• Oklahoma ScissorTales: Another dividend from original MAPS

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Sat, Nov 28, 2015

    PRIOR to the downtown revival triggered by the first MAPS initiative, the Oklahoma City Museum of Art was housed in several locations over many years. But in 2002 it moved into its current location, at 415 Couch Drive, and has been doing stupendously since. It's home to an extensive collection of glasswork by Dale Chihuly, and has hosted exhibitions featuring the likes of Andy Warhol and artwork from the Louvre. Next up: a world-class exhibition from France. Beginning June 18 and running for three months, the museum will be the only North American site to house a collection of paintings, sculptures and other works by Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Juan Gris, Georges Braque and others.

  • Slanted coverage evident on the campaign trail

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Fri, Nov 27, 2015

    AMONG the national media, journalists routinely deride suggestions of liberal bias and slanted news coverage. People might take those denials more seriously if national outlets stopped providing evidence to the contrary. The latest example comes from news coverage regarding GOP presidential candidate Ben Carson's comments on the Syrian refugee issue. Several outlets implied that Carson equated all Syrians to rabid dogs. But any credible reading of his comments, in context, simply shows Carson was noting the importance of preventing violent jihadists from being granted refugee status. At a campaign event in Alabama, Carson said the United States needed leaders who “are not only smart but who care about other people.

  • Insurer's announcement is more evidence of Obamacare's flaws

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Updated: Thu, Nov 26, 2015

    LIKE Peter Pan, the Affordable Care Act may never grow old. The program is perhaps even more unsustainable than we thought. The same White House assuring us that Syrian refugees will be thoroughly vetted failed to thoroughly vet is own health care plan. Obamacare is a ticking time bomb. Or, to put in the “Peter Pan” vernacular, it's a ticking crocodile. Its sustainability is chasing it toward a fiscal gangplank. Further evidence that Obamacare is based on Tinker Bell-style pixie dust rather than solid business principles came last week. UnitedHealth Group, the largest U.S. health insurer, said it can't commit to participating in the program beyond the coming year. Why? It's unsustainable.

  • Thanksgiving: Food, family, football and abundant blessings

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Thu, Nov 26, 2015

    PRESIDENTIAL proclamations are typically verbose, ghostwritten, ceremonial and quickly forgotten. Remember Barack Obama's proclamation of National Child's Day of 2015? No? It happened a week ago. As ephemeral as they are, some presidential proclamations are more dessert than turkey, sticking in memory because of the importance attached to an event about which the document was issued. Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation is the gravy covering several such examples. Through the years (including this year), presidents have proclaimed a certain date as being Thanksgiving Day — as if the people might not know otherwise. And also through the years, Thanksgiving proclamations didn't always carry a November date. George

  • Panel needs to act on OG&E compliance plan request

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Wed, Nov 25, 2015

    AS deadlines approach for Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co. to comply with new federal anti-pollution rules, the utility remains on hold as the Oklahoma Corporation Commission wrestles with OG&E's request for $1.1 billion to pay for renovations and upgrades. This case needs to get off high center. There was some thought that might happen at a commission meeting last week. However, the three-member panel ultimately adjourned without a decision. Thus, 15 months after filing its application, the utility will wait a little longer for word on its request. OG&E filed the application in August 2014.

  • Rep. Steve Russell offers refreshing counter to 'keep them out'

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

    U.S. Rep. Steve Russell offers no apology to those in his party who are disappointed in his take on the Syrian refugee crisis. Unlike so many Republicans, Russell doesn't want the United States to begin turning these refugees away as a result of the recent terror attacks in Paris. “I've angered people on both sides on this issue. I don't care,” Russell, R-Choctaw, said last week in an interview with The Oklahoman. “I've been defending this republic since I was 18. There are times you have to have the moral courage to stand on our liberties.” During the interview, Russell offered a refreshing contrast to the rhetoric and fear-mongering that has emanated from members of both major political parties, but especially

  • Looking for better ways to move products by freight

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

    WHEN business conditions close a corridor, entrepreneurs knock on the doors of opportunity. Warren Buffett is doing just that with an aggressive expansion of his BNSF Railway Co. Imagine a freeway with only one lane — not one lane in either direction but one lane in both. This describes much of the nation's railroad infrastructure. Two trains that pass in the night (or at any time of day) must yield to one another on sidings. Buffett's solution to dwindling coal shipments is to make it faster to ship everything else. No pun intended, but the railroad industry has been buffeted by declines in natural resource shipments. And not just coal but the products associated with the North American shale boom, now suffering from low

