Monday, October 03, 2005

Boeing! Boeing! Boeing! Was the Bridge Bounced for Boeing?

It’s amazing how easily Bob Dick can revise history if it fits his purpose in building the IVI Bridge. On KRMG’s Morning News with Joe Kelley today, Commissioner Dick made the following remark:

“Joe…a quick history…and you weren’t here. This bridge was part of the 2025 Vision [sic] package…and only because Boeing came into the picture did it get dropped out of that package, because we needed to accommodate the money for the Boeing plant. You know, obviously we didn’t get it. But had that not occurred, this bridge would’ve been part of 2025 and would’ve been being built right now.”

Why is this interesting? Because Commissioner Dick emphatically states that this bridge was part of some final package to go before the voters. However, I was present at the final meeting of the Vision Leadership Team, and this bridge wasn’t mentioned. In fact, there was no public mention of the bridge making any final cut that I can remember and I was pretty involved in the process.

In a story published on March 8th, 2003, the Tulsa World listed the bridge along with a laundry list of other projects that had been supplied by both governmental entities and private citizens as part of the Dialog/Visioning process. The listed it as follows:

City of Bixby

  • South Tulsa County bridge project, $7.3 million
  • Haikey Creek drainage basin flood protection project, $14 million

Nowhere in any of my records, or anywhere that I can find online, does it ever state that the bridge had made the final cut (at least publicly) before the Boeing opportunity came along. Of course, I can only talk about what was “publicly” the case. Perhaps Mr. Dick has information about how the final list was determined that the public isn’t aware of? Perhaps Mr. Dick is familiar with final lists that the public was never intended to see, until the people cutting the deals behind closed doors were ready for them to see them?

This is apparently part and parcel as to how Mr. Dick prefers government to operate. The grand flaw in our county governmental structure is that the County Commission is both the executive and legislative branches. There is no formalized oversight, or at the very least, very little.

The suspicion that a deal had been cut can be heard on the audio tape from the August INCOG meeting that was secured by the leadership of South Tulsans Citizens’ Coalition, on which a Bixby public official can be heard chastising Mayor LaFortune about “Tulsa” going back on the deal that was cut to remove the bridge from the final list. If that deal occurred, and there is no reason to believe it didn’t, then our mayor showed a distinct lack of respect for the concept of public disclosure with regard to projects that could have a very negative impact on the citizens of the city he’s supposed to represent.

Finally, it’s pretty disingenuous to make the assertion that had the bridge been part of the package that was placed before the voters in September, 2003, that it would’ve passed and would be “being built right now.” Does Commissioner Dick think the homeowners that are upset about this bridge today, would’ve been less upset during the Vision 2025 campaign? Would crowded streets near their schools and homes be any more acceptable, just because the Chamber would’ve had a budget to sell the idea?

The reality is, given the galvanizing effect this bridge has had on the citizens of South Tulsa, Commissioner Dick should be counting his lucky stars that the bridge proposal was never part of the final package, because there is a good chance that whatever package it was included in, might not have passed.
If this were the case, then there are a lot of other projects that might have never seen the light of day, either.

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