Tulsa::Recall2004 Category

On May 29, 1936, Winston Churchill, conservative backbencher, spoke in a debate about British preparedness for the coming air war (emphasis added):

Churchill_portrait_NYP_45063_235px.jpgMy right hon. Friend said the other day that you must not cry over spilt milk, and he said it to-day in other words, as to recriminating about the past, and so forth. I will tell the House the use of recriminating about the past. It is to enforce effective action at the present. It is no use recriminating about the past simply for the purpose of censuring and punishing neglect and culpability, though that, indeed, may at times become the duty of Parliament. But there is great necessity for recriminating about the actions of the past and the neglects of the past when one is not satisfied that all is being done at the present time. That is the justification for it.

THE MODERN CONTEXT: Peter Oborne and Frances Weaver, writing in the Spectator about the vindication of Eurosceptics regarding the single European currency (emphasis added):

Very rarely in political history has any faction or movement enjoyed such a complete and crushing victory as the Conservative Eurosceptics. The field is theirs. They were not merely right about the single currency, the greatest economic issue of our age -- they were right for the right reasons. They foresaw with lucid, prophetic accuracy exactly how and why the euro would bring with it financial devastation and social collapse....

Speaking in the House of Commons in 1936, Winston Churchill -- then himself a marginal and widely scorned figure -- uttered the following words: 'the use of recriminating about the past is to enforce effective action at the present'. So what are the lessons we should learn from the British argument over the euro?

First, we should cherish that very British trait, eccentricity. Study of the public discourse at the height of the euro debate shows how often pro-euro propagandists isolated their critics by labelling them cranks. Here's just one example, taken from the Observer columnist Andrew Rawnsley's column on 31 January 1999: 'On the pro-euro side, a grand coalition of business, the unions and the substantial, sane, front rank political figures. On the other side, a menagerie of has-beens, never-have-beens and loony tunes.'

Most of Mr Rawnsley's 'substantial, sane, front-rank political figures' came together 12 years ago at the launch of the Britain in Europe campaign to take us into the euro -- Tony Blair, Peter Mandelson, Michael Heseltine, Ken Clarke, Charles Kennedy, Danny Alexander. So here's another lesson: be wary of cross-party alliances. Again and again it is the lonely and cussed figures who stand outside the establishment orthodoxy who are vindicated over time.

There's a good bit too about how certain self-interested large corporations co-opted the Confederation of British Industry to support European monetary union. One suspects the same thing is happening any time a Chamber of Commerce backs higher taxes, illegal immigration, or greater regulation.

Just as bad was the CBI, whose claims to represent British industry as a whole have always been dubious at best. By the mid-1990s a small clique of large corporations were firmly in control, and they had the director general they wanted in the shape of the impeccably well connected Adair (now Lord) Turner, later to become chairman of the disastrous Financial Services Authority and chairman of the Government's Committee on Climate Change. Few pieces of conventional wisdom are ever too conventional for Lord Turner. His corporate bosses (Niall FitzGerald of Unilever, David Simon of BP, British Airways' Colin Marshall) claimed that an overwhelming majority of British businessmen backed the single currency -- a vital propaganda tool for pro-euro campaigners. The figures used to support these claims were, however, very flimsy indeed: they could only be sustained by ignoring the views of small businessmen, and in due course they were exposed -- a crucial early defeat for the pro-euro cause.

Linking to the Spectator piece, David Abbott of Brits at Their Best asks, "So what should we learn from the argument over the euro?":

"The cranks", the "loons", small business people and honest people were right. Joining the euro would have been a catastrophe for Britain.

Big business, big politicians, big crooks and the big BBC were wrong.

But make no mistake, they will try to make the same mistake again because it's lucrative, and they will try to drag the British people with them.

AN OPPOSING VOICE: The Laird of Swamp Castle opposes recriminating and bickering about the past:

Five years ago tonight, on July 12, 2005, I was at The Embers, a wonderful steakhouse at 81st and Harvard (now gone, sadly), celebrating the overwhelming defeat of the attempt to recall two Tulsa City Councilors, Jim Mautino and Chris Medlock. The recall effort dominated the local political scene for over a year, a battle that pitted the traditional Money Belt rulers of Tulsa and the suburban development industry against a group of five councilors from the neglected periphery of the city who were working for open and responsive city government which would put the needs of Tulsa residents and the city's own development and fiscal health first.

Supporters of Mautino and Medlock had to overcome the substantial financial advantage of the pro-recall forces, whose supporters included the ownership of the daily paper. The old guard still had the backing of a once-dominant morning host in his waning days; the anti-recall forces were boosted by the new morning talk champion, who rallied listeners to "stand up for what's right," to show up at council meetings and rallies and to go door-to-door to defeat the recall.

The defeated establishment forces regrouped, formed Tulsans for Better Government, and began circulating a petition to change the composition of the council, turning nine districts into six and adding three seats elected citywide. That effort was rebuffed by the Citizens' Commission for City Government, and prospective mayoral candidates like Randi Miller, Kathy Taylor, and Dewey Bartlett Jr were anxious to disassociate themselves from the unpopular plan.

But now the at-large idea is back, with Bartlett Jr making sympathetic noises about electing the entire council citywide and the Keating Twins (former governor Frank and his brother Dan) on KFAQ Monday morning promoting at-large councilors.

(I'm not sure why Frank Keating is involving himself in Tulsa politics. Although he is still registered to vote here, as far as I can tell he hasn't actually lived here -- in the sense that most people talk about their primary place of residence -- since Tom Foley was Speaker of the U. S. House. His voter registration record lists a condo owned by his mother-in-law as his residence, and the Governor's Mansion in Oklahoma City as his mailing address, despite the fact that the Henry family has lived there since 2003. The Keatings own a home in McLean, Va., which he purchased in 2003. On Pat Campbell's show Monday morning, Frank Keating seemed to be advocating that the Tulsa Metro Chamber draft us a new city charter, which shows a very 1990s understanding of the power and role of the Chamber, which recently fought unsuccessfully just to get a special mention in Tulsa's new comprehensive plan.)

Today as five years ago a lot of fingers, particularly those belonging to Tulsa's fading establishment, are pointing at the City Council as the source of all the contention at City Hall. If only they could be muzzled or restrained, the thinking goes, the Mayor could really get things done.

But it's that very mode of thinking that is the real hindrance to cooperation at City Hall. The nine elected representatives of the people of Tulsa have never been treated as partners by this mayor or any of his predecessors, going back at least as far as Susan Savage. Councilors were either to be manipulated, given pork barrel in exchange for faithful service as the mayor's rubber stamp, or bulldozed, with the assistance of the establishment's media outlets.

In the past, the mayor could count on a few loyal supporters on the council to help her undermine her opponents on the council. That is no longer the case. Whatever their differences on specific issues, the nine councilors have developed an institutional self-respect that was once lacking. They are united in insisting that the mayor respect the council's role under the charter as a co-equal branch of government, and they are right to do so. The assertiveness and solidarity of today's council owes much to the groundwork laid by the "Gang of Five" and their willingness to endure harsh, unending criticism.

The preeminent lesson of the failed 2005 recall attempt is that we must respect the verdict of the voters. They want checks and balances. They want independent-minded councilors, not rubber stamps.

Before we start messing with the form of government, how about we have a mayor who respects the council, seeks to understand their concerns, and works for solutions that earn their support?

MORE:

BatesLine archive on the Mautino and Medlock recall election.

BatesLine archive from July 2005.

GOP ISO banquet hall

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For as long as anyone can remember, the Tulsa County Republican Men's Club (TCRMC) held their monthly luncheons at The Fountains near 66th and Lewis. But earlier this year, the restaurant was closed for health code violations. The TCRMC had to find a new place in a hurry.

They wound up at the Radisson Hotel, which until recently was the Sheraton Tulsa, on 41st Street near Garnett Road. A week from Friday will be their third month meeting at the hotel.

However nice the facilities or the food, this is a spectacularly inappropriate place for Republicans to meet. The general manager of this hotel, Jon Davidson, was the chairman of Citizens for Responsible Government, the 2004-2005 effort to recall two Republican city councilors from office. Despite the change of affiliation from Sheraton to Radisson, the hotel still has the same ownership and management.

Although I have attended both TCRMC meetings at the Sheraton/Radisson, I have eaten elsewhere beforehand, because I don't want to reward Davidson for the damage he did to our city and our party. Until the TCRMC moves elsewhere, I won't buy lunch.

But the TCRMC can't move without options, so I'm asking for your help. If you know of a banquet hall that can seat about 200 people and offers a reasonably priced ($10 or under) lunch buffet and has a decent sound system, please drop me a line at blog at batesline dot com. Other Republican clubs may be interested in using the same facility.

And if you're a TCRMC member and it bugs you that we're patronizing an establishment run by the unrepentant head of the recall effort, you might want to let your club leaders know -- politely -- by e-mail or at the next meeting. (If you are a TCRMC member you've already got the e-mail address and don't need me to provide it.)

UPDATE: In rereading this, I didn't think I made it clear enough that I am not an officer in the TCRMC. I'm just a concerned member, and my aim in posting this is to learn about alternative meeting places that I can then recommend to the TCRMC leadership.

At-large councilors

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An edited version of this piece was published in the October 26, 2005, issue of Urban Tulsa Weekly. The archived version is no longer online. Posted on the web October 27, 2009.

It's been a tough couple of years for Tulsa's traditional political establishment. The bunch that for years has had control over city government - a group I call the Cockroach Caucus, after their aversion to the light of public scrutiny - saw their grip on public opinion beginning to slip.

Despairing of their long-term chances to regain full control of city government under the current rules, they've got a scheme to change the rules so that money will count for more than grass-roots support. The plan is to dilute geographic diversity on the Council and guarantee that big money will control at least a third of the city's legislative body.

Last Thursday, a group calling themselves "Tulsans for Better Government" filed an initiative petition to reduce the number of Tulsa City Council districts to 6 and to create three at-large "supercouncilor" seats.

The group is headed by Arthur H. "Chip" McElroy II, whose company played host to Bill LaFortune's re-election announcement. The three supercouncilors would be elected citywide to four-year terms, beginning in 2008, while the six district councilors would continue to serve two years at a time.

The idea has been pushed enthusiastically by the Tulsa World editorial board, distraught by their fading influence over city politics. (The World routinely waits three weeks before publishing a letter to the editor, so it's telling that the paper fast-tracked a Sunday "Readers' Forum" guest opinion in support of the campaign just two days after it was launched.)

After the 2004 elections, the Council had, for the first time ever, a majority of members that were elected contrary to the endorsements of the Tulsa World and the money of the developers' lobby. In four contested primaries and four contested general elections, reform-minded candidates received 59% of the vote to 41% for the World's endorsees.*

The empire struck back in May of this year, with Bill Martinson replacing Sam Roop in a special election. But Martinson won with only 29% of the vote, aided by the unusual structure of a special election. The result gave the anti-reform bunch an apparent majority in the short term, but they can't have been encouraged about the long-term prospects of maintaining control.

The results of July 12 had to have been a shock to the Cockroach Caucus. Despite a year-long barrage of criticism from the Tulsa World and now-retired radio host John Erling and a well-financed and relentlessly dirty campaign against Councilors Jim Mautino and Chris Medlock, the two survived a recall election by overwhelming percentages.

What has become apparent is that, in a district race, feet on the ground - enthusiastic volunteers willing to go door-to-door on behalf of a candidate - can beat money and a monopoly daily newspaper. With passionate grass-roots support, a candidate can get a message out to counter direct mail, robo-calls, and the potshots taken on the news and editorial pages of the World. Tulsa's Council districts each have a population of 43,000, still small enough to be reachable by grass-roots methods.

It really seems to frighten the Cockroach Caucus that there are four councilors who don't feel the need to grovel before them for campaign money. In the past, the occasional maverick would rise up and challenge business as usual at City Hall, but the old guard was always successful in isolating them and either defeating them or wearing them down into submission. Councilors Medlock, Mautino, Turner, and Henderson are all men of devout Christian faith. They are willing to risk their political careers to do what they believe is best for the city, and they are confident that in seeking what is right, they will have the support of their constituents. And they've stood by each other through thick and thin, thwarting the old divide-and-conquer strategy.

By making three of the council seats citywide, money comes back into the picture. TV and radio advertising come into play, and for that you need plenty of campaign cash. Grass-roots campaigns can succeed at that level - Tom Coburn and John Sullivan beat elite-supported candidates at the congressional district and state levels - but are much harder to pull off.

Not only would big money have the best shot at winning the three at-large seats, but the process of consolidating nine districts into six would allow the Cockroach Caucus to eliminate the incumbents they hate the most by throwing them into the same districts as other incumbents.

North Tulsa would go from two councilors to one, putting reform Councilors Roscoe Turner and Jack Henderson into the same district. West Tulsa's concerns would be drowned out under the plan - its population currently makes up half of District 2; under the new plan it would only be a third of a district.

Bigger districts are also easier to gerrymander, and with all the support for this effort coming from the Midtown "Money Belt" - that band of affluence stretching from Utica Square to Southern Hills - don't be surprised to see the new lines drawn so that nearly every district includes a Money Belt precinct. That's a time-honored technique used at the state legislative level to allow the affluent to represent working class citizens without having to actually (ick!) live among them. Diversity of representation, the reason we went to districts with the new charter in 1989, would disappear.

Supporters of at-large councilors make the bogus claim that "ward politics" are damaging the city. They say that district councilors are focused on the parochial concerns of their constituents at the expense of the best interests of the city as a whole. But if you look back at the most controversial issues of the last two years, they've been citywide issues. Great Plains Airlines and airport operations, creation of a city-focused economic development policy, oversight for funding to the Chamber of Commerce, fairness in the zoning process, north Tulsa County annexation, the water line to Owasso and the reappointment of two suburbs-focused members of the city's water board, the IVI toll bridge - in each case the councilors under attack by the World-led establishment have been seeking the City of Tulsa's best interests, in many cases where they conflicted with the interests of the suburbs.

Councilors Henderson, Mautino, Medlock, and Turner are each devoted to the needs of their own constituents, but they've also worked together to ensure that the citizens of the historically neglected east, west, and north sections of our city receive the city services they are owed.

And that seems to be what really bugs the bunch behind the at-large council proposal. It's the Money Belt denizens backing this plan that tend to take a parochial view, seeing Tulsa as a small, close-knit, fabulously wealthy town centered on Utica Square. Neighborhoods like West Highlands and Garden City, Rose Dew and Wagon Wheel, Sequoyah and Suburban Acres may as well be foreign countries to them.

We finally have a critical mass of councilors who believe that city government should serve all Tulsans, not just a favored few, and it is shaking up the cozy worldview of the old elite. The forces behind at-large council seats used their years in power to lead Tulsa to its current state of declining population, rising crime, and an economy still dangerously dependent on a few key industries.

The Cockroach Caucus has run this town for years, but it is out of ideas, out of energy, and very nearly out of power. The "Tulsans for Better Government" is the elite's final desperate attempt to keep city government in their grasp.

I feel certain that the people of Tulsa will tell them, "No thanks, the city belongs to all of us now, and we intend to keep it that way."

* NOTE: I've only counted elections where a Whirled endorsee faced a reformist opponent. The Democrat primary in District 3 and Republican primaries in District 7 and 8 decided the winners of those seats. Jack Henderson won a contested Democrat primary in District 1 and handily defeated token opposition in the general election. Districts 2, 4, 5, and 6 had seriously contested general elections. I've left out District 9 entirely - the general election pitted incumbent Republican Susan Neal against incarcerated Independent Paul Tay.

CFCG to focus on ABCs

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Citizens for Fair and Clean Government, the organization formed as a counter-recall movement targeting Mayor Bill LaFortune and the City Council's Cockroach Caucus -- Tom Baker, Bill Christiansen, Susan Neal, and Randy Sullivan -- has decided to drop the pursuit of a recall against those five officials and instead focus on reform of the authorities, boards, and commissions (ABCs) connected with the City of Tulsa and Tulsa County. meeciteewurkor has the CFCG press release.

This is a welcome development. A lot of power is in the hands of ABCs, and they don't get as much scrutiny as they deserve.

Build PAC Issues, which was the single biggest contributor to the Coalition for Responsible Government 2005, the group behind the recall of Tulsa City Councilors Jim Mautino and Chris Medlock, submitted its quarterly report to the City Clerk's office on Friday, July 29. We already knew that Robert E. Lorton, Jr., chairman and CEO of World Publishing Co., which owns the Tulsa Whirled, contributed $2,500. Word got out about that prior to the election and Lorton owned up to it.

As previously noted, Build PAC Issues appears to have been created as a way to exploit a loophole in the state's campaign ethics law for local government elections so that major donors could give without being exposed prior to the election. Who was trying to escape notice as a contributor?

Chris Medlock has a chart on his website noting some interesting connections among the donors to Build PAC Issues. (NOTE: The chart is done in Microsoft OneNote, which generates some standards-breaking, Microsoft-specific markup language, so you'll have to use Internet Explorer to see it clearly.)

You'll notice Kelsey Company as one of the $500 donors. Howard Kelsey is one of the partners in Infrastructure Ventures Inc., the company trying to build the Bixby toll bridge.

One of the $2,500 donors was C.R.E.A.T. That's the Commercial Real Estate Association of Tulsa, which was incorporated 10 years ago by Herb Haschke, treasurer of CfRG, and Lou Reynolds, the developer's attorney whose reappointment to the Tulsa Metropolitan Utility Authority last year was opposed by Medlock and Mautino, as well as Councilors Roscoe Turner and Jack Henderson. (By then-Councilor Sam Roop, too, for a time.)

Interesting to see homebuilder Ken Klein's name on the list. Klein built Bobby Lorton III's mansion across the street from Philbrook and renovated Councilor Susan Neal's house. Just before the 2002 city council primary for the open seat in District 9, Klein sent a last-minute e-mail falsely accusing candidate and neighborhood leader Bonnie Henke of being anti-growth and anti-development. Susan Neal went on to win that primary by a slender margin and with less than 40% of the vote. Klein, however, is reported to be claiming that he never intended to donate to Build PAC Issues, but instead intended to contribute to the candidate PAC as he does each year.

We're still trying to dig up info on more of these individual and corporate donors, but here's one more of interest: John Conine contributed $2,000. Conine joined the board of F&M Bank back in 2002. Board members of F&M, you'll recall, were major financial players in the 2004 city council elections.

Tulsa Chiggers

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I wrote a bunch of new stuff tonight, but I don't think any of it is ready for prime time yet.

In the meantime, I encourage you to check out a blog called Tulsa Chiggers. I found it a while back, but forgot to blogroll it, and only recently found it again. The author has an interest in charter schools and writes about some of the difficulties in dealing with the educational bureaucracy. Today he has a photo of pro-recall chief Jon Davidson, general manager of the Tulsa Sheraton Hotel, and wonders if Mr. Davidson is still smiling.

As a reminder, if you want to let Mr. Davidson's boss know how much you appreciate the hell he put this city through over the last year, all the info you need is linked from here.

Randy Sullivan's toast

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Before heading downtown to tonight's Tulsa City Council meeting, I popped a couple of slices of bread -- the heels of the loaf -- and brought them along. They smelled all warm and toasty, and it was hard not to eat them, but I didn't, because they weren't for me. The toast was for Councilor Randy Sullivan -- Randy Sullivan's toast.

Councilor Sullivan didn't show up at tonight's Council meeting, but that's OK. When you lose big, it's hard to show your face in public. Or perhaps he was embarrassed by his ecstatic utterance a week earlier.

(Completely random thought: Ever hear the saying, "Never take an even number of drugs"? If a depressant -- an antihistamine, perhaps -- makes you groggy and incoherent, taking a stimulant -- say, a big cup of black coffee -- won't make you alert and coherent. It will make you agitated and incoherent, as you delude yourself that everyone thinks you're alert and coherent. Something to keep in mind, especially if you're in the public eye.)

Really, Randy wasn't missed at the Council meeting. The people of District 7 certainly didn't notice a difference, since they haven't had representation on the City Council for quite some time.

Since he wasn't there, I ate his toast -- Randy Sullivan's toast.

