Sunday, April 30, 2006

With Friends Like These...

Somebody over at the Tulsa World needs to tell the headline writers to keep up with the current spin for the publisher's friends.

I went to a great deal of trouble last week showing my readers how Kathy Taylor had attended a "Gun Control Summit" in New York City, rather than a "Crime Summit" as had been reported by the Tulsa World. If I'd just waited a few more days, I would've had an easier time making my case.

The Washington Post's E.J. Dionne (a liberal) wrote an opinion piece on the summit, which you can read for free, here. Dionne's column is syndicated and carried by the World, and as such, was printed in full as part of Saturday's Opinion Section.

The column's headline in the post read:

A New Gun Argument: Mayor's Turn the Political Issue to Saving Lives

The Tulsa World's headline for the same piece read:

There you have it folks! Even the Tulsa World has come around to admitting Taylor was in the Big Apple to explore tougher gun control.

You Can't Be the "I Told You So" Crowd, Unless... were right in the first place.

Kookie Ken Neal is at it again, twisting logic with a torque wrench.

Since it was revealed earlier this month that Tulsa's iconic arena is going to cost at least $32 million more than what tax payers were led to believe, Ken Neal has developed a mild case of amnesia (forgetting to mention that the reviled Gang of Four councilors were asking questions about arena overruns for nearly a year) and now seems to be making excuses for the very people he supported throughout the arena's development.

In the first two paragraphs of Neal's Sunday editorial, he writes:

Tulsans should be concerned that the major bids for the arena downtown were $32 million higher than expected.

Cause for concern, yes. Wrongdoing or deliberate misleading by public officials? No.
How do you know Ken? Do Tulsa's public officials fill you in on everything they do behind closed doors? Isn't it logical to assume that if some public officials were seeking to deliberately mislead the public, they wouldn't inform the editor of one of the city's newspapers? Isn't it possible, Ken, that you were duped like tens-of-thousands of your fellow citizens?

I haven't run the math, Ken, but maybe the $32 million in cost overruns isn't due to the escalation of building material costs due the explosive growth of the economies of China and India. Maybe it's because Bob Poe was right, and the "Gang of Five's" holding up of the condemnation of Peggy Jones' Denver Grill reall DID cost the city $10,000 per day?

No wait, that allegation, trumpted by the Tulsa World editorial pages, was proven wrong within days of it being "dropped" by the bombastic Mr. Poe.

It's amazing how smoothly Neal can construct such simple sentences which have such gargantuan implications. Try this one on for size:

Not that $32 million is a minor matter, but there are ways to reduce that amount or find the extra money for the project.
Oklahoma City reduced the cost of its arena by about $10 million when it faced cost overruns. The result was that some of the upper floors are pretty bare bones. Trying to slice out $30 million is likely to leave Tulsa's arena unpainted, without a roof, air conditioning and seats, don't you think?

We all know, economizing isn't really an option. They're just letting you believe that until after the Third Penny Sales Tax vote next month, to lessen the potential for a tax payers revolt, if the truth were known.

What is the truth? That the only two viable choices are, cease and desist building the arena or come back for more tax dollars. That's it. There are no other possible options.

Oh no...don't go there! Don't try to say that using the overage dollars from the current Vision 2025 thirteen year tax wouldn't be a tax increase, because it would. As justification for approving the arena, the voters were given a dollar figure of $122 million. Somehow, that got moved to $141. But using the overage for cost overruns would prevent the tax from being ended early, which is the preferred position taken by the Tulsa County Republican Party's platform.

If the tax could be ended in twelve years, rather than requiring thirteen years, then any action that caused the tax to be collected for thirteen years has effectively raised taxes.

Neal also reasons:

Yes, it will cost more than public officials hoped. There are reasons for that. Let's not point fingers of blame.
Why not, Ken? You're fond of pointing fingers of blame when the news doesn't break your way!

First of all, the "professional engineers and professionals in the construction business" you cite as being hired to design and build the arena have known about the likelihood of such overruns since November. My source? Mayor Taylor as reported by Omadelle Nelson and KJRH (or is TV News the "fringe" media?).

