan 100 event in its news pages and has posted a bunch of photos of the Tommy Duncan 100 celebration. I wish I could have stayed around to hear Glynn sing.

MORE PHOTOS (update 2013/08/08):

This Picasa album, belonging to Nancy Carroll, contains scans of photos collected by Tommy Duncan's niece Jerri Duncan, including publicity photos going back to 1933 in Waco, pictures of Tommy's ranch in the late '60s, and a 20-page "song and picture folio" from 1952.

Another Nancy Carroll album features present-day photos of Tommy Duncan's Singing D ranch near Mariposa, California, now known as Butterfly Creek Winery.

Another unexpected honor: I've been nominated for the first-ever Tulsa Press Club Newsie awards, in the category of Favorite Blogger. The competition is fierce: Natasha Ball of Tasha Does Tulsa, and three of the daily paper's bloggers: Jennifer Chancellor, Wayne Greene, and Jason Ashley Wright.

The nominations came from Tulsa Press Club members, but voting is open to the public. Here's a direct link to the Newsie ballot.

Tickets for the Feb. 24 awards ceremony are $15 for members, $20 for non-members.

Links, on parenting and other topics, hither and yon:

La Shawn Barber marks the 400th anniversary of the King James Version of the Bible with a review of God's Secretaries, Adam Nicolson's book on how this unparalleled influence on the English language and Anglophone culture came into being.

Al Mohler calls attention to a New York Times report that 40% of pregnancies in New York City end in abortion; in the African-American community in New York, the number is 60%. Nationally, 22% of American children are murdered in the womb.

In the pages of the Wall Street Journal, Amy Chua, the author of Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother evangelizes for her rather stern approach to motherhood; Ayelet Waldman answers with a defense of more lenient parenting. (Via Tim Bayly, who also offers the Taiwanese animated version of the dispute.)

Paul Tripp writes that we should never treat opportunities to parent our kids as an interruption. Among other things, this means not treating our kids' foolish behavior as a personal affront.

Our new Miss America, 17-year-old Teresa Scanlan was "home schooled until her junior year because she needed to grow out of being shy as a child." (Via Brandon Dutcher.) Why damage a sensitive girl's love of learning by insisting it be coupled with the relentless cruelty of her peers?

Free Range Kids author Lenore Skenazy writes that the tendency to assume all men are predators puts kids in danger.

Rick Harrison raises questions about the accuracy of GIS databases that indiscriminately aggregate data from a variety of sources; no substitute for a real survey, he says.

Tulsa photographer Emmett Lollis shares his experience of converting his website from HTML to PHP, with all the glorious, gory details.

Good in-depth story by LAWeekly: Zoning changes advertised as innocuous housekeeping are discovered instead to create a presumption against neighborhood protections in Los Angeles:

When he pored over the fine print in the Core Findings Ordinance itself, Brazeman was stunned to discover that rather than the policy-neutral word changes throughout the zoning code that were advertised as the ordinance's purpose, the new phrasing chipped away at community protections in favor of developers.

Within days, Brazeman spent an undisclosed sum to purchase full-page ads in the Los Angeles Times and Los Angeles Daily News, issuing a warning to residents that zoning code protections were being undone citywide. His cell phone was soon jammed by callers ready to join his effort to publicly call out the Core Findings Ordinance.

(Via Mickey Kaus on Twitter.)

Finally, Skip Oliva calls attention to "eight crazy constitutional scenarios" including the 25th Amendment loophole that could allow the president to be recalled under congressional authorization. (Via Tim Carney on Twitter.)

The John Hope Franklin Center for Reconciliation has posted an online survey for Tulsa area residents on race relations and history.

By way of explaining what it covers, here's the text from the first page:

Thank you for your willingness to help improve our understanding of perceptions about race relations and knowledge of racially relevant historical events in the Tulsa area. By completing the following survey, you allow the John Hope Franklin Center for Reconciliation and other area organizations to develop relevant programming that promotes positive race relations and reconciliation. We will also be able to track changes in perceptions over time. Your ideas are important to this effort, so we thank you in advance.

