Not partisanship but principle


Ken Neal's Sunday editorial in the Whirled is such a grab bag of misstatements, distortions, and selective memory that I can't hope to answer it all before I leave for church, but I will at least start the process.

Ken repeats his often stated conviction that the Tulsa Project defeats in 1997 and 2000 were all about partisanship -- Republicans trying to prevent Democrat Mayor Susan Savage from enjoying a victory:

Yes, a new events center and money to refurbish the old assembly center have been voted down twice, once when Republicans sought to beat Democrat Susan Savage by trashing her program for a new center, and once when then Tulsa Congressman Steve Largent came out against the proposal virtually on election eve. Both elections were close but bound up in partisan politics.

The 1997 election wasn't at all close -- the No vote was over 60%, and the areas of strongest opposition were traditionally Democrat areas on the north side and west side. Of the three City Councilors who opposed the project, two were Democrats (Darla Hall and Joe Williams), and one was Republican (Sam Roop). The other three Republicans on the Council backed the tax, as did Governor Frank Keating. The leadership of the Total Tulsa Coalition, the committee opposing the sales tax increase, consisted of Democrats, Republicans, and Independents.

The vote was closer in 2000 (52-48), but hardly razor thin. Once again it was traditionally Democrat, working class areas that gave the biggest boost to the opposition, while strongly Republican areas gave the sports arena sales tax the most backing. Largent "came out " in opposition only to the extent that he answered truthfully when asked in a radio interview how he planned to vote. He never actively campaigned against it.

In 2000, there were fewer Democrats in active leadership of the opposition, but former Councilor Darla Hall campaigned against it, as did NAACP leader Jack Henderson. Many Democrats who had led the opposition in 1997 were still opposed, but said they could not speak out, because they had business with the city or for some other reason needed to remain in the good graces of Her Honor The Mayor. The word went out that disloyalty would be punished. The same bully brigade is at work this year; more about that in a later entry.

The Republicans who opposed the Tulsa Project sales tax in 1997 and again in 2000 did so out of principle, not partisanship, and you will see most of the same people opposing the same package again this year, even though we have a Republican mayor and a majority of Republicans on the County Commission. Jim Hewgley III, former streets commissioner and a leader of the opposition to this sales tax increase, was an early supporter of Bill LaFortune for Mayor, but because he believes this is the wrong tax at the wrong time, he'll oppose it. Ron Howell is a Republican leader, served on the Mayor's transition team, and headed up the Mayor's performance review of city government. He has come out in opposition to this package, not for political advantage -- his opposition is grounded on principle.

Ken Neal has been telling the same comforting fairy tales for the last three years to himself and the rest of the decrepit downtown establishment -- just get it on the ballot one more time, under a Republican mayor, and it will pass. So why is your sports arena polling in the 30 percent range?

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on July 13, 2003 9:01 AM.

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Route 66 -- what's in the plan? is the next entry in this blog.

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