Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Oklahoma Dept. of Rehabilitative Memoranda

Somehow or other we missed the news last week that the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitative Services had issued an e-mail memorandum to various employees forbidding certain expressions that could be interpreted as religious in nature.
Some employees at the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services were sent an e-mail that's causing controversy. The e-mail, which was sent by managers, told workers it was inappropriate to use terms such as "prayer," "God Bless" or "Merry Christmas." It even warned employees that it could be cause for disciplinary action, including discharge.
The memo seems to be stirring strong opinions.
That last sentence was an understatement, apparently.

Today there is word that ODORS - isn't that the proper acronym for the agency? - has issued a retracting "can't we all just get along heah" memo advising that it is of course permissible to say "Merry Christmas" as long as the agency employee has done his/her due diligence and made sure that the recipient of said MC or GB or the P-word is cool with such utterances.

Jody Harlan, the Public Information Administrator for the state agency, says, "In the past, we've had some people who have had their feelings hurt, and they didn't feel included."

Ms. Harlan was on the airwaves this afternoon, grudgingly acknowledging the change of policy, but at the same time issuing a thinly veiled warning:
A department spokeswoman says the intent was to remind employees they can't dictate how other people feel about the holiday. The department says religious harassment will not be tolerated.
Ah! We get it now. Telling someone "Merry Christmas" or "God bless you" is religious harassment.

We didn't know that.

Paper money unfair to blind - and everyone else!

A federal judge says the paper currency of the United States must be changed because blind people can't tell the difference between a $1 bill and a $100 bill. Thus the government is guilty of perpetrating another unholy evil.

U.S. Dist. Judge James Robertson of Washington, D.C. (a Clinton-appointee in 1994, naturally) isn't tell the government how to "fix" the money so that it can pass his scrutiny. He's just telling them to get after it. In his ruling he cited the absolutely irrelevant fact that of the 180 countries that issue paper currency, the U.S. is the only one that prints all denominations in the same size and color.

Egads! Alert the U.N. Security Council. We are insufficiently globalized! Or to put it more to the point: Since when did the United States ever feel it necessary to do all things exactly like the rest of the freakin' world? Have you ever taken a close look at some of the currency other countries force you to use when you visit?

What we'd like to know is which countries issue paper currency that blind people can automatically read? C'mon! Educate us! Put up or shut up.

While the judge isn't giving "how to" advice,
The American Council of the Blind has proposed several options, including printing bills of differing sizes, adding embossed dots or foil to the paper or using raised ink.
Uncle Sam, which has been printing greenbacks for some time now, takes a dim view of the ruling:
Government attorneys argued that forcing the Treasury Department to change the size of the bills or add texture would make it harder to prevent counterfeiting. Robertson was not swayed.
Of course not.

He said the government was violating the Rehabilitation Act, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in government programs. The opinion came after a four-year legal fight.

Must we change the currency?

Electronic devices are available to help blind people differentiate between bills, but many complain that they are slow, expensive and unreliable. Visually impaired shoppers frequently rely on store clerks to help them.

"It's just frankly unfair that blind people should have to rely on the good faith of people they have never met in knowing whether they've been given the correct change," said Jeffrey A. Lovitky, attorney for the plaintiffs in the lawsuit.

Of course.

We have a suggestion. Implant voice chips into all currency - damn the cost! - so that when you rub your finger over the head of the enshrined notable, the bill hollers out: "I'm George Washington, printed 2007, your $1 man!" or "I'm Andy Jackson, printed 2008, and you've got your hands on a terrific twenty!"

Instantly it would increase the value of our currency, if for no other reason than the bills could be given to small children as Christmas and birthday presents, and they would become collectors' items.

Sadly, store clerks with no morals could still swap out the good cash for worthless candy bar wrappers on which they've black-market voice-chip knock-offs. You just can't trust anyone these days.

