• Oklahoma rural charter bill increases opportunity

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Mon, Jun 29, 2015

    OKLAHOMA has some nationally ranked charter schools, but has also maintained severe restrictions on charter school expansion. Indeed Oklahoma “was one of the few remaining states that restricted the growth of charter schools just to, basically, urban areas,” Todd Ziebarth, senior vice president for state advocacy and support for the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, recently noted to The Oklahoman’s editorial writers. Nationally, Ziebarth said, roughly 55 percent of charter schools exist in urban areas, while 45 percent are in “suburban areas, rural areas and small towns.” Oklahoma was an outlier. But thanks to a new law, students living outside the urban core may now have greater public school

  • Impact of opening primary may be limited

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Sun, Jun 28, 2015

    OKLAHOMA Democrats may soon allow registered independents to vote in Democratic primaries. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it means Democrats hope to expand their party’s appeal by courting people who aren’t always that interested in politics. Registered independents are often portrayed as political mavericks who disagree (or agree) with major agenda items touted by both political parties — for example, someone who is pro-choice but anti-tax. But in many cases (although by no means all), a registered independent is someone who doesn’t pay much attention to politics.

  • For officials, things to name before 'I do' is a new dilemma

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Sun, Jun 28, 2015

    THE mystery of the history of “Mr.” and “Mrs.” is steeped in tradition. The misery of “Mr.” and Mrs.” is temporarily in the domain of government clerks who register marriages. Traditional, gender-specific terms such as “bride” and groom” and “Mr.” and “Mrs.” are no longer acceptable. Lest anyone think the advent of legal same-sex marriages is clouding traditional terminology, such nomenclature has been cloudy for centuries. What to put on a marriage license application form is the conundrum now, but the definitions of “Mr.” and “Mrs.” have continuously evolved. In recent years, “Ms.” became an acceptable title for women who wished not to be identified as married or unmarried. Men had

  • Oklahoma ScissorTales: A lawsuit to keep an eye on

    The Oklahoman Editorials | Published: Sat, Jun 27, 2015

    JERRY Fent is at it again, this time going after a favorite target of Oklahoma budget writers — the Unclaimed Property Fund. Fent, an Oklahoma City attorney, has filed several lawsuits against the state through the years, trying to ensure that legislators’ actions are constitutional and that public funds are spent properly. He’s won some and lost some. Fent has challenged the way various bond issues were put together. He has challenged the constitutionality of spending tax dollars on Oklahoma’s presidential primary election. He once challenged a law that gave a tax break to the working poor. This time, he contends that the state’s use of Unclaimed Property Fund monies to fill budget holes amounts to a Ponzi

  • Legal clarity loses in ACA subsidies ruling

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Fri, Jun 26, 2015

    THE U.S. Supreme Court’s decision Thursday upholding Affordable Care Act subsidies in states with federal exchanges means the status quo will continue in health care. In other words, premiums will continue to rise, consumer choices will be artificially restricted, and access to care will be limited for many. This is what passes for “victory” with the Obama administration. To recap: Among other things, Obamacare requires citizens to buy insurance policies. To offset the higher costs created by the law’s mandates, some citizens can receive subsidies if they buy coverage through a state exchange. The plain meaning of the law indicates subsidies aren’t available to people in states that did not build their own exchange, but

  • Prospect of long-term road bill from D.C. is encouraging

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Fri, Jun 26, 2015

    OKLAHOMA’S Jim Inhofe regularly ranks as one of the most conservative members of the U.S. Senate, a distinction he wears proudly. Sen. Barbara Boxer, Democrat from California, is at the other end of the ideological spectrum. Yet these two see eye to eye on the need to take care of America’s roads and bridges. Polarization in the nation’s capital? It’s not in evidence on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, where Inhofe, R-Tulsa, is chairman and Boxer is the ranking member. This week the pair announced agreement on a six-year highway funding bill that, if approved by Congress, will mean nearly $4.2 billion for Oklahoma during that time. “I think if you have a heartbeat and a pulse, you understand this

  • Both parties in agreement on removing Confederate flag

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Thu, Jun 25, 2015

    THE killings of nine black church members in Charleston, S.C., have prompted a renewed and necessary debate about state displays of the Confederate flag. The gunman, Dylann Roof, was notably fond of Confederate imagery. The flag debate is typically portrayed as a Republican dilemma. However, Republicans have often been advocates of removing the Confederate flag from public displays. South Carolina first flew the Confederate flag over its Capitol in 1962, when Democrats ruled the roost in that state. A 2000 report by the Georgia Senate put that act in clear historic context.

