Thursday, August 21, 2008

PJ's Propaganda?

There is a story in today's Tulsa World dealing with Will Wilkins' claim of ethical violations by two members of the Tulsa Development Authority. Wilkins, of Novus Properties had his exclusive negotiating agreement prematurely ended by the TDA on August 8th, when the five member authority voted such, stating it was in the best interests of the City of Tulsa to do so.

The action has been polarizing and has contributed to damage the public's faith in city government at a time when the council is looking at putting a very large tax question before the voters.

What is interesting about Lassek's story, which is often the case with our daily paper's coverage of government in general and city government in particular, is the story's slant. It is decidedly pro TDA and anti-Wilkins.

So why would the news arm of the Tulsa World engage in what amounts to a PR exercise? Simple, if the three TDA board members [Shahadi, Bryant-Ellis and Clayman] that appear to have conflicts because of where they work had to recuse themselves from the August 8th vote, then they will have to recuse themselves on any subsequent votes regarding TDA controlled land that is in the cross hairs of the soon to be established public trust.

In other words, it will be harder to ensure the powers-that-be's desired result. In fact, there will be absolutely no way for the TDA to transfer those properties to the trust, without changing the composition of the TDA itself.

The first thing to note, if one wants to postulate that said slant is purposeful and is not the fruit of ignorance is the fact that Lassek wasn't the journalist that covered the meeting where the votes took place. The World's other city beat writer, Brian Barber was the personal observer of the story. How do I know? Well aside from his byline appearing on the story the following day, he sat two seats over from me the entire meeting. Lassek was nowhere near the place.

This allows Lassek to fudge some of the truth and then claim ignorance as to some of the facts that she misstates.

For instance, she writes:
Another authority member — Paula Bryant-Ellis, a Bank of Oklahoma employee — recused herself from the discussion and vote, also at Wilkins' request. He did not file a complaint against her.
Bryant-Ellis didn't recuse herself in any manner or fashion that I would recognize as recusal. In fact, Lassek and Barber have been to dozens of City Council meetings where councilors recused themselves, so both writers recognize that Bryant-Ellis didn't in fact recuse herself. What she did was say, when a vote was called for, that "I believe I need to recuse myself...," but stating such doesn't make it so.

In order to properly recuse herself, as is the consistent practice of the Council and other authorities, Bryant-Ellis should have made that statement when the agenda item first came up for discussion. Instead, she participated in portions of the discussion. What Bryant-Ellis really did was to "abstain," which in fact is the reason, coupled with the fact that this was her first meeting and she didn't know any better, that no one can really fault her for her actions.

For another example of Lassek's bias in this story, compare the following two paragraphs from her story:
Wilkins also charged that Clayman participated in discussions regarding Novus' negotiations at a July 8 meeting, but Clayman did not attend that meeting.
Clayman said that, at Wilkins' request, he recused himself from an Aug. 7 meeting until he seconded a motion for a vote. He did not participate in that vote, however.
In the first citation, Lassek goes out of her way to identify a statement from Wilkins' allegations that isn't factually correct. However, she fails to do the same in the second citation. How does she do this? Well rather than citing what she easily could have learned by leaning over to Brian Barber at the desk next to her, she uses Clayman's statement as to what he allegedly did, which was to recuse up to the point of seconding the vote. First of all, seconding the vote means you didn't recuse at all. Recusal, as we've stated, requires that you leave the room entirely. He couldn't have even heard the motion that was made, so how could he have seconded it.

It must be reiterated. Lassek has been covering the city for years. She knows the difference between recusing and not recusing. And yet she chose to use a journalistic device to achieve her goal and not appear to be acting unethically herself. What she should have done is to remain consistent and to state for the reader the facts showing Clayman had not recused.

The World wants this ballpark built and it wants it done with a powerful trust in place to do the job without public interference. Further, the World doesn't want to see proper enforcement of the Ethics Ordinance that the city passed back in 2005. They like the practice of sending middle managers from the city's more powerful companies and law firms onto these boards, so that their bosses have de facto control of said boards.

The other glaring example of Lassek's propagandistic artistry isn't in what she tells the reader, but in what she neglects to tell the reader. She writes:
Clayman works for Fredrick Dorwart, a lawyer who is donating his services to the ballpark project. Dorwart drafted a public trust document for the creation of the Tulsa Stadium Trust to oversee the baseball stadium and redevelopment of surrounding land.

