Tulsa Now forum


Did you miss me? I've been catching up on work, sleep, life, and yard work the past few days.

Thursday night was the Tulsa Now Dialogue on Vision 2025. The yeasayers were represented by Karen Keith of the Mayor's Office and Paul Wilson, president of Twenty First Properties. Paul was on the Dialog / Visioning 2025 Leadership Team. Former County Assessor Jack Gordon and I represented the opposition to the sales tax.

When I arrived Karen was reviewing what appeared to be a script with Lee Gould of Schnake Turnbo Frank, the PR firm handling the vote yes campaign. It looked to be about 20 pages, in big bold capital letters, the kind of script that TV news anchors read from. Sure enough, when it was time for the vote yes side to make an opening statement, Karen stood up and read the whole thing. Most people can't get away with that, but as an experienced broadcast professional, she read with energy, and she read it as quickly as possible, but it took at least 10 minutes -- twice as long as the time allotted.

There were about 100 people packed into the room. It was clear by the Vote Yes lapel stickers that most of the people present had their minds made up. There were a few friendly faces in the crowd, including my wife and parents. Before we began I steadied my nerves by mentally singing through "A Mighty Fortress".

I'm going to write in separate entries about some specific issues that came up, but in this entry I'll mention a couple of overall themes. The vote yes side kept returning to the phrase "jobs, education, economic development". I saw the PR guy nodding and smiling every time Paul or Karen uttered that phrase -- "Ah, yes, they're staying on message."

As for our themes: I said that this sales tax proposal is not the culmination of the vision process, but a detour and a distraction from it. Jack spoke eloquently about the impact of this regressive tax on low- and moderate-income families, and the fiscal irresponsibility of a plan that will cause us to pay $200 million in interest, money that will leave Oklahoma to pay bondholders. We both spoke about opportunities to fund the most important projects without raising sales taxes.

One question that really got to me: "If we don't pass this on September 9, what does Tulsa have that would make any company want to locate here?" I said that whoever asked this question must be stuck in Tulsa against his will. I love this city, I chose to return here after college, and it has wonderful qualities and wonderful people. It disappoints me to hear people expressing despair about our city, and the vote yes crowd trying to feed that despair. Later it brought to mind that old Rodney Dangerfield line -- "I was such an ugly baby that my mother had to tie a steak around my neck just to get the dog to play with me." Do people really think Tulsa is such an awful place that we have to offer hundreds of millions of cash and build an arena so that companies will like us?

More later.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on August 9, 2003 6:17 PM.

Sand Springs is having a history contest! was the previous entry in this blog.

No exciting concerts and no big conventions in OKC is the next entry in this blog.

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