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  • Residency issue a challenge for some candidates

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Sun, Sep 7, 2014

    Two U.S. senators face questions

  • Scissortales: Railroads have the attention of state, Oklahoma City officials

    The Oklahoman Editorials | Published: Sat, Sep 6, 2014

    RAILROAD crossing. Look out for the cars. Can you spell that without any cold hard cash? By 2016, if everything tracks according to plan, the central part of Oklahoma City will be a railroad “quiet zone.” Elsewhere in the state, the focus isn’t on train noise but railroad safety. Two initiatives will be taking place simultaneously. One is to facilitate downtown residential development by making trains quieter as they pass through the heart of the city. A combined $3.9 million in public and private funds will be used to soften the auditory blow of trains, which affect office workers as well as residents.

  • Capitol repair is no easy task, as many states have found

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Updated: Thu, Sep 4, 2014

    AFTER years of dithering, lawmakers this year finally approved a $120 million bond to repair the crumbling and dilapidated Oklahoma Capitol building. The early stages of that effort are underway. The years of delay undoubtedly mean the project will cost far more than the $120 million allocated. The foot-dragging and its financial consequences may frustrate many citizens, but State Legislatures magazine reports that these politically created challenges are hardly unique to Oklahoma.

  • Iconic musical continues to make Oklahomans proud

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Fri, Sep 5, 2014

    “ICONIC” is an overused word but it seems especially apt to describe a motion picture that last week had a special showing at Oklahoma City Community College. The movie is “Oklahoma!” The musical, which started a lengthy and lucrative run on Broadway in 1943, continues to make Oklahomans proud. It achieved a level of immortality when it was adapted for the big screen in 1955. Like its stage run, the Oscar-winning film also proved to be a huge hit. “Oklahoma!” is a feel-good movie, year after year. Surely the hundreds who saw it at OCCC relived the film’s magic and charm. And before we came to know and love Carrie Underwood, Kristin Chenoweth and Jane Jayroe, the state had another sweetheart. Her name is

  • Harsh rhetoric no answer to U.S. immigration questions

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Thu, Sep 4, 2014

    IN a recent blog post, Washington Post conservative Jennifer Rubin wrote about various studies and reports showing that immigrants move to places where they can find jobs. Among the locations she mentioned was Oklahoma, “where there is high growth, low unemployment and an immigrant population that doubled since 1990.” All three are worth boasting about. But too often when the subject turns to immigration, conservative politicians in Oklahoma respond with boilerplate anti-immigration talking points that may win a few votes but ultimately don’t add up to a whole lot. This is sure to continue if President Barack Obama uses executive actions to produce new immigration policy this fall.

  • Inaction a growing problem for Oklahoma Board of Education

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Thu, Sep 4, 2014

    THE state Board of Education’s action — or, more accurately, inaction — to develop new academic standards for Oklahoma schools is turning into government self-parody. Lawmakers this year repealed Common Core academic standards they had approved in 2010. Because those standards were generally considered an improvement, we opposed the repeal. But that decision has been made. The goal now must be to develop even better standards. So far, it’s not happening. Under the Common Core repeal law, the state Board of Education essentially must unveil new standards in math and language by the start of the 2016 legislative session, in February of that year. This is a short timetable for a significant undertaking that should

  • Government folly at the heart of Oklahoma education waiver loss

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Wed, Sep 3, 2014

    THE U.S. Department of Education has revoked a federal waiver that granted Oklahoma flexible use of some federal school funds and also eased other regulations. Many state politicians responded by announcing, in effect, that they’re shocked that federal money comes with strings attached. Yet despite claims of opposition to federal overreach, there’s little reason to believe those politicians will do what it takes to reduce federal involvement in local education. For several years, Oklahoma has been granted a waiver from provisions of the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law. That waiver was based, in part, on Oklahoma having college- and career-ready academic standards. Common Core academic standards were rated as meeting

