June 2013 Archives

Miss_Anne_Elk.jpgDr. Wendy Sullivan, acting administrator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (the parent agency for the National Weather Service), questioned the value of earlier warnings for those in the path of a tornado, suggesting that the early warning might lull residents into a sense of complacency.

Sullivan was testifying before the Technology Subcommittee of the Science, Space, and Technology Committee, responding to a question from U. S. Rep. Jim Bridenstine. Bridenstine asked whether increasing tornado warning lead times to as much as an hour was a priority for NOAA. Dr. Sullivan's response was surprising:

There's a significant response question as to what people would do with one hour.... What do we need to understand about how to present and communicate that so that it doesn't become something someone heard and got busy with some thing else and by the time the hour came they were immersed in... a video game and the tornado ran right over them.

Sure, you have to be concerned about how to communicate urgency and move people to action, but the point of early warning is to prompt people to take action right then. For a sufficiently powerful storm, with an hour's warning you would have hope of getting out of the path of the storm or getting to a neighbor's storm shelter or to the big shelter that your neighborhood school may have some day. An hour would give emergency planners time to evaluate the best course of action for citizens in the path of the storm, time to redirect traffic that might be passing through the danger zone.

I have my doubts about whether we'll ever be able to know an hour in advance that a tornado is coming or where it's headed, but if we could know, wouldn't we want to pass along the information to the public, rather than withhold it for fear they might misuse it. Dr. Sullivan's answer amounts to saying, "We won't warn the provident and wise because the foolish and impulsive will ignore us."

noaa_wendy_sullivan.PNGThe photo above is not Dr. Wendy Sullivan. It is Anne Elk [Miss], a paleontologist with a new theory about the brontosaurus. Actually, it's John Cleese in a dress and a wig, in the 31st episode of Monty Python's Flying Circus. That's Dr. Sullivan to the left.

Tulsa's Greenwood Ave, west side looking south, circa 1925, from S. S. Jones film collection

100 block of N. Greenwood Ave., Tulsa, west side looking south toward Archer, 1924 or 1925, just three years or so after this block was destroyed in the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921.

It is an exciting thing to see Greenwood alive as it was in its heyday.

The Solomon Sir Jones collection of films, discovered about seven years ago by Oklahoma historian Currie Ballard, is available for viewing on the website of Yale University's Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library. In 2006, Ballard was concerned about finding a home for these rare and precious films documenting the resilience and industry of African-Americans in Oklahoma. Within three years, the films were available through Global Image Works. Now Yale is making them available for viewing and download.

Dr. S. S. Jones was a Baptist pastor in Okmulgee, a denominational leader, and a businessman. This collection consists of about six hours worth of film, in 29 reels, of African-Americans in Oklahoma in the mid-1920s. Jones had a good 16 mm camera and a kit for making titles using white letters on a black background; nearly every segment has an identifying title.

Jones would occasionally insert other films or shots of photographs. Film 18 begins with a short, stock clip of Pacific coast fishermen. That was followed by a procession of 71 white-robed baptismal candidates and hundreds of other church goers entering First Church in Okmulgee. I could imagine Jones showing this silent film to a group and narrating something about being fishers of men.

SSJones18-CBBottling-1925-05.PNG

Starting about 5 minutes in, there are extended clips of Tulsa's Greenwood District: The S. D. Hooker Dry Goods company at 123 N. Greenwood; smartly-dressed members of the Tulsa Business League; photos of Mt. Zion Baptist Church, destroyed just two months after it was dedicated, and then film of the church as it was at the time -- just the basement that survived the riot; the C. B. Bottling Works at 528 E. Archer (SW of Archer and Greenwood); street scenes on Greenwood, including a funeral procession of cars; students at the noon hour at Booker T. Washington High School and on the playground and in the agricultural gardens at Dunbar Elementary School.

SSJones02-MunicipalTheatre-1927-01.PNG

Marching band (in white) and convention delegates at the Tulsa Municipal Theater for the 1927 National Baptist convention.

On film 28 there is about three minutes footage of C. C. Pyle's Bunion Derby, including close-ups of winner Andy Payne and many of the other runners.

SSJones28-BunionDerby-AndyPayne-1928-01.PNG

Of course, this isn't just about Tulsa. Okmulgee, Muskogee, Taft, Boley, Okay, Langston, Porter, Coweta, Hugo, Bristow, Wetumka are among the other Oklahoma cities and towns featured in these movies.

This is really exciting stuff.

Philbrook Museum and Gardens by Michael Bates

Tulsa's Philbrook Museum of Art is holding a reception for homeschooling parents on Saturday, June 29, 2013, from 2 to 4 pm. The event is free.

Learn all about the growing Philbrook Homeschool Art program. Enjoy light refreshments, guided tours, and the announcement of the Fall 2013 curriculum.

For questions call 918.748.5352

Philbrook has had a homeschool art program since Fall 2011. An article about the program notes, "According to the National Home Education Research Institute, there are over 2 million home-educated school age children in the United States."

Tulsa has a strong homeschooling community, with an infrastructure that includes cooperatives and communities, conferences, and even a textbook and curriculum consignment store. There's a great deal of diversity in methods and motivations among Tulsa homeschoolers, but homeschooling parents are always on the lookout for activities and classes that complement their children's studies at home. Really, it ought to be called tailor-made education -- it's all about finding the right combination of materials and teaching methods to suit your child's gifts and abilities. It's smart for Philbrook to reach out and offer an enrichment opportunity to Tulsa area homeschool families and in the process build a new generation of museum patrons.

Philbrook would not only be valuable to a homeschool family as a place to study art, but the works on display would complement the study of European history (ancient Greece, ancient Rome, the Middle Ages, the Renaissance), American history, Native American peoples, and the Bible, among other subjects.

UPDATE 2013/06/20: See below regarding the letter from Tulsa World attorney Schaad Titus to blogger Sean Kelly.

This is a bizarre story, and it doesn't look good for one of the stars of local print journalism. Other outlets have covered it well, but it deserves to be noted here.

Tulsa World investigative reporter and enterprise editor Ziva Branstetter has been accused of supplying research about a blog critic of Tulsa restaurant franchiser and consultant David Rutkauskas to Rutkauskas, which Rutkauskas then apparently used in a combination Twitter attack and legal campaign against the critic, Sean Kelly of UnhappyFranchisee.com. Last week, Rutkauskas dropped his lawsuit against Kelly and apologized publicly on his website. Neither Branstetter nor anyone at the World has apologized to Kelly, according to Kelly and a story last week in This Land Press.

The Branstetter / Rutkauskas story was broken by Urban Tulsa Weekly reporter Jaime Adame in the paper's June 5, 2013, issue.

Sean Kelly of UnhappyFranchisee.com describes himself as having "25 years of experience in franchising as VP of an international franchise consulting firm, Director of Marketing for an international franchise company, President of a franchise marketing firm, writer for national franchise magazine, and an expert witness in franchise cases." UnhappyFranchisee.com collects stories of problems experienced by franchise owners with the franchising companies, across all industries, including janitorial, fitness, tax preparation, hotels, insurance, multi-level marketing, and restaurants. The site logs lawsuits, criminal charges, and SBA loan default statistics for dozens if not hundreds of franchise concepts.

Kelly has written a number of critical articles about Beautiful Brands International, a Tulsa company headed by David Rutkauskas. BBI began with Camille's Sidewalk Cafe and grew to include other franchise concepts like FreshBerry and Coney Beach. BBI also provides consulting to help prospective franchisors develop a new concept.

Given reports he was reading from unhappy BBI franchisees and partners, Kelly was perplexed at the softball treatment BBI received from Oklahoma media outlets. He writes that he provided information to several local business journalists and received no indication of interest.

In February of this year, the Tulsa World did run a story headlined, "Camille's empire copes with setbacks." Here's UTW's Jaime Adame's account of what happened next:

The lawsuit against Kelly states that Kelly's comments posted to the World story in February as well as his writings at UnhappyFranchisee.com are "false, malicious, defamatory and libelous" and written "with an intent to cause disrepute, public hatred, contempt, ridicule and embarrassment to BBI, to deprive BBI of public confidence, and to injure BBI." The lawsuit -- which includes a signature from Rutkauskas dated May 6, apparently two days before Branstetter's email to him -- is asking for both actual and punitive damages, each in excess of $10,000.

Kelly says that his comments were posted under a pseudonym, and he had not publicly identified himself as the owner of UnhappyFranchisee.com until the Tulsa World notified him that they would not defend against a court order to reveal his identity after Rutkauskas's company filed a suit against the John Doe owner of UnhappyFranchisee.com and commenter on TulsaWorld.com. After Kelly outed himself, Beautiful Brands refiled the suit, naming him as defendant.

Oh, yes, Branstetter's email. From Adame's story:

Ziva Branstetter, the Tulsa World's enterprise editor and star investigative reporter, sent Rutkauskas a complete report on the background of Sean P. Kelly, a frequent critic of Rutkauskas and the company Rutkauskas founded, Tulsa-based Beautiful Brands International, LLC.

In a word, it's "unbelievable" to Jonathan Fortman, the attorney defending Kelly against a defamation lawsuit filed on May 14, just days after Branstetter's email.

Fortman provided a copy of the email to Urban Tulsa Weekly. What he provided shows information sent from Branstetter's Tulsa World email account.

Though the email could not be independently authenticated, Branstetter did not deny having provided information about Kelly to Rutkauskas. At the Tulsa World office, Branstetter met for about five minutes with a UTW reporter but declined to comment for this story....

The report included information on a bankruptcy, the number of Kelly's children and property records....

Rutkauskas did answer a few questions in a phone interview. Asked about Branstetter's email, he only remarked: "Whatever she sent me was in confidence, and I don't want to get into stuff about that."

Holly Wall's story at This Land Press has the text of the purported letter from Branstetter to Rutkauskas, and samples of the angry, insulting, and obscene tweets that Rutkauskas directed against Kelly, apparently drawing on the background information he received to make the insults more painful and intimidating, a tirade that started mere hours after the email was sent. This Land Press contacted Branstetter, who replied but said she couldn't answer their questions, and they attempted to contact the World's attorney and the newly installed publisher, Bill Masterson, but hadn't received a reply at press time.

Meanwhile Kelly himself has unsuccessfully attempted to elicit an apology or at least an explanation from Branstetter. In one email, Kelly turned the tables on Branstetter, citing information in the public record which might embarrass her or worry her if widely disseminated, in an effort to help her empathize with the emotional impact of the information she allegedly provided to Rutkauskas. Kelly thoughtfully redacted the specific information from his public posting, but it was simple enough to fill in the blanks with OSCN filings and other information readily available on the web.

In that same email, Kelly reflects on his 2007 bankruptcy (one of the items mentioned, with the wrong year, in the alleged Branstetter email to Rutkauskas), and how he handled the adversity:

As a business owner, I had tried to play by the rules, and did the best I could for my clients and my employees.

While I would always feel ashamed, I knew I hadn't done anything to be ashamed of.

Eventually, it occurred to me that this hardship was actually an opportunity.

It was an opportunity for my wife and I to show our kids how to face adversity with integrity and grace.

It was an opportunity to teach them not to panic, to walk tall, and to work together in a crisis.

It was an opportunity to show them that if you conduct yourself ethically and try to treat people fairly, you've got nothing to be embarrassed about.

Ziva, that terrifying ordeal made me better in a lot of ways.

It made me unable to just divert my gaze when I see someone who is leading others to their own dark, dark mornings and empty driveways.

It made me unable to remain silent when people like David Rutkauskas, empowered with the validation of media like Tulsa World, encourage individuals to gamble their family's futures based on misleading claims, misinformation, and a semi-fictional success story.

MORE:

UnhappyFranchisee's complete archive on Beautiful Brands International, LLC, including his pieces on what he calls "ZivaGate."

Ziva Branstetter is running to be a board member of Investigative Reporters and Editors at this week's IRE conference in San Antonio. She is also 2013 president-elect of Freedom Of Information Oklahoma. Sean Kelly has written an open letter to IRE members about Branstetter.

UPDATE 2013/06/20:

Tulsa World attorney Schaad Titus has sent a letter to Sean Kelly's attorney putting Sean Kelly "on notice" that Branstetter only sent the dossier she had compiled on Kelly to Rutkauskas to help Rutkauskas understand why there wasn't a story of local interest for her to pursue. Titus seems to be suggesting that for Kelly to continue to write about Branstetter would put him at risk for a "false light defamation" or harassment suit. Titus demands on behalf of Branstetter and the Tulsa World that Kelly "cease and desist from any further communication or dissemination of this information about Ziva Branstetter."

In response, Kelly offers a rebuttal that seems to poke several holes in Branstetter's justification of her actions as reported by Titus.

