Tulsa City Hall: November 2005 Archives

Know what you're signing. There are reports that Tulsans for Badder Government, the elite bunch pushing for diluting representative democracy in Tulsa, are obtaining petition signatures under false pretenses:

A person went to the post office and a petition was presented for him/her to sign. The top petition page was for the TABOR (Tax Payer Bill of Rights) and all indications were that was the petition being signed. HOWEVER, THE ACTUAL PETITION WAS FOR THE COUNCILOR AT LARGE PROPOSAL. That, folks, is lower in life forms than dung beetles. So, if you are asked to sign a petition, just refuse unless you read everything completely and know for a fact exactly what you are signing.

In addition to being so low, get this; the people asking you to sign the petition, may be breaking the law. Title 34, Oklahoma Statute 3.1, says signature collectors must be citizens of the State of Oklahoma. Violations of that statute can be fined $1000.00 plus 1 year in jail for each offense. Two of the signature gatherers were from out of state and ran away when asked to provide identification.

Remember, a valid petition will always have the gist of the petition on the page you're signing. Be sure you can see and read the whole page before you sign. If you are presented with the at-large councilors petition, ask to see the petition gatherers' ID.

Please report any sightings of the at-large councilors petition to the Tulsans Defending Democracy website -- what day, what time, where, and, if possible, the name of the petition gatherer. Also let TDD know if you've been contacted in any other way about the petition -- a letter in the mail, a phone call, a poll.

Hat tip to MeeCiteeWurkor and Citizens for Fair and Clean Government.

Conspicuously absent

| | TrackBacks (1)

A couple of my Tulsa Blogger colleagues (Steve Roemerman, Mad Okie) noticed that Councilor Bill Christiansen, who is said to be plotting a run for Mayor, was absent from Thursday night's meeting, which was chock full of controversy. Christiansen avoided going on the record for or against allowing city employees to unionize and avoided voting on a couple of key charter change proposals -- protecting historic preservation zoning and reforming the recall process.

Councilor Roscoe Turner surprised a lot of people with his vote the other week against a charter provision to require a councilor to resign if he moves outside his district and again this week with his vote against recall reform. There was a silly rumor going around that Turner swapped his vote on the requirement to live in your district for a vote from Randy Sullivan (the Councilor who doesn't live in his district) to support unionizing city workers. I found that rumor incredible: Turner has enough honor not to make that kind of deal, and enough sense not to trust Randy Sullivan to keep that kind of deal. (On Thursday, Sullivan voted against allowing city workers to unionize.)

I saw Councilor Turner a few days ago and asked him about his vote on the district requirement. He pointed out that state law already authorized the Council to expel a member who moved outside the district, but there needed to be a complaint from a District 7 resident before they could investigate and act.

(I wrote about the relevant statutes back in January when the Whirled finally acknowledged that he no longer lived in the district. Bubbaworld disagrees with my analysis and makes a pretty convincing case that if you moved often enough, the City Charter allows you to run for Council in any district. I could run in District 6, since I was a qualified elector there from 1981 through 1988, and in District 9, since I was a qualified elector there from 1988 through 1993.)

I'm hoping that Councilor Turner was making a tactical move in his vote against recall reform. It couldn't win last Thursday -- Sullivan, Neal, Baker, and Martinson were all against it, so at best it would have been a 4-4 tie, with Christiansen absent -- but Turner's vote against allows him to bring it up at the next meeting for reconsideration when Christiansen is present and will either send the measure on to the voters or at least put Christiansen on record opposing recall reform.

Dave Schuttler has posted some video highlights from last Wednesday's town hall meeting at Martin East Regional Library with Councilors Jim Mautino and Chris Medlock. I was there and thought they both did a great job of answering questions about the third penny, "4 to Fix the County," economic development, and the various airport issues. Watch the videos and see for yourself.

Medlock will be speaking Tuesday night, November 15, at Rudisill North Regional Library, which is at Pine Street and Hartford Ave (1520 N Hartford). The program is scheduled to run from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

From a reader who was at today's Council Committee meeting, at which a resolution was to be considered, opposing the proposal to dismember three council districts and replace them with three supercouncilor seats elected citywide to four year terms:

The Jackal is up to his dirty tricks again. The resolution was pulled from the agenda by Susan Neal because [City Attorney] Alan Jackere called giving his opinion that they were not legally able to vote on a resolution that might affect the outcome of an election. How interesting considering that the Council just passed a resolution last week to support the school bond vote. Oh, the irony of it all!

