In case you were wondering:
6:00 am -- Up after a night of tossing and turning, during which I dream of total on-air collapse: I don't get my database stuff finished, I can't keep up with the precincts as they come in, I have nothing coherent to say.
6:20 am -- I call in to the KRMG Morning News for a preview of election night coverage. Not one of my better interviews. As soon as I hang up, I notice that I'm sitting slumped over -- not good. I guess I've lost the knack of being "up" and "on," as I used to have to be every Tuesday morning on KFAQ.
8:00 am -- I deliver my daughter to school. I scratch my neck and discover that, although I put on Lectric Shave before I left, I had forgotten to shave. I head home to get my electric razor, use it, and take it with me for a touch up in the late afternoon.
8:15 am -- Work. Try, try, try to focus, focus, focus. Fail.
12:50 pm -- I take the afternoon off, leave work, and head to my precinct to vote.
1:05 pm -- No line at the polls as such. Three people are already voting, another one or two come in behind me. My two ballots are counted as numbers 1085 and 1086, cast just after the midpoint of election day.
1:20 pm -- Drop off watch at the On the Spot shop in Promenade; have lunch in the food court while they put in a new battery. For the first time since I used to sing with Coventry Chorale, I have to think: What can I eat that will (1) not come back to haunt me five hours from now, (2) not gum up my voice, and (3) give me enough energy to get through the day? I opt for kung pao and bourbon chicken over noodles.
2:00 pm -- At the Coffee House on Cherry Street, I'm working as fast as I can to finish up the Microsoft Access entry form, queries, and reports that I'll use to help me compare precinct results to previous elections. I've already imported results from the 2004 elections, the 2006 Mayor's race, the 2006 Third Penny, and the 2007 River Tax vote. I have three hours to learn and use some unfamiliar Access features. I've used Access plenty in the past to create and query databases, but I usually export the data and parse it through Perl or manipulate it in Excel to see percentages and do comparisons. Tonight I won't have the time for that, so I need reports that will instantly tell me what I need to know.
As I'm testing my queries, it becomes clear that Sen. Tom Coburn's 2004 election will be the clearest benchmark for Sally Bell's chances. Coburn lost County Commission District 2, but not by much, largely because of crossover voters in the Midtown Money Belt, who tend to prefer a Democrat who's one of their own (Brad Carson lived in Maple Ridge before moving to Claremore to run for Congress) over a populist Republican. Bell would need to outperform Coburn, holding on to Republicans outside of Midtown and picking up enough anti-tax Democrats to make up for the loss of the Money Belt Republicans to Karen Keith.
5:30 pm -- A quick stop at the 11th and Utica QT for a bottle of Coke Zero and a couple of pepperoni and sausage stuffed breadsticks, which I fail to notice are behind the "Still cooking" sign. (Ewwww.) My wife happens to be at one of the gas pumps, filling up before she picks up our daughter from her piano lesson. I say hi to her and the two boys. They'll go to the Republican watch party for a couple of hours while I'm broadcasting. (Later in the evening, I'll get a text message from my wife saying that the kids are pretty upset over the election results. The 12-year-old has become a Mark Levin fan -- he downloads his free podcasts to his iPod every night.)
5:45 pm -- After choking down two slightly doughy and lukewarm breadsticks, I arrive in the News on 6 lot. I'm let in along with the Mazzio's delivery guys, which means the breadsticks were totally unnecessary. I find my spot, unpack my laptop, and begin to get situated. Steve Schroeder, the news operations manager for KOTV, gets me set up with their result tracking software and looks for some headphones so I can hear the feed from KRMG. I grab a couple of pieces of pizza.
6:00 pm -- KRMG coverage begins. I open the chatroom. Still no headphones, so I try to listen online. I keep an eye on a couple of news sites for early results from the East Coast.
6:31 pm -- I'm all wired up and ready to go. Spend the rest of the hour in the chat room and watching early returns. I see Terry Hood and Scott Thompson zip by in my peripheral vision as they go to and from the studio to do their local segments.
7:16 pm -- The first batch of precinct results are handed to me. News on 6 staff are taking calls from runners in the field, writing down results on paper, then entering them into the tracking system. Once they're in the tracking system, however, you can't get the individual precinct data back out, and that's what I need. So Gary Kruse collects the processed precinct sheets and brings them to me, where I enter them into my Access database. Last Friday, when I came by to check things out, I got a copy of the precinct sheet from Steve, so I laid out the entry form identically to the sheet to make it easy to enter and doublecheck the data.
Every half hour, after the national segment with ABC Radio, Joe Kelley does a brief segment each with me, Elaine Dodd at the Democratic watch party at the TWU hall, and Don Burdick at the Republican watch party at the Crowne Plaza. I'm impressed with both Don and Elaine, who manage to say something interesting and new during each break. Joe does a great job of directing traffic and keeping the broadcast moving. Never a dull moment.
(I'm still amused to hear Elaine talking up Karen Keith, when you know that Karen will put another county tax on the ballot of the sort Elaine and I have joined together to fight in the past. And if I hear Elaine say that Oklahoma is "ruby red" one more time....)
There's no music in the background at the Democratic party, but when Joe cuts to Don, you can hear the Rockin' Acoustic Circus playing their blend of bluegrass, country, and western swing.
My Access reports work as hoped. Early on I can see that Sally Bell is lagging Coburn's 2004 performance by 5 to 6 percent -- not a good sign. Good numbers for her in Jenks and Glenpool and some Sand Springs precincts, but not good enough. The street tax report shows me that both taxes are passing in every City Council district, a clear sign that both measures will win big. If a tax is passing by a slim margin in east and north Tulsa, it's passing with at least 60% citywide. I'm also watching the result tracking program for the statewide and legislative races.
When I'm not on the air, I'm entering data as fast as I can, using a numeric keypad I bought last week. Sheets are piling up, but I sort them to get the precincts in CCD 2, Senate 37, and the City of Tulsa entered first. (It's quickly apparent that Dan Newberry has blown Nancy Riley clean out of the water.)
At one point (about 9?) the control room calls to ask if I have data on the Rogers County races. There's nothing in the results tracking software, so I call and let them know. A few minutes later I find some results and call back, but I missed the window -- they've gone back to national coverage. I post the results in the chat room -- a good thing, because, when I finally get the chance to talk about the results, I can't find the original webpage among all the tabs I had open, so I have to resort to what I posted. It was my only real bobble of the night, thankfully.
I am rooted to my chair from about 6:30 until about 10:40, either chatting online, entering data, or talking on air. My final slot comes around 10:30, delayed because of McCain's concession speech. I keep entering data while I'm waiting for my turn. The final slot is a chance to mention any story that we've overlooked, so I congratulate Dana Murphy for an apparent and long-overdue victory in her race for Corporation Commission.
Thus ends my first paid radio gig. I stuck around a bit longer to finish entering the last few sheets as I listened to Obama's victory speech. In the end, the KRMG/KOTV team's runners had fetched results from 215 of 267 precincts in Tulsa County -- pretty impressive. I close out the message board -- "Everyone out of the pool!"
11:05 pm -- I'm packed up, and ready to head out the door. I head over to the Crowne Plaza to meet up with the remnants of the Republican watch party. I hang out for a couple of hours, as we rehash the results, swap campaign stories, toast the humiliating defeat of Georgetown Georgianna, and watch anxiously to see if Minnesota really is crazy enough to elect Stuart Smalley to the U. S. Senate.
1:00 am -- Off to the house. Everyone is asleep. I spend another hour checking e-mail and doing a little websurfing. In bed a bit after 2:00 am.
The national outcome and the county commission race were disappointing, but not entirely unexpected. The state results were encouraging. From a personal perspective, as a lifelong news junkie and radio wannabe, I thoroughly enjoyed spending election night in a newsroom with a stack of results to analyze and a chance to talk politics on the radio.
The Karen Keith campaign submitted a lengthy rebuttal in UTW to my column endorsing Sally Bell for Tulsa County District 2 Commissioner. Here's my reply:
(1) Karen Keith doesn't seem to get the difference between one's philosophy of government and one's conduct as an elected official. I wrote:
"Although Randi Miller is gone, her philosophy of county government is still in the race. The Karen Keith platform is nothing more than the Randi Miller approach to county government with a more appealing façade."
To those who think this is unfair, please give an example of a policy decision that Randi Miller made as a county commissioner that Karen Keith would have made differently. It's noteworthy that nowhere in her response does Keith note any policy differences with Miller.
Keith sets up a straw man with her subpoints, all of which have to do with conduct, not philosophy or policy.
(2) She says that she was "part of the team working for the passage of Vision 2025." Her part was to serve as a spokesperson during the campaign. She debated on behalf of the vote yes campaign at the TulsaNow debate at Harwelden and on KWHB 47. I know because I was there debating on the other side. She also made speeches to civic groups and neighborhoods on behalf of the tax. She debated against Jack Gordon and Jim Hewgley on Fox 23. She may have also been doing work behind the scenes, but her visible role was as someone who spoke on behalf of passing the tax.
Keith is on the record as supporting more local tax dollars for river development, which I consider an amenity, not a necessity. She supported the failed river tax increase last year. She has stated at least by implication that she'd support sending another river tax to the voters:
Keith also said she would not oppose using more public funds for infrastructure projects along the Arkansas River.
"We've already made significant public investment in engineering for the river," Keith said, "but more may be needed to make it possible for the private sector to come in and create housing, entertainment and retail that is sensitive to the natural habitat."
After her speech, Keith clarified her remarks by saying residents would have the final say on any tax-increase proposal.
Keith protests at being called a "pro-tax" candidate, but I can't think of any local tax initiative that she's opposed. Someone let me know if I've overlooked one.
Furthermore, would Karen Keith unequivocally commit that she would not send a tax for amenities to the voters? Sally Bell has.
She has danced around this issue, by saying that the final decision belongs to the voters. But the voters can only give a thumbs up or thumbs down on whatever package the County Commissioners choose to send to them. Tax votes are expensive: Expensive for the county election board, expensive for the proponents, and expensive and time consuming for the opponents. Putting a tax on the ballot is not a neutral act. Surely Keith understands that.
At the All Souls debate Keith said that her most important platform plank is "economic development for this region," citing Vision 2025 and Four to Fix the County. Keith appears to believe that government-funded amenities are the key to economic growth.
At the Red Fork debate, Keith blamed the failure of the river tax in part on the delay in announcing that Celine Dion would be performing at the BOK Center.
She also blamed the state of Tulsa's streets on failed tax initiatives. Tulsa has passed every tax initiative for streets since 1980. The only taxes we've turned down have been for amenities. Karen Keith seems to believe money for amenities brings prosperity which brings revenues to pay for streets. In reality, you'd make much more progress on streets if you put the funds directly to that purpose, instead of investing it in amenities and hoping for a marginal improvement in revenues over time.
At the same debate, she said that if the river tax were put back on the ballot, it would be a different package, and it would pass. Who is going to put that tax back on the ballot, if not her?
Over and over again, Keith has cited the Vision 2025 tax package as the model for progress, as the source of our economic growth.
(3) Regarding the Bob Dick endorsement, Keith is either disingenuous or staggeringly unaware of Dick's legacy as a county commissioner. Again, I would challenge her to specify any major decision made by Bob Dick as Commissioner which she would have made differently.
If I were blindly partisan, I would not have been as critical as I have of Dick's record, nor would I have called for someone to step up to challenge Dick for his 2006 re-election bid.
(4) Here Keith contradicts the point she made in item (1)(d). Having the County take over municipal park maintenance is an example of "having the county government act as some sort of metropolitan government service provider."
(5) I stand by my statement. Keith did attack Bell's business record at the Kiwanis debate, and if you listen to what she said (I think you can still find it on the KRMG website), I think you'll agree it was awkward. She stumbled and stammered through it. It was a stark contrast to the smooth way she reads prepared text.
(6) I've written many times about the "Money Belt" phenomenon, for example, in my July 30 column on the Collective Strength survey of 1,000 Tulsans. I was writing about the regional differences on agreement with statements like "City leaders in Tulsa understand my community's needs" and "I do not feel included in the planning process. People like me are always left out."
The gap between Midtown and south Tulsa on the one hand and north, west and east Tulsa is not surprising. Maps of election results showing support for various tax increases, of where appointees to city boards and commissions live, and of those selected to the PLANiTULSA Advisers and Partners reveal a common pattern.
I've labeled it the "Money Belt"--a band of Tulsa's wealthiest neighborhoods running south-southeast from downtown through Maple Ridge, Utica Square, and Southern Hills then fanning out into the gated communities of south Tulsa.
Regarding Keith, I wrote:
Keith and her midtown money belt allies appear to think it was a foolproof recipe for passing funding packages, but as we saw last October, in the failed attempt to pass a countywide sales tax for river projects, its time has come and gone.
That statement doesn't preclude the possibility that she has non-Money Belt allies, but by reason of her geography, mindset, and major contributors, Keith clearly belongs to the Money Belt.
By the way, the Urban Tulsa staff requested copies of both candidates' ethics reports. The Bell campaign supplied her report. The Keith campaign did not even reply to the request.
There is so much happening and so little time to comment, so here are a few local links of interest:
Bubbaworld has questions about the $135 million in unspent funds from past City of Tulsa sales taxes and bond issues:
In what bank(s) are these surplus funds deposited?
Are the taxpayers of Tulsa earning a reasonable interest on these surplus tax revenues, some of which have apparently been "laying around" since the 1970's?
Who has ultimate control of this $135 million "slush fund"?
And most importantly, why when this much surplus tax revenue was available have Tulsans been asked time and again to approve new and additional tax increases for a variety of purposes?
We learn today that Tulsa County Commission candidate Karen Keith is indeed a member, as we suspected, of the JBS. That's the Jim Burdge Society. The campaign consultant is on Keith's payroll, along with former District 6 City Councilor Art Justis. As I wrote in last week's UTW:
Keith's decision to hire Jim Burdge as her campaign consultant further undercuts her squeaky-clean image. Burdge is renowned in political circles for his slimy, underhanded, and often clumsy attacks on his clients' opponents. As the consultant of choice to the development industry lobby, Burdge led the disastrous 2005 recall campaign against Councilors Jim Mautino and Chris Medlock and the even more disastrous opposition to the [zoning protest] petition charter amendment.
Keith's selection of Burdge, like her enthusiastic embrace of Bob Dick's endorsement, doesn't speak well of her judgment.
Keith also got two big checks from the development industry: $5,000 from the Realtors PAC and $2,000 from a group associated with the state home builders association.
Jenn at Green Country Values reports that a Gold Star mom named Angelia Phillips is upset at Andrew Rice, Democrat candidate for Senate. Rice has a "tribute" on his website to her son Michael Phillips and other Oklahomans killed in action in Iraq. Mrs. Phillips considers it an insult, not a tribute, because of Rice's stand against the war. She wrote:
My husband and I believe strongly that if you do not support the troops AND their mission then any "tribute" you might make on their behalf is hollow and nothing more than a scoreboard.
