It was disheartening to read that someone I backed for City Council has bought Kathy Taylor's self-serving spin on the Great Plains Airlines bailout. The airport was never at risk. The collateral for the Great Plains Airlines loan was a small piece of the apron on the Air Force Plant No. 3 property (now used to manufacture buses and aircraft components). When the Great Plains deal was made, the citizens of Tulsa were told that the City was not at risk. Kathy Taylor chose to cough up our money -- an illegal payment, the State Supreme Court said -- rather than fight for us.
Kathy Taylor seems to be quite comfortable with obfuscation and deceptive spin. A recent example is her attempt to minimize her involvement with Michael Bloomberg's pro-gun-restriction coalition. In last week's forum, she made it sound as if she had only attended one meeting and that only as an observer. The reality: Kathy Taylor was one of the 15 charter members of Mayors Against Illegal Guns (MAIG), organized at NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg's Gracie Mansion in April 2006. Kathy Taylor signed the statement of principles, which included a promise to recruit other mayors to the cause. In October 2006, she attended a second summit in Chicago, posing with other mayors at a press conference, and in January 2007, she joined her MAIG colleagues in Washington to lobby against the Tiahrt Amendment, trying to remove an important protection for lawful gun owners.
Of course, the supreme example of Kathy Taylor's lawyerly and deceptive parsing of words happened early in her first campaign for mayor. It's the source for the Kathy Taylor photo and phrase that you've seen often on BatesLine during this campaign.
The picture and the phrase came from this news report from 2006. KJRH reporter Glenn McEntyre asked Kathy Taylor with official Broward County records showing that she had voted by absentee ballot in Florida in the November 7, 2000, election and official Tulsa County records showing that she voted in person at the polls in Tulsa the same day.
Taylor's attempt to deflect, her Clintonesque parsing of words, her defensiveness, all communicated to me that she was guilty and she knew it. Only after her campaign had had time to confirm that the direct physical evidence of her in-person vote no longer existed -- the voter books you sign at the polls are routinely destroyed after two years -- did she appear at a press conference to say, still rather equivocally, "I can tell you unequivocally that I never would have intentionally voted twice in two states."
Show this video to a grade-school child, and then ask the kid: Is she telling the truth, or is she lying?
I was surprised this week to see that TulsaPeople had dropped its glossy mag look for newsprint.
Then I looked more closely and saw that it was in fact Urban Tulsa Weekly that put a paper-airplane-tossing Kathy Taylor on the cover and a lengthy love song to the former Tulsa mayor (by Oklahoma City resident and Oklahoma Observer editor Arnold Hamilton) on the pages within.
Taylor mistakenly credits herself with starting the effort to revise Tulsa's comprehensive plan. In fact, that was launched in 2005, while Mayor Bill LaFortune was still in office, and it was the outcome of an initiative by then-Councilors Chris Medlock and Joe Williams for a "future growth task force" and a council-initiated study to identify the best locations for large retail developments in the City of Tulsa. It was the 2004-2006 Council, notorious for the "Gang of Four," that included funding a comprehensive plan update in the 2006 third-penny sales tax package.
As an antidote to the sweet treacle in Hamilton's story and by way of reminder, take a minute to re-read this Irritated Tulsa gem: Kathy Taylor's Un-Greatest Moments
And if you want more detail on those un-greatest moments, here are some links to past columns and blog entries:
Two ORU professors and an adjunct professor who were fired late this summer have filed a lawsuit in District Court against Oral Roberts University, ORU President Richard Roberts, and several other university officials.
You can read the plaintiffs' petition here on the Fox 23 website (PDF format).
The suit alleges that Roberts directed Professor Tim Brooker to mobilize students and university resources to support the 2006 mayoral campaign of County Commissioner Randi Miller. Brooker says that he advised against involvement as a violation of the university's tax exempt status and as contrary to his personal policy for political science students getting practical campaign experience: "We don't do local politics because it turns neighbors into enemies." Roberts overruled his objections. The suit alleges that Roberts' order violated the school's articles of incorporation and the faculty and administrative handbook and policy statement.
When the IRS came calling a couple of months later, Brooker was told he was to be the fall guy (the suit alleges), to accept responsibility for the school's involvement in the Randi Miller campaign and to shield President Roberts and the school from any repercussions. He also would have to suffer disciplinary procedures for his violations of school policy, even though those violations were ordered by the administration.
Brooker later came into possession of an internal document -- a "compendium itemiz[ing] numerous and substantial acts of misconduct and improrpieties by Defendants ORU and ROBERTS." The lawsuit goes on to provide
a summary of the information contained in the draft of the internal Oral Roberts Ministry report developed by ORM Community and Governmental Liaision [sic], Stephanie Cantese [sic], sister-in-law of Richard ROBERTS. The report appears to be a confidential assessment of potential vulnerability for legal, moral, political and ethical problems of the ROBERTS family, Oral Roberts Evangelistic Association and Oral Roberts University.... Some of the more salacious entries -- of which the Defendant ORU, Defendant ROBERTS, and members of the Board of Regents are painfully aware -- have been omitted from this Petition to preserve, as much as possible, the remaining positive image of the University.
What follows is four pages of small print that paints a picture of people who are treating the funds and assets of ORU and ORM as their own personal property.
The attorneys for the plaintiffs are Gary Richardson, who ran as an independent for Governor in 2002, and Paul T. Boudreaux. There are a number of sloppy typos in the petition, which surprises me -- the spelling of Stephanie Cantees' name, time line issues (saying that Brooker was hired by ORU in 2007, obviously a typo). I assume these would be corrected in an amended petition.
Oral Roberts University is an important asset to our community. I daresay it has attracted more energetic and entrepreneurial people to Tulsa as students who then become long-term residents than a dam or a pedestrian bridge or an arena ever will. Whoever is responsible for the decision, getting the university involved in Randi Miller's campaign for Mayor was foolish politically, legally, and ethically. This is a sad day for Tulsa.
MORE: I wrote a couple of blog entries about ORU's apparent involvement in the Randi Miller mayoral campaign:
That second entry links to Steve Roemerman's entry which includes the January 16, 2006, e-mail purportedly from Tim Brooker recruiting student involvement in Randi Miller's campaign.
UPDATE 2007/10/03: A couple of interesting comments were posted to today's Tulsa World story on the lawsuit, and it stirred some recollections.
To untangle the references: Brandon Brooker is the son of Tim and Paulita Brooker, two of the parties to the lawsuit. Toby is Toby Huyssen, who was Randi Miller's campaign manager. The second commenter is referring to an encounter at The Fountains, following the Republican Men's Club luncheon, when I asked Brooker about the Miller campaign recruitment e-mail.
Toby Huyssen later took the blame for sending the Miller campaign recruitment e-mail under Brooker's name. I remember thinking, when the Tulsa World finally reported on the Brooker e-mail on February 27, 2006, that it was strange that Brooker seemed to defend the e-mail when I asked him about it on January 20. If he hadn't actually written it, why didn't he tell me that he hadn't written it and that they were trying to find out who had?
I also recall someone tipping me off to the departure of a couple of ORU students from LaFortune's campaign, something hinted at in the comments below. I seem to recall it was mentioned in the ORU student newspaper. If I remember more, I'll post it here.
1. 10/3/2007 2:16:50 AM, Anna , Dr.Roberts i have gotten 4 calls we are all signing papers to send to you. We saw Mrs. Broker write the e mail - she was mad after son left Lafortune's campaign brooker got Toby Brandon's job as campaign manager. Brandon is a skilled as a campaign manager amd thats why his blogs above Brandon I notice he is leaving off Brooker said he got a nice letter of reccommendation to take with him to Coburn when he left the campaign to get a full time job for Coburn. Toby had no experience running a campaign. We all knew Toby lived in an off campus apartment with your son Brandon.We went there to hear him play his guitar. The students are right you live in Silom Springs and drive every day, Toby's mom lives in Germany. Toby told 3 of us he agreed to take the hit about writting the email when it looked like Dr. Mrs. Brooker was going to get in trouble for sending it. Your husband came to him and reminded him about doctoring up his admission papers for him so he could live off campus with Brandon, Toby told us he felt obligated. We got scared that he might be kicked out of school, the computers are password protected and have all our grades and information and under firpa thats big- Brooker promised he could get Swales to go along with a slap on the wrist.
2. 10/3/2007 2:28:56 AM, current student, tulsa
Brooker being forced to do Miller's campaign absolute bogus. Brooker's roommate toby was fired by Mayor Lafortune's campaign and Brooker let everyone know how furious he was. Brooker and Dr. Mrs. Brooker his wife sent out a firey e mail "we have been challenged and we must defend our honor" and made a plea for us to join with her in Randi campaign as our honor has been challenged by Lafortune. Dr. Roberts was out of the country because my roommate went with him on medical missions. So how did Dr. Roberts force him? Before President Roberts ever came out for Randi Miller brooker was organizing the young republicans and getting the on board to seek revenge on LaFortune who he bleived treated his sons roommate bad. This is pure crap. Til now i went with the story Dr. Brooker but no more.
First you make Toby take the hit for your wife then you lie and say Toby sent it we had wittnesses who are you kidding. you talked bad about chris medlock because michale bates when we accompied you to the republican mens club forum michale challenged you all the way back you went after chris medlock and told us you are taking him on personally. This had nothing to do with President Roberts and I can give names of those who heard you say this. I worked for Kathy Taylor got credit and my roommate did MAyor Lafortune you said at the beginning of class we could work on any campaign for credit. Come on students if you were in his class that semester come out you know what he is saying. Dr. Brooker you resigned no one forced you out.. you did the same in 2006 when i was a first year student you told us you resigned. Many the got tired of it.
Let me try to parse that last paragraph:
First, you [Tim Brooker] make Toby [Huyssen] take the hit for your wife, then you lie and say Toby sent [the Miller campaign recruitment e-mail]. We had witnesses [to the contrary]. Who are you kidding? You talked bad about Chris Medlock, because Michael Bates, when we accompanied you to the Republican Men's Club forum, Michael challenged you. All the way back [from the luncheon to ORU], you went after Chris Medlock and told us you are taking him on personally.
TRACKBACK: Tyson Wynn has an excellent post looking at this lawsuit through the lens of financial accountability for religious institutions.
In much the same way that bad corporate citizens cost us all eventually, bad ministries cost all ministries eventually. No pastor I know would dare use God's coffers as his own personal piggy bank.... And the misery of it all is that because this has happened (if the allegations are true) to the big boys, there will be a regulatory response, placing more burden and regulation on all non-profits, from national and statewide ministries to the local church....
I currently serve on the Board of Directors for the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma. I have never seen a better run, more financially accountable and transparent organization. At our recent meeting, we learned that the BGCO has received an "unqualified good" rating from our external auditors again for 2006. If memory serves, the BGCO has had "unqualified good" ratings since the 1920s. Not only that, but all of our affiliates do, too.
The heart of the problem: Regents who won't rule, who are there as administration yes men, not a body holding the administration accountable for their stewardship.
Having worked in higher education, I can state that though woefully excessive in Roberts' case, university administration (especially presidents) are afforded great discretion and great potential for corruption in all institutions, private or public. What is needed are strong, independent Regents that are more committed to educational excellence, public accountability, and financial transparency than to the man or woman at the helm. Regent literally means a "ruler" or "one who rules." The more you deal with higher education, the less you see Regents as rulers and more as lobbyists and rubber stamps.
The list of ORU's regents, found in their 2005 IRS Form 990 filing (starting on page 18 of the PDF; kudos to the World for posting it), is a who's who of Word-Faith televangelists: Kenneth Copeland, Creflo Dollar, Jerry Savelle, Benny Hinn, John Hagee, Marilyn Hickey, Jesse Duplantis.
Thanks to a helpful reader, I managed to find a cached version of the crime position paper that had been on Tulsa Mayor Kathy Taylor's campaign website prior to the 2006 election. Just in case it vanishes from there, I've posted the whole thing below, in the extended entry. It would be interesting to know from police officers and other insiders how many of these proposals have been put into motion.
I can still find no sign of Taylor's campaign commercials. If you happened to capture any of them, please contact me at blog at batesline dot com.
UPDATE 2006/05/28 10:30 pm: A reader with inside knowledge of Tulsa Police Department operations e-mailed his point-by-point review of Taylor's plan -- what's been implemented and what hasn't. For ease of comparison, I've added his review below each point.
Also (hat tip to MeeCiteeWurkor), the FOP local has a page devoted to tracking Taylor's campaign promises regarding crime. I'll include their evaluation as of today below each section.
The situation with the cameras ought to be easy and inexpensive to remedy. A simple digital camera ought to be standard equipment in every squad car.
Starting in late August, former Mayor Bill LaFortune and former Tulsa County Democratic Chairman Elaine Dodd will be doing a weekly show on OETA called "He Said, She Said." J. Hayes posted the following on the okdemocrat.com message board:
After former Tulsa Mayor Bill Lafortune and former Tulsa County Democratic Chairman Elaine Dodd gave respective analysis of both the repub and the Democrat primary results tonight on OETA’s campaign coverage, an idea for a new show was spawned. The new show will cover the local Tulsa political scene and is sure to be a big hit with activists of both parties. The weekly show will be called 'He Said She Said' and is set to premier in August just after the state runoff elections. More details to follow as they become available.
Elaine Dodd replied on the same thread:
Mayor Bill and I "tape" our first show on August 23 (his birthday) and mine follows five days thereafter so I think I'll bake a cake--he may want to check for any surprises inside!
If you have any suggestions for political topics, please email me. All politics is local afterall.
It's an interesting choice of hosts. I have the impression that Elaine Dodd is still very plugged in to local Democratic Party politics and would have a lot of insider info to draw upon, but as far as I know LaFortune hasn't been seen at a Republican event since the mayoral election.
So what has the former mayor been doing? A little bit of this and that, it appears. A Whirled story last Wednesday says that he is building a private civil law practice, with zoning and real estate among his specialties, working as an administrative law judge, and consulting for OU-Tulsa and Pinnacle Packaging.
In last week's Urban Tulsa Weekly I reviewed the two District Judge races on the July 25 ballot in Tulsa County, explaining why there is frustratingly little information available to ordinary voters in most judicial elections and making my recommendations in support of James Caputo for Office 4 and J. Anthony Miller for Office 10.
I have left comments open on an earlier entry about the judicial races, so feel free to click through that link and chime in there. And you may also want to review this entry on how district court elections work in Tulsa County.
Bill Lobeck, Tulsa Mayor Kathy Taylor's husband, filed suit on April 26 against Lori Parrish, the Broward County, Florida, Property Appraiser; Judith M. Fink, Broward County Tax Collector; and James Zingale, Executive Director of the Florida Department of Revenue.
The lawsuit seeks to recover the $133,826.93 that Lobeck paid in February when the Broward County Property Appraiser sent him a letter stating that he was not entitled to a homestead exemption for his Fort Lauderdale, Florida, waterfront home because he had such an exemption on his home in Tulsa. Lobeck claims that the Florida house was his permanent residence, and that he was entitled to a homestead exemption.
Below are PDFs of Lobeck's suit and the answer from defendant Lori Parrish.
My column this week in Urban Tulsa Weekly looks back at the Oklahoma legislative session just ended and the state election filing period next Monday through Wednesday, June 5 through 7.
SB 1324, the bill that would have interfered with local control of zoning, was dealt a humiliating 42-3 defeat in the State Senate, while its sister bill HB 2559 died in conference committee. SB 1742, a landmark pro-life bill, won by overwhelming margins in both houses and was signed by the governor. The legislators on the wrong side of those issues deserve special scrutiny as they face re-election this year, but they won't get any scrutiny unless they have an opponent.
In particular, District 70 Representative Ron Peters and District 72 Darrell Gilbert haven't faced opposition in six years and eight years respectively, and I'm hoping someone will step forward to challenge each of them.
District 3 Tulsa County Commissioner Bob Dick has yet to announce his plans, and it's beginning to look like Dick is trying a J. C. Watts-style handoff to his handpicked successor. You'll recall that Watts announced at the last minute in 2002 that he wouldn't be seeking re-election to Congress. Candidates that might have run for that open seat were caught flat-footed, but Watts' political consultant and chosen heir, Tom Cole, had advance knowledge of Watts' plans and was ready to run right away.
Speculation is that Dick's chosen successor is either Tulsa City Councilor Bill Christiansen or former State Sen. Jerry Smith. The district covers the southern part of midtown Tulsa, south Tulsa, Broken Arrow, and Bixby. (Click here to see a map of the Tulsa County Commission Districts.) The district is heavily Republican, and there has to be some man or woman of integrity and wisdom among the tens of thousands of registered Republicans in the district who would be willing to step forward and serve as a candidate.
Given the huge pot of money under the control of the Tulsa County Commissioners -- well over half a billion in Vision 2025 money, plus Four to Fix the County tax dollars, plus millions more money available to lend in their role as the Tulsa County Industrial Authority -- and the County Commission's propensity to avoid competitive bidding, we need to clean house at the County Commission. Having Bob Dick or his handpicked successor in office is not an acceptable result.
If you are considering a race for any of those seats, or would like more information about being a candidate, I'd be glad to talk with you. Drop me an e-mail at blog at batesline dot com.
UPDATE: The Whirled is reporting that Bob Dick is running for re-election and Bill Christiansen plans to challenge him. Not much of a choice. With the fans of insider deals splitting their votes between Christiansen and Dick, a conservative reformer could easily gain enough primary votes to make the runoff and then win the runoff. (That's more or less how Tim Harris came out of nowhere to win the DA's office back in 1998.)
I received a couple of interesting letters over the transom today.
Remember the million bucks or so Kathy Taylor spent on her own campaign for Mayor? Turns out she didn't contribute to her own campaign. Instead, she lent money to her own campaign, and she and a friend are sending out letters asking Tulsans to help pay her back.
Several people who supported one of Taylor's opponents received a letter from Joseph L. "Jody" Parker, Jr., Taylor's campaign chairman. That link will take you to a PDF image of the letter; here's the text:
FROM THE DESK OF JOSEPH L. PARKER JR.
May 18, 2006
First let me thank you for your commitment to Tulsa and its future. You are one of a handful of people who make financial commitments to candidates for public office. Without your support our system would surely falter.
I would like to ask you to consider making a contribution to Mayor Taylor's campaign fund. As her campaign chairman I am responsible for reducing the deficit in her campaign account which arose because of her sizeable loan to the campaign.
Kathy will serve our community steadfastly and is already working tirelessly to improve Tulsa. She believes deeply in Tulsa's potential. It is my hope that she will not have to focus on campaign funds and be distracted from important city business.
I would like to thank you in advance for considering a contribution to the Taylor for Tulsa campaign. The citizens of Tulsa owe you a debt of gratitude for your efforts on behalf of their city. Any amount you could send would be greatly appreciated.
Joseph L. Parker, Jr.
This letter from Taylor herself, on campaign letterhead, was received by someone who supported her campaign:
May 22, 2006
I truly cannot thank you enough for your past support.
It is a privilege and honor to have become the 38th Mayor ofTulsa. From the beginning of this campaign, we shared a common vision to Make Life Better. I deeply believe in the potential of this city. I believe in our hard working city employees, our neighborhoods, our schools, and our citizens. I look forward to bringing fresh leadership to City Hall.
A LITTLE MORE HELP
As you clearly know, this past race was fast and furious. Your past support allowed me to have the proper resources to win this most important race. As with many campaigns, we still have a few loose ends to tighten up. I know it's a lot to ask, but I'm asking you to consider sending another contribution so we can finish this cycle and start working on the true needs of the city. I realize that I am asking a great deal. Please consider matching your previous donation or any amount you can send would be greatly appreciated.
THANKS FOR YOUR SUPPORT
These past few months have been extremely exciting. We have made historic gains here Tulsa. [sic] The stakes had never been higher and we did a fantastic job. Again, I want to thank you for your friendship and support over these past few months, it means so much to me to know I can count on you.
With sincere thanks,
Gotta love how she capitalizes "Make Life Better" -- I'm surprised she didn't put a next to it.
From these letters I gather that Kathy Taylor is the only creditor to the Taylor for Tulsa campaign. If so, that means that any amount contributed to Taylor for Tulsa will wind up in Taylor's personal bank account.
Something else that seems funny: Parker suggests that Taylor will be distracted from her mayoral duties if she can't raise the money. And Taylor herself seeems to say that she can't start working on the "true needs of the city" until she's been paid back for her loan to the campaign. It's hard to imagine that someone with a $25 million house and a multi-million waterfront house in Florida would be worried about getting back a million. Is she not as well off as she seems? Is she worried she won't be able to fill the Lear Jet's fuel tanks? Maybe she should reconsider not taking her salary.
In any event, there's something to be said for contributing to someone who's already won the election -- no worries that your contributions will go for naught. In fact, a post-election contribution could open some doors, in accordance with a principle she articulated during the campaign to the local bilingual weekly La Semana del Sur:
Taylor did not shy away from questions regarding her donations to Republicans, saying, "There are times, both in business and in politics, when you need a seat at the table," describing her contributions to members of the opposing party as a method of facilitating dialogue rather than an indication of ideological support.
So there you have it, Tulsans. You can Make Life Better for yourselves. If you were so foolish as to support one of Taylor's opponents, you now have the opportunity to make amends, to "facilitate dialogue" and acquire "a seat at the table," while relieving the Mayor of distracting financial anxiety.
This week's column covers three topics: (1) An update on the status of HB 2559 and SB 1324, the bills in the Oklahoma legislature which would dictate local zoning and land use policy from Oklahoma City; (2) Mayor Taylor's hiring of former City Councilor Susan Neal; (3) the topics under serious consideration by the Citizens' Commission on City Government, including non-partisan city elections.
Since the story was filed, I've learned that HB 2559 is dead, but SB 1324 has gone to conference committee and is still very much alive. I spoke yesterday to State Sen. Brian Crain, the Senate author of the bill, who believes that the provision requiring Board of Adjustment appeals to go directly to District Court is merely a clarification of existing law. He directed me to 11 O. S. 44-110. I mentioned that Tulsa's City Attorney office had said that Tulsa could change its zoning ordinance to allow certain BoA decisions to be appealed to the City Council, and that such a change was discussed by the previous City Council.
The other part of the bill amends 11 O. S. 44-104, and it appears to put design guidelines (such as those in use in historic preservation and neighborhood conservation districts) in the control of the Board of Adjustment, rather than special design review boards:
[The Board of Adjustment shall have power to] Hear and decide proposals for accessory elements associated with an allowed building use, where appropriate general performance and design standards have been established which promote greater economic value and provide a harmonious relationship with adjoining land uses by ordinance or by administrative rule or regulation. Such proposals and performance or design standards may include, but are not limited to, such accessory elements as sound, building material, runoff, lighting, visual screening, landscaping and vehicular considerations;
I understood Crain to say that that language was intended to give cities the flexibility to enable infill development, and that it was crafted with the help of INCOG staff. Crain said he was open to suggestions for clearer language.
While I am sure of Sen. Crain's good intentions, I don't see an urgent need for either provision. Unless cities are complaining that they are unable under present law to add flexibility to the zoning code, leave well enough alone. While Tulsa does need infill development, local government is best suited to design rules that will balance competing concerns and ensure that the investments of homeowners and developers alike are respected.
Your calls to state representatives and state senators are still needed to stop this bill, which I believe would set a precedent for further legislative interference in local zoning.
On the matter of the City Charter, I'll be speaking Friday afternoon at the invitation of the Citizens' Commission, mainly to address the issue of partisanship. Here's my column on the idea of multi-partisan elections, an alternative to the non-partisan concept. I hope also to get in a plug for Instant Runoff Voting, which we need already, but we'll need it more if we move toward any system in which primaries are eliminated.
Just heard this by phone -- it isn't on the OSCN case file yet. Judge Doris Fransein has ordered a new election for Tulsa City Council District 5 between Bill Martinson and Jon Kirby. There were more votes cast by ineligible voters than the 21-vote margin of victory, so there is no way of knowing who would have won if those ineligible voters hadn't voted.
The last time this happened was in the 2004 District 3 Democratic primary. In that case, the order came down on March 12, and the new election date was set for April 6. It would be possible for this revote to be held on May 9th, at the same time as the 3rd Penny vote.
I'm told that through the recount and irregularities process, Martinson has had the support of his fellow politicians who are clients of campaign consultant Jim Burdge: Paul Prather (lost the District 2 primary), Jeff Stava (lost the District 9 primary), and Sam Roop (former District 5 Councilor).
UPDATE: Here's a KTUL story about the judge's order.
Monday afternoon, I pulled my nine-year-old out of school early and we met my wife and the other two kids at Gilcrease Museum for the inauguration of the Mayor, City Auditor, and City Council of Tulsa. We were happy to be there to honor our friends on the Council who were newly elected and newly re-elected.
Everyone was running a little late. Parking was a complete mess. I saw Alison Eagleton, the wife of one of the new councilors, and Councilor-elect Cason Carter pulling their cars out of a full parking lot and into an overflow lot just as the festivities were set to begin. Gilcrease hosted the event two years ago, but that wasn't a mayoral inauguration, so the crowd was a good deal smaller then. The last mayoral inauguration was held outdoors on the Williams Center Green.
The room was packed to capacity. We said hello to Councilors Roscoe Turner and Jack Henderson and their wives as we walked past the VIP section. Jim East offered my wife his seat and my daughter took the empty seat next to it, while I took the baby and his big brother and found a place to stand near the back of the room. My holding a very cute baby meant that there were some smiles in my direction from people who normally wouldn't smile at me.
We wound up standing just behind Ginger Shepherd, UTW's new city reporter, and just in front of Becky Darrow, from South Tulsa Citizens Coalition and Tulsans Defending Democracy. I noticed that the baby was much happier if I held him on my left shoulder where he could flirt with Becky.
Since no one (maybe not even Kathy Taylor) really knows what a Kathy Taylor administration is going to look like, we are all like a bunch of Sovietologists trying to discern the inner workings of the Kremlin based on who is standing next to whom atop Lenin's Tomb during the May Day parade.
The first clue of the day wasn't an encouraging one: Former KRMG morning host John Erling was the Master of Ceremonies. Erling was the radio mouthpiece of the Good Ol' Boy network, finally driven from his microphone last year by declining ratings.
Taylor's speech? Nothing much specific. She talked about her administration representing the diversity of Tulsa. If she really means geographical and ideological diversity, that's great. If she means there's a place at the table for supporters of Chris Medlock and Don McCorkell and Bill LaFortune and even Ben Faulk, that's wonderful. If she plans to look beyond the Midtown Money Belt for appointments to authorities, boards, and commissions, I applaud her. I hope she didn't mean that she'll surround herself with people who think just like she does and justify it because they have a diversity of ethnic backgrounds or political party affiliations.
My five-year-old daughter, who is on the petite side herself, complained after the ceremony that she still hadn't seen the new Mayor's face in person; she could only see the top of Taylor's head over the heads of the people in front of her.
We stayed around for a long time after the ceremony, shaking hands and chatting. I took a few pictures of dignitaries, and I had my son take a few of me with some of the councilors, but I missed a few shots I wanted because my son was busy taking pictures out the Vista Room window of the Osage Hills in bloom. (If you're on the home page, click the "Continue reading" link to see the photos.)
I had this big music post in mind for tonight, but I am just too tired to write. Here's what other Tulsa bloggers are writing about:
Homeowners for Fair Zoning salutes Councilor Jim Mautino, who is returning to private life, after the Good Ol' Boy network finally beat him on the fourth of four tries.
Brian C. Biggs has a diagram illustrating the way politicians process debate questions.
Tyson Wynn has audio of Bill LaFortune's concession speech and Kathy Taylor's victory speech. And he has posted some election night thoughts.
Michelle has had it with voting. (It's hard to vote when you have to use one hand to hold your nose.)
If LaFortune had done just one thing--something, anything concrete--to decisively sever his relationships with the GOB network, I'd vote for him. But instead, it seems to me that his every move has been calculated to leave the possibility of a reconciliation with the GOB elite open.
In the end, it was his trusty reverse barometer, the Tulsa Whirled, that made up his mind:
During all my deliberations, I hadn't asked myself, "Would the Whirled want me to vote for LaFortune, or for Faulk?" That seemed a no-brainer; Faulk is no threat at all to them. LaFortune, on the other hand, if he wins, and if he's true to what he said on KFAQ, would at least not be what they wanted: Kathy Taylor.
Bobby meant to vote LaFortune but his hand had other ideas. He reviews the Council results and urges his new District 9 councilor, Cason Carter, to stick close to fellow newcomers John Eagleton and Rick Westcott. Good advice.
