Tulsa City Hall: August 2008 Archives

No, TGOV hasn't figured out how to do this, but David Schuttler has. If you're away from a Cox Cable equipped TV and want to watch tonight's City Council debate over the Papa Bear ($2 billion) and Mama Bear ($451 million) street plans, tune into his live video feed page.

City administration officials declined to accept the recommendation of the City Auditor's office to use a process to select an economic development contractor, rather than continuing to renew the Tulsa Metro Chamber (officially the Metropolitan Tulsa Chamber of Commerce -- MTCC) automatically each year. The auditor's recommendation was one of six findings in this audit of the Chamber's compliance with their economic development contract with the city for Fiscal Year 2007.

It's unclear who wrote the administration's response to the audit, but the response sets up a vicious circle. First, here is audit finding 1:

SUMMARY:

It has been a long tradition, dating back to the early 1900's that the City has contracted with MTCC for economic development purposes. City management generally uses a contract awarding methodology prescribed by executive order for selected consultants. However, this type of methodology is not applied when awarding the economic development contract. Without exploring available options for the economic development contract or using the established contract methodology, there is less assurance the value of the services provided is equivalent to the amount of funding expended.

RECOMMENDATIONS:

Stakeholders should use an established contract methodology or contract selection criteria for selecting future economic development contractor(s). Continued funding of MTCC may be the best option available, but without exploring other options, stakeholders cannot be sure.

The administration's response:

Decline. While the processes outlined in the recommendation are sound, until potential alternate providers are identified the use of those processes will be ineffective.

The auditor points out the obvious in a response to the response:

AUDITOR COMMENT:

Decline of the recommendation accepts risk that alternative providers may not be identified and funding expended may not maximize service provided.

In other words, until the city sets criteria, issues a request for proposals, and indicates a willingness to look at other providers, it's unlikely that other providers would emerge to compete with the Chamber.

The auditor, in finding 2, also recommended adding quantifiable performance standards for the economic development contract -- to have a way to measure the outcomes achieved by the contractor.

In finding 3, we learn that the Chamber isn't reporting expenditures on a quarterly basis as required by its contract:

The MTCC contract requires performance reports be submitted 30 days after each calendar quarter and 60 days after the end of the fiscal year. MTCC submits performance reports and marketing plans timely and includes all of the required information, with the exception of budgetary versus actual expenditures data. MTCC senior management stated they did not include the actual expenditures versus budget because it was never required in prior contracts.

Finding 4 reveals that when the Chamber can't find private sponsors for a marketing activity, they just hit up the city for the difference:

MTCC prepares a marketing plan of City funding for proposed activities during the contract period. Some of the proposed activities also involve private funding obtained by MTCC. The marketing plan is provided to the City contract administrator who uses the marketing plan for review of reimbursement requests from MTCC. If MTCC is not successful in securing enough private funding for an activity, they may use funds from other projects to fund the activity. When these changes occur, the City's contract administrator only learns of the change when reimbursement requests for an event are received. For example, in the FY07 marketing plan, $10,000 was earmarked as the City's portion for the LPGA Tournament and $15,000 from private partners. MTCC was unsuccessful in securing sufficient funding from private partners, so the City paid $25,000.

Internal Auditing reviewed the marketing plan and discovered several mathematical errors and some activities listed twice. The contract administrator does not review or verify the plan for accuracy. The contract administrator uses the marketing plan for review of reimbursement requests from MTCC.

Finding 5: The Chamber didn't meet its goal of 300 new sales, contacts, and leads. They only made it to 260. (How hard is it to generate leads?)

Finding 6: The City needs someone with a background in economic development and convention and visitors services to oversee this contract. The auditor notes: "Although MTCC submits performance reports they are not reviewed to ensure performance measures are being met."

If we insist on making economic development a tax-funded activity, the City ought to follow the auditor's recommendations: objective performance measures, ongoing monitoring of performance throughout the year, and a process to allow competition for the economic development contract.

Some wise words in a letter from retired architect Bob Sober to the members of the Tulsa City Council, regarding the proposed Tulsa Stadium Improvement Trust indenture, on the Council's agenda for Thursday night:

Councilors,

The Mayor has asked you to approve the Trust Indenture in this Thursday's Council meeting in one more artificial self-created emergency. Once more you have been set up to overlook the obstacle, this time possibly depriving the public of a new ballpark, stalling the revitalization of downtown and possibly causing the Drillers to move to Jenks. Please, don't fall for it this time.

Take the time necessary to assure that the Tulsa Stadium Trust is really a Public Trust, designed to fairly represent the people. At this point, the Trust has the appearance of a private business disguised (in name only) to look like a Public Trust. The representation of the members and the length of the terms assure tight control of a small group of donors for the first twelve years of its life. This is very important when you consider that all of the decisions concerning the development of the property surrounding the ballpark will be made and committed to bricks and mortar during this period.

Please consider that the following scenario built on both fact and personal opinion:

Faced with the possibility of the Drillers moving to Jenks, the Mayor attempted to find a location in Downtown to keep the Drillers in Tulsa and use the ballpark in conjunction with the Arena to revitalize downtown and stimulate housing and retail growth. The City picked-up the options for the failed attempt to develop a Wal-Mart in the East Village and began negotiations with the Drillers to locate the ballpark in Downtown Tulsa. Frustrated by the sellers inability to establish a purchase price (due to internal lawsuits), the Mayor looked for alternative locations. Turning to her planning consultant for advice, the Mayor selected the current proposed site in the Brady/Greenwood districts. This location is well suited to support the aggressive Brady "Arts" District revitalization effort already underway by the George Kaiser Family Foundation (GKFF) and the conceptual plan to use light rail to solve transportation problems and stimulate high density growth nodes. Like any development deal there are a myriad of problems to solve. First is how do you assemble enough land to construct the ballpark and provide parking (assuming that a ballpark surrounded by parking is appropriate in a downtown location). The solution is to connect the ballpark to the proposed light rail (only one block south) so that existing parking around the city can be used to serve the ballpark. This allows the ballpark to be surrounded by mixed use development, instead of pavement, and furthers the revitalization of the area. This is a beautiful solution and a wonderful service to the citizens of Tulsa. Disappointed by the pace of redevelopment around the new Arena, the Mayor decides that the City should take responsibility for the development of the property around the Ballpark. Creating a special zoning district was inadequate for her vision, the City needed to own the property to assure that the development is family oriented and provides a proper connection to the proposed light rail. This creates two additional problems. First, it doubles the cost of the project from $30M to $60M, second, the property must be assembled (this was already accomplished at the East Village site).

