• Oklahoma ScissorTales: Revamped ethics website offers more transparency

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

    WE'VE long supported government transparency, believing citizens armed with information are crucial to functional democracy. The Oklahoma Ethics Commission is aiding that cause through new rules adopted in 2015 and through an updated website that provides access to vast amounts of data: http://guardian.ok.gov/PublicSite/HomePage.aspx. Among other things, the commission's rules now require lobbyists to report expenditures monthly during the legislative session, as opposed to the prior requirement for reporting expenditures just once every six months. This allows citizens to connect dots that weren't always publicized until after the end of the legislative session in prior years. Through the Guardian site, users can identify

  • An eternal light, burning bright on midnight clear

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

    NO man ever spoke like him. He came from out of nowhere, or so it seemed. He had no national name recognition, no family connections, no rich uncle. Yet he built a coalition that remains today. He was enormously popular at times, but scorned and criticized at others. He was plain spoken, spoke from the heart, hardly took time for his own needs, needed little and provided much. He pulled unspeakable joy out of the bellies of the downcast yet stuffed self-righteousness down the throats of the sanctimonious. He turned the tables on convention. He cast out false assumptions, sickened the establishment and established hope for the sick. Were he with us today, in the flesh, liberals would love his compassion but

  • Chickasaw offer breathes new life into OKC museum project

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

    WHAT for the longest time seemed to be a project that wouldn't be completed — the American Indian Cultural Center and Museum in Oklahoma City — suddenly has new life and very real prospects for success. For this we can thank the Chickasaw Nation. On Tuesday, the tribe offered to partner with Oklahoma City to complete the center, which sits half- finished along the south banks of the Oklahoma River. Work stopped a few years ago when money on the state project ran out, and since then all proposals to get to the finish line have foundered. The most recent of those had come this spring when the Legislature approved a bill turning the AICCM over to Oklahoma City.

  • Concerns voiced over potential changes to OK alcohol laws

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

    BACKERS of an effort to change some of Oklahoma's alcohol laws say the intention is to modernize. Oklahoma's mental health commissioner, Terri White, sees it differently. “What we're really talking about is alcohol convenience,” White says. White and her agency's director of prevention services, Jessica Hawkins, have a number of concerns about selling wine in some grocery stores — it's now available only in liquor stores — and in switching to single-strength or “strong” beer instead of the current 3.2 beer that is sold in only a handful of states. These are two proposals being considered by lawmakers. Any proposed changes would need to be approved by a vote of the people because they require changes to the Oklahoma

  • Revisions to A-F grading of Oklahoma schools may end up being minor

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

    WHEN A-F grades were issued for schools in October, state schools Superintendent Joy Hofmeister said in a news release she had “no confidence in the validity or reliability of the report cards in their current framework.” That was in line with what Hofmeister had said in campaigning for the office. The message was different when she and other members of the State Board of Education received recommendations for changing the grading system. Officials announced last week that no changes would be implemented for at least a year. Logistical reasons were cited as reason for delay, such as changes to federal education law and a state budget shortfall. That's understandable.

  • Fear of violence against U.S. Muslims is overblown

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

    ONE of President Obama's least appealing traits is his tendency to insinuate that Americans are poised to engage in rampant anti-Muslim bigotry, including violence, unless every discussion of Islamic terrorism includes a warning against such acts. Yet violent crimes targeting Muslims because of their religion remain extremely rare, as even a new report from an Oklahoma Muslim group demonstrates. The FBI's Uniform Crime Reporting Program includes data on hate crimes. In 2014 (the most recent year for which data is available) the FBI reported 5,479 hate crime incidents involving 6,418 offenses that targeted 6,727 victims. Just 17.1 percent of those crimes were driven by religious bias. And just 16.3 percent of that sliver

  • Oklahoma state shortfall means no more business as usual

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

    OIL prices have declined significantly — by 70 percent since June 2014 — and Oklahoma energy companies have been forced to cut back production, lay off workers and rethink business strategies. Now Oklahoma state government, which relies heavily on taxes generated by oilfield activity, must do the same. That became abundantly clear last week when officials announced state lawmakers would have $900 million less to appropriate in the coming session, a figure that was certified Monday by the state Board of Equalization. Officials also said a revenue failure will be declared for the current budget year, requiring agencies to immediately pare expenditures. It's worth noting the appropriations set by the Legislature account for

