• Difficult but necessary choice by Chesapeake

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Thu, Oct 1, 2015

    CHESAPEAKE Energy Corp.'s layoffs of 740 employees, most of them in Oklahoma City, are a jarring sign of the toll being inflicted by the continued downturn in U.S. energy prices. Yet we're optimistic those prices will recover in time, and that Chesapeake will too. The company that started in 1989 enjoyed tremendous growth during its first two decades and established itself as a fine corporate citizen through its support of numerous nonprofits and schools. However its workforce eventually became unsustainable. Two years ago, following demands for change by major shareholders, a new chairman and new CEO were named. Job 1 was to shore up Chesapeake's viability, and that entailed letting go about 640 Oklahoma City employees

  • Lack of specifics not a problem for Trump

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Wed, Sep 30, 2015

    HURRICANE Trump blew through Oklahoma City last week, leaving behind a throng of about 5,000 people who didn't learn anything they didn't already know about the Republican presidential candidate. Donald Trump has risen to the top of the polls by blasting President Barack Obama, blasting others in the GOP field, blasting immigrants from south of the border and bragging about how much better things will be when he becomes president. It was more of the same during his brief stop Friday at the Oklahoma State Fair. A campaign that's been light on policy proposals, other than to say he'll deport every illegal immigrant and get Mexico to build a wall along the border, wasn't any more specific in Oklahoma City.

  • On abortion, Democrats certainly not pandering to the electorate

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Wed, Sep 30, 2015

    GIVE national Democrats credit for this much: Their commitment to abortion absolutism is unwavering, even if it places them on the political fringe far outside the mainstream of U.S. voters. We're not simply referring to Democrats' defense of Planned Parenthood after undercover videos indicated the organization may have violated federal laws banning the sale of fetuses for profit or altering abortion procedures for profit purposes. Frankly, that knee-jerk defense of Planned Parenthood was unsurprising. But even where polls show strong, bipartisan support for abortion restrictions, most Democrats have toed the absolutist line anyway. Last week U.S. Senate Democrats filibustered a bill to ban most abortions after 20 weeks

  • Not difficult to see why Boehner would depart

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Tue, Sep 29, 2015

    FELLOW patriot, we did it!” So began a mass email distributed Friday by FreedomWorks, after the announcement that House Speaker John Boehner was leaving Congress. FreedomWorks is a far-right outfit that, like others of its ilk, paints as sell-outs any Republicans who don't align themselves with their agenda. This is an agenda that, for example, is presently demanding that the government be shut down if Planned Parenthood isn't defunded, even though such a move would do nothing but hurt the GOP as it seeks to win the White House in 2016. Boehner's announcement that he will resign at the end of October was unexpected, although it's not hard to see why he would be ready to walk away.

  • Strategy on Oklahoma writing tests costs taxpayers, students

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Tue, Sep 29, 2015

    SHORTLY after taking office in January, state schools Superintendent Joy Hofmeister announced she was eliminating field testing of state writing assessment questions, saying it wasted valuable classroom instruction time. Now Hofmeister's staff says her decision ensured that a usable writing test won't be in place in 2016, and that only field tests will be administered to students next spring. Next time, education officials should think things through more carefully before they act. Oklahoma Watch reports that when the 2016 writing test is administered to fifth- and eighth-graders, it will be the third year in a row (and the second under Hofmeister's oversight) that the test will not count toward a student's score or a

  • Glossip attorneys cross line with criticism of DA

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Mon, Sep 28, 2015

    EVERYONE deserves a zealous defense, but efforts to prevent the execution of Richard Glossip are taking on the appearance of a smear campaign aimed not only at Oklahoma's law enforcement community, but also all Oklahomans who support them. Glossip has been convicted, twice, of paying a co-worker in 1997 to murder his employer, Barry Van Treese. Glossip's defenders argue the co-worker, Justin Sneed, lied about Glossip's role in order to avoid the death penalty himself. Now Glossip's attorneys have come forward with last-minute affidavits from former convicts who claim to have been incarcerated with Sneed and heard him make vague comments about sending Glossip “up the river” for the murder.