  • Less rhetoric needed in farm question debate

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

    THE newly formed Oklahoma Stewardship Council is urging Oklahomans to reject State Question 777, the “Right to Farm” constitutional amendment that will go to a vote a year from now, saying it will allow “corporate” farms to pollute with impunity. That raises a question: Would the group support SQ 777 if it allowed only small farms to pollute? The answer to that question is obvious, but the overheated rhetoric and demonization tactics used by officials with the Oklahoma Stewardship Council suggest a twisted logic that indicates otherwise. The group would be better served to lace its arguments with logic and calm rationality, not hyperbole and divisiveness.

  • Greater understanding needed in handling of domestic violence in Oklahoma

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

    ON Oct. 28 of this year, Oklahoma City police arrested a man in the death of his girlfriend, who according to police “appeared as if she may have been struck by a vehicle.” Six days later, city police found the bodies of a divorced couple; investigators believe the woman killed her ex-husband then turned the gun on herself. Five days after that, on Nov. 8, a husband fatally shot his wife while their children were in the home, then called police to turn himself in. On Nov. 11, an adult son stabbed his father to death at their home. These are but a handful of examples of domestic violence, which occurs all too frequently in Oklahoma. In 2014, the Oklahoma City Police Department received 32,093 calls for services related to

  • Scrutiny of Oklahoma tax credits is worthwhile effort

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

    THERE oughta be a Dank's Law. Actually, there is. It's just not called that. Calling legislation after the name of someone associated with an issue the law covers is a modern trend. Think Megan's Law or Jessica's Law, which deal with sexual and physical abuse of females. What these examples have in common is that their namesakes were victims. State Rep. David Dank, R-Oklahoma City, wasn't a victim but an advocate of scrutinizing state tax credits, to ensure that the credit-incentivized behavior is equal to or greater than the cost of the credit. Dank died in April, but not before making the last of his many stands against what some perceive to be an out-of-control tax credit system. Once in place, the credits are

  • Oklahoma ScissorTales: Some solution to Real ID needed

    The Oklahoman Editorials | Updated: Sat, Nov 21, 2015

    OKLAHOMA'S opposition to the federal Real ID act could eventually be a real pain for residents. But costs related to complying, and many lawmakers' deep-seated opposition to the law, make it a long shot that wholesale change is in the offing. The Real ID act, approved by Congress in 2005 in response to the 9/11 attacks, sought to make it more difficult for criminals to obtain fake identification cards. Under the law, driver's licenses must provide a “common machine-readable technology,” and each state must make its motor vehicle database accessible to all other states. The Legislature in 2007 approved a law with bipartisan support saying Oklahoma wouldn't comply.

  • 'Clean' Oklahoma school audits need more transparency

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

    IT seems an auditing firm used by more than 100 Oklahoma school districts typically records irregularities not in the audit, but in separate letters. The districts then report a “clean” audit to state officials, effectively reducing financial scrutiny. Intentionally or not, this practice may have aided embezzlers. The Broken Arrow CPA firm Sanders, Bledsoe & Hewett counts 114 school districts among its clients, and has reported all but seven have clean audits. That's raising eyebrows since officials at two of those districts are under investigation for misusing taxpayer funds.

  • Family's story underscores the joys of adoption

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

    WE'RE not sure we can afford it.” “Is this the best time?” “How do we know if we're cut out for it?” Jeff Hartmann and his wife, Jean, had these thoughts and others not as they contemplated starting a family, but as they considered expanding their family through adoption. The Hartmanns had three children of their own when they decided to take the plunge. “We said, ‘If we can adopt, if we can afford it, we're going to adopt,' ” Jeff Hartmann said. “You can never afford it.” Yet through the years, the Hartmanns, of Oklahoma City, were able to adopt seven children, resulting in an always bustling and at times challenging group of 10 mouths to feed and clothe and nurture.

