February 2016 Archives

Fans of Ted Cruz's opponents have been spreading a lot of misinformation designed to dissuade homeschoolers and evangelicals from backing Cruz. They're trying to make him out to be so naive or dishonest as to invite federal interference in homeschooling. They're also claiming that he's the minion of a kooky cult that will frighten general election voters and lead to Republican defeat if Cruz is the nominee.

One of the issues they've raised is Cruz's sponsorship, with Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, of Senate Bill 306. Cruz's detractors are claiming that the bill would set the stage for federal regulation of homeschooling. RedState's Strieff thinks this is ridiculous:

The crux of the issue: the Coverdell Education Savings Account. The Coverdell ESA works much like one of the standard 529 plans with this major exception: it allows you to set aside money that can be withdrawn tax free for high school and elementary school expenses. This is where homeschooling takes place and you can incur non-trivial expenses if you are homeschooling. Fourteen states have provided guidance that affirmatively define homeschooling as being the equivalent of elementary through high school education. Thirty-six states, however, are silent on the issue.

Why is this important. If you have a tax audit in one of those 36 states and you are a homeschool family that has set up a Coverdell ESA you will find yourself having to prove that your plan is allowed and that you aren't liable for taxes and penalties. You may prevail. You may not. But it will be a stressful, expensive, and non-productive exercise. Moreover, a discrepancy like this allows the IRS to engage in rule-making and, given what we've seen of how they treat anything that looks vaguely conservative, they could very well put the plans off limits to homeschooling parents.

You may not have a Coverdell ESA, but perhaps, like me, you have a Health Savings Account. With an HSA, you set up an account with a bank of your choosing, you deposit your own money into the account, you use the checkbook or debit card on that account to pay for doctor's visits, lab work, urgent care, and prescriptions. When you file your taxes for the year, you get to deduct the amount you paid into the HSA from your taxable income. If you happen to be audited, you have to be able to produce receipts showing that the money you took out of the account was used only to pay for medical expenses.

A Coverdell ESA works much the same way, but the qualified expenses are things like tuition and fees, books, tutoring, and school uniforms. An important difference: Unlike HSA contributions, contributions to a Coverdell ESA are not tax-deductible. The main financial benefit is that any interest accruing on the account is not taxable.

Regarding qualified expenses, the key phrase is "in connection with enrollment or attendance at an eligible elementary or secondary school." Who determines eligibility? According to IRS Publication 970, it's the state. "This is any public, private, or religious school that provides elementary or secondary education (kindergarten through grade 12), as determined under state law."

Where state law explicitly defines homeschools as private schools, it's clear that Coverdell ESA funds can be spent on the aforementioned expenses. Where homeschooling is allowed, but not defined by state law as a private school, there's enough ambiguity to make it risky for homeschoolers to use Coverdell accounts for expenses. Cruz's S. 306 tells the IRS: Homeschool families can use their own ESA money for educational expenses, even if in a state that doesn't explicitly define a home school as a private school.

A story on The Resurgent quotes Will Estrada, director of federal relations for the Home School Legal Defense Association, explaining a possible source of confusion:

"In some ways [a Coverdell account] is actually even better than a tax credit or tax deduction, because those require you to show documentation to the IRS. The Coverdell has your own money in it; it isn't something the IRS needs documentation for," Estrada explained. "It is even more safe, if you will, from government regulation, than a tax credit."

Estrada optimistically thinks that part of the confusion over Cruz's stance on home education comes from the nature of S.306. The bill has several unrelated sections, some of which deal exclusively with a federal program that home schooling families are not eligible for, and that could be where casual readers of the legislation might conflate the Coverdell education savings account portion with the federal program portion of the bill.

HSLDA has an explainer on Coverdell ESAs and S. 306 on its own website.

The other popular topic among those seeking to undermine Ted Cruz's support among evangelicals is claiming that he is an adherent of "7 Mountains Dominionism."

I have yet to find any occurrence of Ted Cruz mentioning 7 Mountains, but for the sake of argument, let's suppose he has some connection to the "7 Mountains" concept. What is it exactly, and is it a cult or theocratic in some way?

"7 Mountains" is a concept of cultural influence that was first articulated back in the 1970s by Bill Bright, founder of the evangelical campus ministry Campus Crusade for Christ, Loren Cunningham of Youth with a Mission, and Christian philosopher Francis Schaeffer. I say "concept" because I find a number of organizations that make use of the concept, sometimes incorporating into their name. Nomenclature varies: "7 Mountains of Influence," "7 Cultural Mountains," "Seven Spheres of Influence."

The list of seven varies somewhat as well. Here's the list from 7culturalmountains.org: business, government, media, arts and entertainment, education, the family, and religion.

The common thread of thinking is that, while Christians were once involved and prominent in these spheres of influence, during the 20th century, they withdrew under pressure as the Left carried out its "Long March through the Institutions." Large groups of evangelical Christians created their own parallel institutions and ceased to be engaged in the broader mainstream culture, resulting in a further loss of influence in society.

Because Christian ideas about human nature and moral behavior are grounded in God's revelation to mankind in the Bible, these ideas are aligned with reality, while competing secular notions are not. To the extent that cultural institutions reflect and reinforce a true understanding of human nature, a society will be peaceful and prosperous, to the benefit of everyone, even those of other faiths or no faith at all. (Kind of like herd immunity, which protects even the unvaccinated.) But when false ideas about human nature are dominant, the natural consequence is societal chaos.

The 7 Mountains concept is that Christians should pursue careers in the mainstream of society, to be "salt and light" in the world -- an allusion to Jesus' words to his followers in the Sermon on the Mount. There's nothing "dominionist" about the idea. From this perspective, a career in the "secular" world is just as much a divine vocation as working as a full-time religious minister. (This is an understanding of vocation that was recovered during the Protestant Reformation but has faded over the intervening centuries.)

The aim is influence, not compulsion. The FAQ page at 7culturalmountains.org does a good job of explaining the difference:

Q: Is the Reclaiming the 7 Mountains strategy about Christians taking over?

