FBI facts could explode OKC bombing case

March 31st, 2006

Facts are funny things. First, you have to find them.

Judge backs lawyer in FBI-Okla. City link

The judge said he found it “troubling” that the FBI’s efforts to locate documents required by his earlier rulings have not turned up more memos, including ones the FBI’s own files suggested existed at one time.

“While the FBI’s failure to discover documents is not necessarily an indication of bad faith, it is puzzling that so many documents could be referenced but not produced,” the judge wrote.

Kimball ruled in Trentadue’s favor early on and ordered the release of some heavily edited teletypes, but the FBI vigorously fought any additional releases. At a November hearing the Justice Department asked Kimball to reconsider his earlier rulings and stop the disclosures.

Did it ever occur to Judge Kimball that maybe we can’t handle the truth?

Tulsa’s vision cloudy

March 31st, 2006

If this poll is right, I don’t know squat about Tulsa politics.

The Oklahoma poll questioned 500 likely voters. Almost half – 49 percent – say they’d vote for Democratic challenger Kathy Taylor. 34 percent say they’d pick LaFortune. Independents Ben Faulk and Paul Tay together tallied 3 percent. 14 percent of voters said they haven’t decided who will get their vote.

Which weakens my prediction that fractioned Republicans would unite behind the incumbent mayor.

This polling still surprises me a bit, since LaFortune tops Taylor in the “Personal Integrity” category and successful implementation of Vision 2025. Half of those polled say they trust Mayor LaFortune with completing Vision 2025 projects to less than one third trusting Kathy Taylor.

Evidently trust is not an important factor in Tulsa government. And not necessarily in polling either.

Lawmakers welcome Mexicans to breed in state

March 30th, 2006

While Oklahoma legislators wrangle over how to deal with illegal immigration, a House committee is unanimous in its desire to honor one group of Mexican immigrants.

SB 1678, by Sen. Owen Laughlin, R-Woodward, and Rep. Jeff Hickman, R-Dacoma, would designate the Mexican free-tailed bat as the official flying mammal of the state.

Hickman explained that the Mexican free-tailed bat flies to Oklahoma to breed and then flies back to its indigenous Mexico. “Texas also has the Mexican free-tailed bat as its official flying mammal but the only thing it does in Texas is leave a few droppings on its way to Oklahoma,” he said.

If you don’t think that is a funny thing for state lawmakers to be spending their time on, maybe you’ll laugh at this:

CS for SB 1613, by Sen. Todd Lamb, R-Edmond, and Rep. Guy Liebmann, R-Oklahoma City, would designate “Mr. Voter,” created by Jim Lange, editorial cartoonist for the Daily Oklahoman newspaper, as the official state editorial cartoon.

This one sums up Mr. Voter pretty well.

Stop throwing your thermometers in the lake

March 30th, 2006

The Oklahoma DEQ periodically monitors 49 of the larger public reservoirs for fish toxins. Recent testing of fish at 21 sites by the EPA has found mercury at levels that could cause concern for some.

The amount may seem microscopically miniscule, but it’s higher than the 0.5 ppm level that can be dangerous for pregnant women and children.

Nineteen of the 21 Oklahoma sites tested by the EPA had fish with some level of mercury, arsenic or toxic organic chemical.

Ten lakes tested high enough to warrant special consideration according to DEQ environmental program manager, Monty Elder:

“Those lakes,” she said, “are McMurtry, Zoo, Draper, Coalgate, McGee Creek, Hugo, Broken Bow, Wister, Greenleaf and Heyburn.”

Bass, walleye, saugeye and flathead catfish are the predator fish to watch. The advisory says sunfish and channel catfish typically have less mercury.

But if we eat the sunfish and channel cats, won’t that just leave even more mercury for the others?

Immigrant pork

March 30th, 2006

I think people needn’t worry about stricter laws on illegal immigrants being passed in Oklahoma. Why would lawmakers subsidize jobs for these folks and than threaten to deport them? Mark Winne for In These Times explains:

Texas County is in Oklahoma’s Panhandle region. In 1990 it had 11,000 hogs. Today, according to the Kerr Center, the number has swollen to more than one million. For a region that was in economic decline, the offer by Seaboard Farms to locate an industrial-style hog operation held out the promise of reinvigorating the flagging economy, creating desperately needed jobs and re-filling the empty school desks.

