Friday, March 30, 2007
Tulsa World a "Republican Outfit"
Below is a quote from Daily Kos, the most popular and influential left wing blog on the Internet. The site averages over half a million hits a day. Today they gave their assessment of the Democrats chances of picking up additional Senate Seats in '08. Senator Inhofe's re-election is in the "could get interesting" category.
"Races that are or might be interesting by Election Day 2008. The first thing that surprises is that out of 33 races this cycle, a full 20 have the potential of turning into real races. Given that 14 of those are Republicans, it's a great map for Democrats. If ridiculously popular Gov. Brad Henry runs, this is a race....2010 presents a better chance for him when crazy Tom Coburn faces his first reelection battle. A January Tulsa World poll (essentially a Republican outfit) gave Inhofe ratings of 56/27, and George Bush 47/47."The Tulsa World a "Republican outfit?" PLEASE!! RELATED: Tulsa World Endorses Henry. What????Posted at 3/30/2007 08:08:00 PM |
Laster Leaves Everyone But Meacham Laughing
From the Tecumseh Countywide News & Shawnee Sun: By Wayne Trotter State Sen. Charlie Laster has been a strong supporter of Gov. Brad Henry but that didn't keep him from sending the governor an unmistakable message last week - don't mess around with the Senate on this budget issue. “I love Brad and he's my No. 1 guy in state government, I assure you,” Laster told a legislative breakfast in Tecumseh Friday morning. “But he will not get any sympathy in the Senate for having not been so involved in the budget deal,” said Laster, like Henry a Shawnee Democrat. “He will just have to decide if he wants to line-item veto some of the things in the bill, then sit back and watch and see if there's an override. “That'll be fun,” Laster said. “I look forward to that.” Read more...Posted at 3/30/2007 07:45:00 PM |
Do Job Without Whining
Gov. Brad Henry has a beef with state legislators over their proposed budget, and his beef appears petty and misdirected. Henry vetoed Wednesday $6.8 billion of the Legislature’s $6.9 billion general appropriations bill, calling its formation “flawed.” Henry has complained for the last few days that he did not have input into the bill, and that it’s too early in the session to come up with a spending budget. Did the governor wake up this past week and suddenly discover that the Legislature has been meeting for two months? If the governor wanted to negotiate state spending, why didn’t he have his advisers meeting with legislators? And if they were shut out, why didn’t he say something sooner? Read more...Posted at 3/30/2007 07:31:00 PM |Thursday, March 29, 2007
Henry In Favor of 90% of Budget He Vetoed
Speaker Cargill mentioned at his weekly press conference this afternoon that the governor’s chief spokesman on matters of policy and finance, Scott Meacham, has said that they are in favor of 90 percent of the bipartisan budget that the governor vetoed yesterday. Meacham made his comments yesterday on the News9 Morning Show: NEWS9 MORNING SHOW REPORTER DOUG WARNER: No one is suggesting this morning that the governor is waking up this morning shoving the budget in a paper shredder or anything, but uh, are there any parts that you guys have looked at that you actually like, and think, hey, this was a good move, this was a good decision? STATE TREASURER SCOTT MEACHAM: “I think a lot of the budget is – probably 90 percent of it, maybe a little less than that – is okay.” Insiders are scratching their heads and are asking: Why would the governor veto a budget deal, he's 90% in agreement with?Posted at 3/29/2007 08:30:00 PM |
OKPNS Celebrates 1,000th Post!
Since today the Oklahoma Political News Service celebrates its 1,000th post, I decided it was time to write a brief history of how this site came to be; how I became its founder and editor, and reinstate our philosophy one more time for those of you who may be new readers. I first learned of this website in May of last year when I saw it for sale on Craigslist.org. The seller was an Oklahoma political consultant who purchased the name (URL) but never did anything with it due to time limitations with his regular work. After agreeing on a price, I bought it and on Memorial Day 2006, I published the first story and began making it accessible to anyone interested in Oklahoma politics. The rest as they say is history! Regular OKPNS readers know we report the news with a particular slant – just like the mainstream Oklahoma press. We make no apologies for it because frankly, we tell you upfront - unlike other media outlets whose arguments of objectivity strain credulity. As our readers - and certain party chairmen know - we always offer those who feel offended ample space for rebuttal. Our experience has shown us that some in the public eye have way too thin skins for the positions they hold and/or aspire to. Much of what we do is parody along with the news and commentary. Relax everybody! No harm no foul. Yes, we do solicit tips and inside information from our readers for stories to post on our website, but that information is vetted and is weighed for its credibility. As we've mentioned numerous times to a nameless critic at a competing website with an unhealthy Simian fetish; please point out to us one post that OKPNS has posted that is untrue. As of the writing of this post; we are still waiting. At the bottom of our website, there is a disclaimer that declares the following: Content disclaimer: Oklahoma Political News Service content posted by users does not represent the opinion of Oklahoma Political News Service. OKPNS makes no representations as to the accuracy or validity of this third-party content and is not liable in any way for the use of or reliance upon such content. Whenever possible, such information is marked with the name of the source. No content herein has been authorized by any candidate or political party. Third party content also includes videos. The Oklahoma Political News Service has never produced a video(s) or authorized a video(s) to be made on its behalf. Like other information we post, we obtain videos from public websites such as youtube.com and others. Washington D.C's respected Roll Call Newspaper called us a "new Web log for political junkies in Oklahoma" at our founding. We hope we have lived up to that billing. We will always continue to strive to be informative, provocative, and most important, accurate. Christopher R. Arps Editor/Founder
Labels: OKPNSPosted at 3/29/2007 07:24:00 PM |
Is Time (Finally) Running Out For Jeff McMahan?
State auditor took trips with target of probe OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) State Auditor and Inspector Jeff McMahan says he took three trips in recent years with the owner of an abstract company who's now being investigated by a federal grand jury. Two of those trips he took with Steve Phipps were paid for by Phipps. McMahan's office regulates the abstract industry and state Ethics Commission officials say McMahan isn't allowed to take anything of value from a person or entity he regulates. McMahan spokeswoman Terri Watkins says Phipps paid for a fishing trip to Lake Texoma for McMahan and former Auditor Clifton Scott. She says he also paid for a trip to Biloxi, Mississippi, where McMahan held an educational course for Phipps' abstractors. The two also traveled to New Orleans but Watkins says McMahan paid for his expenses. Phipps and former state Senator Gene Stipe are under investigation by a grand jury in Muskogee which is looking into several abstract companies the men co-own and possible illegal campaign contributions.Posted at 3/29/2007 12:15:00 PM |
Rep. Worthen Call for Dems to Sign Pledge Cards
"Divisiveness destroys success, and too much is at stake for us to surrender to the pitfalls of partisanship. There is no glory in gridlock, but the rewards of working together - of joining forces on behalf of our fellow Oklahomans - are truly without limit." Gov. Brad Henry - 2007 State of the State Address It seems Governor Henry's Democratic colleagues in the legislature heeded his words until he bribed them Monday with a $100,000 fundraiser. Henry today used his line-item veto to strike down $6.8 billion in new state spending, saying legislative leaders employed a "flawed, closed-door process to craft a flawed budget product that did not represent the best interests of Oklahoma taxpayers." The governor is employing curious logic to say a bi-partisan budget agreement doesn't "represent the best interests of the people," especially in light of the current political climate where bi-partisanship is as rare as bull with udders! One would think 149 legislators would have some idea of what is in the best interest of the people. The governor's chutzpah continues: “I do not use my veto authority lightly...I had no other choice but to strike down the spending bill.” Rep. Trebor Worthen (R-Oklahoma City), asked House Democrats yesterday to sign pledge cards committing their votes to uphold the agreement. "House Democrats have formed their own gridlock gang to keep this responsible state budget package from becoming law. They need to quit playing games and throwing temper tantrums and commit to uphold this agreement. The majority of House Democrats voted for this measure when it originally passed the House last week. Then they stood behind the governor today at his press conference, as if to say that they're now against the agreement. The taxpayers of this state expect them to stand up for responsible government and not play partisan games." On Tuesday, the governor distributed his own pledge cards to House Democrats in an effort to gauge support for his efforts. Worthen said that by voting for HB 1234 originally, only to later threaten to help the governor veto it later, House Democrats are being dishonest and appear to just want to have the limelight thrust their way. "Instead of offering constructive criticisms and trying to help find solutions to budgetquestions, House Democrats are standing in the way of a responsible state budget, just because they don't feel like they had enough say in the process. The worst part of it is, they are preventing state government from meeting the April 1 Fund Education First deadline. When we passed this budget bill last week, we met the deadline, but by vetoing this measure now, the governor and his gridlock gang of House Democrats are holding up funding for teachers and education."Posted at 3/29/2007 10:38:00 AM |
DAY 6: Where'd You Go On Your Vacation Governor?
