Saturday, May 11, 2019

Muskogee Election: Councilman Coleman supports sales-tax renewal

Earlier today, I posted a perspective in opposition to Tuesday's sales tax renewal vote in Muskogee. You can view that here. The following is a commentary from a Muskogee resident who supports the two propositions that will be on the ballot.


VOTE YES ON MAY 14 FOR IMPROVED STREETS AND A BETTER QUALITY OF LIFE...

The NAACP has been a stalwart champion for the equitable and fair treatment of people since 1909 with local branch chapters across the United States. Nationally the organization has been right on several civil rights issues, but our local branch has been factually inaccurate on the upcoming vote for the Muskogee Capital Improvement Plan (CIP).

First and foremost, the CIP is NOT a tax increase! It is the continuation of an OLD tax to do NEW things. The original CIP was never intended to address street repairs, but it accomplished so many positive things for our community. The CIP built a new $4.5 million Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center that exceeded its projected usage in its first year. The original CIP also provided the funds to upgrade the Coody Creek sewerage and drainage system, which was mandated by the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality. Firefighters received necessary breathing apparatuses, the Police Department received a desperately needed renovation, and many other critical needs of the city were met.

Renewing the CIP accomplishes so much more for the residents of Muskogee. For the first time ever the City of Muskogee will be able to dedicate large scale funding towards 100 miles of residential street repairs in-part because of a dollar-for-dollar match from the City of Muskogee Foundation. All Muskogee residential streets are graded by a residential streets index, and to be fair, all streets graded 60 or below will be scheduled for repairs. Contrary to the belief that somehow some residents will be deliberately subjugated by the street repairs, all lower graded streets, regardless of their location and indifferent to demographics will be scheduled for repair. While the last CIP was NOT designed to address street repair, the renewed CIP will.

It also will construct new parking lots for the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center. As one of the crowned jewels of the previous CIP, the center is over-performing and exceeding its original design expectations and addressing additional parking is essential to its continued success. It’s no coincidence this center is geographically located on the west-side of town, contradictory to the point that CIP funds are not being invested in areas considered by some to be disenfranchised.

The Muskogee Police Department has been incredibly transparent with regards to incidents between its officers and residents. While the national debate about police use of force against people of color wages on, our police department has been cooperative and transparent on this issue because of its use of police body cameras. The renewed CIP further invests in the technology needed to compliment police body cameras making our police department a leader in community policing and engagement. Funds are also dedicated to address the technology and equipment needs of the Muskogee Fire Department who has an aggressive diversity recruitment plan in place to hire more women and people of color.

From water park improvements, to walking trail maintenance, to economic development investment at the Port of Muskogee that can create new job opportunities, renewing this CIP is the right thing to do. Let us not fall victim to the diatribe of a modality of deceit designed to create division among the electorate. We are bigger than East versus West and a unified Muskogee is a stronger Muskogee. There are issues of disparity that exist in our city as well as in every city in America, but let us address them based on truth and fact and not from a platform of fear and conspiracy. For a better Muskogee please vote yes for propositions 1 & 2 on Tuesday, May 14.

Marlon J. Coleman
City Councilman, Ward IV, City of Muskogee

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