Me, Svengali?

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One of the goofiest accusations made in the course of the Fairgrounds annexation debate is that some councilors, specifically John Eagleton, voted for annexation just to make me happy, out of some misguided sense of loyalty.

(Other goofy debating points: I'm for annexation because I have "a bone to pick with the county," and my opinion doesn't matter because I'm not a businessman. Both are ad hominems and neither address the merits of my arguments or the arguments of other annexation proponents. I'll deal with the "bone to pick" in depth some other time, but I will say this: I have never suffered any personal or financial loss or significant inconvenience as a result of a county action -- with one exception. My skepticism about certain aspects of county government is not at all personal, but is grounded in nine years of watching the County Commissioners' actions, particularly the addiction of certain commissioners to non-competitive contracts.)

(The one exception? As a dad, I'm disappointed that my kids won't have an amusement park in town any more.)

There are five members of the Council whom I knew and with whom I was friendly before they became city councilors. If they always did what I wanted, then I would be the uncrowned King of the City Council, a modern-day Robert S. Kerr. But that doesn't happen.

I can think of one vote in particular that was important enough to me that I took the time to come to the Council meeting and speak. It was a zoning case near I-44 in east Tulsa, the part of town where I grew up and where my parents still live. I was there with other east Tulsa residents to ask the Council to deny the zoning request, which would have perpetuated the trashy first impression Tulsa gives to those who arrive by car from the east and northeast. Our side lost, with a couple of my councilor friends voting contrary to my wishes.

If any city councilor listens to me it's not because I can finance their climb up the political ladder. I can't use my massive economic and social clout to ruin them if they crossed me. I can't provide make-work jobs for their relatives. I can't take them to dinner at the Summit Club or for a round of golf at Southern Hills. And to borrow an old blues lyric that Bob Wills borrowed a few times, "I'm not good-lookin'. I don't dress fine. The way I whip it is a hangin' crime."

As was evident last Thursday night, I don't have masses of mind-numbed followers ready to obey my every command. It was pretty much just me and, amazingly enough, Greg Jennings, with whom I have often disagreed in the past, speaking in support of annexation. If the decision Thursday night was a matter of pull, there was a lot more pull on the other side of the issue.

If any of these councilors pays me any mind, it's only because I try to be precise and thorough in what I say about an issue, and sometimes I do a decent job of translating a concept from bureaucratese to plain English.

Bill Martinson certainly didn't communicate with me in composing his rationale in support of annexation. I opposed his first run for office and didn't endorse him in the Republican primary last year. I didn't feed information to the Council staff or the city finance department staff for their thorough research and analyses. Council Attorney Drew Rees did the legal research on the issue of security for the Tulsa State Fair, not me. I had a few conversations with John Eagleton, but I didn't come up with a copy of the Arabian Horse Show contract, or even have the foresight to suggest it to anyone.

If anything, the thoughts I've presented here and in my column owe more to the research and analysis that others did than the other way around. The only original point I contributed to the conversation had to do with the non-financial benefits of annexation, a point that didn't seem to carry a lot of weight in Thursday night's debate. (Which is why my business background is irrelevant to the discussion.)

I guess it's more comforting to annexation opponents to believe that I mesmerized the City Council into bending to my will than to believe that five independent, intelligent councilors came to their own conclusion based on facts and logic, in the face of heavy pressure to set those facts aside.

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1 Comments

XonOFF said:

They did the right thing, based only on the facts.

The County can't seem to get it through their heads it isn't so much about the money as it is them being good citizens of this City.

As I've stated elsewhere, it would be correct even if City revenues were only $1.67.

Councilors have apparently risen to their senses after showing no independent thinking on the EMSA deal.

The County is looking for a scapegoat, and have seemed now to suggest it you, once again incorrectly.

The Kingdom has been cracked and they don't much like the idea.

Now, it's up to Ms. Taylor, which at this point should be a 'no brainer', but she's making into political capital. She's been on the "no opinion" side of this issue all along, so what's keeping her from going with the Council?

A veto would only further disgrace her office.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on April 9, 2007 11:16 PM.

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