Tulsa: July 2005 Archives

KRMG's new guy

| | Comments (3)

The replacement as KRMG's morning host is a relatively young guy named Joe Kelley, who was most recently at WBAP in Fort Worth. He has his own website, and his own Movable Type-based blog, The Sake of Argument, which started back in May 2003. (Up until the last couple of months, he seems to have posted pretty frequently.) His blogroll is a pretty good assortment of the top right-leaning bloggers. I've only started to glance through the blog archives, but it doesn't appear that he dealt with local DFW issues much.

He appears to be a conservative, but the more interesting question is where he'll wind up on local issues, about which he is not likely to know much. No doubt the Cockroach Caucus will wine and dine him, but I feel sure that a blogging conservative talk show host will be able to see through their self-serving rhetoric.

Although I'm proud to be a weekly fixture on the Michael DelGiorno show on 1170 KFAQ, nevertheless, as a Tulsan, I'd like to welcome Mr. Kelley to town. If I can be of service in helping him puzzle through local politics, I'd be happy to help.

Wouldn't it be nice to have morning talk show hosts on two different stations shining the light of truth on City Hall and the County Courthouse?

Today, I'm told, was John Erling's long-overdue final broadcast on KRMG radio. I haven't listened to his show in years, and once I got out of the habit of listening to Erling in the morning, I rarely bothered to tune in the rest of the day. We would have abandoned KRMG as morning listening many years before, but my wife needed someone saying the time at regular intervals to help her pace getting ready for work.

I grew up listening to KRMG -- Fred Campbell, then Watson Jelks, then Erling in the morning, Jerry Vaughn in the afternoons (later, Commander Ken Rank), Sportsline with Bob Carpenter, Nightline with David Stanford, and the great Johnny Martin, playing big band music every night. As much as I enjoy some of KRMG's nationally-syndicated talk show hosts, I was sorry to see the station cease to be a full-service local station over the course of the 1990s.

Over that same period, maybe starting even earlier, Erling became crankier and crankier. I remember a brief period of improvement, following major back surgery, when he broadcast from home, surrounded by his beloved dogs. He was actually pleasant to listen to, briefly. But he reverted to type.

Erling grew less and less tolerant of conservatives, particularly religious conservatives, despite (or perhaps because of) their growing dominance in Tulsa. He became the voice of the city's establishment, Radio Cockroach Caucus, while his wife used his stage name (rather than his and her legal last name, Frette) to help along her career as a lobbyist. Many people remarked on the interesting coincidences between the causes and candidates he espoused on air and the causes and candidates his wife was hired to support. The question was often asked: Were her clients buying her skills or were they paying for access to his microphone? Margaret Erling worked for the Tulsa Metropolitan Utility Board and lobbied at the State Capitol for Great Plains Airlines, in which she was a stockholder. Can you guess where John stood with regard to those subjects?

Erling was adept at baiting callers who disagreed with him. He would pick, pick, pick at a caller until the caller lost his cool. One of his most effective needling techniques was to mischaracterize the caller's point and begin tearing down the straw man he had just built, to the caller's consternation.

If he couldn't get you to blow your cool, he'd just take what you said out of context, once you were off the phone and didn't have the opportunity to rebut. (I wrote an account of one such encounter with Erling, during the Vision 2025 campaign.)

Lost credibility and lost respect led to falling ratings, and the end finally came this year. I have heard that he asked to stay on until after the recall election, wanting to be there to gloat when Chris Medlock was turned out of office. Medlock, as a part of the airport investigative committee, had a hand in exposing Erling's ties to Great Plains Airlines. There was a running gag that they were holding the KRMG morning show job open for Chris should he lose the recall election. Instead, I'm told, around 7:30 on election night, Erling called the KRMG newsroom to learn the results, heard that Mautino was winning with over 70% and Medlock with over 60%. He is said to have responded with a burst of unprintables.

