Saturday, January 29, 2005
However, the Tulsa World ran the story on the front page of the Saturday edition (albeit their lowest readership of the week, once again). The coverage was pretty comprehensive, with quotes from most of the elected officials that were present.
It's hard to say why there was so little television coverage. Perhaps we were bumped by the snowy weather or the extensive coverage of the serial rapist that is terrorizing Sand Springs. However, I think it had more to do with a "we've already done the Mayor coming out against the recall story," rationalization. If this is the case, that is a shame.
The real story was the resounding support that we are receiving from the GOP officials from Tulsa's legislative caucus. The list of party and elected officials speaking out against recall is becoming a very impressive one. As it stands today, we have permission to use the names of six state senators and nine state representatives. Most impressive of all, the list includes Senators Randy Brogdon (Owasso), Scott Pruitt (Broken Arrow), Mike Mazzei (South Tulsa & Bixby) & Nancy Riley (W. Tulsa & Jenks) as well as Representatives John Trebilcock (Broken Arrow), Fred Perry (S. Tulsa & Jenks), John Wright (Broken Arrow) and John Smaligo (Owasso). This should go a long way in stating the case that the recall effort being lodged against Jim Mautino and me, is an ill conceived and selfish attempt to disrupt the integrity of our election process.
I can't begin to thank all of these legislators for their courageous and ethical stands. It is humbling indeed to know that they are willing to stand on principle, even though we are city officials and many in their own communities might question their support.
When you couple this latest round of support with such diverse groups as the Tulsa Metro League of Women Voters, the NAACP and the Tulsa County Republican Executive Committee, you start to realize that our coalition will more than trump CfRG2004's cadre of like minded development interests.
And we've only just begun to fight!
Thursday, January 27, 2005
Page 3: Click here.
Tuesday, January 25, 2005
Monday, January 24, 2005
However, no mailer or commercial produced by TEI could ever show exactly how sophomoric, selfish and dishonest the recall proponent are, better than the Tulsa Tribunal mock-newsletter that was sent to my constituents twe weeks ago.
Believing that anyone who reads this thing (especially if they are familiar with the ranting of Mr. Bob Poe at the Chamber's annual meeting last week), will see which side is the side of the angels, I have decided to post it in .jpeg format for downloading.
That way, if you live outside of the district, you don't have to be denied access to what may well live as one of the worst strategic blunders ever devised by a political campaign.
I have only been able to scan and clean up the front and back covers. I hope to have the two inside pages available for your amusement and edification within the next couple of days.
Page One: Click here
Page Four: Click here
I decided to post it here, on my blog, for those that are checking in with my writings, but aren't a regular in the TulsaNow forums.
I received a copy of the Tulsa Tribunal from a District 2 supporter this afternoon and we've been equally stunned by the brazen lack of concern for civility, accuracy or truth.You're correct that they mention John Gray by name in one of the "articles," but fail to mention that Mr. Gray is a member of the Political Action Committee of the Greater Tulsa Area Realtors. He also is a long time supporter of Darla Hall and isn't happy that I am not going to reappoint him to the Sales Tax Overview Committee (he represents District 2, but lives in District 8).
Who else is a driving force on the GTAR PAC? Chuck Patterson is. What is the name on the front page article? Fred Patterson. Coincidence? Who am I to say?You also cite the story on my "trouble making" while a student at UCT 1n 1990.
The headline reads, "Stirring Controversy and Picking Fights Nothing New for Medlock."
One direct quote reads, "Yet all those years ago, there was one voice who objected even to the first stage in the process leading up to OSU-Tulsa. Can you guess who? Chris Medlock."According to a news story in the Tulsa World March 30, 1990, then-student Chris Medlock argued against taking the school to the next step. He [Medlock] called consortium 'an ugly word - no one understands what it is.'"
The implication is that I was against UCT and wanted to subvert its development into a branch campus for one of the major universities. To bad the story neglects to mention that I was:
- An advocate for more programming and greater student services.
- Worked to have one of the major universities become the lead school. Which one? Whichever one was willing to commit the most programming to Tulsa.
- That I wasn't a solitary voice but was the student body president for two years. In fact, two other students and I spent a summer collecting signatures on a petition (sound familiar?) so that we could form a Student Government Association.
- In 1990, I was voted "Student Senator of the Year" by my peers. The award was presented to me at an awards banquet that we fought for, so that students at UCT had access to the same honors programs as students on the home campuses.
