In rememberance of Vince Robison
In the midst of preparing for the Thanksgiving celebration, many people may have missed the passing of one of the unsung heroes of Oklahoma politics.
Vince Robison died peacefully on Nov. 15 at age 86. Those in elected public office today have little to no knowledge of his courageous role in paving the way for pro-business legislators in Oklahoma.
Vince, or Coach as many people knew him, was a stubborn and pugnacious man who passionately fought to improve the quality of the Oklahoma Legislature. After 35 years as president and CEO of the Associated Motor Carriers, a trade organization for the trucking industry, he understood that a better business climate was imperative to creating jobs and making a more prosperous economy for Oklahoma families. He also understood the important role the Oklahoma Legislature has in assisting job creators.
For decades, he watched as elected politicians stifled economic growth through crippling regulation, taxation and wastefulness. The former John Marshall football coach decided to tackle the problem head on. In 1996, Vince brought together a group of determined business leaders to form the Research Institute for Economic Development, or RIED, to promote economic growth through evaluating legislative votes on business, job and economic growth issues.
Today, the RIED scorecard of legislative voting is an accepted institution of political life but it was incredibly controversial when it was originally created. The powerful leaders of the Oklahoma Legislature did not appreciate the grading system that informed the public, and the business community in particular, of the abysmal voting records of many so called pro-business legislators. Despite verbal abuse, intimidation and threats, Vince persevered. Over time, his efforts led to a gradual turnover of legislators, more accountability and a better business climate for Oklahoma.
Thanks to the stubborn and determined efforts of one dedicated, strong-willed advocate, Oklahoma is a better place to work and raise a family. And for that we say thank you, Vince, and rest in peace.
Column by Fred Morgan, President and CEO of the State Chamber of Oklahoma, printed in The Journal Record on December 9, 2016