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EDITORIAL| BY NEHEMIAH FRANK
MANAGING EDITOR | LIZ FRANK
Former City Councilman Jack Henderson is out of touch with North Tulsa residents.
Jack Henderson, former City Councilor for District 1, told KTUL Wednesday, “I’ve had a lot of people tell me the Save-A-Lot[a grocery store] is not what they want.”
Was there an official, or even unofficial, poll taken to determine if North Tulsa residents wanted a Save-a-Lot (or any grocery store for that matter) in their neighborhood? NO!
Which residents and what people has Henderson spoken with? Whoever these individuals are, who Henderson alleges oppose the opening of a Save-a-Lot, we haven’t seen them on television, nor have we seen any protests opposing the opening of a grocery store in a the food dessert that is our community.
Because Henderson didn’t provide any evidence to back up his statement we assume his statement is a lie. He doesn’t represent or speak for the community because Greenwood residents elected Vanessa Hall-Harper to represent them last November. Greenwood voted him out of office after “representing” District 1 for 12 years because they wanted change. They yearned for an advocate with integrity; not a man who helped to build and maintain the food desert!
Henderson is no longer a City Councilor, and he is not the voice of Greenwood, but mainstream media outlets in Tulsa continue giving his ideas a platform as if he does.
The truth is that North Tulsans have been calling for a grocery store for years. And thanks to the Hall-Harper’s tenacity, a grocery is scheduled to be built at the intersection of 36th Street North and North Peoria Avenue in 2018. This new development is much-needed for the community, considering the 11-year life-expectancy difference between Tulsans who live on the south side of the city (predominantly white) and Tulsans who live on the north side of the city (predominantly black.)
Henderson has persistently spoken in favor of The Rupe Helmer Group’s proposed Dollar General on North Pine Street despite community residents’ ongoing protests of the project.
Many residents in the area are rightfully concerned that their property values will drop, but Henderson continues to use his inexplicable platform to advocate for the Dollar General development.
One wonders if Henderson is unaware of the research on the negative effects that Dollar General stores have on communities, especially communities of color or if he is aware and just doesn’t care.
“‘For Sue Kitchener, 49, the idea of a dollar store in the rural community of Cornton, Indiana was a bad one from the start.’”
“’I knew it would put our property values in the crapper and that it would bring in a certain clientele that I don’t think anybody around here wants to see,” Kitchener responded in an email. When I asked what type of clientele she meant, Kitchener said: “Oh you know what I mean.” Data is not available yet to look into the claims that property values have plummeted as a result of the store opening.’”
“‘Kitchener also complained of increased foot traffic on Main Street in Cornton. “There’s just people everywhere now. I see dozens of senior citizens walking to and from Family Dollar with bags of food, and it makes me sick. Drive a car and quit cluttering up the sidewalks.’”
One verifiable event that Family Dollar’s opening may have contributed to is the closing of Nan’s, a general store located dead in the center of Cornton, about a half mile from the new Family Dollar. Nan’s specialized in food, toiletries, and household items and had been in business since 1960.
“They up and put Nan’s out of business,” said Rick Hadsik, 36. Hadsik has shopped at Nan’s since he was a child and considers it a vital part of the community and town’s history. “If I ever get my hands on one of the bastards from that corporation they’ll wish they never came to Cornton. They took history and just tore it down. But that’s no surprise with the way this country is all screwed up right now.’”
“‘For Kitchener, Cornton is now beyond saving.’”
“‘The dollar store ruined our town. No two ways about it.’”
There are two Dollar stores within walking distance of the proposed Dollar General store at 750 East Pine Street. Why is Henderson so adamant about having another built next to a church, a school, a community library, and single-family residences?
It’s clear Henderson has yet to move past his anger about his November loss, and he seeks to satisfy the needs of his ego over the needs of the community that he represented for 12 years.
Community advocate and City Councilor Hall-Harper has proposed a moratorium to prevent more Dollar Generals from opening on the north side of Tulsa, which Henderson adamantly spoke against to KTUL. He said, “We need more businesses not less businesses.”
African-Americans do not own Dollar General so this isn’t the type of “business growth” we’re looking for in the community. Futhermore, I doubt the construction company contracted to build the Dollar General will hire African-American workers because Tulsa overturned Affirmative Action hiring in 2008.
The Black Wall Street Times asks Jack Henderson who does he speak for in the community, or who does he speak for in corporate America?
We call on local media outlets not to seek Henderson out for his statements on issues that affect the District which voted him out of office last year. And if they do, and he offers gross generalizations or purportedly speaks for the community, then we ask that these outlets corroborate his statements by talking to community members.