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A call for civility


Bill Bleakley December 3rd, 2009

One of the things that makes Oklahoma City a great city is the friendliness and cordiality of its citizens. However, aside from partisan elections for political office, this MAPS election seems to hav...

One of the things that makes Oklahoma City a great city is the friendliness and cordiality of its citizens. However, aside from partisan elections for political office, this MAPS election seems to have developed a particularly vitriolic tone.

As the MAPS 3 election approaches this Tuesday, we must make an extra effort to be civil to one another and, regardless of the outcome, work together in the future whether it passes or fails.

In poker, there's a term called "betting on the come." A player who holds several cards of good potential has to decide whether to bet on the cards coming from the deck to complete the hand or fold it.

Our citizens are holding several good cards " for sure the original MAPS and MAPS for Kids " and are being asked to draw cards from the deck that not only includes the MAPS 3 projects, but also cards that question whether our future economy will be failing, stagnant or rising. There's also a card for an Oklahoma County jail sales tax proposal looming on the horizon this spring.

In our democracy, it's the citizens who will decide whether the prudent course is to tax themselves and invest almost a billion dollars in our city or wait to pursue this or another plan at a later date.

It's up to the voters to decide whether to draw more cards or fold their hand on Tuesday. Depending on the voters' decision, we must join together to either move forward to implement MAPS 3, redesign the proposal for future consideration or cautiously wait for a better time as we see how the economy plays out.

Proponents of MAPS 3 say its eight projects will positively benefit future generations and advance the quality of life and economy of our city. Opponents to MAPS 3 have raised public safety concerns along with questions about the proposal's scope, accountability and cost.

Over the past months, our editorial staff has diligently pursued all available information about the MAPS 3 proposal to present to our readers. Our writers have gone to the direct sources for comment, information and original documents.

An independent, public opinion poll was conducted by Oklahoma Gazette and KWTV News 9 prior to the city council's call for an election to get a sense of the voters' attitudes on the MAPS 3 proposals.

Oklahoma Gazette has allocated extra space and effort to original reporting on MAPS 3, in part because we sensed that most other media in the market were either unwilling or unable to provide in-depth coverage of this important election. This spirit of independence and inquiry is crucial at a time when the media often appear to be influenced more by economic interests than journalistic standards.

We believe our extended coverage was necessary because the city ordinance will leave implementation of MAPS 3 to future city councils without any binding legal obligation, guided by promises made and the recommendations of a future citizen's advisory board.

From its beginning when a cannon shot signaled the Run of '89, this city has been built on faith and hope. On Tuesday, the voters will determine the reach of that faith and hope, and on Wednesday morning, we must join together to continue to build our great city, regardless of the outcome. 

Bleakley is publisher of Oklahoma Gazette. 

More MAPS 3 coverage:
Officials: Downtown rail initiative in MAPS 3 can serve as future framework
If voters approve MAPS 3 proposal, Downtown could house $130 million park
OKC Mayor Mick Cornett plans to educate about $777 million proposal
Will OKC's decreased revenue change MAPS 3's final blueprint?
Former Mayor Ron Norick discusses how current MAPS proposal differs from first
Mayor prioritizes modern streetcar in OKC for MAPS 3
Some OKC entities stand to benefit in MAPS 3 proposal
MAPS 3 could bring massive central park to Downtown OKC area
OKC planning director answers questions about Downtown Park
MAPS 3 proposal includes $50 million for trails, sidewalks to improve walkability
 
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