Can't vote on a resolution that might affect the outcome of an election? In the first place, an election hasn't even been called, and they've only begun to collect petition signatures. Second, as my reader points out, just last week they endorsed the school bond issues, which was intended to affect the outcome of Tuesday's election. And I seem to recall that the Council voted back in 2003 to endorse Vision 2025. Third, what is the controlling legal authority for Jackere's advice? Did he dig out another obscure citation from some obscure jurisdiction -- Nunavit ice fishing regulations, perhaps? Hoyle's rules for canasta? And, finally, every vote the Council takes could have an impact on the outcome of an election. It's a political body, for Pete's sake!

Would Jackere allow the Council to vote on a resolution that expressed opposition in principle to the idea of at-large seats for the council? That wouldn't be about any specific proposal that is now or will be before the voters.

What happened is apparent: Poor Susan Neal doesn't want to go on record supporting this proposal, even though she almost certainly supports it, and her district is the base for most of the support. Or perhaps she's trying to protect potential mayoral candidates Tom Baker and Bill Christiansen from having to go on the record in support. So rather than say she doesn't want to go on the record, she gets cover from Jackere. This bunch is all about shielding public officials from accountability to the voters for their views and actions.

The following press release announces the formation of a group to oppose the plan to dismember three Tulsa City Council districts and replace them with three seats elected citywide:

Tulsans Defending Democracy

"that we here highly resolve... that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish...."

Abraham Lincoln, from the Gettysburg Address, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, November 19, 1863

A Bipartisan group from all parts of Tulsa will announce its formation and its plan to defend democracy. The group will work to preserve fair representation and will fight the ill-conceived petition drive to create 3 At-Large City Councilors with four year terms. Ordinary citizens will have their City Council representation diluted by reducing council districts from 9 to 6 unless this undemocratic plan is stopped.

Where: Embers Restaurant, 81st and Harvard, 9 am, Thursday, November 10, 2005.

For More Information:

herb.beattie@sbcglobal.net  Herb Beattie    749-4586  Dist. 9 
mruouthere@sbcglobal.net Mona Miller 496-1481 Dist. 2
bbrdarrow@cox.net Becky Darrow 369-4487 Dist. 8
rpearcey@mac.com Ray Pearcey 853-1726 Dist. 4

Councilors Chris Medlock and Jim Mautino will speak and field questions at a "town hall" meeting this Wednesday, November 9, from 6 to 8 p.m., in the auditorium of Martin East Regional Library, 2601 S. Garnett Rd. Topics will include the December 13 vote on a new county capital improvements tax, the City of Tulsa's "third-penny" sales tax for capital improvements, due to expire next summer, proposed charter amendments, and other topics pertaining to city government.

Tomorrow during the Tulsa City Council's 10:00 a.m. Urban and Economic Development Committee meeting, Councilors Jack Henderson and Jim Mautino will present a resolution against the at-large councilor proposal being pushed by Tulsans for Blue-Blood Government:

9. Resolution against the proposed initiative petition which seeks to replace three City Council positions elected from specific election districts with three City Council positions elected for the entire city. (Henderson/Mautino) 05-1536

I'm sure Councilors Henderson and Mautino would appreciate support from the public at this meeting.

Some other items of interest, at the 8 a.m. Public Works Committee meeting:

12. Resurvey of screen wall, sign, and trees at Wind River Development on 121st St. between Delaware & Yale Avenues. (Christiansen) 05-1383-2

13. Council discretion and authority with regard to proposed Yale bridge development project. (Christiansen) 05-779-5

14. Discussion with Administration regarding events center naming rights agreement, convention center improvement funding, and any change from the public presentation to voters in the allocation of Vision 2025 funds between the events center and convention center improvements. (Medlock) 05-1533

15. Update from Administration on the status of the Ethics Advisory Committee described in the ethics ordinance. (Turner) 05-1314-2

16. Allowing non-supervisory employees to unionize or bargain collectively. (Turner/Henderson) 05-1486

That item 12 is connected to the bridge issue -- the pro-IVI people have said they can't move that bridge because it would interfere with the Wind River upscale housing development underway at 121st and River Road.

