Tulsa: July 2003 Archives

KOTV Channel 6 had a story last night about Nordam moving aircraft repair jobs to Tulsa from Texas. (I can't find last night's story on their website, so I've linked to an earlier story.) To the credit of the KOTV reporter (and his editor), the report made a point of saying that in the midst of a vote on incentives for Boeing and American Airlines, Nordam was not receiving financial incentives or tax breaks to relocate one of their divisions here. They just thought it made good sense for their company.

Our route into downtown was the Broken Arrow Expressway, then north on US 75, to the 7th Street exit. The first stoplight you hit on 7th Street is Elgin. I know that turning there will take me to the Blue Dome district, but to the unenlightened visitor, there is no indication that this is the place to turn. Times are tight, but perhaps the city could put up a sign.

As we drove north on Elgin, an idea struck me. Elgin should be the new downtown retail corridor, the new "main street". It is already anchored by Home Depot at the south end, and as it goes north, it intersects the 7th/8th Street interchange with the inner dispersal loop, goes past parking lots and a few commercial buildings, including the old Bill White Chevy dealership, connects to the edge of the Blue Dome district, then crosses the tracks not far from either Greenwood or Brady Village.

Elgin between 7th & the Frisco tracks is part of the proposed East Village district. The Tulsa Development Authority is working with a developer to try to create a district with housing, shopping, and entertainment. The TDA owns some of the land in the district and has plans to acquire more. The TDA could designate Elgin as the preferred location for retail, while encouraging more residential and office uses to the east.

How would we make it the new main street? Encourage retailers interested in downtown clientele to build there. Set design guidelines to require urban, pedestrian friendly street frontage along Elgin -- buildings with windows, not empty lots or blank walls, where possible. Try to get someone to build something dramatic right at 7th & Elgin as a grand entrance to downtown and an anchor to this new commercial corridor.

Oh, and strongly encourage the dirty movie theater at 3rd & Elgin to vacate the area. This idea won't take off as long as that blight is present.

For what it's worth -- I have no financial or property interest here. I was just driving down the street and had a Vision.

Where's the music in downtown?


After dinner Friday night, my wife suggested driving downtown to see what it was like. It was about 10 o' clock when we arrived, and we drove through the Blue Dome district, then across to Brady Village.

While we didn't see a lot of people out on the street, there were plenty of cars on the street and in the lots. The parking lots around the Old Lady on Brady were full -- the theatre was featuring "1964", the Beatles tribute band.

What surprised us was the lack of music around these venues. We had the windows down as we drove past, but all we could hear were crickets chirping. I had expected to hear live or recorded music spilling out into the street, grabbing the ears of passers-by the way the hickory smoke from Jamil's chimney grabs the noses of travelers on I-44.

So I have a question: Is this because of the city's noise ordinance, or for some other reason? The noise ordinance is a help for Tulsa's residential areas, but it would make sense to relax it in downtown. I think the sort of people who want to live downtown wouldn't be bothered by music from nearby clubs -- it would be part of the attraction.

I guess I had heard about this years ago, but I had blocked it out, it was so appalling.

The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated a lawsuit by eight parents against the local Head Start program (run by Community Action Project). Here's the court's summary of the case:

In this civil rights action, parents of eight pre-school children enrolled in the Head Start program in Tulsa, Oklahoma, complain that their children were subjected to intrusive physical examinations, including genital examinations and blood tests, on school premises without parental notice or consent. They claim that the Head Start agency, defendant Tulsa Community Action Project, falsely represented to medical personnel that consent forms had been obtained for each of the children and insisted on examinations even for children with up-to-date physicals supplied by their own doctors. They claim that these examinations violated their rights under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution and under state law.

Later in the ruling is a more detailed description of what occurred. I will omit the really lurid parts.

The examinations challenged in this case were conducted in an ordinary classroom, with desks used as examination tables. The examining areas were separated only by partitions, so that it was possible for other children to see or hear portions of the examinations performed on their classmates. According to the plaintiffs, no doctor was present and the nurses were not in uniform, and the children were given no explanation regarding what was happening.... According to the plaintiffs, some of the children were upset and confused about the event, though testimony regarding their exact words was the subject of a motion in limine pending as of the grant of summary judgement. With the exception of Misti Dubbs, who was present in her capacity as a Head Start aide, no parents or guardians were with their children during the examinations. Parents were not given prior notice, and were not informed by telephone that day regarding the examinations. According to CAP, notification letters were prepared and available at the project site, but "[u]nfortunately" were "not distributed to the children to take home to their parents."

As far as I can tell, both sides agree that the exams were performed; the only dispute is about whether the exams violated the civil rights of the children.

This sort of thing has been happening in other places around the country, often in connection with Head Start.