Tulsa says "Ni!"

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Too late, I thought of the almost perfect song for the effort to defeat the recall against Councilors Chris Medlock and Jim Mautino. It would be perfect, if only all Tulsans spoke Ukrainian.

Разом нас багато Нас не подолати!

Together we are many
We cannot be defeated

Falsifications, no!
Machinations, no!
"Little understandings," no!
No to lies!

Yushchenko, Yushchenko, is our president!

We aren't beasts of burden.
We aren't goats.
We are of Ukraine
sons and daughters.
It's now or never.
Enough of waiting.
Together we are many
Together we cannot be defeated.

That was the theme song for Ukraine's Orange Revolution, which fought back successfully against a corrupt oligarchy and a fraudulent election.

Change Ukraine to Tulsa, change Yushchenko to Mautino and Medlock, and president to councilors, and it's a perfect fit.

Besides the corruption of the losing side, there's another common thread. I read that Ukraine's President Victor Yushchenko is a devout Christian, as is his prime minister, Yulia Timoshenko. It's been said that the one who fears God won't fear man. Yushchenko, Timoshenko, and their supporters suffered poisoning and imprisonment but their trust in God and their burden for honesty in government kept them going despite the threats.

If you want to know what keeps a bunch as diverse as Councilors Henderson, Turner, Mautino, and Medlock working together and determined to serve the interests of all Tulsans, despite the pressure and the threats, it's the belief that God brought them to the Council, and they are ultimately accountable to Him for what they do with this opportunity to serve the public. This enables them to risk political capital, even to risk their livelihoods, for the sake of doing what is right, rather than what is expedient. Because they fear and serve God, they can withstand the onslaught of the good ol' boy network.

Recall round-up

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I had hoped to squeeze in a few minutes here and there to gloat-blog, at least a little, or to post some more serious reflection on yesterday's victories, but today turned out to be a 12-hour-plus work day.

Here is a very quick round-up of comment on the recall elsewhere on the web. Maybe I'll be able to catch my breath tomorrow and add my voice to the mix.

Rick Westcott of Tulsans for Election Integrity is happy:

We, the People, won today! We, the People, beat the Good Ol' Boy network! We, the People, beat the big money interests!

Congratulations to YOU! And thank you!

MeeCiteeWurkor says "YAY!" and has his eye (here and here) on NewsChamber 8's coverage of the result, which is focused on the sad waste of money when precincts where no one will vote have to open anyway.

Steve Roemerman celebrates victory, and salutes KFAQ, the Tulsa Beacon, Councilors Turner and Henderson, and the everyday people who make up "a new community of Tulsa citizens who are standing up for what is right."

Charles G. Hill, the Charles Kuralt of the blogosphere (this week, anyway), writes, "In Tulsa, it's now Bloggers 2, Old World Order 0."

I've already linked to this, but it's too good not to link it again: Dan Paden risks a five-yard penalty for excessive celebration.

Dan Lovejoy is pleasantly surprised by the outcome and disappointed to learn that his bank, Arvest, was "right in the middle of the recall."

Bitweever has a good synopsis of what this recall thing was all about, and the rejection of recall gives him hope for Tulsa's future:

With victories for the councilors in both elections (one by an overwhelming margin), I believe the people of Tulsa stood up, and finally said ‘enough is enough.’ I will be looking forward to seeing how the next city government elections go, and seeing by how wide of margin we can eject Mayor LaFortune from office. ...

Tulsa was more vibrant in the late 90’s when I first moved here out of college, but I’ve seen more and more young former-coworkers move to greener pastures. Let’s be honest here, people: Tulsa’s not doing that well, and the city government is not helping at all. It’s time for some new blood in the government, and the rejection of the recall may be the dawning of a new hope for Tulsa.

(He also gives me way too much credit.)

MadOkie has a recycling idea for those FOR signs.

My cousin, "Mr. Fisher," who Will Blog for Guinness -- who wouldn't? -- says the victory was About (Tulsa) Time. Thanks for the kind words, Cuz!

I'll wrap this up with a reminder from Rick Westcott:

I also want to encourage you to stay informed, stay connected, and continue to help fight for what you believe is right. This was a great victory, but the fight isn't over. The good ol' boy network is not going to just go away. They'll continue to try to do what they've always done. But now, we know who they are. We know the way they operate. And we've proved that THE PEOPLE CAN WIN!!

End zone dance

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I'm really sorry I missed seeing Jim Mautino dance a jig in celebration of his massive landslide victory over the forces of evil. (And yes, they are evil. They proved it by the way they conducted their campaign.) But I enjoyed the verbal victory dance posted by Dan Paden over at No Blog of Significance, and you will, too.

A bouquet from OKC

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Thanks to Oklahoma City's Downtown Guy for the perceptive remarks both before and after the recall election. Go check 'em out for yourself.

And The Downtown Guy should be regular reading if you want to go beyond a surfacey understanding of Oklahoma City's recent successes, and get to the nuts and bolts of what is happening there.

If you don't live in the two districts that will be voting in Tuesday's recall elections, one of the best ways you can help is to take some time today to call your friends and acquaintances who live in those districts and encourage them to vote tomorrow against the recall. If you're not sure who among your friends lives in Districts 2 and 6, gather up any directories you have -- from church, school, civic clubs -- look up the people you know well, and check their addresses and zip codes against the boundaries of the two districts.

District 2 is easy to describe -- everything west of the river, plus the area bounded by 61st, Harvard, and the river. District 2 includes all or part of zip codes 74107, 74132, 74136, 74137, and 74171. Here's a map showing District 2's boundaries and precinct numbers.

District 6 is a little more complicated -- everything within the city limits east of Mingo between 36th Street North and 61st Street South, except for Mingo to Garnett from 11th to 41st. Zip codes that overlap with District 6 are 74108, 74116, 74128, 74129, 74134, and 74146. Here's a map showing District 6's boundaries and precinct numbers.

Don't assume that just because you know and understand the issues surrounding recall that everyone else you know does, too. There are a lot of good people in this city that still trust the information they get from the Tulsa Whirled.

Or perhaps they've been too busy with other things to pay close attention. They're aware of controversy at City Hall, and that people are saying bad things about these councilors, but that's about it.

A call from someone a voter knows and trusts saying, "Here's what's going on, and here's why its important that you get out and vote AGAINST the recall," will carry far more weight that a postcard in the mail.

Here's your action point: Think of 10 friends who live in either of the Council districts. Call each of them and encourage them to vote AGAINST recall, and encourage each of them to call 10 of their friends and do the same thing. It won't take you long at all, but it can make an immense difference today.

The deception continues

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An awful lot of "respectable" business people have soiled their hands by funding the deceptive phone calls put out by the pro-recall campaign, and here's hoping they'll be soiling themselves in another sense in about an hour's time.

The fake Richard Roberts phone call went out again this afternoon, despite Roberts communicating his displeasure at the misuse of his name to pro-recall leaders.

Yet another dirty trick: The pro-recall forces sent out a recorded message with a male voice claiming that the League of Women Voters has reconsidered its position and is now for the recall.

To rebut this fraud, League of Women Voters President Mary Jo Neal was on 1170 KFAQ this morning reaffirming the League's call to vote AGAINST recall. Her op/ed piece opposing recall finally appeared in Sunday's Tulsa Whirled, and it is on the League's website.

We've also heard that a call went out claiming to be from the City of Tulsa urging a vote for recall. The City wouldn't take an official position on a recall election.

The fact that the other side is resorting to lies reassures me that they know they are losing, and makes me hopeful that right will prevail, possibly by a wide margin. But in the unlikely event that one or both councilors are recalled, given the frauds being perpetrated by the pro-recall side, the surviving councilors would have a moral obligation to reappoint the recalled councilors to complete their terms of office.

God save our city

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This, a slightly modified version of the second verse of God Save the Queen, has been my prayer throughout this recall campaign. "Knavish tricks" is such an apt phrase.

O Lord our God arise,
Scatter [our] enemies,
And make them fall:
Confound their politics;
Frustrate their knavish tricks;
On thee our hopes we fix; God save us all.

Seems like my prayer is being answered.

Recall: Rally a success

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MeeCiteeWurkor has pictures of tonight's anti-recall rally at Helmerich Park which drew a great crowd and filled up all the parking, an especially good showing, since it was threatening to rain.

Because of work, and because of the breaking story about the pro-recall forces' misuse of audio of Richard Roberts, I couldn't get there until about 6:45, after the speechifying was over and people had begun to head home.

Here it comes: The Jim Burdge slimy election eve special.

The pro-recall people are so desperate that they have taken audio of Richard Roberts, President of Oral Roberts University, and edited it to make it sound like he's in favor of the recall, and that message is going out to District 2 voters. In fact, President Roberts has said publicly that recall is wrong.

UPDATE: I just got a phone call from a close associate of President Roberts, who has been in touch with him and confirms that the message does not represent his views nor was it sent with his authorization, and he's trying to find out who to contact to get this thing stopped immediately.

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Just about to head off to the Tulsans for Election Integrity rally against the recall at Helmerich Park, 73rd and Riverside. The festivities begin at 5:30 p.m. If you're out there and read BatesLine (and you'd have to be, wouldn't you?) I hope to get to meet you.

For you out of towners, sorry about all the recall stuff -- blame it on the Tulsa Whirled -- but it's the big story right now. If you want to read some interesting non-Tulsa stuff, be sure to check out the latest on Lance Salyers, the Ohio prosecutor who was fired because of his blog.

For you Tulsans, be sure to check out Dan Paden's latest blast at the Whirled.

The roots of this recall are in the results of the 2004 city election, when Tulsans for the first time elected a majority of reform-minded candidates to the City Council. For that reason, I want to direct you to entries I wrote at the time endorsing Chris Medlock and Jim Mautino, explaining the role of the City Council, and talking about the balance of power and the significance of the election:

I think Chris Medlock and Jim Mautino embody the qualities of a good Councilor, and the endorsements I made in 2004 are just as valid today.

Recall: Who is Ken Sellers?

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Much has been made of the fact that two major donors to the fight to defeat the recall have Broken Arrow addresses. The implication is that these names represents out-of-town special interests who will benefit financially if Councilors Medlock and Mautino remain in office.

Here's what I know about one of those major donors with a Broken Arrow address. Ken Sellers lives in Broken Arrow, but he is president of Gunnebo Johnson, a manufacturing company that is headquartered at 1240 N. Harvard Avenue in Tulsa. The company makes crane blocks -- as in block-and-tackle used in industry to lift very heavy things. Gunnebo Johnson appears to be at the top of its field internationally, but keeps a low profile in its hometown, despite bringing millions of dollars into the local economy. As far as I can tell, they do no business with the city and wouldn't stand to gain any special benefit from any decision of the city or its boards or commissions.

Ken Sellers hasn't just written a couple of big checks. He has been at every volunteer event in support of Councilors Medlock and Mautino, and today, in the near 100-degree heat, he was out walking neighborhoods on their behalf. Unlike the Sour Grapes Gang, he's not motivated by a decision that didn't go his way, or maneuvering to get special treatment from the city. There's not a trace of bitterness in him. He's impressed by the two councilors and wants to see them stay in office and continue what they're trying to do to make the city a better place.

I've enjoyed getting to know Ken during this campaign, and I'm impressed with his willingness not only to give his money, but his time as well for the sake of the city where his company makes its home.

Quiz question: Which Tulsa City Councilor uttered the above words into an open microphone last Thursday night?

I finally got to see part of Thursday night's Tulsa City Council meeting -- the debate and vote on a resolution directing the City Attorney to defend against any attempt by the county to use eminent domain to take city property for the construction of the Bixby Bridge.

Mayor Bill LaFortune was supposedly on board with the resolution, which was to have his name on it as a participant in the resolution. At the last minute, he decided to pull his name off of the resolution, but rather than face accountability for his decision, he sent Clay Bird, his deputy and chief of staff, to the Council to be his proxy fence straddler. Bird's voice and manner had a quality that will be familiar to any parent who has dealt with a kid who's been caught and is trying to talk his way out of trouble. Bird was sent down to the Council to say that the resolution had strong language that was in the best interest of the city, but the Mayor should have more time to look at it. Of course, the Mayor will have time to look at it now that the Council has passed it -- he has 14 days to decide whether to sign the resolution, making it the official policy of the City of Tulsa, or veto it. But that means making a decision that will offend someone.

During the course of his remarks, Bird stated that the Mayor favors the bridge if the necessary infrastructure improvements can be put in place first. That would mean taking resources away from infrastructure needs in other parts of Tulsa in order to grease the skids for this project. The Mayor's position also ignores the harm that the bridge would do to Tulsa's sales tax base by fueling development in Bixby. As with the Owasso water line, the City of Tulsa's dollars would be used to speed up development in the suburbs, rather than facilitating growth within the city limits. Will development happen in the suburbs anyway? Of course, but should Tulsa allocate its assets to support growth and development within the city limits or outside the city limits? The backers of the recall election certainly hope so.

Given the Mayor's readiness to support long-term cheap water contracts and new water lines for the suburbs and now a bridge to the suburbs, you have to wonder if there's truth to the conjecture that the Mayor traded support on these items for suburban support for a downtown Tulsa arena.

From Bird's comments, to those of Councilors Randy Sullivan and Susan Neal, it was apparent that the intent was to delay any vote on this until after the recall election, in hopes that two votes against the bridge would be gone and replaced with two votes for the bridge. It was interesting that the two councilors with the thinnest margins of victory -- Baker and Martinson -- were unexpectedly absent, perhaps so they wouldn't have to go on record as opposing the resolution and supporting the bridge. Roscoe Turner, who had been on vacation with his wife, made a surprise return and suddenly the resolution went from having four certain votes (Christiansen, Henderson, Mautino, Medlock) to five, enough to pass.

All the councilors supporting the resolution did a fine job in speaking and in questioning Bird, but Jack Henderson was especially good at getting right to the point.

Randy Sullivan voted to support the resolution, probably to give himself the chance to move to reconsider the motion at the meeting following the recall election. Sullivan barely uttered a single complete and coherent sentence during his comments. I can remember a time in college when I was exhausted, probably from staying up all night to finish a paper, but still kept an appointment to tutor a graduate student in calculus. I tried to bluff my way through the session but could barely keep my eyes open. I fooled myself into thinking I succeeded, but I must have sounded completely goofy. I thought of that as I watched and listened to Randy Sullivan. He was obviously impaired -- lack of sleep, surely -- but he was trying to hide the fact and no doubt felt he was succeeding.

Susan Neal tried to finesse by "abstaining", but Council Attorney Drew Rees reminded her that by state law, an abstention is effectively a "no" vote. She dropped the pretense and voted "no" on the emergency clause.

Now to answer the question at the beginning of this article: During the course of Council discussion, Chris Medlock spoke, and as he finished he said that if he went down in Tuesday's recall election, he would go down proudly knowing that he stood for the hundreds of citizens who had gathered in opposition to the bridge. As the audience responded with applause, Randy Sullivan said, "Biggest crock of s--- I've ever seen." On the video, you can see Susan Neal, who was presiding as vice chairman, gesture to Sullivan to remind him that his microphone was still live. Medlock's response to Sullivan: "Who's toast now?"

Earlier I reported on a letter mailed by former District 2 City Councilor Darla Hall (also a two-time loser to Chris Medlock) in which she says that she "deliberately stayed out of the recall effort," and says, "When I was supposedly going door to door for signatures on the recall, I was in Germany for cancer treatment." It's interesting that she doesn't deny circulating or distributing petitions, she just denies "leading the charge." According to an eyewitness, Hall handed out recall petitions in her Sunday School class and recruited people to circulate them.

Elsewhere in her letter, Hall claims that during her time on the City Council, no councilor was ever rude to speakers. The truth is that councilors like Vickie Cleveland, who served with Darla Hall, were rude to ordinary citizens who came to speak.

Chris Medlock and Jim Mautino, on the other hand, have never behaved rudely toward speakers. They have politely asked some questions that speakers would have preferred not to answer, which can be an uncomfortable experience, but that doesn't make the person asking the question rude.

If you want an example of a rude City Councilor -- but I'll save that for the next entry.

One of the best antidotes to the garbage being put out by the pro-recall forces is seeing Councilors Jim Mautino and Chris Medlock at a town hall meeting. D. Schuttler has posted video excerpts of Mautino's June 29th town hall meeting, and you can hear the councilor speak about encouraging growth and increasing retail sales within Tulsa's boundaries, and how water lines, annexation and fence lines, and comprehensive planning all fit together to help or hinder development within the city limits. Jim Mautino is passionate about encouraging quality development in east Tulsa, and that means making undeveloped areas within the city limits a higher priority for new infrastructure than the suburbs. See it for yourself. (Hat tip to HFFZ for the link.)

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Sorry for the lack of local news analysis today: I was busy yesterday engaged in local news, helping with the anti-recall effort, and then I had some yard work to catch up on, and it left me too tired to blog. (Click the link above to find out how you can help in the final days of the campaign.) More news later today, I hope.

The Coalition for Reprehensible Government 2004 has rehashed the Tulsa Tribunal -- tabloids that compared Councilors Jim Mautino and Chris Medlock to Nazis and the killers at Columbine High School. (See stories here, here, and here.) This time they're calling the paper the East Tulsa Times and the West Tulsa Times, and it's in color. This garbage, and the attack phone calls, ought to be pegging the B.S. meter of every voter in the two districts. MeeCiteeWurkor has comments and photos of the tabloid.

It's amazing to see the pro-recall bunch trotting out the losers from the last election to persuade people to vote to oust the winners. Steve Roemerman, who lives in District 6, received a recorded phone call from former Councilor Art Justis, the establishment's rubber stamp, who lost the 2004 council election to Jim Mautino. Justis is said to be in line to be appointed to his old job if the recall against Mautino succeeds.

Meanwhile, they've sent a letter from former Councilor Darla Hall to west Tulsa voters. Darla Hall lost two elections in a row to Chris Medlock, and she, too, may be in line to be appointed by the remaining Councilors to serve out the remainder of the term. Darla's letter is ugly, disingenuous, and misleading. It's amazing to think Darla Hall used to be on the side of ordinary Tulsans -- it's a shame to see her go over to the dark side.

Don't forget -- the fight to stop the recall can use your help any time between now and the election, but especially Saturday morning and Sunday afternoon. Even if you can only spare a couple of hours, it will make a difference. You'll find the details here.

There are a number of ways you can help defeat the recall of City Councilors Jim Mautino and Chris Medlock. The first is Saturday morning -- meet at Johnson Park, north of 61st on Madison Ave (just east of Riverside Drive), at 8:30 to get instructions and materials as we try to get the word out to the voters. There will also be opportunities on Sunday afternoon. For more details on how you can help between now and Tuesday, HFFZ has all the scoop.

Living on Tulsa Time has some great ideas for signs AGAINST the recall. It's too late for printed signs, but maybe some handpainted signs will make an appearance before Tuesday.

If you need motivation to participate, read Dan Paden's reaction to the list of pro-recall contributors.

This morning, the Whirled's editorial board attacked Chris Medlock for failing to file an ethics report by Tuesday's deadline. In the same edition, the Whirled quotes Medlock as saying his campaign committee (Medlock for Council) didn't file a report because it had not received any contributions or made any expenditures by the end of the reporting period on June 30, but he would voluntarily disclose his campaign committee's activity to date on Friday.

The same editorial pointed to the massive amount of money raised by the pro-recall campaign as a sign of virtue and insulted supporters of Councilor Mautino:

One thing is clear. Poor Jim Mautino's supporters are stingy. He had to borrow $1,200 of the total of $3,109.52 in contributions he reported.

Well, Whirledlings, most Tulsans -- the ordinary folks whose interests have been ably represented by Jim Mautino -- don't have a lot of disposable income to put into a political campaign. What wealth we do have is tied up in retirement accounts and our homes -- homes that lose value when we have city officials and city trusts that are more interested in developing and improving the suburbs than helping the City of Tulsa prosper.

