July 2013 Archives

A proposed hotel/office/retail development in the Bob Wills District that was stymied in 2008 by Mayor Kathy Taylor and the Tulsa Development Authority now looks to move forward, five years later and after a lawsuit and settlement.

The half-block west of Elgin between Archer and Brady is owned by the Tulsa Development Authority. Currently a parking lot, it was previously home to a Fuelman unattended gas station. Developers Will Wilkins and Cecilia Wilkins (Will's mother) plan to build a four- to five-story building with retail on the ground floor, office space on the second floor, and hotel rooms on the upper floors. They have a tentative agreement with the TDA; final agreement is expected at the TDA's August 1 meeting.

In December 2007, a TDA staffer suggested to the Wilkinses, who had worked with the TDA on a number of previous infill projects, that they consider developing the site, across the street from the Greenwood Chamber of Commerce's planned mixed-use development.

Planning and negotiations were moving along smoothly for several months, until then-Mayor Kathy Taylor set out to get the Tulsa Drillers in a new ballpark downtown. Long story short, in August 2008, the TDA cancelled the Wilkinses' exclusive negotiating rights to the site -- part of an effort to control all the land around the ballpark -- the Wilkinses sued, and the suit was finally settled a few days before going to trial in June 2012.

You can read a detailed account of how Taylor and the TDA treated the Wilkinses in the BatesLine archives:

The Control Freaks' Squeeze Play: The history of the proposed development, who made it unravel, and the damage done to Tulsa as a place for creative entrepreneurs.

TDA chairman's letter announcing intent to terminate Wilkinses' exclusive negotiating period, and Kathy Taylor's response

Novus Homes sues City of Tulsa for interference: In 2009, The Wilkinses added the City of Tulsa and Kathy Taylor to their lawsuit against TDA. This entry explains
what they learned in discovery that led them to add the City and Taylor to the suit.

That last link also has links to other BatesLine articles covering the dispute.

My dilemma in this November's mayoral election is that both candidates have, as mayor, badly mistreated good people trying to do good things for Tulsa and have hurt the City's reputation and progress in the process. I'm not talking about oversights or mistakes, but deliberate actions. There are plenty of examples in Dewey Bartlett's column, but this is one of many in Kathy Taylor's column -- a positive downtown development had to wait five years longer than necessary because of her bulldozer approach to the ballpark deal. If either Bartlett or Taylor were truly repentant for their bad actions -- publicly acknowledged what he or she did wrong, why it was wrong, and how he or she plans to ensure that he or she acts with integrity in the future -- it would go a long way toward winning my support.

Steve Lackmeyer has a story in today's Oklahoman about the dilemma facing Oklahoma City as surface parking downtown is being replaced with new development.

Now, [Stage Center] is set to be torn down to make way for a tower rising at least 20 stories into the skyline. And if one is to consider carefully the comments made Thursday by Mayor Mick Cornett, this won't be the last demolition sought to make way for a new tower....

The old home of Carpenter Square theater on the southwest corner of Main and Hudson features a beautiful colored mosaic tile facade. Originally the home of Bishop's Department Store decades ago, one can dream up the restoration of the building's jewel box glass storefront displays where the plywood now stands.

That building, a vintage mid-rise "auto hotel" garage and other early to mid-20th century buildings on the block may be next on the list of buildings to be torn down to make way for yet another tower.

Oklahoma City, which recoiled after the Urban Renewal demolition spree in the 1970s, has had relatively few downtown preservation battles since the MAPS-fueled revival began in 1993.

Empty land, scars remaining from unfulfilled dreams of the earlier Urban Renewal era, was plentiful 20 years ago. But that surplus of land has been depleted thanks to hundreds of millions of dollars invested downtown this past decade.

The skyline wants to grow. Oklahoma City must now decide what older buildings must go to accommodate that demand.

It's a nice problem to have, for land to be more valuable to develop than to use as surface parking, but Oklahoma City should think carefully before sacrificing more of he remnant of its early 20th century downtown urban fabric to make way for new steel and glass erections.

Some points to consider:

The pre-World War II buildings that may be sacrificed for new skyscrapers were built to pedestrian scale. Even pre-war high-rises tended to be built with a retail-friendly first floor. (Even the Empire State Building, tallest in the world when it was built, has ground floor retail.) New skyscrapers tend to be monotonous, with first floors that are undifferentiated from the rest of the building on the exterior and little more than elevator lobbies on the inside. At the very least, design guidelines could require a retail-friendly, pedestrian-friendly ground floor in new buildings.

Skyscrapers will increase downtown employment, which will increase demand for parking, which could lead to the sacrifice of still more low-rise, pre-war buildings for surface parking. Tulsa saw this happen in our 1970s building boom. Combined with and enabled by urban renewal, it turned our downtown from a mixture of uses into little more than an office park, dead after dark. The daytime employees will want places to eat lunch, but they won't be around to keep retailers open in the evening, and the skyscrapers and their attendant parking will eliminate older buildings that could house uses to generate 24/7 activity. While skyscrapers may draw new residents into the center city, plenty of those new downtown workers are quite happy with their single-family suburban homes, and they'll want a place to park. Planners should do the math for proposed new skyscrapers: Number of new workers minus number of workers likely to live within walking distance (or to commute via mass transit) equals the number of parking spaces that should be required to be incorporated into the building.

There's a real danger of replacing diverse building stock with the equivalent of a monoculture, which is as vulnerable to disease and disaster in the built environment as it is in the natural environment. Development is somewhat at the mercy of investment fads. If everyone sees office space as a good investment, they're going to build, build, build until office space is overbuilt, driving out buildings suitable for other uses in the process.

Historic preservation played a key role in Oklahoma City's urban revival. MAPS investments had impact because they were placed in and near areas like Bricktown, Civic Plaza, and West Main that had been untouched by urban renewal, and, in the case of Bricktown, already had pioneer investors working to redevelop them.

In the 1980s, Oklahoma City, perhaps in reaction to the orgy of demolition in the previous two decades, adopted urban design guidelines, neighborhood conservation districts, and historic preservation districts for both commercial and residential areas. When the boom began in the 1990s, many protections were already in place, and others were added, no doubt with less friction because precedents for such protections had already been set. Then-Mayor Kirk Humphreys told a Tulsa Now tour group in 2002 that design guidelines were the city's way of protecting the taxpayers' massive investment in downtown. Tulsa's developers and their allies have blocked adoption of similar measures here.

In the comments to Lackmeyer's story, I pointed to Paris for a way to give the skyscraper builders some room to play while protecting the remaining diversity and history of the downtown core.

Paris made the decision to protect its historic core from high-rise redevelopment. Skyscraper development was diverted to an industrial area called La Défense, about three miles west of the Arc de Triomphe, along the same axis that connects that monument to the Louvre via the Champs Elysée. The official website for La Défense describes the area before the transformation:

Apart from its strategic location on the historical axis extending from the Champs-Elysées, there was little indication that the La Défense Roundabout would one day be home to the future business district. Dilapidated houses and small factories for the engineering and automotive industries were bordered by shantytowns and the occasional farm.

