The snowstorm disaster of 2011 is full of messages and lessons for all of us. For some, it's a message of opportunity to help others. For others it's recognizing that the power of nature is more any person or government could ever prepare for. As I reflect on what I witnessed over those 10 days I have made the following conclusions:
1. You will never have a complaint free disaster. Some people can tolerate and ride out disastrous change. Others cannot deal with the disruption of their routines.
2. People will never believe that government can't man up and gear up enough to beat what God puts on you even when you put every person and every piece of equipment you have into action.
3. Regardless of the severity of the disaster, people will always think you should have been better prepared. That somehow you could out guess and out plan that which has never happened before.
4. People will say they have patience's as long as you remember that the're number one.
5. You can tell people what to do or not do to survive the disaster but when they don't listen they blame you.
6. You can always count on someone politicizing a disaster for their gain.
7. Monday morning quarterbacking always reaches an all time high. Those that know the least will act like they know the most. Some become experts over night.
Disasters are emotional. People would rather have opinions than have the facts.
9. It always looks easy and simple when you don't have any of the storm management responsibility.
10. Disasters will bring out the best in people. Employers taking care of employees, public servants going the extra mile, and strangers helping strangers.
11. Even if there are 4,000 road miles to clear, people mostly care about the road in front of their house.
12. The City was never close to running out of salt or sand, though some attempted to promote that fear in our citizens.
But a great deal of good was done because the disaster brought the best out of people:
1. Though the storm, blizzard and temperatures were of historic proportions, no one died as a result of the storm. That's because your neighbors took care of one another.
2. Truck drivers kept driving to bring food and supplies to Tulsa.
3. Volunteers got people their critically needed medical care by going into neighborhoods to take care of them.
4. Neighbors shoveled their own streets because they realized it's not only the government's job to take care of your street.
5. The employees of the City of Tulsa are the best anywhere. Without complaint, they worked around the clock 10 days straight putting the citizens of Tulsa's welfare above everything in their personal lives.
6. The City of Tulsa and Tulsa County and the surrounding cities all worked together.
7. TV and radio stations kept the news coming by putting their employees up in hotels so they could easily return to work and report on the developing disaster.
8. The Police and Fire Department went the extra mile to rescue stranded motorists.
Disasters of any type put a great deal of strain on all aspects of a community. It's not about winning or losing. And it shouldn't be about blaming or complaining. Things always happen for a reason. For me, that reason is that they pull people together and pull the best out of people. That's the Tulsa I am so proud of.
-Mayor Dewey F. Bartlett, Jr.
For the Record
(In response to "War of the Words" in February 3-9 issue of Urban Tulsa Weekly)
It seems that Theron Warlick has a powerful constituency at UTW. The previous comment by TYProle is the third instance of over-the-top hype I have seen recently about Mr. Warlick published in UTW, the others being a number-two ranking in the Hot 100 (second only to Mayor Bartlett), and a Letter to the Editor from Mr. Jamieson selected for publication some months earlier.
It is not my intention to do a hatchet job on Mr. Warlick, but I feel it is important to counter some of the exaggerations the UTW has chosen to publish. The public might be interested to know that in reality Mr. Warlick is a mid-level staffer in a department that has been an afterthought at City Hall for at least a decade. In public meetings, he often appears ill-prepared, disorganized and talks at great length on issues no one raised. In face-to-face discussions, he comes across as exactly the kind of amateurish, pie-in-the-sky ideologue that is anathema to the developers and business interests who are a core constituency for any effective planning official.
As for the PLANiTULSA effort, for which he is seemingly given total credit, Mr. Warlick was merely one participant on an enormous team that included an outside consulting firm paid $1.3 million for their work, the Mayor's staff, a co-project leader, the TMAPC, organized groups composed of leading citizens, and the general public. To imply that PLANiTULSA was somehow the sole creation of Mr. Warlick is not only inaccurate, but slights the contributions of these other parties, many of whom had a much larger role.
In my opinion, appointing Mr. Warlick as Planning Director would be roughly equivalent to promoting a mid-level programmer who worked on one significant project to be CEO of Apple. However, the question is probably moot, as the Administration has made it abundantly clear they want to bring in a "professional planner" from the outside, at great expense and effort. If they had wished to promote Mr. Warlick, or any other City employee for that matter, they have had years to do it. Instead, they have chosen to appoint ... no one.
Perhaps with the selection of a qualified director and a robust in-house planning function to replace the parasitical and biased INCOG, this era of neglect will now come to an end and Tulsa's citizens will finally get the caliber of development-related services they deserve.
Divided We Stand.
(In response to cartoon "Diversity Lane" in February 10-16 issue of Urban Tulsa Weekly)
Seriously?! When did Urban Tulsa Weekly start running these obscene cartoons? This is disgusting.
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