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Friday, February 29, 2008 

Sen. Gumm: Parents Rally for "Nick's Law"

From the OK Legislator's Blog:
On Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2008, Senator Jay Paul Gumm, D-Durant, conducted a State Capitol news conference on "Nick's Law." The proposal would mandate that health insurance cover early diagnosis and treatment of autism. This package is coverage of the news conference aired that day on the Oklahoma News Report - the only statewide news broadcast.
video

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Posted at 2/29/2008 05:26:00 PM |
 

New Pound Seizure Legislation Defeated

According to the Journal Record, OK HB 2550, which would have required animal shelters to donate euthenized animals to animal brokers, in addition to research institutions which they are already required to do, was defeated in committee this week.

Phil Richardson (R-Minco), who authored the legislation, said it was needed because,

Animal rights groups have been putting pressure on animal shelters not to release the bodies of euthanized animals. They have chosen to make a political issue of it, and caused animal shelters not to release these animals for educational uses. Richardson told members of the House Public Health Committee. I’ve been contacted by the president of the American Association of Veterinary Anatomists, from North Carolina, and this has become a real issue with obtaining animal specimens for veterinary colleges. I’ve spoken with the dean of the OSU veterinary school. This is a problem that we have, and it’s increasingly becoming more of a problem.

Animal rights groups are concerned that by creating more of a market for the dead animals, unscrupulous dealers might resort to having animals euthenized more quickly or stealing pets.

The Oklahoman quotes Cynthia Armstrong, Oklahoma state director for the Humane Society:

The public needs to trust that their animal shelter's primary mission is the humane disposition of the animals in their care...The Humane Society has no objection to animal shelters voluntarily giving dead animals to a veterinary school, for example, "as long as no money changes hands.

The Oklahoma Insider reports others were concerned about Oklahoma's reputation, and quotes veterinarian Brian Gordon:

I think it opens the door to Class B dealers...I've dealt with these dealers for 20 years. I've found that they are often liars and are disreputable individuals.

This bill will become national news. When this happens, the public trust...will be damaged, and the research effort in this state will be harmed. We will become known as the supplier of dead dogs throughout the United States.

Randy Terril, according to the Journal Record, pointed out the irony over this concern vs. the concern, or lack thereof for the same type of proctions for human beings:

State Rep. Randy Terrill, R-Moore, remarked on the level of phone calls he has received in opposition to HB 2550, adding that no one has opposed the use of human cadavers in a display currently at Science Museum Oklahoma.

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Posted at 2/29/2008 09:03:00 AM |
 

Coburn: U.S. Indian Healthcare Bill "Morally Bankrupt"

The Albuquerque Journal is reporting that a bill designed to "boost programs at the federally funded Indian Health Service, prompt new construction and modernization of health clinics on reservations, and attempt to recruit more Indians into health professions...increase tribal access to Medicare and Medicaid....[and] authorize spending about $35 billion for Indian health care programs over the next 10 years" passed the Senate Tuesday, 83-10.

PhotobucketIt also, according to the Journal, "Contains a resolution sponsored by Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) that would formally apologize to American Indians for centuries of government mistreatment. The resolution acknowledges a long history of government misconduct against Indians, including forced relocation from tribal lands, theft of tribal assets and the breaking of treaties and covenants."

Indian Country writes:

The bill, at least eight years in the making and often a subject of exceptional controversy over issues that ranged from the narrowly medical and technical field to broad constitutional questions, provides up to $16 billion for Indian health care through the next five fiscal years. Just as importantly to its backers among tribes, the bill updates the responsiveness of tribes and the IHS in numerous priority areas, including cancer screening, diabetes treatment, disease prevention, youth suicide and mental health intervention, traditional approaches to healing and in-home health care, recruitment to the health profession as practiced in Indian country, and Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement.

Pro-Life Groups are celebrating the amendment to the bill which will prevent tribal women from receiving abortions at taxpayer expense. CitizenLink quotes Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council:

I applaud the Senate for voting to prevent Indian Health Service funds from being used to pay for abortions. The majority of the Senate has now shown they agree with most Americans that government funding of abortion is morally wrong.

Nonetheless, Tom Coburn (R-OK) argued that the legislation does not address any real issues, and that the money may not even be there to pay for benefits promised. He called the legislation "morally bankrupt" and added it was like:

...Taking out a new loan on a car when you can't afford food for your family...Why are we putting off fixing the system? So we could tell everyone that we did something when in fact we did nothing.

To become law, Jerry Reynolds reports,

The bill, S. 1200 in the Senate, awaits action in the House of Representatives. An identical version of it has passed the House Resources Committee and is now before the Energy and Commerce Committee.

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Posted at 2/29/2008 08:13:00 AM |
 

Oklahoma Poultry Litter Lawsuit Threatens National Manure Transfer Industry

We reported earlier this week that Rick Stubblefield, Adair County representative of the Oklahoma Scenic Rivers Commission (OSRC) wrote a letter to the Tahlequah Daily Press, in which he explains that existing manure transfer programs are actually creating a shortage of fertilizer in the Oklahoma watershed area, rather than too much.

The Muskogee Phoenix is reporting today that Stubblefield, along with Steven Randall, also of the OSRC, also filed that information in a brief in federal court in support of the poultry industry.

The OSRC is denouncing this action, according to the report:

Oklahoma Scenic Rivers commissioners Gerald Hilsher and Ed Brocksmith said the motion, brief and supporting documents filed by Stubblefield and Randall are not supported by the Oklahoma Scenic Rivers Commission.

[...]

Brocksmith said there has been no vote by the Oklahoma Scenic Rivers Commission nor any discussion that would lend any official support or credence to Stubblefield and Randall’s request or assertions.

This discussion about the potential effect on manure transfer programs, however is happening on a national level. Rod Smith of Feedstuffs reports that a number of amicus curiae reports are being filed, and that,

Even cattle producers are lining up to defend the chicken and turkey producers in the action...Sen. Mark Pryor (D., Ark.) said the case has implications well beyond the watershed, Arkansas and Oklahoma and the poultry industry. He explained that an outcome supporting Edmondson would set a precedent that would establish litter and manure from livestock and poultry as hazardous waste and would expose livestock and poultry producers to significant cleanup costs and other penalties.

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Posted at 2/29/2008 07:43:00 AM |
 

V. Burns Hargis: "The purpose of the law is so that boards don't hire themselves."

V. Burns Hargis and his supporters have been successful in changing Oklahoma law to facilitate expediency at Oklahoma State University. V. Burns Hargis was officially hired as the new president of OSU in December, but because he'd served as a regent at the school until he resigned to run for the office of president of the school, he had to wait a year from his board resignation date to begin serving as president.

New Oklahoma requirements, signed into law yesterday by Brad Henry shorten the wait time to six months, allowing Burns Hargis to start immediately, rather than waiting until July. Regarding the change in the law, Burns Hargis told the Oklahoman he thought the spirit of the law has been preserved:

...but I think it's been made more practical. The purpose of the law is so that boards don't hire themselves.

KTEN.com reports that one of Burns Hargis' "first priorities will be increasing private investment in the school in Stillwater."

The Oklahoman also reports that one of Hargis' "first duties will be spending time at the state Capitol talking with legislators,

'...Because the majority of the money that OSU has to operate on, as well as any other higher institution, is state money. Obviously what happens here at the Capitol the next three months or so is critical to next year's budget.'

"He also wants to beef up private donations, he said, as the state's share of the university's budget has decreased in recent years."

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Posted at 2/29/2008 07:11:00 AM |
Thursday, February 28, 2008 

HB 1804 - Where's the "Shock and Awe?"

