Tulsa Election 2006: February 2006 Archives

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.

The BOk bunch, at-large

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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.

DistCandidateKaiserBOk PAC PoeBrockRealtor PACMcElroyBumgarnerBarnettJustisHelmEaton
1Henderson (D)500500500
2 Prather (R) 1000 1000 600 1000 1000 3000 1000
3 Patrick (D) 1500 1000 800 1000 1500 1000 3000 1000
4 Wing (D) 600 1000 500 250
5 Martinson (R) 1000 1000 700 500 2000
6 Buchert (R) 1000 1000 700 1000 1000 250
7 Zarley (R) 500 1000 500 500
8 Christiansen (R) 1000 1000 800 1000
9 Stava (R) 1000 1000 900 2500
M LaFortune 1000 2000 1000 3000 3000 2500 2500
M Taylor 2500 2000 5000 5000
GROW TULSA PAC 5000 5000 5000
If you want more, tune into 1170 KFAQ tomorrow morning from 6 to 7. I need some sleep! UPDATE: Here are links to the Tulsa World's stories on campaign contributions, with lists of contributors: Most candidates. Randi Miller and other late filers.

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)

Rick Westcott, District 2 Republican, 639-8542, e-mail rick@rickwestcott.org

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?

The AP story is still on KTUL's website.

UPDATE from MickaŽl 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 MickaŽl 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.

District 9:

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, herb.beattie@sbcglobal.net

District 4:

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, egomez@tulsarealtors.com

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.

Opening statements:

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."

Downtown attractions:

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

This should be very interesting:

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 itís vital to the Region

Tulsa reading elsewhere

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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.

Dan Paden is wondering about the motives of our candidates for city office, particularly the wealthy ones, and he takes a look at his trusty reverse barometer for electoral guidance.

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.

TREC forum video

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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.

Video clip from TREC forum

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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:

  1. How was this decision reached? What individuals constitute the leadership that made this decision?
  2. What specific votes or actions disqualify Medlock from receiving TREC's endorsement?
  3. Does TREC have a platform or a statement of legislative goals with regard to City of Tulsa policy?
  4. Is the debate open to the public? To the press? To all members of the organizations that participate in TREC?
  5. Have the candidates received questions in advance? If so, what are they?
  6. 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.

Justis undone

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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.

LaFortune's union label

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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?

MORE: MeeCiteeWurkor has more on why certain unions are endorsing LaFortune, but not all.

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:

Date Name Address Amount
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.

ORU really in for it now!

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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.

Miller backs out of debate

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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 Millerís 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, 67.67.27.34, 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.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Tulsa Election 2006 category from February 2006.

Tulsa Election 2006: January 2006 is the previous archive.

Tulsa Election 2006: March 2006 is the next archive.

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