Sunday, May 29, 2005

Going National

More on this later, but our city is thought of in OKC is the least of our problems. Today's Sunday Washington Post (May 29, 2005; Page A02) has a brief story on our "Total Recall." Although they miss the mark in my viewpoint, it is one of the first indications that the effort begun by the Coalition for Responsible Government to recall two members of the Gang of Five (remember, they surveyed four districts for vulnerability) in order to protect the momentum the city had from Vision 2025, has back fired on them.

Coast to Coast
A national briefing of people, issues and events around the country

Total Recall:
Both Sides in Tulsa Council Feud Face Referendum

An 18-month feud between factions on the Tulsa City Council has stymied city operations and horrified residents, as dueling recall efforts dominate the news.

"It's an embarrassment," said Republican Councilman Chris Medlock, who is facing a recall vote on July 12. "We should be able to have a debate about issues, even a contentious debate. . . . This is a bloodless coup."

Way to go Jon Davidson! Thanks to the selfishness of you and your friends, you've brought us to the brink of being a national laughingstock.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

The Moon, Six Pence and Five...Count Them...Five Letters to the Editor

Perhaps my favorite writer of all time is W. Somerset Maugham. Anyone who wants to put this to the test, need only to ask me to show them the few e-books currently on my Palm Treo 650.

I'm reading "Funnymen," the second novel by Catch-22 author, Joseph Heller's son Ted. His first novel, "Slabrat" is a hillarious look into the dark and seemy world of the publishing industry. His critique travels well into virtually any industry where there are young, ambitious and creative people who are thrown into the competitive world of the American corporation.

I also have a copy of the King James version of the Bible in electronic form. I've already noticed that several of the older women in my Bible study class looking at me with veiled disdain for being more interested in my PDA than in the scriptures the class is studying.

Another electronic book I'm carrying is "The Moon and Six Pence," which is a novel loosely based on the life of Paul Gaugin. An angry man who's creative compulsions led him to leave a successful career and loving family to run off into a world of decadance and semi-naked Tahitian maidens.

All of this is a contorted way to get to a quote that stuck me when I checke the online version of the Tulsa Sunday World this evening, only to find that the letters to the editor contain five...count them...five letters calling for my resignation from the City Council due to my failure to turn in a half completed research paper 13 years ago.

I've already begun delving into who some of the authors are, with some interesting results (God bless the Internet), but felt the spirit move me to share with you this quote by W. Somerset Maugham, who is the author of "The Moon and Six Pence."

"Excess on occasion is exhilarating. It prevents moderation from acquiring the deadening effect of habit."
Seeking to end the "tyranny of the rule of the Gang of Five," the Tulsa World forwent "the deadening effect of habit," and printed and "excessive" five letters slamming me. Is it cynical to note that this "exhilarating" lack of "moderation" occurs in the paper a mere two days before the District 5 special election that will determine (at least for two months) which philosophical leaning will control the City Council?

A single letter would've left me mildly chastised. Two letters would've had me contrite. Three letters might have had me apoplectic. Four letters would've left me shaking my head and asking, "Is it just me, or...?" But FIVE letters has me saying, "Hey you think we're that stupid?"

Oh...but there is SOOO much more!

Not satisfied enough to merely include the angry rantings of a 72 year old man who has been sued more times than Bill Christiansen, the Tulsa World really crossed over into a surreal world that Salvador Dali could never have imagined, by including these words by the Joe Westervelt:

"These three councilors have soiled the institution of the City Council, broken the laws of the city, violated the City Charter, shirked their responsibilities to attend council meetings and now have publicly vilified a competent city employee. This is not dissimilar to their arrogant and confrontational disrespect shown citizen appointees to various boards and authorities. It appears that the recall is almost too civilized a removal process for elected officials who are so lacking in character and integrity."

