Archive for Soonerland

Guns stuck to

From 2011:

An Oklahoma woman has sparked a federal controversy after she refused to renew her driver’s license.

Kaye Beach has chosen not to renew her driver’s license in protest of new federal ID requirements under the REAL ID Act, which outlines more stringent standards for state ID cards.

In particular some civil liberties groups have become incensed over the law’s provision which require that all state IDs use high-resolution photos and fingerprints for potential biometric identification. Many groups say that these rules will create a national ID which Beach says are the “hallmark of a totalitarian society.” She also believes that sharing biometric information with the government is a violation of her constitutional rights, which is why she refused to update her license.

This week:

The Oklahoma Supreme Court has ruled against a Norman woman who wanted to get a driver’s license without a high-resolution photo because of her religious views.

Kaye Beach has gone without a license since 2011 because of beliefs that came from her study of Revelation in the Bible.

Despite the ruling Tuesday, Beach, 49, said she will continue to explore her legal options.

“I feel certain that I’m going to prevail,” she told The Oklahoman.

Let it be noted that the state didn’t act on REAL ID compliance until, um, 2017. [Warning: autostart video.]

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A place to drill, baby

The argument is often made that if we restore the gross production tax to 7 percent — in 2014, the legislature cut it to 2 percent for the first 36 months — we will lose oil production to neighboring states with lower taxes. Banker (Bank of Oklahoma) and oilman (Kaiser-Francis Oil Company) George Kaiser argues that this is a load of dingo’s kidneys:

There are virtually no lower tax states! All of the other major oil-producing states charge 6 percent to 13 percent. Restoring the new well gross production tax from 2 percent to Oklahoma’s previous level of 7 percent would reduce a well’s revenue by only about 2 percent to 3 percent, not enough to affect any drilling decision, since pre-drilling estimates of reserves, costs and prices can each vary by more than 50 percent. We drill where God put the hydrocarbons, not where the tax rate is lowest.

“Don’t have an oil well?” asked Eddie Chiles’ Western Company in the 1970s. “Get one!” The oil bidness is cyclical; for the moment, it’s nearly as ebullient as it was in Chiles’ day, and they can certainly absorb five cents’ worth of excise. And it’s not like the state has to lean on Big(ish) Oil to balance its budget: it’s going to take adjustments everywhere to patch this $900 million hole in projected receipts.

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Healthier meth

What if it were … gluten-free?

Public Service Announcement--The Tecumseh Police Department is offering FREE testing for gluten laced meth. Please bring your meth to the Tecumseh Police Department for your FREE test

Oklahoma law enforcement is nothing if not ingenious. In 2015, the Kiowa County Sheriff’s Office ran an ad in the Hobart Democrat-Chief to this effect:

“Is your drug dealing competition costing you money? … We can take your competition off the streets for free.”

I mean, it’s not like drug dealers exist in a Kumbaya-esque cooperation zone, you know?

(Via KFOR-TV, a Tribune Media station.)

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Complete with plastic insects

Astroturfing, as described by Infogalactic:

Astroturfing is the practice of masking the sponsors of a message or organization (e.g., political, advertising, religious or public relations) to make it appear as though it originates from and is supported by grassroots participant(s). It is a practice intended to give the statements or organizations credibility by withholding information about the source’s financial connection. The term astroturfing is derived from AstroTurf, a brand of synthetic carpeting designed to resemble natural grass, as a play on the word “grassroots.” The implication behind the use of the term is that there are no “true” or “natural” grassroots, but rather “fake” or “artificial” support, although some astroturfing operatives defend the practice.

One particularly egregious example of this appeared on page 16A of The Oklahoman this morning:

Not even a nickel?

“PAID ADVERTISING” appears in largish print near the top, as would seem appropriate. Where things get artificial is at the bottom:


It took all of four seconds to trace this back to the Association of General Contractors. Now I don’t have any problem with AOGC trying to wangle funding out of the state, as does seemingly every interest group from Black Mesa to Bokchito. But I object strenuously to this “Oklahomans for Better Roads and Bridges” nonsense, obviously intended to imply that your neighbors and mine contributed to the ideas and the cost of this Paid Advertisement; it’s a PAC, nothing more, with over a million dollars on hand to spend on fund-wangling. If we’re going to have PACs, and by all indications we are, the very least we can do is to require them to identify themselves as such.

