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Author Topic: Senator Says Enough to OKC American Indian Museum Funding Requests  (Read 15075 times)
dsjeffries
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« on: February 12, 2012, 10:24:57 am »

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“I think what we're doing here is asking the rest of the state taxpayers to subsidize our economic development in Oklahoma City,” Treat said.

Ya think?! It's about time a legislator finally is raising these questions.

http://newsok.com/oklahoma-lawmakers-question-financing-for-american-indian-cultural-center-and-museum/article/3648026#ixzz1mBVITMX9

Quote
Some Oklahoma lawmakers are questioning the capabilities and finances of a state agency that has worked since 1994 to build the American Indian Cultural Center and Museum, which remains half completed.
 
“There is way too much money being spent on salaries by an entity that hasn't completed the reason it exists,” said Sen. Patrick Anderson, R-Enid. “The fact that we haven't been able to finish the project raises concerns.”

Anderson has two bills dealing with the stalled cultural center at the intersection of Interstates 40 and 35.

One bill would eliminate the state agency that was created 18 years ago by lawmakers to build the cultural center and would give the project instead to the Oklahoma Historical Society. The other bill requires annual audits of the agency.

In addition to the $67.4 million the state has provided for construction of the cultural center, every year the state appropriates $1.5 million to run the Native American Cultural and Educational Authority.

The agency spends just shy of a million dollars a year on salaries, wages and benefits, according to self-reported audits from the State Auditors Office. The agency spends less than $30,000 every year on travel and $40,000 a year on rent for the agency's office at 900 N Broadway. Additionally the agency spends about $100,000 a year on advertising and printing.

‘Modest budget'
Gena Timberman, director of the cultural center and museum, said the bulk of their allocation goes to salaries and then they use the remaining half million dollars to run the agency.

“We're proud to report that we operate on a modest budget actually for what we're doing,” Timberman said. “Other cultural centers and museums are created, they're actually built around a collection and pre-existing staff ... We have to create, to craft, the institutional identity pre-opening.”
While the 125,000 square foot building is being constructed, Timberman and her staff have been traveling throughout the state meeting with tribes and developing content for the museum.

The newly hired executive director for the authority, Blake Wade, said one of his jobs was to investigate and ensure that the agency has been financially accountable for the past 10 years.

“I found through going through all of their audits that all accountability has been secured,” Wade said.

Wade, who works part-time for $40,000 a year, is heading up the effort to raise $40 million in private funds to finish the project. The agency is asking for an additional $40 million from the state this year to match the private funds and complete the project.

“Since there has been a change in the executive director position they have gotten serious about raising some private dollars,” said Sen. Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City. “My problem with it is it's all contingent upon us passing a $40 million bond issue. I am opposed to indebting the state more.”

Bond issue vote
Treat has proposed a bill that would make the bond issue a vote of the people.

“If it's the will of the people to indebt ourselves over $100 million on this project, then it's the will of the people. I don't think it is though,” Treat said.

Wade said that the additional $80 million in private and public funding would be enough to complete the cultural center by December 2014. The total cost of the project will be $170 million and from the date of groundbreaking in 2007 will have taken eight years.

The Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C. opened in September 2004 after five years of construction and $200 million.
The Oklahoma History Museum in Oklahoma City took approximately six years to complete and cost approximately $62 million.

Timberman said it's difficult to compare projects because of unique issues facing each. The land Oklahoma City donated for the museum was a contaminated flood zone when the project first began, and the site preparation slowed the project considerably.

“Any time you delay commencement or completion, the cost is going to change,” Timberman said. “The fiscally responsible thing to do would be to complete the project.”

Offset the cost
She said once the museum opens it will begin generating revenue to offset the cost to the state.

Bob Blackburn, executive director of the Oklahoma Historical Society, said that scrutiny of a project and an agency is a good thing.

“At one time a legislator in 1991 or 1992 attempted to abolish the Oklahoma Historical Society,” Blackburn said. “It allowed us to focus on mission, responsibility and authority. It created a conversation with the House members who were upset about a number of things.”

Obviously the agency persevered, and Blackburn said it indirectly led to the creation of the Oklahoma History Museum.

Today his agency oversees 32 museums throughout the state.

He said that museum creation is a difficult task. When the Oklahoma History Museum was being constructed he had a team of 20 employees in addition to a number of hired consultants working on exhibits.

“We rented a 20,000 square foot bowling alley to stage our museum project on North Lincoln,” Blackburn said. “Museum building is an expensive business. If you want Smithsonian quality, National Archives quality, it costs.”

Blackburn said he knows that the American Indian Cultural Center and Museum is aiming for that level of product.

Timberman said that in addition to the museum, her agency is responsible for three other projects: an 8,000 square foot visitor center, a 250 acre park and 40 acres of commercial property that will be developed.

The agency, using privately raised funds held by a separate nonprofit entity, has hired The Greeby Companies, a Chicago-based consultant firm to help attract investors for the 40 acre mixed-use development.

The company cost $350,000 in fiscal year 2009 and $275,000 in fiscal year 2008.

