Archive for City Scene

Bungle in the urban jungle

I wrote back in 2005:

Nobody knows for sure how long the Survivor Tree will, well, survive. It’s been given the best of care, including treatments to repel the blight, and it’s an integral part of today’s National Memorial, insuring that it won’t be forgotten. But this mute witness to the terrible tragedy of the nineteenth of April has brothers and sisters and cousins all over the city, and I believe that the strength of one, by some genetic anomaly, by the grace of God, by something, somehow resides in them all.

Except for two of them on my block, which subsequently survived multiple ice storms and typically horrendous winds over the next decade, only to meet with the chainsaw today, the result of Stupid Fucking Contractor putting down sidewalks on the wrong side of the street. I had read the original scheme at the time, and I’d complained; a couple weeks later, a revised scheme was released, evidently to everyone except SFC, which doggedly proceeded with the old one despite the fact that it made no sense — why have the sidewalk on the south side of the street on one block and then move to the north side on the next?

Nothing can be done, of course. The wood has been hauled away; SFC will presumably get some sort of bonus for beating a deadline, and the city will disclaim any responsibility for hiring them.

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We don’t need no stupid icons

We need steel-belted radials:

Charcoal Oven signA tire company has entered into contract to buy the Charcoal Oven property at 2701 NW Expressway and build a new facility on that site.

The historic structure and charming grounds and drive-through will be completely demolished to make room for the new use. It had been actively for sale for several months.

This is the original and also the last of the remaining Charcoal Ovens, with the previous locations in Edmond and at Northwest Expressway and MacArthur having been sold off some time ago.

At the time it was built in 1958, it was one of the first drive-through restaurants and has remained in continuous operation since that time by the Wilson family.

Its 52-foot high neon sign has been an Oklahoma City landmark for decades.

Which is something you’ll never say of a Discount Tire sign.

(Via Judge Radar.)

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Remote forage

From early on in The Sparkle Chronicles:

Next day at 5:56, the doorbell rang, and my heart did a couple of half-gainers off Kilimanjaro. It was the evening repast: bean sprouts and hummus and stuff Fluttershy wouldn’t dare feed Angel and sort-of-freshly baked bread and a couple of bottles of what was probably filtered tap water from Wichita. I was sufficiently crazed to demand no change from two twenties. The fellow’s truck — what, he didn’t ride a bicycle? — had just barely cleared the driveway when the feeble little bleep of my thirty-year-old wristwatch announced the hour, and an oval of light appeared on the concrete.

This paragraph was done with a local firm in mind, though I admit I hadn’t actually patronized that firm at the time. Now I have.

Dining Delivery Express of Oklahoma City, better known by its phone number — 858-TOGO — takes orders for participating eateries and arranges for delivery to your very porch. For those of us who aren’t in the mood to go crawl across town, this is ideal, if a tad pricey: a flat $5.99 delivery fee, plus an appropriate tip to the driver. Anyway, this was tonight’s decidedly not vegetarian repast:

858-TOGO invoice for Oklahoma Station BBQ

Ended up being close to $30 when it was all done, but it was worth it, and delivery took less than half an hour, competitive with the pizza parlors. Considering that my typical pizza order ends up over $20, and that barbecue joints are not known for being economical, I’m not about to complain.

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Such a deal, indeed

On the 20th of June, I was loaded aboard an ambulance, and the Health Misadventures of 2016 were under way. I mention this because it’s time once again for this program:

EMSAcare provides you and permanent members of your household with emergency medical transport through EMSA, with no out of pocket expenses. Your membership covers expenses not paid for by your third party insurance. The program is just $3.65 per month and can be included on your utility bill. More than 180,000 Oklahoma City households participate in EMSA’s EMSAcare program.

With the charge for a single emergency ambulance ride now over $1,300, it is easy to see that EMSAcare is the smart choice for you and your family.

Third-party insurance covered none of my $1,324 ambulance bill; EMSAcare took care of the whole thing. Heck of a deal for $43.80 a year.

