Pointe Vista & The State: Redefining Privatization

by Stephen on 12/14/2015

Sunrise Over Lake Texoma

Sunrise Over Lake Texoma

In  2004, the state land commission issued a Request For Proposals (RFP) for the “Lake Texoma Redevelopment.”  It was described as a “Public / Private Partnership to restore and revitalize Lake Texoma State Park.”

This is standard PR used to highlight the possible benefits of “privatization.”  There is an implied partnership between the state and the private contractor.  It is supposed to guarantee access to improved public recreation, while allowing a developer to expand private commercial venues such as restaurants, hotels, etc.

It soon became clear that there was no public oversight in this “partnership.”  From the start, it was about securing all of The Park for private commercial development.  It was never about privatization.  It was about taking from the public under the respectable cover of “privatization.”

You only have to look at the settlement agreement to see that.  The state proposes to release Pointe Vista from their development requirements, but allow them to keep over 700 acres of federally-protected park land.

The Commissioners of the Land Office (CLO) sponsored the project based on empty promises of strict project oversight.  Ten years ago, current CLO assistant secretary Keith Kuhlman emphasized the role of The Public in guaranteeing the project would be completed strictly according to contract.

They would only consider: (1) an experienced developer, (2)  with the financial resources to self-fund the project, and (3) who was “non-litigious.”  This means they didn’t have a history of legal battles.

So, who did they choose?  Two of the wealthiest oil company executives in the nation – Mark Fischer and Aubrey McClendon – aka “Pointe Vista Development.”  CEO’s of Chaparral and Chesapeake Energy who are well known regular customers of the state land commission.

Did they have the money to fund the project? Together they had over a $1 billion credit line.  Did they contract for enough land to complete the redevelopment?  Yes.  The two land parcels purchased in 2008 equaled the 758 acres needed for the “Lake Texoma Redevelopment.”

Did they have any experience as developers?  No.  Were they “non-litigious?”  No.  They both had a history of court actions.

According to Senator Josh Brecheen, McClendons’ attorneys at McAfee & Taft wrote the state land commission’s 2008 Purchase Agreements for Pointe Vista. They wrote an additional “secret contract” (Area C) between Tourism and Pointe Vista for an additional 1,022 acres.

Area C was, and still is, federal land.  And it could not be transferred to the state without first performing a full environmental study which the Corps of Engineers required in 2009.

When Pointe Vista went after this additional land, they created an unnecessary obstacle for themselves.  Yet, one of their primary arguments when they were sued in state court in 2014 was that “Tourism” had failed to sell them this additional federal land.

The state can’t sell land they don’t own.  They were sued for breach of contract for failing to deliver a hotel and convention center which they had six years to complete.

Three months ago the CLO abandoned their legal case against the failed developer.  Governor Fallin announced their proposed settlement with Pointe Vista.  They still have not submitted it to the OK County District Court or Judge Stuart.

No, this was never about “Privatization.”  It was always, from the beginning until the present, about taking Lake Texoma State Park.

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