Oklahoma City News, Entertainment & Occasional Humor • Established 2007

Why Not This MAPS?


Lately, I have seen a lot of “Not this MAPS” signs around town.  Considering how awesome the first MAPS was for the city and what great things MAPS for Kids did for the public school system, I wondered why this MAPS initiative is being viewed with such strident opposition.

To get some information, I visited the “Not this MAPS” facebook group, and this was the gist of the argument:

Out of 3/4 of a BILLION dollars not one dime is for creating jobs, public schools, roads, bridges, police or fireman. Instead they want to make a downtown waterpark, or a $400 million downtown convention center.

Correct me if I am wrong, but when you spend $400 million to build something, someone is going to be working on the project.  Is there some stipulation in the wording of the initiative that demands that all work be done by out of state robots?  Or, perhaps, some technology that creates state of the art buildings immaculately…and by “immaculate” I’m referring to its use with “conception” and not referring to the beauty, although I would expect that the new convention center would have that, too.

If past initiatives are any indication, the money will create a lot of jobs in this community.  Architecture and engineering for things like the Ford Center have been done by firms in this city, and the construction boasts the same.  These firms take the contracts for which they win the bidding and put people to work in this metropolitan area with good wage paying jobs.

Then, once the projects are completed, the purpose of the short-term tax comes to fruition by boosting economic development.  When you get something like a convention center that brings tourists into town, local businesses get a boost by the expansion of people spending cash, which create service jobs (and perhaps better white collar jobs when people attending those conventions leave with an improved image of our city), and the increased sales expand sales tax collections which in turn pay for all those police, fireman, roads, bridges, and public schools that are on-going priorities.

So basically, everything the opposition cites as reasons not to vote for this MAPS initiative are actually perfect reason to support the MAPS initiative.

That leads me to the question of “Why not this MAPS?” 

Through just a cursory look at who is behind the opposition, it has a cast of familiar characters.  Part of me wants to say that they sincerely oppose MAPS 3 on ideological grounds and not because they are pissed that they lost the Big League City vote.  But then I listen to, their patron saint, Wanda Jo Stapleton’s opposition to the Big League City vote (because light rail was the priority) and now her going up against the initiative that includes light rail (it’s actually a pretty interesting interview listening to her contradict herself by pointing out where the MAPS initiative addresses everything she says it does not).

So what would it take to get these people on board?  It seems they want this MAPS initiative to act as a bake sale for the police and fire departments–or at least that’s the line of reasoning they are using to get the support of those unions.  Of course, that would be an awful idea.

I understand that revenue shortfalls related to the struggling economy has demanded that the city make 2% cuts across the board, including the police and fire departments.  Plugging the difference and hiring additional public servants with a short-term tax hike, though, is a recipe for disaster.  That is like using your Christmas bonus at work to hire a maid.  That’s great until the bonus money runs out, but then you have no way of sustaining the payments.  Eventually, you will have to cut the maid loose, and you are no better off than you were before. 

Unless, that is, you get a pay increase in the meantime, which is what the economic development of MAPS 3 is essential.  It expands the tax base and therefore would make expansion to necessary services sustainable.

Then again, the police union appears to already understand that.  The union’s council, Jim Moore, wrote to the city pledging support for the MAPS 3 proposal if the city caved to the demands the union was making.  One of those demands was that the police force contract issues be disengaged from the MAPS initiative.  Of course, because of the budget shortfalls their other demands could not be met, and the force suddenly became vehemently opposed because MAPS does not address officer desires.  Now, Moore wants to hide this strong arming letter.

Look, I want all the same things this opposition group wants:  jobs, better public transportation, better infrastructure, more money for public services, and beautification of the city.  I would even, like them, love to see the business leaders that normally suggest all taxes are bad, publicly reconcile their support for this initiative, just to have it on the record.  The reason I haven’t joined in their cause is that MAPS 3 does all of those things.

(edit.  I’m sure someone in the comments is bound to point out that we have a big MAPS 3 advertisement on the left hand of the screen.  We accepted the ad because we support the initiative, not vice versa.)