She has asked the Rice campaign to remove her son's name from the website, and the campaign has refused. She intended to ask Rice personally today at a scheduled campaign appearance, but he was a no-show.
Steven Roemerman does a fact check on U. S. Rep. John Sullivan's latest ad about his carpetbagging opponent and finds it factual.
As always, Mike McCarville is the go-to guy on Oklahoma politics. His latest stories include an item on all the money trial lawyers are dumping into Nancy Riley's SD 37 re-election campaign. A Riley win is needed for a continued Democratic majority, which in turn would mean no tort reform. McCarville also reports a last minute $100,000 surprise attack by the Democrats on State Sen. Jim Reynolds, who is being challenged by someone named David Boren (not the David Boren).
The Peregrine Falcon has three reports from the first Ice Oilers game at the BOK Center, one about the game, one about Mayor Kathy Taylor getting booed, and one about the frustration of buying tickets. After going downtown to try to avoid a $9 per ticket fee at Homeland:
So, I get downtown, I stand in line; of which there are only two. That's right, two-lines for the single largest venue in Tulsa; TWO LINES!!! While I am waiting the person operating my line, (1 of 2) walks away. Four minutes later, I find that the section that I want is not available for this game; BOK isn't selling cheap seats (cheap at $10.00 per seat - not that cheap). However, they are willing to sell me seats twice the price. Begrudgingly I bought the tickets. Again, a fee was attached. Two dollars per ticket, to have the privilege of paying for a center that I am already paying for.
The Peregrine Falcon also links to a debunking of Barack Obama's alleged middle-class tax cut, showing that Obama's plans include four tax increases for people earning less than $250,000.
Joe Kelley has a picture of the unspeakably cute new resident of the Oklahoma Aquarium.
(I was on air with Joe this morning, about my question, "Are we really about to elect a far-left president?")
OCPA gets a salute from Illinois for their work to let the sun shine in on Oklahoma government expenditures.
Steve reports that Keith claimed the sad state of Tulsa streets was because of "failed tax initiatives." I challenge Karen Keith to name one street-related tax initiative (general obligation bond issue or sales tax) that has failed in the last quarter-century in Tulsa.
My column in this week's Urban Tulsa Weekly further explores the contrasting political philosophies of Karen Keith and Sally Bell.
The County Commission race was also a topic of conversation in my debate with former Tulsa County Democratic Party chairman Elaine Dodd, the cover story in this week's UTW. We also chatted about the presidential, U. S. Senate, and U. S. House races, and the State Senate District 37 race between incumbent Republican-turned-Democrat Nancy Riley and Republican challenger Dan Newberry.
Monday evening I attended a debate at All Souls Unitarian Church, hosted by the League of Women Voters. I suspect most of the people in the room were supporters either of the Republican nominee, Sally Bell, or the Democratic nominee, Karen Keith. Although I had expected the venue to be a friendlier environment for Keith, judging by the applause about two-thirds of the audience seemed to be there to support Bell, and I thought Keith seemed a bit rattled as a consequence.
Both candidates hit their core themes: Bell focused on basic infrastructure, public safety, and limited government; Keith kept going back to Vision 2025 and Four to Fix the County and the county's role in economic development.
I will be uploading audio, although it will take a while. Watch this space.
UPDATE: Had some Internet problems at home tonight, but here is the MP3 file for the debate It is a 9 MB MP3 file and runs about 75 minutes. I had to hold the recorder, so you'll hear some periodic rustling, but it's better than nothing. There is also a break about 64 minutes in, where I stopped and restarted the recorder out of fear that the battery was about to go.
MORE: There's a rumble in Red Fork tonight, Tuesday, October 21, at 7 p.m. Bell and Keith will debate at the Red Fork Church of God, 3319 W. 41st St.
Scroll down for an update to this entry.
I think I have a new hero, a United States Senator who believes in requiring politicians to justify their spending of your tax dollars, who kept his term limit pledge when he went to Congress, who intends to do the same in the Senate, doesn't ask for or get earmarks, is beholden to no one and votes his conscience, Senator Doctor Tom Coburn of Oklahoma.
The man has tied the Senate in knots by following their rules. He's put holds on every questionable bill he can get his hands on. See David Keene's background piece in The Hill.
At the time Keene wrote, he fully expected that the good old boys of both parties would squash Coburn like a bug when the "Coburn Omnibus Bill" (designed to logroll enough pet projects to guarantee 60 votes) came to the floor. Lo and behold, the Republicans stuck together and only 52 Senators voted "Aye".
What Going and other limited-government conservatives love about Dr. Tom are the very qualities that frustrate his colleagues:
Tom Coburn's Senate colleagues don't know quite what to make of the doctor from Oklahoma. Many of them find him personally likable, but they can't understand why he seems to want to change the way the exclusive club to which they all belong has been doing business for so long.
And what's worse, they have no way of controlling the man. Coburn (R) left the House in 2000 after three terms there because he had voluntarily term-limited himself, and he says that he'll retire from the Senate after two terms there to go back to practicing medicine in Oklahoma. What that means, of course, is that he won't be around quite long enough to chair an important committee even if the GOP should retake the Senate at some point -- and that, therefore, he doesn't have to watch his manners lest party leaders squelch his ambitions.
Moreover, since he finds earmarks morally objectionable, his colleagues can't control him by cutting off funds for a library or parking garage back home and instead have to either confront his arguments or find a way around him. That was a lot easier in the House because there isn't all that much a lone congressman can do to derail spending programs there, but the Senate actually empowers folks like Coburn, who are willing to forsake the comity of the club and rely on the body's rules to get their way.
We need more people like Coburn in government, people who aren't bound by ambition or fear or social ties from doing what's right. If District 2 voters have the good sense to elect Sally Bell to the County Commission, we'll be closer to that goal here in Tulsa County.
Watch Sen. Coburn's blog to follow his crusade against indefensible federal spending.
MORE: Via Jill Stanek, The Hill reports that the Senate Ethics committee is pressuring Coburn over continuing to deliver babies pro bono. The pretext is that, now that the formerly public Muskogee Regional Medical Center is a private institution, Coburn delivering babies there constitutes an endorsement of that particular hospital.
Coburn spokesman John Hart agreed to discuss the issue only after The Hill contacted his office several times over the past two weeks. He called the Ethics panel's logic "absurd" and its argument "inane."
"Just as parents don't choose him hoping to sway his vote, parents don't choose to receive his services at a particular hospital because Dr. Coburn has somehow endorsed that hospital because he is a senator," Hart said in a statement e-mailed to The Hill. "The committee has shown us zero empirical evidence to back up its flimsy claim.
"Has Sen. Leahy provided an improper endorsement to Warner Brothers for appearing in Batman?" Hart asked. "Will millions of Americans now see Batman not because it features stars like Christian Bale or the late Heath Ledger, but because Patrick Leahy, a distinguished United States senator, has offered his illustrious endorsement to this motion picture?
"If Sen. Coburn can only deliver babies for free at a public hospital, shouldn't Sen. Leahy only be allowed to donate his notable thespian skills to a public entity like PBS?"...
Hart estimates that Coburn has delivered dozens of babies since last receiving an ultimatum from the Ethics panel in 2005. Coburn has received no compensation for his work and paid "tens of thousands of dollars" out of his own pocket for medical malpractice insurance and other costs related to his medical practice, Hart said.
Other physicians in the Senate, such as former Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), a heart surgeon, voluntarily gave up their medical practices when they joined the Senate.
Coburn, however, wants to remain a true citizen-legislator and has long argued that the Senate should allow him to keep serving his patients because he plans to return to the practice when he leaves the Senate in 2016, consistent with his pledge to serve only two terms. He would like to keep up his medical skills if he is going to continue being able to earn a living in his chosen profession.
Frist, by contrast, had no plans to return to his practice when he retired from the Senate. ...
"The parents of babies Dr. Coburn delivers don't choose him hoping to sway his vote, and they never have," Hart said. "In the 10 years Dr. Coburn has provided free healthcare to his neighbors while serving in Congress, the Ethics Committee has never pointed to a single conflict of interest. No lobbyist or any individual has ever attempted to infiltrate his medical office under the guise of an invasive medical exam to discuss Senate business."
Coburn's work as an obstetrician was controversial during his House career, but the House allowed him to continue to practice and make enough money to cover his medical bills. When he joined the Senate, the Ethics Committee issued him a letter prohibiting him from practicing medicine.
Hart also made note of the timing of the press's interest in this story. The Ethics Committee sent a memo to Coburn in May, but it has only become public in the past two weeks during the battle over the Tomnibus bill.
Stanek writes, "Were Tom Coburn aborting babies free instead of delivering them free, there would be no investigation; there would be an awards ceremony. This is ridiculous on so many levels, not the least of which is the Democrats' disregard for the poor, unless they control the dole so as to get the credit."
Most elections I'm used to a mixed bag of results -- some encouraging, some discouraging. Once in a great while -- 1980, 1994 come to mind -- everything goes the way I hope.
This comes close to being one of those nights.
82% of Republican voters said yes to Sally Bell and "enough already" to County Commissioner Randi Miller. While I expected a win, my guess was 57%. There's a certain constituency who will vote for the incumbent no matter what. Bell's win is certainly due to disgust with Miller, but the size of the win demonstrates that voters see Bell as a credible prospect for County Commission. That ought to help her raise money and volunteers for the November general election, which will be tough, but it's looking more and more feasible.
We're nearly at 100% of the vote, and it looks like Dana Murphy has won a close Republican primary against State Rep. Rob Johnson for the right to challenge appointed Corporation Commissioner Jim Roth, a Democrat. Dana is a wonderful person, she is extremely qualified for this job, and she has the integrity to do the right thing regardless of the pressure from special interests. A cynic would say that combination is political poison, but it's nice to see a good guy finish first for once. Again, it'll be tough to beat an incumbent, but Murphy is more qualified than Roth for the job (she worked for the OCC for five years, he's been there less than one), and she has been in three statewide elections. Roth has never run statewide.
In District 35, we're headed for a runoff, as expected, between Cason Carter and Gary Stanislawski. There's only a 268 vote gap between the two -- Carter 44%, Stanislawski 40%. It's likely that Jeff Applekamp and Janet Sullivan took more support from Stanislawski than from Carter -- Applekamp comes from the southern end of the district, and Sullivan, like Stanislawski, attends Victory Christian Center.
No surprises in the Republican primaries for U. S. Senate and the First Congressional District: Jim Inhofe and John Sullivan prevailed easily over perennial candidates.
I was surprised that the anointed Democratic challengers to Inhofe and Sullivan won by relatively slim margins over very underfunded opponents. Georgianna Oliver beat Mark Manley by only 55% to 45%, and Democratic turnout in the 1st District was half of the Republican turnout, which reveals a lack of enthusiasm for the recently relocated Mrs. Oliver. State Sen. Andrew Rice managed less than 60% against a perennial candidate.
I was pleased, but not at all surprised, to see Dan Newberry win his Senate District 37 primary by such a large margin. He's been walking the district for a year or more. He's got a good headstart on reclaiming the district for the Republican Party.
John Trebilcock won over his primary challenger by a two-to-one margin. I'm told the over-the-top attacks by his opponent turned off a lot of voters.
Elsewhere in Oklahoma, the Chambers of Commerce and the old Cargill machine attempted to defeat State Reps. Randy Terrill and Mike Reynolds. Terrill won renomination with 75% of the vote. Reynolds's race was closer -- 55-45. Disgraced former Speaker Lance Cargill was a consultant to his opponent's campaign.
In Oklahoma County, District 2 County Commissioner Brent Rinehart got a bigger percentage of the vote than Randi Miller -- all of 21%, and that in the face of financial scandal and national notoriety for his amateurish cartoon campaign piece. But he still lost big, and Brian Maughan came close to winning outright with 47% of the vote. Maughan will face J. D. Johnston in a runoff. I know Brian through state Republican Party events, and I'm happy to see him well on his way to a seat on the County Commission.
My take on the two Northside Democratic House primaries: All of the candidates are pretty far to my left on state issues, none of them are pro-life, and none of them will have a Republican opponent in the fall, so in a sense, it doesn't matter who wins. But Christie Breedlove, running in HD 72, has been a tireless worker for Roscoe Turner, one of the good guys on the City Council, and we're often on the same side of local issues, so I'm happy to see her move forward to a runoff.
I was also happy to see Jabar Shumate prevail in a tough primary against Kevin Matthews in HD 73. Nothing against Matthews, but I appreciated Shumate and Sen. Judy Eason-McIntyre taking the political risk to support the New Hope Scholarship program, which would have given partial tax credits for donations to scholarship funds to pay for at-risk students to attend private schools. It was a modest school choice bill, but one opposed by a core Democrat constituency -- the teacher's union and other elements of the education establishment -- so Shumate and Eason-McIntyre deserve praise for putting their constituents' best interests above political expedience.
It's just really nice to know that I don't have to take down any yard signs tomorrow, because all my candidates made it to the next round.
Michelle is OK with low voter turnout, and she has some advice for John Trebilcock's opponent:
John Newhouse found out tonight that you should run on something besides a mistake your opponent made over a year ago, and has asked forgiveness for. Trebilcock won with about 65%.
Click the link to see a scan of Karen Keith's pre-primary contributions and expenditures filing for Tulsa County Commissioner, District 2. Karen Keith, a Democrat, has no opposition in the primary, but will face the winner of Tuesday's Republican primary between challenger Sally Bell and incumbent Randi Miller.
Karen Keith raised $73,392 between Feb. 28 and July 15, 2008, of which $16,574 was in amounts of $200 or less. She has spent $42,471 -- an astonishing amount given the lack of a primary. Most of that has gone to indirect costs: $17,900 was spent on outside consultants, $5,000 on "copyrighting" [sic -- probably means copywriting], $4,365 on staff labor, $850 for logo and artwork, $900 on a website. (Hosting is relatively inexpensive, so I assume most of that cost is for a consultant to design and launch the site.) Facilities cost -- utilities, rent, phone, water cooler, alarm monitoring, moving -- total about $4,300. Only about $5,000 has gone into direct voter contact -- mail pieces, phone calls, and materials for door-to-door campaigning.
That's a very high overhead operation, and it shrinks her fundraising advantage considerably. A grassroots candidate backed by passionate volunteer workers and advisers could match her voter contact effort with only a fraction of the budget.
Here are Keith's top donors. Spelling as on the form, parenthetical remarks are mine. I will add other donors of more than $200 as I have time, later. All donors of any amount are listed, in alphabetical order, on Keith's C-1 filing.
