Opponent says Vision2 won't save American Airlines
BY WAYNE GREENE World Senior Writer
Friday, October 19, 2012
10/19/12 at 3:30 PM
Continuing coverage: Read more on Vision2 here.
Tulsa County’s Vision2 proposals won’t save American Airlines, a leading opponent of the proposal said Friday.
“When government picks winners and losers, they usually just pick losers,” blogger and Republican Party activist Michael Bates told the Republican Club of Tulsa.
American Airlines is in bankruptcy — largely driven by high labor costs — and nothing the taxpayers of Tulsa County do will have any effect on the company’s fate, he said.
“It’s like trying to put out the sun with a squirt gun,” Bate said.
“We can’t save them,” he said. “It simply doesn’t make sense to throw money against a bankrupt airline.”
If Tulsa County taxpayer buy into the Vision2 plan to spend $214 million to improve American’s Tulsa maintenance base and the airline evaporates anyway, Bates suggested an expensive engine test cell that is part of the plan would be an monument to false hopes in a company wrongly believed to be too big to fail.
In addition to improvements to city-owned manufacturing facilities at the airport industrial complex, the $748.8 million Vision2 program would fund “quality-of-life” improvements throughout Tulsa County. The spending would be funded by a 13-year, 0.6 percent Tulsa County sales tax. The tax would begin when the 0.6 percent Vision 2025 tax expires at the end of 2016.
In general, Bates told the GOP group that the proposals amount to corporate welfare, pork-barrel spending, crony capitalism and increased public debt — all violations of Republican tenets.
Bates criticized the Vision2 plan to create a job closing fund, which he suggested would be controlled by the Tulsa Metro Chamber.
Pointing to the chamber of commerce’s contract with the city to use its hotel-motel tax to promote local tourism, Bates said he thinks the closing fund — which is scheduled to end up with at least $52.9 million over the course of the tax — could end up being another source of public funding for a group that should be funded solely with private money.
In this Aug. 1 file photo, American Airlines airplanes are parked at their gates at JFK International airport in New York. MARY ALTAFFER/AP File Photo