On Wednesday, KOTV's Steve Berg asked me, my friend and outgoing councilor Chris Medlock, and my friend and new councilor Maria Barnes about the makeup of the new council.
Mad Okie says goodbye and good riddance to the LaFortune administration.
Elsewhere in Tulsa:
D. Schuttler says goodbye and good riddance to the TulsaNow forum, where a moderator deleted and edited his entries that were critical of the moderation policy.
Steve Roemerman says hello to a new Tulsa-based and Tulsa-focused discussion forum called The Voice of Tulsa. Check it out.
Steve also reports on the City Council's decision "to sprinkle or not to sprinkle". That's easy -- immersion is the only Biblical mode....
Steve and his family also visited DoubleShot tonight to enjoy some excellent coffee and express solidarity with the oppressed. He has photos. Bobby at Tulsa Topics wrote about the DoubleShot story earlier in the week.
An edited version of this piece was published in the April 5, 2006, issue of Urban Tulsa Weekly. The archived version is no longer online. Posted on the web August 8, 2009.
For multi-partisan city elections
By Michael D. Bates
Once again, dear reader, you have me at a disadvantage. As you read this, you know who will be the next Mayor of Tulsa. As I write this, the election is still in the future. So let's look together at an issue that will be on the table no matter who wins Tuesday's election: the role of party politics in city elections.
A couple of weeks ago I received an e-mail from a prominent supporter of Kathy Taylor. He was expressing dismay that Republican leaders were trying to bring the other Republican candidates and their supporters behind Bill LaFortune, the Republican nominee.
I was amused by the tut-tutting about partisanship from the Taylor camp. Shut out as they are from both U. S. Senate seats and all but one congressional district, Democratic strategists are salivating at the prospect of once again having a Democrat as mayor of the state's second-largest city, someone who can attract donations to Democratic candidates for the State Legislature. According to Oologah Lake Leader editor John Wylie, State Rep. Jari Askins said at a recent Democratic fundraiser that "the election of Taylor would be a huge first step in taking back the [State] House and preserving the [State] Senate in 2006" for the Democratic Party.
Even if we strip partisan labels from the city election ballot, politics at all levels are too closely linked to keep the national parties from having an interest and an influence in local elections.
That said, I'm sympathetic to the idea of non-partisan city elections. Twice I proposed a charter amendment that would have eliminated party primaries and replaced them with an all-candidate election, preferably using Instant Runoff Voting (see my March 9th UTW column) or, failing that, a two-round system, with a separate runoff election between the top two if no candidate gets 50% in the first round.
Non-partisan elections are appealing because local political factions don't break neatly along national partisan lines. Chris Medlock says that there are really six "parties" in Tulsa politics, three factions which each have supporters in both national parties.
You have the Midtown old-money elites who are behind the paternalistic plan to replace three of the nine council districts with three citywide supercouncilors; in their view the hayseeds in North, West, and East Tulsa can't be trusted with self-government. Then there are the developers and the Chamber bureaucrats, who look at City government as a way to serve their institutional and business interests and don't want homeowners and small business to have even a seat at the table.
Finally, there are the populist grass-roots - the rest of us - who believe that city government should serve the interests of all Tulsans, not just a favored few, and that Tulsans from all classes and all parts of the city deserve a seat at the table.
There are Democrats and Republicans in all three factions, and they often find more kinship with those who share their outlook on city government than with their fellow Ds or Rs. That's how you wind up with a reform alliance on the city council made up of two Democrats and two Republican, opposed by a status quo caucus consisting of four Republicans and one Democrat.
Because our city primary system follows national party lines, the struggle between the three trans-partisan factions is often settled in the primary, and the general election doesn't offer much of a choice. Also, party labels on a general election ballot can be misleading. You'd think a Republican would oppose higher taxes or that a Democrat would oppose corporate welfare, but that ain't necessarily so. An R or a D doesn't tell the voter with which of the three city factions a candidate is aligned.
Would stripping party labels entirely be helpful to voters? In fact, it gives voters even less information to work with. Labels are helpful aids to memory. You may have trouble remembering the name of the candidates you plan to support, and knowing that you decided to vote with your party in the mayor's race and with the other party in the council race gives you an extra hook to recall your decision.
It's indisputable that non-partisan elections have lower turnout. You see this in judicial and school board elections here in Oklahoma, and it's borne out across the country. The theory is that voters, lacking even the little sliver of information that a party label provides, don't feel they know enough to make a choice and so they stay away.
On the same day that 60,000 Tulsans turned out to vote in our city primaries, only 14,000 Oklahoma City voters participated in their non-partisan mayor's race. That number was inflated above normal levels by the Oklahoma Republican Party chairman urging support for the re-election of Mayor Mick Cornett, a registered Republican. Just shy of 11,000 voted in the 2002 OKC mayor's race.
So how do we change Tulsa's system to expand both choice and information for voters?
Instead of non-partisan city elections, let's have multi-partisan elections. Put all candidates for a city office on the ballot, but instead of stripping away the party labels, let's let candidates apply the label or labels of their choosing. Maybe that would be a major party label, maybe that would be the name of a political action committee (PAC), or even both.
The actual mechanics would go something like this: Candidates would file their petitions for office. (With no primaries to filter candidates, everyone should have to collect 300 signatures in order to run.) Each PAC registered with the City Clerk's office would then have a week to submit to the election board the list of candidates they are endorsing. The county political parties would have the same opportunity if they choose to exercise it. Each candidate would then choose which party and PAC endorsements would appear next to his name on the ballot.
For example, this year the District 6 Council ballot might have looked like this:
- James Mautino - Republican, Homeowners for Fair Zoning
- Theresa Buchert - Grow Tulsa PAC, Bank of Oklahoma PAC
- Dennis Troyer - Democrat, N. E. Oklahoma Labor Council
With at least three candidates likely in every race on the ballot, we'd have to have some form of runoff; Instant Runoff Voting would be the best way to ensure that the winner would be chosen by a majority of voters. (Again, see my March 9th UTW column or www.fairvote.org for details.)
Non-partisan municipal elections would give Tulsans fewer and murkier choices. A multi-partisan ballot with a sound runoff system is the best way to give Tulsa's voters clearer, better, and more plentiful options when we choose our representatives at City Hall.
After the polls closed, I stopped off at one polling place (precinct 100) to get a sense of what happened, then drove on to Jim Mautino's watch party at the American Legion hall. There were a lot of good neighborhood activists there, not only from east Tulsa, but from all over town, people who worked for Jim's re-election. The eats were great -- Big Daddy's Barbecue. The result was close but ultimately disappointing. I'm sure Jim and his wife Bonnie are happy to have their lives back. Jim has worked very hard for all of us, and we should be grateful for what he's given to the city.
Steve Roemerman and I left Jim's party and caravaned down to the Mayo Hotel to the LaFortune watch party. The Mayor made a very graceful concession speech.
I'll be on KFAQ in the morning 6:10 trying to make sense of tonight's results. Meanwhile, go visit meeciteewurkor's Tulsa headlines page for links to what other Tulsa bloggers are saying about the results.
I'll be on 1170 KFAQ again with Michael DelGiorno between 6 and 7 in the morning, mainly to talk about the charter amendments (vote FOR all six!) and the Council races in Districts 3, 4, 5, 6, and 9.
Chris Medlock will be on 740 KRMG with Joe Kelley at 6:20 and possibly again at 6:50 to talk about the six charter amendments.
Earlier today, I was interviewed by KJRH's Jaclyn Allen about likely turnout tomorrow. Allen also spoke to TU professor Gary Allison. The story should be on their 10 p.m. newscast on channel 2 (cable channel 9).
Something Bill LaFortune deserves, but hasn't received, credit for, is reshaping the city's Board of Adjustment (BOA). The BOA is a quasi-judicial body that is authorized to grant variances from the regulations of the zoning code. The BOA also considers requests for special exceptions, where the zoning code allows a certain use in a certain set of circumstances, but the BOA must weigh neighborhood compatibility before granting the exception.
A variance is only supposed to be granted if a hardship exists -- something about the arrangement land and buildings that would result in an absurd situation if the zoning laws were strictly applied. A hardship can't be self-imposed and can't be economic in nature. By state law, the BOA can't grant "use variances" -- for example, they can't authorize the use of a house for a restaurant in a residentially-zoned area.
Until recently, variances were routinely granted in cases that lacked a legitimate hardship. I remember a case where an outbuilding was approved when it greatly exceeded the zoning code's limits on accessory building size. The BOA found the hardship to be that the lot was large.
Mayor LaFortune's three appointments to the BOA -- Clayda Stead, Frazier Henke, and Michael Tidwell -- have taken a strict approach to granting variances. They understand that, while they may think something should be permitted that isn't, it isn't their place to legislate from the bench.
Council pressure played an important role in the new appointments. Some councilors made it clear that they wouldn't support the reappointment of certain BOA members. In this case, at least, LaFortune respected the Council's wishes and sent down new names.
One final note: I have a great deal of respect for David White, one of the BOA members who was replaced by LaFortune. Although I didn't agree with his approach to the variance issue, I appreciated his fairness, integrity, and availability to answer questions. Dave regularly attended meetings of the Midtown Coalition of Neighborhood Associations, often right after the conclusion of marathon BOA hearings, and was willing to explain his rationale on controversial decisions and to help us understand factors, such as court decisions and federal law, which the BOA has to weigh alongside the text of the zoning code.
Since these haven't yet been posted on the UTW website, I'll post them here:
Paul Tay submitted his reply prior to the primary, and did not respond to the opportunity to reply to the two additional questions (11 and 12) added to the general election questionnaire. You can read Tay's response, which includes his proposed cabinet, a couple of vulgarities, and a lengthy digression about the deflation of his erstwhile inflatable companion, on his blog.
For more information about the candidates, www.TulsaTopics.com has links to all the candidate websites, a printable "tournament bracket" for the city elections, and audio of the mayoral forum sponsored by TulsaNow and Arts and Humanities Council of Tulsa. David Schuttlerďż˝s Our Tulsa World blog has video from many Mayoral and Council candidate forums.
Homeowners for Fair Zoning has posted their endorsements in the City Council races and on the charter amendments.
The Tulsa Whirled is making its archive of Election 2006 stories available outside their firewall. Sumite cum grano salis.
To look up your district and polling place and to see sample ballot images, visit the Tulsa County Election Board website.
Other UTW election resources:
- My column on the mayoral race
- My column on the council races
- My column on the six charter amendments
- City council candidate responses to the questionnaire
Click the "continue reading" link to see LaFortune's questionnaire responses.
You can watch the entire KOTV debate between Bill LaFortune and Kathy Taylor online. The most interesting part starts at about 26 minutes in, when the each has the chance to ask the other a question.
Today I spent an hour or so walking neighborhoods for District 6 City Councilor Jim Mautino.
I had family obligations, so I arrived after several others had already been hard at work for a few hours. Jim's volunteers included leaders in Homeowners for Fair Zoning and Tulsans Defending Democracy. There were Democrats and Republicans, folks from District 6 who appreciate Jim's hard work on behalf of the district, and folks from other districts who appreciate how Jim works with other councilors for fair treatment at City Hall for all Tulsans. Jim was out there with us, working harder and walking faster than any of us. Our efforts were rewarded with a hearty spaghetti lunch, prepared by Jim's wife, Bonnie.
While at the Mautinos' house, I was shown the mailer sent out by Mautino's opponent, Dennis Troyer. The mailer was identical in layout to the mailer used two years ago by Art Justis, the councilor who was defeated by Mautino, and it listed the same bunch of supporters that backed Justis and backed the attempt to recall Mautino.
Troyer signed the recall petition, which tells me that he is fundamentally opposed to City Hall reform. His fundraising report also points to his anti-reform leanings: He received $1,500 from the David Patrick Campaign, $2,000 from Friends of David Patrick, and $3,000 from Grow Tulsa, a PAC funded by World Publishing Co., Howard Barnett (of Tulsans for Better Government, the group behind the at-large supercouncilor idea), BOk Chairman George Kaiser, the BOk Financial Corp PAC, C. Arnold Brown, Dave Presley, and Reuben Davis. Like Barnett, the Whirled has been a vocal supporter of the at-large supercouncilors, as a way of undoing the progress that has been made by electing grassroots councilors like Jim Mautino. Kaiser and BOk PAC fielded a team of candidates in the primaries, trying to pack the Council, largely without success. Patrick was a consistent vote for the Good Ol' Boy network during his years on the Council.
Just like the recall, the Troyer campaign is funded by outside interests who want a puppet at City Hall, not a councilor who actively works for the best interests of East Tulsa and the entire city.
Jim Mautino has a solid record of achievement in getting improvements for District 6, and I feel sure that District 6 voters will reject the pleas of the big money interests and vote on Tuesday to re-elect Jim Mautino.
(* That photo is actually of Verne Troyer, who is, as far as I know, no relation to Dennis Troyer. But it might be fair to regard Dennis Troyer as Art Justis's ideological Mini-Me.)
There's a real possibility of confusion in the District 4 council race between Maria Barnes and Robert C. Bartlett, so let's talk about the two candidates.
Maria Barnes is President of the Kendall-Whittier Neighborhood Association and Vice President of the Midtown Coalition of Neighborhood Associations. She and her husband James have three children. Maria serves on the City's Human Rights Commission. She has graduated from the Citizens' Police Academy and has served on the Police Community Relations Committee and the Police Oversight Committee. In 1999 she served on the Mayor's Infill Development Task Force.
As a leader in Kendall-Whittier, Maria helped develop and has been actively involved in overseeing the execution of the neighborhood's master redevelopment plan. She is often before the Board of Adjustment and the Tulsa Metropolitan Area Planning Commission (TMAPC) concerning issues in Kendall-Whittier, but also in support of other Midtown neighborhoods.
I've known Maria for about eight years as we've worked together on the Midtown Coalition. Maria endorsed me when I ran for City Council in 2002. She decided to run for Council before incumbent Tom Baker announced his plans to run for Mayor.
Back before the primary, I listed Maria as an example of a "neighborhood servant". It's hard to think of anyone better prepared to serve the interests of neighborhoods on the City Council.
You'll remember that Bartlett won the Republican primary despite having ceased his campaign as hopeless after Congressman John Sullivan's endorsement of Rick Brinkley. Brinkley and the other candidate, Kent Morlan, didn't do much campaigning. Brinkley and Morlan appeared at candidate forums but didn't bother to make phone calls, put out yard signs, knock on doors, or send mail to voters. I did see a few Brinkley signs the day before the election, but that was it. Brinkley appeared to be taking the primary for granted and was saving his money for the general election.
My guess is that all the Republican voters who turned out to vote in the mayoral primary were surprised to see a Council race on the ballot, and they voted for a familiar name -- Dewey Bartlett was Governor of Oklahoma and a U. S. Senator, and his son, Dewey Jr., was City Council in District 9 from 1990 to 1994 and in 2004 was a candidate for State Senate, District 33, which overlaps Council District 4. I wonder, too, if some remembered seeing signs for Barnes (Maria, running in the other primary) and, looking at the ballot, "remembered" seeing signs for Bartlett.
But Robert C. Bartlett is no relation to the two Deweys. In the '50s he was a zoning administrator working for the Tulsa Metropolitan Area Planning Commission (TMAPC). He was involved in designing and promoting the urban renewal plan, a plan that ultimately led to the demolition of the oldest section of downtown Tulsa and all but a block of the Greenwood business district.
Bartlett left public service to go into real estate. In the '60s and '70s he served as a member of the TMAPC. That puts his involvement in land-use planning in the years when the current comprehensive plan -- the one we're getting ready to replace -- was being formed.
Bartlett's general election campaign didn't look like it would be much more active than his primary campaign. At a neighborhood meeting a couple of weeks ago, he was handing out photocopied flyers that had his name misspelled. His pre-general election ethics report showed $1,010 raised, all of it in gifts of $200 or less.
Then yesterday we got an automated call and a slick four-color flyer in the mail promoting Bartlett. Through a friend I found out that Bartlett has yard signs. The yard sign and the printed materials have a familiar style. Between the call, the flyer, and the signs, he must have spent over $7,000.
The automated call came from Eric Gomez, the 2004 nominee. I called Eric, curious to learn more about this sudden surge of activity in the Bartlett campaign, but the message on his cell phone said he was out of town until April 4, and he wouldn't be returning messages until then, which seemed very odd.
Things started to add up. I remember wondering, after the primary, wondering what campaign consultant Jim Burdge was going to do with himself after a disastrous primary night. One of his candidates (Christiansen) won re-election, another one (Martinson) advanced to the general election, but the other four (Prather, Buchert, Zarley, and Stava) were wiped out in the primaries and the attempt to defeat the zoning petition charter change was turned back. (In case you've forgotten, Burdge was a consultant to the attempt to recall Councilors Medlock and Mautino, a campaign filled with smears and dirty tricks from the vote yes side.)
My theory is that Burdge has attached himself to Bartlett, bringing along financing from the development lobby in an effort to keep Maria Barnes off the City Council. I would further suppose that Bartlett is utterly unaware of the bigger picture: Some people offered to raise money and to run his campaign for him, and he gladly accepted. The flyer and yard signs look like a Burdge production, and the use of Gomez for the automated phone call connects it all to Burdge as well -- Burdge managed Gomez's race for Council.
I hope I'm wrong about all this; if I am, let me know.
UPDATE: Today another automated phone call went out for Bartlett, this one from Dewey Bartlett Jr., who is a member of the advisory board for Tulsans for Better Government, the group that wants to dilute district representation at City Hall with at-large supercouncilors.
From the Lobeck-Taylor Foundation entry on the Grantmakers of Oklahoma website (emphasis added):
Contact: Kathy Taylor Lobeck
Address: 1132 S. Lewis Avenue
Tulsa, OK, 74104
Tax Year: 2003
Amount of Grants: $352,233
Grant-size Low: $200
Grant-size High: $100,000
Number of Grants: 26
Application Process: This foundation only gives to a pre-selected group of charities and does not accept unsolicited requests.
Make life simpler: Pick a name, pick a house, pick a city, pick a polling place and stick with it.
UPDATE: Over on the TulsaNow forum, Michelle Cantrell explains why someone might use multiple versions of the same name:
Many of you may have guessed by now that this whole name thing is very personal to me. Yes, I kept my maiden name, and it bugs the h*ll out of me that I get so much cr*p because of it. So, the fact that she isn't consistent makes perfect sense to me. I will explain.
My children took my husband's name, so at school, I am almost always referred to by my husband & children's name. I rarely correct people, because I see no point in it. Some of the teachers that do know I kept my name sometimes use my name, and sometimes use my husbands.
My credit union was originally under my name, but I added my husband to the account. To make depositing checks easier, I listed my middle name as his last name.
Some of my in-laws do not like the fact that I kept my name. To "appease" me, they choose to list my name as hyphened--maiden & husband's name. If they actually had money to create a trust for me, I am sure they would use that hyphened name.
I have had people tell me it is illegal to keep my name, and therefore choose to change it for me.
When my husband and I closed on our house, I had to sign multiple affidavits assuring that all of the versions of my name (maiden, hyphened, husband's) were actually me.
There are reasons to feel uneasy about voting for Taylor. Complaining about her name is petty and sexist.
I wasn't complaining, and I have no quarrel with women who choose to keep their maiden names, but I did find it interesting that Taylor chooses to use different names in different situations. It reminds me, as I note in the comments below, of pop stars reinventing themselves via name change, e.g. Sean "Puffy" Combs who became Puff Daddy who became P. Diddy who recently became just plain Diddy.
Michelle, if I read her correctly, chooses to use her maiden name, although she is accommodating to those who refer to her by the last name of her husband and children; that I can understand.
Today's edition of the Oklahoma Eagle features an editorial endorsement of Bill LaFortune. The column begins by lamenting the absence of McCorkell and Medlock from the general election ballot:
Both McCorkell and Medlock responded to a strong call in Tulsa to buck prevailing notions on moving the City forward; both spoke to the anger that many Tulsans have felt lately about the power of a tiny, highly unadventurous political-social elite in town and the growing influence of developers and their allies at City Hall. The race is decidedly impoverished owing to the departure of McCorkell and Medlock; both were "outside of the box" candidates who might have taken Tulsa in fascinating and new directions.
The editorial cites five challenges that face the next mayor: the council packing plan, the state of Tulsa Public Schools, community policing, growing the economy from within, and rethinking the organization of city departments. This section is interesting in its own right, raising some important issues that haven't received much attention in this campaign.
The Eagle praises LaFortune for the North Tulsa Vision 2025 projects, the North Peoria TIF district (anchored by the Pine and Peoria Albertson's), starting to restructure Tulsa's policing practices and policies, and starting to address substandard housing. (On the last two points, the editorial board says, "we note that these efforts would have benefitted greatly from a vastly better strategy for involving North side activists and from a thoroughgoing rethinking of community development in Tulsa and the role, makeup and mission of the Tulsa Development Authority.")
About Taylor, the Eagle writes:
While we appreciate the sincerity and energy that Kathy Taylor, the Democratic nominee, brings to the race, we must note her sketchy appreciation of the North Tulsa challenge and the task actually needed to manage a city with growing diversity. Talk of her being "Tulsa's CEO" is uninformative; would she be an inventive and imaginative CEO or a calculating and inaccessible number one? We also find that her over all experience in government is thin; she might, as we noted in our last editorial on this matter, make a good Mayor in a time of less challenge for Tulsa. She is not now the best choice for a City with several grand challenges; challenges that will require real experience and a wealth of hard earned insight into all of Tulsa's communities and the creaky, if still vital machinery, at Tulsa City Hall.
On the front page is a column by Marvin Blades, a 28-year veteran of the Tulsa Police Department and an officer of the Tulsa Black Officers Coalition, Inc., who explains his reasons for voting for LaFortune over Taylor. In a nutshell, he believes Taylor will be beholden to the current TPD leadership and won't address problems in the force. (Blades makes an interesting assertion: over 70% of FOP members live outside the City of Tulsa, while 85% of the Tulsa Black Officers Coalition members live in Tulsa, and less than 10% of the Coalition members are also FOP members.)
Greg Bledsoe, an attorney whom I know in connection with Tulsans Defending Democracy, has written a ringing tribute to District 6 City Councilor Jim Mautino. Greg is a Democratic activist, but he thinks very highly of Mautino, a Republican.
A little over a year ago I had the pleasure of meeting and getting to know your City Councilor Jim Mautino. Since that time, it has become clear to me that Jim is the most hardworking, dedicated and selfless public servant I have ever known. He is the salt of the earth. His tireless commitment to the improvement of District 6 and the whole City of Tulsa is without limitation. He has worked long hours for better sewers and streets (including a dramatic increase in funding for District 6), balanced economic development and transparent government at City Hall.
There's more; read the whole thing. And then do what you can to get Jim Mautino re-elected -- 10:00 a.m. Saturday at Jim's house, 14628 E. 12th St. Call 437-2642 if you need directions, have questions, or are able to help at another time.
District 6 City Councilor Jim Mautino is hosting another town hall meeting tonight at 6:30 at Martin East Regional Library, 26th and Garnett. Jim will be speaking about the upcoming Third Penny sales tax vote, the District 6 projects that were included, and other updates on infrastructure improvements in the district. If you're from District 6, or even if you're not, but want to learn more about what's going on at City Hall, make it a point to attend.
Earlier tonight I spoke to Tony Lauinger, head of Oklahomans for Life. The organization regularly asks candidates for office to respond to a survey on issues relating to the sanctity of human life. The results are published in their newsletter.
Oklahomans for Life asked candidates for city office to respond to a questionnaire, and today was the deadline. I had hoped to have a copy of the results to post here, but there appears to have been an e-mail glitch. Tony told me that of the four mayoral candidates, only Bill LaFortune bothered to return the survey. LaFortune gave a pro-life response to each of the questions. Taylor, Faulk, and Tay did not respond at all.
City Auditor candidate Michael Willis also gave 100% pro-life responses to the questionnaire. Incumbent auditor Phil Wood did not respond. In Council District 9, Cason Carter gave a 100% pro-life response, while Phil Kates gave pro-life answers to about half of the questions. Kates deserves credit for sending in a response; candidates often don't bother if they know they aren't in full agreement with Oklahomans for Life. I don't know about responses from any of the other candidates. I will post the full responses as soon as I get a copy of them.
Why should a pro-life voter care about the views of candidates for local office? I'll give you three reasons that aren't directly about the official responsibilities of a councilor or a mayor, followed by one that is.
- A candidate's views on the sanctity of human life tell you something fundamental about his worldview and values.
- A local office can be a stepping stone to higher office where life issues arise more often. By electing a pro-abortion-rights candidate to local office, you are giving her a line on her resumé that may help her defeat a pro-life candidate in a race for state or federal office.
- In particular, a pro-abortion-rights mayor can use that position to raise money for pro-abortion-rights candidates for state and federal office. If you do business with city government, and the Mayor sends you an invitation to a fundraiser for her friend the candidate for State Senate, you'll send a check in order to stay on her good side, even if the candidate's ideology is antithetical to your own.
That last item is sometimes called "pay to play," but here's how Kathy Taylor described it to La Semana del Sur back around February 21: "’There are times, both in business and in politics, when you need a seat at the table,’ describing her contributions to members of the opposing party as a method of facilitating dialogue rather than an indication of ideological support." A pro-abortion-rights mayor could raise enough money to do serious damage to the current pro-life majority in the State Legislature.
There is an area of concern to pro-life voters that is directly the responsibility of local governments. Nationwide, Planned Parenthood chapters received $265 million in government funding according to its 2003-2004 annual report (PDF), the most recent annual report I could find on the Planned Parenthood Federation of America's website. Some of this comes directly from the federal government, but much of it comes through state, county, and municipal governments.
In 1996 and 1997, Tulsa Mayor Susan Savage and the Tulsa City Council gave part of the City's annual Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) to the local chapter of Planned Parenthood. CDBG money comes from the Federal Government but is allocated by city officials.
In 1996, Councilor Sam Roop was the lone voice objecting to the grant for Planned Parenthood's "It's Your Future" program, which includes "sexuality education." As a result of the 1998 elections, he was joined by two more pro-life councilors, Anna Falling and Brady Pringle, who successfully persuaded their colleagues to block the funding. Planned Parenthood has not received funding from Tulsa's CDBG allocation since then.
In 2004, a Planned Parenthood chapter in Broward County, Florida, sent teens in their summer program for training at an activist camp, then sent them to campaign and register voters door-to-door and to protest a visit by President Bush. The funding source for the program? A half-million dollar grant from Broward County's children's services administration.
As I wrote at the time, Planned Parenthood is usually more subtle than to ask for funding for direct activism. Money is fungible. Planned Parenthood chapters often apply for government grants to support innocuous programs, which helps pay operating overhead for the organization, and also enables them to shift donated funds toward controversial activities like abortion referrals and lobbying against pro-life legislation at the State Capitol. Government funding can even free up private donations to fund cartoons about blowing up pro-life protesters.
On the Urban Tulsa Weekly questionnaire, we asked candidates whether they would support CDBG money for controversial groups like Planned Parenthood. Mayor Bill LaFortune, Councilors-elect Rick Westcott (2) and John Eagleton (7), Councilor Jim Mautino (6), and non-incumbent general election candidates Cason Carter (9), Phil Kates (9), and Gerald Rapson (3) all said no, as did a number of defeated primary candidates. The other general election candidates didn't answer the question. (Roscoe Turner (3) replied but didn't directly address the question in his reply. We didn't ask the candidates for auditor to answer a questionnaire. The link above is to the council questionnaire reponses; the mayoral questionnaire responses will be online on Thursday.)
If you're a pro-life voter, don't lose sight of this facet of the character and principles of those who seek to serve you at City Hall.
Since the Whirled quoted me without asking -- don't worry, I won't sue -- I'll quote the Whirled, from this morning's paper:
Considering his harshest Republican critics for city posts is coincidental to Thursday's GOP endorsements of him, Mayor Bill LaFortune insisted Friday.
LaFortune may recommend Michael Bates for the city's planning commission, and he's considering Chris Medlock and Terry Simonson for city hall jobs.
Bates, Medlock and Simonson, all Republicans, have lambasted LaFortune and his policies.
Medlock, who was a serious mayoral challenger in the Republican primary, endorsed LaFortune on Thursday during a news conference, generating speculation that he had cut a deal with LaFortune.
After his endorsement, Medlock said if offered a job, he'd consider it.
By Friday morning, the names of Medlock, Bates and Simonson were being tossed about on talk radio and local blog sites as having possibly been offered posts.
LaFortune said Friday afternoon that "no promises" had been made for the three men in exchange for their support.
Such a promise would violate state law.
But there have been discussions all week about the endorsements and changes in his administration, LaFortune said.
