Archive for Soonerland

Get back to where you once belonged

Or forget about keeping a seat in the Oklahoma House, I guess. This came in email:

A contest of candidacy has been filed by Nick Mahoney against Rep. Kevin McDugle, claiming Kevin has not met his residency requirements to file as a candidate for State House District 12.

Nick Mahoney, who is running against McDugle for the GOP nomination for House District 12, explained the basis for the challenge, “We have been made aware of evidence that strongly suggests Kevin McDugle has not lived in District 12 for at least the last six months. In fact, court documents show that McDugle vacated his residency that he claims in his filing for election in April 2017.”

The Oklahoma State Election Board requires candidates filing for State Representative to have lived in their district for the previous six months before filing. “From what the court documents show, Kevin has not fulfilled the requirements for residency set forth by Oklahoma law,” said Mahoney.

Nick Mahoney is a Republican running for House District 12. To learn more about Nick Mahoney, visit

Obligingly, Mr Mahoney sent along some pertinent links, one of which is a petition [pdf] by Mrs McDugle to cease being Mrs McDugle, which contains a statement to the effect that he moved out of the family home on the east side of Broken Arrow last April.

Amusingly, the Mahoney campaign doesn’t seem to be all that familiar with the ubiquitous mailing-list manager MailChimp. This was found near the bottom of the missive:

Generic MailChimp footer

I mention this because I can, being a member of the media and all.


They fear me so

“Why, they don’t even dare to oppose me on the ballot!” — rather a lot of incumbents

The following Senators drew no opposition during last week’s filing period:

  1. Darcy A. Kech, 60, Kingfisher (R)
  2. J. J. Dossett, 34, Sperry (D)

Only two out of 24 seats unchallenged? Better than usual.

Meanwhile, of all 101 House seats:

  1. Johnny Tadlock, 54, Idabel (D)
  2. Emily Virgin, 31, Norman (D)
  3. Marcus McEntire, 44, Duncan (R)
  4. Brad Boles, 34, Marlow (R)
  5. Charles L. Ortega, 62, Altus (R)
  6. Carl Newton, 62, Cherokee (R)
  7. Mike Sander, 42, Kingfisher (R)
  8. Regina Goodwin, 55, Tulsa (D)
  9. Collin Walke, 35, Oklahoma City (D)
  10. Jason Dunnington, 40, Oklahoma City (D)
  11. Shane Stone, 25, Oklahoma City (D)
  12. Forrest Bennett, 28, Oklahoma City (D)
  13. Mickey Dollens, 30, Oklahoma City (D)
  14. Jason Lowe, 44, Oklahoma City (D)

Fourteen out of 101. It could be worse.

Perhaps the most sought-after seat is House District 82 in Edmond, being vacated by Kevin Calvey (R) due to term limits. (Calvey, resisting the idea of getting a Real Job after twelve years, is going after the soon-to-be-vacant County Commissioner District 3 seat, held for now by Ray Vaughn.) A dozen Republcans — and one lone Democrat — have filed for 82. Says that lone Democrat:

So there.

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Before the primaries

The official filing period for the mid-term elections runs from Wednesday through Friday, and candidates must fork over the appropriate filing fee (no cash, no personal checks) when filing. For the state Senate, it’s $800. (Or it’s $750, depending on which page at the State Election Board you happen to hit.)

There is an alternative:

In lieu of a filing fee, a petition supporting the candidacy signed by not fewer than two percent (2%) of the number of registered voters in the appropriate district or in the state, as applicable for the office sought, may be submitted with the Declaration of Candidacy.

And with that in mind, two young ladies showed up at my door Sunday — well, it was fricking cold on Saturday — to collect signatures for just such a petition for Danielle Ezell, seeking the District 40 Senate seat currently held by Erwin Yen. Ezell, I was told, was trying to avoid the need to find donors before the filing period. She’ll need 840 signatures (two percent of 42,019) to pull this off. (District population, as of the 2010 Census, was 71,882.)

“Have you seen what’s going on at the Capitol?”

I allowed that I had.

“What do you think?”

“A lot of incumbents are going to be sent packing,” I said.

They seemed pleased with that response. I signed their petition, and they went on their way. Later, I checked Ezell’s Web site, and for some reason it was down, though it turned out that her Web host was reporting an outage at the time. As of this writing, it’s up and running.

The candidate herself weighed in:

Seems legit.