A: No, it is about encouraging Christians to serve the culture by solving societal problems through love, compassion and service as following the example of Jesus Christ. It is about serving those in key cultural spheres that the Church has abandoned. The original mandate in Genesis 1 calls for Adam and Even to exercise stewardship over the earth as God's representative. However, when Adam and Eve fell this mandate could only be restored through the death of Jesus (Luke 19:10, Col. 1:19). We do not believe Christians are to control the world or seek to have a utopia in society. However, we do believe we are called to serve the culture as we live out our faith to be salt and light in all aspects of society.

Christians are not called to extend God's kingdom by means of the sword of the invading army or the sword of the ruler. (That's the way Islam extends its reach, because its "god" is a weakling.) But Christians are called to love our neighbors, to make the most of our skills and abilities, and to be witnesses for Christ in the world.

As I said, I have not found any occurrence of Ted Cruz mentioning the 7 Mountains concept, but it wouldn't bother me if he had. Cruz is certainly living out the ideal of loving God and his neighbor by developing and applying his gifts in a field of cultural significance. All Americans would be blessed with Ted Cruz in the White House.

Ted Cruz returns to Tulsa

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Ted Cruz speaks to Tulsa rally (SX021020)

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz returned to Tulsa today for his third visit of the 2016 presidential campaign. Despite the short notice and the early starting time -- 12:30pm, barely after most churches end their Sunday services -- Cruz drew a crowd of about 3,000 to Tulsa's Central Park Hall. The stop was the first of three events in the state today ahead of Tuesday's primary.

Crowd at Tulsa Ted Cruz rally (SX020958)

In his 30-minute speech, Cruz said that his campaign was about three things: jobs, freedom, and security. His discussion of jobs included extensive mention of immigration policy -- the job-killing aspects of illegal immigration and excessive use of foreign guest workers. The immigration problem was also mentioned in the security section, in which Cruz reaffirmed his opposition to citizenship for anyone here illegally.

Citing the verse from Ecclesiastes that there is nothing new under the sun, Cruz drew a parallel with the economic and foreign policy challenges faced by the nation in the 1970s -- "same failed economic policies, same feckless and naive foreign policies," and even the same countries involved -- then as now, Russia and Iran are mocking our leaders. But Cruz found hope in the comparison: "We remember how that story ended," with Ronald Reagan's election, a revolution that came from the American people and turned the country around.

In his concluding paragraphs, Cruz told the crowd that Oklahoma is a battleground -- he's running neck and neck here with Trump. While 65% of Republicans nationally say that Trump is the wrong candidate to face Hillary Clinton, supporters of other candidates have to pull together to beat him. Cruz said that his was the only campaign in a position to beat Trump on Super Tuesday. He urged supporters to devote these last 48 hours to the campaign, to use social media and to pick up the phone to call friends and neighbors and urge them to vote for Cruz on Tuesday.

For a full 20 minutes after the speech, Cruz worked the crowd, shaking hands and posing for photos. A veteran political observer on hand pointed out that no other candidate makes himself as available to the public as Ted Cruz does.

Ted Cruz listens to voter following rally (SX021038.JPG)

Most of the speech was devoted to a substantive discussion of policy, organized around the three themes of jobs, freedom, and security.

To put Americans back to work, Cruz said, we need to lift off the jackboot of government from the necks of small business. As a replacement for the burdensome Obamacare regulation, Cruz called for health insurance that is personal and portable and that keeps government from getting between us and our doctors. Cruz called for a simple flat tax and the abolition of the IRS.

Cruz pointed out that immigration is also a jobs issue. When Arizona passed a tough immigration enforcement law, many illegal immigrants left the state on their own. As a result, the state had to spent hundreds of millions of dollars less, because it was no longer paying to educate and provide emergency room care for as many illegal immigrants. Arizona's unemployment rate dropped, and workers in the construction trades saw their wages go up.

Cruz said that both parties had failed us on immigration. Democrats see illegal immigrants as a source of new voters. Too many Republicans, listening to Wall Street and the U. S. Chamber of Commerce, see illegal immigrants as a source of cheap labor.

2013 was the time for choosing, when the "Gang of 8" bill -- which Cruz called the "Rubio Schumer Amnesty Bill" -- came before Congress. Rubio was sent out to evangelize for the bill to conservative media. (Trump was busy firing Dennis Rodman on Celebrity Apprentice at the time.)

Cruz reminded the audience of Trump's financial support for five members of the Gang of 8, part of a 40-year track record of funding open-borders Democrats, of the million-dollar court judgment against Trump for using illegal immigrant workers on the Trump Tower project, and of Trump's claim that he can't find Americans who want to work as waiters and waitresses.

Regarding security, Cruz said, "America has always been reluctant to use military force. We are slow to anger. But if and when military force is required, we should use overwhelming force, defeat the enemy, and get the heck out!"

Preceding the senator on the platform were State Rep. David Brumbaugh (R-Broken Arrow), Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John Doak, Congressman Jim Bridenstine, and national radio talk show host Glenn Beck.



Ted Cruz this morning on Face the Nation:

Why are the executives and employees of a Rogers County manufacturing company, many of whom don't live in Tulsa County, so passionate, so willing to give sacrificially in support of a candidate for Tulsa County Sheriff?

An odd thing about Vic Regalado's campaign contributions report: A surprising number of max or near-max donors to Regalado's campaign are associated with ISTI Plant Services: President, CFO, CIO, managers, supervisors.

Some examples: Glen Cole, "Compliance ISTI Plant Services," and Lisa Cole, both of 1610 E. 32nd Pl., valued at $201,500, each gave the maximum $2,700 to Regalado. Manuel Sigala, "Supervisor ISTI Plant Services," and Olga Sigala, both of 3836 W. Ft. Worth St., Broken Arrow, each gave $2,700 to Regalado. Their home has an appraised value of $165,000. Levi Gonzalez, whose job and employer are listed as "Purchasing ISTI Plant Services," and Jacquelyn Gonzalez, both of 1169 N. 172nd East Ave., each gave $2,500 to Regalado. That address has a Tulsa zip code but is in Rogers County and the Catoosa city limits, with an assessed market value of $187,256. Justin Gonzalez, "Supervisor ISTI Plant Services," and Jessica Bledsoe, both of 1143 N.171st East Ave., which has an assessed market value of $92,788, also each gave $2,500 to Regalado. It's unusual for wealthy people to max out for a candidate, particularly a local candidate. It's almost unheard of for middle-class people to give on the order of 2-5% of their home's value for any candidate.

