March 2016 Archives

Back in 2003, as Tulsa was emerging from a recession, local leaders made some extravagant promises to a desperate populace. In the spirit of Rahm Emanuel's dictum -- "Never let a crisis go to waste" -- our Mayor and County Commissioners persuaded Tulsa County voters that these promises would come to fruition if only they'd raise their sales tax rate for the next 13 years.

I'm not just talking about the promises to build specific projects. Most of the projects were completed as promised, but not all. We never did get that Native American Cultural Center. A vacant lot at 11th and Riverside still awaits the promised Route 66 Museum. The First Street Lofts remain under construction. Nine years after the centennial, we're still waiting for Centennial Walk historical markers. Vision 2025 funding for the three promised dams was supposed to be supplemented by federal funds or, failing that, surplus revenue raised by the Vision 2025 tax. Instead, Tulsa hired a starchitect to build the arena and overspent the budget; between the arena and the compensation paid to the suburbs for the arena overage, the surplus was depleted. Not only are the dams not done, but we're still awaiting completion of feasibility studies and permits.

But I digress. Let me focus your attention on Vision 2025's broken promise of economic development. It's important because the same promise is being made for the dams and other projects in the Vision Tulsa package on next Tuesday's ballot.

The pitch went like this: "You may never attend a concert at the arena, you may not benefit directly from any of these projects, but if we vote yes on Vision 2025, the Tulsa region will attract so much convention and tourism business, we'll grow so many new jobs, that we'll have plenty of sales tax revenue to spend on fixing our streets, hiring more police officers, reopen the city pools, mow the medians, and turn the expressway lights back on."

Substitute "dams" for "arena" and "Vision Tulsa" for "Vision 2025," and you'll hear the same argument being made today.

You want an example? Here you go:


"Vision 2025: Plan envisions modernized center," Tulsa World, August 17, 2003 (emphasis added):

But officials across the nation say convention centers, mainly, and events arenas, partly, show a direct profit only rarely, otherwise more would be built by the private sector.

Instead, such facilities are built as spending magnets that draw hordes of people to a destination where they drop additional dollars into the economy, spurring development and increasing sales tax revenues.

LaFortune said it's that spending by people, whether they are headed to a trade show or rock concert, that helps pump life back into a community. The mayor stressed that when businesses are thriving, sales tax revenues grow and a city has more funds to fix streets and sewers, improve parks and programs, and pay salaries for police, fire and municipal employees.


"Tax idea floated," Tulsa World, July 1, 2014:

Councilor Blake Ewing, who hosted Monday's meeting for his district at the First Presbyterian Church, said he agreed with Bartlett but would go even further in pursuing city investments that would increase sales-tax receipts.

"When your revenue and inflation are not in line, you end up having to do more with less and less and less," Ewing said. "We need to increase the revenue."

In 2002 and 2003, city budgets were under pressure. The telecom bubble had burst, and Tulsa had lost thousands of high-tech jobs. 9/11 had hurt our city's biggest employer, American Airlines. The city had to close 18 of our 22 public pools, unless private donors could be found to keep them open. The city switched off the street lights on our expressways and let the medians and rights-of-way get overgrown. Then-Mayor Bill LaFortune declared that we had to do something.

We were promised in 2003 that if we passed Vision 2025, our economy would grow so much that we'd have enough additional revenue to pave streets and hire more police officers and re-open our closed city pools.

If Vision 2025 made our economy grow, why are we now being asked to increase our permanent operating sales tax rate by 17.25% (from 2% to 2.345%) to fund basic police and fire coverage and street maintenance? Why are we demolishing rec centers and pools? Vision 2025 built a lot of pretty things, but it didn't grow Tulsa's bottom line.

Was the promise fulfilled? Let's look at the numbers.

According to the February 2016 report, Vision 2025 has extracted $673,530,955.45 from the local economy. Nearly all of that has been spent on projects or on debt service on the money the Tulsa County Industrial Authority borrowed to build the projects sooner. The projected total when the tax expires at the end of the year is $732,340,192.06. A little bit of that was spent on streets and basic infrastructure, but most went to projects that were supposed to boost our economy, indirectly growing our sales tax revenues.

Based on that report, Tulsa County's taxable sales rose from $7.9 billion in FY2005 to $10.4 billion in FY 2015. That's an annualized rate of growth of 2.74%. But the cost of living rose an average of 1.89% per year over the same period. In inflation-adjusted dollars, Tulsa County's retail receipts grew at a rate of 0.84% per year. But over the same period, US GDP in inflation-adjusted dollars grew at a rate of 1.475% per year. So the US economy grew almost twice as much as the Tulsa County economy during the Vision 2025 period. (Historical CPI values came from Table 24-C of the February 2016 CPI Detailed Report.)

"Apples to oranges!" you say, comparing sales taxes to GDP. All right, then, let's look at state sales tax revenue over the same period, which increased from $35.0 billion in FY2005 to $54.0 billion in FY2015. Retail sales in Oklahoma minus Tulsa County grew at an annualized rate of 4.88%. Adjusted for inflation, retail sales in the rest of Oklahoma grew at a rate of 2.93% per year, over three times as fast as the Tulsa County Vision 2025 economy.

"No fair!" you object. "The BOK Center didn't open until August 2008!" So let's look at the change from FY2009 to FY2015. Tulsa County taxable sales rose by an average annual rate of 1.24% over that period, but Tulsa County taxable sales actually fell in inflation-adjusted dollars by an average of 0.30% per year. Meanwhile, taxable sales in the rest of the state rose by a raw average of 3.66% per year or 2.08% adjusted for inflation.


I'm probably more surprised at this result than you are, but there you have it. Perhaps the falloff after the opening of the BOK Center represents the bursting of the building bubble created by early funding and completion of Vision 2025 projects. The construction was done, and the construction jobs were gone. (Here's a spreadsheet with the data, if you want to check my work.)

Tulsa can't afford the kind of "growth" we've had since Vision 2025 passed and the BOK Center opened its doors. It's a fool's errand to try to generate revenue for basic infrastructure indirectly by by raising taxes to build amenities in hopes of generating economic growth. Expensive amenities don't stimulate the local economy any more than building a pool in your backyard stimulates your personal economy. The builders make their money, create a few temporary jobs, but when the construction is over, the jobs are gone. You've got a nice amenity, but also a new maintenance obligation that cuts further into your funds.

Let's not make the same mistake again. Vote no on the mislabeled Tulsa Proposition 3 for "Economic Development" next Tuesday, April 5, 2016.



Email to get an attractive "No More Dam Taxes" sign placed in your yard. A yard sign alerts your neighbors that there's an election and reminds them that $127 million for low-water dams (not including interest on bonds) is the biggest item in this package.

We also need people to fund last-minute social media and other voter contact efforts. Use that same email address to send money via PayPal. Any amount helps. (Larger amounts help more.)

Donate to Citizens for a Better Vision

Danger: Low Water Dam Ahead

North Tulsa residents are among the most skeptical of visionary sales taxes. They know that they will bear a heavy share of the costs, but they are doubtful of seeing any benefits. They'll pay extra sales taxes on the basics of life -- food, clothing, electricity, natural gas -- and the money will go to build play-places in well-to-do neighborhoods in midtown and south Tulsa. North Tulsans have seen their city swimming pools closed and filled in, their recreation centers torn down, and their streets fall apart, while the other side of I-244 seems to get everything fixed promptly.

Proponents of the Vision Tulsa Dam Tax are desperate to convince voters in the North Community that money for Gilcrease Museum ($65 million), the Tulsa Zoo ($25 million), and the airport ($27.3 million) constitute money to help develop the most economically distressed neighborhoods on the northside.

Yes, Gilcrease Museum is north of Admiral, as are the zoo and the airport, and they've been north of Admiral since long before I was born, and these are valuable institutions for our city, but they haven't generated nearby commercial development, much less improved conditions for the hardest-hit neighborhoods in north Tulsa, which are miles away from these institutions. To count the $117.3 million allocated to these institutions as money for north Tulsa economic development is disingenuous and shows contempt for the intelligence of North Community residents.

Earlier today, I emceed a press conference at Rudisill Library featuring the remarks several northside residents concerned about the lack of economic impact for their community in the Vision Tulsa Dam Tax proposal.

Sherry Laskey spoke of her impressions upon returning to her hometown last year after five years away. She recalled Vision 2025's passage in 2003, when her son was a toddler, and remembers the promises made about economic growth and the high hopes she had. She sees Archer Street as a a stark dividing line between development and infrastructure condition to the north and to the south. Thirteen years later her son is a teenager, and she sees that the physical and economic condition of the community has gone backwards. "Nothing has changed. Things have gotten worse. There's nowhere for our children to get a job once they graduate from high school."

Vanessa Hall Harper expressed her displeasure with the process used to select projects for the northside. An ill-defined project, devoid of specifics, called Peoria Connections was selected for funding in the package, while projects growing out of the thorough small-area planning process for the 36th Street North corridor (also known as the Phoenix District) were left on the cutting-room floor. Residents were told that the vague but more expensive Peoria Connections project (the pitch presentation consisted of a series of uncaptioned photos taken along the street) would be selected -- take it or leave it.

Ms. Harper said that "[the Greenwood Chamber of Commerce] held several forums right here in Rudisill Library. We asked the community to come in, and we showed them all of the presentations that were made before the City Council, and we asked the community to prioritize their top five projects. We sent that information to the Mayor and the City Council, and it was not even considered.... We are tired of being told what's going to happen after the fact." She said that the failure of City Hall to listen to the community's priorities was her primary reason for voting no on the "economic development" package.

Tracie Chandler is a leader in the North Star Neighborhood Association, which secured the funding to create the 36th Street North corridor plan and spearheaded the plan's completion and incorporation into the city's Comprehensive Plan. The city has already committed $8.5 million toward the plan's implementation in the Improve Our Tulsa package (the current Third Penny package).