It's a medium length survey, maybe about 15 minutes in length. Most questions are multiple choice, but there are a few opportunities for free-form answers and a place for your comments about the survey.

During the demographic portion, I was amused to be given five options for "gender." That tells you something about the ideological bent (pun intended) of the people who drafted the survey.

The only "racially relevant" historical event that was mentioned was the 1921 riot. It would be interesting to compare awareness of that event with awareness of Greenwood's reconstruction after the riot, Jim Crow laws, the civil rights movement in Tulsa, the second destruction of Greenwood via the Model Cities and urban renewal programs, and the redlining of north Tulsa.

I think it's important for Tulsans in all their diversity (including those of us who think a human either one sex or the other) to document their views and opinions on this issue, and I hope you'll take time to participate.

Born 100 years ago in Whitney, Texas, on January 11, 1911, Tommy Duncan was the voice of the Texas Playboys from 1934 to 1949, reuniting with Bob Wills for three albums in the early '60s, and in between times heading up his own Western All-Stars, which featured several Texas Playboys alums from the '40s.

In honor of his centenary, here are links to a couple of previous BatesLine entries and other web articles, followed by some videos featuring Tommy Duncan:

1960 radio interview with Bob Wills and Tommy Duncan

Tommy Duncan's 100th birthday gala, January 15, 2011, Whitney, Texas

Tommy's song "Relax and Take It Easy" featured on atomicplatters.com

Biography of Tommy Duncan in the Handbook of Texas

"Home in San Antone," from Lawless Empire

San Antonio Rose, with Bob Wills in 1944:

Here's a clip from his post-Playboy career, "Saturday Night in San Antone," with brother Glynn Duncan on bass, Joe Holley on fiddle, Noel Boggs on steel guitar, and Jimmy Wyble on standard guitar, from the Durango Kid movie, South of Death Valley. That's sidekick extraordinaire Smiley Burnette swinging the rope.

From 1959, Tommy Duncan sings "Hello, Mr Worry."

Zingo is for sale. The Bell's Amusement Park roller coaster that thrilled generations of Tulsans is being auctioned off on eBay by Better Price Surplus Warehouse for $400,000 or best offer.

Roller Coaster for Sale. Engineered and manufactured by Philadelphia Toboggan Co. Erected in 1968 and dismantled in 2006. The Zingo Roller Coaster formerly at Bell's Amusement Park in Tulsa, Oklahoma has been dismantled, put in storage and is now for sale. The train, track, gears, motor, chain, bent legs, and lumber (2x6, 2x8, 4x4, 4x6, 6x6, 6x8, 6x12). Tens of thousands of board feet of lumber, all double kiln, dried pressure treated, yellow pine painted with white latex. The coaster was 72 feet at its highest point and 2,675 feet long. This lumber can be cut, sorted, loaded etc, at its present location as long as its gone by 5/30/2011.

This coaster is for sale as a whole unit or can be separated into 2 lots. The lumber as 1 lot and all other components (train, track, gears, motor, chain, etc.) as Lot 2. The asking price is $250,000 USD for each lot, or $400,000 USD in its entirety or Best Offer by 4/15/2011. This equipment and lumber must be moved from its present location by May 30th, 2011. We will entertain any serious offer and help with the logistics of the move. Contact Marc Price at 918-625-0492 or email bargains@betterpricestore.com

It's not unheard of for a wood roller coaster to find a new home. Frontier City's Wildcat was relocated from Fairyland Park in Kansas City. Knoebels' Phoenix came from Playland Park in San Antonio. According to the Roller Coaster Database, there are only 167 operating wood roller coaster in the entire world; 120 of them are in North America. Perhaps Zingo can find a good home in another part of America or another part of the world. Or perhaps someone could find a place for it here in the Tulsa area.

MORE: News on 6 talks to Robby Bell:

Bell says he decided to sell Zingo because he needs the money to help open a new Bell's. And he says he's only selling what could be easily replaced, unlike some of the other rides at Bell's.

"So certain pieces we don't want to turn loose of, but Zingo is just a matter of lumber and bolts. And we have the trains and the chain, but even if we sold that, that could be replaced," he said.

