February 2011 Archives

The Service Employees International Union has sent an email calling members and sympathizers to rally at the Oklahoma State Capitol at noon today (Saturday, February 26, 2011).

Here's the email from SEIU president Mary Kay Henry. Note that the signup links are directed to moveon.org:

SEIU brothers and sisters, Join us at a solidarity rally in your state capitol this Saturday

Over 13,000 people signed up to attend a solidarity action this weekend. We've partnered with dozens of great organizations and it promises to be a day you won't soon forget. Sign-up to join today.

It's been almost two weeks since SEIU members in Wisconsin joined with other public employees, students and allies to fight back against Governor Walker's attempt to take away their rights.

And we're winning.

You've seen the scenes from Madison by now, tens of thousands in the streets and thousands more inside the capitol inspiring a nation that has had enough of attempts to slash public services and hurt workers for the profit of billionaire campaign contributors.

But this weekend we've joined with allies across the country to organize solidarity rallies in major cities - including every state capital - this Saturday at noon.

We'll speak out to demand an end to the attacks on workers' rights and public services across the country. We'll demand investment to create decent jobs. And we'll demand that the rich and powerful pay their fair share.

In short, we'll turn Oklahoma into Wisconsin.

Will you join us Saturday at noon? Sign up to join your local rally here:


Did you see the big news this week?

The Wisconsin Legislature shut down its comment line after receiving too many calls against the attempt to take away workers' rights.

But when a blogger pretended to be Kansas oil magnate David Koch, Republican Governor Scott Walker took his call and stayed on the line for 20 minutes!

The two talked about how to use tricks to defeat Democratic State Senators, Walker's plans to tell thousands of workers they will lose their jobs, and even talked about the billionaire's "vested interest" in the outcome of this fight.

You may not have a billion dollars like David Koch, but it's time our legislators hear our voice.

Use the tool below to find an event taking place this Saturday at noon and RSVP to join the fight.


The outpouring of support for our members has been overwhelming.

Over 20,000 people sent in messages supporting them and our website has seen record traffic over the past week.

Workers in Wisconsin are very well aware the nation stands with them and they look forward to hearing the news about our successful events across the country on Saturday.

In solidarity,

Mary Kay Henry
President, SEIU

The leftist meme is that the Koch brothers are pushing budget cuts for their own personal profit. It's hard to see how the Kochs could be harmed or helped by Wisconsin or Oklahoma tax policy. But it's easy to see how a currency trader (moveon.org sponsor and billionaire George Soros is a currency trader) could profit if America's currency collapses under the weight of massive amounts of debt and higher taxes. Someone with a history of betting against currencies and profiting from the economic collapse of other nations' currencies might have a strong motivation to incite pressure against getting America's fiscal house in order.

Voters in Oklahoma and in Wisconsin overwhelmingly elected conservative Republicans to office who promised to rein in spending, maintaining services without raising taxes. These newly elected officials are keeping their promises.

For decades, politicians, particularly Democrats, have bought the support of public employee unions by promising benefits somewhere off in the future (pensions with minimal employee contributions, retirement health coverage), while avoiding the tough fiscal choices to fully fund those promises. These politicians could make these future commitments without raising taxes, without cutting services in other areas, without ensuring that the state would have the means to fulfill IOUs that would conveniently come due long after they left office.

The day of reckoning is here. Massive public debt is devaluing our currency, driving energy prices through the roof, pushing food prices up as well. The higher prices and, if the public sector unions have their way, higher taxes fall on the family, friends, and neighbors of the same SEIU members who will gather on the capitol steps later today.

I hope that the vast majority of Oklahomans who want and need more efficient government services at a lower cost will show up at the Capitol today as well and make their voices heard.

Augustine Christian Academy in Tulsa will hold two open houses in the near future for parents interested in enrolling their children in the classical Christian school as full-time or part-time students for the 2011-2012 school year.

Monday, February 28th, 5:30 - 7:00 p.m.
Tuesday, March 8th, 5:30 - 7:00 p.m.

It's an opportunity to tour the school, ask questions, and meet teachers. The school is at 6310 E. 30th St., just west of Sheridan.