Secondly, we have been chasing down tips from "insiders" who are telling us that back in early January of this year, both Matrix and Tulsa Vision Builders had worked up budgets that showed the arena project was already over budget, but that they were being "instructed not to release this information until at a minimum after the mayoral primaries." They were also directed to perform cost studies "to try to pin all of this on the "Katrina factor." We have been told that Matrix was reporting the project as still being on budget, but the Tulsa Vision Builders was developing grave concerns.

Let's be perfectly frank here, Ken. The politics around this project have stunk for years. This project has NOT been handled in the full light of day. Dollar figures have changed, advisory panel ballots have disappeared and concerned elected officials have been stonewalled and villified.

Politics, by its nature is often about pointing fingers and assigning blame. If the people guiding the arena project were as competent as you say, then we'd have been getting answers to our questions about potential overruns long before the elections, and Neal's paper wouldn't have been trashing the questioners.

Finally, I am tickled by Mr. Neal's slip as noted in the title of this posting. In trying to trash County Commissioner Randi Miller, who has been critical of the arena project of late, Neal writes:

Tulsa County Commissioners Bob Dick and Wilbert Collins who were the driving force behind Vision 2025 have been rational and responsible in their comments about the arena bids.

But not District 2 Commissioner Randi Miller, who has been bleating and blaming and making empty promises about the situation. She is smarting from a lopsided defeat in her primary run for mayor and still is pandering to the "I-told-you-so" crowd. She managed to be for and against the original 2025 plan.
No one says "I told you so, unless they're pretty danged sure they've been right all along.

"I told you so, Ken!"

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Taylor Made Gun Control?

Sure it was unlikely to have been literally true, but if there were some of you in this town that thought Kathy Taylor’s tough-on-crime rhetoric during the mayoral campaign made her the likely nominee as Tulsa’s most recent version of a “Pistol Packin’ Mama,” it looks like you’re going to have to rethink that image of our new mayor.

Mayor KT spent the early part of this week in the Big Apple hobnobbing with other big city mayors at New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s “Gun Summit.”

Even though Bloomberg is officially listed as a Republican, readers should not assume that his kind of gun summit would consist of avid gun owners and hobbyists wearing fashionable “camo while standing around a table littered with ammo, clips and self-loader kits, talking about the most effective way to bring down a six-point buck with a 9mm semi-automatic handgun. Remember that Bloomberg is the Republican mayor of a city that is obscenely liberal and democrat.

New Yorkers like Republican mayors because they seem to be tough enough on crime in the big city to keep Gotham’s creative-classes safe while hailing a hack or purchasing a pierogi from a street vendor. To the average New Yorker, buying a hot glue gun one might use to attach fabric remnants to a Moroccan dining room canopy, as seen on Christopher Lowell’s show, is dangerously close to an activity requiring a permit and a three day waiting period to take possession. In New York City, talking about serious gun control is considered talking tough on crime.

So who attended the Bloomberg Gun Summit? According to the Associated Press, “Bloomberg said organizers cast a wide net to a number of cities and the mayors set to attend are those who were able to work it into their schedules.

Flashback to Tulsa’s reality. Chief Been hasn’t been re-instated, the arena is massively over budget (and no, it should have surprised on one), the FY07 city budget is due on Monday, we have two massive legal judgments that are waiting to be paid, her staff hasn’t been selected, we’ve got two open seats on the TMAPC that are going to draw fire no matter who is named to them and the FAA is now less than a month away from releasing its report on Tulsa, and Mayor Taylor had time to fit a gun control summit into her schedule?

Just the sheer learning curve of the job should keep junkets out of the picture for six months at least. This is especially for junkets, the purpose of which, are wildly out of touch with your community's values.

For those of you who are reading this and thinking that our mayor went to an Illegal Gun Summit, instead of a Gun Control Summit, read on.

The AP’s Desmond Butler writes, “Bloomberg has focused on gun control as a priority for his second term.”

In calling this summit, Bloomberg has teamed up with Boston mayor, Thomas Menino, who has recently begun studying the idea of limiting the sale of ammunition in his city, possibly limiting the amount of ammo one could by at a time. Menino’s team is also looking into micro-stamping, a new technology that could trace bullets to their owners.