My issues with the Trust Indenture begin here.

Evidence that the City and the donors took the task of assembling the property very seriously is the July 7 meeting of the Brady District Property owners where in the presence of high ranking members of the administration Mr. Boylan stated the eminent domain would be used to acquire property from owners not willing to sell. Possible additional evidence is the termination of the exclusive negotiation agreement between the Tulsa Development Authority (TDA) and Novus Homes, LLC (Novus) an action resulting in a lawsuit and allegations of violations of the City's Ethics Ordinance. Both of these acts are aggressive unfriendly acts of the City threatening the use of its authority to overpower the individual in "the best interest of the City" to assemble the property necessary to support the Mayor's vision. None of this heavy-handedness was required at the East Village location because the land was assemble by a private developer without the threatening power of the City. This property was assembled the "old fashioned way" with and interested buyer and a willing seller. Is it fair to assume that the ballpark in the East Village was to be a private development, the way it was in Jenks, since no trust proposal was considered and no public money was requested? If so, the authority to threaten property owners unwilling to sell came with the discussion of establishing a Public Trust. I don't believe a Public Trust, with 50% of its members not from the donors group, would endorse these actions.

Creating an assessment district including all property owners in the Inner Dispersal Loop (IDL) became necessary to fund acquisition of the property surrounding the ballpark and improving this property in preparation for family oriented mixed-use development. Leasing this property to developers is a very creative method of maintaining the ballpark and surrounding area and assure the vitality of the area for the next 30 years. My hat is off to the Mayor and donors.

Who will develop this property? Obviously, this will be determined by the Trust. Why should these decisions be limited to the Mayor, five donors committing at least $2M to the project and one IDL property owner? Why do the donors have 12 year terms? This has the appearance of a private business using the authority of a Public Trust to threaten and tax property owners. What is to prevent the donor controlled Trust from using Public money to purchase and enhance the value of the property surrounding the ballpark, then lease it back to them selves to develop projects to recover their donations (making the donations an investment not a gift)? This is an appropriate strategy for a private business not a Public Trust. If this is what the City and donors wish to accomplish then they should raise an additional $30M, assemble the property without the authority if City government and run this business as they wish. If the donors are truly making a gift to the City, then create a trust that is dominated by IDL property owners that are not donors nor at businesses dependent on members of the donors group. Please consider a Trust with 15 members (mayor, 7 donors and 7 IDL property owners that are not donors nor at businesses dependent on members of the donors group) with 3 year terms. This is very consistent with existing City Trusts, Commissions, Authorities, etc.

In the recent survey of Tulsa citizens conducted by Collective Strength as part of PLANiTULSA it was discovered that people in Tulsa are worried:

"That those with money have too much influence."

"That city leaders don't understand their needs."

and the key themes from in depth interviews were:

"Well intentioned 'oligarchy' is out of touch."

"Fatalism about lack of zoning and code enforcement and special favors for the wealthy".

The current Trust Indenture supports and perpetuates these concerns. Please reject this agreement and construct in its place one that fairly represents in word and spirit the intention of a PUBLIC Trust.

Thank you,

Bob Sober

Sober was appointed by Mayor Kathy Taylor to chair the PLANiTULSA Advisers and Partners, the steering and community outreach committees for the effort to create a new comprehensive plan for Tulsa. Public confidence in fairness and openness is crucial to the success of that effort. The manner of putting together the ballpark deal undermines that confidence.

Any stadium trust should be limited in the indenture to improvements to blocks 23, 24, and 45, and lots 4, 5, and 6 of block 46 of Tulsa's Original Townsite -- the area between I-244 and Archer, Elgin and the buildings on the west side of Greenwood which survived urban renewal.

It would be simpler just to put the downtown ballpark under the aegis of the existing Tulsa Public Facilities Authority, which manages the Maxwell Convention Center, build it with the assessment and lease funds, and let the donors do their own thing with their own money in the open real estate market.

From the Tulsa Preservation Commission blog:

Please join us Wednesday, August 27th for a Community Workshop to shape and evaluate Tulsa's Historic Preservation Strategy.

This public workshop will be from 5:30 - 7:30pm in the new City Hall, 175 E. 2nd Street, 10th Floor South conference room (map it). On-street parking at meters is free after business hours. Please use the 2nd Street entrance.

Your insights and vision for preserving and enhancing the historic character of Tulsa would be appreciated. We hope to see you there!

For more information, call 918-576-5669. Please feel free to share this invitation with your friends and colleagues.

With the comprehensive plan update underway and national attention on Tulsa's historic assets, thanks to the upcoming National Preservation Conference being held here in October, this may be the moment to make preservation a priority in Tulsa.

RELATED:

Steve Patterson reports that a subsidiary of the National Trust for Historic Preservation is joining the City of St. Louis and the State of Missouri in a SLAPP suit against two preservation activists who filed lawsuits in an effort to save a 100-year-old building in downtown St. Louis.

From "Floyd," on TulsaNow's public forum, regarding the Trust Indenture for the Tulsa Stadium Trust:

Sigh.

If they had just decided to build a stadium and then created a set of special design codes for the stadium district, they could be moving dirt soon. But they can't help themselves from overreaching, can they. And it always ends badly.

I want to know who drafted this thing and why they thought it would fly. I wonder if this was even a unique document or if it came from some kind of template that wasn't tailored to this kind of purpose. 12 yr terms? For the donors? Really?

After Mayor Taylor's confused, tearful performance in front of the TDA, I'm convinced she's not the one actually orchestrating this whole deal. Can anyone tell us who, ostensibly even, is the public face of the ballpark master plan?

I had the impression that BOK President Stan Lybarger was heading this up, but he hasn't really been a public face on the issue. It is interesting that no one showed up at that TDA meeting to speak on behalf of the ballpark donors (other than Mayor Taylor, of course -- and the three board members who didn't recuse themselves but should have).

Another example of the overreach is the TDA's premature termination of their exclusive negotiating period with Will Wilkins and Novus Homes, to which Floyd alluded. Late last week, carltonplace had this to say on TulsaNow's public forum about the frustration many downtown boosters and ballpark backers feel about the Novus Homes situation (reformatted slightly for readability):

The ballpark is not a done deal, the Novus project could have been had the TDA not changed their mind and pulled the offer to Novus in favor of reserving that property for the ball park donors. This action by the TDA whose members are comprised of volunteers that work for companies on the donor list rubs people the wrong way for the following reasons:

1. Frustrated Development: We are begging for downtown development but there is a perception that building in downtown (and dealing with the TDA) is too difficult. That perception now is now reality in many people's minds.

