Having talked with several people over the course of the past few years I have reached a horrible conclusion. Tulsa is sick and dying. I have watched local leaders, advocates, and bloggers emerge; each one investigating some unfairness or injustice. Each issue, a symptom of a larger problem. The root of these symptoms leads each one to the same inescapable, horrifying conclusion. There is a cancer at the heart of Tulsa. Cancer can be found in the Mayor’s office, in his staff, on the council, in Public Works, in many of the various boards and authorities and in the local media.
These persons of authority fall into one or more of the following categories:
- Good intent but poor execution. I believe our current Mayor falls in this category. I’m sure he had every intention of reforming Tulsa, but he had neither the will nor vision to carry out any meaningful reform.
- Special Interests. There are those who see no problem in helping themselves or their friends while “helping” Tulsa. These people have lost all perspective. Their judgment is clouded and can not be trusted with our tax dollars. To find examples here, look at who is behind South Tulsa Toll Bridge, F&M bank at 71st and Harvard, the Downtown arena, or Great Plains Airlines.
- Power above all else. There are those who have been in power so long that they can not and will not relinquish it. They are so blinded by power that they care nothing for those who get hurt during their grasp for it. The Recall of Councilors Mautino and Medlock taught us this all too well.
Streets, sewer and water are the cardiovascular and circulatory system of Tulsa. In many areas, East and North Tulsa in particular, Tulsa is rotting due to little or no circulation. There are billions of dollars in infrastructure needs, there are houses in Tulsa that do not have running city water, there are business that do not have sewer, and our streets are well documented as some of the worst in the country.
Crime is on rise in Tulsa and if crime is an infection, our immune system is failing to combat it. Our police force is stretched thin. There are too few patrol officers and too few investigators. Ask yourself if you feel safe? With the murders and home invasions in my part of town, I fear to keep my door unlocked.
And what of the heart of Tulsa, what of the neighborhoods? If the previous problems in Tulsa weren’t enough, our neighborhoods are plagued by unfair zoning and planning and failing schools. The result of these problems is undeniable; business and homeowners are leaving Tulsa and with their exodus we see lower sales and income tax revenue which only compound our problems.
Indeed, the prognosis is grave, but not yet beyond hope. Tulsa needs leaders that cannot be swayed by competing interest. We did not get in this state over night and it won’t be fixed overnight. Not only does Tulsa need leadership with long-term ideas and vision, but the will to carry out that vision.
In 2006 we are being presented with such leadership. Pay attention to the candidates, and choose wisely. After the elections, hold our leaders accountable; demand change; change to staff, to the boards and authorities, and to the way business has been done in the past.
It is not too late to cure this city. Now is the critical hour, now is the time to act. Tulsa’s dire course can be reversed by an engaged and informed electorate. If not, I fear for the worse.
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