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I, sucker

This email came in shortly after 3:00 yesterday:

Please confirm your order from Billy Sims BBQ by calling us at 405-858-8646, we’d really appreciate it.

I hadn’t actually placed an order, though the thought had occurred to me, especially since I’d finished my tax return about then.

I suppose I should have read the next paragraph:

Also you have been enlisted to try out our groundbreaking new S & S technology, just ask your friendly CSR for complete details. Thanks to all of our courageous beta testers, we made it through the dark days of the inorganic compounds, and now, we’ve finally made it work with actual meals … hooray! Order online at or enjoy our world famous OKC hospitality at (405) 858-ToGo or (405) 858-8646.

When I reached the CSR, he sounded rather weary; apparently it wasn’t his idea to blanket local customers with this prank. Still, I hadn’t set anything out for dinner yet, and I seldom if ever cook on Saturday, so I went ahead and ordered Billy Sims’ three-meat combo. A couple bucks more than I’d planned to spend, but what the hell.


The man from Zima Junction

Apparently not everyone was ready for this:

Perhaps it’s not the usual resting place for a Russian poet, but that’s the way it is:

Acclaimed Russian poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko, whose work focused on war atrocities and denounced anti-Semitism and tyrannical dictators, has died. He was 84.

Ginny Hensley, a spokeswoman for Hillcrest Medical Center in Tulsa, confirmed Yevtushenko’s death. Roger Blais, the provost at the University of Tulsa, where Yevtushenko was a longtime faculty member, said he was told Yevtushenko died Saturday morning.

“He died a few minutes ago surrounded by relatives and close friends,” his widow, Maria Novikova, was quoted as saying by the Russian state news agency RIA Novosti. She said he died peacefully in his sleep of heart failure.

Yevtushenko gained notoriety in the former Soviet Union while in his 20s, with poetry denouncing Josef Stalin. He gained international acclaim as a young revolutionary with Babi Yar, the unflinching 1961 poem that told of the slaughter of nearly 34,000 Jews by the Nazis and denounced the anti-Semitism that had spread throughout the Soviet Union.

If you’ve never read Babi Yar, here’s your chance.

Yevtushenko was invited to the University of Tulsa in 1992; he would teach there for the next quarter-century. His widow teaches Russian at Edison School in midtown Tulsa. Zima, his birthplace — Zima Junction was the title of a 1955 poem — is where the Trans-Siberian Railway meets the river Oka.

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How dare you buy so little fuel!

The legislature is taking action against you miserable fuel-sipping bastards:

House Bill 1449 would implement a $30 annual fee on hybrid vehicles, which use a combination of electric and gasoline power. There would also be a $100 fee on every electric-drive motor vehicle registered in the state.

The bill’s author, state Sen. Stephanie Bice, said the money would replace lost motor fuel tax revenue that’s used for road and bridge repairs.

“Currently, these particular types of vehicles do not pay anything into the roads and bridges fund through the gas tax because they’re not using gasoline, or in the case of the hybrid, very little gasoline,” said Bice, R-Oklahoma City.

And there’s <drevil>One Million Dollars</drevil> at stake:

If the bill passes and becomes law, it won’t bring in much to state coffers, compared to other revenue sources. According to a fiscal analysis, the fee on electric vehicles would garner about $212,600 each year based on recent figures showing there are 2,126 plug-in vehicles in Oklahoma.

There are significantly more hybrid vehicles. The $30 fee on more than 26,000 hybrid cars would bring in $799,260.

Then again, we’ve been asking for this kind of treatment for years:

[T]he vast majority of voters agree: A 2016 poll showed 74 percent support increasing the state’s tobacco tax to fund health care.

This will, we are told, reduce the number of smokers. But they pretty much have to hope it doesn’t reduce the number so much that it jeopardizes all that new funding they want.

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Daewoo come and me want go home

A 2000 Daewoo Lanos is being offered locally on craigslist, and it sounds like a real creampuff:

Now this silver bullet only has 71,000 miles, so ladies and gentlemen, this girl just got broke in. With manual windows, you never have to worry about having faulty switches that can go bad and hold you back from getting drive through Chick-fil-a with your bae.

