Oklahoma City’s mayor says MAPS panel does not need veto power

BY BRYAN DEAN Modified: December 13, 2009 at 9:43 am •  Published: December 13, 2009
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Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett and several members of the city council said they have no interest in giving the MAPS 3 citizens oversight board veto power over their spending decisions.

Former Mayor Kirk Humphreys, who dealt with both the MAPS and MAPS for Kids oversight boards, said Cornett’s plan to make the board an advisory panel with no real power over spending decisions is a mistake.

Now that voters have approved the MAPS 3 plan, the city’s next step is to assemble the citizen’s oversight board to help with crucial decisions such as which projects are built first and exactly where they will be located.

The Oklahoma City Council will decide what the oversight board will look like. Cornett said he’d like the board in place in the first half of 2010.

Humphreys said three things are needed to make such a group work.

"It needs to be knowledgeable enough to do the work,” he said. "It needs to be diverse enough to represent the community, and it needs to be empowered enough to make a difference.”

The original MAPS oversight board made recommendations to the council but had no power to make decisions.

The MAPS for Kids Trust, however, must approve all projects before any money can be spent.

"The critical difference was: They could say no,” Humphreys said. "Is it really oversight or is it just window dressing? If it’s really oversight, give them the right to say no.”

Ward 4 Councilman Pete White said council members are elected to make decisions on how taxpayer money is spent. Cornett agrees.

"You need the elected officials to be in charge of the money that goes in and out,” Cornett said. Ongoing coverage: MAPS 3



Oversight board applicants sought

Oklahoma City is accepting resumes by e-mail from people interested in serving on the MAPS 3 oversight board. Those interested should send their information to maps3@okc.gov, including no more than two pages. Ultimately, the city council will decide how many members will be on the trust and who will be appointed.

Mayor Mick Cornett said he expects the board will include no more than nine members, with appointments coming from each of the city’s wards. Cornett said he is looking for two main qualities from board members.

"We are looking for people with time on their hands who are willing to get involved,” Cornett said. "You also want people who are enthused about the projects and the future of the city.”

Ward 5 Councilman Brian Walters, who opposed MAPS 3, said he hopes members are selected who have a critical eye and aren’t part of the "usual suspects,” including major business leaders who have served on such committees before.

Former Mayor Kirk Humphreys, who helped put together the MAPS for Kids Trust, said there is nothing wrong with leaning on people who are active in the community, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of good candidates who may have never served on a city board or committee before.

"I don’t buy that we need some normal people who don’t bring something to the party,” Humphreys said. "We need normal people who do bring something to the party. There are lots of people that are very knowledgeable who don’t have any conflicts. You need people who are going to be strong enough to ask the tough questions.”

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