Archive for Soonerland

Sun tax error

Roger sent me this, and I imagine he was shaking his head as he read it:

Oklahoma residents who produce their own energy through solar panels or small wind turbines on their property will now be charged an additional fee, the result of a new bill passed by the state legislature and expected to be signed into law by Gov. Mary Fallin (R).

On Monday, S.B. 1456 passed the state House 83-5 after no debate. The measure creates a new class of customers: those who install distributed power generation systems like solar panels or small wind turbines on their property and sell the excess energy back to the grid. While those with systems already installed won’t be affected, the new class of customers will now be charged a monthly fee — a shift that happened quickly and caught many in the state off guard.

You can read the measure in its current form here. This is how I replied to Roger:

I admit to not knowing what Ann Griffin was up to when she wrote that bill. (Most Republicans in the OK Senate have at least decent ratings from the Sierra Club; Griffin rates a 93% on their scale.)

The bill provides for a surcharge limited to “that required to recover the full costs necessary to serve customers who install distributed generation on the customer side of the meter after the effective date of this act,” which date is the first of November. However, it also expects the utilities to determine the amount of those costs, and implement the appropriate tariffs by the end of 2015. Typically, a tariff has to be approved by the Corporation Commission, and they will generally open a period of public comment before issuing a decision. So this may not be the done-est of deals.

And I’m thinking that, once actually imposed, this fee will probably be on the same scale as what I pay to support the state’s first wind farm. Ten years ago, it was a buck and a quarter a month; revised tariffs make it a bit more variable, but my most recent electric bill, for $56.95, included a “net wind cost” of $3.39. I’m betting they ask for about twice that, and the Corp Comm will approve half of it, and everybody will pretend to be happy.

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Incumbency ho!

When people say they can’t stand the Legislature, what they really mean, often as not, is that they can’t stand your legislator; their legislator is just wonderful.

Which may explain why so many members of the Oklahoma legislature drew no opponents this fall. Half the Senate (24 of 48) and all of the House (101) must be picked, and these incumbents will be automagically returned to office:

  • S2: Morty L. Quinn (R) Claremore
  • S10: Eddie Fields (R) Wynona
  • S16: John Sparks (D) Norman
  • S24: Anthony Sykes (R) Moore
  • S30: David Holt (R) Oklahoma City
  • S34: Rick Brinkley (R) Owasso
  • S38: Mike Schulz (R) Altus
  • H2: John Bennett (R) Sallisaw
  • H4: Mike Brown (D) Fort Gibson
  • H8: Ben Sherrer (D) Chouteau
  • H11: Earl Sears (R) Bartlesville
  • H13: Jerry McPeak (D) Warner
  • H15: Ed Cannaday (D) Porum
  • H18: Donnie Condit (D) McAlester
  • H19: R. C. Pruett (D) Antlers
  • H21: Dustin Roberts (R) Durant
  • H22: Charles A. McCall (R) Atoka
  • H23: Terry O’Donnell (R) Catoosa
  • H24: Steve Koupien (D) Beggs
  • H25: Todd Thomsen (R) Ada
  • H30: Mark McCullough (R) Sapulpa
  • H33: Lee Denney (R) Cushing
  • H34: Cory T. Williams (D) Stillwater
  • H37: Steven E. Vaughan (R) Ponca City
  • H39: Marion Cooksey (R) Edmond
  • H42: Lisa J. Billy (R) Lindsay
  • H44: Emily Virgin (D) Norman
  • H47: Leslie Osborn (R) Mustang
  • H48: Pat Ownby (R) Ardmore
  • H50: Dennis Johnson (R) Duncan
  • H51: Scott R. Briggs (R) Chickasha
  • H52: Charles Ortega (R) Altus
  • H55: Todd Rush (R) Cordell
  • H57: Harold Wright (R) Weatherford
  • H58: Jeff Hickman (R) Fairview
  • H59: Mike Sanders (R) Kingfisher
  • H60: Dan Fisher (R) El Reno
  • H64: Ann Coudy (R) Lawton
  • H66: Jadine Nollan (R) Sand Springs
  • H67: Pam Peterson (R) Tulsa
  • H68: Glen Mulready (R) Tulsa
  • H70: Ken Walker (R) Tulsa
  • H71: Katie Henke (R) Tulsa
  • H72: Seneca Scott (D) Tulsa
  • H73: Kevin L. Matthews (D) Tulsa
  • H74: David Derby (R) Owasso
  • H75: Dan Kirby (R) Tulsa
  • H77: Eric Proctor (D) Tulsa
  • H78: Jeannie McDaniel (D) Tulsa
  • H80: Mike Ritze (R) Broken Arrow
  • H81: Randy Grau (R) Edmond
  • H84: Sally Kern (R) Oklahoma City
  • H90: Jon Echols (R) Oklahoma City
  • H92: Richard D. Morrissette (D) Oklahoma City
  • H94: Scott Inman (D) Oklahoma City

