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Two Reporters Named Nation’s Best

The Washington Post has named The Oklahoman’s Chris Casteel and Sean Murphy of The Associated Press among the nation’s best political reporters.


McCarville: Kern’s Outrageous Bill

 capitolself

Mike McCarville’s Opinion

Which is the more disappointing: Rep. Sally Kern’s outrageous bill, or Governor Fallin’s weak-kneed response to it?

Kern’s bill would allow restaurants to refuse to allow service to gays and lesbians just because they are…gay and lesbian.

House Bill 1597 would allow businesses to refuse service “to any lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender person, group or association,” and be immune from civil liability. I guess it could be worse; it could say “to any black (or Jewish, or Catholic, or Gypsy) lesbian….”

Regular readers will know I am no advocate of the alternative life style.

They also know, I hope, that unfairness or the perception of it drives me nuts. As in unequal pay for women. As in stupid administrative rules in our schools. As in discrimination against those of color or ethnicity.

kernI have no doubt of Sally Kern’s devotion to the country, nor the depth of her beliefs.

This proposal, however, is one that stinks; it is something one might expect in Nazi Germany. Oh…it did happen there, didn’t it?

Enough of the hate, Rep. Kern.

Her proposal should be given the heave-ho, and by her. Now.

As to the governor’s refusal to give an opinion…not the stance of a strong leader. Disappointing, the act of a person without a strong backbone, or a sense of outrage.


Oklahoman Cuts Staff Again

The Oklahoman has cut its staff again: http://www.thelostogle.com/2015/01/28/the-oklahoman-lays-off-18-employees-newsroom-hit-hard/


OU Says Stadium Expansion ‘Shovel ready’

owenfield

UPDATE: There’s word from OU today that this report is in error; the expansion is reported to be “shovel ready.”University of Oklahoma President David Boren will delay the football program’s expansion and stadium renovation according to multiple sources.

SoonerScoop.com has learned members of the administration were told of the plans to postpone construction on the first phase of a proposed $370 million renovation project to Oklahoma’s Memorial Stadium and the Barry Switzer Center just last week.

Those plans were relayed to contractors and architects earlier this week.

Sources tell us the reasons behind the postponement are “market related.” That has mostly to do with the current economic climate where oil prices have fallen drastically and stockpiles have built up to record highs in the U.S.

Getty Images
David Boren and Bob Stoops pose for pictures after the 2014 Sugar Bowl

Another source told SoonerScoop.com that the current climate makes stadium expansion “unrealistic” at this point in time.Bob Stoops’ Sooners are also coming off one of their most disappointing seasons in his 16 years in Norman after losing to Clemson 40-6 in the Russell Athletic Bowl, and the fundraising arm of the university has had difficulty securing financial commitments for new stadium suites which were to be a part of the new renovations.

A large portion of the revenue stream the university needed for the renovations were going to come from the selling of those suites.

But sources indicate performance on the field has very little to do with this postponement.

“The football outlook has barely entered into the discussion at all,” said a source “It seems everyone knows upgrades like this are important in keeping us competitive.”

Wednesday, President Boren is in Lawton, for a scheduled Board of Regents meeting. According to the agenda, the university is not scheduled to discuss any matters related to securing bonds for the football program’s renovations.

Instead, the University will move forward with another major project that is said to be near and dear to President Boren’s heart: The new Residential College.

The Board of Regents are set to secure over $80 million in bonds for the construction of the new Residential College facility which will be built just south of the stadium and just west of Headington Hall.

You can see an animation of the proposed facility here.

The Residential College is a concept created at Oxford University and Cambridge University in the UK.

According to a press release by the University of Oklahoma, “the new housing facilities will be designed as living/learning communities that would, by their nature, build strong communities and identities and become the cornerstone of the undergraduate experience. They will be patterned on those at Harvard, Yale, Oxford and Cambridge.”

The new housing will accommodate approximately 600 students and contain a dining hall, faculty housing, student lounge areas and other amenities.

Sources told SoonerScoop.com President Boren could have secured bonds and started the south endzone renovation this year. But he chose instead to focus his efforts on the Residential College.

The regents will also secure $25 million in bonds to build a new parking garage as the Residential College will result in lost parking near the football stadium.

All-told, Boren will secure $125 million in bonds for new projects next to Lindsay and Jenkins, but none of that money will be used to upgrade OU’s football facilities.

Sources indicate to SoonerScoop.com that the plans will move forward for the football facilities, but those renovations are expected to be postponed for at least another year after Boren decided to secure financing for other projects.

SoonerScoop.com’s Eddie Radosevich and RJ Young are in Lawton attending the regents meeting and we hope to hear reaction from President Boren following today’s meeting. We will update this story as we continue to receive more information.

- See more at: https://oklahoma.rivals.com/content.asp?CID=1730619#sthash.n95pJpAN.dpuf


Fallin Sidesteps Gay Discrimination Question

legislationGovernor Fallin declined to directly answer a question about restaurants serving gays and lesbians: http://www.tulsaworld.com/news/capitol_report/gov-mary-fallin-sidesteps-question-on-discrimination-against-gays/article_9c486ca7-c402-5a66-9de8-2c0c874cabce.html


Where Have We Heard This Before?

Governor Fallin says state agency leaders should get ready for budget cuts: http://newsok.com/fallin-agencies-should-prepare-for-potential-cutbacks/article/5388523


Kenneth Corn: Reform The State Spending Process

cornKenneth Corn

Oklahoma has been blessed with resources that boost our economy. For most of modern history, the oil and gas industry has been one of the bedrock industries building our state and providing good jobs to thousands of Oklahomans. While it has been a blessing, the revenue generated has been a curse for the Oklahoma Legislature.

