Tulsa Election 2009 Category

Here is a brief history of all the changes to the City of Tulsa Charter, Article VI, Elections. That link leads to the current text of Article VI and the text of each change, with the ballot language and election results of each.

When Tulsa adopted a mayor-council form of government in 1989, it retained the same election schedule that had been used under the commission form of government, holding elections in the spring of even-numbered years, except that under the new charter the mayor's term was doubled from two to four years. As under the previous charter, elections remained partisan.

1990-1994: The three-day filing period began on the second Monday in January, party primaries were held on the first Tuesday in February, and the general election was held on the first Tuesday in March, except for the initial 1990 general election, which was set for the first Tuesday in April. Terms of office began first Monday in April, except for the initial terms under the new charter, which began on the first Monday in May.

1996-2006: At the 1994 general election, voters approved a charter change moving the general election one week later, to the second Tuesday in March. This schedule remained in place through the 2006 election cycle. The only change to the election process during this period was the addition of a $50 filing fee -- really a deposit, refundable if a candidate won the primary or general or achieved at least 15% of the vote.

It was toward the end of this period that the tinkering with the election process began in earnest.

2008: A 2006 ballot question moved the city primary and general elections, beginning in 2008, to coincide with state election dates in February and April and to reduce the number of times citizens had to go to the polls. Prior to that time, the primary was set for the first Tuesday, with school-board elections following on the second Tuesday, then the city general on the 2nd Tuesday in March, and school-board runoffs (if necessary) on the 1st Tuesday in April. The new charter language did not name a specific Tuesday but referred to whichever Tuesday of that month would be authorized in state statutes for an election; practically speaking, this would be the same dates specified by state statute for school elections.

But the 2008 Tulsa primary wasn't held in Februrary as prescribed by charter. Instead, at the request of the Tulsa County Election Board, it was moved to March, so as not to complicate the process of giving the correct ballots to each voter, with the partisan presidential and non-partisan school primaries occurring at the same election. They wanted to avoid the SNAFU of four years earlier, when the 2004 city primaries were held on the same date as a heavily-contested Democratic presidential primary. (Republican voters in at least one precinct were given Democratic city primary ballots, enough to exceed the margin of victory in the David Patrick vs. Roscoe Turner rematch. The election was declared invalid and the race had to be re-run; Turner won.)

Meanwhile, more radical changes to city government and the election schedule had been under discussion.

After grassroots candidates won a majority of the council seats in 2004, special interest groups (which collectively I referred to as the Cockroach Caucus) sought to undermine the result, first by targeting two councilors, Chris Medlock and Jim Mautino, with a recall election, held on July 12, 2005. Both councilors won the right to retain their seats by a wide margin. Next, many of the same individuals and groups launched a petition drive to add at-large seats to the City Council, diluting geographical representation. When that petition drive stalled, then-Mayor Bill LaFortune established a Citizens' Commission on City Government to study possible amendments to the charter. Chaired by Ken Levit and Hans Helmerich, the commission met over several months, then issued a final report in June 2006.

The commission recommended against a change to the structure of the City Council, but recommended moving to non-partisan elections and to moving the elections to the fall of odd-numbered years. The move to the fall would allow door-to-door campaigning in better weather and longer days, and new officials would have some months to get their bearings before having to produce a budget for the following fiscal year. The spring election calendar left little daylight for door-to-door campaigns, and new officials took office just in time to create next year's budget. The change to election dates was considered in 2007 as part of the standard charter amendment process, put on the April 2008 ballot, and was approved by the voters.

Non-partisan elections were not placed on the ballot by the City Council; in 2009 an initiative petition for non-partisan elections circulated by "Tulsans for Better Government" was ruled invalid in form and to have fallen short of the required number of signatures.

2009: Filing for city offices for three days beginning the second Monday in July, primary election on the state election date (second Tuesday) in September, and general election on the state election date in November (second Tuesday in odd-numbered years). This system, which had been vetted by a commission and subjected to extensive public debate, lasted only one election cycle.

2011: In 2009, some councilors got the idea that three-year staggered terms would be better -- wouldn't have to run as often, wouldn't have as much turnover at each election. In November 2009, at the very first general election held under the new fall, odd-year election schedule, voters foolishly approved the change. All nine seats were up for a vote in 2011, but the terms were one year for districts 1, 4, and 7, two years for 2, 5, 8, three years for 3, 6, 9, with all subsequent terms being three years. One of the awkward things about this plan was that council districts with terms expiring in odd-numbered years would have a September primary and a 2nd Tuesday in November general election, coinciding with the auditor's race and, every four years, the mayor's race, while council districts with terms expiring in even-numbered years would have an August primary coinciding with the state runoff election and a November general coinciding with the statewide or presidential election. A contentious senatorial runoff could completely change the numbers likely to turn out and vote in a council race, boosting the number of voters who hadn't been paying attention to the local races.

2012: In 2011, at the very first election under the system approved in 2009, voters approved yet another change, making elections non-partisan, and moving to a primary, runoff, general system to coincide with statewide and presidential elections. The amendment unwound the previous calendar reforms, setting Districts 1, 4, and 7 to go back to the two-year term beginning in 2012, and the remaining districts to serve truncated terms to start two-year terms beginning in 2014. The next mayor's race would remain in 2013, but the following election would be moved up to 2016 and coincide with presidential elections thereafter.

These changes got on the ballot by means of an initiative petition, backed by the same Cockroach Caucus (this time under the name "Save Our Tulsa") that had been trying for years to make it harder for grassroots candidates on a shoestring budget to win council seats. A councilor who didn't need big money to get elected wouldn't be beholden to the Cockroach Caucus. If they can't get back to the good old days when the City Commissioners all lived within a Par 5 of each other, they can at least make sure the councilors' string-pullers all live in the Money Belt. Statewide and presidential elections bring in a ton of voters who aren't paying attention to city issues and are likely to vote for the council candidate with the most expensive publicity -- at least that's the idea. Without a party label on the ballot, voters would have fewer clues to remind them for whom they intended to vote; this too would make voters more likely to vote for the candidates with the biggest budget.

The non-partisan proposal also created a system of three elections -- a primary in September, a runoff on some unspecified date (if no two candidates received a combined 50% of the vote in the primary), and a general election in November between the top two candidates remaining either from the primary or run-off primary. (I explained the process in detail here, although the method approved in 2011 had already been tweaked by the time the 2013 election rolled around.)

2013-present: A further amendment to Article VI, approved in June 2012, eliminated the language that set September as the primary election date, so that the city primary, runoff, and general election would be held on the same dates as the corresponding state elections, and it moved the city filing period from July to April in an attempt to match the state filing period (a claim made by the ballot title). But the language of the amendment set the filing period as the second Monday to the following Wednesday; meanwhile the state, in 2011, had changed its filing period to the second Wednesday to the following Friday. In most years, the city filing period would come first, with a day's overlap with the state filing period, but in years when April begins on Tuesday or Wednesday, the state filing period would be at the end of the first full week in April and the city filing period would be at the beginning of the following week.

In 2013, Bill Christiansen and two other candidates were eliminated in the June primary, there was no August runoff, and Dewey Bartlett Jr and Kathy Taylor were on the ballot in November. In 2016, there were only two well-financed candidates, and Tweedledum IV managed to defeat incumbent Tweedledee Jr and receive more than 50% of the vote in June, winning the election then and leaving a five month lame-duck period before the Mayor-elect would take office.

Proposition 4 on the November 2017 city special election ballot would revert to a two-tier non-partisan election system, with a general election on the same date as the August statewide/federal partisan runoff, and a runoff election, if necessary, on the same date as the November statewide/federal general election.

I was surprised this week to see that TulsaPeople had dropped its glossy mag look for newsprint.

Then I looked more closely and saw that it was in fact Urban Tulsa Weekly that put a paper-airplane-tossing Kathy Taylor on the cover and a lengthy love song to the former Tulsa mayor (by Oklahoma City resident and Oklahoma Observer editor Arnold Hamilton) on the pages within.

Taylor mistakenly credits herself with starting the effort to revise Tulsa's comprehensive plan. In fact, that was launched in 2005, while Mayor Bill LaFortune was still in office, and it was the outcome of an initiative by then-Councilors Chris Medlock and Joe Williams for a "future growth task force" and a council-initiated study to identify the best locations for large retail developments in the City of Tulsa. It was the 2004-2006 Council, notorious for the "Gang of Four," that included funding a comprehensive plan update in the 2006 third-penny sales tax package.

As an antidote to the sweet treacle in Hamilton's story and by way of reminder, take a minute to re-read this Irritated Tulsa gem: Kathy Taylor's Un-Greatest Moments

And if you want more detail on those un-greatest moments, here are some links to past columns and blog entries:

Kathy Taylor voted in Oklahoma (in person) and Florida (absentee) in the 2000 presidential election, according to official state voter records.

Kathy Taylor's Clintonesque non-denial denials when confronted with the voter records

Kathy Taylor and Bill Lobeck get bill for back taxes and penalties from the Broward County Assessor for claiming homestead exemption in two states.

Kathy Taylor's husband's lawsuit against the Broward County assessor, over claiming a homestead exemption in both Oklahoma and Florida

Kathy Taylor keeps Council in the dark on police chief appointment, signs Tulsa up to the anti-gun-rights and global warming cause.

Kathy Taylor surrenders on a $7 million lawsuit, putting the burden of BOK's bad loan to Great Plains Airlines on Tulsa taxpayers.

Kathy Taylor's misuse of the assessment district to fund the new Drillers downtown ballpark

The Control Freaks' Squeeze Play -- the city pulling the football away from a private developer who had plans for residential and retail near the new ballpark.

Kathy Taylor, the ballpark assessment district, Will Wilkins' Lofts at 120 development, and lawsuits against the city.

Kathy Taylor refuses to confront looming budget problems

Kathy Taylor denounces city councilors on CNN for being cautious about strings attached to federal funds

The defeat of Councilor Bill Martinson funded by Kathy Taylor's husband and his business associates

Kathy Taylor pushes for the purchase of One Technology Center as the new City Hall, which winds up being more expensive to operate than she had claimed.

In 2009, incumbent Councilor Bill Martinson was defeated by Chris Trail, a well-funded challenger, a newcomer to politics and to the city limits, funded and supported by forces that didn't like an intelligent skeptic on the Tulsa City Council scrutinizing their schemes.

I recently came across Martinson's response to the Tulsa Metro Chamber's 2009 candidate questionnaire. As a response to each question, Martinson referred forward to the following reply. Given the Chamber's involvement in this year's election -- hiring a PR consultant to recruit candidates, hiring a political consultant to "advise" them on redistricting, founding a political action committee -- Martinson's words are worth revisiting. (The only edit was to turn a URL in the text into an actual hyperlink.)

An e-mail for a July 20 fund raiser for Chris Trail was forwarded to me from several sources. The invitation and message from Susan Harris, a member of the Chamber staff, clearly validate the rumors that the Chamber supports my opponent, Chris Trail, as a candidate for the City Council. The hostess for the fund raiser has ties to Kathy Taylor and her husband, Bill Lobeck. Mr. Lobeck's attendance at the event substantiates Mr. Trail's claim that he was recruited and is being supported by the Mayor. The Chamber and Mayor Taylor have previously worked with AH Strategies (Karl Ahlgren and Fount Holland) and Mr. Trail credits her with arranging AH Strategies as his campaign advisor. As much as I appreciate receiving your candidate questionnaire, I see no need to provide detailed responses since you and your team have already decided where to direct your support.

I am a CPA with over thirty years of varied business experience and have successfully managed the same manufacturing company since 1996. In addition, I have represented the citizens of District 5 since 2005. My wife and I have owned and occupied our current home since 1981 and our kids, now grown, all attended Tulsa Public Schools. While those qualifications and credentials may fail to meet the Chamber's standards, I ran unopposed last time and my only challenger this year is your handpicked candidate who recently moved into Tulsa and rented a house in my district in order to run for the City Council. This scheme, clearly designed to influence representation on the Council, demonstrates an appalling level of contempt for the value and intelligence of the voters in District 5. Perhaps they will appreciate it is they, not you, that I hope to serve and represent.

Chamber leadership typically advocates and practices blind obedience, and this situation is no exception. You, and the Chamber you represent, are free to follow and support whomever you choose, however, your membership and visitors to your web site may learn some of Mr. Trail's history from an article, "Legal Woes Haunt Candidate", published in the Tulsa World on July 21, 2009. Mr. Trail's documented legal and integrity issues aside, I fail to see how his limited qualifications and recent relocation to the City comply with the statement in your July 20 letter that "The Tulsa Metro Chamber understands the importance of a strong, responsible city government...."; especially since the City of Tulsa is facing perhaps the most difficult financial time in its history. Your attempts to establish a shadow government may ultimately succeed, although I hope the voters prevail, for I remain enough of an idealist
to believe it is still their City.

Trail won but, having served the ends of Taylor and the Chamber to eliminate Martinson, has been cast aside in favor of Karen Gilbert, who is Ahlgren's client in the race this year. I feel sorry for Chris Trail, who seems like a nice person who didn't fully appreciate how he was being used as a tool of revenge. I feel worse for Tulsa, having to make do without Martinson's analytical and financial strengths on the Council.

The new issue of the Oklahoma Gazette covers the recently concluded Oklahoma City city council elections, in which candidates backed by a shadowy special interest group won all but one contested race.

The story notes (as was speculated on BatesLine last month) that Majority Designs, the same campaign team that produced the mailers for Dewey Bartlett Jr's campaign for Mayor of Tulsa in 2009, produced the campaign materials for the Committee for OKC Momentum. Majority Designs is an affiliate of AH Strategies, Karl Ahlgren and Fount Holland. Here are four of the Bartlett Jr mailers I received during the general election campaign, connecting Democrat nominee Tom Adelson to national liberals, tagging Adelson as soft on child molesters, making questionable use of a couple of Disney characters to call Adelson a liar, and a piece listing endorsements from Tom Coburn, Jim Inhofe, and John Sullivan.









Turnout turned off

| | Comments (2) | TrackBacks (0)

Turnout in the City of Tulsa mayor's race fell from 77,341 in 2006 to 66,632, a drop of nearly 14%, albeit still higher than the turnout for 2002's Bill LaFortune-Gary Watts contest of 65,592.

The most turned-off precinct in raw numbers was Precinct 168, between S. Sheridan and S. Memorial, 61st St. and 66th St. Only three-quarters of the 2006 voters cast a vote for mayor this year. The total of votes for all candidates fell from 672 to 495, a drop of 26%.

The biggest meaningful percentage drop is harder to gauge. Precinct 180 had three voters three years ago, but none this year, a 100% loss. Among precincts with at least 100 voters in 2006, the biggest falloff was in Precinct 162, the Oral Roberts University precinct, from 136 to 61, a 55% drop. Changes in the school administration and political science department may mean less of an emphasis on getting out-of-town students registered and actively voting in Tulsa elections.

Precinct 90's turnout was also cut in half, falling from 182 to 90. Precinct 90 is mainly industrial but includes the apartment complexes and duplexes around Fontana Center, northwest of 51st and Memorial. Most of that drop came at Tom Adelson's expense. Kathy Taylor won the precinct in 2006; perhaps her campaign made a special effort to drive turnout in the precinct.

Precinct 105, 129th East Ave. to 145th East Ave., 31st St. S. to 36th St. S., lost 36% of its voters. Adelson was hardest hit. Taylor narrowly won the precinct in 2009; Bartlett Jr had as many votes as Adelson and Perkins combined. In fact, Perkins nearly beat Adelson here. While this area is mostly single-family homes, there are two large apartment complexes here. Other precincts with big drops, disproportionately affecting the Democratic result, are also home to large apartment complexes. Did the Adelson campaign fail to reach and motivate renters to vote, where the Taylor campaign succeeded?

Here's another, smaller data point: Precinct 159, which consists of a couple of mobile home communities southwest of 41st and US 169. 58 voters in 2006; 30 voters in 2009. The Democratic result fell by 29 votes from Taylor to Adelson.

When updated voter history information is available next month, we'll be able to compare candidate results to the party registration of those who voted, and we'll also be able to see which 2009 voters cast a ballot in 2006 and which are first-time city election voters. When I get the auditor race's numbers entered, that will make for an interesting comparison as well.

District 5 was the most turned-off part of the city -- turnout down by 21.8% or 1748 votes. That was also Mark Perkins's best district, where he received 21.3% of the vote. District 4, with a hotly-contested council race, only had a 9.1% falloff of 797 votes.

There's a lot of analysis yet to be done on this election, but here's one bit of data that's somewhat interesting.

Tom Adelson's share of the vote in State Senate district 33 may be one of the few positives in last Tuesday's results for the Democratic mayoral nominee. In 2004, Adelson beat Republican Mayor-elect Dewey Bartlett Jr for the open seat with 51.5% of the vote in a race with only two choices. In the 2009 mayoral election, the precincts in SD 33 gave Bartlett Jr 35.9%, Adelson 43.4%, Perkins 19.9%, Kirkpatrick 0.4%. Excluding the votes for independent candidates, Adelson received 54.7% of the two-party vote in SD 33 to Bartlett Jr's 45.3%.

SD 33 is a very diverse district. (That link leads to a demographic analysis of the district based on 2000 census data.) It includes blue-collar areas north of I-244, along the Sand Springs Line, and west of the river, but it also includes some of Tulsa's wealthiest neighborhoods. It was drawn to be competitive for Democrats, and it's been represented by Democrats for as long as I can recall -- Rodger Randle, through most of the '80s, Penny Williams from 1988 to 2004, when she hit her term limit, and Tom Adelson since 2004. Still, George W. Bush won the district in 2004 (54.5%), as did John McCain in 2008 (52.6%). John Sullivan narrowly won the district in 2004 over Doug Dodd (49.2% to 47.9% in a three-way race), but won by a wide margin in 2008 (57.2%).

(MORE: According to this on the Southwest Tulsa website -- "select all" to see the hidden text -- Senate District 33 has been held by a Democrat since its creation in 1965. Ed Bradley represented District 33 from 1965-1972, and Rodger Randle from 1973-1988, when he was elected mayor.

To the best of my recollection, in the 1988 mayor's race, in which one-term incumbent Republican Dick Crawford was defeated by Randle, Crawford sent out a last-minute tabloid newspaper-style campaign piece with an illustration of the SD 33 map after the fashion of a Gerrymander. Crawford's mailer tried to use the obvious manipulation of the boundaries of Randle's district for electoral advantage as an argument against Randle's character.)

The district isn't as fond of our U. S. Senators. In 2004, Tom Coburn finished second to Brad Carson (45.7% to 49.7% in a three-way race). In 2008, Jim Inhofe was edged out in SD 33 by Andrew Rice (47.8% to 48.5% in a three-way race).

One more thing: Adelson and Bartlett Jr each lost his own home precinct. Bartlett Jr got barely a third of the votes (34.0%) in Precinct 62, and Adelson did only a little better, 35.4%, in Precinct 71.

Work, homework, laundry, and more have occupied my time the last couple of days. My son is working on a five-paragraph essay for his writing assignment. He decided to write about Saul Alinsky and the ongoing influence of his Rules for Radicals.

(Had a birthday, too. Got a DVD collection of 1960s Peanuts TV specials, which included a documentary about Vince Guaraldi, the brilliant jazz pianist behind the Peanuts soundtracks. Interesting fact: Guaraldi was my age when he dropped dead of a heart attack.)

And as I sit down to write, I hear the nails on a chalkboard sound of CNN's Nancy Grace from the other room. So this may be a bit disjointed.

I'm thrilled with the City Council and City Auditor results. Things went my way in eight of the nine council districts. My candidate won the four contests where the daily paper and I endorsed different candidates (Turner over Patrick, Barnes over Gomez, Mautino over Troyer, and Christiansen over Lakin).

Tom Adelson was hurt by the same thing that hurt Steve Largent in 2002 -- the lack of a serious primary challenge to smooth out the rough edges of the campaign and the candidate. If a populist or more centrist Democrat had challenged Adelson, the alternative might have won the primary, or else Adelson and his campaign would have been improved by the process.

Adelson's mail piece -- showing Reagan, Inhofe, and Coburn, and saying Dewey Bartlett Jr doesn't measure up as a conservative -- was too easy to rebut. The Bartlett Jr campaign could simply put out a recorded phone call with Inhofe praising Bartlett Jr. If you're going to try an ad like that, pick people who are dead and can't contradict the way you use their image and name.

I'm amazed that none of the three candidates ran against Kathy Taylor's record as mayor. Bartlett Jr couldn't, having endorsed her before she stepped aside. But Perkins or Adelson might have, and if they had, there was plenty of news in the course of the last few weeks that would have reinforced an anti-Taylor campaign theme: To name two examples, the high cost of operating the new City Hall, and the mismanagement behind Tulsa's street problems, as revealed the report last week of the Public Works performance review.

Was it an anti-incumbent mood that gave us the first new City Auditor in 21 years and the return of three populist former councilors? Was it a feeling that the current leadership had failed to confront difficult choices, failed to prepare the city for the future, failed to subject public spending to proper scrutiny? For whatever reason, none of the major mayoral candidates gave the voters an outlet for that sentiment in the mayor's race.

It was great fun to be part of the KRMG election night team once again. I was in studio with news director Dan Potter. Paul Crockett was at the KOTV studio, and he relayed results from key precincts via Twitter as runners called them in to KOTV. We were able to call the mayoral result very early, as it became apparent from the key precinct results that, while Bartlett was running slightly behind LaFortune's 2006 numbers, Adelson was far, far behind Taylor's result. Adelson even lagged behind Barack Obama and Andrew Rice's 2008 percentages in those precincts.

Former Mayor Rodger Randle's Twitter feed of results and analysis was a help as well; hope to see it again in the future.

I made two bum calls: (1) My observation of Adelson's yard sign edge in midtown Money Belt precincts led me to believe that Adelson would win narrowly. Yard signs in yards (not just thrown up on the right-of-way) are an indication of support and enthusiasm. The tendency of voters in these predominantly Republican precincts to cross the line in local elections are the reason why this city has had Democratic mayors for all but four of the last 20 years. Despite the yard sign deficit, Bartlett Jr won most of those precincts. (2) I said on Twitter before the polls closed that observers beyond Tulsa shouldn't read a national message into the outcome. Upon reflection, I think Bartlett Jr won precisely by successfully nationalizing the election and hanging Obama around Adelson's neck.

Given that, it's notable that Bartlett Jr didn't have coattails. I looked at most of the results in District 6, and Bartlett Jr was consistently the lowest vote-getter in each precinct of each of the three Republican candidates on the ballot. Typically Preston Doerflinger was the most popular, followed by former-councilor-turned-councilor-elect Jim Mautino, followed by Bartlett Jr.

And now I'm about to fall asleep at the keyboard. More thoughts, maybe, later. Add yours below.

IVoted.jpgClick the "continue reading" link to find links to helpful essays on BatesLine, my endorsements, voter information from the Tulsa County Election Board, multimedia, and candidate questionnaires, all to help you as you get ready to vote (post-dated to remain at the top until polls close).

("I Voted" sticker courtesy Flickr user miscellaneaarts.)

Now, for after the polls close:

I'm excited to be, once again, part of News Talk KRMG's election night team. Coverage will begin at 7 p.m. and will continue until the races are decided. Tune in live on AM 740 or FM 102.3, or listen online via the link on the homepage. I'll be in the newsroom with KRMG News Director Dan Potter, providing analysis based on returns from key precincts, which should give us an early sense of the final outcome.

If you're in the mood to rejoice (or mourn) with your favorite candidate and your fellow supporters, Tasha Does Tulsa has locations for many of the watch parties; leave a comment there if you have info on the parties that she's missing.

Now Click the "continue reading" link to continue to election links galore.

Here's yet another slimy political attack from the Karl Ahlgren-Fount Holland factory. Dewey Bartlett Jr sent out a postcard to voters claiming, "Mark Perkins wants to take away our Second Amendment right to bear arms."

Mark Perkins stated in a debate on KFAQ that he supports the 2nd Amendment as an individual's right to keep and bear arms for protection and sport, that he owns a shotgun and a handgun, and that he opposes Mayor Kathy Taylor's involvement in Mayors against Illegal Guns. (Dewey Bartlett Jr endorsed Taylor for re-election despite her involvement in the anti-2nd Amendment group.)

During a lightning round portion of the KRMG Mayoral Smashup last Tuesday, the candidates were asked for a one word true or false response to the statement, "We need more regulations on handguns." Perkins was first to respond and began, "It's an issue that the Mayor...," at which point he paused and KRMG's Joe Kelley moved on to Tom Adelson for a response.

In Mark Perkins's video response to the Bartlett Jr attack, he says that as Mayor of Tulsa he wouldn't inject himself into national political issues. He attempted to respond to the Smashup question consistently with that position. The video includes audio from the KFAQ debate, video from the KRMG smashup, and video of Perkins showing with his guns at his home.

Dewey Bartlett Jr's campaign consultants, with his knowledge and authorization, turned that into a blatantly false claim on an orange postcard with a grizzled hunter and Fount Holland's trademark -- text in white Impact font: "Mark Perkins wants to take away our Second Amendment right to bear arms."

(Note to Fount: The Impact font has been your bread and butter for many years, but nowadays it makes people think of LOLcats. I can has purrsentage uv evree poastcard?)

Here's a press release from the Perkins campaign:

November 9, 2009 (Tulsa, OK) - In response to the attached mailer distributed by Dewey Bartlett for Mayor, Mark Perkins has posted a video rebuttal on his website at www.markfortulsa.com.

The mailer states, "Mark Perkins was the only mayoral candidate to support more regulations on our firearms at the debate hosted by KRMG on November 3." and "Mark Perkins wants to take away our Second Amendment Rights."

"These claims are false and knowingly and intentionally misleading," said Perkins. The question on firearms was a part of the rapid fire round of questions during the KRMG debate. Each candidate was asked to answer yes or no to the question, "Do you support more regulations on our firearms." Perkins paused momentarily before beginning his answer. As Mr. Perkins began to answer, the moderator moved on to the next candidate.

"I have never said one word suggesting support for additional firearms regulations. Mr Bartlett knows where I stand on gun control, as we were in the same room when I discussed the 2nd Amendment during a debate." Perkins says. "I am a gun owner."

"Mr. Bartlett is further demonstrating his preference for dishonest attacks meant to scare voters because he is not confident in his own message or his own polling numbers. This dishonest mailer was deliberately timed to hit just before the election because there is little time to respond and expose his lies."

"Tulsans deserve an honest leader who demonstrates candor, good judgment, and leadership."

The video contains clips from the two referenced debates, the mailer, commentary, and footage of Mark's own home and firearms.

More and more people I know who would never consider voting for an independent candidate have told me they plan to vote for Mark Perkins. These aren't trendy young hipsters, but hardcore Republican voters. The mendacious character of the Bartlett Jr campaign is a big reason why. Do you really want Bartlett Jr's slimy consultants running City Hall?

Preserve Midtown, a group working to protect the unique character of midtown Tulsa's neighborhoods through compatible infill development, sent a very short and sweet three-question survey to the candidates for Mayor of Tulsa and the four contested City Council seats.

PreserveMidtownSign-200.jpgThe questions deal with the city no longer paying INCOG to handle zoning and land use planning and bringing those functions under the City of Tulsa's own planning department, how the city should address damage from stormwater runoff from construction sites, and property owner accountability for methamphetamine labs discovered on their property.

With the exception of District 3, only one candidate in each race provided a written response: Tom Adelson (Mayor), Roscoe Turner and David Patrick (District 3), Maria Barnes (District 4), Jim Mautino (District 6), and G. T. Bynum (District 9). Another mayoral candidate, Mark Perkins, phoned in a response.

Dewey Bartlett did not respond, nor did two candidates who received the vast majority of their campaign funding from outside of their districts, much of it from development interests: Eric Gomez and Dennis Troyer. (Patrick has a similar funding profile. Given the amount of campaign cash he receives from developers and his voting record on the City Council, I would take his responses with a grain of salt. In the end, he will likely do whatever means more convenience and less cost to developers, no matter how it affects neighboring residents.)

Jim Mautino provided a characteristically thoughtful response to the INCOG question:

INCOG should be terminated as a contractor, Zoning and Planning should be incorporated into the Urban Development Department so that there is a continuity between community development plans and the actions of the City Planning Committee and Board of Adjustment decisions that are compatible with the community development plan.

Roscoe Turner gave essentially the same answer, but more forcefully:

Not just yes, but HELL YES! I've been saying this for the last decade. Tulsans should make decisions for Tulsa.

(By way of background: The Indian Nations Council of Governments is a regional planning agency, supported by and municipal and county governments in the Tulsa metro area. INCOG is governed by a board made up of representatives from each of those governments. At present, the City of Tulsa and Tulsa County contract with INCOG to provide support for land use planning. INCOG staffers maintain land use records, evaluate zoning changes, special exceptions, and variances, and make recommendations to the Tulsa Metropolitan Area Planning Commission. Tulsa is the only city in Tulsa County that doesn't have its own city planning commission.

INCOG also handles regional transportation planning and often administers federal infrastructure funds targeted to this area. That function would not change under the aforementioned proposal.

If you weren't convinced a year ago that Tulsa needed a new City Auditor, you should be now. The incumbent, Phil Wood, has held the job since 1988, and he's the only auditor we've had under the 1989 City Charter, which gave the Auditor's office a great deal of independence from the Mayor's office.

With the release of the external performance audit of the Public Works Department, it's clear that there has been a failure in the audit department: Evidently the auditors working for Phil Wood missed seeing important problems in their reviews of Public Works operations (possibly because they have been and still are understaffed), and problems that were identified in audit reports were never satisfactorily addressed by Public Works management.

In each case, the situation requires a City Auditor persistent, energetic, and vocal enough to get the resources the audit department needs to provide the oversight mandated by the City Charter and to push hard to see audit findings turned into corrective action.

The audit department has done solid work over the years, but many of their findings fail to get the public attention they deserve. As I wrote back in Februrary, we need the City Auditor to be willing to trumpet the results of his internal auditors' hard work, and to keep the pressure on the Mayor and the department heads to implement recommendations that will reduce fraud, waste, and abuse of taxpayer dollars.

The framers of our 1989 City Charter envisioned the auditor as a kind of "anti-mayor," a counterweight to balance the mayor's power over the executive branch of government.

Under Wood, the department has instead taken a low-key approach, quietly releasing audit reports to elected officials and department heads.

Wood has been a leader in making city government information, including audit reports, available on the World Wide Web. He funded and programmed his own Web site (cityauditorphilwood.com) providing access to city documents long before the city's official Web site was functional. All of his department's reports are available on his Web site.

But it's left up to others to make noise about important findings or to chide department heads for ignoring the auditor's recommendations.

PrestonDoerflinger.jpgPreston Doerflinger, the Republican nominee for City Auditor, strikes me as having the kind of drive needed to turn the analyses of the internal auditors into action by city departments to make better use of tax dollars.

I started out endorsing Doerflinger in the primary, but after his campaign consultant's mendacious, last minute attack on Bill Martinson on behalf of Chris Trail (and, ultimately, Kathy Taylor), I retracted my endorsement and voted for his opponent.

After the primary, I met Doerflinger for lunch, along with Tulsa County Republican Chairman Sally Bell. We had a frank and lengthy conversation about my concerns as well as his thoughts on the auditor's office. Regarding his consultant, Doerflinger assured me that he would control what kind of campaign material went out under his name. He wouldn't give his consultants free rein to attack his opponent unfairly. So far, he's been true to his word; his mailers, broadcast ads, and website are focused positively on what he has to offer.

I asked him about an item in his background that had me scratching my head. He made no excuses for his many speeding tickets prior to 2001, but at my request he told me the context: They happened as he and a partner were getting their medical supply business off the ground. They were driving all over the state, making deliveries to nursing homes, trying to cover all that ground on their own until they grew enough to hire more drivers. It was irresponsible, but all that is far behind him now.

His campaign contributions have come from friends and business associates all over the state. Ordinarily, I prefer a candidate to get his money from his own district and his own constituents, but in the case of a City Auditor, there's something to be said for a candidate NOT being funded by people who might have a direct interest in city government.

It's rare for the Tulsa Beacon and the Tulsa World to endorse the same candidate, but both have endorsed Doerflinger. From the Beacon endorsement:

Tulsa's city government needs more accountability.

During Mayor Kathy Taylor's administration, two former managers in the Public Works Department were indicted for bribery for city contracts.

State officials accused firefighters and paramedics of falsifying training records.

Tulsa Transit's finances were so bad that the director was put on leave until the problems could be identified.

Someone needs to be watching how the city does its financial business.

Republican Preston Doerflinger is the man for the job.

A successful businessman, Doerflinger has the right business background to keep an eye on the affairs of the city.

From the World endorsement:

Again, Wood has done an overall good job in the office, but the recent dispute with the firefighters is evidence that a change is needed. Earlier this year Wood asked the Tulsa Fire Department employees about allegedly falsifying training records. The firefighters refused to answer a questionnaire from the auditor. Wood's decision to simply drop the audit at that point is unacceptable.

An ordinance recently passed by the City Council requires all city employees to answer questions from the auditor's office. That will help but it will take an auditor with the energy and will to follow through to make this issue and others come to satisfactory conclusions....

Tulsa needs an internal auditor, not an eternal auditor. Preston Doerflinger has the energy, the vision and the qualifications to get the job of auditor done.

I'm persuaded that Preston Doerflinger is the right man for the job at this time in our history. However unhappy you may be with the choices at the top of the ticket, you still have the opportunity on Tuesday to elect an aggressive watchdog for our shrinking city tax dollars.

Polls show this as a close race, with many voters undecided. Please join me in voting this Tuesday for Preston Doerflinger for City Auditor.

UPDATE: Roscoe Turner's volunteers will gather at the Turner home at 3415 E. Haskell St. at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, November 7, 2009. Phone 918-834-7580 to see how you can help.

And all campaigns are going to need help on election day: Driving voters to the polls and making last minute reminder calls. If you can take some time Tuesday to help one of the campaigns, give them a call and let them know.

Candidates for City of Tulsa council seats will be busy this weekend encouraging people to get out and vote. The best candidates in three of the districts -- Roscoe Turner in District 3, Maria Barnes in District 4, and Jim Mautino in District 6 -- are being heavily outspent by incumbents who are backed by out-of-district special interests. Grassroots effort can overcome a dollar advantage, but only if volunteers help with knocking on doors and making phone calls.

(This Google Documents folder contains the campaign contribution filings for the 2009 Tulsa city elections.)

(If I lived in District 9, I'd vote for G. T. Bynum, but he has a significant funding advantage and should have no trouble being re-elected next Tuesday. No offense to G. T., but I think these other candidates are in greater need of help.)

Volunteers for Maria Barnes will gather tomorrow (Saturday, November 7, 2009) at the Daylight Donuts on 6th St. west of Lewis at 10 a.m. Call 918-582-4044 for more information or to find out how else you can help.

Jim Mautino's volunteer crew will meet tomorrow (Saturday, November 7, 2009) at 9:30 am at his home, 14628 E. 12th St. Call 918-437-2642 for more information or to find out other ways you can help.

I don't yet know when and where Roscoe Turner's volunteers will gather this weekend, but I'm sure they'll be walking the district, and you can call him at 918-834-7580 to see how you can help.

The weather this weekend will be beautiful, and these three races will give you the greatest opportunity to do something good for Tulsa's future by helping these three former councilors back into office.

My wife asked me the other day if we could put a sign in our yard for Maria Barnes, the former Tulsa District 4 city councilor who is seeking to take back that seat.

MariaBarnes.jpgFor my wife, the decision comes down to this: Incumbent councilor Eric Gomez, who defeated Barnes in 2008, had his attorney send a "scary lawyer" letter to neighborhood leader Julie Hall of Who Owns Tulsa?, threatening her with a lawsuit because she exercised her First Amendment rights to criticize an elected official.

And at the heart of Hall's criticism of Gomez was that he (and District 3 Councilor David Patrick) failed to inform nearby neighborhoods of the plan to build a four-story home for the chronically mentally ill and homeless at Admiral and Yale. Even if he truly believed that nothing could be done to stop the Tulsa Housing Authority's plan, it was wrong for Gomez to withhold that information from the neighborhood association, which may have been able to negotiate with THA to mitigate the impact of the facility or would have been able to organize more quickly to fight the plan by legal means. For those two reasons alone, my wife believes that Eric Gomez should be removed from office by the voters.

I agree.

My wife and I have known Maria for over a decade. For a few years, she and I served as vice president and president, respectively, of the Midtown Coalition of Neighborhood Associations. Maria has served many years as president of the Kendall-Whittier Neighborhood Association.

When I ran for City Council in 2002, Maria was one of several Democratic neighborhood association leaders who reached across partisan lines to endorse me. We've had many disagreements, but there was never any doubt that her heart was with the concerns of neighborhoods, particularly in the northern, less prosperous part of Midtown, where the investments of homeowners are more vulnerable to bad planning decisions. I was happy to see her elected in 2006 and was sorry to see her lose in 2008.

Over this last City Council term, the perspective of a neighborhood leader hasn't been represented at City Hall. Yes, Eric Gomez has served as a neighborhood association president, but sometime between his narrow defeat in his 2004 challenge to Tom Baker and his 2008 race, his identity as a member of the real estate and development industry overwhelmed his identity as a neighborhood leader.

While Rick Westcott and Jack Henderson are generally supportive of neighborhood concerns, and Bill Christiansen has pushed for better communication with neighborhoods about the zoning process, none of them have the kind of perspective that Maria Barnes, Jim Mautino, and Roscoe Turner bring to the table as people who remember what it was like to stand on the other side of the dais, addressing the planning commission or the council on behalf of their neighbors. They have a gut-level understanding of the effect on a neighborhood when an incompatible development is approved or when the terms of a zoning change or special exception aren't enforced.

During his term of office, Eric Gomez has offered no resistance to bad development plans that set bad precedents. Now we're stuck with an ugly open lot at 14th and Utica where there used to be homes and sturdy brick apartment buildings. Gomez voted to rezone that land to OH -- Office High Intensity. It was a straight rezoning, not a PUD, so (under our outdated zoning code) there are no requirements to encourage compatibility with the investments of neighboring property owners. Gomez accepted the developer's proposal to put development conditions in a covenant, which could only be enforced by the city filing a lawsuit, rather than a PUD, which can be enforced by administrative action.

Gomez voted for the PUD for the Bomasada development on 39th east of Peoria, despite the project's violation of the very recently adopted Brookside Infill Plan, which is officially part of our Comprehensive Plan.

Both projects have been halted by the economy's decline, but we're stuck with the bad zoning decisions regardless, and the precedents they set to put development conditions in hard-to-enforce covenants and to ignore a recently crafted and adopted portion of the Comprehensive Plan.

As I predicted before the 2008 election, the concept of neighborhood conservation districts -- setting customized, clear, and consistently applied standards for compatible infill development in stable, established neighborhoods -- was politically dead as soon as Gomez was elected. The idea is successfully in use in many of our peer cities from coast to coast, including Oklahoma City, which has had neighborhood conservation districts since 1981. Gomez ran against the concept and has not brought it back to the council in any form whatsoever.

During Maria Barnes's term as councilor, I was disappointed with her on a number of issues. I disagreed with her vote against the Council resolution allowing Tulsa police officers to report suspected immigration violations to the feds. She was wrong to support the City Hall move. Although the new building is lovely, it was a bad financial decision that has put the city in an even tougher position than it would be otherwise. And I wish she'd be more understanding of the needs of small merchants in her district, particularly when it comes to the difficult issue of parking. Although I don't agree, I understand why my favorite coffee house is displaying Eric Gomez's yard signs.

Eric is probably more to my liking on fiscal issues, but he isn't close to being a consistent fiscal conservative. He voted for the ballpark assessment, a fee which inequitably hurts distant property owners -- who have fewer resources to pay the assessment -- far beyond any possible benefit from the new stadium. Already the assessment has tipped the scales in favor of the demolition of one downtown building, and I suspect more will follow. If, as seems likely, the assessment is struck down in court, Tulsa's taxpayers may wind up footing the bill through their property taxes, just as they did with the $7.1 million Kathy Taylor - Dewey Bartlett Jr Great Plains Airlines settlement. Eric also believes that the city was right to purchase One Technology Center to be the new City Hall.

His support for both bad moves has earned him substantial financial support from George Kaiser, BOK Financial PAC, Frederic Dorwart, and members of the Dorwart law firm. Ruth Kaiser Nelson, a key supporter of the Admiral & Yale apartments for the long-term mentally ill, has donated to Gomez's campaign. He's received major support from the development lobby, including cash from BuildPAC and RealtorPAC.

(Here is Eric Gomez's pre-primary disclosure, and here is Eric Gomez's pre-general contribution report.)

Gomez has reported a total of $21,700 in contributions above $200 so far this campaign season. Only $2,300 of that amount has come from residents of District 4..

$15,700 of Gomez's contributions over $200 came from individuals. (The rest came from three PACs and Tulsa Spine Hospital LLC.) $4,800 -- less than one-third -- of that amount came from his fellow registered Republicans. So much for the theory that local politics runs along national party lines. $9,900 came from Democrats: George Kaiser, Ruth Kaiser Nelson, Frederic Dorwart, Tamara Wagman, Steven Walton, William C. Jackson, Bob Poe, John Bumgarner (the developer of the 14th and Utica property), Gail Richards, Nancy Feldman, and former Councilor Gary Watts.

In the past, although I haven't been shy about criticizing Republican candidates when they deserve it, I've stopped short of endorsing their opponents.