Thanks to Urban Tulsa Weekly staff for their kind words in naming me once again to the paper's annual "Hot 100" list. I'm pleased, too, to see great Tulsans like restaurant entrepreneur Blake Ewing, developer/urbanist Jamie Jamieson, and architect Shelby Navarro on the list. Tulsa city planner Theron Warlick is the second name on the list, a well-deserved honor for his hard work and leadership with PLANiTULSA (which has its own spot on the list). Theron would make a great city planning director, don't you think?

Speaking of the city planning director position and the development of a new zoning code consistent with the PLANiTULSA comprehensive land use plan, UTW's Mike Easterling has a story about the disagreement at City Hall over how to fund these needs.The mayor wants to use one-time money, the Council wants a stable funding source to pay for a permanent position.

Also in the current issue, soon-to-be-former planning commissioner Elizabeth Wright talked to Mike Easterling about her term on the TMAPC, possibilities for the future and why she thinks she rubbed some people the wrong way:

As for the perception that she had become a bit of a lightning rod for controversy as a planning commissioner -- a job not generally regarded as a high-profile position in local political circles -- Wright acknowledged that her style may have ruffled some feathers.

"If anything, I'm more blunt than anything else ... I think there are times that we come across as being rude, and we're not trying to be rude," she said, recalling a Planning Commission case in which a developer appearing before that body became upset with her because of her questions over the project's lighting. Wright said she regards asking such questions as part of her job and said many developers simply aren't used to having to go into such detail.

"There were some developers that were accustomed to doing business the way it had always been done," she said. "They were used to not having someone question what they were doing or saying, and not putting together the pieces to what they were doing....

"Things don't have to be done the same old way every time," she said, explaining that storm water runoff on development projects -- and its impact on surrounding properties -- is one such issue that has been ignored or neglected by the TMAPC for far too long.

"The Planning Commission should stand up and be responsible and quit passing the buck," she said.

Wright's willingness to speak up on such issues is a big part of what has earned her the resentment of some members of the development community. To an extent, she regards that as a natural product of the changing atmosphere in Tulsa.

"We're in a shift, so, yes, it's going to be abrasive," she said. "When you're going through times of change, some people want it, some people don't, and there are going to be clashes."

During one of my recent trips to San Antonio's Lackland AFB, on a lunch break, I visited the US Air Force Airman Heritage Museum. It's a modest facility with a monumental plans to preserve and display the history of the Air Force's enlisted men and women and the basic military training that shaped them.

The museum has exhibits tracing military aviation training over the last century. Exhibits include the fuselage of a Curtis Jenny in a replica of an aircraft maintenance shop of the sort they had at Kelly Field during World War I, uniforms from every decade (including early WAF uniforms), typical barracks arrangments from different eras, and many historic photographs. I was fascinated by a deck of World War II aircraft recognition playing cards, a bailout pass with a statement in Russian asking for assistance in getting to the nearest British or American military mission, and a full-page newspaper article on how to live comfortably and safely in a tent -- during the Korean War buildup, overflow trainees were housed in tents on base.

Since 1947, Lackland has been the "Gateway to the Air Force" for millions of recruits. The Air Force has set aside a plot of land near the main entrance, and a private non-profit, the Lackland Heritage Gateway Foundation, is working to raise the $25 million needed for a modern museum to house the memories of generations of airman trainees and officer candidates who trained there and the instructors that shaped them.


To contribute money, you can donate online or buy a brick paver for the new facility.

To contribute memories, the museum has a set of questionnaires for graduates of San Antonio Aviation Cadet Center (SAACC, the WWII forerunner to Lackland AFB), Basic Military Training (BMT), Officer Training School (OTS), and Officer Candidate School (OCS), as well as Military Training Instructors (MTIs). The questions are there to jog your memory about where you lived, the training you did, the food you ate, the people you trained with. Paper copies are available at the museum to be taken, filled out, and mailed back, but you may be able to get one electronically by making a request through the volunteer contact email address.

There's also an effort by the 37th Training Wing (37TRW) Office of History and Research to build a repository of Air Force BMT graduation flight photographs. Many of these photos are already online, but there have been over 100,000 training flights to date. At the bottom of that page are instructions for submitting a copy of your photo by mail or electronically.