Notably, Titus's letter seems to confirm the authenticity of the email reported to have been sent by Branstetter to Rutkauskas. The claim that Branstetter was merely trying to explain why she wouldn't pursue a story doesn't seem to be consistent with the first line of the email (emphasis added):

Here are the reports I pulled on him. It may be hard stuff for you to interpret but if you look at it long enough you can pick out the pieces of info you are interested in.

There's not a hint of that motivation in the rest of the email either.

One detail got me curious: Titus mentions that Branstetter used "Lexis Nexis (or what she calls auto track)" to investigate UnhappyFranchisee.com and discover the owner's identity. This may be a reference to a service called ChoicePoint AutoTrack XP, a service that was sold in 2008 by LexisNexis (under an FTC consent order) to Thomson West as the core of a new business called West Government Services. AutoTrack XP is described as a service that "allows users to search through billions of current and historical records on individuals and businesses when investigating fraud, conducting criminal and civil investigations, locating witnesses, finding missing children, or locating and verifying assets." The target audience for the service appears to be law enforcement and other government agencies. The information that might take "20 to 30 minutes to compile" using AutoTrack could take hours or days without it, and some of the information might only be available to the general public by mail or in-person inspection of records, if it was available at all.

There is one fact that appears to contradict both Kelly's and Branstetter's explanations of Branstetter's email. Beautiful Brands International LLC filed a dismissal in its case against "John Doe" on April 19, 2013. The dismissal names Sean P. Kelly as the defendant, not "John Doe," so at that point Kelly's identity was known to Rutkauskas's attorney and presumably to Rutkauskas himself. So Rutkauskas would have been able to provide that name directly to Branstetter on May 6 or 7, and indeed Kelly notes that "the search record documents she sent to Rutkauskas indicate that she initiated her searches with the term 'Sean P Kelly.'" So it would appear that Branstetter would not have needed to learn of Kelly's identity as webmaster of UnhappyFranchisee.com via "auto track" as Titus asserts she did, but neither would she have needed access to any secret internal Tulsa World information about his identity, as Kelly seems to suggest.

Seems to me Branstetter and the Whirled could have put this whole thing to rest with a simple, "I'm sorry. I understand how hurtful this was to you and your family. It was poor judgment on my part to provide a background check on you to someone in order to cultivate what I thought might be a source for future stories." Instead, they send a four-page legalese version of "'Shut up,' he explained," which is unlikely to make the story go away. (See Streisand effect.)

(UPDATED 2017/04/11 to convert UTW and This Land links to Internet Archive version.)

Angel-Clark-Radio-Freedom-News-300x226.pngAngel Clark, a Delaware-based libertarian blogger and radio talk show host, has an opportunity for a radio syndication deal that would get her show on more stations. But to make it happen, she needs to fund an upgrade to her studio equipment and to cover the increased cost of licenses. (If you want to use an ear-catching song on your show, you have to pay the license holder.) So she's set up a Kickstarter pledge drive to raise the $20,000 she needs to launch the Angel Clark Show 2.0.

I met Angel and her husband at the first BlogCon and have met up with them on a few occasions over the last couple of years. She keeps the show both lively and professional whether she's talking to a guest, reacting to a caller, or sharing her own thoughts. She's got a witty, sarcastic edge, just enough to be interesting, but not grating. Angel focuses on economic and civil liberties, areas where libertarians and conservatives can usually come together. I've been a guest on the show a couple of times, and it's always been an enjoyable experience. (Here's my appearance on the show on May 17, 2012, providing a different perspective on the controversies at the 2012 Oklahoma Republican Convention. On the previous episode, Qadoshyah Fish, who was part of the rump convention in the parking lot, gave the Ron Paul movement's side of the story.)

While Angel has a strong following via podcast and is heard on a few radio stations, she points out that radio has a broader reach. "Many people just want to get in their cars, flip through the stations, and listen to something they find interesting."

While I disagree with Angel when she says there's no difference between Republicans and Democrats (although, having attended a Delaware Republican State Convention, I can see why she'd feel that way), I respect her passion for liberty and her skill as a communicator. If you'd like to listen, here's a link to podcasts of recent shows. If you'd like to help out with the equipment she needs to broaden her reach, here's the Kickstarter link.

About four years ago, Lee Roy Chapman set out on a quest to find Bob Wills's 1948 Flxible Clipper tour bus. He found Bob's bus, and a companion -- the bus of Wills's good friend, western swing bandleader Hoyle Nix -- rusting in a field near Big Spring, Texas, Nix's home base. Chapman reached a deal with the owner to hold the option on the bus until he could raise the money to pay the asking price and bring the bus back to Tulsa. The hope was to exhibit it here, near Cain's Ballroom, the house that Bob built, and take it on tour as well.

It seemed like an impossible dream at the time.

On Tuesday, June 11, 2013, Bob's bus came home, thanks to the help of Loren Frederick. Here's a photo from his Facebook page of the bus entering Tulsa County at the Turner Turnpike terminus.

Bob_Wills_Bus_returns_to_Tulsa.jpg

I hope to have more of the story soon, but in the meantime western swing fans can look forward to the day when we can once again "Ride with Bob."

MORE: Lee Roy Chapman also put forward the idea that the arts district north of the Frisco tracks in downtown Tulsa should be marketed as the Bob Wills District, rather than the Brady Arts District, named (indirectly, by way of Brady Street and the Brady Theater) for Tulsa founder, segregationist, Democratic National Committeeman, and Klansman (but I repeat myself) Tate Brady. Read his This Land Press investigative report on Tate Brady's role in vigilantism, the 1921 Tulsa Race Riot, and its aftermath.

Some interesting theological perspective, in this excerpt of Bono's interview with Michka Assayas on a website called "The Poached Egg." Here's what Bono had to say about karma, grace, and atonement.

You see, at the center of all religions is the idea of Karma. You know, what you put out comes back to you: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, or in physics; in physical laws every action is met by an equal or an opposite one. It's clear to me that Karma is at the very heart of the universe. I'm absolutely sure of it. And yet, along comes this idea called Grace to upend all that "as you reap, so you will sow" stuff. Grace defies reason and logic. Love interrupts, if you like, the consequences of your actions, which in my case is very good news indeed, because I've done a lot of stupid stuff....

...I'd be in big trouble if Karma was going to finally be my judge. I'd be in deep s---. It doesn't excuse my mistakes, but I'm holding out for Grace. I'm holding out that Jesus took my sins onto the Cross, because I know who I am, and I hope I don't have to depend on my own religiosity....

...I love the idea of the Sacrificial Lamb. I love the idea that God says: Look, you cretins, there are certain results to the way we are, to selfishness, and there's a mortality as part of your very sinful nature, and, let's face it, you're not living a very good life, are you? There are consequences to actions. The point of the death of Christ is that Christ took on the sins of the world, so that what we put out did not come back to us, and that our sinful nature does not reap the obvious death. That's the point. It should keep us humbled . It's not our own good works that get us through the gates of heaven.

Assayas asked Bono, "Christ has his rank among the world's great thinkers. But Son of God, isn't that farfetched?" Bono's reply echoes C. S. Lewis:

No, it's not farfetched to me. Look, the secular response to the Christ story always goes like this: he was a great prophet, obviously a very interesting guy, had a lot to say along the lines of other great prophets, be they Elijah, Muhammad, Buddha, or Confucius.

But actually Christ doesn't allow you that. He doesn't let you off that hook. Christ says: No. I'm not saying I'm a teacher, don't call me teacher. I'm not saying I'm a prophet. I'm saying: "I'm the Messiah." I'm saying: "I am God incarnate." And people say: No, no, please, just be a prophet. A prophet, we can take. You're a bit eccentric. We've had John the Baptist eating locusts and wild honey, we can handle that. But don't mention the "M" word! Because, you know, we're gonna have to crucify you. And he goes: No, no. I know you're expecting me to come back with an army, and set you free from these creeps, but actually I am the Messiah. At this point, everyone starts staring at their shoes, and says: Oh, my God, he's gonna keep saying this.

So what you're left with is: either Christ was who He said He was the Messiah or a complete nutcase. I mean, we're talking nutcase on the level of Charles Manson. This man was like some of the people we've been talking about earlier. This man was strapping himself to a bomb, and had "King of the Jews" on his head, and, as they were putting him up on the Cross, was going: OK, martyrdom, here we go. Bring on the pain! I can take it. I'm not joking here. The idea that the entire course of civilization for over half of the globe could have its fate changed and turned upside-down by a nutcase, for me, that's farfetched.

As of June 12, 2013, I'm only aware of two endorsements: Henderson and Ewing, both for Taylor. I will update this table as additional endorsements are announced.

District Councilor Party Endorsing
1 Jack Henderson D Taylor
2 Jeannie Cue R
3 David Patrick D
4 Blake Ewing R Taylor
5 Karen Gilbert R
6 Skip Steele R
7 Adrianna Moore R
8 Phil Lakin R
9 G. T. Bynum R

From the Christiansen campaign office:

Bill Christiansen ran for Mayor of ALL Tulsa and ran because he wanted to represent the citizens of Tulsa not special interest groups. He was out spent nearly 10-1 and started out at 9% and consistently raised to 24%.

These may be worth boasting about later but the most important aspect of this election is that Bill Christiansen brought attention to many important issues in Tulsa such as; The city parks that were being bulldozed, Public Safety issues, street funding, and neighborhood code issues. He is the first candidate in Tulsa history and maybe in Oklahoma history to receive respected endorsements from BOTH sides of the aisle. He gained support from Roscoe Turner, the NAACP president, and the city workers union on the left to Tea party groups, and the Gun Owners of America association on the right.

The pressure for Mr. Christiansen to endorse either of his remaining opponents in a lightening like speed is unwarranted at this time. A statement will be made in late July or early August in regards to any endorsements that may or may not happen. For now Mr. Christiansen will be leaving to go catch a New York Mets ballgame while on business and take some additional family time. Upon his return he will be meeting with both remaining candidates and will be issuing a statement in the above referenced time frame. His decision will be be based solely on what is best for the great city of Tulsa. Mr. Christiansen asks his supporters to continue to encourage each other and be positive in order to continue the demeanor of his campaign.

All the precincts are in. You can download the precinct-level results for the June 11, 2013 elections statewide here. It's the last link on the page, it's a zip file, and it contains a CSV file that you can open in your spreadsheet program or query with your database software.

As a friend put it, Tulsa now has a choice between a Ferengi and ...

Conservatives will have a tough choice in November: If Taylor wins, she's a threat to move up the political ladder for the Democrats. Then again, if Taylor wins, Republicans should be able to unite to defeat her bad ideas (although that didn't work so well last time around). If Bartlett wins, a certain number of Republicans will feel obliged to defend -- yea, even celebrate -- his most ill-considered plans.

At first glance, the numbers give me the impression that Dewey Bartlett Jr will be toast in November. His Midtown Money Belt base went strongly for Kathy Taylor -- in many precincts a clear majority for Taylor. Bartlett Jr's only hope is to tie Taylor to Obama and turn out south and east Tulsa Republicans, as he did in 2009. But Taylor won't give Bartlett Jr as much to work with in that regard as Tom Adelson did. The lack of a party label on the ballot won't help either. Taylor seems to be able, on the one hand, to mobilize activist liberal Democrats with "dog whistles" and back-channel communications while, on the other hand, presenting herself to the broader electorate as above partisan politics.

Christiansen finished first in only 20 precincts. He won several north Tulsa precincts between Pine and Admiral, Utica and Hudson (16, 17, 19, 20, 25). Christiansen won a number of precincts on the far periphery of the city: The western part of Red Fork (143), the furthest west precinct on the Sand Springs Line (149), the precinct in the far northeast corner (23), several far east Tulsa precincts (41, 42, 43, 53, 57, 58, 61, 101; Wagoner County precinct 101), and the only voter who turned out in Osage Co. precinct 205. He edged out Bartlett in ORU's precinct 162 -- a very low turnout of 30 voters with school out for the summer.

Christiansen received only 29.5% of the vote in the old boundaries of Council District 8, finishing first in only one precinct (159). Christiansen barely edged out Taylor, who had 28.9% of the vote in that area.

The city auditor's race is all over bar the shouting. 47.4% and a 29-point lead over the next nearest rival means almost certain victory in the runoff, and you have to imagine that a significant number of Lewis supporters are unhappy enough with incumbent Richards to support Criswell in the next round. By my visual scan of the results, Criswell finished first in all but four precincts.

In the County Commission race, there was a dramatic drop-off in turnout for non-City of Tulsa precincts. John Wright and Don Crall each did well in their home territories of Broken Arrow and Bixby respectively, but they failed to turn out voters in those areas. Their share of the votes combined would have been enough to finish second. Had Wright and Crall united behind one candidate and also driven up turnout in the out-of-Tulsa precincts, even slightly, the unity candidate would have won the primary.

