Archive for Soonerland

Out from behind the desk

Earlier this month, a brief (1:15) video surfaced, featuring Tulsa news reporter Lori Fullbright mostly from here down, and scores of shoes she’s worn over her many years in T-Town media. The Lost Ogle happened upon it, and, as TLO will do, made fun of it. And it was, I think, a bit on the silly side.

The video, posted to Vimeo, was gone by the following morning, but its deletion apparently wasn’t because TLO had made anyone uncomfortable. Fullbright herself sent a note to the site:

Just so you know, News on 6 did not create or release that shoe video as a promotional tool.

I was asked to emcee the Pinnacle Awards/Women of the Year banquet and those putting on the event, the YWCA Tulsa and the Mayor’s Commission on the status of Women, asked me to create a fun video that was light hearted to show at the event. They suggested something to do with the shoes I wear and sometimes post, as a break from all the serious, tragic and heartbreaking news I cover on a daily basis on the crime beat. Our team created that video at the request of those agencies to show at their fundraising event, which it did, last Friday night. It was not something that aired on News on 6 or was put out there to market me to a larger audience in any way. I take my role as a journalist seriously and believe my reputation for excellence, fighting for victims and teaching people how to stay safe from crime speaks for itself.

“Light hearted?” Were it any lighter, it would be approaching escape velocity.

That said, there is precedent for this sort of thing. Jeanine Pirro, host of Judge Jeanine on Fox News, often posts shoefies to Twitter and Instagram before the show airs, and I suspect she has a higher wardrobe budget than anyone on Tulsa television.

And that said, whoever picks out Fullbright’s shoes is at least charmingly eccentric, though I did actually like these, courtesy of that now-deleted video:

Lori Fullbright's metallic T-strap sandals

The delta between these shoes and “wretched excess” is vanishingly small, but this is one of those cases in which I don’t care.

Comments




Quote of the week

The billion-dollar hole in the state budget has brought out the usual “No! No! Cut THEM!” calls from various state agencies and their clients. No shortage looms larger than the one presented to the state education system, but as the Friar notes, the solution is not exactly cut and dried:

The problems with salaries and school funding are real: Our teachers are not paid what they should be, nor are our schools funded at the level they should be.

The problems with the revenue stream are real: The tax cut was an iffy idea at best considering how hard it would be to go back to the higher rate when need arose. And it made no sense whatsoever to tie the triggers to projected future income instead of to past or current income or to an average of them over several years.

But the problems with a 19th century educational system are real too. It’s organized for an agrarian culture without the ability to artificially cool buildings during summer. Its funding and governing structures assume myriad small populations near to but mostly isolated from each other by slow travel. Its methods and instruction principles have as much to do with the Procrustean production of two-legged voting and tax-paying citizen widgets as they do with educating students for their own growth and flourishing as thinking human beings. That many teachers manage to bring about 21st century people testifies to their ability to work in spite of the system that employs them, not because of it.

Being hopeful, alas, is not part of the mix:

I also fear that if the state somehow manages to find a Peter with a wallet fat enough to let Paul boost teacher salaries and per-pupil expenditures from their rank in the high 40s to the low 40s or even high 30s, the people who can make that change happen will smile and wave and say they’ve handled things and la-la-la-la their way long enough that when the problem reappears they’ll be sipping retirement coffee and shaking their heads at what the world is coming to and why their barista can’t make change.

I am generally inclined to dismiss rankings: no two states have exactly the same circumstances, and the Wobegon Factor, which afflicts too many of us, demands that everyone be above average, because fairness. But at headline level, only one metric seems to matter.

Comments (1)




Half-chewed bullet

The Attorney General offers to take one for the state, kinda sorta:

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.

Asking for a decrease in the budget? Unpossible!

But that’s not quite the whole picture:

The current fiscal year appropriation to the attorney general’s office is more than $13 million, but the office’s overall budget exceeds $40 million when federal grants, revolving funds, case settlements and legal counsel contracts are considered.

The money Pruitt asked to be withheld represents operations expenditures. This year, operations funds totaled $6.4 million in his budget.