But there's a larger issue involved. Paper money isn't just unfair to the blind. It's unfair to everyone. Not backed by anything other than the "good faith and trust" of the bearer in the ability of the United States to maintain the value of its currency - a fancy way of saying that the value is whatever the world market thinks it is - the dollar has been losing value constantly since the Federal Reserve system went into operation in 1915. In the past 10 years it has lost nearly 40% of the value it had in 1996.

This tendency of the greenback to lose value is unfair. Did Judge Robertson address this issue? Nooooooooooooo!!! So things are just gonna keep costing more and more dollars to buy, because China's getting tired of warehousing our currency and may just do something about it.

So our newly redesigned dollars may not be worth much in the near future, but by gosh they will be readable by everyone!

A Final Note: Judge Robertson is the same federal judge who initially ruled that an enemy combatant held at Gitmo was entitled to the same Constitutional rights as one of our own soldiers. He's also the same James Robertson, federal judge, who quit the FISA court in a public temper tantrum to draw attention to aspects of the warrantless "spying" program on electronic intercepts.

Bottom Line? He's gone from subverting the administration's war effort to subverting the currency of the United States.

With friends like these ...

Friday, November 24, 2006

Random & Useless OU Football post

Perhaps it is earned belatedly, but we are awarding the first-ever Oklahomily Diogenes Award to Gordon Riese, replay booth official of the Pac-10 Conference, for his soul-saving confession :

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- The replay official for the Oklahoma-Oregon football game says he knew that Oklahoma recovered a pivotal onside kickoff late in the game.

But Gordon Riese told The Oklahoman that replay rules prevented him from correcting on-field officials who made the wrong call and awarded possession to Oregon, even though it was clear to Riese that Oklahoma's Allen Patrick had recovered the ball.

Riese also said that if he had seen the correct angle of the replay, it would have been easy to reverse the call and give possession to Oklahoma, which could have run out the clock. But that didn't happen, he said, and Oregon took advantage of the officiating blunder, scoring a last-minute touchdown to win 34-33.

It goes without saying that Sooner fans have been mulling the "what ifs" ever since, and the loss of Texas to A&M this afternoon, while an occasion for joy, lacks the essential national championship ingredient that would make it an over-the-top, slam-dunk, spend the baby's milk money night of celebration. Yea though OU will probably win Saturday against OSU in the Bedlam game, and go on to whip up on Nebraska in the Big 12 Championship, there is yet heavy heartedness for true fans.

But, Riese said, he chose to follow the rules of the replay system, which meant he couldn't tell the on-field Pacific-10 Conference officials of their error -- even though the referee asked him which team had recovered.

"I can't let it go," he said. "It's something we officials have just been schooled with -- to get the call right -- and I didn't do it that day."

Oklahoma is 9-2, but would be 10-1 and possibly a part of national-championship discussion if not for the officiating errors at Oregon. Riese said he's aware of the Sooners' success this season.

In earning the Oklahomily Diogenes Award, Riese demonstrated superior ability in honesty and falling-on-his-sword courage for taking personal responsibility:

The Pac-10 suspended Riese for one game, and he later requested and was granted a leave of absence for the remainder of the season. He said he does not plan to return to the replay booth and that the mistake continues to bother him.

"I worry about the screwup we did in the Oklahoma game," he said. "It's inexcusable."

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Saving humanity from the ground floor

An Associated Press headline out of Paris, France, this week:

Nations Sign $13 billion nuclear fusion project
PARIS - Nations representing half the world’s population signed a long-awaited, $12.8 billion pact Tuesday for a nuclear fusion reactor that could revolutionize global energy use for future generations.

The ITER project by the United States, the European Union, China, India, Russia, Japan and South Korea will attempt to combat global warming by harnessing the fusion that runs the sun, creating an alternative to polluting fossil fuels.

But the project is still only experimental and will take decades to get going — and environmental groups say it may not even work.