That’s 55 seats with no race, out of 125. For an angry electorate, we sure are complacent.

(A similar list from 2012.)

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Up is not given

From this very site, November 2012:

Last time we heard from former County Commissioner, occasional money-grubber and comic-book publisher Brent Rinehart, he was trying to ease his way back into public office.

Truly, the man is nothing if not persistent:

Former Oklahoma County Commissioner Brent Rinehart, who pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor campaign contribution violation in October 2009, filed Friday to run for the Oklahoma House.

Rinehart, a Republican, is seeking to replace Rep. Charlie Joyner, R-Midwest City.

I don’t live out that way, and I don’t have a problem with Joyner being primaried, particularly, but drawing Rinehart for an opponent — well, if Joyner has the normal complement of brain cells, he should be able to dispatch Rinehart with little difficulty.

(And yes, Rinehart can run despite his record: it’s a misdemeanor that did not involve embezzlement.)

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Some renaissance this is

The Friar drops in at Norman’s Medieval Faire, and spots a rolling anachronism:

A local TV station’s “storm chaser” truck and weather frou-frou display, because heaven knows we don’t have enough reminders that we’re entering storm season in Oklahoma and that if we watch some other channel we’re all going to die.

The least they could do is give the guy — they never seem to send the women for some reason — a proper broadsword.

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One impossible thing before breakfast

The state treasurer is requesting a budget cut — again:

For a second consecutive year, State Treasurer Ken Miller is asking the Legislature to cut appropriations for his office. And for the second year in a row, he is the only agency head to do so.

Miller said his request for a five-percent budget cut is made possible by focusing office operations on core treasury functions. He also requested and was granted a five-percent appropriations reduction last year.

Staff inflation? Not here:

Prior to the last recession, the treasurer’s office had 72 employees working in three locations in Oklahoma City, including two leased offices. Now the staff is 40 percent smaller and all treasury employees work in one location in the State Capitol Building after closing external offices.

If everybody got a 5-percent budget cut — but forget it. Just under 100 percent of all agency heads will tell you with a straight face that cutting spending at a time like this is immoral.

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Just below bronze

Insurance Commissioner John Doak’s Friday announcement, complete with vaguely petulant grumble:

Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John D. Doak announced Friday that health insurers may continue to renew policies not meeting Affordable Care Act (ACA) requirements through 2016.

“The continued twists and turns related to Obamacare confuses consumers and frustrates businesses,” said Doak. “The extension is not a universal remedy for concerns about access and affordability. This change won’t prevent price increases, nor will it ensure that provider networks will stay the same for the next two years. We have decided to leave the renewal decision up to the insurers because of the difficulty they face in trying to adapt to these constantly changing market rules, which I’m sure we haven’t seen the end of.”

Not before January 2017, anyway.

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Rather expansive

A little over a decade ago, before I moved into the palatial estate at Surlywood, I lived in a two-bedroom apartment of approximately 925 square feet: it wasn’t huge, but it was enough for my modest needs and maybe a little extra.

I can’t, however, get my mind around the idea of living in a space a hundred times as large:

There are plans to build the country’s largest single family residence in northeast Edmond.

Last year, the Edmond Planning Commission was asked to give approval to a mega mansion on the northwest corner of Sorghum Mill Road and Westminster Road.

“It’s truly a castle,” says Bob Schiermeyer, who saw the first renderings late last year and tells News 9 the plans call for a drawbridge and spires that reach 90 feet.

