• Oklahoma DOC director encouraged by tenor of conversation

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Sun, Jun 14, 2015

    FOURTEEN months on the job as director of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections, Robert Patton feels pretty good about things. That’s not to say the DOC doesn’t continue to face significant immediate and long-term challenges, because it does. But Patton says there is reason to be encouraged. In particular he points to the reception he and staff received from the Legislature this year. After DOC received a flat budget a year ago, lawmakers appropriated $14 million more for the fiscal year that begins July 1. And, they passed some bills sought by the agency, including a few that have the potential to ease the burden on the system in the coming years. “Corrections was on everybody’s mind during the session,” Patton

  • Impact of Obamacare subsidy decision could be positive in Oklahoma

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Sun, Jun 14, 2015

    THE U.S. Supreme Court will soon rule on a case challenging Obamacare insurance subsidies in states with federal exchanges, including Oklahoma. President Barack Obama says this challenge’s success would be devastating for many Americans. A greater concern should be that elimination of subsidies would dramatically highlight how the Affordable Care Act has made insurance far less affordable. Under Obamacare, citizens not on Medicaid and not covered by employer insurance can buy coverage through a state exchange. Officials in Oklahoma didn’t build a state exchange, instead relying on one operated by the federal government (as did 36 other states). Based on income, individuals can get subsidized coverage through those

  • Oklahoma ScissorTales: Better days ahead for OKC's First National Center

    The Oklahoman Editorials | Published: Sat, Jun 13, 2015

    OKLAHOMA City’s grand old First National Center has struggled since the failure of First National Bank in 1985. That was followed years later by the departure of its successor institution, Boatman’s Bank. In 2010, the building went into foreclosure. But news this week offers reason to be encouraged about the future of the 33-story art deco building, which opened in 1931. The Oklahoman’s Steve Lackmeyer reported that a California developer is buying the building and plans to transform it into a mix of offices, retail, upscale apartments and a hotel. Stephen Goodman told Lackmeyer he is set to close the $23 million purchase by early August. Redevelopment would begin within a year, at a cost estimated at $140 million.

  • Slow uptick in unvaccinated Oklahoma children is cause for concern

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Fri, Jun 12, 2015

    THE number of unvaccinated Oklahoma kindergartners on the first day of the 2014-15 school year was miniscule. But it was larger than the previous year, and about three times larger than a decade ago. That’s a concern. The fact is that childhood vaccinations save lives, which is why states such as Oklahoma mandate that children receive their vaccinations before starting kindergarten, unless an exception is granted for medical, religious or other reasons. Yet another fact is that some parents don’t see the benefit in having their child immunized. An example is Angie Hepp, a registered nurse in Claremore who was quoted Sunday by The Oklahoman’s Jaclyn Cosgrove in a story about the increase in parents opting out of having

  • 2015 shaping up to be a good year for school choice

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Fri, Jun 12, 2015

    Oklahoma is part of the story

  • Commitment of parents, others key to OKC school district turnaround

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Thu, Jun 11, 2015

    Seven-point strategic plan unveiled

  • U.S. Rep. Steve Russell: VA's core mission needs to be altered

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Thu, Jun 11, 2015

    U.S. Rep. Steve Russell has spent most of his adult life in the military. He’s proud of his service and clearly cares about the men and women who defend the United States. So his views regarding the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs deserve attention. “Talk about waste and fraud,” Russell, R-Oklahoma City, told The Oklahoman editorial board in a recent meeting. “I have come to the view that the VA can no longer be reformed.” He added, “I don’t know that you completely blow it up, but you blow up big portions of it.” The VA has become notorious for routine failure to provide quality medical care, and its reputation for financial boondoggles only continues to grow.

  • Good news about fracking prompts hysteria from environmentalists

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Wed, Jun 10, 2015

    They say exhaustive EPA study is ‘incomplete’

  • Hillary Clinton looking to score points with voter suppression argument

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Tue, Jun 9, 2015

    She is trying to appeal to youths, minorities

  • At Oklahoma Legislature, rural lawmakers sometimes go against rural interests

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Tue, Jun 9, 2015

    BALANCING the state budget at a time of shortfall can be a cutthroat process. This means spending decisions may not always be based on what actions will bring the most benefit to the most people, but on political gamesmanship, as Sen. Jason Smalley recently touted. This year, lawmakers approved a $7.1 billion general appropriations bill that addressed a $611 million shortfall by tapping a wide range of one-time funding sources. Among other things, the budget redirected $50 million from the County Improvement for Roads and Bridges (CIRB) Program. That fund helps counties pay for large road and bridge projects that might otherwise be unaffordable because of their size. The CIRB diversion proved one of the most controversial

  • Innovation is likely to drive next U.S. shale boom

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Mon, Jun 8, 2015

    WHEN low energy prices close a door, technology and efficiencies can open a window. Welcome to the portals of today’s fiscal challenges for oil and gas producers and a suggested new shale boom that, like the first, will be entered via technological breakthroughs rather than price parameters. As to the “window” in this scenario, engineering college professor Mark P. Mills puts the matter in academic terms. Mills calls it “Shale 2.0.” It’s the next course in a shale revolution that (again, like the first) isn’t dependent on high oil prices but American innovation. Innovation extends not only to exploration technology.