$3,000 - Amos Adetula (Wilson's BBQ),
$2,750 - Sharon King Davis
$2,500 - Gary Burton
$1,500 - Patrick & Peggy Keith (Bixby), Robert & Roxana Lorton (publisher emeritus, Tulsa World), Danny & Betty O'Brian (Randi Miller's biggest donor)
$1,250 - George & Edwynne Krumme
$1,000 - Tom & Sue Bennett, Pat & Margaret Cremin, John & Kelsy Eakin, Jim & Sally Frasier, Greg Gray & Sharon Bell, Clydella & David Hentschel, Just Progress, George Kravis, David Sharp, Sid Shupack
Mr. O'Brian appears to be hedging his bets.
This post is a reminder to me to write a check to the ethics commission and get it mailed.
When the Oklahoma Ethics Commission called me back about my request for scans of the Tulsa County District 2 Commissioner race contributions and expenditures reports, I was told to mail a check for $1 for each page requested, and when they received the check, they would mail me the copies. I pointed out to Merlyn Rios, the clerk who handles these requests, that the purpose of filing these forms was to inform the public of the contributors to a candidate and to do so early enough to provide the media and the voters time to analyze the list and take it into consideration come election day. Waiting on the US Mail would slow the process down considerably and might mean voters wouldn't get the information in time to make use of it.
I asked to speak to Merlyn's boss about a waiver of fees or e-mailing the information to me. She transferred me to Patti Bryant. Patti agreed to authorize Merlyn to fax the information to me on the promise that I would mail a check. The fact that I am in media did not entitle me to a fee waiver. The fee is set by the Ethics Commission.
Given the history of county courthouse corruption in Oklahoma, I understand why the ethics law doesn't make a county official the repository of ethics filings, although it would be easier for voters to access the information if they could see it at the county election board.
But it seems to me that the purpose of the law is defeated by the way the commission is handling these documents. They should simply scan these documents upon receipt and post the resulting PDF on their website. Better yet, they should include county candidates in the same searchable database used for state candidates. I could see charging a fee for dredging out and copying old filings, but not for filings in current races.
So far, BatesLine is the only Tulsa media outlet to publish the contributions and expenditures reports for the District 2 County Commission Republican primary. (Here is Sally Bell's report and my analysis. Here is Randi Miller's report and my analysis. Tomorrow I should be able to scan and post Karen Keith's report.) The daily paper doesn't seem interested, and the report filing deadline comes too late for Urban Tulsa Weekly's last issue before the election.
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Sally Bell raised $13,321.36, of which $3,021.26 was in amounts of $200 or less. Bell reports spending $10,848.99, of which $10,191.56 was spent on "general advertising," $336.93 on printing, and $320.50 on miscellaneous expenses. Here is a scan of Sally Bell's contributions and expenditures report.
Here's the list of contributors. Spelling is as on the form. Parenthetical comments are mine:
$2,500 - Jeff and Kathy Rogers
$1,500 - Sally and Robert K. Bell, Jr. (the candidate and her husband)
$1,000 - Will and Willma (Wilma) Arnold, Jeffrey A. and Kathryn K. Weaver, Sharna P. and Steven (Stephen) Bovasso (realtor and anesthesiologist)
$500 - Gary and Jan Phillips (owners of Fantasy Island Amusement Park, Beach Haven, NJ), Sandra and Stephen Rodolf, Janis Curry, Greg and Carol Owens (KMO Development Group), Lloyd Noble II trust
$300 - APA (Alphonse Pierre) Vorenkamp
$250 - Donald and Laura Lehman, George S. Sharp (Sharp Mortgage Co.)
Other thank the Bells and Lloyd Noble, I didn't instantly recognize any of these names, and my various search efforts aren't turning up much. I'm guessing that most of these people are personal friends of the Bells. None of them appear to have any dealings with county government or the Fairgrounds. If you have more info, drop a note in the comments.
MORE: I spoke to Sally Bell's son Robby Bell this morning, and he confirmed my impression. Jeff and Kathy Rogers' oldest a child is a classmate of Robby's youngest. Jeff has a medical supply business. The Arnolds are old friends of Bob and Sally Bell. The Weavers have a son who was a classmate of Robby's oldest son; they have a business that makes canopies for businesses like gas stations. Stephen Bovasso has been a friend of Robby's since 4th grade. The Phillipses are long-time friends of Bob and Sally Bell, and they were part of a group of couples who went on motorcycling excursions together. I was out of time to go down the whole list, but that covers all the big donors.
Today I received a call from Merlyn Rios at the Oklahoma Ethics Commission, saying they had the pre-primary contribution and expenditure (C-1) reports for Randi Miller and Karen Keith for Tulsa County Commission District 2. I'll post Karen Keith's report later; since she's not a primary candidate (she's the only Democrat to file for the office), it's less urgent.
Here is Randi Miller's pre-primary C-1 form. Miller raised $39,500, of which $2,700 was in contributions of $200 or less. Miller reports spending $33,935.60, of which $25,500 has been spent on radio and television. Note that the report is incomplete, as Miller did not list the date on which each contribution was accepted.
In this morning's debate on 1170 KFAQ, moderated by Pat Campbell, Miller said, "Every person that is mad at me, they have an agenda." And she referred to this group of people who don't like her as "special agenda citizens."
It's interesting: When Campbell asked Miller to name her biggest contributors, she mentioned Danny O'Brian and Joe Robson, but she didn't mention George Kaiser, who gave the same amount as Robson ($2,500) and has an instantly recognizable name. Nearly every voter would associate the name of the wealthiest man in Oklahoma with last fall's river tax package, for which Randi Miller was head cheerleader.
(You can listen to the podcast of the 1170 KFAQ Sally Bell - Randi Miller debate here. The podcast of this afternoon's round-table discussion of the debate with myself, Chris Medlock and Charlie Biggs is here.)
The list of contributors, people who like her enough to give her lots of campaign money, sure looks like a list of "special agenda citizens" to me. Many have some connection to last fall's failed county sales tax increase for river-related projects. One is a fairgrounds tenant (maybe two). Here's the list, by largest amount first. Spellings are as they are on the form. Parenthetical notes are mine.
$5,000: Danny O'Brian (P. O. Box 698, Sand Springs, executive of Cust-O-Fab)
$2,500: George Kaiser, Joe Robson
$2,000: Chet Cadieux (QuikTrip), Emmit Hahn (Chili Bowl promoter), Larry Edwards (see below)
$1,500: Jay Helm (American Residential Group)
$1,000: Tom Maxwell (Flintco), Brad Smallwood, Mark Tedford, Henry Zarrow, Tom Kivisto (formerly of SemGroup), Stacy Schusterman, Keith Bailey, W. R. Lissau, Walt Helmerich, Dennis Hall, Lynn Mitchell (of the Jenks River District), Stuart Price (Bill Clinton crony and one-time Democratic nominee for Congress)
$500: Hasting Siegfried, Art Couch (roads contractor), John Walker, Scott Morgan, Ray Morgan, Darton Zink, Tom Golden, Albert Kelly, Montie Box (Sand Springs real estate mogul)
$300: Rick Huffman (Branson, Mo.)
$250: Ken Levit (George Kaiser Family Foundation), Mitch Adwon, Jono Helmerich, Guy Berry, John Gaberino, Stephen Franklin, Jim Spoan, Mike Kimbrel (Jenks River District).
I was puzzled about the $2,000 contribution from "Larry Edwards." There is someone by that name who was was chairman of Global Power Equipment Corp., a company that went through Chapter 11 Bankruptcy in 2006, emerging in January 2008.
But then I noticed that "Larry Edwards" is next to "Emmit Hahn" at the very end of the list. I found the following info on the "about" page of the Chili Bowl Midget Nationals (emphasis added):
Two weeks after Christmas, the Chili Bowl Midget Nationals arrives like a gift from Santa Claus. In the Oklahoma metropolis of Tulsa, "Santa" is Emmett Hahn and Lanny Edwards, organizers of the four-night race meet since its 1987 inception.
Hahn and Edwards lease the
IPE Building Expo Building QuikTrip center from the Tulsa County Public Facilities Authority (of which Miller, as county commissioner, is a member) every January to run midget cars around an indoor dirt track.
Given that Hahn's first name was misspelled or mistranscribed, it's not hard to imagine that a handwritten "Lanny" became a typewritten "Larry." The names on the contributor list are not sorted by name or amount, so I suspect they are sorted in the order the contribution was received. Since Hahn and Edwards are listed together, it may be that they contributed on the same day. If the filing were complete, with a date for each contribution, it would be easier to know for sure.
So instead of getting $5,000 from Big Splash owner Loretta Murphy (who apparently doesn't have that kind of money to throw around any more), Miller is getting money from another Fairgrounds tenant, split up perhaps to make it seem less obvious.
MORE: A reader notes that Jono Helmerich is chairman of the Friends of the Fairgrounds Foundation and Tom Maxwell and Darton Zink are members of the board. The same reader notes that the notary public who notarized Miller's form is Ella McKenzie, Miller's taxpayer-funded secretary. Either she had McKenzie notarize it on county time or on her own time, and I'm not sure which is worse. She already had her chief deputy handle some legal business for her on his lunch hour. (I wonder if Miller has a flower fund.)
Also, in the comments, Tasha points out that contributor Rick Huffman is the fellow who built Branson Landing and proposed a similar development for Tulsa's west bank.
Earlier today I spoke to Merlyn Rios at the Oklahoma Ethics Commission. Merlyn is the person who answers the phone when you "press 1" to request information about a campaign filing.
County elections are governed differently than state and municipal elections. Like municipal elections, they come under the Public Subdivisions Ethics Act. Like state elections and unlike municipal elections, county candidates file their C-1 (contributions and expenditures) reports with the Oklahoma Ethics Commission. Unlike state elections, county elections aren't covered under electronic filing requirements, so you've got to call or drop by the Ethics Commission office at the State Capitol to pick up a copy of a county filing.
So I called the Ethics Commission and spoke to Merlyn. I asked her about the required pre-primary C-1 filings for Tulsa County Commissioner, District 2. Pre-primary filings were due yesterday.
(The law -- 51 O. S. 315 (A)(5) -- actually says the filing is due 10 days before an election, but because that always falls on a Saturday, the paperwork is considered on time if it's submitted by close of business on the next business day, which -- barring a holiday -- is the Monday eight days before election day.)
I asked specifically about filings for Sally Bell and Randi Miller, the candidates in the Republican primary. After putting me on hold to check, Merlyn told me that the Ethics Commission had received Sally Bell's report but had not received the required report for Randi Miller's campaign.
I asked her a second time specifically if Randi Miller's C-1 had been submitted to the Ethics Commission. Merlyn confirmed that it had not.
For the record, here is Sally Bell's pre-primary C-1 filing. If someone wants to mail me a copy of Randi Miller's report, I'll post it here. (UPDATE 7/23/2008: Here's an analysis of Randi Miller's C-1 report, submitted a day late, with a link to a scan of the report.)
Tulsa County District 2 Commissioner Randi Miller was a no-show tonight at the After Five Republican Women's Club debate between her and Republican challenger Sally Bell. Miller committed over a month ago to participate in the forum, but she decided at the last minute to bail. I'm not surprised -- the more Miller opens her mouth, the more votes she loses. Her only hope is that her well-funded campaign consultants are able to craft a new, false image of her using ads.
The media was there to cover the event. KJRH Channel 2 (Cable 9)'s Casey Roebuck was there, but I'm told that the station would only have run a story if Miller had appeared. Without both candidates present, the station won't even run the story that Miller bailed out. I'm disappointed but not surprised. Since Glenn McEntyre's departure from KJRH, KOTV News on 6 seems to be the only TV outlet aggressively covering the County Courthouse. Maybe 6 will run a story about Miller's cowardice. (UPDATE: News on 6 did cover the no-show.)
I've seen that before -- during Vision 2025 and other campaigns, neighborhood groups and broadcast outlets let the more cowardly side dictate coverage: If one side didn't show up, the debate wouldn't happen. To their credit, KRMG insisted that their Downtown Kiwanis Club Vision 2025 debate would happen whether the vote yes side was there or not. The "yes" consultants relented and sent someone to represent their side.
We shall see what happens on Pat Campbell's show Wednesday morning at 8. I won't be shocked if Miller comes down with an acute attack of laryngitis. If she does show up, I think Pat would be smart to invite KFAQ afternoon host Chris Medlock in studio to help ask the questions. Medlock was endorsed by Miller to succeed her on the City Council, and if memory serves Medlock endorsed Miller in her race for County Commission. You have to have dealt with Randi for a while before you can see through her sympathy ploys and spin.
Unfortunately for Randi, I think Pat's already beginning to catch on. After two years, 740 KRMG's Joe Kelley is still a relative newcomer to Tulsa, and he certainly seems to "get" Miller. She's running out of media people to bamboozle.
UPDATE: Pat Campbell took some exception to what I wrote in the fourth paragraph above. He had Elvis Polo give me a call at about 6:30, and we spoke on air at 6:40. I appreciate the opportunity to clarify, and I'll link to the podcast when it's up. (My wife told me it took her two readings to get my point, so I wasn't as clear as I could have been.)
As I told Pat, my remarks were a commentary on Randi Miller's slipperiness, not on his astuteness. She will defend herself in a way that seems reasonable, unless you happen to remember the relevant contradicting fact. As well-studied as Pat is -- and the time he takes to study up on the issues is evident every day -- you almost need an encyclopedic memory to be able to pull out the relevant fact. I have no doubt Pat will be able to build that encyclopedia of local political knowledge over time, but it does take time. I mentioned Medlock as a resource because, having lived through and been politically active through the relevant history, he's already got those facts on tap.
MORE: Here's the link to the podcast of my conversation with Pat Campbell. During the first part of the hour, Pat clears up some misconceptions about how he plans to conduct the debate between Bell and Miller. I take extreme exception to the statement made on the podcast page that my comments above "insinuate that Pat is a little 'slow.'" Once again, the issue isn't Pat's astuteness -- of which there can be no doubt -- but Randi's slipperiness. No disrespect was intended, and I took pains to explain that on air this morning and in my update above.
AFTER FIVE CLUB PRESIDENT RESPONDS to "Steve" who called to defend Miller's absence in the first part of the 6 a.m. hour linked above:
What a turnout we had last night at the After Five Republican Women's Group! I hope everyone enjoyed the forum and welcome everyone back on the 3rd Monday of each month.
Unfortunately, there were some negative comments about our group made on the Pat Campbell radio program this morning by a caller that I feel need to be addressed.
After Five, as a chartered club by the Oklahoma Federation of Republican Women, does not and cannot take sides in a GOP primary. This has been stated in the monthly newsletter as well as announced at each primary forum we have held.
