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metro
09-29-2009, 07:43 AM
I highly encourage you to go to the actual article on Newsok. They have links to old ballots of previous MAPS and other important details worth educating yourself about.

Oklahoma City Council to vote on MAPS ballot
Specific plans for $777M proposal won’t be included because of a change in state law

BY JOHN ESTUS

Published: September 29, 2009

Oklahoma City Council members are expected to approve a MAPS 3 ballot today that is unlike previous MAPS ballots because it doesn’t identify specific projects.


Projects to be funded by proposed MAPS 3 sales tax revenue are only identified as city "capital improvements” in the ballot. Specifics of the $777 million MAPS 3 proposal aren’t listed on the ballot.

The description differs from what voters saw on the original MAPS ballot in 1993, which listed each individual project that was to be funded.

A resolution of intent council members are also expected to approve today states that funds from the proposed penny sales tax extension would be used only for projects in the MAPS 3 proposal.

The MAPS For Kids ballot in 2001 didn’t list individual projects, but specified that money raised from the penny sales tax was only for "public school or public school facilities expenditures.”

One reason the proposed MAPS 3 ballot lacks specifics is a change in state law that requires a separate vote for each project listed on a ballot.

That means if each individual MAPS 3 project were listed on the ballot, voters would vote for each project rather than all projects at once.

As they did with MAPS and MAPS For Kids, city leaders decided to make the MAPS 3 ballot an all-or-nothing question; voters will not vote on individual projects.

Mayor Mick Cornett, who has spearheaded the MAPS 3 initiative, said an all-or-nothing approach for MAPS 3 was chosen because it has worked with voters in the past.

"This is the process they are going to be comfortable with,” Cornett said.

Projects in the MAPS 3 proposal include a large downtown park, new convention center, a downtown streetcar and commuter rail system, Oklahoma River improvements, fairgrounds improvements, sidewalks and senior wellness centers.

Cornett said he doesn’t think the catch-all category of city "capital improvements” is too vague for voters.

"I think the expectation is they’re voting on them all at once,” Cornett said.

The mayor noted that each improvement project wasn’t listed on the MAPS For Kids ballot.

The MAPS 3 ballot asks for a vote for or against extending the penny sales tax that expires next April for another seven years and nine months in order to pay for city "capital improvements.”

In addition, the MAPS 3 ballot calls for the creation of an advisory board similar to the boards that oversaw the implementation of previous MAPS initiatives. The MAPS 3 advisory board would be guided by the resolution of intent when making recommendations on MAPS 3 projects to the city council.

Resolutions of intent are nonbinding.

They can be overturned by a city council vote. Council members voted 7-1 last week to have a final vote today on the ordinances needed to set a Dec. 8 election for MAPS 3.

Read more: NewsOK (http://newsok.com/council-to-vote-on-maps-ballot/article/3404790#ixzz0SVEq9gUY)

Dec. 1993 Ballot
http://s3.amazonaws.com/content.newsok.com/documents/s29ballot1.pdf

March 2008 Ballot
http://s3.amazonaws.com/content.newsok.com/documents/s29fcballot2.pdf

MAPS 3 Project List
http://s3.amazonaws.com/content.newsok.com/documents/s29maps3projects.pdf

MAPS 3 Program Resolution
http://s3.amazonaws.com/content.newsok.com/documents/s29maps3resolution.pdf

Midtowner
09-29-2009, 07:58 AM
So if some well-connected individual were to petition the city council after the MAPS tax passes, they could arguably get public financing for their private-use project so long as it's arguably a 'capital improvement'?

LakeEffect
09-29-2009, 11:22 AM
That's a lot of arguing :)

Doug Loudenback
09-29-2009, 11:30 AM
So if some well-connected individual were to petition the city council after the MAPS tax passes, they could arguably get public financing for their private-use project so long as it's arguably a 'capital improvement'?
Strictly speaking, yes. However, some safeguards are present, as discussed here: Doug Dawgz Blog: MAPS III — The Actual Vote (http://dougdawg.blogspot.com/2009/09/maps-iii-actual-vote.html)

But, yes, the bottom line is that MAPS 3 is pretty much a handshake deal. I'm willing to take that risk but have lots of tar and feathers available should there be such a need.

Midtowner
09-29-2009, 11:50 AM
Doug, they could have accomplished something more than a 'handshake deal' if they'd simply have proposed the creation of a public trust with a specific and enforceable mandate to oversee these projects *and only* these projects.

I'd like to see the Council try and avoid another Bass Pro debacle if at all possible. If eight politically ambitious individuals are given carte blanche to spend this $777 million as they see fit, they might instead choose to spend the money in other ways not included in MAPS III.

I have a low trust threshold for Oklahoma politicians and an even lower trust threshold for those who would ask for such unprecedented unfettered control over taxpayer money. If this deal does pass and if our politicians do as politicians do and spend the money in their own best interests rather than the public's, then I think MAPS projects of the future will be DOA.

