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Former Oklahoma lawmaker looking to educate folks about life in public service

by The Oklahoman Editorial Board Published: April 30, 2012
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ED Apple jokes that in his next life, he wants to return “as someone who's indifferent.” But in this one, Apple finds that he is “cursed with a conscience — with knowledge comes responsibility.”

To that end, Apple, who served four terms in the Oklahoma House of Representatives and then eight years as a member of the Corporation Commission, feels a need to educate everyday Oklahomans about what it takes to be a public servant.

Retired in his hometown of Duncan, Apple, 79, has conjured the idea of making available on a website the job descriptions of every elected office in Oklahoma from school board to governor. He believes compiling and posting the information — along with a history of the trouble some of our elected and appointed officials have gotten into — would be an excellent project for the political science department at one of our state's colleges or universities.

This would be a nonpartisan, nonissue undertaking. The focus, he said, would be “simply on the process and procedures about how to be an effective public servant.”

A Republican, Apple found his early days at the Legislature in the late 1980s to be quite a challenge. That's not surprising — the learning curve is steep for newcomers to the Capitol. But it can be steep, too, for new members of a city council or even a school board (“I've heard it said that half of school board members run on a platform of firing the football coach,” Apple said, joking — we think).

So the idea of offering a baseline summary of job duties and expectations is a good one. Among those duties is — or should be — to respond in some way to the concerns of those who pay public officials' salaries. Apple is convinced that too many men and women, once elected, lose sight of that.

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by The Oklahoman Editorial Board
The Oklahoman Editorial Board consists of Gary Pierson, President and CEO of The Oklahoma Publishing Company; Christopher P. Reen, president and publisher of The Oklahoman; Kelly Dyer Fry, editor and vice president of news; Christy Gaylord...
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