As the saying goes, timing has a lot to do with the success of a rain dance. That's especially true of tax proposals. Oklahoma County officials had planned to submit a $350 million jail proposal this spring, but decided to delay that action. Officials worried that placing the issue on the ballot at the same time as school board elections could hurt turnout for either the tax question or the board races. Regardless of timing, the half-cent sales tax increase is likely to face resistance from voters. And regardless of timing, the current jail will remain inadequate. Although officials have addressed most jail critiques raised by the federal Justice Department in 2007, the remaining problems require major structural changes. If the facility isn't replaced, it may be just a matter of time before the federal government takes it over.
It happens everywhere
Over and over again, friends and neighbors complained to the state's human services agency about the way Semeria Greene, 26, treated her five children. Indeed child welfare workers say they had tried several times in the past two years to remove the kids from Greene's care. Just last month, a court denied the agency's most recent request. A few weeks later, Greene allegedly stabbed her 8-year-old daughter to death. The woman's other four children were taken into protective custody; Greene now faces charges of murder and child abuse. All this happened recently in Michigan. Oklahoma is hardly alone when it comes to dysfunctional families and the safety nets designed to protect children.
Oklahoma, like much of the country, is still suffering the effects of one of the longest dry spells in recent memory. But most people may not want to live through what it will take to return to normal moisture levels in the next few months. Climatologists say at least 8 feet of snow (and more in some parts of the nation) would be required to return the soil to its pre-drought condition in time for spring planting. Without a sudden infusion of moisture in the next few months, the nation's farmers and ranchers face another tough year, as do countless citizens who have lived through recent wildfires, including here in Oklahoma. But as David Pearson, a National Weather Service hydrologist in Nebraska, notes, the snowfall required to improve the situation is “an amount nobody would wish on their worst enemy.”
Lead, or get out
of the way
As majority party leader in the U.S. Senate, Harry Reid should be a leader. Reid seemed to be anything but that during negotiations over the fiscal cliff. Instead, reporting by The Wall Street Journal reveals, Reid did little more than ignore efforts by Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to cobble together a deal to avoid the cliff. McConnell finally grew tired of Reid's slow-footing and placed a call to Vice President Joe Biden. “Does anyone down there know how to cut a deal?” McConnell asked. The Journal said the two men subsequently talked 15 times during the next day-and-a-half, ultimately producing a plan in which neither side got exactly what it wanted. Of course Reid has become rather adept at doing nothing: The Senate he controls has failed to produce a budget in more than three years.