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Old door, new name

News Item: Kevin Durant’s Bricktown restaurant closed Sunday, but vows to open with a new theme after Labor Day, Hal Smith Restaurant Group said Monday. “The concept will offer an updated atmosphere with a similar menu to what has been available at that location in the past.”

Top Ten new proposals for the restaurant concept to replace Kd’s:

  1. Draymond Green’s Kick It!
  2. Hey, it’s Bricktown, come eat
  3. The Steve Lackmeyer Express
  4. Al Eschbach’s House of Helium
  5. Opubco Imports
  6. Where the Streets Have Several Names
  7. James Harden’s Beard Garden
  8. Bromo Seltzerium
  9. Tag Agent 007
  10. Please, Russ, don’t leave us

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One way only

From the “We Will Not Forget” files:

Maybe the part that leads out of town.

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The incredible shrinking paper

It wasn’t that long ago that the Oklahoman decided to leave the Black Tower on the Broadway Distention to the printers and move the actual news-gathering operations downtown.

Evidently the printers weren’t far enough away to suit the publisher:

The Oklahoman will outsource its printing and packaging operations to the Tulsa World beginning in September, announced Chris Reen, publisher of The Oklahoman and President of The Oklahoman Media Group. The Oklahoman will close its printing and packaging facility at Britton and Broadway.

“We’re fortunate to have newer and more modern presses as close as Tulsa with ownership like Berkshire Hathaway who has a great deal of experience with these sorts of arrangements around the country. The move will create significant cost savings while not sacrificing quality,” Reen said.

Except, of course, for adding a minimum of two hours’ worth of lead time:

Reen said in order to ensure the same timely morning delivery of the newspaper, there will be earlier press times which will impact some late-night news stories and sports scores.

“Timely” is in the eye of the beholder, or maybe the subscriber. I consider delivery after 6:30 am (as it was yesterday) to be excessively late. (I am an afternoon-paper kind of person, but not the sort of afternoon paper that’s spent 11 hours turning yellow in the summer sun.)

Not mentioned in that NewsOK reveal:

I note for reference that GateHouse, under its post-bankruptcy name New Media Investment Group, bought the Dolan Company at the end of 2015, which owned, among other things, the Journal Record.

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Target está cerrando

The one on the largely Spanish-speaking near-southwest side, anyway:

Employees have told OKCTalk that they were informed by management earlier this week that the Target at SW 44th & Western will close its doors in August.

Last November, Target announced it would close 13 under-performing stores but no Oklahoma locations were on that list.

Target has not made any official announcement about more closings but St. Louis papers have reported that a store in that area — near the infamous Ferguson uprising — will soon be shuttered as well.

The chances that this closing has something to do with restroom access? Next to nil, I’m willing to bet.

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Meanwhile on the Distressway

This is going to screw up traffic at least through the summer:

This is approximately the 5500 block of May, about half a mile from me.

I suppose the only real question is why it took so long: the ratio of pavement to patches dropped below 1:1 several years ago.

Addendum: I’ve talked about this bridge before. Apparently someone not capable of judging heights tried to drive under it.

Further addendum: Says it all, doesn’t it?

Screen cap from KOKH-TV

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Squirrel update

Over the weekend, I discovered a dead bishop on the landing squirrel out by the curb. After contemplating the disquieting possibility of hoisting the poor deceased critter from his resting place and dropping him into the refuse bin, I decided that hey, I pay taxes for this, and Monday morning I left a note for the city’s Action Center.

Almost exactly 24 hours later, within the time frame expected, Animal Control failed to find the ex-furball, perhaps because it was in the shadow of said refuse bin. I know this because I sent a second note to the Action Center Tuesday afternoon, and that’s what they told me. Wednesday they were properly contrite, and promised to have it hauled off that day. Which they did.

I think this is only the second time I’ve dealt with the Action Center. Not bad for twelve and a half years, I guess.

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It’s all there in black and white

Or is that “white and black”? Yesterday’s Zebra Race at Remington Park:

If nothing else, this demonstrates the truth of the assertion that if the creatures are sufficiently multicellular and mobile, humans will wager on their speed.

