LEGISLATIVE leaders apparently weren't thrilled with the idea of giving the state's auditor and inspector the resources and the latitude to run a magnifying glass over state agencies.
Auditor and Inspector Gary Jones had hoped voters could decide in November whether to amend the state constitution to allow his office to initiate performance audits of state agencies. Currently such audits must be requested by the governor, the agency's director or the Legislature. As a result, they rarely happen.
That will continue to be the case. A House joint resolution (and a companion in the Senate) requesting a vote of the people recently died quietly without being heard on the House floor. If leadership had backed the bill, it almost certainly would have gone to the full body for consideration.
A survey in January by SoonerPoll.com found that nearly 75 percent of likely Oklahoma voters favored Jones' idea. He proposed paying for the performance audits through dedication of one-tenth of 1 percent of state sales tax revenue, about $2 million per year.
There may have been concerns that this change would give the auditor too much power. But if state agencies are spending taxpayer money properly, they should welcome the scrutiny.
Lawmakers are usually more than willing to let voters decide issues. It's disappointing they chose not to this time around.
Liberal guys and girls aren't the only ones who wanna have fun and make a statement. PETA is notorious for its attention-getting street theater tactics. A conservative group called The National Center for Public Policy Research joined the fun this month by deploying a HAZMAT team to dramatize the dangers of dealing with a broken compact fluorescent light bulb. Then it said it would hire a discount hypnotist called Klepto the Mediocre to compel Americans to buy the Chevy Volt, a car that only the Obama administration seems juiced about. Since so much of the “Occupy” movement has been ludicrous and childish, the NCPPR's response is apropros. All the idiotic “Occupy” stunts need a conservative counterpart. How about an Easter parade of movie androids to demonstrate the robotic nature of so much “Occupy” rhetoric?
Spring has officially arrived, whether you mark the season by the calendar or the landscape. If you're among the 40 million Americans who suffer from nasal allergies, the tree pollen is a less-than-welcome feature of this time of year. Oklahoma City jumped from 22nd to sixth in this year's “Spring Allergy Capital” rankings by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. The report considers pollen scores, the number of allergy medicines used per patient and the number of board certified allergists per patient. Tulsa comes in 28th, and Knoxville, Tenn., tops the list for the third year in a row. In addition to seeking relief for your symptoms, the foundation suggests you proactively reduce your exposure to pollen. If you venture forth from your abode to enjoy the outdoors, do so in the afternoon or evening — pollen counts are highest in the early hours, when trees tend to pollinate. Though your runny nose and watery eyes may curse the advent of the season, take time to appreciate the beauty in bloom.
We've noted before the tendency of lawmakers to waste taxpayer money with politically charged press releases. State Rep. James Lockhart, D-Heavener, piggybacked on the presidential visit this week to thank the White House “for agreeing to allow” a pipeline project linking Cushing to the Gulf Coast. The project didn't need White House support. Whatever agreement came from the White House is as hollow as an empty pipeline. What does need White House agreement is a pipeline from Cushing into Canada. For the record, Lockhart supports both segments. We know this because taxpayers funded a press release so that Lockhart and fellow legislators can campaign for re-election on the public's dime.
Employers are now seeking information about prospective workers not only through interviews, references and background checks; they're increasingly asking to step into applicants' social media shoes. Checking a candidate's social networking profiles is nothing new, but many users make their profiles private — so companies are asking them to “friend” human resources managers, log in during an interview or even hand over their passwords. Soliciting or sharing login information, not to mention accessing another's account, violates Facebook's terms of service. Questions about the legality of the practice have prompted legislation in Illinois and Maryland. On the other end of the spectrum, actors are critical of the personal information about them that is public. Profiles on the Internet Movie Database reveal birth dates and more. Stars are upset both when information listed is inaccurate and when it's truthfully revealing, The Wall Street Journal reports. While celebrities might just have to get used to the fact that some fans are curious enough to compile information about them, regular people should be able to manage their digital interactions smartly and safely, without having to give up their password to get a job.
Protests from the left and the right were staged to coincide with Barack Obama's first presidential visit to Oklahoma, but the Sierra Club was not among those protesting Obama's sudden love of hydrocarbons and pipelines. We regret the error of naming the Sierra Club as a participant in the protests, which we did in a Wednesday editorial. The protests seemed as hollow as Obama's remarks in Cushing, but it was the only opportunity for local protests of the president's environmental, energy and fiscal policies while Obama was actually here. Such eager opportunism reminds us of the local TV meteorologists who haven't had much to do since the August wildfires until the emergence of typical spring weather in recent days.
President Obama's remarks in Cushing ran to about 1,060 words. The cost of getting Air Force One here from a previous stop in New Mexico was an estimated $149,792. So the Cushing speech ran to about $141 per word, or slightly more if you don't count the obligatory “Thank you, God bless you, and God bless the United States of America.” The figure doesn't include any other costs associated with the stopover. The words themselves were utterly forgettable, but that was by design. This was a photo-op so an image of Obama could be framed by pipes ready for the laying. A picture is worth a thousand words; this picture was worth about $150,000. The lucky few who attended the Cushing speech got something priceless to them — camera phone photos of the president's brief sojourn in our midst.