Jim Mautino and Chris Medlock have worked to bring new business and new development into their districts, within the city limits, to the benefit of the city's coffers. Chris was instrumental in helping land the massive Tulsa Hills retail development at 71st Street and U. S. 75, in the Tulsa city limits, but strategically located to draw customers (and sales tax dollars) from Jenks, Glenpool, and Sapulpa. Jim has worked to get water and sewer extended to unserved areas in his district that have been in the city limits for nearly 40 years, and he's been working to encourage retail development along I-44 in east Tulsa, Oklahoma's most travelled stretch of road. Jim and Chris simply believe we should put Tulsa first.

The contributors to the pro-recall campaign are more interested in developing Owasso and Bixby. Greg Simmons, head of Build PAC Issues, owns Simmons Homes, which is developing seven subdivisions in Owasso, five in Broken Arrow, six in Jenks, and none at all in Tulsa. Where do you think his interests are?

Here's an indication of what's driving the Home Builders Association's involvement in recall. Last year, 2004 was a record year for housing starts in the Tulsa metro area. Yes, even though the Tulsa City Council was controlled by a majority falsely accused of being anti-growth, and despite continued challenges in the local economy, there were more new homes started last year than any year in history. But 88% of those new starts were outside the city limits of Tulsa. (See February's HBA newsletter, in PDF format.) A healthy City of Tulsa doesn't help the bottom line of home builders who are building in the suburbs. In fact, they'd rather see the City decline, because it encourages people to buy their new homes in the suburbs.

I'm happy for these businesses to pursue profits, but voters need to understand that when these businesses give money to oust two good men like Jim Mautino and Chris Medlock, it's all about their profits, not about the best interests of Tulsans.

You read it here first, but the Tulsa Whirled this morning acknowledged that the chairman and CEO of World Publishing Company, Robert E. Lorton, gave $2,500 to Build PAC Issues, which money was given directly to the Coalition for Reprehensible Government 2004, the committee supporting the recall of Tulsa City Councilors Jim Mautino and Chris Medlock. According to the Whirled story, the PAC registered with the City Clerk's office on June 16, and all the money it has raised so far has been contributed to CFRG. According to CFRG's ethics report, Build PAC Issues contributed $13,600 on June 29.

Josh Fowler, the staff director of Build PAC Issues, who is also executive VP of the Home Builders Association of Greater Tulsa, told the Whirled the PAC wasn't set up to conceal contributions. Then why was it so hastily set up, and why has it given its entire pot of money to one campaign? Since there are no maximums for contributions to issues campaigns (which is how a recall campaign is classified), and since corporate contributions are allowed, there is no reason other than concealment -- PAC contributions don't have to be disclosed until after the election on July 31 -- for someone to give money via this PAC rather than directly to the campaign. And why would a newspaper publisher give money through a home builders PAC, except to try to conceal the donation from the public? (What's that Bible verse on the Whirled masthead? "Publish and set up a standard; publish, and conceal not.")

I wrote earlier that the PAC provided a loophole to avoid the intent of the law that campaign contributions be disclosed before an election, but if the PAC exists only for the purpose of supporting this issue, it must follow the same reporting rules as CFRG and Tulsans for Election Integrity. Enforcing that provision will require someone, and it probably needs to be a registered voter in District 2 or 6, to file a complaint with the District Attorney that Build PAC Issues has violated 51 O.S. 314 and 315.

In other recall news:

District 6 voters have been getting calls claiming that it's not important to show up to vote against recall on Tuesday because Jim Mautino is retiring anyway. That's an utter lie, obviously intended to depress turnout among Jim's supporters.

I've got a lot of other things to accomplish tonight, so I will be parceling this out as I get time. I will be on 1170 KFAQ tomorrow morning at 7:10 a.m. to talk about the list.

So here is part 1 of some observations and identifications from the list of donors to the Coalition for Reprehensible Government 2004 (CFRG). (Thanks to meeciteewurkor for hot-linking some of the names in the list to further information.)

The biggest donor is Build PAC Issues, which shares an address with the Home Builders Association of Greater Tulsa, 11545 E. 43rd Street. Why didn't the last-minute Build PAC donation of $13,600 come directly from the Home Builders, since there are no contribution limits and no restriction on corporate contributions? My guess is that this is a vehicle for concealing contributions. The PAC won't have to report contributions for the quarter until July 31, so we won't know where that money really came from until long after the election is over. This is a loophole in the state ethics laws that needs to be fixed. A PAC contributing to a campaign should be required to report contributions and expenditures on the same schedule as the campaign, so that voters can know who is funding a candidate or an issue.

Next on the list is Ameristar. This donation appears to be pure vendetta against Councilor Jim Mautino. Ameristar was dumping dirt and reshaping the terrain in the Mingo Creek floodplain, and Mautino insisted that the company provide the legally required compensatory storage to protect downstream property owners against flooding. Recall appears to be, in part, revenge by Ameristar for not getting its way immediately. If there's a theme to the list of contributions, most are expressions of toddleresque rage at not always getting one's way at City Hall.

Next we have the Greater Tulsa Association of Realtors (GTAR), which gave a single contribution of $5000 last October, one of the earliest contributions. Word is that there was considerable dissension among the membership about the contribution, which may be why GTAR is one of the few larger contributors that didn't cough up again this spring. Or perhaps they just found a way to give in a less obvious fashion. Northeast Oklahoma Real Estate Services is a subsidiary of GTAR -- NORES runs the Multi-List System (MLS) in the Tulsa area -- and it gave $2,000 on May 26.

The Commercial Real Estate Association of Tulsa was incorporated in 1998 by Herbert Haschke, treasurer of CFRG, David Cox, and land use attorney Lou Reynolds -- the member of the water board whose reappointment was initially rejected by the City Council before Sam Roop's defection.

Paula Marshall-Chapman is CEO of the Bama Companies and was a member of the board of the Tulsa Metro Chamber until forced to resign in order to remain on the City's Economic Development Commission, which oversees the Chamber's economic development contract with the city. (The resignation was forced by an Attorney General's opinion which forbids board members of an organization to oversee public funds going to that organization.) Marshall-Chapman also wrote an op-ed last fall defending the Tulsa Whirled in the controversy over its tardily-disclosed financial interest in Great Plains Airlines.

Associated Builders and Contractors PAC gave its $4,000 contribution back in November -- yet another contribution from a developer-related individual or organization, which accounts for well over half of the contributions to the pro-recall campaign.

The Coalition for Responsible Government 2004, the committee supporting the recall election next Tuesday, filed their ethics report at the last possible moment today, reporting $85,059 in contributions, and $65,884 in expenditures through June 30. Contributions of more than $200 made up $79,149 of the total, broken down by donor as follows:

Build PAC Issues13600
Home Builders Association of Greater Tulsa10150
Ameristar10000
Greater Tulsa Association of Realtors5000
Commercial Real Estate Association of Tulsa5000
Paula Marshall-Chapman5000
Associated Builders and Contractors PAC4000
Wm. E. Manley4000
Arvest Bank3000
Robert C. Poe3000
Northeast Oklahoma Real Estate Services2000
Rock Hill LLC2000
John A. Brock 1500
B R W Trucking1000
Anchor Stone Company1000
Ray Miller1000
B. R. Hutson, Inc.1000
W. W. Enterprises, Inc.1000
Corporate Realty Advisors LLC699
John D. Benjamin600
TDC Inc.500
Next Generation Homes, LLC500
D. L. Vincent500
Houchin Electric Co., Inc.500
Herbert P. Haschke, Jr.500
R. S. Looney500
Jarvis, Inc.400
George and Phyllis Dotson400
Building Systems of Tulsa, Inc.300
William M. Brumbaugh250
C. E. Patterson250

The first contribution was by Bixby resident and former Tulsa City Councilor John D. Benjamin -- $100 on October 7, 2004. The largest contribution was also the most recent -- $13,600 from Build PAC Issues on June 29, 2005. The address of Build PAC Issues is 11545 E. 43rd Street, which is also the address of the Home Builders Association of Greater Tulsa.

Look for more analysis of the names and numbers later tonight.

Dan Paden takes apart this morning's Tulsa Whirled editorial endorsing the recall of Tulsa City Councilors Chris Medlock and Jim Mautino. Click the link and read Dan's entry, "Pukoid Postings at the Whirled". I was going to respond to the Whirled's dreck point-by-point, but Dan's piece is so well-put it doesn't seem quite as urgent. (I've been busy with some behind-the-scenes efforts to help Chris and Jim.) Go read the whole thing.

Oh, and don't expect the Whirled to look into this, but there are reports that the Lortons have contributed $2,500 to the Homebuilders PAC, to be passed through to the Coalition for Reprehensible Government 2004's (CFRG) campaign in favor of recall. By using the PAC to launder the contribution, the Lorton name wouldn't appear on CFRG's list of contributors (assuming the list is even turned in on time). Since the Whirled didn't bother to disclose its interest in Great Plains Airlines until very late in the game, and as far as I know never declared their owner's connection with F&M Bank, don't expect that they'll call attention to any backdoor contributions to the pro-corruption forces.

Tulsans for Election Integrity (TFEI) today filed their C-1 form, Campaign Contributions and Expenditures Report, with the Tulsa City Clerk's office. The shadowy pro-recall group, Coalition for Reprehensible Government 2004, has not yet filed. The law that controls ethics reporting for municipal, county, and school board elections is the Political Subdivisions Ethics Act, Oklahoma Statutes Title 51, Chapter 6 (sections 301 to 325). 314 and 315 are the sections dealing with reporting of contributions and expenditures.

TFEI, devoted to defeating the recall attempt against Councilors Jim Mautino and Chris Medlock, has raised a total of $12,148.00 and spent $2,585.90. $8,050.00 in donations came in contributions of $200 or more:

$2,500: Virginia Brubaker, Kenneth and Kyong Cha Sellers.

$1,000: Pat and Hughes Coston.

$500: Lloyd Noble, Ivan and Helen Ellsworth.

$250: Libby Nash.

$200: Dale and Kathy Whiteis, Patrick Kuykendall, Willingham Rentals, Richard and Lisa Lowry.

If you want to help defeat the recall against Tulsa City Councilors Chris Medlock and Jim Mautino, you have an opportunity to make good use of two hours' time this Saturday morning. They need your help to get their message out to the voters of their districts. The shadowy pro-recall group, Citizens for Reprehensible Government, will have a lot of money for a last-minute smear campaign, and your efforts this Saturday will help immunize the voters against their attacks. You'll find the details on the Tulsans for Election Integrity blog.

While I feel sure that most people who have looked at the issues closely realize that there is no good reason to recall these councilors, I'm also sure that a lot of folks haven't thought about it enough to make a decision, and they could tip the result one way or another. We need to make sure these folks hear our message.

If you can't help Saturday, you can help with a donation. Contributions are needed to cover the cost of getting the message out. You can also contact TFEI and see how else you might be able to help.

On a related note, Steve Roemerman is in trouble with his constituents, too. Go wish him a happy birthday and good luck.

Friday is the last day to register to vote or to move your registration (if you've moved into Tulsa City Council districts 2 or 6) so that you can vote in July 12th's recall election. You can register at any tag agency, but you might want to head down to the Tulsa County Election Board at 555 N. Denver to register in person, just to be sure that the application gets where it needs to go in a timely fashion.

Steve Roemerman attended Councilor Chris Medlock's Tuesday night town hall meeting and wishes all of Medlock's constituents could have been there, too:

[Had you been there, y]ou would have come to understand that Councilor Medlock’s portrait as anti-development is unfair and unfounded. Clearly he is not anti-development as he has been crucial in securing the new 600,000-900,000 square foot, Tulsa Hills, Shopping Center at 71st and east of highway 75, a project that is projected to bring 5 million dollars in new tax revenue for Tulsa. That’s good for District 2 and for Tulsa.

You would have been confused at the rumor that he is a negative person, or that he has no ideas, or that he is ignorant, or arrogant. You would have seen a passionate Councilor who loves Tulsa, who wants to see Tulsa grow while protecting its citizens, and an important elected official with great ideas. You would have started to wonder, “So why do we want to recall him? Don’t we really want to keep him in office?”

Finally, Rick Westcott of Tulsans for Election Integrity explains why the group stands against all recall efforts -- both those pursued by the Coalition for Reprehensible Government against Medlock and Mautino and those being pursued against Mayor LaFortune and the Cockroach Caucus.

Rick Westcott, chairman of Tulsans for Election Integrity, has posted his reaction to the Oklahoma Supreme Court's decision not to assume original jurisdiction in the group's suit concerning the recall of Councilors Jim Mautino and Chris Medlock. Westcott addresses what the Court's action does and doesn't mean:

It's a little unfortunate that the Supreme Court's ruling does not address the issues of what the City Charter actually requires. Their ruling does not state whether there should have been a vote of five or if the City Clerk should have compared the actual signatures. We still believe that our position on those issues was, and is, correct. All the Court's ruling says is that the Justices do not believe that the facts of this case warranted the Court's assumption of original jurisdiction.

The full text of the Court's order:

Application to assume original jurisdiction is denied. All parties’ requests for costs and attorney’s fees are denied. ALL JUSTICES CONCUR.

Westcott ends his article with a call to tighten up the language concerning recall in the City Charter and a call to defeat the recall election on July 12. It will take money and volunteers to make that happen. Surf over to www.tfei.org and offer to help in any way that you can.

Who is Lois Romano?

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I was curious to know something about the reporter who wrote the item in Sunday's Washington Post "Coast to Coast" column about Tulsa's City Council recall election. I called her a stringer in the earlier entry, but in fact she is a staff writer for the Post, based here in Tulsa, covering news of national interest all over this part of the country.

Lois Romano is the wife of recently retired U. S. District Judge Sven Erik Holmes. Holmes, a Clinton appointee to the Federal bench, was the judge in the Black Officers lawsuit against the Tulsa Police Department. (Holmes is now vice chairman and chief legal officer for KPMG.)

Googling for her name, I found this NewsMax piece, in which radio talk show host Neal Boortz takes apart an earlier Romano article about the Tulsa Gun Show.

She was the first author of the Washington Post's gossip column, "Reliable Source." That same column in the Washingtonian, from March, suggests that she may be headed back to Washington after a decade in Tulsa. She is on the board of the Community Service Council of Greater Tulsa and the board of Family and Children's Services.

You can read a transcript of an online chat from January 19, 2001, in which Romano answers questions about George W. Bush's personality and leadership style. The introduction says: "Washington Post political reporter Lois Romano has covered George W. Bush extensively over the last two years. Believe it or not, she's lives outside the Beltway--way outside. Like Tulsa, Oklahoma. At first apprehensive, she has found there is life outside Washington." Unfortunately, the piece doesn't elaborate on her adjustment to life in Tulsa, which would have been interesting to read.

In a Post story on reaction from across the nation to the death of Pope John Paul II, Romano appears to have contributed the closing
quote:

"We need to let go of these centuries-old dogmas and move to greater acceptance," said Eileen Bradshaw, a mother of three in Tulsa. She pointed to John Paul II's opposition to in vitro fertilization, a position she finds hard to reconcile with "a church that professes to embrace life."

"Personally," Bradshaw added, "I find it hard to explain to my daughters that we belong to a church that doesn't see fit to let women lead."

Finally, here's a profile of megachurch pastor and author Joel Osteen that Romano wrote earlier this year.

Today the Oklahoma Supreme Court declined to assume original jurisdiction in a case involving the recall of Tulsa City Councilors Jim Mautino and Chris Medlock.

Tulsans for Election Integrity v. City of Tulsa dealt with whether the City Clerk erred in not comparing the signatures on recall petitions to the signatures in the election board registration records as the Tulsa City Charter requires, and whether an affirmation by the Council of the City Clerk's finding on the sufficiency of petitions requires a majority vote of the full Council under the City Charter. District Judge Ronald Shaffer ruled for the City and against Tulsans for Election Integrity on April 28, and TfEI then appealed.

No word yet on whether the Court simply refused to hear the case or whether the Court actually touched on any of the legal matters in their opinion, which won't be available for a couple of days.

"Coast to Coast", a selection of short national news items from around the country on page A2 of Sunday's Washington Post, included a brief item from stringer Lois Romano about the effort to recall two Tulsa City Councilors. I'm happy to see the issue gaining some national attention, but there's much that's wrong or missing in this brief account. Here's how it begins:

An 18-month feud between factions on the Tulsa City Council has stymied city operations and horrified residents, as dueling recall efforts dominate the news.

City operations have been stymied? I haven't seen it. Streets get fixed, fires are put out, police patrol the city -- same as always. And as for horrified residents, Ms. Romano, please produce photographic evidence that the debate on the City Council has caused any Tulsa resident's hair to stand on end.

The rift came into public view about a year ago at a now infamous meeting at an Arby's, when Medlock and three other councilmen played hooky to stall the election of the new chairman in what should have been a pro forma vote.

Wrong. A chairman and vice chairman had already been elected at the new council's first meeting, shortly after their swearing in. The purpose of the walkout was to try to preserve the opportunity to reconsider the election of the chairman after Roscoe Turner's election was duly certified and he was sworn in. New Chairman Randy Sullivan was planning a significant break with tradition by appointing his faction-mates as permanent chairmen of each council committee, rather than sharing the chairmanship among several councilors.

Soon, their ranks were joined by a fifth member, giving them a bipartisan voting bloc -- dubbed "the Gang of Five." The bloc delayed or thwarted initiatives it deemed not in the interest of the populace -- such as the building of a bank near a residential area.

Interesting that Romano never uses the word "majority." The Post's readership can't be expected to know that the Tulsa City Council has only nine members.

The Reform Alliance became controversial for its own initiatives -- most notably for pursuing an investigation of Tulsa's airports and the city's involvement in financing Great Plains Airlines. They also instigated a debate about how our city water system should be managed. The reformers pushed for a charter change to protect property owners from arbitrary rezoning by reinstating the protest petition process, an effort that won unanimous support from the Council but was defeated by a "slip up" on the part of the City Clerk's office.

Although the five see themselves as protecting the city from rubber-stamped decisions by the power elite, the chamber of commerce's president has painted them as "a cancer on the community." A well-financed interest group of businessmen launched a recall effort of Medlock and another councilman; the League of Women Voters and the NAACP joined in and denounced the recall. Republican Mayor Bill LaFortune further disrupted the bloc by hiring one of the renegades to his cabinet.

I think that sentence should begin with "because" instead of "although," and it would put the (former) Chamber of Commerce president's attacks in context if the article mentioned the Reform Alliance's initiative to make the Chamber accountable for the tax dollars it receives from the City.

"Renegade" is a rather value-laden term, isn't it? It distracts from the fact that the group had a majority on the Council. And it would be more accurate to say that LaFortune eliminated the bloc's majority on the Council by hiring Sam Roop.

Meanwhile, a popular radio talk-show host, Michael DelGiorno, added his voice to the cacophony with daily tirades and support of a rival recall effort -- this one against the mayor and four other council members.

No mention of the poisonous atmosphere created by the Tulsa Whirled's repeated attacks on the Council's reformers or of the slanderous contents of the tabloids put out by the secretive pro-recall campaign.

"The whole thing has been extremely disruptive to the city," the mayor's chief of staff, Clay Bird, said wearily. "This is not the kind of national publicity we want."

It has been disruptive, and it's too bad Clay Bird's boss didn't try harder to make it go away. If he had insisted that the City Clerk do his job in validating the petition signatures, and if he had hired a City Attorney that believes in following the law, the recall would probably be dead.

Again, it's nice to see that the issue has received some national attention. Too bad the story wasn't told as completely as it should have been.

Savage spotting

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Imagine that you're Alan Jackere, and you're the newly appointed City Attorney of Tulsa. You and one of your subordinates, Pat Boulden, are in Oklahoma City before a Supreme Court referee, arguing that the Supreme Court shouldn't hear an appeal of Judge Ronald Shaffer's ruling ordering the City Council to set an election date for the recall of Councilors Jim Mautino and Chris Medlock. Once the hearing is over, naturally you'll want to inform your boss, the Mayor, how the day went.

And that appears to be exactly what Alan Jackere did today. Shortly after the hearing, Jackere and Boulden were spotted with Democrat former Mayor Susan Savage, now Secretary of State, in her State Capitol office.

It's not known whether Mayor LaFortune, who named Jackere permanent City Attorney last week, was also given a thorough debriefing by Jackere.

