Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Who will ride to the rescue of Bell's?

Who will ride to the rescue of Bell's Amusement Park?

Several neighbor cities to Tulsa have indicated a willingness to become its new home, including Broken Arrow, Sand Springs, Owasso, Bixby and Jenks. Now one Tulsa city councilor is jumping into the fray on the Bell's side of things. Bill Christiansen reportedly will ask the mayor and other councilors to approve a resolution in support of Bell's continued presence in the city.

That's nice. It may fall well short of convincing the county commissioners and fair board to mend their ways, and it isn't much of a carrot for Bell's, especially not after the latest salvo from Expo Square officialdom. A letter from president Rick Bjorklund to Bell's attorneys dated last Thursday stated that there will be "no further consideration" of the park's future at Expo Square.

And this after, and in spite of, Bell's agreement, with a condition, to allow its books to be audited by an independent trio of accountants. The condition? That the information contained in Bell's business plan "not be disseminated outside" the fair board offices.

One is left to conclude that this was a deal-breaker for Bjorklund and the county commissioners. Why? It seems reasonable enough on the surface. Is it possible that the plan all along was to pass the Bell's information on to others? Is it possible that it was, in truth, the only reason for requiring Bell's to jump through this particularly hoop? And that the condition insisted upon by Bell's would put the fairgrounds officials in jeopardy should any information get to persons who have no business having it? People who, perhaps, are planning to go into business directly competing with Bell's?

Ah, yes! Many questions, no clear answers. Lots of stench and smoke, metaphorically speaking. A devilishly strange development.

Robby Bell, interviewed on KFAQ this morning, said that if he were a rich man ("if I won the lottery") he'd fight the good fight to expose what is happening. And that's what it would take: a small fortune for litigators and investigators to find out what's really going on behind the scenes, air it out for the public, and let the chips fall where they may.

The citizens of Tulsa County, the people who pay the bills and who do (in the paraphrased words of George Bailey) most of the working, living and dying here, deserve far, far better than the cronyism and insider politics that lately has been fobbed off on us from some of our government officials.

Bjorklund, in his latest letter, said, "it is evident that Bell's is not a viable, ongoing business ..."

If that is true, it is largely because he and the other fairgrounds officials have established impossible conditions that will create the lack of viability. If that is true.

Bell was asked if he can survive while he attempts to relocate the amusement park. "I don't know," he answered. To the point, and honest.

State Labor Commissioner Brenda Reneau was quoted in the local newspaper, attempting to set the record straight on Bell's safety record:

Also, in a letter to the Tulsa County Commission, outgoing Oklahoma Labor Commissioner Brenda Reneau defended Bell's against what she called "incorrect" reports in the media regarding Bell's safety record.

"Throughout this decade, Bell's performance has been excellent," she wrote in the letter, dated Nov. 17. The park's "management and staff are always responsive to issues that arise during the inspection process and prompt to correct any noted discrepancies," the letter continued.

The Department of Labor oversees amusement park safety inspections.

We do not suggest that Bell's Amusement Park is a perfectly run organization. Doubtless there are improvements that could be made. Perhaps a new start would be the incentive for positive changes, an improved park and improved operations, an even better experience for Tulsa-area and Oklahoma residents. Bell's has been between a rock and a hard place for a long time, with Expo Square's intransigence on one side, and noise-weary neighbors on the other. A move to more wide-open acres on land less fraught with bureaucratic interference, could be just the thing.

But for this to happen some community is going to have to step forward to help with more than just lip service.

Finally, there was talk this morning of the idea of a grassroots movement to petition for a grand jury investigation of the fairgrounds operation.

That's not necessarily a bad idea.

However, the process is slow. It will not resolve the Bell's problem. If people want to push for a grand jury probe, that's fine by us. Just don't think that it is a cure-all.


At 1:25 AM, Anonymous rasputin mcgillicuddy said...

At this point, I'm too weary to believe that the b#$@%rds are getting away with it. That's not entirely true. I do believe that they are kicking Bell's out. I do believe that it was in this blog where the Good Book was quoted in saying that the evil people prefer their deeds done in the dark and away from the light and the scrutiny that comes with it. This is the case with the Randi Miller and her "others". They surely don't want their ultimate plans out in the open for all to see.

It is touching for me to read about all of the positive feedback that the Tulsa community and the surrounding communities have in favor of Bell's. I just pray that there is somebody who is willing to put forth something more than good sentiment. If Bell's isn't to operate in the Tulsa city limits, that's fine. Just as long as they re-open in a community that is close enough for a short drive. I'm not too sure how the Tulsa city council can keep the park in town. They have talked about annexing the fairgrounds, but I'm not too sure if they have the jurisdiction. If they do, would it be economically feasible? And if it would, why haven't they thought of it before now?

All of this business with the County Commissioners makes me sick. Our American lives are being changed for the worse by people whom we elected to represent our interests. I'm certain that I would rather have a family owned business paying rent on county land than some guy who has his corporate headquarters in a different country. The Bell family has been in Tulsa for years, and gave me my first job. I'm not alone here.

I don't know what it takes to affect change on this level, the County Commissioners seem so apathetic to the views of the common Tulsan. All I do know, is that I'm going to support Bell's any way that I can. It is a big reason that Tulsa is Tulsa, and not just a generic "every-city".

I just need an outlet to work within. I need somebody who has knowledge of the law and who knows the options that are on the table. I feel so helpless right now that I could scream. If somebody out there has any ideas on how these b@#$ards can be held accountable, please let me know. Thanks for letting me vent.

At 7:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So, Bell's Amusement Park has to move. It's not a "big deal". If they are in good shape financially (as they claim to be), they'll survive and prosper.

But, I expect they are out of business for good, and all the talk of relocation is just talk.

If it made the kind of money they claim it did, the old park wouldn't have gotten so run down and decrepit.

Anyway, I think most Tulsans are tired of hearing about the Bells and their mismanagement problems.


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