Friday, December 31, 2004

Q: Why do you hate the suburbs?

A: Quite simply, I don’t hate the suburbs.

I don’t resent or envy them. In fact, if my positions with regard to the economic development efforts of the suburbs can be simply put, it would be to say that I admire their aggressive efforts to grow and benefit their respective communities.

What I have been advocating, is that Tulsa has arrived at a point in its municipal growth, that it can no longer thrive utilizing passive policies with regard to future economic development. Owasso has a little over 22,000 citizens, which is about half the size of the average Tulsa city council district.

Despite its diminutive stature in relation to a single Tulsa council district, Owasso has its own mayor, city council, city manager, economic development team, chamber of commerce, school system, police force and public works department. It takes little comparative effort to get all these respective groups to act in concert for the economic good of the City of Owasso.

The situation in Owasso is very much similar to the situations in Broken Arrow, Bixby, Jenks, Sand Springs, Glenpool, Sapulpa and Catoosa. With all of these communities acting in their own self interest, why is it suddenly so terrible that a handful of Tulsa city councilors begin asking the simple question, “why aren’t we using our city’s resources for the development of our own community, as aggressively as our suburban neighbors are using their resources?

When one thinks of Tulsa aggressively acting to compete with Owasso or Jenks, it understandably conjures up pictures of Goliath threatening little, helpless David. However, Tulsa’s population now makes up just under half of the total population of the Tulsa region. If one thinks of the suburbs as a collective population with far more economic development institutions working in competition against the future good of the core city, it is far easier to ask the question, “when will we open our eyes and realize that our future is going to be one of steady decline toward urban blight, if we don’t use our economies of scale and resources to protect our own future?”

Frequently Asked Questions.

Okay, I'm six pounds heavier and I've had to break out my jeans with the 36" waist, but the holidays are all but over and it's time to get blogging again.

I've been getting a lot of the same questions of late, so I thought, "Hey, why not begin trying to answer some of these 'frequently asked questions' in a 'Frequently Asked Questions' section of your web site?" No...really...people have been asking...or at least intimating...all of these things.

Since it takes quite some time to put all of these questions together into a single, cogent document, I'm going to use my blog to post drafts, which will ultimately be posted on my "legitimate" web site;

Above is my first post.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Man Bites Dog

My first major in college was Radio, Television and Film. Before Oklahoma State would let you take the fun courses (the one's dealing with radios, televisions and film), you had to take a newswriting course.

It had to be one of the first class sessions that the professor drug out the old chestnut, "Dog bites man...that's not news. Man bites dog! Now that's news."

Yesterday, rover was yelping as his owner chomped down hard and there was nary a word about it in the Tulsa World.

Whenever a press conference is held in which three groups as diverse as the Tulsa County Republican Party, the League of Women Voters and the local chapter of the N.A.A.C.P. hold a joint press conference in support of the same ideal, you would think our paper of record would want to be there to cover such an historic confluence of organizations. But at 2PM yesterday, in the City Hall cafeteria, those three groups spoke to and answered questions from, all four local TV stations, KRMG, KFAQ and the Tulsa Beacon. Noticeably absent? The Tulsa World.

The subject of the press conference? Each groups different reasons for opposing the recall of Jim Mautino and myself.

Bias is often thought to be how you slant a story, but in this case, it was in deciding not to cover the story at all.

Why wasn't the World there? Each of us could come up with a slew of reasons, given a little prodding. However, the one that I think most likely lies at the heart of the fact that the Tulsa World is Tulsa's "newspaper of record."

It should be dawning on a lot of recall election supporters (which includes Mr. Lorton and his editorial scribes) that this ill conceived recall scheme is going to eventually fail. The best the Coalition for Responsible Government can hope for is a graceful way to fire their consultant, Jim Burdge, look for a graceful excuse to withdraw from the process (We still think these council maniacs are dangerous, but for the good of Tulsa and democracy....") and redistribute their donations before their contributors have to be outed publicly.

So, if recall is to eventually fail, it seems logical that the World is beginning to look not at what the current voters will be told, but what future voters will be told. There is an old adage in PR that if it didn't happen on TV, it didn't happen. When it comes to history, or at the very least, journalistic background during some future election, the newspaper is the first place one looks to find out what happened with regard to a particular issue.

By not covering the very respectable alliance in opposition to a "manufactured crisis" the World has been complicit in contriving, they leave little lasting evidence of the folly of this recall process.

Just one more reason to join me and mine by dropping your subscription.

