EDITORIAL: Time for city councilors to 'Do the right thing'

Apr. 20—The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said it best: There's never a wrong time to do the right thing.

Four McAlester city councilors have an opportunity to heed that advice during the upcoming Tuesday, April 23 council meeting.

Those four councilors voted during the April 9 McAlester City Council meeting to repeal the one-eighth cent sales tax to fund expansion of the McAlester Cancer Center — with the proposal to repeal the sales tax passing on a split 4-3 vote.

Voting along with Ward 4 City Councilor Randy Roden on his motion to repeal were Ward 3 Councilor Chris Stone, Ward 5 Councilor Billy Jack Boatright and new Ward 1 Councilor Levi Gilmore.

Voting "no" in opposition to repealing the one-eight cent sales tax were McAlester Mayor John Browne, Ward 2 Councilor Justin Few and Ward 6 Councilor Kevin Beaty.

Following the April 9 action, the News-Capital issued an editorial in its April 11 edition stating the McAlester City Council shouldn't repeal the will of the voters — because that's exactly what happened.

It took less than a minute for the four city councilors to repeal the eighth-cent sales tax approved six years ago by a vote of the people.

During a Feb. 13, 2018 election, city of McAlester voters approved the one-eighth cent sales tax to provide funding for the McAlester Regional Health Center Authority to construct a modern regional cancer center to provide expanded cancer care and ancillary services for Southeastern Oklahoma.

It passed with 55.62% of the vote.

Now, the four city councilors who voted to repeal the eighth-cent sales tax — and by extension, plans to fund expansion of the McAlester Cancer Center — have an opportunity to begin undoing the damage that's been done.

Ward 1 Councilor Gilmore placed an item on the upcoming April 23 meeting agenda for discussion and possible action to reconsider the April 9 ordinance that repealed the eighth-cent sales tax for the McAlester Cancer Center.

Those who voted to repeal the eighth-cent sales tax should reconsider their original votes and repeal the ordinance that struck the eighth-cent sales tax in the first place.

Otherwise, there may be no expansion of the McAlester Cancer Center. How will denying both present and future generations the opportunity for expanded and enhanced cancer care and treatment be beneficial to McAlester and the surrounding area served by the McAlester Regional Health Center?

It's only an one-eighth cent sales tax — an eighth of a cent!

Even if Gilmore's measure to reconsider the sales tax repeal is successful, that may not be enough to reinstate the tax.

McAlester City Attorney John T. Hammons has indicated that once the sales tax was repealed by the city council, it will take another vote of the people to reinstate it.

Even so, the first step is to revoke the split city council action that lead to the eighth-cent sales tax being repealed on April 9.

As Mark Twain said "You're never wrong for doing the right thing."