May 2011 Archives

As many Americans avoided the news over the long holiday weekend, those watching the social networking site Twitter saw a fascinating story unfold involving a liberal congressman and a photo of a clothed but discernibly turgid body part that was broadcast publicly from his verified Twitter account and addressed to a young lady to whom he is not married.

In case you missed it, on Friday night a lewd photograph was sent from the Twitter account of U. S. Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) to an attractive female college student from Washington state. Weiner initially claimed that his account -- an account that has been verified by Twitter as genuinely belonging to Weiner -- was hacked. Despite this claim of identity theft, Weiner has not sought the assistance of law enforcement in finding the culprit.

The tweet in question contained the handle of a single Twitter user (known as a reply or mention) followed by a link to a photo on Weiner's yfrog account. (yfrog is a service that provides a simple way to upload a photo and share it onTwitter.)

I'd rather not describe it in detail, but the photo would qualify as a display of nudity under Oklahoma law, although the body part in question was somewhat clothed.

Blogger Ace of Spades took the lead in covering the story, on his own blog and on his Twitter account, pointing out the holes in Weiner's claim that the photo was the result of a hack, challenging Weiner to take the matter to the FBI or congressional computer security officials. As a "reward" for his persistence, Ace has seen the story brushed off and his own work dissed by conservative commentators in the mainstream press.

To my pleasant surprise, however, CNN has given the story some coverage. On Tuesday, Weiner, who is married to a former assistant to Hillary Clinton, finally deigned to be questioned by the press about the photo, but he didn't bother to answer any of the questions, as you'll see in the CNN video below. Kudos to CNN's Dana Bash for grilling Weiner and refusing to be satisfied with his lame non-answers.

To put this in context, last week there was a special election in New York's 26th Congressional District occasioned by the resignation of Christopher Lee, married Republican congressman who sent a shirtless photo of himself in response to a woman's Craigslist personals ad, evidently looking for an extramarital affair. When the picture came to public attention, Lee quit in disgrace.

(Someone will object that Republicans believe in family values, so Lee was a hypocrite and deserves more condemnation than a Democrat up to the same or worse. But I've never heard of a Democrat candidate for office defend extramarital affairs or sending lewd photos to strange women.)

For my Tulsa readers, Weiner's performance is the equivalent of Kathy Taylor's "That is crazy" response to evidence in computerized election board records of her double-voting in Florida and Oklahoma in the November 2000 general election. The denial didn't come for hours, during which time her team could have ascertained that the physical evidence linking her to double-voting no longer existed. Weiner's non-denial denial suggests that he believes evidence still exists that would finger him as the culprit.

Weiner has over 40,000 Twitter followers but followed only 91 Twitter accounts as recently as April. That's not an unusual ratio for a celebrity, as Peter Ingemi notes in a New York Post op-ed:

Coincidences all, but there's one more that millions of Twitter users will understand best: On Twitter, famous people tend to have tens of thousands to millions of followers -- but they themselves follow only a fraction of that amount. Rep. Weiner is a man of national prominence, a rising star in the Democratic Party, frequently on TV, a past and likely future candidate for mayor. He knows and is known by thousands of movers, shakers, members of the press and politicians on the city, state and national levels. Yet, as of yesterday, he was following fewer than 200 others -- and, with all those famous folks to choose from, one of the few he followed was Cordova, a 21-year-old college student who lives nearly 3,000 miles away in Bellingham,Wash.

The target of the lewd photo, an attractive female college student who tweeted a joking reference to Weiner as her "boyfriend", was one of those handful of follows. By following this young woman, Weiner made it possible for her to send him private direct messages (DMs) on Twitter. Karol Markowicz makes the case that it's likely Weiner intended to send his coed Twitter pal a DM but failed:

If you're not a twitter user, you may not be aware how easy it is to accidentally send a private message as a public broadcast. Here's my friend Iggy asking his 3614 followers if we're on for lunch tomorrow and here's his correction later. Here's reality star Lisa Vanderpump wishing someone well and her correction. These are just two examples in the last few days. It happens all the time. It's happened to the best of us.

That's why it was clear to most regular twitter users exactly what had happened. Congressman Weiner meant to send the photo privately but made the same mistake as Iggy and Lisa--with slightly worse-off consequences.

Back in February, Weiner promised to change his profile picture to his bar mitzvah photo when he had gained 10,000 followers. But he assured his Twitter followers at the time that he wouldn't go further than that.

Clearly the Jewfro is working. Nearly 10k followers. If i hit that ill post my Bar Mitzvah pic. #dontworrynobrispicsat20k

Despite that promise, it appears that on Friday Rep. Weiner provided his more than 40,000 followers evidence that the covenant ceremony had indeed been performed.

MORE: Blogger Doug Ross has put together a comprehensive timeline of the story and Weiner's intriguing Twitter connections.

STILL MORE: Stacy McCain boils it down -- one consequence or the other is true and either way the story matters:

CONSEQUENCE A: An influential member of Congress has been the target of a disgusting,criminal and perhaps politically motivate smear attempt, involving the illegal penetration of a government official's private communications; or

CONSEQUENCE B: An influential member of Congress, married to a key aide to the Secretary of State, has been engaged in surreptitious sex-messaging online and, when this sordid activity was exposed, has initiated what can only be called a "cover-up attempt."

The final public hearing on the proposed redrawing of City Council lines will be tonight (May 31, 2011) at 7 pm at the Central Center at Centennial Park, on 6th Street west of Peoria, just east of downtown. (Here is the Tulsa World story on the topic, and here is the graphic of the final proposal and an alternative.)

Although the final proposal had the support of the two Republicans on the Election District Commission, I believe that the alternative from the Democrat on the Commission is a better plan, for two reasons: The alternative plan is less radical -- moves fewer people to new districts -- and it somewhat limits the damage that can be done by pro-big-government, higher-tax Midtown "Money Belt" voters. The alternative is not perfect, but I believe it is an improvement over the official plan.

The final proposal moves central and southern Maple Ridge, Terwilliger Heights, Utica Square, and other upscale Midtown neighborhoods from District 9 to District 4. Based on past voting patterns, I believe this will make it less likely that a limited-government, anti-corporate-welfare conservative can be nominated in District 4, and that even if such a candidate were nominated, pro-high-tax, pro-corporate-welfare Republicans in the district would crossover to support the Democrat rather than the limited-government conservative.

There are rumors that the same political consultant who drew the ridiculous State Senate map was instrumental in drawing the final proposal for the City Council. Keep in mind that this same consultant has been involved in Mayor Bartlett's campaign, the Vision 2025 and river projects sales tax hike votes, and the effort to gut Tulsa's historic preservation ordinance via the State Legislature. It seems reasonable to speculate that the lines such a consultant would draw would tend to work for lines that help pro-tax candidates and work against pro-neighborhood-conservation candidates.

If you'd just as soon not have to fight yet another proposed tax increase for frivolities, I'd encourage you to show up tonight and support the alternative plan. Unfortunately, there's no apparent way to comment online.

Today is the 90th anniversary of a white mob's attack on Tulsa's African-American district, known as Greenwood after its principal avenue. The attack, which began the evening of May 31, 1921, killed hundreds and left thousands wounded and homeless.

Once hushed up, the attack known as the Tulsa Race Riot has received an increasing amount of public attention over the last 30 years. I have half a shelf taken up with books on the topic, and I will leave that history to others who have told it far better than I could ever hope to do.

What is often overlooked is the triumph and tragedy that followed the riot. The story of Tulsa's Greenwood District did not end in 1921, and over the last few years I've taken it upon myself to learn that story and attempt to bring it to a broader audience.

After the riot, there was an attempt by the city's white leaders to keep Greenwood from being rebuilt. The City Commission passed an ordinance extending the fire limits to include Greenwood, prohibiting frame houses from being rebuilt. The idea was to designate the district for industrial use and resettle blacks to a new place further away from downtown, outside the city limits.

African-American attorneys won an injunction against the new fire ordinance; the court decreed that it constituted a violation of the Fourth Amendment, a taking of property without due process. The injunction opened the door for Greenwood residents to rebuild.

They did it themselves, without insurance funds (most policies had a riot exclusion) or any other significant outside aid....

The Greenwood district flourished well into the 1950s. In 1938, businessmen formed the Greenwood Chamber of Commerce. A 1942 directory lists 242 businesses, including over 50 eateries, 38 grocers, a half dozen clothing stores, plus florists, physicians, attorneys, furriers, bakeries, theaters, and jewelers -- more than before the riot 21 years earlier. The 1957 city directory reveals a similar level of commercial activity in Greenwood....

The rebuilding, subsequent renaissance, and final removal of Greenwood are documented by aerial and street photos, land records, fire insurance maps, newspaper stories, street directories, and census data.

All that raw data is fleshed out in the memories of those who lived through those times. Some of those stories have been captured in books like They Came Searching by Eddie Faye Gates and Black Wall Street by Hannibal Johnson.

Here are a couple of reminiscences included by Gates in her book that clearly connect the term Black Wall Street to the post-riot, rebuilt Greenwood:

"They just were not going to be kept down. They were determined not to give up. So they rebuilt Greenwood and it was just wonderful. It became known as The Black Wall Street of America."

- Eunice Jackson

"The North Tulsa after the riot was even more impressive than before the riot. That is when Greenwood became known as 'The Black Wall Street of America.'"

- Juanita Alexander Lewis Hopkins

But then came the planners:

"Slum clearance," as a cure for Greenwood's ills, had been discussed for years, but in 1967, Tulsa was accepted into the Federal Model Cities program.

