Archive for City Scene

Turn here, or somewhere

Not geared toward the tourists, anyway:

I wasn’t here when the townships of Oklahoma City and South Oklahoma were merged, way back in 1890, but the ironclad grid we have today wasn’t quite so griddy back then:

One of the most compelling shots is from Day Three — the 24th of April, 1889, two days after the Land Run — showing rows of tents (there were no permanent structures yet) seemingly knocked out of position along the sides of the rudimentary street. This was a legal matter: two different townsite companies were platting the place, and their survey lines didn’t quite match. For decades thereafter, north-south streets downtown had a noticeable “jog” at Clarke Street, later Grand Avenue, now Sheridan Avenue.

Which says something, since the nearest section-line road is Reno, two blocks south. Six miles north of it, at Wilshire Boulevard, there are jogs even today. Six miles south is the Cleveland County line.

(Via Dustin Akers, who used to live in these parts.)

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A mayor to be named later

“It’s been pretty steady,” said an official at the precinct when I arrived to cast my ballot for Mayor of Oklahoma City. The place was empty at the time, so it must have been steadily slow. Ballot #169 went into the box at almost precisely 5 pm. I’ve seen worse, but not much worse.

(For those keeping score: we use paper ballots, optically scanned. I don’t think anyone in this town would prefer that fancy computerized stuff.)

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Promised once more

From November 2006, a revelation from Ward 2 Councilman Sam Bowman:

NW 50th from Pennsylvania to May, one of the more wretched stretches of pavement in this town, will be scraped off and resurfaced in 2007.

Which it was. But it didn’t last:

Sixteen critical street resurfacing projects are the first projects to be funded by the MAPS for streets sales tax extension approved by voters in September.

In a nod to politics, the initial list contains two projects in each of the city’s eight city council wards.

And sure enough, right here in Ward 2: “NW 50 from N May Avenue to N Pennsylvania Avenue.” It’s not quite as bad as it was a decade ago, but it’s legitimately terrible. (The other one, 36th from Western to Penn, is also pretty dire.)

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Twice in a millennium

A 500-year rain, by definition, has a 0.2 percent chance of occurring in any given year; it does not mean that occurrences are 500 years apart. How much water would that take? From the Sunday Oklahoman:

For Oklahoma City, the following rainfall amounts would be considered 500-year rainfall events, according to Gary McManus, state climatologist, who referenced a report prepared by the U.S. Geological Survey:

  • 2.6 inches of rain in 15 minutes.
  • 3.7 inches of rain in 30 minutes.
  • 5.2 inches of rain in one hour.
  • 6.8 inches of rain in two hours.
  • 7.6 inches of rain in three hours.
  • 8.4 inches of rain in six hours.
  • 9.6 inches of rain in 12 hours.
  • 12.5 inches of rain in 24 hours.
  • 14.8 inches of rain in three days.
  • 15.5 inches of rain in seven days.

I’m pretty sure I’ve seen the first three of these, and maybe more, during the 40+ years I’ve lived here. Example:

11.26 inches recorded on 6-14-2010 at a station 6.1 miles north of downtown Oklahoma City.

That’s almost certainly the OKC North Mesonet station. The “official” total for that day was 7.62 inches at Will Rogers World Airport, where the National Weather Service takes readings.

Yours truly reported at 8:53 am that day:

I think we can kiss that record goodbye. One of the Mesonet stations in town has already made it up to 8, the others aren’t far behind, and it’s still raining. The office ranges from 0.5 to 4.5 inches of water inside. Jesus Christ could walk through the parking lot, but He’s just about the only one.

On the upside, this served as a test for my new $10,000 roof, installed a few days before.