Schiermeyer says original plans called for a home that was around 75,000 square feet, but the home’s architect says the home has now grown to 92,650 square feet. That architect says, if completed, the castle home will be the largest single family residence in the U.S.

The owner of this Disney-From-Hell place — which will not, I suspect, be on the Architecture Tour anytime soon — made his bazillions off a buy-here-pay-here used-car operation.

And anyway, “largest” is highly arguable: the Biltmore House in Asheville, North Carolina (see my World Tour ’07 report) checks in at 178,926 square feet, though it’s more museum than actual living space these days.

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I’ll tell you what you can do with your damn sauce

BBQ sauce to cure hemorrhoids?

(Another scary-but-funny clipping from Bad Newspaper.)

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Have a nice drip

Maryland, you may remember, is taxing rainwater. Meanwhile, Oklahoma City wants to encourage you to collect it rather than tax you for letting it fall. From this month’s City News (with the utility bill):

Oklahoma City and the Central Oklahoma Storm Water Alliance (COSWA) are partnering to encourage residents to conserve water and reduce pollution through the use of rain barrels. The organizations are offering discounted rain barrels online at www.upcycle-products.com starting at $59 plus $2.50 online handling fee. Click on “order forms” on right side of web page and choose “Oklahoma City.” The deadline to order is March 28.

Moore and Norman are also playing. Now what’s the catch?

City Council recently passed an ordinance that allows a maximum of two 85-gallon rain barrels in the front yard. Any number of rain barrels can be placed on the side or back of a property as long as they are not visible from the street. The containers must be securely covered and any openings must be covered with a screen that prevents pest infestation.

Take that, mosquitoes!

Fortunately for me, I get more rain in the back yard than in the front.

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Where the Boise are

Is your homeowner’s insurance bill vaguely, or perhaps not so vaguely, reminiscent of the national debt? Tough noogies, says Robert Hartwig, president of the Insurance Information Institute:

Oklahoma ranks No. 5 in the nation for the price of homeowners insurance premiums — an average of $2,386 in 2011, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. Oklahoma is the most expensive landlocked state for homeowners insurance premiums, Hartwig said.

If Oklahomans don’t like what they pay for homeowner’s insurance, moving to Idaho is always an option, Hartwig said.

“Nothing ever happens in Idaho, so they pay about a third of what people in Oklahoma do for their homeowners insurance,” Hartwig said.

Thanks, Bob. If a glacier comes to Coeur d’Alene, I’m going to point in your general direction.

Oh, and the graphic that accompanied this article said that the average Oklahoma premium was $1,386, so one of the two is wrong. Maybe both.

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Vampire weakened

Can you tell the difference between an actual person and a fictional character with the same name? The court says you can:

The real-life Erin Bates says she was devastated when the character with her name became “shallow, materialistic, promiscuous and heartless” in the 10th book of a popular young adult series about fledgling vampires.

“It was very shocking,” said Bates, 27, who once was the personal assistant of Tulsa author P.C. Cast.

So, Bates sued. And, she lost.

Hidden, the tenth book in the House of Night series by Cast and her daughter Kristen, has been generally well received; some Amazon reviewers have been highly critical, but the series is averaging about 4.0 stars. Bates’ complaint:

“The first books — one through nine — the character was a fine character. There were no issues. Right before the 10th book came out, she and I had a falling out … She fired me without any cause … and, then, a couple of months later, the 10th book came out and Erin Bates was a completely different character,” Bates told The Oklahoman.

Cast says no, this was the 10th story in an arc of twelve, and everything was sketched out in advance.

Said the court:

“The Erin Bates character is a teenager while plaintiff is in her mid-20s. The locale of the book is entirely fictional,” Judge Larry Joplin wrote in the appeals court opinion. “The only similarity is the identity of the fictional character’s name and plaintiff’s name.

“Given the fictitious, ‘otherworldly’ setting of defendants’ book and its cast of wholly fictitious vampyres, no reasonable reader of the defendants’ book would conclude the fictional character, Erin Bates, depicts plaintiff acting in the way portrayed in the book.”

Final blow: Bates — the real one — was ordered to pay $5500 toward the Casts’ legal expenses.

We’ll see if Bill Peschel is available for comment.

