August 2011 Archives

Tulsa Metropolitan Area Planning Commission chairman Bill Leighty has an excellent op-ed in the latest issue of Urban Tulsa Weekly about the importance of historical preservation to Tulsa's future.

I'm tempted to quote the whole thing. The heart of the article is an account of a recent Preservation Leadership Training workshop put on by the City of Tulsa Planning Department.

In a nutshell, the training included an examination of the financial incentives and other economic considerations in redeveloping historic structures. It also explored how historic preservation as an intervention strategy and policy impacts local economic development. Participants followed the progress of prototype projects and applied this knowledge to demonstration projects located here in Tulsa.

In the course of the article, Leighty addresses the lack of support for historic preservation from Tulsa's political and business leaders and the personal impact of then-and-now photos of downtown Tulsa:

At one point in the slide show, a photo taken in mid 1970's looking north on Boston Avenue from high up in the tower of Boston Avenue United Methodist Church was featured. When it transitioned into the next photo, taken from exactly the same perspective about 35 to 40 years later, the entire audience let out a collective gasp at the dramatically changed landscape.

The first photo documented a vibrant, densely populated urban core that had been reduced to a barren sea of asphalt only a few decades later. The loss of so many historic structures obviously stunned everyone, even the locals. It was a pretty dramatic moment for everyone and it left me with a lump in my throat. I can honestly say it was a turning point for me. I get it now, I so get it.


Photos of Tulsa's Boston Avenue, looking north toward the BOK Tower, in 1978 (left) and 2005 (right); from the Tulsa Preservation Commission's article about endangered downtown Tulsa.

Leighty goes on to catalog the documented economic and quality-of-life benefits of historic preservation, including the value of old buildings to new businesses:

The creative and adaptive reuse of historic buildings has proven to be remarkably versatile in meeting the demands of a wide range of uses. These buildings often provide affordable rent, thereby serving as incubators for entrepreneurs and growing small businesses which account for 85 percent of all the new jobs created in America. Properly executed historic preservation efforts are great examples of the physical sustainability of the built environment, and the functional sustainability of public infrastructure.

The fun, interesting places to be in Tulsa on a weekend night -- Brookside, Blue Dome, Bob Wills District, 18th & Boston, Cherry Street -- are all significant clusters of older buildings that were overlooked by urban renewal and spared from expressway construction. Blue Dome and the Bob Wills District owe a great deal to people like David Sharp, who started buying up buildings to keep them from being torn down for parking. These thriving districts were not developed with public funds.

Leighty points out that, while there are Tulsans actively engaged in adaptive reuse of historic buildings and advocacy for historic preservation, we need elected officials and business leaders to "buy into and support these initiatives" in order for historic preservation to gain traction.

When you look at successful historic preservation in other cities, you will find their efforts began with a group of influential people (often the wives of business tycoons) who were outraged by the demolition of a local landmark. San Antonio and Savannah are two such examples.

Here in Tulsa, business leaders have actively opposed historic preservation and tarred preservation advocates as naysayers enemies of growth, working to keep them off of the City Council, TMAPC, Board of Adjustment, even the Tulsa Preservation Commission.

The tide may be beginning to turn. It was encouraging to see a positive mention of preservation in the Tulsa Metro Chamber's 2011 city election manifesto:

While preservation of Tulsa's historic neighborhoods and structures is paramount, this also requires a transition from residence-only neighborhoods to multi-purpose building that intentionally preserves the character of the area.

The Tulsa Metro Chamber is willing to work toward a model of shared use which accommodates both the need for safe neighborhoods and the preservation of historic areas; while also providing its residents with retail possibilities, increasing walkability, and creating distinct centers of urban density.

The second half of Leighty's essay covers the demonstration project his team undertook as part of the workshop -- taking an underutilized building, examining possibilities for adaptive reuse, and proposing an economically feasible approach to reuse. His team of three proposed an indoor farmer's market for the old International Harvester Building on the southeast corner of 2nd and Frankfort:

The building is rather unassuming with minimum architectural details. I had driven by many times without so much as a second look. That changed the minute I walked into the building, which is basically divided into two sections, the former showroom in the front and the warehouse like space which formerly housed the service and parts department in the back. There are concrete floors, a barrel roof supported by intricate steel joists and super structure, and broad open expanses with skylights....

Our proposal includes financial projections indicating both relatively low total development costs and a healthy cash flow. In other words, it is not just a sound idea for a great addition to downtown Tulsa, but a very viable business opportunity.

As I said, read the whole thing, and say a prayer of thanks that a man of Bill Leighty's insight heads up our city's planning commission.

Councilrama tonight!

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Meet and greet the candidates for Tulsa City Council at Councilrama, an event sponsored by NewsTalk KRMG, TYPros, Leadership Tulsa, and the League of Women Voters.

The event is tonight, Tuesday, August 30, 2011, 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm, at the IDL Ballroom, 230 E 1st St, downtown (near 1st and Detroit).

Joe Kelley will introduce the candidates and then you will be free to meet with the city council candidates running in your district and find out what their plans are to make your life better in the coming years. You can also register to vote, learn facts about your district, ask questions of the candidates - all while snacking on delicious Abuelo's goodies...and your first beer is free, courtesy of KRMG!

I emailed FOP political consultant Victor Ajlouny and requested a copy of the FOP's press releases on their poll and their endorsements. The eight-page Tulsa FOP poll release featured a question about the impact that an endorsement from the Tulsa Metro Chamber's political action committee (TulsaBizPac) would have on a voter's decision -- would it make a voter inclined to support or oppose a candidate, or have no impact?

No impact

The poll by Strategy Research Institute was of 500 high or moderate propensity Tulsa voters, distributed across the city (at least 50 from each council district). No word on the partisan breakdown. A sample of 500 yields a margin of error of 4.4% at a 95% confidence level.

As a reminder, here are the endorsements and contributions announced a week ago by the Tulsa Metro Chamber's PAC, TulsaBizPac:

Endorsement in both primary/general elections and financial support
Jack Henderson (D), District 1 ($2,500)
David Patrick (D), District 3 ($2,500)
Phil Lakin (R), District 8 ($2,500)
G.T. Bynum (R), District 9 ($2,500)

Endorsement and contribution primary only
Jeannie Cue (R), District 2 ($2,500)
Ken Brune (D), District ($1,000)
Tom Mansur (R), District 7 ($2,500)

Financial support ONLY
Blake Ewing (R), District 4 ($1,000)
Liz Hunt (R), District 4 ($1,000)
Chris Trail (R), District 5 ($2,500)
Karen Gilbert (R), District 5 ($2,500
Byron "Skip" Steele (R), District 6 ($2,500)

The full text of the FOP poll question about the Chamber PAC:

Question 14.0 Similar to what took place earlier this year in Oklahoma City's Chamber of Commerce...the newly created Tulsa Metro Chamber of Commerce, Political Action Committee, has built a HUGE War Chest intended to influence, indeed CONTROL, the outcome of the 2011 election cycle in Tulsa. Part of this effort involves the Chamber's Political Action Committee donating large sums of money to candidates, as well as funding their own campaigns in support of, or opposing, candidates of choice through independent expenditures. Would learning this through a trusted source make you inclined to: Support a candidate who is endorsed by the Tulsa Chamber of Commerce and/or who accepted large amounts of funding from the Chamber's Political Action Committee, or; Oppose a candidate who is endorsed by the Tulsa Chamber of Commerce and/or who accepted large amounts of funding from the Chamber's Political Action Committee, or; Would this knowledge have NO IMPACT on your decision to SUPPORT or OPPOSE?

While this might be considered a "push poll" question, it demonstrates how voters will respond if the issue is framed for them in this way, using an accurate description of what happened earlier this year in the Oklahoma City elections and the apparent similarity of the Tulsa Metro Chamber's involvement in the Tulsa city elections. This is very bad news for the Tulsa Metro Chamber's future as a preferred vendor to the City of Tulsa and for the political future of the candidates their PAC endorsed or funded (an endorsement in all but name).

It's noteworthy that the story in the Tulsa World covering this poll did not report this result. They also omitted the results that showed 62% preferring four year council terms (staggered to every two years) to the current 3, 74% preferring 12-year term limits for all city officials, and 70% giving Mayor Dewey Bartlett Jr mediocre to failing grade. (32% gave him a mediocre C, 23% a D, and 15% an F; 2% refused to answer the question. 6% gave him an A, 22% a B.)

To see all eight poll results that the FOP released to the media, click this link (354 KB PDF file).

