Muscogee (Creek) Nation to Tulsa: No money for Jenks dam

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Here is a timeline of statements made by Muscogee (Creek) Nation (MCN) elected officials regarding their financial involvement in the low-water dam. When you clear away the wish-casting statements being made by city officials, you'll notice that there aren't any MCN officials offering money to the project. Instead, MCN officials merely acknowledge that city officials are asking for MCN money for the south Tulsa/Jenks dam, and MCN officials note the large amount of money the tribe has already put into development along the river and the unmet economic needs of Creek citizens living on the southern end of the nation's territory.

So why don't Creek officials go ahead and rule out financial support for the south Tulsa/Jenks dam, regardless of the outcome of the April 5 vote? I suspect they would prefer not to be the "bad guy." If the proposition fails in Jenks or in Tulsa, as seems likely, Creek financial contribution will be moot, without Creek officials having to be the ones to say no. If the proposition passes, they can offer some token amount of money, figuring that Tulsa officials will be so anxious to satisfy the "memorandum of understanding" requirement in the Brown Ordinance for Proposition 3 (Title 43-K), that they'll take anything. Here's the actual language that ties the south Tulsa/Jenks dam to MCN involvement. Note that there's no minimum amount that Jenks and MCN have to contribute:

The project entitled 'South Tulsa/Jenks Lake and Related Amenities' is contingent on additional funding for other aspects of the entire project, to be provided by the City of Jenks and the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, including a long-term operating and maintenance endowment. If a Memorandum of Understanding is not executed by all three funding partners on or before December 31, 2016, funding allocated by the City of Tulsa for this project ($64,214,000) will be reallocated according to the provisions of this ordinance, provided that Eighteen Million Dollars ($18,000,000) will first be reallocated to a long-term operating and maintenance endowment for Zink Lake and Related Amenities.

If other projects and purposes described in Section 100(B) above cannot be completed due to circumstances beyond the control of the City of Tulsa, funding allocated for such projects and purposes will be reallocated according to the provisions of this ordinance.

Many of these quotes come from the Muscogee Nation News, the bimonthly print publication that serves as "the official tribal newspaper of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation." Many of the articles that appear in the print edition were first posted to the Muscogee Nation News Facebook page.

December 3, 2015:

Muscogee Nation News, Future MCN involvement with Arkansas River project uncertain by editor Sterling Cosper:

OKMULGEE, Okla. -- The Arkansas River Infrastructure Task Force has finalized a plan, which involves financing two low-water dams to raise water levels in the portion of the Arkansas River that runs through the Tulsa area.

Members of the task force plan to ask the Muscogee (Creek) Nation to help pay a portion of the estimated $242.7 million cost for the project....

[Then-outgoing Principal Chief George] Tiger cited possible contributions mentioned for the tribe also stating that further input would have to be gathered from the involved parties including the MCN National Council.

"I've heard everything from $15 million to $25 million for that one that would basically be just down the river from us," Tiger said....

[Then-Principal Chief-elect James] Floyd shared up front intentions about distributing MCN resources throughout the tribal jurisdiction.

"I know Tulsa holds a lot of promise in terms of economic development but we also have people in the south end, say in Holdenville, and areas like Yeager that also need economic development," he said.

He outlined how this would impact his discussion with project officials when he takes office.

"We'll have to enter into some negotiation with them and I think it will work for us but we'll have to look at what their expectations are and what our capabilities are and then other needs throughout the Nation," Floyd said....

MCN National Council Business, Finance and Justice Committee Chairman Robert Hufft said the Council had not been informed about any involvement by the Nation.

"Do we support it? Yes we support it but financially supporting, at this point in time, no one has approached the Council and at this point in time, it'd be hard pressed for us to support anything along those financial lines in my opinion," Hufft said.

Tiger explained how negotiations were handled between outside parties and the legislative branch.

"We do our studies, we have people come back to let us know whether it's feasible or not and if at that time it is, then we present it to the National Council so they wouldn't know anything about it," Tiger said. "It's not keeping anything secret; it's how this government works."

Hufft, who is the Tulsa District representative, explained his concerns further.

"Financially wise, the Council's not really going to contribute to something like that. Yes, it would help us but it benefits the city itself, the state itself more than us to some degree," Hufft said.

(Also published in the December 15, 2015, Muscogee Nation News.)

January 29, 2016:

Muscogee Nation News, Changes proposed to MCN involvement in dam project, by editor Sterling Cosper:

A Jan. 27 'KOKI Fox 23 Tulsa' report indicated that the City of Tulsa would rely on a private partnership with the Muscogee (Creek) Nation to fund long-term maintenance of two low-water dams proposed as part of the Vision 2025 measure if Jenks and Tulsa voters approve the Vision package in an upcoming April 5 election....

A previous plan included MCN providing upfront financing for the project alongside the Vision funds.

"The low-water dam--they're going to have to come up with something there. We just don't have the funds to put in to whatever. I've heard 45 million or something like that. So, there's going to have to be some discussion about that," MCN Principal Chief James Floyd said in a Jan. 20 'Mvskoke Radio' interview....