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Where do they go from here?

Last we looked, Sinclair Broadcast Group was getting ready to buy Tribune Broadcasting’s stations, which would cement Sinclair’s position as the largest TV group owner in the country. Undecided at that time: how Sinclair and/or the FCC would deal with the Oklahoma City TV market, which is served by two Tribune stations and two Sinclair stations.

On the very last page of Monday’s Oklahoman there was a brace of legal notices. The first:

On February 21, 2018, an application was filed seeking FCC consent to the assignment of KOKH-TV’s license from KOKH Licensee, LLC to Sinclair Divestiture Trust. KOKH Licensee, LLC is a subsidiary of Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc. The officers, directors, and 10% or more shareholders of Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc. are David D. Smith, Frederick G. Smith, J. Duncan Smith, Robert E. Smith, Howard E. Friedman, Daniel C. Keith, Martin R. Leader, Lawrence E. McCanna, David B. Amy, Christopher S. Ripley, Lucy A. Rutishauser, Barry M. Faber, Steven M. Marks, Steven J. Pruett, David R. Bochenek, Rebecca J. Hanson, Delbert R. Parks, III, Donald H. Thompson, and Robert D. Weisbord.

The Trustee of Sinclair Divestiture Trust is RAFAMEDIA LLC. The Sole Member of RAFAMEDIA LLC is Richard A. Foreman, a respected long-time media broker who has no personal, familial or extra-trust business relationship with Sinclair or its affiliates.

A copy of this application can be found in the station’s online public inspection file at

Second verse, same as the first, except it pertained to KOCB-TV, Sinclair’s other current OKC station.

If that word “divestiture” jumps out at you, well, here are some of the deets:

In an FCC divestiture plan released on February 21, 2018, Sinclair stated it intended to divest either KOKH-TV or KFOR-TV to an unaffiliated third-party buyer to comply with FCC prohibitions on common ownership of two of the four highest-rated local stations in terms of total day viewership, and put them and their respective duopoly partners (KOCB and KAUT) into a divestiture trust independently overseen by Rafamedia LLC (owned by media broker Richard A. Foreman) until a buyer for one of the two Big Four network affiliates is found. Sinclair would also divest either KOCB or KAUT to comply with rules barring singular legal ownership of more than two full-power television stations in a single market (should the buyer not be the acquirer of the divested Big Four outlet, Sinclair would have the option of operating either outlet under a shared services agreement following the completion of the sale).

So it’s sort of official: Sinclair appears to be keeping KFOR-TV (an NBC affiliate) and KAUT (an independent), and ditching KOKH-TV (Fox) and KOCB (The CW). Maybe. I will continue to watch for developments.

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Babes with JDs

About a week ago, I said something to this effect:

Lunch in the office break room means, often as not, that The People’s Court will be on the TV. Given the demographics of daytime television, we can count on seeing commercials for lawyers, prescription drugs (“Ask your doctor!”), nonprescription drugs, lawyers, casinos, buy-here-pay-here auto dealers, and lawyers.

At the time, I showed you a TV spot for one of the lawyers, complete with splashy graphics and used-car-salesman bombast. This commercial for a rival firm is decidedly lower-key:

In those last few seconds, you may have noticed two men and five women. Does this 5:2 ratio accurately represent the firm? Take a peek at this photo from their Web site:

At the offices of McIntyre Law

Surely they can’t all be clerks.

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Is this a trend?

Received so far, stuck to the front door: two candidate pitches, presumably left by the candidates themselves or their surrogates. They’re for different offices: one for Oklahoma County Commissioner District 1, one for Senate Distict 40, and they’re both four inches by nine inches. Both candidates are fairly young women: the older of the two might be 45, maybe. Both have Twitter accounts, Facebook pages, and Web sites. What they don’t have, apparently, is party affiliation, which is kept sprucely out of sight in all these places.

I’m assuming they’re Democrats, for two reasons:

  1. The Republican majority is so large at the moment that it’s practically the default, suggesting that they’d be fine if someone thought they were Republicans;
  2. After a decade in a half in this precinct, I have learned that GOP candidates seldom come calling, while Democrats always do.

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Those were the days

The Oklahoman is putting out a quarterly slick called The OK, and while it’s okay (sorry) as such things go, some things are bound to get by that will make you wonder.