OKCMallen
09-29-2009, 12:02 PM
I'm not very learned on city governmental functions, admittedly, but can't we have a public trust or somethign similar? I don't like this handshake BS.

Steve
09-29-2009, 01:24 PM
So if some well-connected individual were to petition the city council after the MAPS tax passes, they could arguably get public financing for their private-use project so long as it's arguably a 'capital improvement'?

Yes. It would take a one vote majority (5-4 with a full quorum, less if some members are absent) to change course from the resolution of intent. Midtowner, do you believe there are reasons not to take the council's word on how they intend to spend this money?

OKCMallen
09-29-2009, 01:26 PM
Yes. It would take a one vote majority (5-4 with a full quorum, less if some members are absent) to change course from the resolution of intent. Midtowner, do you believe there are reasons not to take the council's word on how they intend to spend this money?

I think there's a lot to be said about never taking any government's "word" on how to spend such a large amount of money.

Doug Loudenback
09-29-2009, 01:33 PM
Doug, they could have accomplished something more than a 'handshake deal' if they'd simply have proposed the creation of a public trust with a specific and enforceable mandate to oversee these projects *and only* these projects.

I'd like to see the Council try and avoid another Bass Pro debacle if at all possible. If eight politically ambitious individuals are given carte blanche to spend this $777 million as they see fit, they might instead choose to spend the money in other ways not included in MAPS III.

I have a low trust threshold for Oklahoma politicians and an even lower trust threshold for those who would ask for such unprecedented unfettered control over taxpayer money. If this deal does pass and if our politicians do as politicians do and spend the money in their own best interests rather than the public's, then I think MAPS projects of the future will be DOA.
Doubtless true.

DelCamino
09-29-2009, 01:45 PM
It can be argued that government isn't to be trusted. But we, essentially, do that everyday of our lives: fire and police protection, traffic control, public utilities-power, water, garbage collection, public education.

The list can go on.

With the undeniable success of MAPS 1 and 2, what is the reason to not trust the City of Oklahoma City in not building what they say they are going to build? Their track record with both of the previous MAPS projects is intact - they delivered on what was told to the voters.

Yeah, this ballot initative is different from those of the past. But the Council is smart enough to know that should they change, by resolution, the seven announced projects, it will likely kill all momentum the City has enjoyed this last 15 years.

Until they commit such an obvious error and deliberately choose to not come through on what they've said they will do, I've no reason to doubt their integrity.

Steve
09-29-2009, 01:50 PM
DelCamino, do you believe today's news stations and newspapers have the same staffing and resources needed to act as a watchdog over city spending? Does this matter?

DelCamino
09-29-2009, 02:01 PM
DelCamino, do you believe today's news stations and newspapers have the same staffing and resources needed to act as a watchdog over city spending? Does this matter?

I don't know Steve. They should (a completely new topic, huh).

I'm not one the think the media watchdogs were the reason the past MAPS projects were successful. Being close to the previous projects, I saw nothing to indicate there was inpropriaties, where the watchdogs were needed. Of course, that begs the obvious question................

Do you know, Steve, if with this round of MAPS, Mayor Cornett has proposed a citizens oversight panel, as was the case with Mayor Norick and MAPS 1?

Midtowner
09-29-2009, 02:33 PM
Yeah, this ballot initative is different from those of the past. But the Council is smart enough to know that should they change, by resolution, the seven announced projects, it will likely kill all momentum the City has enjoyed this last 15 years.

Very few politicians care much about what happens beyond their own terms (at least as what does not pertain directly to them).

It is well-established that MAPS money has in the past been spent for things the money was not allocated for originally (e.g., Bass Pro).

The big difference here is that in the past, the city council was tied down to at least do the enumerated projects, but not necessarily tied down as to how to spend excess monies. Here, technically ALL monies are excess as there are no enumerated projects.

It's an appreciable difference and as I said before, if the City Council actually wanted to be tied down as to how this money would be spent, they could have done that by allocating it to a public trust with a specific and enforceable mission. Since they didn't do that, I think it's very reasonable to inquire as to their motives.

Midtowner
09-29-2009, 02:35 PM
citizens oversight panel, as was the case with Mayor Norick and MAPS 1?

This panel is a joke.

They have no power to compel anyone to do (or not do) anything.

Their members are appointed, i.e. selected, most likely for possessing desirable qualities such as not being too inquisitive.

Remember that all of these bodies are appointed, not elected. Those who appoint these people appoint these people to look after the appointor's best interest, not the public's.

Midtowner
09-29-2009, 02:37 PM
Doubtless true.

The catch here is though, that if MAPS III doesn't pass on the ballot, MAPS is probably dead anyhow.

DelCamino
09-29-2009, 02:51 PM
.....It is well-established that MAPS money has in the past been spent for things the money was not allocated for originally (e.g., Bass Pro). ......


This statement is completely false and a total fabrication. If you have information supporting it, please state it or provide a link.