"If you've got money, power, and influence, you got on the list." As an example of power and money, Ms. Chandler pointed to $65 million in tax dollars for Gilcrease, which also has $50 million promised from private funds. As for influence, Ms. Chandler noted the selection of the vague and more expensive Peoria Connection project over the 36th Street North proposal, which would have cost $5 million less than the Peoria Connection proposal and would have facilitated two miles of redevelopment from Lewis to MLK. "Could it be because of Councilor [Jack] Henderson's close ties to NTEDI [North Tulsa Economic Development Initiative], the organization that submitted the proposal? Does that sound like influence to you?" Ms. Chandler said that the Peoria Connection plan would have little to no economic impact, while the 36th Street small area plan would have tremendous impact, was detailed, and had been adopted unanimously by the City Council into the Comprehensive Plan.

"This is our money. People, we have the power. These committees, the councilor, the mayor -- they did not listen to us. This needs to be voted down. They need to come to the citizens and hear what we have to say. If we accept this, then we're saying that 'it doesn't matter that our voices weren't heard; walk all over us!' We need to be heard."

Later in the meeting, Ms. Chandler said she planned to write another editorial about her councilor's involvement in the project selection process, to be titled, "Vision Package: Judas Still Walks among Us."

Noting that there were a couple of items that northsiders would find positive (funding for Langston University's Tulsa campus and for a business park), Ms. Chandler emphasized, "For North Tulsa, this package is 94% rotten. So my question to you is this: Would you eat an apple that was 94% rotten just to get to the good part?"

I chimed in to mention the very back-handed "endorsement" of the "economic development" package by the Oklahoma Eagle. Ray Pearcey urged northsiders to vote for the dam tax, while agreeing substantially with Tracie Chandler's assessment of the many useless items in the package.

But we remain opposed to a passel of environmentally insensitive, economically incoherent or not particularly well thought out projects - including the proposed Arkansas River/Dam initiative and a bunch of other poorly defined or questionable items. But here's the bottom line - the economic package is like a grand, but oddly sourced salad - one that may have some tough seeds or even some nails in it - but if you want to eat the salad - you have to eat everything in the bowl.

Maybe that's Ray's way, but if I got a salad with nails in it, I'd send it back to the kitchen and find another restaurant. Voters need to send this salad back on April 5, and then we need to fire the chefs that tried to serve us a salad bowl full of shrapnel. I reminded the assembled press that the current Vision 2025 tax doesn't expire until December 31, and we have three more election dates between now and then when the City Council could present us with a sound proposal -- nothing but fresh veggies in the salad.

James Johnson, another lifelong north Tulsa resident, spoke up to note that city leaders were asking the poorest citizens to fund $65 million for Gilcrease and $25 million for the zoo, in exchange for a "$7 million parking lot for Mr. Kaiser," referring to the proposed industrial park. "If you're a north Tulsa resident, and if you vote yes on this Vision -- their Vision -- please take a look in your mirror and say to yourself, I'm the reason that north Tulsa looks like it does." He pointed out that there was more economic activity on 36th Street North in the 1980s than there is today. Referring to Mayor Dewey Bartlett's slogan of "One Tulsa," Johnson said, "Mayor Bartlett, are you serious? He's running around, popping his collar, and north Tulsa looks like it does. You know, my grandmother would say, he needs to cut three willow switches, bring them to me, and take his pants down, and let me put the three willow switches on him, because he's wrong."

Ms. Harper pointed toward the area's lack of a supermarket and the lack of street lights on the expressways. "When you're wanting to spend millions and millions of dollars on other projects when basic needs of the community are not being met, in my book that's frivolous spending. Let's meet the basic needs of every community first -- that's the purpose of our tax dollars -- and then let's move on to other projects."

Mr. Johnson reminded the audience that several city-owned recreation centers and swimming pools in north Tulsa were recently demolished; meanwhile the pool at McClure Park in east Tulsa was going to be rebuilt. "We've torn out all these parks in north Tulsa as if black children, children in north Tulsa don't matter." Ms. Chandler emphasized that there is nothing in the package for north Tulsa children.

Regarding the demolished pools and rec centers, I mentioned that back in 2003, many of these pools were closed because of budget problems and streetlights on the expressways were extinguished. We were promised that if we passed Vision 2025, we'd see enough economic growth to generate the revenues to reopen the pools, turn the lights back on, fix the streets, and hire more police officers. Vision 2025 was approved, and it built a lot of pretty things, but the economic growth never came, the pools were never reopened, and now we're being asked for a permanent 17.25% increase in our permanent sales tax rate to pay for basic city operational costs.


After the jump, links to media coverage of the event, presentations and details of the two competing north Tulsa development proposals -- the one that was picked, and the one that was passed by, and links to and comments about the proposals for Gilcrease, the airport, and the zoo.

A bald eagle perches on a sandbar, eating a fish he grabbed from the Arkansas River at Tulsa, January 2014

Over the last 13 years, I've written quite a bit about the Arkansas River and proposals for damming and remodeling it, and about what Tulsans really are seeking when they ask for water in the river. Recently I resurrected several of my Urban Tulsa Weekly columns and my 2007 cover story on the topic from Internet Oblivion.

Here's a selection of past BatesLine stories about river development. I especially recommend the first story, as it has lots of pretty pictures like the one above, and it reflects a change of heart on my part -- the realization that a low-water dam would be a bad deal even if it were given to us free, because of the beauty that it would cover up.

Here's a link to the complete archive of the Arkansas River category on BatesLine.


No_More_Dam_Taxes-logo.pngAmong the many flaws in the Vision Tulsa dam tax proposal (on the April 5, 2016, ballot) are what I've decided to call the Payola Projects -- projects that involve giving a chunk of money to various institutions in hopes of winning their constituents' votes for the dam tax.

A Payola Project typically involves a suspiciously round sum of money which the city will transfer to another governmental entity (which often has its own source of funding). The amount of money may or may not be enough to pay for a specific construction project. They may not even have even a specific project in mind, or the project might be contingent on a string of approvals yet to be obtained. The important thing is for the target constituency of the Payola Project to think that the small amount of money they're getting is worth wasting $128 million on dams in the Arkansas River.

A Payola Project is all about symbolism over substance: "We haven't allocated enough money to do anything meaningful about this issue that matters to you, dear voter, but we want you to think that we care, so you'll vote for our Dam Tax."

On four separate occasions, voters have rejected taxpayer-funded low-water dams in the Arkansas River, but city mis-leaders like G. T. Bynum and Dewey Bartlett Jr. insist that they'll be a game-changer, so they're back on the ballot for a fifth time, surrounded by a collection of Payola Projects. Think of a Payola Project as an electoral flotation device for the big, expensive dam project, which would otherwise sink at the ballot box as fast as Luca Brasi in concrete overshoes sank in the East River.

The Payola Project for voters concerned about public education is listed this way in Title 43-K, the ordinance that (vaguely) regulates how money in Vision Tulsa Proposition No. 3 for "Economic Development" must be spent:

Public Schools - Partnership with Union, Jenks & Tulsa Public Schools in Teacher Retention, Recruitment, and Training Efforts: $10,000,000

(I wonder why they didn't include the rest of the public school districts that serve the City of Tulsa: the Broken Arrow School District, which serves growing new Tulsa subdivisions southeast of 31st and 145th East Ave, or Catoosa School District, which serves recently annexed areas in Wagoner County.)

Here's how Tulsa City Councilor and former Tulsa school board member Anna America answered a question about the project on March 24 -- a mere 12 days before the election, showing the vague and unsettled state of the proposal

Jeff, we are still working on the final details. The original proposal was for $50 million for two pieces -- housing incentives that could be used for homebuyers or renters, and stipends for continuous learning in the summer. It was scaled back to $10 million, so we are discussing exactly how that would look -- my hope that we do it in the way that has the most impact with the most teacher. There has been some discussion of using the housing part in conjunction with some property the city owns to create a "teacher town" but there are a lot of moving pieces on that., so it may not work out. This was the document submitted as part of the orignal proposal (although it looks to me like they issed a page in the scanning) and we will bascially be doing a scaled back version, although we purposefully took out language specific to housing and made it "attraction and rettention" so we have more flexibility on allowing the district use the money for other kinds of incentives for teachers..

According to State Department of Education reports the Tulsa district had, in school year 2014-2015, 3,118 teachers, Jenks had 819, and Union had 1,109. That's a total of 5,046 teachers. If you divided that "attraction and rettention[sic]" bonus among those teachers for the 15 years of the tax, it would amount to $132.11 per teacher per year, or about 73¢ per instructional day. It's better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick, as my grandma used to say, but it wouldn't buy a decent cup of coffee, and it's hard to see how that will succeed in attracting or retaining anyone who isn't otherwise determined to be here.

Voters who care about funding for public education ought to lobby the legislature or petition to raise the cap on the local property tax levies for schools or to find some other local basis for increasing funding if local voters want to do so. Voters who care about attracting and retaining teachers should lobby their school boards to reduce the administrative burden so that funds already available to the school will go to the classroom instead.

Keep in mind that you have the option of voting yes or no on four different propositions on April 5. Keep in mind that the current Vision tax doesn't expire until December 31, 2016. There's plenty of time for the City Council to develop a sound plan, and three more opportunities this year to put it before the voters.

If you care about funding for public education, you should vote down Proposition 3, which includes this insulting attempt at a bribe, and tell the City Council to put together a better plan.


Immature bald eagle and hundreds of white pelicans perch on a sandbar and in the shallows of the Arkansas River at Tulsa, January 2014. Looking northwest from Helmerich Park toward the 71st Street Bridge and Turkey Mountain.

Vision Tulsa Vote Yes ads claim (dishonestly) that approval of the Vision Tulsa Dam Tax hike on April 5, 2016, will prevent future strip malls from being built along the river. In fact, nothing in the Vision Tulsa propositions address development standards. Moreover,
the City Council has the power right now to prevent inappropriate development, both through the zoning ordinance and through placing conditions on the sale or lease of city-owned land. Far from helping protect the river corridor, voter approval of the proposed Vision Tulsa Dam Tax would instead surrender the only financial leverage Tulsans have to push for common-sense rules to ensure appropriate future development along the Arkansas River.

The City Council has had the power all along to amend the zoning ordinance to require appropriate and compatible development along the river. The City Council could create a new zoning district along the river and specify design guidelines for any new construction within the district. If the design guidelines are sufficiently objective, they could be enforced directly through the permitting process. If the design guidelines involve a degree of subjective judgment, the ordinance could require that applications for construction be approved by a design review board before a building permit is issued. While this cannot be done overnight -- the Tulsa Metropolitan Area Planning Commission would have to review such an ordinance and make a recommendation before the City Council could act -- it can be done. We have an example just down the turnpike.