Prospective students are also encouraged to shadow a student for a day. Call the ACA office at 918-832-4600 to schedule a visit.

ACA not only offers an excellent academic environment, but we've also found it to be a warm, welcoming community. Beyond the classroom, there's a strong performing arts program and a "house" system that builds community across the grades through service projects and intramural competition.

One of ACA's notable characteristics is its flexibility in working with the circumstances of a student and his family. Homeschool students in grades 6 through 12 can enroll part-time to supplement their homeschool curriculum and to participate in school activities. Younger homeschoolers can enroll in extracurricular programs at ACA. Some financial aid is available. After-care is available at the school (for a fee) to accommodate parental work schedules.

If you have school-aged children, you owe it to them and yourself to get acquainted with all that Augustine Christian Academy has to offer.

Riverwalk Crossing in Jenks faces foreclosure:

Court records show the American National Bank of Texas has started foreclosure proceedings against Colburn Electric, Jerry Gordon, and RWC Management.

I'm skeptical that any riverfront development can duplicate the success of San Antonio's Paseo del Rio, with its combination of a natural bend in a narrow river, historic buildings and tourist draws, all in the heart of a city with a distinctive cultural history where the weather is almost always sunny and warm.

Jenks's Riverwalk Crossing has a nice view of the river. It has (or has had) some good restaurants. But in all the time it's been open, I've only been there a handful of times, although I've enjoyed it when I've visited. It's off by itself, across the levee from Jenks. It's not on the way to anything, and even when we're in Jenks, even when we're at the Aquarium, you've got to make a special trip. You can't just casually drive by to see if its bustling or quiet, to see what shops or restaurants might be open. You've got to deliberately drive into their parking lot, and, since the lot is on the backside of the development, you've got to get out of the car to see what's up. Visiting Riverwalk Crossing is not an impulse decision. And there aren't any "everyday" businesses that would give you a reason to go other than entertainment.

I was impressed that Jerry Gordon was about to get this built without taxpayer funds, and although I'm sad to see it run into hard times, I'm pleased that taxpayer dollars didn't fund what has proved to be an unsuccessful venture.

My wish was granted, at least partly.

In 1976, the second-ever episode of Austin City Limits featured Asleep at the Wheel and Bob Wills' Original Texas Playboys. Here's the first 30 minutes of the Texas Playboys' hour-long segment. The video and audio are out of sync in places, but that may just be my browser

Personnel, in order of being hired by Bob Wills: Sleepy Johnson, fiddle ; Jesse Ashlock, fiddle; Smokey Dacus, drums; Leon McAuliffe, steel guitar; Al Stricklin, piano; Keith Coleman, fiddle; Leon Rausch, vocals; Tommy Allsup, guitar; Bob Kiser, guitar. (Kiser is the guitarist whom you might mistake for Eldon Shamblin.)

San Antonio Rose
Steel Guitar Rag
Stay All Night, Stay a Little Longer
Please Don't Leave Me (Jesse Ashlock vocals)
Milk Cow Blues
Fiddle breakdown: Durang's Hornpipe, Little Betty Brown, Liberty

There's one more episode, from season 3 in 1978, when the Texas Playboys share the stage with Ernest Tubb and His Texas Troubadours.

James Shamblin, nephew of legendary guitarist Eldon Shamblin, has digitized and uploaded the final concert of Bob Wills' Original Texas Playboys, November 16, 1986, at the Will Rogers Coliseum in Fort Worth, Texas. I've organized all 13 parts into a YouTube playlist, so you can watch the entire 90 minute program straight through by clicking the video player above.

The Original Texas Playboys were organized after Bob Wills's death in 1975. The band was made up of a core of Texas Playboys from the glory days in Tulsa -- Leon McAuliffe, Smokey Dacus, Al Stricklin, Joe Frank Ferguson -- and included Playboys from later eras -- Keith Coleman, Leon Rausch, Johnny Gimble, Gene Gasaway. A few years later, Eldon Shamblin would rejoin the group. The agreement was that when one of the originals died, the band would fulfill their remaining engagements and then disband. Pianist Al Stricklin passed on in October 1986, leading to this final concert.