“We’re able to absorb the loss of that appropriations through cost savings in the office,” said Aaron Cooper, a spokesman for Pruitt. He said no salaries would be cut.

The fun part of this, apart from the spectacle of an actual state official asking for less funding, something you don’t see too often, is imagining Mary Fallin’s reaction. I mean, what’s she gonna do, turn Pruitt down?

Note: This was in the Tuesday Oklahoman, page 3A, but I couldn’t find it on NewsOK, and while I am a subscriber and can get through the Oklahoman paywall, you probably aren’t.

Comments (6)




Rickety curriculum

Regular as clockwork come the newest examples of unintelligent design:

The first state bills of the year that would interfere with science education have appeared in Oklahoma. There, both the House and Senate have seen bills that would prevent school officials and administrators from disciplining any teachers who introduce spurious information to science classes.

These bills have a long history, dating back to around the time when teaching intelligent design was determined to be an unconstitutional imposition of religion. A recent study showed that you could take the text of the bills and build an evolutionary tree that traces their modifications over the last decade. The latest two fit the patterns nicely.

The Senate version of the bill [pdf] is by State Senator Josh Brecheen, a Republican. It is the fifth year in a row he’s introduced a science education bill after announcing he wanted “every publicly funded Oklahoma school to teach the debate of creation vs. evolution.” This year’s version omits any mention of specific areas of science that could be controversial. Instead, it simply prohibits any educational official from blocking a teacher who wanted to discuss the “strengths and weaknesses” of scientific theories.

We are on record as describing Senator Brecheen as “not the sharpest tool in the shed.”

Meanwhile, in that Other Chamber:

The one introduced in the Oklahoma House [pdf] is more traditional. Billed as a “Scientific Education and Academic Freedom Act” (because freedom!), it spells out a whole host of areas of science its author doesn’t like:

“The Legislature further finds that the teaching of some scientific concepts including but not limited to premises in the areas of biology, chemistry, meteorology, bioethics, and physics can cause controversy, and that some teachers may be unsure of the expectations concerning how they should present information on some subjects such as, but not limited to, biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming, and human cloning.”

Do I really have to tell you who came up with this bill? No, you were right the first time, it’s Sally Kern. This is her fourth such bill. And really, “human cloning”? I can see a debate over “global warming,” inasmuch as the temperature of the globe isn’t exactly fixed and never has been, but what’s with the Clonus Horror?

If these two knuckleheads want to do the schools a favor, let them craft a measure to tell the US Department of Education to go fart up a flagpole, and then fill the existing funding holes, already fairly deep, with local money and local control.

Comments (2)




Only a light possibility

You can’t pass a bill without introducing it, and Rep. Harold Wright (R-Weatherford) has prefiled this for the 2016 session:

A. The standard time in Oklahoma shall be known as Central Standard Time.

B. This section shall not be construed to affect the standard time established by United States law governing the movements of common carriers engaged in interstate commerce or the time for
performance of an act by an officer or department of the United States, as established by a statute, lawful order, rule or regulation of the United States or an agency hereof.

C. As authorized by the Uniform Time Act of 1966 as amended and notwithstanding any other provisions of law to the contrary by the United States government relating to adoption of daylight saving time by all of the states, the State of Oklahoma elects to reject such time and elects to continue in force the terms of subsection A of this section relating to standard time in Oklahoma.

If passed, this measure would become effective on the first of November, five days before DST ends for this year.

Comments (3)




The relocated malcontent

In fact, the Local Malcontent may already be moving:

[We] have sold our home in Yanush to a lovely, young, immigrant Muslim couple from Qatar and Pakistan, and we two+ are going to move into a newer, larger home in LeFlore County, Ok.

Effective late January.

So I will be away for awhile, until AT&T U=verse connects us to the InterWebSuperHighway — they claim it will be on February 2 … but they wouldn’t say which year.

(Emphasis added.)

The community of Yanush isn’t big enough to be mentioned in Wikipedia, though it does have a Facebook page.

