Tulsa Election 2011 Category

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

KRMG ran a story recently contrasting the approach that outgoing and incoming members of the Tulsa City Council take to their jobs. The story features outgoing councilor Jim Mautino and incoming councilor Karen Gilbert.

When asked about controversy over the trash contract, Gilbert demurred:

"I'm not going to talk trash," Karen Gilbert quipped when KRMG began to ask her about ongoing issues.

"That's kind of a touchy subject right now," she added, and she says until the trash board finalizes its presentation to the council, she's not ready to state an opinion.

As for the water issue, Gilbert says she and the council will address that question when the trash question has been put to bed.

So despite the fact that the trash service issue has been under discussion for more than a year, during which time she was a candidate for office and presumably asked about the issue once or twice, despite the fact that radical changes are proposed to a system with which most Tulsans are quite pleased, Gilbert hasn't formed an opinion, at least not one she's willing to share, and won't until, apparently, the untouchable TARE board tells her what to think about the plan they devised.

Meanwhile Jim Mautino was proactively researching issues of concern to his constituents right up until the end of his term:

On the trash issue, he said it's a "done deal" and that the city will award a contract that will force residents to go to once-a-week service, which he says is less efficient and more expensive than the twice-a-week service which 80 percent of the city currently receives.

The other 20 percent of the city in the northwest part of town currently gets service only once a week and that service is provided by the city, Mautino says, not a private company.

And in that area, the city is losing money, he maintains, because the bins get overfilled, the trucks have to make more trips back and forth rather than staying on their routes because they get full so much faster and the workers tire more quickly.

Despite the evidence available right at hand, he maintains the city plans to award its contract to a company that will institute once-a-week service.

As for water treatment, Mautino is among several Tulsans who fear the city's plans to go to a chloramine-based treatment system is also a done deal, despite the fact that the Tulsa Metropolitan Utility Authority has a meeting set for December 14th to hear arguments on the issue.

One of the things that seemed to annoy City Hall bureaucrats about the old council was their habit of raising new issues to be discussed, explored, and acted upon. From the bureaucrats' perspective, this meant more work and their own priorities displaced by the councilors' pet issues.

Nearly all of the outgoing councilors had certain priorities that were inconvenient or outright obnoxious to the administration, the authorities, and special interests. Jim Mautino was concerned about animal control, food truck sanitation, chloramines in water, and encouraging new, high quality development in east Tulsa. John Eagleton pushed for computerization of municipal citations and court records, limiting the growth of the city budget, and integrity in the Mayor's and City Attorney's office. Maria Barnes was particularly interested in protection of midtown neighborhoods from commercial encroachment and inappropriate redevelopment. Roscoe Turner's key issues included the impact of airport noise on nearby neighborhoods and possible pollutants from a burn facility at a cement plant. Fiscal matters, such as the rapid growth of the public safety budget, were a major focus for Rick Westcott. Bill Christiansen led a task force about improving communication between the city and neighborhoods in the zoning process. Chris Trail was concerned about prostitution and human trafficking that might be taking place in Tulsa's massage parlors.

(Trail's noble but ultimately futile attempt to require massage parlor owners to be accountable for criminal activities in their facilities is the topic of a news story by Jennie Lloyd in this week's Urban Tulsa Weekly.)

Although the specific issues varied, in each case these councilors were willing to spend time outside the scheduled meetings to read, to talk to citizens, to commission research from the council staff (and actually read it), and then to keep pushing for action. That's pretty much a recipe for annoying city officials.

It won't be necessary for Burt Holmes or Ben Latham to sit in the front row of the audience and hold up "YES" or "NO" signs to tell their city councilors how to vote. These councilors won't need to attend secret meetings with Chamber lobbyists.

WhatMeDewey.jpgIf Gilbert is representative of the new crop of councilors, they'll be content to be spoon-fed information from the mayor, the department heads, and the members and staffers of authorities, boards, and commissions. The string-pullers need only work behind the scenes to manipulate those who are generating the information that the councilors are consuming. The Complacent Councilors won't seek out alternative perspectives, and they'll be inclined to dismiss any alternative points of view that are brought to them by citizens, because those citizens aren't "experts." They'll vote the "right" way every time, and the department heads, authority members, and mayoral assistants won't have to answer any questions that make them uncomfortable. Never mind that the result may be uncontrollable spending and a decline in our quality of life -- at least those councilors won't be bickering!

And these new Complacent Councilors won't need to devote as many hours as the old Council did. Committee and council meetings will be shorter. There will be no need to read all the backup material, to meet with interested parties, to seek out in-depth research. All they'll need to read is the recommendation at the bottom of the "Request for Action" cover sheet and vote accordingly.

Despite the massive turnover on the City Council, I'm hopeful that the four members who weren't part of the Cockroach Caucus push to take over the Council -- two old, two new -- will continue to ask questions, seek alternative sources of information, look at practices in other cities, and bring new ideas to the table. But proactive councilors should expect to endure the same kind of strident pushback from the mayor, ABC members, bureaucrats, and the Cockroach Caucus that their despised predecessors suffered.

MORE on complacency:

An excellent article on strategies to overcome complacency on the Leadership and Management website identifies nine "forces that reinforce complacency and help maintain the status quo." Here are a few:

  • A lack of sufficient performance feedback from external sources.
  • A kill-the-messenger-of-bad-news, low-candor, low-confrontational culture.
  • Human nature, with its capacity for denial, especially if people are already busy or stressed.
  • Too much happy talk from management.
  • Internal measurement systems that focus on the wrong performance indexes, or no systems at all.

Tulsa certainly has a low-candor, low-confrontational culture, and the defenders of the status quo exploited that negative character quality in their campaign to paint the old City Council as a bunch of counterproductive bickerers. The councilors and their allies in the community (including me) did not succeed in countering the "bickering" meme. It was so universally accepted that two different colleagues congratulated me on the day after the city primary, assuming incorrectly that I would be happy with an outcome that fired four incumbents.

A weird election season has come to an end. Tulsa voters have emptied out the City Council and turned down two radical plans to remake city government (while embracing two ill-considered modifications with bigger impact than voters appreciate).

After the polls closed, I collected results from precincts along the southern tier of District 4. Of the seven locations I personally checked, Ken Brune won only two -- 65 and 156 -- precincts in the heart of the Money Belt that pushed him over the top in the primary, but he won only by slim margins. It was apparent that Republican Blake Ewing would win by a handsome margin. I headed to the historic Church Studio at 3rd Street and Trenton Ave. for Blake Ewing's watch party.

During his victory speech Ewing explained why he chose the venue for his victory party:

"I chose to have it here, because this is one of those hidden gems in Tulsa. This place sat mostly empty for a very long time." He drew an analogy between the studio and Tulsa itself. "It's had this great, beautiful history, and then somewhere along the way it may have lost its way in some places. And the effort of creative, energetic people brought something special back to life again.... I appreciate what the Miller family has done with the Church, and I hope that on a much grander scale we can do that with our city, that we can see its potential and choose to raise the bar across the board, and that as a community we will work towards that together."

Blake surprised me with a very gracious shout-out for my work here at BatesLine during this election season. I found it especially touching because he gets why I do what I do, and one of the things I most appreciate about Blake is his commitment to honesty and transparency, exemplified by his willingness to talk about political machinations that are usually hidden from public view.

"Michael is an asset to our community in that he's a voice that continues to seek out the truth and continues to call things on the carpet for being unjust or for being vague or shady or anything other than transparent. And so I'm proud to call Michael a friend, proud to have had him on our team, and I hope that that same sort of attitude will start prevailing in our city -- that the things that happen behind closed doors or that happen because elite folks pull strings that the rest of us can't -- that we turn the tide as a city and that regular folks like you and I can trust in our government and trust in the future of our city."

(I've posted this here for my own sake, because once in a while, I can use a word of encouragement.)

I was happy to have a small part in helping Blake as a volunteer for the campaign. My five-year-old and I helped him on Saturday by knocking doors in our neighborhood, and from the beginning of the campaign, long before I endorsed him, Blake would call from time to time to use me as a sounding board (as did other candidates in the District 4 race).

The other result that greatly pleased me was the defeat of the at-large council proposal by a 3-to-1 margin. Hopefully that's driven a stake through the heart of a very bad idea.

The rest of the council races went about as planned, with the candidate of the dominant party winning by a 3-to-1 margin in each district, with one surprising exception: District 3, where Republican Dave Bell came within about 140 votes of beating off-and-on Councilor (and off-and-on Democrat) David Patrick. Perhaps the anti-incumbent sentiment damaged Patrick, too, although he took advantage of it in the primary.

I was sorry to see non-partisan elections pass. It was close enough that organized opposition might have been able to defeat it. In combination with the change in election dates, non-partisan ballots will add to the challenges that grassroots candidates face in getting their message to the voters.

The move to put elections in the fall of even numbered years won a bit more support, but one wonders if people understood the gist of the question. News outlets didn't seem to get it. Fox 23's results crawl described the proposition as "term limits" (not even close), while KOTV News on 6's story said it "reduces council terms to two years" and "restored the terms set out in the 1989 charter." That's partly true -- terms will end and elections will be held in even-numbered years, as in the 1989 charter, but in the fall, coincident with federal elections, not in the spring as was the case from 1990 through 2008. It seems that even the newsfolk did not grasp the salient feature of the proposition -- holding city elections with federal elections, rather than have a special time set aside to focus on and debate local issues.

IVoted.jpgThis entry post-dated to remain at top until polls close.

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Happy election day! Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

In two districts (1 and 5), the primary has already determined a winner for want of any candidates filing from the other party. In the other seven districts the Republican nominee faces the Democrat nominee today.

Voters throughout Tulsa, in every district, may vote on four charter amendments. I have endorsed the defeat of all four.

The Tulsa County Election Board has a precinct locator which will tell you where to vote and which City Council district you're in. 42 precincts -- about 20% -- have been moved to a new district this year, so there are decent odds that you've been moved.

The Tulsa City Council website has a Google Maps search: Enter an address, and it'll show your address in your new council district.

Once you know your precinct, you can find your sample ballot here.

Key information as you weigh your decision:

Archive of all BatesLine entries on Tulsa Election 2011.

My endorsements, with links to more information:

I urge you to vote AGAINST all four ballot propositions.

I'm only endorsing in one council race. I enthusiastically support Blake Ewing for District 4 City Council.

In the other districts, while I believe we'd be better off without the candidates backed by the Cockroach Caucus (Patrick, 3-D; Steele, 6-R; Mansur, 7-R; Lakin, 8-R), I have reservations about their opponents.

I was impressed with the thoughtful and philosophically conservative answers given by William Suliburk (8-D) to many of the questions on the OK-SAFE questionnaire, a questionnaire that Phil Lakin (8-R) refused to answer, but I don't know Suliburk or his politics well enough to endorse him. I believe he deserves serious consideration by conservative voters in far south Tulsa.

I've expressed my displeasure with incumbent Councilor G. T. Bynum (9-R) on a number of issues, but he knows city issues, and he deserves credit for some fiscal reforms, including proposing the charter amendment that established of a city rainy day fund. His opponent, Mike Batman (9-D), is sincere in his love for Tulsa and admirable for his small business success. Batman has a good heart, but he doesn't seem knowledgeable about City Hall issues.

Dave Bell (3-R) is certainly conservative -- we met while volunteering for Randy Brogdon for governor. He's also prone to knee-jerk reactions, such as his curt and offensive dismissal of Preserve Midtown's polite request for a response to their survey about zoning and planning. I agree that the District 3 councilor needs to look after District 3's needs first, but the issues Preserve Midtown deals with affects every neighborhood more than a few decades old -- code enforcement, for example. If elected, a grassroots candidate like Dave Bell will have to forge bonds with councilors and neighborhood leaders from across the city in order to help the people of his district. David Patrick (3-D) has always been a reliable vote for the Cockroach Caucus and hostile to neighborhood protection, even in his own district.

At one of the Tulsa Press Club forums, Robert Gwin (6-D) showed himself to be more knowledgeable about city government than his opponent (Byron "Skip" Steele, 6-R), but Gwin, an erstwhile Republican candidate for council and mayor, is these days a hard-core lefty, touting his affiliation with moveon.org and using his Facebook account to defame tea party members as Nazis and promote the left-wing view of social and economic issues. (CORRECTION: I was apparently thinking of this post, on October 23, a table calling tea party members "racist, bigoted, and xenophobic," and which said that the Tea Party is "what fascism looks like." The table was accompanied by Gwin's one-word comment "TRUTH." Contrary to my recollection he did stop short of calling tea partiers Nazis.) He seems determined to offend as many conservatives as possible, even though he can't win without their support in this majority Republican district.

Neither Tom Mansur (7-R) and Michael Rainwater (7-D) impressed me as thoughtful or informed with their Tulsa Press Club performances, but at least Rainwater has experience as a neighborhood leader and is not backed by "Working Tulsans," TulsaBizPAC, or the Latham/Holmes/Ahlgren combine.

I don't know what to think about 2. I like Jeannie Cue's (2-R) roots and lifelong involvement in the west Tulsa community, but I have been unimpressed with her grasp on the issues. Her support from Working Tulsans, even if without her knowledge and consent, is worrisome as well. Philip Oyler (2-D) is a serious and respectable candidate.

Endorsements and questionnaires from various groups:

Tulsa Area Republican Assembly: Of their primary endorsements, only District 3's David Bell remains in the race.
Tulsa 912 Project: They endorsed Bell and Ewing in the primary.
OK-SAFE candidate questionnaire
Preserve Midtown questionnaire on zoning and planning

The City Manager-City Council proposal

Complete charter as revised if council-manager proposition (left side of ballot) is approved

Comparison of Proposed Council-Manager Charter Amendment to the Current Charter: Paragraph by paragraph

The Save Our Tulsa (for Our Kind, Dahling) propositions

Initiative Proposition No. 1 (At-Large Councilors; Mayor as Council Chairman)
Initiative Proposition No. 2 (Two-year terms, to coincide with state and federal elections)
Initiative Proposition No. 3 (Non-partisan elections)

Video and audio

KOTV News on 6 interviews with the candidates and the Tulsa Press Club forum for Districts 2, 7, and 8
KWGS Kiwanis Club debate for Tulsa City Council District 4

Who's trying to buy a set of City Councilors?

Scans of all pre-primary contribution and expenditures reports
Scans of all pre-general contribution and expenditures reports

Who are Ben Latham and Burt Holmes? They've given money to Patrick, Brune, Steele, Mansur, and Lakin.

Who is behind Working Tulsans? George Kaiser, Stacy Schusterman, Jay Helm, and council-suer Burt Holmes are the biggest contributors.

Who is Karl Ahlgren (and why you should care)? Ahlgren is consultant for Steele, Mansur and Lakin. His firm sent mailers before the primary on behalf of "Working Tulsans" in support of Cue, Patrick, and Steele. In an email, Ahlgren has endorsed Democrat Ken Brune in the general election.

What is Save Our Tulsa? Where do Save Our Tulsa supporters (median age: 75) live? Why do Money Belt denizens complain about SOT's proposals privately but refuse to denounce them publicly? (SOT's charter change proposals are on the November ballot, and SOT supporters have been active donors in the city council races.)

What is the "Midtown money belt"? Brice Bogle calls it "Tulsa's Golden Rectangle":

... an area he defines as from the northwest corner of the Inner Dispersal Loop to Skelly Drive in the south, and Harvard Avenue on the east.

"When the leaders of Tulsa talk about doing things for the benefit of Tulsa, it seldom means an area outside of the golden rectangle," Bogle said. "To many outside of the rectangular area, it often seems that those inside the area do not think of Tulsa really being anything beyond it."

My take on the Money Belt:

I would adjust his boundaries slightly -- shave off the less prosperous parts of southern and western Brookside and northeast of the Broken Arrow Expressway -- to come up with what I call the "Money Belt," but the attitude Bogle describes is spot on, and it manifests itself in election results, mayoral appointments, council-packing schemes, survey results, even water usage. That's not to say that all Money Belt denizens are afflicted with this insular attitude, or that those who are are bad people -- they just need to broaden their horizons. To them, the rest of Tulsa is something you drive through to get to Grand Lake or the airport.

But Money Belt blindness to the needs and concerns of the rest of Tulsa has real consequences. It's why it's important to provide some geographic balance on the city's boards and commissions, rather than drawing most appointees from this golden rectangle. It's why it's important for city councilors to advocate forcefully for their district's concerns; no one else in a position of power will....

(P.S. No, I don't think the Money Belt is a conspiracy. It's a demographic phenomenon, a mindset, a subculture. What makes it especially interesting is that it's a subculture that wields a good deal of political and economic power.)

The original use of the term "Cockroach Caucus"

I have struggled with what to call this cluster of special interests which has been trying to run the City of Tulsa without public input, and preferably without public debate....

They don't like the light of public scrutiny, so they conduct their business in the dark. But just because we can't see what's going on, it doesn't mean that they aren't there, contaminating public policy out of sight.

Why don't they like the light? Here's a link to reputable 2000 year old opinion on the subject. They know they aren't serving the interests of all Tulsans. They're serving the interests of a favored few, but they don't want us to know that.

Blake Ewing, Joe Bates, and Rocky Frisco, September 9, 2011. Photo by Trish Molina. Copyright 2011 Aithne Studios. Used by permission.

Blake Ewing, Joe Bates, and Rocky Frisco, September 9, 2011. Photo by Trish Molina. Copyright 2011 Aithne Studios. Used by permission.

Of the seven City Council races on today's ballot, the District 4 race, the only one in which I'm allowed to vote, is the only one in which I feel comfortable making an unequivocal and complete endorsement. I am proud to support Republican nominee Blake Ewing for District 4 City Council, and I'm proud to call him my friend.

Everything I said about Blake before the primary still applies:

Ewing is clearly the best choice. A creative entrepreneur, Ewing has built a group of businesses that employ over 100 workers, breathing new life into historic Blue Dome District buildings. He has personal experience with the ways that city government can help or hinder someone trying to start or grow a business.

What I appreciate most about Blake is his frankness and willingness to speak his mind. I don't always agree with him, by any means, but he is willing to think out loud, to think outside the box, and to defend his ideas in depth. Most politicians are content to speak in platitudes; Blake Ewing is willing to talk specifics. You can see that spirit at work in his personal blog.

In building his businesses and in running this campaign, Blake Ewing has come face-to-face with some of the ugliness of Tulsa politics and the establishment that works hard to defend its death-grip on the city. That can be said about many of my acquaintances, but Blake is one of the few people willing to speak out publicly, as he did about his interaction with political consultant Karl Ahlgren, whose services Ewing chose to reject.

After his primary win, Blake posted answers to tough questions about historic preservation and protecting neighborhoods against inappropriate infill development while encouraging quality infill development. Not surprisingly, the build-anything-anywhere developer lobby supports Ewing's opponent, Ken Brune.

(It's become a running joke: At every forum I've attended, Brune defends his preservationist bona fides by citing his involvement with "Tulsa Foundation of Architects." The name of the organization is, in fact, the Tulsa Foundation for Architecture. While his stewardship of the Reunion Building at 4th and Main is praiseworthy, Brune's willingness to sacrifice HP-zoned residential areas "on a case by case basis" for the right development means we can't trust Ken Brune to protect the investments of residents in historic neighborhoods.)

Blake Ewing has run a relentlessly positive campaign, despite the negative attacks from his opponent and allied elements of the Cockroach Caucus. Blake is willing to argue his views, but always in a respectful and positive way, with a view toward maintaining the ongoing relationship with those who hold different views.

It's crucial that Tulsa has at least one independent, intelligent, creative, and courageous voice on the City Council. Blake Ewing is the man for the job.


Blake Ewing's response to the OK-SAFE questionnaire. (Brune did not respond.)

Audio of the KWGS / Kiwanis Club Tulsa City Council District 4 debate, October 25, 2011.

Blake Ewing's response to the Preserve Midtown questionnaire. (Brune did not respond.

William_Suliburk_District_8.jpgIn the previous entry, I mentioned a candidate survey issued by OK-SAFE -- Oklahomans for Sovereignty and Free Enterprise. Say what you will about OK-SAFE and their views, but the group's questionnaire gets into the details of real questions facing City of Tulsa officials, and they allow candidates to respond with as much detail and nuance as they'd like, publishing each candidate's full response on the website. Cowardice is the only reason a candidate would refuse to submit a response.

Six general election candidates did submit a response. In District 8, William Suliburk, the Democrat nominee, submitted some sound and thoughtful conservative responses to the questionnaire. Republican nominee Phil Lakin, right-hand man to liberal Obama bundler George Kaiser, did not submit a response.

Suliburk, a Roman Catholic, is recently retired from a career in banking. He has a BA in economics from Georgetown University, an MA in economics from UCLA, and an MBA from Harvard Business School. He serves on the Sales Tax Overview Committee.

Here are Suliburk's responses to questions about the proposed south Tulsa bridge, eminent domain for private redevelopment, city funding for Planned Parenthood, English only for government signs, the role of the Tulsa Metro Chamber and its city contract, immigration enforcement, the role of the City Attorney, the acquisition of the new City Hall, and the ballpark assessment. (Emphasis is mine.)

10. Regarding the South Tulsa/Bixby bridge, a) how would you pay for it, b) what street should traffic flow into from the bridge, c) when should it be built?

I am not in favor of the South Tulsa/Bixby bridge. There are already two bridges in the 91st St. area plus the bridge across Memorial Drive. There is little, if any, need for another bridge for South Tulsans. Neither Yale nor "River Road/Delaware Avenue/Riverside Drive" were meant to be the equivalent of Memorial Drive. Only that volume of traffic and commercial development could justify and support the bridge.

20. Would you support or oppose the City of Tulsa taking private property under eminent domain to transfer that property to private developers?

Oppose. This is nothing less than "crony capitalism", with its resulting corruption.

28. Would you support or oppose giving taxpayer funds (Community Development Block Grants) to Planned Parenthood?

Oppose. As with many groups, PP started as a limited purpose organization - in its case, for simple medical and counseling services. Even at that stage, it was subject to controversy - for example, my Catholic Church opposed ordinary contraceptive services. However, PP seemed to fill a void. Unfortunately, over time it evolved into what essentially is a political advocacy organization dealing in major medical and moral issues.
Therefore, taxpayer funds should not be directed to it.
PP would be best served to return to its early perspective.

30. Would you support or oppose a city ordinance that requires all signs on government buildings in the City of Tulsa to be in the English language only?

Support. There would likely to be exceptions for certain federal rules and for some areas of emergency facilities (e.g., hospital emergency rooms). It is important to recognize that English not only contributes to our melting pot, but more importantly is the sole "language of success". Therefore, we must encourage its use by all new residents so that they can reach their potential.

34. Would you support or oppose putting the city's contract with the Tulsa Metro Chamber of Commerce out for competitive bid?

Support. Since early in my candidacy, I have been asked about the Chamber of Commerce's (COC) new role in city candidate elections. I was asked by COC to an interview shortly after the filing period. However, I was going to be out of the state for their schedule. I indicated I would be glad to meet when I returned, but they were firm
on the date, because they had to gather a large interview committee composed of staff and members for the occasion.

My presence at the interview would not have made a difference toward my candidacy. I have long admired the COC's activities and was on some committees during the 1980s. I support much of their current plan.

However, I would also have discussed with them my disappointment in their involving the COC in local candidate elections. COC is a formal partner with the city regarding economic development activities, receiving perhaps $1,800,000 annually from the city for the COC's efforts. I would have politely indicated that I did not want to be included in endorsements or funding.

I think it is inappropriate for COC to recruit and fund candidates for city elective offices while receiving money from the city. First, I think it is an ethical issue, whereby the COC should keep itself neutral in such a monetary/functional partnership. Second, I think it may be shortsighted for the COC's best long term interests.

Over a couple of election cycles, it is likely that there will be a number of officials elected who are opposed by the COC. It will be highly unlikely that those officials - who believe they are doing their jobs well - will vote to continue the relationship with the COC that is trying to thwart them or remove them from office. The COC will have poisoned the well for a continuation of its partnership.

The COC needs to choose whether to continue its formal economic development partnership or to be an electoral force. If the COC stops its electioneering, I would favor retaining the contract and partnership.

39. Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett has stated, "Police officers are not here to send people back to their home country. That's not their job." (Source, Tulsa World, June 15, 2011) Do you support or oppose this stated position of the Mayor that it is not the job of police officers in the City of Tulsa to enforce federal immigration laws?

Again, nuances: Tulsans have always welcomed legal immigrants. We were also welcoming to the special exception for South Vietnamese immigration following the Communist North Vietnamese take over in 1975.

TPD does not have the resources to conduct sweeps of the population for illegal immigrants and should not be diverted from its core public safety tasks to do so. However, whenever TPD, in its normal course of law enforcement, does come in contact with illegal immigrants, the immigrants should be subjected to federal regulations. Tulsa should not be a "sanctuary city".

40. Do you support or oppose making Tulsa's city attorney an elected position?

This is not a singular issue to be voted on during this election cycle, although it is an element of the Council/City Manager proposal. I would prefer that the City Attorney be appointed by the Mayor with confirmation by the City Council. There has been an tendency in recent administrations for the City Attorney to rationalize the positions of the Mayor - which is not difficult to accomplish with the voluminous, imprecise, and sometimes conflicting city charter, city ordinances, and state legislation. I would propose an initial four year appointment which is done two years into a Mayor's term. The attorney would eligible for re-appointment and re-confirmation for one additional four year term. He/she would be limited to eight years total service.

49. Do you support or oppose the position taken by the City of Tulsa to move city hall offices to the One Technology Center?

Oppose. Although the price of the building/move was described as a "bargain", the owner would have been lucky to get half the price that the City paid. What is worse, a deeding/financing option was used to avoid the standard governance approval for such a substantial venture. Furthermore, everyone knows that an "independent consultant" can jigger the figures to show whatever the client wants; it was a low point for Roger Staubach's reputation.

51. Do you support or oppose the downtown assessment district fees on businesses to pay for the ballpark?

It is not appropriate for property located far from the ballpark to be assessed at the same level as property that is a few blocks away.

While conservative voters won't be in complete agreement with Suliburk's responses, they'll find much to link in his well-thought out responses and his willingness to disagree with the standard Cockroach Caucus position. A conservative District 8 voter who wants a councilor in line with his views, who wants a councilor not beholden to billion-dollar special interests or out-of-district donors may well prefer Democrat nominee Suliburk to a nominal Republican who won't go on record on these important issues.

Say Hello to Garfield:-)A number of guides, interviews, and videos have been posted to introduce voters to the candidates on the Tulsa City Council ballot tomorrow. In most cases, the winner of a hotly contested primary for the district's dominant party faces the nominee of the minority party, who either got a bye or faced minimal competition in the primary. District 4 is the exception -- an evenly-divided district in which both parties had strongly contested primaries.

OK-SAFE (Oklahomans for Sovereignty and Free Enterprise) is a non-partisan but conservative/libertarian organization that produces a lengthy questionnaire for City Council candidates. Only six general election candidates responded: Jeannie Cue in District 2, David Bell and David Patrict in 3, Blake Ewing in 4, Robert Gwin in 6, and William Suliburk in 8. Candidates give a short answer, reflected on a summary grid, but may also elaborate on their responses, and their responses are posted in full.

Steven Roemerman has video of the Tulsa Press Club forum for districts 2, 7, and 8. These forums were somewhat disappointing, as questions dealing with development and land use planning weren't included, but they were still revealing in places. Check out the responses to the question about the involvement in the election of the Tulsa Metro Chamber, a city vendor, keeping in mind that Lakin, Mansur, and Cue all received money from the Chamber's TulsaBizPac.

Also note the responses to the question about trash service. Everyone likes the current service, but no one even addresses Mayor Junior Bartlett's efforts to stymie the ability of the Council to shape the trash service to address the public's concerns. Half of the Tulsa Authority for the Recovery of Energy board (William Bowles, expired 2010/07/31, Beverly Anderson and Michael Pierce, expired 2011/07/31) continues to serve despite expired terms. Mayor Junior has refused to put them up for reappointment, avoiding a Council vote, in which the TARE board members could be held to account for the board's refusal to consider public concerns about their approach to the new trash contract.

Mayor Junior's City Attorney has issued an opinion that the charter provision giving the council the power to fill expired terms that the mayor refuses to fill doesn't apply to the TARE board, because the TARE board is authorized under state statute. (The City Attorney conveniently interprets conflicts and precedence between charter and state statute as suits Mayor Junior. Sometimes state law trumps charter, sometimes vice versa.) There's also an opinion that although the city legislature created TARE, they can't eliminate it without TARE's approval, and they can't strip it of its powers. A council effort to do just that was vetoed by Mayor Junior, and councilors were told they'd be sued personally if they overrode the veto. In a nutshell, Dewey Bartlett Jr is standing in the way of Tulsans getting the trash service they want, and these candidates for City Council don't understand that playing nice with the Mayor won't make him budge on this issue.