If you have one of those "we have been this way before" moments - we suppose it would be okay to say "deja vu" - you are not mistaken. The enlightened nations of the world rediscover the promise of fusion energy about every 25 years, pledge a massive "save the world" project, spend one hell of a lot of money, and so far have achieved squat. No sustained fusion reaction, no production of energy greater than the amount actually used to fire up the experiment.

(That is, of course, if you do not count the hydrogen bomb. It works real well and produces energy well in excess of input.)

Raymond Orbach of the U.S. Department of Energy said, “This energy represents the hope of the world.”

Yeah, that's what they said the last time, and we got all excited, and just like promise of a flying car our hopes have been dashed to pieces. And PSO/AEP is still asking the Oklahoma Corporation Commission for permission to raise our electricity rates! The Jacques Chirac-led bunch in France isn't even promising quick relief.

The International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor will be built in Cadarache in the southern French region of Provence. It is expected to create about 10,000 jobs and take about eight years to build.

Some 400 scientists from around the world would operate the reactor, and officials hope to set up a demonstration power plant in Cadarache around 2040. If it works, only then could the energy be made commercially available.

Many of us will be long dead by the time the utility companies get around to billing us for those kilowatt hours. But lest we despair, there is another piece of news on yon internets about a young man in suburban Detroit, home of the amazing Automobile, who has created a fusion reactor in his basement.

For real.

On the surface, Thiago Olson is like any typical teenager.

He's on the cross country and track teams at Stoney Creek High School in Rochester Hills. He's a good-looking, clean-cut 17-year-old with a 3.75 grade point average, and he has his eyes fixed on the next big step: college.

But to his friends, Thiago is known as "the mad scientist."

In the basement of his parents' Oakland Township home, tucked away in an area most aren't privy to see, Thiago is exhausting his love of physics on a project that has taken him more than two years and 1,000 hours to research and build -- a large, intricate machine that , on a small scale, creates nuclear fusion.

Nuclear fusion -- when atoms are combined to create energy -- is "kind of like the holy grail of physics," he said.

Yeah, baby!

Pointing to the steel chamber where all the magic happens, Thiago said on Friday that this piece of the puzzle serves as a vacuum. The air is sucked out and into a filter.

Then, deuterium gas -- a form of hydrogen -- is injected into the vacuum. About 40,000 volts of electricity are charged into the chamber from a piece of equipment taken from an old mammogram machine. As the machine runs, the atoms in the chamber are attracted to the center and soon -- ta da -- nuclear fusion.

Thiago said when that happens, a small intense ball of energy forms.

He first achieved fusion in September and has been perfecting the machine he built in his parents' garage ever since.

Forget the $13 billion international showcase and give this kid a grant, say maybe a million dollars or thereabouts and get out of his way.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Who will ride to the rescue of Bell's?

Who will ride to the rescue of Bell's Amusement Park?

Several neighbor cities to Tulsa have indicated a willingness to become its new home, including Broken Arrow, Sand Springs, Owasso, Bixby and Jenks. Now one Tulsa city councilor is jumping into the fray on the Bell's side of things. Bill Christiansen reportedly will ask the mayor and other councilors to approve a resolution in support of Bell's continued presence in the city.

That's nice. It may fall well short of convincing the county commissioners and fair board to mend their ways, and it isn't much of a carrot for Bell's, especially not after the latest salvo from Expo Square officialdom. A letter from president Rick Bjorklund to Bell's attorneys dated last Thursday stated that there will be "no further consideration" of the park's future at Expo Square.

And this after, and in spite of, Bell's agreement, with a condition, to allow its books to be audited by an independent trio of accountants. The condition? That the information contained in Bell's business plan "not be disseminated outside" the fair board offices.