KOTV News on 6 won the prize for fastest results. The KOKI/KRMG team and KJRH each had runners, and each showed some early results, but they were stuck at about 5% and 11% reporting respectively as KOTV quickly moved about 50% reporting. My guess is that KOTV planned to pick up every precinct; perhaps the other two planned to get a few key or nearby precincts to be able to show some results while waiting for the election board to start reporting, which didn't happen until well after 8 p.m, and then shift to election board results.

Polling_Place_Vote_Here.jpgHappy Election Day! Polls open in Tulsa County and the City of Tulsa at 7 a.m. and close at 7 p.m.

Citizens of the City of Tulsa have two races on a non-partisan primary ballot: Mayor and City Auditor. There will be runoffs in November and possibly (but not likely) in August if no candidate gets more than 50% of the vote today. Here's an explanation of Tulsa's new non-partisan election and runoff system.

Republican voters in Tulsa County District 3 (southern Broken Arrow, Bixby, Glenpool, southern Jenks, central and southern Tulsa) have a first-past-the-post special primary to fill the unexpired term of retiring commissioner Fred Perry. The candidate with the most votes, whether or not a majority, will advance to an August general election against Democrat John Bomar, who was unopposed for his party's nomination.

My endorsements -- click to read why:

A few resources as you go to vote:

City of Tulsa election results (including portions of the city in surrounding counties) and Tulsa County election results will be posted to the State Election Board website. But be aware that the county election boards will not process and transmit the tallies from individual precincts to the State Election Board computers until all absentee ballots (both in-person and by mail) are counted and posted. This was the cause for a significant delay last November; it shouldn't be as bad in a lower-turnout election. At least one TV station, KOTV Channel 6, will be sending poll runners to retrieve tallies directly from the results posted on every polling place door. I'll update this if I hear that other stations are also sending runners.

If you run into any difficulty voting or spot any irregularity, contact the your county election board. The phone number for the Tulsa County Election Board is 918-596-5780.

No election day would be complete without a theme song. Take it away, Leon!

Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys perform "Election Day" by Cindy Walker in the movie Wyoming Hurricane, starring Russell Hayden. Leon McAuliffe on vocals; Cotton Thompson, Bob Wills, and Jesse Ashlock on fiddle, Junior Barnard on guitar, Luke Wills on bass.

Posted 12:00 a.m. Tuesday, June 11, 2013. Postdated to remain at the top of the blog through poll closing time.

Press release from Gun Owners of America from yesterday:

GOA Throws Support for Christiansen in Race for Tulsa Mayor

Gun Owners of America has endorsed Bill Christiansen, a businessman and former Marine, for Tulsa mayor in the primary election on Tuesday, June 11.

Christiansen is challenging the current mayor of Tulsa, who has broken the law in posting "no gun" signs in city parks. State law preempts localities from passing stricter gun control laws, and denying permit holders from carrying in city parks is a clear violation of Oklahoma law.

When the state group OK2A notified Mayor Dewey Bartlett's office about this conflict with the state law, gun owners were told that the mayor's staff would be lobbying for a repeal of the state preemption law.

"So instead of complying with the law," says OK2A, "they will continue to break it while trying to make the law comply with their illegal actions."

UPDATE: GOA found out today (the day before the election) that the city of Tulsa has begun to tape over the "no gun" signs. The head of OK2A suspects that it took a combination of forces to make the Mayor cry "uncle" -- namely, the fact that there is an impending election (tomorrow) and that OK2A was threatening to sue the city.

Despite this late-breaking information, GOA agrees that it's time for a change in Tulsa -- and Bill Christiansen is the change that is needed.

As stated by OK2A: "Tulsa has a clear choice. Option one: Mayor Bartlett, who obviously has no respect for the law. Option two: Kathy Taylor, a proven progressive [and a former charter member of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's anti-gun group known as Mayors Against Illegal Guns]. Or, option three: Bill Christiansen."

If elected, Bill Christiansen has agreed that he will remove the anti-gun signs in Tulsa's parks (without the threat of a lawsuit to comply with state law) and will carefully select a police chief who is pro-Second Amendment.

Please visit Bill Christiansen's website at www.billfortulsa.com to see how you can help. And if you live in Tulsa, please make sure you vote for Christiansen on Tuesday, June 11.

Sincerely,

Tim Macy Vice-Chairman Gun Owners of America

Paid for by Gun Owners of America, 8001 Forbes Place, Suite 102, Springfield, VA 22151. The Honorable H.L. "Bill" Richardson, Chairman. Not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee.

Another day, another mendacious attack mailer from Dewey Bartlett Jr. If I had known there were enough Tulsans who objected to rising city budgets, county tax initiatives, the City Hall move, the Great Plains Airlines bailout, and accepting Federal stimulus money to justify a mail piece targeting those concerns, I would have run -- I was on the right side of all those issues, after all.

Of course, the point of these mendacious mailers is not that a majority of Tulsans agree with me, but that some number of Tulsans who agree with me on these issues and disagree with how Bill Christiansen handled them are nevertheless supporting Christiansen for mayor. Bartlett Jr's only hope of surviving Tuesday's primary may be to discourage and dishearten enough of these Christiansen supporters to keep them at home, to peel off just enough of Christiansen's support to allow Bartlett Jr to finish second.

No one has to tell me that Bill Christiansen and I have disagreed and still disagree on many city issues. But nearly every issue that Bartlett Jr has used against Christiansen works against Bartlett Jr, too.

For example, Christiansen recused himself on the Great Plains Airlines bailout vote because he is a tenant of one of the parties involved in the matter (the Tulsa Airport Authority), but he couldn't have stopped it if he had wanted to do so. Councilors were told by attorneys that they had no discretion to reject the settlement; they were only being asked to certify the presence of enough money in the city's sinking fund to pay the bill.

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Dewey Bartlett Jr, as a member of the Tulsa Airport Improvements Trust, voted for the illegal Great Plains Airlines settlement that Kathy Taylor orchestrated. Bartlett Jr praised the deal, saying, "It's something we need to do and I applaud the mayor and the Bank of Oklahoma for working out a deal." Click that link to watch the video of Bartlett Jr's vote and comments.

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I wasn't happy when Christiansen went along with then-Mayor Taylor on the purchase of One Technology Center for the new City Hall or the use of a stadium trust and assessment district to finance a downtown ballpark. I spoke out against both of those decisions, but I don't recall Dewey Bartlett Jr raising any objections. In fact, Bartlett Jr implicitly supported both bad deals when he endorsed Kathy Taylor unreservedly for re-election and said he wouldn't "be concerned if people consider him [Bartlett Jr] an extension of Kathy Taylor's leadership."

Even after he was elected, Dewey Bartlett Jr defended the One Technology Center purchase, despite a golden opportunity to distance himself from the costly decision.

If Dewey Bartlett Jr knows that the same accusations he's hurling against his opponent also work against him, he's cynical and disingenuous. If Dewey Bartlett Jr doesn't know that, he's clueless.

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So let's stipulate that the Big Three Candidates disagree with me and other grassroots Tulsans, of both parties, on many city issues that matter. There are several solid reasons for us, nevertheless, to choose Christiansen over Bartlett Jr and Taylor:

1. Bill Christiansen made his money by building a business.

Bill Christiansen didn't marry into wealth, and he didn't inherit wealth. He came out of the Marines with a dream, came to Tulsa, and started a business from scratch. 41 years later his business, Christiansen Aviation, is still going and growing.

In recent years, I've had a front-row seat to watch several friends build businesses from scratch. It's given me an appreciation of the complex thought, hard work, self-discipline, and persistence involved in taking a little bit of money and the diverse skills and temperaments of a collection of employees and turning it into a living, growing enterprise that provides stable employment for dozens of people. Those abilities are needed at City Hall.

2. Bill Christiansen stayed married.

It's impolitic to point this out, I know, in a day when even conservative radio talk show hosts (even Catholic ones) minimize the issue of divorce. (Which gives social liberals ammunition against our efforts to stop same-sex "marriage.") We all know of divorces where the blame is split evenly, and we know of other divorces where one spouse's abusive or irresponsible behavior bears most of the blame. It's reasonable for those of us who believe in traditional marriage, when we consider our election options, to examine whether a candidate's divorce points to a severe character flaw. It's reasonable to ask if there was bad judgment involved, and if it has been corrected.

But surely everyone can agree that it's an accomplishment for a couple to stay together for 43 years, as Bill Christiansen and his wife Veretta have done. It's a sign of self-control and self-sacrifice, devotion and determination, particularly in an age when so many think divorce is no big deal.

3. Bill Christiansen understands that leadership starts with being a servant.

See 1 and 2 above. You can't succeed in building a business if you see yourself as royalty and expect to be catered to. Your job as the CEO is to give your people what they need to do their magic every day for the benefit of your customers and to keep obstacles out of their way. You can't succeed in marriage unless you're willing to sacrifice your own interests for the sake of your wife and kids. Christiansen has made "servant leadership" a core theme of his campaign. Christiansen sees the mayor's job not as being a "city boss," trying to push citizens to a destination of his choosing, but rather facilitating the work of city employees in their service to the public and facilitating Tulsa citizens as they seek to live their lives and pursue their own dreams.

4. Bill Christiansen has been moving toward a better, grassroots vision for city government.

When Christiansen was first elected, it was with the Tulsa Metro Chamber's support, and he tended to follow their lead. You'll find plenty of complaints on this website about Christiansen during his first few terms on the council. You can read how I wrested with his record when I decided to endorse Christiansen for re-election in 2009 against a challenge from Phil Lakin:

He has improved in recent years. He worked with former Street Commissioner Jim Hewgley III to try to develop a maintenance-heavy street repair package -- the Baby Bear plan. I had my doubts about whether he would remain opposed to the South Tulsa bridge, since some who backed his start in politics supported it (notably former Tulsa City Councilor, now Bixby resident, John Benjamin), Christiansen has been steadfast on the issue.

Christiansen's work on the bridge issue seems to have made him more sympathetic to concerns of homeowners regarding new development. He put together a Land Use Education and Communication task force. The task force recommendations are aimed at making the rules understandable and providing better web access to information on new development to help public awareness. There are some great ideas here, but as they would arm citizens with more timely information, I am sure that some old-guard development industry types are unhappy about it. I've heard speculation that this task force is one of the reasons that the establishment has abandoned Christiansen and is instead backing Phil Lakin....

In that 2009 piece, I omitted to mention another important issue in Christiansen's evolution: He watched neighboring homeowners get the runaround over the Sonoma Grande apartments in southeast Tulsa, a development that exploited a zoning anomaly and built up the terrain so that the new apartment buildings towered over neighboring single-family backyards. That was another factor in prompting the Land Use Education and Communication task force. At last Wednesday's mayoral meet-and-greet, Christiansen talked about the influence of a tour with members of Preserve Midtown, where he learned about the direct physical harm that heedless infill development can do to neighboring properties.

In 2013, when Dewey Bartlett Jr was beating the drum for the Vision2 corporate welfare, pork barrel, and long-term debt county tax proposal, when Kathy Taylor was hiding like a coward from the issue, Bill Christiansen courageously expressed his unequivocal opposition to Vision2.

Bartlett Jr beats on Christiansen for agreeing to Kathy Taylor's plan to finance the purchase of the new City Hall by borrowing $67 million against revenue from rentals in the new buildings and sales of the old buildings, but Bartlett Jr tried to persuade taxpayers to waste $80 million in bonding costs and interest as part of Vision2. Bartlett Jr wanted us to start borrowing and spending right away, four years before we would have any revenue that could be used to pay back the bonds.

5. If elected, Bill Christiansen will owe nothing to the Midtown Money Belt establishment.

My conclusion in 2009 remains valid:

And that abandonment by the establishment is the main reason why, if I lived in District 8, I would vote for Bill Christiansen. It takes some people longer than others to learn the lesson, but once you've been burned by the local oligarchy, it's a lesson you don't forget.

Many of the same Money Belt types who put Christiansen in office in 2002 put a lot of money into trying to remove him in 2009. The contribution records for the mayoral candidates show that they're backing Taylor and Bartlett and shunning Christiansen.

For example, Oklahoma's wealthiest man, Obama bundler George Kaiser together with his wife Myra Block gave $3,500 each to Dewey Bartlett Jr and Kathy Taylor this year -- nothing to Christiansen. In the 2009 council race, Kaiser gave $2,500 to Christiansen's opponent, Phil Lakin; BOK Financial Corp PAC gave $2,000; and there were many other four-digit contributions from individuals affiliated with BOK, George Kaiser Family Foundation, and other Kaiser-affiliated entities and businesses. Bill Lobeck (Mr. Kathy Taylor) gave $2,500 to purge Christiansen from the Council.

If Christiansen wins, he will owe nothing to the Money Belt elite, who put their own recreational interests ahead of the basic needs of Tulsa's citizens. He will win in spite of them. He will owe his election to grassroots Tulsans from the four corners of the city. That would be a welcome change.