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Saturday spottings (knees up)

At various times through the week, the probability of precipitation on this spring Saturday has been quoted at anywhere from 20 to 60 percent, motivating Trini, once again accompanying me on the Architecture Tour, to bring along an umbrella and an extra jacket. This worked really well to keep the rain away for the entire five-hour duration, during which we hit nine locations of interest and used less (but not much less) than a quarter-tank of gas.

1) 3209 Robin Ridge Road

Krogstad House in Quail Creek

Behind Krogstad House in Quail Creek

Bud Krogstad, one of the original developers of Quail Creek, ordered up the 1.0 version of this house in 1964 from architect Robert Reed; it’s been enlarged twice since, most recently this past year. It’s one of the niftier variations on the Mid-Century Modern theme, and it sits right on the edge of the golf course.

2) 1171 Northwest 56th Street

1169 and 1171 NW 56th St

Billed as “SideXSide,” this is actually two residences on a single lot, 1171 being the one on the west side and the one we saw. (1169 is on the east.) Its relentlessly modern footprint doesn’t seem to fit all that well with the rest of Meadowbrook Acres, a traditional prewar suburb, but this is the going thing: dragging a sleepy subdivision into the 21st century. And it’s really quite appealing on the inside, with all mod cons and not so much as a square inch of clutter in its 1544 square feet.

3) 1161 Northwest 57th Street

1161 NW 57th St

Forget what I just said about Meadowbrook Acres. This is what you find one block north, and if anything, it’s twice as much: four homes — two mirror images — on a double lot. Same architect (Geoff Parker, 405 Architecture), same lack of clutter. (And actually, this shot is of one of the homes on the back of the lot.)

4) 911 Northwest 67th Street

American Energy Partners Fitness Center

When Aubrey McClendon bade goodbye to Chesapeake Energy in 2013, he set up shop as American Energy Partners almost literally just down the street; AELP’s fitness center, an ultra-modern facility about four blocks from the Chesapeake campus, looks as little like a Chesapeake facility as possible, with no nods to 19th-century small-college design whatsoever. The place is utterly bathed in natural light; the racquetball courts look so shiny I’d be afraid to sweat on them. “You should see it at night,” we were told. I believe it.

5) 616 Northwest 21st Street

The ARC

Conference room at The ARC

Once upon a time, this was Sunbeam Family Services, which dates to 1964; fifty years later they moved to bigger quarters north of downtown, and new owner Marva Ellard repurposed it as a group of office suites for lease. The conference room shown is downstairs, as viewed from an upstairs corridor.

6) 322 Northeast 15th Street

322 NE 15th St

Billed as “Positively Paseo,” this baffled me for a moment, since this house, in the 1920s neighborhood Classen’s North Highland Parked, south of the Capitol, is nowhere near the Paseo. Positively Paseo, it turns out, is a nonprofit organization that buys up decrepit homes — or, in this case, a actual vacant lot — and replaces those spaces with new homes that look like they belong there. Sales are then made to folks of low-to-moderate income. This is the first PP completion in this neighborhood, with three more planned. And yes, they’ve done several homes in the Paseo area.

7) 126 Harrison Avenue

PLICO Building

Harrison Avenue is a diagonal through the east side of downtown, leaving some triangular blocks filled with flatiron-shaped buildings. This one, originally built as a hotel in 1924, was boarded up in 1988, reopened last year after Rand Elliott breathed upon it and gave it new life. It’s full of Twenties atmosphere and modern amenities that somehow manage not to clash. Owner PLICO, a healthcare-liability insurer, was recently acquired by Berkshire Hathaway’s MedPro Group, though BH says the operation will remain in the flatiron.