  • Dodd-Frank damage is done, and it may be irreversible

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Mon, Sep 28, 2015

    SO much for the Democratic Party valuing the worth of the middle class and the little guy and the primacy of Main Street over Wall Street. One of the party's signature accomplishments, the Dodd-Frank financial regulations, was supposed to help Main Street rein in the big banks. Instead, it has been brutal on smaller community banks and made mortgage lending more cumbersome for qualified middle-class homebuyers. This is one reason GOP presidential candidates are quick to criticize Dodd-Frank and vow to “replace and repeal” this behemoth, just as they do Obamacare. But the damage has been done and perhaps irreversibly.

  • In historic speech, Pope Francis gave both sides plenty to think about

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Sun, Sep 27, 2015

    POPE Francis' historic address to a joint meeting of Congress had something of a State of the Union feel to it at times, with lawmakers of one party applauding heartily after the pope said something they liked, and members on the other side of the aisle doing the same. Yet it's a stretch to say Francis was trying to appeal to one or the other. Instead it seems to us he was simply acting as the leader of the Roman Catholic Church, whose teachings are liberal in nature when it comes to many issues, but staunchly conservative in other cases. An example of the latter is the Church's defense of traditional marriage.

  • Legalized marijuana certainly no panacea

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Sun, Sep 27, 2015

    ADVOCATES for legalizing recreational marijuana argue that shift shouldn't upset people, claiming the drug's use differs little from alcohol consumption. A new report from Colorado suggests that's only true if people are fine with drunk driving and public intoxication of school children. That report, by the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, demonstrates that legalized marijuana's impact in Colorado is not benign. The report examines a wide range of statistics over several years that marijuana became less regulated. In 2006, Colorado legalized “medical” marijuana use. Greater commercialization was unleashed in 2009. And since 2013, full-blown recreational use has been legal.

  • Oklahoma ScissorTales: Admiral touts an evolving U.S. Navy

    The Oklahoman Editorials | Published: Sat, Sep 26, 2015

    DURING a return “home” this week — she has done three tours at Tinker Air Force Base during her 34 years in the Navy — Rear Adm. Peg Klein noted that focus on STEM courses isn't reserved for high schools. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and math, courses that students in Oklahoma and across the country would be wise to embrace if they want to increase their chances of finding a job. These fit well with the Navy's mission as well. “We are all about STEM,” Klein told The Oklahoman's editorial board in one of her many stops in Oklahoma City promoting her branch of the service during “Navy Week.” “We're looking for people who are technically minded.” Those people also need to be

  • OKC school suspension effort remains work in progress

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Fri, Sep 25, 2015

    THE number of students being sent home from Oklahoma City Public Schools for disciplinary reasons is down considerably so far this school year, compared with a year ago. This is good news. Or is it? The district is making a concerted effort to keep students on site if they get into trouble for misbehaving. This push is understandable, given a review by the district that identified some troubling trends over a two-year period. Among them: black and Hispanic students were being suspended at a much greater rate than whites, and punishment for similar incidents was highly inconsistent.

  • Lawmakers should debate merits of Oklahoma vaccination bill

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Thu, Sep 24, 2015

    THERE'S something to be said for a committee chairman who, instead of playing games during the legislative session with a bill he doesn't like, comes straight out and says the bill won't be heard in his committee. This is what Sen. Rob Standridge, R-Norman, has done with a bill regarding vaccinations for schoolchildren. Yet while Standridge's forthrightness is admirable, the decision itself is not. Other members of the Legislature should have a say in whether current Oklahoma law should be changed. That law requires Oklahoma children to receive their vaccinations before entering kindergarten, unless an exception is granted for medical, religious and other reasons.

  • Generating revenue is central to Planned Parenthood clinics

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Thu, Sep 24, 2015

    DEFENDERS of Planned Parenthood object to any law that may slow the abortion process, such as a mandatory waiting period. Yet the organization has no problem with imposing extra steps that can impede women's access to proper breast cancer treatment — so long as Planned Parenthood is financially benefiting from the unnecessary delay. Thanks to a series of undercover videos, Planned Parenthood has been revealed as an organization often concerned more with generating money than with women's health, as one official after another has been caught discussing ways to maximize profits from the sale of aborted fetuses. Those discussions have included altering the abortion process in ways that appear to clearly violate the law.

