• Mental health must stay on Oklahoma lawmakers' to-do list

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Sun, Aug 30, 2015

    THE death of Labor Commissioner Mark Costello, allegedly at the hands of his son, shines a spotlight — yet again — on mental illness in Oklahoma and the need for policymakers to place the issue high on their list of priorities and keep it there. Costello was stabbed to death while meeting with his son, Christian, at an ice cream shop in northwest Oklahoma City. It was a stunning and tragic end for a man who, friends say, did all he could to help the young man who had struggled with mental illness for years. “He never gave up on Christian, when it would have been easier to do so,” said Jim Marshall, who was Costello's chief of staff and has known the family since 1992.

  • GOP accomplishments in Congress are worth noting

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Sun, Aug 30, 2015

    UNDER Republican control of Congress, lawmakers have advanced modest but sensible proposals that were previously stymied under Democratic control. Yet many conservative activists decry this as a do-nothing Congress. That conservatives hoped for more from a Republican Congress is understandable. But expectations must be tempered by political reality. So long as Barack Obama is president, progress on the nation's most pressing challenges will be exceedingly difficult. Many national policy failures originated with Obama, and he remains committed to preserving those mistakes regardless of the consequences to citizens. Nonetheless, this Congress has been far more productive than its predecessors.

  • Oklahoma ScissorTales: Passion fuels state's top teacher

    The Oklahoman Editorials | Published: Sat, Aug 29, 2015

    SHAWN Sheehan does more than teach math to his special education students at Norman High School. He also tries to instill some life lessons. “For a lot of my children of color, they tend to think that they can either be entertainers or athletes and those are the only two options,” Sheehan said. “I'm glad to stand in front of them and say, ‘Guys that's not the only option, there's so many more professions and if you want to have a real impact on people's lives, become a teacher.' ” Sheehan, 29, was named 2016 Oklahoma Teacher of the Year during a ceremony Tuesday at State Fair Park. The award traditionally is announced during the Oklahoma State Fair in September but was moved up due to construction. Sheehan

  • Discussion on OKC police and race relations needs to continue

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Fri, Aug 28, 2015

    AT a public forum Tuesday to discuss the Oklahoma City Police Department's relationship with minorities, a citizen asked Police Chief Bill Citty why he felt this community has remained peaceful while others across the country have seen violent protests following questionable incidents involving police. In answering, Citty recalled the sit-ins led by Oklahoma City civil rights leader Clara Luper during the late 1950s. Luper and police department leaders knew there would be arrests as a result of the protests, Citty said, but they communicated and respected each other and as a result, the protests remained peaceful. “Historically in Oklahoma City, that's the kind of people we are,” Citty told the audience.

  • Surprising appeal of Trump, Sanders is a work in progress

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Fri, Aug 28, 2015

    THE more things change, the more they stay the same. And the more Hunter S. Thompson seems to have left a footprint. Too bad Thompson, the self-anointed “gonzo journalist,” isn't around to follow Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders on the hustings today. Thompson was there in 1972 when another outspoken candidate was wowing audiences. He was there four years later when a future president engaged in the kind of frankness that people seem to like in the early stages of presidential campaigns — and sometimes beyond. What links Thompson, Trump and Sanders is Thompson's admiration of campaigners who tell it like it is. He wrote these words in 1972: “This guy … doesn't sneak around the bush. He comes right out and says it.

  • Oklahoma special ed statistics reveal troubling pattern

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Thu, Aug 27, 2015

    WHEN lawmakers authorized a state scholarship program for children with special needs to attend private schools, they did so partly in response to the complaints of parents who said their children weren't well served at many Oklahoma public schools. An investigative report by Oklahoma Watch indicates those complaints may have been understated. Oklahoma Watch's review of federal data for the 2011-12 school year found Oklahoma ranked highest in the nation for expelling special education students from public schools, fourth in the use of corporal punishment for such students, and in the top half of states for in-school suspensions and arrests of special ed students.