8) 1101 North Broadway Avenue

Buick Building

Interior of Buick Building

Original staircase from Buick Building

Only one actual dealership (Mercedes-Benz/Jaguar/Volvo) remains on Oklahoma City’s Automobile Alley, but some of the old dealer buildings have been lovingly repurposed. This Buick store, built in 1924, became a project for Brian Fitzsimmons and his crew in 2012; each of the four floors is a single office space, with a ground-floor frontage on Broadway that’s been given over to the tony Broadway 10 Bar and Chophouse. The weird curvy thing is an original spiral staircase, now hung outside near the entrance; upstairs, in the REHCO/Midtown Renaissance Group office, is a Buick straight-eight with, yes, valve in head. (The rest of the slogan: “Ahead in Value.”)

8) 36 Northeast 10th Street

Interior of Jesus Saves

There’s a sign out front that says “Jesus Saves,” hence the name. This Thirties building, once a leather bindery, was basically down to just four brick walls and tons of pigeon poop before being reclaimed and turned into a residence. Or, more precisely, two residences, a larger one upstairs, a small one on the ground floor. You’re looking at the upstairs kitchen.

Photo credits: 2) 405 Architecture; 6) Positively Paseo; 8) (rooftop shot) Brian Fitzsimmons; others by me (embiggened on Flickr should you so desire).

We’re already planning next year.

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Presumably not working for tips

A small group of anti-circumcision protesters turned up at Penn Square around midday yesterday, the same group that had hit Springfield, Missouri on Friday:

The protesters here pulled out fake blood, splattered it on their pants and posters, and stood on the corner here for the past hour.

Despite the blood, and graphic pictures, they say the point is not to scare people, but to get you to see their signs which they say point out what they say is cruelty to boys.

The group “Bloodstained Men and Their Friends” are behind the protest. They’ve been traveling across the country with the same message against infant circumcision.

The protesters call circumcision torture to babies, and wear the blood to represent that. Protesters say boys should be able to choose whether or not to get circumcised when they become an adult — instead of being forced at birth.

When it hurts even worse.

Seriously, though: I am not particularly put out about my own foreskin, which hasn’t been seen in six decades or more, but I can’t help but wonder if this particular group has a problem with Jews, though nothing on their Web site suggests so. And to be upfront about it, female genital mutilation strikes me as even worse, but the Men don’t seem especially concerned about that.

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It could only happen here

Or at least, that’s the impression we’d like to give:

A man and a horse were shot in a Thursday night drive-by shooting in northeast Oklahoma City.

About 10:20 p.m., Frederick Leon Jackson, of Spencer, and Carlos Romon Miles, of Jones, were riding their horses back from a rodeo arena, off NE 50 and Post Road, when they stopped in front of a church off NE 41 to smoke a cigarette.

Miles told police he saw a red car approach and someone in the car started shooting as the car passed by, according to a police report.

Jackson was hospitalized with a bullet wound to the calf; his horse caught a round in the upper right shoulder.

This is a pretty remote area — the Spencer post office actually delivers the mail this far out — and definitely not the sort of place you’d tend to expect a drive-by shooting. I suspect the occupants of the vehicle were, um, somewhat impaired at the time.

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Small potatoes

Notice how all these cities fit within the boundaries of Los Angeles.

Then again, you can take the entirety of the City of Angels, park Sacramento next to it, and still not fill up Oklahoma City.

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Lower forms of automotive life

There’s a 23rd Street on the south side, but it pales into relative insignificance next to its northside counterpart, which runs for many miles through neighborhoods of several ethnicities. None of it is particularly picturesque, even the stretch that runs past the Capitol, but the northeast segment has some fairly woeful motor vehicles along its length:

I spend a lot of time driving on 23rd. I can’t stand people “acting casual” to avoid attention from police by doing 5 under the already low and mostly unenforced/disregarded limit of 30. **NEWS FLASH** you’re doing 25 on a 4-6 lane avenue in a hoopty with rusted off mufflers, 3 missing hub caps, and threads of weathered duct tape holding bits of smashed car parts onto the chassis. If a cop wants to shake you down for the substance you might be carrying: he’s just going to point out that you’ve hot glued a maybelline compact in the gaping hole where side mirror used to be. OR just say you were swerving.

I admit here to having once duct-taped an exhaust manifold into place, but it wasn’t an offense to the eyeballs unless you were actually looking under the hood.