The lineup (in order of joining the Texas Playboys, links are to news stories with biographical info):

Smokey Dacus - drums
Leon McAuliffe - steel guitar
Joe Frank Ferguson - bass
Eldon Shamblin - standard guitar
Clarence Cagle - piano
Leon Rausch - vocals
Gene Gasaway - fiddle
Bob Boatright - fiddle

The performance is funny in places, touching in many others. Bob's last and longest wife, Betty Wills, makes a few remarks. Eldon steps up to the microphone to sing "There'll Be Some Changes Made." June Whalen, one of the original six Playboys in Waco (before Bob came to Oklahoma and added Texas to the name), came on stage to sing.

Here's the set list. Leon Rausch is the vocalist unless otherwise noted.

Texas Playboy Theme
Big Ball's in Cowtown
Boot Heel Drag (instrumental)
Dusty Skies
Marie (Joe Frank Ferguson vocal)
San Antonio Rose
Fiddle breakdown: Little Betty Brown / Liberty
Milk Cow Blues
There'll Be Some Changes Made (Eldon Shamblin vocal)
Take Me Back to Tulsa
Right or Wrong
Blues When It Rains (June Whalen vocal)
Ida Red (Leon McAuliffe vocal; check out Clarence Cagle's solo)
Faded Love
Steel Guitar Rag
Lily Dale
Bubbles in My Beer
Blue Prelude (Joe Frank Ferguson vocal)
Home in San Antone
Maiden's Prayer
Cherokee Maiden
Keepin' Bob Wills Music Alive (written by Bobby Lee)
Texas Playboy Theme - Closing

Many thanks to James Shamblin for making this available. (Next on my wish list -- the 1984 Tulsa reunion concert or their Austin City Limits.appearance.)

A friend's posting on Facebook about yesterday's Dallas County Commission meeting led me to a 1991 Texas Monthly article about the history of race relations in Dallas, and it included this interesting tidbit about the group that dominated Dallas politics for most of the 20th century and how they accomplished that domination (emphasis added):

Much has been written about the Dallas Citizens Council, the white businesmen's junta that controlled the city from the thirties throughthe seventies The bankers, insurance men, and land developers in the DCC laid the foundation for modern Dallas: They attracted commerce and industry, they built freeways, they modernized the airport, they beautified North Dallas They made sure there was plenty of water in the reservoirs. But they also ignored West and South Dallas, where blacks lived. The DCC retained its grip through the at-large city council system, in which councilmembers were elected by the residents of the entire city, rather than by wards or districts. That guaranteed that the members of the DCC, with access to money and connections, could handpick the city council. And they did, effectively keeping blacks and other minorities out.

It seems like every city in this region had a clique or regime of this sort, a private organization that could operate without public oversight but which had control, overt or covert, over the actions of local government.

In St. Louis, they call it Civic Progress, which led the effort to demolish or divide much of St. Louis' downtown and inner city in the name of urban renewal and efficient roads; as recently as 2004 Civic Progress was pushing a plan to reorganize the city's government to their liking.

It's understandable that groups like Save Our Tulsa would be nostalgic for such an arrangement. The beauty of this sort of group is that it can Get Things Done in the name of Progress. You can formulate your plans out of the public eye and get the necessary governmental approvals as quietly as possible. No need to compromise your bold vision to appease the concerns of those who might be hurt by your plan. By the time opposition can form, it's too late. With the local newspaper publisher as part of the group, you can frame public opinion and characterize opponents as obstructionists of questionable sanity. Only with such bold leadership can you run expressways through neighborhoods and bulldoze "blighted" communities, in the name of building a modern and progressive city.

But such a group, made up of likeminded people of similar backgrounds will have its blind spots. Disrespectful of the perspective of outsiders, the clique isn't open to any correction for those blind spots. The result is that even the regime's best laid plans go wrong in ways they never expected. (That's far from the only problem created for a city by this way of doing business.)

You know of similar groups in other cities or our own? Leave a comment.

Rodger Randle, a Democrat, was the last Mayor of Tulsa under the old city commission form of government and the first under the mayor-council form of government. When he defeated incumbent Mayor Dick Crawford in 1988, a new city charter was a key plank in his platform. He has issued a two-page statement of his views on the proposed charter changes currently under discussion. Randle believes that the proposed changes will not fix the problems facing our city government and would actually make matters worse.