"The Tulsa World...all the news that fits our agenda."

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Why the Library Package Failed

As anyone who has been keeping up with my blog knows, I have been consistently hard on the Tulsa World (although I don't spell it "Whirled" like Michael Bates does). However, today's issue does include a very informative graphic that shows where the library packaged faired well, and where it faired abysmally. See graphic here.

The most obvious thing that should jump out, at anyone viewing this graphic, is that the question did best in those precincts within a 5 minute drive of the proposed Grand Central Library. Conversely, it did worst in the outlying areas of the county where people who would find the library's location inconvenient at best, own large tracts of land that would be subject to higher property taxes.

What is most interesting to me as the duly elected representative of District 2, is that in only two of my 18 precincts, did the level of support reach the required 60% needed to pass the bond question. Does this mean that the voters of my district do not trust me and the city with the bond money? Or does it mean that my voters are less prone to raising taxes, which is why they elected someone like me, that is likewise loathe to raise taxes? You know how the World will spin it.

What is most intriguing to me is the synaptic leap and/or lapse that caused District 7 Councilor Randy Sullivan to opine:

"First, what happened at the polls was a resounding 'hell no' to bonds right now," he said.

"Second, I'm not sure that people are ready to to entrust us with a substantial amount of money, considering there's a recall under way."

Just exactly which "us" that my fellow councilor is referring to is difficult for me to discern. If he's talking about the city council, then someone needs to inform him that the Tulsa City/County Library system is a separate taxing body and that the council would have no direct oversight of how the monies would be spent. The only extent of our involvement with the question rejected by voters, would be in our approval or disapproval of future mayoral appointments to the library board. So how is the people's rejection of a bond proposal, outside of our locus of control, an indictment of "us?"

The World reported my response to Sullivan's assertion as follows:

"Medlock chided Sullivan for being more concerned about clearing the way for the recall than pursuing necessary infrastructure improvements.

'A delay would be a foolish miscalculation of the desires of the public,' he said."
What wasn't reported was my additional response of, "If Councilor Sullivan is truly concerned with the impact that a divisive recall process would have on the General Obligation Bond package, than I would call on him to use his considerable influence with those behind the recall in ending the recall immediately."

The bottom line is, it strains the bounds of logic to say that reasonable citizens voted against the library expansion because they don't trust a council comprised of Jim Mautino or Chris Medlock. One of the major complaints that we have received is that we have been too aggressive in our questioning of the city and county bureaucracies. Why would normally tax averse citizens vote against a tax package because the council contained two tax watch dogs?

It is more likely that, if the current make-up of the council entered into the voters calculus, they would be concerned by the presence of a councilor like Mr. Sullivan, who seems to think that we should never publicly question those that are spending our tax dollars.

The basic truth of the voters decision is that the current climate is one in which citizens know the difference between "wants" and "needs." The Grand Central Library and a new football stadium for the Jenks Trojans were "wants." The projects proposed in the upcoming G. O. Bond package are, with a few "trimmable" exceptions, "needs."

I am confident that the voters who voted "no" on the library, will vote a cautious "yes" on the G.O. Bonds. I am equally confident that in the next municipal elections, Tulsa's voters will continue the practice of electing councilors who watch the money like a hawk, rather than more members of Mr. Sullivan's laissez-faire class of councilors.

Monday, December 13, 2004

What's In It For Them? (Motives Behind Recall Effort)

Just like someone with a recently broken leg, I'm growing a little weary of answering the same question multiple times a day. However, instead of being asked, "What happened to you?" I'm getting the query, "Why are these guys trying to recall you?"

It is a very difficult question to answer, because aside from Ken Neal and the editorial staff of the Tulsa World, I've never been directly told the real reasons. All we've been given are some painfully vague and subjective accusations that have little bearing in reality. This leaves Jim Mautino and I to have to do a lot of speculation based on rumors.

What I've been able to surmise, however, is that the answer to, "Why are these guys trying to recall you?" depends on just which group of "guys" you're talking about. Let's see if we can break them down to no more than a handful of classifications.

I've determined that the recall proponents (a.k.a. The Coalition for Responsible Government) truly are a coalition of groups interested in Tulsa city government. The "responsible" tag seems to be definable as government that is responsible to them.

So who makes up this coalition? Well, my analysis is that the infamous "THEY" are elements of the Metropolitan Tulsa Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Industrial and Office Properties (NAIOP), the Metro Homebuilders Association and those who don't like the city council digging into the Great Plains/Airport fiasco. Sprinkle this group with some suburban land speculators, Tulsa World interests and those ticked off that there still isn't an F&M branch bank on the southwest corner of 71st & Harvard, and you're probably getting pretty close to the truth.