At last night's meeting I thanked Dan Newberry, Jan Megee and Sally Bell for fulfilling their commitment to the group and was disappointed that Randi Miller accepted another invitation canceling her appearance. The invitation for all of these candidates was extended on June 17. They all accepted immediately. We apologize that so many turned out to see the forum only to be disappointed that both commission candidates were not there. We only found out Friday evening (3 days prior). We tried to work with Commissioner Miller on timing to see if she could attend both events, as a couple of the other candidates did, however, it didn't work out.
This group is committed to treating all candidates with respect. Realizing crowd emotions can run high in these types of contested races, the officers of the group wanted to be sure it was conducted in a professional manner. Questions were taken from the audience IN WRITTEN FORM ONLY. The questions were not edited, in fact, one question was critical of my husband's radio station. It was asked as written. There were charges of planted or slanted questions being asked of Sally Bell. That is not true. Club officer & Tulsa County Chair, Joy Mohorovicic asked all of the questions written by the audience. We gave no one instructions except we didn't want speeches, we wanted questions.
We were accused of being a special interest group. Yes, we are! We are a Republican women's group. A diverse group of active Republican women who work in campaigns, fund campaigns and promote Republican ideals. In a primary, we often do not support the same candidate, but respect each other's efforts and come together in the general election to elect Republicans. That's the special interest we serve ... the Republican Party.
President, After Five Republican Women's Group
It's worth noting that "Steve," the caller defending Miller's absence from the After Five forum, said that Dan Newberry was at the Tulsa County News forum. He was also at the After Five forum. If he could do both, why couldn't Miller?
Tonight, the two Republican candidates for Tulsa County District 2 Commissioner, incumbent Randi Miller and challenger Sally Bell, will meet in a debate during the regular monthly meeting of the After Five Republican Women's Club, at Marie Callender's on 51st Street east of Harvard. Dinner begins at 5:45; the program begins at 6:15.
Bell and Miller will debate each other on the Pat Campbell show on 1170 KFAQ Wednesday morning at 8:00.
Last night KOTV's News on 6 ran an investigative report into Tulsa County District 2 Commissioner Randi Miller's attendance record. (On that page you'll find a link to the video version of the report.) Among other stats, KOTV confirmed something I reported in my July 9 column: that Miller had missed 29 of 33 TMAPC meetings when she was an ex officio member of the commission.
This morning 740 KRMG's Joe Kelley interviewed Miller, devoting more time than he usually has to ask some probing questions. I like the way Kelley gives her a chance to tell her side of things, but at the same time he politely but pointedly calls her on some inconsistencies and gaps. I think that's the right balance. (Here's a direct link to the streaming audio of the interview.)
Tulsa County District 2 Commissioner Randi Miller has been on the radio asserting her veracity in her dispute with fired Expo Square CEO Rick Bjorklund. He says she told him to get Big Splash water park's problems "off the radar," which he then did by not pressing park owner Loretta Murphy (a Miller campaign contributor) for payment, so that Murphy wouldn't have to seek financial relief in a public meeting. She (Miller) says Bjorklund is lying. (Here's a link to KFAQ's Pat Campbell's July 15 interview with Bjorklund and here's his July 16 interview with Miller. On the July 16 Chris Medlock show, County Commission candidate Sally Bell replied to Miller's statements and also spoke about her platform and philosophy of government.)
Miller is not helping her case with the glossy four-color campaign mailer she just sent to voters in her district. While she doesn't outright lie, she presents the facts in a misleading manner. For example, from the leftmost panel:
A Proven Leader
Randi Miller is an effective and dynamic Tulsa County Commissioner -- elected twice by her colleagues to serve as Commission Chairman.
Technically, that's true, but the County Commissioners rotate the chairmanship each year. Miller has served six years, so, as one of three commissioners, serving as chairman for two of those six years is just the normal rotation of the job. It's no indication of her effectiveness or dynamism.
It's strange that this is the only "accomplishment" this six-year incumbent would cite.
But here's the big whopper, from the rightmost of the four panels:
Dedicated to Families
Randi Miller is married and has three children and two grandchildren....
Again, technically, Randi Miller is still married to her husband Gary. But on May 15, 2007, she filed for divorce from her husband, a fact that came to light in a KOTV investigation of her chief deputy, Terry Simonson, and his continuing his private law practice while also drawing a full-time salary as a county employee. Miller's divorce case was listed as one of several, filed after Simonson joined the county, in which Simonson was an attorney of record.
(Simonson said that he entered the case during his lunch hour and only to notify the court that Randi Miller wouldn't be there to make a scheduled court appearance to watch a video about helping minor children cope with divorce. He withdrew formally from the case on March 14. About the rest of his caseload, Simonson explained that he was using his own time on evenings and weekends to complete legal work to which he had already committed himself.)
The divorce is not yet final, so technically, Randi Miller is still married. Her presumably-soon-to-be-ex-husband does not appear in the family portrait on the cover of the mailer, which includes her three children, her grandchildren, and her son-in-law and daughter-in-law, but she is wearing a ring on her left ring finger in all the photos where it would be visible.
The issue is not that she has initiated a divorce or whether she or her husband is to blame for the failure of their marriage. It's that she's trying to sell herself to the voters by creating a misleading image with her mailer.
Why does this remind me of what Miller told KOTV's Emory Bryan about the misleading Our River Yes flyer that went to Broken Arrow voters?
A dispute over advertising for the river tax is heating up in Broken Arrow. City leaders there say their voters are the targets of false advertising. The flyer in question doesn't say Broken Arrow is going to get a riverfront development, though it clearly shows one, and the picture is titled Broken Arrow Riverfront. The News On 6's Emory Bryan reports that flyer was mailed to voters in Broken Arrow.
Some of Broken Arrow's community leaders believe the flyer is a false promise from the River tax campaign.
"And it gave the impression that we are going to get a riverfront development out of the river tax which is not true, it's very misleading," Broken Arrow Mayor Wade McCaleb said.
The flyer went to voters in Broken Arrow last week, and includes a picture titled "Broken Arrow Riverfront." But there is no money in this river tax to build what's shown in the picture.
"There is no plan to do anything after this tax unless we pass another tax," McCaleb said....
Broken Arrow's elected leaders are united against the tax and they believe supporters are trying to fool voters with the flyer. River tax supporters absolutely deny any attempt to mislead, and will not acknowledge the picture could be confusing.
"Do you see how that is misleading?" News On 6 reporter Emory Bryan asked Commissioner Miller.
"No, because it not once says this is what is going to happen," Miller responded.
(Here's the video of the KOTV story about Randi Miller and the misleading Broken Arrow mailer.)
So... the flyer never once said that she wasn't in the process of getting a divorce, so in her mind it's not misleading to say she's married.
Well, OK then.
MORE: Randi must have some big money behind her; now she's running radio ads. One of the lines from the ad nearly sent me through the roof: "Standing strong, even if it means standing alone." If there's one thing that has marked Miller's time on the County Commission, it was her refusal to stand alone. She refused to be the lone vote against the logrolled Vision 2025 ballot or against putting Boeing corporate welfare on the ballot. She refused to be the lone vote against giving insiders sole-source contracts for Vision 2025 management, legal work, and bond sales and managements, contracts that dealt with over half a billion dollars.
The ad also touts her vote (eight years ago on the City Council) against the Great Plains Airlines deal and claims that she said no when "an amusement park" asked the county for a "bailout." There's another distortion. Bell's never asked to be bailed out. Through their final year on Expo Square, Bell's continued to pay more rent and commission to Expo Square than the Drillers and Big Splash combined. Oddly, while taking credit for saying no to Bell's on her radio ad, she was bemoaning the fact, in her interview with Pat Campbell, that she was being unfairly blamed for a decision that was made by the entire Fair Board.
Chris Medlock answers Randi Miller's lament.
KFAQ's Pat Campbell asked listeners Thursday morning why Randi Miller was being singled out for blame about Bell's eviction. I e-mailed Pat with a link to the KOTV investigation from last fall. (Here's the text version of the story about Bell's Amusement Park and Randi Miller.) I also pointed him to my column about why Randi Miller needs to be retired, in last week's UTW. Here's the rest of what I wrote to him:
1. She's one of only two fair board members who were on the board when Bell's was evicted who are still on the board. The board consists of the three county commissioners, plus two appointed citizens. Of her two fellow commissioners at the time, one was defeated for re-election (Wilbert Collins) and one did not run for re-election (Bob Dick). One of the two appointed commissioners, Clark Brewster, was up for reappointment and County Commission chairman Fred Perry opted to appoint someone else. The only other remaining fair board member from that time is attorney Jim Orbison.
2. She took a leading and visible role in defending the decision to evict Bell's. She told the media that Bell's wasn't a viable business and was unsafe. (Meanwhile, Big Splash was behind in rent, and, according to Rick Bjorklund, Miller was telling him to keep Big Splash off the radar.) If you go back to stories in the World and on local TV, you'll find Miller speaking on behalf of the county and the fair board about why Bell's couldn't be allowed to stay.
3. She received campaign money from Loretta Murphy, owner of Big Splash. Loretta is the wife of Jerry Murphy, who owns Murphy Brothers, which has a contract to provide the Tulsa State Fair midway. Loretta Murphy made maximum campaign contributions of $5,000 each to Miller's 2006 mayoral and 2004 county commission campaigns. Shortly after Miller received the Murphy donation to her mayoral campaign in early 2006, Miller pushed for granting a new 10-year contract to Murphy Bros. for the midway. The contract was sole-source -- no competitive bidding. Rick Bjorklund, an associate of the Murphys from Wisconsin, was hired by the fair board later that same summer. That fall, Bell's was evicted.
During the state fair, Bell's and the Murphy midway competed for ride revenue. To give you an idea of how much money the fair generated, Bell's received about a third of its annual revenue during the 10 days of the fair. While Murphy had some rides that Bell's didn't, I always steered my kids to the Bell's rides, because they were a local business and the rides were permanently installed, not moved in just for the week. With Bell's gone, the Murphys get all of the fair ride revenue. The Murphys also received, in their new 2006 contract, first right to occupy the Bell's property if it became vacant.
The treatment of Bell's is only one reason people don't trust Randi Miller. While she was a fairly conservative city councilor, as a county commissioner she fell in love with corporate welfare, tax increases, and questionable public-private partnerships with county insiders. She pushed a $350 million corporate welfare package for Boeing, to be funded by a sales tax increase. She was ready to back a $600 million plan to build islands in the middle of the Arkansas River and did back a $282 million river tax which was defeated by Tulsa County voters.
In this week's UTW, I review the record of Tulsa County District 2 Commissioner Randi Miller and endorse Sally Bell as her replacement.
Since writing that piece, fired Expo Square CEO Rick Bjorklund has been pointing the finger at Miller regarding the decision to hold the Big Splash rent check.
According to the daily paper yesterday:
Rick Bjorklund, who was fired as president and CEO of Expo Square, said Thursday that he was instructed by County Commissioner Randi Miller to keep Big Splash Water Park's financial troubles "off the radar."
The fair board last week voted 4-0 to terminate Bjorklund after it was discovered that a check for half of the water park's 2006 rent had gone uncashed for a year and that it had yet to pay its 2007 rent. In addition, Big Splash's outstanding 2007 balance was never listed specifically on the financial reports presented to the fair board.
Bjorklund said Miller, who was fair board chairwoman in 2007, spoke to him about the Big Splash situation in about June of that year.
"The conversation (with Miller) was, 'Ease up on them and get it off the radar,'?" he said.
Bjorklund said he told fair board members about Miller's instructions during the executive session held to determine his fate.
"I turned to Randi and I said: 'You had given me instructions, Randi, to get it off the radar screen, and we did that.'?''
Miller denies Bjorklund's claim, but what he says makes sense. If Big Splash's financial troubles became public, it would show her to be inconsistent, making her look foolish or even evil for using Bell's business plan as a pretext for evicting them from the Fairgrounds. She had a vested interest in keeping Big Splash's financial problems "off the radar."
MORE: Responding to questions and comments from readers here and on the UTW story:
I was asked about my reference to "irregularities in [Miller's] personal life." In my column, I chose not to go into the specifics that the Tulsa World reported in a February 26, 2006, story headlined "Mayoral Mudfight," but you can read them at that link.
William Franklin posted a lengthy comment at UTW claiming that Bell's Amusement Park was in a state of terrible disrepair when it was evicted. His memory doesn't match with mine, and I think the Bell family did a fine job of keeping the park going when so many family-owned amusement parks in this region have closed, and despite the constraints of their location. They made do while continuing to be Expo Square's biggest rent-payer, and never asked for a taxpayer subsidy. (They were granted an extension in paying rent in the late '90s, but they made the payment with interest above prime rate.)
I took my kids to Bell's at least a couple of times each summer, and we steered them to spend their Tulsa State Fair ride tickets there, instead of on the midway. While the park was not up to Disney standards, it was at least as well-kept as Frontier City (which took my 10-year-old to in 2006), and I had no problem letting the kids on the rides or riding them myself.
Bell's had been making annual improvements to the property. The park introduced a new drop ride in (I think) 2005 and in 2006 had finally reached agreement with the neighborhood on adding a new roller coaster.
The possibility of a new coaster and a themed park first came up in 1998, not in the 1980s as Franklin asserts. Robby Bell and then Expo Square CEO Pat Lloyd made presentations to the Midtown Coalition of Neighborhood Associations that year about the future plans for the park and Expo Square as a whole.
The plan had Bell's expand all the way west to Louisville Ave., with parking for Bell's to the north, and a new main entrance on the north side of the park. The westernmost area was to be quieter uses (concession areas, souvenir stands, kiddie rides). We were shown sketches that had been done for Bell's by an amusement park consultant with a boomtown theme.
In December 2000, the Fair Board granted a lease for Bell's to expand to the west and add a roller coaster. The coaster's construction was held up by a lawsuit from the neighborhood challenging the County Board of Adjustment's decision to grant a special exception for the coaster.
It's true that the miniature golf course was no longer maintained. It was to be the site for the new coaster, once a compromise had been reached with the neighbors. There had been two courses when I was a kid. A single course was created out of the western part of both courses sometime in the late '80s or early '90s to make way for picnic pavilions for corporate events and group parties. I loved playing the course as a kid, but at some point, as mini-golf lost popularity in general (I can only think of one surviving course in Tulsa), I'm sure it became uneconomical to keep it open.
I suspect the reason Bell's didn't first think of building a coaster in that part of the property was because they intended to double the park's footprint and were granted a lease to build the coaster on land to the west, so there would have been no need to reuse existing park land.
The Fair Board could have solved the problem much sooner had it allowed Bell's to expand to the interior of Expo Square, rather than forcing any expansion to be toward the neighborhoods. Neighboring homeowner Scott Trizza proposed at the time that a new coaster could be placed north of the IPE Building, screened off by the building from the neighborhoods.