KOTV News on 6 has posted interviews with each of the 14 Council candidates on the News on 6 election coverage home page. Click on the map to pop up the two candidates for the district, or click the link below:

District 2:

Jeannie Cue (R)
Phillip Oyler (D)

District 3:

David Bell(R)
David Patrick (D)

District 4:

Blake Ewing (R)
Ken Brune (D)

District 6:

Byron Steele (R)
Robert Gwin Jr. (D)

District 7:

Tom Mansur (R)
Michael Rainwater (D)

District 8:

Phil Lakin (R)
William Suliburk (D)

District 9:

G. T. Bynum (R)
Mike Batman (D)

/disapproveOnly seven districts have Tulsa City Council races but voters in every district of the City of Tulsa can vote Tuesday, November 8, 2011, on the four charter amendment propositions on the general election ballot.

On the left of the ballot (under a city council race, if you have one) is the City Council's proposal to convert Tulsa to a City Manager - City Council form of government. On the right are three propositions resulting from the initiative petitions of Save Our Tulsa (for Our Kind Dahling), a group of rich old midtown Money Belt types, all of which are designed to make money and powerful connections more important than grassroots support.

(Click here to see a sample ballot with the charter amendment propositions in PDF format.)

I urge BatesLine readers to vote AGAINST all four propositions. For each proposition, here's why I oppose it and what I believe would be a better solution:

City Manager - City Council: AGAINST

It's important for the executive power in the City of Tulsa to be accountable directly to the voters. In a city manager form of government that accountability is indirect. We have had enough trouble already with powerful department heads out of reach of public accountability. In my experience, a city manager becomes either the uncrowned king of the city (do a web search for "Francis McGrath"), using his power over the bureaucracy to help city councilors who back him and punish city councilors who buck him, or he becomes the scapegoat, taking the blame and getting the sack every time something goes wrong. I'm sure there are rare cases where the position works as advertised, and Oklahoma City may well fall into that category.

I'm sympathetic to the proponents of this measure. It seems that Tulsa's social and economic structure is such that our mayor will always be a denizen and product of the Money Belt, uninterested and unwilling to treat grassroots-elected councilors with respect as a co-equal branch of government and ignorant of the needs and priorities of Tulsans who don't live in the Money Belt. I believe that some adjustment to the charter is needed to help the council be an effective check and balance on the mayor. The City Council should have its own attorney, independent of the City Attorney. The mayor should have the authority to appoint and remove department heads, but only with the advice and consent of the council. Officially, our department heads are supposed to be civil service appointees, but mayors have always found a way around that, using one of their charter-authorized at-will positions to hire a police chief or city attorney.

An idea to bring the mayor closer to the grassroots: Require the nominating process to pass through the council districts. A candidate would have to win a nominating election in his own district in order to qualify for the citywide election. We could also decide the election based on number of council districts won, rather than total popular vote. (An explanation for Save Our Tulsa members: Match play rather than stroke play.) A mayoral candidate would need to campaign across the city, rather than racking up big numbers in the Money Belt.

Initiative Petition Proposition 1 (At-Large Councilors): AGAINST

Adding three at-large councilors, plus the mayor as chairman of the City Council (with the power to set the Council's agenda), would violate checks and balances, dilute geographical grassroots representation in favor of well-financed, Money Belt-backed candidates, and set up new rivals to the mayor -- super-councilors, like the mayor, elected with a city-wide mandate. The result promises to be just as contentious as the current arrangement with the added problem of opening Tulsa up to a Voting Rights Act lawsuit. The Tulsa County Republican and Democratic parties both oppose this measure, as do the Tulsa Metro Chamber, the Tulsa World, the Tulsa Beacon, the Oklahoma Eagle, the League of Women Voters, Mayor Junior Bartlett, and myself.

Tulsans Defending Democracy has a brief statement about the current proposal. TDD has been steadfast in opposition to at-large councilors since the idea was first floated. (Click these links to read TDD's 2006 position statement opposing at-large councilors and the conclusion of the Citizens' Commission for City Government to oppose at-large.)

Only the SOTs seem to think this is a good idea, and their claim that ward politics is the source of City Hall bickering is full of baloney. They won't and can't name a concrete example of ward politics. The disputes at City Hall have involved significant city-wide issues -- e.g., using Tulsa tax dollars to promote development in Tulsa rather than development in the suburbs, protecting neighborhoods and administering zoning laws fairly and consistently, defending taxpayers against attempts to garnish their money to pay back (illegally) the Great Plains Airlines loan, holding the Tulsa Metro Chamber accountable for how they spend our hotel/motel tax dollars.

The solution to the problem of bickering is to elect a mayor who will respect and work with the council, rather than pitch a fit and isolate himself, as Mayor Junior has done. The current council gets along very well with one another and has been as unified as I've ever seen a council. The idea that the council bickers has been promoted by self-interested special interest groups who want a council full of puppets and submissive milquetoasts. (Ever heard of national media bias, where news reports are distorted to make conservatives look bad and liberals look good? The same sort of thing happens in Tulsa, propping up the Money Belt's favorites and knocking down grassroots leaders.)

Initiative Petition Proposition 2 (Even-year elections): AGAINST

This SOT proposition would hold city of Tulsa elections simultaneously with federal and state elections in the fall of even-numbered years, moving the mayor's election to coincide with the presidential election and the council elections back to a two-year term fallling on federal and state election dates.

The result would be scant attention paid to city issues. While this proposition would increase the number of voters in city elections, it wouldn't increase the number of informed voters. If the elections remain partisan (if ballot item three fails), voters will likely follow a straight ticket when they get to the municipal races at the distant bottom of the ballot. If the elections go non-partisan, voters who are interested in federal issues but pay no attention to city matters will either skip the city races or vote for the most famous name.

Holding city elections at the same time as dozens of other races will spread available volunteer time, contributions, and voter attention even thinner than it already is, once again hurting grassroots candidates dependent on volunteers and small contributions. Because the voting universe will be larger, candidates will need more money to reach the voters with their message, and even more money to cut through the clutter of all the other races.

To refresh your memory, here's a link to all the sample ballots for the 2010 general election in Tulsa County. In all the precincts, voters had eight statewide races, two federal races, six judicial retention questions, three non-partisan district judge races, a county assessor's race, 11 state questions, and possibly county commission, state senate, and state house races, in addition to two city questions on a separate bedsheet ballot. One set of precincts had 34 separate races and issues to consider. We don't need to make those ballots any longer!

(Links to PDFs of 2010 Tulsa County ballot style 1 front side, state question ballot, and Tulsa city proposition ballot.)

I agree that moving to three-year staggered terms was a bad idea. My better alternative is to go back to the system that we adopted in 2008 and are only this year departing -- elections in the fall of odd-numbered years. Some adjustments could be made -- a primary in August instead of September, right after Labor Day -- but it was a good idea, one endorsed by the Citizens' Commission, and we didn't give it a chance.

Separate city elections allow voters to focus on city issues and make it easier for candidates to raise money and recruit volunteers without competition from federal, state, and county campaigns.

Ideally, I'd like to see all local elections -- city, county, and school board -- in the fall of odd years and state and federal elections in the fall of even years, with special votes like bond issues and state questions limited to the appropriate general election date.

Initiative Petition Proposition 3 (Non-partisan elections): AGAINST

Non-partisan elections would remove a useful if imperfect piece of information about the candidates from the ballot -- their national party affiliation -- and leave nothing but their name on the ballot. Non-partisan elections put a premium on name recognition -- an advantage to incumbents and candidates with high financial backing and newspaper endorsements. It's yet another SOT obstacle to trip up grassroots candidates for city office.

My alternative proposal is multi-partisan elections with preferential instant runoff voting. Candidates can run under their national party or a party label of their own devising, giving voters help in finding the name of their preferred candidate on the ballot. All candidates would run on the same ballot, allowing all voters to choose from all candidates. Voters would rank candidates in order of preference, which would avoid vote splitting among similar candidates, ensuring that the winner is supported by a majority of voters.

I dealt with the non-partisan proposition in detail in an earlier entry. See also Ray Pearcey's excellent takedown of non-partisan elections in UTW and my detailed description of multi-partisan voting.

Smear merchant Karl Ahlgren, the campaign consultant behind the current Money Belt effort to seize total control of Tulsa city government, is advocating for the defeat of Blake Ewing, the Republican nominee for Tulsa City Council District 4. Ahlgren is nominally a Republican, but he seems to support any cause or candidate that fills his bank account. Ahlgren has a bone to pick with Ewing because Ewing rejected his advances at the beginning of the campaign and spoke publicly about Ahlgren's negative reputation.

From: Karl Ahlgren
Sent: Tuesday, October 25, 2011 7:37 AM
To: Holmes Burt; Ben Latham
Cc: Holland Fount
Subject: Today's TW article on CD 4 candidates views

Blake can't help himself. In todays article he's made it crystal clear that he will be no different than the current 8-9 councilors. I've been saying this for weeks and finally he comes clean. Do we in fact want to elect another ....... or Ken Brune who will have the desire to collaborate with the mayor and his fellow councilors.

The time is now to make a difference in this election.


Ken Brune is the Democrat nominee for the District 4 seat. I'm told that the dots were inserted by Ben Latham (who forwarded Ahlgren's message to his mailing list) in place of a vulgar seven-letter synonym for gastrointestinal exit which has the same initials as Ahlgren's consulting firm. (Coincidence? I think not.) Latham is the Save Our Tulsa member who hired Ahlgren to help him fill the City Council with submissive milquetoasts.

The news story mentioned by Ahlgren is a report about the Kiwanis Club / KWGS debate
between Ewing and Brune. In response to a question about discord at City Hall, Ewing gave this response (transcribed on his blog):

Look, you're not electing people to city hall to get along. You're electing them, in fact, to argue. I think what we're seeing there is that the majority of the issues and the majority of the disagreements have very little to do with advancement of the city, or with making this a better place. They've become personal. You're putting nine people in a room from nine different parts of town, nine different ways of life, nine different backgrounds. They better disagree, and frankly, the reason we have a mayor balanced with the council is so they can check each other. So yes, I think as the leader, it's the mayor's responsibility, in many aspects, to present the big broad vision, so that everyone joins under that umbrella of hope for the city.

When it comes to the day to day politics, it's naive to expect that those ten people will always get along. That's where I think you elect the personalities to the conversation who can pursue the bigger picture at all costs and put the petty things behind us and work tirelessly on advancing the city."

In a nutshell, Ewing says our elected officials ought to bring their 10 different perspectives to the table to debate issues vigorously, without getting personal and petty. In response to a Brune mailer that takes his comments out of context, Ewing responds on his blog:

[Brune is] playing off of the community's frustration with our current representatives who are often accused (whether right or wrong) of being difficult and childish. Naturally, if one reads the whole answer or listens to the audio on KWGS, they'll find that I'm as against that negative activity and lack of progress as anyone. They'll also find Mr. Brune's naive assertion that the reason for our current discord is The Mayor and The Council's inability to find a "proper time" to "visit" or share their goals with each other. Ask anyone at City Hall if they think that's an accurate assessment or if it's just political speak.

Ewing doesn't elaborate, but I've heard from many different City Hall insiders that Mayor Junior Bartlett has all but cut off communications with members of the City Council, a pattern that began within months of his taking office. According to the same sources, even during the most contentious debates, Kathy Taylor was generally accessible to discuss matters with councilors at any time.

This week, Working Tulsans, the George Kaiser-backed 527 committee that concealed their donors prior to the primary, sent a mailer promoting Brune. Working Tulsans's pre-primary mailers bore the Oklahoma City bulk mail mark of Majority Designs, the direct mail firm run by Karl Ahlgren's partner Fount Holland. This pro-Brune Working Tulsans mailer has a Tulsa bulk mail permit instead, but the style is the same as the pre-primary mailers.

Ken Brune or Caspar Milquetoast?(Reminder: The median home size of contributors to "Working Tulsans" is 5,007.5 sq. ft. and median home value is $691,050.)

In the debates in recent years over taxes for special projects, we've heard over and over again (from the sort of people who are funding Working Tulsans) how important it is to offer fun and exciting entertainment options to help Tulsa attract and retain young people who are creative and entrepreneurial. It's crucial, we've been told, to Tulsa's future. We want our kids to come back after college and raise our grandkids here.

So along comes Blake Ewing, a young entrepreneur who has created a half dozen businesses employing over 100 people, with more in the works, helping to revive downtown as a fun place to be any night of the week. He's worked on a number of city task forces to promote Tulsa retailers and deal with important city issues, and he has a good working relationship with the mayor. He has even (to my chagrin -- one area of significant disagreement) supported Vision 2025 and the river tax (although he believes this would not be a good time for a tax hike).

But instead of endorsing this young, positive, energetic entrepreneur -- the epitome of the kind of young Tulsan they say we want to attract and retain -- George Kaiser and his allies are backing a submissive milquetoast.

I've emailed Alex Eaton, chairman of Working Tulsans (also the president of my high school class), and asked him to explain their criteria for candidate selection. I'll pass his response along as soon as it arrives.

My theory: George Kaiser doesn't want any leader on the Council other than Phil Lakin, trustee of the George Kaiser Family Foundation, and G. T. Bynum, former Washington lobbyist for the George Kaiser Family Foundation. They want everyone else on the council to be a reliable follower, without the initiative or intelligence to challenge anything coming from Lakin or Bynum. Blake Ewing is bright, energetic, and inquisitive, not afraid to look for better ways to do things, not afraid to ask tough questions (but politely), not afraid to poke holes (pleasantly) in silly ideas. Kaiser and his allies want a council full of dullards who will do things their way without question.

How sad for Tulsa! Why not just post a sign at the city limits that says, "Creative, energetic entrepreneurs not wanted."

MORE: Since I invoked his name, here's a collection of Caspar Milquetoast cartoons at James Lileks's wonderful Institute of Official Cheer.

In this week's Urban Tulsa Weekly, Ray Pearcey deploys an apt analogy against the Save Our Tulsa non-partisan election proposition on Tulsa's general election ballot this Tuesday.

If you are a baseball fan you've had time to recover from late night World Series games, so I want you to imagine a very different kind of baseball game. You see, in this variation, the teams don't have uniforms and the players wear street clothes, so it's impossible to see who's on what team. There are lots of very confused folks in the stands -- in fact many people simply go home shortly after the game gets underway, other fans, having been told about the no uniform rules, simply stay home not wanting to waste their time with a confusing contest.

But there are a handful of people at the game who are yelling and clapping, these folks have inside info, maybe they know the players first hand, maybe the players are their kin or maybe the insiders are owners. The thing is, only a tiny set of people at the game know the players and their team affinities: that is what non-partisan elections will "look like" in Tulsa.

Pearcey points out that our current non-partisan elections for district judge are plagued with low turnouts and voter confusion. Non-partisan races are likely to hinge on name recognition, which in turn is driven by which candidate has the biggest budget:

Big print ads, sizable radio and TV runs will be paramount in "non-par" contests: council candidates will need big bucks to prevail in this newly chaotic, information spare environment. Expect the prospects of candidates with strong ties to banking, real estate, construction and big business to get a big boost: these folks should have some influence by right, but shouldn't be allowed to call all the shots.

Dizzy_Dean_Tulsa_Oilers.jpgThat's likely why Save Our Tulsa supports non-partisan elections. Every one of their three ballot propositions -- at-large (citywide) city councilors, city elections at the same time as state and federal elections, and non-partisan elections -- is designed to raise the cost of running a successful race for city council, hampering the chances of a grassroots, door-to-door campaign from succeeding, resulting in a City Council entirely dependent on and subservient to the Money Belt.

Pearcey acknowledges that national party affiliation is an imperfect indicator in local elections, but, he says, "some info is better than zero."

To extend the metaphor, the problem we have right now is that the players are wearing uniforms, but the uniforms don't indicate their loyalties. Imagine a World Series where individual Cardinals and Rangers play not for their own team's victory but for the victory of someone's fantasy league team. Imagine Rangers catcher Mike Napoli tipping Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols to his signals to the pitcher, because they both happen to be on George Kaiser's Rotisserie League lineup, and Rangers pitcher Alexi Ogande is on the FOP's roster. The fans in the stands think the competition is Rangers vs. Cardinals; only the insiders are hip to the teams that really matter and which player is assigned to which team.

Pearcey would like to see the emergence of purely local political parties. That's something you see in Britain and in a few cities around the U. S. where city ballot laws permit it. I've advocated this idea, to be used in conjunction with instant-runoff ballots under the name "multi-partisan elections." The idea won the support of some members of the Citizens' Commission on City Government.

Satchel_Paige_Tulsa_Oilers_1976.jpgIn the United Kingdom, the Electoral Commission maintains a register of national and local political parties. A party registers its name, a logo, and a description which appear next to the candidate's name on the ballot. The Electoral Commission has rules to reject names confusingly similar to existing parties. Each candidate files as a party nominee (with the party's authorization) or as an independent. At some elections, the candidate must post a deposit which will be refunded if he wins the seat or gets some nominal percentage of the vote. (Candidates for parliament post a £500 deposit, refunded if they receive at least 5%.)

In Minneapolis, for example, candidates declare a three-word "political party or principle" that appears next to their name on the ballot. (Here are filings from the 2009 Minneapolis election, with the designations chosen by the candidates, and here are the 2009 Minneapolis election results.) Most candidates chose a national label, and in some districts, two or more candidates with the same party label were on the ballot. Minneapolis uses ranked-choice voting, a form of Instant Runoff Voting, so all candidates appear on the general election ballot, and voters indicate first, second, and third choices. If no candidate receives a majority of first-choice votes, the low-ranked candidate is eliminated and his votes redistributed based on the second choice marked on those ballots.

The beauty of the Minneapolis approach is that it lets every voter choose from among all the candidates, without obscuring real differences between the candidates, and yet it ensures that the winner has the support of a majority of the voters. Unfortunately these approaches to "multi-partisan voting" aren't on the ballot this Tuesday.

The Save Our Tulsa non-partisan proposition is a move by wealthy old midtowners to strengthen their faltering grip on Tulsa's city government, and it should be rejected. On Tuesday vote AGAINST all three initiative petition propositions on the right side of the ballot.

MORE: The Tulsa Whirled editorial board ridiculed (but didn't provide a substantive argument against) my multi-partisan idea back in 2007. In reply, I explained how a strictly non-partisan ballot would boost their influence in electing Money Belt toadies at the expense of grassroots candidates:

They oppose it for selfish reasons which they don't wish to reveal to the reader. A candidate's brief self-description on the ballot constitutes a media bypass. Without depending on the favor of the monopoly daily newspaper, without needing a pile of campaign cash, a candidate would be able to communicate something about himself, albeit very briefly, to every voter, in words of his own choosing.

If the Whirled editorial hive-mind gets its collective way, a city election ballot would comprise lists of bare names, with no other identifying information. As the still-dominant media outlet in Tulsa, the Whirled would define for many voters what emotions and opinions they should hold about each of those names.

Small wonder they don't like the idea.

Democrat Ken Brune sent out a mailer to Republican voters in Tulsa District 4 with a list of 74 "Republicans for Ken Brune (1 MB PDF)."

Ken Brune seems to be liked only by an elite and elderly class of Republicans.


A BatesLine analysis of the 74 names, using voter registration and county assessor records, shows that 67 of them live south of 21st Street in the Money Belt precincts that were recently moved from District 9 to District 4, 4 live north of 21st Street in the district, and 3 don't live in District 4 at all.

Median age of the names on the list is 66. The youngest, former City Councilor Eric Gomez (who threatened to sue his constituents), is 42. Only four of the 74 are under a half-century old.

The median value (as assigned by the Tulsa County Assessor) of the homes where they reside is $392,450, and the median home size is 3,473 sq. ft. Only six people on the list live in homes worth less than $200,000. (The median sales price for Tulsa is $135,000.)


The list of Brune fans includes John Brock, leader of Save Our Tulsa, who believes that City Councilors should be seen and not heard; Joe Westervelt, a developer and former TMAPC chairman who believes citizens should not be heard and historic neighborhoods should not be protected; Frederic Dorwart, the BOK attorney, George Kaiser Family Foundation trustee who pushed through the legally-dubious ballpark assessment scheme; Bob Poe, the highway construction hothead and 2004 Tulsa Metro Chamber chairman, famed for his divisive and embarrassing rants against city councilors and state legislators (Poe was a Democrat as recently as 2009); and Gomez, who decided his constituents didn't need to know about a massive residential facility for the long-term homeless being planned for their neighborhood, then threatened to sue a constituent who complained about it.

What kind of Republican supports Ken Brune? The kind that doesn't want to protect our beautiful older neighborhoods. The kind that wants the council to be a silent rubber stamp. The kind that would rather tear apart the city charter than cooperate and compromise with city councilors who have different priorities. The kind that is well insulated by his wealth from the daily concerns that affect most Tulsans. The kind that wants higher taxes and more corporate welfare. The Cockroach Caucus type of Republican.


As I wrote about the Cockroach Caucus back before the primary:

A small group of wealthy Tulsans want total control of city government. They don't want thoughtful citizens on the City Council who will ask direct questions or who will stand firm against special-interest manipulation. They want a City Council full of well-trained monkeys who will vote on command. They exist under various names -- TulsaBizPac, Coalition for Responsible Government, Tulsans for Better Government, Save Our Tulsa -- I call them the Cockroach Caucus. They've used unsubstantiated claims of "bickering" and "ward politics" to discredit the councilors we've elected to represent us.

These are the people, the Cockroach Caucus, who created a year of turmoil with their 2004-2005 attempt to recall two city councilors over policy differences. For all the whining and complaining they do about "Council bickering," they dragged the city through a divisive year of attacks and smears, all because they didn't like the results of an election, and they refused to work harmoniously with the councilors that the people of Tulsa had elected.

These are the people who led us into the Great Plains Airlines mess. They promised us openly that the taxpayers were at no financial risk, while they were secretly promising financiers that the taxpayers would pick up the tab if their wacky airline idea failed. It failed, state taxpayers coughed up $30 million in transferable tax credits with nothing to show for it, and Tulsa taxpayers got saddled with $7.1 million, which we're paying for with higher property taxes.

These are the Midtown Money Belt people who don't like the councilors that east and west and south and north Tulsa elect to represent our interests at City Hall. Middle-class and working-class Tulsans want more cops on the beat, city pools that open in the summer, streets that don't tear our cars to pieces, zoning that protects our neighborhoods against shoddy redevelopment, and economic policies that attract and keep growing businesses. The Midtown Money Belt types want taxpayers to subsidize their entertainment -- islands in the river, expensive concerts at the arena, WNBA. They want us to subsidize the success of their investments in suburban real estate, at the expense of growth within the city limits to help fund public safety and infrastructure.

So because they don't like the fact that the rest of us elect councilors focused on efficient basic city services, these people propose charter changes to dilute geographical representation on the City Council. They yearn for the days when you could drive a golf ball from the Mayor's midtown backyard into the yards of the other city commissioners. They want to pack the council with at-large councilors who have to be wealthy enough to afford a city-wide race or beholden to those who are.

That's the kind of Republican that backs Ken Brune.


The Brune mailer makes a preposterous claim: "Partisan politics have hampered real progress for our great city." I can't think of a single example of national party affiliation being relevant to a major city government dispute. The divisions that have hurt us are those caused by the rich, old Money Belt coots of both parties who won't work cooperatively with the rest of the city.

When I was the Republican nominee for District 4 City Council, my opponent put out a robocall the day before the election. It was Scott Petty (also on Brune's list as Robert S. Petty), speaking on behalf of "Republicans for Tom Baker."

It was the same bunch then as now. They don't want a bright, independent, creative, and courageous man like Republican Blake Ewing on the City Council. They want a submissive milquetoast like Democrat Ken Brune.

This conservative Republican is proud to support my fellow Republican Blake Ewing for District 4 City Council.

Red-white-and-blue RINO logo courtesy the conservative blog with the tongue-in-cheek name AngryWhiteDude.com

Don't forget that every Tulsa voter has a reason to go to the polls, as charter amendments will be on the ballot even if you're in a district (1 or 5) which doesn't have a general election for city councilor.

An email from Tulsa County Republican Party HQ reminds GOP voters that the party platform, adopted by grassroots party activists in March, opposes two of the four propositions on this year's city ballot: at-large City Council members and non-partisan city elections in this years county party platform. The email also briefly states pros and cons for the other two propositions.

An important message for Republicans in the City of Tulsa:

In addition to Tulsa City Council races in seven of the nine districts, four city charter amendments will be on the ballot. Even if you live in a district where there is no City Council race, all Tulsa Republicans can and should vote on these issues that significantly affect Tulsa's form of government.

On March 26, 2011, delegates to the Tulsa County Republican Party adopted a platform that opposes two of the four propositions -- Initiative Petition Proposition No. 1, which would add three more city councilors, elected at-large (city-wide) to the council, and Initiative Petition Proposition No. 3, which would make city elections non-partisan. The Local Government section of the Tulsa County Republican platform states:

9. We do not support city non-partisan elections or the current movement to change the Tulsa City Charter to allow such.

11. We oppose all efforts to add a Charter Amendment which would add at-large Councilors, elected city wide, to the Tulsa City Council.

Click here to read the 2011 Tulsa County Republican Party platform.

Adding at-large councilors would increase contention and rivalry at City Hall, dilute geographical representation, weaken checks and balances on government power, and expose Tulsa to the risk of a Federal lawsuit. Non-partisan elections would deprive voters of useful information, blur distinctions between the parties, and interfere with the local GOP's ability to assist conservative candidates who are running for city office.

The platform did not address Initiative Petition Proposition No. 2, Charter Change - City Election Dates. Here are two views on this issue.

Oppose: Holding city elections at the same time as federal, state, and county elections could hurt Republican campaigns by spreading available campaign dollars, volunteers, and voter attention among too many different races.

Support: Holding city elections on a major election date would save the taxpayer's money by consolidating elections. Also city elections historically have a low turnout rate. Having the city elections on the same date as state and national elections would increase voter turnout.

The platform did not address Proposition No. 1, City Council - City Manager form of government. Here are two views on this issue.

Oppose: The city manager is vested with much power in order to run the day to day operations of the city. He/She would be hired by the city council and would answer to the city council not the citizens. If the citizens are not happy with the way their city was being ran they would have to get a majority of the city council to support the replacement of the city manager. This adds another level of bureaucracy to local government.

Support: Many people support having a "professional" run the day to day operations of the city. Five of the six current Republicans on the City Council support this measure.

We urge all City of Tulsa Republicans to vote on November 8th.

CORRECTED to include all Working Tulsans contributions. In my haste to post the list of contributors, I only included those on the printed attachment and missed those on the handwritten portion of the form. Adding in Paul Lackey and Jay Helm didn't change the median home value, but it did bring the median home size down from 5,649.5 to 5,007.5 sq. ft., because Mr. Lackey's $1,472,000 Utica Place condominium is a paltry 2,718 sq. ft. Since this was originally published, a Working Tulsans mailer went out on behalf of Ken Brune, Democrat nominee in District 4.

Ten contributors were listed on the "Working Tulsans" C-1 form.

Contributors' median home size: 5,007.5 sq. ft.
Contributors' median home value: $691,050

Contributors' average home size: 5,885.4 sq. ft.
Contributors' median home value: $937,120.

Four contributors live in homes valued at greater than $1 million. The cheapest house of the bunch belongs to Burt Holmes, who lives in a 3,080 sq. ft. ranch-style house built in 1948, valued at $312,200.

Three contributors live in District 9. Three live in Money Belt sections of District 4 that were in 9 until this year. Two live in District 8.

Two contributors live in a district targeted by a Working Tulsans mailer. They live in District 2, in the neighborhood just south of Southern Hills Country Club.

Working Tulsans sent mailers into District 2 in support of Jeannie Cue, into District 3 in support of David Patrick, and into District 6 in support of Skip Steele. The mailers bore the bulk mail endorsement of Majority Designs, the Oklahoma City direct mail firm associated with Fount Holland and Karl Ahlgren.

The address of the committee, P. O. Box 52804, 74152, which appeared on the mailers and in the committee's filings, shows up in voter records as belonging to a 48-year-old woman registered to vote at a street address well outside the City of Tulsa. (Because her name turns up in a web search as a past victim of domestic violence, I'm not going to give the name here, but I have to wonder why her P. O. Box is being used for this committee.)

