Oklahoma Politics: October 2008 Archives

All you folks who have been asking me about the state questions and the judicial retention ballot -- here you go. My extra piece in this week's Urban Tulsa Weekly is about Oklahoma's four state questions and retention votes for some of our supreme court and appeals court judges. In a nutshell, vote yes on all the state questions, and vote no on all the judges, particularly Civil Appeals Court Judge Jane Wiseman.

The Cityscope column proper is about the City of Tulsa street tax again, with a summary of the responses I received from the Tulsa Public Works Department, a summary of the case the Papa Bear proponents are making against the Mama Bear plan, and how County Assessor Ken Yazel's proposal fits in with all this.

New city reporter Brandon Honig debuts in the current issue, with a solid story about the Tulsa Development Authority and its problems with the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development. And Natasha Ball has a lovely story about the Remingtons, a couple who adopted a family of five siblings early this year.

Later, I'll add links to this entry to background info on the judges and state questions. But this'll have to do for now.

This week in Urban Tulsa Weekly, I return to the topic of the November 4 City of Tulsa street sales tax and bond issue vote, raising some questions I hope can be convincingly answered between now and election day.

In an extra op-ed, I explain why voters of all political orientations should choose the eminently qualified Dana Murphy for the two-year term seat on the Corporation Commission over appointed incumbent Jim Roth, whose personal connections and campaign finances indicate a far-too-cozy relationship with Chesapeake Energy, one of the businesses he regulates. For good measure, here's my editorial endorsing Dana Murphy in the Republican primary.


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Until recently, Democratic 1st District Congressional nominee Georgianna Oliver proudly boasted the endorsement of ACORN, the left-wing organization in the news recently in connection with fraudulent voter registration activities in numerous swing states. It was the top of her "professional endorsements" page. Mad Okie noticed that that endorsement had vanished for some reason, but he was able to capture a screenshot from Google's cache. He was also able to capture the PDF directly from the website before it was removed from the oliverforcongress.com website, a brief, unsigned and undated memo on ACORN VOTES letterhead from Patricia Walker, "North Tulsa Chapter Chairperson, ACORN Votes." The PDF file has a creation date of September 16.

The Red Dirt Report recently received an exclusive peek at an abandoned ACORN office in southern Oklahoma City:

Left hurriedly and in a shambles, the small office, coated in a layer of plaster dust, still housed computers, documents, registration forms, I-9 employment info and boxes with an IRS return address and others with a return address for an ACORN office in New Orleans.

The person working at this office, Adam Carter, had reportedly skipped town in June, according to the landlord. and in August, an ACORN representative from Tulsa came down and took more items, leaving behind what was found by Red Dirt Report. ACORN never fulfilled it's year lease for the property and never paid a dime in rent. The landlord told Red Dirt Report that the ACORN workers seemed to attract trouble and that there was something not quite right about what they were doing. The landlord also said that the aforementioned Tulsa ACORN worker, named "Brittany," said ACORN didn't have any money to pay for the rent and that Carter had depleted the South Oklahoma City ACORN account....

In fact, the evidence discovered in the abandoned office on South Robinson revealed maps of Oklahoma City broken down in House districts. Districts where a Republican won, but just barely, were highlighted. Papers related to the 2006 election results for Oklahoma were also noted.

Oklahoma City radio station KTOK reported Thursday on ACORN's brief tenure in Oklahoma City, where they attempted to get taxpayer funding for their activities:

The city received a request for the HUD money from a Matthew Eaton who represented ACORN. Internet searches reveal a Matt Eaton is the South West Development Coordinator for ACORN who described himself as an experienced grant writer and resource development coordinator. He also claimed to be 'well versed in various forms of fund raising. "I aspire to help raise enough money so ACORN offices in the Southwest will be able to establish Tax Access and Benefit Centers in each of its neighborhood locations and to register 300,000 new voters," wrote Eaton in a website description of himself and his goals.

