The Takers

January 30, 2014
Dan Keating

No one ever assumed the United States would evolve into the political system we have.  From the beginning, there was little to attach oneself to, the country was practically broke, major powers simply tolerated the upstart, but we had promise.

Slowly the promise evolved by hard work and the support of the Great Jehovah.  America was born and flourished.  No politician expected to be supported at the public trough much less earn a huge salary and forever pension.  Individuals did what  they must and could to support the dream, the Republic.

Today, most public  servants have long ago forgotten what service is about.  It is not about self, yet selfishness is what we have.

Peggy Noonan writing for the Wall Street Journal did an excellent piece entitled “Our Selfish Public Servants.”

Ms. Noonan says, “There isn’t a staffer on the hill who won’t tell you 90 percent of members are driven by their own needs.”

Everyone wants more.  “People in public life have become more grasping.”  Take for instance the current debate at home over building out the jail and establishing a new Juvenile Justice Center.

The additional pods will cost $15 million and the Justice Center $45 million.

What makes this so troubling is that only two county officials realize that there is money available to pay the price tag from the Vision 2025 sales tax surplus.  All that is required is a repurpose vote by county citizens to use the surplus.

Those on the taxpayers’ side are County Assessor Ken Yazel and County Commissioner Ron Peters.

Why on earth does the county need to keep a $110 million surplus?  The various suburban cities were promised the return of $45 million surplus for their support of Vision 2025.  There is that  money and much more.

As Peggy Noonan reported, “There’s an increasing sense in our political life that in both parties politicians call themselves public servants but act like bosses who think the voters work for them.”

That is certainly at work in Tulsa.  The county wants another sales tax.  Yet, the county’s sales and property tax is the highest in the state.

A recent review by the state auditor showed 35 counties did not meet their property tax requirements which means they keep taxes low and depend on the other 42 law abiding counties to pay for their schools.

Tulsans just passed a $918 million bond package. Another $60 million sales tax is not warranted.

Just how generous are the political takers?  Well, in December Tulsa contributed $355,000 for needy families.  This Christmas campaign has gone on for years and been very successful.  On January 12, all the donor names were published.  Was the mayor of Tulsa a donor?  No.  Were members of the City Council?  No.  Were any county commissioners?  No.

Maybe elected officers need to contribute their own funds before coveting others.  Maybe current and former county commissioners should not expect naming rights to the Juvenile Center when it’s  paid for by others?