Teacher Walkout Day 2

Oklahoma teachers and their supporters fill the rotunda at the Capitol building and chant at lawmakers as they conduct their morning session, Tuesday, April 3, 2018, during the second day of the teacher walkout in Oklahoma. (Kyle Phillips / The Transcript)

1) Rep. Mark McBride found a tracker on his truck:

State Rep. Mark McBride has filed a lawsuit and OSBI is investigating after the legislator found a tracking device on his truck.

McBride, the Republican representative for District 53 that includes most of Moore, contacted Moore Police Department about the device and now the state authorities have taken up the case. The suit was filed in Oklahoma County in December.

Along with the suit, McBride through his attorney has subpoenaed the maker of the tracking device, US Fleet Tracking, LLC, to obtain information about the individual who purchased it.

OSBI confirmed on Tuesday that it was investigating an incident in which a state legislator was threatened. The department will not comment on individual cases under investigation.

It was discovered that the source of the tracking devices was a Texas political consultant, George C. Shipley, who has ties to those in the wind energy industry.

While on the phone with someone who knew McBride had been informed he was being tracked, that person suggested, somewhat as a joke, that McBride should check his truck. One night around Dec. 4, just for kicks, he took a flashlight out and had a look.

There, on the underside of the bed of his pickup truck, he found a small black box.

“That’s when I notified the authorities and filed a report,” McBride said. “It’s pretty obvious that it’s a tracking device. It’s got a magnet on the back of it, and it was attached to the bed of my pickup. I popped it open and this deal comes out and there’s this light blinking off and on.”

The case has also been passed along to the Oklahoma County district attorney for possible criminal charges. McBride said as a state legislator, there’s always the chance someone has a vendetta or a bone to pick.

Normally it doesn’t escalate into anything serious. This, for him, is a totally new experience.

“When you’re up here at the Capitol, there’s always someone following you or someone who disagrees with you. That’s always going around the rumor mill,” McBride said. “But not to this extent, I never really thought, why would you follow anyone if it’s not a criminal deal or a family issue?

“In the case of a divorce, or maybe children you want to follow. There are things out there that should be OK, but to follow a legislator, that’s a whole other story.”

2) Louie Williams appointed to Ward 3

Moore City Council welcomed its newest member, Louie Williams, to his new Ward 3 seat in February.

Williams replaced Terry Cavnar, who stepped down at the end of 2017. His appointment was made official during Tuesday’s meeting, when Judge Blaine Nice conducted the swearing in ceremony.

“I’ve been involved with the city at several different commissions and boards since 1993, so 24 years I’ve been serving on planning commissions, traffic commission, boards of adjustment, all kinds of different stuff,” Williams said. “It’s something I enjoy, giving back to the community.”

Williams was raised in Moore since his family moved here in 1962. He has mostly spent time on the fringes of citizen government on boards and commissions.

3) Storm Walk offers shelter: Though the response to the 2013 tornado in Moore has brought the community back from destruction, there remains some residents who slipped through the cracks.

Maybe part of their house just isn’t quite right, or maybe they didn’t get in on the assistance funding for a storm shelter to bring peace of mind. That’s where the first Moore Storm Walk stepped in on April 14.

Steve Shawn, the president of Moore Crime Stoppers and president of Silver Star Construction, said a community group came up with the idea. Money raised will go toward those still in need following any of Moore’s severe storms and tornadoes.

“It’s the first time it’s been done,” Shawn said. “We were trying to think of things we can do to help the community. [Participants] get to meet and do something for the betterment of the community. We hope it’s just a good time for everyone.”

The Storm Walk was a 1.4 mile trek in and around Central Park. Participants walked or ran the course.

The National Weather Service, Oklahoma City Energy FC, and other vendors set up booths at the event, as well. The first event helped at least three people impacted by severe weather.

4) Teacher walkout: Teachers from across the state converged on the Oklahoma State Capitol in April for a teacher walkout that attracted national attention.

Moore teachers took part, leading to schools closing for the better part of the week of April 9. Classes in Moore resumed on April 12; however, hundreds of teachers continued to march on the capitol, and many protested the district’s decision a day earlier to resume class.

At an impromptu town hall meeting about the decision on April 11, teachers told Superintendent Robert Romines they felt blindsided by the district’s decision, saying they had not been consulted, unlike previous instances. The district had been sending out a survey for teachers to determine whether or not the district should close down another day for the walkout.

On this occasion, the survey was not sent out. Romines said it was because he had been told OEA representatives were orchestrating an “exit strategy” with lawmakers and agreeing some final pieces of legislation that would fund public schools.

“I’ve heard that OEA is working on an exit strategy to get us back in the classroom,” he told the crowd. “If I’m wrong, correct me please.”

Carnie Cullen, OEA member representing Moore, said to her knowledge, nothing has changed.

“As far as we know, there is no deal,” Cullen said. “So at this point, we are staying the course.”

Romines also said he had been told that the survey results lately had been “skewed” by people voting twice. Because of this, his trust in those results eroded.

5) Moore bonds: Moore residents passed two of five bond propositions put to them during the June primary election. It paved the way for an underpass on 4th Street to be constructed, as well as work on the drainage system.

The underpass bond comes at a cost of just over $43 million, but once complete, it will mean traffic can pass through unencumbered by the train. The drainage channel repair will cost about $3 million.

Voters rejected bonds for quiet zones, street sweepers and a new phone system for city offices.

6) 34th Street bridge construction begins: Construction work is underway on a 34th Street bridge that Moore voters approved in a 2014 bond.

It is expected to be complete in late summer or fall of 2019. In the meantime, construction will continue to impact traffic on Interstate 35 and the service roads.

However, after re-considering the plan, the Oklahoma Department of Transportation announced that all lanes of I-35 will remain open. Initially, the two inside left lanes of both sides were to be closed, but the lanes were shifted over to accommodate traffic.

The interstate still will need to be shut down to put in the bridge beams overnight, though that will come closer to the project’s completion.

7) Transit authority: The City of Moore has agreed to join a regional transit authority that has the ultimate goal of introducing commuter rail to the metro.

The council approved Moore’s participation in a regional transit authority that would oversee the implementation and funding of a light rail system running through Norman, into Moore, Oklahoma City and Edmond. Though the project is far from implementation, and no money has been earmarked or identified yet, City Manager Brooks Mitchell recommended that the council give the city a voice in discussions to come.

“Ratifying this agreement tonight gives Moore a seat at the table without any additional cost to citizens,” Mitchell said. “We know negotiations still need to take place with BNSF to actually come up with a proposal. It allows us to have input into how this is put forward.”

While council members were sure the city should be involved in a regional transit authority, they were less sure about determining a funding source. No source, and as a result no money, has gone to any potential project.

They also agreed that for any regional transit system to work in Moore, a bus system will be required.

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