"Most of us in this chamber are here because our constituents sent us here. They placed their trust in us, and in return we must pledge to them a government of complete openness and transparency." Gov. Brad Henry - 2007 State of the State Address "Henry spokesman Paul Sund says the location of first family outings are kept secret to avoid interruptions from people who want to talk or perhaps have dinner with the governor. Sund says the governor's office will reveal the location when the governor returns..." (AP) March 23, 2007 Posted at 3/29/2007 10:16:00 AM |Wednesday, March 28, 2007
Jesse L Jackson Coming to Oklahoma This Week
From OK Blue Notes: Rev. Jesse Jackson will be the guest speaker for the Ninth Episcopal District Spring Convocation. The event will take place at the Sheration Midwest City Reed Conference Center, Wednesday, March 28-Saturday, March 31, 2007. 5800 Will Rogers Road Midwest City, OK . The theme for the occassion is; "From Good to Great - The Jesus Challenge: Building Leaders for Today and Tomorrow"
Labels: OK BluenotesPosted at 3/28/2007 01:12:00 PM |
Freedmen Descendants Hold Rally, March
Oklahoma Black Caucus lends support to movement to get Freedmen back on Cherokee rolls By Jaclyn Houghton CNHI News Service Vicki Baker never used the benefits of being a member of the Cherokee Nation - health care, education and discounted car tags. But a March 3 vote to oust those who cannot trace lineage to one member on the Cherokee Nation’s base roll, known as the Dawes Roll, is personal. “They keep yelling ‘sovereignty, sovereignty.’ It has nothing to do with sovereignty,” said Baker, of Chelsea, Okla. “It has to do with the treaty.” Baker’s great-great-grandmother was an eighth Cherokee and was switched to the Freedmen rolls, which mainly consisted of former tribal-held slaves. She was not a slave. Several legislative members of Oklahoma’s Black Caucus joined the fight Tuesday to overturn the Cherokee Nation’s recent vote, and also joined members of the Descendants of Freedmen Association to protest a fundraiser for Cherokee Principal Chief Chad Smith. Several state elected officials including Gov. Brad Henry, Lt. Gov. Jari Askins, State Treasurer Scott Meacham, Superintendent of Public Instruction Sandy Garrett, Commissioner of Insurance Kim Holland and Senate President Pro Tempore Mike Morgan were expected to host the fundraiser. Read more...Posted at 3/28/2007 10:47:00 AM |
Sen. Coburn Exposes Democrats' Earmark Cover-Up
JOHN FUND ON THE TRAIL The Congressional Research Service is helping its masters hide wasteful spending. Nothing highlighted Congress's spending problem in last year's election more than earmarks, the special projects like Alaska's "Bridge to Nowhere" that members drop into last-minute conference reports leaving no opportunity to debate or amend them. Voters opted for change in Congress, but on earmarks it looks as if they'll only be getting more smoke and mirrors. Democrats promised reform and instituted "a moratorium" on all earmarks until the system was cleaned up. Now the appropriations committees are privately accepting pork-barrel requests again. But curiously, the scorekeeper on earmarks, the Library of Congress's Congressional Research Service (CRS)--a publicly funded, nonpartisan federal agency--has suddenly announced it will no longer respond to requests from members of Congress on the size, number or background of earmarks. "They claim it'll be transparent, but they're taking away the very data that lets us know what's really happening," says Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn. "I'm convinced the appropriations committees are flexing their muscles with CRS." Indeed, the shift in CRS policy represents a dramatic break with its 12-year practice of supplying members with earmark data. "CRS will no longer identify earmarks for individual programs, activities, entities, or individuals," stated a private Feb. 22 directive from CRS Director Daniel Mulhollan. When Sen. Coburn and Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina submitted earmark inquiries recently, they were both turned down. Each then had heated conversations with Mr. Mulhollan. The director, who declined to be interviewed for this article, explained that because the appropriations committees and the White House's Office of Management and Budget (OMB) were now preparing their own lists of earmarks, CRS should no longer play a role in the process. He also noted that both the House and Senate are preparing their own definitions of earmarks. "It is not appropriate for us to continue our research," his directive states. Read more... Sen. Coburn Discusses Earmarks with John Gibson of Fox News ChannelPosted at 3/28/2007 09:57:00 AM |
Henry Shoring Up Veto
Governor Henry made a rare visit to the Democrats' caucus meeting Monday. One veteran lawmaker remarked that in their recollection, this was the first time Henry had ever attended a caucus meeting since being elected in '02. Why now the sudden urge to bond with his Democratic compatriots? Did he simply want to hand out souvenirs and show photos from his recent Mexican vacation? Sources tell OKPNS that Henry promised at the meeting to raise 100k if they would help sustain his line item veto for funding an independent performance audit of the Department of Corrections. There is a familiar pattern here. Last week in Washington, House Democratic leaders had to resort to bribing their own members with pork projects in order to pass a war supplemental bill mandating troop withdrawal timetables. Now, here comes Governor Henry bribing his own Democrats' to sustain his veto. OKPNS will continue to investigate.Posted at 3/28/2007 09:11:00 AM |
Inhofe Vows to Put Brakes on Gore’s ‘Live Earth’ Concert at the Capitol
By Elana Schor Fresh from his face-to-face tussle with former Vice President Al Gore, Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) is vowing to stall Gore’s hotly anticipated Capitol concert to draw attention to global warming. Inhofe’s belief that climate change is “the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people” is common knowledge in the capitol, and environmental groups cheered the new prospects for carbon-capping legislation when he ceded the Environment and Public Works Committee gavel this session. But Inhofe’s parliamentary powers can block indefinitely the resolution that would permit Gore to choose the capitol’s West Front for the U.S. leg of his seven-continent Live Earth concert tour — a collaboration between Gore and promoter Kevin Wall, who masterminded previous blockbuster charity concerts Live Aid and Live 8. “There has never been a partisan political event at the Capitol, and this is a partisan political event,” Inhofe said yesterday. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) attempted late last week to pass the authorizing measure for Live Earth by unanimous consent. But Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) raised an objection on the floor, seeking more time for his side to look at the resolution. Inhofe appeared to see little room for an accommodation that could allow the concert to go forward. “There’s no compromise. Either we change the rules or we don’t.” Read morePosted at 3/28/2007 08:30:00 AM |Tuesday, March 27, 2007
Gov. Henry Announces First Line-Item Veto
Gov. Brad Henry announced his first line-item veto of budget funding today, saying he will use his veto pen to strike down $1 million in supplemental funds earmarked for the Legislature’s Legislative Services Bureau. The governor said the appropriation duplicates the work of existing state authorities and contains no accountability measures to ensure it will be spent responsibly. Henry said it is critical for the state to conduct regular performance reviews of state agencies such as DOC, but state law assigns that duty to the State Auditor and Inspector, the Oklahoma Legislature and the Office of State Finance. Paying a private consultant an additional $1 million to do the same work assigned to other state authorities would be duplicative and a waste of taxpayer money, according to the governor. “We must hold agencies accountable for every dollar they spend so we can get the best bang for taxpayers’ bucks,” said Gov. Henry. “That’s why we fund a state auditor, a state finance office and legislative committees and staffs. That’s why we passed a zero-based budgeting law that charges the Legislature with doing an in-house, top-to-bottom financial review of every state agency on a regular basis. “If they’ve complied with the zero-based budgeting statute and done their regular oversight duties, legislative leaders should already have the information and data they need to determine an appropriate course of action for corrections and any other agency.” Gov. Henry noted that after he signed Oklahoma’s zero-based budgeting law in 2003, one of the first agencies audited by the Legislature’s zero-based budgeting committee was the Department of Corrections.Posted at 3/27/2007 06:46:00 PM |
GOP Leaders: What is Henry Trying to Hide with Veto of Audit Funds?