2. Ethical Concerns: Choosing one's employer over this developer whether real or imagined feels wrong.

3. Transparency: Why can't the ballpark and the development work together? Why won't anyone give a valid reason why they can't. Feels like back room politics

4. Treatment:Why did they leave Novus hanging so long and let them continue to spend money and jump through hoops if this final action was what they've intended since the ballpark announcement?

5. History:This isn't the first time that the TDA has acted this way toward a potential buyer. Its no wonder they can't sell and develop a downtown property. What are they holding onto them for? Why did they start empire building? What happened to Jones Lang Lassalle?

This week's column in Urban Tulsa Weekly is an expansion upon my blog entry from last weekend about the efforts by "not-in-my-back-yard" downtown interests to relocate the homeless and indigent away from downtown.

Coincidentally, in this same issue there's Brian Ervin's profile of Steve Whitaker, head of John 3:16 Mission. Here's how he describes the work of John 3:16 Mission.

"The people that I take care of live by the law of the streets, and the law of the streets is very much Darwinian in that it is the strongest that survive," said Whitaker. "But, the John 3:16 Mission is part of God's peaceful kingdom. We're here to love those people back to wellness--to create a loving, caring, nurturing environment for people that are addicted or mentally ill or homeless just by bad luck, to get back on their feet and find their life again."

John 3:16 Mission has had its own encounter with the downtown NIMBYs (emphasis added):

A pervasive attitude of "Not In My Back Yard" is behind efforts to derail his planned expansion of the 56-year-old Mission, he told UTW.

The city's Board of Adjustment granted permission for the expansion in February, but a group of downtown businesses and residents have appealed the decision in the courts.

Their position is that the Mission and other services in the area are attracting the homeless and drug-addicted and threatening the safety and success of ongoing downtown revitalization efforts.

But, Whitaker said it's downtown itself that's attracting them, and that without the Mission and other services to the needy, they would have nowhere else to go, and would be a much more visible problem than they are now (See "No Rest for the Weary" in our Jan. 24-30, 2008, issue at www.urbantulsa.com for some of the early details).

"There is an assumption that this clustering of services in downtown Tulsa is harmful, but people have forgotten history. They've forgotten what happened almost 20 years ago when there was a move afoot to put John 3:16 and the Day Center and the Salvation Army and the jail all in the same area," he said. Whitaker said downtown urban settings, and not services for the homeless, are what attract homeless people: the alleys provide places to sleep and hide and dumpsters to dig through for food or other salvageable items.

"A walkthrough of every city's downtown in America will prove that they are homes for homeless, and if this city's not proactive about treating its homeless population, then all of our dreams for an entertainment district are going to be spoiled, and homelessness will be a true blight then," he said.

(The profile is well worth reading -- covering Whitaker's background in North Tulsa, his martial arts training, how he came to be involved at John 3:16, and his thoughts on homelessness in Tulsa, racism, and the north/south divide.)

In my op-ed, I call attention to a New York City organization called Common Ground which helped reduce the homeless population in Times Square by 87% in two years, not by shipping them out to suburban subdivisions in Queens or Bergen County, but by providing "supportive housing" for them in a renovated hotel in the heart of the Theater District, where they have access to jobs and transportation:

Acquired by Common Ground in 1991, the Times Square is the largest permanent supportive housing project in the nation. A once-stately neighborhood fixture that had fallen into serious disrepair, Common Ground carefully preserved the building's historic character while redeveloping it into housing for 652 low-income and formerly homeless individuals and persons living with HIV/AIDS.

The Times Square combines permanent affordable housing with a range of on-site social services provided by Common Ground's social service partner, the Center for Urban Community Services. Individualized support services are designed to help tenants maintain their housing, address health issues, and pursue education and employment. On-site assistance with physical and mental health issues and substance abuse is available to all tenants, six days a week. Property management services, including 24-hour security, are provided by Common Ground's affiliated not-for-profit property management company, Common Ground Community.

Common Ground's Tenant Services staff offers programs and activities to enhance a sense of community, e.g., a six-week financial literacy workshop, a community health fair, and workshops covering topics such as portrait drawing and cooking. Common areas include a garden roof deck (available for rent to the public); a computer laboratory; a library; an art studio; a medical clinic; 24-hour laundry facilities; a rehearsal space featuring floor-to-ceiling dance mirrors and a piano; and an exercise room.

Richard L. Jones has posted a lengthy comment on my article from his perspective as a pastor who works with the homeless downtown. It's worth reading in its entirety. It includes this funny, pointed analogy:

And to the "powers that be" in Tulsa, when are you going to follow the lead of successful cities that have centralized services for the homeless, and begin to provide real solutions to the problem instead of trying to shuffle them around the city like spreading the peas out on your plate that you didn't want to eat so it that looks like you did?...

Instead of kicking the homeless when they are down, let's all work together to help bring them some dignity and assistance in getting the help they need to break free from the cycle of despair. Basic human services and health care in a more centralized environment would be a good place to start.

I had been planning on writing a column about the various streets proposals -- Papa Bear, Mama Bear, and Baby Bear -- but each week a bigger and more urgent issue cropped up.

I've got worries about all the packages, but especially about the big one -- a 12 year, $2 billion commitment. Supporters of the big package say that the other plans won't get the job done and won't bring our street conditions up as far and as fast as the big package.

I finally sat down tonight and looked at the project list and allocations for the $2 billion package. I'm bothered when I see a nine-digit dollar figure with no explanation for how that number was derived. For example: $221,500,000 for "street maintenance" to include "vegetation / mowing; snow and ice removal; graffiti abatement; pavement crack and joint sealing; permanent pavement patching (6 crews); special projects; street milling; street paving crews." There's another $128,100,000 for traffic engineering, $32.2 million for street-related administration, and $8.8 million for engineering services and inspection. That's just the operational part of the package -- a mere 20% of the total.

That's as far as the numbers are broken down -- the draft I have doesn't tell how much of that $221.5 million is for graffiti and how much is for "special projects" or what those special projects might be. Somewhere there must be a spreadsheet that has an estimate for each line item and a basis or formula that explains how each estimate was derived. How much of each number is for manpower and how much is for material? What inflation factors have been included? How many miles of street milling do we get for whatever share of $221.5 million is allocated to that purpose? Are general and administrative costs factored in?