From 2003 to 2007, I was an elected official in the Tulsa County Republican Party, serving as one of the county's representatives to the State Republican Committee and ex officio as a member of the Tulsa County Central Committee. I was elected both times without opposition. Prior and subsequent to that, I served on the County Executive Committee. I chose not to run for re-election as State Committeeman in 2007, but Chairman Gary Jones's asked me to serve on the Republican State Executive Committee. I decided to resign that post in 2008. I've served many times as chairman of platform and rules committees and have been in charge of counting ballots at county and district conventions.

In every case, my service was at the initiative and request of a party official seeking my skills and counsel. The only party office I now hold is precinct chairman, and, as is true of most Republican precinct chairmen, I hold it by default; no one else wants the job.

As a party official, you're not supposed to endorse an opponent of a Republican candidate. And in the federal and state legislatures, party control matters.

But in local politics, factions on key issues cross party lines. You can see that by looking at campaign disclosures. People who are consistent one-party donors at the national level spread their money across party lines in Tulsa. Why is George Kaiser, a major Obama bundler, contributing to Republican Eric Gomez, Democrat-turned-Independent David Patrick, and Republican Phil Lakin? Why has he been giving money to candidates in Republican council primaries?

Party loyalty seems to be negotiable if you have enough money and influence. Dewey Bartlett Jr's endorsement of Kathy Taylor for re-election didn't deter three former Republican county chairmen from endorsing him in the primary. But in 2006, Chris Medlock's faithful support for the party nominee that he tried to unseat was not reciprocated that fall when he ran for State House. Promises were made, but they were not kept.

In 2002, former City Councilor John Benjamin raised money for my Democratic opponent, Tom Baker, evidently in revenge for my effective opposition to the "It's Tulsa's Time" arena tax in 2000. At Bill LaFortune's 2002 election night watch party, he was heard to say of my defeat, "Payback's a bitch." Certain Republican leaders assured me he would be shunned from party organizations for his disloyalty, but that never happened.

I've endorsed the idea of multipartisan city elections: Allowing candidates to identify, on the ballot, with one or more political organizations, so as to more accurately describe their perspective on local issues. National party affiliation is better than no information at all (as on a non-partisan ballot), but it isn't predictive of what that candidate will do as a mayor or city councilor.

One of the key issues at this point in Tulsa's history, as we move toward adoption of a new Comprehensive Plan, is whether we have land use rules that are fair, clear, consistently applied, and that encourage compatible new development or whether we continue to allow developers to warp those rules and to build in ways that undermine the investments of neighboring property owners. Maria Barnes is on the right side of that issue. Eric Gomez is on the wrong side.

And as my wife noted, Eric Gomez is emphatically on the wrong side of the related issues of (a) keeping homeowners in the dark and (b) threatening to sue someone for criticizing his political actions.

That's reason enough for me to vote for Maria Barnes for District 4 City Councilor and to encourage you to do the same.

Mark Perkins, independent candidate for Mayor of Tulsa, forwarded an e-mail that he sent to the KRMG Morning News team. In it, he provides his analysis of his chances, explaining how relatively small voter shifts away from his opponents and from the undecided column -- entirely possible given the new lows in obnoxious advertising reached over the last three weeks -- would make this a three-way race that any of the candidates could win.

What that would mean for Tulsa voters is that, unlike elections past, there would be no need to cast a tactical vote to ensure the defeat of your least favorite candidate. You could simply vote for your favorite of the three with the confidence that you're helping him win and at the same time ensuring that your least favorite loses.

Here's a link to the most recent KRMG interview with Mark Perkins and the interview with Bill LaFortune to which he refers. And here's Mark Perkins's chart illustrating the result of a 5% shift from the other two candidates and the undecided column.


Thank you for having me on your show this morning. In the final moments of your program Mr. Couri offered a synopsis that did not accurately capture my message or my political opinion. Perhaps I did not explain it very well. So I would like to explain again what I said yesterday, and what I believe to be the political reality today. Just my opinion, but I think it is accurate.

If necessary, please see Tulsa World article for reference. I have also attached my visual chart for your reference.

First, my point is that I can win. In fact, I believe I am in a good position to win, and more likely than Bartlett. Not because I am currently ahead of him in the polls, but because I am more likely than him to move ahead of Adelson by election day.

Here is why:

#1. Three Weeks Ago the Polls looked like this, as has been verified (see TW for more):
Adelson - 35% Bartlett - 32% Perkins - 15% Undecided - 18%

#2. That was 3 weeks ago, not current. That was before:

A) The most egregious of the negative ads that turn voters off;

B) I sent 30,000 mailers;

C) I began airing my 2 commercials on networks and cable;

D) The string of 13 or so debates, the media coverage that goes with them, and other media events, speeches to organizations, etc. Anyone candid would admit I performed very well, with consistent messaging and a firm grasp of the issues and nuances.

#3. All indications are that I have moved up in the polls, and continue to gain serious momentum. Aside from what I can attest to w/in my campaign, here are more indicators:

A) Bartlett seeking endorsement by Medlock. Curious if you watched the primaries. Classic example of Party over City. Didn't work though. I found out about this from a Medlock supporter who in my office picking up 20 yard signs to disperse to friends. (also see article)

B) Robocalls meant to move Adelson votes to me, and move Perkins votes to Bartlett [further evidence of poll accuracy and my hypothesis (see Chart).

C) TW verification that Adelson poll shows my numbers have grown (see article)

D) Pulse on the Street: "With Perkins, you probably have seen in the polling him coming on pretty strong right now. And then you get down to the street level, and people are talking about Mark Perkins. A lot. Everywhere I go." Former Mayor Bill LaFortune on KRMG 11/4

So, with this information, the chart I have created (attached) using conservative estimates of movements in the polls based upon the above information contained in #3 lead me to these conclusions. I might add that my political acumen has a pretty good track record. (P.S. the movements I suggested (5%) are much more conservative than Adelson's claim in the TW article of nearly double digit lead).

Conclusion #1: Bartlett cannot win. If he is behind right now, and all indications are that he is, he needs to either: 1) Earn Democrat votes, which he won't because of the kind of campaign he has run [and his camp seems to understand this...see message of Robocalls to Dems]; and/or 2) take votes from me, which he is trying (see Robocalls to Repubs) but all indications are that the opposite is true. I know I am gaining supporters, not losing them.

Conclusion #2: Adelson is in the best position to win. He is ahead right now.

Conclusion #3: I can and may win. As stated, I believe I am the only candidate who can beat Adelson. Here is the how and why:

1) Adelson is not gaining momentum either. He has also run a negative campaign. He is not going to garner much Republican support, and he has not been endorsed by any elected Republicans.

2) I have a lot of support from Democrats and Independents that continues to build (did I mention I have all the momentum?)

3) I have a lot of support w/ minorities and in parts of town that usually vote Democrat. I have been most attentive, and my mother is the former director of Neighbor for Neighbor and on the 100 Black Men Hall of Honor. Very well respected.

Conclusion #4: I will win If some combination of the following occurs:

A. People Realize Bartlett can't win and I can (possibility). I need a few of the people supporting me privately to go public.

B. More Tulsans than usual put their City over their Party (definitely). This is already happening.

C. I succeed in explaining why I am a better choice than Adelson (Likely...Stay Tuned). I have halfway succeeded in this over the course of the debates. The second part of my press conference focused on how I am a better candidate than Adelson, but the media didn't cover that part. So I am working on that now...

So, for what its worth, that is why I am in a good position right now.


P.S. Anybody who talks of splitting the vote or "spoiler" has an agenda. Blindly towing the party line is weak, flies in the face of principles of democracy, and will result in Adelson victory. Both parties have let us down, and its time to take away some of their power in favor of a leader who has demonstrated leadership, judgment, and a practical perspective focused on making Tulsa a better place. What matters is: 1) Leadership, w/ no political agenda and no political debts. 2) Efficient & Effective Government. 3) Focus on core responsibilities: Public Safety, Education, Infrastructure, Economic Development.

What many of us suspected was confirmed by the post-primary ethics filing from Tulsa District 5 City Councilor-elect Chris Trail: Trail was Mayor Kathy Taylor's instrument of revenge against City Councilor Bill Martinson, who opposed her on the ballpark improvement district, raised concerns about the overly rosy revenue projections in her budget (and the actual numbers have vindicated his concerns), and provoked her to walk out of a meeting simply by insisting on a straight answer to his question about city financing of downtown services in the Tulsa Stadium Improvement District.

Councilor John Eagleton's website has an entry with copies of Trail's pre-primary and post-primary contribution reports. Trail raised $51,505. At least $24,100 of that money came from Bill Lobeck (Mr. Kathy Taylor) and associates connected with Vanguard Car Rental. Except for $500 from Lobeck, all of these contributions were made after the filing deadline for the pre-primary report, allowing Trail to avoid disclosing contributions that clearly marked him out as Taylor's tool.

A report on Edgar Online (a repository of SEC filings) from 2006 shows several names found on Chris Trail's contribution report. Below are the names, city of residence according to Trail's report, amount of contribution to Trail, and title according to the 8/2/2006 SEC report for Vanguard Car Rental Group or according to linked web documents:

  • Bill Lobeck, Tulsa, $5,000, President, Chief Executive Officer and Director
  • Jeff Parell, Edina, Mn., $5,000, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer
  • Thomas Kennedy, Plantation, Fl., $5,000, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer
  • Thomas J. Santorelli, Highland Beach, Fl., $500, Senior Vice President, Risk Management
  • Tyler Best, Plymouth, Mi., $2,500, Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer
  • Dan Lynch, Owasso, Ok., $300, VP of FP&A
  • Barry Benoit, Tulsa, Ok, $800, VP of Fleet

In addition, Alvin Swanner of Kenner, La., gave $5,000 to Trail. Swanner shows up as a partner with Lobeck in several investments and acquisitions.

Trail also benefited from funds from public employee unions, angry at Martinson's scrutiny of the dramatic growth of public safety spending as a proportion of city revenues. The PACs of AFSCME, the firefighter's local, and the FOP lodge contributed a total of $7,140.23 to the campaign.

Trail received funds from several people connected with the downtown ballpark assessment. Frederic Dorwart, attorney for Bank of Oklahoma, spearheaded the scheme. He gave Trail $1,000. Dorwart firm associates John D. Clayman and H. Steven Walton gave Trail $250 and $1,000 respectively. Trail received $1,500 from BOK Financial PAC. Peter Boylan contributed $500. Francis Rooney, who lists an address on N. Elgin, although he isn't registered to vote in Oklahoma, gave $1,000.

I have to wonder: What compelled Lobeck's associates to contribute funds to a city council race in Tulsa? Did Lobeck call them? If so, what did he tell them about Trail and Martinson that would be compelling enough to convince them to give maximum contributions.

Parell, Kennedy, and Benoit all gave money to David Patrick's 2008 campaign to unseat Roscoe Turner.

The voters ought to be able to know about these sorts of contributions BEFORE the election.

Several political action committees have contributed to City of Tulsa candidates during the current election cycle:


BOK Financial PAC: Dewey Bartlett Jr, $1,000; Chris Trail, $1,500; (Eric Gomez received $1,500 and Phil Lakin received $2,000 before the primary, in addition to contributions from George Kaiser, BOK attorney Frederic Dorwart, and several people associated with the Dorwart Law Firm).


Tulsa Inc. Build PAC: Dewey Bartlett Jr, $2,000; Mark Perkins $1,500; David Patrick, $1,500; Eric Gomez, $2,000 (plus $1,500 before the primary); Dennis Troyer, $1,500; Phil Lakin, $1,000; Bill Martinson, $500; Rick Westcott, $1,000. (NOTE: Gomez's disclosure lists Build PAC's contribution this period as $3,000; Build PAC lists $2,000 this period.)

Realtor PAC: David Patrick, $1,000; Bill Martinson, $1,000; G. T. Bynum, $500; Bill Christiansen, $500; Rick Westcott, $500; Eric Gomez, $1,000.

Associated Builders and Contractors PAC: (Phil Lakin, $500 before the primary.)

Oklahoma Associated General Contractors PAC: Chris Trail, $2,000, (plus $1,000 in the pre-primary report).


AFSCME: Tom Adelson, $5,000; Maria Barnes, $500; Chris Trail, $500.

IBEW-COPE: Tom Adelson, $2,500; Maria Barnes, $5,000;

AFL-CIO: (Tom Adelson, $5,000 from before the primary.)

Oklahoma Building Trades PAC: Tom Adelson, $500;

Transport Workers Union PAC: Maria Barnes, $1,000;

Tulsa Firefighters Local 176 PAC: Maria Barnes, $1,000; Bill Christiansen, $2,217,49 (including $1,000 before the primary); Chris Trail, $3,740.23; (plus Tom Adelson, $2,500, David Patrick, $1,000, Dennis Troyer, $1,000, and Bart Rhoades, $2,000, before the primary).

Back the Badge PAC: Maria Barnes, $1,000; Bill Christiansen, $2,000; Barton Rhoades, $2,000; Chris Trail $2,000.

City franchisees

Cox PAC: Tom Adelson, $2,500; Dewey Bartlett Jr, $2,500;


Chickasaw Nation: Tom Adelson, $5,000 (includes $1,000 from before the primary); (plus Dewey Bartlett Jr, $1,000 from before the primary).

Osage Executive Branch PAC: David Patrick, $500;


Newfield PAC: Dewey Bartlett Jr, $1,000

Cash America International PAC: Dewey Bartlett Jr, $1,000

XTO Energy PAC: Dewey Bartlett Jr, $1,000 (plus $1,000 before the primary)

Energy for Oklahomans PAC: Dewey Bartlett Jr, $1,000

Thoroughbred PAC: Tom Adelson, $500.

Just Progress PAC: Tom Adelson, $500; Maria Barnes, $500 (plus $500 in the primary); Roscoe Turner, $500.

City of Tulsa contribution reports for next Tuesday's general election were due today to the City Clerk's office at 5 p.m. Three of the four mayoral candidates have filed their paperwork, and it indicates that Democratic nominee Tom Adelson has a funding advantage fueled by a personal loan of $850,000 to his campaign. Despite rumors that Republican nominee Dewey Bartlett Jr was willing to devote $750,000 in personal funds to the race, he has loaned the campaign only $35,000 as of the reporting deadline. Independent candidate Mark Perkins is campaigning on a relative shoestring budget of just under $53,000.

Here are the top line numbers, as of the end of the reporting period on October 26, 2009:

Tom Adelson:

Personal loan: $850,000.00
Contributions over $200: $129,738.30
Contributions $200 and under: $32,946.50
Carryover from previous report: $196,896.00
Total for campaign: $1,296,786.48

Expenditures this report: $947,987.39
Carryover from previous report: $109,690.30
Total for campaign: $1,057,677.69

Dewey Bartlett Jr.:

Personal loans: $20,000.00 ($15,000 loan this period, $5,000 previous report)
Contributions over $200: $268,104.20 (does not include loan)
Contributions $200 and under: $15,153.00
Carryover from previous report: $281,243.05 (does not include earlier $5,000 loan from Bartlett Jr.)
Total for campaign: $584,500.29

(NOTE: Due to my misreading of Bartlett's detailed disclosure, I earlier incorrectly reported that Bartlett Jr. had loaned his campaign $20,000 before the primary, when that is in fact the cumulative amount. I regret the error.)

Expenditures this report: $370,290.06
Carryover from previous report: $155,659.72
Total for campaign: $525,949.78

Mark Perkins:

Personal loan: $3,669.16 (all in previous report)
Contributions over $200: $18,959.50 (includes $5,000 in previous report from Perkins Law Firm LLC)
Contributions $200 and under: $4,740.00
Carryover from previous report: $25,539.10 (excludes personal loan from previous report)
Total for campaign: $52,907.76

Expenditures this report: $35,794.13
Carryover from previous report: $4,644.69
Total for campaign: $40,438.82

More info and analysis on PACs and individual contributors later this evening.

As I was pulling out of the driveway on Saturday, a neighbor ran out into the street and flagged me down. She wanted to know what I thought about the three amendments to the Tulsa City Charter on the November 10 ballot.

(You can find sample ballots with the text of the propositions on the Tulsa County Election Board website.)



Proposition No. 1 would require the City Auditor to be either a certified internal auditor or a certified public accountant. I can understand the thinking behind it, but I think it's a misguided amendment. The City Auditor is a misnomer. Head of the city audit department would be a more accurate title. The actual auditing work is done by a staff of internal auditors headed up by a chief who reports to the elected City Auditor. The City Auditor is a leader, a manager, and a communicator. As I wrote earlier this year, the City Auditor ought to be engaged in publicizing his department's findings (particularly those audit recommendations rejected by city department managers) and in lobbying for sufficient resources to keep watch over city finances.

Phil Wood didn't become a CIA until 1991, after he'd been elected and re-elected. Preston Doerflinger, the Republican challenging him this year, is working on his CIA certification. It's a useful qualification to have, but it ought to be up to the voters to decide whether a candidate who isn't a CIA or CPA has other qualities that compensate for that deficiency.

I'm voting AGAINST Proposition No. 1.



Proposition No. 2 would change the City Council term to three years with only three councilors up for re-election. I've written previously about the problems with this idea. Steven Roemerman has two posts, one from July explaining how the change attempts to solve a non-existent problem and one from today asking who benefits from this proposal.

I'm voting AGAINST Proposition No. 2.



Proposition No. 3 would require approval from the City Council as well as the Mayor before the city settles a claim or lawsuit in excess of $1 million. This is a response, initiated by District 9 Councilor G. T. Bynum, to Mayor Kathy Taylor's hasty acquiescence in a $7.1 million settlement of the Great Plains Airlines loan default lawsuit. Taylor's unilateral action amounted to a property tax increase without a vote of the people or even of their representatives so that Bank of Oklahoma could be reimbursed for a defaulted loan that they should have had the sense not to make. That should never be allowed to happen again. Not surprisingly, the Tulsa Metro Chamber (a major backer of the failed airline plan) doesn't like limiting the mayor's ability to transfer money to favored businesses.

I'm voting FOR Proposition No. 3.

Some mayoral substance

| | TrackBacks (0)

Mike Easterling has a good story on the Tulsa mayor's race in the current issue of Urban Tulsa Weekly. Former Mayor Rodger Randle described the temporal challenges the mayor faces, particularly when it comes to the community meetings that demand most of a mayor's evenings:

Randle said he often considered his attendance at events for smaller groups more important than his obligation to show up for functions thrown by bigger, better-known organizations. His rationale for that line of thinking was that most of those older, well-established civic groups in Tulsa already were secure in the knowledge that they would have a voice in how local issues are handled. Many newer, outside-the-mainstream organizations are still searching for that assurance, Randle said.

"A lot of them don't know if they're considered to be an inclusive part of the community or not," he said.

Randle's attendance at their functions often signaled to those groups that they were, and he relied on that goodwill for the support of those groups when the time came to pass a civic initiative, such as a bond issue.

"Often, your success was linked to how much those different groups felt they were part of the city," he said.

I refer you once again to the high levels of disagreement, particularly in north, east, and west Tulsa, with the statement, "City leaders in Tulsa understand my community's needs," and the high levels of agreement with the statement, "I do not feel included in the planning process. People like me are always left out."

Randle also emphasized the importance of neighborhood quality of life to the overall health of the city, and so a mayor needs to look beyond the headline issues.

The article goes on to include substantial thoughts from three of the candidates on some issues that haven't received much attention in the race to date, including PLANiTULSA and urban development. Although I haven't had the chance to speak with any of the candidates on these issues, I was pleased to see some ideas I've espoused here and elsewhere being expressed by the candidates. More on the specifics in a later post.

Steven Roemerman has a post up on Dewey Bartlett Jr's belated denials that he was a member of Tulsans for Better Government, the group that in 2005 unsuccessfully circulated a petition to change the Tulsa City Charter to reduce the number of City Council districts to six and add three at-large council seats to be elected citywide. The divisive proposal failed to gain enough signatures to make the ballot.

According to Roemerman, Bartlett Jr now says "that he really had no knowledge of the at-large councilor idea, that he thought he was signing up for 'one of these kind of good government uhh, let's help somebody get elected' groups."

Roemerman did some digging, speaking to two attorneys who were involved in the group. He received apparently contradictory information, with Bartlett Jr apparently saying he agreed to join the group but denying he knew it had anything to do with at-large councilors and the attorneys apparently saying that he was never on the list of advisory board members, despite the October 2005Tulsa World story and TBG website to the contrary.

I've posted a couple of comments to a thread about Roemerman's story on TulsaNow's Tulsa Forum:

I find it interesting that, like Randi Miller and Kathy Taylor, Dewey Bartlett Jr made no objection to the use of his name by Tulsans for Better Government in the fall of 2005, when the group was actively collecting signatures for their petition for the at-large councilor charter amendment and these names lent some credibility to the effort. Each of the three only claimed to have been misinformed about or unaware of the purpose of the group when they became candidates for mayor. The petition drive stalled, Mayor LaFortune appointed a citizens' commission on city government as a way to give his pals on TBG a face-saving way to terminate their faltering effort. The at-large plan received support from only a few commissioners; the final report rejected the proposal.

A Tulsa World story on October 27, 2005, focused on Tulsans for Better Government's petition drive for at-large councilors and included a list of advisory board members. Dewey Bartlett Jr's name was on the list. You'd think someone would have mentioned to Bartlett Jr that his name was in the paper in connection with a controversial proposal. Or he might have noticed that this group he was asked to join had generated some opposition.

At a mayoral forum before the primary, sponsored by the Republican Women's Club, Chris Medlock pointed out that the same group pushing non-partisan elections -- Tulsans for Better Government -- started out pushing for at-large councilors. Medlock said that Bartlett Jr had been a charter member of that group. Bartlett Jr did not speak up to deny involvement, defend his involvement, or even to say, "I have no idea what you're talking about." It's as if he hadn't yet figured out that the at-large issue and the group that pushed it were political liabilities.

Greg Bledsoe, who headed the group Tulsans Defending Democracy, has also weighed in on Bartlett Jr's denial. I agree wholeheartedly with his conclusion:

For Bartlett to say what he is now saying about TBG means he really was seriously uninformed and naive in 2005 or he is not telling the truth now. Either indicates to me a serious question about his qualification to be mayor. If naive--I guess that he will follow others leads rather than decide for himself--indicating to me that the folks who formed TBG in 2005 will most likely be telling him what to sign up for in 2009.

Bledsoe also tells an anecdote which neatly encapsulates the spirit of the Money Belt that motivated the at-large councilor proposal:

The attitude of the TBG folks is best expressed by one of their principals to me at a cocktail party--"I long to return to the day when you could drive a golf ball from your front lawn and hit the lawn of every other member of the city commission."

MORE: Here's my October 26, 2005, column on the Tulsans for Better Government proposal, which explains the political context behind the at-large councilor idea. I think this was the first column in which I used the term "Money Belt," which I defined as "that band of affluence stretching from Utica Square to Southern Hills." Toward the end of the column I elaborate:

Councilors Henderson, Mautino, Medlock, and Turner are each devoted to the needs of their own constituents, but they've also worked together to ensure that the citizens of the historically neglected east, west, and north sections of our city receive the city services they are owed.

And that seems to be what really bugs the bunch behind the at-large council proposal. It's the Money Belt denizens backing this plan that tend to take a parochial view, seeing Tulsa as a small, close-knit, fabulously wealthy town centered on Utica Square. Neighborhoods like West Highlands and Garden City, Rose Dew and Wagon Wheel, Sequoyah and Suburban Acres may as well be foreign countries to them.

The quote from a TBG member that Greg Bledsoe relates reflects that same parochial attitude. The Money Belt isn't a conspiracy, it's a subculture. Its boundaries aren't precise, and not everyone within those boundaries is a part of the subculture, but its existence is reflected in election results (mayoral elections and tax initiatives alike), in mayoral appointments, and in Collective Strength's survey results from last summer.

From our local League of Women Voters, a chance to hear from (almost) all of our citywide candidates, on Friday, October 30, 2009:

The League of Women Voters of Metropolitan Tulsa (LWVMT) and the Brookside NA will sponsor a mayoral candidate forum at All Souls Unitarian Church, 29th and Peoria, at 6 p.m. on Friday, 10/30. Tom Adelson, Dewey Bartlett and Mark Perkins have agreed to participate. This will be followed by an Auditor Candidate forum at 7 p.m. Note that this may be the only time during this campaign when citizens will have the opportunity to listen to (and pose questions to) the two candidates for City Auditor.

The two candidates for City Auditor are 21-year incumbent Democrat Phil Wood and Republican challenger Preston Doerflinger.

The LWV Tulsa calendar lists some other mayoral forums that the organization is co-sponsoring:

  • October 26, 6:30 - 8:00 p.m., Clinton Middle School, cosponsored with the Tulsa County News (the weekly paper for southwest Tulsa)
  • October 27, 7:00 - 8:00 p.m., Cox Communications, broadcast live on Cable Channel 3
  • October 28, 11:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m., with the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
  • October 30, 12 noon - 1:00 p.m., Aaronson Auditorium, Tulsa Central Library, with Tulsa Metropolitan Ministry and Oklahoma Center for Community and Justice

Roscoe_driller-sm.jpgYou may feel that there's no hope for a decent outcome in the Tulsa mayor's race, but there's still a chance to elect more proactive, independent-minded, taxpayer-friendly, and neighborhood-friendly city councilors. Two of the key races are in Districts 3 and 6, where two former incumbents with grassroots backing are trying to unseat the current councilors, who enjoy heavy funding from out-of-district interests.

Phone calls and door-knocking by grassroots volunteers can help make up for a lack of funds, but only to a point. A candidate still needs to send mail to ensure that his message gets to every voter in the district. Printing and mailing a postcard can cost as much as $1 each.

Roscoe Turner, running in District 3, has a PayPal account set up to make it easy to donate. Just click the button below to start the process. You can donate with any major credit card or with your PayPal account.

If you'd rather write a check, make it payable to

Roscoe Turner Campaign
3415 E. Haskell St.
Tulsa, OK 74115

JamesMautino.jpgIt's a bit more work to contribute to Jim Mautino, running to regain his seat in District 6, but it's worth the effort. Make checks payable to Friends of James Mautino for District 6 Councilor and mail them or drop them off at this address:

Friends of James Mautino for District 6 Councilor
14628 E. 12th St.
Tulsa, OK 74108

If you mail a check, call the candidate to let him know. It will help him plan end-of-campaign activities if he knows how much money will be coming in. Here are the phone numbers

Roscoe Turner: 918-834-7580
Jim Mautino: 918-437-2642

And both candidates could still use your help knocking on doors, handing out flyers, and making phone calls. It looks like it'll be a great weekend for walking neighborhoods. Call them at the numbers above to ask how you can help.

The Pearl District Association is hosting a forum featuring the two candidates for Tulsa City Council District 4: Eric Gomez, the incumbent, and Maria Barnes, the previous incumbent. If you're particularly concerned about land use planning, zoning, urban revitalization, and neighborhoods, this is the forum to attend, as the Pearl District audience asks great questions. Here's my column about the 2008 forum, featuring the same two candidates, and here's the audio from last year.

The forum is tonight from 6:00 to 7:30, at "The Boathouse" -- the Central Center at Centennial Park, 1028 E. 6th St. (just a bit west of Peoria).

I have put together a very crude map showing the variation by precinct in the results in last month's Republican primary for Mayor of Tulsa. The base map is from the University of Oklahoma Center for Spatial Analysis. I added dots, using colors to indicate Dewey Bartlett Jr's share of the vote in each precinct: Under 40%, 40%-49%, 50-59%, 60-69%, 70% and over. Because percentages get strange with small numbers of votes, I didn't map precincts with less than 25 voters. The file is a PDF, 1.7 MB.

I'd love to have the GIS tools to show shaded precinct areas or shaded circles of a size proportionate to the number of votes, automagically driven by the numbers in a database, but for now you'll have to make do with this handcrafted map.


Do you see a familiar pattern?

MORE: A 1998 Tulsa World story showed a similar pattern in the home addresses of then-Mayor Susan Savage's appointees to city authorities, boards, and commissions:

The World study found that 73 of Savage's current board appointments, or 58 percent, live in Districts 8 and 9, areas that generally cover the south and southeastern parts of the city.

While midtown and southside make up the bulk of Savage's appointments, just 16 of the 127 Savage appointments, 12 percent, live in the north and east sides of town.

Fifty-five Savage appointees, or 43 percent of the total, live within two miles of her Maple Ridge residence [18th and Owasso]....

The story indicated that District 9 had 53 appointees, District 8 had 20, District 2 and 4 had 15 appointees each, District 1 and 7 had 8 each, District 3 had 4, District 5 and 6 had 2 apiece. Unfortunately, the map that accompanied the story is not on the web, but it shows that nearly all of the District 4 appointees came from the far western part of the district (near Savage's home), and nearly all of the District 2 appointees lived in Precincts 46 and 47, midtown precincts that were moved to District 4 in the 2001 redistricting.

Last Tuesday, I received an e-mail from the Tulsa County Republican Party with the title "An Open Letter to All Republicans from Dewey Bartlett Jr." The introduction says the letter is "the outcome of meetings between the [Tulsa County Republican Party] elected officials and the Bartlett [Jr] campaign officials," which calls into question whether Bartlett Jr himself was involved in the composition of this letter, although presumably he signed it.

Attached below the Bartlett Jr statement was a note that Bartlett Jr had finally signed a pledge opposing non-partisan elections, which puts him at odds with his friends at Tulsans for Better Government, who circulated the charter change petition, and the Tulsa World editorial board.

RepublicansForKathy-DeweyBartlettJr.jpgReading between the lines, it appears that Republican Party officials used the leverage of their endorsement to get Bartlett Jr on the record on matters of conservative principle, with hopes that they can hold him to this statement on specific issues. While the endorsement of party officials is normally automatic for the winner of the Republican primary, this year we have a nominee who had already endorsed the Democratic incumbent for re-election. I think it's fair to say that the only Republican Bartlett Jr would have endorsed for mayor is Bartlett Jr.

I have heard that county party officials have been under relentless pressure to issue an endorsement, and this statement gives them a pretext for changing course. Unfortunately, several of his statements don't square with his recent public record, and others are ambiguous enough that he could adhere to the letter of the agreement while violating its spirit.

You can read the entire statement at Roemerman on Record. Here are a few of the items that either run contrary to Bartlett Jr's record or need more specificity:

Public Safety: Strong public safety is my first priority. I will hire more police to combat crime with existing revenue streams. I will collaborate with Sheriff Stanley Glanz to be sure we are fighting crime with all means and resources necessary. I believe in enforcement and punishment, not the latest social program to treat criminals. Any increases in the police and fire budgets will go to protecting Tulsans or fighting crime.

Collaborating with the sheriff makes sense on most issues, but there are times -- the jail contract, for example -- when the sheriff's interests and the city's interests don't line up, and at those times, city elected officials have to look out for the interests of the citizens who elected them.

I'd like to know whether Bartlett Jr will support 287(g) certification for the Tulsa Police Department. I'd also like to know whether Bartlett Jr agrees with Councilor Bill Martinson that public safety's growing share of the city's general fund budget is cause for concern. I'd like to know from all the mayoral candidates: Where were you when this issue was before the City Council back in June?

Taxes: I pledge not to raise our taxes. Taxes should always remain low, and now more than ever we simply cannot raise taxes.

This promise doesn't square with Bartlett Jr's vote last June, as a member of the Tulsa Airports Improvement Trust (TAIT), to raise our property taxes by agreeing to an unjust $7.1 million settlement with Bank of Oklahoma in the Great Plains Airlines lawsuit. Had he voted against it and persuaded two of his fellow trustees to join him in opposition, the settlement would have failed, the legal process would have moved ahead, with the possibility that the parties responsible for the GPA disaster would be held accountable legally, financially, and politically. Instead, he praised the tax hike, praised Kathy Taylor for coming up with the scheme, voted for it, and then endorsed Kathy Taylor for re-election. When he personally had the power to stop a tax increase, Dewey Bartlett Jr supported and praised the tax increase.

Bartlett Jr's promise leaves a lot of wiggle room. He can propose putting a tax increase before city voters on the grounds that he wants to give the voters a chance to decide whether to raise their taxes. When Tulsa County comes back with a 4-to-Fix sales tax renewal (which would now raise the overall tax rate, since the City of Tulsa's streets tax in the same amount will go into effect when 4-to-Fix expires) or another stab at the river tax, Bartlett Jr can endorse it without literally breaking his promise.

As we've noted before, putting a tax increase before the voters is not a neutral act. Tax votes are expensive: Expensive for the county election board, expensive for the proponents, and expensive and time consuming for the opponents. Those interests that will benefit financially from the tax hike will pour money into supporting its passage, while opponents will struggle to raise 1% of the money to get their message out. It's a classic case of concentrated benefits vs. diffuse costs.

A meaningful promise would have been to veto any council resolution for an election that would raise the overall rate of taxation on Tulsa taxpayers and to oppose publicly and energetically any attempt by other jurisdictions (e.g. Tulsa County) to raise the overall sales tax rate.

Tom Adelson has actually voted for significant state tax cuts on several occasions, including the one that was finally passed in 2006 -- yes, that's the year he and other Democratic state senators got ticked off at Gov. Brad Henry for going behind their backs to cut a deal with House Republicans.

Bartlett Jr never has, as far as I am aware, ever opposed a local tax increase, and that alone makes Bartlett Jr's promise ring hollow. (Neither Adelson nor Mark Perkins has ever opposed a local tax increase either, as far as I know.)

And as Dan Hicks has noted, tax increases have an easier time passing when Republicans are in office. That's because the local Republican Party leadership will energetically oppose a tax increase pushed by a Democrat, but when the tax backers are Republican officials, some party leaders believe the party organization must back the elected officials at all costs. The Tulsa County Republican Executive Committee voiced opposition to two attempts to raise the city sales tax to build a downtown arena, in 1997 and 2000. That was when Democrat Susan Savage was mayor. But when Republican Bill LaFortune was mayor and two of the three county commissioners were Republicans, the Executive Committee did not take an official stance on what was a much larger tax increase than the two that the party leadership had officially opposed.

Last week's Tulsa Beacon had a front-page story about Bartlett Jr's pledge not to raise taxes, but the same story notes that he's been endorsed by Tulsa County Commissioners Fred Perry and John Smaligo. As a Republican legislator, Perry had taken the Americans for Tax Reform pledge to "oppose and vote against any and all efforts to increase taxes," as a County Commissioner Smaligo stated, "The commissioners believe in solid conservative economic principles that when you raise taxes, you hamper commerce and industry," and yet they both voted to put the Tulsa County River Tax on the ballot. Both of them justified their decision to put the tax on the ballot as giving the voters the chance to decide.

Fiscal Restraint: I will manage the budget, making sure we cut unnecessary spending. I will utilize internal and external audits to find out where we can reduce the size and waste in our government.

That's great, but I'd like to know how Bartlett Jr reconciles that position his endorsement of Kathy Taylor, who rejected efforts by fiscal conservatives like John Eagleton who was working long before the economic downturn to keep the growth of the city budget within the rate of inflation. Had Eagleton been successful, the current budget crisis would be considerably less painfull.

"One Tulsa": We cannot ignore any part of town. We must improve our entire city and be sure that each part has proper investment and service. I will work with, not against, the city councilors to achieve this goal.

This promise doesn't square with Bartlett Jr's endorsement, as a member of Tulsans for Better Government, for a proposal to reduce the number of City Council districts from 9 to 6, and to add three at-large City Council seats that would be elected citywide.

Nearly all the members of Tulsans for Better Government were District 9 residents. The proposal would almost certainly have resulted in three more Midtown Money Belt denizens on the council at the expense of representation north, east, and west Tulsa. Winning an at-large seat would require significant resources, and the larger districts would make it harder for grassroots candidates to compete and win. West Tulsa, already just barely providing one half of the population of Council District 2, would have been reduced to a third of a district, easily ignored at election time.

Had this plan, endorsed by Bartlett Jr, been enacted, it would have made it harder for the entire city to have its voice heard and for districts beyond Midtown to have their needs and priorities considered.

Bartlett Jr's promise to work with the city councilors also doesn't square with his clear statement of disrespect in his announcement speech, with its reference to "partisan bickering."

Pro-Life: I am 100 percent against abortion. We need to encourage our faith communities to continue to help pregnant women cope with the challenges of motherhood and eliminate this terrible practice. I also support the efforts of others, such as Catholic charities, in their fight to stop abortion.

That's commendable, and I am unaware of anything contradictory in Bartlett Jr's record. It's an important issue to me and to most conservative Tulsans, whatever their party registration. Adelson has consistently voted against key pro-life legislation aimed at increasing respect for the sanctity of human life and reducing the number of abortions in Oklahoma. Adelson's consistent pro-abortion position will make it very hard for Republicans dissatisfied with Bartlett Jr to split their tickets in Adelson's favor.

There is a question, however, that I wish Bartlett Jr had addressed, dealing with the mayor's actual powers and prerogatives dealing with pro-life issues: Will you, as mayor, veto any attempt to provide funding through the city to Planned Parenthood or any other organization that performs abortions, makes abortion referrals, or advocates for abortion rights?

In the 1990s Planned Parenthood sought CDBG funding for their clinic. That's federal money allocated by local governments. Although the Planned Parenthood of Arkansas and Eastern Oklahoma does not perform abortions in Tulsa, they do refer patients to abortion clinics, they lobby against pro-life legislation in Oklahoma City, and their Arkansas clinics provide abortion services. Money is fungible, and city funds for one of their more legitimate functions frees up donated money for their pro-abortion activities.

Second Amendment: I personally keep and bear arms. This right is a city issue, contrary to what some liberals might say. I will not support limiting our Second Amendment right.

This promise doesn't square with Bartlett Jr's endorsement of Kathy Taylor, who joined the Mayor's Coalition against Illegal Guns, a group founded by liberal mayors with the aim of repealing the Tiahrt Amendment. Bartlett Jr was proud to support Taylor's re-election and, as far as I can find, never protested her participation in this anti-gun-rights group.

The National Rifle Association's political wing has endorsed Tom Adelson for Mayor, on the strength of his pro-gun-rights voting record in the State Senate.

Property Rights: I support property rights of the individual from eminent domain abuse. People are allowed to enjoy life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness in this county and I will stand behind individual property rights which are so essential to this principal [sic].

Eminent domain abuse is in the eye of the beholder. I'd have liked some specifics: Will you veto any ordinance or resolution that authorizes eminent domain for private redevelopment? Was the City right to use its power of eminent domain to clear land for TU's new grand entrance on 11th Street?

Signing on to a statement of vague principles is easy. Bartlett Jr's recent record has enough worrisome aspects that Republican voters should insist on specific commitments before jumping on the Bartlett bandwagon.

Some time ago, Steven Roemerman sent a set of questions to all incumbent councilors to get their opinion on high speed rail, whether Tulsa needs it and how it should be funded. So far three have responded: District 2's Rick Westcott, who was reelected with a primary victory, District 9's G. T. Bynum, who faces perennial candidate Roger Lowry in the general election, and District 6's Dennis Troyer, who faces Jim Mautino, the former councilor he beat in 2006.

Dennis Troyer's responses to Roemerman's questions were almost incomprehensible, but Roemerman generously gave the councilor a chance to revise and extend his remarks. Instead of improving on his first answer, Troyer opted to send a second response as strange as the first.

You'll have to read Troyer's words for yourself, but it appears that Troyer wants to get rid of the Third Penny sales tax as a way of funding high-speed rail. (I don't get it either.)

Roemerman also gave Jim Mautino the chance to respond. The contrast is striking: Mautino's responses are thoughtful, concisely stated, and grounded in principle. I especially liked this point:

Successful rail systems rely on connections to high density population areas with strong urban Public Transportation Systems.

Mautino has traveled widely, including time in Europe and larger U. S. cities. When you take an inter-city train in Europe, the whole journey can be car-free because the stations are in major centers of activity, and there are public transit systems (bus, rail, or a combination) to connect the main-line stations to many other places in the city.

That's not the case in most of the U. S. Using a downtown-to-downtown rail link for a typical trip between Tulsa and Oklahoma City, you'd need to drive downtown, find parking, and then find a rental car on the other end to take you to your destination. Assuming the rail trip itself can be cut to an hour, there's still the added overhead of getting from your point of origin to the train network and from the train network to your real destination. It's almost always going to be faster to drive point-to-point, no matter how fast the train goes.

I also appreciate Mautino's clear position on new or higher taxes -- no -- and his clear position on priorities -- streets, public safety, education.

I might be inclined to dismiss Troyer's disorganized and unprofessional response, except that it is characteristic of his service as a councilor. Just as it would be inappropriate to wear Crocs to a formal occasion, It's inappropriate for public figure to send out a sloppy and barely considered response to a media inquiry. In fact, Troyer wears Crocs to city council meetings, but he appears to leave his thinking cap at home.

Jim Mautino's term as councilor was the only time in the history of the City Council that District 6 has had real representation -- someone there to look after the interests of far east Tulsa residents at City Hall. Mautino took time to research issues, drawing on his experience as an American Airlines maintenance instructor, quality assurance auditor, and neighborhood leader to come to a conclusion and to advocate for his conclusion in council debates.

Troyer, meanwhile, has been a rubber stamp for the mayor's office, developers, and unions. Troyer has been happy to support the continued trashing of Tulsa's front door -- I-44 between 193rd East Ave and 145th East Ave.

JamesMautino.jpgMautino not only looked out for his district's interests during his two years in office, he also worked with other councilors on strategic issues affecting the entire city. One example: Mautino pushed for sewer service to an industrial area that wasn't served by city sewer. The move allowed for further development and job growth in the City of Tulsa. Mautino was also a strong advocate for new retail within city boundaries to help generate more sales tax revenue.

I urge you to vote for Jim Mautino if you live in District 6, ask your friends in the district to vote for him, and donate and volunteer for his campaign. District 6 needs him, and so does the rest of Tulsa.

