Bid the midway

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Last night my son and I went to the Tulsa State Fair. We spent some time in the Just for Kids attraction in the old Youth Building: He worked with the hands-on science exhibits, he built with wood planks, and we watched a fun science demonstration.

We wandered along the midway looking at the rides, my son trying to figure out how to allocate his ride tickets. He decided he'd rather spend them in Bell's Amusement Park, there on the fairgrounds, since he knew which rides he liked the most. (For the record: Super Round-Up, Pharaoh's Fury, the Scrambler.) I was happy for the ticket revenue to go to Bell's instead of Murphy Bros., the company that's had a sole-source contract for the midway since 1971.

According to Susan Hylton's report in the Tulsa Whirled, Expo Square chief Denny Tuttle is in the process of negotiating a five-year extension with Murphy Bros. on their midway contract, which has never been competitively bid. If our County Commissioners were really looking out for the best interests of taxpayers and fairgoers,
they'd go through a competitive bidding process. Once again this year, many Murphy Bros. rides weren't ready to run at the beginning of the fair because of equipment problems or failure to pass inspection. Last night -- a week into the fair -- we noticed there weren't as many rides as in previous years, and several Murphy Bros. rides were out of order.

A competitive bidding process gives us a chance at a midway vendor with a better safety and reliability record. It could also get us better ride rates. Most rides for big kids and grownups cost $4 or $5 each.

Food vendors and hawkers of miraculous kitchen gadgets are all subject to competition at the fair, but the midway contract grants one vendor a monopoly on a big chunk of real estate in the heart of the fairgrounds. There at least ought to be competition when the midway contract is granted.

The citizens of Tulsa County ought to wonder why so much county business -- who handles a half-billion in revenue bonds, who gets to build a hotel on the fairgrounds, who gets to build a toll bridge across the Arkansas River, who handles land acquisition -- is just given out to favored vendors.

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6 Comments

susan said:

The TULSA WORLD does not publish facts like that.

KEYSTONE CONCRETE gets most of the business when they do street concrete work. Anybody ever check how they win most the city bids? They have on-going complaints on a BOND PROJECT where cracks from less quality concrete or other poor employee work happened. Supervisors on this job did see the cracks within the 12 month time of when the concrete was poured and have done nothing about it. They are running around in circles trying to find the KEYSTONE city contract to make them liable to fix the cracks at Keystone's expense. Over a year, and city workers on this bond project have still failed in quick response to fix the wrong that was done and taking taxpayer money and getting poor quality work.

Sam Roop just happened to get hired when he was a swing voter on the City Council for approx.$90,000 a year. A drastic increase in his City Councilor salary I would say Sam was one happy man when he got that sudden job offer! Sam's salary was in the Tulsa World and so was his desire to get the City to have a conflict of interest in using his new business(was he the only employee on or did anyone ever check how many employees his new business had when he presented that idea) for a work contract while he served on City Council. The hiring of Sam Roop was highly questionable. Who on their H.R. staff posted his job and made sure Sam was the best person for that job with the very best qualifications out of all of the laid off EXTREMELY MUCH BETTER QUALIFIED information technology people looking for work at that time and did the H.R. Director have the knowledge to know who was best in Sam Roop's job? I doubt the City of Tulsa H.R. director posted Sam Roop's job in the Tulsa World, went through all of the resumes and saw Sam Roop's qualifications as being better than all the others. Someone named Terry Simonson or something like that who was quoted in the Tulsa World as being extremely dissappointed with the Mayor's decision to hire Sam Roop because he also seemed to want that job (does he have I.T. skills?)

There should be an on-going list of information like Michael posted above on Batesline website. At least when you ride Bell's rides during the fair, you are supporting a Tulsa business and know their business should be constantly checked for safety.

Jeff Shaw said:

My son was riding a spaceship ride that went up, down and around. It was his first time to ride. About half way around the first go round, he started yelling for the operator to stop. We thought he was just a little afraid. When the ride ended, turns out his seat belt was broken from the fastener at the bottom, and he was trying to get it fixed. We were not happy campers.

weston probst said:

If Bell's moves your son won't have a chance to ride those rides during the fair.....I believe the Tulsa State Fair is the only fair in the country that has an amusement park on the fair grounds.....There is one in Kentucky, but the amusement park is along ways away from the midway....It is a shame that Bell's has to move because the City doesn't want to help to keep them......I agree the midway rides should be put to a competitive bid process......are things like this done in cities throughout the US or is it just a Tulsa thing?

Brad said:

Michael:
Good running into you and your son at the fair. We really enjoyed the draft horse demonstrations.

susan said:

Bell's should be allowed on the bidding process. They could bring in more rides and try out ones they think could be future rides for Bells. At least if someone gets hurt, you would not have the owner of the rides on the midway off touring some other part of the U.S. and make it a nightmare to get your injury case settled
if something bad happened like that.
Bell's should also be allowed to stay as new home buyers have purchased homes around that area for years knowing of the noise the park could make. It's also a nice close place to Driller baseball park and the swimming park. BELL'S also brings in close to about 18,000
people teaming up with KXOJ radio station for the
MERCY ME which even the liberal T.W. newspaper put MERCY ME on the front page of one of their sections advertising when and where they were going to sing along with M.W.Smith. So Bells is
more than just an amusement park. Bells helps bring in business to TULSA and NO DOWNTOWN ARENA
was needed. Park of the fun of the MERCY ME and other singing concert was people buying tickets could go freely for a price KXOJ radio station helped put together like about $25 a person where you could swim a while, ride rides a while then go hear people sing, whatever people wanted to do it was all in the same price for that day.
That speaks a lot of Bells to team up with a very
popular radio station KXOJ and get almost 20,000
people to buy tickets to that particular event.

susan said:

As far as I know, it has been decided that Bells will move their business by the Aquarium and hotel -- by Riverview Crossing where shops are doing fine and there is a mexican restaurant, fondue place to eat, etc. In my opinion, we tried the hamburger place at Riverview Crossing which is like Brownie's but their hamburgers are so tiny, when they brought the hamburger dinners to our table, I thought it looked like a kids meal at adult prices. The waitress also got a couple of orders wrong and the chicken was not
overwhelming either.

Hopefully when Bells does move it will get some rides that people enjoy because they are terrific instead of mediocre old ones.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on October 8, 2005 10:17 AM.

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