(Residence information derived from voter registration and county assessor records.)

Tonight, November 1, 2011, at 5:30 p.m., All Souls Unitarian Church will host a candidate forum for Tulsa City Council districts 4 (Blake Ewing and Ken Brune) and 9 (G. T. Bynum and Mike Batman). According to the announcement, candidates will speak on the proposed charter changes and the future of PLANiTULSA and will take questions.

CORRECTED to include all Working Tulsans contributions. In my haste to post the list of contributors, I only included those on the printed attachment and missed those on the handwritten portion of the form.

Analysis to come (after trick-or-treat), but for now, here are the ethics reports filed by PACs, candidates, and issue committees as of 4:45 pm today.


The PDF includes filings for the mysterious "Working Tulsans" group that sent mail on behalf of several candidates (including Jeannie Cue, David Patrick, and Skip Steele) before the primary. Here's the list of contributors, a quick copy and paste from the report.

9/2/2011 George B. Kaiser, PO Box 21468, Tulsa, OK $5,000
9/2/2011 Stacy Schusterman, PO Box 699, Tulsa, OK $5,000
9/2/2011 Jay Helm, 5727 S. Lewis, Tulsa $5,000
9/8/2011,9/23/2011 Burt B. Holmes, PO Box 1440, Tulsa, OK $4,500
9/8/2011 Daryl Woodard, 6311 E. 105th St, Tulsa, OK $2,000
9/8/2011 Stuart Price, 113 E. 22nd PI., Tulsa, OK $2,000
9/2/2011 Paul Lackey, 2200 S. Utica, Tulsa, OK $1,000
9/23/2011 Russell A. Richardson, 3114 E. 81st Tulsa, OK $1,000
10/3/2011 E. Terrill Corley, 1809 E. 15th St. Tulsa, OK $1,000
10/15/2011 George F. Bashaw, Jr., PO Box 52490 Tulsa, OK $500

Daryl Woodard, you'll recall, was the Mayor's appointee to the redistricting commission. Woodard had previously endorsed council-suer Burt Holmes' council-packing efforts. George Kaiser needs no introduction. Stacy Schusterman (a classmate of mine from 4th through 12th grade) is CEO of Samson Investment Company and VP/Treasurer of the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Foundation.

Jenks and Owasso voters turned down property tax increases (general obligation bond issues) by overwhelming margins on Tuesday, while Broken Arrow school district voters approved a reallocation of an existing bond issue that involved no tax increase at all.

According to KRMG News, the Owasso tax increase would have amounted to about $170 annually on a $100,000 home, while the Jenks increase would have been about $25 per $100,000.

Complete but unofficial results from the Tulsa County Election Board:

City of Jenks

Fire equipment, police headquarters
Yes 288 32.99%
No 585 67.01%
City of Owasso

Proposition 1: Youth sports facilities
Yes 676 14.02%
No 4146 85.98%

Proposition 2: Streets
Yes 1,088 22.53%
No 3,742 77.47%

Proposition 3: Parks and aquatic center
Yes 779 16.21%
No 4,026 83.79%

ISD-3 (Broken Arrow)

Yes 2,671 78.19%
No 745 21.81%


It appears that voters want their elected officials to focus on the basics and even then they want to see good stewardship of existing revenue streams rather than higher rates.

This is the make-do era. We are paying down debt, delaying major purchases, taking few risks, making the most of what we already have. In the current environment, transferring money from homeowners to heavy construction companies for the sake of some nice-to-haves doesn't make much sense.

Tulsa's establishment and elected officials will probably take the wrong lesson from the result and assume a marketing failure. Hire the right PR firm, the right political consultants, and any tax hike will pass. It worked in 2003. It almost worked in 2007.

But not now, not for a long time to come.


The American Planning Association has named Tulsa's historic Swan Lake neighborhood one of ten Great Neighborhoods for 2011, part of the APA's annual recognition of "Great Places In America." (Hat tip to KRMG News for the story.)


From the APA's citation:

What dominates this attractive and popular neighborhood are the well-maintained sturdy bungalows built along tree-lined streets between 1920 and 1930. Apartment buildings, which meshed with the development's middle-class appeal, appeared on outlying streets as early as 1918. One innovative apartment complex built in 1929 featured a courtyard at its center to provide outdoor recreation space for its tenants. Duplexes and garage apartments -- many from Swan Lake's earliest days -- continue to attract singles, young couples, and empty-nesters.

Once a spring-fed watering hole, Swan Lake eventually became a community gathering place and the site of a 1910 amusement park. Today the lake and surrounding park, a popular bird watching spot, are the focus of neighborhood attention as residents raise funds to restore a 1920s stone fountain.

Finding solutions to commercial encroachment is another focus of residents. The neighborhood is within easy walking distance of the very popular Cherry Street retail and restaurant corridor, several medical facilities, and other businesses. The Swan Lake Neighborhood Association, which initiated a successful effort to add a historic preservation zoning overlay, supports efforts to keep commercial development on the perimeter of the neighborhood from expanding into the residential district.

Another positive feature noted by APA is the mix of housing: More expensive, larger single family homes around the lake and around the southern end of the neighborhood, a mix including smaller bungalows and brick apartment buildings through the northern half of the neighborhood. This is a neighborhood where you could find housing suitable for any stage of your life. The couple that spends $100 for dinner and drinks on Cherry Street lives in the neighborhood; so does their waiter and their bartender and the barista who makes the lovely designs on their after-dinner lattes.


Historic preservation has helped to preserve that diversity of housing stock. You can see what happens without that protection by heading north of Cherry Street -- affordable bungalows and brick apartment buildings replaced by $300,000-plus townhomes (which are now selling at a deep discount from their peak prices). Speculation replaced affordability for which there was a demand with luxury which apparently lacks strong demand at the moment.

Note the balance in the APA's description -- walking distance of popular shopping districts is a good thing, but protection of the residential area against commercial encroachment is important, too, especially since new commercial development is likely to be larger in scale, be less attractive, require more off-street parking, and use lower quality building materials and techniques than the commercial development from the 1920s and 1930s along Cherry Street.

The APA specifically salutes legislative efforts to prevent that encroachment:

  • Organized in 1983, Swan Lake Neighborhood Association launched a successful campaign (1992) to list neighborhood in the National Register of Historic Places (1998)
  • City approves neighborhood petition for Historic Preservation overlay zoning for Swan Lake and adopts design guidelines (1994)
  • Residents support legislative efforts (2011) to close loophole permitting commercial development within boundaries of Historic Preservation Zoning districts
  • City council places a moratorium, to expire December 1, 2011, on use of planned unit developments to amend zoning in historic districts
  • As part of implementing its recently adopted comprehensive plan, PLANiTulsa, City allocates $300,000 to develop three small-area plans, including one that incorporates those parts of Swan Lake adjacent to commercial and medical corridor

I discussed the HP / PUD loophole at length back in May, when the City Council voted for the temporary change to the zoning code to close that loophole. The sunset clause was a vain attempt to placate the build-anything-anywhere lobby and keep them on the sidelines during the election. As I predicted, the Council's pusillanimity on this issue did not inoculate them from opposition and defeat, despite their hopes to the contrary. The new council, elected with chamber and developer money, is unlikely to remove the sunset clause or even to extend the moratorium.

It's probably too much to hope, but before the new council is seated the current council could, without going back to the TMAPC, vote to remove the sunset clause from the ordinance. (The TMAPC made a recommendation on the proposed ordinance back in May; they would not need to be consulted again.) It would be a positive legacy for the outgoing councilors -- protecting the integrity of a nationally recognized neighborhood, a jewel in Tulsa's crown, keeping speculators from killing the Swan that laid the golden egg.

If you want to know what the build-anything-anywhere lobby will do, given the chance, just look at Bumgarner's Folly, the big vacant lot south of 14th Street between Troost and Utica Avenues. Already, developers have eroded HP-zoned neighborhoods along Utica by razing protected homes for parking as part of PUDs for large office buildings.

Last week, at the Forest Orchard neighborhood association candidate forum, I asked Ken Brune, the Democratic nominee for the District 4 council seat, "Do you think the HP boundaries ought to be respected, or are they negotiable for the right project?" Brune's response: "I think it depends upon the project.... I think that those decisions have to be made on a case by case basis as to whether you make any changes with regard to the rules. The rules are there, the rules need to be followed, unless of course a certain project that there be an exception.... " His opponent, Republican nominee Blake Ewing, has made several clear written statements on the moratorium and on historic preservation in general:

Does he support the moratorium on PUD's in HP Districts?

Will he vote to extend it if no small area plans are in place to protect HP District boundaries when it is set to expire in December?
Yes, though I really want to see us get to work on those small area plans.

Terry Simonson resigns

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At a 4 p.m. news conference, Mayor Dewey Bartlett Jr announced that his Chief of Staff, Terry Simonson, has resigned, according to News on 6 reporter Emory Bryan, who was live-tweeting the announcement.

MORE: Bartlett Jr sent an email to city employees at 4:32 pm:


I have just announced to the news media that Chief of Staff Terry Simonson has submitted his resignation from this administration. Mr. Simonson has been an integral part of this organization's success and I appreciate his service, ideas, energy, dedication and hard work, and especially his friendship. The funding of our present and future police and fire academies are a direct result of his work.

The work of the external committee reviewing the ethics question of undue influence in the admittance of Ryan Simonson to the Fire Academy has not been completed. I do expect to receive some determination from that committee by the end of the week.

Terry will work in a transition capacity for approximately two weeks to conclude his multiple projects and assignments. We have a very talented staff that will take on the management of pending projects.


Mayor Dewey F. Bartlett Jr.

MORE: Steven Roemerman's encounter with firefighter applicants at City Hall a few weeks ago puts the matter in perspective:

Sitting next to the two men who had made it so far into the process on their own made an impact on me. I could see in their eyes how important this was to them, everything about their demeanor, and their speech screamed, "I want to be a Tulsa Firefighter so bad I can taste it!" If they get through to the end everyone will know that they beat out hundreds of candidates to get there. They will feel the pride of being the best of the best. To start that process by cheating is dishonorable.

For a wonderful contrast between this scandal the right way to do things we need to look no further than Medal of Honor recipient Dakota Meyer who refused a shot at FDNY because it would have required a special exception and special treatment. Meyer understands that a man can not attain honor by acting dishonorably.

You may ask yourself, what is the big deal? Why is this important? I'd say ask the hundreds of candidates that follow the rules if it is a big deal. Ask the people also tried and failed to call in that day but didn't have a father that works for the Mayor to help if this is a big deal. This is a big deal because it is a another alleged violation of the ethics ordinance from this administration, another investigation, and another controversy.

Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett Jr has appointed two committees to look into allegations that Chief of Staff Terry Simonson used his position to get his son a slot in the Tulsa Fire Department applicant pool and to use the department's practice facility without authorization.

The list of names -- three on each committee -- is interesting, and one in particular stands out to me.

From Fox 23:

Sources in Mayor Bartlett's office say Bartlett will assemble an internal and external committee to determine two things: was there any undo influence used? And, can criteria for selection for testing for firefighter academies be improved?

Monday, the Mayor's office announced that the external committee will include Jody Parker, a Tulsa businessman; Robert Gardner, former city councilor; and Stanley Glanz, Tulsa County Sheriff. The internal committee will include Erica Felix-Warwick, Human Resources Personnel Director; Vickie Beyer, Management Review Office Director; and Doug Woods, Training Officer for Tulsa Fire Department.

Vickie Beyer is the head of the office tasked with implementation of the KPMG report. Her name turns up frequently in a large collection of emails to and from Terry Simonson, obtained in response to an Open Records Act request. (I do not know who made the original request. The response to the request was forwarded to me by a third party some months ago.)

The impression from the tone of the emails is that Beyer and Simonson have a great deal of regard for one another, purely professional respect, no doubt, but it raises the question: Can Beyer investigate a matter involving Terry Simonson with sufficient objectivity?

Here's one exchange from November 2010 (pages 199-203 of the PDF linked below). I've ordered the emails sequentially and formatted them for the web, but they are otherwise unedited from the versions as released by the open records custodian:

From: Beyer, Vickie
Sent: Saturday, November 06, 2010 7:49 PM
To: Simonson, Terry
Subject: Relationship with TMUA

Jim Cameron really wants to talk to the Mayor about the hiring of the Chief Technology Officer. I understand interviews are Monday, but Jim's meeting with the Mayor is not untilt Wednesday. It would be if the Mayor doesn't announce his decision until after he has met Jim.

From: Simonson, Terry [tsimonson@cityoftulsa.org]
Sent: Saturday, November 06, 2010 8:35 PM
To: Beyer, Vickie
Subject: RE: Relationship with TMUA

We know about their issue. Heard it from Sevenoaks and Hudson It was a perfect intro for me to ask them they why they don't try competition for IT services and how could anyone say there is nothing in their operations that needs improvement? I don't think Jim is seeing the full picture where our project can be m of help to them. He thinks things are fine yet has issues with the city support services. I don't think a decision will be made that quickly but he needs to starting thinking that maybe our project can answer his concerns

Guess you work like me.

From: Beyer, Vickie
Sent: Saturday, November 06, 2010 8:41 PM
To: Simonson, Terry
Subject: Re: Relationship with TMUA

I think we'll get there. I just want to guard the relationships until we do.

Not as prolific as you are - but always thinking!

From: Simonson, Terry [tsimonson@cityoftulsa.org]
Sent: Saturday, November 06,20108:46 PM
To: Beyer, Vickie
Subject: RE: Relationship with TMUA

I too want to keep the relationships. I think you are my countweight: because after 20 years being a courtroom lawyer and advocate, I take my cause or my client the whole distance and to the mat when I believe in them. That can be a little overwhelming to some folks who aren't used to a relentless advocate but I don't like to lose But there is a place for the kinder gentler approach which I can show at times. Just remind me once in awhile.

From: Beyer, Vickie
Sent: Sunday, November 07, 2010 8:37 PM
To: Simonson, Terry
Subject: Re: Relationship with TMUA

It's part of my job as president of the fan club!

From: Simonson, Terry [tsimonson@cityoftulsa.org)
Sent: Sunday, November 07,2010 6:19 PM
To: Beyer, Vickie
Subject: RE: Relationship with TMUA

Thank you Ms. President.

Simonson also holds Beyer in high regard, and this email from December 27, 2010, suggests that he may have had some influence in her obtaining her current position as head of the Management Review Office (page 34 of the PDF of emails linked below):

From: Simonson, Terry [tsimonson@cityoftulsa.org]
Sent: Monday, December 27,2010 1:30 PM
To: Doerflinger, Preston; Michael Brink
Cc: Jeff Stava
Subject: RE: Visit Schedule


This for this update. Since I sent to you the organization chart of the MRO which was established this past fall, we have discussed some possible personnel changes. The Mayor, Preston, and I believe we need to have a manager in charge of the MRO. At this point Preston and I do the best we can on a limited basis but its clear more day to day oversight is needed. We seem to be in agreement that the person currently on staff best fit for this role is Vickie Beyer. You met her when you were here. Vickie, who is a CPA, has 13 years of management experience with the city and truly grasps what we are trying to do. She is extremely competent and dedicated. One of the other staffers, Cathy Criswell, may be returning to direct our Risk Management Department. Cathy, who is also a CPA, was the risk manager before we moved her to the MRO. Cathy and I have discussed this change. These changes we would plan in January. That would leave, in the MRO, Vickie, Kelly Brader who moved to the MRO from Preston's internal auditing department and is fitting into the MRO very well and like Vickie is extremely competent, and Lydia Bracken.

Look forward to seeing you soon.



Download the emails: Terry Simonson emails, November 1, 2010, through January 5, 2011, 232 page PDF file (5 MB)

KOTV: Two Tulsa city officials on paid leave over favoritism allegations

KJRH: Mayor puts city leaders on paid administrative leave

An interesting detail in the KJRH story:

2NEWS put in an open records request for the emails between fire administrators regarding Ryan Simonson almost three weeks ago. We only just received them Monday [September 26, 2011].


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In my entry, "Tulsa District 4: Blake Ewing on historic preservation and infill," I wrote "Here's some infill development by one of Democrat nominee Ken Brune's political contributors." The sentence accompanied photographs of the development, or lack thereof, between Troost Ave. and Utica Ave. south of the Broken Arrow Expressway and 14th St.

The reference was to John Bumgarner, the developer (or, at this point, undeveloper) of the property in question. At a neighborhood meeting tonight at which the District 4 candidates spoke, Brune challenged me on this, and indeed Bumgarner is not listed on Brune's pre-primary C-1 as someone who gave more than $200 to Brune prior to the end of the reporting period on August 29, 2011. Given that the property in question displayed signs, prior to the primary, calling for the defeat of incumbent Councilor Maria Barnes, I do think it is fair to describe Bumgarner as Brune's political ally, and I have corrected the entry accordingly.

On May 29, 1936, Winston Churchill, conservative backbencher, spoke in a debate about British preparedness for the coming air war (emphasis added):

Churchill_portrait_NYP_45063_235px.jpgMy right hon. Friend said the other day that you must not cry over spilt milk, and he said it to-day in other words, as to recriminating about the past, and so forth. I will tell the House the use of recriminating about the past. It is to enforce effective action at the present. It is no use recriminating about the past simply for the purpose of censuring and punishing neglect and culpability, though that, indeed, may at times become the duty of Parliament. But there is great necessity for recriminating about the actions of the past and the neglects of the past when one is not satisfied that all is being done at the present time. That is the justification for it.

THE MODERN CONTEXT: Peter Oborne and Frances Weaver, writing in the Spectator about the vindication of Eurosceptics regarding the single European currency (emphasis added):

Very rarely in political history has any faction or movement enjoyed such a complete and crushing victory as the Conservative Eurosceptics. The field is theirs. They were not merely right about the single currency, the greatest economic issue of our age -- they were right for the right reasons. They foresaw with lucid, prophetic accuracy exactly how and why the euro would bring with it financial devastation and social collapse....

Speaking in the House of Commons in 1936, Winston Churchill -- then himself a marginal and widely scorned figure -- uttered the following words: 'the use of recriminating about the past is to enforce effective action at the present'. So what are the lessons we should learn from the British argument over the euro?

First, we should cherish that very British trait, eccentricity. Study of the public discourse at the height of the euro debate shows how often pro-euro propagandists isolated their critics by labelling them cranks. Here's just one example, taken from the Observer columnist Andrew Rawnsley's column on 31 January 1999: 'On the pro-euro side, a grand coalition of business, the unions and the substantial, sane, front rank political figures. On the other side, a menagerie of has-beens, never-have-beens and loony tunes.'

Most of Mr Rawnsley's 'substantial, sane, front-rank political figures' came together 12 years ago at the launch of the Britain in Europe campaign to take us into the euro -- Tony Blair, Peter Mandelson, Michael Heseltine, Ken Clarke, Charles Kennedy, Danny Alexander. So here's another lesson: be wary of cross-party alliances. Again and again it is the lonely and cussed figures who stand outside the establishment orthodoxy who are vindicated over time.

There's a good bit too about how certain self-interested large corporations co-opted the Confederation of British Industry to support European monetary union. One suspects the same thing is happening any time a Chamber of Commerce backs higher taxes, illegal immigration, or greater regulation.

Just as bad was the CBI, whose claims to represent British industry as a whole have always been dubious at best. By the mid-1990s a small clique of large corporations were firmly in control, and they had the director general they wanted in the shape of the impeccably well connected Adair (now Lord) Turner, later to become chairman of the disastrous Financial Services Authority and chairman of the Government's Committee on Climate Change. Few pieces of conventional wisdom are ever too conventional for Lord Turner. His corporate bosses (Niall FitzGerald of Unilever, David Simon of BP, British Airways' Colin Marshall) claimed that an overwhelming majority of British businessmen backed the single currency -- a vital propaganda tool for pro-euro campaigners. The figures used to support these claims were, however, very flimsy indeed: they could only be sustained by ignoring the views of small businessmen, and in due course they were exposed -- a crucial early defeat for the pro-euro cause.

Linking to the Spectator piece, David Abbott of Brits at Their Best asks, "So what should we learn from the argument over the euro?":

"The cranks", the "loons", small business people and honest people were right. Joining the euro would have been a catastrophe for Britain.

Big business, big politicians, big crooks and the big BBC were wrong.

But make no mistake, they will try to make the same mistake again because it's lucrative, and they will try to drag the British people with them.

AN OPPOSING VOICE: The Laird of Swamp Castle opposes recriminating and bickering about the past:

A whimsical, but nonetheless sophisticated, explanation of gerrymandering, including the flaws with several approaches to reform. It's a useful guide to what happened in Oklahoma with the legislature under Democrat control in the past and happened again this year under the Republicans, complete with weaselly consultant. Watch the right side of the screen carefully at about 3:30 to discover the fatal flaw in the "independent commission" approach, as it was implemented in Tulsa this year.

I'm sad to say that Democrat voters in Tulsa's District 4 made my choice in the general election an easy one. Friends and supporters of incumbent Councilor Maria Barnes appreciate her commitment to defending neighborhoods against inappropriate encroachment, a problem in District 4 where modern-day commercial development (and its accompanying parking) demands much more space than traditional, walkable neighborhood commercial districts like Cherry Street. From her many years as a leader of the Kendall-Whittier Neighborhood Association and the Midtown Coalition of Neighborhood Associations, Maria understands how the zoning code works and how it affects the integrity of our neighborhoods.

With Maria's loss, her supporters are now wondering how to vote in the general election. This is particularly true of homeowners concerned about the integrity of their neighborhoods. In response to those concerns, Blake Ewing, the Republican nominee, has set out his position on historic preservation and infill development, republished here with Ewing's permission. (Click the link to read the thread on The Tulsa Forum, in context.)


I'm glad to post my thoughts regarding preservation. I'm perfectly fine with going on the record with these statements.

I'm a preservationist. I'm a developer. In midtown, those things have been mutually exclusive for some time, especially in our representatives. I'm excited about working to bridge that gap.

I'm confident that there are creative solutions to some of those problems that will allow developers to do the much appreciated work of infilling and creating the density in midtown and downtown that PlaniTulsa has called for, while also protecting our historic neighborhoods.

Developers and new home builders should not be allowed to destroy historic homes. Also, preservationists should understand that the commercial corridors and the hospitals that they appreciate require some understanding and cooperation. Find me the midtown preservationist who never eats on Cherry St. or who travels to St. Francis Hospital out of protest. They don't exist. We like Cherry St. We like St. Johns and Hillcrest. We just want those things to all play ball with each other. This has been made a black and white issue for so long and all that's done is cause developers to try to break (circumvent) the rules and preservationists to buckle down while pulling out their hair.

The historic neighborhoods are creating the value that the developers are attempting to cash in on. It's not appropriate for a developer to parasite off of the value creators and give minimal or no value back.

I had a conversation about this very thing last night and I came up with an analogy. I don't feel like the government should have the right to tell me what to do with my fists. They're mine. It's not their business, right? I do, however, understand them having a law that prohibits me from using them to hurt someone. The government does have a purpose to protect us from hurting each other, physically or financially.

In midtown's historic neighborhoods, the home values come from a few different places - their location, their history, their architecture, and their relationship to other similarly valuable homes. The midtown homeowners have bought into that value. They then work to maintain that value by keeping up their homes, forming strong home-owners associations, etc. In effect, these homes do a great deal to make midtown developments so financially valuable. From a financial standpoint, it's easy to understand why a developer would want to bulldoze existing structures to make room for new ones. These new structures benefit from their location and relationship to this large number of existing valuable homes. Over time, the neighborhoods lose value as the history is destroyed and replaced by modern day mediocrity.

To take advantage of the value those homes create, but provide no value in return is not acceptable. It's something the government should protect. A developer may be able to purchase that property and call it his own, but if he uses that property to damage the integrity of the very thing that helped make it valuable, an inequity is created that shouldn't be allowed. Simply, it should not be permitted to destroy homes in our historic midtown neighborhoods for the sake of the new development. I will say that I'm not a preservationist to the degree that I want arbitrary boards of opinionated "experts" legislating aesthetics. That's over the top.

Anyway, it is not okay that a home-builder is allowed to demolish a 90 year old home in the middle of Maple Ridge to build multiple new homes on the same lot. It's offensive to the residents of Maple Ridge and our money hungry developers should realize what they're slowly doing to Tulsa's history.

When developers were choosing to destroy our classic downtown theaters one at a time, I'm sure they had some great reasons. Now we'd love to have them back. We need a code that protects our historic neighborhoods while making development easy and accessible.

I think I'm the best candidate District 4 has had regarding preservation, because I'm a preservationist who actually has credibility with the developers. Also, I think I'm the best candidate District 4 has had regarding development, because I understand what's broken at city hall and will work to make development in Tulsa, and especially District 4, a more smooth, appealing and navigable process. I know it doesn't seem likely, but I'm confident that we can have a "win-win" district, despite the unique challenges. They should both support me. I understand development better than my opponent and I will not compromise on my commitment to protect historic homes.

The developers may have to stomach the reality that they can't go into a historic neighborhood and bulldoze homes in the night and build new smaller crappier homes on those lots. Preservationists may have to get comfortable with the idea of a couple of well designed and appropriately placed parking garages around Cherry St. :-)

Please call if you have any questions. 918.991.8252.

MORE: Here's some infill development by one of Democrat nominee Ken Brune's political allies. The portable storage container is a lovely touch:



Here's the "before" for the photos above -- some of the homes and urban forest destroyed by Ken Brune's political ally in order to create a big lawn for his portable storage container (photos from the Tulsa County Assessor website and from Google Maps):







CLARIFIED 2011/09/27: I referred to the property at 14th and Utica as owned by Ken Brune's political contributor. In fact, John Bumgarner was not listed as a contributor on Brune's pre-primary C-1 form, which means he had not contributed more than $200 prior to the end of the pre-primary reporting period 14 days prior to the election. Prior to the primary, however, Bumgarner's property did display signs advocating for the defeat of incumbent Councilor Maria Barnes, Brune's primary opponent, so I think it is fair to describe Bumgarner as Brune's political ally, and I have corrected the entry accordingly.

For more background, here is a link to the minutes of the July 23, 2008, TMAPC debate on the rezoning of this property from residential/low intensity office to high-intensity office.

Redistricting appears to played a key role in the Cockroach Caucus strategy to regain control of the City Council, according to a BatesLine analysis of Tuesday's primary results by precinct.

The 2011 redistricting was the most radical since the City Council was established in 1989. Over 20% of the city's precincts were shifted from one district to another. In precincts that stayed in the same district, the barrage of negative press describing the council as "bickering" and "fighting" would be offset by a voter's positive personal interactions with the incumbent as someone who addressed issues important to them or their neighborhood. But in the shifted precincts, residents would not have any connection with the incumbent councilor, and the negative press would hit full force.

The man behind the new map was political consultant Karl Ahlgren, who had been hired by the Tulsa Metro Chamber to advise them on redistricting. Ahlgren was Mayor Dewey Bartlett Jr's campaign consultant. Bartlett's appointee on the redistricting commission, Daryl Woodard, acknowledged discussing redistricting with Ahlgren and later endorsed the candidate slate created by Ben Latham and Burt Holmes; the slate's Republican candidates were Ahlgren clients. According to some candidates who were approached by Ahlgren, Latham and Holmes did not make endorsements in districts where Ahlgren didn't have a client lined up and did not interview prospective candidates who rejected Ahlgren's advances.

A telling detail of the purpose of redistricting: District 2 boundaries were changed in the original version of the final proposal, moving precincts around Southern Hills and ORU from District 2 to District 9. After incumbent Councilor Rick Westcott announced that he would not seek re-election, the precincts were moved back to District 2 at District 9 Councilor G. T. Bynum's request.

The new district lines also put incumbent District 7 councilor into District 9.

In the District 3 Democratic primary, incumbent Roscoe Turner would have won re-election had the old boundaries been in force. Redistricting removed four high-voting precincts (7, 8, and 10, plus one nearly-empty precinct, 22) in which Turner typically received over 80% of the vote in head-to-head match-ups with Patrick. Turner received 88% of the vote in those precincts in the 2006 Democratic primary, 91% of the vote in the 2008 general election.

Redistricting added four precincts in northeast Tulsa, previously in Districts 5 and 6. Historically, precincts with a higher minority population, mainly west of Yale, supported Turner, while precincts with a higher white population, mainly east of Yale, supported Patrick.