Republican leaders questioned today Gov. Brad Henry’s line-item veto of funding for an independent performance audit of the Department of Corrections – which the governor described as his “first” line-item veto of HB 1234, the bipartisan general appropriations bill overwhelmingly approved by the Legislature last week. “What is the governor trying to hide with this veto? Is Gov. Henry afraid that an independent performance audit might uncover his mismanagement of a critical public safety agency? Independent performance audits at public school districts have proven very effective at improving efficiency and saving taxpayers’ money. We believe independent performance audits can have the same positive impact on the Department of Corrections and other state agencies,” stated Senate Co-President Pro Tempore Glenn Coffee, R-Oklahoma City. “Perhaps the governor is worried that a more efficient Department of Corrections would interfere with his plans to implement the early release program that he outlined in his State of the State Address?” queried Coffee. “Today Gov. Henry has taken a stand against fiscal responsibility. We hope that he does not decide to take a stand against bipartisanship, too, with additional line-item vetoes the bipartisan general appropriations bill. If additional vetoes occur, the governor will poison the bipartisan atmosphere at the Legislature and will set the stage for a possible government shutdown,” stated Sen. Mike Johnson, R-Kingfisher, the co-chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee. Rep. Rex Duncan, the House leader on public safety, expressed his frustration and disappointment after Governor Henry tried to kill a plan to conduct a top-to-bottom audit and outside review to fix problems in Oklahoma's state prisons. "After four years of failed policies to address our state prisons crisis, Governor Henry has shown the worst kind of arrogance today by killing attempts at reform. Governor Henry is apparently not interested in accountability to the taxpayers. The governor is now playing partisan gridlock games. What is the governor trying to hide by vetoing this plan?" Duncan said the root of the state's prison crisis stems from the failure of the governor and his financial adviser Scott Meacham to budget appropriately for costs at the Department of Corrections over the past several years, consistently low-balling estimates for the DOC by millions of dollars each year. In each case, the Legislature appropriated millions more for state prisons than recommended by the executive branch, and then had to make supplemental appropriations on top of that year after year. The independent outside audit was part of a historic bipartisan budget agreement passed by an overwhelming margin last week in the State Legislature. The DOC audit has been supported by legislative leaders in both parties, and would cost $1 million -- a mere fraction of the DOC's massive half-a-billion-dollar budget. "This audit has the strong support of leaders in both parties. It's a solid effort to reform a broken system," said Duncan. "If this is the governor's first 'symbolic' line-item veto, he is sending a terrible message about business as usual at the State Capitol. The governor makes disingenuous claims that the state auditor or his finance office could perform this audit, but that undercuts his entire argument. His administration has failed to solve the problems in our prisons. Clearly we need some outside expertise, people who don't have a political agenda like the governor does." Duncan said he found it ironic the governor and Meacham apparently are working on hiring an outside consultant for the EDGE initiative, yet they don't see the value in hiring outside expertise to help resolve the state's prison crisis. "We have a real problem in our state's prisons right now, and it's only been made worse by the failed policies of the governor. It's time to stop the harmful cycle of band-aid supplemental spending on our state's prisons, but apparently the governor is comfortable continuing to write blank checks into a broken system."Posted at 3/27/2007 05:26:00 PM |
Message Control Under Fire
From the Saxum Perspective: "Taking control of the message is all-important when communicating (especially in a crisis)... Governor Brad Henry (Democrat) feels slighted by Senate and House Democrats and Republicans leaving his office out of the budgeting process. This is an apparent cut at the Governor for negotiating with former Speaker Hiett (Republican) on last year’s budget while leaving others out of the process. Perception: Governor Henry has sour grapes for being left out of this crucial budgeting situation. Message Control: Governor Henry should ‘thank’ legislators publicly and rip them privately. People love him and there is no reason to expend political capital publicly."Posted at 3/27/2007 01:10:00 PM |
What Are You Trying To Hide Governor?
March 23, 2007 (AP) Henry spokesman Paul Sund says the location of first family outings are kept secret to avoid interruptions from people who want to talk or perhaps have dinner with the governor. Sund says the governor's office will reveal the location when the governor returns...
Today is March 27th, Governor Henry has been back in Oklahoma three days now, and still no word yet on where - or with whom - the governor and his family spent their spring break vacation. The Oklahoma Political News Service reported exclusively last week that Henry and his family were in Cabo San Lucas vacationing at the vacation home of trial attorney Terry West.
This whole episode leaves one scratching their head. What are you trying to hide governor? From Richard Nixon's "Watergate" to Bill Clinton's "Monicagate" to the current U.S. Attorney scandal involving Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez, their missteps have proven that you make a relatively benign situation far worse when you obfuscate and try to cover it up.RELATED: Records Show Taxpayers Paid For Six Henry TripsPosted at 3/27/2007 01:06:00 PM |
A Working Spring Break Brings Families to Capitol
By Senator Jay Paul Gumm Hello again, everybody! Every year, the Oklahoma Legislature works through the Spring Break that students enjoy across the state.
That leads to one of the Capitol’s most happy traditions. Spring Break at the Capitol is a chance for families to be together as spouses and children of legislators often spend the week in Oklahoma City while we are working.Jacob and Deena got to come up and stay with me during Spring Break. Most of my colleagues had children or grandchildren visiting and the long marble halls of the Capitol reverberated with the children’s laughter. Read more...Posted at 3/27/2007 12:49:00 PM |
State Audit Shows Widening Investigation
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) An investigative audit is under way into an agency whose executive director is cited in F-B-I affidavits for allegedly profiting off state funds that were steered to economic development entities in southeastern Oklahoma. First Assistant Attorney General Tom Gruber disclosed in a March 12th letter approval of the request for an investigative audit of Little Dixie Community Action Agency by the office of Auditor and Inspector Jeff McMahan. The disclosure comes as the state's multicounty grand jury was set to begin hearing testimony on Wednesday. Dixie Community Action Agency was founded in 1968 and has been run the past two years by Randall Erwin, one of three former legislators implicated in a federal probe of alleged kickbacks linked to "special project" money they secured as House members for projects. Erwin has denied any wrongdoing and says 68-hundred dollars in cash he received from a business partner of ex-Senantor Gene Stipe wasn't a kickback as alleged in the F-B-I affidavit.Posted at 3/27/2007 11:35:00 AM |
House Leader Opposes Education Funding Cut
House Speaker Pro Tempore Gus Blackwell vowed today to oppose a plan that would slash the amount of lottery funds going to state schools. "Whether you voted to create the lottery or opposed it, everyone should agree that lottery funds are earmarked for education," said Blackwell, R-Goodwell. "Because a majority of people voted this into law, I am sworn to uphold that law and oppose any effort to divert that money. And Governor Henry, as the state's biggest lottery booster, must ensure its operations start living up to the promises he made to children, families and teachers." Oklahoma law requires that education programs receive 35 percent of lottery proceeds beginning in the third year of operation. However, Oklahoma Lottery Commission Executive Director Jim Scroggins recently said lawmakers should divert a significant portion of that money and use it to increase the size of lottery prizes. The law already requires that at least 45 percent of lottery revenue be used for prizes with another 20 percent designated for administrative costs. If Scroggins' plan goes into effect, millions of dollars will becut from school budgets to prop up the floundering lottery. Because state law requires lottery money to be divided among numerous education programs, Oklahoma's K-12 schools get just under 16 percent of gross lottery revenues. "Think about it: Our K-12 public schools get less than 16 cents out of every $1 spent on a lottery ticket, and Director Scroggins thinks that's too much," Blackwell said. Most of the lottery states that border Oklahoma provide just 24 percent to 29 percent of gross revenue for state programs, including education. Scroggins has suggested those states should be a model for Oklahoma. "Oklahoma is one of the only states in the region that has committed a serious share of lottery funds to education," Blackwell said. "I don't think we should abandon that commitment just to help bureaucrats mask their failures." Due to declining performance critics believe is caused by poor management, lottery officials recently announced that that this year's sales will total just $244 million instead of $413 million as originally promised. That means the state's share for education programs fell from $124 million to just $83 million. The lost revenue has created budget problems for schools across the state and threatened teacher pay increases. "Lottery sales have plummeted, which is exactly what opponents of the lottery predicted. This loss now hurts our school budgets and Director Scroggins wants to further cut their share of that declining dollar," Blackwell said. "Our schools deserve better treatment."Posted at 3/27/2007 11:10:00 AM |
Oklahoma Education Association Hosting IdeaRaiser