Joe Westervelt, Tulsa Joe Westervelt is former chairman of Tulsa Metropolitan Area Planning Commission.
Arrogant and confrontational Mr. Westervelt? You're the King of Mean! I watched you summarily dismiss almost 50 citizens who had taken the afternoon off to come downtown to witness a TMAPC meeting in which the 71st & Harvard question would be discussed. You and your ilk, pulled the agenda item, told (not asked) the assembled to clear the room and then turned your back on them so that you didn't have to waste your time watching them leave disappointed. [Click here to see why Mr. Westervelt isn't fond of me. I encourage you to read the whole story.]

Well...they didn't leave disappointed, Jo Jo. They left angry! In fact, they marched to the Mayor's offic and made the evening news!

I am relatively confident that I'll survive this recall question (although I recognize that today's letters to the editor are one of the first indications of the opinion gauntlet I'll have to run), but I can say this with total sincerity:

"I was still standing when you were sent packing, Mr. Westervelt."

God's speed in your private life, because your public life has been put to an end by the people to whom, for year upon year, you have shown an "arrogant and confrontational disrespect."

Thus proving there is still justice in the world.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

For Charlotte Harer

Next Tuesday, the voters of District 5 will go to the polls to select which philosophical camp will control the Tulsa City Council for the rest of the 2004-2005 session. There are seven...oops...Nancy Jackson forwent her last 10 minutes of fame and dropped out, backing Bill Christiansen clone, Bill Martinson...six names on the ballot, but only four legitimate chances for victory.

The third and fourth thumbs are Allen Harjo and David Weaver. These two, having seen them twice at candidate forums, are affable guys who seem to be of the mold of, "Gee...think I'll run for office" crowd.

The four legitimate candidates are Democrats Al Nichols and Andy Phillips, and Republicans Charlotte Harer and Bill Martinson. A high-level analysis of the election breaks the four candidates down in a four celled matrix. Click here to view this matrix.

Those voters that are most likely to vote in District 5 tend to vote 55% Republican and 45% Democrat. Given that there are a two Democrats (one Special Interest and one Grassroots) and two Republicans (one Special Interest and one Grassroots) one can infer that each will have to garner an extremely large share of their respective party's voters to be a lock for the seat. However, a reasonable break down of the available party blocks (all my opinion, of course) shows that Charlotte Harer has the best chance of winning followed by Andy Phillips.

I have given my full and unqualified support to Charlotte. Why? Multiple reasons.

First, she is a strong leader. She built the Republican Women's Club of Tulsa County from approximately 50 members to 250 members in just a couple of years. I don't care what group you're talking about, quintupling the size of any organization is impressive.

Second, she is a strong willed conservative. She will independently arrive at her own decisions based on her conservative values and not adherence to a special interest block, like Christiansen, Sullivan, Baker & Neal have done for the past year (yes...they vote alike far more often than do "The Gang.").

Not to be taken lightly, too, is Harer's impressive list of endorsements which include the likes of Sen. Jim Inhofe, Congressman John Sullivan, state senators like newcomer Brian Crain and the veteran Jim Williamson. Throw in Rep. Sue Tibbs, former mayoral candidate Terry Simonson, former councilor Sam Roop and LaFortune "Kitchen Cabinet" members Ron Howell and Steve Edwards (who is also the former chair of the Oklahoma GOP), and you have a very diverse group of supporters that should allay any fears that Charlotte will favor one group over another.

Although I like Al Nichols a great deal, Al's entire campaign seems to be centered on the fact that he is a neighborhood activist and the only candidate in the race that has appeared before the planning commission and the Board of Adjustment. This is pointed out in nearly every appearance he or one of his supporters make. Tulsa Topics even goes so far as to cite this fact as the principle reason for their support of Nichols.

The problem with this is, that it neglects to note that a councilor is responsible for a lot more than just land use and zoning issues. There's the charter, the budget, constituent services, Tulsa Global Alliance, infrastructure planning, etc.

By centering his entire campaign on experience as a neighborhood activist, Mr. Nichols runs the risk of appearing like a candidate who will act in the interests of a single special-interest; that being the neighborhood activists.

In fact, if all city council candidates should be held to a litmus test involving participation in a neighborhood association, then by Mr. Nichol's supporters standard, I should never have been elected to the council. There are very few pro-neighborhood activists that would deny that I've been one of the most stalwart supporters of Tulsa's neighborhoods.