Precincts remaining in District 3:

Patrick 561
Turner 399

Precincts added to District 3:

Patrick 144
Turner 66

Precincts moved from 3 to 1:

337 votes cast. Assume 80% for Turner:

Patrick 67
Turner 270

Adding the totals in the precincts remaining in District 3 to the likely vote for Turner in the precincts that were shifted to District 1, the total would have been:

Patrick 628
Turner 669

In all likelihood, precincts 7, 8, and 10 would have turned out more strongly for Turner in a closely contested race than they did in the District 1 primary, considered an easy win for incumbent Jack Henderson.

In the District 4 Democratic primary, incumbent Maria Barnes beat challenger Ken Brune in the precincts that had remained in District 4, but lost to him by a wide margin in wealthy Money Belt precincts that were previously in District 9. Barnes also won the single precinct (147) that was moved back into District 4 after a decade in District 1. 147 is just west of downtown and includes the Crosbie Heights and Owen Park neighborhoods.

Precincts remaining in 4:

Barnes 660
Brune 614

Precincts moved from 9 to 4:

Barnes 140
Brune 341

Precincts moved from 1 to 4:

Barnes 38
Brune 29

Six District 4 precincts east of Yale were moved to District 5. Barnes won those precincts by wide margins in the 2008 and 2009 Democratic primaries.

In the District 5 Republican primary, former incumbent Sam Roop had a large plurality of the vote in those precincts that had previously been in District 5, while Karen Gilbert won by a wide margin in precincts new to the district.

Precincts remaining in 5:

Roop 610
Gilbert 478
Trail 247

Precincts moved from 4 to 5:

Roop 108
Gilbert 233
Trail 124

Precincts moved from 7 to 5 (includes Gilbert's home precinct):

Roop 50
Gilbert 118
Trail 35

In the District 6 Republican primary, redistricting doesn't seem to have made a conclusive difference. Incumbent Jim Mautino lost to Skip Steele by 299 to 478 in precincts remaining in the district and by 36 to 72 in precincts moved to the district from District 5. Only 151 people voted in the District 3 GOP primary in the four precincts moved from District 6. In the 2009 primary (which was also a mayoral primary), Mautino won those precincts by a vote of 172 to 59 over Tadd Weese. Even that margin would not have been enough to overcome Steele's lead in the precincts remaining in District 6.

Two precincts were moved from District 6 to District 7. In 2009, these small precincts split evenly between Mautino and Weese, 14 votes each.

Here is a link to all the results by precinct, transcribed by me into a Google spreadsheet:

Tulsa Election 2011 primary results: Google spreadsheet

MORE: In the comments, Bob has an interesting notion about the origins of the "bickering" meme and why it went unchallenged in mass media:

I figured out pretty early in his term that Mayor Dewey, Jr. was following someone's script to pick fights with the city council when there was no need for a fight.

I wondered WHY, then realized it was part of a strategy that provided the pretext for the long-term voter softening up propaganda by the Lorton's World about city council "bickering" and "fighting".

Was Dewey's script fashioned by the Metro Tulsa Chamber of Commerce political consultant Karl Alhgren?

It was a much repeated theme over the past year.

Unfortunately, KFAQ Pat Campbell didn't provide any balance to the Lorton's World persistent city council "bickering" theme, with Pat's nose assuming a browner and browner shade from taking up permanent residency in Dewey, Jr.'s backside.

A special event coming up in just a couple of hours: There are only a few competitive council races remaining for November, but the ballot will also feature charter amendments affecting the basic form of government. TulsaNow has gathered the former mayors of Oklahoma's two largest cities to talk about the respective forms of government. Rodger Randle led the effort to move from the at-large commission form of government to the strong mayor / council-by-district form in 1989, during his term as mayor.

City Manager? Strong Mayor? You decide!

Tulsans will be asked on November 8th whether to vote YES and change the city to a "city manager" style of government or vote NO to keep the City operating the way it is. Unfortunately, this is not a clear issue and the current city hall problems make it even cloudier.

Tonight, everyone can find clarity at TulsaNow's free public forum on this very issue. Former Tulsa Mayor Rodger Randle will speak on our current "Strong Mayor" system and why it works, while Former OKC Mayor Kirk Humphreys will speak on OKC's "City Manager" style and why it works.

You may never get an opportunity like this again. See you tonight!

Where: TCC Metro Campus Philips Auditorum. (Entrance on 9th St)
When: 5:30pm
Cost: Free!

(I hope I'm wrong, but, given some of his political connections in Tulsa, I have a funny feeling that Humphreys will wind up saying that city manager/council may be OK for OKC, but Tulsa really needs at-large councilors and the mayor as council chairman (in other words, the Save Our Tulsa for Our Kind, Dahling, proposals).

American Majority is holding a campaign management training class for grassroots activists in Bixby (just south of Tulsa) this Saturday, September 17, 2011, sponsored by Tulsa Project 912, and part of American Majority's nationwide "training bomb."

What: American Majority campaign management training
When: Saturday, September 17, 2011, 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Where: Lord of Life Lutheran Church, 12802 S Memorial Drive in Bixby, OK
How much: $25

The class will include such topics as fundraising and budgets, using new media in campaigns, and get-out-the-vote (GOTV).

Yesterday's results should emphasize the need for serious conservative activists to get this kind of training. The Tulsa city primary was a disaster for conservative groups like the Tulsa Project 912, OK-SAFE, and Tulsa Area Republican Assembly, as the candidates they (we) endorsed, the candidates that gave good answers to their questions, almost all got beat and by candidates who in most cases didn't bother answering their questions.

You can't win policy battles without electing good people, and you can't elect good people without persuading the vast majority of voters who aren't activists and who may barely be paying attention.

And that's where this campaign management training class comes in. I am persuaded that it is impossible to earn an honest living as a campaign consultant (at least at the local level), so we need to train and develop the skills of honest amateurs to provide the support that honest candidates need to win.

I ran for city council twice, and I've helped many candidates over the years. Activists and candidates have great capacity for self-delusion. A tactic or slogan that appeals to us probably won't grab the majority of voters. I've seen all sorts of dumb moves that the candidate was sure would win the election. You cannot run a campaign by intuition any more than you can trust your sense of balance to keep a plane straight and level.

One of the most frequent and most frustrating failures is the failure to raise enough money. I hate raising money, but I managed to raise and spend about $17,000 back in 2002. I had no PAC money, only one really big donation, and I didn't spend more than an incidental amount of my own money. The contributions came from family members, co-workers, and fellow neighborhood activists and homeowners, people who knew me from my public involvement. I sent out requests and held two fundraisers, and I wasn't as aggressive about making fundraising calls as I should have been. Not complicated, time-consuming, or scary.

If you're for honest and transparent government, for free markets, for stable and safe neighborhoods, if you're against corporate welfare, against higher taxes, against eminent domain abuse, you need to get this training. You need enough humility to realize you don't know as much as you think you do about running a successful campaign and let the good folks at American Majority give you some training.

Congratulations to the winners.

Bob Baker Marionette Theater Holiday Spectacular

Click to see the uncanvassed 2011 Tulsa city primary results from the Tulsa County Election Board.

A bit hard to do turnout comparisons because of the shift in boundaries, but some areas appear to be higher than they were in 2008, the last primary with no mayoral election on the ballot.

As I went around to three different watch parties (Barnes, Ewing, and Roemerman), I didn't have time to sit and type blog updates, so I used the Twitwoop service to post short audio clips to Twitter, which you can hear via the BatesLineTwitter feed. (I'll try to post them here directly, perhaps tomorrow.)

This entry post-dated to remain at top until polls close.

Happy election day! Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

In two districts (1 and 5), the primary will determine a winner. In all districts, the primary will determine whether we'll have good representation or not-so-good representation at City Hall when all the dust settles. The important decisions are being made today! Get out and vote!

The Tulsa County Election Board has a precinct locator which will tell you where to vote and which City Council district you're in. 42 precincts -- about 20% -- have been moved to a new district this year, so there are decent odds that you've been moved.

The Tulsa City Council website has a Google Maps search: Enter an address, and it'll show your address in your new council district

Key information as you weigh your decision:

Archive of all BatesLine entries on Tulsa Election 2011.

My endorsements, with links to more information:

District 2, Republican primary: NOT Nancy Rothman
District 3, Democratic primary: Roscoe Turner
District 3, Republican primary: David Bell
District 4, Democratic primary: Maria Barnes
District 4, Republican primary: Blake Ewing
District 5, Republican primary: Sam Roop
District 6, Republican primary: Jim Mautino
District 7, Republican primary: Steven Roemerman
District 8, Republican primary: George Gibbs
District 9, Republican primary: Robert Pinney

Endorsements and questionnaires from conservative groups:

Tulsa Area Republican Assembly: They endorsed Bell, Mautino, Roemerman, Gibbs, and Pinney.
Tulsa 912 Project: They endorsed Bell, Ewing, Mautino, Roemerman, Gibbs, and Pinney, plus Matthew Foster in District 2.
OK-SAFE candidate questionnaire

Who's trying to buy a set of City Councilors?

Scans of all pre-primary contribution and expenditures reports
Which candidates accepted the BatesLine campaign finance transparency challenge?
Transparency challenge update: Post-deadline, pre-primary contributions

What is TulsaBizPac? (Note: Both Jeannie Cue and Blake Ewing gave their TulsaBizPac contribution to charity.)

Who are Ben Latham and Burt Holmes? They've given money to Rothman, Patrick, Hunt, Brune, Gilbert, Steele, Mansur, and Lakin.

Who is Karl Ahlgren (and why you should care)? Ahlgren is consultant for Hunt, Gilbert, Steele, Mansur and Lakin. He was identified as Rothman's consultant in early July. His firm sent mailers late last week for Cue, Patrick, and Steele.

What is Save Our Tulsa? Where do Save Our Tulsa supporters (median age: 75) live? Why do Money Belt denizens complain about SOT's proposals privately but refuse to denounce them publicly? (SOT's charter change proposals are on the November ballot, but SOT supporters have been active donors in this primary election.)

What is the "Midtown money belt"? Brice Bogle calls it "Tulsa's Golden Rectangle":

... an area he defines as from the northwest corner of the Inner Dispersal Loop to Skelly Drive in the south, and Harvard Avenue on the east.

"When the leaders of Tulsa talk about doing things for the benefit of Tulsa, it seldom means an area outside of the golden rectangle," Bogle said. "To many outside of the rectangular area, it often seems that those inside the area do not think of Tulsa really being anything beyond it."

My take on the Money Belt:

I would adjust his boundaries slightly -- shave off the less prosperous parts of southern and western Brookside and northeast of the Broken Arrow Expressway -- to come up with what I call the "Money Belt," but the attitude Bogle describes is spot on, and it manifests itself in election results, mayoral appointments, council-packing schemes, survey results, even water usage. That's not to say that all Money Belt denizens are afflicted with this insular attitude, or that those who are are bad people -- they just need to broaden their horizons. To them, the rest of Tulsa is something you drive through to get to Grand Lake or the airport.

But Money Belt blindness to the needs and concerns of the rest of Tulsa has real consequences. It's why it's important to provide some geographic balance on the city's boards and commissions, rather than drawing most appointees from this golden rectangle. It's why it's important for city councilors to advocate forcefully for their district's concerns; no one else in a position of power will....

(P.S. No, I don't think the Money Belt is a conspiracy. It's a demographic phenomenon, a mindset, a subculture. What makes it especially interesting is that it's a subculture that wields a good deal of political and economic power.)

The original use of the term "Cockroach Caucus"

I have struggled with what to call this cluster of special interests which has been trying to run the City of Tulsa without public input, and preferably without public debate....

They don't like the light of public scrutiny, so they conduct their business in the dark. But just because we can't see what's going on, it doesn't mean that they aren't there, contaminating public policy out of sight.

Why don't they like the light? Here's a link to reputable 2000 year old opinion on the subject. They know they aren't serving the interests of all Tulsans. They're serving the interests of a favored few, but they don't want us to know that.

This is the only election I get to vote in tomorrow, and I'm voting for entrepreneur Blake Ewing for the Republican nomination for Tulsa City Council District 4.

In the 2009 primary, I endorsed legendary Tulsa musician Rocky Frisco in his race to unseat incumbent Eric Gomez, who had beclowned himself in a number of ways during his term of office. Rocky ran a good race, but fell short. Gomez went on to get beat in the general election by Maria Barnes, whom Gomez had defeated in 2008.

Rocky's political philosophy is pretty close to mine, although he's more of a libertarian than a conservative. On local issues, he favors having city government focus on basic services and letting Tulsans keep as much of their own money as possible, rather than taxing it to pay the politically connected. In an ideal world with instant runoff voting, Rocky would get my first place vote.

In the real world, we have a three-way race this year with no runoff. Rocky has not run as vigorous a campaign this year, limited by the theft of his car earlier in the summer and a heavy schedule of performances around Tulsa. At the benefit to help him replace his car last Friday night, Rocky indicated that his time at various campaign forums had depleted his enthusiasm for serving on the City Council. He had kind words for both of his opponents, and he said he'd like to see Blake Ewing win.

Blake Ewing, Joe Bates, and Rocky Frisco, September 9, 2011. Photo by Trish Molina. Copyright 2011 Aithne Studios. Used by permission.

Blake Ewing, Joe Bates, and Rocky Frisco, September 9, 2011. Photo by Trish Molina. Copyright 2011 Aithne Studios. Used by permission.

Blake Ewing and Liz Hunt are the two candidates who have actively campaigned for the District 4 Republican nomination. Ewing is clearly the best choice. A creative entrepreneur, Ewing has built a group of businesses that employ over 100 workers, breathing new life into historic Blue Dome District buildings. He has personal experience with the ways that city government can help or hinder someone trying to start or grow a business.

What I appreciate most about Blake is his frankness and willingness to speak his mind. I don't always agree with him, by any means, but he is willing to think out loud, to think outside the box, and to defend his ideas in depth. Most politicians are content to speak in platitudes; Blake Ewing is willing to talk specifics. You can see that spirit at work in his personal blog.

In building his businesses and in running this campaign, Blake Ewing has come face-to-face with some of the ugliness of Tulsa politics and the establishment that works hard to defend its death-grip on the city. That can be said about many of my acquaintances, but Blake is one of the few people willing to speak out publicly, as he did about his interaction with political consultant Karl Ahlgren, whose services Ewing chose to reject.

While I was disappointed to see that Blake Ewing was one of the recipients of a contribution from TulsaBizPac, the PAC of the Tulsa Metro Chamber, which provides contract services to the City of Tulsa, I was pleased with his decision to give the $1,000 to a non-profit, an organization called CQ Missional, a Christian organization that "helps people discover their role in making the world a better place." In an email, Blake wrote of the group:

Their aim to grow leaders out of young adults in Tulsa is something I'm also passionate about and I'm eager to see what these future leaders do for our community.

It's one thing to serve at the point of need. It's a whole different thing to train and empower young adults to be outwardly focused and intentional about serving their community. I believe in this organization and am proud to share the $1000 with them. The long term impact they could have on the city of Tulsa and the world around it is too amazing not to support.

I love the idea that they are training people to impact their community. They are helping to form a new generation of leaders and servants, dedicated to changing the world. I wish them safety in the journey and pray that their nets be full and their compass true.

When I issued my campaign finance transparency challenge, Blake Ewing readily accepted, as did Rocky Frisco. I never heard back from Liz Hunt or from any of her Karl Ahlgren stablemates. (In the Democrat primary, Maria Barnes accepted the challenge; never heard from Ken Brune.)

Blake Ewing has used local vendors for campaign materials and services. Liz Hunt's mail pieces came from Oklahoma City's Majority Designs, evidently a condition of her consulting relationship with Karl Ahlgren, who is now described as her "general campaign consultant."

Blake Ewing would not be anyone's rubber stamp on the City Council.

District 9 has spread out, the result of a loss of population over the last ten years and the redistricting decision to move the northern border from 21st to 31st St. To get close to 1/9th of the city's population, the district has had to expand to the east and southeast. (It also had to expand to 71st and Sheridan to allow Mayor Bartlett Jr his petty revenge against District 7 Councilor John Eagleton, now a District 9 resident.)

Consequently, District 9 has stretched beyond the Money Belt to include more middle-class neighborhoods with a variety of needs. (The district has never had a middle-class city councilor; perhaps it's time that changed.)

There are three candidates for the District 9 Republican nomination: incumbent G. T. Bynum, Robert Pinney, and Kimberlee Whiteman. Pinney is a long-time leader in the Brookside Neighborhood Association and a consistent conservative. Pinney is very knowledgeable about the work of the City Council and city boards and authorities and has a detailed and realistic list of things he'd like to accomplish. Whiteman is a newcomer to politics. Both Pinney and Whiteman accepted the BatesLine campaign finance transparency challenge.

I like Bynum personally, but I believe it's time to replace him. Read this BatesLine entry from July for a summary of the pros and cons of G. T. Bynum as I see them.

District 8, Tulsa's southernmost City Council district, is an open seat this year, as long-time incumbent Bill Christiansen opted not to run for re-election. I'm pleased to endorse George Gibbs for the District 8 seat.

George Gibbs has his south Tulsa neighbors' interests at heart. A few years ago, when a an illegal toll bridge scheme threatened to dump heavy traffic on the two-lane country roads that serve as arterials in south Tulsa, George Gibbs volunteered his time and his skills as an attorney and blocked the scheme. His focus as a candidate is on the basic services that citizens reasonably expect from their city government, like streets that aren't crumbling and which don't back up for a half-mile just because someone wants to turn left. Gibbs will make the needs and concerns of south Tulsans a priority, and he won't have to recuse himself because of conflicts of interest.

Here's a brief video message from George Gibbs:

Gibbs's opponent, Phil Lakin, draws most of his financial support from outside District 8. He lost in 2009 because south Tulsa voters wanted their councilor to represent their interests, not the interests of the Midtown Money Belt types. Given Lakin's roles as CEO of the Tulsa Community Foundation and trustee of the George Kaiser Family Foundation, major players in local civic issues, it's reasonable to wonder whom Lakin will be representing if he is elected to the City Council. As I wrote in July, District 8 voters may well feel that the massive resources of TCF and GKFF give Lakin enough of a seat at the city's policy-making table without a seat on the City Council. (Lakin's boss, a major fundraising bundler for Barack Obama, certainly seems to have had a seat at the White House table in the run-up to now-bankrupt Solyndra's $535 million Federal loan guarantee.)

Tulsa City Council District 4 is unique in having two seriously contested primaries. In the Democratic primary, I'm pleased to endorse my friend Maria Barnes.

I've known Maria Barnes for over a decade, through her role as Kendall-Whittier Neighborhood Association president and fellow board member of the Midtown Coalition of Neighborhood Associations. From her many years as a neighborhood leader, Maria understands zoning and land use planning and how they affect the quality of life in Tulsa's neighborhoods.

Maria Barnes boldly advocates for the concerns of homeowners in Tulsa's most historic neighborhoods. In 2008, her support for a mild and reasonable form of neighborhood conservation districts made her a target for defeat by a certain clique of developers who think they ought to be able to build anything they want anywhere they want. Maria Barnes understands that what I do with my property affects my neighbors, and she supports reasonable, clearly defined and fairly enforced land-use rules that protect the investments homeowners have made in Tulsa's historic neighborhoods.

In her current term of office, Maria Barnes sought to close a loophole in our zoning code that endangered the handful of neighborhoods with historic preservation zoning protection. (Click the link for all the details.) The response from the development lobby was predictably shrill.

The developers' lobby is backing Barnes's opponent, Ken Brune, a downtown resident and lawyer. Brune was the attorney who represented the Coalition for Responsible Government, who backed the failed and divisive 2005 recall attempt. Brune's consultant is Jim Burdge, who was consultant to the recall campaign. Brune's financial backers include Joe Westervelt, renowned for his rude treatment of homeowners during his service as planning commission chairman. Brune is also supported by the Tulsa Metro Chamber's TulsaBizPac, Save Our Tulsa member Ben Latham, and contentious former Chamber chairman Bob Poe.

Maria and I often differ on national issues, but I know I can trust her to speak eloquently and knowledgeably at City Hall on behalf of homeowners, even though it makes her a political target. If you're a District 4 Democrat, I urge you to turn out in support of Maria Barnes.

MORE: My 2009 endorsement of Maria Barnes.

Things are moving rapidly on this last day before the Tulsa City Council primary, and I'm doing my best to catch up. Several developing stories:

Oklahoma City-based Majority Designs (the direct mail firm of Fount Holland and Karl Ahlgren) have put out mailers "not authorized by any campaign or candidate" advocating for the election of Byron "Skip" Steele (District 6 Republican), Jeannie Cue (District 2 Republican), and David Patrick (District 3 Democrat). The mailers are paid for by "Working Tulsans" with a return address of P. O. Box 52804, Tulsa OK 74152, a mailing address that belongs to a 48-year-old Creek County registered voter. The bulk rate endorsement is Majority Designs. If you wondered when Ahlgren's bunch would start to flout the spirit (if not the letter) of campaign disclosure laws, it's underway.

The great big vacant lot at 14th and Utica (a scar from Eric Gomez's damaging tenure on the City Council) sprouted a couple of political signs late last week, calling District 4 Councilor Maria Barnes a "bozo." Given that the big plans for that plot have failed to materialize, who's the real bozo?

Early this morning in District 8 in far south Tulsa, supporters (or employees?) of Midtown Money Belt-backed candidate Phil Lakin creepily confronted South-Tulsa-neighborhood-backed candidate George Gibbs as he and a volunteer distributed yard signs. So much for Lakin's pledge to run a clean campaign.

I have more endorsements to issue. I'll give you the whys and wherefores later but for now, I'll lift the suspense and tell you that I'm endorsing Maria Barnes in the District 4 Democratic primary, Blake Ewing in the District 4 Republican primary, George Gibbs in the District 8 Republican primary, and Robert Pinney in the District 9 Republican primary.

I've already endorsed Steven Roemerman (7 - Republican), Jim Mautino (6 - Republican), Sam Roop (5 - Republican), Roscoe Turner (3 - Democrat), David Bell (3 - Republican).

District 2 is complicated because of the above news item. In District 1, Jack Henderson has been an ally in backing neighborhoods and defeating tax increases for many years, but I'm a bit worried by some of the campaign contributions he's received this time around. That said, I'm bothered by Twan Jones' contributor list, too. If you live in either of these districts and have met the candidates, I'd be interested in your perspective. (If you live in, say, Eucha and just want to indulge in some uninformed bloviating, I'm not interested at all.)

There's the news in brief. More detail later.

MORE CAMPAIGN WEIRDNESS: Reports of a robocall allegedly from Jack Henderson to District 4 Democrats in support of Maria Barnes. I'm told Barnes didn't authorize it and Henderson knows nothing about it. Jim Burdge, campaign consultant for Ken Brune, Barnes' primary opponent, has a reputation for this sort of trick; the night before the 2005 recall election (Burdge was a consultant for the campaign; Brune was the pro-recall group's attorney), an unauthorized call went out, using an edited Richard Roberts radio comment to attack Chris Medlock.

I've received a couple of emails regarding Tulsa Public Schools policy 4401, regarding employees running for public office. The policy allows for employees to be granted a leave of absence to run for and serve in elective office. The question posed is whether District 5 candidate Karen Gilbert is required by the policy to have resigned in order to run for office, or if she will be forced to resign if she's elected.

Here's the text from the Tulsa Public Schools policy handbook:



PURPOSE: To establish guidelines for employee political candidacy and office.

Any employee may be granted an unpaid leave of absence by the Superintendent or
designee for up to one year in order to become a candidate for public political office. The
grant or denial of the leave of absence to be a candidate will be made on a case-by-case
basis as the best interests of the District may dictate. If the employee candidate is
unsuccessful in the election, then the employee candidate must return to work within 30
days of the election or will be deemed to have resigned on that date.

If elected, the employee may return to employment after the initial term of office has expired.
If the employee elected to office does not return to work within 30 days of the expiration of
the initial term of office, then the employee will be deemed to have resigned on that date.

The employee will be reinstated at the entitled salary step/grade at the time the leave was
granted. The employee will be returned to a comparable position when a position becomes

A leave of absence for the purpose of seeking political office, or for holding office, will be
arranged between the individual and the District administration within the framework of
District regulations and law.

Employee candidates engaging in political activity will make it clear their statements and
actions are their own as individuals and they in no manner represent the views of the

Employee candidates will not engage in campaign activity on District premises during
instructional hours or at any time that is disruptive to an educational activity.

Any employee seeking a leave of absence under this policy will apply for such leave in
writing in the usual manner and will receive a reply in writing.

As I read this, it doesn't seem to require a leave of absence, but it allows for one. An employee seeking a post as a state legislator would have to take leave in order to serve in Oklahoma City. Serving as a city councilor and working full time for the school district would be challenging, but wouldn't necessarily involve giving up the day job. Gilbert would have to skip all the Tuesday morning committee meetings in order to keep her job, but it would be up to District 5 voters to decide if it's acceptable for their councilor only to show up on Thursday nights.

That said, there may be a state law forbidding a public employee to serve as an elected official, but if so, I would have expected the policy to cite the legislation.

Either way, there is yet another conflict of interest for Karen Gilbert if she wins and keeps her school district job. It's often overlooked, particularly by midtowners, that the City of Tulsa is bigger than TPS -- the city limits include portions of Jenks, Union, Broken Arrow, and Catoosa school districts. Nearly 30% (29.4% to be precise) of the city's under-18 population live outside the TPS boundaries. There's great potential for new residential growth in the Broken Arrow and Catoosa school district portions of Tulsa, allowing families to choose both City of Tulsa amenities and suburban schools.

An example of this blind spot: The education plank of the Tulsa Metro Chamber's election manifesto mentions only Tulsa Public Schools and makes no mention of the important role played by the other public school districts, private schools, and Tulsa's robust and growing homeschool community.

Encouraging families to remain in or return to central Tulsa would be easier with greater charter school capacity and vouchers for school choice, measures that the Tulsa Public School board has historically opposed, to the point of suing the state over the charter school law. Within the TPS boundaries, the ratio of enrollment to the under-18 population is 60%, the lowest of any school district overlapping or bordering Tulsa. (Sperry is highest at 86%, followed by Sand Springs and Collinsville at 80%, Union, Catoosa, and Owasso at 70%, Jenks at 65%, and Broken Arrow at 63%.)

Children outside of the TPS system, whether in charter schools, suburban public schools, private school, or homeschool, matter a great deal to the City of Tulsa's future growth.

Roscoe_driller-sm.jpgThis is the ninth rematch between current District 3 Councilor Roscoe Turner and former Councilor David Patrick. The series is tied 4-4, with Patrick winning in 1996, 1998, 2002, and 2008, and Turner winning in 2000, 2004, 2006, 2009. (Turner also won the 1998 special election, beating Patrick's sister Synna.) Patrick has decided to be a Democrat again, after winning the seat as an independent in 2008 and losing it under the same flag of convenience in 2009.

Patrick is the favorite of the Cockroach Caucus. His contributors include TulsaBizPac, the Tulsa Metro Chamber's PAC, Bill Lobeck (Mr. Kathy Taylor), developer Joe Westervelt, Save Our Tulsa (for our kind, dahling) founding father John Brock, SOT member Ben Latham, Council-suer and Great Plains Airlines board member Burt Holmes, former Susan Savage aide Jim East, BOK chairman George Kaiser, and Kaiser's attorney and GKFF board member Frederic Dorwart.

During his last term of office (2008-2009), David Patrick was flown back on Mayor Kathy Taylor's Learjet from his farm in Colorado to vote for her downtown ballpark assessment district deal. Patrick also angered his constituents by failing to keep them in the loop regarding the Mental Health Association's residence for the long-term homeless at Admiral and Yale.

In his previous term of office, 2002-2004, Patrick was part of a secretive "working group on development" made up of himself and three-other councilors backed by the build-anything-anywhere lobby. In 2003, he backed F&M Bank's rezoning at 71st and Harvard; in his failed 2004 reelection bid, he received a majority of his contributions over $200 from F&M Bank board members. He was the lone councilor to support rezoning for a Wal-Mart at 41st and Harvard.

Roscoe Turner has been named time and again as Tulsa's most believable city councilor. He came into civic issues as a leader of Sequoyah Neighborhood Association. He has worked well with Republicans and Democrats alike.

As this election is a repeat of previous elections, I'm going to take the liberty of repeating what I wrote about the District 3 election three years ago:

Although he and I likely differ on national issues, Councilor Turner has been on the right side of most local issues, while his opponent was almost always on the wrong side, sometimes all by himself. Patrick is now calling himself an independent, but as a candidate and a councilor, Patrick has been under the control of the Tulsa Whirled editorial board, the development lobby, and other powerful special interest groups. Roscoe Turner is the true independent in this race, in that he owes his election only to his constituents, and his only ambition is to serve the best interests of District 3 and the city at large....