Doug Loudenback
09-29-2009, 03:01 PM
* * *

Do you know, Steve, if with this round of MAPS, Mayor Cornett has proposed a citizens oversight panel, as was the case with Mayor Norick and MAPS 1?
Not being Steve, perhaps I shouldn't be answering your question, but, yes, it was part of the 1993 MAPS ballot ...

Click on the graphic for a larger view; the relevant text is in the last long paragraph.

http://i8.photobucket.com/albums/a49/DougLoudenback/coretoshore/maps3/maps1ballots.jpg (http://i8.photobucket.com/albums/a49/DougLoudenback/coretoshore/maps3/maps1ballot.jpg)

Steve
09-29-2009, 03:08 PM
Actually, DelCamino, MidTowner is somewhat correct. With each MAPS tax the city council is empowered to pass on their own an accompanying use tax charged on out-of-state goods. The campaign for the original MAPS included promises the use tax money would be spent on maintanance of the MAPS projects. The council later decided to use money from the use tax to build Bass Pro.

DelCamino
09-29-2009, 03:10 PM
This panel is a joke.

They have no power to compel anyone to do (or not do) anything.

Their members are appointed, i.e. selected, most likely for possessing desirable qualities such as not being too inquisitive.

Remember that all of these bodies are appointed, not elected. Those who appoint these people appoint these people to look after the appointor's best interest, not the public's.

This statements isn't reflective of how the panel operated with regards to MAPS 1. A check of the Oklahoman's files would provide you with information of how much a pain in the a** the panel was during the construction period.

Appointees - yeah, they can be lapdogs, but actions of MAPS oversight panels do not reflect that to be the case.

Steve
09-29-2009, 03:12 PM
City funding for Bass Pro ruled legal, valid by judge

By Steve Lackmeyer
Staff Writer


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Thursday, July 17, 2003
Edition: City, Section: NEWS, Page 9-A

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Last year's decision by the Oklahoma City Council to borrow $17.1 million from use tax reserves to build a Bricktown store for Bass Pro Shops was ruled legal and valid Wednesday by Oklahoma County District Judge Noma Gurich.

The Oklahoma City Urban Renewal Authority sought the declaratory judgment in response to a written demand from a group led by Bricktown property owner Moshe Tal.


Tal, who has failed in a handful of previous lawsuits against the city, claimed city council members violated state law by borrowing money from the use tax funds to build the store, which is under construction southeast of the SBC Bricktown Ballpark.


Tal appeared with attorney Chad Richardson, but it was Tal who led most of the arguments in Wednesday's hearing.


Leslie Batchelor, an attorney for the Urban Renewal Authority, argued the city was within its rights to appropriate money to the agency to promote a redevelopment project.


Use taxes are charged on out-of-state purchases for in-state use, and can be established by the city council to accompany sales taxes passed by voters.


Tal unsuccessfully argued that a resolution by the city council after the 1993 passage of the MAPS penny sales tax committed the accompanying use tax to project maintenance and replacement.


He also cited state statutes that he said prohibit taxes from being passed by ordinance for one purpose and being used for another.


Batchelor said the use tax, however, was passed by resolution, not an ordinance, that stated the city intended to use the proceeds for maintenance.


"It's a mere declaration of intent," Batchelor countered. "The city is free to change its intent at any time."


Tal tried to convince Gurich the city was deceptive, but she responded she was more interested in "legalities," and not personal attacks.


"Tell what factual issue we need to go to trial on," Gurich told Tal before issuing her ruling. "I don't see any facts in dispute here."


In a second dispute, Gurich declined the Urban Renewal Authority's request to strike Tal's effort to sue more than 90 city and civic leaders for what he claims was a conspiracy to rob him of the chance to develop south Bricktown.


Gurich noted the authority itself wasn't a party to the pending action.


Tal has yet to issue subpoenas for the suit, adding he hopes the people he is accusing will appear voluntarily to spare him the expense of paying for serving the subpoenas.


In the past five years, Tal's claims against the city over the Bricktown development have twice gone to the State Supreme Court and were rejected each time.

DelCamino
09-29-2009, 03:14 PM
Actually, DelCamino, MidTowner is somewhat correct. With each MAPS tax the city council is empowered to pass on their own an accompanying use tax charged on out-of-state goods. The campaign for the original MAPS included promises the use tax money would be spent on maintanance of the MAPS projects. The council later decided to use money from the use tax to build Bass Pro.

Okay, a portion of the Use Tax was used for that deal. It could be considered a stretch, but those dollars (not monies dedicated to actual projects) stayed within the same geographic area of the MAPS projects and were utilized toward a project that, if not constructed, would have left a major MAPS project, the Canal, without promise of timely development and utilization.

DelCamino
09-29-2009, 03:18 PM
Not being Steve, perhaps I shouldn't be answering your question, but, yes, it was part of the 1993 MAPS ballot ...


