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Thread: OKC Chamber speaks out on Sally Kern

  1. #1

    Default OKC Chamber speaks out on Sally Kern

    OKC Chamber: Kern spooks big biz relocation consultant
    Journal Record
    April 16, 2008

    OKLAHOMA CITY – A San Francisco Bay-area financial services company has not yet ruled out Oklahoma City for a major office relocation, a vice president of a real estate search firm confirmed. A decision is expected in three to four weeks.

    But Tom Maloney, vice president of California-based Staubach Co., would neither confirm nor deny that the 1,000-employee, AAA-rated client company’s top executive is a lesbian who expressed concern over Oklahoma Rep. Sally Kern’s recent anti-homosexual statements, as has been the topic circulating among local business leaders.

    Roy Williams, president of the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber, said the issue is a major concern the chamber is trying to address. He confirmed a Staubach consultant was troubled by Kern’s comments during a recent visit to the city.“He told us straight up … ‘I cannot recommend to any of my clients that they should consider Oklahoma City because of that,’” Williams said.

    “When you have one of the nation’s premier relocation experts making those statements, you should pay attention to that and not dismiss it.“And that’s immediately what happened: People said, ‘Well, then tell them not to come here.’

    The problem with that is they (relocating firms) represent many of the Fortune 500 companies. And to be so dismissive of something that’s a lot more sincere than people are giving credit, to me, shows a lack of understanding of what’s really going on.”

    Kern’s comments in March gained attention nationwide after her screed before a small audience was recorded and posted on the video-sharing Web site YouTube. She called homosexuality a greater threat than terrorism.

    “Not everybody’s lifestyle is equal, just like not all religions are equal,” Kern said. “No society that has totally embraced homosexuality has lasted more than, you know, a few decades. So it’s the death knell of this country.”

    Williams confirmed a Staubach representative was invited to Oklahoma shortly thereafter, but it was not directly related to Kern. He said the state Department of Commerce was seeking consultants to meet with Gov. Brad Henry’s economic development team to discuss a wide range of issues.

    Williams did not attend the meeting, but the chamber was one of the sponsors of the dinner event so he received a lot of feedback.“ He was here as a guest, to pick his brain,” Williams said. “It was just an unbelievable coincidence that it happened like that.”

    At the Commerce Department, Business Services Deputy Director Sandy Pratt said it’s not unusual to bring business placement consultants such as Staubach to the state for feedback. Of the new businesses looking to come into Oklahoma, 40 percent to 50 percent are represented by site relocation specialists, she said. But she said Kern’s comments have not been raised as a concern: “It did not come up in any of the governor’s economic development team meetings with consultants or discussions we’ve had with consultants,” Pratt said.“We really try to focus on the positive attributes of the state. … We work with clients, and from time to time there always challenges and issues related to specific sites or incentives or other things around the state,” she said.

    The significance of the Staubach visit to Oklahoma has grown with e-mail rumors.

    A representative of a national gay-lesbian-bisexual-transgender (GLBT) organization said notes are being circulated that the unidentified company is actually a motorist group – skewing references to the company’s triple-A credit rating – that 6,000 jobs are involved, and that the executive stormed out of the meeting in anger.

    When asked about Kern’s recorded statements and their effect on any potential company relocations to Oklahoma City, Maloney said, “I’ve got no comment as to what, if any, impact that they’ve had.”

    Maloney had little to say on his current project either, other than to confirm that Oklahoma City is “still on the list” and that a decision about his client’s relocation is expected in three or four weeks.

    Jeb Conrad, executive director of the Indianapolis Economic Development agency, confirmed Indianapolis is also a finalist for the same financial services office relocation.“Their (Staubach’s) reputation and respect, and the fact that we’ve had interaction with them before, gave us a high comfort level that we weren’t just competing for a dog of a company. … We have faith in this company that it’s going to be a quality opportunity,” Conrad said. “Indianapolis and Oklahoma City both have some good insurance and back-office opportunities, and very similar cost factors and real estate, versus the cost element that’s associated with San Francisco.

    “From my understanding from the consultant, we’ve both put pretty good deals on the table,” Conrad said. Williams said business relocations to Oklahoma City have slowed down, as they have nationwide. “There’s still a fair number of announcements that happen. But it is not the way it was three, four or five years ago,” he said. “It has slowed down a little bit, which generally reflects the economic situation nationally. As a result, we have fewer relocation announcements than what we’ve had. I see that in talking with my colleagues everywhere.”The downturn in relocations has been counterbalanced by the expansion of existing companies and rise in entrepreneurship, he said, helping the city gain a net 12,000 new jobs in the past year.

    Pratt and Williams cited the state’s college work force, low cost of living, financial incentives and high per capita income as attractive elements. The city’s quality of life is improving as well, Williams said, with a wider ranger of leisure activities and creative outlets.