One is left to conclude that this was a deal-breaker for Bjorklund and the county commissioners. Why? It seems reasonable enough on the surface. Is it possible that the plan all along was to pass the Bell's information on to others? Is it possible that it was, in truth, the only reason for requiring Bell's to jump through this particularly hoop? And that the condition insisted upon by Bell's would put the fairgrounds officials in jeopardy should any information get to persons who have no business having it? People who, perhaps, are planning to go into business directly competing with Bell's?

Ah, yes! Many questions, no clear answers. Lots of stench and smoke, metaphorically speaking. A devilishly strange development.

Robby Bell, interviewed on KFAQ this morning, said that if he were a rich man ("if I won the lottery") he'd fight the good fight to expose what is happening. And that's what it would take: a small fortune for litigators and investigators to find out what's really going on behind the scenes, air it out for the public, and let the chips fall where they may.

The citizens of Tulsa County, the people who pay the bills and who do (in the paraphrased words of George Bailey) most of the working, living and dying here, deserve far, far better than the cronyism and insider politics that lately has been fobbed off on us from some of our government officials.

Bjorklund, in his latest letter, said, "it is evident that Bell's is not a viable, ongoing business ..."

If that is true, it is largely because he and the other fairgrounds officials have established impossible conditions that will create the lack of viability. If that is true.

Bell was asked if he can survive while he attempts to relocate the amusement park. "I don't know," he answered. To the point, and honest.

State Labor Commissioner Brenda Reneau was quoted in the local newspaper, attempting to set the record straight on Bell's safety record:

Also, in a letter to the Tulsa County Commission, outgoing Oklahoma Labor Commissioner Brenda Reneau defended Bell's against what she called "incorrect" reports in the media regarding Bell's safety record.

"Throughout this decade, Bell's performance has been excellent," she wrote in the letter, dated Nov. 17. The park's "management and staff are always responsive to issues that arise during the inspection process and prompt to correct any noted discrepancies," the letter continued.

The Department of Labor oversees amusement park safety inspections.

We do not suggest that Bell's Amusement Park is a perfectly run organization. Doubtless there are improvements that could be made. Perhaps a new start would be the incentive for positive changes, an improved park and improved operations, an even better experience for Tulsa-area and Oklahoma residents. Bell's has been between a rock and a hard place for a long time, with Expo Square's intransigence on one side, and noise-weary neighbors on the other. A move to more wide-open acres on land less fraught with bureaucratic interference, could be just the thing.

But for this to happen some community is going to have to step forward to help with more than just lip service.

Finally, there was talk this morning of the idea of a grassroots movement to petition for a grand jury investigation of the fairgrounds operation.

That's not necessarily a bad idea.

However, the process is slow. It will not resolve the Bell's problem. If people want to push for a grand jury probe, that's fine by us. Just don't think that it is a cure-all.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Bell's cautious, looking at options

We are unable to find anything new written on the Bell's Amusement Park controversy this morning, but there's news on the airwaves, which we'll summarize as best we can.

One radio station reports that Robby Bell said he is in no rush to acquiesce to Randi Miller's demand that the amusement park financials go under scrutiny from a team of "independent" accountants. The report said Bell has been approached by several area cities interested in hosting a relocated Bell's.

Another radio station reported that Bell hasn't ruled out complying with the additional audit request but is making no decision while his lawyers are looking over the Miller "press release."

One of the questions we, and others, have asked is how much revenue for the fairgrounds operation do the other Expo Square tenants generate, either in rental fees or in percentages of tickets, etc.

Turns out KOTV found the answers to these questions a week ago. The Drillers pay a flat $18,000 in rent per year, plus 50 cents per ticket sold. With 70 home games scheduled in 2007, and with a maximum seating of just under 11,000, the upper limit of fees generated is about $385,000. The reality is that the Drillers, since they became a Colorado Rockies affiliate, don't hit capacity that frequently, so the total take to the county is bound to be much less.

(We have no problem with the financial arrangements with the Drillers, by the way. We just wish they were a Saint Louis Cardinal affiliate, and then we'd be at every game, despite those abominable aluminum bleachers.)