One of the oddest of the latest batch of Tulsa City Council campaign contribution reports was Bill Martinson's ethics report.
Martinson, the councilor for District 5, was one of three unopposed candidates. The other two, Rick Westcott and John Eagleton, spent nothing on their campaigns. Westcott filed a statement of inactivity. Eagleton returned the handful of contributions he received.
But Bill Martinson raised and spent almost $11,000. That's not much below the amounts spent by candidates in competitive races. Eric Gomez and Maria Barnes in District 4 and Roscoe Turner and David Patrick in District 3 each spent between $12,000 and just over $13,000.
$9,001.15 of Martinson's spending was for "Personal services," $418.88 was for printing, and $1,323.77 was for "Advertising - general." The rest is listed as "Miscellaneous."
I could see an unopposed candidate putting out a single mailing to constituents saying thank you for another term and listing his accomplishments in the previous term. But who would you be paying $9,000 and what would that person be doing for that kind of money?
Here is an overview of the post-general election Form C-1 ethics reports filed with the Tulsa City Clerk's office by 5 p.m. Monday, the deadline for the post-general filing for the April 1 Tulsa City Council general election.
Perhaps the most interesting report wasn't from a candidate. It was from Build PAC, the developer lobby's political action committee. Build PAC filled out an incomplete report which did not list the names of contributors or amounts of contributions. It did list the candidates which received its largess:
Emanuel Lewis (District 1 Democrat) - $500
David Patrick (District 3 Independent) - $1,500
Eric Gomez (District 4 Republican) - $1,500
Dennis Troyer (District 6 Democrat) - $750
Bill Christiansen (District 8 Republican) - $1,000
G. T. Bynum (District 9 Republican) - $1,000
It was a good year for Build PAC. They elected five of the six candidates they supported, and they timed their donations to avoid being an issue in the campaign. Note also that most of these candidates also received contributions from the ABC PAC (Associated Builders & Contractors) and the Realtors PAC.
Now that we know who the Build PAC Boys are, we'll be watching to see if they toe the development lobby's line or if they demonstrate some independence between now and the next election. This city's future is too important to let it be decided by those who are only out for short-term profits.
Please note that the numbers for Eric Gomez do not include any of the contributions from his May 5th breakfast fundraiser at the Chalkboard Restaurant. Even without those donations, he was able to raise more than he spent.
Jack Henderson (D)
Contributions this period = $2,700.00
Contributions over $200 = $2,400.00
Contributions $200 or less = $300.00
Expenditures this period = $6,360.72
Total contributions for campaign = $14,228.69
Total expenditures for campaign = $14,173.32
$750 - Tulsa Firefighter Local #176
$500 - Jack Henderson, Roy Ashley
$400 - Mary Blendowski
$250 - DPF PAC Local #523
Rick Westcott (R):
Filed a statement of inactivity.
David Patrick (I):
Contributions this period = $9,600.00
Contributions over $200 = $8,000.00
Contributions $200 or less = $1,600.00
Expenditures this period = $8,936.80
Total contributions for campaign = $12,421.13
Total expenditures for campaign = not listed
$2,500 - Tulsans for Truth, P.O. Box 4503, 74159
$1,500 - Build PAC
$1,000 - Realtor PAC; ABC (Associated Builders & Contractors) PAC, 1915 N. Yellowood Ave., 74102
$500 - Margaret Pellegrini, Jeff Parell, Thomas Kennedy, Barry Benoit
Roscoe Turner (D):
Contributions this period = $1,725.00
Contributions over $200 = $1,100.00
Contributions $200 or less = $600.00
Expenditures this period = $4,924.00
Total contributions for campaign = $12,999.37
Total expenditures for campaign = $12,927.25
$500 - K. Anderson
$300 - P. Feist
$250 - Mark Darrah
Jason Eric Gomez (R):
Contributions this period = $10,700.00
Contributions over $200 = $8,300.00
Contributions $200 or less = $2,400.00
Expenditures this period = $10,057.76
Total contributions for campaign = $13,700.00
Total expenditures for campaign = $13,127.01
$2,500 - Ed Leinbach
$1,500 - Tulsa Build PAC
$1,000 - Realtor PAC, ABC (Associated Builders & Contractors) PAC
$500 - River City Development LLC, Albert Mendel
$300 - Caleb Raynolds
$250 - Peter Walter, Robert & Jill Thomas, Ridge Kaiser, William Thomas
Maria Barnes (D):
Contributions this period = $2,130.00
Contributions over $200 = $750.00
Contributions $200 or less = $1,380.00
Expenditures this period = $4,752.28
Total contributions for campaign = $22,211.71
Total expenditures for campaign = $12,481.41
$500 - Just Progress PAC
$250 - Steve & Norma Turnbo
Bill Martinson (R)
Contributions this period = $8,550.00
Contributions over $200 = $8,050.00
Contributions $200 or less = $500.00
Expenditures this period = $10,923.88
Total contributions for campaign = $10,967.62
Total expenditures for campaign = $10,923.88
$2,000 - Stan L. Johnson
$1,500 - Bruce Norton
$1,100 - Jeff Stava for City Council
$1,000 - Stacy Schusterman
$700 - Phil Frohlich
$500 - Mike Case, Howard G. Barnett Jr., George B. Kaiser
$250 - James G. Norton
Kevin Boggs (R)
Contributions this period = $1,300.00
Contributions over $200 = $1,150.00
Contributions $200 or less = $150.00
Expenditures this period = $2,078.23
Total contributions for campaign = $2,573.23
Total expenditures for campaign = $2,523.23
$550 - Kevin & Christy Boggs
$350 - Bill Bickerstaff
$250 - April & Jeff Cash
Dennis K. Troyer (D):
Contributions this period = $7,200.00
Contributions over $200 = $6,000.00
Contributions $200 or less = $1,200.00
Expenditures this period = $5,659.44
Total contributions for campaign = $13,634.90
Total expenditures for campaign = $11,984.34
$2,000 - W. E. Lobeck [Mr. Kathy Taylor]
$1,000 - Transport Workers Union, Greater Tulsa Association of Realtors
$750 - Home Builders Association [Build PAC]
$250 - Jim East, J. L. [Jody] Parker, GBK [George B. Kaiser] Corp, 6733 S. Yale, Larry Mocha, Dan Schusterman
John Eagleton (R)
Contributions this period = $1,790.00
Contributions over $200 = $800.00
Contributions $200 or less = $990.00
Expenditures this period = $1,790.00
Total contributions for campaign = $1,790.00
Total expenditures for campaign = $1,790.00
$300 - J. & P. Rice
$250 - L. Mocha, M. Barkley
[Expenditures consisted of refunding all contributions to the contributors.]
Bill Christiansen (R)
Contributions this period = $7,710.00
Contributions over $200 = $5,250.00
Contributions $200 or less = $2,460.00
Expenditures this period = $6,319.49
Total contributions for campaign = $21,830.23
Total expenditures for campaign = $13,140.38
$1,000 - Build PAC, Realtors PAC, Mike D. Case
$500 - Ronald E. Davis, Mike Krimbill, Martin Keating
$250 - Laurie L. Ross, Michael B. Fretz, Ernest & Jeannine Terry
G. T. Bynum (R)
Contributions this period = $9,850.00
Contributions over $200 = $8,650.00
Contributions $200 or less = $1,200.00
Expenditures this period = $10,556.82
Total contributions for campaign = $58,284.14
Total expenditures for campaign = $29,489.65
$2,000 - Joseph & Kathy Craft
$1,000 - ABC PAC, Build PAC, Realtors PAC
$500 - W. H. Helmerich, Dave Hentchel
$350 - Mary B. Sullivan
$300 - Steve Austin
$250 - Arnold & Pat Brown, Frank & Bonnie Henke, Rosa Lee LaFortune, Richard B. Pringle, Mollie B. Williford, William H. Davis, Fred Daniel Jr., Julie Pringle
More analysis of these reports on Thursday.
I'm told by someone who had been invited that there was a breakfast fundraiser for new District 4 City Councilor Eric Gomez Monday morning (May 5). It was headlined by Congressman Sullivan.
That's interesting timing. The cutoff date for the next ethics report (due May 12) was May 1, so any contributions after that date don't have to be reported until October. (See 51 O.S. 315, paragraphs 4 and 5.)
Still, I would hope Councilor Gomez would see the virtue in including these contributions on his May report. Making the earliest possible disclosure of his list of contributors would help to defuse any concerns or suspicions.
While the letter of the ethics act allows him to delay reporting, the spirit of the law is that the voters should know, preferably before the election, but certainly as soon as possible afterwards, who funded a candidate's campaign and thus might influence his decisions as a public official.
(Cross-posted from a discussion thread on TulsaNow's public forum.)
Some context from my election post-mortem column in UTW:
The result just to the south in District 4 was a surprise, given where the two candidates' finances stood as of the last ethics report. Incumbent Maria Barnes had raised more than $20,000, while challenger Eric Gomez was reporting slightly under $3,000 raised as of two weeks before the election.
If I hadn't seen the reports myself, I would have thought the fundraising advantage belonged to Gomez. Barnes put out a couple of two-color postcards; Gomez mailed expensive glossy four-color brochures. Gomez bombarded voters with robocalls; Barnes had a single automated call, voiced by Mayor Kathy Taylor....
[Gomez consultant Jim] Burdge may have repeated a trick he pulled two years ago. Robert C. Bartlett, no relation to the famous political family, won the 2006 Republican primary in District 4 despite the fact that he had stopped campaigning, probably because of his famous name. As of two weeks before the general election, he had only raised about a thousand dollars, most of which had been spent on photocopied flyers.
Then, suddenly, Bartlett was sending out glossy full-color mailers, was sending out robocalls (including one voiced by Eric Gomez), and had two-color yard signs popping up all over midtown. Clearly the money came in after the final pre-election reporting deadline, so that the source of the money -- probably the development lobby -- couldn't be used as an issue in the campaign.
Post-election reports, including all money raised and spent during the two weeks immediately before the election, are due on May 12. We'll be watching closely to see that the reports are filed and will be very interested in what they reveal.
I guess we'll need to keep an eye on the reports due in October and in January as well.
No fooling. Today's election day in the City of Tulsa. All precincts will be open because of two charter amendments on the ballot. Districts 3, 4, 6, 8, and 9 have general elections for City Council seats.
I've assembled my blog entries on this year's election into a single category, Tulsa::Election2008, which includes links to relevant Urban Tulsa Weekly columns and links to other blog entries and columns on the issue of Neighborhood Conservation Districts, which has become one of the key issues in this election, particularly in the Council District 4 race between incumbent Maria Barnes and challenger Eric Gomez.
I'll be on KFAQ with Chris Medlock this morning from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m., going through the races and the issues at stake.
We'll also preview this Saturday's 1st Congressional District Republican convention, at which three delegates and three alternates to the Republican National Convention will be chosen, along with one of the seven members of Oklahoma's Republican slate of presidential electors. The Ron Paul Revolution continues as his supporters seek to get elected as delegates and alternates and to control the platform and rules process at the State Convention, coming up in May.
UPDATE: 1 p.m. turnout reports from a couple of District 4 polling places suggest that we're on track for the same turnout as the last non-mayoral election four years ago -- about 2,600 voters in District 4.
MORE: David Schuttler reports that electioneering material supporting David Patrick was left out in plain sight at a polling place -- the UAW union hall.
Kevin Boggs, the Republican nominee for Tulsa City Council District 6, was on 1170 KFAQ this morning, accompanied by former District 6 Councilor Jim Mautino (the only real representation District 6 has ever had). Boggs gave a good interview -- unfortunately it doesn't seem to be up on the KFAQ podcast website.
Replacing the incumbent, Dennis Troyer, with Kevin Boggs would replace someone willing to acquiesce in any tax increase with someone who will oppose tax increases and work for accountability in government. Boggs spoke of taking up Mautino's effort to get an audit of the city's public works department, to investigate the way the department does business and how that may be hindering the most efficient use of our tax dollars to maintain our public infrastructure.
As I mentioned in my column this week, Troyer hasn't done much more than keep the seat warm. His most memorable comment was during the debate on moving City Hall to One Technology Center. He proclaimed that a building is like a woman: "high maintenance." He seems to see his job as waiting around and voting as he's told to vote.
This morning Boggs said that Troyer is taking credit for a new company coming to District 6. Boggs said that the company relocated from one part of the District to another, moving from an industrial area to a tract, rezoned with Troyer's help, adjacent to several homes. Boggs also pointed out that several improvements in District 6 that Troyer is taking credit for were in fact the doing of Jim Mautino. For example, it was Mautino who called public attention to the activities and modus operandi of Haywood Whichard, absentee owner of Eastland Mall. That scrutiny led to the city enforcement of building codes, putting pressure on Whichard to fix or sell the property. He sold Eastland to a new owner, who is redeveloping the mall as an office complex. But Troyer is taking credit for the positive changes that Mautino initiated.
You can read more about Kevin Boggs and his vision for District 6 in this Tulsa Beacon article about the District 6 race and in this endorsement editorial. Here is Boggs' response to the Tulsa Now questionnaire; here is Troyer's response. Boggs responded to the Preserve Midtown questionnaire; Troyer did not. Both responded to the League of Women Voters questionnaire.
Boggs would be a great improvement over Troyer, and I hope District 6 voters will support him at the polls tomorrow.
UPDATE (4/8/2008): Eastland-area neighborhood advocate Jennifer Weaver writes to correct my spelling of the former Eastland Mall owner's name: It's Whichard, not Witchard as I first had it. She also wants it known that she was not Jim Mautino's secretary, as Kevin Boggs erroneously called her in his campaign literature
, an error that was propagated in the Beacon editorial. Jennifer did the research that uncovered who Haywood Whichard was and how he operated and brought that to Mautino's attention. It was not my intention to slight her or any other neighborhood advocate who worked on the issue. My intention was to contrast Troyer with his predecessor, and I do think Mautino deserves credit for pursuing the matter, even after he lost the 2006 election to Troyer. As you'll see in this guest entry at MeeCiteeWurkor by Jennifer Weaver, Troyer was not well informed on zoning and the implications of IL zoning for Eastland Mall.
UPDATE (4/9/2009): In the comments, Charlie Biggs corrects my correction. The Beacon did not misidentify Weaver as Mautino's secretary.
Endorsements are starting to pile up in the Tulsa City Council District 4 race, with Eric Gomez receiving the support of the Tulsa World editorial board and the Tulsa Area Republican Assembly (TARA), and Maria Barnes being endorsed by neighborhood activists like Scott Swearingen and Greg Bledsoe. You can read the World's endorsement here. TARA did not specify the reasons for their endorsement, saying only that endorsements require a two-thirds vote of their membership.
