Wednesday, March 02, 2005

"...Come In Ken Neal..."

"Earth to Ken Neal...Earth to Ken Neal...Come in Ken Neal...Are you reading me?"

Well...begrudgingly, after numerous people referrenced your Sunday editorial, asking for my reaction, I've read you.

Gosh Ken...I know it's cold outside in February, but open the vent on that PT Cruiser you cruise about in, and get some oxygen. Then check your facts from a source somewhere other than your own slanted news pages.

First things first, Ken. When you write [once again, remind World VP, Mr. Bair about the Fair Use Doctrine],

"The much-maligned majority on the City Council was rightly concerned about the sales tax decline but poorly advised when it considered trying to squelch growth in the suburbs by raising prices on water Tulsa sold the outlying communities."

are you aware that,

[1] you and your compatriots do most of the maligning?, and
[2] No member of the "Our Gang" ever proposed raising suburban water rates.

Come on over to City Hall some time. Sit in a committee meeting. Listen to what is actually said. I know...I know...that's what you pay PJ Lassek to do. But too often she's busy chatting with council staff or playing video games on her laptop to catch a lot of the facts.

If you had actually been in the numerous meetings in which water rates were discussed, you'd know that we were...

  • ...Questioning the rationale behind the decision to reduce the minimum percentage return that the water board would realize on infrastructure built to service suburban customers. Asking for background on previous decisions isn't proposing going back to the previous policy.
  • ...Questioning what steps the water board was taking to address the dire warnings of the Metro Chamber's infill development study, which accurately details the inevitable market forces that are causing Tulsa's plight. While halting these forces is as illogical as trying to halt an oncoming tornado, we can take some actions that are the metaphorical equivalent of building a shelter.
  • ...questioning whether or the underlying assumptions that supported Tulsa's rate model took into consideration recouping costs associated with the development of the water treatment facilities and the lost capacity, as well as the loss of capacity on our two main transmission lines. Fact is, if we continue to support additional suburban customers, we'll have to build a third transmission line sooner than we would otherwise had to build one if we limited sales to wholesale customers. This questioning lead to further questions about whether or not the suburban customers would assist in the funding of a future third flow line, or if Tulsan's (defined on this website as those living in the city limits of Tulsa) would have to "front" the money out of a future Third Penny package (thus incurring additional opportunity costs via needed street or other infrastructure projects that would have to be put off until later) to be recovered later through water sales to all customers.
  • ...questioning why water rates charged to wholesale customers hadn't kept up with inflation. We wondered why the rate (according to an editorial you wrote, which I won't link to for fear that the Lorton's might kvetch) charged to wholesale customers in 1988 was $1.38, is currently $1.98, but if compared to the multiplier of the Department of Labor Statistics is applied, should be at $2.36. We were asking, "Hey Messrs. Cameron and Reynolds? Not saying you don't have a good explanation for this, but could you explain the rationale?"
  • ...questioning why it appeared that the priorities of a water board overseeing the operations of a water system that was built by the citizens of Tulsa and populated by a group of private citizens nominated by Tulsa's mayor and approved (disapproving is apparently not a viable option) by Tulsa's city council, often seemed to prioritize projects with economic development potential in suburbs over projects with economic development potential within the city that should be its primary focus.

We had a lot more questions, but I think I've listed enough to make a point.

And that point is,

Questioning does not equal proposing. Speaking in hypotheticals in order to carry a discussion forward, does not equal proposing. Questioning equals attempting to learn. Questioning requests of the questioned, justification for current policy. If none exists, then the policy should be re-examined and new proposals brought forth.

It was your own editorial page that created the myth that we were seeking to raise water rates. When you wrote and told readers about how District 1 County Commissioner told selfish councilors "how the cow ate the cabbage," you certified accusatory rhetoric that was designed to intimidate duly elected officials. You gave credibility to Councilor Bill Christiansen's assertions that we were trying to stop Owasso from taking Tulsa's sales tax by trying to stunt their growth. He called it "voodoo economics." He likes to use that phrase, belying he doesn't really know its derivation or meaning.

If you truly want to engage in a dialog, I'd suggest you quit using your reporters as your transmitters of fact. While they may be friendly and hard working, they aren't (to my knowledge) trained in economics.

Bottom line...if they don't get it, neither will you.

So my suggestion, Mr. Neal? Get in that PT Cruiser with the TU vanity plates and drive on over to City Hall. "...Come In, Ken Neal..." The real facts await you.

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