Before delving into the individual groups and analyzing their disdain for me and my fellow gang members, let me offer up a few names that have been conveyed to me as activists in this endeavor at...What...Recollection?

First there is former District 7 city councilor John Benjamin. If being a councilor makes me the Honorable Chris Medlock, than perhaps we should refer to Mr. Benjamin as the Formerly-Honorable John Benjamin. I've been told by multiple sources that I trust that Mr. Benjamin has been seen strutting before a breakfast group that meets each Friday morning at the Southern Hills Marriott, that he is responsible for the recall effort. I've even heard him quoted as saying something to the effect that he is "calling the shots." I know that Mr. Benjamin claims to have recruited current District 7 councilor, Randy Sullivan, while on a ski trip in Colorado. How do I know? He told me himself. Seems they were sipping cocktails in an outdoor spa, and Benjamin waited until the alcohol, steam and bubbles to pop the question. Most interesting of all, however, is that Mr. Benjamin no longer lives in the city of Tulsa. He now resides, with his wife Laura Benjamin, in Bixby.

Another name which was let slip by a fellow elected city official is that of Josh Fowler. Mr. Fowler is the director...or something similar...of the Metro Tulsa Home Builders Association. He is a frequent visitor to council committee meetings and was rumored to have "black balled" an endorsement for me from the Tulsa Real Estate Coalition during the last election. During questioning by TREC for its endorsement, Mr. Fowler did not hide his annoyance for my efforts in supporting the neighborhoods in the 71st & Harvard issue. He also showed a penchant for not getting his facts straight, when he said there wasn't an upscale residential use for that particular property. I directed him to a development less than a mile away, know as Esplanade, which sets on almost the same sized property, adjacent to an equally busy street (Lewis Ave.). But most interesting of all, just like Mr. Benjamin, Josh Fowler is a resident of Broken Arrow.

I will endeavor, as time permits, to address each of these groups and the issues surrounding them, in separate blogs.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

What a Difference a Decade Makes

I think I'm somewhat more mellow than I was ten years ago. My wife, Cheryl, tells me I'm more focussed and pro-active. My mom tells me I'm "cuter," but then, she's my mom.

Other than that, I'm pretty much the same Chris Medlock that I was on January 8th, 1994. So what has happened since the Tulsa World endorsed my election in a special election for the SH69 seat?

Maybe it was that I was considered the least conservative Repubican in a three-republican field. All I know is, I didn't win the race and I can't count on my fingers the number of people that told me in subsequent years that they were going to vote for me until I got "that Tulsa World endorsement."

I believe I'm more mellow, flattered Cheryl thinks I'm more focussed and hope I'm cuter (thanks Mom). I recognize ten years of life experience and reading has probably made me more conservative. and be amazed at the contrast of opinion about my opinions from our friends on the opinionated Opinion Page. On January 8, 1994, the World editorialists wrote in part:

"Of the three GOP candidates, Medlock is the clear choice. At 35, he is a well-educated marketing and research analyst for the T.D. Williamson Co.

He has impeccable party credentials, serving on the GOP county executive committee, the county leadership council and the state and county platform committees. Medlock also has served as a precinct chairman and is chairman of Mainstream Republicans."

They went on to say:

"Medlock, a graduate of Charles C. Mason High School here, earned a marketing degree from Northeastern State University at the University Center at Tulsa and then a master of business administration at the University of Tulsa. He is intimately acquainted with the need for adequate higher education facilities for Tulsa. He has been a staunch supporter of public school reform and new business development.

"He also will provide Tulsa with another strong voice against crime. Articulate and knowledgeable on legislative issues, Medlock is exactly the kind of young person Tulsans should be encouraging to enter the political arena. "

The voters in District 69 should have no hesitation in voting for Chris Medlock."

Hmmm...maybe its not ME that's changed.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

My Official Response to the Recall Petition

Councilor Jim Mautino and I are honored that you, our constituents, elected us as your voice in city government.

We both took an oath to be good stewards of your government. We further promised, during our campaigns, to ensure that Tulsa’s city government serves all Tulsans and not just a favored few.
We promised to serve you with integrity. By keeping these promises, we have angered many who have previously benefited financially from old practices.

We agree with Mayor LaFortune who said recall “hampers our effort to find real solutions to the problems facing” Tulsa.