Yet another linkfest: I washed, dried, folded, and distributed seven loads of laundry yesterday, so I'm lagging behind. Meanwhile, Tulsa area bloggers are turning out plenty worth reading.

In a post titled, "Why I am a Republican," Man of the West relates the evolution of his political philosophy, having started out as a Ayn Rand-inspired Libertarian, then moving to a conservative perspective under the influence of the Bible and writers like Francis Schaeffer. He had been registered as an independent, but "In registering Independent, I began to see, I, and other conservatives like me, were actually making it easier for the Republican Party to continue its slide into political and philosophical incoherence." He came to see the Republican Party as the only hope for promoting and electing officials who would pursue conservative policies.

So I changed my registration to Republican. I vote in the primaries, and I always vote for the most conservative candidate available. But please understand: it's not the Republican Party per se that matters to me; it's the election of conservative candidates. The Republican Party is not my nation, and certainly not my God. The Republican Party is merely a vehicle. And if and when that vehicle isn't getting me where I want to go, I feel free to abandon it, or its candidates.

And that brings him to the impending election:

At the time of writing, there's a candidate for Tulsa mayor--Dewey Bartlett, Jr.--that campaigned in the primary as a "conservative," despite having previously endorsed a pretty liberal Democrat for re-election, despite having supported some very questionable local governmental maneuvers, and having, in his first ads, made rather obvious reference to local conservatives via referring to people's partisanship and "bickering." In my estimation, he appears to have less loyalty to the Republican Party than I do--I certainly never endorsed Kathy Taylor's re-election--and is running as a "conservative" for no other reason than that he knows that being a liberal is political poison in this city. In his case, the vehicle isn't getting me where I want to go, and I refuse to put any "gas"--money or time--into it.

Elsewhere in the Tulsa blogosphere:

Steven Roemerman doesn't like Lucky Lamons's legislation to require pseudoephedrine to be sold only by prescription and he points out the unintended consequences of restrictions on pseudoephedrine sales. (I agree with Steven that phenylephrine -- the drug being substituted for pseudoephedrine in many cold products -- just isn't as good at unblocking sinuses.)

Don Danz has some sweet photos of his boys, including his middle son's third birthday and his smallest learning to pray.

Scot Law remembers his uncle, pianist Larry Dalton, in the latest episode of Goodbye Tulsa.

The Pioneer Woman has some reassuring words for those suffering from the October Homeschooling Blues.

Stan Geiger takes a closer look at what the stimulus money coming to Oklahoma is actually stimulating:

From down the turnpike, Steve Lackmeyer's OKC Central blog presents a post on Oklahoma City's future by Nick Roberts. Nick thinks the core-to-shore plan needs to be reworked, but beyond his interesting ideas on that topic, I really like this guiding principle that he sets out:

In order to visualize Downtown OKC in 2020 we have to visualize Downtown OKC in 2000, and 1990, and so on. Most importantly I think we need to visualize Downtown OKC in 1920, 1930, and 1940. OKC needs to go back to the future to a time when it had excellent downtown parks, a great streetcar network, and downtown vibrancy.

A few links to tide you over:

Tulsa Gal has a photo-filled post on the history of the Tulsa State Fair. The aerial shots showing the evolution of the fairgrounds are fascinating.

Tulsa TV Memories has a page devoted to the Tulsa State Fair, including the classic1965 radio jingle that inspired Tulsa Gal's blog entry title. The page includes memories of TV news remotes from the fairgrounds.

The cover story in last week's Urban Tulsa Weekly has more on Tulsa State Fair history and its 2009 incarnation.

Here's the Tulsa State Fair homepage, with links to schedules and info on exhibits, entertainment, and parking. There's a lot you can do for free, once you pay to get in the gate. For example, the Oklahoma State Fiddle Championship is on Saturday from 11 am to 5 pm, and the Mandolin, Finger-style, and Flatpicking Guitar Championships are on Sunday from 11 am to 5 pm, both on the Coke Stage, southeast corner of the QuikTrip Center (aka the IPE Building).

Natasha Ball is having an identity crisis and thinks -- thinks -- she needs a makeover to fix it. You can help her reach her goal -- or if you prefer, you can help Holly Wall reach her goal. And don't miss Tasha's weekly list of what to do in Tulsa this weekend, which hints at a gut-wrenching Tulsa State Fair experience from her childhood. (To this dad, who can't stomach twirly rides, it sort of sounds like just desserts.)

Mad Okie, Steven Roemerman, and Man of the West each have some thoughts on the place of party loyalty in a city election. More from Mad Okie on the topic here.

Man of the West was inspired by a recent trip to Barnsdall to take some photos and muse about his vision of the local church as the heart of its neighborhood. I enjoyed his photos of Victory Baptist Church, which is housed in a lovely two-story school house which once was home to Pershing School. (Maybe next time he visits, he can get a closeup of the cornerstone of that building.)

In case you missed it from early last month, Jason Kearney has a post on the accident that killed bicyclist Barbara Duffield and why the immigration status of the driver who killed her matters.

MORE: Irritated Tulsan has 25 Warning Signs the State Fair Is in Town.

Mayoral audio

| | TrackBacks (0)

Tulsa's mayoral election is on the air.

At 8 a.m. this morning (Wednesday, September 30, 2009), 1170 KFAQ will have the two major-party candidates for mayor, Tom Adelson and Dewey Bartlett Jr, in studio for a head-to-head debate. As I understand it, host Pat Campbell will stay in the background and let the two candidates ask each other questions. It's a great idea. (Too bad there wasn't a similar event before the Republican primary.) (UPDATE: Here's the podcast of the KFAQ Tom Adelson-Dewey Bartlett Jr debate.)

KRMG will hold a debate between the mayoral candidates on November 3. Over the last several mornings, KRMG's Joe Kelley has had several short segments with Adelson, Bartlett Jr, and independent Republican candidate Mark Perkins.

2009/09/24: Dewey Bartlett Jr on mistakes in his ads
2009/09/24: Tom Adelson responds to Bartlett Jr's attack ad
2009/09/25: Tom Adelson on the campaign and his contributions to Democratic candidates and party funds
2009/09/28: Mark Perkins
2009/09/28: Dewey Bartlett Jr
2009/09/29: Tom Adelson

Steven Roemerman put together a mashup of the two segments from Sept. 24 to make it sound like a debate between the two candidates. Pretty cool.

KWGS Studio Tulsa is doing a series of programs with each of the candidates:

2009/09/25: Tom Adelson
2009/09/28: Mark Perkins

Ray Pearcey hosts a weekly public affairs program, Community Issues on Tap, Saturdays at 11 a.m. on AM 1340 KJMU. The home page has Dewey Bartlett Jr's appearance on the 2009/09/19 program. Mark Perkins was on the show last weekend, but the audio doesn't appear to be online yet.

(Pearcey gave a very interesting Ignite Tulsa talk (video here) on the possibilities opened by the iPhone for interaction between the web and the physical world and how Tulsa can be a part of making those possibilities happen.)

Where's Dewey Jr?

| | Comments (5) | TrackBacks (0)

I received an e-mail yesterday morning from Herb Beattie, who is organizing a candidate forum for the League of Women Voters of Metro Tulsa (phone numbers, except for the campaign office number, redacted):

waldoBartlettJr.jpgSubject: Please help me locate Dewey

Since last Wednesday, 9/23, on behalf of the LWVMT, the Brookside NA and other midtown NAs, I have been trying to arrange a forum involving mayoral, auditor and Council district 9 candidates. Of course the most important candidates are Dewey Bartlett and Tom Adelson. I talked with Adelson's office but have been unsuccessful locating Dewey. I called his campaign office, 582-5553, and left a message. I then sent an email to his campaign website (see below). On Friday morning I called Republican HQ and the lady who answered told me that they were having similar difficulties communicating with him or his campaign staff. She gave me three numbers to try

1. 230-xxxx a machine answered and I left a message
2. 743-xxxx a man answered but was not helpful other than suggesting that I call Keener Oil
3. 587-xxxx this is Keener Oil where I left a message for Dewey or his assistant to call me.

No responses yet, so I am asking some of my Republican friends to help me find him.

Bartlett Jr was supposed to appear at the After Five Republican Women's Club meeting at Cowboy Sharkie's, 5840 S. Memorial, last at 6 p.m. But then he was supposed to appear at last month's meeting, a forum to which all Republican mayoral candidates were invited, but he canceled. I haven't heard whether he made last night's meeting or not.

As of early this morning, Beattie had tried a couple of additional avenues to contact Bartlett Jr, with no result.

If you know of Dewey Bartlett Jr's whereabouts, please contact the League of Women Voters.


"Where's Dewey Jr?" graphic courtesy Steven Roemerman, who has a "Where's Dewey Jr?" puzzle and a song. (Do it, Rockapella!)

In the comments, Chris Medlock writes:

He was late to the After Five Republican Women's Club, but he did show along with his wife Victoria.

No word as to where he went after that. I didn't notice any strange fog, or anything.

UPDATE 2009/09/30: Herb Beattie writes:

Thanks to Councilor Bynum, batesline and, perhaps, others I received a call from a man on Dewey's campaign team yesterday. He suggested that a forum scheduled for Sunday, 11/1, at 11:30 at All Souls Unitarian Church (ASUC) be used for a "District 9 Candidate Forum". I responded that, although that might be useful for a very few folks who are not members of that church, it would not meet our broader objectives because of parking and many folks wanting to be at other churches at that time. I asked him to suggest some other times and I agreed to call ASUC to seek their reaction.

A mailer today from the Dewey Bartlett Jr campaign points out Tom Adelson's contributions to liberal Democratic candidates and causes. Adelson was an early and maximum contributor to Barack Obama's presidential campaign, gave $20,000 to the 2008 "victory fund" (money given to the Democratic Party to promote voter registration and turnout -- not directly in support of a particular candidate), and gave large contributions to the Democratic Congressional and Senatorial campaign committees, aimed at giving control of the House and Senate to the Democratic Party leadership, which is considerably further left than most Oklahoma Democrats. The mailer asks, "If Tom Adelson spends his personal wealth supporting these liberal policy makers in Washington, D. C., what liberal policies will he push on Tulsa?"

(Impressively, this Bartlett Jr mailer contains no obvious typos. The address side features a faded photo of Adelson in the background with prominent images of Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, John Kerry and a pile of hundred-dollar bills. The other side has another prominent image of Obama and smaller photos of Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Clinton, Kerry, and Tom Daschle.)

It's a fair question to ask, and one that Adelson needs to answer. We've had some recent examples of Democratic mayors pursuing policies that were far to the left of the Tulsa electorate:

As interesting as it is to look at a candidate's support for Federal campaigns, it's just as critical for Tulsa's voters to know whether the candidates for mayor approve or disapprove of these specific actions taken by recent mayors to raise taxes and to use the City of Tulsa's credibility to advance liberal ideology.

As a Democrat and a Taylor donor, Adelson needs to tell us where he stands on each of these issues. I am not aware of him speaking out in opposition to any of these actions by Mayors Savage and Taylor.

But Dewey Bartlett Jr has some explaining to do, too. As someone who endorsed Kathy Taylor for re-election before he even knew which Republican would challenge her, we have to assume, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, that Bartlett Jr supports each of Taylor's controversial, left-wing actions prior to that endorsement.

We know for a fact that Bartlett Jr backed Taylor's Great Plains Airlines property tax increase, because he praised it and, as her appointee on the airport board, Bartlett Jr voted to approve it. One would think that Bartlett Jr, as someone in the energy business, would vocally oppose Taylor's pledge to adhere to the Kyoto standards, but I don't recall him uttering a peep in opposition.

Candidates, let's hear some answers. If any of the four mayoral candidates will address these issues, I'll post their responses here.

Walk for Roscoe Turner

| | TrackBacks (0)

Roscoe_driller-sm.jpgFormer District 3 City Councilor Roscoe Turner is trying to regain his seat on the City Council, a seat lost in 2008 to David Patrick.

Patrick quit in 1998 to run for State House; Turner won the November special election. Patrick beat Turner in the 2002 Democratic primary, then lost to him in the 2004 primary revote, a revote required because of election irregularities that rendered the outcome of the original primary mathematically uncertain. In 2008, Patrick ran as an independent and won. The move caught many District 3 voters by surprise; they were used to the primary being the main event.

If past history is any measure, Patrick will have far more funding than Turner. Patrick receives a lot of out-of-district money in gratitude for his willingness to toe the line for the Chamber, the development lobby, and the other special interests that make up the city's establishment. During this term of office, Patrick was flown back on Mayor Kathy Taylor's Lear 31 from his farm in Colorado to vote for her downtown ballpark assessment district deal. Patrick also angered his constituents by failing to keep them in the loop regarding the Mental Health Association's residence for the long-term homeless at Admiral and Yale.

Turner is dependent on grassroots support. Over the years, he's gained the respect and admiration of Tulsans across the political spectrum for standing up for neighborhoods and homeowners -- not only in his own district, but all over Tulsa -- opposing tax increases for frivolous purposes, and backing the interests of City of Tulsa residents rather than giving into a perverted sort of "regionalism" that asks the central city to defer to the welfare of the suburbs.

There's a third candidate, Karl Hulcher, who won the Republican nomination by default in this strongly Democratic district. Not for the first time, the District 3 Republican nominee has a long list of recent legal run-ins, including a conviction for second-degree arson and DUI. (Here is a fascinating article on 2002 District 3 Republican nominee John L. Westbrook.)

Tulsa needs Roscoe Turner back on the City Council. With our mayoral choice largely limited to Tweedledee and Tweedledum, it's especially important to have councilors who will stand up for ordinary Tulsans, for transparency in government, for a focus on basic government services, and for neighborhoods.

If you'd like to help Roscoe Turner return to office, call him at 834-7580 and ask how you can help. Knocking on doors and distributing literature is one very important way you can help Roscoe overcome his opponent's funding advantage. Groups of volunteers will be going out this Saturday and every Saturday from here to the election. Your donations would also be gratefully received. (You can give through the PayPal button on the RoscoeTurner.com website.)

MORE: My column on the District 3 race in 2008 is worth a re-read.

(Am I worried about the consequences of endorsing a Democrat on future political ambitions? I don't have any, but even the most rock-ribbed Republican wouldn't expect me to endorse someone with the checkered past of the party's nominee, and Turner is far more fiscally conservative than his independent opponent. Anyway, endorsing a Democrat for city office will get you endorsed by former Republican County Chairmen. Your mileage may vary -- that may only work if you have a few million in the bank.)

An update from an earlier entry: Back on September 9, I wrote about a press release from the Dewey Bartlett Jr campaign claiming that Tom Adelson attacked him in a KRMG interview the morning after the primary and then claiming that Adelson said Gov. Brad Henry should be shot for supporting a tax cut. As I documented, that's not what Adelson said.

An honorable candidate would have enough sense of shame to drop a line of attack once it's shown to be false. (Not just misleading. False.) I guess the attack on Adelson poll-tested well, because Bartlett Jr has doubled down and is using it as the theme of a TV ad. (Via the KRMG Morning News blog, which also has audio of Adelson's alleged attack on Bartlett Jr.)

The tag line says, "Tom Adelson, just another politician slinging mud, and raising taxes." Hmm. With this ad, Bartlett Jr is slinging mud. We already know about Bartlett Jr's support for a significant and unnecessary tax increase.

MORE: Forgot this gem from the Bartlett Jr campaign's press releases:

Tulsans awoke early on Wednesday morning, Sept. 9, to Tom Adelson personally launching a scud missile attack on Dewey Bartlett, who Tulsans have always known to be a gentleman and a local businessman.

Bartlett Jr a gentleman? His mendacious attack on Adelson certainly isn't gentlemanly. And something about trying to take any claim to the family home away from the wife you're divorcing strikes me as caddish. (But I'm sure that's just old fashioned of me.)

And "scud missile attack"? The comment in question was near the end of the interview, at about 2:40, in response to a question from Rick Couri asking what would surprise voters.

I think that Dewey has a tax and spend record that would embarrass any big-spending liberal. He's probably a little more liberal than I am when it comes to fiscal responsibility, so people may be a little bit surprised about our different records. I'm the only candidate in the race that's actually voted for tax cuts. I've coauthored an effort to repeal the sales tax on groceries, which was not successful, but I tried. And I voted for tax relief a number of times when I thought it made sense. And I've been responsible for a budget and several health agencies which required us to perform performance reviews every year, so I'm very accustomed to making the tough choices between one state service versus another and trying to prioritize, so I have a lot of experience doing that.

Pretty mild stuff, and mostly Adelson making the case that he's a fiscal conservative.

STILL MORE: Commenter Richard spots another oopsie -- that isn't Tulsa that Adelson's head is "dividing" at the beginning of the commercial. KRMG's Joe Kelley appears to have found the skyline photo of Oklahoma City that was used in the ad. Judge for yourself.

Last Thursday, KRMG's Joe Kelley interviewed Tulsa District 5 City Councilor-elect Chris Trail about his defeat of incumbent Bill Martinson. It was an interesting conversation. During the segment, Kelley mentioned his conversation with Trail at the Beer Summit, and that shortly thereafter, he was speaking to one of Trail's firefighter supporters, who said to Kelley, regarding Trail, "He's not real bright, but at least he's not Bill Martinson." A bit later (about 4 minutes in) Kelley mentions my blog post about Trail's previous residence, as recently as March 4, 2009, in the City of Sand Springs. Trail's reaction is worth hearing. (I've found that Fisherman's Friend helps with sudden coughing fits.)


After some more research, I suspect that Trail was unfamiliar with the municipal status of his former residence because he did not own it. My search of Tulsa County Clerk records did not turn up a transaction involving Trail for the parcel at his former address, nor for the residence specified on his filing papers. (I will caution that Tulsa County Clerk online records do not include street addresses, so while I was careful and feel fairly confident in my findings, it's possible that I misidentified the parcel with the address. A search of Tulsa County Clerk records naming Trail turned up parcels that are neither in his old subdivision -- Rolling Oaks Amended -- nor his new subdivision -- Magic Circle.)

MORE: Here's a link to the FirefighterHourly.com article that Joe Kelley mentioned:

In a right to work state, Tulsa firefighters used their newly won political influence to help oust an incumbent council member in a primary race. Prior to becoming involved the election was considered a lock but firefighters helped to bring attention to their plight and the political decisions of the council member.

This development is part of a growing trend of firefighters seeking to protect citizens from political cuts to public safety. It has been stated throughout history that it is impossible to run against public safety and win yet some elected officials attempt to do just that, making political decisions without thinking about the consequences for citizens and firefighters.

Some firefighters believe living in a right to work state means they have no voice. While the rules are different for now the opportunity is there to impact change using facts at the local level.

By the way, if you haven't tried KRMG's new audio player, try it out on the collection of interview clips from recent editions of the KRMG Morning News. Unlike the previous player, the new one works well in Firefox and so far has worked every time. Good job.

MORE: Joe Kelley had this to tweet a couple of hours after the interview ran:

The Tulsa Fire Union leader apparently doesn't like my Q's to Chris Trail. He called our News Room w/a msg for me.

KRMG's Joe Kelley was frustrated at the slow rate at which Tuesday night's City of Tulsa election results were available to the public. You can't find live results on the Tulsa County Election Board website. For state elections, the Oklahoma State Election Board does provide live results, updated periodically. Many other states provide live results from the local to the state level, often in great detail (e.g. presidential election results by county in Florida).

At 8 p.m. last Tuesday, Kelley fired off an e-mail to the Tulsa County Commissioners. Kelley has posted his e-mail and the reply from county and state election officials on his KRMG Morning News blog.

District 3 Commissioner Fred Perry replied to Kelley's e-mail, and Kelley clarified his concern:

My issue is not at all with the means of voting.

Instead, it's with the method the Election Board distributes the election results. In the high-tech, super-fast information era, that the Election Board website does not offer REAL TIME election results with embeddable applications, is just beyond belief. I have not spoken up sooner because I have just assumed that the technology was just moments away. Yet, I'm starting to realize I should have not made that assumption....

I'm not sure if the Election Board has noticed that we no longer send a reporter there on Election Day. In fact, I'm not aware of any reporters who do this. Instead, we have all found a way to work around the Election Board. Now, we send runners to the precincts and manually gather the info ourselves. Instead of utilizing the Election Board, KOTV and the other TV stations have gone out and bought software programs to circumvent the Election Board in compiling vote counts.

Kelley goes on to explain that local media outlets use runners to grab the results that are posted on the polling place doors shortly after the polls close, rather than waiting for the county election board to provide numbers. He points to Dallas County, Texas, and that election board's capability to provide real-time results.

Kelley gets replies from Shelley Boggs, Assistant Secretary of the Tulsa County Election Board, and Paul Ziriax, Secretary of the Oklahoma State Election Board, explaining the hardware currently in use, when it was put into service (procured in the late '80s, in service statewide for the 1992 election), how the statewide live returns are provided, and when a new statewide election computer system will be in place. From Boggs's reply:

The State Election Board is able to post statewide election returns over their website in state races by collecting date by modem from all County Election Boards. The state then goes through a very cumbersome process to connect the Vax system to a PC in order to connect this to their Internet site. Under the state's direction, the county offices do not have this hardware to allow the connectivity. It is my understanding the State Election Board does not want any hardware or software connected to their election system for security reasons. Unfortunately, the state does not provide election result compilation for local elections, only state elections.

Some further observations from my experience with state and county election results.

When I've requested results of past elections by precinct from the State Election Board, they send a CD with a bunch of PDF files. The PDFs are of the printouts from the election board computers. These printouts are formatted for printing on a band printer on greenbar paper, so they have page headers and footers, and it takes some extra programming and manual steps on my part to turn those into something I can put in a spreadsheet or database.

You can't even get that much from the county election board, which is the only source for municipal and school board results. For those, I've had to enter all the numbers manually from their printouts.

Tulsa County Election Board staffers have always been very helpful, patient, and accommodating when I've come in in search of past results.

On election night, it will always be faster to use runners than to wait for the election board's results. The poll workers have several minutes cleanup to do after they post the tape. They they have to take the ballot boxes and the tabulation card from the machine down to election board HQ. The process of getting the materials from poll worker's car into the building and into the computer takes even more time.

For the 2006 city primary, I went down to the election board to try to find out the numbers they had and which precincts had reported already, to get a sense of whether the early returns were from LaFortune's midtown stronghold or from the areas where Medlock was expected to do well. Gene Pace, the Election Board Secretary at the time, graciously let me sit at a terminal in his office, but all it could tell me were the totals -- not individual precinct numbers or which precincts were already in.

Often campaigns will have their own runners to grab the results. In 2002, when I last ran for office, I had campaign volunteers phone in results from one or two precincts nearest them before heading to the party. I personally walked across Cherry Street from the site of our watch party -- a house on Cherry Street that had previously housed a candle shop, where the Genghis Grill is now -- to the Precinct 48 polling place at Marquette School to get that result.

The TV stations had their own runners. While KOTV had me leading most of the night, I knew from the numbers being phoned in that I was on my way to defeat. As a result, my friends were having a much better time at the watch party than I was. I suspect that my evanescent lead on KOTV was the result of one or more transposition errors, either by runners reading numbers, call takers writing down the numbers from the runners, or data entry people typing them into the computer.

Chris Medlock noticed a similar anomaly from this year's primary.
On Wednesday, he and his wife were watching a TV show he had DVRed the night before. He noticed that the results on KJRH's coverage had him going backwards by 1,396 votes from one update to the next. More than likely, a data entry error (a couple of extra zeroes) was corrected. Bartlett's numbers went up between those two updates, but not by as much as you'd expect with an additional 15% of precincts reporting.

Last Tuesday, when results seemed slow coming in, I phoned a couple of council candidates to see if their runners had anything to report. Neither one was using runners and didn't know any more about results than I did. I suspect that they chose to enjoy a happy hour of food, drink, and the company of their friends and volunteers before they had to confront the results, good or bad.

Because I was in the KRMG newsroom with news director Dan Potter on primary night, I didn't have access to the individual precinct results that were being phoned in by KRMG/KOTV runners to the KOTV newsroom. This made it hard to tell, early on, whether the mayoral returns indicated a race that was truly too close to call. One of my Twitter pals responded to my last-minute appeal to "tweet the vote," sending in returns from two District 7 precincts; and Steven Roemerman texted me with a couple of precincts. The percentage of precincts reporting in each council district gave me a rough approximation of where in the city the returns were coming from, but I couldn't do a direct comparison to the same precincts four years earlier.

We won't have real-time returns anytime soon. Here's my dream for the general election in November -- Tulsa Twitterers would visit their local polling place and maybe one or two others and tweet the results. A web app would use the Twitter API to grab the relevant tweets, parse them into precinct results, and show the totals from the same precincts from the 2006 mayoral election and the 2004 state senate election.

It's rare that I say this, but I agree with the Tulsa Whirled editorial board. In a Wednesday editorial, they urged the defeat of a proposed charter amendment to have the City Council elected to staggered three-year terms, so that only a third of the council is up for re-election in any given year. The amendment will be on the November general election ballot.

Here are their objections:

First, it would perpetuate the current silliness of holding some municipal elections in odd-numbered years, when voter turnout will be low.

Further, it would shotgun the races over three years, meaning there will be less publicity about elections. Councilors will be able to run for re-election below the radar of public scrutiny.

And it would give councilors three-year terms instead of the current two years, making them less responsive to voters.

Finally, it would mean it would take three election cycles for voters to flush out a corrupt or inept council.

On the whole, it wouldn't be unreasonable to conclude that the change is designed to make the council more powerful and less accountable to voters.

I disagree with their disdain for municipal elections in odd-numbered years. Municipal issues deserve attention that they are unlikely to get in the midst of a presidential or gubernatorial campaign. Nevertheless, they are correct to point out that staggered terms make it harder to clean house and make it more difficult for voters and potential candidates to plan for the next opportunity to replace their councilor.

By the way, those very same factors are at work in our school board election process, but worse. In Tulsa, school board members serve four year terms, with two seats up each year, except for one year out of four when only one seat is on the ballot. In the suburbs, terms are five years, with only one seat open to change each year. The filing period, right after Thanksgiving, is in the midst of the Christmas season and always catches people unawares, a fact that likely explains the small number of candidates who file each year. Worse still, school board elections are non-partisan, which further depresses turnout; the lack of labels of any sort on the ballot is a deterrent to many voters. I look forward to the editorial board's endorsement of two-year terms for school board members, with all board members on the ballot at each election.

There's a theory that school administrators and bureaucrats like the staggered terms, because if a firebrand reformer should sneak through the defenses and get elected, the other members, having already been tamed and enculturated to The Way Things Have Always Been Done Around Here, will throw a wet blanket on his zeal. Staggered terms seem to have the same effect on authorities, boards, and commissions.

The same dynamic would be at work with staggered terms on the council. Far from making the council more powerful, it would make them less likely to challenge the Way Things Have Always Been Done at City Hall. From that perspective, it's surprising that the Whirled editorial writers would object to the idea.

The editorial goes on to note the legal problems with holding a September election in an even-numbered year, at a time when, it says, state law says "that during even-numbered years cities can't use the state voting system for elections in September." (Actually, state law -- 26 O.S. 13-101.1 -- says the county election board isn't required to run an election on a date other than those specified in 26 O. S. 3-101.) If the county election board wouldn't cooperate, as they probably wouldn't, given the expense, the city would have to staff polling places and either buy machines or else conduct a hand count of ballots.

On a related issue, a number of people have complained about this year's primary being the day after Labor Day. The city charter amendment that moved elections to the fall tied the primary and general election date to "the day specified by the laws of Oklahoma" in the months of September and November respectively. The relevant section of state law is 26 O.S. 3-101. This situation will occur two years out of every 28, when September begins on a Tuesday in an odd-numbered year. The next time is 2015, at which council and auditor are up for election, but not the mayor. After that, it won't happen until 2037, a mayoral election.

But to eliminate even those few occasions It would be a simple amendment to state law to change the September date from the second Tuesday to the Tuesday after the second Monday, thus avoiding the Labor Day problem altogether. The change would not only help Tulsa, but would benefit the whole state. No jurisdiction should be holding a special election the day after Labor Day.

(UPDATED 2009/09/10 9:00 a.m. -- KRMG's Joe Kelley has audio of Adelson's alleged negative attack on Bartlett Jr -- see below.)

I guess it must be part of the Ahlgren & Holland playbook: Accuse your opponent of going negative before he actually has. Then you can attack your opponent while making it seem that he's attacking you. They did it to Chris Medlock last weekend, with a mailer that lied about Medlock having lied about opponents in previous campaigns.

The first negative shot fired in the Tulsa mayoral general election campaign came today from Republican nominee Dewey Bartlett Jr, who accused Democratic nominee Tom Adelson of going negative. I have been unable to find any media coverage of a negative remark by Adelson against Bartlett Jr, and the KTUL story did not mention whether Bartlett Jr provided details of the alleged attack. Here is the shot that Bartlett Jr fired at Adelson:

"Tom Adelson not only opposed the income tax reductions supported by Democrats and Republicans alike, he actually called conservative Democrat Brad Henry a "traitor who should be shot" because the governor supported the largest reduction in the state income tax in state history," Bartlett said.

Here's what Adelson actually said, back in May of 2006, according to a Tulsa World story:

Putting the annual state budget puzzle together got a little more complicated for Gov. Brad Henry on Tuesday.

His Democratic allies in the state Senate rebelled against a proposed tax-and-spending deal he announced with House Speaker Todd Hiett, R-Kellyville, on Monday....

For some Democrats on Tuesday, the issue seemed personal.

Sen. Tom Adelson, D-Tulsa, said he was so angry at the deal that he has asked Henry to return a $5,000 campaign contribution he had made to Henry's re-election campaign.

"I understand the historical observation is that we treat prisoners of war humanely but we shoot traitors," Adelson said.

Anyone with reading comprehension skills will understand Adelson's point: Those who are actively and honestly opposing you are easier to treat with kindness than allies who betray your cause.

At the time, the OCPA's Brandon Dutcher was reminded of Gov. Frank Keating's infamous "homicide" crack:

You'll no doubt recall that former Gov. Frank Keating got into all kinds of hot water when he suggested in 2000 that "homicide" might be the proper course of action for dealing with the state's largest labor union. A quick archives search turned up no shortage of stories and editorials in The Oklahoman, the Tulsa World, and the Journal Record mentioning the "homicide" remark. By contrast, the Adelson remark has (so far as I can tell) garnered but one sentence in one newspaper.

Now I realize that the remarks of a Governor are more newsworthy than the remarks of one state senator. And I realize that Sen. Adelson is a fine man and was merely joking (just as Gov. Keating was joking in 2000). But one has to wonder what the gatekeepers would have done if a conservative state senator had broached the idea of putting a bullet in a sitting Governor. Or if he had called him a "traitor." (After all, is it appropriate, especially in wartime, to use the word "traitor" over a mere policy disagreement?)

The gist of the Bartlett Jr press conference was that Adelson strongly objected to the 2006 state income tax cut, a tax cut that had the support of many Democrats (including Gov. Brad Henry) and nearly all Republicans. I feel sure that had Bartlett Jr won that 2004 election, he would have voted for the state tax cut.

Here in Tulsa, however, I can't recall a single local tax initiative that Dewey Bartlett Jr or Tom Adelson ever opposed. In fact, Bartlett Jr praised and voted in support of a settlement deal in the Great Plains Airlines default lawsuit. That deal resulted in additional property tax being levied on Tulsa's taxpayers to cover the settlement of over $7 million. Before casting his vote, Bartlett Jr praised Democratic Mayor Kathy Taylor, whom he also endorsed for re-election, for organizing the rotten deal for taxpayers. And Bartlett Jr backed a proposed city charter amendment that would have packed the City Council with more representation from areas favorable to higher local taxes.

MORE: KRMG's Joe Kelley asked the Bartlett campaign about Adelson's alleged negative attack:

I was informed that it was from Tom Adelson's interview with me at 8:23am Wednesday (9/09). I didn't recall anything specific from that interview that struck me as 'negative,' so I went back and re-listened.

Click here to hear Joe Kelley's interview with Tom Adelson from September 9, 2009.

Click here to go back to the start of this entry.

A few thoughts before turning in:

Thanks to news director Dan Potter and the KRMG news team for the chance to contribute to tonight's coverage of the primary election. It was a pleasure, and I look forward to the next opportunity.

Many thanks to Chris and Cheryl Medlock for their willingness to go through another election. It is not an easy process, especially to run as an underdog. I know that Chris attempted to find another viable conservative candidate to run for mayor, and he deserves credit for being willing to step forward when other candidates would not.

Congratulations to Rick Westcott and Bill Christiansen on winning their elections. I was especially pleased to see that outside money was unable to win the day in District 8.

Congratulations to Rocky Frisco for coming so close to a win over an incumbent on such a small budget. "Next time, definitely!" as the Soviet firing squad officer said to Mr. Pither.

Congratulations to Jim Mautino and Maria Barnes for their primary wins. The results in Districts 4 and 6 mean we'll have a rematch of the 2008 and 2006 elections respectively. (District 3, which did not hold any primary, will have its own rematch in November, as Roscoe Turner and David Patrick face off for the umpteenth time.)

Congrats to Liz Wright and Scott Grizzle for putting their names on the ballot. This was not their year, but they both have a heart for the city, and there will be other opportunities to serve.

Regarding District 5:

Nothing tonight was so discouraging as the thought that some of Tulsa's "civic leaders" would amass a huge amount of money to get rid of an intelligent, inquisitive, analytical councilor like Bill Martinson. It's as if they want us to have mediocre leadership. Maybe Kathy Taylor et al. are secretly working for Oklahoma City.

I said on air tonight that Chris Trail lived in the City of Sand Springs as recently as March 4, 2009. Trail said on air that that wasn't so.

I based my statement on the address he and his wife listed when they contributed $50 on March 4, 2009, to the Taylor for Tulsa campaign. That address is 7306 W. 35th St. That is the same address in precinct 801 at which Trail's wife Sarah was registered to vote as of June 1. That's a "Tulsa" address -- it uses the Tulsa street numbering system -- but it's nowhere near the city limits of Tulsa.

That address corresponds to Lot 2, Block 3 of Rolling Oaks Amended subdivision. Parcel number is 86705-9219-51495. According to the INCOG municipal boundary map and a map of Sand Springs corporate limits from the University of Oklahoma's Center for Spatial Analysis, the entire Rolling Oaks Amended subdivision appears to be within the corporate limits of the City of Sand Springs. There appears to be an unincorporated enclave just to the east, and it appears to correspond a group of unplatted 3/4-acre lots just east of Trail's old address. I will verify this when I next have access to the county land records database. (If I were looking up info on Oklahoma County, I could do that online right now.) I may also call the City of Sand Springs to verify when the subdivision was annexed. With a Tulsa address and zip code, living in the Berryhill school district, and with unincorporated land over the back fence, Trail just may not have been aware that he lived in the Sand Springs corporate limits.

UPDATE 2009/09/09: I have just confirmed with the Tulsa County Assessor's office that the parcel in question, 7306 W. 35th St., Chris Trail's address as recently as March 4, 2009, is in the City of Sand Springs, Berryhill School District.

Finally: Someone calling himself DCtransplant joined the TulsaNow public forum tonight and posted for the first and only time to call me "an embarrassment to the Republican Party." He hints that he's a professional Republican campaign operative who has worked recently in Washington, but I suspect he's some local, typing away in his mom's basement. Go read his rant and my response. Create an account and pipe up if the mood takes you.

I tweeted a thought this afternoon and expanded upon it on air tonight. Here's what a $50 filing fee bought the also-rans in the Mayor's race: the right to demand equal time on the radio, an automatic invite to a half-dozen or so forums and luncheons, where you can express your political views to a captive audience, and free food at those same forums and luncheons. In fact, I'll bet you could eat enough in free food to offset the $50 filing fee. That's not a bad deal for the also-ran candidate.

But it is a bad deal for the election process. This year, the presence of all these extra candidates prevented the voters from seeing a head-to-head debate between the serious contenders. Instead of a debate over the future direction of the city, voters got a quarter million dollars worth of fluff advertising and a few forums.

When the charter was approved in 1989, there was no filing fee. In 1998, voters approved a charter amendment requiring candidates to put down a $50 deposit (which you get back if you draw more than 15% of the vote in the first election in which your name appears on the ballot) or submit a petition with 300 signatures. You have to submit the petition if you want to run as an independent, since you're getting a bye to the general election ballot.

$50 seems to be a reasonable deposit for a council race, but the amount should be higher -- maybe $450 for citywide races like mayor and auditor. Ditto for the number of signatures -- you should need nine times as many signatures to file for a citywide race as you do for a district race. The charter should set a higher initial fee and state that the filing fee can be modified by ordinance, but the new rates would be effective only after an intervening election.

The aim of a fee is to deter frivolous candidates from cluttering up the debate. If you really intend to win a race for mayor, you're going to have to raise a lot more than $450.

Click the "continue reading" link to find links to helpful essays on BatesLine, voter information from the Tulsa County Election Board, multimedia, and candidate questionnaires galore, all to help you as you get ready to vote (post-dated to remain at the top until polls close).

Mayor: Medlock

| | Comments (3) | TrackBacks (0)

This has been a hard piece for me to write, which is why it's only now being posted. My apologies.

I endorsed Chris Medlock for Mayor in 2006, but if you had told me 18 months ago that I'd be voting for Chris Medlock for Mayor in 2009, I'd have said you were nuts. The KFAQ morning show was breaking up. The changeover resulted in the end of the almost five-year-run of my weekly segment on the show. Far more importantly, it led ultimately to the end of a long-form talk show devoted to local politics and mobilizing listeners to "stand up for what's right." While there were other factors in the tumult, Chris Medlock was at the center of it, and if he had been more willing to defer to his co-host in matters of disagreement, he and Gwen Freeman might still be on the air in the mornings and a dear friend might still be in town.

It turns out that Medlock was right when he warned newly elected city councilors in 2006 about the futility of playing nice with Kathy Taylor, the Chamber, and other entrenched interest groups, as they learned when they came under attack as soon as they began to ask questions and dissent from Taylor's line. But the way he warned them alienated those who were his allies. If it were just a matter of issues, those councilors might be endorsing him this year.

So while I acknowledge the defects in Medlock which were apparent in those and other situations and which have grieved me personally, Medlock is still the best choice on the ballot, and I'm voting for him today.

Chris Medlock is the only Republican candidate who has been and is on the right side of the important issues facing our city, the only one seems to understand the complexity of the problems the city is facing and the solutions we need to pursue. The same stubbornness that has been a hindrance in many ways has also helped him persist against the resistance of entrenched special interests.

What are the alternatives? Only three candidates have held elective office before; only two -- Bartlett Jr and Medlock -- have raised more than $40,000. Only two -- Bartlett Jr and Medlock -- have shown a base of support bigger than family and close friends.

Dewey Bartlett Jr has been on the wrong side of too many issues in recent years -- supporting at-large councilors in order to strengthen the hold on city government that his fellow Money Belt trust-funders have had for too long and to dilute representation for the rest of us. He praised and voted for a Great Plains AIrlines lawsuit settlement that appears to have been intended to cover some important personage's posterior, a settlement that resulted in a property tax increase for ordinary Tulsa citizens who were not under any legal obligation to bail out the creditors of the failed airline. He praised and endorsed for re-election Mayor Kathy Taylor, who led us into a money pit of a new City Hall and put together a ballpark deal behind the scenes, without full public scrutiny, then vilified the councilors that objected and wanted more time to scrutinize the plan. Bartlett Jr liked her performance well enough to endorse her even before he knew which Republicans would seek to unseat her. We don't need more of Kathy Taylor's leadership style.

Bartlett Jr's campaign has been devoid of content, and he has dodged one-on-one debates with his leading opponent. That tactic might carry him through the primary, but it won't work in the general against a skilled opponent who has already beaten him once in 2004, a year that was extremely favorable to Republicans.

Dewey Bartlett Jr will lose to Tom Adelson just as he lost to Adelson in 2004. An informal survey of yardsigns in Bartlett Jr's home turf of Maple Ridge and Terwilliger Heights shows about three Adelson signs for every sign of Bartlett Jr's. Adelson doesn't face a serious primary contest, and yet his supporters feel far more passionate and energized to help him win. Bartlett Jr will win District 9 in the primary, but many of his midtown voters today will vote for Adelson in November, just as they turned from LaFortune to Taylor in 2006.

Despite his famous name and massive campaign fund, Bartlett hasn't garnered the endorsement of any of the six Republicans on the City Council.

Bartlett Jr has been selling himself as a successful conservative businessman who knows how to create jobs. To me, he seems more like someone was born on third and thinks he hit a triple. Tulsa doesn't need another mayor who thinks that because granddaddy made a killing on oil, he is therefore the epitome of wisdom on economic development. By his own lawyers' statement, "despite Dewey's best managerial efforts, there was no enhancement in the value of Dewey's inherited estate..." during a period that included one of the longest and strongest bull markets in American history. His claims of creating jobs aren't reflected in the head count of his company, which seems to have remained stable at around 10.

Anna Falling has no business running for office, not with pending claims and lawsuits against herself and against her flagship non-profit, Cornerstone Assistance Network. Anna Falling says she wants to honor God with a creation display at the zoo. If Falling wants to honor God, the first thing she should do is pay her creditors, not force them to seek garnishment and asset hearings. Most of us have had financial problems from time to time, but it takes a lot of neglect to let a debt wind up in court. She's raised about $9,000 in campaign contributions, $5,000 from her own father. If she had raised it for her non-profit instead of her campaign, she could have already paid back most of the money she owed, and her creditors wouldn't have the ongoing expense of pursuing repayment through the courts. I don't know what she really thinks she's doing by running for office, but -- unless there was a burning bush and a shepherd's staff that turns into a snake as signs to confirm some new revelation -- God didn't tell her to run for office. It doesn't honor God to say that God told her to neglect her obligations and run for office.