  • Broken families contribute to Oklahoma's social ills

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Thu, Jun 25, 2015

    OKLAHOMA has a large number of fractured families, and also is a state bedeviled by more than its share of social ills. It’s not a stretch to say the former impacts the latter. Indeed in an article last week, David Leonhardt of The New York Times wrote about a geographical analysis conducted by University of Virginia sociologist W. Bradford Wilcox and psychologist Nicholas Zill that explored the issue of single-parent households. In Oklahoma, according to Census Bureau data mined by Wilcox and Zill, only 39 percent of children live with both of their married, biological parents. The percentages were similar in a stretch of Southern states ranging from New Mexico to the Deep South and up through Appalachia.

  • Cost-shifting helps account for government programs' 'savings'

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Updated: Wed, Jun 24, 2015

    THE folks at the Oklahoma Policy Institute generally favor bigger government over private-sector solutions, and they advocate that cause with vigor. Recently, the group caught our attention when it touted a story saying government health care programs have “done a better job of controlling costs per patient than private health insurance.” That’s certainly counter-intuitive. Government is efficient and the private sector is wasteful? If true, that would suggest we’d all be better off in a truly government-run system like that in Britain. A closer look at the data shows something can be technically accurate without being a legitimate selling point.

  • Hoping for quick end to OKC bus station challenge

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Wed, Jun 24, 2015

    AT one time, the Union Bus Station in Oklahoma City served a useful purpose. Now the building sits abandoned and decaying at the corner of Sheridan and Walker avenues. One member of the city council wishes for that to continue. Ed Shadid, who represents Ward 2 on the council, is going to court this week in an effort to keep the bus station site from being put to productive use. Work that developers had hoped would be well under way, on a project that will benefit the city, has instead been on ice. The bus station was built in 1941, to great acclaim. Developers said the Art Moderne building would be “one of the finest, most up-to-date in the Southwest.” It included a concession stand, coffee shop and baggage rooms.

  • HUD scheme part of Obama's vision of big-government rule

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Updated: Tue, Jun 23, 2015

    The black population in Marin County, Calif., is less than 3 percent of the total. The median home value is $781,900, compared with $366,400 for the state as a whole. The median household income in Marin County is $90,839 ($61,094 for the state). The county would thus seem to be a prime area for the Obama administration’s latest reach for utopia. The Department of Housing and Urban Development plans to help end neighborhood segregation by funding “affordable” housing in affluent communities. Call it the Big Rock Candy Condominiums. That’s a reference to the Depression-era fantasy about the poor finding an Eden replete with lemonade springs and streams of alcohol trickling down rocks.

  • Altruism not evident in carbon tax endorsement

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Updated: Mon, Jun 22, 2015

    ON these pages, we’ve consistently taken pro-business and pro-energy stances. This is because we believe free-market forces ultimately generate prosperity for the greatest number of people in the most efficient manner. But we’re not blind to the fact that, individually, business officials can pursue narrow self-interests in short-sighted ways. This includes promoting government policies whose broad effect is decidedly negative. Such appears to be the case with the recent decision of officials at several international oil companies to endorse a carbon tax, supposedly to combat global warming. Don’t let the public relations spin fool you: That action is primarily about destroying a competing energy source’s market share

  • Supreme Court's car tag decision raises concerns about speech

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Updated: Mon, Jun 22, 2015

    A new U.S. Supreme Court ruling declares specialized license plates are a form of government speech. That may make life easier for state officials dealing with potentially controversial license requests, but it also appears to dilute individuals’ free-speech rights, as several justices noted in dissent. The Texas Sons of Confederate Veterans sought a special plate featuring a Confederate battle flag. A Texas state board denied the request, saying the message would be controversial and offensive to many citizens. To defend the rejection, the attorney general of Texas argued that specialty plates represent the words and views of the state, not an individual.