Looking at Patrick's donor lists from campaigns past, it's apparent that special interests from outside District 3 see David Patrick as someone who will carry their water, even when it means betraying the best interests of his own constituents.

David Patrick's 2004 donor list was dominated by board members of F&M Bank; Patrick had been instrumental in getting the bank a controversial zoning change it sought.

In 2006, Patrick's campaign accounts were filled by supporters of reducing the number of council districts and electing three councilors at-large, a change that would have diluted north Tulsa's representation on the City Council. Bank of Oklahoma Chairman George Kaiser and BOk Financial Corp. PAC gave Patrick a combined $2,500. Realtor PAC gave him $3,000, as did midtown developer John Bumgarner.

The daily paper's editorial board, the voice of Tulsa's well-heeled special interests, desperately wants what they no longer have - a City Council they could control. They can't stand a man like Roscoe Turner, who puts the interests of ordinary Tulsans ahead of special interests. They'd love to get rid of Turner, who considers basic government priorities a higher priority than frills and non-essentials.

Roscoe Turner's detractors have called him a ward-heeler, too narrowly focused on his district's priorities. But look at the record and you'll see that it's Turner's stands on citywide issues that really give the daily paper fits.

For example -- the county sales tax increase for river projects. Turner opposed it, pointing out that when Tulsa County increases its sales tax rate, it reduces the City of Tulsa's options for funding basics like streets and police.

On zoning issues, Turner has been a friend to homeowners across the city, giving them a respectful hearing and working to ensure that they're treated fairly when a controversial zoning issue comes before the Council. That's made him a top target of the "build anything I want, anywhere I want" developers' lobby.

On regional issues, like the proposed Bixby toll bridge, Turner has always put Tulsa's best interests ahead of the suburbs. While the toll bridge wouldn't directly affect District 3, Turner understands that building the south Tulsa road improvements to support the bridge will divert money that could be rebuilding streets in the rest of the city.

Roscoe Turner's citywide focus hasn't prevented him from looking out for his own district's special needs. His attention to constituent concerns throughout the district has allowed him to win avid supporters in what once was Patrick's base east of Yale Ave. For example, Turner has worked with neighborhoods near the airport to address problems with the noise abatement program, an issue that residents feel Patrick ignored.

Turner's aim is to do what is right by the people of District 3 and the whole city of Tulsa. His integrity has won the confidence of Urban Tulsa Weekly readers, who have twice voted him Tulsa's Most Believable Councilor in the annual Absolute Best of Tulsa awards.

In the Republican District 3 primary, former Oklahoma Lake Patrol officer David Bell faces Randall Reese. Bell has served as president of the Maxwell Neighborhood Association, was a volunteer for Randy Brogdon's campaign (which is how I met him), and has been endorsed by the Tulsa Area Republican Assembly. Reese, who ran for the House District 72 seat last year, doesn't appear to be campaigning actively. In an overwhelmingly Democratic district, Bell will have an uphill battle against either Turner or Patrick in the general election, but he is the better choice of the two Republicans on the ballot.


Thirteen of the candidates running for Tulsa City Council accepted my challenge to publicize any contributions they received after the pre-primary reporting deadline (listed alphabetically per district):

Jason Trent, District 1, Democrat
Jeannie Cue, District 2, Republican
David W. Bell, District 3, Republican
Roscoe Turner, District 3, Democrat
Maria Barnes, District 4, Democrat
Blake Ewing, District 4, Republican
Rocky Frisco, District 4, Republican
Sam Roop, District 5, Republican
Jim Mautino, District 6, Republican
Elliott Parker, District 7, Republican
Steven Roemerman, District 7, Republican
Robert Pinney, District 9, Republican
Kim Whiteman, District 9, Republican

They have reported the following additional contributions that had not previously been reported on a C-1 contributions and expenditures report.

Jeannie Cue, District 2, Republican:Fighterfighters Local 176, $5000.00; Dennis Hall, $200.00; AFSCME PEOPLE, $2000.00. (AFSCME is the union representing some non-sworn City of Tulsa employees.)

Maria Barnes, District 4, Democrat: Tulsa Firefighters Local 176, $2,500; Judith Mattox, Leicester, NC, $500. (Maria notes: "Mrs Mattox is someone I met back in 2010
when I was trying to restore the funding to the Lift program. She comes to Tulsa once
a month to check on her sister. Her sister relies on the Lift bus to get around. She has helped me to get plugged in the people who use the mass transit and the Lift." Tulsa Transit's The Lift buses serve Tulsans with disabilities who can't use fixed-route transit.)

Sam Roop, District 5, Republican: Douglas Miller, $250.

Steven Roemerman, District 7, Republican: Beau McElhattan, $10; Pam Wilcher, $100; Tanya Strouse, $50; Tyson Wynn, $100.

The other candidates report no additional contributions since the C-1 report.

Karl Ahlgren's vocation is taking money from political special interests in exchange for smearing people who are obstacles to the special interests's goals. He's done it again today, with a mail piece on behalf of Tom Mansur smearing Steven Roemerman.

Contrary to Mansur's claim, Steven Roemerman has not been endorsed by the AFL-CIO or by any AFL-CIO-affiliated organization. He has not received any money from political action committees. Steven Roemerman's funding comes mainly from family members and long-time friends who believe in Steven's integrity and intelligence.

On the contrary, it's Tom Mansur who received campaign money from major Obama fundraiser George Kaiser, a liberal Democrat. Mansur's contributors are Money Belt types who are giving to multiple candidates in an apparent bid to buy control of the City Council: John Brock (founding father of Save Our Tulsa), Joseph "Jody" Parker Jr., Tom Snyder, Stacy Schusterman, TulsaBizPac, Kent Dunbar, and, of course, SOT member Tobias "Ben" Latham and council-suer Burt Holmes.

We don't know who else may have given money to Tom Mansur after the deadline. While Steven Roemerman has posted up-to-date information on contributions on his website, Tom Mansur refused the campaign finance transparency challenge. Remember that Mansur's consultant, Karl Ahlgren, ran Chris Trail's race which brought in maximum contributions from out-of-state business associates of then-Mayor Kathy Taylor's husband, too late for the public to know before the primary. It's reasonable to think that Mansur and Ahlgren are hiding something this year, as well.

A small group of wealthy Tulsans want total control of city government. They don't want thoughtful citizens on the City Council who will ask direct questions or who will stand firm against special-interest manipulation. They want a City Council full of well-trained monkeys who will vote on command. They exist under various names -- TulsaBizPac, Coalition for Responsible Government, Tulsans for Better Government, Save Our Tulsa -- I call them the Cockroach Caucus. They've used unsubstantiated claims of "bickering" and "ward politics" to discredit the councilors we've elected to represent us.

These are the people, the Cockroach Caucus, who created a year of turmoil with their 2004-2005 attempt to recall two city councilors over policy differences. For all the whining and complaining they do about "Council bickering," they dragged the city through a divisive year of attacks and smears, all because they didn't like the results of an election, and they refused to work harmoniously with the councilors that the people of Tulsa had elected.

These are the people who led us into the Great Plains Airlines mess. They promised us openly that the taxpayers were at no financial risk, while they were secretly promising financiers that the taxpayers would pick up the tab if their wacky airline idea failed. It failed, state taxpayers coughed up $30 million in transferable tax credits with nothing to show for it, and Tulsa taxpayers got saddled with $7.1 million, which we're paying for with higher property taxes.

These are the Midtown Money Belt people who don't like the councilors that east and west and south and north Tulsa elect to represent our interests at City Hall. Middle-class and working-class Tulsans want more cops on the beat, city pools that open in the summer, streets that don't tear our cars to pieces, zoning that protects our neighborhoods against shoddy redevelopment, and economic policies that attract and keep growing businesses. The Midtown Money Belt types want taxpayers to subsidize their entertainment -- islands in the river, expensive concerts at the arena, WNBA. They want us to subsidize the success of their investments in suburban real estate, at the expense of growth within the city limits to help fund public safety and infrastructure.

So because they don't like the fact that the rest of us elect councilors focused on efficient basic city services, these people propose charter changes to dilute geographical representation on the City Council. They yearn for the days when you could drive a golf ball from the Mayor's midtown backyard into the yards of the other city commissioners. They want to pack the council with at-large councilors who have to be wealthy enough to afford a city-wide race or beholden to those who are.

These people have decided to back a group of candidates so they can take back control of the City Council. They don't care if their candidates are well-informed, and they don't want candidates with the backbone to oppose special interests who want to misuse city resources for their own benefit.

These people wanted to foist Nancy Rothman on the citizens of Tulsa. Nancy Rothman plotted, with her close personal friend, a psychic, to plant child pornography on her ex-husband and to alienate her sons from their father. Nancy Rothman blew through a generous divorce settlement, worth well over a million dollars, refinancing and taking equity out of her house before declaring bankruptcy. From her public statements, it's apparent that Nancy Rothman still refuses to take responsibility for her irresponsible and destructive behavior and believes, against all reason, that she can bring peace and harmony to City Hall.

Karl Ahlgren was proud to claim Nancy Rothman as a client before all this came to light. The guys who hired him -- Tobias "Ben" Latham and Burt Holmes -- were happy to give money to Nancy Rothman's campaign. Did they know about the way she wrecked her family relationships and her personal finances? Did they bother to vet her background? Or were they content to dump any old wacko on the City Council, as long as they could pull her strings?

What does this say about the other candidates Ahlgren, Latham, Holmes, and their buddies are backing? Did they fail to investigate their backgrounds, too? What do we really know about these people?

Karl Ahlgren and his firm smeared District Attorney Tim Harris, promoted sales tax increases for entertainment facilities, lied about Mark Perkins' stand on 2nd amendment rights, nearly wrecked the credibility of the Republican majority in the legislature with Speaker Lance Cargill and what some called a "pay-to-play" setup, and lobbied for changes to state law which would allow the state to overrule Tulsa's locally enacted and very modest historic preservation measures.

Ahlgren's firm AH Strategies and the associated firm Majority Designs were hired by Oklahoma City moguls and millionaires -- a secretive group called "Momentum" -- for a successful takeover of the Oklahoma City Council earlier this year. One of the Momentum-backed Council majority's first acts was to exclude Councilor Ed Shadid, the only councilor to succeed in beating a Momentum candidate, from decisions about the implementation of MAPS 3 projects. This is the kind of "harmony" and "cooperation" Ahlgren and his clients want to see in Tulsa -- shut up and do what we say, or you don't get a seat at the table.

To sum it all up, these same people, the Cockroach Caucus, want you to elect Tom Mansur. By allowing this smear and distortion to go out under his name, Tom Mansur has shown himself to be exactly the kind of weak-willed and easily manipulated rubber-stamp the Cockroach Caucus wants on the City Council.

Tulsa needs a strong council filled with intelligent people of good will. District 7 citizens need to reject the Cockroach Caucus's attempt to buy the City Council and elect Steven Roemerman.

District 5 is a three-way race: Incumbent and first-term Councilor Chris Trail, former District 5 Councilor Sam Roop, and school district employee and PTA leader Karen Gilbert. No Democrats filed, so Tuesday's primary winner takes the seat.

Because of her conflicts of interest, because she is the consensus choice of the Cockroach Caucus, I oppose Karen Gilbert and strongly prefer either Chris Trail or Sam Roop to Gilbert. Several friends who have seen the District 5 candidates at various forums uniformly panned Gilbert's performance. One described her as "an empty pantsuit." To another, the establishment's support of Gilbert is emblematic of the Cockroach Caucus's desire for an easily manipulated and controlled City Council.

Chris Trail has been a better councilor than I expected. Trail got off to a bad start: He was Kathy Taylor's pawn in her successful effort to knock Bill Martinson off of the City Council. Trail moved into the district to run, his campaign was backed by money from Taylor's husband's business associates, and his campaign consultant was Karl Ahlgren. Having served Kathy Taylor's purposes as an instrument of vengeance, Trail has been discarded by many elements of the city establishment in favor of Gilbert. (Trail still seems to have fans in the developers' lobby -- $1,000 from BuildPAC, $449 from Joe Westervelt -- Kathy Taylor's husband gave him $500, and he got an endorsement and $2500 from TulsaBizPac). A direct experience of abandonment and betrayal by the powers-that-be often has a salutary effect; the victim learns some skepticism and gains an understanding of the high stakes and hidden agendas in and around city politics.

While Trail would be better than Gilbert, Sam Roop is by far the best option for District 5 Republicans. Roop spent nine years on the City Council then a year as the city's Chief Administrative Officer under Mayor Bill LaFortune. He's been through the budget process from both sides of the negotiation.

Roop first ran for Council with the aim of being a watchdog, and he was one of the first councilors who refused to be a rubber stamp. In 1996, as a freshman councilor, he was the lone voice objecting to the city directing Federal grant money to pro-abortion group Planned Parenthood for a sexuality education program. It was only in 1998, with two more pro-life councilors, that he was able to block further city-controlled funding to the abortion rights advocacy group. In 1997, he was one of three councilors to publicly oppose the proposed sales tax increase for a downtown arena.

In later years, I had some disappointments with Roop, including his support for It's Tulsa's Time and Vision 2025, the 2000 and 2003 efforts to raise sales taxes to fund an arena. Nevertheless, in 2004, I endorsed his re-election:

Sam Roop has taken some hits over the years for asking tough questions of the the administration, particularly on budget matters. He has been targeted for defeat time and again, and it was a close shave last time out. He has asserted the Council's role for oversight and insisted on the Council having the staff and resources to monitor the City's executive branch.

Sam Roop has generally been supportive of neighborhood concerns, including the recent controversies at 71st & Harvard and 41st & Harvard. He was one of three councilors (with Christiansen and Medlock) to accept the valid protest petition presented in the 71st & Harvard case. At Tuesday's Council committee hearing, Sam asked some good questions of Patrick Boulden about the Council's rights to amend a recommendation from TMAPC on a change to the zoning protest process.

I haven't always agreed with Sam. We were on opposite sides of the Tulsa Time and Vision 2025 issues, and we squared off in debates both times. I respect the way Sam conducted himself in those situations. At a time when the backers of Tulsa Time were dodging debates in an effort to prevent the opposition from making any headway, Sam Roop agreed to debate me on TV, the only televised debate of that election. Sam knows its possible to disagree without being disagreeable.

After his 2004 re-election, Sam Roop worked with four of his fellow councilors to block the new council chairman's attempted power grab.

Later that same year, however, Roop disappointed his council reform colleagues and many Tulsans by relenting, under heavy pressure, on the reappointment of two controversial water board members, a key battle in the struggle over whether the City of Tulsa should use its own resources for its own edification or instead (as the developers' lobby wished) to fuel suburban growth at Tulsa's expense. Shortly thereafter, Roop left the council to serve as Mayor Bill LaFortune's Chief Administrative Officer. In fairness, Roop had been out of work for over a year at the time, one of many Tulsa victims of the bursting of the telecom bubble in the early part of the last decade.

During his brief tenure, Roop consolidated IT functions at City Hall into a single IT department. As CAO, he oversaw seven departments: human resources, human rights, information technology, finance, municipal courts, equipment management, and the Tulsa Area Emergency Management Agency.

For three and a half years, until this June, Roop served as Technical Projects Manager at Spirit Bank. He's now working as a telecommunications consultant.

Sam Roop is the only District 5 candidate to accept the BatesLine campaign finance transparency challenge. All of his campaign funds are coming from his own pocket, and he has put $20,000 of his own money into the race. Roop has been endorsed by longtime District 5 conservative activists Greg and Susan Hill.

Sam Roop's roots go deep into District 5. He has owned and lived in the same house in the same District 5 neighborhood for 33 years. (Trail moved to the district just before the 2009 election and is not a homeowner.) Roop's knowledge of city government, of the often forgotten neighborhoods along the Mingo Valley, and of IT are all assets that will well serve his constituents and the city at large.

MORE: KOTV has video excerpts from a Tulsa Downtown Kiwanis Club debate featuring the District 5 candidates.


If you want to vote in the Tulsa City Council primary election, but think you might not make it to the polls next Tuesday, September 13, 2011, you have the opportunity to vote absentee-in-person today, September 9, and Monday, September 12, between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. at your county election board.

For most Tulsa residents, that means the Tulsa County Election Board, 555 N. Denver Ave. If you live in the Osage, Rogers, or Wagoner County portions of the City of Tulsa, you must go to your own county election board in Pawhuska, Claremore, or Wagoner, respectively, to cast an absentee-in-person ballot.

Don't forget: Oklahoma's voter ID law is now in effect. Eligible proof of identity documents include driver's license, state ID, military ID, and passport. The voter identification card issued by the county election board is also accepted as a valid identification document.

RockTF-500x375.jpgLegendary Tulsa musician Rocky Frisco, member of the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame, who also happens to be a candidate for the Republican nomination in Tulsa City Council District 4, has been an involuntary pedestrian for the last several weeks, following the theft of his old, beat-up, but reliable Toyota Corolla. (Sadly, the beloved MG in the photo to the right is out of commission as well after an engine compartment fire and a paid-for repair that didn't happen. I suspect the lack of wheels may have been the reason he didn't make the Saturday morning endorsement forum of the Tulsa Area Republican Assembly, the conservative group that endorsed him in 2009.)

One of his fellow District 4 Republican candidates has decided to to help. Downtown restaurateur Blake Ewing is hosting a fundraiser and blues jam at his Back Alley Blues and BBQ, 116 S. Elgin in the Blue Dome District, tomorrow night, Friday, September 9, 2011.

Blake Ewing writes:

Come help Rocky get some new wheels this Friday night at Back Alley Blues and BBQ. Rocky Frisco's Toyota has been stolen and we're going to help him raise money for a new one. Come join local blues musicians for a night of great music and BBQ. We're donating a percentage of sales and taking up donations all night long. See ya there.

Rocky Frisco had this to say on Facebook:

ALL BLUES MUSICIANS AND BLUES FANS! BENEFIT AT BACK ALLEY BLUES AND BARBEQUE. Friday night, September 9th. It's an open jam, so bring your instruments. Blake Ewing is hosting this benefit to help me replace my stolen Toyota, even though we are opponents in the Tulsa City Council race. I think that's one of the coolest things I have ever heard about.

No cover charge, 10% of proceeds go to Rocky's car fund and donations will be collected, so bring money for barbecue and beer, and some extra for the fund.


Rocky Frisco on his campaign:

I haven't campaigned very heavily, since I don't really have a strong desire to be in that office. I'm more of a volunteer candidate: I'm willing to serve my District and the city, but have no political ambition. Frankly, the idea of spending all that time with politicians is not attractive to me. I registered as a candidate only because the District deserves good representation and I think I'm a better choice than the others.

From his campaign website:

It is my sincere opinion that poison, firearms and politics should only be used in self-defense. ...

Government, by its very nature, produces this kind of obsessive control wherever it intrudes.

I am, by my own nature, strongly opposed to this kind of tyranny. Liberty succeeds; tyranny eventually fails. The Soviet Union fell because of this kind of obsessive micromanagement. ...

Politicians are experienced in politics, a game of lies, manipulation and the abuse of power. They make very lousy automotive engineers, sociologists, psychologists and peacemakers. Most of them know practically nothing about cabbages, but they do know how to make ever more complicated laws and rules. Very much of what ruins the world for people like us comes from this fact.

If you want at least one person on the Tulsa City Council who understands this and wants to try to combat this tendency, vote for me in the coming election....

"As soon as representatives start thinking of themselves as leaders, they start wanting to be rulers." -Rocky Frisco

"The people of my district are neither dogs nor sheep; they don't need leading; they need representation." -Rocky Frisco

In the past, it seemed as though the Tulsa City government had a goal of competing with other cities in the arena of civic pride, building immense sports and entertainment venues, building parks and civic monuments, while the streets deteriorated and bridges collapsed. I want Tulsa to compete with other cities in being the best place to work and enjoy life and raise a family. ...

I have heard that the BOK Center is good for Tulsa, since it generated a million dollars in tax revenue in one year. To me, it represents a giant sucking sound, as Tulsans pay high prices for tickets to performences by people who take the money home, away from Tulsa. If similar efforts were dedicated to exploiting and promoting Tulsa's own native talent, Tulsa would be counted among the world's greatest music cities, like Nashville and Austin and New York. Instead, magnificent musical and artistic talent vies for a very limited budget, while International Acts snorkle up the dollars at the BOK.

When the old ballpark was abandoned, I got a questionaire in the mail that asked what should be done with the property. I replied that it should be converted into a facility for the public execution of crooked politicians....

You know how Wile E. Coyote runs off the cliff and then hangs there for a brief moment before he looks down and then starts to fall? That's the situation with the United States economy right now. It's not a good time to be racking up debt for the city of Tulsa. The Powers That Be that have always run Tulsa, no matter who is in office, would have us perpetually in debt for their pet projects. Why not elect a representative of the people, instead of these special interests?

Rocky Frisco is the deepest thinker and the most eloquent writer running for City Council this year. Visit his campaign website and his personal website and see for yourself. Tulsa would be blessed to have him serving us on the City Council.

I received an email Monday containing an anonymous ethics complaint that had been filed against Tulsa District 9 City Councilor G. T. Bynum. The text of that complaint, with links to relevant documentation added by me, can be found on the jump page for this article.

(For your reference, here is a direct link to the City of Tulsa ethics ordinance.)

The complaint involves conflicts of interest connected with Bynum's participation in Council votes involving sole-source, non-competitive awards of city revenue bond business to the Bank of Oklahoma, of which Bynum's grandfather, former Mayor Robert J. LaFortune, is a director and shareholder of holding company BOK Financial Corporation, and involving clients of his lobbying firm, including the George Kaiser Family Foundation (GKFF) and Family and Children's Services (FCS), a CDBG fund recipient.

Despite the nearness of the election, I believe that these allegations deserve to be reported to and considered by the voters. (I had hoped to publish this within a day of receiving it, but researching and adding links is a time-consuming process.)

The facts alleged regarding specific Bynum council votes, Bynum's work as a lobbyist, and his grandfather's membership of the BOK board are all well documented. Matters of "the appearance of impropriety" are open to interpretation, and there are some subtle issues with the timeline presented in the complaint. Bynum voted on issues relating to GKFF shortly before and shortly after his 11 months as a registered lobbyist for GKFF. Alleged Violation 8, however, involves Bynum voting on a matter pertaining to the Tulsa Stadium Trust, in which GKFF has an interest as a donor, in March 2010, while Bynum was a registered GKFF lobbyist.

Allegation 11, regarding lobbying client Family and Children's Services, is the only allegation that seems weak, as Bynum appears to have recused himself from voting on the Community Development Block Grant allocations in August 2010 and July 2011. (During that same August 12, 2010, council meeting, however, Bynum voted on an item involving a gift to the city from Tulsa Community Foundation; at the time he was a lobbyist for GKFF. According to the GKFF website, the board of TCF appoints the GKFF Board of Directors.)

But a city councilor acting as a federal lobbyist for entities with interests before the City Council presents a clear conflict of interest in which an action by Bynum in the best interest of his constituents might not be in line with the aims of his lobbying clients and vice versa.

One of the alleged violations states that Bynum's work as a lobbyist is per se "a violation of Section 600, 'such individuals shall not use their public positions for personal gain nor should they act in such a way to give an appearance of any impropriety.'" Certainly, Bynum's lobbying practice is based in large part on his experience as a Washington staffer for Oklahoma U. S. Senators Don Nickles and Tom Coburn. But it could be argued that his status as a sitting Tulsa official adds to his appeal to potential clients, so that in and of itself, serving as a lobbyist while a councilor violates the ethics ordinance.

One allegation involves a promissory note for $7,825,000.00 from the City to the GKFF relating to the OSU Medical Center (formerly Oklahoma Osteopathic Hospital and Tulsa Regional Medical Center). The vote occurred on December 3, 2009, about 43 days before Bynum registered as a federal lobbyist for GKFF on January 12, 2010. "Expanded access to and improved health care in Oklahoma through the Oklahoma State University Medical Center" is listed as a lobbying issue in each of the four quarterly reports Bynum filed regarding his work for GKFF. (2010 Q1, 2010 Q2, 2010 Q3, 2010 Q4. The Bynum/GKFF lobbying relationship was terminated on December 1, 2010, according to Bynum's 2010 Q4 filing.)

On the House lobby disclosure search form, selecting Lobbyist Name as search field and Bynum as criteria will bring up G. T. Bynum's current lobbying work (under the registrant names Capitol Ventures Government Relations LLC, Capitol Ventures Government Relations LLC(AKA GT Bynum Cons), and G.T. Bynum Consulting, LLC) and his wife Susan Bynum's past work for Capitol Hill Consulting Group, headed by former Oklahoma Democrat Congressman Bill Brewster

Four of the eleven allegations involve Bynum failing to recuse himself when the Council voted to waive competitive bidding for revenue bond indenture with Bank of Oklahoma, in amounts ranging from $22,500.000.00 to $155,860,000.00.

Local governments and public trusts that look out for the taxpayers' best interest put bond issues up for competitive bidding in order to get the best possible interest rate and lowest bond fees. Just as a prospective or refinancing homeowner shops around for the best combination of interest rate, points, and closing costs, a city ought to shop around for the best bond financing deal. Publications like The Bond Buyer allow local governments to advertise their bond issues nationwide for the best deal. As the Lending Tree slogan goes, "When banks compete, you win."

Giving the city's bond business to the same bank without competition is a disservice to the taxpayer, but it does improve the bank's bottom line to the financial benefit of shareholders like G. T. Bynum's grandpa.

G. T. Bynum should have known to recuse himself on these votes; grandfather falls within the ethics ordinance's definition of immediate family. More than that, someone with Bynum's degree of financial savvy should have proposed an ordinance requiring competitive bidding for bond issues over a certain amount. There are plenty of firms in and around Tulsa and Oklahoma capable of handling the work.

This was a topic I followed closely in 2003, when Tulsa County commissioners chose to give sole-source Vision 2025 revenue bond contracts (borrowing money against future sales tax receipts rather than spending the money as it comes in) to politically connected firms. From the BatesLine archives on non-competitive bond issues:

Analysis will have to wait, but for now, here is the full collection of C-1s, required to be filed by 5 p.m. yesterday, as provided to me by the Tulsa City Clerk's office. The only processing I've done is to merge two separate files into one and to run OCR on the entire file.

Tulsa City Council Election 2011 Pre-Primary Ethics Reports (5 MB PDF)

It's interesting to see the same names over and over again, the same people trying to buy themselves a city council. What council candidate with any respect for the office he or she seeks would take money from John Brock, founding father of Save Our Tulsa [for our kind, dahling], who wants to dilute geographical representation and weaken the influence of the representative branch of city government? And yet David Patrick, Liz Hunt, Karen Gilbert, Byron Steele and Tom Mansur all did.

UPDATED noon, 2011/09/07, with bookmarks added to the file for easy location of individual C-1s.

It's a little better than last time around. Tulsa City Council District 8 candidate Phil Lakin managed to boost the percentage of funds he raised from residents of his own district by a whole percentage point, up to 30% of the $53,500 total amount of contributions over $200, according to a BatesLine analysis of pre-primary election ethics filings.

And the total from District 9 doesn't look as impressive as in 2009, but that's only because five wealthy precincts on the northern edge of District 9 were transferred to District 4. 36.4% came from within the old District 9 boundaries, a bit shy of the 2009 proportion. If you add in the contributions from the neighborhoods just south of Southern Hills Country Club, a little over 40% of contributions over $200 came from the Midtown Money Belt.

Notable contributors include Obama bundler and BOK majority owner and chairman George Kaiser, the BOK Financial Corporation PAC, Stan Lybarger (BOK CEO), Frederic Dorwart (BOK's attorney and, like Lakin, a GKFF trustee) and several attorneys in his firm, former Democrat Mayor Kathy Taylor, Francis Rooney (not registered to vote in the Tulsa metro area), TulsaBizPac (the Tulsa Metro Chamber PAC), Phil Frohlich (another GKFF trustee), Bob Poe, and David K. Johnson.

There's already a question about whom Lakin, CEO of the Tulsa Community Foundation and trustee of the George Kaiser Family Foundation, will be representing if he is elected to the City Council. As I wrote in July, District 8 voters may well feel that the massive resources of TCF and GKFF give Lakin enough of a seat at the city's policy-making table without a seat on the City Council.

