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.  

 


Comments

S. Arps
02/29/2016 10:38am

Excellent research!

Reply
Amanda
02/29/2016 12:13pm

Well done! Thank you for all you are doing!!

Reply
Jerrry Herring
02/29/2016 12:51pm

Nice digging for Facts and the Article I feel is well written.

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Patsy Starkey
02/29/2016 2:22pm

All the OTA does is LIE and that's why they can't look the residents of the EOC in the eye!

Reply
David
02/29/2016 5:37pm

Nice article.
Where will this information go from here and how will it get to the public's eye beyond this blog?

Reply
TJ
03/02/2016 7:44am

Feel free to share in any capacity that you feel will be beneficial. Passing information along is the responsibility of all who wish to stop this project! Email the link to legislators or family. Both will help!

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Alesia Murphy
03/21/2016 9:36pm

Fantastic research, well done!

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Benjamin Weiss
05/07/2016 5:55am

Have you looked to see if any other roads were mentioned? Originally ODOT was supposed to build this monstrosity

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Tinker should not deny to support this project because it is in the favor of the people who love to travel. This project will make the ways easy for the people travel from one place to other. I searched a lot but could not get the reason why tinker denied to support it.

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