Attention Jan, Rob, Chad, Casey and Blair … if you’re interested in subbing again, let me know. I thought I could keep up with this latest batch of days off. I was terribly wrong.
Now, that having been said … what’s with the conspiracy against downtown today? Travel south on Broadway Extension and you’ll hit 30 minutes of delays caused by poor warning of the highway narrowing to one lane and then almost no notice of the NW 23 exit being closed. So after going through this traffic nightmare for 30 minutes, if you’re wanting to head to a place like Cuppies and Joe, you have to get off at 10th street. But if you think you’re going to take a left westbound from Broadway, think again. While ODOT has made a mess on Broadway Extension, OKC is once again redoing Broadway and NW 23 and prohibiting a left turn there.
This, my friends, is poor timing. I could also point out the Broadway and NW 23 job involves a contractor that some say is too successful at submitting the “low bid.” Does the lowest bid also equal best quality? I’ll leave that judgment to others.
After seeing repeated references to the planned downtown boulevard couched with the word “if” when describing its construction, I contacted Oklahoma Department of Transportation spokeswoman Terri Angier to see if they see it as an “if” as well. After all, it was former Secretary of Transportation Neal McCalebl who promised the boulevard as part of the I-40 relocation and at the time was no “if” about it.
I’ll let you the readers decide if there is an “if” in this answer from Angier:
The reference about the boulevard was not in the statement from ODOT so you’ll have to ask AP about that part. However, we are still committed to building the boulevard and have always included the cost in out estimates.The boulevard was included as part of the official environmental documents.
As is with all ODOT projects, they are evaluated for placement in the 8-year plan each year when the plan is balanced. While the boulevard is not in the 8-year plan at this point because there is still several years of Crosstown construction remaining, the plans are to place it in there as we approach 2012. Until then it can’t be touched since it is being used as our current interstate.
We are in frequent communication with the City on this issue and as we develop plans together on the boulevard the next few years, more details including the actual and not the rough costs can be refined. The City is looking at their options on how they want to see the boulevard and all of that will come into play in planning for the boulevard. I hope that answers your question.
I’ve been accused of just throwing tough questions at one person and one group. Well, let’s go ahead and spread the fun!
- To the State Fair Board: you want approximately $78 million for a new exhibition hall. Yet you have a permanent hotel/motel tax and while you’ve bonded against revenues for several years, why can’t you just build the exhibition hall as part of a next generation bond issue? Can’t the state fair board follow the example of the zoo, implementing improvements as the revenues continue to come in year after year?
- To the Core to Shore advocates: what if the citizenry doesn’t want Core to Shore? Has there been any poll on how much support this area actually enjoys? Are there private developers and private property owners who stand to benefit from all this in a fashion similar to those who benefitted from the Bricktown Canal? Will these owners be identified?
- To convention center advocates: Why were the only experts called in to speak at the Mayors Development Roundtable those who have a history of supporting such development? There are other experts who say convention centers are a bad investment – shouldn’t their opinions have been solicitied as well?
- Will there be a public forum to allow community imput as to what will be on a MAPS 3 ballot, or will it be decided behind the scenes?
OK, this list ought to win me all sorts of friends today.
The spam filter situation for this site has improved, but I’m still seeing some spams slip through and some legitimate comments getting snagged in the filter.
Got this email today:
A new Spam filter was added to all of the blogs today. This along with the comment validation funtion known as reCAPTCHA should take care of almost all of the spam comments. Please keep and eye on your blog comments for the next few days and let me know if you are getting large amounts of spam comments. Nick Tankersley Web Editor
I can’t remember exactly what year it was when Oklahoma City came very, very, very close to losing the American Indian Cultural Center to Edmond. This is a story that might offend someone I’ve known for a long time – someone I like – Pat Downes. But truth be told, and I think he knows this, he was off his game when he led the pitch for the Oklahoma River to become home to the future museum. Edmond, meanwhile, did a razzle-dazzle that almost sealed the deal then and there.
Then Mayor Kirk Humphreys got reports of the presentations and immediately went to work making the deal his own personal mission to revive Oklahoma City’s chances. And sure enough, Oklahoma City ultimately prevailed.
I don’t know Rick Cain, director of COTPA and MetroTransit, to be anything but a good man. But he’s no Mike Knopp. And as Blair Humphreys noted on his blog www.imaginativeamerica.com, Knopp, who will someday be honored with a statue of him along the river for his accomplishments, did far better pitching his vision for how the waterway might fit into a MAPS 3 ballot than did Cain according to multiple sources who were in attendance at the recent Greater Oklahoma City Chamber retreat.
