Sunday, April 30, 2006

You Can't Be the "I Told You So" Crowd, Unless... were right in the first place.

Kookie Ken Neal is at it again, twisting logic with a torque wrench.

Since it was revealed earlier this month that Tulsa's iconic arena is going to cost at least $32 million more than what tax payers were led to believe, Ken Neal has developed a mild case of amnesia (forgetting to mention that the reviled Gang of Four councilors were asking questions about arena overruns for nearly a year) and now seems to be making excuses for the very people he supported throughout the arena's development.

In the first two paragraphs of Neal's Sunday editorial, he writes:

Tulsans should be concerned that the major bids for the arena downtown were $32 million higher than expected.

Cause for concern, yes. Wrongdoing or deliberate misleading by public officials? No.
How do you know Ken? Do Tulsa's public officials fill you in on everything they do behind closed doors? Isn't it logical to assume that if some public officials were seeking to deliberately mislead the public, they wouldn't inform the editor of one of the city's newspapers? Isn't it possible, Ken, that you were duped like tens-of-thousands of your fellow citizens?

I haven't run the math, Ken, but maybe the $32 million in cost overruns isn't due to the escalation of building material costs due the explosive growth of the economies of China and India. Maybe it's because Bob Poe was right, and the "Gang of Five's" holding up of the condemnation of Peggy Jones' Denver Grill reall DID cost the city $10,000 per day?

No wait, that allegation, trumpted by the Tulsa World editorial pages, was proven wrong within days of it being "dropped" by the bombastic Mr. Poe.

It's amazing how smoothly Neal can construct such simple sentences which have such gargantuan implications. Try this one on for size:

Not that $32 million is a minor matter, but there are ways to reduce that amount or find the extra money for the project.
Oklahoma City reduced the cost of its arena by about $10 million when it faced cost overruns. The result was that some of the upper floors are pretty bare bones. Trying to slice out $30 million is likely to leave Tulsa's arena unpainted, without a roof, air conditioning and seats, don't you think?

We all know, economizing isn't really an option. They're just letting you believe that until after the Third Penny Sales Tax vote next month, to lessen the potential for a tax payers revolt, if the truth were known.

What is the truth? That the only two viable choices are, cease and desist building the arena or come back for more tax dollars. That's it. There are no other possible options.

Oh no...don't go there! Don't try to say that using the overage dollars from the current Vision 2025 thirteen year tax wouldn't be a tax increase, because it would. As justification for approving the arena, the voters were given a dollar figure of $122 million. Somehow, that got moved to $141. But using the overage for cost overruns would prevent the tax from being ended early, which is the preferred position taken by the Tulsa County Republican Party's platform.

If the tax could be ended in twelve years, rather than requiring thirteen years, then any action that caused the tax to be collected for thirteen years has effectively raised taxes.

Neal also reasons:

Yes, it will cost more than public officials hoped. There are reasons for that. Let's not point fingers of blame.
Why not, Ken? You're fond of pointing fingers of blame when the news doesn't break your way!

First of all, the "professional engineers and professionals in the construction business" you cite as being hired to design and build the arena have known about the likelihood of such overruns since November. My source? Mayor Taylor as reported by Omadelle Nelson and KJRH (or is TV News the "fringe" media?).

Secondly, we have been chasing down tips from "insiders" who are telling us that back in early January of this year, both Matrix and Tulsa Vision Builders had worked up budgets that showed the arena project was already over budget, but that they were being "instructed not to release this information until at a minimum after the mayoral primaries." They were also directed to perform cost studies "to try to pin all of this on the "Katrina factor." We have been told that Matrix was reporting the project as still being on budget, but the Tulsa Vision Builders was developing grave concerns.

Let's be perfectly frank here, Ken. The politics around this project have stunk for years. This project has NOT been handled in the full light of day. Dollar figures have changed, advisory panel ballots have disappeared and concerned elected officials have been stonewalled and villified.

Politics, by its nature is often about pointing fingers and assigning blame. If the people guiding the arena project were as competent as you say, then we'd have been getting answers to our questions about potential overruns long before the elections, and Neal's paper wouldn't have been trashing the questioners.

Finally, I am tickled by Mr. Neal's slip as noted in the title of this posting. In trying to trash County Commissioner Randi Miller, who has been critical of the arena project of late, Neal writes:

Tulsa County Commissioners Bob Dick and Wilbert Collins who were the driving force behind Vision 2025 have been rational and responsible in their comments about the arena bids.

But not District 2 Commissioner Randi Miller, who has been bleating and blaming and making empty promises about the situation. She is smarting from a lopsided defeat in her primary run for mayor and still is pandering to the "I-told-you-so" crowd. She managed to be for and against the original 2025 plan.
No one says "I told you so, unless they're pretty danged sure they've been right all along.

"I told you so, Ken!"


Paul Tay said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Paul Tay said...

Ya know, I agree with you on this one. But not because I am afraid you will call me a kook. Call me anything you like, anytime. But you call people who don't agree with you kooks, unreal, and other derogatories to make your POV like da truth. Is that supposed to be constructive? Sorry, dude, you ain't got the market cornered on da Truth.