Here's a story from World Net Daily in 1999 about the Tulsa case. And here's the press release by the Rutherford Institute, which represented the parents in this case.

What in the world was to be gained by subjecting three, four, and five-year-olds to this kind of treatment?

Another Michael Bates from Tulsa makes the news more frequently than I do. He is Michael S. Bates, director of human resources for the City of Tulsa. Although I am often up at City Hall, I am not now and never have been employed by the City. I'm sure Michael S. would prefer not to be blamed for some of my opinions. I (Michael D.) would prefer not to be blamed for some of his policies, especially as he's having to make some rather unpleasant decisions related to the budget shortfall.

Hope that clears things up. Maybe now I won't get nasty looks when I'm introduced to a city employee.

P.S. There's another Michael D. Bates in Tulsa -- same middle name even -- and according to the voter rolls he was born the same year. My apologies for any inconvenience!

TulsaNow is running a poll about the September 9 sales tax.

Also, the TulsaNow website includes discussion forums on a variety of Tulsa topics -- anyone can read, you must register to post.

Tulsa Today's City Talk Forum is another opportunity for online discussion of Dialog / Visioning. There are some pretty vigorous debates underway.

I've also noticed some discussion in a couple of Usenet groups: ok.general and ok.tulsa.general

Postcards from the road


Found a site today that captures some of the "romance of the road" that travelers are looking for when they search out the old highways. It's called "Postcards from the Road", and it's the work of Laurel Kane, who has been restoring a 1930's service station in Afton, Oklahoma. There's a wonderful essay about her love for motels and Route 66, and a collection of postcards from old Route 66 motels and landmarks, complete with the messages on the back.

Here's my favorite, on a postcard of Chain of Rocks Bridge:

Sept. 1961 --

Dears, We just came over this bridge. Coming back, we intend to bypass this dumb bypass!! It’s all torn up and took up 1 3/4 hours to go about 30 miles -- and it is about 95 degrees in the shade only we can’t find any shade. Finally found an air-cond. Holiday Inn with a soda fountain and Mobil 24.9 cents/gal. Whee! Love and Kisses, G and M

Whee, indeed!

Laurel Kane has captured the spirit that should guide whatever we do with Route 66 in Tulsa County.

Cherie Cook (resume is here) writes to alert me to a website aimed at helping to place laid-off workers so they won't have to leave Tulsa. Tulsa has a lot of unemployed engineers, managers, and other white-collar workers, because of problems at companies like WorldCom and Williams. I have many friends in this situation, unemployed or underemployed. They love Tulsa, and they would dearly love to stay here, but they can't stay unless they can find work. (Not one of them has said that they are moving because Tulsa lacks a 20,000-seat sports arena.) These people represent intellectual capital, and their departure would make it harder to attract new high tech business to Tulsa, and harder for existing high tech companies to expand.

I'm pleased to read that there is an effort to stop the brain drain. There's a website called www.tulsastoptalent.org, a project of Tulsa's federally-funded Workforce Investment Board. It includes a collection of about 100 resumes of workers in 10 categories, such as administrative, engineering, finance, and information technology. Just a browse through some resumes reveals a wealth of knowledge and experience that we can't afford to lose.

When Joel Kotkin spoke in Tulsa last May, he urged Tulsa to find ways to keep laid-off telecom workers here:

But Tulsa can emerge from the Williams Communication Group Inc. bankruptcy crisis stronger than ever by coming up with a plan.

"You should react by saying not that the end is near, but how do we overcome it," Kotkin said. "Those in the telecom industry still have knowledge and skills. Find a way to redeploy them, either in existing companies or by starting new ones."

Tulsa should refine its ability to attract and retain well-educated and highly skilled workers or lose out to other communities with that edge, he said.

"That is the real key issue for Tulsa. . . . All the traditional ideas of economic development, particularly those used here in the Midwest, have failed. I really believe human capital will be much more important in the future, and Tulsa has much to offer in that regard."

If you are hiring, have a look at www.tulsastoptalent.org before searching further.

To tie this back into the upcoming "Forfeit 4 Greater Taxes" vote: The package on the ballot September 9 is heavily focused on the "traditional ideas of economic development" described by Kotkin as "failed": $372 million in taxpayer-funded incentives to attract big companies and $183 million for a sports arena and convention center; Kotkin characterized advocates of that strategy as living in the wrong decade. Aircraft assembly jobs at Boeing, maintenance jobs at American, concession and custodial jobs at a new arena -- an increase in those kinds of jobs will not create new job opportunities for displaced high-tech workers.