Now that’s handy, six days a week. But wait! There’s more!

Do you sometimes have to drive in the rain to get your significant other food while you’re in trouble for telling her that her sister looked hot at her family reunion and spilling mashed potatoes on her great grandpas urn which in turn gave her grandma a heart attack landing her in the hospital for 2 weeks? Then great! This puppy has 2 multi-speed windshield wipers in the front, and another one on the rear window so you can see your girlfriends dad chasing after you with a shotgun when you sneak her out of the house to go to that concert in Stillwater.

Try that with anything else near the price. (Oh, the price? $1400.)


Vote being gotten out

Text message received yesterday:

This is David/Precinct Chair. TY for voting in 2016. Next election Tues. April 4! Text BALLOT to see your ballot. Signup to vote by mail, Text ABSENTEE. Thanks :)

Well, I know what’s on my ballot, since it’s a school-board runoff. I suppose if I were still paying per-text rates I’d be slightly peeved, but in general I approve of GOTV efforts, especially if there’s enough to them to rouse me from my traditional torpor.


Stop — hammer time

The Oklahoma House has passed a bill to make Good Friday a state holiday:

House Bill 1444 passed by a vote of 69-24 and was opposed by 22 Republicans and two Democrats, according to a spokesman for the House. It now goes to the Senate for consideration.

Good Friday is a Christian holiday commemorating the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ.

Um, thank you for the explanation.

What gets me: only two Democrats in opposition? “Yeah, yeah, we know, separation of church and state and all that crap. But it’s a paid holiday, man!”

One of the GOP opposition offered a different pitch:

“I felt it was in bad judgment to add another holiday to the schedule, especially considering the various economic circumstances of the time,” said Rep. Jason Murphey, R-Guthrie.

(Via The Lost Ogle.)

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Penney’s for your thoughts

JCPenney has now issued its list of store closings, numbering 138, including four in Oklahoma. The Penn Square store in Oklahoma City, rumored to be on the chopping block, survives this round.

The closings in Soonerland will be in Altus, Claremore, Ponca City and Stillwater. This is the statistic that startles me:

The closings will save $200 million per year, the company said.

This works out to nearly $1.5 million per store.

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Something of an abrupt transition

At least, it seems so to me:

It is called “ambulance chasing.”

Attorneys in Oklahoma are prohibited by their own ethical rules from trying to get clients for personal injury lawsuits by just calling them on the phone.

But that’s exactly what an attorney from McAlester is accused of doing for eight years, having employees pose as charity workers to contact victims of traffic accidents.

So it’s probably a good idea for her to get out of this racket. But her next step makes little sense:

The attorney, Amy Elizabeth Harrison, 42, decided in February to resign from the practice of law rather than fight the accusations further before the Oklahoma Supreme Court. She has been an attorney since 1999.

She plans to become a minister, her attorney, Carl Hughes, said.

She always has been “really religious” but turned to God even more after her son was shot in a hunting accident in December, Hughes said.

Let’s see. Which one of the Commandments says “Thou shalt pursue every easy mark thou dost see?”

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It’s only a referendum

“This is the state’s admission that they’re locking up a hell of a lot more people than they probably need to be, and reclassifying some of the druggies, at least, might clear up some of the logjam in the corrections system.”yours truly, giving tepid support, but support nonetheless, to State Question 780 last fall.

SQ 780 passed. What’s in it:

State Question 780, which Oklahoma voters overwhelming[ly] adopted in November, made simple possession of any drug a misdemeanor no matter how many times the person has been convicted of the same crime. The change also repealed enhancements, which prosecutors could use to increase punishments to the felony level. That means anyone caught with drugs on or near a school would face only a misdemeanor charge. The new drug laws go into effect July 1.

Apparently some people are not happy with that, and by “people” I mean “politicians”:

House Bill 1482 allows prosecutors to charge a suspect with a felony if they’re caught with drugs within 1,000 feet of school property. It also allows the enhanced charge for possession in the presence of a child under 12 years old.