(If you're on the home page, you can read it via the "Continue reading" link; otherwise just scroll down.)

In reading his comments, keep in mind that the goal of those shaping the new charter back in 1989 was to produce a representative government in name only. We would have geographically-elected councilors but only with just enough power to avoid a federal Voting Rights Act lawsuit. As much power as possible would be concentrated in the mayor's office. Councilors were to be kept in line. That attitude seems to explain some of Randle's comments, e.g.:

The rationale in the 1990 charter placing council members up for re-election every even-numbered year was to provide the Mayor, who has a four year term, an opportunity to attempt any necessary housecleaning on the Council on the off-year when all the members of the Council were up but the Mayor was not....

Nine Council members are a lot for the mayor to try to look after already. Making that number bigger will only increase the amount of time that the Mayor will have to spend lobbying and politicking them....

In addition, the more counselors there are, the more difficult it will be for voters to keep track of who is who and who deserves to be reelected and who does not....

I had thought mayoral contempt for the City Council was a Susan Savage innovation, but evidently it was there from the beginning.

It seems to me that the more councilors there are, the fewer constituents per councilor, the more likely a constituent is to have regular, direct access to his councilor and the more likely he is to know whether his councilor deserves to be re-elected or not. Randle's comment makes more sense if you replace "voters" with "special interest groups like the Chamber and the homebuilders."

Randle worries that adding councilors would create the kind of dysfunctional legislative dynamics at work in Chicago city government. But Chicago has 50 aldermen, which is a far cry from 13, a number small enough to seat everyone around the same table. Care to guess how many members serve on the city council of Detroit, the poster child for urban dysfunction?

Although Randle's central concern -- protecting the mayor's power and prerogatives against legislative encroachment -- is misguided, he makes some good points. Randle is right that moving city elections to the state/federal dates would put a heavy burden on voters and reduce the scrutiny given to candidates for city office. He is right in saying that partisanship hasn't been a significant factor in City of Tulsa politics:

Since the adoption of the new form of government, on the other hand, we have not seen much mischief at City Hall that appears to have been purely produced by partisanship. Members of the City Council that form alliances seem to do so totally independently of partisan affiliation.

And, as he says, "we should be cautious of making permanent structural changes simply in response to temporary personality issues that may affect current relations between the Mayor and Council."

In general, and at every level of government, we should be cautious of making a structural change because it seems to solve a current political problem. In the 1970s and 1980s, when the Republicans dominated the White House but couldn't win a majority in Congress, Republicans wanted a more powerful executive branch. In the 1990s, when we had the majority in Congress but the Democrats had the presidency, we wanted to rein in the White House. Political types seem prone to think that today's circumstances will obtain forever.

Randle is also right that it's the mayor's job to lead, to work to gain the councilors' cooperation and support for his initiatives.

But the mayor shouldn't regard the City Council as a smelly flock of sheep in need of herding, but as peers and partners who can complement his strengths and weaknesses. A mayor is one person, with one set of friends and influences and experiences -- and blind spots. City councilors bring nine more sets of friends and influences and experiences to the table, and, if the mayor is wise, he'll make use of those resources to compensate for his weaknesses and blind spots.

(There is an area where the mayor does need more power than he currently has -- in the executive branch of government. The civil service rules make it difficult if not impossible for the mayor to appoint department heads and other key decision-makers in city government. I would support a charter change that would allow the mayor to hire and fire department heads, with new appointees to be approved by the council.)

That said, here are former Tulsa Mayor Rodger Randle's thoughts on the proposed charter amendments:

The Tiffany Transcriptions, discs recorded in 1946 and 1947 for radio use, contain some of the best material ever recorded by Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys. Tom Diamant, whose Kaleidoscope Records made that material available to the general public on a series of LPs in the 1980s, has a website devoted to the Tiffany Transcriptions. The site has been recently reorganized, with improved navigation and new content, using WordPress blog software to provide the site's infrastructure.

The discography allows you to see the complete list of recordings or to browse pages for individual sessions, where you'll find the list of session personnel, the session's location, and related documents like the musician's union contract and the studio contract. A new page tells the story of the never-released Tiffany Transcriptions Vol. 10 and a planned CD of Bob Wills fiddle tunes from the transcriptions.