Model Cities was not just an ordinary urban renewal program. It was intended to be an improvement over the old method of bulldozing depressed neighborhoods. The Federal government provided four dollars for every dollar of local funding, and the plan involved advisory councils of local residents and attempted to address education, economic development, and health care as well as dilapidated buildings.

For all the frills, Model Cities was still primarily an urban removal program: Save the neighborhood by destroying it. Homes and businesses were cleared for the construction of I-244 and US 75 and for assemblage into larger tracts that might attract developers. Displaced blacks moved north, into neighborhoods that had been built in the '50s for working class whites.

Only the determination of a few community leaders saved a cluster of buildings in Deep Greenwood -- but these buildings are isolated from any residential area, cut off from community.

In April 1970, as Tulsa's Model Cities urban renewal program was beginning to demolish homes, Mabel Little, whose new home was burned down in the 1921 attack, told the Tulsa City Commission [from the April 11, 1970, Tulsa Tribune]:

"You destroyed everything we had. I was here in it, and the people are suffering more now than they did then."

Years later, Jobie Holderness reflected on the spiritual damage done by urban renewal:

"Urban renewal not only took away our property, but something else more important -- our black unity, our pride, our sense of achievement and history. We need to regain that. Our youth missed that and that is why they are lost today, that is why they are in 'limbo' now."

Here's my talk on this topic at Ignite Tulsa in 2009:

And here are links to previous BatesLine entries about Greenwood's renaissance:

Greenwood 1957: A summary of commercial activity in Greenwood, based on the 1957 Polk street directory of Tulsa.

Greenwood's streetcar: The Sand Springs Railroad (includes photos)

The rise and fall of Greenwood (includes high res 1951 aerial photo of Deep Greenwood)

Tulsa 1957 restaurants: A KML (Google Maps) file locating restaurants listed in the 1957 street and phone directories, including many that lined Greenwood Ave.

Film of Oklahoma's 1920's black communities

Notes on the sources documenting Greenwood's post-riot renaissance

Physical signs, such as the commemorative plaques along Greenwood's sidewalks and on the Greenwood Cultural Center, that document the district's reconstruction after the riot and demolition during urban renewal

Finally, here at a glance are three Sanborn maps from 1915, 1939, and 1962, showing Deep Greenwood over the decades:

Sanborn Map: Deep Greenwood in 1915

Greenwood-Sanborn-1915-500.png

Sanborn Map: Deep Greenwood in 1939

Greenwood-Sanborn-1939-500.png

Sanborn Map: Deep Greenwood in 1962

Greenwood-Sanborn-1962-500.png

On March 10, 1981, Tom Diamant recorded an hour-long interview with three veteran members of Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys, Eldon Shamblin (guitarist, arranger, and sometime band manager), Tiny Moore (mandolin, fiddle, and occasional vocals), and Tiny's wife Dean McKinney Moore, one half of the McKinney Sisters.

Diamant, whose Kaleidoscope Records brought the Texas Playboys' Tiffany Transcriptions recordings from 1946-1947 to the public in the 1980s, has posted the interview on his TiffanyTranscriptions.com website.

Eldon and Tiny were in Reno, Nevada, to perform with Merle Haggard and His Strangers. The two had toured as part of Haggard's band from 1973 to 1976 and rejoined in 1981.

For a western swing fan, it's a joy to listen to. There's a lot of good-natured ribbing and laughter. There's also a lot of detail on their careers and lives before and after their time with Bob Wills.

Some interview highlights:

  • The group enthuses over the brand new Sony Walkman.
  • Tiny Moore remembers his years with the Jubileers (aka Jimmy Hart and the Merrymakers) in Port Arthur, Texas, and with a Cajun band in Louisiana called Happy Fats and the Rainbow Ramblers, Leo Raley and "It Makes No Difference Now," the electric mandolin player who inspired Tiny to take up the instrument; and Houston-area western swing musicians like pioneering swing steel guitarist Bob Dunn.
  • Eldon recalls his early years: as an acoustic guitarist at a Tulsa CBS radio station "swinging the classics," getting hired by Bob Wills in November 1937, how he started playing electric guitar.
  • Eldon's influences: Didn't listen to country music, grew up listening to big band swing music; when he first heard Django Reinhardt and Charlie Christian.
  • Eldon's time with the Alabama Boys in '35, '36, and the many other Texas Playboys who came from that band.
  • Commonwealth bands and when and why Bob Wills' band stopped being one.
  • The McKinney Sisters' start in amateur shows and how they were hired by Bob Wills
  • Tiny Moore's providential encounter with Bob Wills at a Beaumont pig stand in August 1946
  • Eldon's reunion with Bob in November '46 and his first job back with the band: A battle dance with Spade Cooley at Santa Monica Pier
  • Why Bob had them play the same song twice back-to-back at dances
  • What Bob told Eldon about why Bob hollered
  • Recording sessions from the late '40s, and the only time Tiny played a Stradivarius
  • Tiny Moore's vocals on "Ida Red Likes the Boogie" and "Jolie Blon' Likes the Boogie"
  • Tiny's Bigsby five-string mandolin
  • Tiny's years at Wills Point and with the Billy Jack Wills band
  • Bob Wills' movie career and why it didn't work out
  • Merle Haggard's Bob Wills tribute album
  • The McKinneys' music after Bob Wills
  • Tiny Moore's book of Texas fiddle tunes
  • Tiny Moore and Jethro Burns' 1978 "Back to Back" album with Eldon on rhythm guitar
  • Eldon Shambin Day in Oklahoma and his weekly gigs at the Caravan Ballroom
  • The enduring appreciation for Bob Wills' music
  • Remembering guitarist Junior Barnard
  • Why Eldon and Tiny keep playing
  • Tiny talks about his then-new album "Tiny Moore Music"

Great listening. Many thanks to Tom Diamant for posting it.

Browsing through a copy of The Happiness Project at the airport bookshop, I encountered the phrase "aspirational clutter," the stuff you don't need but keep around because represents some project or plan you hope to accomplish (but very likely won't). Consider this a yard sale of blog entries and news articles that turned into aspirational clutter in the form of browser tabs; perhaps someone else will find them useful:

Michelle Malkin: Finding Marizela: The maddening quest for a missing young person's online/text info: People young and old, especially young, leave behind a long trail of digital tracks, but the trail isn't readily accessible when a young woman vanishes.

I have two tabs containing a friend's Facebook notes on political topics. Is it allowable to blog about someone's Facebook notes? Should what happens on Facebook stay on Facebook?

Ed Stetzer: FIRST-PERSON: The May 21 phenomenon & a lesson for all Christians: The forecast and fizzled apocalypse inspires a look back at May 19, 1780, when New England's skies turned dark from smoke and fog and many thought the end was at hand. What should a Christian do in light of the end? Be about his Father's business:

The Connecticut legislature was unsure if they should meet or go home with their families and face the end. They would have to bring in candles to conduct even the most basic business. But, Abraham Davenport (later made famous by a poem) stood up and expressed it clearly. He stood up and proclaimed:

"I choose, for one, to meet Him face to face, No faithless servant frightened from my task, But ready when the Lord of the harvest calls; And therefore, with all reverence, I would say, Let God do His work, we will see to ours. Bring in the candles!"

Davenport was not embarrassed or ashamed that the King might suddenly return. He was waiting and ready -- if this was the moment, so be it. Yet, for many Christians and churches, they have been unengaged in Kingdom work, so the return of the King is bad news -- so, suddenly, they want to "look busy."

You don't need a billboard with a date. You need a passion to live for a soon-returning Savior. I'm not the model on this by any means, but I will be here, doing the same thing I had planned because that's what I think Jesus would have me do.

I want to live ready in light of the soon return of Jesus, not acting like a nut because someone said He is coming back tomorrow. Honestly, I think that is part of why Jesus says, "no man knows the day or the hour." It's because we don't have to think, "Jesus is coming! Look busy" because we have been living in light of His return.

Timothy Dalrymple: A Letter to Harold Camping and Those Who Expected Judgment Day: "Your heart was in the right place.... You were right to believe that God will, one day, gather his children unto himself and draw history as we know it to a close.... You were right to spread the warning.... Our faith is not placed in a person or in a prediction, but in the good news of Jesus Christ.... No one knows when the end will come-so we must always be ready. ... We should remember the difference between scripture and an interpretation of scripture.... We should always beware the power of charismatic leaders and groupthink to sway our beliefs.... Finally, we should never believe that we've got God figured out...."

Hot Air: Is the Rapture schadenfreude turning sinister?: "Despite Camping and his followers being an extremely small fringe group, the media has covered this story as if the entire Southern Baptist church made this prediction."

Christianity Today: Should Christians Care about Harold Camping, May 21, & Doomsday?: A round-up of more commentary on the end of the world

Volokh Conspiracy: Nine Puzzles of Space and Time: Brain teasers involving time and geography. For example:

"I am located in one of the 48 states in the Continental U.S. If I go 90 miles in a straight line, regardless of direction, I will have needed to move my watch one hour ahead to keep it set correctly." In what state was Art?

Mark Steyn: The unzippered princeling and the serving wench: Dominique Strauss-Kahn and the special dispensations reserved for the Great Men of the Permanent Governing Class. And here's Ace of Spades' commentary on the Rights and Privileges of the Ruling Class:

The New Aristocracy isn't made by blood but by credentials. The aristocracy is "born" in each countries two or three most elite schools, and the formal induction into the class occurs in key international/financial government bureaucracies.