Participants in this year's Tulsa course of the Royal School for Church Music will sing several Choral Evensong services around Tulsa this week. Here's the schedule:

Monday 14 July - Thursday 17 July 7:45 p.m. - University United Methodist Church 5th Street and South College Avenue

Friday 18 July
6:00 p.m. - First Presbyterian Church
7th and Boston Avenue

Sunday 20 July
4:00 p.m. - Trinity Episcopal Church
5th and Cincinnati

The course participants will also sing the morning liturgy at Trinity
Episcopal Church on Sunday 20 July at 11:15 a.m.

James Litton - Director; Jeremy Bruns - Organist

Music by Shephard, Archer, Bairstow, Sowerby, Sumsion, Smith, Bainton, Mundy and Howells

Choral evensong is a brief, traditional Anglican service that combines the reading of scripture, Psalms set to Anglican chant, and eloquent prayers that are as relevant today as when they were composed over 400 years ago. It is a world away from contemporary worship services that seem more focused on the worship leader than on God. Make it a point to attend at least one service this week.

This week, the week of the 4th Sunday after Trinity, each evening's service will include the following "collect" (prayer):

O God, the protector of all that trust in thee, without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy; Increase and multiply upon us thy mercy; that, thou being our ruler and guide, we may so pass through things temporal, that we finally lose not the things eternal: Grant this, O heavenly Father, for Jesus Christ's sake our Lord.

Thanks for the compliment!


Was looking at thetulsan.com tonight and amidst many other interesting bits of information spotted a link titled "Visioning 2025: The Ultimate Guide". This should be interesting, I thought, as I clicked on it, and found myself at... www.batesline.com.

To TheTulsan: I am deeply honored. Thank you!

Richard Florida has received a lot of press recently for his new book about the "creative class" and how a city prospers when it is a place that the creative class wants to be. There was a review of his book in the first issue of The Next American City.

In the latest issue of American Enterprise, Joel Kotkin questions some of Florida's assumptions, and observes that most of the growth today is occurring in family-friendly and business-friendly regions, like southern California's Inland Empire:

Alvarez, who bought his Ford-Lincoln agency seven years ago and added a Jaguar dealership last year, has boosted his sales from ten cars per month in the mid 1990s to 114 a month now. He credits most of his success, and that of the other 15 dealers at the Riverside Auto Center, to the remarkable demographic and business growth that has made the Riverside-San Bernardino region of Southern California into arguably the strongest regional economy in the nation. Since June 2001, this highly suburban region east of Los Angeles, known locally as the Inland Empire—with a population exceeding 3 million people—has enjoyed annual job growth of over 3 percent.

No other area of the country of comparable size has experienced anything like this rate of job creation during the current soft economy. According to Economy.com, California’s overall job numbers fell by 0.2 percent during the same period (driven largely by a rapid collapse of the over-inflated, over-hyped tech sector in the San Francisco Bay area), while the national rate dropped by a full percentage point.

The striking success of the Inland Empire—and the poor performance of places like San Francisco and other glamour economies of the late ’90s such as New York City, Boston, and Seattle—sharply rebuts recent conventional media wisdom on the underpinnings of economic growth. In the late 1990s, a trendy argument launched by academics and propagated by journalists held that future economic growth depended on attracting high-technology workers and affluent yuppies. It was said that this in turn would happen only in places with lots of graduate students, artists, bohemians, homosexuals, and unmarried singles packed into a vertical city with loads of nightlife. In other words, places exactly the opposite of the sprawling, highly familial, lower-bourgeois Inland Empire....

Kotkin identifies a number of growth cities that don't fit the "Creative City" mold -- not only family-friendly, but more accommodating to business, and less wedded to high-tech.

America’s new growth spots tend to be economies centered around basic industries like construction, distribution, retail, and low-tech manufacturing. This can be seen in the relative success of such diverse economies as Portland, Maine; Sioux Falls, South Dakota; and McAllen, Texas. Some tech centers—like Boise, Raleigh, Austin, and Provo—also rank as family-friendly locales, with well-above-average rates of married-with-children households.

In addition to being much more family friendly places, today’s growth regions tend to differ from fashionable but economically lagging parts of the Northeast and coastal California in another way: They have different attitudes toward business and enterprising. Places like the Inland Empire are very friendly toward founders and builders of business establishments. In these places, expansion is regarded by citizens, local government, and regional media much more as a good thing than as a source of problems. That attitude is reversed in many more culturally liberal regions—and in the national media.

Tulsa seems to fit this description to a T -- so why aren't we prospering in the same way as Provo and McAllen? Kotkin doesn't say, but I'll suggest that Oklahoma is not as friendly toward capital formation and job creation as it needs to be, and that's a change that can only be made at the State Capitol, by modifying our tax and regulatory regimes.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Tulsa category from July 2003.

Tulsa: June 2003 is the previous archive.

Tulsa: August 2003 is the next archive.

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