John S. Denney, counsel for Homeowners for Fair Zoning, gives you his perspective on today's hearing. An entry from last week explains why Jackere's appointment as City Attorney is a disaster for Tulsa, one which will outlive Bill LaFortune's tenure as Mayor.

Rick Westcott, chairman of Tulsans for Election Integrity, the group opposing the recall of Tulsa City Councilors Jim Mautino and Chris Medlock, has posted a response to Judge Ronald Shaffer's Thursday ruling against TfEI. Here's one of the key paragraphs from the ruling:

The Charter of the City of Tulsa requires that the City Clerk verify that the signatures on the supporting petitions correspond with the signatures appearing on the voter registration books. It would be ludicrous to require, over and above the City Charter, the City Clerk compare the signatures. That would require the Clerk to become an expert on handwriting exemplars, which is not required.

Westcott explains the basis for TfEI's appeal of the decision:

Here's the thing: The Judge's opinion states that the City Charter requires the Clerk to "verify" that the signatures on the supporting petitions "correspond" with the signatures appearing on the voter registration books. But then, the opinion states that the Clerk should not be required to actually compare the signatures because that would be too difficult.

How would the Clerk "verify" that the signatures on the supporting petitions "correspond" with the signatures on the voter registration books unless he actually compares the signatures? Should the Clerk be excused from complying with the requirements of the Charter because it might be difficult? Should we all be excused from complying with laws because it might be difficult? The Clerk made no attempt to compare the signatures. If he had, it is possible that there could have been enough glaring, obvious forgeries that the petitions would have easily been invalidated.

Can some attorney tell me: Is "ludicrous" a term of art? Would someone look that up in Black's Law Dictionary and post the definition?

Also, is there a technical meaning of the term "correspond" that allows someone to verify whether A corresponds to B without actually setting eyes on B? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

At about 3 p.m. today, District Judge Ronald L. Shaffer ruled against Tulsans for Election Integrity and Tulsa City Councilors Jim Mautino and Chris Medlock and for the Coalition for Responsible Government 2004 and ordered the Tulsa City Council to call recall elections for the two targeted councilors. I have not seen the ruling, but I have been told that Shaffer ruled that the City Clerk fulfilled the Charter's requirement to validate the petitions (even though he admitted that he did not compare the signatures to those in the election board records as the charter requires) and that the Council's vote to affirm the City Clerk's findings was not a resolution and therefore did not require a majority of the Council to approve it. Under Shaffer's ruling, the Council has no discretion and is obliged to call the election.

And so they did. Acting City Attorney Alan Jackere rushed to have the election resolutions added to the "New Business" portion of the agenda for tonight's council meeting. Is this a violation of the Open Meeting Act? Jackere will say that it isn't, but here we have a contentious issue on the agenda, and proper notice wasn't given either to the general public or to the interested parties who spoke to the issue at previous meetings. Jackere instructed the Council that they could be arrested for contempt of court if they disobeyed the judge's order, so the vote was 6-0, with Medlock and Mautino recusing themselves, to call the election for July 12.

Was the timing of the ruling deliberate? The quick turnaround between the judge's order at 3 and the start of the council meeting at 6 gave TfEI's attorneys no time to file an appeal or to seek a stay of Shaffer's order until the appeal could be heard.

I never expected a ruling against the pro-recall forces in Tulsa District Court. In hindsight, TfEI should have sought a change of venue to some western Oklahoma district, beyond the Tulsa Whirled's circulation area. I suppose some would say it's rude to suggest that a judge might not be impartial, but judges are human, and judges go to parties, serve on charitable boards, and rub elbows with the high and the mighty, and they're as likely as not to see the world through the same filters as everyone else in their social circles. I lost my confidence that local judges would ever rule against the local power structure when Judge Jane Wiseman ruled that the Vision 2025 ballot was not logrolling, and in her ruling contradicted the rationale she used about 10 years earlier to invalidate the county jail sales tax ballot.

Appeal would still be a possibility, but in the meantime, it's time to get serious about fighting and winning the recall election.

Got an e-mail this morning from a reader asking how to go about starting a recall against a Tulsa City Councilor. The reader said he'd talked to two people at the City Council office and couldn't get a straight answer. Here's my attempt at a straight answer.

The first step is to familiarize yourself with Chapter VII of the City Charter, which governs removal and recall of elective officers.

Next, go down to City Hall, to the City Clerk's office, and request copies of the preliminary petitions submitted against Councilors Mautino and Medlock. Use them as a model for drawing up your own preliminary petition. Since they were accepted as valid, there's a precedent you can depend on when submitting your own preliminary petition.

As you list the reasons for recall, make the strongest case you can. For example, if you were seeking to recall Randy Sullivan for not living in the district he purports to represent, you could cite Title 51, Section 8 of the Oklahoma Statutes, which requires an elected official to live in the district he was elected to represent.

If you're going to recall Bill Christiansen or Randy Sullivan, there's going to be some question about how many signatures are required to start the process. The charter sets the required number of signatures as a percentage "of all those voting in that election district for the affected office in the preceding general election." Since neither had a general election opponent in 2004, is that number 0, or do we go back to the 2002 general election, when each had a contested general election? It would be interesting to submit a preliminary petition with a single signature, just to see what the city does with it. Just expect the City Attorney's office to interpret the law to the advantage of the Cockroach Caucus.

That should be enough to get you started.

Tulsa City Councilor Chris Medlock will be slammed in this morning's Tulsa Whirled over the status of his MBA degree from the University of Tulsa. Medlock was contacted Friday by Whirled reporter P. J. Lassek and told that they were investigating rumors that he did not actually have an MBA degree. This allegation stunned Medlock, who tells his side of the story on his blog:

The only thing more shocking to hear would've been to have been told something to the effect of, "Your campaign literature claims that you have been married to your wife Cheryl for 25 years, but we can find no record of your marriage." Just as I had, in 1979, stood before a Baptist preacher who was more nervous than I, and repeated wedding vows, I knew that I had gone to TU for a year and a half, and studied in the Graduate Business School.

He believed that he had completed all course work for the degree. Because he finished in August of 1992, there was no graduation ceremony for him to walk in, and by the time the next commencement rolled around, he was well-established in his job at T. D. Williamson and didn't seek to participate.

After hearing from Lassek, Medlock visited the TU registrar's office and discovered that he had an incomplete in one course in the Spring 1992 semester for failing to complete one paper. His recollection is that he could have taken a "C" in the course without the paper, but he asked for an incomplete to try to finish and keep his GPA at the needed level to graduate with honors. Over the summer, however, he worked a full-time job, took his final two courses, and worked 10-15 hours a week in the TU computer lab for the scholarship stipend he received, and the paper wasn't completed.

What I find amazing, thinking back to my college years, is that his faculty adviser didn't alert him to the problem. If I recall correctly, MIT checked the records of graduating students some months before commencement and alerted them to anything that might pose a problem.

I expect the Tulsa World and the rest of the Cockroach Caucus to make a mountain out of this molehill. Medlock attended all the required courses, did all the work, save for one paper, and for the last 13 years has believed that he finished his MBA. When the Whirled challenged him about it, he took the initiative to find out what happened and has shared that information openly and publicly.

In the meantime, it appears that the Cockroach Caucus was tipped off about the problem before Medlock was approached. At Thursday night's Council meeting, Councilor Bill Christiansen made reference to Medlock's MBA in a way that seemed like a rhetorical question, but then he waited until Medlock confirmed that he had the degree before going on with his remarks.

MORE: David Arnett comments at Tulsa Today that this is another example of the Whirled's "assassination by adjective."

All those city lawsuits

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John S. Denney, counsel for Homeowners for Fair Zoning, has a posted a concise summary of the four pending lawsuits involving the City Council: HFFZ's lawsuit over the handling of their zoning protest petition in F&M Bank's rezoning of 71st and Harvard; F&M's lawsuit against the City and individual councilors over their refusal to approve a plat out of accord with the zoning change that was previously approved; Tulsans for Election Integrity's suit against the City for violating the City Charter in its handling of the recall petitions; and the Coalition for Reprehensible Government's suit to force the City to call a recall election. It's easy to see all the lawsuits and think that City Hall has gone haywire, but former Streets Commissioner Jim Hewgley has said that when he was in office, it was routine for the commissioners to be greeted by process servers after every meeting. Read Denney's summaries, and you'll understand why all these suits are happening.

You can help HFFZ cover the legal bills for their involvement in these suits by taking your business to various merchants, like Quik Trip and Yale Cleaners. Details on how to participate are here.

Roemerman on Record

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Steve Roemerman has joined the merry band of bloggers working to hold Tulsa city government accountable. His blog, Roemerman on Record, is only a day old, but he's already posted an insightful critique of KOTV's coverage of the recall petition signature issue, which you should read. Steve has been active politically out in Council District 6, helping get Jim Mautino elected in 2004. Welcome to the blogosphere, Steve.

If you're a Tulsa blogger, particularly if you write about local matters, and I don't have you on my blogroll, drop me a line. (Even if you already have -- I get busy and things fall through the cracks at times.) I won't guarantee that I'll add you, but I will certainly take a look at what you have to offer.

You can find video of the first of the four speeches I made at Thursday night's City Council meeting over on the Tulsa Topics media page -- click on "3-24-2005 City Council Meeting," then select either the video from TGOV or the video that Bobby of Tulsa Topics shot. And here are some more of Bobby's thoughts about the meeting, and how we should respond by focusing on the District 5 council special election.

Mee Citee Wurkor was inspired to add a soundtrack to my speech -- a song by a local punk band called the Beer Mongers. His entry on the meeting is here, with a link to his version of the video.

There were many excellent speeches. The people who spoke were inspired by a love for their city and outrage over the way the Bought and Paid Four, the City Attorney, and the City Clerk ignored the law for the sake of giving control of the Council back to the Cockroach Caucus. If you missed it, it should repeat daily through Wednesday. The TGOV schedule for next week isn't online yet, but it should look something like last week's.

In an Council meeting filled with Biblical quotations and allusions, this was my favorite. It was uttered by B. J. Benbow as a closing admonition to the "Bought and Paid Four." It was apt both for the date and for the analogy.

Purim began at sundown tonight, the feast that commemorates the deliverance of the Jews from the extermination planned for them by Haman. You'll find the story in the Book of Esther. The evil counselor Haman sought to destroy all the Jews because Mordecai, a wise counselor who had saved the King of Persia's life, refused to bow down to Haman. For Mordecai in particular, Haman had a 75-foot-high gallows built. Because of Queen Esther's, Haman's plot was discovered, the king had Haman hanged on the gallows that had been built for Mordecai, and the enemies of the Jews were routed. The holiday is celebrated with utter joy, undiminished by sorrow, and as the story is read out, the congregation blots out Haman's name each time it is read with boos, hisses, and noisemakers.

By ignoring the clear requirements of the City Charter in their rush to get rid of two of their colleagues, Councilors Baker, Sullivan, Christiansen, and Neal set precedents that may come back to haunt them. The City Clerk failed to fulfill his obligation under the Charter to verify that the petition signatures correspond to those in the voter registration records. The four councilors who voted to affirm the Clerk's finding of sufficiency not only made themselves complicit in his malfeasance (as Brad Colvard pointed out), but when their constituents start a recall effort against them, they've set a low standard for verifying the petitions.

The other precedent set tonight was calling a resolution by another name so that it could pass with only four votes. As attorney Steve Denney pointed out, the vote to affirm the City Clerk's finding of sufficiency qualifies under every legal definition of a resolution. Under the Charter, therefore, approval required a majority of the Council -- five votes -- not just a majority of the quorum present. The vote was 4-2 in support of affirmation for both petitions. The City Attorney's office had opined that this was sufficient for approval. The matter will likely end up in District Court.

The City Attorney's office said that the Council was bound by the charter to pass the resolutions calling for elections now that the petitions have been affirmed. Nevertheless Councilors Turner and Henderson voted against both resolutions, and as resolutions the 4-2 or 4-3 vote in favor was insufficient for passage, an obvious fact even acting City Attorney Alan Jackere can't deny. The vote against is justified because the vote to affirm the petitions was insufficient, as noted above. Turner and Henderson were joined by Chris Medlock on the final vote -- with all items pertaining to his recall already decided, he could safely participate in the discussion and vote on Jim Mautino's recall election. The votes against calling the recall elections will also no doubt find their way into District Court.

I have to give great credit to Jack Henderson and Roscoe Turner, men of character who would not be cowed by threats of lawsuits or the defaming they'll likely get at the hands of the Tulsa Whirled. They understand that they sit on the Council by the will of God and that they are there to do what is right, whatever the consequences. I dare say if either of them were Governor of Florida right now, he would not be playing "Mother May I" with Judge Greer. They understand that they have a responsibility to uphold the charter even if it means ignoring bad advice from the City Attorney.

If you didn't catch the meeting live, you should look for the replay on TGOV 24 this weekend -- Friday evening at 6 pm, Saturday and Sunday at 8 am. There were many excellent speeches, and the comments by the councilors were very revealing.

Bobby of Tulsa Topics has his initial reaction to the meeting -- "the night my faith in city government died."

We need you down at City Hall once again, if you possibly can be there, to stand up for two City Councilors who are doing the right thing, and to stand up against those who are ignoring the clear language of the City Charter to push this recall through. Meeting starts at 6, but be there early. The items are toward the end of the agenda, but they may get through the early items -- mostly routine -- very rapidly. If you're interested and willing to speak, please come early and seek out Rick Westcott, chairman of Tulsans for Election Integrity, as we'll only be allowed a limited time to make our case, and we'll need to coordinate our efforts.

If you need something to get you riled up, read Chris Medlock's latest entry about the latest blatant example of media bias in today's Tulsa Whirled.

It's back. Non-Councilor Randy Sullivan has put the recall of Councilors Jim Mautino and Chris Medlock on this Thursday's agenda. Unlike last week, all recall elements will be together at the very end of the agenda, after all other business, and there's a lot of it, because of Sullivan's hasty decision to stop last week's meeting, rather than calling a recess long enough to reassemble a quorum.

There really shouldn't be a meeting Thursday at all. It is Maundy Thursday, a night when many churches (even non-liturgical congregations) hold special communion services to commemorate Christ's Last Supper. (Maundy is from the Latin mandatus, a reference to John 13:34: "A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.")

This week is also spring break for many area schools, and between that and the holiday it will be a challenge to assemble the kind of crowd we had last Thursday night.

If the election resolutions are approved, the recall election would be held on June 14.

Also on the agenda is a proposed schedule for evaluating proposed amendments to the City Charter. This is not specifically about the amendment regarding zoning protest petitions that was taken off the April ballot, although that is one of the proposals that could be discussed. The Charter requires periodic charter review, and Title 4, Section 308 of Tulsa Revised Ordinances requires the City Attorney to submit a schedule by March 15 of odd-numbered years for considering amendments which would be placed on the general election ballot the following March. The Council can accept, amend, or reject the proposed schedule, but they must act by April 15.

Trust is a fragile thing.

Trust is essential to any human endeavor involving more than one person (which is to say, nearly every endeavor worthy of pursuit), but it is easily broken and once broken it is almost impossible to mend.

You can go from treasured friend to arms-length acquaintance and not realize it's happened until it's too late. It's like being demoted, but someone forgot to copy you on the memo. Good will is gone, and its absence is evident in body language and tone of voice. Warm smiles are replaced by chilly glares.

It comes down to this: Before, your actions and words were given the benefit of the doubt. Your good intentions were assumed. After, your actions and words are viewed with suspicion of dark motives, and actions and words from the past are reinterpreted in accordance with this new, negative theory of you.

And here's the worst part: Every effort you make to find out what went wrong, to mend fences, to seek restoration is viewed through the same lens of suspicion. Far from patching the hole, your efforts only dig it deeper. What sounds like a simple, reasonable explanation as it leaves your mouth reaches your erstwhile friend's ear as defensive and evasive.

(UPDATE: Dawn Summers posted a "not so random thought" a couple of days ago that captures this situation perfectly -- "I was there when we became friends, where was I when we became strangers?")

What can bring about such a dramatic change, in the absence of any intentional breach of trust? A seed of doubt, watered by imagination, is all it takes. The seed may be planted by accident, the misapplication of past experience, or it may be planted deliberately by someone seeking to destroy a friendship or an alliance.

In the battle for the Tulsa's future, the coalition of reformers is made up of people who are just getting to know each other, and the bond of trust is not yet fully formed. We are vulnerable to attack at this point, and we must guard against it.

Thursday night's City Council meeting didn't go the way anyone expected. Allies inadvertently ended up working at cross-purposes, but some observers jumped to the conclusion that there had been a betrayal, that some sort of deal had been cut to the disadvantage of the Reform Alliance. The seed of doubt was planted and imagination watered it. I'm hopeful that efforts to root it out quickly were successful.

Brethren, we need to watch and pray, because we are surely under attack. And we need to give each other the benefit of the doubt.

I don't have time to write any more than this at the moment:

Any feeling that last night's Council meeting was a defeat for the good guys is without basis in reality.

Any anger toward Councilors Turner and Henderson is entirely misplaced. They were not responsible for the adjournment of the meeting. They have been and continue to be faithful friends and allies of Councilors Mautino and Medlock, and I have complete confidence in them. If you missed hearing what they had to say this morning on KFAQ about what transpired last night, you should make a point to listen online as the broadcast replays. They were on the air between 7:40 and 8:30. 9:40 p.m. Friday is the next time that segment will air, then every 3.5 hours until Monday morning. You can hear my comments (originally made about 6:40) -- they'll next repeat at 8:40 tonight and every 3.5 hours thereafter.

Before you wake up in the morning and jump to any conclusions, you should take time to shave your suppositions with Occam's Razor.

Busy and strange night tonight.

While a special Council meeting to consider rescinding the denial of the 71st and Harvard F&M Bank final plat was going on on the 2nd floor of City Hall, opponents of the recall gathered on City Hall Plaza to rally support for Councilors Mautino and Medlock. There were at least 100 people present on the plaza and more had already gone inside to the Council chamber. Standing on one of the empty plinths on the plaza, I spoke to the crowd about their opportunity to speak before the Council, reiterating the main objections to the recall -- the failure of the City Clerk to fulfill his obligations under the charter being the foremost. Rick Westcott, chairman of Tulsans for Election Integrity, spoke briefly and emphasized the need for decorum during the meeting itself. Mona Miller led us all in some chants before we began to file into the chamber, many carrying NO RECALL bumper stickers and yard signs, and a few with homemade signs.

The chamber was standing room only -- every seat taken, and people lined up along all the walls. As we signed up to speak on the recall-related agenda items, the Council staffer informed us that the items had been pulled from the agenda. Medlock was standing next to me as I heard this, and he corrected the staffer, saying that the items would be pulled only if there were no objection from a councilor. It was clear that he was prepared to see the Council proceed to vote on recall and wanted the assembled citizens to be given a chance to speak.

As the Councilors took their seats, Medlock and Mautino received standing ovations. Bill Christiansen and Randy Sullivan received hisses and boos.

UPDATE: There will be a "No Recall" rally at 5 p.m. Thursday on City Hall Plaza. More details as they become available.

Non-Councilor Randy Sullivan has put the recall of Councilors Jim Mautino and Chris Medlock on Thursday night's City Council agenda. There will be two votes on each councilor. Tulsans need to be down at City Hall Thursday night for the 6 p.m. meeting, ready to speak out in opposition this attempt to call a recall election on the basis of questionable petitions with questionable signatures. You should be at City Hall by Thursday at 5:45 -- give yourself time to park -- and you should sign up to speak on items 3b, 3c, 7a, and 7b.

(By the way, if there's an event at the Convention Center and they're charging for parking, tell the attendant that you're there for the Council meeting and you won't be charged the $3.)

Here's the first agenda item: "Affirmation or reversal of City Clerk's determination that the petitions and signatures on the supporting petitions seeking the recall... comply with the requirements of the Tulsa City Charter." This has been listed as one of the "Mayor's Items," very early in the meeting, right after a series of appointments and reappointments that should be routine. That's why its crucial to be in the room before the meeting begins at 6:00 p.m.

