Archive for Soonerland

And she prevailed

In 2010, Dr Rachel Tudor was recommended for tenure by her colleagues at Southeastern Oklahoma State down in Durant. The administration, she said, responded by “contact[ing] legal counsel to find out if they were required to honor the recommendation of the faculty committee.” Somebody there didn’t like her.

In the spring of 2011, Tudor won the Faculty Senate Recognition Award for Excellence in Scholarship, after which she was sent packing. It took a while for things to start happening, but they did:

After four years of getting nowhere — she’s currently teaching at a community college in north Texas — the Department of Justice has stepped in, under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, charging the school and the State Regents with discrimination on the basis of sex.

Tudor apparently flourished at Collin College, where she earned a 4.7 (out of 5) at Rate My Professors. And after two and a half years, the DOJ suit has borne fruit:

On Monday, an eight-person jury voted in favor of Tudor on three counts: that she was “denied tenure in 2009-10 because of her gender,” that she was denied “the opportunity to apply for tenure in the 2010-11 cycle … because of her gender” and that the university retaliated against her after she complained about workplace discrimination. The jury then awarded her $1.165 million in damages.

Said a member of Tudor’s legal team:

Brittany Novotny, a member of Tudor’s local counsel trial team and herself a transgender woman, said the case is the first of its kind.

“This is the first one of these Title VII civil rights cases for a trans person based on sex discrimination to go to a jury trial,” Novotny told NBC News. “It is a pretty exciting day and a pretty big moment.”

I remember Brittany Novotny: she ran for a seat in the state House in 2010. Unfortunately, the seat was District 84, arguably the least trans-friendly zone in the state, occupied then by Sally Kern and before that Bill Graves. Eventually she moved out of the area, though she’s kept several ties to the state and she’s wearing a Russell Westbrook jersey on her Twitter profile page.

And the timing couldn’t have been much better: Monday was this year’s Transgender Day of Remembrance.

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Slightly less expensive

When the word got out that the Oklahoma legislature, as a reward for screwing up the budget process once more, was getting a pay cut, I knew I had to see what Patrick at The Lost Ogle had to say about it. And he said it, all right:

The inept, hodgepodge collection of right wing ideological assholes, special interest shills, oil industry lemmings, and perverse deviants that we know as Oklahoma lawmakers (some, I assume, are good people) will receive an 8.8% pay reduction effective in November.

Some of those categories overlap.

From the AP wire story:

All of Oklahoma’s 149 state senators and representatives will get a pay cut of 8.8 percent in November 2018 after an independent nine-member panel narrowly voted to approve the reduction.

The Legislative Compensation Board voted 4-3 on Thursday to impose the pay cut effective on the next group of legislators elected next year.

Members of the panel are appointees of the governor, speaker of the House and president pro tem of the Senate. Several said the decision was a difficult one, but that the total annual compensation for legislators of $62,000 was too generous given the salary of the average Oklahoman or state worker.

Well, this action affects only the salary ($38,400 a year, to be reduced to $35,020). Per diem remains unchanged. (Patrick: “Considering a first year Oklahoma teacher only makes $31,600 a year, that still seems too high.”)

A fraction of those lawmakers will be gone after 2018 because of term limits; they will never have to experience the indignity of a pay cut. It will be interesting to see how many legislators not facing term limits after 2018 decide to move on.

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Chemistry indeed

Hunter Day, off workI remember my days as a chem student, and I’m pretty sure nothing like this ever happened back then:

A Yukon, Oklahoma teacher has been arrested and accused of raping a student.

Hunter Day, 22, was arrested Nov. 15 in Canadian County on a complaint of second degree rape, possession of child pornography and soliciting sex from a minor using technology.

A very minor minor indeed. State law defines two flavors of second-degree rape, and the one that applies here is “consensual sex between a minor who is 14 or 15, and a defendant who is 18 or older.”

Apparently the previous version of the soliciting-sex statute didn’t include anything about smartphones.

The Canadian County Sheriff’s Office reports that they were contacted by the parents of a student who gave them the boy’s phone. On the phone, authorities found text messages and nude photographs. The boy’s parents were concerned that Day had already had sex with their son and that she was his chemistry teacher. The boy’s parents had learned that Day and him had planned to meet Wednesday for sex at her apartment.

