Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Kudo's to Bateline.com

Michael Bates has done it again! He has scooped the Tulsa Whirled.

I heard the story on KFAQ this morning about Kathy Taylor and the allegation that she voted in the same 2000 Federal election in 2 different states, Oklahoma and Florida.

While I can understand the apparent oversight of filing for homestead exemption in both states, but voting in two states is another matter completely.

That is voter fraud and a felony. Why didn't the MSM pick up on this, after all, they have tremendous resources....

Proof again of the value of Tulsa Bloggers volunteer citizen journalists seeking the stories untold by the MSM. This humble band of merry men are doing a real service for Tulsans.

What's your input to help Tulsa bloggers become even more effective?

Thursday, February 23, 2006

One Year Anniversary

Today marks the end of my first full year of blogging!

What an full year its been. No shortage of topics around T-Town to blog about, that's for sure. From local politics, public education, illegal immigration, zoo creation exhibit, etc, there has been and I doubt there will continue to be no shortage of controversies.

Thanks for checkin' out my blog. I think that for at least a few, I have raised public awareness on a few critical issues and opened a dialogue to discuss them. Those were my goals.

Last year's goals were met.

Let's all do our part to move Tulsa Oklahoma forward and make it a fantastic place to live and work.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Tulsa's Photogenic Democrat Candidates for Mayor

Has anyone else noticed how non-photogenic our candidates for mayor are? In this blog I will focus on the two leading Democrat candidates.

Here is Don McCorkell:

By the way, it was not easy to find a straight-on frontal picture of Mr. McCorkell. This was the best one I could find. His website has a noticable lack of pictures of him. You can check that out here.

Here are some more photos of Kathy Taylor:

Now here's a picture for posterity, Kathy Taylor and Dan Boren. Why are they smiling?

And this one's from 2004, possibly not her best year;

And all I can say here is nice pearls!

I apologize for my shallowness and sense of humor. This phenomenon is not just with the Democrat candidates, I assure you!

Of these two, regardless of looks, I endorse Don McCorkell. By the way, he just picked up an endorsement from Just Progress, a Democratic PAC for what that's worth.

Here is their opening:

Just Progress, PAC (JP), a Democratic Political Action Committee organized by citizens for political integrity and a just society, endorses Don McCorkell, Jr. for Mayor of the city of Tulsa.

No doubt, McCorkell has a better platform and would make a fair to good mayor, maybe better.

What say you?

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

District 7 Votes for Status Quo

The results from the forgotten Valentine's Day vote for TPS school board district 7 seat was:

Tulsa School Board
Office 7
Francis Skonicki 309
Matthew Livingood 787

Only 1,096 people bothered to vote in District 7, a heavily Republican district.

The status quo has been maintained.

Our local school district will continue its slide, incapable of truly reforming itself.

But the TPS board meetings will be well run.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Still Time to Vote in School District 7 Election

With very little campaigning and practically no money spent, it's no wonder that voter turnout for this Valentine's day election is so low.

I voted today, since I am in TPS school district 7, at 3:45 p.m. I was the 25th person to vote at my precinct.

There is still time to go to the polls, if you live in district 7. The polls close at 7:00 p.m.

With such low turnout, this election could have surprising results. Matt Livingood, a local attorney and current TPS board President is facing Francis Skonicki. Both are Republicans. But I know that Matt Livingood is anti-charter school and will lead the charge and burn up much needed tax dollars to file suit to get the Oklahoma Charter School Act declared unconstitutional. On this basis alone, those of us who want more parental choice and true public education reform should stand up and be counted against him.

The Tulsa World endorsed Matt Livingood.

I endorse Francis Skonicki.

Make a stand. Make a statement. Go out and vote. Your vote could make the difference!

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Who Is Kathy Taylor? Part 2

In this picture Kathy Taylor can be described as showing us some sleight of hand. But in her recent television ad, is she giving us some sleight of tongue?

Kathy touts her involvement in bringing Dell Computer to OKC as evidence of her economic development prowess. Why didn't Kathy bring Dell to T-Town? Now that would have set her up for a real run for mayor. And there is no doubt that the Board of Directors for her husbands rental car company made the decision to relocate to Tulsa, not Kathy Taylor. Anyone in business would know that.