Oklahoma City has numerous design-focused zoning overlay districts; many of them have been in place for over 30 years. Some are intended to preserve the walkable, urban characteristics of historic commercial districts like 23rd Street and Classen Blvd. Some are aimed at ensuring that new development is compatible with existing development in a neighborhood. Two districts, established in 2007, specifically deal with the banks of the North Canadian River (aka "Oklahoma River"): The Scenic River Overlay District and the Scenic River Overlay Design District.

It's not as though the need for design guidelines along Tulsa's riverfront has suddenly arisen. Starting around ten years ago, chain restaurants, a shopping center, and a convenience store were built on the west side of Riverside between 96th Street and 101st Street. All of these buildings turn their backs to the river, and most are typical cookie-cutter, chain-store architecture, a huge waste of the unique opportunity presented by the river (sandbars or no sandbars). That nothing has been done to date leads me to believe that nothing would be done once the Council has secured the dam tax increase.

(MORE: In an August 2006 column, I explained why design guidelines were appropriate for unique places like riverfronts and the gateways to our city. In February 2007, then-Mayor Kathy Taylor called for a study of special zoning for the river corridor, but as far as I can tell, the effort never went beyond the discussion phase.)

City leaders have even more control over riverfront development when the project requires the use of publicly-owned land. And yet our current mayor and council seem determined to discard that leverage.

Back on August 11, 2015, the Tulsa Public Facilities Authority (TPFA) voted 3-2 to sell the northern section of Helmerich Park, a city park along the Arkansas River southwest of 71st and Riverside, to a commercial developer for the construction of a strip mall and large parking lot.

Just a few weeks earlier, on July 16, 2015, the City Council voted to change the comprehensive plan land-use designation for the parcel from "Park and Open-Space" to "Mixed-Use Corridor" and from "Area of Stability" to "Area of Change." This greased the path for any zoning accommodation that the developers might need. A no vote by the Council may well have deterred the developer from pursuing the shopping center.

A lawsuit challenging the TPFA's authority to sell city-owned land without the blessing of the City Council has put the sale on hold, but there are reports that proponents of the sale have found a way around this roadblock, and that this will be under discussion at a meeting of the TPFA this Thursday, March 31, 2016, 4:30 p.m, in Room 10-203 at City Hall. (The meeting notice is online, but the agenda has not yet been posted.) The way around the roadblock? If the City Council votes to abandon the section of the park as surplus to the city's needs, the lawsuit would be moot, and TPFA would have permission to move ahead with the sale to the developers.

Former Tulsa Mayor Terry Young has been a leader in the effort to stop the commercial development of the northern half of Helmerich Park. Late last week his alert was posted to the Save Helmerich Park Facebook page:


Helmerich Park Friends:

The Tulsa Public Facilities Authority has scheduled a new Special Meeting to act on a request to the City Council to ABANDON parts of Helmerich Park.

The request to ABANDON a tract in the park is to allow the sale of the land to private developers for the construction of a 52,000 square foot shopping center and acres of asphalt parking.


The meeting will be:

March 31, 2016
4 p.m.
Room 10-203 (Tenth Floor)
City Hall - One Technology Center
175 East 2nd Street

Please mark your calendar and try to attend. Bring other supporters. This board needs to know the depth and breadth of our opposition.

Here is what is at stake:

In response to our lawsuit which makes it clear that TPFA does not have the power to sell any or all of Helmerich Park, TPFA is planning to ask the City Council to do it by:
Passing a resolution abandoning the park use of a portion of Helmerich Park and finding it is no longer needed for public use.


TPFA will ask the City Council to:

Endorse, support, and consent to the sale of Helmerich Park to North Point Property for building a shopping center.

We have a full week to add this meeting to our respective schedules.

I hope you will join us to add many, many more faces to our efforts to sway TPFA and to SAVE HELMERICH PARK.

Terry Young

Here is a timeline of statements made by Muscogee (Creek) Nation (MCN) elected officials regarding their financial involvement in the low-water dam. When you clear away the wish-casting statements being made by city officials, you'll notice that there aren't any MCN officials offering money to the project. Instead, MCN officials merely acknowledge that city officials are asking for MCN money for the south Tulsa/Jenks dam, and MCN officials note the large amount of money the tribe has already put into development along the river and the unmet economic needs of Creek citizens living on the southern end of the nation's territory.

So why don't Creek officials go ahead and rule out financial support for the south Tulsa/Jenks dam, regardless of the outcome of the April 5 vote? I suspect they would prefer not to be the "bad guy." If the proposition fails in Jenks or in Tulsa, as seems likely, Creek financial contribution will be moot, without Creek officials having to be the ones to say no. If the proposition passes, they can offer some token amount of money, figuring that Tulsa officials will be so anxious to satisfy the "memorandum of understanding" requirement in the Brown Ordinance for Proposition 3 (Title 43-K), that they'll take anything. Here's the actual language that ties the south Tulsa/Jenks dam to MCN involvement. Note that there's no minimum amount that Jenks and MCN have to contribute:

The project entitled 'South Tulsa/Jenks Lake and Related Amenities' is contingent on additional funding for other aspects of the entire project, to be provided by the City of Jenks and the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, including a long-term operating and maintenance endowment. If a Memorandum of Understanding is not executed by all three funding partners on or before December 31, 2016, funding allocated by the City of Tulsa for this project ($64,214,000) will be reallocated according to the provisions of this ordinance, provided that Eighteen Million Dollars ($18,000,000) will first be reallocated to a long-term operating and maintenance endowment for Zink Lake and Related Amenities.

If other projects and purposes described in Section 100(B) above cannot be completed due to circumstances beyond the control of the City of Tulsa, funding allocated for such projects and purposes will be reallocated according to the provisions of this ordinance.

Many of these quotes come from the Muscogee Nation News, the bimonthly print publication that serves as "the official tribal newspaper of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation." Many of the articles that appear in the print edition were first posted to the Muscogee Nation News Facebook page.

In the midst of an entertaining rant about supply and demand and journalism (which includes an even-more entertaining anecdote by Hunter S. Thompson about a period in which Thompson "was a sports columnist for one paper in the morning, sports editor for another in the afternoon, and at night [he] worked for a pro wrestling promoter, writing incredibly twisted 'press releases' that [he] would plant, the next day, in both papers"), R. Stacy McCain tells the story of the responsible journalist who briefly served as managing editor of the Atlanta Journal and Constitution:

Kovach spent two years as editor and damned near ruined the Atlanta papers with his pretentious (but Pulitzer Prize-winning) ideas about publishing broccoli journalism. During his tenure, Kovach not only alienated many readers, he also lost sight of the fact that in Atlanta, the business community expects the local newspaper to act as a publicity agent. Atlanta was famous during the Civil Rights era as "The City Too Busy to Hate," because civic leaders recognized that racial conflict was bad for business. Cynics observed that, in truth, Atlanta was The City Too Greedy to Care. If Jim Crow was good for business, Atlanta would be segregated, and if Jim Crow proved to be a net liability, Atlanta would integrate peaceably, but either way, what the Chamber of Commerce wanted, the Chamber of Commerce got. Labels like "liberal"and "conservative" didn't have a damned thing to do with these entirely pragmatic and self-interested calculations. It doesn't matter if you're black or white, the only color that really matters in Atlanta is green.

Well, Mr. Kovach didn't quite understand this worldview, and he managed to p[---] off the Chamber of Commerce, and in November 1988, he "resigned," officially, but everyone knew it was more like he got pushed out the door, and there ensued all kinds of hand-wringing and moaning from the Good for Democracy types.

Things are the same all over. I suspect the Chamber of Commerce's pull over the local paper is worse in cities where, as in Atlanta, the paper is locally owned, and the business people who control the Chamber of Commerce are part of the same social circle as the newspaper owner.

Way back in 1978, National Lampoon published their Sunday Newspaper Parody, an edition of the Dacron (Ohio) Republican-Democrat. As you read the news stories, photos, and ads a three-dimensional picture of the town and its social structure began to emerge: an oligarchy of city cronies (including the owner of the newspaper) and their irresponsible scions; neighborhood destruction in the name of "urban renewal"; and an editorial board that believed its highest duty was promoting the business interests of the owner and his pals. I remember wondering at the time if the writers who created this brilliant piece of satire had worked for the Daily Oklahoman. (Tulsa was still a competitive two-newspaper town in those days. The Oklahoman's rival, the Oklahoma Journal, was on its last legs.) I realize now that the satire resonated because Dacron's social structure was representative of small and mid-sized cities across the fruited plain.

Last week, a local TV station spiked a well-researched news story about funding problems for the proposed south Tulsa / Jenks low-water dam and the awareness of Tulsa elected officials of the problem before they voted to put the proposal on the ballot. The story's sudden withdrawal hints at pressure by local power-brokers, panicked that the public will become aware of the flimsy foundation of the "Vision Tulsa" sales tax proposal. Tulsans will vote three proposed new city taxes and a new county tax up or down in an April 5, 2016, special election.

An extensive 1163-word news story by reporter Rick Maranon about the Muscogee Creek Nation's refusal to commit to funding for maintenance of the dam was posted to last Tuesday evening, March 15, 2016, then was deleted from the website later the same evening. While long website news stories are typically transcripts of video reports airing on Fox23's nightly news cast, no such story was aired.

The story cites a letter from Muscogee Creek Nation officials to city leaders, panicked emails among city officials about the implications of the MCN letter, video of council committee meetings, and other sources of information. Reporter Rick Maranon did a solid job of connecting the dots. Here's one of the more damning excerpts from the story:

FOX23 has reported numerous time within the past year that current and past city officials have stated the current state of the Zink Dam in Tulsa is the result of a lack of proper maintenance funding, and they wanted to set up an endowment so the current disrepair of the dam wouldn't happen again.

City officials long assumed that the Creek Nation would be more than willing to pick up the tab because of their properties along the river involving Riverspirit Casino and the Flying Tee.

