Letters, trolleys and third parties
BY MIKE JONES Associate Editor
Sunday, November 04, 2012
11/04/12 at 3:00 AM
This week, three subjects that are totally unrelated.
Here in the confines of the Editorial Department of the Tulsa World, we continue to receive many letters from our readers on a variety of subjects.
Not surprisingly, the submissions show a dramatic uptick during election years and particularly during presidential election years.
This year in Oklahoma we have additional choices, including six state questions, congressional races, state and local candidates and a sales-tax extension proposal for Tulsa County.
All that has led to an over-abundance of letters. That's not a complaint; we love letters. In the closing week or two before the Tuesday election, those of us who are charged with the task of opening, reading, vetting, verifying, editing and getting the letters into publication realized that there was no way in H.L. Mencken that we were going to get all the letters into the newspaper.
Even on normal weeks many letters sent to the paper never see ink. Many, too many, simply are either unprintable or did not qualify under our requirements.
Although we often print the rules for publication in the letters column, writers still fail to follow them. I'll put them here again. Letters can be no longer than 250 words (shorter is better). Authors must include their full name, an address and a daytime telephone for our verification purposes. We publish only the author's hometown and the phone number is not for publication. Authors will not be printed more than once every 30 days.
Letters not following those rules are automatically rejected.
So, as we have done in previous years, we expanded our letters column to the Oped page a few days. Still, we did not get all the letters in. Some were simply sent in too late.
We tried to choose letters that presented a composite of opinions on the various political subjects. For the many who wrote and did not see their letter published, we apologize and we hope you don't give up. There will be plenty of other events that are sure to get your dander up.
We're looking forward to those letters.
Good news for downtown. The trolley is back. Friday, the trolley was fired up again and started providing transportation to those visiting or living in the downtown area.
The free service - provided by Old Urban Trolley - will run every Friday and Saturday from 5 p.m. until 2 a.m. It will service the Brady and Blue Dome districts as well as the Deco District and other downtown spots including the Tulsa Performing Arts Center and BOK Center.
This is great news but it ought to be only a starting point. As more people move downtown to live and as weekday as well as weekend events progress, there is a need for a stable, seven-days-a-week service.
I once had an out-of-town visitor staying in a downtown hotel ask me how he could get to Gilcrease Museum - and back. If his hotel didn't have a shuttle, he was left with a taxi or a bus ride. Neither is going to leave a good impression with a visitor.
Downtown Tulsa eventually needs a reliable trolley system that can get people to points of interest as well as simply from the Brady District to the Deco District. It ought to encompass at least the museums and Cherry Street and Brookside and the river.
And it will need more than one trolley. Move visitors around on trolleys to places they want to see and we want them to see and they will remember Tulsa.
Even if you wanted to, you cannot cast a vote for Gary Johnson in Tuesday's election. He didn't qualify for a spot on Oklahoma's ballot as a third-party candidate.
In Oklahoma, a party is defined as either a group that polled 10 percent for the office at the top of the ticket in the last election or one that qualifies by petition. That's an easy goal for the Democratic and Republican parties.
For an independent or third party, it's another matter. For either to qualify it must submit a petition with 3 percent of the last presidential vote. About 1.4 million Oklahomans voted in 2008. That would require more than 40,000 signatures for a ballot spot. In 2008, Oklahoma was the only state that had only Democratic and Republican candidates on the ballot.
There have been attempts in the Legislature to revise the law but all have failed. In 2011, the House passed a bill that would have lowered the number of petition signatures required but it failed in the Senate. More recently, the Oklahoma Supreme Court denied a request by the Oklahoma Americans Elect Party to have its nominees and the party's seven presidential electors listed on the Nov. 6 ballot.
The spirit of the law was to prevent frivolous candidates from getting on the ballot. The law, however, can't deter a well-funded alternative candidate who can fund a petition drive. Think Ross Perot or, oh, no, Donald Trump.
It seems to me it's time to loosen the restrictions and allow other candidates on the ballot - goofy or not.
That, however, won't happen Tuesday.
So, there you go. Got a complaint? Write us a letter. Or hop the trolley to your favorite downtown spot and drown your sorrows. Just don't try to get on the Oklahoma ballot as the pro-letter, pro-trolley candidate. At least not this time around.
Original Print Headline: Letters, trolleys and third parties
Mike Jones, 918-581-8332
The T-Town Trolley will run a loop every half hour to seven different night-life stops in downtown and midtown Tulsa, including McNellie's Irish Pub. Tulsa World file