  • Kids' educational programming benefits from the free market

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Thu, Aug 27, 2015

    ONE of the arguments made for many government programs is that they provide a service the private sector can't or won't. That case is often emphasized by supporters of children's educational programming on public broadcasting stations — if the government doesn't do this, who will? Yet it turns out public demand for a product, including children's educational programming, generates a response from the marketplace. Fans of “Sesame Street” will soon enjoy more episodes of that program because they will now premiere on HBO, not PBS. In a five-year deal announced this month, all new episodes of “Sesame Street” will air first on HBO. Those wishing to view the shows free will have to wait another nine months before

  • With those in public eye, some skepticism is warranted

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Wed, Aug 26, 2015

    IN disclosing that he had been unfaithful to his wife, reality TV star Josh Duggar said he was “the biggest hypocrite ever.” In truth, he’s got a lot of recent company for that dubious title. Duggar, 27, the oldest son of a conservative Christian family that was the focus of the program “19 Kids and Counting” on TLC, revealed last week that in addition to cheating on his wife, he had become secretly addicted to Internet pornography. This followed revelations that he was among the millions of people who used the cheating website Ashley Madison; work by hackers revealed names, credit card information and other data about the site’s users. Earlier this year, Duggar acknowledged that he had molested girls as a

  • No reason to 'save' consumers from competition

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Wed, Aug 26, 2015

    AS we have noted, many Obama administration policies are rooted in political fantasy but impose harsh, real-world consequences on citizens. That’s certainly true of efforts to regulate Internet service providers as utilities. After prodding from President Barack Obama, the Federal Communications Commission voted to regulate ISPs under Title II of the federal Communications Act of 1934, which was a revision of the Interstate Commerce Act of 1887 that regulated railroads.

  • Costello brought competence, humor to Oklahoma Labor Department

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Tue, Aug 25, 2015

    MARK Costello was a successful businessman who entered politics in 2010 with a run for state labor commissioner, eschewing campaign donations from political action committees and lobbyists. “I choose to represent the citizens of Oklahoma unencumbered by those who seek special favors,” Costello said in a letter to the editor prior to that election. “Voters want public servants of integrity.” Costello delivered in that respect. During his 4 ½ years in the job, he brought a level of professionalism to the Labor Department that was clearly missing under his predecessor, while working to improve his agency and state government. He won election in 2010 and easily won re-election last fall.

  • There's not much funny about Clinton server controversy

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Mon, Aug 24, 2015

    AH, that Hillary Clinton. What a sense of humor she has. Except she seems to be the only one laughing. Following a town hall meeting last week in Las Vegas, Hillary jousted with reporters over her email server. This followed the revelation earlier in the week that there were at least 300 work-related emails on her server, from her time as secretary of state, that may have been classified if not top secret. The server was her own — unofficial and unsecured — and used, you’ll recall, for convenience because trying to manage a personal and a work device was just too much. After having thousands of the emails deleted, she turned the server over to the government for inspection.

  • Few with autism gain from insurance mandate

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Mon, Aug 24, 2015

    PERHAPS it’s inevitable, but every few years there seems to be an effort to make coverage of autism treatments mandatory for Oklahoma insurance policies. Yet the vast majority of families of children with autism would receive no benefit from such a mandate, as even backers of that proposal have conceded. Under federal law, policies provided by employers with self-insured plans are exempt from state mandates. So state mandates apply mostly to policies sold on the individual market. Thus, if a family has insurance through an employer, there’s a good chance an autism mandate wouldn’t apply to them. That point should not be overlooked.

  • Frank talk needed to help improve Oklahoma suicide statistics

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Sun, Aug 23, 2015

    IN her job with the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, Savannah Kalman talks a lot about suicide. If only more Oklahomans would do the same. Like so many mental health-related issues, suicide takes a big toll in Oklahoma but it remains a topic that most prefer not to acknowledge. In paid obituaries that run each day in The Oklahoman and other newspapers, families regularly include the cause of death for their loved one — unless the cause is suicide. The reason is that a stigma remains attached to death by suicide. Too many families are ashamed to say their son or daughter or parent took their own life.

  • More thoughtful approach sought on Oklahoma teacher pay raises

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Sun, Aug 23, 2015

    STATE Sen. Bryce Marlatt, R-Woodward, says he has a “creative solution” to provide across-the-board pay raises to teachers: He wants to redirect tobacco settlement money from health programs to teacher pay. If Oklahoma’s health rankings were among the nation’s best, then that might merit discussion. But they’re not. Instead, Oklahoma ranks near the bottom of most major health rankings. So Marlatt’s proposal combines bad policy with poor fiscal management. It should be shelved. As part of a nationwide tobacco lawsuit settlement in 1998, Oklahoma was among the states expected to collectively receive a combined $246 billion over the first 25 years.