Laws in Arizona and Oklahoma cracking down on employers who hire illegal immigrants are getting mixed reviews regarding their effectiveness. Since illegal immigrants are not registered anywhere as such, it is impossible to get accurate numbers, so estimates are done largely based on opinion.

Earlier this year, Sonora, Mexico and the Houston, TX area began appealing for relief, claiming that the influx of those fleeing legislation in both states was creating hardships for their welfare systems. The complaints from Mexico came only about two weeks after the Arizona legislation became effective, and Houston was complaining within less than three months.

The question here, is whether the hardships endured by the welfare agencies were reactive or proactive - were they an actual result of sudden mass migration out of Arizona and Mexico? Or were they simply anticipating what New Jersey Rev. Miguel Rivera, a latino-rights activists refers to as "ethnic cleansing"?

The Northwest Arkansas Democrat and Gazette interviewed folks on both sides of the Oklahoma-Arkansas border, and reports that there may not quite be the "shock and awe" anticipated with OK HB 1804's immigration reform becoming effective:

Along Arkansas’ western border, school districts report no influx of Hispanic students. In eastern Oklahoma, landlords, school administrators and builders said they see few, if any, signs of a large-scale migration.

“I was expecting a doomsday scenario,” said Paul Kane, chief executive of the Home Builders Association of Greater Tulsa. But the Nov. 1 effective date came and went with no contractors calling in to report a shortage of framers or roofers, he said.

“A lot of the hysteria was just that,” Kane concluded. “It was hysteria.” Rivaled only by Arizona for putting up a hard front against illegal immigration, Oklahoma has made it a felony to drive an illegal alien to work or to rent an apartment to an illegal alien....(more)

So, why hasn't there been the anticipated change? What about the tens of thousands of illegal immigrants that were predicted to flee to surrounding states and Mexico in search of jobs and government aid?

Part of the problem may be that Oklahoma business owners have been intimidated by the threat of being sued at the Federal level for discrimination if they try to obey the law at the local level.

The Tulsa World reported on Monday:

Oklahoma's immigration law was one of the first passed by a state and is viewed by some as the most stringent.

It already has drawn a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and local chambers in Tulsa and Oklahoma City, which are asking the court to bar the state from implementing provisions on verifying eligibility for workers and authorization status of independent contractors.

Those provisions, the lawsuit claims, place an unreasonable and unfair burden on Oklahoma businesses.

As the Democrat and Gazette concluded:

Observers say immigrants are staying because they realize that the get-tough law is only as tough as its enforcement...Police statewide have not adopted a proactive enforcement posture that includes making workplace raids. “Once they realized Oklahoma had not turned into a Gestapo state, they thought they would come on home,” [Paul Kane] said.

For his part, [Lonnie Vaughan of the anti-1804 group United Front Task Force] still is shuttling immigrants without driver’s licenses to the church where he is associate pastor. “Every time I get in the van, I’m committing a felony,” he said, convinced that some of the flock are in the country illegally. But he said he doesn’t believe, even in the state with America’s toughest immigration law, Oklahoma would bring a felony charge against a citizen for driving someone to church.

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Posted at 2/28/2008 07:58:00 AM |
 

Merit Pay Bill for Teachers Advances

OK HB 3390 moves to the full house after being approved by the Education Committe yesterday. This bill, authorized by former Speaker Cargill, who is critized the current pay-scale, which is based on years of service:

That’s a 19th-century industrial model of compensation. Pay raises should be targeted to teachers who go the extra mile, work hard.

Thad Jones, co-author of the bill and chair of the Education committe explained,

There are no mandates in this legislation – school districts can decide if they want to participate and if they do, they are able to craft a plan around their local needs.

Each plan must include the following components:

  • Growth in student achievement based on a nationally recognized test, student attendance goals and improvement or gains in graduation rates (this component will make up a majority of the basis for the award/bonus)
  • Professional development
  • Collaboration and/or mentoring
  • Principal and peer review by trained evaluation teams

Democrats and the Oklahoma Education association are critical of the bill, which they say does not adequately address the fact that Oklahoma teacher salaries are currently below the regional average.

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Posted at 2/28/2008 07:27:00 AM |
Wednesday, February 27, 2008 

Political Group Takes Aim at Term Limits

An organization formed in 2006 to oppose the so called "Taxpayers Bill of Rights" (Tabor) will focus this election cycle on a slate of issues dealing with fiscal responsibility, accountability and transparency in state government. Oklahomans for Responsible Government (OFRG) is setting its sights this election cycle on term limits for statewide office holders. The group is working to seek passage of measures allowing Oklahomans to vote on the issue.

Sources tell the Oklahoma Political News Service that OFRG has significant resources to mount a strong campaign for its legislative agenda. The group says it will "be active at the Capitol and the grassroots level" across the state as it works to develop support for its agenda.

OKPNS will continue to investigate.

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Posted at 2/27/2008 07:15:00 PM |
 

Seattle Times: "Carpet Bagger Mick Cornett"

From the Seattle Times "Talk About It" Blog:
"This guy's a gem. This seems to be a commercial with OKC Mayor Mick Cornett stating why and how OKC will become a "Big League City". Must be nice being able to introduce a bill that will pay for $100 million in Ford Center upgrades without raising taxes. Wait, isn't that why they are even voting in the first place, lol."
Related:
Letter to the NBA board of Governors from Save our Sonics...

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Posted at 2/27/2008 06:43:00 PM |
 

Poultry Litter...Shortage?!...in the Illinois Watershed

Rick Stubblefield, Adair County representative of the Oklahoma Scenic Rivers Commission wrote a letter to the Tahlequah Daily Press, in which he explains that the claims made by the private attorney's Oklahoma Drew Edmondson has hired to represent Oklahoma against the Poultry industry, are "a joke," to the farmers in the Illinois Watershed area:

...[T}here is just not enough poultry litter being produced to satisfy demand. Despite the exaggerated claims of Drew Edmondson, a chicken house only produces about 120 tons of poultry litter a year – and state agency records and assessor records show there are about 1,650 poultry houses in the Illinois River watershed. That gives the farming community about 200,000 total tons of poultry litter to use every year. Farmers outside the watershed use manure transfer program tax breaks to pay more than farmers in the watershed can afford to pay. The end result? There is not much left to use as fertilizer on fields in the Illinois River watershed.

He credits the Oklahoma Poultry Litter Transfer Program, for the shortage in the watershed area, explaining:

Farmers outside the watershed use manure transfer program tax breaks to pay more than farmers in the watershed can afford to pay. The end result? There is not much left to use as fertilizer on fields in the Illinois River watershed.... (more)

To learn more about Oklahoma's Poultry Litter Transfer Program, see:

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Posted at 2/27/2008 10:13:00 AM |
 

OKPNS Salutes Oklahoma's Entrepeneurs!

The Consortium for Entrepeneurship Education is celebrating it's second National Entrepeneurship Week this week, February 23 - March 1. To honor the event, Oklahoma's capitol celebrated it's first Entrepreneurship Day, where it was noted that Oklahoma's entrepeneurs have been honored by the Kauffman Foundation and by Entrepeneur Magazine.

According to a press release on the Oklahoma Department of Commerce, website, Oklahoma's Advantage, Lieutenant Governor Jari Askins and Oklahoma’s Secretary of Commerce and Tourism Natalie Shirley were on hand for festivities.

Lt. Governor Jari Askins said:

The state recognizes the sense of urgency and importance in creating a culture of entrepreneurship in Oklahoma. Oklahoma's entrepreneurs will provide the innovation, creativity, and leadership needed to take us successfully into our next 100 years.

And Natalie Shirley added:

Entrepreneurs are the future of Oklahoma’s economy. In order to grow Oklahoma’s economy and compete in the global marketplace, we must support the development of entrepreneurs in Oklahoma.

