Gloves off local politics

Both Oklahoma Legislative Caucuses have discussed editorial analysis published on Tulsa Today, but they misread the current dispute between Republicans in Tulsa County.  There is not just one split between fiscal and social Conservatives.  There are a myriad of factions with one common cause and this writer engaged in that debate on the future of the Republic.

The Tulsa County Republican Party may elect a Vice Chairman at a special meeting Saturday, July 16, 2011 at 9:30 AM at the Hardesty Library located at 8316 East 93rd Street, Tulsa, OK 74133.

The position is open as a result of the resignation of Molly McKay shortly after her election at the recent Tulsa County Republican Convention.  Her departure was unfortunate as she represented hope for some County unity.  The current Chairman is J.B. Alexander, who served as Vice Chairman during the last term under Sally Bell as Chairman.

A nominee was selected from three candidates who offered their service.  If the County Committee does not approve the nominee, the Executive Committee will meet again to select another.

I was one of those three candidates who spoke to the Executive Committee which is comprised of Tulsa County residents offered a committee seat by the Chairman and Vice Chairman.  I defined the job to the Committee in a June 23 political biography as an “unpaid, two year, time-intensive demanding position that virtually guarantees continual dispute.”  That was an admitted understatement.  My nomination offered a chance to pull divergent factions together – as most locally know, Alexander and Arnett are not fond of each other.

When Bell and Alexander first campaigned for leadership of the County Party, I opposed their election because they repeatedly asserted that everyone active in the Party before them was corrupt thus defining their objective as returning ideological purity to the Party.  That was a delusion which offended those who have worked for years under the same Platform that, at the County level, is one of the most Conservative in America.

Bell has often been identified as a leader of the local chapter of the John Birch Society.  The Bell family is best known as the owner/operator of the closed Bell’s Amusement Park – the beneficiary of a multigenerational insider contract with government in which the Bell’s paid less to the public at the end than they paid in the beginning.  When the park fell into disrepair, the family blamed elected Republicans for “unfair treatment.”

Bell and Alexander are angry with what they term as the “establishment.”  So are most Republicans when considering the U.S. Congress in total, but Oklahoma has for decades and is now providing Conservative leadership well studied and of growing effectiveness.  See the entire Oklahoma Republican Delegation and Sen. Jim Inhofe and Sen. Tom Coburn for more detail.

After a thirty-year career as a publisher, writer, and communications consultant, I am much more the “lighting rod” than any type of establishment, but I object to demonization without evidence of malfeasance.  Any idiot can make allegations (on local talk radio for example) and/or get quoted by the media.  In fact, Republicans in Tulsa County (elected or not) agree on the majority of fiscal and social objectives of the Republican Party.

I served on the Tulsa Human Relations Commission as a “youth” in the 60s.  I worked for the Metro Chamber in the 70s – long enough to later become their most feared critic.  I led the opposition to tax increases “Tulsa Project” and “Tulsa Time” with marginal Party support.  I struggled with Vision 2025, but because of the open project selection process and inclusion of higher education funding for Tulsa (the largest city in the nation without a four-year, free-standing state university), I supported the final package.

After the vote, I worked for 7 years as the Public Information Manager for the private company that managed the Vision 2025 program for Tulsa County.  For them, I produced print, broadcast, film products and visibility efforts.  Some may disagree with the voter approved projects, but it is the most transparent and properly done bricks-n-mortar infrastructure program in the history of Tulsa County.  It is accurate to call me an infrastructure and defense supportive Constitutional Conservative.

Bell and Alexander were active during the last presidential election cycle in an effort to take over the Oklahoma State Republican Party Convention for presidential candidate Ron Paul.  When that effort failed, many of those activists got mad and did not contribute to further the national campaign of McCain/Palin.  That may prove problematic in primary efforts for Paul now running again.  However, all 77 counties in Oklahoma voted in majority for the national ticket so the disruptive behavior and lack of Party loyalty was inconsequential.

During the Bell/Alexander term, Tulsa County Republican Party finances have been a disaster.  At the time this regime seized power, the bank account showed $17,000 and two years later at the election of Alexander, the balance was reported at $1,000 only because elected officials and others have been paying the Party’s rent.

Fewer fund raising events have been held and individual donations virtually disappeared.  Attendance at the County Convention was lower and thus the Tulsa County Republican Party apparatus has demonstrated “massive incompetence and a complete failure of leadership” as I wrote March 28 (click here to read, “Republican Convention questions remain.”).

In that analysis, I further wrote, “Procedures used during the convention brutally silenced dissenting opinion and overwhelmed all opposition.”  Some criticized the general wording of that statement so let me be more specific, J.B. Alexander cursed me to my face within seconds of learning I had filed to challenge him for the Chairmanship.  He later apologized and I’ve heard all those words in junior high, but his reaction is telling.  State Representative Mike Ritz who chaired the convention refused my request on his “honor” to stop featuring Alexander on the podium repeatedly at every appearance with praise and adulation.  That was only one reason people shouted “railroad” from the convention floor.