The Tulsa Area Republican Assembly held a candidate forum and endorsement meeting, Saturday morning, August 27, 2011. Following speeches and answers to audience questions from the candidates in attendance, TARA members voted to endorse a candidate in five of the eight Tulsa City Council Republican primaries to be held on September 13. A 2/3rds supermajority is required to receive TARA's endorsement, which is also binding on TARA's state and national organizations, the Oklahoma Republican Assembly and the National Federation of Republican Assemblies.

The TARA-endorsed candidates:

City Councilor, Dist. 1 No Primary
City Councilor, Dist. 2 No Endorsement
City Councilor, Dist. 3 David Bell
City Councilor, Dist. 4 No Endorsement
City Councilor, Dist. 5 No Endorsement
City Councilor, Dist. 6 Jim Mautino
City Councilor, Dist. 7 Steven Roemerman
City Councilor, Dist. 8 George Gibbs
City Councilor, Dist. 9 Robert Pinney

TARA is one of several local GOP clubs. TARA's members are grassroots Republicans who are active in local politics. Several elected officials are also members of the group. They support the idea of government staying within its limits. In contrast to Chamber of Commerce types, they tend to oppose crony capitalism and corporate welfare. They operate independently of the local party organization and hold monthly meetings that often feature elected officials or candidates as speakers. TARA is affiliated with the Oklahoma Republican Assembly (OKRA) and the National Federation of Republican Assemblies (NFRA), a group that calls itself the "GOP Wing of the Republican Party."

A blog entry on the TARA website listed the candidates who were slated to speak at Saturday's TARA candidate forum. In addition, District 4 candidate Blake Ewing participated in the forum.

District 2: Judith Adams, Jeannie Cue, Matthew Foster
District 3: Dave Bell
District 4: Blake Ewing, (Rocky Frisco was slated to attend but was not present)
District 5: Sam Roop, Chris Trail
District 6: Jim Mautino
District 7: Steven Roemerman
District 8: George Gibbs
District 9: Robert Pinney, Kim Whiteman

All candidates were invited, and I'd be suspicious of the conservative bona fides of any candidate who declined to meet with the group.

(I understand from someone in attendance that Rocky Frisco missed the meeting, although he was slated to attend. I know from a Facebook post that Frisco had been concerned when he hadn't received an invitation to the TARA meeting and actively sought the opportunity to speak with the group. Frisco received the TARA endorsement in the 2009 Republican City Council primary.)

UPDATE: Despite his omission from the list on the TARA website, District 4 candidate Blake Ewing was at the meeting to answer questions from the members. I've updated the list above and the paragraph lead-in to the list to reflect that.

Released today by the Tulsa FOP Lodge 93:


August 26, 2011
For Immediate Release

For further information
Contact Victor Ajlouny

Tulsa FOP Endorses City Council Candidates
Decisions follow written and oral interviews plus background checks

The Tulsa Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 93 voted to endorse the following candidates for the City Council primary election on September 13.

District 1 - Jack Henderson
District 2 - No Endorsement
District 3 - Roscoe Turner
District 4 - Maria Barnes (Democrat) - Blake Ewing (Republican)
District 5 - Chris Trail
District 6 - James Mautino
District 7 - Steven Roemerman
District 8 - George Gibbs
District 9 - G. T. Bynum

The endorsements were made following a process in which candidates answered an extensive written questionnaire and participated in oral interviews. The Lodge retained an outside firm to do background checks to review civil or criminal histories.

The Lodge took into consideration the candidate's positions on police staffing and other City priorities, their understanding of the City budget, past community service and any potential conflicts they may encounter if elected.

"The members of the FOP are individuals who care very much about Tulsa. A large percentage are residents of the City," said FOP spokesman Victor Ajlouny. "They take their responsibilities very seriously when it comes to their endorsement of candidates who will lead the city where their families live and go to school and/or they spend a large portion of their waking hours protecting and serving the residents of Tulsa."

After the primary election, the FOP will decide which candidates to endorse in the general election.

The Tulsa FOP Lodge 93 represents the over 700 professional police officers employed by the City of Tulsa. For further information, contact Victor Ajlouny, 402-968-0556.


UPDATE 2011/08/25, 1 p.m.: ONG spokesman Don Sherry has posted a comment to this entry, linking to a media kit about the Tulsa ONG franchise election. He points out that there are approximately 1,400 ONG/ONEOK employees working in the Tulsa area.

Tom Quinn, a civic activist and longtime critic of Oklahoma Natural Gas, filed criminal complaints on August 16, 2011, with the Tulsa Police Department and the FBI regarding the recent City of Tulsa special election granting ONG a franchise to use city rights-of-way for the next 15-years.

Quinn notes at the end of his press release that there are more ONEOK/ONG employees than the number of votes in the election. The implication is that it's possible to arrange a low-turnout election in which the majority of voters have a financial interest in the outcome. ONG reimbursed the City of Tulsa for the cost of having a special election solely for the purpose of considering the franchise renewal.

Here's Quinn's press release:

CONTACT: Tom Quinn - 918-605-9456 -
REGARDING: Election Fraud - August 9th Vote on ONG's Franchise Agreement


Tulsa businessman Tom Quinn has filed racketeering and election fraud charges against Oklahoma Natural Gas Company, parent company ONEOK, Mayor Dewey Bartlett and all nine Members of Tulsa's City Council. Quinn accuses ONG, ONEOK and the City of Tulsa of conspiring to defraud ratepayers by holding a special election on August 9th where only those who were likely to vote YES were informed about the process. Quinn says the vote on ONG's New Franchise Agreement was the most blatant example of racketeering and election fraud he has ever seen, and that all those responsible for this despicable act should be fined, fired, removed from office and sent to prison. ONG has an abysmal approval rating among consumers and no one in their right mind would have voted for this Franchise Agreement had they known about the election. The results of the August 9th Special Election should be thrown out and public hearings should be held so voters can make an informed decision regarding this important issue. ONEOK, the parent company of ONG, should also be investigated for bribery, price fixing, market-manipulation, off-shore banking violations, selling assets that were paid for by ratepayers and charging for gas storage and other items and services that were not used but ended up being charged to consumers. A copy of this news release has been sent to the FBI, the Tulsa Police Department, the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, the City of Tulsa and several media outlets.

Questions that deserve an answer:

  • Who wrote the new ONG Franchise Agreement?

  • Was Mayor Dewey Bartlett or any of his staff involved?

  • How many City Councilors were involved in the process?

  • Was the new Franchise Agreement ever discussed during an open meeting?

  • When did the City Council vote to approve this new agreement?

  • When did the City Council approve and schedule the August 9th Special Election?

  • Why did the City Council call for and approve a Special Election on August 9th when Tulsa's General Election had already been scheduled for September 13, 2011?

  • Who paid for this special election and was the cost passed on to taxpayers and or ratepayers?

  • How many registered voters live in the City of Tulsa?

  • How many votes were cast in the August 9th Special Election?

  • How many employees work for ONG and ONEOK?

  • How many ONG and ONEOK employees voted in this Special Election?

  • Were ONG and ONEOK Employees informed of this Special Election?

  • Were any news releases issued or press conferences held before the August 9th Vote?

  • Did ONG, ONEOK or the City of Tulsa post any information regarding the election on their website?

  • Were Tulsa voters deliberately kept in the dark about this important election?

  • Did the so-called mainstream media ignore news releases or play any role in this cover up?

Election Results:

Number of Precincts Reporting: 215
Number of Precincts Counted: 215
Total Number of Registered Voters: 212,266
Total Number of Votes Cast: 3,425
Total Number of ONG / ONEOK Employees: 4,077
Total Number of Votes For: 2,546
Total Number of Votes Against: 864
Under Votes: 15
Percentage of Registered Voters Who Voted: 1.61%
Number of ONEOK / ONG Employees as of September 2010: 4077

A year or so ago, the blog "How to Be a Retronaut" posted a movie short from 1959 about London's coffeehouse scene. The film was part of the "Look at Life" series of short documentaries screened in British theaters between 1959 and 1968.

This amusing eight-minute color film depicts the rise of the coffeehouse fad in the 1950s (traced to the arrival of the first Italian espresso machine in London in 1952), the varieties of coffeehouse, and the challenges faced by coffeehouse owners. Many themes will be familiar to modern day coffeehouse owners and patrons -- customers that hang around all day and buy only a single cup of coffee (if that), the need to offer food to make enough money to keep the place open, the use of coffeehouse walls as gallery space for local artists, the coffeehouse as a place for serendipitous meetings.

Lesson 1: Overheads are high. They reckon that if a character sits for half an hour over one cup of coffee, his share of the rent heat light and service amount to the point where the management is paying him.

