Tulsa Election 2011: September 2011 Archives

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:

Employees,

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.

Regards,

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

Michael

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.

Terry

MORE:

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].

Clarification

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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.)

Greetings,

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:

SD002646

SD002641

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):

21775930707710001AA

21775930707730001AA

21775930707690001AA

14thSt&Troost-SE

1415STroostNE

14thPlaceAndUtica-Before

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:

TULSA PUBLIC SCHOOLS Policy 4401

EMPLOYEE PARTICIPATION IN POLITICAL ACTIVITIES

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
available.

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
District.

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.

Tulsa_City_Council_District_3-2011.png


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.

Tulsa_City_Council_District_5-2011.png

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.

MORE

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.

MORE:

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

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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.

MORE:

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

Tulsa_City_Council_District_7-2011.png

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.

A CHALLENGE TO TRANSPARENCY

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.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Tulsa Election 2011 category from September 2011.

Tulsa Election 2011: August 2011 is the previous archive.

Tulsa Election 2011: October 2011 is the next archive.

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