  1. I think many “Not This Maps” supporters are missing the main point of the Maps 3 project. We all agree that additional fire and police are needed. We also all agree that there are many parts of OKC that need improvement. MAPS 3 is addressing those needs by building the convention center that will bring in outside money. It also enhances the tourist areas to attract more outside spenders. That means that instead of just OKC residents paying for more fire, police and city improvements, outsiders will be helping to fund them. We will be using none resident dollars to pay for things that we need and want. The bonus is that we will be able to enjoy the same things the tourists come for and a lot more often. I live inside city limits but about 25 min from downtown. That doesn’t keep me from enjoying the downtown improvements though. I’m happy to drive to a central location where lots of fun attractions await me in Bricktown and downtown. Remember, the point is to have out of town visitors add to our tax pool. We have to attract them here in order to do that, that’s what Maps 3 does. Not to mention all immediate jobs it will create for locals while everything is being planned and built.

  2. “And, I don’t believe the City Council will spend 777 million on hookers and blow. They already have all the hookers and blow they can use on their current income.”

    Jax – I’m voting “Yes” as well, but just so you and everyone else knows, the council members make $12,000 a year and the Mayor makes $24,000 despite his 87% victory in ’06…yet these citizens still said no to a raise…they make this little with so many invested hours b/c they love this city and have a passion to see it succeed and grow.

    It’s silly to hear all the “No” voters claim they will vote against this MAPS 3 b/c of the “Capital Improvements” wording…These elected officials have more than earned our trust and our city is headed in the right direction…how many other cities can say that right now?

  3. The vote is about a 93 month 1% sales tax to raise 777 million from the 550,000 citizens (and out of towners) for capital improvement projects. According to the city and chamber employees it will cost the average citizen about $1000 per OKC citizen. The advertised projects are not on the ballot. They could have been placed on the ballot individually for a yes/no vote. The current or future council can change or cancel any project. Vote No – OKC sales tax will go down 12%.

  4. Yea, it is a for sure no for me here. Im all for the Mass Transit That’d be great in all.. But the rest of it.. We Need alot more other thing worse than we need a park, Sr Center, and convention center.

    Like Trash? Anyone Been East and West of OKC? What do you see when you drive east and West Of OKC on I-40? Mount Trashmoore. A Good Capital Improvement would be to start taking care of the Mounds the City is getting to be where its expanding around the Mounds.. no one wants to see a Big ole trash mound.

    Just things like that is why im voting no. OKC is more than Just Down Town / Bricktown.

  5. If you have ever used “Molly the Trolley” in Fort Worth, that silly little streetcar thingy in Denver, or been to a convention center and cursed the $15/day parking while spending the whole morning “seminar” deciding where to have drinks within walking distance of your hotel room, you should vote for this MAPS. Oklahoma City’s downtown businesses ought to be able to swindle a tourist/conventioneer if they want to!

  6. Here is one thing I do know, and it’s the primary reason I’m supporting MAPS3: In each of the previous proposals – including last year’s vote to improve the Ford Center and build a practice facility for the Thunder – our city leaders have actually delivered what they said they would deliver. Too many people seem to forget what Oklahoma City was like prior to MAPS.

    Downtown certainly wasn’t a place a pretty girl could go plaster shark posters in relative safety.

  7. I live in Edmond, but I wish I could vote for MAPS3. If Edmond had a vote to contribute, I’d sure as hell vote yes. I spend most of my time/money in Oklahoma City (so I’m supporting these projects) and love what they have done for OKC in the past. We would not be shedding our negative stereotypes if not for these improvements. The Convention Center should keep us in the running for big events that keep our hotels/restaurants full. That equals more money, more improvements, more funding for other areas that need it (police/firefighters/etc).

    Oklahoma City can’t slow down. We’ll get left behind as quickly as we came up.

  8. Growing up in Tulsa I always thought OKC looked like a big strip mall (i.e. Moore). Then they passed MAPS and OKC actually had a decent downtown. I am amazed at how little consideration opponents are giving towards the long term benefits. Vote YES! Der and sheesh!