And then?

Then you can stop paying taxes with no fear of the consequences the commoners face, and you can forcibly rape (or, actually, sodomize) the help and know that an entire nation's aristocrats will defend you and criticize those lowly prosecutors who charge you.

It has always been the case that the nobility in one country supported the nobility in other countries, even countries with whom they were at war, because national ambition is always well, well secondary to personal ambition. Perpetuating the rights and privileges of the new class is more important to the members of the new class than any transitory policy goal.

Don Surber: They don't want you to travel: Government energy and security policy seem designed to take away Americans' cherished mobility.

John Piper: Thoughts on the Minnesota Marriage Amendment: An irenic and solid case for upholding the definition of marriage, despite the reality of sin and brokenness in marriage. Point 2 puts homosexuality in the broader context of disordered sexuality. Point 3 address the relationship between God's law and human law: "Not all sins should be proscribed by human law, but some should be.... there are many sinful behaviors that should not be illegal." Point 4 addresses the legal significance of marriage, leading to the crux of the issue in point 5:

The issue is not whether same-sex unions are permitted, but whether they are institutionalized. The issue is not whether we tolerate same-sex relationships, but whether we build on them as a foundation for society. The issue is not whether we forbid a particular sin, but whether we mandate social approval of that sin. The issue is not whether we block a sinful behavior, but whether we imbed it in our laws.

That's a few tabs cleared away....

20110524-tornados.gif

The National Weather Service in Tulsa is forecasting a tornado outbreak for Oklahoma tonight, May 24, 2011. Atmospheric conditions are ripe for "strong, long-track tornadoes" of the sort that hit Joplin on Sunday evening, the sort that can rip a long half-mile-wide swath across a city, the sort that hit Moore, Oklahoma City, Midwest City, Stroud, and Mulhall on May 3, 1999.

I'm concerned that overzealous weather coverage has made us complacent. The sirens sound at the first sign of rotation in the clouds, and the temptation is to watch the TV to see whether there's really a funnel, and whether it's going to come anywhere near our part of the county, rather than actually taking cover. The odds that an announced tornado warning will result in actual damage within a mile of me seems pretty low. The last time we had any wind-related damage in midtown Tulsa was in 2006, when a microburst destroyed the ferris wheel at Bell's Amusement Park, took the steeple off of Harvard Ave. Baptist Church, and pushed tall oak trees right over.

But it's a potentially deadly mistake to assume that today will be another false alarm. Not only should you make a safe place ready for you and your family, but you should plan to be where you can get to it before the storms hit this evening. You don't want to be outdoors or in a car when the weather hits. Nor do you want to be in a large open-span building like a Walmart or Home Depot or in a glass-walled office tower. Get your errands run early, and get home well before the weather hits. Then make sure you've got batteries, water, flashlights, and a radio ready in your safe place -- whether that's your storm shelter, basement, safe room, or simply an interior hallway with a mattress over your head.

20110524-tornado-okcentral.jpgDon't forget to plan for your pets, and remember that high winds and large hail can cause a great deal of damage as well. In a nutshell, don't leave anything outside that you don't want blown around or bombarded.

When is it likely to hit? The NWS office in Norman says severe thunderstorms, possibly accompanied by large hail and tornadoes, could begin as early as 3 p.m. In eastern Oklahoma the outbreak is expected to begin around 6, but don't put it off preparations until the last minute.

MORE: NWS Norman has information on staying safe in severe weather -- the safest places to be, what you should have with you, and what to do if you're caught away from home when the weather hits.

An ethics investigation by the Tulsa City Auditor's office into Mayor Dewey Bartlett Jr's acceptance of free legal services from a city contractor found that Bartlett Jr violated the city's ethics code.

DOWNLOAD (4.5 MB PDF): Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett Jr Ethics Investigation

Although the services offered by attorney Joel Wohlgemuth were intended as a public service, Bartlett Jr's acceptance of them, rather than paying for his own attorney, could reasonably appear improper "due to personal benefit received and the Mayor's position to potentially approve future contracts between the City and the Contractor." The value of the services performed for the mayor is unknown, but almost certainly exceeds the threshold of $35 for gifts or favors to city officials. The report states, "There reasonably could be a perception of influence of performance of official duties due to the personal benefit received and the Mayor's position to potentially approve future contracts between the City and the Contractor."

Bartlett Jr had previously approved contract extensions for Wohlgemuth's firm, but not since entering into an attorney-client relationship with Wohlgemuth in July 2010.

The report recommends that before accepting free services intended as a public service from a city contractor, the Mayor should seek an opinion from the Ethics Advisory Committee and the services offered should be formally accepted by the City Council using the standard process for accepting donations to the city.

Another finding in the report deserves attention: The City should have a formal process in place for selecting and hiring outside legal services.

Statements during interviews determined selection and engagement of outside legal counsel by the City has varied by Mayoral administrations. Depending on the Mayor and type of case, sometimes Mayors have determined who they wanted and the process was to determine budget amounts, hourly rates and to prepare a contract. Other times the City Attorney and Legal Department staff may have discussions of who would be an appropriate attorney for a particular case and the rates. Previous administrations and City Attorneys have used a Request for Proposal (RFP) process and RFP's are still used for some unusual cases. Without established policy and procedures, the selection process could be subject to manipulation or abuse, inefficiency and higher cost to the City.

Recommendation:
The City should adopt and document policies and procedures for engagement of outside legal counsel.

As it stands, the Mayor could easily shovel lucrative city legal business to personal friends and campaign donors, whether or not the attorneys so blessed are the best choice for a particular case. Many other attorneys are willing and able to do legal work for the city; the opportunity shouldn't be limited to a small group of insiders.

According to the report, the city and its related trusts and authorities have paid Wohlgemuth's firm $1,064,661.58 since 1993.

The City Auditor's office is independent of the other two branches of city government. The auditor is directly elected by the voters, except when a vacancy occurs within a year of the next election. Preston Doerflinger, elected in 2009, resigned to accept a position in Gov. Mary Fallin's administration. His replacement, Clift Richards, was nominated by the Mayor and confirmed by the City Council.

State Sen. Judy Eason-McIntyre (D-Tulsa) has come under attack twice in recent days by prominent Tulsans who evidently oppose educational choice and individual liberty, according to two recent stories by CapitolBeatOK.

Last Thursday, lobbyist Margaret Erling harangued the Tulsa senator on the floor of the Senate over Eason-McIntyre's support for the conference report of a bill that will change the cutoff date for school enrollment from September 1 to July 1. (Margaret Erling is the wife of former KRMG morning show host John Erling Frette.) Under HB 1465, "a child would have to be four by July 1 to enter Pre-K programs, and/or five years old by July 1 to enter kindergarten," according to the CapitolBeatOK story.

In the Monday interview, Eason-McIntyre said that at the time of the incident, she had decided to support two Republican bills in the conference, and had approached "my leader," state Sen. Andrew Rice of Oklahoma City to give him a heads up on her decisions. The upper chamber had just recessed for the day. Sen.Rice was working at his desk, according to Eason-McIntyre.

She briefly explained to Rice her support for the two measures in the conference process (signing a conference report does not bind a member to support a measure on final passage), including H.B. 1465. She said Sen. Rice told her "not to worry about it."

He had, she recounted, asked members of the minority caucus to remain unified through the redistricting process to assure protection of Democratic interests. She explained that with that issue now headed toward resolution, Rice told her he understood her positions on the two measures.

Just as the two had finished speaking, Erling approached. As Erling confronted her, Eason-McIntyre was so perplexed by Erling's attitude that she was, she confessed, briefly confused over which of the two bills had so angered her.

"She was irate, and ranting. I thought she was going to have a stroke," Eason-McIntyre told CapitolBeatOK. Erling, who has several major clients at the Capitol, including Tulsa Public Schools, claimed to Eason-McIntyre that another client, George Kaiser of Tulsa, opposes H.B. 1465.

(The story also reports that the chief of staff of State Superintendent Janet Barresi has also been lobbying against the legislation.)

Then, on Sunday, Kara Gae Neal, the superintendent of Tulsa Technology Center (formerly known as Tulsa Vo-Tech), sent a scathing email to Eason-McIntyre for signing a conference committee report for HB 1652, which would allow concealed-carry permit holders to keep their guns locked in their vehicles in parking lots on vo-tech campuses and a few other types of public venue. According to Neal's email, Eason-McIntyre had the leverage to kill the bill in committee.

(Kara Gae Neal is the wife of retired Tulsa World editorial page editor Ken Neal.)

"I cannot believe that under the cloak of no public vote, you signed out of committee the only gun bill left alive this year, HB 1652, which will bring guns to Career Tech campuses across the state.

"I cannot believe that you have said Democrats have no power this year but YOU, single handedly, could have stopped that bill in its tracks. Two others on that committee held firm, one a Democrat and one a Republican and true friend to education, Dr. [James] Halligan. It took 4 votes to secretly slip it through the committee without a recorded public vote and YOURS was the 4th vote...after giving a verbal commitment in advance to Brady McCullough from Tulsa Tech that we could count on your support to kill the bill in committee.

"I cannot believe that YOU, who represents the District with the greatest number of CHILDREN shot in this state every year, did this to them and to us. Our Tulsa Tech facility in your district not only has high school students but a CHILD CARE center on that site.

"I cannot believe that when asked why you did this you said you liked the bill's author, Sen. Russell, and that he had done a lot for you. And what would that be? Surely getting 'Swing Low Sweet Chariot' as the state spiritual/blues song was not it. Maybe they will play that in your memory at the funeral of children shot in your district.