In a five-page letter to Mayor Kathy Taylor defending Clayman, Dorwart said, "Mr. Wilkins' insinuation that someone is profiting from this effort is insidious and you (Taylor) should immediately and unequivocally reject it."
What Lassek doesn't share with you is the more compelling fact that invalidated Clayman's ethical participation in the vote, which is the fact that Dorwart does a great deal of work for both George Kaiser and BOK, both of whom are major players in this venture. Kaiser's and BOk's involvement would be viewed in a much different light by the average citizen than the mere fact that Dorwart was doing some pro bono legal work on the deal.

The decision as to whether or not Clayman and Shahadi acted ethically should be decided by the Tulsa Ethics Commission, not the mayor's handpicked City Attorney, who serves at her will. If the Ethics Commission does it's job and ignores the inevitable mountain of political and social pressure that will be brought upon it, Tulsa will be a much better place to conduct business and live. If they do not do their job and cave to the pressure, then the Tulsa City Council should act to toughen and clarify the Ethics Ordinance to prevent such conflicts in the future.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Novus Homes Files Suit Against TDA

Will Wilkins of Novus Homes texted me after my show today to tell me that he has filed suit against the Tulsa Development Authority for "Breach of Agreement - Contract"

You can view the particulars of the suit by clicking here.

Wilkins is alleging that the TDA tereminated the deal after the city moved the proposed downtown ballpark to a property across the street from the property he was negotiating to obtain.

More on this as it breaks.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Lesa Smaligo: Bank of Oklahoma Lobbyist

Here's an interesting note to ponder. One of the registered lobbyists for Bank of Oklahoma is none other than Lesa Smaligo, the wife of County Commissioner John Smaligo. Could this connection explain some of Commissioner Smaligo's reluctance to not tow the Republican Party's platform and come out against last year's River Tax?

After all, George Kaiser was offering millions to the County for river development if the tax had passed.

Kaiser and Margaret Erling-Frette

Was poking around in the Oklahoma Ethics Commission's website and found an interesting factoid in the section on lobbyists. Seems that the current principal lobbyist for the Kaiser Family Foundation is Margarette Erling-Frette. You remember her, the principal lobbyist for Great Plains Airlines? You remember George Kaiser, the guy that owns the bank that just got a $7.1 million settlement, thanks to our Mayor, for a bad loan centered on Great Plains Airlines?

Here is the text of the Ethics Commission entry:
The George Kaiser Family Foundation L080067 - Erling-Frette, Margaret
7020 S Yale #220
Tulsa, OK 74135
Apparently Kaiser isn't holding Erling-Frette responsible for the troubled loan.

[More] Appears she's also one of five lobbyists for the Tulsa Metro Chamber of Commerce. You remember them? The group that first dreamed up Great Plains Airlines.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Tom Kivisto Resigns From BOk Board

Until last Friday, Tom Kivisto was the CEO of Semgroup Energy Partners, LP. Apparently, until last Wednesday, Kivisto was on the Board of Directors of Bank of Oklahoma. He now is out at both entities.

It was July 10th that Mayor Kathy Taylor sent her company's Learjet 31a [Mayor Force One] to pick up Tulsa City Councilor David Patrick in Colorado. Patrick was fetched because Taylor needed insurance votes to get the Business Improvement District past the City Council that would supply the public financing component of the new downtown ballpark for the Tulsa Drillers. Taylor was in one heck of a hurry, if she was willing to pop for $4,500 in jet fuel to get Patrick Back. BOk must've shared that imperative, if they were willing to send a very senior manager on the flight to bring Patrick back to the council and ready to vote "the right way."

It was Tom Kivisto that took Kathy Taylor's spot on the BOk Board when she resigned to run for Mayor of Tulsa. It was Pete Boylan, another BOk board member and Stan Lybarger, the BOk President that served as Taylor's chief salespeople on the new ballpark for the Tulsa Drillers.

In fact, 8 out of the 11 "Ballpark Players" as cited in a July 13th Tulsa World story by PJ Lassek had or have direct ties to BOk. They are Taylor, Lybarger, Boylan, attorney Fred Dorwart, attorney Margaret Kobos, Stacy Kymes [who fetched Patrick with Taylor's jet], Eric Kessler and Kivisto. Only City Councilor Eric Gomez, John-Kelly Warren of "The Channels" fame and Jim Adelson didn't have any "direct links" to BOk.

But Adelson and his wife Ellen serve on the University of Tulsa Board of Trustees along with five members of the BOk Board. Those five are Sharon J. Bell, Chet Cadieux, Joseph W. Craft, III, Kivisto and Steven J. Malcolm.