KOTV said Big Splash revenues to the county - also on a per ticket basis - run about $110,000 to $120,000 annually.

But you have to wonder how solid those numbers are after Thursday's KOTV report:

... we're trying to learn more about other contracts at the Tulsa County fairgrounds - how much the other tenants besides Bell's pay for the right to be there. Both the Tulsa Drillers and Big Splash lease space, but we're waiting on the county to release the records that show exactly how much they pay.

And we've had several viewers question if there might be a conflict of interest between the operator of the Tulsa State Fair midway - and Commissioner Miller. Miller got a $5,000 campaign contribution in the mayor's race - from Loretta Murphy. She owns Big Splash Water Park at the fairgrounds.

Her husband, Jerry Murphy runs the midway at the Tulsa State Fair, and competes for business with Bell's. He has a contract to run the midway for up to ten years - a no-bid contract awarded to him by the Tulsa County fair board - which includes Commissioner Miller.

Several of our viewers have posted negatively on that "no-bid contract," and we'd have to say that it seems remarkably unbusinesslike for a public entity, whether it's the fair board or the Tulsa County Public Facilities Authority, to issue a multi-year lease like this without competitive bidding. It doesn't feel right, does it? Professing so much love and concern for the taxpayers of Tulsa County, but not even bothering to take bids on a major contract?

Certainly doesn't pass the smell test.

Keep up the clamor (contact list appears in an earlier post on this site).

Bell's Blog Post Sightings:

TulTellitarian at MeeCiteewurkor in "Bell's Hells."

Tulsa Chiggers says "We Can't Sit Still!"

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

A fool & his soul are soon parted ...

We have a strange foreboding about this guy's future.

Some people in need of a change get haircuts.

Others might splurge on a new shirt or throw caution completely to the wind and take a different way to work in the morning.

Gerald Fraller, however, sells his mortal soul on the Web. Literally.

Fraller, a 28-year-old guy from Tampa, Fla., is hawking his soul online because, he says, it's worth more than anything else he's got, TBO.com reports.

“I’m simply at a point in my life where I need a new direction and I am selling the most valuable item I have to offer: my very soul,” says Fraller on his Web site www.winmysoul.com.

It's a lottery for a chance to claim his soul, the winner to be announced sometime before January 30, 2007. What does it mean, exactly?

For just a dollar, interested buyers get one entry in a drawing to win a legal contract entitling them to specifically designated controls over and profits from Fraller's very existence, including a percentage of his taxable income, the right to choose the first name of his kiddos and an annual report on his life, among other colorful benefits.

No doubt there is some lucky devil who will end up with Gerald's soul. He isn't married, which any idiot could figure out immediately because if he had a wife she'd be letting him know PDQ what a stupid idea this is. (Or worse, he'd be trying to sell her soul!)

Funny thing about souls. Sooner or later you are going to wish you had it back.

A 'second chance' for Bell's?

Bell's is getting a "second chance," the Tulsa news media trumpets today. But a second chance at what?

Temper the enthusiasm. Keep the champagne on ice.

According to Randi Miller, the county commissioner who has assumed role of lead spokesman for the fair board on the matter, a second chance to submit his "business plan" to a group of three independent auditors and answer questions about cash flow, "the safety of the taxpayers" - insert a big "Huh?" here, if you will - and the ability to maintain and renovate the amusement park.

Which is different in what respect from the last request made of the Bells before the lease termination?

Miller complains to the Tulsa daily newspaper about "gross misunderstandings" of the failure to renew the lease.

To which we would say, no, Ms. Miller, we understand what is going on all too well. That's why there is a growing number of people who are raising their voices in protest. Nothing you or Expo Square president Rick Bjorklund have said so far answers the real issues underlying your actions. It is window dressing, and you know it.