PhotobucketThe 2nd Century Entrepreneurship Center located within Oklahoma Commerce, provides an opportunity to improve and increase Oklahoma’s efforts of supporting entrepreneurs. For more information about the 2nd Century Entrepreneurship Center, visit http://www.okcommerce.gov/smallbiz.

Shelli Todd was recently named Director of the 2nd Century Entrepreneurship Center. Todd’s responsibilities will include working with the statewide network of entrepreneurship programs and services, helping build capacity for technology-based entrepreneurs, and advocating for entrepreneurship education.

Oklahoma Commerce has a strong history of supporting entrepreneurs. There are extensive resources at http://www.okcommerce.gov/, including the business licensing database and Capital Review, a resource on financing for small businesses. The Website also provides business planning resources and frequently asked questions regarding starting a business. Commerce is also responsible for the certification of business incubators and has an extensive network of statewide partners that serve entrepreneurs.

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Posted at 2/27/2008 07:27:00 AM |
Tuesday, February 26, 2008 

Online Porn for Teens - Courtesy of Planned Parenthood

From Tony Perkins, of the Family Research Council:

As if parents did not have enough to contend with in protecting their children from the evils for pornography, they now have to face government-funded projects. Unfortunately, that's the "net" effect of Planned Parenthood's online venture, teenwire.com. The site, which is so offensive that FRC's Internet filter blocked it, was supposedly created as a resource for kids seeking "medically accurate" information. According to the nation's biggest abortion merchant, that information now includes normalizing pornography. Although Planned Parenthood is careful to state that it's illegal to ply children under 18 with sexually explicit images, that doesn't stop its "advice columnists" from telling kids that "many people use pornography as part of sex play."

On the "Ask the Experts" page, one young visitor says, "I look at porno sites... but people say looking at those sites affects your school work... Should I stop it? If I should, how?"

An "expert" responds, "There is no correlation between using pornography and getting bad grades in school."

Among other things, kids are encouraged to play games about issues from bisexuality to birth control. Another page gives teens the lowdown on having an abortion without their parents' consent. To teens struggling with homosexuality, Planned Parenthood says, "Having sex with girls and boys is normal and healthy." With over $300 million in taxpayer funds, the organization has the U.S. government to thank for helping to promote these messages. Contact your leaders and urge them to support Rep. Mike Pence and Sen. David Vitter's bills to zero out funding for groups like Planned Parenthood--else Title X programs may soon mean triple X!

Perkins isn't exaggerating. The pictures on the site are all drawings and graphics - not photographs, but some are very explicit, and, in my opinion, the material is not appropriate for unsupervised young teens. Much of the information provided is quite objectionable, like that warning about the "dangers" to homosexual and transgender students which are supposedly promoted by "abstinence only" programs, the "dangers" to students of parental notification laws in some states, requiring parents of young girls to be notified prior to their daughter getting an abortion.

Masturbation is encouraged, and tips are given for arousal. An enormous amount of information is provided for exploring whether or not a student is homosexual...students are told that if they're thinking about it, they might be "questioning," as opposed to being lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer.

All of this "information" and more is easily surfable to anyone who can locate the site - regardless of age. According to their "Terms of Use" page, users "registering as a member of teenwire.com to use certain features like Talk Back and Ask the Experts, sending an e-mail question, joining an e-mail mailing list, or submitting an article or a story" may be asked for information including "your sex, your age, and your city/state or part of the world you are from."

Cybercast News Service quotes Cris Clapp, congressional liaison for Enough is Enough, a nonprofit group that works to protect children and families from online pornography:

Although teenwire.com does make the point that pornography is illegal in the United States for people under 18, and although the editors mention that some may struggle with compulsive access to this content, overall teenwire.com has painted a picture that pornography is harmless fun...Unfortunately, parents are outsourcing their responsibility to talk to their kids about healthy sexuality to teachers, the culture and sites like teenwire.com, without any understanding about the sort of misguided messages that our children are hearing.

Also on Ft. Hard Knox

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Posted at 2/26/2008 07:06:00 PM |
 

'Teach for America' may be Coming to Oklahoma

Teach for America (TFA) is an organization which, according to its website, seeks to rectify, "Our nation's greatest injustice." What is that injustice?
In America today, educational inequity persists along socioeconomic and racial lines...These disparities severely limit the life prospects of the 13 million children growing up in poverty today. And, because African-American and Latino/Hispanic children are three times as likely to grow up in a low-income area...
In a section of the website entitled, "Why we prioritize the recruitment and development of African-Americans and Latino/Hispanics and people of low-income family backgrounds," TFA explains:
At the same time that we value each individual who commits to our cause, we also place a particular focus on attracting and fostering the leadership of individuals who share the racial and/or socioeconomic backgrounds of the students underserved by public schools, many of whom are African-American and Latino/Hispanic children living in low-income communities. We emphasize racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic diversity to enhance our impact...
According to a press release from the OK House of Representatives yesterday, House Bill 3124, authored by House Education Committee Chairman Rep. Tad Jones, allows for the Teach for America Program to come to Oklahoma. The bill will get talented teachers into our most needy classrooms, said Jones (R-Claremore):
Right now, this successful program cannot expand to Oklahoma because of barriers in our laws. Teach for America has proven results in low-income, underperforming schools where we need talented teachers the most. Even with approval of this bill, each district would be able to choose to participate or not. This is a chance to get some of the best, brightest and most ambitious teachers in the country here in Oklahoma.
Rep. Earl Sears (R-Bartlesville), a former teacher and principal, praised the Teach for America program as one of the best in the country for training teachers:
There is no question this state does a great job training our teachers, and no one is trying to take anything away from the procedure we have here in the state for our teachers, but as a principal, I would not have any hesitation in hiring a teacher from this program.
The bill passed the House with a vote of 91-10 and will now go to the Senate

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Posted at 2/26/2008 08:12:00 AM |
 

Gov. Henry Wants to Switch to Switchgrass

KOCO5 in Oklahoma City is reporting:

Gov. Brad Henry is telling a national audience that Oklahoma's future is in biofuels...the grass takes less work to grow than corn does. Corn has to be farmed every year.

Another benefit of swithgrass over corn is that it is not consumed by humans, and may not have a similar detrimental impact on third-world nations. Former U.S. Representative (R-OK) Ernest Istook wrote in WorldNetDaily this weekend:

Drought. War. Poverty.

These are leading causes of hunger, according to the United Nations. Soon we may add another.

Ethanol.

Across the globe, people are discovering it’s a new contributor to world hunger. Led by the United States, governments are paying companies billions to make ethanol from corn and other crops. The result: these crops are diverted from the food supply, creating artificial shortages and higher prices.

Even record harvests haven’t suppressed food prices. Instead, prices are soaring to all-time highs...(more)

Not all scientists are convinced that the use of biofuels is good for the environment. In Minneapolis, the StarTribune is reporting:

A pair of agriculture groups has temporarily suspended about $1.5 million in grants to the University of Minnesota to protest a controversial study by U scientists earlier this month about biofuels and global warming.

[...]

The study, by University of Minnesota ecologist David Tilman and others, said that dedicating huge amounts of land to grow corn, soybeans, sugarcane and other food crops for fuel could drastically change the landscape and worsen global warming. Farmers in the U.S., Brazil, Indonesia and other countries will need to clear forests, grasslands and peat lands on a massive scale to grow more of those crops, according to the research, unleashing far more carbon dioxide from natural vegetation than is saved by the lower emissions of the biofuels.

Ethanol industry officials criticized the study as a simplistic analysis that doesn't include the economic benefits for those who grow biofuel crops or the environmental cost of continuing to rely on petroleum.