All of this sounds wonderfully logical and pro-active, but ignores the simple fact that most liberal policy ignores; criminals, by definition, do not obey the law.

Bullets can be bought over the Internet. Bullets can be bought out of state. Bullets can be stolen, so that when a local Crip or Blood decides to participate in a drive-by shooting, it is likely that the cops will be standing at my doorstep at 3AM, holding a micro-stamped shell casing I got for Christmas last year, while asking me if they can search my garage for a blue, 1968 Chevy Impala.

It will be interesting to see how the Erling/Turnbo spin machine sells this trip to the public. I’m sure they will center in on the “brainstorming” that took place among the bi-partisan assemblage of big city mayors. Can’t you just hear billionaire Bloomberg brainstorming with millionaire Taylor?

Bloomberg: “Okay…but we tried to limit gun ownership by making everyone take a class on gun safety in order to get a carry permit, but record numbers of citizens went out and too the classes and now they’re packing heat on the street!”

Taylor: “Ooh-ooh! I’ve got an idea. Let’s change the law so that you have to take the course in gun safety, but afterwards YOU don’t get to carry a gun. Only your chauffer can carry the gun and only when they’re driving YOU!”

Bloomberg: “Gosh Mayor Taylor…I sure do love that down home, Oklahoma savvy. It’s almost “street smart.”

Aside from fitting this gun control junket into her schedule, I’ve spoken with two city councilors, neither of whom remembers the mayor getting her travel authorized, which is required of all city employees. Not that it will break the Lobeck/Taylor bank account, but failure to get authorization from the Council means that Mayor Taylor will be footing the bill for her travel out of her household soap account. It will be interesting to see if such self-financed trips become a common occurance.

It will be even more interesting to see if she submits a bill to the Council upon her return, as if she had a corporate expense account. I could see the Council forgiving her one such trip, but travel such as this, with the budget so tight, is not something the public should allow our new mayor, if she plans to bill the tax payer.

Wisdom of Gingrich

One of the perks of not being a city councilor anymore, is that I'm reading nothing on sewer easements and community development block grant applications, which leaves me a lot more time to read...yes it's true...books.

I am currently reading my autographed copy of Newt Gingrich's latest book, Winning the Future: A 21st Century Contract with America. It's a bit strange to be wading into national and international issues again, after three years of being mired in local issues. In fact, as someone who used to think of himself as a pretty knowledgeable guy on national and international events, I'm realizing I'm going to have at least a two year hole in my knowledge.

Anyway...I read one passage in Newt's book that I thought summed up very well a lot of why Americans don't understand the current war we find ourselves in. The fact is, words matter and the words we choose to describe things effect the way we perceive things. As we all know, perception to often is reality. Here's what Gingrich writes:

"Because post-modern analysts refuse to take religion seriously, we describe "suicide bombers" while our opponents describe martyrs. We see them as psychologically deranged, where they see themselves as dedicated to God."
The long and short of it is, as long as our media continues to filter our current military involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan through a secular sieve, the public is going to be at a loss to understand the vehement hatred that is being leveled at our troops and our nation.

In other words, you can't take God out of a holy war.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Public Benjamin

In light of the recent BOK Center bids turning out to be nearly 50% higher than anticipated by the project engineers, I thought I'd check some of my notes to see what others had said publicly about the issue. My first entry on this subject comes from a letter to the editor printed in the Tulsa World on February 1 of this year.

The letter is entitled, "Quit bickering!" and is from none other than John (I'm the brains behind recall) Benjamin, of Bixby. You know John...the guy who recruited Bill Christiansen, Randy Sullivan and Bill Martinson? The John Benjamin who is promoting the Bixby Bridge that his buddy Christiansen say's he's against. The John Benjamin who served as the Republican point man for the "It's Tulsa's Time" downtown revitalization question back in 1999. The John Benjamin who worked with Jim Burdge to try to recall Jim Mautino and I.