“This law exists for children and children only. It’s wrong to say this is what the people of Oklahoma chose when we didn’t allow them to vote on it,” said state Rep. Tim Downing, R-Purcell. “I don’t know what the Senate will do. I don’t know what the governor will do. But I want you to search and say, what should I do for the kids, and what should I do for the schools?”

“This is a War on Drugs, goddamnit. We can’t give up now!”

I hate to break it to you, Timbo, but you lost this one many years ago. And over those years and several more, we’ve been given ample cause to be suspicious of legislation undertaken “for the children.”

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Pattern possibly detected

TLO’s Patrick is all over it:

[Friday] HB 1472 passed unanimously out of a House Judiciary committee.

Introduced by piano tuner turned fun-hating, freedom-loving State Rep. Travis Dunlap [R-Bartlesville], it would require digital service providers to block the transmission of “obscene material” a.k.a. porn) by request. Additionally, service providers will have to notify consumers a in a “conspicuous manner” that they can request to have obscene material blocked.

There’s no reason to think that Travis Dunlap’s concept of smut is any more refined than, say, Potter Stewart’s, but there’s something else you should know about this guy:

[T]his would probably be a convenient time to mention that Dunlap is the same guy who introduced HB 1277. Named the “Fairness in Fault Act,” it would make it more difficult for individuals to seek a divorce on grounds of “incompatibility.” Think about that for a second? Dunlap’s introduced laws that could block his ability to watch Internet porn and make it more difficult for his wife to leave him. Yikes. Is he trying to tell us something here?

Nothing you couldn’t figure out on your own, I’m pretty sure.

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Small pox upon thee

The “Sooner Tea Party,” as accurate in its name as the Holy Roman Empire was in its, apparently has been circulating noxious stuff like this Yellow Peril poster:

Anti-vaccine poster attacking Senator Ervin Yen

Dr. Yen represents Senate District 40, which means he represents me. For some reason, I didn’t receive one of these noxious little crap-o-grams; I snatched this photo from journalist Madi Alexander. Steve Lackmeyer at the Oklahoman remembered:

The shitgibbon in question served no time and paid a small fine. The state lawmaker on the receiving end of his wrath was Cliff Branan, who at the time represented, um, Senate District 40. And anyway, the conviction was subsequently overturned on free-speech grounds, which is just as well: noxious speech needs protection every bit as much as the innocuous stuff. Maybe more. Either way, it doesn’t make the guy any less of a shitgibbon.

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Wind unwound?

The Big Breezy wasn’t all that breezy last year, reports Oklahoman Real Estate Editor Richard Mize:

At first glance, it’s hard to believe Oklahoma City didn’t make CoreLogic’s annual Windy City Index for 2016, neither by top wind speed nor number of wind events. That’s partly because tornadoes don’t count as wind events. So even the couple of little tornadoes that did hit last year wouldn’t have changed the rankings.

Now I want to yell at the weather forecasters with their tornado suits on: “You call that a wind event?

So who tops the index? Nashville, Tennessee:

The windiest city in the U.S. in 2016 was Nashville, according to a yearly analysis of weather data from CoreLogic, a research and consulting firm.

The city came in first among the nation’s largest 279 metro areas, CoreLogic said. The ranking takes into account both the number of strong wind events as well as the total force caused by any severe wind gusts of 60 mph or more.

Nashville had 21 wind-related events in 2016 and a maximum wind speed of 72 mph. It was followed by Reno, Jackson, Miss., Cincinnati and Columbia, S.C., as the USA’s windiest cities last year, according to CoreLogic.

If these places seem awfully close to one another, there’s a reason for that:

All of the USA’s highest wind speeds in 2016 were recorded during Hurricane Matthew’s rampage up the East Coast, with the highest being 101 mph, which was recorded at Kennedy Space Center on Oct. 6.

And if you’re asking why CoreLogic cares, Mize can tell you:

CoreLogic, a financial and property data firm based in Irvine, California — with its Weather Verification Services arm in Norman — collects and [analyzes] this data to provide to the insurance industry. One-fourth of all claims are for wind damage, CoreLogic says.

We may take heart in the fact that Chicago, the Windy City of legend, didn’t place either.