But after FOX23 reported that the Creek Nation was going to set up an endowment, members of the Creek Nation began to contact FOX23 saying they were not aware of the multi-million dollar commitment Tulsa officials had allegedly assumed they would be fine with.

The tribe's own internal news agency quoted Creek Nation representatives to Tulsa as saying they were not informed of the plan to set up the endowment and partner with Jenks and Tulsa on the dams.

Multiple sources close to the Vision Tulsa project who have been asked not to be identified have simply said city leaders assumed the tribe would be on board without consulting them of their plans before they presented them to voters as a done deal set in stone.

The first officials meeting to discuss an endowment happened on February 11th, and days later, the tribe officially notified city leaders they were out of the Vision low water dam plan....

On February 23rd, Tulsa City Council Vice Chair Anna America stated in an e-mail to councilors, "I think we need to make that clear to the public ASAP, and not try to be ambiguous at the press conference or in any other comments."

She went on to state in the same e-mail," I don't want to wait that long to say there won't be a south Tulsa dam if the Creeks say today they aren't participating in funding this year."

But the request appears to have fallen on deaf ears because two days later on February 25th, Tulsa city leaders launched the Vision Tulsa campaign stating that two low water dams would be built on the Arkansas River if the proposal is approved April 5th.


On Tuesday, March 15, 2016, at 7:58 pm CDT, Fox23 posted the detailed, 1163-word news story, headlined "Tulsa dam plan dead in the water"

The article was posted at the following URL, which now leads to a "404" page.

A person who saw the story on the Fox23 website when it was live reports that it was offline soon after.


As of Saturday, March 19, 2016, at 7:00 pm CDT, however, the story was still available in the cache of the Bing search engine and cache of the Google search engine captured by Bing when they crawled the page during its brief time in existence.

For posterity, I printed both cached versions of the story to PDF, using the Chrome browser's simplified print option.

Here is a PDF of Bing's cache of Tulsa Dam Plan Dead in the Water.

Here is a PDF of Google's cache of Tulsa dam plan dead in the water.

Other automated web-content harvesters captured portions of the story:

Places to Go in Tulsa: Tulsa dam plan dead in the water - KOKI FOX 23


According to multiple documents, including internal e-mails, Tulsa city leaders knew the south Tulsa-Jenks dam had fallen through, yet Tulsa city leaders not only kicked off their Vision Tulsa campaign in late February as if nothing had happened, they ...

See Full Article

Dams Infrastructure News: Tulsa dam plan dead in the water | FOX23 - KOKI FOX 23


Tulsa dam plan dead in the water | FOX23


A plan to build a low water dam on the Arkansas River in the south Tulsa-Jenks area is dead. The Muscogee Creek Nation said they do not have the funds to ...

and more »

So what happened? Fox23 isn't commenting on the story's disappearance, but it's reasonable to speculate based on behavior by Vote Yes forces in past big-project sales tax elections. I have reason to believe that Vision Tulsa supporters threatened to pull advertising, threatened to cut off any cooperation by city officials on future Fox23 stories, and threw some confusing but irrelevant information at station officials at the last minute -- confusing enough to convince station officials to hold off on the story until more research could be done.

Happily, the story's brief appearance online has pointed other news organizations to the sources of information that Maranon uncovered, and now Jarrell Wade of the Tulsa World has a front-page story today on the Creek Nation's unwillingness to fund the dam. We look forward to further coverage of the story, and we'll also post the full text of the relevant public documents and offer further comment here at BatesLine in the days to come.

We can hope that Fox23 management will realize that they were played by the Vote Yes forces and lost a great scoop as a result, spiking a story that reflects serious journalistic effort and investigative depth. May it only make the Fox23 team more aggressive in exposing dishonesty, obfuscation, and misdirection by public officials.

UPDATED: Added a new tab to the spreadsheet to game out an alternative scenario: Cruz 45, Trump 40, Kasich 15 in remaining contests.

Despite the near-sweep last night for Donald Trump, Ted Cruz still has a plausible path to arriving at the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland with enough pledged delegates to win the nomination on the first ballot.


I've seen many hasty, sloppy delegate-count projections that make faulty assumptions. They often assume that future delegate allocations will be roughly proportional to future popular vote totals. That's easier than analyzing the rules of the states yet to vote.

Twenty-one states and American Samoa have yet to vote. I've looked at each state's rules (thanks to the venerable and detail-obsessed website The Green Papers) and applied one assumption, as a starting point for discussion: That the anti-Trump forces coalesce behind Ted Cruz, who manages a 51% win in every remaining contest. That's 51% of the vote statewide, 51% in each congressional district (if delegates are allocated by CD), 51% in caucuses and conventions.

51% is not a tall order. Trump did not manage to win a majority of the vote in any jurisdiction on March 15, with the exception of the Northern Marianas. Florida -- Trump's second home -- is the only state that he plausibly could have won in a head-to-head match with Cruz.

Many states remaining are plurality-take-all. A few are proportional, except that a 50% winner gets the grand prize of all the delegates.

There are three remaining caucus-and-convention states: Wyoming has to elect its 14 statewide delegates. American Samoa will pledge 6 (its RNC members will remain unpledged). Colorado will elect 34 delegates at its state convention: 14 will be chosen by the convention as a whole, 3 by each congressional district caucusing separately, and the ballots will show the presidential candidate to whom each delegate candidate is pledging his or her support. (Colorado will also send its RNC members unpledged.)

What people who have never been involved in caucuses and conventions fail to understand is that a majority of the delegates to a CD or state convention pick ALL the national convention delegates. Back in 1976, a majority of delegates to the Oklahoma Republican convention were Reagan supporters, which meant that they elected a unanimous slate of 36 Reagan delegates to the Republican National Convention in Kansas City. Based on the Wyoming county convention results, it seems likely that Cruz supporters will control the state convention. I would expect the Colorado and American Samoa conventions will go the same way -- if anti-Trump has majority support, and if Trump opponents coalesce behind Cruz, Cruz would win all of those delegates.

I've uploaded a spreadsheet to Google Docs showing the math. If Cruz has a bare majority of support in the remaining contests, he enters Cleveland with 1289 bound delegates, enough to win the nomination on the first ballot. That doesn't depend on any of the unbound delegates voting for Cruz. Trump would enter Cleveland with 734 bound delegates.

Notice too that I haven't allocated the Pennsylvania congressional district delegates. According to The Green Papers:

Rule 8.4 of the Republican State Committee of Pennsylvania's Rules states that all delegates elected by Congressional District "...shall run at large within the Districts and shall not be officially committed to any particular candidate on the ballot.".

Conceivably, the Cruz and Trump camps would endorse slates of delegates in each congressional district, which would allow us to apply the winner-take-all rule by CD, adding 54 more delegates to Cruz's total. (This table from the state election board will show you all the candidates who have filed to run for delegate in Pennsylvania.)

Varying the scenario a bit, suppose that Trump wins, say, 20 congressional districts, while still losing every statewide total. (I could imagine Trump winning heavily Democrat CDs in New York City with low GOP turnout, without making a dent in a Cruz win fueled by heavy upstate support.) Switch 20 CDs and the total going into Cleveland is Cruz 1239, Trump 794. Cruz would still have a majority of delegates bound to support him.

Even if Kasich stays in and pulls 15% of the vote, Cruz could win remaining contests with 45 to Trump's 40 and go into Cleveland with 1214 delegates to Trump's 800, just shy of what he needs for a first ballot win, but close enough to get over the top easily and to dispel any Trump claim to victory. That's because in most of the remaining contests, a plurality is enough to win all the delegates. If Cruz marshals his forces to get his delegates elected in the Pennsylvania CD contests, he could still enter Cleveland with a bound 1st ballot majority.

Trump can be stopped on the first ballot in Cleveland, if the majority of Republicans, who want to stop Trump, coalesce now behind Ted Cruz. Cruz can win the nomination outright, fair and square, based on the votes cast in primaries and caucuses, without changing the convention rules, without the appearance or reality of backroom deals, without risking a Trump-voter revolt over perceived unfairness. All that is necessary is for the #NeverTrump forces to coalesce today behind Ted Cruz.

AND ANOTHER THING: The first-ballot nomination scenario would have been even stronger for Cruz had Rubio and Kasich dropped out as late as last weekend. (It's evident now that the poll showing Rubio winning early voters in Florida was way, way off. The subsample size was 72, which has an MOE of 11.55%.) Cruz still might not have won Florida -- it's Trump's second homestate -- but he likely would have won the remaining Ides of March states. Claims by Rubio and Kasich supporters that a contested convention was the only way to stop Trump was self-serving and wishful thinking.

ONE MORE THING: By my count, there are 906 delegates that will be bound to one candidate or another by upcoming contests. In which of the remaining states can Kasich win a plurality? He's only done well in his home state and two very small New England states where he spent a lot of time. I could imagine Kasich winning a state like Delaware , Connecticut, or Rhode Island. Maybe Kasich takes a CD or two in New York; he only won six CD delegates in Illinois. So that's 70 delegates or so he might win. The remaining 836 are going to wind up either in Cruz's pile or Trump's, and in large blocks. Each contest will either put Cruz closer to a majority or Trump. Only a very precise and improbably result would produce a situation where Cruz and Trump are both short of a majority and close enough to each other that neither can claim a mandate. Choose ye this day....

WHAT ABOUT KASICH? There aren't enough delegates remaining to win for Kasich to win the nomination on the first ballot. He would have to sweep all remaining delegates and win some of those released by ex-candidates or otherwise unbound delegates to get the majority. He would have to prevent Trump and Cruz from winning a combined 1237 delegates; they already have 1114. A nomination that involves last-minute rules changes or other convention chicanery would be seen as illegitimate by a big chunk of the GOP electorate, dooming not only the GOP's presidential hopes, but likely ending congressional majorities as well. Also, Kasich's decision to skip the Utah debate after Trump punted it tells me that Kasich is playing a game, positioning himself for a job in a Trump administration and not serious about winning.


Ace links and explains one of the media's confusing oversimplifications:

One important thing to keep in mind is that a lot of times the media tells you this or that primary is "proportional."

In fact, they're usually not. Illinois and Missouri were supposedly "proportional." That was shorthand for "Winner take all in the statewide race, then winner take all per Congressional District."