When the oil patch is booming, the Legislature can’t resist the temptation of gross production revenue as it makes state budget decisions.Spending grows with new programs created and old one expanded. More stable revenue streams are reduced and supplanted with the milk and honey from the oil patch. At the Capitol, legislators seem to believe that the revenue will continue to flow forever.

Unfortunately, we’ve been here before. In the 1980s, the Legislature cut revenue and increased spending with the oil boom. When the energy cycle went bust, Oklahoma was forced to raise taxes dramatically and reduced spending to core services which crippled our state. It was a crisis that Oklahoma managed to rebound from in the late 1990s only to see the same thing happen again in 2002-2003 when we faced a $427 million shortfall. Fast forward to present day, Oklahoma again faces such a fiscal crisis due to our state’s overreliance on gross production revenue in our state’s budget.

In 2007, I introduced a constitutional amendment that would stabilize the state budget by stopping lawmakers from continuing roller coaster budgeting with gross production revenue. Its provisions were simple. For yearly budgeting, it would have required the certification of a 10-year average of gross production tax revenue from oil and natural gas. It would also have limited Legislative appropriation of revenue above that average to one-time expenditures such as infrastructure needs or even a tax rebate to taxpayers. This common-sense approach to our budgeting died because of politicians’’ desire to approve unrealistic fiscal policies and increased spending that is now returning to haunt our state.

Oklahoma must learn from her past. We cannot keep repeating the same mistakes and expect a different result. It’s time for the Legislature to give the people of Oklahoma a chance to change our budgeting process through a constitutional amendment that will halt the see-saw spending and bring greater stability to our state.

Kenneth Corn is a former state senator who chaired a subcommittee on Appropriations and Budget


Social Media: What He/She Said…Gary Jones Says Complete Government Reform Is Needed

jones1Gary  Jones on Facebook

At a conference a couple of years ago someone described our job as auditors was to “speak truth to power.” While I have tried to do that I have come to the conclusion that most in government only hear what they want to hear.

This weekend while attending the Iowa Freedom Summit and listening to about a dozen presidential hopefuls, one comment made really struck a cord. Carly Fiorina, former CEO of Hewlett Packard said we must fundamental reform government.

After being involved in government myself for almost a decade, I’m in complete agreement. Not small incremental change but complete reform. What we are doing is not working!


Dan Boren Won’t Rule Out Future Governor’s Race

borenMick Hinton
Norman Transcript

When Dan Boren was asked whether he might some day run for Oklahoma governor like his father, he said Tuesday, “I wouldn’t rule it out.”

Boren, a former U.S. representative from Oklahoma, addressed older students attending a University of Oklahoma session about what it was like being part of three generations of Borens who had each served as Democrat politicians.

The speaker’s comment about a governor’s race drew instant applause from about 130 people attending the event when he opined about the future.

Dan Boren’s father is OU President David Boren, a former Oklahoma governor and also a former U.S. Senator.

President Boren sat in the front row of the classroom and did not speak until his son finished his morning address.

As the OU president arrived a little late, Dan Boren chuckled, “Now, I am the Boren who is never late.”

The younger Boren also talked about how it was being the grandson of former U.S. Representative Lyle Boren, of Seminole. Grandfather Lyle was a U.S. congressman from 1937 to 1947.

David Boren, 73, served as Oklahoma governor from 1975 to 1979. He was a U.S. senator from 1979 to 1994. He also served as a state House member beginning in 1967 while still a law student at OU.

In 2017, David Boren will have completed 50 years of public service.

Dan, 41, now serves as president of corporate development for the Chickasaw Indian Nation. He and his wife, Andrea, live in Edmond with their two children, Janna and Hunter.

Boren was asked about his view on term limits, which state legislators have to follow. He said term limits should not be required of U.S. congressmen because they can be voted out of office by their constituency.

Dan Boren said he decided to term limit himself when he gave up the post after eight years of service. He noted that being home with his wife and children every day was preferable.

He commented that in Congress, there is the “hot house” with all members elected every two years. With U.S. senators serving six-year terms, they are the more deliberative body that helps the public.

Boren acknowledged that he is still a board member of the National Rifle Association, which was backed by his constituency when he was in Congress.

Dan said there are occasions when he and his father have disagreed on issues.

He noted that he and his father “have had very interesting conversations” about the NRA and if and when guns should be allowed for constituents.

After young Boren’s address, he and his father were asked about whether there could ever be an Independent elected as president.

OU President Boren noted that in Oklahoma and elsewhere in the nation, more are registering as Independents.

Noting that more than 200,000 are registered Independent in Oklahoma, Boren said he thinks the law should be changed so everyone, including Independents, could vote in primary races.

Dan said he also supports a movement toward allowing Independents to vote in primaries.

The younger Boren noted that it has been very interesting being the son of the OU president.

“Toby Keith endorsed me,” Dan Boren said.

He noted that in a McAlester gathering of about 800 people, Keith commented, “You know what I like about Dan Boren? He can always pick up the phone and call his dad.”


Fallin Seeks Veterans Agency Change

There’s a report that Governor Fallin wants changes in the agency dealing with military veterans: http://oklahomawatch.org/2015/01/26/governor-seeking-to-change-leadership-of-state-veterans-agency/


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