On page 111, there’s an image of the paper’s front page on 13 June 1931, where the nominal Big Story was yet another gubernatorial hissy fit from Alfalfa Bill Murray, but the historical moment to be remembered was a visit by Amelia Earhart. Then I caught this little darb up in the corner:

Oklahoman circulation May 1931

In the previous month, the Oklahoman was selling 199,000 copies a day; in the afternoon, the co-owned Oklahoma City Times was moving almost a hundred thousand more. The population of Oklahoma City, according to the 1930 Census, was 185,389, twice what it was in 1920. Today, 640,000 people live in this town; the paper sells, on a good day, 110,000 copies. The only time they’ll ever see 200,000 again is if they find Amelia Earhart out on some Pacific island.

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In lieu of actual wayfinding

If you’ve lived here more than a few nonths, you probably have your own story of this sort to tell:

I don’t know if it’s budget cutting (signs fall down/get stolen, never get replaced), or the assumption that “If you’re not from ’round here, you got no business drivin’ on our rural roads,” or the assumption “But everyone uses their smartphones to tell them where to go now.”

THEY DON’T MARK THE STATE ROUTES. Or at least not regularly. In a couple places I found you go 15-20 miles before you see a clear indication of what you’re on. And MULTIPLE times (I am looking at you, Purcell, and also you, south end of Davis), there is an intersection, it’s not clear which way you’re supposed to turn (or turn at all) and there is NO SIGN. So, if like me, you assume, “No indicator sign and arrow means you keep going straight,” you get off your path badly.

In general, this is an area where this state often fails. If you’re northbound on I-35 coming from downtown Oklahoma City — in which case you’ve already wondered how you got tossed onto I-40 in the middle of it — you’ll rather quickly learn that there is a junction with I-44 coming up within how many miles and fractions thereof. Until you actually reach that junction, though, there is no way you would know that to go westbound on I-44, you’ll have to exit left. You have not quite half a mile to move over, not a problem at ten in the morning, but a major source of tsuris during the afternoon rush.

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Totally tubacious

Lunch in the office break room means, often as not, that The People’s Court will be on the TV. Given the demographics of daytime television, we can count on seeing commercials for lawyers, prescription drugs (“Ask your doctor!”), nonprescription drugs, lawyers, casinos, buy-here-pay-here auto dealers, and lawyers. This guy has a new 30-second spot every few days:

I’m not at all sure that promoting amounts of settlements is such a good idea: we have knuckleheads in this town who think that they can get thousands of dollars for fender-benders. And you can barely see the fine print. That young lady who got $135,000?

Fine print from a trial-lawyer advertisement

Then again, I’d rather sit through 30 seconds of Pepper than 22 seconds of possible side effects for some overpriced drug. Especially if I’m eating.

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We’ll be Dahmed

District 33 Senator Nathan Dahm (R-Broken Arrow) seeks to replace Jim Bridenstine, nominated by President Trump to be the next administrator of NASA, as 1st District Congressman. The most likely result, I’m thinking, is that rather a lot of Dahm’s proposed legislation will be dug out of the archives, including the Piers Morgan Constitutional Right to Keep and Bear Arms Without Infringement Act, which, if nothing else, got him an invitation to appear on Morgan’s CNN TV series, canceled shortly thereafter, presumably for non-Dahm-related reasons.

Then there’s this year’s SB 1457, which reads as follows:


SECTION 1. AMENDATORY 29 O.S. 2011, Section 7-204, is amended to read as follows:

Section 7-204. All wildlife found in this state is the property of the state Almighty God. The people of the State of Oklahoma place the authority to manage all wildlife pursuant to the Oklahoma

SECTION 2. This act shall become effective November 1, 2018.

Almighty God has not yet commented on this measure, but if I were Nathan Dahm, I might want to stay away from thunderstorms, especially if they’re packing lots of lightning.

(Via Bridget Trowbridge.)

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Lest we miss one single voter

The state came up with a decent idea a few years back: tag agents would ask each license customer “Are you registered to vote?” Upon receipt of a negative response, they would then offer to register the customer on the spot.

That deal wasn’t quite good enough for Rep. Mickey Dollens (D-OKC), who hopes to turn it into a negative-option scheme: we will register you unless you tell us not to.

Pertinent passage:

F. The Secretary of the State Election Board shall develop a system by which the Department of Public Safety and motor license agents shall provide to the Secretary electronic records containing the legal name, age, residence, citizenship information and the electronic signature of each person who is a qualified elector or will be a qualified elector within the next two (2) years.