MORE: On the Airman Heritage Museum Facebook page, they've posted a few photos of uniforms, aircraft on display, and a WWII era barracks relocated nearby.

We've lost two Tulsa TV pioneers in the last little while. Newsman Jack Morris died in early December at the age of 88. Betty Boyd, host of local daytime shows and later a state legislator, passed away Thursday at age 86.

Whenever someone says, "It's 10 o'clock!" I mentally supply the rest: "Jack Morris news time!" I remember Morris at KTEW (NBC) in the 1970s, but his first television job was as news anchor at KTUL.

Here's an 15-minute profile and interview with Morris, from 1991, the year he was inducted into the Oklahoma Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame (Jerry Webber, who worked with Morris at KTEW, is the narrator). Morris talks about the course of his career, including his nightly commentaries from a conservative perspective, traveling to Israel right after the Six-Day War for a documentary on the mideast crisis for KTUL, and what it was like to have to deal with news footage on film. In 1978, he won a Freedom Foundation of Valley Forge gold medal for his commentaries. (For Hal O'Halloran fans, there's a brief glimpse of a promotional photo of the KTUL news team -- Morris, O'Halloran, and weatherman Don Woods - at 4:45.)

KTUL has a tribute to Betty Boyd, which includes a promotional video from 1965; it appears to be aimed at selling Boyd's daily noontime show to potential advertisers. In the video you'll see a brief Cy Tuma newscast, an ad for Wilson's MOR canned ham and BIF canned beef (the shot of MOR with sliced olives belongs in James Lileks' Gallery of Regrettable Food), an old-school weather cast, a Maxwell House commercial, and a bass player and a pianist who played the theme and incidental music throughout the show -- live.

MORE from Tulsa TV Memories: Jack Morris is featured on one of the "Newsmen" pages, and Betty Boyd has a page all to herself.

Here's Jack Frank's video tribute to Betty Boyd from a few years ago.

She mentions Hal O'Halloran and Cy Tuma at about 2:20. And at about 1:10 in, Lawrence Welk flirts with Betty.

Oklahoma 2nd District Congressman Dan Boren proved me wrong.

Rather than vote a fourth time for Nancy Pelosi for Speaker of the House (he voted for her in 2005, 2007, and 2009), the Democrat joined 10 colleagues in voting for North Carolina Democrat Heath Shuler for speaker.

Another eight Democrats also voted for someone other than Pelosi: Two of her fellow California Democrats, Jim Costa and Dennis Cardoza, voted for each other, John Lewis (D-GA) received two votes. Minority whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD), Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), Jim Cooper (D-TN) each received one vote. One Democrat (Bishop of GA) voted present, and one (DeFazio of OR) wasn't even there.

All but one Republican voted for the new speaker, John Boehner. The lone holdout: John Boehner. (Often, speaker candidates abstain from the vote, although Pelosi never has.)

1997 appears to be the last time there were a significant number of dissenters -- 9 center-left Republicans opted not to vote for a second term for Newt Gingrich.

It will be interesting to see if Boren pays any price within his caucus. While the vote for speaker is normally what the British would call a three-line whip -- dissent risks expulsion from the party caucus -- Pelosi had no chance to win. Allowing Boren to vote against Pelosi takes a way a talking point from his 2012 opponent, improving Boren's odds of re-election, so that he can vote for a far-left speaker in 2013, when his vote may matter.

When my daughter and I went door-to-door in Muskogee for Charles Thompson, Boren's 2010 opponent, Boren's previous votes for Pelosi were a real door-opener; it gave us an instant rapport with voters. Had Thompson raised enough money early enough to get that message to most 2nd District voters, Boren's political career might be over.

(Thanks to Steven Roemerman for his tweet today wondering if "this @Batesline post had anything to do with [Boren's] vote today.")

Route 66 News reports that the City of Catoosa is applying for a state grant to purchase the Blue Whale and surrounding property from the sole owner, a member of the Hugh Davis family.