The next IdeaRaiser for Oklahoma’s 100 Ideas Initiative will be hosted by the Oklahoma Education Association on Thursday, March 29 at 6 p.m. at Westfield Elementary School, 17601 N. Pennsylvania in Edmond. The 100 Ideas Initiative is a non-partisan project designed to solicit the best ideas for Oklahoma’s second century. IdeaRaisers are public meetings designed to encourage input and discussion about those ideas and suggestions. To date, six IdeaRaisers have been held at locations throughout the state, and more are scheduled in the coming months. 100 Ideas Executive Director Thad Balkman said Thursday’s event has great potential for some fantastic ideas related to education and its importance. “I think this IdeaRaiser, much like our higher education event earlier this year, can bring some great minds together to come up with some groundbreaking solutions in addressing education related issues and improving our overall education system,” said Balkman. “The OEA has been very helpful in organizing this event and we are looking forward to a productive evening.”Posted at 3/27/2007 10:41:00 AM |Monday, March 26, 2007
There’s Something Disappointing About Mary
Clever headline, but how long has Fallin been in Congress - two months? Mickey Hepner The Edmond Sun EDMOND — A few months ago, Mary Fallin seemed to be the ideal congressional candidate as she was both likable and experienced. She had served for four years in the state Legislature, another 12 years as lieutenant governor, and through all that she remained likable. Her popularity even prompted this observer to claim that Fallin was a tougher opponent for Democrats than her predecessor Ernest Istook. As appealing as “candidate Fallin” was in November, it is apparent that Congresswoman Fallin has been a disappointment. Read more...Posted at 3/26/2007 09:58:00 AM |
Long Standing Inhofe Amendment to Limit Spending Included in Budget
Sen. James M. Inhofe (R-Okla) claimed victory Friday in his continued battle against rampant federal spending. For three years, Inhofe has proposed a simple, one sentence amendment to the annual Congressional Budget Resolution requiring a supermajority (3/5) vote to exceed the previous fiscal year’s non-defense, non-trust-fund, discretionary spending. After years of effort, Inhofe’s language was incorporated into the fiscal year 2008 Congressional Budget Resolution (S.Con.Res.21) that passed the Senate by a 52-47 vote. Due to increased pressure for fiscal responsibility in Washington, Congress proactively included Inhofe’s language. “The Democrats have once again lived up to their ‘tax and spend’ reputation,” Inhofe said. “My language will help to protect our nation from future irresponsible spending binges.” Inhofe’s language saves taxpayers a projected $9 billion in this year’s budget alone. By comparison, the entire fiscal year 2008 Oklahoma state budget, as passed by state House and Senate, is just over $7 billion. “Though the Democrats’ budget includes essential items that I fought to preserve including essential funding for BRAC and my fiscally conservative language, I cannot support this legislation because of the unnecessary over-spending it contains.” Inhofe said. “In addition to hiking spending by more than $150 billion, the Democrats’ budget calls for a $736 billion tax increase that will ultimately have devastating effects on our economy. Their budget also fails to address entitlement reform, leaving Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid on a path to bankruptcy.” Posted at 3/26/2007 09:08:00 AM |
Budget Spat Gives House Democrats Reason To Crow
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) State House Democrats, nearly invisible on Oklahoma's political landscape the past two years, are finding a reason to exist as Gov. Brad Henry gets ready for a budget showdown with legislative leaders over a state budget they wrote without Henry's input. Democrats ruled the 101-member Oklahoma House for 80 years before they were toppled in elections in 2004 that brought Republicans to power. House Democrats have wallowed in political mediocrity ever since, excluded from budget talks they used to command and failing to find ways to make a difference as the chamber's minority party. The Democratic governor's differences with the state budget and suggestions that he will veto much of it give House Democrats a chance to make themselves relevant again. ``We are excited that our voice may finally get to be heard,'' said House Democratic leader Danny Morgan of Prague. ``If the caucus works carefully with the governor on those issues that are important to our constituents, we can make a positive impact for Oklahoma.'' Henry has threatened to line-item veto parts of the $6.9 billion state budget that was passed unanimously in the Senate and by a wide margin in the House last week. State Treasurer Scott Meacham, a personal friend and close political adviser to the governor, told The Associated Press there is a good chance Henry will veto all funding for the 2008 fiscal year that begins July 1, while authorizing supplemental spending for public schools and state prisons for the remainder of the current fiscal year. Henry has until Wednesday to decide what to do. For his vetoes to be meaningful, they have to survive an override attempt. That's where House Democrats come in. Read more...Posted at 3/26/2007 09:02:00 AM |
Edmondson Defendant in Civil Racketeering Case
By Donna Hales Phoenix Staff Writer Fifteen Oklahoma federal judges, the Oklahoma attorney general and 82 of his employees, including 10 John Does engaged in the AG’s “rackets” were added Friday to a civil racketeering case. The case in federal court in Muskogee already had more than 90 defendants. The initial filing weighs 11.5 pounds. Plaintiffs Pat and Donnie Dobson of Tulsa allege two bail bonding agents are part of a Racketeering Influenced Corrupt Organization conspiring with Wagoner County judges, commissioners, the sheriff, the police chief, other elected officials and citizens and the state insurance commissioner and her employees. The object of the conspiracy allegedly is to assure the two bail bonding agents conduct 98 percent of the bail bonding business in Wagoner County. Read more...Posted at 3/26/2007 08:42:00 AM |
From The Dude Abides: I would like to go ahead and thank Gov. Brad Henry. What am I thanking him for?? NOTHING!! See Brad somehow limped into office thanks to a terribly ran campaign by Steve Largent. Brad was brilliant in a sense though. He knew that he could convince an under-educated population that a quick fix method to education was the only way to go. In a way Brad used a form of peer pressure. Remember the old line, "everyone else is doing it"??? Brad used that on Oklahomans like we were kids smoking cigs out behind the high school. Everyone else had the lotto, so why not here? I'll tell you why not here. There are a couple of reasons. One, we are a poor state. For the most part people here don't have a lot of extra money to spend, which would help explain our current lottery shortfall. Two, all along Brad promised that lottery money would go to educaton in addition to money already allocated. He threw around numbers such as $300 million, but now we are looking at just over $80 million. Lottery critics cited numerous other states who had been told the same things and quoted the same numbers only to have the education fund raided. Guess what?? The critics were right. Read more...Posted at 3/26/2007 08:33:00 AM |Friday, March 23, 2007
Gov. Henry & Family Vacationing at Trial Lawyer's Vacation Home?
So where has the "bipartisan governor" been while his crony and "financial guru" Scott Meacham spent the past week bashing bipartisanship and making wild statements about using the veto pen? GOP Chairman Tom Daxon issued a press release this afternoon asking the same question. He is asking the governor's office to disclose specific and detailed information about the chief executive's Spring Break vacation, where he traveled and stayed, how much the trip cost, and who covered the costs of his trip. "This week has been an important time for the people's business," said Daxon. "And while the governor has been out of pocket, his financial guru Scott Meacham has been making threats about using the veto pen to shoot down the bipartisan budget. I'm hoping the governor will return next week and that cooler heads will prevail. He should also address questions about where he has been." Paul Sund, the governor's communications director, has tried to avoid questions from reporters about the governor's whereabouts -- only willing to say that remarks about the governor's Spring Break vacation were "cheap shots." Well, now we know why the notoriously prickly Sund was so defensive about the governor's trip. Turns out that while leaders in the House and Senate were hammering out the details of a historic bipartisan budget agreement -- the earliest in decades, it seems -- Governor Henry was lounging on the beach and soaking up the rays in Cabo San Lucas at the posh vacation digs of trial lawyer Terry West. The governor has publicly pledged to be in favor of lawsuit reform, but the reality is he's in the hip pocket of the ambulance chasers. More interestingly, while he's been enjoying the rich dividends of jackpot jury verdicts, he's allowed his underlings this week to attempt to sabotage a bipartisan deal that would mark a real turning point in taking care of matters at the State Capitol in a businesslike way. Of course, we won't expect to read any of this information in the mainstream Oklahoma media. The Capitol press corps typically provides the "bipartisan governor" plenty of cover for his trips. All the media has been willing to say is that the governor is "out of state."Posted at 3/23/2007 09:31:00 PM |
Legislator's Discuss Budget Agreement
Sen. Gumm and Rep. Murphey discuss this week's historic budget agreement on our Oklahoma Legislator's Blog.Posted at 3/23/2007 08:43:00 PM |
Statement from Speaker Cargill Regarding Bipartisan Budget Passage