Perhaps you are offering a "second chance" assessment as an opportunity to backpedal and rescind the non-renewal of the lease. We certainly hope so.

If there is a serious safety issue involved with Bells that you know about and the public doesn't, you owe it to the citizens - the aforesaid taxpayers - to say so openly. If you are merely hinting at public safety issues to cloak other motives, for shame.

If Expo Square tenants are to submit their financial bonafides and business plans for your review, then let's see the business plans of Big Splash and the Tulsa Drillers. How do they propose to increase the safety of the taxpayers, as you phrase it, and to increase the profitability of Expo Square? Is it true that neither of these entities currently pays rent for use of public land?

Miller is quoted as saying she needs to hear from "independent voices" before she can take further action.

We're sure hearing from a lot of them, and overwhelmingly they question the motives behind the non-renewal and the invocation of the 120-day "get out of here" deadline.

We would suggest that Tulsa fair authorities, county commissioners included, remember that good public service requires a certain amount of inconvenience to the public servant, and as distasteful as it might sometimes be, the necessity to treat the public (you know, the people who pay your salaries) with a little bit of respect.

There might be a diplomatic solution to this. If Bell's truly intends to move in the next year or so, perhaps everyone ought to sit down and negotiate a targeted withdrawal date and allow for "an orderly transition." While this might not work in violence-plagued Iraq, it still ought to work in midtown Tulsa.

Such a move would also give the county time to figure out how to explain to the voters what it really intends to do with that extra 10.4 acres.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Contacts for the concerned

By popular demand, we are posting these contact e-mail addresses on our main page for those of you who are serious about voicing your concern-discontent-absolute disgust with the way the Tulsa County is treating Bell's Amusement Park. (We would recommend you be firm but polite, and maybe a real name to show that you are a citizen/voter.)

Expo Square: Rick Bjorklund bjorklund@exposquare.com

Commissioner Collins: wcollins@tulsacounty.org

Commissioner Miller: rmiller@tulsacounty.org

Commissioner Dick: rdick@tulsacounty.org

KJRH Channel 2: Deana Goll – goll@kjrh.com or news@kjrh.com

KTUL Channel 8: Elizabeth Kinney – ekinney@ktul.com or desk@ktulhome.net

KOTV Channel 6: newsdesk@newson6.net

Clear Channel all stations: news@fox23.com or GM Craig Millar cmillar@fox23.com

Cox Communications: news-John Durkee john.durkee@coxradio.com, morning show-Joe Kelley joe.kelley@coxradio.com

Tulsa World: Kevin Canfield kevin.canfield@tulsaworld.com

Journal Broadcast Group: Gwen Freeman gfreeman@journelbroadcastgroup.com

Journal Record: Ginger Shephard ginger.shephard@journalrecord.com

Shamrock KTSO 94.1 FM: Paul Kriegler paulkriegler@shamrocktulsa.com

Bell's Blues Roundup

Thought it might be a good idea to post links to other web commentary on the Bell's Amusement Park situation. The comments we've received are overwhelmingly pro-Bell's (and not unsurprisingly paranoid the Tulsa Fair Board and the one surviving county commissioner who may have instigated this entire mess, according to some).

Michael Bates posts information that invites community help for the Bell's, including this plea from Sally Bell:
To our Tulsa and Oklahoma friends: As you may know we were served with eviction papers for the park on Wednesday. They have given us 120 days to remove everything and return the land to its original state (bare dirt). If you want to help us we would appreciate e-mails to all of the poeple on this list, any friends, you have who might like to help and perhaps calls to the Fairgrounds. Thank you in advance should you choose to speak out in our behalf. Signed Sally Bell (Bell's Amusement Park)
Bates, ever a student of Tulsa insider politics, says, "There are so many things wrong with this, it's hard to know where to begin ..." but manages to do a pretty good job of explaining what is wrong, and why it might be happening. His money quote:
... of course this is Tulsa County and, for about six more weeks anyway, it's dominated by County Commissioners who love making insider, exclusive, non-competitive deals with their pals for the use of public land.