The most noticeable differences between then and now: The absence of laptops and the presence of vast, billowy clouds of cigarette smoke.


In a separate entry, How to Be a Retronaut posted stills of the London coffeehouses featured in the film.

TulsaBizPac, the political action committee formed by Tulsa Metro Chamber, a city contractor, to influence the selection of the public officials who will decide whether those contracts will continue, has announced an odd assortment of full endorsements, partial endorsements, and non-endorsements that nevertheless come with a tidy sum of cash.

Strangely, TulsaBizPac hasn't made these endorsements and all-but-endorsements available on a website accessible to the general public. Although the Chamber announced in a June 27, 2011, website story that TulsaBizPac was accepting contributions, they haven't used that venue as yet to declare their endorsements and contributions to the public. None of the local TV stations appear to have the story, nor do the news/talk radio stations. My own requests for information about TulsaBizPac endorsements have gone unanswered.

So the Chamber's PAC must not be very proud of their endorsements, as it appears they only released the info to one friendly news outlet.

Candidates that were willing to participate were quizzed by Chamber leaders about their views on the Tulsa Metro Chamber's 2011 Issues Platform. Given the number of controversial statements therein, anyone accepting the Chamber's endorsement or contribution (which is tantamount to an endorsement), has some explaining to do, to set out clearly where he or she agrees and disagrees with the Chamber's positions on the issues

And one such candidate has explained himself. Blake Ewing, one of the candidates for the District 4 Republican nomination, and one of two (along with Liz Hunt), who will receive a $1,000 contribution, has set out on his blog, in great detail, his interaction with the Chamber and with Karl Ahlgren, in their evidently separate election efforts, and point-by-point, how he responded to questions about the Chamber's Issues Platform. There's a lot to digest, but I appreciate his candor. He goes into great detail about Ahlgren's recruiting efforts and the apparently associated group trying to solicit contributions to a slate of candidates, and the Chamber interview process. (I was intrigued to read that Liz Hunt, prior to deciding to run for City Council, offered to help direct resources to Ewing's campaign.)

Ewing has decided to accept the Chamber's contribution but to donate it to charity, rather than use it for his campaign, and is asking blog readers to suggest, in the comments to his entry, which non-profit should receive the Chamber's money.

Here is the Tulsa Metro Chamber's "candidate priorities" -- effectively the Chamber's "manifesto" for the 2011 City of Tulsa election. Candidates seeking the endorsement of and funding from the Chamber's PAC (TulsaBizPac) were interviewed and questioned about these issues. I have added bold font for emphasis on the most controversial or noteworthy points, to which I hope to return at some point soon.

The link in the headline below leads to a PDF version of the document that the Chamber sent to candidates.

1. Regionalism

Regional cooperation between governmental bodies is a key component in addressing large, complex problems, and ensuring the actions of one municipality or county do not adversely affect their neighbors. Many of the problems elected officials now face cannot be confined to the political boundaries; economic development, tourism, public safety, pollution management, transportation infrastructure construction, and land planning all require governmental entities to work together to meet the needs of their unique, and often overlapping or shared, communities.

Regional organizations in Louisville, Kentucky, and Indianapolis, Indiana, have taken great strides forward in economic development, the efficient use of resources and tax dollars, and enhancing the quality of life for their residents. Locally, the Tulsa region has received immeasurable benefits through increased planning and leveraging of resources within the Indian Nations Council of Governments (INCOG), the Vision 2025 community development plan, and the OneVoice regional legislative agenda. These are programs, initiatives, and governmental structures that should be learned from, duplicated when appropriate, and altered where needed to meet the needs of the Tulsa region.

The Tulsa Metro Chamber strongly believes that regional partnerships need to not only be increased, but actively sought after; and that barriers to regional cooperation at both local and state levels should be removed. Our partners in this initiative will be proactively working toward the formation of a regional body in the long-term, and removal of the duplication of services in the short-term.

2. City Charter

The City Charter represents an intentionally-constructed document, approved by the citizens of Tulsa, which should serve as a guiding principle for our elected officials. The City of Tulsa, therefore, functions best when all elected parties are abiding by the parameters set forth in the City Charter and seek to fulfill their obligations accordingly.

Because of this, the Tulsa Metro Chamber strongly believes that the City Charter is to be respected, adhered to, and turned to for guidance by Tulsa's elected officials. Changes to the City Charter, if they are needed, should be done through the formal Charter revision process and include the full consent of Tulsa's voters. Our partners in this initiative will support the City Charter and its guidelines, adhere to the parameters it establishes, and seek to alter the Charter only through appropriate means and when significant need is demonstrated.

3. Education Issues

A strong education system is key to a healthy, productive workforce. The increased international competition for both talent and opportunity, combined with dramatic technological advancements, requires that we prepare our students for unanticipated jobs, in unknown locations. These realities require an education system predicated upon the development of complex thinking skills; a firm foundation in math, science and reading skills; and a college preparatory curriculum that provides every student with the tools necessary to succeed in post-secondary education.

In order to meet these goals, the Tulsa Public School district must be both supported and encouraged by the private sector and the City of Tulsa. Challenging decisions including school consolidation, performance-based pay, regular student assessments and longitudinal data, and bolstered educational attainment standards all require community partners and collaborators to ensure success. We also must seek to support innovation and discovery in our classrooms through proven charter school models that meet the needs of all students, and seek to strengthen our city's overall educational pipeline.

Education remains a top priority for the Tulsa Metro Chamber. Our partners in this initiative will share this passion, and will both support TPS in its current reform efforts as well as seek to find opportunities for collaboration and mutually-beneficial endeavors between the City of Tulsa, Tulsa's educational organizations, our generous philanthropic community, and the private sector.

4. Support for "The Next Vision Package"

Ensuring the continual growth of our community requires shared investments in its infrastructure, educational institutions, public spaces, and attractions. The passage of Vision 2025 marked the first step in collaboratively focusing municipal and county resources to accomplish significant advancements in a short period of time. Its accomplishments, including the BOK Center; OU-Tulsa, OSU-Tulsa, NSU-Broken Arrow, Langston-Tulsa, and TCC-Southeast; the Oklahoma Aquarium; regional community centers; the Morton Health Clinic; and numerous infrastructure improvements continue to be seen as hallmarks of our community, and points of pride for our citizens.

The first Vision 2025 funding source will begin to become available in 2017, and every effort needs to be made to reinvest in a second round of critical community improvements. Planning for this initiative must begin in earnest within the next one to two years, and should reconvene a group of committed regional partners representing all area stakeholders.

The Tulsa Metro Chamber strongly believes that this is the greatest tool available in moving our region forward. Our partners in this initiative will share this vision, and commit to making every possible effort in ensuring the successful creation, passage, and implementation of the "Next Vision Package."

5. Neighborhood Associations and Infill Development

Successful cities must actively work to strike a mutually-beneficial balance between neighborhood preservation and new growth. This is especially true for Tulsa, where land use has become increasingly segregated under the past 30 years of zoning codes and restrictions. This segregation has often led to a lack of access to resources, increased distances from neighborhoods to places of employment, and "suburban sprawl" that decreases urban economies of scale and reduces mass transit options.

While separate spaces for residential, commercial and industrial uses is often desired, the recent PLANiTULSA initiative demonstrated both public support and increased need for mixed use spaces and increased density within Tulsa's urban core. To accommodate this, Tulsa must work toward developing mixed-use zoning code regulations that permits work/living spaces, neighborhood grocery stores and other commercial outlets, and facilitates ease of access. While preservation of Tulsa's historic neighborhoods and structures is paramount, this also requires a transition from residence-only neighborhoods to multi-purpose building that intentionally preserves the character of the area.

The Tulsa Metro Chamber is willing to work toward a model of shared use which accommodates both the need for safe neighborhoods and the preservation of historic areas; while also providing its residents with retail possibilities, increasing walkability, and creating distinct centers of urban density. Our partners in this initiative will share these broad goals, and be willing to work toward developing new standards for infill and urban development that responsibly meets the needs of both homeowners and Tulsa's development community.

6. Intermodal Facilities and Transportation

As energy costs continue to rise, developing new modes of transportation for residents, goods, and services will be a key component of a thriving region. Northeast Oklahoma is fortunate to have several modes of transportation coalesced in one location: the Tulsa Port of Catoosa, the Tulsa International Airport, commercial rail, and our network of interstates and highways.

