Tulsa Recall 2005: January 2005 Archives

Tulsa Tribunal hits the east side


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


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


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


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.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Tulsa Recall 2005 category from January 2005.

Tulsa Recall 2005: November 2004 is the previous archive.

Tulsa Recall 2005: February 2005 is the next archive.

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