Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Tulsa Firm Working Again in Quest to Get the Third-Penny Sales Tax Reinstated in Tulsa

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Tulsa Firm Working Again in Quest to Get the Third-Penny Sales Tax Reinstated in Tulsa

Article excerpt

Steve Turnbo might have the easiest job in politics. All he has to do is get Tulsa to vote for Abraham Lincoln. Again.

Turnbo - CEO of Tulsa public relations firm Schnake Turnbo Frank - has been selling the same Lincoln-embossed penny to Tulsans since 1980.

U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, a Republican, was mayor in 1980 when he asked Turnbo to run the campaign for a temporary 1-cent sales tax increase that would fund capital improvement projects.

I was a Democrat, and we don't do political candidates, Turnbo said. He wanted to make sure it was nonpartisan.

The money would be used for roads and infrastructure, not for municipal salaries or travel expenses. The projects funded by the extra tax were to be completed within five years, when the tax would expire.

And pass it has. A new set of projects funded by that extra penny has been put before Tulsa voters five times, and five times it's passed. Turnbo's been involved in four of those campaigns, and he's running the penny's re-election campaign again this year. Two Schnake Turnbo Frank staffers, project manager Karen Wicker and Lori Webster, are also working on the sales tax election, but the firm won't make any money on the campaign - Turnbo will lose money.

I live in this community, he said. I've lived here 53 years. I believe in this, and I want this to pass.

Persuading voters to go to the polls to vote on a single issue - one that they've approved five times before - is a logistical tanker carrying a load of detail.

You cannot imagine the amount of minutia that's involved in running one of these, Turnbo said.

Turnbo is responsible for educating the public, while University of Tulsa advertising professor Bill Hinkle handles the ads. There's also the matter of raising the $200,000 the campaign will cost, a job that has always been undertaken by the Chamber of Commerce. It's just that this year, Turnbo also happens to be president of that organization; he'll have to raise the money he's going to spend. …

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