By my count, ISTI Plant Services employees and their spouses/housemates contributed $42,050, or about 25% of Regalado's total, and all on February 12. That's quite a coincidence.

ISTI Plant Services has offices in a former wedding chapel on 21st Street west of Lynn Lane, but its principal manufacturing facility is at the Port of Catoosa in Rogers County. ISTI was originally an acronym for Insulation Specialists of Tulsa, Inc. From their "about" page, here's what ISTI Plant Services does:

From small single skid units to an 80 module Sulfur Recovery Unit processing 500,000 tons annually, ISTI Plant Services has vast experience in all types of field construction, including civil, structural, piping, fabrication, prep and painting, insulation, heavy rigging, instrumentation and electrical.

Our team of managers, supervisors and foremen has over 150 years of combined plant construction experience, and are committed to detail, precision and 24/7/365 customer service.

Not only do we build industrial plants, we also build solid partnerships with our clients. We are proud to enjoy a nationwide reputation of being uniquely capable, always allocating the right resources to the right job, while meeting our clients' budget and schedule.

Santiago Barraza, then listed as president of the company, was also a max donor to Tulsa City Councilor Connie Dodson, a max donor to Jeb Bush, and a max donor to T. W. Shannon, A. H. Strategies' candidate in the 2014 U. S. Senate race to replace Tom Coburn. Barraza also maxed out for Dewey Bartlett for Mayor in 2013, Judge Kurt Glassco's campaign for re-election in 2014, and Michael Brooks-Jimenez, 2014 Democrat candidate for Senate District 44. Barraza's name is listed as owner of 19 properties in Tulsa County, according to the Tulsa County Assessor's Office website. (UPDATE: Barraza also maxed out to Brian Crain for District Attorney, but his name was misspelled in the disclosure. Brian Crain's donors in the first quarter of 2014 also included a large number of generous ISTI executives and employees, many of whom live outside Tulsa County.)

Vic Regalado is clearly the Tulsa establishment's preferred candidate for Tulsa County sheriff. He has raised more funds than all of his opponents combined. Many people named Siegfried have given large amounts of money to his campaign. Regalado is a client of AH Strategies and Majority Designs. The near unanimity of Tulsa's insiders makes me wonder why they've chosen him and what they expect from him.

But what really has me puzzled is why so many people from one company, with no apparent political interest in the Tulsa County Sheriff's Office, would dig deep into their savings to support a candidate.

Many thanks to the Tulsa County Election Board for providing scans of the campaign contribution filings for the candidates in the special election for Tulsa County Sheriff.

(For a brief shining moment, campaign reports for candidates and committees in the state's largest counties were filed electronically with the Oklahoma Ethics Commission, just like candidates for statewide, legislative, and judicial offices. Evidently county officials didn't like that level of scrutiny, so we're back to handwritten, dead-tree reports. I appreciate Election Board staff dealing with all this extra work, particularly as they still have early voting and an election next Tuesday to produce.)

Notable vendors and donors are listed along with money raised and spent as of February 15. Vendors and donors are located in Tulsa County unless otherwise noted.


  • Rex Berry: 1/28/1950, 2300 Riverside #4A, Tulsa, OK 74114. Raised $2,820.00. Spent $1,904.20. Notable donors: Mary Ellen Jones ($500), Rex Berry ($350), George Krumme ($250), Heart of the Party FDWC PAC ($200). Notable vendors: Hardesty Press (printing).


