POSTED ON JUNE 12, 2013:
Bair-ly on the Job. Longtime Tulsa World executive John Bair has resigned after serving fewer than three months as publisher.
Taking over the role is an outsider, Bill Masterson Jr., hired by Warren Buffett's BH Media Group in May from an executive position based in Indiana with newspaper publishing company Lee Enterprises, Inc.
Masterson was born in Lawton, and his mother and brother live in Oklahoma, according to the World. He brings some impressive accolades to Tulsa, having been named 2012 Publisher of the Year by Editor & Publisher. The trade publication described his leadership role in starting an initiative known as One Region: One Vision, which pushed for economic development and quality-of-life improvements.
He started the effort while publisher of The Times of Northwest Indiana, a role he held even after being promoted to a company-wide executive position -- not unlike what he'll apparently do with BH Media, as he'll lead the company's Southwest Group which includes two Texas newspapers in addition to the World.
In Indiana, Masterson led a capital fundraising drive that raised more than $5 million to renovate an old school building into a Boys & Girls Club, Editor & Publisher reported.
"This is all private dollars," Masterson told Editor & Publisher. "It's a testament to the people here believing in the One Region: One Vision mantra that we need to come together."
Bair took over in March after the Lorton family sold the paper to Warren Buffett's BH Media Group. He began working at the World as circulation director in 2001 and held the title of president for the newspaper before the newspaper sale.
Masterson also took the time to pen columns. His writing veered from a fishing vacation to his opinions as a sports fan to giving an update on community philanthropic efforts -- all in one column, as an example.
Bair did not respond to a request for comment, and neither did Masterson.
Rick Edmonds, a media business analyst with The Poynter Institute, said it isn't unusual for a publisher to leave after ownership changes.
Edmonds said the clustering of newspapers geographically is common for newspaper chains, adding that he wouldn't be surprised if BH Media acquired more newspapers.
911 As a Cloak. A union for municipal workers is behind a lawsuit filed against the city of Tulsa seeking the release of a 911 recording.
The American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, Local 1180, filed the suit June 5, holding a sparsely attended news conference the next day.
George Gibbs, the attorney representing the union in the suit, said the organization is seeking the recording because it relates to action taken by the city against a 911 call taker.
In the words of George Gibbs, the attorney representing the union in the lawsuit, the worker has "been charged with not handling the call properly."
According to documents provided by Gibbs, the city denied a request filed by the union on April 23. The request was for an April 5 recording of a phone call relating to a domestic violence incident.
In an April 26 email from the city, the union was advised that the city "is not required to produce audio of a police 911 call in response to an ORA request," an apparent reference to the state's Open Records Act. The email also states that "this is a standard that we've been following per city legal on other open record requests for police 911 calls."
However, the city has released 911 calls previously. In March of last year, for example, the city released 911 recordings just a few days after a report of a home invasion that ended with police shooting the suspect. (The District Attorney's office later ruled that the shooting was justified.)
Gibbs took a shot at the city: "I wonder if it's just the city just releases those when it's convenient for them or when it might serve their purpose. I don't know."
In a phone interview, Gerry Bender, the city's litigation division manager, confirmed that the city for several years has not routinely released 911 recordings.
"The chief of police has determined that he is not going to release those 911 calls as a matter of course," Bender said, describing how "unless the police chief says to release it, it's not going to be released."
Bender said he didn't immediately know why the home invasion 911 calls were released.
Oklahoma law does not specifically address 911 recordings. According to the National Conference of State Legislators, 11 states either prohibit the release of 911 recordings or place restrictions on their release.
Oklahoma law enumerates eight types of law enforcement records which must be released, including "radio logs."
But it does allow police to "deny access to law enforcement records except where a court finds that the public interest or the interest of an individual outweighs the reason for denial." The union's request was not made to the city's police department, but to "PSC 911," a reference to 911 Public Safety Communications, which handle communications for several agencies..
Rider declined to describe the action taken by the city against the 911 call taker, only to say the matter remains pending.
"I don't know if it would help or hurt the employee," Rider said of the 911 recording. "We're about being fair. We don't' go in and fight every battle if an employee does something wrong. But without that tape, all we have is management saying, 'This is what's on it.' ... We like to verify all those things before we determine whether discipline is warranted or in just cause, in accordance with our contract that the city's agreed to."
Gibbs said the lawsuit references all other pending open records requests in case they are denied as well. He said if the city hands over all the materials requested, the lawsuit will be dropped.
The Universe Really is Expanding.
Promoters recently announced 28 bands set to perform at the inaugural Center of the Universe concert festival taking place July 19 and 20 in the Brady Arts District.
Several venues will host the event, which will feature previously-announced performances by OneRepublic, Neon Trees and Mayer Hawthorne, among dozens others.
Recently announced performers include: The Mowgli's, Rebirth Brass Band, and Wheeler Brothers.
"So far, we have announced 40 of the more than 70 bands that will play, so the hardest part for the fans will be choosing who to see during the festival," festival co-organizer Chris Lieberman said in a statement. The complete lineup can be viewed at centeroftheuniversefestival.com.
Ministry Honors Community. Tulsa Metropolitan Ministry will honor several from the Tulsa community at its annual awards dinner on Thursday, June 13.
Warren Blakney Sr. and Tulsa Dream Center earned "Points of Light" honors.
Also honored: Buddy Stone with Stand in the Gap, as well as Michael Brose with the Mental Health Association in Tulsa.
Nancy Day with the Oklahoma Center for Community and Justice has been honored with an award for interfaith understanding.
An interfaith service award is going to Greater Cornerstone Baptist Church and the Cornerstone Community Center.
An awards dinner will take place at Christ the King Catholic Church's Marquette School. More information is available at 918-582-3147.
A New Leader. Jeni Dolan is the new executive director for Operation Aware, a nonprofit focused on preventing drug and alcohol abuse by Tulsa's youth.
"We're very fortunate to have a person with such passion and prevention education experience leading the agency," said board chair Fred Fleischner in a statement. Dolan has worked for 10 years with the organization, most recently as the group's lead prevention educator.
In that role, Dolan worked to launch a new curriculum for the program.
"I'm looking forward to spearheading our recently completed strategic plan to improve the agency's expansion into more classrooms, reaching more students," Dolan said in a statement.
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