Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Swake in the Grass

There is quite a lively debate going on over in the TulsaNow.org forums about my transcript problems. The debate started with the question of "In Tulsa, is this what they call front page news?"

I am collecting some of the questions and postulations, in the hope of clarifying some of the most common. However, I felt compelled to quickly respond to the wild imaginings posing as "probable truth," by the cynical "Swake."

Mr. "Swake," whose real name is Onslow S. Wakeford, III, is a resident of Jenks. He has made no secret of his disdain for me. Today, after questioning my integrity he offered the following theory:

"...I want to know what proof has been presented that his getting his MBA would be so simple, who has he shown his transcript to? Are we now taking his “word” on that? Maybe he is missing one class but his overall GPA might not be high enough to awarded a masters, that would be a good reason to take an “I” instead of a grade and then be denied the degree. I’m guessing the truth is something like that."
Well, so sorry to disappoint. Who have I shown my transcript to? Try none other than P.J. Lassek of the Tulsa World. She was allowed to see it on Friday afternoon after I got an official copy from TU. Unfortunately, she was too impatient to wait for me to learn what the reality of my situation was before surveying the other councilors for their reactions to my transcript transgression.

The average person reading her Sunday story would assume the following timeline:

Ask Medlock for initial response ===> Wait to see transcript and Medlock reaction ===> survey other councilors for reaction to Medlock's explanation.

However, she transposed the the last two steps, so you got really great quotes from my peers who feared/hoped for the worst. [Just another subtle form of media bias.]

Given that Mr. Wakeford is a frequent defender of the World editorial board, I would hope he'd be willing to take the World's word for it...but believe me, no one knows how difficult such a leap of faith is, for a rational person.

It is apparent that Mr. Wakeford is beginning to realize that this incident, despite its placement above-the-fold on the front page of the Sunday World, is unlikely to be a cherry bomb, as opposed to the thermonuclear bomb for which my detractors had hoped. As such, in the best tradition of the conspiracy theorists, he summons up the moral certitude of a Baptist elder and proclaims a likely scenario that not only portrays me as a liar, but stupid, too!

It's perfect. Too bad Mr. Wakeford isn't as prescient when facts are presented as he is when he has an entire palette of possibility on which to paint. So, Osmond, just so we can let you save your quota of 'suspended disbelief' for the next Michael Moore movie, I offer you and all of my detractors a copy of my transcript. [Sorry...I redacted my ID number so that I might enjoy some measure of privacy.]


Please note the following:
  1. My cumulative GPA coming out of the Spring 1992 semester was a 3.714. Honors was 3.75, which supports my contention that I took the "I" to attempt to get the "A" I would need to move above 3.75.
  2. I took 9 credit hours during the Summer 1992 semester. TU officials warned grad students that the work load for graduate classes was double that for undergrad business work. As such, a 9 credit hour semester would be equivalent to taking 18 hours of undergraduate work. Because the summer semester was half as long as a standard semester, taking 6 hours was the equivalent in course work as taking 24 credit hours during a standard undergrad semester.
  3. Going into that final summer semester, my GPA for "non-quant" classes was a respectable 4.0. International Marketing was just such a course, which should support my contention that I had an "A" in the class without "the paper." [Yes...I know, that's inductive and not deductive logic...but give me a little slack, ok?]
  4. After the summer session, I ended up with two "B's" in what should've been blow off classes for me. This supports my contention that the strain of working 40 hours per week on an internship [that turned into a five-year job], taking what amounted to 24 credit hours of class work, working 10 - 15 hours a week in the computer lab to meet my Teaching Assistantship requirements, as well as sending out resume's to other companies, just in case my internship didn't pan out, impacted my ability to "nail" those two classes.
  5. 30 credit hours is all that was required to earn an MBA if the student had a BS or equivalent in a business discipline, from an acreditted university. I had a BS in Marketing [yes...I know that's redundant] from Northeaster State University.

Sorry if these facts don't gibe with your well thought out scenario, Swake.

I do want to remind those that didn't read my prior posting on this issue, that I blame no one for this situation other than myself. It is definitely embarrassing. However, I would hope that you would ask for the facts, wait for the facts and analyze the facts, before coming to such a cynical conclusion.

Grant me that respect and I will show you the same.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

A Slip of the Roop

I'm getting ready to walk out of the door for church, so I don't have enough time to respond to this morning's newest installment on all of my foibles as told by the Recall Reporter (a.k.a. The Tulsa Wolrd). I just want to give those of you who are playing hooky from church a little tidbit that jumped out at me from the responses of my peers.

