• Ray Rice case shines a spotlight on domestic violence

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Wed, Sep 10, 2014

    “GREAT job.” That was Jan Peery’s reaction to the news Monday that the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens had cut ties with their star running back, Ray Rice, after video from inside a casino elevator showed Rice punching his then-fiancee in the face, knocking her out cold. The video broadcast by the website TMZ is startling. But as Peery knows all too well from her many years as head of the YWCA in Oklahoma City, such brutality occurs regularly in homes across Oklahoma. Indeed on the same day the Ravens-Rice news broke, the Violence Policy Center in Washington, D.C., issued a report showing Oklahoma ranks third in the nation in the rate of women murdered by men. “I was really pleased to see the organization take a stand,”

  • Oklahoma stands to benefit from new budgeting effort

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Tue, Sep 9, 2014

    THE National Association of State Budget Officers noted in a recent report that many states are in a similar situation fiscally. They have “limited resources with numerous demands for spending and not enough revenue to go around,” NASBO said. Oklahoma feels their pain. Agency directors go to the Capitol each year to (almost always) ask lawmakers for more money. Whenever they can, lawmakers try to oblige. This has been the practice for decades, although since the Great Recession most agency heads have seen their budgets shrink a bit, or perhaps be held steady. It’s a flawed system. When times are good, the Legislature writes bigger checks. When they’re not so good, the checks get smaller.

  • Still plenty of ignorance about U.S. energy industry

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Mon, Sep 8, 2014

    Poll findings a concern

  • Report highlights importance of engaged college, university regents

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Mon, Sep 8, 2014

    MOST Oklahomans would be hard pressed to name a single person charged with the responsibility for the state’s colleges and universities other than perhaps a few highly recognizable school presidents. In a new report, a national organization suggests that the governance of the nation’s higher education system is out of whack. The report says weak governing boards are doing students and the general public a significant disservice. In its Governance for a New Era report, the American Council of Trustees and Alumni said trustees need to remember that they’re more than just boosters and that their responsibility isn’t just to institutions. Instead, their “primary obligation” is to taxpayers and students.

  • Report makes clear, Oklahoma must improve its execution policies, procedures

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Sun, Sep 7, 2014

    THE Department of Public Safety’s investigation into the execution of Clayton Derrell Lockett leaves no doubt that Oklahoma must improve its policies and procedures for carrying out capital punishment. It can’t have another experience like this one. Lockett was executed April 29 for killing a 19-year-old woman in Perry in 1999. He shot his victim twice with a shotgun and then had two accomplices bury her alive. Cases like his are made for the death penalty. But the DPS investigation outlined a troubling series of events that resulted in the execution going awry. Prison officials eventually lowered the blinds and Lockett was pronounced dead 43 minutes after the procedure began.

  • Residency issue a challenge for some candidates

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Sun, Sep 7, 2014

    Two U.S. senators face questions

  • Scissortales: Railroads have the attention of state, Oklahoma City officials

    The Oklahoman Editorials | Published: Sat, Sep 6, 2014

    RAILROAD crossing. Look out for the cars. Can you spell that without any cold hard cash? By 2016, if everything tracks according to plan, the central part of Oklahoma City will be a railroad “quiet zone.” Elsewhere in the state, the focus isn’t on train noise but railroad safety. Two initiatives will be taking place simultaneously. One is to facilitate downtown residential development by making trains quieter as they pass through the heart of the city. A combined $3.9 million in public and private funds will be used to soften the auditory blow of trains, which affect office workers as well as residents.

  • Capitol repair is no easy task, as many states have found

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Updated: Thu, Sep 4, 2014

    AFTER years of dithering, lawmakers this year finally approved a $120 million bond to repair the crumbling and dilapidated Oklahoma Capitol building. The early stages of that effort are underway. The years of delay undoubtedly mean the project will cost far more than the $120 million allocated. The foot-dragging and its financial consequences may frustrate many citizens, but State Legislatures magazine reports that these politically created challenges are hardly unique to Oklahoma.

  • Iconic musical continues to make Oklahomans proud

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Fri, Sep 5, 2014

    “ICONIC” is an overused word but it seems especially apt to describe a motion picture that last week had a special showing at Oklahoma City Community College. The movie is “Oklahoma!” The musical, which started a lengthy and lucrative run on Broadway in 1943, continues to make Oklahomans proud. It achieved a level of immortality when it was adapted for the big screen in 1955. Like its stage run, the Oscar-winning film also proved to be a huge hit. “Oklahoma!” is a feel-good movie, year after year. Surely the hundreds who saw it at OCCC relived the film’s magic and charm. And before we came to know and love Carrie Underwood, Kristin Chenoweth and Jane Jayroe, the state had another sweetheart. Her name is

  • Harsh rhetoric no answer to U.S. immigration questions

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Thu, Sep 4, 2014

    IN a recent blog post, Washington Post conservative Jennifer Rubin wrote about various studies and reports showing that immigrants move to places where they can find jobs. Among the locations she mentioned was Oklahoma, “where there is high growth, low unemployment and an immigrant population that doubled since 1990.” All three are worth boasting about. But too often when the subject turns to immigration, conservative politicians in Oklahoma respond with boilerplate anti-immigration talking points that may win a few votes but ultimately don’t add up to a whole lot. This is sure to continue if President Barack Obama uses executive actions to produce new immigration policy this fall.