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A long way for nothing

It’s 80 miles from my house to Gary’s Chicaros in Enid, which is sufficient reason for me not to go there. But I wouldn’t go there if it were next door and my cupboard were bare:

A restaurant in Enid is getting heat after one of its patrons posted a pretty strong message on social media about discrimination.

The restaurant and bar has been open for more than four decades and carries quite the reputation.

Gary James, owner of Gary’s Chicaros, said, “I’ve been in business 44 years, I think I can spot a freak or a faggot.”

He added, “I don’t deal with these people walking down the street with no jobs on welfare.”

Now I’m not about to tell this guy that he has to serve everyone that comes to the door no matter what; it’s his beanery, not mine, and I’m not the local enforcer for Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which as written, and as I read it, doesn’t seem to apply to gay folk or EBT users unless they’re nonwhite. Still, the status quo may be in doubt:

[N]ow that Mr. James’s establishment is starting to raise internet hackles, we wouldn’t be surprised if some legal action from busybodies at the ACLU or NAACP comes his way. Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.

Hackles? Me? Heck, no. I’m just passing on a story that killed my appetite.

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The nearest faraway news

Champlin’s KZLS 1640 — not to be confused with Champlin’s KZLS 99.7, once the True Oldies Channel, now classic-country outlet KNAH (is Serutan sponsoring?) — is moving to a news/talk format, and they’ve hired KTOK expat Reid Mullins to do the morning show.

I’m not quite sure how well this is going to work out. The KZLS tower, east of Hennessey, reaches the Oklahoma City metro decently in the daytime, what with 10,000 watts to work with; however, they have only 1,000 watts at night, which barely gets them to the middle of Guthrie. Then again, who listens to news/talk at night? I suspect KZLS will have far more listeners to their Internet stream than to their actual radio signal.

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And the door revolves once more

Cliff Branan, who represents Senate District 40 and therefore me, will be term-limited out of the Senate after this year, and already he’s planning his next gig: he’s running for Corporation Commissioner.

And he has some heavy hitters on his side:

Branan said co-chairs of his campaign include Larry Nichols, executive chairman of Devon Energy Corp.; Greg Love, president of Love’s development companies,; Brian Bingman, president pro tem of the state Senate; and Harold Hamm, chief executive officer of Continental Resources.

Any of these guys — well, maybe not Bingman — could finance Branan’s campaign out of pocket change.

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Two roads diverging

A couple of members of the state House, noting the absurdly high divorce rate in these parts, have come up with schemes to make it harder to split up. Arthur Hulbert (R-Fort Gibson) has proposed a minimum six-month waiting period for a divorce — maybe, just maybe, you’ll change your mind — and Sean Roberts (R-Hominy) has called for “incompatibility” to be stricken from the list of legal grounds.

To Patrick of The Lost Ogle, who has at least as much legal background as any of these guys, these approaches are bass-ackwards:

Instead of spending so much time on draconian legislation that makes it harder for unhappy people to get a divorce, maybe our legislature should make it more difficult for people to get married. Crazy idea, huh? Maybe introduce a 6-month to 1-year probation period before a marriage becomes official, or raise the legal marriage age to 25? I bet that would lower the divorce rate.

Or, lacking that:

Another solution would be to make a couple pay a $1,000 marriage deposit. If a couple stays married for 7 years, they get the money back with interest. If they divorce prior to the 7 years, it goes into a marriage education fund. Who would be against that? It would make people seriously consider whether or not they should get married, and encourage them to make it work if they do. It’s an idea so logical and brilliant it will never see the light of day.

Make it $5,000, and this state will never have another budget deficit.

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Air apparent

Welch, Oklahoma, not so hard by the Kansas border north of Vinita, is about to get a low-power community radio station:

Voice of Welch Communications, Inc. (VOW) has been granted a construction permit by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to build a low-power FM (LPFM) radio station serving the Welch and Bluejacket areas.

VOW president, Tyson Wynn, said, “Providing radio service to my hometown area has long been a dream of mine. Since first working at Vinita’s KITO during high school, I have been in love with the medium of radio and its ability to provide immediate coverage of local news and events. I’m also thrilled that LPFM is designed to be a very local operation. Welchkins, including Welch school students, will have the opportunity to learn the craft of radio. Dave Boyd trained me and put me on the air at KITO when I was 16 years old, and we’re going to give another generation of young people that same opportunity.”

