The Norman Transcript

October 10, 2013

Spokesperson is misleading residents


The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Editor, The Transcript:

The spokesperson for the so-called “Citizens for Financially Responsible Government” is wrong.

On Sept. 26, The Transcript published a letter from Roger Gallagher regarding the Lindsey Street project. I know Roger. I like Roger. It is surprising to me that the following statements in his letter are not correct.

1. Roger said there was “... a contract ... presented to ... citizens of Norman in the form of a vote. The citizens read and accepted this contract by voting for those items in the ballot language and detailed in the engineering design.”

First, the ballot language contained no specific design for Lindsey Street. Second, the ballot included the following language: “The costs of the projects are based on engineering estimates, with engineering to be completed as the bonds are issued ...”

Finally, and most important, approval of that bond issue did not create any kind of final Lindsey Street design “contract.”

2. Roger said, “Oklahoma law also stipulates that consent for contractual changes must be free and mutual and acceptance must be absolute and unqualified. Written contracts are regarded by law to exceed all oral negotiations.”

First, when you stop and remember that 9,294 Norman citizens voted in that elections and 3,630 of them voted “no,” you can see how absurd it is to say that any change to what was voted on, no matter how minor, must be approved by all 9,394 who voted — or is it only the 5,764 people who voted “yes” who must all consent?

Second, many people who voted “yes,” like me, do not agree with Roger that the city council would, or should, have to ask thousands of voters if they could make any changes to any of the eight projects that were authorized by the ballot language.

3. Roger said “... any changes to this contract, without Norman citizens consent, would be in violation of Oklahoma state law.”

First, Roger cannot cite any Oklahoma state law to support his claim because no such law exists.

Second, repeating what is said in No. 2 above, it is obvious that claiming 9,394 (or even 5,764) individuals would have to consent before any change could be made to a contract between the city and an engineering company is ludicrous. Bear in mind that an engineering contract was not created by approval of the ballot language.

4. Roger said it is the opinion of the Citizens for Responsible Government Organization that “... these aspects of Oklahoma contract law have a direct bearing on our support of the original Lindsey Street plan.”

Roger was on the city council in 2012 when the ballot language was unanimously approved and sent to the voters. He cannot produce any “original Lindsey Street plan” with a final design for Lindsey that was sent by the city council to the Election Board because that did not happen.

5. Roger said, “Council members should not put voters trust in jeopardy by making changes to the original contract.” As shown above, no such original contract exists.

6. Roger said that Thomas Jefferson stated, “... without ethics, morality and religion, we will not last.”

First, Jefferson was so well educated, he assumed everyone would know that the requirement for truth is implicit in ethics, morality and religion.

Second, shouldn’t anyone claiming to be a “Citizen for Financially Responsible Government” be expected to be responsible in making public claims that a city council may breach a contract that does not even exist?

In closing, as has been said many times, an individual is entitled to his/her own opinion but is not entitled to his/her own facts.

I learned the hard way that, when participating in a debate where I am promoting and advocating my opinion, I better have my facts correct if I hope to have other folks agree with me.

HAROLD L. HEIPLE

Norman