The name of the place comes from an 1883 monument at the center of that roundabout, commemorating the defense of Paris during the 1870 Franco-Prussian War. The area was identified as a location for new urban development in 1931, and major construction (delayed by depression and war) began in 1958 with CNIT, a large exhibition center, followed by several waves of high-rise development.


La D&efense, looking east along Paris's historic axis toward the Arc de Triomphe

The 400-acre district now accommodates 38 million square feet of office space, 150,000 employees, 20,000 residents, and 2.3 million sq. ft. of retail (including continental Europe's largest mall, at 1.3 million sq. ft.). Beginning in 1970, it was connected to the rest of Paris by express rapid transit (RER line A) and since 1992 also by Métro Line 1. (Note that even in urban, densely developed Paris, this district still experiences a daily influx of at least 130,000 commuters and can only house about 13% of its workers.)

Oklahoma City could choose to do something similar: Encourage new skyscraper development in an underused area without historic significance near downtown and link it to the core by transit. To my outsider's eye, the industrial area along Reno between Western and Penn, west of downtown, and along Reno between I-235 and I-35, east of downtown, both look like good possibilities for this sort of place. Oklahoma City could improve on Paris's example by ensuring that such a skyscraper district is pedestrian-friendly and has a cohesive urban fabric, not a mere collection of isolated starchitect sculptures.


Habitats for Humans: A Skyscraper Is Not a Sculpture: An essay contrasting the way earlier skyscrapers were designed to fit into the urban context and newer skyscrapers are designed as standalone monuments to their architects. The essayist points to New York's early 20th century rules for skyscrapers as the antidote:

We inherited some pretty wonderful skyscrapers from the years before previous global economic disasters: the Metropolitan Life Building (1909) The Empire State Building (1931), The Chrysler Building (1930). These older towers left an incredible urban legacy and it is easy to agrue that they represent the perfection of the urban skyscraper. They are successful at every scale: from a distance they are soaring and beautiful landmarks, global icons of the city and symbols of success and possibility. As part of a street their bases widened to fill their blocks, responding to the height and rhythms of neighbouring buildings, creating a real urban density. Up close, their frontages are richly detailed and animated by shops and entrances, just like those of any generous and lively urban building....

The majority of recent towers are very different and their form follows from a very different function: To be seductive CGI sculptures in promotional material, to distance occupants from the 'dangers' of the city, and to compete with other tall neighbours. The city context of many skyscrapers has become irrelevant with the consequence that new skyscrapers, as opposed to being a crescendo of urbanity, are now actively destructive to their urban contexts.

Skyscrapers are no longer designed to contribute to the creation of the great human habitat - the city....

On a recent trip to Madrid I visited the Cuatro Torres development. This was the city's prime new office district consisting of four, starchitect designed towers in vast open spaces. The city stopped at the edge of the development; human activity died away, street life disappeared, the wind whipped up and the towers loomed large as in the architect's dream. If we are trusting architects and developers to build our cities then we should expect more like this.

The answer to this problem is to once again consider the skyscraper as part of its urban context; the habitat of the person on foot.

We need to insist that the form of new skyscrapers follow an additional urban function: to enliven the city at every scale, particularly the one that is currently ignored - the scale of the person walking on the street. The Architect's vanity, and developer ignorance that demands that their sculptural artwork should be realised, uncompromised by such restriction, must be challenged....

Our skyscraper designers could do worse than look again at the rules that led to some of the best urban skyscrapers ever built - The 1916 New York Zoning Resolution. It aimed to ensure that these great urban crescendos were as generous as possible to the pedestrian environment below, and the city as a whole.

Looking at the successful results, a series of rules of thumb can be distilled: At ground level, a more urban result is achieved when the tower's base fills its plot. Here, vibrant, streets are more likely when sides of this of the base animate their surroundings with shop units or entrances to apartments above. The height of this section should create a good enclosure of the street without creating a dark chasm. Above this level the building steps back to the tower - this prevents downdraughts and allows light to the street. The tower element will generally rise above, creating a dramatic form on the skyline (complementing rather than clashing with neighbours). Simple.

The 1920 Robelin map of Paris shows La Défense as a mere suburban roundabout.

La Défense official website (English version)

Jillian Haswell's brief history of La Défense, with photos and a description of new development planned for the near future.

La Défense: From Axial Hierarchy to Field Condition, a 2011 essay by Nick Roberts of Woodbury University on the urban design history of the district. The abstract:

Paris La Défense, the largest dedicated business center in Europe, originated in utopian schemes of the early 20th century, and developed rapidly in the immediate post-war years. As corporate structures and the needs of office design shifted, however, the monumentality and utopian formalism of the 1950's master plan failed to accommodate the needs of capital. As the project developed in the 1970's, it shifted into an open and flexible field condition supported by intense networks of transportation, energy and information.

Using the writings of Shadrach Woods and Alison Smithson as references, the essay discusses the shift in design thinking that took place in the late 1960's, as the project evolved from a Beaux-Arts inspired sculptural composition to the open and flexible infrastructure that has allowed La Défense to continue its steady growth despite the recent economic downturn.

J. J. Cale RIP

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Legendary guitarist and songwriter J. J. Cale died Friday, July 26, 2013, of a heart attack. He was 74. Cale wrote a number of hit songs, including "After Midnight" and "Cocaine."

Cale was born in Oklahoma City, but grew up in Tulsa, graduating from Tulsa's Central High School in 1956. Cale was a leader of a wave of talented Tulsa musicians that brought a distinctive bluesy sound to rock music in the '60s and '70s. The Tulsa Sound has been described as a "mix of Rockabilly, Country, Rock 'n' Roll, and Blues sounds of the late 1950s and early 1960s," and it influenced Eric Clapton and Mark Knopfler among others.

Here's a documentary about J. J. Cale, "To Tulsa and Back," filmed in 2004 and released in 2006, in which he revisits and reminisces about places from his childhood and young adulthood. The film is full of historic photos and film of Tulsa in the 1950s. Eric Clapton talks at length about Cale and the group of Tulsa musicians that shaped his solo sound. Rocky Frisco, Bill Raffensperger, and Jim Karstein are among the Tulsa musicians who worked with Cale as early as 1957 who share their memories.

The debate over purging the name Brady from Tulsa streets and landmarks has made international news.

Tulsa City Council researcher Jack Blair discovered a December 24, 1907, street-naming ordinance that shows that Archer, Brady, and Haskell streets had different names in the initial draft -- Archer was Atchison, Brady was Burlington. The name crossed out in favor of Haskell is illegible -- an eight-character name presumably beginning with "H". (UPDATE: Paul Uttinger has learned from contemporary newspaper accounts of the debate that the originally proposed "H" street was "Hiawatha." Paul also notes that many of the cities in the list of proposed street names were in northeastern Kansas or northwestern Missouri; Alderman James W. Woodford was from Burlington in northeastern Kansas. See his comment below.)