Also on the TU Trustees with those five BOk Board members are Robert and Roxanna Lorton of World Publishing and Bill Lobeck, Mayor Taylor's husband and the other owner of that jet that fetched David Patrick. Another TU Trustee is Steve Turnbo, CEO of Schnake, Turnbo and Frank Public Relations.

Remember that World Publishing was the largest preferred stock holder and Turnbo was the largest common stock holder in the failed Great Plains Airlines. Remember also that it was Taylor and her City Attorney, Deidre Dexter [who used to work for Dorwart] that negotiated the Great Plains settlement.

During the July 10th City Council meeting, Taylor, Boylan and Lybarger repeatedly touted the fact that half of the ballpark's $60 million price tag would be supplied by private sources of funding. The Tulsa World reported in their Saturday edition that "Kivisto and SemGroup had discussed but not committed to a $7.5 million contribution and naming rights for the stadium, said Mayor Kathy Taylor."

Was this $7.5 million part of the $30 million sold to the Council? Kivisto left BOk effective July 16, just six days after the July 10 vote. Did Mayor Taylor or any of the BOk Board members selling the Business Improvement District and the ballpark and the need to rush a vote KNOW that all was not well at SemGroup and the money wouldn't be there? Pulling Kivisto's $7.5 million would have made the private contribution $22.5 million, which is less than the public contribution of $25 million.

According to Reuters:

Thomas Kivisto, who helped found SemGroup, had been on the board of directors of
BOK since 2006. Kivisto stepped down from the top job at SemGroup last week
after a cash crunch stemming from its oil hedging program forced it to consider
a bankruptcy filing.

BOK engaged in regular hedging transactions with
SemGroup, which trades over 500,000 barrels per day of crude oil. As of Dec. 31,
2007 SemGroup had hedged 21 million barrels of oil and some natural gas with
BOK, the bank said in its proxy filing with the Securities and Exchange

As of Dec. 31, 2007, the short value of these hedges with
SemGroup was $130 million, BOK said in its proxy filing.

BOk, Taylor, Boylan, Kivisto, Kaiser, Lybarger and a slew of other players were all very closely linked with four major stories of the past three weeks; the Great Plains settlement, the Drillers Ballpark, Taylor's use of "Mayor Force One" to fly her city council around the country and the financial troubles at SemGroup.

Coincidence? Get a life!
Two people were the primary spokes people selling the new Drillers Ballpark. They were Bank of Oklahoma President Stan Lybarger, and Peter Boylan, formerly the President of TV Guide. I got curious about why Boylan was chosen, aside from his deep financial knowledge and negotiating skills. I also began wondering who took Kathy Taylor's place on the Bank of Oklahoma Board of Directors.

So I did a bit of research. It shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone that follows Tulsa's oligarchical political scene that, lo and behold, Peter Boylan turned up on a list of BOk Directors. It should be noted with a tinge of sad irony, that it appears that Mayor Taylor's spot on the board was taken by Tom Kivisto, who was just this Friday, relieved of his duties as CEO of Semgroup here in Tulsa.

As you'll learn at any ballpark in America, when that cute young woman approaches you and asks you if you want to by a program, "You can't tell the players if you don't have a program."

Here is the list of the entire Board of Directors for BOk:

Sharon BellAge 56Joined 1993Director

Sharon J. Bell has been Director of BOK Financial Corporation., since 1993. She is Attorney and Managing Partner, Rogers and Bell (Tulsa, Oklahoma); Trustee and General Counsel, Chapman-McFarlin Interests; formerly a Director and President of Red River Oil Company (oil and gas exploration and development).

William Durrett771991Director

William E. Durrett has been Director of BOK Financial Corporation., since 1991. He is Senior Chairman of the Board and Director of American Fidelity Corporation (insurance holding company), and American Fidelity Assurance Company (a registered investment advisor).

V. Burns Hargis621993Director

V. Burns Hargis is President, Oklahoma State University since March, 2008. Prior to becoming OSU President, Mr. Hargis served as Vice Chairman, BOK Financial and BOk and Director of BOSC, Inc. since 1997; formerly Attorney and Shareholder of the law firm of McAfee & Taft (Oklahoma City, Oklahoma).

E. Carey Joullian471995Director

E. Carey Joullian, IV is Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Mustang Fuel Corporation and subsidiaries; President and Manager, Joullian & Co., L.L.C.; Manager, JCAP, L.L.C.

