March 19, 2014
For Immediate Release
Contact: Trav Robertson
MARY FALLIN’S FAILURE ON STORM SHELTER RECORDS
Governor Stonewalls Storm Shelter Records Request by Parents
Oklahoma City – Gov. Mary Fallin continues to block access to files relating to an initiative petition to fund putting storm shelters in every school and is actively fighting against the parents of Moore who lost their children last year when an EF5 tornado ripped through Plaza Towers Elementary School, according to Oklahoma Democratic Party Chair Wallace Collins.
“She has shown callous behavior toward the victims of Moore through her actions,” said Collins.
Last November Take Shelter Oklahoma (TSO) requested to see records from Fallin’s office regarding school safety and TSO’s plan for installing storm shelters. Not only did it take nearly two months for a response, but the response was intentionally sent to a non-existent address in Tulsa. Once it was returned to the Governor’s Office, it was not sent out for an additional two weeks. The group has now filed a lawsuit after Fallin’s continued failure to comply with the request and provide the records in a prompt manner as required under Oklahoma’s Open Records Act.
Once the two Moore mothers who serve as vice chairs of TSO filed the lawsuit, Fallin decided to waste taxpayers’ money by hiring outside counsel to help hide the records. “Instead of acting in a prudent manner and providing the records, she started playing legal games and moved to dismiss the lawsuit by claiming that the mothers didn’t have standing to sue since Take Shelter had made the initial open records request,” Collins continued. In response to Fallin’s legal maneuvering, the mothers have since dismissed their lawsuit and filed a different complaint as Take Shelter Oklahoma.
Said Collins, “The idea that these two parents, who co-chair Take Shelter Oklahoma, don’t have standing is ludicrous. Frankly, not only does Fallin owe the parents of Moore these records, she owes them an apology Mary Fallin should quit playing politics with the lives of children.”
Under the initiative petition supported by TSO and the parents impacted by last year’s storms, voters would decide on a $500 million bond to fund shelters in schools throughout the state. It would be funded by the current franchise tax, thus not raising any taxes, not creating any new taxes, or reducing any spending. Fallin has instead proposed the biggest property tax increase in state history that does not guarantee that a single quality storm shelter will be built.
Concluded Collins, “Fallin has opposed TSO’s initiative from the very start, and by delaying and obstructing this records request she has shown she has something to hide. What is it? Is it that these records will show the ties between her and the State Chamber? Will the records show her insensitive attitude toward the parents of Moore? Or will it even show that she called for a special legislative session on tort reform last year in order to take away remedies from the parents of Moore? In any case, she will clearly do anything to make sure citizens don’t see these records. We need someone in the Governor’s Office who won’t play these political games.”
The Oklahoma Democratic Party has been focusing this week on Fallin’s lack of transparency, and in the next installment it will look at how behind the scenes she gutted the Justice Reinvestment Initiative program that would have saved taxpayers millions.