Nathaniel Booth is a smart young man who has apparently been paying no attention whatsoever to city politics. My kids are better informed than he is on current issues at City Hall. He is intelligent and well spoken, and some day he may be ready to run for public office. Today is not that day.

The rest of the bunch -- Norris Streetman, Kevin Boggs, David O'Connor, Paul Roales, Michael Tomes, John Todd, Michael Rush -- all seem to be well-intentioned, and the first three are serious about running for mayor, but as I listen to them, it's clear that none of them grasp the complexities of leading a city government for nearly 400,000 residents.

When people describe a problem and how they would solve it, you can quickly get a sense of how capable they are of dealing with ambiguity and uncertainty in decision-making. You can see whether they grasp a problem in all its complexity and can craft a solution that will address the problem without creating a dozen more. Someone may be intelligent and yet not have kind of quality.

These candidates all seem to be possessed of the-one-big-idea syndrome. Listening to them at candidate forums is like listening to the uncle who goes on and on about politics at family gatherings. There's always one big idea, one key, and if only those politicians would implement it, it would fix everything. One-big-idea thinking has given us a fad-driven approach to addressing our city's problems, where we slavishly follow the example of some other city, without really understanding how the solution interacted with that city's peculiar qualities and how things would be different with Tulsa's unique situation. Downtown is an obvious example -- the one-big-idea approach has done more harm than good.

As I look back through mymock mayoral manifesto, I see that Medlock is in agreement with most of it. Unlike Bartlett Jr, Medlock has clear views on city issues, views that weren't just cooked up by consultants for the campaign, but that have been developed over years of direct engagement in local politics, either as a councilor or a commentator.

For all his thorny qualities, Medlock has stayed married for 30 years, through good times and bad, to Cheryl, a strong, intelligent, and likable woman. That's no easy feat, and it's to his credit (and hers, too) that they've managed it.

Comparing the 2006 campaign to the 2009 campaign shows some positive growth on Medlock's part. In 2006, he tried to run the whole thing himself and had a hard time letting go of the details. I haven't been involved in the 2009 campaign, but I've visited his headquarters, met Howie Morgan, his campaign manager, and talked with friends who have volunteered. This time around, it appears that Medlock has been able to leave the details of the campaign in the hands of Morgan and the other professionals and has focused his time and attention on the campaigning that only the candidate can do. The campaign seems to be much stronger than 2009, but it also has a bigger hill to climb -- a candidate with a quarter of a million bucks and a famous name.

Medlock is the only viable Republican candidate that offers a real contrast to the presumptive Democratic nominee Tom Adelson. An Adelson vs. Bartlett Jr race would be a battle between two residents of the Money Belt; Adelson vs. Medlock would give Tulsans the option of a mayor who grew up in the middle class, didn't have a trust fund, and doesn't live within a mile of Utica Square or belong to Southern Hills. Adelson vs. Bartlett Jr would be a yawner between two candidates who liked Kathy Taylor's tenure enough to support her re-election. Adelson vs. Medlock would give us a debate over whether to continue along the downward path of the last 20 years (and beyond) or to start in a new direction.

If elected, Medlock will have some fences to mend and some new leaves to turn over if he wants to be effective at leading the city. Still, Chris Medlock is the only Republican candidate with the intelligence and analytical ability needed to lead the city and the principles of governance to help him to lead it in the right direction. That's why I'm voting for Chris Medlock.

UPDATE 2009/11/08: I retract my previous retraction. I'm endorsing Preston Doerflinger for City Auditor. I am sorry that it has taken me this long to write about it here. (I don't retract my statements about his political consultants.)

UPDATE 2009/09/08: I just heard City Council candidate Chris Trail's radio ad unfairly attacking Bill Martinson. I'm sorry, but I can't vote for anyone who is a client of Karl Ahlgren or Fount Holland, as once again they are unfairly attacking an honest, intelligent public official at the behest of a deep-pockets client, just as they trashed DA Tim Harris in 2004. You may have also seen their mailer on behalf of Dewey Bartlett Jr, perpetrating a last-minute smear against Chris Medlock, lying by saying that he has lied about his opponents in previous campaigns. If Tom Coburn is paying attention to what his erstwhile staffers are up to, I'm sure he's disgusted. If Doerflinger makes it through the primary, he'll have to fire Ahlgren to convince me that he's worthy of my vote against Phil Wood.

There are two Republican candidates for Tulsa city auditor, seeking to challenge 21-year incumbent Phil Wood.

Preston Doerflinger, a young business owner, has run a very visible campaign, hitting all the candidate forums and raising and spending a ton of money, and evidently using the same campaign team as Dewey Bartlett Jr and Chris Trail.

Lynn Ruemler, a retired CPA, has filled out a few questionnaires but otherwise has not been out on the campaign trail.

Based on a Tulsa World story, it appears that both candidates share my dissatisfaction with the incumbent's level of assertiveness:

Ruemler, 52, said he was running because of his disappointment in how the Auditor's Office has handled a City Council-directed investigation into falsified firefighter-training records.

"It was like a burr under my saddle. I thought, 'I can do so much better than that and the city deserves so much better than that,'" he said.

That issue, coupled with the announcement that all city employees would be furloughed for eight days, solidified his decision, Ruemler said. "I thought, 'We need to watch every penny we spend,'" he said. ...

Doerflinger said he doesn't agree with the way Wood has defined the auditor's role. It should be more active in helping the city to operate more efficiently, he said.

"I think we really need someone that takes on a watchdog role versus the current caretaker approach," he said.

"I've read how Wood said it shouldn't be about political grandstanding, but to me it's not political grandstanding if you find issues in areas that are going to save taxpayers money," he said.

"If you can't get policymakers to take actions on your findings, then I think you should be standing on your head until someone pays attention," he said.

I have not had the opportunity to speak at length with Doerflinger, although we had a good conversation shortly after the filing period. People I know and trust who have spoken with him at length speak highly of him. Through them I learn that the many out-of-Tulsa donations come from friends of his. (For the auditor's office, it might not be a bad thing for campaign cash to come from out of town -- perhaps less of a chance that a local city contractor might try to influence the election.) Also secondhand, I learn that his donations to Democratic Congressman Dan Boren have to do for some help the congressman's office provided to his family. (I don't recall the details.)

As a CPA, Ruemler would seem to have more directly applicable experience for the auditor's job, but he did not respond to a set of questions I sent him.

Doerflinger could have been the subject of another entry in the BatesLine candidate background check series, but I only thought to look yesterday. An OSCN search turns up multiple speeding tickets and driving under a suspended license along with a divorce. Checking the non-OCIS database turns up even more traffic violations. But the speeding tickets seem to end in 2001, which may indicate that he turned over a new leaf at that time.

(If you're going to be a reckless driver, better to be named John Smith than Preston Doerflinger.)

I'm hopeful that Doerflinger will explain the situation with the speeding tickets. In the meantime, I'm voting for him, as he actually seems to want the job. If we want to have a shot at defeating a long-time incumbent -- a good man, but not as assertive as the auditor needs to be -- we'll need someone who really wants the job and is willing and able to campaign hard.

The 2009 District 8 race

| | TrackBacks (1)

District 8 is a tough race for me.

During his seven years on the City Council, Bill Christiansen has disappointed me over and over again.

Early on, he worked to undermine and oppose some positive initiatives from my reform friends on the Council -- for example, the future growth task force that Joe Williams and Chris Medlock proposed in 2003. At the same time, he was one of the first councilors to push the City Council's role in setting fiscal policy for city government and exercising oversight over the executive branch.

Too often he has staked out a good position on an issue, only to back down when it really mattered. The City Hall move is an excellent example. Right before the meeting he came up to me to say what a rotten deal it was, but he voted for it anyway. On the ballpark assessment district, he voted for it in 2008, but then voted against the assessment roll in 2009.

He has improved in recent years. He worked with former Street Commissioner Jim Hewgley III to try to develop a maintenance-heavy street repair package -- the Baby Bear plan. I had my doubts about whether he would remain opposed to the South Tulsa bridge, since some who backed his start in politics supported it (notably former Tulsa City Councilor, now Bixby resident, John Benjamin), Christiansen has been steadfast on the issue.

Christiansen's work on the bridge issue seems to have made him more sympathetic to concerns of homeowners regarding new development. He put together a Land Use Education and Communication task force. The task force recommendations are aimed at making the rules understandable and providing better web access to information on new development to help public awareness. There are some great ideas here, but as they would arm citizens with more timely information, I am sure that some old-guard development industry types are unhappy about it. I've heard speculation that this task force is one of the reasons that the establishment has abandoned Christiansen and is instead backing Phil Lakin.

You can tell he's been abandoned by the establishment just by looking at the photos of him used by the Tulsa World

Here's Christiansen's photo when he ran for re-election in 2004. The Whirled endorsed him that year.

Here's his photo in a story from last month. I'm surprised they didn't draw horns on his head and steam coming out of his ears.

And that abandonment by the establishment is the main reason why, if I lived in District 8, I would vote for Bill Christiansen. It takes some people longer than others to learn the lesson, but once you've been burned by the local oligarchy, it's a lesson you don't forget.

We don't need two city councilors from District 9. That's what the backers of at-large seats on the City Council were after. Even if Phil Lakin doesn't live in District 9, that's evidently where his friends are and where his treasure is (and where your treasure is there will your heart be also). (District 9 had two councilors geographically during Randy Sullivan's last term as the purported District 7 representative.)

Back in July, I had breakfast with Lakin and Jeff Stava, CEO and COO of Tulsa Community Foundation respectively and the runner up for the District 9 City Council in 2006. Lakin and Stava were anxious to talk to me about all the good work that TCF does for the Tulsa area -- to which I am glad to stipulate.

I asked about the idea of using foundation money as leverage on government spending. They were emphatic that it's never TCF driving public money to be spent in a direction that it would not have otherwise been spent; they simply provide assistance to help city officials complete desired projects. Regarding the ballpark, they said the timeline for the ballpark was driven by city officials, and that TCF simply provided a vehicle for donors to give to the ballpark. (But were the donors themselves -- the individuals and foundations giving money to TCF for the ballpark -- driving the policy decisions? That's a different matter, perhaps.)

The problem with the ballpark process is that the arrangements were made in secret and presented to the City Council as a done deal. The Council should have rejected the deal for that reason alone. What was particularly offensive was that the "ballpark" effort was expanded to include acquisition of property around the ballpark. That ultimately meant that a small developer like Will Wilkins -- someone willing to develop a piece of TDA-owned property that no one else seemed to want -- was shoved aside. A good stadium could have been built for the money given by the private donors plus the $5 million from the Drillers' lease payments. The assessment, forced on every property owner within the IDL, is effectively there to give the stadium trust (headed by the donors) the money to play Monopoly with the Brady District. (My column from August 6, 2008, gives a timeline of what I called the Control Freaks' Squeeze Play.)

If that approach was truly driven by Mayor Taylor and her allies on the City Council, TCF officials should have refused to play ball. If I were donating large sums to the city, I would want to ensure that the process of deciding how the money is to be used was transparent and public.

When I asked Lakin about why he was running for City Council, he talked about infighting and bickering between council and mayor and between city and county. He seemed to blame the councilors for the mayor keeping them in the dark.

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.

I'm pleased that Lakin has expressed appreciation for Bill Martinson's analysis of the budget situation and the attention Martinson has brought to the proportion of the general fund used by the public safety departments. I'm certainly disappointed in Christiansen's failure to back Martinson on that issue, but I'm wondering where Lakin was when the issue was being debated by the City Council back in June. I don't recall him speaking out, as a concerned citizen, to support Martinson's budget and oppose Mayor Taylor's plan.

Lakin's reason might be that as a head of a non-profit it wouldn't have been his place to get involved publicly in a political battle. If that's so, how can he be a city councilor and remain as head of TCF?

The third candidate in the District 8 race is Scott Grizzle. I've worked with Scott for three or four years on the TulsaNow board of directors. He's tech savvy and very interested in urban planning. He got into this race pretty late in the game, and with an incumbent and a challenger with the kind of money that usually only a District 9 incumbent can raise, it's been tough for him to get the attention of the media and the public. Pat Campbell left him out of a candidate debate between Christiansen and Lakin, although he was given some time on the air the following day. Scott is unlikely to prevail tomorrow, and as there is no runoff, voters need to conduct their own runoff and vote for one of the top two candidates if the other top candidate is unacceptable to them. I'm sure this has been a valuable and eye-opening experience for Scott, as my first run was for me back in 1998.


KWGS / Downtown Kiwanis District 8 debate
Bill Christiansen and Phil Lakin on the Pat Campbell Show
Scott Grizzle on the Pat Campbell Show

(Once again -- it's nice that these media outlets are interested in a council primary, but there's a mayoral primary, too. You'd think one of them could have arranged a head to head debate amongst the leading candidates.)

MORE: Tom Neal is "not taken with Lakin":

Concerning [the Tulsa World's] endorsement of Phil Lakin for the City Council, my former employer matched donations. So I gave to a local group through the Tulsa Community Foundation to capture that match and get another match specific to the foundation. Karen Davis, a senior program officer there, said prior that there would be no problem.

But for more than nine months I received notices that the locals had not received any donation. I made multiple calls to the charity and to the foundation to clear up this mess.

During this ordeal, I left a complaint on Davis' voicemail. You would think that a CEO would find out whether his organization was in error. Phil Lakin did not. I received a furious and abusive voice mail from Lakin, specifically threatening me with legal retaliation if I continued to complain about his group's screw-up.

Finally one remarkable staffer dug and found out that my gift did go to the local group but under others' names.

Maybe Lakin has great people skills if you're a billionaire. I have no doubt he'll represent well Tulsa's most influential.

But the mark of a man is not how he treats the most powerful but rather how he treats those with the least. Best choice for district 8? I don't think so.

From Rocky Frisco's Tulsa Metro Chamber questionnaire. Nail, meet hammerhead.

The more the city government has tried to "develop" the downtown, the worse it has become. I firmly believe that if had been allowed to develop naturally, without all the wild ideas for "development," it would still be an exciting, successful part of the city. I would like to see the city government stop meddling with the downtown area, re-synchronize the traffic lights and stop killing the area with excessive revenue generation based on parking tickets, fees and fines. The first fatal blow was the loss of the Ritz, Orpheum, Majestic and Rialto Theaters; the second was the ill-advised "Downtown Mall." It has gone downhill from there. The time to stop "fixing" a thing, even when it's broken, is when every attempt to fix it breaks it worse.

See my May 13, 2009, column for the 53-year-long list of attempted fixes and Downtown Tulsa Unlimited's role in promoting same.

RELATED: I have received a tip that the Tulsa Metro Chamber is seeking to take over DTU's former role handling downtown marketing in exchange for a share of the cash from the Tulsa Stadium Improvement District assessment. I was unable to find an RFP online, but if this treated as a personal services contract the City may be able to award the contract without a bid process. It should still, however, come through the City Council. The tipster speculated that the Chamber is trying to push this through quietly, before the advent of a new Mayor and City Council that may not be as friendly.

A couple of years ago, on April 11, 2007, I sat down at the Village Inn with Tulsa rock and roll pioneer Rocky Frisco and recorded a leisurely conversation with him. I am a lousy interviewer, but Rocky is a great interview subject. It didn't take much prompting to get him to tell some fascinating stories about his upbringing, Tulsa schools in the '40s, Tulsa music in the '50s, his bicycle ride to Fort Hood, Texas, to interview Elvis and his views on matters political and spiritual.

For quite some time, I've intended either to transcribe the interview or to edit and upload the audio. At long last, I've started working on the audio, and I have the first 15 minute segment ready to go. In this segment, Rocky talks about how he got started with rock and roll, winning contests at the Sheri-Bob Dance Studios, Gene Crose and his band, Flash Terry, the Flamingo Lounge, and the Greenwood music scene of the late '50s, and the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame and the tribute they put together for Carl Radle. (Other topics and names dropped in this discussion: Liquor-by-the-wink in 1950s Oklahoma, the contrast between the music business then and now, Leo Feathers, Brooks and Dunn.)

Rocky has the beginnings of a website on the Tulsa Sound, where he mentions some of the same history and quotes JJ Cale:

According to John "JJ" Cale, "There isn't really any Tulsa Sound; we were just trying to play the blues and didn't know how, so that's what we came up with." We played what we knew, so it was a mixture of Western Swing, Country, Blues, Gospel and Popular Music, which ranged from ballads to marching bands.

(If you only see a 30 sec. excerpt, click the "Play full song here" link.)

A Conversation with Rocky Frisco, April 11, 2007 - Rocky Frisco with Michael Bates

It took me too long to upload this file successfully, but here it is, coughs, sneezes, rumbles, and all.

Audio from the League of Women Voters candidate forum, held on September 1, 2009, at Fellowship Congregational Church. All four candidates -- Democrats Maria Barnes and Elizabeth Wright, Republicans Rocky Frisco and Eric Gomez -- participated in the forum. I came in late, so I didn't catch the opening statements. Here is a very partial index of the questions that were addressed and the approximate time (rounded down/earlier, so if you go to that point in the recording and keep listening, you'll hear all the responses). If you find moments that you'd like to highlight, feel free to post a timestamp and description in the comments.

0 min - City Hall move
4 min - Ozone
10 min - City employees in campaigns
11 min - SLAPP
15 min - Ballpark assessment
18 min - Creek nation placing land in trust for south Tulsa bridge
22 min - animosity from City Council
25 min - ballot access for third-parties
27 min - revitalization for Admiral and 11th
32 min - as councilor, what course of action when advised of proposed development
37 min - Do you work well with others on committees?
41 min - Was PLANiTULSA survey representative?

Tulsa City Council District 4 Forum, 2009/09/01 - League of Women Voters

Steven Roemerman has a couple of new entries about local elections worth your attention.

He follows up on a question that a talk show host asked him when he called in to express his support for Chris Medlock: "Do you really think Medlock can beat Tom Adelson?" Roemerman answers that question by posing and answering four more questions (my paraphrase):

1. Can Medlock beat a millionaire? Should I vote for Bartlett Jr just because he has more financial resources to use against Tom Adelson? Roemerman's conclusion: If Medlock can beat millionaire Bartlett Jr, he can beat millionaire Tom Adelson, too.

2. Should a voter pick a less preferred candidate that is closer ideologically to the likely Democratic opponent "because it might somehow curry favor with those in the middle or with undecided voters?" Roemerman asks, "How well did that line of thinking work out for us in the last presidential election?"

3. "From where I sit, Adelson and Bartlett Jr are not that much different. Given that Adelson has already beat Bartlett once before in the race for State Senate, what makes you think that given the choice between the two, voters won't make the same choice again?"

In 2004, the year in which George W. Bush swept all 77 counties of Oklahoma, Bush also won the vote in Senate District 33, but Bartlett lost a head-to-head contest with Adelson.

In the 2004 State Senate 33 race, Bartlett had the best coattails a Republican could hope for. Bush won by 8 percentage points in the district, but Bartlett fell short by 3 percentage points.

Bartlett Jr has been able to dodge a real head-to-head debate so far because of the large number of Republican candidates. (It's funny, though -- KFAQ felt comfortable holding a District 8 debate between the two leading contenders and leaving out someone who didn't raise a significant amount of money, but they wouldn't make the same distinction for the mayor's race.) He's avoided putting his policy positions out for public examination, something that Joe Kelley called him on. As a major party nominee, he wouldn't have that luxury in the general election.

I don't know that any of the Republican candidates can beat Adelson, but I'm certain that Bartlett Jr can't. Adelson has a toughness that Bartlett Jr evidently lacks, given the way his campaign team has cushioned him with gauzy generalities.

4. Roemerman wonders about Bartlett Jr's decision to seal the public records of his divorce, when the result was to elevate public awareness of his divorce and bring readers to this website. (My visit count yesterday, after the story in the Tulsa World, was about 50% more than usual on a Saturday, and that on a long holiday weekend.) "Why not just leave it alone?" Roemerman asks.

Roemerman also has the text of anonymous flyer to south Tulsa voters concerned about the ongoing possibility of a bridge across the Arkansas River connecting to Tulsa at Yale Ave. The flyer reminds that Dewey Bartlett Jr was on the turnpike authority and claims that he "never met a tollbooth he didn't like. (Surprisingly, the flyer doesn't mention Bartlett Jr's support for turning the Broken Arrow Expressway into a toll road.)

The flyer also reminds voters that of the eight endorsements that Bartlett touts, two are residents of Bixby and Jenks, communities that would experience retail growth at the expense of Tulsa if the bridge is built. (Two more of the eight are residents of Sapulpa and Kellyville, respectively.)

The concluding thought from the anonymous south Tulsa flyer:


(St. James refers to the south Tulsa church where the South Tulsa Citizens' Coalition gathered to mobiiize against the original Tulsa County Commission / IVI toll bridge plan.)

A new website called DefeatGomez.com takes issue with District 4 Councilor Eric Gomez's claims of achievement and attacks his defense of his failure to notify neighbors about the 10 N. Yale mental health facility and his claim that there was nothing the City Council could do. They also highlight an interesting statistic from Gomez's contributions report -- he raised $3,750 from BOK PAC, BOK Chairman George Kaiser, and several attorneys of the Dorwart law firm, which represents BOK. This may be connected to his steadfast support of the downtown ballpark and his steadfast defense of the assessment district.

Finally, while candidates have discovered social media, I suspect only a few candidates are actually doing their own updates. I am certain that Democratic mayoral candidate Robert Gwin Jr. is doing his own Twitter updates and showing a certain resilience. What was a source of puzzlement on Friday:

according to the NRA PVF website ‚I have a F rating ‚not sure why

on Saturday became a point of pride:

the NRA PVF website endorsed adelson for Mayor of Tulsa with an A rating is he really a democrati? i got a F rating vote for me gwin/ mayor

Poll comparison

| | Comments (1) | TrackBacks (0)

This morning the Tulsa World finally got around to publishing the poll it commissioned from SoonerPoll.com. I say "finally got around" because polling was completed on September 1, five days ago.

It seems to me that if you're in the business of news, and you have a newsworthy story, you would want to publish it as soon as possible.

It shouldn't take a pollster more than an hour to turn survey results into a top-line number -- percentages for each candidate. It shouldn't take more than a day to generate cross-tabs -- breakdowns of results by demographic groups.

It also seems to me that one week out is an odd time to take a poll, particularly your very first. A poll right after the filing period would give readers an idea of the shape of the race at its beginning -- how big is each candidate's base of support. A poll taken the day before the vote provides a fair test of the pollster's accuracy -- something that can be directly compared to the result of the election.

A poll at one week out doesn't capture any shifting that may happen as a result of the last week of campaigning, as more commercials hit the airwaves, as mailers hit mailboxes, and as voters finally begin to focus on the election. A one-week poll would only be useful if there were an earlier public poll to which it could be compared, as a measure of momentum.

It's interesting to compare it to the Tulsa World's 2006 pre-primary poll. It was taken 9-11 days, slightly more than one week, before the election, but the results weren't released until five days after the poll was complete. This year the poll was taken closer to the election, but with just as much of a gap between completion and publication.

In 2006, the sample size was 500 for each party primary. In 2009, it was cut to 300 for each, increasing the margin of error. There's a reference in the 2009 story that hints at other questions being asked and crosstabs by ideology, but the details weren't provided to the reader.

In 2006 results were provided to the tenth of a percentage point. In 2009 the results presented to the reader were rounded to the nearest whole percentage point. That's a minor point, perhaps, but it still adds to the downgrade in the quality and detail of the information being presented to the reader.

The 2006 poll showed Medlock with 18.8%. His result on election day was 34.1%. That doesn't mean the 2006 poll was wrong, just that it couldn't measure the impact of the final week of mailers and commercials.


Just noticed: While past polls were co-sponsored by KOTV, this poll appears to be solely sponsored by the Tulsa World.

A reader points out that the story on the poll did not disclose the methodology used to determine whether or not a respondent was likely to vote and did not note whether respondents were given a list of names before being asked their preference. And, for what it's worth, the reader also notes that the pollster, Oklahoma City-based Bill Shapard Jr., lists himself on his Facebook profile as a supporter of Dewey Bartlett for Mayor.

Also, Medlock campaign manager Howie Morgan sent out an e-mail reacting to the poll:

This past Tuesday our radio ads hit the air. Also on Tuesday we had our TV ads all over Fox News, CNN, ESPN, HGTV, Lifetime, as well as the local news channels. You have likely seen them over and over all weekend. In those ads Chris pledges to Tulsa voters how Chris Medlock will end the wasteful spending in City Hall and get back to the basics of fixing our streets and fighting crime. His priorities will be in favor of your family budget instead of trying to take more taxes out of your wallet by changing the Broken Arrow Expressway into a Toll Road. And boy did those ads work! Our phones have been going off the hook, our website traffic has tripled, and people are disgusted when they found out that Dewey Bartlett, Jr. is just another tax and spend RINO who wants to take his past history on the Oklahoma Turnpike Board and add one more toll road that taxes Tulsa. We love those ads on TV and radio. If you have not heard them yet, click here to watch and listen to them. (I like the funny radio ad the best.)

Unfortunately for us, the Tulsa World did their poll on this race in the days just before our ads hit the air. So unless 30,000 voters were clairvoyant in knowing about Chris and the election for Tulsa Mayor, there is no way they even knew Chris was running.

Yes, I know you know. But the average voter did not until our ads hit the airwaves.

So when the Tulsa World did their polling last week (on a Sunday? what is that?) we are pretty sure that no one in the general public knew about Chris Medlock and where he stood on the issues.

They have now joined you as an informed voter, and they now know the real story about Dewey, Jr. and his RINO status. So please take that into account when you see the Tulsa World poll today. Their numbers are a snapshot in history, but that history is tainted with $150,000 of 4 weeks of Dewey, Jr. ads and not one TV or radio ad from Chris Medlock until after the poll.

OSU journalism prof Joey Senat, writing on the blog of FOI Oklahoma, an organization that promotes open meetings, open records, and government transparency, chides mayoral candidate Dewey Bartlett Jr for having public records pertaining to his divorce sealed shortly after pledging himself to transparency in government.

Bartlett's request came a day or so after FOI Oklahoma Inc. received his signed Open Government Pledge "to support at every opportunity the public policy of the State of Oklahoma that the people are vested with the inherent right to know and be fully informed about their government so that they can efficiently and intelligently exercise their inherent political power."

Note to Mr. Bartlett: Sealing court records isn't supporting the public's right to know.

Senat calls Bartlett's argument for closure -- fear of identity theft -- "specious."

"Those fears aren't backed up with statistics or even anecdotal evidence showing public records are a source for identity thieves," [Oklahoman]reporter Bryan Dean summarized.

Public records were not listed as a significant source of identity theft by the 2006 Identity Fraud Survey Report co-released by the Better Business Bureau. It said 30 percent of identity theft came from stolen wallets or purses, 15 percent from close associates such as friends and family, 9 percent from stolen mail and garbage, and 9 percent from computer hacking.

Senat explains why Bartlett Jr's divorce case should remain open to public scrutiny:

First, the public is entitled to make the most informed choice possible when selecting who will operate its government. Divorce files, like many other court records, can provide valuable information about a candidate....

Second, if Bartlett's records in the public court system are closed, why not seal everyone's files?

Because the information in those court files can help each of us make more informed life-affecting decisions. Choosing a business partner? Hiring an employee? Selecting a doctor, baby-sitter or day-care provider for your child? Concerned about your daughter's new boyfriend? Etc.

Personal information in government-held records can help us make better decisions about the people and events most important in our lives....

Third, access to court records assures the public that everyone is treated equally in our judicial system and that decisions aren't "based on secret bias or partiality" - as the U.S. Supreme Court said in defense of open courts.

"Closed trials breed suspicion of prejudice and arbitrariness, which in turn spawns disrespect for law," the Court said. The same can be said for court records sealed from public view.

That last point seems especially important in this case. Dewey Jr's own pleadings in the case speak of significant economic inequality between him and his then-wife Susan. Dewey Jr had considerable wealth in accounts to which he was sole signatory. According to his May 16, 2003, motion for summary judgment and attached affidavit, his wife did not work outside the home, did not bring assets into the marriage, and received a $2,000 monthly allowance from Dewey Jr. He estimated the value of her separate assets as of October 2002 as 1% of his -- $2,830,500 to $27,500.

Closing court records in a case would make it possible to conceal a perversion of justice in favor of those with wealth. An open court record allows the public to judge the judge and weigh his fairness in the balance at the next election.

Finally, Senat addresses the problem with Bartlett's distinction between "legitimate media" and political bloggers (emphasis added):

Bartlett told the Tulsa World he would be "glad for any member of the legitimate media to have total access" to his divorce file. If elected mayor, would he restrict access to other government documents only to the "legitimate media"? Will he be the one to decide who is a member of the "legitimate media"?

The public's right to know belongs to the public. That means everyone, including political bloggers.

Signing the Open Pledge is a promise to support the spirit of open government - even when it inconveniences the candidate.

Thanks to Dr. Joey Senat for the thoughtful analysis and careful reasoning and to FOI Oklahoma for defending government transparency.

Welcome, new readers! Click this link to read the blog article in question regarding Dewey Bartlett Jr's divorce filings and what his own side's assertions tell us about his financial acumen. Did Bartlett Jr fairly characterize what I posted? Read the article and the accompanying documents for yourself and draw your own conclusions. Then read my response to Bartlett Jr below.

On Thursday, September 3, 2009, at about 2:45 pm Tulsa mayoral candidate Dewey Bartlett Jr filed an application to seal the record of his 2002 divorce case against his first wife. The order was handed down at 3:09 pm, signed and entered by Judge Rodney B. Sparkman at 4:25 pm.

Part of the record -- the trial transcript from January 2004 -- was already under seal. From the docket report, it appears that this seal was placed in September 2004, when Bartlett was running against Tom Adelson for the open State Senate District 33 seat.

Yesterday (September 4, 2009) afternoon at about 4 pm, I received a call from Tulsa World reporter Brian Barber, who informed me about the seal and about Bartlett's comments and asked me for my reaction. My response was fairly reported in the story by Brian Barber and Bill Braun in this morning's edition.

Dewey Bartlett Jr doesn't seem to have looked at what I posted, as what he and his attorneys are saying about that information is not accurate. Let's take his claims point by point:

"I have no desire to hide anything from public record," Bartlett told the Tulsa World, but he called the bloggers' actions irresponsible. "I am glad for any member of the legitimate media to have total access to that information."

The first statement seems to be contradicted by his action on Thursday, asking a judge to block the public record of his divorce from public scrutiny, and by his decision in 2002 to style the case using his and his wife's first initials rather than their full names, making the case more difficult for the public to locate.

Secondly, there's only one blogger who has posted anything from the public record of his divorce. That would be me, and I feel I was very responsible and selective as to what I posted. There was far more material that I viewed but decided not to post because it was irrelevant to what in my judgment were the newsworthy aspects of the file.

Third, his use of the term "legitimate media" should alarm Tulsa media outlets of every type. The phrase suggests that only he should get to choose which outlets he considers legitimate and should have "total access to that information." I would hope that organizations like Media Bloggers Association and Freedom of Information Oklahoma would recognize this kind of talk as disrespect for, if not an actual threat to, public access to public records and freedom of the press for all Americans, not just for "officially approved" media outlets.

Now for the next statement in need of correction:

The application for an order to immediately seal the record, filed by Bartlett's attorneys, states that "the file contains sensitive personal financial information such as account numbers, which are being publicly disseminated on the Internet by certain persons who post political blogs."

As far as I can determine via search engines, BatesLine is the only website or blog on which information about Bartlett Jr's divorce has been posted.

Furthermore, the information I posted did NOT contain any account numbers or any other sensitive personal financial information. As I mentioned in the entry, I was careful to redact three bank account numbers which appeared on a single page of the original document. No other sensitive identifying information appeared anywhere in the documents that I posted. (For example, I did not see any Social Security IDs or driver's license numbers anywhere in the documents I examined, much less in the documents I posted.)

As for the sensitivity of the financial information, Bartlett Jr's May 16, 2003, motion for summary judgment contains information about transactions that all occurred at least seven years ago. Most of these transactions involve real estate that he no longer owns, a trust that has been distributed, and a company that has been liquidated. The filing contains the names of companies in which he had (in December 2002) an ownership interest, and to the extent that he, a candidate for mayor, is still invested in these companies, it is a matter of public interest.

Most of the 18-page main body of Bartlett Jr's motion for summary judgment is devoted to a brief that cites other divorce cases as precedent for Bartlett Jr's claims of separate vs. marital property. There isn't any personal information about Bartlett Jr in that part of the brief, but those citations of earlier cases do highlight the public importance of a given divorce case beyond the public matter of the dissolution of a single marriage. Precedent plays a central role in our legal system, and the facts of a case and the decision rendered by the judge in that case are fodder for attorneys' arguments in future cases.

Bartlett's next claim:

But there is a difference between government records and personal records that contain sensitive financial information, not just about his family, but former and current business partners, as well, [Bartlett Jr] said.

"I was quite disturbed to find all of that was being disseminated on the Web," Bartlett said.

"Ninety-nine percent of our fellow citizens are honest and good people. It's that 1 percent that I didn't want to give the opportunity to unfairly use that information to help themselves and hurt a lot of others."

The only former partner mentioned in these documents is his first wife. The companies mentioned are Keener Oil Company (KOC), the Bartlett family business which was "essentially liquidated" "in the first six months of 1994"; Keener Oil and Gas Company, the business that Bartlett Jr founded around the same time; Sage Properties Ltd., a real estate lot development partnership in which he was invested; and Lumen Oil Co., a company acquired by KOC, shares of which were received by Bartlett Jr and other KOC shareholders. Lumen and Sage don't appear to have a presence on the web, if indeed they still exist. The documents I posted don't even identify the states in which these entities were incorporated. There are, in what I posted, generic references to different sorts of investment accounts and financial institutions, but nothing that identifies specific account numbers or any other identifying information that could be used in identity theft.

While there may be good cause to seal some documents in the file or to redact bits of information from some pages of some documents because of the presence of account numbers and other identifying information, the reported claim by Bartlett Jr and his attorneys that "bloggers" have posted such sensitive identifying information on the Internet or disseminated that information in any way is false. Bartlett Jr is indirectly accusing me of doing something that I did not do. Had he looked at the information I posted, that would have been blindingly obvious.

Some of the information I posted may well be embarrassing to Bartlett Jr, to the extent that it may contradict the image of successful businessman and job creator that has been set forth in the marketing of his candidacy. But what I posted doesn't fit the false picture that Bartlett Jr and his attorneys have painted.

MORE: The World story mentions that Bartlett is one of several candidates who signed FOI Oklahoma's transparency pledge. Medlock for Mayor campaign manager Howie Morgan e-mailed in response:

If Dewey signed the FOI pledge, he did it in the last 2 days. His name was not on the list when I looked at their page on Thursday Sept. 3. And they put us on the web within an hour of our signing.

September 3 is the date that Bartlett Jr applied to have his divorce case sealed.

As long-time readers are no doubt aware, I was not a fan of Bill Martinson's when he first sought and was elected to the Tulsa City Council. Martinson replaced Sam Roop in District 5 after Mayor Bill LaFortune hired Roop as his chief information officer. Martinson was the candidate of the bunch that was trying to break up the Gang of Five, the Cockroach Caucus that wanted to deflect attention from Great Plains Airlines mess and to grease the tracks for long-term water deals to fuel suburban growth. The same bunch targeted two members of the reform alliance for recall.

Martinson won a seven-candidate special election, an election with no primary or runoff, with just under 29% of the vote and by a margin of only 11 votes over his nearest rival. His re-election bid a year later against Jon Kirby was close enough to result in a lengthy court case.

During his first year or so on the council, he seemed to fall in line more often than not in opposition to the reformers. His persistence in opposing the Tulsa Hills TIF, even after his stablemates (Bill Christiansen, Randy Sullivan, Tom Baker, and Susan Neal) dropped their objections, was a surprise, but looking back he was only doing then what he has done more recently on the City Hall deal, the downtown ballpark deal, and the budget -- asking for more time to analyze the numbers.

In February 2006, he was, however, part of the 6-2 majority in support of a one-year moratorium on the use of eminent domain for private redevelopment. The reform councilor who proposed that moratorium -- some guy named Medlock -- told me not to pigeonhole Bill Martinson as a good ol' boy. Martinson had an inquisitive, analytical bent. He wasn't going to be just another rubber stamp for the establishment. Medlock was right.

Over the last two or three years, I've found more and more to appreciate about Bill Martinson's service on the City Council. His analytical strengths as a CPA emerged in a March 2007 presentation called "Municipal Revenues and Fiscal Constraints", which explained how city finances were being squeezed on the one side by rising personnel costs (and even then identifying growing public safety budgets as a concern) and on the other side by revenue constraints, including county government's emerging use of sales tax as a revenue source. Martinson understood the significance of fairgrounds annexation to city finances, marshaled the financial case in favor of it, and supported it consistently.

Martinson made a thorough analysis of the data provided by the Staubach Group about moving City Hall to One Technology Center, drawing on his experience in the commercial real estate industry, and his hard work informed my commentary on the proposed move. In the end, unfortunately, Martinson, like 7 of his 8 colleagues, couldn't muster the gumption to oppose the parade of the great and the good that Kathy Taylor assembled to speak in support of the Borg Cube.

But I think that's the last time I've seen Bill Martinson blink on anything. On the ballpark assessment district, the streets package, and now on the budget, Martinson has been willing to let the data drive his decision making, regardless of the political pressure to deny reality. And he hasn't shied away from calling some very powerful people and institutions on their BS. Here are a couple of examples:

From May 2008, Martinson's response to a letter from Tulsa Metro Chamber leadership cautioning the City Council on moving forward with a streets package without the Chamber's approval:

Martinson responded the following day with a verbal smackdown, calling the Chamber's letter "offensive and disturbing."

Martinson wrote that the letter "conveyed a serious lack of understanding as to the development and status" of the Council's streets proposal, which spanned eight months and included "more than two dozen fact finding meetings" and "town hall meetings for all districts." "You and your staff were welcome to attend, and had you done so, I believe you would have found the meetings most informative.

"Your contempt for Tulsa's City Council was apparent in your comments. To assume that the Council and City staff would advance an initiative of this magnitude to the voters and ignore fundamental due diligence and statutory requirements is arrogant and absurd."

Martinson pointed out the "appalling level of ignorance" revealed in the letter, attaching two pages from the 2006 Third Penny sales tax proposal with big arrows drawn in to point to the $4.8 million set aside for replacement of the Boulder Ave. bridge....

"I must admit that I found your comment about [return on investment] on campaigns rather amusing considering your recent track record. Your temerity to condescend to the Council on voter behavior, when by definition, each City Councilor has a better record with the voters than the Chamber, again demonstrates an incredible level of arrogance."...

"You may consider it a novel approach, but I would rather tell the citizens the truth and let them decide rather than attempting to manipulate the outcome."...

"The Chamber appears fixated on glamour and glitz to enhance economic development."

From January 2009, when the editorial writers at the Tulsa World scolded the City Council for expecting to be involved in prioritizing the city's request for federal stimulus money:

"The mayor's hiding behind the skirts of the Tulsa World editorial board and has for some time," [Martinson] said. "I can tell you the Tulsa World editorial board does absolutely minimal research, if any research, on any topic that they write on."

Now Martinson has a target on his back because he dared to point out that Tulsa is spending more than our 2% general revenue sales tax to run only the police and fire departments, and that despite their growing share of the budget, the number of officers hasn't grown. In a letter to the FOP, Martinson wrote:

As I stated to both Chief LaCroix and Chief Palmer on Thursday night, my intent was not to attack, but rather to prepare both departments for a drastic decline in funding dictated by economic reality. Since Police and Fire have managed to consume 100% of our sales tax operating revenue, I feel they must be prepared to adjust their operating structure to keep expenses in line with those revenues. My proposal Thursday night accomplished just that. The choices were theirs to make and, despite the budget approved by the Council and their hopes to the contrary, they may still face those choices and sooner than they think....

The public safety unions have done a masterful job of dictating policy. This needs to stop and elected officials must assume responsibility for the Citizens....

The unions, Administration, and certain City Councilors argue that the only option in reduced funding is to reduce staffing. This is true only if they wish it to be. They, not I, nor the other three Councilors voting against the Mayor's budget view the issue with such limited perspective; a limited perspective certain to instill fear in the citizens and union members and sure to divide the City. Extreme measures can often be avoided with sufficient planning.

Martinson's opponent this go-round is Chris Trail. Mr. Trail was, as recently as March 4, 2009, a resident of Council District 4. Not District 4 in Tulsa, but District 4 in the City of Sand Springs, according to the address listed next to his $50 contribution to Mayor Kathy Taylor's re-election campaign. (Taylor's husband, Bill Lobeck, gave Trail $500 for his campaign.) The date of Trail's arrival in the district was a matter of dispute, but in any event, he is a very recent arrival.

Trail seems like an affable fellow, but it was obvious from my conversation with him at the Beer Summit that he is in way over his head, being used (shamefully) by some powerful people and interest groups who can't stand to have an intelligent, articulate, persistent city councilor in the way of what they want to do. You'll see the same thing if you watch Martinson and Trail in the District 5 League of Women Voters candidate forum. (Thanks to Dave Schuttler for getting video of that event.)

Tulsa needs more councilors like Bill Martinson, councilors willing to assemble all the facts and then honestly face up to the conclusions to which the facts point. If you're a Republican in Tulsa District 5, I urge you to vote to re-elect Bill Martinson next Tuesday.