District 5 needs more than just someone committed to zoning issues. As the State Committee Woman for the Tulsa County Republican Party, Charlotte Harer has been involved with many issues, both municipal and statewide. She has twice been a delegate to the Republican National Convention, a position that is much harder to achieve than anyone not involved as a party activist can imagine. You get there by paying your dues and earning the respect of those who also are active.

Given the fact that the council will be spending much of the next few months working on the budget and voting on proposed Charter changes to put before the voters, it is critical that we elect a conservative reformer like Charlotte Harer.

That's why I hope the voters of District 5 will head for the polls on May 10 and elect Charlotte Harer to the Tulsa City Council.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

The Never Changing World

Those wacky World opinion shapers are at it again. This time, taking the four councilors they love to hate to task for not listening to the inate wisdom of Interim City Attorney Alan "the Jackal" Jackere's advice. In fact, they went so far as to say that Judge Shaffer's decision on Tulsan's for Election Integrity's petitions to toss out the recall petitions, vindicated Jackere.

Oh what short memories these maroons have. Let me take you back to the not so distant past when they were similarly opining on the council, the courts and their own perceptions of what was good jurisprudence.

February 5, 2004
Headline: A City Council incumbent and a challenger are separated by only four votes.

World's news writers talk about how close the District 3 Democrat primary race is between incumbent David Patrick and former D3 councilor Roscoe Turner.

February 6, 2004
Headline: Election Snafu?

"Roscoe Turner, who lost to David Patrick by four votes in the Tuesday Democratic primary election for District 3 City Council, claims the "fix" was in; that he actually won, according to his calculations.
Not likely."

February 21, 2004
Headline: It's Official: Patrick Wins

"Challenge to District 3 council race is dismissed More than two weeks after the votes were cast, a Tulsa County judge finally affirmed Friday that City Councilor David Patrick was re-elected to the District 3 race.

"District Judge Tom Gillert dismissed what he called a "deficient petition" alleging voter irregularities in the Democratic primary that decided the seat.

"Roscoe Turner, who lost the race by three votes after a manual recount Thursday, said he will explore whether to appeal the decision to the Oklahoma Supreme Court."

[Note: the accompanying photo showed a distraught Turner, hand on his forehead in disbelief in the foreground, while media (in the background) swarm a triumphant David Patrick.]

February 27, 2004
Headline: Turner seeks court's aid in disputed race

"The City Council District 3 challenger wants a judge forced to hear evidence of alleged voter irregularities.

"Roscoe Turner has asked the Oklahoma Supreme Court to order a Tulsa County district judge to hear evidence of alleged voter irregularities..."

February 28, 2004
Let's move on, World's Editorial Writers

"A cloud continues to hang over the outcome of the District 3 City Council race. Please, someone make this go away.

"Roscoe Turner, who once held the District 3 seat, was beaten by a mere three votes by incumbent Councilor David Patrick...."

"The odds are that the Supreme Court referee will uphold the district judge's ruling. But, maybe it would be better if the case were sent back to district court where the brouhaha could be put to rest. "

"The likelihood is that there are no irregularities in District 3. And if there are, they likely would be innocent mistakes that would not affect the final voter tally."

March 10, 2004
Headline: Election case is sent back

"A City Council candidate's claims of voting problems should be heard, the high court says.

"OKLAHOMA CITY -- The state Supreme Court has ordered a district judge to consider Roscoe Turner's claims of voter irregularities in Tulsa's District 3 City Council race. "

March 19, 2004
Headline: Judge orders new election in challenged city council race

"TULSA, Okla. (AP) -- Gov. Brad Henry has set a date of April 6 for a new election in a Tulsa City Council race after an earlier election was voided because of allegations of voting irregularities.

"Henry on Thursday ordered the special election between incumbent David Patrick and Roscoe..."

April 7, 2004
Headline: Challenger victorious in new vote

"Roscoe Turner defeats District 3 Council incumbent David Patrick.