To take full advantage of these resources, the Tulsa region must seek to ensure their long-term feasibility and create an interconnected system that leverages the strengths of each mode of transportation. Key to this initiative will be intermodal facilities linking

the Tulsa Port of Catoosa with the Tulsa International Airport, area highways, and rail lines; the creation of public/private partnerships (possibly through toll bridges and similar tools) to maintain and expand our existing infrastructure; the strengthening of mass transit options, including public bus routes and taxi services; and investment in new modes of transportation including light and passenger rail.

Many of these projects are too large in scale to be managed by any one governmental body or locality. The realization of these goals will require concerted efforts by municipalities, counties, state and federal government, and business organizations. The Tulsa Metro Chamber stands committed to these efforts, and will work to build regional consensus and strategic partnerships in ensuring their completion. Our partners in this initiative will share this commitment, be willing to dedicate resources and/or secure funding, and work with other regional partners to ensure individual projects are strategically implemented.

7. River Development

The Arkansas River is the Tulsa region's greatest natural resource, and a comprehensive river development initiative has the potential to significantly benefit all of our communities. The framework for this development has been laid out in the Arkansas River Corridor Master Plan, completed in August 2004, and identifies both infrastructure improvements and the creation of public spaces along 42 miles of the Arkansas River corridor.

The implementation of this framework should be a top priority of the Tulsa region. With a lack of access to federal funding for the foreseeable future, we must immediately begin to build public-private partnerships that leverage our individual strengths, adopt a regional approach, and ensure buy-in from all governmental organizations and regional communities. This public-private coalition should include state, municipal and county governments and authorities; Chambers of Commerce and other representatives of the business community; and community foundations. All partners should be willing to actively engage in, and contribute to, this effort.

The Tulsa Metro Chamber views this as a top priority for the Tulsa region, and an issue where Tulsa's citizens demand action. Our partners in this initiative will strongly support a public/private partnership as the vehicle for river development, and will seek any and all means to expedite the acquisition of funding sources, the completion of environmental feasibility studies and design work, and the beginning of physical construction.

8. Renewal of the "Fix Our Streets" Package

When voters overwhelmingly approved the "Fix Our Streets" package in 2008, they clearly voiced their disapproval with the existing state of our streets infrastructure -- and their willingness to do something about it.

Much of the support the "Fix Our Streets" package enjoyed was directly tied to expectations that it was only a first step: that two, possibly three packages would follow in its footsteps. The initial 15-year plan, overlooked in favor of the final 5-year package, clearly identified the immense number of critical roads projects we still need to address in dramatically raising Tulsa's overall Pavement Condition Index (PCI). Rather than viewing the "Fix Our Streets" package as a one-time band-aid, it must be viewed as the first step in a long-term maintenance strategy -- one that will ensure our road conditions never again reach such a state of disrepair.

In addition to repairing our current infrastructure, the next "Fix Our Streets" package should give consideration to future transportation needs--particularly areas where increased transit options could enhance economic development, mobility and access, and environmental quality efforts in the Tulsa region. We should not miss a powerful opportunity to prepare our transportation infrastructure to face the increased demands and higher energy costs we will undoubtedly face in the future. Efforts should take into account the Tulsa Regional Transportation System Plan, currently being developed by the Indian Nations Council of Governments (INCOG); as well as PLANiTULSA, the development plan created by Tulsa's citizens and area stakeholders.

The Tulsa Metro Chamber firmly believes that our ability to recruit top companies, employers, and talent is directly tied to the state of our infrastructure. Our city's long-term health also relies upon a well-maintained infrastructure that doesn't inhibit its residents. Our partners in this initiative will work to immediately begin planning for "Fix Our Streets II," identifying the next wave of projects and ensuring they both target high-need projects and are equally distributed across Tulsa. They will also recognize the importance of a strong public buy-in and outreach process to ensure voter support, and will keep this focus throughout all stages of development.

9. Downtown Revitalization

A vibrant downtown acts as the hub of innovation, activity, and growth for a region. It is an irreplaceable component in effective transportation policy and infrastructure, meaningful historic preservation, a diverse community of entrepreneurship, the attraction a young and talented workforce, and in defining the identity of our city. Tulsa's strength and vitality can be directly measured by the strength of its downtown: we grow when our downtown is growing; we become stagnant when our downtown is weak.

The recent construction of the BOK Center and the ONEOK Drillers Stadium have ushered in an era of downtown revitalization, a boom in small business growth and property ownership, the rehabilitation of several historic buildings, the hosting of world-class events and conferences, and a growth in visitors from both within the state of Oklahoma and around the world. This momentum must be built upon through concerted planning and efforts on the part of Tulsa's city government, private partners in the community, and outside resources.

The Tulsa Metro Chamber and its member businesses are strong proponents of continued downtown revitalization. Our partners in this initiative will recognize the importance of a strong downtown, and will seek creative avenues for continued growth (through both public and private investments).

10. Coordinated Efforts on the Convention and Visitors Bureau

Attracting visitors to Tulsa - either in small tourism groups or in larger conventions - is a key part of our city's economic development and tax revenue strategies. This is especially important when considering Tulsa's dependence on sales tax for General Fund revenue, and the surges in sales tax revenue visitors create. The Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) plays a key role in marketing Tulsa on an international level, and bidding for large-scale events. Continued support for the CVB is therefore vital to the success of our region.

National examples and recent studies highlight the value and efficacy of chamber/city partnerships in managing a convention and visitors bureau. For years, the City of Tulsa - through its Economic Development Commission - has partnered with the Tulsa Metro Chamber to manage the Convention and Visitors Bureau ("VisitTulsa"). This partnership has been invaluable: the Tulsa Metro Chamber, as the lead business organization in the Tulsa region, has an unparalleled capacity to bring regional stakeholders to the table, coordinate with regional businesses, and partner with other organizations in ensuring a comprehensive approach to large- and small-scale events.

The City of Tulsa and the Tulsa Metro Chamber have recently taken important steps to clearly define expectations, establish measureable goals and objectives, and work together to ensure the success of Tulsa's CVB efforts. The Tulsa Metro Chamber believes that continued coordination between the Chamber and City of Tulsa is crucial, and the existing model represents the strongest configuration for Tulsa's CVB. Our partners in this initiative will share this vision, and work to strengthen both the City's and Chamber's partnership as well as the CVB's institutional capacity.

11. Diversity and Inclusion

A key factor in attracting and retaining strong businesses and talented individuals is offering a high quality of life to all of Tulsa's citizens. Economic data proves that successful states and economic regions welcome a diversity of individuals, talents and insights. Experts have repeatedly cited inclusivity and a thriving, diverse population as critical components in attracting young professionals, retaining the best local talent, and being considered as a preferred destination for businesses, conventions and events, and tourists.

Tulsa's history makes this priority all the more urgent for our city, as we seek to overcome our historic racial and ethnic divides. Efforts to increase diversity and inclusion must also include recent conversations of sexual orientation and inclusion in the workplace; the damaging effects of immigration policy at both a state and local level to our Hispanic communities; and continued outreach to minority businesses. A comprehensive approach that addresses all of these concerns must be a part of our efforts as a community. A diverse population is vital to ensuring our region's long-term success, growth, and development.

The Tulsa Metro Chamber strongly supports efforts that create an inclusive and diverse community, and work to improve the social and economic climate of our region. We also recognize the importance of self-improvement, and strive to ensure our own organization mirrors these principles. Our partners in this initiative will strongly support public diversity and inclusion initiatives, will stand against policies that further divide our community, and will proactively seek out opportunities to improve these efforts in Tulsa.

I was surprised this week to see that TulsaPeople had dropped its glossy mag look for newsprint.

Then I looked more closely and saw that it was in fact Urban Tulsa Weekly that put a paper-airplane-tossing Kathy Taylor on the cover and a lengthy love song to the former Tulsa mayor (by Oklahoma City resident and Oklahoma Observer editor Arnold Hamilton) on the pages within.

Taylor mistakenly credits herself with starting the effort to revise Tulsa's comprehensive plan. In fact, that was launched in 2005, while Mayor Bill LaFortune was still in office, and it was the outcome of an initiative by then-Councilors Chris Medlock and Joe Williams for a "future growth task force" and a council-initiated study to identify the best locations for large retail developments in the City of Tulsa. It was the 2004-2006 Council, notorious for the "Gang of Four," that included funding a comprehensive plan update in the 2006 third-penny sales tax package.

As an antidote to the sweet treacle in Hamilton's story and by way of reminder, take a minute to re-read this Irritated Tulsa gem: Kathy Taylor's Un-Greatest Moments

And if you want more detail on those un-greatest moments, here are some links to past columns and blog entries:

Kathy Taylor voted in Oklahoma (in person) and Florida (absentee) in the 2000 presidential election, according to official state voter records.