But, as I wrote a couple of years ago, we won't have bold and honest councilors unless we help them get elected:

Ultimately, the election of bold and visionary leaders depends on our willingness as voters, contributors, and volunteers to support them, to encourage them even as entrenched interests try to knock them down.

When we back away because a politician has been labeled "controversial" and "contentious," we teach the lesson that boldness is bad, and we ensure timid, tepid leadership.

If our elected officials seem frightened of their own shadows, we have only ourselves to blame.

Recently KRMG's Joe Kelley did a 10-minute interview with each of the three Republican mayoral candidates who had previously served in elective office. The ground rules for the interviews display political savvy and a striving both to be fair with the candidates and to get the information that the voters want.

  • The interviews will be recorded, not live. (The reason for this is that a savvy politician who seeks to limit his exposure can make an effort to 'filibuster' his available time with lengthy and pointless answers. If the subject knows they're being recorded for later playback, the filibuster is thwarted because we'll just keep recording until we have an answer.)
  • The recorded interviews will be approximately 10 minutes, but longer if needed. The interview will be posted in its entirety at KRMG.com and will air on the KRMG Morning News during regularly scheduled interview segments.
  • Each candidate will be featured on a unique day of the show. No candidate will be able to see the questions before the interview.
  • The questions will include questions unique to that candidate and, time permitting, generalized philosophical questions posed to each candidate.
  • Candidates are welcome to bring video recording equipment to use the video as they see fit. (The purpose here is to assure the candidate that we will not engage in editing tricks since they have a copy of the full interview.)
  • Each of the three top contenders (Dewey Bartlett, Chris Medlock and Anna Falling) agreed to these terms.

The Bartlett campaign has been trying to avoid questions unique to him; good on Joe Kelley for insisting on asking them.

They were also smart in making the interviews available on YouTube -- much easier to work with than the streaming service that ordinarily handles their audio clips.

Here are the interviews with the three candidates:

Dewey Bartlett Jr
Chris Medlock
Anna Falling

In Bartlett Jr's second segment, he explains why he voted in favor of having Tulsa's taxpayers pay the $7.1 million Great Plains Airlines default, claiming that the airport's credit rating was hurting and 13,000 jobs were in jeopardy. Even if that isn't wildly exaggerated, the right solution was to take that money out of the hides of the stockholders -- Tulsa's Great and Good who thought the Great Plains scheme was a brilliant idea -- not out of the pockets of the taxpayers. Instead, Bartlett Jr apparently prefers to protect his Money Belt peers and sock it to the rest of us.

And as for blaming the previous administration: Mary Smith, Bartlett Jr's own campaign treasurer, was high up in the Tulsa Airport Authority's administration at the time the Great Plains scheme was hatched and sold.

When Joe Kelley asked about the lack of solid information on issues on Bartlett Jr's website, Bartlett Jr said that people could call the campaign to ask about his positions and that he was talking to people on the phone and on the campaign trail. In other words, he's happy to answer questions as long as the answers won't be easily available for public scrutiny.

Here's the clip:


A commenter on this blog recently dismissed Rocky Frisco, Republican candidate for Tulsa District 4 City Councilor, as a "perennial candidate," insinuating that voters shouldn't take him seriously. I take him seriously, and on Tuesday I'll be voting for Rocky Frisco in the Republican primary.

It is true that Rocky doesn't look or sound like a conventional politician. As a rock pianist, he doesn't have the usual occupational background for a politician. He has an unusual name -- originally a stage name, later legally adopted. (His birth name -- Don Roscoe Joseph III -- isn't exactly commonplace.) The issue that motivated him to run for office when I first met him back in 1998 -- getting rid of a ridiculous, impractical, and intrusive cat leash ordinance -- isn't at the top of most people's minds.

But his opposition to that silly law wasn't just an eccentric peeve. It was grounded in a fundamental idea -- the idea of liberty. Rocky Frisco believes fervently in the idea of maximizing freedom and minimizing government intrusion. He believes in government sticking to the basics and staying within the limitations placed upon government by the people through our constitutions, charters, and laws. Rocky not only knows the U. S. Constitution backwards and forwards, he's actually read the Oklahoma Constitution all the way through, at least twice. (How many state legislators have done that?)

As I sat through Monday night's District 4 candidate forum, I found myself agreeing with Rocky far more than with the Republican incumbent, Eric Gomez, that he seeks to replace. And while many solid points on neighborhood and development issues were made by the two Democratic candidates, former Councilor Maria Barnes and Planning Commissioner Liz Wright, Rocky Frisco is the only candidate of the four that was consistently on the right side of fiscal issues -- budget, taxation, and spending priorities. He was the only one of the four to acknowledge that moving city hall to One Technology Center wasn't fiscally prudent:

What I expect from any kind of government action is unforeseen consequences, so I wasn't amazed at all to learn that it cost us a million dollars more than it was supposed to cost.... I would not have approved that move, I would not have approved the ballpark, or any of the other enormous expenses we've taken on at a time when our streets are like a battleground.

And even where we disagree, I know that he's amenable to considering new evidence and other points of view.

In a couple of weeks, Rocky will be inducted into the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame. The honor came as a surprise to him, but it's fitting for one of Tulsa's rock and roll pioneers.

But for anyone to say that Rocky is "only" a musician is to minimize his intelligence and accomplishments. Long before most of us had heard of the World Wide Web, Rocky was hand-coding his own websites. Long before that, back in the '60s, he was repairing IBM mainframe computers.

He has some fascinating stories to tell. I interviewed him a couple of years ago, and (if I can get the upload to work) I'll have that interview available for your enlightenment by the end of the day.

In the book Animal Farm, by George Orwell, there's a donkey named Benjamin. When all the animals are rejoicing over their successful overthrow of the farmer and the takeover of the farm, Benjamin refuses to be drawn in. He simply says, "Donkeys live a long time." Benjamin had lived long enough to know that no victory is permanent, that professed altruism is often cloaking selfish ambition, that power corrupts. He wasn't the sort to jump on a bandwagon or to be swayed by some smooth-talking porcine demagogue. Benjamin was a donkey, but he was no jackass.

Rocky Frisco has lived a long time, too. He's lived in Tulsa nearly all his life, and nearly all of that time in the same house south of the TU campus. He went to Lanier Elementary, Wilson Jr. High, and Central High School. He knows the city, its people, and their history. He's seen central Tulsa decline and revive. He's toured with J. J. Cale, performed with Eric Clapton. He even jammed with Elvis. He has known both popularity and obscurity. Unlike too many newly minted elected officials, he won't swoon when some lobbyist offers him a ride in a corporate jet or dinner at the Summit Club. His professional standing and quality of life aren't dependent on the fickle goodwill of Tulsa's power cliques.

Tulsa and District 4 would be well-served to have someone with Rocky Frisco's wisdom and experience on the City Council. I'm proud to join with humorist Dave Barry in endorsing him, and I hope you'll join with me in voting for Rocky Frisco in the Republican primary on Tuesday, September 8, 2009.

* "I am proud to endorse Rocky Frisco for Tulsa City Council, District Four. Not only is he a fine community leader, but he's also a heck of a piano player, which would be handy if the Tulsa City Council ever decides to form a band, which it definitely should." -- Dave Barry

CORRECTION: Rocky e-mailed to advise me that he had only played once with Clapton, not "many times" as I had written. The misunderstanding was mine, and I have corrected the sentence.

Tulsa District 7 City Councilor John Eagleton today released a legal analysis showing that the political campaigning by City of Tulsa firefighters who identify themselves as Tulsa firefighters on the campaign trail is not only a violation of the City Charter, it also violates the Hatch Act, which prohibits employees of local government departments which receive certain Federal grants from using their position to influence elections.

From Eagleton's press release:

"An employee is covered by the Hatch Act if, the individual performs duties in connection with an activity financed in whole or in part by a federal loan or grant."

"The Tulsa Fire and Police Departments receive many federal grants, and one is on the City Council agenda tonight."

"A review of grant appropriation reports shows that the Fire and Police departments are managing at least 72 active grants. Those departments are requesting millions more in federal stimulus funds."

Mr. Eagleton noted that "The Hatch Act does not prohibit covered employees from participating in political campaigns, but it does provide that:

(a) A State or local officer or employee may not--

(1) use his official authority or influence for the purpose of interfering with or affecting the result of an election or a nomination for office;

"It appears the Tulsa firefighters are using their official authority and influence to affect the result of the City Council election. When they knock on doors, the person answering is informed these campaigners are Tulsa firefighters. The yard signs being placed indicate "Tulsa Firefighters for ...". And what about the marquee sign at the Tulsa Firefighters HQ?" asked Mr. Eagleton.

"Available photographs also indicate that they are identifying themselves as Tulsa firefighters, using their position of trust and authority to influence the outcome of the election."

Eagleton cited explicit clauses in many of the Federal grant contracts signed by the city which promise compliance with the Hatch Act.

From an analysis of the impact of the Hatch Act in this situation:

Examples of covered employees provided by the [Office of Special Counsel (OSC)] include:
  • Employee covered because part of his travel expenses - a mere $350 - came from a federal grant received through the state board of health.
  • Employee who had general supervision of all engineering work for the state department of highway covered by act because engineering projects financed in part by federal grants.
  • Individual who supervises employees who work on federally funded programs generally will be held to have duties in connection with federally funded activities because of oversight responsibilities. Palmer v. United States Civil Service Commission, 297 F.2d 450 (7th cir. 1962) (director of department of conservation covered even though he claimed he spent less than one percent of his time on federally funded projects).

The OSC also dispels certain myths about the Hatch Act's coverage:

  • It is not necessary that an individual's salary be paid with federal funds.
  • The individual does not have to have administrative or executive discretion over federal funds or decide how they are spent.
  • A program does not have to be funded at least 50% by federal funds - any amount can trigger coverage.
  • The act continues to apply to individuals while on annual leave, sick leave, leave without pay, administrative leave or furlough.
  • Part-time, temporary or seasonal employees are covered by the act.
Again, the Hatch Act does not prohibit covered employees from participating in campaigns. Covered employees may not, however, "use official authority or influence to interfere with an election." For example, according to the OSC, they may not:
  • Use an official title
  • Coerce subordinates
  • Solicit the uncompensated volunteer services of subordinates
  • Make official e-mail solicitations

During Thursday night's City Council meeting, councilors approved the receipt of federal Justice Assistance Grant funds. Mayor Kathy Taylor, as the city's CEO, had to sign several assurances, committing the city to abiding my federal regulations tied to the grant. One of those assurances, appearing right above Taylor's signature, promises that the City of Tulsa "will comply with requirements of 5 USC 1501-1508 and 7324-28, which limit certain political activities of State or local government employees whose principal employment is in connection with an activity financed in whole or in part by federal assistance." Similar assurances appear on nearly every federal grant that the City of Tulsa receives, including grants for the Tulsa Fire Department.

The National Rifle Association Political Victory Fund has given an A rating to Republican mayoral candidate Chris Medlock for his views on Second Amendment rights. Dewey Bartlett Jr did not respond to the NRA questionnaire, receiving a "?" rating.

Tom Adelson, the likely Democratic mayoral nominee, also received an A, based on his legislative record and survey responses.

The NRA PVF website explains the ratings:

A Solidly pro-gun candidate. An "A" incumbent who has supported NRA positions on key votes. May also describe a non-incumbent "A" candidate (one not represented with an *) who has previously held other office and cast consistent pro-gun votes, or an "A" candidate who hasn't held office but has expressed strong support for NRA positions on Second Amendment issues. It should be noted that a "non-incumbent" candidate may have been awarded the "A" rating due solely to their responses on the NRA-PVF candidate survey.

? Failed to answer NRA-PVF candidate questionnaire, often an indication of indifference, if not outright hostility, to gun owners' and sportsmen's rights.

In a news release, Medlock said, "As an NRA member I don't take our Second Amendment Rights for granted. I will be proud to fight for this Constitutional right as Tulsa Mayor, and I will change the previous policies of Kathy Taylor."

Shortly after taking office, Taylor joined the Mayors Against Illegal Guns, an anti-Second Amendment rights group founded by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino. A number of western mayors abandoned the group when they realized that its purpose was to put further burdens on gun owners and gun manufacturers, but Taylor continued to lend her name to the coalition.

Build PAC is a political action committee registered with the Tulsa City Clerk. The PAC shares an address with the Home Builders Association of Metropolitan Tulsa. In 2005, Build PAC Issues was the single biggest contributor to the attempt to recall City Councilors Chris Medlock and Jim Mautino. The recall effort received heavy financial support from the development lobby. The "crime" of the targeted councilors: Opposing city policies that fueled suburban growth at the expense of the citizens of the City of Tulsa.

Build PAC filed its required pre-primary report two days late. Here are the candidates that received Build PAC donations:

Rick Westcott$1,000
Eric Gomez$1,000
Bill Martinson$500
Phil Lakin$1,000

It's curious that these donations did not show up in the contribution reports filed by these candidates.

I'm surprised to see Rick Westcott on this list. In 2006, when he first ran for council, the development interests backed his opponent, Paul Prather. Westcott has been generally sympathetic to neighborhood concerns -- probably the most sympathetic of the current bunch. In 2005, he headed up Tulsans for Election Integrity, the group formed to oppose the recall that the development lobby was funding.

Another possible connection between these four candidates: I'm told that all of them have ads on Whistler's electronic billboards. (I've seen ads for Martinson and Gomez, but not for Lakin or Westcott.)

In 2008, Build PAC gave money to Emanuel Lewis (District 1 Democrat), David Patrick (District 3 Independent),
Eric Gomez (District 4 Republican), Dennis Troyer (District 6 Democrat), Bill Christiansen (District 8 Republican),
G. T. Bynum (District 9 Republican).

So there's another interesting switch: Build PAC used to fund Christiansen; now they're backing his well-heeled challenger.

It's interesting too, that the development lobby hasn't weighed in on the mayor's race -- not yet, anyway.

UPDATE: According to a post by Rick Westcott on TulsaNow's public forum, he didn't receive the contribution from Build PAC until August 28. The reporting period ended on August 24, so Westcott was not required to report the Build PAC contribution on his pre-primary report; it would be reported on the post-primary report. That would also mean that Build PAC was not required to report the contributions on their pre-primary report, although I'm glad that they did.

A problem with Oklahoma's ethics reporting system is that it is too easy for controversial donors, like the development lobby, to wait until after the reporting deadline to make their contributions, thus depriving voters of the opportunity to weigh those contributions in their decision-making process. There should be a shorter gap between the end of the reporting period and when the report is due, some requirement to report last-minute contributions, and a means to make the contributions electronically available and searchable as soon as possible.

I was at the City Clerk's office looking at the R-1 forms for this year's city elections. Under Oklahoma's Political Subdivisions Ethics Act, if you raise or spend more than $500 on a city election campaign, you have to register the committee with the City Clerk on Form R-1. On the registration form, you specify the officers of the committee (chairman, vice-chairman, treasurer, staff director), a designated agent, and depositories where your committee's funds will be held -- name and location of the bank, type of account, and account number for each account.

I was curious about Chris Trail's reported "carryover" of contributions and expenses from a prior report. Trail reported having $1,000 at the beginning of the reporting period and spending $223.72 prior to the current report. I've never seen this before for a first time candidate. So I was looking for the R-1 to find out when the campaign committee was registered and if there were any earlier C-1s.

Trail's R-1 didn't show up, but I saw the R-1 for Bartlett for Mayor, Dewey Bartlett Jr's campaign committee. He filed his R-1 on July 7. Here are the committee's officers:

Chairman: Albert Kelly, 1800 S. Baltimore, Tulsa
Treasurer: Robert Sullivan Jr, 2118 E. 29th St., Tulsa
Staff Director: Somerlyn Cothran, 2313 N. Broadway, Ada

Cothran is also listed as designated agent. She is head of Cothran Development Strategies and sits on the board of something called Maverick PAC Oklahoma.

Albert Kelly is better known as "Kell" Kelly, president and CEO of Bristow-based Spirit Bank, which has been in the Kelly family since the 1930s. Kelly is registered to vote in Bristow. 1800 S. Baltimore is not a home address; it is the address of one of Spirit Bank's Tulsa facilities.

Kelly is one of the co-founders of the Oklahoma Policy Institute, a left-wing think tank created to support higher taxes and bigger government and to counter the influence of the free-market Oklahoma Center for Policy Analysis. (Here's a Tulsa World Janet Pearson column praising the Oklahoma Policy Institute. As is usual in the mainstream media, the small-government think tank institution, OCPA, is identified as right-wing, but the big-government group is described in neutral terms.)

Campaign committee chairman is an honorary position. It's a way of honoring a significant supporter, and it conveys a strong endorsement of the candidate by the person who accepts that position. For high-dollar campaigns, being chairman may also entail doing a significant amount of fundraising. It's strange that Bartlett Jr, a candidate for Mayor of Tulsa, either wouldn't choose someone from Tulsa or wouldn't be able to find someone from Tulsa willing to lend their name to the campaign as chairman.

Mautino-20040814.jpgI grew up in far east Tulsa (and beyond, in Rolling Hills in what was then unincorporated Wagoner County). My parents still live out there in District 6, and they've got a Mautino sign in their yard.

In the 19 years we've had a Tulsa City Council, for only two years has far east Tulsa had a representative at City Hall who was devoted to the district's best interests. During his 2004 to 2006 term, Jim Mautino worked for improved infrastructure to make attractive new development possible. He fought against those who wanted to treat east Tulsa as a dumping ground, who refused to respect our zoning laws and stormwater regulations. His service on the council was a natural extension of his many years of volunteer service as a neighborhood advocate.

He also worked closely with councilors from north and west Tulsa to ensure that city government paid attention to the needs of these long-neglected areas. This too was an extension of his pre-council work in organizing a coalition of neighborhood associations from around the city. Cooperating with councilors from different parties, socioeconomic backgrounds, and parts of the city, he worked for more considerate treatment of homeowners in the zoning and planning process, for stronger ethics standards, and for identifying and developing major new retail centers -- trying to capture more suburban retail dollars within city boundaries.

Long before the bribery scandal in the Public Works Department came to light, Mautino pushed for a top-to-bottom audit of the department.

For his devotion to his job, his district, and his city, Mautino was vilified by the mainstream media and officials of the metro-wide chamber and homebuilders association, and he was the target of a recall effort in 2005. He beat the recall overwhelmingly and in 2006, won renomination, despite a primary challenge well-funded by the Money Belt establishment. But he fell short of re-election, as his Transport Workers Union brothers betrayed him and campaigned instead for Dennis Troyer.

Troyer, who considers Crocs to be appropriate footwear for City Council meetings, has been a cipher on the council -- a reliable vote for Mayor Kathy Taylor and the Money Belt establishment, a reliable vote for zoning changes to permit more haphazard, ugly industrial development along our city's eastern gateway.

While Mautino is a conservative Republican, his honesty and integrity have won him fans across the political spectrum. Here's what Greg Bledsoe wrote about Jim back in 2006:

A little over a year ago I had the pleasure of meeting and getting to know your City Councilor Jim Mautino. Since that time, it has become clear to me that Jim is the most hardworking, dedicated and selfless public servant I have ever known. He is the salt of the earth. His tireless commitment to the improvement of District 6 and the whole City of Tulsa is without limitation. He has worked long hours for better sewers and streets (including a dramatic increase in funding for District 6), balanced economic development and transparent government at City Hall.

Here's what I wrote about Jim Mautino back during his first run in 2004:

Jim Mautino... is by far the best choice for the District 6 seat. Jim has been a tireless advocate for his part of town, working on zoning and planning issues to protect property values and the quality of life. Jim has persisted and more often than not prevailed because he knows the rules and does his homework, and he won't give up without a fight.

Here's what Steven Roemerman wrote about Jim Mautino during his 2006 re-election campaign:

If you spend 5 minutes with Jim you'll hear a lot of sewer talk. Not foul language but talk of sanitary sewer lines, then you'll hear a lot of talk about water lines, followed by a lot of talk about improving streets. He is passionate about improving the infrastructure in East Tulsa because Jim knows that infrastructure spurs development, and development spurs economic growth. Despite stiff opposition Mautino's hard work has paid off. Jim has brought sewer lines to East Tulsa businesses that were threatening to leave because they were still operating on sewage lagoons. When Jim is not working on acquiring water or sewer he is working on our streets. Jim drives all over District 6 taking pictures of poor road conditions, dangerous intersections, and car wrecks.

All that hard work has paid off. It is Jim Mautino's tenacity that has brought 28 million dollars of new project dollars through the 2006 Third Penny Sales Tax.

There were several close votes where Jim's voice and vote would have been decisive in favor of good government and careful management of taxpayer dollars. There were several close votes where Jim's voice and vote would have been decisive in favor of good government and careful management of taxpayer dollars. East Tulsa and the city at large need Jim Mautino back on the Council. To make that possible, Jim Mautino first needs your vote in the Tuesday, September 8, 2009, Republican primary, and again in the November general election.

MORE: After the jump, a video (by David Schuttler) of a 2006 council speech by Jim Mautino on problems in the Public Works Department, and a second video about BOK's efforts to get the City of Tulsa to pay off the Great Plains Airlines loan. And here's my column from January 28, 2009, about his proposal for a SCARE audit of the city's largest department -- he learned this kind of wide-ranging, independent, well-funded, top-to-bottom audit during his years working for American Airlines.

Westcott-20060410.jpgThere are some very powerful people in this town that evidently would rather not have grownups on the City Council. They'd rather have children, nine naifs easily led to the preferred conclusion.

But we ordinary citizens need grownups to look after our interests. We need people who have the intelligence to analyze the information they are given, look for gaps, and ask tough questions, and have the courage to say "no" or "wait" when it makes sense.

During my last run for City Council in 2002, I wrote an essay on why the City Council matters and what makes a good city councilor. It remains my standard for evaluating candidates for city office. I think the piece has held up pretty well. (So does a Fall River, Mass., city council candidate who decided to plagiarize it.)

District 2 City Councilor Rick Westcott meets the criteria I set out seven years ago. I'm happy to endorse his re-election. While I have had my disappointments with him on specific issues, his tenure has been marked by fortitude when it's mattered most. He stood firm with some of his colleagues in blocking some faulty mayoral appointments to authorities, boards, and commissions. He regularly insisted on more time to evaluate alternatives when Mayor Kathy Taylor was pushing the council to rubber-stamp her plans with haste. Westcott took a political risk to join Bill Martinson and John Eagleton in pushing for a closer look at the budgets of the police and fire departments (not voting for massive cuts, as the unions falsely allege) and the investigation of fraudulent EMS certifications in the fire department.

Early in his tenure, Rick and some of his class of 2006 colleagues made much of differentiating themselves from previous councils by refraining from "bickering." They've had their wake-up call; they now understand that merely speaking the truth, asking tough questions, and insisting on answers is enough to get you accused of bickering.

No Democrats filed for office, so Tuesday's Republican primary is the election. His opponent, Barton Ralph Rhoades, is in the midst of a bankruptcy, his third. Rhoades seems to have been recruited as an act of political vengeance by a mayor and a union that wish Rick Westcott would shut up and go away.

But Tulsa and District 2 need councilors like Rick, and I urge District 2 Republicans to re-elect Rick Westcott this coming Tuesday, September 8.

MORE: District 2 resident Jeff Shaw endorses Rick Westcott for re-election:

I'll be voting for Mr. Westcott in the Tuesday primary, and if you live in District 2, I encourage you to do the same....

He understands that in order to make big decisions, the big picture includes the details, and that includes scrutinizing every line of a budget.

There are self serving entities fighting against Rick, that do not believe in this type of responsible government. On the contrary, I expect it....

Beyond the budget, Rick is responsive and has done a good job during his term. I'll be happy to have him continue as a City Councilor come next Wednesday.

Tulsa District 4 City Councilor Eric Gomez isn't fond of public scrutiny, evidently. He was none too happy that I had my camera running during his answer to this question:

"Are you aware of SLAPP lawsuits? Would you consider a lawsuit or threat of a lawsuit against a constituent for criticizing a councilor to be a SLAPP lawsuit? Would you file or threaten to file a lawsuit against a constituent who criticized you?

This answer came during the Tuesday, September 1, 2009, District 4 League of Women Voters candidate forum at Fellowship Congregational Church. An official LWV videographer was recording the event; the photography prohibition was intended to avoid distracting flash photographs. I hadn't planned to do more than record audio, but when this question came up, I had to capture his response.

Background info:

In October 2008, Eric Gomez threatened, via his lawyer, a libel suit against Julie Hall, founder of Who Owns Tulsa? and a critic of Gomez's treatment of the neighbors of the Admiral & Yale mental health facility / home for long-term homeless / "it's only an apartment complex."

My March 25, 2009, column addressed Strategic Lawsuits Attacking Public Participation and the inadequacies of Oklahoma's anti-SLAPP laws for protecting citizens who criticize their elected officials and other powerful institutions and individuals.

Even without good anti-SLAPP laws, we can still deter SLAPP suits by elected officials by denying re-election to those who threaten to sue their constituents.

NOTE: The information and analysis regarding this are derived entirely from the public record pertaining to the case, as found in the records of the Tulsa County Court Clerk and the Oklahoma State Courts Network (OSCN) online database. Links or photographic images are provided for relevant excerpts from those records.

In their August 23, 2009, story on the legal tribulations of candidates for City of Tulsa office, the Tulsa World missed some interesting information. One was a court case involving Republican mayoral candidate Dewey Bartlett Jr., a case that went to the Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals and nearly went to the Oklahoma Supreme Court.

Documents in the case shed some light on Bartlett's financial acumen, undercutting a key selling point in his campaign for Mayor of Tulsa. One of the motions filed by Bartlett Jr's attorneys states that he and his wife "lived a lifestyle which exceeded Dewey's salary and thus consumed a large portion of Dewey's separate estate." A spreadsheet included in that same motion indicates that Bartlett Jr, having inherited a large estate, managed over time to turn it into a somewhat smaller estate.

That point was made explicitly (by Dewey Jr's lawyer) elsewhere in the same document, that "despite Dewey's best managerial efforts, there was no enhancement in the value of Dewey's inherited estate..." during a period that included one of the longest and strongest bull markets in American history.


The case, "Bartlett D. v. Bartlett S.," FD-2002-522, involved Dewey Bartlett Jr filing for divorce against his wife, Susan Bartlett, on February 6, 2002, five weeks before their 20th wedding anniversary. Previously, on August 10, 2000, Susan had filed for separate maintenance. She filed a dismissal of that case (FD-2000-3454) on July 17, 2001.

The OSCN case summary suggests (to my untrained eye, at any rate) that this was anything but a quick, amicable, uncontested divorce. In his petition for divorce, Dewey Jr "allege[d] that a state of complete and irreconcilable incompatibility has arisen between the parties hereto which has completely destroyed the legitimate aims of the marriage of the parties and rendered its continuation impossible by reason of which the parties are entitled a Decree of Divorce each from the other." In her answer, Susan "denie[d] that the parties' relationship is such that the Court should award a divorce to either party." The trial was not held until January 2004, nearly two years after the case was filed. There were contempt citations and a what looks like a battle over attorney fees. The divorce decree was issued on July 15, 2004, but the case continued to see activity until October 17, 2007, when a mandate was signed by District Judge David Youll.

The case went to the Court of Civil Appeals because Dewey Jr claimed that their family home on 26th Street was his separate property and was not marital property, because it had been purchased and improved with money from his inheritance. Judge Youll agreed with Dewey Jr, but Susan appealed the decision.

(An interesting note: As of June 1, 2009, Dewey Jr was still registered to vote at the 26th St. house, although on July 13, 2009, he filed for mayor listing an address on 30th Place, where his current wife, Victoria, is registered to vote)

The three-judge appeals court panel reversed Youll on this point, noting that the house was first in joint tenancy and was, in 1997, conveyed to Susan's separate trust. The court's opinion states, "In this case, Husband and Wife lived together in the home for nearly fifteen years. They lived there together for five years after conveying the home to Wife's revocable trust. And, both began the divorce proceedings claiming the home was marital. Necessarily, however, transferring marital property to Wife's trust could not convert what was marital property into Husband's separate property." (See the extended entry for a longer excerpt from the opinion.)

On May 16, 2003, Dewey Jr filed a "Motion for Partial Summary Judgment and Brief in Support," mostly dealing with what constitutes his separate property. A spreadsheet attached as Exhibit "B" to the motion shows a summary of the Bartletts' net worth on five dates. Here are those dates with the footnotes to the spreadsheet, and the family's estimated net worth, summing what Dewey Jr claimed as his separate property, Susan's separate property, and their joint property. (Below you will find a link to a PDF of this motion with a separate PDF containing the spreadsheet only.)

The document is interesting for a couple of reasons. At this point in the proceedings, Dewey Jr classified the house on 26th St as marital property; at some point between this filing and the July 2004 divorce decree, he claimed it as his separate property. That claim created the issue that took the case to the appeals court.

But it's also interesting because it gives voters some hard data to evaluate Bartlett's claim to be a successful businessman who can help Tulsa create jobs and grow the local economy. We can see what Bartlett has done, by his own account, with the considerable amount of wealth he inherited.

  1. June 1987, "Pre D. A. Bartlett Trust Distribution": "Earliest financial statement located post-marriage, but pre-distribution from the David A. Bartlett Trust. Dewey owned 3.8701% of Keener Oil Co. at this time." Net worth listed as $576,167. The following month he would receive a trust distribution valued at $2,693,676.
  2. December 1987, "Post D. A. Bartlett Trust Distribution": "In July of 1987 Dewey received $697,884 in cash and cash items from the David A. Bartlett Trust. He also received an additional 22.7486% interest in Keener Oil Co. from the Trust, plus a 1/3 interest in 792 acres in Delaware Cty." Net worth listed as $3,361,354.
  3. December 1994, "Post Liquidation of Keener Oil Co.": "In the first six months of 1994 Keener Oil Co. was essentially liquidated. Dewey received approximately $900,000 cash and oil & gas properties. He contributed the properties to a newly formed corporation, Keener Oil & Gas Co., which he owned 100%. He was also entitled to receive 1/3 of the overfunding of the Keener Oil Co.'s pension plan when IRS approval to terminate was obtained (approximately $380,000)." Net worth listed as $4,551,825.
  4. December 2000, "Post Sale of Delaware Cty. Property": "In the later portion of 2000 the Delaware Cty. property owned 1/3 each by Dewey and his brother and sister was sold. Dewey received approximately $470,000 in cash and Osage Cty. real estate for his1/3 interest. With a portion of that cash Dewey purchased equipment for the Osage Cty. pecan farm." Net worth listed as $4,506,100.
  5. October 2002, "Current Position": "Dewey spent part of the cash he received form [sic] the sale of his Delaware Cty. property to purchase the condominium he is living in. He also purchased additional pecan farm equipment from the cash proceeds of the Delaware Cty. sale." Net worth listed as $3,613,000.

The additional assets received in the July 1987 trust distribution were valued, according to Dewey Jr's court filing, at $1.5 million (his additional interest in Keener Oil Co.) and $495,792 (his 1/3 interest in the Delaware County acreage). With the "cash and cash items," that amounts to an inherited boost to his bottom line of $2,693,676.

This statement appears on page 4 of the May 16, 2003 motion (emphasis added):

It is also undisputed that, despite Dewey's best managerial efforts, there was no enhancement in the value of Dewey's inherited estate during the course of the marriage. In fact, the value of Dewey's inherited estate declined during coverture through depletion or depreciation. Dewey managed his inheritance by transferring assets among and between the various components of his total inheritance.

As a point of comparison, between December 1994 and December 2000, the S&P 500 nearly tripled in value, but the Bartlett family's net worth declined slightly from $4,551,825 to $4,506,100, according to the spreadsheet mentioned above. Expanding the focus to the period from December 1987 to October 2002, the value of the S&P 500 was multiplied by 3.55 (increased by 255%), while the Bartlett family's net worth (according to Dewey Jr) increased by only 7%.

In other words, "Dewey's best managerial efforts" were an order of magnitude less successful than the simple act of putting everything in an S&P 500 index fund.

Here are PDF files of the key documents cited above. These are composed of photographs of the microfilm machine screen. The photos have been edited only in three ways -- rotated to portrait orientation, cropped to show only the page and not the microfilm machine, and bank account numbers redacted. These documents are public record and can be accessed at the microfilm department of the Tulsa County Court Clerk's office. (The original case record is so bulky that it cannot ordinarily be checked out; instead, individual documents have to be accessed on the microfilm reel for the day the document was filed with the court.)

  1. Dewey Bartlett Jr's petition for divorce (3 MB PDF)
  2. Susan Bartlett's answer to divorce petition (2 MB PDF)
  3. Dewey Bartlett Jr's May 16, 2003, motion for partial summary judgment:
    1. Background section only (includes the quotes mentioned above) (2 MB PDF)
    2. Exhibit B spreadsheet of the Bartletts' net worth from 1987 to 2002 (9 MB PDF)
    3. Full 18 pages of motion and brief, plus Exhibits A and B and Dewey Jr's affidavit, which includes a record of his annual salary for the years from 1987 to 2002 (16 MB PDF)

75% of the contributors to Phil Lakin's campaign for Tulsa City Council District 8 do not reside in the district. Those contributors gave 71% of the contributions in excess of $200 (the only contributions required to be reported by name). Lakin is head of the Tulsa Community Foundation and a trustee of the George Kaiser Family Foundation. The biggest cluster of Lakin contributors and contributions is to be found in District 9 -- 44% and 41% respectively. These statistics strengthen the perception that Lakin has stronger social ties to the midtown Money Belt than to the south Tulsa neighborhoods he seeks to represent.

This analysis assigns donors to the district where they are registered to vote or reside, rather than the office mailing address they may have used in their contribution disclosure statement. For example, Francis Rooney listed the Manhattan Construction headquarters address on his contribution, but according to the disclosures filed with his 2008 Federal campaign contributions, he lives in Naples, Florida, and he is not registered to vote in Oklahoma. Dan Buford listed a P. O. Box on his Lakin donation, and he is registered to vote at 107 S. Phoenix, the old Irving School in Council District 1, but at least as of 2008, he and his wife Kay still lived at the Blair Mansion in District 9 and at the time planned to continue to live there, although the property has been sold to the George Kaiser Family Foundation.

Here is the breakdown of Lakin's donors by council district.

Here is a summary of the pre-primary Form C-1 ethics reports filed with the Tulsa City Clerk's office by 5 p.m. today by Republican candidates, the deadline for the pre-primary filing for next Tuesday's Tulsa City Council races. I have listed all contributors $1,000 and over for the mayoral and auditor candidates, all contributors over $200 for city councilor candidates.

The reports cover contributions and expenditures through August 24, 2009. Donors are from Tulsa unless otherwise noted. Reports were also filed by District 7's John Eagleton, who was re-elected without opposition, Karl Hulcher, the unopposed Republican District 3 nominee, and G. T. Bynum, the unopposed Republican District 9 nominee; these will be posted at a later time. Another entry will feature the Democratic primary candidates

The details are below. Here are some observations:

I can't quantify the change (yet) but an increasing number of donors list their office address on their contribution disclosures, rather than their residential address. This particularly seems to be the case with high-dollar donors to high-dollar candidates. This makes it difficult to tell whether the donors are Tulsa residents or not, and for City Council candidates, which donors actually live in the district. Phil Lakin's money seems to come overwhelmingly from outside District 8, but it would be hard to quantify precisely without researching the home address of the many donors who used an office address on the disclosure form. (E.g., former Kathy Taylor economic adviser Don Himelfarb listed the Dollar Thrifty headquarters on 31st St as his address.) If this isn't an actual violation of the campaign ethics law, at least it's a violation of the spirit of the law.

Bartlett received a large number of big contributions from donors who do not live in Tulsa. This includes a contribution from the Chickasaw Nation, which also donated to Tom Adelson. (Why is the Chickasaw Nation, a south-central Oklahoma tribe, interested in City of Tulsa politics?)

Nearly all of auditor candidate Preston Doerflinger's campaign contributions came from people who do not live in Tulsa. Why is this?

A large portion of contributions to Chris Medlock were in-kind donations of goods and services.

The contribution reports for the mayor's race seem to back up my earlier statement that only two Republican candidates have significant support beyond immediate family and close friends. Only Medlock and Bartlett Jr (or should I call him Bartlet Jr now?) have exceeded $5,000 in contributions and expenditures.

It was surprising to see that Chris Trail, not an incumbent, have a carryover of contributions and expenditures. Does this indicate he was raising money for a race even before he moved into the district from outside the city limits?

Chris Trail also received $500 from Mayor Kathy Taylor's husband, Bill Lobeck. His two biggest contributors, and Carol Smith, apparently a cattle rancher from Rogers County, contributing $5,000, and David Sharp, a major property owner in downtown's Brady Arts District, contributing $4,000.

Eric Gomez has heavy support from sources related to the Bank of Oklahoma, including BOK PAC, Frederic Dorwart (the bank's attorney), and bank chairman George Kaiser.

Bill Martinson shows no expenditures whatsoever, and yet (I'm told) he has an ad running on digital billboards and there are yard signs in evidence. Gomez has an ad on digital billboards, too, but his report shows no billboard expenditure or any spending in a more generic category that might include billboards.

Click the link to the jump for the specifics from the contribution reports:

Tulsa Mayor Kathy Taylor, who ended her campaign for re-election early this summer, raised and spent more money on her non-campaign than any of the candidates seeking to replace her.

Steven Roemerman and I worked together to sift through the pre-primary campaign reports, and he has posted a spreadsheet summary of campaign contributions and expenditures.

Taylor raised $539,309.69 and spent $348,745.00, over a period from December 10, 2007, to August 24, 2009. The report did not break down expenditures by date.

Taylor's reported contributions included $50 on March 4, 2009, from District 5 Republican candidate Chris Trail, who at the time still listed his residence as 7306 W. 35th St., outside the city limits west of Tulsa. Taylor's husband, Bill Lobeck, returned the favor, donating $500 to Trail.

Dewey Bartlett Jr was second among mayoral candidates, raising $286,243.05 and spending $155,659.72.

Tom Adelson raised $196,896 and spent $109,690.30.

Chris Medlock raised $47,572.62 and spent $45,684.06.

Mark Perkins, an independent candidate who will be on the general election ballot, raised $24,477.35 and spent $4,644.69

Norris Streetman, Kevin Boggs, and Clay Clark (who did not file to be on the ballot) also filed reports, but none raised or spent more than $5,000. No other mayoral candidate filed a report.

More detail to follow later this evening.

Anna FallingLast Sunday the Tulsa World ran a story on information discovered in their background checks of candidates for City of Tulsa office. The paper missed some interesting information; thus this series.

The subject of today's post is former city councilor and Republican mayoral candidate Anna Falling. The World story mentions three cases, but there were two more, one from last year, one from last month, that escaped their notice.

In the weeks since she announced her campaign for mayor, Anna Falling or her Tulsa Cornerstone Assistance Network have been the subject of two garnishment summonses, one relating to an indebtedness lawsuit from earlier in the year, one (issued last Friday) relating to a recently filed small claims case. Also last Friday, an asset hearing was ordered in one of the cases. A breach of agreement lawsuit filed by ONB Bank against Falling, Falling's husband, and Tulsa CAN remains pending; it appears to involve Tulsa Cornerstone's mortgage and a failure to maintain insurance on the mortgaged property.

Here are links to the OSCN docket files for the five cases with a timeline of key events for each:


  • April 5, 2004: Case filed.
  • May 26, 2004: District Judge Russell Haas ruled in favor of the plaintiff and against Falling "in the sum of $1,982.01 plus interest, costs, and $690.00 attorney fees."
  • July 14, 2004: A garnishment summons was issued to Communication Federal Credit Union.
  • October 14, 2004: Judge orders hearing on assets
  • December 10, 2004: Hearing on assets held. Falling doesn't attend or send an attorney. "NO ONE FOR THE DEFENDANT. BENCH WARRANT AUTHORIZED."

SC-2008-10673: C It All Leak Detectors & Plumbing Inc, Plaintiff, v. Tulsa Cornerstone Assistance Network, Defendant.

  • June 30, 2008: Case filed.
  • August 12, 2008: At the hearing, Tulsa Cornerstone Assistance Network was not present. Judge Charles Hogshead grants a default judgment in favor of the plaintiff, $285 plus court costs plus 10% attorney fees.

CS-2009-564: TULSA ADJUSTMENT BUREAU INC, Plaintiff, v. CHRISTOPHER D BEACH, Defendant, and ANNA L FALLING, Defendant.

  • January 22, 2009: Case filed.
  • July 27, 2009: Garnishment affidavit filed.
  • July 29, 2009: Garnishment summons issued.
  • August 27, 2009: Hearing on assets application filed.
  • August 28, 2009: Asset hearing ordered for October 2, 2009.


The Tulsa World story described this as a "foreclosure petition" and quoted Falling's husband, Chris Beach, who is executive director of Tulsa Cornerstone Assistance Network, as saying that the organization "took a 'time out' on the organization's mortgage... but have since made it up."

The OSCN docket report says the case against Falling, Beach, and Tulsa Cornerstone Assistance Network is still pending.

  • April 29, 2009: Case filed.
  • May 4, 2009: Summons served on defendants.
  • May 5, 2009: Beach wrote a letter to ONB Bank officers:
  • As the executive director of the Tulsa Cornerstone Assistance Network, I write this letter to you on behalf of the board of directors. We would like to ask if we can give you $5000 this week, $5000 the next, bring our insurance up to date the following week, and then offer you $2000 a month from now until the loan is paid off in full. We would like to negotiate a fair interest rate and an option to pay the mortgage off in full without penalties.