A couple of years ago, scientists at the University of Berekely also were reported by Science Daily to have found that in terms of energy output compared with energy input for ethanol production:

  • corn requires 29 percent more fossil energy than the fuel produced;
  • switch grass requires 45 percent more fossil energy than the fuel produced; and
  • wood biomass requires 57 percent more fossil energy than the fuel produced...(more)

But Governor Henry points out that switchgrass is native to Oklahoma, and:

Congress is considering a bill that would provide incentives for growing switchgrass.

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Posted at 2/26/2008 07:41:00 AM |
 

Police Standoff at Tinker AFB Ends: Three Dead (UPDATED)

UPDATE, from Military.com:

An airman reportedly killed his two children and then himself after arguing with his ex-wife Feb. 25 at Tinker Air Force Base, Okla.

[...]

None of the victims or the airman have been identified, pending notification of family members.

The Oklahoman quotes Oklahoma County John Whetsel:
A member of the military and his ex-spouse had an altercation. The ex-spouse left the residence. She had heard gunshots upon her departure from the residence...[The mother, who has been informed of the deaths] is not responding well, as you might expect.


FoxNews is reporting live from Tinker Air Force Base on Shepard Smith's show, that a police standoff has ended. In what is allegedly a domestic disturbance gone horrifically wrong, a man and his two children are dead, with a woman in the hospital for observation:

A male member of the military and ex-spouse had an altercation, officials said.

She heard two gunshots when she left, officials said at a news conference.

Officials said the names of the victims were withheld pending notification next of kin.

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Posted at 2/26/2008 07:30:00 AM |
Monday, February 25, 2008 

The "McMahan" Plot Thickens... (Corrected)

Thanks to the attentive readers who brought to my attention that yesterday this story was posted with factual mistakes. As they unanimously pointed out, I had two ongoing stories confused. Please accept my sincere apology. The incorrect information has been corrected, in the title and in the first paragraph below.


As OKPNS previously reported, The Oklahoma House of Representatives voted 100-0 to begin an investigation, which could potentially lead to the impeachment of State Auditor and Inspector Jeff McMahan, who, along with his wife, Lori, are facing charges of bribery, mail fraud, and conspiracy at the federal level. Eight members of the OK House of Representatives have been assigned to decide whether State Auditor and Inspector Jeff McMahan should be impeached.

The Democrat Co-Chair of the eight-member impeachment-hearing panel is now reported to have tried to purchase an abstract company from McMahan, but was unsuccessful, because McMahan "declined to deny a permit request for a competing company."

According to the Oklahoman, David Braddock is denying that the previous interaction between the two men, and his current seat as co-chair of the panel present an ethics issue.

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Posted at 2/25/2008 10:00:00 PM |
 

Saying "NO" To Lobbyist Gift Giving

By Rep. Jason Murphey
Recently, a bill I authored, HB 2444, was approved by the House Rules Subcommittee on Elections and Redistricting. HB 2444 would ask the state Ethics Commission to create and maintain a voluntary "No Gifts List." Under the bill, lobbyists would be prevented from giving gifts to lawmakers who voluntarily place themselves on the list.
When I asked for your vote to be your State Representative, I did so because I wanted to spend time in the Legislature working for the people, not taking lobbyists gifts and certainly not going through the hassle of returning unsolicted items.
Refusing gifts has proven harder than I expected, as lobbyists kept delivering unrequested items to my office. This became a logistical challenge, since some were left with office staff or even sent in the mail. Other lawmakers have told me of similar frustrations, as they did not want to receive gifts either, and yet items are left at their offices. Read more...

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Posted at 2/25/2008 12:13:00 PM |
 

Video: Rep. Fallin Check Presentation

Congresswoman Mary Fallin presented last week a $3 million check to representatives of the Wave Technology group.
Shawnee News Star videos:

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Posted at 2/25/2008 09:57:00 AM |
 

Coburn said what?!

Pop Quiz: Who said,

We will fight this war again, if we don't fight it now...

That was U.S. Senator Tom Coburn, a couple of weeks ago, after returning from Iraq.

Now, who said this?

I will tell you personally that I think it was probably a mistake going to Iraq...

Same Senator, a week later, at a Muskogee Townhall meeting.

The blogosphere on the left and right has gone wild.

Coburn was awarded. Just recently, he has made it clear that he does NOT want to be McCain's Vice President. Many conservative bloggers think that won't be a problem, now.

Recently, Coburn was awarded the conservative Courage Under Fire award, immediately before strongly endorsing McCain at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington D.C..

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Posted at 2/25/2008 08:18:00 AM |
Sunday, February 24, 2008 

One down...

The battle between Drew Edmondson and the Poultry Industry has resulted in collateral damage, reports the Oklahoman. One poultry company has closed its Oklahoma operations, and waived its right to be present at the ongoing hearings.

Willow Brooke Farms, a turkey company based in Springfield, MO, has cited the cost of litigation as their reason for dropping out. They are still a defendent in the lawsuit, however.

The company only had one turkey farmer in Oklahoma, Larry Emerson, of Tahlequah, who told the Arkansas Democrat Gazette, "He tried to prevent runoff and cooperated with authorities who tested his groundwater," and said:

I thought at least we would always be able to retire if we did a good job for whoever we were with. I never dreamed that the state of Oklahoma would take away our income.

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Posted at 2/24/2008 09:04:00 PM |
 

Tar Creek Buy Out

Recently, the Federal Government announced 18-month moratorium on federal loan payments for Picher and Cardin in the Tar Creek community.

According to U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK), the EPA is now planning to buy out homes in the Tar Creek community:

The new plan would apparently end the need for asking for more money each year to allow the EPA to continue buying out homes in the area. Last year money was held up because of debates over passing spending bills in Congress.

The Tulsa World reports:

Oklahoma's existing trust [will be used] to complete the voluntary buyout for residents of the Tar Creek Superfund site and estimated the costs of that three-year goal at $42 million.

That put the total price tag for what has been termed the final cleanup plan for Tar Creek at about $167 million, which is on top of the nearly $150 million already spent at the site in Ottawa County.

The Joplin Globe quotes Inhofe:

This announcement marks landmark progress for the people living in the area of the Tar Creek Superfund site. The EPA’s latest remediation plan not only addresses necessary clean up of soil and water contamination from chat piles and wastes at the site, it also announces the completion of relocation assistance for the residents living in the Tar Creek communities.

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Posted at 2/24/2008 08:37:00 PM |
 

Why are These Attorneys Supporting only Democrat Attorneys General?

The Legal Newsline is reporting that Bailey Perrin Bailey (BPB) has a particular interest in funding Democrat candidates, including Democrat Attorneys General:

[Ken Bailey] routinely donates tens of thousands of dollars to Democratic party campaigns and committees, including an impressive $38,000 just in 2007. Online filings show he donated to the campaigns of six Democratic congressmen, two presidential candidates and two national election committees, including $10,000 to the Democratic National Campaign Committee.

The BPB founding partner has also honed in successfully on key party targets. One is the Democratic Attorneys General Association (DAGA), which raises $2 million annually to help make Democrats AGs in 31 states. Some of those Democratic AGs, notably McDaniel and Oklahoma's Drew Edmondson, in turn hire private lawyers to litigate big-money cases for the state.

Not surprisingly, Bailey has been one of DAGA's most generous donors over recent years.
DAGA's "527" Political Organization Filing Information shows Bailey donated $30,000 in 2005 and again in 2006. The Bailey Williams Law firm, also co-founded by Ken Bailey, also donated $25,000 in 2006, and over $2.3M to Democrat candidates in 2001-2002 (and $0.00 to Republican candidates).

OKPNS has previously reported on expert opinion that attorney generals hiring private law firms is becoming more and more common, and may not be in the best interest of the taxpayers.