    As for Kern’s comments, “They no doubt send a message out there that no city wants to send, and that is one of divisiveness instead of unitedness,” he said.

    For the last five years, the chamber has made a greater effort “to embrace differences and embrace diversity, to build a community that is open and welcoming to anyone.” “What we’re trying to do is show people what happens here and the real experience, as opposed to one person’s opinion. Because when we bring a company in, we encourage them to talk with HR (human resources) people and CEOs, to ask them pointed questions about these kinds of issues,” Williams said. “The way the community operates and functions is quite different from what one or two people may wish it were.”

    Kern was not immediately available for comment.

  2. #2

    Default Re: OKC Chamber speaks out on Sally Kern

    20 years from now, Sally and her buch of yokels will be a distant memory (I hope).

  3. #3

    Default Re: OKC Chamber speaks out on Sally Kern

    Quote Originally Posted by Midtowner View Post
    20 years from now, Sally and her buch of yokels will be a distant memory (I hope).
    Only if people vote accordingly...

  4. #4

    Default Re: OKC Chamber speaks out on Sally Kern

    Quote Originally Posted by mecarr View Post
    Only if people vote accordingly...
    Which will likely not happen if current "value voting" trends continue. When people stopped voting for economic policies, and started focusing more on their own individual or specific group "values," this country started on a huge downturn. I'm becoming less and less optimistic that we'll ever recover.

    I'm not saying there is no merit in values voting. But what I am saying is the state of the economy and the country's place in the world is much more important. Most voters in this day and age don't see it that way.

  5. #5

    Default Re: OKC Chamber speaks out on Sally Kern

    This is exactly the kind of stuff I thought would happen. See here:

    http://www.unitedstatesofmichael.com..._winning_.html

  6. #6

    Default Re: OKC Chamber speaks out on Sally Kern

    Quote Originally Posted by FritterGirl View Post
    Which will likely not happen if current "value voting" trends continue. When people stopped voting for economic policies, and started focusing more on their own individual or specific group "values," this country started on a huge downturn. I'm becoming less and less optimistic that we'll ever recover.

    I'm not saying there is no merit in values voting. But what I am saying is the state of the economy and the country's place in the world is much more important. Most voters in this day and age don't see it that way.
    Iran is also a value voting nation.

  7. #7

    Default Re: OKC Chamber speaks out on Sally Kern

    Quote Originally Posted by FritterGirl View Post
    and less optimistic that we'll ever recover.

    I'm not saying there is no merit in values voting. But what I am saying is the state of the economy and the country's place in the world is much more important. Most voters in this day and age don't see it that way.
    What I think you are trying to say is Money is more important than values.

  8. #8

    Default Re: OKC Chamber speaks out on Sally Kern

    No. What I'm saying is that people think about their personal "agenda" (whatever that may be - guns, religion, gay rights, environmental issues, etc.) before they think about overall economics, economic development - things that could benefit the nation/state/city as a whole.

    Kern is very much as example of what I'm talking about. She doesn't care what harm her "brand" of values do to the people they are targeted at, nor about how her words and attitude could reflect upon outsiders and their opinion about Oklahoma as a whole. She only cares about pushing her singular agenda, which is, in this instance, proving potentially detrimental to the economic development of our State, an issue that as an elected official, she should be very much concerned about.

  9. #9

    Default Re: OKC Chamber speaks out on Sally Kern

    Couldn't agree more, Fritter Girl. Ms. Kern is not in my district, but I will be contributing to her opponent in the next election, as long as s/he has a differing platform. I'll probably help with yard signs as well, as I've not got lots of experience with that after the March 4th campaign

  10. #10

    Default Re: OKC Chamber speaks out on Sally Kern

    What I think you are trying to say is Money is more important than values.
    What I think she was saying is that values are about private policy and the economy is more about public policy. "Values" voting is a form of trying to make private policy into public policy. That is, that people like Kern and her supporters are more interested in using public platforms and government influence to dictate personal decision like lifestyle, relationships, religion, etc even at the expense of a prudent public policy consistent with liberty that feels these decisions are best left up to individuals and the private organizations in which they participate.

    One has to ask oneself why any company would want to locate in an area where their potential recruits are told they are not welcomed. Certainly, as is this case here, no one is going to locate their own company in a place where they themselves are not welcomed, especially when they can easily go elsewhere and get the same benefits without being ridiculed by local leadership.

    Honestly, there are people like Kern almost everywhere, the difference is that many in Oklahoma don't do anything to mitigate her rhetoric, especially people in public places. Many have defended her right to say what she said, and that's fine, but that would also mean that other elected officials have the right to condemn what she said and confirm that her beliefs do not represent all of Oklahoma or its policies. It seems no one has done this, at least not in any way that has effectively countered the impact of her statements.

