Thoughts on the censure of Perry and Smaligo

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I've been told that my name has been mentioned in connection with the decision of the Tulsa County Republican Party County Committee to censure County Commissioners John Smaligo and Fred Perry for their vote to put the Vision2 sales tax on the ballot for November. For the moment, a few disconnected thoughts will have to suffice:

1. I attended the meeting as a precinct chairman and thus as a member of the County Committee, not as a blogger or member of the media. This is why I didn't live-blog or live-tweet the proceedings and haven't written about what individuals said during debate or how they voted. A county committee meeting is not the kind of semi-public event that a party convention is. The press wasn't invited to attend.

2. I was asked by Vice Chairman Mike McCutchin to hold off on publishing anything about the resolution and the censure until the chairman issued an official press release, and I have done so.

3. There was unanimity in opposition to the Vision2 proposal. The debate was over what should be said in a resolution. I argued against one proposal (brought forward by Greg Hill, not "Gary Hill" as the Whirled story had it), which would have incorporated my blog entry that compared Vision2 to President Obama's policies. I argued that language appropriate to an individual expressing his own opinion might not be appropriate to a statement coming from the party as a body. Someone else pointed out that liberal Democrats have often joined conservative Republicans in opposing local sales tax increases, and the term ObamaVision may give unnecessary offense and hinder an alliance to defeat the tax. Greg Hill's proposal was never actually moved for consideration (another error in the Whirled story; to move things along, I moved for adoption of Ronda Vuillemont-Smith's shorter, simpler resolution.

4. Support for censure was overwhelming; there were only three votes against. The topic came up during the debate over the resolution opposing Vision2, and after some back and forth there was a consensus that any censure should be a separate matter, not part of the resolution addressing Vision2.

5. Yes, I made the motion for censure, but I wouldn't have bothered had there not already been a strong consensus in support of the idea, as voiced during the debate on the resolution. I don't recall there being much debate on censure -- people were either for it or against it. I certainly didn't have to twist any arms.

6. Putting a tax on the ballot is not a neutral act, as Commissioners Smaligo and Perry would like you to believe. I don't recall either of them ever putting forward a ballot measure to cut TCC's millage rate or end the Vision 2025 sales tax as soon as sufficient reserves exist to meet all outstanding obligations, although both ideas are worthy of discussion. They haven't given us a choice between spending three-quarters of a billion dollars on Vision2 vs. a short-term G. O. bond issue to, say, rebuild the levees. No, they picked one particular proposal -- a particularly bad proposal, vague, hastily assembled, and packed with corporate welfare and pork barrel, heavy laden with interest and fees -- to put before voters, and they blocked any alternative from coming before us. They've only given us a yes or no option. They have therefore endorsed this proposal by putting it on the ballot.

7. Furthermore -- and this is what makes their vote particularly deserving of censure -- this is now the second time that they have forced the grassroots fiscal conservative Republicans who got them elected to spend their personal time and treasure trying to counter a "vote yes" campaign with hundreds of thousands of dollars to spend on ads and consultants.

I remember primary runoff night in 2006, standing in Fred Perry's living room and looking around at all the conservative activists who had volunteered for Fred. These same people had worked hard to defeat previous tax increases, and they supported Fred for County Commission because they believed he was a limited-government, low-tax, free market conservative who would fight to reign in the growth of county government and oppose new taxes.

Instead, Perry and Smaligo voted to put the river tax on the ballot -- a flawed plan that would have raised the overall rate of sales tax. (Yes, Mr. Smaligo, you have indeed voted for a tax increase.) I suspect at least 90% of the people in that room that night would now express disappointment with Fred Perry, and I suspect that many of John Smaligo's supporters from 2006 feel the same way. Now they've put a second tax on the ballot, and for conservative Republicans it's another slap in the face. Once may be forgivable; twice is not.

8. This Republican county platform took a clear stand in opposition to renewing the Four to Fix the County sales tax. No one dreamed that they'd come after Vision 2025 renewal more than four years before it's set to expire, or I'm certain that a plank opposing Vision 2025 extension would have passed overwhelmingly.

9. To those who think the parties should remain silent on this issue, I agree that this isn't a Republican v. Democrat issue. But the Vision2 proposal violates Republican free market and limited-government principles which are clearly outlined in the party platform, so it's appropriate for Republican activist leaders to oppose it on principle. We don't approve of stimulus packages and bailouts at the Federal level; why should support them on a local level? Liberal Democrats may also conclude that the proposal violates some of their key principles -- for example, the use of a regressive sales tax to funnel money to politically connected companies should be anathema to consistent liberals and conservatives alike, if for somewhat different reasons. I would hope that consistent progressive Democrats would push their party to take a stand opposing Vision2 as well.

10. To the Whirled commenter who accuses me of hypocrisy: I left that company seven years ago for better opportunities, long before Broken Arrow offered to help fund their new facility. I don't live in that city, so I'll leave it to the people of Broken Arrow to judge whether this was an appropriate use of tax dollars.

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8 Comments

JW said:

What I'm particularly disturbed by is the FACT that the county has not even completed all of its 4 to Fix projects and there are still some lingering V2025 projects that aren't finished. Why can't we finish something before spending money on something else? That's how it works for everyone else. I don't get to start on other projects at work till I've finished the one I'm on. I don't get to buy another house until I've sold or paid off the first one. Just dig into the 4 to Fix and V2025 status documents, you'll see. I can't trust someone who won't finish what they started, and I certainly won't give them an indefinite extension!

The A Team said:

Just like the River Tax, you can again count on the support of this Democrat to team up to defeat this regressive, Metro Chamber of Corruption, corporate welfare, slush fund and too big, too bankrupt, crony capitalist bailout at the airport.