I’ve met Tyson Wynn, and his enthusiasm is genuine. And I’m definitely pleased that radio service, which has been migrating from small towns to big cities for many years, is showing up in a community of 600.

The Welch facility will broadcast on 94.7 MHz with 100 watts. It will not quite reach Vinita or Miami, the two nearest cities. (And in case you’re wondering, KITO, while still licensed to Vinita, broadcasts nothing of particular interest to Vinita; it’s now just a relay for the Sports Animal’s Tulsa — actually Muskogee — facility.)

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Noses to be removed

And faces to be spited:

State lawmakers are considering throwing out marriage in Oklahoma.

The idea stems from a bill filed by Rep. Mike Turner (R-Edmond). Turner says it’s an attempt to keep same-sex marriage illegal in Oklahoma while satisfying the U.S. Constitution. Critics are calling it a political stunt while supporters say it’s what Oklahomans want.

“[My constituents are] willing to have that discussion about whether marriage needs to be regulated by the state at all,” Turner said.

If nothing else, this is consistent with Governor Fallin’s decision to deny spousal benefits to National Guard members, gay or straight.

And it’s a challenge to those who say that the states shouldn’t be in the marriage business in the first place. To some extent, I am sympathetic to that position; however, Turner is radiating that strange Soonerland vibe that says “Yeah, this is going to be swatted in the courts, but we don’t care.

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Roth waxing again

With Doctor No saying no to the last two years of his term, all of a sudden there’s some political news in the state that doesn’t involve gay couples, Satan, or Satanic gay couples.

Congressman James Lankford, never, ever short of ambition, has already announced for Tom Coburn’s Senate seat. And he has name recognition in one-fifth of the state, which surely will help. (Folks down in Little Dixie will go “Who?”)

A more interesting race, I surmise, will involve the selection of Lankford’s replacement. Tom Guild, the previous Democratic sacrificial lamb, has yet to say anything. Meanwhile, former Corporation Commissioner Jim Roth has let it be known that he’s around:

“I have always said, that public service feeds my soul,” Roth said. “The citizens of Oklahoma have given me the honor of serving them in public office, and I look forward to discussing the possibility of serving the citizens of this great state, once again, with my friends and family over the coming days and weeks. I do believe our democracy is best when it includes all people.”

The one possibly worrisome aspect of Roth — when he was on the Corp Comm, he seemed awfully buddy-buddy with Chesapeake’s Aubrey McClendon — may or may not have evaporated with McClendon’s departure from CHK. Still, who among the Republicans can beat him? Maybe another Commissioner:

Edmond businesswoman and Corporation Commissioner Patrice Douglas said today she will seek the Republican nomination for Congress in the 5th District… “My roots here in Oklahoma’s Fifth District run deep, with connections in communities from Shawnee to Bethany,” said Douglas. “All across the district, conservatives like me believe in the same things: lower taxes, limited government, and protecting our Constitutional freedoms.”

The 5th is very Republican — R+13, last I looked — but a Roth/Douglas matchup might be pretty close, and maybe even entertaining.

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Burning down the House

One chamber of legislative ne’er-do-wells is apparently enough:

Senate Joint Resolution 43, filed by Sen. Patrick Anderson, R-Enid, would allow voters to create a constitutional amendment creating a unicameral legislature consisting of 48 legislators, effectively dissolving the Oklahoma House of Representatives.

Because, you know, he’s not going to jeopardize his job by asking for the Senate to be killed.

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.

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Degrees of inaccuracy

Lynn could perhaps be a little happier with the weather, or at least with the predictions thereof:

You know what bugs me most about modern weather forecasting? Not that it’s wrong sometimes but that it is, most of the time, too accurate. Yesterday they said that this morning’s low would be 0°F. It was exactly 0°F when I got up at 6:30 this morning. It is now -2°F. So they were off by 2. So far.

Then again, at 6:30 it was still an hour before sunrise. (At Wiley Post Airport, the nearest NWS reporting station to me, the low on Monday was 3°, which happened around a quarter to eight. Sunrise was 7:40.)

