POSTED ON APRIL 17, 2013:
Jail Crowding Leads to Change. Crowded jail conditions have led Tulsa County officials to temporarily stop accepting anyone brought in solely on a city complaint.
Local defense attorney John Echols noted that few city charges involve a flight risk. "Really, the city shouldn't have a bunch of people who are in jail awaiting trial if the only charge they have is a city charge," Echols said.
In a news statement released Friday, April 12, Tulsa police stated: "In any circumstance where an arrestee poses a continuing threat to the public if released they will be arrested and booked on the appropriate state charges."
Echols said several crimes can go through the municipal courts system or the state courts system. One notable difference is that municipal courts aren't allowed to issue a sentence more punitive than a state court, Echols said.
As for the crowding situation, Echols said the jail houses many inmates who have failed to pay fees and fines associated with earlier punishments.
If booked in jail on a warrant for failing to pay those fines, "a judge won't turn them loose until they agree to pay and agree to a schedule for payment," Echols said, describing the system as placing a heavy financial burden on many poor inmates.
It's Officially Unofficial. The filing period for city elections has passed, with the big three mayoral candidates -- Mayor Dewey Bartlett, former mayor Kathy Taylor and former city councilor Bill Christiansen -- joined by two others, Jerry DeWayne Branch and perennial candidate Lawrence Kirkpatrick.
But politics is such that it's a tremendous stretch to imagine anyone other than Bartlett, Taylor or Christiansen winning the race.
So far, the campaign storylines seem to be emerging pretty clearly. Bartlett touts the need for steady leadership, given improved jobs numbers and -- notwithstanding a Monday, April 15 announcement to a temporary city hiring freeze because of lower than expected sales tax number -- an improving economy.
Taylor hypes her accomplishments relating to the BOK Center and ONEOK Field. Christiansen offers himself as the candidate for "all of Tulsa," and, while seemingly working with a limited budget compared to Taylor and Bartlett, has been energetically on the campaign trail since June.
The campaign will be a sprint until the June 11 non-partisan primary election. A winner could take all with a majority of the vote, but a margin that large won't come easy now that all three campaigns have shifted into high gear.
In other election-filing news, there won't be any shake-ups in the city council. Phil Lakin, Jeannie Cue and Karen Gilbert are running unopposed.
City auditor Clift Richards will face two challengers: Cathy Criswell and Josh Lewis.
A crowded field has emerged to vie for retiring County Commissioner Fred Perry. John A. Wright, Don Crall, Ron Peters and Brandon Perkins have filed as Republicans. Another candidate, Ronda Vuillemont-Smith, filed, but later withdrew in support of Wright. A single Democrat, John Bomar, has also entered the race, and the county race is a partisan one, so he'll face the winner of the Republican primary.
Downtown Wins Dubious Honor. The number of votes wasn't overwhelming, but enough people cared to point out the large number of surface parking lots in downtown Tulsa for the city to win the "Golden Crater" award from Streetsblog.org.
Tulsa topped Milwaukee, winning 483 votes compared to the Wisconsin city's 124 in the finals of an online voting tournament.
"Which city has the ugliest asphalt expanse? The deadest downtown? The most awful place to sit and eat lunch? Those are the questions you must ask yourself as we approach the finale of Parking Madness, our hunt for the worst parking crater in the U.S.," the advocacy website posited to readers.
The city has in place a temporary moratorium on new surface parking lots downtown. A proposal is under consideration to require a special exemption before any new downtown surface lots are built.
Groundbreaking Photos. A photo business will break ground Friday, April 19, on a two-story building at E. 3rd Street and S. Rockford Avenue.
Miller Photography plans to have the building completed by the end of this year. The business currently is based downtown in the Brady Arts District.
"Now we're ready to contribute to growth and redevelopment in the Pearl District," said Scott Miller in a statement. "The new Pearl Studio will allow us to expand our still photography and video services to better serve our clients."
The news release describes how the site will be easily accessible from downtown, with "plenty of parking." The business focuses on advertising and commercial photography as well as video services.
OK Play Children's Expo this Saturday.
Inflatable games and a climbing wall highlight the fun features at the OK Play! Children's Expo on Saturday, April 20, at the Tulsa Convention Center.
The event runs from 9am-6pm, with a variety of informational booths touting medical care, summer camps and family photography, among other interests.
Last year, about 5,000 people attended the event, said Brian Smith, special events coordinator with SMG Tulsa, managers for the convention center.
The event is laid out to feature three zones. In addition to a zone devoted to vendors, the event features a sports and fitness zone, with representatives from local sports teams like women hoopsters the Tulsa Shock.
Representatives from the Philbrook Museum of Art will be at the event, with a creative arts zone also offered for families.
COURTESY OF BOK EVENT CENTER
Local dance academy performances will be featured as well. "We'll also have two performance stages that are going to showcase some local talent," Smith said.
The event is now in its third year, he said.
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