Robert LaFortune811993Director

Robert J. LaFortune has been Director of BOK Financial Corporation., since 1993. He is Self-employed in the investment and management of personal financial holdings. Mr. LaFortune is also a director of Apco Argentina, Inc.

Peter Boylan442005Director

Peter C. Boylan, III has been Director of BOK Financial Corporation., since 2005. He is CEO of Boylan Partners, LLC (investment management and advisory organization) since March 2002. From April 2002 through March 2004, Mr. Boylan served as Director, President and Chief Operating Officer of Liberty Broadband Interactive Television, Inc. (technology company providing software, services and products to cable and satellite television network operators worldwide), a company controlled by Liberty Media Corporation. Prior to April 2002, Mr. Boylan was Co-President, Co-Chief Operating Officer, Member of the Office of the Chief Executive Officer, and Director of Gemstar-TV Guide International, Inc. (media, entertainment, technology and communications company).

Steven Malcolm592002Director

Steven J. Malcolm has been Director of BOK Financial Corporation., since 2002. He is Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of The Williams Companies, Inc. (energy holding company); formerly, President and Chief Executive Officer of Williams Energy Services after serving as senior vice president and general manager of Midstream Gas and Liquids for Williams Energy Services.

Paula Marshall542003Director

Paula Marshall has been Director of BOK Financial Corporation., since 2003. She is Chief Executive Officer, The Bama Companies, Inc. (manufacturer and marketer of food products); Ms. Marshall is also a director of Helmerich and Payne, Inc. (oil and gas drilling contractor) and American Fidelity Corporation (insurance holding company). She is also a former director of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.

David Griffin422003Director

David F. Griffin has been Director of BOK Financial Corporation., since 2003. He is President, Griffin Communications, L.L.C. (owns and operates CBS affiliated television stations in Oklahoma); formerly President and General Manager, KWTV-9 (Oklahoma City). Griffin also owns Tulsa's KOTV-6 (Tulsa).

Gregory Allen452005Director

Gregory S. Allen has been Director of BOK Financial Corporation., since 2005. He is President and CEO, Advance Food Company (manufacturer and marketer of value-added food products). Mr. Allen has served as President of Advance Food Company since 1998.

Chester Cadieux412005Director

Chester Cadieux, III has been Director of BOK Financial Corporation., since 2005. He is President, CEO and Director of QuikTrip Corporation (a gasoline and retail convenience chain) since 2002. Prior to becoming President and CEO, Mr. Cadieux served as Vice President of Sales at QuikTrip Corporation.

Thomas Kivisto562006Director

Thomas L. Kivisto has been Director of BOK Financial Corporation., he has Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of SemGroup, LP .(gathering, transporting, marketing and hedging services for energy industry).

Joseph Craft572007Director

Joseph W. Craft, III serves as Director of BOK Financial Corp since 2007. He is President, Chief Executive Officer and Director of Alliance Resource Partners, LLP (a diversified coal producer and marketer) since 1999. Mr. Craft also serves as President, Chief Executive Officer and a Director of Alliance Holdings GP, L.P. Previously, Mr. Craft served as President of MAPCO Coal Inc. since 1986.

John Gibson--2008Director

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Arkansas Policy on Private Jets

So how much was Kathy Taylor's gift of a flight on her corporate jet worth? Well Arkansas has established a formula for determining just such a trip. The wording of the opinion below deals with lobbyists and not fellow elected officials, but the fact that Taylor had a lobbyist on the plane to meet Councilor Patrick and to work him on the flight back to Tulsa, makes it in my book, pretty relevant.

Here is an excerpt from the Arkansas opinion:

Issued August 21, 1997


What is the fair market value of a ride on a private airplane provided by a lobbyist to a public official?


The actual operating costs of the aircraft for the trip should be used (usually expressed in terms of a hourly rate to operate the aircraft multiplied by the number of hours) divided by the number of passengers on the plane. This figure should be disclosed by the lobbyist, the public official or both on the applicable reporting form.
The way I see it, Patrick should get hit for at least half the cost of the flight. At the very least, he should report this on his taxes next year and pay income tax on the value of that flight.

Maybe Kathy Taylor IS a Republilcan?

Tulsa Mayor Kathy Taylor apparently hates paying taxes so much, that she and her husband, Bill Lobeck, have established the holding company for their investments in the State of Nevada.

As postulated in the post below, 1132 Investment Co., which is the official owner of "Mayor Force One," is a Nevada company. The following is a screen capture and link from the Nevada Secretary of State's web site [which is a heck of a lot more citizen friendly and transparent than the joke of a site Susan Savage oversees].
1132 Investment Co. link.