  • Environmental regulations' ripple effects can carry a high price

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

    EXCESSIVE environmental regulation has long been a drag on economic activity. Children attending public schools in Beaver County may be among those hit by the ripple effects. Houston-based Clean Line Energy plans to build a high-voltage, direct-current transmission line from the Oklahoma Panhandle to Tennessee. The 720-mile project would take 4,000 megawatts of electricity from planned wind farms in the Oklahoma and Texas panhandles and ship it directly to utilities in the southeastern United States. Yet even “green” energy projects can run into problems with environmental regulation. In the case of the Clean Line Energy project, one concern was the federal government's efforts to declare the lesser prairie chicken

  • No place for fear-mongering in debate over Syrian refugees

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

    IN light of the terrorist attacks in Paris, caution is advised as it pertains to U.S. refugee policy. Political posturing should not be part of the equation, but naturally it's in full bloom, particularly among Republicans. The governors in at least 23 states have taken various actions designed to curb or stop the flow of Syrian refugees. Twenty-two of those governors are Republicans, including Oklahoma's Mary Fallin, who on Monday asked President Barack Obama to stop accepting refugees from Syria, at least for a time. That country has seen millions flee as the Islamic State has expanded its murderous stronghold. The terrorist group claimed credit for the multiple attacks in Paris last week that left 129 dead and dozens

  • Best to vet Oklahoma 1-cent tax proposal now rather than later

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

    THE constitutionality of a plan to increase the state sales tax to fund education needs in Oklahoma now faces a court challenge. Proponents of the initiative petition are understandably upset, but it's better to address constitutional questions now rather than later. We've long supported Oklahomans' right to place items on the ballot. But nothing is gained if citizens submit a plan to voters and expend millions promoting it in a statewide campaign — only to see the entire thing struck down as unconstitutional upon passage. Based on the Oklahoma Supreme Court's rulings, there is reason to question if the proposed plan represents unconstitutional logrolling of multiple topics in violation of the single-subject rule

  • Attacks in Paris underscore need for bolder ISIS strategy

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

    PERHAPS, if Heaven forbid the United States were to be attacked by the Islamic State on a scale comparable to what happened Friday in Paris, President Barack Obama would acknowledge his strategy to defeat the terrorist group needs improvement. Until then, expect business as usual. The president gave no indication Monday that he's interested in an overhaul of the administration's current practice of targeted air strikes in Syria and Iraq and the arming and training of opposition forces in the region. “The strategy that we are putting forward is the strategy that is ultimately going to work,” Obama said in Turkey at the conclusion of two days of talks at the G20 Summit. “It's going to take time.

  • Some change is needed to OKC panhandling ordinance

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

    IT'S understandable that the sister of a man struck by a vehicle and killed while panhandling might be upset about City Councilwoman Meg Salyer's effort to crack down on this practice. “It disturbs me, this lady trying to do away with panhandling,” Jean Fields told The Oklahoman recently. “There's so many people out there, on the streets. A lot of them are homeless and that's the only way they have to eat.” But what about the driver of the vehicle that struck Fields' brother, Joseph Geary? The man now lives every day with the memory of this horrific event, and with the pain of having killed a human being while doing nothing more than trying to get to work, or complete an errand that day.

  • Fewer silos are needed in Oklahoma state government

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

    WHAT Trait Thompson says has occurred inside the Oklahoma Capitol through the years is a fitting description of state government — numerous, separate agencies that in many cases should be communicating with each other, but don't. The result can be a mess. In the case of the Capitol building, these government silos have produced a variety of physical changes made by the various entities housed there. Thompson is dealing with those results as he oversees a wholesale renovation of the century-old building. He offered a few examples recently in an interview with The Oklahoman's Rick Green: “Tile glued over marble. Plastic walls in historic corridors where people have busted through the plaster and just put a door in.

  • Oklahoma ScissorTales: Hillary's down on charter schools

    The Oklahoman Editorials | Updated: Sun, Nov 15, 2015

    HILLARY Clinton said during a recent campaign stop in South Carolina that she has supported charter schools through the years. However, “Most charter schools, they don't take the hardest-to-teach kids, or if they do, they don't keep them. And so the public schools are often in a no-win situation.” This assessment would come as a surprise to those who run Santa Fe South in Oklahoma City, or Harding Charter Prep, or KIPP Reach College Prepatory. In each of these schools, the enrollment is overwhelmingly made up of low-income children of color who would fit Clinton's definition of “harder-to-teach.