Mayor rounds up the usual suspects for street study

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That's a nicer way to describe Tulsa Mayor Kathy Taylor's announcement today that she and Councilor Bill Martinson will convene a "leadership committee to work with them in developing a Complete Our Streets plan for Tulsa's eroding streets issue." She named developer Sharon King Davis and former Councilor Dewey Bartlett, Jr., to head this panel, which will deliver a report by December 1st. According to a breaking news story on the Tulsa Whirled website, Taylor refused to acknowledge that this was the first step toward a tax package for streets.

The response of the first commenter on the Whirled website was rather blunt:

Sharon King Davis will lead the panel? Holy crap, we are doomed.

You'd think Tulsa had a population of 200, and no population east of Yale or north of 15th Street, the way the same people get recycled to head "blue ribbon" commissions.

It is a strange choice. Sharon King Davis is often chosen to be the public face of blue ribbon commissions, but she has no special expertise in streets or roads. She has always struck me as pleasant and enthusiastic, but not terribly discerning.

Two memories shaped my impression of Sharon King Davis as a civic leader.

Davis was asked by her pal Mayor Susan Savage to head up the city's centennial celebration. The City of Tulsa was incorporated in 1898. That date is on our city seal and flag. Those who know enough Tulsa history to be interested in centennial festivities would have known that date and might have planned to visit at that time. But Davis decided to hold all the events in the 100th year, with the finale on the centennial of incorporation in January 1998. That meant that nearly all the celebrations occurred in 1997, a year before expat Tulsans would have expected them to occur. The biggest celebration of all was in September 1997, on a weekend that conflicted with the centennial celebrations of our slightly older neighbor to the north, Bartlesville.

Then in 2000, Davis was head of the Situation Analysis Committee for the Convention and Tourism Task Force. (This was the committee created because the Research Committee -- on which I served -- actually tried to think strategically about how Tulsa could be more attractive to conventions and tourists, rather than endorsing the predetermined conclusion of expanding the convention center and building a new arena. In the end, they made us come up with a plan to pay for proposal that came out of the Situation Awareness Committee.) I remember a public input meeting she led, one of five held around the city. At one point she waxed poetic about Route 66, and how wonderful it was to open a book of historic Route 66 postcards and see one from our very own Will Rogers Motor Court. When it was my turn to speak, I had to break it to her that the motel had been demolished many years previously. It was apparent that she didn't "get" Route 66, just like she acknowledged she didn't initially "get" what the big deal was with this buried car, another effort she was asked to head up.

If the Mayor were serious about applying expertise to the problem, she'd have chosen someone like Jim Hewgley, the former Street Commissioner, who assembled the first "third penny" tax for capital improvements, and who has already been offering some public advice on what needs to be done to get our streets back in shape. There are also some retired civil servants who were involved in street design and maintenance back when our streets were in good shape. They ought to be involved in this process, which ought to include a top-to-bottom financial and performance audit of the city's Public Works Department.

Oh, and wasn't there already a study done that identified a need for about $385 million to bring our streets up to a "C" grade? What can this committee add to that? Why do I suspect that the point of this committee is to relieve Mayor Taylor from having to recommend a tax increase for streets herself?

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sbtulsa Author Profile Page said:

have you noticed how disorganized our taxation is getting?

The county invading the traditional city financing source? a third penny renewal that spans multiple mayor's terms such that "street repairs now" have to be debt finance (property taxes). nowhere to put a permanent dedicated source for police. the county taking sales tax dollars to do projects within Tulsa.

we will pay for this mess for years to come. it started in mayor misfortunes term but Miller and Taylor are steaming ahead with it. the next mayor (or two) will have little or no ability to address problems in their term until time clears up this tax mess.

congratulations Tulsa and Taylor.

JW said:

YAY! I got quoted! The lines right after my quote had me coffee spitting this morning! Good job!

Jeff Shaw Author Profile Page said:

Ms. Taylor will make a great federal bureaucrat one day. (A prediction) However sad to say, she may have already satisfied the requirements of the "Peter Priniple."

webworm Author Profile Page said:

I think we are already being soaked with a sales tax to "fix" our streets. It is obvious that this money is being used for something else. Could it be that it is being used to pay the salaries of Public Works employees who work on other stuff? Nah.....they wouldn't do that!

The A team said:

It might just be Sharon King now. I heard she kicked Coleman to the curb.

fbc Author Profile Page said:

Good grief. It took all of six seconds of listening to airhead SKD gush about the Belvedere ("isn't she BEEEYUUTIFULLL?!!!" No, no, she wasn't beautiful. She's a rusted piece of crap. What are you smoking, woman?) to make me want to claw the ears off my head.

Spare us, please, spare us.

webworm Author Profile Page said:

I love it! SKD......I think that I know the story behing the name, but I won't relate it in polite society.....suffice to say that there are several exxes back in there....somewhere....that's great, SKD!

Webworm, King is her maiden name -- her dad was Ramon King -- and she's married to Coleman Davis. I don't think there's any "story behind the name."

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on September 13, 2007 11:22 PM.

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