Tulsa Category

The third of the seven charter change propositions on the City of Tulsa November 14, 2017, ballot would permit councilors to approve resolutions with an emergency clause for immediate effect. A yes vote on Proposition No. 3 would modify Article II (City Council), Section 10 (Effective Date of Ordinances and Resolutions). The mark-up below shows the how the text would change if Proposition No. 3 is approved, with added text underlined, and deleted text stricken.


Ordinances adopting budgets, making appropriations, pertaining to local improvements and assessments, or and any ordinance or resolution adopted as an emergency measure shall take effect at the time stated therein. All other ordinances and resolutions shall take effect at the time stated therein, but not less than thirty (30) days from the date of first publication. Ordinances adopted by vote of the electors shall take effect at the time stated therein or, if no time be stated, thirty (30) days after the election. An ordinance or resolution adopted as an emergency measure to provide for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health, welfare, or safety shall describe the emergency in a separate section. The vote of at least two-thirds ( 2/3 ) of the entire membership of the Council shall be required to adopt any ordinance or resolution as an emergency measure.

Here is a link to the current text of Tulsa City Charter Article II, Section 10.

The ballot title reads:

Shall the City Charter of the City of Tulsa, Article II, Section 10, 'Effective Date of Ordinances and Resolutions', be amended to clarify that the City of Tulsa may adopt resolutions as emergency measures, and state the effective time thereof, in the same manner as it does ordinances?

Once again, I would love to link you to video of the debate on this proposition, but there was no discussion at all when the Council voted to put this proposition on the ballot, and video from the June 21, 2017, Urban and Economic Development committee meeting is not available on the TGOVONLINE.com, which provides (or used to provide) on-demand access to recordings of official city meetings. The minutes for that meeting indicate only that Senior Assistant City Attorney Bob Edmiston spoke and that the proposition would move forward.

Whoever drafted this amendment doesn't seem to understand the difference between AND and OR in describing sets. The current language of the section lists four different classes of ordinances which go into effect at the stated time, without a minimum 30-day delay. An ordinance which falls into any of those four classes avoids the waiting period. The new language changes the "or" to an "and": An ordinance would have to adopt a budget AND appropriate funds AND pertain to local improvements and assessments AND contain an emergency clause in order to go into immediate effect. I don't believe this was the intent. Breaking that first sentence into two would have made it easier to express the intended logic clearly. "Ordinances adopting budgets, making appropriations, or pertaining to local improvements and assessments shall take effect at the time stated therein. Any ordinance or resolution adopted as an emergency measure shall take effect at the time stated therein." Or if you must lump it into one sentence: "Ordinances adopting budgets, making appropriations, or pertaining to local improvements and assessments, or any ordinance or resolution adopted as an emergency measure shall take effect at the time stated therein."

This is clearly intended to be a housekeeping amendment, whose intent is already present in the later sentences of the same section, but a housekeeping amendment should not leave a bigger mess than it purports to tidy. I'll vote NO on Proposition 3 and hope that the City Council will check with a homeschooled eighth-grader about Boolean algebra and logical expressions before they try again.

The second of the seven charter change propositions on the City of Tulsa November 14, 2017, ballot would permit City Councilors to be notified of special meetings electronically. A yes vote on Proposition No. 2 would modify Article II (City Council), Section 3.1 (Meetings). The mark-up below shows the how the text would change if Proposition No. 2 is approved, with added text underlined. If this proposition is approved, no text would be deleted.


The Council shall meet regularly at such times and places as the Council shall fix by ordinance; provided, that the Council shall hold not less than two (2) regular meetings each month at the City Hall. The Mayor, the Chairman of the Council, or one-third (1/3) of the members of the Council may call special meetings of the Council upon written notice electronically transmitted to each member of the Council or served personally on or left at the usual place of residence of each member of the Council, at least twenty-four (24) hours prior to such meeting and upon such further notice as is required by the laws of Oklahoma. The notice shall state the date, time and place of the meeting and the subjects to be considered. No subjects other than those stated in the notice shall be considered at the special meeting.

Here is a link to the current text of Tulsa City Charter Article I, Section 3.

The ballot title reads:

Shall the City Charter of the City of Tulsa, Article II, Section 3.1, 'Meetings', be amended to allow the required notice of special meetings of the City Council to be delivered to Councilors electronically?

Public notice of special meetings is under the State of Oklahoma's Open Meetings statute.

Once again, I would love to link you to video of the debate on this proposition, but there was no discussion at all when the Council voted to put this proposition on the ballot, and video from the June 21, 2017, Urban and Economic Development committee meeting is not available on the TGOVONLINE.com, which provides (or used to provide) on-demand access to recordings of official city meetings. The minutes for that meeting indicate only that Senior Assistant City Attorney Bob Edmiston spoke and that the proposition would move forward.

I would hope for some more specific language in city ordinance defining what constitutes "electronically transmitted." Text message? Facebook message with "seen" notification. E-mail with delivery acknowledgement? I've seen critical messages I've sent fail to reach some of the recipients or get stuck in a spam trap. I've known of the same thing happening with messages sent to me. But that level of specificity isn't needed in the City Charter. I'm inclined to vote YES on Proposition 2.

The first of the seven charter change propositions on the City of Tulsa November 14, 2017, ballot has to do with abatement of nuisances, specifically with repeat offenders. A yes vote on Proposition No. 1 would modify Article I (Corporate Powers), Section 3 (General Grant of Power), Paragraph O. The mark-up below shows the how the text would change if Proposition No. 1 is approved, with added text underlined. If this proposition is approved, no text would be deleted.


Subject only to such limitations imposed by the Constitution and laws of the United States of America, by the Constitution and such laws of Oklahoma binding upon cities adopting charters for their own government under the authority granted by Article XVIII, section 3, of the Constitution of Oklahoma, and by the provisions of this amended Charter, the City of Tulsa shall have the power:

O. To abate nuisances of any kind, and summarily to abate any nuisance re-occurring on the same property under the same ownership, within twenty-four (24) months of previous nuisance abatement on that property, and to assess the expense thereof as a special tax against the land upon which the nuisance is located; and

Here is a link to the current text of Tulsa City Charter Article I, Section 3.

The ballot title reads:

Shall the City Charter of the City of Tulsa, Article I, Section 3, 'General Grant of Power', Paragraph 'O' be amended to clarify that the City of Tulsa may summarily abate a nuisance re-occurring on the same property under the same ownership within twenty-four (24) months of a previous nuisance abatement on that property?

The abatement process is described in Title 24 (Nuisances) of Tulsa Revised Ordinances. A nuisance can involve anything from high weeds to junk vehicles to meth labs to public indecency to illegal gambling to wild animals. City inspectors notify the owner that a nuisance exists, the owner has a set period to correct the problem himself, at which point the city can take care of the problem (e.g., mowing an overgrown lot, bulldozing an abandoned building) and impose the cost of abatement on the property owner as a tax. There is a process of notice, hearing, and appeal, but if there is a second violation within two years of the previous nuisance, the city can clean up the nuisance without notifying the owner, a summary abatement. This also resets the 24-month clock for further summary abatements.

That this on the ballot indicates that there is some question whether the existing ordinance calling for summary abatement for repeat offenses is permitted under the language of the charter, which mentions abatement, but not summary abatement. I would love to link you to video of the debate on this proposition, but there was no discussion at all when the Council voted to put this proposition on the ballot, and video from the June 21, 2017, Urban and Economic Development committee meeting is not available on the TGOVONLINE.com, which provides (or used to provide) on-demand access to recordings of official city meetings. The minutes for that meeting indicate only that Senior Assistant City Attorney Bob Edmiston spoke and that the proposition would move forward.

While I can see the potential for abuse of summary abatement, I can also see the need. Given that this procedure is already in place, and that this proposition clarifies that it is permitted under the City Charter, this appears to be a housekeeping amendment, and I am inclined to vote YES.

It may come as some surprise to you that the City of Tulsa is holding a special election four weeks from today, Tuesday, November 14, 2017. There won't be any names on the ballot, nor any taxes or general obligation bonds. The ballot will consist of seven proposed amendments to the City Charter which were approved by the City Council over the course of the summer.

While the required public notices have been issued, and the proposals received some attention by news outlets, the official city websites seem to be ignoring the election. As of this writing, the election does not appear in the Calendar of Events on the official City Of Tulsa homepage:


Nor is there any mention of the election on the Tulsa City Council homepage, current news page, or archived news page (click to view screenshots of each), or on the official
Twitter accounts of the City of Tulsa or the Tulsa City Council.

1. Summary nuisance abatement
2. Electronic notice of Special Meeting
3. City resolutions with Emergency Clause
4. City elections to be moved to August
5. Change in membership of Election District Commission
6. Permit political activities by civil service employees and sworn public safety officers
7. Lockbox for funds generated by public safety tax

For the fourth or fifth time in the last 10 years (I've lost count), we will be voting on tinkering with election dates. Two other proposals would have an impact on elections -- the composition of the Election District Commission and allowing city employees under civil service protection to participate in political activity.

An election resolution for the first five of the proposed amendments was approved by the City Council on July 12, 2017, and approved by Mayor G. T. Bynum IV on July 17, 2017. Resolutions sending the sixth and seventh proposed amendments to the voters were approved on August 16, 2017.

Here is the sample ballot for the City of Tulsa November 14, 2017, special election.

Because the City Council chose to put these items on the ballot at a time when no state elections are being held, City of Tulsa taxpayers will bear the cost of opening nearly 200 polling places. According to 26 O. S. 13-311, these expenses include, but are not limited to "compensation for members of each precinct election board, per diem and mileage for the chairman and vice chairman of the county election board, the cost of supplies and ballots and the rental of polling places."

Over the next week or so, I will analyze each proposal in detail -- show precisely what charter language is being changed, report, based on City Council minutes and meeting videos, on who proposed it and their rationale, report on objections raised by councilors, city staffers, and others, and give you my analysis and conclusions about each amendment.

UPDATED to add links to later entries discussing the individual propositions.

Walt Helmerich III, whose foundation donated $1 million toward the 1991 purchase of the riverfront property now known as Helmerich Park, and who served on the board of the bank that owned the land, rebuffed an overture from a private developer who wanted to create a "major mixed-use entertainment, recreational, retail and office complex" on the site, according to a sworn declaration by Rodger Randle, who was Mayor of Tulsa when the land was acquired. The city's half of the purchase price was paid out of the Park Facilities Improvements Account of the surplus from the 1985 Third Penny Sales Tax fund.

Randle's history of the park's acquisition provides some important context in the dispute over the city's proposed sale of part of the park at the corner of 71st and Riverside for commercial development.

In March 1991, according to Randle, Helmerich contacted him, offering to raise private funds for half of the $4.5 million purchase price for the 67 acres between 71st Street and Joe Creek, Riverside Drive, and the Arkansas River.

At about the same time, Randle writes, local zoning attorney John Moody approached him on behalf of an out-of-state developer with a plan for commercial development for the land, telling Randle that the developer would seek to purchase the land from the bank. Randle attempted to arrange a meeting between Moody and Helmerich, so that Moody could present his plan, but Helmerich was not interested:

Mr. Helmerich was a member of the board of the First National Bank. Helmerich was also an avid supporter of public parks. I was informed that Mr. Helmerich wanted to cancel the meeting and was not interested in Moody's proposal. I directed a member of my staff to inform Mr. Moody that the meeting had been canceled.

Later in the declaration, Randle explains the constraints created by the "Brown Ordinance" process, which ensures that Third-Penny sales tax funds are spent as promised and which imposes a process for amendment intended to draw public attention to any proposed changes, including the expenditure of surplus funds:

In this case, we were allocating the surplus funds specifically to the Park Facilities Improvements account of the 1985 third-penny sales tax. Had we wanted to include the future option of this land being developed by a private party for economic development purposes we would have allocated all or part of the surplus 1985 sales tax funds to acquire the property to the sale tax's Urban and Economic Development category as we did other items in the 1985 third penny sales tax ordinance, TRO, Title 43-B, §§ 100, et seq., as amended. We did not do this because itwas our intent to use the property exclusively as a City park....

In my opinion, any sale of any part of the park property for a commercial shopping center, such as is proposed in this case, would be a violation of this ordinance, an attempt to divert the funds to other purposes or projects and a breach of official City policy as clearly established in 1991.

Randle also explained the decision to put the property in the name of the Tulsa Public Facilities Authority:

Prior to closing on the property, city staff recommended that formal legal title be held by TPFA, as was done with the convention center. Why this was done is not clear to me but had something to do with achieving maximum flexibility regarding municipal bond financing for possible recreation facilities at the park. At no time was it contemplated that the park could or would be sold for private commercial development.

As a Title 60 trust, TPFA would be able to issue bonds against its own anticipated revenue. This suggests to me that they were considering the possibility of revenue-generating activity on the site as a means of financing recreational facilities -- perhaps concessions renting bicycles or canoes, a rentable facility for events, a snack bar or cafe. In this situation, TPFA would have borrowed against anticipated revenues from these activities to build the facilities to house them, without requiring additional taxpayer investment. Such a scenario wouldn't make sense unless you intended to keep the land under public ownership.

The copy of Randle's statement that I received was an attachment to a letter from attorney James L. Sturdivant to Mayor G. T. Bynum IV. The late Tulsa philanthropist Patti Johnson Wilson was Sturdivant's client and was one of about 30 contributors to the $1.25 million in private donations that was added to the Helmerich $1 million and the city's $2.25 million to purchase the land for the park. Sturdivant writes, "I do not know the amount of her contribution but I do know Patti would not have given money to the City to engage in a land play. She certainly would have given to acquire a park."

Sturdivant and Randle both expressed concern about the impact of the park land's sale on future donors. Sturdivant writes, "Will future donors worry about the City taking their money, buying park land, then selling it?" Randle stated, "[Selling the land for commercial development] was never contemplated because it would undercut the City's future ability to seek private donations for other projects. Donors would be uncertain that their funds would be used as intended. In this case, in addition to Mr. Helmerich, almost thirty other private parties contributed."

The complete text of Randle's declaration follows the jump:

The Oklahoma Supreme Court voted unanimously today to allow Tulsa residents to move forward with a lawsuit against the City of Tulsa and the Tulsa Public Facilities Authority over the proposed sale of part of Helmerich Park to a private developer. Here is a statement from Save Helmerich Park, the citizen group opposing the sale of park land:

The Oklahoma Supreme Court today denied the City of Tulsa's and the Tulsa Public Facility Authority's request for the Court to assume original jurisdiction in the pending lawsuit to stop the sale of land in Helmerich Park to a private developer.

The Court's decision was unanimous. The City of Tulsa and the Tulsa Public Facilities Authority (TPFA) had escalated their efforts to bar Tulsa citizens' access to the Courthouse contrary to Article II, § 6 of the Oklahoma Constitution which provides: "The courts of justice of the State shall be open to every person, and speedy and certain remedy afforded for every wrong and for every injury to person, property, or reputation; and right and justice shall be administered without sale, denial, delay, or prejudice."

By filing a Writ of Prohibition with the Oklahoma State Supreme Court, the City and the TPFA directly challenged Tulsa District Court Judge Jefferson D. Sellers' decision to deny a motion to dismiss the suit filed by Tulsan Craig Immel on August 11, 2015, which was amended and joined by four other Tulsans in January 2016.

For a year and a half, attorneys for the City and the TPFA agreed that Tulsa County District Court was the proper place to hear this controversy and agreed the plaintiffs were proper parties to bring the lawsuit to prevent the sale of land in Helmerich Park. But at the eleventh hour - apparently anticipating a loss in District Court - the Mayor and the TPFA directed their attorneys to reverse course and sought to prevent Tulsa citizens and taxpayers from having a say in the proposed sale of publicly-owned parkland and the potential misappropriation of city tax dollars.

The plaintiffs are resolute in their position, presented a vigorous written and oral response to the City's attempt to deny citizens and taxpayers access to the court system.

The lawsuit now returns to the jurisdiction of District Court Judge Jefferson Sellers for trial.
Speaking on behalf of the plaintiffs, former Tulsa Mayor Terry Young expressed pleasure with the decision.

"We're prepared to fight this in District Court and we believe we have the winning arguments," Young said.

Young added, "It's time for the Dallas-based developer - UCR - to withdraw from the sale contract and go home."

UTW Michael Bates cover storyNot long after the demise of Urban Tulsa Weekly, its online archive went dark. Because of the structure of the urbantulsa.com website, many of its stories were never crawled by the Internet Archive. My attempt a couple of years ago to raise the $1200 needed to put the archive back online failed by a wide margin. (Gyrosite still has the archive and, last I checked, could still resurrect it, if anyone has the money and interest to do so.)

As a freelancer, I retained copyright to the columns and feature stories I submitted to UTW. In fact, it was my refusal to sign a new freelancers' agreement with the paper, in which anything a freelancer submitted would be work-for-hire -- owned by the paper, with no rights retained by the creator -- that led to the end of my column after 3 years and 9 months. As I wrote at the time, "What if UTW is sold to a chain of weeklies or goes out of business? (God forbid on both hypotheticals.) Those possibilities seem very remote today, but a lot can happen in 10 or 20 years, and if they happened, who would own the rights to my work under the agreement? Would I be able to get permission to use my own work? Who knows? At the very least, I would want to continue to retain enough rights for anything I write to be able to keep it accessible on the web." As it happened, it only took a little over four years for one of those hypotheticals to come to pass.

I made sure to keep the pre-edited versions of all my stories, as I submitted them. As I have occasion and time, I am posting my columns, as submitted, in this UTW Column Archive category here on BatesLine. As of September 10, 2017, I have about 20% of what I wrote posted. At some point, perhaps, I'll get the rest of them online, along with an index.

Tulsa, north of downtown, aerial photo, 1951

Tulsa, north of downtown, satellite photo, 2014

Tulsa's Near Northside neighborhood, whose rise and demise I documented in a 2014 story for This Land Press ("Steps to Nowhere"), is part of an area that will be the subject of the Unity Heritage Neighborhoods Design Workshop, next week, September 11-15, 2017, led by urban design students from Notre Dame:

The University of Notre Dame Graduate Urban Design Studio will be traveling to Tulsa to work with our community to provide positive visions for future development. The studio will be conducting a 3-month design study focused on the Unity Heritage Neighborhoods located immediately north of downtown. The study broadly encompasses areas such as the Brady Heights Historic District, Emerson Elementary, Greenwood, and the Evans-Fintube site. To kick-off this effort, the studio will be conducting a week-long design workshop from September 11th - 15th to meet with the local community, to hear our thoughts for the area, and to begin envisioning the possibilities with us through a series of visual urban and architectural designs. Come on out and imagine the future together!

The workshop includes three events for public input and feedback. All are free and open to the public, but RSVPs would be appreciated. The links below will take you to the registration page for each event.

Workshop Introduction & Initial Community Input: Monday, September 11th, 2017, 6-8pm, at 36 Degrees North, 36 E. Cameron St. (That's just east of Main on Cameron in the Brady Bob Wills Arts District.)

Meet the team. Hear about the components necessary for making vibrant, walkable, mixed-use, diverse, and inclusive cities, towns, and neighborhoods. Share your vision and desires for the area.

Mid-Week Design Presentation & Initial Feedback: Wednesday, September 13th, 2017, 6-8pm, at the Greenwood Cultural Center:

Check out the in-process urban and architectural designs and provide feedback for the students to work on to further shape the vision.

End-of-Workshop Design Presentation & Feedback: Friday, September 15th, 6-8pm, at Central Library:

See the final designs from the week and provide your thoughts and feedback for the students to continue to work on during the remainder of their study. The studio will return to Tulsa in December to present their final designs and findings for the community to use as an ongoing resource.

MORE: Here's my Flickr set of images of Tulsa's lost Near Northside.

Tulsa native and newsman Loren Cosby shared with me a couple of interesting anecdotes involving Jerry Lewis's appearance at a Tulsa golf tournament, and he gave me permission to share them with you.


The Roy Clark Celebrity Golf Classic had a nine-year run at Cedar Ridge Country Club from 1975 to 1983, raising money for Children's Medical Center through ticket sales to the golf tournament, amateur golfers paying for the right to play alongside the stars, and ticket sales to the variety show at the Mabee Center. This Daily Oklahoman story describes what turned out to be the final edition of the tournament:

More than 60 celebrities from the world of entertainment and sports will be participating in the 9th Annual Roy Clark Celebrity Golf Classic, next Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 17 and 18, in Tulsa.

In addition to hosting the golf tournament, Clark will headline the annual StarNight Show Saturday evening at Oral Roberts University Mabee Center. Other headliners for StarNight will include the Gatlin Brothers, the Osmond Brothers and Kay Starr. The comedy team of Williams and Ree will round out the program with George Lindsey as emcee. Tickets are on sale at Carson Attraction outlets including the John A. Brown stores....

Golf celebrities include actor Claude Akins, cowboy star Rex Allen, Hollywood columnist James Bacon, actor Ernest Borgnine, singer Jimmy Dean, actor Ron Ely, former astronaut Capt. Ron Evans, TV soap series actor Tom Hallick, Emmy award winner Arte Johnson, singer Trini Lopez, actor Fred MacMurray, former baseball outfielder Roger Maris, actors Tim Matheson, Donald May, Doug McClure, Darren McGavin and Martin Milner to name a few.

The late '70s and early '80s might be called Tulsa's Silver Age, at least in terms of prominence and prosperity. Oil money was flowing, and new buildings were going up downtown. Tulsa musicians like Leon Russell and David Gates were at the top of the pop charts, and the local music scene was drawing the likes of Eric Clapton and George Harrison to town. Unique, locally produced programming dominated the airwaves: KTUL's Oil in Oklahoma, the John Chick Show, Mazeppa Pompazoidi's Uncanny Film Festival, Uncle Zeb's Cartoon Camp, and meteorologists who used a cartoon character (Don Woods and Gusty on KTUL) or a lion puppet (Lee Woodward and King Lionel on KOTV) to tell us about the weather. Tulsa radio had local news and sports talk shows; network programming like the Larry King Show was relegated to the graveyard shift.

And it was during this period that Roy Clark, with the encouragement of his agent, impresario Jim Halsey ("Tulsa's Titan of Country Talent" according to a 1979 Chicago Tribune feature story), made Tulsa his home base and began to get involved in the community, drawing his celebrity friends to come to Tulsa and help.


Loren Cosby, then in his pre-teen and teenage years, attended many of the tournaments. His mother, a member of the Children's Medical Center Auxiliary, served as a driver for tournament celebrities. Cosby remembers Jerry Lewis's lone appearance at the Roy Clark tournament. His memory places it in the late '70s, around the time Lewis was collaborating with Oral Roberts on his prime time TV specials.

I worked cleaning golf clubs. Picture this: I'm standing on grass near the clubhouse garage near the arrival driveway. First tee is about 1/4 football field from the driveway. Mom and others drove celebs in Dean Bailey Oldsmobile Skylarks between the hotel and the course. Except Jerry Lewis.

I hear multiple sirens around 8 a.m. Four Tulsa Police Department motorcycle cops and two TPD cars, sirens blaring, deliver Jerry Lewis to the driveway in his limo. Lewis gets out -- the sidewalk is roped off. Lewis struts down the sidewalk, ignoring a group of about thirty Children's Medical Center kids, talks with either John Erling or Lee Woodward.

(KOTV meteorologist Lee Woodward and KRMG morning man John Erling served as first-tee announcers for the tournament.)

Shortly thereafter, an even bigger star of stage and screen makes a more modest entrance.

Twenty minutes later -- my view of the driveway obscured by a low tree branch -- reveals a Skylark pulling up quietly. A door swings open, a guy putting on golf shoes, nobody paying attention but me. It's Bob Hope. No pomp. Channel 8's Rea Blakey walks toward him with cue card for a public service announcement for Tulsa Red Cross. People still don't realize Hope is there as the Jerry Lewis carnival was just winding down. Mom said it was the first and last time they invited Lewis because he was a jerk.

Cosby recalls, "The only year Jerry was there, he did the typewriter bit in the Star Night Show at the Mabee Center, then Hope did his act and as always Roy closed it and played Malagueña."

But about 20 years later, Lewis himself had mellowed somewhat, at least according to a story that Cosby heard from some family friends who encountered Lewis in New York City, after a performance of Damn Yankees on Broadway:

After the show, they ran into Jerry Lewis, who was leaving the theater from a side alley entrance by himself. They said they enjoyed the show. He spent 25 minutes asking them questions about the show, real nice, said he loved Tulsa and Oral Roberts was a friend.

Cosby says he could have written a book about being a kid hanging around at the Roy Clark celebrity tournaments.

Dinner with just me and Evel Knievel at the Williams Plaza Hotel. Getting together with June Haver and Fred MacMurray every year they were here. Eating at MacMurray's table during the sponsor/celebrity dinner. Walking from MacMurray's room to Bob Hope's room in Gerald Ford's presidential suite at the Sheraton Skyline East. Danny Thomas in a suit at 6:30am bringing boxes of donuts to volunteers at Williams Plaza. Riding on the back of Alan Hale's golf cart. Hanging out with Martin Milner at Star Night and getting scolded in a fatherly way by him for acting like Jerry Lewis without the credentials! Talking with Frank Cady and Charles Lane. While interning with KRMG, asking James MacArthur a question about his mom out on the golf course and getting yelled at by him: "Is this interview about me or Helen Hayes?" I was all of 15. Walking Cedar Ridge with Alvy Moore. Also walking Cedar Ridge with my mom and Roger Maris. Clint Howard borrowed Mom's car one evening while a bunch of volunteers were in the Sheraton bar/restaurant with Claude Akins and others. James Garner was in the program almost every year, and I was always disappointed when he never showed. It goes on and on.

MORE: Tulsa TV Memories is the pre-eminent online resource documenting Tulsa's golden '70s and early '80s, both on and off the air, through the memories of on-air personalities, behind-the-scenes crew, and ordinary listeners and viewers. I found a few reminiscences about Jerry Lewis's appearances in Tulsa. Lowell Burch remembered his time as a student at ORU: "The TV equipment was as good as any they had in Burbank at the time and the celebrities occupied the campus like a Hollywood backlot. Stars like Johnny Cash, Pearl Bailey, Jerry Lewis, and Doc Severinson (just to name a few) would show up on campus on a regular basis to do Oral's shows." Mike Bruchas relayed a friend's story of Jerry Lewis showing up in a limo at Sound Unlimited in search of an adapter for his boombox, and the anecdote is accompanied by an ad for an Oral Roberts Christmas Special starring Jerry Lewis and characters from Sid and Marty Krofft's Saturday morning TV shows. Lewis was a visiting lecturer at ORU in the late '70s. DolfanBob remembers going to one of the Roy Clark tournament Star Nights and seeing "Jerry Lewis, Ben Johnson, and Adrienne Barbeau, who did a Belly Dance." (Important use of the Oxford comma there.)

If you encountered Jerry Lewis in Tulsa or had brushes with greatness at the Roy Clark Celebrity Golf Classic, drop me a line at blog at batesline dot com. I'd love to share your stories here.


Jerry Lewis's typewriter bit from Who's Minding the Store:

Roy Clark plays Malagueña on an episode of The Odd Couple:

Tulsan Sarah Kobos has another insightful essay up at the Strong Towns website, illustrated with her own photos of lousy urban design right here in our hometown. While she's willing to forgive the urban design errors of the post-World War II decades, she politely asks cities to stop making them already:

Fine. We'll add the suburban development pattern to the long list of humanity's mistakes that occurred during the latter half of the 20th century. Like feathered bangs, the Ford Pinto, or any tattoo you got before the age of 35, sometimes we err, not because of malice, but from an understandable combination of ignorance and exuberance.

The thing that really drives me crazy is the present. Now, we know better. We recognize the economic, human health, and environmental benefits of traditional building patterns. And yet, there is so much inertia built into the system, we just keep building car-centric crap like it was 1985.

While there are walkable sections of the city that benefitted from neglect when we were busy tearing down downtown and building suburban neighborhoods, they are now endangered by their own success:

In older parts of the city, walkable neighborhoods are being rediscovered and revitalized because they're interesting, human-scaled, and pleasant. People are drawn to them because they have character, and because it's nice to be able to walk to dinner or bike to meet friends for coffee. Understandably, the moment a particular neighborhood becomes popular--thanks to its historic buildings and traditional building pattern--it will attract new development. But if you're not prepared with zoning laws to enhance and support walkability, you'll get what everyone knows how to build, which is crap for cars.

If you've wondered why urban advocates are so concerned about demolition and redevelopment in downtown and midtown neighborhoods, Sarah offers a clear and simple explanation: It's easier to preserve walkability in neighborhoods that were optimized for people getting around on foot -- with smaller blocks and buildings oriented to the sidewalk -- than to try to create it in neighborhoods that were optimized for getting around in a car. Because of Tulsa's relatively young age, we never had that many walkable neighborhoods to begin with, and too many of those we had have fallen victim to urban renewal, expressway construction, and inappropriate infill development approved by our city officials.

That's why many of us have long believed we should follow in the footsteps of nearly all of our peer regional cities and institute special design-focused land-use rules in our walkable, historic commercial districts. Oklahoma City, Wichita, Little Rock, Dallas, Fort Worth, Kansas City all have design rules customized to protect walkable neighborhoods. Tulsa doesn't, in part because of the idea that chain stores and restaurants will insist on building their standard design everywhere. But anyone who has traveled around the country or around the world has seen examples of standard chains -- McDonald's, 7-Eleven, Walgreens, to name a few -- who have adapted designs to local requirements in order to have a store where there are customers they want to reach.

While our new zoning code allows for this kind of district, certain developers have fought against it tooth-and-nail, and we haven't seen any leadership in the right direction from any of our mayors. Instead, rules that were written for auto-oriented suburban commercial development govern these walkable commercial districts:

Since that time, we have gradually added requirements to our ordinances governing commercial lots: parking per square foot of building space; percent of landscaping area; maximum floor area ratios; building setbacks, prohibitions against residential uses, and many more. But every one of these requirements was created with car-oriented, suburban-style development in mind. The zoning code didn't support the old places built for people on foot, and in far too many cities, ordinances and zoning maps have still not been updated to protect these incredibly valuable assets.

While I've been pleased to see some street-oriented infill development along Cherry Street replacing auto-oriented development -- Roosevelt's (where the car wash used to be), Chipotle, CVS (replacing a convenience store) -- the requirement for a ridiculously large minimum number of parking spaces has required the removal of many homes and small apartment buildings, reducing the number of people who can live affordably within walking distance of all these amenities. The massive parking lots reduce the area's density, which also reduces its economic productivity. Generally speaking, the higher the population density (up to a point far more dense than Tulsa will ever be), the less you have to spend on infrastructure to serve a given population.

I've been hoping for some leadership at City Hall on this issue for many years, but I've long since given up holding my breath. I appreciate the efforts of Tulsans like Sarah Kobos to educate citizens with vivid examples and lively language. Maybe, someday, we'll reach critical mass and see things change.

MORE: A collection of links to past BatesLine articles on zoning generally and in support of overlay districts such as neighborhood conservation districts, urban conservation districts, and historic preservation districts.

It's a paradox: The Tulsa Drillers, our city's minor league baseball team, appear to be in the best financial shape they've ever been and setting attendance records every year. But when I've attended games in recent years, I've been surprised at the large numbers of empty seats.

Below is a draft of an article I wrote on June 23, 2013, after a visit to the ONEOK Field with my son. I've been back to the park on a number of occasions since then, and my observations stand. Last August, my son and I attended four games during the season's final stretch, during which we observed the large number of empty seats, which suggested an actual attendance -- "butts in seats" -- far below paid attendance, which would include season tickets, whether used or not. The photos below, from that June 2013 game, show far more actual attendees than I've seen at more recent games. I should mention that we haven't been to a game this year, simply because we've been otherwise occupied this summer, but we'll probably try to make a game or two before the season is over.

Today, while running errands, I listened to Jessica Dyer's "Down to Business" show on KRMG, and her guest was Jason George, Executive Vice President of the Tulsa Drillers. It was interesting to hear him talk about the shift in the club's business philosophy with the move from Driller Stadium to ONEOK Field. Although the new park has half the capacity of the old one, the team has more than doubled the size of its permanent staff and increased its seasonal staff as well.

George talked about the decision to end the tradition of Pack-the-Park Night, when free tickets were distributed through QuikTrip, Arby's, and other local sponsors, typically for poorly attended midweek games. Our habit was to pay a few bucks extra per ticket to upgrade those free general admission coupons for reserved or box seats. The full house added to the excitement of being there for the game, and I suspect concession sales went through the roof. The lines were certainly long.

I phoned in with a question, which I relayed to the producer. They had me speak to George off the air, during a commercial break. My question: What could be done to allow people who actually show up to the game to buy good seats? George told me that they couldn't resell a seat that belonged to a season ticket holder. He mentioned that there was a higher retention rate among season ticket holders than at the old park.

George's answers on and off the air, along with my in-person observations, have convinced me that the downtown version of the Tulsa Drillers are no longer about baseball fans watching future major league stars. They are about selling corporate suites and club seats to companies -- selling the skyline as a backdrop to business meetings, and oh, by the way, there are some people playing sportsball on the grassy courtyard nearby.

Most of what I wrote four years ago still holds up, except that, of course, the old park can no longer be a venue for a baseball-fan-focused alternative, thanks to the city's foolish designation of the site for the BMX headquarters before the logistics (e.g., conflicts over "pouring rights") had been ironed out. It's a shame that a beautiful ballpark, ideal for watching the game, built and improved entirely with private funds, is being dismantled in favor of a downtown park funded through taxes and misoriented for baseball.

Tulsa's ONEOK Field is a great place to hang out on a summer evening, people-watch, let your kids splash and climb, and (if you're lucky enough to have infield seats) enjoy the view of the downtown skyline as the sun sets. But as a place to watch a baseball game, it's not nearly as good as the Tulsa Drillers' old ballpark at 15th and Yale.

Friday night I took my seven-year-old son downtown to join my daughter and the church youth group watching the Tulsa Drillers against the Northwest Arkansas Naturals at ONEOK Field.

The youth group had planned to sit on the outfield lawn, but I was considering paying extra for infield seats for me and the boy, so that we could see the state of the game more clearly. When we got to the box office, that wasn't an option. Only the $5 outfield lawn seats were available, and already they were filling up.

Fans sit in the right-field lawn at ONEOK stadium to watch the Tulsa Drillers

That wasn't because the infield seats were full. It looked like at least a third, maybe even half, of the 5,000 seats in the infield were unoccupied throughout the game. Presumably these seats belonged to season ticket holders who opted not to attend that night. I have heard that there are companies that buy season tickets as a business expense for entertaining clients and as a perk for their employees; if they're not needed for that purpose on a particular night, and no employee wants them, the seats go empty.

Empty seats in the stands at ONEOK Field

This was the first game I'd watched at ONEOK Field from the outfield lawn. For other games, I'd had infield tickets from a friend -- second row back from home plate in one case, club seating at other times. (Those seats had a great view of home, but during day games they put you right in the sun. We abandoned the second-row back seats after a few innings, preferring to watch from the shade of the concourse.)

From the outfield lawn, you're 400 feet from home plate. You're scarcely above the level of the players, so you're getting a vertically compressed, cross-section view of the game -- outfielders, infielders, pitcher, catcher, batter, umpire, runners, coaches are all on the same level. The batter, catcher, and home plate umpire seem to blend in to the crowd in the seats behind them. In most stadiums, when you look in from the outfield -- the typical TV camera angle -- you see a wall behind the batter, giving you a fairly clear view.. At ONEOK Field, there are fans sitting at tables right at ground level behind the batter.

From the east half of the right field lawn, you can't see the jumbo scoreboard because of the playground and towering batter's eye screen that protects the kids' splash pad. We could see the numbers on the small scoreboard over the 1st base seats, but it took a while to make out the lettering and figure out which number was which.

Batter and catcher blend into the crowd at ONEOK Field

Back in 1987, when friends and I went made three trips to old Busch Stadium and had upper-deck outfield seats to watch the St. Louis Cardinals, we would joke that the action on the diamond was so far away that "the game was only a rumor." But at least from that vantage point we could see the movement of the runners and fielders and have an idea of what was happening. Down on the ONEOK Field lawn, we didn't have that consolation.

At the old Drillers Stadium, there really wasn't a bad seat, although that wasn't the case from the beginning. When the first outfield seating was built along the left field foul line, the seats were oriented perpendicular to the foul line, so you had to sit at a sharp angle to the bench to see home. The closest seats to the field were at least 10 feet up. Owner Went Hubbard reoriented the left field seating and built right field seating angled to face the infield. He also dropped the box seats from their lofty perch to a more reasonable height above the field. The orientation of the park allowed the shadows to begin to shade the stands early in the evening. The results were great for watching baseball.

The downtown stadium backers said our old ballpark was too big at 10,950 seats. We needed a smaller, more intimate stadium so that it would feel full most of the time, they said. But how intimate can it feel when half of the seats are empty?

The Drillers should consider some measures that protect season ticket holders, but at the same time fill up the infield seats whenever possible (and as a bonus, make more money).

Since barcode scanners are used to scan every ticket each game, somewhere there's a computer that knows exactly which seats have already been claimed that game. That makes it possible to fill the infield stands without chaos.

The Drillers could offer season ticket holders a credit for notifying the Drillers and releasing their seats when they won't be used. Go to the website or the mobile app, click a button, and the Drillers can credit your account and resell the seat to someone who will actually use it that night.

The Drillers could offer seating upgrades after the third inning; ticket holders in the park could pay to upgrade to any unclaimed seat. Season ticket holders who are running late could notify the Drillers via the web or a mobile app not to release their seats.

As an alternative, maybe someone could bring an independent minor league team to play at the old park. The American Association of Independent Professional Baseball has teams in a number of old Texas League ballparks, including Wichita, Amarillo, and El Paso. A few of the teams manage to thrive playing just a few miles from a major league park -- the St. Paul Saints, the Kansas City T-Bones, and the Grand Prairie AirHogs (their home field, QuikTrip Park, is just seven miles from The Ballpark in Arlington). These teams draw fans who want to see baseball up close at an affordable price. QuikTrip Park, by the way, cost $20 million to build in 2008, and seats about 5500.


Relevant to yesterday's post on the Smithsonian Channel documentary that misrepresented the history of Greenwood, Tulsa's historic African-American neighborhood that its residents rebuilt after it was sacked and burned in the 1921 Tulsa Race Riot. The rebuilt neighborhood thrived and prospered for decades, becoming known as Black Wall Street, before urban renewal and expressway construction destroyed it again in the late 1960s. Here is a news story from the time that illustrates the social and financial impact of the decision to route the expressway through the heart of the Deep Greenwood commercial district.

From the Tulsa Library's online "vertical files," this article from the May 4, 1967, Tulsa Tribune, shows a photo of the demolition of the Dreamland Theater to make way for I-244. The story reports on the number of long-time small businesses that are closing down because they can't get financing to reopen somewhere new. Although the library's PDF has OCR text, it is full of mis-scanned words, so I decided to transcribe it here, and correlate it with other contemporaneous sources of information.

An Old Tulsa Street Is Slowly Dying
Greenwood Fades Away Before Advance of Expressway


An old man walked doen the sunny side of Greenwood Avenue and paused to stare at a pile of rubble.

Across the street, Ed Goodwin looked out the window of the offices of the Oklahoma Eagle and shook his head. "That's L. H. Williams," the Negro publisher said. "He comes down here every day. Since he had to sell out, he's just put the money in the savings and loan and lives off the interest . . ."

Ed Goodwin and L. H. Williams grew up with Greenwood Avenue. They remember the early days, when the first buildings were put up in the two blocks north of Archer Street.

They saw the riot of 1921, when many of the buildings burned. They saw the street rebuilt, grow and prosper. They saw, too, as a slum festered.

And now they are watching Greenwood Avenue die.

Its business district will be no more.

THE CROSSTOWN Expressway slices across the 100 block of North Greenwood Avenue, across those very buildings that Goodwin describes as "once a Mecca for the Negro businessman--a showplace."

There still will be a Greenwood Avenue, but it will be a lonely, forgotten lane ducking under the shadows of a big overpass. The Oklahoma Eagle still will be there, but every forecast is that some urban renewal project will push down the buildings that have not already been torn down by the wrecking crews clearing right-of-way for the superhighway.

Williams' son went to college and got a degree in pharmacy. He helped his father in the drug store, later was its manager. Today, he is looking for a job. He can't get financing to build another drug store anywhere.

"Very few of the businessmen here are able to get the financing they need to relocate," Goodwin said. "A Negro just can't do it. So, most of them are just out of business."

IT WAS BECAUSE of financing that Goodwin stayed on the street when [sic] he grew up instead of building a new office in another neighborhood.

His father operated a grocery store in a building across the street--one of those torn down to make room for the expressway.

"He built it in 1915," Goodwin recalled. "and it was destroyed in the 1921 riot. But he rebuilt and there was a grocery store there until 1930. I ran a furniture store there for a while, then put the Eagle office in there in 1936."

There, the Oklahoma Eagle remained until last year.

Goodwin owned an old theater building. It was not in the path of the highway.

"I wanted to put the paper out closer to my house, but they wanted so much money for the property, I decided it would be better to put the money into the building."

In the midst of old buildings, most of them dark, red brick structures dating to the early 1920s, he built a shining modern buff-brick structure. Behind the new building housing the Eagle, in what had been the orchestra pit of the old theater, he put a sunken garden.

OTHER PIECES of history have scattered away. There was the Dreamland Theater. J. W. Williams built it in 1916, then rebuilt it after it burned in the 1921 riot. A Negro Elks lodge moved in years ago, and this was a leading social center for the Negro community.

A rather substantial expressway pillar is slated to plunk down just about where the lobby of the theater was. The Elks managed to find a house 15 blocks up the street and there they moved a few weeks ago.

Otis Isaacs had a shoe shop next door. He rented his space from Alex Spann, who owned many of the buildings on the street. lsaacs had to shift for himself. He found a place 10 blocks away.

Attorney Amos Hall had an office downstairs. and upstairs had provided space for the Negro Masonic Lodge, of which he is Grand Master. Hall and his lodge both moved Into a building five blocks away.

BUT THE WILLLIAMS Drug is not being relocated. Nor has barber Joe Bulloch found a new place to go into business. Dr. A. G. Bacholtz has given up the private practice he carried on for so long on Greenwood Avenue, and is working with the City-County Health Department.

And Alex Spann. the building owner. He had a pool hall. With the money he got for his buildings, he bought another old pool hall a mile up Greenwood.

Hotel owner A. G. Small couldn't build another hotel anywhere. So he decided to retire. Mrs. Joseph W. Miller, whose late husband built a hotel which she operated, also could not rebuild. She, too, has retired.

A couple who operated a cafe gave up their own business and went to work for restaurants in downtown Tulsa. A man who owned a garage was just about able to get his mortgage paid off from the funds from the sale of the building to the highway department. He is not back in business anywhere else.

PAT WHITE was able to move his barbecue stand into a new home on Pine Street. The Christ Temple CME Church moved to Apache and Lewis.

"There is no Negro business district anymore," Goodwin said. Tulsa attached the name of Greenwood to the entire district occupied by Negroes--a name that ironically came from the city of Greenwood, Miss., a pIace hardly considered a Mecca for Negroes.

"They might as well take down all these parking meters," the publisher said. "There's nothing to park here for anymore."

In its heyday, it was a busy street. But the buildings grew old. The Negro population moved into newer neighborhoods. Slowly, integration opened a few doors downtown, on the other side of Archer Street. Places to eat. Go to a movie. To work at good jobs.

RAUCOUS CLUBS and rooming houses sprang up around Greenwood and Archer. Long before the expressway came and brushed the old street away, it was a dying street, like the main street of many an old, small town.

The future? A question mark for some like L. H. Williams Jr. More certain for young Jim Goodwin, who like his father became a lawyer, or for Ed Goodwin Jr., who edits the newspaper his father publishes. For others, they simply are passing from the scene, like the street they knew for half a century.

Right-of-Way for Crosstown Expressway

SOMETIME, POSSIBLY about four years from now, an elevated eight-lane expressway will cross Greenwood Avenue between Brady and Cameron Streets.

Right-of-way for the project is now being cleared. This Tribune photo looks northwest along the construction path.

Greenwood enters the picture at the upper left, and the buildings in the right background are on Cameron.

The expressway will be about 30 feet above the ground as it crosses Greenwood.

It will carry the designation Interstate 244, and will be part of the Crosstown Expressway which forms the north side of a planned inner dispersal loop around the downtown area.

East of Greenwood, the project is taking nearly all the land between Cameron and Archer Streets as far east as the Texas & Pacific Railway (formerly the Midland valley) tracks.

The expressway will cross Archer Street and both the T&P and Santa Fe railroads east of Hartford Avenue.

West of Greenwood. the right-of-way runs northwesteriy, crossing Cameron before it gets to Frankfort Place.

Here is a section of the January 5, 1951, aerial photo showing Deep Greenwood.


Here is the same area, from the September 10, 1967, USGS aerial photo, taken just four months after the Tribune article. As you can see, the expressway cuts right through the heart of the Black Wall Street business district. Had planners moved the expressway a block further south or perhaps built over the broad Frisco right-of-way, Greenwood would not have lost its commercial heart. Who decided the exact route is a question worth investigating.


Here is the same area as it is today, from Google Maps.


The buff-brick building mentioned in the story is still the home of the Oklahoma Eagle, at 624 E. Archer St., the SW corner of Archer and Hartford. The mention of the theater and orchestra pit on that property sent me looking: Sanborn's 1915 map shows a single-story building labeled "moving pictures" on the south side of Archer just east of the north-south alleyway that split the block; that's west of the "new" Eagle building. 1939 and 1962 maps show a two-story building, about twice as deep as the theater, with rooms on the 2nd floor and two retail spaces on the first floor.

Here is the 1962 Sanborn map covering most of the area described in the article:


On the jump page are lists of businesses, from the 1957 Polk City Directory, on blocks that were affected by demolition. To add context, I've included buildings that were spared (at least spared by the expressway, but those buildings that were demolished for the expressway are shown in bold; italics indicates a business mentioned in the Tribune story. Even though this directory was published a decade before demolition, it's notable that so many businesses were still around 10 years later, persisting until the end. It's also notable that there were so many small, family-owned businesses and so many residences in such a concentrated area.


There was some excitement among Tulsa history buffs when it was learned that the Smithsonian Channel would be showing colorized clips from home movies showing Greenwood, Tulsa's historic African-American district, as it was in the mid-to-late1920s. Instead we have another instance of the erroneous notion I call the "Greenwood Gap Theory" -- the idea that Greenwood was never rebuilt after the riot -- this time being promulgated by one of America's most respected cultural institutions.

The Smithsonian Channel is not available on cable TV in Tulsa, but the program, "America in Color: The 1920s," is available to watch on the Smithsonian Channel website, free of charge. The segment on Greenwood begins about 16 minutes into the program and lasts about 90 seconds.


As American Heritage reported back in September 2006 (noted here on BatesLine a few days later), Oklahoma historian Currie Ballard had acquired 29 cans of film that had been taken by Solomon Sir Jones, a black Baptist preacher, who had been assigned by the National Baptist Convention "to document the glories of Oklahoma's black towns." Yale University has made the Solomon Sir Jones film collection available for viewing online. The stills above are from Film 18; the stills below, from the offices of the Oklahoma Eagle in 1927, are from Film 2.


It's disappointing that Arrow International Media (producers of this Smithsonian series) chose to present images of a prosperous Greenwood (and Muskogee) circa 1925, followed by film of the 1921 Tulsa Race Riot. The order of presentation and the narration leave the viewer with the impression that the riot destroyed the prosperity shown in the Jones films when in fact, the Jones films depict the triumphant resurgence of the Greenwood community after the riot.


It's understandable that a member of the general public, knowing about the 1921 Riot and seeing the area as it is today, might leap to the conclusion that Greenwood was never rebuilt. But the producers of the Smithsonian video had access to all the information they needed to tell the complete story.

Doug Miller of Müllerhaus Legacy, a publishing house in Tulsa, debunks the Smithsonian presentation with precision and passion.

I was initially excited today to see that the Smithsonian Channel was including Greenwood in a new documentary entitled "America in Color." But, upon watching the section that discussed Greenwood and the race riot, I was saddened to see an almost total misrepresentation of the the film footage. I immediately saw significant errors and omissions that, in my opinion, rob Greenwood of its rightful legacy.

As you'll read below, the mistakes are many and were so obvious that I can only assume they were made knowingly with the intention of elevating narrative above fact. It's a practice that has become common place in the news media today. Sadly, it has apparently also filtered down to historians. Before supposing that these errors don't really matter, I hope you'll read my entire post. I outline the errors that I think matter very much. And I explain why.

Miller lists and rebuts five egregious errors in the segment: (1) None of the footage shows Greenwood before the riot, as the narration implies. (2) Much of the street footage shown was actually from Muskogee, as Rev. Jones's meticulous title cards clearly indicate. (3) Greenwood's founding is misrepresented. (4) The riot is depicted as an attack motivated by universal white resentment against Greenwood's prosperity; the reality, documented in contemporary news sources, is much more complex.


The fifth error does the greatest cultural damage:

Fifth, and most damning: the film says nothing of Greenwood's rightful legacy. Perhaps I should not single out this film on this point. Most tellings of the Tulsa Race Riot are, in my opinion, guilty of doing the same. I have long been of the opinion that the rebuilding of Greenwood needs to take its rightful place as one of the single most powerful and inspirational stories of Black America's fight to overcome the injustice of segregation and racial inequity. When one fairly considers the breathtaking scope of the destruction, the speed of reconstruction, the opposition to rebuilding (even within the black community), and the defiant independence with which the community achieved all they did, one cannot help but be moved at the level of the soul.

Yet, while the story of the riot is advertised far and wide, very few Tulsans and even fewer outsiders know the glorious story of Greenwood's rebuilding. From my own personal interactions, I dare say that most Tulsans believe that Greenwood's history ended in 1921. Many people are shocked to find out that Greenwood reached its economic peak in 1941 and continued to thrive well into the 1960s.

No, the white mob did not win. Greenwood won. And that should be what every Tulsan remembers best about the legacy of Greenwood. It is a story of remarkable victory, not defeat and destruction. To say otherwise is to deny the inconceivable achievement of every African American father and business leader who died protecting their community and their families during that horrific event. And, who chose to defiantly stay in Tulsa to rebuild.

Miller is absolutely right on all points: Most people assume that the Riot is the reason that so little of Greenwood remains (and that the neighborood to the west is vacant except for a few eerie Steps to Nowhere).

Miller is right, too, that the rebuilding of Greenwood is an inspirational story of African-American resiliance, perserverance, and initiative in the face of violent racism that every Tulsan, every American ought to know.

So why is there this preference for the Greenwood Gap theory, the notion that "Greenwood's history ended in 1921"? Why is the rebuilding rarely mentioned in discussions of the Riot?

I have two hypotheses: One speaks to local political concerns and the other deals with national cultural sensitivies.

The local hypothesis is that Tulsa's civic and cultural leaders found it more pleasant to leave people with the incorrect impression that Greenwood was never rebuilt than to face their own culpability in its second destruction. If you remind people that Greenwood was rebuilt, bigger and better than before, according to eyewitness accounts, it raises a question in their minds: Why isn't it here anymore? And the answer to that question raises questions about decisions made, mainly in the late 1960s, by people who were still alive and active in city government and community affairs for decades afterward:

  • Who signed off on the decision to run I-244 right through the heart of Deep Greenwood?
  • Who decided that the Greenwood and Lansing Avenue commercial districts should be demolished?
  • Who decided to demolish the original Booker T. Washington High School, a building that had survived the 1921 Riot?
  • Why were the promises of new and better housing, retail, and community facilities never fulfilled?
  • Who among African-American community leaders lent their support to these plans?
  • How is it that a well-intentioned, progressive program like Model Cities, part of President Johnson's War on Poverty, resulted in the destruction of Black Wall Street?

It's easy to imagine city leaders thinking: Better that Tulsans should blame long-dead city leaders and anonymous rioters for the destruction of Greenwood than to wonder about the judgment of present-day leaders who signed off on its second destruction.

Some day, someone needs to write the history of urban renewal in Tulsa, with a particular focus on the Greenwood District and Model Cities.

But these local factors would not have influenced the writers and producers of the Smithsonian documentary.

This is the most generous spin I can put on it: They couldn't believe that Greenwood was rebuilt so quickly after the riot (or at all), so they assumed that the dates on the films were incorrect and that the scenes of prosperity predated 1921.

My hypothesis regarding Greenwood and national cultural sensitivites is twofold: First, that the story of Greenwood's reconstruction would undermine the left-wing narrative that only government action can right societal wrongs, which are the result of capitalism and individual liberty. This was the gist of OSU-Tulsa Professor J. S. Maloy's objection to my 2007 column about the Greenwood Gap theory, expressed in a letter to Urban Tulsa Weekly: "The free market will always indulge racism, ignorance, fear, and sheer pettiness of spirit in the name of profits. Only a democratic process--public investment constrained by public consultation--can do better." While his letter to UTW is not online, the original version of my rebuttal is here, detailing my sources and inviting him to do his own investigation. Maloy's apparent ideological commitment to the superiority of government action to voluntary action led him to disbelieve documentary evidence to the contrary.

Second, that the reconstruction of Greenwood and the resilience of its people raises uncomfortable questions about present-day American culture. If Tulsa's African-American community could rebuild within a year, despite government-imposed obstacles, despite the resurgent Ku Klux Klan, what was it about the character and social capital of that community that we lack today?

TAKE ACTION: Tulsans concerned about an accurate portrayal of Greenwood's resurgence can contact the Smithsonian Channel and urge them to issue a correction and to edit the narration and sequence to reflect the correct locations and chronology.

We would love to hear your thoughts. Send Smithsonian Channel your suggestions, comments, questions, and concerns to contact@smithsoniannetworks.com or call us at 844-SMITHTV (764-8488).

San Antonio's Majestic Theatre facade, by Michael Bates (IMG_0547)

A friend asked me recently where I stood on the issue of design guidelines in zoning, particularly as it affects property rights and a proposed overlay district for downtown Tulsa. I referred him to a sampling relevant articles from the BatesLine archive, in which I discuss zoning generally and defend the idea of overlay districts such as neighborhood conservation districts, urban conservation districts, and historic preservation districts. I thought the links might be of broader interest:

Citizen-Jane.jpgCitizen Jane, a film documenting the struggle to preserve Lower Manhattan from being destroyed by expressway construction in the 1960s, is currently showing at Tulsa's Circle Cinema. A special event at the 2:00 pm showing on Sunday, May 21, 2017, will pay tribute to Tulsa activist Betsy Horowitz, who led the successful fight to preserve Maple Ridge and River Parks from a planned expressway.

Jane Jacobs, a journalist by training and a Greenwich Village resident, turned her lessons learned fighting the city planners into a number of books that have stood the test of time, the most famous of which is The Death and Life of Great American Cities. It is a must-read for anyone who wants to understand what makes a neighborhood or district thrive and what makes it fail.

Citizen Jane is a timely tale of what can happen when engaged citizens fight the power for the sake of a better world. Arguably no one did more to shape our understanding of the modern American city than Jane Jacobs, the visionary activist and writer who fought to preserve urban communities in the face of destructive development projects. Director Matt Tyranuer (Valentino: The Last Emperor) vividly brings to life Jacobs' 1960s showdown with ruthless construction kingpin Robert Moses over his plan to raze lower Manhattan to make way for a highway, a dramatic struggle over the very soul of the neighborhood. The highway would have eliminated much of Washington Square Park and other Manhattan landmarks. Because of organized community opposition led by Jacobs, the project was dropped in 1969.

In Tulsa in the late 1960s, an outspoken Maple Ridge resident, Betsy Horowitz (1929-2009), similarly led the successful grassroots effort to oppose the Riverside Expressway that would have taken out historic Maple Ridge homes and Lee Elementary School, prevented the establishment of the Tulsa's River Parks and eliminated the opportunity for the current development of the much anticipated A Gathering Place. The Oklahoma Highway Department officially cancelled the expressway project in 1972. Betsy once stated that "to save Maple Ridge and Lee School was not just a dream of mine; it was a passion that became an obsession."