Buried near the end of the story, is this quote from our city's Chief (Information and) Administrative Officer (or C.I.A.O.), Sam Roop:

"Sam Roop, a former councilor who resigned to take a spot in the mayor's cabinet, said he had heard rumors that the degree didn't exist."
Gee...I hadn't heard any rumors and I work at City Hall, too. None of the remaining "Gang of Five" members had heard any rumors. So where did Sam hear these rumors?

Was it the Mayor's office, where he works? I'm sure he'll vehemently deny that!

No...most likely the source of the "rumors" that Sam heard was none other than his friend and confidente, Jim Burdge. Yes, the same Jim Burdge who currently draws his paycheck (financial sources still undisclosed) as Squadron Leader Imperiale of the Right Order of the Recall Rabble.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Am I Getting the Third Degree?

Actually, I found out yesterday that I might not completely have gotten my second degree. Rather, a phone call I received at around 9:30 AM on Friday [note:I had previously and mistakenly written Thursday], from Ms. P. J. Lassek of the Tulsa World, sent what had been a carefully planned day into a tailspin.

I had just sat down at my home-office computer to do some graphics work for a friend, when my cell phone began to play my chosen ring-tune, the theme to the 1960's TV series, "Route 66." I picked up the phone and looked at the caller ID. When I saw it was Ms. Lassek, I sighed, figuring that she was calling for a follow-up comment on the Gueirwoods Plat vote that had taken place at the council meeting the night before. I collected my thoughts and answered.

The conversation that followed could not have been more surprising. Long and short of it was, Ms. Lassek was writing a story for this Sunday's edition and wanted to get my comment. However, she wasn't writing about the plat. Rather, she wanted comment on allegations that had been made by an unnamed source (someone associated with the recall rabble, I'm sure) that said that despite my numerous claims to have a Masters of Business Administration from the University of Tulsa, that in actuality, I did not have such a degree.

I was stunned. The only thing more shocking to hear would've been to have been told something to the effect of, "Your campaign literature claims that you have been married to your wife Cheryl for 25 years, but we can find no record of your marriage." Just as I had, in 1979, stood before a Baptist preacher who was more nervous than I, and repeated wedding vows, I knew that I had gone to TU for a year and a half, and studied in the Graduate Business School.

For a brief moment, I knew I had chosen the wrong ring-tune for my phone. A better 1960's TV theme would've been "The Twighlight Zone," which I ironically already had downloaded.

Needless to say, it took some time for me to collect my thoughts, as my mind was swimming. I would go back and forth from trying to figure out what SNAFU could possibly have lead to a rather thorough reporter making such an assertion, to who might have "monkeyed" with my transcript. Trust me, when you're under the glare of scrutiny I find myself under, you begin to believe the opposition will stoop to almost anything. Given that I've stepped on some pretty important toes, over the past year, my mind could easily have dreamt up several scenarios.

However, I reminded myself of the wisdom of Ockham's Razor, which is a principle which is often interpreted to mean that the simplest of two or more competing theories is preferable. As such, I took a couple of deep breaths, put some oxygen back into my brain, and reasoned that human error was most likely the culprit. The question merely remained, what was the error and who had made it.

Ms. Lassek, as always the thorough interviewer began offering her own postulates. She was forced to theorize, since she had quickly informed me that the university's Registrar was anything but cooperative. Privacy laws dictated that the only thing that the school could confirm was the time period during which I studied and that "they could not verify that Chris Medlock had received an MBA from the University of Tulsa."

"Could it have been an unpaid parking ticket," Ms. Lassek threw out. "Maybe unpaid tuition?"

My mind raced, but I never received a ticket and I was on full scholarship for the entire time I studied there, so I never owed tuition in the first place.

Lassek also tried to trap me by stating emphatically, "you knew Chris...as controversial and in the spotlight as you are...that this would eventually be found out. You knew that, right?"

To which I replied, something along the lines of, "P.J., I would've had to have known that "this" had happened to know that it would have come out."

[Note to P.J., whom I'm sure will read this, the exchanges above are the best of my recollection, given how knocked off balance I was, so if your tape recorder says different, let me know and I'll correct any misquote as soon as I can find some dark and dank corner of my web site to equal the nether regions that the World uses to bury its corrections.]

Anyway, let's make a long story short. After hanging up with Lassek, I called the TU Registrar's office and got a very nice and very professional woman named Jinna Langston. She greeted me by saying, "I thought I'd be hearing from you some time soon."

