Tulsa Election 2006: March 2006 Archives

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):

Lobeck-Taylor Foundation
Contact: Kathy Taylor Lobeck
Address: 1132 S. Lewis Avenue
Tulsa, OK, 74104
Phone: 918/583-2955
Web Site:
Geographical Area:
Population Group:
Interest Areas:
Tax Year: 2003
Assets: $3,379,029
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.
Additional Info:

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.)

Mautino's bipartisan appeal


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.

  1. A candidate's views on the sanctity of human life tell you something fundamental about his worldview and values.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Tulsa election roundup

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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.

Steve Roemerman rebuts the Tulsa Whirled's endorsement of Jim Mautino's opponent.

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.

An edited version of this column appeared in the March 22, 2006, issue of Urban Tulsa Weekly. The published version is available online via the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine. My blog entry linking the column is here. Posted online October 6, 2017.

Council General Election preview

By Michael D. Bates

As disheartened as I was at the results in Tulsa's mayoral primary, I was cheered by the voters' picks in the Council races. Seven out of the 10 Council candidates endorsed by UTW won their primaries. In most cases, this meant the defeat of the best-funded candidate by a candidate dependent on grass-roots support.

The result was also an affirmation of the work of the Reform Alliance. The three returning members of the alliance - Jack Henderson, Roscoe Turner, and Jim Mautino - all won renomination, the latter two turning back well-financed opponents who had the endorsement of the monopoly daily newspaper. The fourth gang member, Chris Medlock, was replaced by attorney Rick Westcott, who led the opposition to the effort to recall Medlock and who endorsed Medlock for mayor.

It was a near-wipeout for the monopoly daily's beloved "Class of 2002" aka the "Cockroach Caucus." Susan Neal, Tom Baker, and Randy Sullivan all chose not to run for re-election. Jack Wing, Baker's handpicked successor, lost by a wide margin to neighborhood leader Maria Barnes. Sullivan was replaced by John Eagleton, whom he twice defeated; Eagleton won election with the biggest vote total of any Council primary candidate. Jeff Stava, backed by former Chamber chairman and Council-basher Bob Poe, lost to Cason Carter.

Bill Christiansen prevailed in a tough race against first-time candidate Cliff Magee. In District 5, Bill Martinson, who aligned himself with that group, had no difficulty winning renomination against two rookie candidates, but faces a tough general election against Jon Kirby, who is reported to be a door-knocking dynamo.

Candidates who centered their campaign around "stopping the bickering" didn't fare well, but the alleged bickerers did, indicating that Tulsans want city issues debated publicly, not behind closed doors.

And the results refute the World's claim that low turnout enabled "unqualified" candidates to sneak into office 2004. The same candidates were successfully renominated in a primary with record turnout.

There appeared to be a coordinated and unsuccessful effort by some prominent Tulsans to fund targeted races and pack the council. Six of the eight candidates Bob Poe supported were defeated. John Brock, a leading activist for at-large councilors, backed one win and four losses. BOk Chairman George Kaiser and the BOk Financial Corp PAC won three and lost five.

Although the primary settled four races, five more will be decided on April 4.

Before I delve into the specifics of the Council general election, I need to tell you about a conflict of interest. I represent Tulsa County on the Oklahoma Republican Party's State Committee. As an elected party official, I'm not allowed to endorse against a Republican candidate. On the other hand, as a columnist for UTW, I owe it to you to endorse the best candidate in each race.

Now theoretically - just maybe - the best candidate in a race might not be a Republican, so to avoid defaulting on either of my obligations, I'm going to recuse myself from endorsements, and just tell you what I know about each candidate.

As in the primary preview, you'll find contact info for each candidate, and you're encouraged to get in touch and get answers to the questions that matter to you. And if you decide you like a candidate, call and volunteer to help in the closing days of the campaign.

We gave each candidate the opportunity to respond to the same questionnaire we used in the primary, with an additional question about the six charter amendments on the April 4 ballot. The full text of their responses can be found on our website at www.urbantulsa.com.

District 3: Roscoe H. Turner, Democrat, incumbent, 74, 3415 E. Haskell St., http://www.roscoeturner.com, 834-7580; Gerald A. Rapson, Republican, 73, 6267 E. Latimer Pl., garapson@hotmail.com, 835-4817.