Scott Swearingen, who played an important role in the late '90s in organizing Midtown neighborhoods to deal with adverse infill development, has endorsed incumbent Councilor Maria Barnes for a second term.
I first met Scott when was president of the Renaissance Neighborhood Association, which hosted a District 4 candidate forum when I first ran for Council in 1998. Scott encouraged me to get involved in the Midtown Coalition of Neighborhood Associations, of which he was one of the founders. Later that year, Scott also helped Eric Gomez to get involved in neighborhood activism, encouraging Eric to participate, along with Scott and me, in the zoning subcommittee of the Infill Task Force. Scott and his wife Shiela not only endorsed me in my 2002 run for Council, they supported me with their time and money. In recent years, they moved to the Sophian Plaza building, a historic high-rise overlooking the Arkansas River at 15th & Frisco.
Scott sent the following letter to the Tulsa World:
As a long-time Tulsan and resident of District 4, I've had the opportunity to know and work with both our City Council candidates, Maria Barnes and Eric Gomez. Both are smart, good people.
In your endorsement of Eric, you state that Maria's service to District 4 has been "lackluster" and that she has primarily worked on issues that only concern her neighborhood. I don't agree. Maria has devoted a huge amount of time and energy to the proposed fire code changes and to the impact they would have on residential highrise owners near downtown.
Before she was elected, she worked with many highrise owners to stop a rule that would have made sprinklers systems mandatory in all units ---- and in the process, driven many condominium owners out of downtown. When the next version of the fire ordinance was presented that had equally overwhelming and expensive mandates, Maria stood up again on behalf of high-rise residents.
Before the new fire code went forward, she made sure her constituents in highrise buildings and the other Councilors had an opportunity to review and understand how these laws effect property values. She made sure that the code does not treat all highrise buildings the same, but allows residents and the city to work together to find a balance between fire safety and costs to owners.
Maria lives in a primarily single-home residential neighborhood but she understands that downtown can only come back if city policies support affordable downtown living. I feel that Maria has worked very hard and effectively for all of District 4. I urge voters to visit the League of Women Voters Voters Guide website at www.lwvtulsa.org to find out more about the choice for District 4.
1500 South Frisco Avenue, Apt. 7-A
Greg Bledsoe was a leader of Tulsans Defending Democracy, the successful grass-roots effort to stop the proposal to eliminate three Council districts and replace those seats with councilors elected at-large. He is also involved in organizing the Beautiful Terwilliger Neighborhood Association:
I have endorsed Dist. 4 Councilor Maria Barnes and strongly believe she is a progressive and hard working voice on the Tulsa City Council. She has always returned my phone calls and emails and has always been open and responsive to our concerns, even when she disagreed.
She stood shoulder to shoulder with Gary Allison, Elaine Dodd, Roscoe Turner, Chris Medlock, Jim Mautino, Jim Hewgley, Michael Bates, Herb Beattie and me in our bi-partisan effort to stop the ill-advised and discriminatory at-large 2006 charter change proposal promoted by the Tulsa World and real estate development interests. Stopping at-large and supporting neighborhoods formed the core of her campaign in 2006. Supporting neighborhoods and giving home owners the tools to preserve Tulsa's historic residential areas has formed the core of her 2008 re-election campaign.
She is being opposed by a chameleon Republican candidate that obviously has the backing of developers and the entrenched interests of the local newspaper. Neighborhood oriented Republicans support her policies and re-election even when they disagree with her on some social issues.... Democrats, like me, who are concerned about the future of our city and its development also strongly support her.
Neighborhood leaders--we can not do better for our group than re-electing Maria.
As I become aware of other endorsements, I'll append them to this entry.
I've received e-mails announcing volunteer opportunities for the two candidates for Tulsa City Council District 4 on this, the last weekend of the city campaign. Here's the info, in alphabetical order -- phone numbers as listed on the campaign websites:
Maria Barnes (phone number 918-955-0044):
One more weekend to go!!! We are going to try to cover a lot of ground these next 3 days, so any help would be appreciated. We will meet at our regular location--Cafe Cubana. Here are the times:
Friday: Meet at 9:30, walk until 2pm
Saturday: Meet at 10:30, walk until 4pm
Sunday: Meet at 12:30, walk until 4pm
Eric Gomez (phone number 918-742-1825):
Eric also needs volunteers for this weekend:
Where : Keller Williams Office - 2651 East 21st Street
When: 9 AM Saturday 3/29/08 - 2 PM Sunday 3/30/08
Special Project - 6:45 AM 4/1/08 and 3:45 PM 4/1/08
We need neighborhood sign wavers to be spread out throughout the district.
The League of Women Voters of Metropolitan Tulsa has launched a new website -- lwvtulsa.org. The new online home now has the League's voter guide information which had been on their old site: information about the two proposed City of Tulsa charter amendments, the City Council candidate questionnaires, and the Tulsa Technology Center District 3 board election. The site also has links to maps and locators, to help you find your precinct and district.
Also online is one of the League's best resources: the Directory of Government Officials, which includes contact information not only for elected officials, but also for the many city and county authorities, boards, and commissions. Many thanks to the League for the work they do to make basic, factual information available to the voters.
This week in Urban Tulsa Weekly, I preview Tuesday's City of Tulsa elections, urging a vote in favor of both charter amendments on the citywide ballot and touching briefly on the Council races in Districts 6 (Boggs vs. Troyer), 8 (Christansen vs. Hansen), and 9 (Bynum vs. Kates vs. Tay). Since I covered the District 4 race (Barnes vs. Gomez) last week, my focus this week is on the seventh District 3 match-up between City Council Chairman Roscoe Turner and his perennial opponent, former Councilor David Patrick, and why I hope and believe that the voters of District 3 will re-elect Roscoe Turner.
Although he and I likely differ on national issues, Councilor Turner has been on the right side of most local issues, while his opponent was almost always on the wrong side, sometimes all by himself. Patrick is now calling himself an independent, but as a candidate and a councilor, Patrick has been under the control of the Tulsa Whirled editorial board, the development lobby, and other powerful special interest groups. Roscoe Turner is the true independent in this race, in that he owes his election only to his constituents, and his only ambition is to serve the best interests of District 3 and the city at large.
If you'd like to help return Turner to office, there are a number of ways you can help. There will be volunteer opportunities throughout the weekend and on to Election Day. Here's a link to the contact page on Roscoe Turner's website.
MORE: Here are the full texts of the charter amendments tied to Proposition No. 1 (moving elections to the autumn of odd-numbered years) and Proposition No. 2 (using the State's definition of "qualified elector").
Also, here's a podcast of Maria Barnes interview on KFAQ with Chris Medlock on Thursday morning. Eric Gomez was offered the same opportunity to appear but evidently did not respond to the offer.
"Democratic government will be the more successful the more the public opinion ruling iit is enlightened and inspired by full and thorough discussion....The greatest danger threatening democratic institutions comes from those influences which tend to stifle or demoralize discussion." -- Carl Schurz
For a serious contender, Jason Eric Gomez is running one of the most bizarre campaigns for City Council I think I have ever witnessed.
In 2004, Gomez ran as the pro-neighborhood candidate against incumbent Tom Baker, former Tulsa Fire Chief and the pro-developer-lobby, establishment candidate. During his years as fire chief Baker famously characterized leaders in Renaissance Neighborhood, of whom Gomez is one, as C.A.V.E. People -- Citizens Against Virtually Everything. Despite Baker's massive funding advantage and Baker's endorsement by the Tulsa World, Gomez came within 24 votes of Baker.
Instead of building on that nearly-successful formula, this time Gomez is pitting himself against Midtown neighborhood advocates, attacking me and every other neighborhood advocate who thinks neighborhood conservation districts (NCDs) are an idea worth pursuing.
An NCD is a zoning designation that allows new development while protecting the characteristics that made the neighborhood attractive for development in the first place. Most large cities in the region have this designation -- Oklahoma City has had an equivalent designation for a quarter-century, with even more stringent requirements on infill development in the downtown and Bricktown areas.
There is a draft NCD enabling ordinance that has been discussed during the Tulsa Metropolitan Area Planning Commission's (TMAPC) work session. The proposed ordinance is limited in scope -- much more so than similar ordinances in Oklahoma City, San Antonio, and other cities -- and it is very early in the process.
There is an opportunity to have a reasoned discussion about the pros and cons of the proposed ordinance. Skeptics could identify specific provisions that are problematic and suggest alternative provisions and safeguards that would be sufficient to win their support. Those who would never under any circumstances support an NCD ordinance should say so plainly and set out their philosophical objections to the concept, and they should be prepared to explain how those objections fit within a coherent philosophy of land-use planning and zoning, something Gomez wasn't prepared to do at the Pearl District Association forum:
The obvious follow-up question came toward the end of the forum:
"Doesn't all zoning infringe on property rights, and if so, why is the idea of conservation district different from that? Why is it a further infringement on property rights that are already infringed by zoning?"
Gomez's verbatim reply: "We already regulate land use. We already regulate what you can and cannot do with your property. When people buy a property, they look at what the policies are, they understand what the zoning is, and if that should change, there has to be a--it's a fine line, I believe, between private property rights and zoning, and absent of covenants that are not easily enforceable, when you buy a property in an older neighborhood--I live in an older neighborhood--you do understand that these things may happen and it, um..." As his voice trailed off to a mumble, he sat down.
Rather than engaging in reasoned debate about the issue, Gomez is taking shots at people who supported him four years ago, whose votes he needs to win this election.
Neither the politically connected special interest nor the screams of the tyrannical minority should be able to trample on their neighbors personal property rights.
So I'm part of a screaming tyrannical minority who want to trample on their neighbors' personal property rights. And here's what he thinks of his opponent, Councilor Maria Barnes, who supports the idea of NCDs:
Our current city councilor is a nice human being, but manically obsessed with special interests.
While he obviously doesn't like the draft NCD, he doesn't single out any provision as dangerous, but says that "the lack of specifics within the proposal could significantly harm all neighborhoods." The proposal is in fact very specific, as specific as the zoning code provision that enables Planned Unit Developments (PUDs), a form of zoning overlay that is very popular with developers.
In the debate over how we protect the character of some of our city's greatest assets -- our Midtown neighborhoods -- Gomez has opted to attack rather than offer a solution. That's a great disappointment to me.
I first got to know Eric in 1998 when we were both involved in the Infill Task Force zoning subcommittee, which discussed a proposed NCD ordinance that was much more far-reaching than the current proposal. Eric endorsed me when I ran for City Council in 2002 (as did Maria). I was happy to endorse him during his 2004 run, noting his record as a defender of his neighborhood's integrity and character, fighting against development that would have intruded on the residential part of the neighborhood.
When I received an e-mail from a very vocal anti-NCD advocate claiming that Gomez absolutely opposed NCDs, I found it hard to believe, based on his record.
So I e-mailed Eric on March 9, asking him if the claim was true, and asking him to reply with what he would change about the proposed NCD draft (which I included as an attachment) to make it something he could support. Here's what I wrote:
Congratulations on your primary win!
Neighborhood Conservation Districts have been in the news lately, and I have some questions for you about your position on the issue.
You'll recall that we served together on the zoning and subdivision regulations subcommittee of the Infill Task Force, back in 1998-1999, along with Sharry White, Scott Swearingen, and Charles Norman. We discussed the concept of neighborhood conservation districts and even reviewed a draft ordinance that had been prepared by INCOG staff.
I was convinced then and remain convinced that we need to move beyond our one-size-fits-all zoning code. Just like Oklahoma City and many other cities in our region, Tulsa should have rules in place that are objective and clear but customized for each neighborhood, allowing infill while protecting the character of the neighborhood. The issue was at the heart of my 2002 campaign for City Council and the reason I won the support of nearly every neighborhood leader in District 4. My position also earned me the opposition of the Tulsa World and the developers' lobby.
So I'm happy to see that at long last there's a working draft of a Neighborhood Conservation District ordinance before the TMAPC, even if it is very limited in scope.
Unfortunately, some people are spreading fear and falsehoods about the proposal. I've been forwarded several e-mails from Martha Thomas Cobb, who seems to be leading the opposition to NCDs. She seems to think you're on her side on this issue. In one message, she wrote: "Also, I vistied with Eric Gomez who is running against Maria Barnes. He opposes this ordinance because of the property rights issue. Good to know. He is a good man and understands the property rights infringement and property price drop that will follow with more restrictions."
That doesn't fit with my understanding of your position, but I want to be sure my understanding is correct. So I've attached a copy of the working draft NCD ordinance. I'd ask you to read it and answer the following questions:
1. If you were on the City Council, would you vote to approve this ordinance as written?
2. If not, what specific changes would have to be made to this ordinance in order for you to vote for it?
3. If you wouldn't support an NCD ordinance under any circumstances, are there any other measures you would approve as a city councilor to protect the character of our midtown neighborhoods against inappropriate infill?
I'd like to be able to reassure neighborhood leaders and other homeowners that no matter who wins the District 4 election, our councilor will move forward with a Neighborhood Conservation District ordinance.
Instead of replying by e-mail, Eric phoned me. He didn't want to get specific about his objections to the draft NCD ordinance, but repeated his concern about "functional obsolescence" (nothing in the ordinance prevents the demolition and replacement of a functionally obsolescent building -- or any other building for that matter) and said that he thought it was being rushed along. He also said he didn't have time to study the issue and rewrite the ordinance in the midst of a campaign.
I told Eric I thought it was important for him to spell out his philosophy of zoning and land-use and to explain how he would address the concerns raised by teardowns and McMansions in Midtown if not with an NCD ordinance. I told him that he would need the support of people who are concerned about the issue.
I had hoped that Gomez's race this year against Maria Barnes would be a situation where both candidates would be solid on neighborhood and planning issues. I have had my differences with Barnes over her support for the City Hall move and her opposition to the Council resolution requesting immigration status checks to be run on people taken into custody by the Tulsa Police Department. I wish she were tougher on budget issues.
Gomez has apparently changed since his last race, but it's hard to know why. His campaign manager is (and was in 2004) Jim Burdge, who worked on the unsuccessful 2005 campaign to recall City Councilors Chris Medlock and Jim Mautino, an effort heavily funded by the development lobby. Gomez's op-ed is reminiscent in style of the Tulsa Tribunal attack tabloidsused during the recall campaign, which smeared the councilors as mentally and emotionally unbalanced.
This year the Tulsa Whirled has endorsed Gomez making Barnes' support for NCDs the main reason to vote her out of office. The Whirled condemned me for the same reason, although they were unwilling to say so in their editorial. The fact that they have to address the concept of zoning reform and attack it openly, rather than sweep it under the rug, is a sign of progress.
(Is it just me, or are there striking parallels between the Whirled's editorial and Gomez's op-ed? They seem to hit exactly the same talking points.)