With gas prices in decline, though, there are now considerably fewer cars that can double their value just by filling the tank.

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Operation QR

The old, ordinary water bill came Saturday — two days early, which I blame on February — and with it came a preview of the new, extraordinary water bill, which shuffles the content a bit and adds one thing previously unseen: a QR code on the return page, making it theoretically possible to pay your bill by scanning it on a mobile device.

Maybe I’m reading too much into this, but the sample account displayed:

  • has a past-due balance, but no sign of a late charge;
  • contains in the Important Message block the phrase “These are generic topics only”;
  • belongs to a customer in Mississauga, Ontario.

The latter, at least, is sort of explainable: in the past, the city has been known to have outsourced some of its IT development to a Canadian firm, and apparently that relationship continues.

Addendum: Hmmm. The due date is two days early. I blame that, too, on February.

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Another one bites the taco

I knew about May and Britton (the first one listed), but not the others:

I mean, I haven’t been there in ages, but I’m sure they weren’t waiting on me to show up.

Dave at GreaterFalls.com will be devastated. Remind me not to mention this in front of him.

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Metered perplexity

I opened up the water bill, and there, for the first time ever, was a reported usage of 4,000 gallons; I’d never before used more than 3,000 in a month. The details revealed the most likely reason why: the readings, usually 30 days apart, were this time 36 days apart.

Okay, fine, no big deal. Then I look at the actual return slip, and the bill is about half what it usually is. I comb through the details again, and here are two adjacent lines:

REFUSE W/90 GA — $20.42
ADV REFUSE CHG — $40.84CR

They’re refunding two months’ worth of trash pickup? Why? Is this some form of atonement for still not having picked up the late-November storm debris?

Very late addendum: I had tweeted this mystery earlier today, and right before hitting the Publish button, I went back to check the feed. Lo and behold:

Well, I’ll be durned.

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Smaller warnings

Used to be, you’d hear the local sirens going off, and you’d wonder, just for a moment, how far away the threat might be: Oklahoma City spills into three counties — well, four, if you count that tiny sliver of Pottawatomie County — and if there’s an actual warning anywhere in your county, you’d get the Big Blaster. No more:

The important new policy change, adopted Tuesday by the City Council, divides OKC into zones. When the National Weather Service (NWS) issues a tornado warning, only the sirens in zones covered by the warning will sound.

Residents and visitors don’t need to know what zone they’re in, only to immediately take shelter and get more information if they hear a siren.

There are nine zones in the new scheme. It has to be a really farging big storm to hit more than four or five of them.

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Looking at it sideways

“So this,” muses Nicole, “is a real life street sign in Oklahoma City. Real life.”

Well, yes it is:

Corner of Page and Success in northeast Oklahoma City

Not a busy intersection, I’ll admit. (Success Street, sandwiched between NE 19th and NE 20th, runs for about four blocks west starting at Bryant Avenue, interrupted by I-35 north.) Still, you have to view this from the proper perspective. Success isn’t the dead end here; it’s the street that leads away from the dead end, unless you’re headed south on Page, and if you were, you wouldn’t be looking at that sign.

As it happens, I’ve discussed this area before.

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Where it all goes (’15)

The county was a little late getting the property-tax bills out, though of course they’re not going to be cutting taxpayers any slack in getting those bills paid. The actual amount I get to pay is a smidgen higher than last year, due to a small increase in the assessed value and a fraction of a mill added to the actual tax rate. Here’s where all those dollars go, and in brackets, where they went last year:

  • City of Oklahoma City: $124.57 [$120.39]
  • Oklahoma City Public Schools: $476.19 [$462.53]
  • Metro Tech Center: $123.21 [$120.39]
  • Oklahoma County general: $94.03 [$90.78]
  • Countywide school levy: $33.02 [$32.26]
  • City/County Health Department: $20.66 [$20.18]
  • Metropolitan Library System: $41.47 [$40.52]
  • Total: $913.14 [$887.04]

This year’s millage is 114.50, up from last year’s 113.84. (Record millage: 117.58, 2011.) The bank presumably will cut them a check on Monday.

