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Will alleged "pot-smoking mayor" debate Shadid on the issues?

Andrew W. Griffin / Red Dirt Report
Ward 2 Councilman Dr. Ed Shadid works on a laptop computer in his mayoral campaign headquarters in downtown Oklahoma City.
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OKLAHOMA CITY – In one-on-one meetings with members of the Oklahoma City media on Sunday afternoon, Ward 2 Councilman Dr. Ed Shadid addressed issues raised in a sensationalized story about the spinal surgeon’s past, including his sealed divorce records and his admitted addiction to marijuana.

With an above-the-fold, screaming headline - “Shadid still fighting to keep past secret” - Oklahoman reporters Nolan Clay and Robby Trammell crafted a hit piece that someone simply reading the headline might think had to do with Shadid’s involvement in a crime spree or some other dubious activity. Rather, upon reading the story, it is clear that The Oklahoman is upset about Shadid's continued refusal to release “voluminous” court documents that were sealed upon his 2007 divorce, something the State Supreme Court so far agrees with.

Shadid explained on Sunday afternoon, in his downtown campaign headquarters, that with three children to think about, he and his ex-wife Dina - who co-parent the children and remained strong friends - did not want the details of their divorce to be released in a public way, in order to protect their two young daughters and one son.

And 45-year-old Shadid is adamant that this current barrage of personal attacks by The Oklahoman – arguably the state’s leading newspaper – is a diversionary tactic by a media outlet bent on preventing Shadid from being the city’s next mayor.

Sunday’s leading story is “a desperate attempt by an increasingly irrelevant newspaper to distract us from the real issues facing the people of Oklahoma City,” Shadid told Red Dirt Report.

And with The Oklahoman clearly in the tank for incumbent Mayor Mick Cornett, Shadid added that this attempt to smear him is an extension of the Cornett political playbook going back almost 15 years.

“There is a track record for Mick Cornett that involves personal attacks and dirty political tactics,” he said, noting Cornett’s politics of personal destruction when it came to previous opponents ranging from Jim Tolbert and Cornett’s “concerns” about him bringing a “gay agenda to Oklahoma City,” to current-Gov. Mary Fallin and her personal life and marital problems.

“(Cornett) wants people’s personal lives to be a distraction from his record and his platform,” added Shadid.

And when it comes to the lives of ordinary citizens in the state’s capital city, Cornett strikes Shadid as somewhat insensitive.

“(Cornett) spoke for an hour at the Urban Land Institute and he didn’t mention poverty one time,” Shadid said. “He didn’t mention social issues, except to say that if we grow our economy, private corporations will be able to donate more to address social ills. That’s the extent of what he said.”

And regarding addiction, something that plagues the lives of many Oklahoma Citians, and something Shadid himself has overcome, Cornett seems to be “out to lunch” on this critical, pressing issue.

“I’ve never, ever heard the mayor talk about it,” he said, referring to the addiction problems facing Oklahoma City. “I don’t have any idea that he happens to know what is happening in Oklahoma City.”

When asked if he would debate Cornett and discuss these problems in Oklahoma City, Shadid said he would be happy to discuss it. But he is not holding his breath.

For instance, there is the issue of income inequality in Oklahoma City. Shadid mocked Cornett’s miserly acceptance of spending only $100,000-to-$150,000 of city funds on non-profits and social programs in Oklahoma City. Asked Shadid: “What would $20,000 mean to a non-profit dealing with domestic violence or the record amounts of physical and sexual violence towards children in the city?”

Shadid is well-aware of The Oklahoman’s long-standing "good ol’ boy" agenda and when he tries to highlight problems taking place in this “Big League City,” he said he gets branded on the editorial pages of that newspaper as antagonistic, divisive and being engaged in “class envy.”

Shadid said, “And isn’t it interesting that it’s only someone who talks about inclusiveness or the dangers to a society facing record amounts of income inequality, and that somehow they’re engaged in class envy?"

Continuing on that line of thinking, Shadid said: “And those who espouse policies that favor one narrow segment of the population are never accused of class envy. It’s always the one who is questioning income inequality or the one who is questioning the lack of inclusiveness. Or the one questioning the concentration of taxpayer investment, that they are accused of class envy or class warfare.”