Over the years in my day job, I've been involved from time to time in putting together proposals, including some for the DOD. Some of these have been "unsolicited" proposals, where the customer has expressed some need but hasn't laid out detailed requirements. It's similar to what city officials have done in response to the expressed concern about the condition of our streets. You develop a recommended solution and provide a price for that solution.

A big project will be split into major line items and sub-items, and each item is split out into many small tasks. You estimate man-hours for each of those small tasks as well as cost of the materials you'll need to do the job and any work you'll need to contract out to someone else. For each estimate of hours or other costs, there is usually some amount of backup material, a basis for the bid, such as a quote from a vendor or actual hours for a similar task on another project. All those little numbers are rolled up, weighted for projected inflation if the project is likely to stretch out over several years, and the project's fair share of the overhead costs for running the company (e.g., paying the salaries of the payroll clerk and the HR director and paying the electric bill).

Something like that kind of cost estimation must have been done for this package, and if it wasn't it should have been. If it exists, it ought to be made available for the public to see. Those are awfully big numbers for big tasks that are hard to estimate. It would be reassuring to see the little numbers for the little tasks that were rolled up into those big nine-figure numbers.

Bill Kumpe was at the THA meeting today regarding the proposed facility at I-244 and Yale to replace the Downtown YMCA residence and has an eyewitness report. Here's an excerpt:

The class distinction between the people supporting the project and the people was striking. Almost all of the people supporting the project are professionals or wealthy donors. There are no such facilities located in THEIR neighborhoods. When was planned at 10th and Utica, the homeowners there killed it. On the other hand, most of the people opposing the project don't have a lot of options. Everything they have is tied up in their home and any reduction in its value will simply mean that they have to live with the consequences or let it be foreclosed since nobody in his right mind is going to buy a home near a homeless shelter. In effect, the people with money to live in a neighborhood without this type of facility are telling them that they will live with this problem and take the resulting financial hit as well.

The sheer arrogance of these people is stunning. They may actually succeed in getting the facility built. But, it will not be the wealthy donors running for election next time around. There was recall talk all over the room. Every city councilman who supported this project will hear about it again. There are about twenty thousand people in the affected neighborhoods and given the turnout at today's meeting, I would estimate that about ten thousand of them are hopping mad at Mayor Kathy Taylor, Ruth Kaiser Nelson, the City Council and anyone else remotely associated with this project. This is the type of political affront that does not go away and somebody, probably the elected officials and city employees who made it possible, will pay the price since they are the only people the voters can access.

The agenda for tomorrow's Tulsa City Council Urban and Economic Development committee includes a discussion of a draft of the Tulsa Stadium Trust indenture, the Title 60 Trust that will get to spend the money raised by the downtown assessment district the Council approved last month. The proposal creates a self-perpetuating Board of Trustees, five members of which will be major donors to the ballpark. Trustees will serve 12 year terms and can only be removed by court action for malfeasance. (Three years is a standard term for members of public trusts.)

The City Council should demand full public disclosure of the entire ballpark development deal -- pledged revenues, planned expenditures, who has been promised what piece of land -- prior to taking any action on the trust, and the trust indenture should require shorter terms, nomination of all trustees by the Mayor, and a provision to remove trustees by action of the City Council.

I'm beginning to think the better way to handle the ballpark is to make it fully private. Let the ballpark donors come to the TDA with a development proposal for the proposed ballpark site and put the proposal through the standard process. They wouldn't get the downtown assessment district money, but they don't really need it. They have enough donations lined up to pay for a quality 6000-seat ballpark. Then they can own it and run it as they see fit.

Shahadi must go

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When a mayoral appointee to a city authority, board, or commission behaves badly, it's rare that our elected officials have an immediate opportunity for corrective action.

Tulsa Development Authority (TDA) board member George Shahadi has been nominated by Mayor Kathy Taylor for another term. His renomination comes before the City Council Urban and Economic Development Committee tomorrow (August 12) at 10 a.m., in Room 201 of old City Hall. (Here is a link to Shahadi's resume.)

Last Thursday, Shahadi voted to prematurely terminate the TDA's exclusive negotiating period with Novus Homes LLC concerning the half-block west of Elgin Ave. between Archer and Brady Streets. The exclusive negotiating period was set to expire on September 4. Instead, when the TDA tract across the street began being discussed as a ballpark location, TDA and city officials began stonewalling Novus Homes' attempts to move their negotiations forward.

Shahadi should have recused himself as soon as the agenda item. He is the director of real estate for the Williams Companies, and his employer is in the group of donors seeking to gain control of the land surrounding the proposed location of a new Drillers Stadium. Shahadi stated at the meeting that he had no obligation to recuse, since his employer was seeking this control for the public good and not for its own profit.

Nevertheless, there's a clear conflict of interest because Shahadi's employer has an interest in the same property about which TDA had promised good-faith negotiations with Novus Homes. Under the circumstances, Shahadi can't be expected to be impartial in weighing the TDA's interests and the public interest in fair dealing versus his employer's interest. The fact that he can't perceive an obvious conflict is reason enough for the City Council to deny his reappoinment.

There are more conflicts coming, because the biggest piece of property in the ballpark puzzle is also owned by the TDA. Employees of Williams and Bank of Oklahoma shouldn't be sitting on the TDA when decisions are made as to the contract terms for the land.

The City Council has an excellent opportunity to take a stand for fairness and openness in government. They have an immediate chance to redress the injustice done to Will Wilkins and Novus Homes at last Thursday's TDA meeting. They need to thank Mr. Shahadi for his service to date and ask Mayor Taylor to send them a replacement nominee.

MORE: Retired architect Bob Sober sent this letter to the City Council:

City Councilors,

On Tuesday morning you will consider the re-appointment of George Shahadi to the Tulsa Development Authority (TDA), please consider the following:

During the TDA meeting last Thursday the 120 Lofts project was discussed extensively. Mr. Shahadi was asked to recuse himself from the discussions and vote, to which he refused. Mr. Shahadi is the Director of Corporate Real Estate for Williams Companies. Williams is one of the listed donors to the ballpark stadium and the eventual public Trust. As you know, the George Kaiser Foundation is attempting to purchase the properties surrounding the ballpark for the yet to be formed "ballpark" trust. The property planned for the 120 Lofts development was identified as one of those desired by the trust. Since Mr. Shahadi's employer has an interest in the disposition in this property, Mr. Shahadi had a clear conflict of interest. Voting members of the TDA should recuse themselves when presented with a real or perceived conflict of interest.