Friday morning, Bates wrote on his blog site in defense of Medlock's endorsement, saying "there are no guarantees that LaFortune will follow through on his commitment to clean house and change his way, but there are some things he could do right away to show that he is in earnest about change. Foremost is to pull the reappointments of (Mary) Hill and (Brandon) Jackson to the TMAPC (Tulsa Metropolitan Area Planning Commission) and appoint some neighborhood/new urbanist minded replacements."
LaFortune said he did withdraw Hill's reappointment on Thursday, but not because of Bates. He said he wants to bring new people on board.
LaFortune admitted, however, that he has had discussion with Medlock about replacing Hill with Bates, saying "that may very well be my final decision."
He stressed Hill has served the city well on the commission.
There's more, but I'll stop there.
I was in a teleconference Wednesday afternoon with LaFortune, Medlock, and a few others. The focus was not on what it would take to get Medlock's endorsement, but what it would take for LaFortune to win back the confidence and the votes of Republicans who voted for Medlock and Miller in the primary. LaFortune reiterated his public statement that he intended to do a top-to-bottom review of his administration after the election.
I made the same point that I had already made on the radio -- promises of change after the election would not persuade Miller and Medlock supporters to vote for LaFortune. Endorsements would not persuade them to vote for LaFortune. He would have to take some credible, tangible actions before election day as an earnest, to show the voters that he means business. Since he's mayor now, he doesn't have to wait until after the election to take action.
No jobs were requested and no jobs were promised during this conversation. Not even a hint, a wink, or a "nudge, nudge, say no more." As the Whirled's story notes, and as LaFortune noted a couple of times in the discussion, that would be a violation of Oklahoma laws against bribery. Even if it were legal, the promise of a job after the election wouldn't be credible -- there would be no recourse if such a promise were broken.
We discussed a number of meaningful steps that LaFortune could take now. One of them had to do with two seats on the TMAPC that are up for appointment. Mary Hill and Brandon Jackson, both first appointed by Susan Savage in the late '90s, had been renominated and were scheduled for the March 28th Council committee meeting. LaFortune could withdraw those names and replace them with appointees who are neighborhood-oriented and knowledgeable about zoning and planning.
Medlock suggested three names to LaFortune. One of those names was mine. LaFortune balked. I left that meeting figuring nothing would come of it.
On Thursday, Medlock told me he had had further discussions with the Mayor. He told me that I needed to prepare a resumé, which he would take to the Mayor's office. I did so. (To clarify: It was an overview of my civic involvement pertinent to service on the planning commission, not an employment resumé. including my service on a couple of ad hoc city committees dealing with zoning, infill, and redevelopment, and my service as an officer in the Midtown Coalition of Neighborhood Associations. People who are considered for board or commission appointments are asked to submit a list of qualifications, which the Mayor's office sends on to the Council when making an appointment.)
So far, LaFortune has not told me that he intends to appoint me or not to appoint me. The Council committee agendas which were posted late Friday afternoon didn't have the reappointment of Hill or Jackson on the agenda, nor did they have any other name on the agenda for a TMAPC appointment. I haven't heard a thing from LaFortune or his people.
And that's where it stands.
By the way, being a planning commissioner doesn't pay a dime -- no salary, no benefits, no expenses. I don't think you even get free City Hall parking for the meetings.
It would be a burden and an inconvenience in some ways, but I have wanted to serve on the TMAPC for a long time, to help make our system of land use regulation work better for all Tulsans.
With a new comprehensive plan in the works and with both major mayoral candidates expressing support for form-based codes, this would be an especially fruitful time to serve on the TMAPC. The TMAPC will have a role in guiding the comprehensive plan update process. If the decision is made to make the transition from use-based to form-based codes, the TMAPC will have to find a way to make sure the transition process respects the investments that homeowners and other property owners have made under our city's current approach to land-use regulation. I think I'd do a fine job, and I would bring a lot of subject-matter knowledge and procedural knowledge to the table
I have not yet endorsed LaFortune for re-election. I won't until I see him take the kinds of bold, tangible actions I mentioned above, to show that he is serious about a fresh start in a second term. But if he does what he needs to do, I won't really need to make an endorsement; his actions will speak for themselves.
UPDATE: I've submitted the following as part of my column in this week's Urban Tulsa Weekly. It will be out Wednesday, but I thought the following needed to be said now:
Chris Medlock and I, among others, have told LaFortune that promises of change won't be enough. He has to take actions before the election that are bold enough to satisfy skeptical voters that he is in earnest.
One idea that was floated by Medlock was nominating me this week to the Tulsa Metropolitan Area Planning Commission (TMAPC) to fill one of two current vacancies. It would demonstrate LaFortune's openness to new approaches to land-use regulation, would put a strong voice for neighborhoods on the TMAPC, and would demonstrate LaFortune's independence from the developers, some of whom have an irrational fear of me.
Now I think I would make an excellent planning commissioner, which is an unpaid position. Fifteen years of civic involvement has prepared me for the job. I'd be committed to ensuring that our new Comprehensive Plan and a potential transition to form-based codes would be handled in a way that respects the investments that property owners have made under the current plan and use-based zoning code, while moving us to a system that helps us build the kind of quality of life we want for our city. But to avoid muddying the waters, I've taken my name off the table.
Jim Mautino could use your help today with his campaign for re-election in District 6. Volunteers are gathering at 10:00 a.m. at Jim's house, 14628 E. 12th St. (He lives in Tower Heights -- go east on 11th until you can pick up the KFAQ signal in your bridgework.) Call 437-2642 if you need directions, have questions, or are able to help at another time.
Mautino's opponent, Democrat Dennis Troyer, is actively campaigning, with the support of the guy Mautino beat two years ago. Troyer is very coy about his stands on the issues, while Mautino is straightforward and plainspoken.
To get you motivated, here's an endorsement of Jim Mautino from blogger and District 6 resident Steve Roemerman:
Few councilors, past or present, have worked harder for their district that Jim Mautino. This is good because few districts need as much help as District 6. District 6 is brimming over with un-tapped potential, potential that has been neglected for years. Since Jim has been in office, he has worked hard to bring about the infrastructure that is so desperately needed to develop that potential.
If you spend 5 minutes with Jim you’ll hear a lot of sewer talk. Not foul language but talk of sanitary sewer lines, then you’ll hear a lot of talk about water lines, followed by a lot of talk about improving streets. He is passionate about improving the infrastructure in East Tulsa because Jim knows that infrastructure spurs development, and development spurs economic growth. Despite stiff opposition Mautino’s hard work has paid off. Jim has brought sewer lines to East Tulsa businesses that were threatening to leave because they were still operating on sewage lagoons. When Jim is not working on acquiring water or sewer he is working on our streets. Jim drives all over District 6 taking pictures of poor road conditions, dangerous intersections, and car wrecks.
All that hard work has paid off. It is Jim Mautino’s tenacity that has brought 28 million dollars of new project dollars through the 2006 Third Penny Sales Tax.
I agree with everything Steve says. Jim Mautino is passionate about making good development happen in District 6. Not only that, he's been a loyal partner to councilors in north and west Tulsa -- other areas often overlooked at City Hall -- to help them get the assistance they needed. He's a stalwart supporter of transparency and openness in government and works for fair treatment for all sides in zoning issues, especially for homeowners whose concerns don't always get the consideration they deserve.
I grew up just outside the city limits near District 6, then lived in the district, where my parents still live. Jim Mautino is the first real representation the district has ever had, and the most zealous of the best interests of the whole city. We need him back in office. Please give him a few hours of your time and some money, too, to help get the word out.
I've heard, by e-mail and on comments here, from a lot of people who are impressed with what Benford Faulk, Independent candidate for mayor, has to say on the issues. He's been called the only real conservative in the race, and there seem to be many Medlock voters who have decided to support Faulk in the general election.
The situation reminds me a lot of the 1992 presidential election, when many Republicans backed Ross Perot because George Bush Sr. had gone back on his "No New Taxes" pledge.
Here's my question: I've looked in vain for biographical info on Faulk's website. There's a lot about his positions and opinions, but there's no mention of family, where he grew up, where he went to college, work history, where he's from, how long he's lived in Tulsa, his religious or civic affiliations. Those are the basic resumé details an employer would expect from anyone seeking a job, along with references from those who have known him for a while.
This is as much as I could find, on a letter to the media from December:
I am a 59-year-old white male with a BS degree in business and 28 years experience in accounting and auditing.
Oklahoma Teaching Certificate
I'm guessing that many of you who support Faulk have talked to him personally and have learned some of these details. Can you fill in the gaps? Feel free to post a comment below or e-mail me at blog at batesline dot com.
At a midday press conference on Thursday at Tulsa County Republican Headquarters, Chris Medlock announced his endorsement of Mayor Bill LaFortune for re-election. Brigitte Harper, who finished fourth in the GOP mayoral primary, sent a statement of endorsement as well. Randi Miller, who finished third, told KRMG news that she didn't intend to make an endorsement.
There's been a fair amount of outrage over this, some from Medlock's supporters, but most of it from people who didn't support him in the first place. Over on the TulsaNow forum, in response to someone who said my head would explode over the endorsement, I wrote this:
My head hasn't exploded, and it won't. Every Tulsan who backed Medlock, Miller, or McCorkell has to decide who will get his or her vote in the general election. Staying home is an option, too, but in the absence of polling data showing high undecideds and Faulk above 20%, I believe that either LaFortune or Taylor will be the next mayor. So those are our options.
Medlock has concluded that a chastened LaFortune who is no longer beholden to the World and the Chamber (because they've abandoned him for Taylor), combined with a strong reform-minded Council, is better for the city than Taylor's management-by-intimidation style and the return of Susan Savage's crew.
Of course, there are no guarantees that LaFortune will follow through on his commitment to clean house and change his ways, but there are some things he could do right away to show that he is in earnest about change. Foremost is to pull the reappointments of Hill and Jackson to the TMAPC and appoint some neighborhood/new urbanist minded replacements. He could also dissolve his commission on city government, or else allow the councilors to appoint members to that body. He could endorse the charter changes on the April 4 ballot. He could announce that he will put the city's convention and tourism contract up for competitive bid this year. In a nutshell, he has to show he's willing to cross the very interests he says he is no longer beholden to.
You'll never vote for a perfect candidate, and sometimes you don't even have a good choice, but you still have a choice to make. Medlock has made his choice, and it's not an unreasonable one.
Medlock will be on KFAQ tomorrow morning at 7:40.
To those Medlock supporters who are screaming "Betrayal!" over this decision, I want you to think about what he and his family have endured over the last three years. He stood on principle and was attacked for it, and nevertheless he held his ground. He ran against his party's incumbent. When he was pressured to drop out and make way for Randi Miller, he stayed in. He didn't make an endorsement the day after the primary. I think he has earned the benefit of the doubt.
Way back in 1976, Ronald Reagan challenged Gerald Ford for the Republican presidential nomination. Ford was ineffective in both domestic and foreign policy, and Reagan was blistering in his criticism of Ford's competence. Nowadays, we'd call Ford a RINO -- a Republican in name only -- although back then, before the influx of Reagan conservatives into the party's grassroots, Ford's support of Keynesian economics, détente, and abortion were pretty mainstream.
Reagan stayed in the race all the way to the Republican National Convention. He even announced Richard Schweiker, a liberal Republican from Pennsylvania, as his proposed running-mate in an attempt to sway enough delegates to win the nomination. When he fell short, Reagan endorsed Ford, but not without getting Ford to drop Nelson Rockefeller, a liberal, from the ticket and replace him with Bob Dole, a pro-life conservative.
After the balloting, President Ford called me down to the platform. Nancy and I went and I asked the delegates to make the vote unanimous for Ford and pledged my support for him. It was an exciting and unforgettable evening.
After Gerald Ford won the nomination in Kansas City, I met with the members of the California delegation and said: "Nancy and I are not going back and sit on our rocking chairs and say, 'That's all for us.'"
Nancy was among those in the room that day with tears in her eyes. She had never tried to influence me, one way of the other, whether I should run for president, but I knew she felt a great sadness for me. She knew how much I hated to lose. In her heart, though, I think Nancy may have felt a sense of relief. Now we could go home and get on with the rest of our lives.
But I think we both knew it wouldn't -- couldn't -- end in Kansas City. After committing ten years of our lives to what we believed in, I just couldn't walk away and say, "I don't care any more."
After the convention, I campaigned in more than twenty states for President Ford....-- Ronald Reagan, An American Life, p. 202-203
After losing the nomination Reagan had a decision to make, and he concluded that as ineffective as Ford had been, Carter would be worse. Turned out he was right. Helping Ford didn't make Reagan any less principled; like plenty of other politicians he made the best of the situation. Reagan's campaigning wasn't enough to save Ford, although it turned out to be a very close race -- 50-48 in the popular vote, and 297 to 240 in the Electoral College.
I'm too tired to write right now, but fortunately, I'm not the only one writing:
Re: Whirled's endorsement of Taylor -- Chris Medlock told LaFortune so over a year ago; LaFortune just remembered.
Mad Okie found a Quigmans cartoon that cuts a little too close to home. And he's got an illustration of Tulsa's April 4 choices -- from the Emerald City to the Magic Empire.
Dan Paden considers his alternatives and figures he's "hosed" either way.
TulTellitarian thinks Bill Martinson was left to twist in the wind by his fellow Cockroach Caucasians and believes that his District 5 opponent Jon Kirby is the Good Ol' Boys new choice for the seat. Interesting theory. Kirby's campaign is being run in tandem with that of District 6 Democrat Dennis Troyer, who is without a doubt the GOB choice in that district.
Independent candidate Ben Faulk has responded to meeciteewurkor's questions about the treatment of
citee wurkors city workers.
Our Tulsa World has a list of 1998 Susan Savage contributors that bears a striking resemblance to Kathy Taylor's 2006 contributor list.
TulsaNow has a thread that explains why we need neighborhood conservation district zoning in Tulsa -- a developer is replacing the old Claiborne's Sinclair Station at 35th & Peoria with a Starbucks and a Pei Wei Diner, and the new building will have the parking at the street, instead of matching the Brookside pattern of having the building come up to the sidewalk. Unfortunately, both District 9 council candidates oppose neighborhood conservation district zoning and design guidelines in the zoning code.
This week's Urban Tulsa Weekly column reviews the four Tulsa City Council races on the general election ballot: Incumbent Roscoe Turner vs. Gerald Rapson in District 3, Maria Barnes vs. Robert Bartlett for the open District 4 seat, incumbent Bill Martinson vs. Jon Kirby in District 5, incumbent James Mautino vs. Dennis Troyer in District 6, and Cason Carter vs. Phil Kates for the open District 9 seat.
(Added on September 30, 2006, to fill in the gaps in my Urban Tulsa Weekly column archive.)
Click the link to hear Windows Media streaming audio of the Downtown Kiwanis Club debate between mayoral candidates Bill LaFortune and Kathy Taylor.
District 6 City Councilor Jim Mautino will have a town hall meeting tomorrow evening, Wednesday, March 22, at 6:30 p.m., at Martin East Regional Library, 26th & Garnett.
Here's the agenda, according to Mautino's website:
- So that you may have the opportunity to make an informed decision about who you want to be your voice at City Hall
- Short informational powerpoint presentation on the 3rd penny sales tax extension
- What street, water, and sewer projects are in the works and what is proposed
- What can be done for all of us to feel safer and what can be done to improve our streets
- What are our options regarding Eastland Mall
- "From the Floor" Question and Answer Session covering all your areas of concern -- Questions will NOT be prescreened
Jim is in a tough race, and he could use your help to get the word out about his accomplishments as a City Councilor. Call 437-2642 to volunteer. If you have friends and family in District 6, encourage them to support Jim and to attend tomorrow night's Town Hall. (Click here to see a map of the district.)
UPDATE: Volunteers will be walking neighborhoods on Saturday to hand out campaign material for Jim Mautino. To help out, meet Saturday at 10:00 a.m. at Jim's house, 14628 E. 12th St.
My column this week is about the six Tulsa city charter amendments on the April 4 ballot, and why you should vote FOR all six.
I wrote a column about these amendments, and those that didn't make the cut, back in November, right after the amendments had been approved for the ballot. It's instructive to see which councilors supported and which opposed each one.
At TulsaNow's forum, there's a lively discussion about the need for Proposition 1, which would allow the Council to hire legal help independent of the City Attorney's office. Michelle Cantrell (posting as "pmcalk") makes some excellent points.
Jarrod Gollihare has the first in a series of stories about charismatic universalist preacher Carlton Pearson.
UTW's new city reporter, Ginger Shepherd, has a story about the proposed sprinkler ordinance for residential high-rises and another story about a dispute between Community Care College and students over the school's veterinary program.
The cover features the poker craze, and Barry Friedman reports from an illegal private game and from the casinos.
Wonder whatever happened to KTUL sports director Mike Ziegenhorn? So did David Austin, who spoke to Zig and his old boss at KTUL.
From the "What were they thinking?" department:
This photo, by Steve Roemerman, doesn't quite capture the inept design of this yardsign, produced by the anonymous opponents of the zoning protest petition charter amendment, which won by a huge margin on Tuesday.
So what we have here is a sign the color of dormant Bermuda grass, planted on dormant Bermuda grass.
And white lettering on yellow? Did they intend for us to hold it over a candle so we could read it?
Then there was the message of the sign. If you could make out the words at 40 MPH, what you read was "VOTE NO ONE." Maybe we can recycle those signs for the mayoral general election, as it expresses my sentiments pretty well.
The sign designer might want to consult a sample ballot next time around. There wasn't a "Proposition One" on the ballot (just a single item labeled "Proposition"), and the choices were FOR or AGAINST, not YES or NO.
One of the disappointments of election night for me was not being able to celebrate with all of my friends who were on Tuesday's ballot. John Eagleton's win was a long-time coming -- third time's a charm. Rick Westcott told me he played Western Swing music at the victory party at his house. Steve Roemerman has a couple of photos of Jim Mautino at his victory party. David Schuttler has a photo of Roscoe Turner's celebration cake (along with links to images of David Patrick's last minute slimy ad).
What little time I spent at a watch party was spent at the Chris Medlock party at the Embers Steakhouse, but after a short time there, I headed down to the Tulsa County Election Board to get a clearer picture of the results as they came in. But more about that later.
My election day started at 6:45 a.m., at Bethany Christian Church on Sheridan between 61st and 71st, the polling place of precinct 171. I had volunteered to be a poll watcher for the Medlock campaign. In some states, poll watchers spend the day at the precinct, but that's not permitted in Oklahoma.
Instead, Oklahoma poll watchers observe the setup and shutdown procedures as they are carried out by the poll watchers. Before the polls opened, I was sworn in by the precinct judge:
Do you solemnly swear or affirm that you will abide by all laws and rules prescribed for Watchers and that you will limit yourself to observing the voting device before the polls are opened and after the polls are closed?
I looked in the ballot box to observe that it was empty, noted that the count on the Optech III-P Eagle scanner was at 0000, and looked at the paper-tape printout, which showed a zero count for ballots and for all candidates.
I made a note of the ballot numbers to be used in that day's voting: Democrat ballots numbered 38301-38700, Republican ballots numbered 9901-10900, and non-partisan ballots numbered 28201-28400. When the ballots were set up on the table, I noted the first ballot to be used in each category.
When I returned at about 6:50 p.m., I chatted with the precinct worker whose job it was to process provisional ballots while I waited for the polls to close. If someone had shown up to vote and his name wasn't found in the sign-in book, he would be allowed to vote a provisional ballot, sealed in an envelope with an affidavit. If necessary in a close election, the voter's claim to being properly registered would be examined, and if valid, the vote would be counted. Precinct 171 didn't have any provisional voters.
At closing time, I noted the next unused ballot number for the three ballot types: Democrat 38406, Republican 10185, and non-partisan 28212. That means that 105 Democrat ballots, 284 Republican ballots, and 11 non-partisan ballots were issued, for a total of 400 ballots. The number on the machine -- 398. Two ballots, one Democrat, on Republican, were spoiled -- messed up by the voter, exchanged for a clean ballot, and never inserted into the scanner. The precinct officials ran two results tapes -- one for the door, one to return to the county election board -- bundled up the ballots, packed up the equipment, and filled out the forms, noting the number of spoiled ballots and the next ballot number.
The Republican mayoral results were LaFortune 114, Miller 67, Medlock 97, Harper 3, plus 2 undervotes (no candidate marked for that race). For the Council primary, Magee 123, Christiansen 146, and 14 undervotes. In the Democrat mayoral primary, Taylor 81, McCorkell 21, 2 undervotes. The charter change passed 260-126, with two undervotes.
So everything balanced perfectly: the ballot numbers, the scanner count display and the number of ballots counted in each race. 284 Republican ballots were issued and 283 Republican ballots were counted, plus one spoiled GOP ballot. 105 Democrat ballots were issued, 104 were counted, and one was spoiled. In total, 400 ballots were issued, 398 counted, and two were spoiled. 1807 voters are registered in precinct 171, so the turnout was 22%.
There are deficiencies in Oklahoma election law: the possibility of duplicate voter registrations between counties and states, voters not keeping their registration address up-to-date, and no requirement to show photo ID when voting. But once a ballot is issued, Oklahoma has one of the most accurate systems for counting the votes, with a manual backup in the form of paper ballots, so that we're not completely dependent on electronics.
The Optech scanners are getting close to 20 years old, and there are occasional problems with tape jams and defective data packs. (One precinct's data pack erroneously credited Democratic mayoral candidate James O. Desmond with 10,000 votes.) It's probably time for the state to look at new scanners with more capabilities, including the capacity to handle instant runoff voting, but we ought to stick with optically-scanned paper ballots.
When I filed this week's column Monday morning, I had no way of knowing the final result, but I felt certain that whoever won the Republican nomination for Mayor would win without a majority of the vote. I thought that was the optimum time to write about the advantages of instant runoff voting without drawing complaints that it was an exercise in sour grapes.
For what it's worth, I've proposed instant runoff voting at least twice during the City Council's charter review process held every two years.
You'll find more information about instant runoff voting at FairVote, which reports that Burlington, Vermont, used IRV to elect their mayor this last Tuesday.
And here's the Burlington Votes website, with a helpful and thorough set of answers to frequently-asked questions, the results of the two rounds of the mayoral election, a sample ballot, and, for election nerds, a text representation of each ballot and the open-source software used to count the ballots.
Also, this week's Urban Tulsa Weekly has a story by Ginger Shepherd about Maurice Kanbar and Henry Kaufman's plans for downtown Tulsa. And Gretchen Collins talks to the two Portland-based investors who hope to convert the Towerview Apartments into lofts.
That latter story is very encouraging, but the most discouraging note is that city officials and the head of Downtown Tulsa Unlimited tried to talk them out of doing anything with the building. It's a shame our local yokels don't seem to understand that good, urban downtowns are built, renovated, and redeveloped one lot, one building at a time. When you start talking about whole blocks or superblocks or (heaven forbid) acres devoted to a single use, you're not talking about an urban streetscape any more, but transplanted suburbia.
The Towerview is the building that city officials have targeted for condemnation to make way for a hotel across the street from the arena. There's no reason that a hotel can't coexist with a restored Towerview and other new buildings besides. The Crowne Plaza takes up about a half-block, the Mayo a quarter-block, the old Holiday Inn/Ramada about a third of a block. Even the Doubletree, able to sprawl a bit because it's built on urban renewal land, would fit in less than a full block.
Here are a couple TulsaNow forum topics about the Towerview:
An edited version of this piece was published in the March 8, 2006, issue of Urban Tulsa Weekly. The archived version is no longer online. Posted on the web July 1, 2010.
The case for Instant Runoff Voting
By Michael D. Bates
The polls haven't even opened as I write this, but by the time you read this, the votes will have been counted.
Let me make this one prediction: Whoever wins the Republican nomination for Mayor will win with less than a 50% of the vote. Whoever the winner will be wasn't the top choice of a majority of Republican voters.
As I write this, I don't know if my favorite candidate won or lost, so this isn't sour grapes. I believe in majority rule, and there's something wrong about a candidate winning when most of the voters preferred someone else. Instead of the office going to the candidate who could put together a majority coalition of voters, it goes to the candidate with the most motivated, cohesive minority bloc of voters.
For state offices, Oklahoma deals with this problem by holding a primary runoff election if the primary doesn't produce a candidate with at least 50% of the vote. Tulsa's city charter doesn't provide for a runoff, and in special elections, Tulsa doesn't even have party primaries.
When a primary has three or more viable candidates, and there is no runoff, the voter is faced with a difficult choice. He may have a favorite candidate, other candidates that might be marginally acceptable, and a candidate he doesn't want to win. Does his favorite have a chance to win? If not, it might be more strategic to vote for a marginally acceptable candidate with a chance of winning in order to defeat the utterly unacceptable candidate.
At that point, the problem is knowing who really has a chance to win. You could look to polls, but if the numbers between second and third place are close, that doesn't help your decision. You could try to measure candidate viability by the number of dollars raised and spent.
Wouldn't it be nice to have a system of voting that allowed you to vote your conscience, a system that didn't require you to guess how your neighbors are likely to vote?
Hold that thought.
Adding a runoff for city elections would be a good start. A single runoff works well when you have two candidates neck-and-neck in the 40% range, and a group of other candidates splitting the rest of the vote. The primary reveals who the two most popular candidates are; the runoff settles the question, for whom would you vote if these were the only candidates in the race.
But a single runoff breaks down when you have three or more candidates who are clustered around 30%, with other candidates splitting the remainder.
The legendary example of this situation was the 1991 Governor's race in Louisiana. Incumbent governor Buddy Roemer, a moderate and respectable political figure, finished a very close third, giving voters a runoff choice between "The Crook" (Edwin Edwards) and "The Klansman" (David Duke). The also-ran candidates had enough votes between them that, had they not been in the race, would have been enough to put Roemer in first or second place and into the runoff.
There are plenty of Oklahoma examples of close three-or-more-way primaries where the single runoff system broke down. In 1990 both parties had gubernatorial primaries with three closely bunched candidates and a lot of also-rans. Burns Hargis might well have placed second in the GOP primary had it been a three man race. For the Democrats, Steve Lewis easily could have finished ahead of David Walters and Wes Watkins, if a couple of minor candidates had not been in the race.
Wouldn't it be nice to have a system of voting where there is no such thing as a spoiler candidate or splitting the vote? Where the winner would have won even in a one-on-one race with each other candidate?
Of course it would.
In the ideal system, you'd have a series of runoffs, and in each round, you'd eliminate the lowest vote-getter and vote on the rest, until someone gets 50% of the vote in a round.
Some civic organizations handle their elections in this way, but that's because they can count their votes in a matter of minutes and hold another round of voting right away. It would be burdensome enough to add a runoff election date to the city election calendar, much less multiple runoffs.
There is a way to get the effect of multiple runoff rounds without having the expense of multiple elections. Historically it's been called the "alternative vote," but recently it's been given the more descriptive name of "instant runoff voting" (IRV).
I first encountered this voting technique in my college fraternity. When voting in an election with multiple candidates, you'd write the candidates' names on the ballot in order of preference. As a voter, you'd ask yourself, if my favorite candidate weren't in the race, for whom would I vote? And if my two favorites were out, who would be my choice? And so on through the list of candidates.
The vote counters would take all the ballots to the table in the chapter room, and for each candidate there'd be a stack of the ballots that had his name marked as first choice. If no candidate had a majority, they would take the smallest stack of ballots - eliminating the candidate with the fewest first choice votes - and sort them into the other stacks based on the second choice listed. The process would repeat until one candidate had a majority of the ballots in his stack.
Xi Chapter of Zeta Beta Tau, I later learned, isn't the only place that instant runoff voting is used. Ireland uses IRV to elect its president. Australia uses it to elect its House of Representatives. London uses it to elect a mayor.
In 2002, the Utah Republican Convention used IRV to pick the top two candidates to compete in their congressional primary election in two districts and to pick a nominee for the third district.
Right here in Tulsa, the 1st District Republican Convention used instant runoff voting to choose delegates and alternates to the 2000 and 2004 Republican National Conventions.
San Francisco has adopted IRV. San Diego is looking at it - their last mayor was elected with only 35% of the vote.
Although our fraternity hand-counted our IRV ballots, modern voting machine technology makes it possible to scan preferential ballots optically and then conduct the sorting, elimination, and resorting by computer.
Some sort of runoff will become even more important if Tulsa ever switches to non-partisan elections. As it is now, primaries present general election voters with two candidates with a credible chance to win, and most officials are elected with over 50% of the vote.
We don't have to guess about the dynamics of a non-partisan winner-take-all election, because our city special elections are structured that way.
