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Councilman claims Devon executive chairman was force behind contentious campaign

Shadid calls Nichols’ involvement ‘not particularly democratic.’

Clifton Adcock July 19th, 2011

In the first regular Oklahoma City Council meeting since a contentious one two weeks prior, Ward 2 Councilman Ed Shadid asked that the council begin the process of healing some of the discord it has experienced.

edshadidmugEd Shadid

Shadid also stated during today’s meeting that one of the most powerful men in Oklahoma City was behind a much-criticized election campaign and held sway over many of the important decisions made in the city. Shadid named Devon Energy Executive Chairman Larry Nichols (pictured below) as one of the driving forces behind this year’s City Council elections.

During the election, an incumbent — former Ward 5 Councilman Brian Walters — was attacked by an independent expenditure group named Committee for Oklahoma City Momentum, for which money was funneled from the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber’s Forward IV program through a nonprofit group. Nichols is listed as Forward OKC vice chair, according to the chamber’s website.

Momentum also went after Shadid in its campaign, and backed opponent Charlie Swinton.

“That campaign was very cynical. It rewarded one candidate for being liberal and progressive, and then chastised another for being liberal and progressive. It wasn’t that somebody was spending all that money because they believed in that particular political ideology. Something else was at play,” Shadid said. “Many people who are in a position to know are indicating that the primary ideological and financial force behind this campaign was Larry Nichols.”

A Devon spokesman said Nichols was unavailable for comment.

‘Benevolent plutocracy'
Shadid said Nichols, who sits on multiple public boards and subcommittees, wields an enormous amount of power, and expressed concern that it was not good for a democracy that only a few high-powered individuals make decisions that affect everyone.

“Everyone indicates Larry Nichols is a very good man who deeply loves Oklahoma City, that he for me personally would be a tremendous ally for building density and walkability and a healthy city, but he and the people around him are engaging in policy making the way a surgeon does surgery: They’re telling everyone what to do and then executing,” said Shadid, a spinal surgeon. “It’s not particularly democratic. You can have a benevolent plutocracy, you could agree that what he is doing is best for the city, but it’s still a plutocracy and not a representative democracy.”

Read more in the July 27 issue of Oklahoma Gazette.

Read about Larry Nichols’ chairing of the Alliance for Economic Development of Oklahoma City.

Read about which two groups paid for nearly half of all donations in the recent Oklahoma City city council elections.

Read about Ed Shadid's successful grassroots strategy that won him the Ward 2 seat.

Read about Oklahoma City Momentum's aggressive attack ad campaign.

More about Oklahoma City Momentum.

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07.20.2011 at 07:24 Reply

I am a sixty-two year old retired teacher trying to survive and thrive in Oklahoma City, a city that is not friendly to folks like me.  I am getting to the point where I don't feel safe driving anymore, but we have one of the worst bus systems in the U.S., and they have intentionally destroyed our multi-million-dollar rail hub at Union Station, so I must continue driving.  Oklahoma City is a wonderful, multicultural city.  We have thousands of people like me who love nature, who want gardens and a few chickens in a portable coop in the backyard.  We want the city to provide tornado shelters and a system that lets is know where the nearest public shelter is when a tornado is approaching.  We want a city council that listens to us.  But they don't, for the most part.  They are listening to Larry Nichols.  And Larry Nichols does not ever have to listen to us.  So we are just here to pay taxes and watch while they waste our money and destroy the things we love the most, like Union Station Railyard and the places where Jimmy Rushing sang, Charley Christian played, and Roscoe Dunjee wrote the Black Dispatch.