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Where it all goes (’17)

Every year about this time, Butch Freeman, the County Treasurer, dispatches the property-tax bill, and this year it varies hardly a whit from last year or the year before. As is the custom in these parts, a breakdown of where everything is spent accompanies the bill (last year’s numbers in [brackets]):

  • City of Oklahoma City: $123.21 [$120.39]
  • Oklahoma City Public Schools: $479.27 [$482.54]
  • Metro Tech Center: $124.74 [$125.29]
  • Oklahoma County general: $91.64 [$96.57]
  • Countywide school levy: $33.43 [$33.65]
  • City/County Health Department: $20.91 [$21.05]
  • Metropolitan Library System: $41.98 [$42.27]
  • Total: $915.19 [$922.07]

Somewhere this got rounded up by a penny. This year’s millage is 113.35, down a pittance from last year’s 113.43. (Record millage: 117.58, 2011.) The actual value of the palatial estate at Surlywood, per the Assessor, is within a Benjamin or two of a hundred grand.

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For me and my gallons

When I got home yesterday, a 4×6 card was stuck in the doorway, bearing the official OKC seal and the following notice in LARGE PRINT:


Well, yeah, since there wasn’t much of anything else on that side.

What was going down:

A field representative from the Oklahoma City Utilities Department changed out the water meter at this address today. The meter was changed out as part of the City’s standard preventative maintenance program.

Hmmm. I’ve been here for a few days short of 14 years. How long does a water meter typically last, anyway? An Australian government site says “about ten years.” So maybe this one was due.

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Braum’s backs down

Braum’s Inc., operator of about 300 ice cream and dairy plus neighborhood markets in this part of the world, came up with the notion of scraping off a semi-historic building along the old Classen Circle and replacing it with #301. I thought this was a bad idea:

I think potential customers will pass it by, mainly because access is difficult: if you miss it the first time, you’re going to have to loop for more than half a mile, or you’re going to end up on Interstate 44. I can’t imagine a local firm not knowing these issues, so I suspect this is someone at Braum’s HQ who is shocked — shocked! — that there is drinking going on in those establishments.

Braum’s has now withdrawn its proposal for the new store. Ward 2 Councilman Ed Shadid reports:

Braums has withdrawn its application. Thanks to all those who resisted and fought for what is unique and special in OKC. This is what brings us together as a community and makes our city great. Thanks also to Braums for making the socially responsible decision. Almost no one thought it probable that the protesters would win (including myself); let’s all remember that as we look to other ways to improve our lives and city. Thanks to Pete Brzycki and for originally discovering [the] plan through open records request and giving us a chance. Next step is to find a buyer for the properties (one has publicly offered) and restore the properties. Now my kids and I can eat frozen yogurt at Braums again!

Brzycki has long been an astute observer of the scene, even during the period when he didn’t live here.

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Turning up for turnout

There is, I decided, not a whole lot of emotional gratification in the absentee ballot; mostly, it reminds me that I am old and infirm. And frankly, passing in front of a mirror tells me that every stinking day.

So I betook myself to the actual polling place and hiked (well, with the walker) about 50 feet uphill. A guy in a Cox truck stared at me in disbelief. “Where’d you park?”

I pointed to my car, six spaces away.

“You want me to move your car up here?” “Up here” was along the side of the building, adjacent to the one officially marked handicap space.

“I’ll be all right,” I said.

He nodded — this is not something anyone wants to argue about — and grabbed the door for me.

And at about 5:03 pm, I started on the three pages of ballot. I’d pretty much made up my mind beforehand, so I really didn’t need to read all that legal verbiage. And the machine responded with 1024, 1025 and 1026; assuming everyone filled out all three pages — there’s no reason to assume otherwise, since there’s one poll worker dedicated to the task of handing you all three of them — I was the 324th voter.

Incidentally, the person in front of me was a long-legged young woman in a short leg cast; as I was leaving, a gentleman about my age arrived in a wheelchair. Had I had any doubts about what I was doing, I would have felt vindicated right about then.