Another interesting new feature: scans of the 52 labels for the discs issued to radio stations. The labels provide the name, time, licensing organization (ASCAP or BMI), and vocalist (or main instrumentalist) for each song.

Just skimming the labels and the discography, I see a bunch of songs I'd love to hear that aren't yet available to the public -- Tiffany versions of "Don't Be Ashamed of Your Age," "Goodnight Little Sweetheart," "No Disappointment in Heaven," "Wang Wang Blues," and "Yearning," several waltzes, pop tunes like "Love Letters in the Sand" and "Don't Fence Me In."

Now that it's possible to release music without the expense of producing physical media, I wonder what hoops one would have to jump through to release, through, say, Amazon or iTunes, a series of albums with the Tiffany material that didn't make it into one of the Kaleidoscope releases. As a start, I imagine you'd need to obtain the masters or the best available copies of the songs and get the appropriate licenses to use the recordings and the compositions. I'd love to know more about the process; maybe even try to make it happen myself.

MORE: Johnny Cuviello, who provided the beat for most of the Tiffany Transcriptions sessions, is the subject of a 2008 article in the Journal of Texas Music History. The article explains how this Fresno-born son of Italian immigrants became known as the Texas Drummer Boy.

On pages 7 and 8 of the story, there's a photo of the Texas Playboys doing their Tuesday night KGO radio show from the stage of the Oakland Auditorium Theater. The band is uplit, a very neat effect. On stage: Tommy Duncan and the McKinney Sisters, Johnny Cuviello on drums flanked by Billy Jack Wills and Luke Wills, both playing bass fiddles, Louis Tierney, Bob Wills, and Joe Holley on fiddle, Alex Brashear with his muted trumpet, MC Cactus Jack (Cliff Johnson), Millard Kelso at the piano, and Junior Barnard on standard guitar next to his monogrammed amplifier. (Announcer Jack Webb is not on stage.)

OKDemocrat.com is a very old-school message board, mainly about struggles within the Oklahoma state and Tulsa County Democrat organizations, but also touching on broader local political issues. If you want to find out which local Democrats don't like each other and why, this is the place to go. Sometimes there are rumblings of stories and scandals weeks before they emerge in the mainstream.

The tone of the board is set by its proprietor, Rusty Goodman, a Vietnam veteran and long-time Democrat operative. Rusty and many of the regulars on the board are old-fashioned, pro-military, pro-traditional-values economic populists who are frustrated with the anti-military, anti-traditional-values liberals who dominate the state and county organizations and, according to the OKDemocrat regulars, are running the Democrat brand in Oklahoma into the ground.

(An aside: I don't understand my fellow Republicans who wish our side had a message board like this. It's fine for the Democrats to air their dirty laundry for our amusement; why should Republicans return the favor?)

All that to say that Rusty Goodman and the OKDemocrat board have had a run-in with Tulsa's monopoly daily newspaper. On February 9, a message was posted on OKDemocrat, apparently by Tulsa World web editor Jason Collington, saying that an OKDemocrat post "contains a copyrighted story from the Tulsa World and it is printed in full on your website, which is a violation of the copyright,' and that the story had been altered, which "makes your website subject to civil action."

The post apparently from Collington went on to ask for the deletion of the offending post "and any other posts that contain complete versions of our copyrighted stories."

The next sentence tickled me: "You are welcome to excerpt our stories and provide a link back to the story." It was six years ago this week that Tulsa World VP John Bair sent me, Chris Medlock, and two other websites a letter saying that we were not at all welcome to do that, that the act of linking and excerpting constituted a copyright violation. (The Whirled made no effort to follow through after the threat received national attention and ridicule.)

I confess I have sympathy for the World's position. I love it when someone excerpts and comments on a BatesLine post, with attribution and a link to the post. I don't like it when someone posts the entire entry, particularly if there's no attribution and no link.