An expat Tulsan visits home


San Diego-based Kevin at the Primary Main Objective made a trip back to Tulsa to see his folks and visited the Jenks Riverwalk. And he was up early enough to hear me on the radio Monday morning, which is pretty impressive for a West-Coaster whose body clock must have been saying it's 4:40 AM.

Sorry for the lack of posting today, but real life has been fast and furious.

I find interesting things when I look through the searches that lead people to this site. Someone got to BatesLine via the search string "old oil money Tulsa," and that search also led to a website called TurnLeft.com and an entry for Tulsa on their list of "Liberal Unfriendly Places."

Now, I would have thought that Tulsa wouldn't make such a list, as it's a rather conservative place and also a pretty friendly place, but I think I should assume that there should be a hyphen between "Liberal" and "Unfriendly" -- meaning that this may not be the kind of place the Creative Class will find to their liking. The page includes comments from conservative Tulsans who say that Tulsa may not be liberal but it isn't hostile to liberals, and liberal Tulsans who advise going beyond first impressions.

Among nearby cities, Oklahoma City, Wichita, Joplin, and Springdale are all listed as liberal-unfriendly. The nearest liberal-friendly city? Fayetteville, Arkansas, which will come as no surprise to Matt.

The South Tulsa Citizens Coalition had an independent firm look at the revenue projections for the Bixby private toll bridge, and found that over the 75-year life of the agreement between Infrastructure Ventures, Inc. (IVI) and the Tulsa County Board of Commissioners, IVI will net $658 million in profit, while Tulsa County will see only $133 million as their share. Here's a Download link to the analysis (PDF file, Adobe Reader required), which was performed by George K. Baum & Company, Inc., and below is the accompanying press release from the South Tulsa Citizens Coalition:

The South Tulsa Citizens Coalition (“STCC”) requested a detailed financial analysis of the Toll Bridge Agreement made between Tulsa County and Infrastructure Venture I, L.L.C. (“IVI”). The financial analysis was prepared by George K. Baum & Company, Inc. (“GKB”), a leading investment banking firm in the area of transportation finance.

The analysis concludes that IVI will net $658 Million in profit with the County only receiving $133 Million over the life of the agreement. If the County had chosen to “publicly finance” this bridge, over 75 years the total net revenue to the County would have been $800 Million. If the County chose to stop collecting tolls on the bridge once it was paid for, the bridge would be free after 30 years at a total cost of only $35 Million plus financing costs.

STCC spokesperson, Michael Covey, said “This is an outrage. Is there no leadership at the County level looking out for the interests of the taxpayers? The 75 year IVI agreement soaks the citizens of Tulsa County out of over half a billion dollars more than is needed to build this bridge, and of that money the County Commissioners gave away $658 Million to their buddies. I am calling for an investigation into the Tulsa County Commissioners handling of this bridge. We either have an abuse of power, or financial incompetence, and neither is good for the taxpayers, or toll payers of Tulsa!”

A meeting for citizens concerned about the bridge will be held next Monday night, July 25th at 7 p.m. at St. James United Methodist Church, 111th and Yale.

Mad Okie has some useful thoughts on aspects of Tulsa that might attract tourists, but we seem to be embarrassed by them:

God, Oil, Route 66 & Native Americans

What do all of these things have in common? They are what Tulsa is known for. Of those, what does Tulsa promote? Until recently, none.

Way back in 1999, I was part of the Research Committee of the City and Chamber's Convention and Tourism Task Force. At the time, we thought they genuinely wanted research into the economic impact of conventions and tourism and how best to move forward, but in fact the process was predetermined to put the downtown arena back on the ballot. We had some interesting discussions, at any rate, and one discussion was about niche interests that would bring tourists to the Tulsa area. In addition to the above list, add Western Swing music (which Mad Okie mentions later in his entry), cowboys, and tornadoes. About 10 years ago, I had a conversation in a woolen shop in Ardara, Co. Donegal, Ireland, with a German tourist who very much wanted to come to Oklahoma for storm chasing.