Here's a little of what Mr. Benjamin wrote:

"Now we need to get the political pundits running for Tulsa mayor to back off
the continual negative images for the arena project. The arena is the anchor and major stimulus for the new downtown investment and reinvestment. Its design is already bringing international recognition for Tulsa."
I wonder who he meant by, "political pundits running for Tulsa Mayor?" He goes on to say,
"This facility, which is greatly needed and long overdue, would be worth the investment even if it overran its budget. So far this is not an issue and the arena is being built within budget projections. The taxpayers of Tulsa County wand and are getting cost accountability for the arena construction."
Sounds a little like Mr. Benjamin knew what was coming and was putting in to be the chief spokesperson for the new tax that might very well be necessary to pay for the overrun that DID materialize.

"Mayoral candidates need to pick a new whipping-boy issue for their campaigns. Political positioning is creating more negative images for Tulsa..."
Well, I'm not sure Johnnie B. was speaking of me when he spoke of "mayoral candidates," but when I was warning of the eventual cost overruns we've known have been coming for almost a year and a half, I wasn't "positioning." I was warning the voters about what was coming down the pike. Time has a way of revealing who was speaking responsibly and who was "positioning."

"The arena project is in the hands of capable professional managers/contractors and construction costs are being monitored by the mayor, the city's arena committee, county commissioners and the Vision 2025 overview committee."
This past Saturday, the Tulsa World wrote, "Rumors have been swirling about possible increased expenses over the past several months because of escalating material costs due to last year's Gulf Coast hurricanes and the subsequent construction boom."

Rumors? Just rumors? Who was spreading such rumors? Most likely people trying to throw cold water on the positive momentum created by the passage of Vision 2025.

People weren't told by the Tulsa World that rumors were circulating. They were told that unfounded allegations were being made. They were told of "shenanigans" and "dysfunctional councilors" berating who were asking "politically motivated questions" designed to "berate" competent "officials" who were on top of things.

My favorite quote from the Tulsa World comes from November 13, 2005 story by PJ Lassek entitled "Officials dispute Medlock claims." The final paragraph of the story reads as follows:

Councilor Bill Martinson said some councilors were getting "dangerously close to micromanaging" the work on the arena and convention center. "Repeatedly we're told we're within budget. At some point in time, we have to trust these people to do their jobs," he said.
I remember this moment quite clearly, as Mr. Martinsen was chastising the Gang of Four councilors for continuing to ask about the arena's costs. He apparently thought this going beyond our realm of responsibility, even though the council is responsible within the city charter for the budget. Something for the voters in District 5 to consider next time they go to the polls to vote on Martinsen.

I know far fewer people will read this blog post than read John Benjamin's letter to the editor. Benjamin ended his letter by saying, "The Tulsa mayoral race will be over soon and we can get on with building a positive future for Tulsa County."

Yes...John Benjamin...the mayoral race is over. We do have an opportunity to build a positive future for Tulsa County. It just looks like the price of positive futures just got a little higher.

There's one bright spot for our future though. Fewer people are going to put much stock in what John Benjamin has to say about things, that's for sure.

Friday, April 21, 2006

BOK Center Overdrawn

I've just returned from City Hall, where I watched the unsealing of the construction bids for Tulsa's BOK Center/Arena.

The mood was more than somber, as each of the bids came in. It's going to take some time to fully crunch the numbers, and some of the bids are a bit complex, but it is safe to say this:

This phase of the arena's bids came in roughly 50% over what was anticipated.

My first pass on running the numbers reveals that the combined engineering estimates for the arena were $67,652,380. These numbers include such items as structural steel, cast-in-place concrete, exterior composite metal wall, electrical and wiring, the Icon Wall glass, and drywall. Each of these individual bids came in at $101,033,466.

Once again, I need to review my audio recordings to confirm the dollar amounts, but the actuals will vary little. If these numbers hold, the actual bids came in 49.3% above the engineers' estimates.

If memory serves me right, Tulsa Vision Builders has publicly stated that they have spent approximately $40 million on the project during the first two phases of construction. Adding today's numbers means that the first three phases of the $140 million arena project will cost $141 million. The final phases were assumed to have cost something in the range of $30 million when the arena was first conceived. No wait, the original estimate for the arena was $121 million. At least, that's what the voters were told in September, 2003.