  • John Fitzpatrick III: 5/18/1956, 8109 South 70th East Place, Tulsa, OK 74133. Raised $ 40,110.16. Spent $ 35,370.09. Notable donors: Mary Ann Townsend ($2,700), Joe Westervelt ($2,400), Jonathan LaRue ($2,000), Roger Chasteen ($1,500), HR Siegfried ($1,000), Charlie Stephenson ($1,000), Jonathan Helmerich ($500), Lou Reynolds ($500), John Cowan ($500), Sally McCoy ($500), William Fournet ($500). Notable vendors: The Woodland Group (campaign consulting), All Things Jeep, San Jose (signs), Signs Now (car signs), Walsh-Barnes Interactive (campaign consulting), Edge One Signs (signs), HPPC, Harrah OK (campaign consulting).
  • Tom Helm: 11/10/1972, 10 N Greenwood Ave N206, Tulsa, OK 74120. Raised $32,116.78. Spent $24,275.92. Notable donors: Linda Merbell ($2,500), Pete Kourtis ($2,000), Jake Reid ($2,000), Jeff Organ ($2,000), Greg Simmons ($2,000), Rouven Irom ($2,000), Farmer Sinclair ($1,250), Susan Kimball ($1,000), Terry Withers Adair, Coweta ($1,000), Alana Reed ($1,000), Michael Dwyer ($1,000), Georgene Dwyer ($1,000), Marlin Warren ($1,000), Marshall Kelley ($1,000), Fred Cotton, Sapulpa ($1,000), Jim Richie ($705.45), John Bruton ($500), Phil B. Albert, Claremore ($500), Matthew McCullough ($500), Mark Cohlmia ($500), John Kelley Warren ($500), Lyndall Cole, Oklahoma City ($500), Claire Lee ($500), Jeff Beach ($500), Greg Dark ($500), Herb Weaver ($500). Notable vendors: Jeff Organ (printing, shirts, bus), Community Spirit magazine (advertising), QuikPrint (banners), Matrix Services (advertising), Oldham Signs (yard signs), Leon's Smoke Shack (reception).
  • Brandon Hendrix: 7/14/1973, 9410 E. 107th Pl. S., Tulsa, OK 74133. Raised $3,600, spent 1792.27. Notable donors: Self. Notable vendors: KXOJ (radio ads), Townsend Marketing (shirts). Spartan Signs (yard signs).
  • Jason Jackson: 8/8/1973, 1039 East 165th St. South, Glenpool, OK 74033. Raised $ 9,165.00. Spent $ 6,470.39. Notable donors: Lisa Carver ($1,000), Rocky Fisher ($1,000), Mark Tedford ($500), Steve & Linda Eaton ($500), Steve Beck ($500), Josh McFarland. Notable vendors: WinMail (printing), Oldham Signs (yard signs).
  • Dan Miller*: 11/3/1965, 6617 S. 112th East Ave, Tulsa, OK 74133. Raised $ 4,211.36. Spent $ 3,270.67. Notable donors: Michelle Bowdle ($1,000). Notable vendors: Tulsa Direct Mail (printing); Ramond Walker (website services); Republican Party of Tulsa County (event fee).
  • Randy Pierce: 5/15/1961, 2155 S. Fulton Pl., Tulsa, OK 74114. No funds raised. ("Turned down and returned contributions @ $71,250.00 & 3 major fundraiser events. No indirect contributions received.") Spent $1,411. Notable vendors: Vista Print (campaign cards), Edge One Signs (yard signs).
  • Bill Reaves: 6/20/1949, 5301 E 53 Pl, Tulsa OK 74145 (no report filed)
  • Vic Regalado: 6/18/1971, 6811 Silver Oak Pl, Tulsa, OK 74107. Raised $158,120.00. Spent $103,608.87. Notable donors: ECM PAC ($5,000), ROI PAC ($5,000), Dianne Siegfried ($2,700), Sherri Hader, Oklahoma City ($2,700), Sandra Barraza ($2,700), Santiago Barraza ($2,700), Lisa Cole ($2,700), Glen Cole ($2,700), Daniel Sigala ($2,700), Nikki Sigala ($2,700), Stephen Scott ($2,700), Leslie Melvin ($2,700), Manuel Sigala ($2,700), Olga Sigala ($2,700), Terry O'Donnell, Catoosa ($2,700), H. Max Felton ($2,700), Pam Felton ($2,700), Johnnie Reaves ($2,700), Leigh Reaves ($2,700), Sylvia Nelson ($2,700), Robert Nelson ($2,700), Kevin Hern ($2,500), Levi Gonzales ($2,500), Jacquelyn Gonzales ($2,500), Elida Cepeda ($2,500), Marcele Cepeda ($2,500), Jessica Bledsoe ($2,500), Justin Gonzalez ($2,500), T. Hastings Siegfried ($2,300), Sooner Medical Staffing LLC, Oklahoma City ($2,000), Charles McCall, Atoka ($2,000), Adam Weintraub ($2,000), Reuben Davis ($2,000), Roger Chasteen ($1,500), Debbie Hinch ($1,500), Gregory Wilson ($1,500), Phillips Breckenridge ($1,500), F. William Teale Jr ($1,500), Mike Case ($1,500), Thomas Naugle ($1,500), Barbara Anne Naugle ($1,500), Christopher Kannady, Oklahoma City ($1,500), Jon Stuart ($1,000), John B. Turner ($1,000), Fount Holland, Oklahoma City ($1,000), James M. Leewright II, Sapulpa ($1,000), Frazier Henke ($1,000), Paul Brunton ($1,000), Patsy Hepner ($1,000), Jeanne McGowen, Comanche ($1,000), Michael Peyton ($1,000), Steve Middleton ($1,000), Kenneth Brune ($1,000), Meredith Siegfried ($1,000), Milann Hastings Siegfried ($1,000), Jack Allen ($1,000), Frank Murphy ($1,000), Tom Clark ($1,000), John Nickel ($1,000), Sanjay Meshri ($1,000), Bailey Siegfried ($1,000), Lee Levinson ($1,000), Terrell Siegfried ($1,000), Preston Doerflinger ($1,000), Gilmore Caswell ($1,000), Chip Keating, Nichols Hills ($1,000), Arlo DeKraai ($1,000), Brooke Yaffe ($800), Mitch Adwon ($500), Phyllis Lauinger ($500), John Hewitt ($500), Garry Anderson ($500), Timothy Bracken ($500), K. Neal Jackson ($500), Paul Lackey Jr. ($500), Michael Haynes ($500), Albert Givray ($500), Robert Merrick ($500), Tom Biochini ($500), Phillip Hawkins ($500), State Sen. Michael Mazzei ($500), Buddy Padilla ($500), Gary Crews ($500), G. M. Bunney ($500), William Allen ($500), Robert Biolchini ($500), William Warren Jr. ($500), Tammy Hern ($500), Michael Cooke ($500), Robert Berry ($500), Stephen Andrew ($500), Stephen Clouser ($500), Clark Brewster ($500), Joe Cappy ($500), Stephen Clouser ($500), Michael Huff ($500), Phil Albert, Claremore ($500), Paul Cornell ($500). Notable vendors: AH Strategies (campaign consulting), Majority Designs (campaign consulting), Quick Print (printing), Paw Moxie Threads, Duncan (t-shirts), Oldham Sign Shop, Bristow (yard signs), ROI Media Services (advertising media buys, $88,350),
  • Luke Sherman: 11/27/1969, 1443 E 32nd Pl, Tulsa, OK 74105. Raised $ 36,930.00. Spent $ 25,490.08. Notable donors: Tom Russell ($2,700), Robert Zoellner ($2,700), Carrie Zoellner ($2,700), Mike Farley ($2,700), Mandy Farley ($2,700), Michael Henry ($2,500), Edward Wiegele ($2,000), John Greene ($2,000), State Rep. Jon Echols ($1,500), Jackie Keeler ($1,000), Gregory Wallace ($1,000) Mike Frizell ($1,000), Benjamin Kimbro ($1,000), Warren Ross ($1,000), Neal Tomlins ($1,000), Michael Barkley ($1,000), Barb Carson ($1,000), George Gibbs ($500), Daryl Woodard ($500), Don Kirt ($500), Philip Jackson ($500), Stuart McCalman ($250), Bill Sherman ($250). Notable vendors: Andrew Speno, Edmond (Media Consultant), Singularis Group, Overland Park, KS (printing), New Valley Forge Partners (video production, website), Brett Knaust (campaign manager), Target Marketing (banners, signs),

Bill Reaves appears not to be running an active campaign; he did not file campaign ethics reports and could not be reached by the Tulsa 9/12 Project or KFAQ.


The Tulsa 9/12 Project has published a voter guide for the Republican primary candidates for Tulsa County sheriff. Responses are organized side-by-side for each question.