  • May 8, 2009: Beach wrote a follow-up letter to the same ONB Bank officials:
  • Thank you Byron [Perry of ONB Bank] for calling me back yesterday regarding our proposed solution. I am sorry you could not accept that offer.

    We will go seek to raise the additional $7000 you want up front immediately. We would like to ask if you can give us an extra 20 days to raise the additional $7000. If agreeable to this, we will go ahead and provide to you the first two $5000 payments this next week, followed by the insurance policy re-established, all within the original 20-day period.

  • June 2, 2009: C-It-All Leak Detectors & Plumbing, Inc. "expressly disclaims any right, title or interest in and to that certain real property which is the subject of the case." This company was the plaintiff in the 2008 small claims case. Does their listing as a defendant in this case and filing of this disclaimer of interest indicate that they had a lien on the property in question relating to that earlier case?

SC-2009-12187: Gregory Miller, Plaintiff, v. Tulsa Cornerstone Assistance Network, Defendant.

  • July 24, 2009: Case filed.
  • August 14, 2009: Judge Millie Otey finds in favor of the plaintiff, who is awarded $635 and court costs.
  • August 28, 2009: Garnishment summons issued.

Children anticipate December 25 with excitement. I get excited about 5 p.m. on the 8th day before a City of Tulsa election. You can learn a lot about a candidate from his campaign contributions and expenditures, and you can often discern patterns in the giving of frequent individual contributors and political action committees (PAC).

I plan to be down at the City Clerk's office as the deadline approaches and will, as I have in elections past, post a summary of the campaign disclosure filings for mayor, council, and auditor as soon as my fingers can type it. Watch this space!

The League of Women Voters of Metro Tulsa will hold candidate forums on Tuesday, September 1, 2009, for the five Tulsa City Council districts for which there are primary elections. The forums will run from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

District 2 (Rick Westcott, Bart Rhoades): McClure Elementary, 1770 E. 61st St.

District 4 (Rocky Frisco, Eric Gomez; Maria Barnes, Liz Wright): Fellowship Congregational Church, 2900 S. Harvard Ave.

District 5 (Bill Martinson, Chris Trail): Schusterman Benson Library, 3333 E. 32nd Pl.

District 6 (Jim Mautino, Tadd Weese; Mario Choice, Dennis Troyer): Martin East Regional Library, 2601 S. Garnett Road.

District 8 (Bill Christiansen, Scott Grizzle, Phil Lakin): Hardesty Regional Library, 8316 E. 93rd St.

I won't be able to attend all of these events, but I'd love first-hand reports (with audio or video, if possible). If you'd like to be a volunteer stringer for BatesLine, or if you plan to cover one of the forums on your own blog, send an e-mail to blog at batesline dot com, and let's coordinate our coverage.

In a comment on a previous entry, commenter John R. poses an intriguing set of mayoral criteria and a question:

Avoid candidates with these qualities/ambitions:

1) Running the City like a business. It is not, and trying to do that has not improved it

2) Legacies. Mayor Taylor has several. The need for them is questionable, the cost high. Good government is all the legacy anyone should want

3) Political/value labels. Local politics rarely allows high-minded political posing. It is down & dirty getting things done. At the end of the day, you have to wash them off pretty good to tell the blue from the red

4) Making public safety the only issue. That indicates ignorance of the scope of the City's responsibilities. Do we sacrifice clean water for more police? How much sewage do we dump in the river to hire more firemen?

5) Type A personalities. They like to command but not listen. They never reverse a Custer decision.

So who is left?

"Good government is all the legacy anyone should want" would make an excellent motto for the official seal of the Mayor of Tulsa.

Feel free to make the case for your candidate in the comments below.

The Tulsa Area Republican Assembly, a conservative Republican organization affiliated with the National Federation of Republican Assemblies, has endorsed Chris Medlock for the Republican nomination for Tulsa mayor at their nominating convention this morning.

The group's rules require a positive vote from two-thirds of its members, so in several races they made no endorsement. With several conservative candidates in the mayoral primary, it wasn't a sure thing that any one candidate would be able to get the required two-thirds. With no runoff, there is a danger that the long list of conservative candidates will split the conservative voters that constitute the majority of the Republican primary vote, allowing a non-conservative candidate to sneak through with a tiny plurality and capture the nomination. The Republican Assembly endorsement convention is as close as we will get this year to a "conservative primary."

Prior to the endorsement vote, the assembly heard from most of the long roster of Republican candidates. Dewey Bartlett Jr had promised to attend, but as with Monday night's After Five Republican Women's Club candidate forum, a Bartlett Jr campaign rep called the night before to cancel.

Here is the list of Republican Assembly endorsements for the September 8, 2009, primary:

Mayor: Chris Medlock
Auditor: Preston Doerflinger
District 4: Rocky Frisco
District 6: Jim Mautino
District 8: Bill Christiansen

On his Tuesday, August 25, 2009, appearance on KFAQ's Pat Campbell Show, Dewey Bartlett Jr denied (sort of, sputteringly) endorsing Kathy Taylor for Mayor over incumbent Republican Mayor Bill LaFortune in 2006, an endorsement that has been reported as fact, without contradiction, by mainstream media outlets several times during this campaign. He also seems to have changed his story on why he endorsed Taylor for re-election this year. His 2009 endorsement of Taylor is undeniable, as his photo and a quote appeared at the top of the Republicans for Kathy website.

Steven Roemerman has the story, and he provides the money quote from a Tulsa World story following Bartlett Jr's campaign announcement:

Even though Taylor -- who has decided not to seek re-election -- is a Democrat, Bartlett [Jr] backed her 2006 mayoral campaign, and she asked him to co-lead an analysis and gather public input before last fall's Fix the Streets package was assembled. He said he would not have run if she had campaigned for a second term.

Bartlett [Jr] said he will not be concerned if people consider him an extension of Taylor's leadership.

With the Kathy Taylor's Borg Cube (aka One Technology Center, aka new City Hall) running a $1.26 million deficit this fiscal year (and a balloon payment looming in just three years, with no nibbles so far on our 1969 City Hall or the other city lands that Taylor's handpicked real estate firm is trying to market), Taylor's leadership isn't looking so hot right now; maybe that's why Bartlett Jr is backing away from Taylor to the degree consistent with documentary evidence.

Roemerman also notes something else funny about the shifting reasons Bartlett Jr is giving for his endorsement:

He endorsed the Democrat before finding out if a solid GOP business man would be running. City Councilor Bill Christiansen wanted to run for mayor and was going to do so until Bartlett [Jr] got in the race and announced he would be spending hundreds of thousands of dollars. This caused Christiansen to balk. Christiansen is a very successful businessman. Why did Bartlett [Jr] have to support Taylor over Christiansen?

Bill Martinson was another potential mayoral candidate who, like Christiansen, has built a successful business, which is something neither Taylor nor Bartlett have done. Why not at least wait until the Republican field was set before endorsing an incumbent Democrat with some bad decisions on her record? Bartlett Jr's answers so far aren't satisfactory, and he seems to know it.

While Taylor worked in the corporate world for a time, her massive wealth was the result of marrying into it, not building it as part of growing a business. Bartlett Jr, from what I've been able to learn, inherited a family business and has managed to keep it going, but so far I can't find anything to indicate that Keener Oil & Gas Co. has grown under his leadership. (I stand ready to be corrected.) In fact, I seem to recall that early in his campaign, his ads referred to him as a successful businessman who knew how to create jobs. On KFAQ, he simply claimed to "have business experience."

I've got more to say on a related topic: The way the massive amount of inherited wealth in Tulsa distorts lifestyles, political arguments, and perceptions of success. Inherited wealth isn't a bad thing per se, and in fact it has kept Tulsa's economy afloat during economic hard times, but the body politic may need some corrective lenses as a result of its abundance here.

Sometime late Monday morning, a friend called to let me know about the first hour of Pat Campbell's show. I didn't hear it live -- I didn't turn on KFAQ until 7:45, in time to hear the interview with Chris Medlock -- but I listened later in the day. I understand I had an invitation to call in, and if I'd heard it when the show was live, I'd have done so.

As a writer, I take it to heart when it's apparent that I failed to communicate my meaning clearly. In trying to ensure that I cover all my bases and qualify my statements to be as precise as possible, it can happen that the core of my message gets lost in all my words. The blog entry at issue weighs in at more than 1800 words; if I'd had more time to edit, perhaps I could have been more concise.

So here are the highlights of my late Thursday night blog essay, in response to Pat Campbell's comments from Monday, and a few other notes.

1. There is a question mark at the end of the entry's title. This is a headline device often used over an opinion column to indicate that the statement preceding the question mark is being doubted or questioned in the column. When Pat quoted the title on the air, he made the title sound like a statement of fact rather than a question.

2. I supported Pat's point that political advertising on a radio station is not going to sway a talk show host.

3. I estimated how infrequently Pat has dealt with the mayoral election since the filing period, based on the descriptions on the podcast site. I supposed that this might be a cause for dissatisfaction for many listeners.

4. I assumed (wrongly, as it turns out) that Dewey Bartlett Jr. hadn't been on the air since late June because Bartlett Jr. (or his handlers) refused to let him come back on. Pat said that Bartlett isn't ducking KFAQ, but he [Campbell] had been "blowing [Bartlett] off" because he had more important issues to cover last week.

I took a look at the hourly show summaries for last week from the The Pat Campbell Show podcast site. Plenty of important content there, but I could see a number of topics that could well have been deferred in favor of a very timely call-in session with the presumptive front-runner for the Republican nomination for Mayor of Tulsa, with the primary less than three weeks away. Perhaps a candidate in next year's governor's race can wait until we've got the city elections (in two weeks) out of the way.

I am happy to hear that Bartlett will be on the show this morning during the 8 o'clock hour. That hadn't been announced when I posted my blog entry late last Thursday evening. I didn't hear it mentioned on Friday either.

4. I didn't write that divorce should be an automatic disqualifier for a candidate. Here, in part, is what I wrote:

While it's true that divorce and remarriage have become very common in the Christian community, devoutly religious Oklahomans still take marriage vows seriously....

Even someone without a religious faith who has ethical standards will judge a divorced person's character based on the context of the divorce. Someone who dumps the mother of his children for a trophy wife will be judged far more harshly than someone who leaves a drug-addicted spouse who refuses to get help.

I have voted for, volunteered for, and endorsed divorced and remarried candidates, but the context and circumstances of the divorce matter to me and a lot of other voters.

Chris Medlock made the point, during his segment with Pat on Monday, that many voters care whether a candidate is the aggrieved party in a divorce or the aggrieving party. Two lawyers, a conservative Republican who specializes in family law and a liberal Democrat, himself divorced and remarried, took time to let me know they think I'm right about this: The context of a divorce can often tell you something about the character of a person.

I know many people who were divorced against their will, because their spouses wanted their "freedom." Others have divorced reluctantly because their spouses were a danger to them or their children. That's very different from the middle-aged man who says to himself, "Now that I've accumulated a degree of wealth, status, and power, I deserve something better than the old frump who bore my children, so I think I'll trade her in for a sportier model."

It does seem odd that a conservative radio talk show host would argue that as society changes our views of a topic like divorce should change with the times. What other marriage-related moral standards should conservatives abandon because the rest of society has abandoned them?

5. Bartlett Jr's divorce is not the "only thing [I've] got on him," much less the most important thing. In the admittedly long-winded entry in question, I brought up Bartlett Jr's endorsement of Taylor, despite her support for Michael Bloomberg's gun-grabbing mayors' coalition and for local implementation of the Kyoto Treaty. I brought up Bartlett Jr's support for the Great Plains payoff, which ripped off Tulsa taxpayers for the sake of keeping the local big shots who put this rotten deal together out of hot water. I could also have raised his support for making the City Council less representative by replacing three districts with three at-large councilors. Many of Bartlett Jr's political positions over the last few years have been in support of keeping the same incompetent bunch of people in power in this city. I can't think of a single-time in recent years that he has spoken in opposition to unnecessary big-ticket projects or tax increases.

6. KFAQ has played an important role in helping Tulsa voters understand how power works in Tulsa and how to reform the system so that it works for all Tulsans, not just a favored few. I've been involved in local politics continually since 1997 and, before that, off and on since 1988. KFAQ brought issues to the fore that the local powerbrokers would just have soon kept quiet, and it challenged the stream of misinformation coming from the establishment's PR machine. It made networking possible between people with different but related causes and concerns, helping us to build coalitions for reform that would never have happened otherwise.

7. This is an important election. As someone who grew up in this city, I want to have a mayor who applies conservative principles to city government. At the very least, I want the Republican nominee to espouse conservative ideals, even if he falls short in the general election.

Can Bartlett win against Adelson? In the 2004 State Senate 33 race, Bartlett had the best coattails a Republican could hope for. Bush won by 8 percentage points in the district, but Bartlett fell short by 3 percentage points.

8. We didn't lose in 2006 because conservatives criticized Bill LaFortune. We lost because LaFortune turned his back on the conservatives who backed him, and he didn't correct his course and reach out to the grassroots until the final week of the general election campaign. If Republicans don't thoroughly vet our nominee, the Democrats will do it for us after it's too late to make another selection. (Remember Chad Stites?)

Earlier today District Judge Jefferson Sellers ruled that an initiative petition seeking a charter amendment to make Tulsa city elections non-partisan is invalid.

The petition, circulated in 2008 by the group Tulsans for Better Government, was challenged by City Councilor John Eagleton on two grounds: That the petitions lacked a warning against false signatures that is required by state law to be on all initiative petitions, and that the number of signatures submitted fell short of the requirement of 25% of the vote in the last general election.

34 O.S. 3 requires (emphasis added):

Each initiative petition and each referendum petition shall be duplicated for the securing of signatures, and each sheet for signatures shall be attached to a copy of the petition. Each copy of the petition and sheets for signatures is hereinafter termed a pamphlet. On the outer page of each pamphlet shall be printed the word "Warning", and underneath this in ten-point type the words, "It is a felony for anyone to sign an initiative or referendum petition with any name other than his own, or knowingly to sign his name more than once for the measure, or to sign such petition when he is not a legal voter". A simple statement of the gist of the proposition shall be printed on the top margin of each signature sheet. Not more than twenty (20) signatures on one sheet on lines provided for the signatures shall be counted. Any signature sheet not in substantial compliance with this act shall be disqualified by the Secretary of State.

Only one of the signature sheets submitted to the Tulsa City Clerk had the copy of the petition attached and that copy lacked the required statutory language. There was no evidence that any of the other pamphlets had a copy of the petition with the required language. Eagleton, in his filing, cited Community Gas and Service Company v. Walbaum, 1965 OK 118 (case citations omitted):

The warning clause is just as essential to guard against and prevent fraud, deception or corruption of the initiative and referendum process as are such other indispensable requirements of the statute as (1) the pre-circulation filing of a copy of the petition required by 34 O.S. 1961 § 8 ; (2) timely post-circulation filing of the petition in compliance with 34 O.S. 1961 § 8 ; and (3) the execution of a circulator's verification prescribed by 34 O.S. 1961 § 6 .

Eagleton's second point, involving the number of signatures, is a bit complicated: City Clerk Mike Kier used the April 1, 2008, voter turnout as the basis for the required number of signatures, which he determined to be 3,427. 12,985 votes were cast for Prop. 1. 13,065 votes were cast for Prop. 2.

Eagleton argued that the last general election at which every voter in the city was allowed to vote was on April 4, 2006. 77,341 votes were cast in the mayor's race, so that an initiative petition would require 19,336 signatures to make it onto the ballot. Only 6,675 valid signatures were submitted by Tulsans for Better Government.


While voters in every precinct could vote on two charter change proposals in 2008, that was a special election; only the voters in five city council districts had a general election. The distinction is backed up by the ballots distributed to voters: If you lived in council districts 1, 2, 5 or 7, your ballot was headed "SPECIAL MUNICIPAL ELECTION" and had only the two propositions. If you lived in districts 3, 4, 6, 8, or 9, your ballot was headed "GENERAL MUNICIPAL ELECTION" and had the city council race followed by the two propositions. (Click on the images above to see a full photographs of the ballots for districts with no council race and for District 3. These photos were taken of the ballots that are stored along with the certified results in the files of the Tulsa County Election Board. Many thanks to Patty Bryant and her great team at the Election Board for their assistance in accessing records of past elections.)

By contrast, on April 4, 2006, every voter in the city received a "GENERAL MUNICIPAL ELECTION" ballot. (Click the image below to see the ballot that was used for voters in council districts 1, 2, 7, and 8, where there was no council general election. There was a general election for mayor and auditor, as well as a special election to decide six charter change propositions.)


Eagleton's arguments won the day. Eagleton's filing in the case cited Neidy v. City of Chickasha, a 2008 Oklahoma Supreme Court case in which the Court ruled that special elections could not be used to determine the number of required signatures. (Emphasis in the original.)

The use of a special election to determine the sufficiency of signatures on a referendum petition offends the Oklahoma Constitution.

What constitutes a qualifying general municipal election was addressed by the Oklahoma Supreme Court in Belisle v. Crist, according to Eagleton's petition:

The Court also determined that a preceding general municipal election in which all voters were not eligible to participate should not be considered, only the last general municipal election where all qualified municipal voters could vote and only qualified municipal voters could vote. (Emphasis added.)

The Tulsa World today, on page A-14, presented a summary of information turned up during background checks of the candidates for Tulsa city offices.

Some of the information had been reported previously -- Eric Gomez serving alcohol to a minor in 1993 and being arrested for public intoxication in 1997; Rick Westcott's tax liens; Paul Tay and his inflatable genitalia; Chris Trail's long list of personal, financial, and legal troubles.

There was some new info, too, in the World's story, but there were also many other cases that the World's story failed to address. (It's easy to miss court cases if you don't think to look for name variations. More about that in a separate entry.) In fact, there's so much additional information that I'm not going to try to cover it all in one entry. So here's part 1.

Bart Rhoades, the challenger in District 2, is currently in bankruptcy (09-11516-R, filed on May 21, 2009).

But the World's story missed some significant court cases involving Rhoades.

My search of the Northern District of Oklahoma Bankruptcy court database revealed two additional bankruptcies -- a Chapter 13 bankruptcy (89-03839-W) filed on December 14, 1989, and a Chapter 7 bankruptcy (90-03200-W) filed on October 22, 1990.

Oddly, the filing in Rhoades' current bankruptcy case shows more assets than liabilities. He has a home (his residence as listed on his candidate filing) valued in the filing at $140,000, with $49,000 listed as the "amount of secured claim." (If I understand it correctly, this is what he owes on the mortgage. He has a firefighter's pension of $14,000 per year; a note on p. 15 says "Debtor owes his ex spouse 50% of his Firefighter pension." He lists $29,442.27 in unsecured claims, including $13,334 in student loans, about $9,500 in credit card debt, $976.11 in medical bills, $2,735.33 related to a lawsuit brought by Gary D. Underwood, and $2,374.63 owed to "paterson realtors." (That amount appears to be the result of this small claims case that Patterson Realtors brought against him in 2007.) His occupation is listed as greenskeeper for "jsj, inc." with an address corresponding to the LaFortune Park golf course.

According to District Court documents available online, Rhoades did not appear for the Patterson lawsuit. A garnishment summons was issued, but according to the bankruptcy filing, he didn't make enough money to have his salary garnished. A case involving Capital One also involved a garnishment summons to the Tulsa County Clerk's office, returned for insufficient earnings. And yet another case, brought by Gary D. Underwood, resulted in a garnishment order to Midfirst Bank. The three lawsuits were brought in 2008, 2007, and 2008 respectively. A 2005 breach of contract suit brought against Rhoades by OU in Cleveland County District Court was settled later the same year.

Rhoades also didn't show up earlier this year when he was sued, along with other defendants, in a case brought in 2007 by Connie K. Harl. Rhoades was charged with violating the Residential Property Condition Disclosure Act. The default judgment against Rhoades was vacated as a result of his bankruptcy.

The online information for that case is incomplete, and if the amount of the judgment was large enough, it may explain why Rhoades filed for bankruptcy instead of selling his house and paying off the debts that he listed.

Rhoades is backed in his campaign by the Firefighters' Union. The union is targeting Rick Westcott because he wanted time to take a closer look at Bill Martinson's budget proposal, which arose from Martinson's analysis of the growth of public safety's share of the city's budget. According to Martinson's analysis, police and fire departments now consume all of the revenue generated by the 2% general fund sales tax. Westcott has also been outspoken about investigating possibly fraudulent claims of EMT and paramedic certifications -- certifications that qualify a firefighter for extra pay. Westcott has also had a target on his back for opposing several of Mayor Kathy Taylor's initiatives and board appointments.

There's an echo here of 2008, when the local establishment recruited an opponent for Jack Henderson to punish him for his effective opposition to the 2007 county river tax increase. His opponent, Emanuel Lewis, had been sued in small claims court for an unpaid medical bill, failed to show up on his court date, and had his wages garnished to pay the bill. From my March 12, 2008, column:

The Lewises failed to appear in court date on Jan. 24, and Judge Charles Hogshead ordered them to pay $868.74 to Tulsa Regional Medical Center, plus attorneys' fees and interest. On Feb. 15, a garnishment affidavit was served on Great Plains Mortgage, Lewis's employer.

Creditors generally go to great lengths to settle unpaid bills before they involve the courts. That someone seeking public office would let an unpaid bill go to court, then fail to appear in court, then fail to pay the judgment, casts serious doubt on the candidate's judgment and personal responsibility.

Likewise, in this year's District 5 race, Bill Martinson, the City Council's number-cruncher, has been targeted for defeat, apparently by forces that would prefer not to have a grown-up on the City Council. Their champion in this race, Chris Trail, moved into the district from outside the city limits on the other side of town just in time (or possibly not) to file for the office, and has a string of legal problems, which the World reported early in the campaign: an arrest on food code violations, a restraining order filed by his wife, tax liens, and a bogus check charge. Nevertheless, Trail has hired a big-time political consultant, Karl Ahlgren, has put out some very professional-looking campaign materials, and had a fundraiser hosted by a Dollar Thrifty executive. When he first sent me a Facebook friends request back in July, his list of about 60 friends included several close associates of Mayor Kathy Taylor.

There seems to be a pattern of financially troubled individuals being recruited to challenge councilors who show too much intelligence and independence.

Westcott has had some financial troubles of his own. He wound up with more taxes than he could afford to pay as the result of his 1998 divorce, and so he initiated a voluntary payment plan with the IRS and the Oklahoma Tax Commission. His state tax debt has been paid in full; he is still paying down his federal debt.

Westcott did the responsible thing and found a way to pay his bills, with interest. Bart Rhoades's three bankruptcies give a different impression.

On Friday, Republican mayoral candidate Chris Medlock challenged Dewey Bartlett Jr. to debate issues one-on-one "anytime, anywhere." Medlock and Bartlett Jr., both former city councilors, appear to be the leading candidates in the race for the Republican nomination for Mayor of Tulsa. From Medlock's press release:

Dewey Bartlett [Jr.] does not mention one issue on his website. Conservative Republican Chris Medlock is the only candidate who has placed a series of videos stating his positions on issues facing the city of Tulsa including fighting crime, fixing our streets, and getting back to the basics of city government. They are available on both his webpage and on a YouTube Channel.

Medlock stated, "If Dewey lacks the confidence to defend his positions on twice endorsing Democrat Kathy Taylor and then voting to give $7.1 million of taxpayer dollars away to Kathy's friends in the Great Plains Airlines Scandal, how can he ever back up his ads that claim that he is a conservative to the Republican Party?"

Medlock continued, "I am dedicated to getting the voters the information they deserve and confident of my knowledge of the critical issues facing our city. That is why I have stated my positions on specific policies facing the city of Tulsa on my web site. And I will contrast my conservative values against his left of center positions anytime, anywhere."

Rather than respond personally or even talk directly to a reporter, Bartlett Jr. sent out a prepared statement, according to a story in the Tulsa World:

But Bartlett, a former city councilor and president of Keener Oil & Gas, indicated in a prepared statement that a debate with Medlock is not needed.

"I've attended two candidate forums, both put on by the Republican Party, where I have publicly delivered my message, defended my platform and debated the issues," he said. "Media was present and reported from both events at the Tulsa Republican Club and the Tulsa Republican Women's Club."

Bartlett Jr. has appeared at two mass forums (the Republican Women's Club was one of them) in which he was either given the questions ahead of time or all candidates were asked exactly the same questions. He has not appeared on talk radio to field questions from the listeners, has not appeared at a forum to take questions directed to him, has not appeared in a debate situation where he could be asked questions by his opponents.

I have been told that Bartlett Jr.'s handlers ask three questions when his presence is requested at a public or media event where questions might be asked:

  1. Will we have the questions ahead of time?
  2. Will the same questions be asked of every candidate?
  3. If we say no, will the event go ahead without Bartlett Jr.?

This is the sort of thing we saw with the river tax and Vision 2025 vote -- the same people running Bartlett Jr.'s campaign ran the vote yes campaign for both elections. They would refuse to send a speaker to an event if the vote no side was to be allowed to participate, and it was a rare media outlet or civic group that refused to be held hostage by the vote yes side.

The Bartlett Jr. campaign's behavior shows that they don't have any confidence in their candidate's ability to answer tough questions. The PR people must think the real Bartlett Jr. is too unappealing and inadequate to risk giving the voters too much direct exposure. Seems to me that if a candidate was getting this kind of advice from his handlers, if he had any guts, any self-respect, he'd ditch his handlers and step up to the debate challenge, not cower behind an image spun out by a PR consultant.

The Oklahoma Channel (Cox Cable Channel 3) is doing a series of eight-minute interviews with the candidates for Tulsa mayor and posting the interviews on YouTube. John Erling asked the following questions of each candidates (my paraphrase) -- most candidates got most of the questions, but there was some variation.

  • Tell us about your professional background.
  • What motivates you to run for mayor?
  • What would you write in a job description for the job of mayor?
  • What skills are most important to be mayor?
  • To complement your strengths and weaknesses, what skills would you seek for your appointed positions?
  • Give us an example from your work background that would apply the role from mayor (management or project leadership).
  • What do you see ahead for the City of Tulsa in the next five years, and how are you planning for that future?
  • What would be the most immediate challenges you would address in your first three months as mayor?
  • What are Tulsa's most important assets?
  • What have been the city's successes in the last four years?
  • What would you say to a CEO considering bringing 600 jobs to Tulsa?
  • Does it make a difference whether a mayor is a Democrat or a Republican?
  • Is it important to have a good working relationship with the Chamber of Commerce?

So far five interviews have been posted:

Nathaniel Booth
Kevin Boggs
Anna Falling
Chris Medlock
John Todd

I was listening to the Pat Campbell Show on 1170 KFAQ this morning. He spent about four minutes at the end of the 7 a.m. hour talking about people who think he's "in the bag" for Dewey Bartlett, Jr., the candidate for mayor who endorsed incumbent Democrat Kathy Taylor for election in 2006 and for re-election this year, before she dropped out of the race. Campbell poked fun at the notion that the number of ads purchased by the Bartlett campaign on the station would influence his choice for mayor. As he correctly pointed out, he doesn't have anything to do with any ads other than those that carry his endorsement. (Here's a direct link to Pat Campbell's 7 a.m. hour for August 20, 2009. The clip in question begins at 28:53 and runs to the end.)

I suspect that most people who are dissatisfied with Campbell's coverage of the city election understand that he has no control over the ads. In fact, as I understand it, broadcast stations have to offer their lowest rate to political candidates, displacing more lucrative ads for, say, a bank or a retail establishment. I doubt that political ads are highly coveted by broadcast stations.

The dissatisfaction I think has more to do with the relative scarcity of coverage of the city elections as compared to KFAQ's morning show in years past. Looking back over his online archives since the filing period, I see 12 hours with some reference to the Republican mayoral primary out of 71 hours online that involved Campbell, which means, on average, he talked about the race once every other day. Possibly skewing the stats: Campbell took a week off, some hours are missing from the archive, and it may be that mayoral politics came up in an hour, but it wasn't noted in the archive description.

Of those 12 hours, two involved Anna Falling's publicity event involving the proposed creation exhibit at the zoo. In two of the 12 hours, the mayoral discussion involved interviews with candidates with very little support. For two of the 12 hours, Campbell was schooled by his listeners on the significance of Bartlett's praise and TAIT board vote for the Great Plains Airlines giveaway after he downplayed its importance. Another hour was spent with Terry Simonson, who has endorsed Bartlett and who is the spokesman for the Tulsa County Commission.

There's some silly speculation that Campbell is taking it easy on Bartlett because he hopes to have him on as a guest if he wins the mayor's race. I give Pat more credit than that. Pat Campbell has been around long enough to understand that if someone won't come on your show when he's a candidate, when he has the strongest incentive to reach out to your listeners, he certainly won't bother once he's safely in office.

Bartlett hasn't been on KFAQ since June 29. Toward end of that interview (about 14:20 into the podcast of Pat Campbell's June 29, 2009, 8 a.m. hour), Bartlett's first and only appearance on the station as a candidate, Campbell complained about Kathy Taylor's ongoing refusal to come on his program and expressed hope that Bartlett would be back. Bartlett gave his word -- starting at 15:50 -- that he would give Campbell the accessibility that he seeks. And at the very end of the interview (about 20:00 in), Campbell said, "Let's get you back again soon. Maybe next time around we'll throw open the phones, take some calls as well." Bartlett's reply: "Pat, it's been a real treat to get to know you, get to know your listeners, and I guarantee I'll be back."

Bartlett hasn't been back, and it's surprising that Campbell hasn't called him out on breaking his promise. In years past, KFAQ listeners were accustomed to hearing the morning host challenge a politician who was avoiding the show and dodging tough questions. Campbell has often denounced the practices of his predecessors -- he did again during his interview with Bartlett -- but many Tulsa voters appreciated having someone in a position of influence using that platform to hold politicians to account for their words and deeds. It's why KFAQ's morning show surpassed the erstwhile king of the morning airwaves.

Courtesy and civility are much to be desired, but slavishly seeking them at the expense of truth and transparency can turn you into an enabler of evasive politicians, even if you don't intend that result.

A question for Mr. Campbell: You say that politicians avoided KFAQ because your predecessors were discourteous to them. You've been as nice as you can be to Dewey Bartlett, Jr., so why is he avoiding your program? Is it possible the pols who wouldn't come on the air with your predecessors were really just trying to avoid accountability? Is it possible that Dewey Bartlett, Jr., is doing the same thing?

There are a lot of tough questions that Bartlett seems to be avoiding.

Bartlett voted and spoke in support of Mayor Kathy Taylor's scheme to put Tulsa taxpayers on the hook for paying Bank of Oklahoma $7.1 million that the City of Tulsa did not owe. Back when Mayor Bill LaFortune tried the same thing, Chris Medlock was part of a coalition of city councilors that blocked his efforts, despite persistent wooing of the councilors by BOk officials.

Bartlett not only endorsed Democrat Kathy Taylor for election in 2006, he endorsed her for re-election this year, despite her heavy-handed, non-collaborative leadership style and her unilaterally putting the City of Tulsa on the record against gun rights and in support of climate junk science. Taylor joined New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's mayors' coalition that sought to eliminate the Tiahrt Amendment and to boost lawsuits against gun manufacturers. I'm sure that Pat Campbell, a fervent supporter of the Second Amendment, understands the chilling effect of those efforts. Taylor also pledged that Tulsa city government would implement the provisions of the Kyoto Treaty, an extreme economy-killing document that not even Bill Clinton tried to ratify.

Why would Bartlett, who claims to be a conservative Republican, endorse the re-election of a mayor that put Tulsa's name on the line in support of such left wing causes? Even if a radio talk show host isn't moved by local issues, these are national issues that speak to a candidate's ideology and character. If you don't like the mushy moderate RINOs in the U. S. Senate, wouldn't it bug you to death that the GOP standard-bearer for mayor of your city might be cut from the same cloth?

An exchange between Pat Campbell and a caller to the program last week may also have fueled the "in the bag" speculation. In the third hour of the August 13 show (starting at 22:57), Joe Conner raised the issue of family values, complaining that Bartlett is representing himself as a strong family man despite his divorce and remarriage: "Bartlett is pushing family values, but yet he's a divorced man." In response, Campbell loudly made light of the issue, saying that we have pastors in town who have divorced and remarried and suggesting that any concerns about a candidate's marital history belong to 1955, not 2009. ("Do you have a calendar, Joe?") After quickly cutting Conner off, Campbell asked his producer to "clue me in [about callers], say 'East of the Rockies, East of the Rockies,'" an allusion to Art Bell's "Coast to Coast AM," an overnight radio talk show devoted to X Files-type material. The implication was that Conner must be wearing a tinfoil hat to want to talk about Dewey Bartlett's divorce.

While it's true that divorce and remarriage have become very common in the Christian community, devoutly religious Oklahomans still take marriage vows seriously. The Roman Catholic Church, of which Pat Campbell and Joe Conner are both adherents and in which Dewey Bartlett, Jr., was raised, regards marriage as permanent and indissoluble, and those who divorce and remarry are forbidden to receive communion. (See this discussion on the website of the Diocese of Lincoln, Neb. Protestants who take a less sacramental view of the Lord's Supper may not appreciate the eternal implications of excommunication for a Catholic.) Many evangelical churches will exclude divorced men from leadership. In the conservative Presbyterian Church in America, only adultery, abuse, and abandonment are considered valid scriptural grounds for divorce, and in the PCA congregation to which I belong, members who have abandoned their families for a new relationship have been excommunicated and leaders in that situation have been kicked out of office and excommunicated.

Even someone without a religious faith who has ethical standards will judge a divorced person's character based on the context of the divorce. Someone who dumps the mother of his children for a trophy wife will be judged far more harshly than someone who leaves a drug-addicted spouse who refuses to get help.

I have voted for, volunteered for, and endorsed divorced and remarried candidates, but the context and circumstances of the divorce matter to me and a lot of other voters. It says something positive about a candidate if his ex-wife endorses him enthusiastically. On the other hand, in the 2004 Illinois Senate race, voters abandoned Barack Obama's leading Democratic primary rival, Blair Hull, and the Republican nominee, Jack Ryan, because of their ex-wives' sworn testimony about their character and conduct. And I will never again support Newt Gingrich for public office because of his acknowledged pattern of sleeping with wife N+1 while still married to wife N.

Dismissing and ridiculing the divorce issue as loudly as he did undoubtedly gave some listeners the impression that Pat Campbell was trying to protect Bartlett from potential political damage.

Over the years, KFAQ listeners have come to expect in-depth, serious discussion of local issues, grounded in a clear moral sense of right and wrong, and pointing toward effective action -- "standing up for what's right." What they're hoping for, I believe, is a strong daily focus on Tulsa's city elections, particularly the race for mayor in our strong-mayor form of government, a thorough examination of the records of the leading candidates, and a chance to confront the leading candidates with tough questions.

About a year ago, during the Tulsa County Commission District 2 Republican primary race between incumbent Randi Miller and challenger Sally Bell, Pat Campbell rightfully chided me for predicting that Miller wouldn't show up to a debate with Bell. She did, and Campbell did a fine job of conducting a debate between the two. If he would arrange a head-to-head debate and challenge the two* leading Republican mayoral candidates to participate, it would give KFAQ listeners (current and former) the kind of substance they're seeking, it would demolish any suspicion that the station or the host is trying to protect Bartlett from scrutiny, and it would make for some lively and fascinating radio.

*NOTE: I will provide my rationale for this conclusion in a later post, but it's my sense that of the Republican primary contenders only Bartlett and Medlock have built a support base beyond immediate family and close friends.

Republican voters are being overwhelmed with automated polling calls about the Tulsa mayor's race, according to complaints received by the Tulsa County Republican headquarters. Who is responsible? Chris Medlock says it isn't his campaign:

Former two term City Councilman and Conservative Radio Talk Show Host Chris Medlock states that neither he, his campaign, or any person or firm associated with his campaign is running the annoying computer calls to Republican voters in Tulsa. For the past three weeks voters of Tulsa have been complaining to the Medlock for Mayor campaign, as well as the Tulsa Republican Party, about receiving up to ten calls a day, every day, from a computer asking who they will be voting for in the Republican Party primary for Mayor on September 8. Voters are given four choices including Dewey Bartlett, Jr. and Chris Medlock.

Medlock stated, "Tulsa Republican voters are justifiably angry at the annoying and repetitive use of Robo-Polling. One of my Republican opponents has spent at least $30,000 with out-of-state paid consultants which irritate voters. They should do like my campaign and rely on volunteers from right here in Tulsa County to get their message out. The harassment of Republican voters by one campaign can only hurt our party's image, and as the unquestionable conservative Republican in this race I will defend their right to privacy."

I'm told that the other two candidates mentioned in the poll are Anna Falling and Norris Streetman. Dewey Bartlett, Jr., is likely the only candidate with the money to fund such frequent and persistent polling, but you'd think he could afford better advice on when and how often to poll. Perhaps the intent is to run an ongoing tracking poll.

I'm hoping that some polling firm will run a poll and release the results to the public. Without a runoff, it's going to be very important for voters to know which candidates actually stand a chance of winning. Maybe I'll run my own poll.


Tulsa County Republican Party chairman Sally Bell is very upset at the robo-polling and wants everyone to know that the county party is NOT doing the polling and that she is doing everything she can to find out who is responsible and to put a stop to it.

A friend who is one of the frequently robo-polled victims says the calls are coming from Columbus, Ohio.

A knowledgeable reader suggests that this is not a true poll, but a voter ID program -- an attempt to survey as many likely Republican voters as possible to determine which voter is supporting which candidate. Assuming that the calls are coming from the Bartlett campaign, what happens next depends on the answer you give:

Those who say they are voting for Bartlett will not be contacted again by the campaign unless it is for voter turnout. Maybe they will get a call about absentee voting, but more likely, they will be called the Monday before the election and asked if they need a ride to go to the polls.

Medlock/Falling/Streetman voters will get mail negative about their candidate of choice.

Undecided voters will get mail positive about Bartlett and will be continually recalled until they commit. And, if the campaign gets desperate enough, they will get negative mail about Medlock.

This reader suggests one other possibility: Likely Democratic nominee Tom Adelson is doing voter ID so that he can reach out to the losing candidates' supporters after the primary. I could see doing one such survey for such a purpose, but not surveying so many people so often for that reason.

As annoying as these calls are, I'd encourage you to say that you're undecided, and then email me at blog at batesline dot com, and let me know what kind of phone calls and mailers you're receiving from the campaigns.

As a general rule, I'd like to know as soon as you get any sort of contact from any of the campaigns or receive a poll or survey call in a hotly-contested race. Don't worry about pestering me, just email me at blog at batesline dot com. One friend who has worked on campaigns in the past takes detailed notes when a pollster calls and then sends them along to me. As a political nerd, I love that, and it helps me get a clearer picture of the state of the race.

KWGS-FM 89.5 will air a debate between the candidates for Tulsa City Council, District 8, tomorrow, Tuesday, August 18, 2009, at 11:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. on Studio Tulsa, the station's daily public affairs program.

This is an interesting race: Incumbent Bill Christiansen, first elected in 2002, is seeking a fifth term. He has two challengers, both serious: Phil Lakin, the head of the Tulsa Community Foundation and a trustee of the George Kaiser Family Foundation, and Scott Grizzle, the president of the executive board of TulsaNow. No Democrat filed, so the winner of the primary will be elected to the City Council.

The debate is sponsored by the Downtown Tulsa Kiwanis Club and will be recorded today at 12:30 as part of the club's weekly luncheon at First Methodist Church. News director John Durkee will moderate the debate.

Conservative weekly newspaper the Tulsa Beacon has endorsed Chris Medlock for Mayor of Tulsa. The editorial in the August 13, 2009, edition has positive things to say about three of Medlock's rivals for the Republican nomination -- Anna Falling, David O'Connor, and Kevin Boggs, but urges conservative Republican voters to unite behind the conservative candidate with the best chance of winning the primary and general elections, so as not to split the conservative vote and allow a non-conservative to prevail with less than a majority.

It's a shame that Medlock, Falling, O'Connor and Boggs couldn't pick a candidate and put their combined support behind him or her. That didn't happen and the result was the splintering of conservative support. The beneficiary has to be Bartlett, who, if he wins the primary, will be beaten by Adelson for a second time (Sen. Adelson beat him in a race in 2004).

The Tulsa Beacon could endorse Medlock, Falling, O'Connor or Boggs. They are all fine candidates.
We do endorse Chris Medlock.

Medlock has a record of standing up for what is right. He will resist the "shadow government" and confront the liberal media. He has experience in how government runs and he is a fiscal conservative.

He has the best chance of emerging from the primary with a win over Bartlett and is the best hope to defeat Adelson.

We recommend that you vote for Chris Medlock on Sept. 8.

Regarding Bartlett, the Beacon editorial says:

Conservative Republicans can easily mark Dewey Bartlett, Jr., off their list. He is a liberal big spender (he promoted a $2 billion tax increase) and he was an outspoken supporter of Mayor Kathy Taylor, perhaps the most liberal mayor in Tulsa history. Taylor named Bartlett to the airport trust, where he faithfully did her bidding by voting to give the Bank of Oklahoma $7.1 million in a settlement over Great Plains Airlines.

If he were an honest politician, Bartlett would switch parties and run as a Democrat.

The problem with this winner-take-all primary is that conservatives have several good candidates that might split the vote while Bartlett will get all the liberal, country club Republican votes from Midtown/Downtown.

MORE: The Medlock for Mayor website has been relaunched, including a new issues page with a series of short YouTube videos setting out Chris Medlock's positions on crime, downtown, taxation, regionalism, the city budget, eminent domain, and government transparency, among other issues.