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One last laurel

Twenty-four times a year, The Oklahoma Observer would blast into one’s mailbox, with laurels when the situation permitted and darts when someone messed up. This was the way of Forrest J. “Frosty” Troy, who edited the Observer for decades — his wife Helen, whom he considered the brains of the operation, was the publisher — and who finally retired in 2006, once he found a kindred spirit (Arnold Hamilton) to take it over.

Reliably liberal in the last-century sense, Frosty was occasionally predictable, but every now and then he’d throw the readers (typically about 7,000 circulation) a curve, and it would almost always turn out that he was way ahead of that curve.

The one person I had hoped would have something to say on Frosty’s death at 83 was one-time Oklahoman editorial writer and current City Sentinel wheel Patrick McGuigan, and Pat did not let me down:

After he stopped coming to the Capitol, members of the House and Senate staff would stop by the press room to ask if I knew how he was doing. I told them what I knew through friends. Frosty moved into a home for those afflicted with memory loss. For awhile, he and the legendary Paul English — each of them scourges of politicians in both parties — were roommates. That seemed appropriate, somehow.

Like my parents of blessed memory, Frosty made the prayer list in the weekly bulletin at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. He was still on the list distributed last Sunday.

Some people hated Frosty. Once upon a time, I guess I did.

But I came to love him. Those are the right words. The guy who had denounced many of my writings and policy preferences — and the reporter who gave you-know-what to every governor in my lifetime — emerged, in the actual knowing, as a man much like myself.

He was in love with Oklahoma and in love with words. He possessed a healthy combination of optimism and pessimism.

Which latter, I think, comes from living here long enough. And just for the record, when I put together a brief sendoff for Midwest City founder and Oklahoma Journal publisher W. P. Bill Atkinson, it was Frosty Troy who helped me with the details, some of which I’m reasonably certain no one else would know, or would admit to.

(Paul English, long-time Capitol reporter for the Oklahoman, died last spring.)

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More mud pie, sir?

Newspaper clipping about Ryan DirteaterIn the Oklahoman’s seemingly interminable notes of everything conceivably connected to last night’s OKC Thunder/Memphis Grizzlies game, I found this little squib without the least bit of snark, which tells me that this is no laughing matter:

Seldom does a day pass when bull rider Ryan Dirteater isn’t asked if that’s his real last name.

“They think it’s fake,” he said. “It’s ironic that I’m a bull rider. You don’t want to eat dirt. But it is my real last name. I grew up with it.”

Dirteater might be a cool last name for a cowboy, but it was ripe for getting picked on when the Oklahoma native was a boy.

“I’ve heard it since I was a kid growing up, especially in high school,” said Dirteater, [27]. “Some of them made fun of my name back then, and now most of them want my autograph.”

The best revenge, as the phrase goes. To which I say: “See what the gentleman is drinking.”

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You can’t beat the spread

“The most perverse weather this side of Baffin Bay,” I said about two decades ago.

An example from earlier today:

Where I live, specifically: 6.

Comments off

On Scott Pruitt

Some folks seem alarmed that Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, Donald Trump’s choice to head the Environmental Protection Agency, has actually spent a fair amount of time fighting the EPA, and the Usual Suspects are quite aware of that:

Grunwald writes for Politico, so undoubtedly he’s suffering some amount of butthurt these days, but there’s nothing extreme or even really remarkable about his observation: it’s been replicated in some form or other all across the Left.

On the other hand, there have been times when I wondered if the Agency hadn’t given up on actual environmental protection in favor of politicized environmental protection, in which all decisions are made to support The Narrative at the expense of everything else:

A major water infrastructure bill introduced Monday by the Republican leadership would put states back in charge of enforcing one of the Environmental Protection Agency’s costly coal rules, while making sure the agency pays for the damage it caused states during last year’s toxic waste water spill in Colorado.

The new Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation bill includes pending water resources and water waste bills, as well as significant tribal and natural resources legislation, and other important measures to improve the nation’s infrastructure, according to a fact sheet.

“Fact sheets” are, well, not always factual, though dissembling was and is a bipartisan activity of the worst kind. Then again, EPA hasn’t exactly rushed to take care of that toxic waste, have they? If Pruitt’s mission is to strangle EPA in its crib, as Betsy DeVos is supposed to be dismantling the Department of Education — well, think how much we’ll save in the long run if the states resume control of functions that Washington was never Constitutionally authorized to perform.