I suspect the eviction of Bell's is part of such an insider deal. You'll recall that a Loretta Murphy gave $5,000 to the Randi Miller for Mayor campaign. Loretta Murphy owns Big Splash water park, another Expo Square tenant. Her husband Jerry Murphy owns Murphy Brothers. Shortly after Loretta's donation to Miller, the Fair Board awarded Murphy Brothers a non-competitive 10-year contract to provide the Tulsa State Fair's midway. Murphy Brothers might be happy just to have Bell's gone, so that all the State Fair-goers will have to ride their midway rides. Miller and the other Fair Board members need to disclose every contact with Murphy Brothers or any other private entity concerning plans for Bell's location.

There's a lot more.

Techievampire over at Explicitly Ambiguous registers disapproval of the Bell's situation.

We'll add more when we find 'em.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Needed: Some light on what's going on with Bell's

We've had a bit of feedback on the Bell's Amusement Park post of Thursday/Friday, and apparently there are others who are unhappy that the longtime Tulsa attraction is being forced out.

However, we fear that the majority of people in Tulsa County who would care are probably not paying much attention right now. The midterms are over and a certain degree of news fatigue seems to have set in with many people we know. Not to mention that so much of the news right now is bad.

If you know someone who likes to visit Bell's, or even once liked to visit Bell's, you might let them know what's going on. If enough people raise their voices in protest, even the high and mighty county commission is bound to take notice.

Sure we can drive down to Oklahoma City and spend our money at Frontier City when Bell's is no longer open. Why, we might as well! The better concerts, real NBA basketball, and certainly the superior baseball park are on the other side of the Turner.

Of course, then there really wouldn't be any need for new entertainment development in Tulsa, would there?

It would be one thing if some other company wanted to compete with Bell's, head-to-head, openly seeking to be No.1 in the market here. Competition is good. That's not what's happening, as far as the public knows. It just seems there are people in positions of power who have it in for the current amusement park operators. If they have alternative plans for providing entertainment in the Bell's space, they should let the public know about them up front. What are the options? Surely we are not talking about more parking spaces?

For decades there has been Machevalian undertones in much of what constitutes the public-private business climate in Tulsa. When there was a greater diversity of major companies doing business in Tulsa, it was a more subtle and interesting side show. Today, with so many of the historical good citizen companies long departed, there are fewer players to check and balance one another. Now the behind-the-curtain mechanizations are crude in comparison, and the results are ham-handed. Embarrassing.

A long time ago it was written: "And this is the verdict, that the light came into the world, but people preferred darkness to light, because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come toward the light, so that his works might not be exposed." (John 3:19-20)

It is just as true today.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Steele should take RNC post

Word today (Washington Times) is that Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele will be offered the chairmanship of the Republican National Committee. He also may be offered a Bush Administration cabinet post.

He should take the RNC job, for several reasons.

1. While he lost the Maryland U.S. Senate race - narrowly - and needs a good job, he showed extremely good skill as a campaigner and nearly pulled off what many said couldn't be done. His campaign ads were, in our words, "a hoot"! He has intelligence, common sense and a grasp of the English language that makes other GOP politicians (out of politeness we will not compare him to the president) look tongue-tied.

2. He has the fire for the job. Ken Mehlman may have done okay as a political director for Bush under the tutelage of Karl Rove, but he was less credible out there on his own. The GOP re-elect effort was too genteel, too lackluster, given the circumstances of the times. Steele is no "yes" man to Rove or anyone else. Frankly, given the loss of both houses in Tuesday's elections, Republicans do not "owe" Rove or the president any particular loyalty. Job One is preparing for 2008.

3. Only incidentally is race a factor here. Michael Steele is black. So what? He's a formidable voice, and that makes him a valuable commodity in any color. And if he can engage the African-American electorate on the issues, so much the better. We need more Lincoln, and Reagan, Republicans.

