Will the vision process be derailed?


The Tulsa Now! coordinating committee, of which I am one member of about 20, sent a bluntly-worded open letter to the Dialog/Visioning 2025 Leadership Team. The letter was released to the media and received some immediate reaction. Here's how it begins:

Dear Regional Leaders,

Tulsa faces a defining moment. We are about to make decisions that determine our regional prosperity for a long time. The stakes are high.

Please don’t blow it.

Last July, an unprecedented 1,100 citizens gave a resounding thumbs-up to a ‘Visioning’ process. City and County leaders collaborated — and listened — as 287 project proposals were submitted, many from the grass roots. That process now seems in jeopardy....

What prompted the letter was the concern that the Leadership Team would abandon or jeopardize the vision process in focusing on luring Boeing's 7E7 final assembly plant to Tulsa. There have been rumors that everything else may be put on hold while this proposal is being pursued.

KOTV phoned Jamie Jamieson and asked him to come down for an interview. Jamie is a fellow Tulsa Now! coordinating committee member and a proponent and practitioner of the New Urbanist approach to urban revitalization. Jamie phoned me, and I joined him down at the station. I used the drive downtown to condense and organize my thoughts into soundbites.

They interviewed us up on the station roof, with the downtown skyline looming in the background. We made different but complimentary points. I said that I had been active in the vision process, and that I was also involved in the process leading up to "Tulsa Time", the arena sales tax defeated in 2000. As in 2000, it appears to me that a good process is about to be derailed by the Leadership Team, breaking faith with the 1100 who turned out for the Mayor's vision summit last summer, and the many more who submitted ideas to the process this spring.

The Leadership Team seems to be jeopardizing the process in three different ways: (1) By focusing on the potential of aerospace manufacturing jobs from Boeing and American Airlines, the Leadership Team may fail to give due attention to retaining and adding high-tech jobs, which are key to our city's future. Aerospace manufacturing jobs are good things, but we can't afford to put all our eggs into one basket. (2) The Leadership Team is ignoring grassroots concerns about increasing the regressive sales tax when so many are unemployed and underemployed. (3) Some on the Leadership Team are pushing for the same old project, like an arena, when there are other projects, not as ostentatious, but which can have a greater impact on our city's livability and attractiveness at a much lower price. An arena might be a great thing down the road, but it is not the highest priority right now. All these things jeopardize public confidence in the vision process and jeopardize a positive outcome.

They used a sound bite from Jamie at 6 o'clock, and one of me at 10. They didn't display my name over my picture, and after my sound bite, anchor Scott Thompson referred to me as "Jamieson", amalgamating my comments and Jamie's and blaming (or crediting) him with all of them. Thompson credited "Tulsa Now" as an organization with the notion that including the arena in the package was a problem. I know that not all Tulsa Nowers share my perspective on an arena -- some consider it to be poison to the vision process, some think it would be a good thing -- that it isn't the most important item on the list of projects, but it wouldn't be a deal-killer.

It is the way of the TV news -- you have no control over how they edit you, and while I'm always happy for the opportunity to speak to the vast audience, it seems some key detail always gets mangled in the process. Print media does the same thing. I cast no blame -- but that's why I have a blog. I get to be my own editor.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on June 18, 2003 11:36 PM.

All our eggs in the aerospace basket? was the previous entry in this blog.

Tulsa's high-tech brain drain is the next entry in this blog.

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