But it came with a price. Seaboard demanded and received $60 million in local and state government assistance. This worked out to $27,552 per new job, a tolerable sum if the jobs paid $20 per hour, but the average hourly Seaboard wage was less than $8. In spite of the low wages, the deal might have been justified if the community received a commensurate growth in tax revenues. But by the time the county completed the financing deal with Seaboard, they had agreed to taxes of $9,700 per year until 2017 on a business site valued at $100 million. Even after Seaboard agreed to pay $175,000 annually to the district’s school board for the next 25 years, this still amounted to the county forgoing $120,000 per year.

Factory hog operations not only pay a meager return on a community’s investment, they also extract a high price from the surrounding region. With Seaboard’s influx of jobs came an increase in population, which in turn brought about a sharp rise in crime. From 1990 to 1997, crime in Texas County increased by 74 percent compared to a 12 percent decline in other rural Oklahoma counties. And factory farm workers in the West and Midwest are increasingly Mexican immigrants, only about half of whom are legally documented. They bring with them a host of needs that these rural communities are unequipped to handle.

Doesn’t sound like anything a few indian casinos up there can’t cure.

Okie Tattoo Town

March 29th, 2006

Remember the good old days when the “T” in “T-town” stood for Tulsa? Now some rascals are threatening to change things.

The State of Oklahoma will see its First Tulsa Tattoo Convention on April 1st & 2nd, 2006.

What next? A national gay adoption convention?

(Wonder which convention would leave the bigger mark?)

Oklahoma puzzled

March 29th, 2006

Via the puzzling Samantha Burns.

Taxpayer rapists protected

March 29th, 2006

KTEN News would like to find out which companies were taking advantage of loopholes in an Oklahoma tax incentive program meant to create jobs. Me too, and I’d like to show them to you. But…

Oklahoma taxpayers may never know the names of the companies and individuals who got tens of millions of state dollars without necessarily creating any state jobs under a tax incentive program.

Tax Commission spokeswoman Paula Ross says the names of the companies that participated in the program are not public record.

Hmm… imagine that.

Sooner star fails at fraud

March 29th, 2006

Former Sooner football star, Adrian Cooper, wasn’t a very savvy businessman.

Cooper pleaded guilty to securities fraud and money laundering.

“This was theft by deception, plain and simple,” U.S. Attorney John C. Richter said. “Instead of looking out for his clients, Cooper greedily defrauded them and used their money for his own purposes.”

The maximum punishment on the two felonies is 35 years in prison and $500,000 in fines.

It’s not that Cooper wasn’t a good businessman for getting caught for fraud, lot’s of successful businessmen do that. No, Cooper showed his ineptitude for business by only ripping off $400,000 in a crime where the fine is up to $500,000. Any businessman worth his salt knows if you’re going to commit a crime, you steal more than the cost of the fine.

Bates keeps distance from LaFortune … for now

March 29th, 2006

As a person who has been involved in small-time, but cut-throat politics myself, I’ve been watching BatesLine blog author, Michael Bates, and his deepening involvement in Tulsa’s murky political circles, with interest.

Quoting the Tulsa World:

LaFortune may recommend Michael Bates for the city’s planning commission, and he’s considering Chris Medlock and Terry Simonson for city hall jobs.

Bates, Medlock and Simonson, all Republicans, have lambasted LaFortune and his policies.

LaFortune said Friday afternoon that “no promises” had been made for the three men in exchange for their support.

Such a promise would violate state law.

Of course, legal or not, political favors are a strategical part of the game.

Medlock endorsed LaFortune after losing to him in a primary election, which created some stir among Medlock supporters. Bates defended Medlock’s decision. However …

I have not yet endorsed LaFortune for re-election. I won’t until I see him take the kinds of bold, tangible actions I mentioned above, to show that he is serious about a fresh start in a second term. But if he does what he needs to do, I won’t really need to make an endorsement; his actions will speak for themselves.

And in an update to his post, Bates announces a wise move:

Now I think I would make an excellent planning commissioner, which is an unpaid position. Fifteen years of civic involvement has prepared me for the job. I’d be committed to ensuring that our new Comprehensive Plan and a potential transition to form-based codes would be handled in a way that respects the investments that property owners have made under the current plan and use-based zoning code, while moving us to a system that helps us build the kind of quality of life we want for our city. But to avoid muddying the waters, I’ve taken my name off the table.

I happen to agree that Bates would be good for the job. Yet, timing is everything in politics, and the timing doesn’t seem right. Good call, Michael.

But like I said back on March 3rd:

It seems pretty obvious Bill LaFortune and OKC Mayor Mick Cornett will be slapping each other on the back by April, if they aren’t already. (Tulsa Republicans won’t turn on LaFortune when push comes to Taylor or McCorkell.)