• Salyer, Stonecipher merit support in OKC council elections

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Tue, Feb 24, 2015

    A week from today, on March 3, voters in parts of Oklahoma City will choose their representatives to the city council. In all, 10 candidates are seeking election in wards 2, 6 and 8. Incumbent Councilwoman Meg Salyer deserves re-election to a third term representing Ward 6, which includes much of downtown and neighborhoods north and south of the central business district. Salyer has worked to improve her ward while showing a willingness to work together with other council members to benefit the city at large. Salyer, 59, says she wants to ensure the ongoing MAPS 3 projects stay on schedule and “exceed the expectations of voters.

  • Why sue if Bible is just another book?

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Mon, Feb 23, 2015

    AS an organization of atheists, the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s members view the Bible as, basically, just another book. Yet their threat to sue some Oklahoma schools that have allowed Bibles to be donated to fifth-graders suggests the foundation’s members believe the Bible is far more powerful than their “freethinker” rhetoric suggests. The foundation is upset that up to 26 Oklahoma schools have allowed officials with Gideons International to donate Bibles to fifth-grade students. A spokesman for the Freedom From Religion Foundation says this violates church-state separation.

  • In attacking Oklahoma state budget hole, every little bit of savings helps

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Sun, Feb 22, 2015

    WHAT does reducing or eliminating state agency “swag” expenditures have to do with filling an Oklahoma budget hole that has grown to a whopping $611.3 million? Some might say not much. After all, the amount identified by state Finance Secretary Preston Doerflinger from fiscal year 2014 — $28.5 million — wouldn’t do much to fill the hole that lawmakers face. But to dismiss Doerflinger’s attack on swag is to endorse the status quo, and state government can’t afford to do that any longer. The categories in the budget system that produce the $28.5 million total include promotional expenses and “Exhibitions, Shows and Special Events.” These are ways that state agencies make their services known to wider

  • In fighting obesity in Oklahoma, good practices more important than policy

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Sun, Feb 22, 2015

    IN the initial installments of “Obese Oklahoma,” a series to explore the problem of obesity in our state, Oklahoman reporters Jaclyn Cosgrove and Nick Trougakos relay that Oklahoma has not only one of the highest childhood obesity rates in the United States, but also the sixth-highest adult obesity rate in the nation. Surprisingly, though, those troubling statistics aren’t the facts that most impressed us from their reports. That honor goes to these related data: Oklahoma ranks dead last among the 50 states in fruit consumption — and 44th in vegetable consumption. Yikes.

  • Oklahoma ScissorTales: For The Oklahoman, it's great to be downtown again

    The Oklahoman Editorials | Published: Sat, Feb 21, 2015

    THOMAS Wolfe had it wrong. You can go home again. The Oklahoman did so these past two weeks, as we moved into our new office building downtown. After 24 years working at the tower located at Britton Road and the Broadway Extension, we’re now smack dab in the heart of this great city, at 100 W Main. People who return to their childhood homes are always struck by how much smaller the place seems. The opposite is true in this case – downtown Oklahoma City is far bigger and better than it was when we pulled up stakes in 1991. The main entrance to our building is on Robinson Avenue, across the street from the grand Colcord Hotel. The Devon Energy tower is just a little ways west of us.

  • One way to avoid high fees is to follow the law

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Fri, Feb 20, 2015

    Criminals face ever growing costs

  • For administration, what passes as foreign policy is passing strange

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Fri, Feb 20, 2015

    WHAT passes for foreign policy in the Obama administration is passing strange. When he’s not leading from behind, Barack Obama is behind in leading. When he’s not declaring al-Qaida to be on the run, he’s on the run from dealing with Islamic terrorists. If ever forceful and consistent leadership was needed, it’s now. Instead, says former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton, “The United States is visible by its absence. …” ISIS militants are running roughshod throughout the Middle East, exporting their brand of terrorism from their base in Iraq and Syria to the entire region, including the beheading of 21 Christians in Libya.

