Honoring Don Nickles at Lacy Park

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I'm at the Lacy Park rec center, on Virgin St. west of Peoria for a reception honoring former U. S. Sen. Don Nickles. The event has been organized by the 2100 N. Owasso Block club, in gratitude for Nickles' help in resolving environmental problems caused by inadequate sewage infrastructure in the area. The reception will be underway shortly and continue until 3 - a chance for you to express your own thanks to Sen. Nickles for his quarter-century of public service. It's also a chance to meet dedicated neighborhood activists like James & Bernice Alexander and Sam Berry, staunch allies in the struggle to make city government work for all Tulsans, not just a favored few.

Also, they're serving food, and it smells really good.

UPDATE: That good-smelling food was homemade smoked beef brisket and turkey, of which I ate way too much. There was some sort of security issue that delayed the senator and in the end prevented him from attending, but the tributes from neighborhood leaders were videotaped to be sent to him later, and it was still a good time.

I should mention for out-of-town readers that Lacy Park is in a predominantly black and predominantly Democratic part of Tulsa, so it might seem remarkable that a conservative Republican senator would be honored here, but it reflects Don Nickles' dedication to fair treatment for all his constituents, whether they voted for him or not. The area had terrible problems with aging infrastructure -- raw sewage backing up into the park, homes, and schools, and brown-tinged tap water. City Hall, then under Democrat Mayor Susan Savage, wasn't doing anything at all to help, so neighborhood leaders went to Sen. Nickles' office.

As Bernice Alexander tells the story, the senator couldn't believe things could be as bad as they were described to him, but they had documentation ready for him, and his response was that no one should have to live with such a mess. He put his staff to work, and the result was Federal oversight to ensure that the City dealt with this environmental hazard -- new interceptor lines, a new sewage treatment plant, new water lines. The determination of the neighborhood leaders and the diligence of Nickles' staff under his leadership saved the neighborhood.

In the absence of the Senator, I was asked, as an officer in the county Republican Party, to speak on his behalf. For all of his well-known accomplishments -- his years in the Senate leadership and his work on landmark legislation -- I know he'd be pleased to know that his work and his staff's work on this neighborhood issue was remembered and appreciated. While I'd rather see local issues handled by local government, this was a case where local government neglect was endangering the health of citizens of this city, and I'm glad that the Senator stepped in.

I'm glad I came. This event is another example of how the walls of suspicion between parties and races and different parts of town are coming down. People are realizing the root problem is bigger than whatever neighborhood issue that first brought them to City Hall in search of help. Democrats and Republicans are coming together to seek for fairness, integrity, and accountability in government. The people who have been using city government for their own ends ought to be very nervous.


Al Nichols said:

It was nice to hear that Senator Nickles finally did something good. He campaigned for the idea of term limits but once elected, he never uttered the words again. His worst non performance was his total disreguard for the military retirees. He championed the creation of a military cemetary in Oklahoma; however, he did very little otherwise except to hasten our premature internment there. Often he was the only Oklahoma legislator who refused to support bills that dealt with restoring military benefits that were removed by previous congressional action. His stock answer to the many letters he received was: "I will keep your views in mind".

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on March 19, 2005 1:40 PM.

More about last night: Let cooler heads prevail was the previous entry in this blog.

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