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On the ballot tomorrow

They’re asking for a whole lot of money, as usual:

  • Ordinance No. 25,750: A new quarter-cent sales tax, effective Jan. 1, 2018.
  • Ordinance No. 25,751: A temporary, 1-cent sales tax to begin Jan. 1, 2018, and expiring April 1, 2020, to fund capital improvement projects.
  • Proposition 1: A $490.56 million bond issue for street construction and repair projects.
  • Proposition 2: A $26.795 million bond issue for bridge construction, repair and rehabilitation projects.
  • Proposition 3: A $27.585 million bond issue for the construction, repair and maintenance of traffic control equipment.
  • Proposition 4: A $60 million bond issue for economic and community development, including job creation programs.
  • Proposition 5: A $137.72 million bond issue for construction, expansion and improvement of city parks.
  • Proposition 6: A $23.91 million bond issue for the construction of a new library and remodeling, equipping and improvements at existing libraries.
  • Proposition 7: A $20.185 million bond issue for renovations, furnishings and improvements at buildings in the Civic Center Complex.
  • Proposition 8: A $20.395 million bond issue for upgrades to the city’s transit system, including the purchase of buses and improvements to bus stops.
  • Proposition 9: A $13.085 million bond issue for expanding, renovating and improving the city’s Central Maintenance Facilities Complex at SW 15 and S Portland Avenue.
  • Proposition 10: A $62.17 million bond issue for improving and equipping the city’s drainage control system.
  • Proposition 11: An $8.865 million bond issue for repairs, renovations and improvements at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
  • Proposition 12: A $30.84 million bond issue for the construction of a new Police Training Center, to be a part of a new combined Police-Fire Training Center.
  • Proposition 13: A $45.35 million bond issue for the construction of a new Fire Training Center, to be a part of a new combined Police-Fire Training Center.

I expect all the bond issues to pass, since nobody will notice how they’re paid: through a small levy as part of the property tax. Over the years, the city has made an effort to keep that levy at or below 16 mills; it is currently 14.81 mills.

The MAPS 3 sales tax ends 31 December 2017; this new penny would kick in the next day. So the only “new” tax is that quarter-cent, which is intended to pay for more firefighters and police officers. This is over and above the 0.75 cent currently levied for public safety. Should both sales-tax measures pass, the combined state and city sales tax will rise to 8.625 percent.

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I don’t think it helped

Still, kudos to whoever it was at ODOT who came up with this warning sign:

Drive safe or we will hide the sun

(Via KFOR-TV.)

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Something’s going on in the Paseo

About a decade ago, I met architect Brian Fitzsimmons. (At his house in SoSA, if you care.) The man definitely goes his own way. And I’m always curious when he plans a restaurant.

Drawing for new Frida restaurant in The Paseo

OKCTalk has the scoop:

Work is set to start soon on Frida, a new restaurant and bar to be constructed on a vacant lot at the south edge of the Paseo Arts District.

The proprietor is Shaun Fiaccone of Humankind Hospitality Service which also operates Picasso Cafe and The Other Room in the Paseo.

The design by Brian Fitzsimmons features modern Spanish Revival architecture to complement the surrounding structures and includes 4,386 square of enclosed space along with a 698 square foot outdoor courtyard sheltered by a trellis and 989 square feet of outdoor patio.

Fitzsimmons Architects has designed some of Oklahoma City’s more stunning restaurants, such as Hatch, Broadway 10 and both Sidecar locations.

Haven’t been to Sidecar, but I know Broadway 10 and Hatch well enough.

Now about that name…

The name Frida is an homage to Frida Kahlo the Mexican painter.

I should have thought of that. But instead, I went Swedish:

Anni-Frid Synni, Princess Reuss of Plauen, was either the first or the last A in ABBA. Not sure it matters which. (She’s now seventy-one, which seems impossible.)

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Watering holes to be dried up

The weirdly-shaped building where 50th meets the no-longer-circular Classen Circle is about to be replaced by More Fast Food:

Braum’s Ice Cream and Dairy Stores has filed plans that show the demolition of several historic structures near the old Classen Circle.

The company acquired a small house next to the HiLo Club, Drunken Fry and Classen Grill in 2015.