- That I picked up the diploma for my BS in Marketing (yes...I realize that is redundant)...during the first ever commencement ceremony held for UCT students. Previously, students and their families had to travel to Norman, Tahlequah, Stillwater or Langston to get their diplomas. The SGA that we formed got the ceremony established.
- That we got low income students access to fee waiver scholarship money that wasn't available to UCT students, because of the peculiarity that UCT was a "consortium" but wasn't a school. As such, students could't apply for these necessary benefits. How dare we pick a fight?
- That Rodger Randall, as UCT President, named me an Outstanding Graduate of UCT in 1995. Who else was so honored? Well...Disrict 4 Councilor Tom Baker and State Rep. Lucky Lamons to name just two others.
Yes...that's right Coalition for Responsible Government. I was a troublemaker.
Oh by the way...the story they cite about my saying Consortium was an "ugly word?" Well...They were wanting to change the name of UCT from "University Center at Tulsa" to "University Consortium at Tulsa," with the caveat that UCT would have to remain a consortium for at least ten years. We were pushing for a branch of OU or OSU, so we weren't in support of this backdoor deal in OKC.
"Costs would far outweigh the benefits of changing the name of the University Center at Tulsa, says Chris Medlock, chairman of the UCT Student Advisory Committee.
And, if a new title is in order, students and Tulsa citizens should have something to say about it, since Tulsa taxpayers provided $15 million in sales taxes to pay for the UCT campus, Medlock added."
"He called consortium "an ugly word - no one knows what it is. 'Since so few funds are being granted UCT, the money would be better spent on student services. But the real issues are getting more (degree) programs brought into the Tulsa area," said Medlock. He noted the higher regents at the last meeting approved only four of 16 new programs requested.
"They denied 75 percent of the requests. For every one of the 12 programs denied, there are dozens or hundreds of people who will not be served educationally."
Oh...by the way. Turns out the Board of Trustees agreed with me. A month later, they voted down the name change. I guess CRG2004 didn't think that worth mentioning, either.
If you would like to read the full text of three pertinent stories mentioned in this posting, you can do so by clicking on the three links below.
Student Chairman Against UCT Name Change www.chrismedlock.com/uctname.htm
Trustees Nix Changing UCT Name www.chrismedlock.com/trustees.htm
Tuition-Waiver Scholarships Sought at UCT www.chrismedlock.com/uctsga.htm
We have been saying for weeks now that we would welcome a debate or forum on the recall issue with the leadership of the CfRG. However, they have systematically avoided answering specific questions with specific answers, choosing instead to further veil their membership (and hence their true motives) by making non-sensical accusations of "terrorism" or "jack-booted" tactics.
Tulsa Today suggests that it is the larger unwillingness on the part of many of those benefiting from the city's policy of underwriting many of the "economic development" efforts, to answer questions regarding the wisdom of such policy, that now seems to be driving the current recall effort:
"Rather than answer these policy questions in public, a mysterious group has formed lead by recently resigned Chamber Board members that seek to recall outspoken City Councilors Chris Medlock and Jim Mautino. There is no basis for recall by State standards, but the Tulsa City Charter (drafted in large part by Savage protégée Gary Watts) is vague enough to allow it. Should recall be successful, replacements will be chosen by the remaining City Councilors thus removing representative government from two council districts in Tulsa. Should this happen, Tulsa will be demonstrably corrupt and under the dominion of evil as the sanctity of the American election process is betrayed."They also make an excellent point regarding the growing backlash within the membership of the very groups that are supposedly sanctioning this anti-democratic attempt to unseat Jim Mautino and me, which may eventually further damage their own cause:
"It is important to know that every realtor, builder, contractor, association staff, and members of the Metropolitan Tulsa Chamber of Commerce and or their employees are not necessarily in agreement with the leadership of their respective organizations. We do not disrespect those individuals, the organizational missions or their importance within the community. However, this recall effort is forwarded by political idiots. Rather than limit dissent (the apparent purpose); the recall effort has promoted City Councilors Chris Medlock and Jim Mautino to hero status. Way to go numb-nuts, the recall has become a call-to-arms for increasing opposition with martyrs provided."You can read the entire article by clicking here.
Thanks to Tulsa Today for joining their voice to the growing chorus of concerned Tulsans who know the recall effort is more about selfish personal interests and maintaining a network of influence than about the actions of two Tulsa city councilors.