KFAQ has posted the podcasts of Pat Campbell's interviews with Tulsa County sheriff candidates.


Donald Trump's habit of using government to hound people from their homes to make way for his schemes isn't limited to the US. Ian Tuttle has documented Trump's efforts to make life miserable for neighbors of his grand Scottish golf resort -- a resort that has failed to live up to the ambitious claims made for it.

The story is like a replay of Local Hero, which was filmed just 35 miles to the north, but without the happy ending. In the movie, an American tycoon with Scottish roots wants to buy out a village on the North Sea coast and replace it with an oil refinery. The tycoon (played by Burt Lancaster) visits the site to close the deal with the lone holdout, a hermit who lives in a shack on the beach, to which he holds title. The tycoon falls in love with the seaside village and instead builds a marine research laboratory.

In the Trump version of the story, the tycoon bulldozes the dunes and blockades the "local heroes" who refuse to yield to his demands. A documentary about the ordeal, You've Been Trumped, was released in 2012 and is available for free online viewing on Hulu. (The photo above is a still from the follow-on film, A Dangerous Game, about the environmental and social impact of the golf resort industry around the world.)

In 2006, Trump proposed to build a golf resort on the North Sea coast in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. When local government denied his application to wreck a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest (a shifting dune-scape unique to Scotland) to build his course, he went over their heads to the Scottish Executive which overruled local government. Alex Salmond, the local member of the Scottish Parliament and later leader of the Scottish National Party, facilitated the deal, claiming the project would generate 6,000 jobs nationally, 1,400 locally, but those plans haven't materialized.

As local MSP, Mr Salmond personally rang Scotland's chief planning officer while he was with the Trump lawyer after the plan was rejected by the local infrastructure committee in his Aberdeenshire constituency.

The man leading Scotland's drive for independence has seen little political or economic reward for his efforts, however. Mr Trump's plans for the Menie estate should have created thousands of jobs by building two golf courses, a five-star 450-bed hotel, 500 homes and 950 short-term lets.

To date, Mr Trump's own representatives put the number at only 200 new jobs - and Panorama estimates on the basis of the latest accounts (to December 2011), that only £25m has been spent with just one golf course and a temporary clubhouse to show for it so far.


Once Trump had pushed local government out of the way, he tried to use government muscle to shove his neighbors out of the way, pushing the local government to get Compulsory Purchase Orders (equivalent of eminent domain) to buy out neighbors whose properties were not as grand and glorious as Trump thought they ought to be. When local government deferred, Trump began harassing his neighbors in various alleged ways: Cutting off water with construction "accidents," ignoring property boundaries, and building berms that blocked their view of the ocean:

ybt_online_ab_110811_pm_crop.jpgDuring a visit to his Scotland project on an episode of Donald J. Trump's Fabulous World of Golf, a short-lived reality show that aired on the Golf Channel in 2010-11, Trump announced that "there are some houses quite far away from the course" that "I don't want to see." The camera panned to David Milne's home, high on its perch. Announced Donald: "We are berming some of the areas so that you don't see the houses." And sure enough, construction crews spent a week piling earth in a "bund," a large ridge, around Milne's home, removing it from view -- and cutting off his view of the sea. (Similar bunds were piled up around Forbes's house, and around Munro's.) "Nobody has a problem with it!" said Trump, on Trump's Fabulous World of Golf. He then conceded, with a shrug: "I guess maybe the people who live in the houses have a problem with it."

The Aberdeen Voice published an update last month, ten years after Trump announced his plans for the area. Quoting local councilor Martin Ford:

"Mr Trump's grandiose and extravagant promises of jobs, money and enhanced reputation for the region - parroted by First Minister Alex Salmond's Scottish Government - have failed to materialise. "At Menie, little of the proposed resort has been built. None of the 950 timeshares. A 19-bedroom hotel in an existing country house instead of a 450-bedroom new build. One golf course, not two. A much smaller clubhouse than originally proposed. Under 100 jobs, not 6000. Around £30 million spent instead of the £1 billion investment pledged.

"Meanwhile, the unique dune system at Menie, a protected Site of Special Scientific Interest, has been sacrificed - the justification being the economic benefits Mr Trump and the Scottish Government said would come from the resort that hasn't been built.

"Mr Trump's neighbours on the Menie estate have had their lives disrupted by bullying and intimidation for most of the last decade.

Tuttle's story concludes:

It would be an extraordinary irony if Donald Trump secured the Republican nomination riding a groundswell of working-class anger toward "elites." In Scotland, Trump teamed up with "elites" in the local and national government in an attempt to railroad working-class residents out of their homes. In Scotland, Donald Trump was not against "special interests." He was special interests. As Susan Munro told Anthony Baxter: "I've been here a long time, near on three decades, that's a long time. Most of my adult life's been spent in this house, brought my family up here, my family was born here. And then this man, this foreigner, because he's got a few pounds American in his pocket, a bit of a name, and we're just cast aside, we're in the way."


Local opposition website Tripping Up Trump (archived). The site includes accounts of other problem-plagued Trump developments around the world.

Website for the Trump International Golf Links. There is a single 18-hole course, a small hotel, and a couple of restaurants.

London Review of Books review of You've Been Trumped

Carol Craig's review of You've Been Trumped:

What emerges is the story of ordinary basic humanity versus greed and hubris. The local people value their heritage, community and environment but are pitted against those who are enthralled to wealth, fame, and power. The locals act with integrity and decency; the best that can be said about Trump is that he is a man who cannot be trusted.

Watching this film, the ordinary people of Scotland (and some local artists) are a credit to the country. But institutional Scotland comes out of it very badly. It isn't simply Trump, and by extension, the politicians who supported him that are shown in a negative light: the local police, local university (who gave Trump an honorary degree), and Scottish arts organisations, who refused to fund or show the film, are also discredited. The mainstream Scottish media who failed to cover the story adequately are also shamed by this film.

Yesterday, on Twitter, Trump issued a veiled threat against the Ricketts family, which owns the Chicago Cubs, for donating to an anti-Trump super-PAC.

I hear the Rickets family, who own the Chicago Cubs, are secretly spending $'s against me. They better be careful, they have a lot to hide! 8:42 AM - 22 Feb 2016

News reports note that the donation was not secret at all but has been disclosed in accordance with federal election laws.


