Do the River Campaign Draws Attention

A fourth-generation Tulsan is using his own money to campaign for something

he believes in — Arkansas River development.

David McKinney, an attorney who has practiced law for three decades in the

health care and employee benefits fields, recently ran a

full-page advertisement in the state’s second-largest daily paper promoting

his campaign to “Do the River First.”

McKinney watched as Vision 2025 took shape but neglected river development.

Officials pegged only $10 million for low-water dams.

“I can count money and I know that we need more than $10 million for two

dams — when the estimate for one dam is $14 million,” he said.

Last year, McKinney realized the $62 million Tulsa County sales tax

initiative, “4 to Fix the County,” also failed to take river development

into consideration.

He launched a Web site, http://www.dotheriverfirst.com/who.html to protest

what he said were wrong priorities.

“When I saw that officials at the county level were going to spend $62

million extra on roads to soccer fields, I thought that was iffy,” he said.

“So, I started campaigning to vote down part of the ‘4 to Fix the County,’

and come back with money to devote on river projects.”

While the voters did not agree with McKinney, he has not given up.

When he did not see any of the candidates in the primary and runoff

elections comment about the river, he paid for his own survey and bought a

full-page ad in the Monday newspaper, Aug. 21. A check with the ad

department of the newspaper revealed that a four-color, full-page ad during

a weekday costs $3,000.

“I kept looking in the paper for a reporter to ask candidates the question,”

he said.

McKinney believes in creating an economic zone along the Arkansas River, in

addition to the low water dams, to spur development. One way might be to

earmark surplus Vision 2025 funds. He foresees an entertainment zone and an

office park with a residential mix.

“The west bank is crying for re-development,” he said.

“Let’s get the money and then let people develop their plans,” he said. “If

we do not set the money aside, it will never get done.”

McKinney hopes others will step to the plate and take up the mantle. He

would prefer to be out of the picture.

“I am a behind-the-scenes person,” he said.



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