Sunday, July 31, 2011

Welcome Cam's Grocery, a New Store Coming Soon to Downtown Tulsa. Really!

This a bit of good news about the revitalization of downtown Tulsa. 

Yes, a new and very interesting grocery is coming to downtown. It's called Cam's Grocery and it promises to focus on local produce and goods. They'll also have a funky cafe.

Sounds positively amazing. And wonderful. Just the kind of retail establishment that downtown needs.

The store isn't open yet; that's planned for November. But this is still good news.

Check 'em out. The Cam's Grocery and Natural Foods link is here.

This Land's 'True Tulsa' Feature: Jimmy Washington, Cherokee Speaker

Grover Norquist's Oklahoma Lackeys

Sooners don't want their federal lawmakers to think for themselves. Not when they've got Grover Norquist thinking for them.

Norquist, of course, is the head of Americans for Tax Reform, a virulently anti-government group that has extracted pledges from Oklahoma's Republican lawmakers to never, ever raise taxes. Naturally, Sens. Jim Inhofe and Tom Coburn have signed on, as have Reps. John ("Potted Plant") Sullivan, Tom Cole, Frank Lucas and James Lankford.

But as the Tulsa World's Mike Jones points out in today's paper, this is an odd and hypocritical idea, considering that the federal government has bills it must pay (or so we thought) and, by the way, we are fighting two—no, three—wars, among other federal obligations.

Do Sooner state Republicans really want to starve the federal government, the same federal government that kicks in millions of dollars to fund our highways? Do they really want to stop federal spending that feeds poor children? That supports thousands of our seniors?

If Grover Norquist has his way, that may be the unpleasant and harmful result.

Jones also makes another good point: Norquist represents yet another Washington special interest group, lobbying Congress for his own goals, which are not necessarily good for the people of Oklahoma.

As we noted above, we wouldn't want our representatives to have an independent streak or to think for themselves.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

See for Yourself: Mautino's Epic Meltdown

Tulsa Councilor Mautino's Idiotic 'Hissy Fit'

It's piling on, we know, but we can't let Tulsa City Councilor Jim Mautino's recent public meltdown go without adding our two cents.

For those of you who missed it, a quick refresher: At a council committee meeting earlier this week, Mautino went into full rant mode, berating a city employee over some proposed animal welfare regulations.

Instead of working through the differences in a calm and rational fashion, Mautino went into what the Tulsa World editorial called (correctly) a "hissy fit."

"Mautino seemed to have his own agenda," the editorial noted, "and that was to embarrass anyone who disagreed him and to belittle anyone on Mayor Dewey Bartlett's staff."

Hey, Jim, mission accomplished!

As city hall observers have noted, this is yet another embarrassment for the city council, which has no distinguished itself in recent months.

Read the full World editorial here.

Still Prayin' for Rain as the Heat Continues

Gov. Mary Fallin last week asked the good citizens of Oklahoma to pray for rain.

"The power of prayer is a wonderful thing, and I would ask every Oklahoman to look to a greater power this weekend and ask for rain,” Fallin said in a press release. 

Let's stipulate that the power of prayer is wonderful. But it hasn't rained. In fact, the heat wave continues.

So what gives? Is the Lord ignoring the pleas of the Sooner state? Or maybe the Lord has a problem with Mary Fallin, who is—let's face it—out of her depth. Like it or not, she's the secular leader of Oklahoma. She has no background or authority as a religious leader, an area best left to those who do have some knowledge or training.

As it happens, Gov. Fallin has no more clout with the Lord than any other Oklahoman. As a long-time politician, in fact, Fallin would seem to have fewer connections to the Lord than, say, the average resident of Poteau or Shawnee.

It will rain one of these days, of course, and then we can all thank the Lord. But not Gov. Fallin.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Just What Oklahoma Needs: More Fast Food Restaurants (Yummy!)