Here's something I wrote following the Mayor's Vision Summit in 2002, in response to the question, "What are the 10 most important considerations that must be faced in planning for Tulsa's future?":

Tulsa's unique qualities -- call them distinctives or idiosyncracies -- how can we raise awareness and pride locally and use this as an asset in our dealings with the rest of the world? I get the impression than some civic leaders are embarassed by our oil heritage, our Cowboy and Indian roots, and the strength of religious belief here -- so our tourist brochures trumpet the ballet and Philbrook and Utica Square, and downplay things like western swing music, the gun museum in Claremore, and ORU. When a German tourist comes to Oklahoma, he doesn't want to see the opera, he wants to see oil wells, tipis, old Route 66 motels, and tornadoes. Some adolescents go through a phase when their greatest longing is to be just like everyone else. If we're going to set ourselves apart, we have to stop trying to blend in as a modern city like every other, stop treating our quirky folkways as things to be suppressed and hidden, and celebrate them instead. It's nice to have the same cultural amenities as every other large city, but it's the unique qualities that will win the affections of our own people and capture the imaginations of the rest of the world.

At least once or twice a summer, when I was a kid, we'd make it out to Skelly Stadium for the Tuesday night Starlight Concert. Some weeks we'd hear Big Band music, other weeks it'd be Sousa marches or Strauss polkas.

The Starlight Concert series continues its Tuesday evening performances at the River West Festival Amphitheatre tonight at 8:00 p.m. Tonight the music will be accompanying a movie: "Easy Street," starring Charlie Chaplin. The performance is cosponsored by Circle Cinema. Click here for a map.

(Next Tuesday, July 26, is the last concert of the summer.)

Big Indian investors

| | Comments (1)

The Downtown Guy has taken note of last week's news that three Tulsa families -- Oliphant, Mayo, and Sharp -- have joined together to invest $1 million in "The American", the giant bronze statue of an Indian planned for Holmes Peak in Osage County. The statue project needs $40 million to go forward, and it's claimed that $30 million has already been raised.

What I found interesting -- and I think OKC's Downtown Guy will, too -- is that three families mentioned are said to own a considerable amount of property in Brady Village. That's the area of downtown within the Inner Dispersal Loop, north of the Frisco tracks, and east of Denver Avenue. A few years ago, an acquaintance who had lived in a couple of loft apartments in Brady Village mentioned those three names as significant property owners. He told me that one of the hindrances to renovation and development in the area is that much of the land was in family trusts, and the family members concerned are scattered across the country.

Can anyone shed further light on the property situation in Brady Village, and what the connection might be with "The American"? Does this signal a plan to move the statue to downtown or nearby?

Not that it's any of my business, but I think it would accomplish more for Tulsa's economy and convention and tourism business if the families invested that money into accelerating the revival of Brady Village.

Make your own cool


One of the pleasures of my new job is that I can get my work done anywhere there's an Internet connection, and that's given me a chance to visit many of the local hotspots -- Wi-Fi hotspots, I mean. Recently, for instance, I met a friend for lunch at the Chimi's at Lincoln Plaza, and, when duty called as we were leaving the restaurant, I just took my laptop across the parking lot to Cafe Cubana, bought something to drink, and got back to work.

Hanging out in coffee houses is a good way to learn about new things that are going on around town. I met someone for coffee at Shades of Brown, then stayed around to finish a project. The barista, hearing that I was a blogger, told me about an effort to kick-start some excitement around Tulsa, and she handed me a flyer:

make your own cool!

Will a convention center bring your favorite band to town? Can an expert identify just what it is that makes your neighborhood pub unique? Do you want your downtown to be dead after five? Or worse, do you want to see a 20 screen megaplex and a Banana Republic on Archer and Cincinnati?

Tulsa is our town. Brookside, Cherry Street, Brady District, Tulsans made them what they are. This town is not dead, and it's us who are responsible for keeping it alive. So get out there! Make some noise! Write letters, sing loud, pay attention, get involved! Support those already in the trenches for Tulsa and get out there and do it for yourself. If this town will ever be a creative mecca, it will be because Tulsans took the risks and made the effort. Grab a guitar, a ballot, a hammer, a newspaper, a book, and let's make something of this town.