Jeff Archer was an early Tulsa merchant. Archer was killed in 1894 by an explosion caused by a drunk shooting into a barrel of gunpowder in his store. W. Tate Brady was an incorporator of the City of Tulsa. Charles N. Haskell was the first governor of Oklahoma.

In the 1907 Sanborn Fire Map of Tulsa, there is an Archer Ave. and a Brady Ave., but not at their current locations. Archer Ave. was between Cheyenne and Osage (one block west of Denver Ave.) -- present day Edison St. Brady Ave. was present day Golden St. between Denver and Osage. The street runs to the north of the Brady Mansion. In between (what is now Fairview St.) was Mowbray Ave., named to honor the Rev. George W. Mowbray, Methodist pastor, Mayor of Tulsa, and father-in-law to Jeff Archer.


My theory is that, when the city decided in 1907 to rename the original Archer and Brady streets to create alphabetical order and consistency, friends of the Archer and Brady families pushed to have those names re-used for the "A" and "B" streets north of the tracks. (I'm not sure why Rev. Mowbray was left out.) Someone should check newspaper microfilm from December 1907 to see if there are any accounts of the decision-making process and any controversy surrounding it.

There are a few distinctions that need to be made.

The Brady Theater was built 1912-1914 as the city's Convention Hall. Later it became known as the Tulsa Municipal Theater. It was the place for ballet and symphony performances prior to the Performing Arts Center. When Peter Mayo bought it from the city at auction in 1978, he dubbed it the "Old Lady on Brady" because of its age and its location on Brady Street. Late '80s and early '90s news stories refer to it by the "Old Lady" name. By the mid-'90s, it had been rebranded as the Brady Theater. The theater's connection with Tate Brady is secondary -- the theater was named after the street, which was named after Tate Brady.

Sometime in the late 1980s, as warehouse districts became popular for arts and entertainment redevelopment, the idea of "Brady Village" as an arts district began to catch on. It was formally adopted in the city's 1989 Downtown Master Plan. Mayfest was held in Brady Village in 1991 and 1992. (I remember seeing Asleep at the Wheel in 1992 on an open-air stage in a parking lot where the Fairfield Inn now is, and later that evening at Cain's Ballroom. A co-worker and a couple of friends were leasing the Continental Supply Company building and had converted it into a loft.)

In July 1992, Spaghetti Warehouse opened. In December 1993, Mexicali Border Cafe opened. The connection of the district to Tate Brady is tertiary: The district was named after the theater, which was named after the street, which was named after Tate Brady. My guess is that Brady was chosen as the district's name because it evoked turn-of-the-century railroads and industry. I suspect that the organizers were thinking more about Diamond Jim Brady than Tate Brady.

Brady Heights is the name of a subdivision that was platted along N. Denver Avenue, on a hill overlooking downtown. The subdivision gave its name to the historic preservation district established in the 1990s; the HP district incorporates parts of adjacent subdivisions.

The Brady Mansion, which is in the Brady Heights historic district, is so called because Tate Brady built it and lived there.

The city has control over the name of Brady Street, and the City Council (with mayoral approval) could decide to rename it. Brady Street isn't just downtown, but it extends to the east and west limits of the city and even beyond. A Catoosa subdivision just north of I-44 and east of Lynn Lane Rd used Tulsa street names, since it was developed in the 1960s when the area was unincorporated. Changing a street name has far-reaching impact. It affects every homeowner and business owner

The city also could choose to rename the TIF district that encompasses the arts district or the name of the Brady Heights historic preservation district. These names are matters of city ordinance, but because the names of these entities are derived from pre-existing places, changing the name would create a geographical disconnect.

All the other Brady names are under private control. The owner could choose to change the name of the Brady Theater. The Brady Heights Neighborhood Association could rename itself, as could the Brady Arts District Business Association.

All these places could be renamed, but should they?

Until the campaign to rename Brady Street began, I doubt many Tulsans knew the significance of the name, any more than they knew what Xanthus or Xyler meant. One could argue that the street name has transcended its connection to its namesake. Most Tulsa street names were chosen arbitrarily to fit into an alphabetical scheme, and I imagine most Tulsans, if they thought about it at all, assumed the name Brady was equally arbitrary.

If they do rename it, I hope at least they use a name beginning with a B. The city has already violated alphabetical order twice in recent years, renaming part of Haskell Street to John Hope Franklin Blvd. and renaming half of Cincinnati Avenue as Martin Luther King Junior Blvd.

I would like to see the name of the arts district changed, and I like Lee Roy Chapman's suggestion of calling it the Bob Wills District, as it acknowledges a musician of worldwide renown who made his fame in the district, at Cain's Ballroom, and it fits nicely with the area's reputation as a home for live music. The name "Bob Wills District" on a map would be a magnet for worldwide fans of the man's music who want to connect with his legacy.

As a brand name for the area, the name Bob Wills has positive associations reaching far beyond Tulsa that would add to the good feelings Tulsans have about the neighborhood north of the tracks as a place to have fun. The name Brady has been associated in the minds of Tulsans with restaurants and bars and live music for over 20 years, but those positive associations are now tainted by what we've learned recently about Tate Brady.

I doubt that the Brady name means much to people outside of Tulsa. Even if you disregard Brady's membership in the Klan and involvement in the race riot, which historical figure would you associate with fun: A dour civic leader who committed suicide, or this guy?

Call it the Bob Wills District, and you've got a built-in slogan: "Stay all night, stay a little longer."

Lee Roy Chapman's 2011 story about Tate Brady is a reminder that many other prominent Tulsans of that era, whose names adorn streets and parks and buildings all over town, were as culpable as Brady. If we start by purging Brady's name, we cannot stop there. Names like Lorton and Jones and Lewis will have to go, too. Cyrus Avery, the father of Route 66, whom we've just honored with a plaza and a sculpture, was involved with real estate in Greenwood. If we dug deeply into his record, would we feel the need to erase his name from the map? And shouldn't our purge include the civic leaders who pushed for Greenwood's second destruction in the 1960s and 1970s? That probably means removing the names of the mayors of that era (Hewgley, LaFortune) and other officials (like City Attorney Charles Norman) from buildings and places.


In 2011, Fox 23 interviewed Tulsa Race Riot survivor Wess Young, who lives in Brady Heights:

He doesn't want the neighborhood's name to change. "That's history, why would you try and change what has gone one and not show what progress you have made," he told FOX23. He says he doesn't live in Tate Brady's neighborhood, he lives in his neighborhood. No matter what name it has. "It doesn't bother me because I have the privilege to live where I can afford."