  • Inaction a growing problem for Oklahoma Board of Education

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Thu, Sep 4, 2014

    THE state Board of Education’s action — or, more accurately, inaction — to develop new academic standards for Oklahoma schools is turning into government self-parody. Lawmakers this year repealed Common Core academic standards they had approved in 2010. Because those standards were generally considered an improvement, we opposed the repeal. But that decision has been made. The goal now must be to develop even better standards. So far, it’s not happening. Under the Common Core repeal law, the state Board of Education essentially must unveil new standards in math and language by the start of the 2016 legislative session, in February of that year. This is a short timetable for a significant undertaking that should

  • Government folly at the heart of Oklahoma education waiver loss

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Wed, Sep 3, 2014

    THE U.S. Department of Education has revoked a federal waiver that granted Oklahoma flexible use of some federal school funds and also eased other regulations. Many state politicians responded by announcing, in effect, that they’re shocked that federal money comes with strings attached. Yet despite claims of opposition to federal overreach, there’s little reason to believe those politicians will do what it takes to reduce federal involvement in local education. For several years, Oklahoma has been granted a waiver from provisions of the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law. That waiver was based, in part, on Oklahoma having college- and career-ready academic standards. Common Core academic standards were rated as meeting

  • Election results show school shelters becoming a priority in Oklahoma

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Tue, Sep 2, 2014

    THOSE who claim a $500 million state bond package is necessary to provide storm shelters in all Oklahoma schools are having that argument undermined — not by the political opposition of state legislators, but by voters. Funding for safe room construction is being approved at school districts across Oklahoma using existing processes and local resources. The Aug. 26 elections saw storm shelter measures easily win voter approval in several districts, despite the fact that school bonds require 60 percent supermajorities to pass. In Garvin County, voters in the Elmore City-Pernell school district approved a $2.275 million bond issue to build a middle school that includes a safe room. A pair of bond proposals totaling $120

  • Indiana school testing settlement no model for Oklahoma

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Tue, Sep 2, 2014

    The $3.3 million deal includes no cash payment

  • Labor Day no picnic for millions of Americans

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Mon, Sep 1, 2014

    “PICNIC” is a three-act play taking place in a 24-hour period, Labor Day, in a small Kansas town. As the William Inge drama ends, its two principal characters are headed for Oklahoma in hopes of a better life. Labor Day is a national holiday with undercurrents of the same theme — hope for a better life. But this Labor Day, like the seven or so before it, is no picnic for the millions of Americans who can’t find full-time employment. This is a holiday best known for sending up a flare that said summer was over, school had started, Jerry Lewis was having his annual telethon and football season was underway.

  • Whither the U.S. energy boom? Answer may lie in the halls of government

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Sun, Aug 31, 2014

    WHITHER oil prices? The question is posed here rhetorically, but it’s not an academic question in the halls of commerce and the halls of government. Oil prices are critical to Oklahoma’s economic fortunes and state tax revenues. “Energy price forecasts are highly uncertain, and the current values of futures and options contracts suggest that prices could differ significantly from the forecast levels,” the U.S. Energy Information Administration noted on Aug. 12. In other words, the most reliable answer to the question posed above is, “Who knows?” Indeed, that answer has been apt for decades when the same question was asked. But other answers have never been in short supply. In this area, “experts” abound.

  • 'Local control' not worth much if locals don't participate

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Sun, Aug 31, 2014

    POPULIST sentiment, which remains strong in Oklahoma, sees local government as most responsive to the people because it’s closest to the people. But as has often been noted, “local control” exists only if people actually participate in local elections. Too often they don’t. Ironically, this means that shifting power to local governments can actually increase the clout of special interest groups. Consider Ferguson, Mo., the riot-plagued St. Louis suburb. Although two-thirds of the community’s residents are black, five out of six members on the city council are white. The mayor is white. Six of seven school board members are white; the seventh is Hispanic. The black residents weren’t denied access to the ballot box.

  • ScissorTales: Oklahoma lawsuit over executions has merit

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Sat, Aug 30, 2014

    THIRTEEN minutes into the execution of Clayton Derrell Lockett in April, as Lockett grimaced and writhed, someone closed the blinds on the window that gives witnesses their view of the procedure. Soon after, media witnesses were escorted away. Lockett was declared dead 43 minutes after the execution began. Now a freelance journalist, two news organizations and the American Civil Liberties Union have joined in a lawsuit that seeks to ensure such questionable behavior doesn’t happen again. Plaintiffs want to put in place a restriction on blinds being closed during any execution, and a requirement that the Department of Corrections allow media to witness the IVs being placed in the inmate.

  • USC football player hardly alone in bending the truth

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Fri, Aug 29, 2014

    THE truth will make you free, the Good Book says. So why do so many of us choose to stay shackled? The story of University of Southern California football player Josh Shaw has put the art of deception in the news — again. Shaw showed up at the school last weekend with two badly sprained ankles. By way of explanation, Shaw said he had jumped off a second-story apartment balcony in order to rescue his young nephew from drowning in a swimming pool. USC posted the story on its website. Why not? Shaw, a senior cornerback, is a team captain. And college football programs are always glad to promote feel-good stories, particularly given how many of the other kind they deal with. The story of Shaw’s heroism spread quickly Monday

  • The expense of holding runoff elections raises legitimate questions

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Fri, Aug 29, 2014

    OKLAHOMA’S recent runoff elections determined party nominees in several races, but they didn’t answer a bigger question: Does the benefit of a runoff exceed its cost? Runoff elections cost the state an estimated $800,000. Voter turnout is typically about half the participation rate of the primary election. This can mean runoff elections draw just 10 percent to 15 percent of eligible primary voters. Also, runoff elections lengthen the campaign season. If Oklahoma had no runoff system, the Aug. 26 election would have been the first of the season, rather than the second of three (primary, runoff and general). Consider, too, that the expensive Aug. 26 runoff featured just two statewide races — the Democratic nominating