A newspaper needs money to hire reporters, editors, and webmonkeys, and that money mainly comes from advertiser dollars. If you put a complete newspaper article on your website, the reader has no reason to go to the newspaper's website to read it, where his presence boosts readership numbers which in turn can be used to sell ads, so that the reporters and webmeisters can be paid. If you don't even provide a link or attribution, the reader doesn't even know where to go if he wants to read more stories of that sort. The right thing to do is to excerpt a few sentences to provide the context needed for your comments, cite the source, and provide a link to the source if it's on the web.

That said, it appears that the Whirled is taking an odd route to defending its copyright, using people on the content side of the house to pursue the matter, instead of someone on the legal or corporate side of the company. According to statements on OKDemocrat, the paper's state capitol reporter posted a request on Facebook for contact information for OKDemocrat. Web editor Collington submitted his message to an OKDemocrat feedback form and, when that got no response, posted to an OKDemocrat topic.

In reply, Goodman stated, "I have copies of over 30 stories that broke here first and a few days later showed up at the Tulsa World. Some of them almost word for word were printed in the Tulsa World from this site. Yet no credit was given to this site for breaking the news first."

I'll be watching OKDemocrat to see how all this works out. Should be interesting.

The usual dismal turnout. Why don't school board candidates run organized campaigns? Here are the unofficial totals from the Tulsa County Election Board. I'm not sure whether the results for districts overlapping into other counties (Broken Arrow, Skiatook, Tulsa Technology Center) are complete results or only for those precincts in Tulsa County. According to the election board, only 228 people voted in the Tulsa Technology Center Zone 2 race, and none of the candidates broke into triple digits.

Voters across Oklahoma will elect school board members and vote on school bond issues tomorrow, Tuesday, February 8, 2011.

Snow from the February 1 record storm plus the extra snowfall since then continues to make streets hazardous. Many Tulsa polling locations are still very hard to reach by car. To minimize the risk to poll workers, the Tulsa County Election Board is consolidating polling places for tomorrow's election:

Due to hazardous conditions with many parking and sidewalk areas at many of our regular polling places, the Tulsa County Election Board is consolidating many Polling Place locations for Tuesday, February 8, 2011, into larger locations which are continuing to be snowplowed.

While Tulsa Public Schools originally thought they would be able to assist with clearing parking areas and sidewalk areas at the regular polling places, with the continued precipitation falling, it was decided late Friday, February 4, that it would be best to allow the Tulsa County Election Board to consolidate precincts into larger multi-purpose facilities, as is being done in the Union School District and the Tulsa Technology School District.

Click the link for details, and here is a precinct-by-precinct list (PDF) showing which precincts will be voting (many areas of the county have no election), where each precinct will vote tomorrow, and, for reference, where the precinct usually votes.

Here is a link to the League of Women Voters of Tulsa 2011 school election voter guide (PDF).

All voters in the Union School District will vote at UMAC, the high school arena on Mingo Rd north of 71st St. Union has a $21.6 million bond issue and one contested board seat -- Office No. 1, Jeff Bennett vs. Bobbie Jo Eversole.

Tulsa Public Schools has one board seat -- Office No. 1, west of the river and northwest of downtown -- a rematch from four years ago between incumbent Gary Percefull and retired Booker T. Washington High School teacher Brenda Barre, both Democrats. Neither candidate appears to be active online. Here's the column I wrote endorsing Brenda Barre in the 2007 Tulsa School Board race. Polling places will be open at Reed Park recreation center for voters who live southwest of the river and the Tulsa County Election Board for voters who live northeast of the river.

East Tulsa and Catoosa area voters have a three-way race for Tulsa Technology Center (vo-tech) board, Zone 2. Candidates are Catoosa Public Schools superintendent Rick Kibbe, former Tulsa police chief Drew Diamond, and retired DEA agent DuWayne Barnett. Tulsa County voters in Zone 2 will vote at the Fair Meadows Exhibit Hall at Expo Square (Tulsa County Fairgrounds).

Conservative Republican activist Mike Ford, a leader in the Mike Huckabee's Oklahoma campaign in 2008, has endorsed three candidates in south Tulsa school districts on his "Vote for Conservatives for School Board" Facebook page.