Wednesday, January 19, 2005
Chris,Much has already been said regarding outgoing Chamber Chairman Bob Poe's tirade against me and my "cartel," during Tuesday's Chamber Annual Meeting. I even got a chance to weigh in this morning, not on KFAQ ("al Jazeeri" radio), but on John Erling's show on KRMG.
Tomorrow is the Tulsa Metro Chamber Annual Meeting and Inauguration. We thought you would like to know in advance you are at RL Hudson's table #312. Please try to arrive between 11:30 & 11:45 AM. We are looking forward to seeing you there. [Emphasis added]
Government Affairs Division [Metro Tulsa Chamber]
For the most part, I thought the interview was very even handed and asked a lot of the questions that people having read the Tulsa World story, or having attended the luncheon themselves, would've wanted to ask.
One moment jumps out at me though. Mr. Erling asked me why we didn't just remain in our seats to "take our lumps." The implication of the question was, "if we can dish it out, why didn't we stay put and take it like men?"
It didn't take me long to answer. I responded by reminding Mr. Erling and his listeners that I'd already "taken my lumps" at the Tulsa Press Club last fall, when the same Mr. Poe spewed the same hate-filled rhetoric for the benefit of the assembled media.
My reaction was to smile and laugh at every exaggeration and falsehood, including the now infamous reference to "Medlock's jack-booted tactics" that "went out of style in 1940's Germany." After the speech, I crossed the room, stood next to Chairman Poe, took note of all of the paid Chamber executives that had been hidden off to the side, offered my hand to Mr. Poe and said, "Great speech...to bad none of it was true.
It was at that moment, when I turned to leave the club, that the Tulsa World photographer (who had already taken at least two-dozen reaction shots) snapped the photograph that has run in both the Tulsa World and the Tulsa Tribunal.
I then headed for the foyer of the Atlas Life building, with four camera and two radio crews close on my heals. I stopped for a second and was immediately surrounded by "the working press."
Marshall Stewart of KRMG was the first to ask a question. "What do you think of what was just said in there?"
Now God has blessed me with many talents and burdened me with my share of weaknesses. One of the talents is the ability to come up with a fantastic come back to a snide remark. Unfortunately, the inspiration usually hits me two minutes after it is too late to use. But not this time.
I quickly retorted, "Oklahoma has long been known as a producer of natural gas and we just found a major new source of it behind the podium of the Tulsa Press Club."
One shot to offset twenty minutes of invective and vitriol. KRMG ran with the quote as the lead for the 6 PM newscast.
Why is this tale important to what happened yesterday? Because one, it proves "been there done that." I missed my chance to sit and take my medicine during Mr. Poe's introduction to the Mayor's State of the City speech, because I wasn't present. Where was I? My wife and I were filling in for the Mayor at a Tulsa Global Alliance luncheon at the Summit Club, honoring the Consul General of Canada.
Anyway, there was a major difference between Poe's attack at the Press Club and Poe's attack yesterday at the Chamber meeting. I was an invited guest of the Chamber, but I wasn't invited to come to the Press Club.
I talked my way in with a very friendly waitress, who was suspicious that I wasn't eating, but seemed intrigued when I assured her that I wasn't "the speaker, but I might be the subject matter." Ten seconds into the door, I knew I was right. There was Poe going off on the "Gang of Five" and its leader, Medlock; not preceded by "Mr.," "Chris" or "Councilor." And there in the back, seated in the shadows was Council Chairman and noted late night "toast master,"Randy Sullivan, who looked quite surprised to see me entering and taking up a position right beside him. I later learned he was there to stand and dutifully thank Mr. Poe for his "courageous" words, to confirm that every falsehood spoken was utterly true and to seek out condolences for having chosen the wrong year to be the Council Chair.
But as you can read from the e-mail that began this post, I was encouraged to attend the Chamber luncheon. My meal was comped and we were told, as were all of the attendees, that the purpose of the function was to be in attendance "as Chairman Poe reflects on the accomplishments of 2004 and formally inducts Maxwell as chairman. An announcement of major initiatives the Tulsa Metro Chamber will undertake during the 2005 business year will follow his inauguration."
I have been told by a reliable source that senior leaders at the Chamber had asked Bob Poe to refrain from the attacks and to "tone down" his remarks. As the luncheon was breaking up, a staffer from the Mayor's office turned to one of those Chamber managers and said, "Well, I guess Poe didn't take your advice to tone it down, huh?"
To which the Chamber official remarked, "Sure he did. You didn't see his original remarks."