Eason-McIntyre replied:

"For the record you can tell anyone you want that I signed the conference committee report at the request of my friend Sen. Russell. For your information there was no deal made!

"I have never hidden behind any excuse for what I decide to do. I do strongly believe that if Republicans believe in guns then openly vote for their gun related bills.

"You mentioned the problem with guns in OUR community, not just my district but I have yet to hear of any effort you have provided to solve Tulsa's gun problem, particularly in my district.

"The catty remark about the State's gospel song being sung at a funeral in my district, I will ignore and assume it had no any racial overtones intended.

"As it relates to our 'friendship' I am sorry always to lose a friend, but you made that choice."

"Judy"

School choice activist Brandon Dutcher, linking to these two stories, writes:

State Sen. Judy Eason McIntyre (D-Tulsa) is a liberal pro-abortion Democrat with whom I have virtually nothing in common. But I've always admired the way she has stood up for giving underprivileged students more school options -- even when doing so has been difficult for her politically. So I must say I felt sorry for her recently when she had abuse heaped upon her in the most inappropriate of ways. ...

The good senator will live to fight another day. Here's hoping she comes back next year and helps push another school-choice bill across the finish line.

The gastronomic empire of prolific Tulsa restaurateur and publican Elliot Nelson, owner of McNellie's, El Guapo (loud automatic music warning), Yokozuna, Dilly Deli, Fassler Hall, the Dust Bowl Lounge and Lanes, Brady Tavern, and The Colony, was profiled Sunday on MSNBC. There doesn't seem to be a way to embed the five-minute video, so you'll have to follow this link to the MSNBC story, which deals with the unique opportunities and challenges that come with owning so many venues in close proximity to one another, all but two of them in the Blue Dome District.

Each venue is unique, so they avoid competing with themselves, but the restaurants operate in the same way, use the same point of sale system. Being close together makes it possible to share resources. The common system makes it easy to move staff around from one restaurant to another, and to use veteran McNellie's Group staff to help establish a new property. On the downside: McNellie's Group's success has potential competitors looking at the area, and rents are going up.

There's also the need to "grow the pie," to draw people to downtown who haven't yet made it their go-to place for dining and entertainment. From that need comes a new concept: the Dust Bowl Lounge and Lanes.

Many people try to credit Vision 2025 and the BOK Center for the Blue Dome District's success, but that credit belongs to the building owners like Michael Sager who kept the old buildings standing and the dreamers like Elliot Nelson who turned those old buildings into pubs, clubs, restaurants, and retail.

In 2000, eight years before the BOK Center opened its doors, Donal Cosgrave moved Arnie's Bar into the old Blue Dome Service Station at 2nd and Elgin. News stories as early as 2001 were calling attention to the new businesses opening in the district. A 2002 news story referred to the district as a "thriving commercial hot spot."

McNellie's was announced in March 2003, and originally planned to open that June, long before Vision 2025 went to a vote of the people, although its opening was delayed until 2004. Tsunami Sushi opened in 2003. In one news story, the head of the Tulsa Metro Chamber and the head of Downtown Tulsa Unlimited were waxing enthusiastic about the growing critical mass of businesses in the district.

By the summer of 2003, the Blue Dome was well known enough that my wife and I made a point of going to have a look around, and I suggested that Elgin, anchored by the Blue Dome at the north end and bordered by the proposed East Village, could serve as a replacement Main Street. (I made a few more observations when I drove back through the area again the following oppressively hot and humid Saturday night, trying to help my almost-three-year-old daughter get to sleep -- our block was without power from storms the night before.)

By the time Vision 2025 passed, there was already enough happening in Blue Dome to lead some to suggest building the arena nearby (e.g., on the then-vacant city-owned lot that's now home to ONEOK Field, or on the parking lot east of Elgin between 1st and 2nd). Ed Sharrer, now a city planner, wrote,

There are restaurants, dance clubs, pubs, an art gallery, and an art movie house within a few blocks of Second Street and Elgin Avenue. Dinner before the game? Dancing after a concert? All within walking distance -- the day the arena opens. Building the arena on the east side of downtown would turn an emerging scene into an instant entertainment destination. These businesses already exist, so there's no need for a "build it and they will come" approach. Let's build the arena where people are already going!

By 2004, Tulsa Police were increasing their presence in the area to deal with growing crowds.

By 2006 (two years before the BOK Center opened), a couple of young, female, hipster Los Angeles Times travel bloggers on a road trip around the western U. S. thought that the Blue Dome (specifically McNellie's, the May Rooms Gallery, and Dwelling Spaces) was worth writing home about. (Their blog entry is no longer on the LATimes site, but someone else captured it here.)

By 2008, before the BOK Center opened, the Blue Dome District had already achieved critical mass, and had hosted events like DFest, the Tulsa Tough cycling race, and the Blue Dome Arts Festival. (I wrote a column that May about a day wandering around a bustling Blue Dome District in the midst of the Arts Festival.)

There was some public investment involved -- a TIF district captured sales tax dollars to pay for streetscaping and lighting improvements -- but the Blue Dome reflects private investment, including a good deal of sweat equity. The best thing the city did for the Blue Dome District was to ignore it during the urban renewal orgy of the '60s and '70s.

So let's give credit where due, to Elliot Nelson and others like him, for their role in making the Blue Dome District what it is and filling it with good things to eat and drink.

DON'T FORGET: The 2011 Blue Dome Arts Festival runs this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

Cloud services are convenient and powerful, but the mail, video, photos, audio, and documents we upload to them and the metadata we add to what we upload are hostage to the fortunes and whims of the provider companies.

So here's another illustration of the risks of trusting your important data to "the cloud." At any time, a web company could decide to stop providing a service upon which your site depends. Or they could simply lock you out of your account.

Google Video, the hosting service that Google began prior to acquiring YouTube, stopped accepting uploads two years ago and is now in the process of shutting down entirely.

I had 54 videos on Google Video, many of them embedded on this site. This includes my coverage of the 2008 Republican National Convention, a speech by Daniel Pipes at the University of Tulsa, the Tulsa Boy Singers' 2007 tour of Britain, plus various family videos. One of the attractions of using Google Video over YouTube was the five minute time limit on YouTube at the time.

Google has made it very easy to migrate the videos to YouTube, but I also downloaded everything, and I still have the original digital files for reupping to another service. I still need to go back through my archives and update all the embed codes and links to point to the new locations.

What I'd like to do is host the video files on my own site's server. To do that I'd need a decent embeddable video player, preferably one I can host on this site as well. Any suggestions?

Sometime ago I uploaded a few original audio files to imeem, which was about the closest thing I could find to YouTube for audio -- hosting, plus a handy embeddable player. When imeem was merged into MySpace, the files vanished. Here again, what I'd prefer is to host audio on my own site, but with a full-featured player to make them easy for BatesLine readers to access.

For several years, BatesLine used NewsGator as an aggregator of the latest headlines from favorite blogs on the BatesLine blogroll. NewsGator dropped the service, and the only obvious alternative was Google Reader. I'm happy to have the service, but I miss the greater customization provided by NewsGator.

I love Flickr (although I'm way behind on uploading photos), but here's another risk of losing data in the cloud. I'm not worried about losing my photos -- they're backed up in multiple places -- but I'd hate to lose the metadata (sets, collections, descriptions, geocoding, tags), which would take a long time to recreate.

Twitter has pretty much taken the place of my old linkblog, because it's so quick and easy to retweet an interesting link. The downside is that old tweets aren't easily accessible and very old tweets aren't accessible at all. Adding to the problem: The links in the tweets are dependent on the continued existence and goodwill of the link-shortener sites, many of which are in a top-level domain controlled by the Libyan government of Moammar Gadhafi. What I need is a way to query the Twitter API to get all my tweets, to query the APIs of the link-shortener services to resolve their links to direct, long links, and to convert all that data into some form that I can import into my linkblog database.

Cloud services will continue to offer irresistible tools that make it easy to tag, connect, and organize your data, but there's something to be said for entirely self-hosted content, where the hosting provider gives you a hard drive, a web server and a pipe to the internet, and you provide and control everything else.

If you're a blogger or a web programmer and have any recommendations, I'm all ears.

UPDATE: Two good suggestions from the comments for self-hosting video:

Adam writes:

Michael, I've had good luck with http://videojs.com/ It has both HTML5 and Flash players which is good for serving video to mobile users. The biggest issue in self-hosting video is bandwidth usage. You might want to double-check what kind of bandwidth limits your hosting account has and whether self-hosting the video will impact that limit.

DavidS suggests LongTail Video's JW Player. Looks like it will handle MP3 audio as well as video, and like videojs it can handle both Flash and HTML5.

Technical note: Copying and pasting tweets into this post was a very frustrating and time-consuming process. In the end, I had to paste the HTML into an Emacs buffer, use a series of regex replacements to clean the text up enough so everything would post without messing up everything else on the page. I simply wanted to reproduce the text and links without the avatars and all the Twitter-specific style info. If there's a simpler way to do this, please let me know.

My long-awaited wrap-up of the 2011 Oklahoma Republican Convention, held on May 7 at the Meridian Conference Center in Oklahoma City, is long overdue, so in its stead, here are my tweets (and the things I retweeted from other attendees) through the course of the day. We had a brief "tweetup" of the handful of Twitterers after the convention was adjourned. Next time around there may be a much bigger back-channel conversation happening during the convention.

