Peaceful people just east of Oklahoma City, OK are in a David and Goliath style battle with a strong- armed state government. The threat of possibly losing their homes and having to uproot and move is frightening as the abuse of eminent domain is once again at the end of the tongues of these elected officials, this time as in any other instance it comes down to money.
Greed and the dollar signs are just to tempting, so the constituents get the shaft. The temporarily idle bulldozers, earth excavators and other land clearing machinery are being prepared to be called upon to barrel through the once rural towns Eastern Oklahoma County (EOC). Without any votes, and very vague and deceitful reasoning as to why the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority (OTA) wants to permanently destroy the livelihoods of these fellow citizens. This area was a target for the same type of injustice back in 1999 but the outcry from the people succeeded in shutting it down. The proponents blamed the failure on the citizens who actually received prior knowledge and had adequate time to amass, stand up, refuse, resist, and repel the unwanted thoroughfare.
Recently there have been consistent rallies from the people who oppose this monstrosity of government overreach, this time its being rushed and jammed down the throats of the people in its path. Even the local news affiliates are obviously in on it by fiddling with the accurate numbers of citizens who are showing up to protest. Aaron Brilbeck from Oklahoma’s Own channel 9 reported that only a few dozen protested at the Capitol on Wednesday when videos show approximately 200.
Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4. The “Stop the Turnpike” rally in Oklahoma City last Wednesday was a bold step in the right direction. A loud voice to say to everyone who supports this turnpike seems to have problems with the truth, and with folks speaking up and articulating the Facts. They are still waiting on them, because they are non-existent. Instead of producing the valid truth they turn to the easy and predicted name calling while slinging personal threats and attacks. So far the protesters are asking this: Show them one substantiated, verified, and existing study detailing these three key points:
If they can successfully answer these questions with fact based documents, then they will be more eager to sit down and engage in possible compromises. As of now their properties are safe out there in East Oklahoma County (EOC). Not one on the pro-turnpike side, has been able to debate them with true facts. They are trying not to get bogged down with discussing a difference of opinion, the goal is to obtain the facts from both sides. If the opposition fails to figure out that the truth has not been on their side, that is not the responsibility for the resistance to continue to inform a group that’s set in their ways. If the pro-turnpike folks try to manipulate, circumvent, and misrepresent the facts, then that is going to be a civilian battle till the end.
Stoptheloop.org posted: “Why should residents of Harrah, Newalla, Choctaw, Luther and Jones pay the price for your lies, Fallin’s failed economics, and basic greed? I’ll tell you with no shame……we don’t intend to. I know the concept is foreign to you and that you will not understand, but We are not motivated by money and our land is NOT for sale!” It’s apparent that an evil underhanded corruption is going on behind the scenes, the double and triple dip in the tax requirements to pay for these high dollar asphalt cut-outs is outrageous. Bleeding the people for more money to travel on these cement arteries that they’ve already paid for with their hard earned income is an additional theft that is stacked on the current 4.5% that is garnished by the state from their paychecks.
Back in January, a wonderful heart-felt speech was given by Amber Polach. – “Good morning, my name is Amber Polach and I am one of the many citizens AGAINST the proposed Eastern Oklahoma County turnpike. This has been our first opportunity to engage OTA in a conversation. Information regarding this project has NOT been satisfactory to the impacted citizens of EOC. Let me share with you a bit about the citizens of EOC. We are diverse communities with a focus on being good stewards of our land. I am an example of a multi-generational family who farms our homestead and cherishes the legacy of our ancestors. My family seeks to share this legacy with our next generation. The majority of the citizens living in EOC selected their communities due to its rural environment. For the most part, it is zoned rural as this has been the vision of those who choose to live there. Our communities are interconnected through our local schools, commerce, places of worship and our support infrastructure. The neighbors you see here today represent multiple communities united AGAINST the proposed turnpike.”
How is it that Oklahoma with its population of 4 million has MORE THAN DOUBLE the number of turnpikes than in California whose population is reported at 38.8 million. OK is 42% smaller than the land mass of CA. There are many states that are able to manage WITHOUT a single toll road. The turnpikes are in debt. What is the current plan of payment for the debt? Is it to increase tolls and plan more roads to sell bonds to perpetuate the debt? Perpetual debt is NOT a good business model.
If the data supports a need for a north/south route, what studies have been conducted to review the UTILIZATION of Hwy 177? Is this route not under consideration as a result of it not being located in EOC? If so, shame on our representatives for not attempting to collaborate with another county and working to find a better financial solution. Where can we find the study to support the north/south route?
Many of our residents have small businesses whose income is generated or supplemented by their land; examples include: farms, vineyards, auto repair shops, and a much-loved equine rescue. The suggested turnpike will have an extremely negative effect on impacted lands.
In addition to the disruptions to small businesses there are a multitude of issues related to noise, air, and water pollution that will directly impact the surrounding areas. The town of Harrah has multiple DEQ findings related to contaminated water. How will this issue be addressed when the turnpike will only exacerbate the issue? What about our already stressed emergency services the turnpike dividing the city services will certainly stretch their already strained resources to respond to emergency situations. How will OTA address these issues to ensure the health and safety of residents?
We have many concerns regarding this project. First, communication has not been robust. The placement of the “x’s” on designated roads and private land has caused anxiety as explanations to the communities have not been adequately provided. To date, OTA’s plan to hire a PR firm has not bridged the huge communication gap. An example of this – was having surveyors flying over properties photographing the terrain. This is extremely poor program management by OTA in not getting the message out to the communities.