Anyway, if we estimate that the final phases will run a mere 33% over budget, rather than today's 49%, the minimum assumed cost of the BOK Center should be somewhere in the vicinity of $181 million. That leaves little or nothing left to renovate the Convention Center to create the new ballroom space. If the current 6,000 seat arena in the Convention Center isn't converted, then won't it compete with the BOK Center in attracting the Talons and Oilers games?

If they can't build it, they can't come.

More details after I've had a chance to review my notes.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Don't Touch That Dial

Last week, our neighbors who populate the political forum over at were speculating on the demise of local conservative talk radio. The quantitative basis for their arguments was an online report generated by the web site

The posting entitled “KFAQ Ratings Keep Dropping,” was first put up by the frequent forum poster Ron Warnick (aka “rwarn17588”) who as fate would have it, is in real life an employee of the Tulsa World. Mr. Warnick writes:

The latest ratings report is out. KFAQ remained in 14th place in the Tulsa market, but its ratings dropped again, from 3.6 to 3.4.

KRMG saw a drop, too, from 7.5 to 6.4. It makes me wonder whether listeners nationwide are getting tired of right-wing radio, and the dropping ratings to Tulsa's two talk stations are reflecting that.
Thoughtful analysis and some facts beyond a single web site’s extremely general assessment of Tulsa’s radio scene belie Mr. Warnick’s hopeful analysis.

While it is true that the report shows that KRMG dropped from a 7.7 in the Winter of 2005 to a 6.4 in the Winter of 2006, and KFAQ dropped from a 4.3 in Wi05 to a 3.4 in Wi06, it is a giant leap to declare this a clear sign of the repudiation of "right-wing radio" in Tulsa.

If we were to analyze the entire market based on this single report, maintaining Mr. Warnick’s logic would lead us to the conclusion that Tulsans are also growing tired of Country Music and Classic Rock and Roll.

After all, KWEN dropped from a 6.8 to 6.7, KVOO from a 7.1 to a 6.3, and KXBL from a 5.6 to a 4.8. That’s a cumulative drop in listenership for the three top country stations of 1.7 per cent of the total market. Perhaps Tulsans are growing weary of the degeneration of country music from its historical roots grounded in slide guitar and twanging voices, to its current trend toward artists with crossover appeal, such as Shania Twain and Gary Allan.

Rock and Roll fairs no better. KMOD dropped from 5.9 to 5.6. Are Tulsan’s finally growing tired of “Free Bird” and “Stairway to Heaven?” Is the Breakfast Club Zoo seeing backlash for their refusal to erect a statue to a Hindu god in their studio?

Classic rock station KJSR saw a decline from 5.0 to 4.2, oldies station KQLL dropped from 4.0 to 3.6, and urban station KJMM fell from 3.5 to 2.8.

So who went up?

Pop station KHTT jumped .6 percent, going from 4.6 to 5.2. Alternative rock station KMYZ leaped from 2.6 to 5.0, nearly doubling its listenership. Spanish Oldies station KIZS moved up from 2.3 to 3.8 and regional Mexican station KXTD went from 0.0 to 0.8 in the ratings.

What can we glean from all of this?

A logical assessment would look at what is happening nationally as well as locally, with regard to technology and the shift in local demographics.

Satellite radio services such as Sirius and XM had extremely good sales during the last Christmas shopping season. Obviously, many of the local stations are going to feel the impact of such services, including talk radio. Given that many of the more popular national shows are “time shifted” to fit local schedules, the satellite services offer true fans the opportunity to hear their favorite shows live.

When one looks at who is buying such satellite systems, obviously the preponderance of the purchases will be made by early adopters with more disposable income; in other words, older listeners who trend to classic rock, country and talk. The numbers seem to bear this out, more than an overall growing dislike of conservative talk.

If you’re pulling out some of the older demographic, then you’re also going to make the younger demographic’s members count more. Perhaps this is why alternative jumped so high?

But the most interesting assumption one could come to analyzing these numbers comes from the demographic trend that occupies much of the talk on talk radio. That is, the influx of Spanish speaking residents, (both legal and illegal) into the Tulsa market. The numbers seem to show the shift just as much as the signage above businesses at 21st and Garnett.

