Top Stories


  • Status quo always resists school improvement

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Mon, Jun 30, 2014

    A state schools superintendent pushes to improve public education, only to face unhinged resistance from administrators and teacher unions. Before long, legislators put their fingers to the wind and side with status-quo forces. This isn’t a description of state schools Superintendent Janet Barresi’s struggles in Oklahoma. It’s a description of the challenges facing Kevin Huffman, education commissioner of Tennessee. And it describes the challenges facing serious education reform efforts virtually everywhere. Critics of reform efforts often say they want to improve schools, but somehow they never get around to doing it. Instead they complain, fabricating one excuse after another, while pretending that their intransigence

  • Time to review wind power initiatives in Oklahoma

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Sun, Jun 29, 2014

    IN recent years, Oklahoma lawmakers have authorized multiple tax incentives to encourage wind power development. The Oklahoma Property Rights Association compellingly argues that these incentives do little more than throw taxpayer money down a politically correct hole. Members of the association believe wind farm regulation should be increased to reduce negative impact on adjoining property owners. But the group also argues that wind energy tax incentives far exceed any economic benefit. Wind energy boosters brag that their industry has generated multimillion-dollar investments in Oklahoma. But the association estimates the state will provide $1.4 billion in direct subsidies over the next 10 years. Currently, wind farms

  • Democratic Party freefall continues in Sooner State

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Sun, Jun 29, 2014

    THE results of Tuesday’s Democratic primary for U.S. Senate said a lot about the sad state of the party in Oklahoma. State Sen. Connie Johnson of Oklahoma City, a well-known member of the Legislature and a staunch defender of traditional Democratic ideals, was one of three Democrats who filed for the Senate seat being vacated by retiring incumbent Tom Coburn, R-Muskogee. The other two Democrats, as the Tulsa World put it in a news story last month, “are not considered serious candidates.” Yet Johnson managed to win only 44 percent of the vote Tuesday and therefore faces a runoff in late August. Jim Rogers, a perennial candidate who generally does nothing more than stand on a street corner holding a sign, received 35

  • ScissorTales: City, county governments on the go nationally

    The Oklahoman Editorials | Published: Sat, Jun 28, 2014

    OKLAHOMA City plans to add 92 positions to the municipal payroll under terms of a budget approved this month by the city council. That’s a 2 percent increase. Nationwide, city and county governments are adding jobs at the fastest pace in five years, according to a report in USA Today. “Stronger economic growth is driving higher municipal revenue,” the newspaper said, “allowing local governments to add police officers and firefighters, reopen shuttered parks and make long-deferred street repairs.” Local government is a growth area when it comes to employment, but staffing levels remain below the peak in late 2008. More than 14 million people work for city and county governments.

  • Tom Coburn's report on VA a reminder of why he'll be missed

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Fri, Jun 27, 2014

    U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn is his usual straight-talking self in a critical report about the Department of Veterans Affairs. The title says it all: “Friendly Fire: Death, Delay & Dismay at the VA.” It’s also exceedingly thorough: the report is 119 pages and includes 1,047 footnotes, a testament to the work of a staff regarded as one of the best on Capitol Hill. So this isn’t some fly-by assessment of the VA intended solely to score political points. It’s a detailed look at waste, mismanagement and politics within the agency. What Coburn, R-Muskogee, has to say should concern any American. “Veterans who have survived war should no longer have to battle with bureaucracy to access the best possible health care,” he

  • Oklahoma Republican lawmakers' votes contradict their rhetoric

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Fri, Jun 27, 2014

    BACK when Democrats ruled the legislative roost in Oklahoma, it was often said that many of those lawmakers campaigned as conservatives back home but voted like liberals in Oklahoma City. A new legislative report card indicates that this playbook is now being used by a surprising number of Republicans in the Legislature. The Oklahoma Central Parent Legislative Action Committee (PLAC) bills itself as “a nonpartisan group,” but it has a thoroughly liberal-leaning agenda. The organization supports tax increases, opposes tax cuts and demands increased government spending with minimal state oversight. The group also opposes introducing market forces into public education and supports legislation to restrict parents’ educational

  • With easy Senate primary victory, James Lankford's remarkable rise continues

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Thu, Jun 26, 2014

    THE phenomenal rise of James Lankford continues apace. Lankford is one election away from the U.S. Senate and a heavy favorite to win that election. Lankford came out of political no man’s land four years ago to capture an open U.S. House seat. He had no political experience or background and limited name recognition. What he did have, in abundance, was an impressive grasp of the issues and the ability to articulate his views. In 2010, Lankford overcame a field of six other Republicans vying for the 5th Congressional District seat. On Tuesday, Lankford overcame a field of six other Republicans to win the Senate nomination in a landslide. All the more impressive is that Lankford beat the popular and well-known former state