We agree with the League of Women Voters of Metropolitan Tulsa when they say this recall:

  • Would be a waste of time, energy and money.
  • Contains accusations in this petition that do not specify reasons for recall which are consistent with Oklahoma law.
  • Effectively disenfranchises you, the residents of District 2.
    Jim Mautino and I thank you for allowing us to serve you as Tulsa city councilors.

We promise to continue to work hard ensuring your business in city government is conducted with integrity.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Finally and Typically

The Tulsa World finally and typically addressed the very important stance by the League of Women Voters of Metropolitan Tulsa (LWVMT) calling for an end the destructive recall process being waged against Councilor Jim Mautino and me. (click on the story title above to view the World story in PDF format)

"Finally," because the World had over two weeks to address the issue and chose to print the story only after the City Clerk certified the recall petitions as valid. "Typically," because the World stuck to their usual tactic used against those they hope to smear, which is, "publish all allegations on the front page of the Sunday edition (with twice the normal readership) and bury anything that effectively challenges those allegations deep into the Saturday edition (the lowest readership).

In this case, they chose to inter the story on the inside backpage, with no mention or photograph of either Councilor Mautino or me. Even the smirkish photo they've been running of me of late might have stopped interested readers who have been following the story of late.

The headline sounds more fitting for the sports page than it does for the news section. The World editors even went to the special care of using a lower-case "L" so that even League members might not notice the story.

I have been told by a LWVMT member that some of the delay in the World's coverage of this story was due to their suspicion that the press release was a forgery. Aside from the obvious cynicism that this belief belies, anybody with the same eighth-grade education level that the World's style sheets call for, could figure out that a single phone call to a LWVMT officer could verify the authenticity of the document.

I will say that the content of the story itself is adequate in its balance. Some fairly strong statements by LWVMT president Mary Jo Neal are quoted. However, none of the very strong language of the press release itself is directly quoted.

Also, you have to go as far as the eigth paragraph of the story (should you have seen it in the first place) to get to the most powerful statement in the story, which was:

"Neal said a recall provision is an effective tool to remove elected officials, but it should require specific reasons for recall that are consistent with state law.

'This (recall effort) appears to be because a group of people don't like the way the councilors are voting,' she said. "

That statement goes right to the heart of the issue. Remember that the two gentlemen who offered up their names and reputations to front the Coalition for Responsible Government 2004 live in neither Councilor Mautino's, nor my council districts. We also know that many of the people behind the effort either live, or have substantial business interests, outside the city limits of Tulsa.

So on one hand we have the esteemed but anonymous members of CRG 2004 acting in a manner that, according to one of the most highly respected, non-partisan democratic institutions in the nation, is "inconsistent with the representative form of government." On the other hand, we have the Coalition for Responsible Government acting incredibly irresponsibly by trying to remove the duly elected representatives of a government of which they aren't even a constituent.

If these concerned and anonymous coalition members want to do Tulsa a service, they need to take a cue from the League and use their influence to help clean up Tulsa's "defective" charter. But unfortunately, their actions have been selfishly motivated from the start. If they were as interested in the betterment of our city as they seem to be in their own influence and financial gain, then the LWVMT wouldn't have had to take the historical action of taking a"stance on a political issue for the first time in decades. "

Thank you League of Women Voters.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Recall Still Alive

Well, our friends at the unbiased Tulsa World have yet to publish anything about the very strong statement of opposition to recall made by the much respected League of Women Voters. It's been almost a week and a half since the statement was released, and yet you would have to be a blog reader or a KFAQ listener to even be aware of this important fact.

Couple this with the fact that I was alerted by City Council staff that it was strongly rumored within City Hall that Councilor Mautino and I will be "served" by the City Clerk today (Thursday) with a notice of certification for the preliminary petition for recall that was circulated in October by the impenetrably murky Coalition for Responsible Government 2004 (CRG).

I have requested confirmation from City Clerk Mike Kier (who moonlights as the city's Chief Financial Officer AND as the Interim Airport Director) that they have been advised by the Interim City Attorney to not confirm that all of the signatures on the petition are from registered voters who live in my district, as called for in the City Charter.

The applicable language from the charter reads as follows:

"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. Preliminary petitions for recall shall be filed with the City Clerk and shall state the reasons for the proposed recall in not more than two hundred (200) words so that the officer sought to be recalled may be informed of the grounds upon which recall is sought. No petition for recall shall include more than one (1) elected officer. The City Clerk shall serve a copy of the preliminary petition by personal service upon the officer sought to be recalled, who shall have five (5) days thereafter within which to file with the City Clerk an answer to the preliminary petition for recall in not more than two hundred (200) words. If such officer does not file an answer in the time specified, no answer of the officer shall appear upon the supporting petition."