In fact, these "proportional" races turn out to be Winner Take Most, because the statewide winner usually wins almost all -- or just all -- of the Congressional Districts too.

Thus such races can quickly become de facto Winner Take All races, despite the media calling the "proportional."

If someone wins statewide, they might have a massive margin in one CD and lose the rest, but it's more likely that support will be evenly distributed across CDs, barring some special local circumstances. If the race is close, like Oklahoma's 2008 primary, which was then winner-take-all by state and CD, it's more likely that the CD victories will be split. In '08, McCain narrowly won statewide, beating Huckabee by 36.6% to 33.4%, but Huckabee won the two congressional districts nearest Arkansas.

Listening to the Glenn Beck team do their back-of-the-envelope calculation on the March 16, 2016, show, I noticed (with much consternation) that they treated "Winner-Take-Most" (really Winner-Take-All by state and by congressional district) as if they were proportionally allocated.

Ace speculates that Cruz might have better odds of reaching a number shy of 1237, but high enough to be nearly tied. If Cruz and Trump split all 906 remaining delegates, they'd be tied at 1010. (Any Kasich wins of a state or CD would reduce that number accordingly.) 181 are currently bound to ex-candidates for at least the first ballot, unless released. 271 would be uncommitted and up for grabs. Exit question: What will the RNC do to stop Trump from buying delegates?

On Friday, September 6, 1935, Al Stricklin arrived in Tulsa with his wife to take a job as piano player for Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys. After joining Bob and the band for the noon broadcast at the Barrel Food Palace and then rehearsing that afternoon at the home of Bob's parents, Al went along on his first dance gig at a little place called Glenoak, Oklahoma. This account of that dance is excerpted from Chapter 4 of Stricklin's memoir, My Years with Bob Wills, Austin: Eakin Press, 1980. It's a highly entertaining book, with lots of vivid detail. You really get a sense of the times, the people, and most of all, the larger-than-life, magnetic personality of Bob Wills.

Al_Stricklin-My_Years_with_Bob_Wills.jpgIt didn't take long for me to learn about the musical magic of Bob Wills. I learned that first night after that first rehearsal. It was at a place called Glen Oak, a frame building dance hall about fifteen miles east of Bartlesville, Oklahoma....

It was Bob Wills who was leading us in the bus that day as I made my first trip with the band to Glen Oak. It was the beginning of seven years of experiences that many men with money would have given a powerful part of their personal coffers to share....

The guys told me that the women in Oklahoma were wild over the band. So wild that they would gang up on you and take you out and attack you.

They weren't that bad. But I will say that there did seem to be plenty of them who were most agreeable to being most friendly if a man was interested.

"something else you have to watch for, Al. The men in these dance halls like the one we are going to do some powerful drinking. They get crazy drunk, and their eyes get red and watery like an old dog that's been chasing his tail in the sun all day long. And they get to wanting to beat up on us musicians because their women will smile at us and those crazy drunks don't take to that very nice at all," said one of the men.

"So what do I do?" I asked.

"Just keep yourself in the bus if you are afraid to fight. Just sit in here and listen to us," said one of them.

That brought another wild round of laughter.

Our old bus finally clanged into Glen Oak. When I said Glen Oak was out in the coutry, I mean it was out in the country. There were maybe two families living there. One of them owned the dance hall.

The sun was just dipping down into a hall of black when we arrived. There wasn't a car in sight. I thought: "How in the world is this guy Bob Wills going to pay guys like me $30 a week without any customers?"

Then I began worrying that maybe I wasn't going to get paid, just like it used to always happen. I remembered a time when a bunch of us in Waco rented a hall about ten miles out in the sticks. We paid $10 for it. We started playing about 9:00 p.m. There wasn't anybody there. By 10:00, still nobody had shown up. Then we saw the lights of a car turn in and the sax man said, "Let's hit 'Dinah,' men. A car just drove up."

That's how I was feeling. Until about 9:00 p.m. That's when they began coming to the dance at Glen Oak. Cars were pilling up outside. Some people were coming on foot. Some were riding horses. By 9:00, they were having to turn them away.

We started playing. Bob hadn't arrived yet. And nobody paid us much mind. About thirty minutes later, while we were playing, I heard the wildest racket I had ever heard. There was applause, yelling, and whistling. People were just going wild. Bob Wills had finally arrived.

He got up there wil us and drug his fiddle out of its case. The crowd had gotten as close as they could to the bandstand. They were packed like three dozen eggs put into a one-dozen egg container. When Bob started, the applause drowned out the music.

Bob was grinning and playing, and every so often he would point that fiddle bow of his at one of the boys and tell him to get with it. We would. And again would come that wave of applause. Maddening. Deafening. I had never heard or seen anything like it. It wasn't a dance. It was a show. A "happening."

The boys had impressed on me during the trip up there that one of the most important things was to watch Bob at all times. You never knew when he would call on you to take it. And if he called on you and you weren't looking at him, that was the unpardonable sin.

They had also told me to smile like crazy when Bob gave me the cue and then to smile again when I had finished my break. And there wasn't any taking a break. By that, I mean you didn't shut down the music any time. That began to hurt me. We had drunk a bunch of coffee right before the dance had started and about 11:00 p.m. I was crossing my legs so many times that if somebody out in the audience was watching me, the probably would have thought that I was doing the Charleston.

Finally, I leaned over to Sleepy and asked, "Sleepy, when are we going to have an intermission?"

"We don't take intermissions. If you've got to go to the bathroom, just forget it," he said.

He was right in a way. We didn't take intermissions. But, every once in awhile, one of us could get down and go back and get some relief. When that time finally came for me, I know I overstayed my allotted time in front of the trough. But man, it sure did feel good. As I was leaving, the first man in the long line behind stopped me and said, "Fellow, I want to shake your hand. You skin them keys on that piano like you were peeling a stalkful of bananas." He laughed and then added, "What I am trying to say is that you are a piano player. One of the best I've ever heard!"

I don't know how I got through that night. But I did. After it was all over, the people crowded around and kept yelling for more, and when they realized there wasn't going to be any more, they started asking for autographs. It was a long ways for a country boy from Grandview to come. I thought later as we were sopping up some chicken fried steak and cream gravy in a cafe before we headed back for Tulsa, "Man, I came awfully close to not coming up here. If every night is like this one, then I think I'll go kick myself for ever even thinking slightly that way."

I went to sleep happy that night. That old moon was outside our bedroom window, still pretty high in the sky considering how late it was. It looked like it was winking happiness at me.

Old county maps pinpoint Glenoak on US 60, just east of the Washington-Nowata County line, with a cluster of homes and a commercial building (probably the dance hall) on the southside of the road.

MORE: Jerry Stevens writes with a story of Glenoak, where his grandfather had been a bouncer for Bob Wills.

My Grandpa used to say that there would be model "T"'s parked all the way around the east curve along the highway. There was also chicken wire across the front of the stage to protect the band from thrown bottles. It was a wild place alright. My Grandma told of a time that she drove down to the dance (my dad and Uncle were with her) to pick up my Grandpa after the dance and when he came out the front 5 men jumped him and beat him up for kicking them out of the dance. They knocked him out and went over and were standing there talking in the parking lot. He woke up and went over to them and knocked out the one that hit him last and they beat him up again. Grand Dad had a permanent knot on his head from a whiskey bottle he was hit with in the fight. Dad said he (Grand Pa) later caught up with each one of them and paid them back. I guess a lot of people from all around used to go there.

The east curve is over two miles east of where Glenoak is marked on the map. Imagine having to walk for over half-an-hour to get to the dance and half-an-hour back to your car when it was all over.

You saw it here first, back on February 25. BatesLine broke the story of maximum or near maximum donations by 16 executives and employees of ISTI Plant Services to Tulsa County sheriff candidate Vic Regalado, many of them of apparently modest means.

On Tuesday, officers of the Tulsa County Democratic Party issued a press release to request the Oklahoma Ethics Commission to investigate those contributors as possible "straw donors" -- giving money on behalf of someone else as a way of evading legal limits on campaign contributions.


Today the Tulsa County Democratic Party made a formal request for an immediate investigation to the Oklahoma Ethics Commission (the agency that regulates political campaign contributions) and to other Oklahoma law enforcement agencies, including the Tulsa and Rogers Counties District Attorneys and the the Attorney General, of possible straw donors to the Vic Regalado for Sheriff Campaign.

Recent media reports have called into question more than a dozen substantial contributions to the Regalado campaign, made by employees of ISTI Plant Services, a Rogers County based Port of Catoosa manufacturing concern. The contributions total approximately $40,000 and make up about 25% of the campaign's primary election receipts. ISTI employees and their spouses contributed the maximum or near maximum of $2700 each. Most of these donors live in modest middle or working class housing. Several of the spouses do not work outside the home. One donor is a twice convicted felon who had his tax refund intercepted because he could not pay his fines and had to arraign for $50 a month payments. Several of the donors live in Rogers County or are not even registered voters. It is very unusual for such individuals to give such large amounts, strongly suggesting others provided the funds, others who must have maxed out on donations.

Jo Glenn, Tulsa Democratic Party Chair stated with regard to the ethics complaint: "It is time for the light of day to shine on where these donors got the funds to make maximum contribution in a local Sheriff's race. The authorities need to ask the tough questions and examine the financial records of these individuals to make sure they are contributing their own funds and not the funds from some other affluent supporters."

Tulsa County Democratic Party Vice Chair Greg Bledsoe said: "The strong circumstantial evidence leads to just one conclusion: someone else other than the contributor supplied the funds. Someone is trying to buy this election. The Tulsa Democratic Party calls on the Vic Regalado Campaign to return the questionable funds immediately."

Candidate Regalado crashed the Democrats' press conference and played the race card (more precisely, the ethnicity card) to question the motives of those making the accusations:

Regalado called the ethics investigation request "political posturing at its best" and said he welcomes any investigation. He said those donors "are excited about the prospect" of the first Hispanic sheriff to be elected in Tulsa County.

"I truly believe this is the political equivalent of racial profiling," Regalado said.