But less than a year after asking for the HUD money,Eaton and the ACORN office in Oklahoma City were history. The city denied the funding request and other neighborhood agencies indicated they too had similar 'empty' relationships with ACORN. A spokeswoman of one such group said when they asked an ACORN official about the group's funding, they were told it could not be discussed.

(Via Green Country Values.)

MORE: In 2007, ACORN was found to have submitted more than 1,700 fraudulent voter registrations in King Co., Washington.

RottenACORN.com has a list and map of fraud prosecutions involving ACORN. They seem to be fond of swing states.

Jim Hoft of Gateway Pundit provides a "complete guide to ACORN voter fraud" on Pajamas Media.

At a campaign stop in Ohio, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin called for the Obama-Biden campaign to disclose all communications between that campaign and ACORN. Hoft notes:

Barack Obama worked as a former trainer with the scandal-plagued ACORN organization. He also has a long history with the Far Left group and the group has canvassed for him this year. He represented ACORN in court. And, Obama donated $800,000 to the radical group just this year for their get out the vote efforts.

Earlier this week Palin told Obama to rein in this group of radical supporters.

In response, the Obama campaign is trying to pressure the FBI into dropping its investigation into voter fraud. The McCain campaign has fired back:

After a week of shifting stories and clumsy corrections regarding Barack Obama's connections to ACORN, the Obama campaign resorted to their now-customary heavy handed tactic of attempting to criminalize political discourse. Today's outrageous letter to Attorney General Mukasey and Special Prosecutor Dannehy at the Justice Department asking for a special prosecutor to investigate Senator McCain and Governor Palin's public statements about ACORN's record of fraudulent voter registrations (including in this week's Presidential debate) is absurd. It is a typical time-worn Washington attempt to criminalize political differences. For someone who promises 'change,' it is certainly only more of the same.

The letter's request that the Department of Justice investigate 'recent partisan Republican activities throughout the country' is almost a parody of the Obama campaign's attempt to intimidate their political opponents. In case Sen. Obama's lawyer did not notice, we are in the midst of a political campaign, not a coronation, and the alleged criminal activity he calls 'recent partisan Republican activities' are what the rest of us call campaign speeches and debates. All of this is unfortunately reminiscent of the Obama campaign's recent creation of a 'truth squad' of Missouri prosecutors and sheriffs to 'target' people who criticize Sen. Obama. Rest assured that, despite these threats, the McCain-Palin campaign will continue to address the serious issue of voter registration fraud by ACORN and other partisan groups, and compliance by states with the Help America Vote Act's requirement of matching new voter registrations with state data bases to prevent voter fraud.

Today at 5 p.m. is the deadline for Oklahoma residents to register to vote for the November 4 general election. While the election board will accept registration forms by mail that have been postmarked by today, the safest way to be sure that you will get to vote on November 4 is to go to your county election board and register in person before 5 p.m.

The Tulsa County Election Board is located at 555 N. Denver Ave., Tulsa, OK 74103. The phone number is 918-596-5780.

The Oklahoma State Election Board website has a complete list of county election boards, with the phone number, address, and hours of operation for each. Please note that election boards in some rural counties close as early as 1:30 p.m.

UPDATE: Tulsa County Election Board will stay open until midnight tonight to accept last-minute registrations.

Here's the video of KJRH's debate between U. S. Sen. Jim Inhofe and his challenger State Sen. Andrew Rice, from last night. Russ McCaskey moderated with Joe Kelley of KRMG, Wayne Greene of the Tulsa World, and Karen Larsen of KJRH on the panel.