In general, I came away from the convention feeling encouraged, particularly by the reports from statewide elected officials like State Auditor Gary Jones, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Janet Barresi, State Labor Commissioner Mark Costello, and Corporation Commissioner Bob Anthony.

I was disappointed by the defeat of a return to the caucus system for pledging delegates to presidential candidates. When it appeared that no one was going to rise to speak in support of the idea, I stepped up, pointing out that Oklahoma Republicans haven't had a meaningful say in the selection of the party's presidential nominee since 1980, when we elected national convention delegates based on their pledge to vote for a particular nominee. In every presidential primary, Oklahomans have been left with a choice of the front-runner and a stop-the-front-runner candidate. The front-runner takes the statewide delegates and most of the congressional district delegates, usually with a very small plurality of the vote; the stop-the-front-runner takes one or two congressional districts at best. Given that the last time the caucus system was used was 31 years ago, I imagine only a few people remember that the system worked well and encouraged large turnouts at every level of the process. Some silly things were said in opposition: One delegate objected to caucuses because Barack Obama used them to "steal" the nomination from Hillary Clinton by busing people to the caucuses.

A point concerning the platform: Two amendments were brought to the convention in accordance with the convention rules, which required a certain number of signatures in order for the matter to come before the convention. 

Another amendment, striking a plank calling for the 9/11 investigation to be reopened, was moved by a delegate from the floor. The chairman, former Broken Arrow State Rep. John Wright, did an excellent job running the meeting, but I think he erred when ruling that the amendment was in order as it didn't constitute a substantial change. Wright's definition of "substantial" depended on the complexity of the proposed amendment, so striking a plank would be insubstantial. Although I was happy for the opportunity to get rid of that plank, I believe Wright's interpretation of "substantial" was incorrect. Anything that changes the substance, or meaning, of the platform should be considered substantial. Fixing a typo or grammatical error would qualify as insubstantial.


After the jump, my tweets and retweets from the 2011 Oklahoma GOP convention.

Saw a very interesting documentary tonight on CNBC: "Inside American Airlines: A Week in the Life." Tulsa aircraft maintenance personnel feature prominently in several segments: The process of overhauling an MD-80 aircraft, cost-cutting efforts (e.g., building tailcones in Tulsa instead of buying them from Boeing), and rank-and-file reaction to the executive bonuses that led to CEO Donald Carty's resignation.

The documentary covers the dire financial state of the airline industry, something that seems to be the permanent state of things. Bob Crandall, former CEO, was asked whether he would invest in an airline right now (link goes to 2 minute video excerpt):

"The industry hasn't earned its cost of capital since it was created in the late 1930s. I don't see anything on the horizon that would change that.... I've never invested in any airline. I'm an airline manager. I don't invest in airlines. And I always said to the employees at American, 'This is not an appropriate investment. It's a great place to work. It's a great company. It does important work. But airlines are not an investment.'"

Hmm. I could have sworn AA had an employee stock ownership program.

You can watch the full 90 minute episode online as well as several excerpts at the program's webpage.

The Oklahoma Senate redistricting plan, drawn up by political consultant Karl Ahlgren, will move five incumbent state senators -- two Democrats and three Republicans, including the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee -- out of their own districts, according to a BatesLine analysis of the new boundaries.

A BatesLine geocommons map shows the new Oklahoma State Senate boundaries, the 1992-2000 boundaries, the current boundaries, and the locations of current state senators.

By state law (51 O.S. 8), the seats will become vacant as soon as the redistricting plan takes effect.

Generally, a redistricting plan is designed to accomplish one of the following purposes:

(1) Protect incumbents of all parties. This produces a map with odd-looking districts, but exactly one incumbent in each district.

(2) Help the majority party and hurt the minority party. This produces a map with odd-looking districts, but with more than one incumbent in some districts. Often two incumbents of the minority party will be placed in the same district, making it likely that the minority's numbers will dwindle by one. Another approach is to take a small area of a minority incumbent's district and join it to an adjacent district controlled by the majority party, forcing the minority incumbent to compete for reelection at a great disadvantage.

(3) Reflect communities of interest, without regard to party advantage or incumbent protection. This only happens in states that use a combination of a non-partisan commission and some automated method of drawing boundaries.

This plan appears to be something altogether different, as it targets three majority-party incumbents. Is this some effort to punish dissenters? Or is personal animus or vengeance on the part of the mapmaker involved?

The five victims:

SD 3: Jim Wilson (D-Tahlequah). SD 9 (incumbent Earl Garrison, D-Muskogee) has been redrawn to extend a narrow strip along US 62 to encompass Tahlequah, separating the Cherokee County seat from the rest of the county. Wilson is term-limited after the 2012 legislative session.

SD 20: David Myers (R-Ponca City). Myers, chairman of the Appropriations Committee, would be thrown into SD 36 (Eddie Fields, R-Wynona), while SD 20 would be moved to the south, to cover Noble, Pawnee, and Logan Counties and most of Kingfisher County, except for Kingfisher itself. Myers was elected to his third and final term last fall without opposition. He would hit his term limit after the 2014 session, assuming he doesn't lose his seat via this redistricting plan.

SD 22: Rob Johnson (R-Kingfisher). A former state representative for four years, Johnson has been thrown into SD 26 (incumbent Tom Ivester, D-Sayre). SD 22 currently encompasses southern Kingfisher and northern Canadian Counties, with small adjacent segments from Logan and Oklahoma Counties. SD 22 would shift south, to cover western Canadian and northern Grady Counties. The new SD 26 has a narrow strip reaching into Kingfisher County to grab the city of Kingfisher where Johnson lives. Johnson was elected to the State Senate in 2010. He would be eligible to run for reelection in 2014.

SD 33: Tom Adelson (D-Tulsa). The Democrat nominee for Tulsa mayor in 2009 would be in a redrawn SD 39 (Brian Crain, R-Tulsa, incumbent) which would reach west to incorporate Utica Square and surrounding neighborhoods, while SD 33, currently covering midtown and west Tulsa, would be relocated to snake its way through south and east Tulsa County, from 211th St. South & 33rd West Ave., south of Bixby, through Leonard and Broken Arrow, to 41st and Memorial. Adelson is eligible to run for one more term in 2012. The new boundaries for SD 35 and 39 make a detour to include Utica Square; that sort of maneuver has been used in the past to accommodate a legislator who wishes to move to a posher neighborhood outside his current boundaries.

SD 43: Jim Reynolds (R-Oklahoma City). SD 43 is currently in Oklahoma County, mainly east of I-35 and south of I-40. The district would be moved to McClain and parts of Stephens, Grady, and Garvin Counties, while Reynolds would be thrown into SD 45 with Steve Russell (R-Oklahoma City). Reynolds is term-limited after the 2012 election.

Under this plan and the state law that requires a member to live in his district, David Myers would lose his Senate seat as soon as the plan takes effect. Presumably, the vice chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee would be in line to take the chairmanship. The vice chairman is Clark Jolley who is, coincidentally, the Republican co-chairman of the Senate redistricting committee.


An op-ed by Sullivan appeared in the Sunday, May 8, 2011, Washington Examiner.

Sullivan addresses the connection between the price of gas and the obstacles placed in the path of domestic oil and gas exploration by the Obama Administration. He writes:

The best way to moderate gasoline prices is a consistent source of oil and gas -- and not from foreign countries but from our own backyard.

The offshore energy potential of the United States is about 44.4 billion barrels of oil and 183.2 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, according to government estimates. That's enough oil to power 60 million vehicles for almost 25 years and enough natural gas to heat 60 million American homes for 57 years. It is also more than enough to reduce our imports by more than one-third.

However, this administration's energy security policy is to increase the cost of energy for American consumers and to shut the door on new exploration. Officials reversed a 2010 decision to expand offshore energy explorations, and have instead proposed no new exploration in new areas of the Outer Continental Shelf until at least 2017....

Obama's proposal to help lower prices? Remove long-recognized business and operational deductions (similar to deductions for all business and individuals). This will not lower fuel prices, but will actually result in higher costs for consumers.

This kind of logic makes you wonder if the president will tax grocery store owners more because food prices are up. Increased taxes increase the cost of doing business, and when the cost of doing business increases in any industry, those costs are passed on to the consumer.

Sullivan doesn't address his NATGAS Act -- about which more, later -- except in passing and by implication. ("House Republicans will bring up several pieces of legislation to undo that damage caused by the Obama administration's anti-American energy agenda....")

He makes an important point about removing deductions. Deductions are not subsidies. We tax businesses based not on their revenues, but on their profits -- income minus expenses. The tax code defines (in excruciating detail) what constitutes a legitimate business expense and how certain special expenses are treated (acquisition of capital equipment, for example, which is depreciated over several years rather than written off as a one-time expense). How a given piece of capital equipment is categorized -- e.g. three-year depreciation vs. seven -- can have a big impact on a small company's tax bill.

President Obama vowed to find the evildoers who are driving up the cost of energy, which brings to mind O. J. Simpson's vows to find the real killer. (Both of them seem to expect to find the culprits on the golf course, judging from the amount of time they spend there.) Mr. Obama needs to look in the mirror. His energy, budget, and monetary policies are driving up the cost of food and the cost of going to work, a regressive tax on the low-to-middle-income families he says he most wants to help.

The proposed boundaries for the new Oklahoma State House districts have been online since Friday, but the maps lacked any street detail that could be used as a point of reference. In response to my request, the Speaker's Office sent me the GIS data and a data table assigning each census block to its new House district. While the legislation (HB 2145) is on the House redistricting webpage (all 1,627 pages of it!), they haven't posted the computer-friendly files there, so here they are, in a 3.18MB zip archive.

