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.