‘Nonstate funds'
“We've used nonstate funds for the benefit of the state,” Timberman said. “They've shepherded us through the process, assisted us with feasibility of the development opportunities and selection of potential developers.”

The commercial park will benefit the state financially for ever, she said.

Senators Treat and Anderson both said they feel the project is a good thing for the state, however, it was not a priority project.

“I think what we're doing here is asking the rest of the state taxpayers to subsidize our economic development in Oklahoma City,” Treat said.
Anderson said he thinks bond issues for the state Capitol and for the Medical Examiner's office should take precedence.

“I'm very cautious about any bond issues, borrowing money from the state of Oklahoma,” Anderson said. “There's over a billion dollars in bond requests that are out there.”
Wade and Timberman said the state made a commitment to completing this project as an economic development tool for the entire state.
They estimate it will have 425,000 visitors annually and generate $3.8 billion in economic impact over 20 years.

I'd also like to point out that the state has already spent $67.4 million on this endless project through various bonds and are now asking for an additional $40 million, while smaller projects promised to Tulsa leaders get tossed. The American Indian Museum in Tulsa, Arkansas River dams, Oklahoma Museum of Pop Culture, John Hope Franklin Park, Greenwood Cultural Center, Oklahoma State University Medical Center, Heartland Flyer extension, Oklahoma Centennial Botanical Gardens and others come to mind as projects either canceled, scaled back or that were required to find private funding because the Oklahoma State Legislature didn't fulfill its promise of funding or because they deem it frivolous and wrong to boost Tulsa's economic or cultural development at the expense of the rest of the state. We're a donor city and have been since 1907.

I know the charge has been raised before, but when are Tulsa's leaders going to stand up for our area? And for that matter, when is the rest of the state going to tire of funding a never-ending stream of projects that benefit only Oklahoma City? "Need another $40 million for that unfinished steel head dress that's cost nearly $70 million already? We'll have to get support from our legislators representing Tulsa." Tulsa reps: "We'll support it as long as you'll support some projects in Tulsa." All: "We've got a deal!" Next week: "Sorry Tulsa friends, couldn't find the money for your project after we spent it on our projects."
« Last Edit: February 12, 2012, 10:31:25 am by dsjeffries » Logged

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AquaMan
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« Reply #1 on: February 12, 2012, 11:39:53 am »

Maybe there is some awareness of OKC grabbing off funds from the rest of the state. But we should beware. It was a representative from Enid that tried to shut off funding for Zink Dam repair and improvements. Maybe the rest of the state is just tired of funding anything in the larger cities which includes Tulsa.

It is hard to understand how a state named after the Indians has such difficulty funding an American Indian museum. Even if there are no improprieties in accounting, one has to wonder if the right personnel was put in charge of fundraising.
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DTowner
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« Reply #2 on: February 12, 2012, 01:28:20 pm »

Maybe there is some awareness of OKC grabbing off funds from the rest of the state. But we should beware. It was a representative from Enid that tried to shut off funding for Zink Dam repair and improvements. Maybe the rest of the state is just tired of funding anything in the larger cities which includes Tulsa.

It is hard to understand how a state named after the Indians has such difficulty funding an American Indian museum. Even if there are no improprieties in accounting, one has to wonder if the right personnel was put in charge of fundraising.

It has always been unclear to me how this organization was allowed to start construction with state bond money without actually having the necessary private money raised or pledged.  It's as if they knew if they started it, the state would feel obligated to pay to finish it.  Indeed, even Gov. Fallen used that argment last year in arguing additional state bond money should be used to finish the project.  If the Oklahoma Pop Musuem ever gets any state funding, you can be sure that it will not be allowed to start construction until all the private money is raised.

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TheArtist
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« Reply #3 on: February 12, 2012, 04:24:59 pm »

  From what I have hear, even the tribes arent really interested in this thing.  Also, per the Oklahoma Pop Museum, the state is now requiring that we pay for and submit a more detailed architectural "build out" assessment, which I believe is just about finished up, so that our museum won't run into the same huge cost overruns the Indian Museum has.  Smart thing to do, just wish they had done it for the Indian Museum as well. Lessons learned Hindsight is 20/20 I guess. 
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heironymouspasparagus
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« Reply #4 on: February 12, 2012, 09:54:51 pm »

Sounds like the Indians have learned the art of graft and corruption from the legislature.

Or their Mafia Casino buddies.

Probably both....


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Conan71
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« Reply #5 on: February 14, 2012, 01:34:37 pm »

I noticed the Whirled finally got around to running this story this morning.  If you've seen the site, it's pretty unbelievable to realize that this will have cost almost as much as the BOK Center when it is finished.  Certainly they could have already had this done for the money spent already.  There really needs to be a full accounting and some people held accountable finally.
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heironymouspasparagus
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« Reply #6 on: February 14, 2012, 03:17:19 pm »

I noticed the Whirled finally got around to running this story this morning.  If you've seen the site, it's pretty unbelievable to realize that this will have cost almost as much as the BOK Center when it is finished.  Certainly they could have already had this done for the money spent already.  There really needs to be a full accounting and some people held accountable finally.

