Monday, March 07, 2005

Creeping cynicism

It is an unfortunate fact that as human beings, we tend to remember the bad things much longer that the good things. I start off with that as a premise to describe what I call a syndrome of creeping cynicism here in Tulsa. It's no wonder and here are just a few "events" that has lead up to it:

Trash to energy plant: An operational debacle foisted upon the citizens of Tulsa some years back. The idea was to reduce our landfill requirements and require trash haulers to utilize the facility to burn the trash and sell the energy generated to PSO. Talk about a white elephant! The fees were too high and the haulers simply bypassed it. It was cheaper to haul the trash and dump it miles away at other landfills. The operation is bankrupt and the citizens of Tulsa foot the bills!

Moss County Jail: The feds were about to shut down the old jail (we were told), which by the way had been operating and had a budget for decades that didn't go away, but just got melded into someone elses coffers. A new tax was imposed on Tulsa County'ns and the jail was built. It is a typically ugly pink goverment complex on the edge of downtown, North of the train tracks. A tax was imposed to build the jail, a tax was imposed to run the jail. Now its not enough and the jail had a series of mistaken inmate releases early in its history. An oversight committee made up of difference mayors of Tulsa County cities was supposed to exist, but it never happened as it was told to the citizens. And what did happen to the budget from the old jail? It appears that the wool was pulled over our eyes on that one and a literal shell game was played with the jail budget dollars. Tulsans and people of Tulsa County are taking it on the chin for this one and our public safety is at risk.

Chick Poop Settlement: This one is laughable, but makes you want to cry! For years our traditional watershed was continually being polluted by a poliferation of chicken and turkey operations in N.E. Oklahoma and N.W. Arkansas. The result was the tainting of the quality of the drinking water for Tulsans. Water in Tulsa used to be the best in the country. Literally Ozark mountain spring water flowing from Lakes Eucha and Spavinaw to T-Town. The runoff from the poultry waste entered the watershed of those lakes causing algae blooms and water degredation. The result was water that tasted and smelled bad. Elected officials took up the cause and lawsuits poliferated. It started with the Susan Savage adminstration. Tulsa had to pour in hundreds of thousands of additional dollars into chemicals to treat the water quality situation. Tulsans picking up the tab. Mayor Lafortune literally trumpeted the final settlement as a triumph for Tulsa. The results? A few hundred thousand for Tulsa and a few million to some lawyers in OKC. But our water quality was to improve. Mr. Mayor, the water quality still aint that good and I find it hard to believe that Tulsa didn't have the quality attorneys needed to represent us in the suit. Couldn't we have carved out a few more dollars to reimburse Tulsa for the cost of chemicals and less to some lawyers on the bad side of the State? Tulsans lose again.

Great Plains Airlines: has had extensive coverage of this debacle. Tulsans stand to lose millions in this apparently illegal scheme. Who will answer for it? Who caused it? Will it be covered up? More to come........

My point is this. Tulsans have a right to be cynical when it comes to the stewardship of public tax money. There is a long list of schemes foisted upon us leaving us footing the bill to enrich a few others. Our elected officials have a tarnished record of stewardship with those dollars. How many times will we let them repeat their mistakes at our expense?

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