Nobody on the Tulsa City Council defended W. Tate Brady.
"It's definitely evident that Tate Brady wasn't a very nice guy," Councilor David Patrick said. He spoke nearly four hours into a marathon public hearing Aug. 8 on whether or not Brady Street should be renamed Burlington Street.
Yet Patrick stated he would vote against a name change. Over 150 packed the room at the hearing's start -- most in favor of renaming the street, based on reaction to the remarks of more than 40 public speakers -- but the crowd had dwindled considerably by 10pm, around the time Patrick explained "my district is not in support of this name change, and I am the representative of this district."
An apparent deadlock vote led the council to table the issue until Thursday, when all nine council members are expected to be in attendance. Phil Lakin was absent from the Aug. 8 meeting.
Patrick, the council's chair, spoke first after often impassioned pleas from citizens. Racial injustice very much factored into the arguments of many of the speakers, with the context being Brady's unknown role in the 1921 race riot.
A contemporary account describes him merely as being a guard on N. Main Street, albeit one with first-hand knowledge of black Tulsans killed during the violence. But records show he was a member of a group that, after the riot, tried to keep black Tulsans from rebuilding.
"I read who he was, and I was immediately offended," Councilor Skip Steele said in explaining why he would vote for a change. While he said he, like Patrick, had people speak to him in favor of keeping the name, Steele said he asked them to read about Brady and call him back if they still opposed a change. No one did, he said.
Councilor Arianna Moore referred to Brady as "some asshole," but said she would not let such a figure from the past taint her view, explaining why she was voting to keep the name.
It's a remarkably steep fall in esteem for a city founder and civic booster, a fall precipitated mostly by a 2011 article in This Land emphasizing historical records that depict Brady as being cruelly violent towards some union workers and likely having close ties to the Ku Klux Klan. Brady himself admitted to being a Klan member, according to court transcripts from the era.
Councilor G.T. Bynum noted that he grew up knowing of Tate Brady as a civic booster who promoted Tulsa during his travels. However, the historical research done by Lee Roy Chapman "completely changed, at least for me and I think for a lot of people, the way that we looked at Mr. Brady," Bynum said, adding, "Mr. Brady as we know him is not the Mr. Brady that people knew of him in the 1980s and the 1990s and before then."
AT THE GATHERING PLACE
C O U R T E S Y O F G E O R G E K A I S E R F A M I LY F O U N D A T I O NC O U R T E S Y O F G E O R G E K A I S E R F A M I L Y F O U N D A T I O O N NC C O O U U R R T T E E S S Y Y O O F F G G E E O O R R G G E E K K A A I I S S E E R R F F A A M M I I L LY Y F F O O U U N N D D A A T T I I O O N NC C O O U U R R T T E E S S Y Y O O F F G G E E O O R R G G E E K K A A I I S S E E R R F F A A M M I I L LY Y F F O O U U N N D D A A T T I O N
He favored a name change, along with Councilor Blake Ewing, who represents downtown, and Councilor Jack Henderson, the council's lone African-American member who put the item on the agenda.
Among public speakers, one man read a passage from a memoir by an African-American woman who survived the race riot, Mabel B. Little. She wrote that Brady tried to help train black porters to someday become business owners.
This perspective seems to no longer be the Brady legacy, however. The debate on changing the name rages on, and the first half-hour or so had more speakers in favor of keeping the name than those opposed. Business and property owners within the Brady Arts District spoke about their commitment to diversity and how changing a name could be viewed as a step towards erasing the history of the Tulsa race riot.
Councilor Karen Gilbert, in explaining why she supported keeping the name, said, "We can't forget our past. We can't forget the history." Councilor Jeannie Cue also joined in opposing the change.
Patrick made it clear that as many people as there were in the room, it wasn't the only opportunity he'd had to hear many opinions on the topic.
"I've never seen an overwhelming amount of contact on any issue -- that I've ever been on the council for, this has been the most," he said.