  • Oklahoma ScissorTales: State board bringing clarity to commutations

    The Oklahoman Editorials | Published: Sat, Aug 22, 2015

    THE Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board took a step toward greater clarity by tentatively approving new rules that govern requests for commutations. Previously, the commutation process could be quite muddled. Indeed the parole board got into trouble with Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater a few years ago for the way it handled commutation requests. At that time, board members didn’t list in advance the names of offenders proposed for commutation at their monthly meetings. The rules approved Monday set out the specific eligibility for four classes of inmates before they can apply for commutation. Nonviolent felony offenders must serve at least three years.

  • Careful study is required in debate over Oklahoma judicial reform

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Fri, Aug 21, 2015

    AN Oklahoma legislator who wants to do away with the board that recommends potential judges to the governor believes he has a glaring example of why change is needed, in a case from Pottawatomie County. But it appears the board was merely trying to doing its job responsibly. Rep. Kevin Calvey, R-Oklahoma City, is leading the push to get rid of the Judicial Nominating Commission. The JNC screens applicants when vacancies occur on state courts, including the Supreme Court, and submits three nominees to the governor. The JNC recently submitted only two names to Gov. Mary Fallin to fill a vacancy created by the retirement of a Pottawatomie County associate district judge. Both of the nominees are Democrats, which triggered harsh

  • Curbing seasonal workers not a fix for immigration

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Fri, Aug 21, 2015

    SOME Republicans want to not only reduce illegal immigration, but also cut back on legal immigration to the United States. Many who favor even more restrictive immigration policies argue a reduction in legal immigration will generate higher wages, particularly for low-skill, native-born workers in entry-level jobs. Those critics have it only half right. In agriculture, reduced immigration has raised wages, but the benefit has gone to the remaining immigrant laborers — because native-born workers still won’t take those jobs. Meanwhile, crops are rotting in the fields due to associated workforce shortages, increasing food prices for all.

  • Market forces at work as OKC continues to evolve

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Thu, Aug 20, 2015

    FOR historic or landmark buildings, the free market giveth and the free market taketh away. Away went the bombing-damaged downtown YMCA building and the dilapidated Stage Center. The market couldn’t find a way to save them. By contrast, the wholesale clearance of landmark Oklahoma City buildings in the 1960s and 1970s wasn’t entirely market driven. It was partly government policy styled as urban renewal. Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t. Imagine what could have become of some of the old hotels and movie palaces had a few years elapsed until a resurgence of interest in the urban lifestyle kicked in. Bricktown could have gone to the wrecking ball as well. But the timing was right for its emergence as an

  • Much to be gained by ending U.S. oil export ban

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Thu, Aug 20, 2015

    WHAT if a simple policy change could increase U.S. companies’ profits and drive down consumers’ costs? Repealing the ban on oil exports could do both. The economic case for repealing the 1970s-era export ban was recently reinforced by Frank Rusco, director of Natural Resources and Environment for the federal Government Accountability Office. In an appearance before the U.S. House Committee on Agriculture, Rusco summarized the GAO’s September 2014 findings from a review of relevant research and interviews of experts. The GAO concluded “removing crude oil export restrictions would likely increase some domestic crude oil prices, but could decrease consumer fuel prices …” That may sound counterintuitive.

  • Tom Cole: Appealing beyond base is key for eventual nominee

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Wed, Aug 19, 2015

    HILLARY Clinton has thus far done all she can to help the Republican Party win the presidency in 2016. The question now becomes, which of the many GOP candidates will emerge with the message and the backing to take advantage? That’s the condensed version of an assessment by U.S. Rep. Tom Cole, R-Moore, who has spent a lifetime in politics as a consultant, an elected state official and now as a member of Congress. Cole is a staunch conservative who naturally wants to see a Republican succeed Barack Obama in the White House, but his allegiance generally doesn’t cloud his vision. The hard truth, Cole said in a recent visit with The Oklahoman’s editorial board, is that the Republican Party has lost the popular vote in five




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