HBO Real Sports has done a segment about Trump's broken promises in Scotland:

Hat tip: The Right Scoop.

The last time the Tulsa County Republican Party approved a platform was at its 2013 convention. The platform included 13 "planks" (resolutions) dealing with local government, and many of them are applicable to the upcoming Vision Dam Tax vote on April 5, 2016:

3. We believe that public safety - police and fire protection - should be a priority in the city budget, using existing sources of revenue. We oppose a special tax increase to fund public safety.

4. We oppose any tax increase without demonstrated public need. We believe County government should fund its function through property tax, leaving sales tax for municipal functions.

8. We oppose any sales tax, either municipal or county, levied for river development.

As part of the quadrennial series of conventions, the platform committee of the Tulsa County Republican Convention began meeting this last Saturday, and I am a member of the committee. When I arrived, I was surprised to discover I had been assigned to the education committee, and that there was no committee assigned to handle local issues. When I asked specifically which committee would be dealing with planks relating to the river tax vote, I was not given an answer. I know for a fact that at least one precinct submitted resolutions relating to the tax hike proposal.

I was told that the process would not be removing planks from the previous platform but only adding those sent forward by the precinct caucuses. That should mean that the above planks, plus those from this year specifically addressing the Vision Dam Tax vote should make their way into the final document.

But there is a new practice that could be used to keep the Tulsa County GOP from taking a clear stand. Subcommittees are allowed to pull planks out of their section if they call for specific legislative action. These removed planks would be placed in a "legislative action document" to be sent to legislative leaders for their consideration. I was given mixed signals about whether this document would be considered as part of the platform as published and whether it would be available to the general public. This new document has the potential for being used as a pretext for pulling anti-Dam-Tax resolutions out of the platform. Beyond that specific concern, this new approach seems to reduce the platform to a grab-bag of suggestions, rather than the party grassroots speaking collectively on issues of concern. This new approach was not brought before the platform committee for debate or approval.

The picture will be clearer after next week's platform committee meeting, in which the whole committee will consider the entire document. If grassroots sentiment about the Vision Dam Tax is shunted out of the platform, under whatever pretext, you can expect a effort to add it in to the platform from the floor of the county convention. And if that grassroots effort is blocked by new rules, that simple vote could turn into a messy floor fight.

I'm proceeding on the assumption that these novel practices are all well-intentioned, if susceptible to misuse, so I'm not jumping to any conclusions. But I do remember back in 2003, when county party leadership was under heavy pressure to block any official statement from the executive committee in opposition to the Vision 2025 tax plan. This year, with the County Convention happening during the month before the Vision Dam Tax vote, the largest gathering of grassroots Republicans presents an ideal opportunity for the party to speak credibly and to be heard.


Here are the resolutions submitted by our precinct regarding the Vision Dam Tax.

  • We oppose any use of taxes or bonds to fund dams in the Arkansas River. We urge Tulsa voters to go to the polls on April 5, 2016, to defeat the proposed sales tax for Arkansas River dams.
  • We oppose any attempt to logroll recreational and "economic development" projects with public safety and transportation projects in sales tax and bond issue elections. For example, we oppose including Arkansas River dam construction in the same ballot item as levee repair. We urge Tulsa voters to go to the polls on April 5, 2016, to defeat the proposed sales tax.
  • We oppose the use of sales tax and use tax revenue bonds for advance funding for local capital improvements. City and county capital improvements should be built on a pay-as-you-go basis.
  • We oppose any renewal of the Vision 2025 sales tax at any level of government.

On April 5, 2016, the Cities of Tulsa, Glenpool, Jenks, and Owasso and Tulsa County will vote on sales taxes to replace the 0.6% Vision 2025 county sales tax that expires at the end of this year. The following are the ballot resolutions approved by the respective City Councils and County Commission and submitted to the Tulsa County Election Board.

In addition to the ballot resolutions, the Tulsa City Council approved three additional ordinances, known as "Brown Ordinances" in honor of former City Attorney Darven Brown, setting out the policy for spending the money to be raised if the taxes are approved, establishing a sales-tax overview committee, and establishing a process for modifying the projects and amounts if necessary.

policememe.jpgTravis Yates, a Tulsa Police Department major, has written an editorial questioning President Obama's silence after a number of recent assassinations of police officers around the country. In just the past week, Yates says, seven police officers were killed, six of them "were gunned down by assailants."

Yates notes Obama's frequent practice of speaking to the nation about suspected cases of police abuse, which began early in his term, when a Cambridge, Mass., police officer arrested Harvard Prof. Henry Gates as he was trying to break into his own home. Obama addressed the matter at length in a White House press conference, saying, "the Cambridge police acted stupidly."

He was quick to speak out on local police matters when his friend, Henry Gates, was arrested and while the President eventually called the arresting officer to apologize to him, it was odd to see the President of the United States speak out on a local police matter when he did not know all of the facts.

Personally, I chalked it up to a rookie mistake and didn't think much of it. Others had immediate concerns. Law Officer Columnist William Gage was one of those and he stated "this was insight into the President's psyche and overall view of law enforcement." Arizona Sheriff Paul Babeu said "that's his lens on how he sees our heroes and our protectors."

Obama has also spoken out about police controversies in Ferguson, Missouri, Baltimore, and elsewhere.

Yates praises the White House for sending Vice President Biden to the funeral of NYPD Detective Rafael Ramos, who was killed in an ambush shortly after the Ferguson riots, but that is the only law enforcement funeral to which the Obama White House has sent a representative. Yates echos questions raised by many other law enforcement officers about Obama's silence.

It has been a very tough time for law enforcement and while there is no doubt a sensitivity towards any perceived attack against the profession, we believe there is merit for the belief that President Obama has been silent when it comes to the violence heaped against the profession.

We see it as a balancing issue. Simply put, the President is unbalanced on the issue. He has repeatedly shown that he is quick to talk and act when he believes law enforcement has done something wrong but slow when law enforcement are the victims or need support for their mission.

President Obama still has time to regain his balance with law enforcement. As one officer said to us this week, "these are domestic threats killing your domestic troops, Mr. President. When will you hear our cries for help? Or will you continue to remain silent."

