Tulsa: April 2004 Archives

Remembering Nancy Apgar


Tulsa lost a treasure last week. Nancy Apgar, longtime leader in the Brookside Neighborhood Association, passed away Friday. There will be a memorial service today at 11 at 1st Presbyterian Church, downtown, 7th & Boston.

Nancy came from Philadelphia to Tulsa with Cities Service in the '70s, and after her retirement in 1984, she began a sort of second career as a community leader and neighborhood activist. She was one of the founding board members of the Brookside Neighborhood Association, which was formed in the midst of a zoning battle in 1991. Over the years she served the association as Vice President for Zoning and as President, and I believe she served continuously on the board of the association from its founding. Since Brookside joined the Midtown Coalition of Neighborhood Associations in 1999, Nancy served as Brookside's representative on the Coalition. The Mayor's Office for Neighborhoods recognized her service with a "Picket Fence" award, and in 2002 she was recognized as a Community Hero by the City of Tulsa.

Nancy was one of the most effective neighborhood advocates I've ever seen. She did her homework on an issue, and when she spoke, she presented the case simply and effectively. She kept her cool under fire. She was persistent and direct, but never impolite.

Some self-interested parties like to characterize neighborhood advocates as knee-jerk naysayers and anti-business NIMBYs. Nancy Apgar didn't resemble that caricature a bit. Nancy built good working relationships between the Brookside Business Association and the Brookside Neighborhood Association. She understood that the neighborhood consists of the businesses and the residents together and that the presence of each enhanced the other. The residential area forms a big part of the customer base for the business district, and the pedestrian-friendly shopping district is a big part of the appeal of the neighborhood as a place to live.

Nancy also understood the importance of boundaries and balance between the two aspects of the neighborhood. She picked her battles carefully, and when she got involved in a battle, it was because she saw a threat to that balance. That's why she worked against commercial encroachment into the residential area, worked against turning Brookside into a concentrated nightclub district, and worked for enforcement of the noise ordinance. For the benefit of the neighborhood, she also worked against widening Riverside Drive and for a traffic light at 41st Street and Riverside, allowing neighborhood residents safe access to River Parks.

Nancy kept her ear to the ground, and if she got wind of plans for a new development, she'd do some digging and get in touch with the developer. Wise developers would seek her out long before seeking city approval for a zoning change. She would prefer to work with the developer to accommodate neighborhood concerns while allowing the project to meet its objectives, rather than have to oppose the whole project. If you comb through the minutes of the TMAPC and the Board of Adjustment, you'll often find Nancy expressing her support for a zoning change and praising the applicant for addressing the neighborhood's concerns.

In 1999, when then-Mayor Savage announced funding for infill development plans for three neighborhoods, Nancy successfully pushed to have Brookside included in the process, and then participated in the planning process over the next few years, along with business leaders and city planners. The Brookside plan has been adopted, and implementation is just beginning. The plan was all about how to accommodate new growth and development while protecting the aspects of the neighborhood's character that make it a desirable place to live and have a business.

It was my privilege to know Nancy and work with her. We first worked together on the Albertson's zoning battle and as members of the initial Brookside Neighborhood Association board. We lost touch for a few years after I bought a house and moved out of the neighborhood, but connected again through the Midtown Coalition. Nancy's reports on events in Brookside were a feature of nearly every Coalition meeting. She was an encouragement to me in many ways and was kind enough to endorse me and to contribute to my 2002 City Council campaign. At the same time, she wasn't shy about letting me know if she thought I was off base -- always plain-spoken, but never impolite.

The headline on the business section of Sunday's Whirled read "Booming Brookside". Nancy Apgar has had a major part in laying the groundwork for that boom.

There's talk of placing a statue in memory of Nancy in Brookside, perhaps something like one of the NatureWorks animal bronzes in River Parks. If this is done, the plaque should include the Latin motto, "Lector, si requiris monumentum, circumspice" -- reader, if you seek her monument, look around you.

Julie DelCour's Whirled column


I have only this much to say at the moment:

Yes, I read it. Someone e-mailed it to me Sunday morning.

When I saw it, I sighed. It deserves a thorough rebuttal, because it is hogwash, but I determined I was not going to let the Tulsa Whirled spoil my Sunday. I will get to it, but not now.

All right -- just this one point:

This past election voters, for their own reasons, turned out two incumbents, Art Justis and David Patrick.

Here is an analysis of the politics of the new City Council, and Ms. Del Cour can't be bothered even to speculate on why these two Councilors were turned out of office. (And a third, Baker, nearly was ousted.) The whole election turned on issues of fairness and openness, particularly with regard to land use planning, points that were hammered in the alternative media. Of course, the F&M Bank rezoning -- remember that the publisher of the Whirled is the Chairman of F&M Bancorporation -- was the symbol of the badly slanted approach the previous Council took to such issues.