It would be a disservice to the citizens of Tulsa to re-appoint an individual unwilling to take seriously the trust of this council and refrain from influencing the decisions of the TDA when he can not possibly be objective. With direct ties to a donor that will have significant impact on one of the largest public investments in downtown Tulsa and the disposition of surrounding lands for future development Mr. Shahadi can not possibly serve the TDA without impacting his employer. Furthermore, any redevelopment in this area will have a direct impact on the value of the surrounding property. The Williams Companies, being one of the largest property owners in the vicinity to the proposed ballpark, could gain significantly by influencing the decisions of the TDA through their Director of Corporate Real Estate, Mr. Shahadi. Please, do not re-appoint Mr. Shahadi.

Thank you,

Bob Sober


Ruth Kaiser Nelson was, for all practical purposes, my first Latin teacher. When I was an eighth-grader, our scheduled teacher, Bill Bippus, took a semester's leave of absence, and Mrs. Nelson taught us instead. Because the class occurred during the girls' PE period, it was an all-boy class, and Mrs. Nelson, the mother of three boys and a girl, did a fine job of keeping us in line, but also keeping us amused, and giving us a good start in the language.

I'm sure Mrs. Nelson is familiar with this sententia sapiens: Quod licet Jovi, non licet bovi. Literally, it means, "What is permitted to Jupiter is not permitted to the ox." It is a justification for double standards for the wealthy and connected versus the hoi polloi. The standards which apply to the commoner should not bind the plutocrat.

At Thursday night's City Council meeting, homeowners from the neighborhoods near Admiral and Yale came to protest the location of a 76-unit home for the chronically homeless, some of whom are currently housed at the downtown YMCA, some of whom are mentally ill. The large apartment building is part of the Building Tulsa Building Lives (BTBL) initiative. The Ruth K. Nelson Revocable Trust is listed as one of the initiative's principal partners, along with the George Kaiser Family Foundation (Mr. Kaiser and Mrs. Nelson are siblings), and the Tulsa Housing Authority, a public trust of which Mrs. Nelson is the chairman.

According to the Tulsa World report, Mrs. Nelson characterized the concerns of neighboring homeowners as typical NIMBYism:

Neighbors typically have a "not in my backyard" response, she said.

"If we were to move all of these facilities to places where no one would protest, they would be in the middle of nowhere," she said.

"Isolated people would not have the opportunity to rebuild their lives and become productive members of society."

The site was selected because it is relatively close to downtown, where many social service agencies are located, is next to a bus route and has stores nearby that residents can walk to, Nelson said.

The concern for isolation is touching, but she is making these people more isolated than they already are. At the Y, they are downtown, "where many social service agencies are located." She's moving them four miles from those services on the west side of downtown.

At the Y, they live a block away from a bus station that gives them access to 20 bus lines which will take them directly to shopping, jobs, doctors, parks, and services without needing to transfer. Four of those lines provide night time service to hospitals and schools for shift work and night classes. She wants them to live where they'll have only a single bus line, and they'll have to wait around and transfer at the downtown bus station to get anywhere else in the city. They won't have any access to nighttime service.

At the Downtown Y, they have the library and the County Courthouse across the street and the State Office Building and a hospital just a few blocks further west. Riverparks is about a mile to the south. There are a half dozen churches downtown. Social service agencies are just a few blocks north. There aren't any groceries nearby, but there are a few convenience stores not too far away, there are many nearby places to eat, at least at breakfast and lunchtime, and the bus can take them to their choice of grocery stores. They won't even have to walk far to see the Eagles or Celine Dion at the BOK Center. walkscore.com gives the location a rating of 89 -- "very walkable."

At Yale and Admiral, there is a Sonic across the street, a nearby QuikTrip, and it's about three-quarters of a mile to the Piggly Wiggly. The nearest library is in Maxwell Park, about a mile away, and it's only a small branch in the middle of a neighborhood. There's a bar just two blocks away, right across the street from a plasma center. Dong's Gun Store is about six blocks away -- handy for those who are hearing voices in their heads.There are a few churches down Yale. 10 S. Yale has a walkscore.com rating of 45 -- "car dependent."

Moving residents of the Downtown Y to Admiral and Yale will make them more isolated than they are now, not less. So why are these mentally ill, semi-homeless people really being moved out of downtown? Because downtown property owners and the BOK Center management and Downtown Tulsa Unlimited are NIMBYs. They don't want these people in their backyard. They even say so on their "Building Tulsa, Building Lives" website:

The opening of the BOK Center and other Vision 2025 projects are important components in securing the economic future of downtown Tulsa. But before downtown can become the vibrant destination it has the potential to be, developers and investors must be assured of its inviting and family-friendly environment.

Eliminating homelessness will attract further development and investment to downtown.

But it's OK for George Kaiser and Jim Norton and Kathy Taylor and Twenty-First Properties and SMG to be NIMBYs. If your place cost $200 million, you're allowed to say, "There goes the neighborhood," even if that $200 million came mostly from the taxpayers. If you have a nice little 1,000 sq. ft., $60,000 house, that you paid for yourself you're not allowed to say that. You know: Quod licet Jovi, non licet bovi.

(What's funny is that the neighbors that seem to be a problem for the BOK Center were there before the site was selected for the BOK Center. A number of us pointed out that between the jail, the bail bondsmen, the homeless shelters, the Y, the Sheriff's Office, and the Courthouse wasn't the smartest location for the arena -- maybe they should put it closer to existing entertainment districts on the other side of downtown -- but someone with influence has land along Denver just north of the south leg of the IDL, so that's where the arena went. Is it fair to be a NIMBY about neighbors who were there before you moved in?

According to the World, "After listening to the protests, Councilor John Eagleton said people can try to push such a project out of their neighborhood out of fear, but that doesn't make it right." Shouldn't he have been saying that to the downtown interests who want to clear the homeless out of downtown?)

The residents who spoke at the meeting were treated with a great deal of condescension. They were told that their fears were unfounded, abhorrent even, a sign of moral inferiority. The residents of this new facility will not pose a threat to their safety or their property values, thanks to new programs and new methods for helping these people become productive citizens again.

But if these new programs and methods are so effective, wouldn't they work just as well in a remodeled facility downtown, with the added bonus of keeping these people in familiar surroundings and connected to job opportunities and services and transportation? The fact that Mrs. Nelson and her brother and DTU and Mayor Taylor and SMG are so anxious to get these people away from downtown suggests that they don't really believe in the efficacy of their methods.

And the argument about having to demolish the Y residence doesn't hold any water. I suspect they could add sprinklers and remodel the building to meet fire code for much less than the $17 million in private pledges and state grants that they're spending on the Admiral and Yale facility.