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Posted at 2/24/2008 07:11:00 PM |
Friday, February 22, 2008 

OK Senate: Progressive Measures Toward Socialized Medicine

Brain Tumor Buzz, reports that yesterday a Senate committee passed legislation that would require insurance companies to pay for experimental treatments:

Sen. Andrew Rice, the bill's author, said it was a matter of fairness. He said Medicaid and Medicare patients can go through clinical trials and still have their routine care compensated.

The bill is called Steffanie's Law, and according to the Oklahoman:

The legislation is named for Steffanie Collings, a Noble teenager who has been battling a brain tumor.

Monty Collings, her father, said the bill will not help Steffanie or the family, which has amassed more than $400,000 in medical bills that their insurance provider will not cover.

"The sole reason I'm putting so much effort in this is so other families won't be put through this," Collings said.

He said his daughter, who will be 19 next month, is in the final stages of her illness. She's been undergoing care using a new treatment that is part of a clinical trial.

The Hays Daily News quoted Sen. Rice:

"Families in Oklahoma should not have to decide between potential lifesaving treatments and personal financial ruin," Rice said after Thursday's vote. "There is little evidence that routine health care costs for clinical trial patients are any higher than costs for patients who are not enrolled in trials."

He labeled as bogus insurance industry claims that the mandate will raise premiums in Oklahoma.

"Clinical trials that are frequently paid for by drug companies and treatment facilities can actually reduce critical health care costs down the road when they prove successful," Rice said.

Also in the Senate on Wednesday, the Tulsa World is reporting that the Appropriations Committe passed SB 1709, which would combine the Medical Examiner's Office with the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation (OSBI). Together with SB 1689, and SB 1865, the Criminal Justice Resource Center would also be merged into the OSBI, and a new Office of Accountability and Innovation would be set up within the Legislative Service Bureau.

This whole "streamlining" process will cost the Oklahoma taxpayers about a $1,000,000 according to Senate Co-President Pro Tem Glenn Coffee (R-OKC).

NewsOK.com reports that opponents to the new measures have expressed concerns about accountability and integrity issues with having all of these agencies merged into one.

Both bills now go to the full OK Senate.

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Posted at 2/22/2008 10:52:00 AM |
 

'The Alliance for Oklahoma's Future' Wants you to Pay More Taxes

As I was bouncing down Riverside Drive in Tulsa on my way to work today in the center lane, because the right-hand lane going both directions is nearly impassable due to shoddy pothole repair (At least someone had the good taste to finally take those "Progress as Promised" signs!), I heard the same report I've been hearing reading over and over in the news that the State's current budget woes, created by Governor Brad Henry's and Treasurer Scott Meacham's recent math error, are the fault of legislation in recent years to cut our taxes.

Then, OKPNS received an e-mail from the "Alliance for Oklahoma's Future." Who are they? A complete list of the member ship is here, and the board of directors is here. The names include the AFL-CIO, the CAP of Tulsa, the OK Hospital Organization, the OICA, the Board of Ed, the United Suburban School Association, the American Association of University Professors, the League of Women Voters, Oklahoma Center for Consumer & Patient Safety, Oklahoma City AFT, Planned Parenthood of Arkansas and Eastern Oklahoma, Inc., Parent Child Center of Tulsa, Progressive Alliance Foundation, the Oklahoma Nurses Association, and many others - basically, a coalition of groups that operate on OPM (other people's money).

Anyway, this group has published and distributed an official "study," which removes the doubt of anyone not really paying attention, that Oklahoma is in dire straits, and will not be able to continue operating schools and jails if we don't start paying more in taxes. (See Tax Cuts and Consequences, by David Blatt). Apparently you are urged to immediately add your organization to the list of organizations that oppose TABOR, and make a donation to the Alliance.

Okaaaay. How much of our taxpayer money is funding the organizations represented by the associations on this list?

Even Governor Henry indicated in his State of the State speech recently that the way to balance the budget is by "increasing efficiencies and otherwise putting state funds to better use." Indeed.

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Posted at 2/22/2008 08:45:00 AM |
 

V. Burns Hargis: "Creative" Solutions to Overcoming Legal Obstacles

HB 2297 which removes the restriction on colleges from hiring someone who has been on their board of regents in the last year, was approved by the OK House of Representative yesterday, and moves to the Senate.

If approved by the Senate, V. Burns Hargis may be able to get to work at OSU as its new president before July.

As part of his educational career, Burns Hargis has been very involved with the Oklahoma Creativity Project, which is a comprehensive approach to changing the thinking of Oklahomans:

Creativity is not merely the act of producing a creative work. Creativity is the language we use, the way we think, and our ability to solve the problems that need solving.

In the following video (click here or on the image below to view) on the State of Creativity Website, Burns Hargis explains how he is teaching his grandson about his hero, Theodore Roosevelt (leader of the progressive movement and the Progressive Party in the United States), and what Teddy Roosevelt stood for.

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Posted at 2/22/2008 07:16:00 AM |
Thursday, February 21, 2008 

Tip Line: "Interesting Events at the Capitol"

The new speaker's appointments are drawing lots of concern at the Capitol. Insiders are questioning John Trebilcock's appointment to the energy committee, probably the most sought-after committee in all the house where oil money contributions flow.
And now, questions are coming up about Speaker Benge's appointment of Tad Jones as Vice Chair of the Appropriations Committee while letting Jones keep his chairmanship over the education budget committee too. People who have been around the Capitol a long time say it's the first they have ever heard of one person having two chairmanships, especially such big ones. Can one person really handle both jobs? Overseeing the details of the education budget, which is over half of the entire budget, plus staying in the loop about all the other parts of the budget as vice chairman of the A&B committee, will be a tough job.
Some Republican members, especially the freshmen and sophomores, think this was the perfect chance to let other, younger members share some responsibility and power. But the hitch is that Jones is Speaker Benge's closest friend. Some lobbyists are laughing that it was always obvious Cargill took care of his friends, but even he didn't take it to this level.
But the biggest loser in the new situation is Rep. Lee Denny. Word is some sort of arrangement had been made with her to let her be the next AB Vice Chair to keep her from running for the Senate, but Speaker Benge refused to honor the commitment. But its too late for Denney now because the former president of OSU has already entered the senate race.

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Posted at 2/21/2008 03:32:00 PM |
 

Democratic Presidential Debate Watch Party

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact:  Mike Workman, 742-8165 h/o, 760-7202 cell

Demo Presidential Debate watch party

Organized by: DFA Tulsa

Watch the Democratic Presidential Debate between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama
telecast live on CNN from Austin, Texas.

Event Date: Thursday, February 21, 2008

Event Time: 7:00 PM Central

Venue Name: Central Library, Aaronson Auditorium

Address: 400 Civic Center

City: Tulsa

State: OK

Zip Code: 74103

Phone Number: 918-596-7977

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Posted at 2/21/2008 03:30:00 PM |
 

Tom Cole: Change to Indian Gaming - A Solution in Search of a Problem

On Wednesday, the House Natural Resources Committee, led by Chairman Nick J. Rahall (D-WV), held an oversight field hearing on "Oklahoma Indian Issues: Proposed Regulations Governing Economic Development."

Links to Audio Clips of the hearing are available on Indianz.com.

The National and Oklahoma Indian Gaming Commissions were represented, as were the Choctaw, Quawpaw, Peoria, Cherokee, Osage, and Chickasaw tribes, as well as the city of Miami, Ottawa County, and the Miami Community and Economic Development Department.

Tony Thornton NewsOK.com gives some background:

The National Indian Gaming Commission, which regulates the industry, wants to clarify the difference between Class II, or bingo-based electronic machines, and Class III slot machines such as those found in Las Vegas. Technology developed over the last two decades has blurred that distinction, regulators say.

