In the wake of the Sally Kern YouTube controversy, a San Francisco-area financial service company is rumored to be reconsidering its office’s move to Oklahoma City.
While the official word won’t come for another three or four weeks, a lesbian top executive at the Staubach Co. is said to have expressed concern over the relocation because of Kern’s comments equating gays with terrorism.
The Journal Record reports that Roy Williams, president of the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber, confirmed that he is trying to address the issue after a Staubach relocation consultant mentioned the troubling nature of Kern’s comments.
“He told us straight up . ‘I cannot recommend to any of my clients that they should consider Oklahoma City because of that,’” Williams told the paper. “When you have one of the nation’s premier relocation experts making those statements, you should pay attention to that and not dismiss it.”
The paper reports:
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.