District 8 Republican voters have an alternative: George Gibbs is the attorney who fought, pro bono on behalf of the South Tulsa Citizens Coalition, and won the court battle against an illegal toll bridge scheme that would have funneled heavy truck traffic right through the heart of District 8.

Just over half of contributions to Gibbs greater than $200 came from within District 8. ($10626.25 out of 20626.25.) Only $1,500 came from the Midtown Money Belt.

The Cockroach Caucus consensus candidate in Tulsa City Council District 5 is Karen Gilbert, who has received the endorsement of the council-suer and SOT member who are working with Karl Ahlgren and the funding from TulsaBizPac, and the endorsement of her husband's employer, the Tulsa World. (Tom Gilbert is the paper's chief photographer.)

A friend who attended the Kiwanis club debate for District 5 candidates had this to say:

Karen Alexander Gilbert demonstrated that not only does she not know the answer to the questions, she simply does not understand the questions. If elected, this inability to grasp complicated aspects of her job would leave her vulnerable to persuasion by people motivated by reasons other than the city's best interest.

Gilbert has been an administrative employee of the Tulsa Public School district for more than 10 years, currently working at the Tulsa Learning Academy as an administrative assistant. At the same time, she's an active leader in the PTA, serving currently as president of the Tulsa Council of PTAs. It seems to me that getting a paycheck from the school district and serving as head of an organization created to provide accountability for the school administration would create a conflict of interest and impair the independence of the PTA as a school district watchdog.

It seems to me that a similar problem is looming should Gilbert win election in the September 13, 2011, Republican primary. (There will be no runoff and, because no Democrats filed, no general election.)

The family that owns the paper that employs Karen Gilbert's husband has long been a major player in local politics, mostly through the pages of their paper, but occasionally in a more direct way. During the year-long, nasty, vengeful, and ultimately unsuccessful effort to recall Councilors Chris Medlock and Jim Mautino, World Publishing Company chairman and CEO, Robert E. Lorton, Jr., gave $2,500 to Build PAC Issues (headed by Josh Fowler, head of the Home Builders Association), which in turn gave the money it raised to Coalition for Responsible Government, the committee backing the recall.

One of the contentious issues leading up to the recall effort, which began in 2004, involved the location of a branch of F&M Bank at 71st and Harvard, on land designated as residential on the comprehensive plan. As recently as the bank holding company's 2001 annual report, Robert E. Lorton, Jr. and his son, Robert E. Lorton III, publisher of the Tulsa World, were listed as being on the board of directors of F&M Bancorporation, with the elder Lorton serving as chairman of both F&M Bank and its holding company at that time.

Political contributions for the 2004 elections from F&M Bancorporation board members correlated strongly with Whirled editorial endorsements and votes in favor of the F&M rezoning -- David Patrick, Tom Baker, Art Justis, Randy Sullivan. (Joe Williams, the fifth vote in favor, didn't seek reelection in 2004.) Opponents of the rezoning and, after the 2004 election, those who voted against approval of a plat inconsistent with the approved zoning, were frequent targets of negative coverage and editorials. (Correlation, it should be noted, does not imply causation.)

Let's suppose Gilbert is elected and an issue comes before the City Council which involves the University of Tulsa. The expansion of TU's campus has been greatly facilitated by a city urban renewal plan that designated once-stable neighborhoods bordering the university as blighted. Land for TU, a private institution, was condemned by the city or acquired under the implicit threat of condemnation. (As an example of the absurdity involved, Metro Diner was bought by the Tulsa Development Authority to make way for a new grand entrance for TU; far from being blighted, the diner, with its spectacular neon sign, was a popular stop for locals and travelers on historic Route 66.)

TU recently attempted to acquire now-closed Wilson Middle School. Had they succeeded, it's conceivable the university would have later sought to expand its foothold south of 11th into Renaissance Neighborhood, just as TU has done to Kendall-Whittier Neighborhood. City Council support and approval for changes to zoning, master plan, and urban renewal plan would be needed to make that happen.

World Publishing Company chairman Robert E. Lorton, Jr. and his wife Roxana Lorton, parents of Tulsa World publisher Robert E. Lorton III, are on TU's Board of Trustees and the university's new performance center is named in their honor.

Going back to the supposition: Gilbert is elected and TU seeks to expand its territory once again with the help of the city's power of eminent domain. Do you suppose she would feel some pressure to give TU what it wants? Gilbert wouldn't be forced by the ethics ordinance to recuse herself in this scenario, because she wouldn't have any personal financial interest in the success of TU's request.

The question boils down to this: Would Karen Gilbert, as a councilor, be willing to buck the paper or its owners, given her husband's job? The newspaper's leverage over most politicians involves swaying voter opinion through news stories and editorials, but for Gilbert, the leverage would be much more direct.

In light of my friend's comment above, would Karen Gilbert even have the intellectual curiousity to look beyond the daily's editorial pages for perspective on the issues facing her as a councilor?

Mautino-20040814.jpgI'm happy to endorse my friend Jim Mautino for re-election as Tulsa City Councilor for District 6.

Jim Mautino isn't a slick politician. He is passionate and persistent when it comes to pursuing policies that will help residents of far east Tulsa and the entire city. Alone among the councilors elected from District 6 since the new charter of 1989, Mautino has pushed to see far east Tulsa's potential reached, while working with other councilors to protect the concerns of taxpayers and homeowners citywide.

District 6 is one of the city's largest districts and may contain (haven't done the math yet) the highest proportion of undeveloped land. Nearly half of the district is a sparsely populated section of Wagoner County, annexed into Tulsa in 2001. West of the county line you find subdivisions built in the '60s and '70s, brand new developments along the southern edge of the district (in the Broken Arrow school district), semi-rural, large-lot developments that were built before the area was annexed in 1966, and entire square miles of open fields.

Too many city leaders, who only skirt the edge of the district on their way to Grand Lake, are content to make this part of town as a dumping ground for ugliness. Jim Mautino sees District 6's section of I-44 as the gateway to Tulsa from the east and northeast, an ideal spot to capture retail dollars from visitors to the city and thus sales tax revenues to fund the level of service Tulsans expect from their city government.

Jim's focus on developing within the city limits has made him a target for those with a vested interest in using city assets to fuel development in our suburbs. His opposition to disadvantageous long-term water deals between Tulsa and growing suburbs was a major factor in the unsuccessful 2005 effort to recall him from office.

I have a litmus test for people who comment on city politics. If all they can talk about is the "terrible bickering" on the City Council, I know that they've absorbed the latest meme -- a meme pushed by those special interests who want all power concentrated in a mayor they can control -- but they haven't really been paying attention. This council has worked well together, with a long list of significant accomplishments while fending off lawsuits and sniping from Bartlett Jr and his allies.

When Jim returned to City Hall in 2009, he set out to be newly elected Mayor Dewey Bartlett Jr's strongest advocate on the City Council. He urged his fellow councilors to give Bartlett Jr the benefit of the doubt for at least six months as he got his new administration going. Despite their good-faith effort to work with the new mayor, Bartlett Jr managed to alienate each councilor, one by one, with broken promises, misleading information, and contemptuous treatment.

Mautino may have been Bartlett Jr's last supporter on the Council. The final straw was Bartlett Jr's response to Mautino's recommendation for a vacancy on the Tulsa Metropolitan Area Planning Commission. Mautino had suggested Al Nichols, a mild-mannered retired Air Force officer and long-time leader of the Mingo Valley Neighborhood Association, as someone who could bring some much-needed geographical and neighborhood balance to the TMAPC. Bartlett Jr seemed very receptive, but a short time later Bartlett Jr told Mautino that Nichols was "toxic," presumably because Nichols was knowledgeable enough about zoning and planning not to be a puppet for the developers' lobby. Instead, Bartlett continued to delay, ultimately nominating former Councilor Eric Gomez, who had very recently been rejected for re-election by his constituents.

Jim Mautino will turn 80 next May, but he is as vigorous and energetic as ever. I am proud to endorse him for re-election. As a taxpayer, I can trust Jim Mautino, a fiscal conservative, to oppose higher taxes and corporate welfare and to support fiscal restraint. As a homeowner, I can trust Jim Mautino, a long-time neighborhood leader, to consider the impact of a zoning or planning decision on homeowners and to be farsighted enough to see the impact of the decision as precedent. As a social conservative, I can trust Jim Mautino to resist liberal efforts to use government's coercive power against traditional moral values.

Jim Mautino has also been endorsed by the Tulsa Area Republican Assembly, the Fraternal Order of Police, and the Tulsa Firefighters.


Jim Mautino 2004 endorsement
Jim Mautino 2006 endorsement
Council accomplishments during Jim Mautino's first term
Jim Mautino 2009 endorsement
UTW story on Jim Mautino's concern for animal welfare
UTW story on the District 5 and District 6 races


Mautino has one opponent in the primary, Byron "Skip" Steele III. (The winner will face Robert Arizona Gwin, Jr., in the general election.)

Steele is a newcomer to politics, runs a computer repair business, and received funding from the Tulsa Metro Chamber's PAC, TulsaBizPac, and the endorsement of the council-suer and SOT member who are working with Karl Ahlgren. It will tell you something about Steele's level of interest in local politics that his website URL is http://steeleforcommissioner.vpweb.com/. (Tulsa's governing body was a board of city commissioners until a major charter rewrite in 1989. The commission was replaced by a City Council in 1990.)

Roemerman_Yard_Sign.jpgWe begin the BatesLine roundup of the 2011 Tulsa City Council primary races with an easy choice. I'm proud to endorse my friend, Steven Roemerman, for District 7 councilor. This endorsement is for both the primary and general election. While the other men running seem to be good folks, Steven Roemerman is the only candidate on the ballot who brings to the table nearly a decade of passionate and principled conservative involvement in local issues.

Shortly after graduating college in 1998, Steven came to Tulsa, his new bride's hometown, and went to work as a computer programmer for Avis/Budget, still his employer 13 years later. Interested in government since college, he began paying close attention to local politics in his adopted hometown, working as a Republican precinct official and volunteering for campaigns.

I've known Steven for at least eight years, and what follows are my personal observations of his character, energy, intelligence, and devotion to public service.

As Steven became more involved in local politics, he started a blog in 2005, Roemerman on Record, commenting on local, state, and national news and items of interest in the world of technology. Often, Steven would provide first-hand coverage of local news events, with photos, videos, summaries and analysis of public meetings, events that mattered to many Tulsans, but which mainstream media seemed to consider too complicated or insignificant to cover.

It's a testament to Steven's intelligence, temperament, and character that, although he had campaigned for fellow Republican Jim Mautino's 2006 reelection, the man who beat Mautino, Democrat Dennis Troyer, appointed Steven to the city's sales tax overview committee (STOC) in 2007. Steven was reappointed to the committee by Republican District 7 Councilor John Eagleton. (Eagleton is not running for re-election.)

Steven Roemerman is a careful student of local issues, applying the same gifts of analysis and problem-solving that he uses every day in his job as a computer programmer. His time on the STOC has made him familiar with the city budget process, capital improvements, Open Meetings and Open Records acts -- the nuts and bolts of the way the City of Tulsa spends and is held accountable for our tax dollars. As an active observer of politics citywide, he's also encountered non-financial issues -- zoning and planning, charter amendments, and neighborhood inspections, to name a few -- and he's gotten to know public officials and neighborhood leaders from every district. Few first-time candidates are as well-prepared as Steven Roemerman to be a great councilor from his first day on the job.

You can see that breadth of understanding on the issues page of his website. A solid fiscal and social conservative, Roemerman believes Tulsans are Taxed Enough Already and will oppose proposals that would raise our combined sales tax rate above its current level. He opposes the use of eminent domain for private gain, and supports a zoning process that is transparent, clear, protecting property owners without over-regulating. Noting the council's role in approving mayoral appointments to authorities, boards, and commissions, Roemerman pledges to "ensure that Tulsans from all districts are represented on these authorities, boards and commissions and to provide independent judgment on all nominees to these important boards and commissions."

As an IT professional and thirty-something, Steven would help to diversify the council in age and life experience.

Steven has three children in Union Public Schools, where his wife Stacey serves as a homeroom mother. The Roemermans are residents of Hampton South neighborhood; Stacey serves on the homeowners' association's board. They are members of Carbondale Assembly of God, where Steven and Stacey volunteer with Kindergarten through 5th Grade boys in the church's Wednesday night program.

Steven Roemerman has been endorsed by the Tulsa Area Republican Assembly and by the FOP. The FOP's endorsement states:

Among Republicans running for District 7, Steven Roemerman has the independence, knowledge of public safety and city budget issues. He is the only candidate for District 7 with first-hand knowledge of City finances because of his service on the City's Sales Tax Oversight Committee. We believe this combination makes Steve the best Republican candidate for City Council, District 7.

I agree wholeheartedly. I'm proud to call him my friend, and I'm proud to endorse Steven Roemerman for Tulsa District 7 City Councilor.


Urban Tulsa Weekly's feature story on the District 7 race

From 2002, my take on the qualities of a good City Councilor, and why the City Council matters


Roemerman has two opponents in the primary: Tom Mansur, a civil engineer with SAIC (formerly the Benham Group), and Elliott Parker Sr., a retired military officer and civil magistrate from Chesapeake, Va. I met them both for the first time at KRMG's Council-rama on Tuesday. Both seem like reasonable, intelligent people, but both only now appear to be paying attention to local issues.

Mansur has, sadly, fallen in with the wrong crowd; Karl Ahlgren is a consultant and Jim East, a staffer for former Democrat Mayor Susan Savage (and a former co-worker of Mansur's at Benham Group), is an adviser to his campaign; he's been endorsed by the council-suer and SOT member who are working with Ahlgren, and he's been endorsed and provided with $2,500 in funding by the Tulsa Metro Chamber. Mansur has an impressive resume in the field of water resources; he might make a good pick for the Tulsa Metropolitan Utility Authority, but he doesn't offer the breadth of knowledge of city issues or the track record of principled involvement that Steven Roemerman brings to the table.

Parker was a career Navy medic who also served as a court-certified mediator in Virginia before moving to Oklahoma in 2006. What brought him to Oklahoma? As a young man (one of 10 children), a childless Oklahoma couple "adopted" him, bringing him to the state for holidays and taking him along on their travels. When he was ready to retire and leave Virginia, he remembered Oklahoma and its people fondly. Parker seems like a sincere and devoted citizen, intelligent and well-spoken with a depth of life experience, but he's a novice when it comes to City of Tulsa issues.

Good men both, but not nearly as ready as Steven Roemerman is to be a great city councilor.

UPDATE: Tom Mansur is not such good guy after all. His campaign has sent out a smear postcard claiming that Roemerman's been endorsed by the AFL-CIO. The only city employee organization to endorse Roemerman is the Fraternal Order of Police. According to the FOP, Mansur also sought their endorsement, but the FOP was concerned by Mansur's choice of campaign consultant, Karl Ahlgren.

UPDATE: As of noon Friday, September 2, 2011, six candidates have accepted the challenge, and one, Steven Roemerman, has already posted his pre-primary C-1 disclosure, which isn't due until Tuesday. (See end of this entry for a list of candidates and links to their campaign finance information.)

Campaign finance disclosure for city and county elections in Oklahoma is governed by the Political Subdivisions Ethics Act (PDF). It requires candidates to report individual contributions in excess of $200, the aggregate of all contributions $200 and less, and expenditures by categories. A report is due to be filed "on or before the tenth day preceding the date of the Primary [or Runoff or General] Election and shall include all contributions accepted and all expenditures made from the date on which the earliest contribution was received or expenditure was made, whichever was earlier, through a period of time ending fifteen (15) days preceding the date of the Primary [or Runoff or General] Election."

Effectively, this has always meant the reports are due to the City Clerk's office at the close of business on the Monday eight days prior to the election, since the office is closed on the tenth day prior, which is a Saturday. The timing makes it all but impossible for a weekly paper to analyze and report on who gave how much to which candidate in time for the last edition before the election.

This year, it's worse than usual because that Monday is Labor Day. We won't see contribution reports until 5 p.m. on September 6, less than a week before the polls open.

The bigger problem for transparency in local elections is that the report need only cover contributions accepted through the Monday 15 days before election day. A questionable contribution coming in 13 days before the election is plenty early to pay for another mailer, robocall, or radio ad.

In fact, this happened in the 2009 Republican primary for Tulsa City Council District 5. Chris Trail, who won a narrow victory over incumbent Bill Martinson, received $36,795 of his $51,500 in funds after the primary filing deadline, $23,600 of which came from business associates of Bill Lobeck (Mr. Kathy Taylor). (Numbers based on pre-primary and post-primary reports.) Had it been public that Lobeck associates from Minnesota, Florida, and Michigan were heavily contributing to Trail (presumably at the direction of Kathy Taylor) it could have swung the election to Martinson. At the very least, the contributions would have been known for the public to evaluate.

During this legislative session, the state legislature amended the Political Subdivisions Ethics Act, but those changes don't kick in until November 1, after the pre-general-election reporting deadline for the November 8 election.

Contributor lists are important pieces of information for voters to consider. They can reveal alliances that the candidate might prefer to conceal. They can point to off-the-record promises to carry out the agenda of a special interest group. Every candidate promises to be open to input from all of his constituents; voters need to know who will have the councilor's ear when it's time to make the decision.


In the interest of transparency and an informed electorate, I'm calling on all 2011 Tulsa City Council candidates to go above and beyond the requirements of the campaign disclosure law.

1. As soon as it's ready, post your C-1 report on your website, including the list of your contributors to date.

2. By Tuesday, September 6 at 5 p.m., post any additional contributions received that weren't accounted for on your C-1 report.

3. Between then and election day, post any additional contributions within 24 hours of receiving them.

If you don't have your own website, or if your website is cumbersome to update, email me at blog AT batesline DOT com, and I will post your updates here on BatesLine.

The law doesn't require disclosure of the names of donors of $200 or less, but it does require disclosing the aggregate amount of contributions of $200 of less; apply that same principle to this challenge, so when you post updates, post the aggregate of small contributions received to that point.

This is a test. Candidates who are willing to do this will demonstrate a willingness to be above board in all their dealings as a councilor. If a candidate is unwilling to be transparent when they're seeking your vote, you can figure that they'll even be more deceptive once they're safely in office.

Readers, please inform any candidates you know of this challenge. Candidates, if you accept this challenge, email me at blog AT batesline DOT com. I'll post your name at the end of this entry, and I'll post links to your contributor information as you make it available.

Candidates who have accepted the BatesLine transparency challenge (in order of response)

Kim Whiteman, District 9, Republican
Steven Roemerman, District 7, Republican
Robert Pinney, District 9, Republican
Sam Roop, District 5, Republican
Blake Ewing, District 4, Republican
Jeannie Cue, District 2, Republican
Maria Barnes, District 4, Democrat
Elliott Parker, District 7, Republican
Jim Mautino, District 6, Republican
Roscoe Turner, District 3, Democrat
Jason Trent, District 1, Democrat
David W. Bell, District 3, Republican
Rocky Frisco, District 4, Republican

Campaign finance reports

Each link leads to that candidate's report.

District 1 Democrat primary:

Jason Trent reports via phone that all his campaign expenditures are from his own funds. 5 p.m, 2011/09/05.

District 3 Democrat primary:

District 3 Republican primary:

Dave Bell: Pre-primary C-1 filing, received 10:05 pm, 2011/09/04

District 6 Republican primary:

Jim Mautino: Pre-primary C-1 filing, posted 4:14 pm, 2011/09/03

District 7 Republican primary:

Steven Roemerman: Pre-primary C-1 filing, with full list of contributors and identifying notes for out-of-area contributors (family and friends), posted 12:09 pm, 2011/09/02.

Elliott Parker writes:

As of September 3, 2011 at 12:28 pm, I have not received any funds from anyone, any agency, nor any other source. My campaign is currently being funded by myself, with christian volunteers. I look forward to future contributions from the citizens of tulsa. Yours in christ, Elliott L.Parker Sr.

District 9 Republican primary:

Robert Pinney: Pre-primary C-1 filing, posted 10:42 pm, 2011/09/02.

Councilrama tonight!

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Meet and greet the candidates for Tulsa City Council at Councilrama, an event sponsored by NewsTalk KRMG, TYPros, Leadership Tulsa, and the League of Women Voters.

The event is tonight, Tuesday, August 30, 2011, 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm, at the IDL Ballroom, 230 E 1st St, downtown (near 1st and Detroit).

Joe Kelley will introduce the candidates and then you will be free to meet with the city council candidates running in your district and find out what their plans are to make your life better in the coming years. You can also register to vote, learn facts about your district, ask questions of the candidates - all while snacking on delicious Abuelo's goodies...and your first beer is free, courtesy of KRMG!

I emailed FOP political consultant Victor Ajlouny and requested a copy of the FOP's press releases on their poll and their endorsements. The eight-page Tulsa FOP poll release featured a question about the impact that an endorsement from the Tulsa Metro Chamber's political action committee (TulsaBizPac) would have on a voter's decision -- would it make a voter inclined to support or oppose a candidate, or have no impact?

No impact

The poll by Strategy Research Institute was of 500 high or moderate propensity Tulsa voters, distributed across the city (at least 50 from each council district). No word on the partisan breakdown. A sample of 500 yields a margin of error of 4.4% at a 95% confidence level.

As a reminder, here are the endorsements and contributions announced a week ago by the Tulsa Metro Chamber's PAC, TulsaBizPac:

Endorsement in both primary/general elections and financial support
Jack Henderson (D), District 1 ($2,500)
David Patrick (D), District 3 ($2,500)
Phil Lakin (R), District 8 ($2,500)
G.T. Bynum (R), District 9 ($2,500)

Endorsement and contribution primary only
Jeannie Cue (R), District 2 ($2,500)
Ken Brune (D), District ($1,000)
Tom Mansur (R), District 7 ($2,500)

Financial support ONLY
Blake Ewing (R), District 4 ($1,000)
Liz Hunt (R), District 4 ($1,000)
Chris Trail (R), District 5 ($2,500)
Karen Gilbert (R), District 5 ($2,500
Byron "Skip" Steele (R), District 6 ($2,500)

The full text of the FOP poll question about the Chamber PAC:

Question 14.0 Similar to what took place earlier this year in Oklahoma City's Chamber of Commerce...the newly created Tulsa Metro Chamber of Commerce, Political Action Committee, has built a HUGE War Chest intended to influence, indeed CONTROL, the outcome of the 2011 election cycle in Tulsa. Part of this effort involves the Chamber's Political Action Committee donating large sums of money to candidates, as well as funding their own campaigns in support of, or opposing, candidates of choice through independent expenditures. Would learning this through a trusted source make you inclined to: Support a candidate who is endorsed by the Tulsa Chamber of Commerce and/or who accepted large amounts of funding from the Chamber's Political Action Committee, or; Oppose a candidate who is endorsed by the Tulsa Chamber of Commerce and/or who accepted large amounts of funding from the Chamber's Political Action Committee, or; Would this knowledge have NO IMPACT on your decision to SUPPORT or OPPOSE?

While this might be considered a "push poll" question, it demonstrates how voters will respond if the issue is framed for them in this way, using an accurate description of what happened earlier this year in the Oklahoma City elections and the apparent similarity of the Tulsa Metro Chamber's involvement in the Tulsa city elections. This is very bad news for the Tulsa Metro Chamber's future as a preferred vendor to the City of Tulsa and for the political future of the candidates their PAC endorsed or funded (an endorsement in all but name).

It's noteworthy that the story in the Tulsa World covering this poll did not report this result. They also omitted the results that showed 62% preferring four year council terms (staggered to every two years) to the current 3, 74% preferring 12-year term limits for all city officials, and 70% giving Mayor Dewey Bartlett Jr mediocre to failing grade. (32% gave him a mediocre C, 23% a D, and 15% an F; 2% refused to answer the question. 6% gave him an A, 22% a B.)

To see all eight poll results that the FOP released to the media, click this link (354 KB PDF file).

The Tulsa Area Republican Assembly held a candidate forum and endorsement meeting, Saturday morning, August 27, 2011. Following speeches and answers to audience questions from the candidates in attendance, TARA members voted to endorse a candidate in five of the eight Tulsa City Council Republican primaries to be held on September 13. A 2/3rds supermajority is required to receive TARA's endorsement, which is also binding on TARA's state and national organizations, the Oklahoma Republican Assembly and the National Federation of Republican Assemblies.

The TARA-endorsed candidates:

City Councilor, Dist. 1 No Primary
City Councilor, Dist. 2 No Endorsement
City Councilor, Dist. 3 David Bell
City Councilor, Dist. 4 No Endorsement
City Councilor, Dist. 5 No Endorsement
City Councilor, Dist. 6 Jim Mautino
City Councilor, Dist. 7 Steven Roemerman
City Councilor, Dist. 8 George Gibbs
City Councilor, Dist. 9 Robert Pinney

TARA is one of several local GOP clubs. TARA's members are grassroots Republicans who are active in local politics. Several elected officials are also members of the group. They support the idea of government staying within its limits. In contrast to Chamber of Commerce types, they tend to oppose crony capitalism and corporate welfare. They operate independently of the local party organization and hold monthly meetings that often feature elected officials or candidates as speakers. TARA is affiliated with the Oklahoma Republican Assembly (OKRA) and the National Federation of Republican Assemblies (NFRA), a group that calls itself the "GOP Wing of the Republican Party."

A blog entry on the TARA website listed the candidates who were slated to speak at Saturday's TARA candidate forum. In addition, District 4 candidate Blake Ewing participated in the forum.

District 2: Judith Adams, Jeannie Cue, Matthew Foster
District 3: Dave Bell
District 4: Blake Ewing, (Rocky Frisco was slated to attend but was not present)
District 5: Sam Roop, Chris Trail
District 6: Jim Mautino
District 7: Steven Roemerman
District 8: George Gibbs
District 9: Robert Pinney, Kim Whiteman

All candidates were invited, and I'd be suspicious of the conservative bona fides of any candidate who declined to meet with the group.

(I understand from someone in attendance that Rocky Frisco missed the meeting, although he was slated to attend. I know from a Facebook post that Frisco had been concerned when he hadn't received an invitation to the TARA meeting and actively sought the opportunity to speak with the group. Frisco received the TARA endorsement in the 2009 Republican City Council primary.)

UPDATE: Despite his omission from the list on the TARA website, District 4 candidate Blake Ewing was at the meeting to answer questions from the members. I've updated the list above and the paragraph lead-in to the list to reflect that.

Released today by the Tulsa FOP Lodge 93:


August 26, 2011
For Immediate Release

For further information
Contact Victor Ajlouny

Tulsa FOP Endorses City Council Candidates
Decisions follow written and oral interviews plus background checks

The Tulsa Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 93 voted to endorse the following candidates for the City Council primary election on September 13.

District 1 - Jack Henderson
District 2 - No Endorsement
District 3 - Roscoe Turner
District 4 - Maria Barnes (Democrat) - Blake Ewing (Republican)
District 5 - Chris Trail
District 6 - James Mautino
District 7 - Steven Roemerman
District 8 - George Gibbs
District 9 - G. T. Bynum

The endorsements were made following a process in which candidates answered an extensive written questionnaire and participated in oral interviews. The Lodge retained an outside firm to do background checks to review civil or criminal histories.

The Lodge took into consideration the candidate's positions on police staffing and other City priorities, their understanding of the City budget, past community service and any potential conflicts they may encounter if elected.

"The members of the FOP are individuals who care very much about Tulsa. A large percentage are residents of the City," said FOP spokesman Victor Ajlouny. "They take their responsibilities very seriously when it comes to their endorsement of candidates who will lead the city where their families live and go to school and/or they spend a large portion of their waking hours protecting and serving the residents of Tulsa."

After the primary election, the FOP will decide which candidates to endorse in the general election.

The Tulsa FOP Lodge 93 represents the over 700 professional police officers employed by the City of Tulsa. For further information, contact Victor Ajlouny, 402-968-0556.


UPDATE 2011/08/25, 1 p.m.: ONG spokesman Don Sherry has posted a comment to this entry, linking to a media kit about the Tulsa ONG franchise election. He points out that there are approximately 1,400 ONG/ONEOK employees working in the Tulsa area.

Tom Quinn, a civic activist and longtime critic of Oklahoma Natural Gas, filed criminal complaints on August 16, 2011, with the Tulsa Police Department and the FBI regarding the recent City of Tulsa special election granting ONG a franchise to use city rights-of-way for the next 15-years.

Quinn notes at the end of his press release that there are more ONEOK/ONG employees than the number of votes in the election. The implication is that it's possible to arrange a low-turnout election in which the majority of voters have a financial interest in the outcome. ONG reimbursed the City of Tulsa for the cost of having a special election solely for the purpose of considering the franchise renewal.