One more thing: People who haven't been paying close attention assign blame to Christiansen and his fellow councilors for the disputes between the nine of them and Bartlett Jr. The reality is that the councilors did their best to work with Bartlett Jr in the beginning. They continued to work well with each other, despite their disparate backgrounds, interests, and political philosophies. Christiansen and his fellow councilors sought to fund essential services without increasing fees or taxes and without laying off police. Bartlett Jr wouldn't cooperate; it was as if he wanted an excuse to fight with the TPD and to fight with the council.

It amazes me how many of my fellow conservatives believe the Bartlett Jr line on his inability to get along with the City Council. If you don't believe the Tulsa Whirled editorial board when they tell you that abortion rights are good, that Planned Parenthood deserves public funding, and that our taxes aren't high enough, why should you believe them when they say that the City Council is a bunch of bickering buffoons? If nine very different people get along well with one another, and all of them have trouble getting along with one other person, who do you think is causing the problem?

He's not the perfect candidate by any means, but Bill Christiansen is by far the candidate for mayor who offers the best hope for Tulsa's future.

It was disheartening to read that someone I backed for City Council has bought Kathy Taylor's self-serving spin on the Great Plains Airlines bailout. The airport was never at risk. The collateral for the Great Plains Airlines loan was a small piece of the apron on the Air Force Plant No. 3 property (now used to manufacture buses and aircraft components). When the Great Plains deal was made, the citizens of Tulsa were told that the City was not at risk. Kathy Taylor chose to cough up our money -- an illegal payment, the State Supreme Court said -- rather than fight for us.

Kathy Taylor seems to be quite comfortable with obfuscation and deceptive spin. A recent example is her attempt to minimize her involvement with Michael Bloomberg's pro-gun-restriction coalition. In last week's forum, she made it sound as if she had only attended one meeting and that only as an observer. The reality: Kathy Taylor was one of the 15 charter members of Mayors Against Illegal Guns (MAIG), organized at NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg's Gracie Mansion in April 2006. Kathy Taylor signed the statement of principles, which included a promise to recruit other mayors to the cause. In October 2006, she attended a second summit in Chicago, posing with other mayors at a press conference, and in January 2007, she joined her MAIG colleagues in Washington to lobby against the Tiahrt Amendment, trying to remove an important protection for lawful gun owners.

Of course, the supreme example of Kathy Taylor's lawyerly and deceptive parsing of words happened early in her first campaign for mayor. It's the source for the Kathy Taylor photo and phrase that you've seen often on BatesLine during this campaign.

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The picture and the phrase came from this news report from 2006. KJRH reporter Glenn McEntyre asked Kathy Taylor with official Broward County records showing that she had voted by absentee ballot in Florida in the November 7, 2000, election and official Tulsa County records showing that she voted in person at the polls in Tulsa the same day.

Taylor's attempt to deflect, her Clintonesque parsing of words, her defensiveness, all communicated to me that she was guilty and she knew it. Only after her campaign had had time to confirm that the direct physical evidence of her in-person vote no longer existed -- the voter books you sign at the polls are routinely destroyed after two years -- did she appear at a press conference to say, still rather equivocally, "I can tell you unequivocally that I never would have intentionally voted twice in two states."

Show this video to a grade-school child, and then ask the kid: Is she telling the truth, or is she lying?

MariaBarnes.jpgAfter Wednesday night's mayoral meet-and-greet at Harwelden, I spoke with former District 4 City Councilor Maria Barnes about the race. Like her colleague John Eagleton, Barnes served in city government with all three of the major candidates -- four years with Bill Christiansen on the City Council, two of those years (2006-2008) when Kathy Taylor was mayor and two (2009-2011) when Dewey Bartlett Jr was mayor.

I've known Maria for many years, going back to our involvement in the Midtown Coalition of Neighborhood Associations. Although we disagree on many national political issues, Maria and I share many concerns about the way Tulsa's City Hall treats its citizens and cares for its neighborhoods. I appreciate her frankness, and I was happy to hear her thoughts on the race and to pass them along to BatesLine readers.

Taylor "receptive, inclusive"

Barnes said that Taylor was always very receptive to her. Taylor put her on the steering committee for the new comprehensive plan "from day one," allowing Barnes to apply her years working on behalf of Tulsa's neighborhoods to the selection of the planning team and the ground rules for the process. Working with Taylor, Barnes "always felt included." Taylor "would call me at 11 o'clock at night and say she just got a call from the chief, there was a shooting in my district, just thought I'd want to know. I appreciated that."

Under Taylor, a small, rotating group of four councilors (less than a quorum) would hold a weekly meeting with the Mayor at 4 pm on Thursdays. Barnes said that Taylor would have an aide taking notes as councilors relayed concerns about issues in their districts and would follow through with answers. Taylor made sure the disparity study (dealing with minority-owned businesses and city contracting) requested by the Human Rights Commission was funded. Barnes noted that when she left (she was defeated for re-election in 2008), she heard that the relationship changed, but during the two years Taylor was there, "it was fun. I felt like we were getting things done."

Christiansen "always respectful, in tune with the issues"

Although Barnes and Christiansen are of different parties, Barnes said that it never mattered to their working relationship. "Bill was always respectful to me. He worked with me." She noticed in particular that during their last two years together on the Council, that he was "in tune with the issues," was quick to grasp the implications of a proposal, and to help his colleagues understand what was at stake.

They disagreed on many issues, including how the city should respond to HB 1804, the state law dealing with illegal immigration -- Barnes opposed it -- but despite their differences Barnes said that she and Christiansen remained on good terms. "Bill was always understanding; he was always great to work with."

Bartlett Jr: Dismissive from the start

Barnes's transition to the last of the three candidates was abrupt: "My two years with Dewey? How many times did we get sued, Michael?" she asked rhetorically.

Going from Taylor to Bartlett Jr was "like night and day."

Barnes pointed out that when Bartlett Jr came into office, the city's budget was already balanced (as indeed it must be, as required by state law), although they "needed to cut back some" to deal with declining revenues.

"Some of the ideas that we [councilors] had, John Eagleton had, Rick Westcott had, were good ideas but he [Bartlett Jr] didn't want to hear it." He was dismissive of the councilors
from the minute his administration started, Barnes said.

At Bartlett Jr's first meeting with the council his swearing-in, Barnes said that Bartlett Jr talked about getting rid of the police department. Barnes said that she, Bill Christiansen, Rick Westcott, and Chris Trail were in the meeting with Bartlett Jr, his chief of staff Terry Simonson and others, and Bartlett Jr told them that he "had already talked to [Tulsa County Sheriff] Stanley Glanz and asked him for a proposal for what it was going to cost for him and the city to work together" because of his intention to lay off police officers. Barnes objected, preferring the continuity of the Tulsa Police officers who were already working in her district to deputy sheriffs who wouldn't know the area.

Barnes said that police officers came to her, telling her that they were finding savings and money that could prevent police layoffs, but the Bartlett Jr administration wouldn't listen.

Barnes also said that Bartlett Jr told them, at another meeting, that he had talked to then-Congressman John Sullivan about routing the federal Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) funds to the county. Bartlett Jr always seemed to want county officials to be in charge over city government, she said.

During her overlap with Bartlett Jr, Barnes served one year as council vice chairman and one year as chairman. Often, she said, she would receive a phone call on Thursday afternoon: "'Madame Chairman, I was just told by staff' -- the flunky he sent down -- 'that if you move forward with this agenda item tonight there's a possibility you could be sued.'"

Leading up to Bartlett Jr's layoff of 124 police officers, Barnes and Trail suggested giving Tulsans a means for donating to cover the public safety funding gap. "They put a card in your water bill to get you to donate for fireworks, why not for public safety?" For their suggestion, they were ridiculed. Bartlett Jr's solution, Barnes said, was to raise fees, rather than finding a way to fund public safety within existing revenues.

Barnes countered the commonplace canard that the 2009-2011 council was always bickering. She pointed to the diversity on the council -- Republicans and Democrats -- "working together hand-in-hand, supporting each other, standing by each other. Even though there were issues we didn't agree on, we were civil. We understood." The problem was with Bartlett Jr. He withdrew from communicating with the council, stopped the 4 pm meetings, and always seemed to be picking a fight, according to Barnes.

"There are a lot of good things happening in Tulsa now, but it's not because of this mayor. It's not because Dewey gave these businesses his stamp of approval."

"We have got to do things differently. I'm not saying Kathy's bad or Bill's bad. We just can't do Dewey again."

The first thing to say about any poll in the Tulsa mayor's race is that it doesn't matter. It shouldn't affect how you think about your own vote. Because there is a runoff in November, you can vote for your favorite of the top three candidates without worrying that you'll inadvertently help your least-favorite candidate win. Read my earlier entry on the Tulsa non-partisan election and runoff process for an in-depth understanding of why this is.

SoonerPoll.com, the firm whose pre-Vision2 poll incorrectly showed both propositions winning, has published a poll showing Kathy Taylor and Dewey Bartlett in a near tie and Bill Christiansen trailing in advance of Tuesday's mayor of Tulsa primary. The "top-line" weighted numbers from SoonerPoll.com have Taylor at 36.4%, Bartlett at 34.6%, Christiansen at 20.1%, Branch at 0.1%, Kirkpatrick at 0.0%, and 8.7% don't know/refused. The percentages add up to 99.9%, but the raw numbers for their sample of 400 add up to 401.

Meanwhile, the Bill Christiansen campaign has posted the results of their internal poll, which shows Taylor at 34%, Christiansen at 31%, Bartlett at 24%, and 11% undecided. The sample size was 468, and a voter was called only if they are high-propensity voters (4 or 5 times out of the last five elections).

Back before the Vision2 vote, I published a critique of SoonerPoll.com's methodology, particularly the age of the poll, their use of random-digit dialing and their weighting of subsamples.

As with Vision2, some of the SoonerPoll.com sample is over a week old and predates several debates and forums. They are weighting even more subsamples in this poll than they did for Vision2.

This poll has additional problems. (To their credit, SoonerPoll.com has published the questions they asked.)

First, note how they screen for likely voters. They simply ask:

On June 11, Tulsa residents will vote in a nonpartisan primary election for Tulsa mayor. Do you plan to vote in this election?

Is the person on the other end of the phone even registered to vote? Does he know where to vote? Was she even aware that there was an election before she picked up the phone? Younger voters tend to overestimate their likelihood of voting; older voters tend to underestimate. I suspect that their sample weighting by age is intended to correct for that.

The second problem: In the "ballot test" question, they don't simply read the names as they will appear on the ballot. They add a description for each candidate.

If the election were held today and you were standing in the voting booth right now and had to make a choice, for whom would you vote? [READ & ROTATE] 1. Dewey Bartlett, Jr., the current mayor 2. Jerry Branch, a pipefitter/welder 3. Bill Christiansen, former city councilor 4. Lawrence Kirkpatrick, a church volunteer 5. Kathy Taylor, the former mayor 6. DK/Refused [DNR] [SKIP Q5]

In the voting booth, it's going to be up to the voter to remember which candidate is which. Here's 2013 City of Tulsa sample ballot. Just names, no party affiliation, no description. I think voters would be well-served if candidates could add a few words of description or abbreviations for endorsing organizations, but right now that's not allowed.

(Oddly, the ballot header says "INDEPENDENT MUNICIPAL OFFICERS." Independent of whom? Shouldn't it simply say NON-PARTISAN, as it does for judicial and school offices?)

The methodology summary says, "Results were weighted by gender, age and party." The poll has six different age brackets, two sexes (sex is a biological term, gender is a grammatical term), and three party affiliations. That implies 6 x 2 x 3 = 36 subsamples. The best case is that each subsample would have 11 respondents, each with a margin of error of 29.55%.

And this is puzzling: They say the results were weighted, and yet magically every number or responses is a whole number. If you're weighting a result, you're multiplying the actual number of responses, which would be a whole number, by some weighting factor, which probably won't be, you're more likely than not to get a fractional number. My suspicion is that the percentages accurately represent (to one decimal place) the weighted result, which was then multiplied by 400 and rounded to get the weighted number of responses. On several questions, the number of responses adds up to 401, due no doubt to cumulative rounding errors.

Let me repeat what I said in reaction to SoonerPoll.com's Vision2 poll:

It may be that all these flaws cancel each other out, and I don't mean to cast blame on SoonerPoll.com, which is no doubt doing its best to gauge public sentiment in an increasingly difficult environment. We'll find out on Tuesday.

Why does it matter? Poll results can be used to create a bandwagon effect, particularly when an issue isn't strongly partisan. Without any strong sense of what to do, some voters will go along with whichever side they see in the majority.

The antidote to a poll-driven bandwagon is to create your own bandwagon -- put signs in your yard, post to Facebook and Twitter, email and phone your friends, and let them know which candidates you're supporting.

Realtor Darryl Baskin has interviewed all four Republican candidates for Tulsa County Commissioner District 3, and you can see the interviews on his TulsaLiveEvents.com LiveStream channel.

