Tulsa Recall 2005: May 2005 Archives

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

"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.

About this Archive

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

Tulsa Recall 2005: April 2005 is the previous archive.

Tulsa Recall 2005: June 2005 is the next archive.

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