Last May's District 5 special election had seven candidates, four of whom had a significant base of support. The winner, Bill Martinson, only managed 29% of the vote, just 11 votes ahead of second-place finisher Andy Phillips. Based on the results, you could make the case that Martinson would not have won head-to-head races against any of the other major candidates; the split vote gave him the election.
Without a runoff, non-partisan city elections would give us a set of elected officials who lack the mandate of the majority.
Adopting IRV would require some changes to the City Charter, but since we're already taking another look at the charter and at the role of partisanship in city elections, let's not overlook the voting system we use.
Forgive me if I'm a bit terse tonight. I'll be up again early to slice and dice the election results on 1170 KFAQ, starting at about 6:10.
I'm encouraged, and I'm disappointed. It looks like we're going to have a very solid City Council, but the prospects for mayoral leadership are bleak.
Jack Henderson is back, and Roscoe Turner and Jim Mautino won renomination despite big money behind their opponents. Don't know how active a campaign Roscoe's Republican opponent will run, but it's a heavily Democrat district.
District 6 is more evenly divided, and Mautino's Democrat general election opponent has a very similar background to Jim's -- longtime American Airlines employee, active member of the TWU. Jim's right-hand campaign man has been sidelined, taking care of an ailing family member, so Jim will need help, and I plan to do what I can to help him win re-election.
Congratulations to Councilors-elect Rick Westcott and John Eagleton! Westcott beat the last minute slime attack from well-financed Paul Prather in the race to succeed Chris Medlock as District 2's councilor.
Eagleton won District 7 on his third try, with over 70% of the vote. He got slimed as well -- Zarley's campaigners would tell anti-recall voters that Eagleton was LaFortune's puppet and would tell pro-recall voters that Eagleton was Medlock's puppet. Anyone who knows John knows that he's nobody's puppet.
Maria Barnes had a clear majority in her District 4 race against a much better financed opponent. Cason Carter beat Jeff "Code Violation" Stava in District 9. They will both likely prevail in their general elections.
I'm sad that Cliff Magee fell short in District 8, but considering how quickly he put together a campaign, how he was outspent, and his lack of prior campaign experience, he should feel proud of the race he ran, and he shouldn't hesitate to try again in the future.
What about Al Nichols, Kent Morlan, and Rick Brinkley? You can't win if you don't campaign, at least not if you lack a famous name.
In driving around District 5, I saw that Jon Kirby had tons of yard signs out. He's active in the unions and clearly had their help. I'm not aware of any effort Al Nichols made to campaign.
None of the District 4 Republicans seemed to be campaigning. But wait, you say -- Brinkley and Morlan were at all these forums. Well, most voters don't go to forums. Neither Brinkley nor Morlan sent a postcard or a phone call to our house. I didn't see any Brinkley yard signs until yesterday. So when District 4 Republican voters went to the polls, they voted for the familiar name -- Bartlett -- a guy who unofficially withdrew from the race a month ago.
Of the ten Council candidates I endorsed for nomination, seven won their races. (I didn't make an endorsement in the District 5 Republican race.) Jim Burdge's candidates won two primaries and lost four, plus his "vote no" campaign got trounced. I don't have the full list of the Whirled's endorsements, but of the eight I can recall, they only won two.
I've got to stop now. Tune in tomorrow morning, 6:10 a.m., 1170 KFAQ for more, or catch me on the replay.
Just posted this at the TulsaNow forum, but I'll post it here in hopes of getting more participation:
Given estimates of a record turnout today, I'm curious to know what is getting people to the polls, so I'm starting this thread to ask:
Do you know of anyone who has received a reminder to vote today?
Was it by phone or e-mail?
What organization was behind the reminder, and were they pushing a particular candidate or slate of candidates?
I'll start: I received e-mails from two friends who are active in the GOP and have large e-mail lists -- one was forwarding my writeup in support of the charter amendment, and the other was urging support for Medlock, Westcott, Brinkley, Mautino, Eagleton, Magee, Carter, and a "for" vote on the proposition.
What about you? Post a comment!
More grist for the undecided: Last week on KWGS's Studio Tulsa, Rich Fisher interviewed the five major candidates for Mayor. Rich Fisher always does a fine job of interviewing his guests, and although I haven't heard these shows, I'm sure they are interesting and worth listening to.
This morning KFAQ opened its doors to the five major candidates to come on the air and take calls from listeners. Only two accepted: Chris Medlock and Don McCorkell. If you're the sort who finds Michael DelGiorno's passionate delivery tough to take, you won't hear that today. Instead, you'll hear DelGiorno leading a discussion with McCorkell and Medlock, talking specifics about the issues and responding to questions from callers. Council District 2 candidate Rick Westcott was on in the 8 a.m. hour.
As DelGiorno pointed out, if a candidate won't be accessible when he or she is seeking election, he or she won't be accessible once in office. Medlock and McCorkell have accepted every opportunity to talk to the media, including hostile media; LaFortune, Miller, and Taylor have avoided situations that might require them to speak off the cuff or answer uncomfortable questions.
The show will repeat all day online, starting at 9 a.m., 12:30 p.m., and 4:00 p.m. Click here to get set up to listen. (You'll need to use Internet Explorer to make the setup process work, if you've never listened to KFAQ online before.)
In District 2, Paul Prather's last minute campaign postcard, which hit mailboxes today, features misleading personal attacks against his opponent, Rick Westcott. On his website, Westcott responds to the attacks with specificity. If you live in District 2, or know someone who does, please read his response. Rick is a good man, he'll be a great councilor, and he deserves better than Prather's slime tactics.
In District 6, Theresa Buchert sent out a letter distorting Jim Mautino's record to portray him as anti-growth, when the reality is that Mautino has worked hard to encourage growth and development in District 6. Larry Wilson of Citizens for Fair and Clean Government posted a response which is pretty harsh in tone, but he rebuts the attacks on Mautino.
On his own website, Jim Mautino has posted his flyer and a letter from his wife. Both pieces talk about what he has done to encourage quality development in east Tulsa. His biggest obstacle has been the Public Works Department, which seems more interested in encouraging development in the suburbs than developing the rest of Tulsa. Theresa Buchert's husband Mike is assistant director of the Public Works Department.
Jim Burdge is the campaign consultant by appointment to the Cockroach Caucus. He led the failed recall attempt against Jim Mautino and Chris Medlock, and he is renowned in Republican circles for his last minute slime attacks. He has been connected with campaigns for Prather, Buchert, Zarley in District 7, Stava in District 9, Martinson in District 5, and Christiansen in District 8. There's a certain style to the postcards he designs -- almost always a yard sign image covering the whole of one side -- and he consistently uses a mail house with bulk rate permit number 2146. (Other consultants use the same mail house.) The "vote no" postcards, regarding the zoning petition charter change, look very much like his handiwork.
If you don't like these slimy tactics, the best way to deter them in the future is to defeat the candidates who use them.
Other Tulsa bloggers have been busy with election coverage, too, so if you're doing your last-minute research before voting, be sure to visit these websites. You can also find links to the last 10 days' worth of posts for all of the following blogs on the Tulsa bloggers headlines page.
Tulsa Topics: At the top of his blog you'll find links to his collection of candidate websites, a printable election bracket, and audio of the TulsaNow mayoral forum. He has posted his endorsements, some info about the charter change proposition, video of the District 9 candidate forum and a key clip from a District 2 forum, and if you scroll down, you'll find some very funny doctored photos, including his infamous Tulsa Inquiry covers.
Our Tulsa World: A ton of video from various candidate forums and events, like the Kathy Taylor vote fraud press conference, and, most recently, some interesting info about how much help Kathy Taylor's husband's company, Vanguard, got from the state to move to Oklahoma, and the joint fight by the Lortons and the Lobeck-Taylors to fight their Tulsa County property tax bill.
Living on Tulsa Time: Mad Okie has posted his picks in the Mayor and City Council races, considers the implications of the possible combinations of outcomes, writes on the charter proposition, and has more funny photoshops involving Kathy Taylor.
MeeCiteeWurkor: Mee and his guest blogger, TulTellitarian, have some thoughtful posts about the bigger picture in this year's election.
Steve Roemerman has been writing about District 6 and the various Kathy Taylor controversies, has photos of the pro-police rally, and a report from St. Augustine School's candidate forum.
Citizens for Fair and Clean Government: You'll find some sharply worded commentary on the election, particularly on the District 6 race.
Homeowners for Fair Zoning's newslog has recommendations for each race and on the charter amendment.
Joe Kelley has a sensible commentary on campaigns going negative.
Dan Paden offers his personal reflections on the big news in the mayoral campaigns.
Brian Biggs writes about the Republican debate and provides a collection of quick observations -- including one about candidates wearing makeup.
KWHB (UHF channel 47, Cox cable channel 7) will replay their Democratic and Republican primary debates tonight at 8 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Both debates were well-run, and the candidates did not receive the questions in advance, so you see a side of the candidates you wouldn't see in a more stage-managed event.
Route 66 News has a writeup of the candidate forum sponsored by the Route 66 Business League of Tulsa. It's interesting to read how candidates for Mayor and Council addressed the city's impact on Route 66 on matters like eminent domain (the threat of which is allowing the University of Tulsa to chase off the Metro Diner) and neon signage (our ordinances aren't neon friendly), as well as the $15 million in Vision 2025 money allocated for Route 66 improvements.
This morning on KFAQ's "Heartland" with Bruce Delay, I was talking about city council candidates, and I started to describe some of them as neighborhood leaders, but what I called them instead was "neighborhood servants." That's a very apt description of Maria Barnes (running in the Democrat District 4 primary), as well as Councilor Roscoe Turner (Democrat-3), Councilor Jim Mautino (Republican-6), and and candidate Al Nichols (Democrat-5).
These people rose to leadership in their neighborhoods because of their willingness to serve. As neighbors had problems with code enforcement, crime, zoning issues -- anything involving City Hall -- these neighborhood servants volunteered their time, knowledge, and expertise to resolve the problems.
In somewhat different ways, I see the same servant's heart at work in Rick Westcott (Republican-2) and John Eagleton (Republican-7). Rick gave of his time and talent last summer to head off the recall attempt. Rick also has given his time to service on the Sales Tax Overview Committee, the Community Development Block Grant committee, and various southwest Tulsa community organizations. John Eagleton donates his considerable barbecue skills for charity fundraisers and for neighborhood and church parties. (That's barbecue as in seasoned meat cooking in a gigantic smoker, not burgers over charcoal.) They're both attorneys, but they don't put on airs, and they're not hesitant to get their hands dirty and pitch in in whatever way is needed.
Cliff Magee (Republican-8) I don't know as well, but I know of his service as president of a different kind of neighborhood -- the Jones Riverside association, representing the interests of those who use the airport -- and his involvement in the Tulsa Air and Space Museum.
(This isn't meant to be an exhaustive list. I'm sure similar things could be said of other candidates.)
I see a combination in these people of a willingness to devote time and energy to helping their neighbors, and the expertise in dealing with City Hall to be effective in that pursuit. That's good preparation for being a City Councilor.
I had posted this on the Tulsa Now forum, and I thought it was worth posting here as well. It was in response to someone who said I was against Jack Wing solely on the basis of his mailer, which I criticized in my column:
I used Wing's letter as a "hook" to criticize similar themes that many candidates are using this year. I've heard good character testimonials about Wing from people who have worked with him, I enjoy listening to his Boston accent, and I feel a kinship with anyone who has the guts to run for office without shaving off his beard. But I strongly endorsed Maria Barnes in the Democratic primary, because she is far more qualified for the job.
... Maria has exactly the kind of resume you'd hope for in a District 4 candidate. She's well-known and well-respected around City Hall. She's the only candidate with an up-to-date and direct working knowledge of neighborhood planning, zoning, urban redevelopment and eminent domain, code enforcement -- all key aspects of city government for district 4 neighborhoods. She understands the kind of support neighborhoods need from a City Councilor. Her work on the human rights commission and various citizen/police department committees is valuable experience, too.
My endorsement of Morlan in the Republican primary was and is somewhat tentative. I wish I could be an enthusiastic supporter of Brinkley's because he is a good guy, does good work with the BBB and civic groups, but he would go into the office as a kind of blank slate on city issues. Also, he doesn't own a home in Tulsa -- he rents an apartment in University Club Tower -- although he does own a small house in Collinsville.
Morlan isn't the most charming fellow, and I don't agree with every position he has taken, but at least he has bothered to engage the issues and to go on record. An attorney friend who has dealt with him says he's solid, honorable, if a bit of a bulldog. Morlan has city government experience, although it isn't recent. He is a homeowner, involved in his homeowners' association, and is a business owner in downtown, and that would be a useful perspective to have on the Council.
I was disappointed that both Brinkley and Morlan came out against the charter change that would restore the zoning protest petition supermajority, and particularly disappointed with Brinkley's reasoning. I hope they'll both reexamine the issue. It's not my sole issue by any means, but it reveals how they may understand and approach related land use issues.
Wing had expressed opposition to the change at an earlier forum, but [at the Renaissance Neighborhood forum] he said he supported the change. Barnes has been aware of the issue since it emerged two years' ago, when the City Attorney struck down the protest petition ordinance, and she understands why it's important for homeowners to get that protection back.
If you want to read for yourself what Morlan has to say about the issues, visit his website.
Tomorrow (Sunday) morning, I'll be on Bruce Delay's "Heartland" talk show, on 1170 KFAQ from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. We'll be talking about why Christians ought to be concerned about local politics and about some Biblical principles that apply in that arena.
A couple of things I've written that touch on the same broad subject:
- My November 2, 2005, Urban Tulsa Weekly column on faith and political courage
- A link to and comments about a PCA magazine article on urban design and the kingdom of God
And here's a link to my complete archive of stories on Tulsa's 2006 election.
Click the link to download a 4.8 MB MP3 file with audio of the District 4 candidate forum held by Renaissance Neighborhood Association on February 28, 2006. The audio is 42 minutes long. All five active candidates were there: Democrats Maria Barnes, Charles McKinnon, and John Wing, Republicans Rick Brinkley and Kent Morlan.
The audio quality is awful because of a noisy ventilation fan, and because the candidates did not use a microphone through most of the forum. I tried to filter out the fan noise in the version I've posted.
To help you distinguish the various voices: Wing has a Boston accent, Barnes is the only female voice, Brinkley has a very well-modulated speaking voice, Morlan has a bit of a twang. At the beginning of the recording, you'll hear Eric Gomez, president-elect of Renaissance Neighborhood Association and 2004 Republican nominee for the seat.
So we're told there's a Cathy-with-a-C Taylor, an attorney, who ran into all sorts of problems trying to vote in 2000, and who has been put forward by the Kathy-with-a-K Taylor campaign as their explanation as to why voter records show that Kathy-with-a-K voted in person at Tulsa County Precinct 70 on November 7, 2000, a week or so after she had mailed in her Broward County, Florida, absentee ballot. (As you'll see below, voter records show that Cathy-with-a-C voted in Precinct 74.)
To emphasize that an error must have occurred in Taylor's case, Catherine C. Taylor, also an attorney, spoke out Friday about the difficulties she had when she tried to vote in the 2000 presidential election.
Cathy Taylor gave interviews with Kathy Taylor at the candidate's campaign headquarters.
Cathy Taylor said when the voting issue erupted as a campaign issue, a friend contacted her to say she thought she was the cause of it.
I think I remember seeing this situation on Nick at Nite:
Meet Kathy, who's lived most everywhere,
From Zanzibar to Barclay Square.
But Cathy's only seen the sights
A girl can see from Tower Heights --
What a crazy pair!
But they're voters,
Identical voters all the way.
One pair of matching C/Kathys,
Different as night and day.
While Kathy adores a minuet,
The Ballet Russe,
And crépe suzette,
Our Cathy loves to rock'n'roll;
A hot dog makes her lose control:
What a wild duet!
Still, they're voters!
And you'll find
They dress alike,
At times they even
Vote alike --
You can lose your mind,
Are two of a kind!
(Image borrowed from an article on Taylor's spinning at Roemerman on Record.)
Catherine Cain Taylor (the only Catherine C. Taylor shown as a registered voter in Tulsa County for that period), born November 1, 1961, registered September 26, 1988, voter ID number 720038626, is also recorded as having voted in person on November 7, 2000. So if she signed next to Kathy-with-a-K Taylor's name, who signed next to Cathy-with-a-C Taylor's name?
What are the odds that yet another C/Kathy Taylor accidentally voted in Catherine Cain Taylor's place, while Catherine Cain Taylor accidentally voted in Kathryn L. Taylor's place?
As Kathy-with-a-K might say, "That... is crazy."
One more thing: Kathy's motivation for voting in Oklahoma. Taylor said that she voted by absentee ballot in Florida, where the presidential race was known to be close. Why, says she, would she vote in Oklahoma where it wouldn't have made any difference?
Her vote may not have made a difference in the presidential race in Oklahoma, but on the ballot in her Oklahoma precinct was a very hot state senate race. Senate District 33 was evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats. Incumbent Democrat Penny Williams was seeking her fourth Senate term against assistant District Attorney Paul Wilkening. Tulsa Whirled stories leading up to the election indicate that it was expected to be a close race.
Would Taylor have voted to help a fellow female Democrat, well-beloved in midtown social circles and known as an education advocate at the State Capitol? Perhaps she only voted in the state senate race and other state races, but didn't vote for president on her Oklahoma ballot, rationalizing her action by telling herself she only voted once for each office. The chances of getting caught would have seemed minuscule. She couldn't have imagined that anyone would ever bother to check.
(The 2000 Senate 33 race ended up not being as close as expected. Wilkening's campaign was damaged by hamhanded and misleading tactics by consultant Jim Burdge, known more recently for his involvement in the campaign to recall Jim Mautino and Chris Medlock. For example, an endorsement letter from Wilkening's boss, DA Tim Harris, was printed on something that looked like official letterhead from the DA's office.)
UPDATE 3/6/2006: It's almost election day! This entry has links to all my Urban Tulsa Weekly writings on the election, plus my endorsements, and phone numbers so you can call and offer your help to these good candidates. They will still need election day help, so if you have an hour or two, give them a call!
The latest Urban Tulsa Weekly is online and has the second installment of the primary election preview, with stories on the primaries in Districts 1, 2, and 5 through 9. The story on each race includes candidate names, addresses, websites, and phone numbers, so you can get in touch, ask tough questions, and offer your help. (Note that, due to a snafu -- I submitted them, but they were overlooked -- the District 1 and 2 stories didn't make it to print, but they've been added on to the end of the online version of this week's piece.)
Last week's issue had the first installment of the primary election preview, including an overview of what's at stake, the questionnaire we sent to city candidates, a preview of the charter amendment on the March 7th primary ballot (Independents can vote, too!), and stories on the District 3 Democrat primary, and the Democratic and Republican primaries in District 4.
UTW also published the full text of the questionnaire and the candidate responses online.
My op-ed this week was actually two pieces that were joined by the editor into a single story containing my analysis and endorsements in the Democrat and Republican primaries for Mayor. I detail how Bill LaFortune frittered away all the goodwill and political capital he enjoyed at the beginning of the term. I try to explain why Bill LaFortune needs to be fired, and why the Republicans need to do the job themselves. I go on to outline Chris Medlock's vision for Tulsa and take a look back at some of his legislative successes.
Terry Simonson issues a call to the undecideds, telling them that the first step is to realize we need a change at the top:
First of all, decide if you think things are going so well that you want more of what we have had. Are you one of the people who can't imagine that anyone else can do or would do a better job than the incumbent? That's wrong-headed thinking and you have to get over it.
If you have traveled at all, or read about other cities, you know that we are not anywhere near where great cities in this new century should be and it’s because of our leadership. If all cities face the same national and social problems, why are some cities doing so much better than Tulsa? The answer is leadership quality.
He goes on to identify a lack of mayoral leadership as the cause of City Hall strife. Simonson has endorsed Chris Medlock for Mayor.
Once again, my endorsements for their respective nominations (please note that this does not guarantee an endorsement in the general election):
Mayor Republican: Chris Medlock
Mayor Democrat: Don McCorkell
District 1 Democrat: Jack Henderson
District 2 Republican: Rick Westcott
District 3 Democrat: Roscoe Turner
District 4 Republican: Kent Morlan -- with an honorable mention to Rick Brinkley
District 4 Democrat: Maria Barnes
District 5 Republican: no endorsement; Greg Madden is worth a further look
District 5 Democrat: Al Nichols
District 6 Republican: Jim Mautino
District 7 Republican: John Eagleton
District 8 Republican: Cliff Magee
District 9 Republican: Cason Carter
Proposition 1 (zoning protest charter change): YES
See last week's column for the reasons why in each race.
Your call to action again this weekend is to volunteer for a candidate and offer your help. At the same time, call your friends and neighbors, tell them who you're voting for and why.
Here are some candidates who, in my humble opinion, need and deserve your help these last three days:
Chris Medlock for Mayor, 269 - 2822, or stop by HQ at 69th and Canton (north of 71st and Yale QuikTrip)
Roscoe Turner, District 3 Democrat, 834-7580
Maria Barnes, District 4 Democrat, 510-5725
Al Nichols, District 5 Democrat, 663-9432
Jim Mautino, District 6 Republican, 437-2642
John Eagleton, District 7 Republican, 496-0706/584-2002, or meet at 62nd and Irvington at 9:00 a.m. Saturday
Cliff Magee, District 8 Republican, 747-1747
Tulsa Topics has a telling clip from Tuesday night's District 2 council forum at Webster High School. In the clip, Paul Prather proudly proclaims his support for recalling Councilor Chris Medlock. Rick Westcott replies with his reasons for starting Tulsans for Election Integrity and fighting recall, saying that recalling a councilor because of the way he votes is an offense against representative democracy and is wrong. Westcott expresses support for the recall reform that will be on the April 4 ballot.
Prather replies without engaging the moral argument against recall, saying that last summer's recall was legal, and, bizarrely, he expresses his support for removing recall altogether, because two years is soon enough to get rid of a councilor who isn't doing his job. Perhaps his sudden change of heart was prompted by the hearty applause that followed Westcott's remarks.
Prather, an attorney who lives near Southern Hills Country Club, is the designated good-ol'-boy candidate in District 2.
The Tulsa Area Republican Assembly has made the following endorsements in the city Republican primary:
Mayor: Chris Medlock
District 2: Rick Westcott
District 6: Jim Mautino
District 7: John Eagleton
District 8: Cliff Magee
TARA only endorses if a candidate has the support of at least two-thirds of its membership. Medlock had the support of 90% of the membership, LaFortune of 10%.
TARA is the local affiliate of the National Federation of Republican Assemblies (NFRA), a group that calls itself the "GOP Wing of the Republican Party."
Tulsa Topics has links to TARA's candidate questionnaire and a summary of the candidate responses.
(There's another local Republican club that meets each month at Johnnie's Charcoal Broiler that calls itself the Republican Assembly, but it has no affiliation with TARA or NFRA. The Johnnie's group hasn't been around as long as NFRA, but it has been around longer than TARA, the Tulsa NFRA-affiliated organization.)
I just received word that the large campaign signs belonging to City Council District 9 candidate Jeff Stava have been cited by City of Tulsa Neighborhood Inspections as a code violation. Last week, Tulsa Topics wrote about these 7.5' x 4' signs and the city ordinance that they violate.
Stava has already demonstrated his contempt for the voters by refusing to respond to candidate questionnaires and boasting about the fact at Tuesday's District 9 candidate forum. (Click that link for video of the forum.) He is funded by Tulsa's anti-good-government cabal. This contempt for Tulsa's zoning ordinance is one more reason why he's the wrong choice for District 9.
Click on that Tulsa Bloggers button on the right side of the home page near the top. My brother bloggers are providing a lot of excellent coverage of the elections, including video of candidate forums, commentary, and endorsement news. None of us can cover everything on our own, but as a group we're doing a pretty good job of filling in the details that the mainstream media pass by.
And don't forget to pick up an Urban Tulsa Weekly. This week features my endorsements in the two mayoral primaries, plus the rest of the stories on the city council primary races, and a Terry Simonson op-ed explaining why we need to fire Bill LaFortune. On KFAQ Thursday morning and earlier in the week on KCFO, Simonson announced his endorsement of Chris Medlock, which gives Medlock the endorsement of two of the last four Republican mayoral nominees. Frank Pitezel, former state rep, is the other former nominee who supports Medlock. The two that don't endorse Medlock? Bill LaFortune and Bob Dick, the ol' BillyBob team.
Channel 47 (Cable 7) is holding a 30 minute debate between all four Republican mayoral candidates tonight at 9 p.m. I saw the Democratic debate Tuesday, and KWHB general manager Royal Aills did a great job asking the questions. The only concern I have about tonight's event is that by including two also-rans (Miller and Harper), there will be less focus on the real choice that Republican voters will face on Tuesday between LaFortune and Medlock.
Also, tonight KOTV will be releasing the results of the KOTV/Tulsa World/SoonerPoll.com poll. The survey happened mainly on Friday and Saturday, with some limited calling Sunday, so it came before the revelation in Sunday's paper about Randi Miller's "inappropriate relationship" with assistant public works director Mike Buchert and before the police rally. It will be interesting to see where the race stood before that voters began to take that into account.
UPDATE: I was in the audience tonight. Royal Aills did a fine job once again, this time with the bigger challenge of keeping things moving, covering a variety of topics, and working four candidates into half an hour instead of two.
Randi Miller seemed quite subdued, almost on the verge of tears, at least from where I was sitting, although she seemed to recover a bit of oomph as the debate went on. News of the poll (LaFortune 38, Medlock 19, Miller 14, Undecided 29) had to have hit hard. Her handlers had been selling the line that she was neck and neck with LaFortune, and I imagine she believed it, too. Instead, she's in third place, and that 14% represents where she was after the bump from the FOP endorsement and before the story about the Buchert relationship had come out. The FOP has to be wondering about their next step -- switching endorsements may be the only way to prevent four more years of LaFortune.
This debate and the Democratic debate will re-air Monday at 8 p.m.
I have endorsed John Eagleton for City Council in District 7 in the pages of Urban Tulsa Weekly and on this blog. I came to know John when we were both running for office in 2002, and we've become good friends. I think he'll make an excellent city councilor.
I'm not the only one with nice things to say about John, and if you click on the photo below, you'll download a PDF file and can read what Congressman John Sullivan, State Senators Randy Brogdon and Brian Crain, State Rep. Rex Duncan, and Oral Roberts, among others have to say about John. I was especially tickled by Ray Pearcey's comment.
I wasn't surprised that Kathy Taylor would choose to brazen it out after the discovery of official, certified records that show she voted in both Oklahoma and Florida in the 2000 presidential election.
(Our Tulsa World has the full video, titled Kathy Taylor in Denial Pep Rally, here.)
Bill Clinton set the standard for dealing with a scandal. If you're charismatic enough and if enough people are emotionally invested in your success, a denial, or even a non-denial denial, is enough to outweigh any amount of evidence and keep your supporters on board.
What's a non-denial denial? If you're careful enough about crafting your words, you can sound like you're denying something without actually denying it or telling a lie. People have a tendency to hear what they expect to hear, so if you say, "I didn't vote in two elections," as Kathy Taylor did, they'll hear, "I didn't vote twice in the same election." If you say, "I voted in the Gore election," they'll hear, "I voted for Gore."
The rhetorical question is another effective deflector. "Why would I do a thing like that? That's crazy!"
Then there's the little weasel word, aka the Clinton Clause, a term coined by Paul Greenberg, and defined as "the subtle escape hatch that comes with every glorious promise or general assertion." Here's what Taylor said at yesterday's press conference (click here to see KOTV's video):
I can tell you unequivocally that I never would have intentionally voted twice in two states.
What "unequivocally" gives, "intentionally" takes away, leaving her an out if someone comes forward and remembers seeing her voting in Precinct 70 in November 2000. Then there's the phrase "twice in two states" -- no one has suggested that she voted twice in two states, but official records show she voted once each in two states.
As a confirmation that the Taylor camp was taking a page out of the Bill Clinton textbook, the leadoff hitter in the Taylor press conference was Oklahoma's own bargain-basement Bill Clinton, Mike Turpen. With his white hair, height, and bulk, Turpen bore a striking resemblance to Slick Willy circa Monica, and he even trotted out the old line about the "politics of personal destruction."
Some more points from her press conference:
Taylor excused her rude response to KRMG and KJRH when they confronted her yesterday morning by saying she had received no phone call from McCorkell and no information. Of course, if she read BatesLine or listened to KRMG or KFAQ, she would have already known that this issue was in the news.