Circle Cinema has invited Andrew Horowitz, Betsy's son, to speak about his mother's efforts and passion after a screening of the film on Sunday, May 21, at 2pm. The Tulsa Historical Society will have a display of materials in the Circle lobby reflecting the events that unfolded during the battle over the proposed Riverside Expressway.


Here's my tribute to Betsy Horowitz following her death in 2009. Unfortunately, the Goodbye Tulsa podcast interview (dead link) with Betsy's son Andrew Horowitz has vanished from the web; it wasn't captured by Internet Archive. (If someone has it, send it to me and I'll host it here.)

Here's my tribute to Jane Jacobs from 2006, which highlights three of her big ideas about cities and neighborhoods.

From 2005, my urban design reading list, which includes Jacobs's Death and Life of Great American Cities.

In 2011, Roberta Brandes Gratz, author of The Battle for Gotham, posted a thoughtful review of Jane Jacobs' legacy, in light of claims that she was responsible for NIMBYism.

Jay Cronley, RIP

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Longtime Tulsa newspaper columnist, novelist, and screenwriter Jay Cronley has died at the age of 73. Cronley was an institution on the front of the City/State section of the Tulsa Tribune, then made the transition to the Tulsa World after the World's publisher purchased and shuttered the Tribune. Cronley's curmudgeonly voice ran under his own byline and also that the Tribune Picks, the cynical weekly take on the weekend's upcoming football games. Growing up in a Tribune household, I looked forward to Jay's thrice-weekly columns and weekly football picks (everyone suspected it was him). When I subscribed to the Tribune by mail in college, Cronley's columns were among the reasons I felt no embarrassment in leaving the Tribune on the commons coffee tables next to the Boston Globe and Wall Street Journal.

Cronley left the World just about a year ago, but continued to write three times a week, behind a paywall, on his own website, jaycronley.com. His final piece, "Mayfield Punishment is No Gimmie," appeared on February 26, 2017.

In his final column for the World, Cronley explained what it takes to be a descriptive writer.

Good column writing is descriptive.

At TU, I had them make a list of descriptions.

Cold as what?

One of them wrote cold as the devil.

What makes a good columnist?

It's simple: reading.

If I wanted to become a writer all over again I'd major in English, where you have to read literature. In journalism school, too often you read textbooks. The only way to learn how to write is to read. Reading literature is how you learn to think. You can be taught to be a reporter. When you read literature, you see what works through the ages and what didn't.

That's a good point in favor of the classical approach to education and the benefits of a liberal arts education. The only exception I'd take to Jay's suggestion is that majoring in English these days would likely get you bogged down in intersectional theory and identity politics, while keeping you away from the classic works that would make you a better writer. Better you should find a school that teaches the Great Books, the canon of Western Civilization. I've been encouraging my wordsmith daughter to take a close look at those sorts of schools, the kind that accepts the new Classic Learning Test.

The World has made available Jay Cronley's final columns for the paper and a selection of favorites over the years.

Today, February 14, 2017, is the day that Oklahoma voters choose school board members and vote on school bond issues. Polls are open at the usual locations from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m.

Four K-12 school board seats will be on the ballot, two of them in the Tulsa school district and one each in Union and Collinsville. Skiatook, Union, and Jenks districts have school bond issues. Two Tulsa Technology Center board seats are up for election as well. Owasso and Sand Springs each have a City Council seat before the voters.

TPS and TTC board seats are only for voters in the specific election district. In the other school districts, the member comes from a particular part of the district, but all voters in the district are eligible to vote.

I've provided a rough description of each district below, but check the maps for exact information. Where I could find a website or social media profile, I've linked them below. Party ID is based on voter registration data from March 2016, the most recent I have on hand.

Map of Tulsa Public Schools board member districts
Map of Tulsa Technology Center board member districts
Map of school district boundaries in and near Tulsa County

Tulsa Public Schools, Office No. 2: I-244 to Pine, from Detroit to Memorial; plus I-244 to 11th Street, from the IDL to Yale, plus Pine to Apache, from Osage County Line to Lewis. Rogers and Washington high schools fall within this zone.

Incumbent (and former County Commissioner) Wilbert Collins is on the ballot, but he has withdrawn from the race because of illness. Phil Armstrong (D) and Amy Shelton (I) have been actively campaigning for the seat. Vote411 has questionnaire responses from both candidates. Both candidates expressed hostility to school choice.

Tulsa Public Schools, Office No. 3: Everything north of I-244, except for the portion that falls in District 2.

Incumbent Lana Turner is opposed by Jennettie P. Marshall (D). Here is video of Turner speaking at the "Exploring Equity community conversation" last week. Whitney Cole also filed but is not actively campaigning.

The Oklahoma Eagle has endorsed Armstrong for Office 2 and Marshall for Office 3.

Union Public Schools, Office No. 2:

Patrick Coyle (R), the incumbent, is opposed by Lisa Ford (R) and Glenda K. Puett (D). Ford and Coyle both responded to the Vote 411 questionnaire. Coyle expressed hostility to school choice, while Ford seemed to think the question concerned students transferring into Union from other districts.

Tulsa Technology Center: Office No. 1 (seven-year term): City of Tulsa north of 21st and west of Yale, including Gilcrease Hills, plus Turley.

There is no incumbent. This election is for a full term. The candidates are Keenan H. Meadors (D), Melanie Sweeney McIntosh, and Ray A. Owens (D).

Tulsa Technology Center: Office No. 5 (unexpired term): Tulsa County north of 86th St. N., plus all of Owasso; Tulsa County west of the City of Tulsa, plus the sections of the TTC district in Creek, Pawnee, and Osage Counties (except Gilcrease Hills).

Danny Hancock (R) and Roy D. McClain are running for this unexpired term. The Vote411 voter guide has a candidate questionnaire, but Hancock was the only candidate to respond.

Owasso City Council, Ward 3:

Incumbent Bill Bush, who appears to be backed by city government insiders, is opposed by JC Prince and Randy Cowling. Prince has the support of the Owasso Taxpayers Alliance.

Sand Springs City Council, Ward 4:

The candidates are former State Senator Nancy Riley and Christine Hamner. Riley gained notoriety by switching from Republican to Democrat after her unsuccessful 2006 run for Lt. Governor, resulting in the State Senate being evenly split between Republicans and Democrats during the 51st Legislature.

If you read my earlier entry about cricket in Australia, you're likely champing at the bit, wondering where you can see this high-scoring sport close to home.

In the month of January, your best opportunity is while seated on your sofa. NBC Sports Network (channel 317/1317 on Cox Tulsa cable) is airing one KFC Big Bash League game every week through the end of the season, plus the semifinal and final matches. This is TV-friendly Twenty20 cricket -- twenty overs per side, with an overall three-hour time limit. Teams are penalized if they fail to complete their bowling innings within 90 minutes; the Brisbane team faces the suspension of their team captain for going five minutes over. The Brisbane-Perth match, which aired live at 2:30 am this morning, will be rebroadcast Thursday, January 12, 2017, at 11:00 am Tulsa time. It's a very different fan experience, too: In contrast to the empty stands for the Sheffield Shield matches I watched, the Gabba was sold out for this match, which featured flashy scoreboard graphics, music between overs, and a swimming pool overlooking the pitch.

But when our weather warms up, there will be an opportunity to see live and local cricket. Two Tulsa clubs, the Greater Tulsa Cricket Club and the Green Country Cricket Club, participate in the Two-State Cricket League (TSCL), along with five clubs based in Wichita, three in Oklahoma City, and one each in Lawton, Stillwater (associated with OSU), and Salina, Kansas. Gauging from the names on the roster, it appears that one of Tulsa's two clubs is predominantly Indian and the other Pakistani. Both teams play at Ute Park, south of Jackson Elementary School at Ute St. and N. Pittsburg Ave. (A well-tended wicket shows up clearly on satellite photos.) The 2017 schedule is not yet posted, but last year's list of fixtures indicates that they play 35-over cricket from early April until October and Twenty20 cricket in October.

As I learn more details, I'll keep you posted.

There are those who worry about the influence of the wealthy on federal politics but are quite blasé about the influence of the wealthy on local politics.

That slobbery, smooching sound you heard Saturday was Wayne Greene's column in the Saturday, December 31, 2016, Tulsa World, telling all of us we should accept with thanks and praise every perfect gift that comes from Our Kaiser Above.

The specific occasion is the news that a north Tulsa property owner has refused to sell his dream home and the acreage it sits on to the George Kaiser Family Foundation (GKFF), land that GKFF wants for an industrial park.

The triangle of land between 36th Street North, Mohawk Blvd, Peoria and Lewis Avenues is largely undeveloped. Dirty Butter Creek and its tributaries converge here, making it susceptible to flooding, which may explain why it was passed over by developers during Tulsa's period of northward suburban expansion in the 1950s.

This inexpensive land afforded some families the possibility of building their dream home, surrounded by woods, but close to the conveniences of the city. Along the north side of Mohawk Blvd, far from the creeks, several attractive, large homes were built on small acreages. All but one of these have now been acquired and removed; one remains, owned by Charles and Rebecca Williams, and they have refused to take an offer that is twice the assessor's estimate of their property's value.

The Tulsa World published a story about the Williamses early last week. A few mildly negative comments about Kaiser on that article prompted Greene's column.

It's ironic that whoever headlined Greene's column used the term "local hero" to refer to George Kaiser. There's a movie called Local Hero, one of my all-time favorites, set in a little seaside village in Scotland. The hero of the title is the one property owner who refuses to sell to an American billionaire for a massive industrial project.

Let's examine a few of the things Greene says in his column:

The city's $10 million infrastructure participation in the project was thoroughly debated during the Vision tax extension process. It had the support of the municipal political leadership for the area at the time and was approved by the City Council. Subsequently, voters signed off on the Vision package, including the industrial park.

I suspect the only topic of debate was "will this project get more votes for the dams?" As I wrote back before the vote, the suspiciously round numbers allocated for many of the projects suggest that no serious effort was made to estimate the actual cost for the proposed projects. "If I were a cynic, I might believe that the City Council had no interest in whether these projects were feasible or appropriately budgeted. I might believe, were I a cynic, that these items were included just to get a few more hundred voters to the polls in the mood to vote yes on everything." What exactly was $10 million supposed to cover? It looks like a payola project -- not a serious effort to fund a well-defined project.

The "municipal political leadership for the area at the time" appears to refer to City Councilor Jack Henderson. Northside community leaders complained that the priorities expressed by residents were ignored by Henderson and the council in favor of their own pet projects. Projects associated with a long-term neighborhood planning effort for the 36th Street North corridor were left on the cutting-room floor. Henderson lost his bid for re-election this November to one of the leading critics of his choice of projects.

As to how thoroughly it was debated: Going back through news coverage prior to the election, I find nothing that specified where the proposed industrial park would be located, nothing more specific than "North Peoria." It appears that it was only after the vote took place that the specific location, which isn't even adjacent to Peoria Ave., was identified.

In hindsight, it appears that the reason the 36th Street North small area plan was ignored in Vision Tulsa is because it conflicted with GKFF's intentions and two years of behind-the-scenes land acquisition. Neighborhood stakeholders, working with city planners, identified the undeveloped land between Dirty Butter Creek, Mohawk, and 36th Street North as ripe for new single-family residential development, not as the site for a major industrial facility. Was there anyone on the City Council or in the Mayor's office who would champion the wishes of local residents over the plans of a billionaire's foundation? There used to be. Now we have a mayor who used to be a lobbyist for the billionaire's foundation.

Greene mistakenly believes the new Macy's distribution center will be in Owasso:

Eventually, the project is envisioned to be the home to 1,000 quality jobs, which could be the beginning of the economic turnaround north Tulsa has wanted for years. Want to know why the Macy's distribution center ended up in Owasso and not Tulsa? Owasso had a site that was ready to go. Tulsa didn't.

While it's true that the Macy's center site is near Owasso, and the land used to be owned by an entity called the Owasso Land Trust (despite the name, a commercial entity, not governmental), the site is actually within the City of Tulsa's municipal fence line -- unincorporated land that Tulsa could annex but which is protected against annexation by Owasso or any other city or town. (Presumably Tulsa does not annex this property or other nearby facilities in the Cherokee Industrial Park because it's more attractive to businesses if they don't have to pay city sales tax, use tax, or property tax and if they don't have to put up with city regulations.)

A bit further on in the column, Greene praises the many donations GKFF has made to keep local non-profits running. He continues:

Of course, that hardly scratches the surface of the efforts of the Kaiser foundation to improve Tulsa. From the city's national model early childhood education program to the game-changing A Gathering Place for Tulsa under construction along Riverside Drive, almost all of the good things going on in our community have the leadership (and funding) of the Kaiser foundation.

Whatever you may think of the two specific items mentioned in this paragraph, that last line goes way over the top in its praise of GKFF, or else it reveals Greene's tunnel vision, limiting civic life to a handful of big, highly publicized projects. I could list dozens of job-creating companies, innovative entrepreneurs, charitable and educational initiatives, none of which have anything to do with Kaiser or his foundation.

As to those two examples: Research has failed to show a positive impact on learning outcomes for all the massive public and private investment in putting what we used to call preschool-aged children into classrooms. Making it more affordable for one parent to stay home, parents being married and staying married, connection with a faith community all do more to help children learn and grow. The Gathering Place looks like it will be a lovely park, but hardly "game-changing." GKFF is putting another park in walking distance of a number of other lovely parks and some of Tulsa's wealthiest neighborhoods, while working-class neighborhoods often lack parks, shopping, or any other outdoor space where neighbors might gather. North Tulsa has been particularly hard hit with the removal of recreation centers and swimming pools in recent years.

Greene confesses to having a small flowering plant related to the pea and legume families with GKFF:

You can complain about whatever your particular vetch is with the Kaiser foundation. Personally, I wish the Gathering Place project would get done faster. I miss running along the river and when I drive south the Peoria Avenue detour taunts me with the memories of Riverside Drive.

But that doesn't prevent me from recognizing that my relatively minor inconveniences and the hundreds of millions of dollars marshaled by the Kaiser foundation are going to one day give Tulsa one of the most magnificent community parks in the world, the sort of thing that could help propel Tulsa socially and economically.

I think he means "kvetch," a Yiddish word that can either be a verb (to complain) or a noun (a persistent complainer). One dictionary says it can be used to mean "complaint," but I've never come across that.

The notion that a park, however magnificent, could "propel Tulsa socially and economically" again reveals that Greene's view of civic life is far too narrow.

Greene's little complaint ought to stir a doubt in his mind: How is it that a private organization is granted permission to shut down major public thoroughfares for two years? Even public construction projects are rarely permitted to shutdown a road completely. Ordinarily, public need and convenience would be balanced against the presumed cost and schedule savings of a total shutdown.

That GKFF was able to get a two-year total shutdown of Riverside Drive and the Midland Valley Trail without a murmur of protest from city officials ought to frighten Greene. We can be appreciative of a billionaire's generosity, but we need city officials and the media to remain on guard, to scrutinize his plans and his actions, particularly as they interact with public infrastructure and public policy.

There are strong incentives for city officials and columnists to be good yacht guests, fending off criticisms and keeping their own qualms to themselves. They might want GKFF's support for their own pet projects. They might hope someday to work for a GKFF-funded organization or might have a relative who works for one. The elected officials don't want Kaiser and affiliated donors and PACs to fund an opponent in the next election.

Wouldn't it be lovely if Tulsa had leaders willing to defend plans developed by their fellow citizens against changes pushed by billionaires? We did, about 10 years ago, but they've all been run off and replaced with rubber stamps. I won't hold my breath waiting for things to change.

MORE: There's an interesting pattern in the sales records for the parcels that are proposed to become an industrial park. Nearly all of the parcels I checked were first acquired by Mapleview Acquisitions I LLC, whose registered agent is former Tulsa Metropolitan Area Planning Commission chairman Joseph M. Westervelt. Many of the properties were then conveyed to NP36 LLC (registered agent Frederic Dorwart) in a multi-parcel transaction on December 8, 2016, although some parcels appear to be owned still by Mapleview Acquisitions I LLC, according to records on the county assessor's website. Westervelt is notable for his efforts to frustrate and undermine implementation of the Pearl District small-area plan; makes sense that he'd be involved in a development that undermines the 36th Street North small-area plan.

Newly sworn-in Tulsa Mayor G. T. Bynum IV has appointed outgoing mayor Dewey F. Bartlett Jr. to the City of Tulsa-Rogers County Port Authority.

The Tulsa World published a list of 52 appointments by Bynum IV to authorities, boards, and commissions. By my quick count, 23 are reappointments to the same position on the same board. The "new" appointments include the familiar names of frequent appointees to boards and commissions and City Hall insiders. A few examples: Longtime trash board member Cheryl Cohenour to the Greater Tulsa Indian Affairs Commission, former Metropolitan Environmental Trust chief Michael Patton to the trash board, Bama Pie chairman Paula Marshall to the Port Authority, school board member Lana Turner-Addison to the Sales Tax Overview Committee, former State Rep. Darrell Gilbert to the Ethics Advisory Commission.

Some reappointments hint at the likely direction of the Bynum administration -- namely no change in direction. Bynum has reappointed Toby Jenkins, head of Oklahomans for Forcing Other Oklahomans to Pretend There's No Difference Between Natural Marriage and Gay "Marriage," to the Human Rights Commission. Both appointments to the Tulsa Metropolitan Area Planning Commission are reappointments, so if you bet that Bynum would take a fresh approach to development and land use, you just lost your bet. Ditto for the two reappointments to the Tulsa Development [Urban Renewal] Authority.

I see no reason to stop referring to the new mayor and the old mayor as Tweedledee IV and Tweedledum Jr. Politicians used to promise a chicken in every pot. Under Mayor Bynum IV, we'll have water in the river and a perverted man in every ladies' locker room. Prosperity is just around the corner!

There are three contested county offices on the Tulsa County ballot. Republican Josh Turley seeks to defeat incumbent Democrat Commissioner Karen Keith in County Commission District 2. Republican Don Newberry and Democrat John R. Andrew are vying for the Court Clerk position, left open by the retirement of Sally Howe Smith. Republican Sheriff Vic Regalado and Democrat Rex Berry are in a rematch of the April special election to replace Stanley Glanz.

A recent, seemingly unrelated news item raised an issue that should be considered by Tulsa County voters tomorrow. State bond adviser Jim Joseph and State Auditor and Inspector Gary Jones spoke out against the widespread practice of school districts waiving competitive bids for bond issues.

Oklahoma school districts are spending millions of taxpayers' dollars every year by paying high fees for financial advisers, bond counsel and underwriters, says Jim Joseph, the state's bond adviser.

Many school districts continue to do the same thing year after year, while stubbornly refusing to use cost-saving competitive selection measures, he said.

"It's like picking a roofer right after a storm because he's the first guy who came to your door," Joseph said. "You're not going to get a deal, that's for sure."

State Auditor Gary Jones agreed school boards could save Oklahoma taxpayers money by obtaining competitive quotes.

"There could be tens of millions of dollars saved over a short period of time," Jones said.

Joseph went on to compare the massive fees paid by school districts to bond counsel and financial advisers, often a percentage of the bond issue, with the smaller amounts state agencies paid for much larger bond issue. Several were listed; here's one example:

For example, Midwest City-Del City Public Schools did a $72.62 million bond issue in 2012 without competitive bids. It paid the Floyd Law Firm of Norman $363,100 for serving as bond counsel and allowed Stephen H. McDonald & Associates and BOSC Inc., a subsidiary of BOK Financial Corporation, to equally split $508,340 for serving as co-financial advisers, records show.

Compare that with a $310.48 million bond issue by the Grand River Dam Authority that was done in 2014 through a competitive process. The state paid a $114,000 bond counsel fee and a $133,448 financial adviser fee.

Although the Grand River Dam Authority bond issue was more than four times as large as the Midwest City-Del City school bond issue, the school district paid more than triple the amount in bond counsel and financial adviser fees, records show.

Joseph pointed out that bond counsel, underwriter, and financial advisers often each take 1% of the bond issue as their fee, which Joseph says "makes no sense at all. It doesn't take any more work to do a $20 million issue than a $10 million issue for the bond counsel and financial adviser, but the fee is twice as high, if payment is on a percentage basis."

What does this have to do with Tulsa County? Joseph noted that the firm of Hilborne & Weidman was frequently listed as bond counsel for these competition-waived bond issues. Hilborne & Weidman was also one of two bond counsel firms selected in 2003 by the Tulsa County commissioners (acting as the Tulsa County Industrial Authority) for the Vision 2025 revenue bonds, a massive bond issue against up to all 13 years of the new sales tax. I urged at the time that Tulsa County put all Vision 2025 bond-related contracts up for competitive bid, as commissioners haggled publicly over which firms would get a piece of the action, but they waived competitive bidding and split the baby, giving each favored firm half of the business.

Over the last 13 years, there's been a complete turnover on the County Commission, but the tradition of waiving competitive bidding has persisted. Here's one example from May 26, 2009, in Karen Keith's first year as a commissioner ($110 million in bonds), another from February 1, 2010.

On May 23, 2016, the commissioners, including Karen Keith, voted unanimously to waive competitive bidding on indebtedness, but neither the minutes nor the agenda explain the amount or nature of the indebtedness. Given the proximity to the April 2016 Vision Tulsa vote, my guess is that the vote was on the revenue bonds pledged against that new 15-year sales tax stream.

How many more projects might have been built if Vision 2025 bonds had been competitively bid? Could we have had a new juvenile justice facility without being asked for more tax dollars in two separate elections? (And it still hasn't been built! Karen Keith has been in office eight years, and we're still waiting.)

Given the size of these bond issues, even a 1% fee would be a huge amount for a small firm. The temptation to corruption would be immense. Think of the money the former Skiatook superintendent got in kickbacks from the janitorial supply company. That would be chump change compared to even a small cut of 1% of a $500 million bond issue.

Oklahoma taxpayers need legislation to require competitive bidding on bonds and to require counties, school districts, and cities -- and their associated Title 60 trusts -- to use the state bond adviser rather than hiring their own favored exclusive firms. Until we get that legislation, we need county officials who will support transparency and fiscal prudence. Josh Turley and Don Newberry, both good men with long years' experience as county employees, will provide that kind of leadership, and I hope Tulsa County voters elect them both.

As for the sheriff's race, I've voiced my concern with the pattern of funding Regalado received in the special election primary and even more concern with the way he responded to the charges. He seems to have settled down and done a reasonable job of setting TCSO on a better course, away from last year's scandals. Rex Berry is way out in left field; we don't need someone like him as sheriff. I'm voting for Regalado.

Three Tulsa City Council seats made it to the general election. As the current City Council has been a complete disaster, backing a massive increase in the permanent sales tax, shutting down Riverside Drive for two years, and imposing their radical left-wing theories of gender and sexuality on the property owners of our city, I don't want any of them to be re-elected.

I was sad to see Jack Henderson work against the interests of District 1 by backing the regressive sales tax for dams in the Arkansas River. Burdening Tulsa's poorest neighborhoods with higher taxes so residents of our wealthier neighborhoods can look at water in the river is unjust, and the Jack Henderson I thought I knew used to understand that. Vanessa Hall-Harper does understand that. She stood against the dam sales tax. While I would never expect a conservative to win District 1, we can at least hope for a city councilor who wants to help her constituents to conserve their own hard-earned funds.

Jeannie Cue, the incumbent in District 2, has been a big disappointment for the aforementioned reasons. But the only thing I've been able to find out about her opponent, Aaron Bisogno, is that he really loves Star Wars. No endorsement in District.

In District 9, Ben Kimbro has the endorsement of the Tulsa Regional Chamber and a bunch of current city councilors. Clearly, we need someone different.

Eric McCray owns a small heat and air company, and he wants to see the reopening of Riverside Drive fast-tracked. He also has some sensible thoughts on the blighted sections of District 9:

Shutting down Riverside for 2 years with no end in sight is unacceptable.

We can make opening Riverside for commuters a priority and fast track the reopening date.

Tulsa commuters should not have to endure multiple, simultaneous road projects which shut down traffic all over the city. We should not see roads shut down with nobody present working on the projects. Crews should focus on a project 24/7 until it is completed and then move to the next. There is a management issue with the roads in Tulsa, and I aim to fix it.

Government assistance programs tend to fund the crime problem in our District. If you don't have to work for your food or housing, you likely have the time and entitlement mentality to commit crime. We have had one of the highest crime spots in all of Tulsa at 61st and Peoria. It is no coincidence that it is located near the swath of government assistance housing. It is not merely a poverty problem--I will work with law enforcement officials, community leaders, and business owners to determine the best way to deter crime from our District while promoting and bringing business to District 9. Let's change the reputation on this side of town.

A bit of good news to break up the election stuff:

Wayne McCombs, local baseball historian and executive director of the J.M. Davis Arms & Historical Museum in Claremore, is the subject of a profile in GTR Newspapers.

The profile by Terrel Lester begins with the story of McCombs's first encounter with the Davis collection, when he was a nine-year-old boy and the collection was still housed in the lobby of the Mason Hotel in downtown Claremore:

On a summer afternoon, air-conditioning and guns would be an inviting and double-barreled treat for rambunctious boys still shy of their teenage years.

They entered the lobby, cautiously, stealthily, if not so quietly. Looked around for the boss man.

Considering themselves alone, the boys encircled one of the most enticing pieces of Davis' collection of guns: The Gatling gun, rapid-fire linchpin of 19th-century army brigades and star of so many western movies.

As ringleader of the youngsters, Wayne McCombs remembered that he and his pals began imitating cavalry troops, rattling off sounds they thought mimicked the actions of the Gatling gun, whooping, jumping. One of his confederates even fell to the floor as if shot and wounded.

That was enough to rouse the heretofore silent and unseen James Monroe Davis.
"He stood up from behind his desk," McCombs said. "He saw us come in. He let us play for a little bit, but then it was time to get out.

The profile goes on to describe McCombs's career in radio at KWPR and KVOO, his work as University of Tulsa athletics promotion director during the exciting early '80s, his books on baseball history, his efforts as a Claremore civic leader, and his work, for the last seven years, to promote the J. M. Davis Museum.

McCombs routinely calls upon his marketing background for events to put, and keep, the museum in the public eye.

Along with the monthly appearance of western re-enactors, McCombs has installed such short-term exhibits as a collection of John Wayne movie posters and a tribute to the radio career of Billy Parker. In October, McCombs hosted a book-signing for former New York Yankees pitcher and Chelsea native Ralph Terry. Once or twice a year, McCombs plays host to a BB-gun shooting contest for youngsters.

"I was tired of hearing people say, 'I've been to the museum, but it's been a while. I haven't been back in years.'

"Well, I am trying to get people to come back to the museum," McCombs said.
When they do return, or even make their first trip, to the museum, patrons will find what McCombs and others often refer to as "an Oklahoma gem."

I've known Wayne going back to his time at TU, through Hal O'Halloran's Sports Night show on KXXO. It's always heartening to see someone find a role that is such a good fit for his skills and passions.

Someone has posted the video and audio that has been released by city authorities regarding the September 16, 2016, shooting on 36th Street N. in Tulsa. The collection consists of video from three officer dash cams and from the helicopter, audio from the 911 calls, and audio from police dispatch.

Officer Betty Jo Shelby was charged today by District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler with "Manslaughter First Degree, Heat of Passion," a felony violation of 21 O.S. 711, with an alternative charge of "Manslaughter, First Degree, Resisting Criminal Attempt." That link leads to the case file (CF-2016-5138) on the Oklahoma Supreme Court Network, and there you will find the DA's initial filing and the probable cause affidavit from DA office investigator Doug Campbell. Judge James Keeley signed the finding of probable cause and issued a warrant for Officer Shelby's arrest.

The charges read as follows:

21 O.S. 711

BETTY JO SHELBY, on or about 9/16/2016, in Tulsa County, State of Oklahoma and within the jurisdiction of this court, did commit the crime of MANSLAUGHTER - FIRST DEGREE - HEAT OF PASSION, a Felony, The Defendant Betty Jo Shelby, a Tulsa Police Officer encountered Terence Tafford Crutcher in the vicinity of 2300 East 36th Street North in the City and County of Tulsa Oklahoma, and based upon Terence Tafford Crutcher's non-compliant actions and behavior, the Defendant's fear resulted in her unreasonable actions which led her to shooting Terence Tafford Crutcher with a handgun which thereby caused his death.


21 O.S. 711

BETTY JO SHELBY, on or about 9/16/2016, in Tulsa County, State of Oklahoma and within the jurisdiction of this court, did commit the crime of MANSLAUGHTER - FIRST DEGREE - RESISTING CRIMINAL ATTEMPT, a Felony, the Defendant Betty Jo Shelby, a Tulsa Police Officer encountered Terence Tafford Crutcher in the vicinity of 2300 East 36th Street North in the City and County of Tulsa Oklahoma, and based upon Terence Tafford Crutcher's refusal to comply with her lawful orders, the Defendant unlawfully and unnecessarily shot Terence Tafford Crutcher with her handgun which thereby caused his death.


ABC reports Officer Shelby's side of the story.

Philip Holloway, a criminal defense attorney, former prosecutor, and certified peace officer for 27 years, has a CNN op-ed calling our attention to Graham v. Conner, a 1989 U. S. Supreme Court case that establishes the standard for reasonable use of force by law enforcement. Holloway evaluates the known facts in light of that standard, but leaves any conclusions to an investigation.

Tulsa Police Department deactivated their Twitter account, according to an emailed news release at 11:46 am, 2016/09/21:

Due to the overwhelming volume of violent and profane posts on the Tulsa Police Department's twitter account it has been deactivated temporarily. We will be maintaining our presence on Facebook.

I have been impressed by the grace with which our local officials -- particularly Mayor Dewey Bartlett Jr, TPD Chief Chuck Jordan, DA Steve Kunzweiler, and City Councilor Jack Henderson -- and local activists -- former Councilor Joe Williams and We the People Oklahoma leader Marq Lewis, among others -- and the grieving Crutcher family have responded to this situation. Prompt and determined pursuit of the 2012 Good Friday shooters earned the city some benefit of the doubt in the community. The willingness of all concerned to speak face to face, rather than talking past each other in the media, may be why Tulsa has been spared the destruction that has happened in other cities.

I am not impressed with local and national voices who are jumping to impose their narrative on the situation before all the facts are known and the process is complete.

For example, Sean Hannity had KRMG's Russell Mills on his radio show via phone on Wednesday. When Hannity tried to push a claim that he had "inside info" from TPD about Crutcher's warrants and criminal history, Mills responded with "just the facts" -- which wasn't as helpful to Hannity's narrative. Mills was being his usual professional self, sticking to substantiated facts. Hannity seemed very annoyed that the guy at the local affiliate wasn't backing his narrative, and he switched away from Russell very quickly to bloviate with a couple of his fellow bloviators. (I stopped listening to Hannity months ago, but on Wednesday I was in the middle of a long drive, scanning the dial for something to hold my attention.)

To my friends who are slamming the DA for filing charges so soon: Steve Kunzweiler is an experienced criminal prosecutor who ran the criminal division of the DA's office before winning the open seat in 2014. He was never involved politically until that election. I trust him to know what elements have to be present to constitute probable cause. If you have doubts, I urge you to click that case link above and read the probable cause affidavit, which appears to take Officer Shelby's claims at face value, and yet finds that the use of force was not reasonable under the circumstances she describes.

Boston Beer Garden matchbookFound while looking for something else: In the Tulsa Library's growing digital archive, a December 22, 1983, Tulsa Tribune, story about the the Boston Beer Garden, destroyed by fire in the wee hours of December 21, 1983. The fire took the life of the bar's janitor and night watchman, Lennis Norman, 30.

The Boston Beer Garden was part of a cluster of small shops centering around the Five Points intersection at Haskell Street (now John Hope Franklin Blvd.), Main Street, and Boulder Avenue, and extending east along Haskell to Boston, the retail focus of the southern end of Tulsa's Near Northside neighborhood. I wrote about the neighborhood and its demolition in a 2014 feature story for This Land, called "Steps to Nowhere."

The story centers on an interview with Pauline Andrews, who, with her husband Howard Andrews, opened a sandwich shop on the northwest corner of Haskell & Boston in 1936. The following year Howard's father, George Andrews, opened the Boston Beer Garden next door. During his 10 years of ownership, the Boston Beer Garden was known for a courtyard of umbrella-shaded tables. Based on fire insurance maps, it appears that there was a building on the street front with the courtyard to the rear.

During this period, Oklahoma was officially "dry," but beer with less than 3.2% alcohol by weight was considered "non-intoxicating" and available for sale.

Shortly after I published "Steps to Nowhere," I attended a centennial celebration for Emerson Elementary School and spoke to a lady who had attended the school in the 1940s. She recalls walking with schoolmates down the alley between Main and Boston, heading toward an ice cream shop on the south side of Haskell, and hearing from over the fence the Boston Beer Garden's resident parrot, which had picked up some salty language from the customers. (Somewhere I have my notes from that conversation and the lady's name.)

It would be nice to see a beer garden in Tulsa once again. Properly situated, these can be pleasant community gathering places.

In San Antonio, they're called ice houses. The ice house has its origin in selling blocks of ice and, by the way, having some ice cold beer and pop on hand for thirsty customers. It's typically a small building with a walk-up window in the middle of a shady yard. During some extended travel there six years ago, I enjoyed stopping by The Friendly Spot, on S. Alamo Street in the King William District south of downtown. Huge live oaks provided a canopy for old-fashioned metal lawn chairs and tables. A miniature drive-in type screen at one end of the yard was used for movies and sports on TV. At the other end was a fenced-in playground -- Mom and Dad could relax with a beer and some street tacos while watching their kids on the swings. On most of my strolls I didn't stop in, but I always enjoyed walking past the pleasant scene of neighbors mingling.

If the city manages to pry the Near Northside out of the University Center at Tulsa Authority's cold, dead fingers, perhaps the redevelopment plan could include a beer garden at the corner of John Hope Franklin Blvd. and Boston Ave.

RELATED: Here's a January 3, 1969, article from the Tulsa Tribune, listing all the private clubs that had been granted city licenses for that year, with their addresses. The list includes country clubs (like Southern Hills), fraternal organizations (like the Elks Lodge and the American Legion), professional clubs (like the Tulsa Press Club and the Petroleum Club), downtown clubs (like the Tulsa Club and the Summit Club), the Rubiot, the Red Garter (in the Camelot Hotel), the Cognito Inn (11th & Denver), and even the House of Blue Lights (1616 N. Sheridan). The article is a concise bit of history naming and placing some long-forgotten establishments. Private clubs could serve liquor by the drink (often referred to as "liquor-by-the-wink") but only to members; ordinary bars were BYOL.

MORE: Bill Leighty remembers the Boston Beer Garden in his reminiscences of his childhood in the neighborhood during the late '40s and early '50s:

The Boston Beer Garden was a popular haunt for neighborhood men and my Dad would occasionally go there with some of his friends or guys he worked with. I don't think my mom really felt comfortable there and she seldom ever went with them. It had a bit of a reputation as being a rowdy place in those days. I don't think fights among patrons were terribly uncommon in those days.

MORE: Here's the text of that 1983 Tribune story:

The City Council and the Mayor didn't need to put Vision Tulsa on a special April ballot. The Vision 2025 tax doesn't expire until December 31. They had plenty of time to perform due diligence, get solid estimates, consider consequences and hidden costs, but they wanted it on a low-turnout election date, and it was all about getting approval for the dams.

Now we're learning about some of those hidden costs and our dear sweet city councilors are expressing regrets. Jarrel Wade reports in the Tulsa World:

City officials gave city councilors details Thursday on millions of dollars the city eventually will need to support the hiring of additional police officers and firefighters with Vision Tulsa money.

Adding more than 160 police officers and 65 firefighters to the public-safety ranks will require direct support from other city departments, including information technology, human resources, asset management and medical.

IT Department costs alone for the technology involved in policing will run about $645,000 per year, city officials estimated.

All told, the estimated cost of supporting the additional staff eventually will reach almost $2 million per year that wasn't specifically added to Vision Tulsa's public safety permanent tax.

But it's OK, because we won't hire all those officers overnight, so it'll be a while before those support costs will be realized.

Paying for it out of the tax proceeds would mean less money to hire police officers and firefighters. But finding the money in the city's general fund would mean more burden on already restricted funding for other departments -- a burden that the public-safety tax was designed to alleviate.

But it's OK because the councilors are really, really sorry they rushed this to a ballot before analyzing the costs.

[Councilor Phil] Lakin and Councilor Anna America said they regret that the support costs of the public-safety tax weren't specifically built into the package.

"We should have thought through better, earlier, and said, 'Hey, let's make sure we accommodate this,' " America said, saying Thursday's report is a lesson for future packages.

"No funding package should go through without this kind of analysis happening first and making sure that we accommodate that in the funding package."

I believe I said something like that, very early in the process:

Not only is the proposed package far from a cohesive vision, but the Basis of Estimate (BoE) -- the details that justify the amount budgeted -- for each item is dreadfully inadequate. There's reason to believe that the estimates are way off, which means that some ideas that could be funded won't be, and other ideas will be promised (like the low-water dams in Vision 2025, or the juvenile justice facililty in Four to Fix the County) and attract votes, but won't have any possibility of being built without going back to the voters for more money....

The better path would be for the Council to whittle down the list and propose a shorter-term (five years, max), pay-as-you-go (no "advanced funding" line item for interest and bond fees) sales tax that funded only those items that were of general public benefit and had been thoroughly vetted for feasibility and an accurate estimate of cost.

Dear Councilors Lakin and America: Be grown-ups, take responsibility for your failure to do your job, and resign.

Dewey Bartlett JuniorYou can make enemies in politics, but the actions that make enemies had better also win the loyalty of new friends. Dewey Bartlett Jr managed to alienate every city councilor that ever worked with him and plenty of other people besides. It appears that Tulsans decided that, if you have a choice between two guys who like raising taxes, destroying parkland for development, and infringing on individual liberties, you may as well pick the nicer of the two.

Someone asked if Bartlett Jr's endorsement of Trump was part of the problem. This happened way before Trump.

Bartlett Jr alienated one city council where a majority were initially his supporters. He used local media to trash the council as "bickering" and used his influence over redistricting (his campaign consultant) to separate the councilors from the voters who knew them and in one case to draw a councilor completely out of his district. He got his shiny new council and proceeded to alienate every one of them. Plenty of people have been telling him why they won't support him, but listening isn't his strong suit.

As I wrote last fall, there were no significant policy differences between Bartlett Jr and Bynum IV. Despite efforts by conservative Republicans to reach out to him -- many backed him in the 2013 race -- he gave them nothing in return. Had he the ability to listen, had he some core of conservative principle, Bartlett Jr could have made some space between himself and potential rivals. He could have picked a fight over Vision Tulsa, insisting on leaving the dams off the ballot, or insisting that the dams stand alone, under threat of a veto. He could have rejected any Vision election scheduled for other than the fall election. He could have vetoed the addition of sexual orientation and gender identity to the city housing non-discrimination ordinance.

Bartlett Jr has never given conservatives a reason to get excited about his re-election, so the best he could do was scare conservatives about the alternative.

In 2009, Bartlett Jr won by tying Barack Obama around Democrat nominee Tom Adelson's neck and by smearing independent candidate Mark Perkins as anti-gun. In 2013, Bartlett Jr won the first non-partisan mayoral race by making it partisan, something easy to do against Kathy Taylor, a strongly partisan Democrat.

In 2016, the worst Bartlett Jr could do to Bynum IV was one step removed. Bynum IV won his seat on the City Council as a Republican. He worked for two Republican U. S. Senators. He served on Bartlett Jr's 2009 transition team. So Bartlett Jr attempted to tie Kathy Taylor around Bynum IV's neck. While there was reason to worry that Adelson or Taylor, as Democrat donors, would use the position of mayor as a platform to advance Democrat candidates, the same argument couldn't credibly be made against Bynum IV.

Nevertheless, the Tulsa County Republican Party Executive Committee took the unprecedented step of endorsing Bartlett Jr in a non-partisan race with three registered Republican voters as candidates. Looking back, it's apparent now that party officials must have had access to some private polling showing Bartlett Jr well behind. Now that they've come out to warn Republican voters about RINOs who have support from Democrats, will the Tulsa County GOP Executive Committee get involved in runoffs where recent converts to the GOP are running for the legislature with the backing of Democrats and labor unions?

On Facebook, county GOP Chairman Mike Ford was warning that the election could well be settled in the primary. The same Mr. Ford chided me for choosing to vote for someone other than his preferred leftist in the race, because it might let the other well-heeled leftist win. But if you'll do the math, had everyone who voted for the three minor candidates voted for Bartlett Jr, the 18-point-trampling would have been a mere 12-point shellacking. Tulsans were tired of Dewey.

The complaints about having what amounted to a general election on the primary date, when people aren't expecting to make a final choice, are worth considering, as is the effect on the prolonged I don't have time at the moment to check the law, but I am fairly certain that judicial races, which are also non-partisan and have a primary, will always have a general election with the top two candidates if more than two candidates file for a seat, even if one candidate secures a majority of the vote in the primary. It would be a simple matter to put the same language into the city charter. While we're at it, let's move city elections back to the fall of odd-numbered years, along with county and school elections, so we can give due attention to local issues, without the distraction of federal and state races.

(As long as Dewey Bartlett's lame-duck period will be, it doesn't hold a candle to that suffered by incoming Rogers County Treasurer Jason Carini's wait. After defeating incumbent Cathy Pinkerton Baker in the June 2014 primary, he didn't take office until the beginning of the following fiscal year, July 1, 2015.)

Rue de Pot du Chambre,

Sign in Chinon, France. Photo by Peter Curb. Used under Creative Commons license.

If you're a conservative, the Chamber of Commerce is not your friend. Not the U. S. Chamber of Commerce, not the Oklahoma State Chamber of Commerce, not the Tulsa Regional Chamber. If you're a conservative voting in the Republican primary, look to see whom the Chambers are supporting then give your vote some other candidate. If the Chambers are attacking a Republican candidate, she's probably worthy of your enthusiastic backing.

This may seem counter-intuitive. Conservative Republicans know that the free market is the engine of prosperity, and we honor and seek to encourage the entrepreneur who starts and builds a business, creating jobs and providing the products and services we need and want. We oppose taxes and regulations that burden businesses and discourage the creation of jobs. Since Chambers of Commerce claim to be the voice of business, shouldn't conservative Republicans heed their advice?

As with many organizations, the claim to speak for a valued segment of the community doesn't reflect the reality of the situation. Chambers of Commerce came into existence to boost business through business cooperation. But Chambers of Commerce are among the many once-noble American institutions that have been co-opted by self-serving special interests and Leftists who are pursuing social transformation and ever-bigger government. There are plenty of other examples: The American Association of Retired Persons, the National Education Association, the YWCA are just a few that come to mind.

It works like this: An organization offers some valuable service to attract members. The AARP offers discounts and insurance, the NEA's state affiliates offer legal coverage (and require membership in the NEA in order to belong to the state association), the YWCA offers access to swimming pools and exercise classes, the local Chamber offers group insurance coverage for small businesses that might not have enough employees to set up something on their own.

These benefits attract members who will be content as long as the services that induced them to join are provided and who aren't likely to get involved in the governance of the organization. These members get a ballot for board members in the mail, and, after a moment's glance, they toss the ballot in the recycle bin.

The broad-based but uninvolved membership gives the organization a credible claim to be the voice of retirees, of teachers, of women, or of business. The leadership, elected by the much smaller body of involved members, can then use that credibility to push an agenda of which the membership may be completely unaware and which they might reject, were they paying attention.

That agenda may reflect the economic benefit of the most influential members, companies that prefer to profit by means of rent-seeking rather than risk-taking. It may reflect the social agenda of the leftists who pursue careers in the not-for-profit sector. The direct approach to social transformation through elections has had mixed results, but the Left has found considerable success in pushing radical ideas by means of organizations with a history and reputation of being non-ideological, evading the defenses citizens put up against political influence.

The two types of influence can work hand in hand. The non-profit employees at Anycity Metro Chamber, as faithful yacht guests, are happy to push for expensive and useless infrastructure projects that benefit the big construction companies who control Anycity Metro Chamber. The big companies are happy to advance leftist social causes as long as they get their way on economic issues. Sometimes interests coincide: For example, Leftists like illegal immigration because it dilutes the votes of those who support the traditional American approach to society and economics; Big Business likes illegal immigration because it dilutes the cost of labor.

Enough theory. Let's get into some examples of how chambers of commerce from the local to the national level are actively working against the interests of conservatives:

On June 3, 2016, Jeff Dunn, chairman of the board of the Tulsa Regional Chamber, described conservative legislators pursuing legislation on issues like abortion and religious liberty as "nut jobs":

The chairman of the Tulsa Regional Chamber complained Friday that "nut jobs on the periphery" wield too much influence in the Oklahoma Legislature.

"We value our relationship with legislators," Chairman Jeff Dunn said during the chamber's annual recap of the legislative session. "(But) I would submit we need some counseling."

The "nut jobs," Dunn said, are preventing the rest of the lawmakers from being as productive as they might be.

Dunn, president and CEO of Mill Creek Lumber, was upset by what he called a "disappointing" legislative session, particularly in regard to education and long-term reform of the state's finances.

Earlier, in opening remarks, Dunn said legislators are too prone to "go off on tangents" instead of concentrating on state government's core missions.

"When we go off on tangents, we look like North Carolina," Dunn said. "And when we look like North Carolina, it's bad for business."

"North Carolina" is an allusion to the swift action taken by that state's legislature to protect the rights of citizens and business owners after the City of Charlotte passed a draconian ordinance that would have, among other effects, required gyms to allow men claiming to be women to use the same changing rooms as actual women. To Dunn, legislation that defends individual liberty and personal conscience, because it runs against the leftist norms enforced by the news media and the entertainment industry, makes a state look backwards and hurts its business prospects.

chamber_of_horrors-1940.jpgEvidently, the leadership and membership of the Tulsa Regional Chamber are just fine with Dunn's insulting and intemperate remarks. He's still listed as Chamber chairman. I find no reports of calls for his resignation or removal, no indication of mass resignations over his remarks. While most Chamber members are likely too busy running their own businesses to pay attention to Chamber politics, Chamber board members share Dunn's culpability if they decline to denounce or distance themselves from his remarks.

Longtime BatesLine readers will recall articles about Tulsa Regional Chamber involvement in wasteful, corporate-welfare-laden sales tax hikes and their attacks on City Councilors (especially conservatives) who sought to subject the Chamber to healthy competition for city contracts, who sought to put the interests of city residents ahead of suburban developers, who sought to ensure that federal community development funds actually went to help Tulsa's neediest neighborhoods. What's new is the Chamber's apparent hostility to conservative concerns about the use of government to impose leftist social views.

In an earlier entry, I mentioned the Tulsa Regional Chamber's diversity initiative, with its surveys that convey the message that sexual orientation and gender identity are inborn, immutable characteristics on par with race and ethnicity, despite all scientific evidence to the contrary. These surveys measure a company's commitment to diversity by whether they give domestic partner benefits, sponsor or participate in gay pride parades, and prioritize giving contracts to LGBT-owned businesses. Why would any conservative remain on the board of an organization that funds this kind of propaganda?

Earlier this year, OCPA President Jonathan Small summed up the Tulsa Regional Chamber as a left-wing echo chamber:

Remember the Tulsa Regional Chamber? Its leadership in 2014 participated in a failed attempt to support U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, who was trying to prevent Republicans from gaining the majority in the U.S. Senate. Imagine if some of the leadership of the Tulsa Regional Chamber had succeeded. Sen. Harry Reid would still be the Senate majority leader. Majority Leader Reid likely would be using the "nuclear option" to ramrod through an extremely left-of-center Supreme Court justice nomination to replace Justice Antonin Scalia.

Once again the Tulsa Regional Chamber is in lock-step with the Obama administration. Obama's administration tried to stifle a very popular school choice program in Louisiana and Washington, D.C. The Tulsa Regional Chamber lobbied against efforts to implement ESAs and is now an accomplice in the death of two bills that would have helped the most vulnerable in Oklahoma.

In fairness, the Tulsa Regional Chamber is consistent. The chamber parrots the funding requests of state agencies, proffers the Medicaid expansion as one of the best economic deals ever offered the state and tries to kill tax relief for all while working for special interest tax breaks. The chamber even tried to cripple the oil and gas industry with exorbitantly high taxes just before the downturn.

Some who have left the Tulsa Regional Chamber or refuse to join will tell you that's because it has become an echo chamber for policies that benefit the growth of big government, with more and more special interests of government involved in the chamber's processes.

Sadly, thousands of Oklahoma's most vulnerable children will lose in part because of the lack of intellectual diversity in the Tulsa Regional Chamber.

In another article, OCPA looked at the presence on the Tulsa and Oklahoma City chamber membership rolls -- and detected a pattern that could explain their support for higher taxes:

In recent years chambers of commerce in this state have done yeoman's work in fighting for important policies such as Right to Work, workers' compensation reform, and lawsuit reform. However, many of these same chambers also lobby strenuously for bigger government, including increased funding for medical welfare programs and for the state's bottomless-pit education monopoly. These chambers lobby against prudent fiscal measures, such as one (not exactly draconian) proposal which would limit the annual growth of state government spending to 9.5 percent. Why is this?

Part of the answer can be found by examining the chambers' membership rosters. In addition to scads of nonprofit organizations (which may or may not receive taxpayer money), one discovers more than a few blatant "'tax eater' entities," to borrow Stephen Moore's phrase.

gardyloo.pngAs for the State Chamber of Commerce, they joined with the Tulsa, Oklahoma City chambers and the U. S. Chamber in a lawsuit to block implementation of employment-related provisions of HB 1804, provisions that would have required Oklahoma employers to verify the employment eligibility of the people they hired. In other words, the Chambers at all levels worked to take the teeth out of the law, to disarm the provisions that made it an effective deterrent to illegal immigration.

The State Chamber also pushed hard for Obamacare Medicaid expansion (euphemistically called "rebalancing" this year) and Common Core. The State Chamber targeted a strongly pro-business conservative Republican, State Sen. Josh Brecheen, for defeat because he supported Common Core repeal and opposed a special tax cut for energy producers, preferring instead to give general tax relief to the state's taxpayers.

Back in 2007, economist Stephen Moore wrote:

In Oklahoma the state chamber filed a petition with the state Supreme Court to block eminent domain reform, and vowed to fight a taxpayer-led movement to enact a Colorado-style [taxpayer bill of rights].

This transcript of a July 2012 State Chamber meeting in Tahlequah quotes the chamber's lobbyist, Chad Warmington, saying, "the legislature spends a lot of time talking about things that just don't matter - I mean, they want to talk about tax cuts and all that stuff."

Also in 2012, then-State Rep. David Dank bemoaned the role "pro-business" lobbyists played in preserving special interest tax credits at the expense of tax relief for all Oklahomans (hat tip to OCPA's Brandon Dutcher):

Sadly, those same lobbyists who secured sweetheart deals for the beneficiaries of tax credits managed to kill most efforts to reform or repeal them during the 2012 session. We did manage to phase out two of the most abused and wasteful tax credits, but dozens of others are being reinstated in July.

In short, the special interests won and the people lost. A primary reason Oklahoma taxpayers will see no income tax relief next year is that a few favored industries will continue to cash in on the public treasury through a still-broken tax credit system.

My rule of thumb is to look for the Chamber label -- who has endorsements and money from Chamber-connected PACs and dark-money groups -- and to vote for someone else. Like many other institutions that started out with nobler purposes, Chambers of Commerce have become a partnership of Leftists who have co-opted the organizations in support of their agenda of bigger, more intrusive government and social transformation and businesses who use the Chambers to put the "pro-business, pro-growth" stamp on measures that transfer taxpayer dollars to their pockets.


The problem is not limited to Oklahoma. Chambers of Commerce in other states have lobbied against stricter immigration enforcement, for corporate welfare and eminent domain abuse, and against protections for citizens who believe that there are important distinctions to be drawn between a natural, normal marriage and a "same-sex marriage" and between a real woman and a "transwoman." Here's a sampling of news stories and conservative commentary documenting the hostility of Chambers of Commerce to conservative causes:

Luke Sherman for Tulsa County Sheriff has released surveillance video that they claim shows Aaron Brewer, campaign manager for recently elected Sheriff Vic Regalado, blocking the visibility of Sherman's yard signs by placing other signs before and behind them.

This is an old, petty tactic. It's hard to believe that a campaign manager would stoop to this instead of attending to more pressing responsibilities. If true, it would show a surprising degree of desperation.

The Sherman campaign is emphatic that the video shows Aaron Brewer:

Surveillance video obtained by the Luke Sherman for Sheriff campaign definitively shows Regalado Campaign Manager, Aaron Brewer, sabotaging Luke Sherman signs in Tulsa County. A Sherman volunteer installed the surveillance camera out of his frustration from seeing Sherman signs defaced across Tulsa County.

"We knew someone was sneaking around blocking and damaging our signs. I just didn't want to believe Regalado's campaign would stoop to that level," Luke Sherman says. "But the camera doesn't lie. That is unquestionably Aaron Brewer deliberately blocking my signs with signs from other Republican campaigns he's not even affiliated with. He brazenly used signs from Jim Bridenstine and other Republican candidates, throwing them under the bus, while trying to deceive voters into thinking the Regalado campaign had nothing to do with it."...

Sherman is happy to provide any supporting video and pictures of the surveillance which inextricably confirms Regalado's Campaign Manager, Aaron Brewer, is the person seen in the attached videos.

As of noon Monday, Brewer had not responded to a Facebook message sent at 1:17 a.m. requesting comment.

Tulsa County Assessor Ken Yazel has, in his personal capacity, endorsed Donald Newberry for Tulsa County Court Clerk and Josh Turley for Tulsa County Commissioner District 2.

The Court Clerk manages court records and processes marriage licenses. Sally Howe Smith, the longtime incumbent, is not seeking re-election. Yazel is recommending Donald Newberry to replace her:

Don is the most qualified candidate for Tulsa County Court Clerk. He has worked in the Tulsa Assessor's office for the past six years, serving Tulsa County citizens with loyalty and professionalism. During this time Don successfully completed his MBA then and a Masters in Indian Law at Tulsa University.

Don currently manages our Title Research Department and his professionalism has been nothing but exemplary. His ingenuity and business mind combined with his management skills and education is exactly what this County needs in an elected official. While I am sad to lose such a valuable employee, I applaud Don's desire to see local government continue to move towards a system of honesty, transparency and customer service.

The incumbent District 2 County Commissioner is Democrat Karen Keith, who was first elected in 2008 and was re-elected without opposition in 2012. Two candidates are competing for the Republican nomination and the opportunity to run against Keith in November. Yazel has endorsed Josh Turley:

Tulsa County is on the brink of change. As Tulsa County Assessor I am endorsing Josh Turley for Tulsa County Commissioner District 2.

We need real change at the county commissioner level. We need a leader who will stand up for what is right. A leader who will address the needs of our citizens. A leader that will open the Tulsa County budget and financials for all citizens to see. A leader who will answer your phone call. It is time for change, it is time for real leadership. It is time to back Josh Turley for Tulsa County Commissioner.

Turley is a 24-year veteran of the Tulsa County Sheriff's Office, serving as a crime scene investigator and then creating the first risk management program for TCSO, which succeeded in reducing car accidents involving deputies and tort claim payouts.

Yazel's mention of the budget is important, and it's why I'm inclined to trust Yazel's guidance in filling these positions. All eight elected county officials (three commissioners, assessor, clerk, court clerk, sheriff, treasurer) serve on the budget board. Yazel has been pushing for years to account for all sources of funding in the county budget process -- not just the revenues generated by the general fund property tax millage, but revenues generated by services, earmarked revenues, and carryover funds. Recognizing that there are different "colors" of money (legal restrictions on how various funds can be spent), if officials and the public have the whole revenue picture, the budget can be more efficiently allocated. If an office or taxing entity already has a significant amount of money from restricted funds and unrestricted carryover to fund its activities, it won't need as much from the general fund, leaving more money to fund projects and programs without asking taxpayers for higher sales taxes or property taxes.