The most disappointing facts that burst Mr. Warnick’s assumptive balloon, though, have to do with the virtual worthlessness of the report he cites. Radio stations pay a small fortune for ratings information that breaks the market down into time segments and demographic/psychographic groups. Let’s face it folks, if the information contained on had any real value, you wouldn’t be able to access it for free.

The truth is, recent ratings reports show that KFAQ’s Michael Delgiorno show is more popular than ever. I’ll post on this later.

In the mean time, perhaps Mr. Warnick can explain why his employer, the Tulsa World, no longer participates in the readership survey conducted by the Audit Bureau of Ciculation, the newspaper industry’s equivalent to radio’s Arbitron ratings? Could it be that they don't let the Lortons count free and almost-free newspapers as paid subscriptions?

It's not talk radio that's dying, it's newspapers. Even the venerable Washington Post has a story on the declining readership for the nation’s newspapers.

Or this one from CNNMoney.

Or this one from Reuters.

Or this one from Associated Press.

No…Mr. Warnick. What people are growing tired of is local “Hate Newspaper.” The continued liberal bias of the nation’s newspapers are pushing readers to alternative news sources, such as talk radio, blogs and even forums like

The times, they are a changin', but one thing stays constant...our nation is slowing moving to the right politically.

"We're the Right...we have might...get used to it."

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Hold the Door Please!

Last Monday, April 10th, was my last day as a city councilor. As a departing city employee, I was required to turn in the keys to my office, my city hall name badge, my fax machine and my underground parking tag.

I decided to make the trip to turn everything in before my Downtown Kiwanis meeting at 11:30. After making one last check around the office to make sure I hadn’t left anything in a drawer or under the desk, I dropped off all of my smaller items on the desk of Council Administrator Don Cannon, as he wasn’t in to take them personally. I then headed for the kitchen to get a diet cola before leaving the building to run another errand at the County Courthouse.

Upon leaving the kitchen, I headed for the elevator landing, as I had done hundreds of times before. I heard familiar voices as I approached the landing, but when I rounded the corner, I was a bit taken aback by whom I found waiting on the elevators.

There before me stood outgoing (in more ways than one) mayor, Bill LaFortune, and Mayor-Elect Kathy Taylor (just a few hours before she was to be sworn in).

I announced my presence by saying something like, “Now there’s a dangerous duo.”

Both seemed surprised to see me, even though they were hobnobbing in my “stomping grounds.” We exchanged very brief pleasantries and it was all I could do to keep from pointing first at Taylor, then at LaFortune and then at myself and counting one…two…three.

Instead, I just quipped, “So…when in Randi Miller arriving?”

At that time, the chimes of two elevators, arriving at the same time alerted us that the conversation was coming to an end. One elevator’s light indicated that it was heading up…the other indicating it was heading down to street level and ultimately the basement.

We parted, Kathy Taylor taking the elevator that was going up…Bill LaFortune and I sharing the elevator heading down.

Sometimes, in the simplest of moments, three years of one’s life can be summed up in an instance.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Tip Toe Through the Mine Field

By winning the election on April 4th and being sworn in as Tulsa’s 38th mayor on Monday, Kathy Taylor has won the right to wander into a political minefield, not as of yet, of her making.

Some of the mines are clearly marked and should be easy to negotiate around, even for a City Hall neophyte; these include the Third Penny vote and the FY 2007 budget. However, there are some smaller, not so clearly marked mines, lying just inside the perimeter that, if she does not tread carefully, might blast off a large part of the goodwill she is going to need during the early months of her administration.

One such landmine, deals with the Tulsa Airport Improvements Trust (TAIT) board, and what to do with current board member Ron Turner. Gen. Turner’s term of office is up at the end of April, and he desperately wants to be reappointed. Among his biggest supporters for reappointment are current TAIT board member Meredith Siegfried (Turner is a family friend and a former NORDAM board member), current city councilor Bill Christiansen (who recommended Turner to Bill LaFortune) and much of the professional staff at the airport.

