Apparently, some kind of election went down last week.
According to rumors, it had something to do with that river that sometimes runs through the west side of city.
"Oh, yeah. The election. Was that this week?" jested Tulsa City Councilor Rick Westcott when UTW contacted him afterward, pretending it wasn't the most hotly contested issue in the Tulsa area since, well . . . the fairgrounds annexation controversy of last spring.
"How did that go?" the tongue-in-cheek 2nd district councilor asked.
"Not well" would be answer given by river tax proponents--a group that includes Westcott, through whose district the Arkansas River runs.
"Thanks, but no thanks," was the message from the majority of Tulsa County voters, who turned down the $117 million offered up by oilman, clever philanthropist George Kaiser and other local moneybags.
That chunk of change would have gone toward certain enhancements along the river and was contingent upon voters' approval of a seven-year, 4/10 cent county sales tax increase to provide $282 million for publicly funded enhancements.
River tax cheerleaders went way over the top, promising that the projects would draw developers to the river, bringing $3.5 billion to the local economy and new jobs on the order of 10,000 or so, as well as a panacea against boredom for Tulsans of all ages for generations hence.
And, for all the big money in Tulsa, "Yessers" couldn't buy good advertising, an intelligent marketing plan, or, most importantly, a plan inclusive of all Metro Tulsa.
The majority of voters either didn't believe them or just decided they'd prefer to hold onto their $282 million and deal with boredom and employment on their own terms.
"No"-voters numbered 67,026, or 52.46 percent, while 47.54 percent, or 60,740, voted "Yes."
And 197,791 people, or 60.57 percent of registered voters, just didn't care, and voted to sit this election out.
Someone who did care, to put it mildly, was north Tulsa's district 3 Councilor Roscoe Turner.
"It was a good election," he told UTW.
"The people in the north community have been mistreated for so long, and they were just looking for somebody to do something for them for a change, but nobody asked the north community what they think about this," the councilor said.
He noted that about 7,000 people from north Tulsa showed up to oppose the river tax, which was roughly the margin by which the proposal failed.
The "No River Tax" campaign was also based out of north Tulsa, with Turner and district 1 Councilor Jack Henderson as two of its most vocal activists.
"North Tulsa decided this," said Turner.
By start contrast, the Yes camp's watch party bivouacked at the Southern Hills Marriott Hotel.
On a past occasion when the now-vanquished river tax proposal was under discussion, Turner had told proponents, "I represent people who are barely living from day-to-day. I don't have any driving a Mercedes and all this good stuff.
I have people who can't afford gas and you're asking these people to take what little money they've got for gas to put on the river in sales tax."
He and Henderson have also argued that north Tulsans aren't likely to drive down to the river to take advantage of the parks, trails and businesses expected to be built with their taxes.
While the northern Tulsa community was overwhelmingly opposed to the tax, the majority of the City of Tulsa supported it, with 52.6 percent, or 42,617 "Yes" votes.
Jenks was the only other municipality in the county with a majority of "Yes" votes, with 58 percent, or 2,150 favoring the tax increase.
Turner also said, "We're sick and tired of the county trying to tell the municipalities what to do."
He and River Tax Head Cheerleader and County Commissioner Randi Miller have often found themselves on opposing sides of local political issues, most recently his proposed annexation of Expo Square by the city.
Miller did not return UTW's telephone calls.
Westcott, her fellow river tax supporter, took it all in stride, though.
"I think that the majority have clearly indicated that they are opposed to an additional tax. I respect that and I understand that--that's one of the reasons I struggled with supporting the plan," he said.
Westcott also said he doesn't think the public's rejection of the plan means it's the "end of the world" for river development.
"I think it will probably be done in stages, by individuals and by municipalities, instead of all at once," he said.
"I talked to Pat Cox this morning--the principal of HCW Development, which did Branson Landing--and he said he's still very interested in coming to Tulsa, and I'm interested to do anything I can to prepare the way for them or for a similar development," added Westcott.
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