Why you will never see Tulsa's Amazon HQ2 proposal

Don't listen to what they say watch what they do! Their actions always betray them! GT Bynum promised transparency he's delivered the opposite. He wasn't transparent about Kathy Taylor being part of his administration. If he had been he would have lost badly to Bartlett. Bynum has said previously that he didn’t want to keep the details of the Amazon proposal secret. That was a lie. They came up with a scheme to keep the offer secret. 

Mayor G.T. Bynum declared in September that Tulsa would do “whatever it takes” to land Amazon’s second headquarters, but nearly two months after the city’s proposal was submitted, Tulsans have no idea what that means.

And they may never know.

City officials say the Amazon HQ2 proposal is not theirs to release and that they do not have a copy of it. When the Tulsa World filed an open records request in October seeking a copy of the document, the city responded that the request should be sent to the Tulsa Regional Chamber.

“The proposal was submitted by the Tulsa Regional Chamber,” states an Oct. 23 email from the city’s Communications Department.

The chamber subsequently denied the World’s request for a copy of the proposal, saying the organization is not subject to the state’s Open Records Act.

Tulsa is not unique in keeping its Amazon HQ2 proposal under wraps. Most of the 238 submissions have not been made public, and several other cities, including Houston and Austin, submitted their proposals through their local chambers of commerce or other private organizations in part to keep the information private.

Bynum has said previously that he didn’t want to keep the details of the Amazon proposal secret but that to release them could give other cities a competitive advantage as the HQ2 selection process unfolds. Yet approximately two dozen applicants, including Boston, Washington, D.C., the San Francisco Bay area and Missouri, have released their proposals in whole or in part.

“This is going to be, and is, extremely competitive, and I don’t want to tip our hand to one of our competitor cities about what we are doing here in Tulsa when we don’t know what the future of this process looks like,” Bynum said on Oct. 19, the day Amazon proposals were due. “If there are going to be site visits in the next round and further consideration, I don’t want other cities knowing what we are proposing.”

The mayor has described the process of developing the Amazon proposal as a partnership between the city, the chamber and other community members. But the city had never stated publicly that its Amazon proposal would be submitted by the chamber until the World requested a copy of the document.

In early October, when the World informed the city that it would like to do a story about the proposal, it was directed to three high-ranking officials in the Mayor’s Office: Kathy Taylor, chief of economic development; Kian Kimas, deputy chief of economic development; and Nick Doctor, chief of community development and policy. The city never directed questions to the chamber.

When the World, days before the city submitted its proposal, asked for figures related to the Amazon headquarters requirements, the chamber insisted that the numbers would have to come from the city.

The state’s Open Records Act requires a public entity to provide “prompt, reasonable access to its records” but also allows for the entity to establish procedures to maintain the integrity of its records and to prevent excessive disruptions of its work.

City officials said Friday that it is standard procedure for the chamber to handle corporate recruitment efforts in Tulsa.

“As such, the chamber was responsible for the official documentation and final proposal to Amazon,” said Michelle Brooks, spokeswoman for the Mayor’s Office. “City and community leaders offered guidance to the chamber to put forth a strong proposal that would be a direct reflection of the community.”


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