Of course, some states are in better shape than others. I’m thinking back to January:

Attorney General Scott Pruitt sent a letter Monday to Gov. Mary Fallin and legislative leaders, asking that about $6 million in state appropriations for his office be withheld in the next budget in view of financial problems affecting the state.

A hole of about $900 million is expected in the next state budget as revenues have fallen because of a downturn in the oil industry.

And hey, you can’t have things like agency heads asking for budget cuts. It’s un-American, for certain spendthrift values of “American.”

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Not a clean getaway

Florida has its own Fark tag. We don’t. But it looks like we’re working on it:

A Connerville man got caught taking a bath in someone else’s home [Thursday] evening, after running from police while in handcuffs.

Shortly after 5 p.m., 35-year-old Justin Pollock was pulled over for speeding on State Highway 99 in Connerville.

An Oklahoma highway patrolman found marijuana, put him in handcuffs, and put him in the front of the trooper’s car. But while the trooper was searching Pollock’s van, Pollock maneuvered the cuffs to the front and got out, before running to his van and driving off.

He abandoned his car in some trees of a close by parking lot, and was found in a home around 6.

Charges, of course, were filed:

He has been charged with felony drug possession, felony evading arrest, escape and burglary.

At least he didn’t stink at the time.

(With thanks to Fillyjonk.)

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Leave it blank

An Oklahoman editorial from yesterday:

Trump’s victory in Oklahoma was among the most lopsided in all 50 states. Yet he achieved that domination while attracting fewer Oklahoma voters than [George W.] Bush or McCain. Perhaps Trump did draw new voters out of the woodwork in Oklahoma. But if so, it seems he may have also prompted some traditional GOP voters to sit this election out.

The #NeverTrump hashtag bunch perhaps saw that it had no place to go; independent Evan McMullin wasn’t on the ballot and couldn’t be put there. (We have no provision for write-ins.)

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A bit of the ultra-violets

I’ve long characterized my neck of the woods as neither fully red nor blue, but somewhere in between. This year’s precinct numbers suggest it’s getting slightly bluer:

President: Hillary Clinton (D) 687, Donald Trump (R) 519, Gary Johnson (L) 137.

Senate: James Lankford (R) 624, Mike Workman (D) 559, Robert Murphy (L) 69; independents 102.

Congress: Al McAffrey (D) 658, Steve Russell (R) 586, Zachary Knight (L) 97.

HD87: Collin Walke (D) 715, Bruce Lee Smith (R) 506, Elle Collins (L) 117.

Only one state question garnered 1000 Yes votes: 780, the simplification of drug penalties.

Previous red/blue balances: 2012; 2010.

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And the earth tries to swallow once more

Five point three.

If that magnitude holds up, it will be the fourth largest earthquake in state history.

That in itself is sort of newsy, but this is worse. Adam Wilmoth reports energy stuff for the Oklahoman:

I mean, we’re talking pipelines in every direction except straight up.

The sensation was weird: I heard what I thought was wind over the back fence, and the rumble moved forward, clearing the house in about 35 seconds. No damage here that I can tell, but then I’m pretty far away.

Update, 8:40 pm: Downgraded to 5.0. Now #5 on the all-time list.

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Is we edumacated good?

A letter to the Oklahoman starts off reasonably and then shoots itself in the foot at the end:

Remember House Bill 1017? Wagering on horse racing? Liquor by the drink? Lottery? All these things were supposed to provide more money for the schools. In addition, 78 percent of our property tax goes to the schools. Irresponsible spending needs to be reined in. Those in power continue to resist school consolidation. Anyone who lives on a budget could tell them that if superintendents were reduced to one per county (with an assistant in the larger counties), there would be money to pay teachers a raise without having to tax the people again. I ask, respectfully and without malice, why classroom teachers are so quiet on the subject when the solutions seem so obvious?

Perhaps they figure that consolidating a dozen school districts into one will cost more than just administrative jobs.