  • FOIA improvements will likely take a change in administration

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Mon, Jun 8, 2015

    THE Obama administration kept David McCraw plenty busy last year. McCraw, an attorney for The New York Times, filed eight lawsuits in 2014 as a result of the federal government’s handling of Freedom of Information Act requests. “Much of that litigation was driven not by actual disagreement about legal issues, but in response to unacceptable delays by agencies,” McCraw told the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. “Forcing requesters to litigate to get a response is a waste of resources.” Not to mention flat wrong. President Barack Obama took office in January 2011 promising to oversee the most transparent administration ever, but instead his has been the opposite of transparent.

  • Education Savings Accounts a winner in Nevada. Why not Oklahoma too?

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Sun, Jun 7, 2015

    ONE of the major black marks of this year’s legislative session was the failure to authorize Education Savings Accounts for Oklahoma students, not even for low-income children in chronically low-performing schools. So we hope Oklahoma legislators pay attention to Nevada, where Republican lawmakers are proving far less timid and far more conservative. This month Nevada became the first state in the country to pass a universal Education Savings Account (ESA) law. ESAs allow parents to receive a debit card with a share of the state aid allocated for a child’s education. That money can then be used for private school tuition or a wide range of other education services. Several states offer such programs for select groups of

  • Strain is a constant with indigent defense system

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Sun, Jun 7, 2015

    WHEN lawmakers produced the state budget for fiscal year 2016, Joe Robertson was glad to learn that his agency, the Oklahoma Indigent Defense System, hadn’t taken a cut. Now if only something more could be done about the system’s swollen case file. The flat budget (just over $16 million) was appreciated because, with $611 million less to work with than last year, there wasn’t much ability for spending increases anywhere. A flat budget was a sign the Legislature prioritized the OIDS over a lot of other entities. Yet the agency picked up 4,400 more cases this fiscal year than it did a year earlier. Its overall caseload stands at about 44,000 per year — a tremendous undertaking for Robertson and his staff. “We’re

  • Oklahoma ScissorTales: One policy not worth copying

    The Oklahoman Editorials | Published: Sat, Jun 6, 2015

    LAST year Denton, Texas, passed an ordinance banning horizontal fracturing in city limits. This year, lawmakers in Oklahoma passed a law that keeps municipalities from doing the same. Our state policymakers have always paid close attention to what goes on in Texas. Here’s hoping they don’t get any ideas from the Texas legislature’s vote this week to allow licensed faculty, staff, visitors and students older than 21 to carry concealed handguns on college campuses. “There are various caveats, and neither side of the debate feels satisfied with the final version of the bill, but the net result will be more guns in classrooms,” Matt Valentine, who teaches writing and photography and the University of Texas, wrote at

  • Oklahoma should do more to expose abusive teachers

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Fri, Jun 5, 2015

    A lawsuit accusing Hollis school officials of allowing a teacher to resign and keep her teaching credentials despite allegations of sexually abusing a student highlights a growing problem in Oklahoma. Current practices by school officials allow pedophiles to maintain teaching licenses and victimize other children. State law must break that cycle and block child molesters’ easy access to schools. Former Hollis teacher Jennifer Caswell awaits sentencing on sexual assault charges involving a former student, an eighth-grader at the time.

  • Environmentalist 'investors' engage in farce

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Fri, Jun 5, 2015

    IF you invested in a company routinely derided as “Big Oil,” would you be surprised to learn that it’s a large company that makes most of its profit from energy? If you answer “Of course not,” then you’re clearly not an environmental activist. At the recent shareholder meetings of Exxon Mobil Corp. and Chevron Corp., a group of environmentalist shareholders submitted resolutions that would further their political causes without particularly benefiting the companies they invested in. Exxon shareholders overwhelmingly rejected one proposal to put a supposed climate change expert on the company’s board. That measure received support from only 21 percent of shareholders. A similar measure met the same fate at the

  • Plenty of reason for concern about EPA water rule

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Thu, Jun 4, 2015

    GIVEN the Environmental Protection Agency’s activist bent during the Obama administration, the natural reaction is to recoil at most any new EPA rules and regulations. Its recently released clean water rule is no exception. The EPA is expanding the federal Clean Water Act’s definition of “navigable waters of the United States.” That term traditionally has referred to large lakes and rivers. The definition was expanded in 1986 to include tributaries and adjacent wetlands. The latest expansion would give the EPA control over, as The Wall Street Journal put it in an editorial, “just about any creek, pond, prairie pothole or muddy farm field ...” The EPA says it’s only trying to bring some certainty to this issue,

  • Nothing shocking about issues related to Clinton foundation

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Thu, Jun 4, 2015

    THE census of scandals/outrages associated with Bill and Hillary Clinton is so large that it deserves its own ZIP code. Atop the list are the machinations involving the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation. Lest anyone think this has more to do with Bill than it does with Hillary, we remind readers of the man’s own words in 1992 about getting “two for the price of one” with a Clinton victory over George H.W. Bush. The co-presidency narrative has continued, when convenient, and the BOGO (buy one, get one free) line remains an apt way to measure the activities of one or both Clintons. It informs us as to how Hillary would govern as notional co-president with Bill.

  • Will Rand Paul's move hurt him in bid for presidency?

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Wed, Jun 3, 2015

    RAND Paul has a flair for the dramatic, although his most recent stunt could wind up costing him in his bid for the Republican nomination for president. We’ll know in time. Paul, R-Ky., rode the backing of tea party forces to his election to the Senate in 2010 and since then he has endeared himself to those supporters with his push against government overreach. Recall his nearly 13-hour filibuster last year that focused on the potential of U.S. drone strikes against American citizens on U.S. soil. On Sunday, the target of his ire was the USA Patriot Act, in particular Section 215, which allows the National Security Agency to track information about phone calls – the numbers dialed, how long the calls lasted, etc.