Oklahoma House Redistricting 2010 GIS shapefile

Paul Monies of The Oklahoman has created an interactive map featuring the proposed State Senate districts. I've taken his work and added (from U. S. Census Bureau data) shapefiles showing the Oklahoma Senate districts created after the 1990 and 2000 censuses. You can turn each layer on or off to see how the districts have evolved over time.

I had really hoped that, having won overwhelming control of the legislature despite the Democrats' gerrymander in 2001, Republican legislative leaders wouldn't feel the need to perpetuate the errors of the past or create monstrosities of their own. It appears that I was mistaken.

Senate2010TulsaCo.PNG

A follow-up to the previous entry about State Rep. Mike Reynolds (R-Oklahoma City):

A CapitolBeatOK piece from April 20, 2011, by Pat McGuigan, argues that Mike Reynolds and several Republican colleagues (Mike Ritze, Randy Terrill, Mike Christian, John Bennett) should be more like Sally Kern, who regularly votes in favor of emergency clauses, a separate vote on an approved bill that allows it to go into effect immediately rather than 90 days after the end of the legislative session. During the current session Reynolds, Ritze, Terrill, Christian, and Bennett have frequently voted against emergency clauses.

Here is the usual text of an emergency clause:

It being immediately necessary for the preservation of the public peace, health and safety, an emergency is hereby declared to exist, by reason whereof this act shall take effect and be in full force from and after its passage and approval.

The 90-day waiting period (and the emergency exception) is established in Article V, Section 58, of the Oklahoma Constitution:

No act shall take effect until ninety days after the adjournment of the session at which it was passed, except enactments for carrying into effect provisions relating to the initiative and referendum, or a general appropriation bill, unless, in case of emergency, to be expressed in the act, the Legislature, by a vote of two-thirds of all members elected to each House, so directs. An emergency measure shall include only such measures as are immediately necessary for the preservation of the public peace, health, or safety, and shall not include the granting of franchises or license to a corporation or individual, to extend longer than one year, nor provision for the purchase or sale of real estate, nor the renting or encumbrance of real property for a longer term than one year. Emergency measures may be vetoed by the Governor, but such measures so vetoed may be passed by a three-fourths vote of each House, to be duly entered on the journal.

I can see how a constitutional conservative might have qualms about proclaiming an emergency when no threat to the public peace, health, or safety really exists, in order to bypass a provision of the constitution. I've found a couple of articles by free-market state policy think-tanks complaining about abuse of the emergency clause in the state of Washington, pointing out that the emergency clause doesn't allow time for a referendum to prevent a new law from going into effect.

Perhaps our legislative leaders could restrict the use of the emergency clause to true emergencies and even then spell out exactly how failure to put a law into immediate effect jeopardizes the public peace, health, or safety.

The Oklahoma State Chamber of Commerce has put State Rep. Mike Reynolds (R-OKC) on its "most wanted" list for his opposition to tax credits that seem to be more about rewarding the politically connected than helping Oklahoma's economy grow. The Chamber's website highlights two Reynolds quotes:

That's what [the Quality Jobs Program] does is it's wealth redistribution, and we can talk all day long about how it creates jobs. It doesn't create jobs. It rearranges jobs. It has to do that by artificially incentivizing certain companies with your taxpayer dollars. Where else would they get the money? It didn't grow on trees. It didn't come in a federal grant. We didn't find a gold mine and say "all the gold in this mine is going to quality jobs". Somebody found a gold mine when they passed the Quality Jobs Act, and that's for sure.

--Rep. Mike Reynolds debating against SB 154, Updating Quality Jobs Act

"It's not for small business, it's for... very selected, well connected, highly lobbied, huge campaign contribution, big business. We can see very clearly a pattern to where these tax credits exist. ...it's legalized socialism."

--Mike Reynolds debating against HB 1008

To try to marginalize Reynolds, the Chamber placed his quotes next to Democrat legislators calling for more regulations and outright state acquisition of industry for relocation. Reynolds advocates neither position.

On HB 1008, Reynolds joined 22 other Republicans in opposition to removing "the aerospace incentives from the list of credits on moratorium as of July 1 this year." The moratorium was already set to expire on July 1, 2012, one year later.

SB 154 is still working its way through the system. It seems to make the Quality Jobs Act retroactive in some way to include jobs that otherwise would not have qualified, but the language is obscure.

Reynolds is right to be concerned about tax credit abuse in Oklahoma and about the misuse of the state's power to tax to pick economic winners and losers. Well-intentioned programs designed to give businesses an incentive to move to Oklahoma or expand may do genuine good in many cases, but they can also be gamed by the unethical.

Reynolds is not anti-business or anti-growth. He believes that the best way to encourage business and growth is to reduce the burden of government on everyone, not just specially-targeted industries. That's a respectable position, even if you disagree with it. It certainly doesn't warrant his inclusion on the State Chamber's target list.

CORRECTION: An addendum to this piece incorrectly identified the previous positions held by Chamber CEO Fred Morgan, who was a State Rep. and House Minority Leader. My apologies for the error.

Steve Lackmeyer of The Oklahoman reports that an Oklahoma City citizens' committee (featuring heavy hitters like Larry Nichols of Devon Energy and immediate past Mayor Kirk Humphreys) has recommended a site other than Mayor Mick Cornett's preferred site for the new convention center, funded by the MAPS 3 sales tax. It appears that the original cost analysis, favoring Cornett's preferred site just south of the Arena Formerly Known as Ford, was badly skewed by using "cost premium" factors and by ignoring the $30 million cost of relocating an electric substation.

  • The MAPS 3 Program Manager was caught out on several claims that the City Council had instructed him to reallocate money from the $280 million convention center budget to pay for substation relocation and to prioritize completion of the core-to-shore park; no such votes were ever taken.
  • I wonder whether there is any connection between the Momentum attempt to stack the council and this dispute over the convention center and core-to-shore development. (Core-to-shore involves redevelopment of the area between the current I-40 alignment on the southern edge of downtown and the North Canadian River.)
  • When Tulsans suggested alternatives to the BOK Center location after the Vision 2025 vote, Mayor Bill LaFortune said it was set in stone. In Oklahoma City, not only has there been a public debate about the best location for the new convention center, the big shots are not afraid to disagree publicly with one another.
  • Not only are locations not set in stone, but Kirk Humphreys is urging that the need for the proposed regional park for the Core-to-Shore area be revisited, in light of changing conditions downtown since the plan was drawn up five years ago.

MORE: Nick Roberts doesn't like the decision:

Too weary to go into all of the reasons why this is a horrible site, for OKC that is, I mean it's great for the conventions... well actually, first we're going to have a big vacant lot between the two parks for ten years until we break ground on the CC. Unless they get to move the site up, in which case, we won't get as much mileage of streetcar track because of this decision. Or something else would be impacted.

There might be some interesting solutions that can alleviate the negative convention center impact we're about to add downtown. I'm more interested in pursuing that public debate than attempting to oppose yet another high-profile decision that was already made mostly behind closed doors.

Had hoped to write about Saturday's Oklahoma Republican Convention, Blake "Joe Momma" Ewing's announcement of his candidacy for Tulsa City Council District 4, and the disappointing State House redistricting map, but instead I solved an internet connection problem, monitored and prodded the oldest through his homework, did laundry, and organized digital photos of our homeschool coop. So here's something that was a bit easier to put together, but still interesting, I think.

Many years ago, I was involved in the Midtown Coalition of Neighborhood Associations, serving several years as the group's president. The story of that organization and my involvement in it deserves fuller elaboration at some point, but for now, here's an artifact to which I alluded in the previous entry.

For the 2000 Tulsa City Council elections, I wrote and, with the board's approval, sent to all City Council candidates a paper describing proposed zoning reforms and a questionnaire asking the candidates to respond to the proposals. (That link goes to a mirror of the Midtown Coalition's website -- hosted by Geocities!! -- where you can read responses from the candidates, including councilors Randi Miller, Gary Watts, Anna Falling, and Clay Bird, and current school board member (then a District 7 council candidate) Lois Jacobs.

The point was to get council candidates thinking about these issues and to see which candidates were committed to finding better ways to protect midtown neighborhoods against commercial encroachment into residential areas. Eleven years later, some progress has been made -- some neighborhoods that were upzoned but which remained single-family residential have since been downzoned -- but not as much as I'd have hoped. Only recently, after over a decade, have any of the three pilot neighborhood infill plans turned into actual changes to the zoning code -- the Pearl District pilot form-based land use code. With the passage of PLANiTULSA, we may finally begin to see "new [land use] categories for areas [like Cherry Street] that don't fall neatly into existing categories."

Here's the text of the cover letter and backgrounder from January 18, 2000:


18 January 2000

Dear City Council candidate:

On behalf of the Midtown Coalition of Neighborhood Associations, thank you for your willingness to run for public office. As someone who ran in 1998, I can appreciate the hard work involved - tired feet, tired voice, running here and there, all the while trying to keep up with the demands of home and work. Here's wishing you good weather and good health!