"This budget agreement is a sincere attempt by both chambers to put the business of the state first. Both sides had to make compromises, but in the end, we all feel we have a strong framework in place for the operation of essential government services. "The budget process is in no way complete - allocating nearly $7 billion in funding is a huge task - but with agreements in place on the largest expenditures and most pressing needs of the state, we now are in a good position to negotiate the remainder of the budget and also determine how agencies should use their funds. "I am proud of the working relationships that House and Senate leaders have developed this year in light of the delicate power sharing situation that exits. A veto threatens the common ground that we have found and will put us all in the position where the session will be dominated by our budget differences. It is in everyone's best interests to avoid a giant confrontation over the budget, as developed last session. "We can have a much more productive session with a broad budget agreement in place, from which we can make adjustments. We know that the Governor has not had an opportunity to examine the details of the bipartisan budget agreement. We are absolutely committed to working with the Governor once he has reviewed our proposal, and in discussing any issues or concerns. "I would personally hope that he accepts this offer and approves the agreement so we can continue to move forward on the budget and not return to square one."Posted at 3/23/2007 07:17:00 PM |
House Budget Vice Chair Says Comments by Meacham Demonstrate Treasurer's Lack of Knowledge on Budget Matters
House budget vice chair Rep. Ken Miller, blasted state treasurer Scott Meacham this afternoon in a press release that discounts several "Meachams Myths." "I'm surprised that Meacham would make these kinds of claims. The things he is saying just make him look out of touch," said Rep. Ken Miller(R-Edmond), vice chair of the House Appropriations and Budget Committee. "Unfortunately, it looks like flawed 'Meacham math' strikes again." Miller was one of about nine Democratic and Republican legislative leaders in the House and Senate who helped to craft a landmark bipartisan state budget agreement that is the earliest in decades and the first ever that will meet the Fund Education First April 1 deadline. Miller said that Treasurer Meacham has been making unfounded claims about the bipartisan agreement - a plan that passed the Legislature overwhelmingly this week in House Bill 1234 and now awaits action by the governor. "I really can't understand why Meacham appears to be so upset," said Miller. "Either he's upset because we didn't ask his permission to exercise our constitutional authority to write the budget, or because it doesn't include the irresponsible spending spree that Meacham has tried to push. Meacham's executive budget included about a billion dollars in spending backed by irresponsible debt. So I guess that's why he is lashing out against our fiscally-responsible plan." Miller said Meacham's many factual errors include: * Meacham Myth: Meacham claims the budget agreement in House Bill 1234 does not provide enough funds for school districts to fund last year's teacher pay increase for those teachers who have a portion of their salaries funded by federal money - such as special education teachers. * Fact: The state traditionally does not fund "federally funded" teachers. State agency appropriations for state employee pay raises are prorated based on a percentage of state verses federal funding. * Meacham Myth: Meacham claims the bipartisan budget does not annualize the pay increase so it includes teachers hired in 2007. "By the time schools would get their money, they would actually see a cut in their operations budget," Meacham has said. * Fact: Additional teacher salaries were funded with a $3.5 million supplemental in HB 1234. Additional teachers were funded in the FY-08 appropriation to Common Education based on figures provided by the State Dept. of Education. * Meacham Myth: Meacham claims the bipartisan agreement funds the STARS program, but that the program doesn't exist any longer. * Fact: The STARS (State Transition Aftercare Region System) program exists within the State Military Department. The program was de-funded in FY-05, and the program was re-established in FY-06 through direct funding to the Military Dept. * Meacham Myth: Meacham claims the bipartisan budget agreement only funds the state's higher education system at a 'stand-still' level which would result in "big tuition increases." * Fact: The State Regents for Higher Education received a $101.5 million increase or a 10.9 percent increase for FY-08. The one-time Rainy Day Spillover money used for FY-07 was replaced with on-going revenue in HB 1234. The Governor replaced only $75 million in his executive budget. * Meacham Myth: Meacham inaccurately claims the bipartisan agreement only provides the state Department of Corrections about $10 million, when he claims they need $40 million. "They need $40 million for operations to the end of the fiscal year," Meacham has said. "But the legislature only provided them $10 million. That will only keep them operating for about 30 days." * Fact: The Department of Corrections received sufficient funds to sustain operations until a thorough cash flow analysis can be conducted. The Legislature set aside monies to address additional supplemental needs and perform an audit to evaluate agency operations, best management practices and future funding needs. * Meacham Myth: Meacham claims that lawmakers funded a pay increase for correctional officers twice - in the corrections budget and in the general appropriations budget. * Fact: The Department of Corrections received appropriations to fund the $2,800 across-the-board pay increase for all correctional officers and appropriations to fund the 5 percent salary increase awarded to all state employees including all correctional officers. * Meacham Myth: Meacham has claimed that funding for state prisons is a function of the number of contract beds paid for, plus corrections salaries. * Fact: Funding Corrections is not a function of the number of contract beds. The Office of State Finance has allowed the Department of Corrections to submit a budget work program essentially attributing all operations funding shortfalls to the contract bed expenditure line-item. "Based on his erroneous claims, it's pretty clear that Scott Meacham either hasn't read the budget or doesn't have the slightest clue about state budget matters, which is disturbing considering he's the state's treasurer," Miller concluded. "I hope that when the governor gets back from vacation, he'll reject the outlandish claims made by Meacham and do the right thing by signing the bipartisan budget."Posted at 3/23/2007 06:52:00 PM |
Budget Agreement Accomplishes Conservative Goals
Time Magazine had in its cover this week, a picture of Ronald Reagan with a tear streaming down his cheek. The message: The apparent end of the conservative movement. That is why it is truly historic to have a budget agreement so early in the legislative session. This is also a watershed moment in terms of conservative goals. The budget agreement accomplishes three major conservative goals; the acceleration of tax relief to get the income tax rate down; the practical elimination of the franchise tax on small businesses (a nuisance tax that Governor Keating fought to remove his entire eight years in office) and the passage of a childcare tax credit for stay at home parents (something House Republicans have fought to pass the past two years only to see it die in the Senate previously). The budget deal also includes a top-to-bottom outside audit of the Department of Corrections (again something the House GOP tried to pass the past two years; Henry vetoed it previously). The budget deal will also expand the Academic Achievement Award performance pay plan for the best performing teachers. The AAA program was first passed by the House GOP in 2005; $2 million will be added to this cash bonus plan. The overall budget is truly fiscally-restrained with no new employees, programs or debt: more than half the state agencies included in the general appropriations portion of the agreement will receive a less than one percent increase, and other agencies will receive less than two percent increases. Only vital state services – such as education, public safety and transportation – will receive a more than two percent increase. It certainly is a conservative budget in stark contrast to the $1 billion in new spending and debt that the governor proposed in his executive budget at the beginning of the legislative session. Not surprisingly the governor’s office has lashed out against the budget deal – because it is a conservative budget. Inexplicably, they’ve even attacked the idea of having an outside audit of the Department of Corrections. The mechanics of this are now clear: the governor seems to have backed himself into a corner with veto threats (reminiscent of Clinton insisting he was “relevant” after the ’94 elections). But 90 percent of the Legislature has now passed the budget deal – with a clear majority in the House and a unanimous vote in the Senate (both suggesting likely veto proof majorities). The question is: Did we see in just one week, Governor Henry melt into lame duck status, only two months into his second term of office? Most capitol observers say they can’t imagine how Henry could have handled this worse, and the scuttlebutt is that Meacham really got Henry into a box on this. It was also astounding to see 16 House Democrats vote against the package which included the very education funding they’d been railing about for three weeks! The worst example of this hypocrisy was probably Rep. Jerry McPeak who spent weeks spouting theatrical red-faced speeches and holding staged press conferences on education funding. Then he turned around and voted against that funding yesterday – which included more in supplemental funding than he’d been saying the schools needed!Posted at 3/22/2007 12:20:00 PM |Wednesday, March 21, 2007
AG Overcounting Chicken Houses?
Courtesy of ConiumAttorney Marie West, who once worked for Attorney General Drew Edmondson, and has since sued him, claims she was asked to "lie, to spy on, and to give shoddy legal advice" to the very state agencies she was employed to represent, according to this shocking report first broadcast on KFOR in December. (video has been removed) OKPNS has learned of allegations that the Attorney General's office is purposely over counting chicken houses to bolster its claim of river pollution. This document was distributed at an August, 2006 Oklahoma Scenic River Commission meeting. It shows 3,057 houses in the Illinois River watershed - and then calculates out the amount of litter, etc. According to our source, there were only 1,694 active houses. There may be 3,057 poultry houses, but many of the old houses are no longer in use. The report also estimates that the "3,057" houses produce 542,948 tons of poultry litter or 177 tons of litter per house. The Oklahoma Department of Agriculture calculates litter at about 125 tons per 40X400 house ( which is a standard size - some are larger, some are smaller.) If the numbers are re-calculated on the true number of active poultry houses - and the amount of litter generated - it's less than half the number the secretary of environment and the Oklahoma Attorney General is using to convince the public there is too much litter.Posted at 3/21/2007 10:43:00 AM |
