Groups Rally For and Against MAPS 3
By Charles Bassett, NEWS 9
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Supporters and opponents of the MAPS 3 proposal were rallying outside City Hall today as election day nears.
A new coalition, KillTheMapsTax.com, protested against extending the sales tax.
"Citizens are rising up against higher taxes and government spending," Porter Davis, the coalition's spokesman said. "Oklahoma City, its citizens and businesses need the economic stimulus that comes from the tax cut resulting in letting the temporary Maps Tax expire."
More than 100 people gathered outside the Oklahoma City Hall building to voice their opposition to the proposed MAPS 3 initiative.
"It's a 17-year-old temporary tax they don't want to let expire because they don't want to have to come to you again with real projects on the ballot specified, flushed out for you to vote 'yes' or 'no' on," Davis said.
MAPS 3 is an extension of a one cent sales tax already in place to pay for improvements at the Ford Center. It will be extended over seven and a half years and generate $777 million to pay for several projects downtown including trails, a rail system and a new convention center.
But this group says a tax break is what the people of Oklahoma City really need.
"Yeah, it's not a new tax, but it's still my money and it's not going to the things that represent me or that I want or I'm going to personally benefit from," Toby Pedford with Not This Maps said.
But MAPS opponents weren't the only ones at the rally. A handful of supporters showed up claiming the opponents are distorting the facts.
"One of the things this gentleman said is that our transit component in MAPS 3, the street car downtown is not going to connect directly to the bus station, it actually is going to connect to the bus station," MAPS supporter Jeff Bezdek said.
Mayor Mick Cornett who is the face of MAPS says the opponents have it wrong; everyone benefits even if they don't live downtown.
"I think the quality of life in the suburbs if you choose to live 10 miles from Downtown like I do, is directly related to the vitality and energy of the inner city," said Mayor Cornett. "You can't be a suburb of nothing."
NEWS 9 polls done in September showed strong support for MAPS 3. NEWS 9 pollster Keith Gaddie says now it's about staying on message to the end.
"They haven't lost traction, but they have discovered they have somebody running against them," Gaddie said.
The new group joins union workers with the city's police and fire departments in opposing MAPS 3.