Text me laterr. What do German auteur filmmaker Werner Herzog and Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett have in common?
Herzog's feelings towards harmonica music remain unknown, but both he and Bartlett have signed on with the "It Can Wait" campaign against driving and texting.
"Texting while driving has become an epidemic problem in our city and around the country," Mayor Dewey Bartlett said in a statement. "It's time for us to stand up, raise awareness and let everyone in our city know that a text or email is not worth risking lives or serious injury. I encourage everyone to join me in pledging never to text while behind the wheel."
The campaign, first created by AT&T, advocates for drivers to pledge never to text and drive. With support from other wireless service providers, the effort includes public service announcements from pop culture -- including a spot featuring One Republic, the band fronted by Tulsa native and Oral Roberts University graduate Ryan Tedder. Herzog contributed a 34-minute documentary composed mostly of interviews with those directly affected by accidents involving texting.
As noted in a city news release, Bartlett signed an executive order in 2010 put forth by the Tulsa City Council to ban city workers from texting while driving on city business.
Oklahoma legislators have put forward proposals for a law prohibiting texting while driving, but the state has yet to adopt such a measure even while many other states have such a prohibition on the books.
However, the Los Angeles Times reported in April that, based on survey results from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the laws haven't resulted in fewer distracted drivers.
The "It Can Wait" campaign seeks to influence behavior by first getting people to make a commitment to change. The Dallas Morning News reported in September that about 3 million pledges had been registered, with Tulsa joining many other municipalities and governmental agencies in committing to the cause.
In Oklahoma alone, 12 fatal crashes were reported to have been cell phone-related in 2011, according to a report from the National Safety Council and Nationwide Insurance. That's just a small fraction of the 220 Oklahoma deaths related to drunk driving as reported in statistics published by Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
But the texting report emphasized that national statistics don't fully capture the extent of the problem. For example, researchers reviewing full crash reports found descriptions of cell phone use, but that information wasn't always included in federal fatality analysis data. Other times, it simply isn't clear if cell phone use played a role in an accident.
"There is strong evidence to support that underreporting of driver cell phone use in crashes is resulting in a substantial under-estimation of the magnitude of this public safety threat," the report concluded.
More information about the pledge effort is available at ItCanWait.com.
Money for principals. Tulsa Public Schools will receive $4.4 million in federal grant money over the next five years to support the development of principals.
The district on Sept. 30 announced the award from the U.S. Dept. of Education.
"This is terrific news for Tulsa Public Schools, as it is significant confirmation that our Teacher and Leader Effectiveness efforts are on the right track," Superintendent Keith Ballard said in a statement, referring to a leadership program within the district that was developed with help from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Ballard noted that the grant money "will enable us to strengthen the instructional knowledge and leadership skills of the district's 53 assistant principals so they are equipped to become successful principals within two years."
TPS was one of 20 organizations to receive first-year awards this year.
Along with supporting assistant principals, the money will expand "the capacity of school office staff to manage schools' operational and business tasks so that principals and assistant principals can focus on instructional leadership matters."
The district this year began a new re-organization of how it supervises principals, creating positions known as Instructional Leadership Directors to ensure that all principals receive coaching and help with their development. The money will also "support school leaders' ability to analyze and effectively use school and student data," the statement from the district noted.
TPS receives $990,874 in 2013-14, with $861,026 each of the next four years provided the district meets annual eligibility requirements.
Debris cleanup all done. With a cheerful tweet featuring two exclamation points, the city announced on Sept. 25 that crews had finally picked up the last pile of tree debris from the powerful wind storm that hit Tulsa in July.
Through Sept. 20, the cleanup cost the city about $133,000 in overtime costs, according to a statement from the city. Crews had been working six days a week, for 10 hours each day, to sweep the city following the storm.
Residents were allowed to stack debris curbside, with large equipment used by the city to take the yard waste loads.
As of Sept. 20, close to 146,000 cubic yards of debris had been picked up by the city or dropped off by citizens at the city's green waste site, located at 10401 E. 56th St. North.
The cost of the cleanup is much less than the 2007 ice storm, which ultimately carried a price tag of $26 million, with more than $18 million reimbursed by state or federal funds.
Homerun event coming next year. College baseball fans will be expected to come out in full force in 2015 as Tulsa hosts the Big 12 championship tournament at ONEOK Field.
It's the first time the event has been held in Tulsa, though the Tulsa Sports Commission, a part of the Tulsa Regional Chamber, had previously made the case that the event should be held here rather than Oklahoma City.
"We are proud to have been chosen for this prestigious event and are ready to do all we can to support the needs of the event organizers, visiting schools, fans and local enthusiasts," Ray Hoyt, senior vice president of Tulsa Sports Commission, said in a statement.
Book drive for youths. The Oklahoma Center for Poets and Writers at OSU-Tulsa has established a new way to support young readers.
To contribute, visit Amazon.com/wishlist and type in "Family and Children's Services," the agency partnering with the center for the new books program.
The list, developed by the Tulsa City-County Library, features titles designed to coincide with the Thursday visit of Khaled Hosseini to Tulsa. The books on the list include Curious George Flies a Kite by H.A. Rey and Margaret Rey, among other kite-themed works that are relevant to the author best known for his novel The Kite Runner.
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