It is difficult to understand how Mr. Kier can certify this first critical stage of the process, without certifying the fact of primary importance, which is, do the signatures come from District 2 voters. We know that CRG is headed by two gentlemen that are Tulsa residents, but don't live in either Districts 2 or 6. As such, I am stunned at the cavalier attitude that seems to permiate this process with regard to the residency of the participants.

In addition to this, I requested from our legal staff an unofficial opinion with regard to what many consider to be the incredibly vague and ambiguous language contained in the charter with regard to the term "preceding general election." I made this request prior to the filing of the preliminary petition by CRG. The document I got back from Drew Rees, the City Council's designated legal counsel, was rather lengthy, but agreed in principal that the language of the charter was vague as to whether or not the general election in question was the municipal election held last March, or the national general election held on November 2nd. The reason for clarification on this question is so important is, that if the November 2nd election was held to be the standard, then CRG only submitted approximately a quarter of the signatures needed for a preliminary petition.

I'm not a big fan of winning on technicalities. In fact, my preference is to get on to a vote as soon as possible so that I can clear my name. But I'm also a bit of a constitutional strict-constructionist. Therefore, I'm somewhat loathe to establish a precedent that other councilors might have to face in the near-future.

The most compelling argument that I have heard to support November 2nd as the election establishing the standard is, that the term "municipal election" was included in the recall language in the charter for the old City Commission form of government. That charter was replaced with the current Strong Mayor/City Council Charter. If the intent of the framers of the current charter was to always use the last municiple general election as the standard, then why did they remove very precise language stating such, for the extremely ambiguous language that we currently have.

Even if I weren't the target of the current recall effort, the policy wonk in me would have to agree with the League of Women Voters, when they stated:

"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."

I also am encouraged by the League's willingness to proactively work to refine the current charter to clarify its recall language and to tighten the policy to be more compliant with current state law and the true intent of the recall process.

Make no mistake about it. The reasons listed on the preliminary petition are opinions based on our actions as councilors. They in no way imply that we have committed any misfeasance or malfeasance of office. In fact, Reasons 2 through 5 state clearly that they (whomever "they" is) are recalling us for our "statements and votes." Reason 1 is that we "circumvented the spirit" of fair and open debate.

Statements and votes are a matter of public policy differences. These are supposed to be important elements of any democratic republic. The time for the voters to call an elected official to task for statements and votes is during the regularly scheduled election.

Even if it were true that we had circumvented the spirit of fair and open debate (which it isn't) that is a far cry from a finding that we had violated the Open Meeting Act. I can assure you that all nine councilors are very careful to never meet in groups of more than four. "THEY" can't prove...and dare not even allege...that we have violated the law. Therefore, "THEY" reason that we have circumvented a spirit.

So...we have a very reasoned and cogent argument by a respected organization like the League of Women Voters who say that the continuation of this process will be damaging to city government. We have people who don't live in the districts in question initiating a recall. We have an administration that is taking a cavelier attitude with regard to its responsibilities in following up on its charter responsibilities to certify the preliminary petition. We have several legal minds reasoning that the standard of signatures needed is in serious question. And on top of it all, we have had none of this communicated to the public by our paper of record.

Let's hope everyone takes this process a little more serious as we go forward.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

How The Hole Got There

Today's Tulsa World's Call the Editor section intimated that I am the leader of the city council's "Hole in the Head Gang."

Should you be interested in how I got the hole in the head, click here.

Here's hoping Channel 7 gets the story better than Channel 8 does.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Some Less Than Rhetorical Questions

It is Thanksgiving, so I know there will be no Tulsa World on Friday. However, there have been two editions of the World since the Tulsa Chapter of the League of Women Voters released a statement that strongly opposed the effort to recall Councilor Jim Mautino and me.

  • So, where is the editorial accusing the league of "falling under the sway of the Medlock Cartel?
  • Why haven't we seen a Page One story under P.J. Lassek's byline, which saves the most reasoned statements against recall for inclusion on page A22, but written under the headline, "Women Voters Say Medlock to Cause New Lawsuits," along with a photo of me looking like I have just sampled soured milk?
  • How many days will pass before The World acknowledges that those who care most about the sanctity of the election process, have strongly stated, "The seriousness of [current city] issues deserves the community's attention and should not be diverted by the divisive recall process?"