"Voters finally put an end to the uncertainty in Tulsa's City Council District 3, choosing challenger Roscoe Turner over incumbent David Patrick in a special election Tuesday."

April 8, 2004
Headline: Allegations of voting irregularities surface

"Newly elected City Councilor Roscoe Turner and his wife are suspected of participating in voting irregularities in Tuesday's District 3 special election, officials said.

"The Turners allegedly gave rides to Republicans so they could cast votes in the closed Democratic election and..."

April 9, 2004
Headline: Big mess World's Editorial Writers,

"Council vote needs sorting out

"The election of a Tulsa city councilor in District 3 is a screwed up mess.

"The original Feb. 3 Democratic primary between incumbent David Patrick and the former councilor, Roscoe Turner, finished in a near draw in Patrick's favor."

"But this issue is broader than just the losing candidate's interest. After all, the election might have been tainted by illegal activity. "

"Election board members ought to search the law books to determine if the board can unilaterally decline to certify the results pending an investigation. A City Council vacancy would keep pressure on District Attorney Tim Harris to conduct a timely investigation."

"If that isn't possible under the law, Harris should move with some dispatch to investigate and, if crimes were committed, to prosecute."

"A finding of guilt would render the council post vacant and require a new election. This is a serious issue. In America's representative democracy the elective process is sacred. It should, to every extent possible, remain inviolate."

April 13, 2004
Headline: No wrongdoing, councilor insists

"Newly elected District 3 Councilor Roscoe Turner said Monday that he and his wife, Nancy, are confident they did nothing wrong in last week's election that resulted in allegations of voter irregularities against them."

"The Tulsa County Sheriff's Department is expected to investigate possible..."

April 14, 2004
Headline: Turner returns to Council amid vote probe

"The City Council is now complete, although claims of voter irregularities are being investigated.
"District 3 City Councilor Roscoe Turner was sworn in to office Tuesday, completing the installation of the nine-member council.

"'It's a pleasure to return home,' Turner said..."

April 18, 2004 [The Next Sunday Issue]
Headline: Step right up! JULIE DelCOUR Editorial Writer

"Will Tulsa's City Hall go back under the Big Top?"

"Shortly before the 2002 city elections, the Tulsa World, sensing the mounting exasperation of the community over the chronic bickering among the city's leadership, considered holding a Tulsa City Council "Survivor" Contest...."

"This past election voters, for their own reasons, turned out two incumbents, Art Justis and David Patrick. Jack Henderson was elected to District 1 when Joe Williams didn't seek re-election."

[Ms. DelCOUR laments how horrible the council was in 2000 and what a breath of fresh air the Class of 2002 was. However, she made no mention of the heavy investment in campaign cash made by officials at F&M Bank to "freshen the air." Then she continues:]

"It is far too early to conclude that City Hall again will become a three-ring circus complete with clowns. Some difference of opinion among councilors on how to handle council and city business is expected and, if done on the level, applauded."

"But what the city does not need is a variation on that old nursery rhyme involving several piggies and how they conducted their everyday affairs."

"Tulsa has too much at stake to have one little piggy going off to market, one little piggy having roast beef (even at Arby's) and another little piggy having none, so to speak."

"Two years from now citizens do not want to end up in a position in which they lost able public servants who, fed up with City Hall shenanigans, went crying "Whee, whee, whee, whee" all the way home."

The pattern of reporting on an issue, followed by acrid tirades of injustice [against those they support] and fear of the return of pandimonium [best described as policies the Lorton's don't support] are standard at our newspaper of record.

Go back and read some of the recent stories detailing the recall election and decide for yourself if you think the World's editorial staff still thinks elections should be "inviolate." Ask yourself if they will ever admit that the Supreme Court exists to appeal a potentially inappropriate ruling by a lower court judge [one that is elected and can't risk making the paper too angry].

The bottom line is, these guys count on reader's having short memories, so that they can tell you what happened in the past, replete with their own revisions to history.

In this never-changing World, the only thing that is different today is their readership.

Small wonder why.