Baskin asked insightful questions of each of the candidates and elicited thoughtful responses. I was particularly impressed with the answers from John Wright, which you can see below. He understands some of the details of county government that may not make for exciting radio commercials but make the difference between honest, open government that serves the public interest and cozy insider dealing that favors special interests.

Some highlights:

On revenue bond funding for capital improvements (starting at 10:30): Wright points out that pay-as-you-go, spending the tax revenue only as it comes in, as Oklahoma City did for MAPS, allows all revenues to go toward projects, while Tulsa County's approach of borrowing against future tax revenues diverts funds from projects to pay interest. If Tulsa County issues bonds in the future, Wright says that when the county issues revenue bonds there should be a request for proposals and competitive bidding for the sake of transparency, to avoid any appearance that someone has a special deal for the placement of the bonds.

On county government reform (starting at 12:30): Wright argues for a separate First Deputy for each County Commissioner, in order to comply with the spirit as well as the letter of the Open Meetings Act. Because there are only three commissioners, any two comprise a quorum, and they cannot legally discuss county business except in properly called public meeting. At the moment, two commissioners share a deputy. Wright says that makes it possible for a majority of the commission to "have a meeting of the minds" and come to agreement on an issue outside of an open meeting. "The Open Meeting law is designed to ensure that public business is conducted in a public forum."

Wright also says there should be more transparency with regards to successful bids on county contracts. Right now, you have to go to the County Courthouse in person to get the information, which you should be able to get over the internet.

Another of Wright's reform aims is to have separate votes on distinct issues, rather than grouping large numbers of issues together and passing them with a single vote. Separate votes provide accountability -- you can find out how your commissioner voted on each issue.

In his final comments (starting about 16:30), Wright mentioned that Tulsa County is in the top third of the country in ad valorem (property) tax burden and has the highest ad valorem burden in Oklahoma. Ad valorem doesn't only affect real estate -- businesses pay ad valorem tax on their equipment. He noted that the County Commissioners can put issues on the ballot to allow voters to change the level of tax for entities with fixed millages, possibly reducing the tax burden.

MORE: This map illustrates where the two ongoing current county commissioners live (red district numbers 1 and 2) and where the four Republican candidates for District 3 live (green first and last initials). If either Ron Peters or Brandon Perkins wins, all three County Commissioners will reside in the City of Tulsa; no other municipalities will be represented. If Ron Peters is elected, all three county commissioners will live within a three-mile radius of Utica Square. If Brandon Perkins is elected, all three county commissioners will live within a four-mile radius of Brookside. Click the picture to see a larger version of the map.

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Which_Way_Tulsa_Sign.PNGThere's a good deal of confusion about the City of Tulsa election process. Tulsans have amended the election dates and terms of office about a dozen times in the last seven years. In just a few years we've gone from partisan elections in February and March of even-numbered years to September and November of odd-numbered years, to staggered council terms, to non-partisan elections in June and November of even-numbered years except for the mayor and city auditor, which are still in odd-numbered years.

At least for now: Starting next year, everyone will be elected in the fall of even-numbered years, as long as we don't have yet another charter amendment. (Here's a direct link to the Elections section of the Tulsa City Charter; you'll see all the superseded provisions in italics.)

There are two radically new features of the Tulsa election process. Everyone by now is aware that this is a non-partisan election, with all the candidates for Mayor of Tulsa and Tulsa City Auditor on the same ballot in Tuesday's primary, regardless of party affiliation -- even though we all know that Kathy Taylor is a Democrat and Bill Christiansen and Dewey Bartlett Jr are Republicans, their party affiliations won't be listed on the ballot.

Now this isn't entirely unfamiliar. We've had special elections in which candidates of all parties competed on the same ballot -- the 1992 special election to replace Mayor Rodger Randle, the 2005 special election to replace City Councilor Sam Roop are two examples. What we didn't have was a runoff, and a candidate could win with a tiny plurality as Bill Martinson did in 2005 with only 27% of the vote. In the UK they call that system "first-past-the-post."

In previous election years, we had a partisan primary in normal elections, with the top vote-getter in each party advancing to the general election, regardless of the percentage of the winner. That's how Bill LaFortune won renomination in 2006 -- he fell short of 50%, but the rest of the votes were split among three candidates, and there was no runoff. If there happened to be a strong independent candidate, you also could have a general election winner with a minority of the votes cast.

Which leads us to the other new feature: A runoff, possibly two runoffs. Here are the possible scenarios after all the votes are counted this coming Tuesday, June 11, 2013:

A. One candidate has more votes than all the other candidates combined (i.e., a majority, 50%+1 vote): That candidate has been elected, and we're done. It looks like Kathy Taylor is spending a lot of money to try to make this happen, which is why you see her ads on nearl every website. (I found I saw far fewer of them after I told Google Maps that my location was the bus station in Timbuktu.)

B. No candidate has a majority, but the top two candidates combined have a majority, i.e. more votes than all the other candidates combined. If this happens, the top two candidates will face off in a runoff. This year that will be on the second Tuesday in November. This is the likeliest scenario when there are three candidates running strong campaigns, as we have this year.

C. No candidate has a majority, and the top two candidates together don't have a majority. In this case, add candidates in order of finish until their combined total is a majority. This group of candidates -- the minimum number of candidates whose total vote is a majority -- would compete in a runoff primary in August. At the runoff primary, there are two possible outcomes -- one candidate gets a majority and is elected, or no candidate gets a majority and the top two are on the ballot in November. This scenario would be likelier to happen if there were four or more evenly-matched candidates.

The bottom line for the 2013 Tulsa elections: Because of the runoff system, you can vote for your favorite candidate in Tuesday's primary without worrying that you'll "split the vote" and accidentally help your least favorite candidate win.

There are qualifications that could be added to that statement, but it's certainly true provided that your favorite mayoral candidate this year is one of the three running a competitive race. (If your favorite is one of the two also-rans, it's possible that your second-favorite candidate would be eliminated in the first round and your choice in the finals will be between two candidates you can't stand.)

If your only concern is to keep a candidate from winning outright on Tuesday, all you need to do is show up and vote for any other candidate. A vote for anyone else is a vote to deny a majority to the candidate you detest.

In the auditor's race, there are only three candidates this year, so the above statement is true without qualification.

Please note that this bottom line doesn't apply to the special County Commission race to fill an unexpired term, which has a first-past-the-post Republican primary on Tuesday and a special general election in August and no runoff. While city elections are governed by the city charter and ordinances, county elections are governed by state statutes.

This isn't instant runoff voting, but the new city system does reduce the likelihood of someone despised by a majority of voters could win election.

Graphic above repurposed from the cover of a PLANiTULSA survey.

CLARIFICATION: The current city auditor won a term subsequent to his appointment; he did not draw an opponent after filing for a full term in 2011. My opinion that he is not sufficiently independent of the mayor who appointed him stands.

A scenario for your consideration:

A politician, fighting a tough re-election campaign, mails out a survey at taxpayers' expense a few weeks before his name is on the ballot. The cover letter, from the politician, touts the politician's accomplishments in office. Even though the mailer doesn't explicitly call for the politician's re-election, it certainly seems timed for that purpose. At the least, it's an example of the advantages of incumbency, the incumbent's ability to use his power to direct city spending in ways that boost his re-election chances. At worst, it's an unethical abuse of the incumbent's power: Some nominal public benefit used to justify the misuse of the incumbent's power for his personal political benefit. Surely there's sufficient cause for a citizen to complain to ethics authorities, even if the politician ultimately is let off the hook.

A whistleblower steps forward and files a complaint. Rather than take the complaint seriously, the investigator dismisses the complaint and then turns his microscope on the whistleblower. The whistleblower is accused of abusing public funds for a political purpose.

Such a topsy-turvy scenario belongs to a Lewis Carroll story. Attacking the whistleblower is the sort of thing a corrupt president might do to punish his political enemies.

Dewey Bartlett JuniorIt's happening right here in Tulsa: Mayor Dewey Bartlett Jr's appointed City Auditor, Clift Richards, has used Steven Roemerman's complaint about the pro-Bartlett-Jr tilt of a city-funded survey as a basis for investigating and denouncing the citizen who complained.

When an ethics complaint is lodged against the Mayor, the City Auditor is responsible to investigate. Ordinarily, the City Auditor handles such complaints from a position of independence, but the current City Auditor is not independently elected but was appointed by Bartlett Jr to fill an unexpired term.

Here is the auditor's report on the ethics charge against Dewey Bartlett Jr.

I thought it was odd when I heard from Roemerman that he had been called in for questioning about his complaint. Unless the complainant has some personal knowledge needed to establish the facts of the case, there's no reason to interrogate him. And in this case, the facts -- the existence of the survey, the letter, and its wording -- were all well-established. In light of Auditor Richards's report, it appears that the reason for interrogating Roemerman was not to get to the bottom of the Mayor's conduct but to question the whistleblower's motives and to accuse him of unethical behavior.

Steven+Roemerman-240px.jpgHow, you may ask, can an ordinary citizen be accused of violating the city's ethics ordinance? Roemerman is a member of the city's Sales Tax Overview Committee, so he is a subject of the ordinance. Even so, it's a ridiculous charge. Roemerman didn't mention his position on STOC in his complaint. His position gave him no special standing in filing a complaint. He has no power to direct the expenditure of public funds. He simply exercised the same opportunity that any citizen has to file a complaint. Roemerman told the Tulsa World that he even paid for his own parking when he went to City Hall to file the complaint even though, as a STOC member, he can park at City Hall for free.

On the other hand, Bartlett Jr certainly did have the final say on the survey cover letter that went out to 1,800 Tulsa homes. He may have even been the one that authorized the survey, using money under his discretionary control as mayor.

There's a very odd statement in Bartlett Jr's response to Roemerman's complaint:

To the extent the ETC's preparation of the Community Survey was delayed, it is certainly never been claimed or suggested that I had any responsibility for the timing of the survey's release.

Why not simply say, "I had no responsibility for the timing of the survey's release," unless you can't say it because it's not true?

Even if Bartlett Jr didn't control the timing of the release of the survey, he surely knew when it was going out, and to my mind, it looks like he decided to piggyback a pro-re-election message onto the survey:

When I was first elected in 2009, one of my top priorities as Mayor was to reach out across Tulsa with the first citizen's survey in order to help guide policies for all Tulsans. With the data from that survey and the KPMG recommendations my administration worked with the community to build public policy based on efficiency and citizens input.

There's a lot of Obama-style first-person horn-blowing in that paragraph. It also reflects Bartlett Jr's narcissistic tendency, on display in his infamous Reason interview, to act as if he and his minions are the sum total of city government -- city workers and city councilors don't matter.

And this was not the first survey of Tulsa citizens. As one example, an in-depth citizens' survey was conducted in the first stage of the development of PLANiTULSA.

Likewise, the last sentence: "Thank you for allowing me to serve as your Mayor...." Dewey, it's not all about you.

There has been a pattern, during Bartlett Jr's administration: Dewey's detractors find themselves the target of lawsuits or targeted in some other way. Targeting a citizen for submitting a valid concern looks like more of the same.

WhatMeDewey.jpgOne of Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett Jr's principal attacks against his rival, former City Councilor Bill Christiansen, is that Christiansen agreed to then-Mayor Kathy Taylor's plan to borrow $67 million in revenue bonds to buy the One Technology Center building to serve as a new City Hall, with the bonds to be repaid by the sale of the old City Hall and other buildings and by rent from tenants in the new building.

Bartlett Jr has numerous radio ads attacking Christiansen on this point and a mailer with a picture of Christiansen looking like a vampire and the text, "He [Christiansen] put taxpayers $67-million in debt to move City Hall into new office space.... Paying off the debt created by Christiansen will leave Tulsans strugging for operating cash for many years. The lavish spending cost Tulsa critical dollars for needs like police and fire protection."

But three years ago, Bartlett Jr was praising and defending the purchase of One Technology Center.

In January 2010, video of my 2007 speech to the city council opposing the One Technology Center deal went somewhat viral, circulating by email and on social media. At the time, there was a battle over falling revenues and budget cuts, with Bartlett Jr's administration talking about a layoff over 100 police officers. (On January 22, 2010, Bartlett Jr laid off 124 police officers.)

What grabbed people's attention about the video, I think, was how close my calculation of the extra annual operating expenses had been to the actual City Hall overrun that had been announced in August 2009. The video was used to make the point: City officials were told that the deal would cost more money, they plunged ahead anyway, and now they were paying for their shiny new toy by laying off cops and making Tulsans more vulnerable to crime.

Emily Sinovic, then a reporter for Fox 23, called to ask for my comment on the ongoing interest in the speech. She also contacted the office of Mayor Bartlett Jr. Here's a link to the January 15, 2010, Fox 23 story about the cost of operating Tulsa's new City Hall

Dewey Bartlett Jr could have taken the opportunity to denounce the City Hall purchase as a bad deal and to cast some blame at Kathy Taylor and several city councilors for adding to the city's budget woes by supporting it.

