Tulsa Election 2009: November 2009 Archives

Turnout turned off

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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.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Tulsa Election 2009 category from November 2009.

Tulsa Election 2009: October 2009 is the previous archive.

Tulsa Election 2009: April 2011 is the next archive.

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