On his website, Turley writes:

I am running for commissioner because I have seen the waste. I have experienced the failures of privatization of the jail. I have seen the dilapidated county buildings. I have watched our overflowing juvenile facility get worse. I have seen our outdated county vehicles. I have watched government fail to address our old levee. I have watched as year after year we struggle to open our pools. I believe we are not spending your money appropriately.

Turley also notes that, despite funding for the juvenile justice center in two separate sales tax packages, the county has yet to break ground on this much-needed facility.

On the strength of Ken Yazel's recommendation, I plan to join him in voting for Donald Newberry and Josh Turley in Tuesday's primary.


Conservative activist leader Ronda Vuillemont Smith plans to vote for Newberry but is undecided in the County Commission race:

I am undecided on this race and may just flip a coin to determine who to vote for. I believe either one will serve us well bringing new ideas and vision for Tulsa county. One the one hand, Turley has worked in county government and is familiar with procedure and protocol while having an understanding of the needs of Tulsa County. On the other hand I have known Grable for a number of years and have spent time listening to his thoughts and ideas and I believe he has a future in politics. His experience in having worked at the state capitol would be beneficial to the office of County Commissioner. Full disclosure: I have donated to Grable's campaign.

The City of Tulsa has collected a gallery of interactive maps of the city, depicting parks, creek watersheds, council districts, neighborhood associations, small area plans, and currently open permits.

On a sadder note, there are also maps of meth labs, sex offenders, crimes, and traffic accidents.

On Tuesday, June 28, 2016, Republican voters in Tulsa County will decide which of two candidates will be our next County Clerk. The incumbent is not running for re-election, and only two Republicans filed for the seat: Michael Willis and Nancy Rothman.

Online access to public records is a big deal to me. Part of what has enabled me to research and write about public matters for the last 13 years is the ready availability of information online. I have a job, and I have a family, and if I had to burn vacation hours to go to City Hall or the County Courthouse during normal office hours to do my research, it wouldn't happen very often.

When I researched my story on Tulsa's lost Near Northside neighborhood, the land ownership angle was important enough that I took time off work and went to the courthouse during normal business hours, passing through the metal detectors and having my wallet x-rayed, so that I could sit at one of the public access terminals in the county clerk's office. Plat maps were available only as pages in a book -- a shame since they contain fascinating historical information like the locations of streetcar tracks and streets that were later wiped out by urban renewal and expressway construction.

It doesn't have to be that way. When, out of curiosity, I wanted to find the address of a Florida house my in-laws owned as an investment for a few years in the 1970s, it took about 15 minutes of online research before I had a digital image of the deed on my computer screen.

For 32 years, the Tulsa County Clerk's office has been ruled by a single dynasty: Joan Hastings served from 1985-2001. Her deputy, Earlene Wilson, served as county clerk from 2001-2013, and Wilson's deputy, Pat Key, was elected in 2012, but Key has opted not to run for re-election. Her deputy, Nancy Rothman, is running for the office.

While county clerks across the country have made land records and documents readily available online, the Tulsa County Clerk's office, under the Hastings-Wilson-Key-Rothman dynasty, has resisted the online public records revolution.

There have been a few minor improvements recently. You still have to pay for online access to county clerk land records, but as of last September you no longer have to get the permission of the County Commission to set up an account. The mainframe-based LRMIS system for assessor and treasurer records is now available for free, but Assessor Ken Yazel has long provided an easy-to-use website to access the same information.

Not only have Rothman and her dynastic predecessors failed to serve the public's access to public records, Nancy Rothman's record of disastrous self-management makes it clear that she has no business managing public funds or public assets of any sort.


We need a change. We need a county clerk with the right vision -- facilitating public access to public records -- and the skill set to make it happen. That's why I'm supporting Michael Willis. Willis has 10 years experience working in government and a master's degree in public administration. He has served as an aide to Mayor Bill LaFortune and most recently as a chief deputy to the County Commission. He has overseen significant improvements to the Tulsa County website, streamlining access to public information. Willis supports the expansion of free online access to public documents, including land records.

Just as important, Willis is a devoted husband and father, a decent, principled human being without a whiff of scandal in his life.

The same cannot be said about Nancy Rothman, who lost custody of her two sons and had to pay her ex-husband's attorney's fees because of behavior that the Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals called "reprehensible" in accusing her ex-husband of molesting one of his sons, seeking to alienate their sons from their father, and plotting to plant child pornography in her ex-husband's apartment. At the same time, she appears to have squandered a generous divorce settlement, remortgaging her sprawling midtown mansion for ever greater amounts until she declared bankruptcy in 2006. To my knowledge, Rothman has never expressed remorse for her actions. More ought to be said about this woman who, despite her nefarious behavior, continues to be appointed to positions of public trust by people who should have better judgment, and I intend to say more in a separate entry.

Even if his opponent were a decent, upstanding citizen, Michael Willis's experience, knowledge, and character would still make Willis the best choice for Tulsa County Clerk, and I urge you to join me in voting for Willis on Tuesday, June 28, 2016.

Back last November and again in April during filing for candidates for city offices, I begged for a principled conservative to throw his hat in the ring for Mayor of Tulsa, so we wouldn't be left with a Hobson's choice between Tweedledee Jr and Tweedledum IV, both of whom have embraced a failed understanding of what makes for a livable, lovable city. After two days of filing, the only alternatives were two perennial candidates with problems of their own.

Tom_McCay-Tulsa.pngOn the final day of filing, Tom McCay answered the call, and he has my support and my vote to become Mayor of Tulsa.

McCay's reason for getting into the race: "I kept waiting for someone in office to represent me, my family and my neighbors. When I realized that wasn't going to happen, I became that someone." He notes, "There is no real difference between GT Bynum & Dewey Bartlett, who have virtually identical platforms."

Tom McCay and his wife, Lisa, have been married for 30 years, and they have five children -- two daughters who are working as professionals, a son in college at OSU, and two more daughters still at home. McCay is a designer and creator of jewelry. Many years ago he founded and directed Tulsa's first improvisational comedy group, the Obnoxious Party Guests. The McCays are active members of Christ the King Parish (Catholic). The McCays live near 31st and Mingo, and if Tom is elected, he would be the first mayor of Tulsa in 28 years who doesn't live in the Midtown Money Belt.

McCay's vision of city government is one that focuses on its core mission, while reducing the obstacles to the formation and growth of small business. One of his ideas is to lengthen the terms of the city licenses and permits so that small businesses don't have to deal with the direct and indirect costs of licenses and permits as often. The overall fiscal impact to the city is small, but it can make a big difference to an individual business.

It's fair to say that McCay, like most Tulsans, isn't intimately familiar with the nuts and bolts of city government. That's OK. Since the switch to a mayor-council form of government in 1990, every mayor has handed off the day-to-day responsibilities for city government functions to a city manager under various titles -- Chief Administrative Officer, Chief Operating Officer, to name a couple. (Before 1990, the functions of city government fell to the separately elected commissioners for water and sewer, streets and public property, police and fire, and finance.)

The important thing is to have a mayor with the right vision and guiding principles. The leading candidates are both under the misapprehension that a city's growth and prosperity depends on an activist government commissioning the right big projects and offering the right incentives to lure big companies to town. Tom McCay is a conservative who believes in American exceptionalism and free-market capitalism. He understands that government's role in fostering prosperity consists in performing its basic functions and getting out of the way of individual creativity.

Tom McCay wisely opposed the ill-considered Vision Tulsa tax increase, while the two Money Belt candidates both supported it.

Tweedledee IV and Tweedledum Jr are both enthusiastic supporters of using city government force to impose acceptance of the philosophy and mores of the Sexual Revolution, following the oppressive examples of Charlotte and Houston. McCay would allow Tulsans the freedom to exercise their own judgment in deciding whether to make a distinction between actual women and men who claim to be women, between natural marriages grounded in the biological facts of life and same-sex pseudogamy that seeks the honor due to marriage, the freedom to decide how to handle these challenging issues in the context of their families, churches, schools, civic organizations, and businesses.

I am grateful to Tom McCay and his family for leaving their comfort zone and running for office, because it means we have the opportunity on June 28 to cast our vote, not for the lesser of two evils, but for an honorable Christian gentleman who shares our values and our philosophy of government.

On Friday, March 20, 2016, 1170 KFAQ hosted a debate between the two most prominent of the five candidates for Tulsa mayor: Incumbent Mayor Dewey F. Bartlett, Jr., and City Councilor G. T. Bynum, IV. KFAQ morning host Pat Campbell moderated the hour-long, uninterrupted debate.

If you'd prefer to listen, here's a link to audio of the KFAQ 2016 mayoral debate.

If you'd prefer to read, here's a partial transcript of the KFAQ 2016 mayoral debate, with more to come.

I've only had time to read the transcript. It has not budged my earlier conclusion: Feh. Bartlett makes the bizarre claim that putting the city's checkbook online (a open-records practice to encourage financial accountability, common across the nation) would expose the city to hackers. Bynum bemoans the lack of leadership from Bartlett, but he seems to have passed up the opportunity to rally his fellow councilors to pass many of the measures he says he would champion as mayor (implementing the KPMG recommendations, for example) in favor of raising taxes to build dams in the river and using government force to impose his leftist views of sexuality on Tulsa citizens.

I've been hearing good things about Tom McCay, a first-time candidate, a libertarian in political philosophy with a background in improvisational comedy. He's likely to have my vote in the primary.

BUMPED and UPDATED 2016/04/13: As of the end of the second day of filing, no conservatives have filed to run for Mayor of Tulsa. Previously announced candidates Mayor Dewey Bartlett Jr and Councilor G. T. Bynum IV have been joined by perennial candidates Paul Tay and Lawrence Kirkpatrick. Filing closes at 5 p.m. today, Wednesday, April 13, 2016. Originally published 2016/04/11.

Monday began the three-day filing period for the City of Tulsa 2016 elections. All nine councilors, the mayor, and the auditor are up for election this year. Anyone who wishes to compete must file a notarized declaration of candidacy along with a $50 certified check with the Tulsa County Election Board by 5 p.m., Wednesday, April 13, 2016.

The three-day filing period for county, state, and federal offices begins at 8 a.m. on Wednesday, April 13, 2016, and ends at 5 p.m., Friday, April 15, 2016. County candidates file at their respective county election boards; state and federal candidates file at the Oklahoma State Election Board in the basement of the State Capitol.

At the moment, I know of only two candidates for mayor -- Tweedledee Jr. and Tweedledum IV -- and only one candidate who is planning to challenge an incumbent councilor -- Jim Rice has announced his intention to challenge David Patrick in District 3 (eastern north Tulsa).

As I wrote about the mayoral candidates last November:

Tulsa needs better choices. (I won't say "deserves better"; as Mencken wrote, "Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.")

If these are our choices, I'll be sitting this election out, as I did in 2013. Neither candidate is a conservative. G. T. Bynum has been a leading proponent of leftist social policies at City Hall; Bartlett has offered no resistance to those policies. Both men are besotted with the expensively foolish idea that "water in the river" is the key to Tulsa's future prosperity. Bartlett endorsed the explicit corporate welfare of Vision2 Proposition 1; both endorsed Proposition 2, which was a bad financial deal for the City of Tulsa.

Neither have been advocates for sound urban design and land-use policy. Bartlett has promoted the idea of converting 12 acres of park land on the river to a massive parking lot surrounding a big-box store; when the Council voted on the Comprehensive Plan changes to enable the development, Bynum recused himself. Both are residents of Tulsa's Money Belt, the tiny ultra-wealthy section of town with an insular mindset that has been home to almost every mayor of Tulsa.

Add to that assessment some more recent information: The mayor and the entire council colluded in last week's logrolled Vision ballot, which may have satisfied the letter of Oklahoma's constitutional single-subject rule, but it surely violated the spirit of the provision that was designed to keep us from having to vote for something we don't want to get something we want. If you want a chance at keeping the pork out of future tax packages, you need councilors who share your perspective.

National news calls our attention to another big issue on the horizon. Our current mayor and council have already taken incremental steps toward the sort of "sexual orientation and gender identity" (SOGI) ordinance that Houston's council approved (and the voters overturned) and that Charlotte's council passed (and the state legislature voided).

In 2010, G. T. Bynum led the effort to add those classifications to the city's employer non-discrimination policy, which passed 6-3. Early in 2015, the Tulsa City Council voted 8-0 (Councilor Dodson was absent) to add sexual orientation and gender identity to the city's housing non-discrimination ordinance. Bartlett signed both ordinances without hesitation. I expect that the next incremental step will be the sort of broad-based SOGI ordinance as Houston and Charlotte, a law that authorizes the city to fine a florist for refusing to work a same-sex "wedding" or to shut down a gym for refusing to allow men who claim to be women access to the girls' locker room. Right now there are no City of Tulsa elected officials who would be willing to stand up against such an ordinance.

rino-768px.pngIf you are a fiscally conservative Tulsan, if you believe that tax dollars should be spent on necessities, not on fanciful projects with dubious claims to economic development, if you believe officials should have investigated spiraling costs before asking for a permanent tax increase, if you have a problem with handing a non-City organization a big stack of money without accountability, you have no representation at City Hall.

If you are a socially conservative Tulsan, if you believe that Tulsans should have the freedom to decide to what extent a person's sexual behavior and self-presentation should be a factor, if you believe that Tulsa businesses and organizations should have the freedom to decide how to accommodate the restroom needs of their clients, without Big Brother Government threatening them with fines and other penalties, you have no representation at City Hall. Indeed, the current mayor and councilors regard us with contempt and dismiss our views as superstitious, old-fashioned, and hateful, even though our views were the commonplace, common-sense views across nearly every religion, nearly every civilization for millennia, and only very recently displaced (with the help of leftists who run our education and entertainment industries) by the fanatical dogmas of the Sexual Revolution.

Conservative Tulsans should insist upon conservatives representing them in city government.

Someone will object that potholes aren't Republican or Democrat, but I'm talking about political philosophy, not party affiliation. Conservative concepts work because they're aligned with the realities of human nature. Leftist notions fail because they try to wish away those realities. A city governed in accordance with conservative principles will grow and prosper. What happens when you govern a city in accordance with leftist ideals? See Detroit.

I am praying that solidly conservative candidates will step forward to run for city office. I hope you'll join with me in prayer, that you'll be open to the possibility of running, and that you'll think through your list of friends and consider whom you might encourage to run.

Time to clean house.

Save Helmerich Park posted the following comment from R. Dobie Langenkamp, former Director of the National Energy Law and Policy Institute and Chapman Distinguished Professor of Energy Law at the University of Tulsa Law School, about the business flaws of the Tulsa Public Facilities Authority effort (with Mayor Dewey Bartlett Jr's enthusiastic approval) to sell 9 acres of Helmerich Park for a commercial development, reciting some of the history of the property and analyzing the price against the market value of land near major intersections. Even if you don't have a problem with selling off riverfront parkland, you ought to have a problem with the city selling a valuable piece of property at a major intersection without competitive bidding.

Dear Friends of Helmerich Park.

Craig Immel, Terry Young, Herb Beattie, and Greg Bledsoe have spelled out the legal and policy flaws regarding the Helmerich Park decision. Let's look at the deal from a business standpoint. Do so and you will agree with me that it is absurd if not suspect.

The entire 60-plus acres was mortgaged over 30 years ago to the First National Bank for $12.5 million. Surely its appraisal at that time substantially exceeded that amount. The Bank foreclosed on it and Walt Helmerich arranged for the purchase for the City from the bank (he was a member of the board) for $4.5 million. He raised $2.5 million from public spirited friends (Who attended a breakfast at the Tulsa Club for $800 each) and Roger Randle as Mayor came up with the remaining $2.5 million announcing that the land would be used for a park to be exceeded in size only by Mohawk.

The developer - possibly using REI as a bait and switch - has proposed to buy the key nine (9) acres - the "cream" as it were - for $895,000 ($1.465 million less a $570,000 credit to the developer in return for on-site infrastructure improvements). This amounts to less than $2.50 per square foot. Ask any of your realty friends what a corner on two major thoroughfares is worth these days. The numbers I get are from $10 and up. The entire 60-acre parcel was worth about $5.00 a foot when the First National Bank took the $12.5 million mortgage on it 30 years ago. This corner lot should be appraised before further action. such an appraisal would indicate a value of 5 million or more (400,000 sq ft x $10).

This option to the developer was given for virtually nothing ($5,000, refundable consideration) and has just been extended until August for exercise without additional consideration.

Initially, Tulsa was told the parcel sought would be for REI alone - after Clay Bird has finished his no competition sweetheart deal - it was for a full 9 acres for an entire shopping center not specifically requiring the involvement of REI.

Why are Dewey and Clay Bird giving this park parcel away without an appraisal or a public bidding procedure?

Why is Dewey hell bent on seeing that this particular Dallas developer gets this park property for a song?

Grand Juries have been impaneled for less.

R. Dobie Langenkamp

Save Helmerich Park adds this note: "The former Luby's parcel diagonally across the intersection from this corner of Helmerich Park - 2.48 acres/108,217 square feet - has a 2016 value of $3.695 million. If my math is correct, that is over $34.00 per square foot."

Remember, Mayor Bartlett Jr supports this deal, and not one member of the City Council opposed changing the comprehensive plan to facilitate the deal. (G. T. Bynum IV recused himself.) If this bugs you, as it should, you have until 5 p.m. Wednesday to file to run against these mis-representatives.

Most of the projects in Vision Tulsa Prop 3 amount to "Here, have a pile of money." Instead of building a specific facility that will belong to the City of Tulsa or updating existing city-owned facilities, the City will write a check to some other institution to do with as they see fit. It makes accountability a challenge to say the least.

Since the first Third Penny tax was approved in 1980, there has been a City of Tulsa Sales Tax Overview Committee (STOC) to oversee spending of the current Third Penny program. STOC has members from each of the nine council districts and meets monthly determine that the money is only being spent on authorized projects, which are itemized in an ordinance.

For example, here's a project from that 1980 Third Penny, specified in Title 43-A, Tulsa Revised Ordinances:

4-Lane 31st from Memorial to Mingo, with modification of the Intersection of 31st and Memorial: $8,255,000.00

Compare that to this line from Title 43-K, which sets out the spending policy for the newly passed Vision Tulsa tax hike:

Tulsa Fairgrounds: $30,000,000.00

How do you ensure that money is spent as intended when so little intent is indicated?

The good news: There are members of the STOC who want to be sure that our tax dollars are spent in accordance with promises made before the election.

More good news: STOC members have concerns about certain (as yet unnamed) projects.

The bad news: STOC members have no control over the contracting process. Their suggestions of contract terms to require reporting and transparency before receiving funds are just that -- suggestions.

(Also, the STOC doesn't even have oversight on the permanent taxes approved by Props 1 and 2.)

Some more bad news: Rather than raising these concerns in a timely manner, when the information might have influenced voters to reject the package and demand specific terms and conditions be written into the ordinance, they waited until the voters had no leverage to influence how the contracts will be written.

Here is the email that Ashley Webb, chairman of the STOC, sent on Wednesday, April 6, 2016, the day after the Vision Tulsa sales tax election, discussing concerns about oversight and accountability with these projects. (Emphasis added. )

Hello All:

Congratulations on the successful passage of the three Vision extension proposals. Now that the issue is finally ripe, I wanted to reach out and update the Council on the STOC's efforts to date and our concerns going forward regarding, specifically, oversight of the proposals in the Economic Development portion of the package (which are the only ones that will fall under the oversight purview of the STOC).

First, STOC members Karen O'Brien and Brad Colvard met with Mike Kier, Gary Hamer, and myself on February 11, 2016, to address preliminary issues relative to the Economic Development projects. Primarily, the STOC and Mr. Kier addressed/discussed one principal issue at that meeting: mandatory reporting requirements (and contractual language requiring the same) for all non-City of Tulsa controlled entities receiving funds under the Vision 2025 Economic Development package.

To that end, we discussed the insertion of contractual language into the contracts with those entities requiring at least quarterly in-person reporting to the main STOC monthly meetings and monthly written reports to our STOC VISION subcommittee. Additionally, we discussed the necessity of tying those reporting requirements to those entities' ability to receive disbursements; otherwise, there would be no mechanism through which their compliance could be enforced. By far, this is the most important issue that we believe must be addressed up front before these projects move forward.

Secondly, we discussed the logistics of the STOC's oversight and how we might incorporate these new projects into our existing oversight structure, etc. From that, we created an additional STOC VISION subcommittee, our first meeting of which was held last Tuesday on March 29, 2016. Our next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday April 19. 2016 at 4:00 p.m. at the First Baptist Café at 4th and Cincinatti (nice chairs, complementary beverages - thank you to FBT!). I have copied on this communication those STOC members who were in attendance at that meeting last week.

Finally, I know that Mr. Kier and others had an informal meeting last Tuesday evening to discuss, I'm sure, a multitude of issues that might need to be addressed should the VISION proposals pass. Now that we know those proposals have been approved, though, the STOC would like to ensure that the necessary language requiring the mandatory reporting be included in all relevant contracts, and we (the STOC) are willing to provide a liaison for any such meetings in the future to guarantee the oversight requirements needed will not be overlooked. As currently constructed, the STOC has several licensed attorneys and experienced professionals that are willing to be available so that we have boots on the ground, so to speak, making sure the issue is addressed. Obviously, through our STOC VISION subcommittee, the STOC will continue to streamline our approach so that we can accommodate the oversight of this panoply of projects that will soon be coming down the pike.

As I know we still have some time to line all of these issues out, I will not at this time provide a list of the Economic Development projects that we are most concerned about; however, I would expect we will address those issues with the Council following our April 19th subcommittee meeting. In the meantime, if we can be of service to those identifying and addressing, in particular, issues relative to the oversight of these projects, please do not hesitate to let us know. As stated, we will gladly provide an STOC representative to be present at any such meetings, be them formal or not.

Thank you all for your continued investment in Tulsa's future.


Ashley Webb

I've observed this over and over again for years, but it's still disheartening to see how easily many Tulsans yield what little political leverage they possess in exchange for empty promises of future influence. They have been brainwashed to think that if they play nice and don't say anything that makes the powers-that-be look bad, at some point in the future the powers-that-be may actually take their concerns seriously. This passivity is especially distressing when the passive Tulsans hold positions that grant them more than the typical share of visibility and political power.

(I heard the same passivity even among voters, many of whom told me that they didn't want to build the dams, but they felt they had to vote yes in order to get their favorite thing funded. They seemed mystified at the thought that they could say no and thus force the Council to rework the package, excluding the dams.)

To the STOCers: I wish you well in your quest for transparency and oversight. It's really rather sweet that you think city officials will care about your opinion, now that they have what they want. Your mistake here is to believe that it matters how the money transferred to non-City entities is spent. That money, typically not enough to do anything useful, has already served its purpose, which was to purchase the support of certain constituencies for the low-water dams. Now that the dams have been funded, the non-City entities could hold a bonfire to burn all their Vision Tulsa cash and the Mayor and City Council would not care.

UPDATE: STOC member Steven Roemerman points out that he raised these concerns via Twitter back in January:

It isn't clear to me how the #Tulsa STOC is supposed to effectively oversee money given to Tulsa County in the new #vision tax #visiontulsa 11:07 AM - 27 Jan 2016

What mechanism will we have to force the County to be transparent? Asking nicely? Harsh language? Wishful thinking? #visiontulsa #vision
11:09 AM - 27 Jan 2016

Will they promise to send representatives to STOC sub committee meetings? How will #Tulsa handle County cost overages and deadline slippage?
11:11 AM - 27 Jan 2016

Originally posted on April 3, 2016. Bumped to the top for those who may have missed it during the election.

We've been hearing lately that we need dams in our river to attract creative young people to Tulsa. Yeah, no, it doesn't make sense to me either, but given that we do want to attract creative young people to our city, we should pay close attention when a creative young man from New York City says he loves Tulsa and tells us what he loves about it.

In February, LAist ran a feature story about a 35-year-old New York City man who checked out a "Citibike" (bike share) last August and rode it all the way to Santa Monica Pier, arriving in mid-January, turning his Citibike into a Countribike.

Along the way, Jeffrey Tanenhaus passed through Tulsa, and he liked what he saw:

Again and again, Tanenhaus found himself drawn to smaller cities, finding that though they lack the sort of cosmopolitan reputation of his hometown, they have vibrant local cultures he liked as much, if not more, than his home. Where Angelenos and New Yorkers may look towards the middle with pity, Tanenhaus thinks the coasts could stand to learn something from the American interior. Some of his favorite places were Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Flagstaff and Redlands. His absolute favorite was Tulsa, Oklahoma.

"It was kind of surprising. There is no ocean and there are no mountains," he said of Tulsa. "It's big enough to be a city, but small enough to feel like a community, and cool enough to attract a progressive crowd of young professionals."

Tanenhaus liked it so well he may come back to stay:

As for what's next, Tanenhaus plans on returning the bicycle to Citi Bike dock in New York City, through the shipping help of Santa Monica Breeze Bike Share. After a quick trip to San Francisco, he will return to New York for a some time while exploring the possibility of a more permanent move to Tulsa.

You can read through Tanenhaus's entire journey at his Countribike site and blog, and you can peruse a Google map of his favorite places along the path.

His introduction to the Tulsa metro area began with a flat tire in Claremore, which lead him to a service station and a chance meeting with someone from 6:19 Nutrition, who invited him to drop by the nutrition store and smoothie cafe. There Tanenhaus was treated to a shake, good conversation, and a body fat analysis while he awaited a lift from a Tulsa cyclist. The staff sent him on his way with a couple of tubs of supplement powder. His host for the evening, the founder of Oklahoma Cycling, got Tanenhaus and the Citibike down to Lee's Bicycle Shop, and they found a hardware store with the right Torx bits to work on the "tamper-proof" bike-share cycle.

As for his impressions of Tulsa:

What surprises me most about Oklahoma's second largest city of 400,000 is that Tulsans are so easy to befriend. There is something special here and it's hard to describe. More than any place I've been before or after, I feel the best chemistry with Tulsa. This magnetic attraction begins at a cafe in Claremore 30 miles northeast.

Everywhere I go I meet someone new and cool. People here are helpful, kind and open to meeting strangers. After one week in Tulsa--broken by a brief stint in a nearby hospital--despite my shallow history here I depart with more contacts in Oklahoma than in NYC.

I'm writing this while sitting on the quad of Pomona College in Claremont, CA. I find that Tulsa has a campus familiarity where there's a decent chance you'll bump into recognizable faces at coffee shops, bars and cultural events, yet the size of the city dilutes these interactions as not to be too often, but just frequent enough to feel like you own the city.

The best thing about New York, in my opinion, is that anyone can become a New Yorker. In Tulsa I feel I can make the city mine, but also that people actually care who I am....

Off-the-radar and an underdog, T-Town is incredibly appealing. Cool people are treated as overstock in Austin, Brooklyn, Portland and San Francisco. But Tulsa? Come on in! There's vacancy.

You'll want to click this link to read about all the creative, young Tulsans Tanenhaus happened to meet in just one day.
Entrepreneurship is like a contagion here -- one person taking a risk to start a business inspires a friend to think that she, too, can build something new -- and it filled Tanenhaus with a new hope:

I've already done the improbable--bike commute across the country (update: 55 miles from the Pacific Ocean). Maybe Tulsa will give me the hospitable new beginning I was searching for when I left New York where jobs didn't lead to anything except stress and disappointment.

Tanenhaus had a great time connecting with Tulsa's cycling community, visiting the cycling-themed Soundpony Lounge next to Cain's Ballroom and getting to know the great work done by Tulsa Hub, a non-profit that rehabilitates used bikes into basic transportation for people who need a cheap way to get to work.

A run-in with road rage west of Sapulpa led to a trip to the ER and a little more time in the Tulsa area than he had planned, but it only seems to have deepened his appreciation for the city.

After an unprovoked assault on a rural road in Sapulpa, Oklahoma, I need four stitches in my lip and return to Tulsa by vehicle. I stay put the next day to rest and catch up on thanking Okies for their support. It's unfortunate this happened in my favorite state to date, but leaves me liking Oklahoma even more than before.

In his extra time in Tulsa, he had a root beer freeze and onion rings at Weber's and spent an evening at Oktoberfest. The map of his route shows favorite spots around Tulsa: Fassler Hall ("Excellent sausages and duck fat fries. Good beers on tap, too!"), Chimera Cafe ("Nice lunch and chai with plenty of bright space."), Tally's Cafe ("Greasy spoon on Route 66 where I take my cyclist host as a thank you"), R Bar & Grill ("Where I meet Samuel from Instagram for a drink (paid for by a patron who saw me on the news)"), Tom's Bicycles ("Tuned up my bike for free while Channel 8 news interviewed me. Thanks Eric, Chance and Ginny! xox") In Vinita, he'd already fallen in love with Braum's Ice Cream.

So what made Tulsa attractive to a cross-country cyclist thinking about a new start in life? Friendly, welcoming people with an entrepreneurial spirit, great small businesses, both old (like Lee's and Weber's) and new (like Soundpony and Bohemia Pizza). Maybe we'd attract more people like Jeffrey Tanenhaus if we'd stop bemoaning sandbars and start celebrating the great people who are already here and the one-of-a-kind places they're creating.


Here are my recommended votes in the Tulsa County special election on April 5, 2016, for the unexpired term for Tulsa County Sheriff and county and municipal sales tax propositions. Links lead to more detailed information or earlier blog entries. (This entry may change as I decide to add more detail or discuss additional races. The entry is post-dated to keep it at the top.)

Printable one-page "cheat sheet" ballot card
Printable timeline of current and proposed changes to Tulsa city and county sales taxes

Print them, take it along to the polls, and pass it along to your friends, but please read the detail and click the links below.

Here's a synopsis of all the items on the ballot around Tulsa County today.

Podcasts from the Pat Campbell Show on 1170 KFAQ:

And now here are my recommendations and rationale for each ballot item.

Tulsa County Sheriff, unexpired term: Republican Vic Regalado.

Sales tax propositions: General advice

  • The sales taxes on the ballot are intended to replace the Vision 2025 0.6 cent sales tax which doesn't expire until December 31, 2016.
  • If there's something in a package that you think is foolish or wasteful, if the rate is too high or the duration of the tax is too long for your liking (or permanent) vote NO, and then tell your elected officials why.
  • Commissioners, councilors, and mayors will have plenty of time to propose better packages and bring them to a vote on the June primary, August runoff, or November general election ballots.

Tulsa County sales tax: NO.

  • This is a 0.05%, 15-year sales tax.
  • While most of the projects on Tulsa County's tentative list seem modest and reasonable, the list is not set in stone, and the tax is for 15 years with plans to borrow against future revenues.
  • A tax no more than 5 years in duration, with a fixed set of basic infrastructure projects, and no advance revenue bond funding, would be worth considering, but this plan does not meet those criteria.

City of Tulsa, Prop. 1: NO.

  • This is a permanent increase in the city's sales tax rate, earmarked to fund police, fire, and 911. The rate starts 0.16% and after July 1, 2021, permanently increases to 0.26%.
  • This tax doesn't address the causes of runaway increases in police and fire department spending. The police and fire budget consumes all of the permanent 2% sales tax for operations, plus a little. (107% in Fiscal Year 2014).
  • According to a 2014 report, "City of Tulsa Fiscal Constraints", "Since 1980, Police and Fire operating budgets have increased by 470%. Higher operating budgets have not translated into additional 'boots on the ground,' however. The number of Police and Fire personnel has only increased by 4% over that 34-year span."
  • The police and fire budget, adjusted for inflation has doubled since 1980. We need an investigation and explanation for this dramatic increase in cost without a corresponding increase in service.
  • Shrugging our shoulders and throwing more money at the problem only means a future sales tax increase a few years down the road.
  • A temporary tax to tide us over while we figure out the causes of our fiscal hemorrhage might be acceptable, but not a permanent increase is not.

City of Tulsa, Prop. 2: NO.

  • This is a permanent increase in the city's sales tax rate by 0.085 cents on the dollar, earmarked to fund street maintenance and public transit.
  • While many projects have been informally promised for this permanent tax, for some reason, none of them were written into the Brown Ordinance that controls spending for the tax.
  • Nor does the ordinance dictate how the money will be split between street maintenance, public transit operations, and public transit rolling stock and infrastructure.
  • In the age of Uber and Lyft, it seems backwards-thinking to commit a permanent tax to an old-fashioned bus system with fixed routes, long waits, limited hours of operation, one-size-fits-all vehicles, and unionized public employees as drivers. A flexible, data-driven, private-sector approach could meet the public transit needs of Tulsa citizens with lower cost and greater comfort and convenience.
  • A temporary tax, targeted to specific spending plans, and a plan to research innovative new approaches to transit would be worth voting for; this vaguely defined permanent tax is not.

City of Tulsa, Prop. 3: NO. This is the dam tax package.

Beyond the dams, this package has numerous other wasteful and often ill-defined projects.

Suburban sales tax propositions: NO.

  • Because these taxes are a minimum of 15-years duration, in some cases permanent, I recommend that voters say NO and ask their leaders for a maximum five-year, pay-as-you-go package with a very specific list of projects.
  • Jenks voters should reject their sales tax because it includes funds for a low-water dam.
  • Glenpool voters should be aware that passing all three propositions will increase their already-high tax rate by another 0.55 cents on the dollar. This growing suburb has plenty of new retail, and you'd think Glenpool should be able to fund increased public services from growing revenues without a tax increase.
  • Sapulpa voters may not wish to fund city land acquisition and removal of historic Route 66 motels in the Turner Turnpike gateway area.
  • Owasso and Collinsville voters should look closely at their lists of proposed projects and consider whether their growing cities could fund improvements without a higher city sales tax rate.

As I wrote back in January, before the City of Tulsa proposal was set in stone:

If I were a cynic, I might believe that the City Council had no interest in whether these projects were feasible or appropriately budgeted. I might believe, were I a cynic, that these items were included just to get a few more hundred voters to the polls in the mood to vote yes on everything.

The better path would be for the Council to whittle down the list and propose a shorter-term (five years, max), pay-as-you-go (no "advanced funding" line item for interest and bond fees) sales tax that funded only those items that were of general public benefit and had been thoroughly vetted for feasibility and an accurate estimate of cost.

The City Council and Mayor Bartlett didn't follow that better path, so we need to tell them NO and tell them to put together a better package for our consideration.


Published at 23:45 on Monday, April 4, 2016. Postdated to remain at the top of the blog until the polls close.

Tomorrow, April 5, 2016, voters across Tulsa County have a special election for sheriff and will also vote on the county's sales tax proposal (1/20th of a cent for 15 years) for capital projects. Here's what the white countywide ballot will look like.

Voters in several Tulsa County municipalities will also be given a colored, city-specific ballot to approve increases in municipal sales tax which will go into effect on January 1, 2017, right after Tulsa County's Vision 2025 sales tax expires on December 31. Here's a synopsis with links to sample ballots on the Tulsa County Election Board website:

Collinsville0.55%, permanent, for capital expenditures
GlenpoolProp 10.29%, 20 years, for capital improvements
GlenpoolProp 20.26%, 20 years, for police and fire vehicles, facilities, communications equipment, and other equipment
GlenpoolProp 30.55%, permanent, for staffing additional police and firefighting personnel
Jenks0.55%, 15 years, including $16,670,000 for low-water dam and additional funds for other capital projects. Dam money subject to mutual agreement between Tulsa and Jenks approved by December 31, 2020.
Owasso0.55%, 17 years, for street improvements and adjoining infrastructure and right-of-way expenditures on 96th St. N. and 116th St. N.
Sapulpa0.50%, 15 years, only in Tulsa County, for economic development and land acquisition
TulsaProp 1: Public Safety0.16%, 4.5 years, then 0.26%, permanent, for police, fire, and 911
TulsaProp 2: Street Maintenance and Public Transportation0.085%, permanent, for maintaining and supporting public streets and public transportation systems
TulsaProp 3: "Economic Development"0.305%, 4.5 years, 0.805%, 4 years, 0.305%, 6.5 years, for low-water dams and other projects

Bixbyvoters also have a municipal ballot, but it's for a 25-year extension of the Oklahoma Gas & Electric franchise, which allows OG+E access to city utility easements to deliver electricity to its customers.

It's interesting to see that the City of Sapulpa is proposing a tax increase only in the part of that city in Tulsa County (along I-44 between 51st and 61st), where an existing sales tax will be expiring. The reference to land acquisition suggests that they plan to purchase and clear some of the old Route 66 motels along that stretch (some of which date back to the completion of the Turner Turnpike in 1953) and then try to redevelop with more lucrative national chains.

Shoppers in the Osage County section of the City of Tulsa won't be as lucky -- the overall sales tax rate will rise there, since there isn't a corresponding tax expiring. (Here is the current list of city and county sales and use tax rates from the Oklahoma Tax Commission.) That'll affect the Walgreens, Family Dollar, and other shops on the northeast corner of Edison Street and Gilcrease Museum Road, and the gift shop and restaurant at Gilcrease Museum itself.

Tulsa County has a tentative list of projects for its 0.05%, 15-year package on its website, but with a caveat: "The list of projects outlined on this site have been discussed or requested by Tulsa County residents, County staff and/or the Tulsa County Commissioners. Only after further input from the public will a final decision be made as to what projects to include in a final package submitted to Tulsa County voters." The assortment of projects is reminiscent of the first Four to Fix the County vote in 2000 (in effect October 2001 - October 2006). At that time, the County Commissioners put four separate items on the ballot to avoid violating the Oklahoma Constitution's "single-subject" anti-logrolling rule. Given the refusal of judges to enforce the rule strictly, they seem to feel safe in lumping all of the projects together under one vague category.

The verbiage in the Jenks proposition about the dam is very interesting. The drop-dead date for an agreement with Tulsa is written into the proposition and set for the end of 2020, while the corresponding date for Tulsa to reach an agreement with Jenks and the Muscogee (Creek) Nation (MCN) is the end of 2016, and it's written into the Brown Ordinance for Prop. 3, rather than the ballot language. In both cases, failure to make the date releases the funds for other purposes, but the mismatch in dates means that the dam could be dead for four years before Jenks could legally repurpose that $16.67 million. Interesting, too, that the funds for the dam are described on the ballot in a way that focuses on operation and maintenance and other expenses that would be incurred long after the dam is built -- interesting because City of Tulsa officials have said they expect the MCN to cover maintenance costs for the dams. The Jenks ballot language makes no reference to MCN involvement.

Here's the language on the Jenks ballot:

Shall Ordinance No. 1392 of the City of Jenks, Oklahoma, adopted on February 1,2016. which levies and assesses a sales tax of five and one-half tenths of one percent (0.55%) upon the expiration of the current Vision 2025 sales tax be approved as a City of Jenks sales tax upon the gross receipts or proceeds on certain sales as therein defined, effective January 1, 2017, for 15 years for purposes including, Sixteen Million Six Hundred Seventy Thousand Dollars ($16,670,000) for funding of the proposed Jenks-Tulsa Arkansas River low water dam project, for the purposes of constructing, reconstructing, improving, remodeling, repairing, operating and maintaining the proposed low water dam and related facilities; with additional funds to be used for capital projects including constructing roads and road maintenance; park improvements and construction; construction of sidewalks and trails; and upgrades to storm water and sewer infrastructure; engineering; acquiring necessary lands and right of way; and/or to be applied or pledged toward the payment of principal and interest on any indebtedness, including refunding indebtedness, incurred by or on behalf of the City of Jenks for such purposes. including payment of the costs of issuance of such loans or bonds; defines terms; prescribes procedures, remedies, liens and fixes penalties; subject to a mutual agreement between the cities of Jenks and Tulsa for construction of the low water dam approved by December 31, 2020, otherwise funds identified for construction of the Jenks-Tulsa Arkansas River low water dam may be used for additional capital project categories as identified in this proposition, be approved?

Here's the language in the Tulsa ordinance:

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.

MORE: Visit the Re-Vision and the Arkansas River categories for complete BatesLine coverage of Vision Tulsa and the proposed low-water dams.


UPDATE: For the record, here are some links to coverage of Citizens for a Better Vision:

Fox23: Vision Tulsa responds to opposition group, Mar 15, 2016 - 9:01 PM
News on 6: 'No More Dam Taxes,' Tulsa Vision Opposition Group Urges, March 15, 2016
KWGS: Citizens for a Better Vision Ask Voters to Reject Tulsa Sales Tax Measures

It's ridiculous. Tomorrow we'll vote for a sheriff to fill the remaining eight months of the unexpired term of Stanley Glanz, and then a week later candidates will file to run for the full four-year term that begins on January 1, 2017.

Glanz resigned effective November 1, 2015. Had he held on until January 1, we'd have avoided a special election altogether.

Vic Regalado was not my choice in the special primary. I was (and still am) concerned about a pattern of donations by employees and executives of one particular Rogers County-based company that is highly suggestive of straw donations -- effectively exceeding campaign contributions by giving money to someone else to give to the candidate. (The same pattern was evident in the ethics filings for Brian Crain's 2015 campaign for district attorney.) The situation could have been shrugged off as something out of Regalado's control, for which he deserved no blame, but then he enmeshed himself in the controversy by crashing a press conference to discuss the donations and disingenuously playing the race card. Further analysis of his donor list shows considerable overlap with Glanz's contributors over the years, which doesn't inspire hope that we'll have the clean start we need at the Tulsa County Sheriff's Office (TCSO).

But the more I learn about the extremist political leanings of Democrat nominee Rex Berry, Regalado's lone opponent on the April 5, 2016, ballot, the more worried I get at the thought of someone like that running the sheriff's office, even as a temporary caretaker.

The Republican Party of Tulsa County has been running a series of the "Top 5 Most Outrageously Liberal Posts by Democrat Rex Berry" on its Facebook page. Berry called far-Left Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Socialist Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, "My dream team!"
Sharing an article about "post-Christian" Americans, Rex Berry states that he's "proud to be counted in this group." Berry trumpeted his end-of-year donations to the ACLU and Planned Parenthood. In another Rex Berry post, the Obama administration is called "a successful presidency." Berry "liked" an article from the Progressive Secular Humanist Examiner about consumption of homosexual pornography by state, with the comment, "Wow, we beat Texas!"

Berry also shared a post by the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, an anti-Second Amendment group that hides behind a deceptive name. Berry's implied support for the group is worrisome given an Oklahoma sheriff's role in issuing gun permits.

Here are a few gems I found in Berry's public timeline. He seems to be very open about his far-left views on the Second Amendment, religion, and economics.






Luke Sherman
, runner-up to Regalado in the special primary election last month (special county races have no runoff), has already announced his intention to run for the full term regardless of Tuesday's outcome. Russell Crow, a former TCSO deputy and Tulsa police officer, did not run for the unexpired term but has announced for the four-year term.

I will support someone other than Regalado for the GOP nomination for the full term. Strategically, a Regalado loss on Tuesday would make it easier to elect a different Republican for the full term, but I am haunted by the thought of the damage that Berry could do as effectively an eight-month lame duck with complete patronage power over the sheriff's office. At worst, Regalado might amount to a more cautious clone of Stanley Glanz and as such media scrutiny ought to keep any excesses in check. For conservatives, Regalado tomorrow and someone else in June seems to be the best option.

Fisheries biologist Chris Whisenhunt with a sauger he caught in the Arkansas River beneath the 96th Street (Jenks) bridge, an area that would be affected by the proposed south Tulsa / Jenks dam.

Tulsa fisheries biologist Chris Whisenhunt has some concerns about the dam's effect on fish and fishing. With his permission, here are some comments he has posted on Facebook about the dams .

Voting Yes on Proposition 3 will almost assuredly destroy the delicate ecosystem within the Arkansas River by displacing or eliminating many sensitive, native aquatic species for the sake of "economic development". As a fisheries biologist, it is my opinion that dams in the river are a BAD IDEA! (And no, the new lakes that would be created will not be good for fishing but would actually eliminate the existing fisheries). Tulsa should explore other ways to create economic development that doesn't risk damage to the environment for what is simply aesthetic reasons.

He adds some specifics:

Many indigenous species (sauger, white bass, paddlefish, shovelnose sturgeon, and many others) currently thrive in the area of the river to be impacted by the proposed dams. Voting yes will most likely displace those fish, eliminating the existing fishery for the sake of aesthetic value in hopes of promoting economic development. The new lakes will not be able to support a viable fishery. Any loss of, or damage to, the existing fishery may result in mitigation by the city at the cost of its tax payers.

And in response to diagrams of the dam operation, Whisenhunt notes the dilemma -- officials will have to open the dams and let the lakes drain out for five months to allow for fish spawning or keep the dams shut and degrade the stock of fish over time.

I've seen the cartoon videos & diagrams of how the dams are supposed to work and am not overly impressed. First, many sensitive species in the Arkansas River are benthic (bottom oriented) & most likely will not make it over the contour of the dam. Second, spawning season for the variety of fishes in the river is from February to June and we have no guarantee the city is prepared to leave the dams down that entire length of time. Third, I've asked for & have yet to receive any SCIENTIFIC, peer reviewed research proving the dams allow fish passage (a little something more than a cartoon). Finally, the continuous filling & draining of the lake will prevent any viable fishery from being established in the lake itself, one of the selling points the city of Tulsa has tried to give the public. The city is risking ecological disaster for aesthetic value...a very bad idea!

MORE: News on 6 spoke to another local fisheries expert:

Sand islands and braided channels are what make the prairie stream that is Arkansas River.

"It's not dry, it's just not the Mississippi, but it's not supposed to be the Mississippi," Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Fisheries Biologist Josh Johnston said....

"We're on that knife's edge already of being too fragmented. It's taken the perfect year to get these fish where they are. They're persisting, but just barely," Johnston said.

Johnston has studied the river and the species that call it home for years. He said adding another dam could severely hurt or even wipe out several native fish, like the shovelnose sturgeon, American eel, white bass, sauger and paddlefish....

But Johnston said the river is always flowing, even though it may not look like it. He said most of the fish in the Arkansas River are genetically made up to survive and thrive in that sort of harsh environment.

"We're not looking at what we have and being thankful that this is native, this is Oklahoma right here," Johnston said.

He said for fish to migrate properly, most of the gates would need to stay down throughout spawning season. It wouldn't work opening and closing them throughout the four-month period, Johnston said.

"I just don't think the city is going to be willing to leave that down long enough," he said.

Johnston said he's gone to the city's public meetings, but said the city hasn't consulted with his division of the wildlife department since about 2009.

"This one's been the biggest push I've ever seen Tulsa make for these dams and we were not invited to the talks, we were not asked, we were not questioned," Johnston said. "They say they've had a lot of biological input by some of the greatest biologists, but it's not with my agency, and we are the biologists that work on this system."

Two years ago, when the river was unusually clear, the same biologist made an interesting discovery:

The Arkansas River usually only has strands of what appears to be muddy water. Biologists know there's a rich diversity of fish, but only through a remarkable bit of luck, were they able to show the rest of us.

"And we found just wads of fish that you wouldn't think would be here in our backyard," said Josh Johnson with the Department of Wildlife Conservation.

It started with an idea to see if any sturgeon were still in the river. Hardly anyone in the Wildlife Department had ever seen one.

"We never even took into consideration that this might have been a better place to look for them, and all of a sudden this guy calls in and he's caught one," Johnson said.

That led to an underwater survey on what turned out to be three days of clear water in unbearable cold, the water was just above freezing but there was 20 feet of visibility. They saw stripers and buffalo fish and photographed five shovelnose sturgeon.

It's very typical of Tulsa to embrace an urban development fad just as other cities are rethinking and reversing course. (Case in point: No sooner did we close off Main Street for a pedestrian mall than other cities began noticing that pedestrian malls killed retail businesses and started reopening pedestrianized streets.) When officials push Tulsans to be early adopters of new fads, Tulsans say no, but officials stubbornly keep pushing, long after the moment has passed. In September 1969, Tulsans voted down a bond issue for low-water dams, 29% to 71%, but 47 years later, officials are still trying to talk us into it. Meanwhile, the rest of the world is waking up to the safety and environmental hazards posed by these decorative dams.

Danger: Low Water Dam Ahead

From the October 2015 edition of Columbus Monthly, "Low-Head Dams: Danger Below":

Though their usefulness faded decades ago, low-head dams are a lingering threat to people and wildlife. Since the 1950s, at least 441 people have died at 235 submerged dams in 38 states. About half of those deaths occurred in the past 15 years--a period in which many cities have sought to repurpose their rivers into picturesque attractions that would draw tourists and shoppers to business districts....

The dams, dubbed "killer dams" and "drowning machines" by critics, can be dangerously misleading. Most onlookers observe a scenic, harmless-looking waterfall, but a submerged hydraulic jump forms deadly whirlpool-like currents....

Aside from their threat to human safety, low-head dams have been causing a deluge of ecological problems for decades, conservationists say. They stifle fish migration up and downstream, degrade the river's chemical quality, increase the water temperature and starve fish of oxygen....

As for FLOW, the group conducted water-quality studies to look at the physical, chemical and biological attributes of the Olentangy River near and around the 8-foot high concrete dam at Fifth Avenue, and found the river did not meet quality standards. FLOW, which developed the Lower Olentangy Watershed Action Plan in 2003, recommended the dam be removed. Doing so would increase dissolved oxygen levels (making it easier and better for fish to breathe), unblock sediment flow backed up by the dam and increase fish migration, they reported....

When the Fifth Avenue dam was dismantled in 2012, it joined the list of more than 50 dams removed in Ohio since 1973. In total, the project cost about $6.9 million; it took $200,000 to remove the dam. Some of the funds were allocated to create four large wetlands, establish native vegetation, and reconstruct river features and infrastructure such as storm-water outfalls. The cost was shared by Ohio EPA, Ohio State and the city....

Communities working in partnership with nonprofit organizations and state and federal agencies removed 72 dams in 19 states in 2014, according to American Rivers, a national river conservation group. Five of those removals were in Ohio, adding to the 1,185 dams removed across the U.S. since 1912.

Finding a balance between public and environmental safety can get thorny when dam owners and community members don't want their dams removed. Garcia says residents in Yorkville, Illinois, felt a strong sense of nostalgia for a 1960s-era dam on the Fox River. The dam's spillway has since been modified with four concrete steps, a fish ladder and a bypass channel for kayakers and canoeists.

"Usually the people who want the dams removed don't live near them," Garcia says. "There is almost an emotional attachment."

But Garcia says there's one driving force behind all of this: liability. Tschantz agrees, questioning the legality of having low-head dams present on waterways as a hidden and concealed danger rather than an open and obvious hazard.

One of the joys of this campaign has been getting to know some valiant community leaders that I had not previously met. Tracie Chandler, a leader in the North Star neighborhood, was instrumental in getting the city to do a small area plan covering the 36th Street North corridor between the Osage County line and Lewis Ave. This area was once prosperous but long ago fell on hard times. The small-area plan process brought homeowners, business owners, and city planners together to determine a path forward. Unfortunately, Tulsa civic leaders have a bad habit of either ignoring northside activists or treating them with dismissive condescension, and the modest capital improvements that these small area plans request -- small investments that can make a huge difference to an area's potential -- are typically ignored in favor of bigger, splashier projects closer to Tulsa's Money Belt.

Tracie Chandler has written several items of commentary on Vision Tulsa, and with her permission, we're happy to publish them here at BatesLine. First, here is a list of concerns about the package, which Ms. Chandler read at our news conference on Tuesday and a related graphic.

We want to thank the Councilors and the Mayor for their work on the Vision Package. However, we have some concerns. Councilor Ewing said, people without representation were being left off the list to the detriment (harm) of the neighborhoods. Another councilor responded with. "They have their Councilor." Ewing replied, "You know what I Mean!" We instantly understood. People with money, power, or influence got their proposals on the list.

Example: The Gilcrease Museum gets sixty-five million ($65,000,000) of our hard earned dollars; a donor will give them fifty million dollars ($50,000,000). Example of influence?: Had Councilor Henderson supported the 36th St. N. Corridor Small Area Plan Implementation Proposal, coupled with the Mohawk Business Park, we would have had two straight miles prepped for economic development down 36th St. N. between N. Lewis and MLK. The Peoria Connection, which has the least impact of the two and cost five million dollars ($5,000.000) more, made the list. Is it because of Henderson's close ties to NTEDi, the organization submitting the proposal?

Public Safety:

Everyone cares about public safety, however, here are our concerns: The tax is permanent instead of for 15 years.

Fire Department:

The fire department will get seventy million dollars ($70,000,000), even though it didn't complete an analysis of needed funds. A fireman was overheard telling one of the Councilors that there was not a need for the trucks she was seeking. Many of the "fire runs" are for EMS purposes instead of fighting fires.

Police Department:

Do we need 160 more police to the tune of two hundred two million dollars ($202,000,000)? Even with the layoff of about 120 police in 2010, major crimes decreased. Minorities, especially Blacks, are harassed/arrested more than others. These arrests destroy families. More police, more minorities going to jail. The recreation centers are gone, kids, with their parent(s) in jail, are often without supervision. They act out, doing unwise things leading to their arrests (a continuous cycle of family destruction)! Keeping people locked up, is costly; It is cheaper to keep them out of prison.

We like the Gilcrease Museum, however, let's examine another use for the sixty-five million ($65,000,000) that would directly benefit North Tulsa. Five point five million dollars ($5,500,000) is about what it would have taken to renovate recreation centers at Ben Hill, B. C. Franklin, and Springdale parks. After utilities, the remaining fifty-nine million, two hundred eighty-nine thousand, twenty-five dollars ($59,289,025) could be invested in an endowment; at 3.5%, two million, seventy-five thousand, one hundred sixteen dollars ($2,075,116) to run the centers.

Zoo: "Do we need to pay $25,000,000 (twenty-five million dollars) to build a "Pachyderm Palace" as a new home for elephants?"

Lot in the Package for North Tulsa???????????????

You will hear that there is a lot in the package for North Tulsa, the same story we heard before and for the most part, North Tulsa looks the same. How will this be any different? Three of the items referred to are the Gilcrease Museum, The Zoo, and the Airport. Who will benefit the most, North Tulsa residents or the city?


Tulsans will pay taxes for Jenks schools, because Tulsa students attend those schools. Is Osage County paying for students that attend Central and Academy Central? We do need to retain teachers, however, North Tulsa Schools get more of the inexperienced teachers than South Tulsa Schools. What assurance do we have that this will change?
OSU: Why are we giving OSU 3.6 million dollars ($3,600,000) when they are receiving $1,000,000 (one million dollars) a year from Langston for rent? They could have saved that amount.

Street Maintenance and Traffic:

Everyone, especially North Tulsans, want their streets repaired. The City continuously maintain NEW streets, because it is cheaper, as opposed to older streets. Where does that leave older neighborhoods?

River Project: How will the River Project benefit North Tulsans? Will the money brought in by the project help North Tulsa? What part of the city gets most of the tax dollars?

Whose Vision is this?

This package does not represent the wishes/desires of the citizens. Where is the vision?

What Now?

We understand your concerns about Langston! However, would you keep an apple that is 93.4% rotten; North Tulsa only got 6.6% of the package? That makes the package for North Tulsans 93.4% rotten. Citizens of Tulsa, since this package does not represent our vision for Tulsa, should we accept it? If we accept this package, what message will we send? Won't it be that, it doesn't matter if our voices are not heard? Won't it be, walk all over us although, these are OUR tax dollars? Are we men or are we mice content with crumbs?

Presented by a Coalition of Concerned Citizens


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 citizensforabettervision@gmail.com 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.. https://www.cityoftulsa.org/media/432235/Teach-Live-T-Town-Presentation.pdf

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.

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 Fox23.com 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.

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.

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Adventures in "water in the river," from this week's Dallas Observer:

This has to do with one of the stupidest, zaniest, least necessary and most mentally challenged projects the city has ever undertaken -- and that's saying something -- a so-called "white water feature," or fake rapids, in the Trinity River downstream from downtown. Opened to recreational paddlers on May 7, 2011, the white water feature was closed to navigation the same day when the first few paddlers complained they had almost been killed.

