Tulsa World: July 2005 Archives

Cockroaches at large

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Why is the Tulsa Whirled beating the drum for at-large seats on the Tulsa City Council? Dan Paden has it figured out:

Election campaigns are expensive, and city-wide campaigns are necessarily more expensive than district-wide campaigns. It is hard enough for good people to raise the money to run for a district seat. It will be harder for them to finance a run against the deep pockets of the Cockroach Caucus and their candidates. The more at-large councilors there are, the more pull the CC will have at city hall.

He's right, and it's even worse because a city-wide election makes it difficult to conduct a low-budget, grass-roots campaign. Jim Mautino, Energizer bunny that he is, knocked on nearly every door in his district (which has a population of about 43,000) during the recent recall campaign. Imagine trying to knock on every door in the city. (The city election calendar already works against grass-roots campaigns, with campaign season limited by Christmas and New Year's and falling during the coldest and shortest days of the year, which severely limit door-to-door campaigning. For those reasons and others, I'd love to see city elections moved to the fall of odd-numbered years.)

Be sure to read Dan's whole piece. I especially liked this pithy comment:

[T]he Tulsa Whirled has become something of a reverse barometer for Tulsa. That is to say, if the Whirled thinks it's a good idea, somethin' jist ain't right.

That's a very useful heuristic.

I see that despite a hint of a concilatory tone in the Whirled's Thursday editorial, the paper still hasn't run out of ways to show contempt for those they dislike. In Pamela Jean "P. J." Lassek's Sunday "story" on potential candidates for City Council and Mayor in 2006, she refers to 2004 District 4 Republican nominee Eric Gomez as Jason "Eric" Gomez.

As I pointed out over a year ago, Eric is the man's legal middle name, which he prefers to his first name. He was on the ballot as Eric Gomez and uses Eric Gomez in his real estate business. I've known Eric since 1999, and I never knew Eric wasn't his first name until the Whirled started printing his first name and putting sneer quotes around his middle name. There is no legitimate reason for the Whirled to do this. What's implied by the use of sneer quotes (also known as scare quotes) is that Gomez either is an eccentric (like Virginia "Blue Jeans" Jenner) or is trying to be deceptive in going by his middle name.

As a blogger, I'm allowed to be snarky and to mix opinion with news content, but mainstream media types are supposed to be objective and dispassionate observers. At a time when the Whirled has already taken some huge credibility and objectivity hits over Great Plains Airlines, the 71st and Harvard F&M Bank rezoning, and the recall, this petty but obvious example of bias doesn't help them.

UPDATE: I was informed that Ms. Lassek did not write the part of the article about the District 4 race, but it was written by fellow City Hall reporter Brian Barber. (I don't know what Brian's full legal name is, so I don't know if I should be putting sneer quotes around any of it.) As a resident of District 4, Ms. Lassek doesn't write on District 4 politics as a matter of the newspaper's policy. Perhaps the decision to so style Mr. Gomez was made by city editor Lewis "Wayne" Greene. I was also informed that the reason to use Gomez's full name is because he has a couple of misdemeanors on his record, which you can only find in OSCN if you search on his full name. I guess they want to make sure readers can look those up. That still doesn't explain the use of the sneer quotes around his middle name.

Tulsa should be proud! Our monopoly daily newspaper is one of eight nominees for the 2005 Mapes Award for Stupidity:

Ooooooo-klahoma, Where the Newspaper’s Head is up its Rear: Fair Use Censorship on Both Sides

The Tulsa World tries to bully blogger Michael Bates into submission, threatening legal action for linking to the World and excerpting articles for criticism, both very much protected under fair use. The blogosphere rose to the occasion, frequently hitting Bates’ tip jar when they weren’t hitting the World upside the head with a clue bat. Legal counsel for the Media Bloggers Association did a little threatening of his own, thus putting the World in its place.

On the flip side, Creators Syndicate tried to threaten a liberal blog, News Hounds, for linking to a Bill O’Reilly column.

The award will be made at the end of the year by Rathergate, a media bias watchdog that was involved in uncovering the forgeries purporting to be from President Bush's superiors about his service in the Air National Guard. The award is named for Mary Mapes, the 60 Minutes II producer who "found" the memos and pushed to get them on the airs.