That's all for now.

A name for this bunch


I have struggled with what to call this cluster of special interests which has been trying to run the City of Tulsa without public input, and preferably without public debate. The "Developers, Chamber, and Establishment" party was one awkward attempt at labeling them. I've used the term "bad guys" as shorthand -- not very descriptive. Trying to label them by referring to the F&M Bank rezoning controversy is problematic, because it was just one skirmish in an ongoing struggle.

But now a name suggests itself, thanks to the revelation about this City Council working group which has been discussing strategic public policy issues behind closed doors. Disdain for public debate and public scrutiny is the defining characteristic of this faction. When the Whirled complains that the new Council is going to be contentious, they mean that the Council will debate the issues in view of the public. The heart of John Benjamin's complaint about Chris Medlock's vote against Randy Sullivan for chairman -- his vote and Jim Mautino's shattered the illusion of unanimity, revealing a difference of opinion that shouldn't be aired.

They don't like the light of public scrutiny, so they conduct their business in the dark. But just because we can't see what's going on, it doesn't mean that they aren't there, contaminating public policy out of sight.

Why don't they like the light? Here's a link to reputable 2000 year old opinion on the subject. They know they aren't serving the interests of all Tulsans. They're serving the interests of a favored few, but they don't want us to know that.

I hereby dub this faction of Tulsa politics the Cockroach Caucus.

At present, there are two councilors who are definitely aligned with the Cockroach Caucus (Sullivan and Baker). Two of the Cockroaches (Patrick and Justis) were eliminated in the election.

Another two (Christiansen and Neal) that have shown some independence in the past, and seem to have good motives, but based on their vote on the Council consensus last Thursday and other actions and pronouncements, they also seem to have aligned themselves with the Cockroach Caucus. Let's hope that changes.

I will take nominations for an appropriate name for the good guys, the faction supporting fairness, openness, and running the city in the interests of all Tulsans. The winning suggestion will win praise and accolades on this website.

Today's Council action


I miss all the fun, lately. The City Council had a busy agenda today.

Roscoe Turner was sworn in, to resume his service as a City Councilor, in what I am told was a very emotional ceremony.

Sam Roop presented his proposal for rotating the chairmanship of the committees. Roop's proposal is an alternative to Randy Sullivan's attempt to install his cronies as permanent chairmen, the incident that launched Thursday's meeting boycott. I'm told that members of the minority party sat in stony silence and made no comment during the presentation.

A lovefest greeted Paula Marshall-Chapman's reappointment to the Economic Development Commission. Mayor Bill LaFortune attended the meeting with the Bama Pie chief, an unusual move that may have been intended to ward off any tough questions about oversight of the Tulsa Metro Chamber's stewardship of the City's economic development funds. In any case, that was the effect. Or perhaps the controversy over the committee chairmanships drained councilors of the desire to open another can of worms.

Bill Christiansen wanted to focus on the District 3 election irregularities, but other councilors pointed out that the problems are more widespread, and there was sentiment for a full council investigation. Acting County Election Board Secretary Shelley Boggs was expected, but was not present for the discussion. Council staff was asked to research the chain of responsibility at the election board and the process for selecting a new secretary to replace Scott Orbison, who passed away Saturday at age 85.

I didn't hear anything about the discussion of the proposed amendment to the taxicab ordinance. The driver who took me to the airport this morning (in a very well-maintained vehicle, I might add) thought it was a bad deal for the small operators. He was interested to hear that the discussion would be open to the public; he thought he might go and bring some colleagues along.

It's impossible to link directly to this, so you'll have to take my word for it. There are several interesting items on the committee agendas for Tuesday:

In the Public Works committee meeting, which convenes at 8 a.m.:

8. Discussion of Council rule changes on Committee chair/co-chair assignments. (Roop) 04-159-1

This ties in to Roop's objection to Chairman Randy Sullivan's attempt to grab power and seat his cronies as permanent committee chairmen, able to control the agenda and debate at these important meetings.

There's a special council meeting at 9:00 a.m.:

Official Certificates of Votes for special election held April 6, 2004, concerning the election of a Councilor for District 3; Council to acknowledge receipt, canvass, and direct the certificates to be filed with the City Clerk. 04-150-1

In the Urban and Economic Development committee (10:00 a.m.):

1. Paula Marshall-Chapman - Reappointment to the Economic Development Commission; term expires 12/31/06; (5/5 meetings). 03-363-2

This is the reappointment of a former Tulsa Metro Chamber chairman to the committee which is supposed to oversee the Chamber's handling of the hotel/motel tax money we pay them to handle our city's economic development efforts. This would be an excellent opportunity to ask about the Committee's oversight activities -- for example, whether there are any -- and to get an assessment about the Chamber's responsiveness to any concerns that have been expressed. We've paid the Chamber a pile of money -- over $60 million -- and for the price we've lost tens of thousands of jobs. I hope some Councilor asks Ms. Marshall-Chapman what she hopes to do with a new term on the Committee to ensure that Tulsa is getting its money's worth?