Most experts agree the proposed changes would make existing Class II games illegal, forcing tribes to pay states a share of profits in return for the right to offer Class III games.

That's already happening in Oklahoma, thanks to voters' approval of tribal gaming compacts in late 2004.

Dan Boren (D-OK)and Tom Cole (R-OK), a Chickasaw, also attended, and supported the tribal chiefs in their opposition to the changes, according to the Tulsa World:

"The (proposed) regulations are a solution in search of a problem," Cole said. "It will cripple economic development in Indian Country, not promote it."

[...]

"We don't want the equilibrium disturbed," said Cherokee Principal Chief Chad Smith. "I find it quite interesting that the state and state officials have not complained about these changes."

The changes being discussed would require bingo machines to be classified as slot machines and bring in extra revenue to the state governemnts, at the expense of the tribes.

Indianz.com explains:

In the case of Oklahoma, tribes have to share revenues with the state for Class III machines. Though tribes make less money on Class II machines, they depend on them to generate revenues at their casinos.

If enacted, the NIGC's regulations would turn some Class II machines into Class III ones. A study predicted a loss of $1 billion across the nation.

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Posted at 2/21/2008 10:08:00 AM |
 

You Might be a Redneck If....

The McAlester News-Capital is reporting no charges will be filed after Lloyd Fields, Oklahoma State Labor Commissioner, spent 10 hours in a detox center over the weekend, after trying to steal Ft. Worth bull rider Colby Yates' guitar, and being wrestled to the ground by two members of the Professional Bull Riders' Association.

Fields apologized, and said the whole thing was a botched practical joke.

The Oklahoman is reporting that Yates was not amused...

"It might not have been a practical joke to me. Maybe it was? I don't know."

...but graciously declined to file a complaint:

"They did ask me that [if he wanted to press charges]. I told them it wasn't a big deal to me."

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Posted at 2/21/2008 08:49:00 AM |
 

Petitioning your State Government is Getting More and More Difficult

Michael McNutt of the Capitol Bureau reports that the House subcommittee on elections and redistricting passed two measures yesterday, to be heard by the House Rules Committee, which would make collecting signatures in Oklahoma more difficult. The measures are aimed at preventing fraudulent and duplicate signatures on ballots.

HB 2869, by Rep. Mike Shelton, D-Oklahoma City, would require those passing petitions be registered voters of Oklahoma. State law now just states they have to be qualified electors.

His bill also would prohibit those collecting signatures to be paid for each signature they collect.

[...]

HB 3350, by Rep. Randy Terrill, R-Oklahoma City, is a similar bill aimed at trying to refine the initiative petition process. His measure beefs up the penalties for those who collect fraudulent signatures as well as for those who fraudulently sign petitions.

Paul Jacob, who is one of the "Oklahoma 3" being tried right now for allegedly collecting signatures as non-residents of Oklahoma (allegations which are demonstrably untrue, according to Paul Jacob, Susan Johnson, and Rick Carpenter).

When I spoke to Mr. Jacob on in January, one of the things he explained to me was that for a citizen, deciding to begin an initiative (e.g. for term limits, spending limits, government accountability, etc..) requires that citizen to count the cost, personally, and those costs can be astromical, personally and professionally. There is an enormous amount of time (away from family, career, personal life), and often a huge financial burden involved. But when the additional cost of legal retaliation by the government becomes a consideration, many citizens decide they simply cannot take that risk, and will “shut up.”

Jacob’s goal, in working through his own legal battle, through his foundation (Citizens in Charge), through the Sam Adams Alliance and Foundation, and now through the “Save the Initiative Blog Tour” is to reduce the fear of such legal action against citizens by their government.

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Posted at 2/21/2008 08:03:00 AM |
Wednesday, February 20, 2008 

Warning: Don't Touch anything that Falls out of the Sky!

Governor Brad Henry has been busy making emergency plans to day, in case any satellite debri lands in Oklahoma.

KJRH, in Tulsa reports:

Gov. Brad Henry huddled Wednesday with homeland security and emergency officials to coordinate response efforts under federal guidelines if satellite debris lands in the state.

Henry says the chances of fallout in Oklahoma are remote, but the state needs to be prepared just in case.

According to the A.P., the plans to shoot down the satellite may be delayed:

The aim is not just to hit the bus-sized satellite — which would burn up upon re-entering the atmosphere anyway — but to obliterate a tank onboard that is carrying 1,000 pounds of hydrazine, a toxic fuel. The fuel, unused because the satellite died shortly after reaching orbit in December 2006 — could be hazardous if it landed in a populated area.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a health bulletin saying that the health risk from satellite debris was considered to be low.

KOCO in Oklahoma City writes:

The federal government hopes to use a missile to destroy the U.S. spy satellite before it re-enters earth's atmosphere and crashes. The missile launch could occur as early as today, depending on weather conditions and other factors...Federal authorities are urging the general public to stay away from any satellite fragments and are asking state first responders to help locate and hold debris until federal assistance teams arrive.

The most important thing to remember, is DON'T TOUCH IT! Whatever you do, don't act like this man, in the Ferrero Rocher commercial, who sees something that falls from the sky, and pops it into his mouth!

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Posted at 2/20/2008 04:06:00 PM |
 

OK Legislator's Blog

By Rep. Jason Murphey
Can you imagine a situation in the private business world where one part of the business was allowed to issue millions of dollars of debt without approval from the board of directors? Certainly it would not be long before that business would simply cease to exist. No doubt it would be driven into bankruptcy by out-of-control employees who spend without check or balance.
Yet that is exactly what is occurring in state government. The Regents for Higher Education are issuing millions of dollars of bond projects without the approval of the legislature. The projects not only indebt state government to paying off the principal of the debt, but the unnecessary interest as well.
In fact, it appears that in the last 8 years, more than 250 million dollars have been issued by the Regents in debt. Currently, around 180 million of this is still waiting to be paid back. The money has been requested for use on projects as varied as athletic score boards to golf course maintenance equipment.
Recently, a courageous member of the Council of Bond Oversight asked his board to seek an Attorney General’s opinion on the constitutionality of the Regents to issue this kind of debt. Unfortunately, not enough members of his board voted to support his effort, and it failed. Read more...

By Senator Jay Paul Gumm, D-Durant
Hello again, everybody! Legislative committees in both the Senate and House of Representatives continue consideration of the hundreds of bills filed for 2008. One of the worst proposals on the table this year is a measure that would begin to “sunset,” or systematically end, many of our state’s tax exemptions. The result would be a systematic tax increase for a broad spectrum of Oklahoma business activities. In fact, if enacted as presented, it would by far be the largest tax increase in Oklahoma’s history
Proponents of ending those exemptions have been clear: they want to raise taxes so they can cut taxes – primarily for the wealthiest among us. I know; it does not make sense to me, either. This proposal would be a “tax shift” that is potentially devastating for many Oklahoma businesses and jobs. It could drive up food prices for you and me, but more on that in a moment.
This notion of “tax shifting” – from an economic development standpoint – troubles me greatly. In essence, ending these exemptions would be breaking a promise we made to businesses that have invested in our state and our people.
Businesses relocate or expand into a state based on a set of promises. New and existing businesses that make new investments and create new jobs do not deserve to have the rug pulled out from under them by eliminating exemptions on which they depend. Read more...

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Posted at 2/20/2008 03:49:00 PM |
 

Scandal in the County Commissioner's Office! Oh, wait. Nevermind.

With all of the night-time legal dramas on TV, my favorite being Boston Legal, when I received a tip by e-mail that a deputy in the Tulsa County Commissioner's Office was allegedly handling the commissioner's divorce procedings, I must admit I thought we were going to have a real-life legal drama right here in Tulsa.

But as it turns out, the only "scandal" may be that Attorney Terry Simonson is a workaholic.