Thanks Doug. I remember that being on the ballot in '93. I'm wondering, though, if the same provision is going to be on this December's - MAPS 3 - ballot.

DelCamino
09-29-2009, 03:41 PM
Answered my own question. The ballot includes the language: 'Providing for a Citizen's Capital Improvement Sales Tax Advisory Board.'

Midtowner
09-29-2009, 04:01 PM
This statement is completely false and a total fabrication. If you have information supporting it, please state it or provide a link.

I think the above speaks for itself.

gmwise
09-29-2009, 04:02 PM
I am extremely concerned there isnt a listing of the projects.
It seems a little vague.
As far as news media watching over the MAPS 3, I dont trust those a** kissers anymore then I trust Mayor Mickey.
I agree with OKCMALLEN.

Doug Loudenback
09-29-2009, 04:05 PM
City funding for Bass Pro ruled legal, valid by judge

By Steve Lackmeyer
Staff Writer
[full article omitted by Doug]

Hey, I thought we weren't supposed to be posting your full Oklahoman articles here. What's up with the above?
:ohno::ohno::ohno:

That said, reading this part of your article certainly shows at least some history ... probably good for someone in the know (hint, hint) to research the matter to see if other examples of the same type of thing are common ...


* * * Batchelor said the use tax, however, was passed by resolution, not an ordinance, that stated the city intended to use the proceeds for maintenance.

"It's a mere declaration of intent," Batchelor countered. "The city is free to change its intent at any time."
Those kind of words may come back to haunt MAPS 3.

gmwise
09-29-2009, 04:10 PM
Hey Steve....
you sure didnt forsee Galileo's closing.Did you?


Well I guess if a monkey sitting at a typewriter typing randomly, eventually they can write for the Oklahoman.

Steve
09-29-2009, 04:30 PM
I didn't foresee Galileo's closing. Not sure how I've earned your hatred here. You certainly don't know what I do or don't do to try to get the news out.

SoonerDave
09-29-2009, 05:20 PM
DelCamino, do you believe today's news stations and newspapers have the same staffing and resources needed to act as a watchdog over city spending? Does this matter?

I'm not DelCamino, but I'm going to offer my own answer if you'll forgive me....in short, no. Not only are they lacking in staffing and resources, it is my personal opinion they are lacking in motivation to serve as a watchdog.

Every day I turn on local news, its apparent they're infinitely more concerned with impressive camera angles on highly-coiffed anchors and HD production values than in serving as a public watchdog.

As far as my "trust" in the city council, it isn't *this* city council I'm concerned about. Its the makeup of the council as it will sit years from now, beyond when most if not all the current members and/or mayor will be gone.

I had no idea that this ballot rule had come into play and created what amounts to a "blank check" situation for this round of MAPS. This is precisely the kind of oversight I believe voters want, but aren't going to get.

Doug Loudenback
09-29-2009, 05:45 PM
I'm not DelCamino, but I'm going to offer my own answer if you'll forgive me....in short, no. Not only are they lacking in staffing and resources, it is my personal opinion they are lacking in motivation to serve as a watchdog.
Lack of motivation may not be the only cause, SoonerDave. See http://www.okctalk.com/okc-metro-area-talk/19370-new-convention-center-issue.html#post258673

gmwise
09-29-2009, 06:19 PM
I didnt single you out for anything.
I dont trust any of the Oklahoman's staff.They dont do anything to get news out..Things just got sloppy since Ed Morrow left the scene.

Doug Loudenback
09-29-2009, 06:42 PM
Well, gmwise, I don't work for the Oklahoman. Never have, never will. I guess that I don't understand your comment. All I was saying that Oklahoman reporters may have constraints which are not related to how they would prefer to do their job. Please read the link that I made and think a bit before passing judgment on them.

Karried
09-29-2009, 07:09 PM
Hey Steve....
you sure didnt forsee Galileo's closing.Did you?


Well I guess if a monkey sitting at a typewriter typing randomly, eventually they can write for the Oklahoman.


This sounds pretty specific to me. Please refrain from personal attacks. Courtesy and respect in our discussions are much appreciated.

Jimslimmer
09-29-2009, 07:45 PM
I have heard from some sources that the polling shows a majority in favor of the continuation of the Maps-3 funding. Do you think the public is " mapped out" or, do you think the polls will hold true?

SoonerDave
09-29-2009, 08:07 PM
I have heard from some sources that the polling shows a majority in favor of the continuation of the Maps-3 funding. Do you think the public is " mapped out" or, do you think the polls will hold true?

I really don't know, honestly. I think there is MAPS fatigue. I think there is the least general, "out-of-the-gate" support for this round than in any of the three previous rounds, and if the broader issue of oversight emerges, then I think this election will be very, very close.

The single, worst possible thing city leaders could do is put something out there that gives people footing the bill the slightest reason to either mistrust their motives, or not giving them what they've been promised. We have, at least as far as I'm able to understand right now, absolutely *no* mechanism to guarantee any of these projects will be built. [b]None.[b]. That troubles me greatly.