I have heard it often speculated that Mayor Taylor doesn't take her salary for the Mayor's job, because if she did all of her income might be subject to Oklahoma income taxes. I'm not an accountant, so while this sounds logical to me, I can't be 100% sure it is true.

We also know that Taylor and her husband don't have two Homestead exemptions on their two mansions; one in Mid-Town Tulsa near the Lortons, and one in the Ft. Lauderdale area. What I don't know is which mansion has the exemption. I'm pretty sure the Florida abode is the winner on this one, though. Why?

To make an educated guess, let's ask the question, what states don't have a state income tax?

Answer: "Seven states have no state income tax: Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington and Wyoming. Two others, New Hampshire and Tennessee, tax only dividend and interest income."

Let's see...mansion in Florida which is your primary residence for income tax purposes...Nevada based investment corporation that owns one of your "his and hers" private jets. Sounds like a well thought out strategy to limit your taxes to me.

To which I say, Bravo!

As a Republican and admitted Randian Objectivist, I think such behavior is what makes our capitalistic system churn. Keep your dollars invested in states that don't squeeze you. Put aside your ambitions to be Governor of Oklahoma some day. There are other, less expensive ways to maximize your political potential, like...I don't spending the money of taxpayers stupid enough to not place their assets in shelters.

Most Democrat politicos believe, "There is no joy greater than the spending of other people's money."

That is, unless it's is the joy of keeping other Democrat politicos from spending YOUR money!
The Nevada Secretary of State lists Kathy Taylor and her husband as two of the three officers in 1132 Investment. The third is Joshua C. Miller of Nevada Holding Services. Miller and NHS are decent supporters of George W. Bush. See link here.

NHS provides services for Nevada subsidiary corporations, sometimes called "holding companies."

A cached web link says the following about the company which now operated under the name of The Key State Companies:

I think that pretty much ices any speculation that the Mayor and the First Mister's Lear Jet is owned by a for profit tax shelter in another state.

Mrs. Susan J. Miller, also of NHS is a very solid GOP donor as well as a woman who likes to cover her bases. She gave the maximum $2,300 contribution to John McCain, Fred Thompson and Rudy Guilliani! Apparently she doesn't believe in covering her bases with the Democrats, though.

I guess Mayor Taylor likes working with Republicans when they can save her some cash. Never know when you're going to need a spare $4,500 for jet fuel to fetch a city councilor or two.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Is Taylor's Jet a Sub-Sonic Ethical Question?

Some time last week, Tulsa Mayor Kathy Taylor [as I expected she would] blocked the ability of the public to track her private jet, "Mayor Force One," on the Internet. Apparently, she has become concerned about the increased interest that I and other constituents have been showing in how she uses this rare asset to affect public policy.

I first had my interest piqued when I heard several councilors refer to trips they had taken with BOk President Stan Lybarger and others to visit ballparks in Memphis, Toledo and Indianapolis. They did this during the July 1o, 2008 City Council meeting during discussion regarding the proposed Business Improvement District [BID] for a new Tulsa Drillers baseball stadium. That measure passed the Council that night by a 6 to 3 vote.

I heard rumors last week that Kathy Taylor had used "her jet" to fly to Colorado to fetch her most loyal councilor, District 3's David Patrick. Seems, I was told, she thought she might need his vote to rush the BID resolution through to passage before opposition to the BID could mount. During my show on Friday, July 18, while talking about how Mayor Taylor had blocked the tracking of her plane, I purposely slipped in as one of the reasons she might have done so, her potential desire to send a plane up to Colorado to pick up David Patrick. [Hear the relevant audio here]. I like to do such things to see if it shakes anything up.

Lo and behold, the very next morning, the Tulsa World miraculously has a story on the occurrence of just such an event!

The story goes to great pains [not to be confused with Great Plains] to explain that the trip had been vetted for any legal and ethical questions that might have arisen. The more cynical among us could almost assume that the Tulsa World reported the story as part of Kathy Taylor's special "spin included" clause that comes with her premium subscription to her friends', the Lorton's, family newspaper.

But questions are still beginning to bubble to the surface. First, who owns the Lear Jet that fetched Patrick? The newspaper refers to it as Taylor's "private jet," which explains more who uses it than who owns it. If a reader somehow becomes confused by the reference so as to believe that Taylor is the sole, private owner, that can't be the World's fault.

The actual owner of the jet is 1132 Investment Co. As the graphic below shows, this is apparently not an Oklahoma corporation, but rather one from Nevada.

