Dear Oklahomans,

You may have read the following on the drivingforwardok.com website:

“The Driving Forward initiative has support from the cities of Mustang, Oklahoma City, Choctaw, Harrah, the Eastern Oklahoma County Partnership, Oklahoma County, Tinker Air Force Base, local businesses and community members. These organizations and many more have actively supported and have been involved in the planning of this project over the last two to five years.”

Harrah and Newalla are both semi-rural areas with large unincorporated areas.   These areas are not inside actual city limits.   As a result many residents in those areas can’t vote in city elections.  Consequently, we are dealing with an atrocious lack of representation as it pertains to this issue.  At some point I wondered, “Just how many elected officials does it take to override the voice of a screaming community”?   I decided to add up how many elected officials have been pushing this agenda based on the claims of the website’s statement.   

At first I thought the number would be large.   But then I recalled my surprise during our first  Harrah City Council meeting.  Five people spoke for Harrah.  That seemed really low.  So I decided to add up how many "voices" have been heard from the list.  I looked up each area listed online, and followed those tabulations with a call to the actual community to confirm.   

Mustang has 7 elected officials
Oklahoma City has 9 elected officials.
Oklahoma County has 10 elected officals.
Choctaw has 7 elected officals.

EOCP has ZERO people elected.  Z-E-R-O.   They are a business advocacy group based out of the local votech.   Interestingly enough, while taxpayer dollars fund the educational facility which houses their offices, taxpayer voices have no sway with EOCP directors and board members.  EOCP does not appear beholden to voters in any way.  Harrah, Jones, and Choctaw all have elected officials who sit on this board effectively giving them a second chance to push their turnpike agenda.   I will give EOCP an additional 4 points for people who have not previously been counted because I'm nice like that.   And I do hope to hold those 4 people accountable at some point in the future.  First I have to survive their having spoken for me.  

Assuming every single elected official in each of these communities supports the turnpike, our tally will have reached 42 mostly elected supporters.  

Things got interesting when I tried to quantify the support of Tinker AFB.  But I needed a number.  So I called Tinker.  After a 5 minute conversation during which the person on the phone adamantly assured me that Tinker prefers to stay neutral, I worked my way up through the ranks of Tinker PR  for a real answer.   I found myself on the phone with Ron Mullan, "The Voice of Tinker", Chief of Command Information at Tinker Public Affairs.   He asked me why I’d think Tinker would have a position other than neutral.   I informed him of the claims listed on the state’s own website.   After he’d found the quote under the Q&A section of the site, I asked Tinker to confirm the specific claims that they "actively support" or "have been involved in the planning" of the the Driving Forward initiative.    I'd like to share Tinker’s answer with you:    

Ms. Arnold,

In answer to your query, the following statement is provided.

“Tinker Air Force Base supports development as outlined in the 2009 Joint Land Use Study adopted by the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments.”

Vr,

Ron
Ron Mullan
"The Voice of Tinker"
Chief, Command Information
Tinker Public Affairs
DSN:  884-2562
CMCL:  405-734-2562

This wasn't exactly the response I thought I would get so I kept digging.   The joint land use study is 285 pages long so I will summarize as best I can.  This is the document should you wish to read it:   http://www.okc.gov/planning/documents/jlus%20final%20report.pdf

Page 1 is a document prepared for: Midwest City, Del City, Oklahoma City, Spencer, Choctaw, Nicoma Park, Oklahoma County, Cleveland County, Oklahoma Strategic Military Planning Commission, Tinker AFB.    There is a glaring omission here.  Harrah is NOT listed on the front page.  There are other notable omissions, but Harrah is my area and thus the focus of my query.   Further keyword searches of the document reveal that the word turnpike is never used.   Not once in the whole document.  Additional searches of the text reveal that HARRAH turns up similar results.   As a city within the study area, Harrah simply isn’t mentioned.   (“Harrah” is referenced once as the hometown of a particular past councilman,  and a second time as it pertains to EOCTC, a tourism council.)

After preliminary research I can come to only one conclusion.  Tinker’s statement refutes any claims that they are 'for the Turnpike'.   Their top spokesman can only confirm that Tinker supports a study in which Turnpikes were NOT discussed and Harrah was NOT included!   This is strong argument against claims of support on drivingforwardok.com!  It certainly made me wonder how valid any of the website’s claims are if they would so brazenly claim the support of a whole Air Force Base.   As a resident who stands to incur considerable harm based on the false claims of the website, I certainly hope the Capitol will review and remove the false wording from their website.  

 
 
In an effort to circumvent current balanced budget laws in Oklahoma, certain entities, governors, and legislators, have turned their focus to the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority for the building of new roads in our state.   OTA is unique in it's ability to sell bonds to fund projects.   The Turnpike Authority was originally meant to be a self funding and self terminating agency.   Somehow this unregulated agency has built an empire lasting over 65 years during which time not a single toll road has ceased taking tolls.   We ask you read further to see if future projects will affect your family or loved ones.