Comments (3)




This might be stretching it a bit

Lynn looks inside Spanx and finds a silver lining of sorts:

In 2010, an Oklahoma woman wore Spanx over her head while she robbed a McDonald’s. Oh that is so Oklahoma. I don’t know whether to be proud or ashamed. Robbery is definitely not cool but it goes to show that we could come up with better uses for Spanx. It could be up there with duct tape and WD-40 in the Stuff With 1001 Uses category.

I dunno if you could come up with a thousand and one, but even just one — other than “medieval torture device,” that is — might be worth the effort.

Comments (2)




So basically, just another year

“The most perverse weather this side of Baffin Bay,” I once said, and the year just completed gave me no reason to change my mind:

I don’t actually think in millibars, so I did the conversion to mercury: 31.05 inches. Now that’s some serious pressure.

And about that dew point in Webbers Falls:

Those accustomed to continental climates often begin to feel uncomfortable when the dew point reaches between 15 and 20 °C (59 and 68 °F). Most inhabitants of these areas will consider dew points above 21 °C (70 °F) oppressive.

So I imagine 83 °F was probably excruciating. (I can’t remember personally experiencing anything much over 79.)

If there’s any comfort to be found on this map, it’s that none of those extremes came within fifty miles of me. Then again, through Christmas Day, we were on pace in Oklahoma City for the second-warmest December on record, behind only the fluky 48.7 degrees of 1965. (For warmenists: nine of the top ten are before 1965.) Then the snow and the rain and several days of cloud cover, and the best we could do was a tie for fifth at 45.3. I did manage to be present for three of the coldest Decembers, including the heinous 1983, a feeble 25.3 degrees for the month. (The coldest days around here, statistically, are in early January, at an average of 38.7 or thereabouts, though the coldest day EVAH was 12 February 1899, at a Dakota-esque 17 below.)

Comments (2)




And then it was gone

We all waited impatiently for the return of Blue Bell Ice Cream after the Great Listeria Scare. And now that it’s (mostly) back — a few flavors at a time — a local supermarket chain is, for the moment, dropping the line for “unfair pricing.”

This isn’t the first time Crest Foods told a food producer to take their product and shove it, either:

A few weeks back, Nick Harroz’ Crest Foods in central Oklahoma posted a notice beside the pasta-sauce shelf to the effect that they would no longer be stocking the Classico and Ragú brands, owing to large price increases by Unilever, owner of those brands, which the store did not wish to pass on to shoppers. It’s easy enough to be cynical about this sort of thing, but Harroz has done this before, and almost invariably he’s gotten his way, or a reasonable fraction thereof, which is how he manages to keep his prices around the Walmart level without going all, well, Walmartish on us: he’ll take on anyone up to and including mighty Coca-Cola.

Harroz died last year at 94, but it’s pretty clear that the store plans to follow his plan. And this, too, shall pass, once Blue Bell gives in — which they almost certainly will.

Comments




They’ve had it up to there

The Illinois River — no, not the one that flows through Illinois — looked something like this yesterday:

At the time, the river was up over 30 feet, a place it’s never before been in recorded history (which is probably 125 years or so).

Another view:

Flood stage at this station is a mere eleven feet. The river might recede to that point before this weekend, if there isn’t any more rain; last I looked, it was down to about 21 feet.

Comments (3)




Around the Edge

NOW 92.9, née NOW 96.5, is now THEN 0.0; Tyler, having failed to make any headway with a CHR-ish format against iHeartMedia’s KJYO (KJ103), has reworked this translator into The Edge 92.9, billed as OKC’s Rock Alternative. As before, it’s a side-channel of a big station — KOMA-HD2 — running 200 watts, which isn’t enough to reach the entire metro, though you can always spend a few bucks for an HD Radio receiver, as have at least ten other people in this town, or pick up their audio stream.

KOMA-HD3, in case you were curious, is the Classic Hip-Hop outlet at 103.1, known as V103; I find it amusing that three stations image with 103 in this town, starting with KJ103, which is actually at 102.7; Perry’s KVSP, long the urban (read: “black”) station in town, continues to be “Power 103.5.”