It remains to be seen if this is significant. I did some checking on the Oklahoma Secretary of State's website to see if 1132 Investment had any apparent registration with the State of Oklahoma. I could not find any. This isn't conclusive in itself, since the website, ultimately controlled by Mayor Taylor's good friend, former Tulsa Mayor Susan Savage, isn't exactly user friendly.

But let's assume that 1132 Investment isn't domesticated in Oklahoma, but is fully a Nevada corporation. Let us further assume that, as the name implies, the company is a for-profit venture. What then makes the use of this jet to fetch loyal councilors any different than if American Airlines had sent a jet up to get Patrick? In both instances, you would have a jet owned and operated by a out-of-state corporation, flying across state lines for the express purpose of bringing a vacationing elected official back home for a key vote.

I'm wondering if the State ethics experts were told about some of these wrinkles when they were asked their opinion. Or were they simply told that it was Kathy Taylor's "private jet?"

I further wonder if there are any federal ethical questions involved in this?

When I was a city councilor, we were not allowed to accept gifts in excess, if memory serves me right, of $50. By her own admission, Taylor gave Patrick something [a quick and timely trip home] that was far in excess of $50, unless you don't think $4,500 in jet fuel and hours on the road don't rate.

If 1132 Investment Co. is a for-profit corporation, can we assume that the corporate accountant will depreciate the Lear Jet 31a as a result of the trip? Doesn't that take tax payer dollars from the company's tax bill?

Patrick was not in Colorado on official business. He was there on a semi-vacation tending to private property he owns there. It cost him his own money to get to Colorado, so any expense saved in getting back from private activities is a net benefit to his personal wealth, hence a gift! Or are they telling us that Taylor then spent an additional $4,500 to fly him BACK to Colorado after the meeting?

I wonder if the IRS will have some interest in this matter?

One more thing troubles me about the Tulsa World's account of what happened. The paper writes:
Patrick said he and his grandson, who has never flown, traveled back in the jet with the pilot and Stacy Kymes.

Kymes, director of capital markets and mergers and acquisitions for the Bank of Oklahoma, is one of several people who has worked behind the scenes on a proposed downtown baseball stadium for the Tulsa Drillers, the city's Double A baseball team.

Why is a mergers and acquisitions specialist for Bank of Oklahoma made available for several hours to lobby a city councilor? Why is such a specialist working on a ballpark issue for the city and the Mayor, during the same period of time that the Mayor and Bank of Oklahoma were hammering out a $7.1 million settlement in the Great Plains Airlines debacle? Just two weeks prior to the ballpark vote, the Tulsa City Council had voted 5 to 2 to certify that money existed in the city's Sinking Fund, sufficient to pay the $7.1 million to none other than Bank of Oklahoma!

Oh yeah...before announcing her run for the position of Mayor of Tulsa, Kathy Taylor had been a member of the Board of Directors of Bank of Oklahoma!

George Kaiser, the principal shareholder of Bank of Oklahoma has been throwing a lot of money and weight behind much of what the Mayor has been involved in of late. If downtown property owners will benefit from the building of an new downtown ballpark, and if George Kaiser is the owner of downtown property [which he is] then can't we assume that Stacy Kymes, Mr. Kaiser's employee, will be advising Patrick more toward what is in BOk's best interest, rather than the City's? Or are you so naive as to delude yourself that what is good for BOk is also good for Tulsa?

I'm not sure what we can do with this, other than to begin to pressure a city council made up of city councilors who have been enjoying high roller treatment through the generosity of 1132 Investment Co, to change the Council's Ethics Ordinance to stop future activity of this nature. Not likely.

Maybe it's time to put together a petition to publicly censure the Mayor and her jet setting City Council?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Is Randi Miller the Only One Who Closed Bells?

The simple answer is of course not.

Randi Miller was just one of five people who refused to put Bell's lease onto the Fair Board agenda. By refusing to consider a new Bell's lease, each board member cast a de facto vote. As Miller pointed out on Pat Campbell's show, there were four others who are for the most part, equally at fault.

The question Miller keeps postulating is, "Why am I being singled out?"

Let me answer this first by stating that three of the Fair Board members responsible are no longer on the board. Bob Dick, Wilbert Collins and Clark Brewster are no longer members. Dick chose not to run for re-election, perhaps seeing electoral inevitability on the proverbial wall. Collins lost his election to John Smaligo just days before the Fair Board made it clear (through a unanimous non-vote) that Bell's had to go and had to go fast. Brewster was not reappointed by the County Commissioners, thus keeping half of a campaign promise that both Perry and Smaligo had made before they were elected, which was to remove Democrat activists Brewster and Orbison from their seats.

