Searching the Ranks
(In response to "War of the Words" in the February 3-9 issue of the Urban Tulsa Weekly)
"Simonson believes that's a step that's long overdue, noting the yeoman's work done by Martha Schultz and Theron Warlick, the two city planners who oversaw the process by which the comprehensive plan was updated. He said their work was lauded by the people who performed the recent KPMG audit of city services."
This is a reassuring statement that provides cautious optimism. Hopefully, it implies that Theron Warlick is one of the four city employees who have applied for the planning director position.
We need a known quantity, someone who understands Tulsa, someone who is a trusted, well respected, established member of the community, that has been closely involved with guiding PlaniTulsa firsthand and already has established good working relationships with all the parties impacted to serve as planning director who can hit the ground running, supported by the confidence of all involved. Tulsa needs to hire a planning director who has a demonstrated the professional and interpersonal capabilities to fairly broker the balanced consensus and compromise essential to satisfy the concerns and garner the support of all involved. There is only one person that fits that bill, that person is Theron "Triple Beam" Warlick.
Hiring an outsider will just serve to inspire skepticism and uncertainty. Not to mention that an outsider will have to waste precious time getting up to speed while trying to develop an understanding of the community, build relationships, trust and support in the community. Tulsa needs someone in this position that has already developed these assets.
Why the Mayor and Simonson seem so determined to waste the time and resources on a nationwide search with a qualified, unbiased, internal candidate like Theron Warlick available defies all logic and rationality, begging the question of exactly what unstated ulterior motives might be behind their intentions?
Unfortunately, it seems the Mayor and Simonson have already decided to dismiss internal candidates, considering that they will have to reject them in order to engage in this wasteful external search for applicants. It is especially perplexing considering the common campaign refrain from politicians bemoaning Tulsa's brain drain problem of young talented people leaving the city, making campaign promises to do something to reverse this trend, yet they turn around and take actions like this that only serve to exacerbate this situation. Our elected officials need look no farther than the nearest mirror to see the root cause of this problem and why they have been unable to provide any effective solutions.
There is an obvious omission in this article about the accountability and transparency problems inherent to the current makeup of the TMAPC. It is the need for Tulsa to have it's own planning commission that is independent of the county and INCOG, made up of residents of the city of Tulsa elected to serve as Commissioners and administered by the city planning department. The lack of accountability on the TMAPC and providing more transparency can be easily addressed by making commissioners elected (one from each Council district preferably), not appointed posts as they are currently.
For example, the county has undue influence over the TMAPC currently, considering that 90% of the cases are from within the city of Tulsa, yet county appointed commissioners make up 40 percent of this commission. To add insult to injury, the latest county appointment to the TMAPC, Sand Springs resident Ryon Stirling, doesn't even live within the jurisdictional boundaries of the TMAPC(Sand Springs has it's own independent planning commission). It doesn't take a rocket scientist to determine how this dysfunctional, unbalanced system that is in place favors the suburbs that have their own commissions, aided and abetted by INCOG and the County appointees.
As long as INCOG and the County are involved in planning decisions inside the city limits of Tulsa, the city will continue to see disappointing, dysfunctional results. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. Real reform will not be accomplished without regime change that results in the city of Tulsa controlling it's own destiny, instead of outsourcing it to outside interests like INCOG and the County, giving them undue influence and control.
Tulsa needs to have it's own accountable, transparent, independent, planning commission in addition to it's own independent planning department, led by a trusted, well-respected planning director, to get the necessary public buy in that will be critical to achieving a fair and balanced consensus driven approach to successfully implement and reach the full potential of PlaniTulsa.
A Sure Thing
(In response to "South by Southwest Bound" in Jan. 27-Feb. 2 issue of Urban Tulsa Weekly)
I have known the writer of this essay for over 30 years and he has always been a very thoughtful, and thought provoking, person. He is well spoken, but easy to listen to (and understand), and witty, as well (as evidenced by his essay). His upcoming article on SXSW will, no doubt, be a VERY good read. Good choice UTW!
