Vision Tulsa: North Tulsa perspective -- a 93.4% rotten apple
One of the joys of this campaign has been getting to know some valiant community leaders that I had not previously met. Tracie Chandler, a leader in the North Star neighborhood, was instrumental in getting the city to do a small area plan covering the 36th Street North corridor between the Osage County line and Lewis Ave. This area was once prosperous but long ago fell on hard times. The small-area plan process brought homeowners, business owners, and city planners together to determine a path forward. Unfortunately, Tulsa civic leaders have a bad habit of either ignoring northside activists or treating them with dismissive condescension, and the modest capital improvements that these small area plans request -- small investments that can make a huge difference to an area's potential -- are typically ignored in favor of bigger, splashier projects closer to Tulsa's Money Belt.
Tracie Chandler has written several items of commentary on Vision Tulsa, and with her permission, we're happy to publish them here at BatesLine. First, here is a list of concerns about the package, which Ms. Chandler read at our news conference on Tuesday and a related graphic.
We want to thank the Councilors and the Mayor for their work on the Vision Package. However, we have some concerns. Councilor Ewing said, people without representation were being left off the list to the detriment (harm) of the neighborhoods. Another councilor responded with. "They have their Councilor." Ewing replied, "You know what I Mean!" We instantly understood. People with money, power, or influence got their proposals on the list.
Example: The Gilcrease Museum gets sixty-five million ($65,000,000) of our hard earned dollars; a donor will give them fifty million dollars ($50,000,000). Example of influence?: Had Councilor Henderson supported the 36th St. N. Corridor Small Area Plan Implementation Proposal, coupled with the Mohawk Business Park, we would have had two straight miles prepped for economic development down 36th St. N. between N. Lewis and MLK. The Peoria Connection, which has the least impact of the two and cost five million dollars ($5,000.000) more, made the list. Is it because of Henderson's close ties to NTEDi, the organization submitting the proposal?
Everyone cares about public safety, however, here are our concerns: The tax is permanent instead of for 15 years.
The fire department will get seventy million dollars ($70,000,000), even though it didn't complete an analysis of needed funds. A fireman was overheard telling one of the Councilors that there was not a need for the trucks she was seeking. Many of the "fire runs" are for EMS purposes instead of fighting fires.
Do we need 160 more police to the tune of two hundred two million dollars ($202,000,000)? Even with the layoff of about 120 police in 2010, major crimes decreased. Minorities, especially Blacks, are harassed/arrested more than others. These arrests destroy families. More police, more minorities going to jail. The recreation centers are gone, kids, with their parent(s) in jail, are often without supervision. They act out, doing unwise things leading to their arrests (a continuous cycle of family destruction)! Keeping people locked up, is costly; It is cheaper to keep them out of prison.
We like the Gilcrease Museum, however, let's examine another use for the sixty-five million ($65,000,000) that would directly benefit North Tulsa. Five point five million dollars ($5,500,000) is about what it would have taken to renovate recreation centers at Ben Hill, B. C. Franklin, and Springdale parks. After utilities, the remaining fifty-nine million, two hundred eighty-nine thousand, twenty-five dollars ($59,289,025) could be invested in an endowment; at 3.5%, two million, seventy-five thousand, one hundred sixteen dollars ($2,075,116) to run the centers.
Zoo: "Do we need to pay $25,000,000 (twenty-five million dollars) to build a "Pachyderm Palace" as a new home for elephants?"
Lot in the Package for North Tulsa???????????????
You will hear that there is a lot in the package for North Tulsa, the same story we heard before and for the most part, North Tulsa looks the same. How will this be any different? Three of the items referred to are the Gilcrease Museum, The Zoo, and the Airport. Who will benefit the most, North Tulsa residents or the city?
Tulsans will pay taxes for Jenks schools, because Tulsa students attend those schools. Is Osage County paying for students that attend Central and Academy Central? We do need to retain teachers, however, North Tulsa Schools get more of the inexperienced teachers than South Tulsa Schools. What assurance do we have that this will change?
OSU: Why are we giving OSU 3.6 million dollars ($3,600,000) when they are receiving $1,000,000 (one million dollars) a year from Langston for rent? They could have saved that amount.
Street Maintenance and Traffic:
Everyone, especially North Tulsans, want their streets repaired. The City continuously maintain NEW streets, because it is cheaper, as opposed to older streets. Where does that leave older neighborhoods?
River Project: How will the River Project benefit North Tulsans? Will the money brought in by the project help North Tulsa? What part of the city gets most of the tax dollars?
Whose Vision is this?
This package does not represent the wishes/desires of the citizens. Where is the vision?
We understand your concerns about Langston! However, would you keep an apple that is 93.4% rotten; North Tulsa only got 6.6% of the package? That makes the package for North Tulsans 93.4% rotten. Citizens of Tulsa, since this package does not represent our vision for Tulsa, should we accept it? If we accept this package, what message will we send? Won't it be that, it doesn't matter if our voices are not heard? Won't it be, walk all over us although, these are OUR tax dollars? Are we men or are we mice content with crumbs?
Presented by a Coalition of Concerned Citizens
Here's a second note, which mentions her conversations with Councilor Jack Henderson, and her personal wrestling with the question of support for the tax package.
Councilor Henderson and I have had intense conversations on the Vision Package; he wants me to support it. I promised that I would pray about it, I did. I cannot in good conscience support this package. There is too much wrong with it. It does not represent the will of the people. The purpose of the package is to increase sales tax revenue, yet, half of the police officers and many of the firemen live outside the city. They take our tax dollars (salaries) and spend the money in their home towns (Jenks, Owasso, Broken Arrow etc.). This increases their sales tax revenue. The City Council refuses to tackle the issue. Other cities require that these workers live in the city limits.
The tax is permanent leading to a lack of accountability. Sixty-five million dollars for Gilcrease Museum could be used to promote tourism around the Race Riot; OKC is capitalizing off the OKC bombing! These are four of my seventeen reasons.
Councilor Henderson is being divisive again by suggesting that because our proposal was not chosen that is the only reason for our nonsupport.
To suggest that we accept this package is sending several messages. We don't care that our voices were not heard. It is better to eat an apple that is 94% rotten in order to get to the good part (Langston and the business park). To accept means operating from the F of (Fear) instead of the F (Faith)!
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