Comments (2)




Stirring the alphabet soup

A couple of new programs coming to UCO:

Students at the University of Central Oklahoma will return to campus in January to find two new programs designed to supplement gender and sexuality studies on campus.

The Women’s Research Center will focus on the research, study, scholarly and activity programming that supports and supplements the intellectual growth and social development of women while the BGLTQ+ Student Center will supplement activities that enhance the campus and community life of bisexual, gay, lesbian, transgender and queer students. The “+” represents letters not listed including questioning, intersexual, asexual and allies.

I admit to being slightly baffled by this string of initials: it’s not that I object to the subject matter or to the inclusion of all the variants, but I’d never seen them in that particular order before. (Harvard arranges them that way, minus the plus sign for now, but several pages of Bing results yielded up no other BGLTQ.)

Comments (5)




No one will be watching us

Why don’t we do it back of chambers after the meeting?

Three Okemah City Council members have now found themselves at the center of criminal charges after allegedly violating the state’s Open Meeting Act.

Arrest warrants were issued on Monday, Nov. 30, for Lloyd L. Raimer, Wayne J. Bacon and Bobby G. Massey. All present city council members. According to court papers filed by the district attorney’s office, the Open Meeting Act violation occurred following a June 22, 2015 council meeting. Michael Dean, an agent with Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigations, began investigating the allegations after the OSBI was requested by Okfuskee County District Attorney Max Cook.

According to the probable cause affidavit, after the June 22 meeting had adjourned, Bacon, Massey and Raimer went to the back of the council chambers and began to discuss city business with other individuals. Court records claim, “The [city] business discussed by Raimer was reference the hiring of an individual for lake patrol. Raimer discussed it was not right to hire the individual because the person was already employed by the city as fire chief and code enforcement.” The affidavit continues, “Raimer knew Massey and Bacon were present but didn’t know what, if any, discussion they had reference this subject.”

This is not the first time Okemah City Council has run afoul of the Act, either:

Nearly four years ago, the Okemah City Council was criticized for appointing a new member in an apparent violation of the Open Meeting Act because the action wasn’t listed on the meeting agenda. After questions were raised about the appointment, that councilman resigned and the council sought applications for a replacement.

None of the current Council members under fire were part of that earlier kerfuffle.

Comments (1)




Donkey in the back seat

Copper in the front seat. This picture went viral about as quickly as it’s possible to go viral:

(Background, in case you missed it.)

Across town, the Oklahoma Daily, the OU student newspaper, covered it this way:

Well, um, no, I suppose not.

Comments (3)




That long, slow slide

Just to the west, in the town of Mustang:

After a sizzling 42°F yesterday, there’s no ice left; most of what remains turns out to be the remains of destroyed Bradford pear (Pyrus calleryana) trees.

Comments (4)




No shortage of nerve

Surviving Oklahoma City bomber Terry Nichols — partner in crime Timothy McVeigh was executed in 2001 — would like his guns back, please:

Domestic terrorist Terry Nichols wants more than a dozen guns seized in the investigation of the Oklahoma City bombing returned.

He says they had nothing to do with the bombing, and he wants his family to have them for the money the weapons are worth.

From his maximum security prison cell in Colorado, Nichols said he wants 13 guns in that currently are in federal custody, including handguns, rifles and a shotgun, to be turned over to one of his two ex-wives or to his sister.

The Feds, of course, disagree:

Federal authorities say the guns should not be released from FBI custody because someone might use them in a copycat crime. Instead, the feds want to destroy the guns and give Nichols credit for their fair market value of $7,000.

Not that the credit would do him or his family much good:

It would go toward the $14.5 million he owes in restitution.

Yeah, that’ll help.

Comments (4)




Hey, small spender

Money, we are told, wins elections. I am always happy to see an instance where it didn’t:

Cyndi Munson easily became the first Democrat to represent Oklahoma City’s House District 85 in a half-century despite raising much less money than her opponent.

