Sunday, February 27, 2011

In midst of OKC council election weirdness, I'm voting for Ed Shadid

Time flies when you're trying to get used to grad school, so I almost forgot that the Oklahoma City Council election is coming up on Tuesday. Council races come on a rotating schedule. This year seats are up for grabs in Wards 2, 5, 6, and 8. You can find a ward map here.

This year's city council race is bizarre, even by Oklahoma standards. In most of the races, voters are getting the moral equivalent of a choice between Lord Voldemort and Count Dracula.

Fortunately, in Ward 2 I've got a better choice. I'll be voting for Ed Shadid. Last fall, Shadid was an independent candidate for the Oklahoma State legislature, running with the endorsement of the Green Party. While Shadid isn't playing up his Green Party ties in the nonpartisan Oklahoma City Council election, I expect him to follow a similar progressive agenda. One or two of the other candidates in the crowded Ward 2 race also seem appealing, but Shadid seems to have the most resources and the best chance of defeating corporate candidate Charlie Swinton.

Meanwhile, in Wards 6 and 8, Sooner Tea Party supporters Adrian Van Manen and Cliff Hearron from Windsor Hills Baptist Church are challenging the incumbents. In Ward 5, incumbent Brian Walters is also an ultraconservative with Tea Party sympathies.(You may remember Walters's vote last year to oppose granting a permit for the gay pride parade.) According to, the right-wing candidates in Wards 6 and 8 are supported by a PAC that was established by Oklahoma City firefighters. Is anyone else having a WTF moment here? The firefighters union is apparently supporting these guys because of their opposition to MAPS3. Okay, but the Tea Party isn't exactly a pro-union organization. Haven't the firefighters kept track of what's going on in Wisconsin?

So on one side, you have the populist right wing trying to win control of the City Council, and on the other side, you've got the the city's business elite lining up behind its own slate of candidates. This would be BancFirst Senior Vice President Charlie Swinton in Ward 2,  accountant David Greenwell in Ward 5, employment agency owner Meg Salyer in Ward 6 and retired OG&E Vice Chairman Pat Ryan in Ward 8. According to the Oklahoma Gazette (see ward links in this paragraph), all four of these candidates have received $5,000 donations from Chesapeake Energy's PAC and Chesapeake CEO Aubrey McClendon. There is also a shadowy PAC called Committee for Oklahoma City Momentum that is sending out campaign materials supporting the election of all four candidates. The Chamber of Commerce has denied contributing money to Oklahoma City Momentum. I finally found the group's web site, but two days before the election it is still "under construction." You can see ads the group has placed on here and here.

If I lived in Ward 6, I would most likely vote for Jessica Holstein, who unfortunately doesn't seem to be running a very well-organized campaign. The big news of  her campaign is that the Gazette decided to post some old and embarrassing photos of the candidate. Just when I thought the Gazette was trying to be an actual newspaper.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

A great reason to get out on Saturday night

 It's been fun, but Snowpocalypse 2011 seems to be almost over. By Saturday, roads should be open and life should be almost back to normal (at least for a little while). If you're in Oklahoma City, or can get to Oklahoma City, here's a great way to celebrate: OKC's own Lauren Zuniga will be the featured performer at a poetry cafe at Church of the Open Arms on Saturday night (that's Feb. 5th) from 7-9 p.m. The poetry cafe is a benefit for the Oklahoma Coalition For Reproductive Justice.

January 22nd marked the 38th anniversary of the 1973 US Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade, which for the first time guaranteed women in the early months of pregnancy the right to obtain an abortion. Both nationally and in Oklahoma, that right is under increasing attack. In 2010, the Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice formed to defend abortion rights, and met with a surprising degree of success. The poetry cafe is free, (and there will be refreshments), but if you can make a donation, 100 percent of all money collected will go to support the work of OCRJ.

In the interests of full disclosure, I ought to say that I am one of the poets who will be reading that evening.

Hope to see you there.