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Editorial: Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum's state of the city address recognizes strength rising out of a 'century share of calamities'

Editorial: Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum's state of the city address recognizes strength rising out of a 'century share of calamities'

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The resilience of Tulsans in the face of historic challenges deservedly received equal attention from Mayor G.T. Bynum at the annual state of the city address as his thoughts on the future.

At an event hosted by the Tulsa Regional Chamber on Thursday, Bynum called the last two years a “century’s share of calamity.” But, ever the optimist, the mayor said this is the “greatest moment of growth and transformation in my lifetime.”

The two issues are linked. A city that can survive disasters in health, economics and environment without needing major municipal service cuts or federal bailouts will find a way to prosperity.

Tulsa started down this bumpy road with the 2019 floods that lasted for months. The once-in-a-century pandemic ushered in crowded hospitals, overworked health care workers, economic shutdown and uncertainties in education. Businesses closed, unemployment spiked, oil prices tanked and inflation rose.

Don’t forget the polar vortex causing the worst frigid temperatures since the 2007 ice storm, and the city’s most severe cyberattack in its history.

Bynum pointed to the myriad of collaboration throughout the city to get through these lingering emergencies. We echo that gratitude.

Despite these obstacles, Bynum pointed to signs of economic recovery, such as expansions and improvements at American Airlines, Navistar and Amazon. He pointed to changes in how the city grants development permits and works with economic development authorities.

The city landed events including the PGA Championship, Ironman and NCAA National Wrestling Championships. Projects including a new Gilcrease Museum, multi-use development in north Tulsa, a lake in the Arkansas River and a Costco in east Tulsa are on the horizon.

One of Bynum’s bravest and smartest decisions was to focus on equity and inclusion. He supports ongoing research that doesn’t show Tulsa in a positive way when it comes to disparities among races, ethnicities and genders across several measures.

We share his frustration that the improvements are slow or stubbornly stalled. But we back his effort to ensure that the data collection and dedication to this issue continues after he leaves office.

Decades of inequity and inequality cannot be wiped out in a couple of mayoral terms.

We don’t agree with Bynum on all his decisions, including joining the state’s fight to overturn the McGirt ruling that strengthened tribal sovereignty and creating a political action committee to influence City Council elections while he is mayor. That doesn’t mean we don’t find common ground elsewhere.

Bynum gave an address in which we found much to champion and believe the state of the city is strong.

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