As AT noted earlier today (see previous post), Oklahoma is one of the fattest states in the nation. Oh, and we are, collectively, one of the least active states.

Can you say couch potato?

If that's not bad enough, Tulsa is also getting—you guessed it—more fast food outlets.

The Tulsa World reports that the California-based chain, Jack in the Box, is building more restaurants in T-town. Soon you can buy a big, juicy Jack in the Box burger at 48th and Yale and, after that, at 101st and Memorial.

Yum. Can't wait!

It's not Jack in the Box's fault that the Sooner state loves to eat high-calorie fast food. We can only blame ourselves for that. But does Tulsa really need another fast food restaurant?

Oklahomans Weigh In: The State's Obesity Numbers Keep Going Up

The Sooner state keeps growing, but not in a good way.

We're talking about a recent report that showed Oklahoma with the highest increase in obesity of any state. In 1995, Oklahoma's obesity rate was 12.9 percent. The most recent report puts it at a whopping 31.4 percent.

Whoo-hoo! We're number One! (We "beat" Alabama.)

As the Tulsa World reported, the state is second in the nation in the increase in diabetes and third in the country in levels of inactivity. (Thank the Lord for Mississippi and West Virginia.)

But, hey, we're on a roll!

There's also this: Oklahoma is dead last in fruit and vegetable consumption, edging out those wimpy vegetarians from Mississippi.

These rankings come from the a study conducted by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Trust for America's Health. The title of the study says a lot: "F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America's Future."

Jeff Levi of the Trust for America's Health told the World, "If we're going to reverse the obesity rates, will power alone won't do it."

Exercise helps, of course, but the newspaper also noted that Oklahoma's cities "are built around cars and aren't very walkable."

Thursday, July 14, 2011

It's Official: Republican Governor Mary Fallin Wants Us All to Pray for Rain

Is prayer now an official policy option for Gov. Mary Fallin?

We ask the question because Fallin today asked Oklahomans to set aside some time on Sunday to pray for rain. She explained that much of the state is suffering through a drought and prayer just might  be the answer. 

"The power of prayer is a wonderful thing, and I would ask every Oklahoman to look to a greater power this weekend and ask for rain,” Fallin said in a press release.

Excellent idea!

Hey, if prayer can bring rain, why not use prayer to solve other public problems in the Sooner state?  Gov. Fallin can fix darn near everything if we all do our part on Sunday. 

Who needs tax revenues or actual state policy or plans when the solution is just a big group prayer away. Failing schools? No problem—let's all pray! Crumbling bridges? More prayer, please. Overcrowded prisons? Ditto!

This is such a simple and amazing way to solve the state's problems that we probably don't need to have Mary Fallin as governor. Maybe we should all pray for that.

Fallin's press release is here.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Good Idea: North Tulsa Business Park Turning Green

Congratulations to the enlightened governing board of the Vann Industrial Park in North Tulsa for pushing the green economy.

The board voted this week to offer free land in its new GreenPark area for companies that will create jobs. The plan includes a geo-thermal heat pump and free building plans.

In AltTulsa's view, this is the exactly sort of creative thinking that Tulsa leaders ought to promote.

The story, from NewsOn6, is here: North Tulsa Business Park Turning Green

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Bad Blogs: Local Political Pontificator Goes Goofy on Obama—and More

Tulsa has its share of windbags, people who find dark conspiracies everywhere they look.

Unfortunately, some of them keep howling at the moon as if they really know what they are talking about. Opinions are fine, even (or especially) dissenting opinions. We've dissented a few times ourselves.

But it helps your case when you stick to, well, a reasonable facsimile of reality. As the saying goes, everyone is entitled to his (or her) own opinion, but not his (or her) own facts.

We're referring to a recent local blog that slammed President Obama as, "a Socialist, Marxist, Anti-American if not an ideologically and economically insane President…."

Wow! Really? Shades of wild-eyed Talk Radio hype here but hardly a provable fact to be found. In Tulsa, of course, such red-meat baloney plays well, but it's also the dullest sort of pandering.

