KOTV on why the river tax failed

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You may have missed this, as did I when it first aired last Wednesday: A KOTV story which looked at polling data from a week before the election to explain why the Tulsa County river sales tax increase failed at the polls. There's a snapshot showing the reasons given by people who said they oppose the tax:

29% no more taxes
23% other priorities / fix streets
34% private donors should pay for all of it
10% no confidence vote

The story quotes Oklahoma City-based pollster Bill Shapard:

But the way that got spun by the no side was, if he's going to put up all that money, George Kaiser, why doesn't he just pay for all of it. And so while I think George Kaiser and his generosity was the greatest asset for the yes campaign, it also became their greatest liability.

I don't know of anyone on the no side who "spun" that, much less spent much time talking about the pledges by Kaiser and others. I may be wrong, but I don't recall seeing anything on the No River Tax website along those lines. My take on the pledges was that $282 million was a lot to spend for a free gift. The donors have a right to decide to whom, for what, and under what conditions they spend their money, but the voters needed to focus on the tax they were being asked to pay and the projects it would pay for.

It did surprise me how many people volunteered to me an opinion similar to that poll result. Most often it took the form, "If they're going to give that money, why not use the money to pay for the dams instead of these 'gathering places'?" Almost always the idea was "the dams instead of the parks" rather than "the dams and the parks."

I'd be curious to know exactly how the question was asked and how the results were tabulated, as that can make all the difference. Were voters allowed to give more than one reason for voting no, or were they asked to give the most important reason? Were voters given a list of reasons to pick from, or was it an open question, and if it was an open question, how were the responses categorized? Would "donors should pay for the dams instead of the parks" be classified as essentially the same answer as "donors should pay for the dams and the parks"?

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C Meek Author Profile Page said:

I suspect that the problem for a deciding percentage was Randi Miller's taint on the project. She has lost too much credibility.

C Meek Author Profile Page said:

I still can't understand how an empty gravel parking lot is going to produce more income for the county than an established amusement park, whether or not the business plan for this year was a good one in Miller's judgement. Am I missing something?

Frank said:

If they did't do any advertising and just stated a 0.4% would be levied for low water dams it would have passed.There was no need to suggest that private developers wee going to throw in additional funding.Also today's Tulsa World has a headline with Roscoe taking back his anti river rhetoric.He finally git through his thick skull what damage the no vote actually did to north Tulsa.Additionally,the artice suggests he regrets and being out of the council should be the next step for him.In reality, it could have been a 0.7% tax covering the dam,streets,police not to forget the sheriff and all Tulsa ounty schools!

jasonk Author Profile Page said:

I agree with C Meek, that Randi Miller's credibility is shot, and that led many voters to step very cautiously into the booth last Tuesday. Maybe the nail in the coffin was the Broken Arrow issue, when Miller looked like a dishonest car salesman, telling people to look at the fine print, and they would find nothing stating that BA was in line for river development. She came off looking like a crooked politician, and that may have tilted the scales.

What bugs me about peoples' reaction to the results of the election is that they assume that they (meaning the supporters of the tax) did not do enough to educate the public on what this vote was really about. If only the public had known that this was not the channels issue, it was not more 2025 stuff, it was not about downtown, they would have voted yes. They are incapable of admitting that those of us who voted no did so because we looked at the issues, and after much deliberation, determined that the best course of action for our city was to vote no. We did not misunderstand the issues. We are not ignorant, or stupid. We are not against development. We know what we are doing, and thankfully, a majority of Tulsans see things the same way.

And as a follow up to the things I have been saying all along, river development is going to move forward. It will not be with a new tax. Hopefully people can see that when the supporters and organizers of this tax told voters that this was a once in a lifetime opportunity, they were not being honest.

Frank, your description of the story in the World and of Councilor Turner's attitude is completely misleading. Councilor Turner was never anti-river development, and it isn't "taking back" anything for him to say that the city should use the tools already at its disposal to encourage west bank commercial development. The vote last week was on a county sales tax increase, which Councilor Turner rightly opposed. Someone here may have a thick skull, but it isn't Roscoe Turner.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on October 16, 2007 10:21 PM.

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River Tax 2007: Why "no" won is the next entry in this blog.

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