Tahlequah Daily Press


January 7, 2013

City needs money for progress

TAHLEQUAH — Tuesday, Jan. 8, Tahlequah voters will go to the polls to decide the fate of a $21 million tax proposal. The measure will add three-quarters of a cent in sales tax to every dollar spent on applicable purchases within the city limits.

For many residents, it’s a tough call. The economy is still not back up to snuff, and several folks have complained the election was too rushed. The atypically expeditious nature of any proposal from a governmental body – even a city one, and even when officials are generally trusted – raises eyebrows. Also falling under scrutiny were the projects themselves, which some citizens fear aren’t as well-developed as they could be, nor do the blueprints include other worthy projects.

Another issue is the partnership that will give NSU $1.5 million to augment a multipurpose facility now being built. The enhancements will add a “community center” to be used for city functions, but past joint projects have left a bad taste in voters’ mouths. A prime example is the tax to upgrade Gable Field, which many say did not turn out to be as much of a bargain for the community as advocates promised. NSU officials say area residents should not dwell on the past, but should look to the future. That’s very true, especially since the employees at NSU who were most deeply involved in the controversies no longer work there. Certain community members who helped lead the charge on the projects – and did so a bit disingenuously, though NSU got the blame – are also not associated with the current referendum.

Still, once someone’s been burned in the kitchen, it’s hard not to look askance at the burners on the stove, so it’s understandable if voters have reservations. We’ve listened to several people talk about the issue, both pro and con, and we’ve published letters; one appears elsewhere on this page. We’ve also reported in detail on the projects that will fall under this new tax; these stories are still on our website.

In a nutshell, $11 million is earmarked for street improvements, and the rest will go for Phoenix Park renovations; a greenbelt with trails; Phase 2 of the city sports complex; state-of-the-art city vehicle fleet and law enforcement technology; fire department and emergency management equipment and facilities; the NSU augmentation; and a swimming pool. The pool on the drawing board is an outdoor one, but we hope – indeed, we strongly urge – city officials to keep in mind the local Boys & Girls Club and its Stingray swim team, and find a way to enclose the pool so it can be used year-round.

Only on the rarest of occasions has the Press taken a stand in favor of a measure to raise taxes, and first, we do the research. Ultimately we base our position on what we feel to be – as Spock said in “Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan” – “the needs of the many.” That’s a reference Mayor Jason Nichols can appreciate, and we think others will, too. What’s at stake could be the future of Tahlequah as a growing, thriving community. Without an influx of cash, there’s no way to bring our infrastructure up to snuff, and agonizing over mismanagement by former officials is futile. Maintaining status quo might have been possible a few years ago, and it might be now. But status quo offers an image of spinning wheels, of a city that stagnates rather than moving ahead. It’s a city with little to offer young adults to keep them here, and one that can’t attract new residents and businesses to help grow the economy. Such a city, over time, gives even its most steadfast champions fewer markers to point to as sources of pride.

If status quo is good enough, and you really feel you can’t afford the extra 75 cents on every $100 you spend, go ahead and vote no. But if you’re willing to set aside your doubts and step across that admittedly nebulous line into the future,  then say “yes” to this initiative.

If it passes, we’ll make you this pledge: The Daily Press will undertake a regular “Tax Watch” series – semi-monthly, or quarterly at least – to let you know where you’re money’s going, and how it’s being spent. If any one of the involved entities balks at giving us access to records, invoices or communications regarding this tax, or if anything looks fishy, we’ll let you know immediately. We’ll pull no punches, because after all, it’s our money, too.

Trite as it sounds, we’re all in this together, and we all have to work together to make Tahlequah the best it can be. This could be one way to achieve goals that will benefit us all.

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  • As education, good jobs falter, violent crime rate will go up

    As April winds down, and with it Child Abuse Prevention Month, it’s worth again noting that the rate of violence in Oklahoma has been creeping up in recent years. And it’s time for our state’s top leaders – who wear blinders when it comes to anything negative – to discuss what we’re going to do about it.
    Late last year, the FBI listed Oklahoma as the 10th most dangerous state in the union, based on statistics from 2012. Violent crimes are rape, murder, robbery and aggravated assault. Some Okies might find it a bit disconcerting to learn that our state ranked above California and New York in this data. Topping the list was Tennessee, followed by Nevada, Alaska, New Mexico, South Carolina, Delaware, Louisiana, Florida and Maryland.

    April 23, 2014

  • Ban on wage hikes by municipalities a mark of hypocrisy

    The words “God” and “governor” may share the same first two letters, but the two are hardly interchangeable.
    But let’s assume Gov. Mary Fallin really isn’t deluded enough to place her powers on the level of a deity. What rationale would a woman who has championed smaller government and local control use to explain her hypocrisy in banning individual Oklahoma cities from raising minimum wages in their jurisdictions?

    April 18, 2014

  • Community cleanups a good way to ensure our collective success

    This is our community – and it’s no better than what we make it. Let’s make it look great.

    April 16, 2014

  • Attack at school in Pennsylvania: Mental illness root of problem

    Washington’s crusade against guns was dealt a severe blow on Wednesday. No, it wasn’t the Supreme Court curtailment of the Second Amendment right of all Americans to own firearms. It wasn’t an executive order handed down by the administration. It was the brutal assault by a high school student in Pennsylvania against his fellow students – with a knife.

    April 14, 2014

  • People with faulty zippers should be booted from office

    We may forgive, but we shouldn’t forget, because there’s serious work to do in Washington. That work will never be accomplished as long as flawed zippers - literally or figurately – are a pervasive problem.

    April 11, 2014

  • Do your part to fight animal and child abuse

    It’s hard to change the habits of an abuser, especially when mitigating factors – such as alcohol or drugs – are involved. And these patterns tend to repeat themselves in successive generations. But all of us can take one small step to help eradicate this epidemic, and that is to report it when we see it.

    April 9, 2014

  • NSA head lies to Congress, and seems to get away with it

    Is there an obvious pattern of criminality within these governmental agencies? If so, why isn’t the Judicial Department investigating?

    April 7, 2014

  • Pass for rich kiddie rapist proves that justice isn’t blind

    Someone in Wilmington, Del., needs to keep an eye on Superior Court Judge Jan Jurden for the next few months, because she might improve her standard of living due to a sudden influx of cash.
    There’s no other way to explain why Jurden would have sentenced an ultra-wealthy heir to the du Pont fortune to probation for raping his 3-year-old daughter. It’s an outrageous miscarriage of justice that once again proves when it comes to the U.S. justice system, the elite get a pass almost every time.

    April 4, 2014

  • Maybe it’s not $3.2B, but state should still account for tribal cash

    In an editorial published last week, the Daily Press said that through tribal compacts, the state of Oklahoma received about $3.2 billion in annual revenue, partly attributable to the 117 casinos (or 118, in some reports) run by 33 tribes in the state. The information we accessed for that piece was confusing, and had a typo or two, which may have led us to overstate – to a considerable degree – how much money the tribes actually give the state.

    April 2, 2014

  • Tribal compacts should mean state has money to perform its functions

    Oklahoma should be rolling in the dough. The statistics bear that out. Thirty-three American Indian tribes operate 117 casinos in this state. Thanks to “compacts,” these tribes have been sharing the wealth with the state of Oklahoma. And thanks to the casinos, that wealth is substantial.

    March 28, 2014


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