I've been supporting the neighborhood conservation district concept for more than a decade, but I could still tolerate having a City Councilor who was opposed to the idea but willing to discuss it. I can't accept having a City Councilor who thinks people on the other side of the debate are screaming tyrants.
UPDATE: BatesLine appears to be the exclusive source of information about the Tulsa City Council pre-election ethics filings. The Tulsa Whirled normally publishes a story listing contributions the day after the filings, but they didn't bother this time, perhaps because the report of their favorite candidate contained some embarrassing contributions -- see below for details.
Here is an overview of the pre-general election Form C-1 ethics reports filed with the Tulsa City Clerk's office by 5 p.m. today, the deadline for the pre-general filing for next Tuesday's Tulsa City Council general election. This will not be a complete accounting, as I was at the clerk's office just before 5 p.m., the clerk's office employee seemed to be new on the job, and I didn't check my copies before I got out the door, so I didn't get copies of any attachments.
What is striking is the lack of contributions during this filing period. It may be that some campaigns were waiting to receive contributions and make expenditures until after the filing period ended last Monday, March 17.
DISTRICT 3 INDEPENDENT:
Carryover = $8,777.80
Contributions = $2,998.00
Expenditures = $8,954.67
Total of contributions over $200 = $1,500.00
Total of contributions $200 or less = $1,498.00
$500 - Robert Parmele, George R. Kravis III
$250 - Terry Young, Steve Turnbo
DISTRICT 4 DEMOCRAT:
Carryover = $18,981.71
Contributions = $1,100.00
Expenditures = $7,729.13
Total of contributions over $200 = $500.00
Total of contributions $200 or less = $600.00
$500 - Richard Sevenoaks
John L. Nidiffer:
Carryover = $5,100.00
Contributions = $2,600.00
Expenditures = $4,249.43
Total of contributions over $200 = $2,500
Total of contributions $200 or less = $100
$2,500 - John L. Nidiffer
DISTRICT 4 REPUBLICAN:
Jason Eric Gomez:
Carryover = $1,150.00
Contributions = $1,800.00
Expenditures = $3,072.25
Total of contributions over $200 = $1,250
Total of contributions $200 or less = $550
$1,000 - Harold Tompkins
$250 - Frank Henke IV
DISTRICT 6 DEMOCRAT:
Dennis K. Troyer:
Carryover = $6,082.57
Contributions = $310.00
Expenditures = $3,632.75
Total of contributions over $200 = $0
Total of contributions $200 or less = $310
DISTRICT 6 REPUBLICAN:
Carryover = $350.00
Contributions = $1018.23
Expenditures = $400.00
Total of contributions over $200 = $350
Total of contributions $200 or less = $668.23
$350 - April and Jeff Cash
DISTRICT 8 REPUBLICAN:
Carryover = $1,170.23
Contributions = $12,950.00
Expenditures = $6,820.89
Total of contributions over $200 = $10,300.00
Total of contributions $200 or less = $2,650.00
[Christiansen's contributor list was on an attachment, which didn't get copied.]
DISTRICT 9 REPUBLICAN:
G. T. Bynum:
Carryover = $45,283.28
Contributions = $3,150.86
Expenditures = $18,932.83
Total of contributions over $200 = $1,475.86
Total of contributions $200 or less = $1,675.00
[Bynum's contributor list was on an attachment, which didn't get copied.]
Notes and analysis:
Note that David Patrick received large contributions from Bob Parmele and Terry Young, both executives with Cinnabar, the company that managed the airport noise abatement program before their contract was not renewed in 2005. District 3 contains a number of neighborhoods that were included (or should have been) in the noise program, and there were numerous complaints of shoddy work by Cinnabar and its subcontractors. It's telling that Cinnabar officials would back David Patrick and would want to defeat Roscoe Turner. Turner actually paid attention to the concerns of affected homeowners and pushed to see those concerns addressed by the Tulsa Airport Authority.
The pre-primary report has the names and amounts of contributors prior to Feb. 25. Looking at that again, I noticed the large carryover amount -- $5,226 -- on David Patrick's pre-primary report, money that he had accumulated in an earlier reporting period. The report for that earlier period should be on file, and it would be interesting to know who those earlier contributors were. It's a clever way of downplaying contributors that you don't want publicized. The daily paper typically only reports on pre-election ethics reports; post-election and quarterly reports are ignored. Candidates are sometimes sloppy about filing those other reports because they know the paper isn't paying attention. That's a gap that alternative media sources need to fill.
On Sunday, former TV news reporter and anchor Karen Keith announced her campaign for Tulsa County District 2 Commissioner, a seat held since 2002 by Randi Miller.
My desire to see Randi Miller replaced is no secret. While I've applauded her efforts to return the jail to the control of the sheriff's office and her support for County Assessor Ken Yazel's budget and financial reforms, she's been a disaster on sales tax issues, on the Bixby Bridge issue, and on the management of the fairgrounds. She was even willing to lend her name to the effort to dilute democracy by adding at-large councilors to the City Council. On the City Council she had been a fiscal conservative, publicly opposing "It's Tulsa's Time," the 2000 effort to pass an arena sales tax. But since joining the County Commission, Miller has given no resistance to efforts to expand the size and scope of county government. She was even willing to jump into the Arkansas River for a photo op in support of the plan to flood the west bank and build islands in the middle of the river, something that would have cost taxpayers $600 million.
I was called a few days before the announcement by someone who, like me, publicly opposed last October's proposed Tulsa County river sales tax. This person asked if I would be willing to meet and talk about possibly supporting Karen.
I've known Karen for almost 27 years, and I like her. Way back in May 1981, I did my high school's required internship month at KGCT 41, a short-lived attempt at news/talk TV, with studios in the Lerner Shops building, on the Main Mall north of 5th St. I went along with Karen on a couple of stories, and I enjoyed getting to know her.
In 1991, we met up again when she was head of the Brookside Business Association, which was the initial focal point of the effort to stop the 39th & Peoria Albertson's. (The neighborhood was protesting the loss of street-fronting retail to a parking lot and a major commercial incursion into the residential area. That effort spawned the Brookside Neighborhood Association; I was a member of the initial board.)
In 2001, Karen was one of the founders of TulsaNow, an organization that I joined shortly after it got off the ground. Like the other founders, Karen's main focus was, in the wake of two straight defeats for arena sales taxes, to get something passed. (Many of us were more interested in land use and planning issues, which became one of the main focuses of the organization after the passage of Vision 2025.) During the Vision 2025 campaign in 2003, former County Assessor Jack Gordon and I debated Karen on a couple of occasions. More recently, she worked for the Chamber of Commerce during the recent Tulsa County river sales tax vote.
My ideal candidate for County Commissioner would refocus the county on handling the county's responsibilities, instead of trying to turn the county into a kind of metro government. Leave the business of municipal government to the municipalities, and leave them with the sales tax that municipal government depends upon. I live in District 2, and there is a necessary (although not sufficient) condition for my support: A candidate must commit to ending the Four to Fix the County and Vision 2025 sales taxes as soon as all the projects are paid for (including the Vision 2025 low-water dams) and not seeking to renew either of them or to enact a new sales tax.
From the quotes in the daily paper's story about Karen Keith's announcement, I don't think she passes the test.
"I really would like to see us bring back the cohesiveness that we had before, during Vision 2025, with the surrounding areas," she said.
"Things have gotten a little fractured, and I would like to be a part of bringing everybody back together."
A unified front is exactly what's needed to deal with the state Legislature, she said.
"Pushing as a unified body with our Legislature to seek other sources of funding (would) make some pretty dramatic changes in how that's done," Keith said.
She chose to run for a county office because of its potential to be a "big-picture position."
"Its scope is very different from the city," she said.
Driving down 15th St. today, I passed the little sandstone-sided house at 15th and Trenton and noticed a sign in front that said "Karen Keith / County Commissioner." It was a very fancy sign, the sort that would go on a lawyer's office with the intent of staying there for decades, not something you'd put on a temporary campaign headquarters. It appeared to be enamel on stainless steel. A wavy green line appeared on the sign, part of her logo, I guess.
Maybe I'm reading too much into a sign, but it tells me that Karen Keith's campaign has plenty of money to spend, that she's financed by people with deep pockets, and that passing a river tax will be one of her priorities as County Commissioner.
I like Karen Keith as a person, but I hope someone else steps forward to run against Randi Miller.
Here's the audio for the event. (Flash plugin required):
(You do need to have the Shockwave Flash plugin installed in order for the player to work. If you'd prefer to download the 7 MB MP3 file, here's a direct link: Tulsa City Council District 4 candidate forum, Maria Barnes and Eric Gomez, sponsored by Pearl District Association.)
Here is the text of Maria Barnes's NCD "mythbusters" handout, which I mention in the story.
Also, in this issue of UTW:
- Maria Barnes makes her pitch for re-election
- Katherine Kelly, in the cover story, surveys Tulsa's fine Asian dining options
- Brian Ervin spotlights the T-Town Trolley, a free transportation service linking entertainment venues in the Blue Dome District, 18th & Boston, Cherry Street, and Brookside, sponsored by Urban Tulsa Weekly
- Brian Ervin also has a very balanced piece on the controversy over State Rep. Sally Kern's opinion that the "homosexual agenda" is "the biggest threat our nation has." Ervin had Kern elaborate on her remarks and got reaction from Chuck Wolfe, president of the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund. (Wolfe says there is no "homosexual agenda," but then what defines "gay and lesbian victory" if not some sort of agenda?)
- Movie reviewer Cory Cheney walked out of a movie for only the second time in his career. Find out which one and why.
Charles G. Hill, who lives in an Urban Conservation District in Oklahoma City (very similar to Tulsa's proposed NCDs), explains the aims and impact of such a designation.
My column two weeks ago was about the specifics of the draft Neighborhood Conservation District ordinance for Tulsa.
The February column linked in this entry dealt with the theoretical rationale behind NCDs and the political aspects of the development industry's opposition.
Here is the draft Neighborhood Conservation District enabling ordinance (45 KB PDF) and here is the report on NCDs by Council policy administrator Jack Blair (1.5 MB PDF).
This entry links to my conversation about NCDs on Darryl Baskin's real estate radio show.
Here's an earlier blog entry that links to my November 2007 column on NCDs and has many links on the topics of teardowns, McMansions, and neighborhood conservation.
(You do need to have the Shockwave Flash plugin installed in order for the player to work. If you'd prefer to download the 7 MB MP3 file, here's a direct link: Tulsa City Council District 4 candidate forum, Maria Barnes and Eric Gomez, sponsored by Pearl District Association.)
At some point, I may have time to post a summary of the discussion. In the meantime, please share your impressions, whether you were one of the 30 in attendance or just listened to the audio, in the comments below.
Candidates for the District 4 seat on the Tulsa City Council will face off tonight (Tuesday, March 11) in a forum sponsored by the Pearl District Association. The event runs from 6 p.m. to 7:15 p.m., at the Central Center (aka "The Boathouse") in Central Park, on the south side of 6th Street, west of Peoria. Councilor Maria Barnes and challenger Eric Gomez will answer written questions from the audience.
I would expect quite a few questions related to zoning and land use planning. The Pearl District is seeking to be a pilot area for form-based codes -- a kind of land use regulation that focuses on the form of the building rather than the use its being put to. Neighborhood Conservation District zoning is another topic that is sure to come up; it works within traditional zoning to seek consistency of building form in a neighborhood within broad criteria.
I've heard that a number of opponents of NCDs plan to be present to make some noise. I hope supporters of the idea will be there as well to show their support for planning that accommodates new development while preserving the character of our midtown neighborhoods.
Sorry for the late notice, but I only just learned about it myself.
UPDATE: It was very informative. Most of the questions, submitted by the audience, were advanced-level questions on land-use planning and zoning. The candidates had plenty of time to give thoughtful answers, and Jamie Jamieson, the moderator, did a good job of adding context to the questions where appropriate. I will post audio here sometime tomorrow morning.
As Winston Churchill said, "Nothing in life is so exhilarating as to be shot at without result."
I imagine Tulsa City Councilor Jack Henderson is feeling quite exhilarated tonight, as he has survived a very well-financed challenge, winning a third term with over 55% of the vote in District 1. All the candidates who filed for the office were Democrats, so Henderson is back in.
It's another defeat for the Tulsa Whirled editorial board, which endorsed Midtown-financed River Tax backer Emanuel Lewis.
Among other things, this means that we now know that at least four of the nine councilors will be familiar faces. Councilors Rick Westcott, John Eagleton, and Bill Martinson did not draw an opponent.
District 4 could be a very competitive race. Incumbent Democrat Maria Barnes won renomination handily, with 75%, and 2004 Republican nominee Eric Gomez received 65% of the vote. Although the district leans Democrat, and the incumbent will have an advantage, Gomez nearly beat incumbent Tom Baker four years ago.
In District 9, Phil Kates, who was unopposed for the Democratic nomination two years ago won today over Roger Lowry. Kates will face Republican nominee G. T. Bynum and independent candidate Paul Tay on April 1. District 9 is one of three districts (5 and 7 are the other two) that has never elected a Democratic councilor.
(Districts 1 and 3 have never elected Republicans, although District 3 councilor Darrell Gilbert was a Republican when he was appointed to fill the unexpired term of Mike Patrick. Gilbert changed parties, was defeated for re-election by David Patrick, then ran successfully for State House District 72.)
In two of the primaries there were three candidates, which meant there was a chance that someone could win without a majority since Tulsa city elections don't have runoffs, but that didn't happen.
Turnout was highest in the most competitive race -- 2,600 voters in District 1. The Democratic and Republican District 4 races brought out about 981 and 790 voters, respectively. Only 330 Democrats turned out in District 9. An aggressive and well-organized campaign -- I'm thinking of Anna Falling's 1998 run -- could have easily changed the outcomes.
This week in Urban Tulsa Weekly, a preview of Tuesday's Tulsa City Council primary election and a look down the turnpike at Oklahoma City's vote on "MAPS for Millionaires" -- the 15-month, one-cent sales tax to upgrade the five-year-old Ford Center for an NBA team. There's also a brief tribute to the late, longtime District 2 City Councilor Darla Hall, and a plug for Saturday night's Bob Wills' Birthday celebration at Cain's Ballroom.
On the MAPSforMillionaires.org website, there's a scan of a "vote yes" mailer featuring a photo and a quote from former Mayor Kirk Humphreys. He's using religion to sell this NBA tax:
This vote on March 4th is about so much more than one building or one basketball team. It's about doing the right thing for our city -- creating the environment where we can grow together as families. But it's also about having a facility where we can come together as a community, for events like Women of Faith, Promise Keepers and others, and reach people in profound ways to promote our values as a city.