G. Upon receiving the electronic record for and electronic signature of a qualified elector or a person who will become a qualified elector within the next two (2) years, the Secretary shall provide the information to the county election board of the county in which the person may be registered or preregistered as a qualified elector. The Secretary or county election board shall notify each person of the process to:

    1. Decline being registered as a qualified elector; or

    2. Adopt a political party affiliation.

H. If a person notified under subsection G of this section does not decline to be registered as an elector within twenty-one (21) calendar days after the Secretary of State or county clerk issues the notification, the person’s electronic record and electronic signature submitted under subsection F of this section shall constitute a completed registration card for the person for purposes of this section. The person shall be registered to vote if the county election board determines that the person is a qualified elector and the person is not already registered to vote.

I. A county election board shall not send a ballot to, or add to an elector registration list, a person who meets eligibility requirements until at least twenty-one (21) calendar days after the Secretary or county election board provided notification to the person as described in subsection G of this section.

I’m not so sure I like this plan. Negative-option schemes bring back memories of Columbia House and remembering (or, more often, not remembering) to decline the current month’s selection.

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The man who would be Governor

BatesLine heard Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett on the radio in Tulsa, to the extent that one can actually hear an empty suit:

Jamison Faught at Muskogee Politico has posted about the pro-Cornett super-PAC, whose major donor was Sue Ann Arnall, oilman Harold Hamm’s ex-wife. Arnall was a major donor to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and has been a generous contributor to other Democrats. Campbell asked Cornett to explain why a Clinton backer would be such an enthusiastic advocate for him; Cornett gave a rambling non-answer.

Asked about what he specifically did as mayor of Oklahoma City, Cornett described himself as a “chief spokesperson,” for Oklahoma City, “traveling the world” to talk about the city. Cornett cited no policies or initiatives for which he was responsible. He sounded like a Convention and Visitors Bureau spokesperson, which is probably the job he should be seeking.

One could argue — I certainly would — that this is what OKC actually wanted from him during his four terms as Mayor. (No one else has served more than three.) Then again, OKC is relatively prosperous these days, and the level of scandal at City Hall is fairly low; no one, excepting possibly Ward 2 Councilman Ed Shadid, is sounding much of an alarm. By comparison, state government, by almost anyone’s reckoning, is buried in deep doo-doo, and Cornett’s shovel is mostly ceremonial.

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A tornado with no rotation?

Occasionally the Weather Guys say something about “damaging straight-line winds.”

Looks like Enid is getting some serious damage:

KFOR-TV weather map 15 January 2018

And I’m not about to sit down and calculate the wind-chill factor.

(With thanks to Jeff Thompson.)

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The view from 87

House District 87, where I’ve lived since 2003, has been getting bluer all the time; after a long line of Republicans, the district elected Democrat Collin Walke in 2016.

Walke didn’t raise a great deal of fuss during last year’s session. This year he has bigger plans:

State Rep. Collin Walke was among the first representatives out of the gate with new legislation. This session he will push to raise Oklahoma’s minimum wage to $11 per hour. The current state minimum wage is tied to the federal wage of $7.25.

Pretty much de rigueur for Democrats nationally. But this other measure is distinctly different:

Walke, D-Oklahoma City, also wants to alter the process for introducing bills. House Bill 2535 would require legislators to disclose the source for legislative language, whether it be a state official, agency or organization. Lawmakers commonly use language borrowed from other state statutes or build their own proposals from model legislation endorsed by national policy groups.

Would this law also reveal non-governmental sources? If Larry Nichols of Devon Energy dictated a bill to a House staffer, would we know?

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Virtue signal activated

This chap wrote to the Oklahoman because he was presumably grievously aggrieved, or something:

Driving around the Oklahoma City metro area it’s hard not to notice all of the old, expired “rain arrow” license plates. Some of these tags are expired by many months, costing the government revenue. I hope the relevant law enforcement agencies can deal with this in a humane way that upholds the rule of law.

Now I’m tempted to put my “rain arrow” plate back on the car. It bears a properly issued June 2018 expiration.

