The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

10 September 2003

Tulsa thinks even bigger

In the end, it wasn't even close: all four of Tulsa's Vision 2025 proposals passed, drawing 60 percent approval from the 40 percent of registered voters who turned out for Tuesday's election.

"It is the beginning of Tulsa's future," exulted Mayor Bill LaFortune.

Well, maybe. I'm not convinced waving $350 million at Boeing will encourage them to build the 7E7 in Tulsa; on the other hand, $22 million to help shore up sagging American Airlines, which wants to close one of its three maintenance facilities, one of which is in Tulsa, might do some good.

And there's the question of whether some Tulsans felt they were being railroaded into supporting Vision 2025. Michael Bates, a leader of the opposition forces, reports:

I have spoken to and received e-mail from hundreds of Tulsa County residents who deliver the same basic message: "I'm against this tax, and I appreciate what the opposition is doing, but because of my job, I cannot come out publicly against it." People are afraid to display yard signs, to sign petitions. Employees, public and private, are afraid of losing their jobs. Politicians are afraid of angering donors and being targeted for defeat (with good reason). Businessmen are afraid of regulatory harassment from city or county agencies, afraid of losing business from the big companies backing this package, afraid of being turned down for loans. I heard that workers at one downtown company were told by an angry CEO that they'd lose their jobs if they opposed the package. American Airlines mechanics were taken off the line to assemble "YES" signs.

A lot of this goes on in most elections of this sort, I suspect.

Now comes the hard part: trying to get the maximum bang for Tulsa County's extra cent per buck.

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