The Tulsa World reports Attorney Terry Simonson acknowledges that he still works on private cases, some of which are new, but most of which were started prior to his taking his new position in the County Commissioner's office last year. He says he helped Randi Miller with her divorce, but the work he did was not "legal work":

He has said previously that the only time he identified himself as Miller's attorney was Jan. 7, when he went to the Court Clerk's Office to schedule a mandatory parenting class.

He also appeared briefly at the hearing to tell the judge that Miller was running late.

Simonson said Friday he has severed his ties to the case.

"I filed a request to get out of Commissioner Miller's case, so that's over."

KTUL Tulsa writes:

Tulsa County Personnel Director Terry Tallent says there is no policy that prohibits a county commission employee from working a second job.

Miller says Simonson's outside work has not interfered with his official duties and that he works more than 40 hours per week.

Keep up the good work, Mr. Simonson.

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Posted at 2/20/2008 10:47:00 AM |
 

Edmondson Lays Out his Case Against the Poultry Companies (Updated)

Yesterday, Oklahoma Attorney Drew Edmondson laid out his case against the area Poultry Industry, (See Case No. 05-CV-329-GKF/SAJ)specifically: Tyson Foods Inc., Tyson Poultry Inc., Tyson Chicken Inc., Cobb-Vantress Inc., Aviagen Inc., Cal-Maine Foods Inc., Cargill Inc., Cargill Turkey Production L.L.C., George's Inc., George's Farms Inc., Peterson Farms Inc., Simmons Foods Inc., Cal-Maine Farms Inc. and Willow Brook Foods Inc. saying, according the A.P., that:

Unless the court grants the request by the spring, the fecal bacteria found in the waste could pose a health threat to hundreds of people who visit the river valley each year...Our evidence will show that these persistent and pervasive violations of state and federal law have infested the rivers and springs and wells of the Illinois River Watershed with biological pathogens that have created an imminent and substantial threat to human health
.

According to the same A.P. report, "He also said the amount of phosphorous dumped on the ground in the watershed each year is equivalent to the waste of 10.7 million people."

Tyson Foods' attorney Patrick Ryan responded by saying the injunction seeks to disrupt an industry that has operated successfully in the watershed for decades. He also accused the state of creating the science to suit its case:

There is nothing more going on in this watershed than the rest of the state.

Attorneys for the state admitted they had not taken action against the Oklahoma cattle industry, even though the primary source of fecal contamination in the rest of the state is cattle.

Ryan also saidalso said:

The state has not been able to identify a single person who has become ill because of contact with water in the watershed.

NewsOK.com reports Edmondson will be calling witnesses over the next three days, then the court will hear from the poultry industry.

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Posted at 2/20/2008 09:39:00 AM |
 

Panelists Assigned to the McMahan Impeachment Hearing

Eight members of the OK House of Representatives have been assigned to decide whether State Auditor and Inspector Jeff McMahan should be impeached. Those representatives are as follows:

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Posted at 2/20/2008 09:11:00 AM |
Tuesday, February 19, 2008 

Picture of the Day: State Labor Commissioner Lloyd Fields New XBOX Poster Boy?

 

Rep. Dorman on This Week's Legislation

By Rep. Joe Dorman
Last Friday, another piece of legislation that was of importance to the state was heard on the House floor. HB 3111 by Ron Peterson, R-Tulsa, would provide that any future insurance mandate passed by the legislature would require it to sit over for a minimum of two years, have an actuarial study paid for by an outside source to see how much insurance costs would rise and if passed within one year, require a 75% vote of the legislature rather than the simple majority. This bill, an attempt to reduce required coverage of such things as autism, colorectal screenings and assistance for Phenylketonuria (PKU), was passed 53 to 46. Two Republicans crossed over to join all 44 Democrats in voting against this bill.
I debated against this bill on several points. This legislation takes away the authority of legislators to determine in a year if one of these mandates is necessary. It is also under the assumption that we cannot make a decision that is not emotional on the subject of mandates. Another point is that an actuarial study done by an outside source (usually the insurance company) will not be unbiased as would something prepared by our House Staff. Read more...

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Posted at 2/19/2008 02:45:00 PM |
 

Why Don't we Just Ban Smoking Inside the State of Oklahoma? (And put everyone on a diet, while we're at it!)

Next the state will try to ban smoking in individuals’ cars and homes as well, said Sen. Randy Brogdon (R-Owasso) who proposed an amendment to SB 1875 that would have simply banned all smoking within the state of Oklahoma, but the measure failed when the members of the committee – including Brogdon – refused to vote on the amendment.

Senate Bill 1875 passed the Senate Business and Labor Committee, and will move to the Senate. This bill reinforces current smoking bans, and expands the bans to bars, casinos and racetracks.

This legislation is part of a growing trend nationally by government officials to assume the responsibility for the personal health habits of its citizens. As previously noted by OKPNS, such smoking bans are becoming more common. In California, there is a move toward smoke-free apartments and condos.

Other health habits are under scrutiny, as well, as Mississippi's House of Representatives is currently considering legislation to prohibit restaurants from serving obese customers and New York City Restaurants are banned from using trans fats.

Closer to home, Tulsa and Oklahoma City launched the Mayors' Fitness Challenge, which is part of the national Mayors' Healthy Cities Campaign, by the United States Conference of Mayors. At least participation in these tax-payer-funded programs is voluntary for citizens - for now.

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Posted at 2/19/2008 11:59:00 AM |
 

Alliance for Oklahoma's Future: "Tax Incentives, Rainy Day Fund Must Be on Table"

David Blatt, Chair of the Alliance for Oklahoma’s Future, issued the following statement in response to the new revenue estimate certified by the State Board of Equalization showing that the Legislature will have $195 million less revenue for the coming fiscal year than initially estimated.
“It is unfortunate, but not surprising, that the revenue reductions resulting from the tax cuts of recent years are fully kicking in just as the state’s economy is showing some initial signs of weakness. The revised revenue numbers, certified today by the Board of Equalization, are a clear and sobering indication that this is going to be an extremely difficult budget year that will strain the state’s capacity to keep schools, prisons, roads and hospitals properly funded.”
“The recertification numbers create the strong likelihood of targeted and even across-the-board budget cuts in the coming year. When so many of our critical public services already lack adequate funding, further budget cuts would have a real and damaging effect on Oklahoma’s citizens, communities and economy. In order to keep basic programs and services operating, legislators will have to be open to exploring all options for balancing the budget. This must include carefully scrutinizing the tax system for unnecessary and unintentional loopholes and exemptions, as well as reviewing and prioritizing existing spending programs and tapping into the Rainy Day Fund where appropriate.”

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Posted at 2/19/2008 11:14:00 AM |
 

U.S. and State Chambers Suing to Repeal HB1804

From Carol, of Immigration Reform for Oklahoma Now (I.R.O.N.):

Folks, Oklahoma is on the MARCH! 12-20 states are looking to Oklahoma to lead in the fight against the illegal alien invasion...Local dues support State and National Chambers and should not fund lawsuits against its membership.

The U.S. Chamber, Plus the State, Tulsa, and OKC Chambers have declared war on Oklahoma Citizens:

  • Chambers filed lawsuit 2/1/08 against many of their own members
  • They seek repeal of the Immigration Bill - HB1804 to continue profiting from illegal workers – modern slavery – they want NO ID checks and unrestricted hiring practices
  • Their agendas promote out-sourcing of jobs for globalization – NAU
  • Is violating rule of law 'okay' if it increases profits?
  • Is income tax evasion by employers now part of the 'art of making money'?

