POSTED ON MAY 29, 2013:
Please Visit the ____ Arts District. It may be a first step towards a new street name and a different brand name for a vibrant part of Tulsa's downtown.
"I would guess that a lot of things named 'Brady' today won't be named 'Brady' next year," said Tulsa City Councilor Blake Ewing.
Applause from the crowd greeted Ewing's remark, made near the end of a May 23 council meeting again taking up the topic of W. Tate Brady and what should bear his name in modern Tulsa. Brady Street, the Brady Arts District and the Brady Heights neighborhood all are named after Brady, one of the city's founders.
But the civic leader's reputation has taken a severe hit in the last couple of years, with claims that he was very involved with the Ku Klux Klan and may have had a direct role in the Tulsa Race Riot.
The council has the authority to change the name of Brady Street, but no vote is imminent. Instead, Councilor Jack Henderson called for the forming of a committee to report back to the council possible repercussions of such a name change.
COURTESY OF TULSA HISTORICAL SOCIETY
Discussion of the topic began with speakers from the community. For the second week in a row, they again implored the council to have the city rid itself of the Brady name.
After the community speakers, Councilor Phil Lakin noted what he didn't hear.
"I don't see anybody standing in the way of this, nobody really fighting hard for Tate Brady or the preservation of the name or anything else," Lakin said.
The speakers did not identify themselves as residents of those areas with the Brady name, however, and Councilor David Patrick said that residents and business owners in those neighborhoods should have their voice heard.
"This type of change is going to affect a lot of people that live in that area, the Brady District. So I do think that the folks that live in that area and the folks that own business in that area and all should come together to be on this committee," Patrick said.
Henderson suggested that each councilor make appointments p to the committee. Ewing, the city councilor who represents downtown and the Brady Arts District, said he had spoken with people in his district about the idea of a name change.
"I think that it's been made clear to me by the different groups in the downtown Brady association that they're willing to have the conversation. There's no question I think you've got a very open-minded group to that," Ewing said.
More Police, Please. Two Tulsa city councilors have unveiled a plan to fund a second police academy in the coming fiscal year, with others at the council table already expressing support for the idea.
Councilors G.T. Bynum and Karen Gilbert described their proposal to come up with about $2.5 million to train 45 officers, as well as convert 16 positions to civilian staff in an effort to free officers to patrol the streets. The department currently has about 770 officers, and public officials have often spoken about attempting to meet personnel targets set in a 2008 consultant's study.
The councilors' plan pledges about $1.9 million more in funding for police personnel than Mayor Dewey Bartlett's budget proposal, which only funded one police academy.
Instead, Bynum and Gilbert, at a May 23 meeting, proposed mostly nibbling at the edges of funding for other services, programs and administrative expenditures. The largest cuts come at the expense of reducing payments into the city's rainy day fund (a cut of about $668,000) and slicing away at employee benefits (cutting $277,000, though more would still be spent than in the previous fiscal year).
Councilor David Patrick -- who also serves on the city's trash board -- questioned the reasoning behind dropping a reimbursement of about $250,000 to the city's trash board related to legal expenses, but most councilors who spoke seemed in favor of the idea.
"I know, in my district, it's a priority to bring more police officers on, and I think this is a great way to do that," Councilor Jeannie Cue said.
Councilor Skip Steele said, "I can think of no higher priority within the city of Tulsa than creating a safer city, and I, as a councilor, am committed to doing that and think the council is ... I see this as a move in that direction."
Councilor Blake Ewing questioned whether adding police staff was the best use of funds, noting past funding increases for the department and expressing concern that more money to police and fire will continue to "eat up a larger and larger percentage of the budget" at the expense of other city services.
Councilor Jack Henderson spoke about matching actions to statements made in the past by the council.
"I think Councilor Ewing has a good point, but what we're dealing with is what we told the people that we were going to do and what they expect us to do as the administration and council," Henderson said.
OKPOP Funding Request Pulled. The idea had momentum. But devastation in Moore also snuffed out hope that state legislators would approve funding for the proposed OKPOP museum in the Brady Arts District.
The day after the May 21 tornado touched down in Moore, museum proponents formally asked lawmakers to withdraw pending legislation that might have provided $40 million for the project.
COURTESY OF OKPOP MUSEUM
"We need to be thinking first of our fellow Oklahomans who have suffered from this devastating disaster," said Bob Blackburn, executive director of the Oklahoma Historical Society, in a statement released just hours after the storm. The museum would be operated by the society.
Supporters had been buoyed a week earlier by a legislative committee's narrow passage of public funding for what's been described as a "Smithsonian-quality" facility. If funded, it would probably be built at a current parking lot site -- previously announced as likely to be donated by Bank of Oklahoma -- along Archer Street between Boston Avenue and Cincinnati Avenue.
The museum is touted as having a focus beyond just music, with exhibits on Oklahoma contributions to the wider arts communities of cinema, television, and theatre, among others.
The concept has the full support of the Tulsa Regional Chamber, which asked members on Friday, May 17, to email legislators their support for the museum. The chamber pointed out the private funds raised so far for the project.
"This plan would fund OKPOP through existing sales tax revenue, providing the needed state funding to complement over $6 million in public-private funding already committed from the Tulsa region," an email message from the chamber stated.
However, the chamber joined with Blackburn in requesting that funding be shelved this year.
Despite support, the museum may not have been a done deal. The "existing sales tax revenue" cited by the chamber also flows into the state fund that supports education. If the debate over the museum picks up again, legislative decision-makers may be hearing from others besides museum backers.
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