MANY of the schools that comprise the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association have to be smiling this weekend. As the football finals and semifinals got under way, only one private school (Oklahoma Christian, in Class 2A) remained standing.
The OSSAA member schools voted a few years ago to punish private schools by requiring their teams to move up one class if they reach the final eight in any sport three out of five years. This stemmed largely from schools such as Heritage Hall and Bishop McGuinness in Oklahoma City winning state titles in football.
Proponents of the rule change said something needed to be done to counter the advantages private schools have by being able to control their enrollment. Those advantages never seemed to be an issue when those schools weren't as successful.
Certainly Carl Albert's football team didn't seem to have any issue with those private school advantages last weekend when the Titans walloped McGuinness in the Class 5A semifinals. If they beat Tulsa East Central on Saturday night, the Titans will win their 11th state championship. Clinton is playing for its 16th state title on Saturday afternoon in Class 4A.
Outrage? There is none. Nor should there be. Carl Albert and Clinton have built tremendous programs. Success — of all kinds — should be applauded, not demonized. And so we say, congratulations and good luck!
The life of pies
Hostess is attracting suitors for its signature brands, plants and other assets. When news of Hostess' pending demise broke last month, thousands of Americans mourned the loss of the Twinkie and other Hostess products. But brands, like factories, can be bought and sold. The Twinkie may live on with a different baking company. Will it taste the same? Remains to be seen. Other famous brands that are likely to survive under new ownership include the Ding Dong, Donettes, Sno Balls, Ho-Hos, Chocodiles and Zingers. We're worried, though, that another Hostess staple may be too generic to find life after bankruptcy. It's those miniature fruit pies that (at least in the minds of mothers who pack school lunchboxes) are healthier than other Hostess offerings. Will someone please pluck the fruit pie from the Hostess tree and plant it in another orchard?
Jail tax vote coming
In just three months, voters in Oklahoma County could be asked to approve a 10-year, half-cent sales tax to build a new jail. The head of a committee formed to plan the adult-juvenile complex says the vote could be held as early as March. The price tag is roughly $350 million. County Commissioner Ray Vaughn says if the plan is approved, officials would look for enough land to build a sprawling one-story complex. The current jail, opened in 1991, stands 13 stories and was the subject of a harsh critique by the U.S. Justice Department five years ago. Most of the problems outlined in that report have been addressed, but Sheriff John Whetsel says some deficiencies can only be fixed with a major remodeling or a new jail. The present jail is a problem, has been for a long time. A March election doesn't allow much time to convince the public to pay for a new one, but then, there's probably no perfect time to make such a request.
Baptists keyed in to victims
We wrote this summer in praise of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma's disaster relief ministry. At the time, members of the group were awaiting a possible call to help victims of wildfires in Colorado, having previously spent two weeks there providing laundry services. When Superstorm Sandy wiped out portions of the East Coast in October, Oklahoma Southern Baptists again answered the call. They were honored with a key to the city of Middletown, N.J., after serving more than 64,535 meals over a period of weeks. That's a lot of food, but the convention's mobile kitchens are well-equipped. The largest can produce 25,000 per day; the other, smaller units able to prepare 3,000 to 5,000 per day. A proclamation from Middletown officials read: “Thank you for bringing warm smiles, hot meals, and enduring friendships at a time when we needed it most.” Oklahomans should be proud of this group's good deeds.
She did build that!
Here's another one for President Barack Obama's “you didn't build that” file. As a mother of four, North Carolina native Brandi Tysinger-Temple started sewing clothes for her children and eventually sold extra items on eBay, then on Facebook. Response was strong and the business grew. From its humble origins in a spare bedroom, Lolly Wolly Doodle today fills a 19,000-square-foot facility and employs more than 100 people in Lexington, N.C. The business has more than 375,000 Facebook fans. In a town with an unemployment rate of 10.7 percent, Lolly Wolly Doodle is creating jobs the old-fashioned way — by identifying a consumer need and meeting it, not through the crony capitalism too often promoted by Obama. Tysinger-Temple's success is an inspiration to those who still believe in the American dream, and a rebuke to government planners who think they know better.
President Barack Obama touts a tax increase on the rich as a way to lower the deficit. He should take note of Great Britain to see how well that theory works in practice. The Telegraph reports the number of British millionaires fell from 16,000 to just 6,000 after the government imposed a 50 percent tax rate for that group. It's believed many left the country or took other steps to minimize tax exposure, reducing government revenue by 7 billion pounds. Government leaders plan to cut the rate to 45 percent; since that announcement, the number of millionaires has risen back to 10,000. However, the newspaper reports that figure is still “far below” the number recorded even at the height of the recession and financial crisis. Will the same thing happen in the U.S. after a tax hike? Perhaps not, but history suggests otherwise.
Tale of two
times for TU
Best of times: The Tulsa University Golden Hurricane will play Saturday for the Conference USA football title, capping a 9-3 season. Worst of times: TU's athletic director may not be at the game. Ross Parmley was suspended Tuesday just hours after joining Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett in a celebration of the football team's success. The FBI said Parmley is an “admitted gambler” involved with an Oklahoma City bookie now under investigation. Parmley has been AD for less than a year — much longer than the 74 days TU President Geoffrey Orsak served before getting fired in September for undisclosed reasons. It's been a rough year for TU's administration, but the team deserves plaudits for its success on the field. A 9-3 record and a berth in the conference championship game are accomplishments to cheer about.
The Oklahoma Teachers Retirement System is a bad news-good news-bad news story. The bad news: The fund, previously rated among the nation's worst-funded, saw its unfunded liability increase last year. The system is now only 54.8 percent funded; its unfunded liability grew from $7.6 billion to $8.4 billion. The good news is that the system is still expected to eliminate its unfunded liability in 22 years, thanks in large part to a law requiring full funding of benefit increases. The bad news: That projection relies on 8 percent market growth on investments each year — something that hasn't occurred recently and may not occur for some time. In fact, this year's decline is tied to investment losses in 2008 and 2009. Lawmakers have done much to improve the system, but its future and the long-term security of teachers remains uncertain without broad national economic recovery.