Assuming that Perry and Smaligo will fulfill their entire campaign promise when Orbison comes up for re-appointment, that leaves Miller standing as the only one of the five with any potential long term future on the County Fair Board. Unlike Orbison, Miller's future does not lie in the hands of Smaligo and Perry, but rather in the hands of the voters of District 2. If she is going to be replaced, now is the time to do so.

Miller is also selling the myth that the only reason voters want her out of office is due to the Bell's situation. As Michael Bates pointed out last week in Urban Tulsa Weekly, there is a laundry list of issues that has Miller teetering on the edge of electoral defeat. In fact, Bates' list isn't even complete, but that's stuff for a future posting, perhaps.

Given all of this, Randi Miller is asking the wrong question. Rather than lamenting that she is being singled out as the only official being blamed for the Bell's debacle, she should be asking a far more accurate question.

Why should Randi Miller be the ONLY one of the five Fair Board members to NOT be asked to return to private life?

For those Republicans that believe the Bell family got a raw deal at the hands of the Fair Board, now is the only time they will get a chance to ensure [1] that all five members' service will come to an end, and [2] that the District 2 County Commission seat will not fall into the hands of Democrat Karen Keith.

It remains to be seen if Miller will be successful in selling her "why me?" defense.

Monday, June 30, 2008

My Taylor Sign Contri

Qui Tam Booty?

This is a photograph of Kathy Taylor's private jet [actually, it belongs to 1132 Investment Company, which is owned by Mr. Kathy Taylor, aka Bill Lobeck]. What do you think this Learjet 31a [serial number 28] would fetch should the citizens be successful in hitting the city in a tax payer's law suit, more appropriately known as a "Qui Tam," action?

This jet also serves as an iconic reminder that millionaire Mayor's have no problem with transferring a mere $7 million over to a billionaire.

Just in case she might decide to fly the jet to another locale to keep our mitts off it as possible settlement assets, I'll be giving the taxpayers a weekly update on The Chris Medlock Show as to where the jet is, and where it has been that week.

If you would like to do this yourself, you can do so at:

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Richard Studenny Off the Hook?

[Note: I ran the audio from the video that I shot at the Airport meeting and then ran it through a graphic equalizer. With the audio cleaned up and headphones on, I realized I miss heard the Airport Board's position on this. The Board will retain their claims against Studenny. This doesn't mean that Studenny doesn't get a free pass. The best friends he has within city government are at the airports. We'll see if they ever press the courts for his money.]

I attended the special meeting of the Tulsa Airports Improvement Trust that was held at 8:30 AM in Room 1101 of the Tulsa City Hall. Even though this was on the same floor and mere feet from Mayor Taylor's office, Kathy Taylor never appeared during the meeting.

All board members were present in the room with the exception of Meredith Siegfried, who was on a speaker phone as she was in Singapore on business.

The meeting was late starting and relatively brief. There were few surprises, but one jumped out at me. Richard Studenny, the attorney for the Tulsa Industrial Authority AND TAIT [the lender AND the borrower] back when the Great Plains deal was cooked up, will potentially be given a free pass. 

TIA, and indirectly BOK, was going after Mr. Studenny's malpractice and/or errors and omissions insurance to recoup their financial losses. Studenny was fired, after a too lengthy drama in the media, by then Mayor Bill LaFortune. It was always speculated that Studenny knew where "all the bodies" were buried at the Tulsa Airport. 

Now with Kathy Taylor's rushed and hushed settlement, the word is that both the bank, and TIA will waive any claim to Studenny's insurance. This let's him off free and clear, unless the City Council and/or the mayor muster the political will to pursue him in court. Remember though, this will be a brand new law suit and the clock and the cash machine will have to begin anew.

What's that smell? Can you smell that smell?

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Council Powerless to Stop Taylor?

I have it on very good authority that the Tulsa City Council can do nothing to delay Mayor Kathy Taylor from giving away $7 million in Tulsa taxpayer funds to the Bank of Oklahoma. The resolution the Council will be voting on Thursday night is to "survey" the Sinking Fund, to see if there are sufficient monies available to cover the Mayor's action.