I wrote at the time:

My thinking -- keep Brady Street and Brady Heights as a humbling reminder that men like Brady were a part of Tulsa's past, but pick a better name to market the area north of the tracks downtown. I like Lee Roy Chapman's suggestion: Call it the Bob Wills District.

Championship fiddler Emma Jane Pendleton will hold a CD release party this Sunday, July 28, 2013, at 3 p.m., at Tulsa's Spotlight Theater (Riverside and Houston Ave.), featuring a performance followed by a reception. There's no cover charge, but RSVPs are requested to vmp@igeo.com, or you can text or call 918-261-6184.


Woody Paul of Riders in the Sky helpfully points out Emma Jane Pendleton at the 2012 National Fiddler Hall of Fame induction gala

Emma Jane has a long list of musical accomplishments to her name. She is currently a student at the University of Tulsa on a four-year scholarship, where she is studying mechanical engineering and violin performance. She has numerous state and national championships as a solo fiddler, for twin fiddles with her sister Marina, for string band with the Pendleton Family Fiddlers, and for yodeling.

Tulsa_Playboys-Cains_Ballroom-Logo.jpgThe Tulsa Playboys are back at Cain's Ballroom tonight, Thursday, July 25, 2013, from 7 pm to 10 pm. Guests on the bandstand include vocalists Janet Rutland, Devon Dawson, and Kristyn Harris, Evan Alexander on fiddle, and Isaac Eicher on electric mandolin.

The Tulsa Playboys are a very talented western swing band, and it's wonderful to have the music that Bob Wills made famous (and vice versa) back in the place where it became famous almost 80 years ago.

If you love big band music and swing dancing, you should come out to Cain's tonight for a great time. You'll recognize it as your kind of music, even if there are more fiddles than trumpets in the band.

If you're a western swing fan, this is a chance to hear the music you love played by musicians who know how to swing. It's also a chance to show your support for the music you love and give the musicians and venue owners a reason to hold these dances more often. In other parts of the country -- the Texas Hill Country and the San Francisco Bay Area, for example -- you can hear live western swing every weekend. Shouldn't the same be true of Tulsa?

Tickets are $10 at the door.

Quite a storm last night, wasn't it? We lost a few limbs, but nothing major. The '06 microburst and '07 ice storm took our most vulnerable trees. More nasty weather may be on its way Thursday night after sunset.

The grappler trucks are coming for your yard debris. The City of Tulsa will make one pass around the city beginning on Monday, July 29, 2013, to pick up any curbside branches and limbs. They've asked you to bundle your branches to four-feet lengths if you're able.

A special curbside debris removal operation will begin Monday, July 29, beginning at 8 a.m. and continuing to 5 p.m. on weekdays. Crews will make one pass throughout the city to gather residential tree debris from last night's storm, if it is placed at the curb.

If able, residents should cut tree debris into 4-foot or smaller sections, and place those bundles at the curb for crews to collect. This may speed the process of collection across the city.

If unable, residents must drag limbs to the curb for pickup.

The regular schedule for the collection of bagged greenwaste will be interrupted during this operation, and will only resume once crews have made a full sweep through the entire city.

Crews will use both City of Tulsa greenwaste trucks and grappler trucks to pick up debris. Crews will only pick up debris set at the curb, near the street, where it is easily accessible. Tree debris should not be mixed with other kinds of debris. If there is housing, roofing or structural debris of any kind mixed in, the greenwaste will not be picked up.

Residents are asked to keep parked cars away from debris stacked near the curbs so that grappler trucks can access the debris easily.

The operation will begin on the outer perimeters of the city, working into the center where the storm damage was heaviest. This will allow residents in those areas more time to get greenwaste debris to the curb. Once crews begin working, they will assess the situation and announce an anticipated timeline for pickup as they move inward.

Household refuse and recycling collection will continue as normal.

Tulsans can also take tree and limb debris to the City's greenwaste processing site, 10401 E. 56th St. North, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily at no charge.

Tulsa police officers and firefighters were kept busy from about 11:30 p.m. until after daylight responding to calls related to storms that swept through the Tulsa metropolitan area Tuesday night.

Damage assessment continues this morning even as crews have begun recovery operations.

Crews from the Streets & Stormwater department were called in and began working at 1:30 a.m. to clear tree limbs and other debris from arterial streets. Those crews will continue to clear arterials, then clear lanes of residential streets, then to haul debris away.

Power was out to 100,000 or more customers after the storm and power was lost at many public facilities as well. Traffic engineering crews began at 5 a.m. today placing temporary stop signs at intersections throughout Tulsa where either signals were damaged or were without power. About 100 traffic signals were out of service.

Operators at the Tulsa E-9-1-1 center were overwhelmed with thousands of calls as the storm moved through Tulsa. Tulsa firefighters were battling 8 to 10 house fires at one time during the night, with most of the fires believed to be caused by lightning.

Tulsa Parks were affected by the storms. Loss of power at Parks swimming pools and recreation centers forced closures of pools and summer day camps until power can be restored. The Lacy, McClure, Reed and Central Park recreation centers and the Waterworks studio are closed.

Lacy, McClure, Reed and Whiteside Parks pools had no power.

The Tulsa Garden Center was also closed because of trees blocking driveways.

Tulsa Police were on duty throughout the night patrolling neighborhoods and business areas where power was out and alarm systems were not functioning. Police Chief Chuck Jordan said police officers also helped remove debris from streets.

You can report outages or hazardous conditions to PSO online.

PSO's morning update:

Public Service Company of Oklahoma (PSO)

Storm Outage Update #1

(NOTE: This e-mail is being sent to PSO employees whose responsibilities include communicating with external audiences such as emergency management officials, local elected officials and state regulatory commissions. Please share the information below with your contacts as appropriate.)

Storm Response Update: Wednesday, July 24, 2013 - 10:30 a.m.

PSO is dealing with significant weather-related power outages across the Tulsa metropolitan area due to a severe thunderstorm packing 60-80 mph winds that struck in the early morning hours.


Tulsa District

As of 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, July 24, approximately 93,000 customers in the Tulsa metro area were without electric service. Customer outages are most numerous in the southwestern portion of the metro area.

At present, PSO has approximately 370 line and tree workers focused on restoring power in the Tulsa metro area. An additional 1,030 workers from other AEP companies and other utilities have been requested to support restoration efforts.

At this early stage in the storm recovery PSO is still assessing damage to the electric system while working to make repairs and restore power. Initial assessment found that there are a number of Distribution poles that are damaged along with several Transmission structures. Currently, 93 main feeder lines are out of operation. PSO hopes to complete damage assessment later today.

Also, later today PSO hopes to issue a "global" estimate of when power will be restored to all customers who are able to take power. That initial estimated time for restoration will be updated as the storm recovery work progresses.


  • Customers should prepare for a multi-day power outage and are urged to take necessary steps to ensure their health and safety while PSO works to restore power.
  • For safety's sake, assume that any downed utility line is energized with deadly electric current. Stay away from the line and do not touch it with anything. Report it to PSO at 1-888-216-3523.


