Oklahoma City voters will decide on Dec. 10 whether to extend the MAPS penny sales tax for eight years to fund nearly $1 billion in projects. An estimated $115 million would go toward Chesapeake and the Thunder’s practice facility in northwest Oklahoma City....
In addition to the Chesapeake money, MAPS 4 proposes a $37 million soccer stadium on a site to be determined. Much of the rest of the money in MAPS 4 would be directed to social services, including mental health and homelessness, and to parks and recreation centers.
Sundra Flansburg, a board member of Voices Organized in Civic Engagement (VOICE), which pushed for the social components to be included, said the group is backing the MAPS 4 package and accepts the sports facility funding as necessary to attract broader support.
She said the sports facilities are “not our favorite part of it, but we are very excited about the rest of it. … Politics is politics. And we got a much, much better package.”
[Photo Credit: Dave Morris, The Oklahoman]
Earlier this year, Tena Jefferson received a late-night call from Oklahoma City police while she was out of town. Her house had been broken into, and the officer had the suspect in custody.
It was a family member who was dealing with mental illness problems and had recently been released from the hospital.
“The officer was very, very nice when I explained the situation,” Jefferson recalled. “But he said the only thing I could do is either charge him or (the officer) could turn him loose on the street. Those were my two options. Neither one acceptable.”
This story is not unique to members of VOICE, a local civic engagement organization made up of worker’s groups, various nonprofits, church congregations and others....
[Photo Credit: Phil Landsberger, The Oklahoman]
This fall, the biggest loser of the amendments proposed by the firefighters union will be local democracy. While much of the rhetoric focuses on the city’s AAA bond rating and its capacity to govern, COPS/Metro is primarily concerned about the loss of San Antonio’s democratic capacity.
COPS/Metro — a coalition of congregations, schools and unions working together on behalf of families — asked the city to drop the lawsuit on the evergreen clause and firefighters to drop the petition drive and return to the negotiating table. Neither side moved, and now the residents and voters of San Antonio are caught in the crossfire between “Go Vote No” and “Vote Yes” on the three charter amendments.
At its core, democracy is about negotiation and compromise...
AMOS Seeks Welfare of the City: Extended Library Hours, Park Lighting and Infrastructure in Lower Income Zip Codes
Leaders packed a church hall to engage Des Moines candidates around including AMOS priorities in key investments in lower income areas of the city. Candidates who participated and agreed to support the agenda included: Scott Sanders (Des Moines City Manager), Frank Cownie (Des Moines Mayor), Chris Coleman (Des Moines City Councilmember), Josh Mandelbaum (Des Moines City Councilmember Ward 3), and Linda Westergaard (Des Moines City Councilmember Ward 4).
The City Manager committed to including AMOS priorities in a one-cent local option sales tax increase planned for March 2019. AMOS priorities included: expansion of library hours to at least 6 days per week, lighting in two inner city parks, addressing the growing number of dilapidated/abandoned homes in 50314 and 50316 zip codes, doubling the number of rental housing inspectors, startup funds for a children's mental health crisis unit / observation center, and basic infrastructure improvements (i.e. streets, sidewalks, sewers, and snow removal).
Leaders plan to follow up with public officials who made commitments in early 2019 to ensure their fulfill their pledges.
Group Pushes Des Moines to Use Sales Tax Money to Extend Library Hours, Des Moines Register
The meal delivery program targets vulnerable seniors. At current funding levels, the program is reported to provide more than 300 Henderson seniors +112,000 meals per year. However, a city spokesperson reports that nearly 300 additional seniors are on the waiting list.Read more
Later that night, one dozen leaders spoke in support of specific priorities including a wage increase to $13.03 for all adult city employees, including part-time temporary workers; investment in Capital IDEA training; after-school programming; investments in branch libraries; improved park facilities and more.Read more
COPS / Metro leader Robert Cruz, pointedly asked the city's budget director what the city intends to do with the $24 million in revenue it received in excess of forecasts when the 2015 budget was adopted last year. He asserted that he wanted some of that money go to workforce training program Project Quest and local literacy programs.Read more