  • Report highlights charter schools' successes

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Wed, Jun 25, 2014

    THE undeniable success of many public charter schools has embarrassed leaders of lower-performing traditional public schools. In response, establishment critics often claim charter schools only look better in comparison because they discourage special education students from attending. A new report by the Center on Reinventing Public Education blows that argument out of the water. Not only do charter schools accept students with individualized education programs (IEPs), but those students often experience such success at charter schools that they no longer require an IEP. The report focused on schools in the Denver system, but its findings mirror similar conclusions elsewhere. In kindergarten, the report found 5.

  • Oklahoma needs clear execution protocols to keep public's trust

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Wed, Jun 25, 2014

    OKLAHOMA is a pro-death penalty state. This was clearly evident in letters to the editor and online comments following the execution of Clayton Derrell Lockett in late April. Lockett writhed on the gurney after the drugs were administered. He didn’t die until more than 40 minutes after the execution started. State prison officials said his vein collapsed where the IV had been inserted in his leg. Preliminary results of an autopsy sought by Lockett’s attorneys said the IV hadn’t been placed properly. Yet the general sentiment among Oklahomans was that botched or not, Lockett got what he deserved; any suffering he may have experienced paled in comparison with his victim — a 19-year-old woman who was beaten, shot twice

  • Tuesday's primary results will decide most major Oklahoma races

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Tue, Jun 24, 2014

    FOR all practical purposes, the makeup of Oklahoma’s 2015-16 congressional delegation will be decided Tuesday, with the definite exception of one U.S. House seat and the possible exception of one of the two U.S. Senate races. In a state that hasn’t sent a Democrat to the U.S. Senate in 24 years, the Republican primary and (sometimes) runoff effectively determines who will represent Oklahoma in Congress. For Republicans, then, voting Tuesday is critical. One of the five U.S. House seats has already been filled: No one filed against Rep. Jim Bridenstine, R-Tulsa. Incumbent Reps. Frank Lucas, of Cheyenne, Tom Cole, of Moore, and Markwayne Mullin, of Westville, have challengers in the Republican primary. Cole, Lucas and

  • Minimum wage warriors ignore reality

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Tue, Jun 24, 2014

    OBAMA administration officials and congressional Democrats have renewed their call to increase the federal minimum wage, visiting businesses that pay above the wage floor for entry-level work. Yet those examples don’t prove the need for a higher federal minimum wage. They actually prove that such laws are unnecessary. Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez and U.S. Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., recently met with kitchen workers at Sweetgreen, a District of Columbia restaurant that offers a starting salary of $8.50 an hour. Perez said Sweetgreen shows that, “You don’t have to make a profit on the backs of your workers.” But the fact that Sweetgreen already pays a starting wage above the federal minimum shows that market

  • Outcry over Medicaid copays is unwarranted

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Mon, Jun 23, 2014

    SOME Oklahomans on Medicaid could face higher copays next year. Critics are loudly decrying this possibility. Yet we doubt most Oklahomans will lose sleep worrying that a recipient might have to pay $4 for medicine. The Oklahoma Health Care Authority, which administers Medicaid, faces a shortfall due to federal funding cuts. To help make up the difference, agency officials may raise the copayments that patients pay. Oklahoma Policy Institute, a think tank that promotes increased government spending, believes this is unacceptable.

  • Report offers more evidence of need for additional oil pipelines

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Mon, Jun 23, 2014

    THE latest turmoil in the Middle East has sent oil prices up, with higher gasoline prices on the way. Good thing a Canadian pipeline project has finally been approved. No. Not that pipeline. As predicted, the Canadian government isn’t waiting for the Obama administration to approve the Keystone XL pipeline that would cross the international border and make its way to Oklahoma. The Northern Gateway pipeline project still faces many hurdles, but it’s clear that Canada will find a way to export its oil sands. In contrast to Keystone, Northern Gateway would cross some truly pristine wilderness areas along its 731-mile route. Standard arguments will be used against the project, including safety concerns.

