POSTED ON JUNE 5, 2013:
Love Letters, Hate Mail
Pass the Bus
(re: Op/Ed, May 23-29)
I just read Bill Leighty's article "PlaniTulsa Revisited" and was struck by a coincidence: the gist of what Leighty argues is identical with my remarks in a very brief conversation I had 24 hours ago in the conference room of the Hyatt Hotel with Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett.
With the words "I'm tired of talking to you," Mayor Bartlett -- now in the last days of his first term, and perhaps his only term, in office -- chose to end his two-minute-long conversation with me. Mayor Bartlett quickly tired of the conversation because I brought up questions about public transportation, and I brought up the fact that Tulsa's bus system is ranked next-to-worst in America, with Oklahoma City's bus system the only one ranked lower.
I had the opportunity to ask Bartlett these questions because he was at the opening of the 2013 John Hope Franklin Center for Reconciliation conference. The JHF Center is concerned with social justice; as keynote speaker David Blatt pointed out immediately after Bartlett exited, public transportation is important for social justice. I don't own a car, and whenever I take the Jefferson Lines bus or the OSU shuttle bus to travel to Tulsa, I then must use Tulsa transit to get around town. Therefore, I have often experienced how inadequate Tulsa transit is. Furthermore, on my bus trips in Tulsa I observe that about two-thirds of bus riders are African-American, about one-fourth of bus riders are Hispanic or Native American, and less than one-tenth are Caucasian. To escape the trap of poverty, people of all colors need buses for transportation to job interviews, to workplaces, and to colleges.
As Leighty's article pointed out, and as I am well aware, former Tulsa mayor Kathy Taylor spent a year in Boston following her term in office. Boston is where I resided before moving to Oklahoma, and I got along just fine there without a car. In fact, in the years I lived there, I didn't know one single person in Boston who owned a car. Following Kathy Taylor's career in recent years, I was pleased to find out that she came around to my way of thinking and became an advocate for public transportation after living in Boston without a car. This week at the JHF Center conference, I was impressed when I noticed that Taylor spent several hours at the conference, as compared with the ten minutes Bartlett spent at the conference.
The Tulsa League of Women Voters candidate forum showed that Taylor is by far the strongest advocate of public transportation among the mayoral candidates. Bill Christiansen is weak on this issue, but no candidate is as weak on public transportation as Bartlett is. Both publicly and privately, Bartlett has always been dismissive of the importance of public transportation initiatives.
For the sake of struggling Tulsa residents and for the sake of visitors like me, I hope Tulsa voters will consider these facts.
-- Randi EldevikA Modest Proposal
Jobs have been lost in this country for over 30 years due to our lack of competitiveness. It's cheaper to go out of the country for most manufacturers than to make products here. People who haven't lost their jobs are squeezed to do more with less. Sound familiar? How do we fix this?
There a few ways, but two of them are: 1) cut 75 percent out of our wages and benefits (a $20-an-hour job is reduced to $5) or 2) change our income tax system. A no-brainer. There is a bill in Congress -- HR25, the Fair Tax bill -- that guts the current federal tax on income and replaces it with a tax on consumption of new goods and services. The economy thrives as good paying jobs return. Without taxes on income, $14 trillion that sits offshore can return to be invested in America. More than 95 percent of the IRS is no longer needed, and the $400 billion spent annually to comply with our current tax system can be invested in more productive things.
Today's system penalizes productivity, hard work, investments, savings, and other things Americans and good old common sense tells us to do.
Call your Congressman today and tell him to support the Fair Tax Bill.
-- Anthony Gasbarro
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