OKLAHOMA CITY – A former Oklahoma City councilmember has filed an injuction against the City of Oklahoma City, expressing concerns about the upcoming MAPS 4 vote.
Last month, city leaders announced that 16 projects that were presented before the Oklahoma City Council earlier this year would be included in MAPS 4 package that was presented to city councilmembers.
In all, the MAPS 4 projects would cost $978 million over eight years as part of an ongoing sales tax.
During the city council meeting, many of the councilmembers said that although they may not like all of the projects on the list, they were pleased overall with the package.
Before Oklahoma City councilmembers could vote on the proposal, former Oklahoma City councilman Ed Shadid said that he doesn’t believe the council is working in good faith of the public.
“As [Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt] knows, and as many of you know, absent substantive changes in this ordinance, I will file an injunction in district court to challenge the constitutionality of this ordinance and the actions of the mayor and the council, which I think in a very sad, cynical, dishonest way are working to circumvent the single-subject rule of the Oklahoma constitution,” Shadid said.
Shadid said that the language of MAPS 4 is very different from MAPS projects in the past.
He says most of the voters in the city want to vote on projects separately, and the Supreme Court argues that voters shouldn’t have to have an unpalatable ‘all or nothing choice.’
“You’re telling the domestic violence victim, ‘You can have your family justice center, but you’re going to have to vote to tax yourself for a multipurpose stadium in order to get it.’ I think you know me personally. I think you know that some of those things are deeply personal to me; mental health, addiction facilities, things at the core of my being that I want so bad. But you’re going to tell me that in order to get that, I have to vote to tax myself to give potentially $10 million to a privately-owned, practice facility for the richest people in Oklahoma? That’s my choice. It is so far beyond an unpalatable choice, it makes me nauseous.”
According to court documents filed on Wednesday, Shadid says that the ordinance “does not fall under the general revenue exception,” adding that it “fails the single-subject requirement” and is therefore unconstitutional.
In the documents, Shadid argues that since all of the presentations that went before the city council were eventually selected for funding, “it is reasonable to conclude that those selected to give presentations were long before tabbed to receive MAPS 4 funds. That conclusion is buttressed by Mayor David Holt’s later comments indicating that it was always his intent to pit voters against one another in order to see MAPS 4 passed and to achieve what he called a ‘win-win,’ but was what this court has called ‘logrolling.'”
He says that the Oklahoma Supreme Court has repeatedly held that forcing citizens to make such ‘unpalatable all or nothing choices’ is prohibited by the ‘single-subject rule.’
“MAPS 4 does exactly what Article V 57 of the Oklahoma Constitution prohibits. In order to ensure that the voters will approve MAPS 4, the City is saying to battered women that they may receive the help they desperately need, but only if they vote for a soccer stadium. It has said to the disabled that they may have sidewalks, but only if they will pay for NBA facilities. It has offered funding for mental health and substance abuse but only if those affected by such maladies will pay also for an ‘Innovation District.’ The Mayor admitted this is exactly what MAPS 4 was engineered to do, and this is exactly what the Constitution prohibits,” the injunction reads.
Shadid argues that citizens should have the right to vote on specific projects individually. He also argues that the language of the ballot question does not mention funding for the projects.
“Rather than staying in the General fund, the City has promised the revenue will go to a Trust created to administer and disburse funds for the MAPS 4 projects. Except, the Resolution is only one of ‘Intent,’ and not binding, so the funds are not legally required to be deposited in the Trust- the Mayor and City Council, neither those currently sitting who passed the Resolution nor those in the future, are not bound by their Resolution,” the injunction reads.
Shadid says that since the ballot language doesn’t mention funding the projects, the money raised from the tax could be used to simply fund the general fund.
News 4 reached out to the city, but officials with the City of Oklahoma City said they were not able to respond at this time.
However, they did reference a city council meeting where Shadid’s argument was discussed.
During the meeting, Ward 6 councilwoman JoBeth Hamon asked about the legal argument of a one-question ballot.
“I’m not going to speak to the potential litigation positions that we might take, but I will tell you that this mechanism that the mayor just explained is completely defensible. It would not be a violation of state law,” said Amanda Carpenter, deputy municipal counselor.