Tulsa Election 2004: April 2004 Archives

Who is John Benjamin?


Saturday's Whirled article (jump page here) covering the missing Councilors (let's call them the Rebel Alliance, just for fun), quoted extensively from some joker named John Benjamin. Here's part of what he was quoted as saying:

"I blame all of this on Councilor Medlock," Benjamin said. "He needs to examine his motive.

"Everyone in the business community has been calling me wanting to know what's going on. This is embarrassing."

Sullivan is a "little hyper, but he's a good guy. He's fair and objective," said Benjamin, who was Sullivan's campaign manager.

"Chris Medlock has been a dissident ever since he got on the council. He's a troublemaker. He does it in front and behind the scenes. I've told him this," Benjamin said.

"He has to learn to be a team player and how to compromise, or he will never be an effective councilor."

Benjamin said the councilors apparently were making a big deal out of the chairmanship, which "is really just a traffic cop at the council meetings. We purposely didn't put a lot of extra power in that position."

Benjamin said he is surprised at Roop's behavior -- "It's not like him to act this way."

He said it was very irresponsible for the council newcomers to get into a fray when they hadn't even attended one meeting or learned the system.

Who is this guy?

Grasping at straws


I am almost speechless. Now the Whirled is calling for the County Election Board to find some pretext to avoid certifying the results in the City Council District 3 election. They are trying to goad the District Attorney into prosecuting Roscoe Turner in hopes of getting the seat vacated and getting a new election. Pretty amazing, considering the way the Whirled pooh-poohed the massive irregularities in the original primary -- irregularities which did affect the outcome of the vote.

Overlooked by the Whirled writers -- none of the 11 voters involved in these alleged irregularities had their votes counted. There was no impact on the outcome of the election.

The Whirled is desperately trying to keep the Council in control of the Councilors that they have on a leash. Why is unknown, but they have something they want this Council to do, and if they can even delay Roscoe Turner taking office, they'll have the majority they need to push it through.

Today's editorial is just one more reason to cancel your subscription, as if you didn't already have enough.

No harm, no foul


Well, well. The Tulsa Whirled is going to rage, rage against the dying of the light, apparently. With Roscoe Turner's victory, their clique no longer has control of the City Council, but they aren't going down without a fight. Thus the story on this morning's front page (jump page here ), screaming about voter irregularities, and whispering threats of felony charges.

(Interesting how the Whirled avoids giving any details on the front page, because the details show how minuscule this story is.)

Two allegations have been made involving eleven people who attempted to cast absentee ballots. One doesn't involve any violation of the law, and the other only became a violation in the last eight months. There is no indication that Roscoe Turner's campaign set out to get the votes of ineligible people counted, and in fact none of these 11 people who tried to vote had their votes counted.

Roscoe wins!


The final results are in, and Roscoe Turner won handily over David Patrick to reclaim his old seat on the Tulsa City Council.

This creates a pro-taxpayer, pro-ordinary-Tulsan majority on the City Council, a coalition that brings together east, north, west, and southwest Tulsa and crosses party and racial boundaries. I don't have the actual vote totals -- I'm in upstate NY and there aren't any numbers available on the web -- but this result will boost our coalition's vote totals to near 60%, a landslide by any measure.

The question is whether these five councilors will be able to stick together and act as a majority, setting the agenda for the next two years, or whether the remnant of the "Class of '02" -- the four remaining Councilors who were recruited to serve the interests of the downtown elites -- will leverage their strong cohesion and be able to wield an effective majority by prying loose one of the other five from issue to issue, keeping the good guys on the defensive.

Mind you, that "Class of '02" is not a monolithic group: Bill Christiansen and Susan Neal have supported homeowners' interests on a number of issues, and Christiansen's initiatives on cost containment and efficiency at City Hall have been positive. They voted against F&M's rezoning at 71st & Harvard, and they did not take campaign money from F&M board members, unlike the other four members of their coalition.

