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Commentary: Enough with the MAPS bashing



Following the re-election of Mayor Mick Cornett, some are questioning this and asking what direction we're going. Specifically, some are questioning where we should be spending MAPS dollars.

Criticizing MAPS has become a ratings bonanza for some, and it's an easy way to attract attention in this community. However, for those of us who are tired of hearing the criticism, please shut up.

I say that with the utmost respect. I'm simply tired of anyone being critical of an essentially revenue-neutral program that has helped take an industrial area with little more than a spaghetti restaurant and a seedy nightclub or two and turned it into the most vibrant location in the state. It helped take what many viewed as little more than a cow town with very little going for it and turned it into the best kept secret in America.

Am I a MAPS fan? Yes, unabashedly. I see MAPS as a reward to those of us who could have moved off after college, but stayed and watched our friends go. To those who could have moved to Dallas for more money, or to Washington, D.C., for more influence, but didn't, MAPS is for you. For those who thought about going to the mountains and leaving these flatlands behind, MAPS is for you. For those who wanted to wake up to an ocean, but stayed to spend Memorial Day at the lake, MAPS is for you. For the artists and musicians who were drawn to Austin, Texas, Santa Fe, N.M., or New York but stayed and made this home, MAPS is for you. For everyone who heard your friends say how much they couldn't wait to get out of Oklahoma, but you stayed. MAPS is for us.

We supported MAPS in all its forms over the years, and now we are reaping the benefits of our investment. Besides having a playoff-bound professional basketball team, we also have an NCAA Regional in town. We have more dining options, better infrastructure, more community pride and an improving public school system.

Sure, the MAPS for Kids initiative has hit some bumps along the way, but I'm confident in the district's administration to put it back on the right track for the benefit of this community.

In a recent trip out of state, I encountered a couple from Florida and struck up a conversation. They asked where I was from, and I replied, "Oklahoma City." They responded, "We never hear anyone admit they're from Oklahoma." I laughed at their reply and said, "I'm happy to be the first." I then found myself bragging on my city for the next 10 minutes until we had to part ways. I explained that, with all we've done over the last 15 years, I think Oklahoma City is the best-kept secret in America, and that I hope it stays that way.

We can say we're almost the greatest little, big city in the country. We're more hospitable than Colorado and California. We don't have the traffic of Texas. We can find just about any dining option we could want. We have more sunshine than most states " and with our coming central park, we'll have additional space to enjoy it. And with a relatively low cost of living and improving business conditions, this is a land of enormous opportunity.

So you naysayers who are critical of the last few mayors and their support of the MAPS program, I say it's time for you to please shut up, because we're moving forward without you.

Smith is an attorney living in OKC.

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