Vision2 opponents rally against 'boondoggle'
BY BRIAN BARBER World Staff Writer
Tuesday, October 09, 2012
10/09/12 at 6:08 AM
Read more about the proposal and the status of Vision 2025 projects.
Opponents of the Vision2 proposal said Monday that they might not have enough money for slick television ads or direct mail - like the supporters of the $748.8 million Tulsa County tax proposal - but that their message is resonating.
"I think it says a lot that they are having to spend as much as they are," said Ronda Vuillemont-Smith of Citizens for a Better Vision, which is using social media, signs and word of mouth to reach people.
The grass-roots organization kicked of its campaign efforts Monday with a rally of about 20 members outside Tulsa's City Hall.
"We are a diversified group of citizens that loves and appreciates Tulsa County and all it has to offer but believe Vision2 is a boondoggle that is too rushed, too much, too soon, too sloppy and too vague," Vuillemont-Smith said.
"Citizens for a Better Vision wants to see our community thrive and prosper and believes Tulsa can do better than this hastily thrown-together plan."
The Vision2 proposal, which will be on the ballot Nov. 6, includes two portions that will be voted on separately.
The first proposition would fund improvements at the city's airport industrial park, much of it benefiting American Airlines, and a deal-closing fund to help lure new business and boost existing companies in the area.
The second proposition would fund quality-of-life projects in cities across Tulsa County, including low-water dams, zoo upgrades and others.
"We believe tax dollars shouldn't be used to bail out a bankrupt business in a failing industry," Vuillemont-Smith said. "Neither the chamber of commerce or government should pick winners and losers in the private sector but instead should work to provide a positive business environment for all."
Vuillemont-Smith, who ran earlier this year for the state Senate District 25 seat but lost in the GOP primary, also said capital improvements should be funded on a pay-as-you-go basis.
As proposed, Vision2 includes about $100 million in bond interest costs.
"Money spent on interest and loan fees is money that can't be spent on public improvements," she said.
Former City Councilor Roscoe Turner said many of the current councilors are scared to speak out against the Tulsa Metro Chamber-backed proposal publicly for fear of reprisal.
"During the election period, the chamber gave them money and told them they'd be watching," he said. "I think they are worried about being unseated."
Everyone needs to get involved to defeat Vision2, Turner said.
"The lights need to come on in City Hall so people can see how their government operates," he said. "As soon as I left office, the lights went out and the cockroaches started to come out again."
Former City Councilor Maria Barnes said she was a supporter of Vision 2025 and the failed 2007 river tax vote.
"But this is one I cannot get behind," she said. "They are taking it too quick. Neighborhoods and individuals have not had a chance to come forward and be involved. I think we need to step back and really look at this and work together from the beginning."
Tulsa County Republican Party Chairman J.B. Alexander said he talks to people every day who know nothing about the proposal.
"There was no public input before it was put on the ballot," he said. "There should have been public meetings first to discuss 'Do we want this tax?' not, 'What do you want to do with the money after we pass it?' "
State Sen.-elect Nathan Dahm of south Tulsa and Broken Arrow's District 33 said Vision2 does not reflect the proper role of government.
"Government should not be involved in economic developments," he said. "That's what they are claiming this is, but in reality it's crony capitalism."
Supporters of Vision2 opened a campaign headquarters Sunday in the Fontana shopping center at 51st Street and Memorial Drive. Their theme is "Keep a Good Thing Going."
Vision2 Co-chairman Don Walker described the opposition group on Monday as "historic naysayers."
"It's clear that the opposition has little to do with Vision2 but has become a platform for historic naysayers, many of whom led the dysfunctional City Council we had in recent years or are in pursuit of a political office," he said.
"It's sad to me that personal politics has caused these folks to jeopardize thousands of Tulsa County jobs, put our public safety at risk, and stop much-needed improvements to our county's infrastructure."
Walker said Vision2 is a comprehensive countywide plan that benefits the entire region and continues to move it forward.
"It is about protecting thousands of good-paying jobs for families in our communities," he said, "as well as investing in our infrastructure, the river, the zoo, the library and many more worthwhile projects - all without an increase in taxes."
Vision2 would extend the Vision 2025 tax share from 2017 to 2029.
Original Print Headline: Vision2 opponents rally against 'boondoggle'
Brian Barber 918-581-8322
Ronda Vuillemont-Smith speaks against the Vision2 tax proposal during a rally held by the Citizens for a Better Vision group at City Hall in Tulsa on Monday. MATT BARNARD / Tulsa World