  • Oklahoma lawmakers should give judges more latitude where possible

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Thu, Feb 19, 2015

    A bill under consideration at the Legislature would allow judges in Oklahoma to more frequently do what they’re paid to do — judge — instead of simply handing down sentences prescribed beforehand. This would be a good change and is one lawmakers should support. Rep. Pam Peterson, R-Tulsa, who chairs the House Criminal Justice and Corrections Committee, notes that there are more than 100 crimes on the books that carry with them a mandatory minimum sentence. “The courts’ hands are often tied because of these mandatory minimums,” Peterson said last week. “Longer sentences do not equate to public safety.

  • Oklahoma not alone in struggling with tax credits, incentive programs

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Thu, Feb 19, 2015

    EVERYONE from Gov. Mary Fallin on down has called for a thorough review of Oklahoma’s tax breaks, particularly tax credits and incentive programs intended to encourage business growth. A thorough, competent evaluation is warranted. Even so, that debate will be heated. Any proposed changes will be hard-fought. While this will be of little comfort to legislators, they’re not the only state lawmakers grappling with these issues. Indeed, the first sentence of a recent article in The Detroit News could have easily been lifted from Oklahoma: “Michigan’s taxpayer incentives for job creation are likely to face increased scrutiny from lawmakers in the next few months as state officials wrestle with budget deficits blamed on

  • Larger shortfall enhances need for budget reform in Oklahoma

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Wed, Feb 18, 2015

    THE state budget shortfall has doubled in size, but that’s no reason for hysterics. Instead, it reinforces the need for lawmakers to engage in thorough, deliberate budget writing and address longstanding structural problems. In that regard, 2015 is no different than most years. In December, officials estimated legislators would have $298.1 million less to spend than last year. Now, that figure has surged to $611.3 million. Yet the state has reserves sufficient to address most of that shortfall. State agencies hold $1.7 billion in revolving funds derived from fees or other dedicated revenue sources. Approximately $900 million is unencumbered, and Gov. Mary Fallin has called for redirecting $300 million to fill budget

  • Changes in Oklahoman Opinion staff announced

    Published: Wed, Feb 18, 2015

    Owen Canfield named Opinion editor

  • Oklahoma lawmakers should shoot down drone bill

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Wed, Feb 18, 2015

    “THREE strikes” laws that mandate harsh penalties for repeat criminal offenders are popular with the public. State lawmakers should be glad similar laws aren’t in effect regarding the promotion of strange bills. Consider Senate Bill 492, by Sen. Ralph Shortey, R-Oklahoma City. That legislation would allow Oklahomans to shoot down drones flying above their property without facing any civil liability for resulting damages. On its face, this appears to be a bill that never should have been filed. And once it was filed, it never should have been given a committee hearing. And once it was granted a hearing, it never should have passed. Yet the measure has now cleared all three hurdles — that’s three strikes for

  • Oklahoma lawmaker's CBD bill reflects thought, deliberation

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Tue, Feb 17, 2015

    THE debate over potential medical use of marijuana has generated legislative proposals this year that embody the best, and worst, of the political system. House Bill 2154, by Rep. Jon Echols, R-Oklahoma City, would allow Oklahoma children to participate in clinical trials for cannabidiol. That drug, otherwise referred to as CBD, is extracted from marijuana stalks and does not contain the chemical that creates marijuana’s narcotic affect. There is reason to believe the drug could treat people who suffer seizures due to epilepsy. Echols said his own niece is among the children who suffer seizures that could be reduced through CBD use.

  • Approval of anti-texting measure should be easy call for Oklahoma lawmakers

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Mon, Feb 16, 2015

    OKLAHOMA has moved toward joining the overwhelming majority of states that have told their drivers it’s not OK to text-message at the wheel. Here’s hoping lawmakers, who have ignored the issue long enough, carry this bill all the way to the governor’s desk. House Bill 1965 by Rep. Terry O’Donnell, R-Tulsa, cleared a House committee without opposition last week. This alone is progress. Other attempts in the past seven years to ban texting and driving generally failed to even get a committee hearing because they were spiked by GOP leadership. O’Donnell’s bill would amend the state’s current distracted driving law to expressly ban drivers from “texting, emailing and instant messaging” while the vehicle is