Campaign finance reports show Chip Carter, the Republican candidate, pulled in nearly $200,000 in campaign contributions and benefited from $100,000 in independent expenditures.

Munson raised less than $100,000 total, but beat Carter 2,640 to 2,268 Tuesday in a district where Republicans greatly outnumber Democrats.

Two things worked in her favor: she had name recognition in the district — she ran for this seat against David Dank in 2014 and lost — and there is, I think, a tendency among local Republicans to see victory as inevitable except in a handful of heavily Democratic districts. Even Chip Carter saw it coming:

“There was a degree of complacency or something. They thought it’s always been a Republican seat and will stay that way. And my opponent worked her tail off.”

For quite a while, it was a Dank seat: David Dank was the second Dank to represent 85, his wife Odilia being the first. (She was term-limited in 2006.) Both Danks are now deceased.

The GOP majority in the House is now 71-30.

Comments (1)




The wurst that could happen

Excuse me while I wince in pain for a moment, or several:

A woman was arrested after she allegedly tried to bite off her husband’s penis.

Chickasha Police made contact with husband and wife, Jesse and Merci Keene.

“[Merci] took Jesse to the ground and said she tried to bite his penis off,” the incident report said.

From Merci’s account of the incident, Jesse never hit her and only tried to defend himself, the report said.

What brought this on, anyway?

During the course of the investigation, it was discovered that Jesse was holding the couple’s minor daughter when Merci attacked him. According to the report, Merci confronted Jesse after she heard Jesse was allegedly leaving with their daughter.

Something must be missing here, because if Jesse was in a position to lose his sausage, he probably didn’t have his car keys handy, and how does the youngster fit into this scenario?

Result: two charges for unmerciful Merci, booked for domestic assault and battery in the presence of a minor.

Comments




Negative charge

There are plenty of people in the area served by Public Service Company of Oklahoma who don’t want those damn newfangled meters, and PSO plans to apply a little, um, persuasion:

PSO won approval from the commission in April to charge customers an extra $3.11 per month to install more than 520,000 smart meters throughout its service territory in eastern and southwestern Oklahoma.

The utility now wants the commission to approve a one-time charge of $183 and monthly fees of $28 for customers who wish to opt out of the smart meter program. The one-time charge would rise to $261 when PSO finishes the rollout of its smart meters.

An Oklahoman editorial says the fees are reasonably debatable. Some of the other objections, maybe not so much, according to one study:

[B]efore smart meters were installed, electrical distribution equipment was associated with residential fires in just 0.4 percent of cases. Following smart meter installation, that figure fell as low as 0.1 percent in 2012 and never went higher than 0.4 percent in subsequent years.

In comparison, cooking was the cause of residential fires in 29 percent of cases in 2011 and 2012, and 34.5 percent of cases in 2013 and 2014. Smoking was the culprit in approximately 17 percent of fires both before and after smart meter installation.

Heaven help you if you smoke while you’re cooking.

I have a smart meter, installed in early 2011. It seems to run up numbers just as fast as the old device with the dials and everything. My major concern — that it would interfere with WiFi in the household — has not materialized.

Comments




Climate your own risk

I have often said, only partly in jest, that we have a true nine-season climate. Not everyone accepts this premise at face value:

If we do, about seven of them are too hot in some shape or form. (To me, it feels more like we have four, but two of them — the two best ones, spring and fall — are very short: about 8 months of “way too hot,” a month of “nice” where it is cool and rains a little and if we’re lucky we see the leaves change, two months of freezing rain, and then another month of “nice” and flowers before it gets too darn hot again.)

Here in the Big Town, anyway, there are extended periods of “What, this again?” OKC thirty-year averages bottom out at 39 degrees or less for three weeks (26 December through 15 January), and there’s a whole month of 83-plus (12 July through 13 August). Keep in mind the typical 20-degree spread between high and low on any given day, and feel free to shudder.

Comments




Epitomized for your reading pleasure

This probably requires no introduction:

More details from KOTV Tulsa. Oktaha, in case you blinked and missed it, is about 14 miles south of Muskogee.