But Dewey didn't do that. Instead the Bartlett Jr's spokesperson defended the City Hall purchase using arguments similar to those Taylor used three years earlier in support of the One Technology Center deal. According to the Fox 23 story, "A spokesperson in the Mayor Bartlett's office issued an emailed statement in response to the youtube video."

Here's the statement from Bartlett Jr's office to Fox 23.

No additional taxes on citizens were required to purchase OTC. The purchase of the building was financed through the sale of $67 million in tax-exempt revenue bonds to fund the purchase, moving and modification costs. To protect Tulsa taxpayers from risk, the City negotiated a 10-year lease with Bank of Oklahoma, which guarantees $28.7 million in rent revenue over 10 years. The guarantee covers leases with Level 3 Communications and Deloitte-Touche, which continues to lease space. The leasing of vacant office space has been impacted by a downturn in the economy and less demand for Class A office space, but we are aggressively marketing and have recently shown office space to potential tenants.

By vacating the five other City buildings (old City Hall, 707 S. Houston, TFD Headquarters, Francis Campbell Council Room, Hartford Building) that were consolidated into One Technology Center, the City avoided millions of dollars in maintenance costs and capital expenditures required for those buildings.

There also are many other benefits to having the consolidated office space: improved efficiencies, reduced travel between remote sites and better energy-efficiency with lighting, healing and cooling than the former City Hall and other buildings. City offices occupy 30 percent less total space than before.

The City of Tulsa purchased the building, along with the garage and furnishings and fixtures and technological features, for $52.25 million, or about 23 percent of the building's original cost to build.

It's true: The new City Hall has been a drag on city finances. Kathy Taylor was wrong to push for it, and Bill Christiansen was wrong to vote for it. But Dewey Bartlett Jr was wrong not to stand up and object at the time of the vote and wrong to defend the idea three years later. Bartlett Jr's ads denouncing Christiansen on this issue are hypocritical, cynical politics.

MORE: Here's what I said to the City Council about the proposed purchase of One Technology Center:

UPDATE 2013/06/08: As I've examined news releases and articles from the initial Mayors Against Illegal Guns summit, the picture is emerging that Kathy Taylor was even farther from being a mere passive attendee in Michael Bloomberg's group than I thought. I've added some links and photos below. Taylor was part of a small core group of 15 mayors -- 13 of them Democrats -- who signed on to a common statement of principles, which included the pledge to recruit other mayors to join. I think it's fair to say that Kathy Taylor was a charter member of Michael Bloomberg's anti-gun-rights coalition.

Taylor's backtracking is reminiscent of her sudden disappearance from the advisory board of Tulsans for Better Government, the group that came into existence to push for at-large seats on the city council.

Kathy_Taylor-That.Is.Crazy.pngKathy Taylor's active involvement as Tulsa mayor in New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's group Mayors Against Illegal Guns was a topic in last night's KRMG/Fox23 Tulsa mayoral forum. During the rebuttal opportunity at the end of the forum, Taylor says she attended one conference with many other mayors and didn't inhale. (I may have made up those last three words.)

The record shows that Kathy Taylor attended the organizational meeting of Mayors Against Illegal Guns at New York City's Gracie Mansion on April 25, 2006 -- she was one of only 15 mayors present. (Here's a link to the Tulsa World's story on Taylor's presence at the National Summit on Illegal Guns, where she said she received "confirmation that we are on the right track." And here's a link to the official webpage for the April 2006 launch of Mayors Against Illegal Guns.)

Kathy_Taylor-Mayors_Against_Illegal_Guns.jpg

Tulsa mayor Kathy Taylor at the National Summit on Illegal Guns, with Mayors Frank Melton of Jackson, MS, Philip Amicone of Yonkers, NY, and Douglas Palmer of Trenton, NJ. Image from Mayors Against Illegal Guns website. Hat tip to Matthew Vermillion (@mvermi on Twitter).

Kathy Taylor signed a six-point statement of principles which included a call to keep "lethal, military-style weapons and high capacity ammunition magazines off our streets." Of course, most guns are designed to be lethal (excluding starters' pistols, cap guns, and the like), and Taylor signed on to language epitomizing the left-wing swoon over "assault weapons," where scary appearance matters more than any distinction in performance.

Kathy Taylor was with the group again six months later in Chicago on October 25, 2006, at a midwestern summit of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, appearing at a press conference with Bloomberg and other mayors at Chicago Police headquarters. Then on January 24, 2007, Kathy Taylor was in Washington with other members of Mayors Against Illegal Guns urging the repeal of the Tiahrt Amendment, a provision of Federal law that protects the privacy of lawful gun owners.

Mayor Kathy Taylor on Wednesday urged an end to federal restrictions on information that could help local police crack down on crimes committed with illegal guns....

In Washington to attend the winter meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, Taylor joined other members of a coalition known as Mayors Against Illegal Guns to bring attention to the illegal gun trade and seek help from the federal government.

The coalition specifically targeted legislation by Rep. Todd Tiahrt, R-Kan., that it believes keeps the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and other agencies from sharing trace data that could help local police combat illegal guns.

Seems like she inhaled pretty deeply.

Here are snapshots from the web capturing Kathy Taylor's involvement in the Mayors Against Illegal Guns over time:

Kathy Taylor's name and title as Mayor of Tulsa appear on this Mayors Against Illegal Guns ad calling for the repeal the Tiahrt Amendment, dated June 1, 2007.

Kathy Taylor's name and title as Mayor of Tulsa appear on this Mayors Against Illegal Guns letter to Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid dated July 1, 2009. The letter is titled "Re: 400 Mayors Call on Congress to Support H.R.2324/S.843 and Close the Gun Show Loophole"

News9 report identifies Tulsa Mayor Kathy Taylor as a member of Mayors Against Illegal Guns in a January 2, 2009, story about the group's report, "The Movement of Illegal Guns in America: The Link between Gun Laws and Interstate Trafficking."

This capture of the Mayors Against Illegal Guns Wikipedia page from September 23, 2009, says that Oklahoma is unrepresented, that Taylor is leaving the mayor's office, and it notes that as of September 2009, her name is no longer on the coalition's roster. Taylor is not listed among mayors who resigned because they were misled about the purposes of the coalition.

Taylor's name, title, and photo appear on the MAIG website as late as November 17, 2007. It was not on the December 18, 2007, capture of the file. Kathy Taylor's name and city appear on the MAIG map as late as July 23, 2009.

This NRA-ILA fact sheet says that Tulsa Mayor Kathy Taylor was a member of Mayor's Against Illegal Guns as of August 20, 2009. Another NRA-ILA fact sheet explains what MAIG is all about.

This NRA-ILA report says that as of November 17, 2009, Taylor had resigned from MAIG. That was also about the time of the election to replace her, so it's not clear if the resignation was a parting of the ways with the organization or just the result of her leaving office.

RELATED: Bartlett Jr said that he had the unqualified endorsement of the NRA. In his 2009 mayoral race, Bartlett Jr received a "?" rating from the NRA Political Victory Fund for his failure to complete the questionnaire. (Rivals Chris Medlock and Tom Adelson both received "A"s.) On his LinkedIn profile Daniel Patten, Bartlett Jr's campaign manager, says that he served as a campaign field representative for the NRA-ILA from April 2012 to November 2012. Whether a budding young campaign manager might call in a favor from friends at his old job in an attempt to rescue his first candidate campaign from an early demise... I leave that as an exercise for the reader.

There are four candidates in Tuesday's Republican primary for Tulsa County Commission District 3, to fill the unexpired term of Fred Perry, who is resigning with a year and a half to go.

This is the ideal situation for Instant Runoff Voting (ranking your candidates in order of preference), but in this case, because of a quirk in state law, we don't even have a regular two-man runoff primary. (You may recall that Perry was first elected in 2006 thanks to a runoff, in which he defeated Bill Christiansen.) This race is first-past-the-post, and the candidate with the most votes wins the nomination, even if his total is far less than a majority.

Ordinarily, in this kind of election scenario I would be encouraging you to vote tactically, to consider not simply which candidate is your top choice, but which acceptable candidate is in a position to finish first.

But this time, even if I wanted to recommend a tactical vote, I couldn't. My crystal ball is too murky. There are no poll numbers to consult. The biggest spender in the race may be so far ahead that it doesn't matter. Then again, there may be several candidates neck-and-neck to finish first. So let's just vote for the right choice.

I urge District 3 Republicans to vote for former State Rep. John Wright, the best qualified candidate in the race, the candidate who best understands how county government works, the candidate with the core principles and the tenacity to protect taxpayer interests against the predations of special interests.

John_Wright_yard_sign.jpg

During his 12-year service in the legislature, Wright was a consistent vote for conservative policies across the board. His voting record earned him a lifetime score of 91% on the Oklahoma Constitution Conservative Index. He was a leader in the House, serving as chairman of the Republican caucus and chairman of the House Administrative Rules and Agency Oversight Committee. Wright has been endorsed by many of his former legislative colleagues, including State Sen. Gary Stanislawski, who says that John Wright "is a man of integrity who researches the facts to make informed decisions."

Since leaving the House, Wright, a Realtor, has served in the Tulsa County Assessor's office. In that capacity, he has attended dozens of County Commission and county board meetings, adding direct knowledge of county operations to his work on county government reform at the State Capitol.

This past Tuesday evening, I attended the League of Women Voters forum and heard from all five County Commission candidates. It confirmed my opinion that Wright is the only candidate thoroughly prepared to serve. He was able to answer every question knowledgeably, with specifics, without hedging.

Regarding the county budget, Wright says that all county revenues, whether from property tax, sales tax, grants, or previous year surpluses, should be budgeted up-front, not just accounted for after the money has already been spent, and he pointed to an Attorney General opinion backing up that view of state law. Sadly, this common-sense view is not the majority view at the Tulsa County Courthouse.

John Wright is soft-spoken, but you should never mistake his soft-spokenness for a lack of spine.

In 2003, Wright was the lone vote in either chamber against HB 1676, which would have removed requirements for counties to follow generally accepted accounting principle (GAAP). Wright's courage to stand alone against the bill caught then-Gov. Henry's attention, and Wright was able to persuade Gov. Henry to veto it.

When asked about what should happen when the Vision 2025 tax expires, Wright said that a lower tax rate generates a higher level of economic activity and results in a higher, more secure revenue stream. Higher sales taxes encourage consumers to defer purchases or divert them elsewhere.

Wright believes that the county's role in economic development is to focus on basic public safety and infrastructure. "The core of economic development is public safety." Funneling tax dollars to private companies (as Vision2 would have done) leads to elections that go to the highest bidder, the sort of thing that happens in Third World dictatorships.

Wright wants to see the county excise board do its job of scrutinizing the budgets submitted to it rather than acting as a rubber stamp. He worked with the legislature to require county board of equalization members (who also serve as the excise board) to take training in their powers and responsibilities under state law.

Ron Peters, another former State Rep., made sure we all knew he was the Tulsa Regional Chamber's endorsed candidate in the race. Peters wants another "Vision"-type tax, controlled by the county, although he wants to take some time to put the next package together and try to get everyone on board. Early in the campaign, I detailed Ron Peters's decidedly un-conservative legislative record on gambling and local control of zoning and his worrisome roster of supporters, led by Bob Dick, former Tulsa County Commissioner.

Brandon Perkins lost me with his answer to a question about the structure of a tax vote to replace Vision 2025 when it expires: "Let the voters decide." That's a cop-out. The voters can only vote yes or no on whatever plan the commissioners send their way. It's up to the commissioners to filter proposals and only let solid ideas go to the voters. Perkins's radio ads suggest that he wants an expansive role for county government, hinting at massive public infrastructure projects and a "legacy." What we need, rather, is a modest county government focused on meeting its statutory responsibilities.

Don Crall was the most confident speaker of the candidates at the LWV forum and was the first to step out from behind the podium. Crall teaches business classes at Southern Nazarene University. On a replacement for the Vision 2025 sales tax, he made a good point -- the cities may claim it before the county gets around to renewing it. Crall is the only candidate who lives in Tulsa County's ever shrinking unincorporated territory and so understands the special role county government plays in roads and law enforcement where city jurisdiction doesn't apply. If Wright weren't in the race, Crall would be my pick.

At the same time, however, there are some worrisome things about Crall. In his interview with Tulsa Beacon publisher Charlie Biggs, Crall characterized the County Commissioner's job as his ideal role in government because it's an administrative post, not legislative, which Crall doesn't find appealing. In fact, there is a strong legislative and policy-making aspect to the county commission, shaping policy with the other two commissioners, picking loan recipients as a member of the Tulsa County Industrial Authority, setting policy for Expo Square as a member of the fair board, and serving with the other elected officials on the budget board. You're making policy choices, not simply administering someone else's policy choices.

