• With those in public eye, some skepticism is warranted

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Wed, Aug 26, 2015

    IN disclosing that he had been unfaithful to his wife, reality TV star Josh Duggar said he was “the biggest hypocrite ever.” In truth, he’s got a lot of recent company for that dubious title. Duggar, 27, the oldest son of a conservative Christian family that was the focus of the program “19 Kids and Counting” on TLC, revealed last week that in addition to cheating on his wife, he had become secretly addicted to Internet pornography. This followed revelations that he was among the millions of people who used the cheating website Ashley Madison; work by hackers revealed names, credit card information and other data about the site’s users. Earlier this year, Duggar acknowledged that he had molested girls as a

  • Costello brought competence, humor to Oklahoma Labor Department

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Tue, Aug 25, 2015

    MARK Costello was a successful businessman who entered politics in 2010 with a run for state labor commissioner, eschewing campaign donations from political action committees and lobbyists. “I choose to represent the citizens of Oklahoma unencumbered by those who seek special favors,” Costello said in a letter to the editor prior to that election. “Voters want public servants of integrity.” Costello delivered in that respect. During his 4 ½ years in the job, he brought a level of professionalism to the Labor Department that was clearly missing under his predecessor, while working to improve his agency and state government. He won election in 2010 and easily won re-election last fall.

  • Few with autism gain from insurance mandate

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Mon, Aug 24, 2015

    PERHAPS it’s inevitable, but every few years there seems to be an effort to make coverage of autism treatments mandatory for Oklahoma insurance policies. Yet the vast majority of families of children with autism would receive no benefit from such a mandate, as even backers of that proposal have conceded. Under federal law, policies provided by employers with self-insured plans are exempt from state mandates. So state mandates apply mostly to policies sold on the individual market. Thus, if a family has insurance through an employer, there’s a good chance an autism mandate wouldn’t apply to them. That point should not be overlooked.

  • There's not much funny about Clinton server controversy

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Mon, Aug 24, 2015

    AH, that Hillary Clinton. What a sense of humor she has. Except she seems to be the only one laughing. Following a town hall meeting last week in Las Vegas, Hillary jousted with reporters over her email server. This followed the revelation earlier in the week that there were at least 300 work-related emails on her server, from her time as secretary of state, that may have been classified if not top secret. The server was her own — unofficial and unsecured — and used, you’ll recall, for convenience because trying to manage a personal and a work device was just too much. After having thousands of the emails deleted, she turned the server over to the government for inspection.

  • More thoughtful approach sought on Oklahoma teacher pay raises

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Sun, Aug 23, 2015

    STATE Sen. Bryce Marlatt, R-Woodward, says he has a “creative solution” to provide across-the-board pay raises to teachers: He wants to redirect tobacco settlement money from health programs to teacher pay. If Oklahoma’s health rankings were among the nation’s best, then that might merit discussion. But they’re not. Instead, Oklahoma ranks near the bottom of most major health rankings. So Marlatt’s proposal combines bad policy with poor fiscal management. It should be shelved. As part of a nationwide tobacco lawsuit settlement in 1998, Oklahoma was among the states expected to collectively receive a combined $246 billion over the first 25 years.

  • Frank talk needed to help improve Oklahoma suicide statistics

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Sun, Aug 23, 2015

    IN her job with the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, Savannah Kalman talks a lot about suicide. If only more Oklahomans would do the same. Like so many mental health-related issues, suicide takes a big toll in Oklahoma but it remains a topic that most prefer not to acknowledge. In paid obituaries that run each day in The Oklahoman and other newspapers, families regularly include the cause of death for their loved one — unless the cause is suicide. The reason is that a stigma remains attached to death by suicide. Too many families are ashamed to say their son or daughter or parent took their own life.

  • Oklahoma ScissorTales: State board bringing clarity to commutations

    The Oklahoman Editorials | Published: Sat, Aug 22, 2015

    THE Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board took a step toward greater clarity by tentatively approving new rules that govern requests for commutations. Previously, the commutation process could be quite muddled. Indeed the parole board got into trouble with Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater a few years ago for the way it handled commutation requests. At that time, board members didn’t list in advance the names of offenders proposed for commutation at their monthly meetings. The rules approved Monday set out the specific eligibility for four classes of inmates before they can apply for commutation. Nonviolent felony offenders must serve at least three years.