An Open Letter to "M"

Dear "M" (IF that is your real name),

In response to my posting entitled, "I Pity the Fool," you wrote:

"Please don't confuse name-calling and personal attacks with an intelligent discussion of policy differences or a reasoned analysis of current events,"

Given that the posting was in response to the most recent of a seemingly endless stream of editorials by Ken Neal and other of his opinionated peers at the Tulsa World, I was so pleased to see someone such as yourself so ready to take the World's columnists to task.

Ever since February 2nd, 2004, when in an opinion piece on the primary elections, the World writers opined, "In other races, incumbents Chris Medlock, District 2, and Sam Roop, District 5, handily won their Republican primaries. They face credible opponents in the March 9 general election. Medlock, a weak link on the council, faces former Councilor Darla Hall while Roop is opposed by retired police officer Andy Phillips," I've wondered if someone would rush to my defense.

Having just won the primary with nearly 80% of the vote, the voters rushed to my defense by giving me 59% of the vote against my "credible" opponent. That number was second only to Susan Neal's 90% that she received in her race against Paul Tay. Of course, Paul had to campaign from inside of the Oklahoma City jail, where he was being held for buzzing a pro-marriage rally on the Capitol steps.

Then there was the time back in September of this year, when Chamber chairman Bob Poe stood before the Tulsa Press Club (with me less than 20 feet away) and profoundly stated, "Mr. Medlock's jack-booted tactics went out of style in the 1940s." Some might have thought he was intimating that I was a fascist (even though I only own, to my knowledge, just one brown shirt). Mr. Poe also referred to my "minions" as the members of "Medlock's cabal."

His rhetoric so inspired the World editors that two days later they wrote,

"Poe, chairman of the Tulsa Metro Chamber of Commerce, said a voting bloc led by Councilor Chris Medlock, which has fought progress at every turn, is a 'cabal' and 'a cancer growing in the community.' "

I guess that the recall effort currently underway by Mr. Poe and his minions is the political equivalent of chemo-therapy. We'll just zap that nasty tumor before the cancer of the council goes into metastasis.

Or how about August 8th, when Ken Neal himself pontificated in a piece entiled "Wrecking Crew." Here's some of the pithier (apologies to Bill O'Reilly fans) comments Mr. Neal made in his "reasoned analysis:"
  • The "GANG OF FIVE" on the Tulsa City Council is dangerous.
  • "Three new members vote with two holdovers to make a majority of five on the council. They are like LITTLE BOYS PLAYING WITH MATCHES."
  • "...and nothing is too petty for the Roop and Medlock WRECKING COMPANY."

Mr. Neal also intimated that we had broken our word, were in a snit and or were irresponsible for transferring proposed CDBG funds away from programs favored by Councilors Neal and Baker so that we could give the money to programs favored by the council majority.

Of course all of this was mild compared to the editorial piece three days earlier entitled "Enough," and sub-titled, "Councilors continue WITCH HUNTS."

But the headlines were mere prelude for what was to come:

  • "The City Council's TROUBLE-MAKING FACTION is at it again or rather still at it, according to a recent news account." (This was actually the lead sentence.)
  • "What hasn't been said publicly is some of these same councilors, in private meetings, have committed some pretty OUTRAGEOUS acts themselves..."
  • "It sounds like what is needed is a brighter spotlight on the ANTICS of city councilors..."

Other words or phrases used to define us as part of their "intelligent discussion" were, "five-member rump caucus,"needlessly and shamelessly grilled," "witch hunt," and "contemptible."

But these two pieces were merely the bread that made up their opinion sandwich. The meaty stuff was still to come. On August 10th, just two scant days later, the World's editorial writers topped themselves. The headline was "Conflicts, Secrets." The sub-head was, "THE GANG OF FIVE RIDES AGAIN." Here's the best paragraph selected from some real doozies:

"With the GANG OF FIVE, aka the WRECKING CREW, at the wheel the process was elevated (?) to the level of a clutching, eye-poking, forehead-bonking THREE STOOGES COMEDY WITH A COUPLE OF EXTRA STOOGES. Or at least it would have been comical if city money and the city's reputation weren't at stake."

They also referred to, "THE MEDDLESOME MAJORITY," and "PARTNERS IN MISCHIEF." Oh yeah...they also intimated that my whispering into the ear of Councilor Roop was to remind him of "THE SCRIPT" rather than to give a more detailed explanation of something we were discussing earlier, so as to not hold up the meeting or disrupt the other's discussion.