City attorneys told the council in an emergency executive session Wednesday that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was only hours away from shutting down almost the entire drinking water system for Dallas if the council didn't immediately cough up $3 to $5 million to fix or (better idea) demolish the stupid white water feature. Some on the council didn't believe the lawyers, so thank goodness they balked at signing the check.

Council members Philip Kingston and Scott Griggs say now that some element of the threat was a bluff and that the most the Corps probably would have shut down was any additional goofy construction projects in the river bottom. "That would have been doing us a favor," Kingston said....

Some years ago the park portion of the Trinity River project, an ambitious plan to rebuild the entire riverfront through downtown Dallas, was turned over to Dallas socialites. Apparently the socialites glimpsed a man-made whitewater park over the rims of their martini glasses while semi-reclined on a canopied deck somewhere in Colorado and decided they wanted to bring one home. But they thought it would be better for the taxpayers to pay for it, because ... money.

The article goes on to note that the "fake rapids" cost $5 million, more than triple the original estimate, and that the supposedly family-friendly, gentle side of the rapids was so turbulent "under certain conditions that it acts more like an in-sink DisposAll in your kitchen," sending boats and people to the bottom and not letting them up. The water feature also created an obstacle to existing recreational uses -- canoeing and fishing.

Why would a botched set of fake rapids endanger Dallas's water supply? It may be because the of an upstream Corps of Engineers dam that desperately needs repair. River guide and Corps-watcher Charles Allen thinks that the Corps is concerned about the water feature interfering with conveyance, because it "is piling up tons of silt on its upriver side." That would limit how much water the Corps can release from upstream lakes to repair their dams without jeopardizing the levees downstream.

What does all this have to do with the water supply? It's the Corps leverage over the city, as the water feature was covered under a broad "recreational permit," which did not require any sort of environmental study.

The big permits that the Corps does hold over the city's head, called 404 permits, could theoretically be construed to govern virtually the entire water supply of the city. And that's the type of saber they are rattling. They don't have a pea-shooter to aim at the white water feature alone, so they are bringing out bigger guns by threatening to yank the 404 permits, or so the lawyers told the council last Wednesday.

Maybe cities are smarter when they let the river alone to act like a river.

The Tulsa City Council is rushing to get the new "Vision" tax on the ballot for April. The current Vision 2025 tax doesn't expire until the end of the year, so they could wait until June (the city, state, and federal primary date) or November (city, state, and federal general election) and avoid the cost of a special election. Why don't they? I suspect they think the new tax's chances are better at a low-turnout stealth election, and they may want to lock in a share of the expiring Vision 2025 tax before the county commissioners beat them to it.

Family obligations prevented me from attending any of the three public meetings this week, but I've started to look through the details of the items in the package draft. As currently structured, the proposal seems likely to fail, and fail badly. Friends who are normally gung-ho for any capital improvement proposal are giving Re-Vision a thumbs-down.

Here is the draft City of Tulsa vision proposal, as of January 7, 2016. Here is the list of submitted proposals for the City of Tulsa vision package, with links to PDFs of the submitted application, YouTube videos of the presentations before the City Council, and
PowerPoint presentations.

Not only is the proposed package far from a cohesive vision, but the Basis of Estimate (BoE) -- the details that justify the amount budgeted -- for each item is dreadfully inadequate. There's reason to believe that the estimates are way off, which means that some ideas that could be funded won't be, and other ideas will be promised (like the low-water dams in Vision 2025, or the juvenile justice facililty in Four to Fix the County) and attract votes, but won't have any possibility of being built without going back to the voters for more money.

I've got a lot to thoughts to share, but I'll limit myself in this entry to a look at two specific projects: The BMX Headquarters and the Air National Guard simulator building.

The PowerPoint presentation for the BMX Headquarters proposal makes the following claims on slide 12:

Estimated Project Cost: $45 million

5-year Economic Impact: $10,704,049
5-year Anticipated Total of Participant Attendance: 112,653
5-year Anticipated Total of Spectator Attendance: 85,831
5-year Anticipated Room Nights for Tulsa: 16,910

No information was provided to back up those numbers, but even if we assume they're accurate, that's a really rotten return on investment: Spend $45 million to get $10.7 million. In the draft package, only $18 million is allocated, but that still puts the city in the hole. There's no explanation for the $18 million or where the other $29 million will come from. Of course, that $10.7 million "impact" only benefits the taxpayers by the extra sales tax. That means we'll be spending $18 million to see maybe $300,000 in extra money for the basic functions of city government.

Where they wanted to put it is even worse: According to the same PowerPoint, they wanted to pave over Helmerich Park, the part that isn't already is being sold by a city trust for a retail development. That also ups the real cost to Tulsa taxpayers -- we'd be giving away parkland that could sell for millions of dollars.


I'm now told that the proponents have since withdrawn that idea, and they now want to put the BMX facility on the site of Driller Stadium. That's problematic in a different way: Putting a city-financed facility on county-owned land. Given the ongoing friction between the City of Tulsa and Tulsa County, I doubt the county would give the Driller Stadium site away for free. Would the City have to purchase or lease that land?

Cities shouldn't be building headquarters for any private organization, but even if you think it might be a good idea under certain circumstances, you have to admit that this particular idea is too half-baked to be ready for the ballot.

The Air National Guard line item is $9.4 million to build a 119,000 sq. ft. facility to maybe, perhaps, someday, house four F-16 simulators and maybe, perhaps, someday, house four F-35 simulators. There isn't much detail in the submitted proposal; most of what I've been able to learn about the proposal is in the YouTube video of ANG Col. Tray Siegfried presenting the idea to the council.

Siegfried's discussion seemed to be mostly speculation and handwaving. He claimed, in essence, that if the government funds the F-16 simulators, then the building would ensure that they have a place to go, increasing the odds that the DoD would locate simulators here. He said that there had been $24.7 million in the House's version of last year's NDAA, but it didn't survive the Senate. (I looked but was unable to find any reference to F-16 simulators in any of the NDAA versions; perhaps Col. Siegfried could provide bill number, section, and line item to back up his claims.)

Siegfried offered no justification for the proposed size of the building, which is larger than FlightSafety's former building at 2700 N Hemlock Circle. If I recall correctly, the old FlightSafety building could house up to 14 full flight simulators in its 30,000 sq. ft. main highbay.

An F-16 or F-35 simulator is likely to have an even smaller footprint, as simulators for fighter aircraft usually consist of a cockpit on small, fixed base, surrounded by a domed visual display, with an instructor station located nearby. 50 by 40 feet would be a typical space allocation for such a device, and in recent years visual domes have been getting smaller, partly because of pressure from the DoD. Their ideal simulator is small enough and quiet enough (no motion base, no hydraulic pumps) to fit in an ordinary office environment, with ordinary power and ventilation needs. They want something small enough to pack into a semi trailer for shipment to where it's needed most urgently for training. Surely you could fit four F-16 simulators, plus briefing rooms and offices, into a 20,000 sq. ft. building.

From personal observation, it seems unlikely that an Air National Guard base would receive brand new top-of-the-line simulators. The reality is that active-duty bases get the new stuff; National Guard and Reserve bases get hand-me-downs and lower-fidelity devices. If simulators were to come to Tulsa, they'd likely be what are called "unit training devices" -- same small cockpit on a fixed base, but with a large flat screen in front instead of a dome for the out-the-window display. Without the dome, these UTDs can fit in an even smaller space and are much less demanding on the building's power and cooling systems.

I can appreciate Siegfried's desire to have simulators available for his squadron. Simulators, particularly if they're networked together, allow pilots to rehearse missions and emergency situations -- impossible in the actual aircraft. I'm sure it's a bother to ship his pilots off to an active-duty base to get time in the sims.

But this idea of erecting a building in hopes of getting simulators at a later date is based on too many iffy propositions to warrant inclusion in this tax package. What basis is there to hope for additional funds to build the simulators? What assurances do we have that Tulsa would get any of them? What types of simulators are we likely to get, and what are the facilities requirements for each? Where is the justification for a 119,000 sq. ft. building? Does the building need special reinforced concrete pads to support motion bases, with mezzanines and access ramps, or will it need a raised floor?

I'd like to hope that the City Council had thoroughly vetted this request, but the fact that they have accepted the original proposal of $9.4 million suggests that they simply accepted what they were told.

If I were a cynic, I might believe that the City Council had no interest in whether these projects were feasible or appropriately budgeted. I might believe, were I a cynic, that these items were included just to get a few more hundred voters to the polls in the mood to vote yes on everything.

The better path would be for the Council to whittle down the list and propose a shorter-term (five years, max), pay-as-you-go (no "advanced funding" line item for interest and bond fees) sales tax that funded only those items that were of general public benefit and had been thoroughly vetted for feasibility and an accurate estimate of cost.

Corrected the revised amount for the BMX Headquarters proposal, which I had mis-copied from the City Council website. It's an even worse deal than I thought -- $18 million, not $16 million.

boyd_jazz_southwest_western_swing.jpgI've been reading a very interesting book, The Jazz of the Southwest: An Oral History of Western Swing by Jean A. Boyd (1998, University of Texas Press). Boyd is professor of musicology at Baylor University. The book begins by tracing the overall history of the genre, as it began in Texas in the 1930s, the musical streams from which it drew, and the men who shaped the music in its infancy.

Each of the remaining chapters of the book is devoted to a particular instrument. Boyd provides a historical overview of the instrument's involvement in western swing and the early musicians who helped to define its role. She then tells the story of several players, drawn from her interviews with them. For example, the chapter on fiddlers spotlights Cliff Bruner, Carroll Hubbard, Buddy Ray, Jimmy Thomason, Johnny Gimble, Bobby Bruce, Curly Lewis, Clyde Brewer, and Bobby Boatright. While Bob Wills and his many Texas Playboys sidemen are prominently featured, Boyd's book has introduced me to bands and musicians that are new to me and whose music I hope to find at some point.

The Baylor University Institute for Oral History has made complete transcripts of many of the interviews available online. While there is a Western Swing collection, that tag doesn't include some interviews with western swing musicians, so the best way to find all of them is to search for interviews conducted by Boyd or by historian David Stricklin (son of original Texas Playboys pianist Al Stricklin).

Interviews by Jean Boyd
Interviews by David Stricklin

Here are direct links to a few among many interesting transcripts:

Betty Anderson Wills, wife of Bob Wills
Original Texas Playboys: Smoky Dacus, Al Stricklin, Eldon Shamblin, Joe Frank Ferguson, Leon McAuliffe (1985)
Eldon Shamblin, guitarist, arranger, band manager (1992)
Herb Remington, steel guitar
Curly Lewis, fiddler and vocalist
Cindy Walker, songwriter
Dean Moore, vocalist and widow of mandolinist Tiny Moore; Truitt Cunningham, vocalist; Burl Taylor

Some entries (e.g. Dean Moore, Curly Lewis) have the recordings available on the right sidebar for online streaming.

MORE: The Baylor University Institute for Oral History has helpful resources for anyone wanting to learn to conduct, transcribe, and preserve oral history interviews.

Jean Boyd has written two more books of western swing history: We're the Light Crust Doughboys from Burrus Mill, and Dance All Night: Those Other Southwestern Swing Bands, Past and Present.

Tulsans will have two chances this month to sample the movie-going experience as it was almost a century ago, thanks to the Sooner State Chapter of the American Theatre Organ Society.

This coming Saturday, January 9, 2016, at 11 a.m., Circle Cinema will screen the 1927 film It, starring Clara Bow, who became known as "The 'It' Girl," and the first episode of the serial The Master Mystery, starring legendary magician Harry Houdini. Admission is $5 for adults, $2 for 16 and under. This is part of the "Second Saturday Silents at the Circle Cinema" series. Circle Cinema is at 10 S. Lewis in Whittier Square.

A week from this Friday, January 15, 2016, at 7:00 p.m., the Sooner State Chapter will present Robin Hood, the 1922 version starring Douglas Fairbanks, at the Broken Arrow campus of Tulsa Technology Center, 111th St & 129th East Ave. The movie was the most expensive production of its day. Bill Rowland will accompany the film on the Robert-Morton pipe organ, an instrument originally installed in the Capital Theatre in Steubenville, Ohio, in 1927. Admission, popcorn, and lemonade are free, but donations are gratefully accepted.

MORE MUSIC: A couple of musical events worthy of note:

Tonight, Wednesday, January 6, 2016, 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., Shelby Eicher is hosting a gypsy jazz concert (in the tradition of Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli) at the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame (in the old Tulsa Union Depot, 1st & Boston downtown). Admission is $10.

Tomorrow night, Thursday, January 7, 2016, at 7:30 p.m., the Memorial High School Choir will present Mozart's Coronation Mass and Regina Coeli for their 33rd annual Vocal Music Masterworks Concert at Holy Family Cathedral, 8th & Boulder downtown.


Miss Jackson's, one of Tulsa's oldest continuously operating businesses, closed its doors today. The boutique, which catered to wealthy women, was founded in downtown Tulsa in 1910, was located from 1928 to 1965 in the Philtower at 5th and Boston, and relocated to Utica Square in 1965, on a site formerly occupied by Utica Bowl. (The transition from bowling alley to upscale boutique was a harbinger for the transformation of Utica Square from basic suburban shopping center -- which once had a Safeway, an OTASCO, and a T. G. & Y. -- to high-end fashion center.)

Miss Jackson's management announced in late October that the store would be closing in January.

Miss Jackson's included a fur salon and off-season cold storage for furs and a penthouse salon (leased departments, both of which will be continuing in other locations), cosmetics, imported chocolate, items for the home, jewelry, and ladies' apparel.

The store's self-description on the Utica Square website:

Tulsa's tradition for 100 years. The finest gifts, home accessories, cosmetics and designer clothing.

From chocolates to china, cosmetics to crystal, Miss Jackson's is your source for every indulgence. Find top fashion and fine jewelry in all price ranges, for any age. One of Tulsa's finest women's luxury emporiums, Miss Jackson's offers professional alterations, gift registry, gift wrapping and engraving. There is only one you, and only one Miss Jackson's. Visit us soon at Utica Square.

I went into Miss Jackson's exactly once, to pick up a wedding gift that a friend had ordered for us.

Nathan Presley's promotional film for the store's final Christmas season gives you a good look around the store, albeit in black-and-white. The model is Luiza Farber.

The Late Shopper - A Miss Jacksons film from Nathan Presley on Vimeo.

A blog entry from "B. on Brand" recounts a visit to Miss Jackson's:

Long before the world was taken over by major luxury giants, there existed the small fine goods retailer, shops that felt more like a gracious suburban home rather than a department store. Cities across the United States were anchored by such stores where generations of men and women shopped because of the personalized service, and because buyers knew their clients so well, they would make buys with certain customers in mind....

The store, located in Tulsa's upscale Utica Square, could almost be a set piece for a scene from Mad Men. A gleaming white midcentury building with its distinctive, cursive "Miss Jackson's" sign could easily be where a perfectly coiffed Betty Draper shops for a party frock. Inside, it's all suburban colonial, with white columns and moldings, wallpaper, and brass fittings. The store is filled with upholstered chairs, sweeping credenzas, big bold table lamps, and slightly over-the-top mid-century artwork....

Women in Tulsa speak of Miss Jackson's in reverent tones. "They make you feel like a princess," says Beverly Anderson, a business consultant who was born and raised in Tulsa and is very much a Miss Jackson's loyalist.

She began shopping at the store over forty years ago with her mother. "You're put in a large, comfortable dressing room, given a coke or a glass of wine - always with a straw -- and then someone races around the store and brings you gorgeous designer clothes to try on."

That "someone" is usually a sales associate who knows you well - and your closet even better. They know the names of your parents, your children, and where you went on holiday....

On a recent visit with Beverly the store hummed with activity, most of it from the plentiful sales associates who bustled about the small store arranging stock and meeting with merchants. "Good afternoon Miss Beverly," which was then echoed from sales associates scattered about the store. Virtually every customer who entered was greeted by name, often followed by lengthy conversation.

We were served Cokes in tall glasses emblazoned with the Miss Jackson's logo, and yes, with a straw. Beverly shared stories with a sales associate about her son, her life, and yes, even the status of her closet.

Indeed, Beverly's closets are testament to the power of Miss Jackson's on Tulsan women: several decades worth of carefully preserved clothes, all with the distinctive Miss Jackson's label sewn in, as prominent stores used to do....

The article describes the departments on each floor, mentions the store's wide range of designers represented in its relatively small size (33,000 sq. ft. of selling space), and notes its "trunk shows," featuring the work of a particular designer, "many hosted by the designers themselves."

According to the Miss Jackson's Facebook page, the stylists from the store's Penthouse Salon have relocated to 1619 S. Peoria. The fur salon, a sister store to Koslow's in Oklahoma City, is looking for a permanent home but will host a hotel sale later this month.



Miss Jackson's Facebook page has some photos from the store's history as well as promotions for sales events over the last few years.

On the store's centenary, Tulsa People posted a Miss Jackson's timeline and a profile of Miss Jackson's history.

Photo at the top of this entry from the Instagram account of __pineappleprincess. Photo of the Philtower sign from the Miss Jackson's Facebook account.

A 2012 story on The List featured Miss Jackson's window displays, interviewing visual director Stacy Suvino and art director Rachel Everett.

Delta Air Lines' Sky magazine included Miss Jackson's in a list of about a dozen Tulsa shopping highlights.

Run for School Board

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Next Monday through Wednesday, December 7 - 9, 2015, is the filing period for public school board positions in Oklahoma. Most school districts will have a single seat, Position No. 1 up for election to a five-year term. Skiatook will have one additional seat on the ballot to fill an unexpired term, and Glenpool will have two additional seats. (Here is the Tulsa County Election Board press release listing the school board offices up for election. And here's where you'll find maps showing school district and election district boundaries.)

School board filing always comes at a busy and distracted time of year. As I wrote last year, it's almost as if school board elections were deliberately scheduled to escape the notice of potential candidates and voters.

If you're a conservative, you should give serious consideration to running.

The Tulsa district, largest in the state, has two out of seven seats up for election to a four-year term, Posts No. 5 and 6. The election will be held on February 9, 2016, with runoffs on April 5, 2016, for those seats where no candidate won a majority of the vote in the February election.

Tulsa Election District 5 covers Riverside to Yale from 21st to 41st, plus Riverside to Harvard between 41st and I-44, plus Utica to Yale from 11th to 21st, plus a small section just south of I-44 between Peoria and Riverside. The current member, Cindy Decker, was appointed to the post in May 2015. Her bio suggests that she's part of the problem with American education, tied in with the social services non-profit and educational consulting world. "Decker has been an education researcher since 2002. She is passionate about ensuring all children have a quality education. She works as Director of Research and Accountability at CAP Tulsa while also consulting for various groups including the U.S. Department of Education and Howard County Public School System in Maryland. She is Chair of the Board of Moto, Inc., a family-owned business based in Illinois. Formerly, she was a Senior Economist working with the education team at the U.S. Government Accountability Office." Cynthia Gustafson Decker is a registered Democrat.

Tulsa Election District 6 covers, roughly, I-244 to 51st Street from Yale to Mingo, plus 51st to 61st, Sheridan to Memorial, plus (oddly) Memorial Park Cemetery. The incumbent is Ruth Ann Fate, who was first elected to the seat in 1996. Ruth Ann Fate is also a registered Democrat.

Looking through the online biographies, I think it's fair to assume that there is not a single conservative on the Tulsa School Board. One member is a Democrat political consultant. Another is a former Democrat County Commissioner. One of the members is a teacher in a different school district and a member of the OEA, the far-left teachers union.

In addition, Tulsa Technology Center board seat 5 is up for a seven-year term, representing northern and western Tulsa County beyond the Tulsa city limits, plus those parts of Creek, Pawnee, Osage, and Washington Counties within the TTC boundaries. TTC seems to have more money than it knows what to do with; it would be lovely to have a fiscal conservative on the board who could curb their building spree.

If you're a conservative, you should give serious thought to running, even if you have no school-aged children, even if you have children that are homeschooled or in private school, even if you've never had a child in the public schools. The public school system exists to serve all citizens by educating the children of the community, so every citizen has an interest in the curriculum being used, the way discipline is handled, the condition of the school buildings, and the credentials, skills, and philosophical presuppositions of the teachers, principals, and administrators. Property owners support the school system through ad valorem taxes, and so they have a reasonable interest in the proper and efficient expenditure of those funds. So do all citizens who pay state income and sales taxes, which provide funds to supplement local property taxes.

If you are, like me, a homeschool or private school parent, you will have experience and valuable insights with successful, classical alternatives to the faddish and failing teaching methods, priorities, and content currently in use in the public schools.

I ran some numbers, comparing 2010 census data, broken down by age, with the closest school attendance data I could find, from the 2010-2011 school year. In the Tulsa school district, the average daily attendance was only 67.2% of the number of school-aged children (5-18) who lived in the district on Census Day 2010. That means about a third of school-aged kids were either homeschooled or in private schools, the highest proportion of any district in the metro area. The Tulsa district also had the lowest percentage of residents in the 5-18 bracket -- 17.9%. Compare that to the Sperry district, where 91% of school-aged residents attended the public school, and where 22.6% of the residents were school-aged.

It seems that a substantial number of families move from the Tulsa district to the suburbs when their children reach kindergarten, or, if they stay, many opt for homeschooling or private schools. Those numbers make a strong case for new leaders in the Tulsa district. And if the school board is going to be strictly representative, at least two of the seven members should have children in homeschool or private school, and a majority should be conservative.

Filing is simple: A notarized declaration of candidacy, and a signed copy of the statutory requirements for school board candidates. For this office there is no filing fee. You can view the Oklahoma school board filing packet online. And although school board elections are officially non-partisan, the local and state Republican Party organizations will provide assistance to registered Republicans who are candidates for non-partisan office. (I suspect the same is true of the Democrats.)

There was a time when it was generally agreed that schools existed to transmit knowledge and the values of the community to the rising generation, working alongside parents. At some point, as part of the Gramscian long march through the institutions, the public schools were infiltrated by Leftists who saw them as a venue for missionary work, converting children away from the values of their parents, away from the ideals that made America a prosperous and peaceful nation. The Left has influence over schools of education, textbook publishers, teachers' unions, and continuing education for teachers, administrators, and board members.

There are, it must be said, many good conservatives, many devout Christians serving in Oklahoma's public schools. But they need support in the form of school board members who will set policy and curriculum and ensure that the paid staff adhere to it. Conservative school board members should not give undue deference to "professionals" who have been trained to see education through a Leftist lens. The subject matter taught, the methods used, and the values undergirding it all should be firmly under the control of our elected representatives on the school board.

Education is necessarily ideological, because it rests on presuppositions about knowledge, truth, goodness, and beauty. The ideology of the public schools should reflect the ideology of the community.

If I were running -- and for family and business reasons I can't -- here are some of the planks that would be in my platform:

  • Introduce the classical trivium as the philosophy and method of instruction in schools that are currently failing. That includes a heavy emphasis on memorizing facts in the elementary years, which gives children a sense of mastery and accomplishment and provides a solid foundation for subsequent learning.
  • Instill pride in our city, state, and country. America has its flaws, but it is a beacon of liberty and opportunity that inspires hope in hundreds of millions of people around the world who wish they could live and work here. Our children should understand the aspects of our culture and history that have made our country prosperous and peaceful.
  • Keep the Land Run re-enactments in our elementary schools. It's a fun and memorable way to introduce students to our state's unique history. There is an activist in Oklahoma City who managed to convince historically ignorant principals and school board members there that the '89 Land Run was an act of genocide. Oklahoma City, founded by the '89 Land Run, no longer has reenactments of that event, because of a zealot who pushed her slanderous revision of history on ignoramuses in charge of the schools.
  • Return music to the elementary grades. An early introduction to classical music and learning to make music by singing have tremendous developmental and behavioral benefits.
  • Review all federal grants and determine whether the cost of compliance and the loss of independence is worth the money.
  • Young people who foolishly believe that swapping sexes will solve their deep unhappiness deserve pity and guidance. It is utter cruelty to humor their misplaced hope that "changing gender identity" will cure their misery. Leadership at each school should craft a way to accommodate these deluded young people with compassion and dignity, while protecting the dignity of everyone else, and while affirming the biologically undeniable reality of the two sexes.

On that last point, doing the wise thing will require resisting Federal pressure. If the U. S. Department of Education refuses funding based on its perverted interpretation of Title IX, the school should sue the DoE.

Our public schools need principled, intelligent conservative leadership. Will you step forward to serve?


Stella Morabito writes, "Ask Not Who's Running For President, Ask Who's Running For School Board," and she cites the recent battle in Fairfax County, Virginia, over transgender policy as one among many reasons:

The board voted 10-1 with one abstention to shove the policy down the throats of startled parents. There was no discussion and no consideration given to the concerns expressed. Instead, the parents were in effect smeared as intolerant bigots.

The ten board members voting in compliance with this federal harassment behaved like a bunch of cronies who seemed most interested in securing their places of privilege in a coming nomenklatura by regurgitating Orwellian-style talking points about "equality" and "non-discrimination."...

When informed citizens of goodwill vote en masse locally, they can provide an effective check on corruption and force government to be more responsive to its citizens. This kind of citizen activism serves as a buffer that can prevent state and federal governments from absorbing local governments.

As we've seen from the Fairfax County case, our distraction from local elections and neglect of local politics is fertile ground for growing laws under the radar on issues that have not been debated or thought through.

More than ever, we need to push back against the use of local elections as a back door to enforcing agendas established by central, national, or even international agendas.

Walt Heyer, a man who underwent sex-change surgery and then, realizing that the change failed to give him the happiness he had hoped for, changed back, writes that the Obama Administration is using its perverted interpretation of Title IX to force public schools to trample their students in the transgender war against science and reason.

Let's look back and unmask the founders who started the gender madness we see infiltrating into our public schools today. As I detail in "Paper Genders," changing boys into girls started in the perverted minds of three abhorrent pedophile activists from the 1950s who were at the forefront of promoting a movement for sexual and gender experimentation... [Alfred Kinsey, Harry Benjamin, and John Money]....

Public schools are becoming centers for gay, lesbian, and gender-pretender activists and only secondarily fulfilling their purpose as institutions for sound academics. The laws are being interpreted far beyond the original intent of non-discrimination based on gender to where they protect gender pretenders at the expense of the rights of non-trans kids. Gender pretenders are assured access to every school facility and program available to the opposite gender, up to and including girls-only dressing rooms and showers.

Every child's rights to privacy and protection from exposure to inappropriate opposite-sex nudity are now in jeopardy. According to these new legal interpretations, if you like your gender and want to keep your gender that's fine, but you cannot keep your freedom, rights, or protections in public-school dressing rooms or restrooms. The current conflict of interest playing out in school locker rooms between girls born as girls and the self-acknowledged gender pretender trans-kids is real and it is not funny. Non-trans students have lost their right to privacy and parents have lost the freedom to parent and protect their children....

Studies show that people with gender issues also have other psychological issues 62.7 percent of the time. When the co-existing illness is treated, often the desire to change gender dissipates. By not treating the co-existing illnesses first and instead putting the patient through gender reassignment--hormones and surgery--the medical community does irrevocable harm to the patient's body and long-lasting harm to his mind.

The harm is deeper for impressionable children and adolescents who experiment with gender-change behaviors and hormones or hormone blockers. Studies have shown that the majority of kids who are gender confused will grow out of it if they are left alone....

Gender pretenders--also known as trans-kids, crossdressers, or transvestites--should get counseling, not encouragement. Social terrorists who use child transvestites to advance an agenda of sexual perversion should be shut down, not be guiding public school policy.

It's time for parents and kids to fight against the social terrorism of gender change. It's time to take schools back from males who wish to expose themselves with impunity in the girls' locker room.

A memorial service for Lee Roy Chapman will be held Wednesday, October 14, 2015, at 4:00 p.m. at Cain's Ballroom. All are welcome. A fund for the benefit of his five-year-old son, Kasper, has been set up at GoFundMe. Friends are sharing memories on the "Remembering Lee Roy Chapman" page on Facebook. I've posted his curriculum vitae on a separate page and will add links as I am able.

Thursday night I got the news that Tulsa historian and artist Lee Roy Chapman had died. He was 46. Tulsa lost a passionate curator and narrator of its history, someone who delved into aspects of our city's past that aren't publicized as points of pride.

I first met Lee Roy at Coffee House on Cherry Street some years ago. This intense but soft spoken man with dark eyes and the bushy brown beard of a prophet introduced himself, squatted next to the table where I was writing and gave me two small pinback buttons, as he told me about his effort to rename the Brady District to honor Bob Wills. The buttons featured his own graphic art. One of the two buttons featured a jubilant Bob Wills, cigar in hand, superimposed with the word "REVOLT!" in yellow lightning-bolt letters.


The other button featured Bob Wills' 1948 Flxible Clipper tour bus, which he had traced to a field near Big Spring, Texas. Lee Roy hoped to bring the bus back to Tulsa, restore it, put it on exhibit, and take it on tour. He put an option on the bus to hold it until he could raise the money to bring it home. In June 2013, with the help of Loren Frederick, Bob's bus returned to Tulsa.

While I didn't always agree with the conclusions he drew, I always appreciated the passion and persistence Lee Roy brought to digging out the facts and then presenting his findings to the public in a compelling way.

For example, in 2011, Lee Roy and a team of people converted the storefront at 13 E. Brady, the location of Benny's Billiards in Francis Ford Coppola's Rumblefish and turned it into an art installation about the film. A video about the installation (embedded below) caught the attention of Chilean author Alberto Fuguet, who had been inspired by Rumblefish to write about the ordinary stuff of life. Fuguet had been working on a documentary about the film and its influence on Latin American writers and filmmakers. Fuguet had visited Tulsa a few months earlier and had been frustrated by his inability to connect with locals who loved and appreciated the film. Through the installation video, Fuguet connected with Chapman, who became his second-unit director, gathering footage of Rumblefish locations around Tulsa and allowing Fuguet to complete his homage, Locaciones: Buscando a Rusty James.

A man in the video says, "Lee Roy Chapman should be applauded for doing this.... That kind of energy and spirit really embodies what Tulsa is all about, in my mind, the best part of Tulsa."

I suspect that Rumblefish never caught the imagination of mainstream Tulsans because it was a Tulsa that had almost entirely succumbed to the urban renewal wrecking ball, a Tulsa that early '80s suburban mall rats didn't recognize as their own city.

Chapman was passionate about another body of artwork that mainstream Tulsa has ignored, the work of another curator of Tulsa's seamier side, photographer Larry Clark, whose 1971 book Tulsa depicted a teen underworld of drugs, guns, and sex. Chapman tried to persuade with Clark to do a retrospective of his work in Tulsa, as he had done in Paris, but without success; instead Chapman created a "guerrilla art installation," posting three-foot-by-five-foot prints of all of the images in the book in the ruins of the Big Ten Ballroom in north Tulsa. Photographer Western Doughty interviewed Chapman about the installation and published it in two parts on his blog: Part 1, Part 2. Here's what Chapman had to say about Tulsa's reaction to Tulsa, which gives you a sense of Chapman's own artistic mission:

[Clark's] work is representative of a whole side of Tulsa that still remains unseen. If it is ever seen by anyone, it's mocked. Tulsa tries to represent itself as this myriad of things, the first of which was the "Oil Capital of the World", but working to represent to the world wealth, class, prestige, and culture, there is a price; the working class has paid a price for that. And this book shows that price, all the drugs and violence, and all those excesses that come with being a part of the working class society. You're at war with main stream society, you're at war with the cops, and sometimes you're at war with yourself, and you can see that in the pages of this book. And for the book to be as well known, as influential as it has been, and for Tulsa not to have any representation of it here at all, not to have even tried, it's beyond neglect....

But the people who run the arts here, they want what every other city has. They want the A-lister stuff; they don't want anything that's organic. The formula has been that you have to move from here to become successful in the art world, either New York or L.A. I think some of that's changing, though, now....

Asked by Doughty if Clark's work had influenced him personally, Chapman replied:

Yeah, of course it has, to know that there is somebody living and running in not the same circles, but in similar circles, and has seen some of the things that I have. He was really one of the first photographers that documented the scene he was within, not coming as a photographer-colonizer. You know, "Oh, what a weird bunch. I think I'll take pictures of them." He was exposing his own secret. So I think that's the sign of a true artist, too. Of course, when you're dealing with other people, there are repercussions to that. But it's, for one, made me want to stay here in Tulsa and create, rather than going somewhere else. Two, it's made me want to force it on eyes that don't want to see it; I just think it's that important, not necessarily just his work, but that kind of work, that kind of organic, dirty, real work that only comes from the bottom up.

Chapman's last blog entry was about the Lew Clark Photography Studio on the west side of Peoria south of 15th Street. Lew and his wife Fran were Larry Clark's parents, and the little house that served as their studio, with the clock above the door and lighted portraits on display through the front windows, was a neighborhood landmark until a few years ago, when it was demolished for a parking lot.

It was Chapman who called attention to Tate Brady's connections to the Ku Klux Klan and vigilante justice. His exposé led to a public debate about Tulsa's founding father and the street, district, and neighborhood named in his honor. The debate received international attention and led to a compromise that left no one happy.

Chapman did some work for the George Kaiser Family Foundation (this silkscreen etching of Bob Wills from 2013) but that didn't stop him from taking some jabs at the billionaire and his incongruous ownership of Communist singer/songwriter Woody Guthrie's archives.

An inscribed first edition of Atlas Shrugged was found by George Kaiser, the billionaire banker and philanthropist, as he was unloading the materials from the back of truck last week.... Ms. Rand penned a nasty note on the title page; "Woody, you're a filthy [*******] hick. I hope you do gather all the poor together one day so they'll be easier to kill. One day a banker will own you. - Ayn"....

George Kaiser Family Foundation is kicking out the big bucks for a large scale mural of Woody Guthrie on the Tulsa Paper Company building, soon to be home of the Kaiser owned Woody Guthrie Archives, in the Brady Arts District. Is this mural supposed to offset the fact that the Guthrie Green and the entire district, has no representation or historic relevance to the park's namesake?

The original namesake for the green was to be the same as the district where the park is located, W. Tate Brady, architect of the Tulsa Race Riot and a founder of the Tulsa Ku Klux Klan.

This guitar's owned by George Kaiser

Woody Guthrie's 1930 Slingerland May Bell is owned by the Woody Guthrie Archives in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I'll betcha Woody wrote Jolly Banker on this one.

Lee Roy worked with the libraries of Yale, Duke, and the University of Tulsa, finding for and selling to these institutions books and ephemera relating to Tulsa history. Thanks to his efforts, Yale and Duke Universities have copies of the limited-printing original edition of Mary Parrish's first-hand account of the Tulsa race riot.

Last year, Lee Roy was kind enough to give me a sneak preview of an album of photos that were taken in the Greenwood District as it was being rebuilt following the 1921 Race Riot. The photos showed stylishly dressed African-American young adults posing in Deep Greenwood, out in the countryside, and at what may have been the Acme brick pits. These photos are now in the University of Tulsa McFarlin Library Special Collections and viewable online.

My last interaction with Lee Roy was indirect. A few weeks ago, my wife and youngest son were driving down 15th Street in the middle of the day when she noticed that Oak Tree Books was open. She had bought some bookshelves when the store was going out of business and was surprised to see it open, so she stopped in. Lee Roy was there. They chatted about books, children (he has a son a few years younger than ours), schools and homeschooling, and music. When he figured out that they were connected to me, he handed her a cassette album to pass along to me: "The Bob Wills Story: The Life and Music of the King of Western Swing," narrated by Hugh Cherry. There's a little Post-It stuck to the front: "Michael -- hope yr well. Lee Roy Chapman."

("The Bob Wills Story" is available for listening online at bobwillsradio.com.)

I was out of town at the time on an extended business and personal trip. I had intended to stop by and thank Lee Roy when I got back in town a week ago Tuesday, but getting back into the routine of family life distracted me, and it slipped my mind. And now it's too late.

The doors of The Marquee on North Main in Tulsa. Silkscreen art by Lee Roy Chapman, from a portion of a photo of Bob Wills in Indian headdress, when he was honored by the Osage Tribe. Photo found at topix.net.


Michael Mason of This Land Press posts a tribute, entitled "Lee Roy Chapman Is Still the King":

Last week brought the news that historian and journalist Lee Roy Chapman has passed away. Among the many roles he fulfilled, Chapman was a contributing editor at This Land and delivered some of our most well-known articles. He also hosted the Public Secrets video series, and was an ongoing resource in numerous other pieces. A polarizing yet beloved figure, Chapman leaves behind a rich legacy of scholarly work and groundbreaking journalism.

Below are links to the many works Chapman authored, along with videos in which he appeared. Besides being a skilled professional, Chapman was also a beloved colleague to many of us at This Land Press.

If your life has been enriched by Chapman's work, please consider donating to the Lee Roy Chapman Memorial Fund, the proceeds of which will go to the support of his son, Kasper Henry Chapman, age 5.

UPDATE 2015/10/13:

The Tulsa World and the Tulsa World Alumni Association have each posted an item about Lee Roy.

UPDATE 2015/10/20:

The video shown at Lee Roy's memorial, produced by Matt Leach, has been posted to Facebook. (I can't embed it here.)

Connor Raus has posted video of Lee Roy Chapman's 12-minute presentation "Twenty Shades of History Recovery" during PechaKucha 20x20 at Living Arts of Tulsa on April 12, 2013. It covers a range of topics, including the Race Riot, the impact of Brady District gentrification on the historic Greenwood District, Larry Clark, The White Dove Review, The Outsiders, Rumblefish, and Bob Wills's tour bus. It's a good overview of Lee Roy's range of interests and attitude.

So this is what I do. I read about this stuff, research it, and drive around and find this stuff. Some people care. Some people don't care. It doesn't pay. It's, like, horrible. I'm chronically unemployed. I'm obsessed....

In the Warsaw Ghetto, I don't think there's, like, an arts district named after Adolf Hitler. But Tate Brady is one of the few people that we know that actually participated in the Tulsa Race Riot, and did numerous other things.... If Woody Guthrie knew that he was in the Brady District, he would burn that park down....

Institutions aren't really that interested that much in what organically comes out of Tulsa. It's like it has to come from somewhere else....

(A quibble: To say that Tate Brady "participated" in the riot seems intended to lead the listener to conclude that Brady was part of the white mob that descended on Greenwood, killing African-Americans and torching their homes and businesses. But elsewhere Chapman says that Brady's participation was to stand guard on Main Street, well away from the battle lines, joining his neighbors in defending their buildings from any rioters. Some of the "numerous other things" that Chapman mentions were far more morally blameworthy -- his participation in the 1917 tarring and feathering of labor union activists, his membership in the Klan, his efforts to block the rebuilding of Greenwood after the riot -- but Chapman seemed to understand that saying that Brady "participated in the riot" communicated his unworthiness of honor in a way that needed no further explanation.)

UPDATE 2015/10/22:

Tributes to Lee Roy Chapman from friends, compiled by Josh Kline of The Tulsa Voice.

What follows is mainly from Lee Roy Chapman's LinkedIn profile. I thought that his list of accomplishments and the tributes from the people who worked with him needed a more permanent location. (You can read my tribute to Lee Roy Chapman here.) I will be adding to the list and adding links to articles and videos. Anything I've added is in italics.

Lee Roy Chapman is an independent scholar, journalist and historian specializing in the recovery of forgotten histories. In 2008, he established the Center for Public Secrets, a curated collection of artifacts that explores the sub-popular culture of Oklahoma. A longtime student of Oklahoma history with a special emphasis on race relations, art, and radical histories, Chapman has authored several articles that have received global attention. In 2011, he published "The Nightmare of Dreamland: Tate Brady and the Battle for Greenwood" in This Land magazine, which revealed that a founder of Tulsa was also an architect of the city's most violent hate crime--the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921. The article was lauded by historians such as Alfred Brophy and Scott Ellsworth, and has been cited by media companies ranging from National Public Radio to The Guardian.

Aside from his writings, Chapman has also produced and hosted several independent documentaries in which he discusses topics ranging from the Sex Pistols and the New York School of Poets to the art of Larry Clark as well as the hidden mass graves of African Americans in Tulsa. As a curator, Chapman has also located and acquired a number of important historical artifacts and artworks that now reside in university libraries and museums.

Chapman also frequently lectures in public and private forums, and has spoken to groups ranging from grade school students to university classrooms. His in-depth research into an eclectic range of subjects has earned him a reputation as an authority on Oklahoma culture and he regularly consults with foundations, companies, and private groups.

Center for Public Secrets
January 1999 - Present (16 years 10 months)TULSA


  • 2008 "Public Secrets ," Liggett Studios, Tulsa, OK

  • 2009 "Gaylord Herron"​

  • 2010 "The editors are not hipsters," Circle Cinema, Tulsa, OK. Warhol Screen Test

  • 2011 "Larry Clark's Tulsa," Public Installation, Tulsa, OK.

  • 2011 "Motorcyle Boy's Never Coming Back, " Bennie's Billiards [pop up] East End Gallery, Tulsa, OK. An autonomous installation featuring the work of S.E. Hinton, Francis Coppola and Gaylord Herron

  • 2012 "Strangelove: An evening of Cold War Fear and Propaganda," [pop up], Church of the Christian Crusade, Tulsa, OK. Curated artifacts regarding radio pioneer Billy James Hargis Pop Up

  • 2012 "Tulsa Time: The Graphic Legacy of Brian Thompson" Tulsa, OK. Presentation of iconic concert posters from an iconic artist.

  • 2014 "This is not a Larry Clark Show," Arts and Humanities Center of Tulsa, OK. Video installation from James Payne and photography by Nick Haynes.

  • 2014 "Locaciones: The influence of S.E. Hinton on South American culture," East Village Gallery, Tulsa, OK. Featuring photography from Western Doughty, Joe Cervantes and Gaylord Herron

  • 2015 Let's Get Lost/Chet Baker Installation Yale, Oklahoma - Pending


2009 Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys 1948 Tour Bus
(private collector)

2010 Ted Berrigan's contributor's copy of the White Dove Review
McFarlin Library/University of Tulsa

2011 A collection of Tulsa School of Poets printed materials
University of Tulsa McFarlin Library's Special Collections

2012 The Leon Russell Archive/Steve Todoroff Collection
OKPOP/Oklahoma Historical Society

2014 Events of the Tulsa Disaster
David Ruebenstein Library/Duke University

2014 Archive of 124 Greenwood reconstruction photographs from 1922
McFarlin Library/University of Tulsa

2014 Alvin Krupnick 1921 Race Riot Relief 8x10 photo
McFarlin Library/University of Tulsa

2015 B.C. Franklin Race Riot typescript, photos, scrapbooks

2015 Events of the Tulsa Disaster by Mary Jones Parrish
Beinecke/Yale University

Contributing Editor
This Land Press
February 2011 - December 2014 (3 years 11 months)Tulsa, Oklahoma Area

Writer, producer and host of Public Secrets video and print series.



Research and Discovery
Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of African American History and Culture
May 2010 - May 2013 (3 years 1 month) Tulsa

Locating and acquiring information and artifacts for the Smithsonian Institution's NMAAHC.

Second Unit Director
June 2012 - July 2012 (2 months)Tulsa

Second unit director for Alberto Fuguet's Locaciones

"Mr. Chapman is a mind and a human engine to reckon with. He is outstanding in his brilliance, full of humor and wit, determined to tackle history and see it with new eyes and force of human empathy and drive.

I was able to meet and work with Lee Roy in a documentary I made on the symbiosis between Tulsa and the Francis Ford Coppola movie Rumble Fish. Lee Roy, as a advocate for Tulsa´s history and a historian and editor of the outstanding journal This Land helped me immensely, opened his heart and contacts and ended up being my director of second unit once I was back in Chile and felt I needed extra footage.

Lee Roy has turned is unfathomable knowledge about Tulsa and Oklahoma in
general in a creative way. He´s more than a historian or an academic; he is a writer,
a chronicler, a raconteur, a filmmaker and an over-all achiever. I know that when my
film was selected at the Telluride Film Festival last year, and was presented by
Francis Coppola, that Lee Roy was the one who helped get there."
- Alberto Fuguet

Research Specialist
Raisin Cain LLC
2010 - 2012 (2 years)

Research and development
Panhandle Plains Historical Museum
2006 - 2007 (1 year)

Assisted in the creation and production of artifact displays.

Acquisitions and Sales
Oak Tree Books
1998 - 2004 (6 years)

Locating, grading, mending, protecting, pricing, cataloging and selling rare and out of print books. Specializing in Native American and Oklahoma histories.

Lead Printer
Wackyland/Artrock/Frank Kozik
1993 - 1994 (1 year)

Pre-press, production and post-production of fine art serigraphs and rock posters. Prints are now part of University of Texas, Cooper-Hewitt Museum of Design, RocknRoll Hall of Fame and Cain's Ballroom.


Cecil Cloud III

Lee Roy Chapman: Dogged pursuer of truth, finder of artifacts, artist and independent filmmaker. A rare combination of knowledge, skill and determination,
always seeking a challenge. The man to turn to for obscure information and forgotten documents.

Dean Williams
Chairman, Williams & Williams

Lee Roy has an artist's perception regarding location - the space where people, land and buildings interact; and a curator's instinct for what's relevant thereto. His passion for truth discovery is a courageous guide to what matters, regardless of the "winners" to date and powers that be that otherwise, and too often impersonally, impose their stamp at whatever costs. Lee Roy is an Oklahoma treasure, in that by stewarding what's just he also quite personally insures all that is creative and possible as between people and this land.

Michael Mason
Editor, author, journalist

The combination of unparalleled knowledge of his subjects along with the ability to endow his work & research with broad vision makes Chapman a singular person in his field, and one of Oklahoma's best resources on matters relating to history and culture.

Paul Gardullo
Museum Curator at Smithsonian Institution - National Museum of African American History and Culture

I continue to benefit from Lee Roy Chapman's expertise about Tulsa's and Oklahoma's history. Lee Roy is an outstanding writer and researcher whose skills in digging up crucial archives, stories, contacts and collections have proven invaluable to my work at the Smithsonian.

Silvio Canihuante
Productor Audiovisual

Lee Roy and his partner Jeremy Lamberton did a wonderful job shooting for three nights in Tulsa, OK. They went to awesome places, looking for the original locations of Rumble Fish, which was shot at Tulsa. Lee Roy as the director of the 2nd unit of documentary "Locations: Looking for Rusty James"


This Land Press has posted an item with links to many more of Lee Roy's articles and videos: "Lee Roy Chapman is still the king"

Lee Roy Chapman Flickr photostream: 511 photos from 2009 and 2010, including photos of the charred ruins of the Admiral Twin's original screens, images from the White Dove Review, an autographed copy of Stride Toward Freedom by Martin Luther King Jr. and a program from his appearance at the 1960 Tulsa Freedom Rally, portions of the Bible in Choctaw, a biography of Sequoyah, books about Indian land allotments, Bob Wills 1948 tour bus (including the title), and Chapman's own artwork in various media.

The City of Tulsa is asking for public to submit ideas for Route 66-themed artwork to be placed at the Admiral and Mingo traffic circle.

Tulsa is considering installation of new public art in the Traffic Circle at the intersection of East Admiral Place and North Mingo Road, on the original 1926 to 1932 alignment of Historic Route 66. This was the original site of a tourist court operated by Cyrus Avery, the "Father of Route 66". Mouse over the postcard to see more about the tourist court.

What artistic concepts appeal to you: Serious or humorus? Historic or futuristic? Traditional or avant garde? Static or kinetic? Funky and eclectic?

Share ideas for public art that YOU think would advance Route 66 tourism in Tulsa to capture the imagination of Route 66 enthusiasts. You may also attach a photo to further illustrate your idea.

Here is the comment I submitted:

What draws visitors from around the world to Route 66? It's the chance to relive the golden age of American auto travel through the buildings and businesses that line the old highway. Route 66 enthusiasts come to experience cafes, tourist courts, and gas stations, streamline Art Deco and Mid-Century Modern architecture, neon signs and landmark buildings, and to meet small-business owners like Dawn Welch in Stroud and Laurel Kane in Afton who have breathed life into these places that were long ago bypassed by the interstate. Route 66 thrills foreign visitors who want to connect to America's distinctive character -- the independence embodied by auto travel, small-business entrepreneurship, and wide-open spaces.

Spending money on some "iconic" piece of new art misses the point of Route 66. If we have money to spend to attract Route 66 enthusiasts to Tulsa, it would be better spent on funding the preservation and restoration of historic buildings and signage. The federal Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program helped restore dozens of historic sites along the highway, including the Vickery Service Station at 6th and Elgin, for a mere $10 million. By comparison, the $15 million Tulsa County voters set aside for Route 66 in Vision 2025 has done little to promote preservation, while neon signs continue to be replaced with backlit plastic and historic buildings are bulldozed.

We already have a piece of "iconic" Route 66 art at Cyrus Avery Plaza. The historic Meadow Gold sign and the Warehouse Market tower are iconic as well. Our city's Route 66 efforts should be concentrated on (1) protecting and restoring the historic resources that attract Route 66 travelers; (2) developing material to promote those historic resources to be available online and brochures at tourist sites, welcome centers, and accommodations along the full length of Route 66; (3) providing directional signage and interpretive signage to make it easier for visitors to get on 66 and then back to the interstate, find the most interesting sections of the road through Tulsa, and know what they're looking at when they get there. Sites that are in the spirit of Route 66 but not right on the highway -- e.g., the Golden Driller, the Admiral Twin Drive-In, neon signs like Sheridan Lanes and Moody's Jewelry -- should be included as landmarks of interest for the visitor.

Much could be accomplished with the existing hotel/motel tax money which is earmarked for tourism development. The city should consider special historic preservation zoning districts to discourage demolition and to ensure that new construction is in keeping with the historic character of different portions of the route.

UPDATE 2015/11/03:

Swa Frantzen is a Route 66 enthusiast and pioneer of the World-Wide Web, a Belgian who established a website devoted to the highway in 1994. Frantzen gave a talk last week at the Miles of Possibility conference, explaining how Europeans view Route 66 and what cities can do to better attract foreign Route 66 enthusiasts. Authenticity, not streetscaping or museums, is what these visitors are seeking:

Authenticity is valued by Europeans, and that includes so-called eyesore properties, Frantzen said. Historic sites shouldn't be "overly restored," and streetscaping and beautification efforts aren't deemed authentic by Europeans.

"It doesn't have to be pretty, clean, cheerful, slick and freshly painted," he said. "Don't be so quick to repaint it."

Originality also is valued by European travelers. Frantzen says efforts by towns to set up a Route 66 museum, a welcome gateway, murals on every wall and painted water towers are too common.

With historic preservation, Frantzen says a mantra of "preserve if you can, restore if you have to" should be adopted. Restoration, he said, should be done carefully, or else you irreversibly lose the property's originality.

I suspect city officials resort to streetscaping, museums, and gateways because they involve new construction, and so they can follow the familiar pattern of municipal contracting. (New construction also means bigger budgets and bigger contracts for friends in the business.) Preservation grants to building owners are not as familiar, but the National Park Service's Route 66 Corridor program has demonstrated a workable pattern that produced excellent results.

Tulsa Library CEO Gary Shaffer is an overpaid, left-wing twit.

This is admittedly a snap judgement, but when I saw Shaffer's rationale for a change to the summer reading program that halved participation over the previous year (33,194 down to 16,013) I felt confident in making it.

The summer reading program has been a fun way to encourage children to keep reading and to get to know the Tulsa Library system over the three-month school break. Kids and parents keep track of the books they've read, then turn in their reading card at the end of the summer to receive toys and coupons, donated by sponsors, as rewards for completing the specified number of books.

Here's the apparent cause of the drastic drop, which cut participation to its lowest level since 1985, according to Kelly Jennings, the former coordinator of the program:

Jennings said a change of requiring a library card for each child resulted in children's groups turning away from the program, as did parents of multiple children not wanting to keep up with a lot of cards.

She said the larger groups usually opted for one card for easy tracking of the books checked out.

Shaffer's response:

Shaffer said the change was made to encourage children to get a library card, which he called a "social justice issue."

With the quoted phrase, Shaffer brands himself as a left-wing twit. "Social justice issue" is a Duckspeak phrase. It is designed not to stimulate thought and discussion but to bypass the brain and halt discussion. A public agency's policy could be debated as to its prudence and effectiveness, but as soon as it is labeled a "social justice issue," all discussion must cease. To oppose the policy is to oppose "social justice," and if you oppose social justice, you're a bad person. By using the phrase, Shaffer outs himself as a left-winger, and by using it to stop a discussion about a failure under his leadership, Shaffer outs himself as a twit.

As for overpaid:

Shaffer is an at-will employee who will now earn $171,966 annually. The raise reflects the same cost-of-living increase given to employees earlier this year. He will continue to be paid while finishing his degree.

Shaffer will take a sabbatical starting Sept. 15 and ending in mid-December. He will be paid the equivalent of two months of his salary and will also receive $1,000 for payroll deductions such as health and life insurance for the period between July 1 and Dec. 31.

Other benefits include a $450 monthly car allowance for his private vehicle and three electronic devices (cellphone, home computer and iPad) for work use....

Shaffer was hired in January 2011 at a salary of about $140,000, which was increased to $145,596 in September 2012. Three months later, he was given a raise, bringing his salary to $154,475. A year later, the commission approved a 7 percent bump in pay to $165,288.

The story mentions that he would be one of only four library CEOs in the nation with a doctorate.

We have a great, well-funded library system, with some terrific employees. I particularly appreciate the researchers who have helped me over the years. They, and the taxpayers, deserve better leadership.

A commenter on one of the Tulsa World stories described the move to individual library cards as "nothing but a membership drive. He wanted to make it look like he had increased readership big time and all it did was drive people away." Does this overpaid, left-wing twit have a bonus clause for increasing the number of active library cards?

Back in September 2010, BatesLine first looked at Tulsa City Councilor G. T. Bynum's lobbying practice and the obvious concerns that arise when a local official is acting as a paid agent for an organization actively engaged in local political issues. I mentioned Bynum's lobbying for the George Kaiser Family Foundation again in 2011, when he appeared to be cruising toward re-election without opposition. Shortly before that year's primary, an ethics complaint was filed against Bynum mainly regarding his votes to waive competitive bidding on bond issues, resulting on bond contracts being awarded to the Bank of Oklahoma. Bynum's grandfather, former Mayor Robert J. LaFortune, served at the time on the board of BOK Financial Corporation and owned shares of stock in the corporation worth over $2 million.

Now four years later, journalist Theodore King has a story on the Okie Blaze taking a look at Bynum's current roster of lobbying clients and noting Bynum's work in 2010 lobbying in Washington on behalf of the George Kaiser Family Foundation for federal funding for low-water dams in the Arkansas River and his current advocacy on the Council for a plan to fund the dams.

King notes the silence in local media (BatesLine excepted) about Bynum's work as a lobbyist, specifically his work in the past for GKFF. While news stories occasionally identify Bynum as "managing partner at Capitol Ventures, a government relations firm" (for example, this June 17, 2015, Tulsa World story), I was only able to find one story, from September 4, 2011, in which the word lobbyist was used in reference to Bynum:

[Robert] Pinney also is critical of Bynum's lobbying work for the city of Miami, Okla.

However, the City Charter does not prohibit councilors from working as lobbyists.

Last week TRIP, a national transportation research organization, released its annual urban roads report, ranking U. S. cities by percentage of major roads and highways in poor condition and on the cost to drivers resulting from the bad roads. Tulsa and Oklahoma City ranked 17th and 16th respectively on the first measure -- in each city, 45% of the streets are in poor condition. Tulsa's cost per driver for bad roads was 4th in the nation at $928, slightly worse than OKC, in 5th at $917.

TRIP describes the basis for this additional cost measure: "Driving on roads in disrepair increases consumer costs by accelerating vehicle deterioration and depreciation, and increasing needed maintenance, fuel consumption and tire wear." The numbers come from TRIP's analysis of 2013 Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) statistics.