Given the apparent backlash that we've been hearing, it's a shame Mr. Poe didn't go the cathartic route, opting instead to "let it out...let it all out."
So, I and four councilors opted to get up and leave the room while Mr. Poe sang his swan song. I thought I would be the first out the door, but as soon as I hit the foyer, I saw District 1 Councilor Jack Henderson. Soon Jim Mautino joined us. I then picked up the phone and called Sam Roop, but there was no answer on his cell phone. Then I dialed Roscoe Turner.
"We're having a cartel meeting in the lobby, Roscoe," I told him, knowing he'd recognize my voice. "Would you like to join us?"
"I'm already on my way out," I was told.
When we were all together, we decided that we would wait until Mr. Poe was done, then return to the room to hear Tom Maxwell's speech, which is what we came to hear, anyway. No sense in dishonoring him.
In the end, I can come to no other conclusion than to believe that we were sandbagged by Bob Poe. We were invited under one set of pretenses and were then exposed to his selfish agenda, once again. But we weren't the only ones blind sided. The mayor was blind sided...Tom Maxwell was blind sided...many of the Chamber members were blind sided...and ultimately Tom Maxwell's seventh goal of his goals for the city was blind sided.
What was that goal? Seek unity.
Monday, January 17, 2005
Mason Cooley (b. 1927), U.S. aphorist.
City Aphorisms, Eighth Selection, New York (1991).
One of the reasons that I've been finding it difficult to blog the past week, is because of the sheer number of calls that I've been taking from citizens outraged by the propaganda piece weakly named "The Tulsa Tribunal," that wasmailed to my constituents.
I don't think the authors of this campaign piece intended this to be taken as a real periodical. Why? Because not even the Tulsa World in full Gang-Of-Five slander mode would allow for four pages that mentioned "Medlock" in every headline. What is interesting is that so much text could be written with so few facts.
I have been around political campaigns, and all whining aside, I have to say that this is one of the more vitriolic direct mailers I've ever encountered. I think even Brad Carson and Tom Coburn would say "The Tulsa Tribunal" (fans affectionately call it "The 'Bunal") is an excessive excercise in political "piling on."
But don't just take my word for it. Click here to read a unsolicited post to the TulsaNow.org forums, by a contributor from my district. The following are some excerpts:
"Waiting for me on the kitchen table this evening was my copy of the 'Tulsa Tribunal'. Has anyone else seen or read this waste of good toilet tissue? Man! I thought the World was slanted in their presentation - compared to this rag, the World is middle-of-the-road. Presented to you (for your amusement, I assume) by the fine folks at the Coalition for Responsible Government."OK...sure...this is a focus group of one...purely anecdotal. But the statements above were simply a handy link from the web, that echoes (albeit rather calmly by comparison to some) most of the calls that I've received from angry voters.
"Hey, CfRG, you didn't have much of a sale with me before. After receiving this C**P, your credibility has been flushed and is well on it's was to the Arkansas River. This is a cheap shot and a low blow. You obviously are pandering to the least common denominator - any adult that can actually think would see right through this. You're betting on stirring up the lowest common denominator to push your recall effort through. Don't bother bringing any facts before us when, surely, emotions will suffice."
"Hey Chris, I can't say I'm particularly a fan of yours but I'm behind you on this one (and, I'm a voter in your district)."
Can the CfRG truly be this out of touch with voters? Did they not hear all of the relief the average citizen felt just two months ago, when the elections were over and we could stop being barraged by character assassinating attack ads? Can you say backlash?
I'm fighting the urge to send out as a response, a single, black and white postcard with block lettering simply saying,
"Oh yeah? So's your old man!"
The 'Bunal uses every unflattering photograph purposely published during recent months by our friends at the Tulsa World. It's a long shot that the World will ever sue their buddies over copyright infringement. However, the masthead also sports both the official seals of the State of Oklahoma and the City of Tulsa. I think former mayor Susan Savage, as Secretary of State would have to complain for Oklahoma. I know current mayor Bill LaFortune would have to request that interim city attorney Alan Jackere pursue the CfRG for the city. Needless to say, I'm not holding my breath. Besides, any litigation in this regard would simply be attributed as yet another "terrorist tactic," I'm sure.
Bottom line is, the character assissination isn't going to stop any time soon.
Wednesday, January 12, 2005
So, dear reader, let’s do a quick, online interaction and then address some less than rhetorical inferences.