Kathy Taylor's Clintonesque non-denial denials when confronted with the voter records

Kathy Taylor and Bill Lobeck get bill for back taxes and penalties from the Broward County Assessor for claiming homestead exemption in two states.

Kathy Taylor's husband's lawsuit against the Broward County assessor, over claiming a homestead exemption in both Oklahoma and Florida

Kathy Taylor keeps Council in the dark on police chief appointment, signs Tulsa up to the anti-gun-rights and global warming cause.

Kathy Taylor surrenders on a $7 million lawsuit, putting the burden of BOK's bad loan to Great Plains Airlines on Tulsa taxpayers.

Kathy Taylor's misuse of the assessment district to fund the new Drillers downtown ballpark

The Control Freaks' Squeeze Play -- the city pulling the football away from a private developer who had plans for residential and retail near the new ballpark.

Kathy Taylor, the ballpark assessment district, Will Wilkins' Lofts at 120 development, and lawsuits against the city.

Kathy Taylor refuses to confront looming budget problems

Kathy Taylor denounces city councilors on CNN for being cautious about strings attached to federal funds

The defeat of Councilor Bill Martinson funded by Kathy Taylor's husband and his business associates

Kathy Taylor pushes for the purchase of One Technology Center as the new City Hall, which winds up being more expensive to operate than she had claimed.

UPDATE: At about 6:30 pm Tuesday evening, Sturdivant finally climbed aboard the fire department bucket and was lowered to safety and taken to Hillcrest hospital. Sturdivant had spent most of the afternoon talking to retired police negotiator Tyrone Lynn, who was in the bucket. Over and over again, Sturdivant would set a foot or two on the bucket platform but would then retreat to the tower.

In an interview with KOTV news, his former boss described Sturdivant as a hard worker who stayed with a telemarketing job even after the company owner stopped paying his employees. This appears to have been Sturdivant's first job after release from prison.

Court records show that Sturdivant made the first monthly $50 payment on his remaining fines and court costs in June, so it would seem he was trying to live a responsible life following his release.

MORE: Tyrone Lynn recounts negotiating with Sturdivant.

The man who climbed the broadcast tower atop the Clear Channel broadcast studios (the former Oertle's department store and Burlington Coat Factory) at 26th and Memorial has been identified as William Sturdivant II.

According to records on, and at the Oklahoma Department of Corrections website, a William Boyd Sturdivant II, born June 26, 1986, has had several run-ins with the law, a traffic arrest in May 2004, marijuana possession with intent to distribute in December 2005, burglary in January 2006, and unlawful possession of Schedule IV controlled substance in March 2007. It appears he has spent the last four years in prison, the result of repeat offenses and failure to comply with terms of deferred and suspended sentences. He was released on April 6, 2011.

What follows is a timeline of the five different cases on OSCN. The photos are from the Oklahoma DOC offender lookup website. (Click to enlarge to full size.)

2004/05/27: TR-2004-11536 and TR-04-11537: Stopped at 24th and Braden and cited for left of center in marked zone and driving with an expired license. Citation lists employer as "ANIMAL CLINIC"

2004/09/01: Failed to appear on May 27 citation. Attempt to suspend license failed, because he didn't have a valid license number. Warrant issued for his arrest.

2005/03/22: Sturdivant is arrested, pleads guilty, fined $10 plus court costs, and released.

2005/05/19: Bench warrant issued for failure to pay.

2005/07/14: Arrested and in court, found guilty of wilful failure to pay, sentenced to 15-day inmate work release program, with option to pay total cash bond and be released.

2005/07/27: Jail time completed as sentenced, release issued for 2005/07/28.

2005/10/13: Doesn't show for scheduled hearing on remaining court costs.

2005/12/09: CF-2005-5555: Arrested for unlawful possession of marijuana with intent to distribute.

TulsaTowerGuy-William-Sturdivant-20060113.jpg2006/01/16: Pleads guilty to unlawful possession of marijuana with intent to distribute. Sentence deferred for two years, supervised by Division of Probation and Parole, 100 hours of community service within 180 days.

2006/01/18: Payment plan agreement

2006/01/19: CF-2006-1121: Committed 2nd degree burglary

2006/03/09: Charged with burglary

2006/05/10: Application to accelerate judgment on earlier deferred sentence; bench warrant issued.

2006/06/08: Pleads guilty to burglary. Sentenced to four years suspended, concurrent with the sentence for marijuana possession, plus 80 hours community service.

2006/06/26: Found guilty of violating terms of deferred sentence for marijuana possession, sentenced to four years suspended, supervised by Probation and Parole.

2006/06/28: Revised payment plan agreement for accumulated fines.

2007/01/04: Application to revoke suspended sentence. No hours of community service were completed. Bench warrant issued.

2007/03/21: CF-2007-1617: Unlawful possession of controlled drug schedule IV

2007/03/27: In custody.

2007/05/02: Suspended marijuana possession sentence revoked, sentenced to four years in DOC custody, consecutive to CF-2007-1617 (possession of controlled drug schedule IV) and concurrent with CF-06-1121 (burglary).

TulsaTowerGuy-William-Sturdivant-20070524.jpg2007/05/24: Reception by Department of Corrections

2009/03/09: DOC photo

2010/06/29: DOC photo

2011/04/06: Released from DOC custody

2011/04/12: DOC notice to defendant of costs/fines due, release date 2011/04/06

2011/04/26: Payment of $50 due on June 27, and a payment on 27th of each month until case paid in full. Review scheduled for 2011/11/28.

2011/06/27: $50 payment made (listed on the docket summary for CF-2005-5555).

Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn, 2nd District Congressman Dan Boren, 3rd District Congressman Frank Lucas, and 5th District Congressman James Lankford are honorary hosts for the 40th anniversary celebration of Americans United for Life. Minnesota Congresswoman and presidential candidate Michele Bachmann is also an honorary host, and Texas Gov. Rick Perry, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, and Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions are the three honorary co-chairmen for the event, to be held at the Newseum in Washington on November 2, 2011.

AUL is the leading pro-life legal organization, helping state and federal lawmakers craft and defend constitutional legislation that upholds the sanctity of human life from the moment of conception to its natural end.

From the AUL press release:

Milestones for AUL include: successfully defending the Hyde Amendment before the U.S. Supreme Court, establishing the intellectual groundwork for Fetal Homicide legislation now passed in 38 states, reducing abortions state by state through cutting-edge model legislation found in Defending Life (a catalogue of 39 pieces of model legislation), leading in the fight against assisted suicide, and testifying for life in state legislatures around the country and in the last two Supreme Court justice confirmation hearings. To read more about AUL's accomplishments in recent media coverage, click here.

According to AUL's history page, AUL was incorporated 40 years ago this month "by a group of activists, including Brent Bozell of National Review, who wanted to educate Americans about abortion from a non-denominational, interdisciplinary perspective. Early board members included Catholics, Unitarians and Jews.
The first chairman of the AUL Board was George Huntson Williams, a Unitarian minister who then held the Hollis Professor of Divinity Chair at Harvard Divinity School."

I heard an interesting rumor on Saturday from two different sources about City Council endorsements by TulsaBizPac, the Tulsa Metro Chamber-affiliated political action committee, so I sent an email to Shiela Curley, Vice President of Communications for the Tulsa Metro Chamber. Here's the text of the email:

Dear Ms. Curley,

I'm hearing reports that TulsaBizPac has made its endorsements. I'm writing to ask if you can confirm or deny each of the following assertions:

1. TulsaBizPac has endorsed three candidates
2. TulsaBizPac will give each endorsed candidate's campaign $2,500.
3. Endorsed candidates have been instructed not to disclose the endorsement until after the primary.
4. TulsaBizPac has endorsed Jack Henderson in District 1.
5. TulsaBizPac has endorsed Chris Trail in District 5.
6. TulsaBizPac has endorsed G. T. Bynum in District 9.
7. TulsaBizPac has made no endorsements in the other races

Thanks for your time,

Michael Bates

I'll let you know what she says.

There's one further piece to the rumor: That no endorsements have been made in some of the other races because they're "too close to call" based on polling data.

This is fascinating, if true. After all the talk about the "bickering" City Council, the only three rumored endorsees are sitting councilors.

I'm surprised not to see ANY of Karl Ahlgren's candidates -- Nancy Rothman, Liz Hunt, Karen Gilbert, or Phil Lakin -- on the rumored list.

And why would an organization want to keep its endorsements secret? In such a situation, it would suggest that the organization is aware of its lack of respect in the community, that the organization is not seen as a trusted civic voice, but just another special interest group, just another city vendor with its hand out for city dollars.

