On the 22nd of May, Stan Lybarger and Mike Neal, Chairman and CEO respectively of the Tulsa Metro Chamber, sent letters to the members of Tulsa’s City Council, asking them to postpone a July vote on a new street-funding proposal. Some of what they said:
The Chamber and our volunteer leadership are very concerned the City Council is rushing to develop a package for a July special election. We believe crucial steps are being overlooked that could possibly jeopardize the initiative.
Voters are eager for a streets package, but we cannot assume voters will blindly approve any package because of the “fix our streets first” mentality. When confronted with the actual cost and the details; [sic] support can quickly evaporate.
This translates roughly as “We want more input into the final package, and you guys are rushing us.”
The reply by Ward 5’s Bill Martinson is a classic of its kind. Excerpts therefrom:
Setting aside the condescending tone of your letter for a moment, it conveyed a serious lack of understanding as to the development and status of the Council’s proposal to fix Tulsa’s streets. The process has spanned eight months. In addition to holding more than two dozen fact finding meetings, which included hearing from both external and in-house experts, we conducted town hall meetings for all districts. All of these meetings were public and posted in advance. You and your staff were welcome to attend, and had you done so, I believe you would have found the meetings most informative.
Your contempt for Tulsa’s City Council was apparent in your comments. To assume that the Council and City staff would advance an initiative of this magnitude to the voters and ignore fundamental due diligence and statutory requirements is arrogant and absurd.
The election would have been held on the 29th of July, the same date as the state’s primary election, a date chosen because it’s obviously less expensive to hold one election with multiple purposes than to hold two separate elections.
Further, Martinson questions the Tulsa Chamber’s priorities:
Congratulations on your success in Oklahoma City to secure $25 million in funding for low water dams on the river. I believe we all support river development and welcome the day when you feel the same passion to convince the Tulsa delegation to support our transportation system. The conditions of our area highways, which are maintained by ODOT, rival those of our City streets. Also, returning tax dollars to Tulsa, and other area communities for that matter, would help us address our street needs.
The Chamber appears fixated on glamour and glitz to enhance economic development. You may understand these needs better than I, but I believe the condition of streets and right of ways say much about a community. If a city fails to consider basic infrastructure a priority, one must question the degree of civic pride.
Which I reprint here because down here in the 405 we’re not exactly immune to glamour and/or glitz either.
Michael Bates is following this story. The next step, I’m guessing, will be an editorial in the Tulsa World calling for the special election to be delayed, for God knows what sort of reason.