I was pleased to see that there's talk of rebuilding the ARK -- Animal Reptile Kingdom -- which predates the Blue Whale. I remember a field trip from Catoosa Elementary School, c. 1970, to the ARK, which had small animals on exhibit inside. (I seem to recall a snake pit on the property too, and that the assistant principal, Mr. Hough, had some experience working with snakes and went into the pit.) I don't remember the ARK being open during the years that the Blue Whale pond was a public swimming hole. There is another building just to the south of the ARK -- a peaked roof with two wings, probably the original welcome center(and gift shop, no doubt) from Hugh Davis's roadside attraction.

My mom taught the Davises' grandchildren in kindergarten, and every year during her unit on Indians, Hugh would set up a teepee in her classroom.

For its May 22, 2009, issue, the Journal Record interviewed Blaine Davis, who tells the story of the Blue Whale that has its roots in his father's career at director of the Tulsa Zoo and the opportunity for roadside attractions created by the new four-lane alignment of Route 66 (c. 1957) through his property.

Straightening that stretch in the still-busy intercontinental road (the Turner and Will Rogers turnpikes were less than a decade old at that point) came as Hugh Davis contemplated retirement. For more than 30 years, the Tulsa Zoo curator struggled against tight budgets to build his facility, often journeying around the world to catch animals himself. So when highway planners dissected his 38- acre homestead with a safer U.S. Highway 66, thereby giving Hugh several new roadside lots, he left the zoo in 1966 to open a then- common tourist trap, the exotic animal park.

Blaine Davis said his parents stocked Nature's Acres with alligators, poisonous snakes, monkeys and many other creatures, which were kept in a stable, pins or pits around a two-story wooden ark used for concessions and parties. Hugh Davis built the facilities by hand with whatever he could find - such as leftover World War II bomber turrets, which topped his grove of seven-foot- tall concrete mushrooms.

The story notes that the whale was completed in 1972, and the park was closed in 1988.

On the Blue Whale's Yelp entry, Hugh and Zelta Davis's granddaughter comments:

Im the great grand daughter of Hugh Davis, the creator of the Blue Whale, and I always find it comical to read reviews about our family's private property. Many people who don't take time to read the story of the Whale do not understand it. Hugh and Zelta Davis were avid animal lovers, and it's guaranteed if you ever stopped by their house you would have encountered animals such as bear cubs, monkeys, and even tiger cubs that needed a little extra care outside of the Zoo. Hugh Davis wanted to find a way to give citizens of Catoosa (and surrounding areas) the opportunity to enjoy animals and learn about them. First was Nature's Acre's and the ARK which had a snake corral and an alligator farm. This place stayed busy! Once Hugh retired about 10yrs later, he needed something to keep him busy. Within a few years the project was complete. Originally, the pond surrounding the massive Blue Whale was spring fed and intended only for family use. However, as many locals began to come to enjoy its waters, Davis brought in tons of sand, built picnic tables, hired life guards, and opened it to the public. The Blue Whale closed in 1988 because the owners were getting too old to manage the park. The Whale was created out of pure love for the love of his life, and they shared the gift with everyone. The thought that his whale would one day be a historic and fascinating attraction never crossed his mind, and so there was no need for copyright or trademark registration.

She notes that because the family doesn't hold any IP rights to the whale's image, T-shirts and souvenirs created and sold by others doesn't contribute to the upkeep of the whale.


A vintage postcard of Hugh and Zelta Davis's Animal Reptile Kingdom, featuring Zelta with two alligators.

Zippy the Pinhead visited the Blue Whale in 2002.

A description of this stretch of Route 66 from the Twin Bridges to the Blue Whale.

Here's a Google Map I created showing the location of Animal Reptile Kingdom and Blue Whale and environs. Corrections and additions are welcome.

View Blue Whale and Animal Reptile Kingdom in a larger map

Tulsa County Commissioner Karen Keith has appointed a new Tulsa Metropolitan Area Planning Commission (TMAPC) member, but his home and neighborhood are not within the TMAPC's jurisdiction.

Keith's appointee is Ryon Stirling, a City of Sand Springs homeowner. His property is unaffected by the decisions of the TMAPC. The TMAPC's jurisdiction is the City of Tulsa and unincorporated Tulsa County; the City of Sand Springs has its own municipal planning commission "responsible for the administration of planning and zoning ordinances and the comprehensive plan for the City."