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Let’s have leftovers

This little blurb came with the New and Improved — well, higher, anyway — city utility bill:

The Oklahoma City Council voted in September to devote an extra $8 million for street improvements, addressing OKC residents’ longtime top priority. The $8 million will be distributed equally among OKC’s eight wards. The money comes from a surplus in the General Fund’s fund balance, which has a target range of 8 to 15 percent for unbudgeted reserves.

This leaves said reserves at 13.5 percent, so it’s not like we’re digging deep. Or are we?

The extra $8 million will complement $47.5 million for street, traffic and drainage projects in this year’s budget and $497 million in ongoing streets projects from the 2007 General Obligation Bond.

Oh, and “top priority”? In the last Citizen Survey [pdf], 72 percent of us expressed dissatisfaction with road conditions; no other city services drew even half as many complaints. And hey, at least we’re not in the hole, budgetwise.

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In tune with the universe

Yesterday, yours truly offered this post-commute grumble:

Not quite half an hour later:

The Oklahoma Department of Transportation will present a public meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 6, to provide information and solicit public input on a future project to replace the I-35 bridges over N.E. 63rd St. and to make improvements to the I-35 ramps to westbound I-44 in Oklahoma City.

ODOT will present alternative designs to the public and is requesting input as part of the environmental clearance process before construction can begin. The meeting will include presentation of detailed information and opportunities for the public to ask questions and give input. The public comment period closes Oct. 20.

Reconstruction of the bridges at N.E. 63rd St. and I-35 is scheduled in ODOT’s Eight-Year Construction Work Plan for Federal Fiscal Year 2020. The placement of the bridges is dependent on the preferred alignment of I-35 selected from the study.

Among other things, one of the schemes is to make the westbound onramp to I-44 two lanes, which presumably will reduce the number of doofi who can’t figure out what lane they’re supposed to be in when they start up that new, higher bridge.

Today’s problem, at least, was easily visible: rubberneckers just north of US 62, and some actual rubber in the roadway a few yards beyond.

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Choosy beggars

As long as we’re talking about panhandlers, and we were, not so long ago, here is the encapsulated experience of our man on the downtown streets:

He continues:

I do think our society does way too little and has a poor understanding of issues involving poverty, mental illness and substance abuse. And I will acknowledge that some panhandlers are either poor or struggling with illness or abuse — but I believe they are the minority.

I used to carry a packet of free bus ride tickets, etc. to give to panhandlers who claimed they needed money for transportation, food… The passes, etc., were turned down all but one time — and the guy who took the pass still wanted money.

I have long suspected that some variation on Gresham’s Law was taking place: the truly needy are being crowded out by the scamsters. Not that this would be entirely unpredictable, of course: there is, as I always say, no system that can’t be gamed. Still, a few hardy souls persist:

A year ago today, Calvin was sleeping outside in a tent. TODAY Calvin is sleeping in his very own apartment! Congratulations, Calvin! We are so proud of your hard work! Calvin uses the income he earns from selling Curbside to afford all of his rent and expenses. Thank you Journey Home OKC and OKC Housing Authority for helping Calvin find affordable housing and making this possible. And thank YOU for helping Calvin achieve his financial goals by supporting him through sales. Calvin has worked extremely hard to reach this goal. You can find him selling at NW Expressway and Classen on the daily.

I’ve bought from Calvin before, in fact. And I’d just as soon not see him put out of a job, however tenuous it may seem, just because some people find it easier to beg than to work.

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To be voted off the islands

There were about twice the usual number of panhandlers on, um, duty this afternoon, suggesting that they’re taking this threat from the city seriously:

Proposed restrictions on panhandling are part of a broad effort to attack “explosive” growth in activities that frighten and intimidate many residents, Ward 6 Councilwoman Meg Salyer said Friday.

Salyer said the mayor and six of the other seven council members have signed on as co-authors of her proposal to make it a misdemeanor to panhandle from the median of city streets.

