Friday, November 26, 2010

Things to be thankful for

This Thanksgiving I thought I'd offer a few things that we could give thanks for as a community. Oklahoma has a lot to be thankful for.

1 Being among the nation's lowest in unemployment
2 Being poised to be first in the nation to recover from the recession
3 Both Chesapeake and Devon, for investing in Oklahoma again and again
4 Infill in downtown OKC and people who "get it"
5 The same for Tulsa, where development has really taken off
6 Leaders who we can trust and also reach when we disagree with them
7 (For me) The dozens of influential people who read my blog and email me when they agree or disagree with me
8 The rising profile of Oklahoma which attracts new retail and companies
9 Some damn good football teams as of late
10 Our troops in Iraq, Pakistan, and elsewhere abroad fighting for the United States overseas

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Ward Map controversy

Redistricting is coming up soon, as dictated by the city charter. Census numbers come out next year and the wards will have to be drawn within one year after the numbers come out. Groups are already mobilizing to have their voice heard. In this week's Gazette, Capitol Hill-area activists say it is imperative that we get the inner south side its own ward instead of breaking off bits and pieces hear and there and lumping it with other wards in order to marginalize the inner south side. I would argue that's not what's at play, and you can just look at voter turnout which is pretty paltry. Still, it gives the impression of something fishy when you see the ward map itself.

Some have suggested, as Pete White did when he called it ridiculous how Capitol Hill is split into 5 different wards, that we need to expand and add more councilors in order to expand representation. This seems like a no-brainer to me, but it's not the only good argument. Then others such as Sam Bowman want to just see better-drawn wards without expanding the Horseshoe because there are advantages to having fewer councilors, that it's easier to get everyone in a room and find compromise than have publicly-waged debates involving political capitol and things you see in places like...Tulsa. And then there's Brian Walters, who wants no change, except that he wants every councilor to join his and Mayor Cornett's crusade for family values.

I think the most likely positive scenario is what Bowman suggested, by just drawing better lines next time. City charter states that each ward has to be relatively equal in population. Here's my suggestion that I drew quickly that I prefer because it keeps certain parts of town together without mixing entirely different areas too much:

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Lost Ogle and OKC Talk fallout from Cornett's anti-lingerie edict

The OKC Talk thread is basically up to 160 posts already.

The Tulsa Now thread also has several posts, but so far only 12--Tulsa Now is a lot less active though, and much more used to their mayor being a bigot.

The Lost Ogle has been ALL over this, as well. By far have they been the go-to source on the LFL debacle, not surprisingly. Their coverage:

Last year The Lost Ogle actually jokingly suggested an LFL arena as a MAPS IV project or something.

On 11/11 they announced the potential arrival of the LFL. Ironically they also suggested Mayor Mick might have made the pitch on a recent trip to LA.

Mayor Mick gave this statement: "Hey guys… I am not in favor of them coming for more reasons than I can mention. Some obvious, some not so obvious. Do not expect it to happen…"

I don't know what "Kiss the Baby" means either.

In a Q&A, Mortaza says some interesting things. Cites that he saw a poll where 70% of people in OKC supported the LFL and says that a local real estate developer would have been the franchise owner, and defended the league's balance sheets.

The Lost Ogle speculates who the real estate development/prospective franchise owner was going to be.
My guess is someone entirely different from anyone listed on here.


This will probably be the last mention I give the LFL debacle just for the sake of moving on. This is an urbanism blog, not a politics blog. I do have political feelings, and for the most part they're pretty darn moderate and middle-of-the-road these days. I don't wish to crusade against Mick Cornett for being a conservative but I'm definitely not going to support the kind of actions he's made so far this month. I just want to highlight the reactions and the potential for this to create really bad PR for Oklahoma City, as it already has done in my opinion.

This is just systemic, in my opinion, of a greater struggle to allow downtown to deviate from family-friendly. And it is very frustrating and exasperating, and probably the only reason I care passionately about letting the LFL play in the Cox Center or somewhere. Certainly the LAST thing we want downtown is more 20-somethings going to events and going to bars before or afterward to hang out with their buddies.


Wow, what a great company. I only hope that my child grows up to have as much integrity and vision as these guys do.


Thursday, November 18, 2010

More glowing social (and traditional) media coverage

Here's a few selected outside news reporting pieces about Mayor Mick's family values crusade to not allow lingerie football in OKC.

"There's at least one sports league that likes Seattle better than Oklahoma City."
Seattle Post-Intelligencer

"League chairman Mitchell Mortaza said Cornett is taking away the freedom of individuals to choose what sporting events to attend."
Huffington Post

"You can add Oklahoma City to the list of places I will never move to."

"Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett has said no to the Lingerie Football League."
MSN FoxSports (AP)

"From what I've been told, Oklahomans love their football. But they can't stand hot women in sexy outfits. At least that's what I've been led to believe by Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett, who has banned the Lingerie Football League from going anywhere near his city's Cox Center."
Holy Taco

"What guy can say no to a bunch of women playing football in lingerie in their city?"
NY Daily News

These are just a FEW of the negative articles and blog posts that have been getting OKC the wrong kind of attention over the most recent bad decision from city hall.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Mayor Mick's family values crusade

Aka the jumpstart of his campaign for statewide-office. The ever-opportunistic Mayor whom we love so much is apparently crusading for family values, since when? Since now. And thank goodness, so that guys all over Oklahoma will be spared the indignity of the lingerie football league, truly a "Big League City" amenity if there ever were one. Thank goodness we're keeping the big leagues at bay, with all of those moral and cultural vices that come along with being "Big League City."

