Sunday, February 06, 2005

Q: DId You Delay the Arena Project?

Tulsa’s newspaper of record, The Tulsa World, has gone a long way in
perpetuating a myth that has been repeated ad nauseum by the marketing
wing of the Coalition for Responsible Government 2004, that is seeking to recall Jim Mautino and me.

In his now infamous speech before the Chamber of Commerce (the first infamous speech in September, not the second one in January), then Chamber chairman Bob Poe made the outstanding claim that the “Gang of Five,” (a.k.a. “The Medlock Cartel,” the “Three Stooges With Two Extra Stooges” and “the Council Rump Caucus”) was costing the citizens $10,000 a day, by delaying the condemnation of Peggy Jones’ Denver Grill. One of several businesses to be condemned to make way for the new arena, many councilors, including myself, were uncomfortable in making the final condemnation before we had been able to see the independent appraisals on which the city’s offer to Ms. Jones was based.

I had asked for copies of the appraisals over a month before the public hearing, but had been given a song and dance by the Public Works employee, Tony Lombardi. When we never saw the appraisals, I again asked Public Works manager, Mike Buchert, when we might get to see the appraisals. He told me it wasn’t standard practice to let the councilors see them. I asked why not? He didn’t have much of an answer.

The World took issue with our asking for time to review the appraisals, and took up for Buchert in an editorial on September 13, 2004, entitled “Impasse.”

The anonymous writer even went so far as to remark that I had become “testy,” giving the reader the impression that good and conscientious pubic employee Buchert graciously offered to go “upstairs” to get the appraisal right then and there.

Those in attendance at the meeting, or watching it on television, could see that I was very calmly asking my questions and it was Mr. Buchert who became testy. By the following week, the council got to see the appraisals in an executive session and later that same day, approved the condemnation. In that same time span, Mr. Buchert had been overheard shooting his mouth off to some buddies in the VIP tent at the LPGA Golf Tournament.

Being overheard by a citizen isn’t necessarily bad, but this one happened to be radio talk show host, Michael Delgiorno. Larry Payton of Celebrity Attractions backed up Mr. Delgiorno’s account of the boasting and within a few days, Mr. Buchert was removed from his position overseeing the arena construction for the city. Paul Zachary replaced him.

In the days following the condemnation vote, the World took another shot, trying to convince the public that we had gone through a worthless effort by insisting on seeing the appraisals. The did so in an editorial on September 18, 2004 entitled “Finally.”

In this, another anonymous writer (or perhaps the same one) wrote:

Councilor Chris Medlock made a show of asking a city staffer if it is true that the holdup on condemnation was costing the city $10,000 a day. Medlock charged that Chamber of Commerce Chairman Bob Poe had made that claim.

City staffers assured Medlock that with the condemnation action that the city is on its original schedule for clearance of the arena site and that council reluctance to condemn had not delayed the project.

Medlock had choice words for Poe and the Tulsa World editorial board. Poe and the World have been critical of the majority on the council led by Medlock.”
Even though she knew condemnation was inevitable, Ms. Jones became somewhat emotional after the council took the final vote, and to his credit, Mr Zachary followed Ms. Jones out of the Council Room to console her.

Not knowing where he was, I asked if Mr. Zachary could come back to the podium to answer some questions. You hear the questions and the answers he gave below:

"Mr. Paul Zachary Confirms Bob Poe Was "Incorrect."

As you can hear, from this exchange, Mr. Zachary confirms what Kirby Crowe, the project manager for the Vision 2025 projects, told the V2025 Sales Tax Overview Committee earlier that same day. That the Council's actions had not delayed the arena construction by a single minute, let alone by a complete day.

Bob Poe's declaration before the Chamber at the State of the City address was just one more fabrication by man who never lets the facts get in the way of a selfishly motivated public diatribe.

The facts also haven't prevented the pro-recall forces, (if you can call a handful of development types a force) from perpetuating the myth to bolster the mythological tales they are telling to the people of Districts 2 and 6.

So the answer to the question posed in the title of this entry is, "No...we never delayed the arena...and we never cost the citizens tens of thousands of dollars through our actions."


Anonymous said...

I assure you brave councilors that your requesting information of decisions made by the city hall professional bureaucrats has not cost the city taxpayer on cent. In fact looking in these matters, that has been hidden behind the smoke screen’s in the past, could be saving the taxpayer $10,000 dollars a day. The bureaucracies, whose faces never change in city hall, has never had to address their actions in these hidden negotiations with anyone outside their click. With a half a trillion-dollar budget coming up, the taxpayer seems to be assured that it will be gone over by persons working in their interest. The department heads also have every cause to believe their request for money to operate their department, will require the specifics, that in the past has not been required.