  • Oklahoma flooding highlights need to attend to smaller dams

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Updated: Mon, Jun 22, 2015

    DAM safety is a key component of overall public safety. It can’t be taken for granted, and dam safety measures could be better funded in Oklahoma. As the state’s dams continue to age, overseeing their integrity is more critical than ever. The above is a paraphrase of what we wrote last July, when the problem was the weakening of dams due to prolonged drought. The concern was that these weakened conditions would manifest into public safety concerns when the rains came again. And come they did. The state has experienced one of the wettest springs on record. Dams that were taken for granted during the drought are no longer ignored. Their function to control flooding is made manifest with swelling water levels. The threat to

  • Oklahoma state budget far larger than what's appropriated

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Sun, Jun 21, 2015

    THE state-appropriated budget approved by lawmakers this year totaled $7.1 billion. That’s quite a sum, and interest groups often loudly insist they should get a larger slice of that particular pie. Here’s the problem: That figure represents only a fraction of total state government spending in Oklahoma. The real total is at least $24 billion after accounting for funds reaped outside the legislative budget process. Critics believe the gap between those two figures, and the disproportionate attention given to the smaller figure directly set by lawmakers, has distorted budget discussions at the Oklahoma Capitol for years. But a new transparency effort could shift that dynamic.

  • Oklahoma ScissorTales: For mentally ill, a better way?

    The Oklahoman Editorials | Published: Sat, Jun 20, 2015

    MIKE Brose, an advocate for the mentally ill in Oklahoma, asked a good question recently about how the mentally ill are affected by the lack of treatment options available in the state. “My standard rhetorical question is, would it be OK if somebody in a diabetic coma or some sort of medical crisis always had to be transported across the state?” Brose said. The answer, of course, is no. Yet the practice is routine for those suffering from mental illness when they encounter law enforcement. Because medical assistance isn’t widely available, police departments spend considerable time and money each year driving men and women to treatment facilities elsewhere once those people have been arrested following a trouble call.

  • No easy choices when trimming Oklahoma DHS budget

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Fri, Jun 19, 2015

    HOW would you like to be Ed Lake, director of the Oklahoma Department of Human Services, and have to figure out where to make cuts to an agency that’s charged with tasks ranging from caring for abused and neglected children to issuing food stamps to helping feed the state’s elderly? It’s a no-win situation of the first order, and Lake is living it. He announced recently that DHS plans to add about 300 child welfare workers but also do away with roughly 200 positions elsewhere in the agency. Lake’s budget for the new fiscal year beginning July 1 will include less money for programs that aid the elderly and the mentally disabled, among other things. “How sad is that?” said Mary Brinkley, who heads an elderly

  • ‘Late’ start not likely to hurt Jeb Bush’s presidential chances

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Updated: Thu, Jun 18, 2015

    IT says a little something about the state of American politics that announcing your candidacy for president eight months before the first primary can be viewed as potentially a little late. On Tuesday, the day after former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush announced he would seek the Republican nomination, the Page 1 headline in USA Today read, “Time may have cost Bush luster.” The story noted that by waiting until mid-June to of‌ficially declare, Bush has added himself to an already crowded field of GOP candidates. In addition, the “long delay has left him scrambling to maintain control even of his own state.” That’s a reference to U.S. Sen.

  • Smart meter 'opt outs' best handled by market

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Updated: Thu, Jun 18, 2015

    THOSE who wanted to “opt out” of utility smart meters may be learning an old lesson: Be careful what you wish, because you just might get it. Of‌ficials with Public Service Co. of Oklahoma have announced that customers who prefer to keep old meters, which have to be manually checked by a meter reader, can do so. But the company will charge a $28 monthly fee, as well as a one-time fee of $183 for replacing the existing meter. PSO serves around 540,000 customers and is in the process of installing smart meters across its system to track consumption levels and transmit information without employing an army of meter readers.

  • State has seen stories similar to that of senator

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Wed, Jun 17, 2015

    Rick Brinkley's tale continues to unfold.