We will continue to provide additional information to you as the restoration effort moves forward.

A "snapshot" view of current outages is available anytime at PSOklahoma.com. Go to the Outages and Problems section of the site and click "View Outage Map."

Next Update: 07/24/2013 - Approximately 4:30 p.m.

You'll be touched and encouraged by two very different stories linked by a common theme: People who are serving as God's hands to heal the brokenhearted and bind up their wounds.

The Folds of Honor Foundation's cottage at Crosstimbers Marina, dedicated Memorial Day weekend, welcomes its first guests this weekend, the widow and children of Technical Sergeant Jason Norton. They will enjoy the peaceful atmosphere on the shore of Skiatook Lake free of charge as guests of the Owasso-based foundation, which also provides scholarships to military children. Our family attended the dedication of the Folds of Honor cottage on Memorial Day weekend; it is a beautiful setting.

Crosstimbers Marina, with the help of countless volunteers and donors, built the cottage for military families to enjoy.

"The vast majority of this $350,000 furnished cottage all came from donations, and so Green Country is a wonderful place," said Ron Howell, of Crosstimbers Marina....

"Psychological problems have always been a difficulty of war, but this one has been a particularly horrific one to go through," Howell said.

The honor cottage is intended to help military families who've lost loved ones, or injured military men and women and their families, to enjoy a peaceful, relaxing setting, while getting their minds off what they've been through.

"Not so much about war and the terrors of war, but more about there is a normal world again, and here's a way to return to it," Howell said.

TSgt Norton was killed in the line of duty in 2006 while escorting a convoy in Iraq, giving his own life for the protection of others.

A view of Skiatook Lake from the Folds of Honor Cottage at Crosstimbers Marina

In Philadelphia last week, Dawn Eden, author of My Peace I Give You: Healing Sexual Wounds with the Help of the Saints, spoke at the graduation of Project Dawn Court, an alternative justice and rehabilitation program that aims to break women free from the chains of prostitution and enmeshment in the criminal justice system. The program involves substance-abuse and sexual-trauma counseling. Her speech was a follow-on to a talk she gave at the women's jail in Philadelphia. She learned from the public defender that women in prostitution are often the victims of childhood sexual abuse and that homelessness is often the deciding factor that turns an abuse victim into a prostitute.

Dawn spoke about her own experience of childhood sexual abuse and about the power of God that has worked healing in her life, a healing that extends to painful memories:

I used to think that the only way I could heal from the pain of my past was by simply blocking out my memories of the past. But I found that if I tried to block out the past completely, it would come back in painful ways - through flashbacks, or nightmares. What I have learned over time, and what I want to share with you, is that memory is not the enemy.

The key to healing is not to forget your past, but to find moments in your past when someone did something kind for you, when someone protected you, when someone smiled at you, when someone performed an act of love for you without expecting anything in return. If you cannot find a moment when another human being showed you kindness or love, find a moment where you could have lost your life - but you didn't. And when you remember that, know that it was no accident that your life was saved. Your being alive today is no accident. God loves you, and God has sustained you all your life, even in the midst of evil, because He wanted to bring you to this beautiful new day.

So find those good memories, and build your identity upon them. Because your identity is as a beautiful and beloved daughter of God. Thank you and God bless you.

I'm reminded of the verse Dawn used in the dedication of her first book (The Thrill of the Chaste), referring to those who worked for her firing from the New York Post, Genesis 50:20: "As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today." Her next-to-last paragraph echoes a Hebrew blessing to which she introduced me many years ago, Shehecheyanu.

Blessed art Thou, Lord Our God, King of the Universe, who has granted us life, sustained us, and brought us to this day.


You can support Folds of Honor Foundation, helping them to provide scholarships to the children of fallen American servicemen and servicewomen and to build and furnish more cottages and havens for these families.

Dawn Eden is working toward a doctorate with the aim of teaching theology at the collegiate level. Earlier this year she completed the first step in the process, a Bachelor of Sacred Theology degree. She accepts PayPal donations to fund travel to give talks like the one she gave at the Project Dawn Court graduation. If you'd like to fund her ministry, you can donate here.

We've lost two more western swing greats in the last couple of weeks.

Tulsa fiddler and vocalist Julian "Curly" Lewis died Sunday at the age of 88. Lewis spent much of his career with Johnnie Lee Wills's band in the late '40s and '50s, but he also toured and performed with Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys, Hank Thompson and His Brazos Valley Boys, and Leon McAuliffe's Cimarron Boys.

A memorial service for Curly Lewis will be held at Cain's Ballroom on Saturday, August 3, 2013.

(Read western swing historian John Wooley's July 2011 profile of Curly Lewis in Oklahoma Magazine.)

Lewis performed at the first gala of the National Fiddlers Hall of Fame in 2007 and was inducted as a member last year. In addition to his work as a fiddler, he had a fine singing voice and contributed lead vocals on many songs for Johnnie Lee Wills and His Boys. Here's Curly Lewis singing one of my grandmother's favorite tunes, "Thingamajig":

Click through for a video of Curly Lewis performing the classic fiddle tune "Don't Let the Deal Go Down" at the 1998 Bob Wills Day celebrations in Turkey, Texas.

As far as I know, Maurice "Reece" Anderson was the only pedal steel guitar player that Bob Wills ever hired. (Leon McAuliffe, Herb Remington, et al. played lap or console steel with no pedals.) Anderson died on July 4.

In the early '60s, Bob Wills had two steel guitar players -- Gene Crownover on console steel, Reece Anderson on pedal steel. Both get a chorus on this version of Billy Jack Wills's "Rockabye Baby Blues":

And more recently, here's Reece Anderson playing the steel classic "Sleepwalk":

Leadership Tulsa executive director Wendy Thomas, writing on Facebook back in late May 2013:

Hannibal B. Johnson and I got to visit with a delegation of non profit directors and consultants from Belarus yesterday sponsored by the Tulsa Global Alliance. One of them posed and interesting question. He said they knew a lot about American life from our American films and TV but pointed out how infrequently those films depict or charity/non profit organizations and wondered why that was, especially since it seems to be such a large part of our national identity. Never thought about it before. Any ideas?

Thinking about it now, a couple of months later, I'm inclined to blame the disconnect between Hollywood and the rest of America. Massive amounts of money not only insulate you from the consequences of your bad behavior but also from the need to depend on voluntary communities to help you get through life. You don't need family, you don't need mutual support, mutual submission, or voluntary cooperation, because you can buy what you need and want without the need to negotiate. Naturally, then, Hollywood would be blind to the way churches, extended families, fraternal organizations, mutual-aid societies, and other non-profits enrich the lives they touch. Hollywood would believe that the problems they solve with money can only be solved by money, and naturally they would see the state providing that money. To the extent they think about community and family and voluntary associations, they would likely see those mediating institutions as suppressive of individuality, demanding conformity to group norms as a condition of assistance.

