Archive for Soonerland

Ghouls on film

It’s too damn early for Halloween stuff in the stores. Then again:

Quit ringing my doorbell you little sheets

(Spotted at Walmart in Elk City by @programwitch.)

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Expect no discount

Today in the Oklahoman:

Now on sale at Dollar General Stores

I’m assuming the price of the paper — $1.50 daily, three bucks on Sunday — will remain unchanged, despite the name over the door.

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Where it all comes together

And it’s not so far away, either:

The “Center of the Universe” is a little-known mysterious acoustic phenomenon. If you stand in the middle of the circle and make a noise, the sound is echoed back several times louder than it was made. It’s your own private amplified echo chamber.

As the legend goes, a foghorn could be going off in the center of the circle and those on the outside wouldn’t hear it. This may be an exaggeration, but your voice does sound extremely distorted when heard from outside the circle. It’s an incredible effect.

Explanation: There isn’t one, really:

Like the Lake George Mystery Spot — another acoustical vortex that seems to defy the laws of physics — the effect is thought to be caused by the sound reflecting off a circular wall, in this case a nearby planter. Still, though many people have studied the cause of the odd anomaly there’s no clear consensus. Whatever the causes of this natural sonic distortion may be, it is truly an amazing place.

And it’s nearby, in the unit block of Archer in downtown Tulsa:

A brick path leads to the pedestrian bridge that goes over the railroad tracks, accessible from the corner of W. Archer St. and N. Boston Ave. It is located directly northwest of the old Union Train Depot (now the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame), and immediately north of the Williams Center Tower.

Not a likely place for a foghorn, but what the heck.

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A rare talent indeed

Girl catches fish with teethWhen I saw this on page 11A of yesterday’s Oklahoman, my first thought was “That couldn’t have been easy for her, using her teeth to catch a fish.”

The spiritual ancestor of this story, of course, is the famous Captain Spaulding, the African explorer, from the motion picture Animal Crackers (1930): “One morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got in my pajamas, I don’t know.” I mean, we’re talking an interpretation with eighty-eight years to back it up, and besides, who’s gonna argue with the likes of Groucho Marx? Certainly not I. But no, that’s not what it meant at all:

Pacu fish caught at Fort Cobb Lake

An 11-year-old girl has quite the fish tale: A rare pacu with human-like teeth chomped down on the worm at the end of her line while she was fishing with her grandparents and brother in an Oklahoma lake.

But Kennedy Smith isn’t exaggerating when she describes her catch. Caddo County Game Warden Tyler Howser confirms that the fish was a pacu, a relative of the piranha that is native to South America and can grow up to 50 pounds (22 kilograms).

Kennedy’s fish weighed about 1 pound (half a kilogram), according to Howser and Kennedy’s grandmother Sandra Whaley.

Kennedy says she initially was “really excited” to have caught a fish Sunday in Fort Cobb Lake, about 55 miles (89 kilometers) southwest of Oklahoma City. She was shocked when the fish bit her grandmother, as Whaley removed the hook from its mouth.

How did this wee but scary beastie arrive here?

Howser said the fish was likely purchased as a pet and was released into the lake when it grew too large for the aquarium of the family that owned it.

This is how species become invasive, guys. Don’t do that.

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Still I wonder, who’ll start the rain?

One of the relatively pleasant side effects of tax increases:

Officials say Oklahoma expects to deposit a record $370 million in its fund created to protect the state during economic downturns.

The Tulsa World reports that the state is expected to announce the actual deposit amount for the Rainy Day Fund in August.

Office of Management and Enterprise Services spokeswoman Shelley Zumwalt says the state hasn’t made a deposit to the fund in the last four fiscal years. Oklahoma deposited a record $326 million into the fund in fiscal 2012.

The Rainy Day Fund was created in 1985 for an emergency, to make up for a shortfall in fiscal year collections and to make up revenue if next year’s general revenue fund collections are forecast to be less than the current year. Zumwalt says the fund currently has about $70 million.