As Greg Bledsoe noted, not all of the donors in question have Hispanic surnames, and there was, as BatesLine reported previously, a similar cluster of large donations from ISTI-connected donors to Tulsa County District Attorney candidate Brian Crain, who is not Hispanic as far as I am aware.

Regalado is either naive or disingenuous to claim that this request for an investigation is "the political equivalent of racial profiling" and to claim that there's no probable cause to investigate. As a conservative Republican, I've had enough of people playing the race card to deflect valid criticism of the policies and ethics of elected officials. I will not vote for a candidate to be the top law enforcement officer in our county if he hurls unfounded accusations of racism and pretends not to see a pattern that hints strongly of illegal activity.

The reason we're having a special election for sheriff is because the previous sheriff, Stanley Glanz, was beset of accusations of donors buying their way into the reserve deputy program, with the sheriff turning a blind eye to irregularities in certification. Chris Miyata, commenting on Facebook, wrote:

Let's get out the Glanz playbook.
  • Accept excessive funds by those who wish to have a strong influence over the Sheriffs department.
  • Only speak out against allegations of corruption, when the outside entity that brought corruption to the department faces legal punishments for their action.
  • Use direct and indirect intimidation to silence critics

When corruption goes unnoticed until the threat of punishment looms overhead speaks to either being complacent in addressing ethical problems or complicit. Neither is an attribute that I'd like to see in our new sheriff.

Joe Chandler commented on the same thread:

I'm more conservative than you'd believe, but this "Republican" is an embarrassment. If he can't see that there is reason to take a hard look at all that cash coming from one, almost unanimous group formed by the employees of one small company, he's not much of an investigator. Couple that with what must have felt like an intimidation attempt in his showing up at the meeting and we have a problem.

While I was disappointed in Luke Sherman's loss in the March 1 special primary, I was open to the possibility that Vic Regalado could be a decent sheriff, despite the heavy giving from the local powers that be and this odd cluster of giving from people connected with one Rogers County company. Regalado's actions and statements at the press conference on Tuesday have convinced me that he is the wrong man for the job. Whether Regalado wins or loses on April 5, I'll be voting for Luke Sherman in the June primary for the next four-year term.

The Tulsa County Republican Men's Club is hosting a forum tonight, Tuesday, March 8, 2016, at 7:00 p.m., about the upcoming April 5 vote on the "Vision Tulsa" tax propositions. George McFarlin and I will be there to explain why you should vote against the propositions. I understand that there will be some Vote No yard signs available to opponents, for a donation to cover the cost.

The format of the event keeps changing, as the Vote Yes side has dithered about what format they consider acceptable and whether they will participate at all. This is typical behavior in every tax proposal: The Vote Yes side knows that their case is weak, and they try to limit any opportunity for the Vote No side to be heard, particularly in a debate format where questions may be asked that the proponents would rather not answer. The Vote Yes side will refuse to participate in a forum or debate and then pressure the hosting organization into not holding the event because it wouldn't be fair for only one side to be represented. I'm happy to say that many radio and TV stations and civic organizations are no longer taken in by that argument; they insist that the event will go forward under their rules, whether the Vote Yes side chooses to participate or not. When faced with a resolute debate host, the Vote Yes side will comply more often than not.

In any event, we'll be there and will be prepared to answer specifics about each proposition and project as well as explain why we think "Vision Tulsa" is myopic and a bad deal for Tulsa.


Many thanks to the Tulsa County Republican Men's Club for setting up this forum, to KRMG for mentioning it on the air, and to KTUL for coming out to talk to some of us for a story that aired this evening.

TCRMC worked with members of the City Council to get someone to this meeting to speak in favor of the tax propositions, but none of them showed up. David Schuttler put together a video highlight reel of the meeting. I didn't take a head count, but I think about 30 people were in attendance.

A former councilor, Skip Steele, who used to represent District 6 in east Tulsa, showed up, and he didn't like what he heard. He didn't care for my statement that Vision 2025 failed in its stated mission of economic development. I pointed out that we were promised that if we passed Vision 2025 it would create enough new economic activity through the convention business and tourism that we would have more local sales tax revenues to spend on basic city services like public safety and streets. It manifestly did not work, because now the city is asking is to pass a 17.25% increase in our permanent sales tax rate to cover basic operating expenses. If Vision 2025 had succeeded in growing the economy as promised, retail sales would have gone up so much we wouldn't need to increase the permanent sales tax rate.

Steele also took exception to our statement that the police and fire departments currently use up 100% of the revenues the city derives from the permanent 2% sales tax (an insight first brought to our attention by then-Councilor Bill Martinson in 2009), and that there were other sources of revenue coming into the general fund that pay for non-public-safety expenses.

The facts backed us up. According to page 3-7 of the FY2016 City of Tulsa budget document, in FY2014 (the most recent year for actuals), the city's general fund received $145,998,000 in sales tax revenues. That same fiscal year (page 3-9), the city spent $156,534,000 on Public Safety and Protection, which includes Police, Fire, Municipal Court, and Emergency Management. That's 107% of the revenue from the 2% sales tax.

Beyond the 2% permanent sales tax, the general fund also received revenues from the city's use tax, franchise fees from ONG, PSO, Cox Cable, and the Right of Way Occupancy Fee, hotel/motel taxes, licenses and permits, shared revenue (liquor tax apportionment, gasoline tax, tobacco tax, vehicle license), intergovernmental revenue grants and reimbursements, payments from trust authorities for general government support services, code enforcement fines and fees, PAC revenue, park revenue, fines and forfeitures, airport fire reimbursement, interest income, miscellaneous revenue, and transfers in from other funds. In FY2014, the general fund received $261,176,000 in total annual resources. There's a pie chart on page 3-5 showing how much revenue comes from each category. General fund outlays were $257,709,000 (page 3-11).

Another point that bothered Steele -- something that was incidental to the main topic -- was a reference to property taxes as city revenues. He said the city couldn't draw on property taxes. A gentleman in the audience emphatically pointed to his property tax statement which showed a little over 16% going to the City of Tulsa. George McFarlin pointed to corroborating information on his property tax statement. While it's true that the city can't use property taxes for operating expenses, the city has a millage, which feeds a sinking fund, which pays for legal judgments against the city and for debt service on our general obligation bond issues. Each year the county excise board looks at the city's sinking fund obligations and calculates the millage required, based on the valuation of all the taxable property in the city limits, to meet that obligation.

George and I will be on Talk Radio 1170 KFAQ on Wednesda, March 9, 2016, with Pat Campbell and Eddie Huff to discuss Vision Tulsa and No More Dam Taxes. If you don't have an AM radio handy, listen live online.

If you take time to read the Vision Tulsa ballot resolutions and ordinances that define the new city sales tax rate and control how the new city sales taxes will be spent, the barrage of changing tax rates and effective dates may make your head swim. That's why I put together an infographic to help me visualize those changes. This infographic revealed a trap, a hidden tax hike that Dewey Bartlett Jr., G. T. Bynum IV, and the rest of the City Council hope you overlook.

Proponents claim that Vision Tulsa won't increase the overall sales tax rate, but there's a hidden trap in Proposition 3 that will force voters in 2021 to accept a hike in the overall tax rate in order to continue the longstanding "Third Penny" for streets and other basic infrastructure.

This chart shows the current allocation of City of Tulsa and Tulsa County sales taxes, with the proposed changes on the April 5, 2016, ballot highlighted with a heavy black boundary. Blue regions are permanent taxes for operations, orange regions are temporary taxes primarily for basic infrastructure capital improvements like streets and sewers, purple regions are "vision" taxes primarily for amenities and "economic development." City taxes are shown with darker shades, county taxes with lighter shades.


Tulsa County's "Vision 2025" 0.6% sales tax expires at the end of 2016. The City of Tulsa is proposing a combination of temporary and permanent taxes that begins at 0.55% for 4½ years, climbs to 1.15% for 4 years, shrinks back to 0.65% for 6½ years, and then leaves a permanent increase of 0.345%. Tulsa County is proposing a 0.05% increase for 15 years.

Starting in 1980, Tulsa citizens have approved a series of temporary sales taxes, earmarked for streets, reservoirs, sewers, stormwater system, and other fundamental city infrastructure. Because the original tax was an additional 1% levied on top of the 2% sales tax for the city's general fund, it became known as the "Third Penny."

The current "Third Penny" is 1.1% and it expires on June 30, 2021. If Vision Tulsa passes, it will grab a half-penny from that expiring "Third Penny" and put it toward Proposition 3, which includes building two new low-water dams in the Arkansas River. Another 0.1% from the expiring tax will go to increasing the permanent tax for public safety operational costs. That leaves only a ½ penny for a new streets package.

That four-year bulge in the Vision Tulsa tax amounts to $160 million that won't be going to rebuild our crumbling streets. Instead, that's just about what it will cost to build two new dams in the river.

If we VOTE NO on APRIL 5, the Council can eliminate the dams and a couple of other wasteful projects, and thus eliminate that four-year, ½-penny bulge in the Vision Tulsa tax, before sending it back to us for another vote. That would leave room for our traditional "Third Penny" for streets and basic infrastructure to be extended as usual in 2021 without an overall tax increase. To make that happen, we have to VOTE NO ON APRIL 5.


Here is a PRINTABLE VERSION of the Tulsa sales tax timeline that you can download and hand out to your friends.

Infographic and text Copyright 2016 by Michael D. Bates. Limited license granted to opponents of Vision Tulsa to copy and distribute without alteration prior to April 6, 2016.

Derryck Green, an African-American writer currently pursuing his doctorate in theology and ministry, has written several recent columns at JuicyEcumenism critical of the way certain evangelical groups are falling all over themselves to embrace #BlackLivesMatter. Back in December, Green wrote that Intervarsity had been "seduced by compartmentalized justice" when it invited #BlackLivesMatter member Michelle Higgins to be a plenary speaker at Urbana 15, Intervarsity's triennial missions conference.

Christian leaders have a tremendous responsibility to be voices and examples of reason. Christian credibility is at stake. So it's a cause for concern when Christians engage in negligent and questionable behavior. Here it involves using racial guilt to manipulate Christians into supporting a movement that perpetuates a secular social and political narrative that consists of lies and racial paranoia under the guise of fighting racial inequality....