  9. If we really want to improve our city the we need a section in MAPS 3 to finally allow full nude strip clubs.

  10. Without the foresite of our city leaders and the original MAPS projects we’d still have bad hockey, development league basketball, and AAA baseball would have left town. No Big XII tournaments, no NCAA basketball regionals, no NBA, no huge horse shows at the fairgrounds, Devon wouldn’t be building downtown, no boats on the river, etc.

    The reason there are so many “not this maps” signs all over the city, mostly in public easements by the way, is because the firemen have plenty of days off to go do what their union leaders command them to do. Being such a conservative city, I wonder how many of these union lemmings cuss unions other than their own…..and if the police on patrol would get off their cellphones they might be able to fight crime and ticket the idiots on the road with the manpower they have. I’m not knocking all cops or firemen but their stance on this issue is greedy and shows they care very little about moving our city forward.

  11. Thanks to TravisB and Jax Raging Bile Duct.

    Furthermore, it seems to me that the arguments against MAPS 3 are a bit far fetched. I think we can all agree that Firemen and Police Officers deserve a raise. Perhaps even school teachers and even our Mayor. Shit, while we are at it, I too would like a raise. But being opposed to MAPS 3 because it does not provide a raise to Officers of the Law is comparing apples to the planet Mars. I do not know what one has to do with the other. This argument could be made for any proposed plan. Rather than the city providing tax breaks to Bass Pro to build a what-have-you downtown, maybe that money could have been given to defenders of justice. Maybe instead of Chesapeake building a boathouse, they could have donated the money to a blind family.

    This list could go on and on. And to be quite honest, it is boring.

    It seems the opponets are arguing the right question with the wrong answer.

  12. I am also tired of everyone saying that will vote “No” because the central park is “Devon’s front yard park”….so are they saying that if Devon wasn’t building the state’s largest skyscraper that the park would be a good idea? Ridiculous…

    Also, Devon’s skyscraper is the only skyscraper in the world breaking ground in 2009, how did that happen? Did OKC just happen upon a company that wants to do that? Nope, MAPS happened…and because of that, Devon didn’t move to Houston; they stayed here and gave us something to be proud of.

    This city was reborn and I refuse to sit by and watch it die again like it did in the mid 80’s.

    “Downtown is dead and we helped kill it. There’s no major retail, no major attractions and no place to eat.”

    – Oklahoma City Councilman I.G. Purser, April 17, 1988.

  13. All this bellyaching is stupid. It’s not a raise in taxes, it’s nothing more from our pockets than what we’ve been used to with the previous MAPS programs. They want to spruce up OKC and I’ll get to use it. Sounds like a good deal to me.

  14. I find MAPS3, a little hard to swallow. I’m probably mistaken, MAPS for kids, all budget items were specified in the vote itself. I know this MAPS will further the enrichment of current downtown projects as well as certain BID contractors. I don’t understand the further development though without the downtown population to support it.

    The jobs thing is a half truth, the construction jobs are temporary (APROX. 3700 over 5 years), the “permanent” jobs infrastructure support (APPROX 80 laborers, 15 to 20 administrative). The police and fire is kinda a farce, both in all likely hood would approve of this MAPS if the city had approved their respective labor agreements. Oklahoma does not in general have the population or tourism to support these new endeavors, ergo the extension of the forever tax. My analogy is, the permanent hot gold digger forever looking for the next sugar daddy!

    I didn’t see any real plan for maintenance costs of any of the proposed projects, I’m sure I just over looked that thorn and it’s in there somewhere. I really hope voters will educate themselves on the (proposed) projects. It is in essence an open check, subject to corruption as always. Yes, up to this point a few individuals have been fortunate enough to reap an enormous windfall in our taxpayer dollars from previous MAPS projects mostly through real estate transactions.