Thomas also wrote:

Our national spirit is especially evident this week in light of the tragedy in Moore. The other thing that always strikes me about our charitable spirit is that it is not limited to people of great wealth. In fact, I believe I have read that people with more modest incomes give a greater amount as a percentage of the income. Volunteer Tulsa also would have stats about volunteerism.

Author Hannibal Johnson replied to Thomas's post:

I really enjoyed meeting the delegation from Belarus. I found them to be professionally astute and intellectually curious. They also helped me better appreciate the civil society infrastructure we too often take for granted. They talked about working in an environment with few resources and a lack of government support (indeed, often, affirmative government opposition). The kind of government support (tax exemptions for nonprofits and tax-deductibility of contribution to nonprofits) and private sector backing that seems so natural here is all but absent in Belarus. That makes what these folks are doing all the more impressive.

Sometimes it takes a stranger to point out what's all around us. Alexis de Tocqueville noticed the same thing about America circa 1830.

Alexis de Tocqueville, who visited America in 1831:

Americans of all ages, all conditions, all minds constantly unite. Not only do they have commercial and industrial associations in which all take part, but they also have a thousand other kinds: religious, moral, grave, futile, very general and very particular, immense and very small; Americans use associations to give fêtes, to found seminaries, to build inns, to raise churches, to distribute books, to send missionaries to the antipodes; in this manner they create hospitals, prisons, schools. Finally, if it is a question of bringing to light a truth or developing a sentiment with the support of a great example, they associate. Everywhere that, at the head of a new undertaking, you see the government in France and a great lord in England, count on it that you will perceive an association in the United States.

From an American Enterprise Institute report on de Tocqueville and the development of civil society in China:

An important function of civic and political organizations is to educate individuals about being citizens in a free society. Such groups may also form alliances with like-minded organizations in order to lobby the government or coordinate their advocacy messages. Shared interests among civic groups are a natural precursor to the development of political associations. But civic associations--reservoirs of social capital though they may be--cannot promote liberalism or sustain political freedom on their own.

Furthermore, social capital does not become political capital as readily as some groups may hope. To understand the dynamic between civic and political associations, it is helpful to consider two different types of regimes. The first is real totalitarian despotism, in which every organization is a tool of state. The second is the corporatist authoritarian model, in which many common interest activities or advocacy groups are allowed to exist until they become problematic--either by challenging the system of government or making a claim to justice. For example, the Chinese government, as a corporate authoritarian regime, may tolerate an environmental group that is calling attention to a particular ecological plight. The state's patience would likely run out, however, if the same group were to challenge a specific CCP environmental policy.

The notion that civil society activity portends liberal political progress is problematic, if Tocqueville is right. Even for those groups that operate with relative autonomy, it seems that the process of self-governance only provides a lesson in good-neighborliness, rather than promoting the tendencies necessary for liberalism. Indeed, it is reasonable to presume that a stable corporatist authoritarian state could sustain a vibrant, yet contained civil society--one in which individuals and organizations are active but lack the compulsion to develop political agendas.

Then again, some civic groups are inherently troublesome to despotic regimes. It is not an accident that religious groups have been intimately involved in political revolutions throughout history. Religious groups feature an inherent call to justice, posing an automatic challenge to repressive systems. Universities, as generators of new ideas are also perennial threats to authoritarian regimes. The same can be said of newspapers, which can spin small ideas into bigger issues, and ethnic minorities, through whom one idea can be promulgated among a broader group of people. To understand the future role of civil society in China, it will be important to examine the nature of prominent civic associations and identify the terms on which they engage with the regime. Are they simply seeking the redress of minor grievances? Are they providing a benign service or forum that the state cannot? Or are they calling attention to systemic flaws in the state's model of governance?

In his Ancien Regime, Tocqueville's native France provides the basis for a study of civil society, as he seeks to understand the forces which had, prior to the revolution, managed to stifle all attempts at civic association. In poring over state documents from the pre-Revolutionary era, Tocqueville comes to understand the vast bureaucratic schemes which had prevented civic engagement and political activity. He further finds that the Revolution had adopted the same despotic features of the Old Order, again undermining the incentive for French citizens to create and engage in such civic life.

Writing on June 18, 2013, in the Wall Street Journal, Niall Ferguson worried that the American distinctive of civil society and self-organization is dying, replaced by a growing dependence on government, that America is moving away from the qualities de Tocqueville admired and toward the conditions of which de Tocqueville warned:

Tocqueville would not recognize America today. Indeed, so completely has associational life collapsed, and so enormously has the state grown, that he would be forced to conclude that, at some point between 1833 and 2013, France must have conquered the United States.

The decline of American associational life was memorably documented in Robert Puttnam's seminal 1995 essay "Bowling Alone," which documented the exodus of Americans from bowling leagues, Rotary clubs and the like. Since then, the downward trend in "social capital" has only continued. According to the 2006 World Values Survey, active membership even of religious associations has declined from just over half the population to little more than a third (37%). The proportion of Americans who are active members of cultural associations is down to 14% from 24%; for professional associations the figure is now just 12%, compared with more than a fifth in 1995. And, no, Facebook is not a substitute.

Instead of joining together to get things done, Americans have increasingly become dependent on Washington. On foreign policy, it may still be true that Americans are from Mars and Europeans from Venus. But when it comes to domestic policy, we all now come from the same place: Planet Government....

Genius that he was, Tocqueville saw this transformation of America coming. Toward the end of "Democracy in America" he warned against the government becoming "an immense tutelary power . . . absolute, detailed, regular . . . cover[ing] [society's] surface with a network of small, complicated, painstaking, uniform rules through which the most original minds and the most vigorous souls cannot clear a way."

Tocqueville also foresaw exactly how this regulatory state would suffocate the spirit of free enterprise: "It rarely forces one to act, but it constantly opposes itself to one's acting; it does not destroy, it prevents things from being born; it does not tyrannize, it hinders, compromises, enervates, extinguishes, dazes, and finally reduces [the] nation to being nothing more than a herd of timid and industrious animals of which the government is the shepherd."

If that makes you bleat with frustration, there's still hope.

Hat tip to The Political Hat, who writes:

America's strength lies in its civic virtue, in particular the ability of the people to take upon themselves the duty and privilege of maintaining economic and social order, and to cherish and protect our values and heritage. It is this free interaction of free individuals to voluntarily associate their combined power, that gives us the freedom and capacity to meet the our needs and the needs of others, and to create a society that does not require the pseudo-benevolent hand of Leviathan....

Indeed, we are quickly turning into the France that de Tocqueville contrasted America to. Instead of initiative, creativeness, and virtue, we are subject to the whims of government. Rather then some type of lens through which the "volonté générale" is focused, the government has become "a system of relief operating from such a distance... bound to be capricious, sometimes misdirected, and always quite inadequate."

