• Now’s the perfect time to add some salt to political spin

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Mon, May 16, 2016

    AT the White House, it's what you don't say (or do say with the intent to deceive) that matters. At Facebook, what matters is what you can't say if you're a conservative. Storylines from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C., and 1 Hacker Way in Menlo Park, Calif., pivot on the control of information. That's to be expected from the White House political spin machine but not so much from Facebook. “Narrative” is one of those overused terms today, yet there's no better word to describe how the Obama administration spins a tangled web when first it practices to deceive. For Facebook, the Web is the lifeblood of communication.

  • Environmental regulations often an excuse for cronyism

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Sun, May 15, 2016

    AMONG the problems with government's environmental regulation is the inconsistent application, lack of genuine environmental benefit and political favoritism. Consider the Obama administration's decision to allow wind power companies to turn thousands of bald eagles into confetti. Under the administration's plan, wind companies and other power providers could kill or injure up to 4,200 bald eagles a year without penalty. Meanwhile, the average citizen faces severe penalties even if someone unintentionally kills a single bald eagle — a fine of $5,000 or one year imprisonment. Earlier this year, The Great Falls Tribune reported a Montana man pleaded guilty to shooting an eagle he believed was killing bunnies he

  • Oklahoma DHS budget concerns merit close attention from Legislature

    Oklahoma DHS budget concerns merit close...

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Sun, May 15, 2016

    ON the whole, says Department of Human Services Director Ed Lake, he has no real beef with how his agency has been treated by the Legislature during his three years in charge. Lake cites appropriations exceeding $100 million to help DHS implement foster care reforms related to the settlement of a federal lawsuit. Yet as he prepares for what his appropriation might look like for the new fiscal year beginning July 1, Lake can't help but be concerned, and try to express to lawmakers that they should be concerned, too. “I tell the legislators that we try not to cry wolf,” Lake told The Oklahoman's editorial board last week. “But … our situation is pretty bad.” Lawmakers have heard similar assessments from the

  • Oklahoma ScissorTales: Prison plan ruffles some legislators' feathers

    Oklahoma ScissorTales: Prison plan ruffles some...

    The Oklahoman Editorials | Published: Sat, May 14, 2016

    AS expected, interim Department of Corrections Director Joe Allbaugh stirred up a hornet's nest of lawmakers with his plan to unilaterally close 15 prison work centers. The plan involves moving the 1,300 work center inmates to the Oklahoma State Reformatory in Granite, and placing OSR inmates in the empty North Fork Correctional Facility in Sayre. The DOC will lease that space from the company that owns the private prison. Allbaugh's plan makes fiscal and practical sense, which is why the board that oversees the DOC voted unanimously to approve it. The work centers, which provide free or cheap inmate labor to the cities and towns where they're located, cost the agency $17.6 million to operate.

  • Practical approaches needed in policies tied to sex offenders

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Fri, May 13, 2016

    IF present trends continue, restrictions on where certain ex-convicts can live will put all of Oklahoma City's registered sex offenders in an area no larger than a single neighborhood. That's an exaggeration, of course, but not as much as you might think. A well-intentioned but misguided policy of forcing sex offenders into ghettos isn't making things safer. It may be making things less safe for some citizens and it's definitely led to an increase in homelessness. Also, the policy tends to negate a central tenet of scrutinizing sex offenders — the ability of law enforcement to know exactly where the offenders live. Present trends won't continue because policymakers are realizing that the isolation strategy isn't working.

  • Open government wins with OK high court's ruling

    Open government wins with OK high court\'s ruling

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Fri, May 13, 2016

    THE Oklahoma Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected the argument that a videotape showing a University of Oklahoma football player punching a coed was not a public record and thus shouldn't be made available. Score one small victory for open government. The case dates to the summer of 2014, when OU's Joe Mixon got into an altercation in a Norman restaurant. The skirmish was captured on the restaurant's surveillance system. Mixon reached a plea deal and was given a one-year deferred sentence; he also was suspended from the team for the 2014 season. The state's Open Records Act says facts concerning an arrest must be made public upon request, and that copies should be allowed, too.

  • Bill provides an example of poor fiscal management

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Thu, May 12, 2016

    AS the old saying goes, the first step to getting out of a hole is to stop digging. So what does it say about Oklahoma legislators that they recently voted for a bill that will increase state government's insurance costs by millions even as they face a $1.3 billion shortfall? Worse yet, the bill will increase prices for all Oklahomans with insurance. Among other things, Senate Bill 1150 amends state law to require an administration appeals procedure for pharmacists to protest the “reimbursement amounts” they're paid for drugs. State law previously allowed such protests regarding “maximum allowable cost rates.” That simple word change could have multi- million-dollar consequences.

