As a Republican and a supporter of Gary Richardson for Governor now as well in 2002, I read with great interest the article in the August 3, 2017 edition of the Tulsa Beacon, specifically as to what author, Richard Engle, who is an active supporter of Todd Lamb, had to say about Richardson’s candidacy for governor. Mr. Engle obviously had not done his homework before writing the article as evidenced by a number of statements he made in the article.
To begin with, when Richardson ran in 2002 as an Independent, he was the only candidate that clearly addressed several issues that were facing our state, not just the turnpike, as Mr. Engle has suggested. Matter of fact, Richardson was the only candidate that passed out to the citizens of our state a booklet that set forth detailed positions on these vital issues. The turnpike issue was largely what the media ran with, and understandably so. As Richardson said in 2002 and still says today, the turnpike is a scam on Oklahomans by convincing us that we “need” the turnpike to have good highways when in fact the opposite is true.
All you have to do is look at Arkansas, which has better highways than Oklahoma, and realize there isn’t one mile of turnpike in their state. Yet Oklahoma faced an $878 million budget deficit this year while Arkansas enjoyed an $800 million surplus at the same time.
I am certain that Mr. Engle has never seen the report commissioned by Gov. Frank Keating in 1995 to have KPMG, a big four accounting firm, study the highway system in Oklahoma. This report concisely concluded that the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority should be dismantled, put under ODOT, have one director, which would save our state millions of dollars. The KPMG report clearly laid out a method on how to go about this and the reasons as to why it should be done. The obvious fact is that the proposals put forth by the KPMG report was never implemented by our state leaders. In fact, it took researchers weeks to find the last remaining copy of the report in the state archives.
Additionally, when Mr. Engle says, “every informed voter knows that he (Richardson) will not be able to do so simple under his authority as governor,” it should be pointed out that no Oklahoma governor has ever ordered an independent audit of the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority despite that they are the only state official who can request such an audit.
I suggest the Mr. Engle stand by and watch Mr. Richardson do just that and more. Not only will he order an independent, forensic audit of the OTA, Richardson will put in place the changes to the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority recommended by the KPMG study from 1995, saving our state millions of dollars and beginning the process of dismantling the turnpikes in Oklahoma.
Mr. Engle goes on to say that “Richardson’s greatest political success in life was that of securing a victory for Brad Henry over conservative Steve Largent as our prior Governor.” This is the same argument that Hillary Clinton made in explaining her loss to President Trump in last year’s presidential election. Just like Hillary, no one else is to blame for Largent’s loss than Largent himself.
To that point, the one person who hasn’t blamed Richardson for Largent’s loss is Steve Largent himself. Largent’s choice to take a public stance on the cock fighting issue, his advocacy to keep the turnpike system in Oklahoma and a poorly executed campaign has more to do with Largent’s loss than a third candidate being in the 2002 race. It is a logical fallacy to assume any or all of Richardson’s votes would have gone to Largent had it been a two-candidate race.
Mr. Engle’s article should be seen less through the lens of a “contributing writer” and more as someone who is a professed Todd Lamb supporter.