She told me that she couldn't give me any information over the phone, so I would have to come down to the campus to get filled in. I told her that the paper was running the story on Sunday, so that I would need, if possible, to come in that day. She said, "no problem," and we set up an appointment for 1:00 PM that afternoon.

I was a little late arriving, after having a hard time finding the right building and then finding a parking space. Ms. Langston had stepped out for a few minutes by the time I got there, so I had to wait on a couch in the reception area until she arrived.

When we finally got into her office, she quickly pushed a photocopy of my transcript across her desk, pointing with her pen at a particular line item.

"Here's the problem," she calmly relayed. "You have an "I" [incomplete] on your transcript for this class."

The class was International Marketing, which I took in the Spring semester of 1992. I remembered the class well, because part of the curriculum was a trip to visit businesses in London, Brussels and Paris, that had local ties.

Immediately I began trying to recreate the environment of that time. I took two classes the following Summer, so that I could graduate as quickly as possible. During that same Summer, I had secured a 40-hour per week internship with TD Williamson, Inc., doing marketing analysis. TDW was one of the companies we had visited when in Brussels. Despite working from 8 to 5, Monday through Friday at TDW, I had twice as many courses as was normally allowed and I had to work 10 to 15 hours per week in the computer lab to earn my scholarship and stipend.

In other words, I was a busy guy. My wife remembers almost never seeing me during this two month period.

As I pushed aside the cobwebs of my memory, I remembered that I had requested the "I" in the class, because I hadn't had a chance to complete a paper that was worth [once again, a fuzzy memory] something like 15-20% of the grade. As I recall, I had a low "A" in the class, so if I didn't turn in the paper, I would be dropped to a "C."

My overall GPA was just over 3.5 at the time, and I was afraid that a "C" might have caused me to drop below the level needed to graduate with honors. [Actually, my fuzzy memory tells me that 3.75 was necessary for honors, but that some other term was reserved for 3.5+]

The bottom line is this. The university never released my transcript, because of the 'incomplete.' I never learned of the fact, because I finished my two Summer classes, receiving a "B" in both. At the end of the semester, TDW offered me a permanent position with the company as a Marketing Analyst. While the money wasn't spectacular, the opportunity was, and besides, the salary looked damned good after living on a $600/month stipend.

Because I graduated in August, there was no Commencement Service in which to walk, until May. By that time, I was well into my new career and had just bought the house I currently live in. I didn't apply for my diploma, because my undergraduate diploma was [and still is] in its original leather holder in a box in my closet.

Hard as it is for some to believe, I wasn't after the sheepskin, I was after the opportunity for a career that the education afforded me. So, for 13 years, I went on thinking that I had done all I needed to do to claim "having and MBA from the University of Tulsa."

At worst, what I have learned is, I am but one paper short of just that. I have all of the education and knowledge that comes from having taken the academic journey, except for what would've been attained from the process of finishing a half-completed report.

Because the professor for the course, Dr. Neidell, is in China right now, I'm not able to see what options are available to me. I remember Dr. Neidell as very smart [MIT I seem to recall], a little bit of a stickler for detail, but otherwise very affable. He was very knowledgeble about the companies we had visited, since he had taken several classes on similar trips over the years.

I too, can be a bit of a stickler. I am prepared to be told that the "incomplete" has languished to long for me to be given any credit. If this is the case, I will try to see what can be done so that I can finish this, once and for all.

The University of Tulsa has been incredibly generous to me. By making me a Mayo Scholar, I was able to, at a relatively advanced time in my life, study and achieve a degree [almost, as we have now learned] that has changed my life. Whatever they determine must happen will be more than appropriate and I would never try to blaim the school or anyone associated with the school for this situation, save one person.

That person would be me.

[Note: I will try to write more on the political issues surrounding this development later, as some of the facts become known.]

Come Ye Up Out of Jordan

No one would be surprised should the New York Times, or any other liberal newspaper, choose to print a letter to the editor, written by George McGovern, that was critical of George W. Bush. After all, Mr. McGovern sought, but did not attain, the very office the Mr. Bush now occupies AND they are from different poles on the political spectrum.

Equally so, it should come as no surprise that today, the left leaning Tulsa World printed a scathing letter to the editor by Linda Jordan, in which Ms. Jordan opines that the four remaining members of the Gang of Five have put our city "on its ear."