Further, if the goal is to reduce the racial disparities in education, people should not only advocate that poor children receive better quality education, they should also encourage the redemption and reconciliation of the black family. Not only would that contribute to the mitigation of academic disparities suffered by blacks, increasing the number of intact black families would also mitigate the racial disparities in the criminal justice system. Blacks aren't locked up disproportionately simply and only because they're black. Blacks are imprisoned disproportionately because of the disintegration of the family and the collapse of the Christian moral value system.

Speaking of criminals, here's another fact: #BlackLivesMatter valorizes black criminality and sanctifies black criminals. The lives of everyday blacks don't matter to this movement, including the lives of blacks tormented by black criminals. This is why #BlackLivesMatter is a misnomer. The only black lives that matter to these social agitators are the ones killed by (white) cops, largely the result of the actions of the criminals themselves. Defending and honoring the lives of black criminals over the lives of blacks that aren't criminals, but in need of our attention, is despicable and unworthy of being called or legitimized by Christianity.

Green's most recent column looks at an article Mark Charles, a Native American activist, who wrote about his decision not to participate in communion at Urbana 15 and not to participate in a plenary session of prayer for persecuted Christians around the world. Green doesn't use the phrase "virtue signaling" but it fits the phenomenon that Green describes.

Moreover, supporting Black Lives Matter is lazy activism. Actually, it's not activism at all. It's a public display -- theater really -- to show the viewing public that you hold the socially acceptable view on this social/political trend to avoid being morally implicated or socially associated with the "problem" this organization claims to address.

To the point, I'm convinced that people don't really want to address racial discrimination and inequality -- where it actually exists. The waters are intentionally muddied so people can't see or think clearly about the issue -- in this case, directly addressing the "root causes" of racial disparities to lay blame on that which is responsible -- even if and when it means to do so implicates the suffering. Instead, this has become a cause without end -- for if it ends, people would no longer have the prospect of feeling good about themselves by marginalizing racism through public displays of fruitless, self-aggrandizing, abstract forms of "activism" that are nothing more than a therapeutic salve for our collective racial insecurities.

For whites -- Christian and non-Christian alike -- forthrightly addressing racial discrimination and inequality or the sake of the affected would mean no longer engaging in obligatory acts of charity that disempower minorities simply to absolve feelings of racial guilt. It would also mean rejecting the premise that the mere existence of racial disparities are themselves evidence of racism. In other words it means refusing the predetermined parameters of the current "conversation on race," which include being forced to acknowledge and admit white privilege and accepting blame for all that befalls racial minorities- and doing so knowing that baseless charges of racism will ensue. It will be difficult, but as Christians, in some respect, it's picking up your cross in pursuit and obedience of the one who died on it.

For blacks, again, Christian and non-Christian alike, candidly addressing racial discrimination and racial inequality means no longer willingly relishing racial victimization and helplessness, while using it as a form of power/social leverage to extract more white guilt in the form of continued and forced moral genuflections, and social reparation. Instead it means acknowledging responsibility and embracing the obligation to engage the same kind of self-determination our antecedents relied on for dignity and success in far more difficult circumstances than we face, in a country that was significantly more racist than it is today. This will be difficult as well -- very difficult actually -- because to choose self-determination over victimization and white guilt is considered racial betrayal, violating the unwritten rules of black racial solidarity that leads to racial excommunication. But, this too, is bearing one's cross in pursuit and obedience of the one who died on it.

Regarding that last point: After the 1921 Race Riot, the African-American residents of Tulsa's Greenwood District built it back better than it had been before, with much of the reconstruction complete within a year. Newspapers and other documents of the period (such as the 1921 Booker T. Washington High School yearbook) reveal the high standards the community had set for itself, in the face of tremendous government and private racial discrimination.

One more note: I was disheartened last year to see that an old friend of mine who works for a campus parachurch ministry was promoting Mark Charles and his revisionist view of Native American history. Campus ministries and many evangelical churches seem to believe that they must embrace the professional racism industry in order to earn a hearing among millennials.

On Monday, I walked over 17,760 steps, delivering flyers in support of Ted Cruz to my precinct and a neighboring precinct. Tuesday after work, my daughter and I stood with other Cruz supporters at 101st and Memorial, waving signs to remind homeward-bound commuters to vote.

You're welcome, Ted. You're welcome, America.

Cruz won statewide in Oklahoma and won four of five congressional districts. (Rubio won the 5th congressional district.) Because of proportional delegate allocation, Cruz won 16 delegates, Trump won 14, and Rubio won 13, of Oklahoma's 43 delegates. In Texas, Cruz won every congressional district, taking home 104 delegates, to 48 for Trump, and 3 for Rubio. In the wee hours of Wednesday morning, we learned that Cruz also won Alaska. Arkansas was close enough -- a 2.3% margin -- that had Carson withdrawn earlier, Cruz probably would have won.

Trump's best results were in Massachusetts, where voters can pick a primary on the day of the election, and were in the heart of the old Confederacy -- Tennessee, Alabama, and Georgia. Trump topped 40% only in Massachusetts (49.3%) and Alabama (43.4%). Interestingly, Trump's best counties in Oklahoma were in the region once known as "Little Dixie."

Rubio got his first win of the campaign, with 36.5% of the vote in the Minnesota caucuses. (Cruz finished 2nd, Trump finished 3rd.)

The current delegate totals after Super Tuesday:

Trump 338
Cruz 236
Rubio 112
Kasich 27
Carson 8
Bush 4
Paul 1
Huckabee 1
Fiorina 1

(I rely on The Green Papers for accurate counts. The website has been paying scrupulous attention to delegate allocation rules since its inception in 1999, and I trust The Green Papers to stick to the facts.)

On the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders beat Hillary Clinton in Oklahoma and Vermont and won caucuses in Colorado and Minnesota, came close in Massachusetts, but Hillary won everywhere else.

Vic Regalado won the GOP nomination for the unexpired term for sheriff. He will face Democrat Rex Berry on April 5. I am hearing that second place finisher Luke Sherman intends to file for the full four-year term regardless of the outcome of the special election.

MORE: On his Facebook page, Luke Sherman announced his intention to file and run for the full four-year term:

I am grateful for the overwhelming support so many of you have shown me last night and into this morning. Despite spending three times the amount of money that we did, our competitor still couldn't convince voters and win the majority.

Today is the first day of the next leg of my campaign. We are moving forward to the June 28th primary to fill the next full 4 year term. I still believe that with the right bold leadership, the TCSO can be one the best law enforcement agencies in the country. Thank you all for your prayers and support. Katie and I are committed to bringing Tulsa County together. ‪#‎ShermanForSheriff‬


Happy election day! Polls open across Oklahoma at 7 a.m. and close at 7 p.m.

Results should start rolling in soon after 7 p.m. The Oklahoma State Election Board website will update results as they are received from the county election boards. Although results are posted on each precinct door shortly after the polls close, a precinct's results have to be taken to the county election board to be read into the state election computer system. Be aware that the county election boards will not process and transmit the tallies from individual precincts to the State Election Board computers until all absentee ballots (both in-person and by mail) are counted and posted. This was the cause for a significant delay in November 2012. Some media outlets may employ runners to go to the precincts directly in order to post initial results before Election Board numbers are ready.

For the fastest results around the country, try I'll be helping to gather results for Oklahoma.

A few resources as you go to vote:

Thumbnail image for IVoted.jpg

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

Take it away, Leon!

Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys perform "Election Day" by Cindy Walker in the movie Wyoming Hurricane, starring Russell Hayden. Leon McAuliffe on vocals; Cotton Thompson, Bob Wills, and Jesse Ashlock on fiddle, Junior Barnard on guitar, Luke Wills on bass. And from the same movie, here's Cotton Thompson to deliver Cindy Walker's message for many of our candidates:

I hear you talkin', yes, I do,
But your talk-talk-talkin' don't ring true,
I'm listenin' politely, too,
But I don't b'lieve a word you say.

I hear you talkin', tellin' lies,
I can see it in those great big eyes.
I hear you talkin' wise,
But I don't b'lieve a word you say.

You say that I'm your honey-love,
That I'm all you're thinkin' of,
I hear you talkin', dove,
But you ain't been foolin' me.

Posted in the wee hours of Tuesday, March 1, 2016. Postdated to remain at the top of the blog through poll closing time.

Bumped to the top through Tuesday. Originally posted on February 27, 2016.


Oklahoma's presidential preference primary is this coming Tuesday, March 1, 2016, and I urge my fellow Oklahoma Republicans to join me in voting for Sen. Ted Cruz for President.

I've voted in every Oklahoma presidential primary -- the first one was held in 1988 -- and usually most of the good candidates are gone by the time it's our turn to vote. Only rarely have I been able to vote for the candidate I felt was the best choice. This is one of those rare, good years.

I want a president who understands what made our country a peaceful, prosperous, and powerful nation, what factors have undermined that peace and prosperity, and what the President can do to get us back on the right track. (It's also important to have a president who understands what is beyond his authority to affect.) I want a president with a clear understanding of the goal, a sense of urgency to take action, the strategic sense to plan the steps needed to reach the goal, the ability to persuade with clarity and conviction, and the mental agility to respond to attacks and adjust to changing circumstances, without compromising his principles.

Ted Cruz has demonstrated all of those qualities during the course of a distinguished public career. As the Director of Public Policy Planning at the Federal Trade Commission, Ted Cruz built bipartisan support for measures that removed regulatory barriers to e-commerce, expanding consumer choice and opening new global markets to American small businesses. (You like ordering contact lens refills and wine over the Internet? Thank Ted Cruz.)

As Solicitor General of Texas, Ted Cruz represented the rights of Texans and all Americans, arguing nine cases at the U. S. Supreme Court (8 as SG, 1 as a private attorney) and submitting amicus briefs in many others. In the Medellin v. Texas case, Cruz successfully defended Texas's right to put a brutal murderer to death, despite an attempt by the World Court, with the Bush administration's approval, to stay the execution because the murderer was a foreign national. Cruz's amicus brief in the D. C. v. Heller gun-rights case, filed on behalf of 31 states (including Oklahoma), helped to put the Supreme Court on record that the 2nd Amendment guarantees the individual's right to keep and bear arms.