If nothing else, this should be an object lesson in the Law of Unintended Consequences: the existing ordinance prohibits standing in the street to solicit.

The holdout Councilman, should you be interested, is Ed Shadid of Ward 2.

Salyer said she receives complaints “in the multiples every day” about panhandlers.

She said residents tell her their quality of life is destroyed every morning as they drive through the intersection of NW 23 and Pennsylvania Avenue.

“Why should that have to be in our community?” Salyer said. “We can do better.”

The proposed ordinance makes no exceptions for charitable contributions:

Phil Sipe, president of International Association of Fire Fighters Local 157, said Oklahoma City firefighters annually collect about $300,000 to support families affected by muscle diseases.

He predicted donations could drop 75 percent to 80 percent and said it would be a “blow to families” that depend on the money given by the public each year.

Also presumably affected: street vendors of the Curbside Chronicle.

One question remains unanswered still: how do we distinguish the hucksters from the folks who really need help? Or have the hucksters basically pushed away all the competition?

I once suggested that the ultimate solution is purely financial in nature:

[I]nvoke the specter of the Internal Revenue Service. Instead of giving someone a buck, we hand over 60 cents and a 1099-MISC. “By law, we’re withholding forty cents for taxes. Be sure you report this on your return next year.” Odds are, the guy won’t even hang around to get his change, let alone give out his Social Security number.

Then again, what could be more traditionally American than trying to avoid income tax?

Update, 14 September: The Curbside Chronicle responds to the proposed ordinance.

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Irate, you rate

Lead story in the Oklahoman today begins with this anecdote:

When a passing motorist yelled “Road rage sucks” at Oklahoma City police Sgt. Matthew Downing during a January 2014 traffic stop, Downing chased the man down in a convenience store, wrestled him to the ground and arrested him.

A supervisor who soon arrived disagreed with Downing’s use of force and subsequent arrest and released the man.

Police Chief Bill Citty directed the department’s Office of Professional Standards to conduct a criminal investigation into the incident.

In February, Downing pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault and battery and was sentenced to 90 days’ probation. That same day, he resigned from the department, where leaders say he was still under administrative investigation for the incident. Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater said Downing’s guilty plea and resignation were part of his plea agreement, which is typical in criminal cases involving police officers.

Not that I at all object to keeping the police on a fairly tight leash — those rogue cops obsessed with their authority (“Trigger-happy policing,” said Marvin Gaye back in the day) need to be pulled back — but I have to wonder: is it the position of the City, or of the OCPD, that road rage does not suck?

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Rough going here and there

Presenting The Sixteen Worst Roads in Oklahoma City, from this morning’s Oklahoman, page 2A:

OKC street grid

How they got to be The Worst:

In 2007, Oklahoma City passed a bond issue aimed at improving or replacing parts of the city’s infrastructure, including designating almost a half billion dollars to fix some of the city’s worst streets.

Of the 49 stretches of road designated to be repaired more than seven years ago, 16 have been completed and 17 are in construction.

Work has yet to begin on 16 streets.

Note that it’s stuff around the periphery, not urban streets in the middle of town, that seems to need the most work. And there’s a single four-mile stretch that I can verify is truly terrible: sections 14/13/2/11, Kelley Avenue from Wilshire to Memorial, though when I take this route I turn off at 130th, missing the northernmost half-mile. This stretch of Kelley, long ago, was part of the Route 66 alignment through town; it’s now, if you ask me, merely the less-stressful alternative to the Broadway Distention, albeit with nearly as much patch as actual pavement.

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Just a flesh wound

When I spotted him on the street this afternoon, I recognized him almost immediately: he’s the American cousin of the Black Knight from Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

Water heater wearing a traffic cone

I bet his spirit isn’t corroded.

(Full scene on Flickr.)

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Costs and benefits

Actual lunchtime conversation today:

Me: “They’re planning on spending more money on this new jail than on the new convention center.”

She: “The jail, at least, won’t be sitting empty.”

Why, yes, I do have snarky friends.

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