  • Reason for concern with some Oklahoma budget bills

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Wed, May 11, 2016

    IN politics, it's a cliche to promise that elimination of unspecified “waste, fraud and abuse” in government will reap huge dividends. Yet state lawmakers are now banking on this vague platitude to generate nearly $54 million. If those projections are wrong, then the state could face yet another budget shortfall in the coming year. Senate Bill 1579 directs the Oklahoma Tax Commission “to enhance agency efforts to discover and reduce fraud and abuse of sales and use tax exemptions” and the “nonfiling and underreporting of sales and use taxes …” Basically, the bill would provide the Tax Commission with $4.1 million to perform more audits. Undoubtedly, an increase in auditing will yield an increase in tax

  • OK prison work center idea not popular, but change is needed

    OK prison work center idea not popular, but...

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Wed, May 11, 2016

    THE state Board of Corrections acted responsibly, and with no small dose of backbone, when it voted unanimously last week to close Oklahoma's inmate work centers and use the savings to help rent private prison space. The proposal came from Joe Allbaugh, who since being named interim director of the Department of Corrections in January has made it clear in words and deeds that he doesn't plan to simply be a placeholder. Allbaugh has made it a point to drop in unannounced, and with little to no entourage, at various prisons to see how they're operating, and has spoken several times about the need for change to address prison crowding.

  • Sensitive students, faculty make for interesting times on campus

    Sensitive students, faculty make for...

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Tue, May 10, 2016

    DURING a commencement speech at the University of Michigan last month, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg talked in part about the need for students to expose themselves to new ideas and try to get along with people they don't agree with. This is among “the most important skills in the working world,” Bloomberg said. He was right, just as he was when he said it was a “terrible mistake” for university administrations to “bow to pressure and shield students from these ideas through ‘safe spaces,' ‘code words' and ‘trigger warnings.' “The whole purpose of college is to learn how to deal with difficult situations, not run away from them,” Bloomberg said. “A microagression is exactly that: micro.

  • Oklahoma high court’s initiative petition ruling protects the public

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Tue, May 10, 2016

    THE Oklahoma Supreme Court has blocked an initiative petition proposing changes to state liquor laws. This action may disappoint the initiative's backers, but it should be applauded by most Oklahomans — because the court's decision emphasizes the need for transparency in all petition processes. Initiative Petition No. 409 would have amended the Oklahoma Constitution to allow wine to be sold in some grocery stores and strong beer to be sold more broadly. The measure was backed by the Retail Liquor Association of Oklahoma.

  • New GOP leaders must work to advance Oklahoma

    New GOP leaders must work to advance Oklahoma

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Mon, May 9, 2016

    THE Republican caucuses in the Oklahoma House and Senate have selected new leaders for the 2017 session. Senate Republicans chose experience; House Republicans chose a fresh face over a veteran hand. We hope those differing approaches lead to identical outcomes: conservative leadership that moves Oklahoma forward. Senate Republicans selected Sen. Mike Schulz of Altus to serve as the next president pro tem. Schulz has served in the Senate since 2006 and has been the majority floor leader for four sessions now. A cotton and wheat farmer, Schulz has quietly served his time and worked his way up the leadership ladder. In contrast, House Republicans selected Rep. Charles McCall, an Atoka banker who was first elected in 2012,

  • Oklahoma school results not always in sync with spending

    The Oklahoma Editorial | Published: Sun, May 8, 2016

    IN education, it's commonly asserted that Oklahoma's academic performance would improve if the state spent more money. But when that theory is put to the test, it's hard to find a strong correlation between spending and improved outcomes. Oklahoma's average per-pupil funding ranks toward the bottom in 50-state comparisons. However, while the state formula attempts to equalize funding so districts with low local property values aren't disadvantaged compared with those with high valuations, that formula has its limits. Some districts spend far more per pupil than others, according to an Education Week analysis of federal data for all the nation's schools in the 2013 fiscal year.