Only 7% of Tulsa's major road and highway miles are considered to be in good condition, 8% in fair condition, 40% mediocre, and 45% poor. The classifications correspond to ranges of numeric ratings: The International Roughness Index (IRI) and the Present Serviceability Rating (PSR). Poor means an IRI above 170 or a PSR of 2.5 or less.

Compare Tulsa's numbers to the national breakdown:

An analysis of 2013 pavement data found that 28 percent of the nation's major urban roads - Interstates, freeways and other major routes - had pavements that were in substandard (poor) condition. These are roads and highways that provide an unacceptable ride and are in need of resurfacing or more significant repairs. TRIP's analysis of federal highway data from 2013 also found that 41 percent of these major urban routes provided an acceptable ride quality and were in either mediocre or fair condition. The remaining 31 percent of major urban highways and roads were found to provide good ride quality.

Here are links to TRIP's full urban roads report and appendices.

In that report, TRIP has recommendations for improving the longevity of roads, beginning with foundations, better construction materials, and early preventive maintenance (crack sealing, overlays). It's the sort of thing Tulsa's former streets commissioner Jim Hewgley has been saying for years.

It would be interesting to trace back to the locally collected data that informed the FHWA's numbers and ultimately TRIP's analysis. I suspect that much of the mileage covered by the numbers in the Tulsa metro area is the responsibility of ODOT, rather than municipal or county authorities. ODOT seems rather fond of new construction (e.g., the Oklahoma CIty I-40 relocation, the upcoming I-35/I-240 rebuild) and not so fond of maintenance.

Just under the wire, I submitted my comments a week ago Saturday on the draft for public comment of the proposed zoning code for the City of Tulsa. This is a critical document for Tulsa's future, far more important than the debate over water-in-the-river.

The current zoning code is nearly 40 years old, based on the Vision 2000 comprehensive planning process of the 1970s. While the current code has been tweaked at the margins, it still reflects the view of urban planning that was in vogue in the age of bell bottoms, earth tones, and avocado green kitchen appliances: Strictly segregate work from home from church from school from shopping. Zone for what happens inside the building, rather than for what affects the neighbors (parking, noise, building scale and appearance). Treat established neighborhoods as obsolete areas in need of redevelopment.

The mid-'70s planning approach dates back even further. You can see the same themes in the earliest planning documents produced by the Tulsa Metropolitan Area Planning Commission in the late '50s. These principles have shaped Tulsa's development as it tripled in land area in 1966 and filled in the new territory over the next half-century, producing the traffic headaches we see particularly in south Tulsa and the erosion of many of Tulsa's closer-in pre-war neighborhoods.

Tulsa's new comprehensive plan reflects a better approach to development, as I explained when I spoke in support of its adoption in 2010:

The PLANiTULSA Policy Plan does an admirable job of accommodating growth and redevelopment while protecting the qualities that make most of Tulsa's neighborhoods desirable places to live, shop, play, and work. If the plan's recommendations are adopted and ultimately implemented in the City of Tulsa zoning code, the result will be clear, objective standards and a predictable environment for all stakeholders, including both property owners and developers. That predictable environment will help to reduce conflicts, uncertainty, and costs in redevelopment.

(In a 2006 column, I explained in greater detail the principles that should guide the ideal system of land-use regulation.)

Note the emphasis added above. The comprehensive plan doesn't accomplish anything unless it guides the development of city ordinances and capital improvements. So the City of Tulsa hired Duncan Associates to develop a new zoning code guided by the plan, and in February a draft was released, opening a four-month public comment period. On the Feedback Tulsa website -- the City's official online forum -- you can read background information about the draft zoning code, the draft, and the public comments that were submitted.

While you can find the draft code on the city's website, here is a local copy of the 2015 draft Tulsa zoning code for your convenience.

I submitted a brief overall comment and a spreadsheet of comments addressing specific provisions of the code. Here's the overall comment:

The draft code is well-organized, and the language is clear. The illustrations are helpful. I appreciate the thrust of the code toward handling routine and benign matters administratively rather than continuing to clog the BoA and Council agendas. The addition of new building types and new zoning types is also welcome. It should be remembered that the zoning code exists to serve the interests of all Tulsans -- home owners, commercial property owners, and tenants -- not just the interests of those who make a living in the real estate and development industry.

While the zoning code draft embodies many of the principles set out in the new comprehensive plan, it appears to bear the hatchet marks of development lobbyists seeking to continue to do business the same old way. Effectively killing form-based codes, granting of significant authority to a temporary city contractor, building high hurdles for the establishment of overlay districts which are weaker than those available in peer cities in this region, and limiting historic preservation to residential areas are examples of the vandalism that appears to have been perpetrated in the drafting of this code by those who were granted a special seat at the table.

In addition to the comments below, I concur with the comments submitted by Tulsa Now and Jamie Jamieson.

After submitting my comments, I noticed several more that I would endorse; I'll try to provide some excerpts in a separate entry. Here is a link to Tulsa Now's statement on the draft zoning code.

I should explain the reference to a temporary city contractor. The City of Tulsa contracts with the Indian Nations Council of Governments (INCOG) to maintain its zoning and planning records and to analyze and make recommendations on zoning, special exception, and variance cases that come before the city's Board of Adjustment and the Tulsa Metropolitan Area Planning Commission. INCOG has two core roles under state statute, but its role in the City of Tulsa's land use planning process is contractual and renewed annually. It is also somewhat redundant, as Tulsa has its own planning staff which is quite capable of analyzing applications and making recommendations as well. Most of Tulsa's neighboring municipalities handle zoning and planning internally -- their own staff and their own planning commission, more directly accountable to the voters' elected representatives.

The draft of the zoning code gives considerable discretionary powers to a "land use administrator" who is identified as the director of development services for INCOG. One provision in the draft code gives the same discretionary power to both the land use administrator and the development administrator (an official in the City's planning department), presumably so that if a developer doesn't get the answer he wants from one official, he can get approval from the other official. If this INCOG land use administrator is biased in the exercise of his discretionary powers, city officials would have very little recourse. In my comments, I state that INCOG staff should only be given the task of record-keeping and administering the process; discretionary powers should be retained within city government.

My suspicion is that the development industry representatives who were given a special seat at the table to guide the drafting of the zoning code felt that they would have more influence, as they have in the past, over INCOG planning staff than over City of Tulsa planning staff.

And here (after the jump) are my comments on specific provisions:

After a few schismatic years, downtown Tulsa will once again have a parade with the word Christmas in the name.

The Tulsa Christmas Parade starts tonight, Saturday, December 13, 2014, at 6 p.m. The rectangular parade route will begin at 7th Street and Boston Avenue, traveling north to 3rd Street, west to Boulder Ave, south to 7th.

Downtown parking meters aren't enforced on Saturday evening, so pick your spot. You'll want to avoid the area between 7th, 10th, Boulder, and Cincinnati, which will be used for staging and disbanding the floats.

You might want to plan on coming early and staying late. Following the parade at 7:15, Winterfest at 3rd and Denver will have a fireworks display. There are shopping opportunities, too: Downtown retail is enjoying a small-business comeback, particularly on Boston Ave between 3rd and 7th, including Decopolis and The Vault between 6th and 7th, Elote and Mod's Crepes in the Philcade building, which is also home to a candy store and some small "pop-up" shops. In the Blue Dome District, you'll find Dwelling Spaces and Lyon's Indian Store / Tulsa Treasures, Boomtown Tees, along with the many dining opportunities in the district.


This parade is the culmination of a four-year effort to get Christmas back into the name of an 86-year-old Tulsa tradition.

In 2010, after the local electric utility dropped sponsorship for the parade, local business owners, including restaurateur Elliot Nelson, stepped up to present a parade downtown, calling it a Holiday Parade. The group's application for a permit to close the streets for the parade turned into a public debate over the decision not to call it a Christmas Parade.

(In fact, the name change had occurred the year before. PSO dropped Christmas from the name of the Parade of Lights in 2009, "to promote inclusiveness and promote the parade to all Tulsans even if they don't celebrate Christmas.")

Eddie Huff, an insurance agent and co-host for KFAQ's Pat Campbell Show, was one of those at the City Council meeting, and he spoke to the Council of his hope that next year, when a Tulsa Christmas Parade sought a permit, the City Council would grant it. Construction company owner Josh McFarland and insurance agent Mark Croucher had the same desire, and within a few days, Huff, McFarland, Croucher and other like-minded Tulsans were planning a Tulsa Christmas Parade for 2011.

The 2011 parade was held on Olympia Ave through the Tulsa Hills shopping center near 71st and U. S. 75 and drew a large number of both floats and spectators. The downtown Holiday Parade went on as well. While the Tulsa Christmas Parade organizers were pleased with the result, they were still hopeful that there would once again be a unified Christmas Parade downtown some year in the future.

In 2013, the Christmas Parade organizers were invited to consolidate with the downtown parade, and Josh McFarland joined the downtown parade's board. The resulting parade included Christmas in the name -- "The Downtown Parade of Lights: A Celebration of Christmas, Hanukkah and other holidays" -- but the compromise was still too watered down for the other organizers of the Tulsa Christmas Parade. A poll in fall of 2013 showed that three-quarters of Tulsans wanted "Christmas" in the name of the parade.

In 2014, the long-time executive director of the parade stepped down, and McFarland stepped into the role. With a new board and new sponsorship, the downtown parade was once again dubbed the Tulsa Christmas Parade, and Huff joined the downtown effort, feeling that his aims had been accomplished. Croucher opted to continue a Christmas Parade at Tulsa Hills, which was held last Saturday night.

There's a flat-roofed home that stands at the crest of a hill at 14th and Quaker, just east of Peoria Avenue. It's easy to spot as you pass by on the Broken Arrow Expressway heading into downtown. It sits in a narrow residential sliver between the expressway and the Cherry Street commercial district. With its strong horizontal lines, angular porch arches, and a smaller, flat-roofed second floor, it stands out from the craftsman bungalows that used to be typical of the area and the pricey modern condos that are replacing those bungalows.

Despite the similarity of the housing stock between the neighborhoods north and south of Cherry Street, the neighborhood to the north has never enjoyed historic preservation zoning protection. The distinctive home had fallen into disrepair, but I had noticed a few months ago on a walk through the neighborhood that someone was working on it.

Preservation Nation has an item today about the McGregor House, designed by Bruce Goff, and the Tulsan who undertook its restoration:

Mark Sanders had been driving by and looking at the McGregor House in Tulsa, Oklahoma, for more than 20 years. Something about the lines, he says, always appealed to him. He'd also heard rumblings that Bruce Goff -- known for being the mastermind behind some of Tulsa's most noteworthy buildings, including the Boston Avenue Methodist Church -- may have designed the home, but nobody ever had solid confirmation. So Sanders continued to drive by admiring the home's design.

But all that changed in 2013, when a For Sale By Owner sign was placed in the front yard of the home.

Sanders, who is a lawyer, decided to purchase the structure and restore it using historic tax credits.

An architect who knew Bruce Goff was able to confirm that Goff had designed it in 1919 or 1920, when he was still an intern at an architectural firm. Because of the connection to Goff, the home's local significance, and its importance to his early career, the home was accepted for the National Register of Historic Places, which in turn made it eligible for federal historic preservation tax credits, which can offset 20% of the cost of the restoration of a building's structure and mechanical systems.

It's great to know that you don't have to be a developer or an architect to restore a historic property. I'm sure it must have been a long and involved process, with setbacks and discouragements mixed in with the progress. I'd love to hear more of the story.

It sneaks up on us every year -- the filing period for next spring's school board elections across Oklahoma. It's the first Monday in December and the two days following, at the start of the Christmas season as popularly defined. This year the timing of the filing period is the worst possible as it comes right on the heels of the long Thanksgiving weekend. The elections themselves will be the second Tuesday next February, followed by a runoff, if necessary, the first Tuesday in April. It's almost as if school board elections were deliberately scheduled to escape the notice of potential candidates and voters.

The filing period for the 2015 school board elections will close on Wednesday, December 3, 2014, at 5:00 p.m. So far no seat in Tulsa County has drawn more than one candidate, and seats in Skiatook, Liberty, and Keystone have no candidates at all so far.

Conservatives shouldn't overlook these races. Oklahoma's tax-funded schools can and should be reformed to reflect the priorities and values of Oklahoma's conservative majority.

When public schools were founded by local communities, they were designed to prepare students to function capably as free and equal adult citizens in the community and to assist the parents of the community in propagating their ideals and values to the next generation. Schools had high expectations of their students, regardless of their wealth or ethnic backgrounds, and students graduated ready to make their own way in the world and contribute to the betterment of the community.

As part of the Left's Gramscian Long March through the nation's institutions, the Left has come to claim public schools as its own mission stations among the benighted and savage conservatives of Flyover Country. Since, in the Left's view, the American civilization established by our Founders is utterly corrupt and in need of fundamental transformation, the political, social, and moral values that built American civilization and American liberty must be junked. The schools can be used to alienate children from their parents and their community's values and to prepare children to accept the Left's political and moral indoctrination. Court decisions divorcing schools from community values have abetted the transformation, as have the public's neglect of the school board as a tool for accountability. Too often, a school board can see itself as enablers and servants of the "professionals" in the administration, rather than as the public's proxy as bosses of the paid staff.

There are many good teachers, administrators, and board members in the public schools who are not on the side of the Left. They are attempting to carry on the traditional purpose of the public schools. They deserve our appreciation and our help in obtaining reinforcements.

Gifted teachers are often frustrated by the bureaucratic tendency for the mediocre to rise to the top. Testing, often imposed out of a well-intentioned desire to hold schools accountable for results, instead inhibits creativity and pushes curriculum toward centralized conformity -- providing another channel for Leftist suppression of local values.

Adding to the corrupt mess, curriculum decisions are driven by textbook publishers and test makers who are pushing new products, trying to make a buck at the expense of school children who would benefit from time-tested teaching methods instead of the latest fad.

Grants are another source of distortion. Grant money comes with strings, and schools may divert other funds to meet the conditions required to receive a grant. Our Oklahoma legislators and governor had the courage to reject a short-term boost of Obamacare funds because of the long-term harm the program would do and the long-term costs the deal would incur. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we had public school boards filled with men and women who had the courage to reject federal, state, or private grants that would distract from the school's mission or compromise the school's support for the community's values?

Every school district in Oklahoma has at least one seat up for election every year. All but the very largest independent districts are on a five-year cycle -- five board members, each serving a five-year term. This time the Office 5 seat is up for election. In Tulsa County, that affects every school district except Tulsa and Keystone.

Dependent (K-8) districts have three members each serving a three-year term; Office 1 is up this year.

The Tulsa district is a special case; its board has seven members, elected by district to four-year terms. Most years, Tulsa elects two members, but this year only one seat is up: District 1, currently held by Democrat incumbent Gary Percefull, who is so far the only candidate to file. The election district covers the part of the Tulsa school district southwest of the Arkansas River, plus downtown Tulsa and precincts to the north, west, south, and southeast, and the precincts along the Sand Springs Line.

Some districts may also have an additional seat on the ballot to fill an unexpired term.

One seat on the Tulsa Technology Center board, Zone 3, is also on the ballot. This board has seven members, serving rotating seven-year terms. Zone 3 consists of 31st to 81st Street, Yale to 129th East Ave, plus 81st to 101st, Memorial to 129th East Ave, plus 31st to 41st, 129th to 145th East Ave, plus a triangular area bounded by 129th, 71st, and the railroad. Tim Bradley is the incumbent, but only one candidate, Guy Mark Griffin, has filed. (Mark your calendar: Kathy Taylor's daughter, the Zone 4 incumbent, will be up for re-election in the 2015-2016 cycle.)

Tulsa Technology Center has been in a massive expansion mode for many years. Since 2011, TTC has opened new campuses in Owasso and Sand Springs and renovated its Broken Arrow campus. It would be nice if at least one board member was willing to look at long-range financial sustainability of all the new facilities and whether TTC could let the voters decide to reduce its millage rate, allowing voters to decide whether to add that millage to meet more pressing needs via another taxing entity or to put it back in property taxpayers' pockets.

Please take a few minutes to look at the maps of school districts and board zones and the list of offices to be filled and candidate filings to see whether your district, ward, or zone has an election this year. If you don't live in a district up for election, think about good men and women you know who do. Take a look at the official school board candidate filing packet and fill it out, then get yourself or someone else down to the county election board by 5:00 p.m.

These are winnable races. School elections have low turnout, and, although the races are non-partisan, the Oklahoma Republican Party and county GOP organizations make their resources available and help mobilize volunteers and donors for registered Republicans running for school and municipal offices. Some good organization and hard work could be enough to win, but the first step is to file.

It has been the City of Tulsa's policy for at least 15 years to build sidewalks when rebuilding arterial streets. During the recent reconstruction of Yale Avenue between 21st and 31st Streets, utilities were moved and sidewalks were built on both sides of the street, allowing safe passage for pedestrians and those in motorized wheelchairs. Even the historic brick columns that once marked the entrance to the Lortondale farm and the Meadowbrook Country Club were demolished to make room for the sidewalks, which were built within the city's right-of-way.

Even the east side of Peoria between 21st and 31st, through the well-to-do Terwilliger Heights neighborhood near Philbrook Museum, has a sidewalk, although it twists and turns around utility poles.

My very first column for Urban Tulsa Weekly, back in September 2005, was about the value of a walkable environment to people with disabilities, as well as other Tulsans who don't drive:

For tens of thousands of our fellow Tulsans, walkability isn't about rows of trendy cafes and quirky consignment shops, or about sidewalks to nowhere; it's about independence. For them, driving simply isn't an option. I'm not talking just about those who can't afford to operate a car.

There are those who are physically unable to drive. Many senior citizens, troubled by glare at night or uncertain of their reflexes, prefer to drive only during daylight or not at all. Teenagers are old enough to get around on their own, but either can't drive yet or shouldn't. For those who can't drive, urban design makes the difference between freedom and frustrating dependence.

Danny, a friend from church, has cerebral palsy and suffers from seizures. He can't drive, and he can only walk short distances with a cane, but he can get around with his electric scooter. Unfortunately, he lives on South Lewis, and he's been pulled over by the police more than once trying to go to the supermarket on his scooter. There aren't any sidewalks, and the only way to get to the store is on the street. Using Tulsa Transit's LIFT paratransit service requires booking a day in advance, waiting outside up to an hour for a ride, and leaving early enough to pick up and drop off other passengers on the way to his destination. LIFT isn't available on Sundays. If the next errand isn't reachable from the first by foot or scooter, it means another bus ride and another long wait. Because of the shape of our city, Danny doesn't have the freedom to go where he wants to go when he wants to go, and it makes Tulsa a frustrating place to live.

So sidewalks matter to Tulsans, and it's right and smart for the city to build them in the city's right-of-way, along with rebuilding the water and sewer lines when rebuilding the streets.

Mayor Dewey Bartlett Jr evidently doesn't agree with the wisdom of this long-standing policy, because he has asked the Public Works Department to delete the sidewalk along the east side of Riverside Drive from plans for rebuilding that road around The Gathering Place. Dewey Jr seems to think it would be safer for pedestrians from nearby neighborhoods to cross four lanes of high-speed traffic on Riverside Drive, walk along the River Parks trail, and then cross Riverside again.

I wish I could say I was disappointed, but I can't say that I'm surprised. At least the neighborhood will be safe from muggers on Hoverounds.

MORE: No, they can't use the Midland Valley Trail to get to the Gathering Place; it's closed for three years.

STILL MORE: Good for Public Works director Paul Zachary for refusing to remove the sidewalk from the plans. Boo to Bartlett Jr. for forcing the removal, apparently at the behest of a campaign donor who is also his oil company's landlord.


An alumnus of Tulsa's Holland Hall School may hold the key to control of the U. S. Senate. Sean Haugh, Holland Hall Class of 1979, is the Libertarian nominee for Senate in North Carolina. He is on the ballot with Democrat incumbent Kay Hagan and Republican State House Speaker Thom Tillis.

While Hagan is consistently polling below 50%, she still leads Tillis by 3.4% percentage points in the latest RCP average. In the latest Rasmussen poll, Hagan leads Tillis 48% to 46%, with 2% preferring "another candidate." A month ago, the gap was 45 to 39 with 6% preferring another candidate. The latest USA Today poll has a 0.4% lead for Hagan, with 4% preferring Haugh. NBC News' latest, from a week ago, had Hagan up by 4%, with 7% preferring Haugh.

Republicans are concerned that Haugh may act as a spoiler; if he were out of the race, the theory goes, most of his voters would prefer the Republican to the Democrat. The third-party spoiler effect has been claimed in the 1992 presidential election, with Ross Perot drawing disaffected Republicans; the 2000 presidential election, with Green Party nominee Ralph Nader accused of taking votes from Al Gore; the 2002 Oklahoma governor's race between Brad Henry, Steve Largent, and Gary Richardson; and last year's Virginia governor's race. The counterargument is that third-party candidates attract many voters who would otherwise stay home.

The Third Party candidate may not be drawing support in the way observers assume. In that USA Today poll, 9 of the 22 respondents who preferred Haugh said they would vote for Hagan if Haugh were out of the race, while only 4 would move their vote to Tillis; the other 9 were undecided or refused to answer. That's an exceedingly small subsample with a very high margin of error, but it suggests that Haugh may be helping to keep the race close rather than helping to protect the Democrat incumbent.

Sean Haugh graduated from Tufts in 1983 and spent much of his post-college life working as a Libertarian Party organizer and activist. He served as the executive director of the North Carolina Libertarian Party and the political director of the national party. He was the party's Senate nominee for this seat in North Carolina in 2002. He retired from politics in 2010 and now delivers pizza for a living.

Haugh's campaign manager is Rachel Mills, who served for six years as Ron Paul's communications director in his Washington office and worked on his presidential campaigns. In a blog entry, Mills explains that she offered her skills to Republican Greg Brannon, who lost to Tillis in the primary, and then offered to help Tillis, but both campaigns ignored her:

I met with (Republican Senate primary candidate) Greg Brannon first in January of 2013 and detailed my experience, and let him know I was available to him in any capacity he needed. Anything at all. He seemed really enthused, thankful - blessed, even - to have someone like me available for his team. But as soon as he brought on an official campaign manager, I got the old "We'll call you." treatment. I never heard back. When I finally said heck with it and volunteered to help with a mailing, it was made very clear to me that I was not welcome to even do that. Perhaps I'll never know why I was good enough to work side by side with Ron Paul for 5 years, but not good enough to lick envelopes for Brannon. Greg Brannon lost.

After it was clear Brannon wasn't having me, I approached Tillis. Told him I'd like to help him reach out to the liberty folks and bring the party together. I'm a pragmatic type and see this as a great approach. If you want them, let me help you understand them and figure out how to appeal to them. Let's ask for their vote. "That sounds great. We'll call you." I waited a long time. I even went to his primary victory party and met all the key people in person. I was sincere in my offers to help. I understand though, that he had a ton of resumes flying around his head, of course, and by no means was I a shoe-in or entitled there either. I do think I would have been a smart hire. Fine to disagree.

Then Sean called. Together we developed a very simple way to spread a tangible, common sense liberty message, straight to the people, non-focus grouped, what you see is what you get, delivered by an everyman, not a politician. Sean and I together have the political experience to know the rules enough to properly break them - hence the beer on camera, the casual demeanor, etc. We are also on a shoestring so we have to consider what Sean can do well - and that is to just be himself.

Sean might not win, but look what we've accomplished together! A Washington Post reporter flew down JUST to interview Sean in my toy-strewn basement! And that was just the beginning. He's had lots of national attention on all the major networks and is polling much stronger than expected. He's even included in a debate! It's been very professionally, though not financially, gratifying.

Mills concludes that the Republican establishment may have to learn the hard way, through some lost elections, that they can't take libertarian-oriented voters for granted.

Sean Haugh's YouTube channel is the heart of his voter outreach efforts.

About the title of this blog post: Sean was two years ahead of me at Holland Hall. It's impressive to see how little he seems to have aged. A few grey hairs, deeper lines on the face, perhaps, but otherwise much as I remember him. It looks like the haircut and glasses are pretty much the same style. We reconnected some years ago when he was back in Oklahoma on behalf of an initiative petition to improve ballot access for Libertarians and other third parties. More recently I've been keeping up with his opinions on Facebook and Twitter (@EmperorSean).

When we were both in school, a freestanding chalkboard was left in the Commons, next to the southeast stairwell, after a school-wide lecture, students began to use it as a kind of graffiti wall. Jim Ringold began writing short, upbeat commentaries on the board, signing his essays with "The Friendly Philosopher." Sean Haugh responded with a cynical take on school life, signing his screeds with "The Unfriendly Philosopher." At some point, I began writing on the board, becoming "The Unfriendly Philosopher's Apprentice" and inheriting the title when Sean graduated.

Toward the end of sophomore year, I had decided to run for student council vice president. The vice president was in charge of stocking and maintaining the school's pop machine. (I don't remember if it was Coke or Pepsi or a mixture of the two, but the families who owned the rival bottling plants each had children at HH.) Sean agreed to support me, but he insisted that, if I won, he'd be able to load the machine with Foster's Australian Lager, as a sort of final, pre-graduation act of defiance. I didn't win (Stacy Schusterman and Pam Bloodgood did), and even if I had, as a teetotaler in a teetotaling Baptist family, I wasn't likely to let that happen.


Haugh, Hagan, and Tillis were part of a televised Senate debate tonight -- watch it online here. Tillis seems to say, "Sean is exactly right," as part of every answer.

Rebecca Berg of the Washington Examiner has a sympathetic profile of Sean Haugh. Berg confirms my impression of the non-evolution of Sean's style from his days at HH.

On Wednesday, Sean Haugh had just finished a live interview with Fox News when he headed to breakfast at a Waffle House outside of downtown Raleigh.

"I'm pretty sure I know exactly what I want," Haugh said, glancing quickly through his 1970s-relic glasses at the laminated menu....

Haugh is a perplexing and interesting political oddity. He dresses like he hasn't shopped for new clothes for decades. His campaign has consisted mostly of YouTube videos in which he drinks beer in his campaign manager's basement and chats about politics. He recently berated one commenter on his Facebook as an "ignorant moron."

And, in recent public polling, he has been winning as much as seven percent of the vote.

We all liked the Gathering Place when it was a private institution pursuing a project on private property, but maybe it isn't so likable now when it's damaging public right-of-way for walkers, runners, and cyclists:

Most of the Midland Valley Trail will remain open, but its connection to the river will be severed as A Gathering Place for Tulsa construction gets underway.

The trail will be blocked off south of 26th Street to Riverside Drive until the first phase of construction is completed in 2017, planning officials said. It is portion of the trail that runs beside the former Blair Mansion property....

The Gathering Place property straddles the trail, and Stave [sic] didn't see how ongoing construction could keep it open to the public.

According to county assessor records, the trail is owned by the State of Oklahoma Department of Highways. The trail replaced the tracks of the Midland Valley Railroad. The state bought the rail line and right-of-way for construction of the Riverside Expressway, which would have left the Riverside corridor at that point, following the MVRR right-of-way to connect to the southeast interchange of the Inner Dispersal Loop. The Riverside Expressway plan was dropped in the 1970s in response to protests and lawsuits from Maple Ridge homeowners.

Although the closing of the trail will happen this week, the trail along Riverside Drive that connects to the walking bridge will remain open until the middle of 2015.

Stava said Riverside Drive construction will then shut down the affected portions of the River Parks East Trail along Riverside Drive.

The pedestrian bridge across the Arkansas River will also be shutdown in mid-2015 because pedestrians will have no place to go when crossing it from the west side, he said.

It's not said explicitly in the article, but the implication is that the bridge and east bank trail will also be closed until the end of the first phase of construction in 2017. That will create three dead-ends for our trail system -- the east bank trail approaching from the south, the east bank trail approaching from the north, and the Midland Valley trail -- and eliminate one of the easy loops around the river.

I wouldn't be surprised to learn that some Tulsans use the east bank and Midland Valley trails to commute to work.

During highway construction, contractors do their best to allow traffic to continue, with at least one lane in each direction. Shouldn't cyclists and joggers get the same courtesy?

As a private institution, the George Kaiser Family Foundation can't shut down public roads or rights-of-way on its own initiative. So who in city or state government granted permission?

UPDATE: A reader who commutes by bicycle writes:

You mentioned that you "wouldn't be surprised" that some Tulsans use it to commute to work. That's me.

For the last two years, I have ridden my bike from our house at 37th and Riverside down to the River trail, across Riverside on the Pedestrian Bridge, and into downtown on the Midland Valley trail. Lately I have added a stop at the Forge gym at 3rd and Peoria to my route before work, as I can make it to within a block or two using the north end of that trail. It is safe and keeps me off of the rush hour streets.

There are several other bikers I see every morning with backpacks like mine, clearly headed to work. It is our commuter street, and it's being completely shut down for 3 years. I can route around the closed portion, but for me it means I will have to cross Riverside at street level at 31st, cut to Boston Place, go north through Maple Ridge to 26th, then west to get back to the trail. If they close 31st at Riverside for the construction office, it will make it even more challenging. I would otherwise cut through the apartment complexes on Cincinnati (the only through street to get to 31st besides going up Peoria), but when they start demolition of the complexes in January they will undoubtedly close off some of that.

So who gave them permission? Good question.

Good point about the apartment complexes. Cincinnati Ave. is the only place to cross Crow Creek between Riverside and Peoria, the only connection between Maple Ridge and the northern residential part of Brookside to the Brookside commercial district that is safe and comfortable for pedestrians and cyclists. The Legacy at Riverview (formerly Place One) sits on both sides of Cincinnati just south of the Crow Creek bridge. The city ought to insist that this public street be kept open during demolition and construction, but given their apparent readiness to close public rights-of-way for three years for the benefit of a private project, I have a feeling the city won't press the issue with GKFF.

Tomorrow morning (Friday, September 19, 2014) at 8:05 am, I'll be on 1170 KFAQ with Pat Campbell to discuss "improvements" to the Arkansas River, the broad prairie stream that flows through the western and southwestern parts of the city of Tulsa. The "improvements" would involve renovating the Zink Lake dam, built in 1980, and building three new dams to fill the river to its banks, for a total cost estimated at $240 million. (UPDATE: Here's the audio of my KFAQ interview with Pat Campbell.)

Earlier this month, friends and fans paid their final respects to comedian Joan Rivers. She was a groundbreaker for women in stand-up comedy, Johnny Carson's long-time backup host on the Tonight Show and then his competitor, a survivor of personal and financial tragedy who made an impressive comeback, and a staunch supporter of Israel's right to exist.

But Joan Rivers may be best known, particularly among the younger generation, for her frequent trips to the plastic surgeon. Rivers demolished her natural beauty in pursuit of an elusive ideal and spent a fortune only to end up looking harsh, alien, and artificial.

What drives an attractive woman to undergo one expensive and risky elective surgery after another? The obvious cause is insecurity, low self-esteem. She must have been convinced that she could only be attractive if she drastically altered her appearance, and evidently no one could convince her otherwise.


You could ask the same question about cities. Why would a beautiful city pursue risky and expensive plastic surgery in pursuit of artificial enhancements that ultimately fail to increase the city's charm and appeal?

Whether Hollywood star or Midwestern city, the drive for extreme surgical makeovers betrays a lack of self-confidence and a break with reality. Many a city tore down charming Victorian or Craftsman homes for brutalist public housing towers. After World War II, owners of Art Deco and Romanesque Revival commercial buildings were persuaded to cover their facades with metal cladding, in order to look "modern" and "up-to-date." Decades later, building owners are tearing off the cladding to put the unique elements of each building on view once again.

Our consumption-driven economy thrives on insecurity and discontent. An unscrupulous plastic surgeon could boost his bottom line by persuading potential patients that they're hideous without his help. Heavy construction companies, civil engineering firms, and bond advisors and attorneys can benefit financially by persuading voters that their city is too ugly to attract residents and visitors, but paying them hundreds of millions of dollars will make the city presentable -- at least until it's time for the next nine-figure tax package.

Conventional wisdom is conventional, and the conventional wisdom about the Arkansas River is that it's ugly and no one wants to be around it because it isn't filled with water from bank to bank. If we want to have development along the river, the conventional wisdom goes, we need to ensure that there's water in the river by building new low-water dams and fixing the one we already have. And we have to have development along the river if we want to attract the kinds of young hipsters that pick where they want to live and then look for a job.

We have water in the river. What seems to annoy people is that we also have sandbars and shelves of shale that are visible when the water level is low. If only we would spend hundreds of millions of dollars to build dams, we could raise the water level by a few feet and spare visitors the hideous sight of our sandbars. They they will like us and spend money here -- or so the deluded, insecure thinking goes.

But some of Tulsa's visitors really like our sandbars.

Wildlife in the river bed more interesting than a river full of water

On a frosty morning twenty-five years ago this January 21, I took my girlfriend to the Audubon Society's bald eagle watch. (Later that day I proposed to her.) At the time, we were amazed to realize that just 20 miles from downtown Tulsa you could watch our once-endangered national symbol in the wild. Earlier this year, in commemoration of that auspicious day, I took my family to the Audubon Society's bald eagle watch.

In 1989, the Audubon Society set up their eagle watch just below Keystone Dam. The eagles seemed to prefer the shallow waters below the dam to the deep and broad expanse of the lake above the dam.

In 2014, the Audubon Society set up their eagle watch in Helmerich Park, on the east bank of the river south of the 71st Street bridge. Over the years the eagles had extended their range downriver and into the City of Tulsa itself. We watched bald eagles come and go from a nest across the river on the west bank, notwithstanding the proximity of Jones Riverside Airport.

Click on the photos to enlarge.

Bald eagle nest on the west bank of the Arkansas River near 81st Street in Tulsa, January 2014

We saw bald eagles, both white-headed adults and black-headed juveniles, soar above the river and dive down in search of a meal. And we saw hundreds of white pelicans.

White pelicans on a sandbar in the Arkansas River at Tulsa, January 2014

As you can see from the photos, the pelicans preferred to roost in the shallows where the sandbars met the river or in shallow places where the sandbars were barely submerged.

Hundreds of white pelicans on a sandbar in the Arkansas River at Tulsa, January 2014

The bald eagles liked the sandbars as well. We watched one mature bald eagle eating a fish on a sandbar, not far from a rivulet that crossed the sandbar to connect two branches of the main stream.

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

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

A gull tried to snatch the eagle's catch.

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

But the eagle waved him away.

Wings flapping, a bald eagle perched on a sandbar defends his catch from a gull, in the Arkansas River at Tulsa, January 2014

A little while later, the adult was replaced by a juvenile, working on the same fish on the same sandbar.

Immature bald eagle perches on a sandbar in the Arkansas River at Tulsa, with a fish caught by an adult eagle, January 2014

This was the view of the Arkansas River from Helmerich Park on January 25, 2014, looking northwest toward the 71st Street bridge and Turkey Mountain. This is boring? This is ugly?

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.

But instead of the shifting patterns of water and sand and the variety of wildlife, some Tulsans are adamant that we need a flat, monotonous expanse of water from shore to shore so that we can feel pretty.

What do we think "water in the river" will do for us?

When Tulsans enthuse about the impact of water in the river on tourism and economic development, they inevitably mention San Antonio's River Walk. The San Antonio River, as it bends through downtown, is about 40 feet wide -- about the width of a two-lane street. You can easily cross from one side to the other. You can easily spot someone you know on the other side and call out and wave. The Arkansas River through Tulsa ranges about 1000 to 1600 feet wide -- twenty-five to forty times wider.

In 2006, Canadian architect Bing Thom, hired by Tulsa's Warren family, proposed a way to create the River Walk feel: Excavate much of the west bank between 11th and 21st Streets, build an island with shopping and high-rise housing near to the east bank, with a little channel about the width of the San Antonio River separating it from the east bank. Price tag to the taxpayers would have been at least $600 million. Building housing in the river's floodway was unlikely to get Corps of Engineers approval. Excavating the west bank, once the site of oil refineries, might mean dredging up toxic materials now buried and settled.

If you want a street's-width River Walk, a better bet might be to follow OKC's lead and actually replace a street with a canal. Or tame one of our larger creeks and put development alongside. Combining the two ideas, the Elm Creek Master Drainage Plan includes a canal running down the middle of 6th Street east of Peoria. Many years ago, an architect proposed exposing the lower reach of buried Elm Creek, near 18th and Boston, for a creekside promenade.

Perhaps the water-in-the-river fanatics are thinking about the pleasures of watching the sun drop into the Pacific at nightfall. You really need at least 20 miles of open water to get that effect. That would mean excavating a lot more than the River West Festival Park. We'd have to flood Red Fork and turn Lookout Mountain into an island.

Maybe it's a reflecting pool that they want, so that motorists crossing the river on I-44 can spend some of their 15 seconds on the bridge looking north to see the skyline reflected in the river, just like that Ken Johnston painting. But even in that painting the water is rippled by the wind, as tends to happen with a broad, open expanse of water.

Do they think more dams on the river will bring about more recreation on the river? It's doubtful. Zink Lake has been around for over 30 years. The ferry boats and sailboats in mid-'70s "artist's conceptions" never materialized. Silt and sand don't let the water get too deep. We haven't even seen paddle boats on Zink Lake. Some number, probably not more than 100, participate in rowing on the river. I suspect more Tulsans had been on the river during the 1970s heyday of the Great Raft Race, prior to the completion of Zink Dam, than in the years since.

For a few years, Steve Smith ran airboat tours and then occasional guided canoe trips on the Arkansas River between Zink Dam and Keystone Dam. If I recall correctly, he tended to attract more out-of-town visitors who saw his brochure in the rack in the hotel lobby than locals. His descriptions of his tours, which you can find various places around the web, emphasize the variety you can see from the river -- wildlife, shoreline, little islands. But as far as I can find, he's no longer in that business.

Oklahoma City, Austin, and Wichita all have dammed, brimful rivers, but none of them have attracted vibrant riverfront development. The excitement in those cities is to be found in walkable neighborhoods of historic buildings away from the river.

We have a beautiful river. It needs some cleanup in places. The levees may need repair -- but that's a public safety and stormwater control matter, and we shouldn't let city leaders logroll elective cosmetic surgery in the same tax issue as a necessity. Let's stop listening to the hack plastic surgeons who want us to feel insecure enough to pay them hundreds of millions of dollars to "make us pretty." Let's appreciate the God-given beauty we already possess and the wildlife that enjoys it, in its changing variety.


The BatesLine archive of stories about the Arkansas River.

David Schuttler has some beautiful wintertime video of pelicans and herons from the stretch of the river west of Sand Springs:

John Eagleton writes to inform me that, after my appearance on KFAQ, all the "tax-and-spend hooligans" are angry with me. Sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper, et in saeculi saeculorum. Amen.

Charles Hardt, former City of Tulsa Director of Public Works, opposes building dams and encouraging development along the river. He says the 100-year-flood standard isn't stringent enough when it comes to the damage a river flood can do. Hardt's training is as a hydrologist, and he led the city's massive stormwater mitigation efforts following major floods in 1984 and 1986.

"We are talking about adding more things to the river banks — and potentially in the river — that could make the flooding worse and create the potential for a lot more loss of life and more property damages," he said.

Hardt said development in and along the river can act as a "plug" that impedes the natural flow of the river —-- a flow that in times of heavy rainfall scours the river's bottom and banks to increase the river's capacity.

"You're encouraging development that is not compatible with the river's function, and that is to carry the water from upstream to downstream," he said....

Hardt's not just worried about the dams that might be built in the river. He's concerned about one that already exists --— Keystone Dam, and he would like to see a major push to study and repair Corps infrastructure projects.

"Its effectiveness and the maintenance of it and what its capabilities are needs to be well understood before we put other things downstream from it —-- other things meaning low-water dams, development along the river," Hardt said.

NOTE: The Kickstarter campaign to bring the Urban Tulsa Weekly archive back online has just three more days to run. We need $875 more in pledges to move forward. If you'd like to see this irreplaceable archive of a period of Tulsa history accessible online again, please make a pledge.

UPDATE: 2014/09/17: Raised a bunch yesterday. Now only $560 more in pledges needed to make this happen. Please make a pledge today.

UPDATE: 2014/09/19: We got close, but didn't quite make it -- $535 in pledges out of $1,000 needed. I waited too long to promote it and didn't set the pledge period long enough -- and you can't change it once the Kickstarter has been launched. We may try again, and I'm open to suggestions for how to do it better next time.


Urban Tulsa Weekly ceased publication in November 2013 after over 20 years as Tulsa's alternative newspaper. A few months later its web presence, UrbanTulsa.com, went offline, and with it went seven years of Tulsa's history. In its final incarnation, the site held the newspaper's stories from 2006 to 2013.

Urban Tulsa Weekly's writers covered indie music, art, and theater, local eateries and nightspots, sports, business, urban development, and local politics. The paper was often the first to report on new stars, new bands, and new trends. Without the stories and perspectives found in UTW, Tulsa's historical record is incomplete.

Since the website has gone offline, we've gone to the Internet Archive Wayback Machine looking for UTW stories that have become timely again, but we've found to our dismay that many of them were missed by the Internet Archive's webcrawlers. A group of former UTW writers is banding together to restore this piece of Tulsa history to the internet, and we need your help.

While I have all of the columns and stories that I submitted for publication (and retained the rights to republish them -- eventually I'll get them all online here), the same is not true of many other great writers and editors who contributed valuable insights on the state of Tulsa, Oklahoma -- its politics, sports, music, arts, and entertainment.

The good news is that, with the publisher's permission (which we have), the hosting provider can quickly put the UrbanTulsa.com archive back online and keep it online in a frozen, archive-only, ad-free state -- but there's a price. This Kickstarter will cover the initial cost of restoring the archive and keeping it online for three months.

During that initial period, we hope to get a complete scan from the Internet Archive, and we will be working on affordable ways to maintain the UrbanTulsa.com archive online in the long run. Funds above our initial goal will pay for additional months of hosting. With sufficient funding, access, and permission, we'd like to get the entire run of the paper online in some form.

Because we are not permitted to sell ads to support the site, we need your financial support to make this happen. Help restore and preserve this significant record of Tulsa's recent history with your pledge today.

This coming weekend, September 6 and 7, 2014, is the opening weekend of the Helmerich Center for American Research, a unit of the City of Tulsa's Gilcrease Museum. The new facility is adjacent to the museum on Gilcrease Museum Road.

A weekend full of free events is planned, including Native American and Latin American dancers, the Cherokee National Youth Choir, red dirt/Americana band The 66. There will be lectures on art and history, art-making, kite-flying, and map-reading activities for children. Food trucks will be on hand and the museum restaurant will be open. It would be easy to spend the entire weekend out there.

Legendary guitarist, singer, picker and grinner Roy Clark, fiddler Jana Jae, and the Tulsa Playboys will perform together on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. on the main stage. The event is free and unticketed; seating is first come, first served.

The Red Dirt Rangers will close out the weekend Sunday evening at 4 p.m.

Because of limited parking at Gilcrease, visitors are encouraged to park in designated lots downtown and take a five-minute shuttle ride to the museum.

MORE: Here's an earlier -- much earlier -- performance of Orange Blossom Special with Roy Clark and Tulsa Playboys bandleader Shelby Eicher. Eicher shows up about 7:40 into the video.


Our family was among those huddled under a tent as the cold drizzle continued into mid-afternoon. We were delighted to listen to the Cherokee National Choir sing songs like "Take the Name of Jesus with You," "Battle Hymn of the Republic," and "I'll Fly Away" in the language of Sequoyah. Around 2:05, a few minutes after the choir left the stage, the Tulsa Playboys began to set up. They were in place, but there was some inexplicable delay. A sound check began after the show was scheduled to start, and it was quickly apparent that the sound man had no earthly idea what he was doing.


In less than an hour the Tulsa City Council will consider three zoning proposals to take specific properties out of the Pearl District Form Based Code -- which gives property owners a great deal of flexibility as to their use -- and place them under specific traditional zoning classifications.

I sent the following email to all nine City Councilors.

I am writing to urge you to deny Z-7274, Z-7275, and Z-7276, the three requests that will come before you this evening to remove specific properties from the Pearl District Form Based Code regulating plan. Unfortunately, I cannot appear in person tonight to speak to the Council, but I hope you will take these points into consideration.

Please remember that, on matters of amendments to the zoning ordinance and the zoning map, the TMAPC is only a recommending committee and the City Council has full authority under Oklahoma law and Tulsa ordinance to disregard the TMAPC's recommendation by denying or amending the proposed changes. The lawyers, including the City Attorney, may try to frighten you with the threat of being sued personally for denying these zoning changes, but a zoning change is a legislative matter and the City Council is the legislative body of the City of Tulsa.

There are three reasons you should deny these requests:

1. This is spot zoning of the worst sort. Spot zoning is plucking a single parcel out of an area for rezoning, without regard to the zoning of the surrounding properties. Tulsa has carefully avoided spot zoning for many years, after a period 40 years or so ago in which it was common. Approving these changes will establish a precedent that will make it very difficult for the council to deny future spot zoning changes without seeming to be "arbitrary and capricious."

2. The proposed spot rezonings of these parcels to traditional zoning classifications give the subject property owners less flexibility for future use than they have under the Form Based Code plan for the Pearl District. The current uses are conforming uses under the Pearl District plan. When and if a future owner decides to replace them, under the proposed traditional zoning classifications, they will have to conform to parking minimums and use restrictions that would not apply under the Form Based Code. If these rezonings are approved tonight, future redevelopment on these properties is more likely to require further hearings before the Board of Adjustment, TMAPC, and City Council, with the attendant attorney's fees.

Why would owners agree to a rezoning that works against their interests? I can only speculate, but notice that the applicants are not the property owners but attorneys. Zoning attorneys might fear losing business if the Form Based Code is allowed to take hold, and property owners have more options to develop their property by right, without requiring the services of these attorneys.

3. Approving these changes would eviscerate nearly 20 years of planning for the Pearl District. In the early 1990s, efforts to plan a pedestrian-friendly future for this district that links downtown to Cherry Street and the University of Tulsa. This area developed about 100 years ago, when feet and streetcars were the prevalent way for people to get from home to work, shopping, school, and church. As rising gas prices and aging eyes encourage more Tulsans to reduce their dependance on the automobile, the Pearl District is one of the best suited neighborhoods in Tulsa to meet the demand for pedestrian-friendly living. Approving these three zoning amendments would tell the residents and business owners of the Pearl District who worked for years and fought hard for the small-area plans and form-based code that their efforts were in vain.

4. It would send a message to Tulsa citizens participating in small-area planning and in efforts like PLANiTULSA is a complete waste of time. We spent a lot of money bringing in a planning team and holding public events to develop PlaniTulsa. Much time was taken to amend the Pearl District and PLANiTULSA plans to make as many Tulsans as possible happy before the City Council adopted them. Approving these zoning changes tells Tulsans that they're right to be cynical and hopeless about their influence over city government.

At the beginning of the PLANiTULSA process, Robin Rather and her firm Collective Strength polled 1000 Tulsans. 70% agreed with the statement, "I'm concerned the plan will be too influenced by those who have a lot of money." Rather said at the time, "A lot of people feel like it doesn't matter how you plan. Folks that have a lot of money, or a lot of influence get to do what they want." Tulsans were telling her, "We engage in the public process, we go to these meetings, we do the hard work, but at the end of the day our expectations are not met."

Your vote tonight will either move Tulsans in the direction of cynicism or engagement. A vote against all three zoning map amendments will give Tulsans hope that their involvement in planning will be respected by their elected officials.

MORE: The BatesLine article, Keeping the Promise to the Pearl District, has a history of planning in the Pearl District and links to further articles and resources.

ken_yazel.jpgTulsa County Assessor Ken Yazel, recently re-elected to a fourth four-year term, provides a wealth of information on ad valorem property taxation in Oklahoma. For some time now, he has posted slide presentations online, under Statistics and Analysis, that cover basic and advanced property taxation topics and are chock-full of statistics about Tulsa County. They are updated annually.

Property Taxation 101 covers the history of ad valorem taxation in Oklahoma and what it funds, reforms to the system approved over the last 25 years, how lower valuation affects tax rates, the impact of the recent decision to exempt intangible personal property, the annual timeline for assessment, exemptions, taxation, appeals, and payment, valuation methodology, the relationship of fair market value to capped taxable value, the role of the boards of equalization, excise, and tax roll correction, and the appeal process.

Property Taxation 102 includes the net valuation over the last five years for all cities and school districts in Tulsa County, statistics on all tax increment financing (TIF) and incentive districts in the county, comparisons to other counties in Oklahoma and to surrounding states, and diagrams illustrating the different factors that go into calculating ad valorem tax rates.

Property Taxation 103 includes more statistics over the last five years: Combined sales tax and property tax burden per capita by city, sales tax and use tax growth, weighted average mill levies by county, median household incomes, counts of homestead properties, sheriff and marshal deeds by year, and new parcels by year.

The last part of that third presentation is a breakdown showing current assets by taxing entity, employees by taxing entity, and change over the last five years. The four fixed-millage entities -- library, health department, Tulsa Community College, Tulsa Technology Center -- had a combined $163 million in current assets as of 2013-2014, more in reserve than they receive annually in revenue ($143 million). County operations have $161 million in reserve, triple the annual ad valorem revenue of $52 million.

MORE: In case you missed it, the Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled in favor of Assessor Ken Yazel, affirming that he does have the authority under state law to hire counsel to represent him in appeals of tax-exemption rulings.

JohnFLawhon-logo.pngTulsans of a certain age will remember John F. Lawhon as a pioneer of the owner-as-spokesman TV ad.

John F. Lawhon died Tuesday at the age of 86. Services will be Saturday, August 16, 2014, at Schaudt-Teel Funeral Service, 5757 S. Memorial Dr., Tulsa.

Lawhon founded a chain of furniture stores, the John F. Lawhon Furniture Warehouse and Showroom, with his flagship in Tulsa on Pine Street between Sheridan and Memorial.

Lawhon's distinctive accent and cadence was a popular target for amateur impressionists, and Lawhon had enough of a sense of humor about himself to sponsor a sound-a-like contest -- a contest that then-grade-schooler and future actor/writer/director Tim Blake Nelson won.

On the Tulsa TV Memories website, John Hillis remembers Lawhon participating in KOTV News's "Chughole of the Week" feature about the disgraceful state of our city's streets: "If you're looking for the best chughole buy in Oklahoma...." Lawhon extended the theme to Detroit in this spoof ad, recalling when the Great Lakes themselves started out as chugholes:

I'm sure that many of you have noticed the many large chugholes on our streets here in the city of Detroit lately. Well, I've been given a commission by the city to dispose of these chugholes. Inasmuch as they do not intend to repair them, I've been given permission to sell them.

Most of you who are old timers can remember when some of the Great Lakes were just chugholes on our city streets, and look at what a great real estate investment that would have been. Why, the Detroit River was only about this big the first time one man I talked to saw that chughole.

These chugholes are being offered on convenient terms, and we're throwing in three Volkswagens in one of them that we found after we acquired the chughole. If you'd like a super real estate buy, call me: 296-4100 for further information on available chugholes in your area. Thank you.

After retiring from the furniture business, Lawhon became an author and speaker on the subject of sales and marketing, writing two books, Selling Retail and The Selling Bible. His focus was on selling with integrity -- not merely overcoming a customer's objections, but "supplying the knowledge and information that the prospective customer needs to make the best buying decision" who will become satisfied customers "who become more satisfied as time goes by."

In a 1995 Tulsa World story about The Selling Bible by John Stancavage, Lawhon described his post-retirement quest to understand the success of super-salesmen who could make a sale four out of five times:

Lawhon's book probably will be controversial because it explodes the image of the "big closer" salesperson who bears down hard on customers until they buy simply to escape the mounting pressure. When the author talked to real top sellers, he found a totally different approach in common with almost all of them.

The real key for these salespeople was pleasing the customer, Lawhon discovered. Instead of trying to shove a product customers didn't want down their throats, super salespeople simply asked what the customers wanted, and then steered them toward a product or service that would satisfy that desire. Frequently, the salesperson soon was writing up a ticket, before a formal "pitch" had even been made.

These very successful sellers, however, would continue their presentation after money already had changed hands. They would explain the product's features and strong points, which would make the customer feel even better about his or her purchase and look forward to ownership.

A very important thing hapened here, Lawhon found: Regular customers became satisfied customers. And you cannot overestimate the value of a satisfied customer, the author says.

"Satisfied customers are the most valuable asset a company can have -- they actually are an appreciating asset," according to Lawhon. "They will return to buy again, and will tell their friends to shop there, too."

Lawhon employee Vince Mooney remembered Lawhon's generosity and professionalism, writing this tribute on his memory page:

I always felt that John Lawhon treated me like a son when I worked at JFL Furniture. I was ex-Air Force and a philosophy major in college. John loved to talk philosophy. After he bought a rare and very expensive car he'd often come and ask me if I wanted to use it on a date. He was the most generous man I ever met in business. An executive once admired his new digital watch which was the first to come out on the market. John took it off his wrist and gave it to the man. At one time John and I were the same size so he would give me really nice sport jackets and pants that he had worn only one or twice on TV commercials. He wanted me to look good on dates.

When I got engaged, John insisted I get a big diamond ring as a sign of my sincerity. "I can get it below wholesale for you," he said. And he did. (I'm sure he subsidized the ring to some extent.) Then he let me use the New Orleans condo for our honeymoon. This was right in the middle of the French Quarter. Now I was just the company copywriter, photographer, and PR person. John didn't know me before I came to Tulsa for that job.

Later I was the FTC policeman who audited all John's TV commercials to make sure he didn't ad-lib any FTC advertising violations (like calling something a Spanish Bedroom when it was not made in Spain). I'd stop the commercial and tell him, "That has to be Spanish design bedroom." John would grump and complain and then he'd cut the commercial the right way. Every time. It was amazing. John would cut a dozen commercials without a script or even fact sheet.

He knew the furniture inside and out and he was the best person there was to do the sales pitch. John could cut commercials faster than the warehouse people could set up the next piece of furniture. John was the type of 'larger than life' individual who would easily be many people's choice as my 'most memorable character' which was once a feature in Reader's Digest. John F. Lawhon will always live larger than life in my heart. John was a good man who was an honor to know. God bless John and all his family.

Anyone else feel particularly sad that this accomplished man seems to have been overlooked in his own town these past twenty years?


Not only is TulsaTVMemories.com a great place to learn about Tulsa's broadcasting history from the men and women who made it, it's a great place to discover (or relive, if you lived through it the first time) Tulsa's pop culture past. The site has recently upgraded its "Group Blog," where you can ask questions and share anecdotes with Tulsa media legends.

Indicted for "unlawfully divert[ing] Community Center funds for his own personal benefit in the approximate amount of $933,507.80":

Rev. Willard Jones, a pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church, faces three counts of wire fraud and one count of tax fraud. FOX23 learned a community center the church built was the vision of Jones. He helped design it and raised funds to build it. The U.S. attorney said he was also stealing a lot of those funds and living an expensive life, instead of serving this high-poverty area.

The church and the community center are in South Haven, a historically African-American community along the Tulsa-Sapulpa Union railway, southeast of the western I-44 / I-244 junction.

The South Haven neighborhood in West Tulsa was originally established in 1919 as an outlet for black families overflowing the city's then-flourishing Greenwood district. Following the 1921 Tulsa Race Riot, the population of South Haven swelled quickly with those fleeing the destruction in North Tulsa. By the time South Haven was annexed into the City of Tulsa in the mid-1960s, what had been a working class black area was largely integrated and the area fell into rapid decline. With absentee ownership and property vacancies becoming the norm, this "transitional neighborhood" experienced a sharp increase in crime and social problems.

South Haven was annexed into the City of Tulsa in the 1960s. If I recall correctly, prior to annexation the area had neither running water nor sewer. Assessor records show a handful of houses from the 1950s, a Tulsa Housing Authority subdivision built in the early 1970s, and many Habitat for Humanity homes built in the 2000s.

According to the church's website, Jones became pastor of the church in 1996 when the then 70-year-old church had only five members. The website states that the community center cost $7 million to build.