  • Wind transmission proposal stands to benefit Oklahoma, workers

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

    MICHAEL Skelly, president of Clean Line Energy, has fingers crossed that the U.S. Department of Energy will give the green light to his company's plan to build a 720-mile, direct-current transmission line from the Oklahoma Panhandle to Tennessee. Oklahomans should hope this happens, too. The Plains and Eastern Clean Line project would take 4,000 megawatts of electricity — four Hoover Dams worth of energy, powered by roughly 2,000 wind turbines in the Oklahoma and Texas panhandles — and ship it to utilities in the southeastern United States. Arkansas would snag 500 megawatts for utilities there.

  • Identifying federal waste is one thing, cutting it is something else

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

    THE old saying goes that you can lead a horse to water, but can't make him drink. A corollary may be that you can identify waste in government, but can't make bureaucrats save money. This problem was highlighted at a recent hearing of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs and Federal Management, chaired by U.S. Sen. James Lankford, R-Oklahoma City. The hearing reviewed government efficiency and cost-saving recommendations issued by the Government Accountability Office and the federal agency Offices of Inspectors General, which are the primary auditing offices of the federal government. Both entities have identified numerous ways to save money. Yet as many as one in five recommendations

  • It’s time to cast a wider net to find Oklahoma teachers

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

    MUCH has been made of the increase in emergency teaching certificates issued in Oklahoma schools this year. Yet many individuals receiving those certificates bring a wealth of knowledge that can benefit students. If policymakers truly want to reduce Oklahoma's teacher shortage, they must expand the teacher supply beyond those who have gone to college specifically to become teachers. This doesn't require sacrificing quality for quantity. Fortunately, the members of the state's Teacher Shortage Task Force recognize this fact. The nine recommendations submitted by the task force focus on ways to better support, recruit and incentivize teachers while also making it easier to enter the profession.

  • Oklahoma ScissorTales: For Fiorina, another strong effort

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Sat, Dec 19, 2015

    THE crowded stage at the Republican presidential debates — there were nine on hand Tuesday in Las Vegas — makes it difficult for any one candidate to excel. Yet Carly Fiorina continues to make the most of her limited time. As she has all along, Fiorina offered concise answers and solid proposals whenever the debate steered her way Tuesday.  Here are a few examples: Regarding the fight against ISIS, Fiorina noted that the Patriot Act was passed several years before the invention of the iPhone and the iPad. “Technology has moved on, and the terrorists have moved on with it,” Fiorina said. “We need the private sector's help, because government is not innovating.” She returned to the issue of technology later

  • Plenty of talk, but little of substance from Paris climate meeting

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Fri, Dec 18, 2015

    BILL Clinton, his spokesman once said, “kept all of the promises he intended to keep.” George Stephanopoulos no doubt regretted those words before he even finished saying them. Barack Obama and his counterparts from throughout the world made some promises in Paris the other day that Obama says he intends to keep. Nice try, Mr. President, but you know better. The climate agreement's promises are likely worth less than the hallowed paper they were written on. The Moulin Ruse reached in Paris involves nearly 200 nations making carbon emission promises to which nothing will bind them. The climate talks were a triumph of diplomacy, not environmentalism. They were aimed at reaching an agreement rather than tying

  • Energy sector wins with D.C. spending deal

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Fri, Dec 18, 2015

    LIKE any spending bill, the package ironed out this week by congressional leaders won't please everyone. That's how compromise works. Yet the nation's energy sector has reason to cheer because the end of the 1970s-era oil embargo is at hand. Republicans have been pushing to repeal the ban, a proposal opposed by Democrats. In October, the House voted by a wide margin to do away with the ban, but didn't have the support necessary to overcome a threatened veto by President Barack Obama.