They have filed to rezone .48 acres which is all the properties bound by Classen, NW 50th and Military Avenue and documents show plans to raze all existing buildings and construct a new Braum’s.

Also on this block: a beauty salon and a record store. This is not any kind of historic or otherwise-special district, so as far as the city’s concerned, it’s just a matter of zoning.

Oklahoma City Twitter has been denouncing the plan all day, typically like this:

Personally, I think potential customers will pass it by, mainly because access is difficult: if you miss it the first time, you’re going to have to loop for more than half a mile, or you’re going to end up on Interstate 44. I can’t imagine a local firm not knowing these issues, so I suspect this is someone at Braum’s HQ who is shocked — shocked! — that there is drinking going on in those establishments.

If they must put up a new Braum’s, let them put it in Kansas City. The demand is there.

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A high point in town

This gorgeous private home on the city’s northeast side was on the 2014 Architecture Tour:

Mass Home on Persimmon Hill

At the time, I said:

Up on Persimmon Hill you’ll find the National Cowboy Museum, Coles Garden, and this five-acre plot, which used to be occupied by a small 1920s cottage, expanded a few times, and then rebuilt following the December 2007 ice storm. Somehow the place looks both traditionally rural and up-to-date suburban, which I attribute to the fact that they didn’t raze the original storm-damaged structure, preferring to incorporate it into the new one.

It is Bad Form, I think, to speculate on “What is this place worth?” at the time you’re getting a peek at the inside. But three years later, they’ve sold it — for $890,000.

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Spiteful? Us?

Found on the City of OKC Instagram account:

Sports Illustrated cover with Kevin Durant being recycled

I think they’re sending a message right there.

(Via Adam Kemp.)

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A lot of nowhere to go to

I-44 from Lake Hefner Parkway to I-35 is three lanes wide in each direction. This is the first time I’ve ever seen five lanes blocked:

A busy metro thoroughfare was narrowed to one lane each direction for the majority of the afternoon Wednesday following a semi rollover.

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol reports that at approximately 12:48 p.m. June 14 multiple lanes of both eastbound and westbound Interstate 44 are blocked near the Kelley exit following a crash semi rollover.

Authorities say the semi traveling eastbound rolled over throwing copper wire onto westbound traffic. A motorcyclist was transported to the hospital after striking the wire. A third vehicle was struck in the crash along eastbound traffic.

It was actually worse than that: when I came through at 4:45 pm or thereabouts, all three westbound lanes were blocked, and traffic was forced onto the shoulder. They were still picking up the wire, and I’m sure I’m not the only person who was asking “What the actual fark is that on the road?” There seemed to be one lane open on the eastbound side, but traffic was backed up to beyond Western (two miles). Grateful am I that apparently no one did anything stupid during our exile from the roadway, unless you want to count flooring it once past the accident. (Would I stomp the pedal under those conditions?)

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There seems to be a theme here

See if you can figure out what it is:

Bacon Restaurant, Oklahoma City

Sean Cummings, who used to run an Irish pub at this location, has decided that what we really want in this town is bacon. Lots of bacon.

Today's Bacon

Did I say lots of bacon?

Even the drink menu comes with bacon. The Bacon Whiskey Smash comes with Whiskey, bacon, simple syrup and mint. Or if you’re in the mood for a good Bloody Mary, they have a bacon one too.

Oh, and seven bucks will get you a Bacon Cheesecake for dessert.

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How much do we lose?

We’re learning more about the nascent Oklahoma City streetcar system. For one thing, it won’t run on Sunday, at least at first, unless there’s something like a Thunder game going on. I blame this on Embark, the local transit agency, which couldn’t be persuaded to run any actual buses on Sunday for many years.

What I’m really curious about, though, is how much they expect to lose on this shiny new toy:

Based on ridership estimates from around 2013 and taking the upper range of those estimates, the streetcar could have just under 500,000 riders per year.