Click the link at the end of this paragraph and go to the home page of the Tulsa World On-Line (it’s OK, I’m asking you to, so don’t feel guilty). Once there, look to the upper right corner and take note of the “Free for Everyone Sections.” Scan the list of “free” pages and information and take note link sandwiched between “public officials” and “site map.” Click here.
As you noticed, the free link is for “Real Estate.”
Now click on the link (if you have high speed internet and can read Adobe Acrobat files without locking your computer up for days) at the end of this paragraph and notice something. What you will be seeing is a .pdf version of the Tulsa Sunday World for January 6, 2005. Once there, scroll up and down the listing of pages in the far right window. What you will see is a lot of links that say things like “A3-19: Local” and “C2: Classified.” Click here.
Now, for those of you that either still take the Sunday paper, or merely cancelled it recently enough that you still have some recollection of the various sections of the Sunday World, scroll that list and look for the Real Estate section. You remember that section. It’s full color, with lots of informative stories about new housing developments, black and white photos of homes for sale, and photos of realtors that were taken in the late 1980s.
Didn’t find that section listed, did you? Go back one more time and look to see where the Target circular is. How about the Home Depot ad? Not finding those, either? Can you guess why?
It’s because they are paid advertising inserts. So why is the Real Estate “Section” not listed in the PDF version of the Sunday World? Because it is a paid advertising insert. That’s right, the Metro Home Builders Association and the Greater Tulsa Area Realtors and their members pay to have that glitzy section put in your Sunday paper every week.
Now go to your Tulsa phone book or any of the online phone directories and look up the addresses for the Metro Home Builders Association and the Greater Tulsa Area Realtors. Or if you’ll trust me, let me supply them to you with a Mapquest map of where they are.
GTAR Address: 11505 East 43rd Street, Tulsa, OK, 74146
GTAR Location in Tulsa, OK
Metro Home Builders Assoc. Address: 11545 East 43rd Street
Metro Home Builders Assoc. Location in Tulsa, OK
Notice a similarity? That’s right you discerning reader, you…they’re next door neighbors. In fact, their big ol’ home-like offices sit out in an office park in East Tulsa that is virtually empty, save for these two buildings.
So now we learn that two of the groups (not individuals…mind you…but groups) behind the recall are GTAR and the Home Builders. But reality tells us that they are barely even different groups. They advertise together, they are next door neighbors and they share many of the same members.
We have also heard, but not seen that the letter that went out to GTAR members on January 7, asks its members to make sure they stay up with the facts concerning the recall by “reading the Tulsa World,” daily.
Finally, we have heard that the GTAR Board of Directors voted to support the recall effort back in September. Click here to see the Janet Pearson editorial from August 8, 2004 entitled “Recalling better times.” Click here to read Ken Neal’s screed from August 15, 2004 (just a week later). Both were part of a full court press by the World’s editorial staff to sell recall to the voters.
How convenient. Let’s sum it up. What do we know?
- We have a newspaper with a dwindling circulation.
- We have an editorial staff that isn’t in tune with much, if not most, of its readership.
- We know that World publisher, Robert Lorton, was the Chairman of the Board of F&M Bank during the period of time when the contentious 71st & Harvard issue was before the council.
- We know that Councilor Mautino and I supported the City Council’s investigation into the airport and Great Plains Airlines. The process to begin the investigation began in early August, 2004.
- We know that World Publishing Co., the parent of the Tulsa World was embarrassed and angry when in November, the preliminary report of the investigation showed World Publishing to be the principal owner of Great Plains at the time the company was soliciting over $30 million in Oklahoma tax credits and city support
- We know the editorial staff of the Tulsa World endorsed current councilors Baker, Christiansen, Neal and Sullivan in their 2004 elections.
- We know the editorial of the Tulsa World endorsed the opponents of councilors Henderson, Mautino, Roop and Turner, as well as my opponent, Darla Hall.
- As such, we know the World editorial staff would like to see their four in a majority and the “Gang of Five” out of control.
- We know that the Greater Tulsa Area Realtors and the Metro Home Builders are two of the Tulsa World’s largest remaining advertisers.
So, what can we fairly infer?
- We can infer that two groups with a very substantial shared business relationship coordinated the Worlds’ editorial blitz in August. Did the World offer to help its big advertisers? Did the big advertisers threaten to pull their ads if the World didn’t play? Will we ever know for sure?
