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Needed: 'MAPS for people'



Planners of the first MAPS sales tax projects launched new pride in our city's appearance, development and national reputation. The problem is that sales taxes always fall most heavily upon middle-income and lower-income families, while benefits of MAPS projects " particularly the proposals for MAPS 3 " all feed the investment dreams of Oklahoma City's wealthiest class.

What we really need is "MAPS for the Bottom Half." Projects benefiting average families would include better maintenance of streets and bridges; investments in police and fire departments; and better public transportation, including light rail (subsidized, so that users might ride for a quarter).

I'd love to vote for 20 municipal health centers where anyone could get a towel, swim and exercise practically free. Obesity and alcohol abuse are epidemic killers in Oklahoma City, and it's time city leaders demonstrated commitment to the health and vibrancy of families living on hourly wages.

I've worked 10 years with others trying to prevent the paving of the Union Station rail hub, only to be told basically to "screw off" by state leaders whose big eyes were on the "Core to Shore" investment futures. Losing those rail hub connections is a billion-dollar loss to Oklahoma, preventable simply by routing the new I-40 a quarter-mile south. The inclusion in MAPS 3 of a new "transit hub" is a stupid expense to partially replace rails they decided to pave.

Building another convention center, as planned in MAPS 3, is just more taxes on working families to benefit Oklahoma City's happy, rich people. Fact is, all the improvements for the Thunder basketball team in the previous MAPS projects could have been paid for by the team owners, even after they lost a couple billion dollars in the crash.

I'll vote "no" on MAPS 3 because I care too deeply for the welfare and future of Oklahoma City's "bottom 80 percent." Maybe those at the top will get the message.

 "Nathaniel Batchelder, Oklahoma City

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