Quick explanation: I ordered the same number as I’d had on the previous design and the one before that. The Tax Commission, sensibly, sent me the date sticker; they apparently had no idea when the actual plate would ship, and they were unwilling to see a 28-year customer put in legal jeopardy in case some twit wished to register a complaint. Eventually the plate shipped, and I swapped; but since the plates were made in sequence starting with AAA-000, and it was nine months before they got through the letter F, someone who had done similarly with a tag starting with X or Y might still be waiting. Remember when tags from Oklahoma County started with X or Y? I do.

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So basically, another year like any other

“The most perverse weather this side of Baffin Bay,” I once said, and the year now wrapping up gives me no reason to change my mind:

Approximately one of those might have been bearable.

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Lots to love

Is it just me, or is the local real-estate market going slightly crazy? Zillow — yeah, yeah, I know, Zillow — informs me that a house just off the edge of my neighborhood is now renting for $1200 a month.

The inevitable Zestimate on the palatial estate at Surlywood is, of course, risible. At $124,467, it’s down about a thousand from a month ago. And if this place could actually be worth that much, I would have equity actually exceeding the amount left on the house note. Then again, my august insurance vendor, Lloyd’s of Lawton, underwrites it to the tune of $139,000. And the taxman hath declared that property on this here block, without any tedious structures sitting on it, would be worth upwards of $100,000 per acre. I have just over a quarter-acre, so I’m not dazzled by this figure, but hey, I’m not the guy running the real-estate Web site.

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This might take a while

Page 1A in yesterday’s Oklahoman:

A government program to clean up 503 contaminated military sites across Oklahoma will have cost an estimated $677 million by the time it concludes at the end of the century, Department of Defense records show.

Spending two-thirds of a billion dollars is scary enough, but “the end of the century”? Looks like it:

The Clinton-Sherman Air Force Base, which was open for only 15 years in the 1950s and 60s, requires 94 years and $27.7 million to decontaminate, the Defense Department estimates. A skeet range there contains 14 contaminants in the soil and will be polluted until 2093. More than $6 million was spent in 2006 to remove high levels of mercury and other pollutants.

“Incidental exposure is possible to workers at the site, nearby residents and cattle,” the Defense Department wrote at the time, noting the former base was now an industrial park operated by the city of Clinton.

What were they putting in those skeet?

At Altus Air Force Base, cleanup of contamination across 29 hazardous sites is expected to last until 2099, records show. About $63.6 million has already been spent and another $44.7 million is necessary.

Threats to base personnel are reported to be minimal:

“Contamination is on base and measures … are in place to protect on-base workers,” the Pentagon wrote in reference to a spill site containing trichloroethylene, arsenic and 30 other contaminants. “Groundwater is not considered a potential drinking water source (and is) not currently used.”

TCE is nasty (and apparently carcinogenic) stuff. Still, if it’s going to take eight decades to hoover up out of the groundwater, maybe “nasty” isn’t strong enough.

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Oklahoma gardening tips

Ironbear has learned a lot of this stuff the hard way:

I like foxes. I just don’t like ’em in my chickens. Nor do I like raccoons in my garbage cans or in my compost pit. Or coyotes in my kittens. I don’t like rabbits in my rhubarb, either. Rattlesnakes underfoot while you’re weeding can be a pain in the ass, also.

So a .22 is a wonderful and useful thing to have handy for all sorts of stuff for a rural gardener.

(Urban gardening is different, unfortunately. The Bryan County Sheriff’s Department and the Durant and Tishomingo PD tend to frown on shooting varmints in your yard with a .22 in the city limits, darn their black and shriveled hearts, so I’ll probably have to make do with an air rifle later if the need arises here.)

That’s fauna. How about flora?

Never, ever scatter sunflower seeds around out in the drizzle on the bare patches of ground behind the house and barn “because they’re pretty and they’ll cover the bare spots.” Just … don’t.

They’re almost as invasive as canna lilies. I swear: they spit seeds out twenty feet in all directions. We damned near had to bring in crop dusters with napalm and Agent Orange to eradicate the bastards before they took over Ellis County. Litterbox Mountain grew another three inches higher and five feet bigger around by the time I was done.

Sunflowers. Don’t do it. You’ll be sorry. Ringworld is a warning, not a How To manual.

We’ll not mention the fact that Ellis County is over there by the Texas Panhandle, a long way from Durant and/or Tishomingo. Then again, the wisdom our man Ironbear has is the best and most memorable wisdom: you keep moving around until you get it right.

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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:


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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