Herzog Transit Services of Irving, Texas will be operating the system, and will be paid $3.2 million for the first year. So each ride will cost something like $6.40. No way, of course, is anyone going to be expected to drop six bucks in the fare box:

Fares would be expected to offset 10 to 11 percent of the operating expenses once the system is established.

So, 75 cents a trip, then?

Herzog also operates the Kansas City streetcar system. It runs seven days a week and riders are charged, um, nothing. What are we doing wrong?

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Waiting in your breakfast line

It’s probably been a fairly long time since any kid in Oklahoma City Public Schools felt stigmatized over qualifying for free, or even discounted, lunch; for several years now, the majority of OKCPS students have thus qualified.

And next year, all of them will:

Officials announced Tuesday that next school year, all 44,000 students will be eligible for free meals at every school site, via USDA’s Community Eligibility Provision.

Free meals had been provided at 55 sites, now adding an additional 23 sites. Officials said the initiative is funded through the Community Eligibility Provision, a USDA Federal Program that subsidizes meals for schools and school districts in low income areas.

CEP will help feed nearly 44,000 students in the school district by serving free nutritious breakfasts and lunches. Officials said the program will reduce administrative paperwork previously required for eligible students, thus allowing schools to focus on preparing and serving good foods.

This is probably expensive, but undernourishment exacts a pretty terrible price of its own, and I’d just as soon not ask the kids to pay it.

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Mathis hard

The Saturday Oklahoman contains a list of city building permits, and this was at the top yesterday:

Building permit. 5-6-17

Anyone who’s watched more than twenty minutes of television in this town in the last thirty years will recognize that address as the headquarters of Mathis Brothers Furniture:

In 1960, the Mathis brothers, Don and Bud, revolutionized the furniture business with everyday low prices, which meant customers didn’t have to wait for a “sale.” As they said at the time, “we took a little less, so our neighbors could have a little more.” The concept was a spectacular success, helping Mathis Brothers become one of the largest independent furniture retailers in America.

When Don and Bud started their store, they were southwest of downtown, on Western south of Reno. The trip to the suburbs was more or less inevitable.

They’ve since grown to four locations, two in Oklahoma and two more in Southern California. Still, it boggles the mind to contemplate a remodel of a furniture store that costs nine million dollars.

And current spokesguy Rit Mathis, grandson of one of the original Mathises, started a blog back in 2012, but apparently hasn’t had time to maintain it. He also enjoys egg status on Twitter.

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Not Palm Beach

This was tucked into the back of the Real Estate section of Saturday’s Oklahoman:

2309 Marjorie Lane 73099

Obviously, this house is not on the Florida coast: it’s in Oklahoma City, far enough west to have a Yukon (73099) ZIP code. I had no idea this addition even existed.

Plat of Mar A Lago addition, Oklahoma City

And apparently it hasn’t for too awfully long. (Plat thanks to Jason Powers Homes, which built this house.)

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A disappointment I had expected

Still, it flattened me more than I thought it would: today was the annual Architecture Tour, and it was the first one I’ve missed since 2006. It wasn’t that the price had gone up or anything; it’s just that I can’t manage more than about a dozen steps before going woozy, and besides that, getting in and out of the car seven times is a horror in its own right.

I suspect that I’m also going to have to shelve any lingering ideas I might have had for World Tour ’17, presumably some time in the fall when I would have earned some vacation time, having burned up all my 2017 summer days last summer in so-called Recovery Mode. As slowly as this recovery is going, I may never leave town again.

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Kindness misplaced

Like Alfred E. Doolittle, he’s one of the Undeserving Poor:

Several months ago my elderly neighbor allowed a homeless young man named Anthony to live in his garage in exchange for work around the yard and allows him to make modifications to the garage to make it more livable. The neighbor did this out of the kindness of his heart and has a reputation for helping those less fortunate. He is involved in AA and recovery and hoped that by providing Anthony a place to stay and work to keep him busy, plus his guidance. He might be able to influence Anthony and help him to get clean from Alcohol and Drugs.