    If the chamber really wants to "speak out", it should publicly and explicitly say that not only are Kern's statements inconsistent with the policies of Oklahoma City, but that Oklahoma City actively welcomes people of all lifestyles, including homosexuals. Until she is publicly countered by officials of similar influence, it will continue to be perceived that Oklahoma City's position is one of agreement and support. Right now, they just seem to be whining that she's made their job a little harder.

  11. #11

    Default Re: OKC Chamber speaks out on Sally Kern

    She said what she said. I think city leaders needs to do all they can to save face with this company, 1000+ jobs is a lot of jobs. OKC needs those jobs. Sally Kern does not speak for all Oklahomans. If the CEO of that company does not relocate here just because they did not like what a state rep. said, then somrthing is wrong. The CEO should look at what OKC offers in work force, coast of living, etc., not just only what one state rep. said. I'm saying there is moe to OKC than what Kern said, and that should not be the only substance the CEO looks at....then again, i'm not the CEO relocating my company. And again, this is something that is important to this CEO. Ms. Kern should definitely apologize for creating this mess. And keep her comment to herself (i guess she tried that).

  12. #12

    Default Re: OKC Chamber speaks out on Sally Kern

    All she had to do was say, "I'm Sorry." Life would have moved on much smoother for everyone involved, but now it appears OKC and its residents may suffer more in the long run, especially if potential new employers stay away.

    I definitely agree with the posters wanting more economic policy making rather value policy making. Individuals should legislate their own values on their family members and maybe those close to them. Its not the job of our state legislaters to do that.

    I would also like to see the most recent list of bills that Kern has introduced. Im willing to bet they pertain more to gay issues rather than how my tax dollars are going to improve this city and state.

  13. #13

    Default Re: OKC Chamber speaks out on Sally Kern

    If the CEO of that company does not relocate here just because they did not like what a state rep. said, then somrthing is wrong.
    Why is that wrong? Would you move somewhere where an elected official said you were a bigger threat than terrorists? OK, now would you invest your livelihood and that of 1000+ other people in the same place? Could you even get 1000 of your people to move to that place, especially when you and they have other options?

    The reality is that they in no way have to move here. Oklahoma City holds no exclusive economic advantage over every other market. We have cheap living. Other have cheap living. We have a workforce, others have a workforce. We have a few colleges, other places have colleges. People aren't just choosing a place for their company to locate, they are choosing a LIFE and they are choosing what kind of life they want to offer their employees. If people always chose the cheapest, Oklahoma City would have absolutely no problem attracting businesses and this wouldn't be news. The real question is how to offer companies and their employees a life they want to live?

    All companies realize that they will have to market the city in which they are located to potential employees. They don't just have to convince them to work there, they have to convince them to live there. If Oklahoma City doesn't take a position against what Kern said, most companies will not be interested in constantly trying to overcome that position when recruiting people, especially when they can just go to Indianapolis or somewhere like it an not have to worry about this crap.

  14. #14

    Default Re: OKC Chamber speaks out on Sally Kern

    Back during the Sonics arena vote thrash, someone asked me if I would really make personal or economics decisions based on political beliefs.

    I said I would and did, and here's someone else who does.

    Sally Kern doesn't speak for all Oklahomans, but she speaks for a large number of them. Among them, I would suggest, are Aubrey McClendon and Tom Ward, who have between them spent more than a million dollars trying to abridge the rights of gay Americans. Their efforts in this regard have probably been far more productive than Kern's 'preaching to the choir' at her district luncheon groups.

    It's okay to rant against Sally Kern in pursuit of the 'creative class' religion, but as we've already seen, it's 'hands off' when the matter threatens to touch on an even higher power, namely NBA basketball. But do you think these relocation consultants are unaware of or unconcerned about the values of our political and business leaders?

    Six thousand jobs were at stake in this relocation, according to the note being circulated. How many other companies have written us off their list - perhaps without ever making it to a short list - because executives were put off by the cultural provincialism that still prevails here?

    If Oklahoma City is going to be a 'major league city,' it's going to have to act like one, and that means more than yard signs, bumper stickers and sports jerseys.

  15. Default Re: OKC Chamber speaks out on Sally Kern

    Kern just needs to STFU and GBTW.

  16. Default Re: OKC Chamber speaks out on Sally Kern

    Easy solution, don't reward OKC the deal then. If the area is really a benefit...i'm sure Norman, Edmond, Moore, etc would love to land the deal.

  17. #17

    Default Re: OKC Chamber speaks out on Sally Kern

    Why is that wrong? Would you move somewhere where an elected official said you were a bigger threat than terrorists?
    Of course i would. If it does'nt not affect my business, than it does'nt matter what she says..imo..obviously not yours. If she said that fat people is a bigger threat than terrorist i would just laugh. i'm no CEO, but i don't think i would run my business MUCH on what people say.

