POSTED ON SEPTEMBER 23, 2009:
Get InvolvedTwo sides of the same coin
City officials are encouraging Tulsa residents to provide more feedback on the recently released vision plan that is the latest step in the PLANiTULSA process.
"Our Vision for Tulsa," which was unveiled on the PLANiTULSA Web site (www.planitulsa.org) on Sept. 14, is a 50-page document outlining a proposed vision of Tulsa's future in such areas as land use, transportation, economic development, housing, parks, open space, and sustainability and the built environment. The document is the work of the city's Planning Department and Fregonese Associates, a Portland, Ore.-based urban and regional planning firm that has been compiling public input.
The document also includes a plan for action consisting of specific steps for implementing the recommendations.
Theron Warlick, a city planner who has been involved in the PLANiTULSA process, said there has been a decent amount of response from citizens so far, but he hopes to encourage more.
"We've gotten a little bit of feedback from the Web site, but not as much as we want," he said.
Warlick stressed that all comments from citizens, good or bad, would be forwarded to the Planning Commission and the City Council for review before any action is taken on the plan.
"It's important for people to know their comments aren't just going to disappear in a black hole," he said.
Warlick noted that none of the plan's specifics seem to have generated any controversy yet, although he said, "There will be good debates down the line on some issues. Right now, there's not too much to argue about."
Much of the feedback received to date consists of citizens supplying additional rationale in favor of some of the plan's recommendations, he said, such as people citing the threat from global warming in support of the sustainability section and others citing Oklahoma's obesity problem in relation to walkability.
Warlick said organizers will continue to accept public input up to the point at which the plan actually is approved, but he encouraged citizens to provide their feedback sooner rather than later.
"As we move forward, it becomes like cement--it does stiffen up," he said of the plan.
A link on the PLANiTULSA home page provides citizens with a direct means of passing along their feedback to the plan's organizers.
Two candidates at opposite ends of the age spectrum recently saw their campaign for public office in Tulsa end unsuccessfully, but neither expressed any misgivings about having run.
Nathaniel Booth, an 18-year-old candidate for mayor, and Rocky Frisco, a 72-year-old candidate for the District 4 City Council seat, both lost in a Republican primary race on Sept. 8. Both wound up attracting more support than many observers believed they would, with Booth finishing fifth out of a field of 11, while Frisco nearly upset incumbent Eric Gomez, totaling 889 votes to Gomez's 1,070.
Booth, a recent graduate of Victory Christian School, described the campaign as one of the most enjoyable experiences of his life.
"It really inspired me to see there are a lot of people who thought the way I did," he said.
Booth acknowledged that he faced an uphill battle in earning the GOP nomination because of his age and lack of name recognition, with many members of the media anointing eventual winner Dewey Bartlett Jr. and former city councilors Chris Medlock and Anna Falling as the top three candidates. Given those obstacles, he said, his fifth-place finish was about what he expected, though he noted he was still satisfied with his showing.
If he had it to do all over again, Booth said, "I would probably announce a little bit sooner than I did, but it was a learning process, and I don't have any regrets about doing it."
Booth, who has endorsed Bartlett in the Nov. 10 general election, said he has not decided whether his run for public office was something he'll ever try again.
"It depends on how the city government handles things," he said. "The reason I decided to run in the first place was because I thought the people were being misrepresented in municipal office at the expense of special interests."
Frisco's run for the City Council was not his first foray into politics--he previously had mounted unsuccessful campaigns for the council and the mayor's office--but he said it was by far his most successful.
"In the past, my principal reason for running was gaining a podium for some of my specific concerns rather than having any serious intention of winning," he said. "This time I was mad about the way people in my district were being represented."
Frisco's campaign attracted only $525 in donations, but he noted proudly that every dollar of that amount consisted of a small contribution from an individual who shared his concerns about the district rather than coming from a special-interest group.
Contacted early last week, Frisco had already left the campaign behind and moved on to other matters--namely his Sept. 17 induction into the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame in Muskogee. Frisco--a world-class keyboardist who has played with Elvis Presley, Eric Clapton and J.J. Cale, among others--admitted to being stressed out about the prospect of singing one of his own songs at the ceremony.
He also expressed his gratitude at being included in the latest class at the Hall of Fame, though he noted, "I don't think I deserve it as much as some other people in town who haven't been recognized yet."
As for his political future, Frisco--who said he was endorsing the candidacy of Democratic nominee Maria Barnes in the general election--expressed serious doubts about mounting another campaign.
"I don't think I'll do this again," he said. "I can't imagine in two years I'll want to do this crap again."
But that doesn't mean he's given up on the issues that inspired him to run for the council this time.
"I love my city, and I just wish people would pull their heads out," he said.
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