Comments (1)




The yellow ruse of “Tax us”

At any rate, that’s the vibe I pick up from this:

Well, let’s see. The state charges a uniform 4.5 percent. The city of McAlester collects 3.5 percent. And … hmmm. Pittsburg County, which was 1.0 percent, drops to 0.5 percent effective the first of October. What are they asking? The McAlester Chamber of Commerce was circulating this flyer:

Sales tax proposals in McAlester and Pittsburg County, Oklahoma

The measure passed yesterday will bump up the combined sales tax in Pittsburg County to 9.5 percent; should the October bill pass, the tax rate inside McAlester city limits will be 10.25 percent, putting it on par with Chicago but ahead of New York City.

Comments (2)




It’s all in the games

Say what you will about gamblers, their spending means money for the tribes and for the state:

Tribal gaming contributed $6.3 billion to Oklahoma’s economy in 2014, according to a new study commissioned by the Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association.

Tribes put 23,000 people to work at their casinos, the study said. Of those, about 60 percent were non-Indians. Women accounted for 54 percent overall.

What’s more:

Tribal gaming also indirectly supported another 14,000 jobs throughout the state, according to the study.

Wages for all of the directly and indirectly supported jobs totaled $1.8 billion.

The biggest of the bunch is the Chickasaw Nation’s WinStar casino in Thackerville, hard by the Red River, the better to attract Texans, who otherwise have slim pickings.

Comments (3)




A somewhat bigger tent

Last month, Oklahoma Democrats let it be known to all and sundry that they were considering backing away from the closed-primary system by allowing registered Independents to vote in their primaries.

Yesterday, the state convention approved the proposal, 314-137. I asked a local activist if she thought this would be a boon to the party. Said she: “I think it’s worth a try. Status quo not in Dem’s favor.” Which in this state is surely true: registrations are about even, but the Republicans hold almost all the offices.

The GOP, which has already had its annual meeting, has given no indication that it might do likewise, and party chair/loose cannon Randy Brogdon has already poo-poohed the idea once.

Comments (10)




Yeah, good luck with that

One of the candidates for House District 85 is sending out this flyer:

The seat was last won by David Dank, who campaigned to keep it in the family after wife Odilia ran up against term limits. (Mrs. Dank died in 2013; Mr. Dank died this past April.) A special election will be held this fall; four Republicans, including Mr. Jackson, will meet in a primary in July. (Only one Democrat, Cyndi Munson, filed for the seat.) District 85 is generally just north of me.

As for Senator Holt’s observation — aren’t we about to do Civil War II anyway?

(On the nullification idea itself, see Cooper v. Aaron.)

Comments (2)




Dam scary

One of the inevitable effects of nine months’ worth of rain in a couple of weeks:

Says the Corps:

This is a normal occurrence when flood waters are released from the reservoir via flood control gates.

But they also say this:

The vortex is approximately 8 feet in diameter and capable of sucking in a full-sized boat, so please heed all safety buoys and caution signs.

The Black Hole of Texoma!

Comments (4)




Flinging the door open

State Democrats are contemplating abandoning the closed-primary model:

Oklahoma’s 261,000 independent voters would be allowed to cast votes in Democratic primary elections under a proposal state party delegates are expected to support in a meeting next month.

The move is intended to show the party is inclusive of differing viewpoints and is aimed at boosting support for Democratic candidates in a state dominated by the GOP.

I’m not quite sure how this would work to the party’s advantage. Most of the people I know around here who are registered Independent did so because (1) the Democrats weren’t far enough to the left or (2) the Republicans aren’t far enough to the right. (Yes, Virginia, it is possible for Republicans to be even farther to the right, though I believe this is due to repositioning of the center.) Still, that’s more anecdote than data.

On balance, given the generally horrible way the state treats independent candidates, the widening of the Democratic tent might prove to be a good thing in the long run, provided the GOP doesn’t get the same idea, and I’m thinking they won’t:

Randy Brogdon, the tea party favorite who is chairman of the state Republican party, has no interest in allowing independents to participate in GOP primaries.

