ScissorTales: Five phases of dealing with the heat

by The Oklahoman Editorial Board Published: August 4, 2012
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DENIAL:

The heat wave/drought is an anomaly. It will break soon. In any case, this can't be as bad as last summer. An El Nino will come to our rescue, just wait and see! Last year the heat broke around Labor Day and it started raining again in the fall. This will happen again!

Anger:

Let's face it. This is as bad as last summer, the one that broke all records. Relentless triple-digit highs? We're used to that. But not to relentless 110-plus days.

Depression:

Why us? Why is it hotter here than in Phoenix, in the “Valley of the Sun”?

Bargaining:

We will accept these miserable summers as a trade-off if the winters will stay mild and ice-free and the storms in spring and fall bring just rain and not hail and high winds. Also, we'd like it not to rain at all during the State Fair, except between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. Also, no weather delays at OU or OSU home games.

Acceptance:

We will get through this. By late October, we'll all be enjoying the autumnal breezes and complaining (if only mildly) that it's a bit brisk in the early morning or that the skies have been overcast for three straight days.

Audit absence

Nearly 80 Oklahoma towns have failed to file an annual financial audit and are forfeiting more than $90,000 in gasoline excise taxes under state law. That's unfortunate for several reasons. Public confidence in government relies on transparency. When local governments repeatedly refuse to have their books audited, that's cause for concern. Furthermore, most of the communities affected are small towns where every dollar counts, so forfeiting fuel tax money has real impact. Unfortunately, for many small communities the cost of the audit is greater than the cost of the financial penalty, so those towns are opting to take the hit rather than have their books examined. We're glad that 87 percent of towns in Oklahoma are filing their audits, but wish the other 13 percent would join them. The challenges facing small towns are real, but balancing the budget by avoiding audits is poor public policy.

Second chances

We've debated through the years whether Oklahoma should save time and money by doing away with runoff elections and instead go to winner-takes-all primaries. Ted Cruz's victory this week in Texas is an endorsement of the runoff system. In late May, Cruz lost by 10 points to longtime Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in the GOP primary for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Kay Bailey Hutchison. Dewhurst came up just 5½ points shy of winning that election outright. But in Tuesday's runoff, Cruz throttled Dewhurst by a whopping 14 points. Oklahoma has seen similar stories through the years. Most notable was Brad Henry, a long shot early in the 2002 race for governor. Henry survived the Democratic primary to make it into a runoff against the better-known Vince Orza. Henry won the runoff, then upset Republican Steve Largent in the general election. Those second chances can make a difference, which is why runoffs in Oklahoma aren't going anywhere any time soon.

Jobs, money are tight

Oklahoma City's unemployment rate in June was 5 percent, the lowest among the nation's 49 largest metro areas. That's good news, even if the rate was up slightly from the 4.5 percent a month earlier. Considering the national unemployment rate continues to be a shade over 8 percent, we'll take 5 percent. On the other hand, a new study by the Pew Charitable Trusts shows Oklahoma has the highest known rate of payday borrowing. Thirteen percent of Oklahomans are using these short-term, high-interest loans to help make ends meet. That's a higher percentage than any of the other 31 states that had data worth crunching. A spokesman for the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission noted that the job market here remains very tight. For many Oklahomans, it's clear that money does, too.

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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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