In a recent blog post, Steven Roemerman scrutinizes mayoral candidate Dewey Bartlett Jr.'s claim that business experience is an important qualification for running for mayor. Bartlett cited Mayor Kathy Taylor's business experience as the motivation for his endorsement of her (presumably referring both to his 2006 endorsement and Dewey Bartlett's 2009 endorsement of Kathy Taylor).

Roemerman cites three reasons why running a city government is and should be nothing like running a business. A city's purpose is not profit but providing services for the citizens; the CEO's power is deliberately limited, balanced by the City Council; and a city doesn't have stockholders with varying percentages of ownership, but citizens with (what should be) an equal voice. He writes that Taylor's "business-like" approach to decision making has caused some problems:

Tulsa is NOT a business. The Mayor's power is balanced by the council. They are elected to their position the same as the mayor and are due respect. We have seen what happens when the Mayor pretends to be the CEO of the city. Kathy Taylor rules in a way that keeps the council in the dark; forcing their hand without adequate time to weigh an issue. We have seen this with the 7.1 million dollar pay out to BOK to settle the Great Planes Airlines issue and with the Ball Park assessment district. She expects, much the way a CEO might, that when she sets a course everyone will fall in line without question. Presumably since Bartlett seems to be in love with Kathy Taylor's style, and thinks that the City should be run like a corporation, he will rule in much the same way.

Steven makes a good point, but beyond that, I'm not sure how applicable small business experience is to running City Hall. While it's certainly valuable to have an understanding of the challenges faced by small business, the management skills required to oversee the work of 4,000 employees (about the number that work for the City of Tulsa) are a couple of orders of magnitude more complex than running a small business with about 10 employees. In searching online news archives, 10 is the biggest number that I've seen cited as the number of employees of Keener Oil, the company founded by the junior Bartlett's grandfather. The company's website currently lists eight employees, plus, on the associates and relationships page, three attorneys, a CPA, a geologist, a bank, and an insurance company. While small businesses of this size are the backbone of our economy, I don't think that running a business of this size really gives you a leg up when it comes to overseeing a city bureaucracy.

(Another way the city isn't like a business: In Oklahoma, employees of private companies serve at will and can be fired for any reason. Nearly all city employees, including most of the heads of departments, are protected by civil service.)

For his part, Steven Roemerman thinks that Chris Medlock's recent service on the City Council gives him the most recent, relevant experience to prepare him to serve as mayor:

Chris has the experience necessary for this job. As a two term city councilor, he understands the budget process; he has had to deal with the problems with a city in economic turmoil, with furloughs, and budget problems. As a talk show host on the radio, Chris's job was to listen to, and understand our needs and feelings. The Chris Medlock show was an opportunity for us to partner with him to keep the politicians at Tulsa City Hall accountable for their actions. He gave us a voice, and he wants to do it again as Tulsa's Mayor.

MORE: Roemerman asks Chris Medlock campaign volunteers why they're supporting him for Mayor of Tulsa.

On Tuesday, the Republican Women's Club of Tulsa County hosted a mayoral candidate forum. Six GOP candidates were in attendance: Dewey Bartlett, Jr., Chris Medlock, Kevin Boggs, Nathaniel Booth, Anna Falling, and Norris Streetman.

During the candidates' opening statements, Medlock referred to Bartlett as the poster boy for "Republicans for Kathy Taylor," referring to Bartlett's endorsement of the Democrat in 2006 and 2009. Bartlett's endorsement appeared prominently at the top of the Republicans for Kathy web page prior to Taylor's decision not to seek re-election.

The highlight of the event was the Q & A period.

As far as I am aware, Dewey Bartlett, Jr., has yet to participate in a public forum where he would face questions specific to him about his record. At the Tulsa Republican Club meeting last month, questions were taken on cards, and audience members were advised to ask only those questions that could be answered by all the candidates. The same sort of request was made of potential questioners at this forum. It's as if they think his record -- his involvement in Tulsans for Better Government, his endorsement of Kathy Taylor for Mayor in 2006 and 2009, his praise for Kathy Taylor's Great Plains lawsuit deal that made Tulsa taxpayers pay back money they didn't owe for the airline's default -- can't stand up to public scrutiny.

At this forum, the audience was allowed to ask questions directly of the panel of candidates, unscreened.

Tulsa County Republican Party Chairman Sally Bell asked the candidates to give their opinion on the proposed charter amendment to make city elections non-partisan. All of the candidates expressed opposition to the idea, with the exception of Bartlett who gave a rambling answer that had him straddling the fence.

"Well, it's an interesting question. There's two sides to it. When you see what has happened in Oklahoma City, they approach things in a non-partisan basis and they've done pretty well. I think the underlying question should be are we really electing good people. That really is our responsibility as citizens of Tulsa. We have to elect good people. We have to spend the time to evaluate their position, see what they're up to. I think that partisan politics is very, very good. It sort of kind of cuts down and makes a position very well known. Unfortunately we have a lawsuit, so it depends on forcing the lawsuits on which position is going to be the one that comes out. Is it unfettered non-partisanship or is it partisanship with just a few ideas or some qualification. That's the difficult part. So yes, non-partisan question, er, excuse me, non-partisan elections are a good idea, but at the end of the day partisanship is how we differentiate."

In fact, the lawsuit, filed by Councilor John Eagleton, will not affect the substance of the proposed charter amendment, contrary to what Bartlett seems to be saying. Its outcome will determine only whether the amendment will be on the ballot or not. Bartlett's last sentence is almost impossible to parse. Is Bartlett saying that non-partisan elections are a good idea because they would prevent voters from differentiating between candidates?

Chris Medlock praised Eagleton for filing his lawsuit. "I wish Councilor Eagleton was here today so we all could give him a round of applause for the lawsuit he filed...." Medlock described the non-partisan election concept: "It is not allowing Republicans to run as Republicans. I'm against that. I'm against not allowing Democrats to run as Democrats. Party, as I said, party matters."

Medlock went on to note that the organization backing non-partisan elections, Tulsans for Better Government, was formed to push the idea of reducing the number of council districts from 9 to 6 and adding three at-large seats on the council each to be elected by the city as a whole. "Those of you who have been concerned about the same group of people running this people for the last twenty years, thirty years, will realize what that was about." Medlock pointed out that Bartlett "was a charter member of that organization."

(There is a way to allow Democrats to run as Democrats and Republicans run as Republicans while solving the problem we currently have: Many voters in many districts have no effective voice, and in some cases, no voice whatsoever, in the choice of their city councilors. You can do this with what I've called multi-partisan elections and instant runoff voting.)

I went up to ask a question about Kathy Taylor's authoritarian leadership style, her habit of working deals behind the scenes and then dropping them on the City Council, insisting that they must act immediately. I cited the ballpark assessment district as an example. I asked the candidates whether they would emulate that style of leadership, and if not, why would you endorse Kathy Taylor for re-election as Dewey Bartlett, Jr., did. The MC, Dierdre Rees, asked "Does someone know what the question was?" so I went back up and repeated the last part of it. (After the meeting, Rees told me that she didn't mean to be rude with her comment. She said she had "spaced out" and missed hearing the question, and that it was clearer when I rephrased it.)

Bartlett was the first to respond, and it seemed as if he was starting to answer my question about his endorsement of Kathy Taylor. "It's very simple. At the time, at the point in t...." But he caught himself, and instead addressed the question of leadership style, using it as a pretext for criticizing the idea, espoused by Chris Medlock, of hiring a city manager, claiming that a city manager would be less accountable and transparent than a strong mayor.

After Bartlett's answer there were audible comments from throughout the room that "he didn't answer the question."

To go back to Bartlett's objection to the idea of a city manager: Tulsa has had city managers in all but name under our current charter, with people like Bob Lemons, Charles Hardt, Sam Roop, Allen LaCroix, and others serving under titles like Chief Administrative Officer and Chief Operating Officer in the Savage and LaFortune administrations, in addition to serving as heads of departments under civil service protection. The only difference between that and a city manager is that the role is divided among two or more "chiefs." No mayor, under our current charter, has been directly engaged in the day-to-day management of the basic operations of city government. A city manager that served at the pleasure of the mayor and council would be more accountable to the public than the current arrangement, in which department heads are protected under civil service and are almost impossible to remove.

Two TV stations covered the event: KJRH and KOTV. Both stations' reports focused on Bartlett's endorsement of Taylor.

Here are the news stories. I've put the embedded video after the jump, as it plays havoc with some browsers. The video includes both stations' stories, plus video from Steven Roemerman of Bartlett's and Medlock's responses to Sally Bell's question about non-partisan elections and my question about Kathy Taylor's leadership style and Bartlett's endorsement of Taylor.

KJRH: Medlock targets Bartlett at mayoral forum

KOTV: GOP women host candidates for Tulsa Mayor (The KOTV story includes "web extra" videos of each candidate giving introductory remarks.)

Former Tulsa City Councilor Anna Falling, a Republican candidate for mayor, has announced plans for a news conference tomorrow afternoon at 4:15 at the Tulsa Zoo to protest the Tulsa Park Board's decision several years ago, during Mayor Bill LaFortune's administration several years ago not to permit a privately funded display on the biblical view of creation at the zoo. The board had initially approved the display in light of other displays of non-Christian religions (e.g., a Ganesha idol outside the elephant enclosure, the giant globe with a pantheistic slogan just inside the zoo entrance), then reversed itself.

Falling's press release concludes:

This Tuesday (Aug 11) at 4:15 pm, Anna Falling and dozens of supporters will come to the Tulsa Zoo to stand for this display to honor God and recognize the Christian roots of Tulsa.

I strongly agree with the notion of equal access. If a public place is going to prominently display religious views of the relationship between man and beast, the Christian view shouldn't be excluded. A mayor should appoint members of the parks board who will be even-handed in allowing use of publicly funded facilities for religious purposes.

Personally, I think zoos and natural history museums should stay away from matters cosmological and religious and should drop the heavy-handed evolutionary speculation that infests many exhibits. Tell us what the animal is called, what it eats, where it lives, how it interacts with its native habitat, and other observable information about the animal, but spare us your current guesswork about its ancient ancestors.

All that said, it surprises me that the Falling campaign is choosing this issue as its first publicized media event since the campaign was launched. Taxes, infrastructure, funding for public safety, land-use planning -- these are the issues that the next mayor will have to address right away.

This afternoon, Tulsa City Councilor John Eagleton filed a lawsuit in Tulsa County District Court, challenging the validity of the petition seeking non-partisan elections. More details as they are available.

Rick Westcott responds

| | TrackBacks (0)

Tulsa District 2 City Councilor Rick Westcott is using his blog to provide detailed rationales for his positions on some controversial issues, one of which resulted in him and other councilors being denounced by Mayor Kathy Taylor on a live CNN interview.

The latest entry addresses the concern that Westcott and other councilors have that accepting Federal money to hire police officers will cost the city money it can't afford. Taylor has accused these councilors of acting out of a desire for partisan advantage. Taylor claimed on the CNN interview that the City wouldn't be out any money by having to continue to fund the 18 positions in the fourth year, following the federal three year grant, because it would have to hire that many officers to replace retiring officers anyway.

Westcott has read through the Federal government's documentation for cities seeking the grant and finds that Kathy Taylor is wrong and gives chapter and verse to back up his finding:

One of the arguments in favor of accepting the grant money is that the City of Tulsa loses about 36 officers per year through normal attrition. Over the next three years, if we don't fill all of those positions, we will save enough money to pay the fourth year for the grant-funded officers.

But, the federal government's "Owner's Manual" says that we can't do that. If we do, we'd be in violation of the terms of the grant.

Section 5 of the "Owner's Manual" is called "Retention." The first paragraph says:

"At the time of grant application, your agency committed to retaining all sworn officer positions awarded under the CHRP grant with state and/or local funds for a minimum of 12 months following the conclusion of 36 months of federal funding for each position, over and above the number of locally-funded sworn officer positions that would have existed in the absence of the grant. Your agency cannot satisfy the retention requirement by using CHRP-funded positions to fill locally-funded vacancies resulting from attrition."

In earlier entries, Westcott has discussed his vote on the downtown ballpark assessment and his vote to delay the final vote on the city budget. (It wasn't a vote to layoff dozens of police officers and firefighters.)

To help you keep up with his latest entries, I've added Westcott's blog to my BatesLine Oklahoma headlines page.

Last week I wrote a piece correcting the history of Tulsans for Better Government and the three charter changes recommended by the Citizens' Commission on City Government. In that entry, I quoted a statement in the Citizens' Commission report that some of the commissioners preferred my notion of multi-partisan city elections to non-partisan elections. A commenter asked for more information on the idea, so here it is.

In short, a multi-partisan election gives voters information about the candidates by allowing the candidate a choice of labels to appear next to his or her name. That might be a national party label, or it might be the name of a strictly local political grouping. The idea differs from our current system, in which only a national party label may appear (which may not paint an accurate picture of a candidate's platform on local issues), and the proposed non-partisan system, in which no label whatsoever would appear (providing the voter no information at all about the candidate's affiliations and ideas).

This system is in use in the United Kingdom, where candidates for local councils may run as a Labourite or a Conservative, but often run under a strictly local party banner. Minneapolis has had such a system for many years, and the city recently adopted Instant Runoff Voting to improve the voters' control over electing their preference from a group of three or more candidates. Minneapolis allows each candidate a three-word ballot label expressing his or her "political party or political principle."


I set out a detailed multi-partisan election proposal for Tulsa in an April 5, 2006, column.

Councilor John Eagleton promoted the idea back in 2007. When the Tulsa Whirled published an inane editorial ridiculing multi-partisan elections, I wrote this response.

There's a fundraiser and voter registration drive this Saturday afternoon for Rocky Frisco, Republican candidate for Tulsa District 4 City Councilor. Here are the details:

Rocky Frisco fundraiser and voter registration drive
Saturday, August 8, 2009
1 p.m.
Ed's Hurricane Lounge
3216 E. 11th St.

As befits a candidate who also happens to be a veteran musician, several Tulsa bands will be playing the event.

Rocky Frisco is making a serious run to unseat the incumbent, Eric Gomez, and it appears that he has the most detailed and thoughtful website of any candidate in this election. Here's a snippet from his home page that gives you a sense of what he's all about:

If you recall Jonathan Swift's Tale in "Gulliver's Travels" of the encounter with the Lilliputians, the tiny humans were able to capture and imprison the (to them) enormous Gulliver by tying him to the ground with millions of microscopic insubstantial threads. That's the mental image I have of modern government, meddling and micromanaging our lives in areas where they have no business doing so. In an era where the federal government has refused to honor the limitations of the Constitution and Bill of Rights and continually illegally steers the nation all over the road, like a drunk driver, maybe I can make a difference regarding our liberty in my local area. It's the old Sunday School concept of "brighten the corner where you are."

How does that apply to Tulsa?

The Tulsa City Government is, far too much, about money and who gets it and what's done with it, not about serving the taxpayers, voters and residents. I personally find it ludicrous for them to spend enormous amounts of money on sports arenas and mega-entertainment venues when our streets are like a battle-zone and repairs need to be re-repaired after just a year or two on a regular basis. Who thought it wise to lay enormous tax increases on people and businesses in the downtown area as part of this "renewal?" I see too many unintended consequences following the decisions of the current City Government. When will the City Government stop shooting the people of our city in the foot, arse and elbow? What I read in the local paper leads me to think the people in City Government think they are our bosses and that they need to run the city is if we are their employees and that Tulsa is in competition with other cities: who has the best sports arenas, parks and entertainment complexes? I see Tulsa as my home town and I want it to be the best home town for the people of Tulsa, not a competitive entity that tramples on their freedom in order to compete with other cities.

As a bit of comic relief on his campaign website, Rocky presents an endorsement from humorist Dave Barry:

"I am proud to endorse Rocky Frisco for Tulsa City Council, District Four. Not only is he a fine community leader, but he's also a heck of a piano player, which would be handy if the Tulsa City Council ever decides to form a band, which it definitely should."

Tulsa mayoral candidate Chris Medlock is hosting an open house at his campaign headquarters tonight from 5:30 to 7:30. The HQ is at 10203-A East 61st Street in the Mingo Valley Trade Center (west of US 169 on 61st St).

If you're running for city office and are planning a volunteer or public event, drop me a line at blog at batesline dot com, I'll consider it for publication here. (Please note that I will post or not at my discretion.)

If you missed it, CNN interviewed Tulsa Mayor Kathy Taylor live regarding the $3.5 million in federal stimulus money granted to the city to fund 18 police positions for three years.

The catch: Tulsa would have to provide funding for a fourth year and would also have to find $840,000 to provide equipment for the officers. Taylor is proposing to take the money from the Tulsa Authority for the Recovery of Energy, the trash trust that ran the now-defunct trash-to-energy plant. Taylor told CNN that "we" (the City, evidently) gave TARE $10 million "about 20 years ago."

Off the top of my head, I'd guess the City has given hundreds of millions, via the Third Penny, to fund capital projects for the Tulsa Metropolitan Utility Authority. Maybe some of those funds now for general fund purposes.

Taylor says the fourth year of funding isn't an issues, as we'd have to fund replacements for retiring officers anyway. On the face of it, that doesn't seem like that would meet federal conditions. Wouldn't Tulsa need to maintain the current number of positions through the fourth year? She seems to be saying that it doesn't matter how many officers retire or are let go, as long as we hire 18 more and keep those 18 on staff through the fourth year.

When asked about City Council concerns over whether Tulsa could afford the strings attached to this money, Taylor replied, "I think a few councilors are playing politics with this money." This is Taylor's standard answer when a councilor doesn't bend to her will. But what political gain would come from refusing federal funds for police officers? Why would you risk the political hit from opposing the money unless you felt it was important? Anyway, didn't Taylor eliminate politics from the budget process when she decided not to run for re-election?

(Video posted at My Tulsa World.)

Kathy Taylor's decision to denounce city councilors on a national news network is just one more example of her contempt for the legislative branch of city government. It certainly would be welcome to have a mayor that treated the City Council with due respect, as partners instead of pests.

MORE: Here's Councilor Rick Westcott's interview from last Thursday's Pat Campbell show on why accepting the stimulus money is a bad idea for Tulsa.

Still too swamped for a detailed analytical post, but I must at least point out the misstatements at the end of last Friday's story in the daily about the initiative petition filed by Tulsans for Better Government in support of a charter change for non-partisan elections. The original web story was more accurate than the version published on July 31. Tulsans for Better Government existed before the Citizens' Commission on City Government was formed, and the City Council did not ignore all of the commission's recommendations -- one of the three recommendations (fall elections) has already been approved by the voters and a second (appointed city auditor) will be on November's ballot. The third -- non-partisan elections -- did not have the unanimous support of the commission.

Tulsans for Better Government was actually formed in 2005 to promote the idea of at-large councilors -- reducing the number of districts from nine to six and adding three at-large seats. The effort was a reaction to a City Council with a majority of councilors who actually sought to represent the interests of their districts. It was seen as an attempt to boost representation for the wealthier sections of Tulsa -- under the old at-large commission system, nearly all city officials came from the Money Belt -- and to strip political power from the north, east, and west Tulsa. Dewey Bartlett Jr. and Mayor Kathy Taylor lent their names to the cause as members of the advisory board. The group circulated an initiative petition in support of their proposal.

Tulsans for Better Government suspended its petition effort when Mayor Bill LaFortune announced the formation of a "Citizens' Commission on City Government," assigned to study the City Charter, including terms and number of councilors, partisanship, etc. In their final report, the commission strongly rejected Tulsans for Badder Government's at-large councilor idea. The report made three recommendations, two of which have already been sent to the voters by the City Council, as noted above.

The third recommendation, non-partisan elections, did not enjoy as strong a level of support:

It should be noted that this recommendation is not made unanimously. Some suggested that no change should be made while others embraced an idea advanced by local commentator Michael Bates, known as multi-partisan elections. Still others recommended that the system simply needed technical changes to enable higher participation levels. For example, one thoughtful suggestion was a response to the situation where candidates of only one party file for a council race in a particular district. In those situations, a few task force members recommended that such an election be converted from a primary election to a general election.

More info at the following links:

Coming up next Tuesday:

The Tulsa County Republican Party will sponsor a "MEET AND GREET" for all Republican candidates who are running for a Tulsa City seat in the September 8th primary election.

This event will occur on Tuesday, August 4, 2009 from 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm at Centennial Park, Central Center located at 1028 East 6th Street (two blocks west of Peoria on East 6th Street).

Refreshments will be provided. All candidates have been notified and we look forward to a very informative evening.

This may be your only chance to ask tough questions of Dewey Bartlett, Jr., whom the Karl Ahlgren-Fount Holland team seems to be handling the same way they handled the River Tax campaign -- stay away from debates, stay away from talk radio, and try to win with tons of money and tons of slick advertising.

I'm swamped at the moment, but there's plenty of interesting blogging elsewhere around Tulsa. Here are just a few examples:

Mayoral candidate Chris Medlock writes that the Tulsa World buried the story of his opponent, Dewey Bartlett, Jr., voting in support and praising Kathy Taylor's dodgy settlement on the Great Plains Airlines loan -- a settlement that cost Tulsa taxpayers $7.1 million that they didn't owe (emphasis added):

Dewey Bartlett (R) was named to the Airport Board by Kathy Taylor (D). Kathy Taylor thennames former airport Marketing Director Mary Smith (R) to the Airport Board to replace Carl Clay (R) who was an outspoken critic of the Great Plains/BOk settlement. Mary Smith was part of the team that sold Great Plains Airlines to the public, when they went after and secured $30 million in state tax credits. Mary Smith is now Bartlett's Campaign Treasurer!

Please understand, that what Dewey did was to help the current Democrat mayor (Kathy Taylor) brush under the table the single biggest scandal of the previous Democrat mayor (Susan Savage). The Bartlett campaign team made up two-fifths of the vote that needlessly gave away our property taxes to the tune of $28 for every man, woman and child in the city, and he won't even respond to the Tulsa World, who will do everything to put his response in the most positive of lights? Don't you think it's time for KRMG and KFAQ to invite Bartlett back on the air to respond to this action in this giveaway, as well as his support of Kathy Taylor's re-election before the Republicans had selected a candidate?

Listen to Pat Campbell's interview of Chris Medlock on Dewey Bartlett Jr. and Great Plains from this morning's show.

Steven Roemerman asks whether District 5 council challenger Chris Trail is a carpetbagger. (More about Trail and the District 5 campaign for the seat currently held by Bill Martinson when I have some time to write.)

In non-political news:

Jeff Shaw recommends La Hacienda and has photos of a day at the Tulsa Zoo.

Tyson Wynn has a YouTube video of clips of Bob Wills, going all the way back to performing "Take Me Back to Tulsa" in his first movie, Take Me Back to Oklahoma.

Brandon Dutcher celebrates the appearance of homeschooled college football star Tim Tebow on the cover of Sports Illustrated and links to an article about New Urbanists who are vocal supporters of school choice.

A lot of Tulsans were outraged last summer when Mayor Kathy Taylor allowed the City of Tulsa to be added as a defendant in the Great Plains Airlines loan default case -- the Bank of Oklahoma's suit against the Tulsa Airport Improvements Trust -- then, within less than a day, agreed to settle said suit for $7.1 million. (If you've forgotten what that was all about, click through that link.)

What you may not know is that mayoral candidate Dewey Bartlett and his campaign treasurer, Mary Smith, as members of TAIT, also approved that $7.1 million settlement, with Bartlett praising Mayor Taylor for finding a way to get the City to cough up the money -- money that the City of Tulsa did not owe and money that is being paid by an increase in your property taxes. The Tulsa Beacon has the story in its current issue.

The story provides a quote from Bartlett at the TAIT meeting:

"It's something we need to do and I applaud the mayor and the Bank of Oklahoma for working out a deal... a lot of work went into this thing. It was a waste of energy. It's a new day and that's good news.

Here's the video of the entire seven-minute special meeting. The video has annotations to explain who the people at the meeting are, what they're doing, and the context of financing Great Plains Airlines -- the defunct airline that was supposed to provide non-stop service from Tulsa to both coasts.

Bartlett's question, "Is there any land involved?" is a reference to the original collateral used to secure the loan which BOk guaranteed -- a convoluted deal that the FAA inspector general condemned. There were several different parties that should have taken the financial hit for agreeing to this deal for financing GPA but none of them did. Instead it fell back, unjustly, on Tulsa's taxpayer, thanks to the conniving of the mayor that Dewey Bartlett endorsed for re-election.

The attitude that comes across in the video is, "All that matters is that all the big shots have their butts covered. Who cares about the taxpayer?"

The City of Tulsa election campaign is underway. Municipal races, especially city council races, are driven by grassroots involvement. Candidates need supporters to go door-to-door distributing flyers. They aren't likely to receive massive donations (and you should wonder what's up if they do), so they need lots of small donations to pay for printing and postage. They need people to make phone calls to potential voters. Other needs include yard sign assembly, envelope stuffing, and clerical work. Your favorite candidate may need some help with web and social media skills, too.

Volunteers are needed all the time, but many candidates will hold volunteer events on weekends. Often there is food involved. Always there's camaraderie.

One such event is happening this weekend. The Chris Medlock for Mayor campaign will hold a volunteer rally this Saturday, July 25, 2009, at 11 at Johnson Park, 61st east of Riverside. For more info, contact the campaign via the Medlock for Mayor website.

Jim Mautino, who is trying to recapture his District 6 seat on the City Council from the current seatwarmer, is looking for volunteers -- you can reach him by e-mail at jbmaut at cox dot net.

The three-day filing period for Tulsa's city elections is over.

First of all, congratulations to two of my favorite city councilors. Jack Henderson and John Eagleton were re-elected without opposition.

Of the three councilors unopposed yesterday, Rick Westcott and Bill Christiansen will have a primary, while GT Bynum will face Democrat Roger D. Lowry in the general election. Westcott drew a single opponent, Barton Ralph Rhoades, and Christiansen drew two: Phil Lakin, head of Tulsa Community Foundation and head of the organization building the new downtown Tulsa Drillers ballpark, and Scott Grizzle, who currently serves as president of Tulsa Now.

Former District 4 councilor Maria Barnes drew a primary opponent, Tulsa Metropolitan Area Planning Commissioner Liz Wright. Both parties will have a primary in District 6.

Three more Republicans and three independents filed for Mayor, including perennial candidate Lawrence Kirkpatrick.

Here are the filings, by office and party. TulsaPolitico.com has a list of announced and filed candidates with links to their websites.


David Lee O'Connor, 307 S. 108th East Ave., Tulsa, OK 74128, 04/13/52
Dewey Follett Bartlett Jr., 1235 E. 30th Place, Tulsa, OK 74114, 03/16/47
Paul Alan Roales, 1804 S. 117th E. Ave., Tulsa, OK 74128, 07/03/45
Michael David Tomes Sr., 7937 S. Yale Ave., Apt D, Tulsa, OK 74136, 02/11/48
Norris Stuart Streetman, 4532 East 8th Street, Tulsa, OK 74112, 06/21/56
Kevin Leroy Boggs, 1127 S. 157th East Ave., Tulsa, OK 74108, 08/19/58
Christopher Scott Medlock, 2919 E. 82nd Pl., Tulsa, OK 74137, 12/20/57
John Porter Todd, 8111 E. 93rd #2210, Tulsa, OK 74133, 09/23/47
Nathaniel James Booth, 6820 S. Quincy Ave, Tulsa, OK 74136, 04/05/91
Anna Lara Falling,1947 N. Denver Ave, Tulsa, OK 74106, 09/08/68
Michael Lee Rush, 8956 E. 33rd Pl., Tulsa, OK 74145, 05/21/68

Robert Arizona Gwin Jr., 3113 S. 130th E. Pl., Tulsa, OK 74134, 06/18/73
Paul C. Tay Jr., 4004 S Toledo, Tulsa, OK 74135, 09/01/62
A. Burns, 1210 S. Cheyenne Ave., Tulsa, OK 74119, 12/22/26
Prophet Kelly Lamar Clark Sr., 243 E. 46 N. St, Tulsa, OK 74126, 07/08/72
Tom Adelson 2448 E. 26 Pl, Tulsa, OK 74114, 08/18/65

Cleon Burrell, 2124 N. Norfolk Ave., Tulsa, OK 74106, 02/20/70
Lawrence F Kirkpatrick, 1108 N. Harvard, Tulsa, OK 74115, 09/13/45
Mark Bradley Perkins, 2142 S. Florence Pl., Tulsa, OK. 74114, 11/04/78


Preston Lee Doerflinger, 7915 South Fulton Ave, Tulsa, OK 74136, 04/23/72
Lynn Anthony Ruemler, 7345 S. Sleepy Hollow Dr., Tulsa, OK 74136, 07/12/57

Phil Wood, 3622 S. Yorktown Place, Tulsa, OK 74105, 12/29/24 (incumbent)


Jack Ross Henderson, 2014 N. Rosedale Ave., Tulsa, OK 74101, 04/22/50 (incumbent)


Rick Dalton Westcott, 2508 W. 68 Pl., Tulsa, OK 74132,10/15/54 (incumbent)
Barton Ralph Rhoades, 3133 East 78th Pl., Tulsa, OK 74136, 07/30/51


Karl William Hulcher, 729 N. Delaware Pl., Tulsa, OK 74110, 08/16/62

Roscoe H. Turner Sr., 3415 E. Haskell St., Tulsa, OK 74115, 02/16/32

David Edward Patrick 5712 E. Tecumseh, Tulsa, OK 74115, 04/22/51 (incumbent)


Jason Eric Gomez, 2716 E. 13th, Tulsa, OK 74104, 07/18/69 (incumbent)
Rocky R. Frisco, 1332 South Florence Place, Tulsa, OK 74104, 07/26/37

Maria Veliz Barnes 1319 S. Terrace Dr, Tulsa, OK 74104, 07/28/60
Elizabeth Anne Wright, 1919 S. Florence Ave, Tulsa, OK 74104, 10/20/57


Christopher Eric Trail, 10611 E. 20th Street, Tulsa, OK 74128, 01/29/70
William Edward Martinson, Jr., 3521 S. Darlington Ave., Tulsa, OK 74135, 07/08/55 (incumbent)


James S. Mautino, 14628 E. 12 St., Tulsa, OK 74108, 05/11/32
Tadd Arthur Weese, 5005 S. 188th E. Ave., Tulsa, OK 74134, 08/02/71

Dennis Kurt Troyer, 12811 E. 13th Place, Tulsa, OK 74128, 08/14/40 (incumbent)
Mario Bobbie Choice, 3607 S. 124th E. Ave., Tulsa, OK 74146, 12/30/73


John M. Eagleton, 5748 E. 62nd St., Tulsa, OK 74136, 02/09/59 (incumbent)


William Lee Christiansen, 5106 E. 86th Pl., Tulsa, OK 74137, 12/23/47 (incumbent)
Phillip Lawrence Lakin Jr., 4915 E. 104th Place, Tulsa, OK 74137, 08/05/67
Scott Manuel Grizzle, 7521 S. 68th E. Pl., Tulsa, OK 74133, 07/22/76


G.T. Bynum, 3607 S. Florence Avenue, Tulsa, OK 74015, 08/28/77 (incumbent)

Roger D Lowry, 4623 S. Louis Ave, Tulsa, OK 74105, 07/16/56

The second day of the three day filing period for Tulsa's city elections is over. Four more Republicans and a Democrat filed for Mayor, we'll have a Republican primary for Auditor, and all nine City Councilors have filed for re-election.

Five of the nine councilors -- Henderson, Westcott, Eagleton, Christiansen, and Bynum -- are unopposed. So far, Eric Gomez and Bill Martinson are the only councilors to face primary opposition. Legendary local musician Rocky Frisco, a libertarian-leaning Republican, is running against Gomez. Chris Trail, owner of Ike's Chili Parlor, is running against Martinson. David Patrick, the District 3 incumbent who had been elected in 1996, 1998, and 2002 as a Democrat, and in 2008 as an independent, has filed once again as an independent.

Depending on how the primaries turn out, the general election could have three rematches of previous elections: Turner vs. Patrick in District 3, Barnes vs. Gomez in District 4, and Mautino vs. Troyer in District 6.

Democrat State Sen. Tom Adelson and Republican former City Councilor Chris Medlock, both previously announced candidates, filed today. Anna Falling announced her candidacy for Mayor this morning but did not file today. She is the only announced mayoral candidate yet to file.

Here are the filings through today, by office and party. TulsaPolitico.com has a list of announced and filed candidates with links to their websites.


David Lee O'Connor, 307 S. 108th East Ave., Tulsa, OK 74128, 04/13/52
Dewey Follett Bartlett Jr., 1235 E. 30th Place, Tulsa, OK 74114, 03/16/47
Paul Alan Roales, 1804 S. 117th E. Ave., Tulsa, OK 74128, 07/03/45
Michael David Tomes Sr., 7937 S. Yale Ave., Apt D, Tulsa, OK 74136, 02/11/48
Norris Stuart Streetman, 4532 East 8th Street, Tulsa, OK 74112, 06/21/56
Kevin Leroy Boggs, 1127 S. 157th East Ave., Tulsa, OK 74108, 08/19/58
Christopher Scott Medlock, 2919 E. 82nd Pl., Tulsa, OK 74137, 12/20/57
John Porter Todd, 8111 E. 93rd #2210, Tulsa, OK 74133, 09/23/47

Robert Arizona Gwin Jr., 3113 S. 130th E. Pl., Tulsa, OK 74134, 06/18/73
Paul C. Tay Jr., 4004 S Toledo, Tulsa, OK 74135, 09/01/62
A. Burns, 1210 S. Cheyenne Ave., Tulsa, OK 74119, 12/22/26
Prophet Kelly Lamar Clark Sr., 243 E. 46 N. St, Tulsa, OK 74126, 07/08/72
Tom Adelson 2448 E. 26 Pl, Tulsa, OK 74114, 08/18/65


Preston Lee Doerflinger, 7915 South Fulton Ave, Tulsa, OK 74136, 04/23/72
Lynn Anthony Ruemler, 7345 S. Sleepy Hollow Dr., Tulsa, OK 74136, 07/12/57

Phil Wood, 3622 S. Yorktown Place, Tulsa, OK 74105, 12/29/24 (incumbent)


Jack Ross Henderson, 2014 N. Rosedale Ave., Tulsa, OK 74101, 04/22/50 (incumbent)


Rick Dalton Westcott, 2508 W. 68 Pl., Tulsa, OK 74132,10/15/54 (incumbent)


Karl William Hulcher, 729 N. Delaware Pl., Tulsa, OK 74110, 08/16/62

Roscoe H. Turner Sr., 3415 E. Haskell St., Tulsa, OK 74115, 02/16/32

David Edward Patrick 5712 E. Tecumseh, Tulsa, OK 74115, 04/22/51 (incumbent)


Jason Eric Gomez, 2716 E. 13th, Tulsa, OK 74104, 07/18/69 (incumbent)
Rocky R. Frisco, 1332 South Florence Place, Tulsa, OK 74104, 07/26/37

Maria Veliz Barnes 1319 S. Terrace Dr, Tulsa, OK 74104, 07/28/60


Christopher Eric Trail, 10611 E. 20th Street, Tulsa, OK 74128, 01/29/70
William Edward Martinson, Jr., 3521 S. Darlington Ave., Tulsa, OK 74135, 07/08/55 (incumbent)


James S. Mautino, 14628 E. 12 St., Tulsa, OK 74108, 05/11/32

Dennis Kurt Troyer, 12811 E. 13th Place, Tulsa, OK 74128, 08/14/40 (incumbent)


John M. Eagleton, 5748 E. 62nd St., Tulsa, OK 74136, 02/09/59 (incumbent)


William Lee Christiansen, 5106 E. 86th Pl., Tulsa, OK 74137 12/23/47 (incumbent)


G.T. Bynum, 3607 S. Florence Avenue, Tulsa, OK 74015, 08/28/77 (incumbent)


Former City Councilor Anna Falling announced her campaign for Mayor of Tulsa at a press conference this morning at North Peoria and Latimer Pl, at the north Tulsa campus of Cornerstone Assistance Network, the ministry founded in 2000 by Falling and her husband Chris Beach. Falling will run in the Republican primary, where she will face two other former city councilors, Dewey Bartlett, Jr., and Chris Medlock.

(Bartlett filed on Monday. Medlock officially filed his candidacy today just before noon.)

Falling served as councilor for District 4 from 1998 to 2000, winning an open seat. She was defeated for re-election in 2002 by the former incumbent, Gary Watts. In 2006, she ran for District 1 County Commissioner, finishing first in a crowded Republican primary but losing the runoff to State Rep. John Smaligo, who went on to unseat incumbent Wilbert Collins.

The backdrop for Falling's announcement was a group of blue-T-shirted volunteers painting a metal-walled warehouse at Latimer Pl. and N. Owasso Ave. which will serve as the Community Sharehouse, the Furniture Bank of Tulsa County. The center connects surplus furniture with those who need it, so they don't have to spend meager resources on "rent-to-own" furniture. According to Beach, the volunteers are young people and sponsors from the Presbyterian Church USA's Synod of the Sun. The organization has provided volunteers for the last several summers to make improvements to CAN's facilities.

During her remarks, Falling listed the difficulties facing the poor in Tulsa and spoke about the development and expansion of CAN, which provides resources and networking to help churches the poor gain self-sufficiency. She said she is running to help mobilize the churches of Tulsa to address the issues at the root of the city's problems:

Tulsa needs a new day, and today I'm announcing my intention to seek the office of mayor to facilitate a new old solution, as churches stand ready to empower their congregations to walk side by side and transform this city from the inside out. Together we can reverse the effects of single-parent homes, crime, poverty, below-average education, bursting budgets, and broken solutions. We cannot take life so lightly. Life is too short. We must embrace our purpose sooner rather than later. Join me today as we look to cultivate a new future for Tulsa.

Asked about controversy during her term on the Council, Falling said, "I love to step on toes, and I will look forward to the opportunity to bring about the right change in this community."

When I asked who was on her campaign team, Falling replied, "God is on my campaign team. How about that, Michael? I have a great crew of people on my campaign team. I have a great group of men and women who have been excited to stand behind me to do this race, and I would welcome any more that would like to do so."

The first day of the three-day filing period for the City of Tulsa's municipal elections is over, and we have eight candidates for mayor (four Democrats and four Republicans), two candidates for auditor, and competitive races in only two council districts so far, with only five of the nine incumbent councilors filing on Monday for re-election.

The Democratic field is so far a collection of perennial candidates: Accountability (Gene) Burns, Paul Tay, Prophet Kelly Clark, and Robert Gwin Jr. Clark and Gwin share the distinction of having run for City Council District 7 as Republicans.

David O'Connor, an east Tulsa resident, is one of the founders of Citizens for Fair and Clean Government.

The Tulsa County Election Board will update the list of candidates each day at 5 p.m. Here is the direct link to the 2009 City of Tulsa list of candidates. (PDF file.) Oddly, it's labeled a list of candidates for the September 8 primary, so it's unclear whether any independents have filed.

As expected, former councilors Roscoe Turner and Maria Barnes, both Democrats, have filed to try to take back their old seats. Turner's nemesis, Councilor David Patrick, did not file today, nor did his colleagues John Eagleton, Dennis Troyer, and Bill Martinson, although as far as I know all are expected to run for re-election.

I did hear an intriguing rumor over the weekend that Bill Martinson may run for auditor. The incumbent, Phil Wood, 85, has been serving since 1988, when he was elected the last auditor under the old charter. Wood runs a small but solid audit department, but I've criticized him for not doing more to publicize the audit department's findings or to campaign for more resources.

J. Bryan Osborne, who announced his intention to run for an open District 8 seat, withdrew following Bill Christiansen's decision not to run for mayor after all but to seek re-election.

Former City Councilor Anna Falling has announced a press conference for tomorrow morning at 10:30. It's unclear whether she plans to run for office or if she is simply taking advantage of the filing period to call attention to a non-governmental initiative. The press release states:

Anna Falling to Host a News Conference
to Discuss the Core Challenges of this Community
and How the Church Can Restore Wholeness

Taking what she has done for nearly a decade and a half - equipping churches to transform lives from poverty to purpose - Anna Falling will announce her intention tomorrow to take that vision to the City of Tulsa to combat problems that have plagued the core of Tulsa for decades.

Saying that it is no longer an option, Anna Falling will communicate that a change must take place to empower the churches of this city, along with other community organizations, to overcome issues that have resulted in greater crime rates, higher government costs, and band-aid decisions that have exasperated problems even worse decade by decade. The City's budget can no longer sustain the problems of this city and the people's remaining wellness cannot continue without a foundational core change in the way our issues are addressed. The City of Tulsa must facilitate congregations of this community to play an official and significant role in transforming our underlying social ills.

Here are the day's filings, by office and party. TulsaPolitico.com has a list of announced and filed candidates with links to their websites.