Here is the federal indictment of Willard Jones.

Jones shows up in a few cases on OSCN, including this ticket for speeding in Stillwater. According to the docket record, the fine was paid by the church.

OSCN also shows some larcenies by someone named William Leonard Jones, who has the same date of birth as the William Lenord Jones who had his speeding fine paid by Greater Cornerstone Baptist Church. That could be a coincidence or a clerical error.

The U. S. Attorney's Office of the Northern District of Oklahoma issued a press release on the Willard Jones indictment:

As the Executive Director, Jones oversaw the design, construction and fundraising for building the Community Center. Jones solicited monetary contributions from donors, including, foundations, corporations, churches and individuals, to fund the development project.

The scheme to defraud charged in the Information accuses Jones of fraudulently transferring funds from Community Center bank accounts to Church bank accounts and then transferring those funds into personal bank accounts; and, that Jones made large cash withdrawals from the Church bank account that he then used for personal expenses.

Rather than pay for construction operating costs of the Community Center, Jones used the proceeds of his fraud scheme for luxury items, including, hotels, restaurants, casinos, liquor, automobiles, a Rolex watch and a mink coat.

Which leads us to the musical question asked by Ray Stevens and originally posed by Chet Atkins and Margaret Archer:

The Oklahoma Council for Public Affairs (OCPA) and Americans for Prosperity Foundation are celebrating the 102nd birthday of Nobel Laureate and educational-choice champion Milton Friedman with snowcones at Tulsa's Mohawk Park Pavilion 2, tomorrow, Thursday, July 31, 2014, from 4 pm to 6 pm. It's a come-and-go event for the whole family, and door prizes will be awarded.


Friedman, with his wife Rose, wrote the best-selling book Free to Choose and hosted a PBS TV series of the same name, showing the essential connection between personal liberty and prosperity. Throughout his career, Friedman argued that meaningful parental choice in education would produce better schools better suited to students. Some quotes on the topic (links to original sources and context at the link):

"It is only the tyranny of the status quo that leads us to take it for granted that in schooling, government monopoly is the best way for the government to achieve its objective."
-- "The School Choice Advocate," January 2004

"Our goal is to have a system in which every family in the U.S. will be able to choose for itself the school to which its children go. We are far from that ultimate result. If we had that -- a system of free choice -- we would also have a system of competition, innovation, which would change the character of education."

-- CNBC Interview Transcript, March 2003

"Improved education is offering a hope of narrowing the gap between the less and more skilled workers, of fending off the prior prospect of a society divided between the "haves" and "have nots," of a class society in which an educated elite provided welfare for a permanent class of unemployables."

-- "The School Choice Advocate," July 1998

Ballard and Ballard

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Interesting coincidence:

Keith Ballard is the Superintendent of Tulsa Public Schools. He was appointed to the post in 2008.

Tulsa Public Schools is a client of the law firm of Rosenstein, Fist, and Ringold. According to the firm's website, that relationship began in 1932. In 2011, questions were asked about the amount of money -- over a half million a year -- the district spends with the firm each year.

Matt Ballard is an attorney with Rosenstein, Fist, and Ringold. He joined the firm in 2008 and was made a member in 2011. He is the Republican nominee for District Attorney in Rogers, Mayes, and Craig counties.

Keith Ballard is Matt Ballard's father.

Over on Conversation Catoosa on Facebook, there's a rumor about moving the City of Tulsa's Rolling Hills subdivisions from the Tulsa school district to the Catoosa school district.

This is an area southwest of Admiral and 193rd East Avenue that has been in the City of Tulsa since the massive 1966 annexation and has been in the Tulsa school district since the independent East Central school district was annexed into the Tulsa district in 1964. It is bordered by the City of Catoosa and the Catoosa School District on the north (across I-44 in Rogers County) and east (across 193rd East Ave. in Wagoner County).

Such a transfer would benefit the neighborhood, both school districts, and the City of Tulsa. The neighborhood once had Carl Sandburg Elementary School in the TPS system, but Sandburg closed in 2011. The "neighborhood" school is Kerr Elementary, over five miles away. I'm told that many students in the neighborhood transfer to Catoosa schools, where the furthest building is about three miles away, and the middle and high schools are barely a mile away. The neighborhood has always had strong cultural and economic ties to Catoosa.

Beyond this one half-section, it would make sense to move everything east of 145th East Ave. out of the Tulsa School District. The area was also home to Lynn Lane School and several never-developed TPS sites. East of 145th East Ave and south of 31st is already in the Broken Arrow School District, and that area has seen many new subdivisions in recent years. Transferring the area north of 31st and east of 145th to Catoosa would encourage new residential development within the Tulsa city limits and would increase the value of existing homes, and that increase in value would benefit all Tulsa taxpayers, by spreading the property tax sinking fund burden across a higher assessed value. City of Tulsa leaders would be smart to encourage the move.

Part of the City of Tulsa is already in the Catoosa district: part of the area in Wagoner County annexed in 2001 and the fenceline in Rogers County that extends to the Tulsa Port of Catoosa.

TPS would benefit, too, by no longer having to run bus service to the isolated subdivisions and acreages of east Tulsa. TPS might even be able to sell the Sandburg building and proposed school locations to Catoosa schools for their future expansion.

If I'm reading 70 O.S. 7-101 correctly, voters in the affected area could submit a petition requesting an election, and it wouldn't take many of them. Subsection B reads:

B. An annexation election shall be called by the State Superintendent of Public Instruction without the concurrence of the board of education of the school district which is proposed to be annexed, upon the filing of a petition with the State Superintendent of Public Instruction for annexation that is signed by a majority of the school district electors in the territory proposed to be annexed, hereinafter referred to as the area affected, said majority being applied to the highest number of voters voting in a regular school district election in the district in the preceding five (5) years as determined by the secretary of the county election board, who shall certify the adequacy of the number of signatures on the petition. The petition shall contain such information as the State Superintendent of Public Instruction may require.

The TPS board could choose to limit the election to the affected area or, if they wanted to give the petitioners a bigger hill to climb, could have the entire school district vote. I'd hope that TPS would see the benefit of ceding this sprawling territory with its attendant expenses.

Once upon a time, developers wanted to move rural school territory into the Tulsa district to attract suburban homebuyers. In the early 1950s, voters transferred a large section of the Union district into the Tulsa district -- everything now in the Tulsa district southeast of 21st and Yale.

But for several decades now, smaller suburban and rural districts have been more attractive to househunting parents than Oklahoma's largest single school district. Parents feel that suburban board members and administrators are more accessible and responsive, and a district with one high school is more of a cohesive community than a district with nine where the boundaries seem to be constantly changing. Parts of the City of Tulsa in suburban districts have thrived, while I suspect it's been over 30 years since a new middle-income housing development has been built within TPS boundaries.

MORE: A November 21, 2010 Tulsa World story lists earlier waves of school closings in the Tulsa district.

What an interesting night!

I had been at the watch party for Randy Brogdon, Ken Yazel, David Brumbaugh, and Chuck Strohm. The mood there was generally upbeat: Yazel had survived another establishment attempt to knock him off, winning re-election to another four-year term as County Assessor and Courthouse Gadfly with 64.8% of the vote. Brumbaugh won renomination to represent House District 76 with almost 75% of the vote. Strohm, running for the open House District 69 seat to replace Sydney Fred Jordan Jr, finished second but made the runoff.

Brogdon delivered an upbeat speech before the results began to come in and was as upbeat even after it was clear that no miracle was in the offing. He mentioned that he would be a grandfather for the first time later this year and urged the audience to continue to fight for liberty and for fiscal sanity for the sake of generations to come. He was, as always, a gracious gentleman. I've never seen him otherwise.

It was a pretty good night for the BatesLine ballot card.

Ken Yazel's re-election and sizeable margin was especially heartening.

My friend Jason Carini will be the new Rogers County Treasurer. He got into the race because no one else would run, and he wound up defeating a six-term incumbent. The incumbent DA and District 1 County Commissioner were both tossed out as well.

Republican DA Brian Kuester (Wagoner, Cherokee, Sequoyah, Adair Counties) won re-election by a wide margin. (No Democrat filed in an area that was once part of solid-Democrat Little Dixie.)

In the Tulsa County DA race, Steve Kunzweiler finished first with 46.8% and received a majority of the votes that were cast for the two actively-campaigning candidates, but State Sen. Brian Crain, who dropped out, got 13%. Jordan could gracefully drop out at this point, as Cathy Keating did in the 2001 special Congressional primary, but if he doesn't, it looks like there will have to be a runoff with the question of Jordan's eligibility still looming. (Could the State Election Board revisit eligibility at this point, as they certify the result of this election? Or must the court intervene? Will the court enjoin the State Election Board from certifying Jordan as a candidate for the runoff?)

For the first time in many years, a statewide incumbent official finished last in the primary. State Superintenden Janet Barresi not only finished behind Joy Hofmeister, who won the GOP nomination without a runoff, but she was beat by Brian Kelly, an also-ran four years ago. Some say that the last time something like this happened was 40 years ago, when scandal-tarred Gov. David Hall finished third to David Boren and Clem McSpadden in the 1974 Democrat primary. With 22% of the vote, Barresi wasn't beat quite as badly as Tulsa County Commissioner Randi Miller in 2008, but it was close.

Congratulations to City Councilors Jack Henderson, Jeannie Cue, and Blake Ewing, all of whom won re-election without a runoff. Ewing's principal opponent, Dewey Bartlett Jr's 2013 campaign manager Dan Patten, who raised $15,000 before the deadline, won 15% of the vote, not do much better than political novice Elissa Kay Harvill, who raised so little she didn't have to file paperwork, but won 6%.

In District 7, Republican incumbent Arianna Moore finished second to Democrat Anna America in the non-partisan primary, but there will be a runoff. Jonathan Turley finished a close third. Moore and America will face off in November, when partisan fervor is likely to energize Republicans and demoralize Democrats, at least here in the Sooner State.

It was not a good night for national Tea Party organizations. Mark McDaniel lost narrowly to decrepit incumbent Thad Cochran in the Mississippi Republican runoff for U. S. Senate. An important political difference between Oklahoma and Mississippi is that Oklahoma has party registration while Mississippi doesn't. In Oklahoma, if you're a Democrat or Independent on April 1, you can't become a Republican until September 1. In Mississippi, you may have voted in every Democrat primary for decades, but as long as you didn't take a Democrat ballot in the primary, you can take a Republican ballot in the runoff. Oklahoma's system is more consistent with the idea of a political organization choosing its own standard-bearer.

I've got a lot to say about the Oklahoma Senate race and why the national Tea Party groups failed to get their choice elected, but I'm too tired tonight.

And now, your moment of zen:

After many enjoyable conversations at the Brogdon/Yazel watch party, I drove into town to a coffeehouse to write this report and get a bite to eat. As I sat down, Paul Tay, candidate for Tulsa City Council District 9, who had been outside, walked in and made a determined beeline for my table. Not far behind him was Mike Workman, local Democrat activist and Labor Commissioner nominee. They had been at the Constance Johnson Tulsa watch party.

Tay, resplendent in a cowboy hat with an NRA sticker on the front, explained to me that his November opponent, Councilor G. T. Bynum, was overqualified for the Council, and what Bynum needs to do is leave the City Council, make a hard-right ideological turn, and prepare to run to replace Jim Inhofe in the U. S. Senate in six years. Why? Because Bynum in the Senate is the only way we'll get a federal earmark to pay for new low-water dams in the Arkansas River. The taxpayers won't pay for it, George Kaiser won't pay for it, so that leaves Uncle Sam.

The idea displays some insight, although Oklahoma conservatives wouldn't be likely to approve a candidate who supports earmarks, and Bynum has already burned several bridges with local conservatives. Local government is more often than not the graveyard of political careers. (Inhofe is a rare exception, but he lost re-election to a fourth two-year term as mayor in 1984 before a successful run for an open seat in Congress in 1986.) After a few minutes, Workman thoughtfully pointed out to Tay that I was probably writing on deadline and the two left.


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.

A few resources as you go to vote:

Thumbnail image for IVoted.jpgHappy Election Day! Polls open across Oklahoma at 7 a.m. and close at 7 p.m.

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, June 26, 2010. Postdated to remain at the top of the blog through poll closing time.

MORE: For your amusement, the story of when Mary Fallin's first husband proposed to her -- at the Playboy Mansion.

BatesLine Oklahoma primary election 2014 printable ballot cardHere are the candidates I'm recommending and voting for (when I can) in the Oklahoma primary elections on June 24, 2014. (This entry will change as I decide to add more detail or discuss additional races between now and election day. The entry is post-dated to keep it at the top.)

For your convenience, here's a printable one-page "cheat sheet" version to take along to the polls and pass along to friends, but please read the detail and click the links below.

U. S. Senate (unexpired term): Randy Brogdon. He's running a low-key campaign, but he has a consistent record of a conservative approach to government as city councilor, mayor, and state senator. There's a runoff, so there's no need to cast a tactical vote for one of the two front-runners. Vote your conscience. Vote for someone we know we can trust to do the right thing.

U. S. Senate (full term): Jim Inhofe. He annoys the left, particularly with his refusal to kneel to climate deniers (i.e., the anthropogenic global warming cultists who deny the Medieval Warm Period and deny the current stability of global temperatures). Good enough for me.

Governor: Dax Ewbank. While Gov. Mary Fallin eventually did the right thing on Obamacare exchanges and Common Core, her dithering on these clear-cut issues makes me worry about her decision-making in a lame-duck term. Fallin failed to establish a good working relationship with her own party's legislative leadership, culminating in her veto snit-fit, in which she killed several good bills, including some she'd requested, to make some sort of point. Fallin never took a stand against the National Popular Vote compact, a left-wing dream that had been slipped through the Oklahoma Senate early in the session. (More about NPV here.)

I don't believe Fallin deserves another term, but I'm not sure the other candidates have the resources to defeat the lone Democrat candidate, Joe Dorman, in November. I will likely cast a protest vote for Dax Ewbank, an IT professional and former pastor who calls for abolishing the state income tax. UPDATE: I'm not even sure Fallin is strong enough to win in November. At the very least she needs a wake-up call, and a guy whose name sounds like a Star Trek character seems to be the person to deliver it.

State Superintendent: Joy Hofmeister. Janet Barresi has made enemies across the political spectrum. Conservatives don't like her support for Common Core. Liberal public school administrators don't want to be held accountable by her school grading system. Those same administrators have heavily funded Joy Hofmeister's campaign, and Hofmeister's emails to some of those administrators at their official school email accounts display considerable hostility to school choice programs, including the Lindsay Nicole Henry Scholarship program that allows children with special needs to receive the education they need. I will likely cast a protest vote for Brian Kelly, the third candidate in the Republican primary. UPDATE: Conservatives I trust, including the ladies who led the fight to kill Common Core in Oklahoma, have convinced me that Barresi is not a friend of conservative, locally-controlled reform of public education and that Hofmeister, thoughtful and principled enough to oppose Common Core despite the alienation of some of her early supporters, is trustworthy. That remains to be seen, but at the moment Hofmeister seems to be the only hope we have.

Insurance Commissioner: John Doak. The incumbent has done a fine job representing Oklahoma's ratepayers in their dealings with insurers.

Corporation Commissioner: Former Speaker Todd Hiett. A good rule of thumb is to vote for the Corporation Commission candidate with the smallest bankroll. As one of my friends put it -- Hiett is a square-dealer, Branan is a wheeler-dealer. Hiett was an honorable and honest Speaker of the House. Hiett has been endorsed by State Auditor Gary Jones, who has worked closely with both candidates over the years. Hiett opposes mandatory smart meters.

The other candidate, State Sen. Cliff Branan, is backed by bajillionaires who might have an interest in regulating certain energy sources out of existence. Branan is one of the doofuses who voted in favor of the National Popular Vote Compact, SB 906 and has never apologized, as far as I am aware. Branan has also been endorsed by Ed Apple, who wanted to replace Bob Anthony, a beacon of courage and integrity at the Corporation Commission, with a Democrat utility company lobbyist. While there are a few good people backing Branan, many more people I trust are endorsing Hiett.

Senate District 12: John Knecht. The incumbent, President Pro Tempore Brian Bingman, voted for the National Popular Vote compact and allowed it to slide through the Senate before the public knew what was happening.

House District 31: Jason Murphey. An IT professional, Murphey has received national recognition for his efforts to modernize and streamline state government's use of computer technology and to make public information more readily available to the public online. He is a principled conservative who doesn't take any gifts from lobbyists.

House District 69: Chuck Strohm This is an open seat that will be decided in the GOP primary. Strohm is a software engineer, a member of the Jenks Planning Commission and school bond oversight committee, and is the grassroots conservative candidate in the race. Strohm authored the county GOP's precinct organization manual. His chief opponent has names on her reports that link her to the Chambercrat wing of the party.

House District 76: David Brumbaugh. Incumbent Rep. Brumbaugh has been a consistent conservative voice for Broken Arrow. He deserves particular praise for putting forward a bill to to require counties to include all funds in their annual budgets. Brumbaugh was one of eight legislators to receive a 100% on the Oklahoma Constitution's annual conservative index.

House District 98: Terri Cleveland. This is an open seat in Wagoner County that includes Broken Arrow and Coweta and will be decided in the GOP primary. I've known Terri through Republican Party politics for over a decade, working together on many campaigns and committees. After working as a campaign and organizational consultant, she went to work for the City of Broken Arrow, representing the concerns of this growing city at the state capitol. Her opponent, Michael Rogers, is heavily funded by special interest PACs, but he has the endorsement of outgoing incumbent John Trebilcock and the Oklahoma Conservative PAC.

Tulsa County District Attorney: Steve Kunzweiler. With 24 years of experience as a prosecutor, Steve Kunzweiler is the Chief of the Criminal Division in the DA's office, mentoring 35 assistant DAs and overseeing the prosecution of thousands of criminal cases every year, over 12,000 in 2013 alone. His opponent is a legislator in search of his next gig and doesn't appear to be eligible to serve.

Tulsa County Assessor: Ken Yazel. In the State Auditor's annual review, Yazel's team has the highest rating of any county assessor office in the state. The only stalwart ally for fiscal conservatives at the county courthouse, Yazel has pushed for full financial transparency, including all county funds in the annual budget (like Oklahoma County does), not just new general fund money. The county officials who back his opponent have resisted that idea, even lobbying against it at the State Capitol.

Tulsa County Commissioner District 1: Brian Pounds. Northern and eastern Tulsa County needs a change in this office. Pounds has county courthouse experience from his work in the assessor's office. The incumbent wasted taxpayer time and money by putting two ill-advised tax packages on the ballot, taxes that were ultimately shot down by the voters. Rather than taking the challenge to fund criminal justice needs without raising taxes, he voted to put a county sales tax hike on the ballot instead. The incumbent is said to have been a ringleader of the resistance to total county budget transparency.

Rogers County Treasurer: Jason Carini. Carini, a successful small-business owner and lifelong conservative Republican, is challenging an incompetent incumbent who hasn't issued tax warrants at any time during her 23 years in office.

District Attorney, Adair, Cherokee, Sequoyah, and Wagoner Counties: Brian Kuester. Kuester is finishing his first term as DA of this district that sprawls from the suburbs of Tulsa to the suburbs of Fort Smith and has achieved a 200% increase in the number of cases tried.

Tulsa City Council District 2: Jeannie Cue. Cue is a voice at City Hall for the neighborhoods of her district, particularly the oft-forgotten west side of the river.

Tulsa City Council District 4: Blake Ewing. Ewing has been a leader on the City Council. He is unafraid to ask the questions that need to be asked of the mayor and department heads. As we approach the adoption of a new zoning code, Tulsa's historic neighborhoods need Blake Ewing at the table. Ewing understands land use and planning issues as a homeowner, as a businessman invested in reviving District 4 neighborhoods, and as a student of what makes a city grow and prosper.

Ewing's chief rival, Dan Patten, was Dewey Bartlett Jr's campaign manager. When the mayor's campaign manager decides to run against the mayor's leading critic, the campaign manager has the burden of proof to show that he's not just running at the behest of his client. At a recent forum, Patten seemed not to have any understanding of the purpose or history of land-use planning.

Ewing's endorsement of Kathy Taylor was disappointing, but the alternative was Bartlett Jr, who had also endorsed Taylor for re-election on the strength of her first-term performance. When Bartlett Jr alienates one set of city councilors, manages to defeat nearly all of them at the polls, and then alienates the new set of city councilors who replaced them, it's apparent where the problem lies. Ewing also points out that it was Bartlett, not Taylor, that pushed for the Vision2 corporate welfare slush fund.

Elissa Harvill, a newcomer to Tulsa politics, displayed admirable enthusiasm and a strong foundation of principle during the TulsaNow forum. What's missing, at this early point in her time in Tulsa, is knowledge of the particulars of Tulsa history and governance. As she gets involved and learns her way around, I expect she'll make many positive contributions to our civic dialogue.

Tulsa City Council District 7: Arianna Moore. Republican incumbent Moore's leading challenger is liberal Democrat Anna America, Kathy Taylor's campaign manager.

District 14 District Judge, Office 14: Kurt Glassco. Despite his background as a Democratic candidate for Congress many years ago, Judge Glassco is well-regarded by conservative Republican attorneys as a fair and skillful arbiter. John Eagleton writes: "Judge Glassco has my respect. I have appeared in his court and observed him handling hundreds of cases. He is a great judge. He follows the law without injecting personalities into the outcome. We need more judges like him."

One of his opponents, Jill Webb, is the "partner" of Unitarian clergyperson Tamara Lebak. Question for the reader: If someone would twist the words of Scripture and disregard the consensus of all civilized societies in order to justify sexual perversion, is it reasonable to expect them to show due regard for our state's laws, constitution, and judicial precedent?

MORE: The ladies who led the fight to repeal Common Core in Oklahoma have posted their personal endorsements. All four like Dax Ewbank for Governor; three of the four support Brogdon for Senate (the fourth supports USAO Professor Kevin Crow); three of the four back Steve Russell in the 5th Congressional District (the fourth supports Harvey Sparks); and all four want Robert Hubbard to unseat incumbent Frank Lucas in the 3rd Congressional District.

The Oklahomans for Life 2014 primary candidate questionnaire is online. There are separate sets of questions for state and federal candidates, and you can read the full text of the questions to which the candidates are responding.

OCPAC head Charlie Meadows has posted his personal picks. He wants to see all three incumbent GOP congressmen who drew challengers -- Mullin, Lucas, and Cole -- replaced by their challengers.

Muskogee Politico Jamison Faught has posted his picks.

NOTE: Tulsa County Assessor Ken Yazel was on 1170 KFAQ with Pat Campbell and Eddie Huff at 7:35 a.m. Tuesday.

UPDATE 2014/06/25: In an 8-1 decision today (Winchester dissenting), the Oklahoma Supreme Court overturned the Court of Civil Appealsand remanded the property tax appeals to be considered on their merits. The Supreme Court affirmed that the Legislature has given County Assessors the authority to use their general counsel for appeals, rather than being shackled to counsel supplied by the District Attorney's office or the Oklahoma Tax Commission. For Yazel, who won re-election with 65% of the vote, this is icing on the cake.

Tulsa County Assessor Ken Yazel's challenger has made an issue of Yazel's 2012 decision against Montereau's application for a total exemption from ad valorem taxes. The fair market value of the upscale senior residential complex was estimated at $178,990,029. Yazel validated that 40% of the facility was legally qualified for tax exemption as a state-licensed continuum of care facility, based on the proportion of the facility devoted to those 154 licensed beds, but the remainder -- independent living apartments and cottage homes that require an entrance fee ranging from $198,000 to $1.2 million just to get in the door, plus a monthly fee in the thousands -- was taxable under state law, with a tax bill of over $1.5 million.

Montereau protested Yazel's decision, won in district court, and Yazel, as authorized by state law, appealed to the Court of Civil Appeals (COCA).

Yazel's opponent has described Yazel's pursuit of the appeal a "waste of resources." The simple version of his argument as I understand it, is that, because state law specifically grants an exemption for state-licensed continuum of care facilities, the entire property should be exempted from ad valorem taxes. The counterargument is that taxable property shouldn't be exempt because it sits on the same parcel as property that is exempt.

While Montereau and the William K. Warren Medical Research Center (WKWMRC, which owns the land and leases it to Montereau) are both 501(c)(3) non-profits, not every activity of a non-profit is exempt from all taxes under Oklahoma law. Article X, Section 6 of the Oklahoma Constitution exempts "property used exclusively for religious and religious purposes" as well as government-owned property, free museums, and several other specifically enumerated exemptions. State statutes grant other exemptions. As far as I can tell, none of the constitutional or statutory exemptions cover market-rate housing. However much he might want to, the County Assessor can't grant an exemption that isn't authorized by law.

(Yazel's opponent, John Feary, has received a significant amount of his reported campaign funds -- $10,150 out of $36,311 by my count -- from Warren family members, Warren Foundation and Montereau board members, a Montereau executive, and (judging by the addresses) a couple of Montereau residents. Montereau and WKWMRC were created by the William K. Warren Foundation.)

Tulsa County taxpayers have a great deal at stake. If Montereau is right, property owners will have a strong incentive to take otherwise taxable uses off the tax rolls by lumping them in with a relatively minuscule tax-exempt use. That means the burden of paying for property-tax-funded government (schools, libraries, county operations, city and school bond issues, etc.) will fall more heavily on the rest of us.

This is particularly true for the sinking funds that pay back the general obligation bond issues that fund projects like streets and school improvements. The millage rate for sinking funds is calculated by dividing the debt service requirements for the year by the assessed value of property in the jurisdiction. It's basic fractions: If the denominator goes down (by removing property from the tax rolls) while the numerator stays the same, the millage rate goes up on the property still on the tax rolls. This means a tax increase even for seniors who have a valuation freeze. If Montereau gets its exemption, seniors who can afford expensive Montereau accommodations will benefit at the expense of seniors living in their own modest homes and younger property owners decades from retirement.

By fighting this battle, Ken Yazel is fighting to keep our tax rates from going up. With all due appreciation for the Warren Foundation and the institutions spawned by it and affirming their right to pursue their legal remedies vigorously, Oklahoma property taxpayers had better hope that Yazel prevails in this case.

At this point, however, Yazel is blocked from pursuing this fight by COCA's bizarre theory that he can't appeal without using an attorney from the District Attorney's office. Yazel filed his appeal using the general counsel that he is authorized to hire under 19 O.S. 527. The law was passed in 2005, recognizing that certain county offices needed legal expertise in technical areas to carry out their duties, and that such expertise may not reside in the DA's office.

COCA has taken a statute that requires the DA's office to assist the assessor in pursuing an appeal and turned it into an effective veto over the assessor's judgment. Yazel has appealed COCA's ruling to the Oklahoma Supreme Court, which has granted certiorari. (Yazel's petition has a copy of COCA's ruling attached.) In an amicus curiae brief in support of Yazel's position, attorneys for the County Assessors Association of Oklahoma and County Officers and Deputies Association of Oklahoma write:

In effect the COCA's decision would allow the district attorney or the Oklahoma Tax Commission to determine the issues of ad valorem tax law to the exclusion of the judicial branch of government. COCA's decision would eviscerate the power invested in the judicial branch to say what the law is, while closing the courthouse doors and leaving no effective remedy for an assessor to fulfill his or responsibilities absent district attorney approval.

The brief goes on to show that COCA's ruling contradicts numerous precedents.

In its published decision, the COCA effectively held that the failure, unwillingness or inability of a district attorney to fulfill its duty to represent an assessor under § 2880.1(D) somehow extinguishes an assessor's right to appeal under § 2880.1(A), thereby preventing the assessor from fulfilling his or her duties in connection with the assessment and collection of ad valorem tax. There simply is not, nor has there ever been, any language in what is now § 2880.1 suggesting that an assessor's right to appeal is conditioned upon the district attorney's review of a tax case and that district attorney's willingness to appear in such appeals on the assessor's behalf. The COCA's decision is plainly contrary to the decisions of this Court holding that courts are "not free to rewrite the statute" and must "vigorously resist reading words or elements into a statute that do not appear on its face.

In footnotes to the above paragraph, the brief lists "four occasions [in which] this Court has decided appeals under § 2880.1 or its predecessor statutes where no district attorney had entered an appearance." The amicus brief also quotes the court's ruling in a "situation strikingly similar to that in this case" (1980 OK 96, 614 P.2d 45, 06/17/1980, State ex rel. Howard v. Oklahoma Corp. Commission):

The foregoing language of Article IX s 20 does not bar Commission's attorneys from appearing for it. It clearly is implicit from the language of 74 O.S.1971 s 18c that the ... Commission may appoint its own in-house counsel.

Likewise, the right to be represented by counsel ordinarily should include the right to make a choice, if timely exercised, of attorneys whose views are consonant with one's own or who at least will present the client's interests....

If then, the Commission may be brought into court . . . , Sections 6 and 7 of Article 2 of our State Constitution, . . . under any concept of affording it any semblance of even-handed justice, must require that it be represented if it so desires, by counsel who can and will ably and conscientiously express its views to the tribunal. . .. Commission may properly be represented in this case by its own in-house counsel (employee-attorneys).

The right to counsel undergirds all our other rights. If someone can force an attorney on me who may work to thwart my aims, I really don't have legal counsel at all. If an elected official is forced to rely on counsel at odds with him, it ultimately thwarts the will of the voters who elected that official.

To me, COCA's ruling looks like the latest example of an attempt to control an elected official's performance of his duties by denying him legal counsel to support the actions he believes he needs to take. This entry is long enough already without delving into the efforts by the Cockroach Caucus to prevent the Tulsa City Council from hiring its own attorney, forcing the Council to rely on the Mayor-appointed City Attorney, even when the Mayor's aims and the Council's aims are at odds.

A candidate runs on a platform and once elected, if he has integrity, he implements that platform. Sometimes he will need legal advice to know how to proceed or to deal with legal challenges from opponents to his policies. This is especially important when the official is a reformer, sent by the voters to change the way government operates; he will encounter resistance from those whose interests are aligned with the status quo.

Just as a besieged army uses trenches, mines, and razor wire as multiple lines of defense against an attacking force, so the defenders of the political status quo have multiple ways to block reform. The first layer is to use campaign money to persuade voters to keep the reformer out of office. If a reformer manages to win an election, they can attempt to co-opt him. If that fails, they can launch a PR campaign attacking the reformer as a petty bickerer or worse. They can attempt to entice and entrap him in wrongdoing. They can exert pressure via friends and family. They can sue him and then deny him access to counsel.

Voters need to realize that the forces denying legal counsel to the elected official are not merely thwarting the elected official but the voters who put him in office.

The precedent set by the Oklahoma Supreme Court, quoted above, is crystal clear. If the Supreme Court is consistent, Yazel will be allowed to pursue his appeal and the original issue -- does a tax exemption rub off on the taxable uses attached to the exempt use? -- will be considered and resolved. If voters are wise today, we'll still have Ken Yazel as Tulsa County Assessor to pursue this fight on behalf of taxpayers and his fellow county officials all across Oklahoma.

MORE: A few more notes regarding the discussion on Monday's Pat Campbell show:

I've looked at all the Budget Board minutes available online, going back to July 2011. Most Budget Board meetings appear to be routine and brief, with votes to approve retroactively a long list of appropriations that have already been made. Ken Yazel has personally attended all Budget Board meetings at which the budget for the upcoming fiscal year's budget was discussed or significant adjustments to the budget were discussed. Like every other Budget Board member has done, Yazel sends his chief deputy to attend when he is unable to be present. Only twice in the last three years, at routine meetings, has no one been present to represent the assessor's office.

According to Yazel, the Tulsa County Assessor's Office headcount is ten below the number recommended for a jurisdiction the size of Tulsa County. While Oklahoma County has more parcels, it has, as the capital city, a much larger number of tax-exempt government-owned parcels, which are not assessed at all. Large swaths of northern and eastern Oklahoma County consist of undeveloped property; bare land requires less effort to assess than real estate with improvements.

Regarding the Vision 2025 surplus funds: The projected grand total revenues, as of September 2013, totaled $730.5 million. That's about $195 million more than the $535 million in projects approved in 2003. This accounting of remaining Vision 2025 obligations, cash on hand, and projected revenue from December 31, 2013, shows a projected surplus of $35.7 million. If you add back in the $45.5 million that was "promised" to the suburbs in exchange for the extra $45.5 million for the BOK Center (a promise whose existence was denied during the 2007 River Tax debate), that's $81.2 million, plenty to have handled our criminal justice needs without a tax hike.

A couple of weeks ago, I discussed Tulsa County's lack of budget transparency -- not illegal, but not in the taxpayers' best interest, and not as good as Oklahoma County. In my endorsement of Yazel, I discussed the different colors of money and how millages and budgets could be adjusted to meet county needs without raising taxes, if the County Commissioners had the political will to do so.

Dear James Lankford, your scaremongering about a runoff to raise money is shameful. Unless the nominee is caught in a Minneapolis airport restroom with a wide stance, there is no way the GOP will lose Tom Coburn's seat. Your November opponent will either be a very liberal pro-abortion state senator who proposed frivolous amendments to a pro-life bill, the perennial candidate who ran against Coburn in 2010 and got only 26% of the vote, or the perennial candidate who listed his occupation as "plasma donor" when he filed for State Senate in 2004. If any of those three potential opponents worries you, you either don't have the guts to represent us in Washington, or you have plans for a Minneapolis restroom rendezvous.

Three of the seven candidates in this race have experience in elective office -- a member of the U. S. House, a former mayor and leader in the State Senate who has run a statewide campaign, and a former Speaker of the State House. It's normal for a primary with three credible candidates to go to a runoff.

P. S. Tom Coburn has not endorsed you to succeed him, although you are trying very hard to give voters that impression. Coburn expressed dismay about the bad things independent groups are saying about you, and Coburn expressed dismay about the bad things your independent-expenditure pals are saying about one of your six opponents.

Dear judicial candidate Jill Webb: A quote from Mary Fallin and a reference to the Constitution on a postcard is not going to fool conservative Tulsa County voters into voting for the female "partner" of a female Unitarian minister, endorsed by the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, to be a District Judge. Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid have all sworn to uphold and defend the Constitution, but their actions show that they redefine the meaning of that commitment in a way that would be unrecognizable to the Framers of the Constitution. Your Clintonesque account of your personal life ("happily married to a minister") seems plainly intended to create a false impression, and it suggests that you have a rather flexible relationship with "telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth."

If you want my vote for Tulsa City Council, one of the worst things you can do is tell me that former Mayor Susan Savage wants you to win. Savage was one of the worst mayors we've had when it comes to neighborhood empowerment and sensible zoning. Yes, she encouraged the registering of neighborhood associations, but she and her team worked against neighborhoods trying to build effective influence at City Hall over zoning issues that affected their property value and quality of life. Ask residents of Maple Ridge Central about how the Savage administration thwarted their efforts to protect their historic neighborhood. Her 1997 "Tulsa Project" plan would have sacrificed the area we now call the East End or Hodge's Bend to become a parking lot of a soccer stadium. That proposed tax increase failed, as did her tax hike proposal in 2000. While she brought speakers to Tulsa to talk about urban design, she didn't expend the political capital to move any ideas forward, not if it risked alienating her Chambercrat and developer backers. Ultimately, it took the neighborhood-friendly Gang of Five City Councilors to fund a new comprehensive plan. The most Savage would do was to fund three pilot small-area plans; fifteen years later we're still fighting resistance to implementing the recommendations of those plans.

Another thing you can do to make me regret my endorsement is to send a letter that refers to the "constant petty bickering" of the 2009-2011 City Council. The reality is that the nine councilors got along very well with one another and worked together across partisan lines. The problem, from Dewey Jr's point of view, is that they were united in their distress with Dewey Jr's actions and his refusal to build a cooperative working relationship. So Dewey Jr and his Chamber and developer buddies promoted the "petty bickering" meme and redrew the district lines to separate these councilors from the citizens who knew and appreciated them. The same people who wanted them gone want you gone, too, and for the same reasons.

There is a repeating pattern: A new reformer comes to the Council and arrogantly thinks, "The reason my bozo predecessors got tossed is they refused to be intelligent and polite in their approach. I'm going to be intelligent and polite and everyone will love me and accept my ideas." Guess what? Your "bozo" predecessors thought the same thing about their predecessors. No, the problem is that their ideas and your ideas are threatening to certain special interests, and they will paint you as a troublemaker and a petty bickerer so that low-information voters can't wait to toss you out of office.

To repeat what I wrote five years ago:

Lakin's critique of some current councilors reminds me of what I've heard from other councilors in the past about their predecessors. The gist of it: "If they'd just be nicer, people would pay more attention to the substance of what they're saying." Many of the councilors who have said that in the past have later learned the hard way that as soon as you challenge the power or the budget of some entrenched interest, everyone will think you aren't nice, no matter how nicely you make your case. The newspaper will run pictures that make you look angry. The mayor will accuse you of bickering. And then some council candidate will come along and tell you that if you'd just be nicer, people would pay more attention to the substance of what you're saying.

Have some respect for the councilors who blazed this trail before you. Because of their willingness to take risks and endure ridicule and defamation, the Overton Window is open a little wider for you.

And finally: If your bulk-mail house doesn't know how to remove duplicates from your address list, you need to get a better bulk-mail house, one who won't waste your mailing and printing budget.

Here is a playlist of videos from TulsaNow's June 4, 2014, Tulsa City Council District 4 candidate forum. Incumbent Blake Ewing and challengers Danny Patten and Elissa Kay Harvill participated in the forum.

Former Tulsa County Republican Party Chairman J. B. Alexander has announced his endorsement of Brian Pounds, Republican candidate for Tulsa County Commissioner District 1. Pounds is challenging two-term incumbent John Smaligo. The district covers northern and eastern Tulsa County, including Owasso, Skiatook, Sperry, Collinsville, north and east Tulsa.

In his endorsement, Alexander points out that Brian Pounds has been endorsed by the Tulsa County Deputy Sheriff FOP and the Owasso FOP. Alexander reviews Smaligo's record and explains why Smaligo needs replacing and why Pounds should be the one to take his place. I agree.

The state of Oklahoma has the lowest taxes of any of the surrounding states. Yet Tulsa County has the second highest taxes of any county in the surrounding states. That's just not right.

Over the past 7 years John Smaligo has a proven track record of wanting to keep our taxes high. In 2012 he led the county commissioner's support of the failed Vision 2 tax increase.

If you will remember Vision 2 was a thirteen year, $748 million tax package (the amount was based on a zero percent growth. Using the past ten year growth rate the amount would have been close to $1 billion).

This tax package included borrowing money FOUR years before the revenues would be coming in. Since we would have been borrowing the money yearly payments would be required. So this package also included borrowing the yearly payments for those four years until the revenues started coming in. That's like charging something on your credit card knowing you couldn't make the monthly payments until next year so you take out a loan to make the monthly payments...paying interest on all of this. Sounds like Washington, DC, tactics.

John Smaligo also is claiming credit for getting 1,000 new jobs with the Macy's warehouse development west of Owasso. What he is not telling you are most of those jobs are part-time, no benefit positions. And taxpayers are paying Macy's to move here at the upfront cost of $2 million.

If Tulsa County is going to work to attract new businesses who are looking for lower taxes we need someone who is not a career politician and understands working class folks.

Brian Pounds is just that person. Brian has worked in the Tulsa County Assessor's office for the past thirteen years and is a reserve deputy for the Tulsa County Sheriff's office. He is married to Judy Pounds who is an 18 year veteran of the Tulsa County Sheriff's office. Brian and Judy live in Owasso and have two daughters, Tabitha Wood and Ashley Pounds. Tabitha is a five year veteran of the Tulsa County Sheriff's office and a Senior Airman with the 138th Fighter Wing of the Oklahoma Air National Guard. Brian is also a veteran of the US Army.

Brian has received the endorsements of the Tulsa County Deputy Sheriffs Fraternal Order of Police and the Owasso Fraternal Order of Police.

Brian is a person who has spent his life serving those in need and will continue that dedication once elected as a Tulsa County Commissioner. He believes that tax dollars should be spent on Public Safety and Infrastructure needs first and would work hard to lower our high tax rate.

If we are going to get Tulsa County recognized as a low tax county that will attract small and large businesses then we need Brian Pounds as our District 1 county commissioner.

Next Tuesday vote for Brian Pounds for County Commissioner.

Terry Simonson pushes through Mayor Dewey Bartlett Jr's office doorTerry Simonson was on 1170 KFAQ with Pat Campbell this morning, arguing the case for State Rep. Fred Jordan's eligibility to be elected District Attorney. Simonson's LinkedIn profile indicates that he is the Director of Governmental Affairs for the Tulsa County Sheriff's Office and the President/Owner of Pathways Consulting & Government Relations, LLC.

(MORE: Assistant DA Steve Kunzweiler, who filed the petition to resolve the eligibility issue, called into KFAQ later Tuesday morning. Listen online at the link.)

Simonson assumed, incorrectly, that I looked only at statutory and constitutional language and not at case law in researching my article on the ineligibility of Fred Jordan to be District Attorney. In fact, every page of statute and constitution and court opinion on OSCN has links at the bottom of the page to cases and Attorney General opinions in which the provision is cited, so it's easy to see how courts have interpreted the law over the years. I've also had conversations with attorneys who have brought relevant cases and AG opinions to my attention.

There's no dispute about when Jordan's term expires. It's clearly set out in 14 O.S. 137 as November 19, 2014. The question is when the new DA would be considered elected.

Addressing Simonson's specific points:

1. Had Simonson read Steve Kunzweiler's petition before calling in, he would have seen that it was being brought to the District Court for Oklahoma County. The first paragraph states that venue is proper in Oklahoma County under 12 O.S. 133 and 12 O. S. 1653, as the case involves an official action of the Oklahoma State Election Board, which is situated in Oklahoma County. The State Supreme Court is not involved at this point.

2. This issue couldn't have been settled four weeks ago, because it only became an issue two weeks ago, on June 3, when Gov. Fallin signed HJR 1096, causing the emoluments of the District Attorney to increase. It was only at that point that Jordan and Crain officially became ineligible under Article V, Section 23. (When the measure passed the Senate on May 23, having already passed the House, Crain saw the handwriting on the wall and stepped aside.)

3. This issue doesn't affect State Rep. Joe Dorman, a candidate for Governor, because the bill in question did not increase the Governor's salary. In fact, HJR 1096 Section 3 amends 74 O. S. 250.4 subparagraph 1 to exclude the Governor's salary from increasing as a result of the increase in judicial salaries (the underlined language was added to the law by HJR 1096):

1. The Governor shall receive a salary equal to the salary received by the Chief Justice of the Oklahoma Supreme Court; provided however, the Governor shall not receive any increase in salary as a result of the provisions of Section 1 of this resolution;

The same section of the measure also explicitly excludes all other statewide elected officials from receiving a pay raise. The same sort of language could have been added to exclude District Attorneys from the pay raise, but it was not.

4. Simonson claims that the DA is not elected until the canvassing of votes by the Legislature after the organization of the House in January, after Jordan's term as a State Representative expires. He cited Gragg v. Dudley (1930 OK 280), which cites Article VI, Section 5. Article VI covers the state's executive officers, which are enumerated in
Section 1(A):

A. The Executive authority of the state shall be vested in a Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of State, State Auditor and Inspector, Attorney General, State Treasurer, Superintendent of Public Instruction, Commissioner of Labor, Commissioner of Insurance and other officers provided by law and this Constitution, each of whom shall keep his office and public records, books and papers at the seat of government, and shall perform such duties as may be designated in this Constitution or prescribed by law.

Nothing in Article VI deals with District Attorneys. Gragg v. Dudley involved a legislator seeking the office of Lieutenant Governor, which is listed by name in the above section as one of the state's executive officers.

Note that each of these officers, both explicitly listed and named by implication, is required by the State Constitution to "keep his office and public records, books and papers at the seat of government." The seat of government is specified in Article V, Section 26, as the place the Legislature is required to meet in regular session. In fact, the Gragg v. Dudley ruling cites that very provision. 73 O.S. 1 declares that "The seat of government and capitol of the State of Oklahoma shall be and is hereby established at Oklahoma City, in the county of Oklahoma, in the said state...."

Clearly, the District Attorney for District 14 (Tulsa County) does not keep his office, public records, books, or papers in Oklahoma City. At the time Gragg v. Dudley was decided, the office of District Attorney did not exist. There were County Attorneys in Oklahoma until 1967, when the district system came into effect, under which most DAs serve multiple counties. Despite that change, District Attorneys still have a significant connection to county government, as the office is created under Title 19 (Counties and County Officers), and the DA must provide legal advice and defense to county officers and employees in the conduct of their duties, while the counties provide the DA's office space, including utilities and maintenance.

The DA's offices are, therefore, in the county courthouses for the counties in his district. In District 14, there is one county, Tulsa, and one DA's office, in the Tulsa County Courthouse, not in Oklahoma City. District Attorney is, therefore, not an office covered by Article VI, and the requirements of Article VI, Section 5, cited in Gragg v. Dudley would not apply.

Note also that on our ballots, the District Attorney's race appears under "Legislative, District, and County Officers," along with the race for County Assessor and County Commissioner, and not under "State Officers."

Also, 26 O.S. 5-102 lists those offices for which candidates are required to file with the State Election Board, and district attorney is listed separately from state officers:

Candidates for United States Senator, United States Representative, state officer, State Senator, State Representative, district judge, associate district judge and district attorney shall file Declarations of Candidacy with the Secretary of the State Election Board.

While "state officer" is sometimes defined differently for the purposes of a specific section of the law, here, in the context of election, it must mean only the statewide elective offices, as legislators, judges, and district attorneys are listed separately.

5. 19 O.S. 215.20 says that the term of the District Attorney's office begins "on the first Monday of January following his election." Article V, Section 26, of the Constitution says (emphasis added)

The Legislature shall also meet in regular session at the seat of government on the First Tuesday after the First Monday in January of each odd numbered year, beginning at twelve o'clock noon for the purposes only of performing the duties as required by Section 5 of Article VI of the Constitution and organizing pursuant to the provisions of this Article and shall recess not later than five o'clock p.m. of that same day until the following first Monday in February of the same year, beginning at twelve o'clock noon.

If a District Attorney is not elected until January 6, 2015, as Simonson claims, his term of office could not begin until January 4, 2016.

6. So when is a District Attorney elected? For every office other than those listed in Article VI, a candidate is given a certificate of election by the appropriate election board -- state election board for legislative and district officers, county election board for county and municipal officers.

26 O.S. 8-103 says:

The county election board shall certify a list of successful candidates for county offices and shall provide Certificates of Election to the same following the General Election, except that Certificates of Election may be issued to unopposed candidates after 5 p.m. on the second day following the close of the filing period. The State Election Board shall certify a list of successful candidates for offices for which the Board accepts filings of Declarations of Candidacy and shall provide Certificates of Election to the same following the General Election, except that Certificates of Election may be issued to unopposed candidates after 5 p.m. on the second day following the close of the filing period.

According to 26 O.S. 8-108, those certificates would be issued at 5 p.m. Friday after the general election, barring any contest that would affect the DA's race. Since the last possible vote in the DA's race will happen on August 26, any recounts and contests will have been resolved long before November 7 at 5:00 pm, when the State Election Board will issue a certificate of election, 12 days before the end of Jordan's term as a member of the State House.

Steve Kunzweiler, the Assistant DA seeking the open Tulsa County District Attorney's seat, has filed a petition in Oklahoma County District Court seeking a ruling on the eligibility of his two opponents in the June 24, 2014, GOP primary. A legislative action taken after the April filing period made the two legislators in the race constitutionally ineligible to be elected or appointed to the job, under Article V, Section 23, of the Oklahoma Constitution. One of the two, State Sen. Brian Crain, has withdrawn from the race, but the other, State Rep. Fred Jordan, refuses to withdraw.

The heart of the question is when the legislative term ends and when the DA is considered elected. Jordan's term does not end until November 19, 2014, but the new DA will be elected prior to that date.

Kunzweiler is asking the court to rule that Crain and Jordan are both ineligible and that neither can be certified as elected. Kunzweiler notes, "The office of District Attorney is too important to public safety to risk a period of disruption and confusion. The election of a constitutionally prohibited candidate to the office could call into question and subject to legal challenge every official act taken by the newly-elected Tulsa County District Attorney."

Here is a press release from the Kunzweiler campaign:


DA candidate Steve Kunzweiler asks court to declare opponents Fred Jordan and Brian Crain ineligible to be elected DA

TULSA, Okla., June 16, 2014 - Republican Candidate for District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler today filed a petition in Oklahoma County District Court asking the court to declare candidates Fred Jordan and Brian Crain ineligible to be elected Tulsa County District Attorney.

The action claims Kunzweiler is entitled to a declaratory judgment finding:

a. That Crain and Jordan are constitutionally prohibited from being elected to the Office of Tulsa County District Attorney pursuant to Article V, Section 23 of the Oklahoma Constitution; and

b. That the state Board of Election is constitutionally prohibited from certifying either Crain or Jordan as elected to the Office of District Attorney.

Kunzweiler's petition cites the Oklahoma State Constitution's prohibition against Legislators increasing pay of an elected official and then seeking election to that office while they are legislators.

State Representative Fred Jordan and State Sen. Brian Crain are candidates for DA along with Kunzweiler. On May 23, 2014, the Legislature voted to increase the pay of state judges and district attorneys. Sen. Crain then publicly acknowledged that the action prohibits him from seeking the DA office and suspended his campaign, although his name remains on the ballot. Jordan claims that the prohibition does not apply to him and has continued campaigning for the office.

On June 3, 2014 Governor Mary Fallin signed HJR 1096 into law, rendering both Jordan and Crain ineligible for election. The Oklahoma Constitution Article V, Section 23 provides:

No member of the Legislature shall, during the term for which he was elected, be appointed or elected to any office or commission in the State, which shall have been created, or the emoluments of which shall have been increased, during his term of office . . .

According to Kunzweiler's petition, the election of a constitutionally prohibited candidate would call into question every official act of the Office of Tulsa County District Attorney.
Kunzweiler, an Assistant District Attorney in Tulsa County and a 24-year prosecutor, said, "I did not ask to be put in this position. Since the governor signed this into law, I have asked many different attorneys to research the law to determine whether Jordan could be considered eligible for election. After consultation with them, it is clear to me that Jordan's candidacy violates both the spirit and the letter of the law. The Oklahoma Constitution clearly states this," Kunzweiler said.

"The actions of the Oklahoma Legislature - of which Jordan is a Majority leader - put me in this position. I took an oath of office to uphold the Oklahoma and US Constitutions. It is my duty and my obligation under the Constitution of Oklahoma to raise this issue and to resolve it," Kunzweiler said.

"The office of District Attorney is too important to public safety to risk a period of disruption and confusion. The election of a constitutionally prohibited candidate to the office could call into question and subject to legal challenge every official act taken by the newly-elected Tulsa County District Attorney beginning January 1, 2015. Our citizens need to be protected without interruption. Based upon Oklahoma's Constitution, it is apparent that neither Jordan nor Crain can be elected or appointed to the Office of Tulsa County District Attorney come January 1, 2015.

"I honor and respect State Senator Brian Crain, who recognized that he could no longer run for this office based upon the pay increase. He announced that he was withdrawing from the election. That was the correct thing to do because it was required by Oklahoma's Constitution," Kunzweiler said. "Jordan is also subject to the same Constitutional prohibition that Senator Crain faced."

"As I said at the outset - I am a prosecutor - not a politician. As a prosecutor I am obligated to follow the rule of law. I am sworn to uphold our Constitution. I am doing what the law requires me to do."

MORE: Steve Kunzweiler's petition to the Oklahoma County District Court regarding eligibility of candidates for Tulsa County District Attorney.

Steve_Kunzweiler-Tulsa_County_DA.jpgAfter 16 years in office, Tulsa County District Attorney Tim Harris is stepping down. Three Republican candidates filed to replace him, but one candidate quit the race because of a constitutional impediment to his election, and a second candidate should stand down for the same reason, but he refuses to do so, risking a protracted legal battle should he win. Our next district attorney will be chosen by voters in the June 24, 2014, Republican primary.

Happily for Tulsa County citizens, the one candidate in the race who is unquestionably eligible to serve is Assistant District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler, who is the most qualified, by experience and temperament, to serve as District Attorney.

There are three aspects to the District Attorney's job: Prosecuting criminals, mentoring and managing a team of prosecutors, and partnering with public officials and community leaders to advance the cause of justice. Steve Kunzweiler is the only candidate with extensive and current experience in every aspect of the DA's job.

With 24 years of experience as a prosecutor, Steve Kunzweiler is the Chief of the Criminal Division in the DA's office, mentoring 35 assistant DAs and overseeing the prosecution of thousands of criminal cases every year, over 12,000 in 2013 alone. Beyond the courtroom, Kunzweiler works with legislators, police departments, victims, and community leaders to provide training and improve the process so that bad guys receive their just punishment and Tulsa County residents are safer.

One example of Kunzweiler's innovative approach to his job is his advocacy for the use of therapy dogs to accompany child abuse victims when they testify in court. A courtroom can be a frightening place to a child, particularly when arguments get heated and voices are raised. In the past, an adult counselor has sometimes been allowed to sit with a child witness, but that raises concerns that the adult might prompt the child's testimony. That could open the door to exclusion of the child's testimony and the acquittal of an abuser or to the conviction of a wrongly accused defendant.

Tulsa County Assistant District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler with a therapy dogSteve Kunzweiler's solution is to have a therapy dog accompany the child in the witness box. The dog can't offer any prompts. These dogs are selected for a calm temperament and trained to remain calm in the midst of commotion. They reassure the child that all is well, even in this strange environment. Kunzweiler writes on his website:

When a child witness is accompanied to court by a dog that he or she has bonded with in pretrial preparations, the effects are immediate and profound. The trust, acceptance, and tactile comfort of a friendly dog changes the physiology of the nervous child. Human heart rate decreases and blood pressure falls in the presence of therapy dogs. The child may simply feel safer to recall past events, even with an audience of strange adults in the courtroom.

During the just-ended legislative session, Steve Kunzweiler worked with State Rep. Pam Peterson to pass a law authorizing the use of therapy dogs statewide. Kunzweiler has also successfully worked with legislators to add many other reforms to criminal law: expanding the statute of limitations for the reporting of child abuse, increasing the range of punishment for drunk driving offenders who seriously injure their victims, allowing the introduction of hearsay evidence for developmentally delayed children, allowing repeat child abusers to be impeached with their prior crimes.

While Kunzweiler works effectively with the legislative process, he is new to electoral politics. He is a Republican and a conservative, but his focus has been his calling as a prosecutor and a leader of prosecutors, rather than partisan politics. Some politicians have sought the DA's office as a platform for running for governor or congress, but Kunzweiler has no ambitions beyond being able to continue to pursue his vocation as a prosecutor. Steve Kunzweiler sees himself as the next DA in a long line of non-politician DAs, like Buddy Fallis, David L. Moss, and Tim Harris.

Steve Kunzweiler's family life underscores his conservative temperament. He has been married for 25 years to Dr. Christine Kunzweiler, a veterinarian. Steve, Christine, and their three daughters are active members of Christ the King Catholic Parish. Steve earned his undergraduate degree at the University of Missouri then came to Tulsa to earn his law degree at the University of Tulsa Law School in 1988. He's been here ever since.

A recent article about Kunzweiler gives you a sense of his heart for his vocation:

He has an old, ragged file in a desk drawer, labeled "This is Why I Do It!" The folder is bursting with pictures of people he's fought for in court - a 10-year-old girl in her cheerleader uniform. An 18-year-old in a baseball uniform with a bat on his shoulder. A proud tuxedo-clad papa walking his daughter down the aisle in a wedding gown.

The photos depict happy, smiling people enjoying life, often on some of the most important days of their lives - graduation, weddings, family celebrations. The photos
are reminders to Kunzweiler that the victims had dreams and goals and active lives that were stolen from them and from their families.