It is generally agreed that the GOP lost Tuesday's elections because the party began to revert to the country club, blue blood model that made it so wimpy during the first part of the 20th Century. Green eyeshade people, the bean counters for the Great Society. The party needs to rediscover its voice as an active champion of conservative ideals of limited government, lower taxes, respect for the nation's Judao-Christian heritage, and responsible human freedom. It should repudiate the globalist agenda that would see the United States water down its constitutional guarantees to its citizens and become just another mediocre cog in the great internationalist wheel.

With Michael Steele at the helm of the RNC, there must might be a chance that this could happen. He should run as fast and as far as he possibly could from any involvement in the lame duck administration. It would be a compromising and crippling move.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Explain how this benefits Expo Square?

The Tulsa County Fair Board is evicting Bell's Amusement Park which has leased 10.4 acres since 1951, or 55 years. A letter sent to Robbie Bell, president of the park, gives him 120 days - four months - to pack up everything and get out.

The move may be a bit difficult to accomplish as some of those rides are pretty hefty. The fair board's action comes as a stab-in-the-back just as Bells had managed to end a long-standing dispute with residential neighbors that had blocked the addition of a large new roller coaster ride.

The Kevin Canfield article in the Tulsa World does not mention the fact that the Bell's announced a few months ago its intentions to eventually move to larger quarters near the Oklahoma Aquarium in Jenks. A news post by KOTV-6 includes a bit more information.

One fair board member is quoted by the World as saying he was "sad" that the board was kicking Bells out, "but ultimately, authority members have to do what's best for Expo Square" and taxpayers. But in the next paragraph he says, "The easiest thing for it to be used for, short term, is parking."

Last year the Bell's paid $135,000 in rent. During its tenure it has paid in about $12.5 million to the fairgrounds operation.

Wonder how much money that parking lot will make?

Good for the taxpayers?

Doesn't compute. More likely it is the Power Elite of Tulsa letting the Bells know - in typical hardball fashion - that the amusement park owners will pay a dear price for independence. You wanna move to Jenks? Then move!

It would be the best thing if they can swing it, albeit prematurely. Staying tied to the fairgrounds operation has only hamstrung their operation and rewarded a group of people who truly do not deserve it.

UPDATE - Joe ask the right questions, Randi doesn't have the answer

Just heard Joe Kelley of KRMG interviewing Tulsa County Commissioner Randi Miller about the Bell's eviction. He asked some good questions, which we'll try to paraphrase accurately, since we were in traffic at the time.

One question was, okay, so maybe Bell's is a bit run-down, no longer in its "hey" day, but you evict it in exchange for "what"? What are the options here?

Her answer: "I don't know. That's for the new fair board to decide."

Then Miller talks about a meeting she attended with the nearby homeowners group, which recently lost a court battle with Bell's trying to prevent the addition of a new roller coaster. She hinted that they suggested a parking lot would be better, and that it was true the fairgrounds has parking issues. (The homeowners don't like the spillover during the annual 10-day state fair).

"We need to do what's best for the taxpayers," she said.

So Joe, bless his heart, asks the $135,000 question.

"How much money can you make off of a parking lot?"

"I don't know," she said.

Well, we do. Since fairgrounds parking has traditionally, and up to this point still is, free, the answer is:


She reiterated the same talking points about the fact that the county bean counters (accountants) didn't like the Bell's business plan.

If paving over Bell's for more free parking is a better business plan than receiving $135,000 or more for renewing the park's lease, then we would suggest the Tulsa County folks get a new bunch of accountants.

Been awhile ... how ya been?

The Oklahomilist is back.

We've been busy writing on another project.

It's not so much of an excuse as just a fact.

Conscience dictates that we try harder.

Must obey conscience, even as those other voices we hear are ignored.

Feels good, already.