Published March 19, 2016 by Michael Bates (Batesline)
TULSA, OK – Last week, a local TV station spiked a well-researched news story about funding problems for the proposed south Tulsa / Jenks low-water dam and the awareness of Tulsa elected officials of the problem before they voted to put the proposal on the ballot. The story’s sudden withdrawal hints at pressure by local power-brokers, panicked that the public will become aware of the flimsy foundation of the “Vision Tulsa” sales tax proposal. Tulsans will vote three proposed new city taxes and a new county tax up or down in an April 5, 2016, special election.
An extensive 1163-word news story by reporter Rick Maranon about the Muscogee Creek Nation’s refusal to commit to funding for maintenance of the dam was posted to Fox23.com last Tuesday evening, March 15, 2016, then was deleted from the website later the same evening. While long website news stories are typically transcripts of video reports airing on Fox23’s nightly news cast, no such story was aired.
The story cites a letter from Muscogee Creek Nation officials to city leaders, panicked emails among city officials about the implications of the MCN letter, video of council committee meetings, and other sources of information. Reporter Rick Maranon did a solid job of connecting the dots. Here’s one of the more damning excerpts from the story:
FOX23 has reported numerous time within the past year that current and past city officials have stated the current state of the Zink Dam in Tulsa is the result of a lack of proper maintenance funding, and they wanted to set up an endowment so the current disrepair of the dam wouldn’t happen again.
City officials long assumed that the Creek Nation would be more than willing to pick up the tab because of their properties along the river involving Riverspirit Casino and the Flying Tee.
But after FOX23 reported that the Creek Nation was going to set up an endowment, members of the Creek Nation began to contact FOX23 saying they were not aware of the multi-million dollar commitment Tulsa officials had allegedly assumed they would be fine with.
The tribe’s own internal news agency quoted Creek Nation representatives to Tulsa as saying they were not informed of the plan to set up the endowment and partner with Jenks and Tulsa on the dams.
Multiple sources close to the Vision Tulsa project who have been asked not to be identified have simply said city leaders assumed the tribe would be on board without consulting them of their plans before they presented them to voters as a done deal set in stone.
The first officials meeting to discuss an endowment happened on February 11th, and days later, the tribe officially notified city leaders they were out of the Vision low water dam plan….
On February 23rd, Tulsa City Council Vice Chair Anna America stated in an e-mail to councilors, “I think we need to make that clear to the public ASAP, and not try to be ambiguous at the press conference or in any other comments.”
She went on to state in the same e-mail,” I don’t want to wait that long to say there won’t be a south Tulsa dam if the Creeks say today they aren’t participating in funding this year.”
But the request appears to have fallen on deaf ears because two days later on February 25th, Tulsa city leaders launched the Vision Tulsa campaign stating that two low water dams would be built on the Arkansas River if the proposal is approved April 5th.
On Tuesday, March 15, 2016, at 7:58 pm CDT, Fox23 posted the detailed, 1163-word news story, headlined “Tulsa dam plan dead in the water”
The article was posted at the following URL, which now leads to a “404” page.
A person who saw the story on the Fox23 website when it was live reports that it was offline soon after.
As of Saturday, March 19, 2016, at 7:00 pm CDT, however, the story was still available in the cache of the Bing search engine and cache of the Google search engine captured by Bing when they crawled the page during its brief time in existence.
For posterity, I printed both cached versions of the story to PDF, using the Chrome browser’s simplified print option.Follow @FortySixNews