However, Turner is very unpopular in many circles. The residents of the neighborhoods near the airport see Turner as dismissive of their concerns regarding the federal noise abatement program that is overseen by TAIT. The South Tulsa Citizens Coalition (a.k.a. “the Bridge People”) are wary of Turner, given his unabashed support Cinnabar, who was the chief contractor for the noise abatement program until they were run off by the two reform minded board members (Carl Clay and Charles Sublett) that Mayor LaFortune appointed. Why would Cinnabar concern the STCC? Because the ownership of Cinnabar and Infrastructure Ventures Inc, which is trying to build the Bixby toll bridge, are virtually identical.

Turner is also unpopular with most of the non-commercial tenants on the east-side of Jones Riverside Airport. This rather influential group, which by definition consists mainly of private individuals who can afford to own and hanger a private aircraft, were the chief force behind Cliff Magee’s closer than expected challenge to Bill Christiansen.

Mayor Taylor is likely to be heavily lobbied to return Gen. Turner to the TAIT board. If she wants to prolong her “honeymoon,” she’ll ignore the lamentations of Turner’s fans, and announce a new member.

Turner’s reappointment is guaranteed to receive Council opposition. It is a guarantee that Jack Henderson and Roscoe Turner (no relation) will vote against a renomination of Gen.. Turner, should Taylor reappoint him. It is likely, but not a guarantee, that Bill Christiansen would recuse himself on such a vote, leaving only eight councilors to decide. A six-to-two renomination wouldn’t be too embarrassing for the new mayor.

However, what if two of the new breed of reformist councilors also sign on? It is quite likely that Maria Barnes, Rick Westcott and John Eagleton could vote “no.” That would be a disaster for Taylor, who ran on a pledge to unite the Council.

Taylor’s alternative would be to lobby the swing councilors to support a reappointment of Gen. Turner. It is widely expected that Taylor will be more like fellow Democrat and Henry cabinet member, Susan Savage, when it comes to cracking the whip with rogue councilors. But the question she and her new staff is going to have to address is a simple one. Is a renomination of a very controversial and arguably ineffective Airport Board member worth the loss of political capital, this early in the game?

This one should be an interesting appointment to watch. Or rather listen to…for the sound of that first political landmine exploding.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Out of Cite

They just couldn't help themselves. Those crusty, dusty, musty minds on the Tulsa World opinion pages had to take a parting shot.

This time, the invective comes from David Averill, the vice-chief of the "Five Uncivilized Diatribes," which is my pet-name the Lorton blather squad of Neal, Averill, Adwan, Pearson and Delcour. In Sunday's paper, Averill added an exclamation point to the World's revisionist take on the reality of City Hall over the past two years. Averill writes of his great hope that the new administration and council will show civility to one another.

Averll writes:

It seems pretty clear that voters are tired of -- even embarrassed by -- the discord and dysfunction at City Hall. Hopefully all of the winners in Tuesday's election got that message.
How can I say this without sounding...well...uncivil? Oh well. If you're going to get blasted for it, you might as well embrace it.

Having actually lived through the last two years at City Hall, I can only say, "David Averill is either ignorant, or a liar."

Sorry, there are no other explanations. To support his contention that the likes of Jim Mautino and I were run off by the voters who thought us terribly uncivil, he postulates a series of offenses, intimating that we were guilty of all of them. Let's examine some.

"...civility is not trashing the reputations of honorable residents who serve without pay on city boards and authorities, especially when there is no basis in fact to do so."
I couldn't agree more, Mr. Averill. One problem. I never did this.

First let me say, I've never seen David Averill at a single meeting of the Council. If one assumes that he is speaking from first hand experience, he must have seen it on TGOV. This is a fair assumption, because almost everything a councilor does officially, they do on TGOV. As such, show me the tape of my doing this dispicable deed.

If you're referencing the Cameron and Reynolds affair, is quietly voting "no" on a mayoral appointment "trashing" their reputations? As for a basis for my vote, I thought...and still think...their philosophy regarding Tulsa's water policy is disastrous.