You must have seen that big pile of dirt they made...ain't that coooooolllll??

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Conan71
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« Reply #7 on: February 14, 2012, 03:29:17 pm »

You must have seen that big pile of dirt they made...ain't that coooooolllll??



Yeah, a big dump.  How prophetic.  Somehow, they brought in the Oklahoma History Museum for around $60 or $70 mil.  Somehow, they've managed to build several boathouses in the same "contaminated flood plain" in less than a year each and for $5 mil or less fully-equipped.  $170 million for 125,000 square feet?  Really?  That's $1360 a foot!


This is a huge waste and I suppose it's gone on long enough because everyone is so God damned afraid of being called a racist these days even when it comes to ending huge waste of taxpayer resources.
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heironymouspasparagus
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« Reply #8 on: February 14, 2012, 04:13:23 pm »

Yeah, a big dump.  How prophetic.  Somehow, they brought in the Oklahoma History Museum for around $60 or $70 mil.  Somehow, they've managed to build several boathouses in the same "contaminated flood plain" in less than a year each and for $5 mil or less fully-equipped.  $170 million for 125,000 square feet?  Really?  That's $1360 a foot!


This is a huge waste and I suppose it's gone on long enough because everyone is so God damned afraid of being called a racist these days even when it comes to ending huge waste of taxpayer resources.

Another one of those times we are on not just the same page, but line number, word and letter....
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cannon_fodder
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« Reply #9 on: February 14, 2012, 06:03:14 pm »

Waste with a capital "W".

The tribes are not behind this project... they have  little interested.  Particularily since the OSage, Cherokee, Creek, Pawnee, and Chotaw are no where near the thing (read:  the largest tribes in the state accounting for the vast majority of tribal members as well as wealth).  NO part of OKC is even within tribal jurisdiction.  In the time it has taken to pretend to build this thing the tribes have built their own cultural centers (and Universities, and business centers, and hotels, and casinos, and...).

It may have been a good idea for the initial $50mil (or whatever) they proposed .  It is a horrible idea at $200 million (sunk cost + interest on the money we borrowed to do it) plus $1mil a year to keep from admitting it is a horrible idea.  Admit we screwed up, it isn't working. 

And that isn't even mentioning the fact that Tulsa constantly gets screwed on funding projects...
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Conan71
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« Reply #10 on: February 14, 2012, 06:14:29 pm »

Waste with a capital "W".

The tribes are not behind this project... they have  little interested.  Particularily since the OSage, Cherokee, Creek, Pawnee, and Chotaw are no where near the thing (read:  the largest tribes in the state accounting for the vast majority of tribal members as well as wealth).  NO part of OKC is even within tribal jurisdiction.  In the time it has taken to pretend to build this thing the tribes have built their own cultural centers (and Universities, and business centers, and hotels, and casinos, and...).

It may have been a good idea for the initial $50mil (or whatever) they proposed .  It is a horrible idea at $200 million (sunk cost + interest on the money we borrowed to do it) plus $1mil a year to keep from admitting it is a horrible idea.  Admit we screwed up, it isn't working. 

And that isn't even mentioning the fact that Tulsa constantly gets screwed on funding projects...

Just curious how many homeless people in downtown OKC could have been helped by $200mm over 15 years?  It would be interesting to look at the genesis of this project and figure out whose brother-in-law or sister-in-law stood to benefit from this. 
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« Reply #11 on: February 15, 2012, 10:06:59 am »

Keep in mind Tulsa was supposed to get a museum like this as well but got no state support (or tribal really for that matter)

The project in OKC was way too big, way too expensive and needs to sit half-finished just like it is until someone decides to donate the money to finish or it gets sold to a developer for an office park.
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shadows
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« Reply #12 on: February 15, 2012, 08:05:45 pm »

We want your plantations you have developed and we will give you in exchange this land forever as long as the wind blows and the water flows.  We will move you at our expense to your new home where you can establish your own government.   
Just hold up, you sided with the South in the war of 1860 and the Glenpool strike of an enormous pool of oil was discovered.  Now to make the Sooner’s legal we are going to open the Promised Land up to settlers.  Now you want us to spend money on building you a museum.   Ridiculous!   
« Last Edit: February 15, 2012, 08:39:16 pm by shadows » Logged

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« Reply #13 on: February 16, 2012, 09:57:37 am »

So, just blurt it out Shadows. "WE AIN'T HELPIN' NO STINKIN' WHITEYS EVEN IF IT MEANS OUR HISTORY IS KEPT TO OURSELVES!"

You act like the tribes live on a separate planet that the Romulons Ferengi's own.
« Last Edit: February 16, 2012, 10:34:21 am by AquaMan » Logged

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Townsend
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« Reply #14 on: February 16, 2012, 10:02:35 am »


You act like the tribes live on a separate planet that the Romulons own.

Romulans don't recognize ownership like the Ferengi.
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