Here's Quinn's press release:

CONTACT: Tom Quinn - 918-605-9456 - MafiaBusters@gmail.com
REGARDING: Election Fraud - August 9th Vote on ONG's Franchise Agreement


Tulsa businessman Tom Quinn has filed racketeering and election fraud charges against Oklahoma Natural Gas Company, parent company ONEOK, Mayor Dewey Bartlett and all nine Members of Tulsa's City Council. Quinn accuses ONG, ONEOK and the City of Tulsa of conspiring to defraud ratepayers by holding a special election on August 9th where only those who were likely to vote YES were informed about the process. Quinn says the vote on ONG's New Franchise Agreement was the most blatant example of racketeering and election fraud he has ever seen, and that all those responsible for this despicable act should be fined, fired, removed from office and sent to prison. ONG has an abysmal approval rating among consumers and no one in their right mind would have voted for this Franchise Agreement had they known about the election. The results of the August 9th Special Election should be thrown out and public hearings should be held so voters can make an informed decision regarding this important issue. ONEOK, the parent company of ONG, should also be investigated for bribery, price fixing, market-manipulation, off-shore banking violations, selling assets that were paid for by ratepayers and charging for gas storage and other items and services that were not used but ended up being charged to consumers. A copy of this news release has been sent to the FBI, the Tulsa Police Department, the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, the City of Tulsa and several media outlets.

Questions that deserve an answer:

  • Who wrote the new ONG Franchise Agreement?

  • Was Mayor Dewey Bartlett or any of his staff involved?

  • How many City Councilors were involved in the process?

  • Was the new Franchise Agreement ever discussed during an open meeting?

  • When did the City Council vote to approve this new agreement?

  • When did the City Council approve and schedule the August 9th Special Election?

  • Why did the City Council call for and approve a Special Election on August 9th when Tulsa's General Election had already been scheduled for September 13, 2011?

  • Who paid for this special election and was the cost passed on to taxpayers and or ratepayers?

  • How many registered voters live in the City of Tulsa?

  • How many votes were cast in the August 9th Special Election?

  • How many employees work for ONG and ONEOK?

  • How many ONG and ONEOK employees voted in this Special Election?

  • Were ONG and ONEOK Employees informed of this Special Election?

  • Were any news releases issued or press conferences held before the August 9th Vote?

  • Did ONG, ONEOK or the City of Tulsa post any information regarding the election on their website?

  • Were Tulsa voters deliberately kept in the dark about this important election?

  • Did the so-called mainstream media ignore news releases or play any role in this cover up?

Election Results:

Number of Precincts Reporting: 215
Number of Precincts Counted: 215
Total Number of Registered Voters: 212,266
Total Number of Votes Cast: 3,425
Total Number of ONG / ONEOK Employees: 4,077
Total Number of Votes For: 2,546
Total Number of Votes Against: 864
Under Votes: 15
Percentage of Registered Voters Who Voted: 1.61%
Number of ONEOK / ONG Employees as of September 2010: 4077
Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ONEOK

TulsaBizPac, the political action committee formed by Tulsa Metro Chamber, a city contractor, to influence the selection of the public officials who will decide whether those contracts will continue, has announced an odd assortment of full endorsements, partial endorsements, and non-endorsements that nevertheless come with a tidy sum of cash.

Strangely, TulsaBizPac hasn't made these endorsements and all-but-endorsements available on a website accessible to the general public. Although the Chamber announced in a June 27, 2011, website story that TulsaBizPac was accepting contributions, they haven't used that venue as yet to declare their endorsements and contributions to the public. None of the local TV stations appear to have the story, nor do the news/talk radio stations. My own requests for information about TulsaBizPac endorsements have gone unanswered.

So the Chamber's PAC must not be very proud of their endorsements, as it appears they only released the info to one friendly news outlet.

Candidates that were willing to participate were quizzed by Chamber leaders about their views on the Tulsa Metro Chamber's 2011 Issues Platform. Given the number of controversial statements therein, anyone accepting the Chamber's endorsement or contribution (which is tantamount to an endorsement), has some explaining to do, to set out clearly where he or she agrees and disagrees with the Chamber's positions on the issues

And one such candidate has explained himself. Blake Ewing, one of the candidates for the District 4 Republican nomination, and one of two (along with Liz Hunt), who will receive a $1,000 contribution, has set out on his blog, in great detail, his interaction with the Chamber and with Karl Ahlgren, in their evidently separate election efforts, and point-by-point, how he responded to questions about the Chamber's Issues Platform. There's a lot to digest, but I appreciate his candor. He goes into great detail about Ahlgren's recruiting efforts and the apparently associated group trying to solicit contributions to a slate of candidates, and the Chamber interview process. (I was intrigued to read that Liz Hunt, prior to deciding to run for City Council, offered to help direct resources to Ewing's campaign.)

Ewing has decided to accept the Chamber's contribution but to donate it to charity, rather than use it for his campaign, and is asking blog readers to suggest, in the comments to his entry, which non-profit should receive the Chamber's money.

I heard an interesting rumor on Saturday from two different sources about City Council endorsements by TulsaBizPac, the Tulsa Metro Chamber-affiliated political action committee, so I sent an email to Shiela Curley, Vice President of Communications for the Tulsa Metro Chamber. Here's the text of the email:

Dear Ms. Curley,

I'm hearing reports that TulsaBizPac has made its endorsements. I'm writing to ask if you can confirm or deny each of the following assertions:

1. TulsaBizPac has endorsed three candidates
2. TulsaBizPac will give each endorsed candidate's campaign $2,500.
3. Endorsed candidates have been instructed not to disclose the endorsement until after the primary.
4. TulsaBizPac has endorsed Jack Henderson in District 1.
5. TulsaBizPac has endorsed Chris Trail in District 5.
6. TulsaBizPac has endorsed G. T. Bynum in District 9.
7. TulsaBizPac has made no endorsements in the other races

Thanks for your time,

Michael Bates

I'll let you know what she says.

There's one further piece to the rumor: That no endorsements have been made in some of the other races because they're "too close to call" based on polling data.

This is fascinating, if true. After all the talk about the "bickering" City Council, the only three rumored endorsees are sitting councilors.

I'm surprised not to see ANY of Karl Ahlgren's candidates -- Nancy Rothman, Liz Hunt, Karen Gilbert, or Phil Lakin -- on the rumored list.

And why would an organization want to keep its endorsements secret? In such a situation, it would suggest that the organization is aware of its lack of respect in the community, that the organization is not seen as a trusted civic voice, but just another special interest group, just another city vendor with its hand out for city dollars.

If you thought your endorsement would be well regarded, you'd jump right into a too-close-to-call race, in hopes that the endorsement would push your candidate over the finish line. But if you thought your endorsement would cause more harm than good, you'd quietly slip them the money just after the deadline for pre-primary reporting, and you'd pick candidates who were likely to win any way, in hopes of earning their gratitude and loyalty with your contribution.

Finally, wouldn't you want to give the maximum contribution of $5,000? And if you didn't, does that indicate that you just weren't able to raise the money you expected to raise?

I look forward to hearing a response from Ms. Curley, and I'll pass it along when I do.

Oklahoma Natural Gas is granted a franchise by the City of Tulsa to run its lines through the city's easements and rights-of-way. That franchise was last renewed in 1986 for a 25-year-term. The franchise renewal is on the ballot for a special election today, August 9, 2011. The proposed renewal period is for 15 years.

Today is also the first Tulsa County election under the new voter ID requirement approved by Oklahoma voters last November, so bring your drivers' license.

Here is the ballot text:


There is no mention of today's election on the home page of either cityoftulsa.org or tulsacouncil.org. The city elections page at cityoftulsa.org refers only to September's municipal primary and November's general. The proposed ordinance (No. 22415) doesn't show up in the list of ordinances passed since the ordinances were last codified, but that list does include ordinances higher in sequence number, as recent as June 23, 2011. No info about the election can be found on oklahomanaturalgas.com.

The TulsaCouncil.org website still lacks a keyword or free-text search option for its database of agendas. By searching one regular meeting agenda at a time, I was able to find the ordinance calling today's election, but not ordinance 22415, the legislation that the voters will approve or reject today.

I would like to tell you in detail about the pros and cons of this proposition, or even how the proposed franchise agreement differs from the current agreement, but I can't find those details where they should be, on a city government website. It's as if they want us to vote without knowing what we're voting on. Therefore I'm voting NO.


Tom Quinn's ONGsucks.com, once advertised on a billboard on US 75 north of downtown, has been offline for a while, but here's the Wayback Machine's capture of Quinn's 2002 appeal to terminate ONG's franchise.

Tom Quinn's February 4, 2010, jeremiad against ONG


In the early part of 2010, a SNAFU involving ONG's transition to a new online bill pay system nearly got our gas cut off. Although I had had automatic bill pay in place via choicepay.com for several years, suddenly nothing was getting paid. ONG would run a computer tape once a month of what everyone owed, and send it to choicepay. Apparently the tape was being run after my previous bill was paid but before ONG charged the next month's bill to my account. At that moment in time, I had a zero balance, so the automated payment plan took $0 out of my account, which meant my bill wasn't getting paid.

I assumed choicepay's system was broken, and when I went to ONG's website, I found that ONG had a new auto bill pay system, hosted on their own website, so I signed up for it, again assuming choicepay had been discontinued. The next month, I was double-billed -- choicepay's system started working again, and ONG's auto pay kicked in. Highest gas bill of the year, and they hit my checking account twice. It took another two months to straighten everything out between choicepay and ONG.

I'd like to tell you that ONG was helpful and efficient in solving the problem, but in fact they were clueless and slow. I went through six months of lengthy phone calls to both companies and several erroneous cutoff notices, all because I assumed automatic bill pay would automatically pay my bill.

UPDATE, 11 p.m.:

The ONG franchise renewal was approved by a three-to-one margin: 2,546 for and 864 against. 3,410 votes cast.

I finally found the ONG franchise ordinance itself attached as "backup documentation" to an item further down the May 19, 2011, agenda on the council website. But I was only able to find it once a reader sent me a copy he got from the City Clerk, with the date of approval on it -- there's no text or keyword search available, as there once was.

According to this budget document, opening all the polls in the City of Tulsa today cost $220,000, with the cost paid for by ONG (ultimately, no doubt, passed along to the ratepayers). Couldn't they have waited until the November general election?

After the jump, snapshots of city websites showing the absence of information about today's franchise election. (Clicking on thumbnails opens a pop-up with the full-sized image.)

Perhaps public notice laws should be changed to make this failure to post election information online cause for invalidating the election.

We're beginning to see components of Tulsa's establishment coalesce around certain candidates for City Council, the candidates they believe will best represent the establishment's interests at City Hall.

Burt Holmes and Ben Latham have selected a partial slate of candidates, according to an email from Latham soliciting contributions for their slate.

Holmes was a director of Great Plains Airlines, a Tulsa-based airline that failed at great cost to taxpayers in Tulsa (property taxpayers had to pay a $7 million debt that we didn't owe, a loan that Great Plains had defaulted on, despite earlier assurances that taxpayers would not be on the hook) and Oklahoma (transferable tax credits were used to fund the airline; the money for the credits came from the state coffers).

Holmes, a maximum donor to Barack Obama's primary and general election campaigns, was also a plaintiff, along with Nancy Rothman, in a lawsuit against all members of the current City Council for alleged violations of the Open Meeting Act, a lawsuit that was later dismissed, but not until each councilor had to hire his or her own attorney to defend the suit.

Ben Latham is head of GBR Properties and is listed as a committee member of Save Our Tulsa, the group that wants to return our city to the "good ol' days" when a small number of the well-heeled and well-connected made decisions for Tulsa without the bothersome and distracting input of the nearly 400,000 other citizens.

Given the backgrounds of the men who picked these six candidates -- David Patrick, Liz Hunt, Ken Brune, Karen Gilbert, Tom Mansur, and Phil Lakin -- it seems reasonable to suppose that these candidates may support massive taxpayer subsidies for crazy business schemes, suing city councilors, and SOT's anti-democracy "reforms" that would dilute geographical and minority representation and put Tulsa at risk for a Voting Rights Act lawsuit. If that's not the case, each candidate should speak up and publicly repudiate the Holmes/Latham endorsement.

Holmes and Latham's list of approved candidates is not too surprising. It includes three of the four publicly acknowledged clients of Karl Ahlgren (Hunt, Gilbert, and Lakin). It is somewhat surprising that Nancy Rothman, Holmes's fellow plaintiff and another Ahlgren client, is not on the list -- at least not yet. David Patrick is a long-time rubber stamp for the Cockroach Caucus. Ken Brune was attorney for Coalition for Responsible Government 2004, the group behind the unsuccessful attempt to recall Councilors Jim Mautino and Chris Medlock.

There's a disparaging mention of the "Gang of Five." Given Holmes's involvement in Great Plains Airlines, that's not surprising. Reformers on the City Council led the effort to investigate the Great Plains scheme and identify those responsible, and they resisted Bill LaFortune's 2005 effort to make the city's taxpayers cover the bad debt.

Latham says the "current city council is basically unchanged from the 'Gang of Five' that eisted when Bill LaFortune was mayor." But the Council has had quite a bit of turnover since 2006 when Bill LaFortune was voted out of office. Only three members (Henderson, Turner, Mautino) of the "Gang of Five" are still on the council, and two of them (Turner, Mautino) lost an election before successfully regaining their seats. Bill Christiansen, who was usually in opposition to the "gang's" initiatives, is the only other councilor still in office who was in office prior to the 2006 election, and he's not running for re-election. So Latham's diagnosis of the causes of City Hall disharmony and his proposed solution are ill-founded.

With all nine councilors -- representing a diverse range of personality types -- at odds with the current mayor, the heart of the problem is obvious, but it seems to have escaped Messrs. Holmes and Latham.

Here is Latham's email.

As you may know, I have been an advocate of electing an entirely new City Council with citizens who want to make a positive difference. The current city council is basically unchanged from the "Gang of Five" that existed when Bill LaFortune was mayor. They have demonstrated they cannot get along with any mayor, male or female, Democrat or Republican. It is time for them to all be voted out.

So far, Burt Holmes and I have met with most of the announced candidates. It doesn't matter what political party, gender, ethnic group, etc. that a person belongs to as long as he/she makes good decisions for our city as a whole. After interviewing the candidates we have selected the best person in each district and have 6 to recommend that we all back. Thus far, all six of these are running their campaigns in a manner we like. They all need financing, so your help is important in making a positive change to our city.

Our six so far are:

District 1: We will have no recommendation.

District 2: We are still evaluating the candidates and will have a recommendation shortly. Incumbent Rick Westcott is not running.

District 3: David Patrick (D); running against incumbent Roscoe Turner.

District 4: Liz Hunt (R) and Ken Brune (D); incumbent is Maria Barnes. Liz will be running against Blake Ewing and Ken against Maria Barnes in the primary.

District 5: Karen Gilbert (R); running against incumbent Chris Trail.

District 6: Incumbent is Jim Mautino. Anybody would be better, but we have no recommendation yet. It will be forthcoming.

District 7: Tom Mansur (R); incumbent John Eagleton is not running.

District 8: Phil Lakin (R); incumbent Bill Christiansen is not running.

District 9: We do not have a recommendation in this race, yet.

The main thrust of this effort is to find community leaders who want to get more engaged; the idea being we will all support a slate of candidates with contributions to ALL the supported candidates. We must go outside of our own districts this time, if we want to make a difference. We recommend you support the candidates directly, and not go through a PAC. This is financially more efficient, and you will be certain who you are supporting and get credit for your contribution.

At this time, I would like everyone to consider making the same contribution to all six of these candidates. Please consider $200 or more to each of these six. I am sure the candidates will appreciate whatever contribution you make. Also attached is a generic contribution form (required) that you can use to send in your contributions. I will keep you informed on the needs of the candidates.

[List of candidate addresses deleted.]

I also request you forward this email to your own mailing list. Let's make a difference! Thank you in advance for your participation.

UPDATE: An August 16 email from Latham adds a candidate to the list of endorsements:


Goods gets good. Nothing gets nothing.

If you are unhappy with the city council and want a change, you must help now. We have recruited, interviewed, and vetted excellent candidates, listed below. The candidates need your contribution NOW for the September 13 primaries. By September 1 it will be too late for them to acquire signs and other campaign materials. NOW IS THE TIME TO ACT.

We all care about Tulsa. This election may be our last chance to change the council to progressive collaborators who can move us forward, faster. The primaries on September 13 will decide the general election because there will be no serious opposition in the November general election except for districts 4 and 5. To be successful, we must support the candidates now, so they can win their primaries. As business people, we all have a vested interest in this.

Hunt, Gilbert, Steele and Mansur are the most in need of money. They, and the others, are running good campaigns, including knocking on doors in 100 degree heat.

We know you care about Tulsa, so send your contributions this week so the seven endorsed candidates can make a strong finish to the September 13 election. Ideally, we all send the same contribution to each of the seven. It's up to you to decide how much and to whom. Please consider $200 or more to each of them. I know all of them will appreciate whatever contribution you make.

Our seven endorsements:

District 1: We will have no recommendation.

District 2: We will not have an endorsement in the primary.

District 3: David Patrick (D); running against incumbent Roscoe Turner.

District 4 Ken Brune (D) and Liz Hunt (R); incumbent is Maria Barnes. Liz will be running against Blake Ewing and Ken against Maria Barnes in the primary.

District 5: Karen Gilbert (R); running against incumbent Chris Trail.

District 6: Byron Steele (R); running against incumbent is Jim Mautino.

District 7: Tom Mansur (R); incumbent John Eagleton is not running.

District 8: Phil Lakin (R); incumbent Bill Christiansen is not running.

District 9: We will not oppose the incumbent in this race.

Below is a generic contribution form that you can use to send in your contributions. Addresses to send your contributions to:

[List of addresses redacted.]

We also request you forward this email to your own mailing list. Let's make a difference! Thank you in advance for your immediate participation.

Good Gets Good!

This email had been forwarded with support from Daryl Woodard, Mayor Dewey Bartlett Jr's appointee to the city's redistricting commission. It's beginning to look like the redistricting commission's radical redrawing of the lines (the adopted plan shifted over 20% of the city's precincts into new districts) is working hand in glove with the Latham/Holmes/Ahlgren effort to replace the council with Bartlett Jr rubber-stamps.

Note too that their effort to find candidates in District 2 and District 9 failed. Ahlgren approached District 9 candidate Robert Pinney, offering support for his campaign, and sought to have him meet with Latham, but Pinney, an independent-minded neighborhood leader and well aware of Ahlgren's reputation and connections, rejected his overtures. This seems to explain the change from "We do not have a recommendation in this race, yet," to "We will not oppose the incumbent in this race." Was this group aiming to knock off a potential rival to Bartlett Jr's 2013 re-election bid? (District 2's rubric changed from "We are still evaluating the candidates and will have a recommendation shortly," to "We will not have an endorsement in the primary.")

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

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

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

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

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

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

tgg_9655_110x165.jpgOn July 17, 2011, the Tulsa World ran a story on the 2003 appeals court ruling that levied attorney's fees on Tulsa City Council District 2 candidate Nancy Rothman because of her contemptible attempts to alienate her sons from their father and to smear her ex-husband's reputation.

(The story ran four days after the BatesLine story on the district and appeals court determinations that Nancy Rothman had plotted to have child pornography planted on her ex-husband in order to eliminate his visitation rights entirely.)

The World story reported Rothman's comments about her financial problems:

She also told the World that the handful of financial issues that she has had - including her 2006 bankruptcy, the 2005 foreclosure on her home and a 2001 tax lien that was later released - were related to her divorce.

BatesLine research into District Court records, Bankruptcy Court filings, and County Clerk records involving the home Nancy Rothman lost in foreclosure reveal large amounts of credit card debt and an ever-increasing amount borrowed against the growing value of the home she won in the divorce.

In an October 26, 2001, hearing to determine whether Nancy Rothman would be required to pay attorney fees to her ex-husband, John Rothman, for the contempt and custody trial involving her involvement in a plot to plant child pornography on her husband, John Rothman's attorney Russell Carson quantified the divorce award to Nancy Rothman:

Now, Your Honor, the September 10th, 1999 decree awarded Mrs. Rothman approximately $1.2 million in both real and physical assets. The Vanguard account was in excess of 400,000. The home, according to Mrs. Rothman's own appraisal, was 650,000. The furnishings approximately 60,000. She's got an alimony judgment of $227,000. That's $1,387,000. She has the means and the ability to pay a judgment for attorney fees in a case where every dime of attorney fees incurred on behalf of my client were incurred because of her conduct and no other.

In her June 13, 2006, bankruptcy filing, downloaded today from the uscourts.gov website, Nancy Rothman listed assets of $918,375 (including the home she won in the divorce, valued at $900,000) and liabilities of $1,030,932.35 including

  • $850,000.00 first mortgage,
  • $40,000.00 second mortgage,
  • $35,904.46 in judicial liens,
  • $80,967.66 owed on seven credit cards,
  • $10,080.00 owed in child support,
  • $10,083.14 owed to the IRS from 2000.

In a mere seven years, including nearly five years living on her own without custody of her children, these records suggest that Nancy Rothman went from at least $1,259,850 in the black to $112,557.35 in the red, a drop of over $1.3 million. (In that $1,259,850 figure, the $127,150 mortgage filed in August 1998 has been deducted from the appraised value quoted by Carson above.)

Online county clerk records point to repeated refinancing of the home for ever-larger mortgages.

The 5,423 sq. ft. home on the northwest corner of 27th St. and Zunis Ave. was purchased by John and Nancy Rothman on November 17, 1995, for $530,000 and mortgaged for 80% of its value. The mortgage release was filed on February 25, 1998, apparently leaving the house free and clear at that point.

On March 20, 1998, the deed was transferred to a trust, listed as Nancy Troub Rothman, Trustee, and John D Rothman, Trustee. On August 21, 1998, the house was mortgaged to Harry Mtg Co for $127,150. John Rothman filed for divorce on October 19, 1998.

The divorce was final and a quit claim deed filed on September 10, 1999, leaving Nancy Rothman's trust as the sole owner. At this point, county clerk records appear to indicate that the 1998 $127,150 mortgage was the only secured debt against the property.

In the subsequent five years, another eight mortgages were filed against the property:

  • December 12, 2000: Wells Fargo Fin Okla Inc, $53.827.47
  • September 27, 2001: Popular Fin Services LLC, $350,000.00, followed on October 8, 2001, by a release of the Wells Fargo mortgage.
  • March 19, 2002: Federal Bankcentre, $250,475.09, followed by the June 13, 2002: Release of the 1998 mortgage.
  • March 31, 2003: Indymac Bk, $637,500.00, followed on April 21 and 28 by releases of the 2001 and 2002 mortgages.
  • October 29, 2003: Long Beach Mtg Co., $712,000.00.
  • November 13, 2003: Cit Groupp Consumer Finance Inc, $46,500.00, followed on November 24, 2003 by release of the 2003 Indymac mortgage.
  • June 29, 2004: MERS Inc, two mortgages totaling $841,500.00, followed on September 1 and 27, 2004 by releases of the two fall 2003 mortgages.

Taking into consideration the delay involved in releasing a mortgage following a refinance, the total mortgaged amount appears in County Clerk records to have jumped in six distinct leaps, the largest being nearly $400,000:

  • September 10, 1999: $127,150.00
  • December 12, 2000: $180,977.47
  • October 8, 2001: $477,150.00
  • June 13, 2002: $600,475.09
  • April 28, 2003: $637,500.00
  • November 24, 2003: $758,500.00
  • September 27, 2004: $841,500.00

The divorce decree ordered John Rothman to pay Nancy Rothman alimony of $6,500 per month for 35 months, for a total of $227,500, child support of $2,250 per month until the children reached the age of 18 and graduated from high school, private school tuition and books for the two children of up to $15,000 per year, and all medical and dental insurance and expenses for the children.

Two obligations were imposed by the court on Nancy Rothman following the 2001 decision that found her guilty of contempt of court and gave her ex-husband custody of the children: $140 per month child support and $70,376 in attorney's fees and costs. At the time that the court awarded attorney's fees (December 7, 2001), the court found that Nancy Rothman had a gross monthly income of $8,500.

I watched the entirety of the agenda item on Tulsa City Councilor Jim Mautino's proposed revision to the animal control ordinance, from the Tuesday, July 19, 2011, Public Works Committee meeting. I'm guessing that's more than the editorial board of the daily paper or their caricaturist bothered to do before portraying Mautino as a baby throwing a "hissy fit."

Here's the video of the committee meeting on the TGOVonline website. It's also embedded below, (after the jump if you're reading this on the home page).

The entire discussion lasted 50 minutes. Of that 50 minutes, there's about 30 seconds where Mautino raises his voice, and that came after mayoral aide Dwain Midget raised his voice, three times interrupting Mautino when Mautino had the floor. Twice Councilor Roscoe Turner gavelled down Midget's interruptions, the second time saying, "Mr Midget, I'm asking you one more time; I don't intend to ask again." After Midget's third interruption, Turner told someone in the room to "call Security."

The discussion went on peacefully and productively for another 30 minutes, at which point a meeting of all concerned parties was set for Friday. That aspect of the meeting didn't get much attention.

You'd think that Midget, whose outbursts interrupted the councilor who had the floor, ought to have been the subject of the editorial and cartoon, but it seems our entrenched city bureaucrats can do no wrong in the eyes of the daily paper, particularly when they can turn the story to further the inaccurate "bickering council" meme.

Since his return to the City Council in 2009, Mautino has been pursuing a revision to Tulsa's animal control ordinance, so that outrageously abusive situations can be effectively dealt with by city animal control officials and the city prosecutor. Mautino has met repeatedly with city officials involved in monitoring, licensing, and prosecuting cases of animal abuse.

After a year and a half of talk, Mautino is pushing forward with a revised ordinance that distinguishes between licenses for hobbyists and for rescuers and which requires someone seeking a license to engage the support of neighbors. The intent is to make the ordinance somewhat self-enforcing, important because of the city animal welfare department's inability (or perhaps unwillingness) to enforce the current ordinance.

In Tulsa, you can have up to three dogs and up to five total cats and dogs without any special exemption. To have more, you must have a hobbyist exemption from the city. You must also have a hobbyist exemption if you don't wish to spay or neuter your pets -- for example, if you show your dogs and are required to keep them intact for that purpose.

What I've heard is that the terms of the exemption are practically unenforceable, particularly in this time of budget shortfalls.

In addition, it's my understanding that animal control calls must now go through 911, rather than to a separate animal control dispatch number, and because of that, Tulsa police must respond first to any animal control issues, even though the police department is not equipped to deal with animal control incidents. The result is an added burden on an already overloaded 911 system and police department.

Jim Mautino's eastside District 6 is more vulnerable to animal control issues than many parts of town. Large undeveloped areas provide habitat for feral dogs and cats and are tempting spots for irresponsible owners to dump unwanted pets. The east side is home to many newcomers to Tulsa, who come from places, like rural Oklahoma or foreign lands, where animal control laws are non-existent or unenforced.

But rather than help find a solution to meet the concerns of Mautino's constituents, the city bureaucrats responsible for animal control are working to undermine his efforts. Mautino read from emails, obtained via an Open Records Act request, from Jean Letcher, manager of the city's animal welfare department, rallying citizens against Mautino's efforts.

Instead of berating Mautino, Mayor Bartlett Jr should have been calling some of his own employees on the carpet for their uncooperative attitude.

What I saw in that Tuesday meeting fit a pattern that I've seen often during 20 years of involvement in local politics. A city bureaucrat looks at the certificates on the wall and his years of service and assumes he is the authority not merely about how things are done but the authority on what ought to be done.

So a new city councilor or a new member of an authority, board, or commission comes into office with a concern that isn't being effectively addressed by city government. The first answer from the bureaucracy is rarely, "Gee, why didn't we think of that?" It's almost always, "Nothing can be done," or, "We've never done it that way." And that answer is supposed to be the end of it.

If the councilor (or commissioner) persists, the bureaucracy attempts to re-educate the councilor, in the most condescending manner possible, to understand that his ideas are impossible to implement. Rather than saying, "Let's see how we can meet your concerns," the bureaucracy delivers the message, "Your concerns are ignorant and illegitimate."

What happens next depends on how the councilor deals with the initial rebuff. Some simply back off and tackle another issue. Some, like Tom Tuttle from Tacoma, become fully assimilated to the point where they'll defend the status quo and attack any other councilor who challenges it.