So to your desire that I not confuse name-calling and personal attacks as a substitute for "an intelligent discussion of policy differences or a reasoned analysis of current events," all I can say is "Amen, Sister." Or is it "Amen, Brother?"

So tell "M" a family name?

Sunday, November 21, 2004

I Pity the Fool

Today's edition of the Tulsa World took up valuable space on its editorial page (it could have been so much better used for another "Great Plains failed because of 9/11 groaner), with an unusually windy screed by "Wind-Bag Emeritus" Ken Neal.

Neal goes to great lengths to portray "A City In Crisis," which is the title of his polemic on how five duly elected officials have, in just over six short months, brought our city to its knees. This aside from the fact that one can argue that, after years of pursuing policy suggested by Mr. Neal and his cronies at Tulsa's monopolistic news source, one could easily argue our city has been knocked prostrate. When lying flat on one’s back, any movement to your knees is an improvement.

To read Neal’s foolish diatribe of innuendos, half-truths, untruths and fallacies, is to be lead to the conclusion (if you can suspend your disbelief long enough to believe Ken Neal knows what he’s talking about) that District 6 Councilor Jim Mautino and I are responsible for a string of miscues that will lead to run-ups in, among other things, water rates. Even if this were true, which it isn’t, doesn’t is seem a tad disingenuous for a newspaper which has pushed a number of federal, state, county and municipal tax increases to suddenly develop a concern for the tax payers wallet? Seems disingenuous to me.

Although there were many statements and allegations in Mr. Neal’s cry for better representation, one jumped out as more interesting than any of the others. It was as follows:

“Now a group composed of upset business operators, developers, home builders and civic activists and many of the hundreds of citizens who serve without pay on the city’s authorities and agencies, have mounted a recall action against Medlock and Mautino. The movement is in its first stages and most veteran observers of City Hall are appalled that Tulsa has come to what amounts to a city civil war.”

Gosh…where does one start with a statement like this one?

Well let’s start by saying that the only two people that our less than competent newspaper has told its readers are behind the recall effort are Jon Davidson and Herb Haschke. In that one paragraph alone, Neal mentions five different groups that have “mounted a recall action.” Are we to believe that Davidson and Haschke in some combination represent all five groups? Even that is suspension of disbelief with too high of a degree of difficulty to be attempted by anyone but a professional delusional.

No…what it should tell the discerning reader is that Mr. Neal is aware of more of the names behind the Coalition for Responsible Government 2004 than just Davidson and Haschke. However, I’ve yet to see these names reported by our newspaper of record. Could it be that the Tulsa World actually IS colluding and coordinating with the recall advocates? Or is it just Mr. Neal that is withholding information that fair-minded Tulsan’s would like to know? Or, is he just making it up as he goes along? You choose for yourself.

Let’s look at the paragraph even closer. My translations are in parentheses:

“Now a group composed of upset business operators (the Metro Tulsa Chamber of Commerce and Bob Poe), developers (NAIOP and its former presidents Jim Cameron and Lou Reynolds), home builders (the Metro Home Builders which now does 80% of its business outside of Tulsa) and civic activists (Schnake, Turnbo, Frank, Erling and all the other Great Plains investors?) and many of the hundreds of citizens who serve without pay on the city’s authorities and agencies (Norma Turnbo, Steve Schuller, Herb Haschke, David White, Joe Westervelt and the dozens of others who want to hang onto their appointed positions of power), have mounted a recall action against Medlock and Mautino (with the exception of Cameron, none of whom live in either Districts 2 0r 6). The movement is in its first stages and most veteran observers of City Hall (those wonderful department heads, board appointees and gadflies that buzzed about the 11th floor when our city was a “Savage Nation”) are appalled that Tulsa has come to what amounts to a city civil war (Dang…the natives are restless and starting to fight back! Effectively!).”

Its amazing how one paragraph can say so much.

I’ll rebut other claims made by Mr. Neal later on. For now, suffice it to say that Ken Neal has to be a very unhappy man. As he drifts out of the sunset years of his career, just think of what he is having to endure. November 2nd, 2004 will stand as one of the strongest rebukes of the World’s editorial policy that Mr. Neal has had to experience.

Our nation is safely in conservative hands for the next four years and there is a good chance that the Supreme and federal courts might be in conservative hands for a generation. Oklahoma is only few scant years from completing its inevitable transformation from a one-party state to a two-party state, then back to a one-party state, again; only this time, with a different party in control.