Oklahomans for Life, the organization that advocates at the State Capitol for the sanctity of human life, has published the responses to its survey of candidates for the November 4 general election in the October 2008 issue of its newsletter. There are separate surveys for federal and state candidates; both surveys ask about concrete policies and bills that are likely to come before Congress and the Oklahoma Legislature. Topics include abortion and abortion funding, cloning, embryonic stem cell research, and euthanasia. The federal survey includes a couple of questions about rationing of federally-funded medical care:

10) Some hospitals have implemented formal policies authorizing denial of lifesaving medical treatment against the will of a patient or the patient's family if an ethics committee thinks the patient's quality of life is unacceptable, even though the patient and family disagree. The federal Patient Self-Determination Act currently requires health care facilities receiving Medicare or Medicaid to ask patients on admission whether they have an advance directive indicating their desire to receive or refuse lifesaving treatment under certain circumstances. Would you support preventing involuntary denial of lifesaving medical treatment by amending the Patient Self-Determination Act to provide that if failure to comply with a patient's or surrogate's choice for life-saving treatment would in reasonable medical judgment be likely to result in or hasten the patient's death, a health care provider unwilling to respect the choice for life-saving treatment must allow the patient to be transferred to a willing provider and must provide the treatment pending transfer?

11) Would you vote against any bill that imposes price controls or otherwise limits the right of older Americans who choose to do so to add their own funds on top of the government contribution in order to obtain Medicare health insurance that is less likely to ration medical treatment and prescription drugs?

The same issue of the newsletter includes a response by OfL director Tony Lauinger to Jerry Riley, husband of State Sen. Nancy Riley (D-SD37), who took exception to OfL's characterization of Sen. Riley's voting record. Lauinger points out that the votes a legislator casts trumps the position a legislator claims, and Nancy Riley's two no votes on SB 714 in 2007 made the difference in the legislature's attempt to override Gov . Brad Henry's veto. Lauinger reminds that Sen. Riley's votes on SB 714 contradicted her responses to the Oklahomans for Life survey in 2000 and 2004 (as a Republican candidate for State Senate) and in 2006 (as a Republican candidate for Lt. Governor).

Lauinger's letter addresses the matter of the rape and incest exception, and why the consistent pro-life position permits abortion only when the life of the mother is in jeopardy. (Riley cited the lack of a rape and incest exception as the reason for her opposition to SB 714, but she failed to offer such an exception as an amendment, either in her committee or in the Senate as a whole.)

Ethel Waters, the revered African-American vocalist of blues and spirituals, had occasion near the end of her life to recount its beginning: "My father raped my mother when she was twelve years old, and today they've named a park for me in Chester, Pennsylvania." Recounted in her autobiography, His Eye is on the Sparrow, her life is but one of many of children conceived in rape who went on to make great contributions to this world.

She might wonder how it makes sense, in logic or in law, to execute a child for the crime of his or her father? Abortion does not erase the trauma of a rape. Abortion compounds the first tragedy with a second tragedy - one for which the woman herself is responsible.

It is not valid to assume the best thing for a victim of rape or incest is to abort her baby. For society, abortion might seem to "solve the problem." But for the woman herself, it does not. Abortion often leads to psychological anguish and emotional devastation. Britain's Royal College of Psychiatry issued a warning in March that women may be at risk of mental health breakdowns if they have abortions. They advised that women should not have an abortion until they are counseled about the possible risk to their mental health.

There are more than one million unborn babies being killed by abortion in our country every year. One could rely on the absence of a rape exception as an excuse for opposing all manner of bills that seek to reduce abortions and save the babies we can. Or one could support these reasonable, modest regulations which, while not making abortion illegal, at least give some unborn children - and their mothers - a chance to avoid catastrophe.

That's why Nancy's votes against SB 714 were so disappointing. When the opportunity to help these babies came, she didn't give the benefit of the doubt to life.

Sen. Tom Coburn was on with 1170 KFAQ's Pat Campbell this morning explaining his decision to vote for the $700 billion bailout. It was strange to hear Coburn acknowledge that this bill might not work, that this bill didn't address the underlying causes, but that we had to do something. He compared it to using a defibrillator on a heart attack patient; you deal with his high cholesterol levels after you've saved his life.

But how did Tom Coburn become persuaded that the current situation is a financial heart attack and that the bailout is a financial defibrillator?