If you thought your endorsement would be well regarded, you'd jump right into a too-close-to-call race, in hopes that the endorsement would push your candidate over the finish line. But if you thought your endorsement would cause more harm than good, you'd quietly slip them the money just after the deadline for pre-primary reporting, and you'd pick candidates who were likely to win any way, in hopes of earning their gratitude and loyalty with your contribution.

Finally, wouldn't you want to give the maximum contribution of $5,000? And if you didn't, does that indicate that you just weren't able to raise the money you expected to raise?

I look forward to hearing a response from Ms. Curley, and I'll pass it along when I do.

Thumbnail image for Johnnie-Lee-Wills-Rompin'-FrontUG.jpgThe Tulsa Playboys western swing band will be back at Cain's Ballroom, Saturday night, September 10, 2011, for a special performance to kick off the centennial of Johnnie Lee Wills, with featured guests John T. Wills (Johnnie Lee's son), guitarist Roy Ferguson and vocalist Candy Noe, and Billy Parker, legendary KVOO DJ (and a country performer in his own right).

Details from the Cain's Ballroom website:

"Swing On This" Live Broadcast
Saturday September 10th

DETAILS :: Celebrating Johnnie Lee Wills 99th Birthday! Brought to you by KWGS at The University of Tulsa! There will be a reception for reserved ticket holders from 5pm - 6:15pm. The reserved seats will be 4 to a table. For more info email p-casey-morgan @ - All Ages! By phone - 866.977.6849!

TICKETS :: Reserved :: $47 // GA :: $30

DOORS :: 6:30pm

SHOW :: 7:00pm

The performance will be broadcast live for John Wooley's weekly KWGS program "Swing on This," heard every Saturday night from 7 pm to 8 pm on 89.5 FM.

When Bob Wills left for California in the early '40s, his next younger brother Johnnie Lee took over the daily radio show on KVOO and the Thursday and Saturday dances at Cain's Ballroom, which continued until the late '50s. Later generations of Tulsans may remember the annual Johnnie Lee Wills Stampede at the Fairgrounds or his western wear store on Memorial east of 21st.

The Tulsa Playboys are a group of top local swing musicians who play a monthly dance at Cain's. Here's the lineup listed on the Tulsa Playboys Facebook page:

Shelby Eicher - fiddle and electric mandolin, Rick Morton - fiddle, Steve Bagsby - steel guitar, Spencer Sutton - piano, Mike Bennett - trumpet, Steve Ham - trombone, Rodney Lay - bass, Ryan Shepard - drums and Danny McBride - standard guitar.

Bagsby, Bennett, Ham, and Sutton all played with Bob Wills' Texas Playboys, led by Leon Rausch and Tommy Allsup, at this year's Bob Wills birthday celebration.

Here they are from their July dance, with guest fiddler Byron Berline, performing "Miss Molly":

I've marked my calendar and plan to be there; hope you can be there, too. It would be wonderful if western swing dancing once again became popular enough around Tulsa to support weekly dances at multiple venues, like they have down around San Antonio.


Read John T. Wills's tribute to Johnnie Lee Wills at the 1996 dedication of Johnnie Lee Wills Street, the main approach to the Pavilion from the west.

Johnnie Lee Wills entry from the Oklahoma Encyclopedia of History and Culture.

High Falutin' Newton of Western Swing on 78 has Johnnie Lee Wills radio transcriptions from 1950-1 available for download.

Back in April, I told you about Chuck Stophel, a fellow parent and booster of Augustine Christian Academy, and the benefit being held to help his family meet a serious and expensive medical challenge, non-Hodgkins lymphoma. (Mr. Stophel has had an honored place in my five-year-old son's nightly prayers these past few months.)

Chuck is now a cancer survivor for a second time; as a young adult, he also received a heart transplant. For all that, Chuck is one of the most positive people you'll ever meet.

Now Chuck is back on his feet, and has a message worth hearing about making the most of life:

Beginning next Monday, August 15, 2011, and continuing through Thursday, August 18, 2011, U. S. Sen. Tom Coburn will be conducting 9 town halls across the state, in Guymon, Woodward, Enid, Tulsa, Claremore, Langley, Pryor, Muskogee, and Oklahoma City.

All the details are in a news release on Sen. Coburn's website.

The Tulsa town hall will be on Tuesday, August 16, 2011, 6 p.m., at the PACE at Tulsa Community College - Southeast Campus, 10300 E. 81st St. (81st Street South and Highway 169), Tulsa, OK 74133.

The Claremore town hall will be on Wednesday, August 17, 2011, 10:00 a.m., Rogers State University Centennial Center Ballroom, 1701 West Will Rogers Blvd, Claremore, OK 74017.

My son and I attended Sen. Coburn's town hall in Bixby a while back, and he spent most of the Town Hall on questions from citizens, not much time on his own opening remarks, and engaged the audience directly. You may not always get an answer you like, but you will get a direct answer from Sen. Coburn.

Oklahoma Natural Gas is granted a franchise by the City of Tulsa to run its lines through the city's easements and rights-of-way. That franchise was last renewed in 1986 for a 25-year-term. The franchise renewal is on the ballot for a special election today, August 9, 2011. The proposed renewal period is for 15 years.

Today is also the first Tulsa County election under the new voter ID requirement approved by Oklahoma voters last November, so bring your drivers' license.

Here is the ballot text:


There is no mention of today's election on the home page of either or The city elections page at refers only to September's municipal primary and November's general. The proposed ordinance (No. 22415) doesn't show up in the list of ordinances passed since the ordinances were last codified, but that list does include ordinances higher in sequence number, as recent as June 23, 2011. No info about the election can be found on

The website still lacks a keyword or free-text search option for its database of agendas. By searching one regular meeting agenda at a time, I was able to find the ordinance calling today's election, but not ordinance 22415, the legislation that the voters will approve or reject today.

I would like to tell you in detail about the pros and cons of this proposition, or even how the proposed franchise agreement differs from the current agreement, but I can't find those details where they should be, on a city government website. It's as if they want us to vote without knowing what we're voting on. Therefore I'm voting NO.


Tom Quinn's, once advertised on a billboard on US 75 north of downtown, has been offline for a while, but here's the Wayback Machine's capture of Quinn's 2002 appeal to terminate ONG's franchise.

Tom Quinn's February 4, 2010, jeremiad against ONG


In the early part of 2010, a SNAFU involving ONG's transition to a new online bill pay system nearly got our gas cut off. Although I had had automatic bill pay in place via for several years, suddenly nothing was getting paid. ONG would run a computer tape once a month of what everyone owed, and send it to choicepay. Apparently the tape was being run after my previous bill was paid but before ONG charged the next month's bill to my account. At that moment in time, I had a zero balance, so the automated payment plan took $0 out of my account, which meant my bill wasn't getting paid.

I assumed choicepay's system was broken, and when I went to ONG's website, I found that ONG had a new auto bill pay system, hosted on their own website, so I signed up for it, again assuming choicepay had been discontinued. The next month, I was double-billed -- choicepay's system started working again, and ONG's auto pay kicked in. Highest gas bill of the year, and they hit my checking account twice. It took another two months to straighten everything out between choicepay and ONG.

I'd like to tell you that ONG was helpful and efficient in solving the problem, but in fact they were clueless and slow. I went through six months of lengthy phone calls to both companies and several erroneous cutoff notices, all because I assumed automatic bill pay would automatically pay my bill.

UPDATE, 11 p.m.:

The ONG franchise renewal was approved by a three-to-one margin: 2,546 for and 864 against. 3,410 votes cast.

I finally found the ONG franchise ordinance itself attached as "backup documentation" to an item further down the May 19, 2011, agenda on the council website. But I was only able to find it once a reader sent me a copy he got from the City Clerk, with the date of approval on it -- there's no text or keyword search available, as there once was.

According to this budget document, opening all the polls in the City of Tulsa today cost $220,000, with the cost paid for by ONG (ultimately, no doubt, passed along to the ratepayers). Couldn't they have waited until the November general election?

After the jump, snapshots of city websites showing the absence of information about today's franchise election. (Clicking on thumbnails opens a pop-up with the full-sized image.)

Perhaps public notice laws should be changed to make this failure to post election information online cause for invalidating the election.

This last Thursday would have been the 111th birthday of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother. The Queen Mum died on Easter Saturday 2002, having lived through the entire 20th century and a year of the 21st.

Margaret Rhodes, daughter of the Queen Mother's older sister, has written a new book, The Final Curtsey, about life with her aunt and her cousin, Queen Elizabeth II. The Daily Mail has run several excerpts from the book along with photos of the royal family from Mrs. Rhodes' personal collection.