Don McCorkell is claiming that I voted in the 2000 presidential election in two different states. Let me say this to you: That is crazy. I have spent my life building my legal career -- tell me why I would endanger that career that I put myself through law school that I supported my daughter with to vote twice when it wouldn't have made a difference for anybody in this country. I can tell you unequivocally that I never would have intentionally voted twice in two states. That's nuts.
Don McCorkell didn't make that claim. He reported, as did I, as did KRMG, that official election records indicate that Kathy Taylor voted in the 2000 presidential election in two different states. Instead of denying it, she asks a rhetorical question about her motives.
The reference to her legal career is interesting. On her federal campaign contributions in 2000, she lists her occupation as "investments", "venture capitalist", or leaves it blank. In '01 she listed employer as "self-employed" with no occupation. In '02, it was "Taylor-Lobeck Trust/Executive" and occasionally "self-employed/attorney," and once as "community activist." Her career as an attorney seems to have ended by 2000. Certainly, at that point in her life, her standing at bar wasn't relevant to her standard of living.
We're talking about a period in my life, five years ago. Five years ago, my husband's job was in Florida. I moved in 2000 to Florida because that's where our income was, and that's where I registered to vote, and that is where I voted. I'm proud to tell you today that we're residents of the State of Oklahoma....
Maybe Taylor should tell that to her husband, who told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, "I have checked as far as being a Florida resident. I don't know what it takes to be a Florida resident, but I think I'm one."
I have now seen a document that purports to say I voted in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in that same election. Let me say this: I do not believe that is true.
Again with the Clinton clause. Why not say simply, "That isn't true"?
Taylor's next line of defense is to attack the integrity of the Oklahoma election records. She claimed that there is a "high probability of error," and the original records no longer exist.
It's true that the voter "books" -- really bound greenbar printouts -- that you sign when you go to vote are destroyed after two years because of space issues. But right after the election, county election board workers add a vote credit to the computer record for each voter who signed the book. This is done because of state and federal laws regarding purging inactive voters. A list of every election you voted in for the last four years is maintained in the Oklahoma Election Management System. Each time you vote, it resets the clock for having your registration purged.
I called Gene Pace, secretary of the Tulsa County Election Board to ask him about the process. I was under the mistaken assumption that a clerk would have to type in each nine-digit voter ID number next to the name in the voter book, but that's not the case. The computer shows each record in the same sequence as it is in the book, and giving a voter credit for voting is as simple as clicking a button. The clerk does not type in a number or a name. KOTV talked to the clerk who does this:
Each paper precinct book, where voters sign to show they received a ballot, is transcribed by a clerk. That's what Judy Arndt does after each election. "And we double check it and check the book again." She described a methodical process of matching names and signatures, and the number of voters with the number of ballots. Everything has to match and she doesn't believe there is a mistake. "It bothers me because we work very hard to be right."
Pace said that a 5% error rate was a very liberal estimate. Based on my own experience with data entry, that seems quite high. After all the vote credits have been made, they double-check the list of credited voters against the signatures on the book. Assume that the second check also has a 5% error rate, that would make the odds of a data entry error going undetected 1 in 40,000. In Tulsa County in the November 2000 election, 218,691 votes were cast, which would mean 6 errors county-wide, with the assumptions we've made.
What are the odds that one of those putative six erroneous vote credits would be given to a Tulsa County resident who also happened to be registered to vote in Florida and voted by absentee ballot there?
Pace is now testing the accuracy of the process, using a recent election for which the voter books still exist.
Taylor attacked Pace's credibility, because he and his wife Fran contributed to McCorkell's campaign, and Fran appeared in a McCorkell TV ad. (Fran Pace served with McCorkell on the Greater Tulsa Council, as one of the planning district chairmen for Vision 2000, the mid '70s comprehensive planning effort.)
But Pace's credibility doesn't affect the accuracy of these records. The records in question were generated in 2000 when Scott Orbison was the election board secretary and before Gene Pace had any involvement with the election board. By December 2000, the voter credit information was in the Tulsa County computer and incorporated into the Oklahoma Election Management System. At that point, the data was out of the hands of the Tulsa County Election Board.
According to October 2000 voter data I have, Tulsa County Precinct 70 had three voters with the last name Taylor at that time: Kathryn L. Taylor, voter ID 720088835, Sherry Newman Taylor, voter ID 720263710, and Varley H. Taylor Jr., voter ID 720263785. All three were credited with voting in the November 2000 election, according to voter history data I have from the Oklahoma State Election Board from March 2001. So it doesn't appear that Kathy Taylor was mistakenly credited with the vote of one of the other two Taylors, a possibility that Kathy Taylor mentioned, nor would she have been accidentally credited with the vote of a Kathy Taylor from some other precinct, because the election board processes the voter books one precinct at a time.
That brings me to the last thing I'm going to address before going to bed: Some people have the impression, created by a misunderstanding of Don McCorkell's statement, that I've been sitting on this information for four years, only to release it at the moment of maximum impact on this election.
It's true that I have had for four years the Oklahoma records on which my Monday night report was based. The Florida records I've had for three years. These aren't specific to Kathy Taylor or any other voter. They are statewide databases -- every registered voter in Oklahoma and Florida, along with a history of elections in which the voter has voted.
I've had these discs since before I knew who Kathy Taylor was. I've had these discs since long before Gene Pace was appointed to the election board. He's never been in my house and hasn't altered the data on them. Plus, I have discs from other years that also cover the 2000 election and also confirm that Kathy Taylor was credited with an in-person vote for November 7, 2000, in Tulsa County precinct 70.
I didn't think to search these discs for Kathy Taylor's voting record until this last Saturday, the day after it was reported that Taylor and her husband improperly claimed homestead exemptions in both Oklahoma and Florida. I wanted to track down the certified documents to back up the electronic records, but with my full-time job, I didn't have time to pursue it.
Monday night I decided to publish what I had, explain its limitations, and invite someone else to pursue certified documents. Apparently several people had already done that, because KRMG had them by the next morning and the McCorkell campaign had already announced a press conference for Tuesday. There had been rumblings on Monday that something would be breaking on Tuesday, which was a motivation to go ahead and publish.
So I waited about 48 hours from the time I had satisfied myself that I had read the electronic records correctly until I wrote and published my story. (And keep in mind that a lot of that intervening 48 hours was spent working at my job and finishing my very long column for this week's Urban Tulsa Weekly. A little bit was spent sleeping.)
The Broward County Property Appraiser's office provides a way to file for homestead exemption online. Here's the starting page (link will only work in Internet Explorer), which lists the residency qualifications for homestead exemption:
Welcome to the Broward County Property Appraiser's Online Homestead Application Service
You will need to gather the following information in order to complete this application. After you have assembled all of the needed documents, press the Proceed button below to continue. This Secure Server uses 128-bit encryption to maintain your privacy.
Here is what you will need to continue:
Click the checkbox to signify that you have, or will be getting copies of the following documents.
Florida Voter's Registration. If you are not registered to vote, you must have a Declaration of Domicile.
Florida Driver's Licenses for each owner. (If you do not have a driver's license you must have a State of Florida Identification card.)
Note 1: If you are not a United States Citizen, proof of resident immigrant status (such as a "Green Card") is required.
Note 2: If you own one or more automobiles, located in Florida, you must have a Florida vehicle registration for all automobiles.
Note 3: If you are married and the deed has different last names for husband and wife, a marriage license/certificate must be presented.
Note 4: A printer is required. You must print out the completed application, sign it and send it in, along with the required documents.
Verify that you have all the information and let's proceed to the Secure Data Entry System.
Press Proceed to continue.
Would this explain why someone would be so "crazy" as to vote in two states? Are there similar requirements in order to qualify as a Florida resident and avoid or reduce income taxes in other states?
24 hours have passed since the filing deadline for pre-primary ethics reports and still no report from Republican mayoral candidate Randi Miller. Two possibilities come to mind:
Possibility 1: The report would undermine her team's claims of her candidacy's strength. Miller sold her supporters on the notion that she had the best shot of knocking off LaFortune. If total dollars raised and funds remaining show that she doesn't have any traction, that undermines her claim to be the "stop Bill" candidate. The lack of media buys, direct mail, and direct phone would support this theory.
Possibility 2: The report would show contributions from the Good Ol' Boy network, contributions that would be hurt any support she has with the grassroots. There are names of frequent city donors that don't show up on any of the other disclosures -- maybe they'll show up on hers.
But this is all speculation that could be cleared up if the Miller campaign would just submit their C-1 form. Even though the clerk's office is closed until morning, they could scan the report and post it on their website.
Don McCorkell is holding a 1:30 pm press conference, Kathy Taylor is holding a 2:30 pm press conference. I'm told that, at a Democrat candidate forum today, she deflected a question about the issue, and then stormed out of the room as soon as the event was over.
More analysis tomorrow, but I had to get this table up where you could see it. As I looked through the C-1 forms filed by Tulsa city candidates, I kept seeing some of the same names over and over again. Almost as if this group of contributors were coordinating their efforts. So I made a table to show certain contributors and the campaigns they helped. The candidates, districts, and parties are on the left side, the contributors are along the top. Here are the names and affiliations of the contributors:
- George Kaiser, chairman of Bank of Oklahoma
- Bank of Oklahoma Financial Corp PAC
- Robert C. Poe, former president of the Tulsa Metro Chamber
- John Brock, wrote fast-tracked Tulsa Whirled guest opinions in support of at-large councilors and having the city give $7.5 million to BOk to repay money the City doesn't owe
- Oklahoma Realtors PAC
- Arthur H. "Chip" McElroy, II, president, McElroy Mfg. Co., and chairman of Tulsans for Better Government, the group backing the at-large supercouncilor proposal
- John and Mary Ann Bumgarner -- involved in development of the 15th & Utica Arvest Bank
- Howard G. Barnett, advocate of at-large supercouncilors, named by LaFortune to his "Citizens Commission" studying city government
- Art Justis, former City Councilor for District 6 -- the $1,000 shows up on his campaign filing as a contribution to David Patrick's campaign, but Patrick didn't disclose the contribution
- Jay Helm, American Residential Group
- Leonard and Patty Eaton -- backers of the at-large councilor proposal
That last row is for Grow Tulsa PAC, 20 E 5th #1500, which received $5,000 each from Barnett, Kaiser, and BOk PAC, and $1,000 each from C. Arnold Brown, Dave Presley, and Reuben Davis. All their contributions came between January 31 and February 10, and they list no expenditures. In block 3 on the form, Office Sought, is filled in with "Councilors." Evidently this will allow them to channel more money to favored council races during the last week before the primaries.
There are more interesting items -- I'm just scratching the surface. Particularly with the first five columns, it looks a lot like a coordinated council-packing effort. These donors only gave to these candidates -- no variation in other races. It's as if they've put together a team, a slate of candidates.
How did Jack Henderson get on the list? Possibly because he is a shoo-in for re-election, and they wanted to get on his good side.
|Dist||Candidate||Kaiser||BOk PAC||Poe||Brock||Realtor PAC||McElroy||Bumgarner||Barnett||Justis||Helm||Eaton|
|GROW TULSA PAC||5000||5000||5000|
You all remember the amazing mess that followed the 2000 general election in Florida? Questions about allowing military absentee ballots, the allegedly confusing Votomatic ballots, and the improperly punched votes -- hanging chads, pregnant chads, dimpled chads. The battle over the recount reached the U. S. Supreme Court.
The final official margin was 537 votes out of 6 million votes cast. That was the difference between a Bush presidency and a Gore presidency. It was a vivid object lesson of the principle that every vote matters.
That's why people get so exercised about vote fraud. I want to do all we can to ensure that only eligible people vote, that an eligible voter votes only once, and only in his place of primary residence, and that his vote counts exactly once. Whatever it takes within reason to make that happen -- showing ID at the polls, better optical scanning machines (but never, never, NEVER, an all-electronic system -- there has to be a voter-marked paper ballot), even purple dye on the thumb.
A fraudulent vote isn't a victimless crime. Like counterfeit currency, a fraudulent vote dilutes the value of every other vote.
Matters of life and death, war and peace, thrift and profligacy can hang on one vote per precinct. If only eligible voters had voted in Florida in 2000, what would have been the outcome? Would Bush have one by a bigger margin? Would Gore have won?
One form of vote fraud to which Florida is especially susceptible is dual-state registration. Florida has plenty of snowbirds who winter there and summer in New York, the Midwest, whereever home used to be. Dual-state residents are anxious to establish Florida residency because of the tax benefits, particularly the lack of a state income tax.
Registering to vote would help establish you as a resident of Florida, but you might not think to delete your registration in your old home state. In August 2004, the New York Daily News did a computer analysis, matching New York City voter registration records against the entire state of Florida and found 45,882 apparent matches.
Dual registration is fine, as long as you only vote in one state.
Officials in both states acknowledge that voting in multiple states is something of a perfect crime, one officials don't have the means to catch.
If you are caught, it's "a federal offense punishable by up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine."
When the story broke on Friday about Kathy Taylor's dual homestead exemptions, I wondered about dual registration, too, so I called the Broward County Supervisor of Elections. I was told that Lobeck was still on the rolls, but not Taylor. An anonymous e-mail said I got the wrong answer, and I thought that it was possible the woman on the phone didn't understand me or I her.
Over the weekend I remembered: I have Florida voter registration and history data on my computer from a project I helped with a few years ago. I don't have data directly from the county election board, but the Republican National Committee collects voter registration records from every jurisdiction in the country, standardizes addresses, matches names with phone numbers, and takes 50 different data formats and rearranges all the records into one standard format. The Democrats do the same thing. It's all to help candidates figure out how to get their message directly to the most frequent voters.
The data I have was processed by the RNC in the summer or fall of 2002, long before running for mayor was even a gleam in Kathy Taylor's eye. It shows that she and William Earl Lobeck, Jr., were registered to vote at 704 Royal Plaza Drive, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, 33301. Taylor registered to vote in Broward County, Florida, as a Democrat on February 5, 2000. That info is copied by the RNC directly from the original registration record. Her registration number is listed as 10391553.
The local election board also tracks each election in which a voter casts a ballot -- school board, city elections, runoffs, etc. The RNC doesn't preserve all the voter history information, just the records for major elections, like presidential preference primaries, state primaries, and general elections. Taylor's record shows that she voted in person in the 2000 Florida presidential preference primary, and by absentee ballot in the 2000 general election.
I also have voter registration records from the Oklahoma State Election Board, going back to May 1998. Taylor's voter number is 720088835, she registered to vote on October 2, 1988, and the records from the election board's December 2001 data show that she voted in person at what was then Tulsa County precinct 70 in the 2000 general election. (Precinct boundaries were redrawn in spring 2002; precinct 70 was teleported to east Tulsa, and old 70 was split between two neighboring precincts. Taylor and Lobeck are now in precinct 73.)
If these records are accurate, Kathryn L. Taylor committed federal voter fraud by voting twice in the same election, in an election and a state where every vote mattered.
I suspect I'm not the only one who has been able to dig up this information. Others with more time on their hands may be able to verify all this directly with the Tulsa County and Broward County election boards.
UPDATE: 12 pm, 2/28: Don McCorkell is holding a 1:30 pm press conference, Kathy Taylor is holding a 2:30 pm press conference. At a Democrat candidate forum today, she deflected a question about the issue, and then stormed out of the room as soon as the event was over.
Today at five was the effective deadline for the pre-primary ethics reports for Tulsa's city election. Four of the five leading candidates for mayor filed their reports -- Randi Miller missed the deadline. (If rumors of the latest SoonerPoll/Whirled poll are accurate, she's no longer a factor in the primary, and after Sunday's revelation, she may have given up the race.)
I'll do more in-depth analysis later, but here's a quick rundown:
Brigitte Harper raised $1,555.00, spent $1,384.48.
Bill LaFortune raised $309,514.61, spent $275,352.98.
Chris Medlock raised $28,268.07, spent $23,934.01.
Kathy Taylor raised $464,904.00, spent $406,762.30.
I saw McCorkell's report, which was in the $800,000 range, but somehow when we were making copies we missed it. (The McCorkell campaign should feel free to e-mail me a copy directly. :) )
There's an interesting recurring group of contributors that ties a bunch of the Council candidates together. It's like a repeat of two years ago, when a collection of F&M Bank board members backed a certain group of candidates, but this involves a bigger bank.
More later tonight, and you can hear me each morning through the election from 6 to 7 a.m. on 1170 KFAQ. Tomorrow morning we'll be talking about council races in districts 1, 3, and 6, plus any interesting scuttlebutt from the mayoral race.
On their 10 o'clock newscast, KTUL reported about today's rally in support of Tulsa's police that "a local radio station and Mayor Bill LaFortune organized the event." (Emphasis in the original.)
Of course, LaFortune had nothing to do with organizing it. KFAQ set up the whole thing, with the help of Chief Dave Been (before LaFortune put him on administrative leave), the police auxiliary, the FOP, and with the financial support of Rich and Cartmill Insurance.
I saw LaFortune today as he arrived late, after the color guard, the national anthem, and the tribute to fallen officers. He stood surrounded by staffers on the ground near the southeast corner of the stands, chattering away through the speeches. When Chief Been was recognized and applauded, LaFortune did not applaud. He slipped away right at the end and managed to avoid talking with citizens who might take issue with his mistreatment of the Chief.
A news report can shape perception through interpretation, selective reporting, choice of descriptive terms, but this was a flat-out lie, a lie designed to cover up Bill LaFortune's contemptuous treatment of Chief Been and the entire Tulsa Police Department.
UPDATE: A reader informs me that KOTV led their 10 o'clock report with a story on the rally, gave KFAQ credit for setting it up, interviewed Michael DelGiorno, and gave Chief Been a lot of attention.
UPDATE: Here's an audio clip of the KTUL report (300 KB MP3). Have an airsick bag handy when you listen to it.
I guess they got impatient for the candidates to start slinging mud at each other, so the Tulsa Whirled launched the first salvo. Although there have been whispers and talk among supporters of the candidates, so far we haven't had mudslinging robocalls or attack ads coming from the campaigns.
This morning's Whirled has a front-page, above-the-fold story about some of the rumors floating around the Mayoral campaign. Bill LaFortune is said to have been offered a job at OU-Tulsa, as a way of getting him out of a job he couldn't handle and out of a re-election race he couldn't win. Randi Miller is accused of having an "unprofessional relationship," during her time on the Council, with assistant public works director Mike Buchert, husband of District 6 challenger Theresa Buchert.
There's something about Don McCorkell and a state water board contract with a power plant he helped start. The story about Kathy Taylor's dual homestead exemptions in Florida and Oklahoma finally made the Tulsa Whirled, two days after the Sun-Sentinel had the story.
For Medlock, they rehashed the story about his falling one class short of having an MBA and the complaint by Joe Conner that Medlock was trying to force him out of the District 5 special election. (Those links will take you to BatesLine entries on those two topics.) You knew there wouldn't be anything new about Medlock -- any dirt that they could have smeared him with would have been used during last year's attempt to recall him.
The "scandal" involving the power plant McCorkell once owned seems like a stretch, based on how it was presented. It's not surprising that the Whirled stayed away from McCorkell's involvement in Great Plains Airline, because of the paper's own major holdings in the airline.
Rumors about a job for LaFortune have been floating around for a long time. Certain Republican elected officials are said to have been disappointed with his performance and concerned about losing the Mayor's seat back to the Democrats, so they've been trying to find him a graceful way out. LaFortune's early departure from the District Attorney's job to a private law practice provided a basis for thinking it could happen again.
Given that this article was the first mention in the Whirled of Kathy Taylor's dual homestead exemption, a story that broke on Friday, I have to wonder if the point of the mud-slinging story was to minimize the impact on their favorite candidate, by including this story, which is based on confirmed facts, in a story about whispering and mudslinging, and by taking a swipe at each of the major candidates. (To my mind, the most damaging thing in the Sun-Sentinel story wasn't the back taxes and penalties, but the statement of Mr. Kathy Taylor that he considers himself a Florida resident. That didn't make the Whirled.)
I was surprised that the Whirled published something about the Randi Miller - Mike Buchert relationship. I've been hearing rumors about it for a few years now, and it's considered common knowledge around City Hall. It was common enough knowledge that, according to the Whirled, Buchert's boss, Public Works director Charles Hardt, reassigned some of Buchert's duties:
"There were concerns with his professionalism as it dealt with the council and Miller, and I informed the mayor about the reassignment," Hardt said.
Buchert's statement and that of his wife strongly suggest that there was something inappropriate going on:
"This is a personal matter. This is a matter that has been reconciled and placed in the past. My wife and I have been married for 31 years and, if I have anything to say about it, will be married for the rest of our lives. The past is the past, we have moved forward," he said.
Theresa Buchert, who is a Republican candidate in the City Council District 6 race, said their marriage, like many, has had its ups and downs, but this issue with Miller has nothing to do with her or what she can bring to the City Council.
"It is seven days before a major primary election, and Tulsa has been in turmoil for how many years? People don't know how to effect change without getting dirty," she said.
As I mentioned, I've been hearing about this for years, and while this would normally just be a sad personal matter, there are public policy implications. Just the fact that the relationship was considered common knowledge, even if the rumors were false, could have had an effect on Randi Miller's performance as Mayor.
Charles Hardt is nearing retirement, and Buchert would be in line for that job. If Mayor Randi Miller promoted Buchert, people would assume it was because of their relationship; if she passed him over, despite his qualifications, people would assume that she was trying to avoid the appearance of favoritism, because of their relationship. It would be a no-win situation for both of them, and for the City. And can you imagine the strained interpersonal dynamics with Miller as Mayor, Mike Buchert as Public Works director, and Theresa Buchert as a City Councilor?
Fortunately, that outcome isn't very likely. Miller was running third even after the FOP endorsement and before this story came out, and Jim Mautino, whom Buchert is challenging, is very popular in District 6, surviving recall with the support of 70% of the voters.
The other public policy concern is blackmail. An official with something to hide might make a decision or avoid a decision in order to pacify someone who has an interest in city policy and information about the official that could be damaging. An official fearing for her reputation will have a hard time being bold in the face of harsh opposition.
Miller was pretty tough when she first came on the Council in 2000, and she was willing to buck the Mayor and the city establishment when it mattered, but over time she seemed to become more interested in going along to get along. Lately there's been a fearfulness about her.
For example: Back in 2003, after Miller and the other County Commissioners voted to put Vision 2025 on the ballot, with the arena and higher education funding in the same ballot item, I called her to express my disappointment. I had been working with her and other Republican leaders the day before, trying to get a fair and logical breakdown of the package into individual ballot items, with the arena standing alone. She expressed agreement with us, but in the County Commission meeting she did nothing to try to amend the four-item package that the Dialog/Visioning leadership put together.
When I called to ask why she didn't act to change the package or to vote against the flawed package, she told me that "they" would have "crucified" her. I assumed she was just worried about a negative editorial in the Whirled or campaign contributions going to an opponent for her 2004 re-election bid, and the worry seemed disproportionate to the threat. When I started hearing the rumors about her extracurricular activities, her fear of "crucifixion" seemed much more rational.
Miller's unconventional living situation only makes appearances worse for her. From the Whirled's February 12 profile story:
In St. Croix, the couple found the schools were not strong, so Miller decided to move back to Tulsa with her children while her husband remained there.
"It was a difficult decision, but we felt it was important for our kids," she said, adding that they see each other regularly.
Miller's move back to Tulsa happened before she ran for City Council in 2000. It's not hard to understand that a family might endure a few months' separation when Mom and the kids move back for schools and family, while Dad looks for a new job in Tulsa and wraps things up at his old job. It is hard to imagine keeping the family split for six years for the sake of either career or schools.
While Miller has a lot of family here to help out, it still can't be easy to be both a public official and practically a single mom. Nor can it be easy to be between six and twelve years old, with Dad 2000 miles away and Mom busy with civic stuff. It's hard enough on my family for me to be as involved as I am, even though I rarely travel on business.
Was it right for the Whirled to report on this situation? When a damaging rumor is common knowledge among insiders, has some substance behind it, and can affect a candidate's performance and decision-making in office, shouldn't voters have the chance to know what the insiders know and to weigh the information? Would it be better to keep voters in the dark until it's too late to make a difference, as the Whirled did with Randy Sullivan's divorce and departure from District 7 or with the scandal surrounding former State Rep. Chad Stites?
As painful as this must be for Randi and her family, I think the Whirled made the right call in this case. What do you think?
The Dishonorable Bill LaFortune continues his campaign to trash an honorable police chief and to try to rescue his foundering campaign for re-election. The mayor who told us "more police officers means more arrests means a higher crime rate," who appears to be campaigning on a promise NOT to add more police officers, has to discredit the police chief any way he can, because the police chief has straightforwardly said that more officers are needed.
Now LaFortune has handpicked an investigator who will likely give LaFortune the report he wants about Chief Dave Been's "outrageous" delay in presenting him an interim report about the SWAT team. Even if Frank Hagedorn doesn't tell LaFortune what he wants to hear, the investigation's deadline falls conveniently after the primary election. Why not let the auditor or the Council handle the matter, since LaFortune's judgment is at question, too?
What else has Weak Willy been up to? He's claiming that Been tried to shut down the serial rapist task force back in December. The reality is that under police contract rules and under a consent decree, police officers on a special task force have to be given the chance to go back to their normal assignments after 60 days. The 60-day deadline was approaching in mid-December, and Been was working to keep the task force going while still complying with the FOP contract
and the court order. In fact, the task force continued its work, although ultimately the break in the case came from a Crimestoppers tip.
This morning on KFAQ, Been said that he raised this issue in a staff meeting in December, and when the Mayor showed up 30 minutes late, he explained the issue again for the Mayor's benefit. I remember Been giving that same explanation on KFAQ in December, when Michael DelGiorno asked him about rumors that the task force would be shut down.
For all the talk about division in the police department, 200 FOP members turned out for its emergency meeting last night, and they gave a 100% vote of confidence to Chief Been. (Public safety unions don't always back their bosses. Sometime around 1990, the Firefighters' Union voted to censure then-Fire Chief Tom Baker for failures of leadership. That was despite the fact that Baker had once been head of that union.)
LaFortune, as usual, won't face the music on his decisions. He sent Clay Bird to talk to the police officers about the action against Been. Bird claimed that LaFortune misspoke when he said he wasn't aware of the consultant's review of the SWAT team, but the correction of the record only came out when LaFortune's signature surfaced on the authorization for the study.
And as the timeline has emerged, it appears that Been only had the interim report for one business day before he spoke to Bird about it, and it was in Bird's hands the next day, as soon as Been was back in Tulsa from a conference in the Oklahoma City area. Bird then apparently sat on the report for two days before notifying LaFortune.
Meanwhile, LaFortune is trying to take credit for the biggest police academy class in history, and trying to make voters forget that it followed two years of no academy at all, because Bill LaFortune put other priorities ahead of public safety.
Tulsans need to show their support for Chief Been and the Tulsa Police Department. We ought to be supportive always, but they need our support especially since we have a Mayor who obviously holds the force in contempt.
The FOP Auxiliary has asked Tulsans to show their support for Chief Been today by driving with headlights on. And on Sunday from 2 to 3 p.m., a rally in support of the police force, which had already been scheduled, will be held at LaFortune Stadium, on Hudson (halfway between Yale and Sheridan) between 51st and 61st. Both are important ways to let those who put their lives on the line for us know that we appreciate their service.
But if you want to make a difference for our police force, you need to do more than drive with lights on and go to a rally. You need to help elect candidates who will give make funding the police department a priority and who will also do the right thing on important issues like zoning and land use and putting Tulsa's interests first.
There are only 10 days left until the election, and these candidates aren't well funded. They won't have the Tulsa Whirled's help in getting their message out, but their opponents will.
While more voters -- like those of you who are reading this -- are getting perspective on city issues through alternative media, most of the most faithful voters still name the Whirled or local TV news as their principal source of information about local politics. Most voters don't listen to KFAQ, don't read the Beacon or Urban Tulsa or Tulsa news blogs, and don't participate in the TulsaNow forum. How will these voters hear the other side of the story unless you help take it to them?
I urge you to call one of the campaigns below today and offer as much of your time as you can between now and the elections. Maybe that's just an hour tomorrow afternoon, maybe it's a couple of hours a day. Every campaign will have people distributing flyers and calling voters and putting out signs. They have work to be done, and they need people more than anything else. Money is needed, too, to pay for last minute mailers and other means of getting the message to voters.
In most cases, these candidates don't have paid help or even full-time volunteer help to handle all the details of a campaign, so they're having to be both candidate and campaign manager, while balancing that with duties at home and at work. John Eagleton is not only campaigning, he's having to keep up his law practice and be Mr. Mom to his sons while his wife has been called up by the Navy for active duty. Rick Westcott has been representing clients in jury trials this week, some of them out of town. Maria Barnes had the flu and was under doctor's orders for bed rest for 10 days.