Coburn mentioned that he heard from the heads of all the biggest banks in Oklahoma. He specifically mentioned, by title but not by name, the chairman of the Bank of Oklahoma. (That's George Kaiser, if you didn't know.) He heard that banks won't lend to each other, that people with 650 credit scores couldn't get car loans, that businesses were having their loans called by banks who needed the money on their books.

A couple of days ago, while folding laundry, I was struck by similarities between the mortgage bailout and the BOk / Great Plains Airlines bailout. In both cases, I have the sense that the bailout is not to stave off dire consequences for the general public, but dire consequences for big shots who made bad decisions.

Recall that in the Great Plains situation, BOK made a bad loan after two initial refusals, based on private assurances from then-Mayor Susan Savage that the City of would make the bank whole if the loan went bad. That's according to former Councilor Jim Mautino:

In another video on that same entry, Jim Mautino mentions being called to the office of Stan Lybarger, president of BOk. Mautino took city attorneys Larry Simmons and Drew Rees with him to the meeting. Lybarger told them that he had twice turned down the Great Plains loan, but relented because then Mayor Susan Savage gave him "assurances." This would be the same Savage who gave "assurances" to the City Council at the time that transfering AFP3 to the Tulsa Industrial Authority would not expose the City to any liability in the Great Plains financing deal.

Tulsa city councilors were warned that the city's credit rating would suffer if the city didn't pay back the loan. I suspect that the real worry was that some BOk executives would suffer legal consequences if this bad debt hadn't been paid off before a certain deadline. A federally-insured bank isn't allowed to make risky loans for political reasons.

In the current "crisis," we're hearing from a lot of Wall Street types of impending doom, but we're not seeing an unreasonable tightening of credit on Main Street. My suspicion is that this bailout is really about protecting fat cats from the consequences of their bad decisions, and the fat cats are doing a fine job of spooking Congress into a stampede.

I think Coburn was sincere in stating the rationale for his vote. It may be that the bank officials were shooting straight with him. Then again, he was taking his cues from someone who supports bigger government and higher taxes and is a bundler for Barack Obama.

MORE: Whom did Coburn convince? (Emphasis added.)

Just talked to a Republican leadership aide. Here's what he had to say about the big margin today. He cited three factors:

1) Up to the point of the Monday vote, members were only hearing from people adamantly opposed to the bill. After the vote, that changed. They began to hear from employers, bankers, and opinion leaders back in their districts who told them how much it would hurt the local economy if they didn't act to try to calm the credit markets; 2) The strong Senate vote helped. Members could say to themselves, "Well, both my state's senators voted for it." And Sen. Tom Coburn's strong support for the measure carried a lot of weight with House conservatives; 3) The inclusion of the FDIC increase gave members something positive and easy to understand to talk about in explaining the bill. The purchase of illiquid assets isn't easy to explain, and if you can explain it, doesn't sound very appealing to anyone. The FDIC provision was easier to portray as a proposal to help "Main Street," with local bankers complaining and worrying about large withdrawals.

This coming Saturday, October 4, the Tulsa County Republican Party will hold its annual fall fundraiser out at the old barn on the McGraw place, 10900 S. Louisville Ave.

It's a great opportunity to meet fellow Republican activists and elected officials. Councilor John Eagleton will be providing the barbecue: chopped beef, pulled pork, ribs, chicken, seasoned with a dry rub and smoked for hours. It's always delicious.

The entertainment is a band called the Rockin' Acoustic Circus, a group of talented young string musicians who play a mix of bluegrass, swing, and country.

It should be a beautiful fall day, and the McGraws' place is a delightful slice of country in the city. The festivities begin at 11:30. The cost is $10 per person, but just $20 for an entire family. There will also be a silent auction, and McCain-Palin T-shirts and buttons will be for sale.

Hope to see you there!

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Oklahoma Politics category from October 2008.

Oklahoma Politics: September 2008 is the previous archive.

Oklahoma Politics: November 2008 is the next archive.

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