U.S. taxpayers flying standby in Solyndra bankruptcy case

Oklahoman Published: September 29, 2011

OKLAHOMA City was the birthplace of Braniff Airways. Lost it to Dallas, in 1945. Dallas lost it 37 years later when Braniff nosedived into bankruptcy.

In 1986, Oklahoma City tried to lure a major Boeing maintenance center. Lost it to Lake Charles, La., which lost it a few years later when Boeing operations were grounded by the economy.

Oklahoma City went after a $1 billion United Airlines maintenance center. Lost it to Indianapolis, in 1991. United's parent company filed for bankruptcy 11 years later and scuttled the Indy facility.

Tulsa tried to get a plant for Solyndra, the solar panels maker that was a pet project of President Barack Obama and a key supporter, Oklahoma billionaire George Kaiser. Lost it. Then Obama, the George Kaiser Family Foundation and every taxpayer in this country lost Solyndra.

Over a five-year period in the late 1980s and early 1990s, at a time when Oklahoma City was in terrible economic shape, we looked to the skies for our salvation. The city tried to attract three major airline maintenance centers — Boeing, United and American.

Lost all three.

But the wings of desire fly in many directions. Boeing is bringing high-paid, white-collar jobs to the city. Loss of the United facility, for which voters had approved an incentives package, created a spark that led to MAPS and freed up tax money that would have gone to United, which would have ultimately shuttered the facility.

by The Oklahoman Editorial Board
The Oklahoman Editorial Board consists of Gary Pierson, President and CEO of The Oklahoma Publishing Company; Christopher P. Reen, president and publisher of The Oklahoman; Kelly Dyer Fry, editor and vice president of news; Christy Gaylord...
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