The civic basis of our society is thus rent asunder, such that the government assumes all the functions that were previously reserved for free men, thus diminishing those free men into dependent nouveau serfs. We do not loose these freedoms necessarily because we are explicitly forced into serfdom, but because "when the head becomes too swollen, the body develops apoplexy."

A few thoughts:

I'm disheartened by the outraged reaction from my liberal friends, who are certain that justice was denied, and that a racist murderer has been set free. NBC, CNN, President Obama, and other public figures and opinionators did race relations and common sense in America a grave disservice in the way they depicted the event, distorted the available evidence, and framed it as a racially motivated killing. If you stopped listening and made up your mind at that point, I can understand why you'd be outraged by Zimmerman's acquittal.

But the testimony in the trial, from both prosecution and defense witnesses, paints a very different picture. Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch captain in an gated townhome community that had experienced several recent burglaries, noticed an unfamiliar man, dressed to match the description of suspects in those crimes. He called 911, described the person, tried to keep him under observation, and requested that the police check out the situation. Meanwhile, Trayvon Martin was on the phone with a friend, complaining that he was being followed by a "creepy-ass cracker." Rather than call 911 and report a stalker, rather than get back to the townhome where he was staying as soon as possible, it appears that Martin chose to confront Zimmerman, wrestling him to the ground and beating Zimmerman's head against the pavement. One witness said it looked like a mixed-martial arts move called "ground and pound." Zimmerman, pinned to the ground, had no means escape, feared for his life, and shot.

Zimmerman is from a mixed-race family and was an outspoken supporter and organizer on behalf of a black homeless man who had been mistreated by local police. He supported President Obama's election. Yet he has been portrayed as a racist who stalked and killed Martin because of his race.

An NBC edit of the 911 call gave the impression that Zimmerman volunteered the race of the person he was watching. In fact, Zimmerman only identified race in response to a question from the dispatcher. NBC retracted the edited version and fired those responsible.

CNN transcribed a comment on the 911 call, putting an old-fashioned, seldom-heard, four-letter racial epithet in Zimmerman's mouth. Monosyllables can be easy to mishear, particularly on distorted low-bandwidth recordings, and once an authoritative source like CNN asserts the identification of an authoritative word, it's hard to hear it as anything else. But CNN later retracted their transcript, and concluded that Zimmerman had said, "It's f***ing cold." Others believe he said, "F***ing punks." But by the time the correction was made, many had already pegged Zimmerman as a racist vigilante and were beyond persuasion.

The use of years-old photos of Zimmerman and Martin also shaped public opinion in a way that framed Zimmerman as a hateful, racist thug who should have had no reason to see baby-faced Martin as a suspicious character.

However the confrontation began, once it advanced to Martin straddling and beating Zimmerman (as corroborated by eyewitnesses and Zimmerman's injuries), it became a matter of self-defense for Zimmerman. All the preliminaries became irrelevant at that point to Zimmerman's guilt or innocence. Zimmerman said he believed his life was in danger, believed Martin would grab Zimmerman's gun and use it against him, so Zimmerman grabbed the gun and shot.

Wikipedia has a detailed, heavily footnoted, and dispassionate summary of the evidence and varying accounts of the incident. Will Saletan at Slate describes the case as a tragedy of misperception and overreaction by both Zimmerman and Martin. The New York Times has a series of aerial photos showing the progression and location of events leading to the shooting.

This case has been portrayed as being about race in America, but there's no evidence that racial animus drove Zimmerman's actions. But if Martin did in fact confront Zimmerman and initiate the struggle that led to the shooting, I have to wonder if Martin's response to Zimmerman's surveillance was conditioned by the racial grievance industry and a chip-on-the-shoulder attitude that he owed no one an explanation of who he was and why he belonged there.

Some may say that, as a white man, I am blind to the realities of race in America, and the suspicion that surrounds blacks, particularly young black men. But as a man, particularly as a man who wears a beard, I am continually aware that my presence in an unfamiliar place could be a source of worry to others, and that my expression, gait, demeanor, and dress can either reassure or stoke fears.

My favorite form of exercise is walking, and I would much rather walk through a historic neighborhood admiring homes than perambulate an oval indoor track. I'm interested in cities and neighborhoods and development, and when I travel I like to walk or drive through interesting areas and take pictures. I know that my strolling and staring and picture-taking may trigger worries, and that I need to be ready to give a calm and confident answer to anyone who questions what I'm up to.

In 2008, I was driving back from visiting relatives near Lawrence, Kansas, at night. As I passed through downtown Ottawa, I was taken by the beautiful neon of the Plaza Theater and stopped (no one behind me) to roll down the window to take a photo. A police officer spotted me and pulled me over. He asked me what I was drinking (Diet Coke) and why I was taking pictures. He thought I might be casing the jewelry store next door to the theater. I was tired and a bit shaken up, but I answered him calmly, and my calm demeanor, along with the sleeping toddler in the back seat in his car seat, set the officer at ease, and I proceeded onward to my destination. What if, instead, I had been incensed at his unwarranted inference, and had responded with hostility?

I recall another occasion many years earlier, when I worked at Burtek. I would sometimes pick up some lunch at a drive-thru (usually Lee's Chicken, Arby's, or Burger Street) and drive to McClure Park, about a half-mile from work, find a shady spot to park the car, and I'd eat, read the paper, and listen to Paul Harvey on KRMG (or if I was late getting away to lunch, KGGF's later broadcast) on the car radio. Once I parked under a tree along the south side of 7th Street, the northern boundary of the park. I noticed a woman who appeared to be from a nearby house striding with determination toward my car. She shot me a nasty look, walked around behind my car, and made a show of writing down my license plate number. I don't recall how I reacted, but I think I asked in a loud voice if there was a problem. She simply walked away. It was odd, but I figured out later that there must have been a burglary or some other suspicious activity nearby, and my presence marked me as a suspect. I think I avoided parking on 7th for a time after that, even though I had every right to park there and there were some very nice shade trees to park under. I didn't want to give anyone a reason to suspect me of wrongdoing.

If I find myself walking down a street with just one person ahead of me, particularly if the other person is female, I will adjust my pace or even cross the street to make it clear to the other person that I'm not going to approach. It's a matter of being considerate and thoughtful of the way my actions will be viewed by others.

Trayvon Martin didn't deserve to die for seeming to be suspicious and that wasn't why he died. He died because of a fight in which he physically beat another person and put the other person in fear for his life. A simple "can I help you?" followed by a gentle explanation would have avoided the confrontation, the fight, and the shooting.

MORE: Robert Stacy McCain reports that Martin's possession of stolen goods and marijuana were treated as disciplinary incidents rather than juvenile crime, in an effort by school police officials to reduce the Miami school district's crime stats:

Both of Trayvon's suspensions during his junior year at Krop High involved crimes that could have led to his prosecution as a juvenile offender. However, Chief Charles Hurley of the Miami-Dade School Police Department (MDSPD) in 2010 had implemented a policy that reduced the number of criiminal reports, manipulating statistics to create the appearance of a reduction in crime within the school system. Less than two weeks before Martin's death, the school system commended Chief Hurley for "decreasing school-related juvenile delinquency by an impressive 60 percent for the last six months of 2011." What was actually happening was that crimes were not being reported as crimes, but instead treated as disciplinary infractions.