"Too many times, the criminal justice system is all about the defendant. We don't hear much about the victim. I am the victim's voice in court, and I want to know as much as I can about who they were and what was happening in their life," Kunzweiler said.

Steve Kunzweiler has been endorsed by outgoing DA Tim Harris, the Tulsa Area Republican Assembly, and FOP chapters in Owasso and Glenpool.

It's necessary to say a few words about Kunzweiler's opponent. The same constitutional prohibition that caused State Sen. Brian Crain to withdraw applies equally to State Rep. Fred Jordan, but Jordan has invented a rationale to dodge the clear language of the Oklahoma Constitution. It is worrisome that the man who wants to be our county's chief legal officer isn't willing to abide by the plain meaning and spirit of a constitutional provision that has been in place since statehood. Setting that issue aside, there is still the matter of Jordan's lack of preparation for the job he seeks. Jordan's brief experience as a prosecutor is over a decade old, in a very different legal context than Tulsa County.

But I'd rather focus on Steve Kunzweiler, the highly-qualified man of character who has served the people of Oklahoma as a prosecutor for nearly a quarter-century and has the servant's heart and preparation to step up one level from his current job to serve as our District Attorney. I urge you to elect Steve Kunzweiler for Tulsa County District Attorney on June 24 and to encourage your friends to do the same.

ken_yazel.jpgSeveral important elections will be settled in the June 24, 2014, Republican primary. Between now and then, I will be posting endorsements, starting with an enthusiastic recommendation that I can make without hesitation.

Tulsa County Assessor Ken Yazel is one of those rare elected officials who has remained true to the principles on which he was elected and to the voters who elected him, despite heavy pressure from special interests and their media mouthpieces. At the same time, Yazel has fulfilled his assigned duties diligently, leading the top-rated assessor's office in Oklahoma. Tulsa County taxpayers are blessed to have Ken Yazel in office. Republicans need to vote on June 24 to keep Ken Yazel as our assessor for another four years.

Detractors call Yazel a contrarian, but to Tulsa County taxpayers, Yazel is a trusted ally, friendly, accessible and ready to help. We need more elected officials like him.

When there's a bandwagon pushing toward higher taxes and more difficult access to public information, when the other elected officials take an "us vs. them" attitude, in which their fellow officials are "us" and the taxpayers are "them," we need at least one contrarian at the county courthouse who is pushing in the opposite direction, toward fiscal sense and government transparency. Ken Yazel has been there for Tulsa County taxpayers, standing firm and taking flak on our behalf.

Yazel has done an outstanding job with public access to information and keeping properties fairly and consistently valued, and he's often been the lone voice at the Tulsa County Courthouse speaking on behalf of the taxpayers.

In Oklahoma, a county assessor's primary job is to ensure that properties are fairly valued and that every property is reviewed at least once every four years. The State Auditor's office has given Ken Yazel's office the highest rating of any county assessor's office in Oklahoma -- 265 points out of a maximum score of 275. That means that under Yazel's leadership, the office carefully and consistently follows the rules to ensure a fair valuation for every property -- even if means stepping on the toes of some powerful people.

As one of the eight members of the County Budget Board, Yazel has been pushing to have Tulsa County follow Oklahoma County's good example and account for every penny under county control in the annual budget. Tulsa County's practice has been to budget only new funds that have to be appropriated, but to exclude earmarked money or carryover funds. Sadly, the other county elected officials have opposed him on this point and have even lobbied against legislation that would require full county budget transparency.

Notwithstanding a dubious "transparency" award, most Tulsa County departments make it hard to find the info you want online. I spent some time looking for the 2014-2015 budget that was approved this week. I don't give up easily, and I tried several different approaches, but ultimately did not find what I was looking for. I found plenty of notices, agendas, and minutes, but not even a draft of the new budget book.

Another example of Tulsa County's typical approach to web access: If you want to look at filed deeds, plats, and other land-related records, you have to go to the County Clerk's office during their office hours and go through a metal detector. Just to look at metadata for those records requires you to go to a library during the library's regular hours.

Under Ken Yazel's leadership, Tulsa County assessor records are easily accessible from home any time day or night. You can search by name, by legal description, or by clicking on Google Maps. From your own property's record, a click of a button lets you see recent sales in your subdivision and comparable properties that influence the assessed value of your home. Beyond property information, Yazel's county assessor website has a wealth of detail on ad valorem taxes and how they are calculated and all the information you need to file for exemptions and valuation freezes to which you may be entitled.

Yazel's outreach to the public isn't limited to the web. He speaks to neighborhood associations, civic groups, and other gatherings all over the county to help people understand ad valorem taxes, and he brings his team along to help property owners get their specific questions answered. During the period for filing homestead exemptions and valuation freezes, Yazel sets up "sub-offices," taking the process to where people live all across the county, rather than make taxpayers come down to the courthouse and go through the metal detector. Yazel sets up the assessor's office booth at the Tulsa State Fair, home shows, and local festivals where taxpayers can ask questions and get information on exemptions.

Yazel is a voice, too often the only voice, for the taxpayers at the Tulsa County Courthouse. When other county officials pushed the poorly conceived river tax and Vision2 tax plans, Yazel was the only county official with the courage to speak out in opposition. By doing so, he gave a big boost to the underfunded but ultimately successful campaigns to defeat those corporate welfare and pork barrel boondoggles. Those who benefit from county tax programs and revenue bonds no doubt would like to see Yazel gone, because they want all county elected officials singing the praises of the Vision 2025 replacement tax when it comes to the voters in 2016.

When other county officials proposed increasing taxes to fund criminal justice facilities, Yazel proposed alternatives to pay for the facilities without raising taxes.

You may have noticed, as I have, that certain property taxing entities which receive a fixed millage always have an abundance of funds, some to the point of being able to build a new building without blinking an eye. While it would not be a simple matter, if the political will existed at the county courthouse, a vote could be scheduled to reduce millages for overfunded entities to make room, say, for a bond issue for more critical capital improvements, at no net increase in property taxes or sales taxes. That is the sort of process that Yazel has been advocating and that his detractors have mischaracterized. No one is saying that you could simply take funds from one entity and give it to another.

Other county offices derive a considerable amount of revenue from statutory fees, but these fees are not included in the county budget, although Yazel believes that they should be. Even the carryover funds from the previous year are not included in the county budget, even though they are available for the elected official to spend. In his plan to fund criminal justice needs without raising taxes, Yazel suggested that, because of their considerable cash reserves, the County Clerk and Treasurer's offices could receive less money from the general fund and that the money saved could be used to fund competitive salaries and technology upgrades for the Sheriff's office.

Likewise, if county commissioners were willing to pledge Vision2 funds four years before they would be collected, it was surely possible to allocate funds from the remaining Vision 2025 collections to have paid for the juvenile justice facility and jail expansion. It would not have been a simple matter, and it would have required some combination of public votes to authorize the change in use, but it could have been done if the political will had existed.

Given the choice between (1) a rearrangement of public funding that required some effort and coordination but kept tax levels the same and (2) proposing a tax increase, county commissioners opted for the tax increase, while turning Yazel's plan for public improvements without a tax increase into a straw man and mischaracterizing it as impossible. Even if there had been minor flaws in his proposal, his fellow elected officials could have proposed adjustments and alternatives in keeping with the spirit of the idea. Instead, the other Tulsa County officials refused to cooperate with Yazel's taxpayer-friendly proposal.

Yazel is committed to ensuring that no one pays more property tax than is legally required, but he is also committed to ensuring that everyone is assessed in accordance with state law. State law makes the assessor the gatekeeper for property owners claiming that their property is tax exempt. That includes the responsibility to ensure that a previously granted exemption is still valid under the law. Like many assessors across the US (here's one example), Ken Yazel is finding some properties with exemptions don't meet the strict requirements of the Oklahoma Constitution and statutes. On occasion, a property owner disagrees with the assessor's interpretation of the law, and the matter goes to court.

When a property is undervalued or receives an exemption to which it is not entitled, every other taxpayer has to pay higher property taxes to make up the difference. Much of your property tax burden is used to repay general obligation bonds or court settlements. Each year, the excise board determines how much money each taxing authority (cities, schools, the library system, etc.) needs to cover its obligations. That amount is divided by the assessed value of all properties in the jurisdiction, and the result is the millage rate applied to every property. Your property tax rate is a fraction, and when a large, expensive property is undervalued or unjustly exempted, the denominator shrinks significantly and the millage goes up, raising everyone else's taxes.

It would be easy to give in to the erroneous tax exemption claims of the rich and powerful, just because they have the money to make trouble for you in the next election, but to do so means raising taxes on everyone who can't raise as big a stink. Ken Yazel is doing his duty on behalf of the taxpayers by strictly applying the law and, when necessary, pursuing questions of interpretation through the state court system. (UPDATE: More about a specific case here.)

As they have in previous elections, interests that don't appreciate Ken Yazel's advocacy for the taxpayer are backing an opponent. The race will be decided in the Republican primary.

The daily paper's editorial board endorsed Yazel's opponent, as it has done over the last several elections. The Whirled editorial writers' biggest beef with Yazel seems to be that he wanted to fund new facilities without raising taxes. A commenter on the Whirled editorial noted: "Also notice that the TW makes no mention whatsoever of actual professional qualifications, certifications, etc. [of Yazel's opponent]. The main selling point of [Yazel's opponent] seems to be that he will shut up and do what he is told. Not good qualifications for my vote."

I appreciate Ken Yazel, because he will speak out when taxpayers need a friend at the County Courthouse. I appreciate the high professional standards to which Yazel holds himself and his staff at the assessor's office. I appreciate an elected official who sets the standard for transparency and public access to public records.

I urge you to join me in voting to re-elect Ken Yazel as Tulsa County Assessor on June 24, 2014.

MORE: Former State Rep. John Wright gives ten reasons why Ken Yazel should be re-elected. Prominent in his reasons is that Yazel has built a well-educated professional staff, with very little turnover. Every member of Yazel's staff, even those not engaged in assessment, have gone through certain professional classes on assessment to ensure that anyone speaking to the public has a proper understanding of the property tax system and the role of the assessor's office.

UPDATE: Detailed analysis of some of the criticisms leveled against Ken Yazel

Tulsa County Clerk Pat Key says she is tired of Tulsa County Assessor Ken Yazel's annual push for budget transparency.

Yazel has repeatedly voted against the county's budget, saying it does not provide a complete accounting of all county revenues and expenditures. He made the same argument Monday, and again, other Budget Board members were not buying it.

"I, for one, am tired of revisiting this same issue over and over again," County Clerk Pat Key said. "I don't know how many more opinions or court cases that we have to give before we don't discuss this same thing over and over again."

While state law only requires the county budget to cover money that must be appropriated (principally property tax revenues that go into the county's general fund), Assessor Ken Yazel believes that taxpayers deserve a full accounting of every penny under the control of county officials, and he points to Oklahoma County as the example to follow.

Oklahoma County's total budget for Fiscal Year 2013-2014 covers $180.7 million: $132,019,665 in revenues, $48,712,216 in beginning fund balance, $149,331,246 in expenditures, and $31,400,635. Tulsa County's budget for the same year was $83.6 million. Why is Oklahoma County's budget twice as big as Tulsa County's budget? Because Oklahoma County budgets all funds, all sources of revenue, and all expenditures, even if they involve earmarked revenue sources.

Tulsa County's budget includes only the bare minimum required by law. Previous year surpluses in non-appropriated funds, some of them under the sole control of an elected official, can be kept off-budget and out of the budget book. (I would link to the newly adopted budget, but I can't find it online.)

State Rep. David Brumbaugh (R-Broken Arrow) filed a bill (HB1986) in the first session of this Legislature to raise the budget transparency standards for county governments. It's my understanding that Tulsa County elected officials (other than Yazel) successfully lobbied the legislature to keep the bill from coming to a vote.

One of the lovely features of Oklahoma County's budget book is that you can see when an elected official spends an unusually big pile of money from a designated fund under her control. Maybe it was for an important upgrade that will benefit taxpayers and other citizens. Or maybe the big expenditure was the result of poor judgment. If taxpayers can easily see all of the county's financial information where they expect to find it -- in the budget -- they can ask questions about these sorts of expenditures. Maybe that's why the non-Yazel elected officials at the Tulsa County Courthouse are fighting this idea.

Maybe it's because they've shown such poor judgment in other respects -- like appointing to the juvenile justice authority a woman who plotted to frame her ex-husband as a child porn collector and molester and then hiring that same person as the County Clerk's chief deputy -- there's some poor financial judgment that they'd like to make as inaccessible to the public as they are legally able.

Counties are required by law (19 O.S. 444) to publish an annual payroll report. Oklahoma County posts its report, as well as a monthly payroll report, on the county clerk's website, and the files are in Excel format -- easy to search and process.

I'm sure Tulsa County complies with the letter of the law, but I have been unable to find the required annual payroll report on any county website. In fact, when I used a search engine to look for it, I find Oklahoma County's report instead. Perhaps I need to go downtown to the courthouse and go through the metal detector to be able to look at the report.

Tulsa County Clerk Pat Key has done an impressive job of hindering public access to public records. If you want to look at a plat of your subdivision -- a drawing that shows the streets and lot lines and easements and sometimes also lists applicable covenants -- you have to drive downtown to the County Courthouse during office hours, pay for parking, and go through a metal detector. If you want to look at a title deed or a lien or some other legal document that has been filed with the County Clerk, it's the same routine -- office hours only, pay for parking, get magnetometered and have your wallet x-rayed. Just to see the metadata for deeds and other documents -- buyer, seller, date, parcel, document number, etc. -- you have to go to a public library during library hours and use a special computer. That's just so you can plan your trip to pay for parking and go through a metal detector to see a digital image of the actual document.

The Oklahoma County Clerk's office makes land records and UCC filings -- including images -- available online, any time day or night, from anywhere on the internet. It's my understanding that the Tulsa County Clerk's system is capable of that, from which I infer that Pat Key chooses not to make these public records available for convenient public review.

So no one should be surprised that Tulsa County Clerk Pat Key would oppose Assessor Ken Yazel's efforts to make complete county revenue and expenditure information readily available to the public in the budget.

By contrast to Pat Key's limited public website, Assessor Ken Yazel's website is well-organized and provides easy access to information on every parcel in Tulsa County, any time day or night, from anywhere on the Internet. You can search by name and address, and if you don't know the address you can click on a Google map.

Ms. Key, if you want to stop revisiting the issue of full budget transparency over and over again, do the right thing. Go above and beyond the letter of the law to provide the public with the information it ought to have. Instead of fighting with the one county elected official who has demonstrated a commitment to governmental transparency and fiscal conservatism, work with him. Follow Ken Yazel's excellent example instead of sniping at him.


There is a way to get internet access, of a sort, to County Clerk records. It costs $30 a month, and the Board of County Commissioners has to vote in one of its regular meetings to approve your application for access. So to review: Oklahoma County offers free, anonymous access from anywhere to public land records. Tulsa County, under Pat Key's leadership, offers $30 a month, subscriber-only access and only to those subscribers approved by the County Commissioners.

One more thing: It seems like there was a time when you could access Tulsa County land records metadata at home and could see the images if you went to the library. Anyone else remember when that changed?

MORE on HB1986:

Here is the language that Rep. Brumbaugh's bill would have added to the County Budget Act, 19 O.S. 1408, 1411, 1412, 1414. This is the level of disclosure that Oklahoma County provides and that Assessor Yazel had hoped his fellow Tulsa County elected officials would support, even if the law doesn't require it. Strikethrough is deleted text, underline is added text:

Section 1408. The county budget board shall prepare for each budget year a budget for each fund whose activities require funding through appropriation from the budget board for which there is a reasonably anticipated fund balance or revenues. The county budget shall include each fund for which any department head or elected official has spending authority, irrespective of the fund type or whether or not the fund is, either by law or accredited budgeting standards, subject to appropriation.

Section 1411. A. On or before a date set by the county budget board, the county excise board shall provide a tentative estimate of anticipated revenues from all sources, classified by funds, for the succeeding fiscal year. For the purposes of this section, "all sources" means any reasonably anticipated revenue for any fund of any department or elected office within the county. For the purposes of the County Budget Act, fund balances shall be treated as revenue. The county excise board shall arrive at the tentative estimates independently. In furtherance of this requirement and the other requirements of the county excise board, the county excise board is authorized to hire appropriate staffing on either a permanent, full-time, part-time, temporary, or contract basis. The county budget board shall include in its annual budget sufficient funds for these purposes.

Section 1412. The county budget board shall hold a public hearing on the proposed budget no later than fifteen (15) days prior to the beginning of the budget year. Notice of the date, time and place of the hearing, together with the proposed budget summaries, shall be published in a newspaper of general circulation in the county not less than five (5) days before the date of the hearing.... Budget summaries shall be grouped by department or elected office and shall include beginning fund balances for each department or elected office and for the county as a whole.

Section 1414. A. In addition to any other powers and duties granted to the county excise board in this act, the board shall act in an oversight capacity with respect to the county budget. The county excise board shall examine the county budgets.

Forty years ago today, June 8, 1974, there was a massive tornado outbreak and widespread flash flooding in northeastern Oklahoma. At least 10 tornadoes touched down (possibly more from the long-track supercell that killed 12 Drumright residents and two others). For Tulsans who were kids in the '70s, it was the first major weather disaster we had witnessed.

According to the National Weather Service, it was Tulsa's costliest weather disaster to date and has since been surpassed only by the 1984 Memorial Day Flood and the 1993 Tulsa/Catoosa tornado. Two F3 tornadoes passed through Tulsa's city limits, the second one touching down before the first one had finished with us.

Everyone had heard about an "old Indian legend" that the hills and the bend of the river protected Tulsa from tornados. But which Tulsa? The settlement around the Creek Council Oak? The Tulsa of 1918 that didn't extend south beyond 21st Street or east of Lewis? The Tulsa of 1957, when the newly completed expressway connecting the turnpikes was dubbed "Skelly Bypass"? The Tulsa of 1974 reflected the tripling in Tulsa's size that took place in 1966. All the tornado damage occurred in areas beyond Tulsa's early-day boundaries, and Brookside was the only area within the pre-1966 boundaries that was damaged.


The east Tulsa neighborhoods around 21st and Garnett that were hit were mostly very new at the time. Nearby neighborhoods were hit by another tornado on December 5, 1975. I always thought of the area as a tornado magnet.

It was a Saturday, and Mom had taken me to Oertle's (a locally owned department store 26th & Memorial) so that I could buy a gerbil. I had wanted a gerbil because I had seen one at school -- I forget whether it had belonged to the teacher or to a classmate. I named her Herbie, because a gerbil's shape reminded me of a Volkswagen Beetle. We came home with Herbie, a plastic Habitrail Deluxe Set (the big cage with the wheel and the tower), and official Habitrail food and litter. (Everything was orange or yellow. It was the '70s.) I seem to recall we were in a hurry to get home because storms had been forecast and the sky looked ominous.


There had already been tornadoes in Oklahoma City earlier in the afternoon. We would have been listening to KRMG on the AM-only radio in our Chevy Kingswood Estate station wagon as we drove home.

Some time after we got home we heard the tornado warning on the radio. Although we lived in Wagoner County, we were in the far northwest corner, in the then-unincorporated Rolling Hills subdivision, so we paid attention when Tulsa County's name was called for a storm.

In our little house at 416 S. 198th East Ave., there was no basement, so taking cover meant that Dad pulled the foam mattress out of the back of the station wagon and the four of us huddled under it in our little hallway. Someone, probably Dad, also opened the windows away from the direction of the storm, in hopes of equalizing pressure and preventing the house from exploding. (That practice is now deprecated.)

Sometime after the storm had passed, my mom's next-to-youngest sister and her husband arrived. They had been at the Camelot Hotel for an event and were stuck in traffic on I-44 for hours trying to get to our house.


Mobile phones were practically non-existent. None of the TV stations had radar. I think weather radio existed, but we didn't have one.

Those are my memories of June 8, 1974. What are yours?


KJRH spoke to ORU Dean Clarence Boyd, Jr., who was a student on the second floor of an ORU dorm that lost its third floor to the tornado.

KOTV talked to residents of the Walnut Creek neighborhood, which was damaged by the second Tulsa tornado. One house was damaged by a piece of the ORU administration building from almost a mile away.

Tulsa World has a collection of its photos from the June 8, 1974, tornado aftermath.

TulsaTVMemories.com has a photo of the tornado damage in Brookside north of the KTEW/KVOO studios and the recollections of Michael Evans, who rode out the storm in Tulsa's first and at the time only Arby's at 42nd and Peoria.

I locked the south door and noticed I could no longer see across the street. I turned to lock the north door and out of the corner of my eye saw both picnic tables were airborne. My reaction was to flinch because milliseconds later they pushed through the glass front. I have no idea what happened after that because for about 20 minutes I was unconscious.

Stacy Richardson was on the air on KAKC, in the Trade Winds West at 51st and Peoria, the night of the tornadoes, at least until the power went out for every AM station except one. Sonny Hollingshead remembers tornado damage to Bell's at the Fairgrounds. David Bagsby remembers going to 31st and Mingo to try to rescue a friend stuck in a flash flood. Tulsa also received five inches of rain that night. More Tulsa tornado memories. More Tulsa tornado memories. Even more Tulsa tornado memories. Still more Tulsa tornado memories.

The Tornado Project has a list of all tornadoes touching down in Oklahoma between 1950 and 2012.

tulsaNow-logo.pngTulsaNow is hosting a forum for the candidates for Tulsa City Council District 4. The candidates will face off in the June 24, 2014, primary election. The forum will be held on Wednesday, June 4, 2014, beginning at 6 p.m., at Foolish Things Coffee, 10th and Main in downtown Tulsa.

Blake Ewing, restaurateur and urban planning enthusiast, is the incumbent, first elected in 2011. He is being challenged by Danny Patten (Dewey Bartlett Jr.'s campaign manager in 2013), Elissa Kay Harvill, and Julian Morgan.

Depending on the distribution of the primary vote, there will either be a three-way runoff in August, followed by a two-way general election in November, or else there will be a two-way general in November (if the top two candidates have more than 50% of the vote), or no further elections (if one candidate has more than 50% of the vote).

DIstrict 4 stretches from Gilcrease Museum Road and the Arkansas River east to Yale Ave and from I-244 south to 31st Street (except for the triangle between Harvard, the Broken Arrow Expressway and 31st). The district includes downtown and is home to a tremendous amount of adaptive reuse of historic properties as well as a number of contentious zoning and land-use-planning conflicts.

Candidates will each give a five-minute opening speech, followed by questions and answers.


Many of my hipster urbanist friends are very fond of food trucks. Food trucks today offer a wide variety of cuisines and a wide range of sophistication and price. The mobility of the kitchen allows the restaurant to go where the customer is. Better food can be offered for a lower price because the truck avoids some of the costs that attend a brick-and-mortar eatery. There are no restrooms to clean and stock, no dining room to manage, no tables to clear, no dishes to wash. Cashier and sous-chef duties can be handled by family members; no need to deal with the complexities of being an employer.

The owner/chef can take his skills to where the customers are, and when the customers aren't there, he can park the truck at home and pursue other work. When demand is high, he can run his truck seven days a week. When it's slow, he can shut down for a while without the ticking of the rent clock. Food-truck fans are rightly concerned to protect this innovative approach to food delivery from regulations that seek to eliminate the food truck's competitive advantages under the guise of protecting the public health.

Many of these hipster urbanists are also very concerned about funding cuts for Tulsa Transit, the regional bus service. The system is almost unusable. Every year or so, I take a trip by bus. I'm always frustrated by the long headways (period between buses on a route), long layover times, and limited hours. Only those who have more time than money choose to ride Tulsa Transit. For many, the only alternative is to pay for an expensive taxi ride on the occasions when time matters and friends aren't available to provide a ride.

The solution most frequently proposed is to implement a tax to provide the bus system with a consistent stream of revenue which can pay for more buses, more drivers, and more frequent service. The problem with that approach is that you're going to wind up with excess capacity most of the time, just to ensure that someone can catch a bus on short notice.

What's the most efficient mechanism for allocating supply to demand? The free market, as long as barriers to entry and the allocation of supply are kept to a minimum. Which reminds me of this joke from the Unix fortunes file:

On his first day as a bus driver, Maxey Eckstein handed in receipts of $65. The next day his take was $67. The third day's income was $62. But on the fourth day, Eckstein emptied no less than $283 on the desk before the cashier.

"Eckstein!" exclaimed the cashier. "This is fantastic. That route never brought in money like this! What happened?"

"Well, after three days on that cockamamie route, I figured business would never improve, so I drove over to Fourteenth Street and worked there. I tell you, that street is a gold mine!"

The absurd element that makes this funny is that everyone knows buses are supposed to follow a fixed route, even though, unlike streetcars, they could be moved to meet demand, even though they never are.

The debate over the regulation of food trucks reminds me of a similar debate 100 years ago. Streetcar companies had been granted franchises by cities to lay track and hang wire on certain streets. The companies made massive capital investments, but they were hamstrung by city regulations and, sometimes, union contracts setting maximum fares and minimum staff levels.

To give you a sense of the struggle between streetcar company and city government, in 1922, the Oklahoma Union Traction company decided to stop running its St. Louis Ave. line to Orcutt Park. The popular amusement park had given way to private development around what we now call Swan Lake. Demand along the line had dropped. OUT wanted to stop running the line but didn't want their competitor, Tulsa Street Railway, to take it over. Presumably the rails and wire had reuse or scrap value as well, so OUT began pulling its infrastructure out of St. Louis Ave., over the objections of the City of Tulsa. The state Corporation Commission, regulator of intrastate rail, was drawn into the dispute.

Early adopters of the private automobile figured out that they could make money toward gas and car payments by driving along streetcar routes ahead of the next trolley and picking up passengers for a nickel (or "jit") each. Passengers liked jitneys because they got where they were going faster and more comfortably than if they waited for the next streetcar. Streetcar companies hated jitneys, because they stole the fares the companies needed to cover their capital investment and fixed costs.

Streetcar companies fought back with political muscle, persuading city councils to pass restrictions and bans on jitneys, bans that persist to this day. The Institute for Justice, which provides pro-bono support for economic liberty cases, worked to overturn Houston's anti-jitney law in 1994:

Santos v. City of Houston. Like Ego Brown, Houston entrepreneur Alfredo Santos discovered an untapped market. A cab driver, Santos discerned a need for a third transportation alternative beyond expensive taxicabs and highly subsidized public buses. He discovered the solution in Mexico City: the "pesero," or in English, the "jitney."

Jitneys are a transportation mainstay in large cities around the globe. They run fixed routes and charge a flat fee, like buses. But they pick up and discharge passengers anywhere along the route, like taxis. They are smaller and more efficient than buses and less-expensive than taxis. They also are ideally suited to low-capital entrepreneurship.

Santos began using his cab during off-duty hours as a jitney, operating in low-income Houston neighborhoods. The business was successful, quickly attracting other jitney operators. But the city quickly shut the industry down, invoking its "Anti-Jitney Law of 1924."

In the 1920s, jitneys were the main source of competition to subsidized streetcars. The streetcar companies lobbied in city halls across the country, all but exterminating jitneys. Seventy years later the streetcars are nearly all gone, but the anti-jitney laws remain. Today they are supported by the public transportation monopolies that replaced the streetcars.

Santos challenged the law in federal court, which struck it down as a violation of equal protection and federal antitrust laws. The city did not appeal the ruling, thereby allowing another favorable economic liberty precedent to stand.

(You can read the Santos v. City of Houston jitneydecision online. And here's an article from half a year later about Santos's vision for jitneys, the taxi industry's push for regulation, and support from Houston's transit authority.)

Santos argues that entrepreneurs and the marketplace, not the government, should decide whether there is a demand for jitneys. Santos, 41, has spent more than ten years fighting for jitneys. A cab driver for ten years, Santos had seen jitneys working in Mexico City, where they are called peseros. Wearing a cowboy hat so potential passengers could easily spot him, he would drive East End streets holding out fingers for the number of places available in his cab. Yellow Cab found out about the practice and threatened him with the loss of his cabby's lease if he didn't go back to running his meter as required by law....

Santos says jitneys will attract poor people and immigrants who don't own automobiles and are reluctant to call cabs because of the high cost and poor service. Chernow, however, says that about a third of Yellow Cab's trips originate in low-income, minority neighborhoods.

The secret to operating a jitney, Santos says, is to run the route religiously, make lots of quick trips, and develop new customers. Perhaps a driver will occasionally deviate to take a passenger home in a pouring rain, he concedes, or help someone get their groceries to the doorstep. But the driver will need to return quickly to the route to maintain the quality of the service.

Fast-forward 13 years, and a Houston blogger calling himself The Mighty Wizard wonders why jitneys, now legal in Houston, aren't effective in meeting the transit needs of the subject of a news story whose six-mile commute takes 83 minutes by bus.

So why aren't jitneys more widely used in Houston? Well, whenever something is legal but rarely used, the Wizard immediately starts suspecting government interference and sure enough, if one decides to pay a visit to the City of Houston ordinances governing the operation of jitneys (Chapter 46, Article VI), one immediately notices some very serious regulatory barriers to entry that would be jitney operators face in entering the competitive field for transportation.

He spots three barriers to entry and to meeting the needs of customers: The vehicle can't be more than five years old (a standard never used for public transit vehicles or cabs), the driver can't deviate from the route or negotiate price with potential customers (reducing fares might make sense when demand is slack), and a jitney owner must maintain bonding and insurance from which a government operator is exempt.

There are more, but no doubt that the usual rationale would be offered as to why these regulations are in place and that is that we need to protect the public. It should be equally obvious to everyone that this ordinance doesn't protect the public from anything, but was instead written to protect Yellow Cab and Metro from market competition, not to help the citizens of Houston get around more quickly or conveniently.

Jitneys also present another problem, this one in the political marketplace. Jitneys don't allow politicians to spend billions of dollars in cost overruns on big transportation make work projects, they don't allow for photo opportunities or to put their names into the history books, nor do they help politicians obtain millions in campaign contributions. They also would drive lovers of government transit berserk. However by lifting lifting the regulatory barriers to entry to jitney operations, the City just might allow a solution to come forward which could allow Mrs. Jenkins to get to her job in 10 minutes and to succeed where taxpayer funded public transit fails.

Way back in 2002, when Tulsa County's "Dialog" process was underway, they sought public input for projects to improve Tulsa County. I offered two proposals: Deregulate jitneys and enable neighborhood conservation districts. Neither idea involved massive construction contracts or revenue bonds, so neither idea went anywhere in the process, which was all about finding popular local projects that could be wrapped around a new arena to get it past the voters.

Before we plow more money into Tulsa Transit and a route model ill-suited to Tulsa's urban layout, why not give private operators a chance to meet the need? They might choose to run a fixed-route without deviation. They may choose a starting point, but the destination and route would be determined by the needs of the current batch of passengers. They might take reservations, like Super Shuttle does with hotels, picking up a series of passengers to deliver them to a common destination.

You may object that the free market may not provide the quality of service needed at an affordable cost. I could imagine churches using their buses and vans as jitneys during the week, with fares reduced to whatever was necessary to cover fuel, if that. Merchants in a shopping center might pool funds to ferry shoppers from home to the store and back. There may be some benefit in a publicly funded "backbone" service -- frequent service along a small number of corridors, to which jitneys would connect.

Transit regulations, like food regulations, should protect the public's health and safety, but otherwise leave the market free for innovation. My hipster friends are excited about taxi alternatives like Uber and don't want to see them entangled in government regulations designed to protect the taxi monopoly. They should be just as excited to unleash a lower-tech, lower-cost means of transportation for the benefit of their less affluent fellow Tulsans.

MORE: An article from the January 2000 issue of The Freeman explains how illegal-but-tolerated jitneys operate in Detroit.

Tulsa, north of downtown, steps to nowhere

For the first time in a long time, I have an article in print. The May 15, 2014, edition of This Land Press includes my history of the lost neighborhood just north of downtown Tulsa. Criss-crossed by streets but now devoid of buildings, this neighborhood was established about 100 years ago, was a thriving neighborhood as recently as 50 years ago, and still had residents 10 years ago. What happened? Pick up a copy of This Land Press at your friendly neighborhood coffeehouse, bookstore, or restaurant to read the story. (UPDATE: "Steps to Nowhere" is now online.)

Tulsa, north of downtown, aerial photo, 1951

I wrote far more than there was room to publish. In particular, I wish there had been more room for the personal recollections that were entrusted to me. I had to whittle them down considerably to have room to get the basic framework across. If there's an enthusiastic response to this story, I hope to have the opportunity to include some of those anecdotes in future stories. Since the story was submitted, I met several more former residents with interesting stories to tell; perhaps more photos and anecdotes will surface now that the story is in print.

Tulsa, north of downtown, satellite photo, 2014


I've posted an album of photographs, some taken by me earlier this year, some I took from 2007 (before OSU resculpted Standpipe Hill and planted a tower on top, and photos and images from neighborhood residents Martin Reidy, Bill Leighty, and other sources: Tulsa's Lost Near Northside. Included is this annotated 1967 aerial photo of Tulsa's Near Northside neighborhood.

Bill Leighty, one of the former residents I interviewed for the story, has posted his detailed reminiscences of his Near Northside childhood on his Smart Growth Tulsa blog.

I found some additional info about the Boston Beer Garden, a neighborhood fixture for 46 years, destroyed by fire in 1983.

The East Village District Association, on the eastern edge of downtown Tulsa, is holding its second Second Saturday street festival this Saturday, May 10, 2014, from 11 am to 4 pm, at the corner of 3rd and Lansing. The event will feature local music, art, vendors, and food trucks.

The East Village is bounded by Elgin Ave. and the east leg of the Inner Dispersal Loop, between 3rd Street and 11th Street, plus the area between the Frisco tracks and 3rd Street east of Greenwood Ave. Until work on the IDL began in 1967, the area had been seamlessly connected to the Pearl District, but somewhat separated from downtown by the Midland Valley tracks.

The heart of the district is a cluster of one- and two-story buildings near the intersection of 3rd and Kenosha. Kenosha is the eastern boundary of Tulsa's original townsite, in which the streets were laid out parallel and perpendicular to the Frisco railroad tracks. East of Kenosha is the Hodge Addition, aligned with the compass. The terminating vistas created by this collision of conflicting grids inspired then-resident Dave Berray to propose the name Hodge's Bend for the neighborhood association he helped to organize. If I recall correctly, Berray was anxious to distinguish the cluster of older buildings that were already being reused and already becoming a neighborhood from whatever massive redevelopment might take place on the former industrial lands to the south.

The potential of the East Village for urban revival was recognized as early as December of 1990, when Spaghetti Warehouse announced plans to locate in the old Crane Warehouse at 623 E. 3rd Street, about a year after the chain had opened in Oklahoma City's Bricktown. The following August, the building was gutted by arson, just as renovations were set to begin, and that December, Spaghetti Warehouse bought a building in the Brady Village area, triggering renewed interest in the warehouse district north of the Frisco tracks, but leaving the East Village to its own devices.

The East Village's comeback gained momentum in the late '90s, as artists (specifically theatrical scenery artists) discovered this area within the IDL that had been overlooked by urban renewal and was too far from the downtown office cluster to be worth clearing for parking. City leaders planned to demolish the neighborhood to make way for a soccer stadium, but the defeat of the Tulsa Project city sales tax in 1997 saved the East Village from oblivion. Living Arts moved to a temporary location on Kenosha in 2000 and stayed there for nine years.

Since that time, buildings have been renovated for residential, commercial, and office use, mainly along 3rd, Kenosha, and Lansing. There have been several proposals for major development in the large tracts of land between 4th and 7th streets, former sites of Nordam, Bill White Chevrolet, Fire Station No.1, and the Tulsa Coliseum, but none have come to fruition. As always, the momentum for redevelopment has been in reusing old buildings that are still standing; new construction is still somewhere off in the future.

In 2011, All Souls Unitarian Church, the largest U-U congregation in the US, announced plans to locate on the former site of the Page-Glencliff Dairy and later Fields Downs Randolph, between 6th and 7th, Frankfort and Kenosha.

The East Village District Association plans to hold a street festival the second Saturday of every month.


I wrote about 3rd and Kenosha in Urban Tulsa in October in 2005, and again here on BatesLine in 2006, about the 1997 letter from Allison Geary that alerted me to the neighborhood's plight.

Mike Easterling wrote a cover story about the East Village in the March 25, 2009, issue of Urban Tulsa Weekly.

Tulsa's Young Professionals are holding a mile-long street festival tomorrow, Sunday, May 4, 2014, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., in the southern part of downtown Tulsa. The event, Street CReD 2014: Urban Core, will thread its way through Tulsa's championship parking crater with "music, art, food trucks, vendors, family-friendly activities, disc golf, skate park, walking and bicycling."

Street CReD: Urban Core will celebrate what makes downtown exceptional: Its ability to bring people together and into a unique, walkable urban environment with shops, restaurants, recreation and good company.

This event will bring walkability and bikeability to one of the few areas of downtown yet to see significant redevelopment activity - an area characterized by the towering spires of the Cathedral District, the optimism of Route 66 and, unfortunately, vast expanses of surface parking that add nothing to the quality and character of our downtown.

What would happen if we made southern downtown a hub of foot and bike activity? Come see us May 4 and find out.

Street CReD: Urban Core is an Open Streets event, modeled after the international Open Streets Project, which seeks to close streets temporarily so people can use them for walking, bicycling, dancing, playing and socializing. With numerous city blocks to be temporarily closed to vehicle traffic, we are opening southern downtown's streets just for you.

The route begins at 5th and Boston, turns west at 10th Street to Boulder, then south on Boulder to Veterans Park and 21st Street, then west to River Parks. North of 15th Street, the route will be closed to vehicular traffic, but open to bikes and pedestrians. Parking will be available on TCC's lots south and east of their Metro Campus buildings.

Route 66 pavers in downtown Tulsa, looking southwest across the parking crater, from 10th and Detroit, SX002809

Emerson Elementary School, north of downtown Tulsa at 909 N. Boston Ave, will celebrate its centennial this Friday night, May 2, 2014, from 6 to 8 pm. Dinner will be provided by Elote and music by Muskogee's Wild Card Band. There will be a silent auction to benefit the school's Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) initiative. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for children 11-17. Visit Emerson's "purchases and donations" page to buy tickets and centennial T-shirts.

In researching a story about the neighborhood south of Emerson, I've enjoyed talking to a number of alumni who attended the school in the '40s and '50s and getting to know the school's long and fascinating history.

Emerson School dates its birth from its authorization in Tulsa's 1913 school bond issue. A April 14, 1915, story, headlined "BUILD NEW SCHOOL ON THE NORTH SIDE: Buy Block In Kirkpatrick Heights for a Unit Building," reported:

Amicably settling the slight dissention [sic] which recently arose between the North Side Improvement association and the city school board, it was decided at the meeting of the school board last night to purchase a block of ground in the Kirkpatrick Heights addition for a new school site and build an entirely new unit school at that place. In view of the unsafe condition of the Sequoyah school, for a large number of children, it was decided to diminish the attendance there as well as repair the building and render it safe as far as possible.

It is thought probable that the Osage school, which is a grade school, would never likely grow very much, shall be made the location for the manual training and domestic science departments for the more advanced students of the north side. This will prevent their having to go as far south as the central high school or as far east as Washington school to take that course of study. Members of the North Side Improvement association present expressed themselves before the board and privately as being entirely satisfied with the arrangement.

(On the same page, a box score and news story announced that the Tulsa World-Democrat newsboys baseball team, the Newsies, had defeated Bellview (Lincoln) elementary school 7-6 and Horace Mann elementary 10-2 in a Sunday afternoon double header. For more information about the concerns of this period for school building soundness and safety, see "'JITNEY' SCHOOLS ARE 'ALL BLOWED UP'" in the September 8, 1915, Tulsa World.)

A month later, on May 19, 1915, the school board approved, with one member dissenting, the purchase of a block in Kirkpatrick Heights and rejecting the Mary Davis site. (That may be a reference to the Davis-Wilson Heights Addition, on the east side of Cincinnati at the top of Sunset Hill. The same page discusses work on the Detention Home and has an ad from the Tulsa Theatre Managers Association about a wildcat strike by union musicians, stagehands and operators.)

A Sunday, September 19, 1915, news story about the reopening of the school year the following day announces that enrollment for the new school in Kirkpatrick Heights would be held at Osage (Fairview west of Denver) and Sequoyah Schools (Boston and Easton) "A separation of the district will be made, as soon as the building is completed." A January 4, 1916, story reports that Emerson school "will be occupied tomorrow," with only one further school from the last bond issue to be completed (Riverview).

Tulsa Emerson elementary school, original building

NOTE: It appears that the Oklahoma Historical Society had the photo backwards. Based on aerial photos, the auditorium was on King Street, second building east of Boston. When reversed, the photo matches the slope of the land.

Emerson has had two incarnations. Its first was as a campus on the east side of Boston between King and Latimer Streets, occupying about half a block and built according to the "unit plan" devised by school board member H. O. McClure, namesake of a Tulsa park and school. Each unit consisted of two classrooms with its own restrooms and cloakrooms. As enrollment grew, additional units would be built, gradually enclosing an inner courtyard. One two-story building housed the auditorium and school offices. The plan was innovative and received national attention. While many unit plan schools, including Emerson, have been demolished, a few remain, and most have been put to other purposes: Lee School at 21st and Cincinnati, Irving School at 1st and Nogales, Pershing School in Owen Park neighborhood, and Lincoln School at 15th and Peoria. In some cases, like Lincoln and Irving, units were constructed around multistory school buildings.

The courtyard wasn't big enough for baseball; little league games were played several blocks north at Cheyenne Playground.

Tulsa school unit plan conceptual drawing

Prior to school desegregation, Emerson was a school for whites only. After Brown v. Board of Education, starting in 1955, a few African-American children enrolled in the school. Bill Leighty, who was an Emerson student at the time, remembers that the change was uneventful and the new students were welcomed. Over the next 20 years, changing school boundaries and changing residential patterns (influenced in part by the urban renewal demolition of Greenwood and the displacement of its residents) resulted in Emerson becoming a majority African-American school; 87.4% in the 1975-1976 school year.

The second, modern incarnation of Emerson began in 1975, as part of a plan to desegregate schools without forced busing. Tulsa proposed, and the Federal judge accepted, a plan to build a new Emerson School as a magnet, to complement new magnet schools at Carver Middle School and Washington High School. Charles Johnson Elementary, located in the old Washington building in the Greenwood district, and which had been one of the segregated "separate" schools for African-Americans, would be closed and merged into Emerson. Longfellow, at 6th and Peoria, had been closed and merged into Johnson for the 1972-1973, to try to create a balanced student body.

Building this superschool involved the creation of a superblock, demolishing the original buildings and the houses on the rest of its block, the block to the south, and two blocks to the west. Forty-six single-family homes, three duplexes, seven apartment buildings, and a small retail building at 14 E. Latimer (home in in 1957 to Tulsa Nozzle and Valve, in 1967 to the Edge of Night beer joint) were removed. King Street was closed between Cincinnati Ave (now MLKJr Blvd) and Main, and Boston Ave was closed between Jasper Street and Latimer Street.

The new Emerson, which opened its doors in 1976, had a brand new, modern building, innovative curriculum offerings, and highly-credentialed teachers. From a 1977 report to the U. S. Commission on Civil Rights about the desegregation of Tulsa schools:

On April 24, 1975, District Judge Frederick Daugherty issued an order with regard to Emerson Elementary School. The order approved the school districts request to build a new elementary school based on an expansion of the existing Emerson campus. Student assignment changes were made by consolidating the enrollments of Emerson and Johnson Elementary Schools. The court stipulated that the new Emerson must maintain a black enrollment of not more than 50 percent. The school district, expanding on its previous successes at Burroughs Little School, Carver Middle School, and Washington High School, sought voluntary white student enrollment. The court had made it quite clear that, if the voluntary approach did not work, the district would have to take other action to maintain the prescribed racial enrollment in the new school.

The new Emerson Elementary, which opened in September 1976, formed the final link in a complete K-12 alternative school program where students can experience individualized, continuous-progress learning in a racially desegregated environment. The total enrollment of 700, with a 50-50 black-white ratio, consists of approximately 500 neighborhood children and an additional 200 white student volunteers. Children in grades K-3 are located in a special area with ready access to other activity areas. The curriculum emphasizes communication skills and mathematics taught by a team of teachers. Enrichment experiences include music, drama, and creative arts at this level.
Children in grades three through six have three time blocks of 110 minutes each allotted to communication skills, math-science, physical education, and humanities. Additional instruction in music is available on the violin, guitar, and piano beginning at the third-grade level.

Although the main emphasis is on basic skills geared for individualized instruction, the curriculum stresses a humanities program. Children at Emerson have access to a piano laboratory, a potter's wheel, instruction in dance and drama, and a miniature television studio where they can produce their own shows. The curriculum features a creative learning center where children may engage in enrichment experiences in the arts, crafts, plant growing, and creative writing. This component of the curriculum is closely articulated with the exploratory curriculum at Carver Middle School so that Emerson students can continue their entire public school education through similar programs at Carver Middle School and Washington High School.

Today, Emerson is the neighborhood school for a three-square mile area that includes all of downtown within the Inner Dispersal Loop plus an area bounded by the L. L. Tisdale Expressway, Peoria Avenue, Pine Street and 11th Street. It feeds into Central Junior and Senior high schools. At the start of this academic year, Emerson had 311 students and 23 teachers. 95% of students qualify for free or reduced lunch. 70% of the students are African-American. Student attendance rate last year was 94%.

From p. 3 of the August 23, 1922, edition of the Tulsa Daily World:

A building permit was issued Tuesday to the Jewish Institute, which is to be located at 629 N. Main street. The plans call for a one-story building and basement, with a large assembly hall. The cost is estimated at $20,000.

From p. 3 of the August 27, 1922, edition of the Tulsa Daily World:

The cornerstone of the Jewish Institute of Tulsa will be laid on Tuesday evening, August 28, at 8 o'clock at 627 North Main. This institution, when completed, will be equipped with a spacious hall for dances and mass meetings, club rooms, reading rooms, library, chess room and various facilities for games, a kitchen for the catering for Jewish social affairs, and other attractions that will make the Jewish Institute a center of Jewish social life.

Here's a description of the institute's location and purpose from the article about Tulsa by the Institute of Southern Jewish Life:

Members of B'nai Emunah built a Jewish Institute, designed to be a community center, in 1922. Reflecting the scattered nature of the Orthodox synagogue's membership, the Jewish Institute was 1.5 miles away from B'nai Emunah. Nevertheless, the Orthodox synagogue's Talmud Torah school started meeting at the Institute, a vast improvement over the shul's basement, where they had been meeting. The B'nai Emunah sisterhood, which had been founded in 1921, held their meetings and functions at the Institute. The heyday of the Jewish Institute was short-lived, as financial troubles forced it to close in 1930. The building was still used by Jewish groups occasionally. Later in the 1930s, member of B'nai Emunah who lived on the northside met there for high holiday services since they lived too far from the synagogue to walk there. Abe Borofsky and Harold Smith were the lay leaders for the northside group.

I believe this is a photo of the Jewish Institute. The synagogues in Tulsa at the time were B'nai Emunah, a two-story building at 10th and Cheyenne, and Temple Israel, at 14th and Cheyenne. Both two-story buildings were topped by domes. This building better fits the newspaper's description of the Jewish Institute.


The Beryl Ford Collection/Rotary Club of Tulsa, Tulsa City-County Library and Tulsa Historical Society.

The Tulsa Daily World and the Tulsa Democrat both ran front page stories about Congress authorizing President Wilson to use the Armed Forces to intervene in Mexico.

The World's front page was almost entirely devoted to the impending Mexico invasion. Above the masthead, a red banner headline read "LAND MARINES 48 HOURS." The lead story announced "WILL SEIZE CUSTOM HOUSES AT TAMPICO AND VERA CRUZ WED." The only interruption was a "WARNING!" in the bottom center of the front page that the rival Democrat was producing a cheap imitation of the World's pink-paper special 6 p.m. sports edition with all the baseball scores.

The Whirled had the local angle, with a story about men across the state wiring and telephoning the Oklahoma National Guard's adjutant general to volunteer to fight in Mexico, and one special volunteer who offered to organize a special unit for any expedition:

Tulsa came to the front in the Mexican crisis last night when "Geenral" [sic] Tate Brady wired Senator [Thomas] Gore, asking for authority to raise a regiment of Indian cavalry volunteers to serve should war break out with Mexico. His telegram follows:

"Senator Thomas P. Gore, Washington:

"The first man to lay down his life on Cuban soil for flag and country was Milo Hendrix, an Indian boy. In the great war between the states, the Indian people sent their full quota to both northern and southern armies. No soldiers were braver. They are specially qualified for duty in the mountains of Mexico. Proud of being a Cherokee citizen, I ask the president through you, if volunteers are called for, for the privilege of organizing a regiment of Indian cavalry for duty at the front.

(Signed) "TATE BRADY"

(The Democrat had Brady's letter on p. 10, the back page of this addition.)

Page 2 of the World announced movies every evening in the 1,200 capacity "airdome" at the Sand Springs Park. On page 4, we learn that the Tulsa baseball club in the Western Association is looking for a new name and will pay $10 in "real money" to the person who makes the winning suggestion. "'Oilers' is too common, as several teams in past years have had that moniker." Page 4 also has another tribute to Tate Brady, this time for his business acumen in moving his dry goods store from the a leased space on the south side to his Brady Hotel just north of the Frisco tracks. "Last year he retailed nearly ninety-one thousand dollars for cash and this year so far has been 44 per cent over last."

On the same page, The New Fashion Store at 112 E. 2nd Street cashes in on war fever with a quarter-page ad headlined:


(They bought a full-page ad in the Democrat, p. 8, with the same headline.)

According to a Santa Fe ad on p. 7, you can take Train 202 out of Tulsa at 8 a.m., arrive in Kansas City at 5:15 p.m., take in dinner and a show, then catch the Oil Flyer at 2:30 a.m. (but sleepers are available at 11:30 p.m.), arriving back in Tulsa at 11:30 a.m. A caricature of the dapper "University Four" announces their upcoming show, "A Bit of Harmony" at the Lyric Theater.


The Democrat devoted only three of its seven front-page columns to the Mexico story. The big local story was preparations to send a delegation of Tulsans to the United Confederate Veterans convention in Jacksonville, Fla., to try to land the 1915 convention for Tulsa. A delegation of 200 men would take a special train to Jacksonville, over the southern route through Dallas, Houston, New Orleans, and Montgomery. In the two weeks before the UCV convention, 5,000 booklets about Tulsa, featuring a photo of the new convention hall, would be distributed in "the larger cities of the south."

A big chunk of the Democrat's front page is devoted to a sort of Socratic dialogue (headlined "Cloistered Conversations") between a Mr. Hymn and a Mr. Rockefeller concerning the latter's monopolistic oil pricing practices and the possibility of a shutdown of Oklahoma drilling in response to a decline in the price of oil. Page 2 has more on that topic, and a story about Oklahoma's desire to purchase unplatted islands and lands in the bed of the Arkansas River from the Department of the Interior. The question hinges in part on the navigability of the river. Another lengthy feature about Standard Oil's methods is on p. 4.

Page 3 of the Democrat has a big display ad decrying the folly of paying $30 a month or more in rent when you could instead by a new home in Crosbie Heights Addition, served by two streetcar lines, a mere 10 blocks from "down town," where "the scenery is splendid, the air is pure and free from the dirt and grime of the congested district of down town. In such location the children and wife will find health and happiness during the hot summer months. The altitude is such that you will find it coll during the hot nights of the coming summer."


Speaking of streetcars, the same page announces that the Tulsa Street Railway will install a new switch on North Cheyenne Avenue, enabling more cars and more frequent service -- every seven minutes -- and the possibility of an extension of the North Main Street line. Meanwhile, the new line to the Bellview addition (3rd to Madison to Fostoria to Quincy, ending just south of 15th Street) would run on a 12-minute headway with the Owen Park line. The headways had been 18 minutes before recent improvements.

Also reported on page 3 of the Democrat, the Lutherans, led by the Rev. C. W. Sifferd, broke ground on April 21, 1914, for a new building on the southeast corner of 5th and Elwood, designed by George Winkler. The church had a membership of 140, but were building the new church to hold 750, with a full basement for Sunday school classrooms. (The building stood until demolished to make way for the Tulsa County Courthouse. First Lutheran Church relocated to 13th and Utica.)


Beryl Ford Collection/Rotary Club of Tulsa, Accession A2289

As yet undeveloped, land near Boston Ave. and Haskell St. was the temporary home of lions, tigers, apes, and monkeys -- the Con T. Kennedy Shows and Hackman Animal Circus had come to town. (These days, the land is again re-undeveloped and could once again play host to a circus tent and midway.)

Page 6 of the Democrat reported the Western Association's 140 game schedule. Tulsa would open at home on May 1, starting a three-game series with the recently reinstated Muskogee club. Elsewhere on the page, the Tulsa school board was mulling plans to condemn a block of land to expand Riverview School. The board was ready to advertise plans to construct the new $300,000 High School, so that construction could start as soon as the state Attorney General approved the $500,000 bond issue. It hadn't been decided whether to build on the same block as the current school or a different one.

The 1914 City of Tulsa election, to be held the following day, would be a snoozer and warranted a mention only on the bottom right corner of page 7. The Democratic slate of city commission candidates were all unopposed, but the election had to be held in order to comply with the city charter.

A legal notice on p. 9 announced the sealed-bid auction of the Kaffir Corn Palace, on the grounds of the County Farm, on N. Lewis between Archer and the Frisco tracks. The building, celebrating what we call sorghum, was the centerpiece of the 1913 International Dry Farming Congress.

And finally, the classified ads on the back page of the World include a black manorca cockerel for sale at 901 No. Cheyenne (eggs, too), rooms for rent (inquire at the Coney Island Café), and this touching personal:

NOTICE--Would like to correspond with some lady that wants a home and is willing to help make one. I am 48 years old, light complexioned and blue eyes, don't swear nor drink, but still I am not perfect. Address William Colson, Columbus, Kansas.

On this day 100 years ago, Tulsa's "new" Majestic Theater opened its doors to the public. The grand opening was announced with an ad and story on page 5 of the previous day's Tulsa Daily World:


Majestic Theatre



Music by the

"The Instrument with a Human Voice."

Don't miss this show. A good place to take the family.

Open at 1:30 p.m., showing continuously until 11 p.m.

Adults 10 cents, Children 5 cents.

Opening Program

Vitagraph's Big Circus Drama in Two Parts
A thrilling drama of life in the Big White Tents.

Fine Lubin Production
Let the Kiddies see this.

Essanay Laugh Producer
A clever comedy satire.

Coming Soon
TULLY MARSHALL and the original New York cast, presenting

The accompanying news item:

Messrs. McCarty & Rothstein take great pleasure in announcing the opening tomorrow, Saturday afternoon and evening, of the New Majestic theater. During the past month the theatre has been in the hands of carpenters, painters, decorators, etc., and has been completely altered and improved, now presenting a most attractive appearance, one that will meet with the approval of all patrons. The house will be under the personal management of B. F. Rothstein, lately associated with Harry Davis, the well-known theatrical and motion picture magnate. It will be devoted exclusively to high class motion pictures and feature films in which appear the leading actors and actresses of the world, depicting the great theatrical successes. At an approximate expense of $10,000 the management has installed on of the famous Wurlitzer Unit orchestras, which combines piano with all orchestral acompaniements, such as horns, flute, violin, drums, cello, castanets, tambourine, whistles, bells, chimes, xylophones and traps. The management, at considerable additional expense secured a well-known artist of Dallas, Texas, to preside over this wonderful instrument. Recitals will be given afternoon and evening, thus affording the music-loving public a rare treat. It is the only instrument of its kind in the entire state of Oklahoma and weighs in the neighborhood of 6,000 pounds.

Reading through the puffery, it appears that this is a reopening after a remodel, rather than the opening of a new building.

