Thursday, September 29, 2005

Same Song, Second Verse

The opinionistas at the Tulsa World took another shot at me in their editorial pages today. In a little ditty they titled, “Confused,” the World tries to make the case that my criticism of the mayor for presenting his State-of-the-City address to a chamber audience, rather than to the City Council, proves yet again that I am “mixed up.”

Ha! Don’t they wish?

First let’s deal with a couple of patent falsehoods in their logic. The anonymous author wrote the following:

“Medlock's comments were perfectly in keeping with his anti-establishment campaign. After all, he dislikes the chamber, which represents most of the city's business community, almost as much as he dislikes the mayor.”
Too bad guys. I don’t dislike the chamber. I think chambers of commerce are wonderful institutions as a whole, and that Tulsa’s chamber is first rate; at least with regard to its membership. What I do have a problem with are some of the professional staff and a handful of honchos who spend way too much time influencing chamber policy for their own benefit.

Additionally, I don’t dislike the mayor. Who could? He’s a really nice guy. He just happens to be a lousy mayor.

Then there is the matter of pointing out that the State-of-the-City is unofficial, unlike the State-of-the-Union. Apparently, they claim, I seem to be confusing the two. Well guess what, oh trustees of the Fourth Estate, so is the State-of-the-Union.

There is nothing in the constitution that calls on the President to make an annual address to the Congress. What our constitution says in Article II, Section 3, is;

“He shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient;”
I know I’m not the wordsmith our anonymous editorialist is, but I read that remark to mean that the President could every couple of years or three, just send over a report about how things are going with the country.

In fact, after George Washington gave the first address in New York City in 1790, “the address was written and then sent to Congress to be read by a clerk until 1913 when Woodrow Wilson re-established the practice despite some initial controversy.”

The important point that the World misses (no…they’re not confused…more like misguided or biased) is that the framers of the Constitution never would’ve thought it better for the President to report on the State of the Union to the US Chamber of Commerce. What the framers understood was the fact that the Congress was that body of our nascent government that represented the people. Thus, by requiring the President to report to the Congress, the framers were requiring that the President not become too “monarchial” or kinglike so as to forget to whom he was responsible.

Given that the city charter (the city’s equivalent document to the Constitution) was framed by some people who were pretty tight with the chamber, it is surprising that they didn’t just go ahead and require the Mayor to report to the chamber (note: I’m being facetious here) and save elected officials like me the shame of being publicly reminded who is in charge of things. But they didn’t.

So my point is this (and I don’t think it shrill in the least, but maybe I’m confused yet again). If you’re going to have an address that you’re going to call the State of the City, and you’re going to charge $30 to get in, and you’re not going to televise it, then you’re going to open yourself up to some reasonable criticism that you’ve forgotten who your boss is. I expected such “confusion” as to who really paid her salary from Mayor Savage. I’m very disappointed that Bill LaFortune is showing his “confusion” over whom he works for.

Then again, maybe he’s not confused at all.

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