As a citizen of Tulsa, I fail to see the benefit for Taylor's part in bringing Dell to OKC. The inference is that she will do the same for Tulsa as our mayor. To me this clearly indicates that her decision to run for mayor of Tulsa was hasty and made at the last minute. Otherwise, in her position as Secretary of Commerce, she would have made sure she had done something of economic development substance for Tulsa before she ran.

Also in her new TV ad, she says her grandmother instilled "respect and dignity" in her toward other people. Thank God for grandmothers! Does this extend toward all other people? Perhaps not.

Kathy Taylor late last year celebrated a significant birthday milestone. This was a private party, but one like Tulsa has not seen in many years. Only the very rich can afford to fly in the Beach Boys to perform for you. An informed source relayed that it was a "who's who" of Tulsa and Oklahoma politics. It happened at Taylor's primary estate in Tulsa (where are her secondary homes?). The same source confirmed that she was condescending and inconsiderate, especially toward the staff helping to put on the bash. Needless to say, they were not impressed. And this all happened before Kathy Taylor announced her candidacy for mayor. And on her birthday, no less.

Is this what she is really like?

Not everyone believes that the values of respect and dignity were instilled in Kathy Taylor to the extent they apply to all people.

Good people of Tulsa, talk is cheap! Politics is about power. Some people will tell you anything as a means to an end. Kathy Taylor's end is to be elected as your mayor. Look at what a person does.

Keep campaign advertising in perspective. Ads try to carefully craft an image and message that will connect with the public. That may or may not be what a person is really like.

Will you have the discernment to spot a hypocrite?

Thursday, February 09, 2006

TPS Board President Inconsistencies

The current Tulsa Public School Board President, Matt Livingood, is up for re-election in District 7. At the outset, I want to say that he is a very able and capable Board member and has done an excellent job as Board President.

He has been in the public eye more than normal lately, since he is running in an election. Recently, he has made a series of statements that are inconsistent, that I have picked up on and am compelled to pass on to you. As reported by the Tulsa World, Mr. Livingood is an attorney and an adjunct professor at TCC. Having worked for attorneys for a number of years, I can relate that to them the question is not about what's right or wrong, but instead its is it the law or is it against the law?

The first inconsistency was made during his diatribe at the last Board meeting. He had nothing but great things to say about Tulsa's 3 existing charter schools, but he has problems with approving others, due to his belief that the Oklahoma Charter School Act is unconstitutional. First of all, this is not the way a lawyer thinks. If Matt Livingood truly believes that the Act is unconstitutional, how could he possibly support the existing charter schools extensions? Wouldn't they be unconstitutional as well? Of course. But he chose a politically expedient way out, kowtowing to the charter school patrons assembled in front of him.

The second inconsistency relates to what he said his primary responsiblity as a Board member was as he said, "is to approve the expenditure of public funds to provide students with a quality education". He said this during a discussion at St. Dunstan's Episcopal Church this week. Here is the inconsistency; At the recommendation of Dr. Sawyer, he will be the one to initiate a lawsuit against the OSDE and the State of Oklahoma, challenging the constitutionality of the Charter School Act. That will involve the expenditure of thousands of dollars of public funds that are to be used to provide students in the TPS district with a quality education. More legal fees means less money for quality education.

We do agree that the state legislature needs to amend the Act to remove any legal barrier. The Charter School Act needs to be expanded and charter schools available statewide. They need additional sponsor choices. They need their own appropriation of funds, administered by the State Department of Education. Would Mr. Livingood like to join me lobbying the legislators to do this?

I did it by myself last year and only got a scowl from the TPS lobbyist. It will go nowhere in Oklahoma with a Democrat controlled House of Representatives and Democrat Governor. For now the dark forces have the upper hand.