If I'm wrong on this, *please* correct me. But based on what I've read here, it sounds as though the city council could change 100% of the direction of these monies and this project merely for a 5-4 (or quorum) vote on an appropriate resolution. Please tell me I'm wrong. I don't know if I can possibly support a $700+million blank check to the city.

soonerguru
09-29-2009, 08:19 PM
I really don't know, honestly. I think there is MAPS fatigue. I think there is the least general, "out-of-the-gate" support for this round than in any of the three previous rounds, and if the broader issue of oversight emerges, then I think this election will be very, very close.

The single, worst possible thing city leaders could do is put something out there that gives people footing the bill the slightest reason to either mistrust their motives, or not giving them what they've been promised. We have, at least as far as I'm able to understand right now, absolutely *no* mechanism to guarantee any of these projects will be built. [b]None.[b]. That troubles me greatly.

If I'm wrong on this, *please* correct me. But based on what I've read here, it sounds as though the city council could change 100% of the direction of these monies and this project merely for a 5-4 (or quorum) vote on an appropriate resolution. Please tell me I'm wrong. I don't know if I can possibly support a $700+million blank check to the city.

Dave,

While your concerns are well reasoned, and noted for all on the board, I would just like to tell you this is not going to happen. How do I know? I don't. But there are a couple of points to consider:

1. MAPS 1 and 2, while not without controversy, were handled well by the city and exceeded taxpayer expectations.

2. What politician in his/her right mind would do what you are suggesting? And why? I honestly believe the city leaders -- with the obvious exception of Walters -- are supportive of the initiatives.

Politicians are anything but courageous. They're certainly reticent to flagrantly disregard their constituents.

I think this amounts to lawyerly concern -- not entirely misplaced, mind you -- but not a likely outcome.

We could, for example, go bankrupt, or get hit by a meteor, or another terrorist strike, but those things aren't likely to occur, either. Why worry about something that is so unlikely to occur?

The bigger concern is that the economy starts humming too fast and the costs on these projects all skyrocket.

Doug Loudenback
09-29-2009, 08:33 PM
I'm not at all fatigued by the penny sales tax, SoonerDave. Paying that penny tax for 7 3/4 more years will not in any way change what I'm already quite accustomed to doing.

I cannot tell you that you are wrong about what you said in your last paragraph, since it accurately states the truth. As to how that fact may affect your or my vote, as I've already said, the ballot and ordinance basically amount to a handshake deal. At least, I can think of no better analogy.

Each of us will have to decide whether a handshake is enough. Many stories are told of times gone by when a handshake was all that was needed. Whether vintage storytelling might have relevance to MAPS 3 today is the question. I'd like to at least be reassured that it is by someone who is in a position to give that reassurance, and I'll wait to hear what our mayor and council members have to say before reaching a conclusion about that.

Soonerguru, you post registered here before mine did, so I'll add these comments about what you said, above. In the main, I am inclined to agree ... tar and feathering would almost certainly occur were the council to decide (even if done legally, as it would be) to alter the items which are publicly in the MAPS 3 publicity. But, in this, my thought is tempered by what Steve reported in a different thread, as well as my reply at http://www.okctalk.com/okc-metro-area-talk/19368-new-info-maps-3-a-2.html#post258658 ...


That said, reading this part of your article certainly shows at least some history ... probably good for someone in the know (hint, hint) to research the matter to see if other examples of the same type of thing are common ...


* * * Batchelor said the use tax, however, was passed by resolution, not an ordinance, that stated the city intended to use the proceeds for maintenance.

"It's a mere declaration of intent," Batchelor countered. "The city is free to change its intent at any time."
Those kind of words may come back to haunt MAPS 3.

That sort of an arrogant attitude does not benefit those who are looking for assurance in what is going on right now so that that they will conclude to support MAPS 3, including me.

kevinpate
09-29-2009, 08:37 PM
For the sake of going forward, a handshake and a gentleman's agreement will need to be enough. The way this is laid out, a sincere faith in OKC leadership, present and replacements in the near future, will be necessary.

OKCMallen
09-29-2009, 09:36 PM
Hey Steve....
you sure didnt forsee Galileo's closing.Did you?


Well I guess if a monkey sitting at a typewriter typing randomly, eventually they can write for the Oklahoman.

Jeez that seems uncalled-for...

Doug Loudenback
09-29-2009, 09:46 PM
In what you said, Kevin, you may well be correct. I've not yet personally decided if the handshake is enough, even though I want it to be. More, even if it is enough today, this proposed tax lasts 7 3/4 years, and council's makeup will almost certainly be different before then than it is today. Will those future guys and gals feel the same way? We don't know, have no way of knowing, and we have nothing in place that binds them in any way.

That's a bit of the problem.

Doug Loudenback
09-29-2009, 09:47 PM
Jeez that seems uncalled-for...
Completely agree.