Sadly, as is the case many times. Anthony is not ready to get clean and sober.

Anthony has not only continued to use drugs, Anthony now has a homeless young lady, also doing drugs, living with him in the garage now as well as frequent visitors doing drugs.

The garage was meant to be a temporary condition to to give Anthony time to get on his feet and get clean. Instead it has given Anthony a level of stability that allows him to do even more drugs.

And worse than that:

The elderly neighbor cannot make Anthony leave. Because he has allowed Anthony to stay there. Anthony now has rights. Anthony has to be served by a Oklahoma County Sheriff with a 30 day eviction notice. Anthony know this, because he has pulled it in others before.

So now the elder gentlemen is a prisoner in his own house until such time as we can get this all sorted out proper through proper legal channels.

This is apparently happening about three miles from me. I’m not at all sure what, if anything, can be done about it.

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The doctor prescribes Debussy

One exchange from Steve Lackmeyer’s weekly chat on

Do you ever want to scream?

My mother would have appreciated that: “Clair de lune” was the only melody I ever heard her play on the piano.

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A change of hands and feet

The late Aubrey McClendon’s last enterprise, American Energy Partners, decided last year to liquidate, which prompted this question from me: “What happens to that supercool fitness center the company owned?”

Now we know:

The intricate dance to allow professional dancers, young students and their parents to fit into Oklahoma City Ballet’s 8,000-square-foot building won’t be necessary much longer.

The nonprofit organization announced Wednesday that [it] is acquiring two facilities that will help it expand its mission of bringing high-quality classical and contemporary dance to Oklahoma City.

The organization is under contract to purchase the former American Energy Partners Fitness Center, 6800 N Classen Blvd., and convert it into the new home for the professional company, its administrative offices, and its school, The Dance Center of Oklahoma City Ballet.

In addition, Chesapeake Energy Corp. recently donated the current OKC Ballet building, 7421 N Classen Blvd., to the arts organization. It will become overflow for dance classes and house the company’s costume and prop shop.

Next production is The Sleeping Beauty, music by Tchaikovsky (via the OKC Philharmonic), beginning a week from today.

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Saturday spottings (it Hast to be)

It began with a message from Jennifer Hast:

Alright, this is stupid. Let’s get together in real life. It should have happened already by now.

What are you doing this Saturday evening?

Well, yeah, I suppose it should have. I mean, we’re here in the same (almost) town, and we’ve traded imprecations for some time.

And so:

No, not that. Don’t be rude. Jennifer and hubby Michael and the resident teenager and an old friend descended on Fassler Hall in Midtown, to find this here old guy in a walker. Once I got my head around the fact that several of my medications prohibit things like beer, we spent about four hours getting to know one another and swapping improbable stories that nonetheless were totally true. Brewskis were ingested (not by the teenager or by me), and several pictures were taken. (The Hasts have matching Nikons, because reasons.) The food was highly non-nourishing and therefore delicious; I had their version of a Chicago dog (pickle, sport pepper, tomato, onion, yellow mustard, neon relish, celery salt), which was great fun, not especially neat, and reasonably priced. The atmosphere, of course, was boisterous, but hey, it’s Saturday night.

A splendid time was had by all, and we will have to Do This Again someday.

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Where it all goes (’16)

The property-tax bill has arrived, and it’s marginally higher than last year, owing to a marginally higher assessed value. As always, the County Treasurer duly sends out a breakdown of what is paid to whom, and I reproduce it here for future reference (last year’s numbers in [brackets]:)

  • City of Oklahoma City: $120.39 [$124.57]
  • Oklahoma City Public Schools: $482.54 [$476.19]
  • Metro Tech Center: $125.29 [$123.21]
  • Oklahoma County general: $96.57 [$94.03]
  • Countywide school levy: $33.65 [$33.02]
  • City/County Health Department: $21.05 [$20.66]
  • Metropolitan Library System: $42.27 [$41.47]
  • Total: $922.07 [$913.14]

This year’s millage is 113.43, down from last year’s 114.50. (Record millage: 117.58, 2011.) I’m not complaining.

