State agency bureaucrats love to spend money.
Not their money, but someone else’s money.
That was pretty evident when Jeff Moore, OKPOP Museum Director, spoke at a luncheon of the Tulsa County Republican Men’s Club earlier this month.
Moore and his co-workers at the Oklahoma Historical Society are giddy because they get to spend $25,000,000.00 of taxpayer money for an unnecessary museum in Downtown Tulsa filled with broken guitars from Garth Brooks and others “priceless” pieces of “pop culture.”
Actually, when the smoke clears and all the costs are tallied for the bond issue, the cost will be closer to $40,000,000.00. And this is borrowed money from a Legislature that is supposed to balance the budget every year.
It’s a joke.
Here’s what happened. Several years ago, some lawmakers managed to fund a “money pit” in the form of a tribal museum in Oklahoma City. It is unfinished and is costing the state millions in bond payments and maintenance costs – for a museum that isn’t even close to being open.
So, the chamber types bullied enough legislators (including the GOP leaders) and passed a $25,000,000.00 bond issue to “finish” the tribal museum.
Well, the powerful business people in the Tulsa chamber can’t let a financial crisis “go to waste,” so they demanded lawmakers pass a $25,000,000.00 bond issue for a “pop culture” museum in Tulsa. Again, the chamber bullies turned enough RINOs into a stampede and this terrible waste of money was passed and signed by a compliant governor.
So Moore comes bouncing in to say what a great thing this is. A skilled speaker, he talked about the great heritage of famous Oklahomans and the noble work of the historical society and carefully left eight minutes for questions at the end of his speech.
Moore did reveal that the museum will be in Downtown Tulsa in the Brady District. This is obvious because the chamber overlords (some of whom own property downtown) direct all the public funding they can to downtown. God forbid they should build something in South Tulsa (that would violated PlaniTulsa, wouldn’t it?).
Moore danced around the topic but basically he said that the museum would need to have “collections” donated and that it would need “private funding” to get open.
He didn’t touch the question of whether the museum would be fiscally sound enough to avoid state subsidies every year. The Oklahoma Historical Society is a state agency with nonprofit status. You can bet they will be begging lawmakers for operating dough and that the chamber hacks will apply pressure to weak-kneed Republicans and spend crazy Democrats.
“We need to be fiscally responsible,” Moore said.
Right. Just like the Jazz Hall of Fame is “fiscally responsible.” It has chronic problems paying its utilities and insurance payments.
Oh, but Moore assured everyone that tons of people will come to see this museum, just like the Route 66 Museum in Clinton, Oklahoma. He cited a chamber prediction that a Tulsa pop museum would draw 60 percent of its revenue from out-of-state visitors.
Here’s the truth.
People go to a museum like this once. That’s it.
People in California, Missouri, New Jersey, etc., might be interested in Route 66 but they don’t think of Tulsa as a center for pop culture.
Oklahoma underpays classroom teachers and now it is borrowing money in a declining economy to build and subsidize an unnecessary museum.
On a fiscal basis, this museum can’t stand on its own.
Spending $25,000,000.00 for a museum is way too much money.
A lot of famous people are from Oklahoma. And it is noble to not only preserve our history but to teach it to our children.
A lot of those famous people have a lot of money. And they are generous. And they get tremendous tax breaks by putting their money into family foundations, which are required by law to distribute money for charitable projects every year.
But the downtown pop museum is another money pit financed by borrowed money to be repaid by future generations.
If a $40,000,000.00 museum was warranted, it should be funded by private means. But that won’t happen because the rich chamber philanthropists are tickled pink to force lawmakers into making taxpayers pony up for projects where the chamber can have wine and cheese parties.
If Obama gets his Iranian deal, the price of oil will drop and Oklahoma’s economy will bust. This is not the time to borrow millions.
A final note is that the Tulsa news media – the liberal Tulsa World, the TV stations and some radio stations won’t allow one critical word concerning this disaster in the making. They will run story after story telling the public that we are getting a “free” museum while state bureaucrats grab for our wallets.