Who is Bob Poe?


Robert C. Poe is the current Chairman of the Tulsa Metro Chamber, who has gained attention recently for his denunciation of the Reform Alliance majority on the Tulsa City Council. He is the owner of Community National Bank and Trust Company, Poe & Associates (a civil engineering firm), Penterra Co., and Pittman Poe and Associates, Inc.

Poe is a lifelong registered Democrat and an outspoken advocate of higher taxes, such as a gas tax increase (to build roads that would create work for his engineering firm), as well as the proposed tobacco tax that would eliminate city sales taxes on cigarettes, hurting the City of Tulsa and other local governments. That's probably why the Whirled editorial board praises him for his tireless efforts lobbying the Legislature.

Poe & Associates has a website. Among other fields, they do engineering for municipal water projects.

Pittman Poe is in the business of developing golf courses and residential developments around them. They've developed Battle Creek in Broken Arrow and Bailey Ranch in Owasso. According to land records, Bob Poe owns 425 acres of undeveloped land between Avant and Barnsdall in Osage County and another 80 acres of undeveloped land within the Broken Arrow fenceline in Wagoner County. Could that 425 acres be Poe's next golf community? And wouldn't it be helpful to be able to tie into Tulsa's water system at the expense of Tulsa's ratepayers?

On KRMG last week, Poe denied having been involved in any development within the City of Tulsa, but in fact Poe was principal investor in 31st & Memorial LLC, which in the mid '90s developed the hotel and office park just east of the junction of I-44 and the Broken Arrow Expressway.

In his introduction of the Mayor's State of the City address, Poe also claimed that the Council's hesitance to condemn the Denver Grill was costing $10,000 a day because of delays to arena construction. This was later refuted by both the Vision 2025 Sales Tax Overview Committee and by Paul Zachary of the City's public works department. In a blatant attempt to rewrite history, a Tulsa Whirled editorial then denied that the $10,000 a day claim had ever been made.

Many Chamber members are embarrassed by the spectacle Bob Poe has been making in recent weeks, first at the State of the City address and this last Thursday in his speech to the Tulsa Press Club. Poe's attacks on the Council are very poorly timed, given that the Council is looking at a reform of the way the City oversees its contract with the Tulsa Metro Chamber for economic development services. Perhaps he is trying to intimidate the Council, to ensure that we won't ever know if city tax dollars are going to pay for trips like last week's Chamber junket to Aruba. The Aruba trip, like last year's trip to Hawaii, was a reward for companies that provide in-kind services to the Tulsa Metro Chamber -- for example, Cox Communications, which donates air time to the Chamber. It's a pretty high-handed thing to do -- pay for a luxury trip for about 80 people to a tropical island at a time when unemployment is still high, and the Chamber still has no idea how to bring back the high-tech jobs we lost.

Poe's verbal attack on our elected city representatives is an insult to Tulsa's voters, and it seems to be motivated by a desire to stop the Council majority from reforming city government to serve all Tulsans, not just a favored few. Poe's behavior is embarrassing, and it makes our city look bad. Public officials and chamber members ought to distance themselves from his remarks.

Perhaps members of the chamber should start a recall effort of their own to replace Mr. Poe before he does any more damage to the credibility of their organization.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on September 27, 2004 1:30 AM.

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