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A fan to the end, and beyond

There’s something different about one of the 168 chairs at the Oklahoma City National Memorial this week:

Chicago Cubs jersey on an OKC Memorial chair

It’s just what you think it is:

The family of a lifelong Cubs fan killed in the Oklahoma City bombing is helping their loved one celebrate the team’s World Series victory.

After the Cubs snapped their 108-year streak to win the 2016 World Series, Sara Sweet adorned her father’s memorial chair with a Cubs’ shirt.

Sweet’s father, Stephen Williams, worked for the Social Security Administration and was killed in the 1995 bombing. Williams was a lifelong Cubs fan and Sweet reports one of her favorite memories of her late father is gathering to watch the Cubs on TV.

I found this gesture moving, though admittedly your mileage may vary.

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You’re not getting enough fiber

Google Fiber, once believed to be coming to OKC, is apparently not coming to OKC:

Google parent company Alphabet has halted its plans to expand fast Google Fiber internet service to Oklahoma City and other cities throughout the country, the company confirmed Wednesday.

“Going forward we’re focusing on new technology and deployment methods to make superfast internet more abundant than it is today,” a Google Fiber spokeswoman said in a statement. “For now, that means we’re going to pause our operations and offices in Oklahoma City while we refine our approaches. We remain grateful to the city electeds and staff, and especially the communities, for their ongoing partnership and patience, and we’re confident we’ll have an opportunity to resume our discussions once we’ve advanced our technologies and solutions.”

Fiber guru Craig Barratt, then CEO of the Access subsidiary, did not explain, but perhaps this has to do with an earlier acquisition:

The future of Access, to a large extent, seems to lie in wireless. Access purchased the internet provider Webpass in June, giving it the technology to begin deploying over-the-air gigabit internet to homes. In theory, it provides the same service that fiber would, but without as many deployment hurdles.

What I want to know, of course, is whether this will delay Cox’s rollout of Gigablast.

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Saturday spottings (battened up)

About 9:30, the Oklahoman’s Steve Lackmeyer rang my doorbell, not because I’m in any way newsworthy, but because he’d scored an invitation to Hatch, a new breakfast/brunch outfit in the north end of the Buick Building downtown (10th and Broadway), and they allowed him a guest, and he thought I needed cheering up. (Which, to be perfectly honest, I did.) Hatch, a new place from Provision Concepts, opens officially on Monday, so this could have been considered beta testing of a sort. I think they’re ready to go live: my request for “the tallest possible orange juice” brought a large cylinder full of juice squeezed in the last couple of minutes, and the entree — chicken-fried steak with little unexploded hash-brown bombs and two eggs, scrambled, was just dandy. The service was enthusiastic without being annoying. If you’re going for breakfast downtown, consider this a recommendation.

We then spun around various districts in town where things were changing, and a few where they weren’t. I’m not the reporter guy here, but I think I held up my end of the conversation pretty well. And I pointed out some things not even the mighty Lackmeyer had seen before, including this:

There’s a current sign on the opposite corner, but this one has somehow survived from antiquity. (The cross street is Northwest 50th.) Like the Spanish Inquisition, no one expects this sort of thing.

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Such a different deal

I reported on the 26th of July:

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.

About thirty days later, EMSA reissued the bill. This time, instead of $0, it was for $1,324. I of course got on the phone, and I have to assume that the weary clerk had been through a lot of this before. “We cover whatever your insurance doesn’t,” he said. “We had to send this bill to justify trying to collect from them. Don’t worry, you won’t be out of pocket.”

I have now heard from CFI Care (not its real initials), which paid them $683.81, based on God only knows what. The EOB shows nothing owed to the provider, so I’m guessing that this is yet another case of Soak The Uninsured.

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