During debate on a bill, state Rep. Dennis Johnson, R-Duncan, said customer service gives small businesses like his an edge over big stores and chains, even though customers might try to “Jew me down on a price.” Johnson, 59, later said he grew up hearing that scurrilous phrase but didn't know why he used it. It “just came out of one of the wrinkles of my brain and was not something that was intentional.” His excuse might hold more water except that he was speaking on the floor of the Oklahoma House, where one expects a modicum of thought to accompany the proceedings. And it might fly better if Johnson had immediately corrected himself. Instead he continued his debate until a colleague pointed out what he had said. “Did I?” Johnson responded. Then, smiling, he added, “I apologize to the Jews. They're good small businessmen as well.” No doubt the Jews will be glad to hear that.
We've previously praised SHINE (Start Helping Impacted Neighborhoods Everywhere), a program launched by Oklahoma County Commissioner Brian Maughan that sentences low-level offenders to remove graffiti, haul away trash and clear brush in blighted areas. The program saves the county money by easing crowding at the county jail and providing free labor for jobs that otherwise would be done by county work crews. State lawmakers apparently see the value of the program, because they've approved a new law extending the program to deadbeat parents. Under House Bill 2166, courts can require individuals who owe child support to work two eight-hour days per week in programs like SHINE. “Working two days a week picking up litter or painting over graffiti might just provide the motivation some of these nonpaying parents need,” Maughan said. We certainly hope so. If not, at least the community will be cleaner as a result.
Legislation addressing drought-related challenges has been sent to the governor to be signed into law. House Bill 1923 would create the Emergency Drought Relief Fund and an Emergency Drought Commission. After an emergency drought declaration is issued, the commission will recommend fund expenditures to the governor. That group's members include the executive director of the Oklahoma Conservation Commission, the secretary of agriculture, and the executive director of the Oklahoma Water Resources Board. Money placed in the fund could be used for things like pond cleanup and construction; water conservation in agriculture; providing water for livestock; rural fire suppression activities; red cedar eradication; soil conservation; emergency infrastructure conservation; and other activities. We endorsed this proposal, which is simply a good management effort to prepare for potential drought challenges. Hopefully, the drought will break this summer and the fund won't be needed.