Yeah, but some of us remember this from 2011:

Nothing quite as comforting as having almost a quarter-billion to spare. Then again, it wasn’t so long ago — 2009, specifically — that there was almost $600 million stashed away in what is officially called the Constitutional Reserve Fund. Unlike some other governments we could name, Oklahoma isn’t allowed to run a deficit, so the Fund was repeatedly raided, and the balance dropped to $2.03. That’s two dollars and three cents, which won’t get you so much as a footlong cheese coney from Sonic.

There is apparently a statutory cap on the Fund: $756 million.

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As the smoke clears

State Question 788, authorizing the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes, passed by about a 5 to 4 margin, much to the surprise of national pundits, who don’t realize we have running water here, and of local officials, who were hoping to push the whole thing under the rug.

Precinct-level vote counts are now being circulated, and here’s how we did: 804 Yes, 250 No. A solid 76 percent.

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Well, isn’t that specialist

The local VA Medical Center took care of brother James during his last couple of years; he’d rather come up here, he said, than take his chances with whatever Texas had to offer. He did mention, once or twice, that they seemed to be short of doctors, and it turns out he was right:

Under federal employment laws, no federal employee can have a higher salary than the president of the United States, who earns $400,000 per year. That poses challenges for VA hospitals seeking specialists.

Take, for example, cardiothoracic surgeons. The Oklahoma City VA hospital needs four but recently lost one, so they’re recruiting to fill the slot. The problem is that cardiothoracic surgeons can earn far more than $400,000 at private hospitals.

President Trump, so far, has not been actually collecting his salary from the Treasury — he’s been donating it — but that doesn’t make any difference as far as the law is concerned.

One workaround is federal contracts, which can exceed the $400,000 limit. For ophthalmologists, the VA contracts with the Dean McGee Eye Institute at a cost of $600,000. That includes overhead expenses it wouldn’t have to pay if it could hire its own ophthalmologists.

Director Wade Vlosich says it is what it is:

“It is just the way it goes at a VA hospital, because we’ll never reach that salary level for those doctors. So, no, it doesn’t worry me,” Vlosich said. “Areas that worry me are filling inpatient hospital positions, primary care positions and then some of the hard-to-recruit nursing positions, and engineers. Those are really the ones that keep me up at night.”

For what it’s worth, the first psychotherapist I saw this decade moved out of a group practice and into a VA slot. I have no idea how much she was making at either place.

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And they’re out of here

OKCTalk reports that Sears is working on completing the task of abandoning this town:

The last Sears department store in Oklahoma City is set to meet its demise.

On Friday, the company added 10 more stores to their closure list including the 160,000 square foot location at 4400 S. Western.

The move is part of a rapid contraction due [to] flagging sales and revenue. Sears now operates 894 stores compared to 1,980 just five years ago.

The SW 44th and Western Sears store was built in 1965, includes a Sears Automotive Center and sits on 23.66 acres. To the south of the store, Sears leases land to Walmart for a Neighborhood Market which should not be affected.

This will leave only two full-line Sears department stores in the state, one in Norman, one in Tulsa.

At its peak, Sears had stores at NW 23rd and Pennsylvania (closed in 1991), Quail Springs Mall (closed in 2013 and now a Von Maur) and Heritage Park Mall in Midwest City (closed in 2017).

The 23rd and Penn store was actually razed; a McDonalds and a strip mall sit there now.

I remember buying my very first VCR at the 44th and Western Sears store in 1982. Built by Sanyo, it cost something like $750, including (yes!) a wired remote.

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The saga continueth

This story began with what we may assume was a certain amount of animosity:

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.”

Now turn the knob just a trifle higher:

Nick Mahoney, a Republican candidate for House District 12 and a seven-year Wagoner County Deputy Sheriff, was terminated abruptly Monday morning by the Wagoner County Sheriff Chris Elliott. His termination was preceded by statements made by Elliott to fire Mahoney if he did not exit the race for House District 12 along with statements made by Judy Elliott, Wagoner County 911 coordinator and Elliott’s wife that “(Mahoney) running for State House District 12 will have consequences.”