The Midtown Coalition of Neighborhood Associations seeks to put neighborhood issues in the forefront of this campaign, and so we are asking each council candidate to consider and respond to three specific proposals for zoning reform:

  1. Establish a procedure to allow neighborhoods to create formal neighborhood plans, setting standards for new development and redevelopment, which would be drawn up by neighborhoods, with the help of planning staff. These plans would become a binding part of the zoning code.
  2. Reverse the misguided planning policies of the 1960s by "down-zoning" land to reflect the way it is actually being used and to prevent it being converted to the high-intensity uses permitted under existing zoning, which are undesirable near residential areas. In the process, create new categories for areas that don't fall neatly into existing categories, such as the pedestrian-oriented neighborhood shopping areas along Peoria, 11th Street, 15th Street, and elsewhere.
  3. Create some breathing room to consider and implement the first two changes by putting a temporary hold on zoning changes involving the expansion of commercial activity into residential areas.

We are asking all candidates for City Council in 2000 to respond to these proposed reforms. The week before the primary election, the Midtown Coalition will publicly announce the positions taken by the candidates on these three proposals. In addition, your response to the attached questionnaires will be published on the Coalition's website (see address above). Please note that the Midtown Coalition will not be endorsing specific candidates, but merely reporting each candidate's position on zoning reform.

The intent of these proposals is to give every Tulsa neighborhood the power to shape its own future. That is why we are asking candidates in every district, even those beyond Midtown, to take a position on these reforms. Eventually, every neighborhood will face the conflicts brought by redevelopment. Action taken on these proposals this year will help the neighborhoods in your district in years to come.

Please read the attached article explaining the proposals and reply by returning the attached questionnaire to the address above. You may also reply by e-mail to tulsa_midtown_coalition@yahoo.com - an electronic version of the questionnaire can be downloaded from the website. Please make sure we receive your reply no later than Tuesday, January 25.

If you have any questions, please contact me at the above e-mail address, or evenings at 749-7816. Thank you for taking the time to read this and respond.

Sincerely,

Michael D. Bates
President


BACKGROUND ON THE PROPOSED ZONING REFORMS

In the 1960s and early 1970s, Tulsa's zoning ordinances were oriented toward new suburban development. Our historic, traditional neighborhoods were relegated to the past. Older Tulsa neighborhoods were expected to decline in popularity as young families moved out, never to return. The shopping streets that served as "Main Streets" for these neighborhoods were also considered outdated and were rezoned to encourage their redevelopment for high-intensity commercial activities, such as used car sales, auto repair, and warehouses. At the same time, some residential areas were rezoned for office and industrial redevelopment.

In the 1990s, large numbers of Tulsans rediscovered the pleasures of urban living, and traditional neighborhoods have become increasingly popular with homebuyers. Many Tulsans are attracted by shady streets, traditional architecture, sidewalks, and the variety of things to see and do within walking distance of home. Neighborhood shopping streets like Brookside and Cherry Street have come alive, attracting shoppers from all parts of Metropolitan Tulsa as well as those living nearby. Retailers are anxiously seeking good Midtown locations to take advantage of this growing market.

Unfortunately, the misguided zoning policies of the 1960s are still in place, grounded though they are in assumptions that have proven false. While Midtown residents welcome the expanded choices brought by new merchants, they worry that redevelopment will destroy the very qualities that brought them to Midtown. Over and over again, developers have manipulated the system to bring suburban-style development to Midtown: enormous buildings and enormous parking lots that dwarf their surroundings. The inappropriate designation of small retail and office buildings as "high intensity commercial" allows developers to rezone nearby residences as commercial by lumping the commercial and residential areas together, all the while claiming to do the neighborhoods a favor by reducing the overall intensity of development. The result is that homes are demolished, and the homes that once overlooked houses and yards are left to overlook loading docks and parking lots. Whole neighborhoods have been demolished to make way for supermarkets and sports facilities. Streets once pleasant to walk along have become hostile environments for people on foot.

Neighborhood leaders have often tried to fight these damaging changes before the Planning Commission and the City Council, but rarely with any success. Although we have the right to speak, our voice carries no weight. Neighborhoods should have a formal role in the planning and zoning process - the ability to establish a neighborhood plan, which becomes part of the zoning code, and the right to review proposed changes to that plan. A proposed ordinance for neighborhood plans was discussed by the Mayor's Task Force on Infill Development, which completed its work nearly a year ago, but little has been done to make it a reality. (Last November, three neighborhoods were selected by the Mayor for development of pilot plans, but there is no timeline for changing the zoning code so that such plans can be made formal and binding.)

Oklahoma City neighborhoods have had this sort of protection for nearly 20 years. Neighborhoods covered by their "urban conservation districts" include older neighborhoods in central Oklahoma City, commercial districts, and newer, more suburban neighborhoods. Special districts encompass the historic Bricktown and Stockyard City areas. The neighborhood plans set standards for building height and scale, style, setbacks, permitted uses, and parking.

Developers and neighborhoods would benefit from neighborhood plans. Expectations would be set out in writing, so developers would know in advance what kind of development is allowed in an area. A neighborhood would be able to encourage compatible commerical development while protecting the characteristics that make the neighborhood special.

Some might claim that neighborhood plans with firm design and development standards would keep national retail chains out of Midtown, resulting in a loss of jobs and a loss of shopping variety and convenience. While it is true that chain retailers prefer to use their standard floor plans whenever possible, they have been willing, in cities throughout the nation, to adapt to local standards, where standards exist, in order to have access to a particular market. Tulsans need to set forth with confidence our vision of what our neighborhoods should be. The retailers want to sell to us, and they will work with us.

If the zoning code is to serve the interests of neighborhood residents throughout Tulsa, reform is necessary. The institution of the neighborhood plan process is an important step toward meaningful reform. Oklahoma City has had neighborhood plans for nearly 20 years - when will Tulsa catch up?

Additionally, the "up-zoning" that occurred in the '60s and '70s needs to be reversed. Land that is zoned for a higher intensity than its current use are like timebombs that could go off at any second. For example, the neighborhood north of the Broken Arrow Expressway, between Utica and Lewis is zoned for medium-intensity office use. If you lived in that neighborhood, you could wake up one morning to find the house next door demolished and a drive-in bank, a funeral home, a copy shop, or a travel agency being built. The developer would not need to go before the Planning Commission, the Board of Adjustment, or the City Council for approval, because those are all "uses by right" in a medium-intensity office district.

The relics of the misguided planning policy of the past should be replaced with zoning that reflects the reality of Midtown at the turn of the millennium. CH (commercial high-intensity) zoning in neighborhood shopping areas should be replaced with a new category for pedestrian-friendly, neighborhood commercial and office uses, which allows only uses compatible with nearby residential areas, and encourages new development to be consistent with existing buildings along the pleasant, walkable shopping streets Tulsans enjoy. Residential zoning should be restored for those neighborhoods which are still residential but had been rezoned for commercial, office or industrial uses. Part of the Riverview neighborhood, south of downtown, was recently down-zoned in this way.

It will take some time to put these reforms in place. In the meantime, developers will continue with business as usual, and Midtown neighborhoods will continue to be at risk. Developers may even seek to defeat these reforms by encouraging never-ending delays in the process of considering and implenting them. Neighborhoods will continue to lose battles while waiting for reforms to be studied and restudied. To protect neighborhoods in the interim, the City Council should put a hold on all zoning changes involving the expansion of commercial activity into residential areas. This includes PUDs which combine residential land with commerical land to create a bigger commercial area, as well as simple up-zoning from residential to other categories. The Council can simply table (postpone) such zoning applications until the reforms are in place. The hold should be long enough to allow some neighborhood plans to be drawn up and incorporated in the zoning code. This temporary hold will encourage developers to support timely implementation of these reforms by the Planning Commission and the City Council.

NOTE

This mailing was approved by the board of the Midtown Coalition of Neighborhood Associations. The views expressed herein are not necessarily those of each neighborhood association in the Midtown Coalition or of each individual resident member of each neighborhood association.

Updated, May 9, 2011: Scroll down for commentary on the outcome of the vote.

Tomorrow night, Thursday, May 5, 2011, the Tulsa City Council will vote on a very simple, crystal clear, eleven-word-long amendment that fixes a loophole in our zoning code, a loophole that endangers the investment that homeowners have made in Tulsa's beautiful historic neighborhoods.

Nearly all of the current city councilors were elected with strong grassroots and homeowner support, often in the face of opposition well-funded by the development lobby. So you would think that these councilors would understand the importance of plugging this loophole and would be resistant to the lobbying efforts of these developers, some of whom are the perpetrators of notable Midtown eyesores. The City Council's job is to consider the long-term health of the city, not just someone's opportunity to make a quick buck flipping real estate.

Instead I'm hearing that certain developers who hope to exploit this loophole are leaning heavily on councilors, and it's having an impact. The election is later this year, and the councilors already know they're going to be targeted by allies of the Tulsa Metro Chamber, already recruiting candidates to run against them. Some may be tempted to believe that, if they give the build-anything-anywhere bunch what they want, they may forestall a primary challenger, or they may have a better chance of raising money for re-election. That would be a grave political miscalculation.

Let me try to explain, briefly, the reason why fixing this loophole matters, why this issue is so important to certain developers, and why it would be a mistake for councilors to cave into developer pressure.

Here's an example, a bit simplified, but it represents developments that have actually been approved in Tulsa:

Let's say you've decided you want to live in a historic home, and you want to live next door to and across the street from other historic homes. You carefully research the zoning and find a house to buy in a historic preservation overlay (HP). The houses across the street are in the HP district too, albeit right on the edge, backing up to properties that are zoned office or commercial. So you have every reason to believe, based on the zoning map, that your house will remain surrounded by other historic homes indefinitely.