What Can YOU Do?
  • Voice your outrage and remove your Chamber membership
  • Demand this corrupt, immoral, greedy and inhumane leadership be removed
  • Demand your dues not be used for this lawsuit


Following is the contact information

U. S. Chamber of Commerce Pres. Tom Donahue 202-659-6000 1615 H Street, NW Washington, DC 20062-2000 (Buy a supply of post cards to send)

President Richard Rush 405-235-3669

OKC Chamber of Commerce Pres. Roy Williams 405-297-8900

Tulsa Metro Chamber President Mike Neal 918-585-1201

ALSO joined Lawsuit: Oklahoma Restaurant Assoc. (405-942-8181)

Oklahoma Hotel and Lodging Assoc. (405-942-6462)


To learn more, contact Carol, with I.R.O.N., 918-906-6027

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Posted at 2/19/2008 09:03:00 AM |
 

How much Chicken Feces can Arkansas put in Oklahoma Water? Hearing Begins Today

For over six years, Oklahoma Attorney Drew Edmondson has obsessively and relentlessly pursued Arkansas Chicken companies and farmers, alledging that the chicken "litter" being used in the area is sufficient to classify as solid waste, and is in sufficient volumes to poison streams and well-water used by Oklahoma Humans.

PhotobucketEdmondson's methods of gathering evidence for his lawsuit have been questionable, at times, extending to alledgedly trespassing on private property, having using fake FBI agents to intimidate poultry farmers, and trying to intimidate those who have reported on the lawsuit in a way that was unflattering to the Attorney General's Office. OKPNS has covered the story extensively - view the archive here.

The Arkansas Poulty industry alledges that it is merely being targeted by greedy Oklahoma attornies because of the amount of money it makes.

Beginning today, both will have their day in court, and perhaps in the near future, we will once and for all determine how much Arkansas chicken feces is safe for Oklahomans to drink and bathe in, and whether or not the end justifies the means, or the means justifies the end when it comes to governmental regulation.

Also see: The Morning News: Poultry Growers, Companies Say Lawsuit Could Hurt Livelihoods

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Posted at 2/19/2008 08:12:00 AM |
 

McMahan's Impeachment Investigation Underway

The Oklahoma House of Representatives voted 100-0 to begin an investigation, which could potentially lead to the impeachment of State Auditor and Inspector Jeff McMahan, who, along with his wife, Lori, are facing charges of bribery, mail fraud, and conspiracy at the federal level. KOKO 5 in Oklahoma City quotes House Democratic Leader Danny Morgan of Prague, as saying:
The No. 1 item we ran on our agenda this year was ethics. If there's wrongdoing, it certainly should be investigated. This is probably the most serious issue we'll deal with this year...This is not a partisan issue. Republicans and Democrats alike should be held accountable to the same standards. That is why we believe that an investigation into the state auditor and inspector is entirely appropriate and necessary.
The Comanche County Chronicle also printed a statement released by Morgan, which added:
Every person deserves their fair day in court. However, it is the Constitutional duty of this body to investigate if any impeachable offenses have occurred. If any unethical behavior has occurred, then the State Auditor and Inspector should be removed from office. We look forward to working with the Speaker and all of our colleagues in the House into investigating the charges brought against Jeff McMahan.

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Posted at 2/19/2008 07:48:00 AM |
Monday, February 18, 2008 

J.C. Watts - Closer and Closer to the Endzone for Veep - At Least Online

According to a poll conducted by Right-Wing News, answered by 1300 readers, The top three of McCain's popular rumored options for a vice presidential runningmate were Fred Thompson, J.C. Watts, and Duncan Hunter. Oklahoma's Senator Tom Coburn ranked 16th out of 20.

The blogosphere is abuzz with the prospect, as is the main-stream media. This blogger is collecting signatures for a petition to John McCain.

Even Canadian Bloggers are asking, "Who Will McCain Choose As His Running Mate: The Charmer Or The Quarterback?"

RedStater Mat Pruitt summarizes much of what is being discussed online about Watts' suitability as a runningmate for McCain, which is that this duo would represent good strategy for the Republican Party, regardless of whether or not they are successful in winning the WhiteHouse:

I have three main criteria that I hope Senator McCain will follow in picking a running mate:

  1. That the individual be from the South;
  2. That they be able to consolidate both religious and economic conservatives, and;
  3. That they be able to bring new voters into the fold and expand the Republican base.

[...]

He is an unapologetic social conservative, a former pastor, former Oklahoma Corporate Commissioner and Congressman, former college football star, and currently a successful business man, national pundit, and a board member of such organizations as the Boy Scouts of America. More importantly, JC is a true believer in free market economics, and consistently for more defense, less government overall, and lower taxes. Watts can speak to the Huckabee, Romney, Thompson, and McCain voting blocks with out batting an eye, and without having his sincerity questioned.

I'd be lying if I said that I didn't appreciate the fact that Watts is an African American, I do. I am against affirmative action, but believe it makes sense for Republicans to recruit minority candidates....(more)

No word, yet, on whether J.C. Watts or McCain are as excited about the prospect of a McCain-Watts '08 ticket, as Watts' fans are.

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    Posted at 2/18/2008 03:05:00 PM |
     

    Coburn Doth Protest too Much...?

    KTUL Channel 8 in Tulsa is reporting that Tom Coburn has no interest in running as McCain's Vice President:

    Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn told an audience he has no interest in running for vice president. Coburn held a townhall meeting in Muskogee Saturday to discuss ongoing issues, such as Social Security reform, but he also took the chance to put some rumors to rest. (video below)

    [...]

    "When I ran for this job I told Oklahomans I'm going to challenge the culture. We have to finish that job. That is more important to me than any other position that I could be in," said Coburn.

    The Tulsa World quotes him as saying, that "Coburn, however, said he is too controversial to be a good running mate and doesn't think it would be the best use of his time."

    He may be right. According to a poll conducted by Right-Wing News, answered by 1300 readers, Coburn ranked 16th out of 20 on that short-list of McCain's popular rumored options. The top three were Fred Thompson, J.C. Watts, and Duncan Hunter.

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    Posted at 2/18/2008 02:40:00 PM |
     

    Lazy OK Press Follows OKPNS Lead

    The Tulsa World attempted to reclaim some journalistic pride for the mainstream OK press. The World ran a story this morning (that was obviously motivated by our report last week that exposed the open borders crowd and the business lobby with their pants around their knees) that says that the business lobby will attempt to repeal or modify 1804 this legislatives session. Here's an excerpt from the story:
    "But I can tell you this is not something the business community or any of the major chambers of commerce are going to be able to not engage in."
    Kelly laid out two major issues with the new law: "man's inhumanity to man" and the "absolute Draconian effect" it has on the state's economy. "Without legislative action, there will have to be some sort of public awareness campaign that brings to light the very Draconian and insidious nature of this legislation," he said.
    In order for this issue to be fully understood, it will require a public information campaign," said Kell Kelly, CEO of SpiritBank, who explained he could not confirm that such an effort already was under way. Read more...
    "Man's inhumanity to Man??" I haven't heard that phrase since high school English class! I agree with Rep. Terrill when he said:
    "If illegal aliens making the modern equivalent of slave labor wages are critical to their vitality, it makes me very, very concerned about the future of those companies.
    "
    Cliches and platitudes are passed around so cavalierly in politics these days, that astute observers ususally don't pay much attention to them any more. For example, we've all heard within the political discourse the notion that companies are greedy and are only moving jobs overseas and hiring illegals to fatten their profit margins.
    I thought I was in the astute catgegory until we got wind of the "Rob Peter to pay Paul" scheme 1804 opponents are trying to foist on the public. I'm still amazed, that first, they still haven't talked to Rep. Terrill. And second, with the backlash from the amnesty bill the Congress tried to pass last year, these titans of Oklahoma industry are still going to try to have 1804 repealed.

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    Posted at 2/18/2008 01:28:00 PM |


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