The Luther Register News reported a quote from Neil McCaleb on 14 January regarding the petition. Mr. McCaleb is credited as saying, “A lot of them (signers) are out of state. But, it gets our attention and I understand some of them are coming to our Authority meeting on 26 January.” It is ironic that Mr. McCaleb is highlighting petitioners that are not in the state as the funding for this project will come from many resources that are OUTSIDE of Oklahoma. Bonds to facilitate this project have the possibility of being funded globally. Will Mr. McCaleb refrain from accepting funding resources outside of our state?!
There is also concern about the funding of this project. According to OTA’s Comprehensive Report year ending 31 December 2014, turnpike bond sales must be approved by the Council of Bond Oversight and must comply with all rules and regulations of the U.S. Treasury Department and the U.S. Security Exchange Commission. To date, we understand that this action has not taken place and the schedule is not known. This is very concerning when according to today’s agenda you are already in the negotiating phase regarding construction contracts. What exactly is the financial plan?
The taking of our land for the use of building a turnpike is devastating to the home owner. Visions and dreams for the future will not exist as their homes will be scarred with a turnpike running right through it or VERY close to it. Eminent domain is very unsettling and the process is not well articulated on your site. Regardless of the number, you will destroy homes, dreams and futures. You will propose compensation for something that is simply NOT for sale.
The “x” survey marks are a catalyst of uncertainty. People have stopped their business plans of expanding their crops or planting and building additional infrastructures for fear their land will be targeted without proper compensation. This is not why people have moved to EOC. In addition, you have sprung this plan on the people WITHOUT hearing their voices. This is unacceptable!
In addition to the questions that I have already mentioned, I have also included a list of questions that have been asked by residents. This list is not inclusive and we urge the Board to meet with us to provide more information. The Board needs to answer the following questions and place the responses on the OTA web-site. Copies of the questions will also be provided.
1. Why weren’t any public hearings held regarding the proposal of an EOC loop before the Governor and the OTA made the decision?
b. We understand meetings were held with the EOC Partnership, but this entity does not represent the whole of Eastern Oklahoma County and the funding of turnpikes should not be for economic purposes, which are what the EOC Partnership represents.
c. What is the upcoming schedule for EOC briefings by OTA?
2. What is the number of homes and businesses that you anticipate displacing?
3. Why are we not using existing north/south routes (highway 177)? Do we really need to waste 300 million dollars building a redundant road?
4. How did the OTA decide on the range of construction to be between Luther and Triple x Road as the focus for the study area?
5. What east-west roads will be permanently closed as a result of the turnpike or will you be building overpasses over each cross-road?
6. Where will access points be located?
7. What is the data that indicates that a turnpike is going to benefit the targeted area economically?
a. If you look at towns (i.e., Stoud) along I-44 I would say they could make an argument against the focus on economic growth promised with this project.
b. The promise of general economic growth sounds very similar to the promises of Wal-Mart to the citizens of Luther some time ago – now less than 8 months later we have a large VACANT building.
8. Based on the survey information you have received thus far, have you narrowed the study area any further (since the announcement on the week of 11 January)?
9. What is the timeline for the proposed construction project?
10. How long will citizens have to move once they are notified that their property will be confiscated or subject to eminent domain?
11. How will people living in modular homes be able to transport their homes, if their land is impacted?
12. Do you have plans to support citizens whose properties will not be bought, but will be affected based on the proximity of the turnpike?
13. Do you have a plan to compensate farmers who are renting/leasing land?
14. In the desire for the promised rapid economic growth, is there a plan to address the inevitable NEGATIVE effects on the community?
a. Increase in the income inequality
b. Increase in demand for city services
c. Increase in noise, air, and water pollution
d. Loss of small business in favor of large corporations
15. Are any federal security improvement funds being used to fund these projects?
16. We have noticed a potential conflict of interest with the current interim executive director of OTA and an EOC home developer and real estate agent. Has the board reviewed this potential conflict of interest? These are just a sample of the MANY questions the residents of EOC have regarding the project that OTA officials have described as “minimally invasive”. }
An American Indian sculpture rests in front of the Oklahoma State Capital, this historical tribute to the Native Americans references their plight during their displacement. The strong irony for the modern day fight to prevent their homes and lands from being seized by the tyrannical hands of the State. It clearly displays the true hypocrisy that is the ever-growing black cloud of government.
Eddie McGee from the Citizens Opposed to the Eastern Oklahoma Turnpike said: “The title of the sculpture is based on a promise that administrators for President Andrew Jackson made to Native Americans. They said the Native Americans would own their land “as long as the grass grows and the rivers run.” This hollow promise ended up not being fulfilled. Today, just as then, a corrupt state government is attempting a land grab for selfish purposes under the false banner of “progress”. Let’s keep the grass growing and the rivers running as we battle the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority and the crooked politicians that enable them.”
Click here for Online petition. Visit stoptheloop.org
By Andre’ Gabriel Esparza – DontComply.com
A Pro Liberty, Pro Freedom, Human Rights Activist, very involved in a wide variety of Activism and Exposing the Truth at all costs.
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Oklahoma doesn’t need any more highways. They can’t even take care of the ones they already have and what repairs or modifications they make, don’t last more than 5 years.
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