We say the President does not have to stay silent. We ask him to speak loudly in support of the men and women protecting the homeland.

It's apparent that our public schools are headed in the wrong direction, and money won't fix what's wrong. If a train is going the wrong way on the track, shoveling more coal in the firebox only takes you further away from your goal faster. We must first elect board members who see that we're headed in the wrong direction.

At a recent school board candidate forum, one of the candidates rattled off a list of things that every child needs in order to learn -- a good night's sleep, three meals a day, appropriate clothing for the weather, "a parent that will make you go to bed at night, even if you don't want to." The candidate went on to indicate that the schools "have to educate the parents about the importance of sleep and routines" and then listed all the non-educational support that Tulsa Public Schools offers to students: breakfast, lunch, food to take home for the weekend, clothes. So this is the fruit of the Great Society and a half-century of Federal interference in local schools, by way of the carrot of federal funding and the stick of judicial activism -- two generations of parents who don't know how to manage their time and money to keep their children fed, clothed, and ready for school. What we're doing isn't working.

Although every school district in the state has at least one vacancy each year, most of them go unchallenged. In all of Tulsa County, only one board seat will be on the ballot this coming Tuesday, February 9, 2016. In election district 5, Republican challenger Stan Minor will face Democrat incumbent Cindy Decker. I live in the district, and I plan to vote for Stan Minor. Minor would bring to the job a deep love for the Tulsa school system, an understanding that TPS's current direction hasn't been working, and a businessman's perspective on the school budget. He understands that TPS cannot survive, much less thrive, if it continues to drain enrollment to suburban districts and other educational options.


Stan Minor is a petroleum landman. He attended Tulsa Public Schools all the way through, spending some time at Nathan Hale High School before graduating at Memorial High School. He has been involved for several years in an alumni fundraising committee for Nathan Hale.

Stan Minor wants to shake things up -- to "say no to the status quo" -- but in the nicest possible way. As a person, he is affable and positive, but he's saddened to see the decline in the Tulsa school system from his day, when everyone wanted their kids to a TPS school, to today, with declining enrollments and parents moving to the suburbs, enrolling their children in private schools, or educating them at home. Minor points out that enrollment matters in the state funding formula, and it wastes money to have so many school buildings, many of them renovated or with added features thanks to the generosity of taxpayers, running so far below capacity. Minor notes that enrollment is now near the level of 1952, about half the size of the system at its peak, and it's continuing to shrink.


Minor, who played football in junior high and high school, remembers how school sports helped create a sense of community within the school and connected a school with its surrounding neighborhood. All that added up to an emotional investment by students, parents, and patrons in their schools -- something that doesn't seem to exist any more.

Minor sees football as having a particularly important role in knitting together the school community at the beginning of each academic year, A competitive team can bring the whole school together -- players, marching band members, cheerleaders, parents, faculty, alumni, and neighbors, sharing the experience of cheering on the team. That school spirit carries on to other sports, music, drama, and other activities as the year rolls on. For neighbors and alumni, school spirit translates into volunteer involvement. For younger kids, it translates into an attachment to their future high school. All of that can

Community spirit is nothing without educational excellence. Minor opposes Common Core, with its extreme focus on high-stakes testing and the straitjacket it places on teachers. (His opponent is backed by pro-Common Core pressure groups like Stand with Children.)

Stan Minor supports fairness in magnet school admissions. He argues that admission to academically competitive magnet schools (Carver MS, Washington HS, Edison MS and HS) should be by lottery among all applicants that meet the academic qualifications. The current system opens the door to favoritism.

Stan Minor is married and has a son and a daughter. While I've only recently gotten to know Stan, I met his son when he was a high school senior applying to MIT. His son has gone on to graduate from MIT and to a successful career in computer science.

The other candidate in the race, Cindy Decker, was appointed to the post a few months ago by the other members of the board. While she has an impressive resume, it seems fair to assume that they didn't pick her to shake things up. (There's a regrettable practice, for those offices where replacements are appointed, for the office holder to quit early and allow a like-minded successor to be appointed, giving the replacement the advantage of incumbency and depriving voters of an open election.)

Decker proudly wears her endorsement from Stand for Children, the group that lobbied the legislature to keep Common Core ("a wonderful group," she said), and Tulsa Regional Chamber, which endorsed Common Core in its OneVoice legislative platform and lobbied for Common Core at the Capitol.

When asked about the strengths of the Tulsa Public Schools, Decker could only point to the new superintendent, Deborah Gist, citing her resume, credentials, and the number of work. That's a common problem for leftists: measuring success by inputs, not outcomes.

Tulsa Public Schools desperately needs new leadership. If you live in Election District 5 (the yellow area in the map below), please go to your polling place on Tuesday and join me in voting for Stan Minor.

If you have questions for Stan Minor or would like a yard sign, call or text him at 918-605-8006 or email him at vote.4.stanminor@gmail.com


Election District 5 stretches from the river to Harvard, 21st to 51st, plus 11th to 21st, Utica to Yale, and 11th to 41st, Harvard to Yale, and the part of precinct 68 south of I-44.

Tulsa County Republicans will meet in precinct caucuses tonight, Thursday, February 4, 2016, at 6:30 p.m. the first step in the quadrennial process to elect delegates to the Republican National Convention and members of the Republican National Committee, and to determine the party platform.

Groups of Tulsa County precincts will meet at 19 central locations spread around the county. The gathered precincts will go through the preliminaries as a group, then break up into individual precinct caucuses to elect delegates to the March 5, 2016, County Convention (who will in turn choose delegates to Congressional District Convention in April and the May 14, 2016, State Convention) and to vote on resolutions to be forwarded to the county and state conventions for inclusion in the platform. A presidential preference straw poll will be taken -- exactly like the Iowa caucus, non-binding, but a chance to gauge the sentiments of Republican activists less than a month before we make our binding choice in the March 1 primary. The tulsagop.org website has the list of caucus locations and answers to frequently-asked questions about the process.

These central meeting locations were developed as a convenience for precinct officials and delegates. Some precinct chairmen may prefer not to host strangers in their home, and some delegates may feel more at ease in meeting people they don't know in a public place rather than someone's home. Some precincts have no officials currently, and a central meeting place gives interested newcomers a place to go and get things restarted. The central locations also provide an opportunity to meet fellow activists from nearby neighborhoods in a less crowded environment than the county convention.