More importantly, this sort of hot air does not advance political discourse in any meaningful way nor does it contribute to solving any of of the many problems we face, nationally or locally. We think it's destructive to the body politic, harmful instead of helpful.

As for AltTulsa, we prefer reality and facts over hyperbole and hot air.

Happy Birthday to Pablo Neruda, Nobel Prize Winner and Chile's Greatest Poet

Pablo Neruda is not a household name in the U.S., but he should be. The great Chilean poet would be 107 today, if we got the math right.

Neruda is better known in Latin America, of course, both for his poetry and his political activism. He was a great poet as well as a communist. The politics of his era have receded into the past, but Neruda's poetry remains as vivid and delicious as ever. No surprise that he won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1971.

The AltTulsa gang is especially fond of Neruda's love poetry, along with several million of other readers. Sometimes, we admit, Neruda's images (in the English translations) are so colorful and imaginative that we have trouble following his meaning(s).

On the other hand, that's one of the joys of Neruda's poems—taking in the music of his language and imagery and swirling it around in the mind's eye to see where it leads.

Happy birthday, Pablo. We'll toast to you by reading a love poem and sipping a glass of Chilean red wine. Friends and lovers everywhere still need you.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Councilor Eagleton's Big Flop: AG Rejects Attempt to Oust Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett

Tulsa City Councilor John Eagleton keeps striking out.

Some months ago, Eagleton tried to get Governor Mary Fallin to order an investigation of Mayor Dewey Bartlett. Wisely, Fallin turned down that request.

Now Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt has denied Eagleton's petition to begin proceedings against the mayor based on allegations of misconduct. 

Unsurprsingly, Bartlett is a happy man. The AG's opinion, Bartlett told the Tulsa World, "shoots down every allegation and statement the council made in opposition to my charter-given responsibilities…."

The AG's opinion found "legal defects" in Eagleton's petition. Pruitt also found that some of the allegations, such as a $16 expense to provide business cards for the mayor's wife, do "not show that the mayor violated his duty," as the World put it.

Reacting to the opinion, Eagleton told the newspaper that he was "going to chew on this over the weekend." Eagleton also rejected the idea of an apology, which Bartlett has suggested, claiming he was just doing what he thought was right.

Based on his track record, Eagleton might want to reconsider that notion. His batting average is exactly zero.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Today's Best Movie Review Headline: The Tulsa World Slams Painfully Obvious 'Zookeeper'

The AltTulsa gang appreciates the lost art of headline writing. It's fun when the copy desk rolls out a bad pun or a deliciously wicked putdown. 

Today's issue of the Tulsa World offers a solid slam on Zookeeper, a new movie that opens this weekend. Picking up on the phrases of reviewer Michael Smith, the World's headline notes that Zookeeper is "generic" and has
no surprises, no laughs, no brains
True, not a classic but it's a pretty fair zinger. Besides, we're inclined to agree with Smith: Stay away from this stinker.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Sen. Jim Inhofe's New Cause: Protecting Wayward Pilots (Like Him)

Always alert to public needs (tongue firmly in cheek), Sen. Jim Inhofe is sponsoring new legislation that will protect the rights of civilian pilots—like Jim Inhofe.

Oklahomans may remember that Inhofe landed on a closed Texas runway last year, an incident that "scared the crap" out of several construction workers. Inhofe continues to insist that he did nothing wrong.

Inhofe's new legislation, reported in today's Tulsa World, is being presented by the senator as an "appropriate safeguard…to prevent agency overreach."

But it also looks a lot like sour grapes. After all, Inhofe landed on a clearly marked closed runway, got a slap on the wrist by the FAA, and now wants to get back at the agency for doing its job.

Unfortunately, this is exactly the kind of political game Inhofe loves to play. The Talking Points Memo story on Inhofe's new proposal is here.