It didn't take long for arguments to flare up within the Oklahoma City Council over the recent MAPS 3 initiative. At its Jan. 5 meeting, just a month after passage of MAPS 3 by city voters, council members starting quibbling over a little ol' thing like a promise.
Councilman Pete White wanted to know why city staff was recommending hiring 30 firefighters and police officers when the council is also considering budget cuts, which could lead to layoffs in other departments.
Mayor Mick Cornett, the lead cheerleader of MAPS 3 along with the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce, answered that that was a promise made to police and fire.
"The council never made that promise," White shot back. "The campaign made that promise. Let the campaign pay for it."
The promise everyone is going on about is this: If the police and fire unions reached a new contract with the city before the MAPS 3 vote, the city would implement a companion use tax to pay for additional fire and police hires. But no deal was reached, if you'll recall, and the unions became a vocal opponent of the initiative. And that's what can happen if you don't seal a promise with either a pinkie swear or a ring.
"We offered to do that in an effort to resolve a problem," White said. "They rejected that offer. That's like having a dysfunctional family and your child says, 'I want a car,' and they come home and go crazy and then you buy them a car. I mean that isn't how it works. That's not how it works. That's not how life works. That's not how finance works.
"I personally don't feel like I've made a commitment as a council member to do that, and I certainly don't think I made a commitment to do that to the extent it's going to impact next fiscal year's budget."
Councilman Brian Walters came to the mayor's aid, reiterating to White that a promise was indeed made. But White snapped back, informing Walters he was not in a good position to comment on the matter.
"You are not one to be telling me what the voters thought," White said. "You were on the wrong side of that in the first place."
Walters joined with the unions in opposition to MAPS 3, and was the only council member to do so. While it would be in the best interests of everyone for the council to just get along, isn't it more fun when they squabble?