    Downtown had a trolley system previously, which some may not realize, but it was a miserable failure. It didn’t last even 10 years. The downtown tunnels were part of the old repair facility. Make no mistake, this project is for the people that live and work in and around the Brick area EXCLUSIVELY! It is being sold as the further development of POSSIBLE tourism revenue. Convention revenue has dropped over 45% in the last two years….. so we are going to build another convention center… BRILLIANT! The only thing that is up in the air is how much the bombing memorial has increased tourism and the brick is just a side note to a visit. The same with the THUNDAH.

    I say if you don’t consistently DIRECTLY benefit from this proposal, VOTE NO…… otherwise, give me your money instead, at least I’ll smile and take post-dated checks while I don’t provide a reach around. Stop being stupid enough to give your money to something you’ll appreciate twice a year. Treat yourself to a prostitute instead or a pay per view, at least you’ll know your the one doing the f*cking… well kinda.

  15. I’m also on the fence about this. I agree with most of Clark’s assessment, but can’t help wondering about the specifics of each project. I’m spending time tonight reading info on the city’s website in addition to info from those with opposing viewpoints. I would love for the MAPS 3 projects to come to fruition, but this post from Bob Waldrop, President of the Oklahoma Food Coop, has given me a lot to think about… http://www.bobwaldrop.net/?p=211

  16. @gravity (not sure as to how lucid :) )
    You act like the citizens get no benefit from these improvements and that all the money is going to line the pockets of a select few. The thing is, reality says something different. I look around Bricktown and I can see the restaurants and shops going in, the hotels, the apartments and the ballpark. I can dip my hand into the canal. I hear the crowd roar at the Thunder’s games. I drive through Automobile Alley and see the changes there. Drive around the city and you see new and remodeled schools. Even with the extra penny, Oklahoma City’s sales tax rate is comparable to the surrounding cities.

    If we had been told one thing and wound up with something else, I would be skeptical too. I don’t think any of us who voted for the first MAPS really expected it to work. But it did far beyond our expectations. I believe this will too. As I said before, our civic leaders have done nothing that would shake that belief.

  17. Honestly, after the first two MAPS, if you don’t trust city officials to follow through on what they’ve promised for MAPS 3, you just enjoy not trusting authority figures. I was skeptical about the first MAPS, but I’m man enough to admit I was wrong about that. These people obviously know what they’re doing.

    And that’s the first time I’ve heard that the old street car system sucked. My grandmother would take it in from Bethany every day to her job at one of the downtown department stores, and my mom would take it with her sister to go visit their grandmother downtown. I’ve heard so many people who remember what the old system was like wish they’d never tore it down. Now we have a chance to start righting that wrong.

    OKC is at the same point Atlanta and Birmingham were at 30 or 40 years ago. One of those cities made good choices about what it would be and is five times the size it was. The other one might as well be the same city it was 40 years ago.

    Wish I could be there to vote for it like I did for the first one. Can’t wait to move back so I can vote for MAPS 4!

  18. So many well said positive comments, esp Jax, TravisB, greatwhite and CynicalChris.
    I just can’t believe we are finally on the verge of something great, and somehow there is this movement of naysayers. What do we have to lose?
    The park was planned years before the Devon Tower, and they are giving the city their tif money ($150m+) to re-landscape the streets of downtown.
    The ‘trolley’ is actually a light rail system that will eventually connect Edmond, OKC, Norman, and MWC, then spread out all over downtown, so when gas eventually hits $4 a gallon, it might make more sense to some. The DART in Dallas has been a great success.
    Can they not remember when Downtown was a ghostown? Look at how far it’s come. In ten years, if this passes the effects will be exponentially bigger.
    The language of the bill is deliberately vague, because of the length of time it takes to raise the money before they spend it. The city leaders know that things may change and we may not need exactly what we think we need this year. The size of something may change. But they definitely have our best interest at heart. We’ve gotten this far.

