Tulsa County: April 2007 Archives

It took a while, and everybody got to speak that wanted to speak, but the City Council voted 5-4 to approve the ordinance to annex the Tulsa County Fairgrounds. Voting in favor were Henderson, Turner, Barnes, Martinson, and Eagleton; voting against were Westcott, Troyer, Christiansen, and Carter. The emergency clause vote broke the same way, which means it failed -- two-thirds vote would be required to put the annexation into immediate effect. Without the emergency clause, it will go into effect sixty days after the Mayor signs the ordinance.

I'll be on KFAQ at 6:10 in the morning to talk about the debate and the vote, so tune in to 1170 and listen.

I was especially impressed with Councilor Martinson's comments. I've had plenty of disagreements with him on various issues, but his analysis of the pros and cons of annexation was flawless, just as impressive as his analysis of the city's financial constraints. His business and accounting experience is a real asset to the council.

As are the legal expertise and fearlessness of Councilor Eagleton. A highlight of the meeting was when he called fair board member Clark Brewster (the banty rooster) on Brewster's bluffing claim that the increased sales tax rate resulting from annexing the Fairgrounds would constitute a breach of contract with the Arabian Horse Show. Eagleton had the contract in hand, demanded that Brewster cite the paragraph to back up his claim, and then read the clause that clearly contradicted Brewster's claim. Eagleton's diligent digging for facts has diffused several of the bogus arguments leveled against annexation.

UPDATE 4/11: There are two complementary accounts of the City Council debate on annexation in the latest Urban Tulsa Weekly: Brian Ervin's news story on the debate, with details on why various councilors voted the way they did; and my column, on the factors that may influence Mayor Kathy Taylor's decision to sign or veto annexation.

UPDATE 4/18: David Schuttler has posted video on YouTube (thanks, David!) of the exchange between Clark Brewster and John Eagleton regarding the Arabian Horse Show's contract. I had forgotten that it was actually Bill Martinson who interrupted Brewster to ask him how a city action could cause a breach of contract between the fair board and the Arabian Horse Show. Brewster's reply, "The terms of that contract provides [sic] very specifically what their vendors would pay as a matter of tax," led to Eagleton's question, "Clark, which paragraph are you referring to?"

This week in Urban Tulsa Weekly, I take a look back at the decision of the Tulsa County Public Facilities Authority last fall to evict Bell's Amusement Park from the Tulsa County Fairgrounds. Although it's not a new story, the way the eviction was handled sheds some light on the question of the City of Tulsa's annexation of the Fairgrounds (to be decided this Thursday night by the City Council), currently an unincorporated enclave surrounded by the City of Tulsa. Expo Square management and TCPFA members have made a number of claims about the effects of annexation, and those claims need to be weighed in light of the board's credibility and transparency -- particularly the credibility of the three TCPFA members who were on the board prior to 2007.

Here's another doubtful decision: Last year the Tulsa State Fair reached the one million attendance mark for the first time in four years. In December, the 2006 Fair won six awards for Marketing and Competitive Exhibits at the International Association of Fairs and Expositions (IAFE) in Las Vegas. Amber Phillips, who was manager of the Tulsa State Fair in 2004, 2005, and 2006, overseeing increased attendance each year, didn't get to enjoy the fruits of her hard work and creativity, because Expo Square CEO Rick Bjorklund had fired Phillips a week earlier. (Officially, her position was eliminated in a "reorganization," but it's not as though they're going to stop having a Tulsa State Fair, and someone has to manage it.)

You can read more commentary and background about the Bell's eviction here (including an interesting look at Bjorklund's career trajectory). And this website has a number of articles on Bell's and other amusement parks in this region, including Frontier City and Joyland in Wichita. Here's his evaluation of what was done to Bell's.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Tulsa County category from April 2007.

Tulsa County: March 2007 is the previous archive.

Tulsa County: May 2007 is the next archive.

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