The charter school reform effort in T-town is in neutral. There are now no sponsors for charter schools here.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Charter School Act Assailed by TPS Board

A Tulsa Public School Board meeting was held last evening at 7:00 p.m. in the education service center at 31st and New Haven. At the outset, it was a packed, standing room only meeting. Anxious parents clutched their children as the meeting began with the opening flag ceremony, then quickly progressed to a series of songs from Kerr Elementary 4 year olds. This was to highlight the early childhood education initiative by TPS. When this was finished about a fourth of the crowd dispersed. Next was an extensive presentation by the Booker T. Washington and Memorial H.S. Bot Ball and robotics programs. Selected board members stood and moved to gain a better vantage point to observe the mock competition. Afterward, more people trickled out.
Next came a group of articulate concerned citizens who stood at the podium speaking directly to the board. The first gentleman spoke about the need for a "change agent" as the main criteria for the selection of the next Superintendent of TPS (Dr. Sawyer is retiring in June). He was followed by three who spoke generally about the continued deplorable conditions and substandard results from the north side public schools. The last of the group noted how nothing has changed in the past 30 years. Some board members never made eye contact, heads down, either listening intently to what was being said, or lost in their own thoughts.
This last picture was taken after the vote was taken on the agenda action item F-4. About two-thirds of the people in attendance came to hear about this action item concerning charter schools. After the vote the room cleared out.

The resolution in question would have shortened the contract extension period from 3 years to 1 year for both Deborah Brown Community School and Dove Science Academy. It would limit the contract to one year for two new charter school applicants. And it would place a self-imposed moratorium for any other charter schools.

Doug Mann, attorney for TPS spoke at length on the matter. It was a highly technical speech and hard to follow. He believes the Oklahoma Charter School Act, passed by our legislature in 1999 is unconstitutional, because it is a special law affecting public education. He is worried that an unrelated case involving the City of Enid and unions could have a bearing on the charter school law.

Mr. Mann was followed by a host of pro-charter school speakers, representing all three of Tulsa's charter schools, Deborah Brown Community School, Dove Science Academy, and Tulsa School of Arts and Sciences. Some used the time to eulogize their school, some to rail against the board for such late notice on an important topic (They were notified late afternoon on Friday. Two of the schools have been in contract renewal negotiations for months). One particularly memorable speaker was Judge Merle Whitebook, board president for Tulsa School of Arts and Sciences. He passionately requested the board of TPS to think of the children and parents who will be affected, and the choice charter schools provide the TPS district, the "district of choice". He urged the board to table the resolution.

After exhausting questions and comments, an amended resolution was unanimously passed. It allowed for a three year extension for the 2 renewing charters with an opt-out clause in case the Act was declared unconstitutional. It also allowed for one-year contracts for the new charter applicants, and provided a moratorium beginning in February 2007 on any new charter school applications, until the constitutionality question is resolved.

What seemed to be lost in the rhetoric and grandstanding was this; the Oklahoma Charter School Act of 1999 is not unconstitutional. It is and has been the law in Oklahoma since 1999. 13 charter schools have been opened and currently operate under it in 2 school districts, Tulsa and OKC. To be unconstitutional, it would have to be challenged and held so by a court.

It would not be held as unconstitutional if the City of Enid case was held to be so. For that to happen, someone, namely TPS or the Oklahoma City school distict would have to take the State of Oklahoma and the Oklahoma Department of Education to court. But in my research, OKC has never advanced the charter school act to be unconstitutional. But TPS has.

The did so back in 2002 during a dispute with Pentagon Academy, a failed charter school applicant. You can read all about the dispute here. Pay particular attention to paragraph 15. In essence, the Oklahoma Supreme Court did not rule on the TPS allegation of the unconstitutionality of the Oklahoma Charter School Act, because it already found for TPS on statutory grounds related to binding arbitration. They could have ruled on it, but passed. Or more likely didn't rule on it because they didn't have to.

TPS acts as if the Act is unconstitutional. As a result Tulsa has been stuck on three charter schools since 2001. All three have proven to be exemplary schools. OKC on the other hand acts as if the Act is constitutional. As a result they have ten charter schools.

Which district is better served by its actions?

Sunday, February 05, 2006

A Face That Would Sink A Thousand Ships

With smoke curling around him, this Lebanese Islamist stands outside a burning Danish embassy in Beirut. His hair is as frazzled as his mind. His soiled headband masks his bitter attitude. Dark, sunken eyes are windows into a soul filled with hate. We can only imagine what horror he speaks with those lips.

This is a face that would sink a thousand ships. (If given half a chance)

All of this over some cartoons. Cartoons, he thinks that attack everything he is about. Americans are baffled by this behavior.

We have absolutely no part with people like this. They are as foreign to us as people from outer space. Oil and water don't mix. We don't understand them, and even if we did would not like to be around them. We certainly don't have any business supporting them.