But then a developer buys the HP-zoned houses across the street, then goes to the planning commission with a zoning change proposal for a planned unit development (PUD), to include the historic residential lots across the street and the commercial lots on the same block. Under the zoning code, a developer can use a PUD to group together lots with different zoning classifications, and then move the uses permitted in those zoning classifications around within the PUD. So in a PUD encompassing a couple of residential lots, a couple of lots zoned commercial, and a lot zoned office, the developer could put a restaurant where the houses used to be, and put parking on the area zoned for offices and retail.

Suddenly, your historic home no longer faces other historic homes, as the zoning map led you to expect. Instead your front porch looks out over a dumpster, a surface parking lot, or, perhaps worst of all, a blank screening wall where the sidewalk used to be. Your investment in a historic home in a historic neighborhood has been significantly undermined. The HP zoning you thought would protect your investment turns out to be worthless.

The zoning code amendment, item 7.a. on Thursday's agenda, closes the loophole. A developer still might buy the houses across the street, but anything that replaces those houses would have to be residential and would have to conform to the customized rules that apply to that particular HP district.

Tulsa doesn't have many historic neighborhoods, and many of the handful that remain have been damaged by urban renewal, expressway construction, up-zoning, and commercial and institutional encroachment. Still, these graceful, tree-canopied neighborhoods are some of our city's most attractive assets.

Only five of our historic neighborhoods have historic preservation (HP) zoning to protect homeowners' investments against inappropriate redevelopment. These HP districts are quite small -- less than 1/4 sq. mile each -- the loss of even a few lots to commercial redevelopment on any side would have a big impact on the cohesiveness of the remaining neighborhood. And it sets a precedent: Over time, a large portion of a historic neighborhood could be eroded away, one row of houses, one block at a time.

There are complaints (mainly from the same developers fighting this current zoning code amendment) that HP district rules are too onerous. In fact, they are quite weak compared with those of other cities our size. A more flexible type of protection for cohesive, historic neighborhoods -- neighborhood conservation districts -- has met with vehement opposition from the very same development lobbyists.

I'm happy to say that I endorsed eight of our current set of nine councilors, and as far as I know, I'm now on good terms with all nine. Seven of them were elected thanks to grassroots support, despite a heavy financial advantage for their Cockroach Caucus-backed opponents.

Councilors will be tempted to succumb to lobbyist pressure, thinking they may gain an ally against a candidate backed by the Chamber-affiliated PAC. More than likely, the developers will back the Chamber Pots' designated candidates. Councilors who cave on this issue will not only fail to gain the affections of the special interests, but they'll also lose the support of the people who knocked doors, talked them up to their neighbors, and gave small contributions in hopes of having a true representative at City Hall.

Our current crop of councilors are good people. I'm hopeful that they'll "dance with who brung them" and continue to work for the benefit of all Tulsans, not just a favored few.

MORE: A reader calls my attention to a Tulsa World database story from April 17. The reader points out that homes in HP zoning districts appreciated two to three times as much the county average between 2006 and 2010, and in most cases appreciated faster than neighboring non-HP neighborhoods. For example, property values in the Orcutt Addition, which makes up the northern part of the Swan Lake HP district, increased by 27.4% vs. 8.62% county-wide. The number 1 and 2 subdivisions in the county in property value increases are both in the Yorktown HP district -- Weaver Addition (39%) and Maywood Addition (34%).

UPDATE 2011/05/09: As you may have heard, the City Council approved the amendment, but with a December 1 sunset clause. District 4 Councilor Maria Barnes and District 6 Councilor Jim Mautino were the strongest supporters of the zoning code amendment, but voted "no" on the final version because of the built-in expiration date.

As disappointing as the sunset clause may be, I can remember the cries of outrage way back in 2000 when a Midtown Coalition questionnaire asked Council candidates, "Will you support a temporary hold on zoning changes which increase commercial encroachment into residential areas, in order to encourage speedy adoption of [zoning code] reforms and to protect neighborhoods until the reforms are in place?" At that time, simply asking for a temporary hold was enough to get someone labeled as anti-growth. That this could get passed, even with a sunset clause, is a sign of progress, slow though it may be.

Charles G. Hill of Dustbury.com has made the controversy the subject of this week's Vent:

The argument was made that this would buy the city some time to hire a new planning director and to implement further changes in the comprehensive Tulsa Plan. Cynics might say that this buys developers some time to develop a counterstrategy.

Does this herald the second coming of what Bates called the Cockroach Cluster? Not necessarily. But the days of Business As Usual are far from over in America's Most Dutiful City.

May 4, 2011: I'll be on the air with Angel Clark on WGMD 92.7 at 8 pm Eastern (7 pm Central) Listen online at wgmd.com.

Business had taken me to Dover, Delaware, and Friday morning on my way to work, I heard a news story about the upcoming Delaware Republican State Convention. I had been wondering what to do with my weekend, had considered a trip into DC or Philadelphia, but hadn't been in touch with friends there to make any plans. It's always interesting to me to see how politics are done in other places. And given the fuss over last year's GOP Senate primary (Mike Castle vs. Christine O'Donnell), I thought there might be fireworks between the party establishment and Tea Party activists. (I was wrong about that, as it turns out.)

So I looked up the GOP convention on the web, made a call to GOP headquarters (which is in Wilmington, the state's largest city, not Dover, the state capitol) to put my name on the list, and then got in touch with Angel Clark, talk radio host and the state's top political blogger -- I met her and her husband last fall at FreedomWorks' BlogCon -- to see if they planned to attend. (As it turned out, they did, and I enjoyed getting an expert local view on the political scene.)

Although the First State is tiny, and the GOP hasn't had much success there in recent years, its Republican organization has the same representation on the Republican National Committee and the quadrennial national convention rules and platform committees as bigger and more Republican states like Texas and Oklahoma. So what happens at this Delaware gathering has national impact.

Delaware Democrats hold a 26-15 majority in the State House and a 14-7 majority in the State Senate. All of the state's congressional delegation (2 senators, 1 representative) are Democrats, as are all but one of the statewide elected officials. Only 29% of voters are registered GOP. Democrats are as dominant in Delaware as Republicans are dominant in Oklahoma. Regarding redistricting, one convention speaker said, "Unfortunately, we're in the party that has absolutely no say."

I've got a long post in progress about my visit last Saturday to the Delaware Republican Convention, but I'm not close to done yet. So here is a smattering of links to tide you over. (You'll find more links on the BatesLine Twitter stream).

Jane Jacobs: Libertarian Outsider, by Jeff Riggenbach of the Mises Institute (via @MarketUrbanism) -- a good overview of Jacobs life, education, and career.

Now that she had mastered her new beat, she was reassigned to a different and more challenging one: the city-planning beat. As always before, she set systematically about the business of educating herself. What were the goals of city planners, she asked herself. How did they attempt to achieve these goals? How successful had their attempts been in the past? If they had failed, why had they failed?

To get a handle on these questions, she began walking around Manhattan and riding around it on her bicycle. She observed. She asked herself how the city worked, what kept it orderly, what made it a place people could live happily, benefiting from the neighborhoods in which they lived.

The conclusions she reached, as I have indicated, were remarkably similar to those Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich Hayek had reached earlier by different routes. A city is, at base, a marketplace. It is a spontaneous order. It cannot be planned. The people who try to plan cities have failed above all because they have not comprehended the way the spontaneous order of cities works.

Todd Seavey's book selections of the month last December included The Battle for Gotham by Roberta Brandes Gratz. Faithful BatesLine readers may recognize the name. I've often cited Gratz's idea of "Urban Husbandry" as an alternative approach to city revitalization that actually works. (Gratz writes in the intro to The Battle for Gotham: "'Urban Husbandry' was the term I coined... to describe a regeneration approach that reinvigorates and builds on assets already in place, adding to instead of replacing long-evolving strengths.")

Seavey saw Gratz at a panel discussion (emphasis added):

Given that, as Brandes Gratz made clear, Moses displaced some 1 million people from their homes in the name of his brutal and car-obsessed urban projects throughout New York City, it was reassuring that both panelists -- and nearly all the audience members -- seemed as though they have come to regard Moses as a monster. Brandes Gratz noted that she's pleased to have some conservative and libertarian fans, but even on the socialist left, Moses' callous destruction of functioning black neighborhoods -- and the brazenly racist way he did things like place a frieze of frolicking monkeys on one of his Harlem projects -- should raise questions about letting any one man run roughshod over the life patterns and social networks of so many people so needlessly (Brandes Gratz herself sees her work as a sort of sequel to the Moses bio The Power Broker, showing how many businesses and homes that had no Jane Jacobs to speak up for them were crushed under Moses' bulldozers, sometimes by the deceitful means of leaving existing businesses out of planners' stats, the more easily to declare areas blighted, as still goes on in places like the Brooklyn Naval Yards and the condemned areas adjacent to Columbia, tragic legacies of Moses-style thinking).

It makes me wonder whether the myth that Tulsa's Greenwood district never recovered from the 1921 Race Riot was deliberately fostered as a pretext for clearing the area permanently in the late 1960s as part of the Federal "Model Cities" urban renewal program. I wonder, too, whether the studies relating to that program provided an accurate count of business activity in Greenwood.

Note, too: New York City has its "condemned areas adjacent to Columbia [University]," as Tulsa has its Kendall-Whittier, where the city used the public power of eminent domain (or the threat of using it) to clear land for the expansion of a private university.

I look forward to reading Brandes Gratz's latest book.

Finally this: World's Ten Creepiest Abandoned Cities via Linkiest.

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