Did that Oklahoma Highway Patrol trooper cite you for speeding because you were endangering others or because he's hoping to get a raise? It's a valid question, given that the formula the OHP uses to evaluate its troopers is based partly on the number of tickets issued and arrests made. A spokesman for the department told the Tulsa World that the goals are tied to public safety. We're all for that. But we share concerns mentioned by some troopers and an attorney that such a formula can serve to take discretion out of the equation. Not to mention it just doesn't feel right. As one trooper said: “I think it's detrimental to the way that the public sees me.”
Not much luck
Justin Jones' plea for help went nowhere with the governor's office. Jones, head of the Oklahoma Department of Corrections, asked for an additional $66.7 million for the next fiscal year to help deal with prison crowding and to try to boost pay for his workers. Gov. Mary Fallin's proposed budget includes just a $1 million bump for the DOC, and Fallin didn't devote even a sentence about corrections in her State of the State speech. Perhaps that's because she signed a prison reform bill last year. But there's been little buy-in from the groups involved in making that plan work. Fallin's budget chief suggested that Jones is overstating his needs. Few agency heads ever get all the money they ask for, nor do they expect to. But there's no overstating the fact that our prisons are bumping up against capacity and will continue to do so, creating a dangerous situation for workers and inmates.
Making a difference
Central Oklahoma Habitat for Humanity won't have to worry about securing materials for the next three dozen or so houses it builds. Malarkey Roofing Products is donating the materials for 40 roofs — a gift worth about $120,000. The first roof was installed this week. Malarkey, based in Portland, Ore., opened a plant on S Council Road in 2012. Plant manager Jay Kreft says the company has long supported Habitat for Humanity, which provides homeowner opportunities to low-income people. “We just look forward to giving back to the community that has been so generous and open to us coming here as a new manufacturer,” Kreft said. It's a generous gift, one that'll be put to good use by an organization that's been lifting people up in the Oklahoma City area for 25 years.
The wrong approach
The state's Quality Jobs Act provides tax rebates to companies that build or expand in Oklahoma, provided they meet certain payroll, wage and benefit criteria. State Rep. Eric Proctor wants to add a quota system to the mix. A bill by Proctor, D-Tulsa, would require that military veterans comprise at least 10 percent of a company's new hires if it wants to get Quality Jobs Act benefits. “It is my sincere hope that the Legislature will be able to put our troops and their families before politics and any special-interest groups who stand in the way of jobs for our veterans,” Proctor proclaimed this week. We're all for helping the men and women who have gone off to war. But mandating that a company hire X amount of any class is wrong. And in this case, it suggests that new or expanding companies are actively working not to hire veterans. This bill should be shelved.