(In response to "Bringing the War Home" in Jan. 27-Feb. 2 issue of Urban Tulsa Weekly)
What a wonderful idea and program. Our veterans deserve the help and respect of the country that they so unselfishly defend, it's a good way to show we care about our freedom and the men and women that provide it.
Two Thumbs Up
(In response to "War of the Words" in February 3-9 issue of Urban Tulsa Weekly)
Thanks so much for your "War of the Words" piece in the February 2 Urban Tulsa Weekly. Quite honestly, you never cease to amaze me. This is precisely the kind of in-depth story that would likely never be told if not for the forum provided by UTW.
It seems that our local daily newspaper seldom justifies devoting that much space to any story, regardless of the civic importance or complexity of the issue.
I found your story to be very thorough and well balanced and I would characterize your portrayal of my comments to be absolutely accurate in every sense of the word. You and UTW are a real treasure to our community. Keep up the good work.
Don't Bully Me
(In response to "Are You Pissed Off?" on urbantulsa.com)
The Giffords shooting sickens people like me as much as it does you. But because of it, many of you support the passage of new laws which, after you send men and boys off to fight, and possibly get killed or maimed in defense of our way of life, will strip them of liberties under the Bill of Rights for coming back damaged.
I know because I belong to a minority that is so widely feared and loathed that every time there is a dramatic and tragic shooting, at a post office, a school, or a public meeting with Arizona Rep. Giffords, the call goes out to further deny us the Bill of Rights. Never mind that it's the same kind of bigotry that would judge all black men by the example of Willy Horton. This bigotry is politically correct, especially for liberals.
I speak of those of us who have serious mental illness. Many of you fear and loath us so much, you would and have given Doctors the unaccountable power to veto the Bill of Rights for us under the color of Medicine. Using the rather unscientific criterion, "Are you thinking of hurting yourself or anyone else". Which can be used even if we think only of defending ourselves against the kind of violence that has created and/or exacerbated our illness.
This criterion is unscientific and unconstitutionally broad because it applies to the wide majority of those with mental illness who may be as angry and upset at something as many of the rest of you, but have no history of or real propensity or intention for violence. Anyone with access to the Internet can find the scientifically valid medical criterion in the National Library of Medicine database for journal articles, www.pubmed.gov. Searching on the terms "serious mental illness" or SMI, "crime" and "violence" will show that only the tiny minority of those who are mentally ill, and don't have or take needed medications, and are involved in alcohol or illegal drugs, have any propensity or intention for violence. It will also show that the rest of us, who you tar with the same brush, are more likely than the rest of you to be victims of crime and violence.
So, after you send someone off to war, they are subject to the same realities if they go and/or come back with a mental illness, like depression or PTSD. They will be more likely to commit violence if they don't get treatment and get involved with illegal drugs or alcohol. They will be more vulnerable to crime and violence than those who sent them. After sending them off to fight, get wounded and die, you would strip them of the right to defend themselves against criminal attack when they come back a part of minority that you fear and loath. And exemptions from this fear and loathing on the basis of military service would only short those who have been abused as children and/or raped, maimed in car wrecks or plane crashes or terrorist attacks, or have endured such threats of death as cancer.
It would seem that after making racial hatred unacceptable and letting gays mostly out of the closet, even vampires, many of you still need someone to hate who can't easily fight back. Denied employment in most places and often living on disability, most of us can't afford lawyers. Lawyers aren't willing because they either can't get paid or don't believe they can win against fear and loathing or share the bigotry.
Why don't you go pick on somebody your own size?
(In response to "Advice Goddess" in January 20-26 issue of Urban Tulsa Weekly)
How much would you charge to advertise The Apostles Baptismal Creed? We said it in church when I was a Methodist and since I became a Catholic five years ago (almost 6) we occasionally say it in the Mass, but always on the Crucifix when we say the Rosary. We have Holy Water as we come in the door to remind us of our Baptism (the "door" to the Church -- the first of seven Sacraments).
The Apostles Baptismal Creed: I believe in God, the Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and buried. He descended into hell, the third day He arose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty. From thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen.
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