“These were the best of times, these were the worst of times.” – Charles Dickens
For many years, Oklahoma City and Tulsa were considered twins separated by a turnpike, twins with unique personalities, but similar in many respects. In recent years, the two cities have embarked on separate courses – Oklahoma City has chosen a trail of hope, Tulsa has opted for a slide into despair. Oklahoma City has had a series of dreamers and optimists as mayor – Mick Cornett, Kirk Humphries, and Ron Norick. Tulsa has chosen mayors that see a totally different world – Dewey Bartlett, Jr., Kathy Taylor, and Bill LaFortune. The City of Oklahoma City sees the world as a giant land of opportunity. Tulsa sees it as a gray and dangerous place. Oklahoma City is growing. Tulsa is in atrophy. Since 2000, Oklahoma City has grown by 44,000, while Tulsa has shrunk by 7,000. Oklahoma City is controlled by politicians. Tulsa has been commandeered by a legion of lawyers, accountants and “fiscal conservatives” wearing green eyeshades and arm garters.
This week, Dewey Bartlett, Jr. took over as the Mayor of Tulsa. He is the son of the late Dewey Bartlett, Sr. – a prince of a person. Bartlett the senior was the Governor of Oklahoma and later a member of the United States Senate. I loved the man, even though he vetoed the Police and Fire Arbitration Bill in 1970. Bartlett the junior is not his father. He came into the mayor’s office like a grim reaper, immediately announcing draconian layoffs and a not so well thought out plan to use the Tulsa County Sheriff Department as a replacement for terminated police officers.
Tulsa is a very conservative city with a large Republican party (most cops are Republicans). The gospel of self-reliance and small government is preached on a daily basis down at the chamber of commerce and on the pages of the local newspaper – The Tulsa World. One of the bedrock principles of this rugged individualism is recognizing the danger that comes from public sector employee unions – especially the police and fire unions. Ever vigilant, these protectors of capitalism fight the good fight against the socialist unions that would turn their city, and the world, into a bastion of redistribution.
I always find it amusing how so called Laissez-faire, market economy capitalist see labor unions as an unholy alliance of socialist, but see nothing wrong with corporations or the chamber of commerce. A labor union is a collection of workers (one of the elements of production) combining as one to gain a market advantage. A corporation? Just replace the word workers with investors. These same people have no qualms with the chamber of commerce. I do not hear anyone complaining about the collectivism of the chamber. There shouldn’t be any such criticism of corporations or the chamber – both serve a very good purpose. I belong to the Norman Chamber of Commerce.
In the unhappy world of rugged individualism, there is good collectivism and bad collectivism. I will let you figure out which is which. Currently, the City of Tulsa has about 2 police officers per 1,000 citizens. This is the national average. When it comes to pay, the Tulsa Police Department is well below the average and Oklahoma City. The pogram that began Wednesday will not end soon. Much damage will be done to the Tulsa Police and Fire Departments, as well as the City of Tulsa, before this purge is completed. The vile public safety collective bargaining law that the “purist” despise is nothing but a toothless tiger. Nothing that comes from this “collective bargaining process” can be forced on the city unless the city council or the electorate approves the change.
I have worked for the Tulsa Fraternal Order of Police for many years. The anthem sung by the management of the City of Tulsa during those years has been consistent. The City of Tulsa has been in a constant state of financial crisis – every day, every year. Tulsa, Oklahoma is a permanent production of Gotterdammerung – the apocalypse that never ends. If the City of Tulsa was to the win the lottery, it would find a way to portray it as a financial disaster. The constant attack on the police and fire departments has turned into an unrelenting hatred by some city leaders. These “leaders” are demanding “coon skins” nailed to the wall. Mister Bartlett intends to deliver on these demands.
I wonder what causes people to want to come to and remain in Tulsa? Let’s see, maybe it is a big and shinning new city hall full of attorneys and accountants. Or maybe it is a bus system with few riders. Maybe, it is a mayor trashing the police and fire departments. Personal safety? Nah, they don’t care about that foolishness. Bring on the bureaucracy – that is what they want. You say you just got mugged? Suck it up, rugged individualist don’t complain. They endure pain. Sacrifices will have to be made if we are ever going to vanquish the socialist public employee unions. People that leave are nothing but weak and cowardly wimps. See that cop eating a donut? Watch me take him out with a pink slip. Zap! He’s toast.
I live in Norman, a suburb of Oklahoma City. I suddenly feel the urge to go outside and fall on my knees and kiss the ground beneath me and thank God for the place that I live – Oklahoma City, a city with a future and not Tulsa, a city with only a past.