Campaign Notebook 3.06

By David Arnett, Publisher    
Monday, 06 March 2006
Early this campaign cycle Tulsa Today was the first to call it the “political silly season,” but even internally (in bad jokes around the keg-erator) no one thought it would become this insane. Granted, the more bizarre events make easy, quick news for reporters, but this level of mud-slinging is not healthy for daffodils, children, or the general spirit of our community. Here is the analysis.

Traditionally there are three forms of rapid communications: telephone, television, and tell-a-political-operative-in-an-election-cycle. Political rumors are frequent throughout history in this and every other constituency, but they usually don’t make publication. The Tulsa World changed all that with their Sunday February 26th lead story “MAYORAL MUDFIGHT.”

The sub-title proclaimed, “Whisper campaigns abound” and then they proceed in detail to explore every personal insult, disputed fact, and aged cow chip they could find. Here is a clue for the daily “news” paper – anonymous complaints are not news. It could make a person wonder if the daily is not envious of the loony local radio shock jock (see DelGiorno Delusions, Part I and Part II) and assorted merry bands of aluminum foil hat followers.

Speaking of fringe flakes both in media and politics, here is a clue for them: business, civic, educational, and/or religious affiliations do NOT in and of themselves constitute a conspiracy. Tulsa government is not corrupt at any level as our people are by nature honest good-hearted independent thinkers with Okie attitudes and any crime or malfeasance would be dragged out of the closet in short order. A hot secret can’t be kept in this large small town.

Further, just because certain complainers are so far removed from the corridors of power that they don’t even know the real participants also does not constitute evil. Even some minor elected party officials are so far out of communication with real leaders that they don’t have a clue, but it is entertaining as both Democrat and Republican Parties within Tulsa County are significantly fractured.

For mayor on the Democrat side, Candidate Kathy Taylor represents the wealthy liberal elite and Don McCorkell represents the working Democrat – populist and generally conservative. It will be very interesting to see who wins the Democrat primary.

While I do not know Don McCorkell personally, in 1986 as a journalism student at Tulsa Community College (then Tulsa Junior College), he helped me and all students in Oklahoma. The administration was trying to stop a student newspaper and while I won two national awards as a First Amendment Publisher as a result of that battle, McCorkell authored a “Resolution of Intent” then passed by the Oklahoma Legislature that made our victory possible. There was no profit or political motive as we were just students, but he took his time to fight for us and I will never forget that effort or his help.

On the Republican primary ticket, a three-way race features strong candidates Mayor Bill LaFortune and County Commissioner Randi Miller with City Councilor Chris Medlock running an embittered third.

Tulsa Today has published an interview with Mayor LaFortune and City Councilor Chris Medlock and we have an interview with County Commissioner Randi Miller, but the Miller interview will not make it to publication before the primary. Funny, but of the three, Miller is the most down-to-earth, unpretentious, openly honest and approachable candidate of the bunch and I will probably vote for her attitude and experience.

So, the cynic would ask, why has Tulsa Today not run continual stories, heroic cartoons, and pompous endorsements of Randi Miller if the publisher supports her – because we are not the daily newspaper. We are an independent diverse local news service comprised primarily of free-lance writers. Tulsa Today takes sides on issues of public policy, but individual races are best decided by voters. (We hope you have talked to the candidates and make up your own mind.) Besides, no matter who wins from whatever party Tulsa Today will work with all for the best interest of our community and oppose anyone as we believe necessary.

There was so much breaking news leading up to the primary that our staff was overwhelmed. Dang the luck, but just imagine if Mayoral Candidate Kathy Taylor is elected Mayor and then indicted by the Federal Government for voter fraud – for a news organization, that could be so much fun – embarrassing, but fun.

I also like Mayor Bill LaFortune. What is there not to like? LaFortune is one of the gentlest, most patient people I have ever met and he listens to everyone. That may be the problem, it is dang tough to be all things to all people and some should be told off to their face, but LaFortune avoids confrontation – it’s just not a part of his nature and advice must be prioritized properly and implemented effectively, which he has not done well yet as Mayor.