  19. The initial MAPS project made it so that our city was not a complete and utter embarrassment. If MAPS 3 makes half the improvement to our downtown area that the initial MAPS made, then I’m all for it. I’ve seen this city change in ways I never would have imagined possible. Without MAPS, we’d just be Wichita today. The arguments against come down to this:

    1. “Ballot wording” – Simple minds come up with weak arguments.
    2. “Other areas need the money more” – Fine. Try and get .01 sales tax before the people for trash cleanup and mowing vacant lots and see how far that gets.
    3. “Cops and firemen need raises” – As do we all, and as the article mentioned, only a complete buffoon would suggest providing for a permanent need with a temporary solution.

    The bottom line is that MAPS is a special tax designed to provide things our normal budget cannot afford. In doing so, it provides greater long term resources by driving business growth. If we stop building for the future, we stop growing, and cops and firemen still don’t get their raises, trash still doesn’t get picked up, streets still have potholes, and South OKC still looks like a warzone.

  20. $777,000,0000, and they don’t go into detail about what they are going to do with it. Oh yeah that’s right they have to put some money aside so they can rebuild the Ford Center in its new place after I-40 is moved so Bricktown can grow.

    Perhaps if it wasn’t so much money for seven years, it would have a shot. However I have to agree, Not This MAPS. What about a 3 year $333,0000,0000 with definite goals, then when those are achieved come back for another round of 4 years, or $444,0000,0000.

    It’s a money thing, and a trust thing, and there is not a lot of spare money around, and we certainly don’t trust our politicians, and more oversight would be a good thing too.

    We like progress, but we also like accountability as well as honesty, and we want to make sure our tax dollars are spent effectively and well. I’m not really seeing any of this in this latest proposal, and I am seeing a lot of potential for graft and corruption. Hopefully it is just potential, but I don’t like the idea that a lot of our tax dollars will be wasted on things that are not the right thing for our city.

    While I like the Thunder and being an NBA city, I am a bit concerned as to just how much we had to pay to get this team, and how much we are having to pay to keep it. I’m sure part of the $777,000,000 is a slush fund to keep the Thunder happy, as we can’t be going to the voters for the million here and ten million there that they need in order to keep them from moving to another city who is willing to throw money at them.

    It’s a slippery slope using tax dollars to fund things that were once funded by for profit businesses. I understand many other cities are also doing this, but I hope we are not just being played the fool using the veiled threat of another city willing to do more.

    Stimulus is one thing, but $777,000,000 goes way beyond stimulus and then the city becomes the landlord of arenas and convention centers that can’t be rented out and we have to pump yet more good money to shore up all the bad money already put into the system. We could be creating a bigger problem by building a bigger convention center at a time when businesses are having fewer conventions and meetings, and we are trying to compete with overbuilt convention cities, such as Las Vegas, Orlando, or even Dallas. The city doesn’t have to have a viable plan when they have $777,000,000 to spend, they can just build it and hope it will all work out.

    Detroit put a lot of money into convention centers, as well as their Ford Center, and all they proved was that the adage of “if you build it they will come” isn’t always true.

    Businesses tend to flock to areas where the business and tax environment is beneficial. Perhaps if OKC provided a better environment of lower taxes, and a good workforce more businesses would come here, and we wouldn’t have to float yet another tax funded MAPS project in hopes of getting businesses into downtown to fix urban decay.

    Even if our politicians intentions are good and honorable it doesn’t mean their plan will succeed even if they can keep their collective egos in check.

    $777,000,000 is a lot of money, and it is a tax increase as it will extend yet again a “temporary” sales tax. I’m sure it will also create some temporary construction jobs, as well as some permanent jobs after whatever is built is finished. However I have concerns that it is not the best way to spend $777,000,000, but I don’t know for sure because when you read the question on the ballot I don’t know exactly how they are going to spend all this money.

    I think they need to go back to the drawing board on this one and come back with a more concrete plan.

  21. @martz I appreciate your quip but lets be a little more original. The ilk of the passage is simply OKC does not have the population or the tourism to sustain itself w/o a sustained tax increase. This will go on and on until the city is in such debt(because the city is required to maintain civic projects after building them. remember the 12 pools recently closed because the city lacked funds to maintain them )… well never mind, no use diving into that. The fact that we perpetually have to extend the .01 (forever) tax proves that out on it’s own.