Republican precinct chairman, Lonny Davis later resigned his position by notice in the daily paper.  His disgust at the County Convention is shared by many, but I urged them all to remain active at the state level in a May 4 analysis you may read (click here for, Republican convention considerations).

Some grace should be provided to those new to the battles who believe anyone already on the field must be appeasers to Socialists, but you would think Alexander would know better.  Not so much it appears as then-Vice Chair Alexander once went on local radio and slammed the State Republican Chairman now State Auditor and Inspector, Gary Jones.

There are five functions to local Party leadership; administrative, fund-raising, candidate recruitment, constituency expansion and communications.  As Alexander now blames Bell for all Tulsa County Republican failures, this term is his and he will be judged according to his results and challenged if found lacking.  It will be more difficult for him because of his own track record to date, but hope springs eternal.

The State Republican Party led by Matt Pinnell, on the other hand is growing like a house afire in raising money, organizing events and recruiting quality candidates for public office statewide.  Tulsa County donors are supporting the statewide effort and individual candidates they admire.  In point of fact, people give of time and money when they are engaged and respected for their talents and contributions.

The splinters of the Tulsa County Republican Party rule the apparatus at the moment, but individual political activity is voluntary.  The John Birch Society, the Libertarians, and the angry radicals are in charge, but if they were any good at political organizing over decades active in Oklahoma then their splinters would not be so small.   They may or may not learn skills required for success, but many Republicans have moved on and thus the Tulsa County Republican Party organization, as it stands now, is irrelevant until it can prove competence.

Some Tea Party organizers are also participating on the Executive Committee of the County Party, but I hope they do so with their eyes open.  Some made the mistake of jumping to support the failed candidacy of Randy Brogdon who was term limited out of the Oklahoma Legislature then ran for governor and now works for the Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner.  Brogdon is another angry voice who made a career as a contrarian continually criticizing “establishment” officials and the irony that he is one has not been lost on an observant electorate.

Other Tea Party groups are building their own constituencies and ignoring party politics.  I will help them.  I will personally support the State Republican Party, but more importantly, I am increasingly engaged in public outreach.  Under the Tulsa Today banner, I will speak with civic, church and social organizations.  I will meet and talk with you one-on-one or in group.  To schedule an event email

This Wednesday July 13, I will be available at The Sushi Place, 115 West 3rd Street, Tulsa between 5 pm and 7 pm for patriotic public discussion.  Come by and let’s talk regardless if you agree or disagree with this or any other analysis published on Tulsa Today.  This is your city, state and nation and if you have any question on the City Council, Mayor, State Legislature, local media, the Chamber of Commerce or whatever I will answer your questions or research and get back with you if I don’t know the answer.  Each event will feature a significant historical or public policy book, this week I will review The Road to Serfdom by F. A. Hayek.

As Hayek wrote, “We have progressively abandoned that freedom in economic affairs without which personal and political freedom has never existed in the past.  Although we had been warned by some of the greatest political thinkers of the nineteenth century, by Tocqueville and Lord Acton, that socialism means slavery, we have steadily moved in the direction of socialism.”

America now has a Socialist, Marxist, Anti-American if not an ideologically and economically insane President, but we also have the First Amendment and together we can fix this country.  You can help with friends and family.  Hold a neighborhood coffee and talk about the issues of the day or a book of interest.  If you would like a speaker, I will join you as time allows.  Organize a bake sale to raise money in support of elected officials honoring their oath to the Constitution.  File for office.  Attend the many Republican Clubs meeting regularly and affiliated with, but not controlled by the County Party. You don’t need a organization.  Arise individually for freedom.

Come talk Wednesday.  This downtown setting is especially welcoming for reporters from KOTV, the Tulsa World and other downtown based businesses.  The Sushi Place is a small new owner operated local restaurant, but it serves the best sushi in Tulsa.  Future events will be held throughout the metropolitan area.

For political operatives of both parties, understand the people are coming to regain the county.  We demand the Rule of Law be applied equally regardless of station.  We reject corruption and abuse of authority.  We insist the Constitution be followed as it limits government.  We are coming with time and money to spend both within and outside our individual districts to correct the county.

We don’t have to agree on everything to be co-combatants in the greatest battle of our generation – to save freedom for our children – our singular Conservative common cause.  To win, we must arise from the couch, pick up the phone, type the email, post on Facebook, walk out the door to meet and rally and, above all, move out of our individual comfort zones to reach others seeking answers or even unaware wherever they may be found.

There is a choice between those who would plan and control our lives for whatever their values or those who demand to live free as the Constitution of the United States of America guarantees.  Planners or people, you pick.  You don’t need a party or a nonprofit or a community organizer or me – you are free to be brave.  Let’s talk Tulsa.