This message brought to you by:

The Tulsa Kick Ass Initiative

If you can overlook the minor vulgarity at the end, that's good stuff. Instead of whining about how boring Tulsa is for young people, instead of hoping that a new arena will transform Tulsa into an urban mecca, instead of waiting for the city government to do something (as if government could create cool), instead of praying for high-end, national retailers to appear magically downtown, young Tulsans can make things happen themselves, just as Tulsans made Cherry Street and Brookside happen when few people could see the potential. That's what ypTULSA has been trying to do, with its efforts with Nelson's Buffeteria, Greenwood Jazz Festival, and the East Village.

This new group, the TKAI, seems to be geared more toward late teens and early twenties. The group's ringleader is 20-year-old Jamie Pierson, the aforementioned barista and an aspiring entrepreneur. (Jamie has been blogging a year longer than I have, and her blog is interesting reading.)

If you're interested in the Initiative, there's a meeting at Hodgepodge Books, 11th & Detroit, Monday, starting 8 p.m.-ish. Or you can visit their place on Myspace.com. You can reach Jamie by email at jamie.pierson@gmail.com.

Bixby bridge meetings today


I'm sorry I haven't been giving the Bixby Bridge issue the attention it deserves. There have been a lot of developments in the last couple of weeks, and more will be happening today:

The Tulsa County Commission will meet to discuss the Bixby toll bridge at 9:30 a.m. Thursday in Room 315 of the County Courthouse, 500 S Denver Ave, downtown.

The Tulsa City Council last week agreed on a consensus to ask, pretty-please-with-sugar-on-it, City Attorney Alan Jackere to issue an opinion on whether Tulsa County has the power to condemn land owned by the City of Tulsa and turn it over to the private developers building the Bixby toll bridge. (You would think that the City Attorney would be aggressively defending the City's prerogatives against encroachment from the County. You would think that the City Attorney -- appointed and unaccountable to the voters -- would eagerly cooperate with the City Council -- the people we elect to represent us -- but you would be mistaken.)

Last week, south Tulsa State Representatives Fred Perry and Pam Peterson submitted similar questions to the Attorney General:

May a county condemn (or acquire by the use of eminent domain) real property that is owned by municipality for the public good?

May a municipality condemn (or acquire by the use of eminent domain) real property that is owned by a county for the public good?

A municipality owns real property and has dedicated and set apart that real property to be used for the good of the public as a park. The county in which the municipality is located believes that such real property should be used for the good of the public as a road. Given the competing public interests of the municipality and county for the same piece of real property and the fact that the municipality owns such real property, can the county condemn (or acquire by the use of eminent domain) said real property from the municipality?

It will be interesting to see the AG's response, as it will pretty much make moot anything Alan Jackere has to say about the matter.

This week, the City Council will vote on a resolution opposing the Bixby bridge, and you are urged to show up and voice your support. Meeting is at City Hall (south of 4th between Denver and Houston Avenues) at 6 p.m.

Michael Covey, spokesman for the South Tulsa Citizens Coalition, which is fighting the bridge, will be on 1170 KFAQ this morning at 7:40. Last week, the South Tulsa Citizens Coalition filed suit against the County Commission. The suit alleges that the County Commission violated 19 O.S. 381 by entering into an agreement with Infrastructure Ventures, Inc., (IVI) without putting the matter to a vote of the people. The suit further alleges that the County Commission's agreement with IVI violates the Public Competitive Bidding Act of 1974 (61 O.S. 101 through 138). And because the commissioners exceeded their authority in so acting, they are being sued individually as well.

At last week's Council meeting, Covey pointed out that there is a deed restriction on the city park land which the County wants for the bridge. If it won't be used for a park, it must be used for some other charitable purpose, which presumably wouldn't include a for-profit toll bridge.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Tulsa category from July 2005.

Tulsa: June 2005 is the previous archive.

Tulsa: August 2005 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.



Subscribe to feed Subscribe to this blog's feed:
[What is this?]