Then the argument goes off the rails:

Here in Krebs-McAlester, we are taxed at 10 percent. The raise would put us at 11 percent. For every $100 we have to spend for groceries, it will cost us an additional $11. There are many who are finding it difficult already. There must be another path to helping the classroom teachers without causing more hardship to low-income people.

Sales tax in Krebs is indeed 10 percent: 4.5 state, 4.0 city, 1.5 Pittsburg County. The tax on $100 worth of groceries is therefore $10. Increasing the tax rate to 11 percent will mean that the tax on $100 worth of groceries will be, um, $11. This is an additional dollar, not “an additional $11.”

If this is the prevailing arithmetic out there, no wonder many are finding it difficult.

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We were warned

Two Sundays ago, there was an email from the Oklahoman apologizing for late delivery: “You may be aware that as of Monday our production and manufacturing of the newspaper is now being completed in Tulsa.”

Inevitably, this additional hour or so of processing time — I assume the content is delivered to Tulsa electronically, but the actual papers have to come back down the Turner Turnpike — leads to this sort of thing:

Editor's note from the Oklahoman 10-22-16

So this might have been predictable:

And likewise this, the following morning:

But hey, they saved some money, so it’s all good.

Oh, OU beat Texas Tech, 66-59, which sounds for all the world like a basketball score.

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Propositions put forth

In addition to the stuff I expected in the absentee-ballot package, I found a yellow sheet: bonds. School bonds. Oklahoma City Public Schools wants to borrow some serious cash:

  • $106,340,000: “acquiring or improving school sites, constructing, repairing, remodeling and equipping school buildings, and acquiring school furniture, fixtures and equipment.”
  • $54,460,000: “acquiring or improving school sites, constructing, repairing, remodeling and equipping school buildings, and acquiring school furniture, fixtures and equipment.” My guess is that this one is the fallback position: “if we can’t have a hundred million, can we at least have fifty?”
  • $19,200,000: “acquiring transportation equipment.”

For what it’s worth, OKCPS is growing rather speedily of late: long the second-largest district in the state, they passed first-place Tulsa several years ago. And the district has been frank about its problems:

“In addition to our current $30-million dollar budget shortfall, we have dire basic needs throughout the district,” said OKCPS Superintendent Aurora Lora. “Our air conditioning deficiencies in schools have been well documented the past few weeks; an aging bus fleet continues to be a major financial burden, and most of our students don’t have modern classroom technology.”

In typical Oklahoma practice, these bonds will fill in a space vacated by bonds from many years ago, now retired; this enables the claim that no actual tax increase is involved. Last year, OKCPS received about 52 percent of the tax on the palatial estate at Surlywood.

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The A word

That word is “affordable,” and as usual, it doesn’t mean what everyone was taught it meant:

Health insurance premiums will likely increase by an average of 76 percent for Oklahomans who buy individual coverage through the Affordable Care Act’s marketplace. The increases for individual market plans range from 58 percent to 96 percent.

“These jaw-dropping increases make it clear that Oklahoma’s exchange is on life support,” said Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John D. Doak. “Health insurers are losing massive amounts of money. If they don’t raise rates they’ll go out of business. This system has been doomed from the beginning.”

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Oklahoma, the only health insurer offering plans on the federal exchange in 2017, submitted the increases to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). CMS will determine if the increases are reasonable. The increase requests follow many insurers reporting significant losses, lower than expected enrollment by the younger population and new customers being sicker than expected. ACA-compliant off-exchange individual plans sold by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Oklahoma will see the same increases as plans sold on the exchange.

UnitedHealthcare, which was on the exchange last year, has withdrawn.

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Fobbed off

Kimberly Fobbs, you might infer from her yard signs, is running for Senate District 33:

Kimberly Fobbes yard sign, photo by Jameson Faught

“Republicans” being the third-largest word on the sign, you might think Fobbs is a member of the GOP. She isn’t; she’s the Democratic challenger to Republican incumbent Nathan Dahm.

Jamison Faught explains why this is happening:

In the 6th most Republican district (59.29% Republican to 27.82% Democrat), it’s not surprised that Democrats would try this.

In an era where a Democrat can actually win the Republican presidential nomination, I’m surprised we’ve seen so little of this sort of thing.

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Your 2016 State Questions

I can stand two of them, maybe. The other five, I want nothing to do with.

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