Turner just won his second straight primary victory over former Councilor David Patrick, and the results show that Turner made inroads in traditional Patrick territory east of Yale. Turner, voted "most believable City Councilor" in UTW's 2005 "Absolute Best of Tulsa" competition, has been a leader for many years in the Sequoyah Area Neighborhood Association.

The Republican nominee in this heavily Democratic district is Gerald Rapson, a retiree from Memorex Telex. Rapson shows up in newspaper archives as a volunteer at the Latter-Day Saints Family History Center and at the Domestic Violence Intervention Services protective order office.

The two candidates' responses to the UTW questionnaire differed significantly on only a few issues. On the use of eminent domain for private economic development, Turner said it should never be used for private purposes. Rapson agreed with respect to owner-occupied properties, but would permit it for the redevelopment of absentee-owned properties.

Regarding adding sexual orientation to the list of protected classes in Tulsa's human rights ordinance, Turner responded, "I support everyone's human rights," while Rapson wrote, "I would oppose adding 'sexual orientation' to the list of protected classes."

On the question about CDBG funding for controversial groups like Planned Parenthood, Turner wrote, "I would support providing funds that benefit the health of our children." Rapson wrote, "Although I am not opposed to abortion, which is a woman's choice, I am opposed to public funding for abortions, or funding to any group that advocates government funding for abortions."

Rapson supports all of the charter amendments except propositions 1 and 4 (council attorney and election date changes). Turner voted in favor of putting all six on the ballot.

District 4: Maria Barnes, Democrat, 45, 1319 S. Terrace Dr., http://www.mariabarnes4tulsa.com, 510-5725; Robert C. "Bob" Bartlett, Republican, 76, 2744 S. Braden Ave., 747-6907.

Both of these candidates have been deeply involved with city government, but about three decades apart from each other.

Maria Barnes, a married mother of three children, is president of the Kendall-Whittier Neighborhood Association, vice president of the Midtown Coalition of Neighborhood Associations, and a member of the Vision 2025 Neighborhood Fund Task Force. In 1998, the Mayor's Office for Neighborhood Associations recognized her service with a Picket Fence Award.

Barnes has served for five years on the city's Human Rights Commission. She is a graduate of the Citizens Police Academy and has served on the Police Department's Community Relations Committee and Oversight Committee.

Barnes served on the 1999 Infill Development Task Force and has appeared frequently before the Tulsa Metropolitan Area Planning Commission (TMAPC) and the Board of Adjustment representing the interests of Kendall-Whittier and other midtown neighborhoods.

Robert C. Bartlett won the Republican nomination without actively campaigning. (He is not related to Dewey Bartlett, the late U. S. Senator.) According to his campaign material, he was a zoning administrator and assistant to the director for the TMAPC, and was "twice selected by Tulsa mayors" as a city representative on the commission. In 1970, he was president of the Tulsa Real Estate Board. He retired last year after 45 years as a property manager and real estate appraiser.

Bartlett writes, "If elected, my primary mission will be to work for the preservation and protection of private property rights. I hope to offer constructive dialog and encourage judicious decisions in neighborhood and community planning, zoning, urban renewal, and eminent domain."

Neither candidate submitted a response to the UTW questionnaire.

District 5: Jon Kirby, Democrat, 26, 6703 E. 26th Pl., http://www.kirbyfortulsa.com, 836-3834; William E. "Bill" Martinson, Jr., Republican, incumbent, 50, 743-6848.

District 5 is a swing district which has consistently produced close results. The incumbent, Bill Martinson, was elected in May 2005 with only 29% of the vote in an all-party special election.

Martinson was an avid supporter of having the City of Tulsa pay $7.5 million to the Bank of Oklahoma, money that was owed not by the city, but by the Tulsa Industrial Authority as part of the complicated financing deal for Great Plains Airlines.

Last Thursday, Martinson was the lone vote against a tax-increment finance (TIF) district to pay for infrastructure for the Tulsa Hills retail development at 71st St. and U.S. 75. In his passionate opposition speech, he made frequent reference to better ways to spend the taxpayers' dollars, seemingly unaware that, in a TIF, the dollars involved would only be generated if the project went forward.