Over the last couple of years central locations were organized by State House district, but this year, they were grouped more geographically and precinct chairmen were given a choice of locations. At least one precinct has opted out of the central-meeting approach and will meet within the boundaries of their precinct. Whatever the case, your precinct location should be posted on the door of your regular voting location by Thursday evening.

The precinct meeting is the launch pad of the platform process, and the timing couldn't be better for speaking out on some big current local issues. While many platform resolutions passed by the precincts deal with national issues and may percolate to the Republican National Platform, our Tulsa County platform also covers city and county resolutions. I'm hoping that every precinct passes a resolution expressing opposition to the new river sales tax proposal, which will be on the ballot in April.

With a school board election next week and a special primary for sheriff on March 1, I expect candidates will be making the rounds of the meetings. (Please be aware that, in the only contested school board seat in the county, Stan Minor is a Republican and appointed incumbent Cindy Decker is a Democrat.)

I especially want to encourage my skeptical young millennial friends to come to a precinct meeting -- preferably as a delegate, but at least as an observer. It's an often overlooked aspect of our election process, and I think that seeing it may alleviate some of your cynicism.

Spaghetti Warehouse, one of the catalysts for transforming a neglected neighborhood of warehouses into Oklahoma City's Bricktown entertainment district, closed its doors today after 26 years of business, a victim of the surrounding district's success. The restaurant opened for business, with space for 425 diners, on November 12, 1989, at 101 E. Sheridan Ave.

Of all today's news, this story may seem minor, but it touches on the hidden history of the revival of America's downtowns through adaptive reuse of older buildings. In the urban renewal orgy of the 1950s and 1960s, main streets took a beating. Downtown promoters, facing competition from new car-friendly shopping in the suburbs, thought the solution was to mimic the suburbs: demolish older commercial buildings and close streets, replacing them with modern shopping malls and acres of parking.

As Jane Jacobs wrote in The Death and Life of Great American Cities, "Old ideas can sometimes use new buildings. New ideas must use old buildings." (Click the quote to read more of the context.) Warehouses and industrial buildings, at the periphery of the central business district, were often overlooked by the urban renewal wreckers, and so they became the raw material for the visionaries of urban revival.

The first Spaghetti Warehouse opened in a forgotten corner of downtown Dallas in 1972. Eclectic decor (including a dining room inside a restored streetcar) in an unusual setting drew diners, and a patented steam-cooking method for pasta fed them quickly and kept them coming back. Over the next decade, the restaurant's success inspired other entrepreneurs to renovate nearby buildings for clubs and eateries. The result was Dallas's West End entertainment district.

The concept expanded to 14 locations when it opened in Oklahoma City. That same month the Bricktown Association was formed and city planners began looking at how to manage increased interest in the area. Piggy's BBQ and the Pyramid Club had already been operating in the area, and another nightclub opened that December.

Renovation and promotion of Bricktown as an entertainment district had begun in 1982. The opening of the OKC Spaghetti Warehouse in 1989 pre-dated the MAPS vote by four years and the completion of Bricktown's canal, ballpark, and arena by almost a decade.

I reached out to BLD Brands Director of Marketing Kathy Wan with a few questions about the Oklahoma City closing and the fate of the Tulsa store in the Bob Wills District, which opened in July 1992. She assured me, "We are definitely not closing Tulsa!"

So what was the problem in Oklahoma City? Ms. Wan explained:

We are closing due to two main reasons - business at this location not doing as well as before and we want to introduce a new look of Spaghetti Warehouse. Parking is definitely an issue at OKC because we have a lot of families and large groups as patrons. Economic and demographic dynamics of downtown warehouse districts have changed over the years so we need to update our branding and strategic plans. We are working on plans to reopen in the OKC market. We do not know yet if this particular location still makes sense for the new SWRI brand so this is something we are evaluating very closely in the next several months.

Tulsa's location has its own off-street lot. There are off-street lots near the OKC location, but not immediately adjacent, and these lots serve dozens of nearby restaurants and clubs. That makes the location less than desirable for the kinds of large groups that a restaurant of that size needs to attract.

Here is the press release from the parent company, as posted by KFOR:

After more than 30 years in the community, we have made the difficult business decision to suspend operations and announce the closure of the Spaghetti Warehouse Restaurant in Oklahoma City.

The closure is effective on Tuesday, February 2nd. We are working closely with everyone on our staff, whose hard work and dedication is appreciated and we thank them for their many contributions.

To our many guests, we say thank you. We enjoyed serving you, your family and friends. And, it was our pleasure to share in the celebrations that took place over countless lunches and dinners, not to mention birthdays, anniversaries and other special occasions.

Spaghetti Warehouse was one of the first businesses involved in the Bricktown revitalization and we thank everyone in the Oklahoma City community who we've served and who supported us. For anyone who has a question about our restaurant in Oklahoma City, we invite you to send us an email at: info@meatballs.com.

As we continue to work on a new look for our brand, we are hopeful that in the near future we can reopen Spaghetti Warehouse within the Oklahoma City market.

MORE: Steve Lackmayer of the Oklahoman has more about Bricktown's history and recent attempts to make a deal to develop the unused upper floors of the Spaghetti Warehouse building.

SOMEWHAT RELATED: Excerpts from an insightful article by the late Jane Jacobs on how cities can enlist time and change as allies in the struggle to keep neighborhoods vital. She deals with the particular challenges of immigrant-dominated neighborhoods, the need for "community hearths," and the problems wrought by gentrification. This epitomizes so much of what is lovely in her urban criticism -- carefully observing reality and then finding and encouraging patterns that work because they are aligned with human nature. Too much of 20th century urban development was using bulldozers and billions of dollars to extinguish urban life where it naturally sprang up and then to try to recreate it artificially somewhere else. Urban Husbandry (a term coined by Roberta Brandes Gratz to describe a non-hubristic approach to city planning) finds naturally occurring signs of city life and, like a farmer, prunes, weeds, waters, and fertilizes to help the natural growth along -- a less expensive and more effective approach to Big Project Planning.

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