While Crall talks a good game on taxes and limited government, it bothers me that he didn't stick his neck out in public opposition to the disastrous Vision2 tax plan. Did he pull his punches on the issue because of his desire to run for County Commissioner? And the current Tulsa County Commission appointed Crall to the Vision 2025 Sales Tax Overview Committee, which he serves as chairman. Does that mean that they believed Crall was tame enough not to stir up any trouble or ask any probing questions? (UPDATE 2013/06/11: Crall reached out with an gracious email on June 7, which has set my mind at ease somewhat on these questions. Unfortunately, it got caught by the spam trapper and I am only now (midday on Election Day) seeing it.)

There's the distinct possibility that the same voters who defeated Vision2 (Prop. 1: 45.9% to 54.1%; Prop. 2: 47.7% to 52.3%) will split their votes so many ways that they'll guarantee the election of a commissioner like Peters who will actively push for Vision2.1. Ronda Vuillemont-Smith, who led the successful campaign to defeat Vision2, saw that danger and stepped aside just after the filing period, pulling her name off of the ballot in deference to John Wright. Given the lack of a runoff, it would have been lovely if Crall and Wright had agreed to make their case to a panel of conservative leaders and then unite behind the candidate that the group thought best suited to the job.

But it's too late for that and the candidates have too much invested to pull out now. So the best the voters can do is make the right choice and live with the results. And the right choice for Tulsa County Commissioner is John Wright.

auditor_lewis_yardsign.PNGOvershadowed by expensive campaigns for Tulsa mayor and county commissioner, the other race on next Tuesday's ballot is for the crucial office of Tulsa City Auditor.

The city auditor was envisioned by the drafters of Tulsa's 1989 city charter as a counter-balance to the power concentrated in the mayor's office. The auditor has full organizational independence to build a team of auditors and to pursue investigations into the operations and spending of city departments, authorities, boards, and commissions.

But all that power does no good if the auditor refuses to use it or can't manage his own team effectively. While good things can be said about each of three men who have served as auditor under the '89 charter, it can't be said that any of them made full use of the job's authority to save the taxpayers money. Phil Wood, who served for over 20 years, was a pioneer in putting city government information on the web, using his own personal website until the city's official web presence caught up. Wood assembled a well-regarded team of internal auditors. But Wood was reluctant to call public attention to his team's findings for fear of seeming too political.

Preston Doerflinger defeated Wood in 2009 with a promise to do better, and he was slated to head the effort to implement the KPMG efficiency study, but he only stuck around for two years before being called up to serve as State Finance Director.

The current auditor, Clift Richards, was appointed by Mayor Dewey Bartlett Jr in 2011 to fill Doerflinger's unexpired term. A Wednesday, June 5, 2013, story in the Tulsa World paints a statistical picture of poor performance under Clift Richards's leadership. The number of improvement recommendations produced by the auditor's office have plummeted from 43 in fiscal year 2008-2009, Wood's last full year in office, to 7 in FY 2011-2022. Under Richards, the office's budget is 25% higher than the average for offices of 6 to 10 auditors, and only 49% of the auditors time is spent on actual audits, compared to a national average of 72%.

Richards's analysis of his department's shortcomings doesn't exactly inspire confidence in his leadership:

He attributed productivity shortfalls mainly to high employee turnover, saying the office often serves as a stepping-stone for better-paying private auditing jobs. He said that forces the office to spend more time training workers while losing progress on audits being conducted by outgoing employees.

An effective city auditor has to be able to counter the lure of the private sector with a sense of mission and cameraderie. If salary is a stumbling block, he has to be willing to go to the City Council and argue for the budget to build and keep a good team together -- not as much money as the private sector, but enough to keep good people on board. Wood managed that much; Richards, by his own testimony, has not.

Meanwhile down the turnpike, State Auditor and Inspector Gary Jones and his team have cleared a massive backlog of required audits and have uncovered misdeeds and shoddy financial practices at every level of state, county, and municipal government. Jones is what Oklahoma has always needed in our State Auditor -- he's persistent, he's efficient, he takes the initiative to protect the taxpayers, and he's unafraid to step on toes, even if those toes belong to a member of the same party.

One of the Jones team's blockbuster audits uncovered extravagant and questionable spending at the Emergency Medical Services Authority (EMSA) which serves Tulsa, Oklahoma City, and a number of other municipalities. A leading member of the EMSA audit team is now seeking to bring that same spirit to the Tulsa City Auditor's office.

Josh Lewis, CPA, graduated summa cum laude in accounting from the College of the Ozarks, worked five years in private sector accounting, and for the last two years has worked as the most senior member of the State Auditor's Tulsa office. According to his campaign bio, Lewis has audited "county governments, federal grants, emergency medical services, and perform[ed] multiple investigative/fraud engagements."

Josh Lewis points out that he is the only candidate without close ties to a mayoral candidate. Clift Richards was appointed by Bartlett; Kathy Taylor appointed Cathy Criswell as Chief Risk Officer in the Mayor's Office and has given $1,000 to Criswell's campaign. We need a City Auditor who is not beholden to the mayor or anyone else whose work his team will be scrutinizing.

Tulsa taxpayers need an energetic, assertive team leader to protect our interests at City Hall. His record, his experience, and his vision for the role indicate that Josh Lewis is the best choice to be Tulsa's City Auditor.

MORE: The State Auditor's audit of EMSA and a News on 6 story about the EMSA audit. From the report:

During the period examined, Mr. Williamson was reimbursed for a number of expenditures that the general public would consider unwarranted and extravagant such as spa goods and services, an American Airlines Admirals' Club membership, and multiple lifetime subscriptions to Sirius Satellite Radio. However, these expenditures are merely indicative of more serious Board inadequacies that allow abusive expenditure patterns and negatively impact public confidence in EMSA's performance, such as a disregard for the organization's fiduciary responsibilities, deficient financial oversight, and insufficient performance assessments.

It is incumbent on the Board of Trustees to aptly govern EMSA. Policies in support of the Authority's mission must be implemented and consistently followed to ensure effective oversight and accountability. Without proper policies involving purchasing, expense reimbursement, and conflict-of-interest disclosure, the Board has unintentionally fostered a culture of acquiescence in which officers and employees are permitted to establish inappropriate patterns of expenditure behavior and fail to disclose potential conflicts of interest, unbeknownst to members of the Board.

Swan LK 243

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A little break from politics:

Sunday after church, we had a special treat waiting in the Fellowship Hall. The Edison High School chamber orchestra, preparing to leave for a tour of England the next day, performed their program for us, as a final dress rehearsal on this side of the pond. The program included a mix of old and new songs, many adapted from British folk tunes. One number, featuring Vintage Wildflowers harpist Dana Maher, caught my attention. (Dana is also music director at Christ Presbyterian Church, and mom to one of the Edison musicians.)

It's called "Swan LK 243," and it's by Scottish harpist Catriona McKay. It was inspired by and named for a sailboat, but on Sunday afternoon it was the perfect soundtrack, warm and wistful, for looking out the window to the church's playground, as children chased and climbed and swung and as their parents chatted and smiled and enjoyed the sunshine and a respite from the threat of storms.

Here is "Swan LK 243," performed by Catriona McKay on harp, Aly Bain on fiddle, Jerry Douglas on dobro, Donald Shaw on piano, and Russ Barenberg on guitar.

MORE: Here's the same fiddler, Aly Bain, and a couple more, doing an instrumental version of "Lily Dale," a song written by Billy Jack Wills, Bob's youngest brother.

Jazz_Giving_Moore.jpgTonight, Thursday, June 6, 2013, at 7 p.m., trumpeter and vocalist Jeff Shadley and the Disaster Relief Orchestra will take the stage at Tulsa's Jazz Depot to benefit Oklahoma tornado relief.

Admission is free, but donations are encouraged and will go directly to support the Tulsa Chapter of the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund. From the press release:

"I'll have a lot of the usual guys who work with me, including Victor Anderson on saxophone and Dave Johnson on trumpet," says Shadley. "Mike Bennett is also coming in to play trumpet, Steve Ham to play trombone, Mike Cameron on tenor sax, and I'll have a couple of [NSU Jazz Studies director] Tommy Poole's students in there, too, who're both really good.

"I've got two great pianists, Chuck Gardner and Scott McQuade, who'll be trading off throughout the show. And there's a tremendous lead trombone player named Zac Lee who's coming in from Oklahoma City to play with us. I offered to at least give him gas money, and he wouldn't even take that."

All of the musicians are donating their services, as are Tulsa media figures Julie Chin and Michele Lowry, the emcees for the evening, and vocalists Cindy Cain, Pam Van Dyke Crosby, Sarah Maud, Rebecca Ungerman, Ruby Shadley, and Shadley himself, the featured singers at Thursday's event.

Also on the bill: The Tulsa Rock Quartet, a string quartet "bridging the gap between the classical and rock performance worlds."

American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local 1180, which represents non-sworn employees of the City of Tulsa, has filed a petition for declaratory judgment against the City of Tulsa for the City's failure to comply with the union's request for public financial information in a timely fashion, as required by Oklahoma's Open Records law.

The petition was filed in Tulsa County District Court on June 5, 2013, case number CV-2013-00690. It has been assigned to District Judge Linda G. Morrissey.

Here are the allegations in the petition:

5. On or about February 5, 2013, Plaintiff requested written records from Defendant pursuant to the Oklahoma Open Records Act 51 OKLA STAT. § 24A.1 et seq. See Exhibit "A" attached hereto and made part hereof.

6. To date, Plaintiff has not received the documents requested on February 5, 2013 from Defendant.

7. On or about April 23, 2013, Defendant requested a copy of an audio recording of a telephone call from Defendant pursuant to the Oklahoma Open Records Act 51 OKLA STAT. § 24A.1 et seq. See Exhibit "B" attached hereto and made part hereof.

8. On or about April 26, 2013, Defendant responded to Plaintiffs request of April 23, 2013, stating that Defendant is not required to produce the requested audio recording in response to an Open Records Request.

9. On or about May 28, 2013, Plaintiff requested time sheets, overtime forms, leave reports, lists of employees, and emails containing certain words from Defendant. See Exhibit "C", attached hereto and made part hereof.

10. To date, Plaintiff has not received the documents requested on May 28, 2013, from Defendant.

11. As to the remaining records, Defendant has not produced them to date and despite the length of time that has passed since they have been requested has not provided a date certain that they will be produced in a reasonable amount of time.

12. Plaintiff seeks these records to be fully informed about their government, to obtain documents to adequately seek justice, to plan for future contract and benefit negotiations, and to efficiently and intelligently exercise their inherent political power and rights guaranteed by the Constitution.

The union local is asking the court to find that they are "entitled to the requested records pursuant to the Oklahoma Open Records Act," to award them attorney's fees and costs, and "such other and further relief as the Court deems just and proper."

Among the documents being sought are financial documents that have, in the past, routinely been published to the city website, but which have been available only sporadically in recent years. The online archive of City of Tulsa monthly financial reports goes back to February 2002, but the most recent three posted to the site are from February 2013, September 2012, and May 2012. The Comprehensive Annual Financial Report for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2012, was delivered to the mayor on November 29, 2012, but (based on the Internet Archive's holdings) it doesn't appear to have been posted to the website until Februrary 1, 2013. (See the City of Tulsa's archive of Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports here, going back to 2003.)

AFSCME has scheduled a 10:00 a.m. Thursday press conference to discuss the petition.

PreserveMidtownSign-200.jpgBatesLine is proud to join PreserveMidtown, Oklahoma Sierra Club, Coalition of Historic Neighborhoods, Tulsans Against Chloramine, Clean Energy Future Oklahoma as sponsor of an informal meet-and-greet with the candidates for Mayor of Tulsa. This may be your last chance to ask them questions before we go to the polls next Tuesday.

The mayoral meet-and-greet will be Wednesday evening, June 5, 2013, 7 p.m., at Harwelden, 2210 S. Main, just a block south of 21st Street and a block east of Riverside Drive.

DON'T FORGET: Wednesday, 5 p.m., is also the deadline to request an absentee ballot at your county election board. Tulsa County residents can also vote early at the election board, 555 N. Denver Ave. on Friday, June 7, 2013, and Monday, June 10, 2013, from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m.

This is the first City of Tulsa mayoral election in which candidates are required by state law to file campaign finance reports through the Oklahoma Ethics Commission, rather than the city clerk's office, making it far easier to have access to the reports and analyze them. Tulsa County candidates also must file electronically through the Ethics Commission. The links below will take you directly to each candidate's C1-R pre-primary disclosure. From there you can navigate to the list of individual contributors, loans, PAC contributions, and expenditures.

Tulsa Mayor:

Dewey Bartlett Jr C1-R
Bill Christiansen SO-1 (no C1-R available yet)
Kathy Taylor C1-R

(The other two candidates, Lawrence Kirkpatrick and Jerry Branch, have not filed any paperwork at all.)