This surveying of the Sinking Fund is considered to be a "ministerial" action which a previous City Attorney, Alan Jackere told the Council when I was a member, that the council is duty bound to certify the figures, if they are true. Ironically, Jackere is the same City Attorney that told the Council in 2005 that the city had no legal obligation to make good on Bank of Oklahoma's bad loan to TIA via TAIT. Doubly ironic is the fact that Jackere was run out of his position early in Taylor's term of office because she alleged that Jackere and Larry Simmons (another staunch opponent within city legal to giving money to BOK) mishandled a law suit against a man improperly prosecuted, which (triply ironic) cost the tax payers millions of dollars from the city's Sinking Fund.

With these two gentlemen gone, can then rely on her appointee as City Attorney, Deidre Dexter, to tell her everything is hunky-dory with the transfer of funds. Remember too, that Dexter is the first City Attorney in recent memory that is employed as one of Taylor's sixteen at-will employees. This means she can also be fired at will. Draw your own conclusions.

The last time the council voted down a "ministerial" action was when it voted not to approve the plat for the F&M Bank that was eventually built at 71st and Harvard. When the Council took that action, F&M filed suit against the councilors individually, threatening their personal assets. Since it took a majority of councilors to deny the plat, a majority of the council were named in the suit. As such, no majority of the council could be mustered to vote to give the councilors [me included] the legal services of City Legal. As such, each councilor was forced to hire their own counsel.

It is quite doubtful that the current councilors will take such a risk to stop this action, given the determined legal actions BOK has been taking to get their money back. Thus, Kathy Taylor will be able to claim that she made the transfer of money with the blessings of the Council.

At best, the council could safely delay the action for a week or two, giving the voters time to muster some political pressure from the public to stop the Mayor.

There will be an 8:30 AM special meeting of the Tulsa Airport Improvement Trust in Room 1101 of City Hall. This is the Mayor's main conference room. It is ostensibly open to the public, but also very likely that they will move to enter executive session to handle the really dicey stuff the Mayor doesn't want the public to know.

Later that evening, the Council will meet at 5 PM to "survey" the Sinking Fund and then will vote on it as a "Mayors Item," during their regular Thursday night meeting.

The citizens of the city of Tulsa need to pack the place and speak out against this waste of our tax dollars. Give the City Council some political cover to delay this, thus assuring the Mayor will pay a political price if she proceeds.

Kathy Taylor to Pay Off Great Plains Despite Former BOK Ties?

The hot scuttle-butt down at City Hall is that Kathy Taylor is planning to sign over millions of Tulsa tax payer dollars to the Bank of Oklahoma for a questionable loan made regarding the Great Plains Airlines fiasco.

Word is that Friday morning she will meet with the Tulsa City Council in a special meeting to inform them of the deal. She will be using her full authority to bind the city to a contract, so she can act without the approval of the City Council.

Since the meeting is not regularly scheduled, it will not appear on TGOV. Anyone with a video camera and some time should plan to be at the meeting.

The timing of the deal on a Friday is obviously intended to minimize media attention. It appears she's planned this for a time when many Tulsans will be on vacation.

My sources have been telling me this has been coming for some time, but the speed of this move astounds those I have spoken with today.

For more on this, tune in to the Chris Medlock Show today at 2 PM on 1170, KFAQ AM.

Rick "Choo Choo" Westcott

I've been making a great deal about Rick Westcott's seeming obsession with Amtrak and light rail. Seems he's more concerned and spends more time trying to get an antiquated mode of transportation brought to our city than he is in optimizing the current mode of transportation in his district.

Where are we, Councilor Westcott, on the widening of Lewis Ave from 61st to 76th streets? Randi Miller first got that project into the 3rd Penny in 2001 and I had to fight to get it refunded in 2006 when the '01 tax fell short. I was promised it would be among the first projects funded in the new tax, and yet the downtown streets are getting repaired ahead of them.

Why aren't you screaming to the heavens?

I understand that the project would've hurt the city's ability to host the PGA Championship last Summer, but we should've seen orange barrels first thing this Spring.

Time for you to review your priorities, Councilor.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Oklahoma Gay Democrats Pushing Boudaries of Good Taste

This ad appeared recently in the Oklahoma Gazette [basically OKC's version of Urban Tulsa Weekly].

What do you think? Offensive? What if you're a WWII vet or a Marine? Does the radical gay lobby have to pervert every iconic image important to traditional Americans?

I know I won't interview any of the candidates listed as being supported by this group without asking them for an apology to our vets, first.

Wonder what Andrew Rice is thinking about this? Given that he has a Masters Degree from a Unitarian-Universalist divinity school, it can't be helping his chances to have such extremist ads making him look anything but the centrist.