Tulsa is a small town composed of several communities. After the decentralizing of the down town with Brookside then Utica Square and etc., the taxpayer has been swamped with poor planning along with of the down town illusions of “a field of dreams”.

We believe the councilors have acted in the best interest of all the citizens in all the districts and all should support this new policy of officials having to answer to someone for their actions.

It is amazing our foresighted councilors would be criticized for wanting the sales taxes; we depend on, collected in our city, where we furnish the jobs .

Councilors you sure have awaken the sleeping giant. Ring the bell again and again.

Anonymous said...

And to think that the Bob Poes and Mike Bucherts of our world are given positions of leadership!! NOW that they both have been REPLACED....let's keep our eyes open and support leaders of integrity, such as Councilors Medlock and Mautino. Their fellow councilors Turner, Henderson and Roop deserve our support too! Sam Roop knows which side of the road he belongs on...we just hope he remains true to his convictions.

In the meantime, our Mayor has a responsibility to be a part of repairing the damage done by Bob Poe, Mike Buchert and the rest of the CFRG (anti-Tulsa, greedy and selfishly motivated persons).

The citizens have a continued responsibility to demand accountability in our elected officials. Also, having "watch-dogs" within the citizens' groups serves a purpose, helping to prevent further corruption and wrongdoing within our City Government!

Tulsa's future remains in the hands of those who will step up to the plate and do their part, whether it be getting out to the polls and voting or serving as a community leader. We should all encourage our families and friends to become a part of this process!!

Anonymous said...

Sometime late after the fact (since I never saw it reported in the Whirled), I heard Mrs. Jones received a $350,000.00 "settlement" from the court for her property (The Denver Grill). Let's see, that's $150,000 more than she was originally asking for and $50,000 more than she demanded later. Hmmm, did perchance the missing city appraisals reveal something which has yet to be made public? Or, did the court (as I did) think the City had so abused her that they provided some punitive damage? Or, maybe, they felt they needed to cover to her satisfaction to avoid future litigation which likely would have cost taxpayers (not city officals) many thousands more in costs and damage payouts?

The thrice-over given her on this deal pretty much depicts the contempt our government has for its' citizens. When we provide them with adequate funding to do a job properly, they fall all over themselves trying to sqwash whomever gets in their way. The recall clan is of the same mindset and tactics and are not to be trusted with another dollar of our taxes.

Further, the 'citizen watch committees' are a joke. They have no ability to alter outcome, stop activities or even a mechanism to operate in a way consistent with their ostensibly public keepsake. Even the big [Bob] Dick has stated publicly that these committees don't legally even have a right to demand notification of changes before they occur, and does it that way most times. Where's the benefit of any oversight for a man who operates this way? I believe he can be quoted as saying (in the next breath), 'If people don't agree with what we do, they can vote us out of office.' For the record, that was NOT an exact quote, I'm working from memory, but is very close to how I recall it being stated at the time.

As far as I'm concerned, the crooks are in control. But, THIS WILL CHANGE!

Already our most recent appointment to the Utility Board is out marketing the threat to Tulsans that their water rates will rise dramatically if these suburbs don't take our water. What a crock. Tulsa voted for and approved funding to build the facilities to their current capacity during the last 'sky is falling' marketing campaign when we had a drought and water rationing. The extra capacity was so future occurances would be shorted. Well, we have the excess capacity now to avoid that, but not if all our excess is sold off to neighboring communities. To them, it's become a water 'business', not a service. And, any extra revenues they can produce by selling us short is windfall. There's no 'extra cost' to Tulsans for water not delivered at this point. We already paid for the capacity, and only sold water is treated. So, we are paying for what we use now. Any perceived need to raise rates to Tulsans for lost water sales to suburbs is pure fabrication. Lost revenue, perhaps, but income which should not need to be replaced. Remember, it's cost vs sales price. Everything above that is profit. Funny how we also find ourselves paying for the construction of pipelines to ship our own water out, then discount the cost of water to boot. 'It's good for the region' is getting a little old. Especially when the attempt to service the special needs of developers is so apparent. Anyone else hear that not so faint sucking sound?

I've really had it with this bunch. If we have a recall, expect a party.
I know of at least two other councilors and other positions, along with a local newspaper, whom will come to think of 'recall' as an adverb prefix to future musings of how things used to be around here. [boy, weren't they suckers then].

We're on your side Chris. Don't mistake the level of support which exists, or will very shortly. The Whirled in which your oppressors live is just as wierd as Michael Jackson's, only more perverted. And, they don't yet even realize they're toast.

Boy, is that going to be a big surprise.