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Roundup of Oklahoma editorials

Published on NewsOK Modified: November 26, 2014 at 11:28 am •  Published: November 26, 2014
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Here are excerpts from recent editorials in Oklahoma newspapers:

Tulsa World, Nov. 25, 2014

Blowback: Is wind industry carrying its weight?

A decade ago, Oklahoma welcomed the wind industry, offering developers incentives and subsidies and minimal red tape.

The turbines went up. Now attitudes of political leaders are shifting. Enthusiasm has been dampened by the racket from spinning blades, nighttime flashing lights, loss of panoramic views and insufficient public notice about where the turbines will be erected.

There's another thing on those leaders' minds — money. Continued tax breaks are being questioned. In a recent report on state tax incentives, Oklahoma Watch reporter Warren Veith identified 12 tax breaks that cost the state more than $170 million, including those on wind energy development. In the past four years, overall tax breaks and credits have doubled, costing the state $760 million, 10 percent of the state's $7.1 billion budget.

Any drain on revenues is a drain on funding for core services, including public education and health-care services. Discussions are ongoing about cutting incentives, with Sen. Mike Mazzei, R-Tulsa, calling all this tax relief "corporate welfare."

Recipients claim that the tax breaks help create more jobs and economic stimulus. They definitely do some of that but maybe not enough and not always on a long-term basis.

After wind farms are up and running, for instance, how many long-term jobs remain? The combined cost of the wind-power income tax credits and property tax exemptions has grown from $7 million to $50 million.

The question for lawmakers this legislative session — one that Mazzei plans on asking — is whether Oklahoma can continue to offer that level of generosity when its core services go begging.

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The Oklahoman, Nov. 26, 2014

Ferguson: A symbol of deep divides among Americans

Two words that weren't spoken by Barack Obama on Monday night:

Darren Wilson.

He's the white police officer who shot and killed a black lawbreaker in Ferguson, Mo., in August. A grand jury that sat for months and weighed mounds of evidence essentially exonerated Wilson of any wrongdoing. The man was vilified. His life threatened. His career is in shambles. Many Americans still consider 18-year-old Michael Brown as the only victim in this case.

Ferguson, Mo., police officer Darren Wilson is a victim as well. But Wilson is a victim as well. Yet Obama, in a prime-time TV appearance, never mentioned the man. Instead, he turned the grand jury's decision not to indict Wilson into a rambling discourse on the need for better race relations in this country.

Following announcement of the decision, the streets of Ferguson turned into a theater of the absurd, with CNN reporters interviewing each other about the effects of tear gas and subtle hints that the police show of force may have been overwrought.

Then the curtain rose on the setting of fires, vandalism and looting of a liquor store, among other venues. Obama's call for calm — and that of Brown's own family — were unceremoniously ignored. Indeed, split-screen images featured Obama's face and voice on the right while the mayhem was escalating on the left.

We were among those who urged the public to await the grand jury's determination and accept the findings of those who know the case best. Rushes to judgment in August turned Brown into an instant hero and martyr for racial injustice. He is neither.

That the grand jurors — nine white, three black — could find no justification for sending Wilson to a trial says everything we need to know about the legal particulars of the case. That case, we now know, was weak. Still, we thought the grand jury would recommend trial on the lesser charge of involuntary manslaughter, effectively kicking the can down the road.

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