Stirling replaces Elizabeth Wright, a City of Tulsa homeowner (and thus a resident within the TMAPC's jurisdiction). Wright's three-year term will expire on January 18. About a year ago, Keith made an ill-considered and unsuccessful attempt to force Wright from office.

In the daily paper's story on the appointment, Keith is quoted as saying she "was just following through with [her] commitment to get someone from west of the river." Stirling lives on N. Main St. in Sand Springs, which is north of the river, on the opposite side of the river from west Tulsa.

UPDATE 2010/01/05: Is Stirling's appointment legal? Yes, because he's a Tulsa County resident being appointed to a Tulsa County seat on the TMAPC. It is, however, an offense to the idea of representative government and self-determination to have a planning commissioner who will be unaffected by the decisions he makes.

The City of Sand Springs has absolutely no relationship with the TMAPC. The same is true of Broken Arrow, Skiatook, Bixby, Jenks, and every other Tulsa County municipality (with the lone exception of the City of Tulsa). Each of the suburbs has its own Title 11, Article XLV, municipal planning commission, which performs roughly the same functions that the TMAPC performs for Tulsa: holding hearings and making recommendations on zoning changes, zoning code amendments, lot splits, subdivision regulations, and comprehensive planning to the city council.

Last year, I posted a list of the eight types of planning commission authorized by Oklahoma statute. The TMAPC is the sole example of a Title 19, Section 863, joint city-county metropolitan area planning commission for counties over 180,000.

The TMAPC was established at a time when most of Tulsa County was unincorporated, the City of Tulsa was completely contained within Tulsa County, annexing land gradually, as new subdivisions were developed. Today only a tiny amount of land is unincorporated, and most of that is surrounded by a city's fenceline as a reserve for future annexation. The City of Tulsa now extends into four counties. It would make more sense for the City of Tulsa to have its own planning commission, like Oklahoma City has, and for a county planning commission to have jurisdiction over the shrinking amount of unincorporated territory. Each entity already has its own comprehensive plan, zoning code, subdivision regulations, and Board of Adjustment; why not separate planning commissions as well?

MORE: Reader "The A Team" sent me a link to Ryon Sterling's 2007 thesis for his OU master's degree in Architectural Urban Studies. The thesis was a study of Tulsa's neighborhood associations based on survey responses. It's an interesting read. Stirling calls for city-defined standards for neighborhood associations:

I am confident that it is necessary for the City of Tulsa to reexamine the current guidelines regarding Neighborhood Associations and proceed by establishing a definition for the Associations to clarify and standardize what it means to be a Neighborhood Association--from boundaries, to membership, to by-laws. I suspect this will be a challenge since the Neighborhood Associations have been able to self define, in some cases for decades, but it is essential if Neighborhood Associations are to be used in a large way for planning purposes in the update to the Comprehensive Plan and are eligible to receive public dollars from Vision 2025 funds or future neighborhood funding measures. It has been suggested by this committee that a tiered system be examined as one possibility to attend to these concerns.

A friend sent along a fascinating sports story from Yahoo sports blog "The Dagger": 25 years after playing for Nolan Richardson at the University of Tulsa, 6'10" center Herb Johnson, who celebrated his 48th birthday last month, is still playing pro basketball. Drafted by Cleveland in 1985, but never playing an NBA regular season game, Johnson has played pro ball in Turkey, Japan, Italy, France, and now, in his 7th season in Switzerland, his second year with team Villiers Basket in the Ligue National de Basket.

He's the oldest player on the team by 19 years. So far he's averaged over 32 minutes of playing time per game over 15 games, 11.7 points and 9.6 rebounds per game at the moment.

(There's a staggering number of foreign pro basketball leagues -- check out the list on eurobasket.com. When I spent the summer of '83 in Manila, I remember noticing the basketball standings in the papers, and more than once someone hearing my name would say, "Oh, like Billy Ray Bates," who was playing his first season in the "reinforced conference" of the Phillipine Basketball Association, after four seasons in the NBA.)

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