- We can infer that the “fluke” that occurred that allowed Councilor Roscoe Turner to overturn a questionable primary election in which he appeared to lose by three votes, even though Republicans were allowed to vote in a Democrat primary, tipped the balance of power in this city. As such, these three powerful allies are now working together replay an election that didn’t go their way.
Are these three a “mutual admiration society,” or merely another “unholy alliance” trying to prove that they have Tulsa’s best interests at heart, when what really matters to them is their own pocketbooks?
I guess the voters of Districts 2 and 6 will get to decide.
Tuesday, January 11, 2005
They’re also either encouraging their solicitors to lie, or they’re not training them very well. Either way, they are soliciting signatures under false pretenses, which only further mars the reputations of the groups pursuing this undemocratic endeavor.
A contributor to the TulsaNow.org forums filed an interesting post. He is a west Tulsa resident and apparently delights in punishing telemarketers. You can read his post here.
Most disturbingly, however, I received a call from a constituent that got nine…count them…nine phone calls today from recall screeners. He and his wife are both retirees, and apparently she possesses a very useful, but increasingly rare talent; she can take shorthand. So…her husband answered the phone and engaged the caller, while she listened in on the other line and took down as much as she could of the conversation. Here’s what they got from their conversation with tele-geek David from Unknown Area Code, NY:
David: I’m asking for your support in the recall of Chris Medlock. Are you familiar with Chris Medlock, sire?
Voter: Oh, I know who he is.
David: Would you be willing to sign a petition to recall him, sir?
Voter: What are they going to recall him for?
David: Well, he has become an embarrassment for District 2. He is publicly berating citizens who volunteer their time…angered suburban neighbors by refusing to extend the water supply…setting Tulsa residents up to pay even more for their water. He has made Tulsa unattractive to incoming businesses by making a [polygraph?] development fund and alienating local businesses. Those are just a few of the thing he has been up to.
Voter: You think he has even more conflict of interest than the people who were there?
David: Yes sir.
Voter: What does he do to do that?
David: Well, he’s the little ringleader of the councilmen who are causing trouble for the City of Tulsa.
Voter: You think he is benefiting financially?
David: I’m not sure.
Councilor Roscoe Turner’s wife told of a co-worker who received a call from these maroons. They told her that my transgressions were that I had “passed a law so that you couldn’t use your sprinklers” AND that I “owned land that I refused to sell for economic development.”
All of this would be hilariously funny, if it weren’t for all of the trouble expense that we all went through in order to create the 200-words-or-less response to the 200-words-or-less accusations, that were printed on the petitions, that most people will never be given an opportunity to read. Instead, they are given urban mythology, or any conceived concoction of a mind that is most likely suffering from dementia, caused by the boredom of a telemarketing job they hate, and their fourth Red Bull of the day.
Remember that the League of Women Voters has already stated that the number of signatures called for in the Tulsa Charter to require a recall vote is already ridiculously low. Now we learn that a large percentage of the people being solicited are not even going to be given accurate information on which to make their decision. The level of dishonesty in order to achieve a political aim is even making the machinations of the Tulsa World editorialists seem tame by comparison.
I challenge Jon Davidson and Herb Haschke to prove they are honorable men and call an end to these lies. That, or produce proof that I have:
-Publicly berated citizens who volunteer their time.
-Ever cast a vote or stated publicly that I would not sell water to the suburbs.
-Ever passed any law that kept people from being able to use their sprinklers
-Ever used “terrorist tactics”
On second thought, why bother. These men have no honor, or the would’ve quit their selfish and destructive actions after the Mayor, the Tulsa County Republican Executive Committee, the Chairman of the Oklahoma Republican Party, the local chapter of the NAACP and the League of Women voters told them what they were doing was wrong.
I’m going to bed.
Monday, January 10, 2005
I wish I could leave the answer to this ridiculous question at that. However, it was inferred in Saturday's paper that my fellow councilors and I "use terrorist tactics," apparently to punish our political opponents...that is...when we can learn who those opponents are.
The January 8th, edition of the Tulsa World had a story under the headline, "Coalition behind recall lists some members." Once again, the ill-named Coalition for Responsible Government 2004 sent out a Friday press release, in order to get minimum readership in the Saturday edition. Why would they do that? Because they provided virtually no new names, but wanted a headline that could be cited whenever they face future allegations that they aren't naming the names of the twenty-five or so members they claimed to have, when the first came into being.
Before Saturday, the only two definite names that we had were Jon Davidson of the Tulsa Sheraton and Herbert Haschke, local real estate attorney and associate of the water board's Jim Cameron and Lou Reynolds.