  • GOP must go all in to find best candidate

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Thu, Dec 17, 2015

    DONALD Trump, statesman? Who knew? Trump provided the biggest news from the fifth debate of Republican candidates for president when he said that yes, he would indeed stick with the GOP and not launch a third-party candidacy if he fails to win the nomination. The prospect of Trump bolting has had the party on edge because doing so would virtually guarantee victory in November 2016 for the Democratic nominee, likely Hillary Clinton. Trump was, for the most part, his usual audacious self during the two-hour debate Tuesday night, particularly when sparring with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. But his tone was almost reserved as he declared his allegiance to the party. “I've gained great respect for the Republican

  • OKC school board ‘race’ may serve to fuel voter cynicism

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Thu, Dec 17, 2015

    WE'VE written many times about the problem of low voter participation in elections. Too many citizens think the system is rigged and that their votes don't really count. We disagree, but such views are given validity when politicians engage in shenanigans that prevent any public vote in an election, as appears to be the case for an Oklahoma City school board seat. Incumbent Oklahoma City School Board member Laura Massenat filed as a candidate for re-election last week. Then during the final hour of the final day of filing, Paula Lewis filed for the same office. The next day, Massenat announced she was withdrawing and supporting Lewis, who could now run unopposed. Lewis will be elected without a single vote cast.

  • Foundation's work helps fuel OKC's research center

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Wed, Dec 16, 2015

    SIMPLY put, the energy sector in Oklahoma is hurting. Continuing low oil prices have forced companies that were growing a year ago to let workers go, and reduce spending in areas such as exploration. The Bureau of Economic Analysis noted last week that Oklahoma's gross domestic product in the second quarter was minus-2.4 percent, worst in the country. Yet the state in general, and Oklahoma City in particular, are better equipped to handle this slump because the economy is more diversified than it was during previous oil busts. Nowhere is that more evident than in the research center on Lincoln Boulevard spawned 30 years ago by the Presbyterian Health Foundation. The foundation was created by the $50 million sale in 1985 of

  • In funding campaigns, voters prefer a pragmatic approach

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Wed, Dec 16, 2015

    NEW polling by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research finds Americans still prefer that political candidates raise money on their own from private sources, rather than have it handed to them by the government. Score one for common sense. The poll found 56 percent of respondents preferred that presidential campaigns raise money from private donations, compared with 26 percent who wanted the federal government to provide a set amount to campaigns. Another 17 percent preferred a system in which the federal government matches some private donations raised by candidates.

  • As presidential campaign continues, might ‘war on youth’ become an issue?

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Tue, Dec 15, 2015

    ONCE she sews up her party's nomination for president, it's safe to assume Democrat Hillary Clinton will at least occasionally invoke the “war on women” allegedly being waged by the Republican Party. This argument is tied mostly to GOP efforts to protect the unborn, and their fight against Obamacare insurance mandates related to abortifacients. Might the eventual Republican nominee want to consider bringing up the Democrats' war on American youth? In a recent article, Washington Examiner politics editor James Antle makes the case that there would be plenty of fodder for such a narrative.

  • Proposed education sales tax could hit OK police, firefighters

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Tue, Dec 15, 2015

    COULD an increase in the state sales tax rate create funding shortfalls for police and firefighters? The Oklahoma Municipal League argues it could. The group offers a serious critique that merits attention. A portion of the proposed $615 million tax increase, which could be placed before voters next year if supporters gather enough signatures, would be earmarked for teacher pay raises. But it's being challenged as a violation of the Oklahoma Constitution's ban on logrolling separate issues into one proposition. To support the teacher pay portion, Oklahomans would also have to authorize unrelated spending programs and alter appropriation powers. The state Supreme Court is expected to hear arguments in the case Wednesday.

  • Moves by OPEC ministers weigh on Oklahoma oil patch

    The Oklahoman Editorial | Published: Mon, Dec 14, 2015

    ABOUT 6,500 miles lie between the town of Laverne in northwestern Oklahoma and the city of Lagos in southwestern Nigeria. But these places have something in common. They're enduring the economic fallout from low crude oil prices. And no official in either Laverne or Lagos can do much about it. Nigeria is a member of OPEC, the cartel that seems determined to inflict damage on — if not starve — the North American energy boom. Recently, OPEC ministers decided to continue oil production at the high, extant levels, thereby keeping crude prices low. The reaction to the price slump in Laverne: “I don't know that we have an answer,” Mayor Susan Davis says. The reaction to the price slump in Nigeria: “There




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