Midtowner
09-30-2009, 07:43 AM
They could have done a public trust and they didn't. The question is why. It can't be that they didn't think about it since every member of the city government deals with other public trusts on a regular basis.

And Doug raises a good point -- why would future city council members feel constrained by the handshakes of today? Aren't most city council members laser-focused on bringing back the goods to their own respective wards? I'm not sure it's even fair to expect future councilmen to feel bound by the decisions of today's councilmen (assuming those councilmen are on board) to go along with this plan.

Remember, all it takes is a majority of the city council in this case to overturn the will of the people.

They could have formed a public trust, but failed to do so. I know I'm going to really need an answer as to why that is before I cast my vote for this thing.

metro
09-30-2009, 07:49 AM
But what about the oversight board? Many of the current councilpersons will still be on the council in 7 years. At the very least, the majority will probably be there at least half that time, in which some projects might be complete and others will be well underway. Do you honestly think the MAJORITY of the council will pull the plug on projects underway? That would be political suicide and the public would revolt and probably force some to resign. I mean seriously, do you people honestly think this is what the odds are of happening. Not saying it's not possible, but come on, it's VERY unlikely. This is the local government, not feds. If for some reason the majority of council is gone, the majority of the new council will still probably be pro-OKC and get things done as planned. They won't be able to get elected without those promises or mindset (except maybe Ward 5).

Midtowner
09-30-2009, 07:54 AM
What actual power does the oversight board have? Can they pull the plug on projects not in conformance with the original mandate? I highly doubt it.

Further, due to their appointee status, would they even if they could? I have zero confidence in such a body.

OKCMallen
09-30-2009, 08:27 AM
The oversight board appears to have zero control. This is a 777 million dollar blank check. I'll still vote for it because I don't mind the tax on myself. If this were the city putting itself into debt for 777 million on a blank check, I'd vote no.

soonerguru
09-30-2009, 09:07 AM
Well, gmwise, I don't work for the Oklahoman. Never have, never will. I guess that I don't understand your comment. All I was saying that Oklahoman reporters may have constraints which are not related to how they would prefer to do their job. Please read the link that I made and think a bit before passing judgment on them.

Despite Steve and others' best efforts to the contrary, there are many aspects of the Oklahoman that are terrible. I'm sure Steve knows what they are.

The paper has improved, but its moniker of "Daily Disappoinment" is often well-deserved.

Steve
09-30-2009, 09:43 AM
Sooner, I would urge you and others that if you see coverage you don't agree with or believe that we are falling short in doing our jobs, that you call or email the paper's editors and let them know.

soonerguru
09-30-2009, 10:22 AM
Sooner, I would urge you and others that if you see coverage you don't agree with or believe that we are falling short in doing our jobs, that you call or email the paper's editors and let them know.

Trust me, I've been doing that for two decades.

For what it's worth, I think you do a great job.

Steve
09-30-2009, 10:28 AM
Thanks Sooner. And don't let up with my bosses know when you think we're falling short.

Patrick
09-30-2009, 10:28 AM
I agree with metro. City leaders will use the money for the projects promised, otherwise they face political suicide, and forever risk never getting an improvements program passed in this city ever again. They're not dumb enough to use the money for other uses.

And, actually, remember, even though we were promised certain projects in MAPS 1, there was some doubt that, for example, the arena would ever be built, especially after we were denied the NHL team.

gmwise
09-30-2009, 11:49 AM
Steve, and others
I apologized for venting my frustrations with "The Daily Disappointment"., towards one person.
Its just so damn frustrating to read something, that is no more in depth, then what been found in other sites or from other sources
I have seen both a decline in completeness of the reporting on the event, the lack of logic in presenting it, or even grammar not in use.

GRRRR

SoonerDave
09-30-2009, 12:21 PM
Well, I just read the "intent" resolution that connects the sales tax to the MAPS proposal. It looks just like the same kind of language that was used to justify a "change of intent" as noted here earlier.

I guess I'm naive, but I can't help wishing there were something that bound the City to the MAPS projects outlined. The stage is set for a mammoth breach of trust. It doesn't to be a $300 million project, it can be a whimsy of a particular issue completely unrelated to MAPS that might catch the eye of some of the council, just enough for them to change their "intent" and opt to fund something completely out of what should be the scope of MAPS - and completely out of scope of what the people voted to accomplish with their money.

I know that the general response to this concern is, "why would they do that," or "who would do that," but the point is we know a government of any form needs a check and balance. The notion of Midtowner's trust seems awfully simple to me, and could have allayed these concerns relatively simply.

I guess my point is that sometime, somewhere, there has to be the "philosophical" POV that comes into the discussion that says, regardless of the perceived virtue of the current people in power, we have to structure things properly as a matter of law so we have to rely less on the political winds that push those people in varying unknown directions.

To me, a "letter of intent" just doesn't cut it. The people and their money are not sufficiently protected.

