Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

OKC's MAPS 3 Opponents Launch Campaign

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

OKC's MAPS 3 Opponents Launch Campaign

Article excerpt

Oklahoma City's emergency response services workers increased their opposition to the upcoming MAPS 3 tax issue Friday, their union leaders formally launching a campaign to defeat it.

"This coalition wants to be perfectly clear about our intentions and goals," said Gil Hensley, vice chairman of the Not This MAPS Coalition and local Fraternal Order of Police president. "Police and fire are united in this effort to defeat this MAPS proposal because it costs too much ... with no written guarantees that the named projects will ever be funded or in what order."

Hensley and coalition Chairman Phil Sipe, who heads the local firefighters union, also accused Mayor Mick Cornett of attempting to confuse the public in his own presentation Thursday when he first accused them of doing the same.

"We were deeply disappointed, but not surprised, by comments made by Mayor Cornett and others at yesterday's news conference," Sipe said.

The union leaders were joined in the news conference Friday by Councilman Brian Walters, the lone voice on the City Council opposing the $777 million package of public projects, and flanked by dozens of police and firefighters wearing black T-shirts with the group's anti-MAPS logo.

Sipe denied suggestions that the unions' position against MAPS 3 was driven by ongoing pay negotiations with city leaders. Sipe said Cornett has touted the MAPS 3 projects, including a 70-acre central park and streetcar system in downtown, but has failed to address public safety concerns.

"Not one time have you seen mention of public safety on their Web site or in any printed brochures or audio-visual presentations from the Yes (For) Maps coalition," Sipe said. "Not until yesterday. And I believe we all know why: The mayor and others have come to realize that the public by and large does not support this MAPS proposal."

If passed by public vote Dec. 8, MAPS 3 would provide for the continuation of a 1-cent sales tax for seven years to pay for a park, streetcar system and new convention center downtown, trails and sidewalks throughout the city, state fairgrounds improvements, wellness aquatic centers for senior citizens, and upgrades to facilities at the Oklahoma River at the heart of the metro area. …

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