As City Clerk Mike Kier admitted last Tuesday, he has not fulfilled the charter requirement that he verify that the signatures on the petition correspond with the signatures in the voter registration records. It would be irresponsible for the Council to vote to affirm, and Tulsans need to be present to make sure they hear that message loud and clear.

The second agenda item reads as follows: "Resolution of Notice to the Tulsa County Election Board of a Special Election to be held in the City of Tulsa, Oklahoma on May 10, 2005, to recall... and directing the Mayor to call the election." Note the date. It would be illegal for the Council to act on March 17 to call a May 10 election. State law requires at least 60 days between calling an election and the election date.

Randy Sullivan has included the two election resolutions in the "Council items" section items of the agenda, no doubt intending to inconvenience citizens as much as possible by separating the items as much as possible.

The fact that the "affirmation or reversal" is not described as a resolution to affirm or reverse is a bit of legal trickery. A resolution requires a majority vote of the whole Council -- five yes votes. By not calling it a resolution, the City Attorney's office is making the case that all they need is a majority of a majority -- a majority of whatever quorum happens to be present -- three votes out of five, four votes out of six or seven. Once again the City Attorney's office is opening up the City (and us taxpayers) to a lawsuit by trying to monkey around with the law for the benefit of the Cockroach Caucus.

Please plan to be at City Hall Thursday night.

This was published on March 15, but I'm bumping the date to keep it at the top through Thursday.

Bring your camcorders

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You are encouraged to bring your camcorders and digital voice recorders to tonight's City Council meeting. I have heard that there have been some technical changes to the camera and audio setup in the Francis Campbell Council Room. The kinds of glitches that often accompany such changes may prevent Cox Cable from getting a good recording for rebroadcast. So charge your camcorders and bring them along. Let's make sure every word is recorded for posterity.

In honor of Saint Patrick

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St. Patrick is said to have beaten a drum hard and fast, and the din drove all the snakes of Ireland into the sea.

In honor of his feast day...

Patrick drives the snakes out of Ireland

... let's help Councilors Jack Henderson, Jim Mautino, Chris Medlock, and Roscoe Turner drive the snakes out of Tulsa's City Hall! Show up at City Hall Plaza at 5:00 p.m. and make some noise at a rally leading up to the City Council meeting which will begin at 6:00 p.m. You'll be able to pick up "No Recall" yard signs and bumper stickers.

If you appreciate the way these four men consistently stand up for the ordinary people of Tulsa, you need to show your appreciation by showing up tonight for the rally and the City Council meeting.

Illustration from Patrick: Patron Saint of Ireland by Tomie de Paola, a wonderful children's book about Patrick's life and legend.

I am reluctant to do this, but I have decided to enable comment moderation. I appreciate your comments, and for the most part the comments have been responsible and constructive.

Over at Councilor Chris Medlock's blog, however, it appears that agents of the Coalition for Reprehensible Government are using anonymity to post slanderous attacks on Chris, the same sort of canards that were used in the Tulsa Tribunal smear paper. I'm not going to wait until these cowbirds try to take over this nest before taking countermeasures.

This is my blog, and we play by my rules. If you want to engage in constructive criticism, that's fine, but you need to be willing to do so under your own name, and you need to supply me with a working e-mail address. Anonymous attacks will not be tolerated. If you don't like my rules, GYOB.

There is one way you can bypass comment moderation -- if you're registered with TypeKey, you can sign in, and post comments without moderation. All other comments will come through me, and I reserve the right to reject any comment for any reason.

The list of names and addresses on the recall petition against Tulsa District 6 City Councilor Jim Mautino is available via his home page. Scroll to the bottom of the page, and you'll find a link to the list and why he has posted the list on the Internet.

If you live in District 6, you'll want to take a minute to be sure that no one signed your name on your behalf.

At the top of Councilor Mautino's home page, you'll find links for signing an anti-recall petition and for volunteering to help the defeat the recall attempt.

A lot of Tulsans are angry that the Home Builders Association of Metro Tulsa, dominated by developers based in Owasso and Broken Arrow, are attempting to remove two duly-elected Tulsa City Councilors.

Even residents of the suburbs are dismayed at the HBA's push for recall in Tulsa. If you live in the 'burbs, you may wonder how you can help.

The Tulsa Real Estate Coalition (TREC) of which the HBA is a part, along with the Greater Tulsa Association of Realtors (GTAR) and the National Association of Industrial and Office Parks (NAIOP) is not only trying to retake control of the Tulsa City Council, they have either gained or are trying to gain control of suburban city councils as well. TREC's legislative goals are simple -- defend the status quo. The only reform that will be tolerated is that which makes life easier for developers.

Of course, that's their right, to try to influence the political process by helping elect officials who will be sympathetic to their concerns.

But if I were voting for City Council in one of the suburbs -- elections are on April 5 -- I'd certainly take into consideration which candidates received funds or endorsements from TREC or its members.

A reader of this site who happens to be an attorney writes to suggest that the City of Tulsa hire a forensic document examiner to look at the recall petition signatures and ensure that the requirements of the charter are fulfilled. My correspondent says is familiar with forensic document examination from his involvement in cases involving disputed wills.

Forensic document examination is a long recognized, valid forensic science. The classic textbook is Osborn on Questioned Documents. It is very, very difficult to fool a trained forensic document examiner. A well trained forensic document examiner given known and questioned signatures can determine forgeries pretty quickly. Shouldn't the City Council engage the services of a qualified forensic document examiner to determine whether there are sufficient genuine signatures on the recall petition for there to be a recall? To me it is absolutely inexcusable for the city clerk not to have made an eyeball comparison of signatures on the voting rolls and those on the recall petition.

I'm confident that with a qualified, independent examiner, it could be done very quickly and probably for less than $5K. KFAQ says it stands for what's right, and I tend to agree. We should not be afraid of what qualified handwriting examination of the recall petition reveals. If most signatures are forgeries there would be a huge uproar. If there are sufficient genuine signatures then the recall will have to be fought and won on the merits. I myself would be willing to throw some money into a fund to employ a qualified document examiner independent from the city clerk. The city clerk should have no fear of the examination, and it should not take more than a couple days.

Someone else has noticed that on a couple of petition pages, more than one signature seems to have been signed by the same hand. For example lines 7 and 8 on this petition and lines 23 and 24 on this petition. Compare the way the last name is signed -- my guess is that in these cases one spouse signed for both.

The City would save far more than $5,000 if the petitions prove to be invalid, just in the cost of holding the special elections alone. It would also clear away the recall issue at a time when more pressing matters face city government -- passing the general obligation bond issue in April and preparing a budget for the next fiscal year.

Councilors, if you're serious about adhering to the charter, let's make sure the signatures meet the charter requirements.

The requirements of the Tulsa City Charter are plain as the nose on your face. From Article VII, Section 4, here is the duty of the City Clerk with regard to recall petitions:

Within twenty (20) days after the expiration of the time for filing supporting petitions, the City Clerk shall examine the filed supporting petitions and determine whether each petition and the signatures thereon comply with the requirements of this Article.

What are the requirements with regard to signatures in Article VII?

If the officer sought to be recalled was elected from an election district, supporting petitions to be sufficient must contain the signatures of qualified electors residing in the election district involved equal in number to twenty-five percent (25%) of all those voting in that election district for the affected office in the preceding general election.

The signature of each petitioner on the supporting petitions shall correspond with that appearing on the official voter registration books applicable to the city.

There are three requirements here involving a signature on a recall petition:

  1. The signature must be of a qualified elector.
  2. The signature must be of a qualified elector who resides in the election district. (Note that that doesn't say, "who is registered to vote in the election district." It must be someone who still lives in the district.)
  3. The signature shall correspond with that appearing on the official voter registration books applicable to the city.

So putting those two pieces together, the City Clerk has three things to verify. (1) The City Clerk must verify that each petition signature matches the signature on the voter registration card for the person whose name and address are printed on the petition. (2) The City Clerk must verify that the voter so identified is registered to vote in the district (a qualified elector). (3) The City Clerk must verify that the voter so identified actually resides in the district.

By his own admission, City Clerk Mike Kier has only performed one of the three verifications required by the City Charter.

Mayoral chief-of-staff Clay Bird's comments last night to the City Council about how things are done with state and county petitions are beside the point. Tulsa's recall process is created by our City Charter, and the City Charter places specific requirements on recall petition verification, and if they happen to be more stringent than the rules of other jurisdictions, that's the way it is.

Don't miss Tulsa Topics' excellent coverage of Bird's remarks. Bobby's entry has a link to video of the event -- and it sports a great headline.

Today's special meeting of the Tulsa City Council ended shortly after it began. I showed up about 2:20 to find the committee room packed. By my count there were over a hundred present -- two deep along the east wall, three deep along the north wall, and all along the other two walls. There were more out in the elevator landing. Many were holding "NO RECALL" bumper stickers and handmade signs. (I did not notice anyone protesting in support of recalling Councilors Mautino and Medlock.) While we were waiting for the councilors to come in, the crowd started some chants: "No recall!" "Verify the signatures!" It was a tremendous show of support.

This morning, at a Tulsa City Council committee meeting on the recall of Councilors Jim Mautino and Chris Medlock, City Clerk Mike Kier testified that he has not verified the signatures on the recall petitions against signatures in the Tulsa County Election Board registration records. Article 7, Section 3 of the City Charter states:

The signature of each petitioner on the supporting petitions shall correspond with that appearing on the official voter registration books applicable to the city.

Kier stated that he compared the names and addresses on the petitions with names and addresses in the Tulsa County voter registration database, but no comparison of signatures was performed. He stated that he is relying on the sworn statements of the circulator on each petition that the signatures have been verified. The circulators were either volunteers for or paid by Coalition for Responsible Government 2004 to collect signatures.

Both Councilor Roscoe Turner and Councilor Jack Henderson expressed reservations about the Council voting to affirm Kier's finding that the recall petitions are sufficient before the required verification of signatures has been performed. Non-Councilor Randy Sullivan, who does not even live in the district he purports to represent, spoke of the Council's duty to defer to the wishes of the citizens who live in Districts 2 and 6. Councilor Bill Christiansen also spoke of the Council's duty to set the election.

The Council committee room was packed with citizens in opposition to the recall, and there were outbursts of applause in response to statements by Councilors Henderson and Turner.

Affirmation of the City Clerk's findings of sufficiency and resolutions calling for recall elections on May 10 will be considered at a special Council meeting set for 2:30 p.m. in the Council committee room, 2nd floor, City Hall.

Here's a link to a map of the Civic Center, from the City Council website. City Hall is the 11-story building in the middle of the plaza, labeled 1 on the map. There's meter parking around the base of City Hall and a parking garage a block west.

The Council Committee meeting room is on the 2nd floor of City Hall.

If you're coming from the southeast, it's easiest to take the Broken Arrow Expressway (US 64, OK 51) into downtown, take the Houston exit, go north (right) on Houston, then east (right) on 3rd. You'll find an entrance to the parking garage on your right, and then just beyond that, an entrance to the surface parking area next to City Hall.

Here's Mapquest's map of City Hall's address (201 Civic Center Plaza). If you follow that link, there's a form beneath the map that allows you to get directions from where you are to City Hall.

The Council committee discussion of the recall petitions and elections will be part of the Urban and Economic Development committee meeting, which starts at 10:00 a.m. The special council meeting, when the Council will vote on the recall petitions and elections, begins at 2:30. For the special meeting in particular, aim to be there at 2, so you have time to find a parking spot and get into the Council committee room before the meeting officially begins at 2:30.

Now that the light's been turned on, the Cockroaches are trying to scamper under the counter.

The actual vote on whether to certify the recall petitions and call the election will take place at a special Tulsa City Council meeting at 2:30 p.m. in the Council Committee room 201, on the second floor of the City Hall tower. Non-councilor Chairman Randy Sullivan has moved the debate on those matters to a different meeting, making it as inconvenient as possible on any citizens who might wish to be in attendance. The issues will be discussed during the Urban and Economic Development Committee, which begins at 10:00 am in room 201.

The various Chamber hacks, developer's attorneys, and lobbyists will all be there, of course. Harassing elected officials on behalf of special interests is what they're paid to do. It's inconvenient for them to show up during a Council meeting in the evening, and Randy Randy seems to be only too happy to do their bidding, and only too happy to inconvenience the ordinary Tulsans who have to take off work and reschedule appointments to be in attendance.

Please do what you can to be in attendance for at least one of the two meetings, both if possible. Bring camcorders and audio recorders -- let's make sure we don't miss a word or a facial expression.

Randy's in a rush

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Council Chairman and non-Councilor Randy Sullivan has set a special meeting at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Council committee room to vote on certifying the recall petitions against Councilors Jim Mautino and Chris Medlock and scheduling the special elections for May 10. Wednesday is the absolute last day that an election could be scheduled for May 10. It appears that Sullivan is trying to ensure that there will be no TGOV TV coverage (the cameras are already committed to cover the Board of Adjustment meeting), to hold the meeting at an inconvenient time for citizens to come and express their objections, to hold the meeting in an inconvenient location, without enough room to accommodate citizens who object to the recall.

Why push for a May 10 election? Sullivan says it's to save money by holding it the same day as the District 5 election, but there would only be a cost advantage if there were a city-wide election on the same day. Whether the recalls occur on May 10 or at a later date, the city will still have to pay for poll workers for the two districts.

The real aim of rushing the recall is to dilute the efforts grass-roots campaigners and overwhelm them with piles and piles of cash. Instead of being able to concentrate on electing a reform candidate in District 5 and then working on defeating the two recalls, grass-roots workers will have to split their time and energy between three races, giving an advantage to the well-heeled special interests who are bankrolling the recall and who also have a candidate in District 5.

I have heard from people who have seen the petitions that many names were printed, not signed, do not match the signatures in the county election board's records, and in some cases several names appear to have been printed by the same hand. If true, the phony signatures ought to be disqualified.

Chris Medlock has more about Randy Sullivan's manuever on his site.

I urge you to plan to attend Tuesday's special meeting, and as many people as possible should bring camcorders and tape recorders to make sure nothing escapes public notice.

Tulsa City Councilor Chris Medlock has posted the list of names of those voters who signed the petition to have him recalled from office. The list is a matter of public record, only now it is easily accessible to the public. Chris has some comments and analysis about the list, pointing out that less than 3% of the registered voters in the district signed the petition. As I noted earlier, less than 10% of those people who bothered to vote the last time Chris's name was on the ballot signed the petition to have him recalled. I'll let you know when and if the list of signers for the petition against Councilor Jim Mautino is made available.

UPDATE: Chris Medlock has posted his account of the story that appeared in the Saturday World.

I can't remember if I've used this analogy on this blog, or perhaps just in other forums, but I've observed that the Tulsa World sometimes operates like a volleyball team, with the newsroom providing the "set" with a well-slanted news story, providing the editorial board just what they need for the "spike" -- the "facts" required to "prove" whatever point the editorial board is trying to make.

A week or so ago Councilor Chris Medlock made an offhand comment, during an off-the-record conversation with a Tulsa World reporter. He mentioned that a high-ranking city official came to him to relay an offer -- support granting an easement over city land for the proposed private toll bridge across the Arkansas River and the recall would be called off. Someone decided to turn the offhand, off-the-record comment into a news story.

How to skew an Internet poll

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A forum topic at MeeCiteeWurkor.com logs the back and forth of KTUL.com's web poll on the recall of Tulsa City Councilors Chris Medlock and Jim Mautino, as it went from two-to-one against to slightly for in a matter of days. MeeCiteeWurkor explains the technical details of how web polls keep you from voting multiple times and how those limits can be nullified. As he points out, that's why KTUL has a disclaimer for its polls.

Recall quid pro quo

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UPDATE: Chris Medlock has posted his account of this matter and how the story wound up in the Saturday World.

For the second time now, an quid pro quo offer has been passed along to Tulsa Councilor Chris Medlock: Support us on our pet issue, and we'll call off the effort to recall you from office. There's an interesting connection, one not immediately obvious, between the two offers that have been made.

Recall is a "total crock"

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That's the phrase that Tulsa County Republican Chairman Don Burdick used in his valedictory speech on Friday at the monthly Tulsa County Republican Men's Club luncheon. (Burdick is not running for re-election.) Burdick pointed out that most of the signatures on the recall petitions seeking to remove two Republican city councilors, Chris Medlock and Jim Mautino, came from Democrats, and the signatures included the names of the two former Democratic city councilors who were defeated last March, Darla Hall and Art Justis.

A Tulsa World analysis of the signatures on the petitions also reveals that the overwhelming majority of the signers didn't bother to vote in the last city election (63% in District 6, 74% in District 2). So much for forfeiting your right to complain if you don't bother to vote. One wonders what those people were told to convince them to sign a petition.

The threshold for signatures is ridiculously low (25% of the number voting in the last city election), and the standard for cause is non-existent -- it makes me wonder if recall was designed by the framers of the charter specifically as a means to harass and, if necessary, overthrow the Council if the local oligarchy ever managed to lose control of the body.

Do a thought experiment with me: Imagine that the charter required that all of the signatures to meet the 25% threshold must come from people who actually voted in the last city election. Councilor Smith loses to Challenger Jones by a resounding 60-40 margin. If the defeated incumbent could convince little more than half of his voters to sign a recall petition, he could at least torment his replacement by putting him through another election. Never mind that 60% voted for the winner, and another 15% are content to wait until the next general election to make a change -- a tiny minority of those who voted can force the district to go through at least one more election. At the very least, the recall is going to distract the winning councilor from accomplishing what he set out to do.

The reality is worse than that. Only 8% of the voters in the last District 2 election and only 9% of the voters in the last District 6 election bothered to sign the petitions. Over 90% of the people who bothered to vote are content enough with their representation to wait until the next general election, when they can decide for themselves who will serve as city councilor, but their wishes are being overturned by a tiny minority afflicted with sour grapes.

A recall has another advantage over a regular election for sour grapes losers like Darla Hall and Art Justis. A recall election is treated under the ethics laws as an issue campaign, not a candidate campaign. There is no limit on individual donations, and corporate contributions are permitted. If you're a loser with ties to the Cockroach Caucus, they can raise and spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to trash the reputation of the guy who beat you.

I was amused by a couple of quotes from the sour grapes losers in the World's story. Darla Hall denied playing a role in the recall effort, but she was named as a circulator of the petition back in November in a story in the westside's Tulsa County News. Art Justis is quoted by the World:

"It boils down to the fact that I really don't like either one of these men," he said. "It's not that they ask questions, it's the way they do it. They're power-hungry and are looking to upset a process that works well."

The only hunger for power I see is on the other side of the argument. Does the process work well? It may have been working well for Mr. Justis's campaign contributors, but his constituents didn't seem to think it worked well, nor did a majority of the voters in a majority of the Council districts. That's why we wound up with a majority on the Council challenging the process for the first time ever.

The recall is not a popular uprising against corrupt or incompetent public officials. The recall is the city establishment trying desperately to cling on to the power they've been misusing for decades.

As I mentioned, there's another Tulsa blogger who was targeted with a nastygram by the Tulsa World -- City Councilor Chris Medlock, who is also the target of a recall petition which was filed today. Chris responds to the World's threats here.

The thing that is most interesting isn't that the World has decided to protect what they view to be copyrighted material, but rather the timing of their inquiry. Some of you may still want to cling to your illusions that our paper of record is the unbiased and free press formed by your hours of watching "Lou Grant" rather than doing your homework. However, this paper is locally owned and quite willing to use its influence to make or destroy those in our community the Lorton's like or detest, in that order.

To send this letter right in advance of the deadline for the filing of the recall petitions convinces this public servant (complete with Target logo on the back of all of my suits and sweaters) that our morning paper wants to hamstring our ability to comment on their obvious bias.

He goes on to point out (and link to) evidence that the pro-recall Coalition for Responsible Government is using entire stories and photographs from the World without any indication of permission.

He's got two other new entries up on his blog, about the political situation.

  • His thoughts on the filing of the recall petitions.
  • Chris answers the question, "Are you unemployed?" Nope, he's working full-time as a councilor, a job that pays less than $18,000 a year.