I won't go into too much of the rest of her content, because you've read it all before from other letter writers in previous editions of TTW. Her complaint, as well as the other mid-towners that share her views, can be summed up with something like:
"Who do these people think they are? Don't they know it takes years of networking and tedious attendence on innocuous public service committees, lots of donations to a couple of museum fund drives and at least a year of dues paying through either Leadership Tulsa or, if you're really lucky, Leadership Oklahoma, to have the right to make decisions here in our fair city?"
But what is important to note isn't so much what Linda Jordan has to say, but who Linda Jordan is!

Linda Jordan, wife of Tulsa school board member Gary Percefull, was the unsuccessful Democrat nominee in the 2000 election for Tulsa City Council District 2. That's right...the district I currently represent. Ms. Jordan was defeated rather handily by then political newcomer and Republican, Randi Miller.

She and her husband Gary operate a small marketing and public relations outfit under the name of Scissortail Group. Through this entity, they were awarded the contract to do all of the organizing and marketing of last Summer's International Route 66 Festival. Reviews as to the success of the festival varied greatly. I happen to think Michael Bates of www.batesline.com, did a pretty solid job of critiquing both camps arguments in his article entitled "Pair of sixes paradox." However, I think Ms. Jordan might take issue with him, too, since my take was that Mr. Bates' chief complaint was how the event was organized and communicated.

Ms. Jordan notes in her letter this morning, that she now lives in District 4, where she informs the reader that her "councilor shows up." [I'll take the time at a later date to explain to Ms. Jordan how I have a better attendence record than her councilor] "Her councilor" is of course Tom Baker. Baker is a Democrat, a former fire chief and the son of the late Aileen Baker, who served North Tulsa County for several years in the Oklahoma legislature.

But what may be of more interest is the fact that Baker barely won his last race for the D4 seat, beating Republican newcomer Eric Gomez by a couple of dozen votes. So who was Baker's 2004 campaign manager? None other than Gary Percefull, Ms. Jordan's betrothed.

Linda Jordan is certainly entitled to her opinion, and I do not begrudge her any forum willing to allow her to express that opinion. In fact, I won't even accuse her of grandstanding by seeking out newspaper exposure. What is disappointing is that the newspaper didn't share how close she is to the politics of both the Districts 2 and 4.

What we can learn from this is, not all "good ol' boys," are boys.

GTAR & Feathers

Michael Bates has an interesting post that references a CNN/Money story regarding an apparent federal investigation into real estate practices in Tulsa.

The most interesting item in the story, to me at least, is the following:
"An Antitrust Division spokeswoman confirmed the existence of the investigation but declined to provide additional details.

"Al Unser, executive director of the Greater Tulsa Association of Realtors said: 'We received a CID [civil investigative demand] from the Justice Dept. and we have responded.'"
For those of you that haven't been following the efforts of the misnamed Coalition for Responsible Government to recall Councilor Jim Mautino and myself, then the name Al Unser won't mean anything to you.

No, it is not the Al Unser that won several Indy 500 races. This Al Unser, aside from running the local real estate association, is one of the few names that we know is directly backing the recall effort. In fact, Mr. Unser circulated several of the petitions and signed the affidavit on the back attesting to having witnessed the signing of each and every signature on said petitions.

It should come as a shock to no one, that I am not surprised the local real estate industry is being investigated for bullying tactics. After all, we've contended all along that the recall is as much an attempt to intimidate future councilors who might want to question the "Good Ol' Boy Network's" activities. Now we're learning that the Feds suspect these same ol' boys (& girls) might not only be bullying elected officials, but some of their own members, too.

I have many friends that are realtors, and members of GTAR. Heck...even my wife is a dues paying member. My grandfather held a real estate license and I have often thought about acquiring one. There is nothing wrong with the profession as a whole.

However, it is apparent to me that the local real estate industry is burdened with some over aggressive and arrogant leadership. I would hope this investigation would serve as a wake up call for what I am sure is the vast majority of the GTAR members, to clean up their house. (I'll spare you the pun that I first thought of writing with regard to realtors and"cleaning house.")

If I may be so bold to suggest a starting point, the membership need look no further than Al Unser himself. If you're a GTAR member and you're unhappy with your professional organization's involvement in the recall effort, then this latest development should tell you that you are very likely in need of a new executive director.

There is nothing wrong with GTAR that firing Al Unser wouldn't vastly improve.

Charter Trumps State Law

Thursday's Tulsa World had yet another letter to the editor that painted Jim Mautino and I in a bad light.

