Is Ken Neal the only sore winner?


Over on Tulsa Today, David Arnett has published an analysis and response to Ken Neal's "Blurred Vision" column in last Sunday's Whirled. Arnett takes the view that Neal is merely venting his own spleen. In this view, Neal's screed doesn't represent the views of a larger group of powerful Tulsans who, rather than being satisfied with their recent conquest of the taxpayer's wallet, are bent on revenge against those who opposed or were publicly neutral on the tax grab.

From the BBC to the New York Times major news organizations seem to be having trouble with honesty and spin, but no real journalism organization anywhere would have published Tulsa World Editorial Pages Editor Ken Neal’s Sunday September 14 piece titled, “Blurred Vision.” Like a skunk at a dinner party, it does not represent any Tulsa constituency, but the singular twisted view of an embittered dinosaur. ...

It is an enemies list that Neal produced Sunday. Why would he do such a thing? His beloved Vision 2025 propositions passed. Does he have no personal or professional sense of graciousness or tradition of good sportsmanship? His personal attacks on public figures are counter-productive to civic harmony and humiliating for Tulsa in the eyes of Americans who believe in honest public debate.

This writer and publisher supported Vision 2025 writing several major pieces and daily answering questions in the City Talk Forum. Never-the-less, opposition voices of diverse views are respected by Tulsa Today as they are by Mayor Bill LaFortune, the County Commission, and the majority population of Tulsa. ...

Does Ken Neal have a base? Would any Tulsan claim to be a Neal party loyalist or faithful follower of anything he may write? Likely no more than his "direct report" employees, but if anyone in the metropolitan area would like to express devotion to Neal, please use the Tulsa Today City Talk Forum. If he represents any number of humans, it would certainly be a cultural sub-set previously undiscovered. ...

The battle lines drawn from Neal’s imagination clearly demonstrate a preference for totalitarian government. It is an “elitist versus the rest of us” attitude that stinks of corruption, bigotry, and pure evil. Only an editorial writer who considers himself “bulletproof” could have been so openly small-minded and it speaks volumes of Tulsa World Publisher Robert E. Lorton, the ultimate responsible party and single constituent of Editor Ken Neal’s work.

Arnett addresses himself to Neal's specific attacks on north Tulsa voters (highlighting Neal's thinly-veiled racism), the political parties, and County Commissioner Randi Miller. But I want to call attention to the assertion that runs through Arnett's analysis: The idea that Ken Neal is alone in his biliousness, influencing no one, representing no one, and that the real victors of the September 9th vote -- the Mayor and the County Commissioners -- have respect and goodwill for those who opposed the tax. I hope he is right, and we will see soon enough whether these officials seek out the counsel and participation of the loyal opposition or continue to ignore them as they did during the final stages of the "vision process".

In the last paragraph, Arnett seems to contradict his own thesis. Ken Neal must have at least one loyal constituent, one powerful figure who shares his views -- namely his publisher, Robert Lorton -- otherwise the editorial would never have been published. Neal may not command masses who hang on his every word, but neither can I believe he is an original thinker. I suspect that his words are reflections of the prejudices and passions of the circles in which he travels, circles that include Tulsa's most powerful, the sort of people who pressured Tulsa legislators and political leaders into remaining silent on this issue.

The elected officials and business leaders who supported Vision 2025 should publicly and explicitly disown Ken Neal's venomous ranting, or we can only assume that they share his views.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on September 21, 2003 6:22 PM.

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