Then you've got the "Gang of Four" -- they took thousands of dollars in campaign funds from F&M Bank board members, and they voted to silence homeowners when that issue came before the Council last fall. Two of the Gang have now been defeated. The remaining two extremists are now in charge of the City Council -- Randy Sullivan as Chairman and Tom Baker as Vice Chairman. As I've written, this shouldn't be, tradition notwithstanding. Randy Sullivan has made it clear he will not be an impartial moderator, and instead he is working to ensure that only his allies become presiding committee chairmen, a violation of the tradition of sharing committee chairmanships among several members. This move will give the "Class of '02" full control over the Council's agenda. Sullivan was given an inch, and he is taking a mile.

The war has been won, but the occupation is going to be a challenge.

Yesterday's new edition of Tulsa Beacon has put into print (link will only last a week) my entries about discrepancies between voters signed in and votes cast in the city primary election and my analysis of the cause of the problems. It's the lead story. Thanks to Charlie Biggs for spotlighting batesline.com and my efforts on this story.

The Beacon now has TV listings and coupon ads, so you have even fewer reasons to keep reading the Whirled. Stop at a local QT and buy a copy.

Will Patrick have a vote?


You have to hand it to our City Attorney's office. They are constantly coming up with clever ways to get the City sued.

Their latest effort involves City Councilor David Patrick, who will only be a City Councilor until 2 p.m. Monday, when the two year term he won in 2002 expires. The City Attorney's office has concocted a case for allowing Patrick to continue to serve and vote as a Councilor until the winner in next Tuesday's special election is certified, even though he was never certified as the victor, and the election was thrown out by the court. This maneuver would allow him to vote in Monday's meeting to select a new chairman and vice chairman -- and his vote could be the deciding one.

If Patrick exercises his alleged voting rights, there will almost certainly be a lawsuit against the city, filed by a constituent of District 3, who would be misrepresented by having him stay in office when he has not been duly elected. A mess would be avoided if Patrick would voluntarily refuse to assume the privileges of office until the election results are conclusive.

Putting the losers in charge


There's change in the air down at the Oklahoma State Capitol, with the realization that this may be the year that the voters elect a Republican majority to the Oklahoma House of Representatives. The outcome of a handful of races will have momentous consequences -- who will be Speaker, who will chair the committees and thus control what legislation is heard and what is ignored. In turn, the Speaker has power to appoint members of state boards and commissions. In a sense you're casting two votes when you vote for a state legislator -- who will represent you locally, and which party will set the agenda and run Oklahoma. It's reasonable that the majority party, representing the majority sentiment of the voters, should have that kind of power, with due consideration for the rights of legislators in the minority party, who after all represent the same number of constituents as the legislators in the majority.

There's change in the air, too, at Tulsa's City Hall, the result of the ouster of an incumbent in District 6, the near defeat of an incumbent in District 4, and the uncertain result in District 3. Add to that the resounding reelection of a couple of councilors who were labeled by the downtown elite as troublemakers and targeted for defeat. The result is very different from that of two years ago. But that difference may not be reflected in the leadership of the incoming Council.

If the Council follows tradition, two Councilors who were on the losing side of this election will be chosen as Chairman and Vice Chairman next Monday, at a meeting following the new Council's swearing-in. The tradition alternates between parties each year, moves the Vice Chairman up to the Chairmanship and takes the most senior member in a party who hasn't yet been the Chairman as the new Vice Chairman. This year that means District 7 Republican Councilor Randy Sullivan would become Chairman and District 4 Democrat Councilor Tom Baker would become Vice Chairman.

Although the Chairman of the City Council isn't as powerful as, say, Speaker of the House, he presides over the meetings, sets the agenda, and makes appointments to special task forces and committees. For example, the Tulsa City Council was given two places on the Dialog / Visioning leadership team, and then-Chairman Bill Christiansen appointed himself and Susan Neal. A chairman who is philosophically at odds with the majority of the Council would make life miserable for everyone, particularly if he were inclined to use his power to inflict misery on those who disagree with him. At the least, we need our Council leaders to treat every member with fairness and respect, and to be in tune with the concerns of ordinary Tulsans.

So by what measure do I define Sullivan and Baker as both being on the losing side? I'm not talking about the fact that the Republicans increased their majority from five to six. As I've written before, the issues that really matter in Tulsa politics don't line up well with national party divisions. So which side won the 2004 city elections?

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Tulsa Election 2004 category from April 2004.

Tulsa Election 2004: March 2004 is the previous archive.

Tulsa Election 2004: June 2004 is the next archive.

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