What does District 12 think? We’re not exactly sure:

At the very least, Mahoney is writing a check:

The cost charged to a candidate initiating a recount depends on the counting method that they request: The cost for retabulation conducted by machine is $600 per county. [Section 26-8-111(A)(2).] The cost for a recount conducted by hand is $600 for the first 3,000 ballots to be counted, and $600 for each additional 6,000 ballots, or fraction thereof, per county. [Section 26-8-111(A)(4).] Requests for both retabulations and hand recounts for statewide offices (all those filed with the State Election Board) must include an additional $300 beyond the amounts listed above. [Section 26-8-111(A)(5).]

It shouldn’t take long to recount 4,671 (more or less) ballots.

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Scripps scraps Tulsa cluster

The E. W. Scripps Company, owner of 33 TV stations and the National Spelling Bee, is getting out of the radio business, starting with its five Tulsa stations, one AM (KFAQ 1170) and four FMs (KBEZ 92.9, KVOO 98.5, KXBL 99.5, KHTT 106.9), which are being dealt to Grffin Communications, owner of two TV stations in Oklahoma City and two in Tulsa, for a reported $12.5 million.

“This transaction is a promising start to the sale of our entire radio station group, which was one of the pillars of our strategy for returning value to shareholders. We expect more announcements soon,” said Adam Symson, CEO of Scripps.

Griffin’s television division owns KWTV (9) and KSBI (52) in Oklahoma City, and KOTV (6) and KQCW (19) in Tulsa. Scripps will retain its Tulsa TV station, KJRH (2), named for longtime Scripps Broadcasting chairman Jack R. Howard.

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Where security costs less

The Scott Pruitt stories just keep getting weirder:

Even before his Senate confirmation, former Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt mulled running the EPA at least part-time from his hometown of Tulsa, seeking office space there, emails show.

Pruitt ultimately dropped that plan, the EPA told members of Congress in a letter dated June 19.

“Although the EPA staff did explore whether office space was available in Tulsa, this possibility was ultimately abandoned,” Troy Lyons, associate EPA administrator, said in a letter to members of the House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space and Technology.

House Democrats were unsurprisingly not keen on this idea:

“Establishing a new EPA office in Tulsa may be personally convenient for you, but it seems ethically questionable, professionally unnecessary, and financially unjustified,” House Democrats wrote in a letter to Pruitt in May.

And the agency itself, it appears, had some qualms:

“‘gifted’ or ‘donated’ space could be an optics issue. We can investigate other Federal agencies with office space in Tulsa, or even Congressional space in Tulsa, such as Sen. Inhofe’s district office, but I didn’t want to wave that flag yet. Again, optics. But let me know,” [an] EPA staffer wrote.

Another issue was that the EPA did not want the cost of the new office space to show up as a line item in a congressional bill.

Now there’s the bureaucracy we know and love.

Actually, I like the idea of decentralizing the government generally, but I concede that it would complicate Congressional oversight, in the event that Congress actually wants to oversee anything.

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Dashed nuisance

I was renewing my car registration using the Tax Commission’s CARS (Convenient Auto Renewal System), and got hung up on the page that asks for your insurance company’s NAIC code, which I had, and policy number, which I also had but which it didn’t like. Cut and paste from the insurance company did not work; apparently CARS is not prepared to handle a policy number with a dash, or maybe it was a hyphen, in it. So much for my efforts to avoid typographical errors.

Oh, and the cost of registration seems to have gone up this year, the state having had to jack all manner of revenue sources to get itself out of its self-inflicted budget hole. (Using the site itself incurs a $2 fee, which rises to $2.70 if you have the temerity to present a credit card. Like they’re going to take PayPal or something.)

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The full horror of brush

As only a botanist can tell it:

We have several viney things — some kind of wild grape, a blackberry, and fringed twine-vine, as well as greenbriar, that will grow seemingly inches in a day, and will smother anything they can grow over. And neither the grape nor the blackberry makes very good fruit, and the twinevine smells like teenage-boy sweat-shirts that have been left in the back of a hot car for three weeks. We also have several trees — mulberry, privet — that are planted by birds and that ALSO will not die unless you can dig out the extensive roots, which I can’t. And we have various trashy elm species that have tiny seeds that get everywhere. So it’s an ENDLESS thing and my yard always pretty much looks untidy but I ignore it, mostly, though I worry about the city coming after me.