What isn't clear is where this was. In 1910, the Bijou Theater sat at the corner of 4th and Main. In 1917 (according to Sanborn Maps), the new, new Majestic was built next door at 406 S. Main, and remained standing until demolished for the present occupant, a parking garage that takes up the north two-thirds of the block between Main, Boulder, 4th and 5th. Tulsa was small enough, and the business district was compact enough, that there was no need to clutter up a theater ad with an address.

First in a possible series. Newspapers and other publications from 1922 and earlier are in the public domain, and many of them are available online through the Library of Congress and Oklahoma Historical Society websites.

The April 17, 1914 edition of the Tulsa Daily World ran 12 pages. The front page headline was about the peaceful resolution of the Tampico Affair. Mexican President General Huerta offered to make amends for the arrest of American troops at Tampico. (The previous day's edition had a banner headline in red ink above the masthead announcing "War With Mexico Now Imminent / Bloodshed Likely at Track Today.")

Further down page 1, there was news of an arrest in the hatchet murder of Muskogee shopkeeper B. F. Richardson. The accused was Richardson's shop clerk, C. T. Hefler, who had been fired after an argument.

On the upper left of the women's page (p. 7) is the headline:




Camp Away from the City's Heat
Would Do Much to Reduce Summer
Death Rate

The story was about a committee of Tulsa women pushing for the establishment of a "baby detention camp." No indication of where it would be located. The committee elected the following ladies as the board of directors.

Mesdames J. A. Hull, J. M. Gillette, S. E. Dunn, John Murray Ward, Frank Sowers, Edward R. Perry, Oscar R. Howard, Sim W. Parrish, J. E. Crosbie, Frank E. Shallenberger, O. L. Frost and Frank H. Greer.

A June 19, 1914, story reports that a home was purchased "opposite Orcutt park," accessible by the Oklahoma Union Traction streetcar line. The 1920 city directory shows the Tulsa Detention Home located at 1704 S. Trenton. Later, the 1939 Sanborn map shows a "County Children's Home" at 1710 S. Trenton at the corner with 17th Street. The homes currently on that corner are of much later construction.

An August 1, 1915, story distinguishes the new detention home ("near the old bungalow at Seventeenth and Spark Streets"), which seems to be an orphanage for children whose parents are deceased or unfit, from the baby camp. Both are run by the local Humane Society.

(In 1921, Wichita established a "Fresh Air Baby Camp" in its Riverside neighborhood. The building was later used as a Girl Scout hut, then sat empty for many years. At present, the building is being restored to its historical appearance. Fresh Air Baby Camp has a much nicer sound than Baby Detention Camp.)


The April 16 edition noted the paper's circulation on the previous day at 12,650.

Several ads in the paper boost the Tulsa Evening Sun, sister paper to the World, which began publication on December 1, 1913, and had a daily circulation of 4,000. "It has been proven that a morning paper with an evening edition is the solution of taking care of the 'overhead cost' in newspaper publishing."

The filing period has ended for the 2014 Tulsa city elections. All races this year are for two-year terms.


City Auditor Cathy Criswell, District 5 City Councilor Karen Gilbert, and District 8 City Councilor Phil Lakin were re-elected with out opposition.


Five districts which drew three or more candidates will have a primary in June, with the possibility of a candidate winning outright with more than 50% of the vote. If no candidate reaches that threshold, the top two will be on the November general election ballot.

District 1:

Jack Ross Henderson, 63, 2014 N. Rosedale, 74127, incumbent.
Denis Palmer, 61, 707 E. Mohawk Blvd., 74106
Vanessa Hall-Harper, 42, 2020 W. Newton St., 74127

District 2:

Jeannie Cue, 60, 5313 S. 32nd West Ave., 74107
Aaron L. Bisogno, 27, 7722 S. St. Louis Ave.
Lydia D'Ross, 50, 7742 S. Victor Ave., 74136

District 4:

Blake Ewing, 35, 1323 S. Frisco Ave., 74119
Dan Patten, 29, 107 N. Detroit Ave., Suite 300, 74120
Julian Morgan, 28, 418 S. Peoria Ave., 74120
Elissa K. Harvill, 1722 S. Carson Ave., Apt 1806

District 6:

Skip Steele, 64, 13380 E. 33rd St., 74134
Arnie Murillo, 38, 13029 E. 27th Pl., 74134
Connie Dodson, 46, 13302 E. 28th St.

District 7:

Eric Turley, 44, 9215 E. 59th Pl., 74145
Anna America, 50, 6849 E. 56th St., 74145
Arianna Moore, 27, 3801 S. 93rd East Ave., 74145


Two districts which drew two candidates each will be on the November ballot only.

District 3:

David Patrick, 5712 E. Tecumseh St., 74115
Virgil Lee Wallace Sr., 1564 N. New Haven Ave., 74115

District 9:

G. T. Bynum, 3607 S. Florence Ave., 74105
Paul Tay, 4004 S. Toledo Ave., 74135

Today is the final day of the filing period for the 2014 City of Tulsa elections. For the first time since 2011, all nine council seats are on the ballot at the same time, along with the City Auditor's seat.

You may find this news puzzling. Yes, there was a filing period last week. That was for state and county offices. No, I don't know why Tulsa had to be different. The language adopted by Tulsa (second Monday in April) will sometimes result in a filing period the same week as the state filing period (overlapping on Wednesday) and sometimes result in a filing period the following week.

This election marks the end of over five years of thrashing about with terms and election dates. In 2008, Tulsans voted to approve a charter change to move elections from the spring of even-numbered years to the fall of odd-numbered years. This was a wise move. It allowed campaigning candidates to take advantage of warmer weather and longer days, and put the elections at a normal time of year for voting, while maintaining separation from national and state elections, so that voters could focus on local issues.

A couple of years later, Tulsans voted to change the council terms of office to a three-year term, staggered so that no more than three seats would expire in any given year. 2011 was to be the last all-council election. Seats 1, 4, and 7 were up in 2012, seats 2, 5, and 8 in 2013, and seats 3, 6, and 9 in 2014. There were conflicts with state-authorized election dates in the even-numbered years.

In 2011, the same year that staggered terms were set to begin, Tulsans for Badder Government Same Old Tulsans Save Our Tulsa successfully pushed initiatives to move the council back to a two-year term and to move city elections to the even-numbered years, and to make council elections non-partisan. (Their at-large councilor proposition failed.) The three-year terms for the councilors elected in 2012 and 2013 and the city auditor elected in 2013 were truncated so that all seats would be up for election in 2014. The Mayor's office will next be on the ballot in 2016, along with the auditor and all nine councilors -- barring another charter change.

I opposed the Save Our Tulsa charter changes for a number of reasons, including the sense that non-partisan city elections sharing a lengthy federal and state ballot would be ignored by voters, volunteers, media, and candidates. The dearth of filers for this fall's election seems to bear out my predictions.

As of the end of the second day of filing, there are only three contested seats. It looks like three councilors who have shown a degree of independence from the city establishment are being targeted for defeat: Jack Henderson in District 1, Blake Ewing in District 4, and Arianna Moore in District 7.

Two of the challengers are the campaign managers from last year's mayoral race: Danny Patten, Dewey Bartlett Jr's campaign manager, is challenging Ewing, and Anna America, Kathy Taylor's campaign manager and a former Tulsa School Board member, is challenging Moore. It may well be that these two folks made independent decisions to run, but I suspect both will have substantial establishment backing.

The other six councilors and the new city auditor are as yet unchallenged, but all have filed for re-election. They are:

City Auditor Cathy Criswell: In 2013, she defeated incumbent Clift Richards.
District 2 Councilor Jeannie Cue
District 3 Councilor David Patrick
District 5 Councilor Karen Gilbert
District 6 Councilor Skip Steele
District 8 Councilor Phil Lakin
District 9 Councilor G. T. Bynum

Roscoe Turner as Golden DrillerIt would be a particular shame if David Patrick draws a bye in the first election following the death of former District 3 Councilor Roscoe Turner. Turner and Patrick faced each other in every election since 1996 (except the 1998 special, when Patrick's sister took his place), either in the Democratic primary or, when Patrick changed his registration to independent, in the general election.

District 3 includes most of the area north and east of I-244 and US 75, plus the area north of 11th Street between Sheridan Road and I-44.

We need a council full of Roscoe Turners (and a mayor of that caliber as well) if we want city boards and commissions to be responsive to the concerns of citizens in all of Tulsa. That process starts today, by making sure that each of our city elected officials are held accountable to the voters in a competitive election campaign.

KNOW BEFORE YOU GO: Filing for City of Tulsa offices is at the Tulsa County Election Board, 555 N. Denver Ave., in the former "Mission style" Safeway supermarket with the arched roof. You'll need a notarized declaration of candidacy and a $50 cashier's check.

Here is a current map of City of Tulsa council district and precinct boundaries.

Dr. Jeffrey Myers, a great-grandson of W. Tate Brady, posted a comment today on a BatesLine entry from July 2013 ("The Brady name game") regarding the renaming of Brady Street in Tulsa. Controversy over the early Tulsa civic leader's connection to racist organizations resulted in a bizarre City Council compromise that renamed Brady Street within the Inner Dispersal Loop to Matthew B. Brady Street, honoring the Civil War-era photographer who had no connection to Tulsa.

Below is Dr. Myers's comment, which is unedited, except for the addition of an authorship line to ensure it is properly attributed.

What´s in a Name: The Legacy of Tate Brady [by Dr. Jeffrey Myers]

As one of the great-grandchildren of W. Tate Brady, I was deeply saddened to learn of his affiliation - direct or indirect - with racist organizations. Although he died long before I was born, we great-grandchildren often heard of his deep affection for "Tulsey Town" and his coining of the term "Tulsa Spirit".

Personally, I have never thought of "Brady" Street simply as a personal tribute to one of Tulsa´s founders, but rather a reminder of one of the most eventful and "spirited" chapters in the history of the city - with all of its triumphs and tragedies, virtues and vices, successes and failures. To preserve a name - including both the achievements and the shortcomings it represents - serves to convey historical identity.

In some ways, Tate Brady can be said to have been a child of his times. He was a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans in a young city painfully divided along racial lines. He was a man filled with larger-than-life dreams, as well as inconsistencies. Having joined the Ku Klux Klan as a young man, he later renounced the group, going on to support an anti-Klan gubernatorial candidate for election.

If I am not mistaken, though, he is being judged for one substantiated act of cruelty which, despicable as it is, remains one single act. I am not aware of any evidence of his complicity in other crimes, nor is there convincing evidence linking him to an active role in the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921. Fortunately, times have changed; needless to say, actions must always be understood and judged in the context of those times. Historical revisionism is sometimes tempting, but often self-serving.

It has been said that Wyatt Tate Brady was known for hiring African Americans to work in his hotel and other businesses. Not long before she died at the age of 104, Mabel B. Little, a survivor of the Tulsa Race Riot who was once employed by Brady, recalls in her book, Fire on Mount Zion: My Life and History as a Black Woman in America (1990): "Another man, Mr. Tate Brady had good feelings for black people. He hired several black boys as porters. But he told them up front, "Listen, boys: I'm gonna train you so you can get your own businesses someday."

I´ve always liked the fact that this historical street north of Main only bore a surname - and not a first name, thus pointing beyond itself, not only to the larger Brady family - many of whom loved and gave generously of themselves and their gifts to Tulsa, but also to the wider family, named and unnamed, of pioneer-spirited Tulsans. The name Brady invokes that which is unique to Tulsa - not only at its best, but also that which needs to be transformed and redeemed, individually and together.

In a moment of larger vision, W. Tate Brady was once quoted as saying: "Indian and white man, Jew and Gentile, Catholic and Protestant, we worked together side by side, and shoulder to shoulder, and under these conditions, the 'Tulsa Spirit' was born, and has lived, and God grant that it never dies." Though framed in words from another era, this vision would seem to capture the magnanimous, unifying "spirit" of Tulsa - the direction surely intended by the street sign bearing the name "Brady".

I've been told that Leon Russell's voice is being used to greet travelers at the Tulsa International Airport, and that, in his greeting, he mentions seeing world-renowned violinist Jascha Heifetz at the Tulsa Municipal Theater, now known as the Brady Theater.

Heifetz appeared in Tulsa, at what was then known as the Convention Hall, many years earlier, on March 16, 1922, as part of a blockbuster concert series that included ballerina Anna Pavlova and pianist and composer Sergei Rachmaninoff.

The performers for the rest of the series are not well-remembered today, but they were famous at the time: Frances Alda (operatic soprano), Royal Dadmun (baritone), John McCormack (Irish tenor), Flonzaley Quartet (string quartet).

At the time, $10 got you season tickets for the best seat in the house. In inflation-adjusted terms, that's $15 per show. Individual tickets ran from $1 to $3, plus 10% war tax.

A newspaper advertisement for the series appeared on page 12 of the September 25, 1921, edition of the Tulsa Daily World:

Ad for 1922 concert series including Jascha Heifetz, Anna Pavlova, and Sergei Rachmaninoff

Don't know for sure, but I suspect that the Carson Concert Series was the forerunner for Carson Attractions, which handled tickets and booking for the Tulsa Assembly Center for many years.

1922 was not Heifetz's first visit to Tulsa. He also appeared at the Convention Hall on March 4, 1919. Ticket prices were 50 cents cheaper than they would be in 1922.

Tulsa 1921 map

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A remarkable and detailed 1921 map of Tulsa is available for viewing online, from the Special Collections of the University of Tulsa McFarlin Library. The inset map shows the entire city, and is captioned;

A Ready Reference and Guide Map to Tulsa's

Subdivisions are clearly labeled. Around the edges of the map are alphabetical listings of the categories mentioned above, plus banks, streets, hospitals, apartment buildings, and hotels. The street car and interurban lines are very easy to spot.

The outer part of the map depicts "Tulsa's industrial and commercial district : showing office and public bldgs. R.R. passenger & freight depots." It is more detailed, labeling individual buildings, and it covers a solid rectangle from Denver to Hartford, Easton to 5th St., plus extensions in to the west (to Frisco between Easton & 2nd), to the east (to 3rd & Madison and Admiral & Owasso), and to the south (to 12th and Main). Beyond these areas are residences and farmland.

Two publishers are listed on the map, the Dean-Brumfield Co. of Tulsa and the Standard Map Co. of Chicago.

Also in the collection is the Fowler & Kelly Aero View of Tulsa, 1918

The only disappointment about these two maps is that they appear to have been converted to JPEG format, which is great for photos of real life, but produces annoying blurs and other artifacts as a result of its lossy compression algorithm. PNG, a lossless compressed format, would have been a better choice.

UPDATE: Paul Uttinger provides a link to a better copy of the Aero View of Tulsa, 1918.

Prisoner_McGoohan_Bars.jpgOn April Fools' Day, next Tuesday, April 1, 2014, Tulsa County voters have a special election to raise taxes to pay for an addition to the Tulsa County Jail and a brand new juvenile justice facility. I will be voting no on both questions.

Ronda Vuillemont-Smith of the Tulsa 9/12 Project has run the numbers and says we could meet the claimed needs from expected Vision 2025 surplus funds.

Tax-increase supporters are saying we can't commit the Vision 2025 surplus until the final penny is collected, but that's not so. There's a clear precedent: On July 18, 2006, the Tulsa County Vision Authority met to authorize the allocation of $45.5 million of the projected Vision 2025 surplus to fund completion of the over-budget, starchitect-designed BOK Center arena. That was a full 10 years before the tax expires. Now the expiration date is only 2.75 years away; surely the county financial wizards know exactly how much principal and interest we owe on bonds, what's held in reserve, what's committed on any remaining projects. The only unknown is exactly how much more tax we're likely to take in on sales between now and December 31, 2016 (with the final payment from Oklahoma Tax Commission in February 2017), and we can make a pretty good estimate of that for such a short term.

Tax-increase supporters are saying we can't use the Vision 2025 surplus for anything except economic development projects. But surely the creative minds that crammed an arena, school books, a health clinic, and college buildings under the "economic development" ballot heading (Prop. 3) in 2003 can find an economic development rationale for a juvenile justice facility. And Prop. 4 of Vision 2025 was "capital improvements for community enrichment" -- surely a jail pod and juvenile justice facility would qualify. And if there were any doubt about whether they'd qualify, a public vote to abolish and re-enact those taxes for these new purposes would take care of the legalities.

Tax-increase supporters are saying that we promised the suburbs $45.5 million of the surplus for "fun money" because Tulsa got $45.5 million extra for the arena. But in 2007, during the debate over the River Tax, officials denied that any such commitment was made:

Miller claims that we can't predict if there would be enough surplus, and if there is any, it's already been promised to the suburbs for unspecified projects.

But I'm told that no such projects have been approved by the Tulsa County Vision Authority and no such commitment was made. Mayor Taylor denies that any such promise was made.

The Tulsa County Vision Authority is the only body authorized to repurpose Vision 2025 funds, so where are the meeting minutes where these reallocations to suburban projects were made?

Is there enough money left? Page 48 of the February 2014 Vision 2025 report (Funding Report as of 3/4/2014, p. 4 of 4) says that the current funding for all projects totals $573,458,804.20. Page 43 of the report has the total tax receipts as of February 9, 2014, at $547,256,173.29. At the current rate of collection of about $5 million per month, we will reach full funding in about five months. From that point forward, everything else the tax collects should be gravy, unless some important facts have been left out of the report. That means, using the county's very modest growth estimate, $157,068,231.53 remaining and uncommitted. That's enough to fund the suburbs' special projects and the jail and juvenile justice facility.

In 2005, Tulsa County officials said if "4 to Fix the County II" passed, they'd fix the juvenile justice center for about $2.5 million. In 2012, they asked for $38 million as part of Vision2 to build a new juvenile justice center. Now they want $45 million, plus who knows how much interest to finance that amount over 15 years. Should we trust them? What is the basis of estimate? Are there less expensive alternative locations?

Sometimes it seems that we have exactly one county elected official that puts our interests above the empire-building impulses of some county officials. County commissioners who were looking out for our best interests would first give us the choice to repurpose expected surplus funds and use a tax hike as a fall back, not the other way around.

Two arguments in favor of these tax propositions puzzle me, One is the sheriff's argument that the jail has effectively become a mental health treatment facility for many inmates, so we need a special pod for people with mental illness. Maybe we just need to work with social service organizations to keep such people supervised and appropriately medicated.

The other puzzler is the complaint that, in the current juvenile facility, juvenile offenders and juvenile victims are waiting in the same waiting rooms, Why would you send juvenile victims of crime or juveniles in family transition to the same facility of juveniles that are accused of committing a crime?

I. Marc Carlson, Librarian of Special Collections at the University of Tulsa, has several personal webpages containing his research on the Tulsa Race Riot and other historical topics. I just found out about this material earlier this evening and wanted to preserve the links for future exploration:

Tulsa Race Riot of 1921 by I. Marc Carlson: WordPress site, principal location for collected documents and analysis.
Tulsa Race Riot of 1921 original website: Hand-coded website that still has some important material.
Public-domain photos of the Tulsa Race Riot, with descriptions and commentary

Carlson takes a "just the facts" approach to the material, placing the greatest weight on first-hand accounts recorded close to the time of the events and documents of the time, separating evidence from widely-circulated legends. You can read his statement of methodology here. Among his projects are a timeline of the Tulsa Race Riot and a list of the Tulsa Race Riot known dead and wounded, with the source of the information and, if known, the address for the victim as found in contemporary directories.

rumblefish-greenwood-median.jpgOn Wednesday night, my wife and I went to Circle Cinema to see a double-feature: Locaciones: Buscando a Rusty James (Locations: Looking for Rusty James") followed by Rumble Fish, the 1983 Francis Ford Coppola film based on the novel by S. E. Hinton.

The first film at the Circle Cinema was about the second: Chilean author Alberto Fuguet saw Rumble Fish as a young man and was inspired by the idea that the ordinary stuff of life could be the source of art.

It is the film that incited me to write. The one that said: "You too can do it. If this story of two brothers can be art, then perhaps your world, your raw material, your square meter, can be of some use to you. Perhaps it can be representable."...

I left on foot. I lived close by. I arrived at my house that creaked. I remember that that night, in a short time, by hand, without a computer, I wrote my first story. Perhaps I should dedicate it to Dillon. To Spano. Perhaps I should have dedicated it to Coppola.

Some day, I don't know when, I should make a pilgrimage to Tulsa, I told myself.

A flop when released in the US as an ordinary summer movie, Rumble Fish became a long-running cult classic on the art-house circuit in Latin America, particularly in the Southern Cone of Chile, Argentina, and Uruguay. The film was retitled La Ley de la Calle ("The Law of the Street") and presented in English with Spanish subtitles.

Asked to write an essay about a favorite film, Fuguet decided instead to create a documentary tribute. In Miami for an event, he bought a ticket to Tulsa hoping to find locations and to interview extras and local fans who would talk about what Rumble Fish meant to them. Instead, puzzled that the film seemed to mean so little to the people of the city where it was made, he went around on his own, filming locations. Instead of talking to locals, he went back to South America and interviewed authors and filmmakers who were inspired by the film. It was only later that he connected with Tulsans (in particular, Lee Roy Chapman) interested in the film who helped him gather additional footage for his documentary. Fuguet told his tale in This Land Press:

Things didn't turn out as I thought. My goal was to go to Tulsa, stay as long as necessary, talk with everyone, spend time with the extras, and succumb to a world I would have liked to be a part of. But Tulsa turned out to be not just a colorful city, where yes, the clouds pass but not too quickly. I was struck by something that left me lying flat on a bed in a Ramada Inn. Nobody talked to me. Not because they were fleeing from me or they rejected me. It's that Rumble Fish, the film anyway, was not a topic of conversation for them. It hadn't made an impact on the city. It was filmed there but in an informal way, not in the way its big sister, the immense and technicolored The Outsiders, was shot. It was very difficult for me to make a map of locations. There were no fans, no groupies, no cinephiles. I returned to Santiago with a lot of footage and an immense depression. I didn't have a documentary.

Fuguet's homage, Locaciones, is a collection of recent footage of Tulsa interspersed with clips from Rumble Fish shown on various screens, accompanied by the voices of the movie's admirers talking about when and where they first saw it and how it inspired them. It is in Spanish with English subtitles.

(Confession: I've never read the novel Rumble Fish and, until Wednesday night, had never seen the film.)

To Fuguet and his fellow fans, the Tulsa depicted in Rumble Fish is a "holy city." But the film shows a forgotten Tulsa that would have been very foreign to Tulsans who shopped at Woodland Hills Mall and never ventured north of 41st or west of Yale: Under the Boulder Ave. railroad bridge, a store front at 13 E. Brady Street, in the alley south of 5th Street between Main and Boston, the Sixth Street Subway, the 1400 block of S. Cincinnati, the 1000 block of N. Greenwood, 16th Street next to Marquette School, 3rd and Kenosha, the 23rd Street bridge. This was the Tulsa that Tulsa's leaders of the time were diligently working to update or eliminate -- dilapidated, obsolete, old-fashioned. Where they had already succeeded, when Tulsa couldn't provide the requisite flophouse apartment, mom-and-pop drugstore, and dive beer joint, Coppola took his crew to Sapulpa's better-preserved downtown to make up the deficiency.

rumblefish-greenwood.jpgThe most spectacular scene in the film (from a Tulsa history perspective) is on Greenwood at Archer. The then-recently restored buildings were decked out in neon, awnings, and running lights, and hundreds of extras paraded up and down the block in a scene that was supposed to represent a street party on the wild side of town. While I don't think Greenwood was ever as sleazy as the scene in Rumble Fish, it was as lively, particularly in the '40s and '50s, and Coppola and his set designers do an amazing job of recapturing its lost vitality.

Coppola and Hinton wrote the screenplay on days off during the filming of The Outsiders, and Coppola began shooting Rumble Fish right after the earlier film wrapped. The movie starred Matt Dillon, Mickey Rourke, Diane Lane, Vincent Spano, and Dennis Hopper.

Rumble Fish contains frequent instances of what James Lileks calls "accidental documentary." I found myself wanting to pause every frame, searching blurry backgrounds and plate glass reflections and my own memories for clues that might help me pinpoint the exact location. I didn't follow the story as closely I might have; I was too busy looking at what Tulsa looked like in 1982-1983. (The clock with the flipping ads from Jenks Restaurant even made a prominent appearance.)

Earlier in the evening, I saw an exhibition of photos taken during the filming of Rumble Fish by Gaylord Herron, Joe Cervantez, and Western Doughty, who as a 15-year-old photographed a scene being filmed in his neighborhood, on the south side of Latimer Street between N. Cheyenne and N. Denver Ave. Cervantez had photos of Greenwood and Archer as it was dressed for the film -- tarted up to look like a strip of bars, arcades, news stands, pool halls. He also had a remarkable photo of the buildings on the west side of Greenwood, at the beginning of the restoration process of the handful of post-Riot buildings remaining after the rest had been destroyed in the late '60s by expressway construction and urban renewal. The building facades, propped up by metal poles, were all that remained.

(I'm pretty sure the police officer in the movie was the visual inspiration for Axe Cop. And Vincent Spano totally stole my late '70s - early '80s look.)


Locaciones: Buscando a Rusty James is available for streaming on the website of Cinépata.

Rumble Fish is available online at viooz.co. I have no idea whether this site is licensed to show the movie, but it's there.


If you've seen Rumble Fish and are wondering what it's all about, here are a couple of reviews that seemed especially insightful. (Warning: reviews contain spoilers.)

This Perhapses review of Rumble Fish does a good job of connecting some seemingly unconnected details in the movie.

Rumble Fish, reviewed by Liam's United States of Cinema, as part of a series of reviews of three movies set in Oklahoma.

Tulsa is not like I imagined it. It is a seedy run-down city, like the Great Falls of Thunderbolt and Lightfoot. There is plenty of space for rumbles in the freight yards, under bridges and down alleyways. Drugs are rife. Yet its isolated position on the plains is made clear. The outside world is all around. Roads are thick with dust, winds whip through the streets, and the hurtling, boiling clouds are continually above, reflected in the storefront windows.

He has some notes on the locations of Benny's Billiards, the fight by the train tracks, Rusty James's apartment, the drugstore, the bridge, and the pet store.

The Oklahoma Historical Society has been scanning and posting documents from their archives, and there is a page full of links to architectural and historical surveys of Oklahoma cities and towns. The surveys were mainly conducted over the past 20 years, often by teams of students led by an architectural historian. The intent of a survey is to identify buildings and districts that may be worthy of placement on the National Register of Historic Places, a status that can convey tax benefits and grant eligibility for restoration. A survey usually includes extensive descriptions of the historical context -- when a town developed, what caused it to grow -- and descriptions of individual buildings of interest, with their historical and architectural significance. Maps and photographs are often included.

Tulsa surveys include a 1991 "Reconnaissance Level Survey" of a dozen near-north Tulsa neighborhoods, and intensive-level surveys of downtown, Reservoir Hill, Owen Park, Riverside, Swan Lake, Yorktown, and White City neighborhoods. Bartlesville, Bristow, Broken Arrow, Sand Springs, Nowata, Claremore, Cushing, Okmulgee, Muskogee, and Tahlequah are among the northeast Oklahoma cities that were surveyed.

Tulsa history expert Paul Uttinger pointed me to a couple of amazing U. S. Geological Survey (USGS) aerial photos from 1967. It captures an interesting point in time, as land was beginning to be cleared for I-244 and the Inner Dispersal Loop. Tulsa had, about a year earlier, tripled its land area in a single annexation, but much of that area was still rural. Skelly Drive (I-44) had been finished a decade earlier, the Broken Arrow Expressway was open as far as 21st Street, and bits of other expressways were already under construction. I-244 was already complete to Sheridan, and you can see where overpasses and utility viaducts had been built prior to the roadway. In some images, sections of the Gilcrease Expressway and Sand Springs (Keystone) Expressway can be seen.

Street maps and Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps generally capture only urbanized areas, but these high-resolution, high-altitude photos document the rural outskirts of Tulsa in high detail.

These images also show Tulsa before massive urban renewal. Greenwood is intact, except for demolition for I-244, mainly the buildings on the east side of Greenwood between Archer and Brady, including the Dreamland Theater. Downtown is also largely intact, except for the Civic Center (the 1969 City Hall was under construction), and the beginnings of the erosion of urban fabric for surface parking.

(UPDATE: These images are also available (along with older and newer imagery) via the USGS EarthExplorer website. You can specify a location and a time range and find imagery that includes your area of interest. These images are "Aerial Photo Single Frames" and are found under the "Aerial Imagery" category. Other data sets of interest are National High Altitude Photography (NHAP), Landsat MSS 1-5 (under Landsat Archive), GLS 1975 (under Global Land Survey). The USGS Global Visualization Viewer is another helpful tool for browsing historical aerial and satellite photographs. Here is a description of each of the image collections and data sources.)

Here is a link to the Tulsa Library collection of 1967 USGS aerial photos.

Below are direct links to each of the files that I've explored so far, with notes on interesting places found therein. These are very large PDF files.

I plan to post some "Where in Tulsa?" contests -- each one featuring a clip from one of these images, most likely a place greatly changed in the last 47 years.

Tulsa, north, 1967 USGS aerial photo, Utica Ave to Hudson Ave, Tecumseh St to 51st St N, Lake Yahola, Lakeview Amusement Park

Tulsa, northeast, 1967 USGS aerial photo, 73rd East Ave to 121st East Ave, Tecumseh St to 51st St N, Tulsa Airport, Mingo School, Air National Guard base, American Airlines maintenance base, Air Force Plant No. 3, Tulsa Speedway

Tulsa, northeast, 1967 USGS aerial photo, Darlington Ave to 101st East Ave, Tecumseh St to 51st St N, Tulsa Airport, Tulsa Zoo, Mohawk Park, Recreation Lake, Mingo School, Air National Guard base, American Airlines maintenance base, Air Force Plant No. 3

Tulsa, northeast, 1967 USGS aerial photo, 125th East Ave to 173rd East Ave, 11th St S to 29th St N, I-44/I-244 junction, Rose Dew, Ponderosa Estates, cement plant

Tulsa, north, 1967 USGS aerial photo, Osage County line to Delaware Ave, 41st St N to 71st St N, McLean High School, Suburban Acres, Turley

Tulsa, northeast, 1967 USGS aerial photo, Mingo Rd to 145th East Ave, Tecumseh St to 51st St N, Mingo Valley Expressway, quarries, Mingo School, Tulsa Speedway

Tulsa, northeast, 1967 USGS aerial photo, Memorial Dr to 129th East Ave, 11th St S to 29th Pl N, Mingo Valley, Gilcrease, and Crosstown interchanges (US 169, OK 11, I-244), Tulsa Airport, Air Force Plant No. 3, Western Village, 11th St Drive In Theater

Tulsa, northeast, 1967 USGS aerial photo, 101st East Ave to 149th East Ave, 11th St S to 29th Pl N, Western Village, old Lewis & Clark Junior High, Cooley Lake

Tulsa, northeast, 1967 USGS aerial photo, Zunis Ave to Sheridan Rd, 11th St S to 29th Pl N

Tulsa, downtown & northwest, 1967 USGS aerial photo, 33rd West Ave to Midland Valley tracks, 7th St S to 28th St N

Sand Springs, 1967 USGS aerial photo

Tulsa, northeast, 1967 USGS aerial photo, Harvard Ave to Memorial Dr, 11th St S to 29th Pl N, including old and new airport terminal, McClure Park

Tulsa, west, 1967 USGS aerial photo, 57th West Ave to Nogales Ave, 36th St S to Edison St / Old North Road, including Sun Refinery, Chandler Park, Berryhill

Tulsa, west, 1967 USGS aerial photo, 81st West Ave to 33rd West Ave, 36th St S to Edison St / Old North Road

Tulsa, downtown and midtown, 1967 USGS aerial photo, Union Ave to Birmingham Ave, 34th St S to Edison St / Archer St, includes Texaco Refinery, Civic Center, Utica Square

Tulsa, northeast, north midtown, 1967 USGS aerial photo, Greenwood Ave to Pittsburg Ave, 11th St S to 29th Pl N.

Tulsa, downtown and west, 1967 aerial photo, 41st West Ave to Madison Ave, 34th St S to Edison St, includes downtown, Texaco Refinery, Sun Refinery, west Tulsa

Tulsa, northwest, 1967 USGS aerial photo, 81st West Ave to 33rd West Ave, Charles Page Blvd to 28th St N

Tulsa, midtown, 1967 USGS aerial photo, Yorktown Ave to Joplin Ave, 33rd St S to Archer St, includes Tulsa County Fairgrounds, University of Tulsa

Tulsa, midtown, 1967 USGS aerial photo, Harvard Ave to 85th East Ave, 33rd St S to Archer St, includes Tulsa County Fairgrounds, Ma-Hu Mansion

Tulsa, east, 1967 USGS aerial photo, Hudson Ave to Mingo Valley Expressway, 33rd St S to Archer St, includes Traffic Circle, Mingo Creek

Tulsa, north, 1967 USGS aerial photo, Lewis Ave to Sheridan Rd, 41st St N to 71st St N, includes Lake Yahola, Lakeview Amusement Park, part of Tulsa Zoo

Tulsa, east, 1967 USGS aerial photo, 93rd East Ave to 121st East Ave, 33rd St S to Archer St, includes Western Village, East Central High School, Bates Tourist Hotel, Skelly Drive / Mingo Valley interchange

Tulsa, east, 1967 USGS aerial photo, Mingo Rd to 149th East Ave, 33rd St S to Archer St, includes East Central High School, Bates Tourist Hotel, Harvey Young Airport

Tulsa, far east, 1967 USGS aerial photo, 141st East Ave to 193rd East Ave, 33rd St S to Archer St / I-44, includes KVOO towers, Rose Dew, Rolling Hills, Lynn Lane School

Tulsa, southeast, 1967 USGS aerial photo, 141st East Ave to 193rd East Ave, 53rd St S to 23rd St S, includes Cotton Field airport, Our Lady of Sorrows Convent

Tulsa, southeast, 1967 USGS aerial photo, 125th East Ave to 173rd East Ave, 53rd St S to 23rd St S, includes Mayo farm, Our Lady of Sorrows Convent

Tulsa, southeast, 1967 USGS aerial photo, Memorial Dr to 129th East Ave, 53rd St S to 23rd St S, includes Alsuma, Memorial Park Cemetery, Fulton neighborhood

Tulsa, southeast, 1967 USGS aerial photo, Hudson Ave to 109th East Ave, 55th St S to 23rd St S, includes Alsuma, Memorial Park Cemetery, Fulton neighborhood, Skelly Drive/Broken Arrow Expressway interchange, The Farm

Tulsa, midtown and southeast, 1967 USGS aerial photo, Hudson to 109th East Ave, 23rd St S to 55th St S

Tulsa, midtown and south, 1967 USGS aerial photo, Lewis Ave to Sheridan Rd, 23rd St S to 55th St S, Southland, Southroads, Country Club Plaza, Edison High School, Holland Hall School

Tulsa, midtown and southeast, 1967 USGS aerial photo, Louisville Ave to 89th East Ave, 23rd St S, 54th St S, Skelly/Broken Arrow interchange, Sinclair Research Center, Southroads, Southland, Amoco

Tulsa, midtown and southwest, 1967 USGS aerial photo, Quanah Ave to Delaware Ave, 23rd St S to 54th St S, Texaco Refinery, Garden City, Brookside

Tulsa, midtown and southwest, 1967 USGS aerial photo, 33rd West Ave to Peoria Ave, 23rd St S to 54th St S, Texaco Refinery, Red Fork, Garden City, Brookside

Tulsa, southwest, 1967 USGS aerial photo, 57th West Ave to Lawton Ave, 23rd St S to 54th St S, Red Fork, Texaco Refinery, Garden City, Carbon Dale, Berryhill, South Haven

Tulsa, south, 1967 USGS aerial photo, Elwood Ave to Harvard Ave, 43rd St S to 76th St S, Southern Hills, Turkey Mountain

Tulsa, south, 1967 USGS aerial photo, Utica Ave to Hudson Ave, 43rd St S to 76th St S, Southern Hills, LaFortune Park, St. Francis Hospital, Holiday Hills

Tulsa, south, 1967 USGS aerial photo, Delaware Ave to Memorial Dr, 43rd St S to 76th St S, LaFortune Park, St. Francis Hospital, Holiday Hills

Tulsa, south, 1967 USGS aerial photo, Hudson Ave to 101st East Ave, 43rd St S to 76th St S, LaFortune Park, St. Francis Hospital, Memorial Park

Tulsa, south, 1967 USGS aerial photo, 73rd East Ave to 121st East Ave, 43rd St S to 76th St S, Memorial Park, Alsuma, Union

Broken Arrow, northwest, 1967 USGS aerial photo, 101st East Ave to 165th East Ave, 43rd St S to 76th St S, Floral Haven Cemetery, 51 Drive In

Broken Arrow, north, 1967 USGS aerial photo, 137th East Ave to 185th East Ave, 43rd St S to 76th St S, northern Broken Arrow, Our Lady of Sorrows

Broken Arrow, all, 1967 USGS aerial photo, 149th East Ave to 197th East Ave, 65th St S to 97th St S

Tulsa, southeast, 1967 USGS aerial photo, Sheridan Rd to Garnett Rd, 65th St S to 97th St S, Meadowbrook Country Club

Tulsa, south, 1967 USGS aerial photo, Pittsburg Ave to 89th East Ave, 65th St S to 97th St S, Signal Hill, Holland Hall future campus

Tulsa, south, 1967 USGS aerial photo, Lewis Ave to Sheridan Rd, 65th St S to 97th St S, Oral Roberts University, Rentie Grove, Signal Hill, Hope Hill, Holland Hall future campus, Mill Creek Pond, Jenks bridge

Jenks, east, 1967 USGS aerial photo, Lewis Ave to Sheridan Rd, 87th St S to 121st St S, Rentie Grove, Mill Creek Pond, Jenks bridge, east part of Jenks

Tulsa, far south, 1967 USGS aerial photo, Harvard Ave to Memorial Dr, 87th St S to 121st St S, Rentie Grove, Mill Creek Pond

Tulsa, far south, 1967 USGS aerial photo, Hudson Ave to 101st East Ave, 87th St S to 121st St S, Mill Creek Pond, Bixby North, Haikey Church

Tulsa, far south, 1967 USGS aerial photo, Mingo Rd to 145th East Ave, 87th St S to 117th St S, Haikey Creek Park

Broken Arrow, far south, 1967 USGS aerial photo, Mingo Rd to 145th East Ave, 106th St S to 136th St S, Haikey Creek Park, Indian Springs

Bixby, north, 1967 USGS aerial photo, Sheridan Rd to Garnett Rd, 106th St S to 136th St S, Shallenbarger School

tulsaNow-logo.pngThe April 1, 2014, election to increase Tulsa County sales tax rates to fund a new juvenile justice facility and expansion of the Tulsa County Jail (aka VisionPrison) is the topic of a forum tonight, Tuesday, March 11, 2014, hosted by TulsaNow. The forum will begin at 6, end at 7, and will be held at Foolish Things Coffee, 10th and Main in downtown Tulsa. Speakers will include Tulsa County Commissioner Karen Keith, Deputy Commissioner Mike Willis, and Sheriff Stanley Glanz. Attendees will have a chance to ask questions of the speakers. If you're wondering why Tulsa County voters aren't being given the opportunity to repurpose the Vision 2025 surplus to pay for these requests, this would be a good chance to ask.

Today is the birthday of Tulsa County Assessor Ken Yazel, and it seems as good a time as any to salute him for his hard work on behalf of Tulsa's taxpayers these past 12 years. Ken is running for re-election to a fourth four-year term, and I encourage you to give him your full support. You can "like" his Facebook page and get updates on opportunities to volunteer for his campaignken_yazel.jpg

A couple of weeks ago, at the Oklahoma Growth and Opportunity Summit, Steve Anderson, the former budget director for the State of Kansas, explained how the state went from a prospective $500 million shortfall to a $500 million surplus under the leadership of Gov. Sam Brownback, while still cutting income tax rates. One of the keys was to bring all money under the control of state agencies through the budgeting and appropriation process, including leftover money from previous years. Another important step was to eliminate many of the earmarks that siphoned off state revenue before it ever reached the budget process.

Ken Yazel, who, as County Assessor, is a member of the County Budget Board, has been fighting for those same reforms in Tulsa County. Rather than ask the citizens for more tax dollars to pay for needed projects, Yazel wants to fund those projects from money the county already receives. He wants all county money come through the budget process to be prioritized, rather than allowing each elected official to have his own pot of money outside the scrutiny of the budget system. Yazel has called for the people to decide whether to allocate surplus Vision 2025 funds (the tax will be collected through 2016) for jail and juvenile justice facilities, rather than allowing it to be spent on lower-priority projects.

What I wrote about Ken Yazel during his last run in 2010 still holds true today:

Yazel has at times been the lone voice at the County Courthouse raising concern about wasteful spending and deceptive budget numbers. He has been one of the few elected officials to speak publicly against tax hike initiatives like the River Tax.

Yazel has also defended taxpayer interests by insisting on fair property assessments for everyone, even the very wealthy. If someone builds a $25 million house, they ought to pay property taxes on the full amount; otherwise, property taxes go up for the rest of us to make up the difference. Because Ken Yazel stands up for all taxpayers, the very wealthy have made him a target. We need to stand up for him.

Ken Yazel has also been a great friend to public access to public records. Public means online, and Ken Yazel added to the county assessor website the ability to search the Tulsa County assessor property database online. You no longer have to go to the library to find out who owns a piece of property or how much it's worth. You no longer have to ask the County Commissioners permission and pay a monthly fee to access this public information. My story on where the named members of Save Our Tulsa live and the median value of their homes would not have been possible without this valuable research tool. Oklahoma County has had this sort of tool for many years, while most Tulsa County officials resisted. Yazel's leadership on this issue alone is enough to earn my heartiest endorsement.

The County Assessor's website now includes an interactive map to find information about parcels of interest. You don't have to know the address -- you just navigate through the map and click. It puts a great deal of power in the hands of ordinary homeowners or home buyers trying to figure out what a piece of property is worth, and it's available anywhere, any time, day or night.

(By contrast, you can't search the County Clerk's land transaction records without going to a library, and you can't see the image of the transaction without going to the clerk's office during working hours.)

I encourage you to get involved in Ken Yazel's re-election campaign. Your next opportunity is a volunteer day tomorrow, February 28, 2014, 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 pm, at the campaign HQ at 909 B South Lynn Lane in Broken Arrow.

Art Rubin, RIP

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art_rubin.jpgArthur E. Rubin, grand old man of the Tulsa County GOP, died Sunday, February 2, 2014, at the age of 93. Visitation is tonight, Friday, February 7, 2014, from 5 - 7 p.m. at Moore Funeral Home Rosewood Chapel at 2570 S. Harvard. Funeral is Saturday, February 8, 2014, at 11:00 a.m. at Christ the Redeemer Lutheran Church, 2550 E. 71st St (south side of the street, east of Lewis Ave.) in Tulsa. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations in Art's memory to St. Simeon's Episcopal Home, where he spent his final years.

Art was a Republican stalwart when being a Republican in Oklahoma seemed like a lost cause. It's hard to imagine, but there was a time when an overwhelming percentage of Oklahomans were "yellow dog" Democrats, and elections were won or lost in the Democratic primary. In 1960, the earliest year for which statistics are available, only 17.6% of Oklahoma voters were registered Republican, and 82% were registered Democrat. That was about the time Art became active in Republican politics, right after a disastrous 1958 election in which Democratic nominee J. Howard Edmondson won 74% of the vote to Phil Ferguson's 20%.

It took a great deal of courage and perseverance to be a Republican in those days. Art worked to rebuild the party nearly from scratch, recruiting candidates and marshaling volunteers and donors. Art saw his efforts rewarded as Oklahoma elected its first Republican governor in 1962 and began an unbroken streak of voting for Republican presidential candidates in 1968, and as Republicans swept every U. S. Senate and House seat in 1994, gained a majority in the State House in 2000 for the first time since 1920 and took the State Senate in 2008, and had begun to make inroads in once-rock-solid Democratic county courthouses. At his passing, Republicans were nearing a plurality of registered voters (always a lagging indicator), with 43.2% to the Democrats 44.8%

In 1988, Art Rubin served as one of Oklahoma's presidential electors, casting his vote for George H. W. Bush and Dan Quayle. He was a delegate to the 1992 Republican National Convention. He was an early and fervent supporter of John Sullivan's special-election run for Congress in 2001/2002. He was a beloved presence at party conventions and club luncheons, and his advice was often sought out by office holders and party officials. While his wavy hair turned white over time, the determined gaze you see in the photo above never dimmed.

One of the earliest entries on BatesLine was about a May 2003 banquet honoring Art Rubin for his decades of service to the Republican Party.

Art did not mince words. In this story about the 1991 Tulsa County Republican convention, Art said of Vince Orza, a Republican gubernatorial candidate who endorsed Democrat David Walters for governor in 1990, "The guy is a two-faced s.o.b.; you can't trust him. He invited Walters to his house." Of the job of party County Chairman, Rubin remarked, "Nobody else wants that damned job. It's a lousy job. All you do is get criticized and thrown out."

Art was a Ronald Reagan conservative, staunchly pro-life. He preached the importance of party unity, urging that, as Republicans, our differences with the Democrats are more profound than our differences with one another.

Art and his wife Doris lived for many years on Gary Lake, at 2854 S. Gary Avenue, north of 31st Street. He raised endangered trumpeter swans and other waterfowl on the lake, starting in 1969. In 1989, he donated a pair of swans, later given the names Fred and Ginger, to the new pond on the University Center at Tulsa (now OSU-Tulsa) campus. The lake was notable for its flamboyant Christmas displays, and the Rubin home was no exception.

Professionally, Art Rubin was an attorney specializing in family law, a 1950 graduate of OU Law School, an associate of the Gable Gotwals firm.

One of his legal anecdotes was quoted in a 2006 Tulsa World story about divorce court:

Longtime attorney Art Rubin could have died in divorce court when it was revealed that his client, who swore she was a devoted Christian wife, was sleeping with another man.

Rubin asked the woman during testimony whether this was true.

"Yes," she said, "but the good Lord has already forgiven me."

An online professional profile lists his credits as follows:

Phi Delta Phi. Associate Editor, Oklahoma Bar Journal, 1978-1984. Author: Property Division in Divorce, 54 Oklahoma Bar Journal 531, February 26, 1983. Assistant Professor of Law, University of Tulsa, 1951-1952. Member, Oklahoma Industrial Finance Authority, 1965-1973; Tulsa River Parks Authority, 1980-1986. Member, Board of Trustees, Oklahoma Public Employees Retirement System, 1989-1991. Member, Federal Judge Selection Committee, Northern District of Oklahoma.

MORE: The Oklahoma Republican Party issued this tribute to Art Rubin:

The Oklahoma Republican Party wishes to express their condolences for the Arthur Rubin family of Tulsa upon the passing of their father, grandfather, and friend. Arthur Rubin's leadership within the Oklahoma Republican Party earned him a reputation as the "grandfather" of the Tulsa County Republican Party, and his advice, energy, dedication, and understanding gained him state and national recognition. Chairman Dave Weston said, "Oklahomans will miss Mr. Rubin and all that he contributed to the Republican Party, but also who he was as an individual."

If you'd like to share your memories of Art Rubin, I'd be honored to add them here. Post a comment or email me at blog@batesline.com


At Art Rubin's funeral, he was eulogized by U. S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, law firm colleague Jim Gotwals, and a family friend.

Inhofe told the oft-repeated story of how Art Rubin got him to run for office for the first time. The scene is lunch at the Beacon Grill at 4th and Boston, 1966, shortly after the election of State Sen. Dewey Bartlett (father of Tulsa's current mayor) as Oklahoma's second Republican governor, leaving his legislative seat vacant.

Art never asked you to do anything. He told you. So we sat down on these little round stools that they had at the Beacon Grill, and he says, "I want you to run for the vacancy that's been created because Dewey Bartlett's now the governor." And I said, "Art, I'm not going to do it.... First of all, I've got all these kids at home," and Art said, "It's a part-time job." And he's right, it was. And I said, "I don't have any organization," and he said, "You need an organizer." And he looked up, and there was a lady walking across the Beacon Grill, her name was Millie Thompson.... he said, "Millie, come over here. I want you to head up the 'Volunteers for Inhofe' -- he's going to run for the state legislature."

Now I know that there are people -- 'cause I'm kind of extreme and you know that -- there are people in here who don't like me. You won't raise your hand, you won't acknowledge it now, but I know you don't. So -- but if you don't like me, don't blame me, blame Art.

Art Rubin's funeral program was a traditional Lutheran liturgy, including readings from Scripture (Isaiah 61:1-3, Psalm 23, Revelation 21:2-7, John 6:35-40), congregational hymns ("O Day of Rest and Gladness," "In the Garden," and "How Great Thou Art") and a sermon from the Rev. Scott Burmeister, pastor of Christ the Redeemer Lutheran Church.


Norman James writes:

Art and I were cousins. We finished school at about the same time, and had rooms in adjacent houses on South Carson. One evening we were walking to dinner (neither of us owned a car), talking about jobs and money. He was earning $150 a month as a law clerk, I was making $225 as a "Laborer". Art said, "I would be SO happy if I knew I could make $500 a month the rest of my life."

Jane Dunlap Maxey posted this on the Facebook group "North Tulsa 50's 60's & 70's - The Real Outsiders." It's a menu from Shakey's Pizza, labeled summer 1967. I thought it deserved reposting in a more permanently accessible location.


Shakey's Pizza
Spicy - Supreme - Robust - Exotic
... From the giant 750° ovens in the window ...

Public House Special (pepperoni and chopped green pepper)
Smoked Oyster (with olive oil)
Shakey's Famous Italian Sausage (spicy Italian)
Italian Sausage & Black Olive
Italian Salami
Lean Beef & Chopped Onions
Louisiana Shrimp
Spiced Pepperoni
Portugese Linguica (like Canadian bacon with garlic)
Imported Anchovies (from Lisbon) recommended only for anchovie lovers
Canadian Bacon
White Mushrooms (cooked in butter)
Italian Black Olive
Idiot's Delight (pimento & green pepper)
Plain (tomato - spices & exotic cheeses)
Portland Supreme (salami & green pepper)
Right Hander's Special (Friday or Lent) shrimp, mushroom & olive
Eastern Polish Sausage
Imported Sardine
Shakey's Special (Combination without anchovie)
Big Ed Special (Combination without olive)

Pizza to take home ... 10¢ extra


Shakey's Pizza is prepared with exotic blends of imported herbs, spices, and delicacies.

It was a highlight of going to Shakey's (or Shotgun Sam's) to get to look through the window at the pizza dough being tossed and the pies being slid into the ovens.

Some mysteries... perhaps you can solve them:

  • What exotic cheeses were used in the plain pizza? And doesn't that undermine the notion of "plain"?
  • What was it about the combination of pimento & green pepper that especially delighted idiots?
  • If the Shakey's Special = ( Combination - Anchovies ) and Big Ed Special = ( Combination - Olive ), what else was in the Combination besides anchovies and olives?
  • Why do they call a pizza compliant with Catholic dietary restrictions of the time (no meat on Fridays or in Lent) a Right-Hander's Special?
  • Portland was a thing in 1967?

According to my copy of the 1966 Tulsa telephone book, Shakey's Pizza had two locations: 3647 S. Peoria (TEmple 5-1529) and 9124 E. Admiral (RIverside 7-1331).

Other advertisers in the "Pizza" section of the Yellow Pages that year:

Irish Mike Clancy's Pizza Village Inn, 1060-B S. Mingo Rd.
Johnny Reb's Pizza Parlor, 5651 W. Skelly Dr.
Ken's Pizza Parlor, 3024 E. 11th St, 1515 S. Sheridan
Lea's Italian Pizzeria, 1605 E. 15th St., 4207 S. Peoria, 3632 N. Peoria, 4631 E. 31st. St., 3945 E. Admiral Pl. (Midtown, Southside, Northside, Eastside, and Northeast, respectively)
The Pizza House, 6545 E. 11th St.
Pizza Hut, 5951 E. 31st St., 5303 E. 11th, 4201 S. Peoria
Pizza Inn, 7737 E. 21st St.
Sussy's Pizza, 2918 E. 11th St.
Tulsa Maiden Drive-In, 1204 S. Peoria
Tulsa Pizza Co., 912 W. Admiral
The Villa, 1546 S. Sheridan Rd.

Johnny Reb's ad invited the reader to

BRING THE FAMILY Old German Style Dark Beer 20 Varieties of Pizza Dine In or Pizza To Go Close To Motels

The Villa boasted "delicious Pizza Baked on Bricks" and "Black Beer." Ken's had "light and dark tap beer" and assured the reader that their pizza was "Made Fresh When Ordered." Pizza Inn offered "an environment for the whole family, light & dark beer, poor boy sandwiches, salads" for dine in or carry out.

MORE: Here's a montage of photos, ads and menus from Shakey's, set to banjo music. Unfortunately, Shakey's classic jingle -- "Shakey's is shakin' up... pizza, people!" -- has yet to make it to the internet.

Randy Brown has been posting Top 30 hit lists from his days at Tulsa's legendary rock station KAKC (he called himself Bob Scott on the air) on Tulsa Memories from the 60's and 70's Facebook group. The lists were based on surveys of sales at local record stores. He posted the KAKC Top 30 from September 8, 1971, and wrote:

I always sort of made it my mission in life to take over the design and publication of the weekly Big 30 list at every radio station I worked at. In 1971, I gave our Big 30 sheet a pretty dramatic redesign. And lookie!! There I am on the cover, handing over a check for cash to a lucky KAKC contest winner who knew the phrase that pays in our Pay Phone contest. Survey dated September 8, 1971.

Well, that date rang a bell. In September 1971, right after Labor Day, I started at Holland Hall as a 3rd grader, back when the lower and middle schools were at 2660 S. Birmingham Place.

That's also the week when I first heard KAKC. At our house we listened to KRMG-AM and -FM (now KWEN 95.5) -- middle-of-the-road and easy listening, respectively.

Mom taught in Catoosa and Dad worked downtown, and we lived in Rolling Hills, then unincorporated territory east of Tulsa and about 12 miles from school. So I was in a carpool. Dad would meet the carpool at the 11th & Garnett DX (SE corner, now Mazzio's).

Mr. Ivers, the elementary PE teacher, was the driver, and he was a KAKC listener.

He had a Volkswagen station wagon, and somehow he managed to squeeze five or six students in the car with him. There were a couple of sisters and a veterinarian's daughter who lived near the KVOO towers. On the way to school we picked up a Monte Cassino student (a girls' high school back then) who lived in the Rosewood neighborhood NW of 11th and Mingo. (The neighborhood was demolished after the 1984 Memorial Day flood.) Then we drove south on Memorial, stopping to pick up a girl who lived on the west side of the street, just south of a creek, about where 13th Street would have been if it had gone through. On south to 21st, then west to Lewis, south on Lewis to drop off the Monte Cassino student, then left on 27th Place and the south entrance to Holland Hall's Eight Acres campus.

Since we rode in a VW, we played a game like "Slug Bug" -- counting VWs along the way. The big prize went to the first one to call the big VW repair shop on the SW corner of 21st and Yale -- dozens of beetles, wagons, and microbuses.

KAKC was the soundtrack of my daily ride to school, new music en route to a new school in an unfamiliar part of town. My life the two previous years had centered around Admiral and 193rd East Ave. -- church, school, the Red Bud grocery store, Raley's Pharmacy, TG&Y, Lon's Laundry, In'n'Out convenience store. There was the occasional visit to a doctor's office or big shopping center in "Tulsa proper," but that involved crossing four or five miles of farmland. I was leaving behind the school where Mom taught and where my neighbors and Sunday School classmates went.

The music made an impression, and a song from that week's top 30 list has strong associations with those first rides to school: The banjo-infused "Sweet City Woman" by The Stampeders. Maybe I identified with the lyrics. "So long, Ma, so long, Pa, so long, neighbors and friends" -- if only for seven hours.

Here's a playlist I put together of all 30 songs, starting with #30 ("Imagine" -- sorr