The Ties That Bind
State Auditor & Inspector Jeff McMahan hypnotized at a Steve Phipps Christmas party. From The McCarville Report Online: Jeff McMahan's claims that he knows Steve Phipps only casually are wilting under scrutiny. Here are the public facts at this time: 1 - Phipps' son sang the jingle McMahan used in his 2002 campaign; 2 - McMahan was a guest of honor at a Phipps' Christmas party where he was hypnotized as part of the entertainment; 3 - Gene Stipe at one point described Phipps as McMahan's campaign manager; 4 - Phipps and Stipe were described as McMahan's "money machine" in the 2002 campaign; 5 - Phipps was an active fundraiser for McMahan in 2002 and, some claim, early in the 2006 campaign as well; 6 - Democratic consultant Pat Hall, McMahan's 2002 primary campaign operative, was listed as a paid consultant for Phipps' Rural Development Foundation according to the latest FBI affidavit filed in the Stipe-Phipps investigation. Read more...Posted at 3/19/2007 08:30:00 AM |
If You Lie With Dogs, You're Going to Get Fleas - The Democratic Gene Stipe Dilemma
From Bounded Rationality: It's not like the Republicans, at least on the national level, have clean hands on campaign fund shenanigans. But in Oklahoma, the Democrats have the corner on the notoriously corrupt market. Case in point: Gene Stipe. Apparently he likes to set up all his most powerful colleagues with illegal campaign contributions, in such a way that everyone can say they didn't know about the contributions. Pretty slick. The candidates can use the money during the campaign, and then just give it away to charity after the campaign. This is easy easy. Have the guy that's already in big trouble do all the dirty work. That way, the candidate can quickly distance themselves from the malfeasor. Somehow, if a candidate gives the illegal money to charity, and say they didn't know about the contributions, that absolves them of any responsibility. That's weak logic. Here is an opinion from the Techumseh Countywide News and Shawnee Sun Online News The Democrats who are getting dragged through at least a little mud as a result of the latest contribution talk are in order of descending rank: Gov. Brad Henry of Shawnee, U.S. Rep. Dan Boren who used to be from Seminole, Atty. Gen. Drew Edmondson of Muskogee and State Auditor and Inspector Jeff McMahan of Tecumseh. Three of the four, you may notice, are either hometown boys or the next thing to it. Read more...Posted at 3/19/2007 08:09:00 AM |Friday, March 16, 2007
Since our name is the Oklahoma Political News Service, we try to keep our focus on Oklahoma politics and her politicians. But since it's Friday and the day before St. Paddy's day, we decided to deviate from our norm a little and post a piece on national politics - specifically the Iraq war and the Democrats' continually changing timeline for withdrawal. When we say continually changing, we literally mean continually changing! Click here (click on screen to start video) to view Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Rep. David Obey trying to explain the timeline the Dems have devised for troop withdrawal. It seems they don't even know their own plan! Enjoy.Posted at 3/16/2007 08:53:00 AM |
Elk City News Publisher Donated $2,500 to AG Edmondson in '06
As we've been reporting these last few weeks, Drew Edmondson is quite popular with Oklahoma's major newspapers and televison media. So popular in fact, there's been scarce mention of the alleged abuses in his office as detailed by a very credible whistle blower who formerly worked for him. Our further investigation into the "poultrygate" scandal - and the mainstream media's shocking disregard to uncover the truth - has revealed that Edmondson is also popular with small town media as well. Larry R. Wade, publisher of the Elk City News, generously donated $2,500 to the attorney general's '06 re-election effort. As we've stated before, Mr. Wade - as do other members of the press - have every right to participate in our democracy through their financial contributions. But as providers of news to the people, they have a unique obligation to be viewed as impartial and balanced. Newspaper publishers and television executives contributing to any elected official's political campaigns, certainly raises all kinds of legitimate ethical questions. One would believe that Mr. Wade, who has a journalism degree from OU and has been a former President of the Oklahoma Press Association and Oklahoma Newspaper Foundation would understand our concerns. OKPNS will continue to investigate.Posted at 3/16/2007 08:14:00 AM |
Pope Receives Fine for Robocalls
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) A former state legislator who was accused of breaking a federal law on the use of pre-recorded telephone messages receives a 45-hundred dollar fine today. Tim Pope, who now heads the Oklahoma Republican Assembly, could've been fined as much as ten (m) million dollars if U-S District Judge Robin Cauthron had determined Pope was responsible for the 20-thousand illegal calls the state Attorney General's office said were made. According to court papers, about half the calls with a message attacking Oklahoma County Commissioner Jim Roth were answered, so state prosecutors sought a fine of 100 dollars per call. Pope and his attorney, Stephen Jones, countered, and the judge agreed that a smaller fine of 500 dollars per call was appropriate since only nine people complained to the attorney general's office about the January 2006 calls. Cauthron ruled in January that Pope violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act, which requires all pre-recorded telephone calls to include a name and call-back number for the person responsible for them. Jones says an appeal is planned.Thursday, March 15, 2007
Labels: Tim PopePosted at 3/16/2007 08:00:00 AM |
Ex-lawmaker At Site As Grand Jury Meets
By SUSAN HYLTON World Staff Writer MUSKOGEE -- Former state Rep. Mike Mass of Hartshorne was at the federal courthouse in Muskogee the same day a grand jury was in session Wednesday, but he said he was not there to testify. Mass, who is embroiled in an FBI investigation involving former longtime state Sen. Gene Stipe, visited the local office of the Oklahoma attorney general two days after he was subpoenaed to testify in a civil trial involving Stipe and Stipe's former business partner, Steve Phipps. The investigation concerns an alleged straw donor scheme in which people who contributed to several Democratic campaigns -- including that of U.S. Rep Dan Boren -- were reimbursed by companies controlled by Stipe and Phipps. Boren has claimed no knowledge of the scheme. Read more...Posted at 3/15/2007 02:40:00 PM |
Insurance Commissioner Kim Holland Says Christian Organization is an Insurance Company
TULSA, Okla. (AP) A Christian organization in which members pool their money to help pay medical bills says it isn't an insurance company. But state Insurance Commissioner Kim Holland says it will be treated like one and will have to prove it can cover claims that its members file. The organization is Medi-Share and is a ministry of the American Evangelical Association. Medi-Share President Robert Baldwin says the group has no money on reserve other than what members provide to help pay a medical bill. He says the group doesn't promise to pay or assume the risk of paying all health-care costs. But a recent court ruling found the company offers "contracts for insurance" and is subject to regulation. Baldwin says the group is likely to appeal the ruling.Wednesday, March 14, 2007
Labels: Kim HollandPosted at 3/15/2007 01:24:00 PM |
Jones Calls for Immediate Reforms in Auditor's Office
Gary Jones, CPA and two time opponent of State Auditor Jeff McMahan called on the legislature and the Governor to implement immediate reforms in the Oklahoma State Auditor's office Jones said these reforms are necessary to help prevent scandals like the current one involving straw donors and the funneling of state funds to Gene Stipe and his partner Steve Phipps. (1)Remove the abstract division from the authority of the state auditor's office. "The auditor should not be regulating they should be auditing," said Jones. "Since the law was changed giving the state auditor control over abstractors they have become the primary funding source for campaign contributions to their hand picked auditor candidate. This would also stop the practice of approving or disapproving abstract permits in exchange for campaign contributions." (2)Make state auditor employees merit employees Jones believes this would free them from pressure to contribute and campaign in order to keep their jobs. He also believes this would also allow employees of the office to assist in any investigations that might be forthcoming now or in the future. Jones said he proposed these changes during his campaign.Posted at 3/14/2007 04:40:00 PM |
OKPNS FLASHBACK: Jeff McMahan's "Other" Scandal
EXCLUSIVE: Tape Reveals Former A&I Employee Fired In Retaliation Taped Jeff McMahan accuses fired employee of supporting opponent in 2002 The Oklahoma Political News Service has obtained a recording between former A&I employee Dana Webb and State Auditor & Inspector Jeff McMahan. Webb was dismissed from her job as Tulsa manger of the A&I office soon after the 2002 election. McMahan is heard on this eight minute recording reassuring Webb that her work ethic was not in question for her dismissal. He goes on to tell Webb that he was "trashed in Tulsa" (the election result) and that he felt Webb had "supported Jones." McMahan also assured Webb, "We're going to find you a job". The McCarville Report Online is doing an excellent series on this allegation and another allegation swirling around State Auditor and Inspector Jeff McMahan. The allegation concerns top A&I employees who say they guaranteed a McMahan Campaign Loan in October 2002. "Two former top employees in the state auditor & inspector's office have told The McCarville Report Online they each signed $2,000 promissory notes [from] a Shawnee bank in October 2002 to secure a last-minute $20,000 campaign loan for Jeff McMahan, then locked in a close election battle with Republican Gary Jones." McMahan has repeatedly said that he does not compel his employees to contribute to his campaign or compel them to work for his campaign in their free time. OKPNS will continue to investigate.
