The right to choose 

Due to the vast television coverage by helicopter, it was easy to see that we have a well-trained fire department whose members gave an all-out effort to save lives and property.

Credit also goes to the various police departments and Oklahoma County Sheriff John Whetsel and his department. They assisted in the evacuation of homeowners and provided traffic control. One of the key elements in fighting these large fires is in the task force formed by metro-area fire chiefs who agreed that each department would provide assistance in the form of equipment and manpower where needed.

These same firefighters make up the local firefighters’ union. This is the same union that has been publicly criticized during the past several months by the local daily newspaper and the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber. They were upset that this group of firefighters would have the audacity to challenge one of their pet projects, namely MAPS 3.

The point being made by the firefighters’ union was simply that they were very low on manpower and the situation would likely get worse in the near future. Then, during the Oklahoma City Council election, each group supported their candidates of choice. Once again, the union was criticized for spending money on its preferred candidate. But when a complete list of contributions was published, where did the large sums of money spent on the winning candidates come from?

Maybe it’s just a coincidence, but a new group just surfaced: the Alliance for Economic Development of Oklahoma City (referenced in Clifton Adcock’s story “Nichols’ tower,” May 11, Oklahoma Gazette). The board members are the same players involved from the beginning of MAPS 3 up through the time of the elections. The group’s proposed task has merit and could serve many needs. I have to give them credit for having the foresight to pick a very capable, intelligent, conscientious young lady as the agency’s president in the person of Catherine O’Connor.

It’s time that the big-city newspaper and Chamber members get off the firefighters, as most have served their country to defend their right to pick and choose their candidates and issues.

—Bill G. Liebegott
Oklahoma City

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