Thursday, May 24, 2012

Bad News for Oklahoma's High-Flying Chesapeake Energy

In case you missed it, it hasn't been a good week for Oklahoma City's Chesapeake Energy. More accurately, it hasn't been a good year for the company.

The company's stock has fallen 45 percent since the beginning of 2011, according to press reports, and the company's CEO, Aubrey McClendon, has racked up "more than $846 million in debt from companies and banks also doing business with Chesapeake…."

This was from Bloomberg News, which knows a little bit about high finance. And this was headline on the Bloomberg story in the Tulsa World Tuesday: "Chesapeake's directors enjoyed cozy deals."

And who are these directors? None other than former Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating and current OSU President Burns Hargis, among others. According to one critic quoted by Bloomberg, the company's directors "repeatedly failed to exercise independent oversight."

What's more, the directors were well paid, taking home more than directors at similarly sized energy companies. Then there's the cozy deal allegations, which involve the employment of directors' relatives (Keating's son and daughter-in-law) and numerous gifts to a university run by a director (OSU).

We don't claim any expertise in financial matters of this sort, but this can't be good publicity for Oklahoma or its energy industry.

Indeed, it looks a like what some wags call crony capitalism. It's not a good thing.

Eat Local: It's Farmers Market Time in Tulsa

The AltTulsa gang has been distracted lately, so we've missed our annual shout out to Tulsa-area farmers markets.

Let's remedy that now by mentioning our favorite, the Cherry Street Farmers Market, which runs every Saturday morning on Cherry Street (aka 15ht Street), just east of Peoria,  in midtown Tulsa.

There's also a Brookside offshoot of the  Cherry Street market, the aptly named Brookside Farmers Market, which is running Wednesday mornings from 8 to noon in the Food Pyramid parking lot near 41st Street and Peoria.

The Brookside market will be bigger and better this year, according to the a report in the Tulsa World. Market manager Melanie Hunter told the paper that the Brookside market will include a wider selection of products as well as performances by various music acts.

For more information on the Cherry Street and Brookside markets, check out their website here

Monday, May 21, 2012

Big Bucks: Oklahoma Congressional Delegation Rakes It In

Oklahoma's Republiocan senators and congressmen are doing just fine, thank you very much. In fact, some of them are—wait for it—millionaires.

Must be nice to be a humble servant of the people, like, say, Sen. Jim Inhofe. Financial disclosure forms just released show Inhofe's assets at $3.6 to $10.7 million.

Sen. Tom ("Dr. No") Coburn is no slouch in the income department either, with assets listed at $1.8 million to $5.1 million.

Meanwhile, the median household income in the Sooner state is an underwhelming $42,979. Yes, Sooner fans, it pays to be a politician round these parts.

Even a couple of Oklahoma's Republican congressmen are millionaires. Take Rep. Tom Coleplease! The new reports list his assets at $2 to 5.3 million. Oh, and Cole gets some nice trips out of the deal, including Puerto Rico and Spain.

Consider this: Cole's income from interest, dividends and capital gains was listed at $91,100 to $223,800. Even the lower figure here is more than twice the annual median income in Oklahoma.

But wait. One Oklahoma congressman is a relative pauper among the elite. Tulsa's own John Sullivan—formerly a patient at the Betty Ford Clinic—lists assets at only $15,000-$50,000. Rep. Sullivan lists no major holdings either—no mutual funds, no retirement accounts, no professional partnerships.

Sullivan didn't even list any cool junkets—nada, nothing. He does have a personal mortgage, however, to the tune of $250,000 to $500,000. So that's something.

Maybe Sullivan should take after Rep. James Lankford and take to the pulpit. Langford made a nice chuck of change as a guest preacher—$4,150.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Video Roundup: The GOP's Orgy of Politicizing Terrorism

The Republicans were sooooo offended this week when President Obama reminded the public of the anniversary of the death of Osama Bin Laden. It's so distasteful and cynical, they said. We would never do anything of the kind. Oh wait. As the video makes clear, they did it repeatedly and shamelessly, over and over and….

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Newt's Second Term: President of the Moon

We've been busy lately, so busy that we didn't have a chance—till now!—to snark over the Bold Ideas of God's Gift to Politics, Newt Gingrich, who suspended his presidential campaign this week. Alas, Newt will NOT be campaigning all the way to Tampa, as he promised. But at least we have his Great Moon Base plan on tape, a reminder of what a Great Visionary He Really Is, even if it's only in his own mind.