I know from mulberry. Not only are they seriously persistent, but they go through a protracted period of hurling their own sick brand of fruit, and you dare not step on it because you’ll never get it off your shoes. I started out with just the one; eventually a second one appeared in the back yard, literally right on top of a cottonwood. For now, the two trees continue their tortured embrace, and the battle appears to be a draw. (There’s an evergreen of some sort just up the fenceline, which so far has refused to get involved.)

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Perhaps grudging satisfaction

Nobody, I suspect, really likes property taxes. But some folks have a greater tolerance for them than you might think.

There are about 330,000 parcels of land in Oklahoma County. The Assessor’s office puts out fresh valuations every spring; once they’re out, there’s a 30-day appeal period, and under the law, any property owner may file an appeal. Few do:

The Oklahoma County Assessor’s Office said Monday that it had a record low number of appeals of property values set by the office this year — fewer than 150, or a rate of 0.0007 percent of nearly 200,000 property owners with a change in value.

Average county appeal rates range from 6 percent to 12 percent, “and it appears Oklahoma County has the lowest rate of appeals in the more than 3,000 counties in the U.S.,” said Larry Stein, chief deputy assessor.

It doesn’t hurt that there are strong cap laws in place, to keep valuations from jumping upward at the expense of longtime owners, and that the county in recent years has kept actual tax rates from rising more than a few mills; my tax bill has been within a grocery bag of $900 for several years, and is not likely to change much this year.

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Bars unpassed

More than one percent of the state’s population is in the slammer:

Oklahoma’s incarceration rate is 1,079 per 100,000 people, leading the nation after previously sitting at No. 2, according to the Prison Policy Initiative. Louisiana, which previously held the top spot, has an incarceration rate of 1,052 per 100,000 people.

It wouldn’t be difficult to find several chaps who probably should never, ever be let out. But then you have folks like this:

We take these people who were selling some grass or their leftover pain pill prescription and we throw them into a camp for several years that is populated only with felons. You sleep with felons and you shower with felons and the only people you have to talk to all day are felons. Is it really so remarkable that after being thrown into a criminal frat house for a few years, some people might have more criminal tendencies when they leave than when they enter? And then after they leave, they are met at every turn with the brand of being an ex-felon, making it hard to get a job or do things we take for granted. So we put someone away in a training camp for criminals for a few years, and then make it really, really hard for them to find good paying ways to support themselves afterward, and we are surprised they go back to crime?

I have a guy, who I won’t name for privacy reasons, who works for me in Arizona. Over 10 years ago, barely over 18, he was convicted of some non-violent drug crimes and locked away. Had I done the same things in my youth, my rich dad likely would have kept me out of jail but as a poor Hispanic in the world of Sheriff Joe’s Phoenix, he went to jail. Over ten plus years later, he had a stable marriage and had his civil rights restored, but was still mostly doing minimum wage labor. He has been a good, reliable maintenance person at one of our campgrounds, in a job where he could work with his wife. One day a customer got in some sort of dispute with this man’s wife, looked him up online, and found he had a prison record. This customer then started sending me messages that I must fire this person immediately or else this customer would file suit against us for creating a dangerous environment for her. When I refused, she then started posting yard signs around town that we hired felons and telling people on social media that they needed to shun our maintenance guy in any number of ways and accusing him of running a narcotics ring out of the campground.

If we must lock up people for ridiculous lengths of time, let us start with the doxxers — after exposing everything from their Mastercard balance to the color of their shorts.

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Ah, sweet Missus Ree

Remember when Ree Drummond, the Pioneer Woman, was just a blogger?

That was then. This is, um, wow:

I note in passing that Drummond’s Wikipedia page is about three times the size of Pawhuska’s.

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Not really poaching

But the incentives are considerable:

The Ed Biz is a bit different in Texas: Independent School Districts — all but one are so designated — fall under the jurisdiction of the Texas Education Agency, but TEA does not set salaries and no longer mandates specific textbooks.

