Initially posted on October 20, 2009; current through November 12.
With both credit and apologies to Dr. Seuss, it has been written,
Out west, near Hawtch-Hawtch,
there’s a Hawtch-Hawtcher Bee-Watcher.
His job is to watch …
is to keep both his eyes on the lazy town bee.
A bee that is watched will work harder, you see.
Well…he watched and he watched.
But, in spite of his watch,
that bee didn’t work any harder. Not mawtch.
So then somebody said,
“Our old bee-watching man
just isn’t bee-watching as hard as he can.
He ought to be watched by another Hawtch-Hawtcher.
The thing that we need
is a Bee-Watcher-Watcher.
So, as a MAPS 3 supporter, I want the MAPS 3 vote to succeed. That’s one reason that I’m distressed about the close tie between the Oklahoman and the MAPS 3 campaign. The relationship doesn’t pass the smell test and it gives MAPS 3 opponents an additional reason to oppose MAPS 3 that wouldn’t otherwise exist.
The Proposal’s Content The Ballot & Related Issues
The Oklahoman’s Coverage All MAPS 3 News
INTRODUCTION AND THE REASON FOR THIS ARTICLE EVEN BEING HERE. One of the frustrations which some, including me, have with the upcoming December 8, 2009, MAPS 3 vote is that, aside from the information contained in the city’s MAPS 3 website, Oklahoma Citians haven’t yet been presented with much information about it. In the City’s Summary about MAPS 3, it is said,
Please note that more information on each project will be made available at regular press conferences BEGINNING IN OCTOBER.
In September, I awaited October 1 or shortly thereafter with great anticipation and twiddled my thumbs until that date, expecting, certainly hoping, that something new would be forthcoming, ala the above official words of the city’s MAPS 3 website. Somehow, I figured that “beginning in October” would have, by October 20 when this article was originally written, be come and gone.
Nope, not as of October 20. At that time, all were still waiting for those public news conferences promised in the city’s MAPS 3 website. If any such press conferences had occurred, they’d not been reported in the Oklahoman, our primary print medium for Oklahoma City news, or elsewhere. I opined that perhaps in the next 10 days such news conferences would at long last begin.
On October 21 and again on October 22, I added a note saying that, as of those two dates, information in the last paragraph remained true.
Turns out, I missed a step. For the good of us all, as it turns out, this bee-watcher-watcher has a bee-watcher-watcher-watcher! That is so totally cool!
By the way, if you’re lost in this Dr. Seuess analogy: (1) the city is the bee; (2) someone is supposed to be watching the bee, and that would be the Oklahoman which should be the largest reporting element of the 4th estate around these parts; (3) some are watching the Oklahoman and that would include me around these parts due to its integration with the Chamber in the MAPS 3 campaign. It does get confusing, but I’m hoping you’re still following.
(4) To that train of bee-watch-watchers, I’m glad to add a new watcher-watcher, David Holt, he being the bee-watcher-watcher-watcher who is apparently watching my humble offerings here! Hopefully, more bee-watcher-watcher-watchers will follow — one can simply not have too many bee-watcher-watcher-watchers! Anyway, welcome aboard, David!
Anyway, in his e-mail, David let me know that I’d missed the mayor’s remarks on October 21 at the Skirvin. Indeed, I had no knowledge that the mayor would be making a speech on MAPS 3, much less did I know that Mayor Mick would be conducting one of the promised press-conferences about it. David kindly let me know that that an article appeared in the October 22 Oklahoman about that, in the Business Section.
Unfortunately, when I stumbled out the door to retrieve my morning Oklahoman at around 5:30 a.m. on October 22 (I have sleep issues), I discovered that it had been tossed into a water puddle and that my soggy newspaper weighed about the same as a Big Mac half-pounder, wholly useless as a newspaper but perhaps tasting as good as the latter. So I didn’t get my morning read and I wasn’t ready for breakfast. As is my morning rote, I then stumbled into the itty-bitty room of my Mesta Park home — Doug Dawgz inner sanctum — and I dutifully checked out the morning news in the on-line Oklahoman. I didn’t notice anything about MAPS 3 and I missed the article that David was pointing out to me in his e-mail.
Anyway, after David’s e-mail late this afternoon, I revisited the on-line Oklahoman and I did find that I’d missed the Oklahoman article by Jesse Olivarez (with all respect to Jesse, who dat?) which reported on Mayor Cornett’s talk before a $30 or $35 luncheon at the Skirvin — apparently a Chamber-sponsored luncheon during which the mayor discussed MAPS 3 before those who had paid the price to attend. The article is now fully readable in the table, item #2 for MAPS 3 coverage, below.
