Tulsa County audit on KJRH news tonight


Tonight on KJRH's 10 p.m. newscast, they'll air a story by reporter Glenn McIntyre on last year's audit of the Tulsa County Industrial Authority (TCIA) and what's being done to correct the problems that the audit uncovered. (KJRH is on channel 2 over the air, on channel 9 on Cox Cable.) Glenn interviewed me and at least one of the county commissioners for this story.

The TCIA is a trust created under Title 60 of the Oklahoma statutes, and among other activities, it issues revenue bonds to pay for county capital improvements. For example, TCIA issued bonds to be repaid by the Vision 2025 sales tax, to allow work on projects to proceed before the 13-year sales tax had generated sufficient dollars. The TCIA is governed by a board consisting of the three county commissioners. Hundreds of millions of dollars pass through the TCIA.

I'll withhold further comment until the story has aired. I appreciate KJRH's initiative in looking into this issue. I've often complained that local TV news departments ignore local government stories in favor of redundant coverage of national stories or local stories that have visual appeal. I give KJRH great credit for pursuing this story and showing the same kind of initiative on a number of other stories recently -- for example, looking at F&M Bank board member contributions to city councilors who were considering the bank's rezoning application.

UPDATE: The audit, which was issued last summer by a local CPA firm, said there isn't any fraud, but there are checks and balances and safeguards missing that leave the system vulnerable to fraud, abuse, and mismanagement. County Commissioner Wilbert Collins said that there's nothing for people to worry about, that plans are in the works to fix the deficiencies, and said (more or less) that we can trust the commissioners to do the right thing.

They used one brief quote from me, that even some proponents of Vision 2025 expressed concerns about putting this much money in the hands of county government. In a part of the interview they didn't use, I pointed out that opponents to Vision 2025 expressed concern about the lack of safeguards, and that Oklahoma county government, which is one-size-fits-all, was designed for paving rural roads and keeping land records, not for handling half a billion dollars.

Glenn McEntyre put together an excellent report, and I appreciate his efforts and the efforts of KJRH to put this issue in the public eye.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on March 28, 2005 5:34 PM.

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