Bynum said that he had met with Floyd about the project early in the week of Jan. 25., and Floyd issued the following statement Jan. 28.

'The City of Tulsa Mayor and several City Council Members recently reached out to us regarding the VISION 2025 Plan. At this time we are waiting for the City of Tulsa to act and for the voters of the City to decide.

'Once the election results are certain, any and all decisions for the Tulsa 2025 plan will not be made without this review and decisions jointly by this office and the Muscogee (Creek) Nation National Council approval.'...

MCN National Council Business Finance and Justice Committee Chairman Robert Hufft confirmed that such a proposal would have to be approved by BFJ and that he had not heard about it.

Hufft, who is a Council representative for the Tulsa District, said that he had spoken with former Jenks Mayor and consultant for the river project under the previous MCN administration, Vic Vreeland about the river dams around three weeks ago.

Hufft said he met with Vreeland, along with the other Tulsa District representative, MCN Council Speaker Lucian Tiger and the current Jenks Mayor Kelly Dunkerley, over lunch to discuss developments in their area when the dam project came up.

"I said, 'We have too many things that we have to take care of our people and I can't justify myself giving any kind of money along those lines,' " Hufft said. "That's the extent of any kind of talk I've ever had with them about it."

The 'Muscogee Nation News' asked Vreeland Jan. 28 if he had been involved in the project since he was interviewed for an MNN piece on it published Dec. 3, 2015 and he said that he had not and could not provide an update.

"I have no knowledge," he said.

(Also published in the February 15, 2016, issue of the Muscogee Nation News.)

February 15, 2016:

Here is the February 15, 2016, letter from the Principal Chief and the Speaker of the National Council of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation (MCN) to the Mayor of Tulsa, sent in the wake of news reports of the City of Tulsa's expectation of MCN funding for low-water dam maintenance.

Muscogee (Creek) Nation Executive Office

February 15, 2016

Honorable Dewey Bartlett
Mayor of Tulsa
175 E. 2nd Street
Tulsa, OK 74103

Subject: Vision 2025 Arkansas River Project

Dear Mayor Bartlett,

The Office of Principal Chief and the National Council of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation are supportive of your efforts to further expand the dams on the Arkansas River within the city limits of Tulsa as well as the City of Jenks. The Muscogee (Creek) Nation has invested, and will continue to invest in the development of our properties along the Arkansas River.

At the present time, the Muscogee (Creek) Nation is unable to commit resources to participate in the development of the low water dam project on the Arkansas River. We regret that the Nation is unable to be identified as a possible source of funding for these efforts for the Vision 2025 projects.

However, the Muscogee (Creek) Nation will continue to follow the progress of your efforts to educate the voters of Tulsa and Jenks the importance of Vision 2025 and the long-term positive impact it will have upon the growth of the economy. The Nation will continue to encourage our citizens to support the projects as well.

(signed)
James R. Floyd
Principal Chief
Muscogee (Creek) Nation

(signed)
Lucian Tiger, III, Speaker
National Council
Muscogee (Creek) Nation

cc: City of Tulsa Council Member
Muscogee (Creek) Nation National Council

March 8, 2016

In an undated "joint statement," actually three separate statements from officials fro the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, City of Jenks, and City of Tulsa, issued on March 8, 2016, according to Jarrel Wade's story in the Tulsa World, Chief Floyd and Speaker Tiger seem to say, "We've done our part to develop the Arkansas River corridor and attract visitors to the city. Good luck with what you want to do. We'll be watching with interest from far, far away." Note that in the first sentence, they elaborate on their self-description as "significant community partner" by pointing to MCN capital investments in its own properties, not to any financial contribution to city projects. It's reasonable to suppose that their reference in the last sentence to "how we can continue to partner" means the same sort of partnering -- MCN money going to MCN projects, and nothing for the dam.

From the Muscogee (Creek) Nation

The Muscogee (Creek) Nation serves as significant community partner to both the City of Tulsa and the City of Jenks with capital investments in both economic development and visitor attraction projects. Most recently, the Nation committed to enhancing the Arkansas River corridor with its $365 million expansion in entertainment, hospitality and retail development. Like the City of Tulsa and the City of Jenks, we view the Arkansas River as a key asset to our community's economic success. We've watched with interest as the City of Tulsa and City of Jenks have thoroughly analyzed opportunities to fund the infrastructure needed to enhance the Arkansas River corridor, and capitalize upon this asset. We wish both Mayor Dewey Bartlett and Mayor Kelly Dunkerley the best of luck in
their efforts to educate and inform their communities about the projects, and are hopeful that they will be successful. If approved, the Council of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation and I look forward to discussing how we can continue to partner on the Arkansas River corridor.

- Principal Chief James R. Floyd, National Council Speaker Lucian Tiger III

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Here are my recommended votes in the Tulsa County special election on April 5, 2016, for the unexpired term for Tulsa County Sheriff and county and municipal sales tax propositions. Links lead to more detailed information or earlier blog entries. (Thi... Read More

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on March 23, 2016 12:19 AM.

Chambers of Commerce are the same all over was the previous entry in this blog.

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