  • Election results show school shelters becoming a priority in Oklahoma

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Tue, Sep 2, 2014

    THOSE who claim a $500 million state bond package is necessary to provide storm shelters in all Oklahoma schools are having that argument undermined — not by the political opposition of state legislators, but by voters. Funding for safe room construction is being approved at school districts across Oklahoma using existing processes and local resources. The Aug. 26 elections saw storm shelter measures easily win voter approval in several districts, despite the fact that school bonds require 60 percent supermajorities to pass. In Garvin County, voters in the Elmore City-Pernell school district approved a $2.275 million bond issue to build a middle school that includes a safe room. A pair of bond proposals totaling $120

  • Indiana school testing settlement no model for Oklahoma

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Tue, Sep 2, 2014

    The $3.3 million deal includes no cash payment

  • Labor Day no picnic for millions of Americans

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Mon, Sep 1, 2014

    “PICNIC” is a three-act play taking place in a 24-hour period, Labor Day, in a small Kansas town. As the William Inge drama ends, its two principal characters are headed for Oklahoma in hopes of a better life. Labor Day is a national holiday with undercurrents of the same theme — hope for a better life. But this Labor Day, like the seven or so before it, is no picnic for the millions of Americans who can’t find full-time employment. This is a holiday best known for sending up a flare that said summer was over, school had started, Jerry Lewis was having his annual telethon and football season was underway.

  • Whither the U.S. energy boom? Answer may lie in the halls of government

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Sun, Aug 31, 2014

    WHITHER oil prices? The question is posed here rhetorically, but it’s not an academic question in the halls of commerce and the halls of government. Oil prices are critical to Oklahoma’s economic fortunes and state tax revenues. “Energy price forecasts are highly uncertain, and the current values of futures and options contracts suggest that prices could differ significantly from the forecast levels,” the U.S. Energy Information Administration noted on Aug. 12. In other words, the most reliable answer to the question posed above is, “Who knows?” Indeed, that answer has been apt for decades when the same question was asked. But other answers have never been in short supply. In this area, “experts” abound.

  • 'Local control' not worth much if locals don't participate

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Sun, Aug 31, 2014

    POPULIST sentiment, which remains strong in Oklahoma, sees local government as most responsive to the people because it’s closest to the people. But as has often been noted, “local control” exists only if people actually participate in local elections. Too often they don’t. Ironically, this means that shifting power to local governments can actually increase the clout of special interest groups. Consider Ferguson, Mo., the riot-plagued St. Louis suburb. Although two-thirds of the community’s residents are black, five out of six members on the city council are white. The mayor is white. Six of seven school board members are white; the seventh is Hispanic. The black residents weren’t denied access to the ballot box.

  • ScissorTales: Oklahoma lawsuit over executions has merit

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Sat, Aug 30, 2014

    THIRTEEN minutes into the execution of Clayton Derrell Lockett in April, as Lockett grimaced and writhed, someone closed the blinds on the window that gives witnesses their view of the procedure. Soon after, media witnesses were escorted away. Lockett was declared dead 43 minutes after the execution began. Now a freelance journalist, two news organizations and the American Civil Liberties Union have joined in a lawsuit that seeks to ensure such questionable behavior doesn’t happen again. Plaintiffs want to put in place a restriction on blinds being closed during any execution, and a requirement that the Department of Corrections allow media to witness the IVs being placed in the inmate.

  • USC football player hardly alone in bending the truth

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Fri, Aug 29, 2014

    THE truth will make you free, the Good Book says. So why do so many of us choose to stay shackled? The story of University of Southern California football player Josh Shaw has put the art of deception in the news — again. Shaw showed up at the school last weekend with two badly sprained ankles. By way of explanation, Shaw said he had jumped off a second-story apartment balcony in order to rescue his young nephew from drowning in a swimming pool. USC posted the story on its website. Why not? Shaw, a senior cornerback, is a team captain. And college football programs are always glad to promote feel-good stories, particularly given how many of the other kind they deal with. The story of Shaw’s heroism spread quickly Monday