Bobbie Jo Eversole, Union (opposing incumbent Jeff Bennett)
Harold Vermillion, Broken Arrow (open seat -- opposing Richard Parker)
Jeromy Walsh, Bixby (opposing incumbent Brian Wiesman)

Between the snow and the different precinct locations, turnout is likely to be lower than the usually abysmal levels. Gary Percefull beat Brenda Barre by just 32 votes out of 856 cast. Your one vote could make a huge difference. And if you have a four-wheel drive vehicle and are confident driving on snow-packed roads, consider volunteering to help the candidate of your choice get voters to the polls.

There's a good article by Mike Easterling in the brand new edition of Urban Tulsa Weekly about the possibility that the City of Tulsa will establish its own in-house planning capability to replace the work it currently outsources to the Development Services department of the Indian Nations Council of Government (INCOG).

Easterling spoke to Tulsa City Councilors John Eagleton, Bill Christiansen, and G. T. Bynum, INCOG executive director Rich Brierre, urbanist / developer Jamie Jamieson, city Chief of Staff Terry Simonson, County Commission deputy Mark Liotta, TMAPC chairman Bill Leighty, former TMAPC member Elizabeth Wright, and me.

What was striking about the story was how often people who should know better confuse the TMAPC and INCOG, and confuse the various roles that INCOG fulfills with respect to the City of Tulsa. If I weren't a trusting fellow, I might think that those who wish to preserve the city's contract with INCOG for planning services were deliberately trying to confuse the issue.

Last March, I wrote a detailed explanation of INCOG's multiple roles, its relationship with the TMAPC and the City of Tulsa, and how that arrangement differs from the situation in other cities. It's worth reading in its entirety, but here's the gist:

The vital point here is that the City of Tulsa's relationship with INCOG as Metropolitan Planning Organization and the COG for the Sub-State Planning Area, its relationship with INCOG as provider of land planning services, and its relationship with TMAPC are not legally or logically interconnected. The City could choose not to renew its contract with INCOG for land use planning services and instead staff TMAPC and BoA internally. The City could move to a city planning commission like Oklahoma City's, while continuing to contract land use planning to INCOG. The City could even retain INCOG for land use record keeping but give City of Tulsa planners the job of analyzing and making recommendations on zoning applications and comprehensive plan modifications.

All of those choices are independent of each other, and none of them would affect Tulsa's relationship with INCOG as the COG for the sub-state planning area or as the Metropolitan Planning Organization for regional transportation planning.

So keep that in mind as you read the comments of Brierre and Liotta, both of whom make frequent reference to the TMAPC, which is not the organization under discussion.

Both Liotta and Brierre suggest that the current arrangement is a good deal for the taxpayers of the City of Tulsa. But if that's true, it's a rotten deal for the taxpayers of the Tulsa County residents of Broken Arrow, Skiatook, Owasso, and the other municipalities, all of whom are not only paying for their own planning staff and planning commission, but they're paying for the City of Tulsa's as well, with no benefit to themselves.

Liotta said the issue may be worth examining, and he said the county is certainly to open to anything that saves the taxpayers money. He just doubts that would happen in this instance.

"Probably not, would be my guess," Liotta said. "But that's something they need to study before they make that decision."

Brierre believes the city receives great value for its money under the current arrangement.

"If you look at (financial) support, it's a bargain for the city of Tulsa," he said. "The vast majority of the caseload is the city of Tulsa, but at this time, the county of Tulsa is providing the majority of funding to support the TMAPC.

Brierre said the city's share of the funding for the Planning Commission comes to only 40 percent, though approximately 90 percent of the cases that come before the TMAPC concern sites in the city.

If Liotta and his County Commissioner bosses are looking out for Tulsa County taxpayers, they should end this subsidy immediately, and they should be glad that the City of Tulsa wants out.


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Thanks be to God: We are all cozy and home. Power, cable, phone, and internet all work. Plenty of food in the fridge and pantry. I made my last trips to the store and the gas station at about 10 Monday night, just as sharp ice pellets began to fall from the sky. Reasor's had almost everything we needed, but they didn't have sweet potatoes.

