Recall phone survey: whodunit?


I have received confirmation from multiple reliable sources about the source of the funding for last weekend's automated phone survey targeting the five Tulsa City Councilors who comprise the bipartisan Reform Alliance majority. The clear intent of the calls was to identify voters who would be willing to sign a recall petition to bring down one or more of the reformers. The ultimate goal appears to break the Reform Alliance majority, and replace it with a majority which will preserve the special deals and special privileges that have dominated Tulsa city government over the past two decades.

I have been told that the phone calls were funded by the Home Builders Association of Greater Tulsa (HBA). They've decided to target Councilors Chris Medlock and Jim Mautino, and the only thing that would get them to stop is if the Council confirms the reappointment of Jim Cameron and Lou Reynolds to the Tulsa Metropolitan Utility Authority (TMUA) board and approves funding for a new water line to Owasso and a feeder water line to Sperry. The message has been passed on to the councilors in question. (I am told that Council Chairman Randy Sullivan is the message boy.) Needless to say Councilors Medlock and Mautino and the rest of the Reform Alliance have too much character and courage to go along with what amounts to extortion.

What we appear to be seeing is an attempt to overturn the City of Tulsa's election results because the City Council majority is looking out for the interests of Tulsa. Whoever is ultimately behind this wants to continue to control Tulsa's water supply to their own financial benefit. In all likelihood, they've been joined by those who want to derail the investigation of the airport in order to protect their business interests. It appears to be a coup d'état funded and led by people who believe that the City of Tulsa should be their own cash cow.

Why would the Home Builders Association be involved in this effort, especially when the two councilors in question have been strongly supportive of extending infrastructure and encouraging new development in east and west Tulsa?

Here are some interesting facts and figures about the home-building industry in Tulsa: According to HBA's February 2004 newsletter, 87% of new homes built in the greater Tulsa area in 2003 were built outside the City of Tulsa. The home builders have largely abandoned the City of Tulsa -- even the parts of the City of Tulsa in suburban school districts -- for greener pastures (literally) beyond our city limits. The best interests of the suburban home builders and the City of Tulsa don't coincide. Increasingly, these new suburban homes are at the upper end of the market, which means that they're luring new residents in the upper income brackets, and high-end retail is bound to follow, with sales tax revenues in tow.

The President of HBA for 2004 is Greg Simmons (here's the press release announcing his installation.) Simmons is president of Simmons Homes, an Owasso-based company. Here's a map showing where Simmons Homes is building -- primarily in the Owasso area, plus some developments in Jenks and Broken Arrow, nothing at all within the boundaries of the City of Tulsa. You could understand why a water line to Owasso would be of considerable benefit to his business.

Josh Fowler is the HBA's executive director. Fowler is a resident of the City of Broken Arrow. Earlier this year he participated in a secret meeting of anti-reform Councilors on zoning and development issues. Under Fowler's leadership, the HBA and other companies involved in real estate and development have become increasingly political, contributing in races in Tulsa and Broken Arrow. For the most part, the Tulsa Real Estate Coalition (TREC) backs candidates with ties to the Cockroach Caucus.

Simmons Homes and Pittman-Poe (Tulsa Metro Chamber Chairman Bob Poe's development company) were both involved in the development of the Battle Creek residential golf community in Broken Arrow. Originally the land for the development was split between the cities of Tulsa and Broken Arrow, but developers pushed to have Tulsa deannex its portion and allow Broken Arrow to annex it.

What are they after? In keeping Cameron and Reynolds on the TMUA, they want to continue the TMUA's focus on funding water lines at a low rate of return, to sell water below market rate to fuel the development of the suburbs. The Sperry and Owasso water lines are a part of the same plan.

The Council's Reform Alliance majority doesn't want to cut off water to the suburbs. They don't oppose increasing water sales to the suburbs. They simply want to ensure that there is a good rate of return on new infrastructure and that the suburbs pay fair market value for the water they buy from the City of Tulsa. They want to put a priority on infrastructure for areas within Tulsa's city limits that are not served (like far east Tulsa) or underserved (older areas of the city with insufficient capacity for modern needs). These are reasonable concerns, and we should be glad we have a City Council majority looking out for the City of Tulsa and its taxpayers and water ratepayers. Will Tulsans stand by while outside forces try to hijack our water system? And why are the "Bought and Paid Four" -- Councilors Baker, Neal, Sullivan, and Christiansen -- apparently unwilling to stand up for Tulsa's best interests?

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on September 26, 2004 9:11 PM.

Find the forger was the previous entry in this blog.

Randy Sullivan: "You're toast" is the next entry in this blog.

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