Bob Poe: A gift for making enemies


A reader reminded me today that Bob Poe's wild rants against the City Council's Reform Alliance majority are nothing new. It's just the way he does business. His approach to conflict resolution seems to be, "If you don't agree with me, you're evil and must be destroyed."

At the beginning of his term as Tulsa Metro Chamber Chairman, Poe, a lifelong Democrat, attacked Republican state legislators who had taken a pledge not to raise taxes. His tirade puzzled and offended conservative Republican legislators, who are focused on helping Oklahoma businesses prosper. These legislators expected to be working shoulder to shoulder with the leadership of Tulsa's Chamber of Commerce on crucial economic development issues like lawsuit reform and workers' compensation reform. Instead they find themselves dealing with an organization whose leadership is obsessed with raising taxes and boosting gambling as the solution to Oklahoma's problems.

Of course, Ken Neal and the Tulsa Whirled just love Bob Poe's tax hikes, and they love it when Republicans bail on their principles and support feeding more of your tax dollars to a bloated state government:

Poe called on Republicans to avoid signing "pledges" to oppose any tax increase whatsoever. ...

Poe said lawmakers ought to vote for taxes now, and promised he would support any Republican or Democrat criticized for a tax vote or any other
measure the Legislature might pass to help Oklahoma through a rough economic
time. ...

Did Poes public scolding of legislators help? Maybe.

Will the other major chambers in the state follow his lead?

Will they back him and pressure lawmakers to put aside partisan gain
(for once) and work for Oklahoma?

Its hard to say. Its seldom happened in Oklahoma history.

But Poe has certainly given them their marching orders.

Did you catch that? Poe gave the legislators a "public scolding" and gave them their "marching orders." Not private discussions, not cool reasoning, but public scolding. Isn't that the way to get off on the right foot with elected officials? Who could blame a Republican legislator for wanting nothing more to do with the Metro Tulsa Chamber as long as Poe is chairman? Hopefully, for the sake of all the Chamber's members, the next chairman will be able to mend some fences and build a cooperative working agreement with legislators and city councilors. Or perhaps the membership should take action now and rid themselves of a leader who is bringing their organization into disrepute.

(Side note: Ken Neal misidentifies Poe, a lifelong Democrat, as a "solid Republican." Who needs factchecking when the facts are inconvenient?)

There's been a lot of talk about how public "bickering" and harsh words are making the city look bad and frightening away potential employers. But all the harsh words and divisiveness seem to be coming from Bob Poe, the Tulsa Whirled, and other Cockroach Caucus stalwarts like Council Chairman Randy "You're Toast" Sullivan. Meanwhile, the Reform Alliance councilors ask questions, pursue their oversight duties, and work for fairness and oversight with a calm demeanor, and they're accused of "badgering" and "trickery."

Wouldn't the city be better served by Chamber leadership that respected the will of the people as expressed at the ballot box? The people of Tulsa said we no longer want a rubber-stamp City Council. The Chamber leadership and members of the good-old-boy network had the option of reconciling themselves to this change and working in cooperation with the new Council. Instead they are pursuing a scorched-earth policy, and they don't seem to care how badly it reflects on their city.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on September 29, 2004 12:24 PM.

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