The Queen and I: Mrs. Rhodes' years as her aunt's lady-in-waiting. I was fascinated by the presence of Tupperware or some competing brand of plastic self-sealing container in the photos of the royals eating outdoors at Balmoral in the 1980s.

Mrs. Rhodes writes of her childhood: adventures with her cousins, growing up in a noble house, learning of "Uncle Bertie's" ascent to the throne, and sneaking out of Buckingham Palace with Princess Elizabeth on VE and VJ day.

I was 20 in 1945. VE Day was a euphoric moment. I was still at the Palace and that evening we had a huge party. My eldest brother, John, who had been a prisoner of war, was there and a gang of us, including the two Princesses, were given permission by the King and Queen to slip away anonymously and join the rejoicing crowds on the streets.

This sort of freedom was unheard of as far as my cousins were concerned.

There must have been about 16 of us and we had as escort the King's Equerry, a very correct Royal Navy captain in a pinstriped suit, bowler hat and umbrella. No one appeared less celebratory, perhaps because he took his guardian responsibilities too

Princess Elizabeth was in uniform, as a subaltern in the Auxiliary Transport Service - the ATS. She pulled her peaked cap well down over her face to disguise her much-photographed image, but a Grenadier among the party refused to be seen in the company of another officer, however junior, who was improperly dressed.
My cousin didn't want to break King's Regulations and so reluctantly she agreed to put her cap on correctly, hoping that she would not be recognised. Miraculously she got away with it.

London had gone mad with joy. We could scarcely move; people were laughing and crying; screaming and shouting and perfect strangers were kissing and hugging each other. We danced the conga, a popular new import from Latin America; the Lambeth Walk and the hokey-cokey, and at last fought our way back to the Palace, where there was a vast crowd packed to the railings.

In the final installment, Mrs. Rhodes writes about her marriage and that of her cousin.

Press release from Sen. Coburn's office this morning:

U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, M.D. (R-OK) released the following statement after Standard & Poor's downgraded the United States' AAA credit rating.

"This announcement is probably long overdue. For decades, political careerism has trumped statesmanship in Washington. Both parties have done what is safe, not what is right. The dysfunction in Washington is the belief that we can live beyond our means forever. We can't. The moment to make the hard decisions we have long avoided has arrived. There is no where left to kick the can."

RELATED: Michael Carnuccio of OCPA explains why the debt ceiling deal doesn't add up:

I've recently come across several Facebook pages designed for reminiscing about location-specific childhood memories, and since I started this post several more have sprung up.

I've signed up for "You grew up in Catoosa if you remember.....". I never lived in the City of Catoosa, but Catoosa was more than just its corporate boundaries. Catoosa schools were the focal point of the community, and the district covers Rolling Hills (unincorporated territory back in the '70s), the little community four miles east on old 33 near Nuckolls Store, Ponderosa Estates, and several trailer parks. Rolling Hills Shopping Center and the surrounding neighborhood and the rural area between Catoosa and "Tulsa Proper" were within Tulsa's city limits after 1966, but there was still a connection with Catoosa.

Our family moved to Rolling Hills in 1969, then moved a mile west into the City of Tulsa in 1978. I started out at Catoosa schools, my mom taught kindergarten there for 28 years, and my sister graduated from there. Our family belonged to First Baptist Church of Rolling Hills for 17 years, and Dad was a deacon for much of that time. Dad also helped found the Port of Catoosa Jaycees chapter. I remember going to the candy store across from the elementary school; Mr. Sam the principal, Mrs. Martin the school secretary, and Mr. Parham the custodian; getting Rex's Chicken at Li'l Abner's Dairyette (owned by the Yocham family -- Mrs. Yocham was my "beginners" Sunday School teacher); riding my bike to the In-N-Out at Admiral and 200th for an Icee or walking to the U-Tote-M at 193rd & 4th Street for a Coke; swimming at the Blue Whale or the Rolling Hills trailer park pool.

Another group is open only to those who grew up in north Tulsa (north of Admiral) in the '50s, '60s, and '70s. A west Tulsa Facebook group launched today.

If you lived around 31st and Yale between 1967 and 1987, you probably went to Shaw's Drive In, and there's a Facebook group for that, too.

It's been fun to see old familiar names and read about old familiar places. If you find other Facebook groups devoted to reminiscing about growing up somewhere in the Tulsa area, please leave a comment with the name of the group and a link.

MARK YOUR CALENDAR: The success of the "You grew up in Catoosa if you remember..." group has inspired the planning of a sort of reunion on Saturday, October 15, 2011.

MORE: There's now a group devoted to Nowata, my Dad's hometown.

Washington Post political writer Chris Cillizza, author of the paper's "The Fix" blog, has posted his list of the best state-based political blogs, drawing on nominations from his readers. Three Oklahoma blogs were named, BatesLine, Jamison Faught's Muskogee Politico, and Mike McCarville's The McCarville Report Online. (Cillizza's initial 2011 list is here. He plans to add blogs to the list as he gets additional suggestions from readers.)

It's an honor to be included on this list and in such august company. I am thankful for Mike McCarville's tireless coverage of the State Capitol (and happy to know that he's on the mend after recent surgery) and for Jamison Faught's mix of news, commentary, and analysis. I appreciate Mike's description of this site on his piece about the WaPo list:

Michael Bates' long-running production regularly probes Tulsa politics and prods politicians.

Probes and prods -- maybe BatesLine needs a logo that includes an endoscope and an electric cattle prod.

It seems like an opportune time to remind you that BatesLine is a great advertising value. There are a variety of options to fit your budget, including banner ads that appear above the content on every page of the site. BatesLine will be an especially good value over the next three months, as readership climbs during the run-up to the 2011 Tulsa city election. Whether a reader comes to the site's front page or googles her way to a story in the archive, your ad will be there.

We're beginning to see components of Tulsa's establishment coalesce around certain candidates for City Council, the candidates they believe will best represent the establishment's interests at City Hall.

Burt Holmes and Ben Latham have selected a partial slate of candidates, according to an email from Latham soliciting contributions for their slate.

Holmes was a director of Great Plains Airlines, a Tulsa-based airline that failed at great cost to taxpayers in Tulsa (property taxpayers had to pay a $7 million debt that we didn't owe, a loan that Great Plains had defaulted on, despite earlier assurances that taxpayers would not be on the hook) and Oklahoma (transferable tax credits were used to fund the airline; the money for the credits came from the state coffers).

Holmes, a maximum donor to Barack Obama's primary and general election campaigns, was also a plaintiff, along with Nancy Rothman, in a lawsuit against all members of the current City Council for alleged violations of the Open Meeting Act, a lawsuit that was later dismissed, but not until each councilor had to hire his or her own attorney to defend the suit.

Ben Latham is head of GBR Properties and is listed as a committee member of Save Our Tulsa, the group that wants to return our city to the "good ol' days" when a small number of the well-heeled and well-connected made decisions for Tulsa without the bothersome and distracting input of the nearly 400,000 other citizens.

Given the backgrounds of the men who picked these six candidates -- David Patrick, Liz Hunt, Ken Brune, Karen Gilbert, Tom Mansur, and Phil Lakin -- it seems reasonable to suppose that these candidates may support massive taxpayer subsidies for crazy business schemes, suing city councilors, and SOT's anti-democracy "reforms" that would dilute geographical and minority representation and put Tulsa at risk for a Voting Rights Act lawsuit. If that's not the case, each candidate should speak up and publicly repudiate the Holmes/Latham endorsement.

Holmes and Latham's list of approved candidates is not too surprising. It includes three of the four publicly acknowledged clients of Karl Ahlgren (Hunt, Gilbert, and Lakin). It is somewhat surprising that Nancy Rothman, Holmes's fellow plaintiff and another Ahlgren client, is not on the list -- at least not yet. David Patrick is a long-time rubber stamp for the Cockroach Caucus. Ken Brune was attorney for Coalition for Responsible Government 2004, the group behind the unsuccessful attempt to recall Councilors Jim Mautino and Chris Medlock.

There's a disparaging mention of the "Gang of Five." Given Holmes's involvement in Great Plains Airlines, that's not surprising. Reformers on the City Council led the effort to investigate the Great Plains scheme and identify those responsible, and they resisted Bill LaFortune's 2005 effort to make the city's taxpayers cover the bad debt.