Below are cities listed in Oklahoma Statute, Title 69, chapter 1, Article 17, Section 1705 which authorizes and empowers The Oklahoma Turnpike Authority to construct, maintain, repair and operate turnpike projects and highways.   These projects are fully approved by the legislature and only await OTA funding!!   What Harrah is learning now may save other small Oklahoma towns in the future.   The OTA doesn't ask.  They demand and take.   We implore all Oklahomans to read further and weigh the cost to our freedom.   We cannot allow the OTA to take our homesteads, or yours,  for their own agenda. 

Ada, Altus
Broken Arrow
Catoosa
Davis, Duncan
Enid
Heavner, Henryetta
Moore, Mustang
Newkirk, Norman
Oklahoma City
Pawhuska, Ponca City, Poteau
Sayre,Snyder,Stigler
Tulsa,Tuttle
Velma
Watonga,Webber Falls,Woodward

While some of these distinguished cities and towns may wish for improved highway access
, they don't deserve the plague of anxiety or threat of eminent domain that the OTA's presence has brought to Choctaw, Harrah, Luther, Newalla, and Jones residents.  

Cities list was taken from the following portions of state statute:


(7)  All or any part of an extension of the Muskogee Turnpike, beginning at a point on Interstate Highway 40 near the present south terminus of the Muskogee Turnpike, and extending in a southeasterly direction on an alignment near Stigler, Poteau and Heavener to the vicinity of the Arkansas State Line to furnish access to Hot Springs, Texarkana, Shreveport and New Orleans.
(10)  A turnpike or any part or parts thereof beginning in the vicinity of Duncan extending east to the vicinity of the City of Davis, and extending in a northeasterly direction, by way of the vicinity of the City of Ada, to a connection in the vicinity of Henryetta or in the vicinity of the intersection of State Highway 48 and Interstate 40; and a turnpike or any part or parts thereof from the vicinity of Snyder extending north to the vicinity of Woodward.
(11)  A turnpike or any part or parts thereof beginning at a point in the vicinity of Ponca City, or at a point on the Kansas-Oklahoma state boundary line east of the Arkansas River and west of the point where Oklahoma State Highway No. 18 intersects said state boundary line, and extending in a southeasterly direction to a connection with the Tulsa Urban Expressway System in the general area of the Port of Catoosa.
(12)  All or any part of an Oklahoma City toll expressway system connecting the residential, industrial and State Capitol Complex in the north part of Oklahoma City with the residential, industrial and Will Rogers World Airport Complex in the south and southwest parts of Oklahoma City.
(13)  A turnpike (The Industrial Parkway) or any part or parts thereof beginning at a point on the Oklahoma-Kansas state boundary line between the point where U.S. Highway 66 intersects the boundary line and the northeast corner of Oklahoma and ending by means of a connection or connections with Shreveport, Louisiana, and Houston, Texas, in southeastern Oklahoma and at no point to exceed thirty (30) miles west of the Missouri or Arkansas border.
(14)  A turnpike or any part or parts thereof beginning in the vicinity of Velma or County Line to a point intersecting with Interstate 35 in the area south of Davis.
(15)  A turnpike or any part or parts thereof beginning in the vicinity of Watonga and extending south and/or east to the vicinity of north and/or west Oklahoma City.
(20)  All or any part of an Oklahoma City Outer Loop expressway system beginning in the vicinity of I-35 and the Turner Turnpike and extending west into Canadian County and then south to I-40; and then south and east to I-35 in the vicinity of Moore and Norman; and then extending east and north to I-40 east of Tinker Field; and then extending north to the Turner Turnpike to complete the Outer Loop.
(21)  All or any part of the Tulsa south bypass expressway system beginning in the vicinity of the Turner Turnpike near Sapulpa and extending south and east to U.S. 75 in the vicinity of 96th Street to 121st Street; and then east across the Arkansas River to a connection with the Mingo Valley Expressway; and then south and/or east to a point on the Tulsa-Wagoner County Line near 131st street south in the city of Broken Arrow.
(22)  A new turnpike or any part thereof from near the west gate of the Will Rogers Turnpike south to the west end of south Tulsa Turnpike at the Tulsa-Wagoner County Line.
(23)  A new turnpike or any parts thereof from the vicinity of the connection between State Highway 33 and U.S. 69 easterly to the Arkansas State Line.
(24)  A four-lane extension of the Muskogee Turnpike from Interstate Highway 40 west of Webbers Falls to the Poteau vicinity.
(25)  A new turnpike or any part or parts thereof beginning at a point in the vicinity of northwest Tulsa, and extending in a northwesterly direction, by means of a connection or connections with the cities of Pawhuska and Newkirk, to a point intersecting in the vicinity of US Highway No. 77 and the Kansas State Line.
(27)  A new turnpike beginning at a point directly west of the Arkansas line and four-laning Highway 70 from that point to the farthest western reach of Highway 70 creating a southern route through Oklahoma.
(28)  A new turnpike and bridge or any parts thereof from a point in the vicinity of the city of Mustang southerly across the South Canadian River to the H.E. Bailey Turnpike in the vicinity of the city of Tuttle; and then easterly across the South Canadian River to a point in the vicinity of the city of Norman.
(29)  A new turnpike or any parts thereof beginning at a point in the vicinity of the city of Altus and extending in a northwesterly direction to a point in the vicinity of the city of Sayre.
(30)  A new turnpike or any parts thereof beginning at a point in the vicinity of the city of Enid and extending in a westerly direction to a point in the vicinity of the city of Woodward.
(32)  A new bridge crossing the Arkansas River between South Delaware Avenue and Memorial Drive in Tulsa County.  This project shall commence upon a determination by the Oklahoma Transportation Authority that such bridge shall be self-sufficient at some point over a thirty-year time period from the toll charges associated with the bridge project.
(35)  A new turnpike or any parts thereof beginning at Interstate 44 at or near its intersection with 49th West Avenue, past State Highway 64/412, turning northeasterly, crossing 41st West Avenue, and continuing eastward to the L.L. Tisdale Expressway in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
 