Tulsa City Auditor:

Cathy Criswell C1-R
Josh Lewis C1-R
Clift Richards C1-R

Tulsa County Commissioner, District 3

Don Crall C1-R
Brandon Perkins SO-1 (no C1-R available yet)
Ron Peters SO-1 (no C1-R available yet)
John A. Wright C1-R


Some notes:

Perhaps it's a problem with getting used to a new set of rules or a glitch in the online reporting system, but a surprising number of candidates appear to have missed the deadline. For example, Brandon Perkins must have exceeded the $500 expenditure threshold, with a large number of professionally printed signs up for weeks, but he only filed a statement of organization (SO-1) for his campaign last Friday.

Kathy Taylor and Dewey Bartlett Jr have each raised about the same amount of monetary contributions -- Taylor raised $459,500 and Bartlett Jr raised $413,815 -- and yet Taylor has spent almost three times as much -- $1,277,021.91 vs. $447,710.88. The difference: Taylor has lent her campaign $852,000; Bartlett Jr. has lent his campaign $62,000.

Kathy_Taylor-That.Is.Crazy.png

Most candidates itemized their expenditures, as the instructions require ("Give the following information for expenditures of more than $1000 in the aggregate to one entity during the reporting period.") but Taylor reported them as two lump sums (with the payee listed as Lump Sum Expenditures, N/a, N/a, OK 12345), which keeps the rest of us from finding out the identities of her campaign consultants and vendors and the amount spent on various types of campaign expenditures.

Kathy Taylor's donors include several out-of-state business associates of her husband, Bill Lobeck, who also made large contributions to Chris Trail's 2009 City Council race against Taylor nemesis Bill Martinson. Many of them gave the maximum amount.

It's interesting to see which donors are hedging their bets in the mayoral race. George Kaiser has given $3,500 to Bartlett Jr and $2,500 to Kathy Taylor, but Kaiser's wife, Myra Block, gave $1,000 to Taylor, making the couple's total $3,500 for each. Joe Craft gave $5,000 each to Bartlett Jr and Taylor, as did Ed Leinbach and Sanjay Meshri. Joe Cappy gave $2,500 to each of the two.

Howard G. Barnett, president of OSU-Tulsa and former chief of staff to former Gov. Frank Keating, gave $5,000 to Bartlett Jr and $2,000 to Taylor. James Adelson, brother of 2009 Democrat mayoral nominee Tom Adelson, gave $1,500 to Taylor and $500 to Bartlett Jr.

Margaret Erling gave $1,000 to Kathy Taylor; Margaret Erling Frette gave $500 to Dewey Bartlett Jr. Attorney Fred Dorwart gave $1,000 to each. Mike Case gave $3,000 to Taylor, $2,500 to Bartlett Jr.

Former Susan Savage aide Jim East gave $250 to Bartlett Jr; his wife, former Insurance Commissioner Kim Holland-East, gave $500 to Taylor.

Stacy Schusterman gave $1,000 to Bartlett Jr, but $5,000 to Taylor. Her mother Lynn Schusterman gave $2,500 to Taylor and nothing to Bartlett Jr. Meredith Siegfried, CEO of Nordam Group, gave $500 to Bartlett Jr, with whom she served on the airport board, but $2,000 to Taylor. Milann Siegfried also gave $500 to Bartlett Jr, but $1,000 to Taylor.

Conspicuously absent from any list is the surname Lorton, but This Land Press publisher Vincent Lovoi gave $5,000 to Kathy Taylor.

The giving patterns suggest to me that, should Bartlett Jr and Taylor both survive to the second round, the Midtown Money Belt will abandon Bartlett Jr and swing behind Taylor. This is the same thing that happened in 2006: The Money Belt made sure that one of their own, Bill LaFortune, survived his primary challenge from Chris Medlock, and that Taylor defeated the more populist Democrat Don McCorkell, to set up a general election that they couldn't lose. But once the primary was over, the money and endorsements went to Taylor. The Money Belt will have won the election should Taylor and Bartlett Jr survive to the second round; Bartlett Jr will be kicked to the curb as no longer useful. The question is whether he would actually fight to keep his job, try to rally Republicans on a partisan basis, or effectively stand aside, putting up only a token fight.

Perhaps an indication of the esteem in which the office is held and the power which the office is perceived to wield, the City Auditor's race is starved for cash. Josh Lewis, who led the EMSA audit for the State Auditor's office, leads the pack with a whopping $7,341.68. Cathy Criswell, who worked in Kathy Taylor's administration, has raised $3,770.00. Incumbent Clift Richards lent his campaign all the money it has -- $1,000. You can't even run an effective city council race on that kind of money, much less a citywide race.

MORE: The Tulsa World has a summary of donors by amount and includes Bill Christiansen's report. Christiansen raised $87,729 and lent his campaign $215,000.

STILL MORE: Dewey Bartlett Jr spent over half of his campaign cash -- $271,486.02 -- with companies based at 7669 Stagers Loop, Delaware, Ohio. Buzzfeed has a story today on this campaign consulting conglomerate that some ex-employees describe as cultlike. Bartlett Jr spent less than 10% of his campaign funds -- $32,452.52 -- with Tulsa vendors and consultants, and all but $6,053.38 of that went to his campaign manager, Daniel Patten.

Runoff was one of the topics mentioned in Tulsa mayoral candidate Bill Christiansen's press conference on Wednesday, May 29, 2013, about the questionable ethics of his principal opponents, former mayor Kathy Taylor and incumbent mayor Dewey Bartlett Jr.

The runoff under discussion isn't the election that will be held in November should no candidate get more than 50% of the vote in the June 11, 2013, non-partisan primary election. It's the runoff that happens when rainfall meets roof, patio, driveway, and parking lot -- any impervious surface that blocks water from being absorbed into the soil. The water has to go somewhere, and the somewhere is downhill, through neighboring properties to the nearest storm drain or creek channel.

In 2007, during Taylor's term as mayor, the City of Tulsa bought and cleared the home of Kathy Taylor's neighbor to the southeast. The allegation is that hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars -- perhaps half a million or more -- were spent on this project to mitigate damage from increased stormwater runoff resulting from the construction of Kathy Taylor's monstrous Midtown mansion. Put another way, Kathy Taylor's conspicuous consumption, it is alleged, made a mess that Tulsa taxpayers have paid dearly to clean up. The facts (detailed after the jump) seem to back up the allegation.

Kathy_Taylor-Billie_Letts-BirdsEye-543px.jpg

A candidate forum for the Tulsa County Commission District 3 special election, sponsored by the League of Women Voters and Tulsa Community College will be held tomorrow night, Tuesday, June 4, 2013, at the TCC Southeast campus, 81st Street and U. S. 169, in the studio theater, from 6:30 to 7:30. Written questions will be accepted from the audience. All five candidates are expected to attend.

Because of an oddity in Oklahoma election law, there will be no runoff in the special election to fill the remaining year and a half of retiring commissioner Fred Perry's term. The Republican with the most votes in the June 11, 2013, primary, even if the winning percentage is barely over 25%, will face the lone Democrat, John Bomar, in the special general election on August 13, 2013. Four Republicans are running: Former State Rep. John Wright, former State Rep. Ron Peters, Brandon Perkins, and Don Crall.

MORE: Read the candidates' responses to the League of Women Voters Tulsa Election 2013 questionnaire.

John_Eagleton_headshot_2006.JPGMayoral candidates Dewey Bartlett Jr. and Kathy Taylor are "indistinguisable" with regard to policy and the candidates of choice for fans of crony capitalism, while former City Councilor Bill Christiansen "worked harder than a reasonable person would have" on behalf of his constituents and easily reaches across racial, cultural, and political barriers. That's the assessment of former Tulsa City Councilor John Eagleton, who served alongside all three major mayoral candidates during his three terms in office from 2006 to 2011 and spoke to BatesLine recently about the upcoming June 11, 2013, primary.

Taylor, Bartlett public safety boasts "laughable"

Both Taylor and Bartlett, Eagleton said, have supported spending every penny that the city brings in, rather than planning for the future. He said that it was laughable for Bartlett and Taylor to tout their records on public safety. Taylor's unrealistic FY2009-2010 budget and Bartlett's refusal to negotiate with the FOP combined to produce the costly layoffs of 145 police officers during Bartlett's first year in office.

Eagleton also noted that Taylor filed the paperwork to dispute a contract arbitration judgment in favor of the FOP, which would have triggered a citywide special election. Taylor retracted the move after polling showed that the electorate would back the police officers' union.

Eagleton says that both Bartlett and Taylor supported maintaining the current condition of the streets, not fixing them. Eagleton and his council allies pushed for a plan that would move the average Pavement Condition Index from 60 to 70; the Bartlett/Taylor plan only moved the needle by two points.

Bartlett, Taylor taking unwarranted credit

Eagleton also notes that Taylor and Bartlett are fond of taking credit for the accomplishments of other. Bartlett ads mention turning the lights back on the expressways and putting the police helicopters back in the air, but Eagleton points out that these measures were a June 2010 City Council proposal; Bartlett vetoed the plan, but the Council unanimously overrode his veto.

Taylor, meanwhile, takes unwarranted credit for bringing the BOK Center on time and under budget, when neither is true. Eagleton points out that Taylor got the extra money to cover BOK Center overruns thanks to her predecessor, Bill LaFortune, who had the foresight to put in place the mechanism for modifying project allocations included in the Vision 2025 ballot resolutions.

Bill Christiansen's genuine concern for Tulsans

Eagleton is endorsing his former council colleague Bill Christiansen. Christiansen and Eagleton had many disagreements during their time together on the City Council, but Eagleton praised Christiansen for his genuine concern for Tulsa and its citizens. "He devoted hundreds of hours dealing with citizens who had gotten bad answers from City Hall." Christiansen had "two dozen meetings" regarding the controversial Sonoma Grande apartment complex at 81st and Mingo, and Christiansen "did everything he could to find a remedy" for the zoning anomaly that had harmed neighboring homeowners. "Bill worked harder than a reasonable person would have."

"I've seen Bill work with Democrats, Republicans, conservatives, liberals, the well-to-do and people who never will be. I've never seen anyone who reaches across racial and cultural barriers as easily." Christiansen is happy to "show up for no apparent reason and talk with people, even those who can't help him financially or politically."

Kathy Taylor MIA, Dewey Bartlett AWOL

Christiansen's presence with Tulsans of all walks of life brought Eagleton to the topic of Bartlett and Taylor's absence when leadership was needed. He mentioned Taylor being "missing in action" when a minority contractor complained that pages removed from his bid on a BOK Center dirt-hauling contract after it was submitted.

Bartlett, he said, was AWOL on the changes to Tulsa's trash service, which made trash pickup more expensive and less convenient for Tulsans. Bartlett had the power to replace members of the trash board whose terms had expired, but he chose not to do so. Eagleton advised Bartlett that the trash system changes should come before the council because of the public safety ramifications of trash accumulating for a week between pickups. Bartlett ignored the opportunity to subject the trash changes to public scrutiny by elected officials.

Eagleton had been an enthusiastic Bartlett supporter on inauguration day 2009. Bartlett's trouble with the council began when Bartlett and his chief of staff told the council that a federal grant could not be reallocated to prevent police layoffs. This wasn't true -- deputy chiefs had approached Bartlett the day after he was sworn in about using the JAG grant to prevent layoffs -- and the withheld information resulted in a layoff that took 124 officers off the streets. Most were eventually recalled, but 61 officers chose not to come back. The layoff and recall was costly to the city, requiring immediate payment of unused leave and comp time to the laid-off officers.

Dewey Bartlett's ethics violations

In May 2011, the City Auditor's office, led by Bartlett's own appointee, found that Dewey Bartlett Jr had committed two ethics violatations by accepting free personal legal services from an attorney who did legal work under contract to the city, including contract extensions which Bartlett had approved.

Eagleton mentioned the Tulsa Development Authority sale of land across Denver Ave from the BOK Center to a company, led by Taylor's stepson-in-law, for $1.5 million, well below the appraised value of $2.4 million. The TDA agreed to the deal in the closing weeks of Taylor's term as mayor.

Eagleton also noted the downtown ballpark, another Taylor initiative, was effectively not a competitive bidding situation, and that it was twice as expensive as it needed to be. (The ballpark, which was bid to cost $39.2 million to build, could have been funded by the $30 million in donations and lease payments from the Drillers, without needing to resort to an onerous assessment on downtown property owners.)

The common characteristic between Bartlett and Taylor, Eagleton said, is crony capitalism. "If you like crony capitalism, Bartlett and Taylor are your candidates. If you think that people should be treated equally, they might not be your best choice. If you're part of a select group, you want Taylor or Bartlett. These are the sort of people who don't worry about streets or parks."

RELATED:

"Dewey and Kathy agree on a lot"

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