The races below are the most strategic and most in need of volunteer support.
Chris Medlock for Mayor, 269 - 2822, or stop by HQ at 69th and Canton (north of 71st and Yale QuikTrip)
Roscoe Turner, District 3 Democrat, 834-7580
Maria Barnes, District 4 Democrat, 510-5725
Al Nichols, District 5 Democrat, 663-9432
Jim Mautino, District 6 Republican, 437-2642
John Eagleton, District 7 Republican, 496-0706/584-2002, or meet at 62nd and Irvington at 9:00 a.m. Saturday
Cliff Magee, District 8 Republican, 747-1747
Is Democrat mayoral candidate Kathy Taylor a Floridian or an Oklahoman? The Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel reports that Kathy Taylor and her husband Bill Lobeck claimed homestead exemptions in both states:
The chief executive of one of the nation's largest car rental companies and his politician wife owe more than $130,000 in back taxes and penalties on their Fort Lauderdale waterfront mansion because they claimed homestead exemptions both here and in Oklahoma, according to the Broward Property Appraiser's Office.
The bill being sent to William Lobeck and Kathryn Taylor is the largest levied since Property Appraiser Lori Parrish launched her fraud investigation unit a year ago. Lobeck is the head of Vanguard Car Rental, which moved its headquarters from Fort Lauderdale to Tulsa in 2004. Taylor stepped down as Oklahoma's commerce secretary earlier this year and is running for mayor of Tulsa.
The couple owns a $2.9 million home on a finger isle off Las Olas Boulevard and an $8 million home in Tulsa. Under Florida law, property owners may claim only one homestead exemption and it must be on their primary residence.
Lobeck said Thursday he has asked his lawyer to discuss the matter with the county and he will pay any additional taxes he owes. He said he had considered himself to be a Florida resident. ...
Broward property records indicate Lobeck applied for the tax exemptions in Fort Lauderdale in 1998, while Oklahoma records obtained by Cacciatore show homestead exemptions for the couple there dating back to 1999.
To confirm Lobeck's claim to Florida residency, I called the Broward County election board and confirmed that Bill Lobeck is still registered to vote on Royal Plaza Drive, Ft. Lauderdale, with a date of birth that matches his voter registration record in Oklahoma. (The clerk wasn't able to find Kathryn Lobeck or Kathryn Taylor as a currently registered voter there. I didn't ask, but I wonder if they keep records of when someone is removed from the rolls.)
So where is home for Kathy Taylor? Records of her federal campaign donations in recent years show her sometimes listing a home address in Oklahoma and sometimes listing a home address in Florida. If he's a resident of Florida, and she's a resident of Oklahoma, that means we have two mayoral candidates who don't live within a thousand miles of their spouses. (Randi Miller's husband lives in St. Croix, Virgin Islands.)
UPDATE: KOTV.com had this headline on their home page earlier today: "Florida appraiser: Tulsa mayoral candidate owes back taxes..." When I first clicked on the link, it lead to an AP story on that topic. Now it leads to a story on rules for Oklahoma's "racinos." And now the headline is missing from their site. Is someone at KOTV trying to shield Taylor from embarrassing news?
UPDATE from Mickaël Lucchini, KOTV's webmaster, at 1:31 pm:
From the News Room: we had to put this story offline because of AP restrictions (Tulsa World has online exclusivity).
Also, a mistake has been made and the link to the downed "Taylor" story has been assigned to the "Racinos" story. We are correcting this at the moment.
I replied letting him know that KTUL still had the story up.
UPDATE from Mickaël Lucchini, KOTV's webmaster, at 1:46 pm:
From the News Room: following discussions with the AP, KOTV.com has been authorized to publish this story. The direct link is http://www.kotv.com/main/home/stories.asp?whichpage=1&id=99528
(UPDATE: There's also a February 28 forum for District 2, Rick Westcott v. Paul Prather, at Webster High School at 7 pm.)
The two City Council seats that cover most of midtown are up for grabs, as Susan Neal and Tom Baker are not seeking re-election.
District 9 has a Republican primary on March 7 between Jeff Stava and
Cason Carter; the winner will face Democrat Phil Kates on April 4.
District 4 has a primary for both parties -- Rick Brinkley vs. Kent Morlan in the Republican primary; Maria Barnes vs. Jack Wing in the Democratic primary.
On Tuesday, February 28, there are candidate forums scheduled for both districts. If you time it right, you might be able to attend both.
Where: Wright Elementary School, 1110 E. 45th Place (one block west of Peoria)
When: 5:30 pm to 7 pm
Sponsored by: Brookside, LewisCrest, Maple Ridge and Ranch Acres Neighborhood Associations
Contact: Herb Beattie, co-president, Brookside Neighborhood Association, 749-4586, email@example.com
Where: Wilson Middle School Cafeteria, enter on 12th Street between
Columbia and Delaware
When: 7 pm to ?
Sponsored by: Renaissance Neighborhood Association. The meeting will
also feature a presentation on changes to the TU master plan
Contact: Eric Gomez, president-elect of Renaissance Neighborhood Association, 378-0992, firstname.lastname@example.org
The latest Urban Tulsa Weekly is online and has the first installment of the primary election preview, including an overview of what's at stake, the questionnaire we sent to city candidates, a preview of the charter amendment on the March 7th primary ballot (Independents can vote, too!), and stories on the District 3 Democrat primary, and the Democratic and Republican primaries in District 4. The story on each race includes candidate names, addresses, websites, and phone numbers, so you can get in touch, ask tough questions, and offer your help.
Next week's issue should have my stories on the rest of the races. The full text of the candidate responses is not yet online, but I'll link it from here when it is.
My op-ed this week was inspired by a form letter we received from District 4 Democratic candidate John "Jack" Wing. I take apart the conventional wisdom on Council "bickering" (as expressed in Wing's letter) as a way to explain my endorsements in each Council primary, as well as the Republican primary for Mayor.
Primaries are important. As I wrote, "If you let others weed out candidates in the primaries, you may find that they've left you with a choice between two candidates with different party labels but equally unacceptable views on how to run City Hall." Since so many races will be won, or all but won, in the primary, I've made endorsements in each of the primary races. Even though I'm a Republican, it matters to me as a Tulsan whether good men like Roscoe Turner and Jack Henderson win their nominations.
My endorsements for their respective nominations (please note that this does not guarantee an endorsement in the general election):
Mayor Republican: Chris Medlock
Mayor Democrat: To be announced
District 1 Democrat: Jack Henderson
District 2 Republican: Rick Westcott
District 3 Democrat: Roscoe Turner
District 4 Republican: still undecided -- Rick Brinkley is a good man; I'm slightly leaning to Kent Morlan for his awareness of city issues
District 4 Democrat: Maria Barnes
District 5 Republican: no endorsement; Greg Madden is worth a further look
District 5 Democrat: Al Nichols
District 6 Republican: Jim Mautino
District 7 Republican: John Eagleton
District 8 Republican: Cliff Magee
District 9 Republican: Cason Carter
See the column for the reasons why in each race. These good folks could use your help during these last 12 days of the campaign. Call or e-mail and volunteer.
Terry Simonson, in a column that seems to have been written before the FOP announced their endorsement, and long before Bill LaFortune's bizarre action to place Police Chief Dave Been on administrative leave, wants the police rank and file to go beyond issuing an endorsement and to get active on behalf of their candidate.
I'd add only that the candidate the officers ought to be getting behind is not the one their leadership endorsed. When there was an opportunity to shift funding away from gilding the lily at the Fairgrounds and building a new golf cart barn at LaFortune Park, and toward beefing up Tulsa's police force, Chris Medlock took a political risk to propose a way to increase funding for the police department, while Randi Miller opted for protecting the County's sales-tax turf over protecting Tulsans against crime. When "4 to Fix" renewal was being considered by the County Commission, Randi Miller could have shown leadership, could have said the cities need this money more than the County does, but she didn't.
On the subject of bloggers in print: As proud as I am to write for UTW, another blogger's exciting achievement today puts that into perspective. Congratulations to Dawn Eden on her first-ever byline in the Wall Street Journal, a review of the book Fired!, by Annabelle Gurwitch.
(Now that I think about it, the blogger achievement mentioned in the previous entry really puts everything into proper perspective.)
From La Semana Del Sur:
[Democrat mayoral candidate Kathy] Taylor did not shy away from questions regarding her donations to Republicans, saying, "There are times, both in business and in politics, when you need a seat at the table," describing her contributions to members of the opposing party as a method of facilitating dialogue rather than an indication of ideological support.
"Facilitating dialogue." Also known as "buying access"?
We've got a makeshift blogger's row here at the back of the OSU-Tulsa auditorium for the mayoral candidate forum sponsored by TulsaNow and the Arts and Humanities Council of Tulsa. Bobby of Tulsa Topics will be liveblogging the event, and David of Our Tulsa World is videotaping the event. I'll be here for the opening statements, but I then have to skedaddle.
In the audience: 212 people, filling most of the seats.
On the dais from the audience's left to right: Prophet Kelly Clark, Bill LaFortune, Kathy Taylor, Randi Miller, Don McCorkell, Chris Medlock, Benford Faulk, and P**l T**.
Rich Fisher from KWGS is the moderator.
What follows is very rough notes.
Clark: Starts by quoting John Locke and John Stuart Mill. If democracy is at stake, your freedom is at stake. "Don't let it slip into F-A-S-C-I-S-M."
LaFortune: Acknowledged wife, thanked sponsors. Want to build on economic momentum, finish what we started. All the projects that are in or right around downtown -- almost $250 million through Vision 2025. We had a downtown that had not had any public improvements for three decades, four decades.
Taylor: Talked about Governor Henry's EDGE -- last time she was in this auditorium. "I was a business leader." Business leadership is absolutely transferable to government. Talks about historic preservation, Main Street programs increasing retail, is happening in Oklahoma City (Capitol Hill, Stockyards City), same thing can happen in Tulsa. Support form based zoning. Preserve our history. Preserve our arts.
Miller: We need leadership, we need a plan, we need a direction. Mentioned her turns as chairman of council, county commission. Cites crime rate, ninth worst streets. Need quality of life, low crime, good infrastructure. Need a leader who will make tough decisions. Completely avoided topics of the forum.
McCorkell: Says he won KWGS Haiku contest two years ago. Cites Jane Jacobs and Richard Florida. Wife serves on AHCT board. Cites legislative experience. Proud that his subcommittee was first to fund Main Street program. Had to seek financing out of state because Oklahoma is too dominated by those interested in preservation of capital not the creation of capital.
Medlock: Staunch defender of neighborhoods. Trained to be a strategic planner. We have good first tastes of planning: Brookside, Kendall-Whitter, 6th Street. We need plans and an administration that has the discipline to stick to that plan. Council came together to support a replacement of our 30-year-old comp plan. Realities of retail -- 30 years ago Frougs, Anthony's -- today, it's big box stores, and no one wants to live next to big box stores.
Faulk: In auditing/accounting business for many years. Moved to Tulsa in 1974. Illegal immigration may not seem like the mayor's job, but since the state and federal government won't do anything about it.
T**: "I am the poster child for all things weird Tulsa." Talked about street sign law, putting signs. "I didn't mean to be infamous. I didn't mean to be arrested." Good to be out of jail -- no need to put your head next to the toilet unless you hear the slogan "I'm excited" one too many times. (Got a laugh.) "Show me the plan. Show me the plan. Show me the plan."
LaFortune: Cites making arena a work of art, master linkage plan, Kanbar/Kaufman's vision for 5th Street corridor from Denver to Cincinnati.
Taylor: Recognize that we have three college campuses in downtown. Encourage businesses to have outdoor venues.
Miller: Downtown Tulsa has to grow.
McCorkell: Need to understand the concept of critical mass. Jenks as an antique capital works because there's more than one antique store. Arts district needs 15-20 galleries. Guerrilla tactics -- build housing for OSU professors here, so they'll have take the bus to Stillwater to teach, rather than Tulsa students to travel to take classes.
Medlock: Chicken and egg situation. We have sidewalks, but there's nothing there. Having people live in the IDL is critical. Current downtown housing efforts are focused on luxury end of the market. OSU-Tulsa is key. Multi-family housing for students in walking distance of Blue Dome district.
Faulk: A little seed money is OK, but developers should repay it if they succeed. Arena is a nice thing to have, but we can't afford to maintain and operate.
T**: "Popsicle test" -- ran out of time.
Clark: Build a business friendly downtown. Free parking for downtown. Bring in world largest shopping mall. Monorail system, subway.
Gotta run -- more later
Mayoral Candidate Forum
Tulsa Now and the Arts and Humanities Council of Tulsa will co-host a Mayoral Candidate Forum on Tuesday, February 21.
This event is open to the public, and there is no charge to attend. It will be held in the auditorium at OSU Tulsa. Arrive between 5:00 and 5:30 for complimentary refreshments in the lobby. The forum will begin at 6:00 p.m.
The topic of the forum will be:
Creating a Dynamic Urban Core: Why it’s vital to the Region
I was on the radio with DelGiorno this morning, and we discussed the mayoral race, today's school board elections, and the ORU campaign e-mail scandal, among other topics. You can catch the repeat on the web at 9:40 a.m., 1:10 p.m., 4:40 p.m., and 8:10 p.m.
My fellow TulsaBloggers have been busy with coverage of city politics -- a lot of material you need to read. MeeCiteeWurkor has a merged feed of headlines from all our blogs, with the latest headlines at the top, and going back about a week. It's a very handy way of making sure you don't miss anything. A selection:
David Schuttler catches Kathy Taylor in some myth-making about her name and her background. Was it really a financial struggle to be Dollar Thrifty's general counsel? Something doesn't add up. And Tulsa Chigger says the image being crafted in Taylor's campaign ads doesn't match up with reality.
Joe Kelley challenges the Whirled's claim that politicians are trying to buy south Tulsa's votes by opposing the toll bridge.
A graphic designer tells Steve Roemerman that Bill LaFortune's campaign font is round, soft, and weak.
Completely non-political: Don Danz has found an Olympic use for those blasted AOL CDs.
I'm looking through some background info on a story that's in the news, and I could really use the assistance of someone who can look at SEC filings and decisions and boil it down to layman's language. Drop me an e-mail at blog AT batesline DOT com. Thanks.
David Schuttler has posted the rest of his video of Monday's Tulsa Real Estate Coalition forum, from which Councilor Chris Medlock was excluded. Be warned -- the files are quite large. The opening remarks by TREC Chairman Brian Hunt aren't in those videos, but you'll find that in David's earlier posting.
Friday is the last day to register to vote for the March 7 Tulsa city primary election.
Friday is also your last opportunity to change parties, should you want to vote in a particular primary -- something to consider, since in many districts the primary is the election. In Districts 2, 7, and 8, the council race will be decided by Republicans only; in District 1, the decision belongs to the Democrats. There will be a general election in 3, 6, and 9, but 3 is a heavily Democratic district, 9 is heavily Republican, and the Republican primary in 6 is a key battle for the reform alliance, as the good ol' boys want to oust Jim Mautino.
There are primary battles in both parties for the Mayor's race. I know that grass-roots Democrats feel strongly about helping McCorkell beat Taylor, but reform-minded voters may want to cross over to the Republican primary to help Chris Medlock, who has been leading the charge for reform at City Hall for the last three years, and actually has a track record on city issues.
Although you can register at tag agencies and other government offices, if it were me, I'd go straight down to the Tulsa County Election Board, 555 N. Denver, to make sure that the application doesn't get lost in the mail.
David Schuttler has posted the first video clip from the TREC forum. It doesn't include any of the candidate responses, but it has the opening remarks from Brian Hunt, chairman of TREC, the questions that were put to the candidates, and Hunt's closing remarks.
In his opening remarks, Hunt clearly implied that Medlock's exclusion was because TREC feels they already know his answers, and they don't want to hear them. I guess the development lobby are concerned that the four candidates who kowtowed to them weren't strong enough to debate the real Chris Medlock; they could only manage a debate against a straw man, TREC's distorted caricature of Medlock's views.
The decision to exclude Medlock was so politically stupid that I imagine that those responsible will be punished by TREC's puppetmasters for their mistake. Hunt mentioned in his opening remarks that this wasn't intended to be a public event, but it had become newsworthy. Traditionally, the development lobby did its work behind the scenes, and tried to keep issues of development and zoning out of the public debate. Had TREC chosen to invite Medlock to participate, the debate probably would have remained under the public's radar. As it is, Tulsa's voters now know there is a powerful special interest group at work in this election, a group that doesn't want Tulsa to have a Mayor who stands up for Tulsa's best interests.
I stopped by the "Realtor Reality Check" rally for Chris Medlock, held across the street from the Southern Hills Marriott, where the Tulsa Real Estate Coalition was holding its candidate forum, from which TREC excluded Medlock. I had to leave at 5:30, but I'm told the crowd grew as more people had time to arrive after work. Mad Okie has photos and a description of the event. That's Councilor Jim Mautino's wife Bonnie holding a sign that says, "Bixby has a mayor, Jenks has a mayor, Owasso has a mayor. Tulsa needs a mayor, too!" Mad Okie's got a bunch more worth reading, plus some funny stuff.
I was downtown right about sunset and drove down Main Street, where two of the last remaining small commercial buildings are fenced and awaiting demolition -- 417 and 419 S. Main. The buildings belong to one of the partnerships formed by Maurice Kanbar and Henry Kaufman to acquire buildings in downtown Tulsa. Remember my half-joking worry: What if these guys buying all these old downtown buildings were really demolition enthusiasts? Well, it looked as if the first visible work to be done on the historic downtown properties they had acquired would be to tear down two buildings for parking. Some preservation-minded folks got their concerns back to Kaufman, who issued a two-week stay of execution. (Maybe this was some sort of hazing ritual, forced on Kaufman and Kanbar by the local good ol' boy network. "Y'all have to prove you're real Tulsans by tearing down historic buildings for parking.")
Here's the start of a TulsaNow forum topic about the buildings; the topic goes on for four pages. The southernmost of the two buildings has special memories for me: I did my month-long high school internship there when it was Channel 41, a news-talk TV station that had just gone on the air. (You'll find my memories of KGCT on Tulsa TV Memories.)
I met another blogger this evening, while waiting in line at the drugstore. A friend from church came up to say hello, and mentioned that she and her husband enjoy reading my blog. The fellow in front of me overheard and asked what blog, and when I told him, he said he'd just come back to Tulsa from NYC, and he'd heard of BatesLine from a fellow blogger back there -- Scott Sala, of Slant Point and Urban Elephants. (I mentioned Scott in this week's Urban Tulsa cover story about local news bloggers.) What a small world!
The blogger I met is Earnest Pettie, who blogs as The Idea Man. His latest idea: issue tax refunds as debit cards, tied to an account that accrues interest on the remaining balance of the refund.
The Tulsa Real Estate Coalition (TREC), a collection of metro-area real estate and development special interest groups, including several that funded the recall effort against Chris Medlock and Jim Mautino, are holding a mayoral candidate forum Monday night at the Southern Hills Marriott hotel. They've invited LaFortune, Miller, McCorkell, and Taylor, but have excluded Medlock, even though he had four times the support of Miller in the last public opinion poll. Brian Hunt, chairman of TREC, was quoted in Friday's Tulsa Whirled as saying, "There are 12 people in the mayoral race, and our leadership decided there was only time to hear from those who could receive an endorsement," coalition Chairman Brian Hunt said.
I think that quote contains a Freudian slip. The official line is that Medlock is not "a leading candidate," but the polls belie that, and to his credit, the Whirled's Brian Barber mentioned their poll showing Medlock well ahead of Miller. The statement above reveals the real issue -- TREC wouldn't give Medlock their endorsement even if he were the prohibitive front runner.
Some members of TREC don't like Medlock because he believes in putting Tulsa's interests first, encouraging new development and redevelopment within the city limits of Tulsa, rather than using the City of Tulsa's resources to accelerate growth in the suburbs. (Note that that doesn't mean Medlock wants to or thinks he can stop growth in the suburbs. It means he wants to apply Tulsa's resources to Tulsa's interests first.) The developers that control the Home Builders Association of Greater Tulsa are heavily invested in the suburbs and don't want Tulsa to be run by leaders who put Tulsa first.
By way of response, the Medlock campaign is going to hold a rally across the street while the forum is underway:
The TULSA REAL ESTATE COALITION didn't invite Chris to participate in its Mayoral Candidate Forum to be held on Monday, Feb. 6th. So we're going to hold a rally ACROSS THE STREET! Come help us give the Real Estate Coalition a 'reality check.'
Where: 2352 E. 71st Street (Block west of 71st & Lewis)
When: Monday, Feb. 6th from 5 PM to 6:30 PM.
Bring a positive attitude and let's have some fun showing these folks who the "front runner" really is!
On a personal note, I'm disappointed to see Brian Hunt involved in this. I first met him when he and his wife lived in the Lewiston Gardens neighborhood in midtown. If memory serves me correctly, they were supporters of Anna Falling, an early reform-minded councilor who was trashed by the good ol' boy network. Time changes everything.
I tried to call Brian on Friday, when I learned of the news, and I left a message. He hasn't called back. I wanted to ask him some questions for a column I will be writing about this:
- How was this decision reached? What individuals constitute the leadership that made this decision?
- What specific votes or actions disqualify Medlock from receiving TREC's endorsement?
- Does TREC have a platform or a statement of legislative goals with regard to City of Tulsa policy?
- Is the debate open to the public? To the press? To all members of the organizations that participate in TREC?
- Have the candidates received questions in advance? If so, what are they?
- Who will decide on the endorsement?
There's a discussion about TREC's snub over on the TulsaNow forum. Someone wrote, "The group knew that they weren't going to endorse Medlock because of his history of attacks on developers, so why bother to invite him to a meeting about who they were going to endorse?" I responded with a challenge:
History of attacks on developers? Name even one. I realize your characterization is considered the conventional wisdom, but there's no substance to it.
Too many good people -- Bonnie Henke and Betsy Horowitz are a couple of good examples -- have been smeared as anti-growth and anti-development when all they were after is a consistent application of the rules, and some serious thought about whether the current set of rules and plans best meet our city's needs.
It's a sign of the intellectual bankruptcy of Tulsa's old guard that the best argument they can muster is to shriek "Anti-growth! Anti-developer! Ward politics! Naysayer!" like some deranged mynah bird. This move [TREC's action] is another example of their approach to public discourse -- stick your fingers in your ears.
The rally would be a great way to remind the TRECkies that Tulsa wants a Mayor who puts Tulsa first, a Mayor for all of Tulsa.
Former District 6 City Councilor Art Justis was caught removing campaign signs belonging to his successor, Jim Mautino, who beat Justis two years ago in a stunning grass-roots-driven upset. A police report has been filed. (And Bobby has created a "wanted" poster.) Justis signed the recall petition against Mautino last summer.
As someone on the OKDemocrat message board pointed out, it's strange that a Democrat (like Justis) would be removing a Republican's signs before a Republican primary, unless he's trying to help Mautino's Republican opponent. That would be Theresa Buchert, wife of assistant Public Works Director Mike Buchert. Theresa Buchert helped Art Justis in his campaign against Jim Mautino two years ago, lending her name to a "Republicans for Justis" newspaper ad. Buchert made a promise not to run against Justis in 2004; he planned to step aside and support her run in 2006. Jim Mautino came along, and District 6 voters decided they were ready right then for strong representation for the district's interests at City Hall.
I have information -- cannot disclose the source, but it is utterly reliable -- that the same forces that are supporting Buchert in the Republican primary are also supporting David Patrick's attempt to defeat incumbent Councilor Roscoe Turner in the District 3 Democratic primary. Responding to Justis' and Buchert's mutual collaboration, Steve Roemerman, a dedicated Republican precinct worker and campaign volunteer, observes: "At the local level, party does not matter. Ideology matters...."
I am also hearing that Buchert supporters are telling District 6 voters that she'll be able to get more done for the district because she's married to the assistant director of Public Works. If I read the City Charter correctly, Theresa won't even be able to tell Mike to take out the trash or take the bus to work, much less which street to fix, if she's elected to the Council. From Article 2, Section 19:
The Council and Councilors shall not give orders to any subordinate of the Mayor, either publicly or privately; provided, the prohibitions of this sentence shall not apply to the City Clerk and the City Attorney. Violation of this Section by any Councilor shall constitute willful maladministration and be sufficient grounds for removal from office as provided by the laws of Oklahoma.
That's serious stuff. The whole point of having a professional civil service is to avoid even the appearance that maintenance and construction of basic infrastructure is subject to political pressure. There's already suspicion that Public Works' actions regarding a sewer main for a new subdivision in east Tulsa had nothing to do with the merits of the project and everything to do with the desire to hand a defeat to Mautino not long before the election.
Jim Mautino is the first real representation District 6 has ever had, and I believe the voters in east Tulsa understand that. Back before the 2004 election, I wrote about Jim Mautino, why I thought he'd be a great councilor, and why it was time to retire Art Justis. I stand by every word I wrote.
Why are the Transport Workers' Union (TWU) and the Building Trades Council supporting Mayor Bill LaFortune's, instead of backing one of the Democratic candidates. According to John Wylie, posting as "lakeleader" over at the OKDemocrat bulletin board, the unions don't trust Taylor or McCorkell:
LaFortune has offered some kind of guarantee which these unions do trust about use of union workers on the city projects LaFortune backs. That means jobs for union workers. They also recognize the other GOP contenders as jokes.
So they hold their nose and vote for LaFortune. In return, they believe they will get the jobs their members so badly need.
LaFortune is guaranteeing the use of union workers on city projects? Is that promise that he can keep, legally? And if he can, is that a promise that will endear him to Republican voters?
Tulsans for Better Government (TBG), the group promoting a petition to dismember three Tulsa City Council districts and adding three supercouncilor seats (to be elected citywide to four year terms), filed ethics reports with the City Clerk's office, as required by state law. As of December 31, 2005, the group has accumulated $66,350.00 and has spent $18,882.14. Given that they suspended the petition drive on December 5, it will be interesting to see what they do with the remaining money.
Here is the list of donors disclosed on those forms, in descending order of amount contributed:
|12/30/2005||Tulsa World||P. O. Box 26750, OKC 73126||$10,000.00|
|11/30/2005||George Kaiser Family Fndtn||7020 S. Yale, Tulsa OK 74136||$5,000.00|
|12/16/2005||Ram Energy||5100 E Skelly Dr, Tulsa OK 74135||$5,000.00|
|11/9/2005||Anchor Stone Company||2021 S. Lewis, Tulsa OK 74104||$4,000.00|
|10/18/2005||Howard G. Barnett||6742 S Evanston, Tulsa OK 74136||$3,000.00|
|10/18/2005||A.H. McElroy, II||1964 E 45th Pl, Tulsa OK 74105||$3,000.00|
|10/31/2005||Hughes Lumber Company||P.O. Box 2220, Tulsa OK 74101||$3,000.00|
|11/16/2005||Ruth K. Nelson Revocable Trust||1350 S. Boulder, Tulsa OK 74119||$3,000.00|
|11/16/2005||Mike D. Case||4200 E. Skelly Drive, Tulsa OK 74135||$3,000.00|
|11/30/2005||Leonard J. Eaton, Jr.||2617 E 26th Pl., Tulsa OK 74114||$3,000.00|
|12/16/2005||Robert J. LaFortune||427 S. Boston, Tulsa OK 74103||$2,500.00|
|11/22/2005||Coury Properties||201 W. 5th St, Tulsa OK 74103||$1,500.00|
|10/31/2005||Ted Sherwood & Associates||15 W 6th Suite 2112, Tulsa OK 74119||$1,000.00|
|11/4/2005||Capitol Club||Tulsa OK||$1,000.00|
|11/4/2005||Joseph McGraw||10900 Louisville, Jenks OK 74137||$1,000.00|
|11/16/2005||MidFirst Bank||PO Box 26750, OKC OK 73126||$1,000.00|
|11/16/2005||Jack and Maxine Zarrow||2660 S. Birmingham Pl., Tulsa OK 74114||$1,000.00|
|11/16/2005||Philip C. Lauinger, Jr.||320 S. Boston, Tulsa OK 74103||$1,000.00|
|11/16/2005||Robert A. Franden||525 S. Main, Tulsa OK 74103||$1,000.00|
|11/22/2005||GBR Properties, Inc.||6660 S. Sheridan, Tulsa OK 74133||$1,000.00|
|11/30/2005||Frontier Energy Services LLC||4200 E. Skelly Dr, Tulsa OK 74135||$1,000.00|
|11/30/2005||Richard Minshall||2444 E 26th Pl., Tulsa OK 74114||$1,000.00|
|12/16/2005||Stephen J. Heyman||3200 First Place Tower, Tulsa OK 74103||$1,000.00|
|11/16/2005||Midwesco Industries||P. O. Box 3445, Tulsa OK 74101||$750.00|
|11/16/2005||BHC Pipe & Equipment Co.||P. O. Box 701166, Tulsa OK 74170||$500.00|
|11/22/2005||Ranch Acres Wine & Spirits||3324 A E. 31st, Tulsa OK 74135||$500.00|
|11/16/2005||Donald B. Atkins||1406 S. Terrace Dr., Tulsa OK 74104||$300.00|
|11/22/2005||James M. Hewgley, Jr. Trust||427 S Boston, Tulsa OK 74103||$300.00|
|11/16/2005||Paula Marshall-Chapman||P. O. Box 4829, Tulsa OK 74159||$250.00|
No time to analyze this, but feel free to comment on who gave, their connections with various interests, and their possible motivations.