Says the Fort Worth district about the billboards:

The passion and concern for children recently demonstrated by thousands of Oklahoma teachers who rallied at the state capital are exactly the attributes Fort Worth ISD wants for our classroom leaders.

Fort Worth Independent School District is a vibrant, growing urban district of 86,000 students, 143 campuses and more than 10,000 employees. Our new teacher starting salary is $52,000. The District is committed to a plan of improving early years literacy, achieving significant success in middle years math, and ensuring that ALL students are prepared for college, career and community leadership.

I assume that FWISD faces the same challenges as other urban school districts: they’re not all that rich.

And the Tulsa World’s Sam Hardiman notes:


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That was a shoe you heard

Presumably, the second such shoe. This was the first one, last month:

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.”

Apparently McDugle still has friends in that neck of the woods. From last night’s email:

Nick Mahoney, a Republican candidate for House District 12 and a seven-year Wagoner County Deputy Sheriff, was terminated abruptly Monday morning by the Wagoner County Sheriff Chris Elliott. His termination was preceded by statements made by Elliott to fire Mahoney if he did not exit the race for House District 12 along with statements made by Judy Elliott, Wagoner County 911 coordinator and Elliott’s wife that “(Mahoney) running for State House District 12 will have consequences.”

“When I shared my intentions to run for State House District 12 to Sheriff Elliott last January, he initially indicated that he wished me the best luck, but that he was supporting Kevin McDugle, my opponent in the State House District 12 race,” said Mahoney. “I assured him that I would continue to perform my duties as expected and not let the campaign interfere with my job as a deputy sheriff and he in-kind wished me luck in my race.”

What next? Just what you think:

Mahoney has retained legal counsel and is considering all legal options, including a wrongful termination lawsuit. They are looking into the possible ethics violations for the Sheriff’s inappropriate actions to influence an election. “I am determined now more than ever in my campaign for State House District 12,” said Mahoney. “It just goes to show how far Sheriff Elliott will go to help my opponent retain power.”

And McDugle? One of the Democratic candidates has already drawn a bead on him:

After state Rep. Kevin McDugle, R-Broken Arrow, said Tuesday [10 April] that he didn’t think protesting teachers were setting a good example for students, a northeast Oklahoma teacher announced plans to run against him.

Rep. Kevin McDugle, R-Broken Arrow, said in a since-deleted Facebook Live post that he would not vote “for another stinking (education) measure when they’re acting the way they’re acting.”

Cyndi Ralston, a Haskell Public Schools teacher who has been an educator for 30 years, announced on her social media accounts Tuesday afternoon that she is running as a Democrat to represent the people of District 12.

I can’t remember there ever being this much interest in District 12, out in the eastern Tulsa exurbs.

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The revolving door will not be slowed

From what you know about these guys, could you possibly have anticipated anything else?

Oklahoma legislators have declared that what they do once they leave state service is none of a watchdog agency’s business.

The Oklahoma Ethics Commission in February voted unanimously to bar legislators and other elected state officials from becoming lobbyists during their first two years out of office. It also voted to put the restriction on departing state agency heads.

On Wednesday, both the House and the Senate rejected those ethics rules on grounds the Ethics Commission had overstepped its bounds.

And Governor Fallin, about to run up against term limits, of course agreed.

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Everything is not fine

Tucked into page 2A of the Sunday paper, this little factoid:

A ticket from a trooper for speeding one to 10 miles over the limit will now cost a driver $224.50, according to Oklahoma County court records. The actual fine is only $10 of the total.

Hardly seems worth the bother to pull anyone over. The explanation:

“The Oklahoma Highway Patrol is not a revenue-generating agency. The … mission is to ensure safe roadways,” said Gary James, general counsel of the Oklahoma State Troopers Association. The attorney said ticket costs have steadily increased over the years as legislators have added fee after fee “to fund state government.”

And if there’s one thing this state loves, it’s a fee. Oklahoma government has long run on the principle established by Louisiana Senator Russell B. Long: “Don’t tax you, don’t tax me — tax that man behind the tree.” A fee, which technically isn’t a tax at all, fits perfectly into that scheme.

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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.

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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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