Now, does this translate into transit being left off the ballot? I don’t think so. But it might have a tougher road ahead according to some I’ve talked to. Observers say the case for transit was greatly weakened when Burns Hargis reduced his civic involvement locally to take the reins as president at Oklahoma State University. Burns Hargis was a big time transit advocate, was well liked and influential, and happened to be past chairman of the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber.
So who is to take up this cause? Mayor Mick Cornett, when pressed, says transit will be a part of any MAPS 3. He’s not saying to what degree, however, and if one is to gauge interest by the amount of time spent talking about different topics and the experts invited to speak at the recent Mayors Development Roundtable, the mayor appears to be far more interested in a new convention center and Core to Shore.
So is there reason for transit advocates to feel insecure about their issue getting its due as part of any upcoming ballot? Maybe. But who is to lead this charge? And will they make a better presentation than Rick Cain? And are they willing to be transparent as they solicit money from the public to advance their cause? And do they really have the backing of Mayor Mick Cornett?
That’s the motivation behind my series of questions to Jeff Bezdek, someone who has enjoyed years of positive coverage from me. This is the first time I’ve asked him what are being perceived as tough questions, and in response I’ve been accused of dropping my journalistic standards, muckraking, persecuiting Jeff and being anti-transit.
How odd. Maybe it is all about the presentation; I started off by displaying Mick Cornett’s appearance on Jeff’s website and reporting it wasn’t an endorsement. I made this post after fielding questions about this matter from readers. As Jeff and his supporters got upset over it, accusing me of not doing “due dilligence,” I proceeded to ask questions that haven’t been asked to date – who are the board members, is the group a registered non-profit, and what is Jeff’s background.
This isn’t the first time I’ve angered folks with questions. It won’t be the last.
I talked to Mayor Mick Cornett today, and despite the display of his photo and a quote on a website formed by some downtown residents to promote public transit, he was not involved in the project and is not endorsing the group or its campaign. He added he is “pro-transit” and decided against asking that his photo be removed saying “I didn’t want to make a big deal out of it” (the use of his photo).
Three months, 12 shows. That’s how long this experiment has gone. No, I’m not a TV guy, but I hope what I’ve assembled to date has been informative and entertaining. All of the videos can be found in the right column of this site.
Here’s a round-up of the shows to date:
Episode 1: Jim Cowan discusses upcoming Big 12 basketball tournament, Pictopia: the Criterion Theater.
Episode 2: Brett and Brent Brewer discuss their father Jim’s legacy, Pictopia: Baum Building
Episode 3: The Tulsans are coming with Becky Frank, Pictopia: Galleria
Episode 4: Wilma Ford invites us into her new downtown home, Pictopia: Skyscraper race.
Episode 5: Chuck Ainsworth at the Candy Factory, Pictopia: Festival of the Arts.
Episode 6: A.J. Kirkpatrick and ULI, Pictopia: Ford Center.
Episode 7: Steve Mason and Automobile Alley, Pictopia: Huckins Hotel.
Episode 8: Keith Paul and urban eateries, Pictopia: Myriad Gardens.
Episode 9: Rand Elliott discusses his work, Pictopia: Best of Mix.
Episode 10: Jim Cowan addresses questions about retail in Bricktown, Pictopia: Biltmore Hotel.
Episode 11: Chad Huntington discusses challenges and opportunities he faces as a Bricktown retailer, Pictopia: Skirvin Hotel.
Episode 12: Kim Searls discusses loss of farmer’s market, Pictopia: Kerr’s Department Store
Blair Humphreys at www.imaginativeamerica.com pulls the curtain on the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber’s recent retreat and discussions of a potential MAPS 3 ballot. What he reports matches accounts I’ve received from multiple sources who have asked not to have their names revealed:
Rick Caine, Director of the Central Oklahoma Transit and Parking Authority (COTPA), gave a presentation of COTPA’s MAPS 3 proposal at the meeting. A presentation that apparently failed to inspire the business leaders in attendance. In contrast, Mike Knopp, the “driving force behind the development of rowing” on the Oklahoma River, dazzled the audience with a presentation of ideas for redeveloping the river.
So river plan in, public-transit out.
I’d like to thank my good friend Doug Loudenback who discovered this photo and posted it on his excellent history blog, www.dougdawg.blogspot.com.