Then you have the councilors who do their own research, who dig into ordinances and budgets and case law and what other cities are doing, and they persist in asking "why not?" and presenting alternatives. From a bureaucrat's point of view, such a councilor is a pain in the posterior, a threat to their comfortable, stable existence, and must be taken down. If you can use your lack of cooperation to provoke the councilor, passive-aggressively, to the point of expressing his irritation, you win.

Since this sort of inquisitive, pro-active councilor also poses a threat to other entrenched interests, the aggrieved bureaucrat can usually find a helping hand from the various organs of the Cockroach Caucus, who miss the days when all one had to do was pull on their strings to get the councilors to do their bidding. The obligatory unflattering photo, misleading headline, twisted caricature, and tut-tutting editorial follow in due course.

It's a misunderstanding of the nature of bureaucracy to think that bureaucrats will be supportive and encouraging of a councilor's ideas for new ways to solve a problem, if only the councilor will be polite and patient. (People seeking public office really should read Jim Boren's books first.) It's not that bureaucrats are bad people, but it's a profession that tends to attract the risk-averse. You don't climb in a bureaucracy by taking risks. The exceptions to the rule are there, and they're real treasures because they're rare. Too often, bureaucrats will try to wait the councilor out -- keep holding meetings, keep delaying a final plan, until the councilor gets interested in another project or gets voted out of office.

It's a pretty good indication that a city councilor is doing what he ought to be doing if he's getting shot at by the bureaucracy and the daily paper. Jim Mautino is a good councilor, and if District 6 voters want an advocate for their interests who won't be deterred by bureaucratic foot-dragging, they'll return Jim Mautino to office this fall.

The filing period ended at 5 p.m. today. The Tulsa County Election Board has the official list of Tulsa municipal candidates on its website, but here's a list for handy reference. I've added (MON), (TUE), or (WED) to indicate the day on which each candidate filed.

CITY AUDITOR-2 (Two) Year Term

Floyd Clift Richards, 7834 S. College Pl., Tulsa, OK, 74136, 02/07/1940 (incumbent)

CITY COUNCILOR OFFICE NO. 1 -- 1 (One) Year Term

Jack Ross Henderson, 2014 N. Rosedale Ave., Tulsa, OK 74101, 04/22/1950 (MON) (incumbent)
Twan T. Jones, 628 N. 26th West Ave., Tulsa, OK 74127, 04/21/1971 (TUE)
Jason V. Trent II, 4956 N. Frankfort Pl., Tulsa, OK 74126, 01/28/1966 (WED)

CITY COUNCILOR OFFICE NO. 2 -- 2 (Two) Year Term

Nancy Lynne Rothman, 2812 E. 81st Pl., Tulsa, OK 74137, 08/29/1957 (MON)
Matthew Foster, 1739 W. 83rd St., Tulsa, OK 74132, 12/06/1986 (MON)
Judith Adams, 7357 S. Trenton Ave., Tulsa, OK 74136, 11/22/1946 (WED)
Jeannie Cue, 5313 S. 32nd Pl. W., Tulsa, OK, 74107, 01/22/1954 (WED)

Phillip Edward Oyler, 7740 Riverside Parkway, Apt 107G, Tulsa, OK 74136, 01/29/1987 (WED)

CITY COUNCILOR OFFICE NO. 3 -- 3 (Three) Year Term

David W. Bell, 1312 N. Canton Ave., Tulsa, OK 74115, 05/24/1945 (WED)
Randall Lee Reese, 3803 E. King Pl., Tulsa, OK 74115, 10/06/1957 (WED)

Roscoe H. Turner, 3415 E. Haskell St., Tulsa, OK 74115, 02/16/1932 (MON) (incumbent)
David Edward Patrick, 5712 E. Tecumseh St., Tulsa, OK 74115, 04/22/1951 (MON)(former incumbent)

CITY COUNCILOR OFFICE NO. 4 -- 1 (One) Year Term

Rocky Frisco, 1332 S. Florence Pl., Tulsa, OK 74104, 07/26/1937 (MON)
Liz Hunt, 1144 S. Newport Ave., Tulsa, OK 74120, 07/28/1971 (TUE)
Blake Ewing, 523 S. Marion Ave, Tulsa, OK 74112, 11/25/1978 (WED)

Maria Veliz Barnes, 1319 S. Terrace Dr, Tulsa, OK 74104, 07/28/1960 (MON)(incumbent)
Kenneth L. Brune, 9 E 4th St, Suite 900, Tulsa, OK 74103, 08/23/1945 (MON)

CITY COUNCILOR OFFICE NO. 5 -- 2 (Two) Year Term

Christopher Eric Trail, 4872 S. 70th East Ave., Tulsa, OK 74145, 01/29/1970 (MON)(incumbent)
Sam Roop, 1869 S 106th East Ave., Tulsa, OK 74128, 02/02/1951 (MON) (former incumbent)
Karen Gilbert, 4611 S. Maplewood Ave., Tulsa, OK 74135, 08/09/1968 (TUE)

CITY COUNCILOR OFFICE NO. 6 -- 3 (Three) Year Term

James Savino Mautino, 14628 E. 12th St., Tulsa, OK 74108, 05/11/1932 (MON)(incumbent)
Byron William Steele III, 13380 E. 33rd St., Tulsa, OK 74134, 10/16/1949 (TUE)

Robert Arizona Gwin, Jr., 3113 S. 130th East Pl., Tulsa, OK 74134, 06/18/1973 (MON)


Steven H. Roemerman, 7406 S. 109th East Ave., Tulsa, OK 74133, 06/29/1976 (MON)
Thomas D. Mansur, 10927 E. 76th St., Tulsa, OK 74133, 10/15/1946 (MON)
Elliott Leroy Parker, Sr., 3406 S. 94th East Ave., Tulsa, OK 74145, 09/30/1953 (WED)

Bobby Lawton Bookout, Jr., 4925 S. 94th East Pl., Tulsa, OK 74145, 08/09/1965 (WED)
Michael Alan Rainwater, 8520 E. 47th Pl., Tulsa, OK 74145, 09/06/1949 (WED)

CITY COUNCILOR OFFICE NO. 8 -- 2 (Two) Year Term

Phillip Lawrence Lakin, Jr., 4915 E 104th Pl., Tulsa, OK 74137 08/05/1967 (MON)
George Gibbs, 9143 S. Canton Ave., Tulsa, OK 74137 03/02/1954 (WED)

William P. Suliburk, 6438 S. Pittsburg Ave., Tulsa, OK 74136, 09/20/1947 (WED)

CITY COUNCILOR OFFICE NO. 9 -- 3 (Three) Year Term

G.T. Bynum, 3607 S. Florence Avenue, Tulsa, OK 74105, 08/28/1977 (MON) (incumbent)
Robert Dale Pinney, 1326 E. 32nd Pl., Tulsa, OK 74105, 02/13/1962 (WED)
Kimberlee Flake Whiteman, 1394 E. 44th St., Tulsa, OK 74105, 02/09/1978 (WED)
Doug Rucker, 5717 S. Louisville Ave., Tulsa, OK 74135, 05/31/1952 (WED)

Mike F. Batman, 4136 S. Birmingham Pl., Tulsa, OK 74105, 07/05/1956 (TUE)


Congratulations to Clift Richards, chosen by the Mayor and confirmed by the City Council to complete Preston Doerflinger's term as City Auditor. He's been elected without opposition to a full two-year term. Now he can relax and go on a summer holiday, no more working for a week or two, fun and laughter on a summer holiday, no more worries for me or you, for a week or two. (Right, Clift Richards, not Cliff Richard. But can we call the auditor's staff "The Shadows"?)

I was pleased to see that none of the council races are uncontested, particularly District 8 and District 9. Phil Lakin will face civil litigation defense attorney George Gibbs in the primary; the winner will face William Suliburk in the general.

The District 9 Republican primary is crowded, with three challengers to incumbent G. T. Bynum, including former Brookside neighborhood president Robert Pinney, Kimberlee Whiteman, and Doug Rucker. The Republican primary winner will have to defeat Batman -- convenience store owner Mike F. Batman.

Seven of nine council races will be decided at the November 8 general election. District 1 will be decided in the Democrat primary, as five-year incumbent Jack Henderson faces two challengers Twan T. Jones and Jason V. Trent II. In District 5, the Republican primary will determine whether incumbent Chris Trail, having been used and discarded by forces that only needed him to rid City Hall of Bill Martinson, can defeat his old consultant's new client (and therefore presumably the Cockroach Caucus's champion) Karen Gilbert, as well as 1996-2005 incumbent Sam Roop.

The list could still change. Candidates have until Friday to decide to withdraw, if, perhaps, they decide they could be happy supporting one of the other candidates in the race. There's also the possibility of a challenge, if it turns out that a candidate is ineligible to run.

Some interesting names on the list of candidates:

Judith K. Adams, Ph.D., is a family therapist and is a long-time conservative activist in the Republican Party. She has an surprising connection to another candidate in the District 2 Republican primary.

Republican Jeannie Cue is the sister of former District 2 City Councilor and Tulsa County Commissioner Randi Miller. Cue has deep roots in west Tulsa, but District 2, once dominated by west Tulsa, is now about evenly split between west and east

In DIstrict 4, Blake Ewing, owner of Joe Momma's Pizza, Back Alley Blues and BBQ, Boomtown Tees, Max Retropub, and the Engine Room PR, filed on Wednesday for the Republican nomination. He will face PR professional Liz Hunt and Rocky Frisco.

tgg_9655_110x165.jpgAn Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals decision provided to BatesLine reveals that Nancy Rothman, Republican candidate for Tulsa City Council District 2, lost custody of her minor children and was required to pay $70,099 of her ex-husband's court costs and attorney fees in the custody battle because she had been "actively engaged in a process of alienating the children from their Father."

In 2001, the District Court found that Nancy Rothman engaged in conduct that "was arbitrary and capricious, and exacerbated the litigation." The trial court specifically listed (emphasis added):

a. Reporting false allegations of abuse to the Department of Human Services.

b. Contemptuous and continuous denial of visitation even after numerous warnings from this Court.

c. Contemptuous and deliberate efforts to alienate and negatively influence the minor children from their father.

d. Attempts to injure and harm the Plaintiff's business, reputation, and his relationship with the minor children by attempting to "setup" the Plaintiff with illegal child pornography.

e. Filing a frivolous emergency motion when this Court ordered a one week visitation.

Regarding items a. and d., the Appeals Court wrote (emphasis added):

Among other acts of sabotage, Wife reported that Husband had sexually abused the younger child. This allegation was determined to be unfounded. The last straw was when Wife and her friend "hired" a man to spy on Husband and to find a female who would attach herself romantically to Husband, receive a key to his condo, and plant child pornography there.

A footnote to this paragraph states, regarding the man "hired" to spy on Mr. Rothman:

He testified that he agreed at first as a favor because Mrs. Rothman was helping him with his divorce. After he realized the criminal intent of the plan, he tape-recorded the next conversation, took it to Mr. Rothman who, with his attorney, gave the tape to the Tulsa Police Department the next day.

The Court of Civil Appeals affirmed the District Court's ruling, writing (emphasis added):

The overwhelming evidence supports a finding that Husband never abused or neglected his children but was falsely and intentionally accused. Wife's behavior is reprehensible in a parent....

...the record supports findings that Wife's actions endangered the mental welfare of the children; that she demonstrated a high degree of self-interest to the point that hurting the children was a casualty of her main goal, and she created unnecessarily vexatious litigation. Although Husband has greater income, Wife's is sufficient to support herself and sufficient to pay for her bad acts.

Other documents in the district court case show that in 2008, Nancy Rothman pled guilty to a contempt citation for failure to pay, over a seven-year period, court-ordered child support of $140 per month. Rothman was sentenced to six months in jail, a $500 fine, and a loss of all her licenses; the sentence is suspended as long as she complies with the court-ordered payment schedule for back child support.

Prior to posting this article, BatesLine verified that the document received was a true copy of the 2003 Court of Civil Appeals decision and that the named defendant/appellant in the case, Nancy T. Rothman, is the same person as Nancy Lynne Rothman, candidate for City Council District 2, date of birth August 29, 1957. (The "T" evidently stands for Traub, Ms. Rothman's maiden name.)

Rothman serves on the Oklahoma Commission on the Status of Women (appointed in 2008), serves on the Mayor's Commission on the Status of Women, and served as the president of the Tulsa County Republican Women's Club. (The photo above is from the City of Tulsa website, on the webpage for the Mayor's Commission on the Status of Women, and as a government work is presumed to be in the public domain.)

Here is a link to the OCIS Case Summary for the appeals court case, John D. Rothman, Plaintiff/Appellee, v. Nancy T. Rothman, Defendant/Appellant, No. DF - 97229, and a link to the Case Summary for the District Court case, FD-1998-4312, John D. Rothman, Plaintiff, v. Nancy T. Rothman, Defendant.

UPDATE 2011/07/16: Fixed links to District Court case summary.

Below is the text of the appeals court decision, extracted from the PDF document by optical-character recognition, and formatted for the web. Every effort was made to correct any errors made by the OCR software. (If viewing on the home page, click "Continue reading" to see the text of the decision.)

At the end of day one of filing for the 2011 Tulsa city elections, two districts had a single candidate with no announced opponent preparing to enter the race.

Phil Lakin is the sole candidate so far in far south Tulsa's District 8. Lakin, CEO of Tulsa Community Foundation and a trustee of the George Kaiser Family Foundation, ran a close second to incumbent Bill Christiansen in the 2009 Republican primary; Christiansen is not running for re-election. His pre-election ethics filing that year showed that Lakin received 71% of his funds from out-of-district donors, primarily (41%) from District 9.

I had plenty of differences with Christiansen, but he grew to be a solid advocate for homeowner concerns in planning and development over these last few years, and I was happy to see him re-elected in 2009. There are some strong homeowners' associations in District 8; a neighborhood association president or South Tulsa Citizens Coalition leader willing to knock doors could beat Lakin, despite Lakin's likely massive financial advantage. Voters may well feel that the massive resources of TCF and GKFF give Lakin enough of a seat at the city's policy-making table. Given a choice on the ballot, south Tulsans may reasonably prefer to entrust their seat at the table to a neighborhood leader focused on the basic quality of life issues that concern them.

In District 9, G. T. Bynum is so far unopposed for reelection to his third term. Bynum has not yet had to run hard in his political career, but that may -- and should -- change.

I like G. T., and he's always been accessible to respond to questions. I appreciate his leadership on the city's "rainy day" (economic stabilization reserve) fund and the proposal to require city lawsuit settlements above a certain value to come to the City Council for approval. He loves public policy and respects the City Council's institutional role in city government. But I've got concerns.

Bynum's defection from conservatism on a key cultural issue, equating sexual orientation to race and ethnic origin in city HR policies -- a capitulation to the cultural imperialism of the Left -- ought to draw a primary challenge from a social conservative. Bynum's support for the County River Tax increase and the inequitable downtown ballpark assessment undercuts his claim to libertarianism as well. Bynum's backing for the Economic Stabilization Reserve (Rainy Day) Fund deserves praise, but it's puzzling that Bynum never backed Councilor John Eagleton's efforts to hold departmental budget increases to the rate of inflation.

But perhaps the biggest problem with Bynum as a councilor is his day job as a lobbyist. Bynum founded a Federal lobbying firm, G. T. Bynum Consulting, in 2009, with Williams & Williams, his former employer, as his first client. Sometime this year, Bynum's business name on disclosure forms changed to Capitol Ventures Government Relations LLC, a name registered with the State of Oklahoma in 2009; Bynum's title is now listed on disclosures as managing partner.

In 2010, Bynum's single biggest client, according to U. S. Senate lobbying records, was the George Kaiser Family Foundation, which had Bynum and his partner Stuart McCalman lobbying Congress regarding female incarceration rates, the OSU Medical Center, trail rehabilitation, and Arkansas River low-water dam development. At least two of those items have direct public policy implications for Tulsa city government. (Bynum's lobbying relationship with GKFF came to an end last December.)

As I wrote last year:

To clarify my concern about Bynum representing GKFF as a lobbyist and serving on the City Council: GKFF is actively engaged in civic and governmental issues here in Tulsa, as are closely related individuals and entities. George Kaiser is a significant political donor in local elections, as is the BOK Financial Political Action Committee. Kaiser and GKFF were heavily involved in the 2007 Tulsa County sales tax increase for river improvements and in the downtown Drillers stadium deal, to name two recent examples of their engagement in local political issues. I cannot think of another example of an elected official at one level of government simultaneously serving as a lobbyist at another level of government. It would be a different matter if Bynum limited his lobbying practice to organizations and businesses that had no interest in City Hall affairs.

Bynum now lobbies on behalf of Family and Children's Services, a Tulsa non-profit, regarding female incarceration rates, one of the issues that Bynum worked on for GKFF. Family and Children's Services are 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 recipients of Emergency Shelter Grant funds, a federal block grant that the City Council allocates.

None of this is to condemn Bynum's clients or his work on their behalf, but there is the potential for a conflict of interest when a city councilor serves as a federal or state lobbyist for clients who have a substantial involvement in local public policy. The question is unavoidable -- just what do your clients think they're buying?

Potential opponents may be deterred by Lakin and Bynum's access to funds, but you can beat money with sweat in a city council race. In 2009, despite the mayor's race on the ballot and a very competitive council race, only about 5,000 were cast in the District 8 primary. Other GOP primaries that year drew less than 2,400 votes each. Turnout is likely to be lower with no mayor's race this year. For less than $2 per household, you can make contact by mail with every likely voter in your district; $10 a household buys you a barrage of postcards, push cards, and yard signs; spend more than that and you're throwing money away.

While District 9 has historically contained the core of Tulsa's "Money Belt," several Money Belt precincts were moved into District 4, and District 9 gained six precincts to the south and east from District 7, including the home precinct of District 7 incumbent John Eagleton. This area could provide a base of support from which a primary challenge could be launched.

Residents of the districts and the city as a whole would benefit from vigorous, competitive campaigns in District 8 and District 9.


UPDATE: Small businessman Mike Batman, a Democrat, filed on Tuesday for the District 9 seat. Batman is the owner of Batman's Good Food and Convenience Store at Pine and Mingo and Batman's Auto Sales east of Yale on 11th St. No other candidates filed for District 8 on Tuesday.

The Tulsa County Election Board has the official list of Tulsa municipal candidates on its website, but here's a list for handy reference:

CITY AUDITOR-2 (Two) Year Term

No candidates.

CITY COUNCILOR OFFICE NO. 1 -- 1 (One) Year Term

Jack Ross Henderson, 2014 N. Rosedale Ave., Tulsa, OK 74101, 04/22/1950 (incumbent)

CITY COUNCILOR OFFICE NO. 2 -- 2 (Two) Year Term

Nancy Lynne Rothman, 2812 E. 81st Pl., Tulsa, OK 74137, 08/29/1957
Matthew Foster, 1739 W. 83rd St., Tulsa, OK 74132, 12/06/1986

CITY COUNCILOR OFFICE NO. 3 -- 3 (Three) Year Term

Roscoe H. Turner, 3415 E. Haskell St., Tulsa, OK 74115, 02/16/1932 (incumbent)
David Edward Patrick, 5712 E. Tecumseh St., Tulsa, OK 74115, 04/22/1951 (former incumbent)

CITY COUNCILOR OFFICE NO. 4 -- 1 (One) Year Term

Rocky Frisco, 1332 S. Florence Pl., Tulsa, OK 74104, 07/26/1937

Maria Veliz Barnes, 1319 S. Terrace Dr, Tulsa, OK 74104, 07/28/1960 (incumbent)
Kenneth L. Brune, 9 E 4th St, Suite 900, Tulsa, OK 74103, 08/23/1945

CITY COUNCILOR OFFICE NO. 5 -- 2 (Two) Year Term

Christopher Eric Trail, 4872 S. 70th East Ave., Tulsa, OK 74145, 01/29/1970 (incumbent)
Sam Roop, 1869 S 106th East Ave., Tulsa, OK 74128, 02/02/1951 (former incumbent)

CITY COUNCILOR OFFICE NO. 6 -- 3 (Three) Year Term

James Savino Mautino, 14628 E. 12th St., Tulsa, OK 74108, 05/11/1932 (incumbent)

Robert Arizona Gwin, Jr., 3113 S. 130th East Pl., Tulsa, OK 74134, 06/18/1973


Steven H. Roemerman, 7406 S. 109th East Ave., Tulsa, OK 74133, 06/29/1976

CITY COUNCILOR OFFICE NO. 8 -- 2 (Two) Year Term

Phillip Lawrence Lakin, Jr., 4915 E 104th Pl., Tulsa, OK 74137 08/05/1967

CITY COUNCILOR OFFICE NO. 9 -- 3 (Three) Year Term

G.T. Bynum, 3607 S. Florence Avenue, Tulsa, OK 74015, 08/28/1977 (incumbent)

Three previously unannounced candidates filed on Monday: Kenneth L. Brune, who appears to live in an office building at 4th and Main; Thomas D. Mansur, an environmental engineer running in District 7; and former Councilor Sam Roop, running to regain his District 5 seat.

Roop won the seat in 1996 and stepped down in 2005 when Mayor Bill LaFortune appointed him to be the City's Chief Information Officer, a job that terminated with LaFortune's re-election defeat in 2006. Later that year, Roop ran an unsuccessful campaign for Tulsa County Commission District 1, finishing third in the primary behind former District 4 Councilor Anna Falling and State Rep. John Smaligo.

Four announced candidates have yet to file: Democrat Twan Jones in District 1, Republicans Blake Ewing and Liz Hunt in District 4, and Republican Karen Gilbert in District 5.

It's interesting that between filed and announced candidates, there are primary opponents for all three Democrats on the City Council. So far only one Democrat, Robert Gwin, a former Republican, is challenging an incumbent Republican or running in a Republican-held seat.

Off-again, on-again District 3 Councilor David Patrick is trying to recapture his seat as a Democrat once again. In 2008, he recaptured the seat by running as an independent, after two straight Democratic primary losses to Roscoe Turner. In 2009, the independent strategy failed Patrick, and Turner went back to City Hall. The new City Council boundaries cost Turner three loyal, vote-rich precincts on the western edge of his old district. Turner's opposition to tax increases and support for neighborhood concerns has won him fans across the political spectrum; Patrick doesn't enjoy the same intensity of support, but he reportedly believes the demographics of the precincts added to the district favor him and hurt Turner.

There is only one announced candidate each in Districts 8 and 9. More about them in a later entry.

durer_praying_hands.jpgI have a list of 15 topics that I want/need to write about, but this afternoon it seemed more appealing to work with my five-year-old to pick up and put away the Hot Wheels, Magformers, Puzzibits, Lego and Duplo pieces littering his bedroom floor.

The long list of topics I need to tackle, far from energizing me, fills me with despair. But what makes it harder is that we are nearing the official start of Tulsa's 2011 campaign season. In the coming days, weeks, and months, I'll be writing some things that voters need to understand, but they're things that will likely cost me some friends and make me a target.

Over the last seven years, going back to the historic 2004 election that ushered in a grassroots majority on the City Council, Tulsa citizens have increasingly had a voice and a seat at the table at City Hall. The PLANiTULSA process that shaped Tulsa's first comprehensive plan in a generation from the input of thousands of Tulsans is perhaps the zenith of the progress we've made over the last seven years.

Unfortunately, the bunch that used to have unchallenged control of city government -- a group I've nicknamed the Cockroach Caucus for their aversion to the sunlight of public scrutiny -- is trying for a comeback. Between now and November, you will see a well-funded, coordinated effort to seize control of City Council and shut out the priorities and concerns of regular, working Tulsans. You can expect well-produced TV and radio ads and slick postcards that will use misdirection and misinformation to try to warp your perception of the issues and the candidates. You can expect a rerun of the "Momentum" campaign in Oklahoma City, funded with money funneled through a series of organizations to hide its origins, spent on ads that used national issues in an unprincipled and inconsistent way to elect its preferred candidates. The Tulsa version involves some of the same people, appears to be using the same funding strategies, and has already used its pull to get its preferred set of council district boundaries enacted.

If they get their way, the gains of the last seven years will be halted and reversed. We'll be back to the days of puppet city councilors that only pretend to listen to the concerns of their constituents. The key issue of this campaign: Will city government be run for the benefit of all Tulsans, or only for the benefit of a favored few?

As I look ahead to the coming election season, I feel overwhelmed. I worry about communicating the danger I see in an effective and compelling manner. I worry because many of my friends and allies who have fought the good fight these many years are on the sidelines this year, exhausted and bruised from the attacks they've endured. I worry whether I can write as much as I need to without neglecting the demands of my day job or the needs of my family.

So I'm asking for your prayers, and not only for me, but for bloggers, candidates, and campaign volunteers. Pray for endurance, perseverance, and encouragement. Pray for insight in analyzing issues and candidates and clarity in expressing that analysis to the voters. Pray for "malice toward none... charity for all... firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right." Pray that God would raise up reinforcements -- candidates, activists, and bloggers who will fill in the gaps left by those who have stepped away from the battle lines to bind up their wounds. Pray that these people would have the financial and personal support they need to bring their message to the public.

As for the Cockroach Caucus: Pray that God would "confound their politics, frustrate their knavish tricks," that their deceptive tactics will be clumsily executed and easily exposed. Pray for chaos and dissension in their ranks. Pray that some insiders would have an attack of conscience and expose the Caucus's inner workings to the public.

Finally, pray for the voters, that they would have the wisdom to see through deception and misdirection.

P. S. I expect there will be a lot of eyes on this site in the days and weeks to come. Election seasons always bring a readership peak. There are two great ad spaces available -- your ad will appear at the top of every BatesLine page. Ads start at $20. In June, according to the awstats analysis of my server log, BatesLine served 516,504 pages to 72,786 visitors, and that's likely to increase as interest in city elections rises.

Steven Roemerman is seeking the Republican nomination for the Tulsa City Council District 7 seat being vacated by John Eagleton, according to his press release:

Steven+Roemerman-240px.jpgTulsa resident and republican, Steven Roemerman, today officially announced his candidacy for Tulsa City Council District 7, the seat currently held by John Eagleton, who earlier declared he was vacating the seat.

"I love Tulsa and deeply feel the needs of the people," says Roemerman. "My goal is to help forge a future for Tulsa that my children and their children will be proud of. Guided by my strong conservative principles, I will work with the Mayor and the rest of the Council to do the people's work at City Hall."

Asked about his top priorities as councilor, Roemerman says he wants to reduce the size of the budget by creating new efficiencies that reduce waste, enact fair zoning laws that foster economic growth, invest more in technology, and create a balanced budget that better meets the needs of the citizens. But, above all, he says, he hopes to usher in a new age of civility when it comes to working with the Mayor to enable the city to prosper.

"I believe elected officials must be able to work together regardless of personal feelings," says Roemerman. "If I'm elected to office, that is what you can expect from me--a willingness to work with others and build trust in our city's leadership. I pledge to be honest and open, relentless in my pursuit of growth and prosperity for Tulsa, and firm in my conservative values and principles."

A resident of Tulsa since 1998, Roemerman is a graduate of Evangel University in Springfield, Missouri where he studied Computer Science and Biblical Studies. He is currently a Sr. Programmer at Avis Budget Group. He has been married for 13 years to his wife Stacey and has three children. The Roemermans live in Hampton South neighborhood in Tulsa and are members of Carbondale Assembly of God.

"There's nothing more personally important to me than helping Tulsa grow and providing a place of opportunity for the next generation," says Roemerman. "I know I can do a great job for our city and will work hard every day to make our city's future one that we all can be proud of."

Roemerman currently has a seat on Tulsa's Sales Tax Overview Committee, where he reviews and reports upon the expenditures of Tulsa's third penny sale tax and bond programs. He has been an active follower of The City Council, frequently attending meetings and speaking before the council both as a member of the STOC and as a concerned citizen. For more information about Roemerman or his campaign, go to www.steven4tulsa.com.

I've known Steven for several years now. He's kept a close eye on city politics. He has a good understanding of the issues and a heart for public service. I feel certain that he has the political courage to make decisions in the best interests of Tulsans, even when powerful, well-funded special interests are pushing in a different direction. I'm very happy that he's running, and I give him my wholehearted support.

Steven doesn't have a huge organization or a big bankroll behind his campaign, so I'd urge you to contact Steven Roemerman, pledge a financial contribution of any amount and volunteer your time and talents to help him win this election.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of recent entries in the Tulsa Election 2011 category.

Tulsa Election 2009 is the previous category.

Tulsa Election 2012 is the next category.

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