Labels: Jeff McMahanPosted at 3/14/2007 04:00:00 PM |
Community Action Project Urges Long-Term Budget Forecast and Pause on Tax Cuts
In a press release today, Tulsa based Community Action Project proposed raising taxes in Oklahoma's slowing economy. Click here for the issue brief titled: “Cutting Deep: New Projections of Sluggish Revenue Growth Suggest that Tax Cut Impact May Be Felt More Deeply and Quickly than Anticipated” Full text of release: Tulsa, OK: New Oklahoma budget projections show that tax cuts enacted in recent years are having a more immediate and dramatic impact on the state’s fiscal outlook than initially expected, according to a budget brief released today by Community Action Project, a Tulsa-area anti-poverty agency. “We are now seeing that the tax cuts are running headlong into our ability to invest in the priorities needed to support Oklahoma families, businesses and communities,” said David Blatt, CAP’s Director of Public Policy and the brief’s author. “The trade-off for pushing ahead with further tax cuts may be felt directly by those who attend public schools and colleges, run a business that depends on a skilled workforce and functioning infrastructure, or need help with health care and social services.” The new budget projections, certified in February by the State Equalization Board, see general revenue collections growing by just 1.5% during the current fiscal year and by a paltry 1.0% next year. This is well below the 25-year average of 5.4% annual growth in general revenue, and would mark the first time revenues have grown by less than 2% in a non-recessionary year. “This study provides a wake-up call for what happens when the state slashes its tax base during an oil boom,” noted Alexander Holmes, OU Regents Professor of Economics and the former State Finance Director under Governor Henry Bellman. “We’ve been down this same road before, but it appears that we failed to learn the lesson that tax cuts in good times can have painful consequences in bad times”. The issue brief shows that sluggish revenue collections are a direct result of the tax cuts passed over the past three legislative sessions. Tax cuts are estimated to have a revenue impact of over $560 million for the upcoming budget year. The vast majority of the tax cuts affected state personal income tax collections, which are projected to decline by 9% between state fiscal year 2006 and 2008. These projected stagnant revenues come at a time when the state is already struggling to deal with billions of dollars in unfunded liabilities in the state teachers’ retirement system, as well as upholding commitments to raise teachers’ salaries, expand access to higher education, repair roads and bridges, and bolster the health care system. “If revenues come in as projected by the State Board of Equalization in February, the state will be extremely hard-pressed to meet its funding obligations, especially since additional rounds of tax cuts are currently scheduled to take effect over the next three years”, said Blatt. “Given what we are now learning about the bleak budget picture ahead, legislators should take the opportunity to consider calling a time out.” The brief also points to a serious flaw in the budget process itself, which fails to provide lawmakers with any long-term baseline budget forecast that could give them a framework for their decisions. Reforming the budget process to provide additional and more accurate forecasting could help lawmakers make more fiscally responsible and sustainable decisions. “This report is an excellent addition to a small but important set of recent analyses warning of future difficulties for state government finance in Oklahoma,” commented Dr. Larkin Warner, OSU Regents Professor Emeritus of Economics. “The Governor and the Legislature owe it to the state's citizens to prepare long term projections of state revenues and demands for state services.”Posted at 3/14/2007 09:39:00 AM |Tuesday, March 13, 2007
McMahan Fires Abstract Division Director
In a one-paragraph letter, McMahan informed Tim Arbaugh that as of 5 p.m., ``your services with the state auditor and inspector will no longer be required and your employment with this office will terminate. You will need to turn in keys immediately.''Posted at 3/13/2007 07:34:00 PM |
McMahan Doesn't Have Money To Refund
From TMRO: State Auditor & Inspector Jeff McMahan apparently couldn't refund almost $40,000 in questionable campaign contributions even if he wanted to, examination of his December 31st campaign finance report indicates. McMahan, under fire as part of a Federal Bureau of Investigation probe into the alleged illegal campaign donation scheme of former Senator Gene Stipe and his abstract company partner, Steve Phipps, received the sum from those identified as straw donors to other campaigns. The FBI alleges the illegal donations were orchestrated by Stipe and Phipps. Read more...Posted at 3/13/2007 03:36:00 PM |
From Frosty Troy's "Fridays with Frosty" commentary on KOSU-FM, April 21, 2006: (Audio) Ted Riley, KOSU: Frosty, the US Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals recently issued an opinion that could hurt two Oklahomans with some high name recognition. Frosty Troy: Absolutely. Now I know why Tom Daxon resigned as Finance Director of the Oklahoma House of Representatives a few days ago. It was at the same time that a three-judge panel of the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Daxon did, indeed, sexually harass an employee of the Corporation Commission when he was general administrator there. And, by the way, he fired her. And he lost that job too. The Circuit Court found that Daxon harassed Pamela D. Fye. When she complained to Corporation Commissioner chairman Denise Bode, Bode did not follow up on the case, according to the court ruling. The court also held that another employee, Karen DePue, was harassed by Daxon. The court opinion said DePue reported that Daxon said he was viewing pornography on his home computer, and it had aroused him, and he told her - he compared her to the women that he had viewed. That's a direct quotation from the opinion, by the way. Pamela Fye was fired by Daxon because she refused to go into "salacious" - and this is the court's word - "salacious detail" about a previous sexual harassment case involving a previous general administrator. Fye sued Daxon, Bode, and the Commission, and they lost in the District Court, and they appealed because they said they were immune from prosecution. By the way, the three panel judges from the Tenth Circuit said no, they're not. You know, ironically, Tom Daxon is now a candidate for chairman of the Oklahoma Republican Party, and Denise Bode is running at mid-term for the Republican nomination for Congress. Go figure. Posted at 3/13/2007 12:52:00 PM |
Grassroots Conference in Bricktown
The Oklahoma chapter of Americans for Prosperity is having a regional grassroots conference on March 17 in Bricktown. The group has been a voice in the wilderness calling for an "end to government earmarks, bringing transparency to government and ending taxpayer funded lobbying." This event will a great opportunity to network with other activists, plus be part of a state legislative panel with State Senator Brogden, Reps. Miller, Worthen, Reynolds, Morgan, and Terrill. John Fund, Editor of the Wall Street Journal and Sen. Tom Coburn will also be in attendance talking about taking back our government and the legacy we are leaving our children. Here are the critical details: Date: Saturday March 17 Time: 3PM to 6PM Where: Bricktown Sheraton (1 N. Broadway Ave, Oklahoma City, OK 73102) RSVP: email@example.com Organizers are asking that you please let them know by Wed. March 15 at 5PM if you plan on attending.
Labels: Grassroots ActivistsPosted at 3/13/2007 12:27:00 PM |
Republican Polling Firm Irks GOP Reps. Cole, LaTourette
By Jonathan Kaplan A prominent Republican polling firm has irked Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), the House’s top GOP election strategist, by conducting a poll to persuade a Republican lawmaker to oppose a Democratic measure that would make it easier for labor unions to organize. Public Opinion Strategies (POS), the polling firm, conducted the survey for an anonymous Republican donor in the district of Rep. Steven LaTourette (R-Ohio) to show the congressman that the so-called “Card Check” bill is unpopular with GOP voters. LaTourette and 12 other GOP members from the Northeast and upper Midwest, as well as Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), voted for the bill. The House passed the Employee Free Choice Act on March 1 by a vote of 241 to 185. Cole heads the National Republican Campaign Committee (NRCC), which happens to be a client of POS. He and LaTourette were upset that POS would conduct a poll that could create the perception that it is undermining a popular GOP incumbent. In addition to questions about the “Card Check” bill, the poll also included data about LaTourette’s favorable and unfavorable ratings. LaTourette remains popular in the district, according to a GOP source who saw the poll. Read more... Posted at 3/13/2007 12:15:00 PM |Monday, March 12, 2007
"Sleepy" Daxon Calls for McMahan's Resignation
We guess now is better than never for Chairman Daxon to call for State Auditor and Inspector Jeff McMahan's resignation. It's not like these allegations and the "proof" hasn't been floating around for awhile. Sources close to Chairman Daxon tell OKPNS that Daxon advised Jones last fall to wait bringing the story out because it would be so damaging that the Democrats would ask McMahan to withdraw from the ballot and substitute another candidate. For the record, Oklahoma law would not have allowed Democrats to substitute another candidate. Our sources also told us that Daxon recommended to Jones that he should direct his focus on McMahan no longer having a certificate of compliance for his audit reports. Mike McCarville did an exhaustive examination of the shenanigans before the election. Oh we forgot, Chairman Daxon was too busy coming up with the brilliant plan to use door hangers during last fall's campaign. Chairman Daxon, here's a way to redeem yourself. How about calling for an independent investigation into the attorney general's Poultrygate scandal? From the McCarville Report Online: Republican Party Chairman Tom Daxon called today for the resignation of Auditor & Inspector Jeff McMahan after a federal investigation alleged he received illegal campaign donations. Appearing on Oklahoma City radio station KTOK's "First News With Reid Mullins" this morning, Daxon said there is the "appearance...and fact" that wrong-doing occurred in the financing of McMahan's 2002 and 2006 campaigns. He said that confidence in the auditor and inspector's office is at stake and McMahan should resign. For KTOK's continuing coverage, tune to AM-1000. Read more...Posted at 3/12/2007 12:25:00 PM |
Criminal Continues Political Corruption
From Tulsa Today: (excerpt) Gary Jones, a Republican who narrowly lost two elections to Democrat State Auditor Jeff McMahan in 2002 and 2006, told Tulsa Today that it was the trail of campaign contributions from Gene Stipe, Steve Phipps and their employees to McMahan’s 2002 campaign that led to the discovery of the scheme to funnel millions in tax dollars to Stipe, Phipps, and former Democrat State Reps. Mass, Erwin and Hefner. State Auditor & Inspector Jeff McMahanAfter losing the 2002 election, Jones said he had suspected a Stipe-McMahan connection since 2003, after reading the list of straw donors to Walt Robert’s 1998 campaign. “What really threw up a red flag was the article in the Oklahoman in 2004 about the now-famous National Pet Products, the dog food factory in McAlester. The article listed Gene Stipe, Stipe’s brother Francis, his partner Steve Phipps, along with Karen Carper and Roy Hattridge. What else did these people have in common? They were all major contributors to Jeff McMahan’s campaign,” Jones told Tulsa Today. While Jones was serving as Chairman of the Oklahoma Republican Party, he said people sent him information claiming meetings were being held in the State Auditor’s basement conference room involving Reps. Mike Mass and Randall Erwin, and Stipe’s partner, Steve Phipps. “Supposedly, the topic of discussion was how they could all benefit from the expanded gambling laws, and one person told me that Mass was heard bragging that if they got this through, they would never have to work another day in their lives,” Jones said. “The Internet is an amazing tool,” Jones said. “It allows you to do research and find things in minutes that might take years to do manually – or go undiscovered otherwise. I did a Google search of Steve Phipps, and the first thing that popped up was a press release from the Oklahoma House of Representatives about a newly formed organization called the Rural Development Foundation being awarded a water permit for 25 billion gallons of water from Lake Eufaula – and Steve Phipps was listed as their consultant. Searching further on the Oklahoma Secretary of State’s Web site for Rural Development, it revealed that RDF office was located in Antler’s – at the same address as an abstract company owned by Gene Stipe and Steve Phipps.” Jones shared that information with an Oklahoma state representative, whose further research found that RDF had received a $350,000 line item appropriation in the Department of Commerce’s funding bill. He called back later to say that they received another $350,000 as a line item in the appropriation bill for the Department of Agriculture. Jones said his continued Internet searches led him to a Web site called http://www.followthemoney.org/, where he discovered that the board members of RDF had also contributed to McMahan’s campaign. When Jones entered their names into a Google search, it brought up the Oklahoma State auditor’s Web site and listing employees of all the abstract companies in Oklahoma by county. McMahan’s office regulates all Oklahoma abstract companies. Stipe and Phipps’s biggest venture together are numerous jointly owned abstract companies. This latest search by Tulsa Today shows that several board members of RDF were also employees of abstract companies owned by Stipe and Phipps, and that dozen of other Stipe and Phipps employees were also McMahan contributors. Read more... Click here to view contributions to McMahan from Stipe, Phipps, and employees.Posted at 3/12/2007 10:15:00 AM |
More Shameless Democratic Pandering
The Democratic Party "diversity" dog and pony show - with its agenda of making us all hyphenated Americans - will be on full display tomorrow at a reception in Oklahoma City. This event is so hysterically politically correct, they won't even call the people they're honoring Iranians; they're calling them Persians instead. The name Persia hasn't been on a world map since 1935 when the Shah changed the country's name to Iran. What are the Democrats afraid of? Do they believe good Democrats won't attend the event if its called an Iranian-American meet and greet? Pathetic! Below is the invitation:
Get to know your Persian-American neighbors and their culture while enjoying some middle eastern delicacy including Baklava.