But BTBL backers don't have to be consistent or logical or reasonable to get their way with city government, and they can be NIMBYs if they want to: Quod licet Jovi, non licet bovi.

Quod licet Jovi, non licet bovi works with exclusive negotiating periods, too.

If you're Kathy Taylor, of course you should expect Tulsa Drillers owner Chuck Lamson to honor his exclusive negotiating period with the city, and even to extend it if need be. I'm sure she'd be teary and outraged if Lamson had terminated the exclusive negotiations a month early to go flirt with Jenks Mayor Vic Vreeland again. But how dare lowly entrepreneur Will Wilkins expect the Tulsa Development Authority to honor their commitment to an exclusive negotiating period! How dare he rally public support to try to prevent the TDA from breaking their word! Only wealthy and connected and powerful people have a right to expect such commitments to be honored.

(From the World: "Exclusive negotiations preclude the team from entertaining other offers...." Not if you're the TDA, they don't.)

Quod licet Jovi, non licet bovi.

But that's an ancient pagan thought. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob insists on a single standard for all:

You shall do no injustice in court. You shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great, but in righteousness shall you judge your neighbor.

MORE: David Schuttler says that Councilor Eric Gomez's comparison of the Treepoint Apartments in his neighborhood to the proposed I-244 and Yale facility is apples and oranges.

What a day. We learned a lot.

We learned that when the Tulsa Development Authority approves an exclusive negotiating period, it's not necessarily exclusive -- they'll shove you aside if a more powerful suitor comes along -- they may not negotiate in good faith, and the period may be terminated at any time. (The TDA's exclusive negotiating periods are neither exclusive, nor negotiating, nor a period. Discuss.)

We learned that Tulsa Mayor Kathy Taylor is on the verge of a crackup, perhaps because of the pressure of holding together a crumbling behind-the-scenes ballpark financing deal by publicly screwing over a small businessman who is offering the very kind of creative, urban residential and retail development everyone says we want downtown. She knows full well how bad this looks, but I'm guessing that if she were to stand up for what's right, she'd have to renege on some secret promise that was made concerning the Lofts @ 120 parcel of land. One thing was clear from Taylor's teary appearance: Whoever's in charge of city government, it isn't her.

Taylor said she didn't have a vote, but she did have a voice. She used that voice to belittle Will Wilkins's attempt to rally public support as "bickering." She used it to justify booting the Wilkinses out of their exclusive negotiating petition in the name of "a beautifully woven fabric" of new development around the new ballpark.

They say they want lofts, restaurants, and off-street parking, and that's exactly what the Wilkinses had proposed for that corner long before the ballpark was announced for the other side of the street. The Wilkinses were willing to adjust their plans as necessary to be compatible with the design and use aims for the ballpark's environs. But I suspect their chief deficiency is that they aren't named Jay Helm, and their company isn't called American Residential Group.

We learned today that the TDA board isn't fond of public scrutiny, and they're a little fuzzy on what constitutes a conflict of interest and how to handle recusal. If you're a TDA board member and your employer is part of a group that wants control of the same piece of property that is the subject of this premature termination of an exclusive negotiating period, you have a conflict of interest. Saying that your employer doesn't stand to gain financially and is only acting in what it perceives to be the public interest isn't the point. It's still a conflict because your employer's aims don't necessarily line up with the TDA's best interest or the interest of fairness to all.

Also, if you do feel the need to recuse yourself, you're supposed to absent yourself from the entire discussion. Instead, board member John Clayman, employed by Frederic Dorwart Lawyers and someone who has often represented Bank of Oklahoma in court, not only sat through and participated in discussion (shaking his head rapidly during much of Will Wilkins' remarks -- I thought we were about to see the reenactment of a scene from Scanners), he seconded the motion to abort the exclusive negotiating period. Then after Wilkins reminded him that he recused himself during the April 17 vote to extend the contract, Klayman abstained when his name was called. Paula Bryant-Ellis, a BOK executive and the newest board member, recused herself right before the vote. George Shahadi, director of real estate for Williams, another company that is part of the group trying to control all the land around the ballpark, should have recused himself, but didn't.

Here are some links to help fill in the blanks. I thought the Tulsa World's Brian Barber did a fine job of capturing the mood and the substance of the meeting. (Don't be surprised if his piece is severely edited for the print version to make the Mayor look better.) I was pleased to see KOTV and KTUL there. KTUL's Bert Mummolo has followed the story closely -- here's his coverage from today and here's the video. But today I thought KOTV did a better job of telling the story of today's meeting with words and video, including some video from Mayor Taylor's speech. I'm just happy to see a couple of TV stations show such interest in covering an issue which is not very telegenic.

1170 KFAQ's Chris Medlock was at the meeting today and had audio from the meeting plus Will Wilkins as a guest in studio. (Here's hour 1; here's hour 2.) Also, Pat Campbell was asking questions about a secret meeting involving Councilor Eric Gomez and the ballpark donors. (His podcast from Thursday morning hasn't been posted yet for some reason.)

There's more to be said about this meeting, which architect Bob Sober, who counts himself a friend to both Mayor Taylor and the Wilkinses, said was like watching a "slow-motion train wreck." For now, check out those links.

And here are a few comments from around the web.

On TulsaNow's public forum, Floyd responds to Taylor's comments about wanting a "beautifully woven fabric" around the ballpark:

Wow.

Honestly? Get it together. How tone deaf can she be? It's not hard to see how this narrative has developed. At least counter the narrative with a prepared statement regarding the specific plans/intentions of this "trust" and perhaps an offer of inclusion. Don't cry about destruction and beautiful fabrics--give the entrepreneurs some credit for their vision. How about a multicolored quilt, instead of a "beautiful fabric?"

Me, later in the same thread, responding to Taylor's complaints about the environs of the BOK Center:

I recall a lengthy thread on this forum right after the Vision 2025 vote about the best location for the arena. Many people remarked about the drawbacks of the site that was chosen. I think someone even suggested the site now being discussed as the ballpark site, because it was close to existing entertainment areas and OSU-Tulsa.

The way to address the concern about nearby future development is first to pick a site that is already near the kind of development you want -- they've done that by picking the Archer/Elgin site -- and, second, to establish a special zoning district around the ballpark with design and development standards and a means for enforcement. Oklahoma City established such a district in and around Bricktown.

Design standards for downtown were part of the Downtown Tulsa CORE Recommendations:

District One of the City of Tulsa's Comprehensive Plan, the Central Business District (CBD), is a district that deserves special consideration; as such, we should develop District Standards for design review to ensure compatible, high-quality development and redevelopment. Recommendations of the existing Comprehensive Plan for District One (downtown) such as district design standards and review should be revisited for present use and coordinated with the Comprehensive Plan Update.