Tulsa is blessed to have a Councilor possessed of such intelligence and good humor, someone who loves the city enough to forgo a higher salary and devote himself to public service.

If you want to contribute or participate in the opposition to the recall, visit the website of Tulsans for Election Integrity, the official recall opposition group.

Recall petitions filed

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This morning at 9:30, the Coalition for Responsible Government 2004 filed supporting petitions for the recall of Councilors Jim Mautino and Chris Medlock. According to the City Charter, the City Clerk now has 20 days to certify that the petitions are sufficient, after which CfRG would have an additional 10 days to gather additional signatures should they fall short of the number needed. The City Clerk then has five more days to report to the Council, and at that point if there are sufficient signatures, the Council must call an election at the earliest date permitted by state law, which means no sooner than 60 days, and then only on certain Tuesdays each month -- it looks like the recall election would be in June.

To read more about the recall, here's the category archive on the topic.

Whirled threatens linkers

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Councilor Chris Medlock has received a nastygram from John R. Bair, Vice President of the Tulsa Whirled, alleging that Medlock has intentionally infringed the Whirled's copyright by reproducing articles in whole or in part and by linking to Whirled articles without authorization. The Whirled demands that Medlock "cease and desist" immediately; if not, the Whirled will take legal action to enforce its copyright and will seek damages.

This is a blatant effort at intimidation, and the Whirled doesn't have a legal leg to stand on.

Providing a link to content on the web does not constitute a violation of copyright because no copying has taken place. I've been amused (but complimented) to get requests for permission to link to BatesLine. My usual reply is, "That's what it's there for."

Here's a link to a summary of a court case on this topic. The judge concluded that no copyright violation had occurred because there was no copying involved:

[Judge] Hupp went on to describe the process of hypertext linking: "The customer is automatically transferred to the particular genuine Web page of the original author. There is no deception in what is happening. This is analogous to using a library's card index to get reference to particular items, albeit faster and more efficiently."

Such hypertext linking, therefore, does not involve the reproduction, distribution or preparation of copies or derivative works. Nor does such linking constitute a "…display [of] the copyrighted work publicly…," as the web page called up by the user is the original web page created by the author.

Saying, "Go here and read this idiotic editorial by David Averill," does not violate any intellecutal property law, unless the Whirled has trademarked the phrase "idiotic editorial by David Averill."

Quoting from an article for the purpose of commenting on it is within the notion of fair use of copyrighted material. Stanford has extensive information on what constitutes fair use and how the courts have ruled in the past. The fair use exemption exists in the interest of public debate and discourse -- otherwise, a publisher or author could freeze out effective criticism by denying permission to a critic. And that's exactly what the Whirled appears to be attempting.

It's interesting that the letter did not come from the law firm that represents the Whirled, which suggests that they know they haven't a leg to stand on and are simply trying to throw a scare into Medlock. "Rage, rage against the dying of the light."

Averill waste of newsprint

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Bobby of Tulsa Topics alerted me to David Averill's front-page op-ed in Sunday's Tulsa Whirled.

A full fisking of Averill's nonsense will have to wait, but I have to point this much out: For months, the Whirled has been saying we have to get rid of the Reform Alliance city councilors because elected officials in neighboring cities don't like them and their determination to serve the City of Tulsa's needs first. Now that state legislators representing Tulsa's suburbs have spoken in opposition to the recall and in support of Councilors Medlock and Mautino, Averill is claiming that they are doing so in pursuit of a hidden agenda to keep Tulsa in turmoil and drive growth and development to the suburbs.

It's hard for me to imagine Fred Perry and John Wright, Nancy Riley and Randy Brogdon, Rex Duncan and Scott Pruitt, all sitting around in a dank, smoke-filled room, plotting to destroy Tulsa and boost the suburbs by propping up controversial councilors.

(By the way, Mr. Averill, check your facts: Randy Brogdon was Mayor of Owasso. Rodney Ray is the city manager of Owasso and has been for years.)

So tell me again, Mr. Averill, is it good or is it bad that officials in neighboring towns like our City Councilors?

I can't resist picking one more piece of low-hanging fruit from Averill's screed:

Every time they act to make zoning reclassifications more difficult — as they’ve done with a proposed City Charter change — they limit the chances for redevelopment that is so critical to Tulsa’s future.

The proposed City Charter change, which will be on the ballot in April, doesn't make anything more difficult than it should already be. It restores a protection for property values that is enshrined in the Oklahoma statutes and that was approved, not by our current bunch of "radicals," but years ago under the old city commission form of government. A deliberate misreading of the charter by the City Attorney's office -- saying that the requirement of a majority vote precludes imposing a supermajority in special cases -- has forced the Council to propose a charter change to restore this important safeguard against arbitrary and capricious zoning changes.

The Council voted unanimously in support of placing the proposal on the ballot, although the "Bought and Paid Four" spent a lot of energy arguing that it should not be placed on the same ballot as the bond issue. Brad Colvard of Homeowners for Fair Zoning pointed out to the Council that the charter change proposal will actually help passage of the bond issue, because it represents a promise made and kept by the City Councilors and the Mayor, all of whom expressed a desire to remedy the situation nearly a year ago.

More rebuttal later.

Recall racism

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Last night I was given a copy of the latest edition of The Tulsa Tribunal. You'll recall that a couple of weeks ago a four-page tabloid by that name was sent to homes in Tulsa City Council District 2, aimed at getting voters in the district angry enough to sign a recall petition against Councilor Chris Medlock. (You can find links to images of that paper here.)

Now the Citizens for Reprehensible Government have blanketed Council District 6 with an edition aimed at smearing Councilor Jim Mautino. I understand that the District 6 version was delayed because, after the District 2 edition went out, the Tulsa City Attorney's office sent a "cease and desist" letter to the recall pushers, telling them they were not authorized to use the city's seal on their campaign material, which also featured the Great Seal of the State of Oklahoma on the banner. (Then-Councilor Anna Falling got considerable heat for using the City Council seal in connection with her privately-organized curbside recycling pilot program.) The already-printed District 6 papers had to be destroyed and a new edition printed, sans seals.

Like the anti-Medlock version, the anti-Mautino version uses Tulsa Whirled photographs without credit and without permission. Most of the same articles are there, and in some cases it looks like they just did a find-and-replace to insert Mautino's name. They even recycle the bizarre "councilor in a Columbine trenchcoat" attack that they used against Chris Medlock, although they dropped the sly Mein Kampf reference.

The most interesting addition is the article focusing on the connection between Councilor Mautino and his fellow freshman, Councilor Jack Henderson. Henderson is also part of the Reform Alliance majority (AKA "Gang of Five"), and has worked closely with Mautino and the rest of the Council majority to work for needed reforms. I'm inclined to think that it's a hopeful thing when a conservative Republican white councilor and a liberal Democrat black councilor, from different parts of the city, can find common ground and work together for the common good of their constituents and the city as a whole.

The Tulsa Tribunal disagrees. The article paints Jack Henderson, former head of the local NAACP chapter, as a "rabble-rousing community organizer for many years, keeping a high profile for his attacks on the Tulsa Police Department and any other public organization that he could accuse of racism." They depict Mautino and Henderson as teaming up to block Tulsa's progress. The accompanying photo shows Henderson and Mautino smiling together outside the City Council meeting room.

What does this tell us about the thinking of the pro-recall bunch? The unavoidable conclusion is that the pro-recall forces believe that the residents of east Tulsa (historically a predominantly white, blue-collar area) are racist hayseeds who will be shocked and appalled that their city councilor has teamed up with "some uppity knee-grow."

It's also evident from the way they describe him that the pro-recall forces themselves regard Jack Henderson as someone who "doesn't know his place." While I disagree with Jack on many issues, I honor his persistent efforts to make sure the concerns of the African-American community in Tulsa receive the attention they deserve. Every part of Tulsa needs a councilor willing to stand up for the interests of his own constituents. And I admire the way he stands fast with his allies on the Council in the face of the sustained attacks against them.

The latest Tulsa Tribunal is the latest evidence of a pattern: What we are witnessing is the collapse into incoherence of a city establishment that is out of ideas, out of energy, and out of control, but is unwilling to be out of power. Some might call it a Götterdammerung -- the twilight of the gods -- but it reminds me more of the demise of Rumpelstiltskin.

Tulsa Tribunal hits the east side

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Just got word from Mom and Dad that they received the Jim Mautino edition of the Tulsa Tribunal in the mail today. Mom said it was disgusting, and if it's at all like the edition from a couple of weeks ago targeting Mautino's fellow City Councilor, Chris Medlock, I can well imagine.

Medlock has posted images of his Tribunal on his blog -- pages 1 and 4, page 2, and page 3. It's all smear tactics, but I'm especially appalled by the "news analysis" on page 4 that calls Chris "the Councilor in a Columbine Trenchcoat." The name suggests that, like the bitter outcast teens who murdered 12 of their fellow students and one teacher before killing themselves, Medlock is a self-loathing sociopath, a loser and a loner, filled with envy, bent on destroying anyone more successful than himself. The same article slyly suggests he may dream of writing "My Struggle," which is the English translation of Mein Kampf, the title of the book Hitler wrote before his rise to power.

Those of us who know Chris and consider ourselves his friends (and there are lots of us) know that he is gregarious, quick with a joke, and unafraid to poke fun at himself. He has put his career on hold out of a desire to devote himself to public service.

I was just talking to a neighbor about the recall and its chances for success. In the process, I just about convinced myself that the secretive recall backers will consider the effort a success even if it falls short at the ballot box. Their aim is to put public officials and their families under such emotional pressure that they will choose either to play ball with the special interest groups or won't bother to run at all. Keep praying for Jim Mautino and Chris Medlock and their families, and pray that when someday they've had enough, other men and women of intestinal fortitude will step forward to take their places.

Below, I've updated the entry about Friday's press conference of Republican officials opposed to the recall, to include the names of additional anti-recall elected officials. You can read Chris Medlock's comments on the press conference here.

Tulsa Today ties it all together

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Tulsa Today publisher David Arnett ties together all the threads -- the recall, the Great Plains Airlines mess, various zoning controversies, and the Chamber's use of economic development funds -- in one massive article. Worth a read.

I drove through the snow to be at Tulsa County Republican Headquarters at noon today for a press conference announcing the opposition of 14 Republican elected officials to the effort to recall Tulsa City Councilors Jim Mautino and Chris Medlock from office. The parking lot was full, and the room was packed with the public officials as well as the entire Republican Central Committee and many leading Republican activists.

In the room to speak against the recall were Mayor Bill LaFortune, State Senators Randy Brogdon, Brian Crain, and Jim Williamson, State Representatives Rex Duncan, Fred Perry, and Dan Sullivan, and City Councilor Sam Roop. Unable to attend, but indicating their opposition were State Senators Mike Mazzei, Scott Pruitt, and Nancy Riley, and State Representatives Dennis Adkins, Pam Peterson, and John Smaligo. Councilors Medlock and Mautino were also present.

(UPDATE: Chris Medlock's website additionally lists State Representatives Sue Tibbs, John Trebilcock, and John Wright as opponents of the recall. Altogether, that's the entire Republican legislative delegation from Tulsa County, with the exception of Mark Liotta, Ron Peters, Ron Peterson, and Chris Hastings. I'm inclined to think Liotta's name was inadvertently omitted.)

I took sketchy notes. Everyone made the point that no matter whether you agree with the councilors on every issue, the accusations against them aren't worthy of negating the vote of the people. Here are some highlights:

Sen. Brogdon said the backers of the recall should stop it immediately, calling the effort "selfish" and "destructive." His opposition to recall is especially noteworthy, since he was mayor of Owasso, a suburb that has been at the center of the criticism of the Council majority over annexation, extension of water lines, and suburban water rates.

Sen. Crain said of Councilors Medlock and Mautino that they are "voting in good conscience, voting their morals and ethics and values."

Freshman Rep. Dan Sullivan (no relation to non-Councilor Randy or Congressman John) said what we have at City Hall right now is healthy debate. "We need people who are willing to ask questions, not people afraid they'll be recalled if they ask questions."

Rep. Duncan, also a freshman, and representing the western suburbs of Tulsa, called the recall "nonsense -- the kind of nonsense that keeps people from seeking public office."

Councilor Roop called the recall "very un-American and very anti-community."

Republican Vice Chairman Brigitte Harper concluded by painting a vivid image of the "people who have been in charge for a very long time." Now that they have lost control of the City Council, they "want to take their toys and go home."

It was an impressive show of unity, although Republican Councilors Bill Christiansen and Susan Neal, and Republican non-Councilor Randy Sullivan were conspicuous by their absence.

During Q&A, KRMG's Marshall Stewart asked whether the recall issue was really partisan. The Mayor allowed GOP chairman Don Burdick to field the question. Burdick said that the Democratic Party isn't involved in supporting the recall, but that the likely outcome, if the two Republican councilors are removed by a recall vote, is that they would be replaced by the two Democrat former councilors they defeated last March, because a majority of the remaining councilors would appoint someone to fill the vacancies, overthrowing the result of the previous election.

Friday was the monthly luncheon of the Tulsa County Republican Men's Club. My wife Mikki and Dawn Eden came along with me. The focus of the program was a preview of the upcoming legislative session, with brief remarks by each of nine state legislators that were present. I was a bit concerned that our guest might find the program a bit dull, but Dawn said she found it very interesting and encouraging to hear about the reforms the Republican legislators propose. I'm sure she was encouraged to hear about plans to pass a "trigger law" -- a law to ban abortion in Oklahoma that would be made effective -- triggered -- if Roe v. Wade is ever overturned.

The surprise highlight was a statement by Mayor Bill LaFortune at the conclusion of the meeting. He again emphatically stated his opposition to the recall of Councilors Chris Medlock and Jim Mautino. He announced that he would be organizing a press conference for the following Friday, and inviting and encouraging all Republican elected officials to join him in publicly announcing their opposition to the recall.

LaFortune also spoke about outgoing Tulsa Metro Chamber Chairman Bob Poe, who ripped the City Council majority once again, while praising the Mayor, in an ungracious swan song earlier in the week. LaFortune said that Poe was going around behind the scenes trying to stir up the business community against him, and that Poe, a lifelong Democrat, praised LaFortune in his speech as a way of alienating the Mayor from the Republican grassroots and weakening him politically for his re-election bid.

These are encouraging developments. I only wish the press conference were being held on a day when more people are likely to be watching the evening news and reading the paper the following day. People tend to detach from the news on the weekends, and if folks don't see the video and read the story in the paper when it happens, it will be as if it didn't happen.

(Mr. Mayor, if I've gotten any details or nuances wrong, feel free to put a press release out on your website, and I'll be happy to link to it.)

The Mayor also expressed support for bringing the jail back under the man who was elected to run the jail, Sheriff Stanley Glanz. As a member of the Tulsa County Criminal Justice Authority, the Mayor has a say in who will get the jail contract.

The Tulsa Whirled reported today that City Council Chairman Randy Sullivan does not live in the district he was elected to represent. While he is still registered to vote at the home of his wife, which is in the district, he has, since December 2003, when his wife apparently gave him the boot, been living in a condominium at 37th & Riverside Drive, in Council District 9, which is represented by Susan Neal.

Randy Sullivan seems to have a problem with the idea of geographical representation. You will recall that Randy was wooed in a hot tub by former Tulsa City Councilor John Benjamin (now a resident of Bixby) to run against Todd Huston, then the councilor for District 8, in the 2002 election. Later Randy discovered that he did not live in District 8, but was in District 7. It was that kind of alertness to public affairs that made him the ideal choice for the Tulsa Whirled's endorsement. The last thing they want on the Council is someone devoted to promoting the interests of the people who elected him. Someone ignorant of the district he represents must be nearly perfect in their eyes. The Council is supposed to be doing their bidding, dadgum it!

On December 1, 2003, Randy Sullivan was apparently asked to remove himself from his place of residence. His district offers a number of residential options, but perhaps he is not that familiar with the district. There are many apartment complexes of varying cost. There are many homes, some of which are for sale. There are a few hotels and inns. There are even condominiums. Surely, if he staying in the district mattered to him he could have found a way to make it work.

Why did he choose to move out of the district?

Sullivan, 48, said he chose the location instead of one in his district because it is close to River Parks, where he likes to exercise.

So what can be done about it? The Whirled story says that the City Charter doesn't require Councilors to be residents, and indeed the Charter only requires (Article 6, Section 7) that a Councilor must have been a qualified elector of the district 90 days prior to filing for office.

So why do I say Sullivan is no longer a City Councilor? State law is quite clear.

No time to write much today, but I will call your attention to the recall thread over on the TulsaNow forums, which has more info on those out-of-state phone calls soliciting signatures for the recall petitions and a tabloid smear called the "Tulsa Tribunal". In that same thread, Medlock responds to the false charge, contained in the "Tribunal," that he opposed what led to the OSU-Tulsa. In fact, as a student leader, he opposed a foolish name change (from University Center of Tulsa to University Consortium of Tulsa) that also would have locked in the consortium concept -- a messy mix of colleges with no clear lines of responsibility -- for the forseeable future. He also fought to give students at UCT the same rights and status as students on the home campuses of the UCT schools.

The aim of the tabloid is to soften people up and make 'em angry enough to want to sign a petition. That tells me that the public relations offensive, fierce as it has been, hasn't been successful at convincing voters that the removal of these councilors cannot wait until the next election.

The tactic won't work for savvy voters, but people who are old-fashioned enough to depend entirely on the Tulsa Whirled and KRMG for their local news won't know any better, although even they might be put off by this over-the-top production.

Will the Tulsa Whirled publish a fair and critical examination of the material contained in this tabloid? Don't bet on it.

Dialing for detractors

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I'm getting reports that the pro-recall forces are using an out-of-state telemarketing firm to solicit signatories for their petitions to oust Tulsa City Councilors Jim Mautino and Chris Medlock. Over on the TulsaNow forums, rwarn17588 writes:

I got a call from a flunkie Monday who's said he's calling on behalf of the Chris Medlock recall effort. My caller ID said it was "unavailable," but after some quizzing he admitted he was calling from outside the Tulsa area. It was pretty obvious he was reading from a script, and reading it badly.

He asked me whether it was OK to send a volunteer out to my house so I could sign a petition on the recall. I replied that I wanted to see the petition and information in writing. He said he couldn't do that. I said, "Well, why not? You can just tell the folks where you're working to mail it to me so I can look it over." He then came clean that he couldn't do that, as he was "far away" and that he was a hired phone jockey for the recall organization. I didn't give my permission to send someone over, but I said I'd consider it. (Gotta keep the lines of communication open for information purposes, even though I'm notoriously hard on telemarketers. I bust their chops, interrogate 'em, and then cuss 'em when they don't tell the truth. I had one who was audibly frustrated and another who hung up on *me.*)

He said he'd call back later in the week. I'll report back if I find out anything new.

Another report, by e-mail:

I answered the phone last night and was greeted by a young woman's voice stating that she was calling on behalf of the Coalition for Responsible Government. Since we live in Councilor Chris Medlock's council district, I asked if she was soliciting my wife and my signatures on a petition to recall Councilor Medlock. When she responded affirmatively, I politely declined on behalf of both myself and my wife [name deleted] who also supports Chris's efforts to cleanup Tulsa's government.

Today, another representative of the same group called our home, again
soliciting our signatures on the recall petition. Judging by the sounds of the voices on the other end of the phone, these are young persons, probably students, making these calls. I would be much more impressed if the "business leaders" behind this recall were dirtying their own hands to solicit the signatures and kept an accurate list of those declining to sign.

It's not surprising that the Coalition for Reprehensible Government 2004 would hire a telemarketing company, as they have plenty of money to spend. I'm surprised that they haven't -- well, I won't say; don't want to give them any ideas.

If you happen to get such a call, it might be interesting to tell them yes, just to see what will happen next.

UPDATE: One of the calls went to a trained stenographer, and Chris Medlock has the transcript.

My blogging has been hindered by the comatose condition of my laptop, but Tulsa City Councilor Chris Medlock is blogging up a storm.

