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Rabon Calls on Tourism Department to Adopt Zero Tolerance Policy on Discrimination

Sen. Jeff Rabon on Tuesday called upon the Oklahoma Tourism Department to adopt a zero tolerance policy on discrimination and requested that Attorney General Drew Edmonson examine potential contractual irregularities with an employee at Beaver’s Bend State Park in Broken Bow.

Rabon’s concerns stem from a situation in which a local family has attempted to lease a boat slip for a houseboat, but has repeatedly been denied the opportunity by management. Rabon claimed the denial is an example of discrimination and that a larger pattern of malfeasance has emerged with Beavers Bend Marina management, which is a State Concession Holder.

“This family has had houseboats at the marina since 1988, and they’ve been ambassadors for the lake and the park as a whole,” Rabon said. “They’ve hosted Governors, Supreme Court Justices and other important groups and even led fund-raising events for the lake’s annual fireworks display. The unexplained denial of their request to rent is a slur on their character and a clear example of discrimination.”

Rabon said repeated attempts to encourage the Tourism Department to take action on the issue have been met with silence. The Senator noted that the family was removed from a list for slip rental consideration after they sent a letter to the Tourism Department expressing concern with new contracts sent to marina tenants following the hiring of the State Concession Holder. Prior to the denial of their rental request, the family had requested a meeting with local officials and boat owners, Rabon noted.

“If the State Concession Holder’s contract permits him to discriminate against current and prospective tenants, then the Attorney General needs to look into it,” Rabon said. “This is an out of state vendor, contracted by the state of Oklahoma, who is abusing his authority at the expense of good people who simply want to enjoy the lake and share its beauty with others. It’s wrong, and the Tourism Department needs to step in, remedy the situation and adopt a strong zero tolerance policy on discrimination to ensure it doesn’t happen again.”

Rabon said the incident in question comes on the heels of numerous complaints regarding marina management, including the dumping of raw sewage into Beaver’s Bend Lake, efforts to intimidate current tenants and employees who support the family in question, and over-billing the credit cards of marina visitors who rent equipment.

“I know the Department did previously ask for an opinion from the Attorney General regarding the Concession Holder’s right to refuse business,” Rabon said. “However, they asked the wrong question. I will ask the Attorney General different and obvious questions regarding civil rights and discrimination as it relates to the use of state park property which has been consigned to a concessionaire for business use.”
“Any time a citizen is punished because they dare to request redress from their elected officials, it’s a serious problem.”

Contact info
Senator Rabon's Office - (405) 521-5614