Arkansas River: November 2007 Archives

During the late campaign for a Tulsa County sales tax increase to pay for river projects, we were often told by the tax increase's proponents about the low-water dams that Oklahoma City funded with its MAPS tax, and how this investment had brought jobs in the form of a Dell Computers call center. I've read about plans to run a water taxi service from the hotel cluster at Meridian Ave. to near downtown along the river.

I was in OKC this past Saturday morning for the Oklahoma Republican Party executive committee meeting and afterwards decided to have a closer look at their river, the North Canadian, aka the Oklahoma River.

The Oklahoma River, looking east from Exchange Ave. in Oklahoma City,100_5959This picture was taken from beneath the south end of the Exchange Ave. bridge looking east. Clicking the photo will take you to a set of seven pictures, all taken from the south bank of the river between Penn and Exchange.

Despite the fact that it was in the 70s and sunny and about 2:00 p.m. on a Saturday, I encountered only about eight other people using the trails. I read that there was a boat parade that evening, but I can't imagine where they had enough water to float a boat.

Anyone have an explanation for this?

Last week I wrote a primer on tax increment financing (TIF) districts. My column in this week's issue of Urban Tulsa Weekly is the advanced course: TIF districts as applied to Jenks' proposed billion-dollar River District development and a Branson Landing-type development on Tulsa's west bank. You can read all about the speed with which Jenks officials have moved forward with its latest TIF district, the complaints from the Jenks school district, how the City of Jenks has designed the River District TIF plan to put the financial risk on the developer, the lengthy process for TIF review established by Mayor Taylor's administration, and how the City Council can bypass it, if they choose.

Also in this issue, Tulsa County Commissioner Fred Perry responds to my October 25-31 column outlining a way to move forward on river development following the defeat of the Perry-endorsed county sales tax increase, and praising the Tulsa City Council for taking the first steps in that direction. Perry objects to my final paragraph:

There is a positive, constructive path for making our river happen without raising taxes. Here's hoping the Mayor and County Commissioners follow the City Council down that path.

Perry's op-ed begins:

In a recent edition of the Urban Tulsa Weekly, after the Tulsa City Council passed a resolution supporting river development, (OpEd writer) Michael Bates stated that the County Commission and Tulsa Mayor should follow the lead of the City Council as it relates to working to put a similar high quality development in Tulsa. ( ) This is amusing when one knows the facts.

I've responded to Perry in detail in my column in the issue that will be out on Thursday, but I did post a comment to his op-ed noting that he seems to have overlooked a key point:

There's plenty to rebut here, but I'll just point out Commissioner Perry missed a key phrase in the column about which he complains. I said (emphasis added), "There is a positive, constructive path for making our river happen WITHOUT RAISING TAXES. Here's hoping the Mayor and County Commissioners follow the City Council down that path." With its resolution, the City Council moved publicly in that direction. I haven't seen any public action on the river by the County Commission since the election, much less anything that would suggest they are proceeding with engineering on the dams or getting a handle on their Vision 2025 finances, as I suggested in my column. Regarding the surplus Vision 2025 funds, Commissioner Perry might want to check back in with his bond adviser for some updated numbers.

WRDA veto overridden

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The U. S. Senate voted 79-14 this morning to override President Bush's veto of the Water Resources Development Act of 2007 (HR 1495). The bill becomes law; the House voted Tuesday to override, 361-54.

The fourteen brave souls who voted against the override comprise 12 Republicans and 2 Democrats, including our own Tom Coburn: Allard (R-CO), Brownback (R-KS), Burr (R-NC), Coburn (R-OK), DeMint (R-SC), Ensign (R-NV), Enzi (R-WY), Feingold (D-WI), Gregg (R-NH), Kyl (R-AZ), McCaskill (D-MO), McConnell (R-KY), Sessions (R-AL), Sununu (R-NH).

Of the seven Senators not voting, five are presidential candidates: Democrats Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Chris Dodd, and Joe Biden, and Republican John McCain. (Republicans John Cornyn of Texas and Jim Bunning of Kentucky were the other two.)

The bill includes a $50 million authorization for Arkansas River corridor projects related to the Arkansas River Corridor Master Plan:


(a) In General- The Secretary is authorized to participate in the ecosystem restoration, recreation, and flood damage reduction components of the Arkansas River Corridor Master Plan dated October 2005. The Secretary shall coordinate with appropriate representatives in the vicinity of Tulsa, Oklahoma, including representatives of Tulsa County and surrounding communities and the Indian Nations Council of Governments.

(b) Authorization of Appropriations- There is authorized to be appropriated $50,000,000 to carry out this section.

Club for Growth wanted to see the veto sustained and will make this vote part of its congressional scorecard. The bill came out of conference committee 60% bigger than either of the original House or Senate versions, and the Heritage Foundation called the bill "a prime example of legislation run amok."

RELATED: Andrew Roth of the Club for Growth, writing at National Review Online, debunks the top lame congressional excuses for pork barrel spending:

  • "I know my district better than some unelected bureaucrat!"
  • "Earmarks don't increase spending."
  • "It's for the children!"
  • "I'm fighting to get our fair share!"

TIF 101

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My latest Urban Tulsa Weekly column, in the November 1-7 issue (the adoption issue), is a primer on tax increment financing (TIF) districts. There's a lot of debate about the topic in Jenks and talk about using a TIF district in Tulsa to enable west bank commercial development, and people seem to confuse TIF districts with tax abatements and other economic development tools. It's a bit dry, but I had fun writing the opening. For the rest of it, I tried to stick to a simple explanation of the facts -- answering questions like where Tulsa's TIF districts are and when they expire, and what state law governs the creation and operation of TIF districts. (The next issue, out Wednesday, will have a follow-up column dealing specifically with the controversy over the proposed River District TIF district in Jenks and how a Tulsa west bank TIF district might work.)

Also in the current issue, Brian Ervin has several great articles, including one about the owner of Mexico Lindo restaurants, who says he's an unwilling plaintiff in the lawsuit against H. B. 1804, Oklahoma's new immigration enforcement law. Brian was interviewed last Wednesday on KFAQ Mornings. (You can download the MP3 of Brian Ervin's interview here.)

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Arkansas River category from November 2007.

Arkansas River: October 2007 is the previous archive.

Arkansas River: March 2008 is the next archive.

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