Tulsa Recall 2005: February 2005 Archives

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


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


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


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.

About this Archive

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

Tulsa Recall 2005: January 2005 is the previous archive.

Tulsa Recall 2005: March 2005 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.



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