All that is left for the liberal leaning Mr. Neal to cling to is Tulsa. Is it any wonder that before he retires to the Old Yellow Journalists Retirement Village, he might want to influence just one more change in city government? One that would lead to a “non-partisan…form of government” that would give his ilk one last fighting chance to “support progressive candidates without regard to partisan advantage?”

Don’t hate Ken Neal…pity him.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Fair, Appropriate & Too Expensive

The weekend wouldn't be the weekend without the editorial board of Tulsa World running a marketing piece (THEY refer to them as opinion pieces) for the recall effort. Today, they took another vacuous run at District 6 city councilor Jim Mautino.

Concerned that change that they didn't initiate might actually occur in our city, the board is actually making the case that the citizens of Tulsa have a fitting appeal option when they feel they have gotten a raw deal from the Tulsa Board of Adjustment. In fact, their exact quote is that "Citizens who are unhappy with Board of Adjustment decisions have a fair and appropriate appeals mechanism available now..."

"Appeals mechanism" is a very pleasant and succinct way to say, "hire an expensive attorney, take out a second mortgage, or if you're lucky get the neighborhood to have a big yard sale and silent auction so that you can cough up the $10,000 to $20,000 it takes to prevent $10,000 to $20,000 of impact to your property value."

That is, unless you're already a real estate lawyer, developer, editorial writer or pompous publisher who can help keep the members of the Board of Adjustment in their quasi-judicial roles. Then, you can expect to be able to keep that battery recycling facility out of that vacant "green space" contiguous to your guest house.

I'm not convinced Jim Mautino is on the right track with his suggested change to the appeals process for the Board of Adjustment. However, to minimize the impact of BOA decisions on areas on Tulsa other than Mid-Town or South Tulsa is callous at best. To call Mautino's suggestion a "solution in search of a problem," is to confirm that the opinion fakers of The World wouldn't know a land use problem if it was built abutting their back yard with an improper setback which could cause a substantial detriment to the public good which impairs
the purposes, spirit, and intent of the Code, or the Comprehensive Plan.

But take heart...there is an appropriate mechanism for a better editorial policy. It's called The Tulsa Beacon.

Time to Get Blogging

And So It Begins...
Going to give a try as a mechanism to get my thoughts on line quicker than traditional html.

Check back here for my thoughts in a somewhat more "real time" format. I've been setting this up while trying to listen to the OSU Cowboys whipping the hapless Baylor Bears in football. As such, there is a good chance that I've totally screwed up something that otherwise should be quite easy. Only time will tell.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Reynolds & Cameron Less Than Forthcoming

November 10th, 2004--Today's Tulsa World printed a story about Tulsa Metropolitan Utility Authority board nominees, Jim Cameron and Louis Reynolds' appearance before the Tulsa City Council's Public Works Committee, on Tuesday.

The following is an excerpt from that story:
"Besides Medlock, it appears that Councilors Jack Henderson, Jim Mautino and Roscoe Turner will keep their stances against the reappointments.
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."

I guess the two gentlemen were camera shy or worried about what the Tulsa World and the citizens of our city might think if they were to "recall" (sorry...couldn't resist) that both of them are listed on the Oklahoma Secretary of State's web site as having formed real estate related corporations with Mr. Haschke.

In March of 1995, Mr. Reynolds formed a limited liability corporation with Mr. Haschke by the name of THE COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE ASSOCIATION OF TULSA, INC. I guess the forming of a commercial real estate association could be termed as "legal dealings." Additionally, before joining the water board, Mr. Reynolds served for several years with Mr. Haschke on the T.A.R.E Board, which overseas the trash-to-energy facility, as well as other refuse related activities.

More recently, in December of 2000, Mr. Cameron also formed a real estate company with Mr. Haschke by the name of IHCRC REALTY CORPORATION. This was apparently related to the Indian Health Care Resource Center, of which Mr. Cameron is currently the board secretary. With all of those hours he purportedly puts out for the TMUA, as well his involvement with the IHCRC, one wonders how he has the time for his involvement in the National Association of Industirial and Office Properties, or to run Cameron Glass, CAMVEND, Cameron Investments LLC and the other numerous business entities that he owns.

The lack of cooperation from these two gentlemen is but one of the reasons that we are having such a hard time agreeing with the Mayor and the Tulsa World editorial board that these gentlemen are indispensable to the citizens of our city. At the very least, they need some lessons in telling the whole truth.