As a U. S. Senator, Ted Cruz kept his promise to oppose amnesty for illegal immigrants. Working with allies in the Senate and the House, Cruz used the amendment process to expose the the Gang of 8's assurances as hollow. When he offered to write their assurances into the bill as amendments, the open-borders bunch in the Senate showed their true colors and voted them down, which gave opponents the ammunition they needed to stop the bill in the House.

Cruz's push to defund Obamacare, using Congress's power of the purse as an effective check on the President's power, helped propel Republicans to a majority in the Senate at the 2014 election, even though it panicked Senate GOP leadership, who waved the white flag before the battle had even been engaged.

Cruz has shown political courage and an ability to persuade voters to look at issues from another point of view. While campaigning in Iowa, he held firm in his opposition to subsidies for corn ethanol, while also calling for removing bureaucratic limits on ethanol blends, and yet he still finished first in that corn-fixated state.

Among Texans who know him well, Cruz has been endorsed by his former boss (Texas Gov. Greg Abbott), his adversary in the 2012 Senate race (David Dewhurst), and his former competitor for the presidency (former Gov. Rick Perry).

Prof. Thomas Sowell, one of the intellectual giants of the conservative movement, has endorsed Ted Cruz for president, particularly in light of the Supreme Court vacancy left by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia:

Senator Ted Cruz has been criticized in this column before, and will undoubtedly be criticized here again. But we can only make our choices among those actually available, and Senator Cruz is the one who comes to mind when depth and steadfastness come to mind.

As someone who once clerked for a Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, he will know how important choosing Justice Scalia's replacement will be. And he has the intellect to understand much more.

Cruz has received a couple of high-profile backhanded endorsements as well. The Left isn't afraid of Trump. The Left and the GOP establishment both know that Donald Trump can be shaped and moulded to serve their purposes. Former President Jimmy Carter said at a speech at Britain's House of Lords that he prefers Donald Trump to Ted Cruz, because Trump is "malleable" and Cruz is not.

"If I had a choice of Republican nominees -- let's just say, for instance, between Cruz and Trump -- I think I would choose Trump, which may surprise some of you. But the reason is that Trump has proven already that he's completely malleable. I don't think he has any fixed opinions that he would really go to the White House and fight for. On the other hand, Ted Cruz is not malleable. He has far-right-wing policies, in my opinion, that would be pursued aggressively if and when he might become president."

Robert Reich, Secretary of Labor in the Clinton Administration, is another left-winger frightened by the thought of Cruz as President. Lefty Reich's knocks against Cruz only make me like Ted Cruz even more. (Emphasis added below.) The first item is practically a recitation of the GOP platform.

4 Reasons Ted Cruz is Even More Dangerous than Donald Trump.

1. Cruz is more fanatical. Sure, Trump is a bully and bigot, but he doesn't hew to any sharp ideological line. Cruz is a fierce ideologue: He denies the existence of man-made climate change, rejects same-sex marriage, wants to abolish the Internal Revenue Service, believes the 2nd amendment guarantees everyone a right to guns. He doesn't believe in a constitutional divide between church and state, favors the death penalty, rejects immigration reform, demands the repeal of Obamacare, and takes a strict "originalist" view of the meaning of the Constitution.

2. Cruz is a true believer. Trump has no firm principles except making money, getting attention, and gaining power. But Cruz has spent much of his life embracing radical right economic and political views.

3. Cruz is more disciplined and strategic. Trump is all over the place, often winging it, saying whatever pops into his mind. Cruz hews to a clear script and a carefully crafted strategy. He plays the long game (as he's shown in Iowa).

4. Cruz is a loner who's willing to destroy government institutions to get his way. Trump has spent his career using the federal government and making friends with big shots. Not Cruz. He has repeatedly led Republicans toward fiscal cliffs. In the Fall of 2013, his opposition to Obamacare led in a significant way to the shutdown of the federal government.

That all sounds pretty good to me. I especially like the fact that Cruz "plays the long game." Cruz has been the most successful fundraiser among the candidates, and he's done it with a massive number of relatively small donations. In the final quarter of 2015, Cruz received contributions from 300,000 donors, averaging $67 each.

Combine fundraising success with careful spending, and you have a campaign that can be there and be competitive all the way to the convention. One of my frustrations with Rick Santorum in 2012 was that he threw everything into winning Iowa, but didn't have the resources to continue momentum in other states. Ted Cruz is prepared to go the distance.

Here in Oklahoma, Ted Cruz has won the endorsement of the most consistently conservative of our elected officials, including Congressman Jim Bridenstine. I'm proud to add my name to that distinguished list, and I hope you'll join me at the polls on Tuesday to vote for Ted Cruz for President.


John Stossel's report on the Cruz campaign's big-data-driven campaign, led by Oklahoma's own Chris Wilson.

UPDATE for the primary for the full-four year term: Luke Sherman has been endorsed by four of the other candidates in the special election primary, and he continues to have my support.

The race to fill the unexpired term of former Tulsa County Sheriff Stanley Glanz has been a strange one for me. It's one of the few local races where I knew none of the candidates before the election, and I've only met two of them during the course of the campaign.

It's a strange election for everyone. The election is only for the term ending at the end of this year. Within a couple of weeks after the general election results are in, it will be time to file to run for a complete four-year term.

Today, Tulsa County Republicans will pick one of nine candidates to face the lone Democratic candidate, Rex Berry, in the April 5, 2016 special election. After listening to Pat Campbell's interviews with the candidates on KFAQ, reading the Tulsa 9/12 Project's candidate questionnaire, and listening to most of KRMG's debate, I've decided to vote for Luke Sherman to be our next Tulsa County Sheriff.

I've thought for quite a while that we needed an experienced lawman from outside the TCSO and the culture that had been so damaged by Glanz's failed leadership. That eliminated a few of the candidates.

Because this primary is first-past-the-post with no runoff, campaign strength had to be a tie-breaker among similarly qualified candidates.

I eliminated Vic Regalado almost immediately. The large number of high-dollar contributions from high rollers and the mysterious cluster of max or near-max contributions from executives and employees from one company is worrisome. Why so much interest in this candidate? What are they expecting from him? At the KRMG debate, when asked about his executive/administrative experience, important for a position that oversees dozens of deputies, jail officers, and other employees, Regalado talked vaguely around the issue. He could cite no concrete qualifications in this area.

John Fitzpatrick has an impressive resume outside of law enforcement, but his service in law enforcement has been limited to the TPD reserve officers' program. I'm also concerned about a developer and a developer's attorney among his prominent donors and endorsers: Joe Westervelt and Lou Reynolds. Do you suppose that foreclosures and the sheriff's power to appoint appraisers have anything to do with this?

A number of my friends are supporting Tom Helm. What crossed him off my list was an answer he gave Pat Campbell (about 10 minutes in) about why it took Eric Harris's death to bring problems in the TCSO to light. Helm said that people in the organization raised concerns. He said he was told that he would "have to deal with it." Evidently that's what he did. He left the sheriff's office, but opted to say nothing publicly that might have exposed the rot. He seemed to be rationalizing the decision to protect his paycheck by keeping his mouth shut. Hardly a profile in courage.

I've been most impressed by Luke Sherman. From his website, here's a summary of his experience as a Tulsa Police officer:

He has served in many roles during his 23-year decorated career with the Tulsa Police Department. He joined the department in September of 1992 and has been an officer, field training officer, supervisor, field training supervisor, academy instructor and firearms instructor.

Luke_Sherman-Sheriff-2016.pngIn 1995, Luke was selected to join the department's SWAT team, where he served as a tactical operator, assistant team leader and finally as the assistant team commander. During over a decade on the team, he took part in many successful high-risk missions.

As a corporal (1998) among other assignments, he led a successful city-wide task force targeting the rise in methamphetamine production, usage and sales. As a sergeant (1999), he has supervised field units and specialty squads throughout the city.

Since 2008, he has led the department's very active Fugitive Warrant's Unit and also is one of the leaders of the U.S. Marshal's Violent Crimes Task Force. Both of these units are responsible for the arrest of thousands of violent criminals related to on-going high profile investigations, as well as fugitives from the Tulsa area and from other parts of the U.S. He led a multi-divisional police operational group during the Good Friday shootings (2012), the Best Buy shooting (2012) and a "Stranger Abduction" of a 8-year-old girl in east Tulsa (2014). Luke's unit was successful in identifying, locating and arresting the suspects in these three high profile cases.

Luke is a nationally recognized figure to law enforcement communities across the United States and in several other countries. As a director for the National Tactical Officer's Association (NTOA), Luke has played a pivotal role in assisting and providing subject matter expertise to members of both the U.S. Senate and U.S. Congress in topics such as the Ferguson riot incidents and the topic of the militarization of police forces. As an instructor for the NTOA, he has provided nearly 5000 hours of instruction in topics such as active shooter, hostage rescue, high-risk warrants, civil disturbance, barricaded gunman, legal considerations in policing and SWAT, civil disturbance, team leader and command-level decision making.

Sherman's answers to questionnaires and his interview responses indicate intelligence and thoughtfulness. His responses to the Tulsa 9/12 Project showed an awareness of the non-law-enforcement aspects of the job. I was pleased to see this in one of his replies: "I am also looking into partnerships with other local agencies and redirecting some excess earmarked ad valorem funds that are not being used by Tulsa Technology Center and Tulsa Community College." While this will require considerable political capital, there is no doubt that the earmarked millage levies enjoyed by TTC and TCC provide them with more than enough money; elected county officials should give voters the opportunity to reduce the TTC and TCC levies and find a way to shift that revenue stream to more productive uses.

An honorable mention goes to Jason Jackson, who has an impressive record of service of nearly 20 years with the Jenks Police Department, degrees in criminology and religious studies from Liberty University, and experience as a pastor. Jackson also has given solid answers in interviews and questionnaires.

I've endorsed Sherman over Jackson because I think Sherman is better placed to beat well-financed but less-desirable candidates in this first-past-the-post primary, and because I think service in leadership roles in the police department of the state's second largest city is better training for sheriff of the second largest county than leadership in a small city's police force.

I encourage you to join me in voting later today for Luke Sherman for the Republican nomination for Tulsa County Sheriff.

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This page is an archive of entries from March 2016 listed from newest to oldest.

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