Add to that The Oklahoman’s record on killing stories that would be critical of certain members of the City Council of Oklahoma City and friendly developers.  Shadid’s “shining light” is causing the proverbial cockroaches to scurry, looking for places to hide.

When asked if he was aware The Oklahoman was preparing to release their story, Shadid said that he first learned about the Sunday piece a few days ago.

“The first I heard of it was Thursday and Nolan Clay, who has never called me before, who has never called and asked any of the questions that he needs to so urgently ask me now, never called me,” Shadid said.

“In fact, he called one elected official and he asked ‘How can Ed keep these records private?'

And the elected official said, ‘Well, what is the emergency, what is the issue?'

And Nolan Clay said, ‘He’s denying a history of drug use.'

And the elected official said, ‘Nolan? Are you sure?’ I’ve talked to Ed a bunch of times about this and he’s out advocating for addiction recovery. Why don’t you just call Ed and ask him?”

When Shadid says this about Clay, it’s with a hint of disbelief.

“And so an elected official is telling Nolan Clay to call me,” Shadid says, flatly.

Shadid says a reporter who doesn’t have an agenda simply picks up the phone and asks the questions. Clay, oddly enough, did not.

“I might say ‘yes.’ I might say ‘no.’ Why not call the person you are investigating and ask, ‘What is your response to this?'”

Asked if he eventually did talk to Clay, Shadid said no, he did not. Clay never called him, prior to Thursday, to get a direct quote.

“The first time I ever saw Nolan Clay was in the Supreme Court. And we shook each other’s hands and that’s it,” Shadid said.

And after doing everything he could to avoid talking to Shadid directly, suddenly, on Thursday, Clay anxiously started trying to find Shadid, seeking a quote. He came by the Shadid campaign office in downtown Oklahoma City, he called Shadid’s city council office, medical office and Shadid’s cell phone. At that point, Shadid didn't take Clay's call - for a reason.

“What Nolan Clay doesn’t say in the article is that he is part of the story,” Shadid said. “He is the one who filed and asked the judge to unseal the divorce records. So, he’s now in an adversarial position in the litigation. So, it would be inappropriate for one litigant to talk to another litigant without counsel present."

“I went and visited Kelly Dyer Fry (The OKlahoman editor) and I asked ‘what’s the urgency’? She said, well, you’re running for higher office," Shadid said. “What Kelly Dyer Fry is saying that if you are running for city council it’s not an issue but if you are running for mayor, it is.” 

Interestingly, Shadid said an unnamed Oklahoman journalist told him that Clay had it in for him.

 “He said that (Clay) and an editor were unethical and were working to produce a hit piece,” Shadid stated.

This line of discussion led to the councilman asking why Clay is covering city politics to begin with.

“They have someone covering the city politics beat, Bill Crum. Steve Lackmeyer writes on downtown stuff. Why is Nolan Clay covering the mayor’s race?” he wondered aloud.

“This journalist was warning me. And there is a long history of unethical conduct by Nolan Clay,” he said, adding that Clay’s wife is the “right-hand person of Attorney General Scott Pruitt.”

So, what is it about Shadid’s campaign that scares The Oklahoman so much? And why are they so hell-bent on pouring over those very personal, private sealed court documents?

The Oklahoman have never said what it is they are looking for,” he said.

In the Clay/Trammell story, a sidebar features seven questions that they had hoped to ask Shadid, given the opportunity. Among them are: “Why did you assert your Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination?” and “When was the last time you used marijuana?”

 Said Shadid: “You don’t need to unseal every page of a divorce proceeding to answer those seven questions.”

Red Dirt Report reached out to Nolan Clay seeking comment. We have yet to receive a reply.

It’s at this point in our sit-down interview with Shadid turns the conversation back towards Mick Cornett and an issue, while nearly two years old, has popped back into relevancy.

Shadid discusses a YouTube video taken during the New Year’s Eve 2011 bash hosted by Oklahoma City singer/musician Wayne Coyne and his psychedelic rock band The Flaming Lips.