 
We urge all opponents of the Eastern Oklahoma County Loop to email the following, or something similar, to any and all state legislators!  Emailing the two you voted for will not be enough.  When we visited the capitol last week we found that many were not even aware the Eastern Loop was being built.  Almost without exclusion, they claimed that they didn't know of the following statute.  We have been complacent and silent for too long!   Demand better for our state!  Feel free to copy and paste the following text.

Dear Legislator,

Eastern OK County needs you to act within your authority now!   Oklahoma deserves better growth than OTA can provide.  They've dominated this state's transportation infrastructure for nearly 70 years!  They've had many years to prove their value to the state as a whole.  We are tired of being held hostage by the failed policies of the past.  The Oklahoma Turnpike Authority was an idea that has grown beyond any conceivable bounds. Oklahomans know that something is intrinsically wrong with how we've been funding roads.  It's time to hold ourselves accountable....and act.   Please as my legislator act on my behalf.  Please do so before OTA scars the face of Eastern Oklahoma County with a Turnpike. 

THE LEGISLATURE,NOT WITHSTANDING ANY AGREEMENT OR CONTRACT ENTERED INTO BY THE AUTHORITY, MAY REPEAL,ALTER,OR AMEND THE AUTHORIZATION FOR THE CONSTRUCTION,OR DESCRIPTION OF THE ROUTE OR LOCATION OF ANY TURNPIKE OR TURNPIKES,OR PORTION OR PORTIONS THERE OF,FOR WHICH BONDS HAVE NOT BEEN SOLD AT THE TIME OF SUCH LEGISLATIVE ACTION.
OKLAHOMA STATUTE .TITLE 69 CHAPTER1 ARTICLE17 SECTION 1732
 
 


My wife and I purchased our first home in Harrah, back in 1995.  It was a small home on one acre of land and a huge responsibility for a 19 year old.  We loved our first home because of the freedom and privacy it provided our growing family.  A few years later, my beautiful daughter was born.  What a day!  We have many fond memories of our little family growing up in Harrah.  We enjoyed attending Harrah Days, swimming, fishing, biking, walking in the park, and other outdoor activities.  By 2008, hard work and better employment opportunities allowed us to move to our forever home in Harrah.  In 2010 I started my own small service business that I operate from our homestead. Our American dream had finally been achieved. 

At the beginning of 2016 we started hearing about Driving Forward.  The more research we did, the more concerned we became.  Concern turned to horror as we realized how indebted and unaccountable the Turnpike Authority is.  After a few days worth of digging it quickly becomes evident OTA's business plan mirrors that of  most ponzi schemes.  Should the project go forward,  We fear that our close proximity to the turnpike will force us to move from our dream home.  We do not want to look out our front door at a swath of unnecessary asphalt, an ever present reminder of when our City Council turned it's back on property rights for the promise of a dollar.  We definitely cannot afford the health consequences of living near a highway. We have never researched an issue as carefully and thoroughly as this project.  We will see, hear, and breath this unnecessary turnpike every day of our lives.  We believe it will be detrimental to the wonderful town of Harrah.  It will also prevent us from driving directly West to care for our 91 year old grandmother.  Moving her from a facility in North Carolina was contingent on our family have quick and direct access to her should an emergency arise.  Oklahoma Turnpike Authority knows our city has a grid lay out.   But they have refused to discuss any East/West access point across or under the potential turnpike.  This rather suggests they don't have any intention of leaving those access points for residents.   The politicians want this for growth but they don't have a crystal ball.  It is as likely that they will turn Harrah into a ghost town as they develop it.  Either way, they will ruin our city.  If we are forced to sell, we will probably lose money during the downgrade.   We will be forced to move into town, or move farther away from those we are obligated to care for.  Neither is an acceptable option for us.  People don't drive all the way to East Oklahoma County to live next to a noisy turnpike.  They do it for the small town atmosphere and friendly people.  I have this visceral feeling that I must fight against this project as hard I can.  There are good people here that need help before they are displaced by this travesty.   Neighboring supporters who will not be affected by the turnpike at all have called us "provincial" for holding onto our dreams.  There is nothing small about loving the life you have.  

"Never be afraid to raise your voice for honesty and truth and compassion against injustice and lying and greed. If people all over the world...would do this, it would change the earth."
― William Faulkner