ThePlainsman
09-30-2009, 12:33 PM
Yeh, I'm sorry Dave, but I'm with Midtowner on this. I'll "trust" them to do what they say. And if they don't, I'll vote for a new council person in my district. That's how it works. People today are so mistrustful of any government. I'm always reminded of the old lady with the sign at the teabagger party--"Keep the government's hand off my medicare". Exactly. That sort of anti-intellectualism is the problem.
The people are the government--are you saying we need protection from ourselves? Btw, I think the track record thus far with other MAPS projects should speak for itself.

soonerguru
09-30-2009, 12:38 PM
The choice is obvious:

1. Vote no because of fear of what "could" happen if collective insanity took over our city leadership.

2. Vote yes to improve our city with a fair amount of confidence that our city leaders are not this insane.

It may seem like a risk, but it's a risk worth taking. We can always raise a stink and/or punish them later if they fail to keep their word. Their actions in the past suggest we can trust them.

Indeed, this is what separates our city from Tulsa. In Tulsa, there is no trust whatsoever of city officials, and it's why they can never get anything meaningful passed there to improve their city. Thank God we live in OKC.

betts
09-30-2009, 12:39 PM
I agree that I would far prefer that the ballot spelled out precisely what would be done if MAPS 3 passes. However, I also have to agree with Metro and Plainsman. On December 8, we are either going to have to choose to trust the city to do what it says it will do, or choose to do nothing. Option 3 is not out there. My fear of doing nothing far outweighs any concerns I have regarding the potential mendacity of the mayor and city council.

Midtowner
09-30-2009, 01:01 PM
Another thought I don't think has been addressed here is that the ballot measure may very well be unconstitutional.

See Article 10, 19 of the Oklahoma State Constitution:


19. Specification of purpose of tax - Devotion to another purpose.

Every act enacted by the Legislature, and every ordinance and resolution passed by any county, city, town, or municipal board or local legislative body, levying a tax shall specify distinctly the purpose for which said tax is levied, and no tax levied and collected for one purpose shall ever be devoted to another purpose. (emphasis added)

The plain language of the Oklahoma Constitution requires that the purpose of the tax be "specif distinctly." It doesn't take a team of lawyers (or even one) to figure out that the broad-as-the-Pacific-Ocean langauge in the ballot measure 'distinctly specifying' that the money is to be spent only on "Capital improvements" is neither distinct nor specific, [i]ergo, arguably unconstitutional.

The framers of the Oklahoma Constitution were a very populist bunch. They distrusted politicians and they distrusted special interests. Our Constitution grants us as taxpayers a lot of protections against taxpayer abuse not found in other state Constitutions.

Midtowner
09-30-2009, 01:08 PM
Yeh, I'm sorry Dave, but I'm with Midtowner on this. I'll "trust" them to do what they say. And if they don't, I'll vote for a new council person in my district. That's how it works. People today are so mistrustful of any government. I'm always reminded of the old lady with the sign at the teabagger party--"Keep the government's hand off my medicare". Exactly. That sort of anti-intellectualism is the problem.
The people are the government--are you saying we need protection from ourselves? Btw, I think the track record thus far with other MAPS projects should speak for itself.

I think you misunderstood what I was saying. I was inquiring as to why a public trust wasn't formed. A public trust is a citizen-body which acts as a committee and is tasked with some sort of mandate specified in the language of the trust.

Had the ballot measure allocated the money to one of these bodies and the language of the trust documents limited the discretion of the bodies to ensure that these enumerated projects and nothing else was built with the money, I'd be a huge supporter of this measure. This would have also allayed the Constitutional concern I expressed in my previous post.

And I don't think the record thus far with our MAPS projects is very helpful. First, money in both MAPS I and II was spent for things not voted on by the voters (an arguably unconstitutional practice). Second, the language of this ballot measure is MUCH less specific -- it really binds the council to do nothing. On one hand, they could spend the money as they promised to do so. On the other hand, if a majority decided to, they could simply allocate the money to projects to be built in their own wards, thus solidifying their own political support.

Remember, city politics is an extremely local phenomenon. If, for example, the convention center continued to poll poorly, why the heck wouldn't 5 councilmen (or even more) decide to use that money instead to improve parks and playgrounds in their own wards? Do you really think there'd be a backlash for that? At least within the ward of the councilman redirecting the money closer to home? I sure don't.

Doug Loudenback
09-30-2009, 01:51 PM
SoonerDave, I understand what you are saying, and I agree with what you've said in principle, and I don't like the methodology either, even if it may have been legally necessary. Midtowner has said that the problem about the handshake deal issue could have been solved by the establishment of a public trust ... but I'm ignorant about that and so I express no opinion about that possibility.

At this point, I'm not 100% sure how I'll come down on MAPS 3 but the issue discussed here may determine my ultimate conclusion. It's too soon to say. Right now, I'm tipping toward trusting the city in a handshake deal, but I can see that I could easily tip the other way before December 8.