  • Privatization still holds promise for state tourism

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Wed, Sep 23, 2015

    IT is welcome news that a legal resolution has been reached between state officials and private developers who had promised, but failed, to make former state parkland at Lake Texoma into a major tourist destination. While there are many lessons to be learned from this long-running dispute, officials shouldn't conclude that it justifies opposition to all privatization efforts in the future. That doesn't mean one must ignore the general ineptitude displayed throughout the Lake Texoma mess.

  • Walker experienced highs and lows during brief campaign

    Published: Wed, Sep 23, 2015

    JUST like that, only two months after formally entering the race for the Republican presidential nomination, Scott Walker pulled the plug on a campaign that started with great promise but got whipsawed by his own missteps and the tour de force that is Donald Trump. A well-received speech in late January to a Republican gathering in Iowa sent Walker to the top of many polls. In late May, he impressed attendees of the Republican Leadership Conference in Oklahoma City with his easy manner and strong words about what was needed in the White House. Among those: “a commander in chief in this country who will tell it like it is and lay out that radical Islamic terrorism is a threat to us all and we're going to do something to stop it.

  • Policymakers should rethink enhanced subsidy for Lifeline

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Tue, Sep 22, 2015

    OUTSIDERS are sometimes amazed that the state most identified with American Indians has zero American Indian reservations. In one sense, however, nearly all of Oklahoma is a reservation for subsidized, discounted telephone service. In fact, all but the Panhandle and a portion of southwestern Oklahoma has carried that designation for years. We've written before of the fraud and potential for fraud in the Lifeline program. This is a cautionary tale for any government program offering “free” money. Remember this when Bernie Sanders talks of offering a “free” college education to anyone who asks. U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo.

  • Legal, work comp reforms bearing fruit for Oklahoma

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Tue, Sep 22, 2015

    THE past few weeks have highlighted the economic benefits accrued from taking a conservative tack in state policymaking. Reforms to Oklahoma's workers' compensation system and its legal system are both bearing fruit. A major overhaul of the workers' comp system has now reduced costs and saved state businesses millions. Since the reform law was passed in 2013, it has saved Oklahoma companies $368 million, according to estimates provided by The State Chamber. Rates are declining, and that trend is expected to continue. At the same time, reforms enacted in recent years that made it harder to file and pursue frivolous lawsuits in Oklahoma appear to have improved perceptions of the state's business climate. Three years ago,

  • Widow's request highlights little-known Oklahoma statute

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Mon, Sep 21, 2015

    A state law that requires officials to consider appointing the spouse of a deceased officeholder to fill out the remainder of that individual's term, informally known as a “widow's mandate,” is gaining attention for the first time in years. The widow of late Labor Commissioner Mark Costello is citing the law as she seeks her husband's job. Regardless of any discussion of Cathy Costello's qualifications for the position, some question whether a “widow's mandate” law is good policy. Yet so long as the law only requires consideration of a spouse, rather than mandating their appointment, this is a law most Oklahomans can live with.

  • Problems masked by governments' pension accounting practices

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Sun, Sep 20, 2015

    IT'S often noted that if private businesses operated like government agencies, the business owners would wind up in jail. A new report on the accounting practices of state pension funds lends credence to that claim. Andrew G. Biggs , a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute who previously served as co–vice chair of the Society of Actuaries Blue Ribbon Panel on Public Pension Plan Funding, argues that the “true extent of public pension funding shortfalls is hidden by a nearly unique set of accounting rules” used by government officials. Those rules, promulgated by the Governmental Accounting Standards Board, allow state pension plans to employ practices that wouldn't fly in the private sector, such as very high

  • Oklahoma's economic engine remains fueled by energy

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Sun, Sep 20, 2015

    MUCH has changed in Oklahoma over the past few decades, but this much is the same: Energy still plays an outsized role in the state economy. That's been to Oklahoma's benefit in recent years as the shale revolution unleashed supply, but some downside may be notable now that market prices have declined. Chad Wilkerson, an economist and vice president of the Oklahoma City branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, estimates the state's energy industry lost 9,000 jobs, a 14 percent decline, since oil prices began falling last year. That has increased unemployment, although Oklahoma's figures still outperform the national average. Unemployment in Oklahoma has increased from 3.9 percent in February to 4.6 percent in August