“A majority of the independents have come from the Republican party primarily because we haven’t done an excellent job of promoting Republican principles of limited government and lower taxes,” he said. “We want to give them a reason to come back.”

I’ll give Brogdon this: he’s right about the lack of excellence. And there’s an issue for the GOP at the national level as well:

Whereas the Democrat Party is run by people who actually share the same beliefs as the people who vote for the Democrat Party, the GOP is run by people who do not remotely give a fuck about GOP voters. Karl Rove hates Republican voters. All elite GOP operatives share a profound disdain for the party’s grassroots electoral base.

There’s one tent that won’t be expanding.

Comments (11)




Controlled chaos

If the mere thought of going to the Department of Motor Vehicles fills you with existential dread, you could always move here, where you’ll only have to do that sort of thing once. Maybe.

Comments (4)




Hey, it works in Nebraska

Gary Jones is pushing the notion of switching to a unicameral legislature:

The state auditor has a controversial plan to save millions of dollars by combining the Oklahoma House of Representatives and the Oklahoma Senate.

State Auditor Gary Jones says it may be time for a change.

“Just because we’ve done it that way doesn’t mean that’s the best way of doing it. If we believe in smaller, more efficient government, I think that government itself is what we need to look at,” Jones said.

Jones says each year, between offices, salaries and staff, the Oklahoma Senate alone costs the state between 15 and 20 million dollars.

This prompted some derision, mostly justified, from Patrick at The Lost Ogle:

I’ve asked Ogle Moles in the past why we have a bicameral legislature, and none of them really have a good answer. Even though it’s a dysfunctional mess, I can see why you’d want to have a Senate and House of Representatives for a Federal Government comprised of 50 states, but why does a state need one? It’s not like each county gets two state senators to balance out the population advantage of cities. Senate districts are determined by the same imaginary gerrymandered lines as the House of Representatives. It’s redundant. Right? Or am I totally wrong?

Well, no, he’s not totally wrong. As to those Senate districts, I refer you to a 2014 scheme specifically to abolish the Oklahoma House by Senator (of course) Patrick Anderson (R-Enid):

Anderson says he wants to save a few bucks, not the worst idea in the world, though it would have been nice if he’d said something about Reynolds v. Sims, in which the Supreme Court decided that legislative houses in the states had to be divided into equal population districts. (Before this 1964 decision, each county would have at least one House member, regardless of population.) In effect, this makes one chamber in each and every bicameral state legislature — all 49 of them — largely irrelevant. Then again, Reynolds was decided three years before Anderson was born, so it’s probably not uppermost in his mind.

And Patrick doesn’t think the Jones scheme has any future:

Obviously, our hypocritical small government state lawmakers want nothing to do with it, and I doubt the political parties want a unicameral legislature either, so this will need to be championed and passed by the people. Since the proposal has nothing to do with discriminating against gays or letting people bring guns to music festivals, I doubt anything will happen.

He’s probably not wrong about that either.

Comments (4)




Two bucks chucked

I am seldom happy to see something from the Oklahoma Tax Commission in the day’s mail, especially since the one thing I can expect from them in June — the card for this year’s vehicle registration — showed up promptly on the first.

I slit open the envelope. and there it was: the green debit MasterCard the state uses to dispense income-tax refunds. Well, okay, fine, but I wasn’t anticipating a tax refund; in fact, I sent them a check for a sum in three figures back in the spring.

Perplexed, I dialed up the inevitable 800 number and went through the entire activation sequence. Apparently on Monday the state decided to credit me with $2.00. I don’t know why; I didn’t make any computational errors on my return. The Tax Commission’s Web page was down yesterday for maintenance and supposedly hasn’t been modified since late May, so I’m betting a finger on some unsteady hand pressed the wrong button and sent out several thousand of these to unsuspecting taxpayers, and no one has figured it out yet.

In the meantime, I have $2 on this card. I think maybe I’ll buy a couple of non-current MP3s with it.

Update, 21 June: I spent it on this eight-minute track:

I’m thinking a companion piece to FGTH’s Two Tribes.

Comments