When the CORE Recommendations came under attack from a major downtown property owner and from DTU, Mayor Taylor might have supported the idea and helped to move it forward. Instead, her aide, Susan Neal, encouraged the recommendations to be shelved.


"The Artist":

I still dont get what they apparently expect is going to happen around the ballpark? What is it that the TDA thinks is going to be better that the Wilkinsons couldnt improve their development to be like or that could go in those other spaces nearby? This finely woven fabric, is that to be one huge developer? Many small ones? If its the former I can understand wanting a lot of land because thats one of the reasons previous developments have fallen through because they couldnt get all the property they needed. But here they are saying they will use eminent domain and there is other property by the 120 lofts site that can be used. If its small developments.... what are the criteria such that the 120 lofts are not a good fit anywhere in the development area? Cause surely the 120 loft people would have traded for another spot if it was deemed that the spot they have now is "needed" to make everything work.

Nothing the TDA or the Mayor is saying makes any sense. Sounds like they are grasping at straws or are just completely oblivious.

They are giving us this "Why cant we all get along and do whats best for everyone and the city." plea. But its been them who have shoved aside the hand the Wilkinsons had been extending in order to try to find a fair, sporting, "gentlemanly" solution. Someone should have said to the Wilkinsons... "Hey, we really feel like we need that spot in order for this project to work. Here is why.... We know you have done a lot of work so far, can we work together and (find another spot in the development, or make design changes, or collaborate on making it better to fit what we think is needed, etc. etc.) There are all kinds of possibilities that would have been the proper way to go.

I was brought up that if you make an agreement, say your going to do something. You abide by that, even if it becomes difficult to do so, even if you become hurt by doing so. You keep your word! Even if its not written, you do the right thing by people. These developers were there first, were doing the right things, and whether anyone else likes it or not, whether its convenient or not. You do the right thing by them, and for yourself. Not to mention in this case there are plenty of opportunities to work this out for the benefit of everyone. Not just blow them off and treat them like dirt.

"Stick61" in a couple of comments on the Tulsa World story:

One of the problems here is that TDA risks losing credibility with the modest-scale element of the development community by treating one of its members shabbily. Mr. Bracy lacks credibility when he says that he is not "bound by politics." Of course, he is bound by politics. This ballpark proposal is a political freight train and he's trying to clear a path for it. In the process, he's asking Mr. Wilkins to shut up and be happy about losing $15,000. If I were in Mr. Wilkins' shoes (I don't know him), I would never do business with TDA again because I would consider its behavior in this matter dishonorable.

I believe that the Mayor does very badly want to see positive development downtown. And she is correct to lend the energy of her office to constructive proposals, including a proposal to build a new ballpark to keep the Drillers in Tulsa. However, she should spare us the tears and make a commitment to treating people with more consideration than Mr. Wilkins has been treated. The gentleman may not have worded his inflammatory email as artfully as he should have, but that doesn't excuse the fact that he appears to have been given the bum's rush. Bickering ceases, or at least decreases, when people are shown due respect. The mayor must do a better job of building consensus.

Tonight (Thursday, August 7) the Tulsa City Council will reconsider a resolution it passed last week. The resolution, jointly issued with the Tulsa Housing Authority dealt with four lots on the west side of Yale between Admiral Place and I-244, declaring it to be "in the public interest" for TDA to develop the property as part of the "Building Tulsa Building Lives" initiative. Here's the text:

JOINT RESOLUTION

A JOINT RESOLUTION OF THE CITY OF TULSA AND THE HOUSING AUTHORITY OF THE CITY OF TULSA (THA), DECLARING THE DEVELOPMENT OF 10 SOUTH YALE, TULSA, OKLAHOMA, BY THA AS PART OF THE "BUILDING TULSA BUILDING LIVES" INITIATIVE TO BE IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST.

WHEREAS, pursuant to 63 O.S., ยง 1061(b), a joint public hearing was held on July 31, 2008, by the Housing Authority of the City of Tulsa (THA) and the City Council of the City of Tulsa, Oklahoma, to consider new development on the collective properties known as 10 South Yale, Tulsa, Oklahoma; and

WHEREAS, at such public hearing it was determined by a majority of the members of both THA and the City Council that such development is in the public interest.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the City of Tulsa, Oklahoma, and the Housing Authority of the City of Tulsa that it is in the public interest for the Housing Authority of the City of Tulsa, as part of the "Building Tulsa Building Lives" initiative, to develop the collective properties known as 10 South Yale, Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Building Tulsa, Building Lives is an initiative to address homelessness. The website's home page says this:

When homelessness became an issue in the late '70s, the accepted treatments were shelters and meals. And Tulsa provided. But new research points to a new approach - one that manages the symptoms of homelessness more effectively and may be the answer to virtually ending chronic homelessness altogether.

Note the word "chronic" -- this isn't about people who are temporarily in straitened circumstances, but troubled people -- mostly men -- who by reason of mental illness or addiction can't function in a society that requires a degree of personal responsibility. Some of these people want to be helped, and organizations like John 3:16 Mission work to rebuild their lives. Other organizations simply provide food and shelter without no strings attached. Some homeless people aren't allowed in the shelters because they won't follow rules or because they may be a danger to others.

Some of the people we're talking about aren't really homeless. They're what an earlier time called transients. They have a home, but they don't need or want something that they have to take care of. They just need an inexpensive place to sleep and keep their things. There used to be accommodations that catered to them -- bedsits, single-room occupancy (SRO) hotels -- a cheap place to sleep, maybe a sink in the room, and a bathroom down the hall. Such places used to be plentiful in downtown. The Downtown YMCA is about the only place left like that, and it's inconveniently close to the BOK Center. It's slated to close by 2010, in part because of new fire regulations that would require expensive renovations to the building. Here's what will replace the Y:

The program would provide a basic housing unit to each chronically homeless person and then surround that person with support services to work on personal issues. Housing would be provided with no strings attached.

The 52-year-old downtown YMCA, 515 S. Denver Ave., has 168 housing units. About 140 men, many of whom have been homeless or trapped in a cycle of chronic homelessness, now live there.

The Zarrow Families Foundation has provided funding for a full-time caseworker at the YMCA to locate housing options for the residents.

The Mental Health Association in Tulsa has been leasing a floor at the YMCA building to provide 25 units in its Safe Haven housing program.