Chipping in more than change.
Longtime Tulsa company Williams on Aug. 12 formally announced plans to contribute up to $16 million for construction of the new park known as A Gathering Place for Tulsa.
Development of the roughly $200 million project -- for phase one, anyway -- has been overseen by the George Kaiser Family Foundation. The plan is to transform approximately 50 acres of land mostly east of Riverside Drive into a landscape architect's dream, with features that sound like amusement park rides: Adventure Playground, The Lodge, Mist Mountain and Sky Garden.
Williams, an oil and gas pipeline company, likely will get naming rights for The Lodge -- a building with plenty of features like a "glassed-in Solarium" and, yes, a large fireplace -- as well as one other feature to be named later.
The plan is for the company to donate $4.8 million over three years beginning in June of next year. After that, if certain unnamed milestones are met, $11.2 million would be donated over the next seven years.
It's a benevolent gesture, to be sure. Alan Armstrong, president and CEO of Williams, in a statement also talked about the benefits the park will bring.
"We are committing funds to the Gathering Place because it is a smart investment for Tulsa," Armstrong's statement read. "For companies like Williams to grow and prosper, we need the very best talent. To attract the talent, we need a high quality of life."
The Kaiser foundation has committed to providing $125 million in funding for the park.
When it comes to apartments, the voices from those in southwest Tulsa have been loudly opposed to new projects. Residents have said apartments would take away from the semi-rural character of their neighborhood, unduly burden their narrow roadways and lead to crime concerns.
They made a strong show of force in November, with more than 50 people attending a neighborhood meeting to express opposition to a planned 595-unit apartment complex that still might be built between S. Union Avenue and U.S. 75, a bit north of W. 71st Street.
The Tulsa City Council tabled the apartment proposal pending completion of a small-area plan for the West Highlands/Tulsa Hills neighborhood.
About a dozen residents attended the latest in a series of meetings for that plan held Aug. 12. The group didn't agree whether it was appropriate to try to keep all future apartment complexes out of their approximately six-square mile area.
But they agreed that low-intensity projects better serve their neighborhood.
"If there is new multi-family [housing], the preference is for smaller-scale ... that's unquestionable," city planner Steve Sherman said, querying the group for feedback, with no one speaking in opposition to the idea.
"Don't build these giant complexes," said Kaye Price, a neighborhood advocate.
More work on the plan is scheduled before it is submitted for approval.
Not a long-distance call.
When This Land Press published an article in April 2012 alleging that a Tulsa police captain was involved in questionable sexual conduct, it was based in part on X-rated images and videos obtained by the man's former girlfriend from his laptop computer.
Shawn King, since demoted by the department, has a defamation lawsuit pending against the publication. A document filed Aug. 6 in the case also details how he in January filed a police report asking for an investigation of his ex-girlfriend, Keena Roberts, who provided the racy materials to This Land Press.
Roberts also made statements to This Land Press that she saw sexually-oriented images of possibly underage girls on King's laptop, with this information also included in the article.
She is another defendant in the civil suit that also alleges invasion of privacy, which has King as the plaintiff.
"The report alleges that Roberts illegally accessed Plaintiff's personal computer and used information from it to blackmail the Plaintiff," a police affidavit filed in the civil case states. "Plaintiff also accused Roberts of certain computer crimes."
The affidavit comes as part of a request to delay discovery until the Tulsa County District Attorney's office reviews the police report. The couple were at one time living in the same home. King's lawsuit states that Roberts broke into "a locked closet" in his "personal bathroom," and that she "utilized and/or employed at least one computer forensics expert" to get around a computer password.
In the This Land article, it states that Roberts found the laptop locked in King's closet.
The blackmail allegation was apparently described in King's civil suit, having to do with what King claims were demands from Roberts related to real estate deals he had entered into with Roberts' father.
The Tulsa County District Attorney's Office received the report in mid-June, and it's unclear what, if any action will result from the investigation.
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