Martinson was also the lone vote against sending the zoning protest charter amendment to the voters. The amendment passed on March 7 with 63% of the vote.

Jon Kirby is a customer service representative with AT&T (SBC) and is active in the Communication Workers of America local. He has been active in the Northeastern Oklahoma Labor Council and has endorsements from several union locals. In the primary, Kirby defeated neighborhood leader Al Nichols by a wide margin.

Kirby has lived in Tulsa for seven years. He says that he fell in love with the city when he was 16 while visiting family and determined to settle here. His campaign website emphasizes earmarking sales tax dollars for public safety and spending more of the third penny on river development.

Neither candidate submitted a response to the UTW questionnaire.

District 6: Dennis K. Troyer, Democrat, 65, 12811 E. 13th Pl., http://www.dktroyercc.com, 438-2569; James Savino "Jim" Mautino Sr., Republican, incumbent, 73, http://www.jimmautino.com, 437-2642.

Two years ago, neighborhood activist Jim Mautino beat a well-financed incumbent, Art Justis, to become the first Republican to represent this majority Republican district. He also became the first real representative District 6 has ever had.

Rather than serving, as his predecessors did, as the Mayor's lapdog in exchange for table scraps for the district, Mautino worked assertively for infrastructure improvements to keep businesses in District 6 and to encourage quality new residential, commercial, and industrial development in east Tulsa.

As councilor, Mautino has held numerous town hall meetings, using the presentation skills he developed as a trainer for American Airlines to give residents a picture of the state of the district. (Another town hall is scheduled for 6:30 p.m., Wednesday, March 22, at Martin East Regional Library.)

If re-elected, Mautino is in line to be the next Council chairman, as the most senior Republican yet to hold that position.

Mautino's opponent, Dennis Troyer, is also an American Airlines retiree. Troyer has the support of a number of labor unions, and his website focuses on his years as a union activist. (Mautino was also an active union member during his years at American, and he broke ranks with Republicans, voting to allow more city workers to unionize.) Troyer has been endorsed by Justis.

Mautino responded to the UTW questionnaire, and his responses are available online. Mautino voted in support of all six charter amendments. Troyer did not submit a response.

District 9: Phil Kates, Democrat, 57, http://www.philkates.com, 749-3356; Cason Carter, Republican, 29, http://www.casoncarter.com, 595-4800.

Attorney Cason Carter defeated Jeff Stava in a primary race that was financed at record levels on both sides. He faces Democrat Phil Kates in a district that has never elected a Democrat.

Kates was a Republican until 2004, when he changed his registration, saying that the Republican Party had moved too far to the right on the issue of separation of church and state.

Both candidates submitted a response to the UTW questionnaire. Kates' response is quite lengthy and nearly impossible to summarize, but it will be posted alongside Carter's response at www.urbantulsa.com. Carter did not respond to the additional question about the six charter amendments. Kates supports only propositions 4 and 6 (election date changes and requiring the mayor to fill board vacancies in a timely manner).

Both Kates and Carter expressed opposition to neighborhood conservation districts and making design guidelines such as those called for in the Brookside Infill Plan a part of the zoning code. Kates' response indicated a lack of familiarity with the plan, incorporated into the city's Comprehensive Plan in 2002, as he called for "a new concentrated plan that the homeowners and planners can come up with."

The Council choice


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.

Six more FOR

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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.

Also in this week's issue of Urban Tulsa Weekly:

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.

Worst. Yardsign. Ever.

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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.

Poll watching

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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:

Towerview photos

Discussion of LaFortune's plan to condemn 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.

The votes are in

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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.

Neighborhood servants


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.

Faith and city politics

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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:

And here's a link to my complete archive of stories on Tulsa's 2006 election.

District 4 forum audio


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:

Two Taylors

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!
Identical voters
And you'll find

They dress alike,
Emote alike,
At times they even
Vote alike --
You can lose your mind,
When voters
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)

Rick Westcott, District 2 Republican, 639-8542, e-mail rick@rickwestcott.org. Rick is asking volunteers to gather 10 a.m. Saturday at his office at 1743 E. 71st Street.

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.

What people are saying about John Eagleton

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?

About this Archive

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

Tulsa Election 2006: February 2006 is the previous archive.

Tulsa Election 2006: April 2006 is the next archive.

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