So I tried the Walmart Neighborhood Market, which seemed more picked-over than Reasor's, with twice as many customers packed into a smaller space, made even more cramped by the pallets of groceries in all the aisles. Apparently they won't deviate from policy, not even for a massive snow storm: Self-checkout was closed, as it normally is at that hour, although under the circumstances it could have helped a great deal. The main entrance into the produce section was blocked off, as usual at that time of day, so incoming customers had to work their way past customers in the checkout line and carts filled with items to go back on the shelves or, presumably, into the trash (including one cart with prepackaged meat, yogurt, milk, and a sickly, suspicious drip onto the floor). The customers in line had to choose between moving out of the way of incoming customers or out of the way of shopping carts trying to maneuver around the restocking pallets. (Those sweet potatoes had better be the best ever.)

As I returned from getting gasoline, I saw a jogger out in the mixed sleet and snow. Not someone who was caught in the storm and hurrying home, but someone dressed to run and jogging at a steady pace down one of our main neighborhood streets. No doubt he was out running in it just to be able to say he was.

On Tuesday I finished a project -- a Kodak photo/memory book for my dad -- the kids played Wii, we all watched Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (none of us had seen it before -- great movie, although the ending is improbable), and we all played Apples to Apples Jr. and Sorry. We spent some time outside in the late afternoon, when the sun came out, but we couldn't take the cold for long. Drifts were over two feet high next to our house, and the snow seemed to average about 14" around the yard. The loose powdery snow wouldn't pack into snowballs or snowmen.

This storm poses very different problems than the December 2007 ice storm. In '07, power outages were widespread and lengthy, with weatherheads and meters pulled off the sides of houses by the ice. On the other hand, the roads cleared quickly as the ground had been warm. We were cold and in the dark, but we were mobile. I sent my family to relatives in Arkansas; I toughed it out with the help of a gas-log fire and gas water heater and spending as much time as possible away from the house. Power came back Thursday afternoon after three and a half days without.

It's much nicer that we have power this go around. The powdery snow and sleet didn't stick to wires and tree branches. On the other hand, that same powdery, drifting snow has made it impossible to drive without getting stuck. It doesn't pack down, and if you push it out of the way, it doesn't stay put. It's like an ocean of tiny packing peanuts.

As a consequence, not only have all schools cancelled classes, but City of Tulsa trash service has been cancelled for Wednesday as well. Bus service was cancelled for most of the day, and may be cancelled tomorrow as well:

For Wednesday February 2, 2011, Tulsa Transit management will assess the condition of the streets in the early morning. An announcement will then be made as to the service to be run on Wednesday. The current plan for the paratransit Lift Program service for Wednesday is to run trips already scheduled for dialysis passengers only. No additional Lift Program trips will be run on Wednesday.

All Tuesday flights departing Tulsa International Airport were cancelled. As for Wednesday, Southwest Airlines has cancelled all of its departures from Tulsa before 4 pm (as far as I can tell; the website makes it difficult). A special page on the snowpocalypse states:

We have cancelled a majority of our Tuesday flights to/from TUL; and some of our Wednesday morning flights to/from TUL. Our resumption of service is contingent upon the conditions of the runways, taxiways, other airport services, and city's infrastructure to/from the airport.

Note that even if the airport is up and running, Southwest may not fly if people can't make it to the airport.

The last time I was around this much snow was during a two-week business trip in early January 2004 to East Aurora, New York, near Buffalo. The nice thing about East Aurora is that it's a compact place. I had three taverns and a movie theater within walking distance of the hotel. My first night in town, with two feet of snow on the ground, I put on my L. L. Bean Maine hunting shoes, walked a block to a tavern, and had a prime rib sandwich and a Guinness. The people who owned and operated those eateries could walk to work. (In some cases, they had only to walk downstairs.)

My parents had plenty of amusement. The birdseed they scattered on the patio brought juncos, cardinals, sparrows, finches, blue jays, mourning doves, and red wing blackbirds, and those birds attracted...

But the biggest visitor, a red-tailed hawk that came swooping in with the anticipation of a fat little junco for supper, but not expecting an icy landing, he crashed into the patio doors with lots of noise and fluttering of wings. Supper was gone and the embarrassed hawk retreated quickly to a nearby tree, then he was gone from there before I could grab the camera.

Any interesting sightings from your picture window? Has anyone been out on the roads? Leave a comment!

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