Day was hired by Yukon Public Schools on an emergency certification at the beginning of the school year; she is currently under suspension. And she is probably still married.

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Ketchup with the budget

A letter to the editor of the Oklahoman, published yesterday:

I have a simple solution for Oklahoma’s budget crisis. If we were to add a dime tax to every order of french fries sold in Oklahoma per day, no one would notice! Tax dollars raised would cover teacher pay, DHS, law enforcement, fire, construction and everything else we need to fund. Obesity kills many more Oklahomans than smoking does. Oklahomans will quit smoking, but they will never give up french fries.

Scott Uselton, Edmond

Does this include hash browns? Tater Tots? For Heinz’ sake, man, we need details!

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The shape we’re in

“I just spent sixty days in the jailhouse / For the crime of having no dough.” ~ The Band, “The Shape I’m In” (1970).

How theoretical is this? Not very:

A debt-collection system in Oklahoma that routinely throws indigent people in jail for failing to pay state court fines and costs is illegal and amounts to an extortion scheme, according to a federal lawsuit filed Thursday.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Tulsa by two Tulsa-based law firms, seeks class-action status on behalf of indigent criminal defendants who “are victims of an extortion scheme in which the defendants have conspired to extract as much money as possible … through a pattern of illegal and shocking behavior.”

The lawsuit names the Oklahoma Sheriffs’ Association, every Oklahoma county sheriff and Aberdeen Enterprizes II Inc., a private collections company.

As you might expect, one particular case prompted this lawsuit:

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Ira Lee Wilkins, who is described as an indigent Tulsa man who was represented by the public defender’s office when he pleaded guilty to an unnamed charge in 2015.

A bench warrant was issued about a year later for Wilkins’ arrest after he failed to pay court costs. He is now in a state prison, according to the complaint.

Aberdeen reportedly collects 30 percent of the take, and the state complicates matters by suspending the indigents’ driver’s licenses. Nice little racket, it would seem.

(Via Fark.)

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Nomenclature adjustment

North of Durant, Oklahoma is Lake Durant, a 315-acre reservoir that, when it was opened in 1996, was well-stocked with bass, a situation that wouldn’t last long once the local fishermen found it.

It’s easy to find on Google Maps, and — what?

Google Map of Lake Durant, Oklahoma, renamed Lake Westbrook by some wag

Lake Westbrook?

<applauds silently>

I assume this will be corrected eventually. Take your time.

(Spotted by Fillyjonk.)

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This kind of service ain’t cheap

Newly minted EPA boss Scott Pruitt objects to rather a lot of policies enacted by the agency he now heads. What he doesn’t seem to object to is spending money:

On July 27, records show, Pruitt and six staff members arranged a flight on a Department of Interior plane from Tulsa to the tiny outpost of Guymon, Okla., at a cost of $14,434.50. The EPA noted that “time constraints” on Pruitt’s schedule wouldn’t allow him to make the 10-hour round-trip drive. The purpose of the trip was to meet with landowners “whose farms have been affected” by a controversial rule regulating water bodies in the United States, according to the agency. Pruitt has initiated a process to withdraw the regulation, known as the Waters of the United States rule.

Security is also important to Pruitt:

The Environmental Protection Agency is spending nearly $25,000 to construct a secure, soundproof communications booth in the office of Administrator Scott Pruitt, according to government contracting records.

The agency signed a $24,570 contract [pdf] earlier this summer with Acoustical Solutions, a Richmond-based company, for a “privacy booth for the administrator.” The company sells and installs an array of sound-dampening and privacy products, from ceiling baffles to full-scale enclosures like the one purchased by the EPA. The project’s scheduled completion date is Oct. 9, according to the contract.

Typically, such soundproof booths are used to conduct hearing tests. But the EPA sought a customized version — one that eventually would cost several times more than a typical model — that Pruitt can use to communicate privately.

Which is still cheaper than flying out to Guymon twice.

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Well, isn’t that special?