  • Careful study is required in debate over Oklahoma judicial reform

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Fri, Aug 21, 2015

    AN Oklahoma legislator who wants to do away with the board that recommends potential judges to the governor believes he has a glaring example of why change is needed, in a case from Pottawatomie County. But it appears the board was merely trying to doing its job responsibly. Rep. Kevin Calvey, R-Oklahoma City, is leading the push to get rid of the Judicial Nominating Commission. The JNC screens applicants when vacancies occur on state courts, including the Supreme Court, and submits three nominees to the governor. The JNC recently submitted only two names to Gov. Mary Fallin to fill a vacancy created by the retirement of a Pottawatomie County associate district judge. Both of the nominees are Democrats, which triggered harsh

  • Curbing seasonal workers not a fix for immigration

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Fri, Aug 21, 2015

    SOME Republicans want to not only reduce illegal immigration, but also cut back on legal immigration to the United States. Many who favor even more restrictive immigration policies argue a reduction in legal immigration will generate higher wages, particularly for low-skill, native-born workers in entry-level jobs. Those critics have it only half right. In agriculture, reduced immigration has raised wages, but the benefit has gone to the remaining immigrant laborers — because native-born workers still won’t take those jobs. Meanwhile, crops are rotting in the fields due to associated workforce shortages, increasing food prices for all.

  • Much to be gained by ending U.S. oil export ban

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Thu, Aug 20, 2015

    WHAT if a simple policy change could increase U.S. companies’ profits and drive down consumers’ costs? Repealing the ban on oil exports could do both. The economic case for repealing the 1970s-era export ban was recently reinforced by Frank Rusco, director of Natural Resources and Environment for the federal Government Accountability Office. In an appearance before the U.S. House Committee on Agriculture, Rusco summarized the GAO’s September 2014 findings from a review of relevant research and interviews of experts. The GAO concluded “removing crude oil export restrictions would likely increase some domestic crude oil prices, but could decrease consumer fuel prices …” That may sound counterintuitive.

  • Market forces at work as OKC continues to evolve

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Thu, Aug 20, 2015

    FOR historic or landmark buildings, the free market giveth and the free market taketh away. Away went the bombing-damaged downtown YMCA building and the dilapidated Stage Center. The market couldn’t find a way to save them. By contrast, the wholesale clearance of landmark Oklahoma City buildings in the 1960s and 1970s wasn’t entirely market driven. It was partly government policy styled as urban renewal. Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t. Imagine what could have become of some of the old hotels and movie palaces had a few years elapsed until a resurgence of interest in the urban lifestyle kicked in. Bricktown could have gone to the wrecking ball as well. But the timing was right for its emergence as an

  • Tom Cole: Appealing beyond base is key for eventual nominee

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Wed, Aug 19, 2015

    HILLARY Clinton has thus far done all she can to help the Republican Party win the presidency in 2016. The question now becomes, which of the many GOP candidates will emerge with the message and the backing to take advantage? That’s the condensed version of an assessment by U.S. Rep. Tom Cole, R-Moore, who has spent a lifetime in politics as a consultant, an elected state official and now as a member of Congress. Cole is a staunch conservative who naturally wants to see a Republican succeed Barack Obama in the White House, but his allegiance generally doesn’t cloud his vision. The hard truth, Cole said in a recent visit with The Oklahoman’s editorial board, is that the Republican Party has lost the popular vote in five

  • For teachers who prey on kids, punishment should fit the crime

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Wed, Aug 19, 2015

    THE attorney for a former Hollis teacher sentenced to 10 years in prison for having sex with a 15-year-old student says his client is shocked and considers her sentence “harsh.” What many Oklahomans may find stunning isn’t this sentence, but the short terms given other teachers who sexually exploited children. Jennifer Caswell pleaded guilty to six crimes involving sex with a Hollis student who was in the eighth grade when their relationship began. After the boy moved to Mississippi, Caswell was caught with him at a hotel there, which finally led to her prosecution last year. Caswell, now 29, later explained her actions by saying she was “in a very unhappy marriage and I received little to no attention from my

  • Questions result from rulings on Oklahoma 'special laws'

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Tue, Aug 18, 2015

    A judge’s decision declaring an abortion-drug law a “special law” in violation of the Oklahoma Constitution certainly disappointed those opposed to abortion on demand. But the ruling’s implications may extend further, even to the point of hindering efforts to combat drug addiction. Last week, Oklahoma County District Judge Patricia Parrish overturned a state law regulating use of some abortion drugs. The law required that abortion drugs be administered in accordance with U.S. Food and Drug Administration label instructions. Many of those drugs are now provided in ways that don’t comply with those guidelines.