Bob said:

Who are the REAL players behind Vision2?

The Metro Chamber of Commerce are merely the front-men for this tax vampirism. The Chamber of Commerce is no friend of the working man, having picked the Tulsa Taxpayers pocket of over $60 million the past 30 years.

The likely players:

--King Kaiser and Bank of Kaiser to refill his expansive coffers with more sole-sourced bond underwriting money from the taxpayers, as well as reward his associated flunkies in the attorney and accounting profession who get big pieces of the bond underwriting package to masticate upon.

--Flintco and RooneyCo who want to continuously keep the concrete flowing. Both have admitted that they each get approximately half of their revenue from government entities. These are the true tax vampires sucking the substance from the Tulsa taxpayers.

--Spartan School of Aviation, who already once recently tried to unload their old, worn-out dilapidated airport training facility on TAIT. This is their next gambit to get into the taxpayers pocket.

--The City of Tulsa, trying to find funds to remodel a 70 year old WWII bomber plant which probably should just be torn down or allowed to fall down.

--Our Corrupt Country Commissioners, who want their taxpayer financed boondoggles continuously renewed.

--Friends of American Airlines, who want a taxpayer bail-out of a bankrupt, poorly run airline.

Jeff Shaw said:

I'm resigning the Republican party. This little shenanigan has finally convinced me that I'm not of the same mindset as the leaders of the party in Tulsa. You all don't need a moderate conservative like me to help destroy the Party.
You guys seem perfectly capable of doing it yourselves. The news of this reminded me of the city council recall several years ago, when a mob tried to get rid of two elected officials.

I'm not for the tax one bit, but Perry and Smaligo were administering to lawful acts under their duties in office. Someone should have mentioned this at your witchhunt. If you all want to throw good public servants under the bus, I'm glad to say I'm getting off the bus.

Jeff, isn't it blameworthy that these two men have now twice voted to put poorly considered tax propositions on the ballot? Can you appreciate the waste of public and private resources that occurs when a deeply flawed plan is put forward? No one other than the proponents and their close allies think that Vision2 is a good idea. Good public servants wouldn't have voted to put it on the ballot. These men act as gatekeepers to the ballot. They don't let every idea through. That they let this mess come before the voters is an affront to taxpayers generally and to the free-market conservatives who elected them in particular.

Shouldn't Republican elected officials test a plan in the light of sound economic principles -- core Republican ideas of limited government and the free market -- before advancing it to the voters? And shouldn't grassroots Republicans hold elected officials accountable for their actions?

When Republican voters and Republican party leaders failed to hold Republican elected officials in Washington accountable for their spending spree of earmarks for their cronies, the party lost control of both houses of Congress in 2006 and lost the White House in 2008. It's people like Perry and Smaligo who tarnish the Republican brand by approving corporate-welfare and pork-barrel-laden plans like Vision2. What Perry and Smaligo sent to the ballot leads people to say that there's not a dime's worth of difference between Republicans and Democrats when it comes to controlling taxes and spending. The County Committee's actions on Saturday were all about scrubbing the stink of Vision2 off of the Republican brand.

Jeff Shaw said:

The Tulsa County Republican Party can issue press releases that don't rake fellow republicans over the coals. When Republicans don't like a politician or a tax, they can take care of that at the ballot box. But here's the problem that I see: The right wing of the Republican Party is getting very efficient at rooting out and destroying any kind of diversity in the party. The focus is gets increasingly more narrow. Tea party political eugenics, that force out the people that don't agree with narrow ideologies will cause the party become increasingly irrelevant. Me, I'm shaking the sand off my sandals and moving on with a great weight off my shoulders.

Mike Ford said:

I believe the actions of Perry and Smaligo have also created a larger challenge for Republicans in contested races on the November ballot. This measure will be loaded with goodies to inspire union employees and liberals, in addition to the union bailouts of American Airlines and the Bus Plant.

We live in a Republic, not a democracy. We elect leaders based on what values they champion during campaigns. Once elected, they are charged with showing leadership to represent us in our stead with regard for what is best for their district. These decisions should be based on those values and principles they championed in the election, and "allowing the people to decide" was done in the election.

Perry and Smaligo have failed to lead as elected Republicans based on the values and principles they championed during the 2010 elections, and have also failed to uphold the Republican Platform values regarding fiscal responsibility and lower taxes. As keepers of the gate, they had their opportunity to kill a proposal that is fiscally irresponsible, yet they backed down.

Mike Ford

Bob said:

I really wanted to be spending my spare time during the 60 days before Nov. 6 trying to get my favored candidates elected to public office.

NOT working against a Tulsa Metro Chamber-sponsored new sales tax grab called Vision2.

Vision 2 is a new sales tax (not as the Vision2 promoters advertise as an extension, but a NEW SALES TAX, according to the State Attorney General recent legal opinion).

So, when I and many others of both parties and Independents would rather be working for the success of our favored candidates, we are instead raising money and volunteering with the Stop Vision2 coalition.

SHAME on RINO Tulsa County Commisioners Smaligo and Perry. You sincerely deserve the CENSURE that you received from the Tulsa County GOP committee.

P.S. Smaligo and Perry defender RINO Brian Crain, I will enjoy voting for your opponent Democrat Julie Hall in the November 6 election for Oklahoma State Senate.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on August 21, 2012 12:13 PM.

Tulsa County GOP opposes Vision2, censures Smaligo, Perry was the previous entry in this blog.

Runoff 2012: Shane Saunders for House 70 is the next entry in this blog.

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