    Bottom line, I never even alluded that MAPS 1 or 2 wasn’t a success. The brick is revitalized, let private investment take care of the rest as in DEVON, because they already have as well as others. Let it continue on it’s own w/o subsidizing it with public money(favors returned). Also I never said the old trolley system “SUCKED”. It was a miserable failure because the city couldn’t afford the upkeep. But, now we can all of the sudden afford MULTI- HUNDRED MILLION dollar modified light rail system. Not precluding easement rights that will have to be allocated. This is a cruel, very bad joke.

    Yes, I will absolutely say that a lot of money was made by certain individuals through real estate deals down town in the brick. ONE of them used to own a really popular irish bar. I would hope every one would realize that FACT. Not every citizen can even afford a night in the brick much less a meal on the town, or as you say to dip your hand in the canal.@martz, You do realize the ducks shit in that RIGHT? Not to lucid.

    Anyhow, the light rail that is spoken of will not be expanded. The current plans( straight out of Mick’s mouth)are a closed loop from the brick to west of the court house and back. The first expansion considered was of course to, where else but Edmond. God knows those people need a financial break. Don’t get me wrong I am more than willing to give my .01 for the rest of my life. But, for those who really need it. Not to give my money to someone that doesn’t need it nor deserves it or simply to repay some ones political debt. Actually we already paying for light rail. Most probably just don’t realize it. The light and medium rail is called ASCELA. It serves the NE Corridor from Boston all the way to Philly. Yeah, your already paying for that in FEDERAL taxes. Congratulations, real success story hun! What do you get for that? ZILCH!

    OKC is being sold on something that could improve itself, but at whose real expense? Our own! Infrastructure has to be replaced and for some reason we can’t afford to do that. Bridges, water lines, sewer lines, buried electric grid (remember ice storms). There are so many civic items to put these proposed millions into. For some reason, the Mayor( FORMER NEWS ANCHOR… it’s laughable at best) can’t focus on those. These projects aren’t sexy but they are the life blood of any metropolitan area. If a city doesn’t or can’t maintain basic services w/o special allocations IT WILL DIE. Ask a local Civil engineer, we are in bad shape. Turning a blind eye to it doesn’t fix it. ROME IS BURNING, we just can’t see the flames.

    For those that don’t understand we(OKC) can’t be Dallas, NYC, Amsterdam, Boston London, Madrid, Philadelphia. There just isn’t enough money here. OKC would need 50 DEVON’s and Chesepeakes in order to even start to mimic those metro area’s. There is not a soul on earth that can dispute that FACT either. The money would have to perpetually come from the citizen’s and companies at a higher rate. Yes OKC’s tax burden is lower than the national average but our median income last time I checked was 46th out of 50. So with that factored in we actually, as citizen’s WILL BE paying more. So by all mean’s, buy the Escalade even if you can’t afford it! Don’t be surprised if it gets repo’d over night or god forbid you have to repair it!

  22. I think what the voters should have been provided with is a cost/benefit analysis.

    For example, we know that if MAPS 3 passes, the city budget will permanently increase. We will need more city workers to police the park, operate the rail, maintain the rail, etc. Those are fixed costs that will last well after (i.e. forever) the MAPS 3 tax ends.

    We also know that the infrastructure development may lead to an increase in private sector jobs, which in turn leads to more tax revenue for the city. But after the temporary construction jobs leave, what will we have? And what happens if the increase in revenue doesn’t match the increase in the size of the city budget? Do we pass MAPS 4? What happens during our next recession? Do we shut down the rail? Reassuring the voters, in the midst of a recession, is pretty desirable.

    Mayor Cornett has been unwilling to debate any of the city leaders who have come out in opposition to MAPS 3. Why? “Winning elections is more important than winning debates.” Wouldn’t a debate actually clear some things up? The refusal gives the conspiracy theorists a measure of validity.

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