  • The Oklahoman endorsement: James Lankford worthy of GOP nomination in U.S. Senate race

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Sun, Jun 22, 2014

    BOTH of Oklahoma’s U.S. Senate seats will be filled this year, a historically unusual turn of events. The prospect of a return to Republican control makes all Senate races especially important to conservatives. This state has an opportunity to fill its two seats with experienced politicians who know how to govern and who will advance the conservative cause. Jim Inhofe, R-Tulsa, is up for re-election for a six-year term. In Tuesday’s primary, Inhofe faces four GOP opponents. None has provided a reason to reject Inhofe. A national leader on defense issues, he is a proven commodity and tenacious fighter for the state’s best interests. The Oklahoman enthusiastically endorses Inhofe.

  • Domestic violence law could save lives in Oklahoma

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Sun, Jun 22, 2014

    AMID the political grandstanding that tends to take center stage during any legislative session, lawmakers do occasionally get it right. This was the case in the 2014 session, when a bill designed to reduce domestic violence got the nod from the Legislature. House Bill 2526 by Rep. Kay Floyd, D-Oklahoma City, and Sen. David Holt, R-Bethany, takes effect Nov. 1. It will require police officers to ask suspected victims of domestic violence a series of questions. The “lethality assessment protocol” will help officers determine the level of danger that victims might be facing and require officers to contact a victim advocacy organization. “Intervention is immediate,” Floyd said in a news release.

  • ScissorTales: Venerable Oklahoma City charity charting a new course

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Sat, Jun 21, 2014

    FEED The Children has done much on its own through the years to fight hunger around the world. It intends to solicit a little help in carrying out its mission going forward. Kevin Hagan, president and CEO of Feed The Children, announced this week that the Oklahoma City-based charity will collaborate with other groups to find ways to combat childhood hunger. Feed The Children and other such organizations must get away from the old model of working separately and apart from other agencies, Hagan said.

  • A number of worthwhile topics in Oklahoma House interim study requests

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Fri, Jun 20, 2014

    STATE Rep. Richard Morrissette has tried for years to craft workable policy to reduce the number of Eastern red cedar trees in Oklahoma. He will keep trying as he enters the last of his six two-year terms in the Legislature. Morrissette, D-Oklahoma City, who drew no challenger for the November election, has requested an interim study to look at failed policies of the past, and “promising options to finally address threats to life, land and our Oklahoma economy.” His is one of 93 House interim study proposals that House Speaker Jeff Hickman will be vetting. Simply put, Eastern red cedar trees are a menace. An estimated 462 million of them are growing across Oklahoma. They can consume up to 40 gallons of water daily, which

  • Goverment can't outperform private sector

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Thu, Jun 19, 2014

    ONE of many questionable ideas baked into Obamacare was creation of new “nonprofit” entities to sell insurance. Liberals argued that these health insurance cooperatives would increase competition and drive down insurance prices. Instead, most of those co-ops are now flailing, despite getting more than $2 billion from the federal government. Fourteen of 23 co-ops established under Obamacare have enrolled far fewer people than projected, justifying concerns over their financial viability. Some enrollment numbers discussed at a recent congressional hearing were shocking. Minuteman Health in Massachusetts expected to enroll 37,003 people in 2014. As of April 15, only 1,435 had signed up. Tennessee Health Alliance enrolled only 354;

  • IRS lost emails excuse won't fly with American public

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Thu, Jun 19, 2014

    A reader called The Oklahoman on Monday, angry about her dealings with the Internal Revenue Service. She had gone online to get a copy of her 2014 tax return, needed as part of a college financial aid application, and was notified that she hadn’t filed a return this spring. That was incorrect. A phone call to her bank confirmed that the IRS had managed to cash the tax payment the woman included with her filing in April. The agency had simply lost her return. So yes, it’s certainly possible that documents and the like can go missing at the sprawling government agency. But officials at IRS must believe Americans are dolts if they think the public buys the story that two years of emails involving former IRS bigwig Lois

  • For most Oklahoma politicians, inertia is preferable to reform

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Wed, Jun 18, 2014

    STATE Rep. David Dank reheated an old chestnut recently when he marveled at the waste evident in Oklahoma state government. Dank, R-Oklahoma City, made particular mention of common education and the county commissioner system. “There are 515 school districts,” Dank said. “There are 231 county commissioner districts, each with its own road maintenance barn, road building equipment and crew. That’s absurd.” He’s right. It’s also an arrangement that’s apparently here to stay. Trying to change it requires the sort of political courage that’s in short supply at the Capitol. Few lawmakers are willing to take the heat that comes with the slightest suggestion that changes be made.