The guests at that years’ party were Yoko Ono and her son with the late John Lennon, Sean Lennon. The Plastic Ono Band is also present on the stage as Coyne, the colorful frontman, gleefully tells the screaming audience that their “friend,” Mayor Mick Cornett “secretly, in his own home, smokes marijuana …”

Coyne continues - before the band breaks into a rousing rendition of the late Beatle’s “Give Peace a Chance” - to say that Cornett’s proclamation that day – making that day “Yokoklahoma City Day,” in honor of Yoko Ono’s presence in the city on a holiday – was made “by your very own pot-smoking mayor.”

Outside of a local blog, The Lost Ogle, Shadid said the media – and The Oklahoman, in particular – have looked the other way on the mayor’s alleged drug use.

“It does seem like there are two sets of rules at The Oklahoman,” he said.

Continuing with the New Year’s Eve 2011 incident, Shadid says it’s all very bizarre.

“So, (Coyne) is standing next to (Yoko Ono) and saying, ‘hey, we were with the mayor yesterday and he smokes – which I would interpret to be plural, meaning he smokes more than once – he smokes marijuana secretly in his living room and look here’s a proclamation from our pot-smoking mayor. I mean that’s within the statute of limitations for prosecution,” Shadid said.

“I’ve never seen any denial by the mayor. Where is the denial? I mean you appointed (Coyne’s wife) Michelle Coyne to the (MAPS 3) Parks Subcommittee. And there’s a Flaming Lips Alley now,” Shadid said. “Is drug use from somebody who has clearly been in an addiction-recovery program for a decade (relevant) … are the details of drug use of somebody who has been sitting on the council more relevant, to this degree, and we’re on the front page of the newspaper, than active drug use by the sitting mayor while he’s mayor? This is Rob Ford 2.0. You’ve got the sitting mayor of Oklahoma City engaged in criminal conduct.”

“If Wayne Coyne, in front of thousands of people, said ‘Um, I was with Ed Shadid yesterday and isn’t it cool we have a pot-smoking councilman from Ward 2?’ He would get a call from my attorney the very next day and we would have a sit-down and there would be a public apology and there would be a public (statement) that that is inaccurate. Or, he would be facing immediate litigation. That’s what I would do, if somebody said that standing in front of thousands of people and standing next to Yoko Ono.”

“In this city, which is being overrun by addiction, you’ve got (Coyne) talking about criminal conduct by the mayor and thousands of people laughing and cheering … is that proper for a mayor to not make a statement? Denouncing that kind of statement?” asked Shadid.  “The mayor’s lack of denial … and I find it curious that The Oklahoman is not at least asking the question.”

Red Dirt Report did tell Shadid that we asked Wayne Coyne, via his Twitter account, to talk more about his experiences with out “pot-smoking mayor.” We have yet to hear back from The Flaming Lips’ frontman.

We also emailed Mayor Cornett and his Chief of Staff, Steve Hill, seeking comment about the statements made by Wayne Coyne regarding his alleged drug use. So far we have not received a reply.

So, with all the attention Shadid has been receiving, Red Dirt Report asked how his children are holding up.

“They were tearful and fearful when they first heard that these records might be released,” he explained. “But we continue to talk about it and they seem to be most concerned that somebody at school might bring something up or make fun of them. But, we’ve continued to talk about it and they seem to be doing well. They were very happy when the Supreme Court intervened.”

And now that he is patching up his relationship with his ex-wife, Shadid said they talk nearly daily.

“We’ve got a great relationship,” he said. “That’s one of the things I’m really proud of.”

Red Dirt Report again asked about any scheduled debates between he and Cornett.

“I don’t think the mayor wants a debate,” Shadid said. “But I’d love to be pleasantly surprised. I think televised debates would be very healthy for the city. The Tulsa mayoral campaign, had three of (debates). And Mick Cornett has been in office for approaching 13 years. He’s a veteran, a former sportscaster, he should do very well in that setting. The problem he will have, of course, is his record. He cannot get around that.”

And the issue of addiction comes up again in the conversation. He says this is a discussion Oklahoma City cannot afford to ignore.

“There are some real benefits to the city if we can talk about the prevalence of addiction, that there are rehabilitative solutions that work, that we can diminish in any way the stigma and shame with the disease of addiction. Those are all very healthy discussions for us to have as a city.”

The mayoral election in Oklahoma City is on March 4, 2014.

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Andrew W. Griffin

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Andrew W. Griffin received his Bachelor of Science in Journalism from...

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About Red Dirt Report

Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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