Executive Director Mike Brose said the association is looking for other housing options, adding that "the closing provides the community an opportunity.

"That opportunity means finding ways to replace those units with housing that is not overly congregated -- more scattered sites and that will work much better and be more appropriate for individuals who stay there," he said.

The "Building Tulsa" page reveals a key piece of the agenda:

The opening of the BOK Center and other Vision 2025 projects are important components in securing the economic future of downtown Tulsa. But before downtown can become the vibrant destination it has the potential to be, developers and investors must be assured of its inviting and family-friendly environment.

Eliminating homelessness will attract further development and investment to downtown.

In other words, get the aggressive panhandlers and other unsightly vagrants out of sight, so that people won't be deterred from coming downtown.

I'm not sure what Tulsa Housing Authority plans for I-244 and Yale, except that it's intended to serve the "chronic homeless." I'm not sure the City Council knew what they were being asked to vote on last week.

Because there was no zoning change, there was no public notice to surrounding property owners. I understand the desire to clear vagrants out of downtown, but putting them next to three residential neighborhoods isn't good for the surrounding neighborhoods or for the vagrants, who need access to social services and the bus network. It also seems to be a non-strategic use of one of the interstate gateways to Expo Square -- visitors coming to Expo Square from east and north of Tulsa or from the airport take I-244 to Yale.

We need to support those who are providing help to those who can't cope with daily life, but when a public body like THA is involved, we need to have full public disclosure and debate of what help is provided and where.

This week's column in Urban Tulsa Weekly is about developers Will Wilkins and Cecilia Wilkins and how they're being squeezed out of their their exclusive deal with the Tulsa Development Authority to develop a parcel at Archer and Elgin. All was well when no one wanted the land back in January, but now it's across the street from the site of the new ballpark for the Tulsa Drillers. The ballpark donors want to control all of the land around the ballpark site, and the Wilkinses' deal with TDA gets in the way of that.

At City Councilor Rick Westcott's invitation, Wilkins appeared at yesterday's Urban and Economic Development committee meeting. KTUL's Burt Mummolo has the story, which will give you a brief overview of the situation:

[KTUL's embed code wasn't working, so I removed it. Click here to watch the video.]

Here's a link to the story transcript.

I was surprised to see Mayor Kathy Taylor tell KTUL, "I have not seen anything that leads me to believe the TDA is opposed to the Wilkins development."

Hey, Mayor Taylor, have you seen this letter from the TDA chairman? I know you have because you issued a response to it last week:

July 29, 2008

Stephen A. Schuller, Esq.
GABLE & GOTWALS
1100 ONEOK Plaza
One West Fifth Street
Tulsa, Oklahoma 74103-4217

Re: Tulsa Development Authority Resolution 5423

Dear Mr. Schuller:

We are in receipt of your correspondence dated July 18, 2008. As you know, the City of Tulsa, and several private donors contributing more than $30 million to a public trust, are developing a master plan for a national class Double A baseball park and associated amenities in the Greenwood and Brady Districts. This master plan incorporates the property in which your clients have expressed an interest. The city believes that the development of a coordinated high-quality, arts, entertainment, educational, and mixed-use development surrounding the ballpark is vital.

At the present time, the land under contract with the Greenwood Community Development Corporation has been set aside as a prospective site of the ball park. We have not seen any plans yet that specify the precise limits and any data concerning the proposals comprising the Master Plan. We therefore have no knowledge of what other properties may be affected or included in the Plan. The ball park may require a larger site or a complete change of land use may be recommended.

After further review and conferring with our attorney, Darven Brown, it is my personal feeling that the Tulsa Development Authority should proceed no further in connection with the marketing activities of any of the property in the vicinity of the baseball site location until we have full information concerning the finalized plans adopted by the city. While the Tulsa Development Authority is a separate entity from the city we have always conducted our business in a manner that we consider to be in the city's best interest. That being the case, it would seem to be unwise for the Tulsa Development Authority to proceed further with any negotiations with your client at this time. After all, the city has the right of eminent domain and can take whatever properties become necessary for its municipal purposes.

Because of the foregoing, I feel that it would be in the best interest of the public and the City of Tulsa to terminate any negotiations and cancel the Resolution now in place. I have asked that this item be placed on the agenda for the regular meeting of the Tulsa Development Authority to be held at 8:30 o'clock a.m., on August 7, at which time you may wish to appear.

Yours truly,

S/Carl Bracy, Chairman

xc: Mr. Leon Davis
Mr. Hurst Swiggart
Mr. George Shahadi
Mr. John D. Clayman
Mr. Melvin R. Gilliam
Ms. Paula Bryant-Ellis

Sounds like opposition to me, and he says he's doing it in the "city's best interest."

(Taylor's discomfort in that interview reminds me of Nathan Thurm, Martin Short's shifty lawyer character.)

Here is Taylor's response to Bracy's memo, issued after the issue hit the airwaves last week:

TULSA (KFAQ) - Tulsa Mayor Kathy Taylor has released a statement today reacting to a story in the Tulsa World regarding the possible use of eminent domain to acquire property near the future site of a proposed new downtown ballpark.

Taylor said, "The land on which the ballpark is to be located is currently owned by the Tulsa Development Authority. I am not aware of any request to use condemnation powers to build the ballpark. The rules upon which those powers may be used are very limited in Oklahoma.

The goal of the ballpark is to continue to facilitate private downtown development and further encourage the development of business owners, like Michael Sager, Mary Beth Babcock, Elliot Nelson and others who continue to expand on Tulsa's unique nature.

I neither reviewed nor was I consulted on the draft letter sent by the Tulsa Development Authority to Mr. Schuller. I understand the property that was the subject of the letter would have no issue regarding condemnation as the property is currently owned by the Tulsa Development Authority."

Taylor's statement neatly danced around the central issue raised by Bracy's letter: Whether she will stand idly by while the TDA shreds the exclusive negotiating agreement they had with Cecilia and Will Wilkins.

If you care about fairness and openness in government, this story will make you angry. Read the whole thing, then tune in to 1170 KFAQ this afternoon at 3, when I'll be on Chris Medlock's show to discuss the Wilkinses' situation.

And if you can, you might show up tomorrow morning at the Tulsa Development Authority board meeting, August 7, 8:30 am, on the 15th Floor of One Technology Center (new City Hall, 2nd & Cincinnati), when the TDA will "discuss" their exclusive negotiating agreement with the Wilkinses.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Tulsa City Hall category from August 2008.

Tulsa City Hall: July 2008 is the previous archive.

Tulsa City Hall: September 2008 is the next archive.

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

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