Candidate Medlock, God love him, with some of his supporters is infected with the “touch not the anointed” syndrome. You can not tell the man his hair is parted wrong without him going ballistic. Tulsa Today has published many articles defending Medlock, opposing his recall, and supporting some of his positions, but because we have also criticized him and refuse to goose-step to his glory – the man has been rude and personally offensive (example: Medlock.wav).

The good news in this local election cycle is the quality candidates running for various district offices. District One incumbent Jack Henderson should be reelected over-whelming. While he has been hanging around conspiracy theorists a bit too much, he is a good guy.

Another outstanding voice for the people of Tulsa is Rick Westcott running in District Two. He attended Oral Roberts University and is a successful attorney of integrity. If he feels it is right, Westcott will take difficult positions based upon principle and that has earned him broad respect.

In District Three, Roscoe Turner should be returned to office.  Turner is not the brightest brick on the load, but he always tries to do the right thing for his District. His opponent David Patrick is an empty suit.

District Four has several candidates that would do a good job and at least two of them are friends of mine. However, Rick Brinkley has earned my vote because of his service leading the Better Business Bureau, his general knowledge of business and government, and his core conservative values.

District Five City Councilor Bill Martinson has been much better in office than I suspected he would prove to be prior to his first election. He has been a voice of reason in most regards and should be returned to office.

District Six, no comment beyond general disappointment.

My favorite candidate with the best sense of humor is John M. Eagleton, running for District Seven.  As I explained to my parents, this is not Norma Eagleton’s son, but a conservative, Christian, attorney who cooks great barbeque. He has been active in Republican Party activities and is known as a “peacemaker” maintaining friendships with some within the party that would like to punch each other out. A good diplomat, active intellect, and principled human – Eagleton would make his district proud of their representative for a change.

In District Eight, William Christiansen and I have disagreed more often than not and some of those disagreements have been heated. Nevertheless, I respect him and unless his critics prove their case – he is the best man for the position.

District Nine is going to miss Councilor Susan Neal and Tulsa will miss her voice on the Council. Not a strong voice always, but a civil one retiring from public office apparently worn out by the bitterness the Council has endured the last two years. To replace her, word on the street seems to support Cason Carter. A young man many do not know, but those who do recommend highly. He does look you in the eye when you are talking and that direct attitude has come across in his campaign.

Some Tulsa Today readers and writers engaged here hate politics. I can’t blame them, but I have been up to my goatee in it for as long as I can remember and there are times politics stinks. This is one of those times, but the entertainment value is high. On the campaign trail, our reporters and I have seen enraged outbursts, temper tantrums, egomaniacal pompous pontificating, and a little pushing and shoving. What the heck, it beats armed insurrection any day of the week.

Tuesday, Tulsans will decide the primary contest for mayor and city council and it is very important all of us vote. It is the foundation of American Democracy and your responsibility in exchange for the freedom our forefathers and our sons today fight and die to preserve.

For those reading from afar, don’t put too much into all this as showing any trend to Republican or Democrat as all politics are local and this election in Tulsa is a native ritual we can not fully explain – it is the subtleties here that you could easily misunderstand – that goes double for the “State Newspaper” without a Tulsa office.

As for this campaign notebook, I will be delighted when both the primary and general elections are done. That public announcement made, I feel much better as a 12-step recovering political hack. I truly would rather be fishing, brewing beer, playing music, or almost anything else than engaged covering this carnival of clowns – some of the ones we did not and will not mention are by all apparent standards certifiable.

When all votes are tabulated and local races over, Tulsans have truly important things to do that require our careful attention and cooperation regardless of race, religion, or political affiliations – build a better Tulsa.

Randi Miller
Mayoral Candidate Randi Miller

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 07 March 2006 )