The Legislature starts its Special Session today, and how long it lasts may be the most important aspect of it, owing to one seemingly odd statute: no bill to raise taxes can be introduced in the last five days of a session. So if they plan to be out of there in a week, there will be no tax increases considered. That said, the search for revenues that can be collected without seeming to raise taxes will be at the very top of the agenda, and one doesn’t just shake the sofa cushions to obtain $215 million.

Expect the Democratic minority to push for restoring the 7-percent gross production tax on oil and gas, and expect the Republican majority to blow them off. Some background:

When commodity prices started to tank — those “new” to the industry were unprepared while oil and gas veterans sighed and began to tighten their belts and update their resumes. Shellshocked non-profits and businesses, who relied on industry support and investment, began the grim task of layoffs, scaling back services or shutting their doors altogether as corporate giving was dramatically reduced or cut completely. The entire impact reverberated across the state, but oil and gas got a big win.

The veterans had been here before, some of them several times: it’s simply the way it is. And then:

Just prior to the commodity price tumble, the industry received a gift from Oklahoma legislators and Governor Mary Fallin — a reduction in the gross production tax from 7% to 2% (1% for horizontal wells). While I didn’t have a crystal ball, it wasn’t hard to ponder “what if” scenarios. I didn’t have to live through history to learn from it — I asked peers, colleagues and friends, “If the industry experiences a downturn, won’t this impact the state budget and funding?” The general sentiment in response was, “Not our problem.”

Sentiments remain generally unchanged for now.

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In search of Fairness

Let’s try it this way:

(Via TLOMMT.)

Disclosure: I have never had a beer at the State Fair.

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But hey, it’s not a tax

“We didn’t come to the State Capitol to start raising taxes.”

Um, there’s a budget hole you could steer an aircraft carrier through, and the state constitution forbids deficit spending.

“Listen up, goddamn it. We didn’t come to the State Capitol to start raising taxes.”

And so it came to pass that this came to pass:

Letter from Child Support Services announcing a new fee

After all, those custodial parents are just rolling in extra cash these days.

Aren’t they?

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Sweet time duly taken

As reported here on the second of June:

We are being forced to a newer (and uglier) [license] plate design; I have decided to keep my previous number, which was also my previous number the last time we were forced to a newer (but prettier) design. The state will have to make this plate out of sequence, which might be an annoyance, which justifies my fifteen Spite Bucks. Very few drivers opted for this the last time, and I’ve seen only one in the current cycle.

As it turns out, they didn’t make this plate out of sequence: despite my end-of-June expiration date, it didn’t actually arrive until yesterday. Apparently they knew that’s just how it is: they sent me the little “2018” sticker in the mail in mid-June, which I duly plastered onto the old plate. (The new ones have 2018 printed on the You Call This Metal? surface.)

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Forecast: warm

We’re talking August, after all:

The state of Oklahoma has been selected as the convention destination for the 86th annual American Association for Nude Recreation (AANR) Convention.

Nudists from all over will travel to the family-friendly nudist park Oaklake Trails Naturist Park, which is located halfway between Tulsa and Oklahoma City, where this year’s biggest clothing-optional convention is being held.

On the off-chance that storms come in, they do have a storm shelter.

And I approve this message, from the rules:

Conduct not requiring an apology is expected behavior.

As it says elsewhere, you’re shedding your clothing, not your morals.

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Saving Tulsa money

At least, that’s the explanation I’d come up with [warning: autostart video], were I asked:

Residents who live at North Yale and East Marshall Street told FOX23 the city’s latest paint striping is leaving them laughing and also scratching their heads.

Residents in this part of north Tulsa pointed to road kill being painted over when the city reapplied the double yellow lines to the middle of the four lane road.

FOX23 spoke with one family who said they saw the city painting on the street and wondered if they would stop to remove the road kill. They quickly found out, the crews did not. They say they instead found animal carcasses with fresh yellow stripes through them.

The city ‘fessed up, but said it’s hard to stop the paint vehicle once it’s started, and that they’ll be out next week to clean up the mess.