It was Mr. Davidson that used the T-word, though. Apparently answering the question, "Why don't you list the twenty-five individuals your group claims to have?" Mr. Davidson replied as follows:
“'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."
I would probably have been shocked to hear myself as a practitioner of terrorist tactics, if I hadn't already been accused of using "jack-booted tactics that went out of style in 1940's Germany." That little gem was leveled at me by out-going Chamber Chairman Bob Poe. In fact, between the CRG2004 membership, Mr. Poe, John Benjamin and the editorialists at the Tulsa World, there seems to be a concerted effort to inject insult and character assassination which is devoid of grounding in fact, as a substitute for reasoned discourse and debate.
Or, perhaps I've been sleep walking of late, and in my somnambulistic state, I've been making pipe bombs? Hey...it's possible.
According to Mr. Davidson's own words, our terrorist tactics supposedly began before CRG2004 began its efforts. After all, he said, "It’s those very tactics that spurred the recall." I've been wracking my brain, trying to determine just what actions we took that qualified as terrorist-like.
Surely it wasn't the council's 5 to 4 vote to not approve Mr. Cameron and Mr. Reynolds for reappointment to the water board. That was done quietly, and was well within our purview as a council. It is a charter right for us to approve or disapprove the Mayor's appointments.
Was it our desire to see the actual appraisals on Peggy Jones' Denver Grill? Or, was it our failure, by a 6 to 3 vote mind you, to not annex the twenty-three square miles of north Tulsa County?
I sure wish Mr. Davidson could enlighten us as to what actions prompted his extraordinary statement. Maybe if we knew what it was we did, we could correct it before the new Homeland Security Director gets wind of our activities.
On second thought, maybe they should look into Mr. Davidson and his cronies' activities. After all, it is they who are trying to overthrow a duly elected government.
Sunday, January 09, 2005
Just a few short months after I was elected for the first time to the District 2 city council seat (May of 2003 to be exact), District 1 Councilor Joe Williams and I convinced Mayor LaFortune to support a joint council/administration resolution creating a Tulsa future growth task force. CLICK HERE TO SEE TULSA WORLD ARTICLE. (Color highlights are added for emphasis).
The general idea that we were floating was to create a group of elected and non-elected participants that would carry on a two-year conversation about Tulsa and its future growth needs and issues. The task force itself would be relatively small, comprising of probably no more that six or seven permanent members.
The plan was to have this core group take up various issues relating to growth for a period of time. For instance, they might study the impact of the permitting process on developers for a couple of months, collecting information and speaking to the relevant sources, experts and interested parties. After collecting information, they would move on to another growth issue...perhaps areas for potential annexation, strategic planning for development of new sewer and water lines to benefit Tulsa growth, etc.
As each of these topics would be brought up and studied, subject matter experts from each of the impacted communities would be invited to join the panel for the period of relevant discussion. This way, the size of the group could remain limited to be effective, and would not require participants to sit through meetings on subject matters they weren't familiar with, thus reducing the time commitment for participation.
The general rationale that Councilor Williams and I shared was this;
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.
My business school experience drilled into me the concept of bringing all the players to one table to find areas of common ground and to search for synergies that were not readily apparent in order to tackle a strategic problem. As such, the Future Growth Task Force seemed like an ideal plan.
But the discerning reader will note that no such task force currently exists. So what happened?
In short, Mayor LaFortune and six councilors supported the plan initially; Councilor Williams and myself as sponsors, joined by Councilors Baker, Neal, Roop and Patrick.
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.
I have since learned that the three councilors' opposition was heavily influenced by the same developer groups that were announced Saturday as being leaders in the recall effort.
In fact, on one particular afternoon, I went up to the Mayor's office hoping to chat about the situation with then Deputy Mayor Steve Sewell. As I approached Sewell's office, I heard that he was on the phone. I waited outside, seeking to hear if he was going to be wrapping the conversation up soon, so that I could pop my head in. It didn't take long before I realized that he was speaking to Councilor Justis about the taskforce and how he and Josh Fowler of the Metro Home Builders wanted the Mayor to withdraw his support.
I decided that discretion required that I let Mr. Sewell know that I was outside and could hear what he was talking about. What ensued, after he hastily ended the call, was a conversation that led me to the conclusion that my attempts at a thoughtful and consensus-building approach to the future growth of Tulsa, was going to be trumped by the self-interests of a small, but influential business alliance, which had planned its immediate future around development of the suburbs. Future developments that were potentially at the expense of the city the Mayor and I were elected to represent.