  • For many, Obamacare’s costs are exceeding its ‘benefits’

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Mon, Aug 17, 2015

    PRESIDENT Barack Obama famously promised that if people liked their current insurance policies, they could keep them under the Affordable Care Act. That was quickly proven false as associated regulations forced cancellation of countless existing insurance plans. Obama then derided canceled policies as “substandard plans” that were now being replaced by “quality, comprehensive coverage.” It turns out this claim is just as false as his “you can keep it” promise. Under Obamacare, a growing share of lower-middle class families are being forced to purchase policies that provide little meaningful financial protection.

  • There's no going back on Oklahoma Capitol repair work

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Mon, Aug 17, 2015

    WHEN the Legislature, after years of dithering, finally got around in 2014 to approving a $120 million bond issue to repair the state Capitol, experts advised that the amount almost certainly wouldn’t be enough. Those warnings were on target. Like most any remodeling job, finishing on or under budget is rare. The fact that workers involved in the Capitol project would be dealing with a massive, nearly 100-year-old building made it an extreme long shot that $120 million would suffice. Initial work confirms that lawmakers will one day need to approve additional funding to finish the job. Reporters were given a tour last week of work being done on the third floor.

  • Some licensing regulations can get in the way of people working

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Sun, Aug 16, 2015

    BASED on Barack Obama’s record since becoming president in 2009, one might reasonably conclude there’s no level of regulation deemed excessive by his administration. But a new White House report questions the need for many occupational licensing restrictions. If even the Obama administration thinks these regulations are heavy handed, there’s no reason Republicans should hesitate to repeal and reform many occupational licensing laws. A blog post by Jeff Zients, director of the National Economic Council and Assistant to the President for Economic Policy, and Betsey Stevenson, a member of the Council of Economic Advisers, notes the problems created by excessive occupational-licensing requirements.

  • Challenging times for Oklahoma's energy producers

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Sun, Aug 16, 2015

    IF it cost you $10 to drive to a job that paid $11, would you do it? What if it paid $9? How about $10 — the break-even point? Independent energy companies are dealing with such a conundrum in the face of the lowest crude oil prices since 2009. From the standpoint of their quarterly financial statements, many of them aren’t breaking even. Nowhere near. Forget obscene profits, that talking-point term of liberals that hasn’t been heard much lately. It’s hard to find any profits at energy firms these days. So the break-even point is a major focus. It’s a matter of balancing costs with returns, which can mean an emphasis on the least risky drilling ventures, layoffs and other cost- cutting measures.

  • Oklahoma ScissorTales: Nothing ordinary about handling of Keystone XL

    The Oklahoman Editorials | Published: Sat, Aug 15, 2015

    THE Obama administration insists that it has followed standard procedure with its treatment of the Keystone XL pipeline, a project that has languished nearly seven years. A story this week from The Associated Press puts a sizable dent in that claim. Under an executive order issued by former President George W. Bush, which revamped a previous policy, any pipeline that crosses U.S. borders must get presidential approval. TransCanada Corp. wishes to run a pipeline from Canada to Cushing (the southern leg of the Keystone pipeline, from Cushing to the Gulf Coast, is completed). The AP studied every cross-border pipeline application since 2004 and found that, on average, the government took 478 days to approve or reject them.

  • Tinkering with voting rules a sure way to invite trouble

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Fri, Aug 14, 2015

    THE 1960s struggle for civil rights has morphed into a struggle to convince Americans that not much has changed since then — despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Thus it is that a Little Rock, Ark., rabbi could declaim there’s been “a tragic rollback of civil rights” in this nation. So moved is the man that’s he flying to Atlanta this month so he can walk 2.3 percent of an 860-mile “march” from Selma, Ala., to Washington, D.C. The NAACP is billing the event as “America’s Journey for Justice.” It’s designed to hook the interest of white liberals by adding standard labor union bait (minimum wage increases) and environmentalism to traditional civil rights platform planks. The timing is to