  • Public expressions of patriotism rub some people wrong way by

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Mon, Feb 16, 2015

    ATTACKS on recitations of the Pledge of Allegiance, as well as the ceremonial singing of “The Star Spangled Banner,” continue in America. This is nothing new, but some people are just rubbed the wrong way by public expressions of patriotism. The flag pledge, recited daily by millions of schoolchildren and others at civic events, has had to survive legal challenges to the “under God” clause. Those words were officially added to the pledge more than 60 years ago by President Dwight D. Eisenhower. This is what Ike said after signing the change it into law: “From this day forward, the millions of our schoolchildren will daily proclaim in every city and town, every village and rural school house, the dedication of

  • No good reason to oppose Education Savings Accounts in Oklahoma

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Sun, Feb 15, 2015

    VARIOUS groups want increased funding for kindergarten through 12th-grade schools this year. The harsh reality of the state’s budget situation makes meeting those demands near to impossible. Yet one proposal, creation of Education Savings Accounts (ESAs), could allow legislators to increase per-pupil funding without a dramatic spending hike — while also increasing children’s education options. This is a win-win for Oklahoma. Under bills filed by Rep. Jason Nelson, R-Oklahoma City, and Sen. Clark Jolley, R-Edmond, much of the per-pupil funding used to educate a child could instead be deposited in an individual bank account. Parents would be given a debit card and allowed to use that account to customize their child’s

  • Oklahoma ScissorTales: Prescription drug bill far from perfect, but it's a start

    The Oklahoman Editorials | Published: Sat, Feb 14, 2015

    ONE tenet of the sausage-making that goes on in the Legislature is that members shouldn’t let “perfect” be the enemy of “good.” This is the case with a prescription drug bill sought by Gov. Mary Fallin. The original goal was to require doctors to check the state’s online database of patient prescriptions each time they prescribed three classes of highly addictive painkillers. The intent is to curb prescription drug abuse in Oklahoma, which is a critical problem, and reduce the number of these pills in circulation — last year, 9.7 million prescriptions were written, enough to give 50 pain pills to every person in the state. Some doctors balked at the original proposal, and it stalled in 2014.

  • Rough ride underway for OKC, but economy will turn around

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Fri, Feb 13, 2015

    THE Greater Oklahoma City Chamber’s annual economic forecast noted the cooling of the state’s economy after two years of post-recession growth. It said the oil and gas industry “moved aggressively to adjust to a new paradigm” and “shed jobs as workforces were realigned to meet the needs of future strategic operations.” Note: This forecast was the one the chamber issued for 2014, not this year. It was prepared at a time when oil prices were as much as twice what they are now. The shedding of jobs was strategic rather than necessary to remain solvent. As for 2015, the chamber said this month, expect “an economic shock from oil price fluctuations.” It’s already happening as the rig count falls and energy

  • 'Fake news' anchors depend on the real stuff

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Fri, Feb 13, 2015

    What a week for journalism and “journalism.” First, NBC’s Brian Williams was taken out of the anchor’s chair for at least six months for embellishing a story about the Iraq war. Allegations continue to be heard that Williams has a history of coloring the news. Then Jon Stewart, anchor of “The Daily Show,” announced he’s leaving Comedy Central and his brand of “news” mixed with satire and commentary. Journalists rushed to defend Williams even as they distanced themselves from his problem with truthiness (to use a phrase coined by Stewart’s Comedy Central colleague, Stephen Colbert). Adulation for Stewart was over the top, but it’s hard to argue with his success.

  • Lawsuit over earthquake damage could shake up Oklahoma energy industry

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Fri, Feb 13, 2015

    Suing the makers of the fertilizer that Timothy McVeigh used to make a mega-bomb was the epitome of frivolous litigation. That’s not the case with an attempt to recover damages from the most powerful earthquake recorded in Oklahoma. Although we find the lawsuit filed against oil companies to be of questionable legal merit, it may not be completely frivolous. Indeed, the link between salt-water disposal wells and seismic activity is a burgeoning area of science. But it’s hardly settled science. Shortly after the modern era of earthquake swarms broke out in Oklahoma, some seismologists began studying the alleged link. Regulators, including the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, are taking the matter seriously. Last