As such, what could've been Tulsa's future passed us by and is now Tulsa's past. As for me? I'm characterized as anti-growth and unwilling to work with all sides to develop consensus.
Who says life isn't filled with irony?
Monday, January 03, 2005
The two predominate philosophies before us today are green field/expansion growth and density growth.
My best guess as to the root of the “anti-growth” accusation has to be our opposition to Mayor LaFortune’s proposal to annex 23 square miles of north Tulsa County. With the notable exception of the Cherokee Industrial Park, the vast majority of the proposal was to take in “green field” or undeveloped land. There were numerous reasons this was an ill-conceived endeavor, not the least of which was a total lack of any comprehensive plan for the development of the area, save for the plan devised in the early 1970s.
Twenty-three square miles of new city would have added an area to Tulsa’s city limits equivalent to the entire square mileage of Tulsa in the early 1930s. It took us over thirty years to develop the infrastructure for the city up to that point. It isn’t unreasonable to conclude that the addition of this much land, with the requirement by state law that we provide sewer and water to the area, would significantly tie up our next several Third Penny Sales Tax and General Obligation Bond packages.
If we are spending money building new streets, sewers and water systems, where will we get the funding to rehabilitate all of the streets, sewers and waterlines that were build in the early decades of the last century, when we were urbanizing the first twenty-three square miles?
Density development is more efficient in its use of tax dollars. For instance, it costs less to build a short but larger diameter waterline for a high density area of a given population, than it does to build a long but thin line for the same population that is spread out over a wider area that is farther from the core.
Tulsa is now at the same stage of its development as some of our older and larger neighbors were earlier. Cities like Kansas City and Dallas were eventually ringed in by their suburbs and were limited in how and where they could grow. We should learn the lessons that their experiences have to teach us.
Given that suburbs, by their nature are newer than the core cities they abut, it follows that they have newer schools, streets and water and sewer lines. Their shopping centers will be newer and zoned and planned to a more modern standard that is in keeping with current retail trends. The homes that house the bedrooms of these “bedroom communities,” are also newer, with more modern conveniences and less upkeep.
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.
It is the latter that makes the loss of the Bass Pro Shoppe to Broken Arrow such a disturbing occurrence, which may represent the single greatest failure of Mayor LaFortune’s administration. But more on that some other time.
Tulsa’s streets have been rated by one national organization as the ninth worst in the United States. Many of water and sewer lines in the neighborhoods, which are promising for infill development, are nearing the century mark in age and beg for rehabilitation. This has been increasingly difficult to do, given that our water board’s priorities of regional green field development to the suburbs coupled with Federal sewer mandates, which have drained much of the resources Tulsa needs to modernize its older areas.
A final point that warrants mention in my North Tulsa County annexation opposition is the fact that all development in the area, would have benefited two school districts via increased ad valorem tax revenues. These would have been the Sperry and Owasso school districts. If we continue to see disproportionate growth into the areas that support suburban school districts, thus increasing the property values of the suburbs at the expense of the core city, then it follows that we will see no end to the movement of the young professionals and middle-class from Tulsa and to the suburbs.
This is the key demographic that lures most retail companies into an area. Retail follows key demographics with disposable income. Families from such demographic groups follow solid school systems. Suburban school systems benefit to a far greater incremental benefit from each dollar of increased property values, which are fueled by new development.
Decreased property values in Tulsa make it harder for Tulsa’s three school systems (Tulsa Public Schools, Jenks and Union) to compete. In the short term, this is especially damaging to TPS. Suburban flight takes incremental tax dollars out of Tulsa, which makes it doubly difficult to fix aging streets, water and sewer lines, as well as to adequately fund public safety. Decreased police and fire support adds volatile fuels to the cycle that pushes even more people out of the core city.
Sound familiar? It should.
I am not anti-growth. What I am is realistic. If we don’t begin changing some trends, then Tulsa is going to look more like inner-city Baltimore than it is inner-city Kansas City.
Regionalism is all well and good, but it should be a two-way street. If we are supposed to give to the greater good of the region, then it is fair to assume that we should receive proportionally. What we have right now are anti-growth accusations being made by selfish business interests that have spent the past several decades injecting Tulsa’s sales tax revenues and resources into their business plans.
I think it’s time for a new discussion and some new policies to address Tulsa’s new realities.