Latham says the "current city council is basically unchanged from the 'Gang of Five' that eisted when Bill LaFortune was mayor." But the Council has had quite a bit of turnover since 2006 when Bill LaFortune was voted out of office. Only three members (Henderson, Turner, Mautino) of the "Gang of Five" are still on the council, and two of them (Turner, Mautino) lost an election before successfully regaining their seats. Bill Christiansen, who was usually in opposition to the "gang's" initiatives, is the only other councilor still in office who was in office prior to the 2006 election, and he's not running for re-election. So Latham's diagnosis of the causes of City Hall disharmony and his proposed solution are ill-founded.

With all nine councilors -- representing a diverse range of personality types -- at odds with the current mayor, the heart of the problem is obvious, but it seems to have escaped Messrs. Holmes and Latham.

Here is Latham's email.

As you may know, I have been an advocate of electing an entirely new City Council with citizens who want to make a positive difference. The current city council is basically unchanged from the "Gang of Five" that existed when Bill LaFortune was mayor. They have demonstrated they cannot get along with any mayor, male or female, Democrat or Republican. It is time for them to all be voted out.

So far, Burt Holmes and I have met with most of the announced candidates. It doesn't matter what political party, gender, ethnic group, etc. that a person belongs to as long as he/she makes good decisions for our city as a whole. After interviewing the candidates we have selected the best person in each district and have 6 to recommend that we all back. Thus far, all six of these are running their campaigns in a manner we like. They all need financing, so your help is important in making a positive change to our city.

Our six so far are:

District 1: We will have no recommendation.

District 2: We are still evaluating the candidates and will have a recommendation shortly. Incumbent Rick Westcott is not running.

District 3: David Patrick (D); running against incumbent Roscoe Turner.

District 4: Liz Hunt (R) and Ken Brune (D); incumbent is Maria Barnes. Liz will be running against Blake Ewing and Ken against Maria Barnes in the primary.

District 5: Karen Gilbert (R); running against incumbent Chris Trail.

District 6: Incumbent is Jim Mautino. Anybody would be better, but we have no recommendation yet. It will be forthcoming.

District 7: Tom Mansur (R); incumbent John Eagleton is not running.

District 8: Phil Lakin (R); incumbent Bill Christiansen is not running.

District 9: We do not have a recommendation in this race, yet.

The main thrust of this effort is to find community leaders who want to get more engaged; the idea being we will all support a slate of candidates with contributions to ALL the supported candidates. We must go outside of our own districts this time, if we want to make a difference. We recommend you support the candidates directly, and not go through a PAC. This is financially more efficient, and you will be certain who you are supporting and get credit for your contribution.

At this time, I would like everyone to consider making the same contribution to all six of these candidates. Please consider $200 or more to each of these six. I am sure the candidates will appreciate whatever contribution you make. Also attached is a generic contribution form (required) that you can use to send in your contributions. I will keep you informed on the needs of the candidates.

[List of candidate addresses deleted.]

I also request you forward this email to your own mailing list. Let's make a difference! Thank you in advance for your participation.

UPDATE: An August 16 email from Latham adds a candidate to the list of endorsements:


Goods gets good. Nothing gets nothing.

If you are unhappy with the city council and want a change, you must help now. We have recruited, interviewed, and vetted excellent candidates, listed below. The candidates need your contribution NOW for the September 13 primaries. By September 1 it will be too late for them to acquire signs and other campaign materials. NOW IS THE TIME TO ACT.

We all care about Tulsa. This election may be our last chance to change the council to progressive collaborators who can move us forward, faster. The primaries on September 13 will decide the general election because there will be no serious opposition in the November general election except for districts 4 and 5. To be successful, we must support the candidates now, so they can win their primaries. As business people, we all have a vested interest in this.

Hunt, Gilbert, Steele and Mansur are the most in need of money. They, and the others, are running good campaigns, including knocking on doors in 100 degree heat.

We know you care about Tulsa, so send your contributions this week so the seven endorsed candidates can make a strong finish to the September 13 election. Ideally, we all send the same contribution to each of the seven. It's up to you to decide how much and to whom. Please consider $200 or more to each of them. I know all of them will appreciate whatever contribution you make.

Our seven endorsements:

District 1: We will have no recommendation.

District 2: We will not have an endorsement in the primary.

District 3: David Patrick (D); running against incumbent Roscoe Turner.

District 4 Ken Brune (D) and Liz Hunt (R); incumbent is Maria Barnes. Liz will be running against Blake Ewing and Ken against Maria Barnes in the primary.

District 5: Karen Gilbert (R); running against incumbent Chris Trail.

District 6: Byron Steele (R); running against incumbent is Jim Mautino.

District 7: Tom Mansur (R); incumbent John Eagleton is not running.

District 8: Phil Lakin (R); incumbent Bill Christiansen is not running.

District 9: We will not oppose the incumbent in this race.

Below is a generic contribution form that you can use to send in your contributions. Addresses to send your contributions to:

[List of addresses redacted.]

We also request you forward this email to your own mailing list. Let's make a difference! Thank you in advance for your immediate participation.

Good Gets Good!

This email had been forwarded with support from Daryl Woodard, Mayor Dewey Bartlett Jr's appointee to the city's redistricting commission. It's beginning to look like the redistricting commission's radical redrawing of the lines (the adopted plan shifted over 20% of the city's precincts into new districts) is working hand in glove with the Latham/Holmes/Ahlgren effort to replace the council with Bartlett Jr rubber-stamps.

Note too that their effort to find candidates in District 2 and District 9 failed. Ahlgren approached District 9 candidate Robert Pinney, offering support for his campaign, and sought to have him meet with Latham, but Pinney, an independent-minded neighborhood leader and well aware of Ahlgren's reputation and connections, rejected his overtures. This seems to explain the change from "We do not have a recommendation in this race, yet," to "We will not oppose the incumbent in this race." Was this group aiming to knock off a potential rival to Bartlett Jr's 2013 re-election bid? (District 2's rubric changed from "We are still evaluating the candidates and will have a recommendation shortly," to "We will not have an endorsement in the primary.")

Time for a public service announcement. Seems like this comes up about once a month, so I'm putting it here on BatesLine, so that I can easily "refer the honourable gentleman to the answer I gave some moments ago."

Yet another rash of Facebook spam should serve as a reminder to clean up any suspicious Facebook apps, games, quizzes that you may have authorized to access your account.

When you take a quiz or play a game on Facebook, you give the application permission to do things as you on Facebook.

A seemingly benign app may be hijacked later to post spammy wall messages or comments AS YOU. A Facebook app DOES NOT HAVE your password and DOES NOT NEED your password to do all this, so changing your password will not stop it.

Many rogue apps are designed to exploit your curiosity. You see a post on a friend's wall:

  • Find out who's been looking at your account!
  • I can't believe you're in this video!
  • ZOMG! LOL! You have to watch this!
  • Famous Corporation is having a special promotion. Click this link to sign up.

When you click the accompanying link, you're asked to grant the app permission to access your account, your friends' list, your wall, your Facebook email, and many people click yes without thinking.

At this point, you've given the app the master key to your Facebook account.

So you've fallen victim to Facebook spam -- how to clean up the mess and protect your friends from a similar trap?

How to clean up Facebook spam

You need to go to the application settings section of your Facebook privacy settings. There are two ways to get there, as of August 1, 2011. (The next Facebook redesign may change everything.)

Here's the long way: Click "Account" in the top right of the Facebook page, then, from the drop-down menu, click "Privacy Settings," then on the lower left of the Privacy Settings page, click the "Edit your settings" link under "Apps and Websites." On the Apps, Games, and Websites page, click the first Edit Settings button, on the same row as "Apps You Use."

Here's the short way: This link will take you directly to your Facebook application settings.

Once there, remove (click the X on the right) any applications that look suspicious or that you no longer need. For the apps you decide to keep, you can edit settings for that app to limit what it can do in your name. Clicking the Edit link will also show you what the app has recently done with the access you've granted it.

If you get rid of a spammy app, be sure to clean up the spam it left on your wall as soon as possible, lest your friends get taken in by it as well.

MORE: Mashable has a detailed discussion of how to avoid and prevent Facebook spam and what to do when you've been hit. Key points:

A few things to keep in mind about these types of spam app attacks:
  • Beware of short links that accompany text on your wall from people who don't normally post links.
  • Investigate or research any app that seems too good to be true before agreeing to install it.
  • Pay attention to what apps you authorize to post to your wall.

You don't need to use URL shorteners like,, or on Facebook, so a shortened link attached to a wall post should be regarded as suspicious.

RELATED: You can change your Facebook settings to use secure mode. This encrypts the messages between your browser and the Facebook server. Go to Account Settings, select Account Security and check the Secure Browsing option. This link will take you straight to the Secure Browsing setting.

Funny because it's so near reality: The IT Crowd spoof ad for "Friendface"

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