  • A more serious, disciplined approach is needed from Trump

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Sun, May 8, 2016

    NOT 12 hours before his pathway to the Republican presidential nomination was cleared by Sen. Ted Cruz's withdrawal from the race, Donald Trump used part of an interview on “Fox and Friends” to call into question the character of Cruz's father. Trump alluded to a National Enquirer report that alleged it had found a photo showing Rafael Cruz with Lee Harvey Oswald months before the Kennedy assassination. “I mean what was he doing with Lee Harvey Oswald, shortly before the death, before the shooting? It's horrible,” Trump said. It's this sort of behavior — saying anything that pops into his head, about anything or anyone (Cruz's wife was an earlier target) — that must end if Trump hopes to gain the support of a

  • Oklahoma Scissortails: Anti-overdose efforts working

    Oklahoma Scissortails: Anti-overdose efforts...

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Sat, May 7, 2016

    AN update provided this week by the state Health Department shows that an effort begun in 2014 to reduce prescription drug overdose deaths in Oklahoma is having the intended impact. The department that year started a program to expand the availability of naloxone, which can be used to offset the effects of overdoses from opioids such as oxycodone and hydrocodone. The impetus was a significant and continuing increase in the number of overdose deaths from prescription drugs in Oklahoma. The program expanded naloxone availability and use among emergency medical services personnel. Now more than 800 EMS workers have been trained on how to use naloxone, and agencies statewide have reported 42 lives saved.

  • Hillary Clinton won't find any love from coal country this year

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Fri, May 6, 2016

    IN a list of states with outsized influence on national politics, Oklahoma ranks fairly low. West Virginia should rank even lower. It's smaller than the Sooner State, harder to get to (and through) and has no major metropolitan areas. It's pretty but poor, scenic but not significant. Actually, it can be. John F. Kennedy credited the state for his rise to the presidency. JFK won the Democratic primary there in 1960 when he was trailing Hubert H. Humphrey by 20 points nationwide. Kennedy's religious affiliation loomed large in regions of the country where Roman Catholics were scarce. But he won West Virginia after touring the state and identifying with its people and its problems.

  • Oklahoma County's move needed, but will strain Department of Corrections

    Oklahoma County\'s move needed, but will strain...

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Fri, May 6, 2016

    THE Oklahoma County jail is a microcosm of the mess the state is dealing with in its criminal justice system. County commissioners have decided, to their credit, that it's time for a change. The state sends so many men and women to prison that the Department of Corrections doesn't have enough space to hold them all within its buildings. Consequently, the DOC has long contracted with the Oklahoma County jail to hold some state inmates, and pays the county $32 per day for its trouble. Those per diem payments from the state add up, to roughly $2 million per year, and become important to jail operations. Therefore Sheriff John Whetsel, understandably, hasn't been keen on altering the arrangement. He has jailers to pay and

  • Vaccine bill wasn't likely to boost clarity for Oklahoma parents

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Thu, May 5, 2016

    INFORMED consent is a worthy goal, particularly when dealing with medical decisions. But a bill recently passed by the Legislature appeared less likely to increase clarity than to create confusion, which is why Gov. Mary Fallin was right to veto it. House Bill 3016 would have required Oklahoma doctors to provide “relevant information” regarding vaccines' benefits and risks as well as information concerning the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program.

  • Events bring finish line into sight for Trump

    Events bring finish line into sight for Trump

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Thu, May 5, 2016

    “IF we win Indiana, it's over.” Donald Trump said that Monday about the Indiana primary, and how right he was. Soon after the polls closed Tuesday and it became apparent that Trump would be victorious, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz ended his bid for the Republican presidential nomination — providing Trump a clearer path to becoming the GOP's candidate in November. That path widened Wednesday when Ohio Gov. John Kasich said he too was suspending his campaign. Kasich and Cruz, the last of 16 challengers who once were in the field, had done all they could to try to slow Trump's charge. Kasich even agreed not to expend resources in Indiana in hopes of boosting Cruz's chances there — and Trump beat Cruz by a resounding 17 points.

  • Little purpose served by one piece of Oklahoma’s constitution

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Wed, May 4, 2016

    OKLAHOMANS will have the opportunity this year to repeal a section of the state constitution that generates lawsuits against sensible government programs due only to alleged, indirect benefit to people of religious faith. A lawsuit based on a similar provision in Missouri's constitution demonstrates why repeal would be a good thing. Article II, Section 5 of the Oklahoma Constitution declares, “No public money or property shall ever be appropriated, applied, donated, or used, directly or indirectly, for the use, benefit, or support of any sect, church, denomination, or system of religion” or for the benefit of “any priest, preacher, minister, or other religious teacher or dignitary, or sectarian institution as