Mayor's rubbery knees kill vital discussion about city's future


My blogging has been hindered by the comatose condition of my laptop, but Tulsa City Councilor Chris Medlock is blogging up a storm.

He relates the story of an effort, in the previous council term, by him and then-Councilor Joe Williams to set up a future growth task force, an idea that gained the support of six of the nine councilors. Here was the rationale behind the idea:

Tulsa's growth could no longer run unabated to the southeast because we were now hemmed in by Bixby and Broken Arrow. As such, the City of Tulsa was going to have to find new areas for growth. Areas that were less appealing for numerous reasons (geographic, geological, demographic, etc.) than the suburbs. Therefore, strategies and plans needed to be devised to compete with market forces that would serve to build up the suburbs and cause Tulsa growth to stagnate.

An idea the city needed to pursue -- how do we keep Tulsa growing and competitive with the suburbs? Why didn't it happen? It had the support of Mayor LaFortune -- initially, anyway:

However, the Mayor didn't want to alienate any councilors and was troubled by the opposition being expressed by Councilors Christiansen, Justis and Sullivan. If I couldn't get at least eight councilors to sign on, the Mayor (I was told minutes before a joint press conference announcing the initiative) would withdraw his support.

Please note that I had six councilors lined up in support, which is more than enough to form a council driven task force while over-riding a possible veto. However, new as I was, I realized that in a strong Mayor form of government, any task force created would be only an advisory panel. As such, it would be far less effective, due in part to the fact that it would be more difficult to lure participation from the business community. Developer cooperation was essential if the task force was to have validity.

The ultimate source of the opposition, which kept the Mayor from endorsing the task force, was an organization with a vested interest in making the City of Tulsa a rotten place to live, so you'll want to buy their new houses in the suburbs. After all, if you're happy with your neighborhood, you might stay and they don't make any money. This weekend we learned that that organization is actively supporting the recall.

Someone asked me recently what it would take for the Mayor to regain the confidence of grassroots Tulsans. I said he'd have to be willing to make some tough decisions that will necessarily inflict pain on some very powerful vested interests that are standing in the way of constructive solutions to long-standing problems and conflicts. For too long, he's made a habit of kissing what he should be kicking. If he doesn't want to be a one-termer, LaFortune has to stand up to the likes of Bob Poe and Jay Clemens of the Tulsa Metro Chamber and Josh Fowler of the Home Builders Association, and make decisions that will benefit Tulsa even if it makes them very angry.

Medlock also answers the question, "Are you a terrorist?" in response to the accusation of recall misleader Jon Davidson.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on January 10, 2005 11:31 PM.

Never met a tax they didn't like was the previous entry in this blog.

Angle of Attack: The engineering side of the space race is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.



Subscribe to feed Subscribe to this blog's feed:
[What is this?]