Perry opposes creating new river authority

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Encouraging news from new Tulsa County Commissioner Fred Perry, in a January 11 press release:

Due to numerous requests from the media and others, newly sworn in County Commissioner Fred Perry today announced his position on a river authority. “I do not support an additional river authority. The taxpayers and voters elected us, and other elected officials in Tulsa County, to make the hard decisions and I am confident, from comments by many citizens, that they don’t want us to relinquish any of that decision making to non-elected, appointed members of an authority no matter how competent the individuals might be. At a minimum an authority puts an additional layer in place which can slow up the decision making process,” Perry said.

The Tulsa County Commission has, by statute, the responsibility of calling for an election if the county sales tax is to be raised for river development (or any other project such as the 2003 Vision 2025 vote).

“Having taken a stand against a river authority, I want to make it clear that I welcome good advice from any quarter whether that be INCOG, the River Parks Authority and/or Chambers of Commerce. In fact, I look to INCOG for technical advice and evaluation, just as they have been doing with the proposed Channels River Plan. I have met at length with River Parks Authority Executive Director Matt Meyer and have a high regard for his opinion. I have also met with INCOG Executive Director Jerry Lasker and have worked with him during my time in the legislature, and I also have a high regard for his opinion.”

“It has been said that the County Commissioners and the Mayor need help in evaluating any proposed plans. I agree with that but I don’t agree that there needs to be a new authority. I welcome help from any group in evaluating river plans that have been proposed and are expected to be proposed. These could be City Councils, a group of Mayors located in Tulsa County, engineering associations, civic or other groups but I don’t see the need for an authority. And before a plan is put to a vote by the people, I would want public hearings and suggestions for improvement on any proposed plan.”

Perry said that he believed that public money should only be spent on infrastructure that “cleans up the river and the river bank and/or puts more water in the river and possibly other structural improvements to the river itself. If that is done, private developers and philanthropic individuals and foundations will facilitate the development as they would in any private sector endeavor.”

In a related area, Commissioner Perry said, “At the suggestion of Skiatook developer Ron Howell, I visited Branson Landing last October. Shortly thereafter I met with Rick Huffman, along with Commissioner Miller and Mr. Howell, and encouraged him to seriously consider Tulsa. Subsequently he came to Tulsa, toured the river and began talks with the City of Tulsa regarding a site within the City of Tulsa. The Branson project is extremely impressive and something similar would be great for Tulsa whether or not more comprehensive river infrastructure work takes place. I stand ready to help as it relates to any potential development in Tulsa County,” Perry said.

Perry said that he expects to see more river plan ideas come forward soon. He credited INCOG for their previous work in developing a river master plan and the Stakeholders for their time and effort in the Channels and for “re-energizing talk about comprehensive river development.”

Note that next to last paragraph -- a Branson Landing type project on the west bank would be possible without any changes to the river itself.

I was especially pleased to see that Commissioner Perry appreciates the importance of keeping decisions in the hands of those who are directly accountable to the voters. Recall that when the Vision 2025 proposal came before the County Commissioners in 2003, they (Dick, Miller, and Collins) treated the recommendations of the "leadership team" as immutable, even though as the elected authority responsible for putting the propositions on the ballot, they could have put the arena on a separate ballot to stand or fall on its own merits.

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Jeff Shaw said:

I am so happy Fred Perry is our County Commissioner. We had the pleasure of having him as our State Rep. He is a model local politician.

Paul Tay said:

It's time for another County Commisioner to retire.

Twatch said:

I'm stunned, I don't know what to say; a public servant that actually wants to represent his/her constituency’s views. Commissioner Perry
pleeeeeeeease stand your ground, I don't think I could take another flip-flopper.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on January 13, 2007 7:06 PM.

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