  • The expense of holding runoff elections raises legitimate questions

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Fri, Aug 29, 2014

    OKLAHOMA’S recent runoff elections determined party nominees in several races, but they didn’t answer a bigger question: Does the benefit of a runoff exceed its cost? Runoff elections cost the state an estimated $800,000. Voter turnout is typically about half the participation rate of the primary election. This can mean runoff elections draw just 10 percent to 15 percent of eligible primary voters. Also, runoff elections lengthen the campaign season. If Oklahoma had no runoff system, the Aug. 26 election would have been the first of the season, rather than the second of three (primary, runoff and general). Consider, too, that the expensive Aug. 26 runoff featured just two statewide races — the Democratic nominating

  • Effort seeks to give everyday Oklahomans a voice in setting policy

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Thu, Aug 28, 2014

    CITIZENS often complain that their voices are ignored by the people who represent them in Washington. How can the average homemaker compete with a K Street lobbyist? A group called “Voice Of the People” wants to do just what its name suggests — provide a voice to everyday Americans regarding important issues such as entitlement reform, defense spending or transportation. Oklahoma is on the ground floor of this effort. It’s one of three states whose residents will be asked to become members of a “Citizen Cabinet” that will study key issues and provide recommendations to members of Congress. Oklahoma will provide a red-state perspective; the other two states are Maryland (a blue state) and Virginia (purple).

  • Cancer group misses mark in its critique of Oklahoma

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Thu, Aug 28, 2014

    A new report by the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network argues that Oklahoma lags in the fight against cancer because the state hasn’t embraced bigger government. This message does a disservice to serious efforts to drive down cancer rates in Oklahoma, including aggressive anti-tobacco initiatives. Among other things, the ACS suggests Oklahoma’s refusal to expand Medicaid under Obamacare makes people more likely to die of cancer. The report states that “providing low-income adults and families access to affordable, comprehensive health care coverage is critical in the fight against cancer.

  • New Oklahoma tobacco compacts a step in the right direction

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Wed, Aug 27, 2014

    AFTER nearly a decade of chaos, the tobacco market in Oklahoma is slowly shifting to a rational structure. A new analysis by the Oklahoma Policy Institute indicates that the change is due in large part to new compacts negotiated by the office of Republican Gov. Mary Fallin. In 2004, Oklahomans voted to increase the excise tax on cigarettes by 80 cents, raising the rate to $1.03 per pack, while also eliminating state and local sales taxes on tobacco products. The result was a substantial net increase in tobacco taxes. The revenue generated was largely directed to health care programs. However, significant flaws in state compacts with tribal governments immediately created major problems.

  • A bucket, some ice water and a phenomenon is born

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Wed, Aug 27, 2014

    CAN anyone predict when a fad or craze will morph into a phenomenon? Fifty years ago it was the Beatles. This summer it’s the ice bucket challenge benefitting the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Association. ALS is also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, named for the Hall of Fame New York Yankee first baseman who suffered, and eventually died (in 1941), from the neurodegenerative disease. This summer also marked the 75th year of his “Luckiest Man on the Face of the Earth” speech, when he emotionally addressed a packed Yankee Stadium. For a public relations specialist, the ice bucket challenge is a dream come true. Nearly every day there are film clips or articles about celebrities and politicians who’ve stepped up

  • On energy front, one standard needed for wildlife protection

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Tue, Aug 26, 2014

    FANS of the foodie movie “The Hundred-Foot Journey” left the theater knowing that there’s more ways to prepare fowl than roasting or frying and there are more kinds of birds to cook than chicken, turkey, ducks and the odd dove. With its focus on fabulous French haute cuisine, the movie makes a viewer wish the popcorn were a bit more sauced up. Far from the picturesque French countryside is America’s Mojave Desert, where a high-tech solar power plant has been cooking birds by the thousands. Literally. BrightSource Energy’s plant generates heat to a point that birds passing over are ignited. Plant workers refer to the unfortunate birds as “streamers,” supposedly for the smoke plume they create when falling from