Analysis: It may surprise worldwide readers to know that even in the most Conservative of the States, the City of Tulsa is controlled by pubic unions – police, firefighters and public employees. In the current election cycle another contractor harvesting millions of local tax dollars over decades, the Metropolitan Tulsa Chamber of Commerce is running candidates for Council in a bid to control the City. An additional “Chamber-Like” organization has placed on the ballot significant structural changes that, if passed, would evolve the Council into a politburo (adding three “super” councilors) instituting “non-partisan” elections and other changes to reduce Council influence in public debate.
So here we go, it’s time to consider. The City Council primary is September 13 and over thirty candidates are competing to serve various districts. This writer has managed campaigns in the past and often served as a communications consultant. That said, I have declined any campaign role for any city race so with professional detachment intact, here are some observations for your consideration.
Functionally, Tulsa utilizes a Strong Mayor form of government with the City Council primarily responsible for budget approval. Councilors have objected to this limited role and have pushed for more authority since this form of government was approved by voters – both parties, multiple councilors, over many years. Independent observers suggest, however, it is not the form of government, but the personalities of those elected and the slant of local media that has generated almost continual dispute even while local government continues to grow and spend more. This year’s city budget is the largest in history – as proposed by a Republican mayor and approved by a diverse Council.
Sadly, the local daily paper exaggerates conflict and it is fully socialist. For example: they used the celebration of the birth of Christ to urge rejection of free enterprise (odd given their dependence on advertising), their financial involvement with editorial promotion of a crony capitalist airline (Great Plains), the toadying to established political power(s) and frequent hateful treatment of all things traditional (from religion to lifestyles). Add the media tendency to pine for a bigger market and the bitterness of those who would rather be writing for the New York Times than “stuck” in fly-over country with the lazy dependence of all media on government sources for news and it is no wonder journalism is held in the lowest if any regard. Some claim print papers are this generation’s buggy-whip manufacturer destined for dust, but they are still the least expensive way to get print advertising flyers delivered.
In the current election cycle, the daily paper has researched candidates and published, apparently, every brush with the law. There is good news and bad with that effort. While it is good to identify convicted felons, arrest records are unsubstantiated allegations awaiting determination of fact. Further, divorce proceedings are tremendous personal traumas not likely relevant to service on the City Council and finally, expunged records are a “slate wiped clean” thus should not be resurrected even by vicious enemies. Here is a thought, maybe Tulsa Today should commission a writer who will fully research and document all brushes with the law by the staff of the daily newspaper – as they demand lifelong perfection, maybe they should stand by the same standard. Their masthead quotes the Bible, "publish and conceal not." Oh wait, that’s establishment media – can’t touch their twisted personal lives don’t ya know.
In my considered opinion, there is a Fourth Amendment Right to privacy even for public candidates, but that is another story.
Setting aside personal persecutions, consider the editorial cartoon to the right. This “humor” promotes class warfare. A family is shown battling to keep from going over a waterfall, but what fall? Why is the river moving so fast? Now if the cartoon showed the river as government spending hurling citizens over a financial abyss, it would be coherent, current and correct. However, the smoky rich businessman sitting on cash is a visual lie from the Socialist Democrat handbook of current talking points. The publisher, Robert E. Lorton III is responsible – it’s his job to be responsible just like I am responsible for what is published on Tulsa Today. Are you ready to laugh really hard? Lorton asserts he is a Republican.
Poorly produced public journalism that seeks to destroy the foundation of the nation begs objection. I object to the Tulsa World because I know from experience over many years, the prevailing ideology of their news and editorial staff agrees with socialism – they hate American history, free enterprise and most religion. Blame Lorton. Claims that he only directs the business side of his business, but not the product is foolishness and a greedy coward’s cover for communists.
Television news doesn’t help much as, on the local level, controversy is shunned to avoid potentially alienating advertisers. Station managers are also often new to the area and find Chamber of Commerce committees stimulating in support of their self-image of power in setting public agendas – standing as peers to big money because they mold the minds of the masses (never mind that they don’t own the station and are only temporary).
There are no real local radio talk stations on air in Tulsa. Exempting sports talk, KRMG does morning news and KFAQ does some morning talk, but that’s it. Digging deep they don’t do thus it is up to you.
There are several candidate debates throughout the city upcoming. Call your district city councilor’s office or both political parties for dates and times. Tulsa Today will cover some debates and offer interviews with some candidates, but call the candidates directly yourself – they should welcome your calls. Ask them questions and search their websites. Visit with them at every opportunity. Judge their character as well as their words – do you know anyone who has worked with them or knows them to at least a moderate degree? Do they make eye contact? Are they condescending or sickening sweet? Do they “shoot straight” in debate or doge the question? How informed are they on issues such as zoning, streets, public safety, etc. What is their position on public unions? What is their position on city contractor (Chamber of Commerce) involvement in council political races? Do they have the time and temperament for tackling a job that only pays a fraction of what they will spend to win?
President Obama has often said, “only government can solve this crisis,” but he has proven – again and in historical proportion – that government is the crisis and it starts local – in Tulsa for us. This election, do a little of your own investigation. Learn why to vote or not for whomever you select. Help them as you can with money and volunteer time. Don’t depend on media. Study for your city in this responsibility to “show yourself approved” on the issues.
Oh and for those that live in the suburbs often writing letters to the editor criticizing the governance of the City of Tulsa … if you don’t pay taxes here or at least contribute to good candidates; then just shut up about what is not your business. This is our city. Our responsibility. Our business. We got this.