The following letter was sent to a number of Tulsa political leaders, including the Democratic and Republican county chairmen, back in June, at a time when Boeing emerged as a hot issue, and Mayor LaFortune, among others, floated the idea of putting Boeing and American incentives on the ballot, while putting the rest of the "vision process" on hold. Many people were counseling that putting a big tax package on the ballot, while the economy was still in a downturn, would be inviting a huge defeat at the polls -- better to go ahead and deal with Boeing and American, do whatever visionary projects that could be done without raising taxes, and give the economy a chance to improve before asking for more tax money from the public.

The signers of this letter indicate their displeasure with that line of thinking, but they do so in a very indirect and restrained way. But the intention is clear if you read between the lines. Someone who read this described the tone as "passive-aggressive." Some of the signatories have been significant donors to political campaigns. The signers may be dropping hints about the likelihood of future contributions; at least that's how some of the recipients interpreted it.

(Emphasis added.)

June 20, 2003

Dear [political leader]:

As local business leaders, we strongly support the commitment to revitalize our region through the Vision 2025 process. Nothing has determined the shape and tenor of the Tulsa area more than the willingness of concerned citizens to focus their talent and energy in crafting sensible initiatives to move our city forward.

Over the past 11 months, Mayor LaFortune and Commissioner Dick have conducted a grassroots effort to adress the complex economic challenges faced by our region. The result is a bold and necessary plan that serves as a platform of opportunity to unlock the potential of the Arkansas River, among others. This initiative will stimulate substantial investment, create new and better jobs, grow our small business sector and elevate the quality of life for all our citizens.

Despite the economic downturn and high unemployment, recent polling of Tulsa County voters indicates a majority of citizens want to move forward with a regional revitalization effort, funded by a penny increase in the county tax. In addition, recent developments with Boeing and strong indications of private investment for select projects add considerable value to the package and broaden the base of support. Still, with or without Boeing, the package of projects under consideration of the Leadership Team needs to move forward at this time.

Tulsa's vision is not limited to just building projects, but human capital as well. The OU Clinic will have an estimated economic impact of $1.5 billion and 700 new jobs over 15 years. OSU's Advanced Technology Research Center is estimated to generate $120 million to $150 million in revenues and salaries over the next 15 years, and $400 million in additional contract business. The Tulsa Regional Convention Center project will generate an estimated impact of some $33 million annually and $4.1 million in state and local tax revenues each year! Expo Square Phase III improvements will allow us to attract more than $30 million annually in new livestock/equestrian events to the community.

Delay and political divisiveness will only deny our region the social and economic opportunities inherent in solutions outlined in Vision 2025, and will accelerate the decline of a city at the crossroads. Tulsa's one strategic advantage may be its ability to move from envisioning to enacting a better tomorrow.

As major employers, we want you to know that we, the undersigned, stand in strong support of this strategic vision to ensure the Tulsa area prevails as a competitive, high-quality region in its next era and ask for your support.



Ron King, Chairman, CEO & President
BlueCross BlueShield of Oklahoma

Paula Marshall-Chapman, Chief Executive Officer
Bama Companies, Inc.

Stanley Lybarger, President & CEO
Bank of Oklahoma

David Kyle, President & CEO

Ed Keller, Chairman & CEO
Bank One, Oklahoma

Joseph E. Cappy, Chairman & CEO
Dollar Thrifty Automotive Group, Inc.

Steven J. Malcolm, President & COO

The funny thing is that when this was written, there was no public or complete Vision 2025 plan. Two competing plans had been leaked, and the list of projects was changing on a daily basis. It's obvious which projects are most important in the eyes of the signers.

They should release the studies that justify their estimates of return on investment. Interesting that OU and OSU are each supposed to get $30 million, but the OU project is estimated to bring in 10 times the value of the OSU project. That suggests to me that the only reason OSU has a project is because OU got one.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on July 29, 2003 6:02 AM.

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