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I quit … eventually

We assume there are lots of money-grubbing lice at the Capitol, but few seem so obvious about it:

State Senator Dan Newberry announced Tuesday he’s stepping aside from his seat with District 37.

In a news release, Newberry said he will continue to be in senior management at TTCU The Credit Union and is publishing a book.

Newberry said it was an honor to serve as the senator from District 37.

“I want to thank the citizens of District 37 for placing your trust in me to represent you at the Capitol for nearly 10 years,” he said.

Newberry, a Tulsa Republican, represents an area including Sand Springs and west Tulsa. And the Legislature has adjourned sine die, and barring a call by the governor for a special session, will not meet again until February 2018. I mention this latter because:

Newberry said in a statement he will resign January 31, 2018.

Because God forbid he should miss even a buck of his $38,400 annual salary as a legislator.

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Down that old gavel road

The Oklahoman has been sharply critical — or sometimes, not so sharply critical — of the proceedings of this year’s legislative session. This bit from Sunday’s editorial, however, is definitely pointed:

In floor debate, the appropriation chairs of both chambers praised the process that produced the budget.

“We had the most open and transparent budget process in the history of this state,” said Rep. Leslie Osborn, R-Mustang.

“We’ve done a fantastic job this year of coming up with a budget,” said Sen. Kim David, R-Porter.

Those statements serve only to remind one why it’s a bad idea to let students grade their own homework.

Ouch.

Fortunately, both of them are Republicans, so there’s no chance that anyone is going to dump on the paper for picking on women in the legislature.

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Apparently there can be only one

Insurance Commissioner John Doak passed along this bit of information:

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Oklahoma has submitted a Qualified Health Plan application, along with rates, for certification in the federally-facilitated exchange for 2018. This is an initial indication that, for the second straight year, only one insurer in Oklahoma will offer exchange products in the individual market.

As recently as 2015, there were four insurers on the exchange. And Doak will not comment on rates, because basically he can’t:

The Oklahoma Insurance Department does not have statutory authority to approve or deny rate increases filed by insurers on the federal exchange. Oklahoma, along with Texas and Wyoming, is a direct enforcement state with no authority to enforce provisions of the Affordable Care Act.

This is at least partially due to State Question 756, passed in 2010, in which state voters washed their hands of the whole idea of mandatory health insurance.

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Like nickels and dimes, but larger

The Oklahoma Tax Commission maintains a service called CARS, which stands for Convenient Auto Renewal Service. It has gotten more convenient, or perhaps less inconvenient, since it was launched. And there are, of course, fees:

  • Mail Fee $4.50
  • Insurance Fee $1.50
  • Vehicle Registration Renewal Fee for renewing vehicle tags $26.00
  • Oklahoma Organ Donor Education and Awareness Program Revolving Fund Donation $1.00
  • Retention Fee $15.00
  • Sub-Total $48.00
  • Online Fee $1.50
  • Grand Total $49.50

The “Retention Fee” deserves some explanation. We are being forced to a newer (and uglier) plate design; I have decided to keep my previous number, which was also my previous number the last time we were forced to a newer (but prettier) design. The state will have to make this plate out of sequence, which might be an annoyance, which justifies my fifteen Spite Bucks. Very few drivers opted for this the last time, and I’ve seen only one in the current cycle. Then again, if my tag number were 069 BIG, I might want to keep it too. (Actually saw that this week on the Northwest Distressway westbound.)

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In case you missed the visuals

Miss Cellania turned up a piece from The Annals of Improbable Research which purports to determine which of the nine states with panhandles actually most resembles a pan.

What is a “panhandle,” anyway? The researchers:

“Panhandle” is an informal geographic term for an elongated tail-like protrusion of a geographic entity that is surrounded on three sides by land regions not of the same administration.

Works for me. And you can probably guess which state “won” this competition. (Hint: Texas was second.)

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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:


PAID FOR BY OKLAHOMANS FOR BETTER ROADS AND BRIDGES
BOBBY STEM, TREASURER
636 NE 41ST STREET, OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA 73105
405-520-1874 OR BSTEM@WEBUILDOKLAHOMA.COM

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 858ToGo.com 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.

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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.)

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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.

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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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