Tulsa’s myopic city leaders can’t see past Downtown or Midtown.
All of the emphasis by Mayor G.T. Bynum is on developing Downtown and near-Downtown. There’s nothing wrong with building a strong downtown but it should be built by private interests – the ones who stand to benefit the most – and not with taxpayer funds, particularly when it deprives other parts of the city from improvements or maintenance that is core to the function of municipal government.
Tulsa is way overtaxed in terms of sales tax and property taxes in relation to the rest of the state. And when Tulsa’s government spends money, the primary concern is the impact on the city’s elite, including the leaders of the chamber and other wealthy business people.
Little regard is given to small business or ordinary Tulsans.
A case in point is how the city is handling road improvements. Tulsa’s streets are in terrible shape. That is not due to underfunding, it is because of poor management and incompetent or crooked contractors.
Instead of working with a handful of skillful contractors and concentrating on a short list of road projects, the city chooses instead to have a multitude of contractors and orange barrels impeding traffic all over the city.
This is a bad business model but as long as it keeps certain contractors busy and doesn’t interfere with Downtown, it is acceptable to city leaders.
Bad street work is killing access to some small – but important – businesses and it is driving Tulsa motorists crazy.
A solution would be scrapping the city council/strong mayor form of government and going back to a commissioner form in which everyone in the city elects commissioners.
But that wouldn’t be good for the chamber or Downtown, so that won’t take place anytime soon.