Oklahoma often gets dinged in government transparency evaluations, so it was a pleasant surprise to see that it performed well in a recent ranking. The U.S. Public Interest Research Group Education Fund's “Following the Money 2013” report, which rates states on online access to government spending information, has given Oklahoma an A-minus in financial transparency. That's a major improvement from the C-plus grade received last year. Oklahoma was one of only seven “Leading States” getting an A. And Oklahoma achieved that distinction in a cost-conscious way. To establish online access, Oklahoma had start-up expenses of just $8,600, using existing staff, and annual operating costs of just $3,600. In comparison, another state listed start-up costs of $2.2 million and annual expenses of $400,000. Secretary of Finance and Revenue Preston L. Doerflinger said he was pleased his office's efforts have left Oklahoma “among the nation's leaders.” Oklahoma voters should feel the same.
A welcome change
Relief is on the way for those frustrated (or worse) by their experience trying to get a driver's license. This week the Department of Public Safety debuted its Inline Online system, which lets users go online to make appointments for the driving skills tests, learner's permit test and ID cards. Appointments can be made from one to 14 days in advance. This week it was available for three locations in the Oklahoma City area. It'll expand to Tulsa next week and eventually to DPS's other field offices. The service is free for now. When it's fully in place, there will be a fee that DPS says will be “nominal.” Our guess is parents and teens will gladly pay a few bucks to avoid the current nightmare that involves arriving at driving stations in the middle of the night in hopes of being able to take the test.
When silence is golden
Sometimes, the best course of action is to keep quiet. That's a lesson the Oklahoma chapter of the Sierra Club needs to learn. The group just came out in opposition to House Bill 1412, which would prohibit Oklahoma communities from having anything to do with the United Nations' Agenda 21. We actually agree that the bill is a waste of time. Oklahomans are not going to waive national sovereignty to allow the U.N. to take control of local conservation efforts, no matter what conspiracy theorists might say. But by opposing the bill, the Sierra Club has likely increased support for the measure. Now it's a two-fer for state legislators — a blow against U.N. one-world government and the environmental busybodies of the Sierra Club. Lawmakers may figure, “If those people are against this, I should be for it.” With enemies like the Sierra Club, HB 1412 doesn't need friends.
Fame has its benefits
A murder charge may or may not slow the track career of South African double-amputee sprinter Oscar Pistorius. Pistorius is accused of killing his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, on Valentine's Day. He says he thought he was shooting at a home intruder when he fired several rounds into a bathroom door. This week a judge in Pretoria said that if Pistorius needs to leave the country to compete, he can do so (with some conditions). His attorneys argued that Pistorius needs to compete in order to earn a living. A 2012 Olympian, Pistorius is a hero in South Africa. As the judge's ruling shows, he enjoys all the benefits that accompany fame and fortune.