"It is not trying to renege on a long-standing promise to extend a water line to a neighboring community."
One, who made the "promise?" The mayor denied that he did. Charles Hardt didn't have the authority to promise. If he, or any civil service employee made a promise to Owasso, then they should be fired for doing so.

Two, how was it "long standing?" The money for the waterline was passed by the voters as part of the Vision 2025 initiatives. Tulsa offered to build the line using TMUA funds a few months after the Vision vote. The first it appeared on the Council's agenda was the very first committee meeting the day after the new council was sworn in. Imagine the brand new council showing up tomorrow morning, and having this snuck in as the third agenda item.

A few months does not "long standing' make.

It's not trying to boost Tulsa by blocking progress in the suburbs.
For the umpteenth time, regionalism is a two-way bargain. If a project requires Tulsa's resources to be used to the benefit of any suburb, and to the detriment of Tulsa, then it is foolish for any elected official of Tulsa to pursue that project.

That isn't trying to "boost Tulsa by blocking," David. It's called being a responsible steward of the citizen's interests.

Civility is not mistreating guests at council meetings.
If you're going to accuse, at least have the decency to cite the instance in which this occurred. I remember Councilor Baker chastising Deanna Oakley. I remember Councilor Martinson referring to North Tulsa citizens who were critical of his posisions as "the Peanut Gallery." I'm not sure when we were supposed to have mistreated guests.

If you're still talking about the waterline issue, I will say that I was pretty reserved with Rodney Ray, the City Manager of Owasso, who basically came to the Tulsa City Council to threaten us. I also remember saying that if a non-elected official of Tulsa went to Owasso's council to make threats, I would have screamed for their dismissal.

It is not trying to shout down fellow councilors who hold differing opinions.
Never did it. Henderson maybe?

It's not dressing down city employees, who aren't in much of a position to respond, just because you don't like the message they bring.
Never did it. Show me the tape. Cite an instance. You can't, David, because if you did, we could make the tape available and the truth wouldn't match your paper's spin.

It's not five members meeting exclusive of the other four to pre-arrange strategy for the official council meeting.

I'll will swear on a mother's grave (although she's still alive)...or take a polygraph on this one. Five of us NEVER met to do what David Averill suggests. In fact, on this one he moves very close to the edge of slander, given he is accusing us of a crime. uncivil of you David.

Then there is the matter of Jim Mautino and I being reputdiated by the voters.

It is interesting to note that two of the councilors most often at the center of incidents of discord, Chris Medlock and Jim Mautino, will no longer be on the council. Recall votes in their respective districts last year, called after a citizen group circulated recall petitions, were overwhelmingly defeated. It appears that those votes were more against the recall effort than they were endorsements of Medlock and Mautino; the next time they faced voters they lost, Medlock in the Republican mayoral primary and Mautino to challenger Dennis K. Troyer in the District 6 election Tuesday.
As for me, I ran against an incumbent from my own party, who came from on of Tulsa's "brand name" families and outspent me 10 to 1. I had no run-off election to fend off the effect of a third candidate entering the race to split the "anyone but LaFortune" vote. Even so, I got nearly 12,000 votes which is basically 12,000 more votes than any of the Tulsa World's opinionistas have ever gotten.

Also, let's not forget that the Tulsa World's "scientific" poll said that I was going to get half the votes I did get. Could this mean that there is a growing number of people that would like to see a little more disruption at City Hall if it sheds light on what's really been going on down there?

As for Jim Mautino, let's say this. Jim ran three campaigns in two years for the same seat, because of the likes of David Averill and Bob Lorton (who gave $2500 to the Recall effort). He is a 73 year old retiree with a passion for his city and his neighborhood. He was outspent in the primary and won. When they didn't get him in the primary, many of the same financial interests ponied up to the Troyer campaign to get him in the general. It is amazing he came so close.

Jim Mautino had his reputation smeared almost daily in the pages of the rag Mr. Averill works for, much of it at the hands of Mr. Averill himself. Much of this "trashing" was done with "no basis in fact to do so."

Come to think of it, who has been the most uncivil? The members of the 2004 Tulsa City Council, or the members of the antiquated Tulsa World editorial board?

At least we councilors have the facts on our side.