Of course, there's already a facility capable of hosting Women of Faith, Promise Keepers, and even Billy Graham -- the Ford Center. Those events have already been hosted there. It's hard to understand how new locker rooms, NBA team offices, and a separate NBA practice facility miles away will make the arena more conducive to mass Christian conferences and rallies. Shame on Kirk Humphreys.
While Oklahoma City prepares to dole out more corporate welfare, a Tulsa area legislator is trying to curb the practice. UTW's Brian Ervin reports that State Sen. Mike Mazzei, a Republican, wants to sunset the large number of special tax credits which are targeted to favored businesses. The bill, SB 2024, would ensure that the tax credits are scrutinized on a regular basis. Mazzei says combined they amount to $1 billion a year in lost revenue. The state's total budget is only $7 billion. Mazzei notes that all these tax incentives for economic development haven't amounted to much in the way of good jobs for Oklahomans.
The story also reports an example of unintended consequences in tax credits:
Investors managed to discover some loopholes in two tax credit programs, enabling them to fleece the state of Oklahoma for as much as $66 million in 2005, according to estimates by the Oklahoma Tax Commission.
State officials noticed a steep and sudden increase in requests for certain tax credits that year, prompting lawmakers to look into the matter to discover what Gov. Brad Henry later called "an accounting shell game."
The tax credits in question were designed to encourage investment in Oklahoma, but crafty investors discovered they could make instant profits of 100 to 500 percent by claiming the tax credits on borrowed money.
State Treasurer Scott Meacham outlined a scenario to illustrate the problem: investors could put up $10 million of their own money for a project, and then borrow another $115 million. They could then apply for a 30 percent tax credit (if the project is in a rural area, while urban projects' have a 20 percent tax credit) for the $125 million and get $37.5 million from the state: which is a 375 percent profit at taxpayers' expense.
It is and was illegal to use borrowed money to fund business ventures, but the investors were able to get around that law by creating layers of limited liability companies with the same board of directors, so no actual laws were broken, so no one was prosecuted.
Thank you, Sen. Mike Mazzei. Expect to see him take some arrows from those who have been on the corporate welfare dole from years.
Here is a summary of the pre-primary Form C-1 ethics reports filed with the Tulsa City Clerk's office by 5 p.m. today, the deadline for the pre-primary filing for next Tuesday's Tulsa City Council races:
DISTRICT 1 DEMOCRAT:
Jack R. Henderson:
Carryover = $7,029.69
Contributions = $2,879.00
Expenditures = $2,532.38
Total of contributions over $200 = $1,000.00
Total of contributions $200 or less = $1,879.00
$1,000 - Kevin Anderson
Carryover = $0
Contributions = $14,600.00
Expenditures = $3,176.55
Total of contributions over $200 = $13,500.00
Total of contributions $200 or less = $1,100.00
$2,500 - Robert Coretz, Steven & Karen Mitchell
$2,000 - Joseph and Kath Craft
$1,000 - Daniel Zeligson, Melinda Dandridge, Bobby Woodard, Daniel Ellinor, Emmet Richards
$500 - Emanuel & Regina Lewis, Henry G. Kleemeier Trust, Deacon & Piper Deacon
DISTRICT 3 DEMOCRAT:
Carryover = $103.00
Contributions = $6,610.00
Expenditures = $1,979.13
Total of contributions over $200 = $4,050.00
Total of contributions $200 or less = $2,560.00
$1,000 - Greg Wolter, Joan Anderson
$500 - CWA COPE PAC, Jorge Prats,
$300 - Elmer Hemphill
$250 - George Krumme, Pam Cox, Frank Henke
DISTRICT 3 INDEPENDENT:
Carryover = $5,226.03
Contributions = $5,950.00
Expenditures = $2,398.23
Total of contributions over $200 = $2,150.00
Total of contributions $200 or less = $3,800.00
$500 - Joe Westervelt, David White
$400 - Ruth Kaiser Nelson
$250 - Jim Norton, John Brock, Kay Payer
DISTRICT 4 DEMOCRAT:
Carryover = $2,698.08
Contributions = $16,283.63
Expenditures = $4,646.08
Total of contributions over $200 = $11,664.63
Total of contributions $200 or less = $4,619.00
$1,464.63 - Kathryn L. Taylor (including $464.63 in-kind donation)
$1,000 - David Johnson, George W. & Edwynne F. Krumme, Burt B. Holmes, David C. White
$500 - George B. Kaiser, James R. & Lisa Mace Perrault, Henry Zarrow, Just Progress PAC
$300 - Harry W. Allison
$250 - Bruce R. or Brenda R. Magoon, Larry or Sandy Mocha, Peter M. Walter, Michael P. or Elizabeth M. Johnson, Gloria McFarland, Gail Z. Richards, James G. East & Kim Holland, P. Vincent or Sally S. Lovoi, Ruth K. Nelson Revocable Trust, Bruce G. or Nancy Bolzle
$200 - Mr. or Mrs. Jack Zarrow, Rober Justin & Kimberly Norman, Julius M. or Joy Bankoff, William J. Doyle, III, Bobby F. or Beverly H. Latimer, Eugene & Frances Pace, Thomas J. or Donna L. Snyder
John L. Nidiffer:
Carryover = $0
Contributions = $5,100.00
Expenditures = $3,159.78
Total of contributions over $200 = $5,000
Total of contributions $200 or less = $100
$5,000 - John L. Nidiffer
DISTRICT 4 REPUBLICAN:
Jason Eric Gomez:
Carryover = $0
Contributions = $1,150.00
Expenditures = $0.00
Total of contributions over $200 = $1,000
Total of contributions $200 or less = $150
$1,000 - William Jackson
Carryover = $0
Contributions = $958.08
Expenditures = $313.09
Total of contributions over $200 = $900.00
Total of contributions $200 or less = $58.08
$900 - Jay Matlock
DISTRICT 6 DEMOCRAT:
Dennis K. Troyer:
Carryover = $1,822.57
Contributions = $4,760.00
Expenditures = $2,642.15
Total of contributions over $200 = $3,250
Total of contributions $200 or less = $1,510
$1000 - T/D Thompson, P. Guest
$500 - J & M Bumgarner, C. Bennett
$250 - C. R. Keithline
DISTRICT 6 REPUBLICAN:
Carryover = $0
Contributions = $350.00
Expenditures = $95.00
Total of contributions over $200 = $0
Total of contributions $200 or less = $350
DISTRICT 9 REPUBLICAN:
G. T. Bynum:
Carryover = $0
Contributions = $45,283.28
Expenditures = $9,643.09
Total of contributions over $200 = $43,798.28
Total of contributions $200 or less = $1,485.00
[Bynum's contributor list reads like a Who's Who of Tulsa. I will add it here later.]
Notes and analysis:
Keep in mind that the reporting period ended on February 18, so any contributions and expenditures in the week since then won't necessarily be shown on these reports. Some reports may be missing because the candidate did not raise or spend more than $500 before the end of the reporting period.
Once again, District 9 attracts the most money. Bynum's war chest to date is comparable to that of Cason Carter and Jeff Stava two years ago.
Note also how well financed Emanuel Lewis is. Among donors who gave more than $200, only two of them have addresses in Council District 1 -- himself and $1,000 donor Bobby Woodard. But Woodard's address, 3606 N. Cincinnati, does not appear to be a residence. The rest of his $201+ donors live in 74114, 74105, 74120, (all midtown), 74136 (south Tulsa), and 74012 (Broken Arrow). So at least $12,000 of $13,500 of Lewis's major contributions, and at least $12,000 of $14,600 total contributions (82%), are from outside District 1.
Candidates for the two midtown Tulsa City Council Districts, 4 and 9, will present their views on neighborhood issues tonight, Feb. 25th, at 7:00 p.m., at All Souls Unitarian Church, 30th & Peoria. Doors open at 6:30. I expect you'll hear a number of questions about infill and zoning issues, such as neighborhood conservation districts and teardowns.
For nearly ten years, I've been urging Tulsa to enact a neighborhood conservation district ordinance. Sometimes they're called urban conservation districts or some other name, but these zoning districts are aimed at ensuring that new development in an established neighborhood is compatible with existing development. Unlike a historic preservation district, a conservation district doesn't require exterior features to reflect a particular style or era. Instead, conservation districts focus on issues like size, setbacks, height, and location of parking. Oklahoma City has had conservation districts since the early '80s, and the practice was expanded to cover areas like Bricktown and near-downtown mixed-use districts in the late '90s.
Conservation districts can also be used in unique areas of the city that need special protection -- for example, Tulsa ought to have design guidelines for development along the Arkansas River, so we don't wind up with more convenience stores that turn their backs to the river.
Conservation districts were discussed by Mayor Susan Savage's Infill Development Task Force, but she flinched at implementation. The idea has been slowly gaining momentum in the intervening years, particularly as the composition of the City Council has become more neighborhood-friendly and as more neighborhood associations realize that our current zoning laws do little to protect the essential qualities of their neighborhoods.
Monday night, Tulsa City Councilor Maria Barnes, who represents an area that could greatly benefit from conservation districts, is hosting a neighborhood leader meeting on the topic on Monday, January 28. It will be held at the Central Community Center in Centennial Park, 1028 E. 6th, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. TMAPC member and Yorktown neighborhood resident Michelle Cantrell, Susan McKee from the Coalition of Historic Neighborhoods, and Steve Novick of Preserve Midtown will be among the speakers. It's a good opportunity to learn about how the concept is used in other cities and how it might be applied in Tulsa.
Speaking of Councilor Barnes, I want to take this opportunity to address a strange rumor being floated around town. Someone is claiming that I am running her re-election campaign. (And they're saying it as if it would be a black mark on her!)
I am not running anyone's campaign. I don't have the time or the organizational skills to run anyone's campaign. Last time around I volunteered my time to help friends like Rick Westcott, Jim Mautino, John Eagleton, and Chris Medlock who were running for city office. Westcott and Eagleton were re-elected without opposition and Mautino and Medlock are retired from politics, so none of them need my help this time out.
Maria Barnes is a friend of mine, too. We became acquainted through the Midtown Coalition of Neighborhood Associations, and for many years we served together as officers. I was proud to have her endorsement when I ran for City Council in 2002. I was happy to endorse her in her Democratic primary race against Jack Wing in 2006.
Just a handful of Tulsa's city councilors were first neighborhood activists and leaders. Terry Doverspike, Roscoe Turner, Jim Mautino, and Maria Barnes are the only names that come to mind. These are people who came into office having already dealt with code enforcement, INCOG, the Board of Adjustment, the TMAPC, and other city departments. I haven't always agreed with those councilors, but on the whole, I think it's a good thing to have that kind of experience and perspective on the City Council.
I'm happy to have a number of friends on the City Council and proud to count Maria Barnes in that number. I've spoken to her a couple of times on the phone recently, and I've also spoken to a couple of her opponents. I'm happy to talk to anyone running for city office who wants to pick my brain about city issues. But I'm not running Maria's campaign or anyone else's.
MORE: Here's a collection of links to past BatesLine and Urban Tulsa Weekly items about conservation districts. (The legislative bills mentioned would have damaged a city's ability to enact and enforce historic preservation districts and neighborhood conservation districts.)
November 2003: Hiding the agenda
December 2003: Even McDonald's can blend in
January 2004: Tom Baker: A bureaucrat to the core
January 2005: The video game test
January 2005: Historic non-preservation
July 2004: Whirled calls demolitions "improvements"
July 2005: Not so Safeway
February 2006: UrbanTulsa.com - 2006 City Council Questionnaire
April 2006: Mayoral responses to the Urban Tulsa Weekly questionnaire
May 2006: SB 1324 is still lurking
May 2006: UrbanTulsa.com - An Eye on City Hall
May 2006: Citizens' Commission starts winding down; SB 1324 update
May 2006: SB 1324, HB 2559, Susan Neal, and non-partisan elections
January 2007: Neal down and prey
October 2007: October 16th forum on neighborhood conservation and teardowns
November 2007: Conserving Midtown neighborhoods
Congratulations to City Auditor Phil Wood and City Councilors Rick Westcott, Bill Martinson, and John Eagleton on their re-election. Filing for city office has closed and no opponents filed in those races.
There will be four primaries in three districts -- Democrats in Districts 1, 4, and 8, and Republicans in District 4. The winner of the District 1 primary will be elected. There will be five general elections -- Districts 3, 4, 6, 8, and 9. For your reference, here's a handy-dandy printable tournament bracket in PDF format (73 KB).
3622 South Yorktown Place
Tulsa, OK 74105
COUNCILOR, ELECTION DISTRICT ONE (1)
Jack Ross Henderson
2014 N Rosedale
Tulsa, OK 74127
Emanuel Bernard Lewis
527 East Seminole Street
Tulsa, OK 74106
2455 N. Boston Ave.
Tulsa, OK 74106
COUNCILOR, ELECTION DISTRICT TWO (2)
Rick Dalton Westcott
2508 W 68 Pl
Tulsa, OK 74136
COUNCILOR, ELECTION DISTRICT THREE (3)
Roscoe Harry Turner Sr.
3415 E Haskell St
Tulsa, OK 74115
David Edward Patrick
5712 E. Tecumseh
Tulsa, OK 74115
COUNCILOR, ELECTION DISTRICT FOUR (4)
Rocky R. Frisco
1332 S. Florence Place.
Tulsa, OK 74104
Maria Veliz Barnes
1319 S Terrace Dr
Amended 01/15/08 Tulsa, OK 74104
Jason Eric Gomez
2716 East 13th St
Tulsa, OK 74104
Jay M. Matlock
1124 S. Columbia Ave.
Tulsa, OK 74104
John Lee Nidiffer
4731 E. 22nd Pl.
Tulsa, OK 74114
COUNCILOR, ELECTION DISTRICT FIVE (5)
William Edward Martinson, Jr.
3521 S. Darlington Ave
Tulsa, OK 74135
COUNCILOR, ELECTION DISTRICT SIX (6)
Dennis K. Troyer
12811 E. 13th Place
Tulsa, OK 74128
Kevin Leroy Boggs
1127 S. 157th East Ave.
Tulsa, OK 74108
COUNCILOR, ELECTION DISTRICT SEVEN (7)
John M. Eagleton
5748 E. 62nd St.
Tulsa, OK 74136
COUNCILOR, ELECTION DISTRICT EIGHT (8)
William L. Christiansen
5106 E 86th Place
Tulsa, OK 74137
10081 S. Sheridan Rd. #817
Tulsa, OK 74133
COUNCILOR, ELECTION DISTRICT NINE (9)
G. T. Bynum
3607 S. Florence Avenue
Tulsa, OK 74105
4004 S Toledo
Tulsa, OK 74135
Philip Morgan Kates
4604 E 32nd ST
Tulsa, OK 74135
4623 S St Louis Ave
Tulsa, OK 74105