By DAVID LLOYD JONES
When some of his friends had former Tulsa County Commissioner Bob Dick over for a celebration Jan. 16, he discovered he was the bill of fare; the subject of a “roast” in which the guest of honor is raked over verbal coals much to the hilarity of his friends.
Dick’s been around long enough to have a host of buddies. Starting out as a straight-from-the-academy rookie policeman in 1963, he rose from the ranks to become first the Tulsa police chief and then police and fire commissioner. When a change in how city government is run eliminated his job in 1990, he ran for the county commission, winning easily. On Jan. 1 of this year he stepped down.
He has plenty of yarns to spin, such as the time while barefooted he chased a felon. “I had my feet up watching television when I heard something suspicious in my driveway and found someone trying to steal my car. I was barefooted but I gave chase, anyway.”
If this were Hollywood after a thrilling chase with plenty of fence leaping and knocking over of trashcans Dick would have brought the miscreant to justice, but reality ruined the happy ending.
“He was younger than I was and faster than I was so after five or six blocks I just gave up. The worst part was I cut the heck out of my feet.”
It would be pleasant to sit back and recall bygone days but Dick prefers to look toward the future. As a man with experience both in law enforcement and county government, he has an informed perspective on what’s going on in Tulsa, and he likes what he sees.
“I like leaving at a time when things are going well,” he says. “Thanks largely to Project 2025 this community is redeveloping the swagger, the positive attitude it had in its heyday. The fact that young, bright minds have come up with the Channels project is a positive sign that people are committed to helping develop Tulsa’s future. I’m sure there will be other Arkansas River proposals down the line, and I’m not sure which one I’ll wind up favoring, but just getting the discussion started is a great sign.”
Dick feels that much of the future lies in getting city and county governments to work more closely together. “Take something as basic as mowing the lawn in a public park; the city will mow the city’s property and the county will mow the county’s part. What’s wrong with working a swap out where one entity mows the whole thing and the other entity mows both sides somewhere else. Little cooperative things like this can be enormously helpful.
“I think in the coming months and years you’ll see serious looks at combining government services.”
Dick says a spirit of cooperation is already in evidence. “When Broken Arrow got the Pro Bass Shop or Jenks built the aquarium we all recognized that they helped the whole Tulsa area.
“We’re on the right track, but we will have to do more if we are going to stay competitive with all the other cities who are wooing industries and attractions.”
Dick says the cooperation between the Tulsa, Oklahoma City and state Chambers of Commerce has improved markedly. “They have come together and have agreed on a comprehensive plan to help attract businesses. You see that spirit growing between not just the big cities but the smaller ones as well. Now people, before they do things, talk to each other.”