The rumors are true. Oral Roberts University government professor Tim Brooker sent an e-mail from his university e-mail address, recruiting students to work for Randi Miller, the candidate for Tulsa mayor who has been endorsed by ORU president Richard Roberts. Steve Roemerman, himself a graduate of a Pentecostal-affiliated college, obtained and has posted a copy of Brooker's e-mail. What is striking is the tone of the e-mail. Brooker isn't telling the students about an opportunity to work for a candidate; he's challenging them to prove that ORU is a mighty political machine:
Our ORU reputation has been challenged!!! President Roberts has thrown his support behind Randi Miller for Mayor of Tulsa. The opposition has been quoted as saying that "ORU is a paper tiger" and "they can't deliver what's needed to win this race.". Well guess what, we need to show them just what we CAN deliver.
Am I misremembering, or didn't Roberts state that he was endorsing Miller in his capacity as a private individual only, and not as president of ORU?
And who's the "opposition" to ORU of whom Brooker speaks? TU? Valparaiso? IUPUI? Or does he mean that Bill LaFortune or Brigitte Harper or Chris Medlock is opposed to ORU in some way?
There's a fib here in his claim of opposition trash talk. Every one of the Republican candidates has immense respect for ORU as an institution and for the energy of the ORU students who volunteer for campaigns. I've worked alongside ORU student volunteers and have been very impressed. (These students had volunteered as individuals, not as part of some faculty-orchestrated mobilization.)
The e-mail goes on to direct volunteers not to the Miller campaign HQ off-campus, but to the ORU government department office to sign up to help.
There's no good reason for Brooker to goad his students into working for one particular candidate for mayor. Each campaign would provide students with useful grass-roots campaign experience. All of the Republican candidates are social conservatives, in line with traditional Judeo-Christian values. They all respect ORU's role in the community, and all three who have been elected officials have worked to help ORU with its city-related needs, like improvements on Fred Creek.
The only reason for Richard Roberts to throw his official weight behind one candidate is to try to establish himself as boss of a political machine. Somehow I don't think the little old ladies who sent in their seed-faith offerings to build ORU had that in mind.
I'd expect ORU to make Brooker the scapegoat in this matter, but I can't imagine that a professor would send that sort of e-mail without the approval and knowledge of his superiors.
Citizens for Fair and Clean Government is holding a candidate forum this Saturday night from 5 to 9 at Rudisill Regional Library, 1520 N. Hartford. This morning there was this report on their blog:
Joshua [Kennedy, Executive Administrator] over at Randi Miller’s headquarters initially accepted our invite to the Saturday night Debate/ Town Hall meeting. They asked for a list of questions that were to be asked, we told them it would be moderated questions from the audience. They immediately stated they were sorry but Randi had a previous appointment for that time slot. Question? Did Randi get cold feet at the prospect of having to answer some tough questions or did she really have a prior appointment? You decide.
Maybe she's going to be washing her hair that night.
UPDATED at the request of Joshua Kennedy, Executive Administrator (see comments).
This situation regarding South Tulsa Citizens' Coalition (STCC) spokesman Michael Covey and the fundraiser he's holding for City Councilor Bill Christiansen just gets smellier and smellier. I'm now in receipt of six nearly identical e-mails from the same IP address, but with different "from" addresses and sender names. It has Jim Burdge's sloppy, slimy fingerprints all over it. Burdge is campaign consultant to Christiansen and was involved in the campaign to recall Chris Medlock and Jim Mautino, an effort which involved slimy fake newspapers ("The Tulsa Tribunal") and deceptive phone messages the night before the election.
(UPDATE: The IP address from which the e-mails originated, 188.8.131.52, is part of a dedicated block of IP addresses registered to Syntroleum. There may be no connection, but Michael Covey's wife Carla is an executive with Syntroleum.)
The e-mail accuses me and others of attacking Michael Covey and being motivated by hatred of Bill Christiansen. I don't believe what I have said or written constitutes an attack on anyone. I have no personal animosity toward Bill Christiansen. I disagree with him on many matters of public policy, and while we have on occasion been on the same side of an issue, on balance I think his continued presence on the City Council is bad for the City of Tulsa.
Here's what all the fuss is about: I published an entry on Saturday evening reflecting my personal observation of the south Tulsa toll bridge proposals put forward by Cliff Magee and Bill Christiansen earlier in the week. (Magee's plan was released on Monday, Christiansen read his, in the form of a resolution, at Thursday's Council meeting.) That same evening, I received some perturbed e-mails from STCC webmaster Dave Wolfard and Michael Covey. Wolfard's e-mails were more hostile in tone. Covey's were more polished and professional, but nevertheless included the demand that I remove what I wrote from the site or else publish his argument against Cliff Magee and in support of Bill Christiansen in full "as soon as possible." Covey stated, in response to my question, that I could consider his e-mails as an official communication of the STCC. His two e-mails were sent between 10 pm and midnight Saturday, less than six hours after I published my entry.
The vehemence and speed of the response to my entry caused my antennae to go up. I was already aware that Covey was holding a fundraiser for Bill Christiansen, and it seemed strange to me that a group as large and diverse as the STCC -- a coalition of a couple of dozen homeowners' associations -- would be able to formulate an official response to my article within four or five hours of its posting. I decided that before taking any action I would confirm with some other officer of the STCC whether Covey's e-mails to me had in fact been cleared with the STCC board as official communications. Because Covey's e-mails came in late Saturday evening, I couldn't call anyone at that hour to verify them with anyone else.
On Sunday afternoon, Chris Medlock and I spoke to Ron MacLeod, STCC president. I had called Medlock, who has worked closely with STCC and is familiar with their structure, to ask who to contact, and Medlock suggested setting up a three-way call so we could talk to MacLeod at the same time. Although we each had our own concerns to address with MacLeod, it was useful for both of us to be in on the call, because it allowed me to hear what Medlock actually said to MacLeod, which is quite different than what Covey claimed, on KFAQ Monday morning, that Medlock said.
In response to my question, MacLeod, president of STCC, said that he had not seen the article I had posted here and had not seen the two e-mails that Covey sent me on Saturday, which were supposedly official communications from the organization. (I just looked back at both e-mails, and MacLeod had not been copied on either one.)
For the record, Medlock did not (as claimed on KFAQ by Covey, who was not a part of the phone call) try to swap support for Christiansen's bridge resolution for the STCC's endorsement in his mayoral campaign. He made it clear that he understands their neutrality in upcoming city elections, as they'll have to work with whoever is elected, but he pointed out that having the organization's spokesman hold a fundraiser for a candidate gives the impression of an endorsement by the organization. Medlock also told MacLeod about how other councilors seemed to regard Christiansen's resolution, that they would rather not see Christiansen back on the Council, because of his votes on issues other than the bridge, and were not going to be inclined to back a resolution just to aid his re-election effort.
(This just came to mind: A City Council can't bind future councils. What good does it do to pass a non-binding resolution when any city action can't possibly happen until after the election, at which point we will have at least four new City Councilors and possibly a new mayor? Wouldn't it be more useful to get as many council and mayoral candidates as possible on record in support of the STCC's position?)
Regarding the Mayor's race, Medlock simply asked for the opportunity to make his case directly to the STCC membership, either at a membership meeting or via their mailing list. He explicitly said he wasn't asking for any special treatment -- he would be happy for all the mayoral candidates to have the chance to communicate with the STCC membership -- but in light of his efforts on behalf of the STCC's cause he thought he deserved a chance to ask directly for the support of the STCC's members.
Late Sunday evening I received another e-mail from Covey, expressing dismay that I had checked with the organization's president regarding his e-mails. This reaction only served to increase my sense that something fishy was going on. If he really had been authorized to issue those statements on behalf of STCC, why should it bother him that I tried to confirm their status with the president of the organization?
After Covey's appearance on Michael DelGiorno's Monday morning show, I phoned in to relate the above events in my usual monotonous tone. There was no ranting or attacking of Mr. Covey or anyone else, just puzzlement over the intensity of the push to get me to remove what I had written.
Later on Monday, I received a puzzling e-mail complaining about what DelGiorno, Medlock, and I "did" to Covey on DelGiorno's program. It was apparent my correspondent hadn't actually heard the show himself; Medlock was not on the show at all on Monday.
Monday night I began to detail all this for publication here, but had to stop because it was getting late, and I had to be up early for my regular slot on KFAQ. (I still want to publish all the e-mail traffic, but before I do, I am going to remove or hide e-mail addresses -- I don't want anyone's personal e-mail address to become fodder for the spambots.) I posted that I wasn't ready to post anuthing yet. Over the course of Tuesday I received a couple of more e-mails from Dave Wolfard -- one quite lengthy, another that simply said, "I hope that your post is not ready because you are researching the facts and not simply because you are trying to find a way to justify your political position." (No, Dave, it wasn't ready, because I have a full-time job, a wife recovering from C-section surgery, and three kids to help take care of, and I do want to take the time to be careful and fair about how I communicate.)
One of the other accusations made in tonight's e-mail barrage is that Medlock and I "had Delgiorno berate" Covey on the air. No one had to prompt DelGiorno to say what he did about Covey's support for Bill Christiansen.
Remember that Christiansen is suing DelGiorno and Journal Broadcast Group (KFAQ's parent company) over DelGiorno's comments regarding the FAA investigation of complaints that the Tulsa Airport Authority has discriminated in favor of Christiansen's business at Jones Riverside Airport. Christiansen's suit looks very much like a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation -- a SLAPP -- a tactic used by public officials to silence their critics. Christiansen has been accused of using his position as a City Councilor and his relationship with a member of the Tulsa Airport Authority board to enhance his own business situation and to put obstacles in the way of his competitors. The FAA is still in the process of conducting its investigation, and they've called the City's attention to several concerns and have asked the City to either change or justify certain practices.
It boils down to this: KFAQ's Michael DelGiorno show has provided a platform for grass-roots organizers all over the city to bypass traditional media and get their message out to a wide audience. In particular, DelGiorno has supported STCC's efforts to communicate their concerns about the south Tulsa toll bridge. Not only has he given their spokesman, Michael Covey, the opportunity to speak on the air, DelGiorno has been an advocate against the insider bridge deal.
I think it's fair to say that, although Covey's skills as a public speaker are considerable, KFAQ has exposed those skills to a broader audience than any other medium.
Covey, in "gratitude" for DelGiorno's support on this issue and the exposure he's received through DelGiorno, is holding a fundraiser to help re-elect Bill Christiansen, the man who has filed a lawsuit that threatens to shut down DelGiorno and KFAQ as a voice for reform and clean government. Can you understand why DelGiorno might feel used? Can you understand why he might be provoked to anger? Can you understand why he no longer wants to provide Covey with a platform?
Dave Schuttler received a copy of the e-mail Covey sent me late Saturday night, and he noticed something interesting. Covey wrote:
While I cannot speak to other issues involving Councilor Christiansen, I can say that Councilor Christiansen has unequivocally supported the citizens of the City of Tulsa on the Bridge.
Schuttler reacted to that quote and another statement by Covey taking issue with Cliff Magee being new to the bridge issue:
It seems that Mr. Covey didn't like the fact the Mr. Magee wasn't knowledgeable on the bridge issue. But he has no problem claiming that he himself is not knowledgeable about Christiansen and his problems with the FAA or the lawsuit against MDG and KFAQ.Now Mr. Covey will hold a fund raiser for Christiansen without knowing anything more about him than that he will back a resolution on the bridge?
As I said on KFAQ, holding a fundraiser for a candidate is about the strongest endorsement you can give him. Covey's claim of ignorance about Christiansen's complete political record and the situation at Jones Riverside Airport is either disingenuous or an example of extreme political tunnel vision.
One more thing: The suspect barrage of e-mails accuses me of pushing my own personal and political agendas. I'm also told that a seldom-visited website (I assume seldom, because the site's stats aren't open to public view -- embarrassingly small, perhaps?) has accused me of spinning for a particular mayoral candidate because I'm desperate for a job.
My only interest in local politics is as someone who has lived in this city most of my life, who owns a home in this city, and who works in this city. I want to see honorable, wise, intelligent people elected to office, to see our government work to serve all the people of Tulsa, not just a favored few. I am tired of seeing local government ignore the basics and spend money in ways that do nothing to improve the local economy or the beauty of our city. I'm tired of ward politicians like Bill Christiansen who do just enough to keep their own constituents happy, but who undermine important reform efforts that would benefit the entire city.
The results of the elections will have absolutely no financial impact on me. I have a full-time private-sector job with a Tulsa-based company that has absolutely no dealings with local government. The job pays well -- not Sam Roop money, but plenty for our family's needs -- and has excellent benefits, and I have a great deal of respect for the company's leadership and my fellow employees. The company has been very helpful in dealing with some issues involving benefits and our family's new addition. As honored as I would be to be asked to serve in a mayoral administration, I won't be leaving my current job. I owe it to the company to give them a return on the investment they've made in me, and I owe it to my family to earn a living in a more stable environment than the political realm. Paid public service -- either as an elected or appointed official -- is years, maybe decades, in the future for me.
A City of Tulsa work crew has been removing legally-placed campaign signs from private property, apparently for the "crime" of being visible from an arterial street. Tulsa Topics has the story. He's also got photos of another obnoxious campaign sign technique -- sandwiching your opponents signs so that they aren't visible.
By the way, I am going to post something regarding the controversy that was aired on KFAQ on Monday morning, involving Michael Covey, Bill Christiansen, and Christiansen's proposed bridge resolution but it's not ready to publish yet. Tomorrow I hope to have it online.
Word reached me recently that Stephanie Cantees is very angry with me. Stephanie and I have met, spoken on the phone a few times, and have been on the same side of a number of issues, so I was sorry to hear that she may be angry with me.
Stephanie Cantees is a Realtor, and she was appointed by Mayor Bill LaFortune to the Tulsa Metropolitan Area Planning Commission. She is a very close friend of County Commissioner Randi Miller, who is running for Mayor. She is also the sister of Lindsay Roberts, who is the wife of Richard Roberts, president of Oral Roberts University (ORU).
I am told that Stephanie is upset because I have been threatening ORU's 501(c)(3) non-profit status. I have done nothing of the sort, but I think I understand how that impression may have been created.
I heard from a couple of trustworthy sources that, following Richard Roberts' endorsement of Randi Miller for Mayor, Dr. Tim Brooker, ORU assistant professor of government, sent an e-mail to his students, recruiting them to volunteer on Miller's campaign. I was told that the e-mail emphasized the need to make ORU a political powerhouse on the local scene. I was also told that ORU gave the Miller campaign an office to use. (Confirmed -- see UPDATE 2/2/2006 below.)
I contacted a couple of people I know with ORU connections to see if I could get a copy of the e-mail that was sent to Brooker's students, but had no success.
A week ago Friday, following the mayoral debate at the Tulsa County Republican Men's Club, I asked an ORU alum about the rumored e-mail. I was told that Prof. Brooker was there and presently was introduced to him.
I told Prof. Brooker that I had heard this rumor and wanted to ask him about it. He had an expression on his face that I read as disgust.
Brooker said something about there being a lot of disinformation about. He also said something about knowing the limits of the law. He did acknowledge sending an e-mail to students to alert them to opportunities to gain campaign experience.
I told him that it might help to clear it up if he were to forward a copy of the e-mail to me; I'd be glad to publish it on BatesLine. I gave him my card, which has my blog e-mail address on it. To date, I have not received a reply. I have heard that there is some unrest on the ORU faculty about this issue, some concern about the impact on the university of throwing support and student manpower behind a particular candidate.
If any of you readers received a copy of the e-mail, preferably directly from Prof. Brooker, I'd appreciate it if you would forward it on, if possible with the complete set of headers attached. (That helps to authenticate an e-mail as genuine.)
In the past, Brooker has helped facilitate ORU student volunteering for candidates all over the country. Here's a bit from a story in ORU's alumni magazine:
At a Washington, D.C., conference in early 2002, Brooker and his department chair, Dr. John Swails, were approached by a Republican National Committee representative - who worked with ORU alumnus David Barton during that election cycle - with an intriguing idea: to use Christian college students as "foot soldiers," Brooker said, who would "go out and campaign in the hot, highly contested areas." The trick was finding responsible students who would do a good job.
The ORU professors agreed to give it a go, and during fall break of 2002, 35 ORU students made their first official campaign trip to Colorado. The campaign managers were so blown away, they asked ORU to come back two weeks later and bring more students. According to Brooker, "in that 96 hours before the 2002 election, we made about 40,000 phone calls, we personally canvassed 252 precincts in Denver - just ORU students - and who knows how many tens of thousands of pieces of direct mail we sent out." All three candidates - Bob Beauprez, Bill Owens, and Wayne Allard - won their races.
The story goes on to mention two Greyhound buses that took ORU students to campaign for Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour in 2003, and the efforts of 181 students on behalf of Tulsa's general obligation bond issue, which was on the ballot last May. (That bond issue included $15.25 million to make long-overdue improvements to Fred Creek, which flows through the ORU campus.)
Here's an interesting quote from that link about the bond issue -- another alumni magazine story:
Dr. Brooker's operation involved long evenings of "phone-banking," as students went through a list of roughly 38,000 names to zero in on the yes-vote base. Then, he had about 20 teams of student volunteers canvassing two precincts each, so that on any given Saturday students were making an impact on up to 40 precincts at a time.
"Ordinarily, we don't campaign in local politics because they tend to be partisan races," Brooker said. "This was not partisan, and it gave us a chance to demonstrate the campaign skills that have been developed throughout the country."
Here's another alumni newsletter blurb about the ORU students who campaigned in Colorado in 2002:
The students did not know which politicians they would assist prior to the trip, but soon learned about the platforms of each of the candidates. They compiled and distributed campaign literature, attended rallies, and helped with mailings.
I recall hearing some frustration from Oklahoma political insiders that Brooker was uninterested in state races in 2002 and was taking his students out of state instead.
I think it's great that government students have the opportunity to learn about the nuts and bolts of political campaigns. I'm glad that the students lent their assistance to candidates and causes that I support. I feel certain that ORU is very careful to structure these campaign excursions to avoid damaging the university's tax exempt status.
But it doesn't seem right for the university to control the flow of information to these students about opportunities to volunteer for campaigns. A student ought to be able to pick a candidate to help based on his political values and priorities. The point, after all, is not for the university to flex its political muscle, but for the students to get practical political experience. The university could facilitate this by allowing any campaign to post notices of campaign opportunities to an electronic bulletin board, just as career offices allow companies to post job opportunities.
ORU students just might prefer to help the mayoral candidate who pushed to get funding for Fred Creek flood control, who lives just a quarter-mile from campus, and who attends every ORU home basketball game that he can. (That would be Chris Medlock, and, by the way, he's having a volunteer event tomorrow morning -- Saturday, January 28 -- at his new campaign HQ at the International Dental Arts Bldg., at 69th & Canton, just north of the QuikTrip near 71st and Yale. Call 269 - 2822 for more information. There's an open house tomorrow, too, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.)
UPDATE (1/28/2006): From a reliable ORU-related source, I've heard that Brooker and department chairman John Swails argued against throwing the university's weight behind one candidate, for this pragmatic reason, among others: What if we back the loser? I've also heard that an e-mail from the department head went out reaffirming the university's policy on political involvement. According to my source, any candidate whose platform is consistent with ORU's mission and values will be welcome to seek volunteers from the student body. Also, there are plans afoot for a candidate forum, which would allow ORU students to hear from all the mayoral candidates. I'm encouraged to hear all this.
UPDATE (2/2/2006): The e-mail from Brooker is the real deal, and it's way over the top. Steve Roemerman has the scoop.
David Schuttler has video of nearly all of Friday's Republican mayoral forum. I've extracted the audio from his video, plus I've got audio from another source that fills in some of David's gaps -- I'll post it later, once I can piece it all together.
A debate featuring all four GOP candidates, sponsored by the Tulsa County Republican Men's Club. Bobby at Tulsa Topics has the details.
Some good pieces out there by Tulsa's news bloggers on the 2006 city elections:
Bobby has the details about a meeting Saturday morning to organize volunteers for the Medlock for Mayor campaign. If you'd like to help out, the meeting is at The Embers at 71st and Harvard from 10 to 11.
Steve Roemerman, in an impressive bit of reporting, cornered District 6 candidate Theresa Buchert, whose husband Mike Buchert is assistant director of the City of Tulsa Public Works department, and asked her for some straight answers, which weren't forthcoming.
MeeCiteeWurkor explains why Randi Miller should not be Mayor, notices that Bill LaFortune's website no longer has the roster of his campaign committee, and makes some requests of mayoral candidates on behalf of his fellow wurkors.
There's plenty more, but I'm tired and the baby's asleep, and so should I be. Check out the latest from all the Tulsa bloggers at TulsaBloggers.net.
Nothing new tonight. I'm too hacked off about things I know but can't tell. If you don't want to get stuck with another four years of lousy leadership in Tulsa's Mayor's office, get to praying.
Confidential to a certain Washington observer of Tulsa politics: Your local "eyes and ears" is leading you astray, probably to suit his own financial interests. If you follow his advice, you can pretty much bet on your least desired outcome coming to pass. You bet on the wrong horse in 2004, why make the same mistake twice?
Here's who filed for Tulsa city offices today, the final day of the filing period.
Mayor: Northside neighborhood activist James Alexander Jr. (Democrat), James Oliver Desmond Jr. (Democrat), Benford L Faulk (Independent), County Commissioner Randi Miller (Republican), Paul C. Tay (Independent).
District 1: Roger Lowry (Democrat -- Lowry was the GOP nominee in 2004).
District 3: Gerald A. Rapson (Republican).
District 4: Robert C. Bartlett (Republican).
District 5: Doug Linson (Republican), neighborhood activist Al Nichols (Democrat -- finished 4th in the May special election to fill Sam Roop's seat).
District 9: Phil Kates (Democrat).
Below is the complete and final list of filers. There won't be a general election in Districts 1, 2, 7, or 8. District 2, which was held by Democrat Darla Hall for 10 years, didn't draw a single Democratic candidate. There's a Republican in 3 and a single Democrat in each of 6 and 9, but the odds favor the majority party in each district. Only 4 and 5 promise to have a competitive general election, but the mayoral race will more than make up for that.
Full list of candidates, organized by office and party, after the jump.
It appears that someone is trying to rewrite history in a hurry.
Kathy Taylor, Democrat, Oklahoma Secretary of Commerce, and late entrant into the mayoral race, has had her name removed from the advisory board of Tulsans for Better Government, the group pushing to dismember three City Council districts and add three supercouncilors who would be elected citywide for four-year terms.
Grass-roots Democrats and Republicans alike decried this obvious power grab by the old city elite, and the petition drive to get the amendment on the ballot was failing for lack of popular support when the plug was pulled.
Here is the Tulsans for Better Government roster as last captured by Google on Jan 7, 2006 20:09:35 GMT. (Note: This will change as soon as Google rescans the website.)
Click the image to see a side-by-side comparison:
It's the same list except one name has been removed -- Kathy Taylor. Very interesting.
Note, by the way, that County Commissioner and recently announced mayoral candidate Randi Miller is still on the list.
There's spin out there that Tulsans for Better Government was just a group interested generally in reform, and that's all that membership of the advisory board means; that we shouldn't conclude that Taylor and Miller approved of the petition just because they were on the advisory board. In fact, this group didn't have a public existence until they filed a petition with the City Clerk's office seeking very specific amendments to the City Charter. This proposal is the sole reason for the group's existence.
Taylor and Miller have had since the group's launch in October to publicly announce their opposition to the proposal, if indeed they were opposed, but they haven't done so.
New filers in only a handful of council races. No one new in the Mayor's or Auditor's race. Tuesday is usually a slow day, with most announced candidates filing on Monday and late deciders waiting until Wednesday to jump in.
District 2: As expected, Republican Rick Westcott filed.
District 4: As expected, Democrats Maria Barnes and John E. "Jack" Wing filed, as did Republican Kent Morlan and Democrat Charles Stewart McKinnon. (I'd forgotten that Morlan had previously announced.) I wonder: A candidate use a nickname on the ballot, but Wing filed under his legal name, John E. Wing, even though everyone seems to refer to him as Jack. Will the Tulsa Whirled be consistent and use sneer quotes around his nickname?
District 6: Theresa Buchert, the wife of City of Tulsa assistant public works director Mike Buchert, filed as a Republican running against Jim Mautino. Buchert supported Democrat Art Justis' reelection two years ago. Dennis K. Troyer filed as a Democrat.
District 7: Gary R. Zarley filed as a Republican.
I stopped by the Tulsa County Election Board about 30 minutes ago and found out who has jumped in on the first day of filing.
The rumors of Bill LaFortune's departure from the race turned out to be only rumors. He filed for re-election today as a Republican. His primary opponents so far are City Councilor Chris Medlock and Brigitte Harper (former Tulsa County Republican Party vice chairman), both of whom declared their candidacy some months ago.
On the Democrat side, former State Rep. and Great Plains Airlines investor and director Don McCorkell filed, as did State Commerce Secretary Kathy Taylor. Taylor has been rumored as a 1st Congressional District candidate, but she has much better odds running for Mayor. Prophet-Kelly L. Clark Sr., who ran as a Republican for the District 7 City Council seat in 2004, and who is a frequent speaker at city council meetings, filed, as did Accountability Burns, aka Einstein 5, who in years past has run for Mayor, City Auditor, and various seats on the pre-1989 City Commission.
Announced but not running is City Councilor Tom Baker, who was seen at the Election Board this afternoon in Kathy Taylor's entourage. He's apparently not running for re-election to his current seat either.
Phil Wood, incumbent since before the current charter was adopted in 1989, has filed for re-election as a Democrat. This may be the race with the largest age gap: Michael Willis, 25-year-old aide to Bill LaFortune, has filed as a Republican. Wood turned 82 last month.
District 1: Councilor Jack Henderson, a Democrat, is the only filer so far. There are no other announced candidates.
District 2: This is an open seat because the incumbent, Chris Medlock, is running for Mayor. Paul F. Prather, an attorney who lives in the neighborhood south of Southern Hills Country Club, filed as a Republican today. Another Republican, Rick Westcott, who headed up Tulsans for Election Integrity, the group that opposed last summer's recall election, has announced and is expected to file. Jeannie Cue, sister of County Commissioner (and former District 2 Councilor) Randi Miller, began campaigning, but I am told that she has dropped out and is supporting Westcott.
District 3: Just two filings today, setting up another Democratic primary rematch between incumbent Councilor Roscoe H. Turner and former incumbent David Patrick. In 2004, Turner won a re-vote with 54% after the original vote was invalidated because enough Republicans voted in the Democrat primary to make the true outcome mathematically unknowable.
District 4: Just one filing today: Republican Rick Brinkley, president of the local Better Business Bureau office, and immediate past president of the Downtown Kiwanis Club. Neighborhood leader Maria Barnes and real estate agent Jack Wing are expected to file as Democrats. Eric Gomez, who came within 30 votes of beating incumbent Tom Baker in 2004, likely won't be running.
District 5: Incumbent Bill "29%" Martinson has filed for re-election as a Republican, and he has drawn one primary opponent so far: John Gregory Madden III. 26-year-old Jon Kirby has filed as a Democrat.
District 6: Incumbent Republican Jim Mautino was today's only filer.
District 7: Republican attorney John Eagleton has filed for his third attempt to win this seat. Until today, he had no announced opposition, but today he drew as a primary opponent Robert A. Gwin Jr. I seem to recall that Gwin ran for Mayor or some other city office in the past. Randy Sullivan, who abandoned the district in December 2003, isn't seeking re-election here or in the district he moved to.