A factor which mitigates toward the latter is that real hard-core news does not appear to be getting out about MAPS 3, most particularly in the Oklahoman for the reasons that I expressed here (href="http://www.okctalk.com/okc-metro-area-talk/19370-new-convention-center-issue.html#post258673).

On top of that, I now see that Steve Lackmeyer will apparently no longer be including articles about MAPS 3 in his OkcCentral.com. See this item where he said (http://blog.newsok.com/okccentral/2009/09/29/todays-blog/#comments) (underscoring and bold emphasis added by me),


Good comments and questions, everybody.

I’ve tried to upfront and open in everything I’ve done on this site. I need update those of you who have helped make this site a success: until further notice, I will be limiting my posts to discussions about downtown businesses, downtown planning, Devon tower and the tax increment financing district.

You, however, are welcome to discuss whatever you want and I will create an open discussion post once a week.
... to which comment I replied,


Steve, and I’m very certain that I’m not alone when I say this, but does the above mean that you will not be further discussing the hottest topic on Oklahoma City’s plate from today through December 8, 2009, MAPS 3???

If that be true, I cannot begin to express my disappointment that such an important topic will not be considered, evaluated, and discussed from all sides of the issues which are involved.

Since you were previously putting forth lots of information about MAPS 3 whenever it became available, I have no choice but to assume that the decision to limit future posts here, both pro and con and, for many, just trying to get a good grasp of what’s involved, was not made by you.

This development is very, very, distressing to me, and I don’t like it one iota.
When the primary news source in Oklahoma City, the Oklahoman, vis a vis OPUBCO's president, David Thompson, is also the main cheerleader in MAPS 3's passage, that combination does not bode well for an objective analysis of the various issues involved in Maps 3 by the Oklahoman.

Were there a legal code which defined "conflict of interests" for newspapers in which a definition might generally be, "You are charged with the duty of getting and objectively reporting what information/news there is to get) such as that which exists for lawyers (zealously representing a client coupled with a prohibition against representing others who may have a conflict of interest), the 2-hat role of (1) reporting the news and (2) being the forefront cheerleader for MAPS 3 would not exist; instead, it would almost certainly be prohibited.

But no such standards exist for the news media, unless they be internally determined. Otherwise, they can do as they will.

No disrespect intended to the TV news channels and news-radio stations, and the print-media Journal Record and Gazette, but they don't really have the resources for investigative staff reporting all that much, do they? With exceptions but for the most part, they present commercialized sound bites, flu-flu.

Only the Oklahoman remains with resources for pure journalism even though the number of "pure" journalists is a shrinking lot.

The above, if accurately presented, that does not bode well for critical analysis by the public media of the many items that we've all discussed, about which we want to know more, but about which, from the Oklahoman, at least, we are unlikely to receive.

gmwise
09-30-2009, 02:05 PM
OK now soonerdave, brings up some really good points, as does Midtowner.

But to Soonerguru,
Its so much easier to ask forgiveness, after "you" do a thing then to asked permission.
I really dont trust the council more then I can toss it.
I want the intent and the controlled over the money by a public trust, to be sure the peoples' money will go for what they voted for.
The ballot language is murky.

SoonerDave
09-30-2009, 02:25 PM
...(snip)....When the primary news source in Oklahoma City, the Oklahoman, vis a vis OPUBCO's president, David Thompson, is also the main cheerleader in MAPS 3's passage, that combination does not bode well for an objective analysis of the various issues involved in Maps 3 by the Oklahoman....(snip)


Wow. Just wow.

When the higher powers at my place of employment choose to do something that just ooze gallons of bureaucratic, Dilbertesque stupidity, but you also realize you have no say in the matter, you realize you're being told to "shut up and color."

Its pretty bad when the major state newspaper does the same thing.

And wasn't Steve here asking just a few days ago about whether we thought the media was in a position to serve as a proper watchdog? The irony is staggering.

This is precisely the kind of chicanery that isn't pleasant to talk about, but its also why folks like me get really antsy when there seems to be a little too high a comfort level with "we trust the government." Mistrust doesn't have to imply wholesale, termite-like infestation of corruption, it can mean small twists of favor that add up, over time, to a pot of unpleasant stew. That's why I want a mechanism for control up front.

Midtowner, I had no idea the state constitution was worded as you have adroitly pointed out. Is this language that has been in place for some time, or recently amended as such? My understanding is that some new legislative action intended, presumably, to require line-by-line disclosure of elements on ballot initiatives such as this, was enacted just this year. If true, that's presumably what forced the City to create this single, omnibus "capital improvements" notion rather than enumerate individual projects they knew by their internal polling were not likely to pass.. Would you say that's a roughly correct interpretation of what's happened, Mid? Correct me if you think I'm not on the straight and narrow, here...

Its frustrating for me, because I think we DO need a convention center, and I can live with the park, too, but I'm wondering why it seems so much effort has been spun into the effort to avoid promising it will get done.