McCain says that, had Martin been taken into custody as a juvenile offender in Miami, he would not have been in Sanford, Florida. Instead, he was suspended from school, and he was sent to stay with his father's girlfriend in Sanford.

Breitbart.com reports that Obama's Department of Justice provided logistical support for anti-Zimmerman protests in Florida.


I missed this, but Detective Christopher Serino testified that George Zimmerman responded with relief when told Serino mentioned that the altercation may have been captured on video:

Defense attorney Mark O'Mara questioned Serino about Zimmerman's fourth interview with police, when Serino teamed up with Officer Doris Singleton for a more aggressive line of questioning.

Serino stated that, during that interview, he suggested to Zimmerman there were surveillance cameras in the area of the shooting that could have captured the attack.

Zimmerman responded, "Thank God, I was hoping somebody videotaped it."

Singleton, also present during the interview, testified that she did not find any significant differences between Zimmerman's oral and written statements, and found no evidence Zimmerman had any ill will, spite or hatred toward Martin. Singleton added that Zimmerman appeared to be in shock when he learned that Martin was dead.

This YouTube video has the relevant section of Serino's testimony beginning at 30:38. And Legal Insurrection has a detailed account of Serino's testimony.

A year ago, Jack Cashill published a detailed timeline of Trayvon Martin's last hour, based on the 7-11 surveillance camera and phone records.

bartcenterlogo.pngMod's Coffee and Crepes is donating 25% of its Thursday, July 11, 2013, sales from 4 pm to 10 pm to The bART Center for Music, formerly known as the Barthelmes Conservatory of Music.

The bART Center includes a music school -- a seven-year program for students with the musical aptitude to perform classical music as a career -- a music center for those of all ages interested in learning an instrument, and a summer camp "School of Rock."

modscrepeslogo.pngMod's Coffee and Crepes is in the Philcade Building in downtown Tulsa, on the east side of Boston between 5th Street and 6th Street. Mod's offers crepes with savory fillings (e.g., smoked salmon, pesto chicken parmesan) and sweet (e.g., Nutella, banana pudding, s'mores), many flavors of gelato, baked goods, and a full line of coffee drinks. Mod's dining area extends into the stunning, gilded, Art Deco lobby of the Philcade; that alone is worth the price of a crepe.

A story about Tulsan Neil Mavis's ambition to bring the 2024 Summer Olympics to Tulsa made the front page of the Monday, July 1, 2013, New York Times.

Mavis was the Libertarian nominee for the 2nd Congressional District in 2000 and was the only independent candidate in the 2002 1st Congressional District special election. (Mavis was still a Libertarian, but the party had lost its ballot access in Oklahoma because of its poor showing in the 2000 presidential election in the state, so Mavis could only be listed as independent.) In the fall of 2002, Mavis was the Republican nominee for House District 66.

I applaud Mavis's dream of bringing the Olympics to Tulsa without spending tax dollars, although I have my doubts about the feasibility of the plan, or even the desirability of hosting the Olympics. Olympic games tend to leave behind facilities that have no further use after the torch is snuffed. What would Tulsa do with an 80,000 seat stadium after the games are over?

Some of you may be old enough to remember when Colorado voters defeated a bond issue to support the 1976 Winter Olympics, which had been awarded to Denver. Much of the opposition came from residents and conservationists who didn't want the impact of the Olympics on their beloved mountains. The Olympics' backup plan was Innsbruck, Austria, which had hosted the games just 12 years earlier.

Reporter Mary Pilon tries to depict the challenge before Tulsa numerically, but she focuses on City of Tulsa numbers, when Green Country or statewide Oklahoma numbers would be more appropriate. Mavis is right to point out that the Atlanta games extended across Georgia -- sailing was held 200 miles away at Savannah, football (soccer) matches were held all over the South and as far north as RFK stadium, and slalom canoeing was held up in Tennessee's Smoky Mountains. But most of the events were held in Metro Atlanta.

And maybe, in a time of austerity around the world, the International Olympic Committee would consider an Olympiad with fewer live spectators and smaller venues. The Olympic host city simply provides the sound stage for a two-week television spectacular. The people in the stands are incidental.

I had to laugh at Pilon's suggestion that Tulsa has become a sports town. The minor league baseball team does draw pretty well, better most nights than the "major league" WNBA Tulsa Shock.

UPDATE: Dewey Bartlett Jr and the Tulsa Sports Commission (a branch of the Metropolitan Tulsa Metro Regional Chamber of Commerce announced Tuesday, a day after this article appeared in the New York Times, that Tulsa is not competing for the 2024 Olympics. Candidate committees must have the support of the host city's local government, and Mavis had that official designation from Bartlett Jr, even though he wasn't asking for government support to make this happen. They didn't even invite Mavis to the press conference for the announcement. If you're a dreamer, but you're not tight with the Chamber/Bartlett Jr/Taylor crowd, under the bus you go. The only pie-covered face belongs to Bartlett Jr, who made a commitment (see memo below) and backed down from it. Question for the reader: Who yanked Bartlett Jr's chain to back him off his support for the Tulsa 2024 effort?


May 16, 2013, memo from Bartlett Jr designating Neil Mavis as City of Tulsa's representative and authorizing official city business cards:

Dear Mr. Mavis:

On March 19,2013, pursuant to my authority as Mayor, I designated both you and Clay Bird to the United States Olympic Committee ("USOC") as my authorized representatives, and also, designated you as my primary point of contact with the USOC to advance the City of Tulsa's interest in bidding for the 2024 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games. On April 3, 2013, the USOC's Chief Executive Officer acknowledged such designation by informing me that the USOC would "follow-up accordingly with Mr. Mavis on additional information regarding the scope, concept and TOC (International Olympic Committee) technical requirements."

By this letter, I am further designating both you and Clay Bird as the City's ad hoc "2024
Summer Games Exploratory Committee," the membership of which may be expanded in the future, as necessary. Solely with respect to your efforts in advancing the City's interest in 2024 Summer Games bid, you are hereby authorized to utilize the Corporate Seal of the City of Tulsa embossed upon a business card, containing only the language and information, as follows:

Neil Mavis
Office of the Mayor
City of Tulsa Summer Games Exploratory Committee
175 East 2nd Street
Tulsa, Oklahoma 74103
Phone: 918-645-1645
Email: neilmavis@gmail.com

On behalf of the City, I appreciate your efforts to obtain the 2024 Summer Games aod wish you the best of luck regarding your continuing endeavor in this regard.

Best regards,

Dewey F. Bartlett, Jr.

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