District 8: Incumbent Republican Bill Christiansen has drawn a formidable primary opponent in Cliff Magee.
District 9: Attorney Cason Carter and William J. Stava III, filed as Republicans. Incumbent Susan Neal isn't seeking re-election.
Out of time for now -- I'll hotlink names and add details later.
It's been the guess of many a Republican insider that Tulsa Mayor Bill LaFortune would end up not seeking re-election. For one thing, it fits the pattern of his career to date. He was appointed to fill a vacancy as District Attorney, but didn't even finish out the term, much less seek re-election, instead taking a position with a private law firm. LaFortune has alienated most of his Republican party base and had very weak re-elect numbers in recent polls. For an incumbent, less than 50% support in your own party is a political death sentence. You will either lose the primary, or if you survive, the lack of an enthusiastic base will kill you in the general. (See Bush, George H. W., 1992 re-election campaign of.) There had been rumors of problems raising campaign funds and spending funds unwisely. And there were rumors that high-ranking Republican officials have been working for the better part of a year to find him a Bush administration sinecure, to give him a face-saving exit.
Rusty Goodman, a Democrat political activist who runs the okdemocrat message board, posted tonight that he had heard that a position in the Southwest Power Administration has been secured for LaFortune. SWPA is headquartered in Tulsa.
If true, it will be fascinating to watch how things shake out in the race to replace him.
A reader writes to say that City Councilor Tom Baker announced at a Democrat fundraiser over the weekend that he will be running for Mayor. My correspondent linked to this BatesLine entry about Baker from the 2004 Council elections and indicated that his stump speech this weekend was along the same bureaucratic lines. Whatever his virtues, Baker is, to quote myself, "a bureaucrat to the core." In describing his modus operandi, I wrote:
Another key bureaucratic skill is the ability to make decisions in a way that avoids accountability for the results. A proven technique for achieving this is to develop a process involving quantifying the intangible and unquantifyable, then putting the numbers through complex formulas, and hallowing the result as Vox Dei. This technique dates back at least as far as Aaron at the base of Mt. Sinai: "While I may or may not personally have chosen a golden calf as an object of worship, it emerged from our board-certified, ISO-9000 compliant process of evaluating this nomadic community's quality of life, to which all stakeholders previously agreed, and so we must all accept the result."
I've been told that Don McCorkell, another Democrat running for Mayor, has a bit of a charisma deficit. Perhaps Baker has been asked to run in order to make McCorkell look like the love child of JFK and Bill Clinton by comparison. It's interesting that the same entity -- called "Gear Up" -- registered both bakerformayor.com and donmccorkell.com back on October 8, using the phone number for directory assistance in San Francisco (415-555-1212). The domains aren't just parked either. On November 7, both domains were pointed to domain name servers at aquesthosting.com, a North Carolina based hosting firm.
Maybe this is going to be a pro-wrestling kind of primary, a staged fight that will keep McCorkell in the news during the fireworks of the Republican primary between LaFortune, Medlock, and perhaps two or three others. Baker could take potshots at the Republicans (to be duly reported and editorialized by the Whirled), while McCorkell accentuates the positive and keeps from sullying himself with negative campaigning. Baker loses graciously with the promise of his dream job in the McCorkell Administration: head of the process to develop the process-development process.
Former Democrat state representative, Great Plains Airlines board member, and multi-level marketing maven Don McCorkell has sent a letter asking for the help and advice of his friends and allies as he decides whether to run for Mayor of Tulsa. Here's the letter as a 400 KB PDF file. The way I read it, he's all but decided to make the run.
I have not made a final decision about the race. I will decide after I have the opportunity to personally visit with individuals like yourself that take an active role in our city. Frankly, I would have no interest in wasting time and resources on small thinking or small challenges. Life is too short for that. I believe the friends urging me to run for Mayor of Tulsa are correct in their assessment that this community, not only needs, but also wants some bold and imaginative leadership. I believe that I could play a role in providing such leadership.
Greg Bledsoe put together this list of the members of Tulsans for "Badder" Government (Greg's name for the bunch behind the at-large council scheme), what they do or did, and where they live. The number at the beginning of each line is the council district in which that person lives -- 0 means that person doesn't live in Tulsa. (I've added a few details, and cleaned up the formatting.)
9 - Chip McElroy, 1964 E. 45th PL -- CEO McElroy Manufacturing, supporter of Mayor Lafortune, hosted campaign kick-off rally, Trustee Univ. of Tulsa.
9 - Ted Sherwood, 3802 S. Delaware Av -- trial lawyer.
9 - Len & Patty Eaton, 2617 E. 26th PL -- Len, former Pres/CEO BOk, Patty former Water & Sewer Commissioner under at-large system, ran unsuccessfully for Mayor as independent in 1986 against Tom Quinn and Dick Crawford.
2 - Howard Barnett, 6742 S. Evanston, just south of SHCC -- former chief of staff to Gov. Frank Keating, investment banker, managing director of TSF Capital, LLC.
0 - David Riggs, N. of Sand Springs, Osage Co., not a resident of Tulsa -- trial lawyer, former representative from Sand Springs, partner in the Riggs Abney law firm, which represents numerous government entities, mainly Tulsa County related: Tulsa County Public Facilities Authority, Emergency Medical Services Authority, Tulsa County Criminal Justice Authority, Tulsa County Juvenile Trust Auth.
9 - Robert LaFortune, 4444 Oak Rd -- former Mayor under at-large system 1970s, uncle of present Mayor and on his campaign committee.
9 - Ray & Nancy Feldman, 2120 E. 46th St. -- Ray lawyer, Nancy
2 - Tom Hughes, 6887 S. Evanston Av, just south of SHCC, Dist. 2 -- CEO Hughes Lumber, Member Tulsa Metro Chamber Board.
9 - Jim Hewgley Jr., 2454 E. 30th, -- former Mayor under at-large system, member LaFortune reelection committee.
2 - Norma Eagleton, 3210 E. 65th St, next to SHCC, Dist. 2 -- lawyer, former Corporation Commissioner, former Finance Commissioner under at-large system, on board of Tulsa Co. Juvenile Trust Auth, along with Jack O'Brien; the authority is represented by Riggs Abney law firm.
9 - Paula Marshall-Chapman, 2427 E. 41st, CEO Bama Pies, Trustee Univ. of Tulsa, Member Metro Chamber Board, Co-Chair Finance, LaFortune reelection committee, contributed $5000 to pro-recall group.
9 - C.S. Lewis, III, 2932 Woodward Blvd. -- lawyer Riggs Abney law firm, which represents numerous government entities - mainly Tulsa County related, former OU Board of Regents and former general counsel and member of the Executive Committee of the Metro Chamber.
9 - Dewey Bartlett, Jr., 50 Woodward Blvd. -- President, Keener Oil, District 9 City Councilor, 1990-94, unsuccessfully ran for Mayor against Susan Savage 1994 & against Tom Adelson, State Sen. Dist. 33, 2004.
9 - Sid Patterson, 2642 S. Columbia Pl, former Street Commissioner under at-large system in 1950s and 1970s, founder and first president of Up with Trees.
9 - Rob Johnson, 2539 S. Birmingham PL, lobbyist, Public Opinion, Inc.
(http://election.sdrdc.com/cgi-bin/ok97/lbforms04/L03333/5043/), represents Tyson Foods & others, former State Representative, Dist. 71 (overlaps much of Council District 9).
9 - Kathy Taylor, 2805 S. Columbia PL, lawyer, current Oklahoma Secretary of Commerce & Tourism, married to William Lobeck, CEO Vanguard Car Rental, former CEO Thrifty-Dollar Car Rental, both are Trustees of the Univ. of Tulsa.
9 - Joe Coleman, 2645 E. 41st, former Street Commissioner under at-large system and Architect, supporter of Tulsa Project 2001.
7 - Jack O'Brien, 5926 E. 53rd St., Dist. 7, former Finance Commissioner under at-large system, 1960s and 70s, member with Norma Eagleton on Tulsa County Juvenile Trust Auth., which is represented by Riggs Abney law firm.
2 - Randi Miller, 6924 S. 32 W. Ave, current Tulsa County Commissioner, former City Councilor, Dist. 2.
0 - Chad (Charles Hughes) Moody, (Jr.), 10914 S. 188th E. Ave., Broken Arrow, former Asst. Dist. Attorney under Tim Harris, attorney at the law firm of Rodolff and Todd.
Note that with four exceptions, everyone lives in District 9 or in the same square mile as Southern Hills Country Club, which is in District 2. Two members live out of the city, one member lives in District 7, and then there's Randi Miller, who lives west of the river. I've heard that Commissioner Miller has withdrawn her support for the plan, which makes sense because the at-large scheme would make her native westside irrelevant in both district and citywide elections. The westside population would amount at best to only a third of a district if the number of districts is cut to six.
Of the names on this list, Len and Patty Eaton, Norma Eagleton, and Tom Hughes each have a son who was a classmate of mine at Holland Hall (Alex, Rick, and Jeff, respectively), and Chip McElroy was in that same class at HH through 6th Grade -- he finished up at Edison. (Chip and I were also in the same Cub Scout den.)
I'm disappointed to see Dewey Bartlett Jr.'s name on the list. He was a neighborhood-friendly city councilor during his time in office. Under the plan he supports, his Bartlett Amendment would never have passed. It requires that any significant widening of Riverside Drive to be submitted to the voters as a separate ballot item. Perhaps he now deplores his own Council legacy.
Notice that this group includes Rob Johnson, a lobbyist for one of the companies responsible for chicken poop in our water supply. Perhaps he considers defending Tulsa against water pollution an example of narrow-minded, parochial politics.
Registrant Name:Straxis Straxis
Registrant Street1:11236 S. Mulberry Lane
Registrant Postal Code:74037
Registrant Phone Ext.:
Registrant FAX Ext.:
Nice to know the folks from Jenks are so interested in Tulsa's form of government.
Meanwhile, a commenter over at MeeCiteeWurkor's place makes a good point about the effect of the at-large council scheme:
If this idea goes through rich citizens will have bought a third of the votes on the council PLUS have their own council district vote. They would only need two of the six districts to vote with the at-large members to over-ride the other four districts.
That seems to be the idea.
UPDATE: A reader did some googling and found that that Jenks address belongs to Jeffrey Beasley, president of Straxis Technology LLC. He gained recognition back in May for being one of the top five fundraisers in the second week of the Tulsa Metro Chamber's annual Resource Campaign. Straxis joined the Chamber in April, and Jeff Beasley is the "crew leader" for the Policy and Governance committee of TYpros, the Chamber-controlled knockoff of YPTulsa, the independent young professionals' organization. (The co-leader of that crew is Michael Willis, who serves on Mayor Bill LaFortune's staff.)
UPDATE 11/2/2005: Jeff Beasley emails to say:
Please update your blog to accurately reflect our companies address and location.
Straxis Technology, LLC
507 S. Main, Suite 400
Tulsa, OK 74103
I'm glad to post the additional information, but I didn't post anything inaccurate. What you see above was the current domain registration record for tulsansforbettergovernment.com when I posted this entry on October 29. And here is the current domain registration record for straxis.com:
Straxis 11236 S. Mulberry Lane Jenks, Oklahoma 74037 US
Domain Name: STRAXIS.COM
Created on: 12-FEB-02
Expires on: 12-FEB-12
Last Updated on: 17-SEP-04
Administrative, Technical Contact:
11236 S. Mulberry Lane
Jenks, Oklahoma 74037
Domain servers in listed order:
I'm glad that Mr. Beasley has decided to relocate his business to downtown Tulsa, and I note that earlier today -- 6:35 a.m. local time! -- he updated the domain record for tulsansforbettergovernment.org to reflect the new address.
Created On:21-Oct-2005 12:05:53 UTC
Last Updated On:02-Nov-2005 12:35:41 UTC
Expiration Date:21-Oct-2006 12:05:53 UTC
Sponsoring Registrar:TLDs L.L.C. d/b/a SRSPlus (R78-LROR)
Status:CLIENT TRANSFER PROHIBITED
Registrant Name:Straxis Straxis
Registrant Street1:507 S. Main Suite 400
Registrant Postal Code:74103
Registrant Phone Ext.:
Registrant FAX Ext.:
Presumably he'll get around to updating the address on his company's domain record at some point.
The Jenks address appears to be a home address -- a JEFFREY S BEASLEY was registered to vote at that address as recently as last year.
Three Republicans have already declared their intentions to seek office: Councilor Chris Medlock, Mayor Bill LaFortune, and former Republican Party Vice Chairman and District 11 State Senate nominee Brigitte Harper. Councilor Bill Christiansen is widely expected to run, as long as his Benjamin'n'Burdge stablemates on the Council (Randy Sullivan and Bill Martinson) can fend off an audit comparing the actual records of fuel purchased and sold at his Jones Riverside Airport business to the fuel flow fees paid to the airport authority.
Despite the widespread disappointment in Bill LaFortune's performance as mayor -- less than 40% support for reelection in his own party according to the latest SoonerPoll.com survey -- no Tulsa Democrat has seized the opportunity to challenge a vulnerable incumbent. That says a lot about the weakness of the Democrat bench in Tulsa. It may also indicate that the Democrats who would have a shot at winning are too dependent on the same oligarchy that seems content with keeping LaFortune in place.
The name of Don McCorkell, former state rep, has been floated as a great Democrat hope. McCorkell is an attorney, but if the online court records are accurate, he doesn't seem to have practiced in about 15 years.
What has McCorkell been up to? In 1996, he finished second to humorist Jim Boren in the Democrat primary to face Jim Inhofe's first Senate reelection bid. In 1997, he was a lobbyist for CFS. He was an early investor and member of the Board of Directors of Great Plains Airlines, buying 10,000 common shares for $10 in December 1998, another 95,000 shares for $95 in October 1999, and 790,478 shares for $790 in May 2000, for a total of 915,478 common shares, about a sixth of the total. On July 1, 2000, he became one of the first four preferred shareholders in Great Plains, purchasing 11,676 preferred shares for $35,028, coincidentally the same number of shares and the same date as Steven Berlin and Great Plains Chairman David A. Johnson. (Steve Turnbo was the fourth of the first four. Berlin and Johnson also each bought 790,478 common shares in May 2000.) He is listed as a 1999-2000 registered lobbyist for the Tulsa Industrial Authority, which is mixed up in the mortgaging of Air Force Plant No. 3 for Great Plains financing. The listing indicated he terminated his lobbyist registration in that period.
Because of his service on the Great Plains Airlines Board of Directors, he and fellow board members have been personally sued by William Stricker, from whom Great Plains bought Ozark Air and its aircraft in March 2001.
It's been rumored that McCorkell is one of those who received in payments for services rendered to Great Plains more than he invested in Great Plains, but we'll have to wait until the records are released until we can know for sure.
Lately he seems to have been interested in multi-level marketing, which seems to be a good fit for anyone involved in the Great Plains deals. Anyone able to convince an entire state legislature to part with $30 million for a risky airline venture can probably talk people into being MLM downlines. He was or is president of something called Casafina International LLC, which was launched in October 2003. Here's the plan for CasaFina associates, and here's his letter to prospective vendors. Here's a bit of pre-launch hype.
Rodger Randle won his 1988 race for Mayor by holding meet-the-candidate coffees in living rooms all over town. If McCorkell runs, will he be the first candidate to use in-home "business opportunity presentations" as a campaign technique?
At least one group of Democrats seems despondent over the lack of someone credible to carry the Democrat banner next spring.
The Tulsa City Council voted tonight to set new election dates for the 2006 election season, in order to comply with new state laws designed to put enough space between primary and general elections to accommodate military absentee voters. The primary will be March 7th, general will be April 4th. These dates are closer together than the original dates, but by moving our dates to March and April, Tulsa qualifies for the same exemption that allowed Oklahoma City to keep their dates as is. Filing period will be Monday, January 9, through Wednesday, January 11.
(UPDATE: Fixed general election date, per comment from City Attorney Alan Jackere.)
Also tonight, the Council voted 4-3 to conduct fuel-flow audits to determine whether some aviation fuel vendors at Tulsa's airports have been underreporting sales to avoid paying the city all the fuel-flow fees they owe, in accordance with Section 203 of Title 1 of Tulsa Revised Ordinances. Henderson, Mautino, Medlock, and Turner voted yes, Martinson, Sullivan, and Neal voted no, Christiansen recused himself (his business sells aviation fuel at Jones Riverside Airport), and Baker was absent. Without a fifth vote, the motion failed. I have been hearing rumors about this for several years. If true, the city is being cheated out of fees that we are owed, and we have to wonder how the Tulsa Airport Authority managed not to notice for so long.
A poll of 500 likely Republican voters taken by SoonerPoll.com, commissioned by KOTV and the Tulsa World, shows Tulsa Mayor Bill LaFortune has the support of less than 40% of likely voters in his own party. There were as many undecided as supporters of LaFortune, and 37.1% of likely voters in his own party don't approve of his performance.
These are startlingly bad numbers for an incumbent Republican, and they point to either a primary defeat for LaFortune or a loss in the general election. GOP voters are notoriously loyal to their elected officials, and having less than 60% support in your own party would be a danger sign; less than 40% is a catastrophe. I can't think of a Republican incumbent at any level who survived to reelection with less than 40% party support four months before an election. Even George H. W. Bush's numbers were better than this.
Here's the KOTV story on the poll. KOTV and the Whirled have conflicting reports of Chris Medlock's approve/disapprove numbers -- the Whirled has it at 38.6% approve, 34.5% disapprove; KOTV reverses the numbers. Either way, Medlock has a tall hill to climb. It's interesting that he has about the same approval numbers as Bill Christiansen and Randi Miller, and much higher disapproval numbers, but has two to three times the support for Mayor. That suggests that Medlock's support base is pretty solid.
More analysis later.
You've probably noticed the new LaFortune for Mayor logo and slogan -- "LaFortune continued." Over the transom comes the first ad test using the new slogan:
Effective? What do you think?
It was the end of today's Republican barbecue, and I walked down the hill toward the pond to round up my kids and get them into the car. As I did, I noticed Mayor Bill LaFortune and his wife Kathy about to get into a big, beautiful, new silver SUV, a Dodge Durango. (Yeah, it's got a hemi.) What caught my eye was the Crown Bristow dealer's tag still on the tail of the vehicle -- no permanent tag yet.
The managing partner of Crown Bristow is Henry Primeaux, who used to own Crown Auto World, a major collection of dealerships near 46th and Sheridan in Tulsa. ("Sam's is still next door." Remember?) Primeaux also is co-operator of the Tulsa Talons Arena Football 2 team. Primeaux is on Bill LaFortune's re-election campaign committee.
Several possibilities came to mind. The LaFortunes may have bought or leased the Durango, or the campaign may be leasing it, but if so, why not buy or lease it from a dealer based in the City of Tulsa instead of 40 miles away? Or, Primeaux may have provided the vehicle as a loaner for the campaign or for the Mayor's personal use -- either way, there are ethics reporting requirements that would need to be met.
That the LaFortunes would buy such an expensive new vehicle seems doubtful, given this story: Sunday's picnic featured an auction, and several of the items auctioned were lunches with an elected official, with the elected official paying. Organizers tried to get both declared Republican mayoral candidates to participate. Councilor Chris Medlock agreed to treat the winning bidder to a meal. Mayor LaFortune insisted that the auction organizers find a restaurant that would feed him and the winning bidder for free. The organizers tried but couldn't find a place willing to "comp" the Mayor, so they dropped both mayoral candidates from the list of lunches to bid on.
UPDATE Monday 10/10/2005: The Crown Bristow Durango was spotted and photographed in the Mayor's parking space at City Hall.
UPDATE Thursday 10/13/2005: I was imprecise in my use of the phrase "dealer's tag": I was trying to describe the temporary, cardboard tag featuring the dealer's logo, mounted in the space where a permanent license plate would go, not a permanent plate with the "DEALER" designation on it, which is for vehicles retained by a dealership for its own use. "Temporary tag" would have been a better choice of words. Also, it was not my intention to suggest any wrongdoing or impropriety on the part of Henry Primeaux or his business. I've been told that the SUV was sold to Bill LaFortune's father at a normal market price. If an in-kind contribution had been made to the campaign, the burden would be on the campaign, not the donor, to make the necessary ethics disclosures.
I've got to be up early this morning, so I'm going to be lazy and point you to some good blogging elsewhere. I'm going to be so lazy, I'm going to link to home pages, not individual entries:
MeeCiteeWurkor -- some great blogging about the upcoming Mayor's race.
Chris Medlock's MedBlogged -- speculation about whom the Democrats will run for Mayor and responses to the latest Whirled spin.
Our Tulsa World is covering the airport investigation -- including a look back at an earlier Council debate on the issue -- and the IVI toll bridge.
Steve Roemerman is cooking chili and swooning over a frequent Council speaker.
Bobby of Tulsa Topics has some envy-provoking photos of snorkeling in Cozumel.
Red Bug of Tulsa Chiggers is writing about LaFortune's reelection bid, the OU suicide bomber, and how the education lottery lost the word "education".
Visit the Tulsa Bloggers page to see the latest contributions by bloggers who follow Tulsa news.
Tulsa Mayor Bill LaFortune announced today that he is running for re-election. The announcement occurred on the shop floor at McElroy Manufacturing, and the press release only went out early this morning. I should have pictures and video for you later today.
Who was there? Only one other elected official, Sheriff Stanley Glanz. Nearly every member of the Mayor's staff. A small group from the Firefighters Union, who are supporting LaFortune's reelection. A few business folks: Henry Primeaux, Jono Helmerich, and Chip McElroy, head of McElroy Manufacturing. Bill's uncle, former mayor Robert LaFortune. Employees, wearing new McElroy T-shirts, were gathered around the periphery of the area where the announcement took place.
Who wasn't there? City councilors, state legislators, county commissioners, the Mayor's wife and children.
The Mayor's speech consisted of a series of statements beginning with the phrase, "I'm excited." He was interrupted by applause once, when mentioning that Sheriff Glanz was back in control of the Tulsa County jail. Only about half of the McElroy employees applauded when everyone else did.
There was a barbecue buffet set up for employees and guests.
If it hadn't been for the people who were paid to be there, I don't think there would have been much of a turnout.
Tulsa Mayor Bill LaFortune is starting to resemble a Rodney Dangerfield joke: "My mother used to have to tie a pork chop around my neck to get the dog to play with me." Seems like the only way he can generate any positive buzz is to hire people to do the buzzing. And that'll only work as long as the checks clear, which may be a problem -- I hear that his campaign account is several thousand dollars in the hole, an astounding situation for an incumbent mayor.
LaFortune delivered his State of the City address on Thursday to a $30 a plate fundraising luncheon for the Tulsa Metro Chamber. (You'll find a link to the audio of Bill LaFortune's speech here.) He received applause for his acknowledgement of an award received by the Chamber and his salute to Tulsa firefighters, ORU students, and Tulsa businesses assisting in the Hurricane Katrina cleanup in Mississippi. Once past the introduction, the remaining 19 minutes were uninterrupted by applause. The only other sound you'll hear is the clink of fork, knife, and plate. Eyewitnesses tell me that, at the conclusion of the speech, mayoral staffers attempted to start a standing ovation, but those not on LaFortune's payroll declined to follow suit.
Councilor Chris Medlock has promised that if he's elected Mayor, he'll report on the State of the City to the City Council, the elected representatives of the citizens of Tulsa, rather than to a private organization which is a vendor to the city.
In Saturday's Whirled, LaFortune shot back at Medlock:
LaFortune said Medlock’s comments are “obviously a campaign ploy and at best a laughable one.”
Or, LaFortune said, Medlock has “a complete failure to grasp the essence of what this type of speech is.”
“His criticism of the mayor delivering a comprehensive speech on the state of the city to the business community is ludicrous,” LaFortune said.
“I think it’s actually an insult not only to the business community but the citizenry that they cannot discern the difference between a privately sponsored, business-led setting versus a governmental setting,” he said.
A ploy? No, just a way to illustrate the difference between the way Medlock would approach his service as Mayor and the way Bill LaFortune has approached it. The point Medlock makes is one that plenty of other people have made, going back to the first time Susan Savage made a "State of the City" speech to a Chamber fundraising luncheon. I made the point at length following LaFortune's "State of the City" address last fall:
When the President reports on the State of the Union, he addresses a joint session of Congress, the elected representatives of the people of the United States of America.
When the Governor delivers a "State of the State" address, he addresses a joint session of the Oklahoma Legislature, the elected representatives of the people of the State of Oklahoma.
But when the Mayor of Tulsa speaks on the State of the City, he speaks not to the City Council, the elected representatives of the citizens of Tulsa, but to the Tulsa Metro Chamber, at a fundraising banquet for the Tulsa Metro Chamber....
...the most important question is this: To whom does Bill LaFortune answer? To what constituency does he consider himself accountable? From what I heard of his speech, he gave an unequivocal answer today. Too bad for the rest of us.
In the above quote, LaFortune uses the term "Tulsa business community" as if it were interchangeable with the Chamber. But the Tulsa Metro Chamber doesn't represent the entire greater Tulsa business community any more than AAA represents all drivers, the AARP represents all senior citizens, or the OEA represents all teachers. Of the Chamber members, only a small proportion were represented at the luncheon. Most members were undoubtedly busy cutting hair, writing software, measuring inseams, manufacturing aircraft parts -- busy building a business and making a living.
At least twice during the introduction to the speech, LaFortune said that he was going to "report to" the Chamber on the state of the city. That's a phrase that implies a chain of command. Bill LaFortune may feel like he owes his job to the Chamber, but as Mayor he is accountable for the state of the city to all the citizens of Tulsa, and to the co-equal branches of City Government -- the Council and the Auditor, elected by the people of the City of Tulsa.
Medlock's promise to hold the State of the City address in the council chambers, broadcast live and open to the public, shows that he understands that the Chamber is, after all, just one private organization among many in this city, just another vendor seeking to make money through a contract with city government. Medlock shows that he understands that the Mayor is there to serve all Tulsans, not just a favored few.
I just received a 3-page Microsoft Word document, bearing the City of Tulsa seal and "Office of the Mayor" letterhead. The file, named MayorFacts-Accomplishments2005.doc, is dated July 2005, lists Kim MacLeod, Community Affairs Manager for the Mayor's Office, as the contact. The document's title is
Based on information in the file, the document was authored by mayoral aide Karen Keith. It was created by city employees on city computers and issued on official city letterhead, all at public expense.
I'll dig into the specifics of LaFortune's claimed accomplishments at another time. The more basic question is this: What legitimate public purpose is served by this document? What justifies spending taxpayer money on researching, writing, and distributing what amounts to a campaign brochure?
Mayor Bill LaFortune used Thursday night's University of Tulsa season-opening football game to launch his mayoral re-election bid, according to MeeCiteeWurkor . MCW had reported that there were free tickets available for city employees, and that "various high level managers at the City were heavily promoting this game via email to city employees that had email, and the offer was posted in various places so employees without email could read about it." MCW asks, "Free tickets to this game for City Employees? Who paid for these tickets? Who is setting up all these [LaFortune for Mayor] signs? Who is manning the [LaFortune for Mayor] booth? Is the mayor asking city employees to break the above Policy indicated above?"
Today at a noon press conference on City Hall Plaza, Tulsa City Councilor Chris Medlock announced that he will run for Mayor in the 2006 election, and Rick Westcott, chairman of Tulsans for Election Integrity, announced that he would seek to replace Medlock as City Councilor for District 2. Medlock was joined by his wife, his mother, and his niece, and by former City Auditor Ron Howell, who endorsed Medlock's candidacy.
Medlock emphasized his intention to build a solid team to run city government and said he would pursue a nationwide search for a certified city manager to oversee day-to-day city operations. Medlock announced several policy initiatives he would pursue if elected Mayor. (Click the link to see the list.) Included is a call for Tulsa voters to reject renewal of the county's 2/12-cent capital improvements tax ("4 to Fix the County"), which expires in 2006, and instead offer city voters a chance to approve the same amount as a city tax to fund Tulsa's police and fire departments.
Rick Westcott, an attorney, announced his intention to run for the District 2 seat during the special election to replace Randi Miller in 2003, but he stepped aside in favor of Chris Medlock. Westcott has been active in the Tulsa County Republican Party ever since as a member of the Executive Committee and as Chairman of the Platform Committee for the 2005 County Convention.
I've gotten to know both of these men pretty well, and I'm happy that Chris is running for Mayor and Rick for Council. Tulsa would be blessed to have both of them serving us as elected officials.
Below is Rick Westcott's announcement press release, which will tell you more about his background and his views on the issues. (If you're seeing this from the homepage, click the link to read on.)