  18. Default Re: OKC Chamber speaks out on Sally Kern

    Quote Originally Posted by sgt. pepper View Post
    Of course i would. If it does'nt not affect my business, than it does'nt matter what she says..imo..obviously not yours. If she said that fat people is a bigger threat than terrorist i would just laugh. i'm no CEO, but i don't think i would run my business MUCH on what people say.
    Sgt. Pepper, you are ignoring reality. If you want to keep your workforce of 1,000, you should at least respect the lifestyle wishes of your employees. Sure, CEOs move HQs all the time to locales that fit their own personal interest, but to say that a business operates in a vacuum irrespective of the community it is in is plain ignorant. It is why United chose Indianapolis over OKC for its maintainence facility; Indy offered a better life. This is not "creative class" religion, but the reality of the sensibilities relocation managers have. COMMUNITIES MATTER. It is a damn competitive marketplace out there, and companies promising many jobs have a pick of places, all of which will promise some sort of financial incentive.

    Nothing kills a community's chances of landing a major employer than the perception that that company will not fit in.
    Continue the Renaissance

  19. #19

    Default Re: OKC Chamber speaks out on Sally Kern

    Quote Originally Posted by OU Adonis View Post
    What I think you are trying to say is Money is more important than values.
    I'm curious. Are you trying to say that there's something wrong with that?

  20. #20

    Default Re: OKC Chamber speaks out on Sally Kern

    I'm aware that Saint Aubrey gave money to "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth" campaign, but I wasn't up on his stance on gay rights. Is Aubrey a gay-hater? Is Clay Bennett? I have no idea, other than that they are big-time GOP backers.

  21. #21

    Default Re: OKC Chamber speaks out on Sally Kern

    Bennett was not involved in the gay marriage initiative. That was Ward and McClendon.

    You can find a ton of links on this topic by Googling "Ward McClendon Bauer"

    Religious right activist Gary Bauer is the head of the organization which received about 80% of its funding from Ward and McClendon.

    Here's one of many links.

  22. #22

    Default Re: OKC Chamber speaks out on Sally Kern

    Quote Originally Posted by soonerguru View Post
    I'm aware that Saint Aubrey gave money to "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth" campaign, but I wasn't up on his stance on gay rights. Is Aubrey a gay-hater? Is Clay Bennett? I have no idea, other than that they are big-time GOP backers.
    It would most likely not be in Bennetts best interest to have his fingerprints on, or be associated with, any form of gay bashing.

  23. #23

    Default Re: OKC Chamber speaks out on Sally Kern

    the major difference to me (IMO) is that Kern is a State Representative and McClendon Ward Bennett et al are private citizens. Kern is not representing my views when she makes public addresses such as she did and she has a sworn obligation to uphold ALL the members of her district's rights.

  24. #24

    Default Re: OKC Chamber speaks out on Sally Kern

    but i don't think i would run my business MUCH on what people say.
    ok, Maybe i should have said 'what one person' said, in private conversation, not ment to hurt anybody, to anybody, her own personal beliefs (and she has the right to believe what she wants to believe no mater what her job is, just like all of us), not ment to go public. Yes, i would not locate my conpany if the majority of the community did not want me there. i'm sure 98% of us would love to have there 1000-6000 job company here. You should be upset at the person who recorded her private conversation, cut it up, pasted it, slapped it all out of context and posted it on you tube, that is who you should be upset with if companies should relocate because of this. Kern was in no secrete meeting, planning some high level agenda conspiracy against gays...this is ridiculous. Maybe we should get rid of the cross along I-35, because some fortune 500 company CEO don't like crosses, we should burn half of the churches in our city, we should outlaw the word GOD. That would make a lot of CEO's happy a guess. If a company does not want to come to OKlahoma because of what Kern said, let them go to Main, i guarantee you somebody up there is saying the same thing, you can't make everybody happy.

  25. #25

    Default Re: OKC Chamber speaks out on Sally Kern

    As Aubrey McClendon found out, to his sorrow, there is no such thing as a private conversation, meeting or even e-mail if you are a public figure. Sally Kern should realize the same. They should have an orientation session for legislators when they are elected to remind them all of that fact.

    What really annoys me is that Sally Kern doesn't speak for me, nor does Aubrey McClendon. But, because they are public figures, we are all lumped together in the national media as Oklahomans, and their views are assumed to be universal.

    Trust me Aubrey, there are plenty of lesbians at mens' basketball games, and they could be buying tickets if the Sonics move here, which makes them your "constituents" as well. They may choose to vote with their pocketbooks. I had a delightful lesbian couple sitting right behind me at the Hornets games, season ticket holders, and I hate to see him make comments like that which are hurtful to people like them.

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