I don’t follow NWS Tulsa very closely, but NWS Norman has a habit of recalculating the predicted high for the day right before noon — and often as not, they were right the first time. Then again, clouds and winds don’t respond to our entreaties, or theirs.

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Up from under

The Satanic Temple, which has applied to place a monument of His Devilish Majesty at the Oklahoma State Capitol, has released the design for the proposed statuary:

Proposed statue of Satan

The Capitol Preservation Commission, which receives such applications, has declared a moratorium on such things until a lawsuit over the extant Ten Commandments monument is resolved.

Meanwhile, the Temple, through Indiegogo, hopes to raise $20,000 to cover the costs; at this writing, they’re a little over halfway there.

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Meanwhile on 23rd Street

In this state, at least, you can’t spell “gubernatorial” without “goober”:

Though I hold conservative positions on many issues, I am no fan of Gov. [Mary] Fallin, who is a small-scale version of the all-image, little-substance-and-even-less-ability politician dominating many levels of government today and writ largest at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

But has Mr. [Randy] Brogdon done anything since his 2010 bid for the nomination managed to scare up a whopping 39% of the vote to suggest he can defeat Gov. Fallin, who now wields the mighty mallet of incumbency? No, unless being appointed the Deputy Commissioner of the Fraud and Investigations Unit by Insurance Commissioner John Doak has mystical powers of which I am unaware.

At least you can figure Brogdon is, or has been, well-armed.

Still, Brogdon vs. Fallin is just the primary. (My guess: Brogdon prods her on income-tax relief; Fallin sits there, smiles really pretty and all, crosses her legs, and says that she never promised anyone a rose garden.) Whoever survives that circus gets to face Joe Dorman, whom we’ve already discussed:

[T]echnically, Rep. Dorman, you’re suggesting organs be harvested from living people. That sound you heard was Christian Szell saying, “Ew.”

This particular seat, unlike most in state government, is actually attainable by Democrats; let’s hope they find someone with less amusement potential than Dorman between now and the primary (which is the 24th of June; candidate filing is 9-11 April).

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More season’s greasings

One more 6×9 card in the mail. Collin Walke and his wife have no children, but they do have two dogs. Text on the address side: “Wishing you and your family a wonderful Christmas and a New Year filled with blessings of love, joy and peace.” For a minute there, I almost thought he was a Republican, just by dint of mentioning the C-word.

But no: Walke’s a Democrat, running for House District 87, currently represented by Republican Jason Nelson. (See previous edition.) Still a couple of days to go.

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Ice Station Yankee

This particular manifestation of global warming dumped about ¾ inch of ice over the city, similar or slightly smaller amounts across the rest of the state, and generally made life difficult for as many as possible. As late as Friday noon it looked like an inconvenience, but not much more than that — except for this one Weather Guy who called it Thursday night:

Brace yourself for Epic Ice Storm Impact … tonight’s hi-res model has brought in even colder temperatures and lower dewpoints during this entire winter storm and much farther south and east than before. That’s good news for me because it means my forecast from Monday remains unchanged. It also means you’re about to see everyone else change their forecast at the last minute to follow suit. Either that or they’ll wait one more run (the morning one or wait to see other models come around to the same solution) before going all out balls to the wall. Lets just say everyone better hope tonight’s run is wrong or this will be an epic event roughly along the I-44 corridor.

Ah, the dreaded I-44 corridor. I said this yesterday just before what would have been sunset had we any sun:

ODOT: Call me.

Damage report for the palatial estate at Surlywood: one of the twin redbuds was cut almost in half; a couple of questionable fence panels are now essentially horizontal; I had to remove low-hanging bits of mulberry above the driveway to get my car out. Otherwise, not too terribly terrible, and probably less heinous than the horror that was the December ’07 storm.

Oh, and speaking of the December ’07 storm:

I can only hope that we won’t see another ice storm of this magnitude for another five or six years!

Next time, say “twelve or fourteen.” Or “fifty.”

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Season’s greasings

In the mail yesterday: cards of a sort from local politicians, complete with obligatory Family Pictures.

Jason Nelson, who currently represents House District 87, sent a 6×9 card with “Merry Christmas” on one side and a Bible verse (Isaiah 9:6) on the other.