Also, the first item on the 10 a.m. agenda is interesting:

Charles R. Ford - Appointment to the Tulsa Development Authority (TDA); term expires 7/31/08; (replaces A. Adwon). [UED 11/8/05] 05-1406

Adam Adwon is the brother of Mitch Adwon, a close advisor to Mayor Bill LaFortune. Mitch Adwon is said to be involved with the backers of the proposed soccer stadium development in the "East Village" section of downtown. Since TDA-owned land would be involved in any such deal, this looks like a move to eliminate a potential conflict of interest.

Adam Adwon's replacement, Charles R. Ford, is the former State Senator for District 25, representing far south Tulsa and Broken Arrow until he was term-limited for the 2004 election. (It was called Senate District 51 prior to the 2002 redistricting.) Ford lives a couple of blocks east of Southern Hills Country Club. Ford is a distinguished public servant, but he represented and lives in a suburban part of the city. Given that TDA deals with property in the older, urban part of Tulsa, it would make more sense to appoint someone who actually lives and works in Tulsa's urban core.

Tulsa blog roundup


A look at what's new from bloggers who blog about Tulsa politics:

Mad Okie sees Tulsa at the crossroads. The Oklahomilist elaborates on the idea:

This is not about liberal or conservative issues. It's not even about Democrats and Republicans, since it is apparent that the same elitist mindset governs many PTB regardless of party.

It's about transparency in government. It's about trust. Explanations. Consultation. It's about equal opportunity, in advance. It's about keeping first things first. And first things for a city should be good streets, safe homes, good schools.

Anything that takes away from priorities, or that diminishes trust and transparency should be fixed, if possible. If it cannot be fixed it should be isolated and avoided. And the public should know why.

Both pieces are well worth reading.

Steve Denney at HFFZ urges a no vote on 4 to Fix the County and has Mona Miller's speech to the City Council on the charter amendment regarding zoning protest petitions requiring a supermajority council vote on zoning changes.

TulTellitarian says the boards of Tulsa Airport Authority and Tulsa Airport Improvements Trust ought to resign.

Chris Medlock, Tulsa City Councilor and Republican candidate for Mayor, has several recent entries on developments at City Hall regarding the haste with which the management team was selected for the new Tulsa arena (less than 24 hours after the interviews were held) and the interesting link with Bill LaFortune's former boss; corrects a Tulsa Whirled article about the vote on a charter change regarding zoning protest petitions, and corrects TulTellitarian's blog entry (mentioned above) about his status on the Council's airport investigation committee (he's never been chairman or vice chairman, and the committee no longer formally exists); wonders about the connecton between Bill LaFortune's insistence on limiting the ethics ordinance definition of a conflict of interest to two degrees of consanguinity and the fact that his uncle, former Mayor Bob LaFortune, sits on the Bank of Oklahoma board of directors; and a couple of conflicting quotes from the Tulsa Whirled a week ago on the value of the arena to Tulsa's prosperity.

Dave Schuttler (Our Tulsa World) has the news that Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn will be on Meet the Press Sunday morning. If you miss the show, you can subscribe to the podcast -- Dave has the link.

Bobby at Tulsa Topics has video up of the meeting on plans for I-44 widening.

Chimchim has some thoughts about downtown redevelopment:

To me the argument is: Where is downtown going to find its life? its energy? The days of dreaming that huge oil companies be attracted to downtown Tulsa, and will rain down sacks of gold coins on to DTU and the chamber of commerce are over. Those organizations need to wake up and realize that it's 2005. They need to see what's REALLY around them -- a vibrant, energetic, creative class of diverse citizens who are PASSIONATE about downtown and all the beauty and potential it holds -- and embrace that. welcome it with open arms.

Steve Roemerman was having fun with anagrams awhile back. Did his anagram for "Tulsa World" inspire Don Danz's adjustment to the paper's logo? It does look a bit sallow, doesn't it?

(Comments disabled for this entry since I'm linking to others rather than posting my own thoughts.)

An edited version of this column appeared in the November 2, 2005, issue of Urban Tulsa Weekly. The published version is available online via the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine. My blog entry linking the column is here, responses from other bloggers are linked here and here. Posted online October 6, 2017.

Faith and political courage

by Michael Bates

It's been just over a week since "Tulsans for Better Government" launched their initiative petition to change the Tulsa City Charter to cut the number of City Council districts from nine to six and to add three super-councilors, to be elected citywide for four year terms. Already there's a strong backlash: An opposition group is getting organized, and it's drawing support from across the political spectrum. The Tulsa County Democratic Executive Committee has already issued a formal statement opposing the at-large councilor scheme, and grassroots Republicans are pushing for their party to come out against it as well.