It shouldn't be forgotten that I wasn't the only blogger or website threatened by the Whirled. Chris Medlock, Tulsans for Election Integrity, and TulsaNow also received similar threats -- see articles here and here. Although blogs and websites supportive of the reformers on the City Council were threatened for merely linking and excerpting for the purpose of criticism, no such threats were received by the group pushing to recall two of those reformers, even though they published the full text of 76 articles from the newspaper, without any comment or criticism, and have not received any threats from the newspaper for their blatant copyright violations, which are still online. In fact, the pro-recall group published the full text of Tulsa Whirled articles in the attack newspapers sent to voters in the affected districts.

As the Rathergate article mentions, there was an outpouring of encouraging support from my fellow bloggers, who recognized that the Whirled's threat is a threat to every blogger. You can read the whole saga, including links to some of the heartening and humorous reaction from the blogosphere, in the Tulsa World category archive.

The latest and greatest example of media bias at the Tulsa Whirled? Robert Lorton, chairman and CEO of the Whirled's parent company (and former publisher of the paper, and daddy of the current publisher), contributed $2,500 to a political action committee which channelled the money directly to a campaign committee supporting the recall of two Tulsa City Councilors. It appears that by giving to the PAC, Lorton intended to avoid exposing his contribution until after the election, but thanks to alternative media -- including this blog -- word of the contribution became public, and the newspaper acknowledged the contribution at the end of last week. The paper has been slow to disclose their owners' other business interests when there is a connection to a political controversy.

Thanks to Rathergate's Kevin Craver for helping to spotlight the Tulsa Whirled's bullying tactics. And even more thanks to Kevin for his service to our country in the U. S. Army. Best wishes, Kevin, as you're demobilized and return to civilian life.

You read it here first, but the Tulsa Whirled this morning acknowledged that the chairman and CEO of World Publishing Company, Robert E. Lorton, gave $2,500 to Build PAC Issues, which money was given directly to the Coalition for Reprehensible Government 2004, the committee supporting the recall of Tulsa City Councilors Jim Mautino and Chris Medlock. According to the Whirled story, the PAC registered with the City Clerk's office on June 16, and all the money it has raised so far has been contributed to CFRG. According to CFRG's ethics report, Build PAC Issues contributed $13,600 on June 29.

Josh Fowler, the staff director of Build PAC Issues, who is also executive VP of the Home Builders Association of Greater Tulsa, told the Whirled the PAC wasn't set up to conceal contributions. Then why was it so hastily set up, and why has it given its entire pot of money to one campaign? Since there are no maximums for contributions to issues campaigns (which is how a recall campaign is classified), and since corporate contributions are allowed, there is no reason other than concealment -- PAC contributions don't have to be disclosed until after the election on July 31 -- for someone to give money via this PAC rather than directly to the campaign. And why would a newspaper publisher give money through a home builders PAC, except to try to conceal the donation from the public? (What's that Bible verse on the Whirled masthead? "Publish and set up a standard; publish, and conceal not.")

I wrote earlier that the PAC provided a loophole to avoid the intent of the law that campaign contributions be disclosed before an election, but if the PAC exists only for the purpose of supporting this issue, it must follow the same reporting rules as CFRG and Tulsans for Election Integrity. Enforcing that provision will require someone, and it probably needs to be a registered voter in District 2 or 6, to file a complaint with the District Attorney that Build PAC Issues has violated 51 O.S. 314 and 315.

In other recall news:

District 6 voters have been getting calls claiming that it's not important to show up to vote against recall on Tuesday because Jim Mautino is retiring anyway. That's an utter lie, obviously intended to depress turnout among Jim's supporters.

Dan Paden takes apart this morning's Tulsa Whirled editorial endorsing the recall of Tulsa City Councilors Chris Medlock and Jim Mautino. Click the link and read Dan's entry, "Pukoid Postings at the Whirled". I was going to respond to the Whirled's dreck point-by-point, but Dan's piece is so well-put it doesn't seem quite as urgent. (I've been busy with some behind-the-scenes efforts to help Chris and Jim.) Go read the whole thing.

Oh, and don't expect the Whirled to look into this, but there are reports that the Lortons have contributed $2,500 to the Homebuilders PAC, to be passed through to the Coalition for Reprehensible Government 2004's (CFRG) campaign in favor of recall. By using the PAC to launder the contribution, the Lorton name wouldn't appear on CFRG's list of contributors (assuming the list is even turned in on time). Since the Whirled didn't bother to disclose its interest in Great Plains Airlines until very late in the game, and as far as I know never declared their owner's connection with F&M Bank, don't expect that they'll call attention to any backdoor contributions to the pro-corruption forces.

About this Archive

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

Tulsa World: May 2005 is the previous archive.

Tulsa World: September 2005 is the next archive.

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