Mayor vetoes Economic Development Commission reforms


To the surprise of none and the disappointment of many, Tulsa Mayor Bill LaFortune has vetoed the ordinance reforming the Economic Development Commission (EDC), the city board charged with oversight of the portion of Tulsa's 5% hotel-motel tax which is earmarked for economic development and convention and tourism development. Word is that the Mayor called the ordinance "divisive," presumably because the Tulsa Metro Chamber doesn't like the idea of oversight and accountability for the millions of tax dollars it receives each year.

The Mayor is also reported to have referred to himself in his veto message as a strong and decisive mayor for all of Tulsa. "Strong mayor" appears to mean strong enough to stand up and say a loud no to the ordinary people of Tulsa who are longing for real reform, who expect economic development money to facilitate real job growth, not expensive junkets like the Mayor's recent Chamber-paid trip to Germany and Liechtenstein or the Chamber's trips to Hawaii and Aruba.

I am told that the Mayor refused to meet with Councilor Chris Medlock, sponsor of the reform, prior to issuing his veto.

The Mayor can call himself strong and decisive all he wants, but that doesn't make it so. I'll agree with that assessment when I see him actually do something that earns him the public condemnation of Chamber President Bob Poe and the Tulsa Whirled editorial page. The reforms he vetoed were reasonable and necessary to ensure that the City of Tulsa's economic development money goes to develop the City of Tulsa and is used effectively. The Council's reform proposal would have brought about geographical representation -- no part of our city left behind -- a coherent economic development strategy, accountability, and freedom from conflicts of interests.

Sometimes being divisive means moving forward even when powerful interests disagree, even with four of nine city councilors voted no.

When Bill LaFortune was running for office, he promised to listen to everyone as he made his decisions. The real question, I told people at the time, is to whom will he be listening when he makes his decision. If we didn't know already, we know now.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on November 15, 2004 6:26 PM.

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