But, as was said by Otis Day & the Knights oh so long ago in their classic tune, “Shout,”
You know you make me want to (SHOUT)
Kick my heels up and (SHOUT)
Throw my hands up and (SHOUT)
Throw my head back and (SHOUT)
Come on now (SHOUT)
Don’t forget to say you will
… and so on
Now waaaa-aaai-t a minute …
- The October 21 pay-to-attend luncheon at the Skirvin was one of the promised “regular press conferences” scheduled to begin in October? Shout!
- If it was, were opportunities presented to members of the press who were present to ask questions and get answers? Shout! That’s kinda-sorta an established ingredient of a press conference. Shout!
- If members of the press were given that opportunity, what were the questions asked and what were the answers given? Shout! In other words, where’s the
beefreporting, the journalism, by Oklahoman writer Jesse Olivarez? Shout!
- Does a pay-to-attend luncheon at which (according to the article) the mayor makes a “short speech” really match what was promised on the city’s MAPS 3 website …
Please note that more information on each project will be made available at regular press conferences BEGINNING IN OCTOBER.
Shout! If this address by the mayor was intended to match the foregoing definition, the mayor’s and Doug Dawgz interpretive modes are not simpatico.
Damit. I hate writing this. I should stick to ancient history and the NBA. The mayor is one of my heroes in The Three Amigos.
The article’s sidebar notes that another pair of talks by the mayor will be presented at COC-sponsored luncheons on October 29 and November 11 at the Petroleum Club. Just pay your $35 (non-COC members) or $30 (COC members) for the luncheon and you’ll get the opportunity to attend the mayor’s next press conferences. “To register,” the sidebar says, “go to www.okcchamber.com/events.”
The point of this article is this: Since the September 30 City Council vote, any number of news articles reporting on various aspects of MAPS 3 could have been, and would have been expected to have been, investigated and published. Examples: Issues concerning the vague ballot and the non-binding City Council resolution, including the city’s claim that “log rolling” is now prohibited in municipal sales tax elections; issues concerning whether a new convention center is desirable; issues concerning the location of the proposed Convention Center, even if desirable; issues concerning city-unions not supporting MAPS 3; and so on.
Topics like the above are newsworthy, regardless of one’s disposition to favor, or disfavor, MAPS 3. They are also newsworthy topics which have been, thus far, shrouded with silence in the Oklahoman. Hopefully, that will change.
In this country with its built-in and historically established reasons for embracing a constitutional protection for the press, the so-called Fourth Estate, it is not only in Oklahoma City that citizens should expect, and deserve, its members of the 4th Estate to be independent from government and report objectively.
With MAPS 3, the distinction between government and the 4th Estate has been blurred, at the least, and, at worst, put asunder. But, finally, on October 29, better judgment at the Oklahoman prevailed and a front-line and well-respected journalist, Steve Lackmeyer, was allowed to represent the Oklahoman at the Chamber’s October 29 Breaking Through luncheon and write an article which appeared on October 30, shown below.
Hopefully, that trend will continue. I’ll keep watching and reporting until this matter is done.
Why would I care, since I’m a strong supporter of MAPS 3? The cause of the distress would take too many pages to bear reading and you’d get bored and hang yourself before reading it all — ala the movie Airplane — so in a soundbite phrase I’ll summarize those thoughts by these 3 words: Conflict of Interest and ask these questions:
Will the Oklahoman’s reporting of the many issues involved in MAPS 3 look closely at both pro and con; will it be objective? In short, will the Oklahoman be a faithful bee-watcher that watches government?
In this article, I expressed my doubts. There, I said,
The Oklahoman. Objective reporting? Unlikely. Get real — who is the present Chairman of the Board of the Chamber (I generally like the Chamber and think it has done a lot of good for the city, just so that you’ll know)? David Thompson. Who is heading up the Chamber’s MAPS 3 campaign? David Thompson. See this video and Oklahoman article. Who is president of the OPUBCO Communications Group? David Thompson. When the Oklahoman publishes an article which objectively analyzes MAPS 3, such as those mentioned by the Oklahoma Gazette below, I’ll be more than willing to acknowledge the error of my ways.
