Thursday, December 16, 2004

Why the Library Package Failed

As anyone who has been keeping up with my blog knows, I have been consistently hard on the Tulsa World (although I don't spell it "Whirled" like Michael Bates does). However, today's issue does include a very informative graphic that shows where the library packaged faired well, and where it faired abysmally. See graphic here.

The most obvious thing that should jump out, at anyone viewing this graphic, is that the question did best in those precincts within a 5 minute drive of the proposed Grand Central Library. Conversely, it did worst in the outlying areas of the county where people who would find the library's location inconvenient at best, own large tracts of land that would be subject to higher property taxes.

What is most interesting to me as the duly elected representative of District 2, is that in only two of my 18 precincts, did the level of support reach the required 60% needed to pass the bond question. Does this mean that the voters of my district do not trust me and the city with the bond money? Or does it mean that my voters are less prone to raising taxes, which is why they elected someone like me, that is likewise loathe to raise taxes? You know how the World will spin it.

What is most intriguing to me is the synaptic leap and/or lapse that caused District 7 Councilor Randy Sullivan to opine:

"First, what happened at the polls was a resounding 'hell no' to bonds right now," he said.

"Second, I'm not sure that people are ready to to entrust us with a substantial amount of money, considering there's a recall under way."

Just exactly which "us" that my fellow councilor is referring to is difficult for me to discern. If he's talking about the city council, then someone needs to inform him that the Tulsa City/County Library system is a separate taxing body and that the council would have no direct oversight of how the monies would be spent. The only extent of our involvement with the question rejected by voters, would be in our approval or disapproval of future mayoral appointments to the library board. So how is the people's rejection of a bond proposal, outside of our locus of control, an indictment of "us?"

The World reported my response to Sullivan's assertion as follows:

"Medlock chided Sullivan for being more concerned about clearing the way for the recall than pursuing necessary infrastructure improvements.

'A delay would be a foolish miscalculation of the desires of the public,' he said."
What wasn't reported was my additional response of, "If Councilor Sullivan is truly concerned with the impact that a divisive recall process would have on the General Obligation Bond package, than I would call on him to use his considerable influence with those behind the recall in ending the recall immediately."

The bottom line is, it strains the bounds of logic to say that reasonable citizens voted against the library expansion because they don't trust a council comprised of Jim Mautino or Chris Medlock. One of the major complaints that we have received is that we have been too aggressive in our questioning of the city and county bureaucracies. Why would normally tax averse citizens vote against a tax package because the council contained two tax watch dogs?

It is more likely that, if the current make-up of the council entered into the voters calculus, they would be concerned by the presence of a councilor like Mr. Sullivan, who seems to think that we should never publicly question those that are spending our tax dollars.

The basic truth of the voters decision is that the current climate is one in which citizens know the difference between "wants" and "needs." The Grand Central Library and a new football stadium for the Jenks Trojans were "wants." The projects proposed in the upcoming G. O. Bond package are, with a few "trimmable" exceptions, "needs."

I am confident that the voters who voted "no" on the library, will vote a cautious "yes" on the G.O. Bonds. I am equally confident that in the next municipal elections, Tulsa's voters will continue the practice of electing councilors who watch the money like a hawk, rather than more members of Mr. Sullivan's laissez-faire class of councilors.


Anonymous said...

The Library Tax is POSTPONED. Not defeated.

The Tax Vampires are NEVER defeated; they are indestructible, remorseless, and pitiless. When frustrated by one defeat, they just keep coming back at our throats, again, and again, and again.

Remember 1997's Tulsa Project I and 2000's Tulsa Project II? Both were defeated by the voters, TPI overwhelmingly, and TPII by a closer margin but still a defeated.

Did that stop the Tax Vampires? Well, NO. The Tax Vampires then literally poured money into Vision 2025 promotion to get basically the same Arena tax passed; except, this tax is MUCH worse: 6/10 of a cent instead of 1/2 cent; and for much longer, 13 years instead of only 5 years.

No, the Tax Vampires will be back. We must be ready.

Anonymous said...

I agree with anonymous. It's just a matter of time. This library will be built in one form or another, with this or that tax. Tulsans will be duped into it.
The vampire cometh...