Under the headline, "Where's the Consistency," Dave Mendoza writes:
"City Councilors Jim Mautino and Chris Medlock have filed a lawsuit to verify the signatures of the recall petition. I thought Mike Kier had already performed this function. Silly me.

In the council race between David Patrick and Roscoe Turner, a recount petition was filed by Turner to determine the outcome of the election.

State law was followed, no signatures were compared to registered voter signatures, the votes were recounted and Turner was declared the winner."
Then he goes on to ask...not surprisingly...where's the consistency?

Well Mr. Mendoza, your logic is flawed. The City of Tulsa is a charter city. That means, we are allowed to adopt ordinaces or practices different from those of municipalities that aren't charter cities.

The recall procedures are spelled out in the city's charter. They state infatically;

"The signature of each petitioner on the supporting petitions shall correspond with that appearing on the official voter registration books applicable to the city."

The contention of our suit is that state procedures (like that used in Councilor Turner's election) are trumped, because Tulsa's charter mandates a different procedure, as stated above.

Consistency is a fine thing. But the law is the law.

The charter trumps state law and that is why we've brought the question to a judge.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Wrong Again, P. J.

There are actually too many factual errors in P J Lassek's coverage of City Hall to ever address. However, one popped up in her puff piece for today's Sunday World.

Ms. Lassek writes,

"The [F&M Bank] project has been controversial since the day the bank sought to rezone the site, which lies in Medlock's council district.

"A judge ruled in favor of the bank's rezoning, despite arguments by protesters that Jackere and other city attorneys unfairly handled a 2003 protest petition that could have stopped the development. The protesters are appealing the judge's ruling."
This is misleading journalism at its best. What the judge ruled on, was an argument put forth by Tulsa's legal eagles, which said in essence, "since the city's charter has no language that expressly allows for the super-majority ordinance [that pre-dates the charter], that any ordinance requiring such, should be determined null and void."

I may be light on the legalese, but that's pretty much the argument.

However, Ms. Lassek leads the reader to believe that the judge in the case ruled on the merits of the home owner's lawsuit, which is not true.

Interim City Attorney Allen Jackere forgot that his primary duty is to defend Tulsa's charter and his second duty is to defend Tulsa's ordinances. In order to win a 5 to 4 zoning case, Mr. Jackere weakend the charter and destroyed an ordinance that gave to Tulsa home owners, the same protections that every other citizen of Oklahoma enjoys.

Winning on a technical argument regarding the validity of the underlying ordinance is a far cry from winning on the merits of the case. Should the Oklahoma Supreme Court send the case back to district court, I'm confident that the home owners will prevail.

Get the facts right, P. J.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Sin of Omission

Buried within a somewhat rambling story under the headline, "Councilors advised to hire lawyers," P. J. Lassek of the Tulsa World wrote:

"Turner, Henderson, Mautino and Medlock tried to thwart a move to wait until the 5 p.m. meeting to vote on the chairman even after learning that Baker's absence from the 3 p.m. meeting was because his wife had been taken to the hospital."
Ms. Lassek and I had a rather "lively" phone conversation regarding her reporting of this incident. When Councilor Sullivan asked to put off the vote for leadership until 5:00 PM out of cooperation, I admonished him that he always seeks cooperation when his voting bloc is at a disadvantage, but takes every opportunity to seek advantage when one of "the gang" is absent. I reminded him of his attempt to shove through the North Tulsa County Annexation, when Councilor Mautino had to fly back to Tulsa from Florida, where he was attending a family reunion.

I pointed out to him, looking squarely at Councilor Neal, that cooperation always seems to flow more from "the Gang," then it does from the Bloc of 2002.

Ms. Lassek felt that the mere mention of anything critical of the Bloc '02 constituted joining in on an attempt to "thwart."

In an e-mail to Lassek, I wrote that if I were indeed cooperating with an effort to "thwart," then the move would've indeed been thwarted. There were four gang memebers present and only three from the Bloc '02. So, if all four of us were busy "thwarting," how come the move wasn't thwarted? Ms. Lassek left that tidbit out.

There was a formal motion to delay the vote until 5PM when Councilor Baker could be back from taking his wife to the hospital. It passed by a vote of 4 to 3. The "nay" votes were Turner, Henderson and Mautino. They "yes" votes were Sullivan, Christiansen, Neal and...you guessed it...Medlock.

I caught hell from a fellow councilor after the meeting and was reminded by another that my "yes" vote effectively ended my chances of being Vice-Chairman.

I told them I had no interest in stooping to the level of Randy Sullivan.

None of this, however, made it to the newspapers.