4. Rezoning application Z-6936 requested by J.D. Berray to rezone property located at or near the SE/c of E. 3rd & S. Kenosha (Owner: Berray/Manlove/Harrington) from IM to CBD. (TMAPC voted 6-0-0 to recommend approval) (CD-4)(PD-1) [UED 3/13/04] 04-140-1

This is an important step forward for the hearty residents of a small block of lofts near 3rd and Kenosha, an area targeted by the Tulsa Project for a soccer stadium. A lot of folks talk about downtown housing, but these people have invested their own money and their hearts in a growing neighborhood. The current industrial zoning no longer makes sense, and a change to "Central Business District" zoning would remove some roadblocks to residential reuse of these historic buildings.

10. Proposed amendments to TRO, Title 36, relating to taxicabs and paratransit vehicles. 96-7-4 (UED 4-13-2004)

From what I've heard, this seems like an effort to squeeze small taxi operators out of business by requiring them to buy new vehicles every few years. The issue should never be the age of the vehicle, but the condition. Why impose a greater cost burden on an already struggling industry?

11. Discussion regarding municipal election process. (Christiansen) 04-160-1

No idea what Bill Christiansen has up his sleeve on this one. Hopefully, the committee will review the research I did revealing five precincts where there were significant discrepancies between votes cast and voters who signed in for the City Council primary on February 3rd. I stand ready to testify, Mr. Chairman.

All Council committees meet in Room 201 of City Hall and are open to the public.

The four Councilors who skipped last Thursday's City Council meeting will hold a press conference at City Hall, exact location TBA, at 1:30 p.m. Monday, April 12. Here's the press release:

Tulsa City Councilors to Hold Press Conference

Four Councilors Will Address Recent Events Prompting Lack of Quorum at Last City Council Meeting

Tulsa, OK, Monday, April 12, 2004: The four Tulsa City Councilors who missed the first council meeting of the newly elected City Council will hold a press conference today at 1:30 PM. The conference will be held at the Tulsa City Hall, 200 Civic Center Plaza (room to be announced by Noon).

Newly elected Councilors Jack Henderson of District 1 and James Mautino of District 6 will join District 2 Councilor Chris Medlock and District 5 Councilor Sam Roop, in addressing the events that led up to their actions, why they have remained silent until now, and what action they plan to take in the coming days.

The Councilors have agreed not to speak to the media about the specifics of their proposal until the press conference. Councilor Chris Medlock will fulfill a previously scheduled interview on radio station KFAQ at 7:10 AM, but will only address general issues surrounding the controversy.

Roscoe Turner will hold a press conference at 11:00 am Monday, at Rose Hill United Methodist Church, 749 N. Louisville Ave. (four blocks east of Harvard on Independence St, which is a few blocks north of Admiral Place). Here's what Steve Denney has to say in the news release. (Steve was one of the attorneys addressing the voting irregularities which occurred in the original primary election.)

If you have been reading the vicious articles that the Tulsa World has been running against newly elected Councilor Roscoe Turner, you must realize the degree to which the paper is upset about having a Councilor it doesn't control replacing David Patrick as District 3 City Councilor. The World's articles have implied that Mr. Turner is guility of "election crimes." The "crimes" that Mr. Turner appears to be accused of are a minor misdemeanor which remains uninvestigated and uncharged. We believe that the District Attorney's office will find no merit to the charge and will decline to file. Other Council candidates have done exactly the same thing Mr. Turner did, i.e., witness a voter's signature. It seems more than passing strange that no other candidates were mentioned in the news article and that the World implied that Mr. Turner was accused of a felony instead of a misdemeanor. Help us break the misinformation and intimidation factors generated through the World's articles by appearing and supporting Councilor Roscoe H. Turner at his press conference

Let me highlight the last part -- this is an opportunity to show your support for Roscoe. Your presence is requested at this event.

By the way, Roscoe officially became Councilor-elect at 5 p.m. Friday when the deadline for requesting a recount or contesting the election passed without a challenge from lame duck Councilor David Patrick.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Tulsa category from April 2004.

Tulsa: March 2004 is the previous archive.

Tulsa: May 2004 is the next archive.

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