He relates the story of an effort, in the previous council term, by him and then-Councilor Joe Williams to set up a future growth task force, an idea that gained the support of six of the nine councilors. Here was the rationale behind the idea:

Tulsa's growth could no longer run unabated to the southeast because we were now hemmed in by Bixby and Broken Arrow. As such, the City of Tulsa was going to have to find new areas for growth. Areas that were less appealing for numerous reasons (geographic, geological, demographic, etc.) than the suburbs. Therefore, strategies and plans needed to be devised to compete with market forces that would serve to build up the suburbs and cause Tulsa growth to stagnate.

An idea the city needed to pursue -- how do we keep Tulsa growing and competitive with the suburbs? Why didn't it happen? It had the support of Mayor LaFortune -- initially, anyway:

However, the Mayor didn't want to alienate any councilors and was troubled by the opposition being expressed by Councilors Christiansen, Justis and Sullivan. If I couldn't get at least eight councilors to sign on, the Mayor (I was told minutes before a joint press conference announcing the initiative) would withdraw his support.

Please note that I had six councilors lined up in support, which is more than enough to form a council driven task force while over-riding a possible veto. However, new as I was, I realized that in a strong Mayor form of government, any task force created would be only an advisory panel. As such, it would be far less effective, due in part to the fact that it would be more difficult to lure participation from the business community. Developer cooperation was essential if the task force was to have validity.

The ultimate source of the opposition, which kept the Mayor from endorsing the task force, was an organization with a vested interest in making the City of Tulsa a rotten place to live, so you'll want to buy their new houses in the suburbs. After all, if you're happy with your neighborhood, you might stay and they don't make any money. This weekend we learned that that organization is actively supporting the recall.

Someone asked me recently what it would take for the Mayor to regain the confidence of grassroots Tulsans. I said he'd have to be willing to make some tough decisions that will necessarily inflict pain on some very powerful vested interests that are standing in the way of constructive solutions to long-standing problems and conflicts. For too long, he's made a habit of kissing what he should be kicking. If he doesn't want to be a one-termer, LaFortune has to stand up to the likes of Bob Poe and Jay Clemens of the Tulsa Metro Chamber and Josh Fowler of the Home Builders Association, and make decisions that will benefit Tulsa even if it makes them very angry.

Medlock also answers the question, "Are you a terrorist?" in response to the accusation of recall misleader Jon Davidson.

Yesterday's Whirled reported that more members of the Coalition of Reprehensible Government 2004 have emerged from the shadows. (Article here, jump page here.)

A partial membership list was released Friday by a group of primarily business people who are pushing to recall City Councilors Chris Medlock and Jim Mautino.

The list from the Coalition for Responsible Government 2004 reveals no individual names but includes several business associations, a few businesses and references to other commercial industries.

The councilors and their supporters have criticized the group for not revealing its membership.

“Obviously we aren’t going to list individual names because of the terrorist tactics the councilors have taken against individuals. It’s those very tactics that spurred the recall,” coalition chairman Jon Davidson said.

This is contemptible and Davidson should have to apologize. I know the families of two victims of real terrorist tactics, and it's an insult to the memories of real victims of terror to throw such terminology around loosely. If you want to register your objections with Davidson's employer, here's a link to the info you need.

So what groups are involved?

The list released Friday includes the Greater Tulsa Association of Realtors, the Home Builders Association of Greater Tulsa and the Associated Builders and Contractors of Oklahoma.

Davidson said leadership boards are speaking for those organizations, which represent about 4,400 individuals.

“Certainly, a majority of the membership are in support of the recall,” he said.

Other businesses named by the coalition are Ameristar Fencing Products, owned by Edward Gibbs, and D.L.V. Enterprises, owned by Doug Vincent.

Davidson said the membership also includes representatives of the hospitality industry, the banking industry and the manufacturing sector, as well as dozens of individuals and smaller businesses.

This is interesting: An attempt to borrow the credibility of businesses who refuse to be named.

Those associations include a lot of members, and I'll bet the membership was never consulted. If you know members of those organizations, you might call and ask if the board speaks for them on this issue, and if not, encourage them to register their objection with those organizations and to make their objection public.

You can go here to find members of the Associated Builders and Contractors of Oklahoma -- select Oklahoma on the state pulldown menu and you'll get the list of 315 members. The Home Builders Association membership list is here. Greater Tulsa Association of Realtors doesn't have a membership list, but I assume that any Realtor in the area is automatically a member -- there are over 2000 Realtors with a Tulsa address.

More from the City Councilors

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Tulsa City Councilor Chris Medlock has posted his second in a series of Frequently Asked (or Insinuated) Questions: "Are you anti-growth?" He raises the point that the city needs to be pursuing and facilitating quality infill development, which makes better use of existing infrastructure than greenfield expansion. He says that to be competitive as a core city, Tulsa needs to be able to offer what the suburbs can't:

What the suburbs have to sell is “new,” “modern” and “safer.” If Tulsa is to thrive as a core city, then we must begin to leverage what Tulsa has to offer. Proximity to the work place, older homes in stable neighborhoods with mature trees and curbs and shopping experiences that can’t be found in the suburbs.

With regard to the proposed north Tulsa County annexation, he points out that it would take to provide that 23 square mile area with the infrastructure it would need. He doesn't say, but I'm sure he knows, that we are still in the process of providing basic infrastructure to the land in the city annexed in 1966, when Tulsa tripled in land area -- most of our first five third-penny packages were devoted to upgrading county roads to city arterials and implementing federal wastewater mandates, and we're still far from done.

Meanwhile, Councilor Jim Mautino has updated his personal website with comments on the recall attempt targeting him and Councilor Medlock:

Why are these individuals attacking us at this time? Quite simply, five city councilors representing the people’s interest are asking some hard questions about the status quo and whether it is truly serving the public’s interest . The answers being received are pointing out deficiencies with Tulsa’s government and the identification of special interests that have been profiting from your tax dollars for years. Obviously they are upset at the possibility their dealings are in the process of being disrupted. For that reason, we are now engaged in this recall process.

The recall process for any elected official in Tulsa is quite simple and the threshold required to actually affect our government is extremely light. For that reason, it is important we all take this affront to our representation seriously and individually participate in stopping the recall process presently underway. See my formal response to the recall petition at Reply to Recall. Call and join with me in resisting the tyranny of special interests who wish to reverse Tulsans’ first choices of Councilors for their districts.

And Councilor Mautino has set up his own blog here. A blog is an awfully handy, low-maintenance means to put out occasional press releases or comments.

(Hat tip to Bobby Holt for the pointer to Councilor Mautino's updated site.)

The latest Urban Tulsa includes a lengthy article on the struggle between the City Council's "Gang of Five" and the city establishment. The reporter, Michael Duffy, did a thorough job, and he presents quotes from interviews with City Councilors Jim Mautino and Chris Medlock, Whirled editorial page editor Ken Neal, pro-recall Homebuilders Association lobbyist Josh Fowler, anti-recall campaign chairman Rick Westcott, and former City Councilor Darla Hall, along with coverage of the December 17th Council hearing on the reappointment of Jim Cameron and Lou Reynolds to Tulsa's water board and the joint press conference the same day announcing the opposition to the recall of the Tulsa County Republican Party, the League of Women Voters of Metropolitan Tulsa, and the local chapter of the NAACP. Anyone wondering "What's the deal with the City Council?" would get a good overview by reading this piece.

I hope this article is an indication that Urban Tulsa plans to devote more column inches and resources to covering local politics. Some resources devoted to copy-editing would be useful, too: The article mangles some website addresses (it's www.tulsagop.org, not www.gop.org, and there should be a .com at the end of Chris Medlock's blog address), and it refers to KFAQ as a "Christian radio station" -- it's a secular, but faith-friendly, talk radio station.

In the same issue is Barry Friedman's humorous look back at Tulsa's 2004, and an article by Gretchen Collins about retail growth in Owasso and Broken Arrow.

A statement issued yesterday from the League of Women Voters of Metropolitan Tulsa:

LEAGUE OF WOMEN VOTERS OF METROPOLITAN TULSA

AN OPINION REGARDING RECALL OF ELECTED OFFICIALS

MARY JO NEAL, PRESIDENT

The League of Women Voters (LWVMT) has a long and proud history of supporting representative government in Tulsa. We studied and advocated Charter change from Commission to Mayor/Council representative government for 35 years (1954-1989). Therefore, the League’s Board of Directors is concerned about the current recall process and its consequences for maintaining the integrity of representative government.

The LWVMT absolutely supports the concept of citizens being able to recall elected officials. Accordingly, the LWVMT has researched matters relevant to the recall process. While the Charter authorizes the process, it does not specify reasons for recall. We believe there should be reasons consistent with state law. We also believe that the charter makes it much too easy for people, who do not even have to be constituents of a district, to initiate a recall for a councilor who is democratically elected to represent a district. -- this is clearly inconsistent with the representative form of government.

Therefore, the LWVMT urges community leaders to do everything in their power to resolve the conflict before it becomes any more destructive. Our reasons include:

Oklahoma law (Title 51, Section 93) requires that ouster of an elected municipal official must be for one of the following causes: "willful failure or neglect to perform the duties of office; public intoxication; conviction for any offense constituting a violation of a penal statute involving moral turpitude." We have heard of no allegations of such conduct by any councilor.

The Charter does not require cause for the recall of a duly elected official. This is a defect that the LWVMT would like to work with others to correct. (Ironically, the charter does require that Oklahoma statutes be followed if an appointed member of the Airport Authority or the Utility Board is to be recalled -- but not for democratically elected officials.)

A second defect in the process is that the Charter does not require that a recall be initiated by citizens of the district. This is inconsistent with principles of representative government. If any councilor’s constituents are not satisfied with that councilor's performance, there will be an opportunity to "recall" that councilor in the next General Election.

The Charter of the City of Tulsa (Article VI, Section 8, D.) states: "If a vacancy shall occur in the office of a Councilor less than one (1) year) prior to the next General Election, the Council, by a majority vote of the membership of the Council shall appoint a qualified elector of the election district in which the vacancy exists to fill the vacancy for the remainder of the unexpired term." This effectively disenfranchises the residents of that district. Only if the recall election occurs before March 12, 2005, may the City Council call a special election.

From our perspective, if the recall petition process continues:

If successful, the possibility of one or more lawsuits could well delay a recall election beyond the next General Election. The process, therefore, would be a waste of time, energy and money for all parties. We should all be working together to unite our city instead of exacerbating the dispute.

Permanent and inappropriate damage to the reputation of elected officials on the basis of policy disagreements can set a precedent the city may not wish to establish.

It will become very difficult to attract qualified persons to seek election as city councilors for fear of attacks by a few who may not like a position or vote which that councilor might take.

We should be concentrating our efforts positively on healing the divisions in the community and working toward resolving the problems we face. Economic development and comprehensive land use planning need to be addressed in ways we have yet to work out. The seriousness of these issues deserves the community's attention and should not be diverted by the divisive recall process.

The League stands ready to assist the community in bringing this crisis to an agreeable conclusion.

A reader has spotted two more invalid signatures on the recall petition against Chris Medlock -- Larmon and Jo Lawson of 5739 S 38th West Ave. The address is outside the city limits; between 37th West Ave and 41st West Ave, the north side of 57th Street is in the city limits, the south side (where the above address is) is outside. (It might actually be in Sapulpa since that town's annexation of Town West.)

At the very least, the City Clerk should verify that the signers meet the charter requirement -- they reside and are registered to vote in the targeted councilor's election district.

A few more recall notes

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Interesting name at the very end of the recall petition against Jim Mautino: Mary E. Hill is a member of the Tulsa Metropolitan Area Planning Commission.

I asked, half in jest, whether the City would be as diligent in validating the recall petition signatures as they were in validating the protest petition signatures in the 71st and Harvard case. The Tulsa Whirled reported on Thursday (jump page here) that City Clerk Mike Kier isn't sure he should be validating signatures on the preliminary petition, because while the City Charter explicitly requires validation for the supporting petition, the charter is silent about validation of the preliminary petition. The charter does however require that the preliminary petition "must contain the signatures of qualified electors residing in the election district involved equal in number to ten percent (10%) of all those voting in that election district for the affected office in the preceding general election." There's an implied responsibility to determine that the criteria have been met -- that the signatures are in fact those of qualified electors, that the electors reside in the election district, and that the number is sufficient. Otherwise what stops me from filing a list of 250 bogus names and starting the recall process against another councilor? Is it fair to put a councilor and his family through the pressure and grief of a recall -- and to put the whole city through the distraction -- if there isn't enough genuine support even to support a preliminary petition?

Someone perusing the District 2 preliminary recall petition list notes Mark Weiss on the list, address 1008 E. 19th. There's one invalid signature -- that area was in District 2 from 1991 to 2001, and is now in District 4. The list also has two Bobbitts at 4313 E 5th -- that's in District 4 as well -- two more bad signatures.

Below is a list of those who signed the recall petition against Tulsa City Councilor Jim Mautino. This list is a matter of public record and public interest, to get a sense of who supports the recall effort, and to allow the public to review the list for invalid names, invalid addresses, and unauthorized signatures. You might scan through the list, and if you see a name of a friend or acquaintance, you might verify with the person whether he actually signed it.

Keep in mind that this is a transcription of signatures and handwritten addresses, so there may be some errors. If you find one, let me know.

Will the City be as stringent about the signatures on these recall petitions as they were about the signatures on the 71st and Harvard zoning protest petition?

Even if the recalls ultimately fail, they will have served a purpose for the Cockroach Caucus. Good, reform-minded Tulsans will decide not to run for City Council for fear of facing the treatment that these good councilors are now receiving.

If the rumors are true that Steve Turnbo, Margaret Erling, and the Lortons had significant financial interests in Great Plains Airlines, then the timing of this PR blitz and the filing of the petitions against two of the Councilors who supported the airport investigation is very curious. The Council's investigating committee's report is due out this Thursday. Remember that the committee subpoenaed ownership records for Great Plains Airlines, so we may be learning on Thursday who stood to benefit financially from the illegal deal to subsidize the airline from airport funds. The recall effort seems extremely well timed to distract from what may be very bad news for those who have been active in orchestrating the recall.

We still don't know who the backers of the recall are, and whether they even live in the City of Tulsa. That list of 25 or so committee members has never been released. John Benjamin, a former Tulsa city councilor who now lives in Bixby, and a devotee of the Tulsa Metro Chamber, is going around town boasting that he's leading the effort. Benjamin recruited Randy Sullivan and Bill Christiansen to run for City Council. The head of the Tulsa Metro Chamber, which is pushing the recall behind the scenes, lives in Broken Arrow. The executive director of the Home Builders Association, which is supporting the recall, lives in Broken Arrow, and this year's president is based in Owasso.

Another interesting timing coincidence -- the filing comes the day after the Mayor's veto (on the last possible day that he could veto) of the Economic Development Commission ordinance.

It appears that Channel 8 (KTUL) had a hot tip that the recall was going to be filed. Channel 8's GM, Pat Baldwin, is a Tulsa Metro Chamber board member and has traveled on Chamber junkets to exotic places like Hawaii. (Remember that your City of Tulsa hotel/motel tax dollars go to the Chamber for "economic development", which frees up Chamber money to pay for these junkets. Money is fungible.) You may recall that without warning he pulled the plug on Channel 8's airing of a Vision 2025 debate.

It is the height of selfishness for the special interests behind the recall to press this issue (1) during the holidays, (2) during the runup to a City bond issue, (3) and when there is no good reason not to wait until the next general election to make their case to the voters.

Keep Councilors Mautino and Medlock in your prayers, but pray for their families, too. These kinds of attacks are usually taken more to heart by wives and parents and children than by the public official himself. Pray for strength and encouragement, and offer some encouragement of your own.

The City of Tulsa charter says this (emphasis added) in Article VII, Section 2.1:

If the officer sought to be recalled was elected from an election district, a preliminary petition for recall of the elected officer must contain the signatures of qualified electors residing in the election district involved equal in number to ten percent (10%) of all those voting in that election district for the affected office in the preceding general election.

And in Section 3:

If the officer sought to be recalled was elected from an election district, supporting petitions to be sufficient must contain the signatures of qualified electors residing in the election district involved equal in number to twenty-five percent (25%) of all those voting in that election district for the affected office in the preceding general election.

When was the preceding general election? March 9, 2004.

How many people voted in the District 7 council race in that general election? 0; Randy Sullivan had primary opposition but was unopposed in the general.

How many people voted in the District 8 council race in that general election? 0; Bill Christiansen had primary opposition but was unopposed in the general.

What is 10% of 0? 0.

What is 25% of 0? 0.

How many signatures would it take to trigger a recall election against Randy Sullivan or Bill Christiansen? One each.

District 2 recall: Some who signed

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Some interesting names pop up on the District 2 recall petition:

  • Norma Eagleton, Democrat, former member of the Tulsa Airport Authority. She was on the airport authority when the apparently illegal deal to subsidize Great Plains Airlines was put together. Chris Medlock is a member of the Council committee investigating the airport; the committee's report is due out Thursday.
  • Darla Dean Hall, Democrat, former Councilor for District 2, and Medlock's opponent in both of his runs for office. She lost the 2004 election to Medlock by a vote of 1464 to 1021 -- Medlock got 59% of the vote, a near landslide. Darla Hall won only five precincts and one fragment of a precinct. Medlock won 13 precincts -- every precinct east of the river, and two large precincts west of the river. A story in the Tulsa County News (a westside paper) three weeks ago names Darla and her neighbor Billie Moseley as circulators of the petition. Darla's involvement in this scheme is disappointing. Once she was an advocate for neighborhoods -- a dependable vote for reason on controversial zoning issues. She opposed the Tulsa Project in 1997 and It's Tulsa Time in 2000 -- for the latter election, she and I appeared together on Channel 8 to speak against the proposed sales tax hike. The Tulsa Whirled regularly denounced her and endorsed her election opponents. Now she is doing the dirty work of the same bunch that tried to drive her from the Council. Is it just a lust to get back on the Council? Remember that she took campaign funds from F&M Bank Board members and a member of the planning commission. It looks like she's gone over to the dark side, sadly.
  • John Ogren. Ogren is a retired City employee and was Medlock's opponent in the Republican primary for City Council District 2 this year. He lost the primary by 1134 votes to 328. Another case of sour grapes, apparently.
  • Keep in mind that we don't know what the petition circulators told people in an effort to get these people to sign. We have heard reports that people were told that Medlock wanted people outside the city to pay lower water rates than Tulsans, when in fact he has asked whether outside customers are paying enough.

    I have also heard that westside pride may be involved, that some of the petition circulators were arguing that the westside deserved its own City Councilor, despite the fact that more than half the population of Council District 2 now lives east of the river. In fact, in this year's election, 1,242 votes were cast west of the river, 1,243 were cast east of the river. Darla Hall got only 23% of the vote east of the river. 41% of the voters west of the river, in Darla's home turf, were content to have Chris Medlock, from east of the river, represent them at City Hall.

    As soon as I can get my hands on it, I'll do a similar analysis of the District 6 petition.

    If the petitioners take the full 60 days to collect signatures on Medlock and Mautino, the recall election would not occur until May. If the recall vote succeeds, it would be too late to hold a special election to fill the seat, and a majority of the remaining councilors would appoint replacements. With Mautino and Medlock gone, the "Bought and Paid Four" would have the majority and they would likely appoint Darla Hall and Art Justis, who are both helping to spearhead the recall effort, to fill the vacancies -- the very candidates who were defeated by Medlock and Mautino back in March. It would also mean that two elected Republicans would be replaced by two defeated Democrats.

    If you spot interesting (or bogus) names on the list, drop me a line at blog at batesline dot com. If we find 46 bogus names on the list, the petition fails for a lack of sufficient signatures. There are at least three names with addresses that are outside the district boundaries.

Text of District 2 reason for recall

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Here is the reason for recall submitted with the petition against Tulsa City Councilor Chris Medlock. I am told that the petition against Councilor Jim Mautino is identical except for the name. Note that the middle initial is wrong in the first sentence, correct in the final sentence:

PETITION TO RECALL

Christopher P. [sic] Medlock's performance as a city councilor in District 2 has been unsatisfactory and contrary to the best interests of the City of Tulsa in the following particulars:

1. Mr. Medlock has circumvented the spirit and intent of fair and public debate by the City Council as a member of the "gang of five" that without public notice pre-decides pending issues without benefit of public hearing or participation by the Council as a whole.