The Lingerie Football League was intending to grant OKC an expansion team, one of only four franchises that would be awarded. The current cities with franchises are as follows:

Eastern Conference:
Tampa Breeze
Philadelphia Passion
Miami Caliente
Orlando Fantasy
Baltimore Charm

Western Conference:
Chicago Bliss
San Diego Seduction
Los Angeles Temptation
Dallas Desire
Seattle Mist

I don't see a weak link there. Also, the championship will be played out during the half-time of the Super Bowl, talk about publicity. It would have been a win-win. A chance for OKC to join a prestigious list of cities, a unique sports amenity that guys would dig, and an expanded tax base from having a very unique business locate in OKC. They weren't even asking for an incentive.

Instead of the great publicity we would have gotten for OKC as a cool and hip place, we get this: OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett told Thursday that he does not plan to allow a Lingerie Football League team to come to the city. And to quote the LFL CEO: "Oklahomans should be provided the opportunity to choose for themselves and not dictated to. I thought our plans were for expansion into Oklahoma City, not North Korea."


I agree with Mortazza, the LFL CEO, and not just on the point that an LFL franchise would be great for OKC. I agree on the simple principle that I don't like the idea of Mayor Mick casting the vote for what kind of entertainment OKC residents should be subjected to. I think they are capable of making that decision for themselves with their pocketbooks and their feet, although apparently Mayor Mick disagrees. Look, we've always known he's a pretty conservative guy, or at least very prone to pander to the "Christian Conservative" fringe. That's always been O.K. as long as he acted impartially as mayor, because our main issues are about growing our city and in particular our downtown, not divisive social issues and all that stuff. We don't talk about things like abortion and gay marriage on the horseshoe, or at least people not named Brian Walters don't, so there's never been a problem with elected Attila the Hun as mayor. Now apparently there is if Mayor Mick is going to overstep his boundaries and use his position and his influence in order to prevent the LFL from coming to OKC.

And here's the funny thing about family values: they only work against things people have a prejudice against. Nobody has a prejudice against gorgeous women in lingerie in a male-dominated city. Mayor Mick, in his efforts to increase his statewide appeal by pandering to the family values cartel, has come up with a scheme that is sure to backfire, and I plan to do my part to make sure it does. This is going to start becoming a rising issue, the disenchantment with Mayor Mick, if stuff like this keeps happening. THIS IS NOT NORTH KOREA. Mayor Mick, if you want to prevent semi-adult recreation from coming to OKC and putting OKC on the map as a hip and cool city, go be mayor in North Korea and get yourself a nice Kim Jong-Il haircut. It will suit you nicely in your burgeoning political aspirations.

I hope that the LFL will still be able to pull through. I hope that people other than myself will fight for the Lingerie Football League's rights to come to this city and that they won't be discouraged from even bothering with this Mayberry. I think the LFL could be a great marketing asset for us and it is obviously far more feasible than the OKC Grand Prix, which the City Council killed last month.

P.S. So far votes in favor of the LFL outnumber votes against 9-2-2.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The problem with the downtown library

Building the new downtown library WAS by all means a great decision and a major victory for urban enthusiasts. Not only is the architecture of the building a positive but also the presence of a library people actually want to go to is a huge benefit to the downtown environment. There's only one problem with the implementation of that idea: the hours of operation.

These are the hours of operation for the Ronald Norick Downtown Library.

Monday - Thursday 9am - 9pm
Friday 9am - 6pm
Saturday 9am - 5pm
Sunday 1pm - 6pm

Monday through Thursday seem alright, but why are there no evening hours on Friday and Saturday? Granted, we all know that librarians hate being cooped up in libraries and held from their active social life, but that aside--it just does NOT make sense for the library hours and downtown's busiest hours not to coincide. Part of the reason why you never really see as much people activity as you'd expect around such a public asset is that its hours and downtown's hours don't really coincide. And by that I am sort of excluding people in suits who aren't really going to use the library anyway unless they have a meeting in one of its great meeting rooms.

It just seems disingenuous for the library to never be open when most regular people are going to be downtown. The slight improvement on these hours that needs to be made is that it needs to be open until at least 9 pm on Friday and Saturday. Then I think you would see more synergy between it and the arts district--people attending showings at the OKCMOA or plays at the Civic Center Music Hall or events in the revitalized Myriad Gardens could make a stop at the library. This would lead to a huge increase in casual traffic, because as it is with the library hours, you're only going to go in there if you're looking for something specific. And what's more is that it really doesn't help people who don't either work downtown or live downtown. Working downtown are about 50,000 people; living downtown are a little over 5,000 people. We are a city of 560,000 and a metro of 1.3 million.

It just seems like the library is currently excluding itself from taking a more prominent role in forming that downtown lifestyle we're looking for. At the very least, longer operation hours on weekends would at least keep the homeless people who have claimed that side of Park Avenue at bay a little longer. That alone would go a long way toward making downtown more people-friendly.