Like so many other local issues, it doesn't divide along party lines. Instead you have certain privileged interest groups pushing for it, and ordinary Tulsans, concerned about fairness and equal representation in government, pushing back. Of the 22 members of the advisory board for Tulsans for Better Government, 18 live in the wealthy sections of Council District 9 or right next to Southern Hills Country Club in District 2. District 9 already has two City Councilors living within its borders -District 7 Councilor Randy Sullivan has lived there for nearly two years, preferring not to live among the people who elected him - but apparently that isn't enough for these people.

Of all the provocative things I wrote in last week's column on this topic ("Seeing the Light on City Charter"), this sentence has provoked the most comment: "Councilors Medlock, Mautino, Turner, and Henderson are all men of devout Christian faith."

The statement was in the middle of a paragraph about how these four reform-minded councilors have withstood relentless pressure from the defenders of the status quo. All four have said publicly and privately that their faith in Christ has sustained them through all the trials they have faced.

Over on my blog, batesline.com, Michael Sanditen commented that my statement was "off base and makes you appear a bigot. I will remind you that without the Jews in Tulsa, this town would be extremely pitiful. They are the quiet givers, the anonymous ones, many more than just the Kaisers, Schustermans, and Zarrows!" I'm amazed that the statement, intended as a compliment to the four councilors, would be read as an insult to adherents of any other faith. I concur that the contribution of the Jewish community to the prosperity and welfare of Tulsa far outweighs its numbers, but that has nothing to do with what I wrote.

Other commenters objected to any mention of religion in this context. One wrote, "Whether these men are Christian is irrelevant. Whether these men can perform their duties as city councilors is much more important." Another said, "Religious persuasion (or a lack thereof), for me, is not a litmus [test] for the qualifications for public service. I don't need to know what faith these Councilors follow to know that they are good men.... I hope you will realize bringing religion into the debate will most likely divide us more than it unites us."

I think I understand the root of their objections. If you think of faith as just professing agreement with certain doctrines, then what I wrote would be irrelevant to the discussion. If you confuse faith with religion, then you might well wonder what a Councilor's position on the propriety of infant baptism, which foot to lead with when genuflecting, or whether musical instruments have a place in worship has to do with his performance in office.

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. From the Torah, he knows that God delivered His people from slavery in Egypt, made a way of escape through the Red Sea, provided food for them in the wilderness, and settled them in the Promised Land. In the prophets, he reads of God's hatred for injustice, favoritism, and false dealing.

The politician who believes in the God of the Bible knows that he is in office not because of his brilliant campaign strategy, but because God put him there; in Psalm 75, he reads that "promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south. But God is the judge: he putteth down one, and setteth up another." He reads Jesus' parable of the talents and knows that he is accountable first to God for what he does with the office which has been entrusted to him. He reads Mordecai's appeal to Esther and knows that he too is where he is "for such a time as this" - that it is not by accident that he is in office at this particular moment. There is something to be accomplished now, not put off until after the next election.

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 for 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 World does another front-page hatchet job on you.

History is filled with men and women whose faith gave them the courage to persist in the political realm. One example: William Wilberforce, a member of the British parliament in the early 1800s, was driven by his faith to push first for the abolition of the slave trade, then for the abolition of slavery itself. His faith sustained him through the18 years it took to accomplish the first aim and another 15 years to accomplish the second. He spent most of those years as one lonely voice trying to overcome apathy and the opposition of powerful commercial interests.

There are and have been courageous politicians who are not Bible-believing Jews or Christians, and they draw their strength from other wells. But the Scripture is a deep well from which to draw.

Please understand that I am not talking about the sort of politician who wears his religion on his sleeve, who flits about from one megachurch to another, more in search of votes than spiritual nourishment. And I'm not talking about where a politician stands on any particular issue, although a worldview shaped by Scripture is bound to affect one's platform. I am talking about men and women who have learned through hardships, setbacks, and disappointments that the God of the Bible is still present and is worthy of their complete trust.

We say that we are weary of run-of-the-mill politicians. We are tired of compulsive people-pleasers who can't make a decision and stick with it. We are fed up with officials who abandon reform at the first sign of resistance. We have had it with "public servants" who seek only to serve themselves. 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.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Tulsa City Hall category from November 2005.

Tulsa City Hall: October 2005 is the previous archive.

Tulsa City Hall: December 2005 is the next archive.

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



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