David Lee O'Connor, 307 S. 108th East Ave., Tulsa, OK 74128, 04/13/52
Dewey Follett Bartlett Jr., 1235 E. 30th Place, Tulsa, OK 74114, 03/16/47
Paul Alan Roales, 1804 S. 117th E. Ave., Tulsa, OK 74128, 07/03/45
Michael David Tomes Sr., 7937 S. Yale Ave., Apt D, Tulsa, OK 74136, 02/11/48

Robert Arizona Gwin Jr., 3113 S. 130th E. Pl., Tulsa, OK 74134, 06/18/73
Paul C. Tay Jr., 4004 S Toledo, Tulsa, OK 74135, 09/01/62
A. Burns, 1210 S. Cheyenne Ave., Tulsa, OK 74119, 12/22/26
Prophet Kelly Lamar Clark Sr., 243 E. 46 N. St, Tulsa, OK 74126, 07/08/72


Phil Wood, 3622 S. Yorktown Place, Tulsa, OK 74105, 12/29/24 (incumbent)

Preston Lee Doerflinger, 7915 South Fulton Ave, Tulsa, OK 74136, 04/23/72


Jack Ross Henderson, 2014 N. Rosedale Ave., Tulsa, OK 74101, 04/22/50 (incumbent)


Rick Dalton Westcott, 2508 W. 68 Pl., Tulsa, OK 74132,10/15/54 (incumbent)


Roscoe H. Turner Sr., 3415 E. Haskell St., Tulsa, OK 74115, 02/16/32

Karl William Hulcher, 729 N. Delaware Pl., Tulsa, OK 74110 08/16/62


Jason Eric Gomez, 2716 E. 13th, Tulsa, OK 74104, 07/18/69 (incumbent)

Maria Veliz Barnes 1319 S. Terrace Dr, Tulsa, OK 74104, 07/28/60


Christopher Eric Trail, 10611 E. 20th Street, Tulsa, OK 74128, 01/29/70




William Lee Christiansen, 5106 E. 86th Pl., Tulsa, OK 74137 12/23/47 (incumbent)


G.T. Bynum, 3607 S. Florence Avenue, Tulsa, OK 74015, 08/28/77 (incumbent)

Clay Clark, a small businessman and Republican candidate for Mayor of Tulsa, issued a press release this morning announcing that he is withdrawing from the race to unify conservative Republican support behind former City Councilor and radio talk show host Chris Medlock:

Announced Republican Mayoral Candidate To Join Medlock Campaign

Clay Clark says he will be teaming up with the Chris Medlock For Mayor Campaign

Tulsa, Oklahoma - With the recent announcement of former city counselor and radio show host Chris Medlock's plans to run for Mayor of Tulsa, Clay Clark has decided to join the Medlock Campaign. "In my attempt to truly put priorities over politics, I feel as though joining the Chris Medlock campaign will provide Tulsa with the best chance to secure conservative leadership in the Mayor's office. After talking with our supporters and directly to Chris, it has become apparent that Chris and I agree on nearly all the major issues facing Tulsa. I believe that running against Chris would split the truly conservative vote, which would lead to the Mayor Taylor supporting candidate (Mr. Bartlett) being elected, and that would be like voting for Kathy Taylor Part 2."

Clark says that he will be joining the Medlock campaign on a full-time basis and that he has agreed to oversee the Internet Marketing and small business development aspects of the Medlock campaign.

Former City Councilor and KFAQ talk show host Chris Medlock announced today at the Tulsa Press Club that he is running for Mayor of Tulsa. In 2006, Medlock ran an insurgent primary campaign on a shoestring budget against incumbent Bill LaFortune, finishing second with a respectable 34% in a four-way race, just nine points behind LaFortune.

From KOTV's story on today's announcement:

"As you can tell, I'm making no promises for bold new initiatives or sparkling new projects. It's time to concentrate on the nuts and bolts of city government to create a safer city, more livable city, the kind of city that children growing up in Tulsa today will remember as fondly as I remember the Tulsa of my childhood," said Chris Medlock, (R) Mayoral Candidate.

Medlock posted this summary of his platform on his campaign website, medlockformayor.com.

a mayor for ALL of Tulsa

I recently announced my candidacy for mayor. I am a firm believer that government should be open and transparent to the people it serves. I promise to bring Tulsa's focus back to the 98% of Tulsa that isn't downtown and to serve as a mayor for all of Tulsa.

Why am I running for Mayor?

Tulsa has been losing its luster since the early 1980s. When I came to city government in 2003, we were facing one of the worst budget crises in the city's history. Something had to be done. And so Vision 2025 was put before the voters. We were promised cranes in the air. We were promised our investment in Tulsa's future would turn the city around in such a crisis. Now just six years later we are facing a budget crisis worse than the one we faced in 2003. What happened?

What needs to change?

Tulsa has been governed by the same small group of people for most of my life. Power has been concentrated among a handful of families and business people. We can't continue to head in the same direction under the leadership of the same small group. We must take this opportunity to ask, isn't it time for a new direction? For new leadership? I say it is... and the multitude of people who encouraged me to run for mayor for looking for that new direction.

The website has a "get involved" page for those who want to volunteer or request a yard sign.


Alisa Harris posted a clip from the movie On the Waterfront on the World Magazine Blog in memory of Karl Malden. It's a powerful speech in which Malden, as Father Barry, gives last rites to a longshoreman who was ready to testify against the Mob and paid for his courage with his life. Father Barry finds in Christ the courage to take his own stand in the face of a hostile crowd. It had me in tears.

I came down here to keep a promise. I gave Kayo my word that if he stood up to the mob I'd stand up with him -- all the way. And now Kayo Dugan is dead. He was one of those fellows who had the gift of standing up....

Now what does Christ think of the easy money boys who do none of the work and take all of the gravy? And how does He feel about the fellas who wear $150 suits -- and diamond rings! -- on your union dues and your kickback money? And how does He, who spoke up without fear against every evil, feel about your silence?

You want to know what's wrong with our waterfront? It's the love of a lousy buck. It's making the love of the lousy buck - the cushy job - more important than the love of man. It's forgetting that every fellow down here is your brother in Christ. But remember, Christ is always with you - Christ is in the shape up. He's in the hatch. He's in the union hall. He's kneeling right here beside Dugan. And He's saying with all of you, if you do it to the least of mine, you do it to me!

And what they did to Joey and what they did to Dugan, they're doing to you -- and you -- you -- all of you! And only you -- only you with God's help have the power to knock 'em out for good!

(If you're reading this on the home page, you can watch the clip in the extended entry. Otherwise, scroll down.)

Less eloquently, I tried to make a similar point in my November 2, 2005, column in Urban Tulsa Weekly on faith and political courage:

But faith is more than reciting a creed or performing certain rituals. Faith involves confidence and trust. During a worship service you profess certain things to be true about God's nature and character. During the rest of the week, your true faith--what you really believe about God and his dealings with you and the rest of the humanity--becomes apparent in the way you live your life, and particularly in the way you deal with adversity.

For that reason, what an elected official really believes about God's nature and character affects how he conducts himself in office. Someone who has genuine confidence and trust in God as He is revealed in the Bible will have courage and persistence in the face of discouragement, danger, hostility, oppression, and injustice....

The usual pressure tactics won't succeed with the politician who reads and believes the Epistle to the Philippians. He turns his anxieties into prayers to his all-sufficient Father. You can threaten his job or his wife's job, but he reads that God will supply all his needs. You can threaten him with removal from office, but he is learning, with Paul, to be content in any situation.

You can threaten his reputation and position, but he is a follower and servant of Christ, who forsook his heavenly throne, "made himself of no reputation, and took upon [himself] the form of a servant." You can threaten his life, but he knows that "to die is gain"--the worst you can do is send him on to his heavenly home earlier than he expected. He expects to share in the sufferings of his Lord, but also in his Lord's resurrection.

If you're a Councilor steeped in Scripture you aren't going to be deterred when a big donor threatens to fund your opponent; when someone from the Chamber or the Home Builders corners you to cuss you out over a vote, or when the morning paper does another front-page hatchet job on you....

If we want elected officials who are fearless to do what is right, we ought to look for men and women whose character has been shaped by confidence in a God who is bigger than any adversary they may face.


From 2005, some reactions to that column, including this from Councilor Rick Westcott, then a first-time candidate:

I also think that a person's faith gives them a sense of identity which helps ground them in times of trouble. Because I know who I am in Christ, who God made me, because I know He has a plan for me, it gives me a sense of identity that isn't shaken by those who might attack me. I don't need the external validation that some seek from others.

Democratic State Sen. Tom Adelson announced on Wednesday his anticipated candidacy for Mayor of Tulsa. Reports of the announcement hint that many of Mayor Kathy Taylor's Democratic supporters during the 2006 primary were in attendance in support of Adelson. It will be interesting to see if Democrats who supported Don McCorkell and Democrats who belong to Just Progress will get on board with Adelson or if another candidate will emerge.

On Thursday, Republican City Councilor Bill Christiansen announced that he would not run for Mayor, but would instead seek a fifth term on the City Council. The announcement comes just a few days after an extensive phone survey, apparently on Christiansen's behalf, testing voter response to a number of "push-poll" messages about Christiansen. It seems reasonable to speculate that the results didn't look promising for a Christiansen victory in the Republican primary. The timing of the announcement would be about right: Assuming the poll that likely ran on Sunday and Monday evenings, the consultant would have had raw results early Tuesday and analysis ready for review by Wednesday.

Another factor may have been rumors that Republican former City Councilor and 2006 mayoral candidate Chris Medlock will run. Medlock was one of the names on the aforementioned survey. The electoral math of a three-way primary (with no runoff) between Dewey Bartlett, Jr., Christiansen, and Medlock might have created a vote split that would have worked in Medlock's favor. Christiansen may have been encouraged to step aside by special interest groups that have opposed Medlock in the past. As a radio talk show host, Medlock wasn't expected to run for anything, but that gig ended earlier this year as a result of Journal Broadcast Group cutbacks.

It's not known how Christiansen's change of direction will affect the candidates that were already lining up to succeed him. I wouldn't expect Phil Lakin to challenge an incumbent, particularly one that voted for the assessment district which is financing the ballpark that is being built by a company that Lakin heads. Christiansen could be vulnerable to a challenge, particularly if his Republican constituents would prefer a councilor more like John Eagleton, Bill Martinson, or Rick Westcott on fiscal issues. Will either of the two announced District 8 candidates, Bryan Osborne or Paul Wizikowski, stay in? Stay tuned.

With Christiansen's about-face, it now appears that all nine city councilors will seek re-election. That's never happened before. Jack Henderson (D-District 1), Rick Westcott (R-District 2), Bill Martinson (R-District 5), John Eagleton (R-District 7), and G. T. Bynum (R-District 9) have all either announced or are expected to announce, and none of them have drawn an opponent.

Districts 3, 4, and 6 are shaping up as rematches between current incumbents and the former incumbents they beat: David Patrick vs. Roscoe Turner in 3, Eric Gomez vs. Maria Barnes in 4, and Dennis Troyer vs. Jim Mautino in 6. Rocky Frisco is challenging Gomez in the District 4 Republican primary. A few other candidates had expressed interest in the District 6 Republican nomination prior to Mautino's announcement that he would run; so far (as far as I am aware) no other candidate has officially announced.


Steven Roemerman has put together a very useful Tulsa City Council relational database in Microsoft Access -- every councilor since its inception in 1990, including the exact dates of the terms they served. It's a must-have for all of us politically-minded nerds. The database was inspired by his skepticism over the proposed charter amendment that would change the City Council's terms changed to three years, staggered so that only three of nine are up for election in any year.

David Schuttler has an interesting clip of Bill Christiansen from a 2006 City Council meeting regarding the proposed south Tulsa bridge. (If you're on the home page, click the "Continue reading" link to see it.)

Tulsa County Republican Party Chairman Sally Bell praised four Republican Tulsa City Councilors for continuing to hold the line against Mayor Kathy Taylor's efforts to oust Michael Slankard from the City's Ethics Advisory Committee in a newsletter sent out on Wednesday. At a June 23, 2009, Council committee meeting five of the nine councilors (Jack Henderson, Rick Westcott, Bill Martinson, John Eagleton, and Bill Christiansen) indicated they would vote against James Kincaid, a District 9 resident and Taylor's latest attempt to replace Slankard. Six councilors rejected an earlier nominee to replace Slankard, Sandra Rodolf.

Although the newsletter singles out Republicans for praise (as you would expect in a Republican newsletter), it's worth noting that the group in opposition is bipartisan. Notice too that, even though Taylor has dropped her re-election bid, councilors have still opposed her position on several issues. That puts the lie to Taylor's suggestion that Council objections to her budget, nominations, and other decisions were motivated by attempts to gain partisan political advantage. (It also undermines Mayoral candidate Dewey Bartlett's complaints about partisan bickering.)

Republican Councilors Hold the Line on Mayor Taylor

Four Republican Tulsa city councilors have drawn a line in the sand with Mayor Kathy Taylor. Republicans Rick Westcott, Bill Christiansen, John Eagleton and Bill Martinson, along with Democrat Jack Henderson, voted to reject Mayor Taylor's pick of Tulsa attorney James Kincaid for the Ethics Advisory Committee. Mr. Kincaid was to replace Michael Slankard.

Mayor Taylor refused to re-nominate Mr. Slankard for another term after he requested that the Ethics Advisory Committee investigate Taylor's decision to send her private jet to pick up Councilor David Patrick (D) so Patrick could be present for the vote on the controversial assessment fee for the downtown ball park.

Mr. Slankard has served the Ethics Advisory Committee well, has a very good record of service and should have been reappointed according to the councilors.

The Tulsa City Charter allows for the mayor to make appointments and reappointments that then must be approved by the city council. The city council has the right to accept or reject any nominee.

Mr. Kincaid is Mayor Taylor's second choice. Her first choice was Tulsa attorney Sandra Rodolf. Ms. Rodolf was voted down on April 30, 2009 in a 6-3 vote. The five councilors listed above, along with Republican city councilor Eric Gomez voted against Ms. Rodolf's appointment.

When Republican elected officials stray off the "legal" or "moral" path - as in the case of South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford - we don't sweep it under the rug. We hold them accountable.

When our Republican elected officials make a stand for what's right we need to stand with them by getting the word out. We know most media outlets won't do it.

We commend our Tulsa City Council Republican officials for making this stance. These councilors now need the support of a strong Republican Mayor. Let's work hard to give them that support in November.

A survey firm called me yesterday evening. It was a very lengthy survey about the upcoming Republican primary for Mayor of Tulsa, and it seems likely that it was on behalf of Tulsa City Councilor Bill Christiansen's campaign for Mayor, as there were many specific questions about him, his record, and his background, but none for any other candidate.

The phone number was 304-250-3311. The agent had a slight Hispanic accent and asked for me by name. She identified herself as being with Promark Research.

There were several interesting aspects to the survey:

Susan Neal, former District 9 City Councilor and current aide to Kathy Taylor, was included in the list of options for voting in the primary.

I was asked if I approved or disapproved of the City Council as a body. This is a misguided question: The Council isn't monolithic. I generally approve of the performance of some councilors but not of others, but that response wasn't an option.

Several questions had a long list of options, from which you could pick only one. Asking to rank importance of each option probably would have produced more useful data.

"Protect property rights against zoning laws" was one of the option for "most important issue facing Tulsa." I've got to think this was garbled in translation.

The end of the survey was a combination push-poll and sensitivity test. After an initial ballot question (who would you vote for in the Republican primary for Mayor?), a series of 10 questions were read, all of which began with "If you knew that" and ended with "would that make you more or less likely to vote for Bill Christiansen?" This series was followed by another ballot question -- a way to see if any of the statements moved one's vote.

There were several items in that list that caught my attention, specifically:

b. If you knew that as a City Councilor Bill Christiansen voted against raising the assessment on property owners to finance a downtown ballpark...

Christiansen actually voted for establishing the district and the assessment back in July 2008. He voted against the assessment roll last month. See Steven Roemerman's comments on Christiansen's ballpark votes:

e. If you knew that Bill Christiansen was strongly supported by the Tulsa Firefighters Association and the Tulsa Police Officers Association...

I asked the agent whether these endorsements had been publicly announced and was told "yes." Christiansen isn't even in the race, no such endorsements have been made, and there's no such thing as the Tulsa Police Officers Association.

f. If you knew that Bill Christiansen led the fight to stop construction of the South Tulsa toll bridge which would have increased traffic on Yale and ruined a neighborhood...

It would be fairer to say that the South Tulsa Citizens' Coalition led that fight.

h. If you knew that Bill Christiansen supported a plan to require City Councilors to take unpaid days off in solidarity with city workers who are required to take eight unpaid days of furlough...

Has he actually announced this? Or is he poll-testing something he may announce, if it polls well enough?

These last two items don't exactly shine with conviction and leadership:

i. If you knew that Bill Christiansen supported Mayor Kathy Taylor's $451 million tax increase to fix our city streets...

j. If you knew that Bill Christiansen did not vote for Kathy Taylor's increase of property taxes and sales taxes; all he did was support sending the measure to the voters of Tulsa...

MORE: Tulsa resident Mike Ball writes a letter to the daily paper about the editorial condemning Bill Martinson's budget alternative:

I just read your Saturday [June 20] editorial entitled "Nuts!" and was disappointed. You seem to have the same dismal understanding of finance exhibited by Bill Christiansen when he gets that, "...help! Space aliens have stolen my brain, and I don't know what I'm going to say next" look. What part of the presentation didn't you understand?

(You can view Martinson's presentation and his rebuttal to the FOP president on Councilor John Eagleton's website.)

Continue reading to see the full list of questions. Numbering is my own. Consider all of this a paraphrase, as I could only take notes so fast.

Bryan Osborne has officially entered the race to succeed Bill Christiansen as a Tulsa City Councilor for District 8. (Christiansen is expected to run for Mayor.)

Paul Wizikowski has already announced his candidacy. Phil Lakin, CEO of the Tulsa Community Foundation, manager of Tulsa Stadium Construction Co. LLC (the sole bidder on the new downtown ballpark), chairman and trustee of the George Kaiser Family Foundation, is reported to be considering a run.

Here is Osborne's announcement press release:

Osborne Announces Candidacy for District 8 City Council Seat

TULSA, OK (6/27/09) Local businessman J. Bryan Osborne announced his candidacy for the District 8 City Council seat today.

"Public service should be about serving the public, not special interests," Osborne said. "Priorities for city government should be straight forward: well staffed and trained police and fire departments, good roads, ample sewer and flood water drainage systems, and well maintained public properties. City government needs to meet these needs and do so in a fiscally responsible manner. A good city councilor works to ensure those things get done and helps his fellow citizens to resolve issues related to city government."

Osborne, 46, believes that "elected officials are stewards of the hard-earned dollars of taxpayers and therefore have a duty to spend those dollars with great care." "If there are budget shortages, we have to find ways to trim the budget while encouraging business and job creation to increase the tax base," he said. "As a conservative, I simply do not believe that higher taxes are the answer."

Osborne is owner of the Huntington Learning Center in Tulsa, a supplemental education provider whose mission is "to give every child the best education possible." He is an active member of the Tulsa Chamber of Commerce, serves on the chamber's Education Advocacy Task Force and in the Oklahoma Scholars program, which is designed to encourage students in Tulsa Public Schools to make the most of their high school academic opportunities and be better prepared for the future.

In local politics, Osborne ran for Tulsa County Republican Party Chairman earlier this year, has served on the party's Executive Committee and as Platform Committee Chairman. He also currently serves as the Precinct Chairman of Precinct #173.

"Tulsa is a wonderful city and even better days are ahead. We need to work together to strengthen our community and create an even better city, not only for ourselves but for future generations."

For more information visit http://www.bryanosborne.com.

Earlier this week, Dewey F. Bartlett, Jr., who represented District 9 on the Tulsa City Council from 1990 to 1994, announced that he is running for the Republican nomination for Mayor of Tulsa. Bartlett has run for office two other times. He finished second in the August 25,1992, 54-candidate free-for-all special election to replace Rodger Randle; that election was won by acting mayor Susan Savage. In 2004 he ran for the open State Senate District 33 seat. Tom Adelson, seen as the likely Democratic nominee for mayor, won that election 51.5% to 48.5%, a 910 vote margin.

Bartlett made his announcement at the Tulsa Press Club, but the event wasn't open to the public. A friend tells me that she was told to leave by Karl Ahlgren, one of Bartlett's campaign consultants. Ahlgren is the A in AH Strategies; Fount Holland is the H. Both men used to work for Tom Coburn during his time in the U. S. House, but Coburn's principles don't seem to have rubbed off on them. The two have followed the money in recent years, working for campaigns to raise taxes on Tulsa County residents. Holland was involved in a nasty smear campaign against Republican District Attorney Tim Harris on behalf of Brett Swab, who was running against Harris in the primary.

I lived in Brookside for most of Bartlett's tenure on the Council. At the time, he seemed to be supportive of neighborhood concerns, backing Brookside's objections to commercial encroachments into the neighborhood and winning passage of an ordinance designed to hinder the proposed six-laning of Riverside Drive north of I-44. The ordinance, Title 10, Chapter 3, requires any proposal to fund the widening of Riverside or Houston to be put on the ballot as a separate proposition.

More recently, however, Bartlett has taken a number of disappointing public stances. In 2005, he lent his name to the effort of "Tulsans for Better Government" to reduce the number of council districts to 6 and create three city-wide at-large council positions. The proposal would have diluted representation for north, west, and east Tulsa. The three at-large councilors would almost certainly have come from the Midtown money belt, overrepresenting those priorities at City Hall.

According to reports of Bartlett's announcement, he has nothing but praise for Kathy Taylor's tenure. Bartlett enthusiastically endorsed Taylor's re-election prior to her decision not to run again.

At his announcement, Bartlett trotted out the usual blather about "partisan bickering," which always seems to translate to "councilors should shut up, hurry up, and do what I say." It suggests to me that he intends to treat the City Council with the same degree of contempt as the current mayor. The opposition to Taylor's budget and the ballpark assessment wasn't borne of partisanship, but it was motivated by concern for fairness and sound fiscal policy. I appreciate councilors who are willing to stand on principle, even when there's a political price to be paid, and I want a mayor who will respect council opposition instead of trying to steamroll it.

Using the phrase "partisan bickering" pretty much guarantees you won't get my support. Using it is a sign that either you haven't been paying attention or you don't appreciate vigorous public debate of the issues.

Bartlett says he wants to increase city revenues by increasing Tulsa business, not by raising taxes, which is interesting because I can't remember a tax increase he has opposed in recent years. In fact, I'm pretty sure he endorsed a couple.

Today at a Tulsa County Republican rally, I spoke to Jarred Brejcha, who is working on Bartlett's campaign. (I didn't see Bartlett at the event.) I told him that Bartlett has some fences to mend if he hopes to win grassroots Republican support. When Brejcha told me that Bartlett is open to listen to all sides of an issue and all parts of the city, I replied that what matters is whose advice Bartlett will heed when it comes time to make a decision.

Bartlett's name gives him a huge advantage, as was demonstrated in 2006, when Robert Bartlett (no relation) won the Republican nomination for Tulsa City Council District 4 without actively campaigning. Older Republicans fondly remember his father, Dewey F. Bartlett, Sr., who served one term as Governor of Oklahoma (1967-1971 -- defeated by David Hall for re-election in 1970 by two thousand votes), then served a single term in the U. S. Senate from 1973 to 1978. The senior Bartlett died of lung cancer in 1979 at the too-young age of 59.

The rumor around the rally is that Councilor Bill Christiansen will make his formal announcement a week from today. There's also a rumor that Christiansen has hired campaign media consultant Fred Davis. (I spotted Davis last Monday on United's non-stop flight from LAX to Tulsa.)

The only other announced Republican candidate is small businessman Clay Clark, aka DJ Clayvis.

MORE: Chris Medlock notices an interesting similarity between Bartlett's campaign logo and Kathy Taylor's.

gtbynum-tulsacouncil.jpgTulsa City Councilor G. T. Bynum sent out an email today announcing his decision to run for re-election to his District 9 post, rather than running for the mayor's seat left open by Kathy Taylor's decision not to run for re-election.

Bynum's decision leaves five councilors who have not officially announced their intentions regarding the mayor's race. Rick Westcott (District 2) and Bill Christiansen (District 8) have both said they're considering the race.

Here is Bynum's announcement, posted with his permission.

Family, Friends & Neighbors:

In the week since Mayor Taylor's surprise announcement that she would not seek a second term, many of you have emailed and called me with your encouragement to run for mayor. I can not convey how much it means to me that, based on my work in a brief time on the Council, you would enthusiastically entrust me with what I honestly believe is a sacred duty: managing the day-to-day affairs of the city in which we live with the people we love.

That is what drew me to run for the Council: the people I love live here, and I want the place where they live to be the best it can be. That has guided all of my decisions on the Council.

But with a rambunctious 2-year-old at home and a baby due in September, the people I love the most - our young and growing family - need me right now as a husband and Dad. Those are more important jobs to me than being mayor. I am also not so full of myself as to think I don't have anything to learn before seeking such an important public office.

I am hopeful that someone with political courage will step forward in this race, because that is what our City needs: performance audits of all departments, utility rates in line with costs, a clearly-defined and strategic partnership with the County, a second streets proposal to finish the work of the first, river development, and a bipartisan approach to governance. All of these will be tough, some of them will be unpopular, but all of them are needed. These are the issues I would have focused on as a mayoral candidate, and these are the ones I will focus on in my re-election campaign for City Council District 9.

The City Council is a tremendous opportunity for citizens to play a part in the life of our City without the taxing impact on family life that comes with the job of mayor. I love my work on the Council, and am eager to seek another term.

For all of you who have encouraged me to run for mayor, I'm honored by your faith in me.


Photo from the Tulsa City Council website.

ackbar.jpgI haven't been watching much TV lately, but I'm told that Mayor Kathy Taylor's valedictory ads, trumpeting her record as mayor, have already begun to run on local stations.

I spoke to someone this morning who has some direct, recent experience with advertising on local TV. He says there's no way you could decide on a Thursday not to run for re-election and the next day start running TV ads. It takes at least two weeks to line up air time. It also takes time -- days, not hours -- to write, shoot, and produce a minute-long commercial that is as well-done as Taylor's "I'm not running" ad. This suggests that the decision not to run was made at least two weeks ago.

His speculation is that the ads are intended to create a groundswell of support for her to reverse course and run for re-election. Taylor is benefiting from news stories reviewing her term of office as if she's already gone. Her fans on local message boards are shouting down any criticism of her performance. For the next month, she can pose as someone above the fray of politics, as her potential successors jockey for funding and support. Then she can file at the last minute for re-election, reluctantly submitting to a draft.

What's the benefit of such a scenario? Here's one possibility: Before Taylor announced her withdrawal, the question among Republicans was who would "draw the short straw," "take one for the team," and run an almost certainly futile campaign against someone able to spend a million dollars on her own re-election. You can't run for mayor and run at the same time for re-election as councilor, so it would be hard to convince more than one councilor to abandon easy re-election for a doomed effort.

But if she's out of the picture, it suddenly becomes conceivable that you could raise the funds for a successful race for an open seat. Two, maybe three Republican councilors throw their hats in the ring, thinking the odds are worth the risk. In this scenario, Taylor lines up her allies to run for those now-open council seats, then jumps back into the mayor's race at the last minute, after the councilors have already filed to run for mayor, too late to back out and run for re-election. Taylor gets back in for another term with a more compliant council that won't challenge her decisions.

Even if Taylor doesn't re-enter the race, it's almost certain that there is an anointed successor waiting in the wings, possibly someone capable of self-funding to the same degree as Taylor. This scenario could still serve as a trap, luring councilors away from seeking re-election to safe seats, putting together last minute citywide campaign teams, and finding themselves up against an experienced campaign organization ready to do battle.

In 2002, when J. C. Watts announced at the last minute that he wouldn't run for re-election to Congress, only one potential replacement wasn't caught flat-footed: His longtime political adviser Tom Cole, who went on to win the seat. Cole drew some primary opposition from Marc Nuttle, and with several months to raise money Nuttle, with his connections to national conservative organizations, could have been a formidable candidate. Instead, Nuttle had only six weeks from Watts' announcement to election day in which to decide to run, organize a campaign, raise money, and meet voters. On primary night, Cole had 60% to Nuttle's 33%.

The scenario presented by my friend was intriguing, but I'm still inclined to believe that Taylor is setting herself up to run against Congressman John Sullivan next year. It would look crass if she said anything now, while he's still in rehab, but if she waited until he returns -- beginning of July at the earliest -- it wouldn't leave much time before the city filing period for someone else to get ready to run. The "I'm rising above politics to take care of the city" approach would get her out of the mayor's race, make room for someone else to get in, without seeming insensitive.

You may wonder why I'm not taking her at face value. She can very easily run the city and run for mayor at the same time. It's not like a statewide race where you have to travel incessantly to campaign. And it's not as though she has to knock doors, call voters, and lick envelopes herself. As mayor, campaigning or not, she'll be out in the community. She could do her job and then pay her PR people and campaign advisers to spin her record and get her message to the voters. There's something else going on here, and the decision to run slickly-produced campaign ads after officially "ending" her campaign only solidifies that suspicion.

UPDATE: Rusty at the OKDemocrat forum notes media interest in the story.

Tulsa Mayor Kathy Taylor has issued a press release saying she will not be running for re-election. She will hold a press conference at 5:30 at the Tulsa Press Club.

More as it develops.

UPDATE 6:15 pm: Taylor spoke very briefly and did not answer questions. She spent a minute or two greeting well-wishers like Tulsa Metro Chamber head Mike Neal, Convention and Visitors Bureau head Suzanne Stewart, and Sharon King Davis.

Taylor began her remarks with a list of accomplishments: A hangar for American Airlines to keep maintenance jobs here, completing the BOK Center, coping with the ice storm of 2007, "amazing progress" on the river, the entrepreneurial spirit awards, finding mentors for 400 students, and finalizing plans for the John Hope Franklin Reconciliation Park before Franklin's death.

Taylor decried a focus on personalities and partisan politics and expressed hope that stepping down would help the Council do the right thing with regard to the ballpark. (Tonight is the final vote on the assessment roll for the Tulsa Stadium Improvement District.)

Taylor said the primary reason for not running was to ensure the economic viability of Tulsa. She claimed that "we've turned this city around." She said she needed to be running the city, not running a political campaign. As she makes tough budget decisions, she doesn't want a partisan political cloud over decision making.

Taylor said she had no plans for the future but would continue to pursue her passions: education, small business, and greening Tulsa.

MORE: Taylor's letter to city employees at 5:30 this evening:

Together, we have opened a world-class arena, moved city hall to a modern and high-tech new space, seen amazing progress on the revitalization of downtown, made a significant commitment to our streets infrastructure, created new education opportunities for our children and recruited hundreds of mentors for at-risk kids. We have promoted health programs, had success with our "biggest loser" wellness program and worked side by side with community leaders with the shared goal of making our neighborhoods safer.

We have launched new initiatives in the areas of energy efficiency and we have pulled resources together to honor the many veterans and military families in Tulsa. We have made city government more efficient because of your participation in High Performance Government and our green initiatives are saving energy costs in departments throughout the city. We have supported emerging businesses with our Entrepreneurship Week and Spirit Awards and thousands of Tulsans have given us their input through our city's comprehensive planning process.

All of these initiatives and many many more have culminated in a record of amazing progress for the city we love. It is a record you can be proud of and I want to personally thank you for all you have done to make it possible!

Because of the serious budget and economic challenges we are facing, the next 6 months are going to be pivotal and frankly, very difficult for our City. Tough decisions will have to be made that may not be popular, but they will be fiscally responsible- and they will help secure Tulsa's future.

I have been in public service now for 6 years -- first as Secretary of Commerce and Tourism for the State and these last years as your Mayor. Amazing things can be accomplished when private citizens get engaged in their community.

Thank you again for your hard work and for allowing me to be a part of this great team of city employees.

It is an honor I will value forever.

Kathy Taylor,

Former Tulsa City Councilor Maria Barnes is seeking to return to the office she held from 2006 to 2008. In 2008, she lost a close race to City Councilor Eric Gomez. Because of a charter change approved at the 2008 election, Tulsa city elections now occur in odd-numbered years, and the next election for mayor, council, and auditor will occur the second Tuesday in November, with a primary the second Tuesday in September.

Barnes is holding her campaign kick-off party this Sunday afternoon at an art gallery on 15th St. Here's the press release:


Tulsa, OK-- On Sunday, Maria Barnes will announce that she will seek to return to her former position as City Councilor for District 4. Her official announcement will be at her kick-off party on April 26th, from 2 to 4 p.m., at Joseph Gierek's Fine Art Gallery on Cherry Street. Food will be provided by Lambrusco'z To-Go. Expected in attendance will be key supporters of Maria's, including Oklahoma House Representatives Jeannie McDaniel, Eric Proctor and Seneca Scott.

According to Maria "I am running for City Councilor for District 4 because I want to represent you at city hall. I want to continue my long history of helping the citizens of Tulsa."

Maria says her record will show that she has consistently supported "downtown development, as well as the neighborhoods in District 4. I will continue my support, but I would like to also focus my attention on small business development. Now we need more support for the small businesses downtown and throughout District 4 that are the fabric of our city."

Maria promises to make smart decisions during this time of economic change and to be fiscally responsible with how taxpayer's dollars are used. She will strive to make city government more transparent, and work to represent all of her constituents.

Maria also believes that "a clean and healthy environment is essential for our growth as a world class community. In order to compete for federal and state funds we need to be environmentally compliant. Protecting our environment will be good for large and small, new and established businesses. "

Maria is currently serving as the Mayor's appointee to the PlaniTulsa Advisory Board and the Mayor's Police and Community Coalition. Working for the least served in our community is a priority for Maria since she also serves on the boards of Educare and the Crosstown Learning Center and as a Human Rights Commissioner.

Maria's campaign slogan, REPRESENTING YOU, reflects her grassroots support, and her commitment to be a bridge between her constituents and city hall.

In related news, Eric Gomez made the cover of the April 2009 issue of Tulsa Crime Monthly for his threat (now dropped) to sue neighborhood leader Julie Hall. The issue is on sale at independent convenience stores around midtown and north Tulsa. (I got my copy at the convenience store at 18th and Cincinnati.)

An edited version of this column appeared in the April 1, 2009, issue of Urban Tulsa Weekly. The published version is no longer available online. Posted online June 15, 2016.

Election Day 2009 is a mere seven months away, and a credible opponent to Mayor Kathy Taylor's bid for re-election has yet to emerge.

It is usual to set out one's reasons for seeking office in some form. In the U. S. we call such a document a platform; in the U.K. it's known as an election manifesto.
In that spirit, here then, on the 1st day of April, 2009, is my mayoral manifesto.

Transparency and accountability

We begin by acknowledging the financial constraints our city is under. The ideas listed below represent my priorities for spending the funds that we have. We will not propose or promote any measure that would increase the tax burden on the citizens of Tulsa, particularly in this time of financial uncertainty.

We will make the best use of the money that has already been entrusted to city government to provide basic services - police and fire protection, streets, water, sewer, trash, and stormwater. We will find the funds to conduct a thorough performance and financial audit of city government. We will insist on implementation of the recommendations and replace any department head that drags his feet.

We must increase the size and budget of our underfunded City Auditor's department. A properly-funded fiscal watchdog should be able to find more than enough savings to offset the additional cost.

To encourage transparency and accountability, a Bates administration will make as much city government information available on the internet as the law allows. A TGOV website will offer access to both live and archived video of public meetings.

A geographical information system (GIS) will make it easy for city workers and citizens alike to find information on zoning, crime, and construction in an area of interest. Accessible information will make it easier for citizens and media (both old and new) to keep an eye on city government and to uncover waste, fraud, and abuse.

Partnerships for progress

I pledge to build a collaborative relationship with the City Council, to respect their standing as the elected representatives of the citizens of Tulsa, and to treat them as partners, not adversaries.

If a councilor wants my ear, he won't have to go through three layers of underlings to get to me. If I'm attending a meeting or planning a project in a councilor's district, the councilor will hear about it ahead of time from me. Instead of sending out a flak-catcher, you'll see me at council committee meetings and delivering the weekly mayor's report. I won't agree to expensive legal settlements without the knowledge and consent of the Council.

Surveys have revealed a disconnect between City Hall and the citizens, particularly citizens in our less affluent neighborhoods in north, west, and east Tulsa. We need a sound civic infrastructure to keep citizens informed and to help citizens make their voices heard by city leaders.

One possibility is the district council plan used in St. Paul, Minn. My administration will survey best practices across the country and will work with the Council and neighborhood leaders to identify the model best suited to Tulsa's circumstances.

Membership of the city's authorities, boards, and commissions has been dominated by Tulsa's most affluent neighborhoods in midtown and south Tulsa. I will broaden the pool of mayoral appointees, starting by reaching out to the thousands of PLANiTULSA workshop participants.

I will collaborate with my suburban counterparts whenever appropriate, but I will never lose sight of the fact that I was hired to serve the citizens of Tulsa.

Planning and zoning

The PLANiTULSA process has been a great success to date, with thousands of Tulsans participating in citywide and small-area planning workshops. We should see the adoption of a new comprehensive plan prior to the city general election.

But the plan's adoption is only the beginning. Full implementation will almost certainly require modifications to Tulsa's zoning code. It will also require the political will to stick to the plan as individual zoning and planning decisions are made.

Tulsa's land-use planning system should be characterized by transparency, inclusiveness, consistency, clarity, and adaptability. Our land-use laws should allow as much freedom as possible while protecting against genuine threats to safety, quality of life, and property values.

We must get away from a one-size-fits-all zoning code. Development suitable for 71st and Memorial may not be right for 15th and Utica. Tulsa should establish special districts - some cities call them conservation districts - where rules can be customized to the neighborhood's circumstances. Form-based rules should be available for neighborhoods that want them.

Tulsa should do what every other city in the metro area has already done and establish our own city planning commission, one with a balanced membership that is geographically representative and not dominated by the development industry. All Tulsans have a stake in how our city grows, not just those who stand to make a buck on new construction.

We'll bring land-planning services in house as well, ending our contract with INCOG. (We will continue to collaborate with INCOG on regional transportation planning.)

Economic development

The city's approach to economic development would change in a Bates administration. Some of Tulsa's biggest employers and biggest draws for new dollars started small and grew.

Instead of spending all our economic development funds luring large companies to relocate to Tulsa, we should emphasize removing any barriers to small business formation and expansion.

One of those barriers is the cost of a place to do business. We'll revisit rules that hinder operating a business out of your own home. While many neighborhoods will prefer to remain purely residential, others would welcome the live-work option, with a broader range of permitted home occupations. Here again, Tulsa can customize rules to fit the diversity of our neighborhoods.

We cannot afford to leave behind those Tulsans who are at the bottom of the economic ladder. We will partner with non-profits to help Tulsans develop basic financial life skills - the habits that enable someone to find and keep a job, spend his earnings wisely, and build assets over time.

Tulsa should become known as a city of educational choice from pre-K to college for families of all income levels, not just the well-to-do. I will work with the Oklahoma legislature to expand access to charter and private schools for Tulsans. My administration will seek a cooperative relationship with private schools, homeschooling families and support organizations, and all seven public school districts that overlap our city boundaries.

Under my administration, the city will hold a full and open competition to choose a contractor to promote our convention and tourism industry. The Tulsa Metro Chamber will be welcome to compete, but no longer will it enjoy sole-source status. Tulsa is home to many innovative marketing firms that could do a better job of communicating Tulsa's unique appeal.

The city center

There's been a great deal of focus and hundreds of millions of dollars in public investment in downtown over the last decade. The aim of that investment was to bring downtown back to life, not to turn more buildings into surface parking lots. I will push for adoption of the Tulsa Preservation Commission's "CORE Proposals," including an inventory of downtown buildings, a demolition review process, and standards for new development that reinforce downtown's walkable, urban character.

But Tulsa's urban core doesn't stop at the Inner Dispersal Loop. Downtown's long-term prosperity and revitalization depends on the vitality of the nearby neighborhoods.

Tulsa offers many choices for those who prefer a suburban lifestyle, but we also need to provide a viable urban living option for individuals, couples, and families who want to live close to work, shopping, school, church, healthcare, and entertainment.

There should be at least one part of our city where you can go everywhere you need to go without needing a car. Central Tulsa was built with the pedestrian in mind. New development should reinforce its walkable character.

The city's role would be to protect stable and historic single-family neighborhoods, improve regulations and raise awareness of tax incentives to encourage adaptive reuse of historic buildings, and encourage higher-density, urban infill development in neighborhoods that desire it.

Getting around town

In the future, it may make financial sense to build a light rail system. Right now, we can make better use of the transit system we already have by focusing on frequent, dependable bus service from early morning to late night within this pedestrian-friendly central zone.

Where it's impractical to provide frequent bus service, entrepreneurs should be allowed to fill in the gaps. It ought to be possible in Tulsa for someone with time and a vehicle to make money helping their neighbors get around town. We'll study what other cities have done to encourage privately-owned, publicly-accessible transportation like jitneys, taxis, and shuttles.

Preparing for the future

A Bates administration will not only focus on the near term but will plan for the future as well. Disaster preparedness is a part of that job. One area that deserves attention is the security of Tulsa's food supply. A food crisis could be triggered by financial collapse, soaring energy prices, or a terrorist attack on America's food supply system.
City Hall should study ways to help connect local farmers and growers with local consumers so that our region can attain a degree of self-sufficiency and insulation from an external crisis. We'll make sure that city regulations don't get in the way of community gardens and farmers' markets.

If elected, I will govern with the expectation that I will only serve a single term. I will reckon myself a political dead man, having stepped on so many toes that millions will be raised to prevent my re-election as mayor or my election to any other office.

Finally, my fellow Tulsans, as you find yourself elated or, more likely, outraged at the thought of a Michael Bates mayoral run, remember the old Roman motto: Caveat lector kalendas Apriles.

The time has come:

Election Day 2009 is a mere seven months away, and a credible opponent to Mayor Kathy Taylor's bid for re-election has yet to emerge.

It is usual to set out one's reasons for seeking office in some form. In the U.S. we call such a document a platform; in the U.K. it's known as an election manifesto.

In that spirit, here then, on the first day of April, 2009, is my mayoral manifesto.

Read the whole thing.

UPDATE: For the non-Latin speakers, Caveat lector kalendas Apriles means, "Let the reader beware of the Calends of April." As for my mayoral campaign, launch date is set ad kalendas Graecas.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of recent entries in the Tulsa Election 2009 category.

Tulsa Election 2008 is the previous category.

Tulsa Election 2011 is the next category.

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?]