2. Mr. Medlock's statements and votes reflect lack of understanding of the charter provisions pertaining to the powers of the City Council and with disregard to the executive powers reserved to the Mayor.

3. Mr. Medlock's statements and votes have shown disrespect without factual basis for non-paid volunteers on various boards and commissions and he has refused to confirm appointments of the Mayor without statement of his reasons.

4. Mr. Medlock's statements and votes reflect a lack of understanding of the economic benefits to the City of Tulsa of traditional working relationships with surrounding communities and he has significantly impaired such relationships.

5. Mr. Medlock's statements and votes reflect an anti-growth, anti-business agenda that has significantly impaired the economic health of the City.

We the undersigned citizens of City Council District 2, herein petition to recall Christopher S. Medlock as Councilor of District 2.

Below is a list of those who signed the recall petition against Tulsa City Councilor Chris Medlock. This list is a matter of public record and public interest, to get a sense of who supports the recall effort, and to allow the public to review the list for invalid names, invalid addresses, and unauthorized signatures. You might scan through the list, and if you see a name of a friend or acquaintance, you might verify with the person whether he actually signed it.

Preliminary petitions seeking the recall of Tulsa City Councilors Chris Medlock and Jim Mautino were filed today with the City Clerk's office. More details later. This is just the first phase of the process. You can find details on the recall process here.

It's interesting that this should come two days prior to the release of the findings of the Council's airport investigation. You don't suppose this is an attempt to distract from and discredit those findings?

Not entirely above board

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A revealing tidbit from yesterday's Tulsa Whirled story on the re-renomination of Jim Cameron and Lou Reynolds to the Tulsa Metropolitan Utility Authority (TMUA):

During Tuesday's interview, Henderson asked the men if they knew Herbert Haschke Jr., treasurer of the Coalition for Responsible Government 2004, which is conducting a recall effort against Medlock and Mautino.

Reynolds said he might have had legal dealings with him, and Cameron said Haschke did some estate planning for his father.

Henderson asked whether the men supported the recall effort. Reynolds said he was neutral about it, and Cameron never answered.

According to the records of the Oklahoma Secretary of State, Haschke and Reynolds are co-incorporators of "THE COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE ASSOCIATION OF TULSA, INC." Haschke and Cameron were co-incorporators of "IHCRC REALTY CORPORATION" -- IHCRC stands for Indian Health Care Resource Center, of which Jim Cameron is secretary of the Board of Directors. BatesLine reported this information a month ago (here and here).

Why did Cameron and Reynolds choose not to be open and direct about their dealings with Haschke? This is one more example of the refusal of these two men to be cooperative and forthcoming with the City Council, and one more reason why the Mayor should fulfill his commitment to name two other Tulsans to replace them on the TMUA.

Recall backers still in hiding

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Still no word as to that list of 25 or so members of the committee seeking to oust Tulsa City Councilors Jim Mautino and Chris Medlock. At this point, we only know of the two names that were required to be on the ethics filing for the Coalition for Responsible Government -- the chairman, Jon Davidson, and the treasurer, Herbert Haschke. Maybe the other 23 are figments of someone's imagination. Or maybe they've vanished since last Tuesday.

I credit Mayor Bill LaFortune's clear and public statement last Tuesday opposing the recall with slowing the momentum of the effort. I've heard that Tulsa Metro Chamber Chairman Bob Poe called the Mayor after his statement and asked angrily "What did you do that for?" I think the recall backers expected to start a war between the Mayor and the Council that would not only help them topple the Council majority, but would also damage the Mayor, which I think is part of this group's hidden agenda. Instead, the Mayor and the Councilors have affirmed the need to move forward together, particularly to ensure the passage of a critical bond issue in February.

I've heard that Jon Davidson is continuing to try to recruit support behind the scenes. He is the GM of the Sheraton Tulsa Hotel, part of Regency Hotel Management. Regency CEO David Sweet may not be aware that the GM of his Tulsa property is involved in a controversial campaign to depose popularly elected councilors and that his employee is on the opposite side of the issue from the Mayor of Tulsa. If you'd like to make Mr. Sweet aware of this, here is the contact information:

Mailing Address/Main Phone Numbers:
Regency Hotel Management
3211 W Sencore Drive
Sioux Falls, SD 57107
Phone: (605) 334-2371
Fax (605) 334-8480

Starwood, the company that licenses the Sheraton name, may also be interested in the potential impact of Davidson's actions on the goodwill that its brand enjoys among Tulsans. Here is the corporate contact information:

Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide, Inc.
1111 Westchester Avenue
White Plains, NY 10604
Phone (914) 640-8100
Fax (914) 640-8310

Investor Relations Contact
Dan Gibson
Senior Vice President, Corporate Affairs
Phone (914) 640-8100

Recall backers lay low

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Still haven't seen that list of 25 backers of the recall. Perhaps with the Mayor's public opposition to the recall, they aren't sure they want to come out publicly. Eventually they will be public, when the ethics reports are filed.

Word is that Jon Davidson, chairman of the pro-recall committee, is still soliciting funds and public endorsements for his misguided cause. I wonder if his bosses at Regency Hotel Management in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, know and approve of his involvement, much less leadership, of this campaign. You might want to let the Regency folks know how you feel -- your appreciation of Medlock and Mautino and your disappointment in the Sheraton Tulsa's involvement. Here's the contact info:

Mailing Address/Main Phone Numbers:
Regency Hotel Management
3211 W Sencore Drive
Sioux Falls, SD 57107
Phone: (605) 334-2371
Fax (605) 334-8480

There's also a form for e-mailing a note on the contact page of the website, but a fax or snail mail letter will probably be more effective.

Mayor opposes recall

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Thanks to Tulsa Mayor Bill LaFortune for speaking publicly and unequivocally in opposition to the effort to recall Councilors Jim Mautino and Chris Medlock. The Mayor spoke Tuesday at lunchtime at a press conference at the Fountains Restaurant, in front of the monthly luncheon of the Tulsa County Republican Women's Club with Mautino, Medlock, and Councilor Sam Roop. The Tulsa Whirled story (jump page here) quotes the Mayor at length. To the Whirled's credit, they put the story on the front page, albeit below the fold.

"It does not paint a true picture of the city of Tulsa," the mayor said at a news conference. "We, the citizens of Tulsa, have worked together to get where we are today. The recall hampers our efforts to find real solutions to the problems facing our city."

LaFortune said the city did not have time to spend on a protracted effort to recall the councilors.

"We do not need three, four or five months of argument," he said. "Instead, we should be using that time to work at City Hall to move Tulsa forward." ...

LaFortune said all members of the City Council "make decisions that they think are in the best interest of Tulsa."

"They are good men and women . . . Their hearts are in the right place for the city of Tulsa," the mayor said. "I do the same thing. I make decisions, which I believe are in the best interest of Tulsa."

Government should be "constructive, not destructive," LaFortune said.

"We may disagree, but removing elected officials from office should only be the solution chosen when there has been a crime or a breach of fiduciary duty," he said.

The mayor said he is not seeing public support for a recall.

"Just today I've been to three different groups and I've asked just average citizens what they think," LaFortune said before speaking at a luncheon of the Tulsa County Republican Women's Club. "To the person, they said it is not good for our city; we don't like seeing it."

LaFortune stressed that he continues to reach out to all nine councilors, encouraging them "to meet on common ground and use a democratic process to solve our differences."

The Mayor is exactly right when he says we don't have time to waste on this divisive issue. To push this issue, especially now, would be selfish and arrogant on the part of the recall supporters. It would be disastrous if a recall were on the same ballot as the general obligation bond issue. I'm glad he said publicly, on camera, and with Medlock, Mautino, and Roop next to him, that he opposes the recall in the strongest possible terms. That should send a strong signal to the organizers.

The press conference almost wasn't a press conference. It was scheduled to be held prior to the Women's Club luncheon, but when the Mayor and Councilors arrived only KFAQ was there, and KFAQ had been alerted by Medlock that the event would occur. Phone calls were made to other media outlets, and it was learned that none of them had received the press release that was supposed to have gone out that morning. So the press conference was delayed for half-an-hour to give reporters time to arrive. Only KTUL didn't show up.

There is concern that some of the Mayor's own staff was working to undermine the impact of the Mayor's statement by ensuring that it happened without the media present. The failure to issue the release may have been an innocent mistake, but it is a crucial mistake, one that could have undone all the good will rebuilt between the Mayor and the Council majority in the last couple of weeks, so crucial a mistake that he would be unwise simply to excuse it. While the Mayor is limited in his control over civil servants, he has the ability to hire and fire his personal staff, and he would be better served by someone loyal to his interests, rather than a holdover from the Savage administration.

I note that the Mayor's press release has not been posted with the press releases on the City of Tulsa home page, or anywhere within the Mayor's portion of the city website.

I assume that all six Republican councilors were invited to participate in the press conference. Wonder why Bill Christiansen, Susan Neal, and Randy Sullivan weren't there.

More notes on the recallers

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Did some digging to learn more about Jon Davidson, the Chairman of the Coalition for Responsible Government 2004, which is backing the recall of City Councilors Chris Medlock and Jim Mautino.

The Whirled story mentions that he recently resigned from the board of the Tulsa Metro Chamber, but the October newsletter (PDF) still lists him as vice chairman of the Chamber for the Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Davidson is general manager of the Sheraton Tulsa Hotel. I wondered whether the hotel's owners were aware that their employee is launching himself into a divisive political controversy that could hurt the hotel's image in the community. So I went to find out who owns the hotel.

The Sheraton Tulsa Hotel is not owned by Starwood, the parent company of the Sheraton brand. Behind the desk at the Tulsa Sheraton is this sign, which is probably required by the franchise agreement:

The Sheraton Tulsa Hotel is indpendently owned by Tulsa Garnett Hotel Ventures and operated by Regency Hotel Management under a license issued by the Sheraton Corporation.

Some further digging revealed that Tulsa Garnett Hotel Ventures and Regency Hotel Management are both South Dakota corporations, based in Sioux Falls, and owned by the Ramkota Companies. They acquired the hotel, formerly a Marriott, in 1995, renovated and rebranded it as a Sheraton, and installed Davidson as general manager in the fall of that year.

Here is the website for Regency Hotel Management, which currently features the Sheraton Tulsa on the website banner. A link on the home pages reads, "Regency Hotel Management & it’s [sic] affiliates own more than 60 properties in 21 states..." and when you click on the link, then click on the south central region, you will see that the Sheraton Tulsa is listed as one of those properties owned by Regency or one of its affiliates. David Sweet is the registered agent in South Dakota of Tulsa Garnett Hotel Ventures, LLC. Sweet is also the CEO of the Ramkota Companies, Inc., and of Regency Hotel Management, Inc. All three companies share the same registered address of 3211 West Sencore Drive, Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Would a South Dakota-based hotel chain with 60 properties really want to be involved in a political controversy in Tulsa? I think it very unlikely that the home office in Sioux Falls has any idea of the controversy and bad publicity the manager of their only Tulsa property is going to be generating. Here is a link to their contact page. If you support Jim Mautino and Chris Medlock, you might want to let Regency CEO David Sweet know, as politely and gently as you can, that their Mr. Davidson is heading up an effort to overturn the election of two members of the City Council (elected with 55% and 59% of the vote, respectively), that you support these councilors, and that you don't appreciate Mr. Davidson's efforts to remove them.

UPDATE on an earlier item: I mentioned the connection between the Coalition's treasurer, Herbert P. Haschke, Jr., and Lou Reynolds, one of the two members of Tulsa's water board who was denied reappointment to the board by the Council majority. Haschke also has a connection to Jim Cameron, the other board member denied reappointment. Haschke and Cameron were co-incorporators, along with Ken Underwood, of IHCRC Realty Corporation, which was incorporated in 1996 and dissolved in 2000.

Time to take a stand

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Tonight (Wednesday the 29th) at 6 pm, four of the five members of the Tulsa City Council's bipartisan Reform Alliance majority will give their perspective on the state of the city. The Mayor's "state of the city" address was delivered at a fundraising luncheon for the Tulsa Metro Chamber. The Reform Alliance's remarks will be in a public place -- Aaronson Auditorium on the first floor of the Central Library, 5th & Denver downtown -- to the general public, with free admission.

Councilors Jack Henderson, Chris Medlock, Roscoe Turner, and Jim Mautino will be speaking. Sam Roop, the fifth member of the alliance, has a conflict with a college course he's taking, so he'll be speaking at a town hall meeting the next night. Roop's absence will also help alleviate any possible issues with accidentally having a quorum present in violation of the Open Meetings Act.

It is important that everyone who supports their efforts on our behalf show up tonight and show that support publicly. As Michael DelGiorno said this morning, it's no longer a time just for praying and forwarding e-mails, it's time to show up and stand up. You might even want to bring a small sign -- emphasize the positive, why you support what these councilors are doing.

These five councilors have been under a sustained and coordinated attack. Why? Simply for doing their job -- asking questions, exercising oversight over city departments and boards and commissions. Like a dentist discovering a rotten tooth, the Council's gentle probing has produced screams of pain as it finds pockets of decay.

And yes, the Whirled's spinning notwithstanding, the probing has been gentle. Watch the Council meetings and committee meetings on TGOV channel 24. (This week's schedule is here.) The Reformers ask their questions and raise their concerns politely and with a calm demeanor. When questions are dodged, the Reformers press for answers firmly, but without losing their cool. They have demonstrated grace under intense pressure, and I think all of them would credit God's grace for sustaining them through all of the attacks.

Last week's debate over the Tulsa Metropolitan Utility Authority's (TMUA) $18.5 million revenue bond issue is a great example. (You can catch this one last time Thursday morning on channel 24 -- the rebroadcast begins at 8 am, and the bond issue discussion starts about an hour or so into the meeting.) The Reformers asked questions of Paul Zachary from the Public Works department, Owasso City Manager Rodney Ray, Tulsa Deputy Mayor Steve Sewell, and the head of Owasso's economic development agency.

In the course of the questions, Chris Medlock and the other Reformers made it clear that they do not want to cut off water to the suburbs, and they are willing to sell more water to the suburbs, but they want to ensure that it is at a rate that is fair to Tulsa. At the Mayor's request, the Council voted to delay considering the TMUA bond issue for at least two weeks. Some councilors wanted to proceed with approval for the non-controversial items and defer consideration of the suburban water lines only. After receiving assurances from Paul Zachary that the two week delay would not jeopardize critical projects such as dam repair to Lake Spavinaw and Lake Eucha, the Council voted 6 to 3 to continue the issue to a future meeting. The Reform Alliance split on the issue, with Medlock and Roop agreeing to delay the issue, Henderson, Turner, and Mautino not wanting to delay the projects that have unanimous support, demonstrating that these men are truly exercising independent judgment, not marching in lockstep.

Randy Sullivan: "You're toast"

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At about 9:30 Sunday evening, Tulsa City Councilor Chris Medlock was relaxing, watching a movie and eating ice cream with his family when he got a call from Council Chairman Randy Sullivan.

We've written about Randy Sullivan before. He is not related at all to Congressman John Sullivan or to Dan Sullivan, who is running for election in State House District 71. Randy Sullivan is serving his second term as City Councilor for District 7. He was elected chairman this year over significant objections, and despite the fact that his side, the Cockroach Caucus, was defeated in the city elections. He made threats that ended a private school's efforts to buy the old Children's Medical Center for their new campus. He was F&M Bank's point man on the 71st & Harvard rezoning and tried to prevent homeowners from getting a fair hearing in that case.

So in his phone call to Chris Medlock Sunday night, Randy Sullivan had a simple message for Medlock, which managed to be understood, despite his slurred speech: "You're toast." The recall effort is going forward and Medlock and Mautino are the targets. Randy Sullivan said he had been asked by the Tulsa County Republican Party chairman to join other Republican city officials in signing a statement pledging cooperation and renouncing all efforts to recall city officials. He refused. He would only sign such a statement if Medlock would agree to four concessions. Medlock stopped him at that point. (Through another source, Medlock learned of the concessions -- approval of the Owasso and Sperry water lines and approval of the reappointment of Jim Cameron and Lou Reynolds to the TMUA.)

Randy Sullivan had already publicly expressed his contempt for the Reform Alliance majority on the Council, in response to a question at last Thursday's Tulsa Press Club luncheon, at which Tulsa Metro Chamber Chairman Bob Poe spoke. Sullivan expressed his agreement with Poe's attacks on the reformers.

Back in May, Randy Sullivan incorporated Lake Sunset LLC, which is a real estate development company. You don't suppose he stands to benefit financially from new water lines into north Tulsa County?

Wouldn't it be nice if someone else were head of the legislative branch of our city government?

Recall phone survey: whodunit?

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I have received confirmation from multiple reliable sources about the source of the funding for last weekend's automated phone survey targeting the five Tulsa City Councilors who comprise the bipartisan Reform Alliance majority. The clear intent of the calls was to identify voters who would be willing to sign a recall petition to bring down one or more of the reformers. The ultimate goal appears to break the Reform Alliance majority, and replace it with a majority which will preserve the special deals and special privileges that have dominated Tulsa city government over the past two decades.

I have been told that the phone calls were funded by the Home Builders Association of Greater Tulsa (HBA). They've decided to target Councilors Chris Medlock and Jim Mautino, and the only thing that would get them to stop is if the Council confirms the reappointment of Jim Cameron and Lou Reynolds to the Tulsa Metropolitan Utility Authority (TMUA) board and approves funding for a new water line to Owasso and a feeder water line to Sperry. The message has been passed on to the councilors in question. (I am told that Council Chairman Randy Sullivan is the message boy.) Needless to say Councilors Medlock and Mautino and the rest of the Reform Alliance have too much character and courage to go along with what amounts to extortion.

What we appear to be seeing is an attempt to overturn the City of Tulsa's election results because the City Council majority is looking out for the interests of Tulsa. Whoever is ultimately behind this wants to continue to control Tulsa's water supply to their own financial benefit. In all likelihood, they've been joined by those who want to derail the investigation of the airport in order to protect their business interests. It appears to be a coup d'état funded and led by people who believe that the City of Tulsa should be their own cash cow.

Why would the Home Builders Association be involved in this effort, especially when the two councilors in question have been strongly supportive of extending infrastructure and encouraging new development in east and west Tulsa?

Why does reading a Whirled editorial invoke the same reaction in me as getting a whiff of dirty diaper? It's an annoying and disgusting task, but it's gotta be dealt with. Especially when, in the course of shooting off their mouths without getting their facts straight, the editorial board accuses the Reform Alliance councilors of shooting off their mouths without getting their facts straight. Yes, the Mayor is in Germany on an eight-day Chamber-funded junket, right after his "State of the City" speech before the Metro Tulsa Chamber, and at a time when the City is reconsidering how best to oversee the way the Metro Tulsa Chamber bureaucracy spends our tax dollars for economic development.

Details and a point-by-point rebuttal after the jump.

Recall process

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During my appearance this last Tuesday on KFAQ's Michael DelGiorno show, I was asked by Michael to look into the City of Tulsa's recall process. While Mayor Bill LaFortune, Councilor Chris Medlock, and I were all up in New York at the Republican National Convention, there were a number of people calling Michael's show wanting to launch a recall effort against the Mayor.

A recall is not a tool to be used lightly, but it does provide a check against official wrongdoing or neglect of duty when such conduct falls short of criminal conduct. Having supported Bill LaFortune in the 2002 Republican mayoral primary over other worthy candidates, it grieves me to think that he has become so estranged from the city's grassroots that some are unwilling to endure his continuation in office for another 19 months. It appears to many observers that he has not fulfilled the promises of reform and cooperation with the City Council which won him the support of so many Tulsans. In fact, it seems that he has aligned himself with those who want to preserve the status quo at City Hall regardless and set himself in opposition to the Council's Reform Alliance majority.

Article VII is the article of the City Charter dealing with recalls. Here's the timeline of the process, using maximum times for each step:

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