John Handy Edwards, who hopes to replace the term-limited Cliff Branan in Senate District 40 in 2015, sent a 6.875×10 card, folded once, with “Happy Holidays” on the outside and “Sending warm wishes from our family to yours this season” within.

More as they arrive, if more arrive.

Why, no, I didn’t mention their party affiliations. Did I need to?

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Datsunny dispositions

In thirty-five states, the Ford F-150 pickup truck is the single best-selling motor vehicle. This of course means that something actually outsells the F-150 in the remaining states, but I have to admit, I wouldn’t have figured this: Oklahomans buy more Nissan Altimas than anything else.

Then again, maybe I should have. If everybody actually shows up to work, the parking lot will be awash in Nissan products: apart from my Infiniti, you’ll find a Frontier pickup, a Maxima, and two — sometimes three — Altimas. (El Jefe has, or at least had for several years, the massive Armada SUV, and I’ve seen him in a Z.) Only Chevy comes close. I’m guessing this is because none of us, El Jefe included, are getting rich.

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Ever so slight

Weather in these parts was generally terrible yesterday, and I fled the office an hour and a half early to beat (some of) the desperation traffic. I didn’t realize how terrible it was, though, until I pulled up the Mesonet last night:

Mesonet screen shot - wintry mix

When an 80-percent probability seems “slight,” you have definitely had a bad day.

Oh, and it’s supposed to snow tomorrow.

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The usual semiannual scrutiny

If my car could talk, she might say, along with “You know, these seats of mine can only take so much,” something along the lines of “Yeah, I got insurance. You wanna make something of it?”

Okay, she’s got an attitude. That’s part of why she’s here. And the insurance bill has arrived, so it’s time to go over that stuff again.

Premium is up a not-quite-negligible $20.40 this time around, ten bucks of which goes straight to bodily-injury liability, with half of the rest going to property-damage liability. Uninsured motorist coverage remains unchanged; it also remains the single priciest item on the bill. We shall see if the new state law allowing troopers to confiscate the license plates of uninsured motorists — and, even more fun, providing temporary liability coverage to those motorists at a price yet undetermined to be added to their fines and fees — does anything to address that matter.

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We like your plan just fine

Our Insurance Commissioner weighs in:

The number of health insurance policies canceled in Oklahoma as a result of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has been minimized due to the efforts of Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John D. Doak.

“Here in Oklahoma, my office has always focused on the consumer,” said Doak. “We recognized the possibility of cancellations early on and worked with the state’s largest health insurance companies to lessen the consumer impact. That collaboration led to our approval of their requests to modify policy renewal dates, which allowed a majority of Oklahoma policyholders to keep their existing coverage through 2014.”

Technically, this does not extend their existing coverage, but does permit renewals at some figure resembling the previous premium.

Doak, of course, is not impressed by the administration’s shenaniganza:

“After yet another failed initiative, President Obama is just passing the buck,” said Doak. “How can the federal government make this decision without offering any guidance to the state insurance departments or the insurance carriers? Cancellation notices have already gone out. Rates and plans have already been approved. How is this supposed to work? There are a lot of unanswered questions right now. This is what you get when you pass a bill you haven’t read.”

This is consistent with the NAIC statement earlier yesterday. Very consistent.

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Moore or less

Real-estate site Movoto.com has rated America’s Small Cities — by “small” they apparently mean “just under 60,000 population” — and based on their criteria, Moore, Oklahoma slides just into the Top Ten:

While the 57,810 residents of Moore have to contend with tornadoes, the people who live in this Oklahoma City, OK suburb also have to be a bit more concerned with crime. That’s because the city has the only above average crime rate in our top 10 at 45 percent above the national average. Fortunately, some other factors help even things out.

For one, the cost of living in Moore is 10 points below the national average, and the median household income, at $55,710, is 5.6 percent above. The median home price is 37 percent below average at 128,000 but there are 169 residents per home for sale.

A real positive standout for Moore is its unemployment rate, which at 4.3 percent is an impressive 40 percent below the national average.

The only other city in Oklahoma meeting their population criterion was Midwest City, which is tied for thirty-first out of 50. At the very top of the rankings is Rowlett, Texas, in a far corner of Dallas County. (The eastern edge slides over into Rockwall County.) Rock bottom: Ocala, Florida.

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