In the research I’ve done related to the still unfinished original 1993 MAPS article — and that consisted of reading about 200 Oklahoman articles as well as re-studying what Steve Lackmeyer and Jack Money had to say in their OKC: Second Time Around — I reached the conclusion that in 1993 the Oklahoman found it possible to differentiate between its editorial position on the one hand and its investigation of and reporting of the news on the other. But, in the original MAPS, the Oklahoman was not as integrally linked to the proposal as the Oklahoman is with today’s MAPS 3 which is closely akin to having a built-in conflict of interest. But the problem is that the 4th Estate has no enforceable rules of ethics and that its self-monitored ethics are only time-and-honor bound.
In that context and in this day, some bee-watcher-watching is called for. In this article, as the MAPS 3 campaign progresses, each article appearing in the Oklahoman will be identified. And, for comparison purposes, each article that I located in the Oklahoman concerning the original MAPS initiative is shown as well. The time period begins with the date that the Oklahoman reported that the City Council voted to place the respective votes to the people and ends with the day following the respective elections.
Beginning With Council’s Call For Election
Background: Original MAPS was approved by the city council on October 14, 1993, for city vote to occur on December 15, 62 days after the City Council’s decision. MAPS 3 was approved by the City Council on September 29, 2009, for city vote on December 8, 70 days later. Below, click on a subject to read the article. For reference, John Parker was the principal author of articles on municipal votes in 1993, with some articles by Jack Money and others. In the MAPS 3 era, Steve Lackmeyer is the Oklahoman’s principal writer of business and downtown issues and he covered MAPS For Kids extensively and, with Jack Money, co-authored OKC: Second Time Around (Full Circle Press 2006). Jack Money is no longer with the Oklahoman but does occasional free-lance articles for the Oklahoma Gazette. Today, Bryan Dean commonly reports on City Hall. An article’s length is shown by color code — ordinarily, longer articles are more serious since they contain greater content.
This report is current as of November 12, 2009.
|ORIGINAL MAPS||MAPS 3|
|1||10/14||John Parker||Council sets vote||1||9/30||John Estus||Council sets vote|
|2||11/9||Letter to Ed||Priorities wrong||2||10/22||Jesse Olivarez||Plan Details Mapped Out|
|3||11/9||Jack Money||Minority opposition||3||10/30||Steve Lackmeyer||Central Park|
|4||11/11||John Parker||Believe In Our Future Campaign||4||11/3||Staff report||Mayor to speak|
|5||11/14||Berry Tramel||Major League City||5||11/6||John Estus||Couch & Union to meet|
|6||11/14||None||MAPS summary||6||11/8||Bryan Dean||Movie sequel analogy|
|7||11/17||None||Sports Fans Targeted||7||11/8||None||Proponents & opponents|
|8||11/21||Jim Stafford||Praise, Criticism||8||11/8||None||List of projects|
|9||11/21||Jack Money||Possible rail line||9||11/8||John Estes||Vague ballot form|
|10||11/24||John Parker||Minority business opposition||10||11/8||Bryan Dean||Oversight board|
|11||11/28||John Parker||Experts on Pro/Con– sports||11||11/8||None||Brief MAPS history|
|12||11/28||John Parker||Bricktown canal||12||11/9||Meg Salyer||Opinion: pro-MAPS 3|
|13||11/28||Jack Money||Fairgrounds – horse shows|
|14||11/28||Stacy Martin||Real estate business support|
|15||12/4||Jack Money||Minority opposition|
|16||12/5||Jack Money||Scrutiny required|
|17||12/5||Rick Rogers||Music Hall, Library|
|18||12/10||John Parker||Errors in MAPS map|
|19||12/10||None stated||Pro/con analysis|
|20||12/10||None stated||Pro/con analysis, cont.|
|21||12/11||Mike Baldwin||Pro MAPS rally|
|22||12/11||3 Letters toEditor||Do Old West, instead, etc.|
|23||12/12||Oklahoman||Pro MAPS editorial|
|24||12/12||MAPS||Typical pro-MAPS ad|
|25||12/12||John Parker||Summary of issues|
|27||12/12||John Greiner||Oklahoma River renaming|
|28||12/14||Oklahoman||Pro MAPS editorial|
|29||12/14||John Parker||Heavy turnout expected|
|30||12/15||John Parker||MAPS passes|
|31||12/15||John Parker||MAPS passes –detail|
This report will be updated throughout the pendency of MAPS 3 until and through the day after the December 8, 2009, vote.