Lisa Pryor, Oklahoma Democratic Party Chairman along with the Oklahoma Democratic Party Affirmative Action Committee, the Oklahoma Democratic Party Veterans Committee and the Oklahoma Democratic Party Faith Outreach Committee Cordially invite you to a “Neighbor to Neighbor” Meet and Greet with our local Persian-American community. Come hear about the social, cultural, political and economic development contributions of this local community and learn about their faith and heritage.
Labels: ODPPosted at 3/12/2007 09:58:00 AM |
Group Expresses Outrage Over Court's Decision
SALLISAW, Okla. (AP) About 100 people angered over a court's decision to overturn Daniel Hawke Fears' murder convictions gathered to express outrage over the killer's release from prison. The United Victims Rally yesterday at the Sequoyah County Fairgrounds in Sallisaw included many who were directly affected by Fears' October 2002 shooting rampage that left two people dead and eight others wounded. Eight months ago, the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals unanimously reversed Fears' two convictions on first-degree murder and multiple shooting with intent to kill, and his life-without-parole sentences. Fears reportedly admitted the shootings to authorities, but defense testimony focused on his mental illness. The appellate judges also voted 3-to-2 to impose their own verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity and avoid a retrial altogether.Posted at 3/12/2007 09:45:00 AM |Sunday, March 11, 2007
UPDATE: Mike Mass Found!
By Doug Russell News Editor McAlester News Capital Did he or didn’t he? The Federal Bureau of Investigation alleges he did, but he can’t be reached to say one way or another. Or even to decline comment. The locally listed number for District 17 state Rep. Mike Mass is no longer in service and he can’t be reached at the state Capitol either. In fact, a Capitol staff member said Monday, “We only hear from him when he calls us. The numbers I have for him don’t work anymore.” No reply was received to an e-mail sent to Mass’ Capitol address, which representatives can access from anywhere there is e-mail capability. Calls to other numbers, for people listed in state documents as treasurers for two of Mass’ campaigns, were also unproductive. Mass and two other state lawmakers, former state Reps. Randall Erwin and Jerry Hefner, are accused of profiting from companies that received special project money from the state; money the lawmakers themselves had funneled to the companies. Read more...Saturday, March 10, 2007
Labels: Mike MassPosted at 3/11/2007 10:59:00 AM |
Lance Corporal Geoffrey Fisher (RIP)
Pictures courtesy of okdemocrat.com "Protecting the Families of America's Heroes"Posted at 3/10/2007 06:09:00 PM |
Henry Ranked As One of the "Least Powerful Governors"
A new study ranks the power of all 50 governors, looking at "tenure, budget authority, appointment and veto powers and whether the governor’s party controls the legislature in figuring out which governors have the most clout." Most powerful: Massachusetts Alaska Maryland New York West Virginia Least powerful: Alabama Oklahoma Rhode Island VermontFriday, March 09, 2007
Labels: Brad HenryPosted at 3/10/2007 03:31:00 PM |
FBI Says Stipe Illegally Funded Congressman Boren's 2004 Campaign
We admit we're not big fans of today's reality shows. To us, they poignantly illustrate the void of creativity currently in the entertainment industry. But there is one show that has our attention every week. That show is the NBC Dateline series "To Catch a Predator". It has our interest, not because of the luridness of grown men having sexually charged online chats with underage girls and sometime underage boys. Or the sick perverts often driving several hours and hundreds of miles to the teenage decoy's home to engage in their disgusting fantasies. No. It is the fascination that with all the publicity the show has garnered over the months, there are still people who will risk everything; reputation, marriages, careers, and freedom to still attempt to break the law. There once was an episode of a pervert being busted twice in the same show! Our fascination is similar to the almost magnetic attraction human beings have with watching fist fights or traffic accidents. This brings us to former state Senator Gene Stipe The FBI says Stipe continued to illegally fund political campaigns EVEN AFTER HE WAS CONVICTED OF DOING THE SAME THING! The Oklahoman reports today that an unsealed affidavit says Stipe gave over $34,000 dollars to Congressman Dan Boren's 2004 primary campaign by reimbursing friends and associates for their contributions. Boren says he wasn't aware of the scheme. The March 2004 contributions were made two months after Stipe was sentenced to house arrest and fined more than $735,000 dollars for a similar scheme in a 1998 congressional campaign.Posted at 3/09/2007 01:00:00 PM |
Rural Oklahoma to be topic of McAlester IdeaRaiser
Rural Oklahoma will be the focus of an IdeaRaiser in Southeastern Oklahoma next week. The event, slated to be held at the Eastern Oklahoma State College campus in McAlester will focus on issues facing rural Oklahoma and what ideas to improve those areas.
“We are excited to welcome Speaker Cargill and the 100 Ideas initiative,”said Steve Smith, Dean of the McAlester campus. “We hope to have students, educators, small business owners and other interested citizens come and share their ideas to help chart the course of rural Oklahoma’s future.”Pittsburg County legislators, Senator Richard Lerblance, and Representatives Terry Harrison and Brian Renegar have been invited to participate. RSVPs for the IdeaRaisers can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 1-888-465-2007. Organizers encourage those interested in attending to RSVP.Posted at 3/09/2007 12:28:00 PM |
Coalition Backs 2007 Forever Land Trust Act
House Bill 2108 part of House GOP "Healthy Families" agenda Oklahoma could soon see more high-quality recreational areas, greenways and parks for the public under a measure supported by a coalition of conservation and health advocacy groups. House Bill 2108, passed by the House Natural Resources Committee Monday, is a key item in the House Republican leadership’s Healthy Families legislative platform.
Posted at 3/09/2007 12:03:00 PM |
“Improving our quality of life and protecting natural resources in Oklahoma must be a part of our efforts to boost the state’s economy. Not only will increased outdoor recreational areas encourage healthier families that are more active, but we’ll also foster stronger communities with this measure,” said Speaker Lance Cargill (R-Harrah). “We need to do more to make Oklahoma a livable and attractive location so that we can recruit new businesses. We’ve made progress to improve Oklahoma’s quality of life over the past several years, but we can do more. My hope is that this measure will spur more permanent green space, parks and recreational areas across the state.”(Audio) The measure has widespread support among conservation, health advocacy, and agricultural organizations – including The Nature Conservancy, the American Heart Association, the Oklahoma Farmers Union, the Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts, the Wildlife Federation, The Sierra Club and the Poultry Federation.
“This is a win-win for Oklahomans, by encouraging conservation and providing more locations for outdoor physical activity. We’ll see a healthier environment and healthier citizens as a result,” said Michael Fuhr, state director of The Nature Conservancy.