ScissorTales: Sparring over open records requests leaves governor in a bad light

The Oklahoman Editorials Published: November 24, 2012
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The Court Appointed Special Advocates of Oklahoma County are banking on a little holiday cheer to help the children CASA serves. On Giving Tuesday, which arrives next week, one of CASA's board members will match any gift made to the organization through its website (www.okcountycasa.org/light-of-hope) or by phone (405) 713-6612. This is the first year for Giving Tuesday, a national event that seeks to use the momentum around the holidays and direct it toward giving. “We have Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday, so why not Giving Tuesday?” says CASA's development coordinator, Emily Mapes. All proceeds will go toward serving the abused and neglected children CASA represents in court. This organization does great work, and this effort merits support.

Ticket to the unemployment line

Ken Qualls' zealousness cost him his job. Qualls was a Piedmont police officer until a few weeks after he cited the mother of a 3-year-old boy for public urination because the youngster tried to do his business in the family's front yard. The ticket issued Nov. 4 was amended to contributing to the delinquency of a minor — something prosecutors, we're glad to say, refused to pursue. Such citations are generally reserved for adults who help teenagers buy beer or provide them with illegal drugs. In other words, for those who really do contribute to the delinquency of a minor. News of the tinkling ticket spread far and wide and produced a storm of protest. On Nov. 16, Qualls was given his pink slip by the city manager. Qualls' attorney says the firing was an overreaction caused mostly by embarrassment. But the sentiment of Piedmont Mayor Valerie Thomerson in backing her city manager is likely shared by many: “I will not defend stupid.”

An easy decision

In denying a name-change request in a transgender case last year, Oklahoma County District Judge Bill Graves was guided by his aversion to such procedures on moral grounds. But Graves is compelled to follow the law, and on those grounds he failed. This week a three-judge panel of the Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals ruled unanimously that Graves must order the name change for Steven Charles Harvey, who had asked to change his name to Christie Ann Harvey. Judges may deny a name-change request if they find it's being sought “for an illegal or fraudulent purpose.” Graves said people can't really change their gender because their DNA remains the same, so in essence they're perpetrating a fraud. Poppycock, the appeals court said: “The relevant issue in a name change proceeding is not whether the applicant's DNA corresponds with the traditionally male or female name preferred by the applicant. The statute does not change the sex of the applicant, only the applicant's name.” Graves' decision was ridiculous, its appeal an easy call for the court.

Concerns are for naught

The state Supreme Court this week said a proposed $25 million bond issue for the Zink Dam in Tulsa was unconstitutional because it essentially was a gift to the city. State Sen. Patrick Anderson, R-Enid, who had challenged the plan, said he hoped that “in the future ... policymakers will pay closer attention to the state constitution.” But Anderson's concerns are for naught, at least as they pertain to bond issues. The Republican-controlled Legislature has made it abundantly clear it wants nothing to do with increasing the state's bonded indebtedness. As a result, proposals to use bond issues for truly worthwhile projects, such as repair of the Capitol and construction of a new state medical examiner's office, have been rejected. With the GOP adding members in the House and Senate with this year's elections, that sentiment isn't about to change.

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